Expectations and Needs

There was a time, not so long ago, when I had given up on having any expectations for my relationship. I thought I had to accept whatever treatment I received from my partner. I had heard in meetings that “expectations are resentments waiting to happen,” so I thought, “I better not have any of those expectations!” As I continued to grow in S-Anon, I came to believe that I was worthy of respect and consideration. I found the answer in exploring the difference between expectations (looking forward into the future) and needs (which are mine to express today). I need to be treated with affectionate love and regard. I am not always right, but I need my ideas to be met with respectful consideration. My interests and hobbies are important, and I need time to pursue them. I need a partner to help carry out the routine tasks of maintaining a household. I need a satisfying sex life, and, most important, a partner willing to work with me in all these areas to improve the relationship. If my most important needs are to be met, I must let go of the expectation that “somebody” will meet my needs “someday” and, instead, consider the alternatives available to me today. Just for today, I will acknowledge my needs, affirm their importance, and choose to take one positive action in the direction of seeing that those needs are met.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 50.

 

Recognizing Loss of Sobriety

I struggle with my sobriety often, and I can certainly define what it isn’t. I know that I have lost it when I dig through my spouse’s briefcase to read his journal. I know that I have lost it when I drive to where my spouse works to see if his car is in the parking lot when he does not answer my phone call. I know that I have lost it when I go through his dresser drawers looking for evidence. I know I have lost it when I look under my son’s bed for pornography. I have done all these things and more. I know I have lost it because the behavior is premeditated and while I am doing these things my fear of being “caught” produces physical stress responses. I sweat, breathe rapidly, my heart rate increases, and I want to either fight with someone or run away. When I do lose it, I try to take corrective action. When I read the journal, I told my spouse, my therapist and my S-Anon group. Knowing that I will “own” my behavior afterward now helps me to keep from slipping again. I no longer have pre-disclosure blind faith in the relationship, but I believe that if I need to know something or find something out, God will reveal it and I do not have to go looking for it.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 58.

Willing to Believe

Step Two for me has been like the bigger-and-bigger hammer theory exemplified in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. Bugs hits Daffy Duck over the head with a hammer, only the hammer is the size of a gavel, insufficient to get Daffy’s attention. By the time all is said and done, Bugs is whamming Daffy with a mallet the size of a family car. In an exaggerated and humorous way, this cartoon reminds me of how my Higher Power lovingly tried to reach me my whole life. Even though I grew up in a very religious family, my ego thrived as my personal god well into my adulthood. Consequently I did not have a real relationship with God. Instead, my attention was focused on controlling my own life and manipulating other peoples’ lives. The little gavels of life didn’t work on me. It took a huge “hammer” to get through to me — the crisis of sexaholism in my home — before I could understand the need for a Higher Power in my life.

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Changing the Channel in My Brain

For a long time I constantly obsessed about the sexaholic’s behavior. Vivid pictures ran through my head like a grainy, X-rated film. Unfortunately, my obsession was like pouring salt on an open wound — over and over again. After several meetings and learning to apply the tools and principles of the S-Anon program to my life, I was able to go a few days without constantly focusing on the sexaholic. I started replacing my obsessive thoughts with working Steps One and Two, and with making outreach calls. After a few more months of meetings, I found I could go a week at a time without brooding over the past. I had a sponsor who I called regularly and spoke with whenever the old images and thoughts popped into my head. Reaching out helped me redirect my thinking and my behavior. My sponsor suggested that when the images and thoughts came to my mind, I turn them over to my Higher Power and visualize placing the sexaholic in God’s hands. I am powerless over whether or not the obsessive thoughts come, but when the images come into my head, I now have the tools necessary to change the channel in my brain. I can pray to my Higher Power, ask my sponsor for help and guidance, and write about my feelings and share them with another program member. I don’t have to feel obsession and pain; I can have serenity.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 351.

A Real Higher Power…

In my life before recovery, many people I considered to be “powers greater than myself” abused me with that power emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually. As a result, when I came to S-Anon I was not eager to willingly “turn myself over” to any power. Building on the foundation of Step Two, I have begun to experience a true spiritual connection with a Power greater than myself and have become willing to turn my will and my life over to that Power. I have begun to trust in the experiences of others and have surrendered my need to control every situation to protect myself from nameless, faceless, countless dangers. I have seen that this Power can be trusted, will always be with me and will never abandon or betray me. This does not mean that my life will be free of difficulties – it does mean that I will have what I need to face them and will not have to face them alone.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 39-40.

Being Restored to Sanity

Living with the effects of sexaholism wore me out, and I finally reached the limits of my own power. I realized that I could not solve my problems without help. I had no other options, so I turned to God once more. This time it was with a different attitude. I said a prayer that went something like this: “God, I can’t take it anymore. I need your help. I realize that in the past you have answered my prayers with some painful truths. If there is more pain to go through in order to stop my suffering, then I’m willing to accept it, whatever the cost.” Following the prayer, I asked my husband to level with me about the other women. Instead of the standard denial and counterattack, he admitted everything. As I had feared, it was painful to face the truth, but in doing so I began laying the foundation for the serenity I would come to find. It has been over ten years since the day I first came to believe that God could, and would, restore me to sanity. I had feared that facing the truth would mean the end of my relationship with my partner, but it turned out to be just the beginning. With God’s help and some time, the wounds healed. I no longer turn to God only in a crisis. I apply God’s will to the little things in life as well, like struggles at work. I’ve learned that frustration is a sign that I have lost sight of Step Two — that I am relying on my own plan and power instead of God’s plan and God’s power. The program slogans “Turn it Over” and “Let Go and Let God” remind me that there is a Higher Power. Each time I practice these slogans, I come to believe on a deeper level.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 20-21.

A Serenity Boost

I came to S-Anon a very short time before moving to a new city with my partner. It was a well-timed gift. When I first started attending meetings, my goal was to learn how to live with a sexaholic on a daily basis. Learning to live life in the present, and “doing the next right thing” with the help of my Higher Power, were a real help to me. Coming to see my own level of denial about many aspects of my life was painful, but it was helpful to understand that I am a work in progress. Meeting such wonderful friends in this program really helped me become acclimated to my new hometown and to my new “eyes open” way of life. A few months after beginning the program, I attended my first local S-Anon convention. It was a wonderful event and I returned home with a serene recovery boost. I found I needed it, because the next week I discovered my partner had relapsed. I was shocked and disappointed. Thankfully, I had my convention “booster shot.” I was prepared with recovery tools and the reinforced knowledge that his relapse was not my fault and I could not work his program for him. While it was not an easy time for me, I was so grateful I had this program and my wonderful fellow S-Anon members to help me through it with new-found serenity.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 162.

Our Unique Gift

We try to carry the S-Anon message by sharing our experience, strength and hope with others, and we have found our joy and gratitude growing when we see the attitudes of other women and men change from despair to hope. We have seen that we can be uniquely helpful to those who are still suffering from the effects of sexaholism. We also strive to bring the same love and tolerance we are developing in our S-Anon group and in our close family relationships into our other personal, work and community relationships. We have found this to be the path toward continued spiritual growth.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 28.

From Darkness to Light

What is a spiritual awakening in our S-Anon program? it is the ability to do, feel and believe, through God’s power, that which a person could not do before with his or her own power. We have awakened to a concept of a loving God in our lives. This spiritual awakening is a gift that raises us to a higher level of awareness and gives us hope. We truly have been changed. We have received the grace of God, which simply means “a free gift.” We find ourselves experiencing a degree of honesty, tolerance, unselfishness, serenity and love which seemed so hard to reach before recovery. We receive the precious gift of serenity by practicing the Twelve Steps. Beginners who doubt themselves and their ability to progress can be viewed objectively by the rest of the group as we see the positive changes taking place in their lives. The person who claims that he or she does not understand the “spiritual angle” can predictably come to have conscious contact with God. “Freely you have received, now freely give …” is the motto of Step Twelve. Even the newcomer finds a rewarding experience in carrying the message to others who want the help of S-Anon. Although our own characters are still in need of much work, we have been greatly helped by encouraging others to find recovery, new purpose and meaning in life. We are seeing the lives of men and women who share our message change from darkness to light and from despair to hope. We can help others who are suffering from the effects of sexaholism better than anyone else can.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 143-144.

 

A Road Map to Face Life

Step Twelve: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Step Twelve has truly become a way of life for me. When I become upset or disturbed, my sponsor directs me back to the Steps. I start with Step One, and work as many Steps as needed, until I can see what has brought me to the place of discomfort. At some point I am able to see my part and what I need to do differently. When I am connected to my Higher Power, I can be an extension of God’s love and compassion toward myself and others. The love I feel flowing through me today has replaced my roller coaster days of impulsively reacting and feeling that sickening fear in the pit of my stomach. Allowing God to work through me is a result of practicing the spiritual principles of S-Anon in my life every day. Today I try to remember that the Steps are the most valuable gift I have been given. They are the road map to guide me as I face and deal with whatever life brings. They lead me back to God, love, and acceptance every time.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 46.