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.