I mean this both physically and symbolically. My husband likes to sleep in a dark room, and would rarely open the curtains during the day to let light in. After finding out all he had kept from me, one of the things I started doing was to open the curtains and let in the light. I did not want to be in any kind of darkness that he created. I craved light, in all its forms.
In my example of the graduates (in part 1) I talked about a flashlight, and the reminder to shine their light in dark places. My friends, addiction and betrayal trauma are very dark places, and we have lived in them. When my spouse chose to share some of his secrets with me I was plunged into a darkness so black I thought I would never find my way out. In order to begin my recovery and find healing I needed to learn how to come out of the darkness.
I was lost, frozen, and broken. After being married to a practicing addict (though I didn’t know it) for over a decade, I was filled with confusion. There were places in my soul I just didn’t go because they hurt too much. The pathways in my soul that should’ve been filled with light that comes from connecting to my God were filled with dust and cobwebs. They were vacant, empty caverns that echoed with silence because I didn’t go to those places anymore.
Living with an addict had left me with a superficial relationship with my Higher Power. I had learned not to delve too deeply in any relationship, especially one with divinity, because that would’ve meant honesty about myself and my feelings, and honesty about my marriage. That was a painful reality I didn’t know how to face, so I instinctively hid from my God, and hid from myself.
After discovering the addiction I didn’t know where to go or what to do, and I turned to the God of my understanding. As I opened myself up to Him, it felt like a blast of light swept through my soul and threw the doors wide open that I had closed. In an instant the cobwebs, the dust, some of the twisted ideas that I had started to buy into were cleared out of my soul. This light cleared up so much darkness and gave me the ability to see a way out of the pit. The darkness was not eradicated, but the doors were opened and I could see better than I had in years.
The Light of Education
Turning to Him was the first step I took, and it was just the beginning. His light allowed me to see, but I was still in a dark, dreary pit. Thank goodness for qualified therapists! My spouse and I both met with the same therapist who was well trained in sexual addiction and betrayal trauma. (Not sure how to find a qualified therapist? These questions can help.)
This therapist had so much light that shone down into my pit of blackness. Through the therapy sessions (both individual sessions and couple sessions) my husband and I began to receive education about sexual addiction and betrayal trauma. This education was a light to my soul. There was only so much I could understand at once, so the light was not a blazing torch at the beginning. As I progressed I was able to absorb more education and seek more of the light that came from understanding and knowledge.
The Light that Others Share
Our therapist was the first one to recommend a 12 step group for me. I didn’t understand why I needed to go. My husband was the one with the addiction, it didn’t make sense to my why I needed to work a 12 step program. But recognizing that I was not the expert, and that I was in way over my head, I chose to listen and attend a group.
Through that group I found more light in the stories of the women who attended, and in their hope and strength that they shared. I was given more educational materials (the most helpful for me was, and still is, the Circles Model), and as I chose to keep attending, week after week, I was able to open myself up to more knowledge and light.
Whatever our individual faith tradition might be, the 12 steps have the ability to teach us about the spiritual nature of recovery, the power that comes from submitting to a Power greater than us, and allowing that Power to work in our lives.
I didn’t like the darkness I was in and I wanted a way out. I learned to turn to my Higher Power for support, guidance, strength, and comfort in a way that I had never been able to do before. As I turned to Him, He gave me light that was bright enough to find my way out of the pit. I still had to do the work, I still had to move my feet. But I could see which direction to go.
Light is the only thing that can combat darkness. I learned to seek physical light in my life, find divine light from a Higher Power in this universe, accept light from gaining education, and find hope in light that shone from others working their recovery. There are many sources of light that will help us find the way out of that dark pit. If we open our eyes they shine for us. As we work our recovery we can be that light for others.
In this world of recovery you may be new, or you may have been working recovery for years. What do you do to not just survive, but thrive? What is in your survival kit? What would you share? How do you find your way in dark places?
I look forward to hearing from you.