Step by Step He Leads Me

Every day I choose to heal from the affects of living with a sex addict. Recovery from sexual betrayal trauma is not a singular occurrence, but an action I must make over and over and over again. Frequently throughout my day. Sometimes even several times an hour. Or minute by minute. Intentionally. Mindfully. There is no other way if I want to continue my journey to wholeness. If I want to maintain the healing and growth I have achieved. If I want to remain secure in my recovery. There was a time, not that long ago, if someone had asked me how my day was, I would have replied, “which hour?” Maybe even “which minute?” It could change so easily and quickly when I didn’t guard my heart and thoughts from wandering back into the shadows.

I am not an addict, a co-addict, or co-dependent, and yet I am very much aware that any deviance from my own recovery program can and will slide me back into my own unhealthy behaviours and negative thought patterns. And there I find myself opening my wounds, peeking into the darkness, and allowing the ghosts to breathe life into my insecurities, fears and anxieties. Stealing the hope, peace and joy I have worked so hard to attain.

I have diligently and purposefully worked through a 12 Step program, Beyond Love, adapted for partners of sex addicts. I have also completed a partners recovery guide of 100 Empowering Exercises. These resources stabilized my shaky feet and brought order to the messy, ugly chaos of my soul and marriage.

As I began my healing journey three years ago, I read an article criticizing 12 Step programs for partners of sex addicts. It confused me, created doubt, and made me uncomfortable and questioning of the route I had chosen to follow. A few weeks ago, I read a similar derogatory article. This time it made me sad. And a little angry at the damage and harm it was spreading.

I have observed within my own recovery support group, that not many women will opt to gain their strength and hope through a commitment to thoughtfully and thoroughly completing steps and exercises. It has also been my experience that recovery programs work for those who do the work. I am not suggesting that working a 12 Step program is the only way to heal. But I am stating from personal experience that it was vital in guiding me to dig deeply into my life to address and regain all that had been stolen from me. And thus, I find it nonsensical that someone can condemn a program that works if you work it. I guess because it also doesn’t work when you don’t. There isn’t any easy, effortless way to achieve and maintain healing and recovery. It is hard work. And time consuming. But it is entirely possible if we utilize the valuable resources and tools available to us.

I regularly prioritized my recovery homework. I set aside time weekly to delve into my workbooks and participate in a support group. Daily I read recovery material related to personal and spiritual growth, connected with my support system, and prayed. This meant considerable shuffling of my schedule as my personal recovery took precedence over my other commitments. I resigned from my volunteer committees. Even from serving in ministry at my church where I was the financial bookkeeper. That one was tough, because it was my contribution to my church family. But I knew I needed a season of rest and healing without outside distractions. I needed time to be alone, and time to be with God.

I looked forward to opening my workbook and filling its pages with my hurts and hopes.  For me, it wasn’t an unpleasant, burdensome task, but rather an anchor that grounded me. My body would relax, my spirit would calm, and my cloudy thoughts clear. It was then that I took control of my recovery, brought order to the chaos, and felt like I was bravely doing something to counteract the brutal and devastating affects of sexual betrayal trauma. I was no longer having something done to me. Nor was I waiting and expecting my husband’s recovery to heal me. I ceased passively allowing my circumstances to reign, but rather actively strengthened myself with every new thing I learned about the good, bad and ugly of my life. And I applied it. Then and now.

God’s use of a 12 Step program was highly beneficial and effective in transforming me from victim to survivor to warrior. From a lost, scared, broken little girl to an empowered, thriving, beautiful, life loving woman. It’s hard to argue with the value of that.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2

21 thoughts on “Step by Step He Leads Me

  1. I think it’s amazing that you found help. I would be interested in understanding the program, but I don’t endeavour on it because I’m trying to save someone else or because I think I have done something wrong, and those are the two things which I think people associate with recovery programs. If the person you’re with- or- were with at the time- is the one whom had the addiction, why should you do steps? How much self reflection is needed when he was just trolling for strange. If it’s about healing, awesome. If it’s about recognizing ‘your part’… that’s hogwash. I think that’s where most people struggle. If it’s also about helping you cope and understand your worth and value and untangle you from the ptsd and emotional abuse you would have experienced in this relationship, also good. But that’s not usually what I see from groups and programs. It’s about how you support the addict, it’s about feeling better And also not enabling but also learning to deal with an addict. And accepting that their behaviour is an addiction, not just they are a shitty person. And all of those things. Alll those things. They make these … people feel like they are victims but also patrons and the responsibility just keeps going.

    I’m very very happy they help you. I think it’s important for potential participants to read the pro and con articles because they need to make sure the program is for them and works to help them. It can’t be about the betrayer in any way. But that’s my opinion.

    Like

    • Your comment addresses so many things I could have, and should have written in my post, but I was wary of it getting too long so I appreciate the additional insights. In my opinion also, many programs and groups are not healthy for the partner’s healing, but some are, and it was my hope that others would consider it as a possible recovery tool before dismissing it as just a passing thought.

      My group completely focuses on the partner and our healing. Making us stronger for us, empowering us, regardless of what our addict partner is doing or not doing in their recovery. We don’t even talk about our husband’s acting out behaviours, or husband bash at all, even if it may seem warranted. I don’t know if the husband of the woman sitting beside me has had multiple affairs, acts out with prostitutes, has a pornography addiction, etc. Those disclosures belong in a counsellor’s office. All we know is that we share the joint, deep pain of sexual betrayal. And the responsibility to heal from it. Not the responsibility to own our part in the addiction (that is indeed hogwash, we are not responsible one little bit, which is one of the things we learn) or the pressure to support and understand our addict. I find my group and program so healing because it frees me from any responsibility to my husband’s actions and recovery. At one of my first counselling sessions, I asked my therapist (who is a recovered sex addict himself) what I was supposed to do to help my husband. He said “Nothing. You do absolutely nothing.” It is my counsellor’s wife who leads my group, so she shares the same philosophy. Interestingly, my husband has not formally worked a 12 step program, and yet he is successfully recovering and healing. But for me, it kept me accountable and committed to moving forward with my own self care and finding my value and worth as a woman, with or without him. I think that is one of things I like about my program. For the first time in my marriage, it is all about me.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. You are so right. The programs only work if you do. What I have found in leading a 12 step program is that some people only want superficial healing, so they do not do as you and I have done…dig deep

    Though we sought help for different reasons we have found the freedom from our hurts. I didn’t do it because of my porn addiction. I went through the 12 step because of depression and self worth issues. I dug deep and made a lot of amends. And am a better person for it.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I once asked the leader of my group how she is able to refrain from shaking people to wake them up to the life changing opportunity being offered to them for healing and wholeness in all areas of their life. It frustrates and saddens me that instead, they seek that superficial healing you mentioned where they really just want to stop hurting and be happy. But there is real joy and beauty and so much more within their reach! I can get really judgmental sounding about this, but really I am just passionate about others finding the same healing and freedom I have because it is beyond anything I could have imagined or believed possible. I believe that anyone, and everyone, could benefit from working through the 12 steps regardless of the cause of their hurts. But unfortunately, I can’t do it for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • All we can do is give our experience, letting them know what it has done for us as individuals. Because I have gone through the steps I can see your passion where others may see judement. But if people would only realize how deep the healing can be if they get to the root of the problem. Many go through the steps to mow down the weeds only to have them resurface again because they dig to get the roots.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I wrote this post to share my very positive experience. The article I read bashing 12 step programs for partners of sex addicts was so disconcerting because the author did not write it as sharing her own negative experience, but as a declaration and blanket statement that they are not effective at all. And I am proof that isn’t true! Women in the early, confusing, overwhelming stage of disclosure and crisis need to be able to adequately educate themselves in order to make the best decisions for their own path of recovery. They may not choose a 12 step program, but my desire is that choice is based on a balanced consideration of both the positive and negative experiences of others.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The 12 step program I followed brought me sanity (YES! I love this word choice!!) and healing and so much more! I realize it isn’t the journey for everyone, but it is indeed worth considering as a very viable option (((Hugs))) back to you my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was in a 12 step program too, Alanon, when I was a kid because of my mom. It kind of helped, but not really because my mom couldn’t kick the addiction so I was always in limbo.

        Like

      • That would be really tough as a kid to be able to separate your own healing in a 12 Step program from your parent’s. It is hard enough as an adult to understand that the work is for own healing and growth and not dependent on what the addict is doing or not doing. Hopefully, you were able to gain some effective tools from the experience regardless of your mother’s behaviours.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I would like to say, yes, but no. I didn’t find out until I was married that my mom did crack, no coke. My mom tried to sell me right before her drug dealer shot her. So it didn’t bring much healing actually. I loved her and hated her because of the addiction, because she’d say meant things to me when she was drunk since I’m half white and half arab, etc.

        Like

    • It is very much possible. For everyone. Including you! But it doesn’t just happen. It takes work, whether by the recovery program I chose, or another. The true growth and healing process is an amazing experience and absolutely worth all the time and effort. Blessings to you as you seek wholeness.

      Like

  3. I’m so glad you decided to put in the work necessary to make the 12 step program work for you. It’s true, no program (nor life in general, really😉) is going to have the best outcome if you don’t put in the work necessary to get that best outcome. Putting a bandaid on the surface doesn’t help the problem and issues underneath to heal and get corrected so as to avoid a recurrence. Obviously, putting in the necessary work and making your healing a priority means you’re much better off in the long run, even though it was the tougher route to take. Healing and recovery is never easy—it takes time, it takes effort, it takes persistence, it takes true strength of character and fortitude. Good on you for putting forth the effort and sticking with it to make it real! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your affirming words of the path I have chosen to follow and the work I have done for my healing and recovery. It is real, and that still makes me giddy at how far I have come! I appreciate your wise words and insights regarding healing, and achieving the best outcomes in life generally. Abundant life is a gift available to all of us!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I appreciate how you talk about not husband bashing, I have heard that lots of SA Anon groups can get that way. I feel very disconnected from other wives or partners who take their partners actions personally, because I never have and can’t see myself doing that. I am not a partner who has suffered any type of trauma from disclosures as I have an educational background that helps me understand addictions and mental health and I do understand its because of his own trauma, not me.

    My main reason for needing support is to deal with the aftermath, the feelings of needing to “babysit” him and his computer/phone use etc. and the anxiety of relapse and so far counselling seems to be good for that. Although I do feel pretty alone in it all seeing my husband is not ready for us to seek support from close friends or our small group at church as he isn’t ready to be open about his struggles yet. My counsellor told me it is important not to push this, but I feel pretty isolated right now.

    Thank you for your honesty in your blog. I appreciate hearing other wives perspectives and about their faith and their own healing journeys.

    Like

    • The recovery group I have been involved with is not affiliated with SA Anon, so maybe that makes a difference with what our leader chooses to focus on. Although with any group, the direction of the facilitator will decide the culture.

      My main reason for needing support was also direction to navigate through the aftermath. I did feel overwhelmingly alone and isolated, so connecting with other partners was immensely beneficial to my healing.

      My husband has chosen to share his story and struggles with a few men outside of his recovery group, but not many. And it hasn’t been with anyone, other than our pastor and his wife, that would be able to support us as a couple. Because we live in a small town, my husband’s occupation, and the misunderstanding and stigma of sex addiction, we have been cautious about who we share our story with for his protection. That saddens me when we both individually and together have such amazing testimonies of healing and redemption. We have each separately trusted certain people as God has prepared both their hearts and our hearts, so I believe your husband’s heart will become open in God’s timing. It may not be only about his willingness right now, but God creating a safe place and/or preparing someone else’s heart to hear it. Unfortunately, close friends, family, and small church groups aren’t always as safe and accepting as we would hope and assume and often aren’t equipped for our disclosures. I think that becomes one of the major benefits of a healthy recovery group.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. Many blessings to you on your journey to healing and wholeness. You are not alone.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s