31 May 2012

Quick Note

I know there are women out there who struggle with an addiction to pornography.  I am not sure if any read this blog, but I just felt compelled to say that I do not mean to be insensitive or ignorant to your perspective. 

I know when I write here I imply that it is always the husband who is the addict and the wife who is the [non] victim.  That is the simplest way for me to write, but I often catch myself thinking from only that paradigm.

I am aware that this is not always the case.  My heart goes out to anyone, woman or man, who desires a different life than the one they are living in the bonds of addiction.  I hope I have not offended or frustrated anyone by the language I use here.  But it is what I know, it is the situation I am familiar with, and so it is the most comfortable perspective for me, keeping in mind that it is a generalization and not true to every other situation. 

My apologies if you have felt ignored or disregarded. 

Role Reversal

Eating is definitely one of my compulsive behaviors.  If I had a dollar for every time I said to Pete

"Just don't do it.  Don't. do. it.  Just don't." 

Forget that, if I had a dollar for every time I THOUGHT those words...

Anyway, the best situation I could muster to help me relate was when it comes to food. 

"Just don't eat a brownie for breakfast.  Just don't."

So why do I? Because I either totally ignore the voice telling me not to, with complete apathy and utter disregard.  Or I let the justifcations flow.  I'll run later, I'll only eat half, etc. 

I'm going to do a little role reversal.  I'll make my point in another post tomorrow. Well my point should be obvious but I'll elaborate on it tomorrow.  I know that there are flaws in my analogy, but bear with me for the sake of the point. 

A little hypothetical backround for my hypothetical situation:

Suppose overeating began to have consequences in my marriage and family.  Suppose I became grossly overweight and was unable to adequately function as an active wife and mother.  Then financial obligations mounted as health issues arose.  Pete and I decide I have an addiction and it's time for help.  I begin seeing a counselor, attending meetings, dieting, etc.  Here is a hypothetical day. 

Pete comes home from work.  I'm crashed on the couch with my laptop perusing Pinterest.  Immediately his demeanor changes and I can sense his frustration.  I immediately get defensive.

"How was your day?" he asks.

Hmm.  I'm thinking.  My day was crappy.  It got off to a bad start because I skipped my workout because the kids were cranky and wouldn't leave me alone on the treadmill.  So then I felt unmotivated and I ate three bowls of cocoa puffs for breakfast.  But I really don't want to admit to any of that.

"It was okay."

He's trying to be delicate, he's learning about co-dependency too, but he can't resist. 

"Did you exercise?"

I know he's trying to be helpful, to make me accountable.  I know he loves me and cares about my best interest.  But sometimes it feels like all he really wants is for me to be skinny.  Well I'm just NOT going to be skinny again.  That's unfair

"No."  I get up off the couch and stomp around the kitchen making dinner.  He is definitely irriated.  Irritated that I'm not doing my part, that I'm not "recovering."  He doesn't see any progress.  He feels discouraged and hopeless. 

So that makes ME irritated.  Why does he have to worry about me so much?  Why can't he back off? 

"So how about the diet? What did you eat today?"

UGH. This is soooo annoying.  I can't even stand to be around him.  I'm embarrassed. I feel like I suck.  I can't do anything right. He'll never be happy.  Why doesn't he just hug me, and tell me that maybe tomorrow will be better. Why can't he accept me? Forgive me? 

We spend the evening in totally awkward silence.  I can tell he's keeping an eye on me. Staying close,  trying to be inconspicuous as he observes my every move in the kitchen.

"Do you want to go on a walk?" He asks.

Ahhh! Quit it! Quit trying to fix me! Quit taking ownership of my life! QUIT IT!!! I don't feel like walking.  One stupid walk isn't going make me lose 100 pounds.  This is a bigger problem than that. He really doesn't get it. 

Deep down I'm feeling hopeless myself.  Feeling like I'll never get better.  I can't change. 

I finally lash out. 

"Just leave me alone.  It's not like you're perfect.  It's not like you ever exercise or have to watch what you eat.  Maybe if you didn't put so much pressure on me I could change.  Not to mention the fact that you don't really help me much with the kids.  If you did a little more around the house I might have more time for exercise."

Change the subject, blame it on him, show him how frustrated I am. 

It works.  He fights back. He tells me I'm messed up for blaming him.  He tells me I'll never get better if I don't live differently.  He doesn't hold back.  His words hurt.  A lot.  I feel like he doesn't even love me. 

We go to bed, both of us angry and hurt.  Both of us devastated about the situation we find ourselves in.  Both of us hopeless.  

29 May 2012

Is it just me, or is this recovery lasting forever?

I hate the phrase "Once an addict, always an addict." I don't hate it because it isn't true, I think there is truth in it.  But I hate it because it invokes fear and anxiety along with despair and hopelessness.
But I've also learned about honesty in this journey.  And honesty with myself amounts to a certain degree of realism.  I have unwavering hope in Pete's recovery, but I am realistic about my ideas of the long-term effects of addiction in my life.  I haven't always been this way, and neither has Pete.  It has taken both of us a long time to realize that we are past the point of  a quick-fix, or "getting over" this and sweeping it under the rug and moving on with our lives as if it never happened.  In the beginning that was what we both wanted.  Shame, naivete, and a little fear kept us from accepting, trusting and healing. 

Now I know that my life is changed forever.  And I don't say that in a foreboding and hopeless way.  I say it because, not only am I a completely modified version of myself, I've also let go of my plans and expectations for what the future may hold.  The addiction part of my life is SO out of my hands.  That's where trust in God comes in.  But in the meantime I try to keep the following things in mind.

1. In order to feel hope and avoid discouragement, it might be tempting to see recovery as an event, that once it has taken place the addict is cured. I asked my husband if he thought it was possible to quit cold turkey, and he said "Certainly." He said that maybe if a man hit rock bottom he might be motivated AND desperate enough to never go back.  But that might be rare.  Those with experience, please speak up. 

2. I can also see how an addict might get comfortable in their recovery, after years of diligent effort to change old habits that led to addiction. I can see how after years of sobriety a former addict might not still consider himself an addict.  This is important because I don't think addicts should let their addiction define them. They are so much more than their "problem."

3. However, my husband knows that although he looks forward to an indefinite sobriety, a time in his life when he feels he has moved past this temptation, he knows there are some things about him that are different than men who aren't addicts. There are some things he knows he will never do.  Just like an alocoholic, even one who has been sober for years, will likely never enter a bar, my husband will never be casual about his use of the internet or flipping through  channels alone in his hotel room.  Someone recovering from an addiction to gambling will probably stay away from casinos. 

Like the analogy that both Pete and I have shared about the pathway, it will always exist.  And with the right triggers, should an addict find his way back to that path, with minimal effort it can be restored to its original convenience as the path of least resistance.   Fortunately, hope maintains its place, because a path covered over is much easier to avoid, especially when the addict finds joy in new pathways, giving him freedom from the pains and issues that lead him down his original path in the first place. 

So while I believe whole-heartedly in recovery, I also believe that there is some truth to the saying "once an addict, always an addict."  And honestly, I'm okay with that.  I'm okay living with an addict.  Call me crazy, and forgive me for a minute if you think I'm minimizing this, BUT

*There are worse things than pornography.  I don't mean to be insensitive, believe me, I know it sucks.  But a little gratitude goes a long way. Trials are unavoidable and as far as trials go, this one seems to be working for me.  (How's that for an invitation for more trials?)
*Even in "worse things" God is there to offer strength and peace.  Even in storms darker than mine, there is blue sky ahead.
*Pete's recovery is not the "golden ticket" to my happiness.  My happiness is my responsibility and is always there for the taking.

25 May 2012

Covering the spectrum

In August of 2011, nine months ago, I sat down at my computer in a desperate attempt to find someone else out there who was going through what I was going through.  If pornography addiction is as prevalent as they say, where were the wives of the addicts?  You can find anything on the internet, and I was determined to find a friend, a support group, someone to comfort me. 

This was before I discovered the 12-step program, before I attended or even knew about the family support group meetings and the only soul in the world who knew about "the problem" besides Pete and me, was our bishop.  It was a painfully lonely time and I was truly desperate. 

My search gave me two leads.  First I discovered Maurice's blog.  I read a few posts, and sent Maurice an email or two.  His responses were wonderful and his posts were full of understanding.  But he wasn't what I really wanted.  Second I found the CafeMom forum for wives of porn addicts.  The forum was a great starting place for me, but I found that despite the good efforts of the moderators it was a depressing, negative and hopeless place.  I haven't been back in months.  But I am eternally grateful for it because that is where I met Wife A and Mac. 

Wife A and Wife J had decided to start a blog, and I wanted to be a part of it.  So she invited me as a contributor and I wrote a couple posts.  But then I decided I needed my own place to write, and I was so anxious for a blog on this subject that I determined to just make my own. 

A few weeks later I discovered Jacy through Maurices blog.  On September 28th I spent the better part of a day and night reading through two years worth of posts.  I read every word of her blog.  I drank it up and wept and suffered along with her.  The next day I sent her an email and a friendship was born. 

At the beginning of October, I had my three friends.  Mac, Wife A, and Jacy.  I already felt less alone and Mac and I started an email correspondence that carried me through the next few months. 

So much has changed since then.  It seems as if each day a new blog is born, a new story told, a new woman reaches out.  I want to say again, that I don't think it is necessary to write a blog to be a part of our virtual support group.  But I am grateful for the women who have done so. 

Each of the women on my sidebar has a different story.  For some of us our husbands are "mild" addicts, relapses occur only every few months.  For others, there has been prison time, infidelity, and much much worse.  For some there was divorce, for some there was profound reconciliation.  Some husbands are active in recovery, some are not. 

We all have different personalities, different writing styles, different opinions and obviously different husbands.  In the near future I would like to write a post with a synopsis of my blogging friends, and some guidelines about navigating the WoPA blog world.  But for now..

We cover the spectrum.  Reach out.   It might suprise you where you might find yourself in six months, in nine months, or a year from now.  You might be flying to another state to finally meet an online friend who has had an irreplacable influence on your life.  You might be the one who people come to for companionship and support.  You might feel much less alone. 

22 May 2012

Pete makes a debut

I received a text last night.  This was all it said:


Pete has mentioned writing a blog once or twice.  Then a couple weeks ago he told me he actually started one but wasn't sure about it's future.   I think he was also a little nervous about sharing it with me.  (Or anyone for that matter.) 

But it was all him.  That's right folks, no co-dependent persuading or pressuring from this girl.

He has only written two posts, but I loved them.  Despite my obvious bias, it just feels good to see him be vulnerable and totally honest. 

I think he is still a little unsure about the whole thing, and if he'll have time to keep it up, but we'll see where it goes...

20 May 2012

People are People

Pete is on the board of a local charity organization. Every other year they host a formal, black-tie gala to raise funds for community service groups. They invite the high rollers from the city, businesses pay $250 a plate for their executives to attend and bid on expensive auction packages. It's big.

Pete sort of awkwardly backed into his position on the executive committee several years ago, and last night was the third event we've attended. But it was a new experience for me. In the past I have felt uncomfortable, out of place and terribly insecure. I lost my identity in a sea of women with plunging necklines, backless dresses and much much older husbands, who were all drinking themselves silly. I talked only to those I was introduced to, and those who sat at our table. It was exciting, but I felt like a timid mouse amongst prowling cheetahs.

But motivated by Mara, who once sat next to the founder of Google at brunch, and Jacy, who is   determined to make friends everywhere, I decided to approach last night's event with new eyes. What I'm about to say are words that a year ago, would have just been more words to me. But a combination of life circumstances and inspiring people have given these words meaning.

People are people. They have stories, feelings, souls. Last night I looked past the cleavage (figuratively) and into their faces, and I talked in an engaging and meaningful way. I made eye contact. I smiled a lot. I focused on beauty instead of fault-finding. And the entire evening passed in a pleasant and enjoyable manner.

I have a brother-in-law who has made the assertion that wealthy/famous people “crap in toilets just like us.”    While this is obviously true, sometimes we combat our feelings of inferiority by belittling others or demeaning them. By noticing their flaws, we think we will feel less inadequate ourselves. But what I think I'm getting a glimpse of is equality. Neither inferiority or superiority. Just plain equality. Not only are wealthy people tolerable, I discovered more often than not, they are friendly, kind and actually interested in "little ol' me."

It sounds so obvious, but these ideas are just beginning to manifest themselves in my behavior.

I can't help but feel that when we can drop all our baggage of insecurities and judgements, it is easy to see how we are all united for a cause.  I'm proud of Pete for being a part of this organization and I'm grateful that I could take part its noble efforts last night.

Before I sign out, I'll just mention the two things I tried to keep in mind last night, (and even today at church.)

1. Own my self-worth. I had to have enough confidence to see myself as an equal, to value my own contributions to conversations and the influence of my mood/vibe on others.

2.  Appreciate everyone's worth. They matter too, the same as I do. They are more than the immediate impressions or stereotypes I am tempted to assign to them.

If you have read A Blog About Love much, you will recognize themes from Mara. I want to be sure to give her due credit for the wisdom and example of her life and stories that have greatly influenced me.  Along with: Mac, who first introduced me to ABAL and is incredibly inclusive, Jacy who has a heart so big and so compassionate I can hardly believe it fits inside her, and Scabs who probably without intending to do so frequently reminds me that love comes first, there will be time for advice later.

**There are others who I admire, who inspire but these are the women I thought of today who have most affected me in this area of my life. 

18 May 2012

Compulsive Behavior: HERS

**PRE-EDIT:  Is there such a thing? Anyway, I wrote this yesterday when I wrote part 1, but it was too long so I saved it to keep you all coming back.  Haha.  But then this morning I read Jacy's awesome post on this subject.  Isn't it funny how blogs trend?  And if you didn't read part 1 of this yesterday, do that first or this one won't make sense. 

So anyway, I knew Pete had issues, I knew his behavior was often driven by a complicated human brain.  But I didn't realize I have my own habits/neuorlogical pathways/compulsive behaviors that trap me in self-destructive and unproductive ways.   Until I read this article and it opened my eyes. (Please read the article, even if it means you don't finish this post, the article will do you more good than my post.) I knew as soon as my brain processed the words she wrote, that they were true, and I was guilty.

I have an iPhone and I compulsively check my email, my google reader,whatever app has a little red bubble on it, or even if it doesn't. When I have a spare minute, I do it. When I am procrastining doing something I should be doing, I do it.   When I'm just being lazy or when my kids are bouncing off the walls I do it. At night before going to sleep I lay in bed and do it, and first thing in the morning when the screen is still blurry from my sleepy eyes, I go through the motions as if I were conditioned to do so.  (Because I am.)

I spend HOURS at my laptop throughout the day, wandering aimlessly through blogs, comments, profiles, and back to the google reader and my email.   Catching up on the forum, reading and commenting in another world.  A little shopping on Amazon or Craigslist.  Perusing and pinning on Pinterest.  Minutes tick away as my life passes me by and REAL relationships suffer.  I slam the laptop shut and walk away, determined to accomplish something, but I'm drawn back to it time and time again. 

Talk about an addiction! Maybe there are no chemicals being produced, no other physiological or hormonal processes taking place, but I undoubtedly have a well-worn path to my beach of internet.

My compulsive behaviors used to include Facebook as well. For different reasons I deactivated my account a few months ago. And while I occasionally miss it because of it's convenience in contacting people, (you know the ones, they never answer their phone but they promptly respond to your FB message?) for the most part I've felt freed from that compulsive behavior. Because there is freedom in abandoning bad habits.

(Disclaimer: I know Facebook is not a bad habit for everyone, but it was for me. Enough said.)

I have other compulsive behaviors (don't get me started on eating/food), but this particular example seemed the best choice for sharing because it was the one used in the article. The problem with compulsive behaviors based on neurological pathways is that, at least for me, I waste precious time indulging in them. I fall short in other much more meaningful areas of my life because I am too distracted.

The solution is the same for me that it is for Pete. It's a matter of making new pathways that lead me on more satisfying and fulfilling journeys. The article talks in particular about scripture study, that when we make a habit of it, and form a worn and convenient pathway for it, we begin to crave it. Exercise is the same way. If you've ever given a diligent and consistent effort to exercise you know what I mean. Your brain starts to desire it and your body longs for it.

So I guess the point I'm making here is that, as with most things, we can make our weak things strong and use our amazing brains to our benefit rather than our detriment. I'm motivated to choose the things I REALLY want for habits and train my brain to work in my favor, rather than against me.

17 May 2012

Compulsive Behavior: HIS

At Pete's first therapy appointment his counselor told him that he preferred the term "compulsive behavior" over addiction.  While I think it is critical to recognize the addictive elements of pornography,  lust, etc, I decided I like this term better too.  Mostly because addiction can become a crutch, or an excuse.

"I can't help it.  I'm addicted."

But compulsive behavior has less defeatist connotations.  Behaviors can change when people change, and compulsions can be overcome.  So can addiction, and I think they are very similar, and I also have thought about my own compulsive behaviors. 

[What I write here is my interpretation and practical application of science, but not the science intself.  You can probably spend an entire day reading the science of addiction and compulsive behaviors, but I'll try to explain it in Jane terms. ]

I love an analogy Pete's counselor used. We know that part of addiction and compulsive behaviors is related to neurological pathways in the brain.  More on that later, but the counselor told Pete that the pathways in his brain are like a pathway from your house to the beach.  You've walked it so many times, it's natural and almost thoughtless to walk it.  The grass and brush are trampled and your way is unobstructed.  But suppose you decide it is in your best interest to take another pathway, and you have to form that new pathway.  You have to put forth a great deal of effort to overcome the obstacles in your new path, and the lazy and frustrated part of you wants so badly to go back to your former, easier way.  In fact, sometimes without even meaning to, you find yourself walking down that comfortable path to the beach out of habit. 

It's obvious how this applies to Pete.  He has to form new habits, he has to deliberately behave differently when he is on the computer or watching a movie.  He simply can't be passive because the old habits will take over and before he knows it he will be in the same trap he has been in before.  Life will never be the same for him, but that's okay.  There is much to be enjoyed about the new pathways.  New scenery, new relationships discovered on his new path to the beach.

What wasn't so obvious to me was how this conept related to ME.  And that is for tomorrow...

15 May 2012

Step 4: Part I

I have a feeling this is going to be one of multiple posts about Step 4, considering I haven't completed it yet and I already have things to say.  But I wanted to get these thoughts out to make room for new ones.  (Mostly kidding, but doesn't it seem that way at times? As if our brains have finite space?)

If you aren't familiar with the 12-Step program Step 4 involves taking a personal inventory.  I recommend this for EVERYONE.  It is where we make a "searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."  It is the most profound journey of self-discovery I've ever experienced.  You'll notice the word "fearless" because it can be scary to review your past and acknowledge your faults.  But I think that Step 4 is just a practical approach to the scripture in Ether 12:27 where God invites us to come unto him and he will show us our weakness.

If we invite our Father in Heaven and our Savior along for this journey of self-discovery, our own mortal minds can grow and expand through their loving guidance. 

Anyway, here are my thoughts on Step 4: (Tonight anyway.)

1.  Step 4 has totally made me rethink my parenting.  Part of Step 4 is trying to understand the way your past has influenced you.  For me this has included the way my parents taught me, the way I felt about them and my siblings, the way those feelings motivated behaviors.  (Sounds complicated huh?)  Now I catch myself as I discipline my son or ignore my little girls' pleas for my attention, I wonder, "What lasting influence is this having?"  I know it sounds a little paranoid, but I truly feel like it is a blessing to help me keep perspective.  I think twice about the purposes of punishments, are they meant to shame and, well, PUNISH? Motivated by frustration and anger?  Or am I trying in ALL things I do to help my child feel his worth and know of my love, while still allowing him to experience consequences?  This is turning into a post about parenting so I'll move on to #2.

2.  One of my all-time favorite quotes is this one by C.S. Lewis.  I first heard it before my most difficult days, but recently it resurfaced and I thought it was especially meaningful in the light of personal discovery with the assistance of God.

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

At times both Pete and I have felt true anguish and pain regarding our character flaws.  It can be so difficult to be honest with yourself about your shortcomings.  I've felt moments where I am not surprised with my discoveries

"Yes, I knew I needed to improve in that area." And then there are moments where I want to cry out
"Okay! Enough!" 

But isn't what Lewis says the truth? We all desire to have the Savior dwell within us?

3.  For both Pete and I, Step 4 has opened the door for total vulnerability.  We have admitted things to each other that we were too ashamed to admit before.  It has given us a chance to share deep fears and inadequacies that we carefully protected up to this point.  My love for him has increased 10-fold as I have watched him be "knocked about" through his self-discovery. And I feel honored to learn about him as if I were looking through a prism, and light was shining in many different colorful directions. 

I encourage anyone to begin their own journey of self-discovery, through whichever medium you feel best suits you.  Whether or not addiction is a direct part of your life.

13 May 2012

Judging the Judgers

Elder Busche says "Never judge anyone" and President Uchtdorf says "Stop it."  President Monson (all-time favorite talk ever) also tells just not to judge and if those men don't mean anything to you, even the bibles teaches us

I've always struggled with this.  Before Pete's addiction came to light, or even during the first few years I self-righteously judged all the time.  I come from a family of harsh judgers, ever criticizing others.  In a conversation with my family you will hear many subtle justifications for their elitist attitudes, but ultimately they just judge. I did too.  Let's be honest, I still do. 

So when I hear the counsel of wise men warning me not to judge I initially think of the unfair labels, accusations and assumptions I place against people.  I think of the ways I point out their flaws and criticize their behavior and choices.  I'm talking about people who are making "obvious mistakes" or who aren't living up to my ideals.

Then my own world changed, I desperately long to NOT be judged and to find acceptance from others.  Not only that but I learned that everyone has secrets, and suffers quietly behind the scenes.  I had an increase of love for others as I recognized my own need for love. 

But recently I discovered that I still judge, I just judge differently.  I judge the judgers.  I blame and criticize the self-righteous.  At first it was obvious to me in other people.  A friend was frustrated that her sisters were so judgemental of her.  I could recall being judgemental, and so I was a little defensive of the sisters.  And then it occurred to me that she was being as hard on her sisters as they were being on her.

Why do we feel so badly when people judge us?

- We feel that their expectations of us are unreasonable.
- We long to be loved and accepted not on condition of our behavior.
- They don't know the whole story, but they think they do.

And yet, when we accuse those around us of being judgemental we are doing the same thing.  We are withholding our love because of their behavior.  We are having an expectation of them to be something they are not.  And even though it may seem we know THEIR whole story, of course we do not.  When we resent people for not being loving and kind toward us, we are no better than they are.

I'm not trying to come down on the suffering here, and place blame.  There is a point to my soapbox. 

Elder Busche says "Never judge anyone.  When you accept this you will be free."

How does it make us free?  Because I've discovered true beauty in love.  Love for the suffering AND the self-righteous.  I've learned that once I free myself of criticizing thoughts about others, I am no longer paranoid about other people having critical thoughts about me.

I'm not sure how that works exactly, but I AM sure it does. 

11 May 2012

Check HER OUT!

If you haven't already discovered April's blog, you MUST go there today and read this post

Okay, that's a little co-dependent of me.  No more making demands.

I would like to INVITE you to read this post by April, because I think it is the turning point that can set you free.  And when you are feeling burdened by your husband's load, or frustrated with his behavior or lack of behavior, or when he is hurting you, or when you need strength, or when you feel like begging, groveling, or manipulating, READ IT AGAIN.  And again.  Print it off and keep it in your pocket.  (I've done that before with inspiring words.) 

And while you're there, read this one, if you haven't already.  If you doubt that the Savior can heal you or your husband (but especially YOU), think again.   It could possibly be my favorite WoPA post ever. 

Have a good weekend!

09 May 2012

Refiners Fire

**Just a note, while I appreciate the well-wishes about our weekend away I want to say a couple things. 

1.  We had a good time, but our weekend wasn't without it's frustrating moments.  Ladies, taking sex out of a relationship doesn't take away the problems.  And as lovely as it sounds to have a romantic getaway without sex, for most of us there are so many complicated under-lying issues that while it was much needed it wasn't perfect.  To be honest, it was an opportunity to peel away some more layers of hurt and disappointment.  It all turned out well, and we both learned a lot, but the grass isn't always greener on the other side, eh?

2. The human part of each of us probably gets some satisfaction in hearing that someone else is jealous of us.  But a little humility and a good taste of reality have taught me that none of us have it all.  I will once again defer to someone else's wisdom.  This time it is Mara, and I loved this post she wrote because I am so guilty of falling into that trap.  She says this: "Coveting and envy is the energy of ignoring whatever it is that you have."   Once again, the grass is greener ... blah blah blah. 

Okay, having put that business behind me, I'll write what I really want to write about. 

On our way home, Pete and I were speculating about the types of relationships other couples have.  Do they have deep resentments and disappointments about their marriage?  Do they discuss them? Do they know how to fix them? 

I've been thinking a lot about this as I do my 4th Step inventory.  Obviously many people are blessed with guidance, wisdom and seek learning without having to go through the 12-step program.  But there are also many people out there who are unhappy and don't know how to change it, who are living with addicts and don't know where to turn or how to heal.  And I'm not just talking about addiction, but other trials as well. 

I know many of us have already made the point that it is easy to blame all our troubles on the addiction.  But truthfully, Pete and I had issues with intimacy and other things before the addiction even became established, in fact some of his resentments were the root of his bad choices.   And yet, until this addiction made our lives unmanagable we did little or nothing to address our unhappiness.  We probably thought we were trying, but not with the desperation that motivates us now. 

So I'm left to believe, that for us, and many other couples, without coming to terms with this addiction we would have continued on in a mediocre marriage.  And to me this is the meaning behind the phrase "you can't know the sweet until you've tasted the bitter."  Isn't it true then? That we can find gratitude for our trials, because before them we lacked the desire and/or capability to TRULY find meaning and joy in life?  

I know this isn't true for everyone.  Some choice individuals are blessed to have good priorities, daily gratitude, and endless charity without suffering.  But I know, without a doubt, I am not one of those choice individuals.  

What do you think?

07 May 2012


I feel like the more I learn in this journey the more complicated things become.  I never knew fears were so complicated, I never knew addiction was so complicated, I never knew sex was so complicated.  If you feel like these things aren't complicated, do your Step 4 inventory. 


But I've also learned that trust is complicated.  It runs deep.  Lack of trust is hidden and manifested in otherwise dusty corners of my heart. 

I couldn't begin to address the many facets of trust here.  I will defer to an amazing post by Jacy on the subject, and then I  will share what has been on my mind. 

My mistrust isn't about years of lies.  There have been periods of quasi-honesty, but not on the large scale.  My mistrust came from years of obligatory sex.  It was desperate love-making on my part, intented to curb my husband's sexual apetite and prevent him from looking to pornography.  After these guilt-driven sexual encounters I would feel angry, ill or just sad. 

As a side note- I have learned that sex outside of marriage, in the form of self-gratification or infidelity, is a different ball-game than sex in marriage.  Unfortunately pornography and lust blur these lines, but I think ultimately every addict will admit that the satisfaction of emotional consummation is altogether different than simple carnal ejaculation.  My point is that because they are inherently different, the one will never satisfy the addicts desire for the other. 

So I began to resent sex, I felt objectified and used because I allowed myself to be.  Then I began to resent affection.  I felt any affection he offered was just a means to an end.  Any hug, kiss, flirting automatically triggered a nervous anxiety that he was aroused and I needed to intervene before he looked elsewhere.  The bottom line, I hated it when he touched me because I felt like he was manipulating me into sex.  I didn't trust his intentions. 

Once I started seeing a counselor I explained that my biggest issues involved intimacy.  I told her how I would turn ice cold when he kissed my neck.  When he would roll over in bed, or pull me close to him I would become rigid and I would immediately construct an emotional fortress.  She gave me the following advice, and I think it represents the foundation of rebuilding trust. [I could say a lot more about this regarding intimacy, but this post is about trust.]

Twice a week we designate as sex-free nights.  It's off the table.  BUT that doesn't mean he does his thing and I do mine.  It means we are affectionate, we hold hands and cuddle but it's not "going anywhere."  This has worked well for us.  Quality time that meets my emotional needs, but gives me a "safe" environment to be affectionate.   Only once has Pete pushed the limits, and pursued intercourse on a day he wasn't "supposed" to.   It was a set-back for sure but I think it was an important lesson for him about how quickly he could destroy his efforts to make me vulnerable to him again.

Rebuilding trust comes down to Pete saying he is going to do something [or not do something] and then he does it.  [Or doesn't do it.]  Each small task/event/behavior that lives up to his word is an example to me that he cares, he is invested, he is making an effort. 

The specific pattern we chose is just one small example that suited our needs to repair the broken pieces of our life together.  Pornography, addiction and lies are a big deal and are going to take much more time and effort than just this one small example.  But it's a step, and so long as Pete can be patient with me as I recover, I can slowly come to feel the love behind his kisses, and find meaning in love-making once more. 

No doubt, it is scary to let my fortress down.  I mentioned the other day that learning to trust God is like learning to trust our addicts again.  But there is a critical difference.  When we trust God we are liberated, he is PERFECT.  We can trust him immediately, today, right now.  But our addicts, love them like we do, are not perfect.  We don't have to trust immediately, today, or right now.

 And that's okay.

04 May 2012

Fulness of Joy

This quote could quite possibly be my favorite quote from the 12-step manual. So far anyway.  It is Enzio Busche who is fast becoming a personal hero to me.  (See here and here.) It is found in Appendix 1. 

"Many who have not come to a state of spiritual awakening, may, in fact believe that circumstances are the deciding factor in happiness...We alone decide where it is that we stand on the continuum between total frustration and complete fullness of joy."

I've been on the end of total frustration, I'm sure anyone reading here has been.  And I'm also sure I've felt a complete fullness of joy. 

But most of the time, I'm somewhere between, sometimes feeling oh so close to the fulness of joy, as if it is just out of reach.  There are a few things that close the gap for me; a loving moment with one of my children, a tender mercy that reminds me of God's love,  total exhausting laughter with friends

and this song. 

I'm not sure why, but in the right circumstances it fills me peace, hope and joy.  Maybe it is because it reminds me that as a child I felt joy, and I have dreams of more joy to come.  Or maybe it is that I long to live a life that I can look back on with contentment and gratitude.  I dunno.  But I love it. 

(This isn't my favorite arrangement of the song, but it was what I could find.  I've been sharing lots of songs lately, I guess music is just sometimes the thing that makes life better. Does anyone actually watch/listen?)

Have a good weekend.  Pete recently decided that he might benefit from a 30- day sexual abstinence.  We had already booked a cabin in the woods for a romantic getaway so we are going forth with our plans.  Ever heard of a romantic getaway with no sex?  You have now.  On the blog of a WoPA. 

Feeling love for you all today!


02 May 2012

Step 3: Trust in God

Step 3 is also called "the decision step."  And I wish I could say that once I made the decision to trust in God there was no going back, my course was set, and I would feel indefinite peace.

Unfortunately it hasn't worked that way.  I keep turning it over to God, and then frantically taking it back.   I am one of those people who painfully watches my children try to accomplish something before snatching it out of their hands and taking control to be sure that it is done correctly.  The right way.  My way. 

But of course, I'm not the only one who has felt this way, so the manual addresses it.

"We are not able to suddenly make this decision and then be unwavering about it.  ' At first our efforts were anxious and halting.  We kept giving the Lord our trust and then taking it back.'"

I'm slowly learning that part of turning my will toward the Savior is turning over my reactions, my fears, my frustrations. 

I can not stop those feelings from coming, to do so would be to make me unhuman

But I can cope with them.  Elder Richard G. Scott

"Heavenly Father does not want us to minimize our reactions to life.  He asks that we accept what He gives us and then take to Him our feelings and the truth about our lives." 

Trusting in God doesn't mean that we believe he will remove our trials or change our circumstances.  It means that we trust that in spite of them, we can feel peace and joy.   When feelings of fear overcome us, we can turn to him, and let them go, believing that even if our worst case scenario plays out, he will bring us peace and we will be blessed in spite of it. 

"When we learn to place our complete trust in God's will, we will not necessarily have fewer trials, but we will always receive and endowment of spiritual strength, comfort and guidance to help us."

A friend shared with me a symbolic behavior she began to represent her new attitude of "Let go, let God."  With particular regard to trying to control others, or being fearful of their choices, or letting their behavior deprive her of serenity she instituted the God box.  (I'm pretty sure this idea was passed along to her from past family members of addicts.)  The God box is a box tightly wrapped and sealed with a hole in the top.  I have yet to actually create such a box, but I practice this mentally on a regular basis.  When someone else does something that intrudes on my happiness, I write their name on a piece of paper and deposit it in the box.  It is how I turn the troubles of others over to the Lord, and quit allowing them to destroy my peace.  Some members of my family, and a few others around me have been repeatedly symbolically placed, by me, in his care. 

For me, trust in God means saying to him "Okay. Help me know what to do, and give me the strength to endure.  And I will nurture my faith so that I can confidently pray with real intent to do as thou would have me do."

I can testify that the blessing of faith and trust in God is that his strength will come as promised.  Trust is a big deal for us, wives of porn addicts, isn't it?  How do we build trust with our addict? When they do what they say they are going to do.  So it goes with God.

"Your peace of mind, your ultimate joy, depend upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ."  -Richard G. Scott