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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have noticed a huge spurt in my emotional growth since attending a recent S-Anon International Convention. I drove away from the Convention with an important awareness: I must focus on my behavior rather than anyone else’s. I have always known that focusing on ourselves is a key principle of the S-Anon program, but I didn’t have the in sight into my own behavior until the Convention. This awareness has helped me change my behavior toward my sexaholic family member. I no longer try to manipulate by making “helpful hints.” I do not make sarcastic remarks, putting down the sexaholic for his behavior. I see the insanity of my thinking and behavior. I thought if I acted mean and said hurtful things, it would cure or control the sexaholic from acting out in his disease. Instead, I am now asking myself, “What’s going on with me when I feel that ‘urge’ to put others down? How is my behavior helping or hindering my serenity? Can I feel compassion for myself and others?”
My behavior has changed with other family members also: I am no longer pushing myself on my adult children. If they don’t want my input on something, or if they have a change of plans and are unable to visit me, I use my program tools to work through how I am feeling. I can then make a plan to get on with my day. By changing the things I can, I have a better understanding of why we call this a “family disease” and of my part in it. This new awareness has done wonders for my serenity!
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 11.
S-Anon is helping me to see that just as lust is a serious problem for the sexaholic, my need to control is also a serious problem for me. When that character defect of being controlling is active in my life, I want things done my way at any cost. I want my husband to be just the way I want him to be.
Today, when I sense myself becoming anxious and controlling, I ask my Higher Power to help me see the other person (usually my husband) as a capable adult person, not wanting or needing my control. That person the dignity of making his or her own choices.
I am also grateful that through the gifts of my husband’s recovery, he now is able to alert me gently when I have over-stepped his boundaries. Little by little, our Higher Power is removing character defects from both of us.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 10.
Recently I found myself in several relationship struggles: needing to make an apology at work, having to be uncomfortably honest with a friend about her having hurt my feelings, and desperately trying to stay out of a conflict between my sister and my mother. On top of all that, I had to talk with two sponsees who were not working their program to our mutually agreed upon expectations. It felt like a snowball rolling downhill about to become an avalanche.
In one of those amazing program coincidences, I attended an S-Anon meeting on sponsorship only a few hours after my sponsor asked me to do a mini-inventory of our sponsor/sponsee relationship. The meeting chairperson passed around a box containing questions about sponsor- ship on individual pieces of paper. She asked each of us to answer the question we drew from the box and to make our comments pertinent to what we hoped to gain from having a sponsor. My question was: “Why is sponsorship important?” Here is my answer.