27 April 2014

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


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.