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.

 

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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.

 

New Starts

 

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Wow….I can’t believe that today is the first of February. February! I flew through January seemingly without noticing. It has been a whirlwind of a month to say the least. We moved into our new home and while that has been largely a positive thing, an unexpected mix of emotions has assailed me. As we had a new sofa delivered, I found myself praying that Will would never defile it by screwing some slut on it like he did our old one. As I unpacked boxes, some of our old photos triggered memories of times when I thought we had a good marriage…only now I know those were times when Will was living a secret life. Ironically, we bought a new bedroom set which is solid and beautiful. However, the wrong size bed frame was delivered. So, although it was ordered three months before we moved in, we are now sleeping downstairs in our new guest room while we await the new bed. Maybe this is God’s gentle reminder that the marital  bed is sacred and should not be considered “just another piece of furniture.” So hopefully, next week, we will finally be fully moved in. And maybe, just maybe, I will feel settled. Because I feel very unsettled right now.

I have pondered this feeling and tried to pinpoint why, exactly, I should feel this way and am struggling to understand. Will and I are still progressing in our therapy together and we are still going to our respective individual meetings. We are communicating more and better than ever. Yet….I feel a distance. I truly believe it is not Will. It is something within me. I am missing something and I can’t seem to put my finger on it. It is disconcerting and confusing and part of me wants to push it aside, like in the old days, and just chalk it up to silly wandering of my mind. But I don’t do that anymore. I refuse to do that anymore as that is a practice which too easily becomes a habit, which too easily becomes a devastating path to pain. So, I will continue to ponder and pray and try to figure these confusing thoughts and feelings out, maybe with the help of our therapist, and will continue to try to settle into this new start. This does beg the question though: Is this what we do? Continually start and re-start? Is this how we grow and learn in life?  Maybe this is yet another layer of progress, another level of healing and I am just stumbling a little. I will let you know….as soon as I figure it out. 😉

 

Gratitude Ain’t Just An Attitude, It’s a Way Of Life

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We made it through Thanksgiving…no, no…actually, Thanksgiving was really wonderful. Will came out and joined me and we had a lovely time. I picked him up from the airport and it was GOOD to see him. I actually MISSED him! And I didn’t have that weird uh-oh-something-isn’t-quite-right feeling. It wasn’t even a passing thought. Does this mean that all is fine and dandy in sobriety land? Oh, no. Not by a long shot.

You see, a year ago, I was visiting this same son and daughter-in-law when Will came out to visit as well. Only, we were in a completely different place in our relationship. He was still big time into the manipulation and gas lighting although he was not acting out in his addiction. While there, he snuck my journal and read it, hacked my phone and read my texts to friends, and lied continued to lie/conceal things he had done. It was during this time last year, when my doctor’s office called to tell me my test results for an STD were positive. So…there were definitely triggers. A LOT of triggers.  But, oh, what a difference in how they affected me. And my reaction. And my behavior. And my emotion! I was able to instantly recognize a trigger when I took the grandkids to the pond to feed the ducks, just as I did on my last visit. As I approached the same bench on which I sat listening to my doctor tell me my test results last year, I felt a cold sadness coming over me. I clearly heard the words and felt the pain of that moment. I took a deep breath. And in the next moment, it was gone. I quickly realized that I was healthy, I had become stronger than that bad moment and could deal with the aftermath. I was grateful for where I am now and the people in my life that I love. AND THAT WAS IT!  In the next moment we were throwing bread crumbs to the ducks and making silly duck calls and then continued our walk home. I did not even think about it again until I said my prayers and gave thanks for the healing I had been blessed with.  The many other triggers in the three weeks I was there were so fleeting that I scarcely remember what they were. Something Will did caused a panic in me and I lashed out with a snarky remark…and very quickly apologized for it. He, also, realized what he had done to trigger my panic and apologized. Then he held me.and he kissed me. And he told me, as he does so much now, how very much he loves me and is grateful for me.

We have our moments. Believe me, when we got “home”to our tiny little trailer to find it without heat or hot water in 36 degree weather, it was not a good moment. But it was also not a moment where either of us got upset with one another, or engaged in any blame. We simply turned the electric blanket on high and tried to stay warm enough to sleep til morning  so we could find and fix the problem in the daylight. Trust me when I say, this is a completely different dynamic in our relationship. It feels healthy, and loving and like a true team effort. We are now two people in this marriage, both equally committed and both giving 100%.  I would not have believed it possible a year ago in sometimes have to remind myself that we are just 18-months post D-day. I know there is So. Much. More to do to get where we want to be…and NEED to be. But I am happy and grateful that we have come this far. I know we both still have a lot to learn about ourselves and each other and our relationship, but I have so much hope for our future.

I really have a true spirit of Thanksgiving and appreciate all that I have been blessed with. I pray that, no matter what our circumstance, or where we are in our recovery process, we can take the time to be truly, deeply thankful for all that we have. I pray that through this Christmas season, we can focus on the love and peace of the season and find joy in our circumstances, no matter what they may be. I love each of you and the amazing healing and support that this amazing community has provided me. I would not be here…as many of you know…without your outpouring of love, friendship, guidance and wisdom. Happiest of Holidays to everyone. I will check back in before Christmas! 🎄

 

I. Just. Can’t.

****WARNING-RARE, BUT MAJOR, RANT AHEAD!!****

I have my political views, my opinions and my certain leanings. I will not discuss them here. I will not discuss conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right or republican vs. democrat. I will not address policy or issues or platforms. I want to discuss right vs. wrong. Because it is starkly apparent. Because there is something much more critical that is going on in politics these days. . .and much more devastating to us as a nation.

Sex, Lies, Videotapes, Scandal, Cover-Ups. . . Power. This is now politics in America, and yes, there have always been some of these elements. The problem is that now, NOW, this is all there is. There is no decency, no honor, no goodness.

I am ashamed and deeply saddened. I am concerned for future generations and the moral decline that we are experiencing as a society. I am sickened by the callous and crude rhetoric that we are being barraged by on a daily basis because of the total lack of adult behavior by the candidates, the media, the pundits, the campaigns and certain supporters. It is ENOUGH!

I have wondered if, because of my own history of betrayal trauma, that I am simply more sensitive to the circus of deception, gaslighting, obfuscation, sexual misconduct and co-dependency that is currently our “Election Season.” But, no. It’s not just me. Friends and family who just don’t happen to be married to a sex addict, also find it disgusting and frankly, quite unbelievable. It is beyond the pale and I am tired of being triggered by story after story of sitting presidents who “may have” raped someone or who have cheated on the current candidate while in the White House. I am disgusted by allegations that a man “may have” used his position of power to systematically grope and assault women because of ego and entitlement issues. I cannot tolerate one more “leak” of information about cover-ups, emails, pay-for-plays, hot mics, religious bigotry, or sexual innuendo.

Is this truly what we have become as a nation? One giant tabloid?

We are a country of over three hundred million people. Out of that three hundred million, we have chosen two…two people. One of which will represent the rest of us for the next four to eight years to the rest of the world. We have chosen possibly the worst TWO people to do so. . .out of THREE HUNDRED MILLION!

It is no wonder, really, that pornography use, infidelity, sex addiction, casual one-nighters, rape, sexual abuse, child porn, prostitution, sex trafficking, divorce. . . are all on the rise or at epidemic levels. It is out of control. Men that believe misogyny is a myth or engage in the degradation and debasing of women should be called out and educated. Women that engage in pornography for “pleasure”  or turn a blind eye to sexual misconduct, likewise, are responsible for the breakdown of our moral fabric. Anyone, ANYONE, seeking to insert themselves into a coupleship for self-gratification, or seeking that gratification outside of their own committed relationship is responsible for our moral decline. Yes, I recognize addictions and trauma and issues. But I also recognize self-control, agency and personal choice. Help is available. We all have a basic knowledge of right and wrong. Fix yourself. Help fix our society.

We are destroying ourselves from within. Things like ISIS, drug cartels, global warming…they cannot compare to the power and potential to destroy us as we ourselves possess. Our own inability to achieve moral clarity in a time such as this,  is a harbinger of self-destruction.

America. . .there is nothing right about this election. We’ve got it all wrong. 😥

The Trouble With Triggers

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

One would be wrong in that assumption.

The trouble with triggers is this:

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

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

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

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

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

And I erupted.

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

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

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

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

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

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