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. 

Compartmentalization showed herself to me



Like the threat of venomous snake’s bite, Compartmentalization showed herself to me briefly yesterday morning as she ran across the hazel of Devin’s eyes.  In a blink she was gone but not before leaving a slight tear across my stomach causing it to awaken.  Familiar feelings of doubt entered into my brain and caused me to enter into a state of hyper arousal.  Rather than fight the feeling, I allowed myself to stay a in a low state of vigilance, remaining aware of any red flags the remainder of the day and reflect back upon what had just happened a few minutes earlier to cause the look in Devin’s eyes.

I proceeded with my day using calming techniques to avoid escalating into full hyper arousal and hyper vigilant activities.  I left the house to stay away from Devin’s computers so I didn’t hack into them.  I ran errands and stay busy.  I prayed, I affirmed my strengths and I assured myself that the gut instinct I had was real and not imagined.

Throughout the day the red flags began to reveal themselves to me.  The various telltale signs that Devin shows when he has had a slip or relapse.  The urge to confront him about my suspicions was strong but I waited until our FANOS session that evening.

During FANOS, “O” is for OWERSHIP – a chance to apologize for any wrong doings, however Devin has been using this as a chance to say “it's been another sober day” for the last two weeks and using “S” as his list for what he’s done for Self-care to keep sober. 

We each took our turns and as the same for the last two weeks, “been another sober day” left his lips, but compartmentalization showed herself to me yet again.  She was lurking behind his eyes, which he quickly turned away from me.

When asked again, the truth of the relapse came out in full.   He broke one of his inner-circle behaviors.  When he told me, I didn’t get angry, I didn’t cry, I simply thanked him for being honest and reminded him about the importance of being open and honest with me during FANOS the first time.  He responded by letting me know that because I didn’t get upset, I had made it easier for him to do just that if a slip or relapse happened again.  He went on to assure me exactly what happened and that it didn't include any other bottom line behaviors.

After FANOS we sat and we talked for a long, long time. 
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Compartmentalization showed herself to me this morning in the form of denial.  She never ceases to amaze me by her never ending supply of masks.  She is a sneaky little bitch.  I hope Devin can kick her ass because I want my husband back from her.  I miss him terribly.

FANOS

photo credit

Today is about a great tool I'd like to share for couples struggling with sex addiction.

F.A.N.O.S

Couples in recovery need to stay connected emotionally, and addicts' spouses need to get consistent updates about sobriety.  It is the key to keeping us sane. Most couples find that in the busyness of a typical week, this connection gets easily lost.

Over time,

Mark and Debbie Laaser

 have developed an acronym for couples to use as a guide for regular "check in" conversations.  These conversations can be long or short, it's up to you.  Devin and I tend to keep our conversations anywhere from fifteen minutes to thirty minutes long. Mr. and Mrs. Laaser use the acronym FANOS - from the Greek word phainos which means "to bring to light" - to guide the conversation:

FANOS is a safe place for open, honest discussion with no yelling or judgment.

F

eelings – describe what / how you're feeling

Each person take turns describing their feelings for the day.  Sometimes it's brief, sometimes it's more in depth depending upon our day. The spouse goes over any triggers, anger or disappointments felt throughout the day.  The SA talks about stresses s/he felt, anger, disappointments, anything that can lead them to trigger.  It's also a time to share happiness and success

.

A

ffirmations – find one or two things you want to affirm (they should be about your spouse)

We find different things to affirm in each other i.e.: our love, our faith in the other's recovery, patience, open and honest communication etc.

N

eeds – something you need today

We take turns sharing one or two needs.  Usually one will be for ourselves and one will be from the other.  i.e.  "I need you to know it's safe for you to talk to me,"  and "I need to dedicate more time to either my step work or reading."

O

wnership – something you’ve done or said that you take responsibility / apologize for

An opportunity to say, "I'm sorry, this is what I did today." or "I'm sorry, this is what I said today."    

S

obriety or Self-Care

 – 

The sex addict will report on their sobriety. The spouse will report on the status of their self care (or sobriety if appropriate). You may do sobriety if you're working a 12-step recovery and have a sobriety date for stopping codependent, hyper vigilant or etc. 

It's important to remember that this is a safe place where there is no judgment.  When a slip is disclosed by the SA or spouse there should be no yelling.  Try to be as understanding as possible.

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For those in reconciliation with a recovering sex addict try using this acronym as a guide for a conversation with your spouse every day or every few days. You will be amazed at the sense of ongoing intimacy you experience.


ETA:

We used FANOS, created by Debbie Laaser from Faithful and True for a long time. As our needs changed, so did our check-in conversations. Now if we need them, we use my updated communication tool (with a grateful nod to Mrs. Laaser): I call it GRACE since these talks were my saving grace during that difficult time.

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 duckling 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 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 a 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. Goodness knows I did. I discuss this in detail later in the book.

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. If need be, take a few of those calming breaths we talked about. 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 truly 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.

My Eyes Were Wide Shut

can't give proper credit - it floated around Facebook for a few weeks so I'll guess Fave Quotes?




How fantastic was yesterday?  I've never been so excited to see the banter and the comments go back and forth on my blog before.  It was like being DezAnne or Pat for a day (with 1/8 of the following)! Tons of fun!  I seriously don't know how you guys with a big following do it.  Thank you to all the new people who stopped by to say hello to me and to my Hooligans who went and visited Dez.  

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Here's that disclaimer I'm kind enough to provide: this post will most likely be long and rambling; it will be one full of jumbled thoughts because I'm sorting through some emotions since Devin's relapse and my decision to stay through the summer and see if his attempt at recovery improves.  It's been some what of a hit and miss thus far.  So, now's your chance - RUN to another blog - quick - if you're looking for humor or something quick.

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As I cleaned yesterday, I realized I never would have asked Devin for the divorce had he not relapsed.  For had he not relapsed his behavior would not have changed so drastically that we were unable to communicate for those few weeks leading up to that horrible weekend.  I finally understood that he felt cornered by me and was not stable enough in his recovery to react in a healthy manner.  Instead, he withdrew from me.  He told me what I wanted I wanted to hear, then did what he wanted to do regardless of my observations of shifting addictions.  This caused me to become angry and then we fought and entered into an unhealthy cycle of fighting which pushed him further away until he finally slipped then relapsed.  The red flags were there but because he had been sober for so long, over a year, I refused to fully see them.  My eyes were wide shut.  (Totally stole the movie title there.)  

Where does that leave me now?  I'm dealing with the exact same thing I was dealing with a year ago:  How will Devin handle his recovery?  The answer is clearer now than it was before.  Yet the answer is the same:  On his own.  I can't be his helping hand.  No more gentle reminders to call his sponsor (he forgot last night because he was doing his homework), or leading questions about reading his literature (which he did after his homework) or working his program (hasn't done since Friday but who's keeping track?).  

I have put his recovery back down before him.  Completely.  Mentally.  In my head it's in a brown box, taped shut and Devin stands before it...all he has to do is pick it up...it's all his now.  I'm done.  There's a box right next to it, wide open it's contents scattered across the ground.  That one is mine.  It's my recovery.  It looks pretty messy but it's not.  Everyday the box is packed and unpacked; affirmation cards read, prayers said, eyes looked at in the mirror and a mantra of affirmation of beauty and strength said, deep breaths completed...whatever else pops into my head done for the day.  That box is frayed from much use, overuse....because PTSD from a partner's sex addiction is a bitch.

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The hardest thing to recover from is broken trust.  There was no cheating during this relapse.  If there was, I'd be long gone.  There would be no Summer of Elsie, there'd be How Fast Can Elsie's Car Drive Away From Here?  And while the wise ass in me wants to say "Hooray Devin for only looking at porn" the reality is, "a lie, is a lie, is a lie."  You told me you were sober, dammit!  For a month!

The other reality is that aside from the fact that my trust factor meter has been set back to a big fat zero.  I also have to deal with Devin being in the world of readjusting to sobriety again.  He swings from complete understanding to complete self pity. I either want to hug him or hit him.  In a matter of moments. It angers me to know that all it took was me putting pressure on him for him relapse, then I sit and think no...it was him not applying himself fully into his own recovery that caused the relapse...then I get angry.  

Then, I think...why am I angry?  I didn't cause it.  It's not my fault.  I can't control it.  Only he can take control over this and then I focus back on me and back on what I plan on doing this summer...the Summer of Elsie.




>>>I have a doctor's appointment - so I'm going to hit publish, hop in the shower and take off...I'll be back to comment on your blogs this afternoon