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As a site that is written for women, I am grateful today to be discussing sexual addiction because it has most likely affected us. Pornography and sexual addiction can be destructive and damaging to individuals and families. It is a serious issue within our society. And one of the hardest parts about this problem is most victims and sufferers feel too ashamed to find help. They suffer alone and feel alone. At Mumsy we strive to provide an uplifting place among all the garbage online in any way possible. Sometimes we write about the simple joys in life. And days like today, we try to share hope for those struggling with the hard things too. These addictions are common and most likely we know someone who has struggled. Maybe you have experience or advice. Maybe you have been or are being affected. There is hope. So here's a Friday read that's great for creating awareness about sexual addiction or directing you to help, whatever the case. Have a happy and awesome weekend!
Much love,


Sexual Addiction & Attachment Rupture

It is no secret that pornography and sexual addiction are rampant in our world today. Renowned neurosurgeon and author Donald Hilton has shared that pornography addiction will have an impact on every family, whether from direct impact on an immediate family member or from the impact on a loved one who is related to us.
One reason we have to start making this problem something more people talk about and deal with in effective ways is the fact that the destruction left in its wake is immense. Marriages and families are being torn apart and single men and women are more often not entering into long term relationships. This is because of the impact the addiction is having on the hearts and minds of those in it’s grasp and on the confidence and trust of those trying to date and attach with them.
The goal of this post is to help you understand what a secure attachment relationship looks like and what an addiction does to a secure attachment that either has existed before or that is trying to be made.
A secure attachment is developed in a relationship when the needs of safety, belonging, and esteem are being met through connecting with and relying on someone who we love and who loves us.
Safety is a need that is described as feeling both physically safe and emotionally safe. Physically feeling safe is having enough food, clothing, shelter, and not feeling the fear of being abused physically. And emotionally feeling safe means my thoughts and expressions are accepted and I am not made to feel that I am stupid or worthless; I don’t feel emotionally abused or manipulated and lied to.
Belonging is a feeling that I have an important spot in this relationship, I know that if I were gone not only would it be noticed, but I would be missed and I could not be easily replaced. I am special, respected, and valued.
Esteem is simply the feeling that I am worthy of love and connection; that physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially I am enough and worthy of love and connection.
We experience the dance of attachment working properly when we feel stress or pressure in life tied to one of these 3 basic needs and we can turn to a primary attachment figure and have our need met as we connect with them. We call this secure attachment. Secure attachment is a beautiful dance where we work together to meet each others needs and in the end we both feel relaxation. Each time this dance happens we build a little more attachment and trust. 
The classic example of a hungry baby feeling the physical stress of a hungry stomach and as a result of that stress cries to it’s mother resulting in the mother feeling the stress of wanting to be enough for and to nurture her baby and feel it’s love (belonging and esteem stress). At this point both baby and mother are feeling stress, but as all healthy moms do, this mother knows how to read and understand her babies cues and stress and picks him up to feed him. As the baby starts eating and feels the warm milk calming his stomach he relaxes into his mothers arms. The baby feels relaxation as his physical needs are met, and the mother relaxes as she feels the baby relax and look up to her with eyes that seem to say, “thank you, I love that you know just how to help me feel better” and her needs of belonging and esteem have been met. 

As we continue through life we should develop a few key attachment relationships including with our primary care giver as a child which usually includes mother, father, and/or grandparent. And as we grow older we begin to find others who can serve as attachment figures including a very trusted friend, God, and eventually with marriage, our spouse. The healthiest among us are those who have secure attachments with all of these people and who enjoy a consistent, nearly constant sense of relaxation and fulfillment in these secure attachment relationships. 
The reality is however that most people experience insecure attachment to some extent in their lives. The two most common styles of insecure attachment that can develop are avoidant and anxious. 
Avoidant attachment is where we get stuck with the stress and pressures of life because we learn it isn’t safe or certain to turn to someone else to have our needs met. We isolate and shove down feelings of sadness, pain, uncertainty, shame, and keep these negative emotions in check by ignoring them or compartmentalizing them away. The problem with avoidant attachment style is that we can only take so much of the pressure that comes with bottling up and ignoring our feelings and once the pressure is great enough it has to be released in some way. Many times the way this pressure is released is by taking some sort of shortcut to relaxation that bypasses the person who could have been an attachment figure for us. One major shortcut that we learn to take is to use an addictive substance or activity to numb out feelings of pressure and pain and to take us to a state of relaxation.
Anxious attachment often develops as a result of being in a relationship with someone who has the avoidant style. The anxious feelings come from the fact that this person who is supposed to be connecting with me to have their needs met is not doing so, and I feel cut out of the role I should be playing. As a result those who develop anxious attachment may feel like for my part I feel an inability to move on to relaxation even when my needs are being met to some extent because I can’t trust that there will be consistency in the relationship. I feel uncertain as to whether or not this person I want to connect with will be emotionally available the next time I need them to be, or will they be distant, disconnected and avoidant. Therefore as the spouse of someone who is struggling with addiction and who is resorting to avoidant attachment, it is very difficult to not end up with an anxious attachment style.
This avoidant and anxious dance is not a fulfilling one. Many wives in the couples I see who are beginning recovery for sexual addiction and betrayal trauma report having felt crazy in their relationship and didn’t know why until they realized the anxious dance they were doing as a result of the addiction of their spouse. 
Betrayal trauma is usually the triggering factor in a wife of an addict returning to the anxious style. Betrayal trauma in a nut shell is the emotional, spiritual, physiological and even social stress and heartache that comes with the three needs of attachment are not only being neglected, but violated. With sexual addiction it is impossible for a wife to feel safety, belonging and esteem. How could one feel safe when she doesn’t know the next time there may be a relapse? How could one feel belonging when they see themselves being replaced by the women that her husband lusts after while participating in pornography? How could she feel esteem when she feels that she is being compared to a pornography model who is probably younger, hasn’t had kids yet, and is photoshopped to tantalize and elicit the highest level of arousal possible?  Combine all these things with the fact that a husband is usually feeling toxic shame because of his addiction which makes him more avoidant and we find a recipe for an attachment rupture. 
The great silver lining to this dark cloud is that the human brain is capable of healing and changing. With significant work and the help of competent professionals people are healing the attachment ruptures that have happened in their lives and they are learning what it is to restore secure attachment to their lives and their relationships with themselves, God, and with their spouses.
If you or someone you love is experiencing insecure attachment as a result of addiction please know that you are not alone. This problem, as stated in the opening paragraph, is one that is touching every family whether immediate or extended. You can bet that someone you love is being affected. Here are some links to resources:
http://rhyllrecovery.com/


Contributed by Jed Anderson, Clinical Mental Health Counselor



Jed can be reached directly at jed@ldshopeandrecovery.com



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