A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To Recovery. . .

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A couple of weeks ago, on my way to my twice monthly appointment with Ron the Therapist, I stopped to get gas. I had been shopping on the East side of town and stopped at a place I have never been. I had plenty of time before I had to meet Will at the therapist’s office so planned on running my car through the car wash after filling up.  My car never got that wash. As I was only a couple of gallons in, I heard a voice, with a little chuckle in it, calling my name. I turned and there he was. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in many, many, many months. Not gonna lie…I HAD thought of him. He was the first man with whom I realized sex was more than just something to be endured because the man enjoyed it. He was THAT guy. The man with whom I had had my PTSD fog-filled affair.  Then why, oh why, did seeing him there, unexpected, make my heart flip-flop and my knees turn to jelly? All of the sudden, things occurred in the ‘ole nether regions, that had long been asleep. Against all recovery advice, I did not politely extricate myself from his presence and leave. I couldn’t. I. Physically. Could. Not. We talked. We both kept smiling. He asked if we could pull over and get coffee. My brain said NO! OF COURSE NOT! But I heard my voice say, “sure.” Now, before anyone out there thinks I completely lost my mind…NO! Absolutely nothing happened. Zero. We talked. He bought me a soda. We caught up. He kept saying how great I looked. And kept asking if I was happy. I kept thanking him and assuring him I was working hard. He left for work (night shifts), I headed to my marriage counseling appointment.

So, here is my problem. I have kept this whole thing to myself. Not a word to Ron the Therapist. And worse-not a word to Will. And I have no idea why!  It isn’t that I feel guilt. For whatever reason I don’t. Nothing happened and after all is said and done, I know that I will always care for this man. Love? No. Affection? Absolutely. Why, you ask? Simply because he was kind, compassionate, sensual, thoughtful and loving when I was at my most needy and vulnerable. And, because despite everything, he gave me something I have never had before. Fulfillment. That is not easily forgotten.

I am struggling with this because I feel that I need to be honest with Will and with Ron the Therapist, but there is a perverse need in me to keep this to myself. It’s almost as if I am savoring it and holding it close.  I don’t know what to do with this. I don’t want to share it, or give it away, or make it an issue. I want to be selfish and keep it for myself. In just seeing and talking to him, I felt beautiful and sexy and desired and funny, and smart and loved. Why doesn’t Will make me feel that?  What is wrong with me?

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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.

 

All In The Family

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I haven’t blogged in awhile. Not because everything is great, not because everything is terrible. But just because of everything. The everydayness, the everythoughtness, the everymemoryness, the every-everythingness of what is my life now. Now that I know. Now that my children, my oldest grandchildren, some other family members and close friends, all know.  I am in a sort of a limbo state wondering what is next.

In the meantime, it has become glaringly apparent that Will’s addictions and past behaviors have had deep and profound repercussions within our family. The thing with addiction and recovery is that it is never, ever just about one person or one behavior or even one addiction really. There are so many minute little pieces that fit, sometimes grudgingly, into the puzzle of one’s dysfunctional life. What happened to someone, or to someone they love, or perhaps something they witnessed, or a multitude of other scenarios can cause trauma. Trauma that is not dealt with is so often stuffed down, or medicated, or manifested thru more dysfunctional behavior–like addiction. Causing more trauma. It is a difficult and sometimes a lifelong project to break the cycle.

My oldest daughter had a very, VERY, drama-filled adolescence. Much of it of her own making, but some of which, looking back, was spurred on by her wanting the attention of a distant sex obsessed narcissistic father and an insecure preoccupied fearful mother. Both of whom drank to excess, Will as an alcoholic and me as an enabler, and had NO idea how to deal with a strong-willed, smart, independent teenager. After “Ann’s” many rebellions thru running away, drug use, boys, and utter hatred spewed toward both Will and I, she managed to graduate from High School and land a full ride scholarship to the State University. A full 3 hour drive from home, I admit, it was somewhat of a relief to have her out of the house and away from influencing our younger two kids. Will and I quit drinking ( I did, he said he did and lied…shocker), He confessed his “minor” and infrequent infidelities (not all of them it turned out…shocker) and recommitted to our marriage during this time. We moved again and tried to look forward and start fresh.

Ann lasted one year at school. She announced she was bringing someone home to meet us. She showed up with a tall, skinny, kinda goofy-looking guy with big ears. She had been dating him for a little over a month, I think, at the time. And she was pregnant. She was 19. She moved in with Mickey (the ears, sorry 😏) and he got a job as a waiter in their college town. Our first grand baby was born and it was love at first site. As time passed, we learned that Mickey was an alcoholic and drug addict…and he was abusive. We drove the now six hours more than once to save Ann and the baby and bring them home to safety while Mickey sobered up. Ann continued to play this game…for eight long years. When we discovered that Ann, too, was an active drug abuser and suicidal, we sued for custody of our then eight year old granddaughter and her little one year old brother. I remember arguing with Will, only convincing him to take the kids because if not for us, they would have gone into foster care. No grandchild of Will’s was going to be a ward of the state! After two years of rehab and then, blessedly, a divorce from now incarcerated felon Mickey, Ann began to make a new life for her and our two sweet grandchildren. She then married a great guy who adopted these kids and loves them so very much. They together have a third. Ann is now a licensed therapist. And an alcoholic. In perpetual relapse. And continually trying to deal with her now difficult teenage daughter. Who has come home drunk, has run away, has boy issues. . .and is currently, for the last week, in a behavior mental health facility for an attempted suicide after being beaten up by her current boyfriend. The same one I was in. She is 17.

Her confidante and the person she feels comfortable talking to the most? Will. She knows some of what his addictions were and what he has done. She also knows and has seen how he has changed over the last almost 2 years (D-day is May 17, 2015).  Ann’s go-to person in crisis? Me. She does not comprehend how I was able to cope with all the crapweasle things she did as a teenager. She is having such a difficult time trying to cope with the same crapweasle behavior from her teenager now. And she is desperately trying to stay sober while doing so. All I can tell her is to rely on God and surrender it. There is no magic pass. There is no passing go and collecting money. These is no going around or over or under…only going through.

I have two other grown children. They have no addictions. . .that I know of. I have eight other grandchildren. I pray hard for all of them that thy NEVER have to experience this brutal, unrelenting trial of addiction and abuse. I want the cycle to end. I hate that addiction is such a prevalent problem and that it festers and grows in silence and fear. I hate that families, everywhere, everyday, are torn apart by its effects and fallout. I hate that my family has been so devasted by it…because of Will…and his parents. And who knows beyond that. All I know is that it needs to stop. All of it. For our own health, for the good of marriages and relationships and families everywhere.

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.

 

Sex Addiction Kills

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A friend from my recovery group I attend sent a group text to us all this morning. It stopped me in my tracks and an old, bitter, stomach churning, feeling washed over me. She was informing us that another woman in our group just told her that her sex addict husband, who was struggling so hard to stay sober, could not handle the pain and failure any longer and took his own life. They had two small children.

I had to sit down and fight tears as I read the words and fight back the emotion, not because I knew this man and I am not close at all to this woman who attended so infrequently. It was the enormity of the problem. The Addiction. The destruction and devastation it brings to lives…the addicts, their spouses, their families, their friends. It is an evil, disgusting life sucking addiction that destroys one not only physically, but because of its nature, disintegrates the very soul of its victim. Tearing down every last feeling of self-worth,  any hope of redemption, any grasp of living without shame or embarrassment. Addicts truly believe at some point that they are probably better off dead and most wish that God would just take them to stop the pain. This man did not wait for God. He stopped his pain himself. He could not stop the pain of his constant guilt or the pain of hurting his sweet wife any more. He couldn’t stop anything except his own heart beating.

I thought back to my first few weeks, even months after D-Day and my horrific dreams/nightmares wherein Will would die or be violently killed. Sometimes it would be at my own hand in a hate-filled rage and I would awaken struggling to breathe with a severe anxiety attack. Indeed, there were times, when I was in the midst of my deepest trauma and hate, that I truly wished he was dead. And then, of course, as most of you know, I truly wished that I was. That is what this addiction does. It is unlike every other addiction in that respect. In a relationship, this addiction changes both people…whether they know it or not…and eventually, they both will know because they are always found out. But one’s brain is either altered by the addiction and the lying and the porn and the secrecy, or one’s brain is altered by being lied to, and gaslighted, and ignored, and withdrawn from, or neglected. And at some point, for either one, it can seem too big, too ugly, too terrible, too powerful a hold on us to escape from. It can seem bigger than even God.

That is how this man felt. And now his sweet wife and their two children do not have him in their lives anymore. There will never be a chance to watch him become a new man. A strong, confident, connected husband and father. A man truly and deeply committed in word and deed to his family and filled with a depth of love for them that he was never able to show before. And that is the biggest tragedy. The biggest loss.

The loss of what could have been, what should have been and what likely would have been. Recovery is hard, grueling, painful work. Marriage through recovery is sometimes ugly and very messy. But truly recovering addicts are human miracles and amazing testimonies of God’s grace and love. And marriages, recovering thru the hell of this addiction, are even greater miracles of Christ’s Atonement and His sacrifice for us.

My heart is breaking for anyone in that darkest of places because of addiction, the fallout of someone’s addiction, or for any reason. I pray for those souls whomever and wherever they may be. I ask that as you read this, you pray for them too. God blesses those who need Him the most. ❤

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.

 

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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