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


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


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

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.