20 February 2013

I am enough.

"I am imperfect. I am wired for struggle. I am worthy of love and belonging."

We walked into the gymastics complex and my energetic daughter bolted for her class. I walked past my usual place on the chairs, separated from the group of moms who had been coming much longer and seemed to know each other well. I was usually content alone, content to watch my daughter or read blogs on my phone. But deep down I knew the reason I was avoiding the mom group was shame. Or at least, shame as Brene Brown defines it; "the fear of disconnection."

What if they reject me? What if we have nothing in common? It is much safer over here alone.

If I waited until I was the person I wanted these women to think I was, before I tried to initiate a friendship, I would wait forever. So I took a seat next to the mom-group in an effort to take a risk and include myself.

For an hour I tried to make eye contact and laugh at the jokes. For an hour I was [for all intents and purposes] ignored. I don't think these women are snobs. I don't think they were deliberately excluding me.

The result of my experiment? I felt humiliated. I did not feel loved or worthy. My gut reaction was to swear them off, go back to my little corner, build a giant wall to protect myself from any further rejection. But what would that accomplish? Wouldn't it just validate my feelings of inadequacy? Wouldn't it just say "You are right. You are not worthy. You belong over there. Alone." Even though my actions are guided by these defeating thoughts, I don't really believe them. I am imperfect, yes. But I am worthy of connection.

I decided to take another shot. I hadn't actually met my daughter's new coach yet. She is young and beautiful and I hadn't introduced myself because I always assume people think the worst of me, and by default my children.

I am being annoying. She is annoyed that my three year old doesn't understand how to stand in line. She doesn't care about knowing me.

After the class was over I waited for her by the gate. I introduced myself and her face lit up.

"I love your little girl! She has so much enthusiasm. I just love her so much!"

What better reward could a mother ask for than such expressions of adoration about her child? And a connection. I am worthy.

Vulnerability is risky. It is so risky. I thought I got it. A few weeks ago after watching Brene's Ted Talk a couple times, I thought I had it down. I hadn't perfected it, but I felt like I was living authentically, willing to be really seen. Then when a good friend said "love you" on the phone and I couldn't say it back, I knew I was way off the mark.

Vulnerability means

"do[ing] something where there are no guarantees... [being] willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out...

I personally thought it was betrayal. I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research, where our job --you know, the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena, for the explicit reason to control and predict. And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting."

(Emphasis added.)

It is terrifying. It means that there are unquestionably going to be disappointments, heartbreak, and betrayal. It is counterintuitive. Maybe because we are built for survival, we are built for emotional survival. Protect, protect, protect.

I know I walk around in shame and fear. I automatically assume that unless otherwise told, people are entirely focused on my flaws, and I am ashamed of my flaws. It is much easier to be unseen, to pretend I'm the person I want people to think I am.

Sometimes the reward for courage is disappointment. But sometimes the reward for courage is to really feel, to connect, to be loved and have my worth validated. The real courage and authenticity comes when I let go of trying to predict the results of my vulnerability. I let go of my anxious method of trying to selectively choose the situations where I can guarantee a positive response.

One last quote from Brene (emphasis added)

"To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee --and that's really hard...to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror... just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen,to say, "I'm just so grateful,because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive."
And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place..that says, "I'm enough," then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves."

19 February 2013


Yikes ladies- thanks for the comments- I actually did not mean to post that. 

It was just a mess of thoughts. 

But I appreciate you giving me more to think about- and hopefully it'll come back in a more digestable form.

14 February 2013

Dear Me

For delivery 8 May 2011 (Mother's Day)

Dear Me-

What an ironic way to celebrate the holiday.  I know last night was possibly the worst in your memory.  I know how hard it was for you to hold your newborn baby in an easy chair in the basement of your grandparent's house.  All night.

Now, with puffy red eyes, and the single Mother's day card you received from you six year old, it's a new beginning.  It is time to face the problem that has been escalating for years. Denial is over.  Reality is here.  It's time to sort it all out.  Take a deep breath.  Lean into the struggle.

For a few months you will try to carry his bag of bricks that has been handed to you. Until you know better, you can't do better.  But then you will learn, and you will pass the bag of bricks on to a Higher Power.  And you will be free to heal.

I know you will turn into a sponge.  I know you will read and read and read. And study and learn and your understanding will grow and your ideas will jumble and resolve, confuse and then clarify.

Because of the way you were raised, because of your hyper-sensitive conscience, and your propensity for guilt, the shame will be overwhelming.  Feel it.  Let it open your eyes and tear down your walls of naivete.  The new world that opens up will fill your heart with empathy and compassion.  Humanity will be different to you.  You have an opportunity to finally discover who YOU are, and let go of everything you've been trying to prove to the world that you were.  You will take the opportunity, and you will be empowered and liberated.

There will be friends. Amazing friends.  They will carry you, they will answer your sobbing, incoherent phone calls.  They will love you and teach you how to love in a new way, you've never known.  Don't be afraid, don't feel inadequate. Their love is unconditional.

It will take work.  You will spend time and emotional energy learning how to cope.  You will have to face your pride and own your vices.  You will make discoveries about Pete, about marriage, about YOU that will feel complicated and hopeless.  Then you will make discoveries that will immerse you in hope.

But it WILL be okay.  If you can't believe anyone else, believe me.  Because I am you.  A new you.  A redeemed and reformed you.  It's not over for me either.  Maybe in a few years I'll write another letter to the "me" that writes this.

In the meantime, buy Apple stock.  And don't buy Facebook stock.

Love you dearly,

P.S. Read Scabs's letter here

11 February 2013


Amazing Art Credit
I've had boundary thoughts floating around in my brain for weeks now.  But I haven't been able to form a coherent thought process.  Marlee wrote a post about detaching and I felt like finally in my comment on her post I was able to spit something out.  So I'll give a little backround, and then paste the comment below.  It's nothing eloquent, but you get what you pay for around here. 
At the first of the year Pete was on shaky ground. I was a little bit in the dark about exactly how shaky, but I knew I felt uneasy and disconnected from him emotionally.  Up to this point, we had been trying a method for nurturing our sexual relationship which included sex two predetermined nights a week.  On Sunday night, we each chose a night.  This had been working for awhile, but when addiction started creeping back in I began to feel confused about our intimacy.  I thought about it for several days, and one morning after a long and heartfelt prayer I scribbled the following words on a piece of paper. 
"I want a sexual relationship free of lust driven addiction.  It may never be perfect, but it can at least be free of porn.  I want a sexual relationship free of pornography. "
That was good enough, but I am not a woman of few words so I scrawled a bit more.
"This "2x/week sex nights" is meant to help us establish a healthy sexual relationship, but we can't do that on a faulty foundation.  I need to feel safe.  I need to be confident sexually, to be sure I am not just being your drug, giving you your fix.  We can't use sex to make things better.  Things have to be better first."
I didn't give Pete the paper, but I told him in as many words and he responded well. 
That's the background. Here is my comment on Marlee's post.
I can totally relate to this, except with the roles reversed. For so long, Pete told me his feelings in a way that I felt guilted and manipulated. So then he quit telling me his feelings altogether. But I didn't like that either. I've learned that it is really important for him to share his feelings (ideally in a non-manipulative, but honest and sincere way.) And the way I detach is by hearing his feelings without making it personal to me, or letting it influence me or make me feel guilty.

So we are currently in a period of sexual abstinence and the other night Pete said to me "This is really hard for me." He said more, but you get the point. He said it without any intention of trying to get me to change my mind, or feel badly about what I'd initiated, or apologize or pander. He just said it. And MIRACULOUSLY I was able to listen without doing any of those things. I didn't get defensive, I didn't argue my position, I just heard him. And even understood with a little dose of compassion. "I'm sure it IS hard. Thanks for being patient."

I know that we are both still missing the mark sometimes, but it was definitely a milestone for us.

06 February 2013

Resources for All

When I started writing this blog I knew very little about pornography addiction.

I didn't know that it was so widespread.

I didn't know how other religions viewed pornography.

I didn't know that many people would try to convince me that if I changed my attitude about it, and Pete embraced pornography rather than shunned it, all our problems would be solved.

I didn't even know for sure why I felt the way I did about porngraphy.

So when I started writing, I started with what I did know. I am a member of the LDS church, its teachings influence my life a great deal.  I can't help but write with that underlying foundation.  But my eyes have been opened, and I see that this isn't just a "Mormon problem."

I'm grateful to the women of other faiths who have reached out to me, and lately I've received more emails from non-LDS WoPA than otherwise.  So I just want to post a few resources here to validate ALL women who feel confused about what pornography addiction means.

My friends who have used Recovery Nation give it great praise. I'd like to spend more time in that program myself.


I came across this blog post this morning and thought it was a great Christian approach, with a concise summary of suggestions post D-Day.

Fight the New Drug is a great website, but particularly this infogram.

And lastly, I've mentioned this website.  It is no longer directly affiliated with the LDS church, but it was written by LDS family members of addicts.  The downloadable manual/workbook is the most comprehensive material I've found, but to disclose my bias it is the one I use the most and I am therefore the most familiar with.

Please share if you have found other helpful websites or programs.  My heart is full of love for everyone who has tasted of this bitter cup.  Don't hesitate to reach out.  The friends I've made from this blog are my greatest blessing in this trial. 

04 February 2013

Jane attempts a book review

Order Online at salifeline.org
We are into February now and I'm failing and nearly all my New Year's resolutions. Sigh.  Except I DID give up sugar for a month and I DID read two books in January.  The first was Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen and I loved every page of it.  Since I'm so successful at resolutions, I've resolved to be more like the ever-humble Fanny Price. 
The second book arrived in my mailbox with just enough time to finish it in February.  It was this book, by Rhyll Croshaw
Now for an embarrassing confession.  Up to this point I've never read a book about recovery.  I hope Rhyll and any other authors [who will probably never read this] can forgive give me, but I'm always a bit cynical when people turn their tragedy into a royalty-earning paperback. 
Ouch. I know that was awful.
But I genuinely believe that Rhyll means to help, and not to financially gain by this.  And like Melody Beattie and others, they have a gift for understanding that blesses many lives when they share.  Including mine.  I really liked this book
I liked this book because I felt like it summarized in a practical way some of the most important discoveries I've made in the last two years.  And all in one place!  It is straightforward, it is easy to understand.  She articulates well, and I feel like she reaches the common denominator.  It's not written by a scientist, or a journalist, or even a psychologist.  It's written by a WoPA. 

I don't really know what else to say, except don't take my word for it.  Read it.  It's not too long, it's easy to intellectually digest, and you can write notes to yourself all over it. I will share a few of my favorite quotes.
"The bar has been raised for us.  We no longer are content with a parallel relationship; we are working towards a unified, synergistic relationship..."
"When we have clear boundaries, we will not find it necessary to explain why we are doing something or why we are not doing something."
"We must stop being afraid of our addict husbands. We must look up to God with courage and faith. Our Heavenly Father does not condone the behaviors associated with sexual addiction, and He does not want His daughters to enable it."
"Forgiveness is a gift that I give to my soul...it is not conditioned upon apologies or restitutions on the part of the offender."
And lastly,
"Caring for ourselves expresses our appreciation to God by our careful stewardship of His creation - life." 
There are several other thoughts I'll probably write about in the future.  But in the meantime, read the book. 
Post Edit: In the back she has a few pages of what she calls "Road Maps" that I think are really helpful in determining if your husband is in recovery, and likewise if YOU are in recovery. It's good stuff.