Spiritual Awakening

Working the Steps has given each of us spiritual awakenings, some dramatic and some so gradual they can only be seen through hindsight, yet our experiences have much in common. We can now do what we had previously been unable to do on our own. We have been transformed through accepting the help of a Higher Power, a previously underused source of strength. We have experienced the freedom of knowing that God’s help is always within reach. We have reached a new level of honesty, inner peace and love. Working the Steps has given us conscious contact with God and a rebirth of our own spirit. Living the Steps has given us new purpose, and we find that we are much more able to accept each challenge we may face as an opportunity for further growth. Practicing our program outside of S-Anon meetings can be difficult at times, but when we extend these spiritual principles into our daily lives, we enjoy a growing emotional maturity and become aware of even more spiritual awakenings. Using the principles of the Twelve Steps, we find that we can detach where we previously were obsessed. We develop compassion for those we had found unlovable. We respect ourselves. We are able to do what we never had been able to do before. We learn to assume our responsibilities and let others do the same. We know that whatever comes, our program and our Higher Power will help us to live fully and deal with problems as they arise. The gifts of the S-Anon program are truly ours.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 151-152.

Letting Go of “I Know Best”

We come to see that the foundation of Step Seven is humility, that is, a willingness to accept ourselves as we are and to accept God’s help. Humility is not about weakness, submissiveness, or humiliation. Rather it is about surrendering the attitude that seems to be the root of many of our troubles: “I know best.” Being humble does not mean we stop trying to take positive action on our own behalf. Instead we stop relying exclusively on our own
strength and intelligence and come to genuinely trust in our Higher Power’s will for us, asking God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Like Step Three, Step Seven is an action Step in the form of a prayer. For most of us, exactly how we ask God to remove our defects does not seem to matter, so long as we express our complete willingness to be changed and believe that our Higher Power can and will help us. Many take Step Seven through praying as it is traditionally understood, for example, using the Seventh Step prayer found on page 76 of Alcoholics Anonymous. Others request God to remove their shortcomings through methods like writing, creatively visualizing or meditating. We keep in mind that Step Seven is not about begging, pleading or groveling. Neither is it coming to our Higher Power with a wish list of exactly what we think we need. Rather, Step Seven is a process of humbly acknowledging our ongoing need to rely on God.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 82.

Surrendering to a Higher Power

After working another Twelve Step program for several years, my life was filled with growth, peace, serenity and acceptance. Upon finding out about my spouse’s sexaholism, it all slipped away. I had great difficulty letting go of this new issue. This, I thought, is too big, too deadly and too frightening to let go of. I was again struggling to surrender my will to my Higher Power. When I came to S-Anon I knew my life was unmanageable, but I couldn’t see how I was contributing to it. I understood Step Three in my other program, yet I didn’t see that my snooping and checking up on my spouse was my way of holding on, not letting go. Even though I had experienced the fullness and freedom of knowing and accepting my powerlessness in my other program, in the area of my husband’s sexaholism I was still clinging to my will — my safety and protector (or so I thought). I was too frightened to trust God with this. In S-Anon, I learned how to detach and surrender where sexaholism was concerned. I finally came to believe — again — that it didn’t matter what the story, hardship, or circumstances were. Surrendering to my Higher Power was the only way to feel calm, clear, serene, and safe. Step Three told me that I was not alone and that regardless of circumstances, I would be O.K. I could trust that my Higher Power had a plan for me that was better than I could imagine.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 31.

Letting Go of Our Secrets

In Step Five we share our Fourth Step with another person and with God. We admit our findings to them and to ourselves and also discuss the causes for our attitudes and behavior. Many of us had not made a practice of being totally honest and were terrified at the prospect. We had secrets, some shameful, and we feared bringing them into the light. We thought to ourselves, “Isn’t it enough that I did the Fourth Step? Why do I have to share these things?” Surprisingly, we discovered that sharing them with our Higher Power and someone else was one of the most freeing things we had ever experienced. Most found that doing this Step was a turning point in recovery as we took the principles of humility and honesty, which underlie all the Steps, and put them into practice. Our good intentions to work the Steps became concrete actions. Forgiveness and acceptance from another person spurred the beginning of these qualities in ourselves. We felt better able to communicate with others and with our Higher Power. We began to learn how to really trust and how to let go of the shame and secrets that had held us back. We had a newfound ability to be progressively more honest in all areas of our life. We found healing, peace of mind and serenity.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 59-60.

Step Twelve – Carrying the Message

I say that if my life before the program was the B.S. era (the Before S-Anon era), my life now might be referred to as the S.O.S. era – the Serenity of S-Anon. I’m at a point in my program where it could be easy for me to coast. I completed my Step work with my sponsor. I took my own sponsee through her Step work, and now I’ve got “grand-sponsees.” When I moved to a place with no meetings, I made an effort to keep connected by working the Traditions with my sponsor and another S-Anon member. I’m past the urgency that I felt in the early days, but I’m afraid of what my complacency might cost me. Not long ago, I began to realize another aspect of Step Twelve – the part about “trying to carry the message.” So, after months of false starts and being turned down for a location, I finally opened the doors to my area’s first S-Anon meeting. It’s been a meeting of “one” since it started, but I have been reminded that there are really two of us there – my Higher Power and me. Despite that, I have felt frustrated with the lack of attendance, taking it as a personal failure. And lately I really don’t want to go. My kids are playing ball now, and I have to miss the beginnings of their games. But the possibility of missing a newcomer, of not being there to welcome and give comfort to the family member of a sexaholic, ensures that I go. Recently, I was thrilled to receive my first S-Anon call from the number I had posted on the WSO website. I’m not sure that being thrilled by someone else’s agony over sexaholism is appropriate, but I really was excited to get that call. Although this person has not been able to attend a meeting, we have spoken on a regular basis on the phone and I am slowly introducing her to the S-Anon program. Once again, the 12 Steps of S-Anon – particularly Step Twelve – have taken on a new meaning for me. I’m getting back, while I’m giving. And technically, still no one has come to the new meetings here. But I have had to get REALLY busy so I can get better because the sexaholic in my life has had a relapse.

 

Reprinted from the Summer 2009 issue of S-Anews©.

Let Go and Let God

The first time my husband was arrested for voyeurism I was frightened for myself and my family. I lied to the police and attempted to provide an alibi for him. I chose to lie because I did not have the courage to face my fears. I was afraid of what everyone would think if they knew I was married to a “peeping tom.” I was afraid of financial problems if he were to go to jail and lose his business. I was afraid he would be angry with me. The depth of shame I felt was immense. I constantly obsessed about him, his behavior, what he would do next and how hurt and angry I felt. I vigilantly sought more and more ways to protect my family from future catastrophe. I was angry, afraid and exhausted. Then I discovered S-Anon. I came to meetings and learned about boundaries and detachment: how to love someone without losing myself. I learned how to live in God’s grace and I opened myself to experiencing my Higher Power’s guidance. I got a sponsor, began working the Steps, used the telephone, talked with program members, and most importantly, listened to my Higher Power through the wisdom of others. The Serenity prayer… became my guide for living each day.

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Gratitude

This week, during a meeting on Step One and Tradition One, I became filled with gratitude for S-Anon and the courageous souls who share. A newcomer was in the meeting, sharing how she had tried to “go it alone,” but knew that the meetings were necessary for her. It felt as if Step One was coming to life right in front of me. I shared that in the beginning, I had fought with myself over the word “powerless”. If I were to be “powerless,” who was going to care for our young child? Clean the house? Pay the bills? Organize our lives? I could not bring myself to say that I was powerless! My life had just blown up and what I thought I knew, at the time, was just turned upside down. I shared my beginning because when a newcomer comes in, I retell some of my story, and it reminds me of where I started.

Another wave of gratitude filled me: I know what works – the S-Anon program works. The stories being told felt like part of ‘my story.’ I’m an S-Anon. I speak about and from the point of view of an S-Anon. I remember the hurt, shock and sadness that enveloped me, not only in my first meeting, but everywhere I went. Even though this pain persisted, my meeting became my lifeline, which held me from week to week. I heard the truth. My whole being experienced what the truth sounded like, and I began to heal. I continue to be healed by the meetings. At the recent LA convention, I heard other S-Anon’s share in meetings. A feeling of deep and abiding gratitude filled me for all those who walked before me, continue to walk with me, and who have the courage to show up each week.

 

Reprinted from the Spring 2011 issue of S-Anews©.

A Gradual Shift in Focus

We found that regardless of how the sexaholic acted out, our feelings were often quite similar. We experienced anger, disbelief, humiliation, betrayal, fear, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, guilt and numbness, to name just a few. In Step One we saw that our attempts to control or deny, so often driven by these powerful emotions, resulted in unmanageability in virtually every aspect of our lives.  Paradoxically, it was our surrender, our admission of complete lack of power over the sexaholic and sexaholism, that laid the foundation for the serenity this program of recovery offers.

It was difficult for most of us to make the transition from focusing on the behavior of the sexaholic to focusing on the ways in which our reactions to sexaholism contributed to the unmanageability of our lives. This gradual shift in focus, however, is an essential process that, while often painful at first, is the key to beginning our recovery.  Many of us had to ask our Higher Power to help us cultivate attitudes of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to admit that our efforts to cope with sexaholism had failed.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 11-12.

We, too, Are Spiritually and Emotionally Ill…

“We are seeking recovery from our own progressive illness. My thinking became confused and my perspective became distorted.” Some symptoms of my disease include faulty thinking, obsessive thoughts, controlling behaviors, and my personal favorite, denial of reality. When first faced with the harsh, spirit-crushing existence of my spouse’s sexaholism in my life—probably for many, many years, I started grabbing at God and anything else I thought would help me. But some of the behaviors I exhibited were very, injurious to me. Examples are: constant checking on the sexaholic (a.k.a. pain-shopping), believing lies (denial), and arguing and pleading with a non-recovering, active sexaholic (an exercise in futility.) I now compare some of my actions with running back into a burning building. Insanity. A spiritually healthy person probably wouldn’t do them, but I did.

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Gratitude for Healing

During one weekend visit from my mother, I sat at my kitchen table just as the sun began to embrace the day. I had risen extra early to be able to read my meditation books before any one else got up, so naturally I felt a bit disappointed as I heard Mom come into the room to join me, pouring herself a cup of coffee. She asked what I was reading. After silently praying for acceptance before I responded, I looked at her and noticed a new softness and even an open yearning in her face. I felt a gentle inspiration from my Higher Power to read several paragraphs of the day’s meditation aloud. After I finished reading, I shared my gratitude for the healing God had brought into our lives and relationship. We had spoken before of the incest in our family and now with tears in her eyes, my Mom spoke again of her sorrow for not seeing sooner what Dad was doing, for not being stronger, for not being smarter. I looked into her weary eyes and told her that I finally knew she had no power to control Dad’s disease. I told her I now realized that she had been just as much a victim of this family disease as my brother, sisters, and I had been, and that I also now understood how this disease had swallowed Dad, too. Remembering how each of us children had been sexually abused and how even the family dog had not been spared from the effects of this disease, I told my Mom that I also had struggled with feelings of guilt and shame because I had not been able to protect anyone. As we cried together, I reached across the table to hold her hand. Our eyes connected, and it was as if time stood still, as images came to mind of the awakenings God had provided to me through working the Steps. I had become aware of why I had gotten into successive relationships with sexaholics. I had been willing to face painful flashbacks that seemed to swallow me whole at times, but ultimately helped me to face reality. I had been able to let go of blaming my mother for what my father had done and to let go of blaming myself, too. I had grieved the deep sadness from my childhood, layer by layer, as I healed and rose above it. I was filled with gratitude for my mother’s courage to look at her part in the family disease, too, and her willingness to talk about it.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 147.