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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Parenting, re-parenting, and getting back on the horse

As a recovering co-dependent raising a little son with a recovering sex addict, I often worry about whether or not my child has any chance of developing into a healthy person. (I'm half kidding when I say this, but only half.)

In a post with what I think are several excellent points on parenting, GentlePath said: " most important job was to help my children develop a working inner compass..."

I can see that neither Husband nor I were validated in that way as children. His needs and feelings went unnoticed, and mine were only acceptable within a narrow range. I was often comforted with explanations of why I didn't need to feel the way I was feeling. It was all well intentioned, but I developed into someone without a strong inner compass.

For over 40 years I looked at how others responded to me to understand myself in the world. I had no sense of self-preservation because thinking of yourself above others was something good people didn't do in my black and white upbringing.

As part of the recovery process I've become aware of this dynamic, and I've been able to develop a stronger relationship with my self, a better ability to self-validate, and a deeper understanding/belief that I alone am responsible for my responses, and hence my experience of life.

This means not only looking for the most empowering interpretation of a situation, but also expressing my needs and boundaries, surrendering to all good things that come my way, and approaching things I want with the attitude of "why not me?"

These things continue to be challenging in practice, but since I've come to believe that the path I'm on is the path I'm on, just getting back on the horse seems to be the most sensible thing to do.

I recently put myself up for a dream job. The opportunity came out of thin air, and I grabbed it before my fear could push it away. My mind was screaming at me that I was unqualified, that there were million reasons why they'd pick someone else over me, that who was I to think I should be considered for this chance.

But with a lot of deep breathing I muscled those fears aside and called up my "why not me?" attitude. I dove in and prepared, let myself envision myself doing the job, immersed myself in a lot of creative thinking about my take on what I'd do in the position. I continued feel scared, but by the time I walked into that interview I also believed I was as deserving, worthy and qualified as everyone else I knew who was up for the job. (I knew most, if not all, of the other candidates.) The work I'd done after declaring "why not me?!" had given me a foundation for truly feeling confident.

The interview went really, really well. Ultimately, though, I didn't get the job.

But because I was determined to allow "why not me?" to sit alongside my fears, I know I showed my very best. And now that I've done it once, I know I can do it again.

Fortunately for my son, Husband and I have always prioritized validating his feelings and experiences, and have tried hard to support him in resolving his own problems rather than trying to fix, solve and resolve things for him. So I think he will have some form of inner compass.

But I also need to remind myself that as much as I want to be the perfect parent and make sure that he's happy and healthy forever and ever, my ability to do that is limited. I can do my very best with the tools I have to give him a good tool set of his own, and then he will be on his way, walking his own path, learning, or not, to surrender and to get back on his horse.