17 December 2012

An Early Christmas Gift

Hey WOPA friends! Great news!

A new website, with a downloadable version of our awesome new 12-step manual for loved ones of addicts.



I haven't had much time to look over the website or to see how different the new manual is from the pilot ones we've had in the past, but I couldn't bear to keep this secret a second longer.  (You're welcome.)

Let me know what you think!


** POST EDIT: There is some question about the source of this manual, but as far as I'm concerned USE IT. It's awesome. 

Admin stuff

Hey Friends-

I hate word verification for comments.  I used to laugh at the line

"Prove you are not a robot"

becuase I didn't care if robots read the blog.  (Haha.)

That was until I started getting 100 comments a day from robots.  Comments that are non-sensical like this:

"I got this web page from my pal who told me concerning this website and at the moment this time I am visiting this web page and reading very informative posts here"

And then there is a link to some random website called something like "Italian bond auctions" which I never click on because I am sure my computer would explode. 

Anyway, it looks like I'm going to have to experiment with some settings to see if I can eliminate or reduce this comment spam. 


Hope it doesn't prevent you from commenting.  (Which, admitedly it has done for me on occasion.)

14 December 2012

My Girl Jacy

I carry a little bit of Jacy with me everywhere I go.  A gift from her (and Scabs), I keep it on my keychain. 

I know I've talked about Jacy before, how she was the first person I reached out to online in my lonely desperation, and how she reached right back.

Jacy is determined to use her difficult experiences to make her better and not bitter.  And she'd do anything to help anyone do the same.  Her honesty is refreshing and her love and acceptance for all is contagious.

Circumstances in her life are making it so that her blog won't be around much longer.  Head over and send your love and thanks, and see how we can all still keep in touch.

Thanks Jacy. Love you girl!

11 December 2012

Not judging my feelings

A couple notes:

* Sorry about the horrible format issues with my last blog post. I published it on my way out the door, and didn't look back at it until today.  I noticed it was hard to read, so hopefully I've fixed it for any forthcoming readers. 

* My knowledge about things I post about is often infantile and inadequate, I think I know just enough to write a blog post and that's it.  For this post in particular I suggest reading a book on the subject from a real expert.  I might recommend "Calming Your Anxious Mind" for starters.  (Jeffrey Brantley and Jon Kabat-Zinn.)  I know it sounds like it is written for someone with anxiety, which it is. (Isn't that all of us?) But it is full of helpful information about meditation and feelings.

Sooo, without furthur ado...

What does it mean to not judge my feelings?

I had never thought about this concept until I read the book I mentioned above.  And then I started to see it alluded to all over on blogs and in counseling and at group etc.  Let me illustrate a great example of my bad habit of judging my feelings.

The night before Thanksgiving I had a meltdown. It was when my sister had hurt my feelings, then when I got home it seemed like everything was going wrong and I was spiraling into sadness and self-pity.  (Interestingly I don't even recall what had me so upset.)  But eventually I started having these, judgmental thoughts

"Why are you so sad? You shouldn't be sad.  Tomorrow is thanksgiving and you have so many things to be grateful for.  You are an awful person for being so ungrateful.  You should be ashamed of yourself for being so miserable when you should be so happy. Why can't you just be happy?!" 

So what is bad about that? I'm always saying things about choosing happiness and counting blessings right? Absolutely.  There is a time and place for that.  But sometimes, there is a time and a place for being sad.  So as I lie on my bed that night, I just let myself be sad.  I had a good cry and I thought about when Alicia blogged about that article in Readers Digest.  It was about how we spend so much time chasing happiness, we make ourselves miserable. 

Sadness and sorrow are part of our experience here in on Earth

Yep. I said it and I meant it.  We don't have to be happy all the time.  We can choose to be happy as much as we want, and when we want.  But it's okay to choose to be sad sometimes too.  Sorrow is not a sin. 

Here is a quote from that book:

"You are not your thoughts, feelings, or sensations.  These are events in the present moment that can be observed kindly and compassionately in the mirror of mindfulness.  Learning to experience these events [without judging them] ... will give you new power.  You ... discover your deepest quality of being and the peace and stability within you."

In other words, I don't need to feel guilt and shame when life's frustrating moments leave me feeling discouraged and sad.  If I don't want to feel discouraged and sad forever, I know what I need to do, I know how to turn it over and let it go.  But sadness isn't inherently bad.  It just is. 

I think all feelings serve a purpose for us by increasing our ability for empathy and compassion toward others, bring us closer to God, make us humble, motivate us to change, help us appreciate the good, and so on. 

So what do I do to feel sad without hating myself for it?

Here's what I try:

1. Stick to the facts.  I try not to make assumptions about other people and my perception of how they influenced me. 

2. Stay in the present moment.  I try not to dwell on the past.  I try not to focus on what should have been different, "If only..."  I also try not to worry about the future. I can be dramatic when I'm upset, truly believing that I'm going to feel this way forever and that everything is going to be different because of the way I feel in that moment.  If I can avoid this, chances are I will feel better in an hour, or in the morning, or in a few days.

3.  Just FEEL it.  Don't exaggerate it, but don't condemn it either. 

4.  Meditate. Breath in.  Breath out.  I'm no expert about meditation but this never fails me.  Sometimes it helps to distract myself by listenting to my body.  "I'm hungry.  My eyes are sore. My head hurts. It feels good to relax my shoulders and unclench my jaw.  My foot is falling asleep."  Or I focus on the sounds around me.  I listen to the clock tick, the cars driving by, the conversation of the people in front of me. 

This is an art I'm just on the threshold of understanding, but it is exciting and liberating to come to peace with not being a bubbly bundle of joy all the time.  And that's okay. And I can teach my kids its okay too. 

05 December 2012

Ugh, a post about Charity


I'm going to skip question #2 for now, and go to #3.

How do I love my family in a way that won't bring out the worst in me?

And to be honest I can't answer that question in a way that says "This is how I love my family."   The best I can offer is  "This is how I should love my family."

The answer, plain and simple, is charity. 

Elder Marvin J. Ashton explained: 

"Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped."
Part of my problem is that I often take this a step too far.  Instead of just accepting my sister's weaknesses and having patience with them.  I dwell on them, I dramatize them, I exaggerate them, all to put myself in a place of superiority.  I become condescending and self-righteous but - *SHOCK* - this doesn't feel any better than being insulted or hurt by her criticism.
So I think charity includes a level of genuine compassion, for the ways that my sister's elitism hurts her, whether or not she ever acknowledges that.  I love this quote by Spencer W. Kimball
“Jesus saw sin as wrong but also was able to see sin as springing from deep and unmet

needs on the part of the sinner. This permitted him to condemn the sin without condemning the individual.”
It is not some inherent inequity between my sister and I that makes me feel less or better than her. It is not that she believes she is truly better than me in some way.  Her unkindness toward me is the product of some deep sadness she feels, and when I am in my most humble place, my heart aches for her, and anyone who suffers. 
So why is it so diffucult to feel that way all the time? Or to let those feelings be the feelings that guide my behavior?  Why do I want to withdraw, shut down, retaliate when my family members are unkind to me? 
I think the answer is two-fold
1. I do not feel close to God, and therefore
2. I feel afraid of rejection, afraid of the opinions of others, afraid of being inadequate. 

These fears, cause me to make choices about how I treat people that I think will protect me from being hurt, and that give me some artifical sense of power over situations, or feelings.  But operating out of fear prevents me from feeling God's love for me and my family members. 
Okay, now the good stuff from Danny's emails - (emphasis added)
One thing I'm discovering over and over and over again...charity never faileth. It may not fix the criticizer (that's up to them), but it never fails the one who bears the charity by lifting their hearts above the criticism and anger and self righteousness.
When you are not operating from Fear/Doubt/Enmity - you will respond better to every one around you, even those who are being critical. You'll find you're not defensive as much (being defensive comes from fear and doubt), and when you're not defensive you won't say things that cause others to be defensive in return
I made sure my interactions with [people] increased the likelihood that [they] felt faith, hope, and love.

Is there anything more Christ-like than deciding to offer your best self to someone who isn't willing to return the favor? And you offer your best self to them....not to show that you are better than them, or above it all, or with the intent to hang your positive interactions over their head, or anything of the sort....you offer your best self because doing so is the only reason you will be able to maintain Unity with God, and it is at the very heart of any joy you do or will receive, and is truly the only way that you can help them (whether or not they want or are ready for that help).

Unconditional love, the kind of love meant for families, love given for the sake of love, for the sake of the way it makes the giver feel whole, and happy, and peaceful.  The love I want others to offer me.

More from Danny-

So what did I discover? That I often didn't need to wait for the love and kindness to return to me from her or from someone else or even at some other time...it was simply in the offering of it that I became free to feel it...right in that VERY MOMENT.  And so, in many ways, what you offer comes back to you the second you give it...if it is given honestly and freely, holding nothing back.

Let me be honest. I am a selfish person.  I am a prideful person.  Sometimes it seems easier to just let myself be hurt and angry, to isolate myself, to build walls in my relationships.  But doing those things will not bring me closer to God, and it certainly will be the demise of good relationships with family members, husband included.

So as cliche as it sounds, true happiness, love and peace come from taking the higher road. Turning the other cheek, but not in a self-righteous proud way, but a sincere compassionate and forgiving way.  A humble way that acknowledges we all have need of love, of God and of forgiveness.


28 November 2012

Filling Our Emptiness


This time last year I was reeling emotionally even more than I am this year.  This time last year was the end of a year of turmoil and anguish, and the beginning of a year of healing.  I was filled with fear about spending time with my family during such a silently painful time.  I couldn't share anything, and I had to act as if everything was right.   I had just discovered A Blog About Love, and it was a fairly new blog so I reached out to Danny, asking for advice about how to cope.  He wrote some very wise things, I'll share in my later post. 

But last week I went searching for his emails, desperate for something to help me through.  In my search I came across an email from Michelle (Hope and Healing) that was an answer to a prayer.  She said this:

"I've thought a lot about this with the struggles I have with extended family relationships and expectations for what such relationships 'should' look like. As I read through recovery materials, it seems the message is that as soon as we have expectations for others or for life, we set ourselves up for pain. Resentments are a key force in keeping us stuck in unhealthy behaviors and mindsets.

I think it's hard to wrap our heads around, but I think that ultimately, 12 steps are about letting God fill our needs. Fully and completely. Once we don't have to rely on anyone else, then we don't give others power over our lives and our well-being, and we trust ourselves to the care of our God.

I'm reminded of a saying my mom used to say when I was dating:
"Love is sharing your fullness, not filling your emptiness." I'm also reminded of the scripture that says "All things must fail" -- except the love of Christ. I think once we realize that we simply will and do fail each other, we can stop expecting others to fill our needs and instead be grateful for whatever goodness comes in a relationship without being dependent on others for our well-being."

It was exactly what I needed.  I have already discovered, in doing a Step 4 inventory and after much reflection, that so much of my unhappiness comes from disappointed expectations about my relationships with my family members. 

We are all imperfect people, and by expecting my family to be in charge of my well-being, I set them up for failure.  How can they know of my expectation? And if they have their own emptiness, how can they be expected to fill mine?

This is not to say that we should surround ourselves with toxic people, people who offer nothing and suck everything out you.  Nor is it to say that our families don't offer us a great deal of love.  It is only to say that my peace and emotional stability need not be dependent on my idea of how my family should act and treat me. 

And because my family aren't toxic people, there is much I CAN be grateful for about my relationships with them.  I know that ultimately I can rely on God for filling my emptiness, but additionally he has given me other people to help fill my emptiness.  When I don't feel love and kindness exuding from my family members, I know I can fall back on the love and kindness I feel at group meeting, or from my online friends that I carry with me constantly.  It sustains me when I feel alone. 

I finally realized that I can best appreciate my family by releasing them from my unreasonable conjectures about how they should be, and just accept them as they are.  Which is the subject of my next post, not because I can do it, but because I've read some great things about it that I want to share.

27 November 2012

Verbal eruption


I had a really emotional week last week and I'm ready to write about it.  This post is not really "going anywhere", nor is it making any kind of point. It's more just a journal entry of some events and how I felt about them.

The day before Thanksgiving my two sisters arrived in town.  I love my sisters, I admire many things about them.  They know how to make me laugh, and we love going to Target without our kids and spending hours aimlessly perusing the aisles, grateful for each other's companionship to offer opinions and just chat.

But my sisters are critical, judgmental, and elitist. Setting aside the fact that they would probably condemn my husband if they knew our circumstances, they still frequently make me feel small and inferior. 

On Wednesday, less than 20 minutes after arriving at my mom's house and seeing my sister, she had already hurt my feelings.  I went into a bathroom and cried for a few minutes.  When I came out my mom offered some words of comfort and I regained composure.  I stuck it out for the evening but by the time I got home I was a mess.  I was irritated with Pete and took it out on him and the kids.  Finally I went to bed a heap of tears.  Then the crying got worse as my negative thoughts spiraled out of control.

"Why can't my family be kind? I've been so emotionally unstable the last couple weeks, I really need a safe place.  I need some kindness.  Shouldn't my family provide that for me? I don't want to spend Thanksgiving with those people!  Thanksgiving! Why am I laying here in a pathetic sadness when I have so much to be grateful for? Why can't I just be happy? Why do I feel so sad?!" 

After a good cry I forced myself to stop being judgmental of my feelings.  It's okay to be sad, I told myself.  And I fell asleep.

On Friday Pete and I had an argument about spending the right amount of time with each of our families.  (An epic struggle that never relents around the holidays.)  He said some things that hurt me and once again I felt overwhelmed by my emotions.

"Can't anyone just be kind to me?!? Why must there be conflict everywhere!?"

Even as I said it, I knew that conflict exists for me only when I choose to engage in it.  But I was feeling so emotionally fragile, so incapable resisting the bait.  I felt like I was on unstable ground, like I just couldn't find my emotional footing.  Everything was just on the surface and any slight provocation put me over the edge. 

I knew I wanted to enjoy this time with my family. I knew I didn't want to fight with Pete.  Despite these two incidents I was able to still have a good time with my siblings and appreciate the holiday and the memories.  But I didn't get through without applying some serious recovery principles.  I gained enough insight to make it out okay, and I want to write this week about the following three ideas.

1- Why do I expect my family to fulfill my need for support? Why don't they?
2- What does it mean to not judge my feelings?
3- How do I love my family in a way that won't bring out the worst in me?

22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I almost considered not posting this, for fear it would sound forced or obligatory, like some of the daily gratitude posts on Facebook. In fact, I loved this quote

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our Thanksgiving."

W.T. Purkiser

I am so grateful for the people I've met in the last year.  Even in the last six months, some remarkable people have entered my life, made me better, helped me cope, and loved me. 

I am so thankful for those people, and I hope you all feel sufficiently used by me for the aforementioned purposes. 

Happy Thanksgiving.  Thank you for your love!

16 November 2012

It's hard to dance with the Devil on your back- So shake him off

There is nothing like a good song to pull me out of a funk.  Sometimes I need something spiritual, sometimes I need something peppy.  Sometimes I turn to Broadway and sometimes I need something empowering.  And then sometimes... I just need Florence and her rad Machine. 

Despite her amazing hair in the actual music video, it was a little too maniacal for me. So I posted this one instead, besides, the lyrics are just so timely. 

Have a great weekend everyone.  I'll be shaking it out. 

15 November 2012

Beware: Seriously raw emotions

One facet of addiction that continues to cause me pain is the way that it robs some of life's most glorious moments of their glory. 

For months I trained for a race.  I ran and ran in preparation for that day, those miles, that finish line. 

Race day came, I ran my heart out, and at the finish line was my family.  But instead of the man I love, there was a shadow.  Hollow and empty.  In my excitement I soaked up the atmosphere and the praise of my sweet children.   But I longed for my husband, and instead was someone I could hardly make eye contact with, let alone embrace in joyous celebration. 

It makes me sad and angry. 

Like a black hole, shame and resentment suck the life and thrill out of meaningful experiences.

Pete is the person I long most to share everything wonderful with.  He believes in me.  He helps me execute all of my concocted plans.  He encourages me, he is there all along the way. 

And then, when it was all said and done, when I wanted most to thank him for all he'd done, he was gone.  In his place was the addict.  The self-absorbed, apathetic, justifying man who occupies the body of my husband. 

I've learned to deal with relapses, or I thought I had.  What I can't handle is the way, like a shadowy bandit, addiction sneaks in and steals away life's greatest treasures in life's most magical times.  Peace. Joy. Satisfaction. Contentment. Euphoria.  Snuffed out like a candle.  

Addiction is a package deal.  It's more than just relapses and sobriety.  It's an attitude of entitlement, it's pride and it mocks respect for others.  It justifies all selfish thoughts and behaviors.  It is cruel and cold. 

And today I hate it.  I hate it so much I cry tears of anguish.

07 November 2012

Let People In

Self-hatred has been lapping at my toes since I finished my step 4.  Fortunately steps 6 & 7 have kept it at bay, and given me hope for change.  I feel change, and it feels good.

But on bad days I feel overwhelmed by my inadequacies.  Or rather, my perceived inadequacies.  I finally acquired a copy of Courage to Change: One Day at a Time.  (You can get a very inexpensive used copy here.)

Here is the message for today, from Alateen:

"If no one knows us as we really are, we run the risk of becoming victims of our own self-hatred.  If we can be loved by somebody who sees us as we are, we can then begin to accept ourselves.  Others rarely think we're as bad as we do."

The people who know me as I really am, all that is wrong in my life, have been such a huge support for me when my confidence wavers and doubt and insecurities creep in. 

I hope you all have at least one person in your life who fulfills that role, and if possible a group of people.  And better yet, I hope that we are all doing our part to BE that person for someone else. 

I'm going on vacation with my family for a week to a place with palm trees. Love you all!

31 October 2012

My Insanity

Scabs issued an insanity challenge.  And I'm not talking about that die-hard workout program.   If you don't read her blog, she periodically talks about the way insanity can get a hold of her, and to help prevent that she has personified her insanity.  Her contest was for her readers to do the same.  I thought (or rather Sparrow thought), what better thing to do on Halloween than post my insanity. 

Insanity has the pathetic and whiny voice you might expect from a three year old. She is over indulgent and entitled. She never wears the same thing twice. She is the jealous type and she's so possessive of me. She is the kind of friend that makes promises about where we'll go and what we'll do together and never keeps them. She is always insulted and wears a perpetual pout. Despite my efforts to displace her, she is there in the background trying to make herself the center of attention. Her very presence robs me of confidence. She has a doll face that's somewhere between attractive and synthetic. With perfectly manicured fingernails she pops my balloons of optimism with pleasure, and smirks as my countenance deflates. She is a condescending elitist who boasts of her superiority in everything. Yet she reeks of insecurity and fear. With a total lack of empathy she sees nothing but what the world isn't providing for her.
Insanity takes me out on the town and I get high on hate and drunk with bitterness. The next morning I'm hungover with a headache of hopelessness and blurred vision of perspective. Meanwhile insanity complains about how I'm no fun and how miserable she is.
She manipulates me by insisting she is the only one who loves me, although she is incapable of love, and that I owe her my loyalty and I can never abandon her. She is paranoid and suspicious and tells me
"Don't betray me or I will eat your broken heart for breakfast."

30 October 2012

I am not helpless

Several months ago a woman from my ward started coming to group meetings, then we sometimes drove together and I heard her story.  Then a couple months ago she stopped coming to group.  And then stopped coming to church.  I called her Sunday and chatted and I invited her to come to group with me that night. 

She came.  It was a great meeting.  The love I feel for that [unfortunately growing] group of women is so profound.  But on our way home she confessed to me that she was hopeless.  She saw no way out of her misery.  She knew she was terribly insecure and she was sure her husband would never change.  (Ironically her husband is doing really well right now.)

So although she doesn't read my blog, I want to speak to her, and if anyone can relate to her I hope it will help.  She used phrases like

"I will always live in fear and anxiety."

"I can never be happy."

She is realistic enough to know that although leaving the marriage might be her choice, it wouldn't take away the hurt and insecurity.  But she also still believes that her circumstances, namely her husband's past indiscretions and present addictive behaviors, determine her happiness. 

I know that my situation hasn't been as devastating as hers, or maybe yours.  But I also know that the two aforementioned statements are lies.  Peace can replace fear, and happiness is possible. 

The trouble is, it takes work.  And my dear friend is so emotionally exhausted and hopeless that perhaps the idea of having to work to get there is just too overwhelming.  But at some point "the pain of the problem becomes worse than the pain of the solution."

If there is anyone out there who can

1. Acknowledge that there is a possibility that happiness and peace can be achieved
2. Feel even just a tiny glimmer of desire to try to achieve it

I want to help.  I'm going to make an offer.  I have spent months reading and working and trying to understand.  I'm still learning and appreciate the people who are helping me.  But in my process I've accumulated a library of blog posts, quotes, videos, articles etc to help me. 

**My offer is this, if you are willing to read/watch/listen to what I send you every day for one month, and respond by sharing your thougths (via email), I will send you empowering messages daily for 30 days. 

I'm not on step 12 yet, but I feel like this is my way I can share the things I've learned that I use to avoid despair.

At a meeting once, referring to Step 1 that says "I am powerless over the addiction of my loved one" a woman said,


My email is hisstrugglemystruggle (at) gmail (dot) com. If you just need a loving and empathetic support person, reach out. 

22 October 2012

Strong Enough to Be My Man

When Pete and I were first married I followed him everywhere around our tiny apartment.  If he was studying in the living room, I'd lay on the couch.  If he was reading a book on our bed, I'd try and read over his shoulder.  It was that way for years, and I think sometimes he felt a little cramped, like he just wanted some space and I just wanted to be close to him. 

When pornography became the third wheel I went through a period of time where it was difficult to be around him.  There was so much hurt and anger.  There was also so much codependency, and it was exhausting to be managing his life for him.  It took all the fun and romance out of my attachment to him. 

Detachment and boundaries (and offspring I suppose), have brought me an independence I never knew before.  I'm okay with my alone time, in fact I love it.  I need it.  It's how I take care of my side of the street. 

Unfortunately, this has come full circle and turned Pete into a raging codependent. 

Where did she go? Why isn't she constantly at my side? Does she still love me? Does she want to be around me?

He has become needy.  He is a black hole for my attention.  I feel like I give and give, and it's never enough.  It has turned into the same kind of desperate, panicked longing I used to feel. 

I used to walk on eggshells.  Now Pete walks on eggshells.

I used to fish for validation.  Now Pete fishes for validation.

I used to guilt him into spending time with me.  He guilts me about... you get the idea. 

With all do respect to all codependents out there. 

Codependency is unattractive people!

I know that I didn't cause Pete's addiction, but I know that before he or I knew what we were doing, my neediness perpetuated his resentments which in turn led to acting out.

Now that I'm on this side of the fence I can see how frustrating it is to feel like someone's happiness is dependent on me.  It is so much pressure to feel like my every word and every move is being overanalyzed and interpreted. 

What does that mean? Is she mad at me?  Why is she ignoring me?

When in fact it meant nothing.  I'm not mad.  Nor am I ignoring him. 

My heart goes out to Pete.  But I've learned the hard way that although my love, affection, attention, admiration are important aspects of our relationship; his happiness and peace need not be held hostage to them.  And what is more attractive and magentic than a person who is secure and emotionally stable enough to emanate that kind of confidence and contentment?


Ask Pete.  He can't get enough of me.  *wink*

19 October 2012

Breakthrough post-breakdown


Pete left town for a couple days this week.  We were at an impasse.  We weren't speaking about anything above and beyond chirping smoke detectors and schedules.  While he was gone I don't think we spoke at all.

It was a painful few days for me.  One night I found myself melting into a puddle of despair and tears on the living room floor.  I needed to have a good cry. 

Eventually (with the help of fantastic friends), I came to terms with the fact that it was okay for me to have boundaries and to detach, no matter what Pete said to me or how he responded.  I was prepared to have this thing go unresolved, to disagree indefinitely.  In my mind that meant more detaching, more protecting, more distance. 

Before Pete left town he had another relapse.  A day of discouragement and apathy.  But his binge left him feeling sick, and humble and he took his time alone for a chance to get right with God.  And me. When he returned we sat on the couch and he talked.  He apologized.  He was vulnerable.  He articulated thoughts that gave me understanding, but he also validated me.  It wasn't manipulative, it wasn't coercive.  It was as if I could see his soul. 

I feel so blessed that things took this turn.  I know that it doesn't always work that way.  Sometimes when we turn our will over to the Lord, things unfold just the way we hoped they would.  But sometimes they don't.  Sometimes the Lord has a different plan. 

Regardless, I know that this whole addiction bit is like an onion, peeling away layer after complicated layer.  I'm grateful that Pete is peeling away with me for now.  Because man it reeks and stings. 

17 October 2012

Post #4,753 about Detachment

So in the words of Chantel, "How do you handle people who manipuate you?"


I've been thinking and reading up on boundaries again and this is what I found:

"Boundaries are guidelines that we establish to define reasonable, safe and acceptable limits concerning the actions of others... We resolve that we should be treated with love, dignity and respect.  We have the courage to say "no" to demands by our addicted loved ones [or just our friends and family] that are not in our own or their best interest.  We have a right to protect ourselves and choose to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.  'We are seeking to allow less pain, chaos... and negative engery in our lives.'"  (Healing Through Christ 12-Step manual)

Allowing my little sister to yell at me and say cruel things was not only harmful to me, it was harmful to her.  My responsibility was not only to protect myself from her hurtful words, but to give her an opportunity to stop treating me in a way that was not in her best interest either. 

So what should I have done? I think it might be unreasonable to expect a 15 year old to have the maturity to handle it this way, but ideally I would have said to her

"I will not listen to you speak to me that way."  And walk away. 

The tricky part about all this for me is that, like Chantel, I want to correct people.  I can't just walk away because I feel compelled to offer a lengthy explanation of the faults in their behavior and the reasoning behind mine.  But my #1 rule for boundaries is that I can't set boundaries for other people, I can only set them for myself. 

So when it comes to Pete, I have to be okay with the boundaries I set, even if he never agrees with them.  As long as I am confident that they are in my best interest, and that I'm right with God, I can cease with the desperate attempts at persuading him that they are in HIS best interest too. 

For example, I can say to Pete

"I can not be part of your chaos.  When you are agitated or irritable, I have to detach."

Again from the manual,

"Detachment... means that we don't deplete our inner resources by struggling with something that is beyond our power to accomplish." 

Pete's mood is beyond my power to change.  This doesn't mean that I won't talk to him or interact with him, just that I won't do anything to try to change him or his behavior.  I won't manipulate.  Nor will I allow him to turn to me to try to make things better for him. When things ARE better for him, when he has found it within himself to restore his peace, then I can feel safe being emotionally invested in him again. 

When I shared my 4th Step Inventory with my sponsor we talked for awhile about my family and my resentments toward them.  She said to me

"Let them be who they are."

I struggle so much with wishing Pete would "let me be where I am."  The least I can do is offer him the same courtesy.  It is in the best interest of my peace and serenity to surrender all the manipulators in my life over to God.  It is between Him and them to sort out their issues. 

And because I'm still a little hung up on justifying my detachment, a quote from Alicia who sums it up well for me.

"The truth is: It's hard for me to invest fully in something when I know it isn't solid. I can't blindfold myself to uncertainty and carelessly throw my cash in the pile. I'm going to get hurt again. My heart is going to get broken again. I'm going to grapple with the harness of betrayal again.  I'm only doing today what I feel is right to do today."

16 October 2012

P.S. on manipulation

SO!  In my last post (read it first if you haven't) I sort of alluded to the fact that I often "manipulate back."  Last night after I published I went to the forum and read an awesome comment by Alicia. 

I love Alicia as much as I can love someone I've only met online.  Check out her blog

Anyway, she talked about how much she hates it when someone doesn't agree with her 100%.  In my response to her on the forum I said

"Alicia- I'm having such a hard time with this. I get all kinds of crazy anxiety with my husband doesn't agree with me. I want to talk all night, until I'm blue in the face, making fantastic points and presenting mounds of evidence to demonstrate my rightness. And he still doesn't agree. And then I crumble into a pathetic heap and cry and cry. I don't know how to let it go. Every night for the past week we've gone to bed in awkward tension because we're so STUCK. I've at least stopped the pathetic sobbing, but inside my heart feels empty because I am sure we are doomed if we can't AGREE ON THIS!!!"

Then it hit me that part of the reason this is so hard, is because I've been a master manipulator myself.  In the past when Pete didn't agree with me I would do exactly what I described above.  I would cry and sob until he had no choice but give me some kind of concession.  Without acknowleding that what I was doing was exploiting HIS guilt, I did at least recognize that I needed to stop. 

Which I have.  I have stopped trying to manipulate back.  Which means it goes unresolved.  And that is what is killing me. 

15 October 2012

We Teach People How to Treat Us

Before I dive in here, thank you so much everyone for the love and support.  I've been feeling so lonely lately and your words help so much.


My counselor told me once that "we train people how to treat us." I knew what she meant but for some reason it didn't resonate with me.  She says a lot during an hour and I usually only walk away with one or two things to focus on. But it came up as we were discussing an "argument" I'd had with my mom where my mom was using guilt to try to change my point of view.

I've been thinking about it much more lately, about how we teach people that they can get what they want/think-they-need from us by treating us a certain way.  In other words, they find our achilles heel and exploit it to get the validation/attention/forgiveness they think they need.  It doesn't really work, it's a total lose-lose for both parties, but I'll get to that in a minute.

When I was a teenager I fought often with my younger sister.  I'm not the type to throw out cruel, cutting remarks in an argument, but my sister was. 

[By the way, I KNOW that at least on a subconscious level I manipulate the people I love most to get what I want.  For example- a conversation with my sensitive little boy where I pout and say "It makes Mommy really sad when you don't obey.  Do you want to make Mommy really sad?"]


My sister would hurt me terribly in our arguments.  My entire family knows that I am prone to guilt, I need words of affirmation and I have a sensitive conscience.  After a big fight my little sister would come to me and say "Why are you mad at me? I hate it when you're mad at me."

I'd melt like chocolate and we would reconcile.  There was rarely an apology, just a sly maneuver on her part to get me to concede.  But the truth was, I didn't really forgive her, in fact I resented her. But because I tolerated her behavior, I was in a way responsible for her repeatedly using this tactic against me.  No, I'm not to blame for her selfish choices, but I'd at least led her to believe that this method of hers worked.  

I had a painful realization the other night that I've trained Pete too.  He knows me better than anyone.  He knows how effective guilt can be in getting me to concede. 

This is really hard to write because I know he will read it and I know it might make him hurt or angry. 

The other night it was two days post relapse, Pete was grumpy, stomping around the house a bit.  He came to me looking for validation, he tried to hug me and I turned him away.  It was a boundary.  I couldn't hug him when he was acting like that.  He got mad.

At first I wanted to say

"I'm sorry. Come back.  I'll hug you! I'm sorry!" 

in a crazy codepedent way. Don't make him mad. Don't hurt his feelings.  It's YOUR job to love and support him, cheer him up, etc.

This post is getting long so I'll cut to the chase.

It was scary when I realized that it's not okay for people to talk to me the way my little sister used to talk to me.  It's not okay for people to guilt me into anything.  I have to teach people to treat me with respect. I have to teach them a new way to treat me that is non-coercive and accepting.  This means saying things that my whole life I've been so scared to say. 

"You can not talk to me this way." 

"I can not do that for you.  I'm sorry."

"Thank you for sharing.  You might be right.  We can talk about it later."

But even harder still, being able to walk away.  No more begging.  No more pandering.  No more sobbing to manipulate back. 

Manipulation might provide immediate results, but it feels hollow because it is so insincere.  It is desperate and forceful.  It fosters resentments and makes communication unclear.  Last night at group meeting a friend told me

"Now that my husband has been sober for two years he says that when he looks back on the way he treated me it's like those Claritin commercials.  All of the sudden it's so much clearer.  He didn't know that he couldn't see clearly, until he saw clearly."

14 October 2012


I've been living the last few days in the awkward discomfort of radio silence.  Pete and I have been at a stand-still, our relationship feeling hollow, and me feeling empty inside.  It is probably the cumulative effect of two people feeling totally misunderstood. 

The last couple nights as I've crawled into bed I've struggled to fight back the tears of despair. 

 I loved this quote from a woman named Julie who did a guest post on Jacy's blog.  She said

"People often ask me how I handle so many trials. I usually respond with something like, I didn’t know I had any other option."

Exactly.  What is the alternative?  Ending up in a psychiatric hospital on suicide watch? And friends, I don't say that in a derogatory way.  A human soul can only handle so much before that starts to seem like a reasonable alternative.  Thankfully I'm not to that point, I'm coping.  But when people say
"I don't know how you do it."  I feel like I have no other option. 

At least that's what I thought.  When I tried to tell myself that I was strong I didn't know how or what that meant.  Then I had breakthrough.  A couple nights ago I knelt at my beside, with a choice before me.

1. Plunge into the despair.  Let it overtake me.  Grab the Kleenex box and weep over my misfortune. 
2. Let it go.  Forget about it, at least for now.  Don't give into the despair.  Don't shed one tear.

I realized that if I was going to choose the second option it was going to take something... I was going to have to be strong.  I needed intellectual and emotional strength to let it go.  But I felt weak.  I thought of all the people I admire, and how they have chosen not to dwell in darkness and I decided that that night there were going to be no tears. 

It was truly liberating and empowering. I felt strong

I know I'm not always going to succeed.  The next night I had to do it again. I didn't cry but I still allowed self-pity to occupy my thoughts until I fell asleep.  But I know I have strength within me, and my other option isn't insanity.

It's peace and purpose.   

10 October 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

Coping With Relapse


If I give you nothing else on this blog, I at least give you honesty.  Even though it is an anonymous blog, I still feel embarrassed about some of the things I share here.  And for some who I've actually met, it's not anonymous anymore.  I'm so grateful to be a person, a friend to some of you, but it makes it more difficult to air my dirty laundry. 

On that note I need to make another confession.

The last three months or so have gone really well for Pete.  Each period of sobriety has brought us increased understanding and I've watched him discover new ways to LIVE with more happiness, more patience and involvement with our kids, a more compassionate and generous heart, and more kindness toward me and others.  Apologies, when necessary, come sooner, and opportunities to serve haven't been taken for granted.  It's been nice.

I have even allowed myself to wonder if this was it, if this was his breakthrough.  I knew that moments of temptation would come, and sure enough they did.  Last week while traveling he had a rough night, full of the chaos that I talked about before.  But he pulled through.  He recognized that the addiction is still making his life unmanagable but somehow he didn't get give in. 

This experience gave me new hope. I started to believe that it was possible for him to refrain, that he is capable, and willing.  It made me think that things could be different from here on out.

And then I started to wonder what that meant for me.  I've gained such an identity on this blog and in this community.  If Pete overomes this ugly beast, will I lose my place here?  I know that none of us really want to be in the WoPA club, but now that I've found a niche here, I was worried about losing my spot.   What if I can't blog anymore because I have nothing left to say?  What if I become an outsider?

My insecurities were clearly getting the best of me.  My desperate need to feel important was making me crazy and irrational!

On Monday Pete was out of town again. I called him while I was at Walmart because I knew he'd be heading home soon.  He told me that he'd lost a battle in his hotel room.  Our conversation was brief, we were both struggling with our emotions and we were both still in public places.  As I stood there in the aisle, alone and hurt, my first thoughts were about all the things I just confessed.  And then this

"Stupid stupid stupid.  To wish for another relapse, just to keep me involved in this WoPA world was so stupid.  This hurts.  I hate it."

I'm doing pretty well in spite of our setbacks.  I see so much progress in myself.  But I don't want pornography in my life forever.  I just don't.  And I feel the same way for each of you.  I don't really want anyone to need this blog, including me.  It's just another lesson to me that my worth has to be so internalized that I can feel true joy in life's most exciting moments, that my validation comes from within, and not from the ways I can manipulate adversity.  

So I'm crossing that lesson off the list.  How many more lessons are there before this is all said and done?  What yet must I learn?

05 October 2012

All things are mine, since I am His

I used to love the saying "It'll all be okay in the end, and if it's not okay, it's not the end."

It was clever and trite.  Just like all cliches ought to be. 

But the more I thought about that on my bad days, the more I hated it.  What exactly is the end? WHEN is the end?  When I die?

So it'll all be okay when I die?  I don't want to wait that long. 

In my most difficult moments, when I am full of despair, sometimes it's so bad that in complete desperation I know that there can only be one refuge.  And it's my belief that someone, who loves me, knows my anguish.  And more.  It's as if no earthly thing can be any consolation to me.  I require something divine.

These moments, interestingly, don't always come in my most religious moments.  Sometimes when church is hard, or the gospel doesn't seem to provide all the answers I want, I am still able to feel the closeness of my Savior. 

"When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord."   Elder David A. Bednar

My latest inspiring melody, gets me every time. 

03 October 2012

Weapons in My Private Cognitive Warfare


So, in an effort to keep the bird from building a nest on my head, I came up with some simple, but meaningful phrases.  I want to memorize these, take them with me everywhere for awhile, until I can pull them up into my consciousness whenever my negative, self-pitying, critical thoughts start to take hold.  This is an experiment of sorts I guess.  Has anyone else tried something like this? I got the idea from Mara's post.

Many of these came from quotes or ideas from others, so I've cited those sources at the bottom.  I tried to make the statements concise and rhythmic.  We'll see...

  • I need not depend on others to validate my worth.
  • I need not prove my worth.1
  • I need only compare myself as I am and as I used to be.2
#2- LOVE
  • I can make room for empathy by letting go of shame and guilt.
  • I can love others as a reflection of God's love in me.
  • I can be true to my faith, and a blessing to others regardless of their faith.3
#3- PETE
  • I can demonstrate admiration.
  • I can reciprocate love through affection.
  • I will not let my soul be sorrow's home.4
  • I will not be blind to the goodness of those who surround me.
  • I am loved by God the way I am, but loved too much to be left this way.5  
  • I can give up the charade of my righteousness.6
  • I can choose love over esteem, kindness over recognition.7
  • I can see that my personal need for the Savior is not affected by what others have or have not done. 8

1. Marjorie Pay Hinckley
2. Courage to Change: One Day at a Time - I NEED this book.  I hear good quotes from it all the time at group meeting. 
3. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Jewish Imperative
4. S. Michael Wilcox - Sunset - The exact quote reads: "The soul was not made by God to be sorrow's home. He would have us happy."
5. Brad Wilcox - his words I'm referencing here are from a different presentation not available online.
6-8. James L. Ferrell - Falling to Heaven

02 October 2012

Pete's Drug

I typically try to keep this blog less about Pete, and more about me, but I felt like these thoughts were worth sharing.

Both Pete and I are approaching one year of recovery, meaning one year since we both started taking an active role in educating ourselves and seeking outside support.  (Counseling, group meetings, etc.) It is so hard to detect progress, until a year has passed and then looking back we can see how far we've come.  It was particularly evident to me at group meeting when a wife came for the first time, and afterward I told her  "You are me, a year go."  I cried through meetings and trembled with emotion and fear.  

Pete's progress over the last year hasn't been marked by total sobriety, but by an increased understanding of the root of his addiction.  I've heard addiction compared to a tree, the roots are the feelings and resentments, the pain that causes the addict to look for relief, and the trunk is the addiction itself.  The branches are all the negative consequences of the addict's behavior and choices.  Trying to overcome the addiction by simply cutting off the tree at the branches (codependency at its best), or even the trunk (abstinence alone) might not stop the tree from growing back. 

There is only one thing worse than an addict in denial, and it's an addict who is in denial about why he is an addict. 

It's probably a work in progress but Pete is finally coming to terms with the feelings, resentments and pain that cause him to seek relief.   I'm going to do my best to put that into words. 

It's not just one thing, but a number of things that can get Pete down.  It can be boredom at work.  It can be dissatisfaction with our sexual relationship.  It can be a general dissatisfaction with life.  This last one is particularly fatal because Pete knows he has every reason to be happy, and reconciling the fact that he is unhappy with the fact that his life is good, causes chaos in his brain. 

For whatever reason, years ago, he turn to lust and pornography as a relief or distraction from the chaos. At first it was just fantasizing about me.  Easily justified, right? Why shouldn't a man think of his wife that way?  But then those thoughts weren't enough to distract him from his unhappiness.  So he allowed his thoughts to entertain other lustful ideas. 

Still justifiable, right? He hadn't technically done anything wrong.

But then thoughts alone weren't enough.  Not only was he seeking an escape, by now there were hormones and physical responses involved.  Arousal, adrenaline, excitement.  So it was images he sought.  Then even that didn't satisfy...  And as they say, the rest is history.

Pete has learned to recognize now when his body is craving his drug.  Whenever he senses a general unhappiness come over him, the chaos in his brain ensues, and he longs for reprieve.  He says that's exactly what it feels like.  It feels like reaching for a drug. 

When I get a headache, or muscle ache, or any pain, I grab the ibuprofen.   When life gets intense (which for Pete comes from a myriad of more specific complaints/problems) he wants his drug. 

I know a lot of these ideas are things I've shared before, just in different words.  And I know that awareness is only half the battle.  But it IS half the battle.  And I'm feeling pretty good about the breakthrough. 

27 September 2012

A Monopoly on the Good

Politically speaking, I fall into the category of the "independents."  I don't associate with a party, and vote each election on whichever candidate represents my opinions on the issues that candidate actually has influence over, or the candidate that I feel best meets the needs of myself/my family/the country. Anyway, my family was having an ongoing email discussion about politics and my brother said this:

"[Individuals] should find the best in conservatism (traditional family values, religiously-rooted morality, self-reliance, etc) as compelling as the best in liberalism (caring for the poor, helping those who cannot help themselves, constantly striving to improve others' quality of life, etc.) I am heartily skeptical of the side that claims so adamantly to have a monopoly on The Good."

I thought it was a good point.  But this post isn't about politics. It's about me. (Haha, because it's MY blog.)

I was having a bad day yesterday.  I've been making  a conscious effort to get to the root of my negative thoughts, the thoughts that get me down, angry, frustrated, discouraged, depressed.  Then in the shower(of course) it clicked.  My brother's phrase convicted me. 

I think I have a monopoly on the good.  I am so sure of my own opinions that it is unbearable for me to accept the differences in others.  I expend ridiculous amounts of mental energy collecting evidence to prove myself.  When someone disagrees, I look to my friends for allies, to validate me.  But it's filling me with despair. 

Obviously, this has creeped into my marriage.  And having a husband with a pornography addiction has made me feel like I have a license to have a monopoly on the good. 

Who is he to dare to disagree with me?

I'm slowly learning that I DON'T have a monopoly on the good.  My solutions aren't universal.  My ideas aren't the ONLY worthwhile ideas.

BUT- nor does it mean that my solutions and my ideas aren't good.  But I don't need to defend them. 
I am so tired of my inner turmoil, my daily battles I fight in my brain, trying to validate myself and tear down others.  I am truly exhausted from those efforts, ready to give them up. 

My only consolation is that I've reached a level of AWARENESS.  And that's progress people. 

25 September 2012


Just some administrative stuff here...

I use blogger because I've always used blogger and it's familiar to me.  But not too long ago (I don't think) they started putting ad banners at the top of the screen.  The ads are based on the blog content, which for me means ads targeting pornography users. 

Talk about a punch in the gut.  The last thing I want to look at while I'm writing about the anguish of sexual addiction is advertisements of woman with un-human sized breasts with enticing language and invitations. The last one said

*warning* these girls will pursue you

GIRLS?! Seriously, it makes me want to throw up. 

So what do I do?

Are you seeing these ads when you read the blog?


23 September 2012

GET! OUT! Stupid birds.


There's a Chinese proverb that says

"You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

I love that proverb.  But I'm no good at it.  I've got nests all over the place.

Pete told me that when he was twelve his Sunday school teacher did an object lesson using a toilet paper roll, some black cotton balls and some white cotton balls.  He filled the roll with black cotton balls,

"These are bad thoughts in your brain."  He dumped them all out, but pointed out that in the empty space they easily found their way back in.  So gradually he started shoving white cotton balls into the toilet paper roll, and Lo! Behold! The black ones popped out, one by one. 

I've been thinking about what to do with the negative thoughts that are floating in my head.

Jealousy, resentment, judgment.  I don't want them there.  They drag me down.  The trouble is, in the moment that the birds of sorrow are gathering twigs, I don't have the energy to fight them.  I make a few weak efforts to conjure up some positive images or find gratitude, but it's half-hearted. 

For example: Today on Facebook (yes, I'm STILL on FB), one my friends posted a picture of Honey Boo Boo with her mother, and some other ridiculously dressed pageant obsessed women and their own victims of vain obsession daughters.  My friend's caption said "Love me some Honey Boo Boo!"

What?! I never thought  R----  would be the type to be into that warped world of veneers and fake tans on toddlers?  I mean seriously people! Honey Boo Boo represents everything that is wrong with our society. Worth based on beauty, sexualizing young girls, etc, etc.  I need to comment, I need to point out the error of R---'s thinking.  Where is my soapbox, I need it NOW. 

Meanwhile conflict takes over my entire being, I get agitated and annoyed, I've lost all peace and kindness.  The birds are laying eggs already. 

Later today... I'm cooking dinner and Pete comes in and playfully sticks his hand between my legs. 

What?! He is so horny.  He is always so horny.  Does he think I'm going to take my clothes off right here?  I'm busy.  His timing is terrible, I would rather he just cut that onion.

My body language is icy cold and he withdraws, hurt and rejected.  A giant wall has instantly gone up between us. 

I think what I need is some stand-by positive thoughts.  Some easy to retrieve, "go-to" catch phrases to be the equivalent of my white cotton balls.  That's going to be my project this week.  A creed.  Or more like, 5 Creeds. 

#1- Positive thoughts to combat the birds of comparison.  Thoughts on worth.
#2- Positive thoughts to overcome judgment.  Charitable thoughts.
#3- Affectionate thoughts about Pete. 
#4- Positive thoughts to ward off jealousy, thoughts of gratitude.
#5- Positive thoughts to squash pride.  Thoughts on humility.

18 September 2012

But I'm NOT the one wth the problem...

I appreciate your comments so much. I am the worst about getting stuck in my tunnel of experience and opinion and hearing feedback helps me break out of that and try looking at things from a different paradigm. Which is not easy for me, but I'll get to that in a minute.
I want to respond to the heartfelt message of Anonymous when she wrote this:

"I just can't get my head wrapped around step 4-8 for the spouses of the addicted. I get step 1-3 but I feel slapped in the face when I get to step 4. I look at my recovery through the eyes of someone who has lost a limb. I feel I am working through the grieving process. I feel that my very human feelings and behaviors should not be couched in language to make me feel I have sinned and need to make amends. I guess I don't like the inference that step 4-8 makes that I have done something wrong and need to repent."

First of all- I'm so sorry for your experience. And I am inspired by the dignified and mature way that you talk about it now. You are amazing.

I think I've mentioned this before but I distinctly remember thinking, at my first family support group meeting when everyone was calling themselves "codependents"

"Don't you DARE stick a label on me. I am NOT the one with the problem."

It's true, I wasn't the one with a socially unacceptable, sprititually devastating, marriage destroying pornography or sex addiction. But what the 4th step did for me, was help me realize other behaviors in my life [most were totally unrelated to Pete's addiction] that were keeping me from having more fulfilling relationships and happiness in general.

In the Healing Through Christ Manual it says:

"Step Four provides the opportunity for each of us to write a complete honest inventory of ourselves—our weaknesses and our strengths, our virtues and our struggles. As we begin using a Step Four inventory to look within ourselves, we lay a foundation of self-understanding that will bring change and healing into our lives. Brigham Young taught: 'The greatest lesson you can learn is to know yourselves.' This inventory becoms crucial in helping us deal with our own struggles and hurts and in facing our current circumstances with courage and faith."

My Step Four didn't include any confessions of past sins, and the extent of my repentence was a prayer between me and God that I talked about here. What Steps 4-8 have done,and continue to do for me are make me aware of my frustrating foibles and give me opportunity to request the help of the Savior in overcoming them.

Just as an example, looking back over my life helped me see patterns, one in particular was the way that I was raised and surrounded by people that I call "elitists." I love my family, but they speak very condescendingly of people who have different (therefore wrong) opinions from their own. Here is a paragraph directly from my inventory. [Be gentle with me, this is difficult to share.]

I get agitated when someone disagrees with me. It makes me irritable, frustrated, lonely and grumpy.I am stubborn, and the more I am pushed in one direction the more I resist the pressure. When someone disagrees with me, rather than considering their perspective I dig deeper in my own opinion and exert great energy into proving them wrong or trying to persuade them. I take it personally when someone disagrees with me, attaching my opinions to my worth and when someone questions my opinion my worth is threatened.

The fact that I'm writing this post is evidence of this very weakness! But what steps 4-8 do for me is make me aware of the weakness, and then with the Saviors grace, find strength to be different.

Having said ALL that, I want to end on a final thought. I really hope you're still reading.

In my opinion Steps 4-8 ARE the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Anonymous, your comment

"I feel that my time to do moral inventory happens in those quiet moments during the sacrament every sunday, in my personal prayer and scripture reading. "

is the heart of the matter. I think it's perfectly appropriate for that to be the way you approach your own weaknesses and your relationships with God. It's the way most people do it, spiritually mature people who understand the atonement. But for whatever reason, I needed the framework of the 12 step program to help me understand those things. To guide me through my journey of self-reflection and to make me accountable to someone to actually write it out. 

And although I haven't yet written about steps 6 and 7, I will soon, because I study them often as I struggle to let go of my bad habits and shortcomings. It as been suprisingly difficult to be willing to let them go.