A Feminine Approach to Recovery

EDUCATION-BASED COURSES CREATED BY WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN THERE, BUT FOUND THE WAY OUT.

-Romantic Fantasy-

-Unprotected Hearts-

-Emotional Affairs-

-Female Pornography  Addiction-

5

Free EDUCATION-BASED Weekly Meetings

For women, male partners, and trans or non-binary people in recovery

Please note, these groups are open to the public. You will be asked to turn on your camera and verify you are a woman for the women's meetings. Any men attempting to join any of the women's meetings will be removed and blocked.

Trans & Non-Binary People's Pornography, Love, Relationship and Sex Addiction Recovery Sundays, email Lacy@HerRecoveryRoadmap.com for details

Please note, these groups are open to the public. You will be asked to turn on your camera and verify you are a woman for the women's meetings. Any men attempting to join any of the women's meetings will be removed and blocked.

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Client, 2020


"Lacy helps you understand what you value and why you are struggling. Then she teaches you how to stop with compassion and boundaries to keep yourself safe."

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Group Participant


"When I first started recovery I didn't know what I needed, but Lacy and other women in the groups helped me figure it out. Now I'm doing great!"

E. K.

Client, 2017


"Lacy practices what she preaches and stands as a witness that recovery is possible AND doable--with the right support."

Lacy Alajna Bentley, Love addiction, obsession, women's addiction recovery

Lacy

 

Master Women's Recovery Coach, Author

Founder & Curriculum Designer at 

Change of Heart & Protected Hearts

Coaching & Recovery

Runs Tuesday Meetings

 

In recovery since June 2000

My story starts further back than I can remember, which might be for the best. I've spent decades swimming in and out of fantasy worlds, far outside reality. The worlds that began somewhere between the first and last day of 1st grade, made the loneliness, sadness and losses hurt less... Read More My story starts further back than I can remember, which might be for the best. I've spent decades swimming in and out of fantasy worlds, far outside reality. The worlds that began somewhere between the first and last day of 1st grade, made the loneliness, sadness and losses hurt less.

Years later, the fantasy became a nearly constant escape. It made turmoil manageable. But it also created massive heartache for my family and me. You see, eventually the fantasy broke out, and I had a significant emotional affair...twice.

No matter how many times I tried to stop, the daydreams and distractions came back. The longings, the infatuation--the obsession--came back.

I told my husband and asked for his help. We talked to religious leadership, therapists, and nothing gave me the freedom I needed. All we could figure out was to distance from the "targets" in my mind.

Unfortunately, this meant distancing from many people we cared about. See, these targets of my unprotected, out of control heart were just regular men in my life. No one did anything special, and no matter what I did, once the cycle began, it was impossible to stop. The internal battle made me physically ill. I felt like I was going to lose my mind, or worse. Thoughts of ending it all offered relief from the attractions I could never seem to manage on my own. No one knew how to help me, and nothing else was working. I could see no other way out.

Then something changed. I broke free. Opening up to a close friend gave me perspective and hope. If she could still love me and wasn't afraid of me, maybe I wasn't as horrible as I felt. I found a female therapist who pushed me to be completely honest, constantly. She promised recovery, but no easy fix. I began to make progress.

The road back to myself, back to the woman I always wanted to be, was difficult. The heartache was sharp and deep. At times I was convinced recovery would literally kill me. It didn't.

I learned to manage my internal worlds and to stay connected with the beautiful, full, real world outside my mind.

I learned to care for myself, deeply, and heal the insanity I was CERTAIN no one else dealt with. Once again, I was wrong. Blissfully, gratefully, wrong. I wasn't the only one.

Eventually, I even fell deeply in love with the amazing man I married years and years before. We healed, together. I learned to see the big picture, without fear. Most importantly, I learned to feel and cherish the love my husband had always felt for me, then to honestly, completely, blissfully reciprocate and feel that cherishing love towards him. He became enough for me. It was a small change at first, but I learned to nurture the new connection I felt for him. I no longer needed a "plan B" or "just in case" guy on the back burner. No one deserves to be thought of that way. It has been an amazing gift to be free of those feelings. They took a long time to begin to heal, and even longer before I could honestly say there was no one else I wanted to be with more.

Most importantly I learned to choose myself. I learned to manage, then undermine, then replace the obsessive rumination and intricate fantasy worlds. I no longer needed the distractions and fantasy to save or protect me anymore. I was enough. My marriage, my family, my house, my aging chronically ill body, everything, was enough. I began to truly grasp what loving myself meant and how to grow those tender, timid, almost imperceptible feeling of deep self-acceptance.

As the compassion I felt for myself grew, so did my confidence. I didn't need to be perfect, or wanted, or taken care of. I just needed to figure out who I was, who I had been, then begin walking towards who I wanted to be. And who I wanted to be was the very best version of myself in every moment I was still on Earth to soak in. In time, the romantic rumination became colorless. I wanted my real life, in the exact moment I was in. Now and then memories, real and imagined, breeze through my mind. But instead of arousal and numbness, they carry sorrow for people I hurt. I can't take that back, and it hurts, deeply. However, recovery has taught me to feel, to accept, to mourn, and to let the grief teach me why I never, ever, want to be that woman again. The grief reminds me why I stay in recovery; far from the distorted imaginings and unresolved attractions. I've also learned those resolve completely. It just takes time and distance.

If you can't imagine how you could ever walk away, live without your "crush" or fall deeply in love with the life in front of you and the woman in the mirror, I get it. I also know you can. You can do all of that, and so much more. You just have to decide it's what you want more than anything in the world. Then, you need to get the right mindset, skillset and support.

When you are ready, I'd love to be part of that support. You will learn what I learned and how to apply it over and over, in any situation.

See, we don't actually need the romantic fantasy worlds, the emotional affairs, or pornography to feel safe, in control, or even aroused. Our minds can heal. We can find incredible happiness and joy with those we once promised to love. It was never, and is not now, a choice between passion or a dead marriage. We have so many options besides staying miserable and running away from hope. Read Less

If you are ready to learn how to live fully with an open but protected heart, let's talk.

 

*Recovery Coaching is not a substitute for needed medical attention or Mental Health Counseling. Lacy is not a therapist.

Heather

 

Women's Recovery Coach

Licensed Therapist

Group Leader

Runs Sunday Trans & Non-binary People Meeting

In recovery since 2019

I've struggled with romantic fantasy and obsessive thinking since elementary school. Around the time that children start believing they have "boyfriends/girlfriends" was when my parents divorced... Read More I've struggled with romantic fantasy and obsessive thinking since elementary school. Around the time that children start believing they have "boyfriends/girlfriends" was when my parents divorced.

The divorce was devastating to me and, looking back, fantasy gave me something to enjoy. Growing up I felt normal and this thinking was reinforced. The shows I watched always included (or featured) a perfect couple overcoming the odds to live happily ever after. My friends and I giggled about our crushes and made plans for how our lives would unfold when we met our soul mates.

I met my Prince Charming when I was in middle school and, at age 19, I was married. However, commitment didn't shift my thinking. The obsessive nature of my fantasy remained. I felt like I NEEDED a "plan B" man in case this didn't work out. I craved the intensity that comes with pursuing a potential romantic partner. I have planned out so many weddings and lives with men who I had no business thinking about. I felt such a high getting attention from other attractive men. Oh, the drama and intrigue of it all!

I made a lot of decisions I regret in my misguided attempts for security, validation, and excitement. I had been to a handful of therapists desperate for answers but really never got any that really fit. I vividly remember telling one therapist that I felt hopeless. "If I leave my husband and pursue a relationship with (insert target/qualifier's name here) it won't matter because I'll be back sitting on this couch in the same mess thinking about another man 5 years from now".

Because I am a therapist myself I tried relentlessly to figure out what was wrong. Maybe this is a type of OCD? Maybe I have a dependent personality? Maybe I need a lobotomy? (Seriously--it got to that point). I started incorporating mindfulness techniques and meditation. The research shows that mindfulness literally rewires the brain. That offered me some relief and was less invasive than a lobotomy. (Disclaimer: I was never ACTUALLY going to get a lobotomy, but sometimes it felt like nothing else would ever work.)

I also read Helen Fisher's work about the brain chemistry of love and infatuation. There was a fleeting mention of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. This changed my world: Love addiction. The affliction I had been dealing with for the last decade had a name. It wasn't just me and I wasn't crazy! So, as people with obsessive tendencies tend to do, I dove into this world and learned everything I could.

I started attending support groups and listened to other women who had similar experiences and hired an amazing Recovery Coach (Hello, that's Lacy!). I shared things I had not shared with anyone and was met with understanding and encouragement. I found that there is true power in sharing with others. I made mindfulness practice and principles the cornerstone of my recovery. Mindfulness is about being in the moment just as it is---the exact opposite of living in fantasy! It fit perfectly with what Lacy was teaching me about staying in the present moment and the reality around me. Suddenly I had hope that I could be happy within my marriage. I found the courage to live in accordance with my values. I fell in love with my husband---real love, committed love---not infatuation, not dependence, none of that superficial stuff.

Marriage became a beautiful part of my recovery that I could now feel great gratitude for--not a barrier between me and "the one" I was obsessing over at the moment. I began to appreciate my reality, something that was impossible before because I was always comparing my reality to the fantasy I conjured up in my head. I am beyond grateful for my recovery journey and the opportunity I have now to help other women find the joy that comes with recovery. Read Less

*Recovery Coaching is not a substitute for mental health counseling. While Heather is a licensed therapist, she does not provide therapy outside her home state.