Thursday, December 15, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Or



May your holidays be filled with happiness, love, and light.

I will be spending mine surrounded by my family.

I won't be back to Blogger until mid January (no IWSG).

Til then my friends

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's The Holiday Season! - An IWSG Post


 
Merry almost Christmas and Happy almost Hanukkah! The holidays are officially here and I’ve got the holiday spirit flowing through me. My entire family will be here this year and I’m stoked! While I’m not thrilled our heat is now running all the time because it’s cold out all the time (how long until it’s summer again?), I love having the Christmas tree up and hearing the classic Christmas songs playing in the stores now that Thanksgiving has past. I didn’t dig it when it wasn’t even Halloween yet. C’mon retailers, let me enjoy one holiday at time, will ya?

I’m still in a good place in my writing. I’m not cranking out 1,000 words a day or anything but that’s okay for me. I write at a snail’s pace. That’s who I am. But I still write. I’ve been focusing more on my self-help book than my fictional book, and it’s going well.

I had a concern that I wasn’t going to have enough content to fill an entire book, but the more I write, the more ideas come to mind.  Who knows, maybe I’ll have it done before the year 2017 is over…but I doubt it.

The question for the month: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself in five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I don’t see writing as a career. For me, it’s two things: a way to help others who have been affected by sex addiction and the trauma it causes and it’s a blast. The writing, not the sex addiction. 😇  I love to create characters and tell their tales. Whether or not any of those books make a ton of money doesn’t matter to me right now. Maybe one day that will be important and maybe that means I’m not a “serious” writer, but that’s where I am right now. Ask this question a year from now and I may have a different answer.

Are you filled with the holiday spirit? Are you in a good place with your writing or a project you’re working on?

Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
  
Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts:
Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Gift of a New Perspective


 

I hope all of you that celebrated Thanksgiving, had a wonderful day. We did. It was full of lots of laughter and way too much food. Best of all, I heard from a family member and friend that I hadn’t heard from in a long time, that I thought were lost to me, and I’m very thankful for that.

Last week I found that I did a lot of service work. Not unusual around this time of year. The holidays can be difficult for many people. The common theme was anger and questions of why. Why did the addict betray me by looking at pictures of other women or having online affairs or worse?

I remember the anger, the rage, I felt. I also remember the relentless questions that circled around my brain. The insecurities that they brought to the surface of my brain. They seemed endless. They also seemed unanswerable.

Then a few days after disclosure we were going over a spreadsheet I’d dubbed “The List,” I had an epiphany. As I was entering each person’s name, what happened between them and Devin, and other information I thought I needed to know (trust me, I didn't); Devin said he couldn’t remember a woman even though they’d exchanged emails back and forth for months. Lengthy, detailed, emails that I had imprinted in my brain. It wasn’t until I read her screen name to him that he recalled who she was.

That was a profound moment for me. I finally understood what he’d been trying to explain in the preceding days: he had no emotional connection to these women. No attachment to them whatsoever. She was simply an address to him. Nothing more. An email for his mailbox. It was more about filling an emotional void within him, an emptiness, than it was anything else. It really did have nothing to do with me.

There was nothing I could’ve done to change the outcome. And I had tried just about everything from trying to control him to changing my personality to something I thought would catch his attention...and it never would. And there is nothing that I can do now to change what he does. He is his own person responsible for his own actions.

While the words I had read in those emails crushed my heart and his actions felt like something I’d never heal from, that understanding provided me with a new way of looking at the whys.

It helped me begin to stop taking the addiction so personally. That didn’t mean the hurt went away overnight. It didn’t. Neither did the anger. It did, however give me the gift of a new perspective. And because I’m also a recovering addict, I was able to empathize with his addiction too. I understood the complexities of not being able to “just say no” or “if you loved me you’d stop” because those guilt tactics don’t work, not nearly as well as detaching with love.

The anger took longer for me to resolve. I was angry with a lot of things. It took help from my counselor to see that I was angry with myself and needed to forgive myself before I could even think about forgiving Devin so those feelings of resentment and anger would stop rearing their ugly heads. What I found after those feelings of anger went away was my self-esteem.

Than I found inner-peace and while I want nothing more than to tell people that these things happened quickly, for me they didn’t. For me it took a few years. I was bullheaded, stubborn, and refused to reach out for the help that was out there. My hope is that people I talk to or people who read my book, Steps Along My Shore, won’t make the same the mistakes I did.

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you hold on to anger or do let things slide off your back?


Friday, November 18, 2016

An Attitude of Gratitude



It’s been an emotional week in our home. One filled with many lows and many highs. It’s fitting that next week is Thanksgiving because I have many blessings to be thankful for this year, including the continued gift of my recovery because it allowed me to be by my child’s side while they navigate through their own tough journey. My heart swells with pride at the smart choices they are making to avoid going down the path that I did at their age. That kid is one smart cookie! So while I’d love for my child not to have to go through this problem at all, I’m grateful they have the knowledge and tools to handle it properly.

On that note, here’s my Gratitude List:

  • My Faith:      Without it, I would’ve gone batshit crazy by now. God knows how to keep me reminding me that, “Everything is going to be okay.”
  • My Children: They inspire me and encourage me to keep improving my life.
  • My Husband:  He also inspires me and continues to be my biggest cheerleader.
  • My Health:     While my migraines are still a weekly occurrence, things could be far worse.
  • My Recovery:  It changed my life. While I’m still the same ol’ me at heart, I’m no longer a broken mess. Everyone around me benefits from it.
  • My Job:          It’s nothing fancy or even pays well, but it gets me out of the house and they understand I have a disease. They truly get it. And that rocks.
  • Writing:          I love to do it. I’ll never be rich or famous. That’s not my goal. I do it to help people and I hope in some small way I do.
  • Volunteering:  It does my heart good to give back what was so freely given to me. It’s a good reminder of where I came from and where I can so easily return.
  • My Home:        Not just the house itself but all that we have. The ability to have a home, food on the table, and clothes on our back. We don’t live in luxury, but we live above the poverty line and I didn’t always have the ability to say that.
  • The Beach:      Does this really need an explanation? It’s the sun and sand!

What are you grateful for? Are you celebrating Thanksgiving?
 
(Scheduling Note: I won't be posting next week because I'll be stuffing my face full of food.)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Black Friday…Blackest Friday



 

I was headed to my weekly group meeting last week when it occurred to me that I’ve got a big milestone this year. I’ve been chemically sober twenty-five years. I feel it’s important to put “chemically” in there because I didn’t become emotionally sober until a couple of years ago. Thank God for S-Anon. But this post isn’t about what led me into the rooms of S-Anon or my husband’s sex addiction. It’s about my own drug addiction. So buckle in boys and girls. This post is about to get heavy and very real. Not to mention uber long.

Where I grew up drugs were readily available. Not just in the seedy parts of New York City but also in the back alleys of strip malls in nice neighborhoods. They took less time and effort to get in the 1980’s than an order of Chinese take-out.

I started smoking weed at a young age. It began as something to do on the weekends than progressed to daily use.  By the time I was in high school, the weekends were reserved for harder drugs: acid, mescaline, and mushrooms. And of course drinking.

When I was a senior, I announced to my friends that I was no longer going to smoke pot. I was turning over a new leaf…sort of speak. I decided it was making me too tired and lazy.

There was just one problem though: I was still being verbally abused at home and my mom had added in a touch of physical abuse to the mix. Drugs were a great way to make me forget how much that sucked. Still, I decided no more weed. That led to me saying no more hardcore drugs either! Only drinking on the weekends for this chick. I was what we call in our recovery circles, rationalizing and “white-knuckling” it.

Then, as I was about to walk on stage to get my high school diploma, someone gave me line of cocaine to celebrate. I felt euphoric. My cares melted away. I grabbed my diploma, and snorted another line. Pure bliss.

That was thirty years ago but I still remember that feeling. The way I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a girl full of confidence instead of someone who heard hurtful words just a few hours earlier. Cocaine could make my problems go away. I just needed more of it.

And how lucky did I end up? Not only did I live with a drug dealer, I got my blow for free. On most days at least. All he needed me to do was cook, clean, run some (illegal) errands, and I was rewarded with pure white powder.

I thought my life was good. I attended college, I worked, I partied, I was surrounded by friends. What more did I need? So what; our groceries were usually shoplifted by one stranger or another. The dealer shot bullet holes through the wall to kill the cockroaches he saw on the bathroom wall. My “friends” were people who drifted in and out of the flophouse I called home. My job and school were at risk because I had a habit of not showing up. My family had become a distant memory.

Maybe I wasn’t so lucky after all.

Finally, after being raided, having a shotgun pointed at my head, and seeing my friend’s painful descent into heroin addiction, I left the flophouse. The addiction followed me. I white-knuckled it again. This time I was able to stay clean much longer. That happens when you have the added incentive of a pregnancy.

However, a few months after my child was born, I slipped. It’s an easy time to remember. It was Thanksgiving weekend. We cooked up a storm. We also snorted an excessive amount of blow. Dangerous levels. All while our children were in the other room with the rest of the family laughing and having fun.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how wired I was. I couldn’t sleep. My child lay on a blanket on the floor at my feet sleeping soundly, while I frantically scraped the last of the cocaine from a scrap of paper and tried to make just one more line. When the baby woke up a little while later, I was still pinging off the walls and realized I was too afraid to pick up my own child. I was too afraid to make a bottle or change a diaper. I knew I had reached my lowest point, I had bottomed out. My child deserved better than what I was able to provide.

Somehow, I made it through. Withdrawals sucked. Again. But I felt like I deserved to feel that shitty. It was the least I could do after putting my child in harm’s way. Although that was twenty-five years ago, I can still see that baby in my mind’s-eye right now and I believe that’s what keeps me sober today. That was how I spent Black Friday twenty-five years ago. Going through withdrawals but it's a cause for celebration in my book.

Happy (almost) Sobriety Birthday to me!
 


On a lighter note: Do you have plans for Black Friday?  As for me, I’ll be staying home…and staying sober.


 
Thank you to all that served and to those that continue to serve. May God keep His watchful eye over you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I Love Being A Pantser! - An IWSG Post


 
Happy Belated Halloween! I hope you had fun. I did. I love passing out candy to the kids. Especially now that my own kids are too big to go trick-or-treating. I’ll have to wait for grandkids before I can enjoy that again. Although, now that I think about it, there was a lot of whining towards the end of the night. Oh wait, that was me wanting their candy...never mind.



I’m in a good place in my writing so I’ll just answer the question of the month:



What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?



I’m a pantser so my favorite part is the beginning stages of writing when my characters are just beginning to take shape. I love to hear their voices chime in my head as I write. I can picture them as their character develops and the plot starts to unfold. One moment they aren’t an important piece to the puzzle, the next they’re a star player. For me, that’s the best part of the journey.



I’m finally learning to do a rough plot line as I go along. Nothing too strict, I like the freedom to just go with it, but I’ve learned the hard way that a basic plot is a pretty good idea to have.



Are you a pantser too? How was your Halloween?



Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

 
This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts: Joylene Novell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What Do You See?




Recently I traveled out of town to see my migraine specialist. I usually stay in the same style hotel room so I can have a microwave and a fridge. Yeah, I'm a cheap ass. I'd much rather bring my own drinks, and then heat up my leftovers from Bennigan's than pay for eating at a restaurant again. Like I said, cheap.

Anyway, each room has the same artwork and one in particular catches my eye: 




When I first saw the picture, I thought of Jesus. The picture comforted me. My next stay in the room, I must have been in a different head space because I didn't think of Jesus, I thought of Robin Williams. And it wasn't around his death. For some reason, the profile reminded me of him. 

I love how art can be interpreted by people in different ways,  or even the same person can view it in a new way depending on their mood.

What do you see?

As a cool side note, there is this stack of books left behind for people to read:


I love seeing the Big Book there and I read from it before I start writing. It's tempting to leave a copy of mine behind on my next trip. Would you leave yours?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Husband's Point of View


 
Over the years many of you have read that I feel it's important to have a boundary agreement when in a relationship with a sex addict but I’ve yet to share how Devin feels about it. So, today I’m going to share a post he wrote on Candeo for the addict’s and their partners. This is a bit longer than my usual posts, but I feel it’s well worth the read. With his permission, I'm sharing it here:

 

I am the SA of the couple and have been in recovery for 6 years now. I debated on which part of the forum to post this and thought maybe both sides could benefit from my experience so I decided here would be best.

As the SA and a man, the first boundary agreement was the hardest, for both of us. For my wife, trying to figure out what was realistic, acceptable and fair, and for me, because initially I felt emasculated; like a child where my mother was imposing all these strict rules.

It wasn't until I understood that my actions and behaviors showed that I did not have, or understood, boundaries, and that this document was to let me know what was and wasn't acceptable behavior. These were the things I needed to do to help my wife work through this traumatic experience and start to rebuild her trust and faith in me and our marriage.

Checking in was the hardest. I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted. To feel I had to check in hurt my ego. But part of my acting out comprised of doing whatever, whenever, and wherever I wanted. If I didn't check in to help put her mind at ease, the wounds could never start to heal. When I understood the trauma I caused, I also suggested an app, so I could also “show” here where I was. We use the Life360 app, and to make things easier, she also checked in, too. It became a mutual action.

I also had to learn there was no such thing as “just friends” at the workplace. In fact, after reading the book, “Not Just Friends”, I realized how wrong my thinking was. There was a section in the book that discussed “walls and windows”. In a normal relationship, my wife should have been inside the walls with me looking out the window at the world. Instead, she was outside looking in, where I was sharing intimate thoughts and feelings with female co-workers instead of her.

The boundary agreement laid out what was and wasn't acceptable in the work place. Keeping things professional was something I had to learn. Sharing what problems my wife and I were having with others was not acceptable and would have repercussions if I overstepped that boundary.

The first boundary agreement was rough. I knew no bounds and she needed some kind of reassurance to help start the healing process. Other boundaries included working on my recovery, checking in, especially if I was going to be late from work, or if I planned on stopping somewhere on the way home. Being honest, which was hard, but I am fortunate that she has made it easy to be honest by not over-reacting when I tell her I had a slip. If I wasn't honest, there were repercussions, which for me, was sleeping in the spare bedroom for a few nights.

I have heard of the SA's coming up with boundaries of their own. Folks, this isn't a tit-for-tat. Just because your spouse comes up with a boundary agreement doesn't mean you have to as well to get back at her. Remember, you were the one who didn't have any boundaries. Your spouse thought life was going along just fine and you were everything they dreamed of, until they learned of your “secret” life…then everything came crumbling down. This is for your spouse's reassurance that somewhere, deep inside, is the person they knew they married. Let them have this without the retort.

“So what, as SA's we don't get to have any boundaries?” Yes, we do, because for whatever reason, something most likely happened in the past that lead us to have some kind of trust issue. This kept us in that secret life and we also need a place to feel safe.

As a couple, there should be reasonable boundaries to encourage us to be honest when we slip. There should also be limitations on language so it's a safe environment for everyone.

My wife and I set aside a time in the evening to share about our day. We share, one on one, our feelings, needs, and progress or slips in our recovery. This is the safe zone where we can be open and honest (an even show our vulnerable side) with each other.

I hope this helps couples who are struggling with boundaries. I apologize if I rambled as it is easier to talk about than write it out.

I love my wife and realized how special she is for staying with me after the pain I caused her and I want every couple to have that same chance.


In response to a question my husband wrote:


In my time in recovery I have learned that this is the most difficult, yet most important piece of the puzzle for a couple's relationship to survive. 

Before recovery, I was that wild stallion who lived for the moment roaming the plains, untamed.  I think it's safe to say that most, if not all, SAs are the same.  The boundary agreement is the corral, and if you have any experience with horses, you know how that goes.

The SA needs to understand that the boundary agreement is like an amendment to their wedding vows, because, well, as an SA, we didn't fully understand nor follow those vows.  This boundary agreement isn't made to tie us down nor emasculate us, but to explain to us what is and isn't acceptable, and just because the spouse comes up with the agreement, doesn't mean the SA has to as well.  If the spouse wishes to check your cell phone at any given moment, it doesn't mean you have to have the right to do the same out of spite.  Remember, if your marriage is important, you will do WHATEVER you can to ease their fears and concerns.

To the hurt spouse, the reality of us coming to the realization that we have an addiction can be somewhat traumatic all in itself.  I'm not trying to excuse my actions, not at all, but learning that I have an addiction, was like learning I had some other incurable disease...and yes, it is incurable.  There is no magic pill to make this disappear.  There is no training to make it go away.  There is only recovery programs like Candeo and 12 Steps to help us understand, adapt, and live with this condition.  Also know this, recovery isn't just for the SA.  As the hurt spouse, you have suffered a traumatic experience as well and need to work on your own recovery.  In my groups, I have seen firsthand relationships suffer because only one is working on recovery.  It's a 3-part process; your recovery, the SA's recovery, and the couple's recovery. 

When you, the hurt spouse, creates and presents the boundary agreement, presentation is key to acceptance.  First your SA spouse needs to understand why you're presenting the BA.  With us, it's because my wife loved me, wanted our marriage to work, and knew that somewhere, deep down, was the man she married.  That I broke boundaries and went outside my marriage and needed to understand what was and wasn't acceptable behavior.  As hurt as you've been, please try to be gentle and nurturing.  I know it's asking a lot after what you've been through.  

 
I had to learn how to present my boundary agreement properly. At first I was a hellion. Now, it's a team effort, a calm and more relaxed conversation than it was six years ago. What about you? Do you have problems communicating difficult topics? 

 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I'm A Happy Turtle - An IWSG Post


 
Happy Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day! It’s October already. I guess that means I have to admit that my favorite season is finally over. Fine. You guys can have your pumpkin flavors. I’ll still hang on to the hope that Mother Nature will deliver me a beach day when I’m not working and don’t have migraine. A girl can dream, right?



I’m in a good place with my writing. It’s amazing what a few weeks can do. This month I’ve got a set of characters in my head that are screaming to come out and play. This is the fun part of writing. The pantsing part that I love. Just type some stuff out and see what happens.



Plan it? Outline it? Who me? Nah. I’ll pay for that lack of preparation later I’m sure. But right now, well right now this is way more fun. I’m in no hurry. I write because I love to do it not because I have to do it.



My second self-help book is also coming along. At a turtle’s pace. It’s making me do a lot of reflecting on the past and that can be somewhat emotionally draining but that’s also why I write a fictional book at the same time. It helps provide a much needed distraction from the real life stuff.



So, yeah, this month I’m a happy turtle. Even if it’s gonna be cold soon. Stupid fall. Stupid winter. Where's summer?



The question of the month: When do you know your story is ready?



I don’t. Even though I had encouragement from my rockin' CP, I still couldn't do it. It took my husband telling me that I was procrastinating out of fear for me to finally hit the publish button. Thanks babe!



How’s your writing coming along? Are you a pantser too? Are you looking forward to the colder months or are you just as unhappy as me?

Scheduling note: I’m working today. I’ll be by to visit everyone later this afternoon. 

 




This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts:


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Feeling Trapped


Recently we had a storm move through our area that caused some major local flooding. Some neighborhoods got hit worse than others. Thankfully, the damage for most folks was minor but still, it was inconvenient. For the first time since I’ve lived here, schools were closed because of rain. Many roads were too flooded to drive through.

Although I had been given the day off from work because of the flooding and had no place else to go, I still felt trapped inside my house. Not because there weren’t dozens of other things to: spending time with the family (check); writing (check); cleaning (check); watching television (check). I still had a sense of feeling trapped.

The choice of leaving my neighborhood had been taken from me.

I recalled feeling that way once before but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Just a small twinge in the recess of my brain trying to resurface. Some dark memory trying to claw it’s way to the surface.

As the day wore on it finally came to me. I used to feel this way when my husband was at the height of his addiction but wasn’t ready to acknowledge it yet…and neither was I. I had felt trapped in my marriage. I felt anxious a lot of the time. Like I should be doing something but I didn't know what. It left me feeling antsy.

I loved him. I hated what he was doing.

During that time I liked to tap into my senses:

I would go outside and walk, smell the air, feel the cold air on my face, see the brightly colored leaves, listen to the birds sing their songs. Listen to music, dance, light my favorite candle and breathe in it's smell. Take a warm bath. Or, as you guys know, write, write, and write some more.

And just like the waters finally subsided from the streets as the storm past, the porn subsided from our marriage as his recovery grew. The sun shined bright in our lives.


Have you ever felt trapped?