Erase, Adjust, and Carry On.

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So, I took a few days to run away recover from Will’s horrible treatment of me. It has been a wise decision. I took the whole day yesterday to treat myself to an all-day spa treatment…mani/pedi, massage, facial, lunch. I have NEVER done that before. Never.   I had one slight tinge of guilt for such an extravagant expense…but soon realized that the cost was about the same as one massage parlor visit by Will in the past..so, really, it’s all about perspective. Anyway, I am currently at a resort hotel locally where comfort and indulgence is a priority. And, I have to say, I am having such a lovely, peaceful, reflective time. I need to do this more often…regardless of Will and his issues. This is healthy and so, SO good for my soul! I have treated myself to wonderful food, downtime, and an abundance of time to read, sketch, and hike. Things that I don’t do enough. And while sketching, I realized a profound concept…the eraser!

I am very much an amateur artist. I sketch things that inspire me now and then. I am not very good, but I enjoy it as a sort of therapy.  Sketching, for me, is a time to reflect, relax and it provides a good outlet for my sometimes inhibitive side to be released. As I was surfing the internet yesterday (for what, I honestly don’t remember 🙄) I came across a beautiful site of southern Italy and amazing photos of the stunning fields of sunflowers that are so prevalent in that region. When Will and I traveled through Tuscany many years ago, I was impressed by these same fields and bought a beautiful hand-painted plate of a single, perfect size flower which still graces our dining room wall. One photo I came across as I surfed particularly struck me and I decided to sketch it. As I began my new drawing, I sketched, I erased, I considered my perspective, I re-drew, I erased and I re-sketched, until I had something that pleased my eye and my sense of proportion and balance. And then…the epiphany! I erased! I obliterated the ugly, the disproportionate, the “oops” that regularly occurs when I sketch. And I made it better. I re-evaluated and took stock of the picture as a whole and I adjusted. To make the end result as close to perfect as was humanly possible. It is a constant process. Sketch, evaluate, erase, re-draw, assess…and then carry-on to the next phase.

You already know where I am going with this analogy, but for me, this was such an enlightenment! Why, if I can expend so much thought and time into a trivial endeavor like a simple sketch, can I not take the same care and considered reflection when it comes to my marriage? Yes, I get that it is a much more emotional and personal issue, but it should be basic precept for something that I have spent over forty years working on. (Even if Will has not been much of an active participant in this same project called marriage 😏.)  This is less about Will and more about me and my mindset. I have spent weeks, even months, on an intricate project like a drawing, a needlepoint piece, a refinish item or a sewing endeavor. True that these are material things and are not of an everlasting or eternal nature, but during the process of creating, they require focus and attention and a certain amount of dedication to complete. Why then, in creating a solid marriage or relationship, something that should last a lifetime and beyond, would I not employ an equal or, indeed, a greater effort to ensure success? Arghhh!!! Why has it taken me this freaking long to figure this out?!?!

*SIGH!”

Sometimes, I wonder, not if Will is ever going to “get it”, but whether I will ever really be in a place where clarity and simplicity of thought takes center stage in my life. Not to deter from the fact that Will behaved in an unacceptable manner…he clearly did. But, to re-focus on my own reaction and response. Which is still a work in process. As we both are. One does not survive four decades (or longer) of dysfunction without deep-set scars and ideologies of life unscathed. But, that is not to say that one does not possess the very basic utility of an “eraser.” We can (and MUST) utilize the God-given gift of the eraser (or, in other words, Christ’s atonement) to undo the ugly, the unfathomable, the hurt, the “oops” of life! Much like a pencil which sometimes takes a deviant path from what the artist intends, life can take a path which is errant and unacceptable. We can then either allow that path to obstruct and distort the whole, or use our eraser to re-evaluate, re-assess, delete the error and correct our course.

We can re-draw our future. We can erase the ugly and focus on what is next. It is not simple. It is not without shadows of regret or missteps or remnants of hurt pain or bad decisions. But it is a positive move towards a better and brighter tomorrow. Those who know me know that I am not about platitudes or Pollyanna optimism, just plain and simple facts of life. Like a project of skill, or hope, or faith, marriage and happiness is something which requires endless reassessment and readjustment. Using the eraser which we have all been given is the most powerful tool we have.

Leigh ❤️

 

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Addendum

In my last post, I forgot to mention one very important aspect of being a sex addict’s spouse. I’m freaking exhausted. A lot. Nearly every day. Everything…and I DO mean everything…takes So. Much. Effort. Which begs the question; why bother?

At this point, I have no answer.

Leigh 💔

 

I Am Not A Doormat…anymore

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Growing up, both Will and I had terrible examples of what a wife and mother should be. Both of our mothers married narcissistic, self-involved, chauvinistic bullies. They were both used, taken advantage of, disrespected, and eventually, cheated on. They were what was called a doormat. A place where one would wipe their shoes or stomp the mud off their boots. Where marriage is concerned, a place to leave all the crap of the day. We both watched as our mothers took whatever was dished out from their husbands. We both were taught by example that wives were to be used and forgotten. Their existence was nothing more than a convenience for their husbands. Is it any wonder that Will is a narcissist and I put up with it for so long? Is it any wonder that our marriage was so much like our parents? Children live what they learn.

So, Saturday has become a day when Will and I spend time together doing mundane stuff like running errands, home chores etc. But it’s okay, because we spend the day together. This past Saturday, Will came home from his early morning recovery meeting and was on his phone. He was trying to purchase a new phone through our carrier. I could hear in his voice that he was frustrated but was doing a good job of keeping his temper in check. He was dealing with a representative who was not very knowledgeable about the phone he was trying to buy. At the time he came through the front door, he had already been on the phone for over 30 minutes. I puttered around the house waiting for him to finish his call…for another hour and fifteen minutes. He finally got off the phone and said we needed to go into the carriers brick and mortar store to get his phone because the rep had so totally screwed everything up. I told him we could go there first and then do our other errands. We had to return something and pick up a clock from the repair shop….and then maybe we could grab some lunch. He was not in a great mood, but I assumed he would cheer up once he got his new phone. We got to the store, they sorted everything out, he got the phone he wanted and they said it would take an hour or so to transfer all of his data etc. We decided to go pick up the clock and grab some lunch. I asked him if we could get lunch first because I hadn’t had breakfast. He shrugged and said, “Sure, but I’m not hungry so you can just get whatever.”  This was not the plan and I rather enjoy going out to lunch together, but I said fine…just hit up a drive-thru and I’ll grab a salad. As I munched away on my salad, he was quiet as we drove to the repair shop. I asked if he was okay and he just said he was tired and hadn’t slept well. He really just wanted to get our errands done and take a nap. We got the clock, then headed to the pet store to return an item I had bought online and picked up in-store.  I did not have the receipt and the salesperson told me I could just get store credit unless I could find the electronic receipt. We got out of line and I began to search my phone to see if I could find the receipt. It wasn’t an easy task and Will began to nag. He started by saying store credit would be fine. (No, it wasn’t.) Then escalated to telling me to just find a customer service number to call. (Exactly what I was doing.) Then literally started to manage me by telling me how to use my email and how to search for the 800 number. I’m a grown woman. I’m not an idiot. I bloody KNOW how to use my email and the internet. I stopped typing and asked him why he felt he needed to control me and the situation. He got snotty and argued that he was NOT controlling me. Since he did not have his phone, I basically threw mine to him and said, “Fine Asshole. YOU just take right over.” I walked off leaving him standing there. He ended up finding a number (that I had already pulled up) and calling customer service to get an emailed receipt (which is exactly what I was doing) and then acting like he was some kind of superstar because he had done what I was already doing. We got our refund and left to go back to the phone store. I was fuming. He was oblivious. We didn’t talk and I did some internal meditating and deep breathing. He was still oblivious. I had calmed down enough to suggest we get ice cream after we picked up his phone. He mumbled something which I assumed was agreement. We went in to get his phone. It had completed its transfer and all he had to do was remove the SD card and reset it so it could be recycled. His old phone was on the counter as he looked for the app that would delete all the data. He scrolled past the “backup and reset” option twice and I simply reached over and pointed to the option as he clearly wasn’t seeing it. He swatted my hand away! Like I was an annoying gnat or something. I simply told him I was going to walk over to get ice cream and left. I got my treat and went to the car to eat it. By myself. In a complete rage. He texted me and said I could go ahead and get ice cream..he wasn’t really in the mood for anything. I texted back that I appreciated his permission but I had already thought for myself and gotten my ice cream all by myself. *snark* When he got to the car, he realized I was angry and apologized “If something he did upset me” (!!!!!)  I told him to check himself and his actions. I told him he had been controlling and dismissive and he denied, defended and argued. I stopped speaking to him.

Normally, after we do our Saturday running around, we go out to a movie or snuggle downstairs and binge watch something. Not this time. I was so hurt, so angry, so baffled by his behavior that I couldn’t even be near him. After several hours, he came to find me watching a series on Netflix and apologized. He said he had a really rough morning and was sorry he was short with me. That was it. No acknowledgment of his controlling behavior. No heartfelt apology for swatting me away in annoyance. No true understanding of how he had diminished me by his treatment of me. Not really an apology at all. He had reverted to his old behavior and I wanted…no, I NEEDED…him to see that. He had a crappy morning and a rough meeting and a long frustrating phone call and he wanted to just wipe his dirty, muddy boots off on me. I wasn’t having it. I spent over thirty-six years taking his crap and being the doormat for his dirt. I’m not that person any more. As I write this, it’s Monday. I am still waiting for him to figure it out. I am feeling the need to run away. I may just take a few days and have some me time. I’m thinking after the bombcyclone and frigid temps here in the Rockies, Arizona might be a nice warm up. Or maybe just a Marriot with room service and a couple of good books. Either way, I need to have some distance and space. Even doormats need to be refreshed every so often..😏

Leigh ❤️

Winter Won’t Win

 

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What a long cold winter this is turning out to be! I am not a big fan of the first few months of the year. I always feel a little depressed after the New Year. It’s a mix of the cold, the after-holiday slump and lethargy of my self imposed human hibernation. I have to make such an effort to get out of the house, and being completely honest, even get dressed,  on these cold dark days. It is easy to stay warm and comfy inside as days drag by, waiting for spring. But it is also detrimental to my own recovery. Depression can get the best of me during this time of the year if I don’t force myself to be an active participant in my life. Fortunately, Will has come to realize what a struggle it is for me and, unlike past years, makes a huge effort to plan date nights, plays, weekend trips etc., to help me through this difficult part of the year.

Last week, we met some of our kids and grandkids up in the mountains at Breckenridge. They skied and snowboarded and Will and I spent some down time in the beautiful lodge and condo. (I don’t ski anymore after a nasty accident and knee reconstruction 😏) It was lovely and peaceful and we celebrated my birthday there. I was reminded time after time as we went through the week, of how much, yet how little our lives have changed in the last three and a half years since D-day.  We tend to be careful, albeit subconsciously, of speaking of Will’s addictions and the impact on all of our lives. Yet, if something comes up in conversation, we are able to simply address it as a matter of fact and move on. There are still triggers and there are still times of reminders and rumination, but they are brief and completely manageable.  But we still play games with family, we still have lovely family dinners and we still have a deep and abiding love and friendship with one another. We still think we are all hilarious and crack each other up. My kids and grandkids are amazing and resilient. I have much to be grateful for.

And that is one of the biggest drivers in recovery. Gratitude. I have to continually remind myself of all the good in my life (and there is SO much!) so that I don’t slide into a self-pitying depressive state which is certainly the easy way out. Years ago, I heard the founder of Mothers Without Borders, Kathy Headlee-Miner, give a seminar. She has had an incredible life and definitely her share of trials. It would have been easy for her to wallow in her adversity and lead a persecuted life. She chose differently. She chose to be happy. She chose to serve others. She chose to be grateful for her blessings. Every morning, no matter where she finds herself in the world, before she opens her eyes to the day ahead, she quietly reflects on her blessings. She mentally reminds herself of three things that she is grateful for. She has practiced this little ritual for decades and she believes that it has a huge impact on her outlook on life. She challenged all who were there to try it to see if it made a difference to them. I must admit, it does. Taking a few short minutes every morning to be thankful and humble has a profound impact on how I approach my day. As this dreary winter has dragged on, I have found that I am more able to get out of my doldrums and it is easier for me to shrug off the doom and gloom that can so quickly turn me into a weepy mess.  I am not at 100% at doing this.  I have days when I am just cranky and dissatisfied with everyone and everything. But, what a difference when I take that few minutes in the morning and adjust my attitude before I even open my eyes! I am more able to focus on all the good things in life. Laughter comes more easily. Patience (not my strong suit) is enhanced. Love for Will is more present. Life is more beautiful.

This is such a huge part of complete recovery! And, for me, my triumph over Winter!

It has taken me a long time to get here. A loooonnnggg time. But, the point is that I feel myself changing and I see the difference. So do others around me. I am closer to the happy, content part of me that was missing for so long. I will never be the same person I was for most of my life, but maybe, just maybe, I can be a better or even the best version of myself. What more can one ask?

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Meet the New Year, Same as the Old Year…or something…

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I have been remiss in blogging for a few months and I think it is because nothing of great impact or import has occurred lately. I tend to be quiet when I have nothing thoughtful or helpful to say. I’m not good at small talk or superficial chatter. You can imagine my awkwardness at social functions. 😏

The New Year came in with Will falling asleep in the sofa watching Netflix and me falling asleep in bed reading.  Yeah…we’re definitely not the “It” couple. We did celebrate on New Year’s Day as we have for many years. We had family over and grilled steaks despite the 7 degree weather and played games. It was really lovely. Lots of love and laughter. And connection. Will has continued to be present and connects now in a way that he (and I) have never experienced. This is true with our kids and grandkids as well. It is comforting and feels like true conversion from “addict Will” to “real Will.”

But, I continue to be on my guard and trust is still an issue. I think it may always be something that will be there…this lack of complete trust. I can never go back to my pre-D-day unconditional love and trust. I honestly don’t remember what that was like. I am no longer that vulnerable or malleable. And the honest truth is that I no longer want to be. I have been told that this is not the goal of full recovery…but that doesn’t make sense to me. Why would I open my heart and mind completely to the possibility of such devastating betrayal again? I may be recovering but I’m not stupid. I prefer to protect myself now, which is something I never even considered previously. This is not to say that I don’t love and trust…just not unconditionally and enthusiastically. I am more cautious, more aware, more reserved in how I approach relationships now. With Will, my family, friends…everyone. This is what profound betrayal does to a person’s psyche. This is what it does to a person’s core being, personality, and perspective. It is unfair and I am trying to let go of the resentment towards Will because of this forced change from who I was and who I am now. It is a hard row to hoe.

There are many good things, however, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the blessings that recovery has revealed. One of the many things that I have realized is that I genuinely like Will. He is truly my best friend. He still makes me laugh and cry happy tears. We enjoy spending time together and doing things together. He is still attractive to me and I appreciate his intellect and tenderness. Desire is slow in returning, but I am hopeful that too will make its presence known when we are both ready. I am trying to be patient.

So…nothing too earth shattering in my life these days. I’m just learning and growing and getting through this life and it’s challenges as best I can. Doing what I can to be better at it. It is, at times,  more difficult than other times…and sometimes relatively easy. But it is a constant effort to emerge and change and evolve. To discover who I am while holding on to the essence of who I was. Anyway, as I was writing this post, I kept thinking of the old The Who song, “We Won’t Be Fooled Again.” The lyrics are fitting for me right now.

“The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war
I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again, no, no”
This is how I am feeling. I have been liberated from the old life of secrets and infidelity, but history ain’t changed. I smile and grin at the change all around me in my life…because there is so much good! But then, I get on my knees and I pray (fervently!) that I don’t get fooled again.
Happy New Year’s 🥳
Leigh ❤️

 

 

Fall (ing)

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I love this time of year. The cooler weather, the leaves changing, the anticipation of upcoming holidays. It’s a season of coziness. Soft warm sweaters, crackling fireplaces, hot cocoa…all those things of comfort.

I just got home from visiting my newest granddaughter in the Midwest. I went to help out with the new baby and her two older siblings. It was a lovely time and I so love spending time with my son and daughter in law.  They have been the one part of my family who, when the revelations of D-day were new, were willing to accept my grief and pain. Unlike my daughters, who felt that Will’s issues were somehow my fault, my sweet daughter in law embraced me and my pain and loved me all the more for how it affected me.  She is an amazing young woman who is fun, smart, accomplished and blessed with a joyful spirit. I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like because she is a two-hour plane trip away, but when I spend time with her I am always struck by how blessed I am, as a mother in law, to have this wonderful person in my family. I fall in love with her a little more every time I see her.  How fortunate that she and my son fell in love and have chosen to spend their lives together. She calls me “mom” and her 5-year-old asked her why she called me that since his other grandma is “really” her mom. She replied simply that “Daddy’s mom became my mom too when daddy and I got married. She’s not only my mom but she’s also my friend…how cool is that?!” What a lovely explanation and such a simple statement of love and family.

What an amazing world it would be if we were all so accepting and loving! I think back to those early days in my trauma when I was so judged and my family was so cruel to me. I understand that they, too, had issues and betrayal and hurt. But I also understand that, on a basic human level of compassion and empathy, they lacked both and in some ways still do. I am still unable to speak with my girls about anything regarding my feelings of betrayal and healing. They prefer to discuss their feelings with each other and still blame me. If “the past” comes up in any way, they quickly change the subject as if nothing ever happened. It is denial in the worst way. It still hurts, but there is little I can do about that if they choose to ignore it. I think this is part of the reason I love being with my son and daughter in law. They are open about what happened and want updates on how both Will and I are doing in recovery. It is not the big, ugly elephant in the room that no one acknowledges. It is comfortable and normal and loving. I don’t know how to achieve that with my girls and it is still so hurtful and I fall into a depression over it so easily. It is definitely something that, through all our family has been through, I struggle with the most.

However, there is something about this time of year that sparks in me a tremendous gratitude and appreciation for all the blessings in my life. There is something quite beautiful about the idea that the trees, so recently in full leaf and at their prime, have so quickly changed color and are now losing their leafy protection to the elements. I know that the coming months will bring bitter cold temps and frosty winds which will batter these vulnerable bare trees. I know that they will be exposed to whatever Mother Nature throws at them and that they will withstand frigid cold nights and overcast, sunless days. BUT… In the spring, they will begin to warm from their roots up. They will be re-invigorated into growth and beauty. The brutal months of cold and exposure will have made them stronger than the previous year. They will produce even more full branches of even deeper and more prolific leaves and buds. Their trunks will have strengthened from withstanding the winds which bent them and built their inner core…but never broke them. They will leaf out fully and provide beauty and shade in the spring and summer. They will provide shelter for squirrels and birds and insects of all types. They will provide comfort and privacy and depth to our landscape. What a metaphor for betrayal and healing! As my family has been through such a cold, bitter, cruel “winter” because of Will’s addictions, I have faith that, with time, we too will come through it and have a glorious “spring.” I believe that as I have withstood all the rawness and bare vulnerability that betrayal brings, I will be stronger for it…I already am. I think that my family will regain its roots and it’s core will be strengthened. I know that our leaves have all fallen off and we still struggle with the chill and frost but, I think our empathy and compassion will grow deeper and that our family will again return to its full canopy of shade and comfort from the storms of life.

It is ironic that I love this season where everything is dying…yet it is so beautiful. It seems to me that this sums up my life so well right now. I see my kids as being in different seasons at different times. I see the same for myself. But, I have faith that we will all go through our different seasons at our own pace and in our own time. I believe that, although this winter season seems to be eternal, it will refine us and strengthen us and that we will be healthy and happy and will enjoy an amazing spring and glorious summer.  There will be more falls…and winters. Some will be not  quite so beautiful and maybe some will be harsh and unforgiving. But there will always be a spring and a summer. Always.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I  have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”  ~ Ecc 3:1-12

 

 

Healing

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I am healing. Not just physically from my recent surgery, but from the trauma of betrayal. I am struck, though, by the speed (or lack thereof) of healing emotionally and healing physically. And I have always thought that unfair. Healing faster is better right?

As I heal from major surgery, I can feel myself get stronger. I can see results on the scale. I can walk farther and longer. I have regained some of my energy. I just simply  feel better.  I have not had any instances where I have felt worse or even the same as before the surgery. The progress is all forward with no relapsing. And I am only about six weeks post-op. To me, this is amazing.  But regarding the devastating betrayal, I am over three years post-D-day and it has only been recently that I feel I have made noteworthy progress. Have I seen and felt myself change? Absolutely! But it is agonizingly slow and painful. And I feel like there are relapses way too often.

Today, I was in a grumpy mood and didn’t want to talk to anyone or do anything. I didn’t want to take a walk or even get dressed. When Will got home from work, he cheerfully asked if I wanted to go for a walk. And so we did. Partly because I knew I needed to walk for my continued recuperation, but largely because in the past, Will would never take a walk with me and I’m not about to pass up that opportunity. We walked, held hands, picked up the mail and talked about everyday stuff. It raised my spirits somewhat but I still had a dark cloud that I couldn’t quite describe hanging over me.

We sat outside under our new pergola and watched the sunset and shared silly videos with each other on our iPads. It was a nice quiet evening. As we said our prayers together, I prayed for the Lord to protect us in our sleep and in our dreams. It was at that moment that I remembered my dream from right before I woke up this morning and realized what it had done to my mood all day long. It was horribly vivid and seemed so real and it put me right back to the rage, the disgust, the sick feeling of betrayal, the absolute feeling of broken-ness of D-day.  And the hangover from it stayed with me all day. It made me so angry that my brain and my sub-conscious would torture me this way. Why?!?! Why can’t my mind and my emotions heal like my body is doing?

Then, I began analyzing it all, like I do 🙄, and have come to this conclusion:

A body is really just a vessel. A relatively temporary thing for our use here on Earth. It is easily bruised or broken and, for the most part, there is generally a medical remedy, like stitches or casts or surgery to put one back together again. It takes some effort to heal, but the body does most of it on it’s own. We can not control how the bones knit together or tissue regenerates. It just does.

The mind, however, is far more complex. It is part of our spirit, our personality, our intellect. It is WHO we are. We cannot rely on the miracle of healing in quite the same way. When one is mentally or emotionally damaged, there is no chance that the brain is going to “fix itself” and heal on it’s own. There is no third-party like a doctor or nurse that can stitch up the gaping holes caused by years of false memory. No one can put a cast on the broken heart or broken trust and allow those things to knit back together. Healing from trauma is s-l-o-w. It is painful. It is So. Much. Hard. Work!

Healing is not for the impatient. And that is what I keep reminding myself. I keep telling myself that I am worthy of grace. I am allowed to take my time. I have earned the absolute right to feel the pain and anger at times, but also revel in newfound joy and, dare I say it, happiness. I am learning to accept the relapses and then put them behind me. I am learning that a relapse does not impede forward progress or even slow it down like it does with a physical injury. It is actually a PART of the progress and makes one stronger. Every thought and emotion and even dream is something to process, to digest and to learn from. It is all part of healing.

So yes, I am healing physically faster than emotionally. That is a given. But I am healing well on both counts…and that is what is important.

Leigh ❤️