Reflections Post: A-Z Challenge

So, a few months ago, I was reading Alex’s blog.  He was probably bragging about how awesome he is (you know him) or maybe he was just saying that the A-Z Challenge is a ton of fun. Either way, I read about the A-Z Challenge on Alex’s blog a few months ago and signed up.  I was totally stoked.  I cranked out post after post way ahead of schedule.  I was almost ready!

Then, April rolled around.  It was time to start the Challenge. The first two weeks went smoothly.  I had my posts set to schedule.  (In your face, cat!)  The third week, um, not so much.  That’s what happens when you don’t stay on top of some of your posts and only have them written a couple of days in advance.  The fourth week, fuhgeddaboutit.  I was cramming like a college student!  Some posts were written the night before they were due.

But, it was a ton of fun!  Well worth the late nights and early mornings.  (Now I know what my son is going through right now with finals at college.)

I met so many new people.  And, many of them weren’t even in the Challenge. I met them through reading comments they made in other’s posts. I find lots of people that way.  People who leave heartfelt remarks are people I want to know.

I didn’t do the Challenge just to drive up my numbers.  While they did go up – I think I picked up fifteen  – I did find quality blogs to follow.  I also decided to close down my writing blog and combine it with this one again.  Trying to maintain two blogs is just a pain in my rear.

Will I do it next year?  If I’m not working – yes.  But I sure won’t do it on sex addiction because dear God, that was a lot to deal with mentally.  Thirty days of sex addiction in a row.  Whew!  It’s one thing to live it, it’s another to write it, comment on it, write it, comment on it; wash, rinse, repeat.  (Note to self: Remember you just wrote that!)

Click here for other reflections in the series.

I’ll be back tomorrow for Insecure Writers Support Group where I’ll be a co-host from this blog.  W00t W00t!




Z is for Zen: A-Z Challenge or Holy Crap Balls! We Finished!

Holy Crap Balls!  We Made It!  Congrats to all the A-Zers who finished.  To those who didn’t, I understand.
Illustrated by Rob Z Tobor

Z is for Zen

I’m not going to pretend to be a Zen Master.  I’m not a master of any thing. Least of all enlightenment. Especially someone else’s. 

Over the last ten years, I’ve learned that I enjoy reflecting in to my self and reflection of my self, and that means two different things to me.

I find Zen at the beach, doing yoga, practicing morning mediation, during my daily reader, and while writing.  For me, Zen is a feeling of calm and peace.  Eventually, I hope it will mean something deeper. I’m at the beginning of that journey.  I’ll get back to you in another ten years or so.

I also find moments of Zen through reading other's words and reflecting upon them.  I don’t mean to get all cheesy and philosophical on this last day of the Challenge but (yeah, there’s the “but”) I hope you’ll find enjoyment in these words too. 

Like John Stewart but not nearly as funny, here are some of my moments of Zen:


 The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear ~ Ts’ai Ken T’an

Talking about Zen all the time is like
 looking for fish tracks in a dry riverbed ~Wu-Tzu
 Learning Zen is a phenomenon of gold and dung.
 Before you understand it, it's like gold; after you understand it, it's like dung ~ Zen Master

All things and I belong to one Whole ~ Zen Master

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought ~ Basho

Where there is great doubt, there will be great awakening; small doubt, small awakening, no doubt, no awakening ~ Zen Master

For those of you not who haven’t had your cup of coffee (soda, tea) here’s your Moment of Zen from John Stewart:
You suck snow!  So do you snow plow driver guy!

Do you have any moments of Zen you’d like to share?  Any good Zen books you’d like to recommend?


"Y" is for Yoga: A-Z Challenge

i

Y is for Yoga

Palms meet, head bows
     “Namaste” 
the student learns
draws in serenity
expels chaos

arms flow in circular patterns
yin yang
pushes out negative
pulls in positive

I am a willow
learning to bend
not snap
in tree pose

under emotions

I am a wave
learning to wash ashore
without a thunderous crash
     in a crouched position
of water too heavy
to carry

I glide upon the sands
of a time
arms stretch out….up…out

I dance along the shore
I stretch my legs down
Beyond measure, quiver

I bow
Namaste

My teacher

Namaste

~~Yoga has been essential to my recovery in healing from the disclosure of my hubby's sex addiction.  It's been awhile since I've been able to give it proper attention but I'm happy to say recent developments lead me to think this may change very soon.~~

Do you exercise?  Ever try yoga?

 ~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?



"X" is for X-Rated: A-Z Challenge

X is for X-Rated

X is for X-Rated.  Don’t get your hopes up.  Ain’t gonna be no naked chicks   here today.  Or any other day for that matter.  Sorry, folks.

Instead, I’d like to briefly talk about the causes of sex addiction.   It has nothing to do with sex. It’s all about emotions, or rather the inability to connect emotionally.   

Dr. Patrick Carnes is the man when it comes to sex addiction.  He literally wrote the book, the first book (five total) about sex addiction, coined the term sex addict, and is the executive director of the Gentle Path program at Pine Grove Behavioral Institute.  What did he say when asked if the addiction was about sex?

“No, but that's the mistake people often make. It's really about pain … or escaping or anxiety reduction. It's a solution.”

Sure, sex addiction has lots of X-Rated components surrounding it.  There’s triple x movies, porn sites, masturbation, and many  other X-Rated aspects, but those are not the root of the addiction.  They are the symptoms.  And, just like with any other addiction they can start out harmless, and if not treated, grow out of control.

Why sex? Why not drugs, alcohol, or overeating?  Not surprising, many SA do drink, take drugs and eat to excess, in addition to turning to sex to fulfill the empty void inside them. Many of them come from broken homes.  A large percentage of SA are sexually, physically and/or verbally abused when they are young.  Even more, like my husband, come from homes where being emotionally neglected rather than nurtured are the norm.

It is my personal belief that all of these addicts share one common theme - the need to feel accepted and loved.  The reason I turned to drugs when I was a teen was because I felt rejected by my mom.  Through no fault of her own, my mom wasn’t able to nurture me properly.  In turn, I wasn’t able to nurture myself, so I choose drugs to numb my pain.

I think sex addicts are emotionally more damaged than I ever was.  I could be completely off base.  I’m not a doctor.  I just speculate like one on Blogger.

How about you?  Do you speculate like a doctor on your blog?  Did I make sense with this post?  I crammed a ton into this tiny post.  I may have to visit this topic outside of the A-Z Challenge.

 ~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?






"W" is for What If?: A-Z Challenge

Warning:  F Bomb Ahead
illustrated by Rob Z Tobor

W is for What If?

What if I never married my first husband?

         I never would have experienced love and loss
                                                                        Death blooms

What if I never experienced drug addiction?

         I never would have walked a mile in someone’s shoes
                                                                        And worn out the souls

What if I never lost my dad when I was young?

         I never would have mothered as he fathered
                                                                        Family talks, silence
                                                                                                  stalks

What if I never lost my mother to Alzheimer’s?
        
         I never would have laughed at the(r) insanity
                                                                        Until it was only sane
                                                               To it I say     
                                                                                    f
                                                                                     u
                                                                                       c
                                                                                         k
                                                                                            off

What if I never married a sex addict?

         I never would have three pointed back at me
                                                               weapons cocked and loaded
                                                                   ammo of scrutiny 

~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?





"V" is for Verbs: A-Z Challenge

V is for Verbs

Fine. 

Here’s my confession. 

I watch Dr. Phil. 

There, I said it!  I watch Dr. Phil.  I don’t always agree with what he says, but I watch his show.  He’s a pretty insightful guy even though he doesn’t quite acknowledge sex addiction. I’ve only seen a guest on his show be referred to as a sex addict by him one time (not by their partner, that happens often). Dr. Phil recommended a treatment plan including a twelve-step program for that dude.  But, that’s okay.  It’s not in the DSM yet.  Yet.  So, I understand his hesitancy to use the diagnosis yet.  Yet.

One my favorite Dr. Phil sayings is, “I’m going to put verbs in my sentences when we come back.”  It means, “I’m done listening to all the bullshit you’ve been tossing around.  It’s time to take some action around this joint!”

And, he does.  He lays out a plan of attack, instructs his guests what they need to do to get their lives back in order and sends them on their way.

It’s a great way to live my life too.  I used to desire a healthier marriage.  I took action and went to counseling and S-Anon meetings.  My marriage is better as a result.  I used to want to write a book. I sat my butt in front of my laptop and started typing. I finally wrote that book.  I wish I could be physically healthier, so I’ll stir some verbs into my life and see what happens.  I’m thinking I’ll end up right as rain again.  Cause I know I didn't accomplish jack while I sat around wishing stuff was better.

What verbs have you added to your life?

Side note:  It's my 200th post.  I feel like I should celebrate somehow
ETA:  Another side note:  Another migraine today…I'll pop by when I'm feeling better.
 ~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?







"U" is for Unique: A-Z Challenge

U is for Unique

Unique may not be a unique word for the A-Z Challenge.  I’ll bet by the time I’m done writing this post I’ll be tired of the word unique. 

But I think unique applies very well to my situation.  Seriously, how many people have you come across in the A-Z Challenge that are writing about sex addiction?  I think it’s a safe bet I’m the only one.  Making me, well, unique.

Devin and I are also unusual (sorry, I needed a break from the word unique) as a couple.  Not because of how we met.  We met online.  Thousands of partners meet that way. We are exceptional because we stayed together despite his addiction.  Most end up divorced after disclosure.  We are the rare couple that stuck together.

He also found a unique online recovery program immediately after his addiction was diagnosed.  He credits his initial success to Candeo.  It’s dedicated to breaking the cycle of addiction by replacing bad habits with good ones. 

But wait.  There’s more.

It’s unique in theory too.

Why?

Because Candeo believes addiction to porn works the same as addiction to narcotics and alcohol. Dopamine and endorphins rush through the body and create a high when someone views porn. Perceptions become skewed and eventually, intimacy is distorted.  Candeo teaches the addict how to retrain their brain to emotionally connect again.  How to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones.

If you want to learn how Candeo explains the brain-chemical addiction, click the link.  It’s quite fascinating.

They don’t limit themselves to porn addiction either.  They are also helping people living with anxiety and depression.  A great and unique program.  Just like Devin and I..well, we're not a program.  We're in a program.  You know what I mean!

What makes you unique?

 ~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?




"T" is for Truth: A-Z Challenge

T is for Truth

Today I’m writing about the TRUTH.  Cue the dramatic music or play this clip from A Few Good Men:

“You can’t handle the truth!”  

Um, yeah, I can.  Settle down, Jack. 

It seems I’m not alone in my pursuit for the truth either.  Bing it and you’ll find hundreds of sayings.  (Or Google it, if that’s more your thing. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Bryan.)



Devin was full of shit lies in the beginning of our marriage.  His sex addiction caused him to deceive me about everything.  He lied about the store being out of yogurt to not looking at porn.  Truth telling was rare back then. It also caused him to stumble over his falsehoods.  It’s hard to keep lies organized.



When I found out what Devin’s addiction caused him to do, it hurt me like no pain I’d ever felt.  I went through the five stages of grief to cope with the loss of what I thought had been our marriage. 

I denied what I just learned.  It was impossible I had been so damn clueless.  That led to anger about the porn and the affairs.  I bargained with God, “Please God, don’t let this diagnosis of sex addiction be real. I’ll be a better person if You just make this go away.”  I alternated from depression to anger – not just at Devin, but at myself, God, my job, my health – anything to help me from not feeling sad.  Finally, I accepted the truth and my reality.  I realized his addiction was not my fault but I had some serious work to do - on me.


I discovered that as much as the affairs hurt, the lies hurt more.  I felt relieved to finally know the truth after being told it was all in my head.  Time after time, I questioned Devin about how much porn he looked at and was told I made a big deal out of nothing.  I ignored my gut instincts and trusted in deceits instead.  Being told the truth allowed me to start trusting myself again. 



Knowing my husband is a sex addict was scary at first.  I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to handle his diagnosis.  It turns out I’m a better person for knowing the truth.  It forced me to take a good look at myself and figure out why I accepted his lies as truths. His honesty put me on a path to a great recovery and a happier, healthier marriage than I ever thought we could have.

Have you been lied to?
Did you give the person a second chance or kick them to the curb?
 ~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?







"S" is for Slips: A-Z Challenge

S is for Slips

“What he did is called a slip.”

“No, what he did is called a relapse.”

The discussion about what my husband, Devin, had done three years ago was open for debate.  Thanks to me.

I had no support system so I relied on a forum for partners of sex addicts.  It sounds good in theory, but in reality, it turned out to be a place where there was less healing and more bashing the addict.  (Maybe one day I’ll be able to host a forum focused on healing for the partner, you never know.)

The people on the forum were hell bent on figuring out if my husband had a slip or a relapse.  I wanted to know how to survive the emotional turmoil I felt.  I could care less what it was supposed to be labeled.  More times than not in that debate, I was advised to leave him.  They were convinced Devin would never get nor stay sober.

I’m glad they were wrong.

So, what is the difference between and slip and a relapse?  How do you recover when it happens?

Here’s what I eventually learned: 

Bing!
Much like an alcoholic, it’s what happens after that first return to their addiction (drink, porn, masturbation) is over.   If they realize they’ve made a mistake and immediately quit the behavior, it’s a slip.  When the slip leads into a downward spiral of their addiction, it’s a relapse.  After all, it’s progress, not perfection we’re all striving for here.

I had to learn that his slip was not a reflection of me.  That was truly hard to do when this addiction is so damn personal.  It was difficult not to feel inadequate when I discovered he looked at porn. 

My recovery work dissolved into millions of pieces because it was never built on a firm foundation.  It was built on sand rather than stone and easily eroded at the thought of not being “enough” of a woman for him. 

Once I figured out I was not to blame and had no control over what he did or did not do, I was able to start working my recovery using a brick foundation.  I made sure I had tools to handle any potential slips Devin might have.  I gathered poems that made me feel better, I did yoga and meditation, I utilized my daily reader, I prayed, blogged, and most of all, I reached out to others.

While it makes me happy that Devin hasn’t had a slip in a year, I no longer put my self-worth in his recovery.

What do you do to de-stress?

(I have a doctor's appointment today.  I'll be back this afternoon.)



~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?




"R" is for Reaching Out: A-Z Challenge

R is for Reaching Out
From Bing!
Years ago, I watched a commercial that made me feel like a jerk.  Yes, I’m easily influenced by sappy television commercials.  They sucker me in all the time.  Don’t judge.

It was a commercial for Wounded Warriors.  (They assist military vets returning from conflicts overseas.)  It’s no secret my husband is a retired vet so these commercials hit home.

I donated to Wounded Warriors every few months and felt all gushy inside knowing I’d done some small part.  But, really, I felt like a jerk for not doing something more. Then it hit me.  I could reach out to someone in need with a personal gesture.

They sent thank you cards with the receipt of a donation but I never took time to fill one out.  This time, I did.  I reached out and personally said “thank you” to a vet.  Now with each receipt, I send out the card.

Bing!
This made me realize I could do the same thing for others in my situation.  Rather than be a bump on a log at my S-Anon meetings, scared what others thought about what I shared, I opened my mouth and spoke.  Those words led to nods of understanding from those around me. 

In turn, it helped me pick up the phone to see how people were coping.  Those phone calls helped me too.  It made me understand I wasn’t in this crazy disease of sex addiction. 

The calls allowed me to live outside my own needs.  Reaching out helped my recovery process.  It became a circle of giving and receiving, leaning on someone other than myself.

I’m amazed how much I gain from reaching out and helping others.

Do you reach out to anyone in need?
 ~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?