A Break From My Garbage


Watermelon.  The sweet, watery, crisp taste of summer.  It's a summertime gift from the Heavens! 

I'm snacking on one now.  It's cut in half and I'm eating it with a spoon.  No need for formalities or even a paper plate, i's got it's own built in bowl of lip smacking yumminess!.  So far, my summer watermelon selection had come up kind of dry and bland, but this one is YUM (sing that word a little vibrato and falsetto)!  Thanks to Gay for giving me the strength to hold out for the perfect summer fruit!

I've always been lucky with my summers.  Kismet.  Summer's often found me wild haired and wandering, finding adventures and tire swings along the way.  Even as a grown woman I've been lucky with my summers and having children made those months even more delicious!  

But last summer was unlucky.  I found myself betrayed and husbandless.   Twelve-step was like air.  I needed it to live, and each week those meeting and that air made me stronger.  

After a meeting one night, I met a girl but just in passing.  There are always new girls.  But kismet would have it that about a month ago, I met her again via this blog and an email.  She's joined our community and is telling her story via her blog, Walking Through Fire.

Meet Marlee.  She's a sweet, funny California girl who's joined the ranks.  She shares her story for us and how she found peace in throwing up her white flag.  

Aqua typewritter
If you met me one day at the park, or at church, or at friend of a friend’s barbecue I would tell you my story:

Girl meets Boy.
Boy and Girl fall in love.
Boy and Girl get married, start a family, and smile every week at church.

But since you are meeting me on Scab’s blog, you can have the real version:
Girl meets Boy.
Boy and Girl fall in love.
Boy and Girl get married, start a family, find they are immersed in the world of pornography addiction, cry at home, and smile every week at church.

Hi, I’m Marlee. I’ve been married for seven years to my husband G, and six of those years I have struggled to find sanity in the illogical, shameful, devastating throws of pornography addiction. I’ve stayed and endured this ongoing struggle because despite the crushing blow every time G’s vice surfaces, I love him. He makes me laugh like no one else can.  He compliments me often and is my biggest supporter. He is the father to the three cutest kids I’ve ever laid eyes on. He inspires me to find meaning in the scriptures. For all the good we have going for us, the struggle against lust continues. I will say, though, life is much better now than six years ago, because I feel like we are fighting this fight together. And more importantly, we are not fighting against each other. I want to share about a breakthrough in communication we’ve experienced that helps us stay close despite the slips that still come.

When this problem surfaced six years ago, I felt like I was in a black hole. I had no one to talk to and was scared out of my mind that my marriage of one year would soon be tail-spinning into a fiery oblivion.  G had tried to quit, but kept slipping, and now his job sent a warning letter that “inappropriate websites visited during company time were grounds for termination.”  One more infraction at work and he was out of a job! I was weeks away from delivering my first baby and let me tell you, this was not the life I signed up for.  In desperation, I scoured the internet for help. I found a pornography addiction recovery group just 20 minutes from our house.  The first night we went, we were both handed manuals. How odd, I thought, why do I need one? Then the kind facilitator said to me, “Do this program for you.”  Jibberish, I thought. Whatever would I do with an addiction recovery manual?  This is his problem, not mine.  Sadly this was my mantra for five years.  His problem, not mine.  His issues, not mine.  His sins, not mine. All my troubles will be gone as soon as he recovers.

 A few years later I was introduced to the 12 steps specifically for loved ones. I tried attending a women’s phone support meeting, but all the talk of steps and sponsors and self analysis scared me. I resisted: why should I have to “work a program?” The women I met on the phone were friendly and welcoming and I tapped into some awesome literature, but I quit calling in after three or four weeks. I was annoyed that one of the ladies suggested I get help for myself. I found excuses not to call in: “it’s just wives comparing how bad their husbands are” or “I can’t give up precious baby napping time for a phone meeting.”  I think the heart of the issue, was that I simply still didn’t want to focus on myself. After all, I still held pretty tight to my mantra:  His problem, not mine.  And now I’d added to it, “You are not healing fast enough for me!”

A few years later, after more slips and tears than I care to count, I started to realize this issue isn’t going away.  I pushed for counseling and G complied.  Our therapist’s strongest recommendation was to get support through 12-step recovery groups.  G started going to Sexaholics Anonymous and I very reluctantly joined S-Anon.  Although I hated going to meetings, I loved the literature.  I threw up my white flag and timidly started Step one.  It really did feel like surrender, like failure, like turning my back on my family.  Here is a page from my journal at that time,

“What does it mean for me to be ‘powerless over sexaholism?’  What do I surrender?  What do I have the power to change? It means it’s not my place to make G into who I want him to be. I can’t make him get up and study or reach out when he feels stressed. I have to release my expectation that he’ll stop using pornography and find hope in the Savior -- that my covenants will be fulfilled. It means not leaving my trust in G, arm of flesh, but God.
Even as I write this, I feel sad.  I feel like I am admitting defeat.  Maybe I am.  Maybe I’m supposed to. Are my dreams of happy marriage in this life over? What should I hope for?”

I plowed forward in the steps and found a sponsor.  To my surprise, step work felt great! I had avoided it for so long, and now I just felt plain silly. Why had I fought so hard against something that would help me?  I was so fixed on fixing him, that I was blind to my own issues that had been slowly, carefully, silently been piling up.  As I shared my heart with my sponsor and slowly my husband, things started to get better.  G started to open up to me more, because I was opening up to him.  He didn’t dread our talks  because they were now conversations about how each of us was doing, rather than us (read: me) analyzing HIS problems and coming up with “plans” to fix the ways he was wrecking our life.  I started asking questions like, “How was your day? Did you have any hard moments?”  instead of “Did you look at pornography today?”  He started asking me the same sort of questions because he began realizing I had my own set of issues that I needed help with.  I learned to speak in first person.  I learned that not all my problems start and end with my husband.  It’s been a slow process,  but it has been a fantastic journey.  I say fantastic, not because it’s been easy or fun, but because it’s been life changing. 

Although I feel victorious in a lot of ways, this struggle is far from over.  Slips are a part of my life.  As I write, my husband is only a week and a half sober, in fact.  It’s hard.  Slips are always hard.  But, I process and live through the slips so much better than I used to.  Working my program has taught me a lot about advocating for myself and choosing daily my own path of recovery.  To illustrate some of my progress, here’s what happened today.
As G was leaving for work, he found his bike was stolen.  Because of a theft that happened to our family about 6 years ago, I know that this had the potential to be a major cause of resentment, depression, and stress.  These are all his major triggers. 

In the past I would have:
Stewed most of the day about “if” he would look.
Called a few times, making chit-chat trying to assess his mood.
Analyzed his behavior once he got home to see if he acted out.
Once we were in bed, lights out, I would have finally summoned the courage to ask, “Did you look at pornography today?”

I don’t live like that anymore. Today my day went pretty well actually. I realized I was triggered by my fear that he’d act out. Six years ago when our home was burglarized, he acted out in response to his resentment. I addressed my emotions and started reading from my family support manual for about ten minutes. I really loved this quote by Robert Hales, “To be guileless is to look for our own faults first.”  I looked inward and thought back to six years ago.  I realized that although I tried to show empathy for G,  mostly I was just happy it was his laptop that got taken and not mine.  I realized that this morning when his bike was stolen, my first response, was “Oh no.  Now he is going to act out because he’ll get depressed.”  Upon reflection I could see it was a self-interested thought. I cared first that I would get hurt, not how he would feel.  I said a prayer to my Heavenly Father, texted my sponsor to see if we could talk later, and then called G.  I apologized for my reactions both six years ago and today.  I told him I felt vulnerable and worried that he might act out due to this unforeseen stress.  I asked him how he was doing and truly wanted to know about his well being, not just his sobriety.  He reassured me that he was ok and thanked me for calling.  We both felt better and moved on.  I met some friends at the park at 10am and didn’t spend one minute stewing over what he may have been doing.  I was free.  

I’m so grateful for that day I flew my white flag.  I thought I was giving up on my marriage. I wasn’t; in fact, working the steps made me turn towards my husband and say, “I’m kinda messed up over here. And I’ve done wrong things too.  Can we take care of me, too, for a while?” 

In losing my life, I have truly found it.

Thank you Marlee!

Do you want to share what you have learned here too?  Send me an email.  Anonymous readers and bloggers alike are invited to have a voice.

Love you all!  

And I know, you've all been dying to hear back from Mr. Scabs!  He will be answering some more questions tomorrow...I promise!