Monday, May 13, 2013

You Can't Control It!


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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. 
KERPLUNK!
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."

58 comments:

  1. Now I have absolutely no experience with sex addiction so I'm coming at this from the perspective of just a woman who knows men.

    I think it was pretty hard for him to tell you about this as when boys are growing up, some parents attach shame to MB. And it's not shameful it's normal. Men don't need to have looked at porn to MB. It's something they just do at least once a day and sometimes more than that. If the Hubby couldn't do this, he would become meaner than a snake.

    I think to truly understand how you view it, one would have to walk in your shoes. Those of us who have not dealt with this addiction will have trouble with this one and I think we have to be careful in how we comment today and not give you a hard time with this issue.

    And given the circumstances surround Disclosure Day, you did a marvelous job of handling your reaction when he came to you.

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    1. I'm with Anne, both as a man and as a psychologist. MB is a part of every man's life as something deeply natural and should never be forbidden or used as a punishment or presented as something shameful. But I do understand your own point too, but the male and female bodies work differently when it comes to sexuality.

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    2. If I could hug you right now, I would Anne. If Devin were a "normal" everyday guy, this would be a non issue just like with any other guy I'd been with. We'd laugh it off. Unfortunately, this is not healthy behavior for him because it can lead to dangerous behavior. It's just like me doing one line of cocaine. It's not "okay". That one line of coke can lead to a gram and a full blown free fall in a matter of weeks. The same thing can happen with Devin. His MB can escalate and become out of control. While your hubby becomes mean when he can't, Devin becomes mean when he does.

      As for how I handled it - I think I did well, except for thinking I wouldn't have any type of emotional response afterwards. I really thought after he told me, I'd walk away fine. I didn't. I was a mess. I had to dive into recovery work to get my head back on straight.

      Thank you so much for "getting" this. xoxo

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    3. We do have to put into the perspective of an addict and see it that way. If a person is an alcoholic, that one drink can lead to a bender.

      I'm not really surprised that you had a delayed emotional response to this. The important thing is that you got through it rather quickly. A year ago and you wouldn't have been able to do that.

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    4. Exactly, Anne. You understand this perfectly!

      I was pretty surprised *eyeroll* I thought I had this crap nailed. Duh. But, yes, you're right, the important thing is that I got through it quickly and I did it properly. A year ago I would have been searching through his stuff to see WTF was going on.

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  2. Powerful stuff all round. 1) he admitted it - how cool is that! 2) you dealt with it well including the negative projection that came in

    as I say powerful stuff

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    1. So awesome, Futheron! To have him be able to admit his slip to me was fantastic. He felt a load being lifted off his shoulders. We are learning together, I think. Thank you.

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  3. oh, then I must be going somewhere real fine since my roads are always bricked with obstacles :)

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    1. I hate to hear that, Dezzy. You should have a road that is clear and free!!

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    1. Thank you, Fran! I appreciate that. I need to hear it right now too.

      (doubts still swirling around the ol' noggin)

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  5. My road doesn't have a damn brick, it has a damn wall lol if you find a bazooka pass it along haha

    He didn't like which is surely a step in the right direction and at least you know you aren't completely off your rocker haha at least as far as that goes. And yeah as Anne said it is surely different with addiction but my left hand would feel neglected if it didn't get to play every other day lol my right is still crap, poor guy hahaha

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    1. Oh, Lord! Pat, you just made me laugh! Your poor right hand, all injured and jealous over the left hand. You're right, he didn't lie - at least not *this* time. He did last time. But, I have to remember, it's progress not perfection that he's (we) are striving for. I also need to remember that with high expectations come room for future resentments.

      It is definitely different with addiction, that's for sure! The good thing for me to keep in mind is he set his own boundaries. That helps make me feel safe. Much better than me having to do it.

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    2. Yeah poor righty just has to watch lol

      When one does it themselves it makes it easier on you for sure, and as the lying goes away, gets closer to the light of day.

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  6. Great job the way you handled it!!!! I am sure he appreciated the fact that you didn't blow a head gasket at him. You didn't say that you asked him what his slip was....do you usually? Or did you know it was MB?

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    1. Thanks, JoJo. He said I made it easier and had he known I wasn't going to yell or cry he may have told me several weeks ago. Although, with all that was going on with the Florida Room he wasn't sure how I'd react. For the benefit of brevity, I didn't type out the entire conversation - He said he almost slipped while shaving himself in the shower. I asked him if he knew why. He said he was anticipating "us" later that morning and entered into a fantasy but stopped himself. I thanked him for telling me and that was pretty much it. Until the next talk. That's when the rest came out and he set up his own boundaries.

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  7. You handled this really well. And I understand what Anne means with the whole MB thing, but I also know that when someone has an addiction, you can't just let them try to have a 'normal, healthy' dose of it. Because that doesn't exist for an addict.

    Like with alcohol. I have a friend who's a recovering alcoholic, and when we hang out, we'll drink water or I'll make iced tea. He can't just have a single beer like I do. Even if I were to give him only one, it would get him going and he'd probably drive straight to the bar afterwards to close it down. It's a completely different ball game when you're an addict.

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    1. Thanks, Bryan. They have different views on this in the sex addiction world. Some SAs will put MB in their inner circle because it was a compulsive problem for them. Others don't have to worry about it so much but may have to put something like R rated movies in their inner circle. Devin can watch R rated movies and not get triggered but MB can become compulsive. It's odd how our minds can work.

      I have a family member who is a recovering alcoholic. We won't drink in front of him either. His sobriety date is two years but it's just something we don't like to do. We don't even have our wine rack out when he's over.

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  8. Wow, such amazing dynamics to this. I'm always so awed at the honesty of your posts. I'm proud of both of you, too, for the work you've put in to recovery. :)

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    1. As always, thank you, L.G. It can be difficult to lay it out here for the world to see but I really want people to be aware of this addiction. It's such an emotional struggle for the addict and their families but we can learn and grow too. Even through the heartache there is growth. Hope that makes sense =)

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  9. Granting awareness and being downright awesome is my job, no need to worry about that. It's a shame to hear that he slipped but it's also great that he stopped himself and that he was honest in the end. You handled it really maturely and were able to see it from your perspective, from his, and even from a totally outside perspective of it being something you can't control. It is something you can't control and it's something he can barely control. Your adoring crowds will always be there as long as you listen hard enough.

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    1. Isn't that the best quote? I came across some rocking quotes I'll be using from time to time when I talk about addiction on here. I love that one. I leave that job up to you. I suck at trying to grant awareness. I tried and tried and failed miserably! ha ha

      It sucks hard he had a slip. Mostly because of the lying aspect but also because of the emotional roller coaster we both ride afterwards. He is struggling hard now to come out of his funk. I struggle to not go into panic mode, especially since I'm headed out of town for a few days. Gah!

      Wait, what's that? Oh, it's the cheering crowds! he he he Thanks, Mark. I appreciate your support!!

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  10. Well handled Elsie, what I'm pleased about is that he didn't just tell you what happened but he also didn't slip which is a good sign that things are moving in a positive direction, great post Elsie.

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    1. He keeps moving forward and that is a wonderful thing for sure, Matthew. I am grateful he set his own boundaries and realized he needed them. That was reassuring to hear from him. Thank you!

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  11. You handled this quite well Elsie! You should have those marching bands and fireworks going off in your mind! lol

    When you first mentioned that masturbating is forbidden in a previous post I kinda had a problem with that since I am a man and know all too well how important it is for us men. But now, after learning more about Devin's situation and realizing that it is an addiction I'm beginning to understand. I know how addiction works and it can't be controlled. There is no "just a little", it's either not at all or let the addiction consume you.

    I still sympathize with Devin, though. It's gotta be hard not to rub one out to start the day. Something most men do. Or if there is a lack of intimacy in the bedroom a quick solo session can ease the frustration...and blue balls!

    Either way, it's gotta be tough for the both of you. Where do you draw the line when it comes to a "safe" amount of sex that won't trigger relapse? It's a tough addiction to understand, that's for sure! It can't always be compared to other addictions. I feel for you both!

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    1. You asked a great question, Dan! One I think I may attempt to answer better in a post. I'm not a doctor though so maybe I shouldn't try to answer it all official like. But, the question about where to draw the line in the bedroom is a very valid question and one I had when we found out about the addiction. I was so afraid he'd have sex with me and then want more and more and more!! I learned it wasn't the sex, it was the intimacy. That's what makes things so damn complicated. You can crawl inside your brain and make up the best lover in the land but you're not intimate with her/him on an emotional level. That's what they are lacking. The emotional connection. They don't know how. So, when they MB it's not just starting their day, or getting rid of frustration like regular guys, it's fantasy and it's dopamine - a natural drug in the brain. I teach him to be intimate with me. Not just have sex with me, but really connect. Did that clarify it a bit?

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    2. Perhaps a little. It's gotta be hard to teach intimacy! That, to me, is something that just comes naturally. How do you teach something like that? There have been times when my wife (or myself) have cried during sex because we weren't just having sex, we were making love. I hope you and Devin can or do have that same connection!

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  12. for those of you that REALLY believe that men must masturbate please read the following article.

    http://rowboatandmarbles.org/mormons-alternative-to-sexual-repression.html

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    1. Hi d! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing =)

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  13. Well done to Devin for admitting that he had a slip. It's obvious that he loves you and that love, that thought that 'she may leave me', might not make him fess up right away but at least he will eventually.
    I'm of the same opinion as everyone else, that you handled it and your own issues brilliant. :)

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    1. I'm happy he told me, as painful as it was to hear, I'm glad I know the truth. I have no doubt he loves me and he wants to be sober. He is still on his journey to finding the tools that work for him and that's okay, as long as he keeps searching, I'll stand beside him. Thank you, lily - you rock!

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  14. I think both of your reactions show how far you've both come. It would probably be naive to think there would never be any slip ups, or almost slip ups, but how each of you react to it makes all the difference.

    Well done!

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    1. Sorry for the late response - I was out of town.

      It's true, I think I would have been in denial if I thought there would never be any slips with this difficult addiction. A year ago, neither of us would have handled it the way were able to this time around. Thank you, Kianwi!

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  15. I think you handled it as well as anyone possibly could my friend.

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    1. Hi OE! Sorry for the late response - I was out of town.

      Thank you for understanding. It's such a strange thing to explain sometimes.

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  16. I may be a bit out of the loop on this one. I tried to catch up as best I could, but from what I can decipher, it's great that you can handle everything he reveals to you in a mature and calm manner. Knowing he can tell you anything without feeling the stress of added guilt is important, as you well know. The only addiction I've had experience with is smoking, though that was a way easier addiction to get over than what Devin's going through. So, though I may not be an expert in sexual addiction, I can see that he's taking this very seriously and is progressing wonderfully.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Chiz. Sorry for the late response - I was out of town.

      I appreciate you trying to understand the addiction. It's difficult to wrap my head around at times and I live with it. He said it made a huge difference to him that I didn't freak out and yell or even break down and cry when he told me about the slip. It made it easier for him to tell me the truth. I understand what you mean about smoking! That was a hard addiction to quit. I did that one cold turkey and it was rough!! I'm glad you beat it. Thank you again.

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  17. It's super impressive he was able to tell you. I also think it's pretty impressive he still told you about the previous slip, and even explained the concerns to why he didn't. I don't know how difficult it would be to take the fact that he lied, but as long as you're both on common ground and you can understand him, that's great.

    Happy for you both!

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    1. Hey, D4! Sorry for the late response. I was out of town.

      I think it's good he told me about the older slip too. He could have kept that secret to himself but chose to be honest. That's so important for his recovery and for mine. What a relief to know I can trust my instincts. Thank you!

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  18. Oh dear Elsie I think is really difficult to you, to both but especially to you.
    I think you handled so well and Im impressive. Anyway is nice he talks with you, send you love and hugs!xo

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    1. Gloria, my friend! I hope your mom is doing well. I appreciate your support, as always. I am so sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. I was out of town. Much love and hugs xoxo

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  19. Well, I can't imagine dealing with this problem. My aunt is an alcoholic, a drug addict, a sex addict, an adrenaline junkie, bipolar, and has borderline personality disorder. But I'm not married to her, so while living with her for a while was INSANE, I didn't have to deal with her problems in the same way you're having to deal with your husband's.

    And I know that is the true difficulty here. You're worried about how his behavior will effect you and your family. So, while masturbation is perfectly normal and healthy, your reaction to a threat to your family's coherency and safety is just as normal. You seem to feel that having known the psychology of the situation your husband is in will somehow drop that automatic defense, but I doubt any of us will ever be that enlightened. Any threat is going to throw you into survival mode. And survival mode analyzes ALL behavior and actions for potential threats.

    Survival mode is there to protect you. But if you allow it, it can also destroy you. You didn't let it. And I think you handled the whole thing very well, and I don't think you should ever expect your brain to react to a threat to your family with simple understanding and kindness. Would you react with understanding and kindness if a paranoid schizophrenic who was put on the wrong meds threatened to kill your husband? Of course not; he's threatening your family. Maybe after the danger had past, you could handle such emotions, but the immediate concern would be analyzing and defending your family.

    Which is exactly what you did when your husband's addiction resurfaced to threaten your family.

    Thanks for sharing your problems and emotions with us. That takes amazing bravery. And I'm sure it will help many others out there who suffer from similar problems. Good luck!

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    1. Hi Kyla welcome to my blog. Thank you for visiting. Sorry for the late response - I was out of town.

      I'm so sorry to hear about your aunt. That has to be rough on your family. My heart goes out to all of you. I imagine that was rough while she was living with you guys. Especially with so many issues going on with her. I hope she is doing well now.

      It's true. My survival mode kicked in for sure right after he told me. I wanted to fight for my kids and needed to reassurance that things were going to be "normal" and not be crazy like they were when he was acting out a few years ago. My mind went right back to those years before when my life fell apart. It took diving into my recovery work to set my mind straight again and reassure myself that things were going to fine either way. Great points you made, Kyla. Spot on!

      Thank you!

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  20. It was a slip and yes it took him a while to tell you about the first one but I can see where he was coming from about not thinking you were in the right frame of mind to hear about it........so waiting may have been the right thing to do........at least he the next time he was quick to tell you

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    1. Hey, Jo-Anne. Sorry for the late response, I was out of town. I can understand him being hesitant to tell me too. The time was not ideal and not knowing how I would react scared him. This time was better for us both.

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  21. Man oh man, doesn't it suck how your mind turns into such a bitch when you are alone and there isn't much going on? I can think up a million and one scenarios, at least, of potential things that could happen. The important thing to remember here...which you do...is that he did tell you. And he does love you. And you rock.

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    1. What's up, Mel?! Sorry for the late response - I was out of town. My mind tends to wander at night. It's by far the worst time of the day for me, the middle of the night. Yes, he did tell me and you're right, that really is the important part - almost as important as how much he loves me and how much I love him! =)

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  22. I don't have a road. Just a dot to stand on. Or so it often feels. What I've learned from all our blogging friends is everyone has problems. That's kind of soothing, don't you think, Elsie?

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    1. Blue! How are you? I'm sorry for the delayed response. I was out of town for a couple of days. Trust me Blue, you have a road. It's there, you just might not see it right now, but it's there waiting to be traveled. I agree, we all have our unique set of problems and it's good not to be alone.

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    2. Just got out of bed feeling sad. I had a dream in which I threw Angie out of our house. Can you believe that? Dear Lord, what does that say about me? Anyway, good to hear from you again Elsie. No need to apologize whatsoever. Could it be that sometimes there's a road waiting to be traveled and we see it very clear but we just want to stay put and ignore it's there? That's how I feel.

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    3. It sounds like it may be fear, Blue. Fear may be keeping you in place on that road. Or, maybe things are just so darn good in your life you don't need to make any changes! But, what do I know? I'm just a gal on a laptop. Now, stop dreaming about throwing Angie out of the house!! She's a wonderful wife.

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  23. I appreciate the personal and heartfelt disclosure, not an easy thing to do. We slip and keep on slipping. There are just some things we can't control, but we can take strength from other people and our faith in the Lord.

    Have a lovely spring day dear ~

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    1. The important thing is to learn from those slips and figure out why they happened. I find that if I put my faith in God and in my family and friends, things don't seem nearly as difficult as when I first encountered them.

      Have a beautiful weekend, Heaven!

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  24. Sorry you have to go through this muck and mud.

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    1. Thank you, Whisk! This is how I learn and grow =)

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  25. oy...well i am proud of the way you handled it...its def hard...and i appreciate you putting hte importance of his steps...but also the honesty it took from you to tell him you needed to know right away as well...

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    1. Thank you, Brian. Our step work played an important role in the situation. It helped me remain patient, calm and understanding. It helped him see the importance of remaining open and honest even though it's still difficult for him.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.