22 February 2012

Step One

I've been attending support group meetings for five months now and I'm still on Step One.  What does that mean exactly? It means that even though I've read through many of the steps at group meeting, in my personal study at home I've never gone past Step One.  That isn't because I don't understand it, it is because I've been terrible about making "step work" a priority.  What does it mean to "work" a step? For me it means to study it, read about it, ponder about it and then of course apply it to my life in a way that changes my attitudes AND behaviors.  Anyway, I think I've had a break-through with Step One but I want to share my thoughts here before I move on to Step Two.

I'm in a good place right now.  I'm full of peace and hope.  But occasionally I am reminded that this problem isn't gone forever, and that it will likely continue to re-surface in my future.  This can be a depressing thought, and just the thought itself often robs me of my peace.  Then fears and doubts creep in and I find myself thinking "Is this going to be my life forever?"  "Do I have more misery and hurt awaiting me?" 

This is no way to live.  I don't want those feelings anymore.  Enter:  STEP ONE  (Choruses of angelic voices sing it.)

My favorite quote from  Step One:

 "We begin to discover the freedom and the power we do possess- the power to define and live our own lives."

There are two roads ahead:

1. My husband will not relapse, and we will continue to enjoy the blessings of his good choices.
2. My husband will relapse, and I will be tempted to feel anger and self-pity.

Ultimately I want the end of the roads to be the same place, a place of peace.  So I am determining right now that which ever road becomes the way, either way I am going to get there, to my place of peace.  I've said this in comments on forums and blogs but it is my new mantra. 

"No matter what happens.  [Relapse or no relapse.]  I am going to be okay. 

I really am.  And suddenly the burden and anxiety  I mentioned before about the future is lifted.  My peace is not robbed from me, because I've let go of my fear and doubt.   I am powerless over Pete's addiction.  I can not control which road will unwind before me.  I will not waste another minute trying to do so.  And furthermore, should the road be bumpy and unpleasant, I will be okay.  I will feel God's peace again, as I have before.

Elder Richard G. Scott [one of my favorites]

"Rest the burden in the hands of the Lord... and worry no more."

**I am referring to Step One of the Healing Through Christ Family Support Guide which includes a 12-step program for those who have loved ones in addiction.  There is actually a new and updated manual, which I will post a link to when I get it. 


  1. I ran acrossed your blog when a friend posted about donating to the VIDEO that is being made to educate people about addiction. I don't have any experience with what your going through....and my heart breaks when I read through some of your posts. However, I had to tell you....I love to read your words. Sometimes the words you post can be used to work through trials FAR different that addiction or pornography. I like your insight on a lot of things....and I am amazed by your perserverence. That being said...sometimes I disagree and feel very strongly the opposite. Whichever it is that particular day...I always am amazed by your courage and determination to WIN THIS or to better yourself through the process. I Loved your post on self-pity. I went through infertility for a few years and I struggled with that a lot. It was wonderful advice:)

    Good Luck with everything. I am hoping the best for you everyday.

    quick question....I am very religious and trust everything the healing through Christ support guide would/does say...however, I am often curious as to why it isn't encouraged to put yourself FIRST. To do your best to help and support your partner...but if he relapses, lies or breaks trust....then leave. You always say...you can't control his addiction...so why is it encouraged for you to suffer because of it...even though you could choose to not live like this and move on. You didn't make this choice...but you have to live with it? I have so many mixed feelings about why it is encouraged to stay.

    Sometimes I literally feel my heart breaking for women who feel OBLIGATED to live their life in "suspicion" or feeling sad. WE get the opportunity to live our life ONCE.

    I completely understand how uneducated I am on the subject...how I've never dealt with it...and how painful it must be. I just view you and other women who suffer like this as WORTH IT. Worth living the ideal and never having to deal with the continual consequences of someone else's actions.

    My husband is a family attorney and he sees first hand the separation of families and custody battles over children, etc. It is sad...but often times he says..."This one actually was a good thing..." because it is toxic to be continually held back and drug down my a partner who makes poor choices.

    Sorry for the novel!!! I just really wish I could give you a hug and wish you the best. I look forward to your posts. Thanks for sharing your advice and courage and wonderful insight. It is helping so many...I'm sure of it.

  2. Love this, Jane. I'm learning slowly that I can control how I react to things, and am choosing to be happy. Life is so much better that way, right?

    Anonymous--Love what you said. I have all the same thoughts all the time. For me it's an individual choice. None of us are told to stay and suffer. I've come to realize that the pain cause by the pornography in my relationship in no way outweighs the joy of being with my husband. This doesn't define him. It's something we're working on. I have set boundaries with him, and he knows that if it ever progressed to x, Y, or Z, the kids and I would be gone. My husband is worth it to me. If he makes bad decisions in the future and pulls away from us, he may not be "worth it" to me anymore. But right now he is. I've looked at women before and thought, "Why doesn't she just leave him?" Now I know that it's not always black and white like that. You'd know if you were in this situation, too (and I think you acknowledged that). There are some women who do need to realize they are worth more than the crappy life they are living and need someone to tell them it's okay to leave. But for many of us, it's something we're fighting but not something grave enough to condemn and leave our best friend over. Hope that makes sense!

  3. Jane - I really love this post! I still marvel that it came to me so clearly...but when my ex-wife confessed to me the things she'd done and that she thought she needed to leave for a while to figure things out on her own, the next morning I woke up, went for a drive to go think about how I was going to handle all this. Two options settled before me as clear as day, and they were the only options I would settle for:

    1) My wife and I would successfully repair the damages and our relationship and move on better than ever before, or
    2) My wife would not change and continue her destructive behavior, and my life would move on better than ever before.

    Once those became my only two options, it positively shaped everything else. If I really believed in option 1, then I had to treat my wife with as much kindness, love, patience, encouragement, and forgiveness as possible...otherwise if I said terrible or mean or spiteful things to her already damaged self image...she might never believe I'd forgiven her and that we could indeed have a great relationship together, which would have negated option 1. I wasn't willing to do that. Option 1 was always something I worked for, such that even when it was clear the marriage wouldn't survive, it was still my habit and we had about the most amicable, friendly, loving divorce I think I ever could have imagined (it takes two, it certainly wasn't all me, she is and always has been a lovely person who made some very bad choices).

    Also, since I fully believed in option 2 as well...that meant I had to give up self-pity, fears about what friends and coworkers would say, worries about how long it would take to find a great partner, etc. I had to give them all up, and move forward confidently, knowing that the choices I was making to ensure both 1 and 2 could be a reality are the only reasons either one would ever work (does that even make sense?).

    And the cool part was, when I was working on things related to number 1 - it made number 2 all the more likely (because I was learning how to love better, how to be more patient and kind).

    Basically, Peace was my only option...and Peace is what I found (no matter what circumstances I was faced with)

    1. It's true what you said about working on #1 making #2 easier. Deciding to be loving and forgiving toward the one person who has the most power to hurt you, lights the way for a life of acceptance and peace. And once I came to peace about how I would handle my future, with faith and love, there has been so much less worry about the things you mentioned like what friends will think and what your life ahead would be like.