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 ❤️

Meet the New Year, Same as the Old Year…or something…

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I have been remiss in blogging for a few months and I think it is because nothing of great impact or import has occurred lately. I tend to be quiet when I have nothing thoughtful or helpful to say. I’m not good at small talk or superficial chatter. You can imagine my awkwardness at social functions. 😏

The New Year came in with Will falling asleep in the sofa watching Netflix and me falling asleep in bed reading.  Yeah…we’re definitely not the “It” couple. We did celebrate on New Year’s Day as we have for many years. We had family over and grilled steaks despite the 7 degree weather and played games. It was really lovely. Lots of love and laughter. And connection. Will has continued to be present and connects now in a way that he (and I) have never experienced. This is true with our kids and grandkids as well. It is comforting and feels like true conversion from “addict Will” to “real Will.”

But, I continue to be on my guard and trust is still an issue. I think it may always be something that will be there…this lack of complete trust. I can never go back to my pre-D-day unconditional love and trust. I honestly don’t remember what that was like. I am no longer that vulnerable or malleable. And the honest truth is that I no longer want to be. I have been told that this is not the goal of full recovery…but that doesn’t make sense to me. Why would I open my heart and mind completely to the possibility of such devastating betrayal again? I may be recovering but I’m not stupid. I prefer to protect myself now, which is something I never even considered previously. This is not to say that I don’t love and trust…just not unconditionally and enthusiastically. I am more cautious, more aware, more reserved in how I approach relationships now. With Will, my family, friends…everyone. This is what profound betrayal does to a person’s psyche. This is what it does to a person’s core being, personality, and perspective. It is unfair and I am trying to let go of the resentment towards Will because of this forced change from who I was and who I am now. It is a hard row to hoe.

There are many good things, however, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the blessings that recovery has revealed. One of the many things that I have realized is that I genuinely like Will. He is truly my best friend. He still makes me laugh and cry happy tears. We enjoy spending time together and doing things together. He is still attractive to me and I appreciate his intellect and tenderness. Desire is slow in returning, but I am hopeful that too will make its presence known when we are both ready. I am trying to be patient.

So…nothing too earth shattering in my life these days. I’m just learning and growing and getting through this life and it’s challenges as best I can. Doing what I can to be better at it. It is, at times,  more difficult than other times…and sometimes relatively easy. But it is a constant effort to emerge and change and evolve. To discover who I am while holding on to the essence of who I was. Anyway, as I was writing this post, I kept thinking of the old The Who song, “We Won’t Be Fooled Again.” The lyrics are fitting for me right now.

“The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war
I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again, no, no”
This is how I am feeling. I have been liberated from the old life of secrets and infidelity, but history ain’t changed. I smile and grin at the change all around me in my life…because there is so much good! But then, I get on my knees and I pray (fervently!) that I don’t get fooled again.
Happy New Year’s 🥳
Leigh ❤️

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Time Out

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Will is going hunting this weekend. He will be in the mountains with my son-in-law and grandson. I am fine with that. However, next week, I am leaving for a couple of weeks to be with my son and his family. Will will be here. By himself. Alone. I have been telling myself that: I should be passed worrying. He has been sober for over a year. I shouldn’t be triggered by the distance. I am over-reacting and being unreasonable. So far, it’s not working.

The truth is that I am worried. I don’t know if he will still be sober when he is left on his own. Because I still don’t trust him. I don’t. And I don’t know when, or even if, trust will ever be possible. I certainly can’t just decide to trust him 100% all over again after all he’s done. It is not possible for me to look at him yet and not see the deceit and filth that was his life. It is still a process. I know I am impatient, especially with myself, but this takes time. A LOT of time.

What I am not doing is beating myself up. I started to really get upset with myself for not being able to just take this in stride. But then I remembered…oh, yeah…I didn’t do this to me…Will did this to me. It is not unreasonable or unwarranted. It is not my responsibility to be perfectly ok with leaving my known sex addict husband alone for two weeks, unsupervised, a block away from a massage parlor and liquor store, with full internet access, and all the time in the world, to do whatever he wants with whomever he want, with no one to be accountable to. Whew….now that I’ve written that out, I think I can let it go. Because, really, there is nothing I can do about it. He will or he won’t act out. That will be entirely his choice. He will lie to me, or he won’t…again his choice. He has a poly next month. If he makes a poor choice then, that’s ok…I’ll be ok. I’ll re-file for divorce and he knows this. And if he chooses acting out over me, then I will be better off. And if he chooses to stay sober, then he and we will be much farther ahead in our recovery and on a firmer path. That, too, goes a long way in establishing that all-important trust.

So, in the meantime, I will breathe deep, I will exhale fully. I will let go and let God. I will trust in myself and my own healing as always. And I will be OK. Thanks readers…I needed this little time out. 😏