By: Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, PCC, CSAT
Shame is the reason that sex addicts are resistant to working on their recovery and yet reducing shame is the # 1 benefit of working on recovery. Shame is that feeling that your actions have made you so unworthy that you don't deserve to get healthy and be a contributor to society. Shame makes you believe that you are worthless, unlovable, demonic, horrible, and untreatable.
The secret to breaking the addiction is to come out of the shadows of the addiction and stop keeping it secret. How ironic that the very secret that holds you hostage is the "thing" that you need to disclose to a supportive person to get healthy. When you find a person, a clinician, a community, a sponsor, or a treatment center to start sharing your inner most fears and secrets, you break out of the emotional bondage and begin to heal. People who never find this support continue to stay in the despairs of their addiction and will continue to foster the notion that there is nothing out there that will free them from their inner secrets.
You can break free from your shame but you can't do it alone. Isolation keeps you in shame and keeps the addiction fortified.
To start the process of recovery requires that you:
- Find a trusted resource to begin to disclose the depths of your addiction.
- Develop a network of support to assist you in breaking free from the addiction.
When you get therapeutic help for this secret---the sexual addiction---- you will begin to experience the relief of beginning to live a value congruent life. As with any addiction, you hate the person that you have become but you don't know how to turn it around. When you seek treatment with a certified sexual addiction therapist, or begin to attend 12 step groups for sexual addiction, you will learn skills to dramatically change the way you have been living your life. You will receive support to forgive yourself and to move forward in your life.
Why aren't we talking about this disorder?
Sexual Addiction is not just your problem but it is a societal problem. Our culture has done a disservice to you by sexualizing most everything we see or hear Sex is something that is objectified everywhere. You see it glorified in the movies, in print, in advertising, on billboards, and yet we are afraid to speak about it using correct terminology on television or on radio. Parents cringe at having to have the talk with their kids, let alone check in with their child and talk about the boundaries a child should have for their body's sake. Families have difficulty talking about protection from sexual abuse or exploitation and as a result there is an underlying message that one cannot talk openly about sex. This of course magnifies if someone has thoughts or fantasies that appear deviant. Kids and adults are not encouraged to seek help from their families, their schools or their employers if they have a concern that is sexually based.
Sex in and of itself has a secretive shame based connotation and so the thoughts and behaviors escalate before they get acknowledged.
Despite these factors, it is your responsibility to find the resources to break the shame and come out of the shadows of sexual addiction.
If you are reading this blog...know that this is a safe place to visit to begin to treat your sexual issues and shame.
Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW, PCC, CSAT, is currently in private practice in Indianapolis, IN. She speaks nationally on mental health issues and is featured in several local magazines. She currently has an internet radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com/sexhelpwithcarolthecoach and does regular television segments focusing on life skills to improve one's potential. You can read her blogs at www.carolthecoach.com.