Sex and Relationship Healing is pleased to partner with Lacy Bentley, host of our Tuesday Women’s Sex/Love Addiction drop-in discussion group and our Thursday Women’s Porn Addiction drop-in discussion group, for our Summer of Love (Addiction). This wonderful series examining women, love addiction, fantasy, pornography, and healing is drawn from Lacy’s book, Addicted to Love.
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I have compiled a list of the habits that finally brought me out of my distracted life and into the beautiful life I had all along. These habits are called “values” in my book, as they are more than just habits or steps. They are changes in how we view and interact with the world. As you recover, you will have the opportunity to dig deep into your behaviors and root out the damaged parts of yourself, replacing those parts with healthy skills that work.
Admitting to the problem is critical. Committing to the work is necessary. Learning new ways of being will help fill the void left by the absence of destructive patterns. These are more than suggestions, they are character traits that will change the way you do everything. They are also not “steps” along a path, but new ways of interacting with the world around you. You will decide how to best incorporate them into your life. I will only shine the light on the jewels, urging you to pick them up.
Some of these values will feel familiar, others will not. Many will be concepts you have heard but are presented in a new light here. Using them in the ways suggested may feel awkward or like an ill-fitting pair of shoes at first. If you just hang in there and keep practicing, they will start to feel more comfortable. It took twenty, thirty, forty, sixty or more years to get where you are now. You’ve learned habits and coping skills along the way that are deeply ingrained. These will take time to change out for the new and improved skill sets now available to you.
I have broken the process into eight key values, as mentioned. Each value builds on the ones before and feeds into those that come after. For example, you will work on honesty before you work on taking responsibility for your actions and the state of your life. But before you work on honesty, you will work on accountability and courage. These skills will help you prepare for the inevitable triggers of life. Previously, these triggers sent you into fantasy, erotic literature, or some other form of sex-based distraction. Now you will learn to manage these triggers with integrity.
A word of caution: Withdrawal from any behaviors or habitual thought patterns mentioned at any point in this book is very real. You may feel extra fatigued, moody, anxious, hungry, vulnerable, shaky, or even like you have the flu. Basically, if you feel like you have the flu or are losing your mind, it just might be withdrawal. Yours may be more or less severe, depending on the length of time and depth of distracting habits. You will crave your drug of choice (ahem, interactions with a target) as if it were a physical drug. We will call these compulsive drives. They can be strong, but you are stronger. They rarely last long (from a few minutes to a few hours), and once you get through them, they begin to space further and further apart, eventually becoming less intense or stopping altogether.
So, as you read this series of blogs (or my book), if you feel especially drawn to one concept over another, go ahead and read it. Spend time with a few things you feel ready for, then circle back. While it is important to understand how the values build on and support each other, it is more important that you maintain movement in the early stages of change, and move in places you are ready to move in. The values will fall into place, just do not neglect to give them each the attention they need.
Our eight values:
- Empowerment through Courage
- Here and Now
- Personal Responsibility
- Sacrifice and Service
In Lacy’s next post to this site, the eight values listed above will be examined and explained.