“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
~2 Timothy 1:7
“Hi, my name is Leigh.”
Yes, cliche and you may laugh but this is how introductions go in S-Anon meetings…just like every other AA or Anon-whatever meeting around the world. You may then describe if you like, that you are the partner of a sex addict, intimacy anorexic etc, etc…. Anyway, it occurred to me, that when I started this blog I completely neglected to do any kind of formal introduction. How terribly rude of me! Well, aside from the absolute rudeness of my brash, slightly out of control rant which I realize is NOT the way one typically begins a public chronicle of events. Ahem…..
So, let me rectify that and provide a proper intro and a little bit of background. I am Leigh. I am a 54 year old woman who married my high school sweetheart a month after graduation when I was about six weeks pregnant. That was nearly thirty seven years ago. I had three children and now have nine grandchildren. Still just the one husband. My husband, Will, was never a very good provider and I always had to work hard so we could make ends meet. I put off college for many years and was in my forties before I was finally able to get a bachelors degree. Will joined the military which allowed us to travel but also offered him a lot of opportunity to be away from me and the kids. He became a heavy drinker during his military years and was often a violent drunk. He also developed a devastating gambling habit. He lost rank, was court martialled, forced us into bankruptcy, beat me and even raped me during those years. Ah….good times. Good times……..😏
At one point, I had had enough and threatened to leave. He was ok with that. I found an attorney, and then did something I hadn’t done in many years…I began to go back to church. This seemed to be a turning point for Will and he had a change of heart. He stopped drinking, stopped smoking, cleaned up his language and attended church regularly. He never ever hit me again. He wanted a clean start. He confessed to me at that time that he had been unfaithful on several occasions during the first 15 years (at that time) of our marriage. I was devastated. I was shattered. I went to my ecclesiastical leaders for guidance and counselling. I was counseled to forgive. To be a good wife. To submit to my husband. They counseled that if he was satisfied at home, that Satan would not be able to tempt him so easily elsewhere. I believed them. I struggled for many, many months on my own with only God hearing my cries and Will telling me to get over it. I convinced myself to “get over it” and over the next twenty-ish years, I tried to suppress the hurt and the memories of the women I knew with whom he had cheated. I was rarely successful but through sheer strength of will, I determined to be happy and make a happy home. We retired from the military and Will started to make a good salary. We bought our first home. I graduated and had a good job. Our kids were grown..healthy and happy. Things should have been great…..only they weren’t. And I couldn’t figure out why. We were making plenty of money but Will handled all of the finances and sometimes he would caution me to “take it easy on the grocery bill” or some other expense. He also became very disinterested in sex. As in…months without. He spent long hours at work. Went out of town on business trips. We fell into a comfortable friendship punctuated by occasional hugs, quick kisses and hand-holding. I began to notice that even these infrequent physical contacts seemed to only occur when others were around. They seemed to be a show. I quit working to spend time with family and every so often, Will would take me with him on a business trip. He attempted to make those trips seem like a little vacation when I was with him and would try to initiate sex. Only, by this time, he was unable to perform. He blamed it on tiredness, getting old, “low T”…..🙄. He had to make regular trips every couple of months to a neighboring state to a branch of his company in a small town. He would stay in a local motel and usually be gone for a week or so. He always drove…it was only a few hours away. During the last ten years or so, I remember asking him if he was seeing some else, if he didn’t love me anymore, if he was thinking of leaving me…all sorts of questions like that. Just because he was so distant. He would get so angry, so defensive. He would turn on me and make me feel so terrible for asking that I tried so hard to avoid the subject. We didn’t have sex, we didn’t talk about sex, we pretended that there was no such thing as sex. I stopped trying to initiate long before this because I knew he was no longer interested. I dieted, I worked out, I changed my hair, I got facials, I kept my nails done…..he just didn’t like me anymore. We were just friends. Then, one evening, I saw it. Wills phone. On the counter when a name popped up with a text. Danielle. I reached for his phone…he grabbed it and protected it as if it was the Crown Jewels. At that moment, I knew. The look in his eyes told me everything. I am not proud of what happened next. I punched him. Closed fisted, like a dude, in his face. I split my knuckle open. He dropped his phone and I picked it up. He panicked and by this time, blubbering, started to deny, deny, deny.
“It’s only texting!” He said.
“It’s harmless flirting!” He said.
“She’s nobody!” He said.
“Nothing happened!” He said.
Then I figured out how to open his “private” texting app. Oh, yeah. She was definitely somebody. According to the pictures of her posing in the expensive lingerie that Will had bought her. According to his complimentary reply of “Gorgeous!!!” According to her description of what she wanted more of next week when she could stay with him again in his hotel room. According to his promise to make her moan like she did last week. You have to believe me when I tell you that it was not harmless. I still see those images and hear his lying, blubbering, ridiculous protestations, and remember the filthy texts. Verbatim. I kicked him out of the house. That night.
The following three months are somewhat of a blur. He began a series of disclosures. Each one causing a new wound, a new trauma. Each one tearing a new hole in my heart and crushing what little remained of my trust. The new revelations went back thirty six years. At least forty different women and hundreds of infidelities. Prostitutes, strippers, massage parlors, pickups in bars, co-workers, family members…..if it walked, he nailed it. My therapist says that if he is owning forty, there are definitely more.
I couldn’t stand to look at him. I couldn’t stand the thought of him. I couldn’t stand the way he smelled. His things smelled and made me nauseous. I got all of his belongings out of the house and into big boxes and bags for him to pick up. I worked in a sweaty fury, stopping to vomit at the stench of his filth. I showered when I was done. Then showered again. I couldn’t get clean. For a week, I cleaned the house. Everything. Walls, floors, curtains, bedding, carpets, furniture….I rarely slept. I couldn’t eat. I lost fifty pounds. I started to lose time. I would forget where I was….really. I struggled to remember what city or state I lived in or what year it was. I would get in my car to go to the store in the morning and end up at the state line hours and hours later with no idea of where I was or how I got there. I woke up a couple of mornings to find items in my home broken…dishes smashed, electronic shattered, holes in the wall….once a bloody gash on the door jamb that suspiciously matched one on my very bruised and bloody hand. I would sometimes wake at night unable to breathe because of the pain in my chest…absolutely convinced I was having a heart attack (side note: look up broken heart syndrome…it’s a thing!)
I went places, talked to people, said and did things that are still only fragments in my memory during that time. I don’t know if I will ever get that time or memory back fully. I was suffering from Betrayal Trauma induced Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).
At some point during this three months, Will decided to contact his current affairs and make a clean break since he’d been busted. Apparently one or more of them were not happy about that, and since he told them that he loved his wife and wanted to make his marriage work, I was the villain. I became the target of a pretty nasty cyber attack. My Facebook, my email, my home phone….they had it all. Complete with pictures of me (not good ones!) from Will’s phone that they posted on my FB with vicious captions, pictures of Will’s…Ahem…shall we say, soldier at attention? Noting that if I could make that happen for him, he wouldn’t have needed a mistress. Nice huh? Calls in the middle of the night saying filthy disgusting things….well, it was exhausting. Then, because Will had also violated my family circle, my relationship with my own sister was destroyed….and then, my mother chose to distant herself from me, apparently taking my sister’s side as a victim. She broke my heart by admitting that I, as an adopted child, was not “really” her daughter…in other words…she had lied to me my whole life about loving me the same as her natural child. When it was crunch time and I had nobody but my mom…well…I didn’t even have my mom. I broke. Literally and completely. I woke up in the hospital, and then at a mental health facility until I was stable and no longer suicidal. I began a torturously slow, agonizing crawl towards recovery.
That was eight months ago.
So…Hi. My name is Leigh. I’m a recovering partner of a sex addict. I am happy to be alive. I am lucky to be sane. I am blessed to be healing.