Step Two for me has been like the bigger-and-bigger hammer theory exemplified in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. Bugs hits Daffy Duck over the head with a hammer, only the hammer is the size of a gavel, insufficient to get Daffy’s attention. By the time all is said and done, Bugs is whamming Daffy with a mallet the size of a family car. In an exaggerated and humorous way, this cartoon reminds me of how my Higher Power lovingly tried to reach me my whole life. Even though I grew up in a very religious family, my ego thrived as my personal god well into my adulthood. Consequently I did not have a real relationship with God. Instead, my attention was focused on controlling my own life and manipulating other peoples’ lives. The little gavels of life didn’t work on me. It took a huge “hammer” to get through to me — the crisis of sexaholism in my home — before I could understand the need for a Higher Power in my life.
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.
In my life before recovery, many people I considered to be “powers greater than myself” abused me with that power emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually. As a result, when I came to S-Anon I was not eager to willingly “turn myself over” to any power. Building on the foundation of Step Two, I have begun to experience a true spiritual connection with a Power greater than myself and have become willing to turn my will and my life over to that Power. I have begun to trust in the experiences of others and have surrendered my need to control every situation to protect myself from nameless, faceless, countless dangers. I have seen that this Power can be trusted, will always be with me and will never abandon or betray me. This does not mean that my life will be free of difficulties – it does mean that I will have what I need to face them and will not have to face them alone.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 39-40.
Living with the effects of sexaholism wore me out, and I finally reached the limits of my own power. I realized that I could not solve my problems without help. I had no other options, so I turned to God once more. This time it was with a different attitude. I said a prayer that went something like this: “God, I can’t take it anymore. I need your help. I realize that in the past you have answered my prayers with some painful truths. If there is more pain to go through in order to stop my suffering, then I’m willing to accept it, whatever the cost.” Following the prayer, I asked my husband to level with me about the other women. Instead of the standard denial and counterattack, he admitted everything. As I had feared, it was painful to face the truth, but in doing so I began laying the foundation for the serenity I would come to find. It has been over ten years since the day I first came to believe that God could, and would, restore me to sanity. I had feared that facing the truth would mean the end of my relationship with my partner, but it turned out to be just the beginning. With God’s help and some time, the wounds healed. I no longer turn to God only in a crisis. I apply God’s will to the little things in life as well, like struggles at work. I’ve learned that frustration is a sign that I have lost sight of Step Two — that I am relying on my own plan and power instead of God’s plan and God’s power. The program slogans “Turn it Over” and “Let Go and Let God” remind me that there is a Higher Power. Each time I practice these slogans, I come to believe on a deeper level.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 20-21.
What is a spiritual awakening in our S-Anon program? it is the ability to do, feel and believe, through God’s power, that which a person could not do before with his or her own power. We have awakened to a concept of a loving God in our lives. This spiritual awakening is a gift that raises us to a higher level of awareness and gives us hope. We truly have been changed. We have received the grace of God, which simply means “a free gift.” We find ourselves experiencing a degree of honesty, tolerance, unselfishness, serenity and love which seemed so hard to reach before recovery. We receive the precious gift of serenity by practicing the Twelve Steps. Beginners who doubt themselves and their ability to progress can be viewed objectively by the rest of the group as we see the positive changes taking place in their lives. The person who claims that he or she does not understand the “spiritual angle” can predictably come to have conscious contact with God. “Freely you have received, now freely give …” is the motto of Step Twelve. Even the newcomer finds a rewarding experience in carrying the message to others who want the help of S-Anon. Although our own characters are still in need of much work, we have been greatly helped by encouraging others to find recovery, new purpose and meaning in life. We are seeing the lives of men and women who share our message change from darkness to light and from despair to hope. We can help others who are suffering from the effects of sexaholism better than anyone else can.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 143-144.
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.
The combination of self-examination, meditation and prayer gives us a foundation for living. The regular practice of prayer and meditation rewards us with emotional balance, a sense of belonging and knowing that God watches lovingly over us. Even when we feel cut off from our Higher Power’s help and direction (which we all experience sometimes), we should simply resume prayer as soon as we can, doing what we know to be good for us. Our situation then becomes less disturbing and we begin to feel safer in the world. As we gain small glimpses of God’s reality, we know our path will continue to lead us to greater knowledge of His will.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 129.
What about practicing these principles in all our affairs? Can we bring the same love and tolerance we are developing in the S-Anon group to our families, personal relationships, and work relationships? Yes, we can begin. This is how further spiritual development occurs. We have seen the importance of “walking the walk,” not just “talking the talk.” We found that our old habit of following our impulses needed revision, because some of our impulses led us into rage, fear and irrational thinking. We learned that giving in to those impulses was not always the best choice for our emotional serenity. As we placed our spiritual growth first, we discovered a better way of living for ourselves and those around us. We surely have come a long way since the time when our desperate need for emotional security drove us into unworkable relationships. We had either dominated others or been overly dependent upon them. We had played games, putting ourselves in the position of the victim, the rescuer or the persecutor. At times we interchanged all of those roles. Read more
I have to begin by saying that I really never saw myself sitting in a Twelve Step Meeting. Even after I became aware of the existence of sexaholism in my life and the need to recover from its effects upon me, I was still a little resistant to the idea. When it became painfully obvious to me that I needed to do something in order to get spiritually healthy (let’s say that God gave me the gift of desperation), I became more open to trying something different. I still had my doubts, though. I thought to myself, “Why do they keep saying “hi” over and over?” I didn’t really like the hand-holding circle at the end either. However, I knew that I couldn’t go on any longer as I had been. I went to my first meeting and people kept saying “Keep coming back.” I did. I really had no choice; I had to do something. Then about a year into it I joined a Step Study group. As I sit here today four years later, I have come to view the Twelve Steps as a God-given, fool-proof (It works when you work it) method for resolving internal conflict. They are a vehicle for me to work through the grief/pain from problems and situations that arise every day –a kind of spiritual road map for my soul that God drew for me.
A popular discussion topic of many meetings I go to in S-Anon is “spiritual awakening.” Over the years of my recovery, I have come to think of a spiritual awakening as “becoming aware of the obvious.” My awakenings have always been so simple and right in front of me, but early on I would usually miss them because I was lost in my “how my relationship should be if only…” fantasy. Diligently working the Steps gradually removed the fantasy and revealed the obvious insights that were just waiting for me. I am astounded by God’s ability to free so many of us by His message of truth, as He weaves our healing with that of those around us when we follow His lead and carry the message.