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."