Focusing on Me

It was fall of 2006. I had been attending S-Anon meetings for a few months, but had not yet begun to write out the steps.  I was starting to absorb some ideas about what healthy and unhealthy behaviors in me looked like.  For example, I heard at meetings that checking on the sexaholic was injurious to me and created turmoil in my daily living. (My home group refers to it as “pain-shopping.”) I also knew that focusing on my own behaviors, feelings, and motivations was helpful.  Focusing/obsessing about the sexaholic in my life was not helpful and could be harmful (to me.)  Trying to fix myself and change my own faulty thinking was helpful and trying to fix/change and control my husband and others was crazy-making.

Although I was on the right path, and hearing and reading about all kinds of good recovery ideas, there were some practical lessons to be learned along the way.  My behaviors hadn’t begun to change yet. I thought that checking on the behavior of others, and knowing what they were doing would keep me safe. “Progress, not perfection.”  (I do so love the slogans of this program–they are very affirming.)  I believed in my heart that the program was going to help me, yet I hadn’t discovered that S-Anon and the ensuing Step-work was going to change my life in ways that I never dreamed possible.

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Hearing My Higher Power

I was angry with God, and felt that God had been punishing me. I would never have believed that a group of people could be part of my Higher Power. I would have thought that would be sacrilegious or something, but I see now how that works, and how God speaks through every one of us. I just could not have healed from the shame in my life without looking into other people’s eyes and seeing other faces and the nodding of their heads. When somebody in S-Anon says, “Yeah, I know how you feel,” they really do know! It’s as if they grew up in my house or were married to my husband. That has been very comforting and necessary for me as I have grown in the S-Anon program.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

Step of the Day

Working the Twelve Steps has become a way of life for me. I carry their simple, yet profound wisdom in my heart and in my head every day. Every morning, no matter how hectic, I take as much time as I possibly can to center myself for the day. Some days I have only a few minutes and some days I may have two hours to read from books of recovery, pray, and quietly sit in meditation. On days that I may only have a few minutes, I silently say the Serenity Prayer and choose one Step that I feel will help me the most during the day. If I don’t have an immediate feel for how my day will progress, I use the Step that correlates to the current month. I try to insert that Step into my day wherever possible. It always amazes me that there are always situations, thoughts, or feelings during any given day where my Step of the Day can be used. I find there is a need for me to use all twelve of the Steps in some way every day. By focusing daily on just one of the Twelve Steps, their meaning and their effectiveness on the quality of my daily life is made clearer to me.

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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.

 

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

It Was a Relief

I had been in Al-Anon for two years when I found out about my husband’s sexaholism. I took some positive steps toward my own recovery, but I had every excuse in the book not to attend S-Anon – “My other program is helping me. The S-Anon meeting is too small…I need a larger meeting. I’m not like those people. He never did those things. I might run into a client or former client.” It never occurred to me to question why the same excuses didn’t keep me away from my other program. When I did start to attend S-Anon meetings, I felt like a complete newcomer. I struggled with my wish to control, my guilt, and my anger. It was a relief to hear people talk about sexual issues. I began to look at what sex means to me and how I used sex to manipulate my husband and reassure myself of my self-worth. I talked about boundaries and abstinence. Today, I continue to work both programs because I need both. Ironic as it may seem, I am grateful for my husband’s sexaholism, because it has forced me to look at my own addiction to people and to the illusion of control. I’ve learned that I can draw strength from my Higher Power and the power of both of my groups.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

Although a Man, I Heard Pieces of my Own Story

I came to S-Anon based on a clear ultimatum from my wife—make some changes now or she was leaving. Despite her recovery and sexual sobriety, and my attendance at meetings of another Twelve Step Fellowship, my life was still unmanageable. On the advice of a counselor and people in other fellowships, I started attending S-Anon meetings. I felt uncomfortable attending my first few meetings, all those women and very few, if any, men. How could I relate to them or them to me? Slowly, as I became willing to listen and not judge, I heard pieces of my own story—the need to fix, the feeling that everything was my fault, and the resentment toward the sexaholic. What really amazed me was seeing some members, still living with active addiction, who seemed to be able to find serenity when I had none.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

The Beginning of My Recovery

I thought all the people were crazy and I was not coming back! My husband had gotten into recovery, which is what I had wanted for ten years. He started going to meetings, but I was so mad! I felt very left out, and inside I was raging, “He’s getting all this support when I’m the one who’s been injured! I’m the one who’s been hurt! Help me!” So I would drill him when he came home from meetings and ask, “What did you talk about?” It got to the point where one night my very soft-spoken husband exploded in anger, “If this is the way it’s going to be every time I go to a meeting, I’m going to stay home!” And I thought, “Oh no! Is he going to stop this because I’m angry that he’s getting better?”

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The Structure of My Recovery

Sex addiction came into my life seemingly out of nowhere. It felt like a big, black train in the night. After some serious step-work leading to self-examination, I realized that the “train whistles” had been very loud, and obvious. I now believe that I wasn’t able to see or hear the “train” for many reasons, one of which was that it simply wasn’t God’s timing for me to see it. Another reason was because of my S-Anon Problem– beginning with denial and faulty thinking. It took a long time for me accept my part in this mess and how I resonated with a line from the S-Anon Problem: “We chose friends and partners who could not or would not love and support us in a healthy way.” Once I steadied myself a little, I spent a lot of time smacking myself on the back of the head wondering how I could have missed this glaring problem that existed in my home (and probably had for some time before.) I had always thought of myself as smart and sassy, so this shook my self-esteem to the core on many levels. During those crazy early days of “discovery,” also known, for me, as “shock and awe,” somehow I knew that within all the insanity I had to find some structure, something to stop my mind from wandering, or I would not survive this.

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