Spiritual Awakenings

 February 7, 2022

During one weekend visit from my mother, I sat at my kitchen table just as the sun began to embrace the day. I had risen extra early to be able to read my meditation books before any one else got up, so naturally I felt a bit disappointed as I heard Mom come into the room to join me, pouring herself a cup of coffee. She asked what I was reading. After silently praying for acceptance before I responded, I looked at her and noticed a new softness and even an open yearning in her face. I felt a gentle inspiration from my Higher Power to read several paragraphs of the day’s meditation aloud. After I finished reading, I shared my gratitude for the healing God had brought into our lives and relationship.

We had spoken before of the incest in our family and now with tears in her eyes, my Mom spoke again of her sorrow for not seeing sooner what Dad was doing, for not being stronger, for not being smarter. I looked into her weary eyes and told her that I finally knew she had no power to control Dad’s disease. I told her I now realized that she had been just as much a victim of this family disease as my brother, sisters, and I had been, and that I also now understood how this disease had swallowed Dad, too. Remembering how each of us children had been sexually abused and how even the family dog had not been spared from the effects of this disease, I told my Mom that I also had struggled with feelings of guilt and shame because I had not been able to protect anyone.

As we cried together, I reached across the table to hold her hand. Our eyes connected, and it was as if time stood still, as images came to mind of the awakenings God had provided to me through working the Steps. I had become aware of why I had gotten into successive relationships with sexaholics. I had been willing to face painful flashbacks that seemed to swallow me whole at times, but ultimately helped me to face reality. I had been able to let go of blaming my mother for what my father had done and to let go of blaming myself, too. I had grieved the deep sadness from my childhood, layer by layer, as I healed and rose above it. I was filled with gratitude for my mother’s courage to look at her part in the family disease, too, and her willingness to talk about it.

In that moment, I thanked God, who had made possible the healing found in S-Anon. I was grateful, too, for how my husband, who really wants to be set free from lust and has been willing to go to any length for recovery, has helped me find my own recovery from the pain and shame brought by the first sexaholic in my life – my father.

Mom has no S-Anon group, but I can still carry the message of experience, strength, and hope to her. What I have practiced for years in meetings is beginning to be practiced in “all my affairs” and all my relationships, even the ones that had been so shattered before. As devastating and shameful as the disease of sexaholism can be, it does not compare to the richness of the continual spiritual awakening, renewal and healing that God has brought into my life. I am astounded by God’s ability to free so many of us by His message of truth, as He weaves our healing with that of those around us when we follow His lead and carry the message.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 147-148.

I RSVP’d “Yes”: A Step Two Story

 January 24, 2022

When I first came to S-Anon and started to work the Steps with my sponsor, I realized quickly that although I was in my late 40’s, I had a very childish sense of my Higher Power. I still saw God as my parents, powerful and punishing. I thought that God was like a magic genie; leaving gifts I wanted and making people do what I wanted and circumstances occur as I planned. I obviously needed to grow out of my life-long immature belief system. But how? My sponsor offered: pray for the willingness to receive God and that God reveal Himself to me. So I prayed.

The first miracle occurred when I was driving to an S-Anon retreat. I was pulling off the highway and noticed that the town had an ironic name. A beautiful version of an old, soulful worship song was playing on the radio and that’s when a new spiritual awakening hit me. The town bore my father’s name. I knew what my father’s love felt like. The love of my Higher Power was far greater and more powerful. I could feel the energy and warmth of that love right there on the side of the highway. Tears fell down my cheeks. God was not Mom, Dad, or Genie. I could not see God, but I could feel God. I could begin there.

The next miracle occurred some months later when I discovered my husband had relapsed in his sexaholic behaviors. One year into S-Anon and I knew far more about this addiction than when I started and with this relapse I was broken. I sat in my dining room in the early morning hours aware of my powerlessness and despair. I prayed the Third Step prayer with all my heart, not expecting anything, doing only what I was taught to do. In an instant, I heard words, not spoken out loud but clearly placed in my thoughts, placed there not by me: “It’s not a punishment, it’s a calling.”  I was dumbfounded. Again, tears came to me and I was aware of the powerful, loving presence of what I call God. I went to my knees and spoke “Yes, I accept the invitation.” What else could I say? I R.S.V.P.’d “Yes.”

Miracles happen all the time if I look. The Moon was full last night. My dog licked me on my face when I woke up. The roses in my backyard still smell of spring and it’s almost November. Today I fail in my program. I judge. I resent. But I do know what it feels like to be in the presence of my God. Just about every time I get stuck in these Steps we choose to follow, I have to go back to Step Two because I see that I have made my God too small or ventured out too far on my own. The answer is that I have to let God get bigger. Everyday. Because I accept the invitation. I have come to believe.

Reprinted from the Fall 2010 issue of The S-Anews©.

Most Important Sign of Love?

 January 10, 2022

Not having sex with my husband? It was a revolutionary idea! Our marriage was, so I thought, based on sex. What was going to happen if we did not have sex? Part of the sexual addiction in our home showed itself in our relationship. I was used to having sex on a daily basis, if not more often. My feelings of being loved were largely based on the fact that my husband very frequently wanted to have sex with me. In order to avoid arguments, I had long ago given up trying to say “no” when I did not want sex, and I had felt that I could count on a fairly smooth relationship by giving in. Then my husband began attending recovery meetings for his sexaholism. And I started attending S-Anon meetings.

After we had attended our respective groups for several months, he asked if we could go through a period when we did not have sex. Being angry and resentful, I replied that I had had enough sex for a lifetime and that abstinence was fine with me.

But was it really “fine?” What happened to me during that period of not having sex was incredible. I became very fearful that my marriage would not last, that my husband would leave, that I was not attractive to him, and that we would disagree even more. I began to realize that I used sex in an unhealthy way, too! For example, I would start an argument and see how long it would take me to manipulate my husband into bed, thereby dissolving our argument. I flaunted myself in front of him to satisfy my need to know that, indeed, he did “love” me because we would then go to bed. The tool I had used so successfully to manipulate my husband had been taken from me. but I learned that I could live in the same house, share the same bed, touch, hug and kiss my husband without having to have intercourse. I learned that I needed to communicate using words, rather than manipulation. I learned that even without sex I could still have a marriage and an even better relationship with my husband.

When my husband wanted to end the period of abstinence, I had grown enough to say “no,” and we had a period of 21 months in our marriage when we did not have intercourse. Would we ever have sex again? It was very frightening for me to realize that the decision of when I was again ready to be sexual would be mine to make. I ended the period of abstinence with the knowledge that I was loved for myself, not just for my body, and that I had become a woman who could love and participate more fully in a sexual union. Abstinence was a crucial part of my growth in S-Anon, even though I was not the one to initiate it. I am very grateful that I did have the opportunity to learn that sex can be an extension of an intimate relationship and not the only basis for our marriage. Today I feel cared for in our marriage, and I can give as well as receive.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, pages 69-71.


No Longer God’s Supervisor

 December 27, 2021

I had been struggling with Step Three, so my sponsor suggested that I read Step Three stories in our Conference-Approved Literature (CAL). Over and over I read how turning our will over to the care of a Higher Power can be such a benefit. I was especially interested in how difficult this could be, since I tend to “bombard” my problems with willpower, trying to fix the messes in which I have often found myself.

“Bombarding” described what I was doing in all aspects of my life. I would attack people, places, and situations that did not agree with my agenda. Based on the belief system that was modeled for me while growing up, I was under the illusion that this was the responsible way to live. I constantly felt uncomfortable with how my life was going, however, and I became “full of myself,” denying that God could handle the situation.

Working the S-Anon program shines a spotlight on who I am, and how I operate in this world. I am learning that it is necessary to crack open the mold in which I thought I had to live, and then to restructure my beliefs. Humility, honesty, and acknowledging the truth – these are the things that have helped me to stop “bombarding” situations with my self-will and to deflate being “full of myself.” As a result of working Step Three, my Higher Power is now in charge. I still do the footwork, but I am only God’s assistant now, not God’s supervisor.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 270.

Realizing My Own Unmanageability

 December 13, 2021

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.


 November 22, 2021

I was going through hell before I came to S-Anon.
My life was all anxiety and tears,
Never happy with myself or anyone else.
When I came, I found a place that had a purpose —
A place that I could feel safe.
Safe enough to talk about my life.
A place that I could offer my opinion.
Even if no one liked it,
I was still accepted.
Imagine that.
I was still accepted.
And being in S-Anon
Makes it much easier to accept myself also,
So, Dear Friends of S-Anon,
Thank you,
For starting the program.
Thank you,
For staying in the program
And helping us reach Our Higher Power
Thank you for using principles…
Above personalities.
And, Thank you,
For being there for me
When I needed it.
Reprinted from the Fall 2010 issue of The S-Anews©.

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