My Favorite Line

“Compulsive lusting respects no particular religion” is one of my favorite lines from our meeting guidelines that I hear at each meeting. I think the point is that anyone from any religious faith can have this addiction or be suffering from the affects of someone else’s sexaholism, but it means more than that to me. One of the challenges of my S-Anon Problem is not respecting myself, and therefore not being able to feel respected by others. Since this is already a sensitive issue for me, dealing with the disrespect I have felt from my sexaholic was a monumental task before I found S-Anon. Instead of respecting our marriage vows, I felt that he had violated them. Because of his acting out, I assumed I was a failure as a wife, and that the betrayals were due to something lacking in me. What a relief it was to come to my first meeting and hear that line. It isn’t any particular religion’s fault that compulsive lusting does not respect its teaching. This disease can exist in any member of any religion (or lack thereof). And there is not one religion that has the power to prevent its members from having this disease. Not one. This disease can exist in any particular marriage as well. Not just mine. I imagined a corollary line, “Compulsive lusting respects no particular__________ (Fill in the blank.)” Suddenly I felt off the hook. The “disrespect” for our marriage wasn’t my fault! I didn’t have the power to prevent my spouse from having this disease. The disease didn’t occur because of something I was doing or not doing or some inadequacy in me. It was simply the nature of the addiction not to be stopped by my power or the power of a religion or by the power of __________ (Fill in the blank). Only a Power Greater Than Myself has that power. I still sigh and smile and feel a sense of freedom every time that line is read at a meeting.

Reprinted from the Fall 2011 issue of S-Anews©.

Progress Not Perfection…

Another way we work the Twelfth Step is to do service work in our “home” group (the group we attend regularly — the one in which we feel most comfortable). We can help set up the chairs and literature before the meeting, serve as the meeting leader, contact people who inquire about our program, or volunteer to be a trusted servant such as the group secretary or treasurer. Any activity that makes it possible for the meeting to take place and to be a source of hope and recovery for a newcomer is Twelfth Step work… I volunteered to be the key holder for my Saturday night meeting. The church had asked us not to duplicate the key, so I was the only one with a key. I admit that I can be forgetful. Well, one week I forgot the key. We were a small meeting , so we actually met in my car that night. Thankfully, I found the key before the next meeting. It was a comfort to know I didn’t have to be perfect in order to do service. I felt appreciated and appreciate others who take turns holding the key.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 101-102.

 

Making Amends to Myself

I first came to S-Anon years ago when my wife admitted her sexaholism, and I admitted my own need for help. When Steps Eight and Nine were discussed in meetings and I heard about placing my own name on the amends list, I honestly thought it was a stupid idea. Yet as I worked the program and began experiencing its gifts, the idea didn’t seem quite so foolish anymore. About a year ago, I started making an amends to myself by taking up the sport of golf. I had always wanted to play but never felt I had the time, having placed work and others ahead of caring for myself. The result was a great deal of resentment at others who “took up so much of my time,” to say nothing of the lack of fun and relaxation in my life.  So at age 55 I finally let go of that resentment and made the time to do something nice for me – just for me. It wasn’t about making a living for my family or creating the right environment for my wife and kids or trying to impress people at work. It was just for me, and that really feels good. So now when I come into my office wearing my chartreuse pants and golf shirt in the morning, and my staff starts poking fun because they know I’m going to leave early and play golf that afternoon, I just smile.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 105.

 

Finding Humor

A few years ago, I was reading a book that I knew my mother was going to read after me. In it I found passages I thought she needed to hear — things I believed would make her a better person (by my definition, of course). These were things I didn’t have the courage to say to her myself. I didn’t want her to miss any of these gems, so I highlighted them and passed the book on to her. I was anticipating receiving her response, but after weeks went by, I asked her casually about it. “Oh,” she said, “I didn’t have time to read it so I gave it to my friend as a gift. I’ll get another copy for myself later.” I’m still wondering what my mom’s friend thought when she saw that the book had been pre-highlighted for her. One of the gifts of the S-Anon program for me is laughter. I am able to laugh at my behavior, not with shame but with love. I have done many things that seem absurd if I look at them objectively — things that didn’t seem funny at the time. I was desperate to control something that was beyond my control — usually another person. Later, when I described my behavior to my S-Anon group, I suddenly saw the humor and absurdity in it, and soon we were all laughing. This is a major transformation for me, since I grew up in an environment where being laughed at meant being humiliated and disdained. Today, I can be both humorous and lovable at the same time, which was something I never knew.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 34.

Recovery, My Recovery

When I first went to an S-Ateen meeting, I thought I’d go once and never go again. But after just one meeting, I was hooked; in a good way of course. Everyone I met there was burdened with their pasts and mistakes, yet there was such hope and cheer in everyone that I thought, “I might have a not-so-nice past, but that doesn’t need to dictate my future.”  You could tell that each person had a story to tell, and struggles to withstand, but also infinite wonders and joys still ahead of them. Going to S-Ateen makes me feel like I have support, comfort and courage to continue the path to recovery. (And I’ve only gone to two meetings so far!!) Already I can see the progress that is pushing my mom, my sister and me forward. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I feel sure that I can handle it and remain on an optimistic track. It won’t always be easy, but I can persevere. A week or so ago, I journaled something that really helped me. It perfectly described my ups and downs and helped me to be focused and cheerful. It gives me hope and somehow makes me truly realize that I have choices in life. I hope it will help anyone who reads it.

“Sometimes, when you’re sitting there musing or walking around completing an errand, you’ll suddenly sigh, a very heavy and emotional sigh. Then fear, sadness, regret, anxiety and hopelessness–these are the feelings that mangle your mind and entice you to their darkness. But just as quickly as this assault descends on you, a faint light presses through the dark, gently letting a ray hold itself out to you, telling you existence doesn’t have to be this way. Then and there, in that space of ten seconds, you know this is one of the many moments of truth that you will face. You, on your own, need to make a decision. What every individual in this life needs to decide is, is that faint light great enough to believe in and pursue? Well, I’ve decided. And I’m not going back to what I once was. (It wasn’t pretty.) And I am sure that many have, and are going to, choose as I did.”

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

Powerless Over Others

I was orphaned at 14 and went to live with my sister and her family. Her husband was the first sexaholic in my life.  I was very needy, fragile, and impressionable. I soaked up any attention I could get and learned attitudes in this unhealthy environment that stayed with me as I grew up. What I believed in my teenage years was that women were responsible for meeting all of men’s needs. I also learned that men’s most important need was for sex. I thought my needs were not important, because I was told I was selfish if I voiced them. If I could not meet the needs of others, I thought I was a “failure” and “unlovable.” These unhealthy beliefs caused me to seek out equally unhealthy, often sexaholic, partners when I began dating.

At age 18, my unhealthy world view led me to place myself in a situation in which I was raped. I was unable to report the crime or ask for help in dealing with its effects. In my thinking, it was my fault that it happened and my needs were inconsequential. My life was overshadowed by fear and loneliness, and I felt worthless.

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Spiritual Awakening

Working the Steps has given each of us spiritual awakenings, some dramatic and some so gradual they can only be seen through hindsight, yet our experiences have much in common. We can now do what we had previously been unable to do on our own. We have been transformed through accepting the help of a Higher Power, a previously underused source of strength. We have experienced the freedom of knowing that God’s help is always within reach. We have reached a new level of honesty, inner peace and love. Working the Steps has given us conscious contact with God and a rebirth of our own spirit. Living the Steps has given us new purpose, and we find that we are much more able to accept each challenge we may face as an opportunity for further growth. Practicing our program outside of S-Anon meetings can be difficult at times, but when we extend these spiritual principles into our daily lives, we enjoy a growing emotional maturity and become aware of even more spiritual awakenings. Using the principles of the Twelve Steps, we find that we can detach where we previously were obsessed. We develop compassion for those we had found unlovable. We respect ourselves. We are able to do what we never had been able to do before. We learn to assume our responsibilities and let others do the same. We know that whatever comes, our program and our Higher Power will help us to live fully and deal with problems as they arise. The gifts of the S-Anon program are truly ours.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 151-152.

Becoming Self-Supporting

I used to look to my husband to take care of all my needs, but through my working my program, I have seen that I need to grow up and take responsibility for myself. I have learned to lean on my Higher Power, surrender my sexaholic husband, and focus on improving myself. I know we both have a Higher Power with whom we can work and grow. Taking responsibility for me is critical for my health and welfare, because my husband is still active in his sexaholism. I work to keep the focus on myself by applying the principle of self-support from Tradition Seven.

I am working on taking better care of my responsibilities, such as earning the money I need, paying my own bills, managing my time, dealing with my own frustrations and stress, making recovery connections, and taking care of my physical needs. I am gentle with myself, and I connect with friends in recovery and others who help to nurture me. As a result of being more self-supporting, I spend less time being resentful toward my husband for
not meeting my needs. As I have worked Tradition Seven in my life, I have found that I have lightened up, have reconnected with my creativity, and am having more fun. These are some of the gifts I’ve received by becoming self-supporting.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 237.

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.