By Gina Sunukjian
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine be done.
I need this prayer. It’s a simple prayer I come back to over and over again because it grounds me. I discovered this prayer anew when I entered S-Anon a few years ago. S-Anon is a support group for anyone affected by another person’s sexual behavior. It’s a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength, and hope so they may solve their common problems and help each other recover from the effects upon them of another person’s sexaholism.
I don’t assume most people have the word sexaholism in their vocabulary. I am grateful for this word because it brought
meaning to a host of things I was experiencing in my marriage. Sexaholism (also referred to as problematic sexual behavior or sex addiction) is very similar to alcoholism. But instead of being powerless over alcohol, sexaholics are powerless over lust. Sex addiction is a process addiction which means it’s an addiction to a behavior instead of a substance. It’s used like a drug and acts like a drug in the heart, brain, and soul (check out Fight the New Drug to learn more).
Problematic sexual behaviors can range from viewing pornography, to seeking hook ups, to frequenting strip clubs, soliciting prostitutes, and the list goes on. Like any addiction, without intervention, the compulsive obligation to act out will progress and evolve over time and often lead to co-occurring disorders. In 12 step language, an addict becomes powerless over the addiction and life becomes unmanageable. Loss is certain for addicts. The hope is that an addict hits rock bottom, enters recovery, and works a program of healing before he or she has lost everything.
Addiction is brutal. No addict chooses to be an addict. Yet, it is the addict that has to choose to recover. As one expert in the field described, addiction is 100% nature, 100% nurture, and 100% choice. The problematic symptoms are the tip of the iceberg. A massive boulder lies below the surface. Recovery is the process of excavating the boulder in order to heal the wounds that lie below. Unless the boulder is eliminated, problematic symptoms will continue to surface. Recovery requires hard work, dedication, rigorous honesty, vulnerability, education, support communities, and specialized professional help… for everyone in the family, not just the addict.
My story is a story of loss. I unknowingly married an addict. We didn’t get the specialized help we needed when we needed it. He did not choose recovery. Life eventually became unmanageable. The scales tipped and the damn broke. The most difficult part for me was acceptance of what I could not change. Our marriage ended last year…. exactly 1 month shy of our 17 year wedding anniversary. A big part of my healing journey is processing through excruciating grief, pain, loss, and regret… and helping my children through it as well. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change.
My story is also a story of hope, healing, and renewal. God met me in this dark night of the soul. He has proven Himself to me. He IS alive. He is faithful. He is my Provider. His promises are sure. He DOES redeem.
I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten… Joel 2:25.
Next month, I will bring Part 2… the courage to carry on and change the things I CAN.
Keeping it R.E.A.L.,
Blogging at knoteverafter.com