Dear Addi

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Flashing Lights

(his story)

My wife has asked me on several occasions what my triggers look and feel like. What do the urges, aches and hunger feel like now compared to when I first began the process of ridding myself of the scourge of pornography?  I have struggled to explain this to her. After a bit of thinking on it, I have finally come up with an analogy that makes sense to me and places my triggers into a visual description.

In my case, my addiction had reached and surpassed the desire and habit of only viewing pornography. I had allowed myself to progress far beyond to a point where I no longer could look upon any woman without the desire to lust after her in my heart. Pornography was all around me.

So, my biggest triggers do not exist only the computer or in cyberspace, but also out in the world. Driving down a busy road and seeing a jogger, making eye contact with the person in the car next to mine, a person standing at the bus stop...these are just a few.  My triggers had jumped out of the world of the wireless and landed directly into the goings on of my everyday life.

Ok, so that is enough background. Here is my analogy:

Have you ever driven by a pawn shop or an electronic store when they have one of those flashing strobe lights in the corner of the window? This is a simple advertising technique. The idea is to draw your attention and get you to look at what is on sale.

When I drive down the street, walk through the mall, go out to dinner, or pretty much find myself anywhere in public…. I am surrounded by flashing lights. Even when I am not looking for them, I see them flashing out of the corner of my eye. Before I committed to living the 12 steps, I would happily turn my head in the direction of the strobing light. It seemed I was always on the look out for the flash…. whether I knew it or not…. I would be seeking and searching for it.

All around me everyday I would see the annoying strobe calling my attention to view the goods on display. Of course, looking once was never enough and a second glance was always required.  And what happens when you stare into a strobe for too long?  You become disoriented and temporarily blinded. Blinded as I was, the fantasies began and then the thoughts would linger and my descent into depravity would continue.

So that was then, but Now? Well, the strobes are still there. They are no less blinding or distracting but somehow through prayer, willpower, and the strength of the spirit, I have discovered I am able to pay them no attention. I simply remind myself, “’Eyes Forward. “ because I have learned that the flashing light doesn't offer me anything but blindness.

I read a scripture last night in 3 Nephi 18:25

25 I…. have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; …..and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.

I know that the obvious interpretation of this scripture is that I need to come unto the Savior and If I do, I will feel and see his love in my life.   If I don’t, I will be led into temptation.  But I tend to read the scriptures differently nowadays.   I find myself reading things into them that are personal to me and my situation.  So here is what I heard when I read this scripture:

“I command you to come unto me. But you need to listen and feel for the dangers around you. If  you don’t, then with your guard down you will be led into temptation…. “

This interpretation helps me remember that He is giving me warning signs all around and if I fail to heed them, I will be led into temptation……

And again in Matthew 26:41 we are warned…

41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

So what do I do about those flashing lights all around me? Well, I have changed what they mean to me now. They are no longer triggers or advertising techniques.   Now, instead of a strobing effect to draw me in, I have redefined them.  Now they represent the flashing light warning of the danger in that direction. They remind me to stay on my path and not to be deterred. They remind me to slow down, think about my next action and choose wisely. They are no longer a call to view but instead, a warning to look away. I know now that if I fail to heed the warning that I will easily find myself in dangerous places. Using this kind of thought process has provided me strength and reminded me that it is possible to be in the world without being of it.  

The only light that is worthy of our attention in this life is a light that does not strobe or flash but instead is a constant solid beam of brightness. It emanates from the savior Jesus Christ himself. For He is “The light of the world”. His light never blinds but instead is constantly lighting the way to redemption and eternal life.

May we each follow his light and find his strength in us to overcome that we be not led into temptation.

Win the Day My Brothers.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Facing my Demons and winning

(her story)

As you might imagine, with the volume of revelation and disclosure that I have been enduring, I am battling a lot of demons.  I have so many of them right now I can't hardly juggle them all.  I have over the past few months had the ability to defeat a few of them in very creative ways.  I wanted to share that with you here!

1.  My husband's addiction lasted 25 years, 17 of which occurred during our marriage.  How, you might ask, did he get away with it for that long without me knowing?  The answer is simple.  He works for himself.  We have our own business and for the most part, he is at his office alone all day long.  I rarely found myself coming out to work because I had children to take care of.  That office was where most of his addiction progressed and finally manifested in the form of affairs.  As you might imagine, I feel like a great evil exists in that space.  Whenever I now come into his office, I feel that darkness, and the anxiety, hurt and grief automatically trigger.  Because we can't move workplaces right now, and because I am now much more active in helping to run the business, I needed to CHANGE that office completely.  So, we took his desk, his couch, all of his other furniture and we got rid of it!  That's right...we took it to the dump!  It was a perfectly good desk but watching it fall into the garbage pit and smash to bits was so therapeutic!  We went out and bought him a whole new desk set, 2 new couches and lots of family pictures.  The office looks completely different so that neither he nor I "trigger" when we are there.

2.  When my husband was deep in the middle of the worst parts of his addiction, he would meet up with his latest "drug"  (i.e. his affair parther) at a local park before she went to work.  He would only do it when he knew that I was picking kids up from school so I had no idea.  They would just sit in his truck and "chat."  I hated the idea of that mystery park.  I needed to create a new memory around it.  So, I demanded that he take me there.  He was SO nervous.  I was a little nervous.  But, he dutifully drove right to the spot where they parked and we sat and talked.  By doing this, he was introducing me to that mysterious world that had caused me so much pain.  He was finally including me in it.  We talked and laughed and held hands and now that park has a totally different meaning for me.  I now remember that lovely memory and not the sinister comings and goings of my husband and his "other woman."

3.  We have done this a few more times with other events.  As you read in his story, he met with his first affair partner in a hotel an hour away.  Well, guess what?  I made him take me there. (It helps that the only 12 step group that we can access is in that same town)  I even surprised myself by insisting that we get out of the car and visit the door of the room that they were in.  Talk about scary!  He was terrified.  But, it turned out good.  Again, we were open and loving about it and he once more expressed his deep sorrow and shame.  So, he has again included me in his dark world...something that he was never able to do before.  It was good for both of us.

4.  Just as a junkie would do anything to secure his drug of choice, an escalated sex addict will do anything to gain access to his drug...the realization of fantasy.  With the last and longest affair, he had a willing "drug" that was always available.  Feeling bad about using this person for his selfish needs, he gave her a few gifts at Christmastime.  (Those gifts were the ones I found on the note in his garbage can).  I have always hurt about those gifts.  Well, call it fate, inspiration or who knows what...but, SHE happened to drop a bag of stuff at our doorstep last week.  That's right...after FOUR months of no contact, she picks now to drop these "gifts" off at my feet.  Surprisingly, I was elated to get them back because it did two things for me.  It confirmed to me that there was indeed nothing still brewing between this woman and my husband.  Second, those items that really should have always been mine, had found their way home to be used in the way that I desired.  Guess what we did with them?  Late after returning from our 12 step class, we doused them with gasoline and torched them in our firepit.  I didn't leave that pit until there was nothing left but ashes.  It was AWESOME!  We laughed and talked and I rejoiced seeing them burn into nothing.  It was almost like I could finally burn her out of my life.  For Jason, these gifts brought intense embarrassment.  I am pretty sure he was not in his right mind during those months and now he just shakes his head and says, "what was I thinking?"

So, those are a few of the things I have been doing to tackle my demons.  I just can't let them fester.  I have to face them and make a better memory with them.  Now, when I think of those silly gifts that my husband gave to another women, instead of bursting into tears, I can smile at the silly night we had burning them. Instead of wondering about the locations that he met others, I have the memory of him humbly showing them to me while facing his own demons.  I have no idea if this is a recommended treatment for what we are going through or if my therapist would frown upon it but it's working for me and that is all that matters.