I struggle with my sobriety often, and I can certainly define what it isn’t. I know that I have lost it when I dig through my spouse’s briefcase to read his journal. I know that I have lost it when I drive to where my spouse works to see if his car is in the parking lot when he does not answer my phone call. I know that I have lost it when I go through his dresser drawers looking for evidence. I know I have lost it when I look under my son’s bed for pornography. I have done all these things and more. I know I have lost it because the behavior is premeditated and while I am doing these things my fear of being “caught” produces physical stress responses. I sweat, breathe rapidly, my heart rate increases, and I want to either fight with someone or run away. When I do lose it, I try to take corrective action. When I read the journal, I told my spouse, my therapist and my S-Anon group. Knowing that I will “own” my behavior afterward now helps me to keep from slipping again. I no longer have pre-disclosure blind faith in the relationship, but I believe that if I need to know something or find something out, God will reveal it and I do not have to go looking for it.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 58.
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.
Early in my S-Anon recovery I was comfortable and enjoyed doing service work for my home group. But I learned the most about myself and took my recovery to new levels when I did service work beyond my group. I came to recognize and develop talents I didn’t even know I had. This brought up some of my faulty thinking. I had grown up hearing old slogans/tapes: You can do that, if you just try harder; I know you will not let the family down; Do you think you are better than the others? Is your time more valuable? No excuses; You are being lazy; Can’t you do what is expected of you? and so on. In my S-Anon recovery I have heard and learned new slogans that promote gentleness and self-care. Through S-Anon service work, I have learned that it is absolutely my job, and my job alone, to look after and care for myself by setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. I’ve learned to respectfully say what I mean and mean what I say. I have the courage to say no when necessary. I am very grateful for the opportunity to do this service work; I learn more about myself in the process, and give myself the gift of a more balanced life. Today I am grateful for a whole set of new slogans (such as: Easy Does It; Keep It Simple; One Day at a Time; H.A.L.T.; Live and Let Live) and the S-Anon program. My Higher Power continues to provide me with opportunities to learn and grow in my service work beyond my local group.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 106-107.
Every time I share about my experiences with sexaholism and what happened to me throughout my childhood, my adult life, and my marriage the pain decreases. I can see more clearly now that I am speaking the truth about my situation. I had been in denial about those experiences prior to my S-Anon recovery. I knew I had been living a lie, but I didn’t want to admit it. When I allowed the light and the truth to come in, I found a brand new life waiting for me. Carrying the message has helped me to heal. When I speak the truth, the truth sets me free. That is a spiritual principle that always works for me. Carrying the message of my truth to others is like turning on the light in a dark room. The darkness just goes. I love to carry this message of hope and recovery.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 111.
As we start to practice the principles of the S-Anon Program, positive changes occur in our perspectives and actions. At times our progress seems slow, but we learn to appreciate progress and not demand perfection. Sometimes it takes a while to understand the various principles. We find that we can revisit certain Steps or apply them to additional aspects of our lives. We learn to trust the guidance and timing of our Higher Power to help us become aware of attitudes and behaviors that stand in the way of our recovery. Our sponsor or another S-Anon member can often help us, too. We begin to experience our Higher Power’s gift of serenity, and our confusion, fear, and depression lessen. In this way we carry the message of our recovery to S-Anon members, and to others, as well.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 98.
For me, a slip is going back to the way I used to act and react before I came into the S-Anon program. I used to believe that I had to control others and that I was responsible for their behavior. For example, I was sexual with my husband before he traveled, thinking that it would make him less likely to look at other women while he was away from home. In S-Anon I learned that for my own recovery and for the good of the people I love, I had to stop trying to control everything. I found that people need to learn and do things for themselves. Even if I believe I have all the answers, I need to let people figure it out in their own way. I still have to bite my tongue in order not to explain to my husband my opinions about why he’s feeling the way he is, how it relates to his family of origin, and what he can do about it. Often I still want to control, manage, and be responsible, and I do have slips. After all, it took a long time to develop the habits I brought into the program, and I know today that nobody is perfect. In recovery I’m learning that although I may not have a choice about feeling these feelings, I have a choice about whether to act on them or not. With time it has gotten easier to recognize these feelings for what they are, without having to act on them.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 54-55.
Another way we work the Twelfth Step is to do service work in our “home” group (the group we attend regularly — the one in which we feel most comfortable). We can help set up the chairs and literature before the meeting, serve as the meeting leader, contact people who inquire about our program, or volunteer to be a trusted servant such as the group secretary or treasurer. Any activity that makes it possible for the meeting to take place and to be a source of hope and recovery for a newcomer is Twelfth Step work… I volunteered to be the key holder for my Saturday night meeting. The church had asked us not to duplicate the key, so I was the only one with a key. I admit that I can be forgetful. Well, one week I forgot the key. We were a small meeting , so we actually met in my car that night. Thankfully, I found the key before the next meeting. It was a comfort to know I didn’t have to be perfect in order to do service. I felt appreciated and appreciate others who take turns holding the key.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 101-102.