Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Face It, Replace It, Connect

From where else? Bing!
A few years ago life threw me a curve ball. I learned my marriage wasn’t a Disney fairytale, after all.  I found out my prince charming had some rather large kinks in his armor.  I discovered the truth about my marriage.  I learned my husband is a sex addict.

Not exactly the way to spend our wedding anniversary, but that’s exactly what happened. As we celebrate our anniversary this week, I can look back at the few years and honestly say, I’m glad it happened.  Yep, you read that correctly.  I’m at a point in my recovery where I can say, I’m grateful I found out about the sexting, the emails to other women, and the physical affairs he had in the middle of our marriage.     

If I hadn’t found out about all of it, I never would have had the desire to change things in our marriage.  I wouldn’t have taken a closer look at myself, and thought, “Elsie, you need to make some major changes in yourself.  He’s not the only one who needs some work.”  I needed to experience that pain to get to the joy I feel now.

At the time Devin reached his sex addiction rock bottom, I hit my emotional rock bottom.  If that hadn’t happened, I think we’d be divorced or very unhappily married right now.  His addiction gave us each an opportunity to improve our relationship and ourselves.  That is why I can look back with gratitude rather than resentment.

Even now, I use the tools I learned early on in my recovery. I still journal things out when necessary (aren’t you glad I don’t do them here anymore and removed them to avoid pain mining?), I do daily readings, I yoga, I practice deep breathing and I use FRC.

What is FRC?  It stands for Face It, Replace It, Connect.  It’s a valuable tool to help calm my nerves when I feel anxious.  I was taught FRC during an online class I took called Candeo.  Devin used Candeo for a year and it really helped him with his recovery.  I highly recommend it. Worth every penny we paid.

The idea behind FRC is to face the negative emotions (i.e. the trigger or acting out temptation) you are feeling.  Acknowledge it’s there rather than ignore it. Replace the negativity with what your really want for your life.  Than, connect with someone or something in a positive way. If you can, talk to someone in person.  If not, you can do an act of kindness. If you can't do an act of kindness, try yoga or deep breathing. Just do something positive.

It’s goes something like this:

I have anxiety about Devin running late.  Rather than allow the negative emotions to overtake me, I identify they occurred.  To stop the downward spiral of hypervigilance, I face the feelings of anxiety.

Next, I replace the trigger with something positive.  Perhaps a memory of a special date night or long talk we’ve shared.  I can even imagine us on the beach together, walking hand in hand.  The idea is to no longer be focused on what caused the trigger.
Finally, I connect with someone in a healthy way.  I can call a friend, hop on my blog or even play with my dogs.  Then, I do something kind for somebody.

I don’t just use FRC for my triggers.  I also use it to stay calm when someone or something is frustrating me.  It’s a valuable tool that I’m grateful I learned.

 ~~~@   ~~~@






Tuesday, November 5, 2013

To Trust or To Snoop?

from where else? Bing

Trusting your gut. 

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

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

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

Then, there are people like me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

Almost As Good As Oktoberfest

My husband works for a great company.  They are one of those rare places that still think of their employees.  Over the summer, they held a company luau.  It was fantastic.  It took place at a gorgeous clubhouse with a pool. It was a first-class event.

Recently, my husband’s boss gave us tickets to a beer and wine fest.  These tickets cost a pretty penny, and for good reason.  Once you enter the fair grounds, it’s all you can drink and one plate of food for the cost of one ticket.  Yep.  That’s right, folks.  One price gets you all the beer and wine you can drink (or the vendor is willing to give you a sample of in most cases).  Plus, you get a giant plate of some really awesome food.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t expecting much.  I was thinking along the lines of, “How good can free wine and beer really be?”  Well, my pessimism was misplaced.  These vendors knew a good event when they saw it.  So did my husband’s boss.  He told my hubby, “Set up a table with our literature and some give away tokens then have yourselves some fun.” 

His boss made sure our table was right here:
Best Van Ever!!!
Not even one hundred feet from the beer van.  What?  Yes!  A beer van!  It didn’t have crappy domestic beer either.  It was all imports.  I wish I could tell you what brands they were but I can’t. I drank wine from the wine vendors I’d been so skeptical about. 

One of the wine vendors had locally grown wine that was so freakin’ delicious, I dare say, it’s now in my top five wines.  He even had the ability to import my favorite German wine.  Wowzer!

Plus, there was a great band playing.  They played mostly 70’s rock music with a country tune thrown in here and there just to mix it up a bit.  There were a ton of giveaways from the vendors and the crowd had a blast.

Oh, and security was tight too.  Not only were you not getting in without a ticket, you weren’t driving drunk either. 

….hubby and I saw that the next event on the list is for fine dining…fingers crossed he has to “work” that one too!



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Not So Anonymous

Anonymiss from Bing



“Can I read what you just wrote?” my daughter asked.

“Sure,” I responded.

I handed her my laptop.  She read a page from my work-in-progress and said, “I love this part.”  Then she looked confused and asked, “Who is Elsie Amata?”

My heart sank.  I had forgotten about the header at the top of the page.  When I first became serious about writing my book, I decided I’d publish it under my pseudonym.  I created the name but never had the courage to make it public.  That was until a few months after I started my other blog.  Then, I added it to my profile.  My mistake was not removing it from rough draft of my novel.

So, when my daughter read my work-in-progress, she also saw the pseudonym I created for myself on the Internet.  I never thought it would be this blatant of a mistake that’d get me exposed.  Instead of telling a complete lie to my daughter, I told her a partial truth.  I let her know that I was planning on releasing the book under an alias.  We bantered back and forth about how silly that was and she told me she wanted me to publish it under my real name.  I agreed it was a great idea and I’d think about it. 

Then, I deleted my alias from my novel and did an Internet search.  As it turns out, I’m pretty easy to find.  The question is, will she look?  Knowing her the way that I do, I’d say the answer is no.  If I had made a big deal about the name, she would have looked.  Since I didn’t, she moved on from it.

It made me think about what life would be like if the kids knew about Devin’s sex addiction.  They know about my coke addiction twenty years ago.  They know I attend a twelve-step program and they’re proud of me for it.  But, how would they feel about Devin’s addiction?  It’s not quite the same.

Two years ago, we were in a position where we thought we had to disclose to them.  I was being stalked by one of his affair partners and she was threatening to contact the kids.  Back then, it seemed like a good idea to tell the kids.  In hindsight, I’m glad we didn’t.  Devin is still working on himself right now.  He has too much healing to do before he is able to share his addiction with them.

I think, in all honesty, they know something is going on with him.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that mom and dad both started going to meetings at the same time.  Mom actually calls her meetings, “meetings,” dad calls his meetings,  “the boy’s club.”  They pick up on the twelve-step lingo we use from time to time. 

I understand Devin’s position completely.  He feels the children will lose respect for him as a dad.  A role he has a hard time with as step-dad on some days.  I also understand it’s his addiction to share, not mine.  When he’s ready to disclose it to the kids, I’ll be there for him.

Let’s just hope I don’t accidently give it away first…being anonymous ain’t that easy.

~~~

ETA:  I woke up with a migraine.  I'm heading back to bed.  I'll be back later to comment and visit blogs.  xoxo

Friday, October 11, 2013

What's The Difference?


 
from Bing
Many moons ago, a fellow blogger asked me what the difference was between sex addiction and cheating.  She asked for my personal thoughts on the subject. I copied her question into my blogging ideas file then promptly forgot all about it.  That is until today.  A year and a half later.  Better late than never, right?

The best person to define sex addiction is Patrick Carnes, PhD.  Carnes is the guy who helped get sex addiction recognized in our country.  He helped create the Gentle Path and pioneered the founding of the Certified Sex Addiction Therapy program.  His definition is:

“Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior that interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment.
Sexual addiction has also been called hypersexuality, sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity. By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict's life. Sexual addicts make sex a priority over family, friends, and work. Sex becomes the governing principle of an addict's life. They are willing to sacrifice what they cherish most in order to preserve and continue their unhealthy behavior.

No single behavior pattern defines sexual addiction. These behaviors can take control of addicts' lives and become unmanageable.  Common behaviors include, but are not limited to compulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual and homosexual relationships, pornography, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, indecent phone calls, and anonymous sexual encounters. Even the healthiest forms of human sexual expression can turn into self-defeating behaviors.”

What are my personal thoughts on the subject?

Sex addiction sucks.

No, no.  That’s not what she was asking.  The question was, what’s the difference between Devin having multiple affairs and say, my next-door neighbor, Larry, having multiple affairs.  Sorry, Larry.

In Larry’s case, he consciously chose to have those affairs.  He could have stopped himself but did it anyway.  Larry felt no compulsive needs driving him.  He only felt complete selfishness.

With Devin the uncontrollable dependency was there.  He was isolated inside his bubble.  The only way to break free of his bubble was to burst it, temporarily, by acting out.  When the pornography no longer satiated his hunger, he turned to online affairs.  After a few months, the rush of those wore off too.  After two intimate affairs, he realized he had a problem he could no longer handle alone but was powerless to stop.  He was still compulsively masturbating and viewing porn.

The difference, at least to me, is choice.  Larry chose to cheat.  Devin’s addiction caused him to cheat.  This is also how I’ve been able to move past the affairs.  I know they were never personal.

For some great resources, be sure and visit Dr. Carnes’ website.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Patience



I think in the age of technology many of us have become impatient.  We’ve forgotten what it’s like to wait for things, no matter how minute.  Think of the last time you went to watch a video online and it took more than ten seconds to load.  I bet you checked to see if you lost your connection.  Maybe you even gave up on the video and moved onto something else entirely.  What about your last drive-thru experience?  Did it take too long to get your food, your money, or your prescription?  Just think, we used to have to get out of our car and walk into the establishment for these services.  The horror!

We’ve become a society of Veruca Salts.  We want it now!


I was one of those people.  Who am I kidding?  I can still be one of those impatient people.  Especially when it comes to something like Devin’s recovery. I sometimes think it will happen overnight.  I fail to remember that each individual moves at different speeds. 

I love to dive in and self-examine and explore.  I’ve recognized I have more work to do so I’m doing another 12-step workbook to challenge myself.  For Devin, it’s not as easy for him to face his flaws.  I can’t expect him to be as gung-ho as I am.  Instead, I can be excited at how far in his program he’s come. 

It wasn’t always this way.  I used to drive myself crazy wondering about the progress of Devin’s recovery.  I thought it only fair because as a couple we’re in this together.  It made sense I be involved in his recovery.  I became confused on what that meant.  I was told to stay away, and then I was told it was okay to ask questions.  What did that mean?

I got clarification from my rockin’ counselor.  She said my way was not the right way.  (I love this lady.  She doesn’t mince words.  My old counselor would have said something like, “not preferable”.)  I was being a dictator by telling him how to work his recovery i.e. attend SAA meetings once a week, see a counselor once a week, do your daily reading, etc. Instead, she said it was acceptable that he understands my expectations for a healthy recovery because it’s part of my boundary agreement.  She also suggested check-in conversations.  We began using FANOS once again.

Once she explained the difference between being a dictator and checking-in with Devin, things seemed to make more sense to me.  I was able to let go of his recovery and let him take charge.  It also gave me a greater sense of patience because I wasn’t so enmeshed in it.  I could step back from it with greater ease and see how much progress he’s made. 

By using FANOS we, even all this time later, connect on a deeper level than we ever had before.  It also provides me with a sense of security that he’s continuing to work on his program.  It provides patience. 
~~~@ ~~~@
I’ll be at the dealership to get my car worked on today. I know I said that the other day but I never made it because I had a migraine.  They are supposed to have wi-fi so I can check my blog.  If not, I apologize for being late getting to your blogs.