I knew about the sexaholism in our family. My parents were in the process of a divorce, when one night I received a phone call from my father, who said that he needed to tell me that he had sexually abused me as a child and that the abuse would be reported to our local children’s welfare agency. I know that if I had not been in S-Ateen and not had a program and a sponsor, I probably would not be here today. My sponsor let me cry it all out and helped me accept my feelings. I began to understand that even though this was very painful and sad, that everything was going to be all right; that God had a reason even for this.
The children’s welfare agency did press charges against my father on my behalf, and my father served a year in jail. I love my father so much, and I felt guilty because I agreed to continue with the trial and felt partially responsible for his having to go to jail. I believed I had to do what I could to protect others whom he could possibly harm because of his profession. My S-Ateen sponsor and the people in my group told me it was not my fault; what had happened to me was because of my father’s illness and the choices he made, and I was doing what I needed to do for my recovery. S-Ateen has also been a great help in dealing with some difficult feelings about my mother. Part of my recovery has been to accept that my mother tried to do what was best in the situation, but also to accept that I still felt a lot of anger and resentment that she could not see what was going on. Sharing with other S-Ateens helped me work through that anger and resentment, and it helped me to realize that both of my parents were sick people, not bad people. They didn’t mean to harm me. I know that eventually I will need to address my part in keeping the family secrets and the reasons why I did not come forward to talk to my mom about what was happening to me.
While working on Step Two, I realized that I also blamed God for allowing this situation to occur in the first place. I believed I had done nothing to deserve this abuse, and I asked myself why God would let this happen to me. I have come to believe that the God of my understanding does not have control over our decisions. He tries to show us the right way to go, but he does not make the decisions for us. And I realized that my Higher Power really is loving and caring. After all, he provided all the wonderful people in S-Anon and S-Ateen who have shared their experience, strength, hope, support, and courage with me.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 76-77.
My parents were not religious at all, and I was brought up with more of an ethnic and cultural identity than a religious one. When I met the man I would marry, I found that his family was much more religiously-oriented than mine; his brother was even a religious leader. My husband wanted us to follow religious teachings and so I agreed to do that. We had four children and taught them the principles of our faith. We even sent them to religious school for education. We followed the tenets and were a “religious family.”
Then sexaholism broke through all the boundaries of our religion and came full force into our home. My view of religion became very negative and I was angry. I had participated in religious activities in order to be a “good wife” and not create problems, yet this disease had brought insanity into our home.
I was still feeling angry when I started going to S-Anon meetings. In my group there was an older woman who seemed very different than me and who talked about God and how important God was to her. She would say in the meetings time and time again to“hit your knees.” Whenever she said that, I wanted to leave because I was not about to have anything to do with God. I kept coming to meetings, but I wouldn’t sit next to her.
I went on for many months rejecting the “God part” of the program. I would walk in the mornings and recite the Twelve Steps. I would go to meetings almost nightly, but I would not accept that there was a power greater than myself. One day as I was walking and obsessing about a hypothetical conversation that might or might not ever happen, it occurred to me that even though I didn’t believe in God, I could call a higher being “HP.” I felt fairly comfortable with that. Even though I was doubtful that HP could do anything for me, I began visualizing a little gnome sitting on my left shoulder. This little shoulder gnome was with me all the time and believed in me. When my thoughts became too terrifying for me, I talked to the little gnome and I felt better. It took another six or seven months before I took that woman’s suggestion and “hit my knees.” I remember that morning and the relief I felt by taking the action of going to my knees. I knew then that I, too, could have a God of my understanding who would be with me and help me. In my Step Two process I became acutely aware that religion and spirituality were not the same, and I could believe in God as I have come to understand God. That is a comforting thought for me.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 18-19.
Early in recovery, I was challenged by Step Two to understand sanity and insanity at a time when my life seemed to be turned upside down. I felt that I lived in a world where the attitude seemed to be “do as you please” with no accountability. Needless to say, there didn’t seem to be much sanity in the world around me.
It was relatively easy for me to lie to myself and say that I had not behaved in an insane way. Yet when I reflected on my family of origin and my religion’s doctrines and teachings as a part of my Step Two work, I came to understand that insane thinking was “normal” in my family. I had learned to think that way from early childhood. It was this insane thinking that enabled me to deny and tolerate the sexaholism that was active in my home, and eventually to participate in it as well.
Through S-Anon, I am breaking the chain of the “family disease.” I am slowly being restored to sanity. My peace, serenity, and connection to a Higher Power are greater than the insanity with which I grew up. I am grateful that I have made a commitment to the S-Anon Steps, so that I have the opportunity to know that there is a better way for me to live.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 98.