To Trust or To Snoop?

from where else? Bing

Trusting your gut. 

Many of us do it without giving it a second thought.  Maybe you did it last weekend when you made your football picks.  Thankfully, my Giants didn’t have to play and I was saved that humiliation.  I can’t say the same for this week.

Let’s take it a bit further. Perhaps you trusted your gut on your way to work this morning and you left a few minutes early.  You don’t really know why, but your instinct told you it was best to walk out your front door five minutes earlier than normal, so you did.  You didn’t question it.  You just got in car and left.  Maybe you avoided a traffic jam.  Or even a car accident.  You’ll never know.

Many moms understand this on an even deeper level.  A mother’s instinct, that gut feeling, can tell you something is wrong with your child.  It can scream at times.  It alerts us before something has happened to our precious little ones.

Then, there are people like me.

I managed to screw up my God given gift.  Not through any fault of my own though. Mine was a wreck thanks to relational trauma caused when I found out about Devin’s sex addiction.  The PTSD from the trauma caused me to become hypervigilant.  I acted on every suspicion I had about Devin.

I never allowed myself time to relax and settle back down.  I lived in an almost constant state of anxiousness.  If I suspected Devin was surfing porn, I’d run to the computer and check.  I’d spend hours wasting away trying to dig up some kind of evidence of him looking at porn or having an online affair.  That led me to forums on sex addiction and betrayal.  I kept myself in a negative mindset.

Then, Devin would do something completely innocent but to me, it was a red flag.  I’d be back at the computer again.  Wasting my time and energy.  Every time I closed my laptop, I felt sad and defeated.  Sometimes, I was even disappointed I didn’t find anything.  At least if I found something, I wouldn’t have squandered away so much time for nothing. 

Eventually, it dawned on me.  I couldn’t trust my gut anymore.  I lost the ability to know when something was “off” with Devin.  Those of you married to an addict know they have “tells.”  Things they do or say when they are headed down the wrong path in their recovery. 

When I wasn’t able to quiet my mind enough to calm it, I knew things had to change.  I stopped being hypervigilant.  It was a difficult journey for me.  It meant entering a world of not knowing.  Not knowing what Devin was or was not doing was frightening.  It meant learning how to trust.  I had to begin placing my belief in him and in myself.

I had to hope he would come to me when things were headed down a slippery slope.  I also had to believe that I could trust my gut. 

In time, my gut instinct came back.  I could see clearly when Devin’s recovery wasn’t going as well as it should be.  I trusted my instincts and talked to him when I felt it was necessary.  Each time it’s been for good cause.  Then came the time I hoped for, he came to me.

I think it’s okay to trust.  It’s also okay to verify, with your spouse’s knowledge…none of this spyware crap unless you’re both on board with it.  To me, if you’re spying on your spouse because you’re afraid they’ll act out again or because they’re not working they’re program then you need to have a serious talk with your spouse. Not spy on them.  You’ll just drive yourself bananas.  If they want to act out, they will.   Not to mention, you’re expecting transparency from them.  Shouldn’t they get it from you too?

Devin and I have an agreement when it comes to trust but verify:  If I have a feeling he’s surfing, or I trigger and it results in me looking at any of his devices or tracking him on his phone, then I tell him within twenty-four hours.

Although, I can’t recall the last time I’ve done either of those things.  My gut instinct has been very calm.  I like it that way. 

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.  

The Avoidant

source

Yep, another post from me.

Two days in a row, can you believe it?

The kids are back in school and blogging can become a regular part of my week.

I just need to figure out a schedule.

Sorry guys but I’m doing another post about sex addiction.  I normally don’t do two in one week but, meh, I’ve been gone for awhile.  Plus, I was pretty excited to find the link below and wanted to share it with those who may need it.

Now then, where was I?  Right, revelations.  Not the Bible chapter but self-discovery.  Yesterday, I talked about the importance of not being a parent to Devin any more.  That type of relationship is toxic in a marriage.

While doing some research on Devin's recent diagnosis of SLA vs SA, I discovered a fantastic

webpage

, and found that Devin and I fit this pattern almost perfectly.  Or, more accurately, we

used

to fit this pattern. 

Person

Desires

Attracted to

Behaviors

Process of person's relationships

Love addict

Security, safety acceptance, “oneness” (merger)

Fears:

Greatest fear is abandonment

Underlying fear is healthy intimacy (in enmeshment the core of the person is actually sealed off)

Self-contained individuals who appear strong, stable (often avoidant or obsessive compulsive, like their families of origin)

Line up next relationship before leaving current one--forming love triangles

Instant closeness, looking for “magic” feeling

Idealizing partner

Obsessing about partner

Talking obsessively to others about him or her

Acting out anger and revenge for being abandoned

Enters relationship in haze of fantasy--found this stable, strong, accepting individual

Gets high from fantasy

Denies how walled in avoidant really is

Avoidant gradually becomes distant and shuts down, abandons relationship in some way

Love addict acts out anger & revenge, turns to affairs and addictive sex

Partner capitulates and renews relationship, or love addict moves on to new relationship

Sense of self and self esteem does not develop--love addict remains in dependent position. Ability to tolerate fear and discomfort must develop for growth to occur

Avoidant

Wants to be connected, but not closely

Fears:

Greatest fear is intimacy/engulfment

Can have a hard time rejecting others or saying no

Individuals who provide much of the enthusiasm and intimacy for both of them

Ambivalence all the way through may be in relationship because can't say no

May show initial traditional romantic pursuing, but ultimately enters relationship because love addict provides most of the “intimate energy”; may fear would never make into a relationship otherwise

As love addict wants more and more attention avoidant attempts to please by giving it to them--at least initially

Eventually avoidant becomes overwhelmed by enmeshment and/or neediness of love addict, becomes critical, and eventually backs off from relationship or abandons it

Feels relationship has failed, sometimes gets involved with addictive behavior or affairs to distance, distract, or numb out

May return to relationship out of guilt or fear of being totally alone, or moves on to connect with another partner

Cycle of abandoning and returning can go on and on, especially if love addict starts to move on

If you didn’t figure it out, I’m the

avoidant

in this scenario.  I feared intimacy with someone and getting too close.  It made me feel vulnerable.  That fear was created after my first husband died.  I also thought I’d lose my sense of independence that I worked so hard to achieve after his death. 

What I didn’t realize was what an emotional mess I was inside after his death.  Instead of fixing myself, I focused on fixing others.  Some of you in a relationship with an addict may be nodding your heads right about now.  We tend to want to rescue people from their problems.  I tried to “fix” two alcoholics before I met Devin.  I didn’t even see the pattern of my relationships until I wrote them down while doing my step work.  How crazy is that?

The last column describes part of my relationship with Devin that are so painful to even think about.  It includes everything from me backing away from our relationship and then returning out of guilt to engaging in his addictive behaviors in an attempt to rescue our marriage. 

While it’s been a wild and crazy journey, I can truly say I look back on what I’ve been through with Devin with appreciation.  I never would have done this much work on myself had disclosure not happened.  Our marriage wouldn’t be as strong as it is now if he didn’t have the courage to tell me the truth and to get help.  We are better people today then we were in 2009-2010.

***

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!)

The Old Vs. The New


The Old:

“I’m leaving.  Have a good day.  I love you.”

The New:

“I’m leaving.  I hope you feel better. Need anything before I go? I love you.”

The Old:

“When will dinner be done?”

The New:

“Want some company in the kitchen?”

The Old:

“The meeting was fine.  It was cold in there. A lot of guys showed up.”

The New:

“Today I shared about my dad and I could tell it struck a cord with some of the guys.”
 ~~~@
I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve shared anything about Devin, especially anything positive, about his recovery and I have to keep reminding myself of the reason I started blogging.  To give other people who stumble upon it and those who lurk, hope, not just for themselves but hope in their partner too.

I remember reading how high the relapse rate for sex addiction was back in 2010-2011 when the only things I read were sex addiction related.  I was terrified and everyday I feared Devin would relapse and somehow I managed to make his relapse all about me.  When the first relapse came with a porn site less than a month after disclosure, I panicked but we worked through it.  A few months later, another relapse, I collapsed again.  That was it!  I was going to file for divorce.  That was a year ago and he’s been sober ever since.  Recovery can work, if you work it.

Why?  I don’t know.  End of post.

No, I’m kidding.  As much as I whine and complain about Devin’s recovery work, he has come a long way and he does a lot.  He has a sponsor that is tough on him when he needs to be.  If Devin isn’t sharing enough in the meetings or is showing up late or leaving early, no matter what the reason, his sponsor won’t meet with him for their weekly discussions.  His sponsor enforced this once and Devin got angry but when his sponsor didn’t budge, Devin did as his sponsor requested and now they are back on track again. Devin is gaining more from his meetings by sharing with everyone and gets more feedback after the meetings are over too.

He’s also begun attending a group meeting and while he was gung-ho in the beginning to get started because our counselor felt he was becoming stagnant in his recovery and without attending the group he may slip, he had it in his head that he only needed to go every other week.  Our rockin’ counselor let him know he needed to attend every week to reap the proper benefits.  Now that he’s been going, he really likes it because it’s small and they have a chance to interact with each other and with our counselor.  Who rocks, by the way.

Communication can still be an effort at times but for everybody all the way around it’s improving.  Especially between he and the kids.  He’s struggling with overcoming being the “stepdad” and not being close to them at the height of his addiction.  There was never yelling and screaming, there was just not much of anything for two years.  Devin and I still struggle at times to communicate yet we always make it through and thankfully we’ve gotten past the silent treatments for days on end and the “I’m fine” when it’s really, “You have just pissed me off!”
This is not our spare room.  Not even close!
 The spare room aka his hobby.  I will put this in the Work In Progress category.  It’s rare that anything arrives from ebay so if your stock in them recently went down, my apologies.  He spent some time in there on Sunday but got derailed when he saw I was watching iRobot.  (Scary, spellchecker didn’t grab that word, are there robots among us?)  

I have completely almost….detached from that room.  In fact, I redecorated my family room with my tax refund, shit I need to file that sucker, when I redecorated, I put up sheer curtains so I don’t see inside there.  I asked my counselor if that was putting myself in denial and she said, “No, Elsie, it’s called redecorating.”  She also explained this is something I am going to have to be patient with, his hobby. 

To me, it’s a bunch of plastic and toys and boxes that can easily be discarded (sold).  To him, it’s the one part of his identity he’s got left that wasn’t fucked up, that he didn’t destroy.  Add a touch of OCD to that mix; a dash of addiction and a man who is still working the beginnings of his steps and the end result is a room full of a hobbyist’s wet dream.

At his last appointment, he sat down with our rockin’ counselor and decided it was time to start taking action.  Looking at where he was a year ago, Devin has made great progress.  Looking at where he was two years ago, Devin has made outstanding progress.
~~~@  ~~~@
 This is a scheduled post and I am supposed to be sitting in the dealership getting work done on my car.  They promised wi-fi but if I’m late getting to you, I totally blame them!

Add a Tool to My Toolbox


Here’s your chance my Hooligan’s, your chance to run to another blog.  This may turn out to be long only because I don’t know exactly where it’s headed.  It’s one of my “back to the roots” posts, where I allow my mind to journal and think.  At the end, fun!  I promise.
source

The other day, I did something I never thought I’d ever do.  I attended an AA meeting.  Wow, just wow.  From the moment I stepped out of my car to the moment I said good-bye, I felt welcomed, loved, and a sense of belonging.  It was truly amazing.

I don’t know why I feared anything different.  We treat newcomers to S-Anon the same way, yet I was still scared to attend.  I was afraid because I’ve been drug free for so long, they wouldn’t understand why I was there, but there was no inquisition.  No one asked why I was there. They simply accepted my need to attend a meeting.

I was greeted with a bright smile and hello in the parking lot and accompanied to the door.  I was welcomed to a table and invited to sit down.  The fear of cliques dissipated as I watched people go from table to table and hug one another, men and women alike greeted each other, introduced themselves, and got older attendees their coffee.  I was surprised to feel a smile on my face in a place I had been so nervous to be not even five minutes before.

For months I have been missing something.  Something inside me is no longer able to hang on to the peace and serenity I found after I worked my fourth step.  I lost my emotional sobriety and I miss it terribly.  I long for it back.

What is emotional sobriety?  For me, it’s being able to feel my feelings.  All of them and handle them properly, without a constant feeling of discontent and unsettlement.  It’s so hard to explain once you’ve reached a place of calm and that calm feeling has left.  It’s like having an empty pit within you.

I’m not running around screaming at people but the desire to do it is there.  It has happened a time or two with Devin where I’ve made snarky comments and that’s not healthy for either one of us.

I knew it had to do with Devin’s recovery.  He has reached a plateau, according to our counselor, and without a change in his treatment plan, he is in danger of another relapse.  His behavior has become erratic as he works his fourth step and while I understand this on a rational level, it’s hard to understand as the person living with him.  He understands the need for changes and he makes them but then reverts back to old habits. 

Instead of being able to distance myself, instead of finding the compassion I’ve had in the past as a fellow addict, I became frustrated and impatient.  I am more like Veruca Salt, I wanted it NOW!  I still stayed out of his recovery, I still stayed out of his collecting and buying habit but I no longer fight fairly.  I am allowing myself to be baited instead of walking away.  I am engaging in behavior that isn’t healthy for me.

I know I cannot change him.  Only he can change himself.  This meant something needed to be done for me.  There was something I needed to do, another tool I needed to add to my toolbox but I wasn’t sure what.  Then I realized I needed to address my core issues, sure, I was sober but I’m still an addict.

An addict who never addressed her addiction with any type of counseling or any type of program.  I just quit drugs cold turkey and considered myself magically cured.  It was through the S-Anon program that I realized it doesn’t work like that, not even close bub!

I chose that particular meeting because of the time and location and it was truly a God send.  I left feeling less empty inside.  My spiritual cup had been filled.  Not my religious cup, my spiritual cup.  There is a difference.  Again, hard to explain unless you’ve sat in on a meeting.  There is so much hope, so much love, so much understanding and so much compassion.  It’s like getting a giant hug and knowing you’re not alone.  Even though you don’t quite know what’s wrong inside, you’re not alone.

I’m not sure this made sense but I wanted to share it just the same.

Now for the fun stuff I promised.  I was watching my beloved Fox News and saw a highlight of the Harlem Shake.  Take time to laugh today, my friends, I did:

NSFW


Dear Me



I wish in several years ago when my world had collapsed upon itself someone could have sat me down and said, “Elsie, I know what you went through sucked but you are one tough chick and a shit storm is headed your way and you need to surround yourself with people who understand it not people who are toxic.”  I wish someone had done that.  Instead, God sent me a guardian angel and she sent me on the right path but I still strayed, I still went on my own stubborn headed agenda. I’m here to set the record straight and also try to help others avoid making the same mistakes:

Dear Me,

I’m sorry you just found about Devin’s online affair.  I'm sorry it wasn't just porn. But I’m glad you found that backbone of yours again because unfortunately you’re going to need it again soon.  Please listen to your guardian angel when she says Devin is a sex addict because he is, I’m so sorry. Elsie your world is about to be turned upside down but know you can handle it, you’ve been through some tough shit in your life but now is the time to stand strong and focus on you and your children.

Listen to your guardian angel, she’s been put in your life for a reason and won't be here long.  She is telling you about COSA and S-Anon for a reason.  Every fiber of your being wants to focus on Devin and his behaviors, his problems, soon you will want to focus on his affairs, yes there are more.  You’ll want to focus on the women too. Trust me, they aren’t worth your time and they sure aren’t worth neglecting time away from your kids.  They were objects to Devin, nothing more, nothing less and it is you that is making them larger than life while damaging yourself in the process.  Trust me, the images you see will come back to haunt you along with all the words and details you will learn.  They will pop up when you least expect it and at the most intimate moments and ruin far to many days ahead.

There is a piece of wisdom you don’t hesitate to share with Devin yet you don’t seem to see the wisdom in it for yourself.  You tell Devin if he spent as much time on his recovery as he did on his addiction he’d be so much further along by now.  Take a look in the mirror, Elsie.  After your second disclosure day, again, I’m sorry you’ll have another, you spend far to much time obsessing on the other women, then you move on to obsessing over Devin’s recovery.  If you spent that time working on YOU, you yourself would be a healthier person too.

I beg of you, give one of the 12 step programs a chance.  You walked in with such a chip on your shoulder despite your relationship with God.  You couldn’t admit your life was also out of control, you couldn’t admit you needed outside help from others because your massive pride was in the way – take help from others.  These women will help you.  They understand like no others can.  The programs work.  It’s not about “their” religion, it’s not a cult, there’s not some bizarre motive.  It just works. 

If you don't reach out to a program, reach out to a healthy place like church, a counselor or someone who doesn't bash your husband or being a sex addict.  He's a sick person, not a bad person.  Don't let people tell you otherwise.

Trust me.  I’m not going to lie, you’re in for some pretty fucked up times, but you’ll get through it and I think if you had a better network of friends, like COSA or S-Anon, you’d get through it much better.  Oh, and one last tid bit of advice…don’t tell your friends or your family.  You think it’s a great idea.  I assure you, it’s not.  It changes everything, even years later.

I'm happy to say things do get so much better!  You become a much emotionally, healthier person - through the help of a 12 step program.  As they say, it works if you work it.

Love,

Me.

Tools in my Toolbox


I walked into the familiar room and began setting up.  The smell of stale coffee hung in the air, paperwork from yesterday’s meeting from a different group laid upon the table.  I picked it up and placed it neatly back in it’s display rack for them.  I grabbed our group’s cloth bag and walked over to the small wooden table located in the center of the room.  The table was surrounded by a tiny, worn loveseat, a matching equally worn chair and half dozen metal chairs.

I laid out the brochures, as I had done week after week, month after month, adding to the stacks as our little S-Anon group had grown in size, and one brochure caught my eye.  It was about a sponsoring and being sponsored.  I picked it up and re-read it. 

I ran through its message in my mind about paying it forward, being a service to others and allowing others to be a service to you.  One person helping another person. Being instruments of God and being a helpful tool in someone’s toolbox.   

As I read through the literature again, the door opened and a new person walked through.  I welcomed her, showed her the brochures and listened to her story until other members arrived and we began our meeting.  The topic for the meeting was taken from the daily reader: the gift of sponsorship, the gift of service, the gift of having tools in your toolbox.

I shared that I had just been reading through sponsorship material before the meeting started and as I spoke I realized that wasn’t what I was meant to be sharing.  I knew I was meant to share my need for my tools in my toolbox instead.  That although I was one of the veteran members of the group, I still had a need to reach into my toolbox and use those tools; my sense of humor, my blog, a journal entry, phone calls to S-Anon members, service work, prayer, talking to Devin, Affirmation Cards, Steps, just to name a few, when my life became unmanageable because of triggers.

I had become complacent and hadn’t set up my own precautions for the upcoming passing of the two-year mark since my Disclosure Week. I have changed that now and I will keep working on not becoming complacent again.  I reached out to friends, family, God and most of all, Devin.  We spent another weekend communicating by our chiminea.

Is Forgiveness Really Possible?



“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to bump into you.” Says the random stranger.

“No problem.” We answer, their clumsiness easy for us to understand because we’ve done it ourselves.

“I’m not able to give you that day off, I’m sorry.”  Your supervisor says.

“I understand.” You respond, and, you do understand because sometimes these things happen at work.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you mom and dad.  I thought you’d be mad so I lied.  I didn’t want to disappoint you.  I knew what I did was wrong but I didn’t think you’d find out.  I’m sorry.”  Says your teenage child who you raised to know the difference between right and wrong and still chose the wrong path.

Disappointed you answer, “We forgive you but you need to understand the lies hurt us more than what you did.  You’re grounded.”  You hope they’ve learned from their mistake.
 no source-got this from Facebook forever ago
“I’m sorry I betrayed you, Elsie.  I’m sorry I lied.  I’m sorry I broke our marriage vows.  Please forgive me.” Devin said months after Disclosure Week.

“I’m working on it.” Was all I could promise him at the time.

It took me over a year to feel a full and complete forgiveness for what Devin had done during the course of our marriage because I had yet to forgive myself for what I had done so how could I forgive him?  It took my rockin’ counselor to point that out.

When she did, the seed was planted and I eventually cultivated it enough to realize I truly had to stop feeling shame, guilt and anger for what I had done during our marriage; i.e. not leaving when I said I would, participating in things that made me uncomfortable. 

Ultimately, I forgave myself.  I came to realize I was a product of my environment.  I had been thrown into a situation I had not been prepared for and did what I had to do, one that came shrouded in many labels, none of which I wanted to hear; co-dependent, co-addict, enabler.  I prefer the one I dubbed myself: survivor.  I shrug off the rest.

After picking myself apart piece by broken piece during my fourth step, it was then that I found I had truly forgiven my husband along the way.  It was during that difficult process of self-examination I found myself, my true self, flaws and all.  It’s what helped me understand my husband is no different than me.  He simply encountered his addiction later in life.  Mine occurred in my teens and I got sober over twenty years ago.  His occurred in his thirties and he’s sober, struggling at times, but sober.  He’s remorseful, he’s empathic, he’s working his program, he’s learning communication and stopping protective responses. 

So, what made it so hard to forgive him in the beginning?  The addiction itself is personal.  It’s something that comes up at our S-Anon meetings from time to time.  How personally devastating this particular disease is to the partners of the addicts.  We have a hard time remembering “It’s not about us.”, “It’s not our fault.”, “It’s not about sex.”, “The women/men are just objects.”; because we’ve had our self-esteem trampled upon. We’ve been personally and usually sexually betrayed.

After forgiving myself, seeing my own personal flaws and imperfections I was truly able to forgive him too.  I could once and for all say with honesty, “I forgive you now.  I know your addiction made you cheat.  You didn’t wake wondering how to hurt me.  Your disease caused you to do it.”  I finally understood.

From there, I was also able to release my anger at the women he cheated on me with and replace it with a sense of compassion instead.  Imagine the pain they have inside them too?  Much like Devin, they too are hurting inside.  

Once the forgiveness happened, the trust also began to build too.  Will I ever have 100% trust in him?  No.  He promises me his addiction will never go to that depth again, porn and masturbation he can’t promise, but cheating of any sort he can because he knows the consequence – loss of me.  Yet, I still withhold my full trust because the damage was too severe. 

Yet, I trust him more now than I ever thought possible.  Enough to not laugh in disbelief when he speaks of renewing our vows on our tenth anniversary and lighting a sky candle to begin anew again.
 This is written to let you know, yes, you can forgive. You know who you are.

This is not about me being strong; it's to help someone else.  I hope you're reading today.  Love you hard!

~~~

To update on a post from last week about communication for those of you interested:  Devin is back to his old “new” self again.  He had a great counseling session and was even able to come to terms with the issue was having with religion.  I’m so happy for him.

Communication Derailment


It’s no wonder I love to blog.  I’m a talker.  Look at the length of my posts.  It’s rare you’ll find one under six hundred words.  Communication is vital to me.  It’s why I created family meetings when the kids were younger.  They needed to know they had a safe place to talk when things were on their mind.  This past weekend was one of communication.

No, wait, allow me to rephrase that.  It was one of heartbreak.  It was one of constant derailment.  It was one of teaching and one of learning.

My husband fails at communication.  This is of no surprise to me.  It is also no surprise to him.  It is something he is working on and he has made significant progress but something he needs constant improvement upon.  No, it’s not because he’s a man.  It’s because of how he was raised.  FOO issues.  “Children should be seen and not heard.” – That’s what he was taught. 

Over the last couple of months I’ve noticed he’s begun to withdraw inside himself.  I thought it was stress from school; his term lasts five weeks and the classes he was taking were difficult but the last term wasn’t as stressful and the term he’s in now isn’t causing as much stress as the previous term.  I married a very smart man.

Of course the doubt and fear set in for me.  The withdrawal equated to the old days.  My increase in Migraines, my inability to work, led me to wonder if he was slipping again.  I counted the months since his last relapse with porn and knew he was at a crucial point in his sobriety; I worried about his problem with his step work and it kept leading me to believe a slip must have occurred or was about to happen.

I decided to dig my heels in and really talk to him after he came home from his meeting the other night.  It began as it always does between the two of us.  Me letting him know “reason for the talk”.  Him “denying any problems”. I do my best to remain patient but it’s hard because of the nagging fear he’s had a relapse and hasn’t told me.

We derail from our point of conversation by discussing my own withdrawal away from him when he comes home.  I admit he’s right and tell him why; because when this topic came up a week ago we agreed to touch base every night before sitting in front of the television, opening up laptops or even getting involved with the kids’ day.  We agreed to spend just fifteen minutes of “us” time.  The very next day after we had that talk, he came home and turned on the television and ignored me.  I was pissed and withdrew.  I let him know I was tired of being the one to make the effort of communicating all the time.

In that same conversation last week, we agreed to get back to FANOS two or three times a week.  We didn’t FANOS one time.  He blamed me because I didn’t initiate it.  He explained he is afraid to initiate FANOS because he lied to me during it and it pissed me off.  Fair enough, I can see how this would cause him to hesitate beginning the conversation.

However, we were still diverting away from the original topic at hand – his withdrawal and his lack of communication.

I tried again.  He blamed school.  I tried again.  He blamed something else.  Until finally, after derailing half a dozen times, we got to the heart of the matter:

Self esteem.

The man I am so proud of lacks self esteem and there is not a damn thing I can do about it.  To hear the things he said about himself broke my heart.  As I pointed out all of the good qualities he had, he countered with something bad.  The uniform he wore so proudly for twenty-four years is now hanging in the closet collecting dust and he lives in the past.  Instead of holding his head high for the medals and ribbons he earned while serving his country, he focuses on having to start over in his forties and the hatred people feel for America and the military.  It brings tears to my eyes just to type it because he’s right.  We hear it and see it every day.

I am left to wonder if he is unable to forgive himself for what he did during our marriage although I have forgiven him. Or was his upbringing lacking the love he needed, now that he’s sober and working on his steps, facing his demons he’s lost.  Perhaps that’s why he’s having such a hard time allowing God to help him?  He kept telling me he couldn’t release anything to God because it was his responsibility, his burden to carry.  God didn’t do it, God gave him free will and he took it and fucked it up all on his own and to let it go would be the coward’s way.

Somehow, I think the low self-esteem and his step work go hand in hand.  I just wish I knew how to help him aside from reminding him how much I love him and appreciate him.