I Like What I See


 November 14, 2023

Before coming to S-Anon, I couldn’t understand how I ended up in a relationship where lies, deception, and betrayal were common. I could barely look at myself in the mirror without feeling shame and humiliation. I felt resentful toward my husband for putting my health and life at risk, and for spending a large portion of our earnings on prostitution and pornography; yet I put up with it.

Why did I put up with it? Was I clinging to a fantasy of what the relationship could be through denying reality? Was I fearful of the unknown or of being alone? Was I afraid of change?

Coming to S-Anon and hearing the stories of others helped me acknowledge reality – I was powerless over how I was living and my life was truly unmanageable. Through sharing with others and listening, I found strength and faith in a Higher Power. I came to understand that I could not change the sexaholic, but I could learn to see reality, detach, and make healthy changes for myself.

It wasn’t easy. There were many times I thought my life would not get better. The Gifts of the S-Anon Program are slowly coming true in my life. I can look at myself in the mirror today… and I like what I see.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 115.

Balance in Unity and Freedom


 October 23, 2023

I have spent a great deal of time either being too focused on unity or acting with too much independence. My S-Anon problem manifested itself in both ways. In unbalanced unity, I abandoned myself for the benefit of another or for a group. In unbalanced independence, I isolated and became so self-reliant that I ignored the needs of others. I have learned from Tradition Four that I can be true to myself without cutting myself off from others.

I often chose to become entirely autonomous. I frequently thought that others were either with me or against me. I took someone else’s decision personally, especially if it was the opposite of what I wanted. Then I was either angry and upset or terrified and lonely. None of those feelings was a healthy basis on which to make a decision or take action. This is where I can turn to Tradition Four for guidance.

How many times have my actions or inactions negatively affected others? Far more often than I would like. How many times have I invited my Higher Power to guide my actions? Not often enough. Since coming to S-Anon, I am able to get spiritual guidance by going to God first and asking for help with my decisions and actions.

Tradition Four, like the other Traditions, is a powerful tool. It teaches me about the delicate balance between unity and freedom. I experience peace of mind and release from the bondage of self when I act on my own behalf without harming others.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Traditions, pages 50-51.

Forgiveness


 October 8, 2023

“My husband/wife says they’re sorry, but how can I ever forgive them after what they did to me?” “I’ll never forgive my parents!” “Why should I forgive him? He still doesn’t admit he did anything wrong!” Other members of S-Anon have expressed these sentiments, and many of us have felt them ourselves. Why should we forgive? Does forgiving mean forgetting?

I met a woman whose husband had left her for another woman seven years previously. He was now remarried, and she had not seen him in years. But when she spoke about her pain and anger, it was as though the betrayal had occurred yesterday. She seemed to be stuck in a time warp. Because she had not let go of the past and forgiven her husband, she had been unable to move past her negative emotions and to get on with her life. Her ex-husband was still the focus of her inner life. She had continued to give him free rent in her head all these years.

It is easier to forgive another person when that person wants forgiveness. But even if they are dead, or remarried, or still acting out, we still need to forgive them. The reason is that we forgive them in order to have serenity in our own life. Forgiveness is being able to remember the past without experiencing the pain all over again. When we have forgiven someone, we can think about that person and what they did to us without losing our serenity. Without forgiveness, there is no peace of mind.

Forgiveness does not imply a willingness to continue tolerating the problem behavior. We may need to tell a partner, “I forgive you for what you did in the past, but I am unwilling to continue tolerating the same behavior in the future.” We may need to distance ourselves from the other person before we can forgive them. We may have forgiven our parents for childhood abuse but recognize that at our current stage of recovery it is best if we not visit them. We can pray that our Higher Power will make it possible someday to restore the relationship,

Forgiving is not excusing. Just because we may understand why someone else hurt us (“My father himself was abused as a child,” “My husband was under a lot of stress,” “My wife was lonely – I wasn’t home enough”) does not make the pain any less real, When we say, “There is nothing to forgive” we are denying the validity of our own experience. Before we can forgive, we must first acknowledge that a wrong was done to us, and we must allow ourselves to experience the pain it caused us and the anger that we still feel towards the person who caused itÍ. Only afterwards do we attempt to understand the other person’s motives.

The Twelve Promises tell us that “we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it, we will comprehend the word Serenity, and we will know Peace.” When we forgive, we open the door to the fulfillment of these promises.

Reprinted from the 199o Fall issue of S-Anews©.

Reconciliation and Healing


 September 26, 2023

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.

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.

 

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