29 May 2013

Such a Mournful Sound

It gets worse before it gets better.  The eternal truth that I periodically rehearse in my mind to ward off discouragement; that friend of insanity who makes me feel like there is no progress. 

"You have anxiety." My therapist said to me a few weeks ago.  I chuckled.

"No. I don't have anxiety."

"Yeah. You do." She chuckled back at my disbelief.  And then she made her case and I was convicted on two counts of anxiety and social anxiety, and one count of situational depression.  These weren't "official" diagnoses, just her observations. 

Well crap, I thought. 

Awareness is always the first step, right? And with awareness comes that awful sense of impending doom that nothing will change, that yes, things are MESSED UP in my head.  And that's enough to make me eat an entire bag of chocolate covered coconut macadamia nuts I brought home from Hawaii. 

My counselor suggested I observe my "congnitive distortions."  That required a little research.  After identifying a few that I knew were habitual thinking errors of mine, I began noticing them a little more. I've also been aware of the knot in my stomach when fear creeps in.  And there may have been hours spent wallowing in my bed while my kids watched episode after episode of Sesame Street on Netflix.

"I'm soooooo depressed..."  I moaned to myself. 

I've mentioned it before but I am obsessive about the song "Shake It Off" by Florence and the Machine.  It has become my mantra, my theme song, the soundtrack to the year 2013 in the life of Jane. 

"Every demon wants his pound of flesh" Florence wails. 

Ohhhhhhh demons.  My demons are anxiety, depression, despair, FEAR, and they make excessive and cruel demands on me.  Sometimes they seem so powerful, I feel I have no strength to face them, let alone conquer them.  They suck the life out of me.  They leave me hopeless and gaunt, lethargic and melancholy.

"Looking for heaven found the devil in me." She laments.  My soul cries AMEN FLORENCE! I spent a year exerting a valiant effort into recovery. And what did I end up with? A crisis of faith.  Everything I drug out of the closets of my relationships, all my character flaws I unearthed during my Step 4 inventory, the lack of Pete's recovery despite MY diligent endeavors on our behalf, it was too overwhelming.  I shut down emotionally. 

Why DOES it get worse before it gets better? I really do feel like I challenged all my demons to a playground brawl, and then panicked when I saw their tenacity, when they surrounded me like a childhood nightmare. 

"I am done with my graceless heart."

She sang to me this morning as I blared her anthem on repeat through my headphones and cranked up the speed on the treadmill, determined to run the demons out of me. 

"I can do this. I can overcome this."

Faster, faster, faster. 

"I will do this.  I will overcome this."

I am done with my graceless heart. 

At group meeting the other night someone defined grace as "divine strength."  There is absolutely no way I can fight these demons alone.  I simply don't have it in me.  I'll give this grace thing a shot.  It's my last gasp. 

"And I'm ready to suffer, and ready to hope....
It's always darkest before the dawn."

27 May 2013

The Real Connection

The other night Pete and I were being totally inappropriate and speculating about people we knew being sex addicts.  Eventually it got to our family and we started going down the list.   Now let me say, these days I'm so jaded it would take a lot to shock me with a sex addict exposé .  But when it came to my brother both Pete and I figured he was clean.

"No way he's a sex addict."  Pete said. 

"I agree, but how are you so sure?"

"He makes the real connection." 

Apparently that's a term they use in SA.  The elusive "real connection."  And it's true.  My brother really connects with people.  He really cares about them. He keeps in touch.  He loves and forgives.  He is unselfish enough to thoughtfully consider someone's feelings, and feel genuine compassion and concern.  But also he opens his heart and lives with appreciation for the care and kindness he knows others have for him.  He is the only member of my family I have ever considered confiding in. 

I think Pete and I are both heartbroken that we don't have a real connection between us.  For so long we have looked to each other to meet our needs.  [Forgive me Harriet!] But we have expected so much of each other and been so hurt.   I wanted his recovery so much it consumed me.  And he wanted my love and admiration so much he felt crazy.  And, for the last few months, we have both been incapable of offering what the other was so desperate for. 


Almost exactly one year ago this weekend my heart raced as I exited the plane and stepped nervously out my gate.  From across the walkway I saw a the back of a familiar blonde mane and heard the familiar excited voice of my friend Mac as she approached.  I was vulnerable and humble.  I was frantic for a real connection. 

For the next two days I feasted on real connection. 

With Camp Scabs approaching I find myself feeling that familiar nervous and vulnerable feeling.  But I am confident that once more as I sit around the table with real and amazing women I will yet again watch my cup overflow with love and genuine affection. 

Never were friendships born and matured faster, never were hearts more open and accepting, never have women been so bonded as WoPA. 

God has given me real connections to emotionally sustain me while I repair my relationship with my husband. 

The finale of Les Miserables evokes strong emotions in me.  Together, Valjean, Fantine and Eponine sing these words. 

Take my hand
And lead me to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spoken:
To love another person is to see the face of god.

Making a "real connection" is truly the most healing, most therapeutic, most divine feeling I've discovered.  On my worst days, I can always take solace in the love (and humor) of my dearest friends.  Strip away fame, strip away power, strip away wealth.  Experience addiction, death, privation, and ridicule.  Eliminate beauty, intelligence, and skill.  And between two people can be exchanged something so powerful yet simple, we all become equals. 

That is the real connection. 

24 May 2013

I Am A Queen

Even without really knowing what was going on in Hawaii it was a little bit of an awkward vacation.  But we managed to laugh, particularly whenever we turned on the radio and this song was on.  (Because every time we turned on the radio we heard this song either immediately or within minutes.)

The irony wasn't lost on us.

It has been added to my running playlist for my upcoming race in June.  LOVE me an empowering women jam.  (There's another version with a more rappy-intense feel featuring Jah Maoli.)

P.S. I really dig the hawaiian music combo of reggae/hip hop/country steel guitar.  RAD.

Have a great weekend all. 

23 May 2013

Keeping my chin up

This morning I went to the UPS store and picked up my first tangible copy of the Healing Through Christ manual. I had emailed it to the store and they printed and bound it for me.  I was so excited.  It cost $17.95 to have it done in black and white.  (The really nice man at my local UPS store saw the subject matter of the manual and put it in a white cover and white back cover. So I now have my own "white book." We both laughed about that. I guess he is familiar with the white book or he was indulging my addiction humor.)

Then, hours later, I got an email saying the manual is now available on ebay through a wholesale printer.  For $11.95 + $5.95 [expedited] shipping and handling.  So almost exactly the same price, but as far as I can tell this one is in color and nicer.  I'm so happy it's available for print I don't really care that mine is black and white! I'm ordering a copy for my bishop and stake president.

Anyway- get your copy here:

The second thing that made my day was this little video.  That's FHE on Monday right there people. 


10 Reasons You Should Go Watch That Video:

1- Adorable animation
2- Age appropriate discussion on pornography
3- Delightful cartoon facial expressions
4- Realistic and relatable characters
5- Riveting plot :)
6- Adorable animation
7- Brief but adequate
8- Fun and heartwarming music
9- Non-shame based parental response
10- Heartwarming message

Go! Now! Watch!

22 May 2013

Pearl Harbor

We had just stepped off the ferry that brought us back from the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.  Despite the glowing sunlight and the surrounding beaches it was a somber place.  Over a thousand men slumber in the watery grave beneath the memorial, interred in their sunken ship.  I was feeling subdued.  Pete needed to use the restroom so he handed me his wallet and I headed to the information booth to buy tickets for a tour of the U.S.S. Missouri.   His card wasn't signed so the ticket girl asked for I.D.  It was Pete's card, and obviously I look nothing like Pete so she asked me to just step to the side until he returned from the restroom so he could sign the receipt.  There wasn't anyone else is line and so I just waited there at the counter.

I waited and waited.  Feeling terribly awkward I gradually inched away from the counter.  The girl talked to other employees in the booth and I avoided eye contact.  The minutes seemed to drag on like hours and my imagination began to run wild.  I remembered a post Pete wrote just a month ago.  There have only been two or three times that Pete hasn't been immediately forthcoming with disclosures, but our trip to Washington D.C. a couple years ago fell during that time.  So he told me about what he was going to write in his post just the night before he wrote it. 

In other words, I learned just weeks before, for the first time, that Pete had masturbated in the restroom of one of the most somber places in our nation.  And here we were, thousands of miles away, the seconds ticking by as Pete lingered in the men's room at Pearl Harbor.  I felt a knot in my stomach and my heart started to race.   The sun felt hotter and I was sure the girl at the ticket counter was watching my developing anxiety attack with fascinated intrigue. 

It felt like forever when Pete emerged.  He signed the receipt and saw my distress.  I told him why I'd felt nervous and he apologized and chalked it up to a busy restroom and the fact that bowel movements can't be rushed.  I bought it. 

Last night I laid out some boundaries for Pete.  The last of which was a statement that I would not travel or vacation alone with him for one year.  I love to travel, and he and I have both loved planning trips with his frequent flyer miles.  This was a painful boundary to set, and will be harder to enforce.  But our romantic getaways are starting to make painful triggers for me, and I don't want every historical  landmark in the country or world to elicit memories of the escapades of a sex addict. 

After I rolled over to go to sleep I was bombarded with those pesky thoughts that haunt us WoPA [INSANITY] and I started to put together some pieces to a puzzle. I felt like a detective gathering evidence.  I realized that the morning of the day we spent at Pearl Harbor was the morning Pete went to the sex shop.  He really WAS masturbating in the restroom I thought.  I blurted it out in a question

"WERE you masturbating in the bathroom at Pearl Harbor?"

"No." He said. 

He sounded wounded and defeated from our boundary conversation and I believed him.  Until I didn't believe him.  And there is no way I can ever know for sure.  And although he is usually honest, he isn't always honest.  He had plenty of reasons to lie, and it felt like no reason to tell the truth.  I'll never really know I guess. 

The other day I was talking on the phone to my brother.  He had called to ask about our trip but we had gotten distracted exchanging depressing stories about people we both knew who had committed fraud or had extra-marital affairs.  He wondered aloud about what was going wrong in lives of our friends, good people, that caused them to make uncharacteristic mistakes.

"They just don't take trips with their wife to Hawaii I guess!" He said as a joke.  I laughed.  But it hurt.  Because they do. 

19 May 2013



I have a sister in another city who has a gift for making me feel like pond scum.  I know she loves me, and occasionally she writes me thoughtful messages even expressing the ways she admires me.  And yet, nearly every time we get together she says something critical or condescending that knocks the wind out of me, emotionally speaking. 

Surrounding these painful and often awkward moments there are fantastic memories.  This same sister also has a gift for making me laugh, and when we were kids we would always get the giggles at family prayer. When we get together we can talk for hours and we understand each other in a way only siblings do. 

But each time after our separation I am haunted and hurt by whatever cruel thing she said to me.  I weep over my disappointment that my sister, who is supposed to love and cherish me, could be so terribly unkind. 

"Each time you approach a visit with your sister, with the expectation that she is going to be sensitive to you and masterfully overcome her character frailties and personal insecurities that cause her to be unkind, you will likely be painfully disappointed when she inevitably says something judgmental."  says my counselor.


In AA they say that an expectation is a premeditated resentment.

I know that when it comes to the language of addiction, a lot of it is just semantics.  But my "expectations" are killing me.  I'm done with expectations. I'm done "expecting" people (including Pete) to be a certain way or "expecting" them to meet my needs.  I love the Courage to Change book, and this articulates me feelings perfectly.

"Turning to an alcoholic for affection and support can be like going to a hardware store for bread.  Perhaps we expect a "good" parent to nurture and support our feelings, or a "loving" spouse to comfort and hold us when we are afraid, or a "caring" child to want to pitch in when we are ill or overwhelmed.  While these loved ones may not meet our expectations, it is our expectations, not our loved ones, that have let us down."

And no one fails to live up to my expectations more than myself.  And in disappointment with myself some of my greatest resentments are born.  By releasing myself and the people in my life from my expectations, I can accept them for who they are, today.

"Today the [addict] may or may not be able to give us what we deserve. And no one person will ever offer all that we require. If we stop insisting that our needs be met according to our will, we may discover that all the love and support we need is already at our fingertips."

Don't get me wrong, I believe in boundaries.  I think by changing my mental vernacular to make my boundaries less about expectations and more about myself and my responses to my circumstances, I am more able to let go of my futile efforts to change other people. 

I have a friend who focuses a lot of her recovery on her values.  I'm not totally familiar with this model, but I like it.  And I like it because I can replace my expectations with my values.

Instead of saying to Pete 

"I expect you to attend recovery meetings." 

I can say

"I value recovery.  My relationship with you will thrive when you attend recovery meetings." 

Why does it matter? It matters at this point because I have no control over him.  I can only control me.  And I've already decided how I'm going to live/be whether or not he values recovery meetings like I do. 

I've spent my adult life "expecting" my family to be kind, accepting and compassionate, and been broken hearted every time they have not lived up to my expectations.  I value relationships with kindness, acceptance and compassion.  And I can do my best to offer those things to my loved ones.  But I don't have to let my love and gratitude for my family members be held hostage to my own unmet expectations of them.  

 So my therapist counsels me. 

"Go visit your sister.  Laugh with her and be vulnerable.  But don't set her up for failure by "expecting" her to meet your criteria for what a sister should be.  Accept her and enjoy her.  When she says something that is cruel, tell her that it hurts. [Boundary.] And then go right on letting her work out her own weaknesses before God." 

(As a side note- if my sister had no redeeming qualities to offer our relationship, or if what she said was unbearably cruel or consistantly negative, I think it would be totally appropriate to not spend time with her as a boundary.  I don't believe that relinquishing expectations means accepting bad behavior.  It just means not trying to change a person to meet my needs. I am blessed with other women and friends who can offer me love and friendship. I can let my sister be who she is, today.)

16 May 2013

Crisis of Faith: Part IV


I found my faith.  I suppose the timing couldn't be better.

After Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave his conference address in April a friend texted me. 

"You must be really special." She said. "That talk was just for you." 

He said

"Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!"

So here is my honest declaration of faith. 


My faith didn't come back to me in a grand moment of clouds parting, angels singing, celestial glory.  It came over weeks of experiences, feelings, and words.  But it did culminate in a quite, tender moment while I was in Hawaii.

We attended the Samoan ward that was closest to our beach house.  As I sat down, one of those beautiful Polynesian women, with a smile as big as the island, draped a lei over my head.  She wrapped me in her arms and kissed my cheek. 

"Everyone wears one of these today" she said.  Sure enough, I looked around and every adult woman wore at least one, sometimes many, flowery, fragrant leis. I drank in the scent and basked in the love I felt. 

The hymnbook was in Samoan, but the language is phonetic so I did my best to sing along.  During the Sacrament hymn I stumbled through the words as I read them, but in my head I heard them in English. 

"Let me not forget, oh Savior."

I was totally overcome with emotion and I couldn't stop the tears.

God was there with me.  He spoke to my soul.  He was with those people. He is with people in congretations of all types around the world.  He is personally with those who believe in Him.  Myself included.  I felt of his supernal, individual love.


I have found answers to many of my questions.  I've gained spiritual understanding and increased my logical understanding of divine principles. 

Many of my questions haven't been answered.  But I'm okay with that, because that is what faith means to me.  Believing, in spite of questions. 

I get to choose what I believe and how I believe. I get to choose to believe at all.  I consider that to be a great treasure. 

15 May 2013

How many hits can a good girl take?

Apparently Hawaii went worse than I thought it did... Pete unloaded a wheelbarrow full of crappy confessions on me last night.   You can read the juicy details on his blog

I don't feel much like writing about it.  But it's been awhile since I've posted a song so here is my current self-pity tune.

14 May 2013

Trouble in Paradise


Over a year and a half ago, Pete and I were probably sure by May 2013 our troubles would be [nearly?] over.  We planned a trip to Hawaii for our tenth anniversary. 

One month ago, I was feeling hopeful.  Ever since I took off for a weekend in January, things had been rough around here.  I'd executed a major detachment, which may or may not have been a major wake-up call for Pete.  He turned a corner.  SA meetings two or three times a week.  Talk of a sponsor.  Flickers of empathy.  An amorous flame sparked again between us.  Hawaii was going to be our second honeymoon. 

Two days before our vacation Pete had a quick trip out of town for business.  It was overnight, but he would be gone less than 24 hours. 

Cue the foreboding music. 

He called me in the morning.  Crash and burn.  Porn and masturbation. 

I crumpled on my bed and cried it out.  A confession hadn't hurt that bad in a really long time. 

There was so much on the line. 

He was supposed to be getting better.  Couldn't he have just white knuckled it through? Did he really choose porn over me?

And the question that is the demon that haunts my soul.


I had so much to do that day that I made myself busy and before I knew it we were sitting on a plane together flying over the ocean. 

Hawaii was amazing.  Beaches with sand as fine as flour, exotic fish that dazzled my eyes, papaya and mango for breakfast, hikes in the jungle with real Tarzan vines, girthy Polynesian women whose beauty was only outmatched by their love. 

I told Pete that even under the circumstances there wasn't really anyone I'd be more comfortable traveling with.  I was glad to have him there.  But our vacation in paradise was stricly platonic.  It was romantically and sexually anemic. 

We only talked about "it" once.  I told Pete that this time had hurt worse than usual.  I told him that I had seen so much change and felt so much hope.  He asked if I had assumed he would never act out again.  When I answered I said

"No, I figured there would be slips, but not this soon."

But what I was really thinking was

"Yeah actually.  Isn't that the goal? To quit looking at porn? Someday, won't there be a time when you really don't ever look again?"

I don't really want to get into those questions.  Now that we're back and I have to face real life I feel overwhelmed with those and even more confusing ideas.  What now? More detachment? New boundaries? Is progress real? What is recovery? What am I doing right? Wrong?

I tried out body boarding and loved it.  When I'd catch a wave just right I'd glide across the sand until the water was gone from beneath me. I'd keep my eyes on the beach, seeing if I'd come father this time than I had the last time.  I would get cocky with my wave-riding skillzzzz. 

But then, if I let myself forget the ocean was behind me, I'd wait a second too long and BAM the outgoing tide and the next incoming wave would knock me to my knees. 

Friends, I swear I will never figure this out. I just want to say here that addiction suuuuuucks.

05 May 2013

Taking eachother seriously

Have you experienced H.O.N.Y?  If not, go there now.  It's my favorite place to bask in humanity.

I was really moved by Josh Weed's post the other day.  There is a woman who has in the past made (what I thought were) antagonizing comments on his blog.  But lo and behold, he being the loving person he is, became friends with her.  The whole thing was a real-life example of these words, I'll leave you with. 

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously -- no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner -- no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment”

C.S. Lewis

02 May 2013

It IS About Sex. To me it is.


"It's not about sex."

That's what they all say.  But then why is it called a sex addiction?  And why do I feel like there's a beast in my bed, like his addiction is the awkward third wheel? 

I know all addictions stem from some underlying resentment, inadequacy, fear, etc.  And I understand that true recovery requires that the addict address those issues. 

But don't tell me it's not about sex.  Even Pete knows it's about sex

I love NPR, and my favorite program (via WBEZ Chicago) is This American Life.  It's an hour long program with extrememely entertaining, fascinating, comical, frustrating stories about everyday Americans.  It elicits strong emotional responses in me, and that's a good litmus test for my entertainment.  For Valentine's Day the program started off with the story of a couple who got together in college.  They were together for 13 years and then when they were both 30 they started talking marriage.  But since they had been each other's only partner for the last 13 years they decided to take a month to "sleep around" and make sure they really wanted to be together.  Spoiler alert: they never got married.  They never even got back together. 

But the part of the story that really got to me was that the guy, who felt such strong emotional connections during sex, found himself wanting to say "I love you" during/after intercourse even when he was having a one-night stand.

It felt so obvious to me.  OF COURSE.  Have we gotten so off-track as a society that we have no awareness that sex was meant to be a means of bonding a couple and making their relationship complete? Isn't that the very definition of consummating a relationship?

I forgot about all this soon enough. Until I listened to a podcast done by really smart people.  Scabs sent it my way, and it rocked my world.  It validated all my feelings about pornography and masturbation.  I can't do it justice, listen to it or read it here.

But here is one [long] quote:

  This is where neurochemistry comes in, too. Sexual climax involves incredibly powerful chemical events that can even be analogized to the effect of powerful drugs. Both make the brain perceive incredible pleasure. Because of neuroplasticity (the brain’s tendency to rewire itself so that a stimulus and its response are closely associated with each other), sexual stimulus will be associated with its incredible neurochemical reward. Some of the chemicals that are released during sex are the same as those released after a woman gives birth. And just as these chemicals help a mother to bond with a newborn child, they also help sexual partners to feel bonded to one another.

   But when sexual stimulus comes in the form of masturbation, completely devoid of the sharing and vulnerability and complementarity of marriage, then the brain can become wired so that it is primarily masturbation that produces the reward, and an individual can become increasingly unable to sexually respond to a spouse. Masturbation and intercourse are simply different. One who masturbates frequently has a very direct knowledge of what actions bring pleasure most effectively. It can be difficult or impossible for a spouse to reproduce the pleasure that a masturbator has learned how to produce on his or her own. Thus, sexuality, if not expressed in the context of a loving and devoted relationship, turns inward and becomes a focus on self. It is spiritually dangerous to use
sexuality for self when God intends for it to be used to help us overcome our love of self.

Even if he wasn't meaning to, even if it was on a subconscious level, Pete was resenting the fact that I couldn't do exactly for him what he wanted.  He felt totally entitled to all the pleasurable (in terms of neurochemistry) experiences porn and masturbation brought him.  And when I failed to provide those experiences for him - which I often do because it's hard to feel emotionally connected to an addict- he got more resentful of me.  It is another nasty cycle.  I had my resentments too, and they were all about sex.  I hated it.  And more I hated it, the more I could see Pete's disappointment in me. 

I get what they mean when they say it's not about sex. I really do.  But pornography and masturbation addiction took sex as I knew it, or at least as I idealized it, and made it hideous.  It was like someone put my favorite entree in front of me, and then heaped a spoonful of dog poo in the center of the plate. 

"Just eat around it.  The rest of the food is delicious, just avoid the parts that touch the fecal matter."

Thankfully I've got a stellar therapist.  And if I say it's about sex, she listens.