Sunday, October 15, 2017

Practicing Mindfulness

A lot has changed in the five months since I wrote my last post. Also, it's weird that it's been five months. I remember back in the day where I was in daily trauma and needing to write to process. I couldn't handle missing more than a day or two, and here I am thinking, "I don't even remember what my last post was about." Strange, yeah?

I could write about a lot of things, but I have no clue where I'm going with this. I just need to process some feelings, and it will be a surprise even to me at what spills out right here.

This week has been very hard. I won't go into detail because there are some things going on that we don't want to make public (not specifically related to addiction). So anyway, this week has been very hard. I feel drained. Then, something happened this weekend that pushed me over the edge. This something is related to a support group for the addiction, which is why I'm writing about it here. Because this is my place to be vulnerable and process things like that.

I thought I was fine. I thought I allowed myself to grieve and process it as I talked about it to a handful of my tribe. But, it's still here. I still feel the pain. The problem is, I always try to push my feelings away. I think I'm doing good by talking it out, but I don't do all the things I can feel my spirit and body wanting me to do. I try to rush myself through the process, and I don't think emotions are actually something that can be rushed. Whenever I rush them, they just come back stronger than before. And that's how I'm feeling this morning. I've been running for weeks, and everything has just come to head with this final thing that topped off my week, and my body is telling me to slow down and let myself feel.

This morning, I feel light headed. I feel like I might pass out. I feel like my breathing isn't right. I keep having to stop and do mindful breathing. I don't feel like I am fully present. I feel fear. I feel anxious. My muscles are tight--in my legs, my back, my neck, and my shoulders. The muscles in my face feel tight, too.

Sometimes I put too much weight on validation from outside sources, and I don't validate myself enough. I may not validate myself if I'm not validated by others. Questions like Am I overreacting? Should I feel this way? hurt my spirit because my spirit is saying, "Hey, I am hurting. Please acknowledge me, please let me feel this way." But if someone says, "Kilee, you are overreacting," then I shove my emotions back, and then my spirit hurts even more.

So today, I am practicing mindfulness (something I've been imperfectly working on over the past month). I am recognizing the signs my body is giving me that I am not okay. And I am trying to let myself be not okay. I am taking measures to allow myself to feel and process, and I will allow myself to move on when my spirit feels acknowledged and ready to move on.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Here's to marriage counseling! And a list of questions to ask if your counselor is not a CSAT.

We finally started marriage counseling. We've needed to for a long time, but we haven't been able to make it a financial priority. In fact, I met with our bishop a few weeks ago to discuss some things I've been struggling with, and when he learned that we've never done marriage counseling because of the cost on top of our individual counseling, he asked if he could please help us out so we can work on our marriage in a therapy setting. He, of course, wanted us to start with LDS Family Services. I agreed because I didn't want to be picky if he is helping us out. My motto is to give it a shot and evaluate how it goes. Plus, I think both Ben and I are well-versed enough in recovery that we could both easily recognize bad/damaging advice from a counselor.

I was wary, though, because I haven't really heard of anyone having good experiences at LDSFS with this kind of stuff. Plus, when we lived in Texas, I went through LDSFS to find a counselor, and it ended up being a not-so-good experience. However, I didn't want to completely write off all LDSFS counselors because of that. Instead, I did a lot of thinking and decided to come up with a list of questions to ask our counselor--an interview of sorts. If the counselor "passed", we would proceed. If there were any red flags, we would not proceed.

When we went to our first session, I fully intended on asking the questions, but I ended up just feeling things out through our discussion and saved my questions for the second session. I scanned her office and found she had lots of good books relating to pornography addiction and betrayal trauma, so she earned points there. We had an overall good experience during our first session, and she seemed well versed in how pornography/sex addiction can affect the family and the marital relationship, so we decided to continue giving her a shot.

Here is my list of questions:
  • What kind of experience/training/certification do you have treating sex addiction?
  • How do you believe pornography can affect the family?
  • Do you believe pornography use can be classified as an addiction?
  • Do you believe wives have an obligation to provide sex for their spouses?
  • Do you believe more marital sex can help a strengthen a relationship when one of the spouses is a porn/sex addict?
  • Do you believe masturbation can be addictive?
  • What do you think the addict needs as part of recovery?
  • What do you think the spouse needs as part of recovery?
  • How do you define recovery and measure success in treating porn addicts? In spouses of porn addicts?
  • What's your view on betrayal trauma as it relates to porn/sex addiction?
  • What kinds of things do you believe the addict should disclose to the spouse?
  • What do you believe is considered as a slip/relapse?
  • What is your experience or belief as it relates to codependency vs trauma?
(Questions based on this blog post, SA Lifeline's website, and my own experience and preference.)

Because of info I gleaned from our first session, I didn't actually ask all of these questions. But based on her answers and the overall information I gathered from her, we have decided to keep pressing forward with this particular therapist. 

We are in somewhat of a tricky position right now because Ben has been sober for over a year (woohoo!), so while the addiction is certainly a consideration in our marriage and plays a huge role in our background and the issues we have, there is actually much more than the active addiction at play. Our marriage isn't struggling because he is constantly acting out anymore. Our marriage is struggling because of the consequences of his actions in our marriage and the coping mechanisms and habits we have both developed because of that. While we have come SO FAR over the years, especially over the past year while working on this without a marriage therapist, there is still much work to do. AND I know it's not all him. For a long time, I blamed him for everything. Because it was easy. Because I was tired. Because I was hurting. I did and said things in the not-most-healthy way because of my reaction to his constant acting out and addiction cycle. And that has been a hard thing to break out of. We are stuck in a cycle that we don't want to be in. And we are ready to break free. Together. We have been working against each other for so long--neither of us showing enough compassion or empathy because we are both hurting in our own ways--and we are finally coming together as a team. 

I'll admit I've been struggling a lot since the birth of our second child (she is five months old). We have gone through cycles of things being really good and things being really hard. And, (I think this is normal...) because we have had a tiny baby who is so dependent, and a toddler who was adjusting (he's adjusted really great), we really haven't been able to focus on us. We have dedicated our energy towards the day to day nitty gritty, and during that time, we have both withdrawn to an extent. This time also solicited emotions in me from when he was acting out after the birth of our first child, and I've gone through cycles of battling my emotions and trying to figure out what is going on inside me. 

We don't want a divorce. And now that he has been sober for over a year, things are leveling out. And I feel like we can work together to create something amazing. So that's what we are doing. I've been turning to God more (something I've also struggled with over the past 5ish months as I've struggled with more trials than I write about on here), and trying to let His love envelope me and help me learn to love better. I've been working on a lot of ways to improve myself, and I plan to continue doing just that. 

So, here's to marriage counseling! 


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Discovering who we are

I haven't written in months. This is by far the longest stretch, and it's weird. I had thought about just letting this space go because, for many reasons, I just don't seem to need it as much anymore. But I love this space. It's a part of who I am, and I don't want to let it go because 1. all of you who read this, and 2. I may need it in the future. Who knows when the addiction will rear its ugly head again.

I'm grateful for the growth and healing I've achieved here. I'm grateful for the support of everyone who follows my blog. Right now, I'm wrapped up in figuring out how to balance my two little ones with the rest of my life.

We are finally in a place where I am learning what our life can be like without the addiction. I guess not entirely without the addiction because it is still very real, and there are still consequences and trauma I face and work to move past. But, Ben is about 11 months sober, and now that the day-to-day acting out is in the past, we are both able to dig deeper to work on our relationship.

I'm no longer in the "everything is your fault because you are an addict" place. I'm working on dealing with my emotions and trying to see him as a person, husband, and father rather than my enemy. I hate saying that out loud, but there really have been times where he was Public Enemy #1 for me. It was such a hard place to be because I loved him and saw his potential, but I also hated a lot of the feelings I had towards him because of the addiction.

We have both changed a lot in the almost-7-years that we've been married, and right now we are getting to know each other again. We are discovering who we are as individuals and a couple. And we are working on building and strengthening our family unit as well.

I *hope* I can say the addiction is behind us. But I know it's still too early. I can't fully let go yet. And I'm not sure that he can either. It's still a daily battle in some ways. But we are making progress, and that progress is good.