Every week during my Saturday class on prayer, action and the contemplative life, we start off with a practice called Lectio Divina.
This is a form of mediation/contemplation where our professor read a passage from a sacred text (in this case scripture) out loud four times while observing periods of silence in between each reading.
Then, after the fourth reading, our professor incorporates the sacred text into a prayer and then we all share any thoughts, images or reflections that came up for us.
It is really a lovely process, and, for my personal practice, I always pull a card from my favorite deck, Tarot of the Spirit, and perform Lectio on the divinatory meaning for the card. So, lovely and enriching for my spiritual health.
Anyway! The point is that a couple of Saturdays ago, the reading from scripture had to do with how God loves all things – both good and bad – and how we ought to try to be like God.
I don’t know about you but I’m not 100% certain that I want to love all things. Say, for instance, my ex-husband or, more specifically, his sex addiction. You know what they say, “Love the addict. Hate the addiction.”
I want you to know that I try. I really do. We see each other all the time because we have gotten really good at co-parenting. It was for sure not that way in the beginning but, for the most part, we get along fine.
But the truth is that we get along fine because I choose to. Because I have made a conscious choice to put the past behind us (as best as one can with PTSD) and move on. After all, I am most joyously remarried and I would truly not trade the life I have today or – more importantly – the WOMAN I am today to have my turn out any other way.
It has taken me a lot of work (i.e. therapy, coaching, seminary, retreats, 12 steps, etc.) to get to this point. And, still…when I read that God wants me to LOVE ALL THINGS. That pill is still just a little bitter for me to swallow.
Especially given that I still witness the pain that sex addiction has caused in my women’s group made up of other ex-partners of sex addicts. And for sure given that there happens to be a recovering sex addict in my class.
Truly, that story deserves a LoveLetter all of its own, but the short story is that one of my ex’s best friends and fellow recovering sex addicts has joined my program at seminary.
I discovered this on the first day of class this semester and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was doubled over, sobbing in the hallway…gasping for air while my good friend tried to comfort me.
Oh, yes. The trauma is real. I almost dropped the class and for about 48 hours I was super pissed at God. I finally get myself together, find crystal clear clarity about what God is calling me to do, develop a plan to graduate so that I can carry it out and THEN HE PUTS A SEX ADDICT THAT I KNOW IN MY SCHOOL??!!
I mean, you can’t make this shit up. I can laugh about it now but, like I said, I was a wreck for about 48 hours but with the help of ETT therapy, my sisterhood, my husband and, of course, queso, I found the resolve to say, “I’M NOT RUNNING.”
My life has been waylaid so many times by sex addiction and I’m done running. I need this class to graduate and, so, I’m sticking it out. Most of the time it is fine, but other times…Like when we read a scripture about loving all things…I find that I just have to say, “Pass” when it’s my time to share. I think I actually said something super awkward like, “I don’t want to talk!” Which was fine. I didn’t have to.
But this whole experience happened just a few days before I attended the Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS) training wherein I discovered that I needed to work on my empathy for sex addicts. It’s not that I don’t have empathy. If anything, I tend to have too much and that’s why I probably stayed longer in my marriage to a sex addict than was healthy for me.
I also know that the majority of partners of sex addicts choose to stay married and so I am, of course, empathetic to both their choice and their husband. I am, after all, a recovering alcoholic and so I truly, truly get that it’s a disease.
AND, I also cannot stand it when I see a partner’s empathy being used to manipulate her and I consider that part of my duty as her life coach to call it out. In very, loving and “Jenni” sort of way, obviously. Okay, enough soapboxing already. At least I am not beatboxing. That would be bad.