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.


  1. Beautiful Post! I have been thinking on this for weeks. I feel stuck on 1-3 right now and I am afraid to jump into 4-8.

    I love what you said...

    "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."

    We all have character weaknesses that we need to change in our lives. I know I need to work on forgiveness for sure and I am becoming more aware of my weaknesses every day.

    Yesterday I blogged about Self-Imposed Isolation for step 2. I learned that for 12 years I have isolated myself, not wanting to connect with anyone outside my family. It's been really lonely, but now I know that it's because of my husband's addiction that I isolated myself. All those years without the steps or a support group and the only thing I could do to feel safe was become a hermit. It was depressimg, I blamed myself for his addiction, and tried to fix it. Sad that it has taken me years to figure out that I can't fix him, he has to fix himself. I am not perfect, not that I ever really thought I was, but as the faithful spouse I wondered why I would need to change anything.

    Oh how I wished I had the steps in the beginning, but now I see that maybe I needed them now. God has his timetable and I feel that with all of my children in school I can actually focus on my recovery. It's been an eye opening experience for me.

    As I write this I am realizing that I am not done with steps 1-3. I still need to learn and grow from them. I need to allow them to change me and prepare me for steps 4-8.

    Thanks for your thoughts and I look forward to reading more about your journey:)

  2. Jane my question is, when do you find the time to do all this with four kids? By the time my kids are in bed, I want to numb. I do nothing (aka surf the internet) because it's easier. I can't make myself get to these hard things because I don't want to feel them I suppose. I know I could make time for it but my excuse is that I'm too busy with my kids. Lame, I know. But how do you overcome that desire to numb the feelings? I'm fairly stuck.

    1. FJ- I've missed you around these blog parts.

      I guess as with most things we make time for whatever is most important to us. And I don't say that like I think "this" SHOULD be most important to me. I suppose there are times when my children are neglected and I'm SURE my housework is neglected. And I have long since given up t.v.
      I have just felt an sense of urgency lately.

      There are definitely periods of time where it's easier for me to ignore the hard feelings. And I'm actually okay with that. And I have total confidence that you are going to figure out balance in your life too. And did I mention that I love ya?

  3. Jane- thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words. I appreciate your honesty and input about the 12 step program. You've given me much to ponder on. I agree with you that step 4-8 is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think im just not comfortable with how it is framed. I absolutely support exploring and self examining strengths/weaknesses. I just don't like this one size shoe fits all approach with the 12 step. I feel I am being lumped into the same category as the addicted. I don't mean for that to sound prideful but my recovery is different than my spouse. I need some distance from his program, not plugged into the same one. His healing path looks different than mine. I have noticed over the last few years that the language and presentation of the "healing through Christ" program for the spouses of the addicted one has been going through changes. The language in it is kinder, with an increased level of understanding. I hope it continues to evolve. I think that women have a lot to sort through after they discover the addiction. My hope is that this program will become more tailored to women's needs. Thanks again for taking the time and sharing.

    1. Anon- YES, the Healing Through Christ manual is much gentler than the manual for the addicts, for all the reasons I think you mentioned. Our paths are different, women are trying to sort through a lot and they need kindness and understanding. Unfortunately that manual is having copyright issues so at group meetings we are using the manual the addicts use, and while I find it to be abrasive at times, I also find truth in its pages.

      Thank YOU for taking the time to read and comment.

  4. I've read your comment and this post too Anon. Although, I can relate to feeling like I wasn't the one with the problem, truth is I had lots of problems I needed to take care of. Step 4 gave me the courage to make my life right.

    From your comments you seem like a strong, healthy spiritual woman. Who already practices the 12-steps in you life----probably something you have always done. You have lived the gospel. And step 4 is something you do naturally. I'm not suggesting that you're perfect (are you? haha! just kidding) just suggesting that you already live that Christ-centered life. Like you said, the Sacrament is your moral inventory. I once heard the 12-steps being described jokingly as the "Gospel for Dummies". It's broken down into tiny bits.

    I think if i were your sponsor or in any position to give you advice on this topic, I'd say, "The 12-step model can be fluid. Take what resonates with you, skip over the parts that don't. Make it YOURS. It's not rigid and there is no pass/fail way to do it. If 12-step helps you, great. If it doesn't, that's fine too. I don't think everyone needs it the way that it is written.

    I needed it like air to breathe when I first discovery my husband dual life. I needed what those words were trying to teach me, I needed the Spirit there, I needed the friends and support.

    But, maybe you don't need it. YOu're capable of making your own spiritual decisions. Feeling the spirit. Finding healing and support from Christ. That is amazing and so commendable.

    They way our husbands need the 12-step is TOTALLY different from the kind of support we need.

    p.s did you ever get a boot-leg copy of the new "finding healing" manual the gave out last spring to the women and then had to take back for copyright reasons (or something like that) I might have an email copy if you want to see it.

  5. I am working on Step 4. I have been on it awhile and honestly Using the traditional manual, I struggled. I have a copy of the Healing Through Christ Manual, as we were given them in the beginning. We no longer use it in our group though because Salt Lake has asked that it not be used as it hasnt been copyrighted, and they are having issues copyrighting it because some of the supporters of it have withdrawn their support. I did (and do) still pull it out and read from it though. Without that one I dont think I could have started my inventory. It is worded so much better. I do feel an inventory is necessary for recovery. Yes we are not addicts, but we still aren't perfect. Most of us have contributed to the addiction cycle by being in the codependant cycle. Because of my anger towards my husband and his addiction I have done things wrong and committed sins. Not as great as my husbands sins, but they are there, and they are sins, hatred, judging, contention, mean awful words said to people. All those can be released through an inventory.

    Our group here is small, really small and it just started several months ago. I often am the only one there. I have no guide to help me create an inventory, and no one to share it with in Step 5. I do not know how I will complete step 5. I can not go to my Bishop, sadly I can't. I am in search of someone because I want to complete my inventory and I want to share it. I thought about just sharing it with my Heavenly Father, but it states time and time again an integeral part is sharing it with someone who has been there done that, or who understands. Hopefully I can fins someone to help.