Living With An Addict – Part 3


Any of these statements sound familiar?

  • I thought he was my rescue.
  • When our child was born, my husband became sullen, neglectful and harsh.
  • I found a box of pornographic magazines hidden in the closet.
  • By the third drink, he was rude and mean with cruel sarcasm.
  • He really hurt me the other night.

There’s a verse in the Bible that states,

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.    Proverbs 22:3

Often, we simply don’t see the danger.

We’ll continue the series on Living With an Addict by addressing some of the thoughts and feelings a spouse in that situation may experience. While based in part on my experiences, these struggles are common ones others have shared with me as well. When we finally see the circumstances as they truly are, we can take refuge.

Many women living with someone addicted to sex became enticed into the situation because of patterns already established in our lives. Most likely, we were violated in some way in earlier years. The fear of violation continues in these circumstances. Women in this position don’t feel safe; rather, we consistently sense an unexplained threat, a helpless state of being preyed upon. Rape is an attitude of the heart, not simply a physical exploit even though it is an act of one person’s will against another. Molestation and/or rape can occur within a marriage, within the thoughts or heart of a spouse, even without physical violence, though often physical abuse takes place as well. Any violation is just that, a violation. The fact that it is perpetrated by someone with the privilege of sharing sexual relations with us doesn’t make it any less of a rape. Force in any manner whether through verbal, mental, emotional manipulation or physical attack constitutes rape.

A spouse living in this setting does not feel safe, comfortable or protected.

Because of this manipulation, we are left feeling the obligation or duty to meet those sexual demands in order to alleviate the preyed upon threat. Perhaps if we can fulfill the expectations, we will not longer be a target. As Christians, we are told to submit and offer our bodies to our spouse. Very good and wise advice, unless it is within an abusive relationship. Jesus turned the other cheek to his accusers, but for those of us being used and abused that setting is like a drug to our addict. Often, we aren’t able to discern the difference between overlooking minor hurts or offenses caused by our spouse, and feeding a dangerous addiction by our obligation to make everything okay. Many times we are told that if we don’t do what our spouse demands, we are encouraging him to go to someone else who will.

All this lays a foundation for further abuse not freedom.

We begin to feel we must do whatever it takes to avoid conflict especially in the area of sex. So we compromise what we believe to be right, and we compromise who we are. We apologize for everything; we ask for nothing; we ignore our needs and any problems. Although we may think we are keeping the peace, we are an emotional time bomb ready to detonate. We fight for peace outside, but inside we feel tormented, suffocated.

We long to get away, but feel compelled to stay.

Deep inside, we sense that what we’re living in isn’t right or good. Our portrayal to the world, however, paints a different picture. If we confess our uneasiness with our life, we may be met with well-meaning platitudes that things will work out or something must be wrong with us to feel that way. Often, with the exception of our spouse, those who insist all is well do so because they haven’t seen the truth of what is happening. We’ve learned to minimize in order to survive so part of us believes them and thinks we must be crazy. When we don’t share the full truth, others aren’t able to help us, and we continue to internalize our pain, turmoil and exhaustion. Sometimes, even we don’t realize what things are normal or not.

After months of counseling with a pastor who saw the truth of my situation and who I trusted completely, I finally casually shared something in passing that deep down I had felt was wrong, but passed it off as my issue. When I told her, she was shocked and assured me that the circumstances I described were not normal or acceptable. I had grown oblivious after so many years of feeling the obligation to tolerate the behavior. How freeing it was for me when she spoke the truth about it. I was relieved and released.

The truth shall set you free…

Continued next week….

 

Where have you missed seeing danger? Have you felt tormented? Are there any areas where you have been freed by the truth?
 
For help or prayer feel free to send me a private message at laurabennet14@gmail.com
 
 

Living with an Addict – Part 2


Some signs of addiction are obvious.

But sometimes we become so accustomed to a dysfunctional life, that we can miss even the most obvious signs of trouble. I often felt like I was crazy because what I believed to be normal seemed like a fantasy; and the reality of my confusing life became familiar–a new normal.

Last week I shared some of the patterns I became aware of once I realized it wasn’t me who was crazy; it was the life I was surviving that lacked sanity. As I previously shared, most of these patterns can be related to any addiction, but my experience involved sexual addiction.

Someone addicted to sex probably:

  1. Covers their shame by belittling you. The cycle of shame involved in sexual addiction is so overwhelming that the addict may attempt to rid themselves of it by diverting it to their partner. This may take the form of mocking a spouse who is hesitant to participate in sexual activity by telling her she is prude, frigid or self-righteous, or labeling normal intimate relations as wild or erotic. The addict  tries to justify his behavior in his own mind by making it seem normal in comparison to a “prude” partner, or by portraying it as a shared fantasy with a spouse who is as obsessed as he. A spouse’s role as wife and mother may be mocked verbally, for example telling the children she’s crazy and not capable of caring for them; or with actions like forcing her to sit in the back seat of the car.
  2. Is Deceptive. Needing to cover up his addiction, the addict must lie–a fantasy life takes on reality in their mind so they themselves are deceived. They often excuse frequent extended absences by stating, “I ran into an old friend,” “I lost track of time,” or “I had to work late.” Naturally, those situations do occur, but if lies about money, friends, work hours, activities and broken promises happen repeatedly, it could indicate a problem. Sometimes the person my be sneaky or elusive. Rarely does he follow through.
  3. Is irrational. The longer the addict lives in a fantasy world, the harder it is for him to discuss things rationally. His fantasy objects do and say exactly what he wants so he simply can’t carry on a reasonable discussion about real life issues. He may jump from subject to subject due to his imaginary way of coping. Issues are rarely resolved in this confusing setting.
  4. Is obsessed in other areas. Hours in front of the television, sleeping, overworking, working on hobbies, playing sports, alcohol abuse or frequenting the computer late at night may be tell tale signs of addiction.
  5. Has consistent conflicts with other people. Someone at work, on the baseball team or in his circle of friends is a constant irritation to the addict. He blames every bad situation on someone else. Changing jobs, teams, hobbies or friends doesn’t alleviate the situation. Frequent moving or job changes may give the impression of a new start, but the problems remain. The person may be well-liked or charming, but relationships don’t progress to anything beyond shallow conversation. Friendships may be many, but detached and without substance. The addict refuses accountability.
  6. Avoids intimacy. To the addict, intimacy is a threat–what goes on in his mind must stay hidden.  They regard the normal need and desire of their spouse to be treated kindly, considerately and gently as strange, sick, demanding or emotionally needy. Often sex is used to “fix” conflict in relationship, or as an escape to avoid issues. Most addicts equate sex with love. They only desire physical satisfaction and insist that sex will cause intimacy; their spouse should prove her love with sex. They may say, “I need you to have sex with me to show you are committed,” or “If you really love me, you will do what I like.” The addict takes sex; he doesn’t share intimacy.

Next week, I’ll address how the spouse of an addict may feel as a result of these patterns. Life will not always be this way.

Perhaps these patterns exist in your home or your life…what is your experience? Do you know someone who needs help?
 
Feel free to comment or send me an email at laurabennet14@gmail.com
 

Helpful resources: An Affair of the Mind  by Laurie Hall; puredesire.org; In The Name Of Submission by Kay Strom (dealing with violence)

 

 

Living with an Addict


Addiction comes in many forms.

Typically, when we say “addiction” we think of alcohol, drugs or maybe gambling. But we can have addictions to shopping, eating, not eating, reading, television, gaming, Facebook, checking emails, surfing the internet, magazines, exercise, pornography, sports, scrap-booking or sex. Anything that grabs our attention, pulls us into a place of needing it, and dictates our thoughts or actions has created an addiction. The ‘something’ we feel we must have; we can’t go without, shapes our lives and the lives of those we live with.

For decades I was shaped by the patterns of living with someone addicted to sex.

Over the following weeks, I will share what I learned through my experiences. I hope to help and encourage anyone feeling despair over your circumstances–either because you live with an addict or battle with addiction in some area. Most of us do to some extent at some point of our life. Recognizing patterns and symptoms can alert us to get the help we need. Honestly evaluating our particular situation is the first step in breaking free from the bondage of addiction.

While many patterns relate universally to any addiction (and some by themselves simply show a lack of growth in character or maturity), I’m relating the following patterns primarily with sexual addictions. Someone who is addicted to sex probably:

  1. Needs to be in control. The women in his fantasies do exactly what he wants and enjoy his power; therefore, he expects everyone in his life to submit to his desires. Sex makes him feel powerful and in control. He may use anger or violence to control his family, and may not acknowledge their needs or feelings since he has no control over those areas.
  2. Lacks respect for women. The degradation of women due pornography and prostitution causes the focus of a woman’s value to be on her ability to perform sexually or contribute materially. This can be particularly devastating for women choosing to stay home to raise children. That job consumes her time and energy without financial profit, and can leave her feeling worthless, especially if she can’t fulfill her husband’s sexual fantasies.
  3. Is self-absorbed. In a healthy relationship, each person desires to meet the needs of their spouse whenever possible, but an addict focuses entirely on meeting the desires of self regardless of how valid or pressing others’ situations may be. Family needs may be ignored. Someone addicted to sex can fulfill their needs almost anytime, anywhere because much of the stimulation and satisfaction comes from mental images. This constant, instant gratification makes it nearly impossible to put another person’s needs first.
  4. Uses manipulation. In order to get his way or keep his behavior hidden, the addict will often use whatever means necessary no matter what it costs. He may be kind and understanding one minute, making promises or begging forgiveness, then angry and violent the next. He may use guilt, self-pity or even whining to manipulate his family. In her book, The Dance of Anger, Dr. Harriet Lerner states, “If women are constantly made to feel guilty, they remain ‘in their place’ and are ineffective.”

To be continued…

It may be a grueling process to redefine who you are apart from the impact of these patterns, or to allow yourself to be extricated from a life of addiction, but there is hope.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Galatians 5:1

 
Have you experienced any of these patterns either as an addict or living with one?
 

If you need help or would like prayer, please feel free to comment below or send me a private message at laurabennet14@gmail.com