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.