Thursday, September 1, 2016

Saying the Right Thing

from Google
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.
from Google

Do you tend to be a verbal gusher or are you more reserved?



43 comments:

  1. Those are very wise things to tell someone. They need to hear it.
    I'm reserved. That probably doesn't surprise you.

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    1. Thank you, Alex. Actually, I'm a bit surprised. You're very social online so I kinda figured you'd be that way in real life too.

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  2. Me? I'm quiet and reserved. You know that. :D

    All kidding aside, it depends on the subject. If I'm being serious and trying to make a point, I shoot for as little information as necessary to keep the point clear. If I'm ranting, all bets are off. Sometimes I keep going just to amuse myself.

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    1. Ah yes, our very quiet and un-opinionated Monkey...exactly who you are. Not!

      I think I'm in your court too. It's hard to stay quiet when I'm passionate about something. It's a fine line though because I know if I say too much, it can be overwhelming to the person listening and then they won't remember a darn thing I said in the conversation, so then what was the point of it all? Now, politics and religion? I stay quiet around people I don't know. It usually just turns into name calling if people aren't informed or willing to listen to each other.

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    2. Heh, yes, yes it does. But that's part of the fun.

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  3. All good things for them to hear indeed. It depends on who or what I'm talking about for me. If it is an idiot I'm talking too, see ya. If it is something like shoes, see ya lol but I can yap if need be.

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    1. Yes, it definitely depends on the subject. If it's one I'm interested in, I can talk for a long, long time. If not, peace out!

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  4. It takes me a while to warm up to people.

    But with people who are going through issues (which is most people, to some extent), sitting back and letting them vent is important anyway. We all have a tendency to want to offer advice, which is good, but people with problems want to be heard.

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    1. Normally, I'm the same way, Nasreen. It takes me a long time to warm up to people in "regular" situations. In the program though, I force myself to be more vulnerable with people because I've walked their path, I understand how difficult and scary sex addiction can be. Usually, I'm very quiet until I know someone. I agree with you, I think many people are going through something in their life, even when they aren't showing it.

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  5. I've discovered I'm not a very empathetic person, which makes tips like these really useful. I tend to seize up when someone is emotional around me, and the only thing I can think of to say is, "That sucks, Dude." I'm glad there are people like you out there to counter people like me.

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    1. I used to think I was empathetic. That's what I told myself anyway. Then I went through this. Then I learned what true empathy was. Funny how life humbles a person, huh? I'd be all, "Wow, yeah, that really sucks for you. What can I do to help?" But kinda really hope they'd not really need anything. Now though, I'm right there. :)

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  6. I'm a gusher...I admit it freely and an open book. I think your words of wisdom helps many people not only for people who are dealing with a spouse who has a sex addiction but any addiction. The biggest need is, i think, a listening empathic ear that one can lean on. Thankfully you and your husband both recognize the issue and are open to counselling and other forms of treatment. What do the spouses do when their spouse doesn't want to take the treatment or feel they have no issue?? Have some stayed in the relationship? I would think it would be hard for them to stay if their partner doesn't want to admit to the problem.

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    1. I love when the person on the other end of the phone is able to gush. If I can bring up one of the points above and they are able to respond to it, it makes my day. Truly. You'd be a perfect fit for me :) I think having both people in the relationship open to counseling/treatment is ideal but it doesn't always happen, unfortunately.

      I've seen all kinds of situations. I've seen people who stay with active addicts. I've seen people who put time limits on the addicts (they may say they'll stay for a year to see if they can get their recovery in order and if not, than leave), and I've also seen people leave right away if the addict doesn't jump right into recovery and stays in denial for too long. I think each person, each couple, is unique, so does what's right for them.

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  7. I'm not a gusher. Over informing someone can be worse than no information at all. It can make a person feel trapped, like there are too many options. They can't figure out what to do.
    If I need to help someone, I try to find out where they are and help figure out a first step. Just a first step.

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    1. I agree, Andrew. I like to feel out each person. If they are receptive to listening, I'll give out more information. If not, I don't overwhelm or overload them because than what was the point? When they call, they are already frazzled, no need to make things worse.

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  8. Hi Elsie - I'm not a gusher, but probably will offer advice - I'm trying to tone that down and ask questions rather than answer things that haven't been asked ...

    So these thoughts and tips are great advice for all of us ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I would've pegged you for a gusher...but that's only because your posts are so informative. I think the reason I like to give these basic bullet points is because when people are new to the program, these are usually the things they have zero idea about.

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  9. I too am guilty of being the gusher in many posts. Especially if it is a ranting and venting kind of day. I am finding since my son entered recovery I am having less of them. Maybe I got it all out while he was actively using. I definitely love the cross talk ideas you listed here!!!! We sometimes cross talk in NarAnon especially if someone new is there and needing to hear the right words!

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    1. My posts used to be a mile long. I'm talking easily 700-1000 words long on a good day. And I used to post several times a week. Whew, I had a lot to say back in the day. :) I'm glad you're having less of those days too. That's good. Our meetings sometimes had only three in it, so we were able to be a bit flexible with cross-talk. If it got bigger than that, we went back to the rules of no cross-talk to make sure everyone was heard. But, this list is really what I use when someone calls me during a crisis, they usually feel so lost and I just want to reach through the phone and hug them. :)

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  10. If it's something I'm knowledgeable or passionate about, I can be a gusher. Every single possible thing will hit my brain in that instant, and I'll have a hell of a time trying to figure out which words and pieces of advice to let past the crushed velvet rope that is my tongue. So... I like your list idea, so as not to overwhelm. I think that would work well for someone like me.

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    1. The crushed velvet rope that is your tongue = gold, my friend, gold! I hope you use that in a book one day. That was awesome.

      I've seen you be a gusher about some of my writing. It's definitely served me well. I still think you should write a book for someone like me, Bryan. Maybe if I nag you enough you'll do it. Maybe. One day.

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  11. I can be a gusher, yes. But I try not to. Sometimes I think I should write a book but then I wonder who would be interested so I don't. lol

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    1. Oh my gosh, JoJo, if you want to write a book, write a book! If it's in your heart to do one, do it! Who cares if no one but you and your hubby reads it? I have one that I can count on one hand how many people read it, but it felt so good to write it! I say go for it!!

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  12. Usually Im reserved (I prefer) but sometimes amazing me all things I can say :)

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    1. I bet you amaze yourself all the time, Gloria! You're one smart lady :)

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  13. In truth, I can be quite silent, until someone makes the opening move. Then it can be blah-blah-blah unless I reel it in.

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    1. I picture you as being a gusher when it comes to politics and music. Especially music...from say the 70's.

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  14. I am more reserved, and waiting for things to progress to the point where I can share personal information. Thanks for the note, specially being kind to oneself ~ Have a good weekend.

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    1. That I could see, Grace. I feel like your expression is through your art, your words. I'm now a big believer in taking care of yourself. I didn't realize the value in it until the poop hit the fan a few years ago. Now I understand how valuable it is.

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  15. Having those items listed out probably keeps you from gushing to much. Depending on the subject, I can be a gusher.

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    1. They do keep me in check somewhat, Diane. When I'm rambling too much, I can look and see, wait...I need to stay on course and make sure they know about this instead of that because that isn't as important as this.

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  16. I think if I had this issue you're the one I'd want answering the phone when I called. All such wise advice.
    I'm possibly the most reserved person on the planet. Although I do gush if someone gets me started on Game of Thrones LOL.

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    1. That's very kind of you to say, Julie. I appreciate that. One of my kids just finished binge-watching Game of Thrones. Again. So we've been talking about it quite a bit in our house lately. Great series!

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  17. Te envio mi blog de poesia por si quieres criticar.
    Gracias
    http://anna-historias.blogspot.com.es/2016/09/vacaciones.html?m=1

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  18. I am very reserved with those I do not know but a gusher with those I am close to, I have been told I am a good listener and I don't judge well I tried not to judge and if I do judge I keep those thoughts to myself as saying things like you are an idiot and need to grow up are not helpful so those things I think but don't say

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    1. A great listener is hard to find. Most people think they're great listeners but then really end up talking about themselves instead. Good for you for not being one of those people. And also for not being someone who judges others. I learned that the hard way.

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  19. Hi Elsie,

    Having a list such as that is indeed a valuable set of positive reinforcements. I know there's a fine line from when I worked with mental health charities. I had the tendency to become an "emotional sponge" and had to work through not taking on too much of somebody else's issues. I know that the person is the expert on their feelings. To get them to try to understand their feelings better, I do know that the gift of empathy can be such a powerful force.

    I can be both a gusher and very reserved. I'm rather complicated, methinks.

    Thank you for such a thoughtful article, Elsie.

    Gary :)

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    1. Hi Gary! I hope that you're doing well. I was thinking about you the other day. Hubby and I went to the dog park and saw a doggy that looked vey much like Klahanie. It reminded me of you both. I can relate very much to what you said about being an emotional sponge. When I first started to sponsor people, I was the same way. I took on their problems as my own emotionally. It was hard to separate myself from them in the beginning. I had to learn to still be empathetic without getting too wrapped up in their emotions. I'm thinking you and I are both rather complicated, Gary :)

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  20. I gush and gush and gush. Seems the more fragile the other's situation, the more I blather. Oy vey. Being caring is tough. Smiles. Your guidelines are fitting for everyone, regardless of the situation. Love ya, babes.

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  21. As you know, I have LOVED watching you grow and grow and grow as a writer. You are a writer and a darn good one at that. And it's not because you had good editors and people to help you. That's good and all, but ... YOU had to do the work and learn to edit and write.

    That was all you, babe, and well done at that.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.