Thursday, October 1, 2009

Unreachable Pie

I'm in that familiar post-relapse conundrum. A poisonous emotional mixture that's usually buried is now very accessible. I know for a fact that these emotions were already bubbling up; my inability to handle them contributed to my relapse in the first place. And once I start using, everything I've been suppressing comes spilling out in an orgy of self-pity and resentment. So it is with the alcoholic. The Big Book nails it on this point.

When I'm healthy and sober, I sometimes find it difficult to pinpoint exactly what I'm angry about. That is not my problem this week.

On the other hand, I'm pretty much in the doghouse, for lack of a better phrase. I screwed up. Right now seems like the absolute least appropriate time to bring up the things in my marriage that I'm mad about. I mean, what kind of a jackass complains about his sex life after relapsing for the umpteenth time?

I broke the trust of someone who has some pretty serious trust issues to begin with: an incest-survivor. For Linsey, the “survivor” part meant becoming a full-fledged adult somewhere around the age of eleven, and building walls that are tall and strong and impenetrable enough that no one would hurt her again, ever. As I've said before, look at us: The untrusting and the untrust-worthy. What a pair.

And yet, here we are. And once she says “I miss you and I want you again,” we get back to work. “Work” is the right word. I used to think about how awesome it would be to go to sex therapy, and come home with sex assignments. That's the kind of homework that you can look forward to, right? Not so much. Turns out it's mind-games, tedious conversations, passionless high-effort encounters, and triggers upon triggers, like walking through a mine-field. And once in a while, if the stars align just so, when we least expect to find nirvana, we stumble into a tenderness that is mutual and full of warmth and excitement. Just often enough to remind us that it's possible, that we're not chasing after a mirage. Just often enough to whet my appetite for more, and to make me realize how truly hungry I am for her.

Restaurants sometimes display your dessert choices using artificial models of apple pie a-la-mode and Boston cream pie behind a glass counter. They know how it works: You might be planning on saving that extra money or avoiding a few calories, but a convincing enough vision of a decadent hot fudge cake just might change your mind. Of course, when you order, you're not served a foam rubber, plastic and spray-paint concoction, but the real thing. At this point, only an actual dessert would satisfy your appetite.

I am married to a woman who is beautiful and charming. She makes me laugh like no one else. I am also married to an incest survivor. I'm tired of staring through the glass at my dessert.

[Photo by DigiDi under C.C.License]
This post also at


  1. I often read your posts and think to myself that I am both of you. A sex addict and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I am two appointments away from finishing an intense 2 year path of therapy for the abuse. The other day I got triggered and it was a blip on the radar screen....I talked myself through it in half a minute and carried on with my day. I never thought it was possible not to have a trigger derail me but it is.

    I understand that place of tenderness in a marriage. That, too, for me and my husband is what has anchored us through some pretty rough spots.

  2. your honesty is so refreshing. work with your sponsor and do some step work and keep doing what your doing. this hard stuff that you are going through, will pass and if you work your steps you will find your thoughts much more at ease.
    we too are starting counseling. communication is our problem, trying to understand each other. take care of you.

  3. I think that probably it takes time to rebuild trust after a relapse for both parties. I know that I felt betrayed by my wife when she was drinking. I was too angry to be interested in being intimate. I think that time will help.

  4. Hope - Your feelings reading my blog sound a little like mine when I read some of the codie-wife blogs. I often feel like I'm hearing my story from both side of their situations. It is very encouraging to hear of others finding peace in the face of triggers.

    C&C - I'm extremely busy with my step work. It is amazingly healing, but slow. All the best to you and your husband in your therapy. It helps a great deal.

    Syd - Definitely right. Probably the most important thing for me right now is to remember that her distance (today) is due to my recent actions more than her distant past. After some healing time, we can get back to work on the "old stuff."

  5. i think time and communication are your best friends. use them and you'll both get to the top together. you're in my thoughts...

  6. When I made my life about "satisfying my appetite." I just about ended up dead. Apparently, my appetite is insatiable.

    More wine, more women, more song please. 'Tis the cure for all that was ailing me.

    For me, self-pity is a killer. And I could always find a reason to get into that self-pity. I used to live there. I still want to go there.

    And, somehow, by working those steps, by working for others, by working for my recovery, the obsession to porn, to drink, to chat, was lifted.

    I don't have the will power to stop drinking and porning. I still don't and never will. But I can apply my will power to the work of recovery. Especially when my mind finds me reasons to feel sorry for poor me.

    My sponsor's voice keeps ringing through my head "time takes time." If I wanted the benefits of working the steps, I needed to do the work, put the time in, and then my life would slowly change. Someone else told me that my Higher Power would change my life "slowly, simply, and subtly."

    Change does come! just not in our time.

  7. Oh Eli this was so beautiful. I can relate to this so much. My husband and I have moments too where love just rushes between us and I realize that there is still something there worth fighting for. I am thinking of you and you wife. Hang in there.

  8. Very compelling and honest post. I think that rebuilding trust and care takes time, an amazing book I'm reading is called Intimacy and
    Solitude byt Stephanie Dowrick...amazing and so true in it's surge of ideas that we are not always so great at intimacy and solitude.

    Love and hope on your journey.


  9. Oh wow. hugs, Eli.

    That picture... perfect. You write so well and tie it all up so meaningfully.


  10. Eli I read this a while ago and thought I had left a comment but I guess I did'nt...

    I want to encourage you to continue writing, it has helped me so much work things out and it is so theraputic... plus you are really good at this.


  11. I am your wife. Don't give up. Thank you for your blog.