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. 😉

 

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.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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