Coming to my first S-Anon meeting, I was thinking that I’d find the “keys to recovery for the sexaholic in my life.” Instead, what I found was the S-Anon Problem. It hit me square in the eyes — and it left a welt for days. But it was a spiritual awakening for me. I was broken enough to know that my self-reliance had run riot in my life and I was out of other options. I was lucky that day because a woman who’d had decades of program experience said to me “Honey, I can tell you one thing, and one thing only. Your only hope is the Steps and the Traditions. Don’t skip either.” I believed her and so I surrendered. My disease had me beat.
We were a new group — and we felt alone. None of us had done S-Anon work before and we all lacked sponsors. We called the WSO [World Service Office] and were given the names of some established, larger groups in our region. Most of us found out of town sponsors – something for which we are eternally grateful. In talking to these women I learned that in one city they did annual Step Studies. I thought: “OK; I can do that.” This really appealed to me because the commitment I had to myself was never as strong as my commitment to others. If I could get a Step Study going, I knew my desire to honor the group would keep me coming back and doing the work. For three weeks I announced in the meeting that I was going to start a Step Study and that if you wanted to participate, come to the planning meeting. Miraculously, ten women joined the study and the spiritual journey began. We met each Saturday morning for 2 hours and we went over 3 questions from the S-Anon Twelve Step Workbook out loud. We established guidelines – this was not to be a therapy group, no cross-talk, and no breeches of anonymity outside this room. We committed to each other and to ourselves. And it literally saved our lives.
As we marched through the study together, we all began to feel our Higher Power’s presence in the room. We knew we were not alone. We shared our deepest fears and hidden truths. We shared our brokenness and our relationship patterns. We shared our guilty feelings, our shame-based thinking, our history and our S-Anon problems. We surrendered to the process and we trusted one another. It was hard. And it was good. The pain had a purpose. We didn’t ask a thing from each other and we didn’t comment on each others’ work – but we grew spherically, that is, our understanding of our disease expanded outwardly like an ever-widening, growing sphere, by witnessing each other’s. I contributed my story and my truth, and I scribbled and scrawled line after line of “realizations” that the other women offered in their wounded wisdom. There wasn’t one woman who didn’t come through this study and feel restored to sanity. Higher Power was able to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. We were amazed at the process, and certainly aware of the spiritual center of it all.
Following this, we started a Tradition Study. We used a conference approved book that elaborated upon the Traditions and how they apply to our entire lives and we did the same with the questions in that book as we had with the Step Study. While not as many people attended this study, those of us who did show up and churn out the hard-won work deepened significantly in recovery. Our emotional sobriety grew to new heights. I, personally, came to see the Traditions as love letters from God. These were the “family values” that I needed to be taught. They also took my Fourth Step and expanded it – helping me see my patterns of behavior in relationship more clearly. Today I love the Traditions even more than the Steps – something I never thought possible. For those who are willing, the Traditions explode with spiritual guidance and truth. The Steps healed my obsessions, my wound, and my S-Anon issues. The Traditions brought me to the glory of “right relationship” with myself, my Higher Power, and others.
As I continue to grow in my S-Anon recovery program, I understand that I barely understand the depth and signi cance of these spiritual principles. I really get that my obedience to the unenforceable isn’t something I do to me, it’s something I do for me. While my own self-reliant next best plan often fails, the one that Higher Power designed for me through the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions never does. I thank God for S-Anon — the vehicle through which my soul met my Higher Power’s embrace.
Reprinted from the Fall 2009 issue of S-Anews©.