Monday, January 30, 2012

Confession: I Have An Addiction Too

Confession: I have an addiction too.

I've been wanting for a while to introduce my own struggle with addiction to this blog, publicly taking note of the many ways my and my husband's symptoms overlap and how this helps us to understand and support each other, but I have much bigger priorities, like laundry and a toddler...

(I seriously just had to break in the middle of that sentence to start a load of pee-pee sheets and do a puzzle.)

Anyway... now that I'm here, writing it down for the world to see, I'm having a hard time deciding how to label my addiction. I am addicted to _______? In fact, I'm not sure that telling you I'm addicted to a particular one thing is going to paint an accurate picture of what I struggle with.

More accurately, I medicate.

Mostly, I medicate with food. Sometimes with spending money. When it's money, it usually overlaps with food; I'm not racking up credit card debt on closets-full of clothes. We have an extremely tight cash-only budget, and if I can weasel out a dollar here and there from the gas or groceries, I don't save it for something that we need and can't afford, like new tires. I'll use it to "treat" myself with eating out or getting a coffee. And I won't tell. I don't want my kids to be jealous and think we eat out now and start begging me for stuff I have say no to. I don't want my husband to be disappointed that I'm using our precious dollars for something other than what it was allocated for, especially when it's me who's making such a big deal about sticking to the budget. And once I eat or drink it, the evidence is gone!

The primary mindset of an addict is, "if you really knew me, you wouldn't love me," and I can't help but feel that now. I've only described a fraction of the sneakiness in my heart, and now I'm sure you think I'm a creep and a loser.

Actually, that's just what I'm thinking. You are most likely excusing me, or thinking I'm ridiculous for making such a big deal over a cup of coffee. Sure, there are a bunch of reasons why I deserve a latte once in a while, or why it should be okay to let someone else whip me up some Pad Thai when doing all that work at home will go largely unappreciated. But it's when I'm stealing from our budget to medicate stress at the expense of my family's overall well-being, and the fact that I'm intentionally keeping it a secret that my motives turn the event into something destructive. And I do this more often than I'm aware of because I largely tune-out my motives so I can get away with it. At least, I think that's what I do...

But I'm working on it. Slowly, over this past year or so, I've been trying to cut through the haze of my own medicated state to see and understand what the heck is going on with me. There are so many layers! Physically, emotionally, spiritually... and I'd love to hash some of those things out here.

I am really loving being married a recovering addict these days....I'm in good company :)

Infinite Possibilities...But What Is Mine?

My life experiences have taught me that every woman's pregnancy experience is different, not only from other women's experiences, but from her own different experiences. No two pregnancies or births are completely alike.

 In the same way, no two people have the same relationship with God. Now think of all the people God knows, and it's incomprehensible that He doesn't start to treat us all alike in some ways. I feel stretched to the max getting to know my husband and five kids. Not to mention all the "friends" I have on Facebook (annnnd, I'm kidding). But God has made us all so unique, that the ways in which he relates to us are infinitely unique.  Although most of us like to enjoy affinity with one another, I try to be cautious not to project my own preferences or experiences onto others.  As more grey hairs twang out of the top of my head (which I infer to mean I'm growing wiser) I opinionate less and listen more...and I am amazed at our creative God and the depth of his love for us.  I'll notice that he loves someone else in a completely different way than he is loving me, much like how I relate to my own children.  I can be jealous of how He is loving another, or maybe just glad for them, because that's not what would float my boat.  It drives me crazy to see people rolling their eyes at a mother's maternity choices, or telling someone what God wants them to do, as if in their limited frame of reference, they've become all-knowing.

Sometimes I don't want to admit it, but marriages are all different, too.  There are some basic ideas, but how that plays out for each person is infinitely unique.  I recently heard Bill Clem of Mars Hill Ballard say this:
"What I understood about marriage, before I got remarried, was that I could be a good husband by being a biblical husband.  But if you have start understanding you can love them, but there really is a difference and that you can't just generically be "dad" or generically be "mom" to all [five].  That there's a way that you have to love each person in a unique way.  That becomes the assignment in marriage.  It isn't to be a generic biblical spouse, but it is to be a biblical spouse who is tailor-shaping that love to your spouse, and that they tailor themselves to express a biblical love to you and that's what makes it marriage instead of simply fellowship."
The reason I don't want to admit this is because I am married to an addict.  I want to squeeze my marriage into the boundaries of another marriage, so I can somehow extract more of the romantic ideals that other marriages seem to have more of.  I want to be experiencing what I regard as cohesive marriage where we're both equally contributing to the relationship (picture me doing the Robot here).  In our relationship it seems like we are both contributing to the healing of the addict, and a very unequal piece of care comes my way. This may or may not be true, and this may or may not be something I have control over; I haven't completely figured it out yet.  On many good days, I'm leaning hard into friends and my Redeemer Husband to keep my heart from exploding with need.

Twice this week I've heard Philippians 2--
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who,being in very nature God, didn't consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-- even death on a cross!  (NIV)
Wow. If Jesus was equal to God and used this status to serve others with to-the-death humility, then how about this: I am unequivocally loved, accepted and provided for by God, so I have the ability to use this to serve others with to-the-death humility. Obedience....the very nature of a servant....tailor-shaping that love to your spouse.... It all fits together, and it serves me well to keep asking... how?