When I was just beginning the recovery journey, I wrote this blog post. I couldn't understand why some people just STOPPED using their blog to process their life just because their husband was sober!! I concluded that things must be going SO WELL in their life and in their marriage that they just don't have time, or the need, to get on their blogs any more. I thought things must just be SO GOOD that no one is writing because none of us, wallowing in the depths of hell, want to read post after post about how life is sooo good.
I think I was wrong. First of all, I would love to read post after post about how recovery has paid off. But unfortunately, I can't write that for anyone. Because my husband has relapsed only once in the last year and that relapse was over 6 months ago, but we certainly have NOT experienced only bliss. All the times he was on the couch didn't have any thing to do with pornography, or masturbation, or infedelity, or sexual objectification, or lusting. But really once sobreity begins settling in, there is this whole other can of worms that is open and spilling out that finally the sober addict and I can begin to work on. Up until this point, I would constantly come to my husband tryong to get him to address this nasty can of worms but he wasnt really able to see it clearly, EVER, because he was so numb from his addiction. Now we are here, we are both addressing the can of worms, but H's brain is still broken. He has all these false connections in his mind. He has all these defaults that cause him SO MUCH added pain. And honestly,
THIS period of our lives requires more humility from him than the initial embarking on recovery.
It requires more humility than admitting he has an addiction.
It requires more humility than spilling every horrible deed committed. to his wife, on D-day,
It requires more humility than the day he submitted and moved out of our home.
It requires more humility than the countless, hundreds upon hundreds of hours that he has spent attending groups and counseling.
This period of our lives requires SO MUCH humility, and without it, we get stuck, we cannot move forward, we literally CANNOT see solutions.
It requires a day by day humility, and that is the real difference. And sometimes, for a broken addict brain, the humility just can't be found right away!
And from me, this period has required MORE patience.
Patience while he figures things out.
Patience while he tries on different "shoes" to see if they "fit".
Patience while he figures out who he is.
Its one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
Because let me tell you, patience was wearing really thin the day I kicked him out, a year ago. Patience was wearing really thin the day I received the full disclosure.
Patience was beginning to look more like submission to abuse there for a while in my life.
So to ask any one of us wopas to just be more patient, is seriously asking us to stretch farther than we are able. And yet, some how we do it. For me it has come through the grace of God, and the little glimpses of hope I receive when things are going really well.
It has also required lots of introspection, vulnerability, and humility on my part. I have had to find room for forgiveness. I have had to make lots of room and time, almost giving all my daily effort, to feeling my emotions which have continued to be overwhelming and extremely dark. I have had to accept that trauma takes longer to heal from than addiction takes to recover from. I OFTEN lag behind my husband right now. And when H is acting like he is annoyed with my trauma, or is being "a hurry up guy" as Doug Weiss calls it, then I begin to just feel resentful and more and more pain and it feels impossible to heal with that kind of negativity and pressure!! It is in these times that I would start implementing boundaries and putting him farther, and farther, and farther away from me... All in an attempt to just HEAL!
However, on the flip-side, when H is open to feeling the pain of the fact that he has caused me pain (because of course it pains him), and sit with me in my pain, and do loving things for me when he knows I am in pain then sometimes he takes the pain all away. Men really like to fix things, and if they are in a hurry to make our pain go away, to "FIX" it, then it hurts really bad and makes it all worse. But if they do these loving, empathetic, Christlike things, then really,
My pain is one thing, but the thing H has often struggled with in the past was my fear and anxiety. This has taken a lot of effort and fine tuning for each of us, and introspection on my part, but we have made these into connecting moments as well. It requires, a lot of times, that he read between the lines a little bit, and me too. What I mean is that, initially, my fear/anxiety about the future, about him, about what he is going to do today, about how this or that action could lead to a relapse, etc.etc.etc. it would all come out basically as lashing out at him. I would begin grilling him about his recovery, or trying to get him to see how this or that action is really a BAD idea and should be avoided. He would listen to me and begin to feel really bad about himself and his decisions and begin to doubt his recovery. NOW we are both able to recognize these times as bargaining (as Doug Weiss describes it). Here is what I really want in those moments:
I want him to recognize what I am doing, sit down, look me in the eye, and lovinging and sincerely say, "Lovely, I really did do all those things that I said I did. My addiction really was that bad. I own it, and I also am working and changing it. I hear your concerns. Tell me more about how you are FEELING." <Insert me, beginning to cry, HERE> I share my feelings, not "I feel like you...." But the deeper, underlying feelings, like "I feel scared" or "I dont want the pain of the past" or "I'm so sad about ...." and I am able to find what is going on underneath my anxiety-attack-on-him. And then, he just holds me, and tells me everything is going to be okay. He reassures me that he loves me, and that God is with us. And he is COMPLETELY okay with my tears.
Sometimes, I help him in this process by being introspective as I am talking and recognizing when I am going into a fear spiral. Then I can say, "Can you just tell me everything is going to be okay? Can you tell me what you are doing to reassure me? I just feel....." And begin going into my deeper underlying emotions. It works so well for us. But it never works when his default is to blame me, when his addict mind is taking over. I'm telling you its humility to the DUST.
They say emotionally maturity stops when the addiction starts. I have talked about this a million times on here and I feel like it comes out of my mouth almost every single day when talking to support friends. So my husband has been a 9 year old trapped in a man's body, accepting a man's responsibility, for years and years. I saw him mature with no longer running to porn and lust as a coping mechanism, first. Then, I saw him mature with our finances as well. I saw him mature in many of his relationships with his family members. But when it came to me, he was still a 9 year old boy. A child who couldn't hold my pain, couldn't sit with me, thought only of himself and his own needs (as is the natural way for a child), and wanted to blame me for everything. The wise man in my husband KNEW the RIGHT thing to do, but he couldn't hold it consistently because his little boy within him would want to take over and default to the blame etc. So he would be supportive and loving and then leave for work, or wake up the next morning, let some time pass, and he was full of resentment towards me.
He has really learned how to be a man. I mean that phrase in the most loving sense, let me tell you what I mean. I have seen it more consistently than ever before. He has had to really listen to his deeper, painful feelings and honor and validate them in order to mature out of this. It hurts him to know that he has hurt me, so he has to deal with his own pain in a healthy, self-love way, that allows him to:
Certainly a part of me (did I mention that fear has been my annoying best friend for like a long time?) feels like I am dancing, prancing, through a beautiful sunshiny field collecting flowers in a basket in a sundress.... and eventually I am going to skip right into a trap and fall straight through the earth slamming straight on the concrete... finally waking up from my fairytale dream to reality. Because this feels better than reality. But I try to honor those feelings, speak to the little girl within me, and just love myself and be gentle with myself. Then I try really hard to live in the present moment. Because if this IS just a fairytale, I don't want to miss a single second of my fairytale. I want to experience it. I hope it lasts.