Growing up in a dusty West Texas oil-field town, I’m 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, 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.
The frisky fiancé shuts down after the wedding and stays 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 foreplay 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.
The pendulum swings 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, three teens in public school, a new home that required my return to work… all this with our 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 to keep the sparks alive.
“As long as we are together we can do whatever we want…”
It’s easy to get caught up in the creep creep of worldly temptations. What looks like simple 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 perimenopausal 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 erupts 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. 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 like me.
Bondage brings true freedom.
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 myself, life and God. When I was released from jail, I went to counseling and rededicated my life and marriage to Jesus Christ.
Through a personal process of studying, meditating on and speaking God’s Word over my life, as well 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. God has called me to reach other women who struggle with life and addiction. It’s my prayer that by sharing my story, other hurting women will know they aren’t alone in their pain and that life after addiction is possible. True life comes only from trusting Christ, staying in God’s Word and depending on the Holy Spirit daily to walk in His freedom.
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. ~ John 8:36
Through the Reaching Hurting Women Ministries Tamara chronicles her 17 year recovery journey, teaches various Christian topics, reviews books and shares messages of hope and healing for women who may be struggling in life. Tamara and her husband live in Texas.