COSA Revisited

anxiety.womanWell, I went to my third COSA meeting this week and I had to let the experience roll around in my head for a few days before I wrote this post.

This particular COSA group has just started a Healthy Intimate Relationships group that meets right after the COSA meeting once a month. That group met this week. In the HIR group the men from the SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) group that meets downstairs in the same building come upstairs and join us after our COSA meeting ends. The purpose, I thought, was to share ideas on improving relationships.

Now, I’m not sure where the format came from (remember, these groups don’t allow any cross talk–so how the hell are we supposed to know what’s going on?), but we closed our COSA meeting and then opened it again with the men present. This made no sense to me or my husband, because, besides wasting all that time with the readings and formalities, Sex Addicts do not belong in a closed COSA meeting, which the leader stated it was. But, we both sat and listened and asked and answered questions, and, were both  befuddled when we left. Now, here is my opinion on both COSA and the HIR meeting:

  • These meetings are much too stilted and formal. We were actually told at the beginning of the HIR meeting to raise our hands to ask a question–how demeaning and condescending.
  • Only 3 responses were allowed to each question (Why?)
  • No cross talk was allowed. Again, why? This was supposed to be a group discussion, I thought.
  • A spouse could not respond to their partners questions (to avoid arguments we were told–I guess we’re not grown up enough to act like adults)
  • The HIR meeting was nothing more than a COSA meeting with the spouses present, which both my husband and I felt was highly inappropriate.
  • The questions and answers did not address how to improve relationships, it was more generic and share-like.

I just don’t see the value of either of these meetings. Humans need support, and the most common method of support is talking. To require formal sharing with no cross talk (responses) just makes no sense to me at all.

The 12 step model has been around for over 50 years and has not changed or evolved since it’s inception for Alcoholics. I just don’t know how it has become the model for spouses and partners of addicts who need support, comfort, advice and direction. I still feel that a support group for spouses and partners of Sex Addicts should be an open discussion forum. What do you think?

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow. ~ Anais Nin

Coming Soon…Are 12 step groups cults?

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Responses

  1. Margaux, Thanks again for your always insightful comments, I do enjoy hearing from you. I am curious as to how you came to your conclusions about the reasons for the vagueness of the traditions and the rules against cross talk. I have been doing research on the history of the 12 steps for my book and I have not come across that sort of opinion.

    It is a fact that Alcoholics Anonymous, which forms the basis for all 12 step groups, was based upon an early 20th century evangelical movement called the Oxford Group and the 12 steps are simply Bill Wilson’s, wordy rewrite of the 6 practices of the Oxford Group.

    That being said, I am still perplexed over the rule of and reason for no cross talk in all of the offshoots of AA, as feedback is one of the most important problem solving tools us humans have.

    To say that the 12 step rules are purposely vague in order to foster contemplation is puzzling. It is well known that inquiry and debate between individuals, and asking and answering questions stimulates rational thinking, but vagueness only causes confusion. To say that this was done purposefully makes it sound rather like a cruel joke.

    I’ll continue sharing my research and ideas, and always appreciate your input. Take care and be safe.

  2. Margaux, Thank you so much for your description of your experiences with 12 steps. I understand why it means so much to you and in the end–all that matters is that it works!

    12 steps may not be the right place for me now, or even ever, but it does work for many and–if it only helps one person then it is worthwhile.

    Please keep me posted on your journey and I will keep you in my thoughts.

  3. 12 steps may not be the right place for me now, or even ever, but it does work for many and–if it only helps one person then it is worthwhile.

    Hi Joann,
    I have been following along many blogs, and silently observing your blog and writings. I love your clear and concise communication of your values, standards and your points of views on the world of SA. I am also intrigued and impressed by your desire to write a book and offer much support to the “SA’s spouses, partners and persons in a relationship to a SA. I do have the same occurring, other than (“Mending A Shattered Heart” – which was vastly useful and more inclined to educated us on world of SA disease, and validate the “co-addict”) there isn’t vast amounts of material, books for supporting the emotional states, my experiences emotionally of what I am working thru, aspects of myself, my journey of pain vs the how and whys SA disease effect the other….etc…
    I wanted to offer a suggestion, support of “something I am noticing in the way of expressing your points of view” about steps, programs, and your strong view of codependent or coaddict. I am clear you are committed to making a difference, and your book, courage is important and much needed.
    I certainly hope you do not hear this in a way of criticism, my intention is offer a view to consider – you may be limiting your audience vs embracing us all…..
    SO here is what I want to say and what I have noticed in your story – sharing.
    It occurs to me, you are strong, you have had or have been able to access power for yourself with boundaries with your husband, self, and I love your sense of “self” that is not wanting to entertain the fluff of codependency, coaddict, cosa, coda, s-anon – and what I am meaning of fluff is: these terms, programs are valid, real, and important – but NOT there to grant the “TRUTH” like a this “IS YOU” ideology. Putting something in a box and handing it over saying here this is the only way. Goodness, as I am trying to express my words, and the point being of invalidating a program or a persons progress, healing tools that gave them life or breathe and air – hope I am not doing that by admitting what I mean to express.
    But here is what I notice – in expressing your displeasure about the steps, it has the potential to “kill off” or invalidate the recipient or recipients of your audience – I am guessing one of the reasons for writing and offering support to this world. To offer your learnings in dealing with the tragedy.

    I assert you, will be getting lots of comments and or examples of: me, others – expressing what the steps did for us, a lot of trying to convince you or offer evidence why it works, etc. Nothing wrong, but it occurs you are very clear about your choice, and your choice is valid. Whether you consider yourself a codependent, or coaddict or neither I think it’s impossible to be in a relationship with a Sex Addict and have not acquire, obtain, demonstrates some “characteristics of these certain behaviors of codependency/coaddict”, lacking boundaries, self esteem, contributing to a SA destructive path in some form. Never a blame or ticket to offer any justifications ever of a SA’s actions. Whatever box it gets put in – the partner, me helped feed his disease…
    It looks like you have found your voice, your strength, to put solid boundaries, adhere to them in your recovery with your SA H (and from what I read very promising and great victories had, I am so happy for you) and truly I am not doing my “codie” thing of want to “save” and I really feel I want to contribute and hope I do. It doesn’t look like you found those powers thru cosa, coda as some of the ways other partners/spouses of SA’s have. It sounds like those were not needed in your deciding factors to lay down the law’s in which work for you in your relationship – and truly inspiring and amazing for you…
    A perspective of the steps or programs or what others may feel the need to pull forth for them in the most darkest, painful, time of betrayal, lives ruined, to get themselves thru the triangle of this web of destruction – if it’s the steps? great that had them see power and freedom, if it is the book? and realizing codependency? is their core granting themselves freedom and power, excellent, if it music, songs, groups, forums? – whatever they choose to label, give thanks acknowledgment too God, HP and so on and so on.
    When you lived in this warped painful experience, whatever the credit or light one needs to give to, and hold on to: (declaring codependency, coaddict, 12 step, HP, GOD – let them have it, especially in some of their fragile states – have found something tangible to hold on to, some form of certainty/ownership – in the crazy wrath of a SA.)
    It is inspiring, your expressing yourself with clarity, rigor, of what works for you – truly amazing, and you might lose people when expressing the “wrongs” or imperfections, opinions of programs, steps that can only land on others as invalidation of their choices, journey, triumphs, breakthroughs etc.
    An I am sure this is not your intention, and it might be happening to some, not all. I can speak for anyone but myself, but I am aware the power of communication and delivery.
    I of course, am just coming to the realization of other’s rights to choose for self – limiting my judgements.. if you will.

    Personally, I have only done steps with Coda (on 4), and whether you decided to “try on steps” as research for your or not – I think you maybe doing a disservice to your book and the contribution it could offer others.
    I have done numerous programs, over 6 years of diligently reviewing “self” with fundamentals of integrity, responsibility of “self” accountability of self and others, communication programs, leadership programs – I am well trained into getting into “my part” of responsibility. And to be frank – I am blown away what other insights about myself the steps have offered to this time. I don’t think they can fix anything, no right, wrong way and certainly just part of the packages of tools in the journey of recovery, they just open the curtains, take a gander inside and view something that may have been a blind-spot – or under cover that can offer power in a new way. (of course I have no idea about cosa side of steps – but believe in the intention of discovery) This is not another email of evidence like “said” to attempt for you to consider steps, by any means.
    In reading something about your mingle meeting after the cosa with the then mixed group all – husband’s and partners – is extremely odd to me the group would do that – and quite frankly I think damaging to the healing process – that is way to confusing and in my humble opinion offering weird “messaging” to the brain. but to each is own – I can assert great transformation happening for all involved, but I am not sure I would like that path for the breakthrough.

    So I hope my communication finds an opening and offering of sincere contribution.

    in noting your writing “or even ever, ”
    I hope that door of “even ever” can be ajar, a slight crack if you will? And it’s not about the steps per-say, as it is “the more room “one expends” – the more “one” has the ability to contribute – limitlessly!!”
    C

  4. Hi C…,

    I am still always amazed at the depth of empathy for others that women in crisis exhibit. Even when overwhelmed by their own life altering issues they manage to reach out and comfort each other. You are a perfect example of that compassion and I thank you for taking the time to offer such a thoughtful critique softened with such kind compliments.

    I have spent several days reading over your suggestions and comments as well as reading through your blog. You are right–I am committed to making a difference and helping others to recover from the trauma of discovering that someone they love is a Sex Addict. It is possible that some may be put off by my opinions of 12 steps, but this is certainly not a criticism of the participants–simply my personal thoughts about the philosophy. 12 steps may be a wonderful starting point for spouses and partners of Sex Addicts and in most areas it may be the only option available; but I do feel that there must be so much more.

    So, I have spent some time focusing on what my goals are and what I would like to see available. I am working on a post of these ideas–I hope you will comment.

    JoAnn

  5. Hi JoAnn,

    I just posted on SA Codies group – realizing I diverted your initial efforts of discussing COSA – and realized I was an asshole. Then shot over to this page – to ask you to delete my “arrogant” comment. To much surprise, I am glad my message of kindness and love got expressed in my comment – I thought maybe it landed as bashing you or invalidating your opinions. I am relieved, I didn’t offend you.
    I am so present – for myself to embrace anyone recovering from the impacts of a SA. Whether they stay together or not, if anyone is engaging with an active Sex Addict – it’s a painful behaviors, whatever way we slice it.
    I believe you are committed to making a difference, and brave to take on the challenge, and that this book is a gift for all, you contributing….
    And come hell or high water – you find whatever is out there, available to you offering any form of support, guidance, assistance, inspiration, wisdom, rocks, beads, diamonds, cards, leafs, sand, water – I think you get my point.
    I believe there is no wrong or right way to deal with this or life, for that matter.
    In my findings, our words are powerful and have many ways to impact people, all people. Our world exist in/thru language, descriptions, so the opportunity is to build someone up, or take them down, empower or disempower.
    To most people that have acquired a heathy relationship within, wouldn’t be debunked by someone’s opinions.
    But as a “codie” or anyone, for that matter dealing with an addict, has participated in lies, betrayal, misguided intentions, chipping slowly away at the recipients inner radar of “truth” of their reality.
    So as my codie inside: I come to notice just how much I gave away sense of self for outside validations of my feelings, hurts pains. Of course, this route was set long before meeting my SA – it just got smashed to smithereens – with the dysfunctional SA cycle. Hence, I realized how important over the last few months to notice this about myself, the outer need of approval for my experiences. And understanding how real the raw hurts of this disease can cause – noticed how I may do that to others in my speaking, and now important it is to validate a fallen SA’s partner in there awareness..
    And what’s great is you have inner power, and the braveness to act on your inspiration with a book – that can make a huge difference.
    And I just wanted to lovingly point out – embrace all verses exclude anyone…That was all.
    Wow, I could have pointed out and said that in one sentence.
    But then again, I am not someone known – to offer short, concise to the point – matter!
    I am a person in training..lol
    And you know what: “I love, that I love, to take people on a story, over explaining, over analysis, it’s part of who I am.” I might lose someone’s attention along the way – but I have been doing something fun in my conversations – especially when I notice their eyes rolling back in their head……I say: “I know, be every so patient, I will get to the point – just lovingly follow along!” – it’s been working…lol
    Have a good day.
    C

  6. JoAnn,

    Well, I see I am a little late in coming to this discussion but I am practically jumping up and down for joy at finally seeing someone else publicly say the things I have been to angry to put into words on paper (or screen). I see many wives of sex addicts, as a Licensed Professional Counselor, and I can’t tell you how many times I have heard these same things. These poor women, like I was, have been told something is wrong with them just because they are married to a sex addict. One one hand they are told, “It is not your fault”, but in the same breath they are told they are a “co-addict” and must go to 12 step meetings. In the beginning I went to two meetings (I was required to as part of the intensive my husband and I did). While the intensive was extremely beneficial, the COSA meetings were a joke to me. I could not grasp the no cross talk concept (I get the point, but women need actual discussion. A good facilitator can help keep anyone from dominating…) and the simple fact that I need to make amends etc. sounded to me like I was being told I had done something wrong. Fortunately I have the kind of personality that doesn’t like to go with the flow, so I balked at all this rather quickly. I am glad I went though. It helps me understand clients who have been and had similar experiences. Now I would be remiss if I didn’t add that I do like the 12 step concept and I believe God must be the center of any kind of recovery or healing. I am not saying that the 12 step model couldn’t be improved upon or that there isn’t anything better (have you heard of Restarting?). But while I disagree with the faith part of your argument, I couldn’t agree more with everything else you had to say! I lead support groups for wives of sex addicts in my counseling practice and get a lot of positive feedback. Support from women is crucial, and if COSA works for you, great, but there are other options. If there is nothing in your area visit http://www.awomanshealingjourney.com and join a phone support group. Great site and organization! Your sister on this journey, Ella.

  7. This is somewhat in response to Ella’s post. I wish there were more groups like her’s in existance. I also am a Christan, and when my discovery happened, we saw Christain therapists who refused to acknowledge there could be an addiction, bc my husband was so good at playing the contrite husband who would, (what’s the phrase we’ve all heard WAY too many times ladies??).. never do that again, so sex addiction was never addressed. But I loved the fact they did focus more on all of the postive things in our marriage, and the goal of keeping our marriage TOGETHER.

    Frustrated that these therapists wouldn’t consider there was an addiction going on, I found a sex addiction therapist, and for the first time, someone saw through all the excuses and blaming my husband was so skilled at doing.

    Where I felt so let down, was the focus was so much on our own individual needs, and all about the me, me, me, that my husband became even more selfish then he had started to become, and I saw every part of the sweet, caring man I fell in love with erode, and this nightmare unfold before my eyes, as every single differrence between us was magnified, and our individual happiness was the goal, NOTHING about the postive things in our marriage.

    The whole addict/coaddict model almost seemed to cement our divorce.

    It’s hard to explain, bc I understand all of us deserve our own happiness, but I could tell a HUGE difference. When I married my husband, I had to almost peel him off of me to get him to do things for himself, and pull his self esteem out of the gutter, to someone who became all himself, and his needs, and if I had a problem with it, then we were too different, and now we were suddenly “toxic” for each other.

    Thank God I found the post on here about how an addict’s brain is wired that everyting is either 100% one way, or 100% the other way, they don’t understand 50/50, or that sometimes it can be 60/40, sometimes more his needs, sometimes more mine. They can’t grasp that concept.

    It breaks my heart, and I can’t help but feel if we could have found a therapist who had the skills to see a sex addiction, who didn’t split us in two because we were automatically “coaddicts”, we might be a couple going through recovery, and not a divorce.

  8. Although these posts are a few years old, I still wanted to comment. I was attending the COSA meetings online, when an incident happened to me. My spouse attempted to kill us in the car one night. At that time, and still today he suffers from from PTSD from Iraq. We were discussing one of the steps, step 9. I made a comment about the earlier events and then made them aware of his recent diagnoses of PTSD, and that he was entering a program for it that was hospitalizing him for twelve weeks. My question to the group was, with this diagnosis and this addiction, how does one make direct amends when dealing with two different monster diseases, but are known to cross over into one another? I was told that I was given a flag, which is that I was off the subject and it would not be tolerated. It upset that I was told that, because, I was not bashing my husband, as others were. Now, I know it was also not their fault for not understanding either. I also know now that they COSA should not be using people who are not licensed to run the groups either, or at the very least moderating the groups. I have not signed back into the group since then, but I do seek professional help. Now, I am just not a co sex addict but I am also the caregiver of a wounded warrior who suffers from TBI and PTSD along with sex addiction. The best thing a person can do in a support group of any kind is to validate what another person is feeling, if the person does not understand something, the very least they could respond with is, That they do not understand, but if given a few days to read or seek advice and let me get back to you with a response. But, after I was flagged that evening other women e-mailed me who were also military spouses at one time or another, amazed me with how we all were experiencing the same things. My question is that there is not one organizations out there, who help us who live these lives everyday. No support groups for sex addiction, PTSD, TBI spouses. Boy, would that help!

    1. Melissa I know you posted this three years ago but if you are still around please get back to me if you are willing to speak to me more about your ww. I too am a caregiver for my ww wife who has ptsd due to MST and is a sex addict. She attempts to recreate the rape for “control”. Cosa had been a total joke