Plan A? Plan B? Or Plan C?

Here is my experience with a great sharing I heard at a meeting. It went something like this:

– Sharing: You know, I always come to God with ‘Plan A’ – what I really want.

– My experience: God, I would really like the sexaholic to show me affection the way I think she should.

– Sharing: But I know that God may have something else in mind, so I come prepared with ‘Plan B’ too.

– My experience: OK, God, if I can’t have the affection I want from my wife, could you at least get her to spend more time with me?

– Sharing: What I forget is that God has a much broader point of view than I do, and generally has a ‘Plan C’ – a wonderful plan I could never have dreamed of – tucked away in his back pocket.

– My experience: So what happened was…I got out of my wife’s way, called my S-Anon sponsor and went to a lot more meetings. I stopped being so demanding.

I was able to Let Go and Let God. A few weeks later my wife left me a note saying, “Went to my meeting. Be back soon. I would like to have some time with you. I made a special dinner, please provide the flowers.”

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 291.

Accepting Reality

“I’ve been doing this for a year now and nothing is better,” I muttered to myself as I trudged from my car to the S-Anon meeting room. I was angry. I wanted the pain to be over and the stress to be gone. I wanted to find some peace in my marriage and in myself.

The topic of the meeting that night was acceptance. As I listened to the sharing, I found my anger dissipating and my clarity growing. It occurred to me that I had been trying to move ahead with my marriage, rather than facing my pain and the lessons it had for me. I had not fully accepted the reality that the trust in the marriage had been broken and needed to be rebuilt with honesty.

When it was my turn to speak that evening, I shared some of these thoughts. I also shared that the hardest part of acceptance was admitting I was not in control, and that the anger that continued to plague me was really anger at God because I was not in control.

Since my awareness at that meeting, I have tried to slow myself down and make sure I come to acceptance before I take action on any issue. Regarding my marriage, I pray for “the serenity to accept what I cannot change, courage to change what I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” I trust that the correct course of action will be clear when the time is right. The S-Anon fellowship reminds me that I can have serenity now if I am willing to trust the process.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 305.

Life Became Simple and Peaceful

After reading Step One in S-Anon Twelve Steps, I listed where I had been powerless as a result of trying to exert power over others. Topping this list were situations in which I feared being emotionally abandoned.

I learned very early to connect with people who had difficulties, because they inevitably needed help with their problems and consequently would not leave me. Unfortunately, my fear of abandonment tormented me into becoming whatever they wanted. So I stayed with my sexaholic partner, even though his behavior threatened my health.

S-Anon helped me see that my fear had led me to abandon myself through having no boundaries. So I began setting boundaries and taking care of my emotional well-being. In response, my spouse began to physically and emotionally distance himself. I was terrified he would leave, but I had learned to ask myself, “Must I tolerate sexual and emotional abuse in exchange for maintaining a relationship?”  The answer gradually came: to stay with my husband meant accepting things that were unhealthy and intolerable for me, physically and spiritually. I had to risk his abandonment in order to heal.

When I finally accepted I would be in the care of my Higher Power no matter what others chose to do, I was able to let go of the fear and let go of my marriage. Amazingly, my life became so much more simple and peaceful.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 273.

More Than My Emotions

After I came out of denial and faced the reality that my beloved partner was a sexaholic, I experienced terrible emotional pain, especially fear. It seemed like much of the time I felt so overwhelmed by those emotions that I actually became the fear and pain.

To calm myself, I have found that it helps to first acknowledge my pain and fear. Just noticing my emotions allows me to separate myself from those awful nagging feelings. This distance helps me see that I am not just a lump of pain or fear – I am more than my emotions. One of our S-Anon slogans says, “This Too Shall Pass.” In thirty minutes (or a day or week), I may well feel better.

I also focus on observing my breathing as a method of detaching from my obsessive thoughts and overwhelming feelings. By focusing on my breath and following the rising and falling of my abdomen, I actually slow down my racing thoughts, and I am released from obsession. Focusing on my physical body gently brings me back to key realities: I am a living, breathing being, and I am on a path led by my Higher Power.

I need not give in to despair or painful emotions. I can find relief in the present moment when I breathe, acknowledge my feelings, and remember that they are not permanent.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 335.

Forgiveness and Serenity

Growing up, I thought forgiveness was something I had to feel all the time, so forgiveness seemed impossible for me. In working the S-Anon Steps, I not only found forgiveness, but also the serenity it can bring.

Seven years after my first husband, a sexaholic, died, I still visited his grave each year. By his graveside, I would remember and relive the hurtful betrayal I felt during our nineteen years of marriage. This year when I visited his grave, I felt a peace that hadn’t been there before. In the months leading up to my visit, I had been working Step Nine, which helped me understand that I had never forgiven my husband for his infidelities in our marriage, and that I had been holding onto the past. I also realized I had not forgiven myself for my role in our misery together.

Today I choose to let go of past hurts and I offer my experiences to others to help carry the message. I pray for people who have harmed me, which helps me to let go and begin to heal. I ask God to forgive me for my part, and for the willingness to forgive. If I need to make direct amends, I do so promptly. When the matter returns to my mind, I pray, “God bless that person” instead of replaying the incident in my mind. As a result of these ongoing Step Nine and Ten actions, I am enjoying the peace and serenity that come with forgiveness.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 316.

 

A Message of Hope

When I first discovered the sexaholic behavior of my spouse, I was angry enough to implode. I became so over- whelmed that I used a survival technique learned long ago: distracting myself with busyness to numb my feelings. Months later, my fear and anxiety re-surfaced, and I became very ill. I could no longer deny the reality of my situation. My illness was a wake-up call, helping me realize how severely I had been affected by the sexaholic behavior of not only my spouse, but also of three other intimate partners previous to my marriage.

Fortunately, I made a phone call to the local S-Anon hotline. After I poured out my story to the person who an- swered my call, she read “The S-Anon Problem” from the Newcomer’s Booklet – Helpful Information for the New- comer.” I could relate to every word! Hearing that reading profoundly changed my life.

I attended my first meeting and, in the midst of my pain, I knew S-Anon was where I belonged and that it would be the source of my healing. Now I keep our booklet for newcomers close to the phone so when anyone calls out for help, I can choose a section to read to them. I, too, can carry the S-Anon message of hope.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 12.

Recovery from Snooping

Before I got into recovery, I was a terrible snooper. I would go through the sexaholic’s personal belongings, try to listen in on phone conversations, and read his e-mail. When I actually did find evidence of his acting out, I was too ashamed of my behavior to admit what I had been doing. I suffered through the pain of what I had seen, and I also stuffed my feelings of rage because I did not think I could confront him.

In recovery, I have learned that I do not have to hurt myself by searching for evidence of my spouse’s acting out. Trying to catch the sexaholic keeps the focus on my spouse, and is a way for me to avoid my own recovery. I have a right to know if I am in danger of getting a sexually transmitted disease. Rather than snooping, however, I can directly ask my spouse for the truth, trust my intuition, and ask my sponsor’s perspective.

I have learned to ask for God’s help to see things as they are. Then I can decide if there are boundaries I need to set and implement for myself, such as a period of abstinence for my safety or for my S-Anon sobriety. Keeping the focus on myself has eased my pain and increased my serenity. I know that I can trust God to reveal whatever “evidence” I need to know.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 48.

I Had Been My Own Worst Critic

My sponsor helped me understand why I needed to be on my amends list. She pointed out that I had been my own worst critic. I often accepted blame and said, “I’m sorry,” whether or not I was responsible for a situation. She reminded me of how I had put my interests and priorities, such as finishing my college degree, on the back burner time after time. I indeed had harmed myself and I wrote my name down, too.

God brought to mind the many others who rounded out my amends list: extended family, co-workers, and people I had known socially and in my faith community, even some who had died. Today, even though I’ve moved on in my Step work, I still make it a practice to review my Eighth Step list periodically. I prayerfully consider if there are more things I need to be willing to do in each case. With my mind and heart in a willing place, it’s amazing how my Higher Power leads me.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 210.

Loving Connections

Growing up, I never felt very close to my father. I think I compensated for my hunger for love by trying desperately to please the men I dated, hoping to gain their love. It seemed to me that sex was the core of experiencing intimacy with a man – the most important sign of love. I thought if I were sexually active and did what these men wanted, I would in turn have my emotional needs met. Eventually I married a sexaholic, and thankfully entered the doors of S-Anon.

My recovering husband relapsed about a year and a half ago. My husband and I decided to completely abstain from sex for a while. Our abstinence revealed so much about our connection – or lack of connection – with each other. We began to learn other ways of being intimate – through sharing, listening, giving or receiving a touch, a glance, a smile, or a tear. I also started to love myself and accept the love of a Higher Power.

As I look back at the time of my husband’s relapse, I can see how a“bad” thing became a wonderful opportunity for me, and for us and for our marriage. Through abstinence, I have had so many insights into myself and my history of relationships. I now know sex is not the most important sign of love.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 191.

Understanding Humility

In Step Seven, I struggled with humility. I used to think that either I had to be the best or I was the absolute worst. In my relationship with my sexaholic partner, I always thought of myself as having authority because I believed I was stronger, more capable, righteous, and the responsible one – I was at the top of the ladder so I didn’t need to be humble. Humility was for my sexaholic partner – somewhere down toward the bottom of the ladder.

As I began to work the Steps, I was able to look at my own shortcomings, such as perfectionism, self-righteousness, pride, and even arrogance. Over time I have learned to accept these shortcomings as part of my humanity, part of what makes me no better and no worse than anyone else.

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