Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The next life

I sent this in a note to my dear friend EC earlier today ...

"You don't have to die the miserable wretch your father is or my stepfather is. It can be different. That's why I am working so hard. Before this life passes, I want my soul to be cleared ... not for heaven, but for the next life, where I can live a carefree childhood, filled with light and laughter, date beautiful young men, break a few hearts, fall in love, and have babies and watch them grow and love them with the sweetest most gentle love I know."

I am coming to believe that my soul is eternal and that the things I have experienced in this life were necessary to fill certain needs of the soul. However, I am also feeling a sense of loss of the things I never did experience in this life. I do want to experience those things. That's why I am here.

Just as an update: I had a little scare this morning when my husband told me he was going out of town next week and my mind started it's usual reeling. It has passed and I'm thankful for the reminder that I don't have to let those "run aways" last forever. I can do something different and move on. I wrote to a couple of girlfriends to see if they could get together before my SLAA meeting that night he is away and I'll make a fun night of it.

Also, I should say ... we survived the family visitors and I'm a better woman because of it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I sit here, unable to sleep, a ball of tension in the back of my neck, still stinging from the biting words of anger shared by my husband earlier tonight after he simply could stand no more of my anxiety-ridden behavior. Faced with holiday weekend visitors from his side of the family, I simply cannot grasp what it means to simply "be." I must do, and perform, and manage and it is driving me and everyone else nuts. Or at least me and my husband, and the resulting tension is neither of us are enjoying our guests, and somehow I doubt they are enjoying us. Hopefully with all the things both hubby and I are "doing" for them ... they are at least well fed and entertained.

Yes, it's true, my husband has his own anxieties and is deficient in the human "being" capacity. We both do nothing to improve each other's chances of success during times like these because we are always trying to control the other's behavior in order to make sure the guests are satisfied. I admit to being the worst at this of the two of us. But that's not the point.

The point is, I'm struggling with simply letting go, being myself, realizing that I really am more enjoyable when I just let things flow. I know a big part of this is letting go of my attachment to my husband's approval. If I can look at things realistically and realize that his expectation that all our guests, regardless of who they are, are well taken care of (in the ways he sees fit) is about his own sense of social anxiety and cultural upbringing, I can release a bit of anxiety. He grew up in an environment where extreme emphasis was placed on feeding people more than they could possibly eat and showing them a good time until it hurts. I grew up in an environment where people came and went as they pleased, we fed them what we had, they were least interested about the mound of clutter under the window, and what we enjoyed most was one another's company. Likewise, people who came to our house and were quiet and stayed to themselves, were considered "kinda odd" and talked about a lot. In other words, people were judged by their personality. As long as you showed up and talked and laughed, you were alright. Otherwise people thought you were stuck up or something worse. It simply was not acceptable.

So, when I try to cross my past experiences with his, entertaining (though we both sadistically enjoy it) becomses an extreme source of anxiety. I get those old feelings of "I'm not enough." It all begins before they arrive. I cook, I clean, I put out photos that will please my guests, I take down things that might cause them to ask questions. And, I'm not the only one. My husband scans the rooms to make sure there is nothing "too personal" laying around in view -- like letters from my cousin in prison or some random Al-Anon literature, or God-forbid SLAA info. To be fair, he also looks for credit card reciepts and things that have nothing to do with me, and a lot to do with his deep value of privacy. And once every carpet thread has been separated, I have obsessed over everything from dressing myself to whether they'll be scared of the dog, and the house is filled with more food than we could (or even plan to) possibly eat, a new dance begins once the guests arrive. I begin constantly thinking of what I can "do" to make the guests not only comfortable but entertained and happy. They can't get in the door without being offered food and drink (which was common in both our upbringings. I begin doing everything I can to get this quiet, reserved husband of mine to engage in conversation (by running my trap 90 miles a minute to fill air time) and try to control the way he behaves and responds to me. I get so irritated at him for even the smallest thing, as I think he does me as well.

God, it's a nightmare. I was thinking today that we must make our guests feel like they are intruders, because the two of us do so much to control one another and exert our power that we can't get along.

So, what can I do? I suppose this awareness is a good start. Just sitting down and writing all this out so that I can actually sleep. Doing some quiet breathing exercises, focusing on "I am enough," is another possibility. But right now I think I just need to admit my powerlessness over needing to control and do, and ask my Higher Power to restore me to sanity. I think it may be too much to ask to change overnight and simply be allowed the opportunity to "be," rather than do. But I'm praying for the willingness to simply try it on for size as the dawn breaks.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Reappearance and disappearance

I got another e-mail yesterday from R. I was grateful to have little to no desire to communicate with him and saw him for the pathetic damaged soul that he is. I know that it was his damage that attracted me to him to begin with and ensnared me in my disease for one long, miserable year. The fact that I have recommitted myself to recovery, have been working my program and continue to grow one day at a time makes it possible for me to look at that pain through new eyes and say ... I'm worth more than that.

I feel unfamiliar with these feelings of strength and truthful awareness. And while I don't fool myself that they could disappear at anytime, (The disease of addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful.) I am doing my best to connect to them. I am recognizing that one little slip last week has me in a stage of withdrawal where these seemingly "psychic" connections can happen. That doesn't mean I have to succumb to them, and not being in a relationship ridden by fear, anxiety, confusion and absolute loss of myself, like the one I was in with R. reminds me of the value of staying sober. And, R's communication, in which he shared he's drinking and smoking and having affairs all over the place on his new wife, reminds me that nothing about the fantasy I created that relationship to be was true, and causes me to give great thanks to the power that guides my intuition to get the hell out while I could.

I am forever grateful to my Higher Power for keeping me in a safe place, putting people in my life who can support me and opening my heart to be supported by others.

Thanks for being here and being witness to each stage of this truly incredible journey.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Accepting my own beauty

Yesterday I spent five hours with a hairstylist, getting my hair cut, colored, and for the first time ever, highlighted. It looks really cute and because I did it at the local beauty school, it took a little longer, but the price was SO good.

I really like the cut and the new look. I feel younger, lighter and more attractive.

It is not surprising that one of my struggles in feeling this way is that I want validation from someone else of my beauty. I also want to "give it away." I mean after all, what's the point in being beautiful if it can't be used to lure a man into bed?

Today, thanks to the strength and love of my Higher Power, I chose to come here and to write rather than to take the opportunity to meet someone for coffee and use my beauty to try to seduce them. I accept my beauty for myself, as a gift to me. I release my need for anyone other than me to acknowledge my beauty. I'd be a liar if I said that was easy. But in shifting my focus on to what I can learn from this experience -- I learn the gift of self-awareness, I build self-esteem and I remind myself that because I have the disease of addictions it is only natural to have temptations, but it is what I do with this temptations that truly matters.

I chose today to be a productive day -- to get the most out of every minute. I have EMDR therapy today, and if I chose to meet someone before or after, I release a big part of my ability to be present and productive in that session. This therapy as painful as it is, is tremendously effective in helping me work through my past, and focus on the truth of what exists today. I want to make the most out of every session and I cannot do that if I give my beauty away. I am choosing to keep it.

And this afternoon when I'm all sweaty after planting the beautiful flowers and vegetables that my husband and I bought together for our yard ... I'll relish in the beauty of the garden and all it will produce, and in the beauty that still exists in me because I can make a choice not to act out, not to give in to those very natural temptations, that are so cunning, baffling and powerful they make me think they are good for me.

Just for today I embrace my inner beauty and the pleasure of my new hairdo. I smile because I feel good inside and because I made a conscious decision today not to give that inner smile away for the cost of an empty,fleeting acknowledgement that I'd never believe anyway.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Finding the willingness

It feels like I could write 10 posts about the seminar I attended this weekend with my niece. However, if I were to sum it up, I would say what I gained most from this experience was a deeper understanding of the acceptance of all things as perfect gifts from a higher power, and a willingness to examine every aspect of my life for the potential lesson. To quote the seminar leader, "Everything is of service." I simply have to be willing to accept that even when I don't like what it going on in my life ... it has some purpose. This same truth shines through on page 449 of the AA Big Book. "Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today."

I picked up a lot of tools at this seminar ... some affirmations, some ideas for deeper and more meaningful meditation and connection to my Higher Power, and a reminder that any story can be told from a variety of different angles -- and it is up to me what I choose to focus on. The seminar leader had us tell the story of the most disturbing experience of our lives first in our own words, with our own focus. Then she asked us to get up, shift to the next seat and tell the person in front of us the same story as if it were the funniest joke we'd ever heard. (This was VERY hard for both me and the listener, who had to laugh. However, it oddly lifted a big burden from me.) When we got up again, we sang our stories to our listening partner. It was the fourth time that we told our story that I had a major shift. We were asked to tell our story from a new vantage point -- as if we had intentionally attracted everything in our most disturbing story to ourselves for the purpose of fulfilling a need to have a certain set of experiences that filled a critical void in our spiritual beings. Talk about taking on responsibility. Wow. This was at a whole new plane. The thought that I could or would attract something horrible to myself was very tough to swallow. But as I was able to retell this often told tale of my childhood sexual abuse, I shifted my focus from the pain and horror, to the lessons I had learned, the soul-deep experiences I have had, and the realization that forgiveness is a gift I give myself, not something I give away to others. This whole experience goes a lot deeper, and I am thankful to still be processing all that I learned, applying it to my life and to my recovery.

For me, recovery has been a process of self-discovery, filling the voids in my life that were never filled at the appropriate age. This weekend focused on "getting to the core" of myself and setting intentions for my life was very helpful in propelling me past a "stuck place" I was in.

Another helpful part of me moving past that "stuck place" was my willingness to speak, after all these years, with my dear niece, who is the closest member of my family to me, about my past acting out and my road to recovery. For years I have believed that as much as I didn't want my husband to know about my extramarital affairs, I wanted her to know even less. She went through her teenage years watching her mother (my sister) have one affair after another and it scarred her deeply. I feared if she ever knew I had been unfaithful she would know longer hold me close in her heart and that she might reject me outright. Those feelings were based in fear, and by the grace of my Higher Power about a week before she arrived, my heart began to open to the idea of sharing with her the basics of my behavior. I feel this opened a huge door in my heart and it also brought her and I closer together than ever before.

One day at a time, the Promises are being fulfilled in my life and I cannot possibly express the depth of my gratitude.

Observations of a non-parent

Being childless myself, I take pleasure in observing the interactions between parents and their children. I am often awed by the sheer responsibility these mere humans take on whenever they give birth to a child. How do they decide what to do in even the smallest of situations like answering the question, "Can I spent the night with Susie?" much less the huge ones that often never come in the form of a verbalized question.

This morning as I was walking my substitute for a child -- my dog -- children all over the neighborhood were waiting for the school bus. Some of the high school students were all dressed up for what seemed to be an awards ceremony. They all looked bright and shiny.

It occurred to me as I approached one bus stop after another that in addition to the children, there was a group of parents also waiting there, watching over their children, sending them off with hugs and kisses. It made me think of my own school days. My sister and cousins and I, we walked to the bus stop all by our lonesome. We fought our own battles with the neighbor kids. Whatever happened, we were on our own.

Now the people of my generation have grown up and had kids of their own, and they apparently have determined that rather that throwing their kids to the wolves to fend for themselves, they are going to be there to protect them, to show them they are loved, and to make sure nothing happened to them.

Knowing that life goes in cycles, I wonder how this generation of kids will grow up to raise their own children? It's an interesting thought to ponder.

Monday, May 19, 2008


A huge scoop of gratitude to all of you who responded with such acceptance and loving kindness to my last post. I felt so uplifted and encouraged by your words.

I have been away the past few days attending a seminar and filling my heart and mind with goodness. Of course, the goodness is sometimes triggering ... but I'm really finding a new sense of willingness surrounding examining my feelings.

I hope to write more write more soon about some of the growth I experienced at this seminar.

For now, I just want you all to know what an incredible part of my support system you are ... and I wouldn't know you if you hit me on the street.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Do I have the willingness to be happy?

My life has been going so good that it hurts. A newfound intimacy and committment to honesty with my husband, uncovering painful but useful parts of myself, building new and close relationships with women for the first time in my life, even having the willingness to get honest in ways I've never been honest before.

Today I want to act out, to fall deep into a relationship that I can get lost in. Find an extramarital partner who I can make my Higher Power, so that I don't have to build and intimate relationship with a true power greater than myself, or get close to the REAL people in my life. I want to do this because yesterday I acted out.
After months of physical sobriety, but still playing too close to the fire for too long ... testing myself and God ... I let it sneak up on me. Today I feel disgusted and ashamed with myself. And I have to realize that something about this horrible feeling works for me. Perhaps it is that it propels me further into my disease ... that giving a quick hand job in a parking lot leads me to be obsessed with the need for more, more, more.

I'm so sick of writing about relapses. But apparently not sick enough. I'm so angry that I was so stupid to let this happen, to skip meetings and isolate ... to cut myself off from what I needed to stay sober just long enough to be drawn back in.

I can't change yesterday, and I'm having a hard time changing today, even though I did ignore two messages from people I could have engaged with. Those two messages tell me that I'm putting the energy out there. I'm ready to scream. The quick hits don't get it anymore, but they can set off a shit storm of hurt.

I knew there was a chance for this. I came so close to acting out just a couple of weeks ago. I just didn't take it seriously enough. I got too cocky (pardon the pun). I literally despise myself right now and that makes it all the more enticing to go out and find someone to "love" me.

Thankfully my niece is coming tomorrow and will be here through Monday. I hate it that my withdrawal will interfere with my chance to be close and open with her.

Am I really even willing to accept the real love that is around me? Am I willing to be happy? I thought that's what I was working for? Why do I keep fucking it up so royally?

I'm just writing because it's the only thing I know to do. And I'm crying ... because I don't know if I'll ever be better. If it will just be a few months of getting better only to have another painful slip. How can I forget all the things I've learned? How can I forget how many people hurt?

Thankfully my friend EC was there to listen and not yell and to remind me that I have made progress ... just refraining all these months. But now I may act out for a few months. Who knows?

Someone shared recently that they couldn't take another relapse because they weren't sure they could come back. Coming back to recovery is the only thing I keep doing right. Everything else I keep really, really screwing up.

Friday, May 09, 2008

A stone of love

About a month ago, Bizy Lizy over at Alma and Demos, found my blog and was willing to wade through it and hear my story. Thanks to her comments, I was able to return the favor and found myself lost in her search for the perfect love story. Today, I was incredibly humbled and moved by the insightful words she wrote as she included me in her collection of stones. She wrote:

There is Rae, who I fondly refer to as "Sweet Rae." Her love story begins as a sweet and intuitive spirit, filled with the wonder of childhood hopes and dreams. Sadly, her sacred spirit was subjected to abuse at the hands of her stepfather. She would reenact this abuse over and over again in her own life for years. Her stone has many cracks, and her sharp edges turn inward, so that we don't see them as we run our fingers across the smooth surface. But Rae, like so many others, has a color, a sparkle that longs to be exposed, longs to be expressed and acknowledged. Her childhood hopes and dreams claim validation that only she can give. I am touched by her determination to live the love story she is entitled to. What I suspect Rae struggles with, is that she sees her cracks as shameful reminders of her past, when, in reality, they are slivers of light that give us glimpses into the beauty that she holds within.

As I have blogged here over the past four years (my first post was May 29, 2004), I have enjoyed immensely the opportunity to connect with others in the blogosphere. Some I have cried out to for help, and still others I have simply cried for. Some have made me laugh until I cried, and some have struck me to a point of breathtaking inspiration. Though there have been a couple of less than desirable run-ins, for the most part I have developed some truly treasured connections with women and men who also find solace and satisfaction in sharing their stories in this vast cyber universe. I have learned as much about myself from these people and their stories as I have from any self-help book or therapy session I have sat through. Likewise, I have found more classic literature in the writing of some of the people whose blogs I read than I could find at the local Barnes & Noble. Sure, there's a lot of horseshit on the Internet, but I have found that as someone searching for my own path, I have been inspired and awed by the journeys of the people I have met here and I am thankful for the many of you who have cheered me on and shared my passage with me. Today, I am especially thankful to you, Lizy, for including me in your collection of stones. May the gentle water of love glide over us all, smoothing our surfaces and revealing our inner strength.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I'm angry

I want validation. I want attention. I want to feel loved. I don't want to want any of these things. I want to be able to get up in the morning and say, "These are the things that I need to be doing" and get busy doing them and not care about validation or attention or my concept of love. I just want to be happy with what I have.

Too much

I went in for more exorcism today ... revisiting the past in EMDR therapy with hopes of reprogramming my sick brain. The therapy is working pretty well at culling out emotions and shifting them in the right direction. Rather than being angry at myself, I'm beginning to show some real anger at my abusive stepfather. Today I succeed at calling him a fucker and saying I hope he rots in hell. I sort of stopped myself with the rots in hell part because I didn't think it was a nice thing for someone to say about anyone, even if they don't even really believe in hell. I believe that hell exists on earth and I think he and I both have lived through it. I also said that because of what he did I have felt like a failure, and while I've spent the past few years reeling in disease, recovery and therapy he has been rotting in his own misery, but doing nothing to acknowledge my pain or his part in hit. I thought of him with pure disgust and a feeling like I wanted to spit in his face. Even writing this I have those feelings.

The more I felt my anger, the more I connected with the idea that what had happened to me made me feel like a failure, the more angry I became,realizing that I had been cut off from all that was good in me. I acknowledged that I am an intelligent, productive, talented part of the world and screamed internally with anger that I have been cut off from that part of myself. My therapist asked me to think of what it would feel like to connect to that part of me, to eliminate the obstacles that cut me off from my core goodness. As I did, I imagined myself wrapped around the world, taking it all in and offering it all up, dancing in unison, whole and complete. I am not a failure. I am enough. That's what it feels like to connect to that goodness. I know that goodness is there and I want to reclaim it as my own. I want to give and accept love, to be carefree and compassionate, to let go of selfish ego and embrace my part in the world. I can do it. I have what it takes. I saw it today.

But it was too much to take in at once. I can't hold on to all of it right now. I can't contain it all and have to let it soak in and process a little at a time. I feel sadness and emptiness right now, because I want to embrace all those good feelings right now. But I also acknowledge my hope and my patience. Today is just one day in my journey. These are all huge emotions and they are just too much for this one day.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Humble and grateful

Back in February I posted here about what was beginning to feel like a crisis situation in my life. I had developed a "secret" debt in the midst of my last relapse that included a large sum of money spent on R., as well as a few other "stashes." My financial situation was such at the time I posted that I was reaching a point I could no longer pay on the debt without further dishonesty with my husband. Thanks to the the wise counsel of my sponsor, my therapist, and several friends, I was able to establish the willingness to get honest with my husband about the existence of the debt, while continuing with my decision not to tell him the details of my acting out (also a conscious decision made with the help of my support network, my sponsor and my therapist).

I had the peace of mind to sit with that willingness and pray for my Higher Power to open the door when the time was right for me to share with
my husband. I have maintained the willingness over these months and have waited for the time to come when I felt it in my gut, not in desparation, that it was time to talk with him. (Thankfully I was supplied with a short term assignment that allowed me to have the money necessary to pay on the debt while I was waiting on "God's time.")

The moment of truth came this afternoon. And with no fanfare, I simply opened my mouth and began to tell my husband -- the man I have hid everything from, the man who has shown me over these months that I've been present in our lives that he is my partner and that I am loved unequivocally -- about the debt. I did my best to be honest without divulging the details, by saying, as my therapist advised, "I spent this money and I have absolutely nothing to show for it." If that ain't the truth, nothing is. Obviously, it was a blow, but he was kind and supportive, and even though he asked some tough questions, we made it through. He knew that I had been struggling immensely with my mental health over the past couple of years and he hugged me and told me that my life was worth far more than any amount of money. I know he is hurt and I will continue to pray for him and continue the prayer that has been flowing from me since the conversation was over "Thank you, God."

I am humbled beyond words that love is offered to me in the way my husband offered it today and that I have the opportunity to live a more authentic life. It is becoming more and more real that while I have a troubled past -- first of someone else's making and second of my own -- I have a future filled with hope and a present filled with inspiration and gratitude.

I am gratefully breathing deeply and soaking all of this in.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I Cried

On Tuesday, I sat through a meeting thinking, "If I say a word, I'm going to burst into tears." After the meeting, I sat in a prayer room, my eyes and heart filled with tears, asking, "God, please help me ..." My sponsor sat with me a short while later as I cried more tears ... the first tears I've cried in a long time.

I cried with relief that I had narrowly escaped yet another relapse. I cried because it is so frustratingly difficult to simply accept the goodness that has come into my life -- the love and affection of my husband, the blessings and support of my recovery family, and my Higher Power. I cried because I am glad to be feeling, but feel ill at ease doing it.

I used to cry all the time, literally like a baby -- it was the only way I knew to release the pain or express feelings of hurt. Somewhere along the way I stopped crying. I simply hurt and started sharing some of my pain through words of truth. I cried Tuesday because it was a natural way to release the feelings that were overwhelming me. I cried to God because I was scared. I cried with my sponsor because she opened her arms to me and made me feel supported.

I think the number one reason I cried on Tuesday is that one by one, I am giving up my reasons and excuses to act out.

I can no longer believe the lie that my husband does not love me and show me that love.
I am beginning to believe that I am worth much more to others than the sexual favors I can give them.
I no longer am convinced that my self worth is determined by what others think of me.
I can no longer legitimately say I feel alone.
I am feeling my feelings and surviving, realizing that I do not have to escape them in order to survive.
Although I am powerless over the disease of sex and love addiction, I am not powerless over my choices. I am empowered by the strength of my Higher Power and the fellowship of the 12-step programs.