Making “Living” Amends

During our early adult years, my brother and I had a very strained relationship. I felt he had physically and emotionally abused me as a child. For my safety, I chose to become very remote from him. As time went by, what had once seemed like a necessary attitude of detachment became a punishing coldness. Working the Steps made it clear that my serenity depended on keeping my behavior “clean,” regardless of the behavior of others. I knew it was time to make amends for my own punishing, abusive behavior, yet I felt stuck. I was afraid that if I made direct amends to my brother, he would attack me verbally. I needed to be able to make the amends safely.

I brought the problem of making this amends to my sponsor. She suggested I make a “living” amends. As a start, she suggested that each time I encountered my brother on the telephone or in person, I actively initiate a friendly “Hello, how are you?” — each and every time. After several months, I noticed that I was less tense around him. We actually seemed to be somewhat friendly with each other. This was certainly progress.

Her next suggestion was that whenever I was in his presence I should try to stay in the same room he was in, at least for a brief time. I had spent years going from room to room to avoid his presence at family gatherings. Staying put was very awkward for me initially, but as time passed, it became more comfortable. Slowly I began to have more compassion for him and began to separate my brother, the human being, from the sexaholism that affected all of us.

Over time we began to interact with one another. Today, I can ask his advice on topics about which he is knowledgeable. Our relationship has grown tremendously, and I am grateful because now we must all contribute and communicate to cope with our mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease. Does this improved relationship mean I have forgotten my brother’s abusive behavior? No, but I have worked hard at my own healing in therapy and through Step work. I thank God for my recovery from the abuse and for the benefits I have received from following my sponsor’s suggestions on this amends.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 103-104.

Forgiveness and Serenity

Growing up, I thought forgiveness was something I had to feel all the time, so forgiveness seemed impossible for me. In working the S-Anon Steps, I not only found forgiveness, but also the serenity it can bring.

Seven years after my first husband, a sexaholic, died, I still visited his grave each year. By his graveside, I would remember and relive the hurtful betrayal I felt during our nineteen years of marriage. This year when I visited his grave, I felt a peace that hadn’t been there before. In the months leading up to my visit, I had been working Step Nine, which helped me understand that I had never forgiven my husband for his infidelities in our marriage, and that I had been holding onto the past. I also realized I had not forgiven myself for my role in our misery together.

Today I choose to let go of past hurts and I offer my experiences to others to help carry the message. I pray for people who have harmed me, which helps me to let go and begin to heal. I ask God to forgive me for my part, and for the willingness to forgive. If I need to make direct amends, I do so promptly. When the matter returns to my mind, I pray, “God bless that person” instead of replaying the incident in my mind. As a result of these ongoing Step Nine and Ten actions, I am enjoying the peace and serenity that come with forgiveness.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 316.

 

Meetings: I Keep Coming Back

As a tool, I see S-Anon meetings as truly one of the most powerful. When I came to my first meeting, I did not understand why I was there. This disease was my husband’s problem, not mine. Yet, I was empty – dead inside. Even so, I sensed that first meeting room I walked into was a place of hope. As a newcomer, I quickly began to realize that this hope I sensed was for me, not my husband. Yes, I could rebuild my life. The meeting that I came to on that first night would be the meeting I’d attend, without fail, for two years to come. If rebuilding was what I was after, the image of meetings being the hardware store of spiritual and emotional supplies serves me as far as analogies go. The collective support, acceptance, love and honesty I feel at my S-Anon meetings has taught me how to own and share my own feelings without fear or self-judgment. For me, to have learned how to share my feelings has been the saving grace of my life. Attending S-Anon meetings and opening my mouth was the beginning of the salvation. It still amazes me to know that S-Anon meetings cost nothing (other than the seventh tradition), hold me to no obligations, and yet have saved my life.

“Keep Coming Back” to meetings – that’s just a given in my life now.

Identifying with Our Fellow S-Anons

I came to S-Anon hoping to find answers. I wanted to know the statistics on his chances of acting out again and how soon it was going to be. Though I didn’t find statistics, I did find a supportive group who gave me unconditional love, acceptance and understanding. At a gut level they understood my situation like no one else could — not the therapist I was seeing, not my sisters, not my friends. I was in so much pain, and I was so angry. The group helped me to see that I cannot control a sexaholic’s behavior and that I am powerless over trying to control him. Today, with the help of this fellowship and the Twelve Steps, I am happy. I am grateful to have this program and to be in this relationship with a recovering sexaholic. I also am excited and hopeful for the futures of my children, perhaps the ultimate recipients of what I’m doing today.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 9.

A Message of Hope

When I first discovered the sexaholic behavior of my spouse, I was angry enough to implode. I became so over- whelmed that I used a survival technique learned long ago: distracting myself with busyness to numb my feelings. Months later, my fear and anxiety re-surfaced, and I became very ill. I could no longer deny the reality of my situation. My illness was a wake-up call, helping me realize how severely I had been affected by the sexaholic behavior of not only my spouse, but also of three other intimate partners previous to my marriage.

Fortunately, I made a phone call to the local S-Anon hotline. After I poured out my story to the person who an- swered my call, she read “The S-Anon Problem” from the Newcomer’s Booklet – Helpful Information for the New- comer.” I could relate to every word! Hearing that reading profoundly changed my life.

I attended my first meeting and, in the midst of my pain, I knew S-Anon was where I belonged and that it would be the source of my healing. Now I keep our booklet for newcomers close to the phone so when anyone calls out for help, I can choose a section to read to them. I, too, can carry the S-Anon message of hope.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 12.