Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Taking it Personally

I didn't know about porn before I got married.  I mean, I knew OF porn.  I knew it was a thing out there in a galaxy far, far away.  But I had never seen it, not really.  When Danny told me he'd had issues with porn in the past, I figured it was no big deal because
1) Sex is a need for men.
2) Danny wasn't having sex.
3) I would have sex with Danny after we were married.

I didn't realize that Danny's porn stuff had NOTHING to do with me.  I thought I had Main Sway in his sexual actions and behavior... not in a controlling, manipulative way, but in a, "if I give him enough, everything will be fine" kind of way.
I believed sex was a duty as a wife.
When Danny began acting out soon after we were married, it took over my life.  I took it personally -VERY personally.
My life became sexualized in ways I never thought possible.

I worked out so I would be thin and sexually attractive for Danny.
I kept the house clean so Danny would be attracted to me.
I made big efforts to attract Danny to me with my cooking.

Life became a string of domestic, physical, emotional and social performances... all for Danny.  All to be seen, to be what I viewed as loved.
I believed SEX was the most important sign of love.

I've been reflecting heavily on this lately.
I went shopping on Saturday.  Shopping can be stressful because I worry about food costs, personal preparedness, and making sure I buy food that is actually GOOD and not CRAP.
I battle the shame that comes to me from living paycheck to paycheck.
I also battle children.  The first believes we need to buy EVERYTHING for EVERYONE in the world!  The second believes we need to buy LOTS OF THINGS for HIM.  And the third runs circles around the circus, throwing chocolate and small toys in the cart while I debate the real meaning of charity with my 8-year old and check "painkillers" off the list.

A few years ago, shopping was pretty similar except I objectified women.  I viewed them as THREATS.  I felt less than.  If a beautiful woman passed by me in produce, a began sizing her up... I set myself at odds with her.  I measured her perceived strengths with my own.  I battled shame, and it had the potential to take my serenity away at best and ruin my entire day at worst.
I would never be that tan.
I would never be that fit.
I would never look so beautiful.
I would never have half the grace she possessed.

As I've worked on recovery, I haven't necessarily focused on NOT objectifying women.  I've mostly just worked on trying to let God take the wheel, on remembering that I can live my own life -a life that includes Danny but is not lived FOR Danny. I've learned about my own worth.  I've read good books about God, and I've found God everyday -all around me.  And somewhere along the line, I started seeing God in others.

My life began to strip off sexualization and objectification.
As I went the freezer section on Saturday, a very beautiful woman stood nearby.  She was VERY beautiful.  Did I say that?  I had to stop and stare for a minute -and I felt longing.
But guess what I felt right after that?
"Oh, look -she's with her parents.  She's shopping for them, caring for them.  What a sweet daughter."

And then I FORGOT about her.
It was nice to be able to admire a physically beautiful person without feeling shame, resentment or fear.  I SAW her as a daughter.

It was freeing.
Recovery is a freeing blessing that way.
I still remember the day I walked by the magazines in the check out line and SAW -REALLY SAW -the lies.  For years, I would see them and feel shame, resentment, fear... longing to see the photoshopping as LIES and not TRUTHS.

Its a truly miraculous gift of grace from God and Recovery to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and love who I see, to love the stretch lines and scars and most of the wrinkles (still struggling with those rail road tracks between my brows though).

Here's the part where I completely SWITCH THIS AROUND.  So hold on for a sec.

When I began recovery, Danny took it personally.  Just as I took his addiction personally, so did he personalize my recovery.  As I took some tiny, scared, shaking steps forward and did things like
*Buy songs on i-tunes that helped me feel empowered
*Called a sponsor
*Went to counseling

He felt threatened.  I remember asking him if he like the songs I'd bought and he told me he felt like they were the anti-Danny songs.
I remember feeling confused -the songs weren't about him at all.  Recovery was MY thing, my side of the street, my worth, my journey!

But it didn't feel that way to him -just like his addiction didn't feel that way to me.

This parallel has also brought me a great deal of reflection.
A few nights ago, Danny said, "When you started recovery, I was scared.  I was worried it would make you resentful and mean.  But what its done is made you into a really incredible woman."

That blew me away, to hear that.
I've always been incredible, but in those painful years where I thought Dr. Laura was a prophet of God, I FORGOT.
I forgot to just BE.  I forgot to create, to slow down, to live and breathe and go on walks with God.  I forgot how precious I am to Him, how precious He is to me.

I still struggle with a lot of crap, but today I'm grateful that I've taken this journey.  I'm grateful that I went as far as I did into a sexualized reality.  The journey out has brought me wisdom, friends, and a better relationship with myself and God and others.

Right now, I'm going to hop on my mat and do some yoga.  I'm going to give my soul what it needs and take a pain pill because my BODY WANTS SUGAR and I've been giving it sugar since Thanksgiving.
We're taking this week off and my head hurts.

Needless to say, I'll be working the 12-steps AGAIN after I finish this round.  I need to work it for my unruly creature side who only wants Netflix and chocolate.  It's time to make amends to my soul... step by step.