What Is Sobriety in S-Anon?

 June 26, 2023

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©.

Restored to Sanity

 June 12, 2023

Step 2 says “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

We may not have been addicted to sex or substances, but many of us were addicted to people and situations in our lives, and our addiction was just as serious as the sexaholic’s addiction to lust. Some of us wondered whether the term “insane” really applied to us, but hadn’t we at times acted irrationally within our relationships? Hadn’t we often done the same thing over and over again, expecting different results? Step Two suggested that spiritual growth could keep us from repeating unhealthy patterns of behavior. Some of us did not have a problem reaching out to a Higher Power of our understanding. Those of us who did have trouble with the idea of a Higher Power, put our faith in our S-Anon group, listening for the truth spoken through the people and the principles. Once we admitted that we had been unable to solve our problems alone, we became able to ask a Power greater than ourselves for the help we needed.

Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 23.

Discovering Our Own Value

 May 22, 2023

For some of us, having a sense of personal autonomy can be a challenge. Before recovery, we might have been so focused on what others thought of us that we only identified ourselves as part of a couple, part of a group, or part of a family and did not recognize our worth as individuals. Because of the effects upon us of another person’s sex addiction, some of us have given little thought to our own value. As we grow in our understanding of program principles, we come to see that we do matter and have value — this is essential to our recovery. When we can recognize our autonomy, we can better appreciate the importance of good self-care. As we surrender our people-pleasing behavior to our Higher Power, we begin to recognize our inherent worth and growing ability to act on our own behalf.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Traditions, page 56.

Seeing God’s Handiwork

 May 8, 2023

For the longest time, I struggled with seeing how God was working in my life and my marriage. I not only felt God owed me something (a godly husband, a healthy marriage, and children), I thought the life I was “entitled to” was being withheld from me. I continually asked God why my husband’s problems were determining the outcome of my life – it just didn’t seem fair.

I now find that I am able to see God’s handy work more clearly. As my knowledge of the principles of the S-Anon program grows, I am able to learn more from those whose experiences are similar to mine. Instead of thinking God is withholding something from me as a punishment, I am learning to accept that life has difficult challenges, and that my life is not exempt. When I feel I am missing out on something, I stop to consider God’s timing and purposes or me. What I have or don’t have may be for my protection, education, or development – or for that of others. I’m learning I can trust God’s care for me.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 37.

Single In S-Anon

 April 24, 2023

Some married S-Anons new to our program express surprise at seeing so many single S-Anon members regularly attending meetings. “Why do you need to go if you’re no longer married to the sexaholic?” they ask. The reason that we go is to get recovery for ourselves, regardless of our marital status.

I began going to S-Anon at my husband’s suggestion, even though I did not perceive that I had a problem. It was only when as part of my first step I made an inventory of all my significant past relationships that I realized that indeed I did have a problem. What I recognize was that every important relationship, beginning with my first romance at age nineteen, was with an emotionally unavailable person. The details differed, but the bottom line was that I had made consistently poor choices in my relationships. I had to face the fact that I was attracted to people with whom I could not have a healthy, intimate relationship. Time after time I had rejected the stable, loving man because he was “boring,” while I pursued the exciting, unavailable, unpredictable guy. And I realized, to my dismay, that if my current marriage were to end, I would undoubtedly once again seek an unhealthy relationship. That was when I knew I needed to work on myself. “Our relationships can only be as healthy as we are,” we learn in the program. Some single S-Anon members have also recognized a long-term pattern of making poor choices. If those of us who are single hope at some point to have a healthy relationship, we need to become healthy ourselves first.

In the S-Anon program I also became aware how my tremendous fear of abandonment has led me to accept unacceptable behaviors in others. I could not establish boundaries as long as being alone felt like a fate worse than death. Now that my self-esteem has improved to where I know I would be comfortable alone, I have real choices in my life. I am in my current relationship by choice, not out of dependency. Single S-Anon members who are working on this issue have shared their unhappiness over being alone and their desperation to get into a new relationship. They describe how easily their boundaries erode and how quickly they return to people -pleasing behaviors in an attempt to hold onto a new relationship. S-Anon members who have separated from spouses who are still acting out have shared their difficulty in staying away from the spouse and their temptation to give her/him another chance although the spouse is not in recovery. In S-Anon we learn that we are worthwhile people who do not need a relationship to make us feel whole.

Our basic emotional health does not depend on our marital status. S-Anon helps us build our self-esteem, love ourselves, and make healthier choices in our lives. Too many of us have let significant others be our Higher Power. In S-Anon we learn to rely on a real Higher Power so that we can be happy whether single or in a relationship.

Reprinted from the Summer 1990 issue of The S-Anews©.

Walking through Fear

 April 10, 2023

What generally stands between me and willingness is fear. I’m usually willing to do things that feel comfortable to me, but when I’m afraid, my willingness diminishes. For example, when I was first asked to lead a meeting, I fearfully said “no.” But the person asking encouraged me by saying that we were all equals and that we all supported the group. Her words helped me become willing. Now when fear comes up—whether it’s working with a sponsee or setting a boundary with the sexaholic, I ask my Higher Power to be with me and to increase my willingness to walk through my fear.


Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 52.

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