Sunday, August 22, 2010

Feeling better

Today has been a better day.  I don't feel hopeless like I did yesterday.  Tom and I spent about an hour talking yesterday about the future and a game plan for moving forward.  So my spirits are higher than they have been.  I still find it difficult to hope that this will be *it*.  That this will be last time we'll ever have to deal with this.  I think that is unrealistic and I know that I can't look to the future and think about the what ifs.  We just have to take it one day at a time.  Easier said than done...

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  Hopefully I'll be able to find some time later in the week to continue the story of how Tom and I met.  Life has been moving way too fast the last few weeks and I am hoping with the kids back in school that I'll be able to find a routine with writing.  Lord knows I need the therapy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A letter to Tom

Dear Tom,

I don't even know where to begin.  I feel like I did something wrong.  Like I should have done something differently.  I know you had a stressful few weeks.  Taking care of me while I was sick and taking care of the kids.  Work being out of control and stressful.  I know that when you are stressed you turn to your addiction.  I know that it is your "safe place".  And so I feel like I should have been more supportive.  I feel like I should have put aside my own sickness and stress and emotions and pretend to be something I am not (a happy, content woman), so that you don't feel like you have to turn to pornography.

When you fall, I blame myself.  I am edgy and mean on a good day and I haven't had many good days lately, so I know that I must be difficult to be around.  I know that I push you to find comfort and safety in the virtual arms of other women.  I know that I have hurt you in the past and I deserve nothing better.  I don't even deserve to be angry with you over it.

After all, didn't I find misguided comfort and safety in the arms of another man many years ago?  I will never be able to believe, no matter what you say, that you don't use my affair as an excuse to give in to sin.  And I know that my affair didn't start your downhill battle with pornography addiction.  I know that it was a problem long before you met me.  And yet, I see it as the moment when I ruined any chance you had to be free from your addiction.  Because when you are tempted and you try to escape temptation, I feel as if what I did is a constant reminder that I hurt you and makes it that much easier for you to justify looking at other women.

And while I don't blame you for running to your addiction instead of God (or me), I'm still hurt and sad.  I will never be enough for you.  You will never be able to look at me and think that you have everything you could ever want in me.  I am severely lacking, both physically and in an ability to be the wife you need me to be.  I am not as close to God as I used to be.  And most days, I don't try to be.  Perfecting a relationship with God is harder than fixing our marriage.  And on good days, at best, I only half want to try.  On bad days, I just don't care.  I know what is right and true and I am a coward.  I don't want to do the work.  It's too painful.

Last night, I wished that I had someone to run to.  Someone who would just hold me and assure me that everything was going to be OK.  Someone who would tell me all the things you are unable to.  Someone who would make me feel beautiful even though I'm not.  Someone who would desire me and ONLY me.  Someone who isn't addicted to pornography, whose view of women isn't skewed.  But I have no where to go.  And so we will try, like we always do, to find a way past this.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wanting to flee

Tonight I want to run away...

It's been a bad week at work.  Tom and I have been disconnected all week.  And after a stressful Friday to close out the week, I found Tom in our room on his phone.  Not talking on it.  I expected to find him asleep.  I would have preferred to find him asleep.  Asleep would mean that he was dealing with his stress in a better way. Sleeping would mean I wouldn't have to fear.  I wouldn't have to worry about what he was looking at on his phone.

He didn't hide his phone when he heard me approach.  In fact, I had an anxious feeling, which is why I went in there to begin with.  I made sure to walk softly...knowing my fear may be founded, hoping it wouldn't be.  I asked him what he was doing.  He mumbled something about playing games on his phone.  I went into the kitchen to finish dinner.  A few minutes later he came into the kitchen and just stood next to me.  I kept doing what I was doing while he stared at me.  I started to get angry, because instead of TALKING to me, he just stands there.  I said "What are you doing?"

He told me he was going to help me.  I told him I didn't need help.  He kept standing there...staring.  I told him that I was surprised he wasn't in there sleeping and that it worried me that he was on his phone.  He kept looking at me...saying nothing.  I find this incredibly infuriating, but was too exhausted emotionally to confront it, let alone care tonight (about being infuriated).  I went to the living room and sat down, and he followed me.  He watched TV with the kids for a while, saying nothing to me.  I finally got up and went to my room and laid down on the bed.  He eventually made his way in there, sat down in front of me, leaned down and kissed my cheek.  Twice.  And then he said "I'm sorry."  Vague...

After dinner, unable to tolerate the silence anymore, I said "Was I right?"  After all, he knew what I was talking about.  He just kind of bowed his head and said "Yes."  I said "I'm right here.  After a stressful week THAT is your best solution?? Heaven forbid you just talk to me."  In case you haven't figured it out...he was looking at porn on his phone...I don't feel like I need to explain that, but if you are just tuning in and haven't read this blog before, it may be have been a little confusing.  He just kind of said "I know."

And because the kids are still up, we can't really talk.  Chances are he will pull away and not talk to me anyway after they go to bed.  I just want to get in my car and drive.  Or be somewhere, with someone.  Who wants me.  Who isn't addicted to pornography.  Someone who will give me everything I am lacking emotionally.  Knowing God is the answer and wanting to be adored by a real, live man are conflicting in my mind and heart right now.  I want a man to tell me I'm sexy.  I want a man to WANT me, to desire me.  To think that I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.  I want to be touched by a man without wondering if he just spent the last hour looking at porn on his phone just to make it tolerable to be with me.

On a good day, I can back up and know that there is no connection between our intimacy and pornography.  On the best day, I can separate them and know that the addiction has NOTHING to do with me.  But right now, this is how I feel.  This is where I am.  I'm hurt.  And I'm broken.  And I want to be anything but married to Tom right now.  I know I will regret saying that...and I know that deep down I don't mean it.  At least, I don't think I do.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Trying to breathe

Last night was uncomfortable for me.  I hate crowds.  I hate being in new places, with people I don't know.  I am really uncomfortable with new social settings...such as "small group" at Celebrate Recovery.  The men and women are separated after a large group meeting (which Tom and I attended together) into these small groups.  Basically, it is a small circle of chairs with a box of Kleenex in the middle.  That can't be good, right?  I am glad that you are given an opportunity to "pass" if you don't want to share anything.  The entire thing had me filled with anxiety and fear.  It wasn't as bad as I anticipated though, and when it was all said and done, a very kind girl sat down next to me and introduced herself.  I shared with her that I wasn't even sure why I was there.  That's not completely true.  I was there to support Tom.  But I know that I have my own "issues" that need to be dealt with and overcome.  However, my intention for going to Celebrate Recovery is to be a source of strength and comfort to Tom.  And now I am faced with having to confront demons I have kept buried.  Do I think it will ultimately be a good experience for me as well?  Yes.  Am I ready to move through the hurt and pain?  Not quite.

The evening ended with Tom excited and hopeful.  This program is going to be so helpful for him.  In fact, as we were sitting there, listening to a testimony, I almost burst into tears, envisioning Tom up there some day, sharing his story of freedom from his addiction.  Tom told me later that evening that he envisioned the same thing, only with me up there, sharing my testimony.  He told me that I am a good writer so writing my testimony would be easy for me.  I said "Sure, but I'd just stand up there and cry."  He told me that would be OK; after all, there was no lack of emotion coming from the person up there.  I just looked at him, completely terrified by that kind of possible eventuality.

I shared with Tom how I wasn't sure how I felt about Celebrate Recovery...FOR ME.  I am not opposed to exposing my own sinful nature and my own hurts, habits and hang ups.  HOWEVER, I think I had hoped that in supporting Tom in this, I would find a support group for myself.  One that I could share all of my pain and hurt and anger and sadness with.  A group of people who knew what I was going through, who could help me move past the pain, and on to forgiveness and hope for a future free from this shadow that hangs over our marriage.  And maybe there is a place for that kind of healing at Celebrate Recovery, but it seems to be more focused on being free from addictions and poor coping habits, while I am open to being changed myself, because I am the first to admit I NEED IT, it just wasn't what I had expected.  So it would take me time to process all of this, and my heart is still so raw.  I shared that with Tom and we drove separately back home (we met at the church after work).

When we got home, I was agitated.  There wasn't any real reason for it.  But Tom was irritating me, and I snapped at him.  In turn, he became upset, as would any normal person.  Needless to say, the night did not end well.  I just couldn't understand why, when I share something so close to my heart, he can't just hold me and assure me that everything will be OK.  Why he can't profess his love to me in those moments and assure me that we'll get through it.  Instead, he just alternates between frustration with me and staring.  He does this a lot.  He stares at me.  And he'll start to speak, or so it seems, and then stop.  Every time I am hopeful that he will just tell me what he is thinking.  That he will open up and share his feelings with me.  That he will tell me that he loves me and that he believes we can make it, and just hold me.  This is NOT easy for him.  And even though I know this, I hope for it anyway.  Every. Single. Time.

Instead of talking it out, which is something that I NEED to do in order to move past something, Tom broke down.  He was sad and hurt and just plain devastated.  At first I didn't know why, and felt so helpless.  Finally he told me that he hated that I was "stuck" with him.  He told me that I shouldn't have to put up with him and all the times he has hurt me.  And instead of seeing his brokenness, I just sat there, agitated and annoyed.  Here I was, hurting and broken and needing him to be strong and assure me of his love and instead, he has turned it back on himself.  And because I am selfish, and I needed it to be about me, it just made me mad.  I sat there knowing no feasible way to be compassionate and selfless and assure him of all the things I myself needed assurance of.  And so we went to bed, leaving all of this emotional turmoil unresolved.

Things were awkward this morning as we got ready for work.  There was little communication, and Tom was still really down.  Normally after a night of sleep, Tom is able to get some perspective and do what he can to make things OK between us.  That was not the case this time.  On the way to work he said "I'm sorry that I'm not over this yet."  I told him that no one said he had to be.  And that was the extent of our communication this morning.  And my heart was broken.  In addition to feeling unworthy of love, and ugly, and as if I have nothing to offer, I am racked with guilt because Tom wishes I hadn't "chosen" him.  Though he is responsible for his own feelings, I blame myself for him feeling this way.  I'm very good at placing blame on myself, whether it belongs at my feet or not.

And just when I thought I couldn't get through the day, I got an email from Tom.  This is what he had to say:

"I'm sorry that I can't speak everything running through my head.  I know it's not fair to you to have to sit and wonder what I'm thinking about, and while I can come into work and pour myself into work and forget about it all, I know you do not have that luxury.  Normally, I do better at turning things on and off, and I was really surprised to feel all the emotion again so raw this morning.  A night's sleep is normally all I need to just get over it and bring my emotions back into check.

I was hoping that I could express through e-mail what I cannot seem to express verbally.  In geek-speak, I feel like I'm stuck in a perpetual loop.  That is what happens when you write code without an exit condition, and it just keeps running in circles until someone manually kills it.  The only problem is I don't know the kill command, so I'm not sure how to get out of the loop.

Surprisingly, I am not talking about pornography.  I again feel like I am on the right track to overcome that.  God has brought me so close to victory so many times, and seeing the support group that exists alone at CR, I can see God's hand working to rid me of it once and for all.  I'm talking about being the husband you need and deserve.

Last night, it kept playing through my head that you deserved to marry someone who wasn't going to struggle for over 20 years with pornography.  Who was going to pour all his energy and attention into you and make you feel like the beautiful woman you are.  Someone who could verbally make you feel appreciated and affirmed.  Someone who could verbalize how he feels about you, the joy that you give him.  Someone who wouldn't just stare at you not knowing what to say, when you obviously are yearning for words of encouragement, comfort, and appreciation.  Someone who would be a true spiritual leader and bring you closer to God instead of bringing you further away.  And this is where the cycle came in.  Because as my anger and frustration with myself hit and I went down to do the laundry so you wouldn't have to see it, what you said the other day about not knowing if you would marry me again except for the kids kept playing in my head over and over again.  That is why I keep crying.  But the crying just makes it worse, because it makes you feel bad and makes me an even worse husband and support for you.  So it feeds back in, and hence my loop.  I am afraid that just by sharing this with you, I am making things yet worse for you.

I know you were just being honest with me about how you were feeling and in no way want to hurt me.  And the reality is I do not blame you for not wanting to do it again.  Why would you want to be put through all the pain that I have caused you and be in a marriage where you constantly feel undervalued and unaffirmed?  And I know you made your choice and will live by it out of your commitment to me and God.  We have always said that a promise is a promise, and we will not compromise that just because it is hard and difficult.  So I appreciate that, but I hope for a day when I deserve your love and don't just have it because of your determination to keep your commitment to me.

I will try to get over myself and put my focus on you, where it belongs.  After trying to be there for you last night and failing miserably, I turned inwards and my focus shifted from you to me which is the last thing I should ever do.  I watched it happen, and I knew it was a mistake and would only make things worse.  But where normally I can turn it all off and move forward, I just couldn't.

I love you and I would choose you again and again and again.  I want you in my life, and I can't imagine life without you.  Thank you for putting up with me, and I am praying that I can you give you a better life moving forward."

There are two reasons I share this with you.  First, his email is what I needed to soothe my heart.  Second, I think it is important for you to see his heart.  He is so much more than his addiction.  He is a good man, with a good heart, who loves me and knows me.  He knows what I need, and even if he doesn't know how to show me love in the way I will really see it, he wants to.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fears and questions

As I continue on this journey, I begin to see what shape this blog will take.  Some days, I will tell my story and what has molded and changed me, and what I have learned through this journey living with an addict.  Other days, like today, will be spent writing about present struggles, or victories, or whatever else happens to be going on in my mind/heart at the time.

Lately I have found myself wondering if Tom has been struggling again.  I can usually always tell.  Sometimes I will get this anxious feeling in my stomach.  Other times, it comes out in his behavior towards me.  He will seem distant or aloof.  Or he will be curt and edgy with me, and he is usually very mellow and easy going.  If he goes in to work early, or has to work late, or is up late at night after I have gone to bed, I always wonder.  And so I'll ask him if anything has been going on, and he will tell me no.  Sometimes he is emphatic.  Other times he says no.  Either way, I never know if I can believe him.  After all, I can't even count the times he has lied to me in the past.  I've told him so many times that I will support him and love him and pray for him, and stick with him through anything.  But I cannot stand dishonesty.  It infuriates me.

I know that sometimes he lies to "protect" me. or at least, that is what he tells himself.  Though it isn't really protecting me, because I always find out, eventually.  Sometimes he lies because he doesn't want to face himself.  Sometimes he lies because he doesn't want to give up the sin.  And I also know that I am not the best accountability partner for him.  But having someone check in on him from time to time is better than NO ONE.  And I don't ever even ask about it, unless I get that uneasy, anxious feeling.  Even then, it takes me a while to work up the courage to ask him.  After all, if I don't have to go through all the emotions and hurt and pain, why would I?

I am at a place where, after years of being lied to, I really don't believe him when he tells me that my suspicions are unfounded.  It has only been two weeks since the last "big" confession.  And Tom has had many opportunities to give in to the temptation to take that second look, surf the internet, fulfill his desires without me.  And the last few days I have felt that familiar, uneasy feeling.  I have wondered...and because I don't want to know or don't know how to approach the subject, I say nothing.

One of the great things for me, with this blog, is that I can now safely express my concerns and fears, without actually confronting Tom.  Because really, God has to convict him.  And Tom needs someone who will be blunt and persistent and ask him those tough questions.  Someone who is not me.  I hope that he finds that at Celebrate Recovery.  Someone who will come along beside him, who can move him to be honest with God and with himself.  He desperately needs someone to intervene and be a CONSISTENT support.  He knows all the right things to do, and all the right steps to take.  But he is all alone in this, and it is easy to KNOW what to do.  Much harder to do it.  Especially when Satan wants nothing more than to destroy our marriage.

Obviously MARvelous

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