I remember being a kid and watching TV, something scary would be happening, I sensed the anticipation of hurt or ominous threat. I’d get outta there as soon as I perceived danger, I wasn’t hanging around to see what doom would befall the unfortunate victim. The buildup is almost, and many times worse than the outcome, sneaking around in fear, blindly feeling your way through the dark in some creepy and unknown environment. You have caught glimpses of what stalks you, heard the unearthly snarls, grunts and growls of a mind-less and terrifying killer.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can often be in a very similar situation. I woke this morning with several ugly reminders sifting through my gray matter. Not so much of the abuse, but how I have mistakenly handled life as a result of the things I believe about myself; running and hiding from that monster by medicating the pain with addictive, selfish behavior.
Now I could stop right there, muse on that whole philosophy for page after page, reams could be written (and have) on how I perceive life and have reacted to it. My feelings and my hurts, my losses and my needs…blah, blah blah!
I want to focus on another aspect of the survival of abuse, and recovery from addiction; the important people in our life. Now this goes against how and what I usually do to deal with my pain. Trauma’s wounds have caused me to focus on myself, withdraw and isolate. When I dare to venture beyond this “safe” place, I am hunted and chased by this mysterious monster.
I have found myself to be so wrapped up in the fight for my life, I have forgotten about those that need me to be there for them, their needs and their safety.
I speak of my wife and my children today. If I stay in my own little personal horror movie, focused on my fears, concerned only with my life, I am not fulfilling the responsibilities within marriage. My wife has needs and desires that deserve more than the little empathy left for her after I have spent to much time moaning and crying for me! She is so valuable, such a rare gift that is far beyond any measurable, worldly scale. She has trauma, fears, and hurts of her own and I cannot disregard them, I will not. My children have suffered through my absence even when I was right there with them. They are grown now, families and responsibilities of their own challenge them, so I cannot remain invisible and abandon them.
When we spend every ounce of our energy in self-pity and woe-is-me mode, we cannot supply what our families are in need of; Love, care, concern, and action on their behalf.
I am starting to see that more clearly. I mean, this is my third marriage after all, I haven’t exactly mastered the art of relationships!
My wife and I are in a pretty good place. We just celebrated her birthday, and later this month we will enjoy and commemorate our 5th anniversary. It has been nearly 2 years since the revelation of my latest addictive meltdown, and we have been building a new foundation through learning, listening, and doing. It has been extremely difficult, and at times neither of us thought we would even be where we are today. But due to selfless actions, and a willingness to understand there are two people in this relationship we are slowly and steadily moving forward. I am a part of the household and so I do dishes and laundry, I vacuum and make the bed; I will even cook occasionally, but thats a little sketchy 🙂 We communicate regularly, share our feelings and needs, take ownership of our actions, and build each other up.
Learning to be there for our spouse and children, even when we are dealing with monumental issues personally, will speak volumes to them! We will discover love that we didn’t know was available. What we thought was a hellish nightmare from which there was no escape, can actually be the dawn of new hope and promise; amazing marital and family relationships! Let us not give up and stop short of what is possible, but be part of the love, life, tears, grace, forgiveness, hardship, mercy, laughter and joy that makes a family!
Abuse and addiction have stolen enough, lets stop being the Haunted Spouse, (House-get it?)
Have an amazing day!