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. ❤️