This past Monday night No More Secrets (NMS) held our first ever Graduation on Zoom. Just like all high school, college, law school, med school, and every other kind of completion ceremony in the country, this year, 2020 had to be improvised. The virus, like the disease of addiction, is an equal opportunity destroyer. No one gets out unscathed.
At the end of April, we held one of our five annual movie nights and that one was our first on Zoom. I had a little hope that we might all be together in June for the graduation, but I was not holding my breath. The Zoom movie night allowed me to practice my new tech skills with the help of Scott E. we had a chat followed by a Netflix Party followed by a wrap up conversation, so I had some sense that this would work.
The set up was the same format, the first Zoom chat was in fact our graduation where we honored the seven men who crossed the finish line bring our NMS Alumni total to 87. It is a very select membership. Getting well from sex and love addiction is no easy task. Dealing with the intimacy disorder is even harder. Over the course of four years there were a total of seventeen men who sat in that circle. As I always say, NMS is not for the faint of heart. I’m proud of that 42% efficacy rate. In this industry it’s hard to match.
This graduation would have been special even if we were not in the midst of a pandemic. This graduation, my twentieth was going to be my last. After twenty years of sitting in circles with men I’m calling it a day, passing the torch, so this group of men and this graduation was always going to be different and special.
The age range of seven men today is 22 to 50 years of age. The average age is thirty six. Three of the men are dads totaling ten children, three of the children are adults now, all were minors when we started, and one is still in pre-school and that child was a newborn when the group started. Four of the seven men came in with partners [three were married]. Of the three marriages, two ended in divorce and the one non marriage relationship ended. There is always collateral damage with this illness. Of the four partners only two participated in any reconciliation/recovery process. Only one of those relationships survived. Only two of the seven are homeowners.
Two of the seven are African-American which is an oddity in this city and with this addiction. That’s a conversation for a later day. Four were born in the Seattle area, one was born in California, one in New York and one in Texas. One of the men came in with seven years in Narcotics Anonymous (NA), one with double digits Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) and one whose parents had been in recovery since he was eight. Two would qualify as blue collar and one was a son of immigrants. Every group we have ever had has over the course of the group’s life chosen a nickname for their group. This group called themselves “Mix Nuts.”
Five of the men were in career type jobs and today one of them had to change his career for his sobriety and, he did. Two of the younger men went back to school and one graduated from the University of Washington and is now on a professional career path and the other will finish U.W. in Dec 2020. During the four years, three went to in-patient treatment and four went to The Meadows in Arizona for a week of early childhood trauma work. All seven at some point were participating in Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), had or have sponsors and either did or are still doing written 12 Step work. This recovery is labor intensive, it is definitely not “take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”
As a group we met with me 147 times in four years for an average of three+ hours a group session. That comes out to close to 600 total hours spent in a room with me. Winter, spring, summer, and fall. In addition they had forty-eight bye nights where they got together on their own for fun and fellowship. That’s bowling, laser tag, going out to eat or anything else that connected them. And finally they had twenty movie nights, four summer picnics, four holiday parties, and four baseball games that connected them to the other three ongoing NMS groups and all our Alumni. Do the math! It takes a village to fix an addict.
All I can say as I bring my group career to a close is that I genuinely enjoyed my time and journey with these men. It has been an honor and a privilege to watch them heal and start a new chapter in their lives.
I cannot wait to see all the blessing that await these men. Finishing school, getting careers, healthy dating, getting married, having babies, buying homes, going on vacations, watching kids go off to college and keeping lifelong men friends. From my lips to Gods ears!
If you want what these men have, contact me. We still have three working groups and our program is not going away. As I always say: misery is optional.