All In The Family

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I haven’t blogged in awhile. Not because everything is great, not because everything is terrible. But just because of everything. The everydayness, the everythoughtness, the everymemoryness, the every-everythingness of what is my life now. Now that I know. Now that my children, my oldest grandchildren, some other family members and close friends, all know.  I am in a sort of a limbo state wondering what is next.

In the meantime, it has become glaringly apparent that Will’s addictions and past behaviors have had deep and profound repercussions within our family. The thing with addiction and recovery is that it is never, ever just about one person or one behavior or even one addiction really. There are so many minute little pieces that fit, sometimes grudgingly, into the puzzle of one’s dysfunctional life. What happened to someone, or to someone they love, or perhaps something they witnessed, or a multitude of other scenarios can cause trauma. Trauma that is not dealt with is so often stuffed down, or medicated, or manifested thru more dysfunctional behavior–like addiction. Causing more trauma. It is a difficult and sometimes a lifelong project to break the cycle.

My oldest daughter had a very, VERY, drama-filled adolescence. Much of it of her own making, but some of which, looking back, was spurred on by her wanting the attention of a distant sex obsessed narcissistic father and an insecure preoccupied fearful mother. Both of whom drank to excess, Will as an alcoholic and me as an enabler, and had NO idea how to deal with a strong-willed, smart, independent teenager. After “Ann’s” many rebellions thru running away, drug use, boys, and utter hatred spewed toward both Will and I, she managed to graduate from High School and land a full ride scholarship to the State University. A full 3 hour drive from home, I admit, it was somewhat of a relief to have her out of the house and away from influencing our younger two kids. Will and I quit drinking ( I did, he said he did and lied…shocker), He confessed his “minor” and infrequent infidelities (not all of them it turned out…shocker) and recommitted to our marriage during this time. We moved again and tried to look forward and start fresh.

Ann lasted one year at school. She announced she was bringing someone home to meet us. She showed up with a tall, skinny, kinda goofy-looking guy with big ears. She had been dating him for a little over a month, I think, at the time. And she was pregnant. She was 19. She moved in with Mickey (the ears, sorry 😏) and he got a job as a waiter in their college town. Our first grand baby was born and it was love at first site. As time passed, we learned that Mickey was an alcoholic and drug addict…and he was abusive. We drove the now six hours more than once to save Ann and the baby and bring them home to safety while Mickey sobered up. Ann continued to play this game…for eight long years. When we discovered that Ann, too, was an active drug abuser and suicidal, we sued for custody of our then eight year old granddaughter and her little one year old brother. I remember arguing with Will, only convincing him to take the kids because if not for us, they would have gone into foster care. No grandchild of Will’s was going to be a ward of the state! After two years of rehab and then, blessedly, a divorce from now incarcerated felon Mickey, Ann began to make a new life for her and our two sweet grandchildren. She then married a great guy who adopted these kids and loves them so very much. They together have a third. Ann is now a licensed therapist. And an alcoholic. In perpetual relapse. And continually trying to deal with her now difficult teenage daughter. Who has come home drunk, has run away, has boy issues. . .and is currently, for the last week, in a behavior mental health facility for an attempted suicide after being beaten up by her current boyfriend. The same one I was in. She is 17.

Her confidante and the person she feels comfortable talking to the most? Will. She knows some of what his addictions were and what he has done. She also knows and has seen how he has changed over the last almost 2 years (D-day is May 17, 2015).  Ann’s go-to person in crisis? Me. She does not comprehend how I was able to cope with all the crapweasle things she did as a teenager. She is having such a difficult time trying to cope with the same crapweasle behavior from her teenager now. And she is desperately trying to stay sober while doing so. All I can tell her is to rely on God and surrender it. There is no magic pass. There is no passing go and collecting money. These is no going around or over or under…only going through.

I have two other grown children. They have no addictions. . .that I know of. I have eight other grandchildren. I pray hard for all of them that thy NEVER have to experience this brutal, unrelenting trial of addiction and abuse. I want the cycle to end. I hate that addiction is such a prevalent problem and that it festers and grows in silence and fear. I hate that families, everywhere, everyday, are torn apart by its effects and fallout. I hate that my family has been so devasted by it…because of Will…and his parents. And who knows beyond that. All I know is that it needs to stop. All of it. For our own health, for the good of marriages and relationships and families everywhere.

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Sex Addiction Kills

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A friend from my recovery group I attend sent a group text to us all this morning. It stopped me in my tracks and an old, bitter, stomach churning, feeling washed over me. She was informing us that another woman in our group just told her that her sex addict husband, who was struggling so hard to stay sober, could not handle the pain and failure any longer and took his own life. They had two small children.

I had to sit down and fight tears as I read the words and fight back the emotion, not because I knew this man and I am not close at all to this woman who attended so infrequently. It was the enormity of the problem. The Addiction. The destruction and devastation it brings to lives…the addicts, their spouses, their families, their friends. It is an evil, disgusting life sucking addiction that destroys one not only physically, but because of its nature, disintegrates the very soul of its victim. Tearing down every last feeling of self-worth,  any hope of redemption, any grasp of living without shame or embarrassment. Addicts truly believe at some point that they are probably better off dead and most wish that God would just take them to stop the pain. This man did not wait for God. He stopped his pain himself. He could not stop the pain of his constant guilt or the pain of hurting his sweet wife any more. He couldn’t stop anything except his own heart beating.

I thought back to my first few weeks, even months after D-Day and my horrific dreams/nightmares wherein Will would die or be violently killed. Sometimes it would be at my own hand in a hate-filled rage and I would awaken struggling to breathe with a severe anxiety attack. Indeed, there were times, when I was in the midst of my deepest trauma and hate, that I truly wished he was dead. And then, of course, as most of you know, I truly wished that I was. That is what this addiction does. It is unlike every other addiction in that respect. In a relationship, this addiction changes both people…whether they know it or not…and eventually, they both will know because they are always found out. But one’s brain is either altered by the addiction and the lying and the porn and the secrecy, or one’s brain is altered by being lied to, and gaslighted, and ignored, and withdrawn from, or neglected. And at some point, for either one, it can seem too big, too ugly, too terrible, too powerful a hold on us to escape from. It can seem bigger than even God.

That is how this man felt. And now his sweet wife and their two children do not have him in their lives anymore. There will never be a chance to watch him become a new man. A strong, confident, connected husband and father. A man truly and deeply committed in word and deed to his family and filled with a depth of love for them that he was never able to show before. And that is the biggest tragedy. The biggest loss.

The loss of what could have been, what should have been and what likely would have been. Recovery is hard, grueling, painful work. Marriage through recovery is sometimes ugly and very messy. But truly recovering addicts are human miracles and amazing testimonies of God’s grace and love. And marriages, recovering thru the hell of this addiction, are even greater miracles of Christ’s Atonement and His sacrifice for us.

My heart is breaking for anyone in that darkest of places because of addiction, the fallout of someone’s addiction, or for any reason. I pray for those souls whomever and wherever they may be. I ask that as you read this, you pray for them too. God blesses those who need Him the most. ❤

Gratitude Ain’t Just An Attitude, It’s a Way Of Life

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We made it through Thanksgiving…no, no…actually, Thanksgiving was really wonderful. Will came out and joined me and we had a lovely time. I picked him up from the airport and it was GOOD to see him. I actually MISSED him! And I didn’t have that weird uh-oh-something-isn’t-quite-right feeling. It wasn’t even a passing thought. Does this mean that all is fine and dandy in sobriety land? Oh, no. Not by a long shot.

You see, a year ago, I was visiting this same son and daughter-in-law when Will came out to visit as well. Only, we were in a completely different place in our relationship. He was still big time into the manipulation and gas lighting although he was not acting out in his addiction. While there, he snuck my journal and read it, hacked my phone and read my texts to friends, and lied continued to lie/conceal things he had done. It was during this time last year, when my doctor’s office called to tell me my test results for an STD were positive. So…there were definitely triggers. A LOT of triggers.  But, oh, what a difference in how they affected me. And my reaction. And my behavior. And my emotion! I was able to instantly recognize a trigger when I took the grandkids to the pond to feed the ducks, just as I did on my last visit. As I approached the same bench on which I sat listening to my doctor tell me my test results last year, I felt a cold sadness coming over me. I clearly heard the words and felt the pain of that moment. I took a deep breath. And in the next moment, it was gone. I quickly realized that I was healthy, I had become stronger than that bad moment and could deal with the aftermath. I was grateful for where I am now and the people in my life that I love. AND THAT WAS IT!  In the next moment we were throwing bread crumbs to the ducks and making silly duck calls and then continued our walk home. I did not even think about it again until I said my prayers and gave thanks for the healing I had been blessed with.  The many other triggers in the three weeks I was there were so fleeting that I scarcely remember what they were. Something Will did caused a panic in me and I lashed out with a snarky remark…and very quickly apologized for it. He, also, realized what he had done to trigger my panic and apologized. Then he held me.and he kissed me. And he told me, as he does so much now, how very much he loves me and is grateful for me.

We have our moments. Believe me, when we got “home”to our tiny little trailer to find it without heat or hot water in 36 degree weather, it was not a good moment. But it was also not a moment where either of us got upset with one another, or engaged in any blame. We simply turned the electric blanket on high and tried to stay warm enough to sleep til morning  so we could find and fix the problem in the daylight. Trust me when I say, this is a completely different dynamic in our relationship. It feels healthy, and loving and like a true team effort. We are now two people in this marriage, both equally committed and both giving 100%.  I would not have believed it possible a year ago in sometimes have to remind myself that we are just 18-months post D-day. I know there is So. Much. More to do to get where we want to be…and NEED to be. But I am happy and grateful that we have come this far. I know we both still have a lot to learn about ourselves and each other and our relationship, but I have so much hope for our future.

I really have a true spirit of Thanksgiving and appreciate all that I have been blessed with. I pray that, no matter what our circumstance, or where we are in our recovery process, we can take the time to be truly, deeply thankful for all that we have. I pray that through this Christmas season, we can focus on the love and peace of the season and find joy in our circumstances, no matter what they may be. I love each of you and the amazing healing and support that this amazing community has provided me. I would not be here…as many of you know…without your outpouring of love, friendship, guidance and wisdom. Happiest of Holidays to everyone. I will check back in before Christmas! 🎄

 

I’m OK…Really!

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I’ve been apart from Will for a full week. And…meh…I’m good. Really. I have not once had that urge to try to check up on him, grill him about his day to see if I could catch him in a lie, or even ask him how he’s doing, ya know, with his *whispers behind hand* R.e.c.o.v.e.r.y…..

Of course, I have been busy chasing a couple of the cutest little grand babies around while mommy and daddy are at school and work. So, I’m a little too busy to dwell on what Will may or may not be doing. Plus, I have been writing for another blog, as a contributor, and that has been a great outlet for me. I am finding that I can miss him but not yearn for him in a co-dependent way. I am really perfectly fine on my own. How liberating is that?!?! I don’t just survive without Will anymore, I continue to thrive. I continue to grow and learn and strengthen myself in heart and mind and I feel closer every day to being a full person again.

Will is coming to join me, the kids and these two littles for Thanksgiving and it will be good to be all together. Our house will be completed in January and it is beginning already to feel like a home…a real home. Our forever home. I will be thrilled next year at this time when hopefully my whole gang will join Will and I for the holidays. Together, really together, for the first time in two years. I look forward to that. I look forward to a lot of things these days, and I gotta say, after the devastation of the last year and a half, looking forward with joy and not dread feels pretty good.

I hope you all are finding joy with the upcoming holidays. I hope that with Thanksgiving being next week, we can all be thankful for the blessings we have. Grateful for who we are becoming and even the trials that have made us so strong. I am particularly grateful for this community and for the amazing, inspiring women I have met here who I am honored to call friends. I thank you all for your compassion, your trailblazing, your advice and your love. May God Bless and keep you this Thanksgiving. Hugs to All!

Leigh ❤️

 

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

What’s Important

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I haven’t written in awhile. . . Not since I returned from my week on campus (which was incredible! I will post about that later) because in life there are priorities. Upon returning, my sweet little 3-year-old granddaughter developed an eye infection. Not a big deal, one would think. Neither did any of us. My daughter treated it with a salt water compress and since there was no accompanying fever or other symptoms, assumed it would run its course and her body would process the bug and her immunity system would fight and win. After a couple of days, however, her eye became swollen and she refused to open it. She also stopped moving her other eye, choosing instead to move her whole head to change her view. A trip to the doctor provided some eye drops and advice to keep using the salt water compress and to watch for fever.  The next day, our poor little girl was irritable and complaining of pain. As her mama was able to force the eye open for just a peek, it was clear there was more than just an infection going on. A trip to the ER resulted in an ambulance ride an hour north to the Denver Children’s Hospital for a sedated MRI. This was last Friday. . . My daughter and granddaughter have been there since then. I have been living part-time at her house as my son-in-law manages work and the drive back and forth to the hospital and I wrangle the other three children. Will and I went to see her yesterday and her cheery little self is much improved and her eye is healing. We are hoping she (and my daughter) can come home today. Her condition is called orbital cellulitis and hers was severe enough that they were concerned about it morphing into something which would cause a loss of vision or worse. We have prayed so hard for this little one. We are relieved and grateful she is healing.

I have shared this because I sometimes get so wrapped up in my own bubble of recovery, trauma, healing, forgiveness, resentment, repentance, gratitude. . .the whole cycle of emotion and experience that is my little world, that I can lose my own vision of the larger world. The important things. The life and death issues that are ongoing everyday and don’t just stop because I, LeighKay, happened to have married an abusive sex addict. I have been reminded that the really important things in life are  the ones that ensure our happiness. I endeavored to blog throughout August about my “happy” in life and I had quite a few entries although not as many as I had aimed for. While it is true that many things, many people and many situations or ideals can bring on the happy in life, I believe that true happiness comes from our connection. When we are connected, at a real, authentic level, we find purpose and meaning. We participate in each other’s joy and sorrow, we feel and empathize one with another. We share all that is beautiful and good and noble with each other but accept all that is flawed and imperfect as well. We appreciate the value of another just for being one of God’s children and are grateful for the opportunity we have to live our lives come what may.

I am grateful my little granddaughter is on the mend with no long-term damage to her sight. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to be available and helpful when needed. I am particularly grateful that throughout this family crisis, my focus has been on this crisis without having to wonder what Will was up to, where he was, if he was where he said he was and doing what he said he was doing. Not because I trust Will.  But because I trust God. And because I have gotten to that place when I realize that THAT was the most important thing all along.