I was afraid that if I asked God to remove my shortcomings, I would have nothing left. I was particularly fearful about shortcomings I had gotten a lot of mileage out of —- sarcasm, arguing with my spouse, being resentful over his acting-out with men, etc. What would I do with all the time I spent thinking about the other person, the time I spent obsessing about the “problem,” the time I spent telling people how unfair it was? Indeed, that time could be better spent in countless other ways, but letting go of shortcomings can be difficult. S-Anon helped me find the clarity to ask myself, “Is this defect really so useful — particularly when it also brings up the hurt, humiliation and guilt of my past?” Even though my answer is usually “No,” I sometimes still hesitate to ask God to remove my shortcomings.
I remember one incident very clearly. I was in a restaurant observing (actually judging) people around me. I was consumed with thoughts of how people should order, should look, should dress, should, should and more should. I was so preoccupied with“correcting”all these people that I lost sight of the reason I was at the restaurant — to enjoy myself and my dinner companions! Read more
In Step Seven, I struggled with humility. I used to think that either I had to be the best or I was the absolute worst. In my relationship with my sexaholic partner, I always thought of myself as having authority because I believed I was stronger, more capable, righteous, and the responsible one – I was at the top of the ladder so I didn’t need to be humble. Humility was for my sexaholic partner – somewhere down toward the bottom of the ladder.
As I began to work the Steps, I was able to look at my own shortcomings, such as perfectionism, self-righteousness, pride, and even arrogance. Over time I have learned to accept these shortcomings as part of my humanity, part of what makes me no better and no worse than anyone else.
It’s so hard for me to sit down for some quiet time with my Higher Power. I know an uncontrollable fear is at the root of this. I fear the challenges that I must face if I am honest with myself. So here I sit with all my fears. I feel a gentle tugging to stay in the quiet and let it do its work. Why do I resist? My Higher Power has given me this precious time alone. I need to get in touch with what’s going on with me (and only me) for today. I don’t want to, but I do need to. It’s time to leave any expectations at the door. Any expectations of suffocating fears or of being swept away in my self-defeating thinking must be put aside. I don’t even expect to get a clear, immediate message from my Higher Power. For now, it’s time to let go of each little thing that crowds me, even if it means letting go for just a minute at a time. In this quiet it is just me and my Higher Power. It is in this silence that I realize how little I really do know. Maybe that’s the best place to start. Humble beginnings. I pray I can be open to whatever comes my way in the quiet. I ask God to help me loosen my grip. I ask Him to help me open up to His will for me. I know I am not alone now.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 40.
Like so many in S-Anon who struggle with perfectionism, I initially experienced the words “entirely ready” as a huge obstacle. I thought I needed to achieve a state of perfect readiness in order to have my defects removed. I thought I could make Step Six “happen” if I somehow worked the perfect program. Working the S-Anon Steps with my sponsor has given me a new understanding of “entirely ready.” I do not need to work my program perfectly and I cannot force Step Six to happen by my own doing. For me “entirely ready” now means I need only let God point out my defects that need work and then allow God to help me explore a deeper level of self-honesty. For example, within a recent two-week period I became intensely aware of my character defect of dwelling in fantasy, a refusal to accept reality by clinging to the way I think things should be and ignoring the way things are. One day I complained incessantly about the weather — “Spring shouldn’t be this cold!” Another day I felt my blood pressure rise as I argued with my health insurer over the phone — “it shouldn’t take two weeks to get an authorization!” Read more
There was a time, not so long ago, when I had given up on having any expectations for my relationship. I thought I had to accept whatever treatment I received from my partner. I had heard in meetings that “expectations are resentments waiting to happen,” so I thought, “I better not have any of those expectations!” As I continued to grow in S-Anon, I came to believe that I was worthy of respect and consideration. I found the answer in exploring the difference between expectations (looking forward into the future) and needs (which are mine to express today). I need to be treated with affectionate love and regard. I am not always right, but I need my ideas to be met with respectful consideration. My interests and hobbies are important, and I need time to pursue them. I need a partner to help carry out the routine tasks of maintaining a household. I need a satisfying sex life, and, most important, a partner willing to work with me in all these areas to improve the relationship. If my most important needs are to be met, I must let go of the expectation that “somebody” will meet my needs “someday” and, instead, consider the alternatives available to me today. Just for today, I will acknowledge my needs, affirm their importance, and choose to take one positive action in the direction of seeing that those needs are met.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 50.
I struggle with my sobriety often, and I can certainly define what it isn’t. I know that I have lost it when I dig through my spouse’s briefcase to read his journal. I know that I have lost it when I drive to where my spouse works to see if his car is in the parking lot when he does not answer my phone call. I know that I have lost it when I go through his dresser drawers looking for evidence. I know I have lost it when I look under my son’s bed for pornography. I have done all these things and more. I know I have lost it because the behavior is premeditated and while I am doing these things my fear of being “caught” produces physical stress responses. I sweat, breathe rapidly, my heart rate increases, and I want to either fight with someone or run away. When I do lose it, I try to take corrective action. When I read the journal, I told my spouse, my therapist and my S-Anon group. Knowing that I will “own” my behavior afterward now helps me to keep from slipping again. I no longer have pre-disclosure blind faith in the relationship, but I believe that if I need to know something or find something out, God will reveal it and I do not have to go looking for it.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 58.
Step Two for me has been like the bigger-and-bigger hammer theory exemplified in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. Bugs hits Daffy Duck over the head with a hammer, only the hammer is the size of a gavel, insufficient to get Daffy’s attention. By the time all is said and done, Bugs is whamming Daffy with a mallet the size of a family car. In an exaggerated and humorous way, this cartoon reminds me of how my Higher Power lovingly tried to reach me my whole life. Even though I grew up in a very religious family, my ego thrived as my personal god well into my adulthood. Consequently I did not have a real relationship with God. Instead, my attention was focused on controlling my own life and manipulating other peoples’ lives. The little gavels of life didn’t work on me. It took a huge “hammer” to get through to me — the crisis of sexaholism in my home — before I could understand the need for a Higher Power in my life.
For a long time I constantly obsessed about the sexaholic’s behavior. Vivid pictures ran through my head like a grainy, X-rated film. Unfortunately, my obsession was like pouring salt on an open wound — over and over again. After several meetings and learning to apply the tools and principles of the S-Anon program to my life, I was able to go a few days without constantly focusing on the sexaholic. I started replacing my obsessive thoughts with working Steps One and Two, and with making outreach calls. After a few more months of meetings, I found I could go a week at a time without brooding over the past. I had a sponsor who I called regularly and spoke with whenever the old images and thoughts popped into my head. Reaching out helped me redirect my thinking and my behavior. My sponsor suggested that when the images and thoughts came to my mind, I turn them over to my Higher Power and visualize placing the sexaholic in God’s hands. I am powerless over whether or not the obsessive thoughts come, but when the images come into my head, I now have the tools necessary to change the channel in my brain. I can pray to my Higher Power, ask my sponsor for help and guidance, and write about my feelings and share them with another program member. I don’t have to feel obsession and pain; I can have serenity.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 351.
In my life before recovery, many people I considered to be “powers greater than myself” abused me with that power emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually. As a result, when I came to S-Anon I was not eager to willingly “turn myself over” to any power. Building on the foundation of Step Two, I have begun to experience a true spiritual connection with a Power greater than myself and have become willing to turn my will and my life over to that Power. I have begun to trust in the experiences of others and have surrendered my need to control every situation to protect myself from nameless, faceless, countless dangers. I have seen that this Power can be trusted, will always be with me and will never abandon or betray me. This does not mean that my life will be free of difficulties – it does mean that I will have what I need to face them and will not have to face them alone.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 39-40.
Living with the effects of sexaholism wore me out, and I finally reached the limits of my own power. I realized that I could not solve my problems without help. I had no other options, so I turned to God once more. This time it was with a different attitude. I said a prayer that went something like this: “God, I can’t take it anymore. I need your help. I realize that in the past you have answered my prayers with some painful truths. If there is more pain to go through in order to stop my suffering, then I’m willing to accept it, whatever the cost.” Following the prayer, I asked my husband to level with me about the other women. Instead of the standard denial and counterattack, he admitted everything. As I had feared, it was painful to face the truth, but in doing so I began laying the foundation for the serenity I would come to find. It has been over ten years since the day I first came to believe that God could, and would, restore me to sanity. I had feared that facing the truth would mean the end of my relationship with my partner, but it turned out to be just the beginning. With God’s help and some time, the wounds healed. I no longer turn to God only in a crisis. I apply God’s will to the little things in life as well, like struggles at work. I’ve learned that frustration is a sign that I have lost sight of Step Two — that I am relying on my own plan and power instead of God’s plan and God’s power. The program slogans “Turn it Over” and “Let Go and Let God” remind me that there is a Higher Power. Each time I practice these slogans, I come to believe on a deeper level.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 20-21.