One of the first things I had to deal with in recovery was my overwhelming shame and guilt over how my part in this disease affected my children. At that point, they were already grown up; one of my children had not spoken to me for two years, and the other two were wary, to say the least. Their father was not a sexaholic, but my disease was fully present when I was married to him, and grew worse over the years. The best of my efforts and attention were always focused on my partner, and I neglected my children emotionally and physically.
When I felt ready to face their possible rejection, I told my children as much as they wanted to know about the past, and their reactions were as individual as they are. One daughter wanted to know all about it, my son showed very little desire to hear my story, and my younger daughter asked a question here and there, and then cut off the discussion abruptly when she had heard as much as she could handle for the moment. My current husband’s involvement in his recovery program for sexaholics was mentioned in passing, but the details of his old behaviors seemed irrelevant as far as my children were concerned. It was my obsession with my partners that affected them.
As the years have passed, I have sensed our children’s growing respect for my husband’s and my recovery. It fills me with joy to realize that we have become the kind of parents to whom they can turn with their problems, knowing that we have faced and overcome some really tough issues, one day at a time. Today, even the problems related to my children [and grandchildren!] are a luxury that at one point in my life I believed I would never enjoy. I also know that the most valuable gift I can give them is the gift of my ongoing, one-day-at-a-time S-Anon recovery.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 89-90.