Before S-Anon, I lived in past memories and sexaholic traumas. For example, I went into obsessive thinking when my partner wore the same clothes as he had the day before, believing that this meant he hadn’t spent the night at his own house. Other obsessive triggers included seeing women of certain ethnicities to whom I knew he was attracted, hearing about movies he had seen and I had not, and listening when he would describe women with whom he had had affairs as “friends.” I seldom experienced peace of mind – I was constantly reacting. I have steadily worked the S-Anon program for some time now, and I am rarely triggered into reacting anymore. I mind my own business and focus on the things I can change, rather than on the things I cannot control. I no longer participate in conversations with my partner which have to do with his sexual acting out. My sobriety and serenity depend upon my continuing to nurture a primary relationship with a Higher Power who brings me sanity.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 240.
When I first heard people say in S-Anon meetings that they were focusing on themselves, I thought this sounded like a selfish and self-absorbed fellowship. In my childhood, I was taught that giving to others first was the way to go. Being generous and self-sacrificing was being good. How could focusing on myself be of any good to anyone including me? Working through the Twelve Steps has been an opportunity for me to examine my motives and my relationship with God and others. Through the Twelve Steps and using other tools of the program, I have learned to focus on myself. I saw the truth about harm I had caused others and myself in my noble effort to be helpful. How could trying to be helpful be harmful? That didn’t make much sense to me for a long time. I still sometimes forget.
I found S-Anon was a fellowship that welcomed me and allowed me to collapse in exhaustion and despair. Even in program, I needed to feel helpful, worthwhile, and approved of. What would I do if I couldn’t do for others what they weren’t doing? There was plenty of stuff around that needed to be done. Who’s going to do it? Why not me?
When I began my recovery, my children were all in elementary school. Our home had an atmosphere of tension and insecurity.I was bound and determined to be the perfect mother—loving, compassionate, understanding—but I really did not know how to manifest those qualities in a balanced way. I sometimes went to extremes in caring for my children. There was a constant feeling of impending disaster and if someone made a mistake (and there were plenty!), I reacted in extreme ways. I neglected the children emotionally, obsessing about my husband when he was acting out and worrying about the “next time” when he was not. I lived my life through my kids because I didn’t even realize at that time that I had my own separate life. If they passed a science test, I felt I was a success. If they got a low grade, I was a failure as a mom. Their grades were my grades and their emotions became my emotions.
Step Ten continues the recovery process of admission of our wrongs, forgiveness, and restitution that underlie Steps Four through Nine. instead of compulsively focusing on others, we now commit to deliberate self-examination for the purpose of keeping close to God and our fellows and staying on course. This self-focus is not an obsessive drive for perfection or a perpetual dwelling in the past, but rather a basic commitment to honesty and growth. In Step Ten we regularly take stock of our liabilities, looking particularly for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear, as well as for our progress, good choices, successes and gifts for which we can be grateful. We inventory honestly and avoid rationalizing and excessive guilt. We are compassionate with ourselves, acknowledging our own humanity. Step Ten helps us live in the real world, not in denial or fantasy. It gives us permission to admit our mistakes to ourselves and others and to take responsibility for any harm caused by our mistakes.
We find that regular use of Step Ten can make us aware of old behavior and destructive thoughts more quickly. It helps us cultivate the practice of kindness, love, patience, tolerance and understanding, and further develops our connection with the Higher Power of our understanding.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 121-122.
I have noticed a huge spurt in my emotional growth since attending a recent S-Anon International Convention. I drove away from the Convention with an important awareness: I must focus on my behavior rather than anyone else’s. I have always known that focusing on ourselves is a key principle of the S-Anon program, but I didn’t have the in sight into my own behavior until the Convention. This awareness has helped me change my behavior toward my sexaholic family member. I no longer try to manipulate by making “helpful hints.” I do not make sarcastic remarks, putting down the sexaholic for his behavior. I see the insanity of my thinking and behavior. I thought if I acted mean and said hurtful things, it would cure or control the sexaholic from acting out in his disease. Instead, I am now asking myself, “What’s going on with me when I feel that ‘urge’ to put others down? How is my behavior helping or hindering my serenity? Can I feel compassion for myself and others?”
My behavior has changed with other family members also: I am no longer pushing myself on my adult children. If they don’t want my input on something, or if they have a change of plans and are unable to visit me, I use my program tools to work through how I am feeling. I can then make a plan to get on with my day. By changing the things I can, I have a better understanding of why we call this a “family disease” and of my part in it. This new awareness has done wonders for my serenity!
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 11.