Enable – to give someone the authority or means to do something.

I hate the use of the word “enable” in addiction circles. To me it implies that I am somehow responsible for my husband’s addiction, choices, or actions. It sounds as if I wanted him to do all those things and gave him permission to. I know that’s not exactly how it’s meant, but that is how it sounds to me. 

And nothing could be further from the truth. While I may not have left the situation because I didn’t know any better or I was comfortable with being treated like that (in many ways like the frog that doesn’t jump out of the pot set to boil because it doesn’t realize what’s happening), it doesn’t mean that I wanted any of that, had control over any of that, or gave him permission to do any of that.

Anyways, just my two cents on that. The word “enable” is a trigger for me.

But also, today I am feeling really down and desperate. Our house was broken into recently and our finances are a shambles. We are deeply in debt and I don’t know how to get out of it. We’re drowning in credit card debt and we have no spare cash to speak of. I am envious of all my friends who appear to be financially ok. Heck, anyone with spare cash is a subject of my envy right now. I know that with the twelve steps financial worry will go away one day, but it doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. And the burden of it is holding me down. Calgon, take me away! Please!

Mania and Lithium

I read an article in the New York Times today by a bipolar author who takes lithium to keep her from going into manic episodes. She’s scared of these episodes and doesn’t feel herself when it happens.

You can find the article here.

My mother loved her mania. I make up that she only felt alive when she was manic. It was insanity growing up with her. I tried to make sense of the world as best I could, but when you live with someone constantly having manic or depressive episodes, and especially when that someone is supposed to help you learn how to navigate the world and determine your own reality, it’s extremely difficult to uncover what reality really is. I think that it has left me with a permanent sensation of disassociation from reality or the world. I always feel like my life is not really my life. It’s like a movie that’s playing for me. Sometimes movies or books feel more real than my reality. When I finish reading a book or watching a movie and re-enter the world, I feel out of place, untethered, and unmoored, like it will disappear in the blink of an eye and be replaced by something else. It’s hard for me to pay attention sometimes, because I’m drifting off into a dream of what I would like life to be or imagine it to be.

I hate this feeling. I want to be connected and grounded. Instead I feel like I’m floating up into the sky like a balloon. I’m trying to teach myself better ways to cope than the methods I used to use, but I’m scared I’m never going to be able to anchor myself for more than a few days at a time.

The other woman’s hatred for the wife

So true. In my case, the OW was a friend of mine, someone I thought was close to me and cared about me. A mutual friend of ours knew about the affair but kept quiet, just looking at me like she felt so sorry for me. But she didn’t actually do anything. After I found out about the affair, I felt so humiliated, so demeaned and belittled. I could not believe how people were ok with what had happened when my world had just blown up in a fiery mushroom cloud of pain. Only a few friends were upset. But in the end their understanding and anger was based on their own fear in their own lives and they stopped talking to me. This whole thing has been incredibly, discouragingly, extensively, and overwhelmingly lonely.

I wrote a song

So I wrote a small ditty about my childhood growing up. I think it’s one way to deal with the trauma I’m beginning to realize I still feel from such a long time ago. Maybe. I dunno. Anyways, here it is. It’s sad, but also meant to be funny.

She chased the neighbor with a shovel round the yard,
Threw some concrete at another neighbor’s car,
And she says the cat wrote my birthday card.
I know what’s going on. It’s really not that hard.

Cause Momma’s gone crazy again.
She’s packed her bags and gone clear round the bend.
One day she’ll be back, but there’s no telling when.
Cause Momma’s gone crazy again.

We sent her to Hawaii. Two weeks later they sent her back.
She cussed out her boss again, then she got the sack.
We’ve got to move, but that’s okay, there ain’t nothing much to pack.
We’ll just find another one bedroom shack.

Cause Momma’s gone crazy again.
She’s packed her bags and gone clear round the bend.
One day she’ll be back, but there’s no telling when.
Cause Momma’s gone crazy again.


“You have to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else.”

My best friend in high school told me this once and it has echoed in my mind ever since. At the time, it made me uncomfortable (probably because it rang so true, but I did not want to admit it), and I dismissed it because I felt that she had an agenda since she had come out to me by telling me she had feelings for me and was resentful when she found that I could not return them in the way she wanted.

These days I am better able to accept the truth of that statement, though I would add a slight modification – You must learn to love yourself before you can allow someone else to love you.

What I mean by that is I’ve come to realize that I was never able to feel my husband’s love, not just because of his actions as a sex addict, but because I did not believe I was worthy of love and could not believe that he loved me. It helped to create a self-perpetuating cycle where his shame and disgust with himself were reinforced by my belief that he did not truly love me that was reinforced by his sex addict actions.

We’re learning to break that cycle, but it is taking some time.

Last week I was in Europe on a work trip and the first night I was gone he broke his sobriety by looking at soft core foreign films on You Tube. He did all the right things after that. He told me about it, called his sponsor, went to SAA meetings, and checked in with me every day.

It still really hurt and I dropped into depression. It felt as if it was another confirmation of those old familiar feelings of unloveableness.

Last week was the last week before he reached 90 days of sobriety on June 1. I was depending on that week as a test of everything – of myself, of him, of our individual sobrieties – and I felt that if we were able to make it to that 90 day period of sobriety with my trip to Europe (he used to always act out when I was out of town so it was especially meaningful), then we would have passed the test and I could allow myself to trust him and myself and put on my wedding rings again.

All those expectations ended in disappointment and I have not been able to recover since. It wasn’t just that he broke his sobriety, but also that I let it affect me the way that I have, demonstrating to me that I have not recovered quite as much as I had thought.

I am fighting it as hard as I can. I am trying, which seems to me like evidence of my own improvement, though I am not using my tools as well as I should. I am isolating myself and withdrawing, trying to lick my wounds and not collapse into despair rather than reaching out to others. I keep telling myself “I love you. I cherish you. I value you.” and try to really feel those feelings to counteract the old illusory feelings of worthlessness that my mother instilled in me and which are so comfortable to believe because they allow me the fantasy that I have some kind of control.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I also feel really angry. I am furious with my husband. I am furious with my mother. I am furious with the rest of my family that knew what was happening and did nothing to stop it while I was growing up. I am furious with the people I thought were friends who participated in my husband’s acting out and those who knew but did nothing and even those who did not know until it stopped but were not what I saw as “supportive” after things came out. I am furious with everyone who stands by while children and spouses are used and abused and who do nothing about it.

Anger is comforting. It is, after all, a more powerful feeling than despair, though no less misleading.

It feels good to write all that down. I can say, “I am angry. I am depressed. I am fighting it.” and know that all of that is valid. It is perfectly reasonable for me to feel this way, but it is not acceptable to me to let it rule or dominate my life or my actions.



I feel so lonely sometimes and for no seemingly good reason.

Things are going well. We are both moving ahead with our individual recoveries.

But I feel lonely today. I feel as if I am unreachable, unassailable, isolated, on an invisible island watching everyone else live their lives. I can’t connect. I can’t understand. I don’t feel understood.

I’m swept away on a tide of fantasy imagining a magical life, a world where I can relate to the people around me, where I am adored, respected, loved.

What’s the evidence that I’m not any of those things? There isn’t any that I can think of. It’s just how I’m feeling today.

Maybe I should just go home for the day and try to anchor myself back to the real world or wait until I can get back to it.

I am lovable

I struggle to believe that I am lovable. My mother told me I wasn’t. She said I was worthless. Comfortable with people who didn’t think I was valuable or lovable, I made friends with those kinds of people and they treated me accordingly.

My husband’s last affair partner was one of those friends. When I sent her a letter explaining how much pain I was in her response was that yes, she was a terrible friend, but she believed it was necessary to hurt people sometimes to get what you need. I couldn’t believe she was so callous and uncaring. She had been my friend. I had confided in and trusted her, listened to her woes and thoughts. I had thought that she cared about me.

But it turned out that she only cared about herself. Even when things were uncovered she had no remorse. All the people who remained friends with her said that she did, but she never demonstrated it to me, which only led me to conclude that she had to be manipulating them. What difference does your remorse make if you don’t demonstrate it to the person you actually hurt?

From my research I think she must be a sociopathic narcissist. She wanted everyone to like her, was charming and witty, but she talked about everyone behind their backs and clearly had no qualms about stabbing a friend in the back in the worst way with no apparent remorse shown except to the people who might have unfriended her if she had shown how callous she really was.

Why did I become friends with such a person? I think it must have been because I didn’t believe I was lovable. Why did I allow her and my husband to take me and all the things I have to offer for granted? Because I didn’t believe I was lovable.

Part of this journey is going to be learning to believe I’m lovable. I try to remember instances where people showed me that I mattered, that I was worthwhile. I am holding on to the memory of my grandmother and grandfather (my dad’s parents) taking my mother and I in when we had no place to go even though my parents were long divorced and they did not like my mom. They did it because they loved me. They loved me so much they were willing to put up with my crazy mother so that I could have a roof over my head.

They loved me. Many people love me. I am lovable. I have to keep telling myself this until I believe it.

First Memories and Bad Decisions

I have never had very good examples of healthy relationships in my life so I guess it’s no surprise that I made poor choices with my own relationships. My first memories of my dad and mom together weren’t great. In one, my dad sits at the breakfast table reading the newspaper while my mom cooks in the kitchen, which is open to where we’re sitting. We have a noisy parrot whose cage is right next to the table and that likes to sing in the mornings, irritating my dad. He bangs on the cage with the newspaper jovially but also in irritation and yells at the bird to shut up.

In the other my dad and mom sit facing each other on the couch screaming in heated anger. I don’t remember what they were screaming about, only that they were screaming. By the time I was three they were divorced. My mother hated my dad for divorcing her I think. He was defending his boundaries because she was horribly violating of them, and she hated, railed against, and went on vitriolic tirades against him. Soon after their divorce my mother essentially let our parrot go. Or maybe one day he just got tired of the anger and tension that filled our home and flew away, just like my dad.

My dad tried desperately to get custody of me. If the courts were actually fair and unbiased they probably would have given custody to him, but back then custody was almost always automatically granted to the mother despite any evidence of her inability to properly care for a child. Thus began our peripatetic, uncertain, and bohemian lifestyle. My mother had an undiagnosed bipolar illness, came from a highly disfunctional family full of addiction and abuse, and it was as difficult a way of life as you might imagine it to be.

She never kept a job longer than a few months. She was highly intelligent but couldn’t keep her mouth shut when someone pissed her off. She couldn’t even manage to behave somewhat civilly, yelling and screaming expletives and insults. She really knew how to sling insults. Perceptive and smart, she would reach inside, somehow intuitively knowing your deepest fears and wishes, and wring the pain from your heart. Unable to control her behavior and maybe not wanting to, and a product of abuse, she used sex to get attention and what she thought she wanted. When we were kicked out of a place she would find some guy to “love” her for a little while and give us a place to stay. A folk music fan she took us to the Kerrville Folk Festival and concerts all the time and was a bit of a groupie. She wasn’t very secretive or discreet about it either, even around me, so I was familiar with the act of sex and sexual terms since the age of five.

When I was eight I feel fairly certain that I saw my little brother conceived with a married man. We had been kicked out of where we were living and he and his wife had offered to let us stay in the little trailer they had in their backyard. I was friends with their little girl. Sometime in the night I woke up I think because I had wet the bed again (I was a terrible bedwetter and continued to wet the bed till the age of eleven or so, much to my shame and disgust), and they were screwing in the bunk bed below me.

Eventually she turned her verbal abuse of my father to me, telling me that I was a spoiled selfish asshole just like my father. I became desperately afraid of this label and tried valiantly to give everything I could to prove that I was the exact opposite, never realizing until I was much older that it was her job to take care of me, not the other way around.

When I was 11 my father and I managed to convince her to let me live with him and my stepmother in California. It was difficult and not without its challenges. The mediator asked me in a session once which parent I would rather live with. I hesitated. She must have been young or unrealistically optimistic because she said that she would get my mother to promise not to hurt me if I said I wanted to live with my dad. I was also young, and naive, so I relented and agreed that yes, I would much rather live with my dad. After all, he had a stable home, food on the table, electricity, hot water, and he didn’t yell and scream insults at me. Unfortunately, the weekend of that meeting with the mediator I was scheduled to stay with my mom. She had moved to Oakland to be closer to ne while I was living with my dad. On the busride home she became angrier and angrier, and finally, as we were walking from the bus stop, she slapped me so hard that my glasses flew off my face and down the street.

But it turned out that my father’s home wasn’t as idyllic as I had first thought. When I was 12 or 13 my stepmother left my dad for the man she’d been having an affair with, her boss. My dad was devastated. Then she came back and left and came back a few times until she finally decided that she wanted to give it another try with my dad. Watching my dad go through that, I felt like it must be my fault, and I think I felt like she was rejecting me a little too. Dad, lost in the pain that he was feeling and trying to fix things with his wife, couldn’t spare much attention for me, though he did the best he could. It’s hard to really invest the time and care into healing your extremely disfunctional daughter when your heart is ripped out and pounded into the floor by your wife though.

My mother had moved back to Texas and everytime I had to go visit with her I became so anxious that I would spend the first night at her home throwing up. Every time I was supposed to leave to go back to my Dad’s was a struggle. She fought it with manipulation and intimidation as much as she could. One time she poured a beer on my head and locked me in the bedroom of my aunt and uncle’s doublewide where we were staying because she was homeless once again. Eventually, when I was 13 on the verge of 14, frustrated with and anxious from the situation at my dads because of my stepmother, and pressured once again to stay with my mom, this time with kindness and persuasion and familiarity, I decided to move back to my mom’s. That is a decision I regret to this day. It was probably the worst decision of my life.


Today Jay was complaining about going to therapy and having to talk about our issues at home. He didn’t want to do it and was dreading it.

“Why?” I asked.
“Because I’ll feel vulnerable and I don’t like feeling vulnerable.”

All of a sudden a light clicked on in my head. Of course! How did I not see it before? He’s so afraid of being vulnerable that he doesn’t let anyone ever really get to know him. Who is closest to making him feel vulnerable? Me. He has always kept me at arms length even at his most affectionate (and he can be extremely affectionate). All of his acting out has been to keep from feeling vulnerable. He’s always said that he’s lied to me because he’s afraid of me, but really it’s because he’s afraid of feeling vulnerable. He acts out to push me away and avoid feeling vulnerable at all costs.

What a realization. It really blew my mind. He talked to his therapist about it at his appointment and the guy basically confirmed it. He came back and apologized for lying and treating me the way he has and said that even though he didn’t like it he supported my decision to have him sleep in the other room and thought it was a good idea. He supports me establishing my boundaries and realized how wrong he’s been about so many things. He said he wants to show me that he can be vulnerable with me.

Breakthrough? I don’t know, but it feels good.