Friday, May 20, 2011


I've taken a multi-pronged approach to my recovery that includes this blog, Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Barbara Steffens, online recovery support, Women Who Run with the Wolves, and another recovery book with clear tasks focused on recovering creativity but a general recovery book nonetheless. Roi and I are seeing a couple's therapist, and I'll be adding therapy and neurofeedback in the next few weeks. 

So where are the meetings? I go to those here and there too, but I'll be the first to admit, commitment to meetings is lacking. Two major issues keep me from committing. First, and especially for s-anon, everyone there is too raw and without a good stretch of recovery under their belt, at least around here. Walking into those meetings means I'll sit with a handful of women who are new to the trauma, and sometimes I just can't deal with their pain. The other major issue I have is that the minute I hear any of the readings all I hear is how this is my fault, and considering that every addict in my life has used this tactic to escape accountability it just feels wrong. Plain wrong. Every cell in my body starts screaming, "get the fuck out of here, DANGER!" 

What is lacking in recovery for those affected by addiction in their loved ones is a recognition of the NEW trauma. That feels dangerous to me because it is just another group of people telling me to stop listening to my instincts. 

Put another way... the addict engages in behavior that is not normal according to standard human codes. I'm not even referring to the substance (whatever it may be) abuse, I'm talking about all the behaviors that surround the addiction in order to protect it. Lies, deception, gaslighting, manipulation, emotional abuse, bullying, boundary crossing, etc. Normal people have emotional responses to such behavior that include confusion, disorientation, anger, sadness, etc. So the addict is taught to restore his/her behavior to be more in line with "normal" human behavior, while the affected parties are taught to ignore the standard responses and learn how to act, in a sense, abnormally. Detach, let go, and don't be affected by the behavior of someone you hold dear, or at the very least someone who is in your immediate circle of influence and whose behaviors affect your life in concrete ways.

Having studied Buddhism, this advice isn't all bad. But the way it is presented is. 

I know there are those who would read this and think, "her intellect is getting in the way", and perhaps it is. Still, having suppressed by instinctual feelings for the sake of love and hope has resulted in a lot of wreckage in my psyche, so for now this is where I am. Unwilling to let others tell me that I need to once again turn away from what my gut is telling me. 


  1. Ugh. Meetings. The one thing I learned that was a help to me was that I had no role in what the addict was going to do or not do. Other than that, I got a little burnt out after committing to meetings for more than a year.

    And, I refuse to believe that attending meetings is the only path to recovery.

    I think that is a good stance to take, one in which you are unwilling to turn away from what your instincts are telling you.

  2. Yes, there are good things, but the overall vision feels warped to me.

    But this post is a preamble to taking my recovery seriously, in that it needs to have consistency and daily actions. I don't have that.

    I read somewhere yesterday something like, knowing is knowledge, and wisdom is action. That's not it exactly, but the point comes through. I've done a lot of reading, writing and thinking, but not enough action. That's one thing the 12-steps does right - they walk through a set of actions. So I have to find a way to mimic that, and be accountable while I do it.

  3. I don't know—I mean, I have a hammer and so everything looks like a nail,—but I wouldn't have come through this without Al-Anon, where I actually found VALIDATION for the fact that, yes, the alcoholic in my life was not in recovery and was not behaving normally AT ALL, and then I was gently encouraged to seek a source of strength outside myself and look to it for guidance, since I was in such a morass of misplaced guilt and tangled confusion. But, you know.

    I was such a mess and in so much pain that I was really willing to do hardcore Al-Anon, pray on my knees every morning, make the bed, do the Next Right Thing, just to get through the day without feeling like my chest was being crushed. And for me, it worked. I never felt I was being told there was something wrong with me. Instead I heard people telling MY story, over and over, and I gradually came to feel less alone and less miserable. I have 2 years in Al-Anon July 4th, and can honestly say I couldn't have gotten through the separation and then breakup with the addict in my life without it--and without my sponsor's affection and guidance through the steps.

    Because what I couldn't deny was that I was continuing to be drawn to someone who was really, really, unhealthy for me to be around. YMMV.

    I totally agree about S-Anon/COSA, though. I attended both for a while, and just felt that either as you said, there wasn't anyone available to sponsor who had actually done the stepwork, or that the other women in the group had male partners in RECOVERY; and mine chose not to be in recovery. But I felt so lonely and so crazy in the funhouse-mirror world of my relationship, where I was repeatedly told that everything was okay even though I could tell it wasn't--that I just really needed the fellowship of other people who have had alcoholics play head-games with them, and survived to laugh about it.

    I don't know if any of this makes sense; I hope you can feel the great affection and respect I have for you in every word, though. ♥

  4. RJ, I know. I hear this so often, and the reason I keep circling this wagon is because I WANT meetings to work for me. I want to walk in there and find that person that's going to be my kick-ass guide in recovery -- someone who's going to be able to help me sort out his shit from my shit, grab me by the front of the shirt and make me see what I can't for the life of me see.

    It's not like I don't go to any, I just go sporadically, and not even when I'm on the floor bleeding my soul out through my pores, but rather when I'm feeling like I SHOULD be going to a meeting. But, in honor of our friendship, I'm going to a meeting tomorrow. I'm going to a meeting a day so long as I have access to a car at the right time. Say a little prayer for me that I'll find my 12-step advisor, and that she's as kick-ass as ever a sponsor was.

  5. Bless your heart! Prayers being said. I do hope you find the right meeting for you. I tried so many before I found my home group—walked in and they were replacing "Him/His" with gender-neutral "God" in the recitation of the 12 steps—then they had a group conscience about not saying the Lord's Prayer at the end, but repeating the Serenity Prayer. I knew immediately they would be my people, and no one would judge me for not being a Christian.

    It took about six months and two wrong steps before I found my sponsor, too. But I still remember things my first two (very Christian) sponsors told me, so even there I was learning.

    I just read this and feel the uncomfortable truth of it ringing down into my bones:

    I hope Sunday is a good one, for you today. (((hug)))

  6. I've been going to S-anon for a little over a month. I feel so lucky to have found the group that I did because after the end of the first meeting I felt very embraced. There have been some meetings that were better than others and I have mentally rebelled against some of the principles but then when I calm down and mull it over a while I can see the benefit. The wording in step 4 still bothers me but I spoke with a friend who has been doing al-anon along time and he put it into a better context for me...

    Anyway, you've probably done this but maybe trying a few different groups would be beneficial. A lot of how helpful a group is depends on its dynamic.

    Sometimes I feel frustrated with the resources I've come across because I've chosen to become seperated from my SA spouse. It seems the majority of the folks working the programs are staying with the addict. At times I feel like an outsider on the path...

    Anyway. Blessings to you in your personal journey. I'm new to your blog and will definately be attempting to catch up on your writing.


  7. Thanks G.G. I do go to several different meetings but there is only one s-anon meeting, and it's not very good. I also attend al-anon since there is alcoholism present too.

    I'm glad to hear that your meeting is going well. I wish you luck. :)