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.

 

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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! 🎄

 

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.

What’s Important

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

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

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

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. 😊😄😊

I Scream, You Scream…

 

Day 10

Ice Cream L❤️VE

Our family has a serious commitment to ice cream. All of us. From Will down to our youngest granddaughter. I am not sure if that is a nature or nurture thing, but the family trait…habit…addiction…obsession…whatever you want to call it, is strong and unwavering. I do not know of a time, ever, when anyone has declined an invitation to go out for an ice cream, share a dish (or a carton!😳), or hang out and make home-made to enjoy. When Will and I went to Italy several years ago, we made it a priority to find THE best gelato (San Gimignano), and we faithfully track down the best ice cream shop where ever we travel.  We know the opening date of our favorite soft serve place in town for the summer and try to be there on the first day…and we are sad when they close (Aug. 29 this year) for the long winter.

So, one of Will’s quirks in his addiction, was to go to a massage parlor at lunch time, swing by the ice cream drive thru for a cone and get back to work. Aarrgghhh!  How could he?!?! Nothing is sacred! I was so angry at the thought that his stupid selfishness had ruined even ice cream for me. But, oh, the ice cream demons within are strong. It took a little time but…the trigger of soft serve has been overcome! Will told me a couple of weeks ago that he doesn’t go get a cone at all during the day. For him this is a big deal. Even in recovery, he would still go get a cone a couple of times a week. But now, he says, he loves ice cream and he loves me. What he really loves is getting ice cream with me. He says he has traded what he had (a lonely cone)for something better (sharing that time and treat with me) I like that a lot. I like that this is something Will has done for himself, but also for me. I like that ice cream is a happy thing from before, and continues to be a happy thing now. 🍦