I Must Stop Playing God in My Partner’s Life…

When I feel the urge to try to be my husband’s “sponsor,” I know I need to do two things. First, I can put one of the S-Anon slogans into practice, and “keep the focus on myself.” I can ask myself questions like: “Does this situation make me feel afraid of abandonment? If so, why? Am I afraid to trust the program? Do I secretly feel superior to my spouse, believing that he cannot function without my “help”?  My own road to recovery has been based upon the answers to questions like these, not upon the actions or feelings of my husband.

The second thing I can do is realize that for my own good, I must stop playing God in my partner’s life. I can learn to trust that the life and recovery
of my spouse is also in the care of a “power greater than myself.” If I have come to believe that a Higher Power can restore me to sanity, I can trust that the same is true for my partner.

 

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 47.

Letting Go of “I Know Best”

We come to see that the foundation of Step Seven is humility, that is, a willingness to accept ourselves as we are and to accept God’s help. Humility is not about weakness, submissiveness, or humiliation. Rather it is about surrendering the attitude that seems to be the root of many of our troubles: “I know best.” Being humble does not mean we stop trying to take positive action on our own behalf. Instead we stop relying exclusively on our own
strength and intelligence and come to genuinely trust in our Higher Power’s will for us, asking God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Like Step Three, Step Seven is an action Step in the form of a prayer. For most of us, exactly how we ask God to remove our defects does not seem to matter, so long as we express our complete willingness to be changed and believe that our Higher Power can and will help us. Many take Step Seven through praying as it is traditionally understood, for example, using the Seventh Step prayer found on page 76 of Alcoholics Anonymous. Others request God to remove their shortcomings through methods like writing, creatively visualizing or meditating. We keep in mind that Step Seven is not about begging, pleading or groveling. Neither is it coming to our Higher Power with a wish list of exactly what we think we need. Rather, Step Seven is a process of humbly acknowledging our ongoing need to rely on God.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 82.

The Only Person I Can Change Is Me

I tried everything to change the sexaholic. I was silent. I was angry. I begged, pleaded, and manipulated. Nothing worked. I just brought myself more frustration, hurt, resentment, and misery. S-Anon is helping me learn I need to let go of trying to change someone else, because the only one I can change is me. I don’t like change; it is uncomfortable and scary to me. Sometimes I try to stay safe by taking no risks, but I am seeing that change happens anyway because change is a part of life. I am taking little baby steps, working to change myself with God’s help. While I still want to change overnight, these baby steps are adding up to a significant difference in my life, despite sometimes going one step forward and two steps backward. When I’m off balance, I can slip back into trying to change others. I need to bring the focus back to me and remind myself that progress, not perfection, is what counts. I am doing the best I can today, and when I let go and let God guide me, I remember that God will take care of changing whatever or whoever needs to be changed.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 200.

Putting our Sobriety First

We find that each of us has particular behaviors and attitudes that we have found to be destructive to ourselves and that we hope to eliminate, thus becoming more “sober.” Some of us wanted to let go of behaviors like snooping, raging at the sexaholic or lying to family and friends to cover up the addiction, for example. Others wanted to become more honest with ourselves and others or to become more tolerant and open minded. We have used individual strategies for changing these actions and attitudes, as we must if we wish to find serenity. My mother is the sex addict who affected my life the most, and I used to take care of her a lot and resented every minute of it. That wasn’t good for me and it wasn’t right for her, no matter what she did to me in my childhood. I didn’t want to have the emotional hangovers I got when I would stay too long on the phone and end up screaming at her. For my own sobriety and peace of mind, I set a boundary around our visits and telephone calls, because spending too much time with her is not a sober situation for me.

 

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 54 and 57.

Surrendering to a Higher Power

After working another Twelve Step program for several years, my life was filled with growth, peace, serenity and acceptance. Upon finding out about my spouse’s sexaholism, it all slipped away. I had great difficulty letting go of this new issue. This, I thought, is too big, too deadly and too frightening to let go of. I was again struggling to surrender my will to my Higher Power. When I came to S-Anon I knew my life was unmanageable, but I couldn’t see how I was contributing to it. I understood Step Three in my other program, yet I didn’t see that my snooping and checking up on my spouse was my way of holding on, not letting go. Even though I had experienced the fullness and freedom of knowing and accepting my powerlessness in my other program, in the area of my husband’s sexaholism I was still clinging to my will — my safety and protector (or so I thought). I was too frightened to trust God with this. In S-Anon, I learned how to detach and surrender where sexaholism was concerned. I finally came to believe — again — that it didn’t matter what the story, hardship, or circumstances were. Surrendering to my Higher Power was the only way to feel calm, clear, serene, and safe. Step Three told me that I was not alone and that regardless of circumstances, I would be O.K. I could trust that my Higher Power had a plan for me that was better than I could imagine.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 31.

I Don’t Get to Decide If Another Person Recovers

When I first came to S-Anon, I wasn’t sure if sexaholism was a problem in my marriage, but the longer I stayed, the harder it became to deny it. Under the guise of “sharing my feelings,” I spent the next couple of years trying to convince my husband that his affairs and use of pornography were hurting me and destroying our marriage. I finally began to work the Steps with my sponsor. I came to realize that I was not only powerless over sexaholism, but also over all the choices my husband was continuing to make. Clearly, he was choosing the addiction over our marriage. I needed to allow him the dignity of making his own choices — to live his life as he chose, even if he didn’t choose me. I had to Let Go and Let God. I have such gratitude for my S-Anon program. I have learned to accept that I don’t have the power to decide if another person chooses recovery. I can only make decisions for myself, such as setting boundaries to ensure my well-being and safety from my husband’s active sexaholism. I am sad to say that my marriage is ending, yet I am so grateful to have happiness, health, and wholeness in my life today.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 38.

Letting Go of Our Secrets

In Step Five we share our Fourth Step with another person and with God. We admit our findings to them and to ourselves and also discuss the causes for our attitudes and behavior. Many of us had not made a practice of being totally honest and were terrified at the prospect. We had secrets, some shameful, and we feared bringing them into the light. We thought to ourselves, “Isn’t it enough that I did the Fourth Step? Why do I have to share these things?” Surprisingly, we discovered that sharing them with our Higher Power and someone else was one of the most freeing things we had ever experienced. Most found that doing this Step was a turning point in recovery as we took the principles of humility and honesty, which underlie all the Steps, and put them into practice. Our good intentions to work the Steps became concrete actions. Forgiveness and acceptance from another person spurred the beginning of these qualities in ourselves. We felt better able to communicate with others and with our Higher Power. We began to learn how to really trust and how to let go of the shame and secrets that had held us back. We had a newfound ability to be progressively more honest in all areas of our life. We found healing, peace of mind and serenity.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 59-60.

Trusting with Eyes Wide Open

I came into S-Anon with broken trust. My sexaholic husband had betrayed me, and I no longer trusted anything he said or did. I see now that I didn’t even trust myself or know how to trust a Higher Power. It frightened me that I had not been aware of my husband’s sexual acting out for many years. How could I trust I would not be fooled if he should act out again? Through participating in the S-Anon fellowship my ability to trust slowly grew. First I began learning to trust members of my group and I took a risk to share some of my secrets and struggles. I experienced acceptance, love, and understanding. This process started to heal my damaged trust and empowered me to experience my Higher Power’s love and acceptance. I began to see God guiding me through this difficult process of my recovery, one step at a time. Amazingly, I started to trust myself again and began to believe that I would be OK, no matter what my husband was doing in his life. My perception of trusting my spouse is different now. Trust is not blind or absolute. Trusting my Higher Power and myself has to be part of trusting my spouse and others. Trust is loving with eyes wide open. Learning to trust in a healthy way is a gift of the S-Anon program.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 205.

Hoping in a Higher Power…

The only solution to my fear, my desire to control and my feelings of victimization has been to live one minute at a time and to act as if I trust God, even when I don’t. I look back on all my losses, and even though I see that each one in the end turned out to be best for me, I still feel angry and fearful. But I do know one thing for sure: I am not God. This small amount of humility allows me to know that I do not know what is best for me, or for anyone else. I have seen that things I thought were best were not, and, as a result, I am beginning to see that my self-righteousness is not based on reality. This gives me the hope that God does know what is best for me. I know that I cannot get my partner sober or save our relationship, only God can. I must let go of trying to control, and let God do whatever he is going to do, even if I don’t want to. I don’t know if that is willingness, but it is all I have.

 

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

Step Twelve – Carrying the Message

I say that if my life before the program was the B.S. era (the Before S-Anon era), my life now might be referred to as the S.O.S. era – the Serenity of S-Anon. I’m at a point in my program where it could be easy for me to coast. I completed my Step work with my sponsor. I took my own sponsee through her Step work, and now I’ve got “grand-sponsees.” When I moved to a place with no meetings, I made an effort to keep connected by working the Traditions with my sponsor and another S-Anon member. I’m past the urgency that I felt in the early days, but I’m afraid of what my complacency might cost me. Not long ago, I began to realize another aspect of Step Twelve – the part about “trying to carry the message.” So, after months of false starts and being turned down for a location, I finally opened the doors to my area’s first S-Anon meeting. It’s been a meeting of “one” since it started, but I have been reminded that there are really two of us there – my Higher Power and me. Despite that, I have felt frustrated with the lack of attendance, taking it as a personal failure. And lately I really don’t want to go. My kids are playing ball now, and I have to miss the beginnings of their games. But the possibility of missing a newcomer, of not being there to welcome and give comfort to the family member of a sexaholic, ensures that I go. Recently, I was thrilled to receive my first S-Anon call from the number I had posted on the WSO website. I’m not sure that being thrilled by someone else’s agony over sexaholism is appropriate, but I really was excited to get that call. Although this person has not been able to attend a meeting, we have spoken on a regular basis on the phone and I am slowly introducing her to the S-Anon program. Once again, the 12 Steps of S-Anon – particularly Step Twelve – have taken on a new meaning for me. I’m getting back, while I’m giving. And technically, still no one has come to the new meetings here. But I have had to get REALLY busy so I can get better because the sexaholic in my life has had a relapse.

 

Reprinted from the Summer 2009 issue of S-Anews©.