The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the (wo)man who descends to the depth of his/her heart. ~Julien Green
Fresh coffee, check.
Partner’s workbook, check.
Committed to making sense of our lives, check.
Walk through the door, hug, settle into comfy chairs. Check.
Recognize again a sinking in-over-my-head feeling? Check.
Frankly, I was stumped.
Women began reaching out to me after my husband and I started sharing our story at church. When asked for recommendations about helpful books or websites, I often endorsed Marsha Mean’s website and partner workbook. Two women trying to make sense of their troubling “new kind of normal” feelings followed up by asking if I would lead them through the workbook. I loved them, and since I’d led countless groups through the years, prayerfully decided to move ahead.
I strongly believe in the power of groups, knowing they provide an opportunity to share our stories, feel heard, understood, and connect at deep levels. I’d sat with others working through the knotty issues of life that brought grief, anger, abandonment or fear into their worlds. Although still new into my own healing, I trusted the workbook content would serve as a guide for our meetings. Plus, understanding group dynamics, I believed coming together around the common experience of our husband’s compulsive sexual behaviors - and a study guide created by a partner expert to help us process - would yield understanding and relief.
Instead, raw grief and rage erupted each week invariably resulting in lengthy debriefing conversations between sessions. I felt lost, like an explorer in unchartered territory without a map or compass, risking more than my own well-being. Instead of understanding and relief, those exploring healing with me felt confused, stuck.
Seeking guidance for our journey, I contacted Marsha Means about facilitator training for partners who want to lead small groups in their church. She shared my concern about the lack of training, particularly in light of what are often insurmountable barriers for partners receiving help, inside or outside their church. In 2008, there were few clinically and Biblically sound resources for sex addicts, let alone partners.
Thankfully, after the publication of Marsha Means and Barbara Steffens groundbreaking book, Your Sexually Addicted Spouse, the multidimensional partner trauma model began making inroads into the sexual addiction recovery world. Discovering my feelings and responses were normal while partners navigate through trauma recovery stages provided relief and understanding. It opened a door of hope.
That understanding also gave insight into the distressing dynamics experienced in our initial group. It also increased the level of importance for peer-facilitator training.
I didn’t set out to create peer-facilitator training for partners. But results from the plethora of studies and surveys (see links below) as well as anecdotal personal stories, created a compelling appeal. A troubling quote from a Barna/Josh McDowell 2015 survey reveals a current, troubling reality. “More than 9 in 10 pastors (93% of pastors, 94% of youth pastors) said pornography is becoming a bigger problem, specifically for the church, and 75 percent of the laity agree. However, only 7 percent of pastors said their church had a program designed to help those struggling with pornography.”
Although there’s a significant increase in theologically and clinically sound books, training and practice, the gap between the glaring needs of family systems faltering as a result of what is now identified as a public health crisis and programs within the local church remains heart-rending. A Door of Hope: Peer Facilitator Training Helping Women Heal After Sexual Betrayal exists to equip and support partners who bravely “descend to the depths of their hearts’ while exploring their healing journey and now want to give back.
As Crystal Rae Morrissey, (Certified Partner Coach, www.womeneverafter.com) stated when describing a three stage recovery response, “Investment into her healing begins to pay a visible and valuable dividend. She feels honored when her story (in part or in whole) provides something meaningful for another (usually newer) PSA.”
Links to two recent studies: Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis by Gail Dines Retrieved April 10, 2016
Here’s How 770 Pastors Describe Their Struggle with Porn by Morgan Lee, Retrieved April 10, 2016
To learn more about A Door of Hope Peer Facilitator Training click here.