Saturday, April 01, 2006

  1. Understanding Intimacy Disorder & Addictions; Unresolved Family Trauma and Addiction Why Do People Become Addicts? How Do People Cope With Pain? What Do People Feel Inside?
  2. What Does an Addict Look Like? Signs of Trouble: Five Criteria for Addiction Assessment Marks of Addictive Sex Fatal Addiction: Ted Bundy's Final Interview
  3. Women & Woundedness Help for Female Addicts The Growth of Trouble: Q & A with a Female Addict
  4. Pornography & Lust Lust Subtle Dangers of Pornography Can Intimacy be Found Online? Dangers and Disappointments of Pornography
  5. Redemption & Transformation Theology of Sexuality
  6. What does the Bible say about sexual wholeness, sexual brokenness, and transformation? Immediate Steps for Recovery Bold Next StepsHow to Confess Your Sex Addiction
  7. Moving Forward Personally Dying to the Broken Self Repentance for Sexual Addiction Prayers and Meditations for Going Online
  8. Re-Integrating Body, Mind, and Spirit The Three Levels of Sin The Iceberg Method to Understanding Intimacy Disorder Behind Sex Addiction is a Hunger for God
  9. Counseling & Accountability How to Develop Effective Accountability Common Barriers to Effective Accountability Problems with the Individual Approach to Recovery The Importance of Counseling Guidelines for Selecting a Counselor Common Barriers to Seeking Counseling
  10. Information for SpousesImmediate Steps Confronting Your Spouse's Secret Sin A Checklist for Confronting Your Spouse What to Do When a Spouse Refuses Help
  11. © 2004 Focus on the Family. Pure Intimacy is a registered trademark of Focus on the Family.All rights reserved. International copyright secured. (800) A-FAMILY (232-6459).

Why Do People Become Addicts? How Do People Cope With Pain? What Do People Feel Inside?What Does an Addict Look Like?Signs of Trouble: Five Criteria for Addiction Assessment Marks of Addictive Sex Fatal Addiction: Ted Bundy's Final InterviewWomen & WoundednessHelp for Female Addicts The Growth of Trouble: Q & A with a Female AddictPornography & LustLust Subtle Dangers of Pornography Can Intimacy be Found Online? Dangers and Disappointments of PornographyRedemption & TransformationTheology of SexualityWhat does the Bible say about sexual wholeness, sexual brokenness, and transformation?Immediate Steps for RecoveryBold Next StepsHow to Confess Your Sex AddictionMoving Forward PersonallyDying to the Broken Self Repentance for Sexual Addiction Prayers and Meditations for Going OnlineRe-Integrating Body, Mind, and SpiritThe Three Levels of Sin The Iceberg Method to Understanding Intimacy Disorder Behind Sex Addiction is a Hunger for GodCounseling & AccountabilityHow to Develop Effective Accountability Common Barriers to Effective Accountability Problems with the Individual Approach to Recovery The Importance of Counseling Guidelines for Selecting a Counselor Common Barriers to Seeking CounselingInformation for SpousesImmediate StepsConfronting Your Spouse's Secret Sin A Checklist for Confronting Your Spouse What to Do When a Spouse Refuses HelpMoving Forward PersonallyDiscovering Pornography or Infidelity: A Letter to Injured Spouses The Journey toward Healing: A Letter to Injured Spouses Emily's StoryCounseling & AccountabilityHow to Develop Effective Accountability Common Barriers to Effective Accountability Problems with the Individual Approach to Recovery The Importance of Counseling Guidelines for Selecting a Counselor Common Barriers to Seeking CounselingFurther InformationFocus on the Family Counseling Services Questions, comments, thoughts...? Recommended Resources for Intimacy & Addiction
© 2004 Focus on the Family. Pure Intimacy is a registered trademark of Focus on the Family.All rights reserved. International copyright secured. (800) A-FAMILY (232-6459). Privacy Policy/Terms of Use

The Freedom in Forgiveness
by Grace Ketterman, M.D., and David Hazard
If you’re like many people, you may want to be free of past offenses, but you still carry bitter memories of or hard feelings toward those who have wronged you. Take comfort: Forgiving even the worst offenses against you is not impossible. You can find freedom from the past and peace that comes from God by learning to really forgive from the heart. Forgiveness is easier to grasp when broken into a five-step process. Admit the pain.Offenses always cause pain; our pride makes us deny it. Some take an attitude, “Who cares? You’re insignificant in my life. You can’t hurt me!” This insulates us from the acute pain of the moment, but it allows the infectious agent of resentment, like toxic bacteria, to enter our soul where it festers, creating a spiritual disease of bitterness. Such a condition gradually estranges us from others and even from God. Denying pain keeps us from starting on the path to forgiveness. But the degree of pain required in this exercise is bearable. Honestly experiencing it long enough to understand the exact nature of the offense is actually the beginning of healing. Work through confused feelings.When an offense has occurred, we often need to clearly and carefully sort out responsibilities in a particular incident. As children, we believe the world revolves around us. Although this tendency is strongest in our formative years, it also persists somewhat into adulthood. When traumatic events occur, kids believe it’s mostly their fault. (“If I hadn’t made Dad angry, he wouldn’t have had a heart attack and died.”) As adults we need to develop firm ground within ourselves — to set boundaries and defend them when limits are violated. Seek information.Once we’re clear as to who’s responsible for what, the next step is to discover why the offender hurt us. This keeps us from dwelling single-mindedly on how we were hurt or how we wish to see the other person punished. If appropriate, we may need to ask friends or family members for information. Or we can use our imagination and place ourselves in the offender’s position. What we’re not doing is looking for an excuse. No reasoning can excuse, for example, crimes against humanity such as torture, rape, extortion, blackmail, murder and the like. But gathering information is important. Consider Rita’s experience. Her husband had an affair with an emotionally disturbed woman. He eventually broke off the relationship and tried to repair the damage he’d done to Rita, whom he still loved. But Rita couldn’t forgive her husband or the other woman. It was bad enough he’d had an affair — but to choose such a wretchedly unhappy and abused woman added insult to injury. Inadvertently, Rita learned a bit about the other woman’s history. As a little girl, she’d often been made to bend naked over the bathtub while her father beat her with a belt until blood ran down her legs. As Rita heard this story, she found tears running down her cheeks. Any child raised by such a criminally abusive father might wind up seducing men in a desperate search for love. This information also lent credibility to her husband’s story that he’d first befriended the woman because he felt sorry for her; he then felt affectionate toward this “hurting soul.” ... Eventually, the lines between affection and sexual involvement blurred. Further searching unearthed events in her husband’s life that explained his vulnerability to such a strange relationship. It didn’t happen overnight, but the more Rita understood the facts, the more she was able to relinquish her anger and pain. She could truly forgive and sincerely pray for the woman. Understanding was not condoning the affair. And much work had to be done to heal her husband’s past to prevent further offenses. But for Rita, the restoration process took a step forward when the truth was known. Allow information to become insight.Once the facts are clear, we might imagine that forgiveness occurs automatically. Too often, however, our humanity gets in the way. Our self-protective and vengeful impulses can pitch us into rounds of self-pity, bitterness and anger. It takes heroic effort to move beyond our own pain to understand what prevents us from saying, “I forgive you.” In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom describes the most extreme abuses imaginable perpetrated on her and the other inmates of a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Months after the war was over, Corrie was traveling through Germany speaking in churches about God’s love and forgiveness. Inwardly, though, she knew her words had a hollow sound. After speaking in a church in Munich, she was approached by a man she recognized as one of her former guards, a particularly cruel one. He now reflected a semblance of humanity and smiled brightly as he talked about his newfound faith in God. Looking Corrie in the eye, he held out his hand. “Fraülein, if you can forgive me, then I’ll know what you say is true — that God forgives me.” Gripped by a terrible conflict, Corrie wanted either to turn her back on this man or do violence to him. In her mind’s eye she could see her father and sister, who were both killed by the Nazis; she’d wanted to forgive those who were responsible. And this moment brought insight as to why she’d been unable to do more than speak hollowly about forgiveness. She was daily reliving the horror of the camp. Corrie also realized that she would continue to be haunted by old feelings and memories if she did not move beyond them. This was her chance. But could she do it? Her arm remained frozen at her side, while the man’s remained outstretched. As he stared at her, Corrie prayed for strength she could not find in herself. Giving her will over to God, unable to change it on her own, coldly she stuck out her hand and clasped the palm of her former enemy.“In that moment,” she later wrote, “something miraculous happened. A current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.”Forgiveness is a gift of God’s grace. What Corrie described — the healing of one heart, the freeing of another — is a true miracle. The wonder of it is that God gives us insight into our own heart and involves us with Him in the freeing of another. Choose to relinquish the whole event.It was, interestingly, in a psychiatry class that I (Grace) learned relinquishment. The class was discussing how to let go of past tragedies and trauma that hurt and scar. One man, Lou, had been weeping copiously, obviously reliving some pain of his own. “Lou,” the professor said, “I want you to wrap up that handkerchief and hold it tightly in your hand.” After a long silence, he said, “Now, let it fall.” The bunched handkerchief landed on the floor. In a few moments, Lou reached down to pick up his handkerchief. But another student observed him and suggested that this was the way we all tried to “pick up our old burdens again.” With a smile now, Lou left the handkerchief there. We all saw that it’s our choice — an act of our will — that sets us free from burdens of the past. It seems that human beings have always had trouble with the idea of forgiving someone who has wronged them. It’s just not natural to us. But Jesus Christ, the master of forgiveness came to show us a new way, a supernatural way, to live. He teaches us how to adopt new attitudes of the heart that help us live “above” our natural impulses. You, too, can be healed and set free as you learn to walk the path of forgiveness. The gifts of personal wholeness in Jesus Christ can be yours, even when you think forgiveness is impossible. The question is, are you willing to begin? Adapted from When You Can’t Say “I Forgive You” by Dr. Grace Ketterman and David Hazard, published by NavPress. Copyright © 2000 Dr. Grace Ketterman and David Hazard. Used by permission.
TroubledWith.com is a service of Focus on the Family. It is intended as a practical reference, and should not be considered as a substitute for advice from medical, mental health or legal professionals.

Out of Bounds
by Lisa Brock
Every person knows at least one user: the insensitive sister who takes advantage of your willingness to baby-sit her child or the friend who always forgets to pay back the money you loaned him. Such “friends” create friction that has the potential to ruin family gatherings, social events and holiday celebrations. They leave the person who has been wronged feeling depressed, depleted and frustrated. Sometimes the violations are more serious than inconvenient, such as abuse or criminal behavior, causing the victim to feel violated and confused. But there is a way out.You have the power to direct your relationships in a way that will make them better for both you and the other persons involved. You can determine what behaviors are destructive and take steps to eliminate them. You can turn friendships in a positive direction by ending the cycle of dependence and distrust. The key is clear, strong boundaries, which protect you and your interests in the relationship while still valuing the other person. By creating “rules” for your relationships, you can eliminate unhealthy habits and stop being taken advantage of. Once the rules are established, you must reinforce them to steer destructive and negative behaviors in a positive direction. By carefully considering these rules and applying them consistently and carefully, you can transform your draining and frustrating relationships.A truly successful relationship is one in which both parties benefit. It’s a give-and-take team effort. Each member helps the other in times of need, supports the other emotionally and contributes equally to the relationship. Such friendships, marriages and partnerships are based on mutual trust and understanding and an ability to communicate clearly about needs and feelings. Neither party holds all the power nor exercises too much control. Instead you make decisions together, based on your shared interests. When conflict arises, as it occasionally does, you discuss it and work out a beneficial solution. Such relationships can’t exist without boundaries.Why boundaries?There are many reasons why relationships stagnate. Most of us suffer from inappropriate motivations that lead us toward destructive friendships. By carefully evaluating why we let others take advantage of us, we can steer our relationships in a more positive direction.
I feel so guilty. Guilt is a major factor in the inability to set boundaries. Many people feel guilty about putting their own needs ahead of others. So when a friend asks you to watch her child for a couple of hours, even though you really needed to spend that time getting ready for out of town visitors, you may say yes because you feel your needs aren’t that important. On occasion, this reasoning is healthy. If your friend is headed to the emergency room with another child, your willingness to help is a sign of valued friendship. If your friend just wants a few hours to shop by herself or doesn’t plan her commitments well, then your acceptance may signal that your relational boundaries aren’t strong enough. Telling your friend how you feel and carefully evaluating why you feel the need to say yes every time she asks for something can help you express your own needs more clearly and, when appropriate, put them first.
Depending on dependence. Some people need to be needed. They believe that if they don’t take control, the other person is doomed to fail. These feelings are a trap. If you think your mother can’t survive without you taking her all over town every time she asks, or your adult daughter can’t possibly handle her own finances without your help, you may fall into this category. Do you thrive on others’ dependence on you? Do you look for ways to help others and then often feel frustrated or disappointed by the outcome? Do you continue to help the people who “need” you, in spite of feeling angry and resentful that they’re taking advantage of you? Such anger has the potential to damage your relationships and color the way you view others. By setting clear boundaries and telling those around you when you really want to help and when you really can’t, you’ll be on your way toward a healthy balance in your relationships.
It’s my fault. Many people take full responsibility for any and all problems. Somehow you have forced the other person to behave in a way that is destructive to her and leads her down the wrong path. By accepting all of the responsibility for an unhealthy relationship, you damage your self-esteem and create unrealistic expectations for yourself in other relationships. These destructive patterns can lead to emotional and physical problems that can negatively affect every aspect of your life. By setting strong boundaries that help you to assert yourself when appropriate, you can begin to set your relationship on the right track.
I don’t deserve any better. Feelings of low self-worth can also affect your ability to set boundaries. Many people believe they are not worth loving and often find themselves in relationships with people who don’t treat them with love or even respect. If you believe you can’t do any better than the person you’re with, regardless of how he or she treats you, you may be in this trap. Such relationships set the stage for emotional and physical abuse. You need boundaries that protect you emotionally and physically. For example, if your partner starts yelling, rather than talking it out, you should decide in advance that you’ll remove yourself from the situation. In addition to setting clear boundaries, you may also need to seek professional help to improve the way you see yourself and help you to become involved in healthy, loving relationships.
One bad apple after another. For some, the problem may be poor relationship choices. Some people are more attracted to those who are needy or helpless and can’t seem to survive on their own. Truthfully, most of these people are superb manipulators and not nearly as helpless as they appear. The key to establishing boundaries in this type of situation is recognizing that meeting someone else’s irrational or unreasonable needs is not a sign of a healthy relationship; it’s a sign that your partner is using your emotional and financial resources to avoid solving a problem for himself. Decide that you will not extend yourself in ways that make you uncomfortable or feel inappropriate. Then clearly tell the other person, in a kind and caring way, your reasons for refusing to help. Doing so will help you to feel less victimized and your partner to feel more empowered to help herself. Carefully considered boundaries that are consistently and appropriately applied can lead to positive and successful relationships. But boundaries don’t come naturally for most. Setting boundaries and reinforcing them is difficult work. It’s worth the effort, though. Once you put your relationships on the right track, you’ll reduce your feelings of frustration and disappointment, eliminate your sense of being taken advantage of, and most of all, increase your depth of friendship with the people who matter most to you.If you are dealing with a difficult relationship and would like to speak with a licensed, professional counselor, please visit our “Consider Counseling” page. The following articles may also prove helpful: Your New Family When Adult Children Move Back Home Emotional and Verbal AbuseCopyright © 2002 Lisa Brock. Used by permission.
TroubledWith.com is a service of Focus on the Family. It is intended as a practical reference, and should not be considered as a substitute for advice from medical, mental health or legal professionals.

Addiction Triggers
by Archibald Hart, Ph.D.
The two major drives that underlie the addictive process, excitement seeking and tension reduction, are often “set off” by a particular starting stimulus. We can call this the “trigger mechanism” for the addiction. It is the emotion or occurrence that starts a given cycle of addictive behavior.Let’s imagine that Dave, a fictitious salesman, is generally bored with his job, but he loves to ski. Skiing is the only source of real excitement in Dave’s life; he lives for the snow slopes and dreams about nothing else. Clearly he is an addict because he neglects every other aspect of his life.Now, say it is Friday morning. Dave usually spends Fridays in the office writing up orders and processing his paperwork. This is a part of his job he particularly hates. Every form, letter, and purchase order is like poison to him; he even dislikes touching them.Dave checks his watch. Nine-thirty in the morning. Still six and a half hours to go before quitting time. He tries to concentrate, but the dull routine of his job acts as a stimulus for his addictive need. Boredom is the trigger for his addiction craving. He wants to be on the mountain. He wants to feel the cold chill of the wind and hear the swoosh of the skis. He checks his watch again. Only 9:50. The more bored Dave becomes, the more he craves his skiing fix. It’s going to be a long day!Trigger mechanisms like Dave’s boredom begin the addictive craving for a given cycle of need. They differ from person to person and from addictive behavior to addictive behavior. Often the roots of these trigger mechanisms can be traced to experiences we disliked as a child. Here are some common triggers:
anxiety
isolation
boredom
depression
crises
sense of failure
unmet sexual needs
criticism
selfish needs The last of the above list, selfish needs, is a major trigger for many addictions. Technically known as “polarized narcissism,” it is usually found in people who have suffered from early life disruption or damage and whose nurturance and dependency needs have not been met. Such people often develop a deep desire for instant gratification. They know where, when, and how they want it, and they want it now! For instance, they demand instant and excessive affirmation for even small attempts at work or in relationships. The needs of others never enter the picture. They are focused only on their own needs.There are many other possible triggers for addictive behavior. In fact, anything that threatens failure, rejection, or abandonment can become a stimulus for an addiction cycle. Add to this the personality traits of passivity, under-assertiveness, or dependency, and you have a powerful set of addictive triggers.Last updated October 2004If you are dealing with an addictive behavior and would like to consider talking with a professional counselor, please see our “Consider Counseling” page. For other helpful articles, visit: The Support of a Friend The Hungry Heart Breaking the Cycle When Coping Becomes AddictionExcerpted from Healing Life’s Hidden Addictions by Dr. Archibald Hart, published by Servant Publications. Copyright © 1990 Dr. Archibald Hart. Used by permission.
TroubledWith.com is a service of Focus on the Family. It is intended as a practical reference, and should not be considered as a substitute for advice from medical, mental health or legal professionals.