All in the Family

It’s a psychologically proven fact that addiction and other mental or emotional maladies run in families. Will is practical proof of that. His (biological) father is a sexist, manipulative, narcissist and exposed Will to his first pornographic experience. Will believes the man is a sex addict. His grandfather was an alcoholic and was known to “have women on the side.” Beyond that, older generations, is only speculative. However, moving to the generation with which we have graced the world, our son had problems with porn (which Will blamed his own relapse on…🙄), we have one daughter who deals with food addiction, and our oldest, which is the point of this post, is an alcoholic. So, yeah, we are that dysfunctional.

In the last two years or so, our oldest daughter has made several late night calls to us in tears because her second husband, (the first is a drug addict with whom none of us have contact) and our eldest grandchild were fighting and it was getting out of control. These things usually ended a couple of ways: we would drive 40 minutes to get either the grandchild, the husband or the two younger kids to get them out of the situation and then drive 40 minutes home and they would spend the night with us. Alcohol was ALWAYS involved. Or, we would be able to calm things down after a couple of hours on the phone to everyone involved and they would finally get tired and go to bed. The calls, the fighting, the out-of-controlness became too much. My granddaughter moved out, to places unknown, my oldest grandson (15 at the time) started smoking pot, the younger grandson started having major issues at school, and my daughters husband filed for divorce. After what seemed an eternity, we found the root cause was my daughters non-stop drinking. She is a therapist and specializes in children and play therapy. She got a second DUI, came close to losing her license to practice and became alienated from my oldest granddaughter even more. My granddaughter then got a DUI after totaling her car and has now had her license suspended.

Yeah. All of the sudden, after so much work and healing for Will and I, we were dealing with yet another onslaught of trauma, drama, and heartbreak. Not gonna lie. It was all so triggering for me.

So, that was several months ago and brings me to now. My daughter is divorced and not handling it well at all. She continues to drink, comes to family dinners drunk, denies it, gets angry and drives off with my two grandsons. We rarely see our granddaughter because she too, has substance abuse problems and cannot be bothered to seek help. My oldest grandson is drifting into pot land and doesn’t spend time at home or with us much. The little guy, who is only eight, spends time between his mom and dad and has behavioral and anger issues.

My daughter got obliterated a few weeks ago. She called and was going on and on, rambling and using every obscenity she could think of regarding a family website and someone with whom she perceived was rude. She could barely form a cogent thought. She then called this other family member and was verbally abusive. She then went to a neighbors home, had a few more drinks (from what we can tell) flirted with said neighbor, consented to kiss him and then was raped.

She called her sister at 5:00 am in tears and said she had reported it. She called me at 6:00 and said the same thing. She called her now ex-husband and he was less than sympathetic. This set her off and she sent scathing texts to all of us. She was clearly still drunk. She was profane and verbally abusive. Not one of us responded.

After a couple of days, she called me and her sister. Neither of us had the will or courage to pick up. She is now in victim mode. She texted us claiming that she would not entertain any shame or blame and that we had failed as women in not reaching out to her and supporting her. I replied to tell her that she needed serious help before she destroyed herself, her kids, and this whole family. She believes that me, Will, her sister and entire family are blaming her for getting raped. No. We are just wanting her to heal. We are desperate for her to get some control over her life. None of us has the heart to stage an intervention. I have learned how to let go of so much, but this…this is breaking me.

No News is….No News

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Wow…time flies. And life moves on. It’s been many, many months since I have felt like writing anything. And honestly, I am only writing now because, well, like everyone else, I’m stuck at home during this shutdown and I have plenty of time. The truth is, Will and I are in a good place and have been for some time. While I would never say “healed” or “recovered” I can say that we are finally healing and recovering and and that the ugly is in the past.
Don’t get me wrong here…just because it’s in the past, I have a very clear rear view mirror and sometimes looking back is still painful and still triggering. The key is to stop checking that mirror. And I am getting really good at that.

Presently, we are finding a different, but related, challenge. Our son-in-law has decided that he no longer wants to be married to my daughter…because he began having an affair and now thinks he’s in “love” with this much older woman who is rebounding from her recent divorce.
Why are men so consistently, predictably, stupid? How do they never, NEVER learn from the mistakes of others?? Why do they believe that they are different? This situation is different? That they are not being total asshats by cheating on their lawfully wedded spouse? Truth bomb here, boys…You are a selfish, low-life, deceitful, cheating, untrustworthy, bastard. You have hurt your wife, your kids, your parents, your in-laws who accepted you as family, your sisters and brothers-in-law, your nieces and nephews who loved you…all because you were too selfish to think of anyone else but your own perceived needs. While totally disregarding your vows, your responsibilities, your promises, your family…who has done nothing but love you and support you. Ughhhhh…stupid, selfish, cowards. I can’t deal with them.

And actually I guess that’s why I decided to write. When my grandchildren found out that their dad was cheating on my daughter and was leaving, they were angry with him. They yelled at him and are so mad they don’t want to talk to him for awhile. I still remember my grown children’s reaction when they found out that their dad had been serial cheating will multiple women for decades. They were not mad at him. They were mad at me. Will made himself look so pathetic, and was of course in denial, that he made everything look like my fault. They felt sorry for him. I was so very alone. 

Well, my daughter is not alone. She calls and updates me. She rants and screams and knows that I am her safe place to rage. And I listen. And I am calm. And supportive and understanding.
And then I get off the phone and I am a hyperventilating, sobbing , triggered mess.
I am still hurt and resentful that neither of my girls were there for me after d-day. It is still one of the most hurtful things I have ever experienced and added so much more trauma to my whole betrayal…so it will always be so incredibly painful. But, I would never do to any woman in agony what my daughters did to me. So, despite my own triggers and pain, I am here for her.
It is not good time, but amazingly, Will is incredibly supportive and cognizant of my needs. He gets it! He understands the triggers and has been compassionate and available.

So, for that I am incredibly grateful. I am also grateful that so far, we are all healthy and safe and doing the best we can under isolation from the virus. So really, as far as our recovery and our marriage is concerned…no real news. And that’s good.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Hugs your loved ones.
Oh, and wash your hands!

Leigh ❤️

 

 

 

Before and After

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Today is the last day of April. Which means that tomorrow begins the month of May. In seventeen days, it will be four years since d-day. How I wish I could erase that day from my memory! EMDR has not done it’s job where that memory lives in my brain. It is still as painful and vivid as it was when it happened. There are few things in my life that are sharp and clear as my memory of that day. Every word, every action, every feeling is embedded within me. The clarity with which discovery of Will’s profound betrayal provided me was no less than earth-shattering. I felt it in every. single. fiber. of my body. I still feel it as acutely now as I did then.

So, has anything changed? It has been nearly four years. Why does that day, that moment, those emotions still feel raw and fresh? Will I ever be able to erase them completely? No. Not ever.

The difference is that I can now experience them and absorb it all as part of me. That day changed me. It changed who I thought I was. It changed who I thought Will was. It changed everything. How I thought, how I felt, how I reacted to events, how I approached relationships, how I expressed myself, how I saw the world. Everything.

And sometimes, I miss the old me. That girl was perpetually optimistic (on the surface.) She felt loved by Will, her kids, her friends (at least, what she thought was love.) She was content with life, even though it was really hard at times (although she didn’t understand WHY things were SO hard.) She was fulfilled with a life of family and church and home (Will was not foremost because he was so distant…she accepted his excuses that he was busy with work and was grateful he worked so hard.) She was happy (but, given what she knew about happiness, this was SO misguided.)

I am clearly not that person anymore. I am optimistic still…but it is measured and not the blind unrealistic hope that I used to have. It is more rational and less…desperate. I am beginning to feel love again..from Will and my children and a few very carefully vetted friends. I have a few old friends that I know love me. They know about Will and love and support me the same as they always have. Contentment is nowhere to be seen at this point. I don’t know that I will find a level of contentment for a very long time. I am still less trusting of people in general and of Will in particular. I cannot be content without trust. That will take way more time than just four years. I am not completely fulfilled yet, but I am getting there. My family is still my everything even if they don’t love me as fully as they once did. That does not diminish my love for them. Will has become more present and more a part of my everyday so that has definitely been more fulfilling.

But, happy? That is a difficult one. The old me was not truly happy. I was happy with what I *thought* was my life. It was mostly a delusion. It was so full of gaslighting and lies that it was no life at all. At least, not a real life. Now, life is real and difficult and exciting and boring and joyful and frustrating and funny and absurd and maddening and fun! It’s become such a mix of experience and emotion that there is no one word that can describe it. It is still hard and sometimes overwhelmingly sad. There is still regret and anger and grief over the past. But there is also a lot of hope. And clarity of what truly is and is not “Life.”

I think that possibly the best way to describe myself before d-day was that I was existing. I was existing in a life that I had convinced myself was optimistic, content, happy. Now, even with all the trauma, the loss, the betrayals, the illness, the ups and downs…all of it…I feel like I am living. I am living my life with a full awareness of who I am, who I am becoming, and who I want to be. I am no longer who I was (or who I thought I was) and I am okay with that even if I miss that naive girl sometimes. I am much wiser and stronger now and able to withstand the things that come my way. I am clear-eyed and compassionate. I am tougher than I ever thought I could be and my heart is healing.

I am a walking, living, breathing  “before and after” ad for betrayed spouses. 😂

I can live with that.

Leigh ❤️

The Physical Legacy of Betrayal

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As I write this, I am sitting in bed past my bedtime because I cannot seem to sleep. I can’t sleep because I am in some pain. I am in some pain because I just had a major surgery. I just had a major surgery, because my emotional trauma literally “broke” my body’s ability to function normally.

I have learned more than I ever cared to in the last three years about CPTSD, fight or flight, Stockholm Syndrome, gaslighting, meditation, emotional support systems, etc…etc…etc… What took some deep diving and demand for answers was information about the physical aspects of severe betrayal trauma.

Like most partners of cheaters or SA’s, when I discovered Will’s secret life, I went into a sort of shock and could not make sense of my world any longer. I involuntarily lost over 50 lbs. in less than 3 weeks. My heart rate was erratic, I began having anxiety attacks, I would get lost in a fog and “lose time” for hours or even days. I had instances of waking blackouts where I would go places, do things, meet people…and have no recollection of whatsoever. Some of that time is still inextricably lost in my memories. I am hoping that’s a tender mercy. About a year after D-day, my physical symptoms began to dissipate little by little. I was able to gain a little weight back, the anxiety virtually stopped, my heart rate stabilized and the blackouts stopped. I was under medication that kept my HSV under control and my doctor was diligent in treating my HPV with constant screenings and biopsies.  But then, I realized, I was NOT “returning to normal” as I thought. New, more dangerous and insidious health issues began to arise. Which brings me to this point in my journey.

As I began to gain some weight back, I became increasing fatigued. I began having pain in my joints and in my back. The eczema that infrequently showed up on my palms, was becoming impossible to manage and I would often have multiple cracks all over my hands and fingers which would bleed and were so painful. I began a medication for that which controlled it somewhat, but did not stop it. I was given a bone scan and found to have osteoporosis and osteopenia. I was put on yet another medication for that. No matter what I did for that next year, I gained weight. My cholesterol shot up dangerously and I was put on a statin medication. My hair began to thin dramatically and my feet, ankles and hips began to hurt so badly that even walking was difficult. I had to begin yet another medication for high blood pressure and was living on Motrin to get through the pain of each day.

Tests were done. Then more testing. I had more blood drawn during this time than a Red Cross drive. And peeing in cups. And X-rays and CAT scans and stress tests. My thyroid was broken and they couldn’t fix it. My adrenal glands stopped functioning properly and they didn’t know why. The weight kept coming, the pain increased, my hormones got so out of whack that I will be working with an endocrinologist for a long time to come. I had a minor surgery on my wrist to remove a cyst and have my carpel tunnel released. Because of the breakdown of my body and a compromised immune system due to the STDs, of course my incision site got infected and then infected my blood. A second surgery, an implanted drain and a pic line for IV antibiotics followed. That was in December of last year. I had a whole medical team to include a gynecologist, dietician, nutritionist, wellness coach, bariatric specialist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, and trauma doctors working on my health issues.

After nearly 18 months of rapidly deteriorating health, with no solutions, it was discovered that severity of trauma I had gone through, had worn down then broken my body’s ability to physically regulate normal function. The most dangerous was my endocrine systems inability to produce necessary hormones to facilitate any type of regulated metabolism. The hormones in my gut had gone rogue and there is no medicine that can repair them. I became pre-diabetic, high risk for heart disease, stroke and heart attack. Even thyroid medication was too dangerous for me to take because the way my systems were reacting to “normal” remedies was erratic and unstable. I was nearly 100 lbs. overweight, couldn’t sleep, had shortness of breath and my quality of life was degraded.

The bariatric docs referred me to a surgeon. My team believed that a surgery like bariatric bypass would be the best option. The thinking was not that I had an eating problem (the closely monitored 650-700 calorie diet produced a 10 lb weight gain in 8 days) nor did I have an exercise problem. I walked everywhere, albeit painfully, and kept as active as I could. The problem, they believed, was one of irreversible shock to my physical body. How to fix it? Shock the body again…in reverse. Instead of traumatizing my endocrine system by tapping into the hormones that were broken beyond repair, they instead decided to eliminate the home of those by removing the part of my stomach which was feeding the out of control hormones into the rest of my body.

Thus, here I sit, late at night, one day released from the hospital and unable to sleep because I have staple stitches in my belly and an open wound. The surgery was laparoscopic and successful and after three days, I went home. After a day and a half at home, my wound became red and hot and I could not stand. Although they had done everything they could to compensate for my weak immune system, a large abscess had formed and I had to have a second procedure to drain it. Another few days of IV antibiotics and blessed, merciful pain meds, and I am again home.

I have great hope, because even with the pain and discomfort and annoying-ness of a clear liquid diet, I feel better. My joints don’t hurt when I stand up from sitting. My back is pain-free. My outlook is optimistic.

I should clarify something. I didn’t post this to whine or bemoan my circumstances. I posted this, really, for two reasons.

1) I know others have had the same trauma and may be experiencing some of the same physical difficulties. Sometimes we neglect to remember that our emotional, mental and physical health are enmeshed and intertwined. It sounds like a long road from betrayal trauma to major surgery, but it is not. I assure you, that road is clear and unobstructed.

2) Although the psychology community has made great strides in recognizing the damage of betrayal trauma due to sex addiction, they are no experts when it comes to physical manifestations of that trauma. It is so important to be aware of all that is going on with one’s body and to be an advocate for one’s own health. I would have never found answers and would never have known how ravaged my body had become had I not pushed and persisted. Indeed, the weight would have killed me had I continued to try to diet and exercise and believe that I could fix me. I would have gained weight until my heart gave out.

Lastly, I am eternally grateful to a couple of compassionate Air Force doctors and a slew of battle hardened Army medical specialists and surgeons who understand PTSD and depression and the physical effects of emotional/mental health. In my opinion, heroes don’t wear capes. They wear scrubs and lab coats and surgical masks. They wear concerned faces, compassionate smiles and combat boots. I am blessed and humbled and grateful to know such heroes. ❤️

 

 

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.

There Are Still Days…

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Sometimes, I am going along in my life, doing the things that I do, and I am fine. Really. I mean, I feel (almost) like any other woman, married, with kids and grandkids, pursuing hobbies, living life. Sometimes. But, not always. Still, too often, I am weighed down by the knowledge that the one person in my life that I gave my heart and soul, my hopes and dreams, my trust and love to…betrayed me. So many times and with so many women, that even he is not sure of the number. And it still hurts. Just as deeply and indescribably raw as when I discovered his deceit. And then I have one of “those” days.

I struggle to rise from bed, and when I do, it seems a monumental task to get dressed or open the blinds to the glaring sunlight. Leaving the house…going “out there” among normal people…is unthinkable. It is safer here. Within the walls of this new home, where no other woman has bared herself for my husband’s use. Where pornography has never been viewed and phone sex with some desperate whore has never been had. It is safe to withdraw to my computer, to my writing, to my art, to my books. Although, sometimes, even those things don’t interest me. That is when I know my depression has taken over and that is my scary place.

So, I pray. I call other partners. I work my program. I try to engage in something…anything…to occupy my thoughts. I use all the tools in my toolbox to pull myself back to me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it takes a lot of work. But, I am still here. Day in, day out. Fighting for me, for who I want to be, for who I know I can become. It’s exhausting. And there is still part of me that hates Will for doing this to me…to us. I don’t know if that will ever go away. The hate is scary too.

Today is one of those days and I am praying hard and begging God to take this from me. I welcome your prayers today. ❤

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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