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.

 

Where Is The Love?

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Remember that song? From Robert Flack in the 70’s? Yeah, so I heard it the other day and for the first time I realized it was an OW song. . .

Where is the love

(Where is the love)
Where is the love
(Where is the love)
Where is the love
(Where is the love)
Where is the love

Where is the love
You said you’d give to me
Soon as you were free
Will it ever be
Where is the love

You told me that you didn’t love her
And you were gonna say goodbye
But if you really didn’t mean it
Why did you have to lie

Where is the love
You said was mine all mine
Till the end of time
Was it just a lie
Where is the love

If you had had a sudden change of heart
I wish that you would tell me so
Don’t leave me hangin on the promises
You’ve got to let me know

Oh, how I wish I never met you
I guess it must have been my fate
To fall in love with someone else’s love
All I can do is wait
(That’s all I can do)
Yeah, hey, yeah

Ugh! I used to like that song! But it made me start thinking about Will and the love he’s always said was reserved for me. He has been consistent in his claim that he never felt anything,ever, for any of his APs. To him, they were a means to an end, only cheaper than prostitutes and massage parlors. And, (his words) a LOT more work. So, I guess my question then is, “where is the love?” I mean, I know that Will is an intimacy anorexic and that it is a process, but at some point, isn’t there a breakthrough? A pivot point? An epiphany? I find that I catch myself at odd times just waiting. Waiting for some kind of grand gesture. Some big “sign” or clue that he is all of a sudden madly, deeply, stupidly in love with me. At other times, I just want him to open up and need me. And only me. Not in a sexual way. . .we are nowhere near that type of intimacy yet. . .just as ME! The one person who supposedly now knows all of his secrets and thoughts and feelings. The one person he is the closest to in the world. The one person he can confide in and trust. But. . .I still feel his distance. I still feel his isolation. I still feel his withdrawal. And I worry. I wonder. I imagine.

And then I surrender.

I know that I cannot manage Wills recovery, nor do I wish to take that on. . .I have enough to juggle managing my own. . .but I often wish he would share more about where he is with me. I realize this is a far cry from a year ago when all I wanted was for him to shut up already about “recovery this” or “healthy that” but, I, and we, were in a different place then.  Again, my impatience rears its ugly head and I know that time will tell a different story. . .but I crave love, and affection, and closeness, and connection. . .with Will. And I know that it cannot come thru physical intimacy yet. He is not ready and I know that I am not, so how do we get there?

I continue to work hard and do the things I know are healthy for me. I know that Will is working hard and I DO see such great change in him. . .yet. . . I am still left asking that question:

Where is the love?

 

 

The Trouble With Triggers

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Triggers are a funny thing. After awhile, one might think they know what their triggers are…and may even be fairly sure what the resulting reaction to it might be. Someone that has been handling triggers that seem to be everywhere for awhile, may even assume that new triggers are not likely to be earth-shattering or devastating or necessarily even surprising.

One would be wrong in that assumption.

The trouble with triggers is this:

  • They are sneaky and can pop up unannounced, anytime and anywhere
  • They are inconsistent and unreliable. What was a trigger one day may cease to be a trigger, but, based on new information, something else may take its place.
  • They vary in their intensity depending on a multitude of factors; mood, hormones, present company, the weather, the time of day. . .
  • They are completely out of our control

I found a couple of definitions for “trigger” rather appropriate as it applies to my current circumstance.

1. Anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.

      2. To fire or explode (a gun, missile, etc.) by pulling a trigger or releasing a triggering device.

Maybe it’s just my trauma brain, but I find that number 2 is generally the reaction or series of reactions described in number 1. That is to say, when I am triggered by “an act or event” the reaction it initiates is to “explode”. That is what happened with Will’s latest leak of information in our therapists office. I did not see it coming.

And I erupted.

Not physically. I didn’t scream at him. I didn’t hit him. I did resort to some snarkiness (grrr…I had really been doing so much better), and a few choice words escaped that I honestly tried to bite back. No, this time, the actual explosion was in my head. I went all the way back to step one in the grieving process…denial..then anger, rage, really…then bargaining….well, you know. There was an absolute violent avalanche of angry, hateful thoughts and feeling towards Will, his skanky OWs, the massage parlors here in town…towards every degenerate, perverted, sex selling advertiser or magazine or media producer…you name it and I was pissed at them. Then I settled in and sat with my main feeling which was disgust. I was so disgusted (all over again) that I could not be near Will. I asked him to leave for a couple of days to let me process. He did. I found out he slept in his truck. He also jumped right over that requested boundary and was right back the next morning. Ummmm. . . Really?!

I initiated a 24 hour NO contact. He went to work. He slept in his truck again. He left me alone to process. He called his sponsor and group members and worked on himself.

So, here are my takeaways from this last incident as I sit in the dark tonight, blogging as Will snoozes peacefully next to me.

In the past, I would have raged, thrown stuff, degraded Will, gotten drunk, cried my face off, ruminated for days, worked myself into a full-blown PTSD episode, maybe lost time or dissociated and run away.

I didn’t do that this time. I was angry and upset, yes. But I looked down and noticed that I was wearing my big girl panties. I didn’t run away but I needed space. I showed Will that I was not the one causing the hurt…therefore, I stayed warm and comfortable and let him fend for himself. When Will refused to take my hurt seriously and crossed the boundary, I was firm in my resolve and my need for time. I stuck to my no contact until I was comfortable with my emotions.  Tonight as we went to bed, I told him open and honestly that I preferred he allow me space as I am still uncomfortable with his touch. He nodded, and said he understood, that he loved me and goodnight.

I am not so naive to think that I will always be wise-minded when new information pops up and I am triggered. I won’t. But, for now, for this time, I am accepting myself and my reaction for what it is. I am a woman surviving through betrayal trauma and I am doing the best I can with what I have. I am taking the moments, the setbacks, and the sweet victories over this devastating shitstorm as they come. As I tell my therapist, every time I am triggered and Will lives through it? Well. . .That counts as a win.

 

 

 

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.

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.

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. 😊😄😊