Posted in Healing, Inspiration

Recovering from Abuse

In the twenty years that I have been in the ministry of spiritual direction/spiritual counseling, I have journeyed with many men and women who have survived abusive relationships, including being married to a narcissist.  This essay is for you! 

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Consequences

 

Nobody warns you of the consequences of being married to an abuser.  The price, I have learned, is nothing less than your Soul.  The voice of your inner truth – silenced.  Your hopes and dreams, snuffed out.  All the things that make your heart sing, torn from your grasp and crushed under a steel-toed boot.  No regard for your hopes and dreams, your needs falling on deaf ears. In the home that you share, there is no room for you, your dreams, your needs, your aesthetics. Instead, the abuser somehow takes up ALL THE SPACE.

The abuser doesn’t care about what you want, who you are, what you might need to thrive, let alone survive –   the consideration only of themselves and how you might serve them.  A trophy, housekeeper, business manager, bookkeeper, accountant, cook, parent to their children (so they don’t have to parent), sex toy, all under the guise of “loving support,” with nothing there for you. Your dreams, desires, hopes, needs are unimportant you know, as you are only there to serve them.  But never, not once, is there a word of gratitude or kindness.  Instead, you’re too fat, you’re ugly, frigid and asexual, the house isn’t clean enough, the yard not pretty enough, your clothes aren’t right, your beliefs and dreams are stupid, and how dare you ask for a teenie tiny crumb of anything for yourself and if you dare to ask, you can bet you will be punished.

There really ought to be a diagnosis in the DSM: “survivor of being married to an abuser,” so that there can be some sort of coverage for recovery work and supplemental income while you try to get your life back together – for recovery from these kinds of relationships is akin to trying to survive while walking on the sun.

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.

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Posted in codependency, Healing, Midlife Journey, Relationships

Midlife and Menopause – Acknowledging Abuse

The purpose of a midlife crisis, perimenopause and menopause (from a spiritual perspective) is to move us beyond childbearing to birthing ourselves…and this is as true for men as it is for women.  During midlife and menopause, we are invited to leave behind the life we have known to make room for the new life that is trying to be born through us.  In birthing our new selves, we are birthing our Soul – the unique way we are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose, connection and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we find fulfillment by contributing to the betterment of our worldOne of the challenges of the midlife journey is that in order to birth something new, we have to recognize and confront the things in our lives which are not supportive of finding meaning, purpose and fulfillment and sometimes, one of the things we need to confront is the reality of abuse.  It is often at the midlife transition that men and women are forced to admit that they are somehow wrapped up in the cycle of abuse, and then we are invited to do something about it.  Today’s blog specifically addresses the topic of emotional abuse, often the most difficult form of abuse to recognize.  If this looks familiar or strikes a chord with you, please seek support in unraveling and recovering from abuse.

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Midlife-Menopause-Identifying-Abuse

Midlife and Menopause – Acknowledging Emotional Abuse

While it is difficult to deny physical, verbal or sexual abuse, many who are being emotionally abused are reluctant to admit or acknowledge the abuse because they have been systematically “trained” to believe that they are the one at fault, that they somehow deserve the abuse and that it is not abuse at all….but that there is something wrong with them….they are irrational, crazy, needy, that their needs are ridiculous, unreasonable and undeserving.  Emotional abuse is nothing short of brainwashing….brainwashing the victim to believe there is something wrong with them so that the abuser can establish and maintain their position of power and control.

The Effects of Emotional Abuse

Whatever the form the emotional abuse takes, it has the same result. Emotional abuse undermines, even destroys belief in the basic rights that all people deserve in relationship.  Patricia Evans defines these rights as:

  • The right to good will from the other.
  • The right to emotional support.
  • The right to be heard by the other and to be responded to with courtesy.
  • The right to have your own view, even if your partner has a different view.
  • The right to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real.
  • The right to receive a sincere apology for any jokes you may find offensive.
  • The right to clear and informative answers to questions that concern what is legitimately your business.
  • The right to live free from accusation and blame.
  • The right to live free from criticism and judgment.
  • The right to have your work and your interests spoken of with respect.
  • The right to encouragement.
  • The right to live free from emotional and physical threat.
  • The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage.
  • The right to be called by no name that devalues you.
  • The right to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.

Healing from Emotional Abuse

Healing from any kind of abuse requires time, patience and good support.  The process begins with admitting that you are being abused and continues as you gather appropriate support around you through counselors, mentors, therapists and support groups.  Healing takes root as the lies upon which your life has been established fall away so that you can embrace the magnificent person that you are and enjoy the possibility of a future relationship built on mutual love, honor and respect – the kind of relationship that you dreamed about….before the abuser taught you otherwise.

To learn more about my upcoming course, “Surviving Midlife,” click HERE. 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, creativity

Let Your Light Shine

One of the things we come to understand in the journey of spiritual growth and enlightenment is that each and every one of us has been uniquely gifted to reveal Love in the world.  What are you doing with the Love that you are called to reveal?

Jesus said to the crowd, “No one lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed;

rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.”

Luke 8: 16

You Are Uniquely Gifted

In Chapter Four of Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy,  I discuss at length the spiritual truth that “You are uniquely gifted to reveal Divine Love and Creativity in the world.”  In a nutshell…..each and every one of us has been gifted in a unique and special way to be a vessel through which Divine truth, creative expression, love, peace, mercy, justice, compassion and joy can be revealed, expressed and known in the world.  It is through the full and open expression of this unique giftedness that the world becomes a better place – more harmonious, more free, more loving, joyful and peaceful.  Who wouldn’t want that!!!???

The Problem

The problem is that instead of taking the time to explore, name, claim, cultivate and share our gifts, many of us either ignore this co-creative and co-expressive call, or we hide our gifts away out of the fear that either we don’t really have something to contribute, or that we will in some way be judged or rejected for sharing our unique gifts.  When instead of sharing our gifts, we hide them under a bushel basket, we suffer and all the world with us.  We suffer the pain of repression (often recognized by anxiety, restlessness, frustration, impatience, physical pain in our neck and shoulders, unsatisfying and repressive relationships, emotional abuse, co-dependency issues, difficulty naming and claiming our needs) and the world suffers with us because it is being deprived of the love that seeks to be known in a hurting and wounded world.

The Invitation

The invitation, as Jesus reminded his students in the scripture passage above, is to LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!  Take the time to explore and discover what your gifts might be.  Take the time to nurture and cultivate your gifts.  THEN……freely, openly and generously SHARE your gifts in the world.  And be aware that it is often in our deepest wounds and most excruciating pain where our deepest gifts reside.  So how are you gifted to reveal Divine love in the world?  Are you an artist, athlete, writer, listener, cook, caretaker, lover?  How are you being called to reveal love through your woundedness, your perceived imperfections, your past pains, sorrows, struggles and hurts?  How are you being called to gather up what gives you joy and spend time with it – music, art, theater, spending time with friends, being in nature?

The Good News

The good news is that the ways in which we are called and are able to reveal Divine love, truth, justice, peace, joy in the world is LIMITLESS!!!!  We just need to recognize what those things might be and spend time doing them!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com