Our numerous and diverse attempts to control or deny sexaholism brought us to the point of despair. We saw that our lives were unmanageable, and we had exhausted our reserves. Only through this utter surrender did we find strength and a firm foundation on which to rebuild our lives. We acknowledged we could not control the sexaholic or his/her sexual behavior and our attempts to do so had made our own lives unmanageable. We learned that our human will alone could not break the bonds of compulsive behavior either in ourselves or others.
In S-Anon we came to realize that just as we did not cause the sexaholic’s “acting out,” we could not cure it either. It was not our responsibility to keep the sexaholic sexually sober. We learned that it was our job to manage our own lives, whether or not the sexaholic chooses recovery. For most of us it was difficult to make the transition from focusing on the sexaholic and his or her behavior to focusing on ourselves and our own behavior. When we admit powerlessness and unmanageability where sexaholism is concerned, we become able to open our minds to the suggestion that positive changes in our lives depend upon changing our own attitudes and behavior, and we become willing to consider accepting help from outside of ourselves in beginning to make those changes.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 23.
We found that regardless of how the sexaholic acted out, our feelings were often quite similar. We experienced anger, disbelief, humiliation, betrayal, fear, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, guilt and numbness, to name just a few. In Step One we saw that our attempts to control or deny, so often driven by these powerful emotions, resulted in unmanageability in virtually every aspect of our lives. Paradoxically, it was our surrender, our admission of complete lack of power over the sexaholic and sexaholism, that laid the foundation for the serenity this program of recovery offers.
It was difficult for most of us to make the transition from focusing on the behavior of the sexaholic to focusing on the ways in which our reactions to sexaholism contributed to the unmanageability of our lives. This gradual shift in focus, however, is an essential process that, while often painful at first, is the key to beginning our recovery. Many of us had to ask our Higher Power to help us cultivate attitudes of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to admit that our efforts to cope with sexaholism had failed.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 11-12.
I always thought that if I read a book or took a class on a subject, I could learn enough to tackle any task or solve any problem. I lived under this illusion for 43 years until I discovered my wife’s sexaholism. I read every book, went to seminars, and talked to experts, yet I only felt more and more crazy.
When I tried the S-Anon program, I finally started to feel calm and sane. I learned that admitting I was powerless over sexaholism was not an admission of failure, but the beginning of recovery. S-Anon taught me that I do not need to analyze what she does. It is hard enough for me to learn why I do the things I do. When I spend so much time trying to understand her illness, I see that I really am avoiding looking at my own S-Anon problem.
Today I can let go of the need to understand the inner workings of the sexaholic, and I can ask my Higher Power to reveal the truth about myself. I try to remember that as I come to know myself, I am better able to let go of others.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 217.
“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.