Monday, March 11, 2013

What Can I Do?

Less than a week ago, I got a book in the mail... a book about Pornography and Sexual Addiction.

****side note: thank goodness things aren't mailed in clear packages... our small town post master would know WAY too much about all of us.****

I couldn't tear into the book right away, but when I could, I TORE.  I dove.  I sat down with my baby and a thick blanket.  In one day, I'd read about half of the book.  The next day was cold and rainy.  My daughter went to school, I put my son in front of cartoon and my baby down for a nap, and I read in bed while the rain fell.
It was pure bliss -seriously.

****side note: it's amazing to me what qualifies as "pure bliss" now.  A few years ago, reading a book about sexual addiction wouldn't exactly put me over the moon.****

The book is titled, "What Can I Do About Him Me?" and the author, Rhyll Anne Croshaw, warns her readers in the beginning that the book could trigger feelings.  And she was right.  I had to close the book a few times because I was overwhelmed with feelings. 
I cried a few times.
I smiled a few times.
I sighed a lot.

I've only ever read one book about pornography/sex addiction before.  It was From Heartache to Healing by Colleen Harrison.  I have recommended that book time and time again.  It was my ladder out of rock bottom.

What I wouldn't have given to have this book as well.

It is clear, organized, concise -it gives rightly-placed hope... hope in YOU rather than hope in someone else.
For years, I invested my happiness in my husband's choices.  I hoped he would choose to read his scriptures when I wanted him to.  I hoped he would choose to pray every morning and night as I had felt he should.  I hoped he would quit looking at porn, connect with me emotionally, show empathy, love me the way I wanted to be loved, make me happy...

Rhyll gently, lovingly, honestly, and knowingly takes us by the hand and leads us away from this kind of thinking. 
She doesn't lecture.
She validates.
She doesn't cater to victim-thinking.
She understands.

It's a beautiful ride of a read.

It's the kind of book you buy 5 copies of and give them to the Bishop.  Why?
Because Rhyll has DONE it!  She has successfully breached the grounds of silence -she has broken the bonds of shame.  She has brought us into her kitchen with her and, through one-sided conversation, taught us how to take care of our neglected selves... without us actually having to SEE anyone or LEAVE the house or TALK to anyone.
The fear of talking about the pain going on in my home, life, and soul is just too shameful to admit to anyone... but reading a book sent to me in a covered package?  THAT I can do.

Realizing I couldn't control my husband's painful behavior made me feel powerless.
But reading Rhyll's words reminded me that although I can not control HIM, I can control myself and in so doing will find a different, greater kind of power... the power that comes from Diety.

One of the greatest tools I have taken from the book is a practice Rhyll and her husband took from Brene Brown: Vowel Check-in.
The Vowel Check-in uses all the vowels in a great easy-to-remember and well-covered check-in... I'm finding that it works great as a check-in with my Heavenly Father each night.

A) Was I abstinent today?  (For me, this means did I refrain from indulging in my addiction to try and control -not just my husband but others and situations as well?  Did I remain free from the fear that has controlled me in the past?)
E) Did I exercise today?
I) What did I do for myself today?
O) What did I do for others today?
U) Do I have any unexpressed emotions that need to come out?
Y) What was the "yay" for today?  What good things came my way?

A few nights ago, I found myself walking on eggshells with my husband.  I could tell he was cycling, and it helped me to detach.  We were planning on watching a movie together, and it felt really good to have the strength to say, "I don't want to watch a movie with you like this.  I know we've planned this night for a while, but I'd rather put it off than go through it like this.  You've been emotionally disconnected for a few days, and I was hoping tonight we could reconnect.  I've missed you.  I want to SEE you, but I can't.  You're not here.  Why don't you go do what you need to do to take care of whatever is going on with you right now?  We can watch the movie another time when we can enjoy each other."
He gave a few reasons as to why he was feeling so touchy -which were all true, I'm sure -but none were the ROOT of what he was feeling.
So I pulled the vowels out, and after about an hour and half, we had connected emotionally.  He admitted he'd been having a hard time fighting lust -though he hadn't acted out -and that he hated telling me about it because it made him feel like dirt.

But it's strange.  When he opens up and is honest with me about the details of his day, the little fights he had with lusts (even if he felt like it was a battle lost) are welcome sounds to my ears.  He tells me he noticed another woman, and he waits to see the hurt and pain in my eyes... but all I hear is HONESTY and it's so refreshing and wonderful and revealing that there's no room for hurt.  Not anymore.
I feel like each time he opens up to me, I peel off a piece of his hard covering and get a glimpse into the real, raw, vulnerable HIM and it's breathtaking.
He's an amazing man.

I haven't checked in with him using the vowels since then, but they were a great tool for that moment.  I don't want to force the check in on him every night.  If he'd like to check in, he can.  But I've found myself being more aware of ME as I go throughout my day, knowing that tonight I'll have my Father in Heaven to answer to.

Bottom line: if YOU are hurting, no matter the cause, no matter if you feel it is someone else's problem, no matter what: if YOU hare hurting, YOU need healing.
Rhyll shines a flashlight down the intimidating tunnel of recovery. 

A richer life is waiting...

****side note: I recommend this book to people currently in recovery from sexual addiction as well.  It will give you some great, real insights without shaming.****


  1. I needed to hear what you had to say today, Alicia. Especially that part about opening up to my wife with my little struggles. I read the book. It's really great! I did the aeiouy with my wife at lunch today! She has agreed to read my blogs. She might even do a guest post! We'll see.

    1. I would love to hear from your wife. Really. I feel such an insta-connect with women who are married to men who are working toward recovery and trying.

  2. We LOVE her vowel check in! We do it every night (my husband is the instigator).

    Although- we have added and "s" to the end- it's for "Spirit". As in, "Have you felt the Spirit today?" It is the must vowel. We can't go to bed without answering 'yes' to feeling the Spirit, in some way, in our life that day.

    I LOVE her book. She is an amazing person with an inspiring story!

    1. An S... that's so fun. I love taking recovery tools and making them our own -putting our own little stamp on them :)

  3. I also just finished Rhyll's book and LOVED it! I found myself having to restrain the highlighter in my hand as I read. Her book has been one of the most validating and insightful pieces of literature I've read. I feel like I am just now beginning to honestly work on my own recovery. I'm excited to read "From Heartache to Healing." Thanks for the recommendation!