When I first came to S-Anon, I needed to be scraped off the unmanageability floor. I was bottomed-out in pain, cynicism, and anger. I couldn’t sleep, had panic attacks, and felt like my life was on the outer rim of an F-5 tornado. I believed that in order to calm down I needed to make sure that the sexaholic never “duped” me again. As angry as I was at him, I was angrier at myself. I felt like something must have been very wrong with me for me to not know what was really going on around me. I promised myself I would never, EVER, miss the signs of active addiction in my home again. I was going to “work it” all right! I was going to “work” a detective/prosecuting attorney angle and I was going to sleep with one eye open at night. My “knowing” became my Higher Power.

I was lucky enough to find an out-of-town sponsor that told me there was another way to serenity other than morphing into “Super-Sleuth.” She told me that the way out of my chaos was through using the program tools and not just reading them. She asked me how my own white-knuckle plan was working for me. It wasn’t. She asked me if we said the (dreaded) slogan “It works when you work it and you’re worth it” at the end of the meetings. I told her we did and that I preferred not to be touched or lectured to. She was gentle and patient with me. As she held me in our conversations, I realized that I was not alone in the dark. She said focusing on me and “working it” wasn’t about letting my spouse off the hook; it was about letting me off the hook. Being “worth it” is simply a God-given truth: that I am designed and loved by a Higher Power, even if I can’t love myself today. She told me that I’m worth doing the work for, not necessarily for my marriage or my husband. He wasn’t the focus of my program, I was. Gulp. What? Who me?

Growing up in a home with untreated sexaholism and S-Anon parents, I had lost “me” a long, long time ago. My heart needed to be sprinkled with Miracle Grow. I didn’t love myself— not even a little. This small bit of nurture from my sponsor touched the part of me that longed for healthy connection. Tears quietly tracked down my cheeks as a layer of gratitude mixed with grief unfolded within me. I looked in the mirror at an exhausted, frazzled woman. I saw something I no longer wanted to be. I wanted to be more like my sponsor (relaxed, spiritually-centered, sleeping through the night, in good humor, and able to let herself be human). I was desperate enough to listen to those who weren’t spinning anymore. Isolation from others and from their ideas had to end. So, still angry at my life circumstances, but sick and tired of being sick and tired, I “worked it” — for me. And it worked. And I’m worth it.

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

 May 4, 2020

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