Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is your partner acting out sexually, with porn or with others?  

Read this letter to the wife of a sex addict who is struggling with confronting her wayward spouse:

I can see that you are in a lot of pain.  I am concerned that you are placing yourself in danger by refusing to confront your husband about his unacceptable behavior and by consenting to have unprotected sex with him, despite knowing that there is a fair degree of certainty that he continues to act out by having unprotected sex with who-knows-whom.

It sounds like he is out-of-control in active addiction and that it is escalating.  This is not good.

I urge you to be more concerned for your own health and well-being than for your marriage.  I am going to shout this next bit, so as to get your attention:





I understand that you love and care for him.  But you cannot help him.  He must help himself.  By staying with him under the present circumstances, without imposing any consequences for his incredibly selfish, insane, and hurtful behavior, you are actually ENABLING him to continue.  He is in a bubble of addiction right now.

THERE IS NO "US" TO GET BACK ON TRACK right now.  The only hope you have is to either move out or kick him out and to be ready to cut ties completely UNLESS AND UNTIL HE STOPS ACTING OUT AND GETS INTO RECOVERY.  He has no motivation to change right now.  Your pain means nothing to his addict.

He is not respecting you, because you are not respecting yourself.  YOU ARE ALLOWING YOURSELF TO BE ABUSED, hoping that it will change him.  It won't.  It only hurts you.  It will keep going as long as you will tolerate it.  What is your biggest fear?  That you will lose your marriage?  WHAT MARRIAGE?!

He does not respect or honor your marriage.  Whatever you have is not even CLOSE to what you want or deserve.  Yet you are accepting it.  GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES.  You must take the first step.  You must love your husband enough to let him go, knowing that your action is what MIGHT motivate him to snap out of it and realize where he is and what he is about to lose.  IF and only IF he commits to REAL CHANGE can you risk staying married to him and perhaps have the loving marriage you want.  That is your only hope.

Deliver an ultimatum that you are ABSOLUTELY resolved to carry through, whatever that is.  No matter what HE does, YOU must be prepared to do what is best for YOU.  You may have to walk away from the marriage.  Paradoxically, it is only when you show this level of resolve that your marriage has a chance of surviving.  God  can and will heal your relationship but only if BOTH of you work TOGETHER to seek God's grace.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Finding Balance, a Key Recovery Skill

I just returned from a professional conference last week.  This was my first SASH (Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health) conference since becoming a member of that organization three years ago.  I have been to several similar conferences since "leaping into the void" to become a therapist specializing in sex addiction in 2009.  The great thing about attending conferences is also the most challenging thing about it for me: the people.  I really enjoyed re-connecting with friends and colleagues whom I know, and making so many wonderful new connections with some amazing people.  I am learning how good it feels to be connected to healthy others.  This is a recovery strength and resource that I encourage all of my clients to embrace and practice on a regular basis.  It feels good to connect authentically with other healthy people, and such connections feed my need for intimacy.

On the other hand, as an introvert, I know that I have a great need for internal connection to my well-spring, my source.  For me, this requires solitude and relaxed focus.  For as much as I enjoy the positive energy of intimate exchanges with others, I need to balance that with alone time for quietude and reflection - as well as to shift my mind into neutral through deep meditation.  This alone time is often difficult to carve out in the midst of all the activity.  Thus, one of the primary challenges of attending functions such as conferences and seminars is balancing this connection with others and the connection with self and with one's higher power.

In recovery, most of us struggle with balance.  The impaired brain of a person with the disease of addiction, even in recovery, tends towards extremes on either end of the spectrum.  Once I relax enough to enjoy being with others, I have a tendency to overdo it, and to challenge my perspective and balance by overstaying my welcome or by going past my healthy limits.  Or, when I return to my "nest" I tend to make up for the imbalance by isolating and avoiding contact in order to feed my inner connection.  In recovery, I am learning to be more mindful of when I am approaching my limit, and to use my self awareness and communication skills to honor the boundaries that I know are healthy for me.  That way, I can enjoy being myself, fully and completely, both in the presence of others and when alone.

If, like me, you find your ability to live in balance challenged by day-to-day circumstances, you are not alone.  There will be times you are more or less successful at finding that balance.  The key is to give yourself a break when you are less successful, and to give yourself appropriate credit when you are.  Mindful awareness - of your inner state, your limits, and your boundaries in the context of your environmental surroundings and relationships - is the key to balance.  Noticing how you are, where you are, and making the adjustments necessary to stay in balance is a fundamental recovery skill that improves with practice and determination.  Prayer and letting go of judgment about the outcome helps too!  Peace, in recovery.