Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update


It's been a life-changing few months. I often want to post about the trees, but I don't think they'll make sense without the forest – so here it goes...

>>>New Therapist
When I woke my parents up and told them I was using in their home, I think the seriousness of my addictions really sank in. We talked the next day about what to do next. First came the difficult acknowledgement that I am, first and foremost, a sex addict. Chemicals are just icing on my porn cake. At this point, they happen to be willing and financially able to help, so we looked into inpatient sex addiction clinics. When we saw how much they cost, paying for a therapist who is specifically trained in sex addiction didn't look so bad, so that's where we started. After some research, I really clicked with a guy in Carlsbad, which is about an hour from my home. We jumped right into Patrick Carnes material, and I knew I was in the right place. So far it's been excruciatingly painful at times, and probably more helpful than anything else I've done.

>>>Marital Separation
I stayed with my parents until the middle of September and went home a couple of weeks before I wrapped things up at the church. The time away from my wife was amazingly helpful. Being there of my own initiative (instead of being “kicked out”) allowed me to grow instead of sulk. I don't think I ever realized how codependent I am with my wife. Even with the lost job and being separated from my family, I felt positive most of the time. Somewhere along the line, I had learned that I wasn't allowed to be happy unless Linsey was happy, which frankly isn't very often. This has been a huge change.

>>>Job Loss
What a complicated, confusing mess. Sometimes in life you have to look a list of truths and let them sit, side by side, even if they seem to conflict with each other. Here are a few of them:
-My (former) pastor (and boss) had encouraged me to ask for more help if I needed it. When I did, he fired me.
-My using had not really affected my job (in any tangible way) but at a church, it seriously affected my integrity.
-Many church members (who knew the whole story, without edits) were crazy mad that I was fired and were ready to fight the decision.
-Whether or not the pastor made the right decision is not what matters. That I lost my job to my addiction is what matters. Let me say it again, in the interest of thoroughly hitting bottom: I lost my job to my addiction.
-My wife told church members not to fight the pastor – that it was time for us to move on and that I needed to feel a consequence. She was right.
-I have been increasingly unhappy with the pastor's leadership decisions in the last few years. He's made some seriously destructive mistakes, become more and more dictatorial, and is showing significant signs of memory loss. He is unwilling to retire. That's not sour grapes, it's just what is.
-I've been in conversation with a few potential employers, but was too afraid of change to leave my position. If I'd been healthier, I would have left years ago. Instead I chose to do it the stupid way.
-Leaving my position in that church has been one of the best things that's ever happened to me and my family.
-Getting fired from my position in that church has been one of the most painful and difficult things that's ever happened to me and my family.

>>>Rehab
Two weeks at Kaiser's Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Program. Very helpful – lots of good tools and connections. Good use of time in my first two weeks of being unemployed. As the name implies, it's a chemical dependency program, not a sex addiction clinic. But it's all good.

>>>Grief and Divorce Recovery
My aunt happens to run an amazing Grief and Divorce Recovery group. You don't have to be going through a divorce to attend, just grieving something. She told me I would be grieving the loss of my church, and that I should attend. Honestly, I think I've been grieving the healthy church I used to work at for the last three or four years. What I have never dealt with, however, is the gut-wrenching pain in my marriage. I carry debilitating anger and resentment for the first twelve years of our marriage, during which Linsey repeatedly explained to me that we didn't need outside help because there were no problems to work on. I've committed to doing whatever uncomfortable “grief work” this workshop tells me to do – drawing pictures, writing “unsent” letters, and other such things.

And letting go of old marriage-hurts is the right thing to do at this point. Because it's not about Linsey right now, or my marriage, or my career, or anything else. It's about me, a recovering sex addict. And I have hope right now. It feels nice.

20 comments:

  1. Eli, I passed your name in my blog list a few days ago and I wondered how you were doing. Its so good to hear from you. Walking in the light can only lead to good in our lives. We haven't done organized religion in many years because of too many situations like your pastor created.

    My heart goes out to Linsey too. I know what denial and saying we have no problems to work through is like. Exhausting trying to keep that facade up and going.

    Glad you are back!

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  2. Eli,

    I found your blog just a few weeks ago and poured through it in a matter of days and prayed for a fairy tale ending...and then, it just stopped.  I was so worried about you and I'm so elated to see you back, sober, healthy and in a better place emotionally.

    My husband is also a recovering SA; attends SAA; working his steps; sees a therapist who worked under Carnes and is doing well.  We have our ups and downs but who doesn't?

    I'm rooting for you, Eli!!  =)

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  3. Eli, this all sounds really promising and I can relate on so many levels.  I have a lot of anger toward my husband for his unwillingness to work on the marriage in years past and then acting the way he did when it finally fell apart.  I am working really hard on letting that all go and on most days I do really well.  Other days, meh.  But I'm working on it.  I definitely will not use over it.

    I'm pulling for you, my blogging friend.  I really am.

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  4. Eli, I am glad that you are doing well and making changes that will lead to more contentment.  Getting through the marriage resentments is a good thing. 

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  5. Nice to see you again Eli.

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  6. Hi Eli. Glad to see at least one sex addict still posting. I've recently started my own diary and found that most (at least that I've been able to find through google) are abandoned. Good luck.

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  7. I'm thankful for your blog. I'm a coaddict and wife of a sex addict. My husband's father is a pastor and my husband grew up in a very religious family. It's good to read from the perspective of the addict. I will continue to read and share.

    Good luck on your journey of healing.

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  8. Eli,
    It's been my experience that there is a reason for everything under the sun.  It sounds like there's been lots of change and it's been painful.  But I also hear some HOPE and that makes me very happy for you.  Don't forget your gratitude list!
    Heather

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  9. hey - it's been 3 months and no update, just wondering if you're okay??

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  10. Thanks for blogging.  My husband is a sex addict.  No chemical dependancy.  But the sex addiction might be even stronger than a chemical dependancy, or so it feels that way sometimes.  Thank you for blogging.  I might just steal a paragraph from you post to share on my blog. I will link it.  Thanks for sharing your story.  It helps me, even in my situation.

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  11. Janelle, thanks so much for your comment.

    I don't quite understand it, but in my situation, the sex addiction was indeed stronger than the chemicals.

    Feel free to quote with a link. Whenever we see someone else who shares an experience, we feel a little less alone, right?

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  12. What a blessing to be asked that question by someone who cares. Yes, I'm making slow and painful progress with my new therapist, and I'm still sober from the chemicals and acting out sexually. I'm now digging into the other side, the "acting in" sexually, and seeing the pieces of this obsession that will have to go on my abstinence list. One thing at a time.

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  13. Thanks Heather. Hope is what it's all about lately. Some days I have it and some days I don't. But I've lost some weight and quit tobacco, and what everyone tells me is that this shows that I have hope again. Otherwise, why bother? I will write a post on hope soon.

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  14. Sounds like I have a lot in common with your husband. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog. Writing about the worst seems to give me some strength, and reading about others' toughest times makes me feel less alone. I hope your journey is coming along and that you're finding moments of peace during this tough time!

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  15.  Hi Berry- you're right. Most of the sex addiction blogs I've followed have been abandoned. I'm not sure why and I'd like to post about that very question. I think there's something uniquely private and shameful about sex addiction. Sometimes for me it feels like I can barely find the strength to face my daily steps of healing, and the thought of blogging is just simply overwhelming.

    I hope you'll come back by and share your blog's address.

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  16.  Nice to be missed! Blessings.

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  17. Exactly - getting through the marriage resentments is one of the absolute most important things. It is an excruciatingly painful process. My therapist is basically asking me to surrender any hope of intimacy, and learn how to be a whole person regardless of my marriage. I guess I knew this was coming, but it's been very difficult. And I am beginning to appreciate the little moments of tenderness, even if that's all they are - just a moment.

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  18. Thank you thank you thank you WOW! What an incredible blessing it is to know that others are walking a similar path. Successful surrender is indeed fickle, and I'm just trying to breath deeply moment by moment. I am thankful for your encouragement and I'll try to stop by soon.

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  19. Another comment I REALLY wish I'd replied to earlier. What an honor to hear that you were interested in my story. And no, it isn't over - but I'm walking through some pretty dark places. I'm so glad to hear that your husband's working with a Carnes therapist. The ups and downs are livable when you know you're on the right path.

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  20. Really good to hear from you Annette. And yeah, unfortunately pastors injure people with their mistakes too often. I now find myself working part time in a different denomination, for an old pastor friend who got screwed in a different, but equally painful, way. We've been really helpful for each other, and we're both finding a lot of healing. He also happens to be the kind of leader and boss I was looking for, and I am repeatedly finding validation that I wasn't crazy before - things were messed up at my last church, and I wasn't imagining it. Now if I could just make a little bit more money...

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