The Courage to Change the Things I Can

I began dating at age 16 when I was a junior in high school. I married when I was 27 years old. During the intervening eleven years, I was involved in seven significant relationships, each with a very different man. Underlying my dating was the belief that if only I could find the relationship and somehow “get it right this time,” I would be happy. Not surprisingly, these relationships were all with sexaholics, and while their acting out ran the gamut from affairs with other women to compulsive masturbation, each relationship made my life unmanageable. Amazingly, I failed to recognize a pattern when these sexual problems cropped up each time.

Each relationship cost me dearly. Some of the problems I encountered included missing time from college and graduate school and not completing my assignments and job tasks. This was due to my preoccupation with the relationship and being distracted by problems the relationship created. I allowed these men to use my cars, my apartments, my food, phone, drugs, body, and time. I paid for gas and car repairs for which I was not responsible. I became involved in their projects and lives, while losing myself and my life. I bought and wore clothes solely to please them. I wasted hours of time sitting in my parked car waiting for him to come out of “her” apartment. I was fired from two jobs due to my preoccupation. I was beaten up by one man — my head bashed into a wall and my throat choked. With another man I became pregnant and agreed to have an abortion. In each relationship, I put myself at risk of catching a life-threatening sexually transmitted disease, but I ignored this fact and put my head in the sand. I contemplated suicide three times and attempted it once. My crying at work prompted co-workers to introduce me to my first Twelve Step fellowship and my own recovery process. A year later my husband identified his sexaholism and I came to S-Anon.

My life prior to S-Anon was truly unmanageable. It took many months of recovery to discover my own likes and dislikes and to quit trying to “motivate” my husband and others into action. Today my bills are paid on time. I take care of myself and give myself appropriate rest and nutrition. While life is not perfect, I am grateful for the gifts of the program. Healing and serenity have progressively grown in my heart and in my home. I can laugh, and I enjoy waking up each morning. My husband and I are happy, so are my children. I know I am powerless over other people and the choices they make, particularly my husband and his choices — even in his sobriety. Today I know that the only person I can change is me with the help of my Higher Power. These are just some of the many gifts of this program that I have received and for which I can never be sufficiently grateful.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page2 6-7.