Tuesday, March 12, 2013

If I Didn't Have You

via blogs.babble.com
Working the steps daily has been a game-changer for me.  I'm seeing more progress in the past few weeks than I have in a long time.

I've been dealing with a porn addiction in my marriage for 8 years now. 

It wasn't until 2 years ago that I realized I was co-dependent, and I thought I was co-dependent BECAUSE of my husband's addiction, and I resented him for it for a long time.

But as I reached my Step 4 and began writing an inventory, past experiences began to resurface at random times: just as I was getting into bed one night, I suddenly remembered something I hadn't thought about for YEARS.
When I was in grade school (second grade?  third grade?) I ate lunch with a girl named Amber.  One day we sat next to another girl, Mandy.  Mandy had a Little Debbie Fudge Round.  It looked so good -much better than whatever dessert my mom had packed for me. 
Mandy got up to go to the bathroom.
"Take it," Amber had said.
I didn't want to.  I mean, I wanted the dessert, but I knew it wasn't mine to eat.
"Take it, just take it," Amber said.
So I did.
We split it and ate it really fast before Mandy could get back... and it was the by far the WORST tasting dessert I've ever had.  I munched on a combination of guilt and chocolate.
Mandy asked us what had happened to her dessert, and we shrugged.
"I dunno..."

I never told her the truth.
I never stole anything after that.

The thing is: I care more about what other people think of me than I do what GOD thinks of me.  I FEAR others more.

I let go of my Step 4 inventory for a long time.  As I did, things would come to me every once in a while, and now that it's time for me to start Step 4 again, I feel a little more prepared.  I feel like I have more direction.

And I realize something monumental: I NEED RECOVERY from my co-dependency... not because my husband has a porn/sex/lust addiction but because I have issues -I've had them for most of my life!

In high school, I only dated guys that needed saving in some kind of way.  And you know what they say... you marry you who date.
I once dated a guy who needed a research paper written for him.  I was at the top of my English class and had turned in a 10-page research paper with a fat 100% at the top of the page.  He was a transfer student who turned in a 1-page research paper... a bullet-pointed list of facts and a fat F at the top of the page.
Our English teacher paired us together, and she asked me to please tutor him.  We spent hours together, hours in the library, hours at my house, a few hours at his... and I got to control the situation.  I was able to SAVE him from certain failure.
And you know what?  One afternoon when we were working together, he checked his email and his inbox was stock FULL of porn... not just the spam kind.  He tried to cover the screen.
We ended up dating for one week (Thursday to Thursday), and after I broke up with him he actually came into the mom and pop pizza shop I worked at and asking me to please date him again.
"You can help me," he said, "I need help and you can help me."
Something in my gut SCREAMED to get the heck away -jump ship!  and I listened.
"I need to help myself right now," I said.
He scoffed.  "With what?  You've got it all together."
"I'm applying to colleges.  I'm earning money to pay my own way through school.  I've got a million extra-curricular activities, and I need to focus on ME."
My boss asked him to leave.

Thank goodness I listened to my gut on that one.

I realize now -for the first time ever -that I was bound to marry someone who needed saving, even if I wasn't aware of it.
I have asked the Lord so many times, "Why did you LET me marry an addict?"
I see it now as a tender mercy.

Without my husband's addiction, I would have probably never realized the extent of my co-dependency -I would have never gotten any kind of recovery.
(or maybe I would have in a different way -a more painful way)
I would have spent my entire life fearing others more than God, trying to FIX everyone and everything, trying to CONTROL others and their situations in life.
I would have forever tried to be the wrong kind of perfect.

And I know now... I SEE now that if I would have divorced my husband two years ago when I was tempted to, I would have walked right into another "saving" relationship because I hadn't worked to find any kind of recovery for myself.
In the frame of mind I was in two years ago, my HUSBAND was the one with the problems and he was also THE problem... the problem that needed fixed, controlled, saved.

Now I've dropped the idea.  I've let go of him.  I've got bigger fish to fry.
I'm a friggin' mess.
And so I say to my husband as I did to Ryan in the pizza shop all those years ago, "I need to focus on ME right now."
That way if my husband decides against recovery or he dies (which cops sometimes do, but heaven forbid...) then I will be okay on my own. 

Thank goodness for my husband.  I shudder to think of the many relationships I could have ended up in that could have been far worse.

Thank goodness for addiction.
Thank goodness for recovery.

Thank goodness for the Atonement.
Thank goodness for love.


  1. Thank you for this post! I have had so many similar feelings lately.

    I especially liked this part...."Thank goodness for my husband. I shudder to think of the many relationships I could have ended up in that could have been far worse."

    Yah, it stinks that my husband is addicted to pornography, but I am grateful that I have HIM and not a worse situation. I am grateful that we were paired together. His problem has helped me to see MINE and how much I need my Savior.

    1. It's hard, isn't it? This is all hard. But it's amazing to see things with more clarity, and it makes it all worth it!

  2. I did an inventory in October...typed the whole thing up, like 20 stinkin' pages and I felt sick, not that I did horrible things. I just was a little brat to friends, family, and boyfriends. Then my computer crashed and I lost the whole thing, before I could show it to anyone and work through it. My husband seems to think it's a blessing from God to have lost it. I am not so sure!

    Reading about your friends experience helped me realize my co-dependency had caused so many of my fall outs with friends. I never thought about it until now, but I am seriously a control freak. I am clearly seeing it for the first time. I also see it happening in my youngest daughter. Ugh!!

    Oh an boyfriends, geez...I dated two guys in high school, best friends. Guess what? They needed fixing! They both had father's that split because of affairs. What the heck, I didn't see my obsession with trying to fix them was co-dependency until I read your post.

    Step 4 is approaching for me again in a month. I am glad I have some time to think on it and this time as an addict instead of a WOPA.

    Thanks Alicia! I needed to read this today. I always gain new insights from your posts. Love you:)

    1. Good luck with your step 4!

      Isn't it interesting to notice patterns in ourselves and see them coming out in our kiddos? I'm so grateful for recovery.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Love this post. I am just now coming around to face the term co-dependency and how it applies to me. I haven't been working the 12 steps at all.
    Until recently, the "friggin' mess" I'm in has been all about my husband. It's certainly time for me to cut ties with my old friend, denial :) These may be the silliest questions ever, I feel like it's something I should just know, but I don't, so... when you work the 12 steps for yourself, do you work them as an addict and work on healing seperately? Do you find healing through working the 12 steps and then work them again for co-dependency?
    I really want to graft the program into my life, but am just not sure how I go about doing that. It sounds like you have experience with really working the steps. I would greatly appreciate any advice you might have!

    1. No such thing as silly questions -no such thing! Always reach out and ask if there's something you'd like to ask... recovery can be intimidating.
      The first time I starting working the 12 steps, it was all about my healing from my husband's problem. When I got to Step 4, I got stuck because I couldn't pin point any behavior problems or patterns that I had -only ones that my husband had. I got overwhelmed and confused, and I just went back to Step 1. Through working through them again, I'm in a different place, healing wise. So now I can go through step 4 for issues I can see that I have that I didn't see before.
      I was too wrapped up in my husband's issues before -which I think is pretty standard. I didn't even realize how wrapped up I was in his stuff, how much it was affecting me until I was able to detach. Detaching was hard and took more time than anything else.
      So now I'm going through the 12 steps to work on me and my co-dependency. I'd like to use them later to tackle my sugar addiction, but one thing at a time :)

      I've never made it to Step 5 or beyond, so this is new territory for me.

      I hope I made sense. If not, shoot me an email at brabadges@hotmail.com

      You're awesome, by the way. I read your blog a few days ago and didn't have time to comment but I felt an instant love for you and what you're going through.

      Oh, and before I end this long comment... the first time I started working the steps it was with an earlier version of the Healing Through Christ manual that isn't nearly as awesome as the one that is available now. The one that is available now is so easy to digest! It's more approachable, more readable, more applicable... I love it. It makes everything so clear.

  5. I always wonder what the heck was in the comment "removed by the author" ....
    anyway- that's not what I wanted to write....

    After our latest D-day, I went on a Girls' Weekend with one of my best friends to Vegas (Girls' Weekend- Great Idea, Vegas Locale- Poor, Poor Idea...)

    Anyway, again, she was telling me about all of the friends she had that were on their second marriage due to divorce. All of the first divorces began with pornography addiction. (some escalated, some just never fixed...) and these women were on their second marriage. My friend said that it was interesting that all of these other friends had admitted to her, individually, that even though the issues of their first marriages were NOT in their second marriage, the second marriage came with issues of their own. It's like they traded one problem for another. I was only like 2 to 3 weeks post D-Day, so this really stuck with me. We are all here on earth because we are flawed, in some way, and just trying to learn and find our way back to Him. Even if you hadn't married someone who needed "fixing", you would have married someone flawed in some way with a different set of problems.

    What we have to decide is, Is This A Marriage Worth Working For? Is this a problem we can overcome? Is this the challenge I want to fight? Hoping for a life without a fight just isn't possible, so we have to decide if this is one we are willing to fight.

    Right now, today, I choose yes. This is a man I want to fight for. This is a marriage I want to fight for. This is a life I want to fight for.

    1. I like this bit a lot: "Hoping for a life without a fight just isn't possible, so we have to decide if this is one we are willing to fight." Thanks!

    2. I'm so grateful for recovery. I know I said that already, but gosh... it means so much to me. I hate that it came by way of a spouse's pornography addiction, but I'm grateful that it came just the same. I'm learning so much, and it isn't easy, but it is worth it. I don't have to fear a second marriage (whether it happens or not) and I don't have to fear the future anymore.
      What a blessing.

  6. Ooooo, I love this! I love the realization that it isn't because of my husband's addiction that I have my co-dependent or other issues - they are actually issues I already had, I just didn't know it. It's so strange how, over time and with healing, something that once felt so horrific and depressing is actually a catalyst for the greatest positive growth in ME (not necessarily my husband or my marriage).

    I also love this: "I would have forever tried to be the wrong kind of perfect."

    Thanks for sharing Alicia!

    1. YES! Yes, you're so right. And I love your post today. I'm reading it so slowly so that I can digest it.

      You're so great.

  7. Love this post....I agree 100%! I have no doubt if I were to divorce and remarry I would just be trading one set of problems for another and I much prefer the "known" to the "unknown". Also, the 12 step program has been sooo humbling for me...I have felt nothing but compassion towards my husband, once I was awakened to how imperfect I am!!!

    1. I just did my Step 4 inventory and found an entire LIST of things that I have condemned my husband for in MYSELF. AH! Humble Pie for dinner tonight.