Finding Your Joy In The Chaos Of Abuse
***Podcast disclaimer: Early in Anne’s healing journey, as are many women, she was exposed to the codependency model for recovery from being married to a sex addict. She has since realized that she and other wives of addicts have truly experienced betrayal trauma. Betrayal Trauma Recovery no longer supports the codependency model because it has been found to cause more harm than good. Betrayal Trauma Recovery strictly uses the trauma model for assisting women who are seeking peace and safety amid the chaos of their reality.
Anne continues to utilize the 12-step manual for developing and improving her own relationship with God. Anne now uses the trauma model for her own healing. You can find more about her thoughts on this podcast here.***
We’ve Lost Joy Because We’ve Been Abused
As women who have experienced years of gaslighting, lies, manipulation and deceit, they sometimes forget who they are. We have been told by our spouse or partner, and sometimes others, that there is something wrong with us, so we try to change ourselves.
Though far from perfect, there isn’t something “wrong” with us. We have been abused by an addict. Figuring out who we really are and learning to trust ourselves again can take some time. It is a journey that we must go on so we can, eventually, find peace and healing.
For some women, we have lost our ability to trust our gut or intuition. We have believed the false messages that have been given to us. We convince ourselves that they must be right, because there are so many others that are telling us this “truth.”
Many of us started our relationship as strong, confident, independent women who knew who we were and what we enjoyed. We trusted ourselves. Losing ourselves in the lies has been a slow excruciating death to our inner strength and self-worth.
These lies tell us that we are not enough, that we will never be enough. They tell us that we are too fat, too thin, too pretty, too ugly, too energetic, too lazy. It was easier to believe the lies than to fight for the truth.
Unfortunately, these lies will be the truth to those who are active in addiction and abuse. Our husbands believe these lies about us because, most often, they are the ones who made them up. They will continue to believe them until they get themselves into recovery, and even then, it will take some time before they stop believing them.
Stop Believing the Lies And Find Your Joy
We don’t need to believe these lies.
Yes, it will be difficult to change the beliefs we have about ourselves, but it can be done. Once we change these internal beliefs, we can trust ourselves. We will have the courage to keeps ourselves and our children safe. We will have the confidence to know that those old beliefs, those are the lies. We will feel valued and worthy of love and respect.
You are probably wondering, “How do I get there? How do I find myself? How do I learn to trust myself again?”
There are several ways we can do this, but, before we start, we need to recognize that we have lost ourselves. We need to recognize, even if we don’t believe it at first, that those lies, are just that, lies.
This can be a difficult journey. We will find many roadblocks and detours on the road to discovering ourselves.
Anne’s journey brought her to creating Betrayal Trauma Recovery. It brought her to starting a podcast, something she’d never even considered before. Some women discover new talents. Other women rediscover their talents.
As we go on this journey, we may find that something we once enjoyed can bring us joy again. We may find that something we once disliked doing, can bring us joy.
No matter what you find, you will discover that you can be joyful again.
How To Find Your Joy Again
Once we recognize that we are lost, and that we’ve been believing the lies, we can start our journey to self-discovery.
8 Steps For Finding Your Joy:
- Take a deep breath and let it out, because this might be more difficult than it seems.
- Think about activities that used to bring you joy. These could be writing, reading, singing, dancing, running, drawing—anything. If it helps, write these down.
- Ponder, pray, meditate—whatever it is you do—to determine which activity you want to try first.
- Take the leap. This might be the most difficult step since your capacity might be maxed out.
- Try a different activity or try a new version of the activity. If that activity doesn’t bring you joy or fulfillment like it used to, you may have outgrown it, or you may not be ready to do it again. For instance, if you used to write and fiction doesn't work for you anymore, try writing about your experience. If you used to enjoy drawing, but that isn’t working for you anymore, maybe try painting, or some other art form. Try yoga instead of aerobics.
- Make time. If you find your joy in that activity, continue making time to do it.
- Seek help from a trusted friend or family member, if you find yourself stuck after taking all these steps.
- Seek professional help, if you are completely stuck and a friend or family member hasn’t been any help. Try an Individual Session on Healing My Self Worth.
Finding Your Joy May Help You Find Your Voice
For women whose husbands or partners are actively working a solid recovery, this might be a little easier.
For women whose husbands or partners are still active in their addiction and abuse, this may be more difficult.
For some, it may seem a daunting task to even think of what used to bring us joy.
For others, it may be easy to remember and find the joy.
This journey will be different for everyone, but once you find your joy, you may also find your voice. When you find your voice, you will find that you have a lot to say, in whatever way your voice comes out.
Before beginning this journey, it might be wise to set healthy boundaries so that you will have the safety to try it. You can find more information on boundaries here. You can also try an Individual Session on Setting & Holding Healthy Boundaries.
Journey to Healing & Joy (workbook)
Creating A Plan For Healing Individual Session