13th Stepping

Overstepping boundaries

“I am a [middle-aged] woman. The first time I walked through the door of an SAA meeting was [about five years ago]. It was a Sunday afternoon, and the meeting was inside of a church. I was running 15 minutes late because I had gotten lost. When I walked into the room, it was a group of 6 men, having an open, around-the-table cross-talking discussion about “how much masturbation is normal?”

I was immediately sickened, and my heart sank. That was certainly not a conversation that I was willing to participate in.
I sat quietly and listened. I’d been in 12-Step programs before, and had attended countless meetings … but, never in my life had I heard such inappropriate banter going on “as an open discussion” at a meeting before. My first thought was: “Is THIS what SAA meetings are like?? OMG – It CAN’T be!!!”

I’d been in healthy meetings before, and this wasn’t one of them. BUT, knowing that it’s recommended to attend 6 meetings before deciding whether I belong there or not, I continued going. I had the courage to say something about how the format of this discussion was inappropriate, and stayed after to talk with the moderator about it.

The 2nd time I went, after the meeting ended, one of the guys walked beside me, making small talk as we exited the church heading out to our cars in the parking lot. He asked me for my phone number. When I told him that I was uncomfortable giving it, that I’d just ended a relationship, and that I was confused, and unsure whether that would be a good idea, he comforted me by saying “I’m just offering to be your friend, that’s all.” I believed him, so I gave him my number.

To make a long story short, within two weeks, he had manipulated me into “acting out” with him. I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who to tell. I didn’t know even if I’d told someone whether they’d care, or do anything about it. I felt demoralized, hopeless, untrusting, scared, and alone. I was consumed with shame, and remorse, disgust toward him, disgust toward myself. Humiliated. Even though I didn’t like what was happening, I was powerless to stop it. I acted out with the guy several more times, and I kept going to the meeting because I knew that I needed help.”

Women 13th Step men too

It is not always a man who behaves in these ways. Women act inappropriately too.


It is important that we work out our boundaries, state them, and keep them. This is difficult when we first come in to recovery. We spent years crossing our boundaries and our disease getting worse.

Once we start working the Steps we recognise our behaviours and learn to set out boundaries.

If you don’t feel comfortable, you can walk away, you can delete phone numbers and block people. You don’t have to give a reason.

If someone states their boundaries, it is essential that you respect them.

If we keep crossing our own, or others’ boundaries we cannot stay sober.

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