It is not a surprise that I talk about addiction as much as I do. When you treat it day in and day out, one can't help but have it on their mind most of the time.
The interesting thing about addiction is that it really is a coping skill. I am not saying that as an excuse; it just is.
People, based on a variety of factors (internal and external), attach to an object. This object may be drugs, alcohol (or both), sex, work, spending, shopping, compulsive dating, falling in love repeatedly, or obsessing over one person; losing weight, gaining weight (or muscle), compulsively exercising, all of the above, etc.
Whatever the vice, there is always an underlying cause. In order to heal, we have to dive deeper than the vice: deeper than sex, or drugs, or spending, etc.
After all, the vice is the cancer that lives inside of folks. In recovery, we have to find the origin, and learn new and lasting techniques to recover forever.
Otherwise, we continue to risk losing everything; including our lives even more so than we already have.
At Namasté,we work with both male and females struggling to recover from long-term additions, as well as their partners and spouses. We find that all of them have some form of trauma; the addicts often have it in their past while their partners have undue trauma as a result of being betrayed, lied to, abused emotionally (and in other ways), and continually deceived.
One form of trauma that gets unduly inflicted on partners is an addict's anger.
When we are working with individuals with sexual addiction, we often see that they sexualize their anger. This is called Eroticized Rage. Individuals, in an attempt to master their anger at another, will may times use power and control, revenge, or other perverse means to create a sense of "equalling the playing field" when they are upset. A primary trigger for a lot of folks (besides their families of origin) is their partner, who often experiences the brunt of their eroticized rage.
For instance, if an individual feels unresolved angry, they may act it out sexually via porn, hook ups, one night stands, compulsive masturbation, or other sexual acts (some more perverse and deviant than others). Some may look at porn on their spouses phone, or have one night stands in places where they shared loving memories with their partners. Whatever the case may be, eroticized rage is not only hurtful and at times exploitive, it can also have damaging effects on a relationship.
Bill had a lot of unresolved anger at his mother for never protecting him from his abusive father. As a child, he felt like he was left to fend for himself. When he was old enough to ask his mom to protect him from his father's emotional and physical explosions, she said, "What am I supposed to do? You got yourself into this."
As an adult, Bill saw women as objects and used them for sex. He was rather dismissive of them after they gave him sexual pleasure.
When he finally married, he was overly critical of his wife and continued living a double life with one night stands. If he didn't feel his wife was being supported of him or listening, he would snap. Instead of telling her how he felt in a healthy way, he would create a fight then escape via chatrooms and one night stands for a false sense of validation.
It wasn't until Bill was in therapy that he was able to identify how angry he was at his mother for abandoning him in his greatest time of need. He realized that a lot of his anger also aimed at his father for being abusive, but because he didn't feel safe to express it to either parent, he projected it onto women in general by using them for sex, and ultimately his wife.
In therapy, he learned how to self soothe in a healthy way when angry, sad, or feeling helpless, as well as how to effectively communicate his needs to his wife. This along with him being accountable for his anger outbursts and committing to timing out when he was mad, led to an increased level of non-sexual intimacy in he and his wife's relationship.
Anger is a natural emotion that is often misunderstood, avoided, misused, or mishandled. Some people get addicted to feeling intense anger, and as a result, destroy a lot of their close relationships.
If you can relate to any of this, know that there is hope; you can change.
This week, take some time to notice if you are tethered in your anger. Is it a poison that you find yourself drinking? Are you punishing yourself and your loved ones by acting out aggressively, sexually, (both) in an attempt to master unresolved pain or discomfort?
If so, talk to a safe person, a friend, your group, your sponsor, a safe family member, and/or therapist to learn ways to deal with your anger more effectively. While it is a natural emotion that we all have, it doesn't have to be poisonous.
Remember, even with all your feelings, from the most challenging ones to those that bring you peace: YOU ARE WORTH IT.
Join Jenny Jo and Jill on April 25th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a Life Changing Partner Workshop for individuals who've lived with a spouse with infidelity or sexual addiction (or both). Investment is $200; $50 deposit holds your spot! Space is limited so reach out to us today! 801-272-3500; firstname.lastname@example.org.