The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Even with sobriety, there are ups and downs

Even though Husband has over a year of sobriety and is doing everything he can to work his program, deal with his issues and get the support he needs, I still have ups and downs. I think this has to do with the fact that I still have a lot of unexpressed feelings.

I loved Ellen Page's performance in the movie Juno and wanted to see more of her work so I watched the movie Hard Candy. I only vaguely knew what the movie was about, but as I watched it I found myself identifying with the feeling of wanting power over men. I got satisfaction out of seeing her in control and detached. Men: A group of people who will always let you down when given the opportunity.

But as I became aware of my feelings, I got very disturbed, and started to feel sick to my stomach. I began thinking about my son, and how I didn't want to have feelings about "men" because my son will be a man some day, and I'd never want him to pick up on those kinds of feelings from me. I grew sadder over the course of the evening, and ended up lying in bed with Husband, crying as he did his best to comfort me.

I woke up the next day feeling better, but still pretty down. We had couples therapy that day, so I was able to talk about my feelings there. But at the end of the session I was still disturbed and confused by my strong pull toward that feeling of detachment.

After being deeply betrayed by my father when I was twelve, I'd sworn off ever being completely vulnerable to any man. I'd be like Angelina Jolie in Wanted (a movie I hated) - mysterious, alluring, totally self-sufficient, desirable, and most of all unattainable. When Husband and I got together, I told him at some point that I wanted him to know that I didn't need him. That stayed with him, even as my need to withhold myself diminished as we built trust over the years. By the time I found out about his betrayal, any defenses I'd had against being hurt by him were long dissolved.

The next day I watched the second half of the movie. I don't know why exactly. I think I still had more feelings and the movie was an access point. I got very present to the wall that I put between Husband and me. Sometimes its feet thick, and sometimes it's just a piece of saran wrap, but it's there and it never, ever was before. I grieve the loss of that trust and openness a lot.

I went to an Alanon meeting, because I felt like I was really hitting a low point and needed to get more serious about my own recovery. I still don't have a sponsor and haven't started working the steps, but that will be part of this Year of Self Definition I think.

I realized that my fear of getting close to Husband is like being afraid to touch a hot stove after you've been burned by it. That's a crazy thing to do. But as someone in my therapy group said, Husband is a different person now that he's in recovery.

So I guess recovery makes Husband a fridge or something instead of a stove. He's a different appliance. He's a fridge that could become a stove again (a stove or a stove in recovery, right?) But I'm also a different appliance. I'm a blender that can recognize unhealthy, stove-like behaviors in a fridge. And I know if the fridge is going to meetings, therapy and otherwise getting support. And I'm developing my own blender-self, reading my manual, finding all the great features I didn't know about or pay attention to. I'm a blender who is educated about addiction and co-dependency. So chances are much better that I'll know something is wrong if I open the fridge door and see an oven.

Finally, to flog the metaphor completely to death, I can look at this as a new relationship between full-featured blender and fridge rather than trying to fix the old relationship between the unexamined blender and the stove.

This two-week journey is what I got out of watching Hard Candy.

Opportunities for growth pop up in the oddest places.


MargauxMeade said...

I'm glad you're back, Woman Anonymous! I missed your writing.

Anyway, I recently got a sponsor and it has helped so much. There's something so nice about being able to call someone--at any time--who knows exactly what you're going through and can soothe you and give you sage advice. I had a "down" week a couple weeks ago and my sponsor helped immensely. I've been feeling so much more peaceful and grounded.

Rae said...

Thanks for this writing. Not only did you identify for me why I sometimes want to watch a really sad movie (I need an access point to my feelings), but you reminded me (again) about those walls that go up when trust is broken, and how difficult it is sometimes to maneuver them.

As a sex and love addict, I can identify with the waxing and waning of feelings -- even in sobriety. No doubt your husband has his ups and downs as well as he struggles with or surrenders to sobriety.

I'm glad to hear you're going to Al-Anon -- it helps me learn to take care of me. I think it's a tremendous program that teaches us a lot about not only trusting ourselves, but being able to maintain that trust regardless of others' actions or inactions.

Again, thanks for writing ... it was a beautiful read this morning.

Misery Marketing said...

I dont think a year is long enough. The first year is hard because its new. The second year you keep remembering what happened on this day the last year. Ghosts.

Cat said...

Increadible writing that I can so relate to. I still have yet to find a sponser, I still only attend an ocassional Alanon meeting and I cannot describe any more eloquently than you have the relationship during recovery between husbands and wives. Thank you - I feel less alone.

TigerNBirdcage said...

I have been there and it is true what Misery Marketing says, a year is a short time. And the triggers will slowly go away one by one over time.

At least that is how it went for me. But I would be less than honest if I didn't also say I was never quite trusting again. Running in my mind like some neon marquis was the thought "how can I live with someone I can't trust?"

I think that would have passed as well had my partner's issues not come to light again. Only now I know that he has a sexual addiction. Now I am finding it impossible to think I can ever trust him again.

There is no getting around that the issue of sexual addiction is one of trust. Gosh to think of a lifetime of struggle with trust is overwhelming to me. I would love to hear long-term success stories. Please send me an e-mail if you know if any!

No Ordinary Mom said...

i love opportunities from strange places...

Scribbling-Mum said...

Yes...keep posting!