Promised Results

 September 13, 2023

Step Four suggests that we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, yet many of us found that fear caused us to postpone this inventory. We were afraid of what we would find, afraid that shedding light on ourselves would uncover so many shortcomings that we could not bear the truth about ourselves.

This Step is about an honest examination of our true nature, good and bad; a process of self-discovery guided by our Higher Power. This process can be painful at times, particularly when we see that we, not others, are often the source of many of our problems. On the other hand, it is rewarding and enlightening to see the personal strengths that our inventory reveals. Many of us have noticed with irony that a consequence of not doing this Step is generally a continuance of the very pain we originally wished to avoid.

Our Fourth Step inventory also helps us develop the humility that lays a necessary foundation for our growing Twelve Step recovery. Each time we look at ourselves and our problems in the light of the Fourth Step, we put to the test the critical attitudes of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. For example, many of us were able to justify to ourselves a great deal of procrastination when we thought about working this Step and Step Five. In fact, some of us thought that “thinking about it” would be sufficient. We found, though, that working this Step as outlined in our literature was just what we needed when we felt stalled in our recovery or when we thought “this program isn’t working for me like it works for other people.” When we took the time to write out our inventories, our resentments, and our reflections on questions like the ones listed in S-Anon Twelve Steps, our self-examination began to pay off. It helped us to see and accept things we had hidden, even from ourselves. As one member put it, “Believing in the Steps gave me hope, but working them gave me the promised results.”

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 47-48.

I Chose to Respond

 September 4, 2023

One day, my spouse seemed especially irritable. I asked if he was O.K., and he responded by handing me a stack of papers. I immediately read the papers and discovered they were a new disclosure about his sexaholism. Today I know that when faced with a sweeping disclosure from the sexaholic I can say, “That’s too much information for me today.” I now know that hearing too many details about his story damages my serenity. Yet I didn’t see that choice on that particular day – I read the papers even after realizing what they were.

Before recovery, this would have triggered a downward spiral. I would have obsessed about the disclosure, allowing my mind to create even more details. I would have questioned him and demanded answers, taking up the familiar victim role. I would have considered forcing some immediate action about the relationship.

That day I chose to respond, rather than react, to the upsetting news. I chose to be gentle with myself and stayed with my feelings, not carrying around shame about his behavior. I surrendered the information to my Higher Power. I chose to live in that day only, not making major decisions about my marriage until I was in a clear frame of mind. I chose to focus on doing the next right thing: I took a walk, I went to a meeting, and I talked with my sponsor. I trusted God to guide me when the time was right. I still had serenity that day because I chose to respond, rather than react.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 140.


Growing Through Service

 August 22, 2023

I’d like to share with you the wonderful results in my own daily life of “trying to carry the message to others.”

Many years ago, the Los Angeles S-Anon groups voted to take on the responsibility of housing S-Anon’s “central office,” as we called it back then. It had basically existed in a packing box in Oklahoma City, and was in Phoenix, Arizona before that. This was a golden opportunity for someone like me – who knew everything, could fix everything, and could use just about anything to separate myself from my feelings.

I must admit that I did hesitate, at first, about jumping into service work too deep, but I did, head first and without a seat belt on. However, I was armed with willingness, a desire to serve, the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, and a dedicated but small group of S-Anon members from all over the country. I joined a committee to set up a committee, which became the S-Anon International Committee (SIC); I then served on the SIC for three years.  As I look back over the last four years I am astounded at how my life has changed and at how important this service work has been to my development in recovery. I feel as though in working to carry the message, I have had one spiritual awakening after the other. Which came first…?

I’ve had the privilege of working and laughing with a loving, supportive committee of people from all over the country. I’ve learned flexibility. I’ve found humility and how to consider others, as well as myself, in a way that I’ve never been able or willing to do before.

Step Seven in our literature reminds me that “We frequently misunderstand the word humility.” I am reminded of that sentence when I realize that initially my pride and ambition sometimes got in the way of my being of service to the fellowship as a whole. I realize now that my true motive was to be of service to the group, to newcomers that have not yet reached our doors, as well as to those that have been around for some time, but often my “best thinking” got in the way.

Reading literature on Step 7 allows me to look at how far I have come, and I see that my continuing commitment to the program and to my service obligations, showing up and being willing to be teachable, has made it possible for me to realize how important humility is in building my character, and how important it is in keeping me connected with my Higher Power.

I’ve always thought of myself as an artist, and nothing but an artist. Although I run my own art studio, I could not think of myself as a business person (“I’m not smart enough, don’t have what it takes, can’t type… etc.”) But as my SIC service work started to include more and more involvement with S-Anon’s business affairs, it fit right in with learning business procedures in my own business, and vice versa. And today, looking at these accomplishments, I can truly call myself a Business Administrator! What a gift, and what a miracle!

These are but a few of the many gifts I’ve received as a result of giving back what I have been so freely given.  For those of you who are new among us, service work can be setting up chairs, making the coffee, volunteering to call other newcomers, and just coming back! For those of you who have been around for a while and are thinking of taking the plunge, I recommend it highly. You can serve as secretary or treasurer of your group, start new meetings, answer the hotline in your area, giving your experience, strength and hope to another, send your group news to the WSO, or serve as Delegate for your Area.  There are a lot of opportunities – talk to another S-Anon member or visit the web site at!

Reprinted from the 1991 Summer issue of S-Anews©.

Step 7: Humbly Asked Him to Remove our Shortcomings

 August 8, 2023

Step Seven requires faith. Just as we came to believe in Step Two that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, so we came to believe in Step Seven that God could remove our shortcomings. We found that after we took an honest look at our character defects, discussed them with another person, and became willing to have them removed, we experienced a great deal of peace and serenity. When we humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings, even more tranquility came to us. Most of us have found that this Step needs to be taken more than once, but the growth in humility we have experienced in working with Step Seven has served us well, not only when we are asking God for help, but when we are interacting with the people in our lives.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 26.

Understanding Primary Purpose

 July 24, 2023

When I first came to S-Anon, I had no understanding of the term “primary purpose” and how I could apply that in many situations to make my life more serene. After my spouse and I both started attending recovery meetings, I had visions of our relation­ship suddenly becoming what I had always hoped it would be. If we went on a trip, for example, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to “get away together” and “grow closer.” I would become so disappointed when this did not magically happen. My sponsor patiently suggested to me that I might consider the primary purpose of the trip and focus on that. For example, when we took a trip to see our son who lived out of town, she pointed out that the primary purpose was to visit with our son. When we went to the art museum, she reminded me that the primary purpose was to see the museum’s exhibits.

I discovered that when I was able to focus on the primary pur­pose of whatever the trip or activity was, I was able to appreciate it and feel satisfied. When I unrealistically expected the activity to expand beyond its primary purpose to include mending our frac­tured relationship, I was disappointed. My sponsor’s insights on the benefits of clarifying and staying focused on the primary pur­pose have helped me to stay in reality and to enjoy the many good things in my life.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Traditions, pages 63-64.

My Opinion Has Value

 July 10, 2023

One of the hallmarks of my unhealthy thinking and behavior is my tendency to not express my opinion. I often go along with another person’s opinion instead of considering what I believe. S-Anon helped me to see that having no opinion does not necessarily relieve me of the responsibility of making a decision. When I do not participate in the decision process, I leave myself open for resentment when things do not turn out my way. Working this program has allowed me to make progress in clearly speaking my opinion and letting Higher Power guide the outcome.

Tradition Two reminds me of the importance of taking the time to have a considered opinion and to express that opinion appropriately. When I practice this, I am actively participating in the group conscience – whether it is in an S-Anon meeting, at work, or with family. I believe that God gave me a unique personality and point of view. When I do not take part in the group conscience, I am not being true to myself and I am not helping the decision-making process. It is as if I cease to exist! S-Anon has shown me that I am a worthy person capable of making a contribution. When I do so, everyone benefits.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 260.

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