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.

Finding Humor

A few years ago, I was reading a book that I knew my mother was going to read after me. In it I found passages I thought she needed to hear — things I believed would make her a better person (by my definition, of course). These were things I didn’t have the courage to say to her myself. I didn’t want her to miss any of these gems, so I highlighted them and passed the book on to her. I was anticipating receiving her response, but after weeks went by, I asked her casually about it. “Oh,” she said, “I didn’t have time to read it so I gave it to my friend as a gift. I’ll get another copy for myself later.” I’m still wondering what my mom’s friend thought when she saw that the book had been pre-highlighted for her. One of the gifts of the S-Anon program for me is laughter. I am able to laugh at my behavior, not with shame but with love. I have done many things that seem absurd if I look at them objectively — things that didn’t seem funny at the time. I was desperate to control something that was beyond my control — usually another person. Later, when I described my behavior to my S-Anon group, I suddenly saw the humor and absurdity in it, and soon we were all laughing. This is a major transformation for me, since I grew up in an environment where being laughed at meant being humiliated and disdained. Today, I can be both humorous and lovable at the same time, which was something I never knew.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 34.

Becoming Self-Supporting

I used to look to my husband to take care of all my needs, but through my working my program, I have seen that I need to grow up and take responsibility for myself. I have learned to lean on my Higher Power, surrender my sexaholic husband, and focus on improving myself. I know we both have a Higher Power with whom we can work and grow. Taking responsibility for me is critical for my health and welfare, because my husband is still active in his sexaholism. I work to keep the focus on myself by applying the principle of self-support from Tradition Seven.

I am working on taking better care of my responsibilities, such as earning the money I need, paying my own bills, managing my time, dealing with my own frustrations and stress, making recovery connections, and taking care of my physical needs. I am gentle with myself, and I connect with friends in recovery and others who help to nurture me. As a result of being more self-supporting, I spend less time being resentful toward my husband for
not meeting my needs. As I have worked Tradition Seven in my life, I have found that I have lightened up, have reconnected with my creativity, and am having more fun. These are some of the gifts I’ve received by becoming self-supporting.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 237.

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.

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.

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.

Powerless…Not an Admission of Failure

I always thought that if I read a book or took a class on a subject, I could learn enough to tackle any task or solve any problem. I lived under this illusion for 43 years until I discovered my wife’s sexaholism. I read every book, went to seminars, and talked to experts, yet I only felt more and more crazy.

When I tried the S-Anon program, I finally started to feel calm and sane. I learned that admitting I was powerless over sexaholism was not an admission of failure, but the beginning of recovery. S-Anon taught me that I do not need to analyze what she does. It is hard enough for me to learn why I do the things I do. When I spend so much time trying to understand her illness, I see that I really am avoiding looking at my own S-Anon problem.

Today I can let go of the need to understand the inner workings of the sexaholic, and I can ask my Higher Power to reveal the truth about myself. I try to remember that as I come to know myself, I am better able to let go of others.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 217.

Living in Reality

I recently had a huge insight: acceptance is not about ignoring the sexaholic’s behavior or my feelings about it; acceptance is about fully acknowledging reality and my feelings about it. In the past, I had “accepted” the sexaholic’s acting out, his apologies, and his pleas for forgiveness by swallowing my feelings. This allowed us to move on because I glossed over my own grief. I finally saw that this kind of automatic forgiveness is artificial. It delays my grieving, and only causes greater pain in the end. Acceptance has meant taking the time to grieve the loss of what I thought I had in my life. I have found that I can safely deal with my feelings of grief by sharing them with S-Anon program members and my sponsor. I am finding peace through accepting that sexaholism is a disease and that my reaction to sexaholism is part of that disease. I have hope that my husband and I can work through our problems and sort out decades of sexaholism with the help of S-Anon, SA, and qualified professionals. I also have hope that, with S-Anon’s help, I will even be able to forgive my husband someday from a place of peace. Today I pray for acceptance of the reality of what has happened and is happening, and I pray for God’s guidance in dealing with that reality.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 137.

Once Triggered…Now Serene

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.