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Bill W. (No, not that one!)

SFYB Staff Writer

You Might Be A Sex Addict If…

By: Bill W.
I get a kick out of those lists you find online. You know the ones. They always start with: “You might be a (whatever) if…”
In keeping with my series of posts on sex addiction, I thought I’d create a list of my own.
You Might Be A Sex Addict If... Click to Tweet

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You Might Be A Sex Addict If….

* you look for sexual release and distraction when you’re stressed. We often act out when we’re bored, lonely, angry, afraid, or want to avoid thinking about the personal lines we’ve crossed. We worry that others have better jobs, prettier partners, or nicer cars. Most of all, we worry about others judging us if we lack these things. This kind of low self-esteem causes us to act out and find a way to relieve the pressure.

You Might Be A Sex Addict If...

* you use your sexuality to control other people by appealing to their emotions and hinting to get your way, rather than approaching issues directly.

* you become so involved in fantasies and romantic obsessions that you’re unable to function effectively in other areas of your life. Maybe you’re preoccupied with visiting the massage parlor after work or obsess about rushing home to your computer to watch porn. Maybe random people on the street ignite hours of relationship fantasies.

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* you’re in relationships with people who seem unreachable or unable to give you what you need. Every time a relationship ends, you dive into another with an unavailable partner. Sometimes you have a new relationship waiting in the wings (just in case). Other times you try to carry on both liaisons simultaneously. In any case, it’s always more of the same.

* you engage in sex-related activities or romance, despite wanting desperately to stop acting out and to live a quieter, less-demanding life.

A_chasing heart

* you only see the “perfect” aspects of your partners and ignore all the red flags. Then you blame them for not measuring up to your perfect (yet completely unrealistic) “vision” of them.

* you’re afraid to become involved in an intimate relationship. This proves you’re no longer romantic or sexual, which is a sure sign you’re getting better, right? Not.

 

The bottom line is this. If sexual/romantic thoughts, acts, or fantasies are messing up your life, you need to take a good look at why this is happening to you.

There are fellowships and therapists out there happy to help. The first step is up to us.

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lisa

SFYB Staff Writer

Codependency: What Goes Around Comes Around

By: Lisa

I consider myself fortunate.  For all their faults I had two parents who loved me when I was growing up and were not addicted to any substance.

In fact, alcoholism as far as I know is not a genetic thing on my side of the family, so I must have “caught” it from the postman!  And luckily enough, I won’t be knowingly passing it on to my kids anytime soon.

My husband’s mother died from alcoholism, and sadly it seems my husband’s brother is an alcoholic too.  He has 3 children. Yikes.

what-goes-around-come-around

Yesterday I went to see my husband’s stepmother (hubby’s dad died 3 years ago). She lives out of my city, so I haven’t seen her for 3 years.  She is not related to me, but I made the effort to go and see her because I have always liked her and got on well with her.

I felt at ease the minute I arrived, and we chatted easily for 3 hours, I could have stayed longer. I was teary at times (hid it well), as she has known my husband a lot longer than I have.  She knows all too well the crap he had to deal with in looking after his alcoholic mother, while his two other brothers AND HIS FATHER pissed off and left him to it.

STOP ADDICTION ANIMATION 3

For some reason she was reminiscing about this fact and saying how she felt sorry for him (my stomach is churning as I write this).  I feel sorry for him too, and this is what some of his/our therapy is about at the moment.

Then she finished off with: “But then he met you” (I want to cry again NOW). Oh, crap. Little does she know I am an alcoholic and have been making his life a misery for years!! (not on purpose of course)

I am not accepting all the blame here, but the poor guy has been reliving his teenage years of an alcoholic in the house THROUGH ME!  I felt and still do feel sick at the thought.

A_codependency

But you know what? This is what we have learned in therapy.  Unwittingly, you partner with someone, who in a sick, warped kind of way, is often a mirror image of your wounded Self from childhood (simply put in non-therapist flash lingo). This way, when the time is ‘right‘, (ie, the crap hits the fan, and you hit rock bottom) you are faced with your demons all over again and have to retreat or grow (nice speak for separate or stay together).

They are all laid bare for you to confront. If you manage to hang in there, you can learn to grow yourself within the relationship and deal with the demons that have been lurking forever.

Sick, eh?  This is part of the human condition apparently.  Weird- weird -weird.

So here is my hubby, faced with having to change all the old coping mechanisms he learned when he was a child, dealing with his drunken mother.  Appeasing, hiding, fixing, being sly, etc., etc., etc., all to “keep the peace.”

A_healing

But those old chestnuts weren’t working in our little modern family. I won’t tolerate appeasing and deceit.  And he won’t tolerate me hiding in a bottle and becoming reactive and spiky.

So, funnily enough (except it hasn’t been funny at all, more like shear hell!), we have both had to learn different ways to confront our demons and change our behavior to make the relationship work.

And it is through this ugly process that the healing takes place.  But only if you are brave.  It seems there is no way AROUND, only THROUGH.

OH, BUGGER!!!

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Laura Stamps

SFYB Staff Editor

The Best Alcoholism/Codependency TV Clip EVER!

By: Laura Stamps

In 1977, NBC gave Richard Pryor an hour in prime time to do a variety show of his choice. “The Richard Pryor Special?” broke many of the rules of television comedy. The new series premiered on May 5th and ran for only four episodes. Pryor had endless problems with studio executives (as you can imagine) and finally quit.

But many of the sketches became classics. This is one of them. In this skit Pryor plays Willie, a hopeless alcoholic. The famous poet Maya Angelou plays his codependent wife. Pryor asked Maya to guest on the show and gave her complete freedom to create her character and write her lines. What she delivered was a monologue no one will ever forget. It encompasses all the anguish and conflicting emotions every codependent spouse experiences. This is one of her rare acting appearances and a true gem.

Also, look closely at the bartender. It’s a young John Belushi. He had just joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 1975 and wasn’t well-known yet.

Enjoy the video. This skit became a television classic, and one you’re not likely to forget. Powerful stuff!

 

 

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The Best Alcoholism/Codependency TV Clip EVER!

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Allie Holbrook

SFYB Staff Writer

Watching Your Loved One Fall

By: Allie Holbrook

A dear friend of mine is waiting for her alcoholic husband to hit rock bottom.  She emails me regularly with updates:  “Last night he vomited all over himself and then passed out”, she writes, “and today he missed work because of the hangover.  Maybe this will be his wake-up call?”.

It never has been yet.

The partners of addicts take on the responsibility for the addiction.  They try and outrun the addiction by orchestrating cross-country moves (known, in addiction parlance, as “a geographical”), they offer to impose moderation regimes, they rage and bargain and plead.

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As the partner of an addict, one tends to be deeply invested in there not being a real problem, because if there is a real problem, they have to take action, and that can be terrifying.

Instead, they practice denial.  If their partner manages a period of moderation, then it’s proof that he or she is getting better without treatment; if they drink heavily, it’s temporary.  The excuses that the addict uses – everybody drinks like this, they’ve had a stressful week, it’ll become better when some future condition has been met – often become theirs as well.

It hurts to watch someone kill themselves, and if you’re partnered with an addict then that’s exactly what you’re doing.  Maybe you’re not married to a mean drunk and that makes it more bearable.  Maybe your partner is still functional enough to get to work and laugh with you on the weekends.  But that doesn’t take away the fear and the worry when they come home on a Friday night with a bottle of whiskey, and work their way through the entire thing.

If you’re married to an alcoholic, or an addict, what can you do?

You can look after you.  The hard truth is that, just as a new toddler needs to stumble and fall if he is ever to learn to walk, an alcoholic needs to hit his own bottom and seek his own recovery.

A_heart

In the meantime, and assuming you don’t want to leave, you need to protect yourself and your family.  That means considering whether or not to segregate the family finances.  It means deciding whether your partner can be safely left in charge of the children, if there are children.  It means seeking support outside your family circle.  Talk to your friends.  This is not your fault.  You didn’t cause it, and it is not your shame to bear.

 

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Beverley Glazer

SFYB Staff Writer

The 3 Most Common Mistakes Parents and Partners Make with an Addict

By: Beverley Glazer

If someone in your family is an addict, you and every other member of the family have a problem, too. As they say in AA, “Addiction is a family disease.” However, you are not a victim. You have the power to DO something.

Addiction is every parent’s and partner’s worst nightmare. And I assure you, you’re NOT to blame. There is no one reason why someone escapes into alcohol and drugs.

An addiction doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the occasional party, the weekend benders, (everyone’s doing it, and let’s face it, they do) until this evolves into a dependency. It always starts off as fun, until it’s not.

STOP ADDICTION ANIMATION 3

So what do you do? You see the dysfunction: drinking, partying too much and too long, spending too much money, can’t keep a job, etc. You nag and cajole them to stop! You argue and bribe, but nothing works. Addicts will defend their behavior and give you good reasons for it. They’ll manipulate, and they may even say all their problems are because of YOU!

When your loved one is an addict, you live on a roller-coaster of emotion. But guilt and shame are the worst of all. You can’t change the past. It’s past. Going forward is an uphill climb.

Because you want to help your loved one, you easily make the following mistakes:

1.) Rescuing: Don’t make excuses for the addict. When you make excuses, you cover up the addict’s behavior. You’re saving the addict from negative consequences. For anyone to get help, they have to be confronted by the consequences. Rescuing is enabling.

The 3 Most Common Mistakes Parents and Partners Make with an Addict

2.) Ignoring: An addict will have mood swings and inappropriate behavior. They can be threatening and violent. If you ignore this behavior they’ll continue the abuse, and it gets worse. Confront them. Call the police if you have to. Give them a ‘wake-up call’. You are not accepting this, and you are NEVER entitled to be abused.

STOP FRYING YOUR BRAIN_not listening pic

3.) Money: Providing money for drugs or financial assistance is NOT preventing the addict from stealing or doing other crimes. By giving them money, you are sending the message that you accept their behavior. You have to make it difficult for them. You must stand firm. Tell them you love them, but under no circumstance will you give them money unless they confront their problem and get help.

Giving money (with clipping path)

These are the 3 most common mistakes parents and partners make with an addict. It’s not easy. Addicts will pressure you to get what they want, but you have to be firm with them. “No” must mean “no,” not “maybe,” not “yes.” If you give in even once, they’ll push longer and harder.

For this reason, it’s not uncommon to get support. Recovery coaching, counseling, or Al-Anon can be helpful, because few people understand what you’re going through. The goal is to stay strong for yourself and the rest of the family. But the ultimate goal is to pressure the addict to get the help that they need to change their life.

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Laura Stamps

SFYB Staff Editor

Book Review: “The Imperfect Marriage” by Darryl and Tracy Strawberry

By: Laura Stamps

Toxic relationships often lead to dysfunctional marriages. This was certainly the case with Darryl and Tracy Strawberry.

11-16-2014 6-37-51 PM

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(Darryl) “Many people have their stories of love at first sight. For us it was lost at first sight. By the time we met, we had lost relationships, our children, our marriages, our money, our will to live, and our connection with God. We were spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially bankrupt.”

Tracy and Darryl met in 2003 at a Narcotics Anonymous convention in Florida. Tracy was recovering from addictions to alcohol, cocaine, crack, and meth. Darryl was not in recovery. He was still using and had gone to prison for his drug violations. He was also millions of dollars in debt. Both had been divorced twice and lost custody of their children from those marriages.

Darryl and Tracy brought more baggage into a relationship than we can imagine. Still, like most dysfunctional people, that didn’t deter them from taking the plunge again.

(Tracy) “We fell in love. Fast and hard. Blind love falls in love with the potential of a person, not the nitty-gritty truth of who they really are. It tolerates deception that can very easily become your adopted truth, leading you right back into another unhealthy relationship. Blind love tells you, ‘It will be different this time.’ That’s what I thought. I kept the blinders on and allowed myself to be drawn into another toxic relationship.”

Several tumultuous years followed. Tracy spent most of her time rescuing Darryl from crack houses and trying to cope with his rampant infidelity. Even so, they married.

Book Review: “The Imperfect Marriage” by Darryl and Tracy Strawberry

(Tracy) “When I married Darryl, he was clean and sober. What I didn’t know was that a part of him did not want to be completely well, whole on the inside. He wasn’t ready to surrender, and he didn’t want to do the work required to be well. The truth became very clear very quickly.”

Sounds like a mess, doesn’t it? It was. Yet this is an amazing book on many levels. Even though the Strawberrys are painfully candid about the baggage they brought to the marriage table, “The Imperfect Marriage” is an easy book to read and digest. That’s due in part to its unique format. Both Tracy and Darryl tell their stories together in each chapter in first person, letting you know who is talking and when. It works. And very well.

book-review

The book is divided into two sections. The first section, “Me,” tackles the dysfunctional issues plaguing Darryl and Tracy when they married. Eventually, they realized they needed to heal themselves first before they could fix their crippled marriage. The second section, “We,” tells us how these two people, who found wholeness separately, repaired a broken marriage together as a couple.

STOP ADDICTION ANIMATION

Each section is divided into chapters covering topics like forgiveness, codependency, trust, mindfulness, temptation, and how to create a new beginning. Slowly, they move readers forward from a relationship paralyzed with despair and hopelessness to a marriage filled with joy and peace. Each step in the healing process is illustrated with examples from their lives, demonstrating for readers what works, what doesn’t work, and how it can work for you.

First and foremost, this is a Christian book. Tracy and Darryl have both become ordained ministers. They counsel couples in marriage crisis through Strawberry Ministries. Darryl also travels across the country, speaking and preaching at various churches and Christian functions.

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(Tracy) “This is the primary theme of this book. Life always comes back to Him. Neither you nor your spouse should be the center of your universe. That’s God’s place. Your spouse does not complete you. God does. And your wholeness in Him is what makes you the better half to your partner.”

Yet this is also a book for people of any faith or no faith struggling with the damaging effects of addiction. If your marriage is in trouble because you or your spouse or both of you are addicts of any kind, this book is for you.

STOP ADDICTION ANIMATION

The raw honesty in “The Imperfect Marriage” is impressive. The Strawberrys discuss the ugly truth of their marriage openly and thoroughly. You’re never left guessing. Nothing is hidden. And they do this on purpose. Their goal is to offer their readers all the information and workable strategies they need to succeed. The healing has to start somewhere. And the best place to begin is with the naked truth. So they do.

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This is definitely the case in the codependent chapter, “The Spouse-in-Waiting.” In this chapter, Tracy tells of her struggle as the spouse of an addict. Darryl was clean and sober when they married, but she soon found out he hadn’t dealt with his addiction to women and had no plans to remedy that.

(Tracy) “One of the most challenging aspects of being married is being a spouse-in-waiting. This is what you are when your husband or wife has emotionally or even physically checked out and refuses to get well or get right. You are not loved, honored, cherished, or respected by your life partner. Your spouse has left you alone to live with a broken marriage till death do you part. At times, it feels like a slow death. But there is hope, and there is an answer.”

This is a powerful chapter for anyone familiar with codependency issues. Rarely, do you find such detailed, step-by-step help for the agonizing life of a codependent spouse. Best of all, while Tracy walks readers through her journey from codependency to healing, we receive an added bonus: Darryl’s perspective on her transformation, and the effect it had on him. How priceless is that?

Leadership-Changing-Your-Mind

(Darryl) “I couldn’t help notice Tracy was changing. I saw her develop a new character, new habits, a different way of being. I realized she was moving forward. She was growing up. She was leaving me behind. I couldn’t help but respect my wife. The transformation was so crazy that honestly, I became jealous. There were times I asked God why He couldn’t give me what she had. ‘Why does she feel so good when I feel so bad?’ Her change opened my eyes.”

The “We” section offers realistic strategies and action plans for readers with spouses in the recovery phase eager to rebuild their broken marriages. Some of the advice will make you laugh out loud with its common sense wisdom.

I-Am-Sorry-For-Such-A-Problem-For-You

(Tracy) “Never give your spouse I’m sorry presents. They are permanent reminders of temporary mistakes. You want to give me a beautiful piece of jewelry to apologize for your adultery so whenever I wear it I can think about what you did? No thanks!”

As you can see, “The Imperfect Marriage” is not just another lightweight celebrity book. It’s not another marriage manual packed with feel-good platitudes. It’s not another Christian counseling book. It’s much, much more. No matter your faith, if you’re in a codependent marriage situation I highly recommend this book. You’ll find something in here to help you. I guarantee it.

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