Finding and Trusting Your Growing Edge for The New Year

Sometimes we look back at the year we are putting to bed and find we haven’t accomplished our goals or achieved the results we wanted. For wives and partners of men called sex addicts it’s more likely we are asking, “What truck hit me?”

The confusion created and damage done to us by discovering the abusive lie of our husband or boyfriend’s life can leave us feeling we are little more than piles of jagged wreckage. Where would we find a growing edge in this pile of destruction and heartache?

Don’t be so sure there is nothing left in you to generate growth and new life. Don’t be so sure that his ability to devastate you to the core means he still controls you. Unless you give that control back to him in spite of all he has done, he doesn’t have that control anymore. You do.

And if you have control, your capacity for choosing life in the face of death is still there and waiting for your instructions. You have a growing edge. In fact, you probably have several. Let’s get in there and find at least one of them today!

First, what do I mean by a “growing edge”?

I am talking about the part of your life that for whatever reason is a little exposed. You are “out there” in ways that are usually more guarded, invisible, or even forgotten. That exposed part of your life probably seems not quite all you would want it to be. Your growing edge may be around:

  • beliefs that need to be more deeply explored, challenged, or even reframed,

  • life habits that have not served you well and need changing,  

  • questions you never asked before but now seem important and relevant to your life,

  • desires for your life so long buried by looking after him (and family) that only the destructive power of this experience could have uncovered again,

  • aspects of your personality that have been dulled by his grooming you for the abusive purpose of his secret life,

  • your needs in your primary relationship that are never acknowledged or met,

  • a goal you thought you would have accomplished ages ago but is no longer a priority,

  • a weakness you can strengthen to improve the quality of your life and how you participate in the world.

Okay, those are just a few possibilities for how you might identify your growing edge. Specifically, this is the edge where growth could happen in our lives, where something could change about our patterns, our assumptions, our perspective, our default settings, our participation in life—if we want it to change.

Let me give an example from my life that I often write about in this blog.

When I first emerged from the rubble of my post-discovery life, I tried to figure out how to be “me” in the face of a newly grasped danger from my then-husband, his mother, and his treatment gang of thugs. I knew I had to grow some serious self-compassion and self-respect. The group from whom I expected compassion and respect were not just empty of both, they were vacuous. They offered nothing of compassion and respect to my life, and also sucked it out of me for their cannibalistic breakfast each day. That was their survival strategy. They were the dementors from Harry Potter. Their “kiss” was not affection, care, or love. It created the vacuum seal they needed to suck out my soul.

So, my first growing edge was to see that critical safety issue and realize that having compassion and respect for myself was nothing I could out-source. It had to become my first priority in life to give those things to myself. Each day in my journal I made myself consider how I loved myself that day. On some days I was able to do it and be aware of it, and on some days, I forgot how intentional I had to be in this regard. It wasn’t “just going to happen”. I had to make it happen Every.Single.Day.

This growing edge was exposed on this traumatic journey through the revealed abuse call sex addiction. I was unloved by those I assumed would love me. My then-husband did not love me. He loved my usefulness. I believe he was at times grateful, amused, intellectually stimulated and less lonely because of me. But he did not love ME.

Unfortunately it was also true that I hadn’t loved myself much more than he had! So instead of just keeping that jagged wound open, loving myself became my first growing edge.

Standing on that sharp edge of his wounding, I recognized the very tool to cut through all the socialized prohibitions that worked against this first critical and (for me) spiritual practice. I took responsibility for loving myself. I started asking in so many different contexts and crossroads “how am I responsible to love myself in this situation? What is the self-respect I need to demonstrate here? How can I do that clearly, appropriately, and without shame or being shamed for it? Let me just say that every other growing edge on which I perched depended on this first one in order to really succeed!

I also saw how negative I had become about life. That became another growing edge. I was probably picking up my ex-husband’s energy and attaching to it. I saw he was a depressed and depressing person. This had never been diagnosed or treated but was a direct result of his mother’s covert incest. It was a sign of his own status as an abused human being and, for me, a source of great sorrow when I finally knew the facts of his life. Even though he showed no compassion for me, I could still feel compassion for him in the ways he had been truly victimized by his mother and her many religious enablers. I became more self-aware about how negativity was seeping through my life second hand and affecting me.

I sought out a very fine and highly qualified Healing Touch practitioner to teach me how to address the negative emotional energy that would attach to me from people in my life as family, friends, and ministry connections. I supported my own emotional life with nutritional choices and activities to release endorphins. I took more control over managing my emotional vulnerabilities and improved my life greatly. I cannot emphasize enough how the first massive positive change was achieved by creating physical distance between me and my ex-husband. It’s sad to have to say that, because I loved him as much as anyone has ever loved their husband. But he was emotionally contagious. That negative energy, coupled with his intentional covert abuse, nearly finished me off. I came as close as I have ever come to ending my life in the despair of discovery, the misogyny of treatment, and the sanctioned cruelty he demonstrated in his supposed recovery. It’s scary now to even remember how close to the edge I was.

But instead of ending my life, I found some growing edges and changed my life. I changed my life. That’s what the growing edges provide—opportunities to change your life.

In order to get here we have to stop looking for his life changes to change ours. We cannot give that control over to these men. This is our work. And we can succeed at it because all the good attributes of our character, beliefs, values, and personality are powerful enough to achieve that growth. Those are the very things that attracted him because they are the very things that make him more believable. So, put those things to use for your own healing and your own growth!

As you come to the close of this year, overwhelmed by the suffering and trouble his choices have visited upon your life, don’t let him have the last word on this year or the first word on the next. Where do you see the possibility of a growing edge in your life? What could you do to strengthen your own being, change patterns, mature your beliefs, pursue a goal, name a desire, improve your outlook? What work is yours and yours alone to do?

This is how we change our lives. This is where hope is found. Set aside the growing edge of the man in your life who is called a sex addict. Set aside the growing edge of your marriage. Neither of those things are in your control. They depend on him, and you need a dependable word spoken as this year ends and another one begins—you need a word you can count on. Look to yourself. It’s the only thing you control. The rest all follows.

I hope this makes sense. A Happier New Year to all of you! I am so privileged to come alongside your precious lives each week.

In my planning for next year, there are some new resources in the works now, and I hope you will see them offered in the first few months of 2019. Stay tuned! I also tweaked the site a little, so please have another tour through the homepage and other pages. And, as always, is it time to talk? Your story is safe here, and you can book a special discounted trial session here:  https://www.yourstoryissafehere.com/coaching/  If you have further questions, contact me: Diane@yourstoryissafehere.com

With you,

Diane

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Diane Strickland