RHW Podcast Episode 1

We are so excited to announce the first Episode of the Reaching Hurting Women podcast! Below you will find the audio transcript.

 

Hi friends, welcome to Episode One of the Reaching Hurting Women podcast. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Thanks so much for listening!

You may be asking, “Who are the hurting women? How do I know if I am one?” See if you recognize yourself in this list…

Millions of women walk through life with deep emotional pain. Trapped in loneliness, feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless they act out in unhealthy behaviors.

These unhealthy behaviors can take many forms: a runaway fantasy life fed by romance novels or erotica; relationship addiction; physical or sexual abuse; sexual addiction; pornography addiction; unwanted same sex attraction; drug and alcohol abuse; eating disorders; compulsive spending; gambling, self-injury, and the list goes on…etc…

It can get complicated fast. I know because I have struggled most of my life with everything on this list in one form or another. Let me tell you a little bit of my story…

I’m a 1950’s baby boomer from a dusty West Texas oil field town, the first daughter, an invisible middle child, between a brother four years my senior with cerebral palsy, and a sister three years younger. Ours was an average lower middle class home. My mother was a dutiful housewife caring for her family with home cooked meals and handmade clothes. My father was a typical male, at least in my mind; a highly functional alcoholic, womanizing sex addict who was rarely home and never faithful to my mother. His addiction to pornography was no secret with the current Playboy calendar always hanging above the bathroom scales in our only family bathroom.

Never underestimate the power of pornography. Compared to the horrific pornography of today, being exposed to the pornography of the 1960’s seems trite to some. But these calendar images were very destructive to my little girl’s mind. They changed me into a sexual creature at an extremely young age. In fact, it was covert sexual abuse. I became obsessed with these girls. Who were they? Where did they come from? How can I be one of them?

Acting out with boys on the elementary playground became full blown sexual addiction in my adolescence; drugs, alcohol, clubbing, and one night stands brought what I thought was the perfect combination to get the love and attention I desperately craved. In the middle of the free love, I stumbled upon the man who would become my husband. He swept me off my feet with romantic cards and gifts. We married after dating only six months.

I was a frisky fiancé who shut down after the wedding and stayed that way for 15 years. As a young bride, I was unprepared for married sex. It was a shock to my addictive mindset and mode of operation. I no longer held the power, gone was the hunter/prey routine from my single days. At 22 I basically shut down physically.

Sure we still had a physical relationship, but there was no passion because I didn’t know how to connect intimately on an emotional level. Worse than that, I didn’t know what I didn’t know; which kept me frustrated and resentful of what my husband expected from me.

Life was a pendulum swinging from far left to right. To escape the oil field industry my husband returned to college. We survived on student loans as I stayed home and bore three children in four years. When my husband graduated we moved to the big city to start his career and I devoted myself to homeschooling our three children. We threw out all our secular books and music and lived a conservative Christian lifestyle. Though religious and involved in church, there was no joy or victory in my life; I was caught up in following rules and trying to be the best person I could be.

In the mid 90’s my husband engaged in a venture with some professing Christian businessmen that quickly went sour and resulted in substantial financial loss for our family. My immature faith couldn’t withstand the turbulence this created in our lives. I lost faith in Christianity, Christian people and the Christian church. Anger toward God festered and grew until I put my Bible in a drawer, turned and walked away from anything “Christian” for seven years.

Soon a corporate move took us to another metropolitan area. Aging parents needing regular care, teens in public school, and a new home which required me to return to the corporate workforce. Two demanding jobs kept us running from dawn till near midnight most days of the week. Needing time together and trying to follow Dr. James Dobson’s advice for couples, we implemented a date night. We told our teen kids don’t call us unless someone is dying. Our mantra was: As long as we are together we can do whatever we want…”

It’s easy to get caught in worldly temptations. What looks like simple date night pleasure from the outside can quickly turn to bondage. Once you open the door the enemy will move in and set up camp; and that is exactly what happened.

I turned 40 in a sexual identity crisis, on a peri-menopausal hormonal roller coaster, with empty nest syndrome setting in and my 20-year marriage crumbling. My drug and alcohol abuse spiraled into deep depression; I was running away from home and acting out in extremely unhealthy ways. Violence erupted continually and the police are regulars at our front door.

In my misery and still too mad to talk to God, I cried out to the “Universe” begging to be removed from this man who was “driving me crazy”…to be with some women who understood my pain. God in His infinite wisdom and timely sense of humor gave me exactly what I asked for. It was the summer of 2004 things had gone from bad to worse. The next time the police came to our front door I was taken away in handcuffs, charged with assault of a family member and spent nearly a month in a crowded jail full of angry meth-using women just like me.

I’m not proud to have a criminal record; however, jail was the best thing that ever happened to me. I never want to forget that experience and the lessons I learned about life, God and myself. When I was released from jail, I went to counseling and rededicated my life and marriage to Jesus Christ.

For 12 years, through a process of studying, meditating on and speaking God’s Word over my life, as wells as working a 12 Step program, God continues to heal the many broken places in my heart, mind and soul. In my Heavenly Father, I have found the love I searched for my whole life.

Now that you’ve heard a little of my story, let me tell you about the Reaching Hurting Women ministry. 

In 2008, I began writing the Reaching Hurting Women blog as a journal as a way of processing Step 12 of my recovery to share the message and help other women who were struggling with various life issues like I had. Over time my topics evolved as I read many books, discovered more about myself, have grown in my recovery and my walk with the Lord.

In 2011 I was introduced to Benedictine monasticism, which is derived from The Rule of Benedict written by Saint Benedict of Nursia. St Benedict wrote his Rule for the monks in his Italian monastery over 1500 years ago. Known as the father of Western monasticism, St. Benedict and his rule have had a tremendous impact on the Christian church. Because Benedict lived before any divisions in the church, his teachings apply equally to all Christians. Surprisingly, the rule provides extraordinary insight into today’s major spiritual issues, and is more relevant today than ever! Once I started this new spiritual journey I knew I was coming home.

Since I began studying Benedictine spirituality I’ve been led to become a Benedictine Oblate. Oblates are ordinary people who dedicate their lives to God like monks. But rather than taking vows and living secluded lives behind the wall of a monastery, Oblates make spiritual commitments that are lived outside the wall as we go about our daily lives. I’m excited to share what I’m learning and hear from you, as we walk the contemplative path together.

Saint Benedict has written what he calls The 12 Steps of Humility in his monastic rule. In studying these rules I’ve discovered a wonderful correlation to the traditional Twelve Steps of Recovery. Going forward it is my goal to focus on ways to apply the Benedictine monastic rules to the recovery steps and lessons of life.

2016 has seen the beginning of a new and enlivening season of recovery for me. Over the last few years God has been bringing contemplative spirituality to the forefront of my devotions and studies.

In my own recovery practices these last few months I’m finding so many benefits to this beautiful contemplative path of recovery that I have completely redirected my ministry focus.

Briefly, contemplative spirituality is a way of focusing one’s life completely on God through prayer, living in love and a continual awareness of God’s presence and it can be applied to every area of life to adding richness and wonder to our walk with Christ. It really helps bring the word of God and life of Christ alive.

If you are unfamiliar with contemplative spirituality, you can see my recent Infographic post called The Tree of Contemplative Practices to learn more.

Now after eight years of sharing my recovery journey on ReachingHurtingWomen.com I’m really excited that God has opened a door for me to branch out with audio podcasts.

On the Reaching Hurting Women podcast we are learning new and healthy ways of coping with our daily struggles. With the healing power of the Holy Spirit as our guide, we will be integrating 12 Step recovery principles with Benedictine Spirituality and other contemplative practices like mindfulness, journaling, contemplative art therapy like coloring mandalas, lectio divina also known as sacred reading, centering prayer or meditation, yoga, chanting liturgical prayers, and many others. Along the way we will have guest interviews, talk about helpful books, websites and other resources as they make it to our radar.

God has called me to reach other women who struggle with addictions and other life issues. It is my prayer that by sharing my story, they will know they’re not alone in their pain and that healing is possible. True life comes from trusting Christ and depending on the Holy Spirit daily to walk in His freedom.

It is my hope and prayer that you will journey with me as we discover a more contemplative path of recovering from the hurts, habits and hang-ups that have held us captive for too long.

I will be publishing podcasts weekly on Fridays. If you have any questions or topic requests please feel free to comment below the show notes.

                     Until next week may the grace and peace of God be yours…

Image Credit: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

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