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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.