Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'm Not His Mommy


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My rockin’ counselor smiled as I walked into her office.  “How are you, Elsie?  It’s been so long since I’ve seen you alone,” she said.

“I’m doing pretty good.  I’ve got a lot to discuss with you.  I haven’t seen you one-on-one since you got sick.  I guess it’s been three months,” I answered.

My rockin’ counselor had fallen sick in the middle of summer and cancelled all of her appointments. Once she recovered from her illness she chose to only see certain clients.  She began with her sex addicts recovery group that Devin was a part of, then expanded to sex addict’s couple therapy.  She was now ready for individual sessions with spouses of sex addicts.  That’d be me!

“The last time you and Devin were in,” she checked her notes, “you were having some communication issues.  How’s that going?” she asked.

“Much better, I think.  He’s initiating FANOS instead of waiting for me.  He’s also sharing more about group and meetings.”

“Has there been ownership?”

“Yes. Devin was anxious to share too.  For the first time in FANOS he shared about a trigger and how he FRC’d it,” I said.  (note: the link to this is a great explanation of the program)

“FRC?” my rockin’ counselor asked.

“Face it, replace it, connect.  It’s something he learned while we were were still in Candeo online,” I explained.  “I feel pretty good about our reactions.  I didn’t get anxious from his trigger. I’m proud of him for being comfortable enough to tell me and I let him know.  But there's more.”

I sat back and explained to my rockin counselor Devin’s recent escalation in eBay purchases.  Then, I switched over to his increased need of advice on how to communicate with our daughter.  Advice I’ve given multiple times before.  I told her about two situations that occurred over the weekend that made him feel excluded at the dinner table. An ongoing theme in our home; Devin feeling excluded despite everyone’s effort to include him. Each situation Devin isolated himself rather than reach out to the family when they reached out to him. This has been discussed repeatedly in our rockin’ counselors office in couple’s counseling.

She asked how I responded to Devin.  I explained I provided the advice he sought about our daughter.  The first time I consoled him on feeling excluded and offered advice.  The second time, I didn’t feel it was productive to feed into his pity party so I simply said, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and left it there.  I explained that more times than not I had been reacting with that response the last few months.

My rockin’ counselor said that was the best course of action to take with Devin. That we had fallen into a parent-child relationship with one another at the beginning of our relationship. I had changed the dynamics because I was further along in my recovery.  He was trying to fill that void somewhere else.  He used to fill it with online affairs but now he fills it with his hobby.

It was a very good reminder that it’s not my job to rescue him from his low self-esteem or the fact that he had a crappy childhood.  I gave him all the tools I can, I laid them at his feet, it’s his job to pick them up.  SAA gave him all the tools he needed to become sober and he succeeded when I backed off from micro-managing his recovery there.  I need to do the same here.  Love and support him but not parent him.

He’s made significant strides in his SA recovery.  Look at how he opened up in FANOS!  I just have to remember he has work to do in emotional sobriety.  Hell, it took me twenty years before I knew I was an emotional mess and needed a twelve-step program.  The least I can do is be patient with him.

I’m proud of him and I’m proud of me too!  We’ve come a long way, baby.  *Lights imaginary cigarette*  (I still miss those cancer sticks!)

36 comments:

  1. You're right and it's definitely the way to go, sometimes we need that nice slap up side the head without the impact.

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    1. It's hard to not jump in and console him and offer advice when he's feeling down but I know in the end it's for the best to stop the cycle we created.

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  2. Definitely sounds like you have both come very far. And your counselor sounds awesome. That's a great thing to have.

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    1. We have come very far in our recoveries. We have the most rockin counselor in all the land. We are truly blessed to have found her. She really understands sex addiction.

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  3. Tough love is sure sometimes needed indeed or one will always use the pity party crutch if given into.

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    1. Totally true, Pat. The sad thing is that I didn't see it for so long because I was so enmeshed with him. I thought I was helping, not hindering.

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    2. Well now you know and you can neglect at your one eyed show haha

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    3. It's gonna be difficult! It happened last night!!

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  4. I usually resent being put in the position of having to "mother" another adult. I suppose we think it's a way of showing compassion, and maybe it is, but it can also create an emotional dependency that's not healthy. Love when you share what you've learned. :)

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    1. I believe I mistook showing so much compassion, an over abundance, with being healthy that it nurtured our unhealthy relationship.

      I'm grateful you said you love when I share this kind of stuff because there is a part of me that still hesitates to hit publish. I don't want people to think Devin isn't thriving in his recovery because he's doing fantastic. I just want people to understand that sex addiction is more than "sex." It's a whole emotional and mental process for both of us.

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  5. Does he ever mind that you write about him here in your posts? I wish you guys well. Sounds like still a long way to go, but you're moving forward.

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    1. Yes, there were times he didn't like that I had a blog about sex addiction and our recovery process. Especially when I was stalked on my first blog three years ago. That sucked. Now though, he understands it's how I process my thoughts and feelings. It's also how I try to reach out to others to let them know they aren't alone out there. That was my biggest fear after my disclosure, feeling alone and not thinking we'd make it as a couple. I want people to know there's hope and he gets that now. We have a long road ahead but we are always learning.

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    2. Thanks for answering. I hope you don't think me rude to ask, I was just curious how he felt or if he knew you blogged.

      Writing is great therapy, and it's a fun way to connect with other people. Sure, you have a long road but you're taking daily steps, and I thank you for sharing your story.

      Hugs.

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    3. Not at all, Whisk. I think it's a very valid question. He also knows I'm writing a book about it and I've offered to let him read it but he's not ready yet.

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  6. smiles. lets keep the stick imaginary...but def celebrate the journey taken so far...there is always something we can do better...but we cant lose sight of how far we have come...

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    1. Even after nine years, I still miss those blasted cigarettes! I am definitely cherishing the progress we both have made. It's been quite a bit!

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  7. No one can make any recovery until s/he takes the steps him/herself.

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    1. It's so true, Andrew. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

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  8. Looks like you're headed in the right direction. Keep it up!

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  9. You guys are making amazing progress, although I realize this recovery is a lifelong commitment. Having a great counselor makes all the difference too I'm sure, and I hope that her health continues to improve.

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    1. It's funny, we were talking about that the other day. He will have to go to meetings and group for the rest of his life and he's okay with that. Our counselor rocks!! She is feeling much much better.

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  10. I love your therapist and I love how things are going so positively Elsie, this post has made me very happy. Cigar on me!

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    1. I'm so glad to have made you happy, Matthew. I'm pretty happy too. I wish I could have a cigarette! ha ha

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  11. Sometimes tough love is the best kinda love!

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  12. Oh, the parent-child relationship. I've been in relationships like that, and it wasn't even over heavy addiction stuff. Just one person gravitating toward the 'parent' role when the other person continued to do things they didn't like. Very, very unhealthy, and neither role (parent OR child) is fun.

    On the plus side, you've got a rockin' counselor, sure, but it sounds like you guys are rockin' as well. Awesome to hear!

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    1. In hindsight, I can see how I ended up in that type of relationship. I'm grateful now that we are headed out of it. I'm glad you are too! They take a lot of energy. Unhealthy energy! Our counselor is the best!

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  13. nobody should miss the cancer sticks!

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    1. It's the one thing I've given up that I still miss and have cravings for....

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  14. Dear Elsie Im agree with you and you are always so Smart and you are a resilence person really you are, best love dear and hugs!

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    1. I hope all is well with you and your family, dear Gloria!!! Many hugs!!! xoxo

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  15. It's nice to see posts like these. They're full of hope, or at least they show that with it you can succeed.

    It'd probably be easier to quit those things if everybody called them cancer sticks..

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  16. I like to try and keep things positive every so often so people can know things aren't always a mess in the world of sex addiction. That there really is hope when people put in the time and effort.

    Yeah...too bad I miss them so damn much!!

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  17. I like the attitude and how you just ignored the signs and let him carry his own bags and problems ~ Not be his parent but his supportive partner ~ This is one I will try to remember ~ Thanks Elsie ~

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    1. It's hard to find the right balance, Grace, I'm not going to lie. I'm going to have to get advice on how to handle this from my counselor. But, I know I can do it! I've been through tougher times =)

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