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.