Archive | Just About Me RSS feed for this section

Living in the Now

6 Jun

It seems like I blinked and this year is already halfway over.  I suppose that’s a good sign, though, because when things aren’t going well time seems to drag on endlessly.  I’ve been keeping busy with school and work and living life in general.  I’m just a few classes away from getting my MBA, which will be so great to have done.  I’m happy to report that I’ve kept up my 4.0 GPA while maintaining a sometimes hectic work schedule.  I’m also moving forward into the final stages of getting my house sold.  That will be a nice weight off of my shoulders.

Buddy has also moved in with us.  He’s been there almost a week, and he’s adjusting fine.  I did have to get the procedure done on his other eye, so he is now completely blind.  The good part about that is that he can’t have any more painful pressure spikes.  All of his vets say he’s in great shape and health, and he doesn’t seem distressed at all.  His eye specialist told me that dogs transition into being blind much better than humans because dogs live in the moment.  They don’t think about the past or the future.  They just accept the reality they are in and learn to adapt to it.

That is a really beautiful sentiment that has popped into my mind more than once since then.  When I think of all the time I spend thinking about the past or worrying about the future, it makes me stop and consider how much effort I’m giving to the now.  How often am I completely present in the moment?  Sadly, not very often.  The amount of time I spend thinking about things that have already happened or things that I need to do is staggering.  It’s also mostly pointless.

So I’ve started trying to notice more of the things that are great about right now.  When I’m in the car, I roll the windows down to feel the wind in my hair and turn the music up.  I think about the words and the listen to the rhythm and instruments.  At work it’s harder, but I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time.  At home I know Tony has caught me just looking at him and smiling more than once.  I want to memorize his facial expressions and notice the things that make him break out in a big grin.  Those little moments are some of the best parts of life, and I don’t want to miss out on them.

Other than that, there’s not a lot to report.  Most days I’m so ridiculously happy it’s sickening.  When I’m not, it’s because I’ve gotten lost in my head.  I’ve got a new therapist who is wonderful, and I feel like I’m actually working toward something again instead of just chatting with a friend.  All in all, life is fantastic.  I can’t think of a time when I’ve felt more content and fulfilled and loved.

Advertisements

How Things Change in a Year

9 Apr

A year ago today, on April 9th, 2012, I wrote my first blog post.  It wasn’t especially great. However, it was the first step in a life-altering process.

This last year has brought more change and growth than I ever could have anticipated.  In the past 365 days I have shared my hopes, fears, and dreams on my blog.  I have gone through low lows and high highs. I have cried and laughed. I have felt trapped and freer than ever before.

A year ago today I was confused, hurting, and feeling very betrayed. I decided to start a blog with the intent of getting the words out of my head. I never thought anyone would read it. I certainly had no idea of the community I would find and the friends I would make.

When I started this blog I was one year past DDay. I was still feeling lost and angry. I was discovering lies and struggling with his mood swings and lack of motivation. He said what I wanted to hear, then did the exact opposite. He would rage and then “love bomb” me (another term I learned from Paula). I felt crazy.

Today I am less than a week from starting the divorce process. I feel strong and confident. I’m halfway through my first MBA class, and I currently have a 100% average. I drove around today in my car with the windows open, my arm out the window and the radio blaring. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do besides sing at the top of my lungs and enjoy the 92(!) degree weather.

This last year has been hard and wonderful and full of insights. Thanks for your part in that! Here’s hoping the next year is even better. Cheers!

image

My Beautiful Mess of 2012 in Review

31 Dec

This year has been one of great change for me.  I started this blog back in March, and in less than a full year it has helped me make a number of life-changing choices and decisions.  I have grown more than I ever imagined possible.  I fully believe that I will look back on 2012 as one of the most important journeys I have ever embarked on.

That was possibly because of all of you.  Truly.  The feedback and support I got was invaluable.  I have learned so many things about myself.  I have become stronger, more confident, and aware of what I deserve from life.  I have laughed with you, cried with you, and drawn courage from your stories.  I couldn’t be more grateful.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.  I included some of the interesting stats below for anyone who is interested.  I was certainly surprised that this blog took off the way it did.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 61,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

What Made Me Pick Him? What Do I Want Now?

18 Nov

I had a therapy appointment yesterday, and my counselor asked me a great question.  He asked me to rewind 5 years and tell him what attracted me to my husband in the first place.  I thought about it a little, and the initial attraction was that he could handle my dry, sarcastic, insult-ladened sense of humor and give it right back to me.  That’s still an attractive quality in a mate.  Not everyone gets me, and even fewer people can handle me. I’m complicated and intimidating and different from a lot of people.   At least that’s what I’ve been told.

Beyond that initial spark, though, he seemed family-focused and caring.  That made me think he was worth getting to know.  He came from a big family, I come from a big family, and he said the things I wanted to hear.  I discovered several lies he told me back then (not even counting the crazy sexual stuff), including the fact that he hardly visited with his family even though they all live close by.  He also told me that he was a construction foreman.  I discovered not too long later that he was not even close to that – he had just started with the company and wasn’t even hired on full-time yet because he was employed through a temp agency.  Yet somehow I made excuses for him or accepted his – it was hard to keep in touch now that his parents had passed because they were the glue, he was trying to make a good first impression, etc., etc.

I also overlooked a lot of things because I had empathy for his situation.  He was about a year out of a tough relationship and had just gotten a new job after a period of depression that left him homeless and without a vehicle or most of his belongings.  I, too, was recently out of a long-term relationship that ended badly.  Although I still had my house and vehicles and a good job and was getting excellent grades in school on top of all that, I could understand how easy it could be to lose it.  I could imagine saying fuck it, and spiraling down emotionally so much that the rest fell apart.

Empathy is a good trait of mine, but I now see that my other traits led me to want to rescue.  I thought I could help.  I liked him and related to his situation.  And there were other positive qualities he had that I thought out-weighed something as shallow as monetary concerns.  I still don’t necessarily care how much my partner earns, but they need to have passion and drive and ambition.  I have to admit that the prospect of not having all the pressure on me is very appealing, though.  Five years ago my need to be needed was fulfilled by his situation, and I got a rush from knowing how much he was attracted to me and admired me.  It made me feel worthwhile.  Back then what I was looking for in a relationship was validation.

My therapist then asked me what I was looking for in a relationship today.  The very top of my list is honesty and stability, two things my husband doesn’t have at all right now. I think a big thing that changed is I now know I am worthwhile. My validation comes from inside. Without that intense need to be needed I can focus on what I need.

At the very tippy top of my needs is truthfulness. Honesty is vital to a relationship.  It literally cannot function if honesty isn’t present – like gas is necessary for you car.  I guess in theory you could push your car around in neutral with no gasoline, but it would be a lot of hard work that would get you nowhere fast.  That’s what I feel like my marriage has been lately. He’s been sitting in the car with his feet up while I’ve been trying to push and steer at the same time. I’m so over that.

What I need in a relationship is openness, vulnerability, and the complete truth, even if it’s hard to take.  Honesty is the only way to make an informed decision, and I’m only interested in someone with integrity.  Stability is important to me now because I have lived with the ground constantly shifting under my feet for years.  I want a man who knows himself, and is comfortable and confident with who he is.  I don’t need someone with a lot of money, but I do need someone with direction and follow-through and goals.  I need someone who brings as much to the table as I do, including emotional awareness and maturity.

I don’t want to make sacrifices on the important stuff anymore. I realize that no one is perfect, and I know enough now to run the other way if someone claims to be. However, I can’t be the only one working, digging, and trying to be the best me. I want someone who can push me, not someone who lags behind. I want someone who pursues me, not someone I have to beg for the minimum effort. I want someone who wants only me, who will be faithful, not someone who is actively looking for the next sexual high or who would stop putting forth effort in his relationship. I also want someone whose entire existence doesn’t depend on me. I want someone with interests and intelligence and something special to offer me. I deserve it because I’m worthwhile.
image

Delving Into My Childhood

10 Nov

In my quest to improve myself, I have come across another blogger, Peregrinerose, who is dealing with determining how her “psyche, experiences, history, etc. contributed to choosing a life as a sex addict codependent.”  I had to use her words there because they are perfect.  That is what I would really like to do as well.

She is working through some questions from a book by Mic Hunter, and was kind enough to email me a digital copy of the questions that he proposes the spouses of sex addicts ask themselves.  There are 100 of them.  I may or may not spare you my answers to them all.  We’ll see how lucky you are.  The first one is:

How would you describe your relationships with your parents and other family members as you were growing up?  Generally speaking, were these relationships characterized by feelings of: Love? Fear? Warmth? Anger?

A hard one right off the bat, huh?  Okay.  Here goes…

Maybe this is a great place to start for me.  One particular phrase from the S-Anon “Problem” has always stumped me.  It reads, “Most of us grew up in families with secrets, and we were not taught to think about our own needs and take positive action to meet them.”  I don’t really think that is true for me.  At least in all my thinking I have never been able to identify with that.

My Mom taught me to think about my needs.  She always talked through things with me.  I felt loved and supported by her.  My family also didn’t really have a lot of secrets, at least not that I know of.  My grandma is an alcoholic, but I don’t remember that being a secret.  We talked about it openly as a family, especially as she was struggling (a few falls while drunk, one of which put her in the hospital near death, a few car wrecks, etc.) and when she went into alcoholics anonymous to start her recovery.  She is now 13 years sober.

Back to the actual question at hand…  As I was growing up I would describe my relationships with my parents and other family members as close.  Both of my parents were very involved.  Most, if not all, of our extended family lived close by.  I remember regular visits to both sets of grandparents, and having lots of family time with aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I would spend weekends or even whole weeks with either my Nanny and Papa on my Dad’s side at the beach or with my Ma and Pa on my Mom’s side at their horse farm.

My Mom stayed home with us kids.  We were all home-schooled, me for the longest.  I remember my Mom working very hard on her lesson plans.  I still remember the stick figure puppet things she used to teach me my numbers and sounds.  We went to story-time at the library every week, sometimes more often.  She would get all of the Newbery Metal winning books and read them to us, like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (an amazing book).  One of my favorite memories to this day is her reading The Cay to my brother, sister, and I on the couch at home.  She did all of the voices (one main character had an accent), and I can still picture the way the story came to life in my mind.

Yep, that’s us at our old house… Cute little buggers, aren’t we?

My Dad was the sole bread-winner.  I know that he worked very hard to provide for us.  We never had the best, newest, or most expensive thing but we had a lot.  More than a lot, really.  My Mom designed our house and they build it (not with their own hands, but my Dad did do some of the work) on a gorgeous 10-acre piece of land.  It was “in the country” enough that our neighbors were spaced out, but close enough to “town” that I went to one of the best public high schools in the state.  We were also only about 35-40 minutes or so outside of our state’s capital.

My Dad wasn’t one of those workaholic fathers, though.  He worked regular hours (early mornings, but no late nights and no weekends).  He attended every single one of my events.  He was the loudest one cheering for me at softball.  He was the president of the choral boosters club, calling bingo every week to raise funds.  He played with us a lot – letting us ride him like a pony when we were really young, playing catch in the yard with us as we got older, and supporting the things that we loved.  My parents gave me and my brother and sister everything they could and more.

English: An American Quarter Horse in winter. ...

This horse reminds me of my Petey.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think back to those times growing up and wonder how they did it.  One income.  Three kids.  A nice house, lots of land.  We had 3 horses and a pony.  Sure, three of them came from my grandparent’s farm, but they were not given away for free to us.  My Mom and Dad both spent a lot of time with me looking for my first horse, too.  We visited farms, talked to owners, test-rode several, and found the perfect one – Petey, an American Quarter Horse.

I took horseback riding lessons, gymnastics, played softball, sang in the chorus (and went on all of their trips, which weren’t cheap), and I wasn’t the only one.  My brother played sports, too, and was in the high school band.  He got a drum set one birthday or Christmas that was set up in the corner of our living room.  My sister tried one thing after another – violin, softball, art.  Not a lot of it stuck, but they never told her not to try something she was interested in.  Her real passion was animals.  She had a crazy cat, bunnies, a dog, and she adopted the pony that started off as mine, Blue, even though she wasn’t interested in riding him.  When I started school (and when my brother started), we were in a private school. I don’t know how much it cost, but it couldn’t have been cheap.

Not our actual van, but you get the general picture…

Lest you think we were rich or something… Did I mention that my Dad isn’t a doctor or lawyer or physicist?  He is a machinist.  It’s not working at Wal-Mart, but it isn’t raking in the cash, either.  We never had a new car.  The ones we did have were reliable and safe, but never beautiful (Cheesy 80’s van?  Check!).  We shopped the clearance racks.  My Mom sewed us some dresses, we didn’t buy a lot of new things, we did a lot of crafts and outside activities.  My Dad taught us how to balance a checkbook, put money aside to save no matter what, always pay off any credit cards in full every month, and never buy something we couldn’t afford.

Overall, it was a great life.  Certainly nothing glaring stands out in all of that.  Generally speaking, I felt love and warmth in my family.  I guess it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine, though.  When I really thought about things today, I have to admit there was an undercurrent of pressure to my childhood.  I don’t remember it being something my parents overtly expressed or pushed on me.  I just always had a deep desire to give something back for all of their sacrifices.

Maybe some of it stems from the home-schooling.  My Mom taught me and my brother, then all 3 of us, at the same time.  We were all in different stages and grades, obviously.  We also had very different needs, education-wise.  I was always pretty intuitive, and could sense that my brother and sister needed more guided attention than me.  So I always did my best to do my best.  I didn’t want to distract from them – my brother was hyperactive and my sister took longer to grasp things, and when she did she might forget them again a little while later.  Neither of them were slow or stupid by any stretch of the imagination.  They just really loved using their imaginations – with their heads in the clouds, constantly moving, always more concerned with something else.

Plus, I was the oldest…  My brother is only a year and a half younger than me, but my sister is 5 years my junior.  Given that, I was obviously more capable of sitting at a table and doing my work without distraction.  Don’t mistake me for a completely benevolent child…  I mostly wanted to get outside as fast as possible to ride the horses or climb trees.  However, I do remember making a conscious effort to not ask questions unless I had to, to get everything as perfect as I could, and to not take away from other things my Mom had to do.

The other side of my Dad is that he had a short fuse.  He would often yell or snap at the drop of a hat.  It made me skittish in a way I didn’t like and tried to hide.  He also lacked some compassion.  I remember one time my Mom was away on a women’s retreat with church.  It was just us kids and Dad.  It was great fun.  We were taking a walk/ bike ride/ scooter trip down our street and up to the mailbox (which was ages away) one beautiful night.  I was speeding around on my little push scooter, loving life and showing off.  I hit a corner too fast and wiped out in a patch of gravel on the pavement.  I skinned my knees, elbows, and hands badly.  I still have scars to this day.

Of course it felt awful.  I don’t know how old I was… somewhere between 7 and 10, I think.  I was bleeding, there was gravel in my knees and elbows and hands…  My knees especially looked like hamburger meat.  My Dad got me up, helped me home, and started working on my injuries.  I know I was crying – ugly, sobbing cries – and saying I wanted Mom.  He, of course, told me that she was away and wasn’t going to be able to come home tonight.  He not so gently got the gravel out of my wounds, poured hydrogen peroxide and maybe alcohol on them, and put some Neosporin and gauze over them.  I’m sure he told me more than once to stop crying and whining and wincing and carrying on.  That wasn’t the only occasion where I learned that I should just suck it up…

The older I got, the more I realized that if my ideas and his didn’t mesh it wouldn’t be good for me.  I was a smart-alec.  I would get mouthy when I shouldn’t, and I lacked respect (or at least tact and forethought) in many instances.  But I also questioned things.  A lot.  I was always intellectual and prone to deep thinking.  When my questions turned towards the church, his faith, and the things that logically didn’t make sense the door was slammed shut in my face.  God exists, he wrote the Bible, everything in there is gold, we go to church (all the time and as a family), and the list goes on…  Think Brick on The Middle (if you have seen any of those Bible episodes).  THAT didn’t go over very well…

So, the short answer (bet you wish I had started with that), is my family relationships were characterized by all of those things – love, warmth, anger, fear, pressure, support, misunderstanding, and the list goes on.  I’m not sure where exactly I’m supposed to be looking right now when it comes to my family dynamics.  There were a lot of them.  Maybe the next 99 questions will give me some direction.

The Music That’s Making My Heart Sing

20 Oct

Today I’ve been doing a fair bit of driving – much more than usual for me.  I drove to S-Anon and home.  I drove to the ATM.  I distracted myself by driving out for an hour or so of shopping.  I drove to my Mom’s house for dinner.  We drove around to Sam’s Club and BJ’s (very unfortunate name) and a few other places, then back to her house.  I just drove home.

During all of that driving the common thread was that the radio was blaring.  Not the radio so much as some of my favorite music that has been loaded onto a flash drive that my radio can play.  Either way, you get the point.  I thought I would share the two songs that seem to be epitomize where I am right now.

For my husband:

Little Big Town – Looking for a Reason

Chorus:
Lookin’ for to make some sense out of nothin’
Lookin’ for the hunger to hang on
Lookin’ for to know if you’re really worth it
Lookin’ for a reason not to be gone

Your signs are fadin’, Baby
I can’t read ’em anymore
Can’t you see where I’m standin’, Baby
I got one foot out the door
You better show me somethin’ fast
‘Cause my patience for you, it ain’t gonna last

Chorus

If there ain’t nothin’ there
Well, that’s my time you’re wastin’
If you say you’re givin’ all you’ve got
Well, that’s my chain you’re yankin’
Love is on a slippery slope
Barely hangin’ on at the end of my rope

Chorus

 So tell me what you’re gonna do to keep me around
And Baby, whatever it is, you better do it now, now, now

My state of mind (or at least the one that I’m trying really hard to have):

Martina McBride – Happy Girl

I used to live in a darkened room
Had a face of stone
And a heart of gloom

Lost my hope, I was so far gone
Cryin’ all my tears
With the curtains drawn

I didn’t know until my soul broke free
I’ve got these angels watching over me

Chorus

Oh watch me go
I’m a happy girl
Everybody knows
That the sweetest thing you’ll ever see
In the whole wide world
Is a happy girl

I used to hide in a party crowd
Bottled up inside
Feeling so left out

Standing in a corner wearing concrete shoes
With my frozen smile
And my lighted fuse

Now every time I start to feel like that
I roll my heart out like a welcome mat

Chorus

Laugh when I feel like it
Cry when I feel like it
That’s just how my life is
That’s how it goes

Oh watch me go
I’m a happy girl
And I’ve come to know
That the world won’t change
Just ’cause I complain
Let the axis twirl
I’m a happy girl

Chorus

Oh, yeah
Oh, yeah
I’m a happy girl

Every time I start to feel sorry for myself or get the urge to mope or complain, I think about the above song.  It is true, as simplistic as it may seem.  I just choose to be happy instead.  I don’t push my emotions down, as I admitted earlier today I still cry when I feel the need.  I just try not to dwell in that place.

I get my emotions out, feel the pain, let the gratitude and thankfulness for my family and those who care about me wash over me, then think about or do something that makes me happy.  I cuddle with my dogs, turn up the music, laugh at a funny story, or text someone who brings me clarity, strength or even just a distraction.  I pick up my journal and write.  I organize or clean something (there is never a shortage of that to do).  I take a deep breath, wonder at the beauty of the changing leaves, revel in the perfect October weather – warm sunshine, a cool breeze, the crispness in the air of the beginning of Fall.  I have a lot of reasons to be happy, so that is what I choose to focus on.

I hope everyone’s Saturday was full of love, beautiful weather, good food, and great music!

Forgiveness in the Face of Turmoil

13 Oct

Forgiveness lesson from flowers

Today has been a very difficult day for me.  Rather than blog about that, I’m going to add my commentary to another Rick Reynolds article – Forgiving Infidelity: Practical Suggestions to Move Toward Forgiveness.  He and his wife worked together to provide their own suggestions about how to forgive.  They both have very insightful advice.  It is definitely an article worth reading in full.

However, I am not going to address the entire thing here.  The only thing I will respond to right now are the tips for the hurt spouse.  Below is an excerpt from the article.  I’m also including the portion before the tips that distinguishes between forgiveness and reconciliation because I think it is crucial.  In pink are my comments and feelings as they stand tonight.

At Affair Recovery we believe there are two components to forgiveness as it pertains to forgiving infidelity. First is the internal aspect of forgiveness, which has little or nothing to do with the other person. It is a personal choice to release the other person from retribution or harm as a result of their offence; it’s coming to the point where you can wish them well. It’s not based on their repentance or merit, since it’s an internal matter. It is a gift you give yourself, which sets you free and allows you to live at peace with your memories. The internal aspect of forgiveness in marriage where infidelity is involved is important in that failing to achieve this type of forgiveness leaves you forever the victim.

The second aspect of forgiving infidelity is about reconciliation. This component of forgiveness is primarily based on safety. Does the unfaithful spouse see what they’ve done, do they take responsibility for their actions and are they grieved over what their actions have cost others? Anything short of that response potentially makes them unsafe for reconciliation. This aspect of forgiveness determines whether the relationship will continue. If they are willing to make amends for their failure, then reconciliation might be a good choice.

Practical Suggestions For Forgiving Infidelity For The Hurt Spouse:  (These are from his spouse)

1.  Separate forgiveness from the process of reconciliation. Make reconciliation optional and forgiveness not optional. People often do this backwards, choosing to reconcile rather than forgive. This leaves them trapped in the pain of the betrayal, never able to move forward to a new life. If your mate isn’t safe don’t reconcile. In the first year of recovery don’t pressure yourself to decide about reconciliation. It may take over a year before you know whether it’s safe to reconcile. Reconciliation depends on your mate’s ongoing recovery and your ability to heal from the trauma of the betrayal.

This is something I am just realizing: forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things.  I like this concept, and it rings very true to me.  I know that I did this part backwards because I decided to reconcile before I was able to forgive.  I chose to stay with my husband and work on the marriage before he was a safe person to recover with.  I can now see the wisdom in this method.  You truly have to be able to forgive before you can know whether reconciliation is an option.

2.  Make a conscious choice to forgive. For freedom’s sake don’t hang on to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is always in your best interest and in the interest of those you love. Only time will tell whether reconciliation has a place in your relationship.

“For freedom’s sake don’t hang on to bitterness and resentment.”  I had to type that again.  Forgiveness, or at least acceptance, is the only way to move forward – with or without the relationship intact.  Hanging onto bitterness and resentment can eat a hole in your soul.  I don’t want to be that person.  I have to let those things go.  I don’t feel bitter or resentful towards my husband.  I sometimes feel sad.  I feel hurt, especially when he lies to me.

I am actively trying to not let those feelings run my life, though.  I don’t want to resent him for his actions.  I have been an active participant in this relationship – I stayed after I found the porn, I stayed after he lied to me about strip clubs, I stayed after I discovered his cyber affair, I stayed through more and more lies and revelations, I stayed when he was diagnosed as a sex addict, and I stayed as much for myself and due to my own issues (codependent much?) as because of his lies.

I am partially responsible for where we are.  I can’t resent him for his part unless I am also willing to resent myself – and I can’t do that.  I have to keep moving forward.  I can’t become bitter and jaded, as easy as that would be.  I can’t wallow in self-pity.  I have to heal for me.  I am worthy of healing.  It is in my best interest to let go and forgive.

3.  Choose to focus on what’s helpful. Once you know what’s happened there may be diminishing benefit in continuing to focus on the past. Have the sense to ask yourself if how you’re spending your time (conversation, thought life) is helping to move you forward in your recovery. If it’s something that’s keeping you stuck, let it go. You want to choose life, not death.

Okay, what has been helpful?  Loving myself has been helpful.  Going to S-Anon has been helpful.  Being aware of my codependent tendencies has been helpful.  Going to therapy has been helpful.  Blogging and journaling has been helpful (writing my thoughts down, commenting, stretching my view of myself and others, working to really understand what makes me tick, getting thoughts out of my head and onto a computer screen where I can examine them, etc.).   Those things have all been focused on bettering myself, increasing my self-awareness, and changing – as painful as it can be.

The things that have not been helpful – shopping, eating, obsessing about things I can’t change, fighting, yelling, arguing, threatening, trying to control.  Going around and around in circles saying the same things is also not helpful.  Holding onto anger has not been helpful.  Contacting the OW at the beginning of all this was definitely not helpful.  Thinking of myself as perfect – or at least trying to be that way – didn’t help, and actually made things worse.  I do want to choose life, not death and certainly not an excruciating limbo.

4.  Maintain an attitude of compassion. If you can look at your mate through a lens of compassion and concern you may find it easier to let go of the offence. Forgiving infidelity is not a sign of weakness and it doesn’t minimize the magnitude of the betrayal, rather it allows you to move forward, free from the hurtful actions of another. Forgiveness in marriage, even without infidelity, requires compassion.

This is something that my Mom really helps me with.  I also think that when I started feeling compassion and concern for him and his addiction I also started down the path of forgiveness.  If forgiveness truly is about wishing the other person well, then I’m definitely there.  I want him to get better.  I can imagine how horrible it must be to be trapped in lies and compulsive behavior.  My heart aches for him.

I already know that forgiving someone is not weak and doesn’t take away from what was done.  Forgiveness doesn’t negate hurt.  It doesn’t discount fear.  It doesn’t exist separately from sadness.  Instead, it coexists with them.  It dulls the pain.  It acknowledges that there is another dimension to everything.  It complicates things while also making them simpler – adding different viewpoints and angles to the situation to add clarity – much the way multiple camera views of a play can make the proper call easier to determine.  Compassion and empathy are the aspects of forgiveness that make that possible.

5.  Don’t hang on to entitlements. As Charles Dickens says, “In every life, no matter how full or empty one’s purse, there is tragedy. It is the one promise life always fulfils. Thus, happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it but to delight in it when it comes and to add to other people’s store of it.” Your mate may have destroyed your happiness, but life is hard and often unjust. Try to keep realistic expectations.

Here is an area where I can definitely use work.  I am very guilty of hanging on to the idea that life should be fair, that I should get what I want, and that I deserve happiness…  That quote is completely true, though.  It is profound in its honesty.  It shatters my preconceived notions about myself and about life in general.  I consider myself a realist, yet I somehow allow myself to forget the simple fact that life is hard and full of tragedy.

6.  Take care of yourself. A lack of sleep, isolation, or severe depression only makes forgiving infidelity more difficult. It’s not fair since you aren’t the one who cheated, but you’re the only one who can take the necessary steps to heal from the wounds created by others. Be willing to get help.

This is really fantastic advice for anyone going through a difficult time – betrayal, loss, sickness, or anything else you can think of.  Sleep.  Eat.  Talk to someone.  Do everything in moderation, nothing to excess.  If you are on medication, take it.  Focus on yourself.

Today I had a really rough time.  I am sick on top of a number of other things.  Still, I took my antidepressants and vitamins, remembered my cold medicine every 4 hours, put 2 different types of drops in my ear for an infection, and got a moderate amount of rest.  I ate, and although it wasn’t particularly healthy (pizza) I did limit myself to only 2 pieces.  I also made sure to have carrots and other healthy snacks throughout the day.  I didn’t isolate myself – I called a friend, talked to my Mom and Dad (separately), cuddled with my dogs, and made it outside at least 3 or 4 times.  I also cleaned the house some and took time for myself to write this.  I will be going to bed at a decent hour.

As for getting help, that is definitely a must.  I look forward to my weekly sessions with the therapist.  I enjoy my S-Anon meetings.  I am going to make time to go to the doctor very, very soon.  I am finally realizing that I can’t do it all on my own, and that is okay.  It is actually quite a relief.

7.  Be aware of your own humanity. As CS Lewis says, “All saints must keep one nostril keenly attuned to their own inner cesspool.” Be willing to consider what you’ve been forgiven. Maintaining an awareness of what others have had to forgo for your sake will help you find patience for others. A self-righteous attitude will cut you off from the very thing you seek.

I have a lot of faults.  I make a lot of mistakes.  I require a lot of forgiveness.  This list isn’t even close to complete, but I can name so many things off the top of my head that need to be improved in me.  I am stubborn to a fault.  I am competitive – I always want to win, even when it has gone past the point of being enjoyable or productive.  I am disorganized most of the time – my clothes are thrown around in piles, my shoes clutter up the house, I am horrible about leaving things sitting on any flat surface available, and when I do organize it is by my own system, which is nearly indecipherable to others.  I tend to put things off (I have several t-shirts about procrastination to proudly declare that to the world, too). 

I can be petty.  I curse way too much.  I eat unhealthy things and sabotage my own weight-loss.  I say mean things to people, sometimes aimed purposefully at what I know are their weakest spots.  I yell.  I over-think.  I am a horrible pet owner.  When I am happy I get complacent and lazy, disregarding all my other responsibilities to revel in the happiness.  I lose myself in other people, especially when I am in a romantic relationship. 

I am controlling.  I am a perfectionist.  I have a really bad image of myself.  I smile at the most inappropriate times – like when I’m uncomfortable, when I’m feeling insecure, at funerals, etc.  I cry when I get really angry, which makes me angrier, which in turn makes me cry more.

I often take a holier-than-thou attitude.  When I do that it usually indicates an area that I need to examine further in myself.  I have a lot of things to figure out.  I have started working on my issues, and I will continue to do so – maybe for the rest of my life.

So there it is…  another glimpse into my mess.  It really isn’t beautiful at all.

if ever there was a time, let it be here, let ...

Do You Have an Addictive Personality?

4 Sep

Flickr/Jam Adams http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamadams/ CC BY-SA 2.0

I recently read a blog entry about addictive personalities.  It was published on a blog about treatment for sex addiction.  It is written by a doctor, and I find the information there very interesting and helpful.  Check it out at http://porn-no-more.com/.

In the post about addictive personalities, she quotes a study by Alan R. Lang, a psychology professor at Florida State University.  His study was about how a person’s personality plays into addiction.  What I found very interesting is the list of common personality traits shared among all addicts.  They include:

  1. Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification and a predisposition toward sensation seeking;
  2. A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance;
  3. A sense of heightened stress;
  4. Compulsive attraction to excessive, repetitive use of pleasurable activities to cope with unmanageable internal distress, pressure and stress.  While such activity may begin pleasurably, the process of increasing activity to achieve the same effect eventually results in injury to major aspects of the person’s life.
  5. The addicted person denies that his activity is detrimental to him.  If forced to stop, he finds he suffers physical or psychological withdrawal pains and feels compelled to resume his excessive pattern.  Compulsiveness is key.
  6. Tendencies to depression, dependent behavior and difficulty formulating long-term personal goals because of a concentration on short-term gratification;
  7. The potentially addictive child may have been physically or emotionally abused by one or both parents.  The child has often been lied to, shamed, criticized or humiliated by parents who act in highly inconsistent ways, leaving the child in a helpless rage;
  8. A lack of self esteem — feelings of  low self-worth.

addiction

I can’t answer on that list for Mr. Mess, but reading it hit very close to home for me.  Out of the above list, I can put a check mark next to 6 of them.  The first one doesn’t hold true for me because I usually have no problem with delayed gratification – in fact, I think it’s the best kind.  I’m also generally not a very impulsive person.  I like having a plan, and I like to stick to it.  There isn’t a lot of “sensation seeking” going on with me for the most part, either, except for planning the occasional fun activity on vacation (like going air boat riding in Louisiana and feeding the alligators) and my desire to go sky diving.

#2 is me to a T.  I was alienated socially from a pretty early age.  As you have read in some of my past posts (Tackling My Body Issues and Pink), I was home-schooled until middle school.  I had a pretty difficult transition, and have never been a social butterfly.  My lack of popularity was also due to my introverted personality (See Being Complete Opposites), and the fact that I wore braces, thick glasses, and had a very unfortunate perm.  I was always different from other kids my age.  I was constantly reading something, I pondered bigger life questions, and I wasn’t interested in whatever the new fad of the moment was.  Once I became more confident I also embraced the weirdness in myself.  I started to think of “normal” as one of the worst words in the English language.  I would rather die than be average.  That led to a “general tolerance for deviance” because deviating from the norm was a very good thing in my eyes.

I’m not so sure about the “sense of heightened stress” described in #3.  I don’t know if that means that I have heightened stress in my life, my stress perception is heightened, or that I blow stress out of proportion.  Any of those except the 3rd definition fit me pretty well.  I do have quite a bit of stress in my life right now (lots going on at work, sex addict husband, dog with glaucoma, trying to diet, and on my period today…), I can perceive stress in others, and I sometimes allow other people’s stress to bleed over into me.  I am fairly pragmatic most of the time, though, and don’t think I blow things out of proportion much.  On the contrary, I am usually the one who helps people calm down and put things in perspective.

The concepts in #4 are things that I have been really thinking about the past few days.  I will probably go into this more soon when I talk about my most recent S-Anon meeting, but I’ll leave those specifics for another post.  Just to scratch the surface a bit, I have been able to recognize areas in my life where I use activities to cope with stress and emotions that I want to avoid.  One way I do that is by blogging.  It can be a very healthy outlet, but it can also become a refuge from dealing with hard things.  I have been guilty of spending hours writing and editing my posts, then more hours reading other people’s blogs and commenting.  Sometimes my hours of blogging have taken away from my responsibilities at work or have led me to shut out Mr. Mess or not spend the time connecting with him at night that I should be.  It didn’t start that way, but it has escalated over time as I needed more and more connection to feel the same level of support and sanity, and as I watched my blog stats climb.

The other one that doesn’t fit me well is #5.  Even when I’m engaging in an activity that is addictive and starting to take hold, I am aware.  I never deny the issue.  In fact, I am often the first to point it out.  I limit myself intentionally in areas that I can feel an addiction starting to grow because I don’t want to be that person.  There are very few activities in my life that are truly compulsive or that I don’t already make a conscious effort to control.  Blogging and shopping are my two newest “vices.”  In the past it might have been food.  No matter what, I always stay away from excessive alcohol consumption, I have never abused any prescription medications, and I don’t use illegal drugs.  At times I have been “addicted” to stupid things, like playing Farmville.  Once I realized the amount of time it was consuming, I very quickly stopped playing and haven’t looked back.  There were no “physical or psychological withdrawal pains.”  I have always been aware of this tendency in myself and worked hard to control it.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the rest of these, except to say that they definitely exist.  I have a tendency to depression and have struggled with it at various points in my life.  I am currently on an anti-depressant and intend to stay on it because it seems to be working pretty well.  I was also emotionally and possibly physically (depending on your perspective) abused by my father growing up.  I was shamed and humiliated by my Dad a lot as a means of control, he was terribly inconsistent in his behavior and rules between me and my siblings, his beliefs were often irrational, and the “helpless rage” sounds all too familiar.  It is probably obvious from some of my past posts that I have struggled with a lack of self-esteem and have often wondered if I am good enough.

I think this topic is very interesting.  I have no idea where I originally heard the term, but I know that I have thought of myself as having an “addictive personality” since I was fairly young.  Even in my early teens I remember identifying with that term intensely.  Addiction does seem to run in my family, if there is such a thing as that (I think I have heard there is).  My grandmother on my Mom’s side is an alcoholic.  She has been sober for 13 years, and still attends AA meetings every week.  Before she got sober, though, she almost lost her life because of drinking on at least two ocassions.  My grandmother on my Dad’s side is probably an alcoholic, too, although she would never admit it.  She and my grandpa used to go through a case of beer a day and a carton or more of cigarettes between the two of them.  Two of my cousins have been arrested for drug dealing (marijuana), one of my cousins has had at least 2 “crack babies” who were addicted to hard substances from birth and taken away by Child Protective Services, and I believe another of my cousins is in rehab as we speak (although I’m not sure what her drug of choice is and her health is further complicated by schizophrenia).

I think because I was aware of addiction growing up and saw its effects on my family, I also became aware of how easy it could be for me to slip into that behavior.  I have always been someone to engage completely in anything I attempt.  That is usually a good thing, but it can easily turn into an addiction that becomes detrimental to your life.  Walking that fine line is hard.  It is equally hard to be present and deal with your emotions as they come up, especially the difficult ones.  Finding a way to escape is completely normal, but it can also go too far if you have an addictive personality.  It is far too easy to be lured into the trap of addiction.  Then, before you know it, you could be caught up in something that is very difficult to get untangled from.

How about you?  Do you have any of these personality traits?  Do you think you might have an addictive personality?  If so, what do you think is your current addiction of choice (don’t limit yourself to the “traditional” hard substances alone)?

Being a Sexual Woman

22 Aug

After finding that hilarious picture and posting it yesterday I realized that I don’t share a lot of that side of myself.  Sure, I talk about sex a lot in the context of my husband’s sex addiction, but I think I have allowed that cloud to affect my self-perception too much.  Just because my husband has a problem identifying healthy sexual behavior and controlling his urges to act out in inappropriate ways doesn’t mean I do.  Talking about sex as part of a fun, healthy relationship is not a bad thing, and neither is really enjoying loving, intimate sexual acts with my husband – even if they can get a little kinky sometimes.  😉

I’m not really sure how Mr. Mess would feel about me sharing things about our sex life, so I won’t really go into specifics about him.  I do, however, feel the need to talk about myself as a very sexual woman.  I probably am not “experienced” in the traditional sense of that word – at least when it comes to my quantity of sex partners.  In fact, I’ve only had 2.  Pick your jaw up off of the floor…  It is possible to be a 20-something in today’s society who hasn’t slept around a lot.

It’s not for lack of opportunities, but more from the fact that I want my sexual relationships to be with people I have a deep, meaningful connection with.  I’m not really a one night stand kinda girl.  I am also not interested in a relationship with everyone who is interested in me. I’ve had my share of men who were infatuated with me.  I even gave some of them a shot and dated a few times, thinking maybe once I got to know them better they would grow on me and maybe then I would feel sexually attracted.  That’s not really how things work, though.

Another reason I have had so few sexual partners is because I “paired off” very young – at only 15.  That relationship continued into my 20s.  7 years to be precise.  It was also with a woman.  I think I’ve posted that somewhere in here before, but it’s possible I haven’t.  I know that I have mentioned that my family is staunch, right wing Christian. We almost literally lived in church.  We went to Monday choir practice, Wednesday night service, Thursday music rehearsal (my Mom played the piano for the praise & worship), and BOTH services on Sunday because my Dad was an usher in addition to my Mom’s piano-playing, choir-directing duties.  Even as teenagers when we could drive we were required to attend all services “as a family.”

Given all of that, it should be pretty apparent that they were not open to the idea of their daughter being bisexual (or a lesbian, since at that time I wasn’t entirely sure myself).  They found out when I was 16.  I lived in Hell for the next 2 years.  I graduated right after my 17th birthday, but wasn’t allowed to move out.  That year was the worst of my entire life.  I moved out at 18 (the very day), and did my own thing for almost a year without speaking to them.  Eventually, they came around.  Don’t get me wrong, they always said I was “going to Hell.”  But they grew to accept and even like her.  She went on family trips with us, came to Christmas, they bought her birthday gifts, and the whole 9 yards.

Even though that relationship didn’t last, for reasons that are neither here nor there, I did explore my sexuality a lot during that time.  I enjoyed all sorts of sex, and we discovered things together.  We bought toys, used blindfolds, even tied each other up or used handcuffs sometimes.  We had passionate sex for a long time.  Then things started fading in the bedroom – what many in the community refer to as “lesbian bed death.”  I have always had a very high libido, but her – not so much.  Once things fizzled and eventually died, I had really come into my own sexually.  I was ready to explore.

As a young girl (because face it, that’s what I was at 15) I was somewhat frightened by the idea of a penis.  I had, of course, never been faced with one before and at that time couldn’t imagine ever wanting to be around “one of those.”  Experimenting, using toys, and yes, watching a little porn and Queer As Folk (which is basically gay porn wrapped up in a storyline, albeit a really great one IMO), I became much more comfortable with the idea.  Curious and eager even.  I realized more and more that I am truly bisexual – it is more about the entire package, who a person is on the inside, than what their outside “package” might be.

When I met my now husband and realized that spark was there, it was game on.  I, unfortunately, didn’t wait as long as I would have liked conceptually before jumping into bed.  We were sexual after our second date (the third time I had been out with him since I’m not counting the night we met as a date).  We had hours and hours of phone conversation by then, but still…  I have that slightly conservative core that comes out now and then, making me feel ashamed for giving away the goods so fast.  Oh well…  Although he is a sex addict, that didn’t seem to spill over into our dating life in a negative way at first (until 9 months to a year later with the porn and affair and all of that mess).  While dating, Mr. Mess was a gentleman.  In fact, in the inebriated, horny state I was in the night I met him I was ready to go at it right there in my car, parked in the middle of a city block.  He politely declined, talked some sense into me, and we parted company that night with the promise of a real date.  I guess I was special to him in the beginning…

The deep throating comment from yesterday’s post is not untrue.  I have realized that I really love giving oral sex.   It’s just a fact.  Giving another person pleasure, feeling that power and excitement, turns me on beyond belief.  I can actually orgasm just from making someone orgasm.  I get all tingly just thinking about it.  I’ve probably said far too much for my husband’s comfort level.  He is a very private person, and fairly easily embarrassed being open about this type of stuff, oddly enough.

Back to me.  I am a very sexual woman.  I would gladly have sex every day for the rest of my life.  In fact, that sounds marvelous.  As long as I can throw in a few marathon days here and there.  One orgasm is great, but multiple orgasms are ecstasy.  I love variety, and I’m certain I could ensure things never get boring.  For now, though, I am pacing myself.  I am giving my husband time to rediscover healthy sexuality and learn to control his addiction cycles.  I am being patient and biding my time for when my husband’s brain is reset and ready for all the sexy fun I have to offer.

I have a confession to make…

30 Jul

I have a problem.  With shopping.  Most of the time I can control it.  In fact, 85% or more of the time you would think the opposite – that I am tight-fisted and even downright cheap.  The majority of the year I don’t buy myself a single thing – not one piece of clothing, not even a soda or bag of peanuts at a convenience store – nothing.  I save nearly every extra penny that I have.

The normal exception to the rule is the month or two leading up to Christmas.  I generally can’t control myself when it comes to buying gifts for the people that I love.  I have always prided myself on thinking things through and finding the perfect gift for each person – something they would treasure, something that fits their personality or interests, something they have probably wanted but just didn’t splurge on for themselves.  I would also make sure that all of my gifts were wrapped up really pretty and had a special feel.  No cop-out gift bags allowed!  Sometimes half of the fun is unwrapping a gorgeous gift, anticipating what may be inside, and seeing a peek, just the corner, before revealing the prize.

The last few months, though, I have blown all of that out of the water.  I made my Christmas spending last year look like a minor blip.  Even at Christmas-time I usually don’t raid my savings.  I’m just not putting all of my spare cash in there like normal.  This time around it is a whole new ballgame.

Here are some examples.  In the last month and a half I have spent probably $400 at Victoria’s Secret alone.  Yeah.  Damn you semi-annual sale!  I have spent $530 at my chiropractor and need a “refill” for my next 10 adjustments of another $530.  I spend a few hundred on a new tattoo and piercing, and I plan to spend another few hundred on another tattoo soon.  I have spent over $1,000 on my diet products and paraphernalia (scales – both for food and my body, shakes, juice, diet drops, multi-vitamins, specialty products like coconut oil, green tea, etc.), not counting the food.  Eating healthy is way more expensive!  I am the queen of deal sites like Groupon, Living Social, Woot, and others.  I have spent money on t-shirts, kitchen gadgets, clothes, shoes, and more.  When I see something I like or want, I just buy it.  I have never been like this ever.

My husband’s birthday is also coming up really soon.  He isn’t someone who does a lot for birthdays (a point of contention with us in the past), so he also doesn’t expect a lot.  He would be happy with a “Happy Birthday” and a kiss.  I just cannot accept that.  I have to do more.  It is a compulsion.  I don’t even know how much money I have spent already on his birthday, mostly because I don’t want to know.  Everything I have gotten he will use, he will love, and he has either talked about wanting or fits in with his current interests.  That’s not really the point, though, is it?

This is a new experience for me.  It is a new feeling.  Not caring how I spend my money, getting whatever I want, indulging myself, splurging without guilt.  Well, not entirely without guilt.  I wouldn’t be writing this otherwise, right?  I know I am worth it, but does really mean I need to spend it?  I know the answer is a resounding “no.”  Still, when I get a new email from Victoria’s Secret or Yankee Candle or Amazon, I can’t help but look.  And when I find that next thing I want, I may just go ahead and buy it.

When I take a hard look at all of this I know it is just another way to make myself feel better.  It’s a self-esteem thing as much as it’s about the “stuff.”  Do I really make myself feel better in the long run by spending money?  No.  Because at heart, I am a saver.  I feel good when I have security.  When I have a “back-up plan.”  When I can open up my savings book and see a lot of zeros.  At the same time, it does feel good to be a little out of character.  To think about myself first, for once, and not worry about “what ifs.”  It feels nice not being the “responsible one” all of the time.  Now I can see the draw of being a bit reckless and rash.

I think what I need to find is a little balance.  Some moderation.  I’ve officially decided that I am done with my shopping for Mr. Mess’s birthday.  I also deleted an email from Victoria’s Secret this morning without checking out the cute dresses that they have on sale right now.  I am trying to stop when I have the urge to buy and see what’s really behind that impulse.  Feel whatever it is I am feeling.  Give myself an hour and see if I still want it.  So far so good.

I don’t think I’m going to go a year anymore without buying anything for myself, though.  That’s too frugal.

I need balance… Just not this kind.

Days Go By

25 Jul

My absolute favorite book right now is one that I am only 36 pages into.  It is a book that I picked up at random from a free book table at our first Retrouvaille post-session.  It has absolutely nothing to do with infidelity or sex addiction.  It is a book for middle-schoolers.  It is called The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  Here’s an excerpt from the very first page:

“There once was a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself – not just sometimes, but always.

When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in.  On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thoughts about going.  Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he’d bothered.  Nothing really interested him – least of all the things that should have.

‘It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,’ he remarked one day as he walked dejectedly home from school…  As he and his unhappy thoughts hurried along (for while he was never anxious to be where he was going, he liked to get there as quickly as possible) it seemed a great wonder that the world, which was so large, could sometimes feel so small and empty.”

I am Milo.  I am always in a hurry to get somewhere as fast as possible, and hardly ever happy to be there once I arrive.  When I am at home I think about things I have to do at work.  When I am at work I think about how much I want to be at home, or I waste far too much time blogging, thinking, shopping, and generally not doing the things I am supposed to do.  I often feel like my life is one long, monotonous stream that doesn’t interest me at all.

Can it really be true?

Yesterday I read a piece of advice that I am going to try to incorporate in my life.  A woman who is part of a spouses of sex addicts support group I participate in said:

“I’ve been working too hard to fix other things in my life since I can’t fix this. And the aftermath of the recent trauma has completely slayed me. So I’ve decided, instead of killing myself fixing other things, I’m going to try new things. Because clearly the old ways aren’t working, right?  😀

Little stuff.  I wear different clothes than I normally do.  I drive a different way to my appointments and meetings to see what’s there and what inspires other thoughts and actions. Shopping for groceries and such in different stores.  Doing the kids’ bedtime routine in a different order.  That sort of stuff.  And it has been very liberating and enlightening.  Gives me a different perspective.”

I am going to try that.  It is a simple idea, but I think it could make a difference.  I am SUCH a creature of habit.  To the point where it borders on OCD.  I take the same route to every place I go, down to when I change lanes.  Yes – that specific.  I do the same things in the same order every morning.  I wear the same basic color palate (can anyone say black?!).  I shop at the same stores.  I eat at the same places (if not at home, which is what I do most of the time).  My life is one big routine.

I am also never fully involved 100% with the thing I am doing – I am the ultimate multi-tasker – constantly working on 2 or 3 things at once while my brain is focusing on something else.  This makes me appear very busy at work and gives the impression of efficiency while in reality I am not really giving anything the full attention it deserves.  I am in the process of reading (I think) 6 different books right now – two on my Kindle (one on serial killers – my “light,” pleasure reading – and Codependent No More), the one I just mentioned, one about sex addiction (Lust, Anger, Love), Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship, and a Criminal Minds book.  That’s not even counting the dialoguing workbook that Mr. Mess and I go through each night.  I pick and choose between them based on my mood, or even which one is closest to me at the moment.  I can’t even remember where the Emotional Infidelity book is right now.

So how am I going to change?  I’m not really sure specifically.  All I can say is a little at a time.  I’m going to start by picking one book and reading it all the way through before I open another one.  Maybe I’ll take a different way home from the chiropractor this evening, even though I know the one I usually take is the fastest.  What’s the rush, after all?  My husband is home all night (no school), and we don’t have any plans that I know of.  Tomorrow morning maybe I’ll even do my hair before I get dressed (although it really is impractical that way), pick out a top that is a color I haven’t worn in a while, spend an extra 5 minutes with the dogs, or do a cart-wheel or skip down the hall just for the heck of it (remember when you used to do that as a kid?).

Doesn’t she look so happy? It makes me want to go skipping right now!

I’m still trying to do at least one thing every day that makes me happy.  Today it was reading a little bit more of that book.  It just makes me smile.  It is such a fun, yet deeply insightful little book.  Who knows what I’m going to do tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll try keeping track of everything, just to make myself a little bit more accountable for my own happiness.  I hope you are doing something that makes you happy today!  Don’t let life fly by without enjoying it.

Hungry, Hot and Pissy

20 Jul

If you turn that pea into an apple that’s about all I ate yesterday.

That’s how I felt last night.  The hungry part should be self-explanatory considering I’m on a juice cleanse right now.  Yesterday I tried so, so hard to do everything the “right” way.  They said 4 oz. of the special juice 4 times per day, plus 3 snacks.  The program prefers that you use their “snacks” – which I put in quotation marks because they are these big, chalky horse-pill looking things.  It also allows for an apple, 6 raw, unsalted almonds or celery.  I can already cross off celery because I think it is foul.  Just really, really gross.  I can’t even stand the smell.  We had some raw almonds, but they were stale.  Finally, my coach for the program said I should only eat fruit in the mornings.

So yesterday I had the juice, a wonderful Granny Smith apple in the morning and two of those gross wafers things.  Plus lots and lots of water.  All day.  By 6:30 pm or so I was starting to feel light-headed.  Did I mention that I’m also on my period?  Sorry if that’s TMI, but it makes this experience oh-so-much worse.  By the time my husband came home from school I was feeling very weak and tired, and we still had our dialoguing to do.

Thankfully we decided on the dialogue question the day before, which had allowed me to write my answer earlier in the day.  Still, I knew it was far from my best writing.  I was all over the place, struggling to find the words, and could barely think of any analogies or shared memories.  I have never been more grateful that my husband really does seem to understand what I’m feeling, even if my feelings are all over the map.  We managed to get through the dialoguing and even accomplish the goal of relating and connecting to one another.

I don’t hide things very well.  At least not at home.  That is one of the downfalls (and benefits) of being very honest.  Mr. Mess could definitely tell I wasn’t feeling right at all.  I let him in on the light-headed incident from earlier.  He was ready to go tear them a new one – of course, they were closed.  He (smartly) convinced me that having another apple would not be the end of the world or a sign of giving up on the program.  I’m so glad he did!

Not too long after I was entirely worn out and ready to go to bed.  I probably could have gone to sleep at 7:00 pm, but I wanted to dialogue and talk to my husband for a bit.  When we got to the bedroom it was stifling.  We have an older brick rancher that was build sometime in the 60s or 70s (my brain is a little fuzzy right now).  We have an oil furnace and a large AC unit in the den, but there is no central air.  I have had a small window unit for the bedroom since I moved in almost 10 years ago, and it belonged to the owner before me, who left it.  That unit is now on its very last leg.

Usually I remember to turn it on an hour or so before we plan to go to bed.  As I mentioned, my brain is not working so well on this juice-only phase.  Thankfully that only lasts through today, and tomorrow I can go back to the shakes and a 400-600 calorie meal.  Back to the story, though…  I forgot to turn it on, so our room was very hot (it has been in the 90s and 100s for a month or so).  About 30-45 minutes after we laid down our room was still just as sweltering.

I could not go to sleep.  I was tossing and turning, hot, hungry and pissed off.  My period was giving me cramps, my stomach was growling and I was sweating.  I decided to get up and try the couch in the den where the big AC unit was.  My cocker spaniel, who is sweet as can be and who I love so, so much just wouldn’t leave me alone.  He was pacing and panting and being incredibly distracting.  He usually just curls up on a blanket or on the couch and is quiet as can be, which should have been an indicator that something was up.  Again – my brain wasn’t really functioning and I was a hot, pissy mess.

He disappeared to the living room (which coincidently is the room our front door opens into).  All I could think was – I am sooo glad he left me alone.  The lights from the television and various gadgets were annoying, and the noises were driving me crazy – even the ticking of the clock in the kitchen sounded unbearably loud.  I sighed and resigned myself to go back to the bedroom, desperately hoping it would have cooled off at least a little bit.  On the way there I stepped in dog poop.

I turned on the hall light, cursing under my breath, and saw my dog curled up on the tile in front of the door with a guilty look on his face.  I couldn’t be mad.  It was my fault.  I wasn’t paying attention to his signals because I was so caught up in my own self-pity.  I cleaned the floor and my feet, then went back to bed.  The room was still baking and I was still cramping and hungry, but I managed to fall asleep anyway.

Today is a new day, and it is better already.  I realized that I shouldn’t ignore my body’s signals the way I ignored my dog’s.  So far today I feel pretty good.  The hunger isn’t as strong, I’ve eaten my breakfast apple, and if I feel like I need one for dinner I’m going to eat it.  It’s not like I’m talking about an entire chocolate cake or anything!

When I stepped on the scale this morning I had lost 8.5 pounds total.  As my husband reminded me last night, this part of the diet is only temporary.  I should look at that weight column as my motivation.  My clothes are already starting to fit better.  I can see a difference in the mirror, which I’m sure sounds weird considering it’s not really that much weight.  Tomorrow I’m sure that 400-600 calorie meal will seem like the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.  I can’t wait!

Tackling My Body Issues

19 Jul

My body and I have had a love/hate relationship my entire life.  As a little girl I was super-skinny.  This was mostly because I was so, so active.  I was up with the sun (or before – if you ask my Mom), running around the yard, climbing trees, and exploring.  I participated in all sorts of sports from softball to gymnastics to my absolute favorite – horseback riding.  I remember when we moved to our house in the country how ecstatic I was to have 10 acres to run around on and horses in my own backyard.

I was home-schooled and an intelligent and efficient child, so I would get my lessons done (sometimes more than one day’s worth) in just a few hours.  The rest of the day and into the evening – when the sun began to droop and twilight set in – I was a fireball.  My brother, Dad and I started building a tree-house, which ended up being something more like a big platform in the trees.  I would visit that throughout the day and climb the neighboring trees to the very tippy-top, as far as I could go.  I would run through the woods to our back pasture, then through our second set of woods and sometimes gingerly slide between the strands of barbed-wire fence into the neighbor’s fields.

Sometimes I was alone.  Sometimes my brother or sister were with me.  More often than not it was just me and our family black lab.  The horses would sometimes engage with me curiously, but most of the time they ignored me like I was nothing more than one of the gnats flying around their ears.  I can’t even tell you now what I did with all of that time outside.  I know I picked wild blackberries, visited with our neighbors’ horses and dogs, and spent hours daydreaming or singing.

I also did acrobatics on our swing set.  We had one of those metal A-frame types that had different attachments, very similar to the one in the picture.  I used to hang upside down from the monkey-bar-type swing and walk along the top of the swing set like it was a balance beam.  I did the same thing with our acres of fence.  I had excellent balance and loved the challenge.

As an adolescent and teenager I stayed active, yet I slowly gained weight.  In high school I participated in a showchoir where we danced every single day, sometimes for an hour or more.  My body issues really kicked in around that time.  I was fairly insecure all through school because of the incessant bullying that I had to endure – for being the “new kid,” getting all A’s, having big glasses and braces, and being a geeky, awkward introvert.  Showchoir was my element, though.  I had one of the best voices, I was the dance captain, and it was a very diverse, accepting group of kids.  We had cheerleaders, the valedictorian, a few skaters, drama kids, a punk/goth girl, several of the popular, pretty girls – no kid in a wheelchair, though.  We were also more like the “Vocal Adrenaline” group on Glee than the misfit, ragtag group.  We won all sorts of competitions all across the country and were invited to an international choral experience in London.

Despite having a place to “belong” and being constantly activity, I felt fat.  My years as a catcher on my All-Stars softball team combined with years of horseback riding, dancing, and gymnastics left me with huge thighs.  They were also very powerful, but all my teenage eyes could see was their girth – muscle or fat didn’t really matter that much.  I remember being mortified of my junior size 7 jeans.  Now I would do almost anything to get back in them.  Back then I would stand with my arms crossed around my stomach, as if to camouflage what I thought of as a huge flaw.  I also was a slow grower in the “top” department, which made me feel inadequate and not pretty.  I’m now a D-cup, and wish they were smaller.

In my senior year I was dealing with a lot of drama.  Some of it was typical teenage-angst stuff, but mine also went beyond that.  I got it worse than most (though not as bad as some) because I was in a lesbian relationship in a small, conservative, ultra-religious town.  I lost my best friend after she ratted me out to my parents (who were so super-strict I couldn’t listen to anything but Christian music).  I was tortured at school, although I still was able to maintain at least a small level of plausible deniability since I was seen making out with a boy on our London chorus trip.  The concept of bisexuality was almost unheard of and certainly misunderstood in my town, which I was able to use somewhat to my advantage.

During that time my weight plummeted, in large part due to depression.  I was a size two and weighed barely over 100 pounds at that point.  I am 5’7″.  While that might sound like a reasonable (or even ideal) size to some, it was very unhealthy on me.  I was gaunt and sickly looking, and my clothes hung off of me in a very unattractive way.  My showchoir dress was taken in several sizes, which I thought was wonderful.

After graduation my weight swung in the other direction.  I was still depressed, but food was becoming more and more of a comfort.  I was also stuck at home in my parent’s house where I was miserable.  Although I had graduated high school already, I skipped 4th grade and was under 18.  My Dad was adamant that I had to live with them and under their rules until that time.  I was all but chained to my house – only allowed out to drive my brother and sister to school, attend church, and go to my job – where my parents were friends with the owner and knew my schedule.  By the time I turned 18 I probably weighed somewhere around 165.  Again, now I would love to go back there.

I moved out the day I turned 18…  Yep, the very day.  I left in the morning with a bunch of my stuff and didn’t come back until a few days later to get the rest.  Looking back now I know that I broke my Mom’s heart.  I wish I hadn’t, but at that point my Dad was making my life so miserable that I couldn’t stand to be around him for one minute longer than necessary.  Not too long after (maybe 2 months or so), I left on an amazing trip through Europe.  I visited 13 countries, and enjoyed the food in them all!

By the time I was in my 20s I was easily a size 18.  I started having to shop at Lane Bryant.  My weight was right up around 200.  I wasn’t happy with myself, but nothing I did seemed to work long-term.  I went on tons of diets and yo-yo’ed all over the place.  I would lose 20 pounds, then gain 10 or 15 back.  I tried pills, Weight Watchers, supplements, and just about every new “fad” diet that came out.  Nothing really stuck until my 7-year relationship crumbled.  Again, I spiralled into depression, and again it helped me lose weight.  I was down to a size 8-10 in just a few short months.

Fast forward a bit – I met my now-husband, settled into a comfortable relationship, and his Southern cooking quickly added on the pounds.  When we got engaged I managed to lose weight through the South Beach Diet (which my Mom uses very successfully) and Weight Watchers.  I was somewhere around 170-175 on my wedding day.  Then DDay happened.

Depression – again.  Only this time it was back to the food-as-comfort kind.  As much as Mr. Mess has always said that he loves my body and finds me very attractive, I couldn’t find it within myself to believe him.  His pornography and sex addiction coupled with his previous affair left me feeling worthless as a woman.  As a test showed in my post How Does His Sex Addiction Affect Me, my past experiences and his sex addiction still make me feel inferior and insecure.

Even after things got more stable at home the weight didn’t drop off.   My husband started culinary school and practiced all of his French, creme-based sauces and recipes at home.  He enjoys cooking for me and showing his love through acts of service (which is great since this is my secondary love language).  I also LOVE food, especially great food.  I was more than happy to drown my sorrows and accept his love offerings of creamy, buttery, fatty, smothered in cheese and deep fried creations.  The problem?  That just reinforced my self-esteem and body issues.  I can see now that I also allowed my need for control in other areas of my life (areas that I really have NO control over) to serve as a distraction and even excuse for my weight issues.

Not anymore.  I am taking control of my weight.  I am tackling my body issues – by becoming healthier and affirming myself every day.  I started a new diet two days ago.  This time it is with the help of a nutritionist and program.  I am going to learn more about my body, what works well, and how to eat right without sacrificing everything all of the time.

For now, though, I am in the hard part.  I have started a shake and juice cleanse using Isagenix products.  It has been brutal.  Yesterday and the day before I got one “real” meal, two barely tolerable shakes, and a few snacks.  The first day a Granny Smith Apple like the one above tasted like the most amazing thing I had ever put in my mouth and was the highlight of my day.  Today and tomorrow I am on a juice-only cleanse.  As of this morning I have already lost almost 7 pounds (6.9 to be exact).

I will be following that 11-day cleanse with a 40-day HCG diet program.  I am not getting my HCG online or through a company I know nothing about.  Instead, I will have a local support person who I will be working with twice per week to get any questions that I may have answered.  She is affiliated with a good doctor.  My husband and I have already looked up a lot of really tasty-sounding, low-calorie meals.  He will now be testing his ability to plan nutritious and appetizing meals that keep us foodies satisfied.

It will be hard.  But it should be rewarding.  They are guaranteeing that I will lose 20 pounds, and probably more like 30.  We shall see.  Either way, I’m taking the reigns of my weight.  I’m vowing to love my body and take care of myself.  I am getting healthy so that I can feel good – inside and out.  Already it’s been a step in the right direction.

How Does His Sex Addiction Affect Me?

17 Jul

I took this survey at the suggestion of Scabs.  Here is an overview of what it is about:

This survey is part of a  research study being conducted by Dr. Stefanie Carnes.  The purpose of the study is to learn about  how sexual addiction impacts the sexuality of the partner of the sex addict,  with the long term goal of helping partners and couples recover.

There are several benefits you may experience  as a result of your participation in this study.  The first benefit is knowing you are  advancing research in the field of sex addiction.  The second is that you may experience some  insights about how your sexuality has been impacted by the addiction.  And finally, at the end of the survey, you will receive a brief report, free of  charge, that outlines areas of your sexuality that may have been impacted by  the addiction.

Here are my results:

Category Little/No Impact Minor Impact Moderate Impact Strong Impact Very Strong Impact
Feelings of Victimization X
Intimacy Impairment X
Shame X
Sexual Anorexia/Aversion X
Sexual Dysfunction X
Body Image Issues X
Obligatory Sex X
Compulsive Sex X
Fear X
Anger/Revenge X

Problem Areas

Feelings of Victimization — Strong

This subscale indicates that you may have feelings of betrayal and emotional trauma that could be impacting your ability to be sexually open and vulnerable in your relationship.

Body Image Issues — Strong

Elevations on this subscale indicate feelings of insecurity about your body, such as feelings of inferiority when being compared with others, and a desire to change your body.

If you have an SA in your life, try taking it and saving your results.  I’m going to do it again in 6 months and see if anything has changed.

More info on our weekend will be forthcoming soon.  I just wanted to get something out to you guys that I found interesting.  I hope that everyone had a nice weekend!

Being Contemplative

5 Jul

I wonder all the time if there is really meaning to life. I’m not sure.  I was born.  I’m here going through the motions.  One day I will die and my life will be over.  I think meaning in life exists in those that you effect.  How you reach people.  The way you make others feel.  The creativity and ideas you leave behind.  The love that you shared.  That’s one of the reasons my marriage is so important to me.  The fact that I’m not going to discard him as if his life has no meaning to me is part of what defines who I am.

I am also learning to find meaning within myself.  All of my worth isn’t tied to the people around me.  That’s something that I’m learning every day.  Even if I’m no Shakespeare (although if you listen to some even Shakespeare was no Shakespeare), I have wisdom.  Even if I’m no Einstein, I have intelligence.  Even if I’m never famous, I have talents.  Even if I’m not a super model, I am beautiful.  Even if I never leave a lasting mark on the world, I am here now and affecting those around me in small ways every day.

I’m not really going to delve extremely far into the “meaning of life,” because everyone under the sun has already done that (so it seems).  I will say that I have vowed to really live my life fully.  I’m not even sure what that means right now, but I’m taking it day by day.  Two days ago it was about expressing myself through a new tattoo.  Yesterday it was about relaxing and letting myself enjoy some fried chicken.  Today I’m not sure what it is going to be about.  But I will make sure that I do something that brings me joy.  Because, ultimately, that is one of the most important things we can get out of life.

Back to the idea of meaning in general…  Yesterday I thought even more about the meaning behind my new tattoo.  I delved into it a bit in my original post, but there is even more symbolism behind the turtle.  After some quick research I discovered that many cultures have meaning attached to the turtle.  The symbolism that I relate the most to is a mish-mash of multiple cultures.  The overarching theme across time is that turtles represent endurance, strength, stability, and longevity (many sea turtles live for upwards of 80 years).  They are also said to provide protection, good fortune and happiness.  That sounds great!

The turtle’s careful deliberative movements are a rich symbol for inner reflection and peace.  As someone who tends toward the contemplative side of things, that definitely represents me well.  Turtles are also considered to have courage because they have to stick their necks out in order to walk.  In African fairy tales the tortoise is considered the most clever animal.  In the Aesop fable the tortoise and the hare, the determination and work ethic of the turtle makes him the winner of the race.  The turtle is part of nearly every culture in some significant way, and are involved in creation myths of various cultures including Native American, Asian, Mesopotamian, and many others.  The certainly have a lot of meaning to people other than just myself.

So, I guess if a simple animal can have that much meaning then I certainly do, too.

%d bloggers like this: