Quote of the Day

“I started calling that girl back.

The girl who loved living.

The girl who danced instead of walking.

The girl who had sunflowers for eyes and fireworks in her soul.

I started playing music again, hoping she would come out.

I started looking for beautiful moments to experience, so she would feel safe enough to show herself, because I knew she was in there.

And she needed my kindness and effort to come to the surface again.”

– S.C. Lourie

Finding the Right Kind of Counsellor to Help you Cope with Betrayal Trauma

“A partner affected by intimate betrayal experiences a level of pain that is indescribable. The hurt is so profound and complex, partners often wonder if it will ever get better.” –  Shira Olsen

You’re likely in crisis if you’ve learned that your spouse is addicted to sex or pornography. It’s not the kind of news you expect to hear!  

And you know that you need help … but you don’t know where to turn. You want to find a counsellor … but who will understand?  

When you’re in a state of shock you need a crisis counsellor who knows what it is like to be completely traumatized; not someone who will offer you generic counselling.  

The Kind of Counsellor to Avoid at this Time

In the initial weeks and months, you should avoid a counsellor:

– Who wants to look at how you might have contributed to, or played a role in, your partner’s addiction (It has nothing to do with you at all. It’s your partner’s issue, not yours.)

– Who wants to examine your childhood traumas, or explore your personal family history (This is not relevant at the moment.)

– Who believes your mood swings, times of craziness, and extreme distress are indicative of you being codependent, or having bipolar disorder, or having borderline personality (The extreme distress reactions you’re displaying at this time are normal in a person who is dealing with a trauma.)  

The Kind of Counsellor who will Help You at this Time

The kind of counsellor who will properly support you is someone:

– Who understands PTSD.

– Who understands that a sex or pornography addiction is an attachment, or intimacy, disorder.  

– Who repeatedly assures you that you’re not going crazy, and who knows you’ve been blind-sided, and are in a state of crisis.

– Who repeatedly affirms how committed, loving, faithful and caring a spouse or partner you have been.

– Who validates your feelings and emotions at this time (For example, someone who will tell you that it’s healthy to feel angry, desperate, anxious, frightened, mistrusting and confused.)

– Who helps you to listen to, and trust, your gut reactions (Such as the desire to protect yourself from further harm; the desire to act like a detective, and to uncover the whole truth; an unwillingness to listen, and to believe what you’re being told … and so on.)

– Who understands the nature, and the power, of triggers.

– Who can help you to find strategies to cope with high emotions (and someone who will help you to keep yourself safe.)

– Who helps you to set boundaries with your partner or spouse.

– Who helps you to effectively structure your day (so you can cope by doing the next thing … and the next thing.)

– Who insists that you make time for, and practice, self care.

– Who helps you to keep going, and to find hope again.

It’s the Little Things that Matter

Remember, today, that it’s the little things that matter.

It’s saying thank you to the sales assistant.

It’s taking the time to listen to your child.

It’s paying an unexpected compliment.

It’s checking in on a hurting friend.

It’s making the decision to do the right thing, even when you’re tired and you really can’t be bothered.

It’s choosing to be thankful when you’re feeling negative.

It’s doing one small thing which shows you’re going to love yourself.

Understanding Relapse

Relapse is commonplace when someone’s fighting an addiction; it’s something many deal with on their journey to success. Yet, Psychology Today[1] records that more give up addictions than those who stay addicted, or who constantly relapse. This should give us hope, and help stave off discouragement.

Also, relapsing is a process that’s predictable and patterned; and recognizing this can help us read the warning signs. That is, we often make decisions which can seem inconsequential … and yet they slowly move us towards a full relapse

Think of the relapse chain as a chain of decisions – made over a period of days, weeks, months, or even years- that together add up to a backsliding in one’s recovery. This makes it hard to say exactly where any one relapse begins.[2]

What are the Steps that Lead to Relapse?

The following links make up the relapse chain:

1. The recovering individual experiences a build-up of stress (related, for example, to problems at work, relationship difficulties, illness or death in the family, parenting challenges, financial difficulties, legal concerns, the resurfacing of painful memories and trauma from the past, and so on.)

2. This causes the individual to experience intense, negative and distressing emotions.

Note: This is because the build-up of stress also triggers painful core beliefs; beliefs like: “no-one will ever truly want or love me”; “no-one is there for me”; “I’m inadequate”; “I’m a failure”; “Nothing ever works out for me”; “I deserve to be rejected”; “I am going to end up abandoned and alone.”

3. When this occurs, the person immediately attempts to suppress the painful feelings (which means that they’re now living in a state of denial.) That is, instead of openly admitting their pain and distress, the person stuffs or buries these problematic feelings.

Note: Often the decision to deny and bury our pain is tied in to the faulty core belief that “others won’t like, accept, love, or approve of me if I admit to having negative emotions.”

4. However, burying their feelings doesn’t make them disappear; for all it does is push them down and hide them for a while. That is, the subconscious mind is still aware that they are there, and this leads to strong cravings as the pain and hurt is real.

5. The person starts to withdraw, and isolate themselves from others – for it’s too hard to act as if they’re “normal and OK.” Instead, they feel that they can’t cope with all the issues they are facing, and wear a mask that looks as if they’re happy and carefree. Hence, this deepens the deception, and it makes them feel alone.

6. Although the goal has been to block out and destroy their painful feelings, the net result is actually the opposite of this. That is, instead of quietening their emotions, they find that they’ve grown stronger. Thus, it’s understandable how this could lead to a relapse.

7. A complicating factor here is when they’re battling feelings – they aren’t paying attention to their real needs and concerns. (That is, the stresses they’d experienced in 1 above.) Hence, the problems are still there; the situation may have worsened; and now the person’s desperate but feels they can’t escape.

8. This knowledge leads to hopelessness and feeling trapped and powerless; but their old friend – their addiction – can promise some relief. They know that it’s effective and will bring them needed solace, and be a source of comfort when battling despair.

9. Because they have withdrawn from those who could help and support them, they find they’re now alone when they are fighting this strong urge. That is, there’s no-one there to tell them they are strong, and can resist this. There’s no-one to walk with them, to offer them their strength.

Note: This is one of the reasons why having a mentor, counsellor or belonging to a group like AA is so important for recovering addicts. 

10. The addict then relapses – and experiences relief; but then the tables turn and they feel terrible again. They wish they hadn’t fallen; they are filled with deep regret; and now they’re battling feelings of guilt, shame and remorse.

Some Thoughts on Preventing a Relapse

According to Washton and Boundy[3]:

One of the best ways to identify high-risk situations and prepare for them in advance is to imagine likely relapse scenarios.

– If you were to relapse, in what kinds of situations might your relapse occur?

– Describe how the situation might arise, where you would be, what you’d be doing, and what kind of feelings you’d be having. If you have difficulty even imagining it, review episodes from the past, when you were on the wagon and fell off, noting what high-risk factors were operating at the time.

– Once you’ve identified high-risk situations, go over the options that would be available to you today to minimize the danger.

– What is your action plan?

– Basic elements of it should be to leave the high-risk situation, talk with someone from your support team, and identify ways to lower your vulnerability immediately (eat, sleep, relax, exercise, go to a recovery meeting, meet with a friend).

– Role-playing these high-risk situations can be extremely helpful too.


[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200405/the-surprising-truth-about-addiction-0 Retrieved 13th April 2017.

[2] Washton, A.M., & Boundy, D. (2013). Willpower is not enough: Understanding and overcoming addiction and compulsion. New York, NY: William Morrow Paperbacks.

[3] Washton, A.M., & Boundy, D. (2013). Willpower is not enough: Understanding and overcoming addiction and compulsion. New York, NY: William Morrow Paperbacks.

Sometimes

“Sometimes

You’ve got to look

straight into the

tired eyes of the

woman staring back

at you in the mirror

and tell her that

she deserves the

best kind of love,

the best kind of life

and devote yourself to

giving it to her

all over again.

Worthy”

  • S.C. Lourie

Is this a message you need to hear today?

Is this a message you need to act on today?

You are worthy.

The Journey you are on Forges the Person you Become

“And they all lived happily ever after.”

At least, that’s what they had always thought.

At least, that’s what they had always expected.

But that wasn’t how this couple’s life turned out.

James and Priti both grew up in the same city. Their parents were good friends. The kids attended the same schools. And they started dating when they were only 14.

When she graduated high school, Priti moved away from home to study Law in a far-flung province.

But time and distance didn’t separate this couple, and five years later James and Priti were married. 

And so begins a wonderful fairy tale.

Then, three years later their first child was born. A boy with Down’s syndrome, and some health complications.

Then, two years later a little girl was born. A child who had autism, and some learning difficulties.

This was followed by three heartbreaking miscarriages. So much grief and heartache. So much sorrow and stress.

It takes a strong marriage to survive something like this … And one day James packed his bags, and walked away.

His wife was left alone to take care of their two kids. The fairy tale was over. There would be no happy ending.

But today, Priti works in a special needs centre. She counsels hurting parents who have children like her own. She offers them support, and she helps them to find courage. She helps them to keep going, and to find joy in the pain.

The journey you are on forges the person you become.

And Priti became someone who was beautiful and strong. A person with compassion who became a rock for others.   

“In the wounding you become the story that brings hope to others.” – Erwin McManus

The Problem with Little White Lies

I once heard the story of a man whose wife divorced him after he lied about putting out the trash. This was in the aftermath of an affair.

He said that he had done it when he hadn’t done it yet – and that was enough to tip the scales, for her.   

Over the top? Perhaps it seems that way. But maybe you would feel that it was understandable if you had been lied to, and betrayed, by your spouse.

Why the Strong Reaction?

If you have been betrayed then you have also been deceived. And the decision to betray you was a serious breach of trust. It’s also very hard to recover from.

In contrast, if you are the betrayer then it’s likely you will think:

But I never deceived you about anything else. It was only about sex. And you can understand why. Of course, I was afraid to be honest with you.”

And, yes, we understand it – but it doesn’t change a thing. It doesn’t change the fact that the betrayal’s wrecked our life. For, if you choose to lie about the big, important things, it means I cannot trust you with the smallest thing at all.

That’s why you must be honest, and be honest all the time. And even when it’s something that seems insignificant.

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 a betrayal you can’t peddle in white lies. For if you do, 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.

Ask Us: How do I Learn to Trust Again?

My name is Eleanor. Here is a summary of my story, and my question for you …

My husband was addicted to porn and sex which resulted in several online affairs and a couple of hooks ups. He admitted this to me about 3 years ago. I know he is genuinely remorseful and has been working hard to put all of that behind him. He is very open with me today, and will always answer any questions I have. He appears to be completely accountable, and seems to be genuinely committed to helping me recover, and to doing whatever is necessary for me to trust him again. Basically, he seems to be doing all the right things, and for all the right reasons. If you asked me if I thought I could trust him today, I would say “yes”, and mean it.

But here’s my problem, although I think I can trust him now, I am afraid to trust him. I’m always on my guard, and am watching carefully, so that I’m never deceived again. Can you help me with my issues around trust?

Hi Eleanor, Thanks for contacting us.

Wow! You’ve been through a lot. It’s not surprising that you are finding it hard to trust. Your husband has shown you what he’s capable of, and those are memories that you simply can’t erase. They’re painful, traumatic memories. So, it’s very normal to be on high alert when you’re in a situation like this.

From what you’ve shared, it sounds as if you are being very wise in checking out all the evidence, to make sure your husband continues to be the person that he appears to be. This is crucial; it’s a healthy thing to do.    

However, even if you’re trying to be objective and alert – and you it looks like your husband is trustworthy today – it’s almost inevitable that doubts will creep in, and you’ll find yourself playing the “What if?” game:

“What if he gets drawn back in again?”

“What if he meets someone that he can’t say ‘no’ to?”

“What if I relax, and I let my guard down, and he deceives me all over again?”

Those are very natural anxieties.

And how you answer those questions is important here – for it’s how you will quell your anxieties. Those answers hold the key to what you’re searching for (which is having peace of mind, and not worrying all the time).    

In summary, your ability to trust your husband again is not so much tied into predicting the future, or in trying to control how your husband behaves. For neither of those are possible.

But what is completely within your control is your ability to handle what the future brings. Trust comes from knowing you are strong enough to survive receiving devastating news. It comes from knowing you can trust yourself to ‘not go under’, to ‘find a way through’.

So, maybe, let’s stop here, and think about this …

– You survived it before, and you’ve rebuilt your life. You have strategies to handle the trauma and the pain. And you likely have a strong support system in place.

– There are also other people who matter to you. Your husband’s not the only person in your life. (And there are many other people who you matter to, as well.)

– Also today, you’re well aware that your identity and worth are not tied in to what your husband does. You are independent people. You each make your own decisions. You are valuable and loved because of who you are. It has nothing to do with your husband at all.

So, these are the keys that enable you trust.

You are betting on yourself, and not on him.

Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.”