01 June 2012

MY recovery = MY happiness

I'm glad that my little anecdote elicited compassion and sympathy. It's actually not what I was going for, but hey, I'll take it.  What I wanted to say is something I hesitate to say because I don't want women to change for the wrong reasons.  Scabs did a great job of explaining why detaching is so important for the woman.  But detaching is also so helpful for the man, or at least it has been for Pete and a few other specific examples I'm aware of.  If it were me, what would be the ideal environment for recovery? One of detached support, love and encouragement.  Or in the case of the example I used, it would look like this.

Pete saying to me: 

"I love you skinny or fat.  It is hard for me to see you be this way, and it is hurting our family.  I know you can change.  I will be here as your cheerleader along the way, but I will not be your personal trainer.  I will not make it my responsibility to monitor your behavior.  But I will congratulate you when you do well.  I will be disappointed when you fail, but I will not get [too] angry.  I will hug you and even though I don't trust your choices because you haven't made good ones in the past, they are yours to own.  You will have to live with the consequences of them, and it might hurt me to watch you, but I believe in you.  I have hope for you, and I will demonstrate that hope in the way I treat you." 

If I could tell all bishops one thing, I would say


Bishops can make the worst codependents, don't you think?  A women told me about how her bishop met with her and her husband and berated him for his actions.  It was incredibly uncomfortable for both of them during the appointment.  I don't mean to disrespect bishops, they are working with limited resources and I am sure they get frustrated too.  And it's often so infuriating that for a moment we think that kind of shame and anger will be productive and effective. [Who knows, maybe he was inspired and it was exactly what this man needed to turn around.]  But usually it's not, right? Consdering the example yesterday, I would have felt so worthless and unmotivated if someone tried to shame me into weight loss.  

But anyway- focus on the wife.  The guy knows where to get help.  We can come back to him.  But for now, lets focus on the wife.

When I was finally able to realize that I did not cause Pete's addiction, I can NOT control his behavior, and I that I can live in peace and happiness in spite of my circumstances, I felt free again. I found me again.  I became a better mother again.  I became a better wife than ever before.  

And the bonus? I know I've mentioned this before, but once I gave Pete the healthy emotional space to recover, he relaxed and moved forward in recovery.  For some, there may be a dark and scary rough patch in the meantime.  It's possible that once I left Pete to his own merits,  he would have crashed and burned.  He might have felt betrayed by me, and used it as justification for more bad choices.  He might have said stinging, hurtful things to try and draw me back into his self-destruction. 

But I knew that risk, I still know that risk.  And if he had, or ever does, I can make the appropriate choices with peace in my heart, knowing that I am healing, I have my own recovery, and I am going to be okay.

A wise woman recently pointed out to me, that even if Pete, or any other addict, quit cold turkey, our marriage wouldn't be safe until I found recovery.  Even if he never looked at porn again, I could live in bitterness and resentment in a mediocre relationship.   Even if I chose divorce, I might have still felt broken and destroyed.  It's MY recovery that will bring me happiness, not his.  And I really feel that he is statistically more likely to take responsibility for his recovery when I take responsibility for mine.  

Have I sufficiently beat this dead horse? Or do I need to bring it up again in the near future?


  1. This has become my Bishop's new goal -- to focus on the wives, to make sure they're healing and getting what they need, to direct them to the meetings. (He's been good about this for awhile, but he's like redoubling his efforts).
    I like what you said about becoming a better wife than ever before -- I feel that way too. I don't know what else happening in my life would've caused me to look so deeply, honestly and humbly at myself to improve how I treat my husband quite like this trial has!

  2. Have I sufficiently beat this dead horse? Or do I need to bring it up again in the near future?

    Interesting questions. I have found that even if I consciously decide I am done beating the dead horse, I am ready to really work on our relationship and try to make things the best they can, the dead horse gallops up from behind and surprises me. How many triggers can there be out there? A newspaper article, a picture, a thought, a smell, a scene in a movie, a reminder of a moment of past trauma sneaks up and surprises you with a dose of emotion. Completely overwhelmed, and usually including unexpected crying, it is hard work to put it back aside and decide you don't want to suffer from the post traumatic stress today. Each trigger is a new journey to crawl out of the emotional pit of pain. How long do the triggers last? Maybe they never totally go away but just get farther and farther apart and a little less intense as we learn to cope better and forgive more. Why can't I put all this away? He's been clean for a few months. He thinks he will never use again. He says there are no temptations. How many times has this happened and then the cycle begins again? Will the worry about when the next bomb will drop ever release its hold?

  3. Jane, you are a wise woman. I love this. I am so grateful that you share your wisdom here.

    I'm reminded of a the painting "Gently Up the Stream" -- which became a visual representation that one couple used for their journey, to help them each remember that their recovery was their own.

  4. Keep beating that dead horse. We need to hear it over and over. "I felt free again." Amen, sister. I feel so free today. It's awesome.

  5. As always, great post Jane. I love the message recovery for me. I need to hear it often because it's so easy to equate my recovery with his sobriety, so thank you.
    On Bishops...
    We've had three Bishops along this journey and it's been interesting to see how each of them has handled the addiction.
    #1 said something to this effect, "Addiction? Really? I don't know what to do with that. But you haven't crossed any "real" lines right? Ok, let me know if that happens." Simple as that. One interview and the rest was left to us.
    #2 was waaaay more severe and waaaay more involved. He wanted weekly meetings and gave very detailed "action plans" that G needed to work on and report. As you said, totally co-dep. (Hopefully my temple rec didn't just evaporate for saying that.)
    #3 our current Bishop has so been soooo wonderful. He meets as often as G would like (which is monthly) has been so great with me and simply listens. He listens, asks questions, and is stingy with advice but free with love and support. I'm so grateful for him!
    On quitting cold turkey, I have a dear friend whose husband really did quit cold turkey. Two years later she still struggles a lot. It's proof to me that simply taking away the addiction, doesn't heal the wounds.