On December 11, 2015, Blue Eyes commenced his third year of sobriety. Last week marked the beginning of year three of recovery for me and Blue Eyes individually, and for our marriage. Last night we discussed this morning’s schedule. Blue Eyes would go to his 7:00am meeting with a friend and to the one-hour fellowship after. The friend would return him home and Blue Eyes would proceed to take care of the dogs and then head in to work. We discuss our schedules for numerous reasons: 1) it helps keep Blue Eyes on track, he tends to procrastinate and not accomplish his goals, so any little extra discussion, planning, and organizing helps 2) it helps me remember if I have any obligations to Blue Eyes that I am forgetting, like driving him to physical therapy, or whatever 3) it helps me feel safer in the marriage that once felt solidly safe and that Blue Eyes subsequently obliterated.
This morning, Blue Eyes’ 12 step buddy did pick him up at 6:45am and he drove him to their SA meeting. Fellowship followed. As I was puttering around this morning, and it was well past time for Blue Eyes to have returned home, I glanced at my mobile phone to see if there was a message from him explaining his lateness. After what I have gone through, simple courtesy texts regarding variances in schedule are expected. It may seem like I have this whole thing figured out, or it may seem like I am micro-managing my husband’s behavior and am obsessed with his whereabouts, and the truth is, I have come a long way, but that doesn’t mean things will just happily go back to the way they were. Nuh uh! I trusted him once and we all know how that turned out. I am not being facetious. He is a sex addict in recovery. I do not follow him around like a puppy. I do not have a LoJack on him. I do not have devices attached to his electronics. What I do have is a boundary plan and basic human expectations of ways he will behave differently now than he did before. At this point, sending a simple text if he is deviating from plan is the least he can do if he wants to rebuild that old marriage he obliterated. It is less about knowing where he is than it is about knowing that my needs are important. That I am important to him.
He spent years texting, sexting, emailing and calling other women on MY TIME. He spent years putting his needs above mine. He still texts and emails 12 step buddies and meditation friends when he is with me. However, when those meetings are running late, he has a difficult time making me the priority and remembering the promises he made to ME. There was no text from Blue Eyes, but there was a missed call from a phone number I didn’t recognize… from 6:30AM!!! Who calls at 6:30 in the morning (other than the ex-OW)? It must have been a wrong number, but that early in the morning? I continued with my morning routine… btw, very very happy with my morning blood glucose readings since beginning the Whole30. We are on day 8 of 30.
After another 15 minutes or so, I sent Blue Eyes a text asking if everything was okay. That is when I noticed two more phone calls from the strange phone number. Missed calls, no messages. One at 6:41am and the other at 9:44am. WTF? So I googled the phone number, which belongs to a Chiropractor’s office in the same suburb where my parents live, and also where the ex-OW works. Reg flags, warning signs, alarm bells, all going off in my head. There is a quick text from Blue Eyes saying he is almost home. I pushed aside the strange phone calls and remembered I hadn’t eaten breakfast. Turns out, neither had Blue Eyes.
At the breakfast table, Blue Eyes was rattling on and on and on and on about his 12 step meeting, and fellowship, nothing specific, just general info about how many guys, who was back from this or that vacation, the fact that it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and that is why the fellowship went long. Most of the guys didn’t need to run off to work. He was flying high. I like a good conversation where Blue Eyes is happy and open. Then he started in talking about how the guys can’t believe how good he is doing (post surgery). How the same thing happened at his Sangha last night. His friends were so complimentary about his recovery. How it makes him feel so good. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to rain on his parade, and he is doing well, but I am still reeling a bit from strange phone calls on my phone, and the fact that Blue Eyes was late and didn’t bother texting me. I told him that I am very very happy that he has these wonderfully kind and compassionate people in his life that lift his spirits and make him feel better, however, that doesn’t negate his responsibility to follow the rules, and to be kind to me.
Blue Eyes struggled over the weekend with god knows what. Even he doesn’t know, but sometimes I just get the buttoned up, resentful looking Blue Eyes. Recovery from addiction is hard and it takes a long time to master what drives the addictive behavior. At this point if someone insinuates to me that their addict is miraculously doing everything right, I have to doubt it. I doubt there will ever be a day where Blue Eyes is doing everything right, and not by MY standards, just frankly by human standards. He didn’t make it to his 12 step meeting last Friday. Maybe that was it. Maybe he is obsessing about our son and what he is doing (and frankly, our son is doing GREAT). Maybe that’s it. When the son is doing well, he doesn’t need his dad so much. I freaking don’t know and I don’t even know if Blue Eyes really knows. And I don’t really care. He just needs to keep his commitments to me. He received pats on the back and feelings of worthiness from the women he flirted with and the women he had sex with. He lived off it. Now he lives off of the pats on the back from his meditation group and his 12 step group. That’s all okay, except when he gets so wrapped up in NEEDING those pats on the back that if he doesn’t get them, somehow that means I get the addict Blue Eyes instead of the husband I have NOW signed up for. Blue Eyes is not bi-polar, but he does have distinctive highs and lows and often they are driven not by how he manages his internal struggles, but by what he is getting in terms of outside confirmation of his worthiness.
So, how are things going in our marriage at the beginning of year three for a recovering sex addict and his betrayed wife? In my opinion, of course, from my perspective (because that’s all I really have), they are going. No where near there yet. No where near that place where Blue Eyes understands his own behavior and what drives it, but he is working on it. He still messes up, but in smaller ways. His mess ups don’t bother me as much, but they still bother me. Why do I care if he doesn’t text me? Because I want to know he can make a commitment and keep it. It all starts with the little things and builds from there. His behavior is not my sole focus in life. I could go about my day and expect absolutely nothing from him. But that would not be the open partnership I seek. I am okay. I am good even. No tears, no drama, no depression, no sitting in my bed all day watching television and eating cookies (although that doesn’t sound at all like depression to me, that sounds like bliss!!!). Since d-day, we both made commitments to ourselves and to our marriage. It is important that we both keep them or the partnership is doomed.
The rest of the story about the strange phone calls goes like this. I called the chiropractic clinic and talked with the receptionist. To be honest, a piece of me was expecting the ex-OW to answer the phone. The girl that answered was off. She stammered a bit and pre d-day I wouldn’t have thought a thing of it. I wouldn’t even have called the number. Post d-day, I don’t really like her answer. She said they had received a phone call from a non-patient early that morning regarding some emergency chiropractic work and she couldn’t quite understand his phone number. She had called mine in error. She had called mine multiple times, and not left a message. When she explained her error, she didn’t apologize. She didn’t sound like it was a big deal calling someone multiple times at 6 something in the morning.
I had forgotten to mention the phone calls to Blue Eyes while he was at home. I texted him at work… “Do you have a new girlfriend? Who works at XXXXXXXX Chiropractic Clinic???
He texted back “Not that I know of.”