New Messages

 February 22, 2021

Unhealthy messages like: “Men are no good, so you had better make sure you get a good education” plagued my self-esteem and fueled my fears about men and relationships. I became afraid of intimacy, fearing I would be abandoned. I believed I had to use my body to manipulate men, and use them before they used me. My mother also told me: “Don’t ever depend on a man for anything.” As I entered adulthood, I continually found myself in unhealthy relationships that reinforced those old “tapes” from my mother.

S-Anon has given me new “tapes” from healthy people. I have made tremendous progress in replacing the old negative messages with new messages about the real me the person I was born to be. Now I believe I have the courage and wisdom to make good choices for myself. I am learning to embrace my real self like a cherished friend, and I am able to be in relationships and share my truth with others.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 35.

Accepting My Unmanageability

 February 8, 2021

I remember one rough period when I just couldn’t seem to do anything to make my husband happy. I didn’t know at the time that an affair he was having was breaking up. I just knew that he was angry with me. Underneath I felt that something was wrong, but I just tried to cope by accepting him with his quirks.

As time went on, though, I became more and more suspicious that he was seeing another woman. My own “acting out” really started to pick up then. I went through his wallet, his car, and checked up on things. I discovered the name of the person with whom he was involved. When I found out that my husband had taken our three-year-old son to her home, I even questioned my child and found out where she lived. I went to her house expecting my husband to be there and, indeed, caught him trimming her lawn. My denial was so strong that I believed him when he told me she was just a good friend, but I got suspicious again when I was in the hospital giving birth to our second child. His parents remarked that he was coming home rather late, and then I remembered that the woman he had the affair with lived across the street from the hospital. When I got out of the hospital, I alleviated the devastating pain by checking up again. I hired detectives to give me hard evidence that he could not deny. My obsession was so great that the detectives said, “Don’t snoop anymore. You’re going to ruin things for us!” But I couldn’t stop.

I continued to focus so much on his sexaholic behavior that I couldn’t pay as much attention to my children as I should have. For example, one time my son wanted to go to the pool, but I was expecting the detectives to call. I told my son we had to wait. To pass time he innocently began singing a song, but in my obsession, his singing drove me crazy. I just lost it, grabbed him and screamed at him to stop.

My unmanageability was growing, so I confronted my husband and served him with divorce papers. I couldn’t tolerate the relationship any more. But he begged me to stay. I gave him a bottom line: “If we are going to stay together, we’re going to see a couples counselor, you’re going to cut up your credit cards, I am going to give you an allowance, you are going to call me before you leave work and I’m going to give you a reasonable amount of time to get home.”

My efforts to control the situation seemed to go O.K. at first, but after five months I started getting suspicious again. I called the detectives and found out my husband had saved up his allowance for weeks and had gone to a motel with the other woman at lunch time. I finally realized that I couldn’t control him. I despaired; I didn’t know what to do. It was then that my Higher Power entered our lives in the form of a person who helped us find the SA and S-Anon fellowships.

I came to S-Anon hoping to find answers. I wanted to know the statistics on his chances of acting out again and how soon it was going to be. Though I didn’t find statistics, I did find a supportive group who gave me unconditional love, acceptance and understanding. At a gut level they understood my situation like no one else could — not the therapist I was seeing, not my sisters, not my friends. I was in so much pain, and I was so angry. The group helped me to see that I cannot control a sexaholic’s behavior and that I am powerless over trying to control him. Today, with the help of this fellowship and the Twelve Steps, I am happy. I am grateful to have this program and to be in this relationship with a recovering sexaholic. I also am excited and hopeful for the futures of my children, perhaps the ultimate recipients of what I’m doing today.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 7-9.

Learning to Hear My Higher Power’s Voice Through Others

 January 25, 2021

With the help of many S-Anon mentors, I’ve learned to look for the activators of my defects of character. There are many. Fear and hurt are often the foundation of my defects. When I applied this process to Tradition Two I found I am particularly challenged to act spiritually when I feel someone has hurt/betrayed me or when I don’t feel heard. Low self-worth can make me feel second class and invisible. It became clear that when I’m feeling wounded I can default to a defect of character or two (or three or four…)!

What helps me is to have faith. I don’t need to have faith in me, anyone else, or in a system — just in Higher Power. This is essential for me in times of low self-esteem or in low esteem for others. Tradition Two, like most Traditions, takes me back to Step Two. Step Two states: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves, could restore us to sanity.” Tradition Two asks me to practice faith in a Higher Power and to trust that if I let go, Higher Power still has me and/or the group. Even if I can’t see God in the decision of the moment, my faith tells me I will see it in the long run.

God works on me in many ways. I have been learning to let go of the answers and/or validation I am seeking. God does answer me — always. Sometimes it’s “yes,” (what I hope for) sometimes it’s “no,” (what I fear or don’t want) and most frustrating to me, but clearly the most common outcome, sometimes the answer is “maybe” (there is more to learn). If I allow myself to surrender my will in Step Three practice, I am able to really let go and stop trying to convince, save, or rush another.

I am so grateful for the wisdom and guidance of a Higher Power that moves me to the right degree of self-care, and I am grateful for S-Anon — a program of recovery that has allowed me to learn to slow down and listen to the voice of Higher Power. Today I don’t have to stay in situations that are abusive, and I don’t have to become abusive in trying to force a situation. I can trust Higher Power. And that has been easier for me to practice than trusting others. In developing an eye and an ear for the Higher Power made manifest in others, I am growing in tolerance, compassion, and faith. I have become a student of everyone.

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

Giving the Program Time to Work

 January 11, 2021

When I first started coming to meetings, I just wanted to leave the marriage and all the problems behind. But I heard a lot of people talking about giving the program some time, so I decided that I would do just that: I would give it six months and see what happened. When six months passed I thought, “I’m not ready to leave, but I’m not sure I want to stay either.” By that time my spouse and I were attending a lot of recovery meetings and working our respective programs. I decided to give it another six months, and that’s the way I got through my first year. After a year I was able to start looking at it “one day at a time.” For me it was important to address my attitudes and behavior with the help of S-Anon while in the relationship and not to simply run.

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


Hope for Today

 December 28, 2020

Working the S-Anon program has renewed my hope. I have found hope through a wonderful sponsor who works with me. Even though it seems that I am taking forever to finish my Fourth Step inventory, I feel grateful to have a sponsor. She has been very gentle and patient with me, telling me, “don’t push the river; it flows by itself.”

My hope also comes from attending our S-Anon International Conventions and our regional S-Anon marathons. At these gatherings, I learn more about working the S-Anon program from members from other parts of the country and the world. As they share their experience, I learn hopeful new ideas that help me become able to take better care of myself. I become aware of new insights into my behavior and my character defects.

The experience that gives me the most hope is the relationship I am developing with my Higher Power. Not only does my serenity depend on that relationship; through that relationship I truly have rediscovered myself in a way I could never have imagined. This rediscovery is illustrated by a photo I have of myself at about two years of age. That picture shows a joyous, smiling, golden-haired little girl who has hope and love in her face. I know that God is within that little girl, and that God is within me as an adult, too.

Reprinted from S-Anon’s Reflections of Hope, page 336.

Making a Spiritual Move

 December 14, 2020

In Step One we learn that we are powerless over sexaholism and that our lives have become unmanageable, but we are not left alone. A power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. What is this restoration to sanity we talk about?

Haven’t we acted irrationally at times trying to deal with our relationships? We tried checking up on the sexaholic all over town, using tranquilizers and liquor to calm our frazzled nerves, and obsessing over the sexaholic instead of tending to ourselves. We became hysterical. We cried, screamed, nagged, and threatened over and over again, all of which we thought was doing something about the problem.

Now we can really do something! We can trust God to do what we cannot do for ourselves. Trust is an ingredient of believing, and to believe is to actively pursue the thing hoped for.

Many of us believed at first that the only way to rise above our problems was to run away from them. We learned that a geographical move was not the answer. We have to make a spiritual move, or face the prospect of repeating our pattern of choosing unhealthy relationships. We need to face reality and learn how to accept it. We need to begin our own recovery, apart from the sexaholic’s. Physically or emotionally running away only prolongs the pain. We see that we do have a way out; we have options and choices we can make for our own lives. With every hardship we face, our Higher Power also provides an outlet. One of those ways out is to change our own attitudes with the help of our Higher Power and the S-Anon program.

Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 16.

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