Category Archives: strength

Not an Addiction?

(Note: This post will not be on my Facebook page. It may be too offensive.)One of the biggest names in Hollywood finally got caught – Harvey Weinstein is finally headed to rehab after years of sexual abuse of  some of the most famous leading ladies in Tinseltown (and beyond). This month’s Atlantic has quite a stinging criticism of the “sexual addiction” Weinstein claims he suffers from.

Author Dr. James Hamblin states, ‘ “Sex addiction” is not included in psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, as the American psychiatric establishment chose to regard sex differently from other addictive behaviors—largely in that there are no serious physical symptoms of withdrawal.’ I beg to differ. You see, a deep-seeded sexual addiction was the demise of my marriage.

Ex and his brother were first exposed to pornography by their father, who found a stash of girly magazines in a dumpster and took them home. Their mother was aware of the magazines’ existence, but did nothing about it. This was due in part to the antiquated belief that porn was just a part of who a man was. It was also due to the dearly departed Hugh Hefner, who brought pornography into the mainstream as something all ‘gentlemen’ should have free access to.

Granted, Hefner wasn’t the first one to publish photos women, not was he the first man to ever have seen photos like that. However, he brought pornography out into the public arena. His magazine, his clubs, his TV shows – all objectified women as good for one thing only. We have Mr. Hefner to thank, in part, for all the knock-offs of his publication – Hustler, Penthouse and thousands of porn websites.

Dr. Hamblin, even though there may be ‘no serious physical symptoms of withdrawal’ from a sexual addition, I can attest first hand that there are very serious consequences of sexual addiction – lying, blaming, stealing. Those are actions associated with any other addiction. And also, as with any other addiction, there is destruction – of the addict’s family, home life, relationships, marriage, and finances.

Ex is a sex addict. (I say ‘is’ instead of ‘was’ because once an addict, always an addict. One must keep the addiction under control.) He displayed all the signs of addiction including those specifically mentioned above. He actions ruined our marriage. He is remarried and is now someone else’s responsibility. I cannot say if he ‘suffered’ symptoms of ‘withdrawal’ since I was not around him.

I have talked many times to my sons about this issue. I have encouraged them a) not to ‘indulge’ in pornography, b) to be aware of the long family history of this, and c) to get help if or when they must conquer this beast.

I don’t expect Mr. Weinstein to ‘cured’ of his addiction by a simple stint in a luxury European rehab. He has to do an about-face and resolve to conquer his demons on a daily basis. He can’t do that alone. Only Christ we be able to help him conquer the beast.

Sexual addiction is real. It grabs people with its tentacles and squeezes the life out of them. It destroys families and communities. It fuels even more evil pursuits. If you are facing this demon or someone you love is facing this demon, leave me a comment. We need to stand strong against this addiction. Stay tuned. . . .

 

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Fall is Here!

Fall is the prettiest season here in MyState. People come from all over the world to visit the national park and October is one of the most crowded times of the year. The small towns near the national park host Octoberfests, Fall Festivals and go all out in decorating for the season. Once fall is over, the towns decorate for Winterfest, a delightful holiday season complete with lights, decorations and special events.

Fall is my favorite season and October is my favorite month because of where I live. I love the different colors of leaves. I love all things pumpkin. I love fall decorations. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. And my daughter was born in the fall. I’ve written before about how divorce is season in our lives – things are always changing. I’ve also written before about finding the new ‘normal’ in your life after divorce, about finding your happiness and moving forward in joy.

Divorce is a very difficult time in one’s life – especially if your spouse is the one who filed for the divorce. (In my case, I filed.) You can feel rejected, angry, bitter and depressed. It’s okay to feel those emotions. After all, we are emotional beings. It’s part of what makes us uniquely human. But don’t dwell in those dark emotional places. Find the places that make you feel accepted and happy.

If this is your first holiday season after your divorce, I understand what you’re feeling. Give yourself permission make this holiday season different:

1. Feel free to ‘bow out’ of huge family gatherings: You may not feel like doing the huge family holiday, especially if your ex will be present. Carve out a time for you and your children, or for you and a few close friends, to have a smaller holiday gathering. If your family gets offended, don’t worry about it. You are the most important person right now – your healing trumps everything else.

2. Make new holiday traditions: Bring the stress level down several notches. Do simple things like: go out to see holiday light displays, go out for hot chocolate and pumpkin pie, invite a few close friends over to help you decorate for the holiday, have a pizza and movie night with your adult children. Keep it simple. The less stress, the better.

3. Give back to your community: Volunteer at a women’s shelter, collect coats for the homeless, volunteer for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, collect donations for your local animal shelter. Giving back makes you turn outward instead of turning inward and feeling that destructive self-pity.

4. Be an ‘elf’: When you’re in line at Starbucks, pay for the person’s order behind you. When you’re at the grocery store, find an elderly person in the checkout lane and pay for their groceries. Be generous with your time and money. If you know of a single mom, pay her electric bill so she can give her children Christmas.

5. Put on your favorite holiday music and sing along at the top of your lungs! Who cares who’s listening?! Let yourself go! Be giddy and enjoy the spirit of the season!

Divorce can be dark and depressing. It can make the holiday season dark and depressing, too. Don’t dwell in that place! Even if you sing, dance or decorate just a little, at least you’re grabbing some of the holiday spirit. Start out small. One of my favorite post divorce activities was to turn out all the lights except the lights on my decorations – fall leaf swag, Christmas tree, etc. I would make myself a cup of hot chocolate and just sit in the silence with my dogs. It was so peaceful. Let peace reign in your heart this season. Get out and enjoy the sights and smells of fall. This is yet another season in your life. Breathe a prayer of “Thank you” and enjoy the whipped cream on your hot chocolate! Hugs, dear one! Stay tuned. . . .

The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest” caused a shipwreck that killed the main character’s enemies. One may feel that a divorce is like the tempest. Divorce is painful because it is the rending of two souls intimately joined by promise or covenant – that’s what the rings represent. Divorce can feel like a shipwreck, and all you are left with are splintered boards, broken glass and an oil slick on the water.

I have never endured a hurricane or a storm on the open sea. However, I have endured frightening thunderstorms in the Midwest and dust storms in Arizona. The tempest can take many forms – from thunderstorms whipping the atmosphere into a circular frenzy to mighty winds carrying dust into every nook and cranny and powerful storms over the ocean pushing the sea several miles inland. The tempest can also be the emotional storm that accompanies the ripping apart of a divorce.

I thought about this post this morning. I try to encourage others to walk through their divorce with courage, knowing there is light when you come out of the darkness. I know going through a divorce is not all butterflies and unicorns. I know it can be one of the darkest, ugliest and most frightening places you can be. I think only abuse and death are worse than divorce – at least for me.

Shakespeare’s character conjured up the storm for nefarious purposes. I know of One who calms the storm – for His glory. I can honestly say that if it had not been for my faith and the faith of two close friends, I would not have made it through the tempest. I also humbly admit that I did not ride out the storm as a saint. I rode out the storm screaming and shouting all the way – not out of fear, but out of anger and vengeance. I am not the ideal person to emulate during a divorce. However, I can proudly say that I am still standing, I have withstood the tempest because of the love of Christ.

The storm may be buffeting you all around. You may feel as if you do not have the strength to stand. Pray the prayer, “Help!” You will feel the hand of God calm the tempest and steady you. Have faith. Stay tuned. . . .

Fear Not

Fear is a constant companion for many people – fear of death, fear of life, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of intimacy, fear of loss, etc. Fear is paralyzing – it will cause you not to act, not to reach out to others, and not to seek something better for yourself. Life is too short to allow fear to dictate your actions and decisions.

What’s the worst that can happen if you make a wrong decision? You learn from it. People make wrong decisions daily – some get them into trouble and some are just a temporary sidetrack to their life’s course. While some wrong decisions have permanent consequences, most don’t. Eventually, you will come out of those consequences and be able to continue on. For example, I made some wrong decisions that got me into debt I could not handle. I had to declare bankruptcy. The bankruptcy has since been discharged, but it will stay on my credit record for a while. The bankruptcy will fall of my credit record in a few years. So what do I do in the meantime? Pay bills on time, don’t open new credit accounts, don’t be easy prey for predatory lenders. Learn from the experience that got me into trouble in the first place.

Fear causes us to stand still in one place and not move through our lives. Fear robs us of the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. Fear blocks our ability to have intimate relationships. Fear weighs us down with negativity. Fear hinders our desire to do and learn new things, to have new experiences and adventures. Fear likes nothing more than to keep us ineffectual and hidden. Fear tells us we are worthless and stupid.

Resolve to break away from fear! Just for today, do one thing you’ve been afraid to do. Call that lady you met at exercise class and go out for coffee – you may just make a new friend! Put in an application for that ‘ideal’ job you found online – it may change your life. Visit that Meet Up group that shares your same interests – you may find a group of kindred spirits. Visit the pet shelter and adopt that sweet senior dog or cat – you may give an animal joy in the twilight of their life.

Angels in the Bible were constantly telling those to whom they appeared to “Fear not!” God is not the author of fear and He knows fear is paralyzing. Step out in confidence. It’s okay to make a wrong decision, death is a part of life, and that person you will have coffee with may be just as intrepid as you are about making a new friend. Life is too short to allow fear to dictate your actions and decisions. Stay tuned . . . .

Everyone is Different

After ex’s initial foray into adultery, I began seeing a counselor. I saw her on and off for the next 10 years plus and into my divorce. When I finally divorced, she told me that on average it takes women two-and-a-half to three years to get over a divorce. It took me the better part of five years before I was finally able to let go of the pain of the divorce. It wasn’t until I saw another counselor for help with PTSD that I finally felt free of ex.

I remembered what the first counselor told me and I kept thinking, “Why can’t I get over this? Why is it taking me so long? She said between two and three years!” Sometimes, I felt hopeless. Then I realized that everyone is different.

For some women it may take less time to get over a divorce. For others, it will take longer. Why? I think your healing time depends on the size of your wound. One is able to recover from a paper cut much quicker than one is able to recover from a broken leg or major surgery. What happened in your marriage determines the amount of time it will take to heal from the divorce. If you experienced any kind of abuse – physical, mental, emotional, financial, verbal – it will take you longer to heal because abuse not only hurts your body, it hurts your soul. If you were in a co-dependent relationship, as I was, it will take a while to heal because you have to cut the chords that bind you to ex. You have to figure out a new ‘normal’. If you were betrayed through infidelity, it will take you some time to learn to trust again.

How long it takes you to heal from your divorce is up to you – no one else. There are three ways that I experienced (and continue to experience) healing from my divorce:

1. Support: I had two amazing friends who walked with me through the yucky years after my divorce. Cycle Dude was also there, but I kept as much of the yuck from him as I could. I did not burden him with how I was feeling. That was my baggage to get rid of before we got serious. I encourage you to find a support group or a couple of close friends who will be encouragers, accountability partners, and prayer warriors for you and with you.

2. Professional Help: Sometimes I just needed someone to tell me I was not crazy and would not run off the edge of the world. Sometimes I just needed someone to be objective, someone who didn’t really know me, to let me know it would be okay. Divorced women do indeed fight PTSD. Get help to heal.

3. An outlet: I journaled, I wrote poetry, I walked my dogs, I listened to music. If you keep everything that you are feeling bottled up inside of you, you will make yourself sick. He is not worth the price of your health. Physical activity is a good way to work off stress and anger. Getting your thoughts down on paper is a good way to decrease their negative power over you. Find something constructive to do with all that negative energy bound up inside of you. Let it out – but in good ways. You don’t want to hurt yourself (drugs, alcohol, overeating, not eating, etc.) or someone else because of those negative emotions. (Blogging in one of my outlets!) However, if you do find yourself in destructive behavior, please seek professional help immediately!

Remember that your healing journey is very personal – don’t let anyone put a timeline on your recovery. YOU are the one who is walking through this dark time. Dear one, know that you will come out on the other side of this a changed women (and hopefully for the better!). Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

 

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

One of my favorite Christian artists, Wayne Watson, sings a song, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”. The song is about an old violin that seems worthless until played by a master. I love the song because it reminds me that even when others think we are worthless, our Heavenly Father tells us we are of great value. After all, didn’t He send His only begotten Son to bring us back to Him? Zephaniah 3:17 says:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Might Warrior who saves. He will take delight in you; in His love, He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Enduring a divorce is painful, especially if you were rejected by your spouse and faced any kind of abuse. It can be such a dark place that only seems to get darker. There are days when you feel like you are so far at the bottom of the well, that you can’t climb out and you can’t see daylight. Dear one, know that in those places, Christ is with you. His heart also breaks at your abuse, mistreatment and abandonment. That’s not what He intended for marriage.

If you are in that place today, dark and dangerous, send up an arrow prayer of “Help me”. Don’t be afraid to venture out into a support group. There are many women who have been where you are. They have come out of the dark places and have experienced the grace and love of Christ. Even though you may be tempted because of a lack of confidence, don’t, don’t, don’t isolate yourself!

Sister, let me be your encouragement. You are an amazing woman! You have come this far, haven’t you? Continue to climb out into the daylight. I wish I could share with each one of you the amazing spring day here in Mytown. It is absolutely glorious! Today is the spring day all other spring days should emulate.

Take heart, my friend. The way seems dark now, but keep moving forward. There is healing in the journey. You are priceless! Stay tuned . . .

Storm Preparations

I just got an email from the emergency communication system here at Myjob. We are under a severe thunderstorm warning. So far, this storm has left quite a bit of destruction in its wake. A couple of my children live in the middle of the state and have already sent me photos of some of the destruction their areas received just a couple of hours ago. Fortunately, the local weather folks have been forecasting this storm for a couple of days, so we are prepared.

There have been times in my life when I wished I would have had a forecast of the storms to come. I would have been better prepared. I was not prepared for the pain and anger of the divorce. I was not prepared for the destruction it wreaked on my heart and soul. I was not prepared for the emotional, financial and mental destruction the divorce left in its wake. Fortunately, I had several great people in my life who walked through that storm with me.

Weather forecasters always tell you to be prepared when bad weather strikes. they encourage you to make sure you have an emergency kit in case the power goes out or goes out for an extended period of time. The American Red Cross also lets people know how to prepare themselves in bad weather. But how does one weather the severe storms in life?

1. Have a safe place to go: Seek out a good friend, a pastor or priest, a mental health professional, a support group. You will need somewhere safe to go, somewhere that you can open up and express the emotions stirring around inside of you. You will need to go somewhere where the support is strong.

2. Have an emergency plan: Divorce just doesn’t happen overnight – there are signs of the impending doom. If you feel like your marriage is headed south, I would encourage you to do the following: open your own bank account and make sure you have money in it, find legal help and make sure you are covered, obtain a credit card in your name only and resolve to use it only for emergencies, make sure you have a place to go if you have to leave quickly. Take care of yourself.

3. Keep emergency supplies on hand: Friendship is like a flashlight in that it can show you the way in the darkness. Be sure to have a good friend close by, someone who will walk through the storm with you. Keep a journal to document your feelings, thoughts and ideas. Give yourself plenty of grace because you will make mistakes as you weather this storm. Take some time to pray and be quite before the Lord. He will hear your cries and He will heal your heart.

4. Listen to warnings and take appropriate action: Do you dream about revenge? Are you close to cyber stalking your ex? Are you losing sleep or weight from your divorce? Divorce is an incredibly stressful time. It is a major life change. Pay attention to signs of depression, PTSD, anger and other negative emotions. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

5. Turn around, don’t drown: Give yourself grace as you weather the storms. You may not feel ready to step back out into all the activities you did prior to being divorced. It’s okay to say, “No” when someone asks you to do something. It’s easy to cover up emotional pain with busyness. Take the time to deal with the pain of the divorce and allow yourself to heal. Don’t drown in overwhelming busyness.

The weather continues to be crazy outside. I will spend this evening bundled up with my dogs – not going anywhere, not risking my safety – but taking some down time as I prepare to move and deal with some major changes in my life.

Dear one, the storms of life are overwhelming, especially when we feel like we are clinging to life as we sit on our rooftops, waiting to be rescued. Cry out to God in the midst of your storm. Give yourself grace and time to heal. There is a rainbow at the end of the storm. Stay tuned . . .