Coming to my first S-Anon meeting, I was thinking that I’d find the “keys to recovery for the sexaholic in my life.” Instead, what I found was the S-Anon Problem. It hit me square in the eyes — and it left a welt for days. But it was a spiritual awakening for me. I was broken enough to know that my self-reliance had run riot in my life and I was out of other options. I was lucky that day because a woman who’d had decades of program experience said to me “Honey, I can tell you one thing, and one thing only. Your only hope is the Steps and the Traditions. Don’t skip either.” I believed her and so I surrendered. My disease had me beat.
We were a new group — and we felt alone. None of us had done S-Anon work before and we all lacked sponsors. We called the WSO [World Service Office] and were given the names of some established, larger groups in our region. Most of us found out of town sponsors – something for which we are eternally grateful. In talking to these women I learned that in one city they did annual Step Studies. I thought: “OK; I can do that.” This really appealed to me because the commitment I had to myself was never as strong as my commitment to others. If I could get a Step Study going, I knew my desire to honor the group would keep me coming back and doing the work. For three weeks I announced in the meeting that I was going to start a Step Study and that if you wanted to participate, come to the planning meeting. Miraculously, ten women joined the study and the spiritual journey began. We met each Saturday morning for 2 hours and we went over 3 questions from the S-Anon Twelve Step Workbook out loud. We established guidelines – this was not to be a therapy group, no cross-talk, and no breeches of anonymity outside this room. We committed to each other and to ourselves. And it literally saved our lives. Read more
Every time I share about my experiences with sexaholism and what happened to me throughout my childhood, my adult life, and my marriage the pain decreases. I can see more clearly now that I am speaking the truth about my situation. I had been in denial about those experiences prior to my S-Anon recovery. I knew I had been living a lie, but I didn’t want to admit it. When I allowed the light and the truth to come in, I found a brand new life waiting for me. Carrying the message has helped me to heal. When I speak the truth, the truth sets me free. That is a spiritual principle that always works for me. Carrying the message of my truth to others is like turning on the light in a dark room. The darkness just goes. I love to carry this message of hope and recovery.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 111.
What about practicing these principles in all our affairs? Can we bring the same love and tolerance we are developing in the S-Anon group to our families, personal relationships, and work relationships? Yes, we can begin. This is how further spiritual development occurs. We have seen the importance of “walking the walk,” not just “talking the talk.” We found that our old habit of following our impulses needed revision, because some of our impulses led us into rage, fear and irrational thinking. We learned that giving in to those impulses was not always the best choice for our emotional serenity. As we placed our spiritual growth first, we discovered a better way of living for ourselves and those around us. We surely have come a long way since the time when our desperate need for emotional security drove us into unworkable relationships. We had either dominated others or been overly dependent upon them. We had played games, putting ourselves in the position of the victim, the rescuer or the persecutor. At times we interchanged all of those roles. Read more
The other day, while getting ready for work, I saw my copy of AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions lying on my bedroom floor amidst the clothes and shoes. As I picked up the “Twelve and Twelve,” I remembered that I had purchased it soon after coming to S-Anon. I remembered how much pain I was in at that time. Aware of how far I have come since then, I felt a flood of gratitude come over me for having found this way of life. Like many who have gone before me, pain and desperation helped me to find a home in S-Anon. In S-Anon I have found a healthy way to think about myself and an approach to life that brings me serenity. I feel I am growing and gaining awareness in many areas of my life, including spirituality, for which I am grateful. It has been a slow process of coming to trust the Steps, my sponsor, my Higher Power, and the program. Today, I am grateful that the principles of the program are becoming a part of me, sort of like my “Twelve and Twelve” book has become a part of the stuff on my floor.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 68.
I have to begin by saying that I really never saw myself sitting in a Twelve Step Meeting. Even after I became aware of the existence of sexaholism in my life and the need to recover from its effects upon me, I was still a little resistant to the idea. When it became painfully obvious to me that I needed to do something in order to get spiritually healthy (let’s say that God gave me the gift of desperation), I became more open to trying something different. I still had my doubts, though. I thought to myself, “Why do they keep saying “hi” over and over?” I didn’t really like the hand-holding circle at the end either. However, I knew that I couldn’t go on any longer as I had been. I went to my first meeting and people kept saying “Keep coming back.” I did. I really had no choice; I had to do something. Then about a year into it I joined a Step Study group. As I sit here today four years later, I have come to view the Twelve Steps as a God-given, fool-proof (It works when you work it) method for resolving internal conflict. They are a vehicle for me to work through the grief/pain from problems and situations that arise every day –a kind of spiritual road map for my soul that God drew for me.
As we start to practice the principles of the S-Anon Program, positive changes occur in our perspectives and actions. At times our progress seems slow, but we learn to appreciate progress and not demand perfection. Sometimes it takes a while to understand the various principles. We find that we can revisit certain Steps or apply them to additional aspects of our lives. We learn to trust the guidance and timing of our Higher Power to help us become aware of attitudes and behaviors that stand in the way of our recovery. Our sponsor or another S-Anon member can often help us, too. We begin to experience our Higher Power’s gift of serenity, and our confusion, fear, and depression lessen. In this way we carry the message of our recovery to S-Anon members, and to others, as well.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 98.
A popular discussion topic of many meetings I go to in S-Anon is “spiritual awakening.” Over the years of my recovery, I have come to think of a spiritual awakening as “becoming aware of the obvious.” My awakenings have always been so simple and right in front of me, but early on I would usually miss them because I was lost in my “how my relationship should be if only…” fantasy. Diligently working the Steps gradually removed the fantasy and revealed the obvious insights that were just waiting for me. I am astounded by God’s ability to free so many of us by His message of truth, as He weaves our healing with that of those around us when we follow His lead and carry the message.
Some time ago, my sponsor challenged me to think about the ways I disregarded or acknowledged spiritual growth in my life. I felt anxious and fearful as I considered the challenge. It occurred to me that I can feel afraid and still be growing spiritually. For instance, earlier in my recovery, I would tell people about my faults and weaknesses when I was afraid, thinking that this was a way to be humble. Unfortunately, feeling badly about myself overshadowed any humility I might have felt. I was overwhelmed with shame that I hadn’t seen the spiritual benefit in simply sharing with others, rather than isolating. At that time, in the recovery dance of “one step forward, two steps back,” I tended to focus only on the “two steps back.” Working the Steps and regularly sharing with my sponsor has helped me acknowledge my spiritual growth. Spending quiet time with our literature and praying for my Higher Power’s guidance about a situation or concern often affirms that I am changing and growing. Today I am grateful that I can see my“ steps forward,” as well as my “steps back.”
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 55.
My first six months in S-Anon were marked with trauma about all the discoveries in my 20 plus years of marriage. I was focused on what I thought I had and on fears about what I might lose. I went to meetings and I felt better when I left than when I came. I bought the literature and tried to read something every day to steady myself. People kept saying; “Try this it will help” and “Keep coming back.” I was in such deep pain and was just trying to function on a very basic level (sleep, eat, and work). God had opened the blinds for me to see reality, but now I had to turn around and look out the window.
For me, a slip is going back to the way I used to act and react before I came into the S-Anon program. I used to believe that I had to control others and that I was responsible for their behavior. For example, I was sexual with my husband before he traveled, thinking that it would make him less likely to look at other women while he was away from home. In S-Anon I learned that for my own recovery and for the good of the people I love, I had to stop trying to control everything. I found that people need to learn and do things for themselves. Even if I believe I have all the answers, I need to let people figure it out in their own way. I still have to bite my tongue in order not to explain to my husband my opinions about why he’s feeling the way he is, how it relates to his family of origin, and what he can do about it. Often I still want to control, manage, and be responsible, and I do have slips. After all, it took a long time to develop the habits I brought into the program, and I know today that nobody is perfect. In recovery I’m learning that although I may not have a choice about feeling these feelings, I have a choice about whether to act on them or not. With time it has gotten easier to recognize these feelings for what they are, without having to act on them.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 54-55.