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.

Going to Meetings

Meetings are a vital part of the S-Anon program, providing us with the opportunity to identify and confirm common problems and to hear the experience, strength, and hope of others. Meetings give us a place where we can be ourselves and be unconditionally accepted. For those of us who have access to them, regular attendance at meetings is an important tool in working the program and staying “sober” in S-Anon. Some of us began S-Anon without any S-Anon meetings in our area. We found that attending “meetings” through the electronic media and open Al-Anon meetings were helpful in breaking our isolation and strengthening our spirits, although these meetings cannot take the place of face- to-face meetings with other S-Anons. In addition to local meetings, many of us have attended SA/S-Anon International Conventions, SA/S-Anon Regional Conventions, Marathon Meetings, and/or local gatherings. We heard experience, strength, and hope shared by a broad base of S-Anon members and found these events to be a helpful boost to our recovery.

 

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 3.

Someone Who Understands

Once I learned that S-Anon existed, I knew I would attend, but my motives were mixed. Mostly I felt that I “should” go, to be the loving wife that could never be accused of not supporting her husband, an addict. But part of me knew that I needed to talk in an environment that allowed open discussion of a painful, even embarrassing, disease. The complexities of being married to a sexaholic – a respected leader in the community – were such that I was desperate to talk to someone who would understand. Going to the first meeting was hard. Only one other member was there, and at first I was disappointed and felt some pressure that my first meeting was to be a one-on-one conversation. But I was able to tell her my story, and to hear hers, before a few other people arrived quite late. Before the meeting, I expected to meet horrible people who were married to perverts. During that meeting, and those that have followed in the time I’ve been working this program, I’ve met some wonderfully honest and compassionate people. I went at first because of my husband’s addiction. Now I go because of my own difficulties and struggles.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

It Really Does Work

I was real familiar with going into a group and blending into the woodwork. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing, hurting somebody’s feelings, or making a fool of myself. I always worried about how other people saw me, so I thought the best approach for me at my first meeting was not to speak, and I wondered if I would ever be able to share with the group. After I had been coming to meetings for a while someone told me, “If you want to get better, you have to raise your hand. You have to share what’s going on with you.” And when I felt ready, I did. And it really does work.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

A Weight Was Lifted

It was like coming home! Several years before I found S-Anon I was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. At that time I said to my therapist, “I wish there was a group like Al-Anon for me because I feel completely alone.” But the S-Anon people at that first meeting knew my pain and my despair. The topic of the discussion was “enabling,” and it nearly broke my heart to find out that all my frantic efforts to “help” had actually “helped” my husband stay in addiction. At the same time, a two-ton weight was lifted from my shoulders when I was told this behavior was not my responsibility. Finally I was given the chance to work on myself and it hurts so good!

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

Out of Despair and Denial

I remember sitting there and having no idea what was happening. I didn’t understand what they meant by “powerlessness” and I didn’t understand how my life was unmanageable. I could hear it in other people’s stories, but I thought I was there to support my husband – he was the one with the problem, not me! The topic of the meeting that night was “Anger” and I remember being appalled and thinking to myself, “This is the angriest bunch of people I ever met in my life!” I didn’t know then that “If you spot it, you got it.” I didn’t know at that point how angry I was inside. I slowly came to realize that I was powerless over a lot of things…finally after about five meetings I was able to start listening. I had to come to the point of despair in order to come out of denial, but it was wonderful that my S-Anon group was there to support me.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

A Humbling Experience

I hoped I would find some answers on how I could fix my husband. Even though I was suicidal, I really didn’t think that I had that much of a problem. Talk about minimizing! It was a humbling experience for me to realize that my addiction to my husband was just as devastating as my husband’s addiction to lust. I realized that my recovery was really and truly a matter of life and death for me, and that there was no in-between. I never did figure out how to fix my husband, but the longer I keep coming back to S-Anon just for myself, the more joy and serenity I feel.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

People Who Understood my Pain

I went to my first meeting immediately after learning that my husband’s string of affairs was an addiction to lust. I was in so much pain from the discovery of the betrayal I was desperate enough to try anything. I also wanted answers about living with a sexaholic, like “What is the percentage of sexaholics who relapse?” and “How would I know if relapse had occurred?” I never did get the percentages I wanted, but I got to know a group of people who understood my pain as no one else could, having been there themselves. I was one of those who could disregard what therapists told me, saying to myself, “They haven’t been betrayed as I have!” But I couldn’t dismiss what I heard in these meetings. In the beginning I cried, meeting after meeting, but I always felt reassured when they told me they had been where I was and understood. It seemed that by sharing the pain with them, it was lessened. I came to learn that I was dependent upon another person for my happiness and for life itself, and that was part of my problem. S-Anon has helped me to gradually gain an independence, self-confidence, and serenity I never thought possible.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

Hearing My Higher Power

I was angry with God, and felt that God had been punishing me. I would never have believed that a group of people could be part of my Higher Power. I would have thought that would be sacrilegious or something, but I see now how that works, and how God speaks through every one of us. I just could not have healed from the shame in my life without looking into other people’s eyes and seeing other faces and the nodding of their heads. When somebody in S-Anon says, “Yeah, I know how you feel,” they really do know! It’s as if they grew up in my house or were married to my husband. That has been very comforting and necessary for me as I have grown in the S-Anon program.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.

It Was a Relief

I had been in Al-Anon for two years when I found out about my husband’s sexaholism. I took some positive steps toward my own recovery, but I had every excuse in the book not to attend S-Anon – “My other program is helping me. The S-Anon meeting is too small…I need a larger meeting. I’m not like those people. He never did those things. I might run into a client or former client.” It never occurred to me to question why the same excuses didn’t keep me away from my other program. When I did start to attend S-Anon meetings, I felt like a complete newcomer. I struggled with my wish to control, my guilt, and my anger. It was a relief to hear people talk about sexual issues. I began to look at what sex means to me and how I used sex to manipulate my husband and reassure myself of my self-worth. I talked about boundaries and abstinence. Today, I continue to work both programs because I need both. Ironic as it may seem, I am grateful for my husband’s sexaholism, because it has forced me to look at my own addiction to people and to the illusion of control. I’ve learned that I can draw strength from my Higher Power and the power of both of my groups.

 

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Newcomer’s Information Booklet.