There Are Still Days…

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Sometimes, I am going along in my life, doing the things that I do, and I am fine. Really. I mean, I feel (almost) like any other woman, married, with kids and grandkids, pursuing hobbies, living life. Sometimes. But, not always. Still, too often, I am weighed down by the knowledge that the one person in my life that I gave my heart and soul, my hopes and dreams, my trust and love to…betrayed me. So many times and with so many women, that even he is not sure of the number. And it still hurts. Just as deeply and indescribably raw as when I discovered his deceit. And then I have one of “those” days.

I struggle to rise from bed, and when I do, it seems a monumental task to get dressed or open the blinds to the glaring sunlight. Leaving the house…going “out there” among normal people…is unthinkable. It is safer here. Within the walls of this new home, where no other woman has bared herself for my husband’s use. Where pornography has never been viewed and phone sex with some desperate whore has never been had. It is safe to withdraw to my computer, to my writing, to my art, to my books. Although, sometimes, even those things don’t interest me. That is when I know my depression has taken over and that is my scary place.

So, I pray. I call other partners. I work my program. I try to engage in something…anything…to occupy my thoughts. I use all the tools in my toolbox to pull myself back to me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it takes a lot of work. But, I am still here. Day in, day out. Fighting for me, for who I want to be, for who I know I can become. It’s exhausting. And there is still part of me that hates Will for doing this to me…to us. I don’t know if that will ever go away. The hate is scary too.

Today is one of those days and I am praying hard and begging God to take this from me. I welcome your prayers today. ‚̧

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So, I Have This Friend…

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Wow…where does the time go? March already and I feel sometimes like I am still stuck in the cold dead winter. Oh wait…it was 37 degrees today..that was the high, so yeah…spring isn’t in any hurry. ūüėę

I began writing for another blog sometime ago and have met (virtually) many new people online because of it. The blog I write for is not like this one. It is not at all personal and has a theme which is far from sex addition. Which I gotta say, is really a great way to get away from the subject and move forward. It has been a really positive thing for me as far as moving out of my comfort zone and it has provided another outlet creatively as well. I have joined several groups where discussions can be had regarding politics, writing…well anything and everything really. I have met some really amazing people and made some amazing friends. I have a few with whom I have grown close and one in particular who, for whatever reason, seemed to be almost a twin to me in his thinking and world view. We have discussed many things: religion, family, politics, marriage…and sex addiction. I had not opened up and shared my story with anyone who “knew” me other than people I have known and who were very close to me. And of course, ¬†to all of you who have been there for me and with me from the beginning. It was scary.

And here is why I did it. My friend is struggling with his own addiction. He is nearly to that darkest place where his “life has become unmanageable” and he understands how he has hurt his wife. I want so much to help him and his wife. I want so much for him to call Will and hear what healing can be like. I want so much for him to know of God’s love for him and the strength he will receive once he commits himself to recovery. I think he knows that he can trust me. I think he knows I will help him. I think he knows how much I love and care for him and that this does not change that.

So, I also have this other friend. I wrote about someone whose sex addict husband took his life a few weeks ago. I had the opportunity to bring her and her children dinner last night. Will drove with me but as we pulled up, I asked him to stay in the car. I had a feeling he would somehow trigger her. Will did not get his feelings hurt…he immediately understood. I entered her home and walked into the kitchen to put dinner down on her counter. I asked if there was anything she needed? She did what I have seen women do time and time again when they are in trauma. She smiled a fake smile, said no thank you and then burst into tears. I held her as she cried. I whispered to her and helped her breathe as she started to experience an anxiety attack. I pinned my name and cell phone onto her fridge in big letters. She will call me when she needs me. That is how we roll. This is what we do. This is how we survive and then thrive. With the help and understanding and kindness of one another.

My other friend doesn’t understand this yet. He doesn’t know that he is loved and understood and supported. He doesn’t know that there are men and women who have fought this fight, are still fighting this fight, and are winning. They are putting aside those things which once controlled them and are now in control of their own lives. Because they have let go and let God truly be in control. Because they have realized, He always was. But I think this friend will know this. I hope so much for him that he will. He is a good, decent man who loves his wife and loves God. He wants to be free. I believe he will be.

I wanted to write about friends because here is what I am finding in ¬†my life. I never wanted to know about sex addiction. I never wanted any betrayal trauma terms like gaslighting, and PTSD, and triggers, and … oh, too many to name, to be in my life let alone experience them all. But I have, and I do, and I will. But I also have hope, and recovery, and a strength I never knew, and a brightness of spirit that I thought I had lost. And I am finding myself, more and more, put into places and situations where I have been able to be of use to someone who is struggling because of this addiction. And they are friends, and become like family. And every time I reach out to help, I am lifted up. I am strengthened yet more. I have a brighter hope and spirit and my own recovery is renewed.

My heart is full and my cup runneth over in gratitude for the life I now live. It is not perfect. But it is so much better than it could have been. And will be even better than it is now. Because I am not striving for perfection, but for progress. And that is happening in leaps and bounds.

 

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. ‚̧

New Starts

 

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Wow….I can’t believe that today is the first of February. February! I flew through January seemingly without noticing. It has been a whirlwind of a month to say the least. We moved into our new home and while that has been largely a positive thing, an unexpected mix of emotions has assailed me. As we had a new sofa delivered, I found myself praying that Will would never defile it by screwing some slut on it like he did our old one. As I unpacked boxes, some of our old photos triggered memories of times when I thought we had a good marriage…only now I know those were times when Will was living a secret life. Ironically, we bought a new bedroom set¬†which is solid and beautiful. However, the wrong size bed frame was delivered. So, although it was ordered three months before we moved in, we are now sleeping downstairs in our new guest room while we await the new bed. Maybe this is God’s gentle reminder that the marital¬† bed is sacred and should not be considered “just another piece of furniture.” So hopefully, next week, we will finally be fully moved in. And maybe, just maybe, I will feel settled. Because I feel very unsettled right now.

I have pondered this feeling and tried to pinpoint why, exactly, I should feel this way and am struggling to understand. Will and I are still progressing in our therapy together and we are still going to our respective individual meetings. We are communicating more and better than ever. Yet….I feel a distance. I truly believe it is not Will. It is something within me. I am missing something and I can’t seem to put my finger on it. It is disconcerting and confusing and part of me wants to push it aside, like in the old days, and just chalk it up to silly wandering of my mind. But I don’t do that anymore. I refuse to do that anymore as that is a practice which too easily becomes a habit, which too easily becomes a devastating path to pain. So, I will continue to ponder and pray and try to figure these confusing thoughts and feelings out, maybe with the help of our therapist, and will continue to try to settle into this new start. This does beg the question though: Is this what we do? Continually start and re-start? Is this how we grow and learn in life? ¬†Maybe this is yet another layer of progress, another level of healing and I am just stumbling a little. I will let you know….as soon as I figure it out. ūüėČ

 

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.

‚ÄúImagine 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.‚ÄĚ

~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.