SAINA Recovery Actions
1. STEPS—We work the 12 Steps of SAINA with confidence and openness.
2. SPONSORSHIP—Our sponsor is a person in SAINA who is working the programme and is willing to share their recovery. We ask someone to sponsor us if they have what we want.
3. SERVICE—We give balanced service to the SAINA community.
4. ACTION PLAN—We write an SAINA action plan. We follow and adapt our action plan. And we take action for our recovery.
5. EMOTIONS—We listen to our feelings and we take time and space to process them. Knowing what we are feeling is important to our recovery. We are true to ourselves.
6. GENTLENESS—We are gentle with ourselves. We recognise and lovingly provide for our needs, as if we are the person we love most in the world.
7. SLOWNESS—We go slowly in doing things that are healthy for us, knowing that we can be overwhelmed by emotions, whether positive and negative, caused by our healthy actions. By going slowly, we can more easily follow our heart and Higher Power and not be misdirected by our own fears or the expectations of others.
8. BALANCE.—We create balance in our recovery and in every area of our lives.
9. FRIENDSHIP—We nourish and enjoy the closeness and affection of our friends, one day at a time.
10. TAKING CARE—We take tender care of our body, our food, our clothes and possessions. We take care of our desires and dreams, our holidays and our emotional, social, spiritual and sexual needs.
11. GRATITUDE—We have an attitude of gratitude.
12. SPIRITUALITY—We use prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power every day. We trust our Higher Power to lead us and gently support us in our SAINA recovery.
Affirmations for our femininity
We use affirmations every day as one of the tools of our recovery. We can say them silently, out loud, or write them down. We may choose to say one a day or read all of these affirmations every day.
Sometimes when we begin saying the affirmations, we may feel they are not true about us, and they may be very difficult for us to say. It may bring up difficult feelings and we can share these feelings with members of SAINA.
It will be empowering and an inspiring experience. If you say them as if you really mean them, as if you believe them, you will soon find you are feeling much more confident as a woman and receiving more appreciation for your femininity. These affirmations can help you enjoy being a woman.
As we preserve and continue saying these affirmations on a daily basis we find our confidence as women increases and our SAINA recovery begins to unfold and grow.
I am all that woman is.
I am beauty.
I am love.
I am tenderness.
I am warmth.
I am softness.
I am grace.
I am perfect woman form.
I am acceptance.
I am pliancy.
I am responsiveness.
I am luscious, lovely, fascinating woman.
I am exciting, gorgeous, vibrant woman.
I am alluring, enticing, woman.
I am magnetic, irresistible woman.
I am as feminine as any woman who ever lived.
I am as sexy as any woman who ever lived.
I am loved and loving, desired and desiring, adored & adoring.
I am free perfect expression of woman love.
Doing the opposite
To recover from our sexual and intimacy anorexia we need to act differently. Action is the magic word. Madness has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Doing the opposite of what we usually do is a policy that invites different results.
The thinking behind this tool is that what we have continually and habitually done has brought us to an anorexic place where we are not in a fulfilling relationship with ourselves or another person. If we keep doing what we have always done, our lives with stay the same and remain anorexic. There is a saying: if we want to know what our future will be, look at what we are doing today, because what we do today will create our tomorrows.
We start with today. If we always have baths, we take a shower. If we normally go swimming, we go to a yoga class instead. We walk a different way to work. If we usually listen to classical music, we listen to something different instead. We drink tea if we usually drink coffee. If we are speedy, we spend a day going slowly. If we always wear black, we wear something colourful. If we usually have toast for breakfast, we have cereal. We are open to playing with our routine.
Doing the opposite can mean taking a small action or it can mean taking big actions. It takes us out of our comfort zone. It wakes us up and makes us conscious of the choices we make and why. It gives us new experiences and new perceptions of ourselves and our lives. As we recover from our sexual and intimacy anorexia we will have many new experiences. Doing the opposite allows us to be open to change and prepares us for more fulfilling relationships with our ourselves and others.
Healthy Sexuality Defined
Most of the time people become sexually anorexic as a result of unhealthy, traumatic and even life-threatening sexual experiences. What characterizes unhealthy sexuality? Unhealthy sexuality is joyless, shameful and exploitive and lacks integrity. It reenacts childhood abuse and is about power and its misuse. It is used to medicate emotional pain and is addicted to perfection. It is dishonest and self-destructive.
As we recover from our sexual and intimacy anorexia, we would like to be sexual, or to be more sexual, but in a healthy way. What is healthy sexuality?
Healthy sexuality is fun.
It doesn’t hurt you or anyone else.
It is fully consensual.
It is enjoyable.
It can be challenging.
It can be grateful.
It doesn’t break your boundaries or anyone else’s.
It is good for our self-esteem.
It is safe.
It accepts our imperfections and our humanness.
It deepens the relationship.
It is intimate.
It is mutual.
Lighting a Candle to your Femininity
This is small but powerful ritual. Everyday, at any point in the day, light a candle to your femininity. It can be a simple night-light or a decorative candle. A scented candle may make the ritual more sensuous.
When you light the candle, dedicate the light to any aspect of your femininity. You can say silently or aloud, ‘I dedicate this light to my femininity.’ Or, ‘I dedicate this light to my sexual fulfillment.’ Or, I dedicate this light to my happy, joyful, sexual relationship/marriage.’ Or, ‘I dedicate this light to my beauty.’ You can choose your own dedication.
When you blow out the candle, send the light to yourself. You can say, ‘ I send this light to my womanhood/my joy/my sexual happiness.’ Perhaps send the light to someone else too – your present or future partner or husband. It doesn’t matter if you are not yet in a relationship; this is all part of the process.
Lighting a candle to our femininity is a gentle reminder of our recovery and intentions. It reinforces our vision for our recovery in SAINA. It is a small gesture. Its power is in reinforcing what you want from your sexual and intimacy anorexia recovery on a daily basis. It also symbolizes the light and warmth and heat that are coming into your sexuality and intimacy, replacing the darkness, hopelessness and cold that is part of sexual and intimacy anorexia.
An act as if date is an action we can take for our recovery from our sexual and intimacy anorexia. It is simple. The purpose of an act as if date is to practise going on dates with ourselves so that we can deal with any feelings we may have about dating and intimacy. It is a practise run for a real date with a real person.
Even though there is no-one else with us on an act as if date, we may be surprised by the amount of feelings we have. An act as if date allows us to deal with these feelings and any issues that arise in a very safe way.
Act as if dates also make us more prepared and build our confidence for when we go on real dates.
We aim to do one act as if date a week, with lots of different scenarios until we feel very comfortable with doing them and find them emotionally easy.
- Think about a romantic date you would like to go on – this could be to the cinema, a walk in the park, a cup of coffee in a coffee shop, a meal in a restaurant, cooking dinner or an evening watching TV. It can be anything you would like to do with your sexual partner or your future sexual partner. Imagine what you might wear, how you will travel to the meeting, what you might bring with you, what you might talk about, who else might be there, what you might eat and drink how the date might end.
- Now go on the act as if date. Go on your own and imagine the person you would like to be with you is there. For example, if you have chosen to go to the cinema, dress as you might for a date, travel there with the thought you are going on a date, imagine greeting the person when you arrive, buy the tickets with the thought of the other person being there, sit with an empty seat next to you in the cinema and imagine the person there. Feel what it would be like to sit next to them while the film is showing. At the end of the date, imagine how the date would end. At every stage notice how you are feeling: Scared? Avoidant? Happy? Open? Angry? Argumentative? Ashamed? Joyful? Passionate? Bored? Excited?
- After the date you may want to share with a fellow member of SAINA how the act as if date went, talk about it, share about it in a meeting, or maybe do some step work on anything that arose for you.
100 Romantic Experiences
Our sexual and intimacy anorexia can mean we find it difficult to take action and instead are stuck in thinking and not doing. This tool helps us to recover by moving away from sexual and intimacy anorexia and towards action. It is a tool to help us with our romantic anorexia and to allow romantic intimacy and fulfillment into our lives.
This tool is very simple: we write a list of a 100 romantic experiences we would like. They can be very small experiences, such as a holding someone’s hand, or large ones, such as an exotic holiday. They can be very specific experiences that name a person, place and time, or very general.
It can feel daunting to write a list of a hundred experiences we would like, and we may want to go gently with ourselves as we do this tool. Perhaps we cannot immediately think of 100 romantic experiences we want. Start the list in a small way, adding to it week by week. Or we may be able to write the whole list in one or two sessions.
It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant a romantic experience seems or how unlikely, if we would like that romantic experience we add it to our list. We allow ourselves to think about what would bring us intimacy, pleasure and joy in our romantic life.
At this stage we do not to act on any of the experiences on our list. The list is to help us become clear and specific about what we would like to happen in our romantic life.
We share our list with a member of SAINA as we write the list or when we have finished it.
Learning to Receive What We Would Like
This is an exercise for increasing our ability to receive.
Healing from sexual and intimacy anorexia is about learning to have what we need and want, and whatever benefits our recovery.
When we are in our anorexia it can be difficult to receive. We feel frightened and unwilling to accept what we can have. Sometimes this is because in the past we have had or created experiences which were damaging to us, and in response we decided not to accept anything at all, either the good or the bad.
When we are unwilling to receive, our energy is hard and impenetrable. As we recover and grow in our ability to be receptive, our energy changes.
- Lie down in a place that feels safe and warm to you and let yourself relax. Feel the energy around your body. Does it feel armoured and inflexible?
- Imagine the energy softening. Feel your energy become gentle and relaxed. Imaging that it is porous and will allow others to give to you what you want. Imagine yourself receiving the gifts offered to you – gifts of love, respect, appreciation, time, money, sharing, and fun. And the gifts of honesty and loyalty and sensitivity. Feel the energy surrounding your body soften, open up and be able to take in good, warm, loving energy from others.
- Now imagine the energy surrounding you getting harder again, like a suite of armor that protects you, perhaps one that is covered in prickles or spikes. Feel the difference between the two states.
- Visualise your energy softening again and really feel yourself becoming open to receive what you want, and all that is good in relationships and intimacy. Notice how different that feels from the anorexic armour.
This exercise will help you embody this healing. Keep practising and imaging your energy softening and so that you are open to receive good from others.
Femininity cards are a set of cards, perhaps 20 or 50 in number, all of which have one world written on them that affirm our femininity, sexuality and recovery from sexual and intimacy anorexia. The cards name many of the valuable qualities we have as women. They are the world of the qualities we are willing to have in our lives now.
Take a piece of card – or even paper – and write out the following words below, then cut up the card so that each word is on separate piece of card. The cards can be any size. You can write with an ordinary pen or you with a coloured pen and make the card decorative.
Here are the words:
Womanly, beautiful, esteemed, kind, loving, communicative, happy, joyful, abundant, open, loved, lovable, interesting, stylish, fun, laughter, prosperous, smiling, intimate, generosity, magnetic, feminine, attractive, passionate, alive, sexy, goddess, free, real, light, sharing, tender, gentle, fertile, strong, stunning, gorgeous, vibrant, irresistible, elegant, poised, sophisticated, serene, peaceful, astonishing, dynamic, unique, mysterious, healthy, fulfilled, radiant, glowing, caring, purposeful, honest, dignified, exciting, adored, luscious, lovely, fascinating, effective, soft, shapely, curvaceous, appealing, innovative, wise, intuitive, all knowing.
These words are suggestions. You can add words of your own. Some, perhaps all, of these words are challenging and we may have a strong reaction against some of the words. We accept our reactions. If you want to leave out any of the words, consider what is about the words you are rejecting, and why you don’t want to express these qualities. The words that trigger difficult feelings in us can be the words that teach us about ourselves.
Put them in a box or tray. Each morning when you wake up, randomly take a card from the set and see what it says. Perhaps it will say ‘Gentleness.’ This affirms your gentleness and the way you femininity is expressed through gentleness in the day. It is often surprising to see what card we pick – sometimes it is a quality that we do not feel we have or seems irrelevant. Just go with it. Each day we pick up a card we are bringing to mind qualities we have and are developing as part of our recovery We can even spend a moment of two thinking about how we can bring that quality into our day, and imagine what we would do if our day was filled with that quality.
These tools are Sexual & Intimacy Anorexia Anonymous (SAINA) Approved Literature
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