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©.

The Serenity Prayer – My Guide to Living

The Serenity Prayer helps me realize the difference between my responsibility and the other person’s responsibility. It involves taking control of myself and letting go of my control of others’ actions and opinions. That’s easier said than done, though, and I’ve had to work at finding ways to make this prayer a reality in my life.

Accepting Things I Cannot Change…Accepting the past as past has become important to my serenity. I have faced my past and called it what it is. Thankfully, it does not need to be repeated, nor does it need to remain so hurtful to me. I can give up my past dreams and idealistic goals. I can make new goals that include myself and my Higher Power’s will for me.

Courage to Change the Things I Can… I am learning to trust myself to rise to the occasion as a problem presents itself. I will have the resources when I need them. I don’t have to control the outcome but can learn to trust the process. This allows me to be less afraid of the future. I am learning to accept change and not automatically see it as the end of the world or negative, but rather an opportunity for growth.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference… I am learning to distinguish between what I can do and what’s not my responsibility. I can take responsibility for myself and stop my own negative behaviors. I can identify those things I find difficult to accept that cause me physical, emotional or spiritual depletion. I can choose to take care of myself by spending quality time with God. The more I get to know God, the more I trust His love and care for me.

 

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 42.

Let Go and Let God

The first time my husband was arrested for voyeurism I was frightened for myself and my family. I lied to the police and attempted to provide an alibi for him. I chose to lie because I did not have the courage to face my fears. I was afraid of what everyone would think if they knew I was married to a “peeping tom.” I was afraid of financial problems if he were to go to jail and lose his business. I was afraid he would be angry with me. The depth of shame I felt was immense. I constantly obsessed about him, his behavior, what he would do next and how hurt and angry I felt. I vigilantly sought more and more ways to protect my family from future catastrophe. I was angry, afraid and exhausted. Then I discovered S-Anon. I came to meetings and learned about boundaries and detachment: how to love someone without losing myself. I learned how to live in God’s grace and I opened myself to experiencing my Higher Power’s guidance. I got a sponsor, began working the Steps, used the telephone, talked with program members, and most importantly, listened to my Higher Power through the wisdom of others. The Serenity prayer… became my guide for living each day.

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Surrendering with the Serenity Prayer

I am constantly amazed at how much importance I place on what others think of me. I remember times when my partner, a friend, or a parent was angry with me and criticized me harshly. Their judgments and low opinions hurt my feelings, and I actually believed what they were saying. This occurred despite thinking I was someone “who could take it.” The Serenity Prayer has been valuable in surrendering others’ judgments of me. I am able to stop, take a deep breath, say the Serenity Prayer, check in with my sponsor to see if there is some action I need to take, and then let it go. The more I practice the Serenity Prayer in my daily life, the better I am getting to know myself and the will of my Higher Power. I am spending more time in a state of gratitude. When I have the wisdom to know the difference between what I can change and what I can’t, then what other people think of me becomes none of my business. The added bonus often has been the better I take care of myself, the more often others treat me respectfully.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 226.

Gratitude

This week, during a meeting on Step One and Tradition One, I became filled with gratitude for S-Anon and the courageous souls who share. A newcomer was in the meeting, sharing how she had tried to “go it alone,” but knew that the meetings were necessary for her. It felt as if Step One was coming to life right in front of me. I shared that in the beginning, I had fought with myself over the word “powerless”. If I were to be “powerless,” who was going to care for our young child? Clean the house? Pay the bills? Organize our lives? I could not bring myself to say that I was powerless! My life had just blown up and what I thought I knew, at the time, was just turned upside down. I shared my beginning because when a newcomer comes in, I retell some of my story, and it reminds me of where I started.

Another wave of gratitude filled me: I know what works – the S-Anon program works. The stories being told felt like part of ‘my story.’ I’m an S-Anon. I speak about and from the point of view of an S-Anon. I remember the hurt, shock and sadness that enveloped me, not only in my first meeting, but everywhere I went. Even though this pain persisted, my meeting became my lifeline, which held me from week to week. I heard the truth. My whole being experienced what the truth sounded like, and I began to heal. I continue to be healed by the meetings. At the recent LA convention, I heard other S-Anon’s share in meetings. A feeling of deep and abiding gratitude filled me for all those who walked before me, continue to walk with me, and who have the courage to show up each week.

 

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