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.
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.