I have heard sexual addiction defined as a disease of the mind, and I believe this is true for those of us in S-Anon as well. As an S-Anon member for over three years, I have been recovering from my addiction to old beliefs and behaviors from my family of origin. The word “slip” has always troubled me when it has been applied to people who have some strong recovery behind them. I interpret the word “slip” to mean an accident. Having practiced the principles of the program for some time, it would be very difficult for me to accidentally “slip” into my old behaviors. I would have to first experience my old delusional thinking, obsessing, and rationalizing before speaking the words or acting out the behavior
I was married when I entered the S-Anon Fellowship three years and five months ago. I have been divorced for two years and am continuing in recovery as a single person. Married or single, I qualify for S-Anon. I am powerless over my obsessive thoughts. Fortunately, through working the program I am not powerless over staying with these thoughts and acting out the old dysfunctional behaviors.
Sobriety in S-Anon is maintained by recognizing the obsessive thinking and then calling on our Higher Power and our support persons before we act out the old behaviors. Sometimes saying the Serenity Prayer and turning it over to our Higher Power is sufficient. Sometimes after turning it over to our Higher Power, we need to make a support call or several support calls. We get into trouble when we try to “tough it out” and do it alone. To maintain sobriety, we need to recognize that we cannot do it alone.
One of the rewards of sobriety is knowing that I will never betray myself again. I recently had closure on a relationship that I was in for about four months. Although I allowed myself to go slow in getting to know this man, I began to see some of the behaviors that I was not willing to tolerate in a relationship. I was able to tell him clearly and directly that I would not be dating him anymore. I was able to stay with my feelings without taking his inventory. He tried to convince me to reconsider but I stood firm and trusted my inner knowing. Although I experienced pain, disappointment, and sadness, I did not experience a disabling depression; I maintained my self-esteem and sense of hope by affirming myself and reaching out for support from my recovering friends.
Maintaining sobriety in S-Anon does not guarantee that I will never get hurt again. It does guarantee that I will never betray myself again.
Reprinted from the Spring 1991 issue of The S-Anews©.