The first sober escort I ever met was Maria. She was a spunky, sexy brunette who attended my home group. She worked a good program and still had a hard time staying sober for more than a few months at a time. Maria felt prostitution was an impediment to her sobriety and it was her wish to quit the business someday soon. I eventually lost track of her so I have no idea if she ever did quit prostitution nor do I know if she was able to sustain any long-term sobriety.
But I certainly recall the resistance I felt inside myself when some members of twelve step recovery assumed that certain professions or sexual orientations are inconsistent with a life of sobriety. For me, tradition ten, which states “we have no opinion on outside issues,” created the safety I needed in order to get sober.
Similarly, “God as we understood Him,” the central theme communicated in the twelve steps, gave me the psychic space I needed to recover. Like others in twelve step groups, I learned that forming a conscious contact with God or my Higher Power, was a deeply personal journey which was not only encouraged, but created a key distinction between twelve step programs and religion.
Yet, I often encountered judgmental and opinionated people in meetings who were not shy about sharing their version of God, their take on “sin,” and their personal preferences when it came to what constitutes “appropriate” sexual behavior. It seemed that although the program expressed “no opinion on outside issues,” members often felt free to express their opinions about all sorts of topics.
Sex in particular seemed to generate a great deal of pressure for conformity, so much so that some gay and lesbian individuals were either kicked out of a given recovery group or so thoroughly harassed for being gay that they felt they had to leave the group.
Having spent my childhood and adolescence in a conservative religious cult, I knew the damage which shame and dogma can inflict. My sobriety had to be sourced in something other than peer pressure and shame based thinking.
Therefore, I fully intended to find a God of my understanding, develop a conscious contact, work the steps, practice the principles in all my affairs and then do my best to follow where my Higher Power directed me. And I…