Journey to Healing and Joy

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Accepting that your new reality is a part of your marriage and story is a required first step if you hope to heal. But it’s also one of the most gut-wrenching things you will ever have to do. A marriage compromised by sex addiction is simply not what you signed up for! But if you want to heal emotionally and stay healthy physically, there is no way around it. For your healing’s sake, keep reading.

Just what do I mean by accepting your situation?  Let’s begin with what I am not saying. I am not saying that you must approve of your husband’s addictive behaviors. Nor am I asking you to turn a blind eye, or to put up with your situation for another day—much less indefinitely. Acceptance is not approval.

Acceptance is acknowledging that what you’ve learned is true and it’s real. It’s a very real part of your new reality. Acceptance requires that you acknowledge and admit the facts as you now know them. It requires that you stay present in the midst of your situation. For some of us, this is a tall order; we would rather dissociate than stay present with this painful wrinkle in our story.  
 
Acceptance is about feeling the grief, the pain, the loss, and yes, the anger, that comes with this journey. It requires that we:

  • Accept the truth about our husband’s behavior and his brokenness, even though it has brought trauma in our lives
  • Accept that it’s his job to make changes in his life; and that we can’t do that work for him.  
  • Accept that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and get the help we need, even if he isn’t working to change.  

Acceptance and healing are hard work. 

Early in my own journey of acceptance, I found the recovery expression, “It is what it is” to be incredibly helpful. I had to repeat it often to maintain acceptance in my life. Back then it helped me accept that my husband was very broken, and he needed to find his own way. I couldn’t do it for him. And it helped me remember I had to focus on me, my healing, my journey, my life moving forward, whether or not my marriage healed. Sadly, my marriage did not survive, because ultimately, he chose his addiction over his healing. But clinging to acceptance as I moved through that loss—repeating “It is what it is”—kept me on task as I lived out the new loss that came with divorce. 

Like everyone else, initially I found the idea of acceptance difficult to grasp. I knew I needed to reach and embrace it, but it took time to get there.  So if you are struggling with acceptance, know that it’s hard for all of us. But if you keep showing up and doing the work, you will get there in time. 

When you finally open the door to acceptance and walk through it, you open the door to adaptation, and with adaptation comes healing and new growth. That healing and new growth brings rich rewards you would have missed, were it not for this journey.

If you are struggling in this area, come and join us on this journey. We can help you get there. Begin by filling out our assessment form for a 1-hour free call with a coach who has walked this journey herself.

Your sister on this crazy journey,

Coach Katherine, CPLC
Certified Professional Life Coach

https://www.journeytohealingandjoy.com

Simplicity, Grace & A New Way of Life

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I know that at this moment many of you feel overwhelmed because of what you’ve discovered about your marriage. And I am so sorry! There is so much pain in this journey as partners of sex addicts. The grief you feel may still be raw. The lies and deceptions many of you face in your marriage cut to the core of your being. The betrayal is beyond anything you’ve previously experienced. I remember that in my own journey even breathing was hard some days. My heart hurts for you as I remember those days, months and even years of deep, deep pain. It is overwhelming.

And life just doesn’t slow down, does it? Life continues to demand that you show up and meet your commitments: that may include children, a husband, work, financial responsibilities, meal preparation, appointments to attend, and counselors to see. Have you asked yourself, “What about me and my needs? Where do I fit into my day?” It can all be too much to handle. I get that. In the complex mix of emotions and demands, remembering to keep “it” as simple as possible can help.

Keep it simple!  

In the dark days of my own heartache, I learned that to keep it simple I was forced to accept that I could only do one thing at a time, and acceptance required a “no guilt allowed” policy.  Learning the “no guilt” part required work because like most women, I felt guilty too much of the time, even before discovery.

Can I be honest with you? I just didn’t have the energy or the will to do much early in my journey. My brain and my body didn’t work well during those black days. I had to learn to keep it simple, or I wouldn’t have survived the bomb that had gone off in my marriage.  My moto back then was Keep it simple and things get done, one thing at a time. I suggest you write my moto down and put it somewhere as a reminder that this is your life right now. And no guilt allowed! 

Give yourself grace

The truth is, we don’t have to do everything on our to-do list. Most of us don’t have very clean houses or cook delicious meals in the midst of this trauma. Keeping up with the laundry may be as far as we get, and that’s okay. Giving ourselves permission to let go of everything that’s non-essential can help us find time to grieve our losses and begin a healing process.

You will also need to give yourself grace if your healing takes an extended length of time. Most of us are willing to give the process three months to six months. But depending on your story, it’s possible it can take two or three years! And that’s okay. It takes what it takes.

Slow everything down

Let's talk briefly about what goes on in our brain when we experience trauma. Understanding what trauma does to our brains helps us understand why we feel and act the way we do. 

The prefrontal cortex, which is the front part of our brain, is also the rational part. This is where our consciousness lives, and it’s where processing and reasoning occur. When you experienced trauma, you went into a fight, flight, or freeze state. That caused your prefrontal cortex to shut down. Your brain experienced overwhelm because of your circumstances, and your brain/body automatically went into a survival mode. It’s this shutting down that causes everything to be so difficult right now. You are in survival mode.  

Adjusting our lives and slowing down our self-expectations enables us to adapt to our present reality. And to make space for healing, however long it takes. So slow down; breathe; ask for help when you need it; and keep things simple by focusing on one task at a time. Making these behaviors your new norm helps you stay grounded and avoid overwhelm. And they will enable you to slowly move toward healing.

Embrace the reality that recovery is a lifestyle

Our trauma is calling us onto a healing journey. A journey that will lead us to a heart that will be healed and whole.  We must embrace and surrender to the process of recovery.

First, we need to acknowledge that our lives are a mess and admit that we can't heal on our own. We need to honestly admit that we need help to heal. It’s not just our husband’s recovery; we need to recover as well. Though our journeys are different, we, too, need a healing process.

It takes courage to admit we are powerless over our pain and to find and ask for help. To let go of our pride, control and accept our limitations. It has been said that recovery is a team sport; it’s not a game you can play on your own. If you are ready, we invite you to fill out the assessment form on our website (Click Here) and receive a free one-hour call with a coach on our team. We would love to have the honor of hearing your story and explaining what you can do to begin to heal.

Your sister on this crazy journey,

Coach Katherine, CPLC

Certified Professional Life Coach

https://www.journeytohealingandjoy.com

   

 

Men Aren't Just Hairy Women

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Okay, I’m dying to know what went through your mind when you read that title. My brain didn’t quite know what to do with it when a client said it and attributed it to a Tony Robin's video during a recent support group session. Now I can’t get it out of my head! Nor can I stop thinking about another thing a group member said that day. At the end of this article, I would love to hear what you think about what she said. Here’s how it all started.

We were doing chapter seven in the group workbook. That’s a chapter women usually choose to skip because it’s about men’s brains and sex addiction, and most women are sick of reading about the guys’ side of things once they really get anchored in their own healing process. But this particular group wanted to process it, so we did. And that’s how we got on the topic of men and hairy women.

Among other things, chapter seven highlights some key differences between the way men and women think. Most of us don’t like these differences, but in most cases, they come with the territory, so we don’t get to vote. Let's talk about one of those differences because gaining understanding helps us understand how a truly good man can end up acting out sexually. The reality is that men’s brains are like waffles, whereas a woman’s brain is more like a plate of spaghetti. To many of you, that’s nothing new, but let’s tweeze it apart and talk about it for a few minutes.  
               
Men tend to compartmentalize the areas of their lives

What does that mean, really? It means men don’t think like we do. For a woman, virtually everything in her life is interconnected. Making a change in one area will in some way effect other areas. If she goes back to work, managing the kid’s schedules will get a lot harder. If she has an affair, she will hurt her husband and possibly lose her marriage. It’s a no-brainer, right? Wrong; not if you are a guy, or so men tell me. Men often keep the compartments of their lives separate emotionally. Like the tiny squares on a waffle, each area has little dams around it, so if he’s busy in one square, it won’t damage another. A few years ago I asked my brother, Steve, about that.

Steve’s not a sex addict. If anything, he errs on the side of loyalty. But he is a guy, so he was the perfect one to help me get it as we cooked dinner together one evening.

“Sis,” he said, “men were created with brains that compartmentalize because they were also created to be protectors. What do you think would happen if a man had to go off to war to protect his family and country and he couldn’t compartmentalize as he walked away from his family? How could he shoot another human being if he couldn’t compartmentalize?”

Hmmm; I had to ponder that for a minute. And so did the women in my support group as we talked about this difference together.

“It’s hard to accept,” one woman said. “I didn’t know that. I can read it, but the waffle compartmentalizing thing evades me. I just don’t get it!”

“But my husband doesn’t understand the way my brain works either,” said another. He doesn’t get that everything is connected.”

I remember another woman’s painful processing after learning her husband had acted out again. When he tried to explain that it had nothing to do with her, she wailed, “How could he say that? I’m his wife. It has everything to do with me!” 

Recovery is a learning and growing process, for both sides

As we continued to process chapter seven in that recent session, a group member asked: “How do you hold that truth and still leave your mind and heart open to a relationship with your husband?” It was then that I shared another thing my brother, Steve, said that night we had the waffle conversation in his kitchen.

“That doesn’t mean men don’t need to work and grow in their understanding of their wife’s thinking patterns and learn to meet her needs,” he said. So according to Steve, men can learn and grow…they need to learn and grow in their understanding of their wife’s needs. 

Which leads me back to my group and chapter seven, because it was something one of the women said that day that still has me scratching my head. She posed this question: “If we expect them to understand how we think, isn’t it only fair that we learn to understand them?” In all honestly, no one has ever asked me that question before. And as she asked it, I became aware I had never asked it of myself. We (including me) want and expect our husbands to work to understand the way we think and work to meet our needs, but is it a two-way street? Could healing as a couple after betrayal come easier if both partners worked to understand the other’s brains and thinking patterns?

What do you think? Is that asking too much from a broken heart?

How Do I Choose?!!

 

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Back in 1990 when I realized I wasn't the only woman who caught my husband's eye, it was a desert for those of us who needed help. Very, very little had been written about betrayal trauma, and the label “sex addiction” hadn’t yet been coined in the therapeutic community. Help was almost nonexistent.

Fast forward to 2018. The good news is that by comparison, the betrayal trauma landscape is now flourishing with people who want to help. I’ve longed for this day as I’ve listened to thousands of heartbreaking stories since I stumbled into the sex addiction world 28 years ago. Millions of women—and yes, some men—desperately need that help as awareness of the addiction grows. That’s the good news.

But the bad news is that now it's much harder to answer the question, Which therapist, coach, Biblical counselor, group, or process is right for me? Generally, answering that question involves paying money to get help, and for most of us, money has to be spent wisely. That means making a good choice is critical. Twice yesterday I encountered this confusion in two different women’s lives. Woman #1 is currently shopping for the right group, while woman #2 is already in a support group and is very confused about where to go for couple’s help because she keeps getting conflicting advice.  In both cases, money is limited, and they must choose wisely.

Let's talk about Woman #1.

Woman #1 lives in a part of the United States where it is still difficult to find local resources. She’s tried, as have others, and they don't seem to be there. So now she is shopping for telephone resources as an alternate path to healing. And I loved her honesty about her approach. Near the end of our free, one-hour phone call she said, “I’m talking to four different resources as I shop for healing. You are the first one I’ve talked to. I have appointments with the other three, and if I want to work with you, I will let you know in a week!” Don’t you just love honesty when you encounter it? Oh, that sex addicts found it that easy to speak the truth.

So how can Woman #1 (or you) determine the best way to heal? These four principles will help:

  • Get a professional evaluation of your trauma and mental health
  • Find a program that includes a path and a process that results in at least initial healing
  • Choose a proven path
  • Understand that recovery is a lifelong process

Get a professional evaluation of your trauma symptoms and mental health

Whether we like it or not, betrayal trauma, especially long-term betrayal trauma, does a number on our physical and emotional health. So being assessed for trauma and PTSD, along with depression and anxiety if you’re having a difficult time, is important. Only therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists are trained to evaluate mental health. Biblical counselors, coaches and lay facilitators don't have that degree of training.

And only a psychiatrist can write prescription, if his diagnosis warrants it. And very, very few psychiatrists actually provide counseling. They are medical doctors and in general they focus on dispensing medication to help their patients cope. And usually, once the med is working and you are stable, they will only need to see you once every three months until you are ready to wean off the med. They can assess you and help you get stable with medication, but you are likely going to need to find additional help to do the much-needed work of healing. It is important to be evaluated if you are struggling emotionally, especially if you have children still in the home.

Find a program that Includes a path and a process that results in at least initial healing

When I first began helping other women who had experienced betrayal trauma, I learned the hard way that women don’t heal from betrayal trauma and PTSD simply by talking about it. Yes, sharing our stories and what happens in our lives each week is an important part of healing, but we need more. We need actual stepping stones that will take us where we need to go. A path that, if we show up, do the work between sessions, and share openly in group each week, will carry us forward in our healing. I compare it to the moving conveyor belts in airports. You can step onto one and even if you don’t walk, you will end up in a different spot than where we started. And if you do walk on the belt, your progress doubles in speed. It's that "forward motion by participation" that you need to look for as you choose your path to healing. It will include a workbook you can examine and assess for yourself. As you do, look for a path and a process you can follow that will produce the healing you so desperately need.

Choose a Proven Path

If you can find others who have begun to heal, ask them what enabled them to work through their pain and begin to move on, either with their partner, or without him. Online communities and private Facebook groups for partners of sex addicts are proliferating, and they provide a good place to ask questions. So if you can find one, ask there. You are looking for a path that has worked for others; a path that has been proven to work.

Understand the various kinds of groups

Also, be aware of the various kinds of groups and how they differ. There are:

  • 12 step groups for partners of sex addicts, which are free. In general, all but ISA (Infidelity Survivors Anonymous) will view you as codependent and as a part of the problem. These groups are a great way to make connections and gain support. And they are a great way to refocus on yourself, rather than the addict, and to do as much personal work when you are ready to do it. However, they are no match for PTSD, depression, anxiety, or mental health issues. And for most of us, they aren't enough for betrayal trauma. But they are wonderful as a way to continue to grow and connect, once initial healing is accomplished.
  • There are therapist-led groups, which vary in price from moderate to expensive, but they provide a form of group counseling, because the therapist is drawing on her training. These can be pricey and generally there aren't a lot of such groups available. But I'm guessing in the years ahead, more and more therapists will choose to provide resources for betrayal trauma and the numbers will increase.
  • There are church-based support groups, which are usually free and may or may not have a workbook to work through. These groups vary from group to group. I've had clients who love their Celebrate Recovery (CR) church-based group, and others who reported that the group wasn’t sufficient for this particular kind of pain. However, after you've accomplished initial healing, CR can meet a need, if there is one available to you.
  • There are coach and therapist led support groups, which usually have a price tag. If you are considering working with a coach or therapist who facilitates groups for partners of sex addicts, I suggest you make an appointment and ask specific questions so you can assess the coach or therapist and group content before you pay the group fee.

Be aware healing (and growing) is an ongoing process for us too

When we wake up and realize we’ve stumbled into some form of emotional betrayal in our most intimate relationship, many of us think, This is his issue, not mine. I don’t need to do anything!  But we soon learn that approach won't heal our broken heart and shattered dreams. And it won't heal our marriages. Even after doing the work to gain our initial healing, most of us learn that being married to someone who is "working a recovery program" is a whole new way of life. He's gone more to his own 12 step meetings, and if we are lucky, we can see and hear him changing before our eyes. So to grow and keep up with our partners, most of us find we need to keep growing too. That’s why we offer entry-level healing through our Journey to Healing & Joy Support groups, and additional level-2 groups for specific needs. Healing and growing is a lifetime journey that helps us become all we can be, with or without a man.

 

Tags: Sexual Addiction betrayal trauma,

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Perhaps your kids are older & in their teen or adult years. Perhaps they are younger but you find yourself still anxious about their future, what path they will take, & if you’re really getting this parenting thing right. Maybe you’ve done everything listed in the previous newsletters to educate, protect, be a safe place, & prepare your kids for independence…& then some. Or maybe you thought you did good at one point only to look back & wonder where you fell short or what you did wrong. Perhaps you’re that guilt-ridden parent that is plagued by the “what-ifs” & “could’ve, should’ve, would’ves”. Or maybe you’re even a young parent like myself who can tend to think, “Oh, not MY child…I’m raising them RIGHT.” (ßTo which an older, wiser parent of grown children might say with a quiet knowing, “…Just you wait.”). Maybe you’re caring for & concerned with your grandchildren. No matter what camp you find you land in, one thing we each must do is recognize the world our children (& grandchildren) are inheriting.

Read more: Kids Safety Series (Week 6 of 6): Recognize the World They Are Inheriting