Rediscovering A Communication Tool

wish this was my shed!

Recently, the hubby and I cleaned out our shed.

It had become a catchall for things we didn’t know what to do with, but didn’t want to get rid of, you know, just in case we needed it again.

Through the passage of time, some of the things that were placed in there were forgotten.

They became rusted, warped, and no longer usable.

The neglect was evident. We had to choose what was salvageable, what we’d use again, and what should just be donated or tossed into the trash.

Our recoveries are similar to those long forgotten items in the shed.

We have program tools tucked away for a later date, techniques worn from constant use, and things that didn’t work and were discarded.

One of the tools we rediscovered in our recovery together was FANOS. Some of you may remember me talking about FANOS a couple of years ago.

It’s a check-in conversation that works like this:

F is for Feelings

Each person shares their feelings for the day.

If they felt triggered by anger or disappointment, they can talk it through.

It’s also a chance to share successes and happiness.

A is for Affirmations

This is an opportunity to let your partner know you support them and let them know you love and have faith in them.

Something like, “I promise to have open and honest communication with you.” Or, “I affirm to continue to work on my recovery.”

N is for Needs

If you need your partner to do something, now is the perfect time to ask.

Maybe it’s a request to have patience with you or take time to listen to your concerns.

It’s also an opportunity to let your partner know what you need to do for yourself.

It could be quiet time to write or do step work.

O is for Ownership

This is a chance to apologize for your actions.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier.” Or, “I need to let you know I forgot to do that favor you asked of me.”

S is for Sobriety and Self-Care

If the addict is struggling with their recovery and had a slip, this is a great way to tell their partner.

There’s no yelling in FANOS, only love and support.

It’s also the perfect time to share what you’ve been doing in your recovery to maintain sobriety.

Perhaps you talked to your sponsor, or worked on your steps, now’s your chance to let your partner know.

It will help them feel reassured in your recovery.

Credit for FANOS goes to 

Faithful and True Ministries

***

It’d been quite some time since we used the communication tool.

We’d fallen into a comfortable, albeit stagnant, place in our marriage.

We didn’t think we needed it anymore and it slowly fell away.

But, when you’re married to a recovering addict, and you’re one too, you have to work on your recovery every day or things can become wonky. You tend to turn inwards instead of turning to your partner.

FANOS is one of several recovery tools we took out of the program shed, cleaned up, and adapted to use as a new tool that would fit our needs called GRACE  (with a grateful nod to Mrs. Laaser): 

And, things have been smooth ever since. We're back to communicating the way we used to.

G R A C E

Gratitude: I'm all about having an attitude of gratitude. Start off on a positive note and talk about the things that you’re each grateful for that day or that week. It can be something your partner did or said. Or if you’re not in that place at that moment, try to find something else you’re grateful for. Perhaps it’s because you’re having a check-in conversation or you have food on your plates and a roof over your heads. Maybe you’re grateful because you’re healthy, or the sky is so blue today. Maybe you’re grateful the car started or saw a duck crossing the road. Anything you can find, no matter how minute, that you can appreciate. Sometimes having an attitude of gratitude can set the tone for a really good conversation.

Requests:  Are there any requests or desires you’d like your partner to be aware of? Now is a great time to share those requests with your partner. For instance, if you’d like them to call or text you if they're going to be late, or if you’d like to know if they have a sponsor or accountability partner, or maybe you’d like to request a period of abstinence from sex, or maybe you crave thirty minutes of alone time a few days a week so you can spend time working on yourself, this is the perfect place to share those desires.

In turn, they can make requests of you. I feel it’s important to remember to be empathetic at this time. I understand how difficult that can be, especially if there has been a recent slip or if you’re still grappling with emotional struggles that come with disclosure. I admit I was not the best role model for this in the beginning and at times, I struggled to keep my ego in check and had to remind myself that Devin deserves my respect and his addiction does not define him. He has a voice just as much as I do. If I feel the request is leaning towards serving his addiction, well then, I have the right to use that voice and vocalize my concerns being careful not to use that snark that creeps in from time to time.

Acknowledge: This is a chance to acknowledge what you’ve just heard from your partner and make sure you understood their request. It’s okay if you struggle in this department. This is an opportunity to build your communication skills with each other. Echo things back to make sure you're on the same page.

Care: How are you caring for yourselves? Is either of you in a twelve-step program or a face-to-face meeting? Maybe a support group or meeting with a trusted religious leader? If so, now is a great time to talk about the things that resonated with you in your meetings and/or group. Perhaps you’ve decided to start journaling or doing artwork to help alleviate your anxiety, go ahead and take this opportunity to share this with your partner. It’s also a great time to open up and discuss sobriety. If you’re in a twelve-step program or are trying to do a better job at not being hypervigilant or controlling, let your partner know your progress and they can let you know how they are doing in their recovery. It’s important to note that some partners want to know the nitty-gritty details of their loved one’s recovery including the setbacks. I used to be that person. I felt I needed the what, where, when, etc. I eventually figured out that for me, it wasn’t beneficial for my recovery or my healing. It didn’t promote our growth as a couple either. Now, I only need the bare minimums. That’s what works for me. Some people prefer not to know anything at all and have their partners tell their sponsors or accountability partner. It’s whatever works for you and your relationship. There is no right or wrong way; it’s your way. It’s what your emotions can handle.

Emotions:  Now that you’ve discussed your requests and care, this is the perfect time to talk about your emotions.  How do you both feel about what you discussed? Do your best to avoid being like me and answering with the standard, “I’m fine,” because life is just so much easier when we say that, isn’t it? Allow yourself to feel your emotions and then share them, gently, honestly, and calmly with your partner. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Try to finish on a positive note. Let your partner know how much you appreciate their time and their ability to be vulnerable with you, even if it's little stuff, it's something and that's much better than nothing.

What’s your favorite way to connect with your partner? Is it time to clean out your communication shed or garage? What about your real storage place, does that need to be organized?

Taking Things For Granted



“I got a text from Julie at work.  Did you want to read it?” Devin asked.

“No, I appreciate you letting me know you got it though,” I answered.

He looked up from his phone and asked, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah.  Unless she said something you think I should see, I’m fine.  I trust you,” I replied.

He grinned and asked, “Yeah, about what, forty percent of the time?”

“Not at all.  It’s more like ninety-seven percent,” I answered.

“Really?” He asked, surprised.

“Really.  It used to be zero percent, then forty, fifty, than seventy-five.  Now, I trust you almost completely.”

“That’s good to know.  I remember when you asked me how you could stay with a man you didn’t trust at all,” he said.

“I remember that too.  We had several conversations like that after disclosure day,” I said.  I gave him a hug then said, “But, that was over three years ago.  A lot has happened since then.” 

It seems like a lifetime ago when I didn’t believe a word that fell out of Devin’s mouth.  I second-guessed everything he said.  It didn’t matter what it was.  It could be anything from, “the store didn’t have what you needed” or “I was stuck in traffic,” I didn’t have enough faith in him at the time to believe him.  I had just been betrayed beyond anything I could imagine.  He didn’t deserve to be trusted back then.

Slowly, I realized I had to stop focusing on the problem of his sex addiction, and start focusing on the solution.  That meant spending time looking at myself while he tended to his own recovery. 

As he worked his program, I noticed a change in him.  When I realized it was because he wasn’t relying on me to fix him, but rather, he was fixing himself, I took note.  I discovered I could allow myself to start trusting him.  His actions were worth my leap of faith. 

The more my trust in him grew, the better I felt about our future together.  My mistake was not letting him know how much hope I had in him.  I figured he must have known.  I was no longer asking him questions about what he was doing to maintain his recovery.  I could see it for myself.  I didn’t have to ask where he was or what he was doing because he kept me informed.  I thought that because I stopped asking all those questions, he knew I had more faith in him. 
Instead, he felt my trust in him was still low because we never talked about it anymore.  He took it for granted I’d never believe in him again as much as I took it for granted he knew he was trusted.

It was a good lesson for me to learn.  Talk about everything.  Especially when you think the person knows how you feel.  They can’t read your thoughts.  You have to share them.

Have you ever taken anything for granted?

Patience



I think in the age of technology many of us have become impatient.  We’ve forgotten what it’s like to wait for things, no matter how minute.  Think of the last time you went to watch a video online and it took more than ten seconds to load.  I bet you checked to see if you lost your connection.  Maybe you even gave up on the video and moved onto something else entirely.  What about your last drive-thru experience?  Did it take too long to get your food, your money, or your prescription?  Just think, we used to have to get out of our car and walk into the establishment for these services.  The horror!

We’ve become a society of Veruca Salts.  We want it now!


I was one of those people.  Who am I kidding?  I can still be one of those impatient people.  Especially when it comes to something like Devin’s recovery. I sometimes think it will happen overnight.  I fail to remember that each individual moves at different speeds. 

I love to dive in and self-examine and explore.  I’ve recognized I have more work to do so I’m doing another 12-step workbook to challenge myself.  For Devin, it’s not as easy for him to face his flaws.  I can’t expect him to be as gung-ho as I am.  Instead, I can be excited at how far in his program he’s come. 

It wasn’t always this way.  I used to drive myself crazy wondering about the progress of Devin’s recovery.  I thought it only fair because as a couple we’re in this together.  It made sense I be involved in his recovery.  I became confused on what that meant.  I was told to stay away, and then I was told it was okay to ask questions.  What did that mean?

I got clarification from my rockin’ counselor.  She said my way was not the right way.  (I love this lady.  She doesn’t mince words.  My old counselor would have said something like, “not preferable”.)  I was being a dictator by telling him how to work his recovery i.e. attend SAA meetings once a week, see a counselor once a week, do your daily reading, etc. Instead, she said it was acceptable that he understands my expectations for a healthy recovery because it’s part of my boundary agreement.  She also suggested check-in conversations.  We began using FANOS once again.

Once she explained the difference between being a dictator and checking-in with Devin, things seemed to make more sense to me.  I was able to let go of his recovery and let him take charge.  It also gave me a greater sense of patience because I wasn’t so enmeshed in it.  I could step back from it with greater ease and see how much progress he’s made. 

By using FANOS we, even all this time later, connect on a deeper level than we ever had before.  It also provides me with a sense of security that he’s continuing to work on his program.  It provides patience. 
~~~@ ~~~@
I’ll be at the dealership to get my car worked on today. I know I said that the other day but I never made it because I had a migraine.  They are supposed to have wi-fi so I can check my blog.  If not, I apologize for being late getting to your blogs.  

I'm Not His Mommy

source

My rockin’ counselor smiled as I walked into her office.  “How are you, Elsie?  It’s been so long since I’ve seen you alone,” she said.

“I’m doing pretty good.  I’ve got a lot to discuss with you.  I haven’t seen you one-on-one since you got sick.  I guess it’s been three months,” I answered.

My rockin’ counselor had fallen sick in the middle of summer and cancelled all of her appointments. Once she recovered from her illness she chose to only see certain clients.  She began with her sex addicts recovery group that Devin was a part of, then expanded to sex addict’s couple therapy.  She was now ready for individual sessions with spouses of sex addicts.  That’d be me!

“The last time you and Devin were in,” she checked her notes, “you were having some communication issues.  How’s that going?” she asked.

“Much better, I think.  He’s initiating

FANOS

instead of waiting for me.  He’s also sharing more about group and meetings.”

“Has there been ownership?”

“Yes. Devin was anxious to share too.  For the first time in FANOS he shared about a trigger and how he

FRC

’d it,” I said.  

(note: the link to this is a great 

explanation of the program)

“FRC?” my rockin’ counselor asked.

“Face it, replace it, connect.  It’s something he learned while we were were still in 

Candeo

online,” I explained.  “I feel pretty good about our reactions.  I didn’t get anxious from his trigger. I’m proud of him for being comfortable enough to tell me and I let him know.  But there's more.”

I sat back and explained to my rockin counselor Devin’s recent escalation in eBay purchases.  Then, I switched over to his increased need of advice on how to communicate with our daughter.  Advice I’ve given multiple times before.  I told her about two situations that occurred over the weekend that made him feel excluded at the dinner table. An ongoing theme in our home; Devin feeling excluded despite everyone’s effort to include him. Each situation Devin isolated himself rather than reach out to the family when they reached out to him. This has been discussed repeatedly in our rockin’ counselors office in couple’s counseling.

She asked how I responded to Devin.  I explained I provided the advice he sought about our one of kids.  The first time I consoled him on feeling excluded and offered advice.  The second time, I didn’t feel it was productive to feed into his pity party so I simply said, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and left it there.  I explained that more times than not I had been reacting with that response the last few months.

My rockin’ counselor said that was the best course of action to take with Devin. That we had fallen into a

parent-child relationship

with one another at the beginning of our relationship. I had changed the dynamics because I was further along in my recovery.  He was trying to fill that void somewhere else.  He used to fill it with online affairs but now he fills it with his hobby.

It was a very good reminder that it’s not my job to rescue him from his low self-esteem or the fact that he had a crappy childhood.  I gave him all the tools I can, I laid them at his feet, it’s his job to pick them up.  

SAA

gave him all the tools he needed to become sober and he succeeded when I backed off from micro-managing his recovery there.  I need to do the same here.  Love and support him but not parent him.

He’s made significant strides in his SA recovery.  Look at how he opened up in FANOS!  I just have to remember he has work to do in emotional sobriety.  Hell, it took me twenty years before I knew I was an emotional mess and needed a twelve-step program.  The least I can do is be patient with him.

I’m proud of him and I’m proud of me too!  We’ve come a long way, baby.  *Lights imaginary cigarette*  (I still miss those cancer sticks!)