Saturday, June 05, 2004

the how and the why of it

tim writes in the comments

'With addictions/compulsions I have found the "why?" question to hard to answer straight up. I have found that a "how?" question is a good starting point. How does this work for me? How does it give me relief? How does it allow me to get revenge? Once I can answer these questions I can start to piece together why I do it. Keep talking. The angels are rejoicing about your choice to enter the light.'

first - thank you tim and all of the others who have been praying for me and emailing me. as i answered anj's email yesterday i said that hitting the 'publish post' button yesterday was like lifting a 500 lbs. weight. afterward i was shaking, crying and exhausted.

but i didn't turn to any addictions to comfort me. i called my husband and he prayed for me, i snuggled with my kids a bit and i guess i did a bit of compulisive blog reading, but other than that god kept me, through your prayers from sin - 1601!

so, just for today, i choose to breathe, to unclench my teeth, relax my shoulders and enjoy today for what it is. a lot of cleaning and lawn work. :) i choose to integrate myself into my community instead of withdrawing. feel my feelings, even if they are scary and maintain my constant contact with god.

back to tim's comment. the 'why' of it all didn't come until years into my recovery, slowly bit by bit (and i still don't understand it all). but he's right - the 'how' is a good start, so how does this work for me?

it's only as long as it was 'working' that i kept habitually participating in active addictions, when it ceased to work i hit bottom. until that point what i traded was 'worth it' to me. it was only when i realized the full impact of what it was doing to my marriage, my family and myself - especially my relationship with god, that it finally stopped 'working'.

my addictions also stopped working for me when i finally began to understand god's grace.

it's only when we 'get' grace that we can break through the shame that motivates our addictions. up to that point god was some sick, twisted masochist (i didn't admit this to my brain, but that's truly what i believed when i started to pull it all apart). grace breaks the cycle.

it seems so backwards, if we have grace we're going to sin more - but that's not true. that's what the grace police (mike yaconelli's term) want us to believe - but it's a lie.

grace breaks the shame, it shatters it - not instantly, it's still a lot of work to replace the lies with the truth, but when you begin to fully understand it it's like a virus spreading through your computer - but this one fixes things instead of making them broken.

the word picture that explains what it felt like during my deepest darkest moments was that i felt like i was flushing myself down a huge toilet, and as i circled the bowl, that big dark tunnel at the bottom was just sucking me down. grace took a net and scooped me out. (what a stupid word picture, sorry - i wish i was jen lemen then i'd have a beautiful picture here - but that is truly what it was like for me).

that dark tunnel was suicide for me. i will post on that soon, but i don't want to get sidetracked (again).

how does it give me relief? two words - instant gratification. that's what it was all about. i didn't have to do the work it took to have real intimacy - i had 'it' instantly. and because i never had experienced real intimacy this forgery was 'good enough' and i couldn't imagine ever trusting anyone else enough to have real intimacy, so why should i give it up?

real intimacy is hard, it's work, and it's SCARY as hell. i have been married for almost 17 years, and i've known my husband for 20. do we have intimacy? sometimes. when our addictions don't get in the way. we've been in couple's therapy this past year to try to re-learn what other people know automatically. stuff that was never taught in our homes growing up. trust, respect, honor, intimacy, communication. stuff like that.

if you are an addict there is almost 100% surity that your significant is an addict - and if you're single, unless you 'fix' things you will always attract an addict. it's some broken eternal principle. healthy people stay away from unhealthy. they can spot us miles away. i fought the idea that my youth pastor husband was an addict with my therapist for years. she was convinced he dealt secretly with sexual sin too. he doesn't. not that he isn't tempted at times to view something innappropriate, it's just not his thing.

it was then i remembered that he finished his degree in 3 years instead of 4, worked crazy long shifts for years in our lives, left me with two tiny babies alone in the middle of nowhere while he worked 'part time' for a church and nearly full time at the job that paid our bills... hmmm, do you think he might have work issues??

bunny trailed again... sorry. how does it give me relief? for me it was about control. i still have HUGE control issues. our sex life is fully under my control. yuck. didn't like to have to write that, but it's true. because of my freaked out survivor stuff and the fact that i'm abstinent, living like a nun would be just fine with me most of the time.

control during the addict years meant that i didn't have to wait for him to meet my needs. i punished (this answers the next question - about revenge) him (and all men) by not needing him. fulfilling my own needs, and not being present during the times we did have sex.

side note - there was another 'persona' that was the sex kitten and uninhibited about sex that did visit at times. i don't think it was an alter (like mpd or anything that formal) but there was definately an altered state that i would sometimes allow myself to achieve where i became the whore. neither the nun or the whore was a true representation of 'bobbie' - i am not present in either of those personas. (even further off track side note - this is why many abuse survivors turn to alcohol and drugs - so that altered state during sex can be achieved more easily).

how does it allow me to get revenge? it wasn't until i read the wounded heart by dan allander that i began to understand the anger that i had toward my abuser that i was channelling at liam (the fake name he's chosen to be called here) the term allander used was 'surrogate abuser' - i treated him like he was the man who raped me. i couldn't get in touch with the anger i felt at that man, so i directed it at him.

i know that's where the physical attacks came from. i didn't know it then, but i was attacking him like i wanted to attack my abuser years ago.

one of the things that has brought me great healing is being involved with an incredible ministery called the international justice mission, gary haugen and his associates tour the world looking for victims to help, free and rescue - praying for them regularly and supporting them financially allows me to get that 'revenge' on abusers, those who steal innocence and victimize the weak.

replacing those broken areas with real live truth has helped bring healing to my life. real intimacy, control in areas of my life that i'm supposed to have control over instead of trying to control everything and everyone around me, seeking justice for wrongs committed. participating in reality, instead of brokenness has brought me much peace. thank you for reading my stories.


Anonymous said...

do you know of other resoures that give insight to the surrogate abuser besides Allender's

bobbie said...

sorry, i don't - but i did type surrogate abuser into google and amazon and amazon had some resources, google wasn't very helpful - maybe quotations might give it a better search? sorry.