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.
When I came to S-Anon I was shown how to begin to rebuild my life on a healthy and solid foundation. I learned that I am responsible only for my own needs and actions. I learned that I am powerless over all the other people in my life, their actions, decisions, and consequences. Finally, I learned
that although I was definitely a participant in unhealthy relationships, the shortcomings of others are neither my fault nor my responsibility. It has been painful at times, but I have learned how to find serenity, healing, and love in my life. today, because of S-Anon, I know a freedom and joy in living that I would have never thought possible.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 78-79.