Tag Archive | 12 steps

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

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That Day I Told My Kids I Had an Affair

My husband didn’t ask me to tell our children about my affair. I felt no underlying pressure from him to do so. When he disclosed his sex addiction to our son and daughter, my adultery was not a part of the story. It wasn’t his sin to share.

My husband protected me. He declined to taint the image our children held of me, their mother. He was willing to solely carry the weight of infidelity in the eyes of our children. Be the bad guy while I wore the halo. Even though we both knew my halo was tarnished and dangling and piercing his heart.

But I couldn’t let him do that. That summer, five months after my husband disclosed his sexual sin and addiction to our son, it was my turn. Our son was home for a visit. I sat in the same room with him. Where I could see his face and his body language as the hurtful and confusing words he never expected to hear stumbled from my mouth. I know it was a difficult evening for my son as he processed my confession instead of freely cavorting in the river with his friends. But I will never know the true extent and effect it had on him.

I wrote the following words in an email that night to the leader of my support group:

“I did it. I told my son about my affair tonight. It went as well as could be expected. He asked a lot of deep questions, so I am mentally exhausted now. I am not sure how I am feeling yet. All I know is that I am sitting here with a big bowl of Oreo ice cream even though I am not the least bit hungry. But I did it, and I don’t regret it at all. Phew.”

My daughter was still attending university overseas. I waited. And once she returned, I waited some more.

That winter, as I continued to work diligently through my 12 step program for partners of sex addicts, assembling a personal inventory of my good, bad, and ugly, God’s whisper to my heart grew stronger and louder that I needed to add the names of my children to the list of those to whom I needed to make amends.

I stared at the page with their names on it. The harsh reality of how I had failed them as a mother. The times I allowed my own fears and insecurities to take precedence over their well being. The times I enabled their father’s neglect of us, his family. The times my inaction wounded them. My mind and heart wrestled with what exactly I needed to make amends for. My affair and contribution to the breakdown of our marriage was only a part of it.

My counsellor suggested that as an element of my amends, I ask both my son and daughter if there was any specific situation, behaviour or words that had caused them pain that I needed to acknowledge and apologize for. I liked that idea even though it scared me.

We also discussed whether or not I should confess my affair to my daughter. My counsellor thought yes. I was still unsure. Until God provided me with a beautiful green light affirmation to proceed.

The following weekend, I went to the city for a mother and daughter day. We ate lunch at a new restaurant, wandered through a museum and had a great day together. But ….. I didn’t try to make amends with my daughter at all. I dropped her off at her house, hugged her good bye, waved, and burst into tears sitting in my car. I couldn’t drive away. My heart and feet were heavy as I approached her house and knocked on the door. I managed to do the amends I needed to with my daughter, but also shared more of my story and testimony with her, including the affair. It was an hour of conversation that overflowed with love, forgiveness and acceptance and the evidence that God truly had been preparing both of our hearts for this very moment. My daughter told me that she was proud of me for doing my recovery and admired me still.

And yet, I had very nearly and willfully ignored that still, small voice gently nudging me forward on my path of healing. I regret that God had to increase His volume and prodding to get my attention and trust. I am also grateful that God cared enough to give me a solid push, and then extend His hand to steer me into the center of His plan for us that day.

I called my son that same weekend and completed the amends with him that I had started so many months before. He also said that he was proud of me for my healing. Our conversation ended with him asking if he could pray with me.

I have discovered that it is okay for my children to see my brokenness. And it is more than okay to admit to them that I am messy and struggle and don’t always make the right choices. I hope that my son and daughter learn about resilience, courage, forgiveness, grace and the value of vulnerability through the mistakes of my past and the authenticity of my present. But mostly I pray that my healing journey to wholeness brings my children hope and assurance that God will always provide them a way through their own times of darkness.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28