Monday, May 13, 2013

You Can't Control It!


I have to admit, I find it rather amusing my last post ended with this saying, If the path you're on has no obstacles, then it probably doesn't lead anywhere.”  It’s funny because three days after that post, an obstacle landed in my path. 
Friday morning Devin sat down next to me and held my hand.  He looked into my eyes with sorrow and said, “I’m so sorry.”
I was working on an Excel spreadsheet and I thought he was apologizing for interrupting me. I looked at him more carefully, and realized he was on the verge of tears.  I grew concerned and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I had a slip.”  He said.  “Well, I almost slipped then I stopped myself.”
“Thank you for telling me.  I appreciate you being so honest.  I’m sure that was really difficult.”  I said.  I could hear a marching band in my head celebrating how maturely I was handling the situation. Wasn’t I just awesome? Masturbation is in his inner circle and I didn't freak.  Go Elsie!
“Thank you for making it so easy.  I love you.”  He said.
We hugged and kissed.
Yet, I wasn’t feeling all that awesome.  I wanted to search his computer and check for porn.  I wanted to look at the phone bill and see if there was an increase in the data useage.  Instead, I went to a meeting.  Again, I patted myself on my back for my greatness.  Aren’t I so grand?
On the drive home I realized something I had forgotten.  About six weeks ago I asked him if he slipped and he responded with a resounding, “No.”  I explained to him the reasons why I questioned him.  He had been distant, objectifying women, objectifying me and our love life had become almost nil.  He blamed it on the stress of school and my migraines. 
I realized, I needed to ask him if slipped before that morning and not told me.  I also knew I needed to do this carefully.  I didn’t know how I could make things right but I sure knew I make this a mess. 
As it turns out, he did slip once before.  I was right about my instincts when I asked six weeks earlier.  He was afraid to tell me because I had been frustrated with him about not completing the chores he promised.  He didn’t want to add fuel to the fire.  He was frightened I would divorce him.
I was calm when he told me about the previous slip.  I told him I was proud of him for being honest but let him know I needed him to be truthful immediately.  Especially since I was asking about a slip.  It would ease my fears of feeling “crazy” for no reason.  It would reassure me that my instincts are correct.  He decided he would like to have the parental code on the television changed.  This will eliminate any temptation he may feel.  Then he let his sponsor and his meeting members know what happened. 
I chose not to withhold affection from him because he’s at a crucial point in his fourth step, leading into his fifth step.  It’s mentally draining and it wouldn’t be fair to him.  Once again, I mentally heard the crowd roar with their approvals of how I handled the situation.  My ego was being inflated at every turn.
Then night fell.  I was alone in the neighborhood of my mind.  I was in dangerous territory.  I was behind enemy lines.  Where were my adoring crowds? Where were my cheers?  Everyone took the bleachers and left the streets littered with MY garbage.  I picked through the trash and found my thoughts, “Maybe he’s been looking at porn on his phone, Elsie.” and, “I’ll bet he’s had more than one slip.  This is how disclosure started!”  Before long my mind was stuck in its circular thoughts of negativity.  My ego was quickly deflated.  I felt alone and isolated.  Then, at the end of block there was a table.  My hopes rose.  I realized I wasn't alone.  Around the table were my friends from S-Anon to turn to in my time of need.  I had God.  I had a great recovery that taught me this little gem: 
You didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it and you can’t control it.
I’ve been saying that to myself all day!  I am humbled and I’m okay.
~~~@ ~~~@ 
Programming note:  I’ll be MIA most of the week.  Be well everyone!
~~~@  ~~~@
"It's not my job to grant awareness."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boundary Agreement Discussed

“If my man cheated on me, I’d kick him to the curb!”

“Did you hear she has some kind of signed document he has to follow?  I’d never stay married to a man if he had to sign a set of rules.”

“She’s a control freak, that’s all it boils down too.  That must mean she doesn’t trust him so why is she still married to him?”

“If he wants to look at porn or cheat on her, having him sign some stupid boundary agreement isn’t going to stop him.  She’s so na├»ve.”

“They deserve each other.”

Can you guess which of the following above statements I agree with?  If you said, “They deserve each other.” Then give yourself a gold star.  We do deserve each other.  I’ve never fought harder for someone I loved in my life.  Wanna know why?  I’m worth it and so is Devin.  We make a kick ass couple. 

Wanna know something else?  My boundary agreement is rarely thought of during the course of our marriage.  It’s like having car insurance only better. Auto insurance you think about every month when you pay the bill. I only use the BA when needed.  Thankfully, that’s extremely rare these days. 

The only other time I ponder over it is around the date of disclosure. That's usually when I think it's time to make adjustments.  Like Devin and I, it changes with time.  The original boundary agreement I shared on here gets tweaked a bit but mostly remains unchanged. My common sense, (courtesy agreement) has changed quite a bit because I've built up so much trust in Devin.

People who throw such bold statements around against boundary agreements should do so with caution.  I say this because I was once one of them.  I swore I’d never stay with a man who cheated on me.  Now I’m with a man who violated our vows dozens of times.  We truly never know until we are placed in a situation how we will react.

I’ve also reached the understanding Devin has a disease.  His addiction. Just like I have an addiction.  It’s a unique perspective I’m blessed to bring to the table.  An understanding of what it’s like to be out of control and not knowing how to manage one’s life.  I am no better than Devin because I've been sober longer.  I’m in a place of healing, recovery and sobriety, just like him.

With my healing came necessary boundaries.  Those boundaries are for me.  They help me keep feeling safe and secure.  I was damaged by what Devin put me through. I don’t want to go through it again.  I needed something besides my words to show Devin clearly and succinctly what I was able to tolerate in our marriage.  I needed him to understand what would happen if my boundaries were violated. 

I made the choice to stay with a recovering addict. That choice came with risks and I needed something to minimize those risks to my children and me.  There was a time I wasn’t strong enough to stand alone.  The boundary agreement helped empower me.  It gave me something concrete to say, “You promised not to look at porn. You violated my boundary.  I have to enforce the consequence.”  I could point at it and gain the strength I lacked because my insides were crumbling from disappointment and fear.

Will I ever tear it in to tiny shreds and burn it?  I can’t say.  My answer for today is “no” because I’m still married to a sex addict.  I can only say, I feel anyone married to a sex addict must have a strong set of boundaries.  They don’t have to be written like mine are but they must be enforced.  Otherwise, the same crap is going to keep on happening.

For us, the boundary agreement works.  Is it fun?  Hell no.  We both hate it when it comes time to enforce something.  I feel like I’m punishing a five-year old and he’s left feeling like one.  The point is, Devin understands my boundaries have been broken. 

The agreement doesn’t consume me.  It’s not framed and hanging on the wall or shoved down Devin’s throat after every fight.  We’d never progress as a happy, almost normal couple that way. 

Believe it or not, sex addiction isn’t a huge topic of conversation in our home anymore.  We talk about it after our meetings or counseling appointments and during our FANOS conversations but then talk about regular married stuff.  We’re fairly normal now.  Almost.

It’s been over two years since my disclosure and life is good.  I happen to have a boundary agreement in my filing cabinet.  Just in case.

~~~@   ~~~@

If the path you're on has no obstacles, then it probably doesn't lead anywhere
~ anonymous