So, yeah, if you guys didn’t already know, I like to ramble. Some days I go on and on and on and well, you get the idea. Many of you recall the days before I learned how to edit myself. When I used to post long word vomits. Paragraph after paragraph filled with emotional rants and raves that really didn’t do much for the reader, but it sure helped me get through the emotional turmoil of finding out my husband was a sex addict. (Thank you for sticking around during those dark times!)
You can imagine how hard it is in real life for me to contain myself once I really get on a roll. Here I can hit the delete button when I think a post has gotten too long. Too TMIey. But in real life, not so much.
When a person in crisis from my program calls me, my instinct is to gush out all sorts of information. I want to fill their traumatized brain with as much valuable stuff as I can because who knows if they’ll ever have the courage to pick up that 500lb phone again?
I remember not knowing what to ask the person who answered my first phone call. I could barely speak through my tears. I was petrified. I felt alone.
I’ve come up with the basics I try to bring up during our initial conversation if the person is a newbie to the program and has an interest (and time) to listen:
1. You’re not as alone as you feel. There are a ton of us out there. We might not have the exact same story, but we understand your pain like no one else can. And there's no one right way to do this.
2. Boundaries. Odds are you need to set some, so start thinking about some reasonable ones. It’s time to protect your emotions and your wellbeing. Boundaries can help you do that.
3. Don’t make any rash decisions right now. Unless there is physical abuse, you don’t have to decide what to do about your relationship this very second. Take some time to think first. My counselor suggested a year. Things are very fluid in the beginning and emotions are raw.
4. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater: Yes, sex addiction sucks ass. It’s not for every couple. However, some couples, myself included, make it. Not only that, like Devin and I, through hard work and determination, they come out stronger. There is hope although right now things seem so hopeless.
5. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. One day you’ll feel like total and absolute crap. You’ll hate the addict. The next, you’ll love them and feel like you can conquer the world. Heck, sometimes it’s not daily; it’s hourly. Hang in there, with time, those emotions can settle down.
6. Unfortunately not all addicts are immediately forthcoming. Many of them stay in some form of denial in the beginning. However, if the addict is willing to commit to their recovery/counseling, the denial can subside.
7. The program worked for me and I wasn’t exactly a willing participant…at least not at first. I walked into the rooms with a chip on my shoulder just wanting to be around people who’d been through what I’d been through. Not only were the people kind and receptive, they shared their experience, strength, and hope with me and helped me get back on my feet. I’m stronger now because of it. So, if it can work for me, it can work for you too. Attend at least six meetings. Each one has a different vibe, so be sure and give them a fair shot.
8. Don’t be afraid to try different ways to heal. Counseling, twelve-steps, journaling, yoga, etc. Whatever works, do it. And if it didn’t work the first time, go back and try it again later. You’d be surprised.
9. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone again. One of the biggest fears I had was reaching out to others for help. I didn’t want to be burden or a bother. In our program, there are people available for those in crisis for a reason. We get it. We want to be there for you. Let us.
10. Be patient and kind to yourself. Make some “me” time. You deserve it. If you need a nap, take it. If you want to take a warm bath, do it. Maybe you enjoy reading, if so, than take the time to so. The important thing is that you’re doing something other than focusing on the addiction. Give yourself and your brain a rest.
Do you tend to be a verbal gusher or are you more reserved?