When I came to S-Anon, I had been stuck on Step Eight in another Twelve Step program for a long time. I had a list and I knew the people to whom I needed to make amends. I was willing enough to say “I’m sorry” and to reach out to re-establish relationships with those I had harmed the most — my children from my first marriage from whom I had been estranged. Yet a thought kept going through my mind: “There’s something else I have to do. There’s more to this Step than I have been able to face.”

Through working the Steps again from an S-Anon point of view, I experienced many changes in my life. I became aware of the nature of my own unhealthy behavior in certain relationships and situations. I experienced a wonderful freedom from feelings of guilt and shame. Then I received a letter from my sixteen-year-old daughter that felt like a slap in the face. She essentially said that she needed a mother who would take an active role in her life and that if I wanted a relationship with her, I would have to do my part by at least living in the same city as she did, rather than on another continent. Her message reminded me of a line from the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous: “The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.”

I finally saw why it had taken me so long to become willing to really complete Step Eight — being willing to make these amends was going to mean that my life situation might have to change and that I might lose my relationship with my sexaholic partner. This was a terrifying prospect. Through my S-Anon work I had come to identify my relationship with him as being like a drug for me. I had always put the relationship ahead of everything else in my life including my children. Now I saw I had to be willing to let it go if I wanted a relationship with my daughter.

I prayed a lot after receiving the letter, asking my Higher Power for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out. The answer gradually became clear that my spiritual program would not move forward if I was not willing to actively make these amends by picking up and moving to where my children lived. I needed to make myself available for whatever relationship my Higher Power would establish between my children and me. Finally, five years after I first heard Step Eight read, God led me to place where my spiritual growth has a higher priority than maintaining my primary relationship, even though I loved my partner dearly. I was really willing to leave him if I had to, for whatever time it would take. Then the miracles began to happen!

My partner and I agreed (after years of postponing the decision) to marry as soon as we could. We made plans to leave the city where we had met and lived for many years, trusting that we were in the care of a power greater than ourselves. We have never regretted it. I reconnected in a meaningful way with my children and for the first time in eight years became a real part of their lives. For me, Step Eight was a lesson in patience, faith in the program, and in God, and finally, a miraculous turning point in my program and in the life of my family.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 90-91.

 August 13, 2018

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