No News is….No News

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Wow…time flies. And life moves on. It’s been many, many months since I have felt like writing anything. And honestly, I am only writing now because, well, like everyone else, I’m stuck at home during this shutdown and I have plenty of time. The truth is, Will and I are in a good place and have been for some time. While I would never say “healed” or “recovered” I can say that we are finally healing and recovering and and that the ugly is in the past.
Don’t get me wrong here…just because it’s in the past, I have a very clear rear view mirror and sometimes looking back is still painful and still triggering. The key is to stop checking that mirror. And I am getting really good at that.

Presently, we are finding a different, but related, challenge. Our son-in-law has decided that he no longer wants to be married to my daughter…because he began having an affair and now thinks he’s in “love” with this much older woman who is rebounding from her recent divorce.
Why are men so consistently, predictably, stupid? How do they never, NEVER learn from the mistakes of others?? Why do they believe that they are different? This situation is different? That they are not being total asshats by cheating on their lawfully wedded spouse? Truth bomb here, boys…You are a selfish, low-life, deceitful, cheating, untrustworthy, bastard. You have hurt your wife, your kids, your parents, your in-laws who accepted you as family, your sisters and brothers-in-law, your nieces and nephews who loved you…all because you were too selfish to think of anyone else but your own perceived needs. While totally disregarding your vows, your responsibilities, your promises, your family…who has done nothing but love you and support you. Ughhhhh…stupid, selfish, cowards. I can’t deal with them.

And actually I guess that’s why I decided to write. When my grandchildren found out that their dad was cheating on my daughter and was leaving, they were angry with him. They yelled at him and are so mad they don’t want to talk to him for awhile. I still remember my grown children’s reaction when they found out that their dad had been serial cheating will multiple women for decades. They were not mad at him. They were mad at me. Will made himself look so pathetic, and was of course in denial, that he made everything look like my fault. They felt sorry for him. I was so very alone. 

Well, my daughter is not alone. She calls and updates me. She rants and screams and knows that I am her safe place to rage. And I listen. And I am calm. And supportive and understanding.
And then I get off the phone and I am a hyperventilating, sobbing , triggered mess.
I am still hurt and resentful that neither of my girls were there for me after d-day. It is still one of the most hurtful things I have ever experienced and added so much more trauma to my whole betrayal…so it will always be so incredibly painful. But, I would never do to any woman in agony what my daughters did to me. So, despite my own triggers and pain, I am here for her.
It is not good time, but amazingly, Will is incredibly supportive and cognizant of my needs. He gets it! He understands the triggers and has been compassionate and available.

So, for that I am incredibly grateful. I am also grateful that so far, we are all healthy and safe and doing the best we can under isolation from the virus. So really, as far as our recovery and our marriage is concerned…no real news. And that’s good.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Hugs your loved ones.
Oh, and wash your hands!

Leigh ❤️

 

 

 

Barefoot in the Chapel

Baptism of Christ

This past couple of months has been so busy…and so beautiful. Since our trip to Hawaii, Will has met with our church leaders and it has been determined that his heart, from a spiritual standpoint, has been changed and softened considerably. Enough so that he was confirmed to be worthy and redeemed through the repentance process to be re-baptized as a member of our church. During this time, I took 10 days to go and visit our daughter and mother of four of our grandchildren in another state. My son-in-law had been deployed with the military leaving them for six months. Needless to say, she is a bit overwhelmed on her own. After a week and a half, we drove home together with the kids and prepared for the onslaught of out of state family who wished to attend Will’s baptism. My son flew in to perform the ordinance. And it was amazing and powerful and so faith-affirming. Time with all three of my grown children was precious and so fulfilling. They are all such incredible human beings! Every one of them is accomplished and happy and such wonderful parents to my grandchildren. My heart is full of love and gratitude for them all.

Prior to Will’s actual baptism, there was a short program in the chapel of the church building. Will and my son were dressed in white and were prepared to enter the baptismal font. As I sat next to them both, I noted that they were both barefooted and it struck me that in the Lord’s house, instead of Sunday finery, they were in the most basic dress they could be in. No adornment, no embellishments, no shirt and tie, no shoes. Simple, clean, pure, white. This is how we will come before God. No pretention, nothing hidden, no distraction from our most pure selves. Barefoot. Vulnerable. Honest. For He knows all and sees all without the filters we use to live this human life.

I contemplated how much simpler life would have been had Will been this open and vulnerable and honest throughout our lives together. How much pain and shame and sadness and hurt would have been avoided had he only been able to be “barefoot” with me and those who have loved him no matter what? I had come across a C.S. Lewis quote a few days prior to this which suddenly popped back into my head.

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

This. This is why we go through pain and sorrow and hardship. Because we all have the potential for greatness and to be extraordinary. Because we come into the world barefoot and vulnerable but life teaches us to be guarded and clothe ourselves in a facade of what is deemed acceptable by society. We cannot let go of all the trappings of our humanity, but we can re-learn how to become as a child again. This is done through heartbreak and loss and trial. God sees us as he created us…as His children…open and teachable and meek and humble. Hardship teaches us these things again and we become again as a child and dependent on His mercy and love. We are again willing to be barefoot.

Leigh ❤️

 

Aloha

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View from our hotel room

Will and I just returned from a week in Hawaii. We had never been and this was totally Will’s idea. He took upon himself the planning, the reservations, the itinerary…everything. Our fortieth anniversary is this month and so this was our celebration of forty years of marriage. Forty. Years. That is a lifetime.

Sadly, out of those forty years, Will has been faithful to me for only four. He has been present and sincerely trying to be married for about the last three of those years. Forgive me if I am sound skeptical about full recovery…but, history. On balance, the odds are not great given his past behavior and my past ignorance.

However, that being said, we have now what we have never had. Hope. When one is stuck in such an insidious, destructive addiction, there is literally no hope in sight. The addict feels that he will forever be “broken” and out of control.  When the spouse becomes aware of the betrayal resulting from that addiction, hopelessness is prevalent and anger, hurt, and despair are the emotions which rule our lives. The overwhelming feeling of being shattered is constant.  Hope is an illusion and seems forever gone.

Then something happens. It does not happen suddenly or even at a reasonable pace. It happens s.l.o.w.l.y. Painfully, heart-breakingly slow. Hope begins to infiltrate one’s conscience. Sometimes at odd times or in odd ways. Sometimes, most times, stealthily, catching one unaware or unready.

This happened to me in Hawaii. During a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, there was a Tahitian village wedding vow renewal ceremony that visitors take part in. The vow was not an “I do.” It instead asks the question, “Will I ever leave my spouse?” To which one answers, “No, I will not.” As Will and I took part in this vow with the rest of the crowd, we looked at each other and said these words in answer to the question posed. At that moment, hope jumped in. Will was sincere and actually had tears in his  eyes when he replied. I felt his honesty and with that, felt a great hope that I hadn’t really felt before. I knew at that moment, that there was a future for us and our marriage. I don’t believe that I have known that with any certainty before. It was good. So good.

We had an amazing trip together. I had few triggers and those I managed with little effort. We spent every minute together eating, swimming, shopping, exploring. It was so good for us. I put my wedding ring back on. For the first time since D-day. I never thought I would wear it again. I looked at it as something shamed and broken. A symbol of betrayal and pain. It’s matching partner, worn on Will’s ring finger, had been taken off so many times to assuage his guilt while acting out that it was rendered meaningless. To him and to me. But, he has worn it faithfully since D-day and has the tan line to attest to its constancy. And that is where hope again comes in.

Consistent, honest effort breeds hope. Hard work towards meaningful, lasting recovery breeds hope. Acts of selflessness and caring breeds hope. Sincere repentance and forgiveness breeds hope. These are the things that never were, but are now, present in our lives together.

It is no secret that Aloha means hello, goodbye, gratitude, good luck and a multitude of other interpretations in the Hawaiian language. The overwhelming meaning though is described by natives as love. Love for a person or a place or an idea. But mostly a love of life. With hope, comes aloha. A deep love of life. An appreciation for all that is good and beautiful and wonderful in our world and in our lives. Although there have been so few “good” years out of the forty we have spent together, I can say now with a great deal of hope, that we are now learning to enjoy these aloha years. We are blessed. 🌺

Leigh ❤️

Seven

Is the seven-year-itch the same in recovery as it is in a normal marriage? I wonder because it has been seven years since D-day (May 17) and I feel…restless. I’m not sure what the feeling is really. I still love Will and I love the life we have made but I find myself wondering with ever increasing frequency, ”What if?”

…What if i would have chosen differently?

…What if i would have gone back to the corporate world and made a different life for myself? And ONLY myself?

…What if I would have looked elsewhere for the love without the ugly history of betrayal?

…What if there was something more beautiful beyond the pain?

I don’t feel regret, exactly. But, I do still feel envy for some of my friends who have been married for decades and have never felt the gut-wrenching devastation of betrayal. I feel jealous of the women who can look at their husbands and know that they are their one and only. Those who don’t know the feeling of being ”not enough.” Those who feel so very loved.
After seven years, countless PTSD episodes, innumerable rescues from the brink, thousands in therapy dollars, hours of spiritual counseling, precious family time and healing couple time…why am I not more secure? Why am I not more confident? Why do I still have doubts about Will’s fidelity? Am I irrevocably broken? Incapable of trust?

I don’t like to coast through life. I am not a ”go-along-to-get-along” kind of person. But, I feel like maybe that is what I have been doing. I don’t like it. Not one bit. Friends, I need your wisdom, your advice, your always reliable words of assurance.
It’s entirely possible that I am just stuck in an ungrateful rut that I can’t seem to pull myself out of….I could use helpful suggestions for that too. Just sayin’….

Leigh ❤️

All in the Family

It’s a psychologically proven fact that addiction and other mental or emotional maladies run in families. Will is practical proof of that. His (biological) father is a sexist, manipulative, narcissist and exposed Will to his first pornographic experience. Will believes the man is a sex addict. His grandfather was an alcoholic and was known to “have women on the side.” Beyond that, older generations, is only speculative. However, moving to the generation with which we have graced the world, our son had problems with porn (which Will blamed his own relapse on…🙄), we have one daughter who deals with food addiction, and our oldest, which is the point of this post, is an alcoholic. So, yeah, we are that dysfunctional.

In the last two years or so, our oldest daughter has made several late night calls to us in tears because her second husband, (the first is a drug addict with whom none of us have contact) and our eldest grandchild were fighting and it was getting out of control. These things usually ended a couple of ways: we would drive 40 minutes to get either the grandchild, the husband or the two younger kids to get them out of the situation and then drive 40 minutes home and they would spend the night with us. Alcohol was ALWAYS involved. Or, we would be able to calm things down after a couple of hours on the phone to everyone involved and they would finally get tired and go to bed. The calls, the fighting, the out-of-controlness became too much. My granddaughter moved out, to places unknown, my oldest grandson (15 at the time) started smoking pot, the younger grandson started having major issues at school, and my daughters husband filed for divorce. After what seemed an eternity, we found the root cause was my daughters non-stop drinking. She is a therapist and specializes in children and play therapy. She got a second DUI, came close to losing her license to practice and became alienated from my oldest granddaughter even more. My granddaughter then got a DUI after totaling her car and has now had her license suspended.

Yeah. All of the sudden, after so much work and healing for Will and I, we were dealing with yet another onslaught of trauma, drama, and heartbreak. Not gonna lie. It was all so triggering for me.

So, that was several months ago and brings me to now. My daughter is divorced and not handling it well at all. She continues to drink, comes to family dinners drunk, denies it, gets angry and drives off with my two grandsons. We rarely see our granddaughter because she too, has substance abuse problems and cannot be bothered to seek help. My oldest grandson is drifting into pot land and doesn’t spend time at home or with us much. The little guy, who is only eight, spends time between his mom and dad and has behavioral and anger issues.

My daughter got obliterated a few weeks ago. She called and was going on and on, rambling and using every obscenity she could think of regarding a family website and someone with whom she perceived was rude. She could barely form a cogent thought. She then called this other family member and was verbally abusive. She then went to a neighbors home, had a few more drinks (from what we can tell) flirted with said neighbor, consented to kiss him and then was raped.

She called her sister at 5:00 am in tears and said she had reported it. She called me at 6:00 and said the same thing. She called her now ex-husband and he was less than sympathetic. This set her off and she sent scathing texts to all of us. She was clearly still drunk. She was profane and verbally abusive. Not one of us responded.

After a couple of days, she called me and her sister. Neither of us had the will or courage to pick up. She is now in victim mode. She texted us claiming that she would not entertain any shame or blame and that we had failed as women in not reaching out to her and supporting her. I replied to tell her that she needed serious help before she destroyed herself, her kids, and this whole family. She believes that me, Will, her sister and entire family are blaming her for getting raped. No. We are just wanting her to heal. We are desperate for her to get some control over her life. None of us has the heart to stage an intervention. I have learned how to let go of so much, but this…this is breaking me.

Losing My Religion….?

Hello to those of you who still check in. This is random and sort of abrupt, but I have a question.
Does anyone feel like God has gone silent in their lives? I mean, He got me through the worst of the trauma. He was there when I had nobody else. He let me know that life was worth living, with or without Will. He was and is my Saviour and my Redeemer. But, where has He gone? I feel lonely. I feel bereft. I feel as though He doesn’t know how much I need Him. My prayers feel….empty.

I feel like I am losing my connection to God and I don’t know what to do. I pray. I read my scripture. I go to church. But I am somehow…lacking?

Help.

Leigh ❤️

What True Recovery Looks Like

I have thought a lot about this blog in the last few months. I don’t know that I have much more to contribute. I loved, loved, loved writing when I felt as though I was healing and possibly helping others on this life-changing, impossible-yet-possible, painful yet empowering journey. Today? I just don’t know. I have found myself feeling less and less affected by the trauma and emotion that Will’s earth-shattering betraying caused. I have felt grounded and serene. Calmer and wiser regarding it all. In short…it is somewhat of a non-issue in our present lives. It is a part of a long, difficult, traumatic and indescribably painful past. But that is where it is in my life right now…the past. I cannot change it. I cannot erase it. I cannot reframe it to make it seem less devastating, it was. It was, and is, what it was and is. And it just no longer matters. I have turned that page and have moved beyond it. It is simply part of who I am now. It is my experience, my growth and a long, difficult process of self-discovery, grace, forgiveness and acceptance which has made me who I am now. Today. Not a victim of my past, but a survivor of unbelievable pain and betrayal. It has refined me, forged me into something better, stronger and more resilient than ever. I would not wish this pain on anyone. I would hope that people everywhere never have the occasion to experience the depth of betrayal that comes with an addicted spouse. But, if they do, I hope and pray that they come out of that refining fire a better person. I hope that I have. I hope that anyone who reads this also understands that it is not only possible, but incredibly life changing (for the better) to withstand the pain and come out on the other side of it feeling stronger, more empowered and wiser. God bless you all for reading, commenting, commiserating and offering endless support and love through the years. I won’t be cancelling or deleting this blog and will check in periodically. Please contact me directly if you wish to chat. So much love and gratitude to all of you!

Leigh ❤️

So…Yeah….Life Goes On…

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It again has been many, many months since I have felt compelled to write anything. Because, honestly, my life is so ridiculously normal. I mean, aside from riots, fires, pestilence, plagues…you know…real every day life. Maybe it is because the world is in such turmoil and my American life seems to be on the  brink of destruction that maybe my own personal, intimate, hell of living with a sex addict seems minuscule in comparison. Or it could be that I am finally to a place where, despite all the external chaos, things are finally, truly in a place of serenity and peace in my life. I don’t feel the need to think about what Will has done in the past. I don’t feel the urge to litigate all of the indiscretions and pure evil he perpetrated on us. I have no desire to feel the pain of betrayal. I certainly don’t have a need to continue to dwell on what happened or why. It is, quite simply, in our past. It is not who we, as a couple, are anymore. It is not how we identify or choose to live our lives. Yes, Will still attends meetings and continues his outreach to help others. Yes. I still read healing information and practice mindfulness and meditation. But, no, we are just not immersed in the world of recovery/healing much at all anymore. We see the Therapist infrequently now,  preferring to spend that time together doing something we both love to do. Sometimes, that is simply sitting quietly together reading under our pergola with music playing along with the crickets. We spend time with one another, with family and with friends. We spend a lot of time at home and we have finally broken down the barrier to lovemaking. That is still a work in progress, but it is lovely and intimate and emotional in a good way.  Life is so, so beautiful and fulfilling and wonderful. We are blessed and grateful to be living it together. I continue to pray for our world, for those in so much pain and for all who have been my sounding board, my support and my virtual friends for so long. I have a deep abiding love for all of you and a gratitude for the constant understanding, compassion and guidance with which you have been so generous. Simply put…I would not have been able to heal and even survive without you all. Thank you is such an inadequate phrase for how I feel about you all. But, life goes on. I will be writing even less but I still read and comment and reply and I am not discontinuing this blog. I want each of you to know that being in that place of pain is not forever. There is healing, there is hope, there is complete recovery. It is possible to move out of that place of betrayal and there is a great amount of love and life yet to experience. I am in that phase of my life now and it is beyond my ability to describe the peace and joy that is in my heart. Life is amazing and I am excited everyday to live it. God is so, so good. I love you all and I will still be here, living, loving and not just surviving, but thriving.
Leigh ❤️

Toxicity

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For the last couple of years, a Facebook “friend” has been quite passive/aggressive with snide comments whenever I post an opinion. We differ politically and she simply can’t let those differences alone. Here’s the thing…she was one of the first people who knew about Will’s deception. She’s an attorney who had gone through a divorce and recommended a good divorce lawyer to me. Unlike others, she was quite  stoic about what had happened…no tears, only advice. Of course, she had never gone through this type of betrayal. Her divorce was due to her husband leaving her for another woman whom he had known since childhood…his first love. I get that it hurt her, but to be honest, I always got the feeling that it was her pride that was damaged, not her heart.  Anyway, she had re-married and was very vocal about sharing how amazing her life was.  We were never close…she knew about Will as a bystander as I was confiding with a friend. In the year following disclosure, we never spoke of it again and as far as I know, she never gossiped or spread rumors etc. She did pointedly ignore Will whenever they happened to run into one another where they both worked downtown. She was, however, one of those who avoided me when I made the decision to reconcile rather than divorce. She avoided me at church, at social events and stopped posting or responding on Facebook. Meh. No loss, really.

Well, things changed when her second husband got cancer. She publicly disclosed every aspect of his battle but mostly her feelings about how it affected her. When her husband passed away, her FB feed was an open, mournful, grieving, dialogue of her pain.  Pictures of them and their combined family over the years, memories that popped up and the inevitable sadness that they brought. It was understandable. She had suffered a loss. She was devastated. I was consistently supportive. When I first heard of the diagnosis and prognosis, I texted her and offered support. I continually offered a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. And then an odd thing happened. About a year after her husband died, her posts began to change…dramatically. All of the sudden, she was positive and began posting pics of herself in the gym. Pics of before and after when she started to lose weight and get fit. Her doom and gloom grieving posts about her deceased husband all but stopped. I wondered what had changed but, was positive and again supportive. Then, it all became clear. She announced that she had met someone and would soon be remarried. Ah….I see.  As one part of me was happy that she had found a new man in her life, another part was incredibly sad that her life seemed to change based on whether or not she had a man in her life. It all seemed so superficial.

I got it. I had been there. I had been that person who had lost myself in a relationship. And I grieved the loss of myself once Will’s betrayal was discovered. I lost a lot of respect for her at that moment. I felt sorry for her. Despite all of her pain and her public grieving and her TMI about her sadness…followed by her TMI about her new fiancée, then husband…I remained FB friends with her and was congratulatory and supportive. Because that is who I am.

Over the next year or so, however, she became more and more passive/aggressive in her responses to comments I made…usually on someone else’s posts. She attacked my opinions on social issues, she was verbally derisive regarding people I supported politically, she ridiculed my posts on depression, addiction, recovery etc.  In short, she was clearly not a fan of me or anything I found important.  Even though I had publicly and privately supported her through her struggles, her grief, her questionable motives regarding fitness, her newfound love and happiness, her own political stance and her family circumstances. Through the years, I was supportive and happy and simply there for her…regardless of how I felt about her decisions and choices.  After a comment I posted on one of my daughter’s posts (yes, she is friends with one of my daughters) she posted a particularly nasty comment about selling one’s soul and being a traitor because of a political opinion. This was directed at me. I was hurt. I tried not to be. I tried to shrug it off as I had so many times before. I mean…it was only FB…right? No. This was a wake-up for me. This was another betrayal. I had stood behind this woman through her own trials, her bereavement, her challenges, her grief, her recovery, her pain and her joy. And in return, she had shown her disapproval of my own choices. Her anger at my political opinions. Her dismissal of my own journey through grief and pain and loss. Her ridicule of my newfound joy and happiness in marriage.  I realized that she was a person who could only find joy through her own selfishness. She found her fulfillment only in being tied to a man who completed what she perceived as a FB perfect life. She was definitely an image seeker who needed the attention which social media fed. She was, indeed, incredibly shallow.

So, despite the many ties that we have together (church, friendship circles, children, history) I unfriended her on FB. This may seem trivial to some, but for me, this is not something I did lightly. I actually prayed over it and meditated through it. This is normally just not who I am. I am not a bridge-burner. I am not a friendship-ender. But, I (again!) realized something very important. I am not willing to be abused any longer. This is a lesson I keep teaching myself. I learned it early on in my trauma with my mother and sister. I learned it with my daughters. I learned it with Will. I am continually becoming stronger about who and what I will allow in my life. I haves freed myself of yet one more toxic person in my life and it is very liberating.

I am sometimes a slow learner and it sometimes takes my awhile to identify the toxicity a relationship is bringing to my life. But, I can say that I am not afraid to rid myself of the bad and welcome the good anymore.  I am so willing to embrace the happy and leave behind the harmful.

Leigh ❤️

Four.

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Today is May 17, 2019. Four years since D-day. Four years since my world was shattered. Four years since the day I became irrevocably changed. Four years since life, as I knew it, was over.

And four long, difficult, heart-breaking years of grueling recovery and healing.

And it’s not enough.

I don’t know where I am on my journey. I don’t know where my road is leading. All I know is that there are horrible memories that still overshadow the good memories. That balance has not been restored. I know, also, that it is hard, hard work to make those good memories that used to come so effortlessly. But, I still try.

Maybe in another four years, or eight…or twelve, the memories will shift and the bad will fade and be less painful. Maybe the good memories will be overwhelming and wonderful and crush the bad from my recollection. Maybe rain isn’t wet. 😏

I came across a numerology chart the other day which describes the characteristics of numbers, and while I don’t subscribe to numerology or really even understand it, I thought the associated description of the number four was interesting and perhaps apropos to my current state:

Those who walk a life path with the number four have an almost unbreakable spirit and astounding capabilities of self-control. 4 reminds us that equality of all sides created the strongest structures. It’s energy is that of stability.

Hmmm…Can’t really count on all of that.

What I can count on is myself. What I know for certainty is that I will keep working on healing. I will keep doing the best I can with what I have. And I will keep looking for more. More happiness, more contentment, more gratitude, more grace.

I think I’m getting there. Slowly.

Leigh ❤️