“We are seeking recovery from our own progressive illness. My thinking became confused and my perspective became distorted.” Some symptoms of my disease include faulty thinking, obsessive thoughts, controlling behaviors, and my personal favorite, denial of reality. When first faced with the harsh, spirit-crushing existence of my spouse’s sexaholism in my life—probably for many, many years, I started grabbing at God and anything else I thought would help me. But some of the behaviors I exhibited were very, injurious to me. Examples are: constant checking on the sexaholic (a.k.a. pain-shopping), believing lies (denial), and arguing and pleading with a non-recovering, active sexaholic (an exercise in futility.) I now compare some of my actions with running back into a burning building. Insanity. A spiritually healthy person probably wouldn’t do them, but I did.
Thankfully, I was eventually led to S-Anon and began to try to follow a Twelve Step program. I went to work on accepting the reality of my life and situation. I discovered that my faulty thinking included believing that I couldn’t have what I really wanted in life. I had stuffed my feelings for so long that I wasn’t really clear about what I wanted anyway. When I began to write in our Blue Workbook, (Exploring the Wonders of Recovery) with a Step study group, I began a period of self-discovery that brought about the first true peace I’d ever felt. I realized that I had been living with sexaholism for years before I ever knew about it and that there had been effects upon me all along. As I began to look at my life in retrospect I began to realize that I had “numbed out” and forgotten who I was and just “went along,” plodding ahead, and putting out fires. I had essentially lost my self to my disease and faulty thinking. I discovered by working the Steps that there was some good news — I was powerless over these issues not because I’m flawed in design, but because I’d learned well from my family of origin.
I finished college; got a job I loved, got married, and squashed down all my misgivings about the relationship. We endured the heartbreak of infertility and adopted a baby even though I knew that my marriage wasn’t healthy. I should also mention that I had a lot of fun—denial can be like a warm blanket. I medicated all my bad feelings with a full calendar and a lot of people around me. I made Higher Powers out of my marriage, my friends, and my financial security. However, “I realized that I was working very hard to make the abnormal appear normal.” (Thank you, lunch speaker at Nashville 1/2009.) I also felt bad inside and really didn’t know why—“living with or having lived with a sexaholic becomes too much for most of us…” I had traded away the core of who I was to keep the peace, believed that my heart wasn’t important, and felt that my God-given intuition wasn’t valid. S-Anon has given me many gifts and the ability to cope with and accept my reality has brought about serenity that I never thought possible. I now understand why I was attracted to emotionally unavailable people. I also get why I couldn’t recognize unacceptable behavior and then accepted it. When our Step study group finished the Steps I knew that I was “addicted” to the spiritual life that I had been given. God might have allowed sexaholism into my life—but he also gave me a lighted path out.
Reprinted from the Spring 2011 issue of S-Anews©.