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Maia

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.Psalms 34:18

reframing needs and validation

my original thread seems to have been closed. Heres the repost.

THIS IS PAST TENSE, simply shared for some BS's who asked me for it long ago.

I posted this here for the LTA group, this is a repost because I think it worth rebooting. Get popcorn. Snuggle down. Read.

________________

THE QUESTION

""How have you gone about "reframing" your needs and expectations for personal validation?"

"How have you separated out the "real" needs from the "unreal" in a way that is healthy but still satisfying for you now?"

THE ANSWER:

the questions are really two sides of the same coin. And so I'll try to answer as best I can.

I think it is important to understand that "validation" is a fuzzy concept for me. It isn't specific enough.

I told you all yesterday that I was numb to the good and alive to the bad. And that is true. It's like a monkey who goes for cocaine and ignores food. That is a good picture of it. And the "need" is not really a need at all. But it does feel like one. Boy does it.

I was stuck, miserable. I wanted a whole life and not a life and a half. I kept saying that. xOM's response was "Well go see if you can love your H and if not, then leave him."

I don't think he expected me to actually do it. He knew i was an addict. We used to JOKE about it.

I didn't know how.

I'd go NC and withdrawal would start and I would be screaming in agony and go running right back to him.

so I prayed. I had no where to turn so I prayed. I prayed a lot. I mean... I spent DAYS in my room, locked in there. or in my office. doing nothing but praying and crying. Asking for answers. Afraid.

the answer that occurred to me made no sense at first. "The truth will set you free." I heard that in my heart over and over and had no idea what it meant. So I started to think on it. And then I made a decision. I would just start telling the truth. To myself. To my H, to xOM. Eventually I got to his W, that took a while. Problem is, it was hard to know what the truth WAS. I had lied to myself for so long and I had two realities in my heart, two to resolve. And they could not coexist.

I did not want to confess. i knew it would mean possibly losing my family. Definitely losing xOM. A chasm stretched before me, yawning. It terrified me. I argued with myself for days...weeks... about it. I felt if I didn't want to end things, then I would be dishonest to do so. I wanted to do nothing from duty because I was afraid I'd just end up revering back again and failing. I wanted my actions and decisions to be genuine. Real. And then one day it occurred to me that the most perfect of men prayed and told God He didn't want to do something painful. I didn't have to want to. And not wanting to wasn't necessarily horrible. I could ask for help wanting what was right even if I didn't want to and just be HONEST about it... and do what was right whether I wanted to or not.

So I confessed to my H. I started telling the truth. Drunk off my rear end. Don't think I wasn't.

now a practiced liar has issues with turning that habit, learning to not hide anything or to shade or exaggerate or whatever... that took time. i wasn't perfect.

but that was the beginning of "reframing"

as I started to do that I started to see myself.

eventually I confessed to his W and total NC happened. and I was exploring stuff on a support board.

the next idea came when I understood the concept of using people vs love. Now I had some concept of this before, but it was more mental than something i practiced. But I came to see that everyone including God... everyone in my life, had been someone that I'd used. Not constantly. But a lot. And so then another piece of the puzzle fell into place. And I came to understand that just as my husband wanted me to truly love him from the heart, and to do good and kind things for him out of that love, so my God wanted me to love Him from the heart and to obey out of that love, not for the blessings I would receive as a result of obedience. And I didn't like God much less love Him. I didn't think He was good. I thought heaven was boring. I thought He was harsh and judgmental and mean. I thought He didn't love me. I felt rejected by Him. I didn't know what love looked like. And that affected everything I did.

but see, my husband was kind to me, understanding of me. Good to me. Even when I didn't love him back. I saw love. He loved me for who i was...or maybe in spite of who I was...

I was still numb to my H, but I could see love. I recognized it. I wanted to give and receive it. And I've always felt it was a verb, I practiced doing love when I didn't feel it. I read the Five Love Languages and worked on that. I studied all I could about love. Trying to understand. Song of Solomon.a John Gottman book on marriages that make it. The Four Loves by CS Lewis.

now this is important.

I was so unable to understand my own feelings and heart, I literally didn't know what was true for me. I remember being in the IC's office and he'd ask me something and I couldn't answer. I didn't know. And I'd tell him that. I'd tell him, "I don't know what is true."

and he told me something that helped me.

He said to say a statement aloud. and if I felt a twisty feeling in my stomach. ..if I felt funny. ...then the statement wasn't true.

So I tried it.

"I love my H."

no twisty feeling.

"I forgive my H. for his anger at ____"

big twisty feeling.

so that helped me. I know that may sound nuts but when I tell you that I literally didn't KNOW the truth and so couldn't stop lying, I mean it. I would change stories about how I felt about things or even about things that had happened...events... because i'd twisted the truth for myself so much I no longer knew what it was.

so that was important. Lies and truth are big. Ongoing. You can't tell what your needs are when you can't touch them.

then a new idea came... this one i heard on the radio, listening to Focus on the Family. It haunted me pretty much.

"To a starving man, even what is bitter tastes sweet."

the story told that night was of a man who'd been sexually abused as a child by a man he loved and admired. And as he talked about his journey into homosexuality and that lifestyle and then his eventual turning away from it and his new life... he gave that quote. It's from proverbs.

and I looked up a lot of stuff on temptation and overcoming it. And I came to see that the way to overcome temptation is not to deny myself. That sounds funny. okay. The thing is, somebody who is full, who is not hungry, doesn't want cake. The words used in the original bible text for overcoming a temptation convey that idea. Unhealthy things have no allure for someone who is whole. Their needs are met.

but I had been starving my whole life. and I'd gotten used to bitter things and thought they were all that was out there. (a lie) So I dealt with the roots of that. and I accepted that the bitter things i was using to meet my needs....no matter how sweet they might seem, weren't as good as what I -could- have. And of course I'm talking about xOM.

because I still felt haunted. His presence was still palpable to me all the time. It's like a year later and I'm still wonky. I have made progress but I still feel connected.

you all need to understand, that feeling is the addiction. And it is a misdirection but I did not know that then. But I need to tell you what it feels like so that what I say later makes sense.

CS Lewis described it as a sense of autumn. you know, the feeling, the echo you feel when you look at the hills and leaves are changing, the sweet pain of a sunset? it is a sense of presence with you, sweet, music you can almost hear...a strain of it so beautiful it makes you want to weep. I felt like xOM was with me all the time. It was difficult not to speak aloud to him, I thought if I turned around he'd be there ...making wisecracks. and I got angry. I'd be driving down the road screaming and crying "GET OUT OF MY HEAD."

and I'm still numb really to my H at this point. I'm still behind a wall of glass, separated from what SHOULD be filling me, the life I should have. I see all this stuff but it has no weight. I am acting on it but I feel like a BIG faker. My heart is still divided.

I was desperately seeking the lightbulb moment that would transform me, the magic wand to change everything. I hated myself for still carrying xOM in my heart. For feeling this way, constantly. I very nearly despaired.

and I prayed. And an image came into my heart of a plant. A seed. Buried beneath the ground in winter. And it is moving and sprouting and one day it will bloom. And I understood that this was process, that it was small steps daily taken that sculpted the landscape of change.

So I kept going.

so let's recap shall we?

so far I'd been taught to

1. not lie, tell the truth

2. understand my own heart and its truths.

3. learn the difference between truth and lies.

4. understand that I had needs and that they were real and that the way I was meeting them wasn't really right. there was more and i could have it.

5. I learned about using vs loving

6 I saw love in action through my husband.

7. I did not have to want to do what was right to do what was right. and that was okay.

adding one more

8. understood the concept of being full as the way to overcome a "hunger"

whether you share my faith or not, those are the basic lessons I had learned... and when I tell you that my LORD spoke to me I am being honest. I am describing to you the events. So when I tell you that my answer is Christ, that is why. not trying to push you.

I'm going to stop now and will give you the rest of it after you've had a while to digest all of this. There is much much more. Yes my heart did fully change. This was the groundwork laid. But reframing my needs and expectations and separating real from unreal happened through a process... it was as I learned to practice and live out these lessons that it happened.

PART TWO

okay, so round about the time I started to see some of these things, around the one year mark and a few months later... I also decided that my actions fed my emotions.

So in order to work on my emotional restoration I began to root out any habit that kept me connected. I'd already stopped reading tarot. I added other things to my list, stupid things to anyone else, but they were significant to me. Like not looking in my rearview mirror and talking to myself, changing my playlist and radio stations, changing routes, changing grocery stores, shutting out anything that gave me a sense of connection. I also started trying to develop good habits. Prayer was at the top of the list... not for myself but for others. The point was to practice some selflessness daily. and to get prayed for...yeah LOL.

and then something significant happened to make me see that my issues were not xOM.

I was messing about on my comp one day ... thinking, avoiding work, feeling sorry for myself, and I started thinking about my high school/college xBF.

I spent the next couple of hours trying to find him.

not going to excuse that. I'm just saying I did it.

Now. After a couple of hours i realized something...

this xBF had been horribly abusive to me, to the point of assault and selling me as a prostitute for gambling money. In the 6 years we were together I tried to commit suicide 13 times. He gave me STDs on 3 occasions. He told me stories, bragged about, his violent sexual escapades with strangers. This guy was a sicko.

totally.

and I was thinking of him like a fairy tale prince. For those two hours i'd romanticized him.

I snapped out of it, horrified at myself.

but that was the first clue I had... my issues were not xOM, they were me. I could believe lies EVEN WHEN I KNEW BETTER. And I'd had that same feeling for those two hours. The almost-joy.

So I had to look at all of my relationships in context. And ran smack into some ugly truths. I'd already seen the role of Envy in my own heart and how it fed my thinking and actions and was working on changing that...

There was a lot of raw, wounded, scarred soul in me. I was bitter, envious, unforgiving and angry... and I used sex as a weapon. I used everyone. I had seen that I used people but it soaked in more deeply as I explored sexual addiction and what it meant. Power was very important to me. Control. I wanted desperately to reverse deep rejections I'd experienced. I wanted someone to save me. I wanted someone to tell me I was worth something. I'd AGREED with them you see. The people who had abused and rejected me. And it wasn't just men. It was the accusing rejection and nastiness of the girls in my sorority and the accusing rejection and unforgiveness of my former church. And admitting that I indeed did not think myself worthy of love or normal life, that was big.

So that someone who would save me had to treat me like shit first. Or be totally out of reach in some way. or better yet, both.

I wanted to change someone, take someone who didn't love me, make them love me.

that was my redemption. that was my validation.

that would make me worthy and normal and whole. it would undo all of the pain I had. That was my solution, the one I'd cooked up for myself.

xOM kicked this off in me in a lot of ways I can't fully get into here. But basically it made any action by my husband ...who was mostly good to me (though he did have anger issues that triggered me in other ways)... but it made his actions almost invisible to me. He didn't count. So I couldn't even register the validation from him because he was nice.

Seeing it really helped me....but this stage took several months. Post from this period to help you understand:

My therapist said that on some level I don't believe that I deserve to be happy. Which I snorted at. Honestly. Because I like me. Ego is not my problem. If anything, I suffer from pride, not low self esteem. Honestly assessing, I know I'm pretty (need to lose weight) but pretty. I know I'm smart, talented, witty, funny. I like myself. So the issue was filed into the " that's psychobabble" file that I have ...and forgotten. Much like my initial reaction to abandonment. Ha.

I got a couple of books for Christmas. Not the new Robert Jordan I wanted...but C.S. Lewis. I've a hankering for logic and wit and British phrasing. And in "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," a speech written by a high-ranking demon to a graduating class of Junior Tempters, I read this:

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"Democracy" is the word with which you must lead them by the nose....it will never occur to them that "Democracy" is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. ...you are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a FACTUAL BELIEF THAT ALL MEN ARE EQUAL. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word "Democracy" to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of all human feelings. You can get him to practise, not only with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided.

The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say "I'm as good as you."

The first and most obvious advantage is that you induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good solid resounding lie. I don't mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty and good sense than in height or waist measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says "I'm as good as you" believes it.. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard does not say it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves in some way inferior. What it expresses is the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.

And therefore resents. Yes and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it, wishes its annihilation. (tries to beat it ...this is me... note by Maia)

..Now this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to the humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical of vices. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it ...by the incantatory use of the word "democratic"

Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their level. But that is not all. Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from it for fear of being "Undemocratic"

(I'll interject..."abnormal")

.....the basic principle of the new education is that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be "undemocratic" These differences between the pupils - for they are obviously and nakedly INDIVIDUAL differences - must be disguised. This can be done on various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance exams must be framed so that all or nearly all, ciyizens can go to universities, whether they have any powerto profit by higher education or not...the bright pupil thus remains fettered to his own age group throughout his school career and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coaeval's attempts to spell out "A cat sat on a mat"

**************************************************

okay. Now here we get down to it.

There is a difference between honest self-assessment and negative self-talk. You can't beat an addiction until you admit you HAVE one. And self-esteem. If your character and life have been marked by consistent moral failure...is it not best to admit that rather than to bury it and say, "I'm a good person"???

I've tried consistently to therefore face my own darkness. I've done it here a lot. I can't change what I do not recognize.

that said...my goal in life has always been to be Normal.

Not "democratic" exactly. But close to the same idea. "I'm as good as you."

It's a by-product of years of wearing ill-fitting clothes, having a mother who was unconscious most of the time, a dad who was absent ... being obviously a misfit and feeling an outcast among people who had clean homes and real parents. And later, real husbands who actually cared for them. Feeling that on some level, everyone else's life must be the Cosby Show or a beer commercial.

Love not the world.

Have you ever been pitied? In me it raises a burning anger. A defiance almost. "I'm as good as you, dammit." The pity of others is something I lived with for nearly 30 years. Try being the family that gets the charity donations at Christmas. I was grateful. But angry.

This attitude has marked much of my life and driven me to excel. And it has driven me to despair. And it has driven me to search for validation ... that I'm as good as you. I never said it. I've called it a quest for Normal. For Blah. And if I felt like I couldn't achieve what in my mind was the goal at that point...whatever I'd set up as Normal, I'd stir up drama so I'd have an excuse for not making it.

Reading this made me see that.

And more than that...I've seen that abandonment ... the rejection of my church, my friends, my family, xMM, a horde of boyfriends, my xH ... it has all raised in me this defiance to be "as good as you." Or better if I could be. I'm not saying it is rational, it is not. But did I make xMM a goal and refuse to let go? Yes. Why? Because he was my ticket to normal. My validation. My Savior, if you will. And if he would just LOVE ME then it would take away all the stings from all of those who didn't think I was good enough. And I set him up as that because he was a person who TOLD ME HE COULDN'T LOVE when we dated. What a trophy, to get him to love ME.

And I did achieve that in a twisted sense. But it wasn't enough. I wanted all that went with it. I wanted the beer commercial with HIM. He and I in starring roles.

seeing all of this put me in a REALLY bad mood yesterday. I tried to deny it. And I couldn't. This is envy and a weird sort of pride, make no mistake. And I know it.

anyhow.

I admit all of this to you. And in accepting it, I am asking my Lord and God to change me and remove it from me. This attitude.

I don't want to prove anything to anyone anymore, and especially not to myself. I'm not normal. But I'm me. And I'll be whatever God sees fit to make me. And I'm sorry I've been this way. More than that...there have been times that the rejection and abandonment were a result of my selfishness. And there were times when it was the result of failure on the part of others, not a reflection on ME. And I can now understand the difference. And I can confront and change myself. Courage to change what I can. Wisdom to know the difference.

xMM didn't love me, not in the "till death do us part" sense. We dated and then broke up and then he married someone else. Chose someone else over me ... and it is finally okay that he didn't choose ME. And I am sorry for what I have done to him. Actions motivated by this attitude were not...love. It was selfish pride.

and yes, my therapist was right. I believed the rejection of others meant i should not accept myself, be content, be happy. More than that, I viewed those rejections as affronts, accusations, to be squarely proven groundless. And I could not rest until I did that.

I'm not doing that anymore. I'm going to just accept myself as I am, and make every effort to improve when I am shown an area that needs it. But the validation? it has to come from within. And from God. And...He did all that I needed when He died for me.

anyhow, that's all.

I know the prayers of a lot of people helped me to see this.

as i studied SA, I learned about ritual chains and used that whole idea to unravel the ones i still had that would lead me to act out. Acting out for me now was mostly in my mind. Fantasies. But it was there. And I saw xOM for what he was... a fix. The haunting started to fade...not completely but it got a lot easier to deal with.

but I wasn't done yet.

I saw the need I had... but how to convince my heart that I was worthy of love? after all I had been and done? I hate myself a lot still and have a lot of anger still....I'm thawing some now toward my H but still have big issues.

and I'm mouthing Christian ideas but I see with all of this that I'm living as a practical agnostic. I'm starting to understand now that the "hunger" I have isn't for xOM at all. It's for approval, for a redemption, for acceptance, for yes...validation of a type that is on my HEART, on my SOUL... I want to prove them wrong, all those rejectors. HOW?

and how to heal my view of sex?

more soon.

okay so recap...

new lessons were:

9. I wanted redemption and had cooked up my own salvation plan that involved someone who had rejected me being turned around and made to love me...all by my own awesomeness.

(self-worth issues usually have a lot of pride in them)

10. I based my self-worth on approval of others and performance or a mix but it was never enough.

11. I really didn't believe I was worthy of Normal. or Good. So I sabotaged it.

12. I used sex as a means of getting power and control.

13. I had developed ritual chains that led to compulsive behaviors.

14. I was living as a practical agnostic. I did not believe or live in the light of the love and redemption of God or the faith I (now) professed.

one important thing for the rest of this to make sense is to know that I was reading Joseph Campbell and had found that was discovering truth and insight in weird places. I was looking at mythology and what it said to see recurring themes in the human psyche. But what I found was a story of death, burial and resurrection, over and over and over. I found that the Hero Quest in literature was a universal journey.

and then I heard John Eldredge on the radio.

John Eldredge talked about the hunger I felt. He talked about a religion of tips and techniques that causes you to petrify and causes your heart to wither... and then he talked about romance, and the burning hunger in my heart. He talked about yearning, the sense of joy...

that was something i still lacked. I was still hungry. dry. withered. desperately yearning still. filled sometimes, but still...limping. Growing, but yeah...shaky. I was still scared deep down. Afraid. I wrestled with doubt.

and I went nuts trying to find info and then went and bought the books.

and that is when I saw the rest of it. The Sacred Romance. Pieces of it had been coming to me throughout this journey. But I saw all of it now, all of the whys got answered. And the hole in my heart got totally filled. And the wounded places got healed. and the view of sex I had got transformed. and the wall of glass ...which had been shimmering and sometimes was gone... it shattered for good.

because I finally understood with my heart the love of God and what I meant to Him. And my worth got totally based on that. I'd understood it mentally before, like someone who knows Europe exists. Now I lived there. And I fell deeply and wholeheartedly in love with Jesus. and that was just before Christmas... not so long ago. But the shattered pieces of me fused with those books. well... not with the books, with the Person in them.

I know I had to go through that long process to get to the final healing.

and it was a process. I've written here about the truths I learned, but you cannot underestimate the work of putting these ideas into practice or of time in bringing about sanity. and this isn't ALL of it but it is the major stuff.

so there you go.

I think people can just move on without all of this. But I also think that like a bone that has to be rebroken and reset to heal... if you do that you risk further pain down the road.

We look for ourselves, our true selves, in the stories of others. And that is a good thing.

I read something this morning that I believe sums up what God was telling me in the image of the seeds.

I wanted a magic wand waved, an instant fix and balm for the pain.

God is a God of process. If you ask Him for an oak tree, He hands you an acorn.

I read that this morning and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I see all of the pain and writhing here and feel it anew, and want so much to give immediate help.

But God is a God of process.

looking at it like physical therapy helped me. I looked at the A as a train wreck where we were both damaged deeply. Anyone who has been to physical therapy knows the exercise and consistency and time needed to heal and return to full health.

that is very much a picture of the process.

-----

achievement unlocked. you read the whole thing ;-P

11 comments posted: Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Shame/justice

Hello lovelies.

thought I'd give you some of my thoughts on shame.

Shame is like a wave of death. It will keep you stuck and focused on yourself. It will leave you writhing, breathless. Wanting to cower and hide. it will destroy you. It is toxic. Shame is awful.

but we deserve it. we deserve it!! That's the thought that holds you in is grip. You can rationalize and justify and bargain and deny and it still comes crashing through. It does.

A man from Scotland who lived a century ago helped me deal with it. that and a little science.

First the science. Shame can actually be caused by brain chemistry. Look up 'Shame brain chemistry' one thing i did was take st Johns wort with 5-htp to help me battle the chemistry and set me on more stable ground. the herbal mix wasn't expensive or dangerous and i found relief after about a month of consistent use. It takes a while to build up in your bloodstream. google for dosage for your body or talk to a doctor or naturopath.

the second thing was the man from scotland. His name is George Macdonald. he wrote a piece on justice wherein he talked about this idea of paying the price. i'm going to put what he said in my own words.

if someone steals from you, and they are captured, indicted and go to court. they are found guilty and must repay you. Has justice been done???

Has it?

what if it was a friend?

this adds the layer of betrayal.

JUSTICE is not simply the idea of paying the price. No. justice is setting things right. Which would you rather? that you be paid by someone forced to repay you, someone who will likely go out an do the same thing to another?

or would you rather this person really hate what they did, vow to change, know what they did was wrong and repay you? in the case of the friend, would you rather that person not only apologize but work to restore the friendship and seek to mend his ways in a manner obvious to any who knows him????

which version is justice???? which would you rather? Justice should always include restoration, not revenge.

See shame just wants you to paypaypay, preferably with a little death every day. it leads to death. Remorse leads you to change (and i think it leads you to God)

Two types of sorrow. one leads to death, one leads to real change. Your husband or wife would much rather you ACTUALLY LOVE THEM than that you die. really. because there's no payment big enough. the death you feel??? thats what you've done to them. it isn't even big enough a price to pay not really. there's no way to pay for the mutilation of a human soul. is there??

your real change is justice. it sets things right as much as possible. No you can't undo what you did. but you can unmake what you were. be a new person. one of the most hopeful things god spoke to me was that a person's capacity for good was directly inversely proportional to their capacity for evil. thats why the murderer moses could lead multitudes out of bondage. why augustine the man whore could help generations learn to walk in the light and why my own wretched state could be so completely healed.

it's a choice to be made, in spite of your feelings. your feelings are lies. brain chemistry. What feels true is not what is true. the truth is you can turn around and any pain you caused used for good. i believe its completely undone, like the matrix ...someday all of it is gone, leaving only you and your eternal heart, mended .

theres a type of japanese pottery i love. it is shattered then mended with gold. the understanding is that this object is more beautiful after mending than it was before it shattered. it's a metaphor for you. its called kintsugi. look it up.

<3

don't believe you cannot change. it is dark in this moment but a seed must be planted to bloom. yours is the darkness of one who will grow, if you choose it. choose it daily. the light will come.

Edited; clarity/typos

[This message edited by Maia at 11:11 AM, April 5th (Friday)]

31 comments posted: Friday, April 5th, 2019

reframing needs and validation (repost)

my original thread seems to have been closed. Heres the repost.

THIS IS PAST TENSE, simply shared for some BS's who asked me for it long ago.

I posted this here for the LTA group, this is a repost because I think it worth rebooting. Get popcorn. Snuggle down. Read.

________________

THE QUESTION

""How have you gone about "reframing" your needs and expectations for personal validation?"

"How have you separated out the "real" needs from the "unreal" in a way that is healthy but still satisfying for you now?"

THE ANSWER:

the questions are really two sides of the same coin. And so I'll try to answer as best I can.

I think it is important to understand that "validation" is a fuzzy concept for me. It isn't specific enough.

I told you all yesterday that I was numb to the good and alive to the bad. And that is true. It's like a monkey who goes for cocaine and ignores food. That is a good picture of it. And the "need" is not really a need at all. But it does feel like one. Boy does it.

I was stuck, miserable. I wanted a whole life and not a life and a half. I kept saying that. xOM's response was "Well go see if you can love your H and if not, then leave him."

I don't think he expected me to actually do it. He knew i was an addict. We used to JOKE about it.

I didn't know how.

I'd go NC and withdrawal would start and I would be screaming in agony and go running right back to him.

so I prayed. I had no where to turn so I prayed. I prayed a lot. I mean... I spent DAYS in my room, locked in there. or in my office. doing nothing but praying and crying. Asking for answers. Afraid.

the answer that occurred to me made no sense at first. "The truth will set you free." I heard that in my heart over and over and had no idea what it meant. So I started to think on it. And then I made a decision. I would just start telling the truth. To myself. To my H, to xOM. Eventually I got to his W, that took a while. Problem is, it was hard to know what the truth WAS. I had lied to myself for so long and I had two realities in my heart, two to resolve. And they could not coexist.

I did not want to confess. i knew it would mean possibly losing my family. Definitely losing xOM. A chasm stretched before me, yawning. It terrified me. I argued with myself for days...weeks... about it. I felt if I didn't want to end things, then I would be dishonest to do so. I wanted to do nothing from duty because I was afraid I'd just end up revering back again and failing. I wanted my actions and decisions to be genuine. Real. And then one day it occurred to me that the most perfect of men prayed and told God He didn't want to do something painful. I didn't have to want to. And not wanting to wasn't necessarily horrible. I could ask for help wanting what was right even if I didn't want to and just be HONEST about it... and do what was right whether I wanted to or not.

So I confessed to my H. I started telling the truth. Drunk off my rear end. Don't think I wasn't.

now a practiced liar has issues with turning that habit, learning to not hide anything or to shade or exaggerate or whatever... that took time. i wasn't perfect.

but that was the beginning of "reframing"

as I started to do that I started to see myself.

eventually I confessed to his W and total NC happened. and I was exploring stuff on a support board.

the next idea came when I understood the concept of using people vs love. Now I had some concept of this before, but it was more mental than something i practiced. But I came to see that everyone including God... everyone in my life, had been someone that I'd used. Not constantly. But a lot. And so then another piece of the puzzle fell into place. And I came to understand that just as my husband wanted me to truly love him from the heart, and to do good and kind things for him out of that love, so my God wanted me to love Him from the heart and to obey out of that love, not for the blessings I would receive as a result of obedience. And I didn't like God much less love Him. I didn't think He was good. I thought heaven was boring. I thought He was harsh and judgmental and mean. I thought He didn't love me. I felt rejected by Him. I didn't know what love looked like. And that affected everything I did.

but see, my husband was kind to me, understanding of me. Good to me. Even when I didn't love him back. I saw love. He loved me for who i was...or maybe in spite of who I was...

I was still numb to my H, but I could see love. I recognized it. I wanted to give and receive it. And I've always felt it was a verb, I practiced doing love when I didn't feel it. I read the Five Love Languages and worked on that. I studied all I could about love. Trying to understand. Song of Solomon.a John Gottman book on marriages that make it. The Four Loves by CS Lewis.

now this is important.

I was so unable to understand my own feelings and heart, I literally didn't know what was true for me. I remember being in the IC's office and he'd ask me something and I couldn't answer. I didn't know. And I'd tell him that. I'd tell him, "I don't know what is true."

and he told me something that helped me.

He said to say a statement aloud. and if I felt a twisty feeling in my stomach. ..if I felt funny. ...then the statement wasn't true.

So I tried it.

"I love my H."

no twisty feeling.

"I forgive my H. for his anger at ____"

big twisty feeling.

so that helped me. I know that may sound nuts but when I tell you that I literally didn't KNOW the truth and so couldn't stop lying, I mean it. I would change stories about how I felt about things or even about things that had happened...events... because i'd twisted the truth for myself so much I no longer knew what it was.

so that was important. Lies and truth are big. Ongoing. You can't tell what your needs are when you can't touch them.

then a new idea came... this one i heard on the radio, listening to Focus on the Family. It haunted me pretty much.

"To a starving man, even what is bitter tastes sweet."

the story told that night was of a man who'd been sexually abused as a child by a man he loved and admired. And as he talked about his journey into homosexuality and that lifestyle and then his eventual turning away from it and his new life... he gave that quote. It's from proverbs.

and I looked up a lot of stuff on temptation and overcoming it. And I came to see that the way to overcome temptation is not to deny myself. That sounds funny. okay. The thing is, somebody who is full, who is not hungry, doesn't want cake. The words used in the original bible text for overcoming a temptation convey that idea. Unhealthy things have no allure for someone who is whole. Their needs are met.

but I had been starving my whole life. and I'd gotten used to bitter things and thought they were all that was out there. (a lie) So I dealt with the roots of that. and I accepted that the bitter things i was using to meet my needs....no matter how sweet they might seem, weren't as good as what I -could- have. And of course I'm talking about xOM.

because I still felt haunted. His presence was still palpable to me all the time. It's like a year later and I'm still wonky. I have made progress but I still feel connected.

you all need to understand, that feeling is the addiction. And it is a misdirection but I did not know that then. But I need to tell you what it feels like so that what I say later makes sense.

CS Lewis described it as a sense of autumn. you know, the feeling, the echo you feel when you look at the hills and leaves are changing, the sweet pain of a sunset? it is a sense of presence with you, sweet, music you can almost hear...a strain of it so beautiful it makes you want to weep. I felt like xOM was with me all the time. It was difficult not to speak aloud to him, I thought if I turned around he'd be there ...making wisecracks. and I got angry. I'd be driving down the road screaming and crying "GET OUT OF MY HEAD."

and I'm still numb really to my H at this point. I'm still behind a wall of glass, separated from what SHOULD be filling me, the life I should have. I see all this stuff but it has no weight. I am acting on it but I feel like a BIG faker. My heart is still divided.

I was desperately seeking the lightbulb moment that would transform me, the magic wand to change everything. I hated myself for still carrying xOM in my heart. For feeling this way, constantly. I very nearly despaired.

and I prayed. And an image came into my heart of a plant. A seed. Buried beneath the ground in winter. And it is moving and sprouting and one day it will bloom. And I understood that this was process, that it was small steps daily taken that sculpted the landscape of change.

So I kept going.

so let's recap shall we?

so far I'd been taught to

1. not lie, tell the truth

2. understand my own heart and its truths.

3. learn the difference between truth and lies.

4. understand that I had needs and that they were real and that the way I was meeting them wasn't really right. there was more and i could have it.

5. I learned about using vs loving

6 I saw love in action through my husband.

7. I did not have to want to do what was right to do what was right. and that was okay.

adding one more

8. understood the concept of being full as the way to overcome a "hunger"

whether you share my faith or not, those are the basic lessons I had learned... and when I tell you that my LORD spoke to me I am being honest. I am describing to you the events. So when I tell you that my answer is Christ, that is why. not trying to push you.

I'm going to stop now and will give you the rest of it after you've had a while to digest all of this. There is much much more. Yes my heart did fully change. This was the groundwork laid. But reframing my needs and expectations and separating real from unreal happened through a process... it was as I learned to practice and live out these lessons that it happened.

PART TWO

okay, so round about the time I started to see some of these things, around the one year mark and a few months later... I also decided that my actions fed my emotions.

So in order to work on my emotional restoration I began to root out any habit that kept me connected. I'd already stopped reading tarot. I added other things to my list, stupid things to anyone else, but they were significant to me. Like not looking in my rearview mirror and talking to myself, changing my playlist and radio stations, changing routes, changing grocery stores, shutting out anything that gave me a sense of connection. I also started trying to develop good habits. Prayer was at the top of the list... not for myself but for others. The point was to practice some selflessness daily. and to get prayed for...yeah LOL.

and then something significant happened to make me see that my issues were not xOM.

I was messing about on my comp one day ... thinking, avoiding work, feeling sorry for myself, and I started thinking about my high school/college xBF.

I spent the next couple of hours trying to find him.

not going to excuse that. I'm just saying I did it.

Now. After a couple of hours i realized something...

this xBF had been horribly abusive to me, to the point of assault and selling me as a prostitute for gambling money. In the 6 years we were together I tried to commit suicide 13 times. He gave me STDs on 3 occasions. He told me stories, bragged about, his violent sexual escapades with strangers. This guy was a sicko.

totally.

and I was thinking of him like a fairy tale prince. For those two hours i'd romanticized him.

I snapped out of it, horrified at myself.

but that was the first clue I had... my issues were not xOM, they were me. I could believe lies EVEN WHEN I KNEW BETTER. And I'd had that same feeling for those two hours. The almost-joy.

So I had to look at all of my relationships in context. And ran smack into some ugly truths. I'd already seen the role of Envy in my own heart and how it fed my thinking and actions and was working on changing that...

There was a lot of raw, wounded, scarred soul in me. I was bitter, envious, unforgiving and angry... and I used sex as a weapon. I used everyone. I had seen that I used people but it soaked in more deeply as I explored sexual addiction and what it meant. Power was very important to me. Control. I wanted desperately to reverse deep rejections I'd experienced. I wanted someone to save me. I wanted someone to tell me I was worth something. I'd AGREED with them you see. The people who had abused and rejected me. And it wasn't just men. It was the accusing rejection and nastiness of the girls in my sorority and the accusing rejection and unforgiveness of my former church. And admitting that I indeed did not think myself worthy of love or normal life, that was big.

So that someone who would save me had to treat me like shit first. Or be totally out of reach in some way. or better yet, both.

I wanted to change someone, take someone who didn't love me, make them love me.

that was my redemption. that was my validation.

that would make me worthy and normal and whole. it would undo all of the pain I had. That was my solution, the one I'd cooked up for myself.

xOM kicked this off in me in a lot of ways I can't fully get into here. But basically it made any action by my husband ...who was mostly good to me (though he did have anger issues that triggered me in other ways)... but it made his actions almost invisible to me. He didn't count. So I couldn't even register the validation from him because he was nice.

Seeing it really helped me....but this stage took several months. Post from this period to help you understand:

My therapist said that on some level I don't believe that I deserve to be happy. Which I snorted at. Honestly. Because I like me. Ego is not my problem. If anything, I suffer from pride, not low self esteem. Honestly assessing, I know I'm pretty (need to lose weight) but pretty. I know I'm smart, talented, witty, funny. I like myself. So the issue was filed into the " that's psychobabble" file that I have ...and forgotten. Much like my initial reaction to abandonment. Ha.

I got a couple of books for Christmas. Not the new Robert Jordan I wanted...but C.S. Lewis. I've a hankering for logic and wit and British phrasing. And in "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," a speech written by a high-ranking demon to a graduating class of Junior Tempters, I read this:

****************************************************

"Democracy" is the word with which you must lead them by the nose....it will never occur to them that "Democracy" is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. ...you are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a FACTUAL BELIEF THAT ALL MEN ARE EQUAL. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word "Democracy" to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of all human feelings. You can get him to practise, not only with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided.

The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say "I'm as good as you."

The first and most obvious advantage is that you induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good solid resounding lie. I don't mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty and good sense than in height or waist measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says "I'm as good as you" believes it.. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard does not say it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves in some way inferior. What it expresses is the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.

And therefore resents. Yes and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it, wishes its annihilation. (tries to beat it ...this is me... note by Maia)

..Now this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to the humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical of vices. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it ...by the incantatory use of the word "democratic"

Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their level. But that is not all. Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from it for fear of being "Undemocratic"

(I'll interject..."abnormal")

.....the basic principle of the new education is that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be "undemocratic" These differences between the pupils - for they are obviously and nakedly INDIVIDUAL differences - must be disguised. This can be done on various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance exams must be framed so that all or nearly all, ciyizens can go to universities, whether they have any powerto profit by higher education or not...the bright pupil thus remains fettered to his own age group throughout his school career and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coaeval's attempts to spell out "A cat sat on a mat"

**************************************************

okay. Now here we get down to it.

There is a difference between honest self-assessment and negative self-talk. You can't beat an addiction until you admit you HAVE one. And self-esteem. If your character and life have been marked by consistent moral failure...is it not best to admit that rather than to bury it and say, "I'm a good person"???

I've tried consistently to therefore face my own darkness. I've done it here a lot. I can't change what I do not recognize.

that said...my goal in life has always been to be Normal.

Not "democratic" exactly. But close to the same idea. "I'm as good as you."

It's a by-product of years of wearing ill-fitting clothes, having a mother who was unconscious most of the time, a dad who was absent ... being obviously a misfit and feeling an outcast among people who had clean homes and real parents. And later, real husbands who actually cared for them. Feeling that on some level, everyone else's life must be the Cosby Show or a beer commercial.

Love not the world.

Have you ever been pitied? In me it raises a burning anger. A defiance almost. "I'm as good as you, dammit." The pity of others is something I lived with for nearly 30 years. Try being the family that gets the charity donations at Christmas. I was grateful. But angry.

This attitude has marked much of my life and driven me to excel. And it has driven me to despair. And it has driven me to search for validation ... that I'm as good as you. I never said it. I've called it a quest for Normal. For Blah. And if I felt like I couldn't achieve what in my mind was the goal at that point...whatever I'd set up as Normal, I'd stir up drama so I'd have an excuse for not making it.

Reading this made me see that.

And more than that...I've seen that abandonment ... the rejection of my church, my friends, my family, xMM, a horde of boyfriends, my xH ... it has all raised in me this defiance to be "as good as you." Or better if I could be. I'm not saying it is rational, it is not. But did I make xMM a goal and refuse to let go? Yes. Why? Because he was my ticket to normal. My validation. My Savior, if you will. And if he would just LOVE ME then it would take away all the stings from all of those who didn't think I was good enough. And I set him up as that because he was a person who TOLD ME HE COULDN'T LOVE when we dated. What a trophy, to get him to love ME.

And I did achieve that in a twisted sense. But it wasn't enough. I wanted all that went with it. I wanted the beer commercial with HIM. He and I in starring roles.

seeing all of this put me in a REALLY bad mood yesterday. I tried to deny it. And I couldn't. This is envy and a weird sort of pride, make no mistake. And I know it.

anyhow.

I admit all of this to you. And in accepting it, I am asking my Lord and God to change me and remove it from me. This attitude.

I don't want to prove anything to anyone anymore, and especially not to myself. I'm not normal. But I'm me. And I'll be whatever God sees fit to make me. And I'm sorry I've been this way. More than that...there have been times that the rejection and abandonment were a result of my selfishness. And there were times when it was the result of failure on the part of others, not a reflection on ME. And I can now understand the difference. And I can confront and change myself. Courage to change what I can. Wisdom to know the difference.

xMM didn't love me, not in the "till death do us part" sense. We dated and then broke up and then he married someone else. Chose someone else over me ... and it is finally okay that he didn't choose ME. And I am sorry for what I have done to him. Actions motivated by this attitude were not...love. It was selfish pride.

and yes, my therapist was right. I believed the rejection of others meant i should not accept myself, be content, be happy. More than that, I viewed those rejections as affronts, accusations, to be squarely proven groundless. And I could not rest until I did that.

I'm not doing that anymore. I'm going to just accept myself as I am, and make every effort to improve when I am shown an area that needs it. But the validation? it has to come from within. And from God. And...He did all that I needed when He died for me.

anyhow, that's all.

I know the prayers of a lot of people helped me to see this.

as i studied SA, I learned about ritual chains and used that whole idea to unravel the ones i still had that would lead me to act out. Acting out for me now was mostly in my mind. Fantasies. But it was there. And I saw xOM for what he was... a fix. The haunting started to fade...not completely but it got a lot easier to deal with.

but I wasn't done yet.

I saw the need I had... but how to convince my heart that I was worthy of love? after all I had been and done? I hate myself a lot still and have a lot of anger still....I'm thawing some now toward my H but still have big issues.

and I'm mouthing Christian ideas but I see with all of this that I'm living as a practical agnostic. I'm starting to understand now that the "hunger" I have isn't for xOM at all. It's for approval, for a redemption, for acceptance, for yes...validation of a type that is on my HEART, on my SOUL... I want to prove them wrong, all those rejectors. HOW?

and how to heal my view of sex?

more soon.

okay so recap...

new lessons were:

9. I wanted redemption and had cooked up my own salvation plan that involved someone who had rejected me being turned around and made to love me...all by my own awesomeness.

(self-worth issues usually have a lot of pride in them)

10. I based my self-worth on approval of others and performance or a mix but it was never enough.

11. I really didn't believe I was worthy of Normal. or Good. So I sabotaged it.

12. I used sex as a means of getting power and control.

13. I had developed ritual chains that led to compulsive behaviors.

14. I was living as a practical agnostic. I did not believe or live in the light of the love and redemption of God or the faith I (now) professed.

one important thing for the rest of this to make sense is to know that I was reading Joseph Campbell and had found that was discovering truth and insight in weird places. I was looking at mythology and what it said to see recurring themes in the human psyche. But what I found was a story of death, burial and resurrection, over and over and over. I found that the Hero Quest in literature was a universal journey.

and then I heard John Eldredge on the radio.

John Eldredge talked about the hunger I felt. He talked about a religion of tips and techniques that causes you to petrify and causes your heart to wither... and then he talked about romance, and the burning hunger in my heart. He talked about yearning, the sense of joy...

that was something i still lacked. I was still hungry. dry. withered. desperately yearning still. filled sometimes, but still...limping. Growing, but yeah...shaky. I was still scared deep down. Afraid. I wrestled with doubt.

and I went nuts trying to find info and then went and bought the books.

and that is when I saw the rest of it. The Sacred Romance. Pieces of it had been coming to me throughout this journey. But I saw all of it now, all of the whys got answered. And the hole in my heart got totally filled. And the wounded places got healed. and the view of sex I had got transformed. and the wall of glass ...which had been shimmering and sometimes was gone... it shattered for good.

because I finally understood with my heart the love of God and what I meant to Him. And my worth got totally based on that. I'd understood it mentally before, like someone who knows Europe exists. Now I lived there. And I fell deeply and wholeheartedly in love with Jesus. and that was just before Christmas... not so long ago. But the shattered pieces of me fused with those books. well... not with the books, with the Person in them.

I know I had to go through that long process to get to the final healing.

and it was a process. I've written here about the truths I learned, but you cannot underestimate the work of putting these ideas into practice or of time in bringing about sanity. and this isn't ALL of it but it is the major stuff.

so there you go.

I think people can just move on without all of this. But I also think that like a bone that has to be rebroken and reset to heal... if you do that you risk further pain down the road.

We look for ourselves, our true selves, in the stories of others. And that is a good thing.

I read something this morning that I believe sums up what God was telling me in the image of the seeds.

I wanted a magic wand waved, an instant fix and balm for the pain.

God is a God of process. If you ask Him for an oak tree, He hands you an acorn.

I read that this morning and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I see all of the pain and writhing here and feel it anew, and want so much to give immediate help.

But God is a God of process.

looking at it like physical therapy helped me. I looked at the A as a train wreck where we were both damaged deeply. Anyone who has been to physical therapy knows the exercise and consistency and time needed to heal and return to full health.

that is very much a picture of the process.

-----

achievement unlocked. you read the whole thing ;-P

44 comments posted: Monday, January 21st, 2019

Maia's Withdrawal Survival Guide (repost for newbies)

This is a cut/paste from a previous post, a little bit modified for clarity. Hope it helps.

I will add that now i know that my own withdrawal was so intense because of grief over a lot of other things besides AP... but at the beginning it was all focused on the loss of AP and nearly drove me insane. So do not despair if you suffer a lot of pain and think that it "must be true love or it wouldn't hurt like this" That is a lie. You have other issues. But you have to get through this pain for now...and so here are my suggestions, what worked for me.

***********************************

okay, I'd be one of those who dealt with withdrawal for a year plus. And with obsessive thoughts. So lemme roll up my sleeves and tell you what's helped me.

first three or four months out I was on the floor unable to function. I found a message board and posted there constantly to start sorting out all i felt and thought. Also signed up with a GREAT family therapist for IC. He gave me the Feeling Good Handbook. I read it voraciously. Go get it. He asked me a question I'll never forget.

"what do you lose by losing FOM?"

answering that helped.

I started making a list of lies I had believed about myself and my marriage and FOM.

that helped too. So when a thought popped in I would replace it with the truth. The truth really does set you free. The uncovering of lies is always ongoing.

I'd been a Precept leader at one point. I started an inductive Bible study on love in the the Bible. I hit Song of Solomon pretty hard and enrolled in a class in it with my H at church. also worked through 1 Peter together. (precept.org)

I prayed a lot. I got prayer from others. there is a Prayer thread on the I Can Relate board for this purpose. Go join if you are so inclined. I honestly do not care if you are Wiccan or Hindu. I will pray for you. Post requests. No bashing will be found there.

I have two friends I can talk to any time. Being honest and open with people helped me be honest with self. I think a lot of the thoughts were a result of bottling it all up, keeping silent for years.

I changed my playlist. Any music that triggered me got zapped.

I changed my route home. I changed grocery stores, avoided places that triggered me.

I turned to my husband, opening up and talking for HOURS. Yes about FOM. That man deserves a medal. Honestly.

I felt a connection. The only way I can describe it is haunted, where I 'd feel like he was in the room with me. When one of those waves hit it was really hard. But I just decided that a connection didn't mean I had to keep being connected. I didn't have to act on it. Maybe it was just my imagination. A big imagination with a strong will acting on it can be a scary thing. But either way I made a conscious decision I was not going to act in those times. A couple of times I broke and emailed but when I did I told my H. It is important that when you fail yourself that you do NOT GIVE UP. You get up and start all over. A relapse is not the end of the world. It is an opportunity to discover the trigger and deactivate it.

I dug and dug and dug for what it was that was the root of it all.

I logged the thoughts. Times, exactly what they were. Reading them helped a lot. I could see how stupid they were. I studied the stages of grief so I could identify when I was bargaining, angry, in denial, etc. A quote from a post someone had helped me see this:

the five stages of grief…

1. DENIAL – the shock of finally realizing that it’s only an A to MM and MM is not leaving his BW or giving up anything (for some of us it’s a D-day and the realization that we were not that important as MM led us to believe in the grand scheme of their lives…just fill in the blank ________

2. ANGER --- you realize that MM is a rat bastard or you realize that MM is a “nice guy” but he dragged you along to keep is life OK…or a host of other angry thoughts…just fill in the blank _______

3. BARGAINING --- if I accept things the way they are I can still be in MM’s life and I’ll feel OK. I might be able to see him at work and keep the conversations light...I might be able to call him from time to time and “just be friends” any contact is better than no contact…just fill in the blank _________

4. DEPRESSION --- I am sh*t, I am nothing…I deserve this treatment…What am I going to do without him…I cannot go on…just fill in the blank _________

5. ACCEPTANCE --- OK…this is wearing me out and getting me no where…MM is staying where he is with BW and I’m sitting home alone and doing nothing but vegetating. I have to make more out of my life than sitting around waiting to be with MM … I’m going to live my life…and, hey! It’s not so bad being stress free of all the bullsh*t!...just fill in the blank ________

you are in the bargaining stage of the stages of grief. Any type of contact with MM is better than nothing. Loving him unconditionally and waiting in the background as long as you can still have him in your life in any way. Making a deal with yourself to ease the pain to avoid what is reality.

Please investigate the stages of grief and you will realize what you are doing at this time during the ending of your A. The Anger, Bargaining and Depression stages can fluctuate and toggle back in forth throughout the whole experience.

Eventually you will reach acceptance regarding your MM and realize that the situation will not improve for you and you will become increasingly unhappy.

_______________________

I tried to be thankful. I made a thankful list to record all the blessings I have and to dwell on those instead of my envy or lust or anger.

slowly the content of the thoughts changed. slowly I felt better, able to function. Slowly I saw him differently.

I modified the 12 steps and tried to practice them. I listened to a lot of sermons online. Alisdair Begg, Chuck Swindoll (he has several series on marriage that just rock) I read Gandhi. I read Joseph Campbell and thought about the hero quest and how it applied to me.

and I worked hard at identifying the things in my marriage that hurt, that I wanted to escape from. I faced those things...this is ongoing. Instead of stuffing my thoughts and feelings I started to tell my H. We went to MC.

I had to forgive FOM and myself and H. I had to forgive a lot of other people too as old wounds that still affected me were brought to light. still have to some days.

I studied abandonment and worked through the AKERU exercises (abandonment.net). The inner dialogues helped me a lot . I worked through a lot of stuff at recoverynation.com. I read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Read it aloud to my H. We went through the Emotional Needs Questionnaire at marriagebuilders.com. I have tried to adhere to the things they teach there.

I learned how to take a wave apart and look at it. What led up to it? why was I upset ? what exactly was I thinking? what need could be met exactly and how could it be met in a healthy way? what was I running from or afraid of? what did I need to confess? or accept? what lie did I need to replace with truth? where did I need to repent? what habits did I need to change? I 'd pick a habit and work on stopping whatever it was. one of my big ones was tarot. I was NOT walking with God throughout those years and got really new age. I did tarot all day sometimes. it got chucked. All the books, all the decks, all my online memberships. I read cards professionally for a while, that had to end too. I'd look at what led up to it. Anatomy of a wave. I'd try to find what triggered it. And usually it was stress or anxiety about something going on right now. A bad phone call, a pressure on me from work. Knowing that helped me to find other ways to handle the stress. It wasn't HIM I missed, it was the support. I needed to find new outlets, new supports, some of them from within. Most of them from within.

you know? the wave of pain? It was normally brought on by "magical thinking" As a good friend told me:

"It is also important to recognize that we feed our addiction with our minds. It is a bitch. An alki has to go buy and drink the booze; a junky has to score and shoot the dope, all we have to do is replay the past or fantasize about the future. "

see in an A you build in little habits to keep connected when you don't see the person. To keep it alive.

so you have to dismantle that whole apparatus. you know what it is... maybe you visit certain places on the web or listen to certain music, replay certain memories. it has to stop. you have to switch gears. Replace those things. do that for your husband, your kids, your family and friends instead.

I covered my computer with sticky notes. Whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is excellent or worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Any thoughts not meeting the criteria get booted or examined or both.

I read anything and everything I could find.

one thing I really struggled with was competing desires. opposing competing desires. I 'd list the desires, all of them and determine which ones were in conflict and then try to figure out why and where they were coming from. I prayed a lot for my desires to change and be godly. sow a thought reap an action. sow an action reap a habit. sow a habit reap a character. sow a character, reap a destiny.

I discovered that I was an idolater. I worked hard to make my god my God again.

another idea that struck me as powerful and set me on the right path:

*****************

">>>Just trying to figure this out...what is it about xMM that makes us so obsessive over him? Why is it that, although its obvious that so many of the women out there attempting to get over him are intelligent, we get sucked into a relationship that is so wrong and so difficult to dismiss? <<<

There is a very simple answer to that: it isn't really anything about xMM. It's us.

Easy enough to turn away from somebody not right for you, once you see them for what/who they are. But once you imbue them with stuff *you* yourself provide - projecting ideals, coloring in the blanks with stuff of your own making - it's a different ballgame. Because it is a hell of a lot more difficult to turn away from yourself.

If you have ever taken a psych 101 class, you know how easy it is to simply reflect a person back at herself. All you do is repeat what they said, only with a question mark at the end.

Somebody tells you: "I hate my mother."

All you do is repeat, with question mark: "You hate your mother?"

You have not added anything to the conversation, much less shown even a tad of yourself. All you have done is play mirror. Yet, by giving this response, the other person will think that:

1) You understand them

2) You sympathize

3) You want to hear more and are genuinely interested

Such a simple technique, yet it works like a charm. Now combine this with a relationship that is highly charged. Both parties anxious and eager/fearful to see certain reactions. Time for communication often severely limited. The communication itself under much stress. The main priority often to establish that yes, we are still interested in each other - which takes precedence over any real, give-and-take, non-stressful communication. Voila: perfect conditions for projection on both sides.

So many blanks to fill in... and being in love, we fill them in with the highest and most beautiful things our minds and hearts can come up with. Try turning away from THAT. Try turning away from the best *you* have come up with.

The only way is to see it was you. Not them. Get it straight, take back yours, see it for what it is. Then, maybe, you can turn away."

************************

some things I learned along the way...

NC=love for all involved.

friends is code for an EA. There is no being friends.

you don't have to WANT to do what is right. Do what is right and the wanting to can come later. You'll be happy you did.

your heart really will follow your head.

take it one hour at a time. Breathe. Deep breaths. That helps.

you know, I used to spend my days talking to him. It killed me to have to restructure my life. Like amputation.

one hour at a time.

When it got bad I would stop, look around the room and name colors, it helped me to be present in the NOW. Posting helped too. Focusing on my kids. Getting up and going for a walk. Calling a friend.

you can do this. Lie number ONE that your junkie mind will tell you is that you cannot do this. It is NOT TRUE. You can do this. It will get easier. You are UNCOMFORTABLE not UNABLE. they are not the same thing. Part of it is brain chemistry and it is physical. Go get antidepressants to help with that part. That will recede. It will get easier.

and on the other side lies self-respect.

ETA:

About that getting forgiveness from OP...this will crop up and it is a temptation or lure to get you to break NC, it's bargaining. Do not break it.

however, you can imagine him/her forgiving you.

I did that. I get to choose how I view OM now because he is gone. And always will be, it doesnt matter. I know GOD has forgiven me, and I asked Him to let OM forgive me... and then I placed it in His hands. And then I just.. pictured OM forgiving. It doesnt matter if he has or not. I'll never interact with him again. I trust my Lord to take care of it. it isn't something I have to control. So you can imagine it, picture it... pray for him, and then let it go.

thats one thing I do ..still..if he does pop into my head. Because sometimes he does. I pray for him and his W and kids. I probably always will.

[This message edited by Maia at 9:59 AM, April 1st (Wednesday)]

414 comments posted: Thursday, December 7th, 2006

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