What is Intimacy?


41RBRdyNsuL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Closeness. Familiarity. Seeing into the depth of someone. Allowing ourselves to be seen.

Vulnerability.

Who are you intimate with?  A significant other? Your best friend? How intimate are you? Do you willingly share your heart, your secrets, your hopes and dreams? How are you at recognizing the intonations of their voice or mannerisms? Like me, do you find yourself saying “You sure know me, don’t you?”

Now think about God. Jesus. The Holy Spirit.

If you believe in God, how close are you? Or perhaps you’ve only thought of him as a distant deity.  Maybe you’ve never thought much about God other than to use the word as an explicative. So if I told you that he is intimately acquainted with you, what would you think?

My blogging friend, Rivera Douthit, answers all these questions and more in her new book entitled Intimacy : into me You see. Her presentation of the God who knows and loves us reveals a depth of intimacy that may come as a surprise. I loved the way she examined various areas of life and the corresponding ways God makes himself known to us. Rivera’s use of scripture and fabulous storytelling draws the reader in and offers a glimpse into the heart of God.

He’s not going to deny us the ability to recognize Him if we’re sincerely seeking. He knows our hearts and will reveal Himself in ways best suited  for us and our personalities.

That’s good news for folks who wonder how to find God.

Rivera’s book assures us of God’s love and desire for us. It also points us to ways for us to grow in intimacy in our other relationships as well. In addition, she offers thought provoking questions at the end of every chapter which guide us into considering how intimacy with God and others in our lives currently looks, and how it can become more.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rivera’s stories, and her heart for the Lord. Through Intimacy she offers us a peek into both. A very worthwhile read.

Order Here

 

 

Living With an Addict – Part 4


The unpredictability of life with an addict causes stress and inner turmoil.

 

We’ve been looking at the patterns of living with someone who suffers from an addiction, specifically in the area of sexual addiction. Often we can be lulled into a lifestyle of survival, minimizing, denial and isolation that becomes our new normal. We don’t actually know what “normal” looks like especially if we’ve grown up in these patterns of life and then married into them. The patterns become engrained in our soul and offer a familiar, even if destructive, way to relate.

Recognizing and examining these patterns is often the first step in becoming free.

  • Lack of unconditional love. True love is not about keeping a spouse happy, or trying to make them love us. Covering for our spouse’s indiscretions, making excuses for them, taking responsibility for their actions, and carrying the weight of the relationship and family is enabling their behavior, not loving them. A sexually addicted spouse may insist that if we don’t perform according to their particular desires, we are unloving, but sexual love is intended to be an outpouring of the love and intimacy we share; a joining together physically of what God joined in heart and spirit. Love never demands, it gives.
  • Rejection. When we don’t measure up to our spouse’s fantasy life or experiences with prostitutes, we are rejected. Even if we have been initially praised for creating a fulfilling experience for our spouse, it will never match fantasy in extreme or frequency and will often be disregarded. We may become the brunt of crude insults in private and even in public due to our lack of sexual prowess. We may be told that if we don’t do or like what they want, we should leave; or they will leave us.
  • Lack of respect. We lose respect for a spouse who is out of control and unkind. We lose respect for ourselves when we are simply an object for someone’s pleasure. That kind of prostitution leaves us feeling used, hated and dirty. If this person who we trusted with our entire being doesn’t respect us with consideration, we see no reason to care for ourselves. Often, our past abuse allows for this perpetuation of disrespect.
  • Lack of trust. Relying on our spouse feels like a dangerous proposition when they choose what pleases them at the moment rather than considering what is best for everyone in the family. Their lack of consideration, and hurtful or cruel behavior keeps us from entrusting them with our hearts and lives. Infidelity is an act of betrayal, and whether a spouse is emotionally involved in an affair, or physically involved with magazine pictures, computer images or women for hire, the betrayal leads to distrust. That environment breeds suspicion and causes difficulty in trusting not only the spouse involved, but anyone.
  • Depression. Slipping in and out of depression can be a daily situation often based on the mood of our spouse. Any affirming overture in towards us results in our hope that things are improving; that a better future waits just around the corner. One minute life seems full of possibility, but if something happens to rock our spouse’s fantasy world, they take it out on us. In devastation, we are without hope and despairing that life will always be hellish. We may feel a diminished ability to think or accomplish simple tasks one day, but then feel as if we can conquer the world the next. Bouts of depression becomes longer lasting with fewer good days between. Suppressed fear and anger cause us to rage at our children or burst into tears. We don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, or can’t sleep at night. Our emotions are out of control from pressing down all we feel in order to hold life together. Our children probably struggle in this way as well.

Next week we’ll talk about intimacy and sex with someone addicted to sex. The dynamics are unique and can be devastating.

Are there other patterns you have recognized or become aware of? How have you become free?
 
For further help or prayer, please leave a comment or email Laura privately 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