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.

 

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. 😉

 

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.

 

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’m OK…Really!

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I’ve been apart from Will for a full week. And…meh…I’m good. Really. I have not once had that urge to try to check up on him, grill him about his day to see if I could catch him in a lie, or even ask him how he’s doing, ya know, with his *whispers behind hand* R.e.c.o.v.e.r.y…..

Of course, I have been busy chasing a couple of the cutest little grand babies around while mommy and daddy are at school and work. So, I’m a little too busy to dwell on what Will may or may not be doing. Plus, I have been writing for another blog, as a contributor, and that has been a great outlet for me. I am finding that I can miss him but not yearn for him in a co-dependent way. I am really perfectly fine on my own. How liberating is that?!?! I don’t just survive without Will anymore, I continue to thrive. I continue to grow and learn and strengthen myself in heart and mind and I feel closer every day to being a full person again.

Will is coming to join me, the kids and these two littles for Thanksgiving and it will be good to be all together. Our house will be completed in January and it is beginning already to feel like a home…a real home. Our forever home. I will be thrilled next year at this time when hopefully my whole gang will join Will and I for the holidays. Together, really together, for the first time in two years. I look forward to that. I look forward to a lot of things these days, and I gotta say, after the devastation of the last year and a half, looking forward with joy and not dread feels pretty good.

I hope you all are finding joy with the upcoming holidays. I hope that with Thanksgiving being next week, we can all be thankful for the blessings we have. Grateful for who we are becoming and even the trials that have made us so strong. I am particularly grateful for this community and for the amazing, inspiring women I have met here who I am honored to call friends. I thank you all for your compassion, your trailblazing, your advice and your love. May God Bless and keep you this Thanksgiving. Hugs to All!

Leigh ❤️

 

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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