Recently some S-Anon friends and I were reminiscing about our early days in the program. One friend good-naturedly shared how confusing it had been to listen to my sharing in meetings those first few years. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked her to tell me more. She said it seemed that I spoke in riddles and talked around things, as if I were hiding something. After thinking for a moment, I said, “Yes, that may be true.” That evening while doing my Tenth Step inventory, I reflected on what my friend had said, asking God to help me to be honest about my past and to grant me the openness to receive any new spiritual insight. I thought back to what I was like years ago and what brought me to S-Anon.
It wasn’t until I had about two years of recovery that I understood just how much I had been struggling with issues that most S-Anons face: the effects of sexaholism in my own life. I was finally coming face to face with the realization of how I had been conducting much of my life, and that somewhere down the line I had made the decision to push away the pain of living with sexaholism. My ticket in the door may have been my wife, but based on my experiences growing up, my seat in an S-Anon meeting had been reserved for me long ago. I now see how my every action and reaction in life was based on others, rather than on myself. It was as if I was a robot who only reacted to internal controls of which I was completely unaware. I was trying to fill a giant hole where my heart was supposed to be. I was trying to prove I was lovable by pleasing everyone else, by trying to be responsible for other people’s mistakes, by lying about my accomplishments, by false pride, and by false humility. I tried to fill the hole with anything false, then denied that my pain even existed. Today, thank God, this is not the way I live. Today I strive to do the next right thing. I have integrity today. I am growing in my recovery. I like being me. Today is a better day.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 108.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.