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the lying and the porn and the secrecy, or one’s brain is altered by being lied to, and gaslighted, and ignored, and withdrawn from, or neglected.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. ❤

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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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On Being Fierce

 

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I am a diminutive 5’3″ tall woman. I take two steps to every one of whomever I walk with. At my ideal weight, I am approximately 120-130 lbs. I am a small woman. When I saw the texted picture of the Ho in her lingerie on Will’s phone on d-day last year, no one was more surprised than he when I hauled off and punched him, full-fisted, with a hard right to his left cheek bone. He had a lovely bruise and I got a split knuckle for my trouble. I have tried really hard to summon up some remorse for that moment of unbridled rage. . .

Nope. Not sorry. Guess I’m just not that far in my recovery. 😏

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. I am writing because I have been impressed lately by the absolute strength and fortitude of betrayed spouses. I have recently met a few incredibly remarkable women who have traveled this crappy road, hiked this jagged mountain, and crossed this tempest-tossed sea, and have arrived at the other side, not only more resilient but more beautiful, more serene and stronger than any other women I know. I WANT THAT!!!! I want to keep my toughness (yes, I am proud of my badassiness!) but I never want to lose my softness, my compassion and my peaceful center. I want to be feisty enough to sock a cheater when he deserves it, but still kind enough to fetch an ice pack to soothe the pain.

I have found that, at times, balancing the two sides of me is difficult. I still get angry…for all the deception, for the sheer betrayal, for the disgust I still feel at Will’s behavior. At those times, it is so hard for me to tap into my softer, forgiving side. The side that wants to move forward, start new, see a new Will. Maybe this is why I cannot feel sorry for slugging him last year. Honestly, given the chance, I would do it again. He deserved it. But, I wonder if I will ever get to that place where I can feel the anger and “sit with it” (as my therapist say) and then let it go so that I can replace it with my gentler side. Right now, when I am able to let it go, it is simply replaced with sadness and loss. I just hate that. It is not who I want to be, or how I want to be.

Here is what I hope. I hope that my fierceness, my feistiness will somehow morph into fighting this underlying anger. I want to be badass enough to be THAT woman…the one that is so fierce and so tough and SO badass, that nothing, NOTHING,can shake her serenity and peace. I think that is strength and beauty personified. Maybe it is simply a matter of time and recovery. I hope I am not incapable of becoming the woman I want to be 😳. Is it possible to work TOO hard to obtain a goal? So hard that it escapes one’s grasp? Ugh…I so easily get discouraged. This is not the serenity I so desperately need. Maybe this is just the part of recovery where growth actually looks a lot like confusion.

So, I keep trying, I keep fighting…for me, my marriage, for us. I keep praying and having hope and faith. I keep learning and working. I keep crying…and laughing. And healing. I am fierce. I am strong. I am still caring. I am becoming.

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

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This is Will’s nasty old Ford F-150. I rarely stepped foot in that truck. It was always trashed, it smelled and it was just. . .I don’t know. . .icky. I found out a few months ago that he had driven around hookers in that truck. Parked it front and center at local massage parlors. Picked up the Ho to bring her to his hotel for sex. Driven the Skank for an overnight sex trip. Gotten a BJ and had sex with Skank in that truck. That truck was gross. It was good enough for Will and his sluts. It fit him and his life. . .then.

There is a saying I grew up with and have pretty much lived by my whole life.

“Use it up, wear it out.
Make it do, or do without.”

I realized that I have done that, not only with material things in my life, but with some of my relationships. Particularly with my marriage. I have “made do” with what I had; long, long past the time it was used up and worn out. I had done everything…EVERYTHING…possible that I, alone, could do to make it last. And even then, refused to throw it out. Last year, after D-day, I faced the reality that at long last, after the futility of all my efforts, it was time to “do without.” I filed for divorce. I knew, without any doubt, that this thing, this marriage, had no further use or purpose. It had become something that was old, beyond repair, unworkable. . . Garbage. Truth be told, it wasn’t just the marriage that could be given this description. It is how I felt about myself. After all, why else would my husband obsess over, sleep with, fantasize about such disgusting women as Skank, and the Ho, and Miss Piggy? As well as sleazy hookers, diseased strippers and “massage” parlor “hostesses?” This was my state of mind, this was my self-image and the torture that became my every day existence. Amazing isn’t it? What a spouse’s sick addiction can do to one’s entire psychological well-being?

I realized that not everything holds its value or even has value and had come to the conclusion that my marriage and Will were valueless. I was, as you regular readers know, devastated. I was also getting some very bad professional input and just coming out of the intense fog of CPTSD. Now, I have never been one to save plastic bags, reuse ziplock baggies or make cool-whip containers the new Tupperware, but I am generally frugal and I believe in repairing and maintaining the things I purchase rather than replacing at the first sign of disrepair or malfunction. Hence my 37 year marriage! So, this was my dilemma. Clearly, the relationship was not worth saving. But maybe the marriage was. . .

I began to consider the possibility of something new. No, not something-EVERYTHING.  There was really nothing in our relationship that was worth saving. It was well and truly over. Our marriage, however, had a fledgling hope. The hope of repair. Life. Recovery. I made a choice then to try a new way. I postponed, then dismissed the divorce plea. I instead insisted on a post-nup. We sold the old skankified house. I insisted on new construction. Will’s decrepit skanky truck was sold and he drives a new (to him) truck. One that suits him now. One that is good enough for me, and us, and much, much too good for women like Skank. I have replaced the sad, negative and fearful Leigh. I am now the more confident badass Leigh who can live with (or without!) a recovering Will. I have let go of my old mindset that everything is worth saving no matter the work or effort and instead, have become more discerning in selecting that which is truly valuable. In order to do this, I also found that I had to become incredibly, frighteningly vulnerable. I know and accept that I can and most likely will be hurt. But, I am aware and willing to take that risk for something new and better. Kathy Headlee Miner said this: “To have an OPEN heart, you must be willing to GIVE your heart to the things that BREAK your heart.” She was speaking of her work with children in Zambia. For me, I have applied it to my marriage. My marriage broke my heart. I believe and I fervently hope, that my NEW marriage will help heal it.

I fully recognize that, sometimes, things are beyond hope or repair and no longer worth the effort. Will’s truck was like that. No amount of spit and polish, no seat covers or paint job could make that nasty truck shine again. Not after his behavior and former self was so symbolized by its very existence. In that situation, a replacement was needed…

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This is what Will drives now. New (to him), clean, unsullied by skankiness. Everything works and functions properly. This is what I want in my “new marriage.” No more hidden filth, no more dirty secrets, no more dysfunction. I have discarded my relationship with Will. It wasn’t real or valid. We are beginning a completely new one. As for our marriage? Now, that is a thirty-seven year old gem that has value. That is something we can work on together too…to make it new.