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.