25 October 2013

A week in the life of Jane

It has been a tornado of emotions in the last couple weeks.  In addition to all the confusion and then clarity that surrounded last week, I had made a decision about doing something I felt right about that Pete vehemently disagreed with.  I did it this week.  And it hurt him. 

MONDAY: I shared my (and by obvious association, Pete's) story with someone close to Pete and me.  I had felt strong impressions to do this, and felt that I needed to be honest and real with this person.  It went well, I felt a loving response.  I also felt strongly that by doing what I felt was right, I could confidently trust that God will help me cope with the fallout.  I told Pete what I had done and left it at that, knowing he was going to need some space.

TUESDAY: Pete had a business dinner that night that I was supposed to attend with him.  But the idea of sitting through a celebratory dinner with his coworkers with him oozing hatred out his eyeballs toward me was not appealing.  So I told him as much.  What I said was "If you are angry with me that's fine, but please don't ask me to be your date."  What he heard was "If you don't hurry up at get over this I'm not going to your dinner with you."

We squabbled via text about this all day long on Tuesday.  And then I had a realization. 

Jane- every time you put up a wall, he is going to put up a wall.  (My therapist prefers to talk about doors instead of walls.  Doors can be opened and closed.)  Jane- You have closed your door.  And locked it.  And refusing to go to this dinner is a deadbolt. 

***BIG DISCLAIMER*** Vulnerability with an addict is not always safe.  I get to decide when it's safe. When I'm ready to take a risk and open my heart is my choice with my gut.  Same goes for all of us. 

And it felt like it was time. It felt like I could board up my door and close my heart forever, and get the same response back from him.  All of the sudden I was feeling a desire, a longing, and inkling to open that door.  So I called him. I said

"I want to go to this dinner with you.  But I don't want to sit next to an ice cube."

To which he vulnerably responded.

"I really want you to be there. I won't be an ice cube." 

WEDNESDAY: Pete came home from his meeting and we put the kids to bed. He asked me a few details about my conversation with said person and I answered them.  By now I was thirsty for anything from him.  I just wanted so badly to know what he was thinking and feeling. I could feel old desperations rising up, willing to give up anything to get something back.  But he said he wasn't ready to talk about it yet.  He went into our office to answer emails from work and I started cleaning the house.  I put on some empowering music and got to work.  But I started to feel hot.  It felt like my insides were a furnace burning intense feelings as fuel.  I went out to the porch and sat down.  It's cold at night my part of the world.  But that furnace felt warm inside me.  HOT inside me.  I looked up at the stars and listened to Adele.  (Music is this weird medium that is like a soundtrack to my soul.  It causes thoughts to rush out of me like a bursting dam.)  These were the thoughts.

Jane- (I guess I sort of talk to myself, or imagine God or sanity or some third party talking to me?)

Jane- you have something to offer.  It's time to stop taking taking taking, and start offering.  It's okay, it's okay what you've done to cope, how you've dealt with trauma, the mistakes you've made. It's. Okay.  But it's time to stop obsessing about this.  It's time to give Pete a chance.  It's time to quit feeling sorry for yourself.  It's time.  You're strong.  You're good.  You. Are. Good. 

It's hard to put into words the feelings and thoughts I had. But something clicked and I felt whole. 

THURSDAY: I spent the day doing volunteer work, which as cliché as it sounds, is really so healing.  There is a time and place for service, and it's not during the crisis.  But I am feeling drawn out of my crisis and it was so good for me.  I was still feeling strong and good.

That evening after the kids were in bed Pete asked me to listen as he read something he had prepared about the experience from earlier in the week.  The statement was half-hearted.  He wanted to be over it, he wanted to not be angry, the words said he wasn't but his demeanor felt otherwise.  He asked me that from now on, before I share his story with anyone we meet with a counselor to discuss it.  This bothered me.  I closed my door.  He locked his. I deadbolted mine.  It was a standoff.  We started to argue.  Then he said this

"I'm not the only one with problems in the marriage!"

And I lost it. I walked away. I went in my room and literally closed and locked the door.  Then I went into my bathroom and closed and locked that door.  I was PISSED and I was HURT and I was CONFUSED.  Why is he still saying that? Why is he always blaming me? Why does he insist I'm not recovering the "right" way?  I crumpled to the floor and sobbed.  I hit the wall with the palm of my hand so hard it made my skin sting.  I thought I was strong. I thought I was ready. I thought I couldn't be affected by him like this anymore. 

I heard him knocking on the door.  So I grabbed a bag and shoved some pajamas in it and opened the door.  But he stopped me.  He put his hands on my shoulders, softly, and gently pushed me back until I sat on the edge of our bed.  He knelt down in front me.  With tears in his eyes he said all the things I've been waiting years to hear.

"I'm so sorry.  I wish I could take back those words.  I don't care about being right. I don't care about my pride. I don't want you to leave. Now, or ever. I don't want to lose you.  I love you.  I want to fix this.  I've made mistakes, I'm going to make more mistakes.  I'm learning, but I am giving this my whole heart. I am really trying recovery.  I wanted to handle this the right way and I tried so hard, but old habits die hard.  Please forgive me.  Please. Please. Please."

He went on for about ten minutes before I would even look at his face.  And then he went on some more.  He talked about his pain. He talked about how much it hurt him what I had done.  It was humiliating.  He talked about the last six months and the anguish of watching me pull away from him.  He talked about fears and he talked about recovery.  He was so real.  He was so vulnerable. So humble.  So meek.  So honest. 

After awhile I asked him.  "What stopped you from realizing all these things before, and from sharing them with me?"  He talked about addiction and how it makes chaos in his brain. About how without some sobriety he couldn't see things as they really were.  He talked about how God has given him a sponsor that sees him when he can't see himself.  Like really sees him. 

I realized how healing and helpful it was for me to hear him be honest about his feelings.  But I also realized how he was incapable of doing that for so long.  Yesterday was 50 days of sobriety for him.  That's the longest he has gone in a couple years. 

I don't know what the future holds.  Last night we watched Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability and she talked about how relationships have no guarantees.  It's probably a little different with an addict, it takes longer to be willing to take the risk.  But Pete IS in recovery.  I know it.  So I'm taking a leap of faith, and starting the hard road to healing our relationship.  More therapy.  More hard conversations.  And I'm sure many more mistakes and disagreements. 

But I feel hope, and I feel love for this man.  For the work he has done to get where he is.  I caught a glimpse of how painful HIS road has been and I felt a wagonload of compassion. 

And now I'm going to Yoga- and I'm going to hit publish without finding a cool pic and without reading through this.  Love you all for reading-  Jane


  1. I think this is BEAUTIFUL! And my heart goes out with compassion for him too. Because I can't imagine that hard road either. But I am so happy for this giant step forward. It must feel so relieving. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! Seriously.

  2. This is so similar to my own story this week. So much so that I feel like it was not a coincidence that I read this post this morning. I want so badly to escape this pain that I look for ways to get out of the marriage. But I keep being presented with behavior that confirms Husband's progress. I want to stay in my safe place, with the door locked and dead-bolted, so bad that I am missing an opportunity to rebuild a relationship. It's confusing. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. More more more reasons to love you Jane. (not like I needed them, but here they are anyway)

    I'm writing/thinking about detachment right now and how horrifyingly hard it has been to get there and how horrifyingly hard it is now to undo it. So I'm curious....what if he hadn't broken down? What if he hadn't said all the things you've been dying to hear? Would you still know he's in recovery? Would the sobriety matter? Would you dare take the leap?

    I'm learning that I can't be complete or fully recovered without him making progress (contrary to everything I've been told), I feel recovery stalling, and it's (partly) because he's missing.

    1. Loved this Jane, totally.

      Also, Buffalo Gal, I now am hoping for a full blog post from you based on this comment alone, 'cause I'm curious about diving deeper into this -- just about that idea of can one completely or fully recover while still in a relationship with an addict not in recovery.

    2. Okay so just when I think I've "got this" it takes a new turn so I really don't know anything. Except that if he hadn't done what he did I would have left. Not for good but for the night.

      I dunno Buffalo Gal. But I DO know that when it's time to take a leap of faith, in any direction, your heart will tell you. And it sucks in the meantime. But I have total confidence that you'll find your way.

  4. Jane you are incredible! This is such a rollercoaster with the highs and the lows. I'm glad he is starting to be vulnerable. It took my husband months of recovery (and sobriety) to tap into his deeper emotions. It is so healing when they do. To me, that is when I get a boost that it is worth it to keep working on our marriage. It gives me hope when he is humble, open, and supportive. It isn't that we can't be okay without that--it's that our marriages can't be okay without it. You are in my prayers! You are amazing and strong! I know this isn't over, but I'm glad that you were blessed with this right now.

    1. Eileen! Thank you so much! I love this

      "It isn't that we can't be okay without that-- it's that our marriages can't be okay without it."

      That is just so true!

  5. I loved this - thanks for sharing.

  6. Just found this after starting my own blog about my journey. When I finally told someone outside of our system, it was terrifying-- would they judge me? I still subscribed to all the lies and shame that came with the addiction. Good for your broadening your support system. It takes courage to break down the walls of this addiction, and secrecy and isolation are what keep it from being overcome by so many. http://amommyous.blogspot.com/

    1. Amommyous- what a clever name! It does take courage to step out there, there is always the risk of a fallout from sharing and it takes courage to face that risk.

  7. oh wow, what an awesome post. and great comments too. love you lady!

  8. Kudos! The pain brought gain. Hurray!

  9. I have been reading your blog for awhile now. I just love you. I can relate so much to your journey. Thank you for verbalizing what I feel, so very often in you blog. Thank you, thank you.


    1. Thank you Cynthia. Thank you for those words of encouragement!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. I can definitely relate to how healing it is to see an addict husband being open and vulnerable about his emotions. God bless.

  11. Wow!! You are strong, girl!! I am obsessing all the time about someone in "our life" to share this with. I just can't get it out of my mind. I would love to know how/why you chose this said person. I guess you were led to feel it was the right thing to do.

    I also felt a prompting tonight to not shut that door because he was so angry at me. I wanted to detach and be away from him, but instead I went toward him (still in a semi-detached state). It didn't shut the door and I knew that was the right thing to do.

    1. Anonymous- I spent weeks trying to decide if and how to share with this person. If you email me I'd be happy to tell you! hisstrugglemystruggle @ gmail . com

      I think each time we do what our gut is telling us to do it gets a little easier. But it is scary to go toward him. He hasn't always been safe.