Before I had a name for it, I felt the presence of sexaholism creeping into our homes: less laughter, more criticism, lies, excuses, hostility, no eye contact and, perhaps most painful, the emotional distance in our sexual relations. I felt like I was being used rather than loved. My powerlessness over sexaholism led me to the point of despair, and it was clear I had to take some sort of action to get relief. I decided to read some Conference-Approved Literature one night because I had heard it suggested at an S-Anon meeting as a method of coping with those difficult highs and lows we experience, and I was at my lowest. I picked up Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”) and began to read it for hope and comfort. I came upon the directions for taking Step Three on page 63. Feeling like I had hit bottom and couldn’t do it on my own anymore, I made a decision to let God into my life – without conditions. I prayed the Third Step prayer with a sincere attitude as it suggested. I was comforted to see that the section on the Third Step concluded with these words: “This was only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once.”
Two days later I went to my S-Anon meeting. About half way through the meeting I suddenly felt a sense of peace and wholeness comes over me. As I looked around the room at others, I felt my Higher Power was allowing me to see them and myself through God’s eyes with God’s love. I had the sense of being given a divine glimpse of myself. I saw how I had come into the meeting that night with fear, self-righteousness and superiority; how I had silently compared myself to others, judging them by their clothing, hairstyle and self-confidence. With new eyes, I now saw how this perpetual judging had created unmanageability in my life. While others were unaware of how they didn’t meet my expectations, I was consumed with ensuring that the “flaws” I criticized in others would not be found in me. As I became fully aware of how my judging had primarily hurt me, it felt like that defect was lifted from me. I sat in the meeting with a changed perception of myself and others.
While the intense sense of peace and wholeness of my first, very spiritual Third Step experience has faded, the personality changes have been lasting. I am able to regain some of that peace and wholeness by working Steps Three and Eleven – turning over my life to God and seeking contact with my Higher Power daily. Today I’m aware that I did not recognize the significance of the Third Step experience while it was happening. It was a long time afterward that I fully realized the gift of grace I had been given. It may come to others more quickly or slowly, but I believe that spiritual gifts will always materialize if I work the Steps.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, pages 30-31.