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. 😫

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.

 

Musings from the Trailer Park

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Life in a travel trailer….in a Colorado winter….in freezing temperatures, is….interesting. We have been without heat a couple of times due to running out of propane once and a bad regulator on another occasion. But, we have electric blankets and hot cocoa. We have had frozen pipes so no water a couple of times but we have a space heater which thaws things out fairly quickly and a daughter who lives only a couple of miles away in a true “I gotta shower right now!” emergency.  All in all, though, it isn’t fun. Not like camping in a travel trailer in the mountains or on the beach is fun. It’s not even fun like staying at a KOA because you are heading to somewhere fun. No. It’s just not fun. At all.

You know what is also not fun? It’s not fun to want to have a few minutes (or a few hours) to yourself to take a leisurely bubble bath and process something your sex addict husband has done…only you can’t. Because, well, you don’t have any privacy in a 30 foot trailer, or any bubble bath…or a tub. So, that’s not fun either. The closeness is really, really close. All. The. Time. There is no bedroom door to close to isolate for awhile. In fact, there isn’t really any door. There is a privacy curtain…but it’s just not the same. I know that recovery, for both of us, is all about finding the closeness and emotional intimacy that he has been incapable of for so long, and I completely get that. But, may I just point out, that there is such a thing as overdoing it?!  When winter weather set in, our outdoor space was no longer available so our actual living space is literally 30 feet by 8 feet. Which we share with our 70 pound Collie. And in that space there is a sofa, a dining table and a queen size bed. And a kitchen and a bathroom. So….small. Puny. Tiny.

In case you haven’t guessed, I am completely over this trailer park life and am counting the days now until we can move into our new home (23!!). But I will say this: throughout all of this ridiculous adversity, I have grown into someone I respect. I did not have a meltdown when we had no water. I did not rage when the heat went out (although, I may have made a crack about it being a cold, cruel world 😜), and Will has not become the victim of a murderous insane spouse, pushed beyond all limits….so that’s a win. I have been able to maintain my sanity and dignity (except for the pooper scooper incident which I will not go into here).  And even more satisfying for me is that I feel like this was a major hurdle or challenge that we have conquered. Living in a confining space for an extended time, over 6 months for us, is difficult for anyone. For a couple who is trying to recover from addiction and trauma..well, most folks would say that it was a death wish. But, we are doing it..have nearly done it…and not only survived, but grown in our recovery and in our marriage. We are going to be okay I think.

And, for the record, I don’t ever want to go camping again. Like, ever.

 

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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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.

 

Higher Education…

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Day 12

Live to Learn

I have a love of learning. I am always interested in how, or why. I love to read and travel, to see new places and try new things. I love, love, love to have good solid conversations with people from whom I can learn and grow. Wise people are fascinating to me and I am always striving for more knowledge.

Now, I will tell you that in the case of Will’s addictions, this has been a bit problematic. There is no rule book, no betrayed wife manual, no one size fits all for how much knowledge is too much knowledge. The amount of info about this whore or that skank which is enough for one betrayed,  is likely too much or not enough for another. For me, since I always want to know as much about something new in my life as possible, I have had to determine where the top of my bucket is. It is sometimes a fine line for me to know when the “ugly Will with the skanky whores” bucket has been filled.  It’s a work in progress. 🙄

Anyway, back to my initial point which is the thirst for knowledge. As I learned more and more about sex addictions, childhood abuse, betrayal trauma and  complex PTSD, the less daunting and scary it all became. Such is the case with most things in life. The not knowing of something is what is frightening, painful or emotionally devastating. Thus, my continual quest for more…more information…not necessarily about the shitstorm brought into my life by Will, but more now just my regular search for  knowing. Again,  I have to say that I love to learn. Unlike a lot of kids, I always loved school. I have several professional designations and a degree because I always felt a need to keep on top of my game. Now, I am more interested in just learning about, well, whatever interests me. This brings me to this coming week and my break from my attempt to blog everyday about what is happy for me. Learning is a happy thing for me. I get excited to learn something new, to try out a new concept or think of something in a different light. Thus, I am spending this coming week at a University that offers “Adult Education Week.” This is an opportunity to go to as many offered classes on as many subjects as one chooses for five days. Classes are taught so by professors, authors, experts in a variety of fields of study. I went last year, even in the midst of my trauma, and although several of the courses were triggering (some on sex addiction, marital fidelity, pornography etc.) I still garnered so much insight and felt I gained some valuable perspectives. I am so looking forward to this coming week and am poring over the course offerings trying to determine which classes I will attend. I will not be blogging this coming week and will return home and back to my happy commitment next Monday the 22nd. Until then, think happy! I am certainly in my happy place. 😊😄😊