Surrendering Our Will and Our Lives

Surrendering Our Will and Our Lives


 April 5, 2021

Our understanding of our Higher Power is not really a matter of logic. Few of us can be reasoned or argued into faith. Belief in a wise, powerful and loving God usually comes from seeing a Higher Power at work in our own lives. To see this power at work, we have to give God something to work with. Let’s begin with ourselves.

Exactly how can we turn our wills and our lives over to God? We make a decision to conform to God’s will instead of our own. We are the only ones who can make that decision. When we begin to conform to God’s will, we are on the right track. “Not my will but thine be done” is the motto for Step Three. As the alcoholics put it, “Our whole trouble had been the misuse of willpower. We had tried to bombard our problems with it instead of attempting to bring it into agreement with God’s intention for us.”

We found it helpful to take this Step with a loved one, best friend or spiritual advisor, but it is better to meet God alone in this than to do it with someone who cannot accept our understanding. Our words, of course, are up to us as long as we sincerely express our hearts.

Having the best intentions and motives for what we do is not always a guarantee we will do the right thing. Simply having faith in a Higher Power is not enough. We have to surrender our will and our lives over and over again. Now, in all times of emotional disturbance and indecision, we can pause, get quiet, and in that stillness let go of our problems and worries. We can have the confidence that we have an ever-present help in times of need.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 2.

 

Detaching From Myself


 March 22, 2021

I was doing some reading recently on “detachment with love” in preparation for leading a topic meeting, and what really caught my attention was a reading from CAL that suggested we must sometimes strive to “detach from ourselves.” That idea intrigued me. I understand at least a little bit about detaching from others and refusing to become entangled in someone else’s emotional chaos. Today I know that I am a whole and complete person, spiritually and emotionally separate, even from my much-loved sexaholic husband. Having found myself, why would I need to detach from myself?

After pondering, letting it rest, and pondering some more, here’s what that reading is saying to me. I have some patterns of thinking that are so deeply embedded that sometimes, before I know it, a negative thought pattern (emotional chaos) is triggered and I am 3/4 of the way down the road to a resentment before I even know it. Or some memory from the unhealthy past has caused the tape to start playing in my head that tells me I am not “enough.” “I don’t do enough, I don’t know enough,” I feel unworthy, alone and afraid (emotional chaos) in spite of any factual information to the contrary. Do I not need to detach from my own emotional chaos?

The reading further suggests to me that I can recognize that I have been “triggered” and use all the “will power” I have to gain some emotional distance from those thoughts and feelings by challenging their validity. In most cases, they are not real and true reflections of who I am today but tired voices from the past that had my full attention for many, many years. They have only the power I give them. What a concept. I can detach from those feelings, and “attach” to my Higher Power, asking to be restored to sanity, and make a concerted effort to turn my thoughts in a positive direction by making a program call, reading some CAL or other spiritual literature, more prayer, journaling, anything that affirms my recovery and drowns out those voices.

Wait. I almost forgot the most important part: the part where I “detach with love.” For me, detaching from myself with love means that I resist beating myself up by entertaining thoughts like, “You should know better by now.” “You must not be working a very good program if you are having those feelings.” “Why can’t you just get over it?” “If you didn’t have so many character defects, you wouldn’t be feeling this way.” These are not loving ways to think about myself. Today I am a card-carrying member of the human race, working to accept my good and not so good points with equal humility. It is progress for me to gently accept myself fully, including all my thoughts and feelings, even if I don’t want to entertain some of those thoughts for very long. (“Thanks for stopping by, but I have to go now.”) I am aware that I don’t work any part of this program perfectly, but I do it with the sincere intention of striving to be of the greatest use to God and others that I can be, and that is enough. I am truly grateful for all of the CAL that we have at our disposal, and for the changes that can occur in my thinking when I read something I have read before, but somehow understand it in a new and more positive way. It is another miracle of the program.

Reprinted from the Winter 2009 issue of The S-Anews©.

Sexaholic Father


 March 8, 2021

I was overwhelmed, confused, depressed and angry when I discovered that my father was a sexaholic. At first I was in shock and had no idea how to deal with the issue. I was so angry and thought that he was acting this way to hurt me. At first I kept myself busy with work and I chose not to deal with the issue, but soon I became even more depressed and began to isolate myself from friends. I was unsure who to turn to or where I should look for support. I knew I could no longer continue down my current path, so I started attending S-Anon meetings. After sharing my story, I felt as if a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I shared the secret I had been keeping inside of me for years with people who understood and had been through similar circumstances. Through working the steps and relying on the tools of the program and my Higher Power, I see a difference in myself and my attitude toward my father. Instead of being angry at him, I feel compassion for him; he is sick and does not realize it. S-Anon has been the greatest gift that I could have given myself. I know that I still have a long and difficult road of recovery ahead, but as long as I keep working the program and using the tools, my story will become one that carries a message of hope for new members.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 79.

New Messages


 February 22, 2021

Unhealthy messages like: “Men are no good, so you had better make sure you get a good education” plagued my self-esteem and fueled my fears about men and relationships. I became afraid of intimacy, fearing I would be abandoned. I believed I had to use my body to manipulate men, and use them before they used me. My mother also told me: “Don’t ever depend on a man for anything.” As I entered adulthood, I continually found myself in unhealthy relationships that reinforced those old “tapes” from my mother.

S-Anon has given me new “tapes” from healthy people. I have made tremendous progress in replacing the old negative messages with new messages about the real me the person I was born to be. Now I believe I have the courage and wisdom to make good choices for myself. I am learning to embrace my real self like a cherished friend, and I am able to be in relationships and share my truth with others.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 35.

Accepting My Unmanageability


 February 8, 2021

I remember one rough period when I just couldn’t seem to do anything to make my husband happy. I didn’t know at the time that an affair he was having was breaking up. I just knew that he was angry with me. Underneath I felt that something was wrong, but I just tried to cope by accepting him with his quirks.

As time went on, though, I became more and more suspicious that he was seeing another woman. My own “acting out” really started to pick up then. I went through his wallet, his car, and checked up on things. I discovered the name of the person with whom he was involved. When I found out that my husband had taken our three-year-old son to her home, I even questioned my child and found out where she lived. I went to her house expecting my husband to be there and, indeed, caught him trimming her lawn. My denial was so strong that I believed him when he told me she was just a good friend, but I got suspicious again when I was in the hospital giving birth to our second child. His parents remarked that he was coming home rather late, and then I remembered that the woman he had the affair with lived across the street from the hospital. When I got out of the hospital, I alleviated the devastating pain by checking up again. I hired detectives to give me hard evidence that he could not deny. My obsession was so great that the detectives said, “Don’t snoop anymore. You’re going to ruin things for us!” But I couldn’t stop.

I continued to focus so much on his sexaholic behavior that I couldn’t pay as much attention to my children as I should have. For example, one time my son wanted to go to the pool, but I was expecting the detectives to call. I told my son we had to wait. To pass time he innocently began singing a song, but in my obsession, his singing drove me crazy. I just lost it, grabbed him and screamed at him to stop.

My unmanageability was growing, so I confronted my husband and served him with divorce papers. I couldn’t tolerate the relationship any more. But he begged me to stay. I gave him a bottom line: “If we are going to stay together, we’re going to see a couples counselor, you’re going to cut up your credit cards, I am going to give you an allowance, you are going to call me before you leave work and I’m going to give you a reasonable amount of time to get home.”

My efforts to control the situation seemed to go O.K. at first, but after five months I started getting suspicious again. I called the detectives and found out my husband had saved up his allowance for weeks and had gone to a motel with the other woman at lunch time. I finally realized that I couldn’t control him. I despaired; I didn’t know what to do. It was then that my Higher Power entered our lives in the form of a person who helped us find the SA and S-Anon fellowships.

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, pages 7-9.

Learning to Hear My Higher Power’s Voice Through Others


 January 25, 2021

With the help of many S-Anon mentors, I’ve learned to look for the activators of my defects of character. There are many. Fear and hurt are often the foundation of my defects. When I applied this process to Tradition Two I found I am particularly challenged to act spiritually when I feel someone has hurt/betrayed me or when I don’t feel heard. Low self-worth can make me feel second class and invisible. It became clear that when I’m feeling wounded I can default to a defect of character or two (or three or four…)!

What helps me is to have faith. I don’t need to have faith in me, anyone else, or in a system — just in Higher Power. This is essential for me in times of low self-esteem or in low esteem for others. Tradition Two, like most Traditions, takes me back to Step Two. Step Two states: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves, could restore us to sanity.” Tradition Two asks me to practice faith in a Higher Power and to trust that if I let go, Higher Power still has me and/or the group. Even if I can’t see God in the decision of the moment, my faith tells me I will see it in the long run.

God works on me in many ways. I have been learning to let go of the answers and/or validation I am seeking. God does answer me — always. Sometimes it’s “yes,” (what I hope for) sometimes it’s “no,” (what I fear or don’t want) and most frustrating to me, but clearly the most common outcome, sometimes the answer is “maybe” (there is more to learn). If I allow myself to surrender my will in Step Three practice, I am able to really let go and stop trying to convince, save, or rush another.

I am so grateful for the wisdom and guidance of a Higher Power that moves me to the right degree of self-care, and I am grateful for S-Anon — a program of recovery that has allowed me to learn to slow down and listen to the voice of Higher Power. Today I don’t have to stay in situations that are abusive, and I don’t have to become abusive in trying to force a situation. I can trust Higher Power. And that has been easier for me to practice than trusting others. In developing an eye and an ear for the Higher Power made manifest in others, I am growing in tolerance, compassion, and faith. I have become a student of everyone.

Reprinted from the Fall 2010 issue of The S-Anews©.

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