Lindsay started working. That it had come to this was completely unacceptable in my mind. I should be the one providing. That was the plan. That’s what The Family: A Proclamation to the World says (at least that’s how I interpreted it). That’s what I promised her. I’m a failure, I thought.
I struggled with this. And even though I started including Lindsay in my struggle, and was receiving all this help, I still resorted to porn at times. Less frequently, but I still struggled to find success with this.
One therapist early on told me I wasn’t an addict. I was so relieved. But wasn’t getting the help I needed. Later on, a different therapist told me I was an addict. I tried this hat on for a while.
Eventually I went to 12 steps meetings where everyone introduces themselves, “Hi, I’m (First name), I’m an addict.” I was terrified to go to my first meeting. What if I see someone I know? Something bad might happen. I went to a few meetings. I’m not like them, I thought. But other guys there had seemed to have found success. Turned out I was like them in many ways. I got a sponsor and kept going back.
I decided to follow along and call myself an addict. Once I started treating myself like an addict I found a lot of terrific resources to help me. It helped me to accept my problem more fully. But do I think calling one self an addict is useful? See the “Our” section below.
Learning to take care of myself along with the kids was a transformation process for me (still is). Especially coming from where I was mentally. I almost felt like I was relearning how to walk, but emotionally. Going from non-functioning to taking care of me and our 3 kids. I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments.
Danny’s improvement was creeping along. I didn’t know if he’d ever work again so I decided to re-enter the workforce. I accepted and started two part-time jobs. I commuted twice/week for one of my jobs. This was really hard for me. I cried during my commute for the first three weeks of work.
At some point in my youth I had chosen to accept this idea that “I was supposed to be in the home with my kids.” This was something I dreamed of doing. Due to Danny’s anxiety, he didn’t have the capacity to watch the kids on his own.
I questioned God: “Why is this being taken away from me. Danny and I worked hard so it could be this way. Why do I have to find sitters for them when I’d rather be with them?” Some angels came along that watched our babies. My next-door neighbor watched them in the mornings and Danny’s mom came in the afternoons. We also had a nanny that helped out.
I couldn’t have handpicked three women better suited to help our family. They were so invested in my kids. Such a gift. My parents also made the 45-minute drive down (time after time) to pick them up for the day when I was extra busy. Other neighbors would let my kids play at their homes. One knew I loved fresh food and would occasionally bring me dinner. So much love and support—I’m forever grateful.
The idea of “Once an addict always an addict” did not help me. It invited me, on some level, to believe that I cannot learn, change, or form new pathways in my brain. It worked to stop calling myself an addict and start saying I am recovering from addiction.
Now I like to talk about it in terms of buffering (a concept we teach) rather than addiction. It is more empowering. The resources available to addicts are full of useful tools and information. But Life Coaching (the method we have been trained in) took my progress to a new level.
It worked to understand and believe in neuroplasticity. To believe that my brain can change. To believe that over desire is learned and can be unlearned. To believe that, if done properly, I can change the way I think to get different results. I cannot tell you how important this is. The moments I would give up on this idea, I would be filled with hopelessness and I would stay stuck. Knowing that people (including myself) can and do change works.
This was my season for accepting all of the help. I wasn’t in a position to be picky or pretend that I didn’t need support. If you offered to help me in some way, I am pretty sure I accepted it. I think there are times and seasons where we serve more and others where we receive more. This was my season of accepting all the service.
I knew I would never be able to repay these people. They knew this too, and still offered to help. I get to move forward today knowing that I can pay it forward—which feels oh so good!
I also now realize that the way I tormented myself about working outside the home was all in my head. When I chose to think “This is the worst thing that could ever happen to me” over and over guess what? My brain found plenty of evidence to prove that thought true.
It is completely normal to be disappointed when life doesn’t go as planned, and I’m glad I allowed myself to feel all the feelings without guilt. At some point (and it’s different for everyone), I decided I didn’t want to feel the way I felt. It left me feeling powerless. That’s where the life coaching came in for me. I was able to re-train my brain to feel more empowered. What about you? What mind-shifts have you experienced that have enabled you to appreciate a circumstance without even needing to change it?