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 ❤️

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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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

 

 

Still Skanky After All These Years

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Today Will went to work as usual. But, mid-morning he showed up at home. I was a bit alarmed. I thought maybe someone died or he got fired or…worst of all…he had some relapse or was about to disclose something new.  He came and sat beside me and said simply, “Skank is in town.”  If you remember, Skank is the slut that Will worked with at a branch of his company in another state. She was one of three whores at work with which he had affairs. She was, by far, the longest at about four months. At that time, Will traveled “for work” a lot. 🙄 She is also the one who had several posts in the online shaming site, Homewreckers dot com. One was from me. She is the one who attacked me and blamed me for her own slutty behavior and cyber bullied me when she found out I knew about her.

So, when Will says she is in town, well, that’s a pretty big trigger. He was unaware that she was coming here for work and only caught sight of her in the office out of the corner of his eye. He did not take a second look, he did not engage.  What he did do, was go to his office, get his keys, duck out of the building and drive home. To tell me. In person. And to sit with me as I absorbed the information and begin to process. We discussed what he would do if she approached him. We discussed what he would do if she was in any meetings he was required to attend. We discussed what he felt when he caught that sight of her.  I asked him to go back to work and let me process. This post is part of my processing.

Of the many women Will has been with, this particular person disgusts me more than I have words for. I generally don’t hate anyone, but Skank is the one person I feel rage for whenever the thought of her or discussion about her comes up. Maybe it is because she was the one who dared to come into my home and into my bed and screw my husband. Maybe because she demanded that Will tell her he had feelings for her…which he did because he didn’t want to lose his free and easy access to sex. Maybe it’s the very fact that he is forced to refer any work related emails or phone calls from her to his tech to handle because she is too stupid to realize he can’t stand even the sight of her name coming across his computer screen.  Maybe it is simply the fact that she stole what is mine. My husbands time, his body, his interest, his attention.  Particularly at a time when I was in need of his support and help in our lives.

Will no longer visits prostitutes or massage parlors. He does not have any contact whatsoever with any former affair partners. But, Skank? She just keeps intruding in our lives. She will have a problem that she can’t resolve and will try to call Will directly. She shows up from out of town on Will’s floor where she has no need to be. I don’t want her to be a part of our lives and I have such anger at Will for bringing her into our marriage. I just want her to disappear from our memories. I don’t want her to have the power to trigger me. I am tired of letting her have that power.

Turning the page, the positives are obvious. Will did not engage and came home because he wanted to be with me when I got the information that she was here. He was concerned for me and knew it was a trigger so stepped up to tell me himself…in person. He said his initial reaction to seeing her was disgust. And shame. He now questions himself like I questioned him years ago… How could he lower himself to have sex with someone like that? He posted on Facebook this afternoon about gratitude. He had a paragraph about me:

“ I’m grateful for Leigh. Words can’t properly express my feelings towards her. She is loving, persistent, caring, protective, kind, humble, beautiful, witty, resourceful, intelligent, authentic, passionate, and courageous. I am learning that marriage and love are action words, and I’m grateful she is also patient as I continue to learn how to effectively and lovingly provide, protect, and pursue her heart.”

I am choosing to put this day behind me, where it belongs. I am choosing to see Skank for what she is…a sad, pathetic, needy person who is “less than” in every way. I am refusing to give her any more power in my thoughts, in my life or in my marriage.  I am choosing to be grateful that I am not the type of person she is. I am grateful that Will has progressed enough to see her for what she is and to appreciate all that I am. I am grateful that, after all this time, Will and I are different people…better people. And Skank? She’s still Skanky after all these years and that’s her problem.

Leigh ❤️

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To Recovery. . .

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A couple of weeks ago, on my way to my twice monthly appointment with Ron the Therapist, I stopped to get gas. I had been shopping on the East side of town and stopped at a place I have never been. I had plenty of time before I had to meet Will at the therapist’s office so planned on running my car through the car wash after filling up.  My car never got that wash. As I was only a couple of gallons in, I heard a voice, with a little chuckle in it, calling my name. I turned and there he was. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in many, many, many months. Not gonna lie…I HAD thought of him. He was the first man with whom I realized sex was more than just something to be endured because the man enjoyed it. He was THAT guy. The man with whom I had had my PTSD fog-filled affair.  Then why, oh why, did seeing him there, unexpected, make my heart flip-flop and my knees turn to jelly? All of the sudden, things occurred in the ‘ole nether regions, that had long been asleep. Against all recovery advice, I did not politely extricate myself from his presence and leave. I couldn’t. I. Physically. Could. Not. We talked. We both kept smiling. He asked if we could pull over and get coffee. My brain said NO! OF COURSE NOT! But I heard my voice say, “sure.” Now, before anyone out there thinks I completely lost my mind…NO! Absolutely nothing happened. Zero. We talked. He bought me a soda. We caught up. He kept saying how great I looked. And kept asking if I was happy. I kept thanking him and assuring him I was working hard. He left for work (night shifts), I headed to my marriage counseling appointment.

So, here is my problem. I have kept this whole thing to myself. Not a word to Ron the Therapist. And worse-not a word to Will. And I have no idea why!  It isn’t that I feel guilt. For whatever reason I don’t. Nothing happened and after all is said and done, I know that I will always care for this man. Love? No. Affection? Absolutely. Why, you ask? Simply because he was kind, compassionate, sensual, thoughtful and loving when I was at my most needy and vulnerable. And, because despite everything, he gave me something I have never had before. Fulfillment. That is not easily forgotten.

I am struggling with this because I feel that I need to be honest with Will and with Ron the Therapist, but there is a perverse need in me to keep this to myself. It’s almost as if I am savoring it and holding it close.  I don’t know what to do with this. I don’t want to share it, or give it away, or make it an issue. I want to be selfish and keep it for myself. In just seeing and talking to him, I felt beautiful and sexy and desired and funny, and smart and loved. Why doesn’t Will make me feel that?  What is wrong with me?

Time Out

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Will is going hunting this weekend. He will be in the mountains with my son-in-law and grandson. I am fine with that. However, next week, I am leaving for a couple of weeks to be with my son and his family. Will will be here. By himself. Alone. I have been telling myself that: I should be passed worrying. He has been sober for over a year. I shouldn’t be triggered by the distance. I am over-reacting and being unreasonable. So far, it’s not working.

The truth is that I am worried. I don’t know if he will still be sober when he is left on his own. Because I still don’t trust him. I don’t. And I don’t know when, or even if, trust will ever be possible. I certainly can’t just decide to trust him 100% all over again after all he’s done. It is not possible for me to look at him yet and not see the deceit and filth that was his life. It is still a process. I know I am impatient, especially with myself, but this takes time. A LOT of time.

What I am not doing is beating myself up. I started to really get upset with myself for not being able to just take this in stride. But then I remembered…oh, yeah…I didn’t do this to me…Will did this to me. It is not unreasonable or unwarranted. It is not my responsibility to be perfectly ok with leaving my known sex addict husband alone for two weeks, unsupervised, a block away from a massage parlor and liquor store, with full internet access, and all the time in the world, to do whatever he wants with whomever he want, with no one to be accountable to. Whew….now that I’ve written that out, I think I can let it go. Because, really, there is nothing I can do about it. He will or he won’t act out. That will be entirely his choice. He will lie to me, or he won’t…again his choice. He has a poly next month. If he makes a poor choice then, that’s ok…I’ll be ok. I’ll re-file for divorce and he knows this. And if he chooses acting out over me, then I will be better off. And if he chooses to stay sober, then he and we will be much farther ahead in our recovery and on a firmer path. That, too, goes a long way in establishing that all-important trust.

So, in the meantime, I will breathe deep, I will exhale fully. I will let go and let God. I will trust in myself and my own healing as always. And I will be OK. Thanks readers…I needed this little time out. 😏

Fall, Falling, Fallen

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Fall has been beautiful here in my corner of the world. Because we had a cold snap which has been followed by an incredibly long warm (even hot) spell, the leaves turned the most brilliant colors and then stayed for an unusually long time. The spectacular reds, oranges and yellows of the oaks and aspens along with the deep greens of the various pines has been breathtaking!

The leaves are now starting to fall and this has put me into a contemplative mood. I have thought a lot about fall and falling. We use these words so often and in so many different contexts. I like the symbolism of Autumn being called fall…as in falling leaves. I also think of it as the time of year when things begin to slow down or, like the leaves, sort of die off. It is the beginning of the end of the year. It reminds me too of “The Fall” as of Adam. The end of paradise. The fall of man. This year it has been especially poignant to me as I am coming through my trauma. How relatively easy it is for temptation to lead to life changing consequences! And to falling down, falling “off the wagon” in an addiction, falling prey to complacency, falling for deceit or cons, falling into depression… Falling seems to be so simple…it’s the getting back up that takes strength.

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And what about those that have fallen? I noticed Will the other day as he was reading his scriptures at church. He has always read but does so now with the joy and intensity of a fallen man seeking redemption and renewal. He is eager and willing and humble. He reads with gratitude for the Word. I gave a meal to a man last week who was holding a cardboard sign that simply said, “Very Hungry.” He was grateful, and gracious. He quietly thanked me and said “God Bless you!” As I drove away, he began to eat his meal…right after he bowed his head, closed his eyes and thanked God. I was humbled by this “fallen” man and his humility. I cannot help but be impacted by the news every time I turn on the television. The violence, the hunger, the atrocities, the uncivilized nature of our world today…we are truly a troubled and fallen people. I am saddened for our society and fearful for my grandchildren and the world they are inheriting.

So, what can I do? I am one person. I am not rich, or powerful or famous. I have no widespread influence or means with which to make great change. But, I do have the will to start with myself. I am changing. I am growing and becoming. Every day. And with the change in myself, I realize that I am changing those around me. Certainly Will…he notices and tries harder because he sees me trying. My children and grandchildren are more compassionate and caring and sensitive. My friends…those who never knew there was such a thing as sex addiction…have become more aware and more attuned to the threat of porn and the temptation, and are doing what they can to join in, actively helping causes to protect our children and families. I can make a difference…if not in the world, at least in my life, in my circle, in my community. The people around me see me moving forward, growing and forgiving and learning…and their lives are impacted and they reach out to me. And I am blessed. And I am strengthened. And I am able to keep striving.

“Nana korobi ya oki” This is the Japanese proverb which means: Fall down seven times and get up eight. I love this. Isn’t that what Autumn is really? Things fall, they end, they die. That is part of life. BUT…we know…with absolute certainty…that there will come spring. That the things which were dead will be reborn and grow again. That, like Christ, they will be resurrected and spring forth with new life. There is always hope. And with hope comes joy. And with joy comes peace.

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Building from scratch. . .

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If you’ve been following me, you know that we are building a new house. You know that we sold the old house that I had spent fifteen years designing, renovating and decorating to make it “Home.” You will remember that it was sold because Will chose to bring Skank there and defile the sanctity of our home with that disgusting creature. There was also a need to get rid of our bed and sofa…yuck. So, yeah. . . We are starting over. Truly from the ground up. Once the lot was graded, the soils tested, the surveying done and the floor plan platted out, the enormous hole was dug and out of that emptiness, our new house would begin to emerge.

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We started with a solid foundation which was sealed and coated. Protected from seepage and damage. The foundation was then left to cure. To solidify, and harden to the point where it was impenetrable from outside elements and strong enough to support the tremendous weight which would be placed upon it.

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The plumbing and sewage was then laid in with its specific route for maximum efficiency and to adhere to strict city code. It was laid in accordance with the community plan to mesh with the existing master system already in place and will marry seamlessly with the vast infrastructure. Drainage, weather patterns, average usage, grading, plate shifts. . .all of these factors had been taken into consideration prior to this stage and it is perfect before it is encased in concrete.

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The basement floor, the final step of the foundation, is then laid, as well as the garage floor. Again, the whole is sealed and protected against the elements.

At this point the house is ready to go vertical and lumber is added. The subfloor goes in on the main level and framing begins. The floor plan becomes more perceptible and things like exterior doors and windows are apparent. It begins to take shape, and one can see that where there was once was just a plot of ground, now will stand a structure. . . A residence. . . An abode. . . A dwelling. . . A house. . . A HOME.  MY home.

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I think this is a fine metaphor for my life. I think of how the devastation of Will’s addiction leveled me. I was taken down to my lowest. Never, ever, have I felt literally lower than dirt as when I discovered his filthy life and exactly who he had been sharing it with. Actually, dirt is much cleaner than those women. I have now begun to build, with Will, something entirely new. From nothing. In fact, we started with the deficit of a huge hole. Not even level ground. I think we are working hard on the foundation which is still our regard for one another and Will’s professed love for me. I am still trying to come to terms with whether or not what I feel for him is love. Part of this foundation is our amazing family and the history of time and memories and shared experience. Time will tell. We are doing all we can to seal and protect and solidify this foundation to withstand the pressures and weight of life. . .and marriage. We have applied our own system, intricate and thorough, of therapy and boundaries and faith that mesh with the larger community of family and friends and church. And we are now tentatively putting up strong walls which will keep us safe, together, from outside elements. But also doors and windows to allow all the light in.

I am a fan of C.S. Lewis and always loved his analogy of a living house. I was recently reminded of it and now, more than ever, it has incredible meaning for me. Not only am I building, physically, a new house, I am building,mentally and emotionally, a new Leigh. Spiritually I am rebuilding my faith. Psychologically, I am building a new mindset. I will tell you, construction only comes after a lot of clearing and leveling and digging. It is hard, and messy, and painful, and confusing, and ugly. I know though, that what the final product will be, is beautiful, and amazing, and safe, and solid. I’ve seen the blueprints and the model home and I believe in the builder.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Growth

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My posts have taken a backseat lately to…well…life. Things have been busy, productive and mostly positive, so that is ok. I am finding peace and even some serenity these days but it is still a struggle.  I have resigned myself to the reality that there will always be this struggle. . .the internal struggle I have with myself. I wonder if anyone else ever asks themselves, “Have I made a huge mistake by staying? Was this the wrong choice for my own healing and happiness? Is there more in life for me…better…somewhere else? With someone else? Alone?”  I have a fledgling hope that this niggling doubt, which sets in at odd times, will dissipate as Will becomes more and more like the honest, faithful man who I believe he was meant to be. And as I continue my own journey of discovering the strength that I did not know I had and endure the hard lessons of hope, faith and heartbreak that is recovery as a wife of a sex addict.

This brings me to the subject of this particular post. I recently attended an education week and had the incredible opportunity to sit in the classrooms of many wise, funny, intelligent, compassionate and incredibly gifted professors, counsellors, clergy, speakers and professionals from many walks of life. I have too many take aways to enumerate within the space of one blog post but want to share two that, to me, were profound and mind-shifting. . .

God Knew This Would Happen

Kathy Headlee Miner is the founder and CEO of the organization, Mothers Without Borders. She has an extraordinary life story. In one of her presentations she related a story of how circumstances found her in Zambia, kneeling beside her bedroll in a 4′ x 6′ room with a live chicken (a gift from a villager) pecking at her legs as she implored God to find a way to soften the hearts of the government officials who had frozen the funds for work they were doing. She was distraught, she was angry, she was near panic as the days passed and she and her staff wasted valuable time. They had little food left, construction on the village school they were building had stopped and things began to look hopeless. She even felt animosity for the stupid chicken distracting her in her prayers. She then had a peace and calmness come over her. The thought came to her that God knew that all of this was going to happen. The funds, the work stoppage, the dwindling food…even the chicken. He knew. He was in control. This was reality. This was happening and it was real. She knew that there was absolutely nothing that she could have or would have done different to change or alter the circumstance in which she found herself. Her challenge then was to face her trials and act in accordance with God’s plan for her…not her plans. She faced the next day knowing that her anger and frustration would not solve her present issues. She approached her problems with a new attitude…one of love, acceptance and patience. There were still obstacles in her work but the peace she found in the way she handled them made all the difference.

I found great comfort in this story and in her reaction and acceptance of God’s will. I have since applied it to my own trials. I have really, finally, understood that there was nothing, NOTHING, that I could have done, that I did, or that I can ever do to change what Will has done or what he chooses to do in the future. I mean, I really GET this instead of just giving it lip service. I also understand that God loves me and although this horrible addiction has hurt me and caused the indescribable pain it has, He could not stop Will from perpetrating the pain because, like all of us, Will has his agency, or free will. He just chose to exercise it in what is possibly the most despicable way imaginable. That is his own burden to bear. My challenge and choice is to manage how I conduct my own life, my own reactions, my own healthy choices. I am doing the very best I can to live my life of integrity and seek each day to be a little better person than I was the day before. This brings me peace.

Bamboo

Bamboo is one of the hardest, most durable and prolific growing trees known to man. It is the fastest growing plant on Earth, sometimes growing as much as one foot a day! However, the growing cycle is unlike any other plant. Bamboo is planted in a wet spring. It needs a lot of water daily. And then throughout the summer, fall and winter one must continue to water it even though there will be no tiny shoots popping up though the soil. No little sprout of green staking its claim to life in the chosen garden plot. The watering and the lack of life signs must continue FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. The fifth spring, many tiny shoots will spring forth and in the coming few months a bamboo stalk of up to 72 feet will stand where, for five years, there was nothing but hope and faith. You see, unseen above ground, there was incredible growth taking place for what would manifest much later as a great and towering tree. The foundation of any plant is, of course, its root system. For the bamboo, because of its dense fibrous nature, lending it the durability and strength it is known for, the root system must be solid, and vast and impenetrable. It must be able to support and nourish the weighty and fast growing bamboo once it obtains the surface and soaks up the warmth of day and begins to climb rapidly for the sun. This is recovery. Growth is not always visible. It is sometimes a quiet strengthening of the roots of a person’s soul. The very foundation of one’s most inner self that is being changed, and nourished, and is growing. It may not be seen by others for some time…maybe not for five years…but it is necessary and vital to the health and sustainability of ones overall health. The roots of recovery are the nitty, gritty, “in the dirt” basics and are not often pretty or appealing. For us, they are painful, and ugly, and no one wants to see them or even know they exist. But we know that they are essential to real recovery. Without it, the bamboo (sobriety) does not survive.

I am finding the recovery path to be more full of stops and starts than I had anticipated and often have to remind myself that it truly is one day at a time. I am still working hard and still have hope. I am very grateful for all the blessings in my life. I am managing my challenges and am aware of God’s love for me and all of His children. I am growing. My roots run deep.

 

Happy for Happy’s Sake

 

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Day 9

Choosing Happy

Do you know someone who is perpetually happy? You know the type…that person that always, ALWAYS sees the glass as half full….even when the glass has shattered!  I used to think that I needed to try really hard to be this type of person. I was taught that “no one likes a frowny face.” That cynicism or pessimism was never, ever OK.  Somewhere along the way, my interpretation of that came to mean that if I had a suspicion, a doubt, or felt cranky about something, then no one would like me.  Enter the perfect storm of a sex addict + a people pleaser.  Wow…what a set-up.  It is no wonder that Will’s addiction ran amok for so many decades. Did I enable him? Probably. Did I do it knowingly? Absolutely not! I was simply trying my best to be a “happy” person. You know, being happy for happy’s sake.  Because that would mean that I was a good person and other people would like me. Right? Right!?!?!?

Well, the revelation of all the ugly in my fake happy life has irrevocably changed my perception of what real happiness looks like. I now know what happy is NOT. I know that it is not pretending that a glass is half full when everyone know the damn thing is bone dry.  I know that true happiness does not come from someone else’s reality and certainly not from their notion of happy. I believe that happiness is unequivocally linked with truth. It is grounded in authenticity. It is based on the ability to live a genuine, real life, facing trials and joy with the same strength. It is the sure knowledge that happy is not a state of mind, it is a state of being. No one, and no thing can make one happy. Just as no one and no thing can make one unhappy. Yes, circumstances, situations, actions of others, even our own thoughts can affect our mood. That is called life. But, only our choices can ultimately determine one’s own happiness.

So, for me, I choose happy. Not for the sake of “being a happy person” but rather as a choice for the quality of life I prefer to live. I choose to live in truth and reality and if that is sometimes not a happy circumstance, that is OK. The glass won’t be half empty or half full…it will have however much it has…and I will still have happiness. I don’t choose happy for happy’s sake, I choose happy for my own sake. I hope today you choose happy too. ❤️