Learning to Love Myself

Recently some S-Anon friends and I were reminiscing about our early days in the program. One friend good-naturedly shared how confusing it had been to listen to my sharing in meetings those first few years. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked her to tell me more. She said it seemed that I spoke in riddles and talked around things, as if I were hiding something. After thinking for a moment, I said, “Yes, that may be true.” That evening while doing my Tenth Step inventory, I reflected on what my friend had said, asking God to help me to be honest about my past and to grant me the openness to receive any new spiritual insight. I thought back to what I was like years ago and what brought me to S-Anon.

I had been married to a sexaholic who was a well-known minister in the community. He feared his sexaholism would be discovered and he would lose his job. I took on that fear and believed it was my responsibility to protect him. Even after coming to S-Anon, I spoke in extremely veiled terms to avoid the possibility of anyone discovering who my husband was. My spouse ultimately rejected recovery, and we eventually divorced due to the effects of his sexaholism on our relationship, finances, children and his job security. I continued my S-Anon recovery, yet still found myself trying to “cover for him” in public. Some of my actions probably were based in the reality that discovery of his addiction would have threatened his job.

Upon further reflection as I inventoried, it occurred to me that I had “protected” him in order to protect myself — from shame. I had feared if my husband’s sexaholism were made public, I would be labeled as a failure, failing as a wife to keep him happy and sexually satisfied. As I thought about it, I realized that this “failure” theme was a recurring one for me. Since childhood I had believed that I was not as good as others, that I was somehow undeserving and inadequate. My parents and others had made fun of my body’s shape and size. They told me that they wished I was more like their friends’ children, dressed me in clothes that did not fit and shamed me for being shy. As I finished that evening’s Tenth Step, I saw at greater depth how my fear of failure and inadequacy and the resulting character defects of control and over-responsibility had negatively in influenced my life from childhood through adulthood. I thanked God for the gift of the S-Anon program and for giving me release one day at a time from fear, control and over-responsibility. My life is so very different now. As I work the program, personal shortcomings continue to be lifted at even deeper levels, and I am able to love and accept myself as I am and as I was created to be.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 115-116.