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.
During one weekend visit from my mother, I sat at my kitchen table just as the sun began to embrace the day. I had risen extra early to be able to read my meditation books before any one else got up, so naturally I felt a bit disappointed as I heard Mom come into the room to join me, pouring herself a cup of coffee. She asked what I was reading. After silently praying for acceptance before I responded, I looked at her and noticed a new softness and even an open yearning in her face. I felt a gentle inspiration from my Higher Power to read several paragraphs of the day’s meditation aloud. After I finished reading, I shared my gratitude for the healing God had brought into our lives and relationship. We had spoken before of the incest in our family and now with tears in her eyes, my Mom spoke again of her sorrow for not seeing sooner what Dad was doing, for not being stronger, for not being smarter. I looked into her weary eyes and told her that I finally knew she had no power to control Dad’s disease. I told her I now realized that she had been just as much a victim of this family disease as my brother, sisters, and I had been, and that I also now understood how this disease had swallowed Dad, too. Remembering how each of us children had been sexually abused and how even the family dog had not been spared from the effects of this disease, I told my Mom that I also had struggled with feelings of guilt and shame because I had not been able to protect anyone. As we cried together, I reached across the table to hold her hand. Our eyes connected, and it was as if time stood still, as images came to mind of the awakenings God had provided to me through working the Steps. I had become aware of why I had gotten into successive relationships with sexaholics. I had been willing to face painful flashbacks that seemed to swallow me whole at times, but ultimately helped me to face reality. I had been able to let go of blaming my mother for what my father had done and to let go of blaming myself, too. I had grieved the deep sadness from my childhood, layer by layer, as I healed and rose above it. I was filled with gratitude for my mother’s courage to look at her part in the family disease, too, and her willingness to talk about it.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 147.
When I first found out about the lies and betrayal that was sexaholism, the effects upon me were catastrophic. My hair fell out, I lost 20 lbs in about 3 weeks, and sleep became a lost luxury. I would actually sit bolt upright in bed during the night and loudly exclaim; “Oh My God!!” Anxiety and fear were my companions.
I found my way to S-Anon and eventually got a sponsor. Here I am 4 to 5 years later with a full set of unbitten nails, a solid, trusting relationship with my Higher Power, a room full of people some of whom I now call friends, my sense of humor intact, a little worn, but definitely not broken. In fact I feel more steady and peaceful than ever, on most days.
During one of my many phone conversations with my first sponsor, I explained that I really wanted my husband (a non-recovering sex addict) to see and hear how much he had hurt me. He didn’t think he had a problem and refused any counseling or recovery of any kind. I thought that if he saw how badly hurt I was, he might stop. Her response was; “Why are you going to an active addict with your feelings? They can’t even process their own feelings, much less yours. It’s like going to the casino. You never know how you’re going to end up.”
I had been learning in S-Anon that I had been doing lots of things that were keeping me from serenity and peace of mind, and it seemed impossible that I would ever be able to stop doing all those things. Later on, I began to realize that I would have little chance of changing my behavior in any kind of lasting way if my attitude didn’t change as well. My controlling, angry, self-righteous, self-willed, fearful, obsessive thinking was at the root of my problems. Yet how could I stop being angry, for example? I was also learning that I was entitled to my feelings, and that I had to acknowledge my real feelings, and not deny them and pretend to be something I wasn’t. I realized that emotional sobriety might be many years away if I waited for my feelings and attitudes to change just because I wanted them to. I decided to ask my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings, and in the meantime to help me, in certain situations, to “act” sober, even if I wasn’t feeling particularly sober at the time. It works, one day and one behavior at a time!
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, page 57.
In Step Seven we find a way to settle our emotional turmoil and make a move toward God. Only God could remove our obsession with the sexaholic, and only God can remove our defects of character. As we approach Step Seven, most of us have learned to call upon God in times of great need. We really have begun to desire humility, instead of just accepting it as something we “should” want. We have learned we can accomplish more with a humble attitude than we can when we are prideful and fearful. Humility works better not only when we are asking God for help, but also when we are dealing with the people in our lives. Humility allows us to ask for and accept God’s forgiveness. With that forgiveness, our consciences can be at ease. As long as we place genuine reliance upon a Higher power, our humility is at work. If we return to relying on our own strength and intelligence, we are still trying to play God.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 74.
Before S-Anon, I lived in past memories and sexaholic traumas. For example, I went into obsessive thinking when my partner wore the same clothes as he had the day before, believing that this meant he hadn’t spent the night at his own house. Other obsessive triggers included seeing women of certain ethnicities to whom I knew he was attracted, hearing about movies he had seen and I had not, and listening when he would describe women with whom he had had affairs as “friends.” I seldom experienced peace of mind – I was constantly reacting. I have steadily worked the S-Anon program for some time now, and I am rarely triggered into reacting anymore. I mind my own business and focus on the things I can change, rather than on the things I cannot control. I no longer participate in conversations with my partner which have to do with his sexual acting out. My sobriety and serenity depend upon my continuing to nurture a primary relationship with a Higher Power who brings me sanity.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 240.
S-Anon is helping me to see that just as lust is a serious problem for the sexaholic, my need to control is also a serious problem for me. When that character defect of being controlling is active in my life, I want things done my way at any cost. I want my husband to be just the way I want him to be.
Today, when I sense myself becoming anxious and controlling, I ask my Higher Power to help me see the other person (usually my husband) as a capable adult person, not wanting or needing my control. That person the dignity of making his or her own choices.
I am also grateful that through the gifts of my husband’s recovery, he now is able to alert me gently when I have over-stepped his boundaries. Little by little, our Higher Power is removing character defects from both of us.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 10.
Recently I found myself in several relationship struggles: needing to make an apology at work, having to be uncomfortably honest with a friend about her having hurt my feelings, and desperately trying to stay out of a conflict between my sister and my mother. On top of all that, I had to talk with two sponsees who were not working their program to our mutually agreed upon expectations. It felt like a snowball rolling downhill about to become an avalanche.
I always say that the Number One Affliction in our marriage brought to me the greatest gift in my life!! Sexaholism brought me to my knees as nothing else could ever have. I had a religious upbringing, but had no personal relationship with the God that I “THOUGHT” I was serving.
Once I accepted that I was powerless to control the sexaholic’s sobriety and to control my own life, I needed to find the God of my understanding who I could let be in control of my life.
I found this personal connection from working the S-Anon Steps, going to meetings, attending International Conventions (I’ve been to 20 consecutive Conventions, and a total of 24.), working with my sponsor, and my spiritual director.
I have been a member of S-Anon since 2003. It has been a difficult journey for me living with an active sexaholic not seeking recovery. I have felt guilty because I did not leave him when it seemed any sane person would not choose to live like this. Over the years, I have attended meetings often, worked the Twelve Steps, read my daily readings, prayed for guidance from my Higher Power, and called my sponsor faithfully.
At a critical time when I felt so much guilt over not leaving the sexaholic in my life, my sponsor guided me to make my own decision based upon my own prayer and meditation. She gave me permission to make a decision that I “thought” an intelligent person should not make – and that was to stay with my spouse (a sexaholic who does not practice recovery).