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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In her previous post, Lacy introduced the eight values that brought her out of her distracted life and into a life of recovery, healing, and true connection. These eight values are:
- Empowerment through Courage
- Here and Now
- Personal Responsibility
- Sacrifice and Service
In this post, she provides an overview of each of these values, so readers can see where they are headed in this summer-long examination of love addiction and healing.
Accountability is the act of reporting how things are going, honestly. There is a great deal of shame around many of the things you do or have done. An accountability partner acts as a safe place to pull out those embarrassing parts of life and share them. Fear of rejection suffocates hope, leaving all it touches without the light needed for change. By sharing these thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors with a trustworthy woman in your life, you can re-evaluate them and see them more clearly. By being accountable for what is happening in the present, you can stop stockpiling mistakes and start to wipe them out as you go along. This will also help you decrease negative behaviors because you know you will need to report them.
An investigative inventory gives an overview of what you have done, where you have been, and what events have impacted your life. While I do not encourage deep investigations into past abuse without the support of a responsible, well-trained therapist, knowing those events are there helps. By doing an inventory, you will be able to see patterns, seek validation to move forward, and find your part in your own history. It will also help you understand things you have done well in the past that may offer valuable tools for your current journey. For example, I never knew my upbringing wasn’t “normal” until adulthood. Looking back, though, I see what a determined, resilient child I was. Seeing those traits from a young age made them more available to me in my present life. Without the inventory of my strengths, I may have missed the fact that I carried those skills all along.
Making empowered choices for yourself, then empowering others to do the same, brings you to a new level of relationship. With empowered choices, you can think more clearly, make better decisions, and find more lasting peace in the events you helped to create. There is no place for blame in a recovered life. Taking responsibility feeds empowerment, leaving us with more options in the long run. It also takes courage, which, when used, increases feelings of empowerment. Good stuff!
Honesty is imperative for real movement in any area. It makes the future a great deal easier to face because there is less to cover up and keep track of. Worry about clean-up later; right now, just begin by working to stay honest moving forward. If those around you know you can be trusted to speak and report only truth, change will be easier for you to make and for them to accept.
Here and Now
Learning to live in the here and now can be especially challenging in the beginning. We get used to letting ourselves be distracted when uncomfortable emotions set in, when what we need to do is stay connected to the moment and learn from it. Why is it uncomfortable? What are you worried about, upset by, or hiding from? By confronting the answers to these questions, you can start to unravel the reasons for needing the distraction and learn to kick them out of your life.
Responsibility is one of the final values for a good reason. It can be deeply terrifying. Realizing you are fully responsible for your part in the past and in the creation of the present and future can be overwhelming. It is also at the root of empowered decision-making. Taking responsibility used to scare me. Now, I see it as a chance to invite another person to see how human I can be. Most people respond well to full personal responsibility. Those who take this type of responsibility never have to worry about what might catch up to them because they already know how to handle it: with the truth and in humble confession.
Sacrifice, Service, and Gratitude
Making sacrifices, then serving others, takes the focus off ourselves and opens our hearts to those around us. This feeds directly into gratitude. Gratitude is often overlooked in trying to change habits. I’ll tell you, though, it truly helps. By experiencing, staying with, and expressing gratitude, our hearts start to see more beauty around us. What you focus on will become your reality, like holding a small pebble up close to your eye becomes all you can see. Full expressions of gratitude include service to others as well.