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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Expectations and Needs

There was a time, not so long ago, when I had given up on having any expectations for my relationship. I thought I had to accept whatever treatment I received from my partner. I had heard in meetings that “expectations are resentments waiting to happen,” so I thought, “I better not have any of those expectations!” As I continued to grow in S-Anon, I came to believe that I was worthy of respect and consideration. I found the answer in exploring the difference between expectations (looking forward into the future) and needs (which are mine to express today). I need to be treated with affectionate love and regard. I am not always right, but I need my ideas to be met with respectful consideration. My interests and hobbies are important, and I need time to pursue them. I need a partner to help carry out the routine tasks of maintaining a household. I need a satisfying sex life, and, most important, a partner willing to work with me in all these areas to improve the relationship. If my most important needs are to be met, I must let go of the expectation that “somebody” will meet my needs “someday” and, instead, consider the alternatives available to me today. Just for today, I will acknowledge my needs, affirm their importance, and choose to take one positive action in the direction of seeing that those needs are met.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 50.

 

Changing the Channel in My Brain

For a long time I constantly obsessed about the sexaholic’s behavior. Vivid pictures ran through my head like a grainy, X-rated film. Unfortunately, my obsession was like pouring salt on an open wound — over and over again. After several meetings and learning to apply the tools and principles of the S-Anon program to my life, I was able to go a few days without constantly focusing on the sexaholic. I started replacing my obsessive thoughts with working Steps One and Two, and with making outreach calls. After a few more months of meetings, I found I could go a week at a time without brooding over the past. I had a sponsor who I called regularly and spoke with whenever the old images and thoughts popped into my head. Reaching out helped me redirect my thinking and my behavior. My sponsor suggested that when the images and thoughts came to my mind, I turn them over to my Higher Power and visualize placing the sexaholic in God’s hands. I am powerless over whether or not the obsessive thoughts come, but when the images come into my head, I now have the tools necessary to change the channel in my brain. I can pray to my Higher Power, ask my sponsor for help and guidance, and write about my feelings and share them with another program member. I don’t have to feel obsession and pain; I can have serenity.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 351.

A Serenity Boost

I came to S-Anon a very short time before moving to a new city with my partner. It was a well-timed gift. When I first started attending meetings, my goal was to learn how to live with a sexaholic on a daily basis. Learning to live life in the present, and “doing the next right thing” with the help of my Higher Power, were a real help to me. Coming to see my own level of denial about many aspects of my life was painful, but it was helpful to understand that I am a work in progress. Meeting such wonderful friends in this program really helped me become acclimated to my new hometown and to my new “eyes open” way of life. A few months after beginning the program, I attended my first local S-Anon convention. It was a wonderful event and I returned home with a serene recovery boost. I found I needed it, because the next week I discovered my partner had relapsed. I was shocked and disappointed. Thankfully, I had my convention “booster shot.” I was prepared with recovery tools and the reinforced knowledge that his relapse was not my fault and I could not work his program for him. While it was not an easy time for me, I was so grateful I had this program and my wonderful fellow S-Anon members to help me through it with new-found serenity.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 162.

A Road Map to Face Life

Step Twelve: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Step Twelve has truly become a way of life for me. When I become upset or disturbed, my sponsor directs me back to the Steps. I start with Step One, and work as many Steps as needed, until I can see what has brought me to the place of discomfort. At some point I am able to see my part and what I need to do differently. When I am connected to my Higher Power, I can be an extension of God’s love and compassion toward myself and others. The love I feel flowing through me today has replaced my roller coaster days of impulsively reacting and feeling that sickening fear in the pit of my stomach. Allowing God to work through me is a result of practicing the spiritual principles of S-Anon in my life every day. Today I try to remember that the Steps are the most valuable gift I have been given. They are the road map to guide me as I face and deal with whatever life brings. They lead me back to God, love, and acceptance every time.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 46.

 

Balance

I am learning in recovery that if I want to experience peace and happiness, I need to do some basic but necessary foot work. I have found I need to consciously work on four areas of my life to find balance. The first is my conscious contact with my Higher Power. Practicing Step Eleven each day reminds me that I am not alone and not in charge. With this, nearly all other aspects of finding balance seem to flow much easier. Without this, things just don’t flow well at all. The second area is the rest of my program: getting to meetings regularly, and intentionally practicing the Steps and Traditions. This helps me continue to grow and feel healthier and happier with who I am. A commitment to prayer and meditation, and working the S-Anon program, help to support me in the third and fourth areas of my life: relationships with family and friends and responsibilities at work and outside activities. With recovery providing the solid foundation for my life, I am guided to do the next right thing. With recovery, I have a solid foundation to keep my life in balance and to be the best that I can be.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 215.

A Home in S-Anon

The other day, while getting ready for work, I saw my copy of AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions lying on my bedroom floor amidst the clothes and shoes. As I picked up the “Twelve and Twelve,” I remembered that I had purchased it soon after coming to S-Anon. I remembered how much pain I was in at that time. Aware of how far I have come since then, I felt a flood of gratitude come over me for having found this way of life. Like many who have gone before me, pain and desperation helped me to find a home in S-Anon. In S-Anon I have found a healthy way to think about myself and an approach to life that brings me serenity. I feel I am growing and gaining awareness in many areas of my life, including spirituality, for which I am grateful. It has been a slow process of coming to trust the Steps, my sponsor, my Higher Power, and the program. Today, I am grateful that the principles of the program are becoming a part of me, sort of like my “Twelve and Twelve” book has become a part of the stuff on my floor.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 68.

Steps Forward and Steps Back

Some time ago, my sponsor challenged me to think about the ways I disregarded or acknowledged spiritual growth in my life. I felt anxious and fearful as I considered the challenge. It occurred to me that I can feel afraid and still be growing spiritually. For instance, earlier in my recovery, I would tell people about my faults and weaknesses when I was afraid, thinking that this was a way to be humble. Unfortunately, feeling badly about myself overshadowed any humility I might have felt. I was overwhelmed with shame that I hadn’t seen the spiritual benefit in simply sharing with others, rather than isolating. At that time, in the recovery dance of “one step forward, two steps back,” I tended to focus only on the “two steps back.”  Working the Steps and regularly sharing with my sponsor has helped me acknowledge my spiritual growth. Spending quiet time with our literature and praying for my Higher Power’s guidance about a situation or concern often affirms that I am changing and growing. Today I am grateful that I can see my“ steps forward,” as well as my “steps back.”

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 55.

I Like Being Me

It wasn’t until I had about two years of recovery that I understood just how much I had been struggling with issues that most S-Anons face: the effects of sexaholism in my own life. I was finally coming face to face with the realization of how I had been conducting much of my life, and that somewhere down the line I had made the decision to push away the pain of living with sexaholism. My ticket in the door may have been my wife, but based on my experiences growing up, my seat in an S-Anon meeting had been reserved for me long ago. I now see how my every action and reaction in life was based on others, rather than on myself. It was as if I was a robot who only reacted to internal controls of which I was completely unaware. I was trying to fill a giant hole where my heart was supposed to be. I was trying to prove I was lovable by pleasing everyone else, by trying to be responsible for other people’s mistakes, by lying about my accomplishments, by false pride, and by false humility. I tried to fill the hole with anything false, then denied that my pain even existed. Today, thank God, this is not the way I live. Today I strive to do the next right thing. I have integrity today. I am growing in my recovery. I like being me. Today is a better day.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 108.