Friday, July 15, 2016

Have You Met My Drinking Buddies?

20 Days Clean and Sober.
I’m realizing that I have “drinking buddies” that I almost always act out with. Simply put, when I am with my personal “rat pack,” I’m in big trouble.
In chapter 8 of his book, Intimacy Anorexia, Dr. Douglass Weiss explains it this way:
“Like an alcoholic having drinking buddies or the shopaholic having shopping buddies. Addicts, like most people, like to have support for their activities. Unlike other addictions where the addict’s “buddies” are real people, the intimacy anorexic’s buddies are quite different. The intimacy anorexic’s buddies are internal buddies. These buddies are lodged deep in the intimacy anorexic’s heart. For most intimacy anorexics, they are unaware of these buddies and the significant role they play in their lives, until they are pointed out.
Not all intimacy anorexics have each buddy, but most anorexics have more than they think. (Here are their names and identities):
The Victim: This is probably the most common friend of the anorexic. The victim tells the anorexic how they are the victim of their spouse. The victim turns almost any conflict or circumstance and spins it (amazingly quickly) on how they are the victim. This victim is almost a reflexive response so the speed of this buddy is lightening fast. I have actually seen the anorexic’s spouse walk away thinking they really were the problem and accepted the blame repeatedly.
As a spouse, if you see the victim, understand that this is an emotional state, not a rational state. You cannot reason with the victim, you must stay in your reality to survive. As the intimacy anorexic, if you feel the victim emerging, you will usually have to slow down, call a support person and run your thoughts by them before you submit to the victim. This “buddy” will push your spouse away and you might begin acting in. Let me explain how this works from the anorexic’s perspective.
The intimacy anorexic intentionally starves the spouse. The spouse is legitimately angry or critical of this neglect and pain, but the victim says, “you’re being abused by your spouse; he or she disrespects you, and doesn’t appreciate you.” You see, now the anorexic, who is actually the perpetrator, gets to believe and behave as the victim.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about the victim.
Holly (Spouse): As the anorexic, my husband blames me and plays the victim of neglect.
Ted (Anorexic): Mainly this is played out inside my head. I will tell myself that I am not understood, no one cares about me.
Claire (Spouse): Everything is about how it affects my husband. He’s always the victim and it’s always about him. I have to say, “Wait a minute; we are talking about me right now, not you.”
Abby (Anorexic): He works so hard and deserves to zone out on the computer or TV all night. He leaves me alone mentality.
Miriam (Spouse): He says, “’No one has ever understood me’, ‘Everyone expects too much of me’, ‘I didn’t really tell a lie; I just didn’t tell the truth’ ‘Why are you so upset?’”
Fantasy Person: This is a real trouble-making friend of the intimacy anorexic. This is the fantasy where almost any person other than the spouse will love, appreciate, and unconditionally accept them more than their spouse, while not asking for sex or intimacy. For the most part, this is a fantasy. Sometimes it takes the role of pornography or romantic novel characters.
There is a place for some anorexics where they will recruit real people. They will be nice to them, flirt with them, and have conversations that might be questionable but won’t touch or kiss them.
This is what I call emotional pornography. The intimacy anorexic scans the person’s imagined features then uses them to romanticize or sexualize what life would be like with them. This drives the spouse crazy because they can sense this energy between them. The intimacy anorexic will deny this because “they are good and haven’t done anything wrong.”
The fantasy person plays two roles of support for the addiction to withholding process. Firstly, it’s the role of criticizing the spouse to justify ill treatment of them through withholding. Secondly, it gives the intimacy anorexic a way to be disconnected and less emotionally committed to the real spouse who has flaws as we all do.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about the fantasy person.
Rachel (Spouse): He has an image in his head and he will not engage in a loving, caring relationship with me.
Claire (Spouse): This one is the hardest for me. We can be out to dinner, the movies, Wal-mart, or watching television and he seems to always be looking. When we are at dinner, I’ve seen him look in a specific direction a lot. I have actually turned around and looked and I can always spot the type he looks at, which is blonde hair for sure. He has to see what each blonde person looks like. He denies it; I know what I see. I’ve even said, “Is there someone you’re looking for?”
Stephanie (Spouse): His fantasy girl is NOT like the person he married. It is more of what he was married to before me e.g.,
tall, athletic, red headed, a little loose acting. I asked why he married me and he says, “…because I couldn’t get a model to move to where we live.” We live in the sticks of a very poor rural area. I thought it was love; what was I thinking?
Abby (Spouse): I tried to always be someone I wasn’t…I tried to be his fantasy girl. I couldn’t begin to try to win! I tried running, dieting, piercing, and lots of different things for attention.
Tamara (Spouse): My husband’s fantasy girl is always sexually available to meet every desire he has. She never speaks or has any value as a human being. She worships him and his manhood.
Sam (Anorexic): This fantasy was all done in my mind as the perfect relationship of all physical and no emotional needs to meet.
Fear of Intimacy: Fear is a great friend. It paralyzes your resources and you can justify this because you’re afraid. I mean, who can hold you guilty because you’re afraid, right? That’s the belief that the fear of intimacy gives the intimacy anorexic. It’s okay to be afraid after all, “you have been hurt before by your spouse or others like them. You know it’s only a matter of time until you will be hurt again, so stay inside yourself. You know it’s not safe, so don’t trust, be afraid and sit down.” These are actual thoughts the friend of fear of intimacy will offer up to help justify the withholding or pushing away of the spouse to create distance. You see, now that there is distance, you don’t need to be afraid. It’s okay, your spouse is effectively pushed away. Fear is a great friend of the anorexic, especially when Fear also brings along the Victim, or some of the other friends of intimacy anorexia.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about fear of intimacy.
Rachel (Spouse): I know that he is terrified of this, I just don’t know why and he will not tell me. It scares me because I know there must be something really bad that I don’t already know and I know a lot of brutal stuff.
Virginia (Spouse): My spouse doesn’t share anything unless I ask him and then it feels like I am dragging molasses out of a jar.
Tanya (Anorexic): If someone knows my heart, I believed they have the ultimate weapon against me. I have always been punished for letting someone into my heart.
Alison (Spouse): We were having once a week dates and using discussion questions that dig rather deep. It went well for several weeks and then he began sabotaging the dates by saying mean things and blaming me, out of the blue, for things and then acting surprised if I got upset.
Miriam (Spouse): He says: “’I want to become sexually connected with you, just not today.’ ‘I’m working towards it; I just need more time.’ ‘If you’d just waited a few more hours/ days, I was going to initiate it.’” He has many, many excuses: headaches, backaches, always too tired, he’s angry…
Safety: The intimacy anorexic has a high demand for safety. This friend, Safety, is one of the closest friends of intimacy anorexia. This friend supports the addiction to withholding by cheering it on with lines like: “I must be absolutely safe before I come out,” “It must be a promise that you will never, ever hurt me, see a flaw or criticize me in any way,” “I demand safety as a condition to relate.” Well, of course, this friend is probably the most delusional of the lot. When you’re drinking together sometimes you don’t realize how crazy the person you’re talking to really is.
In the real world, all relationships have pain, all spouses definitely give pain and those are the rules of real life. This friend encourages absolutely unrealistic expectations so the spouse is guaranteed to have repeated failure so the intimacy anorexic can justify withholding and creating pain for them. Safety is a strong and non rational friend, much like fear of intimacy. The level of emotion that is felt by the anorexic is so primitive it often cannot be rationalized with while it is in the first stage of the heart. This friend may be difficult to address, but when you do as the anorexic, you are able to risk, be hurt, feel pain and above all feel loved with your flaws.
As a spouse, Safety demands cannot be met; they are not supposed to be met. You, as the spouse, are set up to fail so the addiction to withholding can stay in a strengthened position. Really, until this friend is dismantled, you’re in for some wild rides of irrational experiences and conversations.
Busyness: The friend of Busyness seems to be around the intimacy anorexic much like that cloud around Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown cartoons. There is always something to do: a home project, television, coach a team, exercise, obsess over golf or a sports team, church, PTA or just simply sit in front of the computer for hours.
Busyness often supports the good person box of the intimacy anorexic. You see, these things are productive, helpful, kind, spiritual and just a good thing to do. Busyness allows the anorexic to stay distracted and take a drink of withholding toward the spouse, intentionally, at the same time. It’s like the best of both; I look good and get to withhold. Busyness really assists the intimacy anorexic in their rationalization of avoidance for years or decades at a time.
If you’re the spouse of the intimacy anorexic you know when Busyness is around because your spouse isn’t around. Even if they are home, it’s as if they are not there. They’re lost in a book, newspaper or a hundred other things, including all variations of technology, which leaves you with the “I’m alone again in my marriage feeling.” Granted, it’s nicer than blame, control, or criticism, it’s just so lonely when Busyness and your spouse get together.
Entitlement: This friend is one of the kingpins, of this rat pack, that the anorexic is hanging out with. Entitlement is pure muscle with a tactic that says, “It’s my way or the highway” on its 22 inch arm. This friend is the bouncer of the group. He or she is meaner than any other friend, after all, “I am entitled to push, criticize, yell, make you look stupid, control you because I am important and you have no value to me.” These ugly beliefs are what this friend of entitlement is all about. “It’s all about me, I’m superior, I won’t be questioned, I won’t be told what to do” are songs this friend sings to the easily influenced intimacy anorexic.
When this friend is coaching the intimacy anorexic, it becomes unclear who their spouse is. The good person mark is totally off and there is hell to pay. Any mean thing about you, your character, your past, your weakness is all fair game. This gets you back in your rightful place-submitted to the addiction of withholding.
This friend doesn’t like to be exposed. If you’re the anorexic, you’re in for a fight to let this one go. If you’re a spouse, don’t even engage this one. Your energy makes it grow bigger so leave it alone. You are best to leave or have a plan in place when Entitlement shows up.
Control: This is the balance of the team, which supports the addiction to withholding, which starves the marriage. Control has to do the tight walk of keeping almost everyone believing the intimacy anorexic is wonderful and keeping a blind eye to the withholding behavior toward the spouse. The need for control is important to most addictions but it is the glue that keeps this addiction to withholding intact. Without control there would be flaws, authenticity, and vulnerability. Control, like a hard wax on a car, fills these cracks and all you have is the great shine everyone loves to love.
Control manifests differently for each intimacy anorexic. For some it’s money, sex, time, withholding love or praise or just not connecting, but Control holds the fort down. If the anorexic feels his or her image is under attack, Control, along with the bully, anger, will come out and protect the image and secure the parameter.
If the anorexic has been married long or even a few years, the spouse can probably identify this friend, Control. It’s this friend that stops the spouse cold in their tracks. It’s unbelievably different when this friend finds a new home away from the intimacy anorexia
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about Control.
Rachel (Spouse): He remains in control at all times. He stays silent until I can’t take it anymore (the isolation) and I fall apart and go talk to him.
Pat (Spouse): My husband strives to keep all control. He hates there to be any control out of his hands. He liked me much better as a doormat.
Tanya (Anorexic): As long as I am in control, no one can hurt me. I cannot control a lot of things, but I can control who I let into who I really am deep down.
Rose (Anorexic): I used control to keep myself in what I thought was a “safe” place, but really didn’t allow myself to even dare to make the changes I needed to get more healthy.
Independence: This friend allows the intimacy anorexic to stay in the second stage of development. The first stage of development being dependence which is forced trust, the last stage of development is interdependence which is a choice to trust.
These friends say, “no it’s better to just take care of themselves, don’t trust others, you’ll be in debt to them.” This can be so severe that they won’t’ let others help them, not because they don’t need the help, but because they don’t want to feel indebted or owe that person anything.
Independence is the guy who gives consistent push back when things are getting too close. To trust the spouse is to feel a loss of independence, which can feel like a loss of self to some intimacy anorexics. Independence can also feel like adolescence and rear up with messages of, “don’t tell me what to do, nobody tells me what to do. If I wanted another dad or mom I would have married one. Who do you think you are?”
If you’re the spouse, independence is that bump in the road just when you thought you were getting along. You were looking forward to a night alone, a significant stretch of quality time and bump, “I’m going to go to X first” creating mild distance allowing the intimacy anorexic to regain their equilibrium of distance.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about Independence.
Rachel (Spouse): We have dated for four years and he has no intention of doing anything else. This lets his emotional needs be met without letting me get too much in his space.
Virginia (Spouse): My spouse comes and goes as he pleases to his men’s meetings without regard for my schedule or our five kids.
Todd (Anorexic): My favorite times are when I am alone and I don’t need to interact with others.
Tanya (Anorexic): I don’t need anyone to meet my needs. I can take care of myself.
Miriam (Spouse): From the beginning of the marriage, we agreed to join our assets. What I learned; however, is that what this really meant was MY money and assets are OURS but HIS are HIS. My salary goes into the family pool for bills; any income he generates is his to spend for whatever he wants, whenever he wants. We have joint checking/savings account, and he has his own separate, individual one.
Selfishness: There’s not an addict alive that doesn’t know selfishness. This friend of the addict is regularly looking out for number one, and in this case it is the intimacy anorexic. This friend makes it difficult to see the team picture and is capitalizing on situations to meet a hypothetical need at best or at worst looking for a way to help the addict withhold having a quick drink.
Selfishness is the jab to the spouse’s weak spot, including glares, the rationalization of keeping every commitment, even the commitment to clean the pool but not the commitment to love, honor or cherish the spouse. Selfishness keeps the intimacy anorexic limited on empathy. Since they can’t see others, it makes it hard at times to feel the pain of others.
The spouse is very aware of this selfish presence. It’s those moments when you feel you have an extra child instead of another adult. It’s when you hope the children really don’t understand why your spouse is committed to do X, when you were earlier agreeing to do Y, and the only reason is because they don’t want to.
Below are some comments from anorexics and their spouses about selfishness.
Rachel (Spouse): When I talk to him about sexuality being a normal, healthy part of a relationship he just says that he doesn’t think it is important. I tell him I do and if he doesn’t want it we need to end the relationship so that I can be with someone else and so can he. He says he doesn’t want to be with anyone else. I feel crazy.
Pat (Spouse): He will eat out or whatever else he wants, but he does not always care if our needs are attended to. He is perfectly fine with solo sex, ignoring all relational needs just as long as he gets what he wants.
Virginia (Spouse): My spouse blew off our 21st anniversary (no card, no gift, and no dinner) because he is a teacher and had progress reports due that week. When I had our second miscarriage, my spouse left me crying at the OB’s parking lot and went back to work. Then he didn’t want to talk about it. Todd (Anorexic): There are certain foods that I buy that are just for me and I get angry when anyone touches them. I rarely share with others.
Tanya (Spouse): No one around him has any value or needs. He has needs that must be met or else. His needs are not only the most important, but they are the only needs.
Rose (Anorexic): I was very selfish because I couldn’t see anyone else’s point of view except my own. That is the only way I seemed to know how to survive.
The Wall: The Wall is probably the friend I often have to explain the most, but after I do, the intimacy anorexic goes “Oh yeah, I got that one too.” The wall is like a thick glass that surrounds the intimacy anorexic. Originally it was designed to keep others out but over time it has grown to keep them in. Even when the intimacy anorexic wants to join, connect or even emote they feel stuck, frozen or unavailable. It’s like they can see what’s going on, and even have the right social queuing to know what would be expected, but they just can’t seem to connect the dots. Stuck behind the glass wall they can see and be seen, it just seems that they can’t touch or be touched.
The spouse experiences this as frozen moments. The best way to describe it is like a skip in a record. The songs playing, you know the melody and then there is a bump, and the moment is missed or not mutually shared.
The Backdoor: The Backdoor is a faceless friend to those addicted to withholding. It’s this friend who just quietly but regularly lets the intimacy anorexic know “You’re not really happy, you’d be happier with someone who is… Really, being alone might even be better. The kids and I would be better without him/ her. I don’t really know why I stay.”
It’s this resignation that somehow the intimacy anorexic has resigned to for settling for less. This backdoor is insidious because it allows them, or should I say, gives them permission to not fully accept, fully engage or fully invest in their spouse.
The backdoor is that quiet but steady lack of enjoyment of the spouse. This friend makes sure that the intimacy anorexic keeps their spouse’s flaws at the forefront of their mind.
The spouse experiences the backdoor as not ever feeling good enough, loved or really often feeling not wanted. It’s like somehow you feel you won second or third place and the winner, well, is not available. The winner is the illusive fantasy which keeps the intimacy anorexic from being present and celebrating you.
These friends probably have felt eerily familiar at times. In recovery, stay aware of these friends so that when they knock at the door of your heart, you don’t let them back in.”
Reading about the descriptions of these “drinking buddies” was a huge eye opener for me. I believe that all of the characters but “Fantasy Person” and “Busyness” manifest themselves in all of my addictions. They are very adept at distracting me from living my recovery, staying sober, and doing my dailies. But I am grateful that I now know them because now I can watch out for their lies and deceit.
Elder Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, “The devil is a dirty fighter, and we must be aware of his tactics.” (Ensign, Purity Precedes Power, November 1990).
This is my prayer today:
Dear Father,
Please help me to be wise, to be awake and to be aware of the weapons in Satan’s arsenal. I surrender my safety to Thy care and the care of Thy Son, Jesus Christ. Please come and abide with me. The battle is Thine not mine. Thy will be done, not mine. Light my candle and enlighten my darkness. Show me the path of life. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my Rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer:
my God, my strength in whom I will trust;
my buckler, and the horn of my salvation,
and my high tower.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised:
so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
Psalm 18: 1-3
Go forward in faith. God is in charge!

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