To define what I mean when I say “women’s wisdom,” I would have to say this: there’s a sort of sixth sense women have about their own lives — an internal truth that you can hear when you pay attention. The problem is that many of us have trouble accessing this wisdom, because we get tangled up in all the struggles and stresses of everyday life.
Yet tapping into this inner voice might be one of the most important and beneficial things you ever do for yourself.
Because you already know the answers to your problems. You already understand exactly what you need, but some combination of past experiences, guilt, fear, and societal programming prevent you from seeing it clearly. They prevent you from articulating your needs to anyone, including yourself.
This is the first post in my 6-part Women’s Wisdom series, and we’re going to begin by tackling a topic many women struggle with: asking for help.
Are You Drowning in Responsibility?
If you’re a woman living in today’s society, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!” Whether you’re working or staying home to raise the kids; whether you have children or not; whether you’re married, single, divorced, or somewhere in between; you’re up to your eyeballs in responsibility, and nobody is stepping forward to help you.
So many women are conditioned to do everything, and to do it all in a sort of forced cheerful silence. If you show dissatisfaction in your job, you might get fired. If you seem overwhelmed by your children, you’re a terrible mother. If you’re frustrated by your partner, you’re not being supportive enough. If your home is too small, or too cluttered, or too outdated, that all falls on your shoulders too.
Add in a partner with a sex or porn addiction, and everything gets that much more difficult.
If you could step away from the situation and look at things analytically, you’d easily see that too much is being asked of you. But you can’t do that. Instead you begin piling on the guilt, and this downward spiral begins.
You Have to Value Yourself Enough to Listen to Yourself
Wisdom intuitively guides us towards the right answers. It teaches us how to prioritize, how to cope, and how to reach out when we’re facing too much at once. But you’ll never hear what your wisdom has to say if you don’t value yourself. Why would you listen to someone who has no value to you? Why would you listen to someone you don’t trust?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, resentful, or exhausted, you may not believe this, but you already know how to fix it. Your women’s wisdom can tell you, in very precise terms, how to begin turning your life around. The sad thing is that women often turn off this wisdom, because they have been conditioned to put themselves last.
This is one of the things I work hardest on with partners of sex addicts when I begin counseling them. We have to establish your self-worth, and you must believe in it before we can begin moving forward. Your first obligation is yourself, and that’s often a hard lesson for women to learn.
So, if you’ve been ignoring your physical and mental health, if you’ve been feeling sick or stressed, if you’re overwhelmed by resentment, or reflexively refusing help when it’s offered, you’re not placing enough value on yourself. We have some work to do in that regard.
You Are Not Wonder Woman, You’re Human
Understanding all this, you can begin to see why women traditionally have so much trouble asking for help, let alone partners of sex addicts. They first have to get to a point where they value themselves enough to listen to their own needs, then they need to articulate those needs to others. Those are two giant steps to take, and many women need some help to take them.
Here’s another hard lesson: the first person you reach out to for help may not be able to help you. They may be dealing with their own burdens, and can’t take on yours. This experience often causes women and partners of sex addicts to go right back to their old habits of putting their needs last and repressing the urge to ask for help ever again. This is another reason why learning these lessons with the effective treatment of a professional is a good idea. It can be hard to get back on that horse, but you must.
Look at all the responsibilities you have in a single day. List them out if that helps. When you see it all written before you, maybe then you’ll recognize that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s self-compassion. All you’re doing here is putting up your umbrella to get out of the rain – and sometimes getting out of the rain also means getting out of your own way.
If you are a partner of a sex addict need help with that journey, reach out. We’re here.