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Archive for April, 2009

For a while now, something less than a year but more than a couple of months and it’s hard to pin it down any more than that, I have not thought of myself as wiccan. Not some great and terrible revelation; one day I woke up, looked out the window, and thought, “Maeve, you’ve modified this so much that it doesn’t resemble anything that anyone else calls wicca anymore. You need to let it go.”

It hurt, but nothing like leaving the church. I think maybe holding on to it for so long was just my way of legitimating a lifelong worship of trees.

And the more time goes by, the more I realize that I still worship trees.

The solstices and equinoxes still mean what they always did.

I still walk out the door this time of year and feel that I am surrounded by saints, icons, temples, spirits, gods; I still feel rooted like a tree when I’m in the woods; I still talk to plants and animals; nothing’s really changed, except that I can’t call it wicca anymore. But it’s something, and I don’t know what to name it. It’s something too big to be nameless, but every name I attempt feels too small. It deserves a name and I can’t give it one.

I have my own religion, I think. But it’s one without a god or any concept of deity whatsoever; except that there is divinity, and grace, and the holy, and the sacred.

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I have a boyfriend

yep. That pretty much covers it.

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Skepticism

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t handle the Ex’s sex addiction particularly well.

I rarely talked to him about it. When I became suspicious he was acting out again, I didn’t ask him, I snooped. I didn’t withhold sex as punishment for his misdeeds but I certainly became a lot less interested, and it probably felt like the same thing. I talked to no one outside the family about it, or almost no one. I had a hard time defining boundaries let alone enforcing them and outside of extracting meaningless promises never to do it again I did not ask for nor enforce any significant changes.

So it’s not like I reject everything about family systems theory.

Just most of it.

Two years after the separation–six years plus after the discovery–I cannot wrap my mind around that way of thinking. I can accept that the maladaptive actions of family members can unwittingly reinforce the addiction and make it worse; I cannot accept that the addiction exists only in that family system and that everyone in the family is part of the system and has a hand in creating and maintaining the addiction.

My newborn daughter? Then my toddler daughter? Really?

Any suggestion that PP was part of a “family system” that perpetuated the Ex’s addiction repulses me. She was a victim and innocent bystander if ever there was one. I can be persuaded that, given enough time, she might have become part of a system–that it might have significant altered her development and personality–that it will alter her development and personality, even though I left, because of who her father is–but that’s it.

I also cannot accept that the partner of an addict has an addiction to that kind of relationship and is destined to repeat them, over and over again.

Yet I find myself often thinking of those books and articles that state with near-religious conviction that the partner of a sex addict who leaves will just find another sex addict, and so is better off staying and working on her issues within the context of that relationship. I don’t buy it. I just don’t.

I don’t think the authors are lying, but their samples are restricted to those who seek counseling for their sex addiction and relationship problems, which must bias it. I’d be very surprised if the majority of people leaving sex addicts find themselves with another one.

My relationship history has obviously been fucked up. But the Ex is the only sex addict in the bunch. Since leaving him, I have in fact done better. OK, the pseudo-relationship with the Engineer was a train wreck, but it was a *short-lived* train-wreck in which I shortly came to my senses, realized how much I was being lied to and taken advantage of, and *left*. I resisted getting involved with guys who I sensed would be trouble. OK, the thing with the SA didn’t end as well as I had hoped, but he was still a nice guy who treated me well, just not an adult. Certainly not a sex addict. Yes, there were addictive elements to those relationships, but I think I see them just because I’m so much more sensitive to them now; I can’t think of a single relationship among my friends that has no addictive elements. I can’t be sure about what’s developing with the RG but I have my eyes wide open, and so far I think he’s exactly who he says he is. I will probably never get it perfect, but that’s ok.

The experts say that codependents don’t set boundaries, don’t set consequences for crossing lines, accept abuse.

And then they tell codependents–who are mostly women–that they should learn how to set boundaries and consequences, just not *that* boundary. Anything but saying, “that’s it, I’m leaving.” Or at least not until some specified period of time has passed to prove that the marriage is unsalvageable, which to me comes back to that idea that somehow a marriage is something worth preserving above and beyond the happiness of its members, which seems ridiculous.

Where are the empirical studies that prove that a person who leaves an addict will end up with another one?

Where are the empirical studies that demonstrate how codependents make faster progress within their marriage to an addict than they would make on their own?

Who says the skills are transferrable anyway? OK, so you’ve done some recovery work and you have an easier time setting and enforcing boundaries with an addict husband but it doesn’t work out in the end and you leave him anyway–where is the guarantee that you will be able to use those new skills with the next relationship? I mean, people are not identical, and we don’t relate to them in identical ways. Boy it was easy talking to and expressing needs with the SA–but he’s a chatterbox who is constantly talking about his feelings.

I’m at the point now where I can accept that there were things I overlooked and things I did while dating the Ex that conspired to land me in that relationship, and there were a whole lot of reasons for them, and I take full responsibility for all of that–but not for his lies, and not for being fooled by his lies, and not for his addiction. After thinking about it now for many years I do not believe that any of my actions could have contributed to him recovering. He is not interested in recovering. He is interested in hiding. Leaving was the right thing to do. I could not have become sane while I was married to him; I don’t feel codependent at all, now that we’re not together.

(Sort of like living with my parents. Holy hell I had a temper when I was growing up, and they blamed me for it all the time; but I don’t lose my temper when I live on my own. The potential is still there I’m sure but what seemed like an innate characteristic turned out to be situtation-dependent; maybe everybody would look codependent in a relationship with a sex addict.)

(Sort of like how it turns out that lots of alcoholics recover on their own, don’t use the 12-steps, and do continue drinking in moderation–but because they don’t see therapists the therapists don’t count them or know they exist. When you’re a shrink and you base your theories only on the people you seek you out, you have a biased sample.)

So what gives, Experts? On what basis do you advise the partners of addicts to stay in the relationship? Where is your non-anecdotal evidence?

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*whistling*

(Scene: group of women in an upscale semi-gentrified DIY kitchen of red IKEA laminate cupboards, at a table set with plates of veggie lasagna, salad, bread and dips, drinking red wine, smoking cigarettes and other burnables (though not your truly) and reading poetry aloud. It’s getting close to midnight, and the heroine¬† is anxiously checking the clock.)

B: You have to get going soon, don’t you.

M: Yeah, pretty soon.

B: How are  you getting home?

M: Umm..I’ll be on the subway, but…

B: Oh that’s right, you’re not going home!

M: No.

B: Wait a minute–where are you going?

E: Would you like a ride to the subway?

M: Yeah, that would be great.

[B starts bouncing in her seat and wagging her finger in M’s direction.]

N: Oh? Where are you going?

E: Where do you live?

M: N.Y.

E: I can drive you to the Y line, if that’s more convenient for you.

M: No, the B line is great, thanks.

[B still bouncing, looking as if the force of contained questions may actually cause her to explode.]

E: Oh that’s right, you’re not going home. [pause] Where are you going?

M: I’ll be … heading towards the H station.

E: Oh! OK, I’ll drop you off on the B line.

[B nearing spontaneous combustion]

E: So wait, where are you going?

M: Uh…

B: Have you met someone new?

M: Umm, well, yes.

group: Oh!

N: And you’re meeting up at his place after midnight?

M: Well no, we’ve met before. It’s been close to two months–he’s not a psychopath.

N: That’s good.

[B still vibrating.]

[topic of conversation changes. Post-midnight date forgotten. M breathes sigh of relief.]

N: So where’d you meet him?

~~~~~

Another great weekend in which I fell even further behind on work.

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Protected: profile: rough notes

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Subtle, guys.

Can’t help but notice that the post about the three-day date got oodles of pageviews, even if few of you commented. You and your dirty minds! Honestly, where will it end?

I’m thinking of posting the ‘profile’ behind a password. Same one as before, if you’re curious; if you don’t have it/can’t remember it, just post a comment and ask. I’ll probably say yes.

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