Category Archives: Grief

Relational Betrayal Recovery – Grief Retreat

A grief retreat?

Although the focus of this blog post is for betrayed spouses, a grief retreat is helpful for anyone processing grief.

I’ve heard many betrayed spouses say they’ve been told to “just get over it.” When you’ve been betrayed by your partner’s infidelity, that’s not something you just “get over.” It’s a journey.

In “Beyond Betrayal” Lisa Taylor clarifies that “grieving is a necessary precursor to forgiving. Forgiving, as it so happens, is a necessary precursor to our (personal) healing.”

In part two of the three-part series, “Trauma Recovery,” a grief retreat is recommended. Odd to suggest getting away to grieve, but it allows you designated and distraction-free time to grieve your losses.

What to take

  • A journal, pen or pencil
  • Bible
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Soothing, meditative music
  • Tissues
  • Healthy snacks
  • Coloring book, markers or colored pencils (I recommend “The Journal of an Insane Woman” coloring book. Contact me for details.)

Helpful Questions

Here is a list of helpful questions for you to consider as you begin the grieving part of your journey. Make sure you answer spontaneously, don’t overthink the questions. Write the answers in your journal.

  • What would my life, including my spiritual life, be like today if it had not been for my husband’s addiction and the resulting trauma?
  • What normal adult life experiences did I get robbed of?
  • What life opportunities were stolen from me?
  • How would my life be different without his addiction?
  • What parts of me have had to be buried or underdeveloped because of the addiction/the trauma?
  • What relationships have I lost?
  • What life dreams have I given up or put on hold?
  • What have I lost spiritually?
  • How much trust, faith, or hope has been drained from me by the addiction/trauma?
  • How would my relationship with God be different now?
  • To what degree have I, for now, lost my ability to feel valued and loved by God?
  • How has the addiction/ trauma affected my relationship with prayer, worship or church communities?
  • What have the addiction and resulting trauma taken from my life-vision and sense of personal life-purpose?

Make the most of this retreat time by staying off social media, getting plenty of sleep, and focusing on your relationship with God. He has the power and knowledge to bring you through this phase. Trust him, and have grace for yourself.

You can purchase a copy of “Journal of an Insane Woman” from me by sending me a message

PTSD in Spouses of Sex Addicts

You can’t think straight, you withdraw from people, you feel crazy. You love your husband, but what you’ve discovered about his sex addiction shatters your world. You feel betrayed and traumatized.

Our sexuality is the most intimate part of who we are as humans. Few people engage with us on that deep of a level, so when the person you trust most betrays that trust, it completely rocks your world, right down to the very core of your being. That is where post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) lodges itself.

Judy Whelley quoted Dr. Barb Steffens in an article about PTSD in Partners of Sex Addicts. “Dr. Barb Steffens is the author of Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal. Dr. Steffens explains, ‘Once disclosure happens, and her [the partner of the sex addict] world is shattered, she is still expected to be wife, mother, she’s working, a professional person, on the job. You don’t get time off for this. We are lucky in our society to get three days off if we’re grieving the loss of a loved one. We get no time off when our lives have been shattered due to sex addiction and this kind of betrayal.’”

So, what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? First of all, be honest with yourself and don’t discount or invalidate your feelings, anger, or desperation. Those are appropriate reactions. It’s important to seek the support and counsel from people who are experienced in caring for sex addicts and their spouses/families.

Dr. Omar Minwalla states in his article, “Partners of Sex Addicts Need Treatment for Trauma” that, “partners [of sex addicts] often present with a set of symptoms that match symptoms similar to rape trauma syndrome (RTS) and complex post-traumatic-stress disorder (C-PTSD). There are many, many partners and spouses who continue to be further harmed, confused, disoriented and re-traumatized by traditional co-addiction treatment interventions that focus on educating and helping partners with their “own disease” called co-addiction while ignoring the treatment of trauma and C-PTSD. In fact, the co-addiction model as it manifests in the treatment of partners and spouses of sex addicts, and applied most often to women, is a form of gender-based violence.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, (Mayo, 2011) PTSD typically starts within three months of a traumatic event. In a small number of cases, though, PTSD symptoms may not appear until years after the event.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are generally grouped into three types: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, and increased anxiety or emotional arousal (hyperarousal).

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include: (Mayo, 2011)

  • Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
  • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event

Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include: (Mayo, 2011)

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships

Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional arousal may include: (Mayo, 2011)

  • Irritability or anger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can come and go.

There is hope.

Get the help you need now.

You will survive this trauma.

Feel free to contact me for further support or resources.

Find support from other spouses of sex addicts by joining a group here.

Through the Eyes of a Lion

Recently I read this book Through the Eyes of a Lion and found great inspiration and encouragement. When my son lived in Montana we visited Fresh Life Church in Kalispell where the author of this book, Levi Lusko serves as a pastor. I’m including my review on my blog today because I believe the themes throughout this book are relevant to anyone who has loved and lost someone. I highly recommend reading this book which was just released little more than one week ago. You can learn more about this book and author here and here.

The following is my review:

Through the Eyes of a LionThrough the Eyes of a Lion is a book by a grieving father about the loss of his precious little one. Lusko paints a picture for us all to grieve honestly and embrace every moment of life and live it to the full. He utilizes the vibrant colors of encouragement, hope, and expectation of how God meets us in our deepest valleys. He adds the gray tones of sorrow, grief, and fear and gleaming touches of courage, honesty, and community to create for us a picture that can been seen through the eyes of a lion.

Lusko poses this question in the beginning of the book, “How do you live out an extraordinary calling while doing ordinary things and living in a world that is all screwed up?” In short, his answer is to see life through the eyes of a lion. Like a skilled optician he blends scripture, hashtags, Bible stories, humor, biographical notes about his upbringing and family, as well as modern cultural references. He puts lenses on life’s greatest sadness and struggle to help readers see the bigger theme of calling and community a little more clearly.

His guidance is that “discerning God’s calling is more a relationship than a route, more journey than destination.” Through the loss of a child, he guides us into truth without sugar coating the grief, darkness, and questions he wrestles with today. If you’ve been on the planet for any amount of time you’ve experienced struggle, hopelessness, fear and loneliness. This book illuminates the darkest corners of our fast-paced lives and timeless truths to guide us into the future with hope and assurance of God’s love and presence.

This book is truly inspiring, motivating, and the author’s voice is warm and sincere. Thank you, Lusko family for sharing your story with the world. You are in my prayers.

Death and Life

One of my family’s favorite films is “Elizabethtown.” It’s a quirky comedy about a man depressed in the aftermath of a fiasco at work and his father’s death. The lead character, Drew Baylor meets Claire, the flight attendant on his red-eye to Kentucky where he’s going for his father’s funeral. In Louisville, Claire and Drew meet Chuck, a soon-to-be groom who is in the hotel hallway. Chuck presumes they are friends who will be at his wedding the following day. Drew explains he’s there for his father’s funeral. Chuck makes this ironic statement that has stayed with me since the first time I watched this movie: “Death and Life. And death and life. Right next door to each other! There’s like, there’s a hair between them.”

Here are a few thoughts to help you process grief. Remember that we grieve not only when someone dies, but at the loss of a job or home, a friendship or marriage, and when our pet dies.

  • Rest. Sleep deprivation robs us of the ability to process emotions and drains our power to cope with the ups and downs of daily living.
  • Journal. Employ the practice of daily journaling to unload the burden of grief. You’ll begin to see through the fog of loss.
  • Delay decisions. While in the depths of sadness and fatigue, don’t make any big decisions that can wait until a time when your head is clearer.
  • Call a friend. A chat on the phone or conversation over a cup of tea helps us see what’s happening in the lives of others we care about. It doesn’t diminish our loss, but gives us hope for the future.
  • Be kind to yourself. Jesus himself said that we are to love others the same way we love ourselves. Make time to do something you enjoy and do it without feeling guilty. You have a life to live.

Death and life. Right next door to each other. Indeed, there’s a hair between them.