addiction, betrayal, Uncategorized

Narcissism & Sex Addiction: Twins of Pain

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Timothy 3:2-5

My ex-husband was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder shortly after I discovered his “first” affair over 9 years ago.  The more I read up on it, the more despondent I became.  I couldn’t see him taking this seriously at all.  It turns out he didn’t. Medication and therapy were short-lived.  He pushed them off as being unnecessary, too expensive, and he was in complete control of himself. Being a narcissist, alone, ensured that he will not believe he had a problem to begin with, or if he could be convinced that he did have a problem, eventually, he would believe he was aweome enough  to overcome it on its own.  Timageshat is exactly what happened.

The reason we divorced is because he would not, could not, admit he had a problem.  I had let it slide the first time, this time I could not.  He would have to admit to his problem or lose me. But like the fabled Narcissus, he would rather be in love with his image of himself than find true love in a real woman.

What is Narcissism?

Many experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.

This is where the alliance between narcissism and sex addiction become difficult to understand.  Each condition carries so many of the same symptoms and characteristics that it becomes difficult to know which disorder to treat first.  recent studies show that treating the sex addiction piece first greatly reduces the symptoms of NPD.

The Research On Narcissism And Sex Addiction

In a recent study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, a team of researchers set out to uncover whether there is a link between sex addiction and narcissism in both male and female sex addicts.

The research team was able to quantify the level of narcissism using three metrics:

  • The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)
  • Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI)
  • Index of Sexual Narcissism (ISN)

The study revealed that subjects who had watched internet pornography at any point in their lives showed higher instances of narcissistic personality traits. But, more importantly, both male and female subjects who watched internet pornography daily were more likely than every other group to have a narcissistic personality. Also, the more porn they watched, the more narcissistic they were likely to be. Read more here.

Narcissism and sex addiction are fellow travelers because they feed on each other. Both draw on the addict’s core beliefs about being unlovable, unworthy and alone. Narcissistic over-entitlement allows the addict to feel justified in his or her sexually addictive behavior and avoid the shame that would otherwise surround the behavior, and sex addiction leads the addict into a progressively more isolated and self-centered life in which his or her narcissism reigns supreme. Sex addicts do not meet their emotional needs in real relationships but rather in the fantasy laden encounters of their addiction. The acting out sex addict is the consummate narcissist who controls the whole show and thus stays safe.” ~ Linda Hatch PhD

Almost everyone on the planet has at least a little bit of self-love. That’s the element that gives people confidence and magnetism, and it’s the sort of personality attribute that can make a person seem attractive or even powerful. But humility is also an important part of the psyche of a healthy adult, as it allows people to respect others and balance the needs of the self against the needs of society as a whole. When that balance is upset and people love themselves more than their neighbors, narcissism could be at play, and that could lead to addiction.

It is not surprise that the narcissist and the sex addict share a lot of the same traits.

Treating The Narcissistic Sex Addict

Narcissistic sex addicts are perhaps the hardest to treat. They use grandiosity and a façade of self-confidence to present as though they are indestructible, but this could not be further from the truth. Narcissism is a defense mechanism of the psyche; it protects what is, in truth, a fragile ego and a very low sense of self-worth. Most narcissists grew up with inadequate caregiving—emotional or physical abuse, or inconsistent care or neglect—and carry these wounds with them into adulthood. Their strong need for validation likely comes from the a lack of a coherent bond with mother or father (or other guardians). A strong sense of entitlement may also exist in individuals who were consistently provided for materially, rather than emotionally. The resultant emotional deficits may manifest as sexual addiction, but as hard as narcissism is to treat, it is not impossible. Those clinicians who have the most success approach their clients with compassion, non-judgment and honesty, and those sex addicts who express narcissistic traits who have the greatest degree of success are those willing to acknowledge their problem and to ask for help. Read More Here.

As is true for every addict, recovery requires that they undertake a fearless inventory of how their behaviors have affected others. Only then does recovery begin and their relationships begin to thrive. It is not an exaggeration that many narcissistic sex addicts need to be admitted to a treatment facility to be able to get a handle on their issues enough to heal.

For those living with the recovering, narcissistic addict, it is important that you recognize the damage the relationship has caused you and establish the you that was lost in the process through your own recovery. It is important that both spouses seek help.  This is too big to overcome alone and if your husband will not seek help, you will especially need the additional support.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

My Story, Uncategorized

What I Would Tell My Ex-Husband this Christmas if I Could Talk to Him…

Here I am again, another Christmas, alone.  This is not how I envisioned it when I discovered my husband’s multiple infidelities over two years ago.  I thought by this Christmas that it would all be an ugly nightmare we could begin to put behind us.  It would have been if he had the ability to take counsel…from anyone, but himself. It didn’t have to be this way.  It shouldn’t have been this way.  If he had the capacity to listen, everything would have been different.  I have said these things to him so many times.  He doesn’t hear me.  We don’t speak the same language anymore.  If he were the man I married, he would hear, understand, and respond. But he isn’t the man I married. Instead, he justifies his actions to fit the narrative he has created about me in his mind.  So here is my letter to him.  One of many.  Expressing again, what I would have chosen for us, if it was my choice to make.  Sadly, there are some choices I will never get to make. This is one of them…

Dear Ex,

I can do little else besides think of you during Christmas.  So many Christmas’ shared, so many memories.  They are all around me, shattered pieces of our lives that I would gladly piece back together with you if you would just be willing to do the hard work needed to repair us, repair our family…repair our lives.  I know you could…if you only wanted to do it.  I guess knowing that you don’t want to is the worst part of my life now.  I have a hard time understanding why you would not, did not, choose me, choose your family, over what your life has become now.  It seems so clear that you chose wrong. You had it all.  You gave us away, without a backwards glance. Whatever you have now is only an illusion of happiness. You and I both know you will never be happy again, unless you choose to repent, repair, and restore your family.  It is what God sent you here to do. (But now appears you have turned your back on God too.)  Without us, your life has no meaning, no happiness, no joy.  Your life now is nothing but whole cloth.  You had the real thing.  You chose to throw it away. You cannot replace something fake with what was real.

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No matter how much I may love you, there is nothing I can do about that now. I wish I could.  I would if I could. Heaven knows I tried! You have your agency to use how you see fit. Where you are now, I cannot go. I don’t even want to go where you are now. I don’t belong there.  I am better than that.  YOU are better than that too! At least you were at one point.

I still love you.  I will always love you.  You are the choice of my heart and the love of my life!  Nothing will ever change that for me.  I guess you have a hard time understanding why I would divorce you then?  You would understand if you knew the depth of my love for you.  You are a part of me.  You are as important to me as my own body.  You are no less useful than my left hand is to me.  I cannot survive my left hand anymore than I can survive without you.  I am in love with you…still.  I always will be.  You don’t spend 37 years serving another person; caring for them, standing with them, supporting them, being there for them, making love to them, listening to them, building a family and a home with them, and just “fall out of love with them.”  No.  That doesn’t happen. Divorce has NOTHING to do with how much or little I love you.  It has to do with survival.  MY SURVIVAL! You would not stop cheating on me.  For 18 months you kept another woman “on the side” just in case it did work out with me.  I couldn’t handle that.  I still can’t.  To see how little you loved me stands up against the depth of feelings I had for you, was killing me…literally. You were found lacking. There is no comparison. If you understood how much what you were doing was hurting me, then you would understand why I had to let you go.

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30

Medically speaking, a part of my body had become as poisonous as gangrene.  If I didn’t cut you off, you would have killed me. If you have cancer, you MUST cut it out before it destroys the whole body!  You had become cancer to me.  Love has nothing to do with it.  It was about my survival.  The fact that you cannot understand this, stands as a testimony of how little you care for me or my well-being. No one in their right mind would expect someone with cancer to  just “live with it.” That is just cruel. It is inhumane.

In this case, “my cancer” is you.  You are the cancer that refused to respond to  any treatment. You wouldn’t allow me to seek treatment to heal you.  You wouldn’t respond to the advice of professionals. You refused to get healthy. So you had to go. I had to remove you or die. I took no joy or happiness in being forced to cut the toxic poison from my life that you had become to me.  It is not what I would have chosen for you, for me, for us, if it were my choice to make.

I would have chosen life. Healing.  Supportive recovery. Forgiveness. Repentance. Restoration.  I would have chosen you, if you just would have chosen me first. You will never know that, because you never gave me the opportunity to show you what I am made of.

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This is on you.  The records of heaven will prove that to you someday.  Someday,  you will see clearly, what you have done.  But not now.  So I am left with no other choice,  I have to go on with life as best as I can, having had to cut a part of me off. Trying my best to recover, even though you keep lashing out at me every chance you get. Your concern is not for my welfare, healing, or well-being.  Your concern is to hurt me for doing what was best for me.  I can only draw one conclusion from your actions; you would rather I not live at all. One day you will see the depravity of this behavior.  But in spite of all of it, I have deep compassion for you. I know you are lonely.  Hurting.  Angry. You don’t understand. I know you carry a lot of guilt and shame. I forgive you for those things you did to me, and continue to do to me.  You cannot hurt me any deeper than you already have.  So I can finally forgive you.  For all of it. I have turned you over to God and He will deal with you.

But my forgiveness doesn’t mean you can be in my life now.  Far from it. Forgiveness is my part.  Repentance is your part.  To be allowed in my life again, even if it is nothing more than friends, requires you to change your behavior.  It requires you to restore trust, safety and connection.  It requires you to learn how to treat your family with decency and respect.  These are the bare minimum requirements. When you do the things you need to do in order to heal and get healthy, your guilt and shame will go away.  You will stop lashing out. The atonement cannot swallow up your guilt and shame until you choose to become a new creature in Christ.  When you do that, had you done it already, you could have your family back. It really IS just that simple! That is what Christmas is all about, a baby who has the power to restore broken things. But you have to decide you want it. Not just say you want it…you have to really want it.  More than you want anything else in your life.

babyjesus

In the meantime, all I can do is to wait from a safe distance.  Pray for you to finally “get it.”  I still wish with all my heart you had chosen me.  But you didnt. I still wish you would.  But I cannot count on that either.  So all I can do is to try to heal and mend my broken heart. I have told you many times if you ever died I would never remarry.  In a way, you have died.  You are not the man who I thought you were. The person I fell in love with no longer exists.  He is dead to me.  Who you are now, is someone I would never want. I have a hard time believing you want to be who you are now.  Why would you? But here we are.  This is the reality.  Our new normal. It’s all so sad.

I don’t know why I bother to keep repeating myself over and over and over.  I don’t know.  Maybe if I say it enough it will get through to you. Somehow.  It seems so clear to me.  It seems clear to everyone.  Except you. Truth is easy to understand. I know these words fall of deaf ears.  They have fallen on deaf ears for two years now.  I suspect they will fall on deaf ears for many more years to come unless you change.  The truth is, this is what I have said to you from the day I found out about your affairs.  I have said the same thing to you nearly every day since then.  I feel like a broken record. I will continue to say the same thing to the end of time, because this is the only path back to me.  Back to our family. Back to God. There is no other way, no other short cut.  Sadly, you can choose to sin in whatever way you want, but you cannot choose how to repent.  Repentance is set in stone. Those terms are set by God.  Bargaining with Him won’t change his mind.You have no choice but to submit to His will on this, no matter how stubborn you are or how right you think you are.  Repentance has a set pattern.  It requires your heart. Giving your heart cannot be faked. You do not know more than God and you cannot fool Him. You can’t trick Him into believing you have repented. You will know when you have really repented because your life will immediately improve! When you can finally submit your heart to Him, that is when you will know it is real. This is your ultimate test.  The mother of all tests.  I hope you don’t fail.

How long will it take for you to figure this out? Will anything get through to you?

Maybe by then, someday, none of us will have to spend another Christmas as a broken family.

addiction, betrayal, repentance, Uncategorized

Real Men Don’t Cheat! Or How to Become a Real Man Again if You Do..

Love is a choice not a feeling.  Think about it for just a minute.  When you love someone you choose to commit to them. You choose to serve them.  You choose to have their safety and best interests at heart.  You choose to walk life’s journey with them.  Romanitic love is a flash in the pan.  It is what get’s the process of love started.  After that, love is a thousand steps through life with that person you chose to go through life with.  Like President Monson said,

“Choose a companion carefully and prayerfully; and when you are married, be fiercely loyal one to another. Priceless advice comes from a small framed plaque I once saw in the home of an uncle and aunt. It read, ‘Choose your love; love your choice.’ There is great wisdom in those few words. Commitment in marriage is absolutely essential.”
-President Thomas S. Monson.

You choose to love someone. You choose to be faithful to them, or not.  When a man chooses a woman he is taking on a sacred responsibility to care for her, to protect her, to provide for her – to love her. For his entire life. Real men know how to make important choices and how to honor them.

cheating

I don’t buy the excuses.  “I just fell out of love.”  It is a lame excuse and is nothing more than a flimsy paper cup that cannot not hold water when these conmen have to tell it to the all-seeing gaze of the ultimate judge. God will not be mocked. Period.  The covenant of marriage is serious business, it deserves serious work and commitment. Real men do not make lame excuses.  Real men honor their covenants. Real men don’t cheat.

“I am satisfied that a happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion.”
-President Gordon B. Hinckley

When a man’s focus is  on the anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of his spouse he will simply not be of a mind to stray.  It is only when he takes his focus off of her and puts it on other things, is when he allows his mind to drift into forbidden paths.

“Being happily and successfully married is generally not so much a matter of marrying the right person as it is being the right person.”
-President Howard W. Hunter

When a man cheats it says so much more about his character, discipline, and focus than it does about his wife’s.  When he cheats it says he is not a man of commitment, responsibility or integrity. Real men, above all, have  character.  They don’t take their focus off their wives and children.  They are men of honor who work consistently to be the right person for their wife and children. A real man works hard to insure he is doing his part to lead his family in righteousness.

“Some think of happiness as a glamorous life of ease, luxury, and constant thrills; but true marriage is based on a happiness which is more than that, one which comes from giving, serving, sharing, sacrificing, and selflessness.”
-President Spencer W. Kimball

Real men understand that marriage isn’t easy.  But a real man is up for a challenge and isn’t a quitter.  He will find ways to improve his relationship when things seem a little bit off or start to go wrong.  He will not refuse to do what is necessary to fix a problem.  He will work selflessly to find a solution.  Real men work on their relationships. Real men go to marriage counseling with the intent to improve, when needed.

All in all, it takes a weak man to cheat.  A selfish man cheats.  A cowardly man cheats.  If the truth is really said out loud, any man has the potential and ability to be a coward under the wrong circumstances.  We are all subject to temptation and sin.  Anyone can fall.  This is the nature of life, especially if we are foolish enough to let our guard down.  So if a man cheats does that mean he is past the point of no return?

Emphatically, NO!

The epitome of a real man, a real man that deserves our highest praise and honor, is one who has made serious mistakes, but who can own up to it! He admits his weaknesses, confessed to them, willingly, he tells all of it.  For him, there is no confession that is too hard or humiliating, because he cares more about reparing the damage than he does about his own weaknesses. If a real man can confess his weaknesses then the Lord will take his weakness and make them become strong!  His infidelity will lead him to become absolutely faithful in all things, because he will have learned how!

“Love is a fragile thing, and some elements in life can try to break it. Much damage can be done if we are not in tender hands, caring hands. To give ourselves totally to another person, as we do in marriage, is the most trusting step we take in any human relationship. It is a real act of faith — faith all of us must be willing to exercise. If we do it right, we end up sharing everything — all our hopes, all our fears, all our dreams, all our weaknesses, and all our joys — with another person.”
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Then he works hard to rebuild his breech of trust.  A real man will go to his wife and humbly seek her forgiveness. He will do whatever it takes to repair the damage he has done.  He will  identify what caused him to cheat. Often finding the cause takes working through a 12-step program and/or counseling. Then he will develop a plan for himself to make the required changes. He will set up clear boundaries for himself so that it will not happen again.  He will share these new boudaries with his wife. Then he will check-in with her everyday to let her know he is committed to her and serious about repairing the damage. She will know how he is doing in his repentance because he will tell her! She won’t need to ask him.

“Converse with each other, thereby never letting little things become big things.”
-Elder Robert D. Hales

He will do everything he can to help her feel safe and work hard to rebuild her trust in him.  He will ask her often if there is something more he can do for her. Her comfort, well-being, and safety are his primary concerns.  If he violates his own boundaries, then he will go to her immedately and confess the breech.  Then he will rework his plan to shore up the weak areas.  She won’t have to worry about relapses because he is already on top of it! He will make himself accountable to her and to others who can help him.  He will seek advice from experts. He will read up on cheating and how to avoid it.  He will educte himself and share what he is learning with wife. He will not give her cause to worry any further, because he wants to be responsible to himself and to her.

“Our Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity.”
-President Henry B. Eyring

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He will lead her in daily prayer and scripture study. He will make sure they do it together.  He will show her in everything he does that he has chosen her and is committed to her. Every action will But more than that, he will show he has chosen God and that he is committed in leading himself and his family back to Him.  Everything he does will reflect his committment to God.  And that commitment to Him, will show more than anything else he does, that he has re-committed to her. This is what real men do.

“Once I married her,” Elder Andersen said, “the standards in my life went way up — being totally consistent in prayer and scripture study, keeping the commandments with precision. She has a pure and disciplined faith.”
-Elder Neil L. Andersen

This is what recovery from betrayal trauma really looks like. It takes work, real work, willingly done by a real man! Incidentally, this is also what real repentance looks like as well!

This what a real man will do if he makes a mistake and cheats.

This is what cheaters do when they want to be real men again. This is how you will know you have a real man worth standing by.

Anything less than this is cowardly.

If you have cheated on your wife, it’s time to man up!

“Both men and women need righteous desires that will lead them to eternal life. Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.”
-Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Phoenix Rising

As I mentioned in another post my ex-husband  burned our family down. He burned me down. He burned us down. There is literally nothing left of me or our family except ashes. Just when I think there is nothing more he can do to destroy our family any further, he finds another way. There isn’t any end to his nonsense.

no-contactSince I went “no contact” with him, he has turned his attentions to torturing our adult children. Our oldest daughter asked him to break up with his girlfriend so he could turn his attention and time to healing the damage he has done to them. It seemed to be a reasonable request to me because it is basically the same request I have been making of him for the past two years; to turn all of his attention and time to me to heal our relationship. This is what a normal person would do. They would gladly do everything they could to heal the breach, especially before “moving on” to ruin some else’s life. Someone who does this to their family needs serious counseling in how to develop healthy relationships. But apparently, he wants to move on now, keep his girlfriend and have his adult children be ok with it, not just be ok, but to give their blessing to his bad choices. (I don’t even want to discuss what kind of idiot woman wants a man who is this messed up?)

smore_card_covers8His insistence that our children be ok with his decisions was met with a strong boundary for him, “You need to spend your time healing the damage between us before you move on with any other relationship, or we cannot have a relationship with you. Period.” But rather than understand or respect the requested boundary his children gave him, he kept insisting that they do it his way.  It’s not unusual for him to want it his way.  Most of his responses in the past dozen years or so are very selfish. But this serves as an example of how Addicts do not respect boundaries. They do not respect what their loved ones need. Most of the time they don’t even have a clue how to figure out what their loved ones need! It’s all about them.  Wisdom and common sense would dictate that when someone destroys another persons wellbeing, they would want to do whatever was asked of them to repair the damage they have done. This is what healthy people do. And if they are not healthy they would, or should, want to GET HEALTHY! First. Before they do anything else.

I can only speak from my own experiences. It’s what I know. It’s why I write – to share my experiences to, hopefully, help others.  The purpose for sharing this situation is not to vilify my ex-husband, but the purpose is for a concrete, instructive situation that  both the addict and their family members can understand:

Unhealthy people with unhealthy relationships cannot form new healthy relationships without learning new patterns of behavior that allow the addict to repair and restore the damage they have done. First! There is no “moving on” until the addict chooses to act in healthy and responsible ways. These new patterns are learned in the 12 Steps Program. This should be a basic place for the addict to start to repair relationships.

Choices and accountability matter!

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In his present mindset, my ex-husband’s prospects for healing his relationship with his children seems as abysmal as his chances for his healing our relationship. He hasn’t made the choice to do the hard work of real repentance. He hasn’t chosen me. He hasn’t chosen his children. He hasn’t chosen God.  Until he makes the right choices he will continue to feel the adverse consequences of his choices.

And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. 2 Nephi 2:5

The consequences for his most resent choices are that his children now want nothing more to do with him until he can make better choices. His children want him to CHOOSE THEM!  Just like I wanted him to CHOOSE ME!! For now, he has chosen the girlfriend, not his children. I cannot fathom this choice! Just like I couldn’t fathom his choice to not choose me.  Somehow this seems worse to me though – they are his own flesh and blood! What kind of monster does this??? If I were in this same situation, of course I would choose my kids! Of course I would choose my family! I would have chosen our relationship in the first place. But that is me thinking with a non-addict brain.  Who the hell knows what he is thinking???

In order to come to this decision to have no contact with him, our adult children met with a counselor to get advice on how to handle this situation.  They discussed the disrespect their father has for them by refusing to honor their requests of him. They talked about when is it appropriate to cut off contact and for how long.   When does a relationship become so toxic it requires cutting off the relationship? (Google the ‘no contact rule’ it is a thing and it makes a lot of sense!)

What it boils down to is this: Hitting Rock Bottom

Addicts will not change until the pain of what they have lost because of the addiction becomes greater than the “high” they get from the next hit of chemical dependency. In bottomline terms; what does it take for the addict to hit rock bottom? Hitting rock bottom is different for everyone. Some can hit bottom just by being horrified at themselves for what they have done. For others, it will mean losing everything; job, marriage, children, family,community standing, religious excommunication, self-respect, and some go so far to lose even basic freedoms to live in society.

As it turns out, cutting off a relationship with an addict may be one of the best things you can do for them if they will not come to terms with their behavior on their own, because it requires them to face their own demons on their own. The enabling of the addict stops. He has no one to blame but himself. Hopefully, he will be forced to hit bottom faster. As the addict loses more and more of the things that matter most to him this serves as a wake up call. At some point the addict needs to wake up one day and say, “Gee, maybe I am the one with the problem!” Only when this happens will the reality of the addicts behavior begin to set in:

Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds. Jacob 2:35

What will it take for him to see the sheer magnitude of pain his choices has caused his family? Who knows. We can only withdrawal to a safe distance until he figures himself out. Nobody can do it for him. Helpless.  That is how we all feel. It is anyone’s guess how far he will have to fall to hit rock bottom.  After 3 years of hell, he still isn’t there.

The challenge we face now is to figure out how to rise from the ashes in spite of him. It is clear he doesn’t want to assist in the healing. So it is something we must do for ourselves. This much I know, we had a great family. He walked away from one of the best families a man could ever have. Our children are great! I was a great wife and mother!  If anyone can do this, we can. We can and we will succeed in our own healing. We will, like the Phoenix, rise from the ashes of our lives.

Upon completion of its life cycle, the famed firebird builds its funeral pyre. After setting itself alight, it burns until nothing but ash remains. From that ash and flame, the Phoenix Rises!

phoenix-rising-1

Note: What do you think ex-husband’s reaction was to his children telling him that he cannot have contact with them for now?

It was blame.

It’s ALWAYS about the blame! He blamed me. (And I am not even around him anymore!) Never mind that our children are all grown adults who can think and act for themselves. But still…It was all my fault. I brainwashed them all against him. I love how he phrases it too; “I see you have decided to follow in ‘Your Mother’s’ footsteps and….” Doesn’t he know how offensive this is to his grown children?  He is outright discounting that they have a single brain between them and that one brain that they all share is controlled completely by me!  How offensive can he be???

What he should have said is, “Gee, I guess you are really serious about how you feel.  I didn’t understand that it meant so much to you that I break off this relationship with Girlfriend. I thought you were kidding, it appears that you are not.  So after rethinking things I have decided you are more important to me and I will break up with her, no contact at all for the next 6 months and spend that time just on you guys to try to rebuild our relationship.  I won’t even talk to you about her.  In six months we can revisit this subject and see where we are at that time.  Does that sound ok to you?”

This is just way too healthy a response for him though!

This is just another witness in a long line of examples that denial is alive and well and has found a home in him, a host parasite that sucks all the brains and common sense right out of him!  He couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it.

His denial disgusts me. I don’t want to feel this way, but there it is.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet! (Or try to, anyway.)

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Trauma Response Rescues

Do you know what a “Trigger” is?

A “Trigger” is any event that brings up old feelings of panic and danger even if there is no danger around.  It is a PTSD response very similar to what war veterans experience.  One minute you are fine and the next you are not.  the emotional response happens immediately and without warning when a Trigger presents it’s self. Triggers can be places, people, times of year, events, holidays, weather, smells, sounds, music, memories; anything can be a Trigger. And because of this it is nearly impossible to avoid your Triggers! Triggers bring up past trauma unexpectedly and with such force that often it can feel like you are actually reliving a traumatic experience. This really sucks!

The part about my Triggers that angers me off the most is my ex-husband doesn’t give a flying flip that he has done this to me or his family.  He doesnt care in the least.  If he did care at all then he would be working to alleviate the triggers and the pain that comes with it.  Instead, he is off chasing his new girlfriend because he “deserves some happiness.”  I know I am not alone in this.  My kids suffer, and my grandkids suffer.  We all suffer the devastation while all he cares about is his own happiness.  So here we are having to deal with these difficult emotional responses without any assistance (even financial assistance) from the perpetrator. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I have a triggered response everytime I drive by the hotel where my daughter caught my husband in a hotel room with another woman.  When I drive by this hotel I burst into tears and re-live the whole ugly experience again and again.  Because of a series of business meeting I have had this week I have had to drive by this particular hotel 6 times this week. It has been brutal!  I could have gone out of my way to avoid it, gone another way, but I am determined not to let these experiences run me or my life.  So I chose to just power through it this week. But how do you do that?  How do you face something so painful head on?

dissociation-triggersI have learned that when triggers come it is because your pre-frontal cortex (thinking brain) has been hijacked by your limbic brain (emotional brain).  To beat back the trigger you must access the  pre-frontal cortex and put it back and charge.  As you learn to do this you can quickly disarm the lymbic brain, redirect the thought patterns, and put the pre-frontal cortex back in charge.  This works for any kind of panic or anxiety response.  The idea “control your thoughts, control your destiny” is really very true.  Gaining power over Triggers is getting back the power over your mind.  Triggers won’t go away, but you can lessen their effects, and with practice, stop them as they are happening.

 

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My ex-husband is a dementor. He sucks all the happiness out of his family members and leaves them for dead.

I was reminded of what triggers are like while watching Harry Potter with my daughter last week.  Triggers are like Boggarts, they are not real, they look real and they feel real, but they are just your worst fears manifest. The students of Hogwarts were able to fight them with a spell… “expecto patronum!”  The Boggart was vanquished and thrown back into the box by most of the students.  Except some Boggarts are scarier than others.  Demetors are the scariest. I have come to think of Triggers as Dementors, they suck all the happiness right out of you! For a while Harry had to have help fighting against the Dementors.  At first, he couldn’t do it alone.  It took practice!  But when he eventually needed to rely on himself to do it, he was able to becuase he practiced. Beating back Triggers, especially the scariest ones, is a lot like that, it will take practice and patience with yourself.

So here are a few tips and tricks for putting your thinking brain back in charge:

Breathe – deep, mindful breathing. Breathe in, hold it for the count of four. Breathe out slowly whild counting to four.

Affirmations – Repeat your affirmations over and over until the trigger subsides. Make sure you have a list of daily affirmations that support areas where you are struggling.

Count and tap – cross your arms over your chest and touch your hands to your shoulders.  Begin counting.  As you count tap every other shoulder.  Do this for a count of six and then start over.  Continue until the fear and panic subside.  It will usually take about 15 to 20 sets of these.  It also really helps if you deep breathe with tap.  Breathe in , 1, Breathe out, 2, and so on.

Count your blessings – it is surprising how simple this is and how well it works.

Prayer – Prayer is a powerful antidote to Triggers.  Use it to pour your heart out to your Heavenly Father  and ask for help in overcoming your Triggers. He will tell you what will work best for you!

Read an interesting book –Keep a book around for this purpose.  In times of triggers I often open up my scriptures.  Its the book that works the best for me!

Work on a project – keep a craft or other project handy you can work on.  Crocheting, knitting or cross-stitch are all great for anxiety because of the counting aspects to them.

Workout – working out does wonders for releasing endorphines that will lift your spirit and improve your mood and outlook.

Go for a Walk – Walking outdoors and breathing in fresh air does wonders for the mind and the soul!

Mindful Meditations – there are a number of Apps that will help you with this.  Search the app store for mindful meditations, self hypnosis and meditation.  You will find plenty of free and paid apps.  Some of them you can try before you buy.  I have used Surf City apps, Happify and Head Space with lots of success.

Call a friend – sometimes you just need to talk things out with a trusted friend.  Call her. It will help.

Call your sponsor – if you are in a 12-step program then you will have a sponsor you can call when you are having a tough time. She will be a great listening ear and resource.  Your sponsor often understands in ways a friend can’t because she has traveled the road you are now on.

You can see that these remedies for trigger responses are also self care.  As you make an effort to do your “dailies” of self care you will build up a muscle memory response to triggers.  Over time you will automatically start to respond to the triggers in more helpful and healthy ways.  This is one of the reasons that self care is so important to do everyday!

What are some of the things you do to help overcome your triggers?

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Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

The Cupcake Warrior

Uncategorized

What True Repentance Looks Like

Last night I was studying my scriptures.  And as often happens to me, one reference leads me to another and I ended up on this General Conference Talk from October 2016: Repentance: A Joyful Choice by Dale G. Renlund.  I highly recommend it to you for a clear concise explaination of what true repentance looks like.  It is one of those moments when you know the Lord is guiding you to a place you needed to go and I definently needed to go to this talk. It was so validating.  I need that.

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Lately I have been struggling mightily over my Ex-husband’s failure to repent, at least he is not doing it in the way I have been taught to understand that repentance looks like. But everytime I mentioned to him over the past two years that he is not fully repenting, I am met with a constant barrage of accusations of being judgmental, critical, nonsupportive and mean.  These kinds of accusations can take a toll on a person after a while, especially when I am already so hurt, wounded, and shattered.  His failure to fully repent has left deep wounds in our family that keep getting torn open again and again.  He doesn’t understand that if he truly repented it would provide a healing balm over the entire family, especially me.

Instead we get resistance, subborness, and stonewalling. He ABSOLUTELY REFUSES to repent. It feels like he refuses to repent so he can prove he isn’t really an addict, that he just made a few “bad choices.” So he treats his repentance as such.  He expects to just say he is sorry and we will all forgive him and that will be that. This mindset, that what he has done is not that bad (minimizing) causes him to be astonished that I would have the nerve to divorce him, because why would anyone divorce a spouse that they love over a few “bad choices?” So he is able to rationalize in his mind that I am really the bad guy. He feels I bailed on him, not the other way around, which is really the case to any other rational human being.

Don’t get me wrong, he IS sorry.  But it the “sorrow of the damned,” not “sorrow unto repentance” or “godly sorrow.”  There is a huge difference. Just being sorry doesn’t cut it in the case of adultery and infidelity, not by anyone’s standards, and certainly not by the Lord’s standards.

 “The word repent connotes “to perceive afterwards” and implies “change.”4 In Swedish, the word is omvänd,which simply means “to turn around.”5 The Christian writer C. S. Lewis wrote about the need and the method for change. He noted that repentance involves “being put back on the right road. A wrong sum can be put right,” he said, “but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”6 Changing our behavior and returning to the “right road” are part of repentance, but only part. Real repentance also includes a turning of our heart and will to God and a renunciation of sin.7 As explained in Ezekiel, to repent is to “turn from … sin, … do that which is lawful and right; … restore the pledge, … [and] walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity.”8

Crossroad in lavender meadow

“Never by simply going on!” This is exactly what my Ex wants to do!  he just wants to go on  from here!  he refuses to go back to the beginning of he errors and working forward from that point.  This is the crux of the pain he has caused and is continuing to cause within his devastated family.  He had the audacity to tell my daughter last week, that he is moving on with a different woman, in yet another relationship, because ” HE DESERVES TO BE HAPPY!”  My daughter was agasted at his extreme selfishness.  Her response; “You took a baseball bat to our family and destroyed everyone, but you deserve to move on and be happy, while everyone else is left broken and bruised?”

Does this sound like real repentance to you? No. Me either.

He will tell anyone who will listen that he is repenting.  But he is not.  It is not possible to say you are repenting, and at the same time, continuing in sin. If he were truly repenting we would all be able to tell, we would all see it, we would all know it. He would change.  His behavior would change, his words would change, his countenance would change.  The righteous can clearly judge this mighty change of heart.  It is as clear as the daylight from the dark night. Elder Runland continues:

Yet even this is an incomplete description. It does not properly identify the power that makes repentance possible, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Real repentance must involve faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith that He can change us, faith that He can forgive us, and faith that He will help us avoid more mistakes. This kind of faith makes His Atonement effective in our lives. When we “perceive afterwards” and “turn around” with the Savior’s help, we can feel hope in His promises and the joy of forgiveness. Without the Redeemer, the inherent hope and joy evaporate, and repentance becomes simply miserable behavior modification. But by exercising faith in Him, we become converted to His ability and willingness to forgive sin.

All sorts of lightbulbs went on in my head!  My Ex is just in “Miserable Behavior Modification.” He is trying to do this on his own, without help from anyone, using his own wisdom, and he is failing miserably.  He has not made his repentance real because he isn’t following the steps for real repentance laid out by our Savior in the scriptures.  With, what my therapist Home Teacher calls, “cheap repentance,” he will NEVER have joy. He can seek for “happiness” all he wants, but he will never find joy! This is the lot of the damned. No joy.

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Elder Packer explains:

“The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed. … It just heals, and what it heals stays healed.”9

He continued:

“The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. …

“… The Atonement … can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated.”10

“The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us. As the prophet Lehi explained, after we “are instructed sufficiently” to “know good from evil,”11 we “are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death.”12 In other words, repentance is a choice.”

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We must choose to repent.  Stunning in its simplicty. Profound in its appliction! This was another place in the talk that struck me.  Hard.  A few months before I made the decision to divorce my husband I spent days in the temple, praying and seeking for guidance on what I should or needed to do next.  I had some very sacred experiences during this time, but one thing stands out above the others.  The Lord said to me, very clearly…”Your husband has not chosen you.” As I think back on this now I understand that the Lord was also telling me, “he has not chosen me either.”  My Ex did not, and has not chosen US; the Lord, his family and me.  He has not chosen any of us.  If he would choose all of us, everything for him would change practically overnight.  He would be a changed man, with “no more desire to do evil [to his family], but to do good [to his family] continually.” He doesn’t want to do the hard work of repentance, real repentance, so he believes it will be simpler to just walk away.  Not so.

Remarkably Elder Rutland list a few things that keep us from choosing to repent.  To my astonishment they were the same symptoms of denial! He says:

“We can—and sometimes do—make different choices. Such choices may not seem intrinsically wrong, but they prevent us from becoming truly penitent and thus preclude our pursuit of real repentance.”

  1. For instance, we may choose to blame others. But blaming others, even if justified, allows us to excuse our behavior. By so doing, we shift responsibility for our actions to others. When the responsibility is shifted, we diminish both the need and our ability to act. We turn ourselves into hapless victims rather than agents capable of independent action.13
  2. Another choice that impedes repentance is minimizing our mistakes... It would have been easy to say that there was no reason to repent. But minimizing our mistakes, even if no immediate consequences are apparent, removes the motivation to change. This thinking prevents us from seeing that our mistakes and sins have eternal consequences.
  3. Yet another way is to think that our sins do not matter because God loves us no matter what we do. It is tempting to believe what the deceitful Nehor taught the people of Zarahemla: “That all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, … and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.”14 But this seductive idea is false. God does love us. However, what we do matters to Him and to us. He has given clear directives about how we should behave. We call these commandments. His approbation and our eternal life depend on our behavior, including our willingness to humbly seek real repentance.15
  4. Additionally, we forgo real repentance when we choose to separate God from His commandments…We should be wary of discounting sinful behavior by undermining or dismissing God’s authorship of His commandments. Real repentance requires recognizing the Savior’s divinity and the truthfulness of His latter-day work.

My Ex-Husband has used all of these excuses, and others, to shirk his responsibilites to himself, to me and to his family to do the hard work of real repentance.  It is interesting that these excuses are also the behaviors of an addict in denial.

Instead of making excuses, let us choose repentance. Through repentance, we can come to ourselves, like the prodigal in the parable,16 and reflect on the eternal import of our actions. When we understand how our sins can affect our eternal happiness, we not only become truly penitent but we also strive to become better.”

When faced with temptation, we are more likely to ask ourselves, in the words of William Shakespeare:

What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?

A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.

Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week,

Or sells eternity to get a toy?17

My Ex-husband has a new “toy.” That will not bring him lasting joy.  True repentance will.  Healing the wounds of his family will.  Binding up our broken hearts will.  But he would rather play with his new toy instead of repairing a family he has spent a lifetime in building.  This makes no sense to me.

Elder Runland explains:

“If we have lost sight of eternity for the sake of a toy, we can choose to repent. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have another chance. Metaphorically, we can exchange the toy we so ill-advisedly purchased in the first place and receive again the hope of eternity. As the Savior explained, “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”18

My Ex-husband still continues to make bad choices, including refusing to do the hard work of real repentance.  It’s nice to know, I am not the only one who thinks so.

meme-monson-choice-1709359-wallpaper

addiction, betrayal, Uncategorized

He Said…She Said; The Denial Effect

The one thing keeping an addict from getting into recovery is DENIAL. Denial starts with the declaration, “I don’t have a problem!”  This is usually followed by, “You’re the problem!” Or some variation. And then the trauma begins. The more emphatic the denial by the addict, the deeper the trauma to the wife. I can only describe it as “crazymaking,” because that is what it is. The addict will go to great lengths to deny he is an addict and it will literally drive you to distraction if you don’t recognize it and learn how to deal with it. He will twist and tie every piece of “proof” you have of his addiction into knots, doing the most astounding mental and emotional gymnastics you have EVER been privileged to witness, until you will almost believe it yourself. Or you might just give in because the barrage of verbal warfare is relentless. Trying to argue or reason with an addict is futile. It’s a waste of time, energy and breathe. Which is one reason I kept a journal and kept records of all the proof I had of his encounters with other women. I have electronic and hard copies. So whenever I would start to fall prey to his “crazymaking” I could go back and look at the evidence and read my journal and remember what really happened. I’m not the crazy one. He is.

46466-quotes-about-people-in-denialIt took me a long time to come to this realization because my husband was one of the most reasonable and logical people I knew. It’s quite a role reversal when I am the more reasonable and logical person in the relationship. So it was extremely difficult to wrap my brain around this new warped person standing in front of me. Any encounters with him sent me running for cover in self-defense. I literally felt like I was under gun and mortar fire all.the.time.  I could hardly tolerate the constant lies and accusations. He almost had ME convinced that his addiction was MY FAULT and that he was the victim.

I am not the only one to experience this. Soon after I went “no contact” with him, he started doing the same thing with my kids. It’s one thing for him to drag me through the warped and sicko maze of the bizarre “fun house” of his mind, but it is quite another thing to watch him do it to my kids! They are adults so I couldn’t do anything about it except sit by and watch him do the same thing to them that he had done to me. This was and is just one more layer to the trauma he has put our family through.

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If you have ever been around an addict then you know exactly what I am talking about. If not, let me take you through a few of the denial tactics, along with some personal examples to show you what each tactic of denial looks like. If you are in a relationship with an addict then you will recognize most, if not all of them. Understanding the role of denial in sex addiction with help you know where you are in your relationship with the addict and what needs to happen next.

 

  • Lying – Addicts lie about everything, even stuff they don’t need to lie about.  They cannot seem to tell the truth…at all. They will say anything, do anything to protect their secret world from being discovered.  The problem is that the lying is pretty obvious because the damage done to the brain by the addiction makes it nearly impossible for them to keep track of all the lies. If your husband spends a great amount of time lying and covering his tracks he is in denial. Honesty is a hallmark of a healthy relationship.  If your husband is lying to you then something is wrong.
    • She said: My ex-husband was frequently “let go” or “changed” jobs unexpectedly.  When I would hear him interviewing on the phone, I would catch him telling potential employers numerous lies, small lies, but lies nevertheless. So I would ask him, “why did you lie about…?”
    • He said: “Well, everyone lies when they are being interviewed, it’s how the game is played.”
    • Other examples: Often they cannot account for where they have been.  Coming home late from work. Suddenly getting lots of calls  from “wrong numbers” and not being able to explain them away. Clicking out of apps or computer pages when you walk in the room and then lying about it.
  • Playing the Victim –  This is the one denial tactic that hurt me more than all the others, except for the gaslighting.  I had a terrible time understand how he could act like he was the one who was the victim?  I didn’t really want the victim role, I have never been fond of using it, but it was insulting that he acted like I was the one who hurt him!
    • He said: “I just don’t understand why you are not more supportive of me? You left me, I didn’t leave you! So you are the one who just doesn’t love me anymore.  If you loved me you would have stayed with me and worked with me.”
    • She said: Wow!  This was a tough pill to swallow when he would blast me with this one, which he did nearly every time we talked.  The worst part of this one is that I think he really believes himself when he says it! I moved out to get myself to a safe place because he refused to come clean from the very beginning and he continued to lie and cover up his affairs.  If at any point he would have stopped the affairs, gotten into recovery and provide me with safety, I would have moved back in with him and “worked with him,” but he was unable or unwilling to do these bare minimum steps.  So I couldn’t come back.  It wasn’t ever safe enough to do so, no matter how much I wanted to do it. The truth is that when he started having affairs with other women, he left me first.  This seems lost on him.
    • Other examples: “I just can’t help it.” “You won’t work with me.” “You just don’t love me anymore.” “I will never be able to repent from this because you will never forgive me.” If you were more supportive of me then I could overcome this.”
  • Entitlement – This is used by the addict when he feels he has the right to behave a certain way. He will somehow feel he is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Entitlement is often behind the addicts belief that he is SPECIAL, that he doesn’t have an addiction.  Those addicts who feel they are entitled believe they are the exception and not the rule.
    • He said: “After all I have done for you over the years you owe it to me to give me the benefit of the doubt.”
    • She said: He is not entitled to cash checks in the trust account after infidelity.  Trust is something that is earned, he is not entitled to it, and especially not after having online affairs, unchecked, for a year.
    • Other examples: “I am different, I am not a full-blown addict like the other guys in my group.” “I work hard to support my wife and kids, and I’m productive at my job. I think that I deserve a little reward. I mean it can’t be all work and no play, right? So if I go online for a little while here and there to look at porn, nobody should complain, because I deserve this little escape.”
  • Blame – Essentially, addicts see themselves at being at the mercy of the words or actions of other people. They are assigning their responsibility for a fault or a wrong doing to others, usually their wife and family members.  Often an addict will not accept responsibility for acting out even when he is caught. With the addict, it is usually someone else’s fault.  Sometimes the addict will take partial responsibility, but them blame his wife for the rest.  This is recognized when the addict says, “Yes, this is my fault, BUT…”  There should be no “BUT” when an addict takes real responsibility! The addicts blaming can be devastating to the betrayed wife!  It is appalling to have your husband blame you for their wrong choices.  This often leaves the wife wondering if there might be some truth to his twisted thinking.
    • He said: “If you would have stayed with me then I wouldn’t keep cheating on you.  You left me all alone so of course I kept cheating.  If you had been with me I wouldn’t have any reason to be with other women.”
    • She said: “So you do not have enough self-control to keep your core principles without me around to make sure you don’t cheat?” This is blaming at it’s finest!  With this sort of logic it is totally my fault he was unfaithful!  Not!  This is a core issue with addicts, they seem to lack agency or accountability.  This is another way you can tell if your husband is serious about recovery, HE WILL BE ACCOUNTABLE for his own actions!
    • Other examples: “My wife is such a nag.” “She constantly criticizes everything I do.” “She’s boring in bed. She never wants to try anything new, and she doesn’t care if I’m enjoying things or not.” The  other women I meet on Ashley Madison are totally different. They like me the way I am, and they’re willing to let me do what I want.”

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These next three are very similar and are often used by the addict together in the same sentence.

  • Justification –  is when an addict tries to show their actions are right or reasonable. Often you can recognize a justification by the use of the word JUST.  “I was just doing…”, “It was just a little….”, “You just don’t understand…”.
    • He said: “I only acted out sexually with other women a few times online.  After that we were just talking.  Don’t you understand?  I was just talking to them.”
    • She said: Even if he had not ever acted out online sexually and had only been talking to other women in chatroom, this is still cheating in most women’s eyes. Anytime your husband turns he attention to another women that is time he should have been investing in you!  That is cheating you out of your relationship with him! As far as the sexual piece goes, the number of times doesn’t matter to a wife.  One time is too many! There is no JUST when we are talking about cheating!
    • Other examples:“Everyone is doing it.” “We were separated so I just didn’t think it mattered.” “All you do is criticize me.” “I was just flirting, it’s no big deal.”
  • Minimization – This is trying to reduce the seriousness of the addicts behaviors to the smallest possible amount or degree.  To the wife, minimizing her feelings of betrayal signal that her husband is unsafe because he really doesn’t “get it” or understand what he has really done to her. Minimizing is a sure sign that the wife is not safe to trust her husband.
    • She said: Often I would have the feeling that my Ex was still cheating on me, even when he said he wasn’t.  I would confront him with the feeling and he would tell me he wasn’t (lying).  Later on, I would find out he was “chatting” with some woman online. When I confronted him with the evidence…
    • He said: “Yes, I was chatting with so and so online, but it wasn’t anything.  We were just talking. I didn’t tell you because I knew you wouldn’t understand. But it was nothing.” If it was really nothing, he wouldn’t have hidden it.
    • Other examples: “I’m not hurting anyone, and I’m not putting myself in any danger. I mean everyone knows that it’s just a one-time thing and we’re not going to fall in love. And I can tell right away when someone is into drugs or weird stuff, just from what they write or text me, so I don’t get into dicey situations. This just isn’t a big deal.” “This website isn’t that bad, we mostly just hang out in chatrooms and talk.  It’s the way I relax at the end of a stressful day.  It isn’t any different from you being on Facebook.”
  • Rationalization – Is making excuses to justify an unwanted behavior.  Often a rationalization will appear to be logical and well thought out, but the underlying purpose of it is to avoid the true explanation. They are false and often inconsistent excuses for specific behaviors.
    • She said: “Why did you just go and make this worse by acting out with women in person?”
    • He said: “After I was excommunicated I figured it didn’t matter anymore so if I was being accused of cheating I decided I might as well go off and have sex with a real person. I mean, really, how could that be any worse?”
    • Other examples: “I’m not having affairs like a lot of other people I know. All I’m doing is looking at porn, playing a few virtual reality sex games and occasionally getting off on a webcam. I don’t even know anybody’s real name. So this isn’t cheating. And if my partner thinks it is, that’s his problem, not mine.”
  • Turning the Tables – Also know as manipulation, is a tactic used by the addict to change the situation or focus so that he has changed positions with his spouse.  This often happens when a wife confronts the addict about a specific behavior.  The addict will find a way to turn the tables to make it about his wife’s perceived problem so the focus is taken off of his problem.
    • She said: “I really wish you wouldn’t ignore me, if we are going to repair our relationship then we need to work on improving our connection.”
    • He said: “Well, if you hadn’t moved out and left me then we would be living in the same house and we could connect everyday! If we are not connecting then it’s probably because you do not live in the same house as me.”
    • Other examples: How to spot manipulation.
  • Gaslighting – manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.  It is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill anxiety and confusion in their victim’s.
    • She said: “I just really feel like you are still cheating on me.” I would say this after going through a period of time where he would distance himself from me, not call or text and then completely ignore me.  This happened over and over.  So I would ask him about what is going on with.
    • He said: “I can’t believe you don’t trust me, I have given you no reason not to trust me and here you are again, accusing me of things I did not do! How can we ever get back together if you are constantly questioning everything I do?  I go to counseling with you.  I attended the recovery program with you, like you wanted me to, what more do you want from me?  Nothing I do is ever enough for you! You will never forgive me!
    • Other examples: Read more about gaslighting here, here, and here.

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All the above tactics were used on me quite extensively.  This is why I had to go NO CONTACT with my Ex and it will probably stay that way until he comes out of denial on his own. An addict in denial is dangerous to your mental and emotional health.  That isn’t an exaggeration either. I ended up being suicidal because my husband was in absolute denial. He even went so far as to claim the mental health professionals working with him said he was not suffering from an addiction, but something else. The problem is that he would never define what that “something else” was. Later, when I talked to his counselors and church leaders about what I was experiencing on the other end of his “problem” they each agreed that his was deep in addiction, and that he had been less than honest with them about the extent of his problems. This is a huge issue with denial because if they cannot be honest with themselves about what they have done then they cannot be honest with their counselors either. In this state there is no moving forward. The addict is stuck. And so is his family. A problem cannot be addressed or fixed if the person with the problem can’t even see that they have a problem! This leaves the family no other choice than to stand by and helplessly watch as their loved one spirals out of control. There is NOTHING anyone can do until the addict hits the bottom. Here is an article you may find useful on the stages of denial.

The longer the addict stays in denial the more grim the chances are of repairing your relationship. My husband’s addiction went on unchecked and untreated, in any significant way, for 3 solid years. That is plenty long for him to have developed a full-blown addiction.

So how do you know if your man is in denial about his sex addiction? As you can see from some of the above examples, usually,  it’s pretty easy to tell. This list is a pretty good place to start. Almost everyone can tell except the addict. It is also really easy to tell if they are in recovery or not by the frequency in which they still engage in denial behaviors.  If your husband is still lying, minimizing, justifying, blaming, acting the victim or entitled, if he rationalizing, turning the tables on you or gaslighting you then you can be pretty certain that he is still involved in acting out on his addictive behaviors!  Red flags should go up immediately. At this point, an honest and open Q&A should happen between you about your concerns.  If he is still in recovery then he will welcome your questions and do his best to answer honestly and work to relieve any of your fears or concerns.  Any stonewalling is a red flag that something is going on.

As much as I hate the denial tactics that my husband put me through, they were the barometer that I was able to use to determine if he was serious about fighting for me or not.  Ultimately, it was the deciding factor in determining to divorce him.  He just would not come out of denial. It seems he still won’t.

That’s the bad news. There is some good news. You do have some choices you can make to empower yourself against the “denial effect.” This amounts to the things you must do to work on your own recovery from the trauma caused by the addict.

So what can you do to protect yourself from the “denial effect?” Plenty. This is will be the subject of my next blog post…

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Note:  Denial is not just engaged in by addicts. In fact, family members are often as deeply in denial as the addict. And because of this they tend to either enable or ignore the addiction and its consequences. This is another blog post that will be forthcoming.

Regardless of whether denial is engaged in by the addict or his/her loved ones, it exacerbates the addict’s desire to escape from life. This is because denial is a complex series of lies, secrets and deceptions that expands and takes on a life of its own as the addiction escalates. And the larger and more complicated this web of deceit becomes, the harder it is to maintain. Over time, the stress of sustaining this façade of normalcy becomes overwhelming. And of course the anxiety and fear this produces nearly always triggers a further desire to “numb out” via the addiction. In this way, the addict’s and/or the family’s system of denial directly feeds the cycle of addiction. This is why it is imperative that the whole family go to counseling, 12-steps and addiction recovery for spouses and families. See my page on Programs for suggestions on where to start.

Remember…

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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