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Boundary Agreement

Being married to a sex addict can be very difficult at times.  To help me feel safe in my marriage I chose to create a boundary agreement specific to our situation.  I'm posting my second version here (mine continues to evolve) to help others who are in a similar situation and remind them they aren't alone.  There are lots of us out there.  I hope this helps someone draft one of their own if they think they need it. Please take what you want and leave the rest.

Be well and shoot me an email if you have any questions.




I hope you understand this is not an effort to control you.  It’s a way for me to maintain trust in you so we can keep a healthy relationship.  It will also help me not to shut down when I feel like my emotional boundaries are crossed.

So, here it is, in a much healthier format than before (at least to me ;p)

Healthy Recovery:
            Your progress in your recovery has made the relationships in our house thrive, especially with the kids. Your hard work shows by how you interact with all of us, even when you feel hurt or angry. You’ve learned to explain your feelings and not isolate. I’m so proud of you.
            It would help assure me that you’re in a healthy recovery if you shared with me what inspired you, or touched you, during your meetings. Telling me what you felt and learned, versus if the meeting was crowded or uncomfortable, lets me know you’re still active in your recovery and mentally present in your meetings. I know I’m smart, but I still can’t read minds. Not yet, anyway.
            If I don’t see any change, or that change happens and then slips backwards again, I’m going to have to end our relationship. I feel I’ve been patient, and I can’t stay if things stay the same. Work your recovery like our marriage depends on it, because it does.

Lying: 
            Please be honest with me. I feel being lied to is worse than what the actual truth may be. Whether it’s being deceived about a slip or a simple omission about an everyday event, not being told the truth the first time around or having to dig for information hurts. It causes me to lose trust and not want to be affectionate. Then that causes you to withdraw and before we know it, we’re stuck in an unhealthy cycle. Neither of us wants that. I know we can make our marriage work if we keep working on it.
            The damage from the past makes any lie, big or small, equal to the same thing for me and causes me to go back to that hurtful place from years ago. As the sayings go, “It’s better to be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie” and “The worst thing about being lied to is knowing you weren’t worth the truth.” Lies just suck and they destroy my trust and faith in you.
            I ask for honesty during our first conversation about whatever it may be. If I don’t get the truth, or if I have to pry it out of you before you tell me what’s going on, I will enforce a consequence. 
            If you aren’t transparent or keep secrets from me, I want you to sleep in the other room for two nights. If lying or omitting the truth becomes frequent, I’ll have to end our relationship. I can’t handle being continually lied to. It makes me feel like I’m not worth anything to you. And I know that’s not true. I know you love me and want our marriage to flourish just like I do.

Slips and relapses:
            I need you to understand I am a safe person to come to if you slip. Whether it’s porn, masturbation, or anything else in your inner circle, I’m at a place in my recovery where I can handle it and won’t judge you for it. I promise not to scream, cry, or attack you. Those days have long since passed and I know you deserve better.
            I understand there are potentials for slips, but I expect full transparency and to be told when they happen. I ask that you tell me either the day it happens, or the day after. If you forget, then the consequence will be sleeping in the other room for three nights and only basic affection (kiss goodbye, etc). 
            While this may seem extreme, to me it’s an extension of lying and deceit. When a slip happens and you don’t tell me, it causes me undue anxiety that causes me to trigger and become hypervigilant, and that’s an unhealthy place for me. It also makes me feel like you’re not in a good place in your recovery, and I deserve to know that.
            If you tell me right away, there won’t be any consequences. I understand slips may occur. I just want honesty about them. We’re a team. The more honest we are with each other, the more emotionally connected we’ll continue to be.
            I also ask that you figure out why you slipped. As our counselor said, slips don’t just happen. There are reasons behind them whether it’s stress, boredom, or anger; it’s up to you to figure it out, so you can prevent them. If your slips become a relapse, then I will have to leave. We are at a point in our recoveries where relapses shouldn’t happen. Especially with me not knowing what’s going on. The more we work together, the happier we’ll each be in our relationship.

Emotional and/or Physical affairs:

            It goes without saying (and yet I’m saying it anyway just to be clear), I will file for divorce the moment I find out you’ve had another affair or inappropriate contact with someone.
            I want us to succeed in our marriage. I want to be more than just cohabitants; I want us to be best friends, lovers, and supporters of one another. I know we can continue to do it, it just takes continued work on both our parts.
            Never forget how much I love you and how important you and our marriage is to me. You’re a good man, a wonderful father, and you’re more than your addiction to me.

~~~


            There’s a bit more to it, but that covers the big stuff. Feel free to use it as a guide for your own boundary agreement. Remember, you’re not punishing the addict for their addiction. You’re safeguarding yourself from it. For us, we've gotten to a place in our recoveries that this BA isn't really necessary. Now we sit and talk things over because it's been so long since he's had a slip. However, when slips were happening two, three times a year, I felt I needed to have this for my emotional well-being. Remember, everyone is different. The important thing is that you're feeling emotionally safe and secure. What works for me may not work for you, this can be used to help get you started.



~~~
For tools and tips on how I navigated my way through Relational Trauma I wrote a book, Steps Along My Shore, My Personal Tale & Tips When Discovering You're Married to a Sex Addict. Or if you have any questions, feel free to email me. Remember, you're not alone and there is hope.

Renovations: New Look, New Name, Now What?


 

If I were a big drinker, I’d open up a beer right about now. My busy time of year is finally over. No more crazy hours at work and I am so freaking happy. I worked Monday, and then handed my boss a vacation request. I'm toast. As I type this, I’m sitting in a hotel room after my traffic-filled drive so I can get my Botox injections for my migraines tomorrow, then I’ll head back home and relax the rest of the week.Yeah baby!

Since I had some spare time in the hotel room and it was too noisy to write (they’re renovating), I decided to tweak my blog again. I also renamed it and bought the domain name, “Helping Partners Of Sex Addicts Heal.”

I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with it yet, I only know that…and bear with me here...I woke up last week knowing it was something I needed to do. I prayed on it for a few days and came back with the same answer: get a new domain name.

I talked to Devin about it, and he asked why I had named my blog such an odd name to begin with and I had to admit it was fear. Fear of being found again by his affair partner. Fear our true identities would be discovered. Fear of failure. His answer, “I thought you started this new [healthy] blog as a way to help people? How are they supposed to find you under your current blog’s name?”

Good question. And since he’s the one who has the most to fear, since I no longer worry about any of his affair partner’s, and he’s okay with me renaming the blog and getting the new domain as a way to be found on Google, well then, I had no reason not to do it.

Where do I go from here? I don’t know. Do I shut down this blog and start all over again? I don’t think so. I’ve been here a long time and it was hard enough getting the followers I have, which isn't many. The new domain name redirects here so I guess that’s good.

If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, please let me know. That goes for the layout of the place too.

Have your fears stopped you from doing anything?

Disclosure


December Several Years Ago

That morning, I knew something was terribly wrong by the way Devin kissed me good-bye.  It was reminiscent of how he behaved before my first disclosure in the previous August.

I trusted my instinct and searched his computer.  After a deep search, I found porn images from that morning and the last two weeks. 

“They’re old.”  He lied when I asked him about the pictures.

That afternoon, I went apartment hunting and talked to a lawyer after insisting I wanted the truth and telling him he needed help.  When I returned home, Devin handed me a piece of paper with his secret email addresses and passwords written on it.

He confessed to thirteen online affairs in addition to the online affair I found out about in August.

The next day

I woke up the following morning and went to work as if everything at home were normal.  But, I spent more time on my cell phone searching the internet for answers about sex addiction than I did performing my actual job duties.

What I found online was disheartening.  The relapse rate for sex addicts was high.  Incredibly high.  CSAT’s (Certified Sex Addiction Therapists) were hard to come by, and I couldn’t seem to find any forums where women stayed with their husbands.  The only support forums I found were women who bashed their husbands for cheating on them. 

From an addict’s point of view, it didn’t seem conducive to me, yet it was all I had at the moment. I desperately needed to be around women who understood what I was going through. I didn’t know whether I was coming or going, but I needed people around me who “got it.”

And the day after

Devin told me about dozens of online affairs he had during the course of our marriage.  He disclosed feeling up a woman who stayed at our house one night.  I wrote it all down methodically.  It was all I knew to do.

My world crumbled as he spoke. But it would only get worse.

And then day after that

As we sat in our marriage counselor's parking lot waiting for our appointment, he disclosed more names of women he had online affairs with during the past two years.

He told me about a co-worker.  She changed in his office one time.  It sent him into a fantasy world where he pictured her flashing him.  It wasn't difficult for the short affair to begin.  They ended up taking a shower together but nothing else happened.

Next was another random stranger he met on online but this affair ended with him getting oral sex from her after they'd spent the afternoon together.  My heart crumbled.

Finally, he told me about the last physical affair. Again it was another blowjob but this time from from his friend's wife. I didn't know the couple, thankfully.  It was here where I felt the first pang of sympathy instead of anger for my husband.  It was such an odd feeling to have in the midst of such pain. Devin hung his head low with shame and tears fell as he told me what happened.

We walked upstairs to our marriage counselor’s office whose best piece of advice to us was “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Then we searched for a CSAT.  Thank God we found one.

Feeling "Insane" Is Normal




Today I’m continuing on with my series After Disclosure. The first two installments can be found here: 




You know how there are some memories in your brain that you can’t erase no matter how hard you try? You wish you could scrub them from your memory banks like burn marks with a Brillo pad, but you can’t. Those sucker are seared in there real good.



That’s how a majority of my disclosure days are with Devin. There are certain moments I can recall with such clarity, it’s like it happened yesterday, not so many years ago. I’m thankful that some of those painful memories have slipped away, but that ability to recall with such vivid detail what happened so long ago provides me with a good explanation why I felt so utterly "insane" for such a long time.



I had Relational Trauma. I suffered a form of PTSD and I had no idea that all I was going through; the anger, hurt, fear, hypervigilance, nightmares, panic attacks, loss of appetite, hyperarousal followed by not wanting to be touched or looked at, compassion for the addict, hatred of the addict, fear of certain places, and so many other things…were 100% normal.



Not only was it normal, it was expected. My brain was trying to process the fact that someone I had put my complete faith and trust in had betrayed me. I was trying to figure out how to make sense of my new world. In a matter of days, what I thought was my marriage, my future, had been flipped upside down. I was expected to have a whole new way of living. My life had been derailed and so had my brain. I was in shock.



There were moments, literally moments, that I felt compassion, then hatred for my husband in the days following disclosure. I wanted revenge, then I wanted to hug him and tell him it would be okay, we would figure this mess out together. I wanted to make love to him, then would be revolted by the mere touch of his hand on mine.



Those first few weeks were brutal. B.R.U.T.A.L. The myriad of emotions I experienced from moment to moment, hour to hour were so confusing, it left me exhausted, depressed, anxious, angry, confused and devastated.



The only way I know how to explain it is by comparing it to an egg. My brain was the inside of the egg. The shell was my world as I knew it before disclosure. After disclosure, the split happened and the egg cracked. I tried to keep my brain from oozing out.



The harder I fought, the more the egg white slipped through my fingers. I feared that my inner core, the yolk, would be next, so I held on as tight as I could to my emotions and tried to keep them from spilling out of the egg and through my fingers.



However, that Relational Trauma just doesn’t go away on it’s own. The nightmares persist. The anxiety attacks continue. The fear of going to places that trigger you still remain and I stayed stuck and thought I was bananas for feeling this way, until I read, Your Sexually Addicted Partner.



Inside was a list of all of my symptoms and then some. Ka Bam! I realized I’m not alone! I’m not "crazy" to feel the way that I do. I was elated! Beyond words. It gave me courage to move into action and not wallow with the people I had chosen to surround myself with. No more Negative Nancy’s for this chick. They were doing more harm than good.



Now it was time to do something about that egg I was trying to keep control off, but what? The hatred of Devin had gone away after the first few days…thank God. So did the desire for revenge, but I was struggling terribly with hypervigilance, anger, guilt, distrust, and my all time favorite: control.



I found that I needed help. I couldn’t travel this road alone. I sought out S-Anon, counseling, shut down my old curse-filled, negative blog and opened up this new one and the rest is history. I found that the egg didn’t need me to hold it together. That sometimes, when we break a few eggs along the way, add ingredients like a healthy recovery, the end result is a beautiful cake.



I only wish I had known that the emotions I’d been experiencing immediately after disclosure and for months afterward were totally normal.



What do you wish you had known?








Facebook Distracts Me - An IWSG Post


 

Happy April, everyone and good luck to all of you A-Zers out there! I’m elated that spring is officially here and the days are longer. I can’t wait to spend some time at the beach, stroll through some nature trails, and head off to the amusement parks.

Of course, warmer weather means less time spent writing, but that’s okay with me. I’m in no hurry to finish my books. I’ll find the time to write when my last child is at school, work, or out with friends. Right now, it’s important to spend quality time with the family before I have an empty nest. (Say it ain't so!)

It’s really about making the most of the time I have and using it properly. I found that since I chose to stay away from social media because of the negativity, it opened up free time. A lot more free time. I didn’t realize just how much time I wasted on things like Facebook and Instagram. It disrupted my writing flow. 

I've learned to "just say no" to Facebook and Instagram on my days off and it gave me an extra hour in my day to write. It may not seem like a lot to other people who are cranking out 1,000’s of words a day, but to me, that one hour may lead to another or be just enough time to get a good idea down on paper.

Does the warm weather change your schedule? Does social media side track or distract you?

Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!
 
I'll continue with my series After Disclosure (Compartmentalization, & It's Not Personal) next week.

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
 
Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts: Christopher D. Votey, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey 

Some Pho & Some Horses


Finally! It was warm this week. I don't know what crawled up Mother Nature's rear end last week, but she was a cranky witch and it barely climbed out of the 40s. I was not a happy turtle. Let's hope this is really the start of spring. Of course, today it's back in the 50s, but this weekend it'll be nice again. Maybe.

I've decided to take a break from the heaviness of my series After Disclosure (Compartmentalization, & It's Not Personal) and share some pictures I took while picking up some pho last week. Isn't pho the best? I love it! This police officer just trotted by as I was walking out with my bag full of food. You can see said bag o' food in the reflection if you look real close:



He was kind enough to stop and wait for some kids to snap pictures with their parents before he joined his partner and went into a nearby neighborhood. 


I've seen them exercise the horses in our neighborhood several times before because we have woods and a small farm adjacent to us, but this is the first time I've seen them go through a strip mall. I thought it was a great way for the police to not just make their presence known, but also do a meet and greet with the public while training and exercising the horses. 

Because lemme tell ya, it wasn't just the kids that were excited to see them, it was the adults too, present company included. Lots of grown-ups stopped them and asked to take their picture, and some of them reached out to shake their hands and thank them for their service. One of them was in his military uniform. That was cool to see. It gave me the warm and fuzzies inside. One service member thanking another. Selfless.

Have you seen mounted police in your neighborhood? What have you seen lately that's given you the warm and fuzzies?

 


On a side note, I checked out my seller's rankings on Amazon last weekend and look where I was!




Steps Along My Shore: My Personal Tale & Tips When Discovering You're Married to a Sex Addict Kindle Edition by Elsie Amata (Author)


See all 2 formats and editions


Product details
  • File Size: 538 KB
  • Print Length: 141 pages
  • Publication Date: June 8, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01GT52Z4I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled 
  • X-Ray:
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
 
 

Not bad for someone who doesn't advertise, huh? Sure, I know it'll change by tomorrow, but hey, it's still awesome to see at this very moment. I'm still not sure how people hear about my book, but I'm not complaining. I make enough to pay half my Netflix bill each month, and more importantly, I think I'm actually helping people. I might really be making a difference in people's lives. That gives me even more warm fuzzies! Woot! Woot!

And still another side note: I'll be at work this morning, but only for a few hours, so I'll be by later this afternoon to see everyone. 




It’s Not Personal



I’m continuing with my series, After Disclosure. My previous post was on Compartmentalization. If anyone would like to suggest a topic, please feel free to post it in the comment section or send me an email and rest assured, you will remain anonymous.

This week I’m going to try to tackle a topic that was very hard for me to wrap my head around: It’s Not Personal.

Sex addiction isn’t about the sex. That’s what they tell you when you go in and meet a C-SAT (Certified-Sex Addiction Counselor) for the first time. It’s an intimacy disorder. Um, what? It’s got the word sex in the name, how can it not be about sex? Was this doctor we were seeing off his rocker? Was he really certified in this crap? Then, to top it off, my husband was telling me it wasn’t personal: the porn, the online affairs, the chat rooms, even the two encounters he had with women in person…none of it meant a thing to him.

How was this even remotely possible? Because I had been stuck in such a state of hypervigilance for so long (I don’t recommend this for anyone because you can’t un-see what you find), I knew that some of those online affairs had lasted for a year or more. How was that not personal? Yet, he insisted he had no feelings for any of the women he’d been involved with. Of course my immediate reply was B.S. You can’t talk to anyone for that long, in that way, and not feel something.

Still, he continued to insist he felt nothing. That the women were merely objects to him. It wasn’t until I sat down with him one day and we went over what I dubbed, “The List.” It had all the women’s names and information on an Excel spreadsheet. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly in a healthy place after disclosure. I mean, who would be, right? I had Relational Trauma. I had PTSD from this mess. 

Each cell on the list contained what transpired between the woman and Devin. When a question popped into my head, out came The List and the interrogation between us began. And Devin put up with it because he was doing anything to try to repair our broken marriage.

During one such discussion, I asked him about a woman he’d exchanged emails with for a few months. The emails were pages long. I felt he must’ve invested hours thinking of her while he composed them. When I asked about her, he couldn’t remember her name at all. We were at a point after disclosure where there was no reason for him to hold back anything. I already knew the worst of everything, so I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t be forthcoming about a person’s name. Then, I gave him her email address. Light bulb moment. That’s how he remembered her. Her email address. Just another email in his inbox. And he didn’t spend a ton of time on the emails. They’d been cut and pasted from somewhere.

Now it was my light bulb moment. He really didn’t put any emotional investment into these women. They were a means to an end. A way for him continue to numb his emotions the way I numbed mine with drugs before I got sober. It started to make a bit of sense that this disease truly was an intimacy disorder despite the name it had been given.

It allowed me to start to see the things he’d done in our marriage in a new light. Yes, the pain was still there, but it helped me gain a better perspective on his disease. The escalation of his addiction had caused him to do some damaging things, but now it was time to learn how to heal from that betrayal.

Have you ever had a profound light bulb moment?






Compartmentalization


 

I recently found a new site (more info on it when I’ve had time to settle in on it), and it got me thinking…I know, how scary is that? Me thinking. There were so many questions I had about sex addiction after Devin’s disclosure, but I didn’t know who to ask, or even what I needed to know.

I decided that I’m going to do a series of posts called After Disclosure. If anyone would like to suggest a topic, please feel free to post it in the comment section or send me an email and rest assured, you will remain anonymous.

My first topic in the series is compartmentalization. Big word. And it should be because it plays a big part in the addiction. Sometimes, compartmentalization can be a good thing. Like keeping work separate from home. But when it's done to live a secret life...well, not so much.

The definition from The Meadows, a treatment center in Arizona, defines it as:

“When someone has a sexual addiction they "compartmentalize" their feelings and behaviors which means that they categorize the feelings, behaviors and thoughts and try to keep them separate. They may get up in the morning and have breakfast with you and the kids, get ready for work and then have every intention to "be good" and not "act out" that day. The second that you leave... the addict takes over and convinces the person that looking at porn just this one time won't hurt anyone and the addictive cycle begins. Two hours later the addict runs off to work and tries to be the good employee he/she wanted to be. The only way they can tolerate their behavior is to tell themselves that they are still a good spouse, or employee and simultaneously they feel self-hate and shame.”

Then the cycle begins yet again.
 
For me, it was difficult to wrap my head around the fact that my husband could kiss me goodbye, and then spend hours looking at porn, chatting with women online, or when his addiction really escalated, meet up with someone, and then come home to me as if nothing were amiss.

It was only in hindsight, and with months of recovery under my belt, that I was able to see that that wasn’t quite true. There were red flags. Nothing that screamed, “Hey, Elsie, I’m having online affairs!” Rather, warning signs that our marriage was in deep trouble.

That compartmentalization changed him. He was no longer the happy, go-lucky guy I married just a few short years before. He was distant, angry, and isolated himself from everyone. A dark cloud had settled over our home. I just didn’t know the storm coming was sex addiction.

The only way I was able to finally understand compartmentalization was by comparing his addiction to my own. Otherwise, I was constantly taking his addiction personally. Who could blame me? It was personal. It was hard not to compare myself to the other women, but every time I did, I came away hurt and with less self-esteem than when I started, and when your self-worth is on the floor, you don’t have much further to sink.

So when I began to use my own addiction to empathize with his addiction, it helped me make a bit more sense of everything. It gave me something to grasp on to, even if it was tiny, and it reminded me that he didn’t wake up thinking, “How can I hurt Elsie today?” Because I never woke up thinking, “How can I break my dad’s heart today?”

I never intended to hurt people while I was active in my drug addiction, yet I did just that. I lied. I manipulated. I blame-shifted. I also recovered and made amends to those I hurt along the way. I felt I should give Devin the same chance.

He had to learn that while he had been compartmentalizing for all those years, what he’d really been doing was lying to himself. If he could accept that and make the changes he needed to make, than I could walk beside him while he recovered and I’m so grateful that he did.

Compartmentalization still showed herself a few times after disclosure. She’s a sneaky little thing and was difficult to break free of, but with time and a good recovery, eventually she finally went away.

Do you compartmentalize anything in a healthy way? Like work and home?

A Space of My Own - An IWSG Post


from Google

March really is going to roar like a lion this week. We’re expecting some crazy weather. Hopefully it will go out like a lamb. Heck, I can’t complain too much though. February was like a fluffy bunny the last couple weeks. My electric bill is going be shockingly low because of how often I was able to keep the windows open and the ceiling fans running. Sweet!

No insecurities this month. I’ve been setting up a spare bedroom to be my recovery room/writing room since one of our kids moved out. It’s perfect timing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll miss having my child around, but they didn’t go very far and the bed is still there so the happy couple can spend a night when they want. But it’s nice to have a space dedicated to me and my healing and my writing.

And believe it or not, I’ve had time to write. I don’t know how because I’m super busy at work and I’m still getting hammered with migraines, but somehow I’m writing. I think it’s having the private place to do it. I often toyed with the idea of going to Panera or a coffee shop (and I don’t even drink coffee) to write, but never did it because it was too loud…and well, I’m too lazy to get out of sweatpants. I mean c’mon, I have to dress up for work, isn’t that enough?

But now, now I just walk to the other side of the house and it’s amazingly quiet over there. No wonder each child battled one another to get that room. It rocks! And now it’s mine. As each week passes, I find things to inspire me to write or work on my recovery: plaques, wall hangings, photos, etc. I’m really having a blast decorating it.

Question of the month:

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I haven’t been writing long enough to pull out an old story. What about you? Do you have a special place to write or work on any projects you enjoy?


Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
 
Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts: Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson.

And a thank you to: sitehoundsniffs.com for their kind shout out to my blog. Muchly appreciated. 


The First Beach Day...In February?


 

You guys know my battle with Mother Nature. She can be quite cruel to me at times. If she decides she wants the barometric pressure to rise and fall too rapidly, it means I may get a migraine. But thanks to the addition of  the medication Diamox, I can prevent some of those migraines.


That’s what happened a couple of weekends ago. Saturday was a bitterly cold day, but by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, it was like a spring day. Since I knew the pressure change was happening well in advance, I took my Diamox and was able to enjoy a day at the beach with my youngest child and our dogs.


And we weren’t the only ones. Lots of folks had the same idea we had. Dogs ran up and down the shoreline, people were out fishing, and some people were even in the ocean swimming. Personally, I think it was bit too cold for that!

Even last weekend we had spring like temperatures, so I say to you Mother Nature, bring it on, I’m ready!

What about you? Have you been getting some warmer weather where you are?

What is the good?



I’m going to be one “those” people today. The one who posts on Facebook, “Worst. Day. Ever!” But then never actually tells you what happened when you ask. I’m going to be super vague and share that I had a flashback of a childhood memory over the weekend but I’m not ready to share what that memory was, and honestly I don’t know that I ever will. So, yeah, I’m going to be that chick.

However, I’m not going to be that chick because I’m seeking attention. Rather as a way to say that while I know I have a long journey ahead of me to heal from the memory, I also discovered what a fucking rock star my husband is. Yeah, I said it. A fucking rock star. Because while I was an emotional puddle in the kitchen (again in the kitchen…what is it about that room?), he was my emotional rock.

His recovery has amplified his listening skills and his ability to empathize to such amazing levels, I am truly astounded. And blessed. Not only did he hold my hands, wipe my tears, and listen while I wept and shared my memory; he offered words of wisdom and insight too. Things he’s learned from his own recovery.

For me, it was another reminder of why I stayed with him through all the turmoil of his sex addiction. His recovery, my recovery, and our recovery together was what made this weekend’s discovery a bit easier to navigate.

While it’s easy to say, “what good is it?” because whenever I think I’m done digging through the muck of my traumatized brain another hurt reveals itself, I’d rather say, “What is the good?” And here it’s definitely my husband. My hero. Because this time, I have him here to lean on while I process through all of my emotions. I know I don’t have to go through this hurt alone. How cool is that?

 Who's your hero? Do you know someone on Facebook who posts something dramatic but never tells you what's actually wrong?

I Guess I Really Do Have Free Time - IWSG Post


 

I hope when the groundhog pokes his head out tomorrow he won’t see his shadow so spring will be on its way. I’m tired of the cold. Hubby on the other hand wants it to stay chilly. On the plus side, it is the first Wednesday of February and that means it’s time once again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.



The last few weeks have been touch and go on my writing. I’ve been writing, but not doing much for my books. I’ve been writing more for my program and a bit for the groups I volunteer for.  Add in work and migraines and that doesn’t leave much time for my novels.  I’m not worried though. Again, no deadlines in my world. I write because I like to, not because I have to.



The question of the month is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?



I wish I could be profound and say something like, “Well, I find that characters don’t have enough depth.” Or, “I figured out the twist in the plot one quarter of the way through the book.”



But really, the biggest change has been my decrease in time to read for pleasure. The spare time I have, I prefer to write than to read. Sure, I carry books with me. Yes, I’m that person…the one who likes a paperback over a Kindle….but I’m not out and about that often or in long enough spurts to knock out an entire book in one sitting.



And unfortunately, with my migraines, most of my downtime is spent watching mindless television. I joke about reality TV but the reason I watch it is because it takes zero effort to understand it when I’m in pain.



My biggest change the last several months has been a direct result of what happened with my youngest child last summer.  In an effort to help them get through the bouts of depression and to help manage the anxiety, I’ve read several books on PTSD (who would’ve thought the person who wrote a book on Relational Trauma would now be reading even more books on PTSD for teens?) 



This has proved to me that if I want to make the time to read for pleasure, I can. That I really do have free time. It’s a matter of shifting my priorities around and figuring out what’s more important? Writing, reading, blogging, etc.



What about you? Are you hoping the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow so spring is on its way? How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?



Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
 
Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts: Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter.

And a thank you to: sitehoundsniffs.com for their kind shout out to my blog. Muchly appreciated. 





Black Mirror



As someone who has to deal with migraines at least once a week, I find myself Netflix and chilling a lot. No, wait. That means something else. I find myself in search of binge-worthy television shows while I rest on the couch a lot.  Yeah, that sounds much better.

I recently finished Nurse Jackie and Shameless and enjoyed them both very much. Must be the addiction aspect that I found so intriguing. Being a recovering addict and being married to a recovering addict and seeing how far addiction can take someone well…it’s humbling.

But last week I wanted to try something a little bit different. I wanted a new genre so I thought I’d give Black Mirror a try when I saw it was trending on Netflix.

I’ve only watched the first few episodes and I’m already hooked. I had absolutely no idea what to expect so when the first episode came to a conclusion, and then the second episode began with a new cast, I was a bit confused and turned to IMDB for answers.

The storyline reads: “A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.”  Yep. That was exactly what I just watched and enjoyed. And yep, it was pretty bleak but in a get you thinking kind of way, not a geez, now I’m depressed kind of way.

I scrolled down and found the review section. I don’t know about you, but I tend to ignore critic’s reviews. I rarely agree with them. Maybe I’m just not classy enough. I mean, I’m the chick that just finished binge-watching Shameless after all so that tells you a lot about my taste. Devin skipped watching Shameless with me. Too many sex addiction triggers. Or maybe he’s classier than I am?

As I read the user reviews, I found that the majority of reviewers agreed with me. They also enjoyed the show (and helped me understand that each show was meant to stand alone).  The rating on IMDB was 8.9 out of 10. Again, I agree. I thought the writing was good and so was the acting. I love that the series creator, Charlie Brooker, sees that sometimes technology can be seen as a drug in our current society. (Of course, I may be bias because of my hubby's addiction to porn which was fueled by the Internet.)

Brooker says, “If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The 'black mirror' of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, smartphone."

My only disappointment is that there are only nineteen episodes. Really? Say it ain’t so! That means that I’ll be looking for another good show to watch soon. But even more interesting was that Netflix liked the concept so much, they picked up the last twelve episodes. So, maybe they’ll add another season or two before it’s all said and done.

Do you have any good show recommendations for me? Do you like to binge watch shows or do you like to pace your shows out?


The Shopping Cart



Several years ago, I remember listening to one of my favorite talk shows on the radio and the host shared a story about an experience he had with a shopping cart. He had been sitting in his car, maybe he was waiting on his wife to come out of the store, or he had been talking on his phone. Either way he’d been sitting in his car for several minutes and watched as one person after another attempted to pull one cart apart from another, gave up, and than moved on to a free one.

This really piqued his interest. He wanted to know what was so difficult about this one particular cart that kept people walking away from it, so he got out of the warmth of his car and gave it a try himself. He tugged and he tugged and sure enough, that cart was stuck.

Determined he pulled on the cart again, really using good ol’ elbow grease this time. Still no go. Remember, he had no use for the cart, he just wanted to see what all the fuss was about and now that he was here, he was determined to get the job done. Again he tugged on the handle of the cart, applied even more strength, and this time it pulled free of the other cart.

That story has always stuck with me because he didn’t give up. He didn’t throw in the towel and take the easy way out. Sure, it’s just a shopping cart, but for me, at that time in my life, it symbolized so much more. It was my recovery, my healing, my writing, my journaling, my “me” time, and getting back to the basics while I found myself again.

There were so many times that I wanted to say, “This is just too hard for me. I can’t go on,” but that image of the radio host pulling on shopping carts had a way of reminding me that I could keep on pushing myself just a little bit more. Apply a bit more mental elbow grease and get through this so I won’t be stuck like the carts.

The last few weeks I've turned to that mental image again and again. Things at home have been a bit of a roller coaster ride. While it was wonderful to have my oldest child home for the holidays, we had some unfortunate events occur during that time.

The problem with my youngest child and all they're going through as a result of the choices their birth father continues to make is taking it's toll. Counseling isn't helping yet and it breaks my heart to watch my child continue to be in such pain over something they can't control but desperately wants to.

We were also looking forward to sharing the news with everyone that we were going to be grandparents, instead, the family had to break the news of a miscarriage to our oldest on the day before Christmas Eve instead of surprising them with the of the baby. The silver lining in all of this was that the family grew closer in the last few weeks than I thought ever possible and we can look forward to the couple (my middle child) trying again.Very soon.

I'm grateful to have the shopping cart analogy to turn to when I think times are too tough for me to handle. I can remember to give myself that mental kick in the ass that I need. Now, whenever I find two shopping carts jammed together, I think of that radio host’s story and smile, than I do my best to yank those suckers apart.

Do you leave the shopping carts stuck or do pull them apart? Have you heard a story on the radio that inspired you?



It's The Holiday Season! - An IWSG Post


 
Merry almost Christmas and Happy almost Hanukkah! The holidays are officially here and I’ve got the holiday spirit flowing through me. My entire family will be here this year and I’m stoked! While I’m not thrilled our heat is now running all the time because it’s cold out all the time (how long until it’s summer again?), I love having the Christmas tree up and hearing the classic Christmas songs playing in the stores now that Thanksgiving has past. I didn’t dig it when it wasn’t even Halloween yet. C’mon retailers, let me enjoy one holiday at time, will ya?

I’m still in a good place in my writing. I’m not cranking out 1,000 words a day or anything but that’s okay for me. I write at a snail’s pace. That’s who I am. But I still write. I’ve been focusing more on my self-help book than my fictional book, and it’s going well.

I had a concern that I wasn’t going to have enough content to fill an entire book, but the more I write, the more ideas come to mind.  Who knows, maybe I’ll have it done before the year 2017 is over…but I doubt it.

The question for the month: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself in five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I don’t see writing as a career. For me, it’s two things: a way to help others who have been affected by sex addiction and the trauma it causes and it’s a blast. The writing, not the sex addiction. 😇  I love to create characters and tell their tales. Whether or not any of those books make a ton of money doesn’t matter to me right now. Maybe one day that will be important and maybe that means I’m not a “serious” writer, but that’s where I am right now. Ask this question a year from now and I may have a different answer.

Are you filled with the holiday spirit? Are you in a good place with your writing or a project you’re working on?

Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
  
Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts:
Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield.


The Gift of a New Perspective


 

I hope all of you that celebrated Thanksgiving, had a wonderful day. We did. It was full of lots of laughter and way too much food. Best of all, I heard from a family member and friend that I hadn’t heard from in a long time, that I thought were lost to me, and I’m very thankful for that.

Last week I found that I did a lot of service work. Not unusual around this time of year. The holidays can be difficult for many people. The common theme was anger and questions of why. Why did the addict betray me by looking at pictures of other women or having online affairs or worse?

I remember the anger, the rage, I felt. I also remember the relentless questions that circled around my brain. The insecurities that they brought to the surface of my brain. They seemed endless. They also seemed unanswerable.

Then a few days after disclosure we were going over a spreadsheet I’d dubbed “The List,” I had an epiphany. As I was entering each person’s name, what happened between them and Devin, and other information I thought I needed to know (trust me, I didn't); Devin said he couldn’t remember a woman even though they’d exchanged emails back and forth for months. Lengthy, detailed, emails that I had imprinted in my brain. It wasn’t until I read her screen name to him that he recalled who she was.

That was a profound moment for me. I finally understood what he’d been trying to explain in the preceding days: he had no emotional connection to these women. No attachment to them whatsoever. She was simply an address to him. Nothing more. An email for his mailbox. It was more about filling an emotional void within him, an emptiness, than it was anything else. It really did have nothing to do with me.

There was nothing I could’ve done to change the outcome. And I had tried just about everything from trying to control him to changing my personality to something I thought would catch his attention...and it never would. And there is nothing that I can do now to change what he does. He is his own person responsible for his own actions.

While the words I had read in those emails crushed my heart and his actions felt like something I’d never heal from, that understanding provided me with a new way of looking at the whys.

It helped me begin to stop taking the addiction so personally. That didn’t mean the hurt went away overnight. It didn’t. Neither did the anger. It did, however give me the gift of a new perspective. And because I’m also a recovering addict, I was able to empathize with his addiction too. I understood the complexities of not being able to “just say no” or “if you loved me you’d stop” because those guilt tactics don’t work, not nearly as well as detaching with love.

The anger took longer for me to resolve. I was angry with a lot of things. It took help from my counselor to see that I was angry with myself and needed to forgive myself before I could even think about forgiving Devin so those feelings of resentment and anger would stop rearing their ugly heads. What I found after those feelings of anger went away was my self-esteem.

Than I found inner-peace and while I want nothing more than to tell people that these things happened quickly, for me they didn’t. For me it took a few years. I was bullheaded, stubborn, and refused to reach out for the help that was out there. My hope is that people I talk to or people who read my book, Steps Along My Shore, won’t make the same the mistakes I did.

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you hold on to anger or do let things slide off your back?


An Attitude of Gratitude



It’s been an emotional week in our home. One filled with many lows and many highs. It’s fitting that next week is Thanksgiving because I have many blessings to be thankful for this year, including the continued gift of my recovery because it allowed me to be by my child’s side while they navigate through their own tough journey. My heart swells with pride at the smart choices they are making to avoid going down the path that I did at their age. That kid is one smart cookie! So while I’d love for my child not to have to go through this problem at all, I’m grateful they have the knowledge and tools to handle it properly.

On that note, here’s my Gratitude List:

  • My Faith:      Without it, I would’ve gone batshit crazy by now. God knows how to keep me reminding me that, “Everything is going to be okay.”
  • My Children: They inspire me and encourage me to keep improving my life.
  • My Husband:  He also inspires me and continues to be my biggest cheerleader.
  • My Health:     While my migraines are still a weekly occurrence, things could be far worse.
  • My Recovery:  It changed my life. While I’m still the same ol’ me at heart, I’m no longer a broken mess. Everyone around me benefits from it.
  • My Job:          It’s nothing fancy or even pays well, but it gets me out of the house and they understand I have a disease. They truly get it. And that rocks.
  • Writing:          I love to do it. I’ll never be rich or famous. That’s not my goal. I do it to help people and I hope in some small way I do.
  • Volunteering:  It does my heart good to give back what was so freely given to me. It’s a good reminder of where I came from and where I can so easily return.
  • My Home:        Not just the house itself but all that we have. The ability to have a home, food on the table, and clothes on our back. We don’t live in luxury, but we live above the poverty line and I didn’t always have the ability to say that.
  • The Beach:      Does this really need an explanation? It’s the sun and sand!

What are you grateful for? Are you celebrating Thanksgiving?
 
(Scheduling Note: I won't be posting next week because I'll be stuffing my face full of food.)

Black Friday…Blackest Friday



 

I was headed to my weekly group meeting last week when it occurred to me that I’ve got a big milestone this year. I’ve been chemically sober twenty-five years. I feel it’s important to put “chemically” in there because I didn’t become emotionally sober until a couple of years ago. Thank God for S-Anon. But this post isn’t about what led me into the rooms of S-Anon or my husband’s sex addiction. It’s about my own drug addiction. So buckle in boys and girls. This post is about to get heavy and very real. Not to mention uber long.

Where I grew up drugs were readily available. Not just in the seedy parts of New York City but also in the back alleys of strip malls in nice neighborhoods. They took less time and effort to get in the 1980’s than an order of Chinese take-out.

I started smoking weed at a young age. It began as something to do on the weekends than progressed to daily use.  By the time I was in high school, the weekends were reserved for harder drugs: acid, mescaline, and mushrooms. And of course drinking.

When I was a senior, I announced to my friends that I was no longer going to smoke pot. I was turning over a new leaf…sort of speak. I decided it was making me too tired and lazy.

There was just one problem though: I was still being verbally abused at home and my mom had added in a touch of physical abuse to the mix. Drugs were a great way to make me forget how much that sucked. Still, I decided no more weed. That led to me saying no more hardcore drugs either! Only drinking on the weekends for this chick. I was what we call in our recovery circles, rationalizing and “white-knuckling” it.

Then, as I was about to walk on stage to get my high school diploma, someone gave me line of cocaine to celebrate. I felt euphoric. My cares melted away. I grabbed my diploma, and snorted another line. Pure bliss.

That was thirty years ago but I still remember that feeling. The way I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a girl full of confidence instead of someone who heard hurtful words just a few hours earlier. Cocaine could make my problems go away. I just needed more of it.

And how lucky did I end up? Not only did I live with a drug dealer, I got my blow for free. On most days at least. All he needed me to do was cook, clean, run some (illegal) errands, and I was rewarded with pure white powder.

I thought my life was good. I attended college, I worked, I partied, I was surrounded by friends. What more did I need? So what; our groceries were usually shoplifted by one stranger or another. The dealer shot bullet holes through the wall to kill the cockroaches he saw on the bathroom wall. My “friends” were people who drifted in and out of the flophouse I called home. My job and school were at risk because I had a habit of not showing up. My family had become a distant memory.

Maybe I wasn’t so lucky after all.

Finally, after being raided, having a shotgun pointed at my head, and seeing my friend’s painful descent into heroin addiction, I left the flophouse. The addiction followed me. I white-knuckled it again. This time I was able to stay clean much longer. That happens when you have the added incentive of a pregnancy.

However, a few months after my child was born, I slipped. It’s an easy time to remember. It was Thanksgiving weekend. We cooked up a storm. We also snorted an excessive amount of blow. Dangerous levels. All while our children were in the other room with the rest of the family laughing and having fun.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how wired I was. I couldn’t sleep. My child lay on a blanket on the floor at my feet sleeping soundly, while I frantically scraped the last of the cocaine from a scrap of paper and tried to make just one more line. When the baby woke up a little while later, I was still pinging off the walls and realized I was too afraid to pick up my own child. I was too afraid to make a bottle or change a diaper. I knew I had reached my lowest point, I had bottomed out. My child deserved better than what I was able to provide.

Somehow, I made it through. Withdrawals sucked. Again. But I felt like I deserved to feel that shitty. It was the least I could do after putting my child in harm’s way. Although that was twenty-five years ago, I can still see that baby in my mind’s-eye right now and I believe that’s what keeps me sober today. That was how I spent Black Friday twenty-five years ago. Going through withdrawals but it's a cause for celebration in my book.

Happy (almost) Sobriety Birthday to me!
 


On a lighter note: Do you have plans for Black Friday?  As for me, I’ll be staying home…and staying sober.


 
Thank you to all that served and to those that continue to serve. May God keep His watchful eye over you.

I Love Being A Pantser! - An IWSG Post


 
Happy Belated Halloween! I hope you had fun. I did. I love passing out candy to the kids. Especially now that my own kids are too big to go trick-or-treating. I’ll have to wait for grandkids before I can enjoy that again. Although, now that I think about it, there was a lot of whining towards the end of the night. Oh wait, that was me wanting their candy...never mind.



I’m in a good place in my writing so I’ll just answer the question of the month:



What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?



I’m a pantser so my favorite part is the beginning stages of writing when my characters are just beginning to take shape. I love to hear their voices chime in my head as I write. I can picture them as their character develops and the plot starts to unfold. One moment they aren’t an important piece to the puzzle, the next they’re a star player. For me, that’s the best part of the journey.



I’m finally learning to do a rough plot line as I go along. Nothing too strict, I like the freedom to just go with it, but I’ve learned the hard way that a basic plot is a pretty good idea to have.



Are you a pantser too? How was your Halloween?



Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

 
This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts: Joylene Novell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!