I thought I would share the emotional sobriety audio that we listened to on Friday night at my retreat. This is definitely worth downloading and listening to.
This weekend I am at an intensive step work S-Anon retreat. We will be going through at least Step 4 today with reading and journaling time and panels.
As I sit in these meetings I will be jotting down my thoughts and feelings and the things that really resonate with me. I am going to publish these thoughts without any editing or order, as they come to me. Feel free to enter my swirling mind, take what works for you, and leave the rest.
Step 1 Notes from Our S-Anon Retreat
Sometimes we play games with ourselves – “if only” x or y or z would happen (or wouldn’t have happened) then everything would be fine. That magical thinking just keeps the plates in the air, spinning. It is juggling, it isn’t managing.
One thing that is a blessing and a curse about this program is that admitting unmanageability is a slow process. Step 1 seems like one step, but it is really 4 or 5 wrapped up all together.
One of the hardest parts is that we can’t understand it. Crazy is crazy. It can’t be explained with logic. We can’t control things, but we also can’t necessarily understand it because it isn’t ours to understand. We have to understand ourselves, not the addict.
Finding serenity can be very difficult in the midst of a crisis. Surrender. That is the challenge of Step 1. That’s what it takes to find peace.
Letting go brings clarity.
We are all waiting for the next lesson.
Step 1 is about “admitting” the truth. It is hard to make progress when you won’t even tell yourself that you are somewhere. It was easy to acknowledge inside that you are powerless, but saying it out loud puts action into the process and makes it real.
Powerlessness and unmanageability go back and forth like a seesaw. The more that we buy into the false thought that we can manage, the more we convince ourselves that we are powerful. There is a gratitude that comes with recognizing that life is unmanageable. We just create an illusion of manageability. The more unmanageable life seemed, the more power and energy that we try to expend attempting to control it.
Powerlessness does not mean helplessness. In fact, it means the ability to ask for help and gain true power and tools to get better. Control meant hanging on with a tight fist. Slowly when we are able to loosen the grip and just admit that we are powerless, we can trust something greater than ourselves to lead us where we need to be.
This is a wake up program for us to become who we are supposed to be, who we really are.
These things aren’t going to go away. Life is like an ocean with wave after wave after wave. You don’t sit there and hope the ocean stops having waves. You just learn how to deal with them, how to find peace in the midst of it all.
There is no magic cure. There is not one thing I can do or change that will make things better or perfect. I have gotten rid of my husband, but that doesn’t “solve” the problem. My life isn’t magically manageable because he is no longer here. It is much healthier and much more fulfilling and much happier, but there is always something to work on. Organizing things differently doesn’t change the problem.
Its okay to work on the same problem over and over. There is no failure in digging into things, and doing Step 1 many times with many different issues. This is not a “once through” kinda program. You don’t get a certificate and a passing grade and an “everything is cured” pat on the back. It is a constant process towards growth and change.
How many of us saw red flags at the beginning of our relationship with our addict and thought, “Oh, I can handle this”?
I like the idea that one member suggested of a “god box” where she puts slips of paper with all of the things she tries to control in order to let go of them.
“Step 1 was the hardest step I had ever done because I hadn’t done any other steps.”
One member re-words Step 1 to remove the “we” and focus entirely on herself in the here and now. “I admit that I am powerless and my life is unmanageable.”
Today I’m feeling bitchy. Royally bitchy. I don’t have any one particular reason to be, except maybe “that time of the month.” It’s so cliche, though, and generally I’m not like that. For the most part I don’t get wild emotional swings or any of that other bullshit. So that probably means it’s something more.
So what? First of all, I talked to a sweet, beautiful (seriously, model stunning) woman this morning at S-Anon whose husband has been lying and cheating on her with strippers and prostitutes. He seems like a good, normal guy. He is smart, successful, handsome, a doctor even! She is gorgeous, skinny, blonde, and a super Mom. From the outside looking in they have everything and then some. But she is crushed and demoralized and angry and confused and hopeless because of what he is putting her through.
This morning as I sat and talked to her, watched her cry and gave her a big hug, an intense anger welled up inside me. I understand that sex addiction doesn’t depend on the partner, but for someone to cheat on HER?! It made me feel like there is no hope that anybody is safe. It made me wonder how I can ever expect to have a faithful partner.
I realize the pessimistic, self-defeating nature of that thought. I do know that I am worthwhile and special. I intellectually understand that there are plenty of people out there who would love to have a woman like me in their lives. I just don’t know how to accept that deep inside my soul.
On top of that, I went shopping after the meeting and had to lug a 50 pound bag of dog food inside. In heels (because I had to look cute). Then I tried to make lunch and do dishes only to find that my sink is clogged up. I have a drain snake that my grandma gave me that I then taught myself how to use. Twenty or so minutes later I had unclogged the sink but was covered elbow deep in water and who knows what else.
I could have called my Dad to help with any of it. He lives just next door and would have been more than happy to assist me. I can’t keep relying on other people to do the things that are my responsibility. I relied on my husband to do stuff like that, and look where that left me. Five years later I have a house full of unfinished projects he said he would handle and a heart full of anger.
Or maybe I’m going about things all wrong. Maybe I should have called my Dad. Maybe I should start getting used to relying on someone who is actually reliable. I can’t decide if this is my time to be strong and capable and independent or my time to be weak and fragile and vulnerable. Frankly, neither option sounds great, but they both sound wonderful. I think I need to find the right mix of them both.
I know that probably makes absolutely no sense. Let me see if I can explain. On one hand I am realizing that I put far too much stock in other people – what they think, what they do, what they don’t do, how they treat me. I give my power away too easily. I have only been single about 60 or so days total since I was 15. That’s crazy, right? I’m like that girl in How I Met Your Mother that Ted has an old lady watch to see when she breaks up with her current long-term boyfriend. I don’t stay on the market long.
Maybe that should make me feel good about myself because people are obviously attracted to me. It proves that I’m a dedicated partner who puts her all into things. However, it also means that I’m not sure who I am outside of a relationship. Additionally, I don’t have such a great batting average when it comes to choosing partners. Both long-term relationships I have had were with people with addictions of some kind and a pretty shitty family history (abuse, drugs, bad parenting, you name it). I’m definitely a rescuer, and it hasn’t worked out very well for me. So maybe its time for me to do things on my own.
On the other hand, isolating myself and dealing with things “on my own” also hasn’t worked out so well, either. I went through years of being cheated on and lied to without a support network because I didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems. I thought I could handle it. I didn’t want to show weakness. That led to more pain and heartache. The time I wasted trying to be self-sufficient only hurt me.
Since the bad start I had to this day I have watched some Grey’s Anatomy, snuggled up on the couch with my dogs, and had 2 glasses of wine. I’m feeling much happier, and I know there is a lot waiting for me in the future. I just have to take a deep breath, be patient, and take things one day at a time. The Christmas picture above is a reminder that the holiday I love is just around the corner and there is still music in my soul.
On my ride home from my Mom’s birthday party tonight the perfect song popped up on my radio. It’s called Fine Line by Little Big Town. Here’s the video:
I couldn’t write words more perfect than these…
So decidedly vacant
I keep waiting for something to give,
But that something is always me
You consume what you’re able,
I get crumbs from your table
You call this comfortably normal
But I call it getting by
Baby, it’s a fine line
I’m holding on, you’re holding back
Baby, it’s a fine line
Can’t you hear me knockin at your door?
But you’re taking your sweet time
In love and out of touch, yeah
Baby, it’s a fine line
Baby, it’s a real fine line
Do you feel the distance,
like I feel resistance?
If I pull any farther away,
would you even come after me?
But the one thing I’m fearing
Is that I’m disappearing
How can I keep believing
If you won’t prove me wrong?
Baby, it’s a fine line, yeah baby,
It’s a real fine line
Baby, it’s a fine line, hey baby, hey baby
Baby, it’s a fine line,
Can’t you hear me knockin’ at your door?
But you’re taking your sweet time,
Always taking your sweet time, yeah
Baby, it’s a fine line,
It’s a real fine, it’s a real fine line
Baby, it’s a fine line
The words of that song seem like they were made for me, for right where I am now. We’re walking a tight rope, balancing on a very fine line. I feel like I have been here holding on by my fingertips for so long while he’s been holding back – hiding who he is, lying, keeping his heart and mind from me, being complacent, and consuming everything I have to give. Now I know that I can’t live that way, and I’m changing – what I will accept, what I know I deserve, and how much I’m willing to take, or better yet, what I know I need from a partner.
This controlled separation has been a great tool so far. I am gaining confidence. I am reveling in how wonderful it is to live without constant lies and the up and down, crazy roller-coaster of being in a relationship with someone who isn’t as committed as I am. It’s like when you have intense pain – a migraine or toothache, for instance – and you finally get relief. When the pain disappears, nothing has ever felt sweeter than those first amazing, blessed pain free moments. They always make me more thankful and aware of the gifts that I take for granted.
The separation has been like that for me. I am rediscovering the things about myself that I love. I am acknowledging the things that I can do to make myself happy. I cooked a large part of an amazing dinner tonight. At one point I had 3 different pots going while I was prepping 2 other things. I cleaned as I went. I was a whirling queen of the kitchen. Everyone said the food was delicious. It was healthy – using whole wheat and grains and truvia and fresh vegetables. And it was all me. Okay, my grandma and brother and sister also contributed courses, so that’s not completely true. However, I did 2 appetizers and 3 sides including killer macaroni & cheese and made-from-scratch cole slaw. I’m proud of everything I put out.
I went on a little tangent there, but hopefully you’re still following me. I believe that I am personally on the cusp of one of the best times of my life. I am gaining clarity, feeling my inner strength coming out, and getting secure in who I am. I am confident that I will be okay, no matter what happens with my marriage.
In the last few days it also seems like my husband has shaken some of the cobwebs out of his head. I can’t speak for him about what has changed, but I have sensed that something is different. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. Our interactions are closer to what I had hoped they would be. He seems to be stepping up in a few ways. It’s what I want.
But now I feel uneasy. I wonder why things are different. I wonder if this will be just another temporary change. I wonder how we can repair this thing we have. I have never been a worrier, and somehow that’s what I find myself doing now. Then I remember why I have always hated worrying. It is crazy-making, and it doesn’t accomplish anything. I hate not accomplishing anything.
So when I feel my mind wandering down that path, I refocus myself on something productive. Sometimes it’s reading. Sometimes it’s cleaning. Sometimes it’s writing. Sometimes it’s opening up my S-Anon daily devotional. Sometimes it’s calling someone to talk through my thoughts. Whatever I do, I try to keep perspective on the growth I am making and remind myself that this is a long journey. There are at least 9 more weeks of this controlled separation and years and years of my life left. I don’t have to do it all now. I CAN’T do it all now. What I can do now is keep balancing on this fine line between being married and not called separation.
Tuesday I am supposed to get a full disclosure from my husband at his therapist’s office. He has been preparing for about 3 weeks. He is going way back – from his first acting out through today. I am nervous because I don’t know everything that is going to come out. Our MC is back from his medical leave, so I am glad to have his support. I have seen him for IC and I know if I need extra support he can offer it. I have a knot in my stomach just thinking about it, though.
In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on all the positive things happening to relieve some anxiety. Today was incredibly nice. We slept in, had a “roll in the hay,” then my husband went out to pick up coffee and came back with flowers for me. We went to a winery tour, tasting and picnic in the afternoon. On the way up we talked and laughed. We touched, kissed, and were close emotionally all day. The weather was as perfect as it has ever been, we purchased several bottles of delicious wine from 2 wineries, and dinner was amazing. It was a fantastic day.
For now, that’s what I’m focused on… Our present progress and where our future will take us. I’m hoping that the full disclosure can create closure on the past and help me feel more trust in my husband. This entire process has been hard for him, too, I’m sure, although he hasn’t complained once.
I know I promised to give some details and pictures from our anniversary, and I will do it soon. I just want to bask in the glow of my wonderful day for now. Hope the rest of your weekend is great!
Quite a few things this week have led me to examine the way that I treat myself. My husband and I try to get together daily and spend at least an hour talking, followed by 20 minutes of dialoging. Some days we have topics that one or both of us want to touch on, so that is what we use as our dialog question. Other days we use questions from the Retrouvaille workbook. I also found a great website with a huge list of questions by topic (with everything you can possibly think of organized A-Z), and a random question generator.
On Wednesday we decided to give that a try and decided on the randomly generated question, “Do I judge other people by higher or lower standards than I use on myself? How do I feel about that?” Below is a portion of my answer:
Generally speaking, I judge others by lower standards than I use for myself. For example, I would only accept strait A’s for myself in college, but I don’t expect the same from you (my husband) or my sister. I can be very proud of you when you get a B in class, whereas if I got a B it would be devastating, embarrassing, and traumatic.
I also expect perfection, or near perfection in almost anything I do. As such, I feel less than or embarrassed (yet again) anytime I make a mistake or have to ask for help. I put immense pressure on myself in a way I would never dream of putting on others.
At the same time, I believe even my lower standards for others are sometimes higher than they are used to. My overall philosophy is to set the bar high and expect 100% effort. In that way, even if someone falls a little short they still achieve more and push themself harder than they would with little to no expectations set forth. I always responded much better to teachers and others who wanted the best out of me. It made me feel like I was someone with value, who was special, and I want to do the same with those that I love – let them know I think highly of them and their abilities.
I have mixed feelings about my answer. When I think of the increased pressure I put on myself, I feel sad. This sadness is a feeling of dismay, probably a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. It feels unfortunate that I would judge myself so harshly. The physical sensation is like a twinge or a pang of pain in a sore muscle after a few days of recuperating. It isn’t sharp and powerful, but more of a remnant.
My second response is in response to my lowered, yet still high, expectations of others. It seems like a more reasonable approach, and it makes me feel like an inspirational person who gives encouragement.
Keep in mind that the above was written in a 10 minute span with no opportunity to edit or review my thoughts as they were going onto the paper. The fact that I am even posting it here, unedited, makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable. I suppose the best way to get over my issues is to attack them head on.
After my husband and I exchanged notebooks and read each other’s answers, we started dialoging on our feelings. The point of the 10 minutes of dialoging is to really understand the emotions of your spouse. I actually wrote a bit too much about my thoughts and not enough about my feelings since I ran out of time. However, when my husband and I dialoged I was able to delve into my feelings much more. Of course, I ended up in tears. That was the first smack in the face that my approach to myself is really not healthy. I knew it before, but I pushed that realization to the back of my mind and never let the emotional aspect come out.
Then Friday while reviewing the blog of a fantastic writer who has done a lot of self-reflection I came across a post about self-compassion. The words really resonated with me, even though he is far more compassionate to himself than I am. He included a link to an online test that he took. I decided to head over there and see how bad it really was. Here is the scoring rubric and my scores:
Average overall self-compassion scores tend to be around 3.0 on the 1-5 scale, so you can interpret your overall score accordingly. As a rough guide, a score of 1-2.5 for your overall self-compassion score indicates you are low in self-compassion, 2.5-3.5 indicates you are moderate, and 3.5-5.0 means you are high. Remember that higher scores for the Self-Judgment, Isolation, and Over-Identification subscales indicate less self-compassion, while lower scores on these dimensions are indicative of more self-compassion (these subscales are automatically reverse-coded when your overall self-compassion score is calculated.)
Common Humanity: 2.00
Overall score: 2.21
So, there it is… I’m not very compassionate to myself, and I’m extremely self-judgmental. Sadly, that sounds about right.
This morning in my S-Anon meeting the topic chosen by the group (not proposed by me) was self-care. Yep. I definitely needed to hear everyone’s shares on how to take care of yourself, give yourself grace, and put your feelings and needs first. I have been getting slightly better with self-care in areas like eating better, exercising (I absolutely love karate), and doing little things for myself every day.
I still have a very critical mindset towards myself, though. I am still a perfectionist. I still set myself up for failure, then beat myself up when I do fail. Now that I am really aware of it and how it affects me emotionally, I’m going to have to find a way to contradict that voice inside that tells me I will never live up to anyone’s expectations for me, or my own expectations for myself. I have to really accept that I am enough, that I am exceptional just the way I am.
This is something I read yesterday, and I wanted to share it here. It really connected with me, big time. This isn’t going to be an eloquent, well-planned post. It is just a small snapshot of what has been bouncing around in my mind for the last 12 hours or so. This excerpt came from a longer post on a forum. She is talking about breaking the negative cycle with an addict.
“Somebody has to break the cycle. There’s an analogy in an Al-Anon book that helped me get this. Imagine there’s a ladder, and the addict is in front. We’re behind them on the ladder, pushing and prodding them to go up. They keep falling, and each time they fall, we cushion the blow for them.
We keep doing this over and over until one day, we notice there’s a ladder next to this one–but this ladder has OUR name on it. So we begin to climb this ladder, and leave the addict to climb their own. When they fall, we can sympathize, but we concentrate on climbing our own ladder. This addiction has NOTHING to do with us. We have to learn to take care of ourselves and become healthy ourselves in or out of the relationship…
In learning to focus on my own needs and learning not to enable, I have gained a life where I know I’ll be okay no matter what happens. To me, you have to put the focus on yourself. Whether it’s therapy, S-Anon (which saved my life) or Al-Anon, get help. Get tools to use that will help you move up your own ladder. ”
I like this analogy. My husband and I are both traveling up ladders that will bring us to a healthier, happier place. We are each dealing with our own stuff that can cause us to fall. He is struggling against his addiction and his pattern of lying to avoid his feelings. I am struggling against my codependency, controlling personality, and perfectionism. On any given day, one of us may slip and fall. I am tired of letting one person’s fall cause us both to hit the ground, though. In order to keep moving upward, we need to focus on our own separate ladders. We have to learn how to sympathize with whoever is falling and help motivate them to keep climbing, while continuing to reach toward our next rung.
We are both moving in the same direction. We both have the ultimate goal of being healthier individuals with a stronger marriage. We are moving parallel with one another towards that goal, but we will face different challenges on our climb. In the past, I have been right there underneath him, waiting for him to fall and crush me. I have tried to hold him up, cushion his fall, and mitigate his losses as best as possible, with great personal consequences, especially to my sanity. Now I see that I have my own ladder. It has my name on it. It isn’t going to be an easy climb, but it’s going to be MINE.
But what if he falls? I still have that internal struggle that says I should try to catch him somehow. But I can’t. Not if I’m focused on my own climb, my own struggles. Does that mean I won’t care if he falls? Not at all. It might even make me falter a bit on my climb, while I check to make sure he isn’t fatally injured. On some occasions I may take a few steps backward. But I won’t be down there on the ground with him. It won’t take me to the depths of despair. And I will eventually keep climbing, whether he catches up or not.
What do you think of that analogy? Does it make sense to you the way it does to me?
Trust is such a difficult thing for me for a number of reasons. One is because of my personality. I’m a very type-A, get things done kinda girl. I’m usually firmly in the camp of “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” My husband’s sex addiction and affair don’t do anything to help my trust. His lying habit virtually demolished any vestiges that remained.
Despite all of that, I have come to realize that I can’t go through life without trust. I can’t be in this marriage without being vulnerable, without giving up some control. I have to trust him with some things, whether I really want to or not. Whether I feel 100% confident that he will follow through and do it in a way that I would have or not… Cue stomach knots.
I am now working on my codependence issues and learning to let go of things that aren’t in my control. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. How do you all do it? What keeps you trusting? What helps you reassure yourself that it won’t be the end of the world no matter what happens? How do you keep your hope? I really want to know.
Being in this community is so rewarding because I get to connect with so many people, hear their stories, get support, and gain understanding of myself and what we are all going through in one form or another. Reading blogs gives me a fresh perspective, challenges me, and makes me really ponder things. At the same time, I see and hear so much disappointment, pain, fear, and oh so many lies. It is disheartening. Sure, there are lots and lots of stories of hope and healing. Still, those painful ones really stick around in my gut.
Those thoughts ping around in my head and make this struggle to trust so much more difficult. Especially after nights like last night. Mr. Mess and I are fine – great even – so don’t worry about that. It’s just that disappointment crept in, slowly but surely. I was able to support a friend, but not in the way I had hoped. Our carefully laid plans (so we thought) were blown out of the water. I could feel how despondent she was, and there was really very little I could do about it. I didn’t have any control over the situation, the outcome, or her feelings.
I wanted to, because boy do I hate seeing someone I care about in pain. But I had to let go of that desire. I had to just be there. Just listen. Just be supportive by caring – not by controlling the situation in any way. I had to remind myself that I didn’t fail. That I wasn’t the cause of the disappointment, I couldn’t have changed anything, and just being there was enough. Even though I couldn’t have done anything to fix her situation, that was my utmost desire.
I wish I had a magic wand that could solve all of the problems in the world. That is such fantasy-land thinking, though. I have to let go of it. I have to just do what I can do and be content in the knowledge that even a glimmer of normalcy, fun, comfort, validation or care does make a difference. Small things can matter a lot. I know that has been true for me. Seeing that “Like” on my post, getting a response – positive or negative, just knowing that there are people out there that care enough to take time out of their day to read what I have to say, and then offer their thoughts… Those things are huge in a way that is hard to describe.
But trusting that things will work out? That is tough. Trusting that I really am enough – no matter what happens – seems nearly impossible. I have this internal battle going on inside. It is between what I know in my head and what I fear. Those fears, some irrational and some completely possible (maybe even probable), well up inside of me. The urge I have is to freeze, to let them paralyze me. I am fighting it with all that I have. Because the reality is that I will be fine. I am strong. I am capable. I am worthwhile. I have to trust my own decision to trust (twisty I know), because that is the only way to defeat my fears.
This post will probably be a mishmash of lots of things. First, I realize that even though I posted twice yesterday I never mentioned what I did for myself. The answer is that I dressed up for absolutely no reason. I wore a pretty floral dress, did my hair and make-up, and put on my pearls. I wore these adorable new high-heeled Crocs I have that are brown with pink insoles. I felt gorgeous all day. Now if only I could find my sparkly silver nail polish!
Today I’m not sure what I’m going to do for myself. I already downloaded the Thompson Square CD (actually MP3), and have been listening to it at my desk and in my car. I will be sharing my current obsession with you later in this post. I also officially put in for a vacation week today. I will be taking a full week to do nothing except relax, have fun, and take care of myself. I’m planning a haircut, possibly a new tattoo, plenty of sleeping-in, and maybe a shopping trip or day adventure somewhere. It’s Friday, though, so I’m going to do at least one more thing for myself today. 🙂
This week I have started realizing the real value in focusing on me. This past Saturday I went to my first ever S-Anon meeting. It was a really great experience. In our area SA and S-Anon meet at the same time in the same location. The Saturday morning meeting is one that my husband has decided to go to, and last week I made the leap and decided to go along. Since starting Codependent No More I have a completely different perspective on myself. It shined a light on the fact that I have plenty to work on, too.
So, back to last Saturday. The SA meeting seemed to be pretty packed judging by the number of men I saw coming into the building and slipping into the room where Mr. Mess went. They all seemed to be fairly early, too. Yet, here I was, the lone woman. We were pretty early ourselves, so I wandered down the hall to a table with information and brochures. It seems like this place has a group, 12-step meeting for everything. Everything, I tell you! They have SA, S-Anon, AA, Al-Anon, Overeaters Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous (never seen that one before), Gambling Anonymous, and maybe even a few others that I can’t remember.
Anyway… The scheduled time of the meeting 9:30 am quickly approached, then passed with no other women appearing. I was fairly certain I had the right room, and I knew I had the right place and time since I was staring right at the schedule on one of the flyers. There was really only one entrance, so I was also pretty confident I didn’t miss anyone. Conveniently, the number for the group contact person was on said flyer. I gave her a call at that number, and the answering machine listed another number (her cell) as the best place to reach her. I called that, and a cheerful woman answered and quickly assured me that she was in the parking lot, and she just caught sight of a few other women walking in. Leave it to women to be fashionably late for their own support group!
Sure enough, within a few seconds two women walked in. We made our way to the designated room (the one I thought it was), and quickly turned on the A/C to try and combat the humid stickiness in the air. Not too long after a third woman appeared. It was the one I had talked to on the phone. We started chatting a bit as everyone got settled. Funny enough, I wasn’t the only newbie. There was one other first-timer in the room as well.
Since there were just as many newcomers as old-timers at this meeting, they decided to do a welcome meeting. They didn’t have any extra white books with them, but I had brought my own 12 steps and the women were very willing to share for readings. Another lady came in during the initial introduction and reading of the 12 steps and 12 traditions.
I won’t bore you with all of the minute details, but I will say that everything really resonated with me. Some of the readings had some hard truths that I will have to dig into more before I really know how I feel, but overall it was a comfortable, uplifting experience. Each of the women shared some of their story, what brought them there, how long they have been in recovery, where they are on their personal journey, and that sort of thing. Their stories all touched some part of my experience. The other newbie was in tears basically the entire time.
Another woman showed up about half-way through, and shared her story as well. Both of us first-timers also shared, although we didn’t have to. Everyone was extremely supportive. I could tell immediately that this was a group of women who wouldn’t let each other get caught up with the addict. Crying, anger, and other emotions are definitely welcomed, but wallowing, blaming, and focusing on the sexaholic instead of ourselves is a no-no. No one really had to say that, it was just the vibe in the room. We are here for us. We can’t change them. But we can strengthen ourselves, set boundaries, decode our codependent behavior, and change our own patterns. It was empowering.
I got a list of other women in the program with their email, phone numbers, and whether they text or not. I supplied them with all of my information. At the end there were hugs all around. I didn’t know these women, but already I felt connected. They can understand me. They are me, in some ways. All it took was one meeting, and I know this is where I belong. I am already encouraged that I will be going with another person to their first meeting on Monday.
I was resistant to the idea that there was anything I needed to do, since this is “his problem.” Now I know differently. I know that there are things I can do – for me. To get healthy. To have a better response. To feel complete, worthy, and lovable. To stop making the same bad choices, to get off the roller-coaster, to feel at peace. I can do it. I also read something yesterday that I understand in a way I couldn’t have at the beginning of this process:
“I know now that I can’t choose to love or not love DH [dear husband] but I can choose to have him in my life or not.”
It’s true. I don’t have control over what he does. I don’t have control over his commitment to me. I don’t have control over whether he cheats on me again. I don’t have control over whether he lies to me. I also don’t have control over the fact that I love him. It’s just a fact at this point. I do, however, have control over whether I accept his behavior and allow it in my life. Everything else is up to me – my happiness, my boundaries, my self-esteem, my mental and physical health. He can’t control those things, either.
So, today I am feeling encouraged and inspired. I am smiling, tapping my foot, and jamming to wonderful music right now. That is how I want to go through life. Speaking of fantastic music, I promised earlier that I would share the song I can’t stop singing along to all day. Here’s the video:
And here are the beautiful lyrics that are really speaking to me today:
Tryin’ to live and love
With a heart that can’t be broken
Is like tryin’ to see the light
With eyes that can’t be opened
I’ll let you look inside me
Through the stains and through the cracks
And in the darkness of this moment
You see the good in that
I have just as many issues and problems. They aren’t the same because we have taken different paths to get here. I have to be just as open about my stains and cracks, and work on mine.
We may shine, we may shatter
We may be pickin’ up the pieces here on after
We are fragile, we are human
We are shaped by the light we let through us
But we break fast ’cause we are glass
True and very profound. We are shaped by the light we let through us, so I’m going to let as much light through me as possible. I’m going to stay positive. I’m going to remind myself that I am human.
Image Source – Own work by Louis Waweru / CC-BY-SA-3.0
My heart is aching today for a fellow blogger and friend who is going through a really difficult time. I won’t share what has been happening specifically since it is her story to tell. She has shared some on her blog – Repairing Shattered Pieces. It is almost all I can think about today.
When she described how she felt last night, it made me think of being exposed and vulnerable in a very dangerous place, like laying in the middle of the road, powerless to keep from being run over. Again. Because at this point she has been hit hard. I can imagine the waves of debilitating pain and hurt washing over me again and again. The helplessness and despair. I feel all of this by proxy, so I’m sure it’s amplified a thousand fold for her.
The positive glimmer in all of this for me has been Mr. Mess. I have been sharing with him what is going on as she discovers more details. He has been incredibly supportive and insightful. He has offered his knowledge and assistance, if needed. More than almost anything else, the way he has been talking has caused me to realize how far he really has come.
The other night he started talking about his own journey and how that has given him so much perspective on what it takes to get well. He went through almost a year of denial over his sex addiction. During that time he wasn’t really addressing his issues. Sure, he went to therapy, he attended SA now and then, he said the things he thought I wanted to hear. But he didn’t really believe, deep down, that there was anything he needed to do. Some days when he felt down he could accept that there was a problem, but most of the time his denial, justification and rationalization were in full force. He did the things he did because he knew it was the only way to keep me. That’s it.
He said yesterday that if someone isn’t doing the all of the work they should be to correct their issues, then they don’t really believe they have them. It really is that simple. When he wasn’t going to SA it was because he believed he didn’t need to. When he skipped therapy and stopped going altogether it was because he wasn’t invested and didn’t trulybelieve he needed the help. He stuck with marriage counseling because he did want to repair our marriage. But he still couldn’t accept that there couldn’t be a stable marriage until his addiction problems were corrected. He wanted things to work out, but his motivations were largely exterior – the pain I was in, the tension in the house after a lie, the guilt he only felt afterwards, the shame of discovery and seeing my disappointment, the regret of a poor decision, and the list goes on. He was focusing on me – my pain, my desires, my boundaries.
The only internal motivation he had was fear: the fear of losing his lifestyle (house, car, dual incomes), the fear of losing love (acceptance, comfort, my presence), the fear of divorce, the fear of failure, the fear of who knows… The problem is that fear can only carry you so far. What he didn’t have was an internal desire to change for him. Because it would make him healthy and whole. Because it would make him happy. Because it would give him the marriage he wanted, the intimacy he wished for, the acceptance and love he deserves. Part of recovering from any addiction is coming to the full realization that you are worth it. For you alone. That you want to change. For you alone. That only you can fix you. That the motivation has to come from within.
I’m glad that he has learned that now. I am proud of where he has made it to in his recovery. I feel more secure knowing that he is working on recovery for himself. It also gives me reassurance that we are on the right path. I am working on my issues and he is dealing with his. Is this what an adult relationship feels like?
- A Word from the Sex Addict…. (thesexaddicts.wordpress.com)