I was orphaned at 14 and went to live with my sister and her family. Her husband was the first sexaholic in my life. I was very needy, fragile, and impressionable. I soaked up any attention I could get and learned attitudes in this unhealthy environment that stayed with me as I grew up. What I believed in my teenage years was that women were responsible for meeting all of men’s needs. I also learned that men’s most important need was for sex. I thought my needs were not important, because I was told I was selfish if I voiced them. If I could not meet the needs of others, I thought I was a “failure” and “unlovable.” These unhealthy beliefs caused me to seek out equally unhealthy, often sexaholic, partners when I began dating.
At age 18, my unhealthy world view led me to place myself in a situation in which I was raped. I was unable to report the crime or ask for help in dealing with its effects. In my thinking, it was my fault that it happened and my needs were inconsequential. My life was overshadowed by fear and loneliness, and I felt worthless.
When I feel the urge to try to be my husband’s “sponsor,” I know I need to do two things. First, I can put one of the S-Anon slogans into practice, and “keep the focus on myself.” I can ask myself questions like: “Does this situation make me feel afraid of abandonment? If so, why? Am I afraid to trust the program? Do I secretly feel superior to my spouse, believing that he cannot function without my “help”? My own road to recovery has been based upon the answers to questions like these, not upon the actions or feelings of my husband.
The second thing I can do is realize that for my own good, I must stop playing God in my partner’s life. I can learn to trust that the life and recovery
of my spouse is also in the care of a “power greater than myself.” If I have come to believe that a Higher Power can restore me to sanity, I can trust that the same is true for my partner.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 47.
The Serenity Prayer helps me realize the difference between my responsibility and the other person’s responsibility. It involves taking control of myself and letting go of my control of others’ actions and opinions. That’s easier said than done, though, and I’ve had to work at finding ways to make this prayer a reality in my life.
Accepting Things I Cannot Change…Accepting the past as past has become important to my serenity. I have faced my past and called it what it is. Thankfully, it does not need to be repeated, nor does it need to remain so hurtful to me. I can give up my past dreams and idealistic goals. I can make new goals that include myself and my Higher Power’s will for me.
Courage to Change the Things I Can… I am learning to trust myself to rise to the occasion as a problem presents itself. I will have the resources when I need them. I don’t have to control the outcome but can learn to trust the process. This allows me to be less afraid of the future. I am learning to accept change and not automatically see it as the end of the world or negative, but rather an opportunity for growth.
The Wisdom to Know the Difference… I am learning to distinguish between what I can do and what’s not my responsibility. I can take responsibility for myself and stop my own negative behaviors. I can identify those things I find difficult to accept that cause me physical, emotional or spiritual depletion. I can choose to take care of myself by spending quality time with God. The more I get to know God, the more I trust His love and care for me.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 42.
Our numerous and diverse attempts to control or deny sexaholism brought us to the point of despair. We saw that our lives were unmanageable, and we had exhausted our reserves. Only through this utter surrender did we find strength and a firm foundation on which to rebuild our lives. We acknowledged we could not control the sexaholic or his/her sexual behavior and our attempts to do so had made our own lives unmanageable. We learned that our human will alone could not break the bonds of compulsive behavior either in ourselves or others.
In S-Anon we came to realize that just as we did not cause the sexaholic’s “acting out,” we could not cure it either. It was not our responsibility to keep the sexaholic sexually sober. We learned that it was our job to manage our own lives, whether or not the sexaholic chooses recovery. For most of us it was difficult to make the transition from focusing on the sexaholic and his or her behavior to focusing on ourselves and our own behavior. When we admit powerlessness and unmanageability where sexaholism is concerned, we become able to open our minds to the suggestion that positive changes in our lives depend upon changing our own attitudes and behavior, and we become willing to consider accepting help from outside of ourselves in beginning to make those changes.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 23.
I had been learning in S-Anon that I had been doing lots of things that were keeping me from serenity and peace of mind, and it seemed impossible that I would ever be able to stop doing all those things. Later on, I began to realize that I would have little chance of changing my behavior in any kind of lasting way if my attitude didn’t change as well. My controlling, angry, self-righteous, self-willed, fearful, obsessive thinking was at the root of my problems. Yet how could I stop being angry, for example? I was also learning that I was entitled to my feelings, and that I had to acknowledge my real feelings, and not deny them and pretend to be something I wasn’t. I realized that emotional sobriety might be many years away if I waited for my feelings and attitudes to change just because I wanted them to. I decided to ask my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings, and in the meantime to help me, in certain situations, to “act” sober, even if I wasn’t feeling particularly sober at the time. It works, one day and one behavior at a time!
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, page 57.
When I began my recovery, my children were all in elementary school. Our home had an atmosphere of tension and insecurity.I was bound and determined to be the perfect mother—loving, compassionate, understanding—but I really did not know how to manifest those qualities in a balanced way. I sometimes went to extremes in caring for my children. There was a constant feeling of impending disaster and if someone made a mistake (and there were plenty!), I reacted in extreme ways. I neglected the children emotionally, obsessing about my husband when he was acting out and worrying about the “next time” when he was not. I lived my life through my kids because I didn’t even realize at that time that I had my own separate life. If they passed a science test, I felt I was a success. If they got a low grade, I was a failure as a mom. Their grades were my grades and their emotions became my emotions.
Meetings are a vital part of the S-Anon program, providing us with the opportunity to identify and confirm common problems and to hear the experience, strength, and hope of others. Meetings give us a place where we can be ourselves and be unconditionally accepted. For those of us who have access to them, regular attendance at meetings is an important tool in working the program and staying “sober” in S-Anon. Some of us began S-Anon without any S-Anon meetings in our area. We found that attending “meetings” through the electronic media and open Al-Anon meetings were helpful in breaking our isolation and strengthening our spirits, although these meetings cannot take the place of face- to-face meetings with other S-Anons. In addition to local meetings, many of us have attended SA/S-Anon International Conventions, SA/S-Anon Regional Conventions, Marathon Meetings, and/or local gatherings. We heard experience, strength, and hope shared by a broad base of S-Anon members and found these events to be a helpful boost to our recovery.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 3.
The tools of the S-Anon program are actions we take, principles we use, and attitudes we develop. The actions we take include going to meetings, sharing with others, finding and being a sponsor, reading S-Anon literature; writing down our thoughts and feelings, and being of service. The principles we use are found in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of S-Anon. They include ideas aimed at allowing us to develop spiritually, as we are guided by the Higher Power of our understanding. The basic attitudes that we aim toward developing are honesty, open-mindedness and willingness. These tools, when used with the Twelve Steps of S- Anon, help our lives to gradually become more serene and fulfilling. Examples of how the tools are used come directly from members themselves.