How can I Recapture a Sense of Hope?

To be hopeless is to lose all motivation to do what we need to live. It is to be in a deep, dark well without a rope. And even if it were there, we wouldn’t have the energy to climb it.”

– Dr. Winfried Sedhoff

Having hope matters. It matters a lot. Anyone who’s lost their sense of hope can tell you that.

But hope is something that can fade out of our life when awful things have happened …

Or when we’ve hoped for far too long, and nothing seems to change.

Hope can start to drain away.

If this is your experience, then what steps can you take to start to recapture that lost sense of hope? Here are some suggestions:

1. First, take proper care of your physical needs. You need to have an adequate amount of nutritious food, sleep, rest, gentle exercise – everything associated with TLC – to be in a place to even contemplate pursuing hope.

2. Although you need some respite from responsibilities, and you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time with people, we actually need to be around other people. However, you need to be wise in who you spend time with. These should be people who unconditionally love you. People who love as you are, right now. You don’t need people who are critical, demanding, judgmental or lacking in empathy.

3. Work on changing your narrative. What do I mean by that? When bad things happen and we want to give up, our self-talk is often very negative. We find ourselves saying things like:

Nothing good will ever happen to me.”

I’m just not as good/ talented/ loveable as other people. I’m worthless, a failure, or inadequate.”

It’s my fault that X or Y happened. I deserved it. All of it.”     

Although these beliefs might feel right at the time, they are usually biased, highly skewed and extreme. It’s important to challenge and change these kinds of thoughts – so your thinking is more balanced, and reflects reality. What can really help is having a good friend (or counsellor) who can work through this with you, in an objective way.

4. Try to identify small things you can do to bring a sense of meaning back into your life. It can be anything at all … Doing fun things with your children. Going on a hike in a beautiful location. Walking on the beach on a bright sunny day.

It just needs to be something small that works for you.  

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up, and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come … Don’t give up.” – Anne Lamott

Love, Marriage and Fairy-Tales

 

until I knew what love was not

A few days before dying of ovarian cancer, the writer and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal submitted a moving essay to the New York Times. In essence, it was a love letter about her husband, Jason, a man with whom she’d shared the last 26 years. “He is an easy man to fall in love with.” she begins. “I did it in one day.

What Rosenthal penned was truly beautiful. She painted a picture of a man who was kind, caring, attentive, fun-loving, intelligent, artistic, a great cook, a great father, and so on.

Amy was 51. The couple had recently become empty nesters. There were new career opportunities. Exotic places to visit together. All the usual kind of wonderful things.

And then tragedy struck. A gnawing pain in her right side turned into a lethal diagnosis. Amy and Jason put their calendar away, and focused their attention on today.

Life-interrupted. A devastating story. But what lingers on is the depth of their love. Both Amy and Jason describe their marriage as having been a fairy-tale relationship. At least, as much as it is possible – in real life, and in the real world.

A fairy-tale relationship. A fairy-tale marriage.

Isn’t that exactly what we wish for ourselves when we tie the knot, and repeat the words “I do”?

We enter the relationship with hopes and dreams. We picture a long life of love and happiness. And that’s not so naïve. It’s the way things should be.

But what if there’s deception and broken trust? What if there’s betrayal and infidelity?

If this becomes our story, is it still possible to describe our marriage as a fairy-tale?

The cynic (or the partner who’s been traumatized) would probably say no. It is not possible. It isn’t even close to being possible.

In the childhood fairly-tales, love’s intense and magical. It usually culminates in a wedding, and some “ahhs”.  There’s no mention of the struggles, of the ups and downs of life. There’s no talk of the heartaches, or the trials we might face.

But being tested in the fire can reveal a genuine love. A love that’s plumbed the depths, and a love that has survived.

So perhaps this kind of love can be a fairy-tale as well …

Yet, what we really wanted was that other fairy-tale.

The Problem with Little White Lies

 

tell me lies.PNGI once heard the story of a guy whose wife divorced him after he lied to her about putting out the trash. He said he had when he hadn’t – and that was enough to tip the scales.

Over the top? Maybe. I suspect a lot of people would see it that way. But you might feel differently if you’ve been betrayed. Why is that the case?

If you’ve been betrayed then you’ve been deceived. And that betrayal was a serious breach of trust. It’s also very hard to recover from.

If you are the betrayer then you’re likely to think: “I never deceived you about anything else. It was only about sex. And you can understand why. I was afraid to be honest. I was afraid that I would lose you. That’s why I didn’t have the courage to tell you earlier.”

Yes, it makes sense on some level, and perhaps we understand it. But that doesn’t change the effect that lying’s had on us. And if you chose to lie about the really big, important things I don’t feel I can trust you with anything at all.

Rational and reasonable, wouldn’t you agree?

That’s why you must be honest, and absolutely honest. Even when it seems either ludicrous or petty.

The sex therapist, Rob Weiss, puts it this way[1]:

Relationship trust is not automatically rebuilt just because you stopped cheating, nor is it rebuilt because you managed to stay stopped for a certain amount of time. Instead, relationship trust is regained through … being rigorously honest about pretty much everything, all the time, from now on … With rigorous honesty you tell the truth and you tell it sooner. You keep your spouse in the loop about absolutely everything: spending, trips to the gym, gifts for the kinds, issues at work, needing to fertilize the lawn, and, on yeah, interactions she might not approve of. If your spouse would want to know, then you tell her. Period.”

So, after betrayal you can’t peddle in white lies. If you do, then prepare for the relationship to end.

[1] Weiss, R. (2017). Out of the dog house: A step-by-step relationship-saving guide for men caught cheating. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.

Am I Addicted to Sex?

It is hard for anyone to admit that they’re an addict, or even to admit that it’s hard to just say “no”. We all like to believe that we still are in control, and can choose to turn our backs on the habits we have formed.

And that is why it’s helpful to fill out questionnaires. They make us stop and think, and to look at the cold facts. The following can help if your partner or your spouse is willing to take stock of their attitudes to sex. Perhaps it has a grip that they must face and admit.

Note: The questions below were developed by Sex Addicts Anonymous to help individuals assess whether or not they might have a sex addiction.

Instructions: Answer the following questions by responding YES or No.

  1. Do you keep secrets about your sexual or romantic activities from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?
  2. Have your needs driven you to have sex in places or situations or with people you would not normally choose?
  3. Do you find yourself looking for sexually arousing articles or scenes in newspapers, magazines, or other media?
  4. Do you find that romantic or sexual fantasies interfere with your relationships or are preventing you from facing problems?
  5. Do you frequently want to get away from a sex partner after having sex? Do you frequently feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter?
  6. Do you feel shame about your body or your sexuality, such that you avoid touching your body or engaging in sexual relationships? Do you fear that you have no sexual feelings, that you are asexual?
  7. Does each new relationship continue to have the same destructive patterns which prompted you to leave the last relationship?
  8. Is it taking more variety and frequency of sexual and romantic activities than previously to bring the same levels of excitement and relief?
  9. Have you ever been arrested or are you in danger of being arrested because of your practices of voyeurism, exhibitionism, prostitution, sex with minors, indecent phone calls, etc.?
  10. Does your pursuit of sex or romantic relationships interfere with your spiritual beliefs or development?
  11. Do your sexual activities include the risk, threat, or reality of disease, pregnancy, coercion, or violence?
  12. Has your sexual or romantic behaviour ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, we would encourage you to seek out help.

A blog for partners of sex addicts

No-one expects to learn their partner or their spouse is addicted to sex or pornography. It’s completely devastating and it rips your world apart. You can’t believe what you are hearing; and you wish it wasn’t true. And how do you make sense of a discovery like this? It messes with your head. You just don’t know what to do.

You then start to wonder if your whole life’s has been lie. You had given them your trust and they cold-bloodedly deceived you. You didn’t think they’d do that. You thought they cared for you.

Also, if it was alcohol or drugs then you could talk about the pain. You could open up and share everything you’re going through. But a sexual addiction’s in a different category.

You know there would be judgement. Everyone would start to talk. You’d be attacked, not supported. You’d become the source of gossip. And that’s more than you can cope with when you’re dealing with this news.

I’ve talked to many women who’ve experienced this trauma. It’s completely isolating, and you feel alone and helpless. That is one of the main reasons we are setting us this blog.

We want to offer you support when there’s nowhere you can turn. We want to give you information, and walk this path with you. We will tell you what is normal; what the researchers have learned – so you start to feel empowered, and can find fresh hope again.