When the World Crumbles
by Jill Call, LMFT
Trauma shakes the very foundation on which you’ve built your life. Trauma is defined as a life-threatening event and, with betrayal trauma, it threatens the life you’ve built together. Your world can start to crumble when suddenly you discover your partner isn’t someone you know anymore.
As women, we mostly define ourselves in relation to others. “I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a sister. I am a friend.” Because we define ourselves by our relationships with others, betrayal trauma can have life-altering effects.
For example, you might think to yourself, “If my partner isn’t who I thought he was, then the life we’ve built together may not be real, and what about me is true anymore?” Or perhaps this one, “I don’t know him anymore. I don’t know myself anymore. And I don’t know my life anymore.” You can see the life-changing implications of...
by Jon Worlton, LCSW
LifeStar of St. George, UT
The creation of and commitment to a written plan of action is a critical component of the recovery process. Early in Phase II we ask each life star participant to take the time to think through activities and behaviors that are important to them, and that nurture their growth and development in the five important areas in each of our lives: our physical, emotional, spiritual, relational & social, and intellectual selves. Todd Olsen and Dan Gray point out in the Tool Box pamphlet that the Action Plan is a tool to help implement our goals in these areas in a “regular and organized daily program.” They also point out that, “Eventually, this routine will become a healthy flow, and will replace your old self-destructive behaviors.”
The most common mistake I see with the Action Plan is that we create a wonderful written plan, share it with a therapist, group, and / or loved one,...
It’s been said that worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere. Worrying, obsessing and controlling are illusions. They’re just tricks that we play on ourselves. We trick ourselves into thinking that by worrying, obsessing, and controlling we’re doing something to solve the problem. We’re tricking ourselves into using our time and energy in non-productive ways. Spouses of pornography addicts are at high risk for buying into the illusion of control and losing time and energy to worry and obsessing.
We need to let go of our worry and attempts at control.
Let’s consider a common example that spouses of pornography addicts experience. Cindy is afraid of her husband having a slip. She’s afraid of what that would mean for his recovery, and how devastated she would feel. In fact, she’s so afraid of this that she...
If someone steps on my foot I’ll probably say “ouch”. If they do it time after time I will eventually tell them to stop because they’re hurting me. The process of telling them to stop is where a boundary is set. I’m telling them their actions are hurting me and they need to stop stepping on my foot. I may even tell them what I’m going to do to avoid being stepped on, if they don’t stop.
At that point I’ve set the “don’t step on my foot boundary.” Notice, my actions aren’t aimed at changing them, but rather in protecting my foot, as well as our relationship. The other person will ultimately have to decide whether or not they’re going to alter their behavior, but at least I’ve warned them and I know what I’m going to do in order to protect myself.
Relationships are no different. At times our mate “steps on...
by Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S
Addicts are very easy to spot. They are those dirty, smelly, unkempt men hanging out under bridges, in front of convenience stores, in back alleys, and in all the other unsavory places that “healthy” people never go. Addicts sleep in the gutter. Addicts get arrested a lot. Addicts are completely estranged from their families. Addicts definitely do not have jobs. Nor do they have friends.
Addiction: The Reality
Only about 10 percent of addicts fall into the easily identified “low bottom” stereotype described above. The other 90 percent are people that most of us deal with in our day-to-day lives, often regularly, without our knowing about their addiction. This is because the vast majority of addicts work very hard to hide their problem, be it alcoholism, drug addiction, or a behavioral addiction like eating, shopping, gambling, or sex. The simple truth is most addicts are functional for long periods...
The Importance of Apology
It goes without saying that the most important elements of apology are sincerity and follow-through, i.e., feel what you say and “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.”
Research indicates that satisfying apologies are quite different for different people. An acceptable apology for you might not work for your partner and vice versa. Tell your partner what you need to feel reassured that the hurtful behavior is unlikely to recur. Of course, with repeated infractions, the requirements to feel safe will be greater.
You will find it impossible to apologize sincerely or effectively if you see it as submission. Sincere apology is never submission. In fact, it is one of the more beautiful of human interactions: reconciliation. The primary purpose of apology is to restore eventual (not necessarily immediate) connection. It is never to defend your ego.
Apology must not:
1. Sexual addiction shouldn’t be treated like a real addiction.
Compulsive pornography use has all the elements of an addiction. The rate and duration increase over time. People use it to numb out pain or medicate their emotions. It causes disconnection, denial and trauma in relationships.
2. If you’re active in church you’re less likely to have a problem with pornography.
That’s not the case at all. Utah’s population is more than 60 percent Latter-day Saint and it has the some of the highest pornography subscription rates in the country. I have several theories on that, one of which is that our culture is sadly shame-based. Shame is the driving force behind addiction.
3. When people get married, their pornography addictions will stop.
This isn’t true, because pornography addiction, which is a form of sexual addiction, isn’t about healthy sex. It’s not about an intimate...
Many years ago a car company, attempting to show the advantages of front wheel drive, aired a commercial showing an Alaskan dog sled team pushing its sled rather than pulling it. Of course, the sled moved nowhere and the dogs and sled were tangled in a chaotic mess. As a therapist specializing in the treatment of addiction and trauma, I frequently meet individuals being pushed from behind by their past experiences.
The problem with being pushed from behind is three-fold. First, they often don’t get where they want to go. Second, they often experience internal chaos, much like the sled and its dogs. Third, because the push is from behind, it is difficult to know what is pushing them. This then begs the question “what is pushing me and why does my life feel so chaotic?”
I would like to briefly answer this question and outline a framework that is helpful to me when working with clients stuck in addiction and trauma.
Within each of us are various...