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Each post on this blog is a little snapshot of my thoughts, feelings, emotions, decisions… it’s glimpses into my life as raw and unfiltered as I can write them out.  I don’t always have the right words to properly express myself but I try.  I’ve spent most of my life stuffing my feelings and emotions in a bottle and putting them up on a shelf because “nobody got time for that” so now I’m not very good at identifying how I feel, much less knowing how to deal with those feelings, which is one of the big reasons that this blog is pretty much anonymous – I think I’ve only invited a couple of people who know me to read it and if you do know me please don’t tell anybody my secret identity, lol!  This is how I sort things out in my head and in my heart, by writing them down and mulling them over, and over, and over…

If you’re reading this and it doesn’t make sense normally I would say that you’re just going to have to wade through the last two years of posts although I suppose after this amount of time it’s worth summarizing – OK, here goes:

I’m in my 40’s, married for 20 years with two kids – one is barely a legal adult and the other 6 weeks away from being a legal adult.  Thanks to my upbringing and then marrying a man who treated me the same way I was treated while growing up I never believed I had any real value as a human being until about two years ago when something changed.

I can’t tell you exactly what it was that gave way inside of me  – I had gone to a few years of counseling but all the counselors I had didn’t give me any solutions, they just said that I was doing great and they didn’t know why I was going to see them so I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it.  I had been on anti-depressants for a couple of years by then but I was actually getting worse, more depressed and more suicidal so I don’t think that was it either.  About that same time I started to have concerns about the church that we were attending and I brought those concerns to both my husband and the pastor’s attentions – nothing happened and I sank further into my depression.  But somehow, something snapped almost 24 months ago and I started this journey of becoming bolder, stronger and brave.  I dared to believe that I just might even be beautiful.

The first thing I did was to give my husband an ultimatum to quit his pornography addiction “or else”.  In February that will have been two years ago.  I didn’t specifically state what the “or else” would be but it was going to start with separation and go from there.  I let him talk me out of separating that night because I honestly didn’t think that he would be able to quit but he surprised me.  Almost two years later he has not only kicked his addiction but he has been instrumental in starting a men’s purity group at his church and is co-leading it, helping other men in their fight against pornography. He has also worked very hard to become a nicer person, a better husband and a more involved father.  I have both noticed these things and told him, repeatedly, that I am proud of him for all the changes he’s made but we can both tell that it’s a “That’s nice” kind of proud of him.

I should be bursting with pride.  Why aren’t I?

I guess I feel like it’s a day late and a dollar short.

About nine months ago I started seeing a new counselor and she made a difference in my life.  The reason I went to her was because I didn’t like sex.  My husband fully endorsed my going to a counselor for this reason but I think he soon came to regret supporting me in that manner.  What she actually helped me with was opening my eyes to see that I was in an abusive relationship.  There was no physical abuse going on but nearly every other kind of abuse was present.  Had I been physically abused, i.e. beat up, I would have left a long time ago but mental and emotional abuse are “invisible” and “don’t really count” in the Christian church today and there seems to be no such thing as sexual abuse between a husband and a wife.  In America, and as far as I know in the world at large, sexual abuse within marriage is barely recognized and rarely addressed but in the church the subject is completely taboo.  My counselor told me that being manipulated, coerced or guilt-tripped into having sex when you don’t want to is sexual abuse.  Who knew?  I thought that the only thing “sexual abuse” meant was that you were raped or forced into giving oral sex against your will.  Being a good, submissive Christian wife I stayed married because it was “the right thing to do” and that kept me in a miserable relationship for 20 years believing that by doing so I was pleasing God.

It got to the point that I was considering changing my faith – or abandoning it completely – in order to leave the church we were and get him to divorce me.  I considered suicide many times because I thought it would be easier than divorce and I had become crazy enough that somehow I thought suicide might even be a spiritual solution because it would fulfill the “till death do us part” vow I made.  Yes, I’ve been messed up in the head for a long, long time now…

Ultimately, in an act of abnormal bravery, I left that particular church without him.  Aside from a couple months of extra stress immediately after that decision our life has returned to “normal” –  we just don’t talk about the fact that he is still attending that church and I have been trying out other local churches to see where I will fit the best.  Now the only real decision I have left is do I stay married or not?  I honestly don’t want to be anybody’s wife ever at this point but I’m not sure leaving is the right thing to do either, I’m in a quandary.  I have begged God to change my heart and make me fall in love with this man that I’ve never had any kind of passion for and yet he’s made so many changes to please me.  I have pleaded with God to make me enjoy sex.  And yet for 20 years nothing has changed in my heart – or my with hormones either for that matter.  It actually makes me understand homosexuals a little better – I can’t change it no matter how hard I try so maybe God made me this way.

And that’s where I’m at right now.  This is really real life – my life.  I have a big decision to make, do I stay or do I go?  I’m not going to rush this choice though, I want to be sure that if I leave I have done everything I could have possibly done to make it work.  If I leave I don’t want to have any regrets that I didn’t explore every option or try hard enough.  If I stay it will be because I chose to stay and not because I felt obligated to stay.  I’m going to  make this choice, probably within the next 6 months, and be comfortable with my final decision.

Stay tuned…

Twice now I’ve gone with my husband to his bi-weekly counselor appointment.  Very, very interesting…

This man specializes in counseling people with addictive behaviors, was probably in his 60’s, had bright and interesting tattoos peeking out from the edges of his clothing and wore very casual clothing with short, unkept hair and scruffy facial hair.

For the first session his questions were direct and to the point, no beating around the bush and while he didn’t give us anything “new” to do or think about he facilitated our speaking out loud things that we don’t normally say to each other, mostly good things but also some not-so-good.

My husband became more and more nervous on the drive there, and during the session his body language was shouting loud and clear that he was not comfortable at all, although I have to give him Kudos for going through with it because I could see how difficult it was for him to have me there.  He sat on the other side of the couch from me with his arms crossed for probably 45 minutes.  During the last 15 minutes he uncrossed his arms from over his chest and crossed them lower, over his abdomen.

The entire ride home my husband was focused on one tiny statement that I had made somewhere in the middle of the counseling session and I wonder if he really heard anything else that was said after it.  The counselor asked me if I had been ready to leave our relationship and I said yes, about a couple of weeks ago I was right on the edge.  So, of course, that was all my husband could think about.  Two weeks ago you were ready to leave me and I didn’t know – how can I trust you to stay now?

By this point I’m about ready to smack him but I just keep thinking, there is a paranoid, fearful little 7th grade boy inside my 41-year-old husband’s body who just found out (after the fact) that his “girlfriend” wanted to break up with him but didn’t.  All the pain and anguish of an actual break-up (that never happened) is now coursing through his mind and body just by thinking about it.  (Yes, I was a junior higher in love once upon a time too…)  To him it’s real, it’s as good as it happened so how does he know that it’s not going to happen again?

“You are just going to have to trust me.”  I say.  “We’ll have been married 19 years this next month and I haven’t left you yet so you are just going to have to decide if you will trust me or not.  If you decide you can’t trust me you will drive yourself crazy and our marriage will be over anyway so you choose.”

Fortunately(?) he decided to trust me, for now.  In the past he has been quick to bring up the past and hold it against me but I have seen a lot of improvement in the last four months or so all I can do is wait and see…

Maybe my reason for existence has nothing to do with myself, maybe I am here on this earth to help this man grow up and God knew it would take my entire life to do so.  That’s a somewhat depressing thought but if even a little, teeny part of that is true then I need to follow my calling because that is where my happiness lies.

We went to our second joint counseling session this last week.  There was a lot more non-essential conversation this time than last time and he most asked us things about what have we been doing to communicate better and what has my husband been doing to get over his addiction and how do I feel about it, stuff like that.  I don’t know that we accomplished a lot but my husband was much more relaxed this session than he was the last one and we decided to continue with this counselor on a once-a-month basis instead of the two weeks we had been going.

Our goal is to find a couple at church that would be willing to meet with us once a months also so we have a balance of godly counseling along with a very worldly but professional trained counselor.  I don’t want to hear “get your relationship with God right” every single counseling session and never ever get into the nuts and bolts of what is wrong between my husband and I.  Yes, my relationship with God needs to be better and so does his but I think there needs also to be some practical, applicable advice to our day-to-day relationship along with the godly counsel of developing our own, separate relationships with God.

Overall things are looking better between us and I am pleased.  There is hope at the end of the tunnel and we may be in the midst of a miracle after all!

Yesterday morning I sat up in bed as my husband was sitting across the room putting his shoes on.  He had been withdrawn and grumpy for the last few days so, in my never-ending quest to become bolder, I simply said the words:  “Are you upset with me?”  I’m so brave, I know…

He paused and then we had a conversation where he told me:
1.  His addiction wasn’t really an addiction, it was just his attempts at filling a “hole” in his life of something he was missing and he only accepted 50% responsibility for this “hole”, the rest was my fault.
2.  He didn’t think I was a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him but he couldn’t prove it because he didn’t know any scriptures to back it up with.
3.  He couldn’t believe that there was never any “attraction” between us because why else would we have stayed married all these years (almost 19) if we weren’t attracted to each other?

I felt he was angry and speaking from his heart, finally saying how he really felt so I very calmly asked some questions to clarify his statement until I was satisfied I knew what he was saying.  Be proud of me, that took A LOT of effort, just sayin’.

I rode the bus to work and started writing him a letter which I finished on a break later in the day.  I wrote about how he had brought pornography into our marriage right from the start and after just a few years we were convicted that it was wrong so “we” stopped viewing pornographic materials.  (It always made me feel so yucky inside, it wasn’t very hard for me to stop.)  I felt like I was writing with “righteous anger” and the words just poured onto the page.  I refused to accept responsibility for any percentage of this “hole” in his life that was clearly there long before I ever met him and I informed him that yes, indeed, he had an addiction and needed to admit it and defeat it.  I concluded my handwritten, 9-page letter (on 6″ x 8″ paper) by saying there were plenty of $500/month apartments near where he worked and he should go get one and be gone from our house for a minimum of one year.

My anger has changed over the years, I used to withdraw and “turtle up” until it was safe to come out again.  In my quest to “find myself” I have become a warrior, hard as a diamond and cold as the Arctic.  Don’t mess with me, I will not be your doormat anymore.

So after work I go home and immediately have a phone situation to deal with.  Almost 2 hours later I have solved one of our two problems and am sitting in the easy chair, playing Farmville2 on my laptop while my husband is sitting on the couch next to me, watching a show and reading a book, acting like everything was fine and dandy.

I have not given him the letter, wanting to write it up neatly because it was a rough draft with things crossed out and what not.  I am trying to keep my face neutral to stern, hoping he will notice and ask me what’s wrong…

It finally becomes obvious that he is not operating under the belief that our morning talk had an impact on our relationship so I finally asked him if he had any other thoughts regarding our conversation that morning.

He put his book down, sighed and said that obviously I had some thoughts about our conversation so why don’t I share them?

We wound up having a good, open, honest talk.  Maintaining my austere aloofness I asked him, point-blank if he still thought I was an Ungodly Wife and if he still believed he didn’t have an addiction.

It immediately became clear that just as I shouldn’t have any serious talks at night after I’ve taken my sleeping pills, he shouldn’t have any serious talks first thing in the morning, despite his belief that he is a morning person…

I put my newly-found sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness on while he did most of the talking and realized four very important things:
1.  My husband has absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever.  The self-talk that goes on inside his head is so cruel and negative – he almost cried while talking about it and if I wasn’t in Xena Princess Warrior mode I would have cried too, it’s horrible to imagine anybody living with that.
2.  My husband has the emotional maturity of an 8-year-old.  Seriously.  Sticks and stones can break his bones but words and dark glances will kill him.
3.  My husband is not a good communicator.  He uses words that I associate with completely different things than he does.  For example when he said I wasn’t a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him I immediately thought “sex”.  He meant something more along the lines of “respect” and wanting to spend time with him… and so on.  Most likely I’m so weary of having sex all the time that I’m on the defensive, hearing and seeing “suggestiveness” in everything he says and does.  But still, what he means is not what is usually communicated to me.
4.  My husband is probably depressed and should be on medication.  He actually said the first part – that he wonders if he’s depressed.  I said let’s go to the doctor and he immediately resisted, claiming it was embarrassing enough to be going to a counselor.  I have quite a bit of Prozac left over from when my doctor switched me to another medicine so I suggested he start taking that (yes, I know, all kinds of wrong and illegal) and if after a month he felt better, then he could go to the doctor and get his own prescription and if he didn’t feel better he could stop taking them.  He said he doesn’t want to be stuck taking pills for the rest of his life…. ugh!  (This one I will win, he just doesn’t know it yet.)

So, to sum it all up, for almost 20 we’ve pretty much had the exact same needs – to be appreciated and loved/respected for who we are – but we’ve been speaking totally different languages and had completely unreasonable, and entirely unspoken, expectations regarding the other.  That, right there, changes everything…  I decide to hold off on giving him the letter.

I grew up with no self-esteem.  I started to recognize that fact it in my 20’s and have been actively working on believing that I have value for the last 10 years.  I never imagined guys would have this problem too, and especially not my macho, controlling, selfish, easily angered husband.  I had actually thought he esteemed himself too highly for all these years, if you want my honest opinion.  But last night he was broken before me, poured wide open in emotional honesty for possibly the first time in his life.

This changes the way I will talk to him – I will use simpler communication not expect him to react like a mature adult.  I will give him more encouragement and praise and ask the girls to do the same.  I will (quietly) ask men at church to encourage him and build him up.  I will wait another year to see if he improves and re-evaluate life at that time.  If he is playing me, and I’m sure some of my friends will think he is, then a year is ample time to prove himself to me one way or another.

My eyes are wide open and my heart is still going to be guarded but last night, in just a few moments of listening and hearing what he was saying, everything changed.

So I’m normally a very non-confrontational person but after writing my blog yesterday I was so upset that I confronted him on a few of the topics that bothered me the most.

Number one was me feeling like I did not have the right to say no to his sexual affection and what on earth happened to all the non-sexual affection we agreed on for this two month period that ends in a couple of weeks?

Number two was that if he wasn’t getting advice from anyone on how to treat me right why the <bad, bad words> did he wait until I said I was leaving his bed to pull out the manual on “How to be a Good Husband”, dust it off and put it into practice?  That, I think, is what upsets me the most – the fact that as far as I can tell he didn’t think that I was worth being nice to until I tried to move out of the bedroom.  And I never said divorce, I didn’t even say that he had to move out or leave the house, I just said I was going to move into the guest room and he was going to have to work on his sexual addiction and prove to me there was major progress in his life before I would sleep with him again.  But apparently that’s all it took for Prince Charming to come out of wherever he had buried him for the last 20 years – the thought that he would be cut off from his daily dose of sex.  Ugh.

Number three was the way he kept phrasing that whole “I’m letting you have more control in our relationship right now but…”

My husband has a silver tongue and while answering my questions last night he was very convincing that he was trying hard to change his ways and we’re both still getting used to the big, new changes in our relationship, and he didn’t mean the “control” statement the way I took it… blah, blah, blah…

I still don’t see that his heart has really changed – but to be fair he is putting quite a bit of effort into changing his words and actions towards me so Kudos to him for that.  His efforts do touch my heart but in more of a sad way because I know the outward changes will never last without inward changes and he has to want his heart to change regardless of whether our relationship survives this year or not.  I’d like him a whole lot more if he was pursuing living a holy lifestyle for his own sake instead of pursuing me for a sex “fix” (and so that he doesn’t have to be the first person in his family to get a divorce, now there’s a stigma that his immediate family would never let him live down.)

I left him tonight.  That feels really good to say, actually, but it’s not a permanent thing and yes, I did get his permission.  I am spending the night at a friend’s house tonight (Saturday) and am not going to church with my family tomorrow (Sunday).  He wants me back home at noon… why you ask?  Because I did, I asked why.  Especially since he and the girls won’t be home from church until closer to 1 pm.  Do you sense an ulterior motive here?  I did because yes indeedy, the reason he wants me home at noon is so I can have lunch ready for them when they walk in the door from church.  I feel like he’s trying to punish me for not going to church with him or maybe it’s that he couldn’t contain the control freak any longer – or possibly it’s a bit of both…  So yes Master, I will do my best to have lunch on the table when you get home tomorrow.

I’d like to buy a bucket of KFC and just leave it on the counter for when they get home and be out shopping myself because I really don’t want to be there spending time with him.  Why else do you think I asked for a schedule at work that keeps me out of the house until almost 7 pm Tues – Friday?  That particular schedule means that I don’t have to be home with my disapproving husband and ungrateful children for any longer than necessary before bedtime.

Me, me, me, me.  I realize that everything I write makes him look like a terrible, horrible guy and I’m the total victim with no faults of my own and that’s not entirely accurate.  (I know, shocking, isn’t it!)  I have areas where I’m not a great wife/mother/friend/person either.  Yes, sad but true.  And to be completely fair you’re only getting one side of the story so it obviously can’t be 100% his fault.  (But honestly, you keep choosing to come back and read about my life – so maybe you or someone you know deals with this stuff too???)

I’ve felt like a victim my entire life and now that I’m finally acknowledging and dealing with that particular issue – and trying to STOP being a victim – I’m realizing that I married a male version of my paranoid, control-freak mother.  I’m now terrified that my girls will marry a man like their father and then I’ll get to watch them re-live my lonely, heart-breaking life, and I’ll watch their children re-live it… it’s the saddest story ever told and it’s played out in thousands of people’s lives in America every day… but the thought of my girls, My Girls, living through what I’ve survived, well, that just destroys me.  Even though my girls are ungrateful as all get-out and extremely self-centered I don’t want them to have to live through a marriage like mine.  I don’t even want you – whoever you are – to have to live through a marriage like mine.  It’s not worth it.

And that is why my constant prayer is “Save me, save me, save me…”  Because in saving me I know God will save my daughters as well.

WARNING – VERY CANDID MARRIAGE POST…

So over the last week or so my husband has said to me several times:  “I know I’m the head of the household but I’ve let you be more in charge (of our sex life) for this period of time (the 2 months I gave him to deal with his pornography addiction and to stop being controlling and selfish – I want to see that he’s put serious effort into changing his ways)”.  That statement he has made several times makes me think that he feels like he’s “giving” me control that is rightfully his and aint he such a grand guy for doing so…  And then just the other day he said it again but added this little gem to the end “but the day after this is over we’re going to have sex 8 times.”

I wanted to throw up.

And then he tried to say it was a joke – because he’s not a young man any more and the best he can manage is twice.

I just may take up drinking…

The next night I asked him for clarification on that statement and he came up with some gibberish about “now that I like it more” he expected we would be having sex more often than once a week (as per our current agreement) but less than we were before the two months (which was at least daily, sometimes twice).  I don’t like sex any more or less than I did before I confronted him on his addiction, which is to say I could take it or leave it and be perfectly happy either way for the rest of my life.

His heart is not changing, he’s become a wolf in sheep’s clothing to make me think that what I want is important to him too and that his addiction is not in control of him anymore.  My heart is changing.  I want this marriage to work less and less with each passing day.

The “official” Two Months ends April 6th, a mere 15 days away and the whole Prince Charming Act stopped approximately a week ago, which means he “changed” for about 5 weeks, breaking his previous record of being super nice for 3 weeks.  It was amazing while it lasted but the “I Love You’s” have almost dried completely, he rarely says it in person but he will still say it at the end of phone calls although it’s more of an afterthought now because he says “Goodbye. <pause>  I-love-you-goodbye.”

The non-sexual touching requirement started as long nightly back rubs (which were really nice) where he carefully avoided my girly areas and have now become much shorter back rubs followed by longer periods of sexual touching and then he says “We don’t have to unless you want to”.  Really?  You mean I actually have a choice after all of that?  He’s started coming into the shower with me, uninvited, so we can “soap each other up” and “spend time together”.  This morning I said no to a joint shower and he said “Well can we have sex then?”  He is still sooooooo addicted and has been trying very hard to fill that void with just seeing and touching me but it’s not working, I know where this is going – we’re headed right back to me being his blow-up doll and after that stops being enough he’ll be getting his jollies on the computer again.

He is still going to his addiction counselor but says it’s “not very helpful” and encourages me to stop going to my counselor since I’m not coming home with glowing reports of major change in my life after my sessions with her.  When I mentioned that after our 6 free sessions through the EAP were over that we should go marriage counseling together he was completely shocked and made it clear that he feels that we shouldn’t need counseling past our 6 free sessions, in fact, he isn’t sure he wants to complete the 6 free ones…

My counselor gave me a book about boundaries, it was from the 80’s and a quick easy read.  I read it and then gave it to him and he read it and said “This is anti-men and pro-feminist, why don’t you find a Christian book about this topic?”  So I went to the Christian bookstore and found “Boundaries in Marriage” by two Christian doctors – Dr Townsend(?) and Dr Cloud(?), and I read it on the bus commuting to work and it was excellent, very much based in scriptures and balanced in dealing with both men and women’s boundary issues.  After reading BIM I can totally see how I’ve never really had my own identity (they call it “boundaries” in the book) and it provides an amazing, Biblical explanation for the “Two shall become one” scripture.  The BIM book says that each person has to be a whole person in themselves, so we need “two-ness” before they can ever successfully “become one”.  I don’t think I’m putting it exactly right so please to read the book yourself but I tried to explain it to my husband this way “Because of the ‘two shall become one’ scripture I gave up being myself to be you when we got married because you are the head of the household and I thought that was what I was supposed to do.”  His response?  “No, you gave up yourself to become ‘us’, just as I gave up myself to become ‘us’.”  I was flabbergasted.  What on earth did he give up about being himself when we got married?

Now I’m just getting mad.

I gave him the BIM book to read so he reads the opening statement and then asks me in an angry sort of way “Are you having me read this because I need fixing or is this because we both need fixing?”  Wow.  The book helped me see how my upbringing has created me to be a person with very few, if any, boundaries – essentially I’ve been a giant doormat my whole life.  I told him this and that the book is helping me deal with me but I want him to read it for himself AND for us.  He says “OK, I guess I’m just a little paranoid, sorry.”  So he has the book but I never see him reading it…

Oh – to top everything off my eyelids have started twitching.  For about a month my left upper eyelid would contract randomly and just feel weird and just yesterday my right upper eyelid started doing the same thing.  I looked it up online and stress is listed as a possible cause of eyelid tics/twitches.  Wonderful.

Anyway, a miracle is still possible, I totally believe that because anything is possible with God, but if He’s going to do a miracle to fix my husband He’s also going to have to do a miracle to change my heart as well because I want less and less to be a part of this marriage as time goes by.  This isn’t worth it.