Thirty-Nine YEARS

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June 30th was our anniversary. Our 39th anniversary. It’s a long time to be married. It’s an even longer time to be married to a sex addict. 😏

When we were married in 1979 (yikes!), the world was a different place. Men were different and women were different. All I wanted was to be married to someone who loved me like crazy and would be my friend, my lover, my protector and the father of my children. I was committed and meant every word of our wedding vows…to love, honor and cherish. Thru thick and thin, in sickness and in health. I MEANT those words. I think those words were completely foreign to Will. He did not comprehend, let alone mean any of them. And, let’s face it, he’s not a quick study.

Many, many times in the past 39 years, we have come close to calling it quits. When he cheated, when he lied, when he ruined us financially (over and over), when he was demoted in the military (twice), when they courts martialled him, when he confessed “everything” in 1996 and pretended to turn over a new leaf…and then of course, D-day. Never in that time, was I truly happy. Never in that time did I feel loved and protected. As puzzled by the words love, honor and cherish Will was, I was equally puzzled as to why my marriage was always so difficult and why was there something missing? I did not know what it meant to be loved, honored or cherished. I thought what we had, was as good as I deserved. Will often told me, in so many ways, that I was not good enough, I was difficult, I was the cause of everything that HE had done. And I believed it. Only really special women were loved and cherished…and I was not special. When D-day and the aftermath of slow mini disclosures came about, I had complete confirmation that I was not special…not to Will, not to my girls, not to my mother or sister. I had always felt alone…after D-day, I realized I had always been alone. It was the hardest time of my life. And I tried to end it. I thank God that I failed. That was three years ago when we had been “married” for a mere 36 years. Times have changed.

Looking back, I can’t honestly say why we are still together. We don’t have an epic, overwhelming love story. We aren’t the beautiful, wealthy, accomplished people who seem to have it all together. Currently, we don’t have the passion for one another that we hope to have when we get to that point in our recovery. But, I think there is much to be said for commitment. But, like I said, 39 years ago, men and women were different. When you married, you stayed married.  Even through all of Will’s infidelities, when his addiction was at its peak times, the thought of divorce never crossed his mind. When we married, I committed to Will…heart and soul. I took our vows seriously and I lived them. Will took what he understood, seriously…it’s just that he never understood them. He just knew that somewhere within him, he didn’t want to be without me. It has taken him 39 long years to start figuring it all out. But, we both look back now, and understand commitment differently. We treasure our history, our shared memories, our family, our experiences, our laughter and our sorrows. I think this is all why we are still together and willing to keep working for our marriage.

Today I can say that I am not alone. I do still get lonely and I am working on that. I am no longer puzzled by the past because I have my eyes wide open now and the confusing signals I got then, make sense knowing what I now know. I have discovered that Will is not the key to me feeling special or “enough.” I now know that his addictions were born largely out of his own feelings that he was not special or enough. I am still learning what it is to feel loved. Will is still learning how to love. We still have much to learn…but the difference now is that we are learning together. Finally, after nearly four decades, we are on the same path. We are living our lives differently now and it feels so much better and healthier. We see little changes in one another that are making big differences. Life is good. I am blessed and grateful.

Leigh ❤️

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The Pergola Project

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Summer! Finally! I love this time of year when the warmth of the sun seeps deep into my bones and the pace of life seems to slow down. I am an outdoor kind of girl and love to putter around the yard, so it was no surprise to Will that I wanted to put up a pergola over our patio this year. After getting quotes and searching online for a ready-made pergola, we came to the conclusion that the only way to get exactly what we wanted, was to build it ourselves. This alone was slightly triggering. Let me explain.

In the past, Will would begin to argue, complain, attack, withdraw etc, the minute a project was proposed. What I know now, that I didn’t know then, was that he resented spending time on projects which he felt could be better spent practicing his addictive behaviors. All I saw was him telling me how my idea was stupid, that we couldn’t manage it, that it was too expensive, that it would take too much time…blah, blah, blah. He was completely unwilling to work with me and intentionally put up obstacles and resistance to thwart my plans. This made for a hellish experience when renovating our first home from pillar to post. Much of the work on that house was done by me…and my kids when I could recruit them.

So, when it became clear that building a pergola together was the best option for our plans and our bank account, I immediately bounced back to days when Will would disappear to make a Home Depot run…and didn’t come back for a couple of hours.  I thought of the many, many times when he promised to take care of some aspect of a project I couldn’t do on my own…and he never followed through. I remembered how he told me the kitchen renovation was not gonna happen unless I could do it on my own with a $500.00 budget. (I did and came in under budget at $380.00!) I know now that as we were building storage in our garage, Will was coordinating with the Skank for her trip to MY home, to sleep in MY bed and have sex with MY husband.  So…yeah, a building project with Will was an event that I both dreaded and needed to confront.

After receiving the lumber and spending a week staining and setting the footings for the posts, Saturday morning was the day. We started out okay…and then things quickly went downhill. See, Will is inflexible. He gets an agenda or method in his mind and if something doesn’t go as planned, he loses it. This is something he has been working n, but has much more work to do. So, he had in his mind a certain way to begin the pergola, and without going into the weeds here, it wasn’t a viable plan. I suggested we do it a different way and “Old Will” quickly emerged. He discounted what I was saying, began to be short and abrupt, interrupted me or spoke over me. It was not going well. But then…something amazing happened. He was on the ladder, I was on the patio holding the drill and lag bolts. He was on his way up the ladder and our spat had grown into an argument. We were sniping at each other and it was painful and ugly. He stopped going up the ladder and came down to where I was. He looked at me and said, “This is not us anymore. Let’s start over.” And we did. We spoke to one another instead of at each other. We calmly discussed our views about the best way to accomplish our goal. We apologized to one another and hugged.

Now, for some people, this is their normal. For Will and I, this was nothing short of miraculous. We worked together the entire day. From 8:30 am to our finished project at 9:30 pm. We have never, ever finished a project, even a much simpler, smaller one, in a single day. Ever. This was such a valuable lesson for us both. I learned that Will is truly changing and is trying to be present. Will learned that projects get done when he is here and present.

And we have a beautiful new 16’ x 18’ pergola that we have been enjoying every day.

Progress, people. Progress.

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Three

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Today is my D-day anniversary. Three years. Three years ago, May 17th was a Sunday. Will and I had gone to church, come home and had Sunday dinner and then our son and his wife called us as they usually did on Sunday afternoon. Will and I had returned a few days earlier from a trip to Florida. A work trip for him. Time to relax in the sun for me. Time “together” in the evenings for us as a couple. Only….it didn’t really work out like that. For some reason, Will had meetings late in the afternoon and early evening. I spent each night on my own (table for one please) and he was wrapped up in “work stuff” on his phone and IPad.

Well, that Sunday evening, after returning home, it all became clear. Those distant too-busy-with-work-to-spend-time-with-the-wife moments were spent with “The Ho’” planning their next encounter when he would travel to her state ostensibly to work, but actually to have sex. Disgusting, can’t-vocalize-the-words kind of sex. That trip never happened because that narcissistic Ho couldn’t resist sending selfies of herself to Will’s phone…while it was on speaker…while having our Sunday evening convo with our son and daughter in law and grandson. He was busted and my heart was broken out that day.

So, yes. It has been three years since that day. Guess where we are. Florida. Same business conference. Same state. Same time of year. But…different. I am OK. Will is OK. He went to a golf meeting today with a client and unlike last year, I stayed at the resort. I spent time with myself. I read, I watched T.V., I took myself out to dinner and had alone time. I was alone like that trip three years ago, but I wasn’t lonely. We have come a long way. He checked in throughout the day…not to be accountable, but to connect. To say he loved me. To tell me how his golf game went. To tell me what he was having for dinner. It was nice. It was comfortable. It was healthy.

So, yeah….three years. Time has not flown by. It has been rough. It has been painful and we still have our moments. But it is better. Better than deceit. Better than loneliness. Better than neglect. Better than the insanity of addiction.

Just…Better.

Leigh ❤️

Two

 

IMG_0492Two years. TWO YEARS. That is how long it’s been since I trusted Will. That’s how long it’s been since I felt secure. That’s how long it’s been since I felt innocent and clean. Two years ago, on May 17, 2015, I saw Will’s phone with a texted picture of Danielle posing for him in the Victoria Secret lingerie he bought her. I saw Will looking at me with a terrified face and saying, “It’s only texting! Nothing more!” Still trying to deny it as I read about how he liked the way her ass felt in his hands. . .

We met today with our counselor and discussed why I have been on edge this past week since returning home from a visit with my son and his family. Well, it turns out that there are a lot of triggers this time of year that I have been stuffing down and they all came up today, my 2 year mark from D-day. We leave for Florida in a week. Two years ago, in Florida, Will was distant, even mean, and unable to perform sexually. I asked him what was wrong…was it me? Was there someone else? He gaslighted me to the point that I apologized and cried. How DARE I even ask him that after he brought me to Florida?!

Last night we went to my grandsons sixth birthday party. Two years ago, we had his fourth birthday party at a pizza place. Will was distant, and disconnected from me and the grandkids. He kept disappearing. . .to the restroom, to go get more napkins, to find a waiter for more sodas. And he would be gone for quite a while.

He was on his phone. With Danielle. Like he was in Florida. Talking. And texting. And sexting. About what they did and what they were going to do next time they were together.

So, this has been in my vault. Locked away behind my every day stuff. Behind the mom and grandma stuff that I have been handling. Behind the new home and the fledgling renewed marriage stuff. Behind the trying to find my way in a different place and different type of life stuff. Buried far beneath the happy face and “I’m OKs” and the caretaker and nestbuilder and fun grandma, caring mom, content wife facade that covers so much, and that I thought I had given up for my newer, bolder, more genuine ME.

So, I begin, again, to re-emerge from the darker recesses of myself which I allow the people I love to place me. They don’t do it purposely. They are used to a certain me. One they love, but maybe more important, one they really like.  I am not always that likeable me anymore…because that takes so much effort. Effort that I don’t always have. I allowed it today as my oldest daughter called to unload about the difficulties she was having with my oldest granddaughter. I listened, I offered my shoulder to cry on, I offered the advice she was seeking. Then I got off the phone and fell apart. Because it was too much. Too much for today. Too much other ugly, sad, hurt on a day when ugly, sad and hurt were already overwhelming me. It was hurtful that no one knew that today was d-day for me, except Will. And he tried. And, I guess, looking back, that is saying quite a lot. He tried, he IS trying. WE are trying.

I will be glad when I wake up tomorrow and it won’t be today anymore.

 

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.

 

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. 😉

 

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.