lies

5 Lies Female Sex and Love Addicts Believe

Jane thought tonight would be just like any other night.  She got home from work, made dinner, tucked the kids in to bed, and went upstairs to send a few work emails.  Her husband was traveling, but she was feeling good about how she kept the house from falling into chaos while he was gone.

She started out by reading through her emails, but as she began to feel more stress surrounding her responsibilities both in her family and at work, loneliness and anxiety hit.  Before she knew it, she had clicked over to a few porn websites.  Hours passed flipping through these websites in the blink of the eye before Jane fell exhausted into bed to get a few hours of sleep before the kids woke up.

When her alarm clock startled her awake in just a few short hours, feelings of dread and shame washed over her.

Why does this have such a hold on me?  I shouldn’t want this so much.  I wish I could just stop.

This chorus of internal voices is often a familiar friend to the addict.  The pull of a behavior that can’t be stopped.  The helplessness that comes with another slip or relapse.  The discrediting of victory that occurs when temptation hits once again.

These voices cut at the core of the identity of the female sex and love addict.  They can rip at her self-esteem until the only relief she can find comes in the form of acting out in her addiction again, which can provide a fleeting sense of affirmation and comfort.

But that isn’t the end of the story.

Each of these beliefs that echoes so strongly in the mind of an addict has a contrasting reality that provides an antidote to the pain associated with the negative thoughts.  In the midst of the struggle, these truths are often clouded out by shame and feel impossible to believe.  My hope is that, by reminding you of these realities, they would begin to grow louder than those critical and shaming words in your mind.

If this is an issue you struggle with, do you connect with these voices?  Do the following words sound familiar to you at all?

“This is a man’s issue.”

Media portrayals and common conversation indicate that men primarily view pornography or struggle with sex addiction.  However, research has shown that 1 in 3 visitors to porn websites is female, and that number is likely on the rise.  This dispels the myth that you are the only woman who struggles with this, and in fact, you likely know other women who share this secret struggle.

The reality: Men and women both struggle with this issue.

 

“I’m dirty.  I must be a [choose your own derogatory term].” 

It is a common cultural message that men are celebrated for their many sexual conquests, while women are shamed for similar sexual behavior.  This has led to a tightening of morality on women in many ways.  While that cultural message is in the process of changing, it can still be stigmatizing for a woman to admit her sexual desire.  The reality is, a woman needs to embrace her own sexuality and sexual desire as part of healing from addiction.

The reality: Sexual desire is a good and healthy response – it is what we do with desire that can derail us.

 

“There is something wrong with me.” 

Belief in a fundamental flaw is a common thought that occurs for women.  Combining the two lies mentioned above, the female addict can believe that there is something wrong with her for having a desire to engage in sexual behaviors.  Further stigma can come from the supposed lack of self-discipline that makes it feel difficult to stop.  Overgeneralizations and stereotypes abound that feed the flame of self-condemnation.

The reality: I am not defective.  There is no fundamental flaw in me that has caused this addiction.

 

“It is impossible to stop.  I’ll never be free from this addiction.” 

It is a common behavior for addicts to try their hardest to stop their behavior several times to no avail.  One basis for this difficulty is neurochemical changes that have occurred in the brain that create a sort of superhighway for your brain to travel down when triggered by your addiction.  However, those neurochemical changes don’t have to be permanent – the brain can change with deep, focused work.  Doing the work of recovery from addiction provides that deep focus that can rewire the brain to experience freedom.

The reality: This doesn’t have to last forever.  The brain wiring of addiction can be changed with focused recovery work.

 

“I am alone.”

This is the most insidious lie of all.  Addiction can be extremely isolating – it is an intimacy disorder after all.  All the previous lies can create a feeling for addicts that they must hide themselves, masking their struggles and pain, letting no one know of their struggles.  But this creates a cycle where addicts feel increasingly isolated because they aren’t able to connect with others who share their experience.  Reaching out to a recovery group or a trusted friend gives you a place to go with your pain.

If you’re reading this and you struggle with sex and love addiction, this is the reality I want you to hear loud and clear:

You are not alone.

This article was originally posted on February 16, 2017.

What are the words that you hear?  What choruses echo through your mind?  If any of these statements ring true for you, know that you are not alone, and there are resources that can help you.  Restored Hope Counseling is a therapy office in the Ann Arbor area of Michigan that specializes in treating sex and love addiction, particularly in the unique ways in which this issue appears in women.  If this article has resonated with you today, I want to help you.  Give me a call today at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here to hear about how I can support you in your journey toward freedom from addiction.

Why Honesty Is So Important In Addiction Recovery

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Did you ever lie about anything when you were a kid?  Maybe you broke your mother’s favorite vase.  Maybe you snuck out of the house in the wee hours of the night.  Or maybe you just took an extra cookie out of the cookie jar.

Check out how this kid responds to being found out.  Did this ever happen to you?

Why do you think this little boy lied about eating the sprinkles?  It’s obvious to everyone else around him that he’s lying – the evidence is right there on his face and between his teeth.  I imagine he probably felt ashamed about what he had done.  He didn’t want to be found out, and he figured that since his mother didn’t see him eating the sprinkles, she probably wouldn’t know he had done it.  I wonder if, by the end, he’d been lying about the sprinkles for so long that he actually believed he hadn’t done anything wrong.

Notice the boy’s response when his mom does confront him about the sprinkles on his face.  He continues to deny that he ate them, and he slowly backs away from her.  Have you ever done this?  When you’ve been caught in a lie, do you hide?  I wonder if he was afraid of punishment.  Maybe he wanted to be a “good boy.”   Or maybe he worried about what his mom would think of him, if she would still love him.

When you’ve been caught in a lie, do you hide?

This pattern of deception, denial, and eventually getting found out characterizes the stories of most sex addicts.  Addicts likely feel shame about their behaviors, so they hide from their spouses or loved ones as long as possible.  This pattern of deception continues to the point that the addict begins to believe his or her justifications for the lies, and may begin to forget or discount the consequences of his or her behavior.  Particularly for women, hiding is common because sex addiction is perceived as a male-dominated issue and can carry intense messages of shame for women.

Eventually, addicts get found out.  Whether the shame of living in addiction eventually becomes too much, or the addict is discovered, the spouse or their friends will eventually discover how the addict’s behavior affects them.  But even after being found out, addicts often continue to hide, either through denial (which makes their spouse feel crazy) or only telling parts of their story.

Particularly for women, hiding is common because sex addiction is perceived as a male-dominated issue and can carry intense messages of shame for women.

I recently read a memoir written by a female sex addict in which she talked about the pivotal moment of her recovery coming when she chose to be honest about a relapse.  In the past, it would’ve been easy for her to hide instead of coming clean about what she had done.  However, when she did share in the midst of her 12 Step meeting, she was met with kindness and grace from the fellow members of the group.

Honesty is the first principle tied to the 12 Step program for a reason.  There is no recovery when there is continuing deception.  We need to learn to be honest.  If we deceive ourselves and others through denial, justification, and entitlement, we will never experience healing.  We need to admit that we are powerless over our addictions in order to grow.  Chances are, someone in your accountability group or 12 Step program has probably already suspected that you might be lying or hiding information.  Just like the boy in the video, we give cues and often later realize that others knew more than we thought.

There is no recovery when there is continuing deception. 

And yet, honesty is often one of the most vulnerable places we can find ourselves in.  When we choose to be honest, particularly about behaviors or desires tied to addiction, we often are admitting flaws or areas of intense, overwhelming shame.  Shame thrives in isolation.  As we continue to hide and run away from others because of fear that they will see us as flawed and broken, we confirm the message to ourselves that we are unlovable. 

As Brené Brown says in her TED talk about vulnerability, we must connect with others in order to move through shame.  And the only way we can connect with others is to be honest with them.  Honesty invites intimacy.  Imagine the life you could be living in freedom from your addiction.  In order to grow in this freedom, it is crucial to be honest with ourselves and with others in the process of recovery.

As we continue to hide and run away from others because of fear that they will see us as flawed and broken, we confirm the message to ourselves that we are unlovable. 

My challenge to you this week is to be honest with someone safe in your life, like a sponsor or accountability partner.  Maybe there’s an area of your addictive behavior that feels too shameful to admit.  Maybe there’s an area you’ve been in denial about for years, and you’re starting to believe that you might be more impacted by it than you realize.  Maybe there’s a dark side to your desire that frightens you.

Open up.  Share that weakness with a trusted confidante.  It will be vulnerable, and it likely will be painful.  But as you open up with others in your life, you’ll be able to experience genuine connection, intimacy, grace, forgiveness, and love.

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Do you live in fear of someone finding out your long-held secret of sexual addiction?  Are you terrified of your spouse finding your secret stash?  Are you worried that freedom from the pull of addiction is impossible for you?  At Restored Hope, I believe that you can experience freedom from addiction and that you are not alone.  I offer counseling services at my Ann Arbor therapy office to treat sex and love addiction, particularly for women who are affected by it.  Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here today to hear more about how I can help. 

5 Lies Female Sex and Love Addicts Believe

Jane thought tonight would be just like any other night.  She got home from work, made dinner, tucked the kids in to bed, and went upstairs to send a few work emails.  Her husband was traveling, but she was feeling good about how she kept the house from falling into chaos while he was gone.

She started out by reading through her emails, but as she started to feel more stress surrounding her responsibilities both in her family and at work, loneliness and anxiety hit.  Before she knew it, she had clicked over to a few porn websites.  Four hours passed flipping through these websites in the blink of the eye before Jane fell exhausted into bed to get a few hours of sleep before the kids woke up.

When her alarm clock startled her awake in just a few short hours, feelings of dread and shame washed over her.

Why does this have such a hold on me?   I shouldn’t want this so much.  I wish I could just stop.

This chorus of internal voices is often a familiar friend to the addict.  The pull of a behavior that can’t be stopped.  The helplessness that comes with another slip or relapse.  The discrediting of victory that occurs when temptation hits once again.

These voices cut at the core of the identity of the female sex and love addict.  They can rip at her self-esteem until the only relief she can find comes in the form of acting out in her addiction again, which can provide a fleeting sense of affirmation and comfort.

But that isn’t the end of the story.

Each of these beliefs that echoes so strongly in the mind of an addict has a contrasting reality that provides an antidote to the pain associated with the negative thoughts.  In the midst of the struggle, these truths are often clouded out by shame and feel impossible to believe.  My hope is that, by reminding you of these realities, they would begin to grow louder than those critical and shaming words in your mind.

If this is an issue you struggle with, do you connect with these voices?  Do the following words sound familiar to you at all?

“This is a man’s issue.”

Media portrayals and common conversation indicate that men primarily view pornography or struggle with sex addiction.  However, research has shown that 1 in 3 visitors to porn websites is female, and that number is likely on the rise.  This dispels the myth that you are the only woman who struggles with this, and in fact, you likely know other women who share this secret struggle.

The reality: Men and women both struggle with this issue.

 

“I’m dirty.  I must be a [choose your own derogatory term].” 

It is a common cultural message that men are celebrated for their many sexual conquests, while women are shamed for similar sexual behavior.  This has led to a tightening of morality on women in many ways.  While that cultural message is in the process of changing, it can still be stigmatizing for a woman to admit her sexual desire.  The reality is, a woman needs to embrace her own sexuality and sexual desire as part of healing from addiction.

The reality: Sexual desire is a good and healthy response – it is what we do with desire that can derail us.

 

“There is something wrong with me.” 

Belief in a fundamental flaw is a common thought that occurs for women.  Combining the two lies mentioned above, the female addict can believe that there is something wrong with her for having a desire to engage in sexual behaviors.  Further stigma can come from the supposed lack of self-discipline that makes it feel difficult to stop.  Overgeneralizations and stereotypes abound that feed the flame of self-condemnation.

The reality: I am not defective.  There is no fundamental flaw in me that has caused this addiction.

 

“It is impossible to stop.  I’ll never be free from this addiction.” 

It is a common behavior for addicts to try their hardest to stop their behavior several times to no avail.  One basis for this difficulty is neurochemical changes that have occurred in the brain that create a sort of superhighway for your brain to travel down when triggered by your addiction.  However, those neurochemical changes don’t have to be permanent – the brain can change with deep, focused work.  Doing the work of recovery from addiction provides that deep focus that can rewire the brain to experience freedom.

The reality: This doesn’t have to last forever.  The brain wiring of addiction can be changed with focused recovery work.

 

“I am alone.”

This is the most insidious lie of all.  Addiction can be extremely isolating – it is an intimacy disorder after all.  All the previous lies can create a feeling for addicts that they must hide themselves, masking their struggles and pain, letting no one know of their struggles.  But this creates a cycle where addicts feel increasingly isolated because they aren’t able to connect with others who share their experience.  Reaching out to a recovery group or a trusted friend gives you a place to go with your pain.

If you’re reading this and you struggle with sex and love addiction, this is the reality I want you to hear loud and clear:

You are not alone.

What are the words that you hear?  What choruses echo through your mind?  If any of these statements ring true for you, know that you are not alone, and there are resources that can help you.  Restored Hope Counseling is a therapy office in the Ann Arbor area of Michigan that specializes in treating sex and love addiction, particularly in the unique ways in which this issue appears in women.  If this article has resonated with you today, I want to help you.  Give me a call today at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here to hear about how I can support you in your journey toward freedom from addiction.