Recovery Through Service

Early in my S-Anon recovery I was comfortable and enjoyed doing service work for my home group. But I learned the most about myself and took my recovery to new levels when I did service work beyond my group. I came to recognize and develop talents I didn’t even know I had. This brought up some of my faulty thinking. I had grown up hearing old slogans/tapes: You can do that, if you just try harder; I know you will not let the family down; Do you think you are better than the others? Is your time more valuable? No excuses; You are being lazy; Can’t you do what is expected of you? and so on. In my S-Anon recovery I have heard and learned new slogans that promote gentleness and self-care. Through S-Anon service work, I have learned that it is absolutely my job, and my job alone, to look after and care for myself by setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. I’ve learned to respectfully say what I mean and mean what I say. I have the courage to say no when necessary. I am very grateful for the opportunity to do this service work; I learn more about myself in the process, and give myself the gift of a more balanced life. Today I am grateful for a whole set of new slogans (such as: Easy Does It; Keep It Simple; One Day at a Time; H.A.L.T.; Live and Let Live) and the S-Anon program. My Higher Power continues to provide me with opportunities to learn and grow in my service work beyond my local group.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 106-107.

Walking in the Light…

Every time I share about my experiences with sexaholism and what happened to me throughout my childhood, my adult life, and my marriage the pain decreases. I can see more clearly now that I am speaking the truth about my situation. I had been in denial about those experiences prior to my S-Anon recovery. I knew I had been living a lie, but I didn’t want to admit it. When I allowed the light and the truth to come in, I found a brand new life waiting for me. Carrying the message has helped me to heal. When I speak the truth, the truth sets me free. That is a spiritual principle that always works for me. Carrying the message of my truth to others is like turning on the light in a dark room. The darkness just goes. I love to carry this message of hope and recovery.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 111.

Progress Not Perfection

As we start to practice the principles of the S-Anon Program, positive changes occur in our perspectives and actions. At times our progress seems slow, but we learn to appreciate progress and not demand perfection. Sometimes it takes a while to understand the various principles. We find that we can revisit certain Steps or apply them to additional aspects of our lives. We learn to trust the guidance and timing of our Higher Power to help us become aware of attitudes and behaviors that stand in the way of our recovery. Our sponsor or another S-Anon member can often help us, too. We begin to experience our Higher Power’s gift of serenity, and our confusion, fear, and depression lessen. In this way we carry the message of our recovery to S-Anon members, and to others, as well.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 98.

Stop Playing God…

For me, a slip is going back to the way I used to act and react before I came into the S-Anon program. I used to believe that I had to control others and that I was responsible for their behavior. For example, I was sexual with my husband before he traveled, thinking that it would make him less likely to look at other women while he was away from home. In S-Anon I learned that for my own recovery and for the good of the people I love, I had to stop trying to control everything. I found that people need to learn and do things for themselves. Even if I believe I have all the answers, I need to let people figure it out in their own way. I still have to bite my tongue in order not to explain to my husband my opinions about why he’s feeling the way he is, how it relates to his family of origin, and what he can do about it. Often I still want to control, manage, and be responsible, and I do have slips. After all, it took a long time to develop the habits I brought into the program, and I know today that nobody is perfect. In recovery I’m learning that although I may not have a choice about feeling these feelings, I have a choice about whether to act on them or not. With time it has gotten easier to recognize these feelings for what they are, without having to act on them.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 54-55.

Progress Not Perfection…

Another way we work the Twelfth Step is to do service work in our “home” group (the group we attend regularly — the one in which we feel most comfortable). We can help set up the chairs and literature before the meeting, serve as the meeting leader, contact people who inquire about our program, or volunteer to be a trusted servant such as the group secretary or treasurer. Any activity that makes it possible for the meeting to take place and to be a source of hope and recovery for a newcomer is Twelfth Step work… I volunteered to be the key holder for my Saturday night meeting. The church had asked us not to duplicate the key, so I was the only one with a key. I admit that I can be forgetful. Well, one week I forgot the key. We were a small meeting , so we actually met in my car that night. Thankfully, I found the key before the next meeting. It was a comfort to know I didn’t have to be perfect in order to do service. I felt appreciated and appreciate others who take turns holding the key.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 101-102.

Powerless Over Others

I was orphaned at 14 and went to live with my sister and her family. Her husband was the first sexaholic in my life.  I was very needy, fragile, and impressionable. I soaked up any attention I could get and learned attitudes in this unhealthy environment that stayed with me as I grew up. What I believed in my teenage years was that women were responsible for meeting all of men’s needs. I also learned that men’s most important need was for sex. I thought my needs were not important, because I was told I was selfish if I voiced them. If I could not meet the needs of others, I thought I was a “failure” and “unlovable.” These unhealthy beliefs caused me to seek out equally unhealthy, often sexaholic, partners when I began dating.

At age 18, my unhealthy world view led me to place myself in a situation in which I was raped. I was unable to report the crime or ask for help in dealing with its effects. In my thinking, it was my fault that it happened and my needs were inconsequential. My life was overshadowed by fear and loneliness, and I felt worthless.

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I Must Stop Playing God in My Partner’s Life…

When I feel the urge to try to be my husband’s “sponsor,” I know I need to do two things. First, I can put one of the S-Anon slogans into practice, and “keep the focus on myself.” I can ask myself questions like: “Does this situation make me feel afraid of abandonment? If so, why? Am I afraid to trust the program? Do I secretly feel superior to my spouse, believing that he cannot function without my “help”?  My own road to recovery has been based upon the answers to questions like these, not upon the actions or feelings of my husband.

The second thing I can do is realize that for my own good, I must stop playing God in my partner’s life. I can learn to trust that the life and recovery
of my spouse is also in the care of a “power greater than myself.” If I have come to believe that a Higher Power can restore me to sanity, I can trust that the same is true for my partner.


Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 47.

Putting our Sobriety First

We find that each of us has particular behaviors and attitudes that we have found to be destructive to ourselves and that we hope to eliminate, thus becoming more “sober.” Some of us wanted to let go of behaviors like snooping, raging at the sexaholic or lying to family and friends to cover up the addiction, for example. Others wanted to become more honest with ourselves and others or to become more tolerant and open minded. We have used individual strategies for changing these actions and attitudes, as we must if we wish to find serenity. My mother is the sex addict who affected my life the most, and I used to take care of her a lot and resented every minute of it. That wasn’t good for me and it wasn’t right for her, no matter what she did to me in my childhood. I didn’t want to have the emotional hangovers I got when I would stay too long on the phone and end up screaming at her. For my own sobriety and peace of mind, I set a boundary around our visits and telephone calls, because spending too much time with her is not a sober situation for me.


Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 54 and 57.

Hoping in a Higher Power…

The only solution to my fear, my desire to control and my feelings of victimization has been to live one minute at a time and to act as if I trust God, even when I don’t. I look back on all my losses, and even though I see that each one in the end turned out to be best for me, I still feel angry and fearful. But I do know one thing for sure: I am not God. This small amount of humility allows me to know that I do not know what is best for me, or for anyone else. I have seen that things I thought were best were not, and, as a result, I am beginning to see that my self-righteousness is not based on reality. This gives me the hope that God does know what is best for me. I know that I cannot get my partner sober or save our relationship, only God can. I must let go of trying to control, and let God do whatever he is going to do, even if I don’t want to. I don’t know if that is willingness, but it is all I have.


Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 39.

The Serenity Prayer – My Guide to Living

The Serenity Prayer helps me realize the difference between my responsibility and the other person’s responsibility. It involves taking control of myself and letting go of my control of others’ actions and opinions. That’s easier said than done, though, and I’ve had to work at finding ways to make this prayer a reality in my life.

Accepting Things I Cannot Change…Accepting the past as past has become important to my serenity. I have faced my past and called it what it is. Thankfully, it does not need to be repeated, nor does it need to remain so hurtful to me. I can give up my past dreams and idealistic goals. I can make new goals that include myself and my Higher Power’s will for me.

Courage to Change the Things I Can… I am learning to trust myself to rise to the occasion as a problem presents itself. I will have the resources when I need them. I don’t have to control the outcome but can learn to trust the process. This allows me to be less afraid of the future. I am learning to accept change and not automatically see it as the end of the world or negative, but rather an opportunity for growth.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference… I am learning to distinguish between what I can do and what’s not my responsibility. I can take responsibility for myself and stop my own negative behaviors. I can identify those things I find difficult to accept that cause me physical, emotional or spiritual depletion. I can choose to take care of myself by spending quality time with God. The more I get to know God, the more I trust His love and care for me.


Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 42.