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!)