27 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

My family has a tradition on Thanksgiving where everyone writes down a few things they are grateful for and puts them in a glass pumpkin.  After the feast, we pass the pumpkin around and take turns reading them, and then guessing who wrote them.

This year as a joke Pete and I started listing the things we were grateful for that wouldn't be appropriate for the glass pumpkin.  I'll give you the pleasure of guessing which of us said them.

- I'm grateful for the long lasting friendships I've made with sex addicts this year.

- I'm grateful for good therapy.

- I'm grateful that I went to over 200 12-step meetings this year.

- I'm grateful that two of my dearest friends saw their excommunicated husbands rebaptized.

- I'm grateful my husband found people to share his intimate feelings with, when I was incapable of hearing them.

- I'm grateful I can say masturbate without throwing up in my mouth.

- I'm grateful for 83 days of sobriety.

- I'm grateful for spending weekends with strangers and burning lingerie.


I know the holidays can be really difficult so I'm shooting rays of love-beams out my virtual fingertips for you.  Breaking routine is often a big trigger for Pete, which means a history of relapses around the holidays.  And of course family...

I hope your Thanksgiving brings you some level of gratitude and joy.


26 November 2013

Knowledge is Power

LifeStar of Lehi asked me to write a guest post for a series they are doing called "Tips From Women in Recovery."

Trying to offer hope to someone beginning their journey in recovery is a difficult task in 500 words or less.  But you can read my contribution here or here

Read through the series too- lots of good stuff in there. 

22 November 2013



Pete and I have had the same conversation, in various forms, every few days or weeks over the last few months and years.  It always seems to start innocent enough, him sharing his feelings, or me sharing mine.  (Back when I felt safe sharing my feelings.)  Then, like a funnel, all the words eventually come out into one theme.  It looks something like this. Pete saying to me

"You need help with this."
"You have a lot of baggage here."
"I'm not the only one with problems."
"You are causing permanent damage."

You get the idea. These statements sound terrible when taken out of context, I'm sure when Pete said them they seemed more reasonable.  But to me, they always sounded terrible. I always heard them as isolated statements. 

In the beginning he would say them in anger, he would be downright cruel.  But I learned the signs and when he was angry it was easy for me to see that I was dealing with the addict. Then he had a little recovery and he started saying the same things, but he was calm.  This was confusing, if he wasn't angry then maybe he was being reasonable and maybe he was right.  I would doubt myself, and fall apart.  But I have good support, and I was able to sort these things out.  It wasn't his place to manage my recovery, and even if I was wrong, it wasn't his job to say so.  With more recovery, he is even more subtle and reasonable.  Making me even more confused.  But old habits die hard, and Pete was still victimizing and blame-shifting at worst, managing my recovery at best. 

There are a couple sayings in the recovery world.  "Taking someone else's inventory" and "cleaning someone else's side of the street."   Codependents do this, and addicts do it when they are being codependent.  It's telling someone what they are or aren't doing right in their recovery.  When Pete would do this to me it would trigger me badly.  I had totally relinquished his recovery to him, why couldn't he do the same for me? It is one of my biggest areas of trauma.  I couldn't stand him criticizing my recovery. 

The last few times Pete and I have had these conversations they have ended very badly.  Like me locking myself in the bathroom and sobbing uncontrollably.  A couple weeks ago this happened.  It was the experience I wrote about here.  Last night Pete said something to me that was incredibly validating, and was the kind of compassion I've been waiting for.

He said

"When I heard you in the bathroom, crying like that, I knew that wasn't a manufactured response.  It was something that happened TO you.  It was a trauma response.  And instead of thinking what I would usually think in my addicted brain  'See! See what those WoPA have done to her! See how unreasonable she is!' I thought,


That is the wreckage of my addiction."

Wreckage is "the remains of something that has been badly damaged or destroyed."  Pete had a moment of clarity when he saw that my total meltdown was part of his wreckage.  My destroyed confidence, my damaged intuition, my obvious emotional instability. 

Pete can't take any ownership of my recovery. It's up to me to sort through his wreckage in whatever ways I want to try.  And I'm allowed to make mistakes.  I feel the same way about his recovery.  I've given him the space to try whatever ways he wants to try. And he is allowed to make mistakes.  He will admit that he has.  Even since that conversation, I have found myself on the bathroom floor again. 

But he can take ownership of the wreckage of his addiction.  And although I don't think my personal healing needed him to take ownership, I think it might be necessary for the healing of our marriage.

20 November 2013

In The Meantime

Gosh- how often I've mourned the lost time that has been dedicated to recovery.  My so-called recovery has ebbed and flowed, and ebbed to the point of obsession at times.  I'm starting to feel a longing to resume old interests, pursue new ones, and try to use my recovery time more efficiently.  But for anyone who has felt like pornography addiction, or another tragedy, or even just life, has gotten in the way of their dreams, this [cheesy mommy] song is for you.

But today, it is ESPECIALLY for my friend Alicia, because there have been moments when I have been that aching heart that only she could lift. 

Alicia- Heaven hears the joy of every victory in your life, and heaven hears your heart before you cry.  And girl- I KNOW you are being sanctified.

Thank you to all my other friends who have been a friend. And for each of you- don't doubt your place, or your ability to be a gift and blessing in someone else's life. 

Hang in there peeps.  

19 November 2013

Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet

Saatchi Online

Late Sunday afternoon Pete and I found a babysitter and drove 45 minutes to a nearby town to attend a baptism.  As we drove west along the highway the low sun was so bright through the windshield I had to close my eyes for a minute. 

I thought back to almost two years ago at a 12 step meeting when my friend, whose demeanor is quiet and dignified, wept about her husband being excommunicated from our church due to the grievous nature of his sins.  She lifted her head for a minute to look us all in the eye. 

"But I think it's going to be a good thing."

It was about a year after that when I met her husband for the first time. He sang at a speaker's meeting for addiction recovery.  He had an amazing voice, and like so many of the men in our lives, when I talked with him I could hardly believe he was the same man who had made those painful mistakes.  Addiction makes soft men hard.  It makes kind men cruel.  It makes reasonable men stupid.  It makes humble men proud. 

The baptism was a spiritual experience I can't adequately give words to here.  But I just want to testify, with my little voice here on the internet that recovery works. 

Recovery makes hard men soft. It makes cruel men kind.  It makes stupid men reasonable. And it makes proud men humble. 

I'm sure my friend would say that the anguish was severe, the journey long, and the forgiveness slow but sweet.  None of us asked for this.  None of us thought this was the life we were choosing when we made our vows. 

But here we are.  And as Pete and I drove home under the full fall moon, I felt my heart overflowing with gratitude.  I witnessed the atonement of Jesus Christ firsthand.  I saw redemption in a man and woman I love like family.  I wouldn't go back if I could.  And I really mean that.  I wouldn't trade these treasures, these experiences, this taste of charity, these relationships for a different life.  I can genuinely say that in spite of everything I love the life I have. 

"When men know why they suffer, and realize that it is for a good and wise purpose, they can bear it much better than they can in ignorance...There is always a blessing in sorrow. They who escape these things are not the fortunate ones."

~Orson F. Whitney

11 November 2013


A few weeks ago Pete and I were working on something together.  In an impulsive and reckless gesture that was meant to be a joke, he lunged at me with his equipment.  I had my back to him, unable to hear him above the noise of the machine, and it caught my flesh.  I jumped and spun around. I looked down.  Pink welts started to form on my leg.

We rushed inside and he did everything he could to take care of my wound.  It became red and raw.  As the moments pass it looked worse and worse. Pete's face was white. There were no words to his remorse. No adequate apologies for his stupidity. He did everything he could think of to make me comfortable.  He felt such utter despair that I couldn't help but feel sorry for him.

At first it stung.  But the shock of what he had done protected me from immediate pain.  Gradually though it started to throb.  The kind of pain where you can feel your pulse in the injury.  After a few hours of throbbing, it reduced to a lingering ache.  At night when I fell asleep I would forget about it until the morning, when I stood up and felt stiff as my body reminded me the wound was still there. 

Pete bent over backwards to make it right.  He would look at it and touch it with painful regret, and all the meekness of the penitent.  He was attentive and compassionate.  He never once let pride prevent him from demonstrating his repentance.  He took ownership of the injury and was perfectly responsible for it.  He exhibited relentless sympathy and never tired of my complaints at the pain and inconvenience of it. 

At one point he said "This is the stupidest thing I've ever done." And I looked at him quizzically. 

It is remarkable to me how I heal from this trauma more quickly when my hurt is met with ownership and responsibility.  How my heart melts like butter on a skillet when I am treated with genuine tenderness and compassion.  I have such a longing for that tireless sympathy whenever the pain and inconveniences of this experience resurface. 

My flesh wound has healed.  There is a scar, but it only brings feelings of warmth and gratitude when I think of how I was treated while I was healing. 

"I did this to you." He said.  "I can't believe I did it. But whatever you need, I'll give it to you."

06 November 2013



Today Pete and I had our first joint therapy session.  Our stance on "couple's therapy" has evolved over the years.  When I first suggested it, Pete said

"We don't need that."

I pushed a little and he held his ground.  But I was getting to a point where I KNEW I needed some third party validation.  Fast forward a few months (years?) and Pete started throwing it out there.  I remember saying to him once or twice

"Make the appointment and I'll be there." 

That never happened.  And then came the big detachment wherein I made no effort or acknowledgement of our floundering marriage.  I just lived independently of him.  So he panicked.  And INSISTED on therapy for us as a couple.  But I resisted.

"I'll go to therapy with you when you're well." 

"Well" being defined as exhibiting signs of recovery while obtaining some meaningful sobriety. 

And here we are.  Our appointment today doesn't even really qualify as "couple's therapy."  It was more just me accompanying him to one of his appointments so that his therapist and I could make sure we were all on the same page. 

There are a lot of opinions out there about husband and wife seeing the same therapist (is this good or bad?) and if they see different therapists - whose therapist do they see together?  My own therapist suggested that we see a THIRD therapist when we are ready for counseling together.  But in the meantime either of us are welcome to visit with the other's therapist.  (I never in my life thought I would write a paragraph about my life where I said "therapist" seven times.)

Sitting there on the leather couch I did feel a little bit like an outsider.  It almost felt like Pete and his therapist have a "thing" and I was just a third wheel.  It made me grateful for the "thing" I have with my therapist.  But eventually I felt welcome and Pete's therapist is a great, gentle and considerate guy. 

**As a side note- can anyone else relate to the conflict of emotions- both relief and sheer frustration- about how accommodating and reasonable their husbands are during therapy? Like "What the heck? Where is the guy who said I was crazy? Can I just video-tape our next argument and bring it in and say 'HERE! Help us with THAT!'"

By the end of the appointment we were talking about communication, specifically about "Check-Ins."  I've heard of check-ins.  But part of my detachment made me unwilling to discuss recovery at all with Pete.  This was just the way I did it. I'm not saying I recommend it, but I am saying that it was what I needed.  Total surrender of his recovery.  I didn't want to hear about it. Partially because for so long it was so irritating to hear him go on and on about recovery when he was still acting out all over the place. But also partially because I wasn't willing to discuss anything with emotional undertones. 

So here is - we'll call him Vic- suggesting that we start having check ins.  As we read together through the sheet of suggested topics for said check-ins my eyes filled up with tears. 

"I can't do this." I thought. "I can't share my feelings with Pete.  I'm terrified of him being critical of them."  In the past Pete's addict brain caused him to resent my recovery efforts.  My recovery meant there was something I needed to recover from, which he was adamant there wasn't.  I also think he had a lot of fear about my newfound support community, fear that they all hated him and gave me bad advice.  So now, when I think about talking about MY recovery with Pete, I am terrified. And I'm stubborn.  My safe place doesn't allow me to be vulnerable.

Vic asked me how I felt about this.  I told him.  I don't want to be vulnerable with Pete. I don't want to share my feelings with him.  I'm afraid they won't be respected.  He reassured me that for now, all I need to do is THINK about having these conversations. I don't have to have them yet if I'm not ready.  But he encouraged me to nudge myself a little bit, and we would talk again in a month or so. 

Pete is finally demonstrating recovery AND sobriety.  I am so grateful for this.  But I've accumulated a fair amount of baggage on this journey and it's feeling a little overwhelming as I try to sort through it all and properly dispose of it.

Who could have ever dreamed how complicated this would be? If I were a crusader I would lobby for warnings with pornography.

"WARNING: This material is potentially addictive and hazardous to your psychological being. Participation will likely result in irrational behavior, damaged relationships, short-term and long-term neurosis, and enough emotional wreckage to fill the Grand Canyon. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK."

05 November 2013

Ain't nothin' gonna break-a-my-stride!

I think I had a mini-anxiety attack last night.  My heart felt like it was racing and I felt like I couldn't catch my breath. I got in a hot bath but the heat just made me feel like I was suffocating.  So I wrapped my towel around me and stood in a discreet place just outside my garage in the black night. It was so cold but I watched my warm breath float up into the dark sky while steam came off my bare feet.

I had a much needed (obviously!) therapy appointment scheduled for today and I couldn't find anyone to watch my kids.  Ordinarily I could cope with a little obstacle like that...

Lasting motivation just won't stick around for me. I do well for a few days, and then I have a sad moment, which turns into a sad day, which turns into a sad week. And before I know it my life has become unmanageable again.  (Um, Step 1 please?) And by unmanageable I am referring to the fact that I have gained 12 pounds in six months, and may or may not have mold growing in more than one place in my kitchen.

So while I am not sure what I need to help me find sustainable progress, a good song always helps.

Here is my new theme song.  If this throwback doesn't make you LOL, you might be worse off than EVEN ME! And I apologize if the green polka-dot/sequin leotards trigger you.  I found them ridiculously comical.