It again has been many, many months since I have felt compelled to write anything. Because, honestly, my life is so ridiculously normal. I mean, aside from riots, fires, pestilence, plagues…you know…real every day life. Maybe it is because the world is in such turmoil and my American life seems to be on the brink of destruction that maybe my own personal, intimate, hell of living with a sex addict seems minuscule in comparison. Or it could be that I am finally to a place where, despite all the external chaos, things are finally, truly in a place of serenity and peace in my life. I don’t feel the need to think about what Will has done in the past. I don’t feel the urge to litigate all of the indiscretions and pure evil he perpetrated on us. I have no desire to feel the pain of betrayal. I certainly don’t have a need to continue to dwell on what happened or why. It is, quite simply, in our past. It is not who we, as a couple, are anymore. It is not how we identify or choose to live our lives. Yes, Will still attends meetings and continues his outreach to help others. Yes. I still read healing information and practice mindfulness and meditation. But, no, we are just not immersed in the world of recovery/healing much at all anymore. We see the Therapist infrequently now, preferring to spend that time together doing something we both love to do. Sometimes, that is simply sitting quietly together reading under our pergola with music playing along with the crickets. We spend time with one another, with family and with friends. We spend a lot of time at home and we have finally broken down the barrier to lovemaking. That is still a work in progress, but it is lovely and intimate and emotional in a good way. Life is so, so beautiful and fulfilling and wonderful. We are blessed and grateful to be living it together. I continue to pray for our world, for those in so much pain and for all who have been my sounding board, my support and my virtual friends for so long. I have a deep abiding love for all of you and a gratitude for the constant understanding, compassion and guidance with which you have been so generous. Simply put…I would not have been able to heal and even survive without you all. Thank you is such an inadequate phrase for how I feel about you all. But, life goes on. I will be writing even less but I still read and comment and reply and I am not discontinuing this blog. I want each of you to know that being in that place of pain is not forever. There is healing, there is hope, there is complete recovery. It is possible to move out of that place of betrayal and there is a great amount of love and life yet to experience. I am in that phase of my life now and it is beyond my ability to describe the peace and joy that is in my heart. Life is amazing and I am excited everyday to live it. God is so, so good. I love you all and I will still be here, living, loving and not just surviving, but thriving.
For the last couple of years, a Facebook “friend” has been quite passive/aggressive with snide comments whenever I post an opinion. We differ politically and she simply can’t let those differences alone. Here’s the thing…she was one of the first people who knew about Will’s deception. She’s an attorney who had gone through a divorce and recommended a good divorce lawyer to me. Unlike others, she was quite stoic about what had happened…no tears, only advice. Of course, she had never gone through this type of betrayal. Her divorce was due to her husband leaving her for another woman whom he had known since childhood…his first love. I get that it hurt her, but to be honest, I always got the feeling that it was her pride that was damaged, not her heart. Anyway, she had re-married and was very vocal about sharing how amazing her life was. We were never close…she knew about Will as a bystander as I was confiding with a friend. In the year following disclosure, we never spoke of it again and as far as I know, she never gossiped or spread rumors etc. She did pointedly ignore Will whenever they happened to run into one another where they both worked downtown. She was, however, one of those who avoided me when I made the decision to reconcile rather than divorce. She avoided me at church, at social events and stopped posting or responding on Facebook. Meh. No loss, really.
Well, things changed when her second husband got cancer. She publicly disclosed every aspect of his battle but mostly her feelings about how it affected her. When her husband passed away, her FB feed was an open, mournful, grieving, dialogue of her pain. Pictures of them and their combined family over the years, memories that popped up and the inevitable sadness that they brought. It was understandable. She had suffered a loss. She was devastated. I was consistently supportive. When I first heard of the diagnosis and prognosis, I texted her and offered support. I continually offered a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. And then an odd thing happened. About a year after her husband died, her posts began to change…dramatically. All of the sudden, she was positive and began posting pics of herself in the gym. Pics of before and after when she started to lose weight and get fit. Her doom and gloom grieving posts about her deceased husband all but stopped. I wondered what had changed but, was positive and again supportive. Then, it all became clear. She announced that she had met someone and would soon be remarried. Ah….I see. As one part of me was happy that she had found a new man in her life, another part was incredibly sad that her life seemed to change based on whether or not she had a man in her life. It all seemed so superficial.
I got it. I had been there. I had been that person who had lost myself in a relationship. And I grieved the loss of myself once Will’s betrayal was discovered. I lost a lot of respect for her at that moment. I felt sorry for her. Despite all of her pain and her public grieving and her TMI about her sadness…followed by her TMI about her new fiancée, then husband…I remained FB friends with her and was congratulatory and supportive. Because that is who I am.
Over the next year or so, however, she became more and more passive/aggressive in her responses to comments I made…usually on someone else’s posts. She attacked my opinions on social issues, she was verbally derisive regarding people I supported politically, she ridiculed my posts on depression, addiction, recovery etc. In short, she was clearly not a fan of me or anything I found important. Even though I had publicly and privately supported her through her struggles, her grief, her questionable motives regarding fitness, her newfound love and happiness, her own political stance and her family circumstances. Through the years, I was supportive and happy and simply there for her…regardless of how I felt about her decisions and choices. After a comment I posted on one of my daughter’s posts (yes, she is friends with one of my daughters) she posted a particularly nasty comment about selling one’s soul and being a traitor because of a political opinion. This was directed at me. I was hurt. I tried not to be. I tried to shrug it off as I had so many times before. I mean…it was only FB…right? No. This was a wake-up for me. This was another betrayal. I had stood behind this woman through her own trials, her bereavement, her challenges, her grief, her recovery, her pain and her joy. And in return, she had shown her disapproval of my own choices. Her anger at my political opinions. Her dismissal of my own journey through grief and pain and loss. Her ridicule of my newfound joy and happiness in marriage. I realized that she was a person who could only find joy through her own selfishness. She found her fulfillment only in being tied to a man who completed what she perceived as a FB perfect life. She was definitely an image seeker who needed the attention which social media fed. She was, indeed, incredibly shallow.
So, despite the many ties that we have together (church, friendship circles, children, history) I unfriended her on FB. This may seem trivial to some, but for me, this is not something I did lightly. I actually prayed over it and meditated through it. This is normally just not who I am. I am not a bridge-burner. I am not a friendship-ender. But, I (again!) realized something very important. I am not willing to be abused any longer. This is a lesson I keep teaching myself. I learned it early on in my trauma with my mother and sister. I learned it with my daughters. I learned it with Will. I am continually becoming stronger about who and what I will allow in my life. I haves freed myself of yet one more toxic person in my life and it is very liberating.
I am sometimes a slow learner and it sometimes takes my awhile to identify the toxicity a relationship is bringing to my life. But, I can say that I am not afraid to rid myself of the bad and welcome the good anymore. I am so willing to embrace the happy and leave behind the harmful.
This past couple of months has been so busy…and so beautiful. Since our trip to Hawaii, Will has met with our church leaders and it has been determined that his heart, from a spiritual standpoint, has been changed and softened considerably. Enough so that he was confirmed to be worthy and redeemed through the repentance process to be re-baptized as a member of our church. During this time, I took 10 days to go and visit our daughter and mother of four of our grandchildren in another state. My son-in-law had been deployed with the military leaving them for six months. Needless to say, she is a bit overwhelmed on her own. After a week and a half, we drove home together with the kids and prepared for the onslaught of out of state family who wished to attend Will’s baptism. My son flew in to perform the ordinance. And it was amazing and powerful and so faith-affirming. Time with all three of my grown children was precious and so fulfilling. They are all such incredible human beings! Every one of them is accomplished and happy and such wonderful parents to my grandchildren. My heart is full of love and gratitude for them all.
Prior to Will’s actual baptism, there was a short program in the chapel of the church building. Will and my son were dressed in white and were prepared to enter the baptismal font. As I sat next to them both, I noted that they were both barefooted and it struck me that in the Lord’s house, instead of Sunday finery, they were in the most basic dress they could be in. No adornment, no embellishments, no shirt and tie, no shoes. Simple, clean, pure, white. This is how we will come before God. No pretention, nothing hidden, no distraction from our most pure selves. Barefoot. Vulnerable. Honest. For He knows all and sees all without the filters we use to live this human life.
I contemplated how much simpler life would have been had Will been this open and vulnerable and honest throughout our lives together. How much pain and shame and sadness and hurt would have been avoided had he only been able to be “barefoot” with me and those who have loved him no matter what? I had come across a C.S. Lewis quote a few days prior to this which suddenly popped back into my head.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
This. This is why we go through pain and sorrow and hardship. Because we all have the potential for greatness and to be extraordinary. Because we come into the world barefoot and vulnerable but life teaches us to be guarded and clothe ourselves in a facade of what is deemed acceptable by society. We cannot let go of all the trappings of our humanity, but we can re-learn how to become as a child again. This is done through heartbreak and loss and trial. God sees us as he created us…as His children…open and teachable and meek and humble. Hardship teaches us these things again and we become again as a child and dependent on His mercy and love. We are again willing to be barefoot.
Will and I just returned from a week in Hawaii. We had never been and this was totally Will’s idea. He took upon himself the planning, the reservations, the itinerary…everything. Our fortieth anniversary is this month and so this was our celebration of forty years of marriage. Forty. Years. That is a lifetime.
Sadly, out of those forty years, Will has been faithful to me for only four. He has been present and sincerely trying to be married for about the last three of those years. Forgive me if I am sound skeptical about full recovery…but, history. On balance, the odds are not great given his past behavior and my past ignorance.
However, that being said, we have now what we have never had. Hope. When one is stuck in such an insidious, destructive addiction, there is literally no hope in sight. The addict feels that he will forever be “broken” and out of control. When the spouse becomes aware of the betrayal resulting from that addiction, hopelessness is prevalent and anger, hurt, and despair are the emotions which rule our lives. The overwhelming feeling of being shattered is constant. Hope is an illusion and seems forever gone.
Then something happens. It does not happen suddenly or even at a reasonable pace. It happens s.l.o.w.l.y. Painfully, heart-breakingly slow. Hope begins to infiltrate one’s conscience. Sometimes at odd times or in odd ways. Sometimes, most times, stealthily, catching one unaware or unready.
This happened to me in Hawaii. During a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, there was a Tahitian village wedding vow renewal ceremony that visitors take part in. The vow was not an “I do.” It instead asks the question, “Will I ever leave my spouse?” To which one answers, “No, I will not.” As Will and I took part in this vow with the rest of the crowd, we looked at each other and said these words in answer to the question posed. At that moment, hope jumped in. Will was sincere and actually had tears in his eyes when he replied. I felt his honesty and with that, felt a great hope that I hadn’t really felt before. I knew at that moment, that there was a future for us and our marriage. I don’t believe that I have known that with any certainty before. It was good. So good.
We had an amazing trip together. I had few triggers and those I managed with little effort. We spent every minute together eating, swimming, shopping, exploring. It was so good for us. I put my wedding ring back on. For the first time since D-day. I never thought I would wear it again. I looked at it as something shamed and broken. A symbol of betrayal and pain. It’s matching partner, worn on Will’s ring finger, had been taken off so many times to assuage his guilt while acting out that it was rendered meaningless. To him and to me. But, he has worn it faithfully since D-day and has the tan line to attest to its constancy. And that is where hope again comes in.
Consistent, honest effort breeds hope. Hard work towards meaningful, lasting recovery breeds hope. Acts of selflessness and caring breeds hope. Sincere repentance and forgiveness breeds hope. These are the things that never were, but are now, present in our lives together.
It is no secret that Aloha means hello, goodbye, gratitude, good luck and a multitude of other interpretations in the Hawaiian language. The overwhelming meaning though is described by natives as love. Love for a person or a place or an idea. But mostly a love of life. With hope, comes aloha. A deep love of life. An appreciation for all that is good and beautiful and wonderful in our world and in our lives. Although there have been so few “good” years out of the forty we have spent together, I can say now with a great deal of hope, that we are now learning to enjoy these aloha years. We are blessed. 🌺
Today is May 17, 2019. Four years since D-day. Four years since my world was shattered. Four years since the day I became irrevocably changed. Four years since life, as I knew it, was over.
And four long, difficult, heart-breaking years of grueling recovery and healing.
And it’s not enough.
I don’t know where I am on my journey. I don’t know where my road is leading. All I know is that there are horrible memories that still overshadow the good memories. That balance has not been restored. I know, also, that it is hard, hard work to make those good memories that used to come so effortlessly. But, I still try.
Maybe in another four years, or eight…or twelve, the memories will shift and the bad will fade and be less painful. Maybe the good memories will be overwhelming and wonderful and crush the bad from my recollection. Maybe rain isn’t wet. 😏
I came across a numerology chart the other day which describes the characteristics of numbers, and while I don’t subscribe to numerology or really even understand it, I thought the associated description of the number four was interesting and perhaps apropos to my current state:
Those who walk a life path with the number four have an almost unbreakable spirit and astounding capabilities of self-control. 4 reminds us that equality of all sides created the strongest structures. It’s energy is that of stability.
Hmmm…Can’t really count on all of that.
What I can count on is myself. What I know for certainty is that I will keep working on healing. I will keep doing the best I can with what I have. And I will keep looking for more. More happiness, more contentment, more gratitude, more grace.
I think I’m getting there. Slowly.
So, I took a few days to
run away recover from Will’s horrible treatment of me. It has been a wise decision. I took the whole day yesterday to treat myself to an all-day spa treatment…mani/pedi, massage, facial, lunch. I have NEVER done that before. Never. I had one slight tinge of guilt for such an extravagant expense…but soon realized that the cost was about the same as one massage parlor visit by Will in the past..so, really, it’s all about perspective. Anyway, I am currently at a resort hotel locally where comfort and indulgence is a priority. And, I have to say, I am having such a lovely, peaceful, reflective time. I need to do this more often…regardless of Will and his issues. This is healthy and so, SO good for my soul! I have treated myself to wonderful food, downtime, and an abundance of time to read, sketch, and hike. Things that I don’t do enough. And while sketching, I realized a profound concept…the eraser!
I am very much an amateur artist. I sketch things that inspire me now and then. I am not very good, but I enjoy it as a sort of therapy. Sketching, for me, is a time to reflect, relax and it provides a good outlet for my sometimes inhibitive side to be released. As I was surfing the internet yesterday (for what, I honestly don’t remember 🙄) I came across a beautiful site of southern Italy and amazing photos of the stunning fields of sunflowers that are so prevalent in that region. When Will and I traveled through Tuscany many years ago, I was impressed by these same fields and bought a beautiful hand-painted plate of a single, perfect size flower which still graces our dining room wall. One photo I came across as I surfed particularly struck me and I decided to sketch it. As I began my new drawing, I sketched, I erased, I considered my perspective, I re-drew, I erased and I re-sketched, until I had something that pleased my eye and my sense of proportion and balance. And then…the epiphany! I erased! I obliterated the ugly, the disproportionate, the “oops” that regularly occurs when I sketch. And I made it better. I re-evaluated and took stock of the picture as a whole and I adjusted. To make the end result as close to perfect as was humanly possible. It is a constant process. Sketch, evaluate, erase, re-draw, assess…and then carry-on to the next phase.
You already know where I am going with this analogy, but for me, this was such an enlightenment! Why, if I can expend so much thought and time into a trivial endeavor like a simple sketch, can I not take the same care and considered reflection when it comes to my marriage? Yes, I get that it is a much more emotional and personal issue, but it should be basic precept for something that I have spent over forty years working on. (Even if Will has not been much of an active participant in this same project called marriage 😏.) This is less about Will and more about me and my mindset. I have spent weeks, even months, on an intricate project like a drawing, a needlepoint piece, a refinish item or a sewing endeavor. True that these are material things and are not of an everlasting or eternal nature, but during the process of creating, they require focus and attention and a certain amount of dedication to complete. Why then, in creating a solid marriage or relationship, something that should last a lifetime and beyond, would I not employ an equal or, indeed, a greater effort to ensure success? Arghhh!!! Why has it taken me this freaking long to figure this out?!?!
Sometimes, I wonder, not if Will is ever going to “get it”, but whether I will ever really be in a place where clarity and simplicity of thought takes center stage in my life. Not to deter from the fact that Will behaved in an unacceptable manner…he clearly did. But, to re-focus on my own reaction and response. Which is still a work in process. As we both are. One does not survive four decades (or longer) of dysfunction without deep-set scars and ideologies of life unscathed. But, that is not to say that one does not possess the very basic utility of an “eraser.” We can (and MUST) utilize the God-given gift of the eraser (or, in other words, Christ’s atonement) to undo the ugly, the unfathomable, the hurt, the “oops” of life! Much like a pencil which sometimes takes a deviant path from what the artist intends, life can take a path which is errant and unacceptable. We can then either allow that path to obstruct and distort the whole, or use our eraser to re-evaluate, re-assess, delete the error and correct our course.
We can re-draw our future. We can erase the ugly and focus on what is next. It is not simple. It is not without shadows of regret or missteps or remnants of hurt pain or bad decisions. But it is a positive move towards a better and brighter tomorrow. Those who know me know that I am not about platitudes or Pollyanna optimism, just plain and simple facts of life. Like a project of skill, or hope, or faith, marriage and happiness is something which requires endless reassessment and readjustment. Using the eraser which we have all been given is the most powerful tool we have.
What a long cold winter this is turning out to be! I am not a big fan of the first few months of the year. I always feel a little depressed after the New Year. It’s a mix of the cold, the after-holiday slump and lethargy of my self imposed human hibernation. I have to make such an effort to get out of the house, and being completely honest, even get dressed, on these cold dark days. It is easy to stay warm and comfy inside as days drag by, waiting for spring. But it is also detrimental to my own recovery. Depression can get the best of me during this time of the year if I don’t force myself to be an active participant in my life. Fortunately, Will has come to realize what a struggle it is for me and, unlike past years, makes a huge effort to plan date nights, plays, weekend trips etc., to help me through this difficult part of the year.
Last week, we met some of our kids and grandkids up in the mountains at Breckenridge. They skied and snowboarded and Will and I spent some down time in the beautiful lodge and condo. (I don’t ski anymore after a nasty accident and knee reconstruction 😏) It was lovely and peaceful and we celebrated my birthday there. I was reminded time after time as we went through the week, of how much, yet how little our lives have changed in the last three and a half years since D-day. We tend to be careful, albeit subconsciously, of speaking of Will’s addictions and the impact on all of our lives. Yet, if something comes up in conversation, we are able to simply address it as a matter of fact and move on. There are still triggers and there are still times of reminders and rumination, but they are brief and completely manageable. But we still play games with family, we still have lovely family dinners and we still have a deep and abiding love and friendship with one another. We still think we are all hilarious and crack each other up. My kids and grandkids are amazing and resilient. I have much to be grateful for.
And that is one of the biggest drivers in recovery. Gratitude. I have to continually remind myself of all the good in my life (and there is SO much!) so that I don’t slide into a self-pitying depressive state which is certainly the easy way out. Years ago, I heard the founder of Mothers Without Borders, Kathy Headlee-Miner, give a seminar. She has had an incredible life and definitely her share of trials. It would have been easy for her to wallow in her adversity and lead a persecuted life. She chose differently. She chose to be happy. She chose to serve others. She chose to be grateful for her blessings. Every morning, no matter where she finds herself in the world, before she opens her eyes to the day ahead, she quietly reflects on her blessings. She mentally reminds herself of three things that she is grateful for. She has practiced this little ritual for decades and she believes that it has a huge impact on her outlook on life. She challenged all who were there to try it to see if it made a difference to them. I must admit, it does. Taking a few short minutes every morning to be thankful and humble has a profound impact on how I approach my day. As this dreary winter has dragged on, I have found that I am more able to get out of my doldrums and it is easier for me to shrug off the doom and gloom that can so quickly turn me into a weepy mess. I am not at 100% at doing this. I have days when I am just cranky and dissatisfied with everyone and everything. But, what a difference when I take that few minutes in the morning and adjust my attitude before I even open my eyes! I am more able to focus on all the good things in life. Laughter comes more easily. Patience (not my strong suit) is enhanced. Love for Will is more present. Life is more beautiful.
This is such a huge part of complete recovery! And, for me, my triumph over Winter!
It has taken me a long time to get here. A loooonnnggg time. But, the point is that I feel myself changing and I see the difference. So do others around me. I am closer to the happy, content part of me that was missing for so long. I will never be the same person I was for most of my life, but maybe, just maybe, I can be a better or even the best version of myself. What more can one ask?
I love this time of year. The cooler weather, the leaves changing, the anticipation of upcoming holidays. It’s a season of coziness. Soft warm sweaters, crackling fireplaces, hot cocoa…all those things of comfort.
I just got home from visiting my newest granddaughter in the Midwest. I went to help out with the new baby and her two older siblings. It was a lovely time and I so love spending time with my son and daughter in law. They have been the one part of my family who, when the revelations of D-day were new, were willing to accept my grief and pain. Unlike my daughters, who felt that Will’s issues were somehow my fault, my sweet daughter in law embraced me and my pain and loved me all the more for how it affected me. She is an amazing young woman who is fun, smart, accomplished and blessed with a joyful spirit. I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like because she is a two-hour plane trip away, but when I spend time with her I am always struck by how blessed I am, as a mother in law, to have this wonderful person in my family. I fall in love with her a little more every time I see her. How fortunate that she and my son fell in love and have chosen to spend their lives together. She calls me “mom” and her 5-year-old asked her why she called me that since his other grandma is “really” her mom. She replied simply that “Daddy’s mom became my mom too when daddy and I got married. She’s not only my mom but she’s also my friend…how cool is that?!” What a lovely explanation and such a simple statement of love and family.
What an amazing world it would be if we were all so accepting and loving! I think back to those early days in my trauma when I was so judged and my family was so cruel to me. I understand that they, too, had issues and betrayal and hurt. But I also understand that, on a basic human level of compassion and empathy, they lacked both and in some ways still do. I am still unable to speak with my girls about anything regarding my feelings of betrayal and healing. They prefer to discuss their feelings with each other and still blame me. If “the past” comes up in any way, they quickly change the subject as if nothing ever happened. It is denial in the worst way. It still hurts, but there is little I can do about that if they choose to ignore it. I think this is part of the reason I love being with my son and daughter in law. They are open about what happened and want updates on how both Will and I are doing in recovery. It is not the big, ugly elephant in the room that no one acknowledges. It is comfortable and normal and loving. I don’t know how to achieve that with my girls and it is still so hurtful and I fall into a depression over it so easily. It is definitely something that, through all our family has been through, I struggle with the most.
However, there is something about this time of year that sparks in me a tremendous gratitude and appreciation for all the blessings in my life. There is something quite beautiful about the idea that the trees, so recently in full leaf and at their prime, have so quickly changed color and are now losing their leafy protection to the elements. I know that the coming months will bring bitter cold temps and frosty winds which will batter these vulnerable bare trees. I know that they will be exposed to whatever Mother Nature throws at them and that they will withstand frigid cold nights and overcast, sunless days. BUT… In the spring, they will begin to warm from their roots up. They will be re-invigorated into growth and beauty. The brutal months of cold and exposure will have made them stronger than the previous year. They will produce even more full branches of even deeper and more prolific leaves and buds. Their trunks will have strengthened from withstanding the winds which bent them and built their inner core…but never broke them. They will leaf out fully and provide beauty and shade in the spring and summer. They will provide shelter for squirrels and birds and insects of all types. They will provide comfort and privacy and depth to our landscape. What a metaphor for betrayal and healing! As my family has been through such a cold, bitter, cruel “winter” because of Will’s addictions, I have faith that, with time, we too will come through it and have a glorious “spring.” I believe that as I have withstood all the rawness and bare vulnerability that betrayal brings, I will be stronger for it…I already am. I think that my family will regain its roots and it’s core will be strengthened. I know that our leaves have all fallen off and we still struggle with the chill and frost but, I think our empathy and compassion will grow deeper and that our family will again return to its full canopy of shade and comfort from the storms of life.
It is ironic that I love this season where everything is dying…yet it is so beautiful. It seems to me that this sums up my life so well right now. I see my kids as being in different seasons at different times. I see the same for myself. But, I have faith that we will all go through our different seasons at our own pace and in our own time. I believe that, although this winter season seems to be eternal, it will refine us and strengthen us and that we will be healthy and happy and will enjoy an amazing spring and glorious summer. There will be more falls…and winters. Some will be not quite so beautiful and maybe some will be harsh and unforgiving. But there will always be a spring and a summer. Always.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” ~ Ecc 3:1-12
I am healing. Not just physically from my recent surgery, but from the trauma of betrayal. I am struck, though, by the speed (or lack thereof) of healing emotionally and healing physically. And I have always thought that unfair. Healing faster is better right?
As I heal from major surgery, I can feel myself get stronger. I can see results on the scale. I can walk farther and longer. I have regained some of my energy. I just simply feel better. I have not had any instances where I have felt worse or even the same as before the surgery. The progress is all forward with no relapsing. And I am only about six weeks post-op. To me, this is amazing. But regarding the devastating betrayal, I am over three years post-D-day and it has only been recently that I feel I have made noteworthy progress. Have I seen and felt myself change? Absolutely! But it is agonizingly slow and painful. And I feel like there are relapses way too often.
Today, I was in a grumpy mood and didn’t want to talk to anyone or do anything. I didn’t want to take a walk or even get dressed. When Will got home from work, he cheerfully asked if I wanted to go for a walk. And so we did. Partly because I knew I needed to walk for my continued recuperation, but largely because in the past, Will would never take a walk with me and I’m not about to pass up that opportunity. We walked, held hands, picked up the mail and talked about everyday stuff. It raised my spirits somewhat but I still had a dark cloud that I couldn’t quite describe hanging over me.
We sat outside under our new pergola and watched the sunset and shared silly videos with each other on our iPads. It was a nice quiet evening. As we said our prayers together, I prayed for the Lord to protect us in our sleep and in our dreams. It was at that moment that I remembered my dream from right before I woke up this morning and realized what it had done to my mood all day long. It was horribly vivid and seemed so real and it put me right back to the rage, the disgust, the sick feeling of betrayal, the absolute feeling of broken-ness of D-day. And the hangover from it stayed with me all day. It made me so angry that my brain and my sub-conscious would torture me this way. Why?!?! Why can’t my mind and my emotions heal like my body is doing?
Then, I began analyzing it all, like I do 🙄, and have come to this conclusion:
A body is really just a vessel. A relatively temporary thing for our use here on Earth. It is easily bruised or broken and, for the most part, there is generally a medical remedy, like stitches or casts or surgery to put one back together again. It takes some effort to heal, but the body does most of it on it’s own. We can not control how the bones knit together or tissue regenerates. It just does.
The mind, however, is far more complex. It is part of our spirit, our personality, our intellect. It is WHO we are. We cannot rely on the miracle of healing in quite the same way. When one is mentally or emotionally damaged, there is no chance that the brain is going to “fix itself” and heal on it’s own. There is no third-party like a doctor or nurse that can stitch up the gaping holes caused by years of false memory. No one can put a cast on the broken heart or broken trust and allow those things to knit back together. Healing from trauma is s-l-o-w. It is painful. It is So. Much. Hard. Work!
Healing is not for the impatient. And that is what I keep reminding myself. I keep telling myself that I am worthy of grace. I am allowed to take my time. I have earned the absolute right to feel the pain and anger at times, but also revel in newfound joy and, dare I say it, happiness. I am learning to accept the relapses and then put them behind me. I am learning that a relapse does not impede forward progress or even slow it down like it does with a physical injury. It is actually a PART of the progress and makes one stronger. Every thought and emotion and even dream is something to process, to digest and to learn from. It is all part of healing.
So yes, I am healing physically faster than emotionally. That is a given. But I am healing well on both counts…and that is what is important.
June 30th was our anniversary. Our 39th anniversary. It’s a long time to be married. It’s an even longer time to be married to a sex addict. 😏
When we were married in 1979 (yikes!), the world was a different place. Men were different and women were different. All I wanted was to be married to someone who loved me like crazy and would be my friend, my lover, my protector and the father of my children. I was committed and meant every word of our wedding vows…to love, honor and cherish. Thru thick and thin, in sickness and in health. I MEANT those words. I think those words were completely foreign to Will. He did not comprehend, let alone mean any of them. And, let’s face it, he’s not a quick study.
Many, many times in the past 39 years, we have come close to calling it quits. When he cheated, when he lied, when he ruined us financially (over and over), when he was demoted in the military (twice), when they courts martialled him, when he confessed “everything” in 1996 and pretended to turn over a new leaf…and then of course, D-day. Never in that time, was I truly happy. Never in that time did I feel loved and protected. As puzzled by the words love, honor and cherish Will was, I was equally puzzled as to why my marriage was always so difficult and why was there something missing? I did not know what it meant to be loved, honored or cherished. I thought what we had, was as good as I deserved. Will often told me, in so many ways, that I was not good enough, I was difficult, I was the cause of everything that HE had done. And I believed it. Only really special women were loved and cherished…and I was not special. When D-day and the aftermath of slow mini disclosures came about, I had complete confirmation that I was not special…not to Will, not to my girls, not to my mother or sister. I had always felt alone…after D-day, I realized I had always been alone. It was the hardest time of my life. And I tried to end it. I thank God that I failed. That was three years ago when we had been “married” for a mere 36 years. Times have changed.
Looking back, I can’t honestly say why we are still together. We don’t have an epic, overwhelming love story. We aren’t the beautiful, wealthy, accomplished people who seem to have it all together. Currently, we don’t have the passion for one another that we hope to have when we get to that point in our recovery. But, I think there is much to be said for commitment. But, like I said, 39 years ago, men and women were different. When you married, you stayed married. Even through all of Will’s infidelities, when his addiction was at its peak times, the thought of divorce never crossed his mind. When we married, I committed to Will…heart and soul. I took our vows seriously and I lived them. Will took what he understood, seriously…it’s just that he never understood them. He just knew that somewhere within him, he didn’t want to be without me. It has taken him 39 long years to start figuring it all out. But, we both look back now, and understand commitment differently. We treasure our history, our shared memories, our family, our experiences, our laughter and our sorrows. I think this is all why we are still together and willing to keep working for our marriage.
Today I can say that I am not alone. I do still get lonely and I am working on that. I am no longer puzzled by the past because I have my eyes wide open now and the confusing signals I got then, make sense knowing what I now know. I have discovered that Will is not the key to me feeling special or “enough.” I now know that his addictions were born largely out of his own feelings that he was not special or enough. I am still learning what it is to feel loved. Will is still learning how to love. We still have much to learn…but the difference now is that we are learning together. Finally, after nearly four decades, we are on the same path. We are living our lives differently now and it feels so much better and healthier. We see little changes in one another that are making big differences. Life is good. I am blessed and grateful.