I came to S-Anon based on a clear ultimatum from my wife — make some changes now or she was leaving. Despite her recovery and sexual sobriety and my attendance at meetings of another Twelve Step fellowship, according to her, our lives were still “unmanageable.” I didn’t know what unmanageability she was talking about, but on the advice of a counselor and people in other fellowships, I started attending S-Anon meetings.
I felt uncomfortable attending meetings at first, all these women and very few, if any, men. How could I relate to them or them to me? Slowly, as I became willing to listen and not judge, I heard pieces of my own story — the need to “fix,” the feeling that everything was my fault, the resentment toward the sexaholic. What really amazed me was seeing some members, still living with active addiction, who seemed to be able to find serenity when I had none.
The unmanageability in my life became apparent to me only after months of going to meetings. I painfully began to see how I created unmanageability when I tried to control my wife, my bosses at work, the mortgage, our finances, my children’s behavior — all things over which I had no control. I saw how I took responsibility for things that I had no responsibility for, and, in turn, abdicated the role that truly was mine with those people and things. In one instance after another — no matter how big or how small — I fell into the same pattern.
For example, my wife could ask, “Did you see my glasses?” and I would rage inside as I searched the house for them, wondering why she thought this was my responsibility, my problem to solve. (I seemed to miss the fact that she was simply asking a question and didn’t blame me for losing the glasses. I didn’t see that I was the one putting blame on myself.) Or she might want to sit down to discuss needed home improvements, but my fear of making the wrong decision would set in, and I would turn over all the plans to her. Later I would criticize (and, oh, how I could criticize!) or question the choices, which always led to an argument. I was a master at pointing out flaws and pitfalls, pointing a massive finger at the problems of life and others in my life, yet never seeing my responsibility in these problems, too.
S-Anon has taught me to stop pointing fingers and to look at myself. Is my life still unmanageable? When it is, I go back to the First Step and surrender by admitting my powerlessness over whatever it is I’m trying to control.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 5-6.