I Can Only Change Myself

 June 21, 2021

Recently, my sponsor and I were discussing an invitation I had received to reapply for a professional position. There were several people advocating for me to interview for the job. I had been daydreaming about how I would impress my supporters and how everyone enthusiastically would recognize my unique qualifications.

My sponsor’s response brought me down to earth: “Just do your footwork, trust God, and believe that, no matter what happens, the outcome will be exactly the way it is supposed to be. Nothing will be a loss.”

With that, I realized that I once again was imagining that somehow I could change other people. I thought if I was just “good enough” everything would work out my way. I had fallen back into the same unhealthy thinking pattern that had caused so much unmanageability in my life with the sexaholic.

I took my cue from the Serenity Prayer, asking my Higher Power to help me find the courage to change the things I could. I took contrary action by doing something different from my usual way of doing things: I reapplied for the position, and I kept my feet on the ground by using the tools of the S-Anon program and placing the outcome in my Higher Power’s hands.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 179.

Picture of Sanity

 May 24, 2021

The only word I noticed in Step Two for a very long time was “sanity.” It stood out like a neon billboard, blocking the “came to believe” part. Why was that word there? What did it mean? The word “restore” suggested I had been sane at one time or another. Before I could actively pursue sanity, and come to believe God could and would restore me to sanity, I had to have a clear understanding of what the word meant for me.

There was not much in my current life, or in my childhood filled with abandonment and neglect, to indicate what sanity was or how to get it. I had learned to adapt to others as the way to survive, almost totally losing myself in the process. “Shoulds” and “oughts” sprinkled my vocabulary and guided my thinking. I was very busy mothering and managing other people. I spent all my time trying to figure out how to make them happy, while denying my own needs. Since this was all I knew, this seemed sane to me. As the disease of sexaholism progressed, though, my life and my family’s lives became more unmanageable. I felt deserted by the God who had sustained me as a child.

One day while watching small children play, I realized they were the healthiest, most sane people I knew. They knew how to live life in the present. They had trust and did not question the fact they were cared for by a greater power. They knew they could not do it all alone and did not hesitate to ask for help or reassurance. They let go of pain and hurts easily. They definitely had lives of their own and had no false shame. They liked and enjoyed being themselves and were eager to learn and grow on their own. They had confidence in what they had learned so far and were willing to take risks to live. They were behaving appropriately for their ages. What a picture of sanity! This was something I could believe in and pursue. Now I have a checklist for my unhealthy thinking. I can strive to bring the healthy attitudes expressed by those children into my adult life. This is sanity and God’s will for me. What a difference this has made in my life!

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 19-20.

Creating My Own Affirmations

 May 10, 2021

I will always remember my first exposure to the unfamiliar culture of S-Anon meetings. The Twelve-Step lingo was so foreign that I felt like they were speaking a different language! The readings, the shares, and the slogans were all so unfamiliar. Everything from “Hi, my name is…” to “Keep coming back” felt odd and even artificial to me. Did these people really mean what they were saying, or were they just going along with the program?

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the answer was somewhere in the middle. Some of us “newbies” were simply mouthing the words, sensing the truth of it, but still trying to grasp the meaning of it all. Other members who were further along in the process had varying abilities to relate to and apply the principles of the Twelve Steps to their lives. I have come to appreciate how the readings and practices of the Twelve Step meetings are designed to help us grow into the significance of what we are hearing and saying. Every week, we build up our understanding of the S-Anon Problem, the Keys to Recovery, the slogans, and the rest.

One area that was especially peculiar to me at the beginning was the positive affirmations I heard other S-Anon members practicing. I saw positive affirmations in the Gifts of the S-Anon Program. I felt uncomfortable reading statements about my recovery that were not yet true. After reading our literature, I would sometimes feel challenged by the passages. How could I say, “I let go of outcomes, and my burden is lifted,” when I was clearly not letting go of outcomes? Or, “My sobriety is not dependent on my partner’s recovery,” when my current emotional state noticeably proved otherwise?

Gradually, I began to discover that verbalizing the truths of recovery was helping me to grow into them. I didn’t have to be the epitome of the statement, “I practice detachment with love,” in order to legitimately express my desire to live that way. What I found was that the more I said it, the more it came true!

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

Living with an Active Sexaholic

 April 25, 2021

Living with an Active Sexaholic… I have asked myself so many questions: What does it mean that I am still living with an active sex addict? Have I just not recovered enough to separate? What are the underlying effects on our children? What are my “bottom lines?” When I finish asking myself the questions that have yet to be answered, I come back to the reality of the First Step: I am powerless over sexaholism, and my life becomes unmanageable when I try to manage the lives of others. What about self-deception? Am I crazy to be living with an active sexaholic, given the progressive nature of his disease? Today I believe that no plan of my own could have given me the willingness to change and mend my ways. I know more will be revealed to me as I continue to rely on my Higher Power and work the S-Anon program. The peace I have today is a gift from my Higher Power. I am so sure of God’s love that I can leave my concerns in his hands, knowing that I and those I love will be provided for “one day at a time.” I believe that God will not leave me without a way out, even when I mistakenly interpret His will or my place in a situation. As long as I am willing to accept where I am, honestly, and be open to his help, it is easy to make the next decision to trust God and turn my life over to his care.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 73.

Grateful to Be Married to a Sexaholic

 April 23, 2021

When I lead a newcomer’s meeting, I share that I am grateful to be married to a recovering sexaholic. I tell them that I am not being sarcastic or trying to diminish the pain they are experiencing. Rather, my gratitude arises out of my awareness that sexaholism brought me to S-Anon which has given me many gifts.
One of these gifts is a relationship with myself. Before S-Anon, I acted how I thought others wanted me to act. I would change my opinion on a topic to avoid another person’s anger. In recovery, I came to think of my pre-recovery persona as “the chameleon-velcro woman” – stick to whomever and mimic them. Through S-Anon I have discovered who I am and have developed the courage to be myself, regardless of what others think or say. What a gift to truly like myself today!

Another gift has been learning to take the focus off my husband and put it onto myself. For years I tried to change my husband and got nothing but frustration. Coming to S-Anon has allowed me to enjoy him for the person he is.

Discovering I was married to a sexaholic was my worst nightmare. S-Anon has given me the gift of a better life. For that I am truly grateful.
Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 269.

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, pages 28-29.


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