Thirty-Nine YEARS

1BFFC9A5-5E60-4D4E-AA14-BA299F518648

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

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

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

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

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

Leigh ❤️

Advertisements

Still Here. Still Trying.

F18B384F-3F1F-4E50-8719-C6FC3BD96230

The saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun” is not what comes to mind when describing my little six months + hiatus from blogging. It has been a rough half-year.

Nothing catastrophic or life changing. Just. . .life. Will and I have had the least healthy period in our lives. From flu, to bronchitis, to pneumonia to surgeries and infections…well…we are both currently healthy and looking forward to a warm active summer. But, I gotta say, it’s been a long, cold winter of discontent.

We had an odd Thanksgiving. No family this year…just the two of us. I had a minor surgery on my wrist in early November which got infected, then became critical requiring a second procedure and a pic line of antibiotics. It put a damper on the day for sure. This was the beginning of our (insert ominous music here) season of sickness. We had a quick trip to see daughter number 2 and her family, then had a lovely time decorating this new home for Christmas and enjoyed shopping for family. We had a peace and contentment with the season until about a week before Christmas, we both came down with the flu. The I-wish-God-would-just-end-my-misery-with-merciful-death kind of flu. We struggled through Christmas Eve dinner and then a short visit to daughter 1 on Christmas Day. Then quarantined ourselves for the next week and a half. We delayed our annual New Year’s Day feast for a full week as we just couldn’t manage. A series of disturbing laboratory results for me was followed by the same wrist surgery for Will. By February, we were both suffering from medical fatigue. Too many trips to doctor appointments, hospital visits and consultations. In March, our beloved canine child began failing and we lost him to pneumonia among other old age maladies. Then, bronchitis and pneumonia laid us out for a couple of weeks. Thankfully, we have a different doctor than our dog and we were not put down. 😏 Anyway, we are both now feeling better and still working hard on our marriage and recovery.

All of this illness has been such a harsh reminder of our mortality and our very human frailty. In the midst of some of our worst days over the last few months, it was impossible not to think about the what if’s. What if one of us did not survive the flu from hell? What if that infection had paralyzed or disabled me? What if that pneumonia was so severe that Will could not be cured? And, what if I was alone throughout this season of sickness?

The words, “in sickness and in health,” keep coming into my mind. In our, now nearly 39 years, of marriage, we have had more sickness (emotionally, physically and psychologically) than health. And yet, here we are. Still working on full health. Still recovering. Still here…together. Still trying.

I am heartened by this wonderful quote from Jeffrey R. Holland-

“Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

There ARE good things to come.

Leigh ❤️

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

IMG_0505

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?

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

IMG_0485

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…

IMG_0469

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

img_0462

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. ❤