It was fall of 2006. I had been attending S-Anon meetings for a few months, but had not yet begun to write out the steps. I was starting to absorb some ideas about what healthy and unhealthy behaviors in me looked like. For example, I heard at meetings that checking on the sexaholic was injurious to me and created turmoil in my daily living. (My home group refers to it as “pain-shopping.”) I also knew that focusing on my own behaviors, feelings, and motivations was helpful. Focusing/obsessing about the sexaholic in my life was not helpful and could be harmful (to me.) Trying to fix myself and change my own faulty thinking was helpful and trying to fix/change and control my husband and others was crazy-making.
Although I was on the right path, and hearing and reading about all kinds of good recovery ideas, there were some practical lessons to be learned along the way. My behaviors hadn’t begun to change yet. I thought that checking on the behavior of others, and knowing what they were doing would keep me safe. “Progress, not perfection.” (I do so love the slogans of this program–they are very affirming.) I believed in my heart that the program was going to help me, yet I hadn’t discovered that S-Anon and the ensuing Step-work was going to change my life in ways that I never dreamed possible.
One of the hardest lessons that I learned in the beginning of my recovery was about focusing on myself and trying to get clear about my own life instead of trying to control and fix the sexaholic and others. There are many layers of this principle to absorb. Let me explain: We were preparing to leave on a family trip. I was happy to be going, but fearful about many possibilities; Would my husband act out? Would he think about acting out? Would our son see, hear anything? Will I be able to relax, or would I be on pins and needles the whole time? There were two flights each way to get to our destination. I packed a lot of S-Anon books and said a lot of prayers for us all.
When we got to the airport security station, I got the surprise of my life. I had let my own driver’s license expire!!! In the middle of all my care-taking and focusing on everyone else, I had neglected my own affairs. This was a huge light-bulb moment for me. I had been doing this for a long time in many different ways. For four flights, I had to be taken aside to be separately searched and my carry-on bags had to be emptied and gone through. My family sailed through security while I was detained. That was a very powerful lesson. I couldn’t wait to get back to my S-Anon group to tell everyone because I now find it cathartic to tell on myself. If it helps someone else, all the better.
Except for that initial panic, the trip went well. My lessons continue. My faith that this program is a road map to my peace grows daily. My Higher Power got through to me the idea that I had to work on myself, my life, and my behaviors. “I realized that I could not find serenity for myself if I continue to focus on other people’s recovery” (or lack thereof). I had always heard that God doesn’t speak in a whisper and “my hope has turned to faith that God is really working in my life.” I fully intend to continue to “explore the wonders of serenity, dignity, and emotional growth.”
Reprinted from the Fall 2011 issue of S-Anews©.