Panic, hurt, anger, fatigue, and chaos all take their toll on us as we go through this process. Below are quick helps that can help calm and quiet us from these challenges. These I learned from my incredible therapist.
30 Seconds: Mind-Body Bridging Technique (in a nutshell): when an unpleasant/negative thought comes, do not analyze, do not let it linger. Simply say to yourself “that’s a thought” (and a thought is merely a synapse between two neurons anyway) and move on! No analyzing, no guilt, nothing. Just acknowledge it’s a thought and continue forward. This works well for triggers, hurt, anger, etc.
1 Minute: Awareness Activity: intently tap into your senses— listen to the air conditioner/heater run; feel the book your fingers are holding; look at how beautiful your children are; smell what surrounds you; taste what you’re eating…instead of listening to your constantly cycling thoughts. It will calm you.
2 Minutes: Mapping Exercise. For 1 minute furiously write in a circle on your paper what the biggest worry/stress is to you and outside the circle all the thoughts that are in your head. No regulating thoughts. Immediately write down each one. Stop after 1 minute. Flip the paper over. For the next 60 seconds, while focusing on a specific noise (i.e. the clock ticking) write in a circle what the biggest worry/stress is to you and calmly write outside the circle why it’s a worry/stress. Don’t lose track of the sound as you write. This is slower, and makes our bodies more relaxed. It is called a “Come to Your Senses Map” because it often brings a lot of clarity to our minds.
5 Minutes: Live in the moment. i.e. play with your kids and be present there. All of your thoughts and energy put into what you are doing. They will probably make you smile.
10 Minutes: Journal. Unload all of your thoughts and feelings onto paper. Often that relieves us of them and we are able to feel not as bound up. It also at times renders more clarity to our situation.
15+ Minutes: Take time to do something every day to nurture yourself: read, ponder, exercise, shower, eat sitting down, paint your nails, do your hair, get dressed, put makeup on…whatever helps you show yourself that YOU matter. This can be very difficult to do, but it is important.
Varies: Talents/Hobbies: use your talents to help lighten your burdens; take time to learn something new; re-discover yourself and what interests you; find out what brings you fulfillment and happiness.
Great article: What Should I Do When My Spouse Relapses?
Support for You
I was nervous to go to a Women’s Support Group, but knew I desperately needed some help. I cannot say enough about how positive and uplifting the group is! The purpose is to be with others who can understand from where you are coming in a very personal way, and who can help empower each other. The Spirit is present in those meetings, and there hasn’t been a meeting where I haven’t walked away with some new encouraging thoughts or inspiration. I find a great deal of relief in being able to share my own feelings in that setting. It really helps to get them out so they don’t fester.
- Find a Women’s Support Group (in person or by phone)
- Find a trusted person to confide in (family member, friend, Bishop, etc.). Be prayerful as you choose this person. It is true what they say: whether you experience a negative OR positive event if left unshared it will become negative energy in your body.
- Find a qualified therapist. I wish I would have done this sooner. We thought we could do it on our own and save money that way, but going to a qualified therapist in which we both felt confident helped us move leaps and bounds in BOTH our recoveries. Our therapist was able to dig deep with both of us and help us replace skewed perspectives and facilitate healthier habits.
Other areas of support:
Supporting the Addict
Our loved ones have developed unhealthy emotional bonds. They go to pornography to cope with challenges in their lives. Our challenge is to take time, especially when it’s difficult, to build an emotional bond with them, so they come to us when they are B.L.A.S.T. (bored, lonely, angry, stressed, or tired) instead of looking for outside fixes/numbing. This is something we have to apply together. The more you are open with him, the more likely he will begin to open up to you. This is a progression and will take lots of practice. When you are able, take time to embrace each other and confide in one another—this builds trust and helps us feel safe with each other.
Pray and fast together. Pray daily for your spouse to see women as God see’s them.
Take time to study together. Learn about the effects of pornography together. Share scriptures and other good resources that uplift you or give you greater understanding.
Be purposeful about not shaming/punishing the addict (they already feel enough of that). Focus on onward and upward. Try hard to help him feel valued and appreciated. It may start out small, but it will grow.
Serve your spouse. During this time you may feel they aren’t the ones that deserve serving; or you may be so exhausted emotionally you feel you cannot extend that service. But I promise if you serve them, you will feel the Savior’s love for them. You will see them as they can be. They are of worth. And we need to feel that now more than ever. We need not allow our love to grow cold for them.
Brainstorm together different things he can do when he gets burned out (at work, at home, etc.), so when that time comes, he knows he has options. Ideas could include: a quote book he enjoys, a hobby, uplifting music, a game, a short walk, etc.
Focus on the positive together. We have created and internalized several analogies that have special meaning for us and where we want our marriage to go. It helps to have something to visualize. Some of these are included in the “Couples” tab. It is also encouraging to talk about our goals together.
Allow your loved one time to form good, deeper relationships with others: his parent(s), his siblings, etc. This will help to bring more meaning and joy into his life.
The cycles in our head make it nearly impossible to function, let alone feel the calm and peace we need to move forward. Getting those thoughts and feelings out of us is how we help ourselves function and begin to heal. Utilize this as often as needed.
This one is so huge, it has its own section. Please refer to “Support for You”. As much as you may want to, you don’t beat this alone. Just saying things out loud gives us more clarity oft times. Do something today to reach out for support!
Using your talents is a great healer. For example, I took piano lessons for several years but with children I found it hard to find time to practice much. When my world changed because of my husbands’ sexual addiction, I poured my heart into playing and it brought relief, satisfaction, and healing to me. Your talent(s) can do the same for you!
Anger is a stage all of us have to pass through in relation to our loved ones addiction. I thought I might be able to skip that one, but boy was I wrong! However, as I started keeping a gratitude journal of at least 3 things daily, my heart was softened, and I felt the tender love of a dear Father in Heaven. When I was able, I even started to include one thing about my husband I was grateful for to help myself focus on the positive.
When you’re stuck in a rut or in “one of those cycles” it’s hard to see clearly. Take time to “think clearly”. Pull back and ponder the eternal perspective. “Look up” figuratively and literally. Pray for God’s perspective.
When life gets really rough and you feel as though you might explode because of all the pressures and turmoil around you, it’s time to take a step back and breath. Depending on what helps you to feel renewed this could mean: an hour to go get your hair/nails done; an afternoon shopping with friends; a weekend at a hotel by yourself or with friends; getting a massage; taking time for a longer workout; etc. My therapist referred to this as how our husbands “pay back where it really hurt”. Our image, our self worth, and our identity were all shaken, and this can help us to feel more real again. There are times though that you cannot drop your roles so quickly. During these times, have an actual place (somewhere you’ve been before and holds special meaning for you) to go to in your mind without distractions for at least 5 minutes. This can soothe, calm, and rescue you.
What would you tell a dear friend who’s almost exactly like you: similar upbringing, similar kids, similar husband, and in your same situation? Sit down and write that letter to her (under the “Stories” tab I have shared mine). It is also helpful to recognize how far you’ve come, instead of always focusing on how far you have yet to go. Ponder and make a list of things you’ve conquered or how you have changed along your path. You will likely be surprised at your progress.
We all find inspiration in different ways: music, quotes, books, nature, art, specific places, etc. Quotes happen to be a huge inspiration for me. I hung a quote on my wall that hit home to me, and it gives me strength every time I see it. It reads: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. Let’s surround ourselves with meaningful inspiration! After all, “Life is all about how you handle Plan B.”