Posted in guilt, shame, Spiritual Direction

Christianity and Guilt

Exploring the role of guilt in the formation of the Christian religion

Since the time of its inception, Christianity has been a religion rife with conflict. One such conflict is the 2000 year old battle between the two sides of the Christian message – that which is based in fear and the other which is rooted in love.  Understanding the experiences out of which Christianity emerged, one has to wonder, is the religion of Christianity merely an expression of the unresolved guilt and shame experienced by the disciples who denied and abandoned Jesus at his greatest hour of need? When we look at the long dalliance between Christianity and guilt, one has to wonder.

Christianity and guilt, Christianity and shame, guilt, shame,

What follows is a “fictional” account of what may have happened:

Once upon a time, there was a bunch of fishermen who met this dude named Jesus. They thought this Jesus was pretty cool.  First he taught them a better way to fish, and then he showed them how to walk on water.  After the theatrics he taught them how to love. These fishermen thought Jesus was the next best thing after leavened bread – something that was a luxury for fishermen – because which one among them had time to wait for bread to rise?

Things were really cool with this Jesus guy. They got to travel.  Meet new people.  Hear amazing stories.  They got invited into the homes of those they never thought they’d be able to dine with.  They saw amazing things happen and miracles performed.  The sick were healed.  The blind were able to see.  And Jesus spoke in a way that made their heart feel warm and their soul feel at peace.

But then one day, people started to become angry over Jesus’ words. Angry words were exchanged and the next thing the fishermen knew, their buddy Jesus was hauled off to prison and brought before the Roman governor where he was tried for treason.  Treason?  (They also heard words like blasphemy….and other scary words).  Jesus was just trying to teach people how to love.  The fishermen were surprised, but mostly they were afraid.  If people came to know that Jesus was their friend, would they be imprisoned and tried too?  So they hid.

And they kept hiding. They heard that Jesus’ trial didn’t go well and that he had been sentenced to death.  Now they were really afraid.  So they kept hiding.  They hid all the while the women knocked on their door saying, “Come out.  Come with us.  We need to support our friend.  We need to be with him.  We need to offer our love and support.”  But the women’s pleas could not break through the fishermen’s fears.  So they continued to hide.

They hid after the women came and told them Jesus had been crucified and that he had died. They hid after the women came to tell them Jesus had been buried.  And they continued to hide until three days later, on the morning after the Sabbath when Mary Magdalene (Jesus’ favorite) knocked on the door and proclaimed that Jesus lived.  But even then, they only opened the door a crack, and then swiftly slammed it in Mary’s face.  “She must have lost her mind.  Jesus cannot have survived a crucifixion.  And ‘he has risen?’  What does that even mean?”

But then, Jesus himself showed up. He walked right through the closed and bolted door and showed them.  “See.  I have not died so as never to be seen or known again.  I am now with you, always, along with the Spirit who is with and in me.” Only then did the fishermen open the door to Mary Magdalene who stood there tapping her feet with her arms across her chest…saying with her eyes, “I told you so!” For a brief moment, the disciples hung their head in shame – first because they had not listened to the Magdalene, the one Jesus favored above them all; and secondly, because they had abandoned their friend at the time of his greatest need.  But just as quickly as the guilt and shame surfaced, they began to make their excuses.

Jesus listened to their bargaining and then began to remind them of all he had taught them about peace and love and how they could experience the kingdom of God right here in the midst of the human experience. Jesus continued to teach them, empowering them with the light of his Spirit so they might go forth and share the good news he had proclaimed:  “Turn your gaze only toward the Divine within, for here is where you will find the kingdom of God.”  (While the disciples were being tutored for the umpteenth time, Mary Magdalene and the other women were already about their mission of teaching people how to love.) Then Jesus told the disciples, “I must ascend,” and took off for good.  Now the disciples were on their own, so they did what Jesus told them to do, “go out and preach the good news.”

This would have been all fine and good except that the male disciples could not let go of that sense of guilt and shame over having abandoned their friend. The wound of shame festered and soon, they could only remember Jesus’ message through the lens of their unhealed shame.  As a result, they went forth preaching “the good news,” but soon it took on a new flavor.  This message was not the pure message of love Jesus had proclaimed and which Mary and the other women continued to share in the world.  Instead, the message became tainted by shame.  Instead of the overwhelmingly uplifting message of unconditional love, the love of God became conditional and wrapped in fear.  God was no longer the prodigal father of which Jesus spoke; instead he became a wrathful God making impossible demands on his children with the overarching and overwhelming threat of eternal punishment in a place called hell.  The cause of Jesus’ death became the sin of humanity.  Judas was Jesus’ betrayer and it was the Jews who killed him.  Women and sexual intercourse became the cause of original sin.  As the wound of shame continued to fester, the message of love became eclipsed to the point where it no longer remained.

But, while the disciples who retained the wound of shame preached a message tainted with fear, those who had no shame, because they had stood by the side of their beloved teacher and friend – Mary Magdalene, Mother Mary, Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Martha, the other Marys, the youngest disciple (and Jesus’ own brother) John, and a few others taught a message of love. They went out into the world doing what Jesus taught them to do.  They began with showing people how to connect with the Divine within.  Then they supported them in coming to know that this connection – which felt like peace, love, contentment and joy – was their original nature and what Jesus called “the kingdom of God.”  Then they taught them how to connect with their own unique gifts and to hear the voice of the Divine which led them to their truth and to the purpose of their life path.  They gathered in community for meditation, contemplation and prayer.  They broke bread together and shared all things in common for the sake of the common good.  They went out into the world teaching, healing, supporting and empowering people – showing them how to be free by teaching them how to love.  In this expression, God was not to be feared but was instead, the source of unconditional and unmerited love. In this they came to know that there was indeed no separation – only love – and they lived in peace and walked softly upon the earth while diligently praying that their brothers and sisters might find healing and self-forgiveness for the guilt and shame they have been harboring for the past 2000 years.

Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS provides support for your unhealed wounds of guilt and shame, including those experienced through institutional religion. She provides this support through one-on-one spiritual direction/counseling, her writing and online courses.  You may contact Lauri directly at lauri@authenticfreedom.love.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in About Lauri, Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Forgiveness, Freedom, guilt, Healing, Jesus, Lessons, manifestation, self-actualization, Spiritual Practices, teachers

There’s Nothing Noble or Courageous about Being Poor

beingpoormeme

I share my stories of personal growth and transformation because I learned long ago that as I heal these wounds in myself, similar wounds are somehow being healed in others…especially when I am courageous enough to share.

So….here goes another sharing….this one confessing a long-held jealousy and hatred of the rich – especially those who seem to bask in their privilege bragging, boasting, showing off all that their wealth provides (ala Kim Kardashian and Kanye West).

I am totally aware that this pattern of jealously is merely a projection of my resentment over “not being rich.” I also now understand that it has also been a reflection of the way in which I have rejected the part of me that longs for a life of comfort where my financial needs are all being met and in which I don’t have to worry where my next rent payment will come from.  Deeply imbedded in this rejection is a coping mechanism that I was only able to identify today – I had somehow, somewhere decided that there is something noble and courageous in being poor (I sense this somehow stems from my Catholic upbringing).  In spite of Jesus’ admonishment about it being more difficult for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven that it would be for a camel to fit into the eye of a needle (the explanation of which is a whole other blog entirely!), there is nothing noble or courageous about being poor!

My earliest recollection of “hating the rich” started with my grade school nemesis, who here shall remain unnamed. This nemesis was not initially an enemy, in fact, she was a friend (or so I thought).  She was the only one among my classmates who was obvious about what her parents possessed in the way of status, power, position and “wealth.”  Most of us didn’t care, (which is perhaps why she was so loud about it.) and it truly wasn’t her verbosity that soured our friendship….it was her cruelty. Somewhere, somehow, she decided I was her competition.  This envy then came through in duplicitous acts – being kind to me and inviting me to her parties, then being downright cruel to me every chance she got.  In my young mind, mean and rich must mean the rich are mean, right?

Then came “Jane P. Morgan” (name changed to protect the guilty).  “JP Morgan” was a sorority “sister.”  She was also “new rich.”  Every single day, she would descend the front staircase of the TriDelt house and loudly proclaim to anyone who was within earshot, an inventory of what she was wearing that day (or should I say “who”), and how much each item cost.  Her $700.00 Gucci shoes, $300.00 Coach purse, $300.00 Ellen Tracey skirt, and $400.00 Ralph Lauren sweater.  Nobody gave a crap what, who or the price of what she was wearing that day.  Because the seed of money-hate had already been planted in me, I self-righteously echoed the inventory of my own clothing choice for the day – My $30.00 Target knock-off Coach bag, my $5.00 vest and $7.00 skirt from Ragstock and my dad’s old Hanes T-shirt.  Upon reflection, I was as proud of my “Little Orphan Annie” wardrobe as JPM was of her designer fare.  Me thinks we both protesteth too much.

For 35 years, the ghosts of the nemesis and JPM have haunted me – hurling their taunts and jeers over all they have, reminding me of what I do not – Success. Fame.  Status.  Power.  Riches.  Wealth.  Money.  I have intermittently run from these ghosts and when I tire of running, returning their jeers with my own self-righteous poverty. When it isn’t the voice of the nemesis or JPM whispering in my ear, it is the Pepsodent smile of a certain disgustingly rich Christian minister, Kanye and Kim, “The Donald” and every other filthy rich individual who waves the banner of their wealth for all to see.  And when I grew tired of their whispering, I dug my heels even more deeply into my “noble” poverty.

Jesus was poor, right?! (or was he really?????? Scripture doesn’t really say).  The Church always lauded the blessings of the poor, the sick, the lame….they will be the first welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven.  If I want to be perfect, loved, welcome home by our “Heavenly Creator” it would be better if I were poor, right?  And then I look into the faces of the truly poor and decide that if they are to be fed, clothed, housed, it is best if I make do with only the bare essentials so that they may one day live.  If the rest of the world won’t take care of them, then Lauri Lumby needs to.  Right????

WRONG! And if I didn’t get this message the fourteenth time, God made sure this past weekend that I would get it!  After not just one….but three….encounters with my own resentment toward wealth, I had to ask myself a difficult question:

 

“How is my repulsion of the rich reflective of my own unhealed wounds around money?”

mirrorpixabay

OUCH. OUCH.  OUCH….and… OUCH!

 

Not just ouch……world spinning, bring me to my knees, full-blown panic attack OUCH!

(Karen Schmidt….are you listening? Thank you for being the first to TRULY see the source of my panic attacks!  I love you!)

 

Again, OUCH which brings me full-circle:

 

There is nothing courageous or noble about being poor! In fact, it sucks!  I’m damn tired of putting the burden of poverty on my own shoulders out of some misplaced wound (lie) about money and those who wield it.

Because here is something I know about the world….

Not every person who is rich is evil. In fact, many rich, kind, benevolent people come to mind:  JK Rowling, Kate Middleton, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres (aka “generous”), Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie….all kinds of rich and famous people do amazingly loving and generous things with their money….money about which they make no boasts.

I also know that within everyone who boasts of their wealth, or shows off what they have, is a wound greater than any wound I could possible imagine. So for them I pray – for their fear, unhealed wounds, insecurities, lack of self-knowledge, etc. the same fear, unhealed wounds, insecurities and lack of self-knowledge that led me to judge the rich in the first place!

HELLO MIRROR!

I’m sorry. Please Forgive Me.  I love you.  Thank you!

And so it is…..AMEN!

When Lauri Ann Lumby isn’t being a self-righteous hag, she is helping others to identify and bring healing to the unhealed wounds within themselves – those wounds which are preventing them from being their most authentic, self-actualized and fulfilled selves.  Click here to learn more about what Lauri Ann Lumby provides through Authentic Freedom Academy. 

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Book, Being Human, Christ Consciousness, Freedom, Gifts of Contemplation, Grace, guilt, Jesus, Lessons, Oneness with God, sin, Spiritual Practices, teachers, Virtual Church

Show Me the Way to Go Home

Through the metaphorical Adam, the human conditional was born, providing for us the (false) perception of separation and the sensation of having fallen from Grace. In birthing the human condition, we now know fear and suffering in contrast to the love and peace we knew “at home.”  Jesus (among other prophets) discovered the remedy to the human condition and through his teaching and example, shows us the way to go home. 

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter for Sunday, November 23, 2014

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 But first:  a little humor!  🙂 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWQ-rnXi_n4

 

Scripture Reading:

Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

1 Cor 15: 20-26, 28

 

Additional Readings:

Ez 34: 11-12, 15-17

Psalm 23

Mt: 25: 31-46

 

Jesus Shows Us the Way

“Since death came through man,

The resurrection of the dead came also through man.”

When the metaphorical Adam chose power over obedience to God, the human condition was born. Instead of the peace, love and joy experienced in our original state of Oneness with God, humans now knew fear – fear that then led to a whole host of fears and their resulting compulsions. Inside of our beings, in this place of perceived separation from God, we felt as if we had fallen from Grace. As a loving parent, understanding our need to explore and to learn, God allowed us this choice, knowing that in this choice, we would suffer and experience the burden of guilt for turning away from God. God, however, did not leave us abandoned, neither did God leave us to our own devices, instead, God sent prophet after prophet after prophet to help remind us of our original nature and to help us find our way home. The greatest of these prophets (in the Christian tradition), was Jesus. Jesus, in his own longing and search for God, found the remedy to the suffering of the human condition (the remedy didn’t alleviate the suffering, but provided a means to transcend it), and generously shared what he learned with others. Thankfully, some of his disciples remembered bits and pieces of what Jesus taught and others wrote it down. Through scripture, specifically a prayerful reading and reflection on scripture, we find glimpses of what Jesus taught and sparks of what he remembered. What is even more remarkable is that like the gurus before him and since, Jesus’ very spirit is accessible as a teacher and a guide to those who seek out and cultivate a deeply intimate and personal relationship with Jesus as the Christ. In this way, Jesus, himself, becomes our teacher – helping us to see the deeper truths beyond the words of scripture, leading us to other resources including human teachers who can guide us. We even find that Jesus can come to us himself to teach and guide us.

The “sin” of Adam allowed us to experience the human condition. Jesus helps us to find our way home.

How have you cultivated a personal relationship with Jesus?

 

 

Spiritual Practices – Inviting Jesus to be our Teacher

jesus

 

Look at the created image of Jesus above. Let it sink into your consciousness.

Close your eyes.

Imagine Jesus, as you saw him in the picture above, standing before you.

Rest with that image of Jesus standing before you. Remain in this visualization for 15 – 20 minutes.

Know that as Jesus stands before you, he is gazing back at you with unconditional love and acceptance.

Allow yourself to receive that love.

Be attentive to any thoughts, feelings, emotions that may arise as you imagine Jesus standing before you.

Record any thoughts, feelings, insights received, etc. in your journal or notebook.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we acknowledge Jesus as our teacher and as the example of one who learned authentic freedom and taught it to others. Every story, parable, lesson, example that Jesus taught, can somehow be brought back to the core wound and the resulting fears explored through Authentic Freedom. Jesus, while experiencing the fullness of the human condition, found his way to freedom – a freedom, he discovered, was found only in God. This is the freedom we are called to discover, cultivate and embrace through Authentic Freedom. God is the remedy to the suffering of the human condition. Jesus showed/shows us the way.

 

What is the suffering you currently want to transcend or have healed?

 

How might Jesus invite you to turn toward God as a source of healing and support?

Authentic Freedom is available for purchase on Amazon.  Learn more HERE. 

 

Posted in church, Death, guilt, Jesus, Oneness with God, Raised Catholic, sin, Truth

Re-Framing Jesus’ Death

Jesus died for our sins?

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week.  On this day, Passion Sunday, we reflect on Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, juxtaposed against the heightened tension around his teachings, his eventual trial and death by crucifixion. Having been raised Catholic, this was the time of year when we were vigorously reminded that, “Jesus died for our sins,” as we stood with heads bowed, striking our breasts in self-flagellation while chanting mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Jesus was portrayed as the sacrificial lamb that was sent here to be slaughtered in reparation for our sins.  While I have found personal comfort in praying with Jesus through his trial, crucifixion and death (allowing myself to experience the reality of Jesus’ suffering, thereby finding in him a companion in my humanness) I cannot reconcile the God of love that I have come to know with a god who would send his own son to die.

Was it really necessary?

While I acknowledge that the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection and eventual ascension ushered in a dramatic shift in the spiritual evolution of our planet, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if humanity hadn’t gotten in the way of the amazing message Jesus came to reveal.  It seems to me that Jesus could have been raised from the dead and ascended into heaven without the violence of the crucifixion.  Jesus crucifixion seems wrong, untimely and unnecessary.  While God revealed a higher good in Jesus’ untimely death, I have a hard time believing it was really part of God’s plan. I often wonder if God thought, “Darn it, they missed the point again!  I send them prophet after prophet after prophet to help them understand how much they are loved and instead of receiving my love, they turn against my prophets in fear! When will they learn?” As a result of these quandaries, I have a really hard time upholding the idea that Jesus died for our sins – at least not in the way it was presented to me growing up.   Instead, I have come to approach Jesus’ cruel death by crucifixion from another perspective.

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Another Perspective.

The turning point for me was diligent prayer and meditation on John’s gospel, and at least a million viewings or listenings of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEzEROSj11Q

In Jesus Christ Superstar, in the scene of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, we hear the following exchange:

Pilate:  Then you are a king?

Jesus:  It’s you that say I am.  I look for truth and find that I get damned.

Pilate: But what is truth?  Is truth unchanging law?  We both have truths.  Are mine the same as yours?

In John’s gospel, Jesus reveals the truth that he proclaims will set us free (John 8: 32) – the truth that he came to know within himself and the truth he lived by and tried to share with others.   Jesus came to know the truth of his Oneness with God in love (John 17: 17-23). Through this Oneness, Jesus found the remedy to the fears that are the cause of our sinful behaviors and the path toward our spiritual freedom.  This is the “I Am” truth that Jesus discovered.  This was the truth he tried to help others understand. Knowing, cultivating and embracing this truth is what saves us from the fears that are the ultimate cause of our sins.  So, yes, we can say that Jesus died for our sins, but not as a consequence of our sins, but for the sake of the truth that will heal us from our sin.

The Truth that kills

This truth that Jesus believed, the truth in his Oneness with God, is a dangerous truth.  It is because of this truth that Jesus was killed because it is a truth that seriously threatened the religious and political authorities of his time. If people find the God within and find peace in their Oneness with God and are no longer controlled by their fears, how will the outside perceived political and religious authorities be able to control and manipulate them? If people have found their Oneness with God, then what need do they have for an institution to intervene with a fickle god on their behalf?  If we are truly One with God in love, then what need do we have of the sacrifices and observances that have been put in place to appease an angry God or earn our way back into God’s good graces?  Jesus came to know and taught of a God that loves without condition – who loves us without merit and whose love does not have to be earned, neither can it be denied.  And to the religious and political authorities, a people who believed in their inherent goodness, who knew they were loved beyond measure and who could reason, discern and exercise truth for themselves, was a dangerous lot. It was ultimately his insistence in this truth that got Jesus killed, the truth that frees us from our sin.  As such, I prefer not to say that Jesus died for our sins. Instead, I prefer to acknowledge that Jesus died for the truth.

How would your life change if you believed that you were One with God in love?

How would your life be altered if you believed in your inherent goodness and that you are not only loved without condition, but that you are love itself?

How might your Holy Week observance change if you saw Jesus’ death as a consequence of standing in the truth of love instead of in reparation for sin?

 

Posted in addictions, codependency, guilt, shame, The Seven Deadly Compulsions

Partners of Sex Addicts Part II

Today’s blog is the final of a four-part series on sex addiction.  Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s blog focused on identifying sex addiction and understanding some of its possible causes.  Thursday’s began the discussion on how partners of sex addicts are effected by the addiction and today’s blog continues that discussion, exploring possible resources for assisting partners of sex addicts in their own journey of healing. 

Co-Addiction?

Many experts in the field of sex addiction refer to the relationship between a sex addict and their partner as co-addiction.  Drawing from 12-step recovery programs, the partner of a sex addict is held accountable for their role in enabling the addiction through denial, preoccupation, enabling or rescuing, taking excessive responsibility, and trying to (or wishing they could) control the addict’s behaviors.  In order for one to identify sexual addiction in their partner, they also have to acknowledge their own role in the cycle of addiction.  Denial is perhaps the greatest obstacle to the addict and their partner in stopping the cycle of addiction.  For the partner of the addict, excessive responsibility is perhaps the second obstacle.  Partners of addicts come to believe that the dissatisfaction, restlessness and irritability of the addict is somehow their fault and often work to try to “make the addict happy” by engaging in sexual activities that make them uncomfortable or looking the other way when the addict seeks to satisfy their need through pornography, excessive masturbation, sex-sites, other partners, etc.  For those who choose to remain in a relationship with a sex addict (who is still engaging in addictive behaviors), unraveling themselves from their role as enabler is critical.  In order to keep one’s self safe, the partner of a sex addict must stop taking responsibility, feeling guilty for the addict’s unhappiness and for excusing their sexual acting out.  If the addict remains in denial and refuses treatment for their addiction, the partner may eventually determine that the relationship is no longer viable and may decide to leave.  (For more on working together to recover from sex addiction, please read, Mending a Shattered Heart, edited by Stefanie Carnes, PhD.

codependencytriangle

For those who leave

For those who choose to leave a relationship with a sex addict, acknowledging their co-addictive behavior will be an important step in healing from the co-addictive relationship and for establishing a ground upon which healthy intimacy may one day be possible.  In the beginning stages of having left a sex addict, however, I believe that attention first needs to be given to grief * and shame**. First, the partner needs strategies, room and time to grieve the loss of the relationship they at one time hoped to have with the addict (before they knew of the addiction).  What also needs to be addressed is the deep well of shame experienced by a partner of a sex addict.  Shame from having been in the relationship in the first place.  Shame over their co-addictive behaviors (denial, bargaining, over responsibility, etc.).  Shame from all the ways in which they were told they failed the addict.  Then somewhere along the line, the partner of a sex addict needs to pick up all the shreds of their own desire and sexual self-confidence which were destroyed in the course of the relationship and put those back together.  In grieving the loss of the hoped-for relationship, healing the deep well of shame, reassembling one’s self-confidence and desire, and addressing any co-addictive behaviors provides the foundation upon which the former partner of a sex addict may enter into a meaningful, healthy and intimate love relationship – the kind that was, sadly, not possible with the addict.

* To learn more about the grieving process, click HERE. 

** To learn more about releasing shame, click HERE.

If you are a partner of a sex addict, please seek out help and support through counseling, psychotherapy or a local 12-Step group well versed in the subtleties of sex addiction. For additional support, check out Mending a Shattered Heart – a Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts, edited by Stefanie Carnes, PhD.

 

Posted in addictions, codependency, guilt, Healing, Relationships, shame

For Partners of Sex Addicts Part I

Today’s blog is part three in a series on sex addiction.  Parts One and Two explored the ways in which one might identify sex addiction in one’s self or one’s partner and possible causes and suggested supports for healing sex addiction.  In today’s blog, I hope to provide partners (and former partners) of sex addicts with some support – specifically validation for the devastating effects of being in relationship with a sex addict.  In tomorrow’s blog, I will explore possible supports in helping the partner heal from having been in relationship with a sex addict.

Sex addiction confused as love

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, for as long as sex addicts are indulging their addiction, sex addicts are incapable of experiencing or participating in true intimacy. This truth has devastating effects on any and every relationship into which the sex addict enters. As Stephanie Carnes, states, “Sex addiction thrives in secrecy, (Mending a shattered heart, 2009, p. 9)” and addicts will go to any length to protect their double life.” Whether engaging in compulsive fantasizing, pornography, sex sites, prostitution and/or masturbation, addicts accomplish this in secret and their partners are often none the wiser.  Additionally, many sex addicts are masters as presenting themselves as simply “passionate” and pride themselves is being masterful “lovers,” luring potential partners in with their exceptional “skills.”  Soon, however, the partner begins to see that no matter what they do or how they do it (sexually), it is never enough, neither is it good enough, because nothing can compare with the fantasies cooked up in an addicts mind or with the intensity and danger of what they might be viewing through pornography or experiencing on sex-sites.  As the partner of an addict eventually learns, the partner’s need for sexual stimulation has nothing to do with love and instead of helping to facilitate intimacy, actually destroys it.

Sex Addiction is Still in the Closet

One of the challenges with sex addiction is that in most circles, it remains in the closet.  Sex addiction is not discussed publicly and neither has it attained the recognition and acknowledgement of other addictions such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.  For some, sex addiction is considered a joke – something that was cooked up by some fundamentalist, repressed, suppressed, uptight religious folks trying to keep us from having great sex.  The accessibility and mainstreaming of pornography, does not help in this regard. As such, sex addiction is difficult to identify, especially for the partner of a sex addict, who maybe never witnesses the behavior itself, but only the before and after-effects.

Effects Experienced by Partners of Sex Addicts

Before: The before effects of sex addiction are most easily recognized by feelings of withdrawal such as irritability or restlessness on the part of the addict when unable to act out sexually, which escalates until they get their fix. The partner feels the tension of these feelings and often becomes the target – being blamed by the addict for these feelings (you aren’t servicing me enough or in the ways that I want). Often, not knowing any better, the partner believes it must be their fault.  Shame and guilt step in and the partner often feels pressured to play their part in helping the addict “feel better,” often agreeing to sexual behaviors that actually make them feel uncomfortable.

After: The after-effects are also comprised of shame and guilt because no matter what the partner does or how, it will never be right for the addict.  For the addict, sex becomes a bottomless pit of need that can never be met, and in the mind of the addict, their partner becomes the person “responsible” for their dissatisfaction.  Until they know otherwise, the partner often takes on the responsibility for the addict’s unhappiness, frequently entering into the cycle of addiction with the addict – trying everything within their means to make the addict happy and having to face the shame of continued failure.  Eventually, the partner may shut down sexually and cut off any connection they may have to their own sexual needs and desires, unable to face the continual shame of failure and humiliation.  Compounding this shame is the addict’s blaming and shaming behaviors toward the partner.  Because of their inability to “please” them, addicts often accuse their partners of being “frigid, repressed, uptight,” or even “asexual.” Sadly, partners begin to believe these lies and end up losing any self-esteem they might have had in regards to sexual intimacy and desirability. These feelings of shame are compounded when the sex addict turns away from the partner toward masturbation, pornography, sex sites or other partners in search of a “better” fix.

Shame

Ultimately, what is created within the partner of a sex addict is a deep well of shame – shame over not being able to please their partner, shame for agreeing to sex acts they might feel uncomfortable with, shame over wondering what is wrong with them and shame over wondering if there is something wrong with their partner in a culture that often glorifies sex addiction and in a partner who might still be in denial.  When recovering from a relationship with a sex addict, healing this shame is the primary and most critical task.  In tomorrow’s blog we will explore strategies for healing yourself from a relationship with a sex addict.

If you are a partner of a sex addict, please seek out help and support through counseling, psychotherapy or a local 12-Step group well versed in the subtleties of sex addiction. For additional support, check out Mending a Shattered Heart – a Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts, edited by Stephanie Carnes, PhD.

MendingShatteredHeartcover

Posted in addictions, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, guilt, Healing, shame, sin, The Seven Deadly Compulsions

Sex Addiction – Causes and Compassion

In yesterday’s blog, we explored the subject of sexual addiction and ways to identify this behavior in ourselves or our loved ones so that we might seek out help.  In today’s blog, we will examine some of the possible causes of sex addiction, specifically the deeper emotional and spiritual wounds what are ultimately seeking healing.

Causes of Sexual Addiction

As is the case with other addictions, there are no cut and dried formulas in their cause.  There are, however, some reported similarities between sex addicts which warrant examination:

  • Sex addicts often come from dysfunctional families
  • Many report a past history of having been physically, verbally or emotionally abused
  • 82% of sex addicts reported having been sexually abused as children
  • 80% reported substance abuse as present within their family of origin
  • Many report parents as distant, uncaring and rigid
  • It is theorized that abnormalities in brain chemistry may predispose a person to addictive behaviors, including sex addiction

(Source:  Herkov, M. (extracted 2013). What causes sexual addiction? www.psychcentral.com.)

Behavior modification

As discussed in yesterday’s blog, sex addiction is recognized in compulsive, uncontrollable behaviors most often driven by anxiety.  Addiction language speaks of this anxiety as the “emotional trigger.”    Learning effective methods for dealing with this anxiety or confronting the specific emotional trigger goes a long way in supporting recovery and healing in sex addicts and allows the addict to create new and healthier ways of responding to these triggers.  It has been my experience, however, that in many (if not most) cases, the addictive behavior ultimately has nothing to do with the behavior itself (ie: fantasizing, masturbation, use of pornography, etc.), and simple behavior modification, while necessary, is not enough to facilitate long-term recovery, and more importantly, does not help the addict learn how to cultivate and enjoy healthy, loving, intimacy. For as long as they are indulging their addiction, sex addicts are incapable of experiencing or participating in true intimacy.

Sex Addiction and Need

Instead, sex addiction has much more to do with deeper, unhealed spiritual and emotional wounds that are seeking to be made known so that they may be healed.  Sex addiction, contrary to the belief of many addicts (and their partners), is not about love or intimacy.  Sex addiction isn’t even really about sex.  Sex addiction is about seeking the remedy to a deep, inner, often unnamed pain.  As mentioned above, many sex addicts report having been emotionally, mentally, verbally, physically and even sexually abused as children.  For sex addicts, sexual behaviors (including fantasizing) allowed them to disassociate from the on-going trauma and provided temporary relief from the pain.  In order to facilitate enduring recovery, the addict needs to acknowledge this pain and identify the needs that were left unmet in their childhood.  Some of these needs might include:

  • The need to feel safe and that their needs for food, clothing, and shelter were being met
  • The need to feel of value and as if they had something significant to contribute
  • The need to feel supported in being and living as their most authentic self
  • The need to feel unconditionally loved
  • The need to feel free to express their needs and their truth
  • The need to know their truth and their path
  • The need to feel as if they were not alone

As the addict works on healing these deeper unmet needs and unacknowledged childhood wounds,  learns strategies for getting these needs met and tending to themselves in adulthood, while developing healthy interventions for managing anxiety, the addictive behaviors become less and less necessary.  Addressing these deeper wounds then provides the foundation upon which the addict can begin to cultivate what they have been missing all along – healthy, loving intimacy.

If you believe that you or your partner is suffering from sex addiction, please seek help and support through counseling, psychotherapy or 12-step recovery groups tailored to the needs of sex addicts.

To learn more about sex addiction, check out Out of the Shadowsby Patrick J. Carnes, PhD.

sexaddictioncarnes

Posted in Being Human, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, guilt, Healing, Inspiration

Latte’ Love and other Ways to Nurture the Soul

Deprivation as Health?

In Tuesday’s blog, I explored the connection between the way we nourish our body and the ability of the Soul to awaken and be realized through us.  In this culture of EXCESS, nourishing our body and awakening our Soul is unfortunately, most often experienced as a form of punishment.  I believe that this is due in part to the extreme departure from wellness we have taken as a culture.  As such, in order to be “healthy,” we have to deprive ourselves of all the things that give us joy. As a result, we see many embracing militaristic diets which might be nourishing, but are in no way joyful.  In my experience, this militant approach to nutrition is just as detrimental to our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health as the gluttonous production and consumption of highly processed, lifeless food, and usually ends up backfiring as the participant grows tired of deprivation and then begins to gorge on all the things that used to give them comfort.  (Just think of Miss “O” and her yoyo journey of weight loss and weight gain.)

Moderation is Key

When we make healthy and living foods our priority, we soon realize the benefits thereof and are less likely to backslide. We feel better physically, we have more energy, our emotions move into a greater state of equilibrium and our blood sugar is balanced which makes us less likely to gorge.  The goal with preparing and nourishing ourselves with healthy and living food meals is to keep them simple, pleasing to the eye and pleasurable to the palate.  Nourishment should be enjoyable, not just a matter of necessity.  There is nothing worse than munching on rice cakes because they are “healthy” and wishing it were a chocolate shake and then wondering, “where was the pleasure in that!?” So instead of depriving ourselves of the things we love, it is important while maintaining a diet that nourishes the body while supporting the awakening of our Soul, to allow ourselves an indulgence from time to time.

Latte’ Love

If you want that piece of apple pie, enjoy it (while paying attention to how your body feels after eating it.).  If Chocolate is your go-to treat, keep a few Hershey Kisses nearby and allow yourself a few from time to time.  And by all means, if there is nothing better than a latte’ for making you feel loved and cared for, then allow for that latte’ love! The key to obtaining a natural state of health and wellness is MODERATION and ATTENTION.  Pay attention to how you feel after consuming these “special treats” and then make future decisions based on that.  For example, I have learned I can handle a half-caff latte’ at 10 am, but a full-caff makes me anxious and my brain scattered.  A piece of apple pie puts me in a sugar coma, so I usually choose to skip it.  A small bowl of Breyer’s natural mint-chip ice cream before bed gives me no negative effects, but a glass of red wine causes me to lose sleep.  So, I choose what makes me feel good, energetic, clear-headed and healthy vs. those things which wreck havoc on my emotional, mental or physical well-being. Now it is your turn to choose!  🙂

Latte' Love
Latte’ Love
Posted in Empowerment, Forgiveness, guilt, Lessons, shame, Spiritual Practices

Punished for Speaking our Truth

Punished for speaking our truth and what to do with the resulting shame.

ARGH!

The past couple of weeks have provided me with a terrific reminder of how challenging it is to speak our truth and why many of us don’t.  When we finally have the courage to defend ourselves, to tell the family secret, the church secret, the institution secret, the rape secret, the abuse secret, to share our political views in a contentious world, etc. etc. etc. the response is most often NOT the liberation and the support that we are hoping for, instead, the response we get for speaking our truth is PUNISHMENT.  When someone else does not want to hear our truth, if our truth somehow shatters the illusion of the world they have created in their mind, or if God forbid,  our truth challenges another person to BE A GROWN UP the likely response is not just resistance, but defensive attack – either directly or indirectly through passive aggressive behaviors.

Punishment and Shame

The punishment that comes as a result of speaking our truth comes in many forms:

  • Defensive attack
  • Condescending verbal attack or behavior
  • Passive aggressive behavior (behind your back actions that somehow sabatoge, destroy  or say “f-you”)
  • Denial – the words that say “you’re crazy, you don’t know what you are talking about, so and so wouldn’t do that….”
  • Rejection, banishment, withholding of approval, love, etc.

Whatever the form of the punishment, the desired result is the same – to make us feel as if we have done something wrong and to make us feel ashamed.  For many of us, feeling this shame is unbearable and we are compelled to apologize, retract, back pedal, take back or repress our truth.  Taking back our truth might feel like the easiest response and the best way to restore the harmony that we all desire. In the long run, however, this pattern of repression and denial has devastating effects on our individual person and on society as a whole and on some level, we all know this to be true.

Choosing Another Response to Punishment and Shame

When we have spoken our truth and know that we have done so rightly, the invitation is to STAND IN OUR TRUTH.  When our truth is rejected by another and we are punished for sharing that truth through acts of aggression, witholding, finger pointing, etc. and we feel the resulting shame rise in us, and we are tempted to question, doubt, bargain, retract our truth….DON’T!  Put the shame back where it belongs, on the person trying to make you feel that way through their reaction to your truth and recognize the unhealed wound in them that prevents them from acknowledging your truth.  The challenge, however, is that even in standing in our truth and refusing to retract, the resulting shame from the rejection of our truth remains.  Thankfully, there is a powerful spiritual practice that transforms ANY icky, sticky, negative emotion that makes us feel bad.  I learned this practice from one of my teachers, Julie Tallard Johnson in her book, Wheel of Initiation.   This practice is called Tonglen.

Tonglen

Tonglen is a simple breathing and visualization practice that helps us to release powerful, negative feelings and emotions.  Instinctively, when we experience a negative feeling or emotion, we are compelled to push the feeling away.  Tonglen invites us to do the opposite – to bring the feeling in:

1) First, we FEEL the feeling. We allow ourselves to welcome it instead of pushing it away.

2) We breath in the feeling (here recognized as shame) and as we breathe it in, we imagine that we are drawing it into our hearts.

3) Then we breathe out love.

4) As we breathe out love, we imagine it going out into the world, maybe even to the person who has punished us for speaking our truth.

4) We continue this process of feeling the shame, breathing it into our heart and breathing out love until we either feel a shift, or simply run out of time.

5) If the shame hasn’t been fully released in our first Tonglen practice, return to the practice at another time.

Tonglen is the most powerful spiritual practice I have experienced for releasing these negative emotions.  More importantly, Tonglen has the power to transform….ourselves….our human relationships…..and our world.  You might be surprised to discover as you engage in this practice that forgiveness arises in you….and miraculous transformation taking place in the people around you….maybe even the one who initially punished you for speaking your truth in the first place.  Next time you speak your truth, you might discover that it is more openly received.

Lauri Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Being Human, guilt, Inspiration, Spiritual Practices

Questioning the “Law of Attraction”

Questions about the pop-culture phenomenon known as “The Law of Attraction” aka “The Secret.”  Sometimes, I think “success” and “failure” have nothing to do with our beliefs, thoughts, attitudes and are simply a matter of dumb luck!  What matters is what we do with the life that we have been given.

Being Faced with a Challenge

This weekend, I had the great opportunity to attend a yoga workshop and Kirtan event with teacher, musician and Kirtan facilitator, Wade Imre Morissette.  Before we began the Kirtan, Wade invited us to choose an intention for our prayer.  The first word that popped into my mind was abundance.  But as I sat with that word, it was quickly replaced with worthiness.  Worthiness….the one word I have perhaps wanted most to really embrace and believe in my life.  I really want to believe I am worthy of all the things I want in my life:  Worthy of a fulfilling and prosperous career.  Worthy of a deep and abiding love.  Worthy of loving friendships, good health, happiness, etc. etc. etc.  And I wondered, is this why I have not achieved the financial success that I desire in my business (it is already overwhelmingly fulfilling!)?  Do I not believe I am worthy of financial success?  This is what the “Law of Attraction” would tell me.  “If you are not prosperous, in the job you want and love, in a relationship that is loving, fulfilling, uplifting, mutually supportive, etc. etc. etc.  it is because YOUR THOUGHTS ARE WRONG.  Well, if the “Law of Attraction says so….”   So, I offered up my prayer, “Please God, help me to feel worthy so that I may receive the financial abundance that I need to fulfill my dreams of helping others through my abundance.”  Then……I heard someone slam their foot upon the heavenly brakes and the squealing of tires that could only mean 30 pounds of tread just got left behind on Heaven’s highway.

What if The Law of Attraction is NOT?

Wait a minute…….I heard the thoughts gathering in my head.  I know all kinds of people who have a boatload of money.  Some who worked very hard for it.  Some whose spouse worked very hard for it.  Some who seemed to accumulate it by accident.  Do all these people believe that they are worthy?  HECK NO!!!!  In fact many of these people are plagued by self-doubt, self-loathing, self-deprecation.  So, if these people who are so much better off financially than I am and struggle even more with worthiness than I do….WHAT GIVES?????  According to “The Law of Attraction,” belief and thought equals attainment.  If you believe you deserve it, if you believe you are worthy, then you will get it.  AND…..if you don’t have it, it is because you believed or thought wrongly. YOU are the creator and the source of your manifestation (or lack thereof).  At the end of the day, good or bad…..IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!  To put it bluntly….I think that’s CRAP!

Sh…t   Happens

Sometimes, I just think that sh….t happens.  Some people are rich.  Some are poor.  Some have fulfilling careers.  Some do not.  Some find loving partnership easily.  Some search and search and never find it.  And, I find it really hard to believe that all those that DO NOT have what they want professionally, financially and personally do not have it because their thoughts or beliefs are wrong.  If that were the case, then none of us would really have what we want because  no one thinks all good things all day every day and most of us grew up in some sort of dysfunction that colors our beliefs and perceptions – sometimes negatively.  Not to mention, we are all born into the world with a unique lens through which we see, perceive and experience our human experience.  Not to get all Trent Reznor (one of my favorite nihilists) on you….but at the end of the day, perhaps a lot of it is just DUMB LUCK.

The Real Secret

So, if life is just a matter of chaotic, unordered, unpredictable events and bad things happen to good people, regardless of how they think or believe, now what?  WELCOME TO THE HUMAN CONDITION!  And……it doesn’t have to be “Life sucks and then you die.”  Are bad things going to happen to us?  Are the things we think we want sometimes elusive?  Will there be suffering and loss.  YOU BET.  AND…..we don’t have to allow it to destroy us!  This is the real secret that all the greatest spiritual teachers came to remind us.  Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, The Buddha, Yogananda, Babaji, Amma, the Dalia Lama, all come with the same message.  “The Human condition is the human condition.  And….suffering is optional.”  And……they have all left us tools with which we can SURVIVE, endure, transcend, make it through the stuff that life sometimes hands us:  sacred writings, words of wisdom, spiritual practices and rituals, etc. etc. etc.  Thanks to those who have gone before us, we have EVERYTHING we need to survive and maybe even ENJOY the human experience.  (Imagine that!)  Thanks to these teachers, we can stop worrying so much about how our thoughts or beliefs are dictating the condition of our lives, let go of the guilt over how it must somehow be our fault and focus on the tools that lead us to the peace and love of God.  And this peace and love of God is there for EVERYONE regardless of what we have, believe or think.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com