Have you ever fallen for the ploys of real estate developers? When selling homes, neighborhoods and ‘planned communities’, they come up with catchy slogans.
In my younger years, I recall the phrase “The grass is greener is Pasadena”. Another one portrayed Kingwood as “The livable forest”.
Although the greener grass was catchy, locals often twisted it around to say, “the air is greener in Pasadena” due to the number of chemical plants in the area.
Of course the drug-minded persons had their own take on the slogan as well.
Each slogan makes you think that somehow you get greener grass or more livable conditions in one of their communities. The realtors sell you on a fantasy.
You’re led to believe that in purchasing one of their homes, you become a member of some elite group. The sales slogans are about how much better their communities are than other nearby ones.
Given that realtors continue using those ploys, they must be working. I’ve sat through enough real estate sales presentations to recognize the catchy phrases for what they are.
One group continuing using those same ploys are the affair promoting, free love lifestyle types. They portray themselves as being ‘more sexually free’ and ‘more open minded’ than monogamous couples.
When I hear those claims, my mind immediately thinks back on the greener grass in Pasadena claims. The grass was not greener, it was nothing more than planting that expectation.
The other day I mentioned my experience with hurricane trauma reactions being triggered by the recent storms. It’s hard covering everything in a short letter.
Another aspect of trauma reactions are ‘body memories’. Although my mind had forgotten and blocked out some recollections, my body hadn’t.
My body remembers the experiences it’s gone through. It recalls aches, pains, soreness and other sensations and even smell. It reminded my re-activating some sensations.
You may wonder where do these things come from? They come from nerves. Those same body parts responsible for mental memories are behind body memories.
You can’t always predict when they are triggered. One day, clear out of the blue you may feel fear or some of sensation you can’t explain. There’s a reason for this. That reason is body memories.
Nerve cells cover your body, inside and out. They record and ‘remember’ what’s happened to them. They remember when you’ve been mishandled, when you’ve been hit or choked, even when you don’t.
There are some areas of your body that have large concentrations of nerve cells. These large concentrations even perform a type of thinking.
This is why ‘gut reactions’ and ‘thinking with your heart’ are real concerns. The large concentration of nerve cells in those areas process sensations.
In case you are wondering, yes, I am a believer in following your ‘gut’ reactions. Your gut knows things your brain may not.
These days you hear a great deal about ‘hate’. From the stories you see on the news, you’d think that hate is the biggest problem in America. The whole issue of hate is painted so harshly, it polarizes whole populations.
Hate is a weird thing. Although it’s currently not in fashion, you NEED it when dealing with affairs.
If you don’t hate enough, you’re going to have problems. You’ll have more problems with hating too little than hating too much when it comes to affairs.
I know the awkwardness of hating. It took me a while before I saw the benefit of hating. You need the energy hate provides in overcoming the affair. Hate actually protects you from some potential dangers.
It took me a while to give myself permission to hate. It took me a while to be comfortable with hate. The longer I work with affairs, the more I’ve learned to hate them.
You’ll never have victory over the affair until you learn how to hate it. As long as you have love for the affair, you’ll not be free of it.
If all you do is love, you cover up and hide things. Love makes excuses for people and situations. Hate on the other hand confronts, takes stands and removes the dangers associated with the affair. It’s hate that sees potential dangers.
Have you ever heard the phrase ”Life imitates Art?” It’s often used when making comparisons between real life and movie portrayals. Although there are times when your life may feel like a movie, I’ve found that real life is uglier and harsher than the movies.
I was reminded of this when reading a recent article on a serial killed called the “Yorkshire Ripper”. The ‘ripper’ went on a killing spree over the years.
During that time, at least 13 women were murdered. It reminded me how ugly real life can be.
In his case, digging a little deeper, you find an affair. The ugly connection between affairs and crimes of passion shows up more than I like.
There are lessons you can learn from the life of the ripper. In his case, both parents cheated. A major event in his life was when his father exposed his mothers infidelity in a highly dramatic manner. In that moment, his image of his mother being perfect shattered.
That moment traumatized him. It left a scar that twisted the rest of his life and how he viewed women from then on.
Hollywood glamorizes affairs. The film industry makes them look enticing rather than show where they eventually lead. In real life affairs, everyone loses.
Not only does everyone in the family lose when an affair happens, it also brings trauma and long term effects.
Mentors have played an important part of my training as a counselor. Each one taught me valuable lessons that have stuck with me. People like Bob Reichlin, Dan Minner and Marlin Lance.
Their approaches often had day and night differences. Despite their differences, each of them contributed to my growth as a counselor.
In the grand scheme of things each mentor brought me important lessons when I needed them. In the recovery, it's sponsors who act as mentors. Whether you call them mentors, sponsors or coaches, they guide you with their experiences.
One day, Marlin told me "Jeff, you're a lot further from God than you think you are and it's going to take longer than you think in getting back." At the time, I paid little heed to his statement that day, yet over time, it's proven true.
I found that it definitely took longer getting back to where I needed to be than I thought it would. I made some serious miscalculations.
I thought I was a good person, but I realized even good people slip and that it takes longer than I assumed in getting back. I had ideas how long it should take, but soon discovered I needed to double the length of my time frame expectations.
When it comes to affairs, you may wonder "How long will recovery take?" In response, I don't know the maximum. I do know that it will take you and the cheater at least 24 months.
Blaming and affairs often go together like peanut butter and jelly. When an affair happens to you, a common reaction is identifying who to blame.
I recognize that desire of identifying the culprit behind affairs. I even found myself wanting to know who to blame for the rash of affairs in contemporary society. The Southern Baptist side of me shouts out “Satan!”. That answer plays well in church, yet the behavioral scientist side of me wants a better answer.
Like you, I want to know who started this out of control affair mania. Although it’s easy blaming Hollywood, or porn peddlers like Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner and others, the answer lies deeper.
Flynt, Heffner and others were money-making tools rather than the source of the problem. At this point in my research, the current problem with affairs largely goes back to the ideas promoted by the radical thinker, Max Horkheimer.
Yes, the blame for many affairs and rash of non-procreative eros in today’s society can be attributed to Max. Max’s ideas have led to intentional attacks on the family and traditional marriage. The main way of breaking down families is through promotion of sex outside of marriage.
Max knew this. He wanted a society that was all play with little to no responsibility. He actively looked for ways of breaking down families and values. His followers became very proficient in breaking down values and families.
The other day I received a phone call from a desperate husband. He was heart-broken over his wife’s recent affair.
An authority figure in their lives who he never viewed as a threat has now become one. His wife bring distraught, sought the authority’s counsel. On meeting with him one thing led to another, turning into an affair.
With him being an older man, she assumed he had wise counsel. Instead, the old man turned into a dirty old man encounter.
Instead of being counsel with Gandalf, its’ an encounter with someone who turns into someone akin to The Who’s ‘Uncle Ernie’.
This scenario happens all too frequently in ministry circles. Someone comes for help to an authority figure. They come with innocent intentions. As they open up and begin talking, the room becomes energized with emotion.
With a few comforting gestures and comments, the situation spins out of control.
Between the emotional vulnerability, unmet needs, excitement of discussing sexual issues and transference issues, it’s more than they can handle. The closeness turns sexual.
Two of them alone, with each of them having unmet needs is expecting too much.
What started as one person seeking help and comfort becomes something bigger than anyone imagined. This is not an affair filled with evil intent. It’s an affair situation where seeking emotional comfort turned into something else.
This is the scenario which sinks countless ministers. They want to help, yet the strong emotions take over and comfort turns sexual.
One of the things I enjoy about psychology is how there are always new things to learn. I thought I had mastered my own triggers from past traumas and then find myself surprised at new ones being activated.
The images of the massive flooding in Texas brought back memories of when I went through a similar experience. I felt sad for them, and empathized with their plight.
What caught me off guard were the reactions I experienced on seeing the mounds of damaged household goods lining the sides of the streets. That image triggered strong reactions, to the point where the smells, sensations and irritability I experienced returned.
I had no idea one image could trigger such a reaction.
Having been a victim of Hurricane Ike, for a moment, the whole episode returned. The smells, humidity, grime and weariness of the experience came back with HD intensity.
Trip after trip into our home, hauling out damaged and ruined keepsakes to the street.
Everything was covered with a fine film of smelly filth. Even when the day is over, the smell and feel got into our clothing and shoes.
I recall looking out the mounds on the sides of the street. Memories taken out with the garbage.
Trauma reactions are funny that way. You think you are over an experience and then some smell or image suddenly triggers reactions.
Okay, I’ll admit that I have shopped in a Wal-Mart. It’s my suspicion that many of you have shopped at Wal-Mart at some time in your life as well. It’s often astounding what you see and encounter on your shopping adventure.
I thought I’d seen and heard most of the wild stories about Wal-Mart encounters. One that jumped out at me was the recent story that happened at a Detroit store.
In that encounter one woman pulled a gun on another while buying school supplies. The altercation was over the last notebook on the shelf.
When mothers resort to pulling weapons over the last notebook, there’s no telling how she’ll react to someone stealing her husband. There are times when all civility breaks down and raw, passions flare up.
Threatening someone with a gun over a notebook is pretty desperate. It illustrated to me that self-control is a lost virtue and that some people have poor coping skills.
The Detroit incident has a couple of lessons. One is that if a mother is willing to pull a gun over school supplies, there’s no telling how she’ll react in an affair situation.
The weak self-control shown by brandishing a gun to a fellow shopper, is a flashing red warning light to me. Such a person is a slave to her passions.
If she wants an affair, you better not tell her no. If you cheat with her spouse, you better not get caught.
These days peer pressure comes across as all the rage. Although I felt peer pressure in educational environments, both as a student and professor, my experiences pale in comparison with today’s peer pressure.
When I encountered peer pressure it was more about reaching achievements or wearing certain clothes. At times it concerned music.
At that time, I wrote for the school newspaper. I still remember when Danny Holley verbally tore me a new one for my review of Aerosmith’s album ‘Rocks’.
At that point, I realized that when you go against the grain, you pay a price.
He pulled me aside and let me know what he thought of my article and then some. The incident taught me a lesson about the power of the press.
Peer pressure today comes across as bullying. Today’s peer pressure concerns social values and politics.
When you disagree with the prevailing opinions, you are targeted for bullying. If you dare take a stand based on morality rather lining up with current social trends, you are targeted for bullying.
My concern with this is that peer pressure is now used in promoting affairs and sexual immorality.
If you dare take a stand for traditional marriage, you run the risk of being bullied. If you fight for your marriage, the reaction is even stronger.