Surviving the Holidays

November 21, 2017 | Banyan Therapy Group

Getting through a Season that’s Lost its Cheer

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

Remember when the holidays were a time filled with family, wonderful fragrances, and holiday cheer? In the wake of the discovery of sex addiction, we often hear how triggering special events such as holidays can be. The pictures and memories of beautiful times gone by are replaced with hurt, anger, and betrayal. This is incredibly painful, and adds to the destructive impact of sex addiction on relationships and on families. If you’re a betrayed partner, you’re not alone in sharing the pain of shattered memories of this holiday season. We hear from a lot of men and women who sift through the tattered remains of memories of holiday seasons. This is especially difficult when we’re inundated during this season with images, commercials, and movies of lovers and families coming together, of families thriving through love. I want you to know that you’re not alone in the pain you’re feeling during this time. Many women and men who are the betrayed partners feel similarly.

 

If you’re an addict or someone who has strayed from the relationship, seeing your partner triggered at this time might be confusing for you. I often hear how difficult this time can be for YOU, seeing how angry, sullen, or triggered your partner can become. It can be really painful for you to see her in pain and maybe for you to understand why she’s triggered in the first place. You need to know that this is normal – it’s a part of her grief process. By acting out sexually outside your relationship through whatever means you have, you’ve altered your partner’s view not only of the present but also of the PAST. Who was the man or women that your partner was with? If your acting out coincided with the holidays, your partner’s memories of those holidays will now be tainted. Even if your acting out didn’t coincide with the holidays, the relationship and the memories that your partner thought she had come crashing down during discovery or disclosure. So know that you can do a lot to either help her or hurt her further during this time.

 

I won’t sugar coat things by saying that this year will be amazing for you, but I DO want to share a few ways that can help you get through this in the best possible way:

 

  1. If you’re an addict or the betraying party, this is your chance to step up and make things better or back down and make thing worse. Are you acting dismissive or minimizing when your partner is lamenting over old photos or decorations? Do you respond defensively? If so, you’ve taken a step to make the holidays that much worse. Yet if you can give your partner space to grieve, to stand alongside her as she shares the pain and hurt of your actions, if you can respond with openness, honesty, and empathy, you’ve made it that much more possible for a different holiday season NEXT year and the years to come. Healing after betrayal takes time and patience. You have an important role in how long the healing will take.
  2. If you’re a betrayed partner, be kind to yourself. Especially if you’ve had a more recent discovery or disclosure, you don’t have to do everything you did last year. Give yourself a break this year. Take a year off if you want to. Have your partner step up in a new way this year with whatever family tradition you have. Eat one too many holiday treat or put your feet up this year. Taking care of yourself first and foremost will help you better take care of the family in years to come.
  3. For addicts, make sure to use all your healthy recovery supports. It’s going to be vital for you to be present and available during this time, to respond and not react. This season is probably very difficult for you. So do whatever healthy activities you need to do: Going to 12-step meetings, stepping up program calls, reaching out to healthy supports, meeting with your therapist, exercising, doing deep breathing, or other healthy coping behaviors that work for you. Your partner and your family need you this year.
  4. Turn on (or off) the TV. If watching holiday movies is cathartic to you this year, go for it. If it’s too painful to watch another commercial with a happy family sitting around a beautiful table, turn off the TV! Go do something new and different. It’s ok not to feel the cheer this year. Do something new that can make you happy.
  5. Find new rituals or traditions for the holiday season this year. It can be incredibly painful to have old rituals, memories, symbols, or experiences, tainted with the impact of sex addiction. This year you may just need to grieve the loss of the holidays in the past. You may not be ready to build new holiday rituals yet. But if you’re able to this year, try to find a new ritual that feels safe. Maybe it’s a new decoration that helps you start over again, maybe it’s a piece of jewelry. Try cooking a new dish (or if cooking was part of the problem, order in this year!). Perhaps a vacation or a new experience can help you start a new tradition that gives new life out of the old loss. This year, try to do one new thing for yourself or if you’re able to do it for your relationship.
  6. Be patient, and go slow. This is a slow process of healing. The goal is to make each year that much better than the one before it. Do one thing new this year that brings you closer to healing yourself and/or your relationship (if it makes sense to do so). Remember, a slow step forward is still a step in the right direction. You’re not alone in what you’re going through. If you need to reach out for more help or support during this time, do it! But easy does it. Be kind with yourself.
  7. The holidays will pass. This can be a daunting season, but remember, the season will pass. Do everything you can to survive in the best possible way. It can be a painful, triggering time, but it will pass. You can get through this season!

 

Most of all, my heart is with you. If you’re reading this, I’m so sorry that you have to experience the pain of sex addiction in your relationship. But I hold hope for you – We see women and men every day not just surviving through difficult seasons in their life but healing and growing. It may feel unattainable, but we see every day relationships that are re-forged through pain into something stronger. By walking through this pain together, you can rebuild your relationship into something more intimate than ever. I’ll hold you in my heart this holiday season. May it be as good as it can possibly be, and may it be a new chance for renewal. You can do this.


Partner Resources

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

July 11, 2017 | Banyan Therapy Group

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

I’m working with a couple of colleagues on a new resource for partners and addicts on therapeutic disclosure.  We’re excited about what we think can be a valuable resource in preparing for disclosures.

We’d like to make it as helpful a guide as possible, so we NEED YOUR HELP!  If you have gone through a formal disclosure, whether receiving the disclosure or giving the disclosure, we would love your feedback.  Your responses will give us valuable information and also will help give support to others who will be going through this process in the future.

Please help us by filling out the following surveys:

For partners, or those who have received the disclosure, click HERE for your survey

 For addicts, or those who have given the disclosure, click HERE for your survey

 

Thanks in advance for the help!


Partner Resources | Sex Addiction Resources | Survey

Letters from a Sex Addict is Here!

May 2, 2017 | Banyan Therapy Group

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

The book I co-authored with Wendy Conquest is officially live.  You can find it here on Amazon!  Thanks to everyone who supported us as we were working on this project.

We hope it will help addicts, partners, and couples gain better understanding as they work on healing from the impacts of sex addiction on their lives and in their relationships.


Partner Resources | Sex Addiction Resources

Learning the Language of Empathy

October 8, 2016 | Banyan Therapy Group

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

I’m often asked, “How do I get my [sexually addicted partner] to get it?!”

This hugely important question by partners brings us to the “E” word: Empathy . . .  Empathy is such an important issue to talk about, yet such a painful one.  A partner’s world shatters before her/him after discovering their partner’s sexual secrets, secrets that may have spanned decades.  This betrayal trauma is so painful, and causes an enormous rift in a relationship.  Healing this rift takes plenty of patience and a commitment to recovery from the sexually addicted partner.  Healing also takes a commitment to openness, honesty, and empathy in the relationship.

Unfortunately, so many sex addicts have narcissistic tendencies (after all, sexual acting out in the relationship is an inherently selfish act).  Narcissism and empathy, as you can imagine, don’t go together very well.  It’s like going to a foreign country where you’ve learned the basics of the language but aren’t fluent.   You can learn the “words” but it’ll be clear very soon to a native speaker that you really don’t get the language.  All too often, sex addicts can learn “formulas” of things to say but these phrases quickly ring hollow to many partners, as they really want their partners to FEEL the pain that they are experiencing.

Developing empathy CAN be done, but it does take time.  It will take some patience on the part of the partner, as this is a new language being developed by the addict.  I do want to say first that it is NOT the partner’s job to teach empathy to their addicted spouse/partner.  It is the addict’s job to learn these skills with the help of his/her therapist, sponsor, and recovery team.  Relationships starved of empathy are painful and traumatic, so it’s imperative that addicts begin learning these skills ASAP in the recovery process if they want to bring restoration to their relationships.

So what are some ways that addicts can start to learn the new language of empathy?

  1. Brene Brown has an excellent short description of empathy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw
  2. I’ve often found “indirect” resources to be really helpful.  Many addicts can start to “get it” as they hear the words of others.  When they hear the words of other partners in a non-threatened state they can better gain empathy for their own partner’s pain.  Wendy Conquest has a great book of letters that helps addicts gain empathy: Letters to a Sex Addict.
  3. Doug Weiss also has an excellent video called Helping Her HealThis is an important resource from a man in recovery, talking to other men, helping them to understand the impact of their behaviors on their partners.
  4. Jason Martinkus’s book Worthy of Her Trust is another good resource.
  5. I’ve also found it helpful for addicts to draw out a scene of the destructive impact of sex addiction on their relationships, families, and worlds.  This isn’t meant to shame the addict, but rather to help them feel the impact of their behaviors on others around them.  This can be a powerful exercise done in a group.
  6. Speaking of group, therapy groups are invaluable – other recovering addicts can provide support and feedback, as well as perspective to help sex addicts “get it”
  7. In addition to group therapy, targeting underlying abuse or core wounding can help an addict develop empathy.  If the addict is completely blocked off to their own wounding and has no empathy for the wounded parts of themselves, I find it very difficult for them to find empathy for their spouses or others around them.
  8. Impact letters, or other such letters written by partners can be very helpful for addicts.  As they read and absorb the impact of the pain they have caused on their loved ones they begin opening their eyes more and more to the pain of their partners.
  9. Working the 12-steps and giving a 9th step amends is another way an addict learns what impact their behaviors had on others around them, and challenges them to take responsibility for their actions.  An emotional restitution exercise in response to their partner’s impact letter is another exercise that an addict can do.
  10. Finally, I often find it helpful for addicts to carry around a picture of their partner as a young child.  So often, anger is the first protective emotion that partners express.  Addicts brace for battle with their partners as the “enemy,” all too often losing sight of the wounded little girl/boy that was devastated with the betrayal.  Seeing the young child part of their partner and being reminded of that innocence can help some to better feel the impact of their actions on their partners.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of empathy-building tools, but it’s a way to help addicts start developing the new language of empathy.  Again, this will take time and patience, but with dedication an addict CAN learn the new language of empathy if they are committed to learning it. If you have other tools or suggestions, please let me know so I can add to this list.


Partner Resources | Sex Addiction Resources

New Book Coming out – Early 2017!

September 30, 2016 | Banyan Therapy Group

There’s so much to say about this project, but I’ve been fortunate to be working with Wendy Conquest on a sequal to her first book, “Letters to a Sex Addict” – http://www.wendyconquest.com/MyBook.en.html.

We’re excited to announce that we’re getting closer to finishing our book, “Letters from a Sex Addict,” and hope to release it in early 2017.

I’m grateful for the chance to work with Wendy, and we hope that this book will help men and women struggling with sex addiction to “get it” better, and to give some hope to those in relationship with these women and men.

Stay tuned!


Partner Resources | Sex Addiction Resources

Election 2016?

May 7, 2016 | Banyan Therapy Group

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

So what do you think of this election?  Trump?  Hillary?  Bernie?  What about Cruz?  This is a controversial election this year, and people are expressing so many different opinions.  I’m curious how this is playing out in families across the country (and world).  Let me know what you think!


Media/News

STAYING after Infidelity – The New Scarlet Letter

August 27, 2015 | Banyan Therapy Group

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

Partners have been sharing this theme with me for some time, so in the aftermath of the Ashley Madison hack I knew I needed to write about the experience of a betrayed partner who chooses to stay in a relationship after the discovery/disclosure of infidelity.

I was asked to write a guest article for digitalromanceinc.com about staying in a relationship after infidelity.  Please take a look and let me know what you think: http://digitalromanceinc.com/mens/infidelity-staying-after-the-new-scarlet-letter/#comment-473663.


Partner Resources | Sex Addiction Resources

Gaslighting

July 7, 2015 | Banyan Therapy Group

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation.  The term comes from the movie with the same name, and it is a strategy where one individual manipulates of the reality of another.  These patterns can range from subtle to extreme, but the impact often leaves the one who is gaslighted questioning their own reality.

Sexual addicts use gaslighting in relationships at times to preserve their relationship with their addiction.  Throwing their partners off the track, if the addict can keep his/her partner thinking the PARTNER is the problem, then the partner will not as effectively question the behaviors of the addict.  Addicts at times do this overtly and consciously, and at times do it without even realizing it.  Yet the impact of gaslighting on the partner and on the relationship is devastating.  Gaslighting must stop if a relationship has a chance for healing, restoration, and reconciliation.

I found the following article on gaslighting interesting, as it portrays an individual’s experience with gaslighting in a relationship and what she learned:

https://medium.com/@sheaemmafett/10-things-i-wish-i-d-known-about-gaslighting-22234cb5e407


Partner Resources | Sex Addiction Resources

Sex Sells – Who Pays the Price?

June 2, 2015 | Banyan Therapy Group

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

The organization Treasures does a lot of great work to help women who would like to get out of the sex industry.  They created a video to address the issues of sex and the sex industry, and I was fortunate to have been interviewed in the video.

Check it out and let me know what you think:


Media/News | Sex Addiction Resources

The Language of Lying

March 12, 2015 | Banyan Therapy Group

by Dan Drake, LMFT, LCPP, CCPS-S, CSAT-S

 

For anyone reading this who is a sex addict or who is in relationship with someone who is addicted, you know that lying is a big part of the addiction: It helps to hide behaviors, get partners off the trail, and I usually find that the first person that addicts learn to deceive is themselves.  Most addicts learn to lie as a coping strategy from a very young age, before it was ever used to mask their addictive behaviors.  Lying helped them to survive in a world or in a family that wasn’t safe for them to fully be themselves.

I was forwarded this TED Talk on lying through POSARC (http://posarc.com/blog-roll/item/how-do-you-spot-a-lie) and thought I’d share it here.  For partners who are trying to rebuild trust in their relationships and in their own intuition, here are some ways you can look at language to better rebuild trust in the truth.

Let me know what you think!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0-WkpmTPrM


Partner Resources | Sex Addiction Resources