The Only Person I Can Change Is Me

I tried everything to change the sexaholic. I was silent. I was angry. I begged, pleaded, and manipulated. Nothing worked. I just brought myself more frustration, hurt, resentment, and misery. S-Anon is helping me learn I need to let go of trying to change someone else, because the only one I can change is me. I don’t like change; it is uncomfortable and scary to me. Sometimes I try to stay safe by taking no risks, but I am seeing that change happens anyway because change is a part of life. I am taking little baby steps, working to change myself with God’s help. While I still want to change overnight, these baby steps are adding up to a significant difference in my life, despite sometimes going one step forward and two steps backward. When I’m off balance, I can slip back into trying to change others. I need to bring the focus back to me and remind myself that progress, not perfection, is what counts. I am doing the best I can today, and when I let go and let God guide me, I remember that God will take care of changing whatever or whoever needs to be changed.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 200.

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.

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.

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 for Healing

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.

Getting in Touch With My Feelings

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.”

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