Material from this post is taken from the S-Anon Blue Book, Copyright by S-Anon International Family Groups, P.O. Box 17294, Nashville, TN 37217, (615) 833-3152; reprinted with permission.

Is This Gaslighting? How Can We Figure This Out?

Last week, I talked about Matthew 9:18 and how I prayed that Jesus could bring my spiritually dead husband back to life.

Another woman going 12 Step Scriptures posted Matthew 8:22 on social media, responding to my prayer.

In Matthew 8:19, a scribe approaches Jesus and says, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” And in verse 21, “And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.”

To me this sounds like a reasonable request. “Hold on while I do this super important thing, then I’ll follow you.”

But Jesus says to him in verse 22, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.”

I’ve been pondering this verse ever since. What does this mean?

If I see this as a metaphor, and that in this case, death is spiritual death, is Christ telling me, “Follow me; let the spiritually dead people focus on other spiritually dead people”?

Or in other words, “Follow me; let the spiritually dead worry about the spiritually dead?”

Or “If you continue to fret over this spiritually dead person, you too will be come spiritually dead.”

I don’t know exactly what it means, but I intend to ponder on this more. If anyone has insights, please comment on this post below. You can comment anonymously, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Step 1: We Admitted We Were Powerless Over Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Abuse, and Pornography Addiction & That Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable

The S-Anon Blue Book gives us some incredible insights into unmanageability. It reads, “We are concerned with two principles in Step One: that we cannot control the sexaholic or his or her sexual behavior, and that because of our attempts to do so our lives have become unmanageable” (S-Anon, 1).

I am convinced that pornography addicts exhibit similar behaviors to those with narcissistic personality disorder. The more we attempt to uncover the truth, the more our own reality unravels. Even those of us who are not naturally codependent, find ourselves in a confusing world of drama, attempting to sort out what is really happening and why.

“Accepting our powerlessness is our first admission that we “give up.” This may feel defeating and very frightening at first. In the past, we depended upon ourselves to get through every crisis or difficulty. We relied on our intellects, our theologies, our past experiences and on new schemes and strategies we developed. We felt sure that each new strategy would work, and even when it didn’t, we just bounced back with even more self-sufficiency and determination to succeed the next time. Our natural impulses were to take over, to force the issue, to make changes. We perceived ourselves to be more competent that the sexaholic and felt sure that being “strong” was the answer” (S-Anon, 1).

“We slowly started to come out of of our denial and isolation, we were able to admit that there was something wrong in our homes and our relationships. We could no longer try to right those wrongs ourselves, so we came for help. Only through this utter surrender do we find strength. Our human will power cannot break the bonds of compulsive behavior, but our admission of powerlessness lays a firm foundation upon which to build our lives” (S-Anon, 3).

Does My Husband Act This Way Because He’s Narcissistic?

When I first observed my husband’s abusive behaviors before our marriage, I responded by trying to figure out what was happening. I could describe my entire philosophy of life as, “Let’s get to the root of this. Together we can solve anything.”

The S-Anon Blue book states, “We experienced anger, disbelief, humiliation, betrayal, fear anxiety, depression, hopelessness, guilt, and numbness to name just a few. In Step One, we saw that our attempts to control or deny, so often driven by these powerful emotions, resulted in unmanageability in virtually every aspect of our lives” (S-Anon, 11).

Whether you’re a codependent, or whether your behaviors stem from trauma really isn’t the issue. I wanted labels for everything when I first started. But now, the labels don’t matter as much.
“It was difficult for most of us to make the transition from focusing on the behavior of the sexaholic to focusing on the ways in which our reactions to the sexaholism contributed to the unmanageability of our lives” (S-Anon, 11).

“Many of us had to ask our Higher Power to help us cultivate attitudes of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness to admit that our efforts to cope with sexaholism had failed” (S-Anon, 12).

My efforts to cope with my husband’s behaviors failed. I completely failed. I tried for years to come up with a name for it: borderline personality disorder, gaslighting, narcissism . . . thinking that defining it would help me resolve it.

But all my efforts failed. And then I was left with the wreckage of my desperate attempts, catastrophic financial loss, anxiety, fear for my children – the the wreckage itself is unmanageable.
That’s the beauty of Step 1. All I had to do was admit that. That’s it. All I had to do was finally come to grips with the reality of my situation and tell the truth: it’s really bad, it’s beyond repair, it’s completely unmanageable.

And I return to this place of honesty frequently.

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