The atmosphere of love and recovery I have experienced from S-Anon members sharing at International Conventions has been more helpful to me personally than I could have ever imagined. The first Convention I attended was particularly memorable. I found myself surrounded by caring people who understood because they had been where I was. I finally felt safe enough to allow myself to experience the pain and grief built up over 25 years in three marriages and countless dysfunctional relationships. I was able to admit to myself that some of the actions I had taken over the years — that had seemed so necessary — had only served to maintain and increase my insanity and had caused people I care about, including myself, endless heartache and trouble.
For so many years I had complained about being rejected, and I finally saw that I myself had done much of the rejection, both physical and emotional, of those I claimed to have loved. I had judged and condemned others, while complaining that they were judging and condemning me. I cried for two days straight. The relief was unbelievable! These were healing tears, not tears of rage and frustration.
The tendency toward isolation that seems to be such a large part of this disease and a real impediment to recovery was replaced with a wonderful feeling of being a “part of.” I get that same feeling every time I attend a Convention, regional conference, or even a meeting. Possibly the reason that the Convention had such an overwhelming effect on me was that I heard so many people share their stories, and saw myself over and over with such clarity – for the first time in my life. All my old ideas were paraded before me – “It’s not so bad,” and “I’m not as ‘sick’ as these other people, so I probably don’t need to go to these meetings,” “I already know what’s what so why work the steps and make a special effort to get honest with myself”. All of these delusions were finally exposed for the rationalizations they were. Pride made me cling to these thoughts, and they in turn kept me locked into the pain that was so hurtful, and yet so familiar. I see now that I needed to be free of that form of denial, or no further recovery would have been possible. I thought I had already taken the First Step, but it was during my experience of my first International Convention that I felt the certainty of my powerlessness, at a gut level. I’m so grateful to my Higher Power for that experience, for all of you out there, and for this program of recovery.
Reprinted from the Summer 1989 issue of The S-Anews©.