Sunday, March 28, 2010

Having Fun - an Update

I've written about so much serious stuff lately that I find myself wanting to take a break and write about something a bit more light-hearted. It's an update of sorts --

I am loving the spring weather. The cherry trees are in bloom. The trees all have buds on them. I can sit outside and bask in the sun without a jacket. The kids can wear themselves out playing.

Bugaboo had his eighteen month assessment and it was determined he needed physical therapy to assist him in learning to walk. His center of balance seems to be off and he is not "stacking" his weight properly which has to do with the way he distributes his weight forward and more to one side. He gets PT once a week and then we work with him at home. For someone that can't walk, he sure gets around. He can also climb anything. I regularly find him sitting on top of a couch, chair or counter that I swore he could never master.

We went to an Easter egg hunt today. Bugaboo was content to put the "balls" (as he called them) in and out of the basket. Munchkin raced up the hill to get all the eggs she could. The other parents were crazy - tucking their kids up under their arms like footballs and tacking anyone who got in their way. All over some plastic eggs with candy inside. I was pleased that Munchkin acted politely. And experienced a bit of "ha ha" attitude when I found out she won a grand prize. Kindness gets you far does not. My camera and computer had a fight and destroyed all my pictures.

Last weekend I went away on my long scrapbook weekend that I had won. Ten friends and I travelled to a scrapbook cabin and store. We worked on our books all day Friday, shopped at some outlets Saturday, and then scrapped some more. We ate great food, drank some good drinks, laughed more than I thought possible and had an awesome time.

I have discovered Pandora - where you can put in a song that you like and it will play similar style music. You then give each selection a thumbs up or thumbs down to help the site continue to pick good selections. I'm enjoying music I would never have discovered on my own.

Husband is still unemployed. However, his attitude and effort has done a 180. He has been working really hard in his counseling sessions. I can tell a real difference. Things aren't perfect, but they are better.

We leave Thursday late for my sister's house. I am excited to celebrate Easter with family. We will go to an egg hunt and kids' event one day. We will celebrate my nephew's birthday while there. Then we are going to a church event which is a traditional Passover meal. And church on Sunday. I bought matching Easter outfits for the kids - forgetting Sister's church is uber-casual. Oh well, they will look cute for Bugaboo's 18 month pictures which I need to have done.

I am ready for spring. Bring on the flowers, warm weather and sunshine. I plan to wean off my depression meds when the sun starts making a regular appearance. I'm hoping it will help in the losing weight effort, although I am down 13 pounds so far.

And ....that's all folks....

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Carnival Against Child Abuse - March 2010 Edition

Check out the March 2010 Carnival Against Child abuse, hosted by Mike at Child Abuse Survivor.

It's a great edition. Mike says, "As you know, with this month being the month St. Patrick’s Day falls, and your host having quite a bit of Irish blood flowing in his veins, I wanted to focus on the way I view my Irish heritage. I’ve always considered the Irish to be a people that managed to live through their suffering by always looking forward, always willing to enjoy what they have to look forward to, and apply that to survivors....."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

All he learned, he learned wrong..........

I have a lot of respect for my in-laws. They've been married almost 40 years. They seem to have a good marriage and a good life. They have done wonders with my autistic brother-in-law and have adapted well to having a challenged child. My husband never got arrested, drunk, did drugs, slept around - a good kid. However, I am beginning to see that despite their good intentions, there was a lot of harm done to my Husband. I'm learning that harm can occur from lack of contact and lack of knowledge, through inadvertance and even with the best of intentions.

In my house and childhood there was way too much knowledge and physical touch. There were no boundaries whatsoever. RoOmance novels, porn magazines, porn movies and cable television were easily accessible. In my husband's family the boundaries were tall and thick and covered in barbed wire.

My in-laws do not kiss or hug. Husband says there used to be a quick peck on the cheek when leaving for work, but even that has ended. I've never seen them embrace or hold hands, not even at my MIL's mom's funeral. Maybe it is because my BIL, who is autistic, doesn't tolerate touch? In any event, they forgot to touch my Husband too - no embraces, pecks on the cheeks, slaps on the back for jobs well done. Nothing.

All my Husband learned about puberty and sex he learned from magazines, porn, tv shows, movies, and the perfunctory sex-ed classes in school. It is no wonder he is so totally skewed in his thinking.

I was the first very serious relationship Husband had. He had never really kissed a girl before dating me, let alone slept with anyone. His parents knew this. When his father became concerned that Husband (pre-marriage) would occasionally crash on my apartment couch after a late-night out, Husband reassured his father that we were waiting to the wedding night to consummate our relationship. Despite that conversation, FIL never once discussed the wedding night with Husband. There was no sit-down, here is what to expect, talk.

My Husband learned about procreation from watching farm animals. Between porn magazines and watching horses breed, it is no wonder he has misconceptions about male sizes.

A dear friend of mine sent me a book that she had been given just prior to her marriage. It is similar to this -

but written by Christian authors. The book detailed reproduction and how to have sex - think tab A into slot B type stuff. It was detailed without being gross. per my friend's suggestion, Husband and I read a chapter out loud at a time. It forced us to say certain words to each other, that before had only been whispered or giggled. The book did a great job of discussing the "myths of sex," such as the honeymoon night is going to be full of fireworks. It dealt with reality and the differences between men and women. (the book was written in the 70s so we had lots of laughs at some of the language and pictures)

That was the extent of my Husband's education about the world of sex and marriage. Thank goodness for that book. However, even though it was a great book, it missed a lot.

So here I am, left to deal with these huge barriers my Husband has, as well as all his misconceptions. He has learned to be appropriately affectionate with our children. He enjoys their kisses and hugs and snuggles. He still gets uncomfortable holding hands or embracing in front of his parents, but I don't see that ever changing. The biggest problem is the lessons he learned from movies and porn --- that all men are huge, that every encounter causes fireworks, that men and women ravish each other 3 times a day every day, and that women want sex all the time just like men. Given that men tend to joke in a fashion that only encourages those myths, it is hard for any man to accept reality.

Discerning what is real and accepting it is the task my Husband needs to accomplish, and I know it will not be easy. For him...or me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

If You Blog and Want to Help a Grad Student...

Visit here to participate in a survey.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fix it NOW !

I met with my therapist last night. I had cancelled the joint session that Husband and I had with our therapists (plural) and just met with mine individually. I sure needed it.

As I wrote about in my last post, I'm having lots of trouble with flashbacks and the interplay between this situation and my childhood. It causes me not to know how to act or what to do.

I went to T wanting some answers to questions. Should I block the internet entirely? Should I monitor his computer use? What happens when he says that my refusing to help means a delay in receiving his unemployment check? What do I need to get rid of in the house? What temptations might there be that I am not considering? Do I check his email and print it out? What if a job prospect contacts him?

Then the more nitty-gritty - if my failure to have sex often enough has contributed to his looking at junk, what effect will my refusal to have sex with him at all right now, do? If he is drawn toward junk depicting women and men having sex and the woman enjoying it, then what happens if we sleep together again? Do I take acting lessons so I portray enough enjoyment? What is enough?

How much reassurance must I give him and what happens when his needs and my needs collide?

T told me to slow down. I can't look for solutions now and have to settle for not having all the answers. I got into the "Fix It" mode. And not just fix it, but fix it NOW! I can not clean the house good enough to get rid of all temptations. I can not take a pill which teaches me to act good enough to satisfy him.

T also said something interesting - that any solution now is going to itself, appear pornographic. If I try to fix Husband's feeling deprived of sex, then that is going to feel degrading to me and as if I'm operating as a sex slave. If I try to dress more provocatively to keep Husband's attention on me, that will feel slutty. If I force myself to sit down beside him and monitor his computer usage, that makes me some kind of servant or hall monitor to him.

This is his battle to fight. I need to resist the urge to fix it, fix him or fix me. Not to say changes don't need to be made. But they need to be made deliberately and without rushing in. Which is a temptation I struggle with.

In the meantime I'm trying to stay busy. To not obsess over reading all the "Helping your Man with his Addiction" books out there. To avoid all the internet articles. To just "be" and let things happen in their course. It's a long road ahead.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Time Travel -- Going Swirly

My brain isn't working right. All swirly.

Husband says he looks at people having sex because he likes to see the women enjoying themselves. He doesn't think I do.

Toilet says, "Look I'm the adult, but you wanted it. You enjoyed it."

He says he told me we should have gotten rid of Cinemax sooner.

Is this movie okay to watch? It's rated PG. Oh no there is a girl and guy kissing - oh no they are in bed. Should I go to my room? I'd have to walk by him. I know what he is doing in the chair behind me.

He says he only thinks of me.

He says he only thinks of me.

He says all men do it.

Toilet says I'm a prude. Everyone does it.

He says I should let him use the computer to fill out his weekly unemployment certification. I can turn it on, set it up, watch him - monitor him. Otherwise I'm being mean. Don't I want things to go smoothly? Well...he could go to the library but I napped all day. If it doesn't get done today, the check will be late - do I want that?

Don't fight. It makes your mom sad...Do this. It makes your mom happy. Then things are smooth. We get to do more. Don't you want to do fun things? Come take a ride with me. I'll buy you something. Your mom likes it when we get along. Don't you want her to be happy?

Husband flips the channel....says he'll be doing that a lot. Because now he can't watch some things....if I want him to get "better."

Well, I'd do that but I wouldn't want you to get upset ....since you are overly sensitive you know.

Don't tell anyone. How dare you call them? How can I look at them again? I can't believe you told. Do you want me to step down as a church leader?

Don't tell anyone. You wouldn't want to have to move out, would you? Or him to go to jail and we lose our house.

You're going to have to work through this.

You need to get over this. Move on. Forget about it.

I know Husband does not equal Toilet but right now I'm having a really hard time separating the two.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Men and Comparisons - Size and Self-esteem

(background post here)
I've not been blogging much lately. Things have gotten into a routine and I'm also really busy. DH and I are working on issues in joint counseling. We're doing a couple's Bible study. Then throw in kids' activities and normal life and it's been crazy. But things, I thought, were going fairly well.
Yesterday I was on my way to work, saying my morning prayers, and I had the most intense urge to check DH's computer history. I've not checked it in a long time. I forgot about it until I went home. DH took Munchkin to her cheerleading practice and I sat down to check email. DH had his login screen up. I know his password, so I checked the history.
Yes. He did it again. The next few hours are quite blurry. Bugaboo was there and he kept crawling up on my lap and handing me a book to read. I tried to point out pictures and turn my head so the tears wouldn't land on his face. I fed him M&Ms so he would be happy while I made phone calls.
I called my sister first, who walked me through the initial shock. She reminded me that my T said not to keep this hidden and that it was not my shame to bear. So I called a husband-wife couple we are friends with and then our pastor. Pastor and I have very different approaches and views on some things. We've butted heads before. But he's very strong-willed and not afraid to speak his mind, which is what I think is needed in this case. He told me that lots of men struggle in this area so that he has unfortunately, had experience in working with men to overcome these problems. He recommended that DH and he meet to outline the issue. Then they'd do many sessions with intense work. DH had to commit to working through the whole program. Then DH would have an accountability partner and Pastor recommended me. Pastor also recommended that I not talk to anyone about it, including not telling DH I called. Well, I was good until the last 2 parts. I don't want to be the accountability partner and I'm not keeping quiet. Today I can recognize my own progress in healing because I didn't (1) accept 100% of Pastor's advice or (2) discount 100% of his advice. I was able to sort through the pieces.
When DH got home I told him we had to talk and he knew why. When the kids were in bed, I asked him if he had anything to say. He tried to blow it off. But quickly realized the seriousness. He was very upset - I guess you could describe it as broken.
I don't think this is your typical porn issue. This is DH's self-esteem issues. He thinks he's not built like other men. He thinks he doesn't measure up. So he's been researching devices, pills, etc. All the sites appear to be those sorts of sites, as well as sites that show women enjoying sex. Because that is what DH says he enjoys seeing. Guess I don't display that for him?
I did tell DH that I had called those people. He was pissed. But I told him that I refused to be silenced. This was his issue and he needed to deal with it. I was not going to suffer in silence. I assured him I wasn't going to take out open-air announcements either. But that I felt the people I had contacted were appropriate. He later admitted he was glad I reached out to these people.
DH called our friends and left to go meet with the husband, who is also the head of the deacons. DH will meet with the pastor to determine if he should step down as a deacon. He says he will start meeting with the pastor. He may also see his T.
Last night, DH wrote me a long letter apologizing for hurting me and asking for forgiveness. I told him I was not yet ready to forgive. I told him that I had blocked all computer access for now. Also, that he needed to be out of the house all day. He needed to get a job, and if he couldn't find one, then volunteer somewhere. It was obviously not good for him to be home alone all day. I have scratched my plans (for now) of having DH provide the child-care for Munchkin during the summer and pulling Bugaboo out of daycare for the summer.
I cancelled our joint counseling session that was set for Monday. I don't think we can really focus on our issues until he resolves his. I did schedule an individual session for me on Monday.
I'm still pretty numb. If DH had responded in anger or denial, I think I'd feel a lot different. But to see him so broken is odd for me. I've never seen a man do that and accept responsibility and admit fault. Well, except to manipulate, but I don't think DH is doing that. I think he is really, gut-wrenchingly sorry. I'm not sure what to do with that. I'm still angry and hurt. I know I need to not get caught up in DH's emotions to the extent I deny mine. I'm not sure exactly how to do that. I think if this had been a more typical porn-issue I'd feel different too. But I really think this is more self-esteem related.
I know this isn't an easy fix. I know DH needs to address the porn issues - hopefully with our pastor who is VERY direct and in some ways, fierce. I think DH also needs to address the underlying self-esteem issues, hopefully with his T who is less fierce/direct, but more understanding and contemplative.
I was supposed to have a spa day today - massage and pedicure - from a gift certificate DH gave me for Valentine's Day. I cancelled it. I just can't do that today. I am going home to nap (I hope) since I didn't sleep last night and care for the kids. I told DH I needed to do things apart this weekend and have some time alone. He is working today, doing some odd jobs with a friend.
At least, thankfully, there is no snow forecasted this weekend. I couldn't handle being cooped inside with him.