14 April 2013

The Cycle

Ordinary Time:

In the Catholic church there are two seperate periods of time made up of several weeks, that in fact constitute the majority of the year.  These periods are called "Ordinary Time."  They are the weeks in between the celebrated parts of the year. (Easter, Christmas, Passover, Lent, etc.)  They are seasons of neither feasting or penance. 

The largest part of Pete's (and mine by association) addictive cycle is ordinary time.  It is chaotic dinners with our young brood, Friday night dates with sushi or mexican.  Our ordinary time is full of conversations about how to handle our six year old wetting the bed or if its time to buy a new minivan.  We work together on mediocre landscaping and refinishing furniture.  We laugh and watch Neftlix with bowls of popcorn.  We have sex and I talk to him late into the night until he can't keep his eyes open. 

Scott P. Richert says

"Many people think Ordinary Time refers to the parts of the Church year that are unimportant. But nothing could be further from the truth."

So goes our ordinary time.  It is the brick and mortar of our marriage. 

PRT- Pre-relapse Tension:

Another, less used, term for PMS is Premenstrual tension. We are all familiar with the atmosphere of PMS. 

"Say or do the wrong thing and I'll bite your head off." 

Ordinary time evolves into PRT time for Pete.  It's walking on egg-shells and general grumpiness.  It's during this time that Pete and I have that same bloody conversation that has become a fixture in the cycle.  Pete used to get really angry during this time.  But he's made progress, and even though the same elements are there (blame, victimization, minimizing), he rarely raises his voice at me. 

I thought this quote about PMS was appropriate.

"PMS is better thought of as an aggressive messaging service, our body’s way of trying get our attention to make changes and get rid of things that don't sustain or suit us anymore."       

(Yes. I just compared my husband's addictive behavior to PMS.)

It's during this time that I find myself thinking

"Oh just do it already.  Just get your fix so we can move on to the good phase."


I don't mean fixing like repairing, I mean "fix"-ing like indulging in an amount or dose of something craved.  It's a made-up verb for a slang definition of the noun "fix." (That was a waste of your time. I should have just called this phase "Relapse.")

Call it whatever you want.  Slipping, acting out, lost battles, lust-fest, binge, all of the above. 
This phase isn't pretty either.  Pete is discouraged, irritable, anxious, physically distressed.  It's ugly.

Then, like how Scabs describes eating all the crap you want the night before a diet, so the next morning you feel so sick you are motivated to start fresh, he hits bottom. 


This is the good phase.  Or at least it used to be.  Now I'm jaded, and rather than being genuinely grateful for this period, I exploit it, and turn Pete into my humble and subservient slave. 

Let me be clear that Pete is not violent toward me. But my counselor pointed out that he lives out the Honeymoon phase similarly to the way an abuser does. 

During this time Pete is extra helpful around the house, remorseful and kind, patient with the kids.  He does dishes and changes diapers with enthusiasm.  He attends group meetings, works recovery steps, visits with the bishop and reaches out. 

According to the cycle of violence, the honeymoon is an opportunity to compensate for the misbehavior.  But Pete explained it to me differently.  He says during all the other phases, he feels emotions building up, but does not cope with them appropriately.  Acting out with pornography and masturbation is his way of releasing, purging and medicating his feelings.  Totally unhealthy and inappropriate? Yes.  But it does get him to a place where there are no more bottled up resentments or festering frustrations.  It makes him emotionally capable of being compassionate and unselfish, where he isn't capable of being during the previous two (three?) phases. 

But, this story is no mystery.  Ordinary time ensues.  And then tension.  And then more medicating.  'Round and 'round.  Each phase can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.  It is totally unpredictable it its consistency.  It makes me crazy. 


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  2. I'm sorry hope and healing but this feels like such a disrespectful comment. It comes off with a sickening feeling of authoritative self-righteousness and makes me wonder why you think yourself such an expert. With such little compassion it seems strange you call yourself hope and healing. My advice, let the girl breathe. let her analyze their own cycles. let her and her husband heal and learn at their own pace. don't be so quick to point out flaws and criticize. it is their journey, not yours. As the fellow wife of an addict, I had to step in and have Jane and her husband's back.

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    2. Anonymous, I decided to delete my comments. I in no way meant to be disrespectful, but I know at times I can be overzealous. My intention is not to point out flaws or be critical, but to underscore patterns. Believe it or not, my intent was to also have Jane's back, simply because I've seen so many women doubt themselves and their gut when the crazies kick in and the cycle is continuing. That link from Rhyll that Harriet posted is a good one and says it better than I from a woman who has walked this path for 40+ years and knows her stuff.

      But you are right, this is not my journey and they will figure it out in their own time and way.

      Dear Jane, I'm sorry if what I said upset you in any way. I hope you know my heart here. I feel such an urgency to get info out there, and yet using your blog to do it may not have been the best way to do it. Please forgive me.

  3. Oh Jane, what a vicious cycle!

    We just finished Phase 1 of LifeSTAR and it talked all about these cycles. It was so helpful for me. To learn about shame, the addiction cycle, the drama triangle and how to get the heck out of them. That's what I was looking for. A way out of those vicious cycles!

    Love you Jane! Praying for you to find your way out of the Insanity and into a pattern of happy, healthy living!

  4. I am sorry that your life is full of chaos and waiting for the next cycle. I have been dealing with a "cycling" addict for years - though his cycle can be daily. It can feel defeating and demoralizing. I have told him that I struggle to believe the words he says because they seem like a cover-up. He feels so badly about himself, that I am being used to try to make himself feel better. It's a nasty cycle for me too. I hope you find some peace. http://www.barefootsworld.net/aaacceptance.html

  5. "Can you get an aaaaaaamen!"? Yes. Yes you can. I think I unknowingly rush the prt phase to get back to the humble servant phase faster by setting him up and intentionally setting him off. My cycles are similar. :p

  6. I can relate to this post, now that my husband is trying to abstain from feeding his lust addiction ( not in recovery, but white knuckling it), he has become very emotional and needy, which is very diferent for our relationship....I am still figuring it out and I am afraid this is a cycle for him too..only time will tell.

  7. Have you read this???


    I just came across it on Rhyll's site and thought of this post!

    love you!

    1. Thank Harriet:) I needed to read this. My husband does the long stretches between relapses and this post gave me a better understanding of the addiction cycle.

      Great comments! My husband has gone through the needy stage and now he has backed off. Hmmm...lot's to think about!

      Love you Jane and I am praying for you always:)