19 December 2014

Conditional Love



This morning as I was walking home from my children's school, I was stewing.  Just to give you a brief update -

I've been relearning about codependency, I've been attending Al-Anon and Skyping with my therapist.  I've been discovering loving detachment, and trying really hard not to totally check out of my marriage.  Things seemed to be looking up.  Pete has been helpful and responsive and we have spent quality time together.  But he is still an emotionally closed book, and refuses to share with me anything regarding his addiction or recovery.  

The other night he said some more hurtful things.  And I felt like I handled it well.  I didn't trigger into a pathetic, sobbing mess on the floor.  I listened, and then offered my best love and committment to him.  The next day I felt really good about maintaining some sanity, until he came home.  And then I couldn't handle it.  Anger and hurt bubbled up inside of me. I think I was hoping for an apology,  In any case, I had an emotional response.

So this morning I've been stewing, and as I was walking along, some advice I have given to multiple people hit me like a face-palm.  (This is yet another reason I try not to give advice.)

You don't treat people with kindness and love to get something from them.  Because some people will never give you what you are longing for.  You treat people with love and kindness because it is the best way to feel good about yourself.  

Love, kindness and forgiveness are my moral code.  And I'm most likely to maintain contentment in my life when I live in line with my moral code.

I think I've tried a dozen different, unhealthy ways to try and elicit empathy and compassion from Pete, with no success.  I know there is a compassionate person inside of him, I've seen it.  But there is absolutely nothing I can do to force it out.

Choosing to offer him love and compassion is a choice I make with no strings attached, no expectations, no emotional ties to outcomes.  Just a gift of love that I can give when I am emotionally strong enough to give it.  Which, I'm not sure if I am, today.

20 November 2014

Getting Well

Saatchi Online Gallery, KwangHo Shin
I just want to straight up own something.  I have not been healthy. I have watched pathetically as I've seen Pete slip out of recovery all the while I was slipping out of recovery.  I'm not sure how or why it happened, I seriously thought I knew better, but all of the sudden I found myself in an emotional and mental frenzy.  My composure, my happiness, even my ability to function day to day was totally entangled with the behavior of other people.  Call it what you want, but I am just going to call it codependency.

I know not everyone relates to that, but it's real to me.  Not every person who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic, and not every person married to an addict is a codependent.  But I am.  And giving it a name gives me such a sense of relief, that now I know what I'm dealing with.

Addiction is a family disease, and I think that means that living with an addict is likely to make family members sick. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically unhealthy.

I love and believe in betrayal trauma.  It is validating and compassionate and kind.  But I can't stay there forever or else I will perpetually be justified in my victim-hood.  Self-pity is a character defect for me, it incapacitates me.  My goal isn't to be uninfluenced by those around me, in particular those I love.  My goal is to be able to FUNCTION within the feelings that will naturally come with my relationships.  Hurt and disappointment will inevitably be a part of my existence. I just want to be strong enough to cope with them.

During and after the Al-Anon meeting when the fog was lifting from my head a little bit I could see how unhealthy I had been.  I was STILL trying to control Pete, I am much more subtle these days but I allowed myself to become preoccupied with his recovery or lack thereof.  My mother-in-law recently visited and looking back I can see how I totally engaged in the drama triangle with her.  I let her behavior ruin my mood, sometimes my day, and even my experiences.  Sometimes just parts of her personality made me feel nasty inside. I was consistently resenting her, resenting my circumstances, wanting so badly for things that I can't control to be different.  The serenity prayer feels so cliche to me now, but isn't it just so TRUE?

I can't live in anger forever, willing my anger to change things I can not change.  I don't want to be endlessly confused about what I can control or influence and what I can not.  And I especially don't want to live in fear.  Fear of what people will think of me.  Fear of having porn addiction in my life forever.  Fear of being hurt.

It's from this slightly healthier place that I'm making my blog public again.  I know that making it private was in part a punishment to Pete, a form of manipulation.  It was also based in fear, that what I wrote would make him more unwell.  Unfortunately some of the things I wrote came from my broken brain, but that's okay. I'll leave them as they are.

I talked to him this morning and told him that whatever I write here is what it is.  And it needs to be his responsibility to decide whether or nor to read it, and what to do with the feelings it gives him if he does read it.

So that's that. Sorry for my drama.  Hopefully I'm back on the path to sanity, serenity and contentment.  

19 November 2014

Perspective

I actually took these photos. Isn't that crazy? I was actually in Paris! 
I went to an Al-Anon meeting last Saturday.  It's almost funny.  If you would have asked the 16 year old me, or the 20 year old me, or even the 30 year old me, if I ever imagined myself at an Al-Anon meeting I would have been completely bewildered by the question.

For some reason accepting that my husband is a sex addict happened so gradually that I guess there was never a drastic moment where I was shocked to find myself at a 12 step meeting.  But there aren't really any 12 step meetings in the city where I'm living, besides Al-Anon, so per my therapist's suggestions, Al-Anon it was.  (No, Pete has not taken up drinking as far as I know...)

That meeting drastically changed my trajectory.  It was so amazing. I got weepy from the moment I walked in, from the courage and vulnerability of everyone in that room, the utter, unapologetic honesty and the compassion that made me feel like I was high.  (Ironic, huh?)

The things that were shared, the reminders of ideas and concepts I've learned and then neglected, it felt like home and it was so wonderful.  It really is a sacred space, and for all the joking that goes on in t.v. and film about 12 step meetings, it is a remarkable place, that can only be understood by the those who have lived a rock bottom and then discovered acceptance, validation and liberation.

**********

A few weeks ago I was in Paris.  As we approached the Eiffel Tower Pete and I remarked about the park landscape.  Why there was grass there, and not here... silly things.  We waited in line and rode the elevator to the top with our children.

The first stop is the first viewing deck. It's high, for sure, and from there I could see the pattern of the landscape in the park.

"Ohhhh! I get it.  It makes sense from up here.  There is a design that can't be fully appreciated from ground level."

Then we took the lift to the upper viewing deck.  From 1,000 feet up everything was even more orderly.  Building complexes, street patterns, city archicture, landscape design,  It all made so much more sense from up there.


***********

Al-Anon was like a ride in the elevator for me.  I could look back on the last few weeks, and even months, with better clarity and perspective.

Oh I see... THAT is why I felt that why... Of course- no wonder this was happening...  There is definitely a pattern there...

And then I can trust; trust in a grand design.  An even Higher Power, with an even broader perspective.  There is so much that doesn't make sense from down here.  But I know, I KNOW there is a better way to live than obsessing about why things aren't the way I would make them if I really could control and manage.

And the view really is beautiful when I get the space I need to see it.  And I feel relief.  And I feel hope.  And I feel loved and adequate and strong again.

13 November 2014

The Balm of A Good Therapist

I had a therapy appointment last night with my therapist from back home, via Skype.  It was so good. He offers a great blend of empathy, knowledge and humor that keeps me from taking myself too seriously, which I'm likely to do in therapy.

My primary goal from the sesssion was to hear him tell me I'm not crazy, and I'm not over-reacting. About 47 minutes into our conversation he hadn't said those things yet.  So finally I just asked him

"Why won't you just TELL me I'm not crazy?"

He chuckled and then got straight with me.

"Because I'm afraid that if I tell you, you won't do the work to figure it out yourself."

Recovery, wellness, healing, mental health.  It's like a bank account he explained to me.  When I "do the work" of self-care, therapy, support groups, study, meditation, etc, I am making deposits in my bank account, and together Pete and I make deposits in our marital account.  Then when a crisis comes along we can take out a withdrawal, NBD.

When we moved here, to our new home, our life was simple and lovely.  Our first few weeks here were like a holiday where we spent time together, there were no demands for our time, and his company was giving us a daily monetary cash flow.  We were virtually stress free.  Our simple life required no withdrawals of our "wellness" bank account.  But we made no deposits either.  We didn't go to meetings or have therapy appointments, we saw no need.  We were happy.

Then Pete went back to work.  I got lonely.  He got stressed.  Culture shock.  Homesickness.

Withdrawal. Withdrawal.  Withdrawal.

I could see the writing on the wall, the account was emptying fast. I asked Pete to make some deposits, but he wasn't willing and I didn't make any myself.  Until the next thing I knew I was so emotionally bankrupt that I think I hit another rock bottom of powerlessness all over again a few nights ago.

Last night my therapist pointed out that I'm trying to manage Pete's recovery again - which of course is unmanageable.  But I'm also trying to manage Pete's perception of me.  Which is, also unmanageable.

"I've seen you when you are happy Jane, and I can see you are not happy.  But I know you know how to be happy, or at least at peace, even when Pete is in his addiction.  Let's get you there again."


10 November 2014

Feelings Aren't Fact

On my good day (you'll notice that I only mention one good day) I had a realization, with the help of friends.

In recovery I always hear the phrase "feelings are not facts."  This phrase is helpful to me when I find myself in a funk, and I can use it as a reminder.  When I feel like I'm alone.  When I feel like a failure. When I feel hopeless.  When I feel like life is just too hard.  I can remind myself that these are feelings, and they are not facts.  This doesn't mean that they don't feel very real to me or that they cease to be painful, but that they aren't my truth.  And then I can sort through them, find truth, and cling to it.

Well I realized that Pete's feelings aren't facts either.  The things he shared with me are the way he feels, not actual reality.  But his feelings are as real to him as mine are to me.  I can look at his feelings and see how they are not true- he feels like I assault his character.  He feels like my behavior is making his life miserable.  And I can take comfort that his feelings aren't facts.  What I can't do, is convince him that his feelings aren't based in truth.  I can't take responsibility for it, and I can't even do it out of love.  He has to sort through his feelings on his own, and figure out where truth is, and then cling to it.

Pete's feelings are very real to him.  This doesn't mean they are true.  And it doesn't mean they aren't going to be hurtful to me.

09 November 2014

Set Free



The morning after Pete unloaded on me I woke up feeling really good.  In many ways I felt like a big burden had been lifted from me.  Like I was cut loose from the chains that connected us.  He was breaking free from me and it felt good to let him go!

I think Pete did need to break free from me.  I think he did it in a really cruel way, by being dishonest with himself about me.  I think he is disconnected from reality, which is likely the result of his addiction and other things like depression and stress.  As a result he sees himself as a victim, me the perpetrator, and he sees the circumstances of his happiness and something beyond his control.

But by detaching from me I feel like he frees me from that responsibility, maybe even in his own mind.  I am hopeful that now, on his own, he can take responsibility for his own happiness.  This was something I discovered in my own experience.  Last year when I detached I stopped asking for him for anything.  I didn't ask for help with the kids, or mowing the lawn and I was even able to use my own income so that I didn't have to ask for money when I wanted it.  It was so good for me to have that independence, to realize how much I was capable of, to take responsibility for my own happiness.  And it all felt really good. It felt good to do things for myself, to be responsible and to show up.  It felt good to stop being the victim.

This may or may not happen for Pete, but for some reason I spent that whole day feeling like all that pressure to handle things the right way, the feeling that he was watching and internalizing my every move, and the feeling that I was responsible for his feelings, it was gone.  It all disappeared when he blamed me the way he did. It's like he was leaning on me for so long, desperate for my love and acceptance, always believing that it would bring him happiness. But in rejecting me for the way he perceives I have treated him, he set me free. As if to say "You are are not working out for me. I'm done with you." To which I was responding

"FINE! That's fantastic! I don't want your passwords and I don't want your check-ins, I don't even want your feelings."

I know it sounds spiteful, and it was a bit, but it was also incredibly liberating.

08 November 2014

It's all MY fault of course

by Lord Leighton- a current favorite of mine

After I told Pete that the cruel things he says to me are as painful as if he had hit me, he got really angry.  We didn't talk for a few days.  Then he sat me down a couple nights ago and said the following things.

He is not happy in our marriage, that for the last 3-4 years he has been getting deeper and deeper into a dark and awful place, and even though he knows he has made some bad choices, it is because of me that he is full of self-loathing and shame.
He said the way I continually disrespect him is not what God wants for him, and that as he looks back over the years he doesn't think he has been emotionally abusive or even reckless with my feelings.
He says my regular assaults on his character are dramatized and over-reactions and he can't be in a relationship with someone who treats him that way.

He says he can no longer and will no longer tell me anything about his recovery, he asked me to disable the restrictions on his phone so that I am completely uninvolved.
He said he has a perpetual knot in his stomach because of the way I demean him and blame everything on his addiction.
He said that no matter how hard he tries, it is never good enough for me.  

I listened to him, and I actually felt calm.  His demeanor was reasonable, collected and deliberate.  (He didn't seem crazy at all, which makes it all the more confusing when I look back on it later, because one of us is crazy, and if it's not him, it's me, right?)  He said it all and then when he was done he asked if I had anything to say.  I told him I wasn't exactly clear on what he was asking of me but to let me know if he needed any boundaries and I would respect them.  

I walked away, and then all my doubts started flooding my brain. 

Am I over-reacting? Do I keep making things a bigger deal than they are? Do I assualt his character? Have I taken his blame too personally? Am I destroying our marriage? 

Fortunately I've worked through these things before and I have good friends to talk me down.  So I gradually talked myself through his arguments. 

1- In the last 3-4 years there have been really good times, when Pete was in recovery and we were both willingly working toward a healthier relationship.  Pete's life is not all darkness, he has many blessings and beautiful children.  And I am never responsible for his happiness or unhappiness. 

2- Pete has been at the very least, reckless with my feelings, and as far as emotional abuse, I don't want to split hairs.  But he has blamed, manipulated, criticized and lost his temper with me in very hurtful ways.  In the throes of his addiction he is also incapable of empathy and compassion, resulting in more hurtful accusations and a general lack of appreciation for my feelings. 

3- I can not recall assaulting Pete's character.  In the past six months the most I have mentioned about his addiction is my concern about his lack of recovery plan or recovery behaviors/actions.  We have had less than a dozen conversations of this nature, and they consist mostly of me asking him questions about how he is doing/feeling, and then sharing with him my inability to re-establish trust when I don't feel ownership and empathy from him.  

Additionally, it's okay if I don't trust him. It's okay if I am cautious.  That is part of the wreckage of his addiction, and when he is recovery he recognizes that. 

4- I have never insisted on being involved in his recovery, at least not in the last two years. 

5- I have to admit that I do blame many of our marital struggles on his addiction.  It is the root of so much pain for me, which means I have to work hard at forgiveness, trust, vulnerability, etc.  But in the last few months I have spoken very little with him about porn, I have been more concerned with his mental well-being in general, and the way his issues affect me and our family.

6- In order for him to have any credibility when he uses the phrase "no matter how hard I try" I would have to be actually convinced that he was trying.  I've seen him try hard, I've seen him make personal sacrifices of time and pride, I've seen him step out of his comfort zone, I've seen what it looks like when he is trying hard.  And since we moved abroad, I haven't seen much of that at all.  

These are the things I keep reminding myself.  Ever since our "chat" Pete has been Mr. Nice Guy.  Acting like nothing is wrong, treating me like I am a gentle, fragile flower.  It feels so condescending and confusing and it makes me angry, which makes me feel even more like I am the crazy one and he is the reasonable, stable one.  

Why I had to do this.


As I read through your emails yesterday my heart started to grow- just like the Grinch in Dr. Seuss’s Christmas tale.  I think it grew two sizes for each warm, loving and supportive message I received.  Something in my head clicked and I realized that I matter, and that is always a wonderful feeling.  Thank you so much for that during this time where I am feeling like I don’t matter to the one human being that I ought to matter most to. 

When I started my blog I had two purposes-
1      1-  A place to write out my feelings, a journal of sorts. 
2      2- A place where other women could come and feel validated. 

Pete has read my blog more or less since the beginning.  There have been long periods of time when he doesn’t read it, because it triggers him and creates resentments for him, toward me.  When he is healthy he is aware of that, and so he avoids it. 

I don’t know if he reads it now or not- but when he isn’t healthy I’m not comfortable with him reading my innermost thoughts.  I have fears about him using what I write here against me, and when I am unhealthy, I try to protect him from my feelings because I don’t want to upset him or make him angry with me. 

In addition, when I write here I want anyone who reads it to know they are getting the read deal, the raw emotions, the actual feelings, not some sugar-coated, censored post where I tip-toe around to protect Pete’s feelings. 

Right now my communication with my husband is lousy.  We have a truce to not discuss anything related to recovery- which means we aren’t talking about what I write here, which probably isn’t good for us.  I just feel uneasy about him having this back-alley way into my soul. 


So there you have it- if you’re reading, thanks for coming along.  

05 November 2014

Private

My dear friends - I really hate doing this, but for the time being I think I need to make this blog private.  I want to continue to write here, but I really want to do it uncensored and without fear. I think you all understand how inconvenient recovery choices can sometimes be, but I feel like this is what I need.

Please don't hesitate to email and I'll send you an invite. (I know that's annoying and sometimes a little uncomfortable. I don't have any delusions about how important I am to anyone else.)  Hopefully I can return to the public realm soon, as it is my nature to be inclusive.

Love to all-

{hisstrugglemystruggle at gmail dot com}

**POST EDIT: Bear with me while I figure this out. I'll wait until tomorrow before I make the switch.

My Core Sample

I love this

Earlier this fall, after a fun and adventurous summer, I found myself in a funk of utter loneliness when my kids went back to school. Making friends in this new place hasn't been as easy as I was hoping.  Culture and demographics have been obstacles and for days I found myself desperate for some face to face connection.  I am a woman who NEEDS friendship.  But I came across this quote from poet John O'Donohue and I decided to embrace this lonely time in my life as a chance to discover myself. 

“When you cease to fear your solitude, a new creativity awakens in you. Your forgotten or neglected wealth begins to reveal itself. You come home to yourself and learn to rest within. Thoughts are our inner senses. Infused with silence and solitude, they bring out the mystery of inner landscape.”

********************
I remember hearing a talk at church when I was in college where the speaker talked about a “core sample”, which is a mining technique where a drill goes into the rock and retrieves a shaft of the stone for scientists to analyze the content of the rock, to determine its value. 

I’ve been thinking about what a core sample of ME would look like.  What am I made of?  What parts of my identity belong to my soul?  What bits of Jane can never be taken away? 

This is what I came up with.  And I would really love it if anyone else wants to join me.  Email me your core sample.  I would love to read it. Discover yourself.  What bits of you will always remain intact even if everything else falls apart?

*******************
My soul is the offspring of a divine Father and Mother, whose love and affections fill me with joy and are manifested in many, or all, of the things that speak to my soul.  My inherent worth comes because of this relationship.  I am entitled to communication and connection with my spiritual creator. 

My soul yearns for connection and love from other humans, wherever I go.  It mourns with the tribulations of those I love and others I’ve never met.  It revels in the joy observed in the lives of others, known and unknown to me.

My body and soul feel most connected when I run and when I practice yoga.  Running empowers me, fills my soul with confidence and strength, and moments of pure glee.

Yoga clears my head, amplifies my spiritual inklings, and gives me peace.

My soul loves Earth and nature.  It cringes with the death of living creatures and it glows with fields and trees.  Rivers are the resting place of my soul.  Sunshine is like helium in a balloon, it inflates and lifts my soul.

My intellect speaks in logic and reason, my soul speaks in faith.

I consider myself a pacifist. I believe I’m incapable of killing. 

I am inspired by music, everything from Enya to Sean Kingston, Yo-Yo Ma, Alicia Keys, Debussy and Journey.

I am kind.  I am free.  I am longing.  I am earnest and sensitive.  I am friendly and accommodating. I am sentimental.

My soul is a travel warrior, ever daydreaming of road trips and international adventures.  I crave new scenery, new cultures, new foods.   


I am capable of overcoming, loving, learning and succeeding.  

*******************

Watch this video and see how Glennon discovered herself. 

And this poem...

A Blessing of Solitude
by John O’Donohue
May you recognize in your life the presence, power and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone,
that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you
intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
that behind the facade of your life there is something
beautiful, good, and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride,
and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

04 November 2014

Take Two or thirty or 1000 - Part II

Sandro Botticelli 

When I came home from my perilous midnight walk, one hand on my cell phone and one hand on my keys, Pete was waiting for me.  He apologized and said he'd felt awful about how he treated me.

He was genuine and I appreciated the apology.  I've been trying the last few months NOT to detach. Detaching is so instinctive for me, and I've been resisting it because I believe in vulnerability and I want physical and emotional intimacy in my marriage.  

We left on vacation a few days later and I tried to take a couple opportunities to be affectionate and engaged with Pete.  Then one morning we woke up and things felt off.  Some circumstances of our travel had me emotionally raw, and I think I was still feeling a little fragile from the earlier episode.  The whole day was muddled and we were irritable with each other.  That night when we tried to talk about it Pete started spilling out blame and frustrations about me.  At first I trusted my gut- I knew it was addict talk, I KNEW I should walk away, avoid the bait.  But then I bit. I just thought that somehow I could make him see, if I just found the right words I could prove his "unwellness" to him.  It ended badly.  Doesn't it usually?  I said I felt unsafe and he said 

"I hate it when you say that.  It's not like I've ever hit you." 

But he may as well have.  My head was reeling and my heart was pounding and I triggered badly.  

This time, on the bathroom floor of our hotel room I sobbed and prayed.  

"God- all I know how to do is what I've been learned so far.  All I have is the knowledge I've been given.  If I'm doing it wrong please let me know - But I have to get out of his car."  

**********************

I can't quite remember who gets the credit for this analogy- but it's one of my favorites.  

As WoPA we ride along beside our husbands in the car.  He starts to drive like a maniac and we feel afraid, our hearts race and we beg him to slow down, watch the road, act responsibly.  He ignores our pleas, there is anguish in his madness, he is driven by an unseen force.  Then we crash.  The ambulance arrives and he is surrounded by EMTs and officers, willing to help him.  Bruised and bloodied we are ignored.  After he receives support and medical attention he gets back in the car and at last we are noticed! But wait-

"Get back in the car" they say.  "He is better now" they say.  

So I did.  And then I started to notice he was being a bit reckless around the corners, and getting carried away with his speed.  I asked him gently, softly if he should stop, if he needs a break or a deep breath.  I'm ignored and dismissed.  

I don't feel safe anymore.  I know how this ends.

**********************

I have to get out of the car.  It might be a lack of courage, a lack of willingness to get bruised and bloodied again, I might be operating out of fear.  But I have to get out.  

At this present moment I am incapable of having a partnership with a man who is incapable of offering me compassion, empathy, trust.  He has great potential, I have seen Pete in recovery and he is a man worthy of the most tender parts of me. But when he is not in recovery or not seeking help, my offerings of love and affection will never be enough to fill his void.  In the throes of his addiction he is a black hole to my endearments and generosity. Sucking, taking, gulping, swallowing, and remaining always unsatisfied.  My vulnerability feels like pearls before swine; unnoticed, unappreciated, trampled.  

There was no apology after our last argument.  I can feel his resentments toward me oozing out his pores.  There is so much anger.  

On the bathroom floor as my breath slowed, I felt God ask me to surrender his son.  So I did.  And I try to each moment, each awkward passing in our home and each empty glance and uncomfortable exchange.  

02 November 2014

Take Two, or three or four or thirty? - Part I

Credit
Since we moved abroad Pete has slowly been slipping out of recovery.  We knew this could happen.  We knew the move would be hard for him. He came here and had to start over. No group, no sponsor, no therapist.  He started going to meetings - but lately even those seem to not be a priority in his shedule.

Every few weeks we would talk about it and I would express concern, but I was usually dismissed.  Finally one night, about a week ago the conversation came up and I asked him

"Are you saying you don't want to be in recovery?"

To which he responded

"I don't want to be in recovery for you."

Which I heard as

"You're not worth it."

Logically I know that's not what he meant, but it stung nonetheless.  It really stung.

I left the house and walked for awhile and thought about how desperately I wanted to be over this. Done with it.  I want so badly to have a healthy, close relationship with him.

But Pete is not in recovery anymore.  He might be a dry drunk, he maintains his sobriety, but I don't trust him.

That is so disappointing.  It hurts my pride to think that I am back to fighting old battles with myself and my addict.  I think I was starting to believe I had influence, even control.  But as I walked under the street lamps the other night I gave myself a pep talk.

You can do this.  You have tools. You have intuition.  You have knowledge.  You don't have to trust him.  You don't have to doubt yourself. You can't convince him of anything.  You are going to be okay.  You don't have to prove anything to him or take ownership of his recovery.  You can make mistakes.  You can do it wrong and then start over.  You don't have to fear him.  You mustn't feel ashamed.  You can do this.  

Deep breath. Here we go.

Step one. I am powerless over the addiction of my loved one.

28 September 2014

Acknowledging the After Effects of Detachment

Source
One year ago this October began the end of my Epic Detachment.  I had spent the summer working on emotional independence and had found a safe and easy place in my marriage that didn't require any risk or vulnerability and I liked it there.

But when autumn came Pete had some solid recovery under his belt and I started to feel a draw to engage into a relationship with him.  He wasn't so volatile and I could sense that he wanted to reconnect, and he was learning ways to have empathy and compassion and ownership of his wreckage.

It has been a year of ups and downs, as most years are, but Pete and I have been working to stay connected and I have been making efforts to be vulnerable and take risks.  Opening my heart means it might get hurt again, and that's scary.  I've heard women talk about living with open hearts without getting hurt but I haven't mastered that art yet.  (Suggested readings?)

It's autumn again and I'm finding myself stuck.  Pete has three months of sobriety, which seems to be the new length of his cycle and I'm feeling anxious about an impending relapse.  Is it my gut? Or is it fear?

The truth is- my place of detachment was safe, and I find that it's a daily effort to avoid going there.  I KNOW that risk brings reward, and that a physically and emotionally intimate relationship with my husband is  both risky and rewarding.

It used to be my default to rely on Pete, to NEED him, to long for him and crave his attention and validation.  But detachment, for better or worse, cured me of those feelings and now I find myself defaulting to emotional independence.  I think this applies in all relationships, when we are hurt or betrayed we shut down and withdraw and we do it to protect ourselves.  But then eventually we find that we are surrounded by walls and there is no one that can get in.  I want to let Pete back in, but I'm scared and out of practice. I don't know how to be vulnerable with him, naturally.  I am tired of being suspicious and jaded, I almost long for the naivete that I had when I married him and gave myself so willingly and wholeheartedly.  

I love seasons. I love watching the physiological and scientific processes of the earth unfold. I got to thinking about what the purposes are for each season when I discovered that the seasons don't fulfill a purpose so much as they make the best of the circumstances.  For example, winter wasn't necessarily designed to accomplish something, it is the effect of the earth's position in regard to the sun, and earth has simply accommodated.

Summer has become the season of growth, fall the season of shedding, and spring offers rebirth. I love fall- it is such a great reminder to me that change can be beautiful.

I've been naive, and that was okay. I've been vulnerable and it was lovely. Until it wasn't.  I've been detached and it was a season of peace.  It was the way I accommodated to my circumstances.  Until it was time for a new season.

I'm not sure what new hybrid of vulnerability and detachment awaits me - but something is coming and I am sure it will be just the change the earth of my spirit needs to continue onward, surviving, reinventing, thriving and then starting over.

09 August 2014

Flashbacks


Last night Pete and I were lying in bed and discussing the past.  Specifically I was telling him about the times when his cycle was so predictable I would almost just wish he would look at the damn porn and then get on with it.  Because after the relapse was always the honeymoon phase of the humble and repentant husband.  

But right before the relapse, that was when he was cruel and irrational and would criticize and blame me. 
Last night I was telling him how difficult those times were, the fear I lived in and the hurt and the frustration at the predictability of his addiction.  I sighed and said

“It was so hard.”

“Yeah” he said “2013 was hell.”

I thought about that for a minute and responded “2013 was hard for sure, but in a different way.  In 2013 I was the master of detachment and I at least knew how to keep myself safe and removed from your cycle.  It was lonely, but it wasn’t nearly as frightening or hurtful or confusing.  It was the years before that, those were hell.”

In the darkness it was quiet for a moment and Pete said  “If you were hurting you didn’t show it.”

I laughed a kind of half-hearted, ironic laugh.  “No. You just didn’t notice it.”

Then my mind took me back and painful memories started to play out in my mind, like flashbacks.  It wasn’t like a trigger, where the pain and feelings come rushing in whether you want them or not.  It was more deliberate and I let myself go there, to that place in the dark recesses of my memory.  Then I started to cry. 

Pete could tell my mood had shifted and said “Years? You make it sound like…”

But I interrupted him.  This was my moment to open his eyes to my memory.  Because all of the sudden it occurred to me that he really didn’t notice my grief during all that time. He was totally living in his own head, devoid of empathy as most addicts are. 

“It was just a couple years.  It started that weekend we were at your grandparents house when you had your new smartphone and you looked at porn in the bathroom and then told me about.  [Our baby] was only a few weeks old and that night I slept, but mostly cried, on a recliner in the basement with [baby] in my arms.”
Then I started to cry more and couldn’t stop or talk. 

I wish I could go back to that night, and hug and hold the me of those years.  This is what I would say.


Dear dear Jane.  I’m so sorry for your pain. I wish I could take away the breathtaking fear and the debilitating hurt.  But there are things in store for you.  You are going to learn.  So much.  People: therapists, experts, friends and strangers are going to come into your life and teach you just what you need to cope and thrive.  You will become more familiar with your own character and inadequacies but also your potential and worth.  You are going to become stronger and more confident.  You are going to practice bravery and courage.  You are going to make and nurture amazing friendships; that will make your heart GROW with new levels of love and compassion.  You are going to change.  And you are going to look back at how far you’ve come, even in the face of what is still ahead of you, and feel proud and grateful.  

27 July 2014

More of the Same

Credit
Last Sunday, one week ago, I sat in a bathroom, in a new home, in a new country, and cried the same tears I've cried around the world in my old bathroom.

The feelings were exactly the same.  So much had changed and yet an old familiar pain and discouragement overcame me.  No airplane could take me away from that pain.  No distance could quell it.  No ocean could separate me from it.

Pete had relapsed, which I had handled well enough I suppose, but something inside me was demanding that I withdraw and so I told him that I didn't feel safe and I couldn't be emotionally connected without trust.  He didn't appreciate that and I triggered into my old feelings of being unheard and misunderstood.

The thing is- this stuff doesn't go away for Pete and me. I'm not sure why. I had big dreams of starting a new life here, and although I didn't have any real evidence that all of the sudden Pete would quit relapsing, of course I longed for it.

But the other things is- I'm going to be okay. This is my load.  It gives me spiritual traction, it brings humility and compassion. Pete is going to be okay.  His load is changing him too, as he recovers we are learning healthier ways to communicate and love.

"There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do." - David A. Bednar

09 July 2014

Dear C-

WHOA! Two months.  What happened to me?

Well, we moved to another country.  It's been too many things to begin to describe it, but it's a net positive.

I'd like to come back and write again, I am still working out my internet and a million other details of my life, but in the meantime I just wanted to respond to an email I received three days ago.  I tried to reply and the email was returned, the address no longer exists.

So Dear C-

If you are reading, I would love to be your friend.  I understand how heavy of a burden this secret can be.  I haven't even told my own parents because sometimes I want to and sometimes I don't. Hang in there.

Jane

18 May 2014

It Really IS All About Love

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For reasons that I’m sure stem back to my family of origin, I used to be a sinner-phobe.  I became wildly uncomfortable with friendships that involved people who didn't see exactly as I saw, or who made choices I couldn't understand.  I surrounded myself with people who were practically just like me; good Mormon friends who never talked about anything REAL.  And in the meantime I was completely denying myself any opportunity to understand what it really meant to love someone who wasn't a family member.

Then a friend of mine had an affair.   There was a distinct moment when I was sitting in my car outside her house prepared to go inside and COMPEL her back to being just like me, when I had a strong impression to NOT do that. 

Then my husband spiraled into his pornography addiction and I had to learn how to live with, be married to, and love a sinner. *Gasp*

Before actually having any people in my life who made spiritually debilitating decisions, it was so easy to sit in church and rattle off platitudes about “hate the sin, love the sinner.”  Whereas in reality I found myself incapable of setting aside my fears, insecurities and self-righteousness to truly love "sinners" (read: people who aren't just like me).  And I’m not just talking about adulterers and sex addicts.  This naive and pious goody-goody had trouble accepting people and feeling genuine charity toward much less grievous offenders.

Then one weekend I met up with a group of women who were everything I was afraid of.  They cussed and they used phrases like “blow-jobs.”  They weren't virgins before marriage or they weren't sure they had testimonies at all.  They turned my world upside down because they were the best friends I had ever had.  Without any deliberate effort, my heart changed.  Immediately I could love them, which opened my eyes to the possibility that I had never really known how to love.   

And then it happened again, and again.  At camps and events and through emails.  My heart began brimming over with what I really believe is charity, for all different types of people.  And it has been the most fulfilling experience of my life.

I recently finished the book The God Who Weeps.  It was the second time I’d read the first four chapters, and they were a spiritual journey for me.  But it was the first time I had read the fifth and final chapter.  I finished it on an airplane, flying through the skies on my way to New York, and when I closed the book I wiped away tears of gratitude and insight. 

T. and F. Givens laid out with perfect clarity why my relationships with my WOPA friends have changed my life.  We are relational creatures.  Our greatest happiness comes from meaningful friendships.  When we are most loving, we make ourselves vulnerable to pain.  Our faith is nothing when it doesn't motivate us to consider our obligations to our fellow humans. 

“However rapturous or imperfect, fulsome or shattered, our knowledge of love has been, we sense it is the very basis and purpose of our existence.

What we may have thought was our private pathway to salvation, was intended all along as a collaborative enterprise, though we often miss the point.

When we find we have attained our authentic stature, and only in such authenticity, will we be free to engage in relationships with authentic others.  As we engage in those relationships, we find once again that the perfect community of love enhances, rather than diminishes our differences. Love is what occurs in the face of difference, not sameness…


The divine nature of man, and the divine nature of God, are shown to be the same – they are rooted in the will to love, at the price of pain, but the certainty of joy.” 

13 May 2014

Part II - Needs, progress, etc.

Pete got really sick on Saturday, and I was mostly keeping a safe distance from him.   At one point I went into our bedroom where he was crashed out on the bed, vulnerable, humble and physically and emotionally broken.  He sobbed as he told me that he was defeated.  He knew he had to surrender the embarrassment he felt when I told people about the reality of our life.  He said that he knew God wanted him to really be humble, but he had no idea how to BE humble.  He said he only had one option, and that was to overcome this, but right now it felt too hard.  He said he knew he was still holding on to control but he didn’t know HOW to let go.

My anger started to soften as he offered a little bit of his soul to me. And I told him about the gaps in my life that I could see had closed.  The chasm from where I once had been to where I was now. And I didn’t know HOW they had closed, just that they had.  And that there were still gaps I needed to close.  I still see an improved version of myself on the next ridge ahead. 

But I believe that he will cross that canyon too.  Someday he will look back at that day in the bed, about the conversations with me, about his fears and shame, and he will see that he isn’t that person anymore.   He might not be able to say when or what changed, but that he is different.

I feel differently about needs now.  I think of them as the tools I use to get from here to there.  I’m careful to define my needs in terms of things I can control.  I can pick them up, and set them down. I can trade them in for new ones.   And hopefully sooner rather than later, I can grow from being told which tools to use, to being capable of managing my own belt. 


I need to have people who are on the inside of my reality. I need to feel loved and accepted. I need support and kindness. I need quality time with people who I can be honest with. I need independence to make decisions without being manipulated.  I need therapy. I need validation.  I need to be SEEN and HEARD.  I need to read about recovery. I need to talk about recovery. I need someone in my family to be gentle with me.  I need friends to go to when I need space from my husband.  I need community.


12 May 2014

Discovering Needs and Closing Gaps Part I

This post is hopelessly long and disconnected.  Sorry.

******************
Credit


I’ve seen and heard a lot about “needs” and “non-negotiables.” I never made a list of my own.  I think it might have been out of fear. What if I write out a list of my needs, and then they aren’t met? What if my list gets trampled on or ignored?  What are my options then? Divorce or insanity?

And I’ve always been a firm believer that it really takes very little to make a soul free and content. 

On Tuesday I opened up to my older brother, who is the most compassionate and gentle member of my family. I’ve wanted to share with him for years and haven’t, at Pete’s request.  When I told Pete, he was upset.  I could see conflict in his furrowed brow as anger, shame and pain overcame him.  He muttered a couple weak remarks and I did my best to listen with empathy. 

The next day he acted out. He fell apart. He isolated and stewed and it caught up to him.  But by some miracle when he confessed to me on Thursday morning about his relapse I was moved with compassion and love for him, and I was able to hear his confession without personalization or grief. 

I thought about that quite a bit, about the space between how I used to respond and how I responded this time.  Somehow, somewhere, some way, I closed that gap. I changed.  I don’t know when exactly it happened or what exactly changed me. But I’m different.

I met with my new therapist that day. He is a CSAT.  (Get one!)  We talked about how it was OKAY that I had shared with my brother.  I needed to do what I needed to do to heal.  And my healing was in the best interest of my recovery, Pete’s recovery and the recovery of our marriage.  He told me to stand up for myself. He told me that when I learned to have confidence in MY needs, I wouldn’t be manipulated by Pete or anyone else.  He asked me to email him a list of my needs. I couldn’t get my head around that.  What do I need to live? Water. Food.  Sleep.  He clarified for me, and suggested that I write what I need for my recovery. 

Ahh yes.  Okay.  I need to be real with people I trust. 

That night Pete and I went to the mattresses about my need to be vulnerable and open with safe people.  I need to share my reality with people who will love and support me.   When he started to throw out words like “inappropriate” I collapsed into an old me.  That me that triggers when he sends any blame my direction. And I was angry.  Why can’t I stand up for myself?

My dear Scabs sent me this message the next day as I was trying to process. 

“[Pete] has been living pretty comfortably as a recovering addict.  He goes to meetings, connects with his guys, connects with you and the kids, and he has you pretty much living and responding to his addiction the way he feels most comfortable.  It seems like its only when you step outside of his prescribed boundary that he freaks out---out of his comfort zone and acts out.  Maybe this is an indication that he has controlled the situation more than you realize. “

She nailed it.  And as I thought about that it made me more angry.  He HAS controlled me in this. He HAS manipulated me in this.  My closest WOPA friends know that this has been a struggle from the get-go for me.  Maybe they remember that first weekend we met when I sobbed about how desperately I needed to open up and Pete had me on a leash.

I was so angry on Friday that I have done so much work to leave Pete and his addiction and his recovery to him, I don’t question or judge or criticize his life anymore.  Which is another gap I’ve closed from how I used to be and where I am.  His addiction AND recovery obviously come at a personal cost to me, I make personal sacrifices.  I’m not saying this to make myself look good, I just realized this week that I really wanted that same respect from him.  If I am capable of doing it, he should be too. 


And tell me, WHY was I able to hear him tell me that he had looked at porn and masturbated without flinching but the minute he tells me how I should or shouldn’t reach out to people, I fall to pieces?

08 May 2014

Oh The Places You'll Go!



I think one of the most popular graduation gifts has to be that Dr. Seuss book, Oh the Places You'll Go.  I wish someone would have given me a book when I got married, or when I discovered I was married to a porn addict about the places I would go.

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Dark Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the girl who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets.  Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you'll learn when you go down a not-so-good street.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry.  Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.

******************

What places have I been? I've been in the place of denial. Where I was sure what had just happened would never happen again. Relapse wasn't in my vocabulary because neither was addiction.

And I've been in a place where I sobbed and suffered.  Where I feared relapse with fervent dread.  A place where I was quite sure another relapse would be the end of my marriage or the end of my sanity.

Then I went to a place where I didn't care about relapse. He could act out today or tomorrow and I didn't care. He could never act out again or act out in two years and it made no difference to me. I was my own woman, free from any attachment to him.

And now I find myself in a new place. A place my friend told me about and invited me to. Dealing with relapses with new emotions.  A degree of acceptance.  Not of his behavior, but of him and his diligent and sincere efforts.

I've heard stories of men who were ripe and ready for recovery.  They drank it up with willing thirst.  They applied it to their lives and they have been sober ever since.  This is not my husband.  Over the years he has resisted recovery and stubbornly refused to apply it's principles to his life.  Until he couldn't resist anymore and he collapsed into the arms of SA.  But his demons seem to be stubborn and resistant too.  His road is different and his places elsewhere.

I'm okay with my place. And I'm okay with the places I've been through to get to my place. I don't discredit anyone else's place either, even if it's a place I never visit.

*************

 And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

27 April 2014

Could we have been so mistaken in the men we married?

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Our library of recovery books just keeps growing and growing.  I love to read but I can't say that I love to read recovery books.  I follow my gut and read the things that speak to me.  The other night Pete was reading to me from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and there is a chapter for wives.  I highly recommend it, especially if you are just embarking on this journey.  Ultimately the goal of the chapter is to provide guidance to wives of alcoholics, but the beginning reminded me so much of my own experiences with Pete's pornography addiction, and the experiences I've heard from friends, that I wanted to share it here.

I'm sure we don't relate to all the problems or all the feelings, but I think we can all probably relate to many of them.  What part speaks to you?

***********************
"We have traveled a rocky road, there is no mistake about that. We have had long rendezvous with hurt, pride, frustration, self-pity, misunderstanding and fear. These are not pleasant companions.  We have been driven to maudlin sympathy, to bitter resentment.  Some of us veered from extreme to extreme, ever hoping that one day our loved ones would be themselves once more. 

Our loyalty and the desire that our husbands hold up their heads and be like other men have begotten all sorts of predicaments. We have been unselfish and self-sacrificing.  We have told lies to protect our pride and our husband’s reputations. We have prayed, we have begged, we have been patient. We have struck out viciously. We have run away. We have been hysterical. We have been terror stricken. We have sought sympathy.

Our homes have been battle-grounds many an evening.  In the morning we have kissed and made up.  Our friends have counseled chucking the men and we have done so with finality, only to be back in a little while hoping, always hoping.  Our men have sworn great solemn oaths that they were through [acting out] forever. We have believed them when no else could or would.  Then, in days, weeks or months, a fresh outburst.

We came to live almost alone.

There was never financial security. Positions were always in jeopardy or gone. An armored car could not have brought the pay envelopes home. The checking account melted like snow.

Perhaps at this point we got a divorce and took the children home to father and mother. Then we were severely criticized by our husband’s parents for desertion. Usually we did not leave. We stayed on and on. 

As animals on a treadmill, we have patiently and wearily climbed, falling back in exhaustion after each futile effort to reach solid ground.

Under these conditions we naturally made mistakes. Some of them rose out of ignorance of [addiction]. Sometimes we sensed dimly that we were dealing with sick men.

How could men who loved their wives and children be so unthinking, so callous, so cruel? There could be no love in such persons, we thought.  And just as we were being convinced of their heartlessness, they would surprise us with fresh resolves and new attentions. For awhile they would be their old sweet selves, only to dash the new structure of affection to pieces once more.  It was so baffling, so heartbreaking. Could we have been so mistaken in the men we married? Sometimes they were so inaccessible that it seemed as though  great all had been built around them.


As wives of [addicts] we would like you to feel that we understand as perhaps few can. We want to leave you with the feeling that no situation is too difficult and no unhappiness too great to be overcome.”

18 April 2014

Be Kind Be Brave

Another Camp Scabs is in the books.  My cup runneth over with gratitude for the opportunity I have to meet such remarkable women. I really can’t get over that.  I’ve recently started reading Glennon Melton’s book and she talks about how we are truly living when we let our walls down and share honestly with our friends and in our relationships.  Camp has a way of making that feel natural and even though it’s not easy, it’s fulfilling. 

Thank you to all the women who have had courage to take such a risk. 

There is a tsunami coming.  I’m not sure exactly what it will look like, but it’s a wave of knowledge, empowered women, education, bravery and change.

Forgive my clich├ęs, but YOU can be a part of this wave. 

Never in my life have I been so convinced of the power of the individual.  If we have the courage to work from the bottom up, God will work from the top down.  

Years ago, before this was part of my life, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  It’s taken years for me to understand the lies of my husband’s pornography addiction. 

Unfortunately the world is full of people who still believe those lies.  They don’t know what they don’t know.  And if it took me, in my brokenness and desperation, THIS long to start to understand the truth about sexual addiction, it will surely take patience and persistence as we watch those around us learn and understand. 

But we can be the instrument of change.  There is a quote that is often attributed to Ghandi that says “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  But what Ghandi actually said was this-

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”

If it’s compassion we are looking for from the world, let’s offer more compassion to the world.  If it’s knowledge and understanding, let’s boldly share ours.

I’m not necessarily talking about shouting from the rooftops, although if that feels right to you, go with it.  I’m talking about our private conversations with our therapists, our church leaders, our friends. 

If you don't know where to begin, begin by being willing to begin. Send an email, open up to a friend, trust your gut.  


Let’s not wait to see what others do, let’s follow our hearts and share our truth.   

23 March 2014

Camp Scabs - Island Park

If I was given two months to live - I'd pack up my family and spend it in Island Park. No kidding. 


Camp Scabs Island Park
Thursday April 10- Saturday April 11

There are scholarships available. 
(Send an email to campscabs @ gmail dot com)

Campers will be carpooling from Salt Lake City, Boise, Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Logan, 
and anywhere along the way. 



11 March 2014

Making Amends to Pete

Credit
My sponsor suggested that I begin making amends with Pete.  Because, ironically, I told her that he was the person I felt safest with. (Or at least he was the person on my list who I was the least nervous about approaching.)

A few things my sponsor suggested about making amends-
-                              It’s not a time to justify or explain your behavior.  It’s not about whether what you did was right or                                 wrong, it’s just an acknowledgement that what you did caused pain.
-                              Don’t go into graphic details, don’t make it lengthy or elaborate. Keep it simple.
-                              Don’t make excuses or assign blame.

I want to be perfectly clear that I’m not sharing this because I think this is the right thing for everyone to do.  As I told a friend recently, the place to do this from is a small place.  It’s a place where I am totally confident that I am in no way responsible for Pete’s addiction.  None of the things I did to him, or none of the ways I mistreated him were the cause of his addiction.  (Despite what he may think…)

And sharing this with him wasn’t something I did to get leverage, or to change him, or to make myself submissive to him or better than him. I did this to clear my own conscience, to take personal responsibility, and to be accountable for bad habits or unkindness. 

Nevertheless, I had a lot of fear about sharing this with Pete.  I worried that he would hear this laundry list of my indiscretions toward him and he would use it to validate his resentments.  I also had a fear that he would see me as less or unworthy. 

But ultimately, because he has a least some understanding of recovery, empathy and compassion, this was a truly healing experience for us. He listened with patience and responded with gentleness.    

***************************

I’m sorry for the times I shamed and persecuted you.  I know I have said things that were deliberately hurtful in an effort to control and change you.  I understand now that shaming and persecuting were harmful to our relationship and probably very painful for you.

I’m sorry for monitoring you, nagging you, trying to find subtle ways to check up on you or make you feel guilty when you didn’t do something I thought you should have.

I’m sorry for manipulating you.  I have flung my pain at you in another effort to control and change you. 

I’m sorry for hurtful things I did in an effort to punish you. I’ve withheld love, I’ve been cold and even unkind and I’ve avoided forgiveness because I felt responsible for making you suffer as a consequence.

I’m sorry for letting your addiction be an excuse and justification for anger, irritability and unkindness. 

I’m sorry for all the hurtful things I said, or ways I looked at you, or condemned you. 

I’m sorry for the times when sharing my experience with others has made you feel humiliated or unsafe. 

I’m sorry for any other things I’ve done to try to control or change your behavior including projecting my fears and desperation onto you, making threats and demands, playing the role of victim to demonstrate how wounded I was by you. 

I’m sorry for saying unkind things about your mom, and for deliberately nurturing your own resentments toward her in an effort to feed my pride and validate my own resentments.  I’m sorry for doing this with other family relationships. 

I’m sorry for ignoring your birthday last year and denying the kids any opportunity to celebrate it with you. 

I’m sorry for compulsive or impulsive decisions I made that were either confusing or painful for you. 

I’m sorry for the pressure I placed on you and responsibility I have given you for my peace and happiness. 

I’m sorry for using shame and frustration to make you feel fearful of me.  I’m sorry for treating you in a way that made you feel guilty about spending money.

I’m sorry for times when I’ve undermined your parenting by intervening for the kids when you were trying to discipline.

I’m sorry for making my own family a greater priority than your family, and for engaging in conflicts about holidays and family time. 

I’m sorry for being deliberately difficult to communicate with at times and from having unreasonable expectations. 

I’m sorry for the things I did before we were married, parts of my past that have caused you pain.

I’m sorry that my epic detachment was the source of so much despair and anguish for you.

I’m sorry for the occasional cutting remarks, sarcastic comments, or unfair “jokes” I make about your addiction that belittle you or discredit your efforts.

I’m sorry for the time I’ve spent in self-righteous indignation and the blame I’ve repeatedly thrust on you for difficulties in our marriage. 

I’m sorry for situations where I have chosen to spend my time or direct my attention to something less important when you were wanting it. 

I’m sorry for all the times I’ve made jokes about you in front of friends or family members that were critical or embarrassing. 

I’m sorry for making assumptions about you that were unfounded or unfair.

I’m sorry for waiting for you to fail just so I could be right.