I’m Fine…After All

People will ask me how I am doing these days. I usually just say “l’m fine.” It’s been more than 4 years since I discovered my husband’s betrayal. We divorced 2 years ago today. I should be fine by now, right? And I am fine. But fine doesn’t mean what you think it means…

“…in a satisfactory or pleasing state; very well.”

For what I have been through, and where I have been, I am doing fine. Sort of. It has been worse after all. Being fine it seems, is a relative term.

I thought my perfect life was fine. I thought my perfect marriage to the perfect man was fine. I was just starting a new business that was going to be more than fine. Our children were fine too. We were all doing well at life. I felt we had made it. After all the trials and struggles in life, we had made it. Retirement and a life of bliss and church service was just around the corner. Life was more than fine, life was good. We were living downtown in a fancy apartment, hubby was driving a nice car, we had two Harley’s, and a good job. Life was just fine. I was in denial.  I’m not anymore so that makes it fine, I guess.

Son was about to enter his last year of college. He was taking finals when his life exploded that left him unable to finish school. He just lost his drive. That’s fine, right?

Daughter #1 was the mother of 4 small children who was navigating her new role and feeling overwhelmed with life, but her Dad’s choices left her fine, didn’t they?

Daughter #2 was starting a new career and living on her own after years of struggling with her own disabilities. But she was going to be just fine too, right? How could all this devastation possibly derail her?

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Then our lives blew up. All of our lives blew up. Not just mine. Our children suffered at least as much betrayal as I did, if not more. But in the fallout, I was shattered so badly I couldn’t help my kids, no matter how much I wanted to do so. They say when you are drowning in the depths of the sea or on a plane careening towards the earth that you have to save yourself first and then go back for the kids. Put on your own life vest first, or put on your own oxygen mask first. It seems like a good idea, in theory. In practice, not so much. I never knew what it would be like to be so broken that all you could think about was your own survival and how much it would hurt to watch you children struggle and be able to do nothing to help them, while the parent who caused the damage just runs away from the scene of the devastation.

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I am fine now, because at least now I can be somewhat helpful to them. I can do things for them, finally. And that is important because I’m all they have for the moment. Dad has dug himself in so deep with his children that he may never find a way back to them. His choices left everyone with hardly any choices in response except to be estranged. Anything else isn’t safe. But we are all fine.

I hope my kids will be fine. We think we will all be fine, eventually, but at what cost? Almost nothing in life for the last 4 years happened like we thought it would. While our perfect lives were being blown apart, so were our dreams. Not just once, but over and over again. Just as we would get our footing, some other bad choice was being made for us and our lives, while we had to stand by helplessly and watch and pray for a miracle that never came. It was a struggle for any of us just to get through the day without dying inside. But we are fine, we are all still alive. The dreams we once had are gone. But we are here. We’re fine.

We all struggle to make ends meet in every way possible. So we do what we have always done, we rally together and support one another. Sometimes I help out, sometimes I can’t, so the kids pitch in. It’s what families do. Sometimes I feel like I am the one being helped more often than not. While the Ex drives a fancy sports car, lives in an expensive apartment downtown, this time with someone else, she rides in my spot on the back seat of what used to be OUR Harley, and he goes out doing all the fun things with his “wife-stress” he used to do with us. We have been replaced by a better model, she must be, because he didn’t even bother to fight for us, he just walked out of our lives without even a backwards glance, so he must be doing fine too. He doesn’t give us, or our lives, a second thought. How does he reconcile any of this? Yeah, he’s just fine.

I would tell you how all of us are doing just fine now four years later. But it doesn’t sound fine to most people when you say it out loud. We are fine by all outward appearances now, and that’s what matters most, doesn’t it? The watered down version for public consumption is that we get up everyday, we go about the day in much the same way we used to, and we have developed new dreams and goals. The difference now is that there is a very big hole where our hearts used to be, and it is covered over by a very tender, very large, somewhat healing, scar. But we are all fine. We are not on emotional life support anymore. Healing is happening. Finally. Slowly.

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All my life I have been able to dream in sleep. Very vivid dreams. I used to be able to recall at least one dream a night most of the time. Then after the discovery of my husband’s affairs I stopped dreaming. It was as if there had been this whole inner life of beauty, fantasy, and imagination one day, and darkness the next. I was to learn later that my brain couldn’t process what happened to me, which was one reason I developed PTSD. It seems my brain couldn’t process it in sleep either. So the dreams just disappeared. Something else taken from me. Last night, I had my first real dream in 4 years. It was horrifying. Now I know why I wasn’t allowed to dream, my brain was protecting me from myself.

Like most dreams, not everything makes sense, dreams are spoken in the language of symbols and are usually a metaphor for something that is far more significant than it appears at first glance. We dream to process the events of the day. For the first time in 4 years, here is how my brain was able to process the madness of what can only be described as a sociopathic act…

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I had just found a taxi to take me home, from what must have been a trip because there was luggage. We were heading down the beautiful palm tree line coast towards home when all of a sudden there was a traffic jam just minutes from home. I could even see my house from here.  We were the first car stopped in the traffic jam. So I had a front row seat to what we were all about to witness. I looked up from the back seat of the car to see my house begin to slide off the edge of the cliff it was built on. It was a gorgeous house, perfect in every way. Large and beautifully landscaped, with a view I had longed for all my life of the beach and the crystal blue ocean below.  It seemed to be my dream house. I sensed that it was something we had worked all of our lives to build together. But it seemed to be on rollers. Easily moved. And it was moving now towards the edge of the cliff, ever so slowly. As the house was sliding towards the edge of the cliff the outer wall gave way to reveal my children inside the house. They were scared and clutching each other, I couldn’t tell for sure from how far away I was from them, but their body language told me they were sobbing.  I screamed for someone to save them! “Please save my children! Oh God! Do not let them die!”  As I was screaming, emergency vehicles suddenly appeared out of no where, and they all seemed baffled about what to do. Nobody seemed to know who, or what, was causing this disaster, which kept them all paralyzed from knowing where to start to help.  My children were terrified. Finally, a hook and ladder fire truck lifted a fireman up to them from below. I was relieved as I saw them being rescued! But as he was loading my children on to the ladder to save them, more of the house was now being pushed over the edge on top of them, burying all of them alive. I was crying hysterically at this point. I tried to get out of the taxi but the doors were locked and I was forced to watch what happened next as friends, family, and neighbors all came to help save my children and my house. Everyone who tried to help was either driven over the edge by the moving house or buried under the rubble from below. My husband was nowhere to be seen. Was he missing? Was he in the house? Did he die in this disaster too? I kept trying to get out of the taxi, my hands were now bleeding from the attempt. I watched helplessly as each and every person who mattered to me was buried alive by my house as the last wall went over the edge on top of them. When the dust settled I saw my husband standing at the edge of the cliff with his hands on his hips. It was so chilling to that he would do such a devastating thing to so many people. I just stared at him in disbelief  for a few seconds and then I passed out.

I startled awake with tears running down my cheeks. It was the first time I had cried in my sleep for over a year. And then following wakefulness, came the familiar pain gripping my heart that I had felt everyday for at least two years. I thought I was having a heart attack again. No. It was only my heart breaking in two…for the millionth time.

Then I remembered it is the 2nd anniversary of the finalization of my divorce from him. It’s funny what the body remembers when the mind would like to forget. I don’t know if I love that my dreaming has returned. But I am grateful.  it’s a sign that healing is taking place. It will be interesting to process this dream and trying and figure out what it all means. I am sure you can probably guess some of it. At least my brain is finally healing enough to process the terror I have felt over the last 4 years. At least my brain thinks it’s safe enough now to dream and to process. I have, at least healed that much. Maybe that does mean I am fine after all. At the very least, I am headed towards “fine” so maybe when someone asks me how I am, now I can say, “I’m fine,” without feeling like its a lie.

To celebrate my healing, I think I will have a cupcake for breakfast. And that is fine!

Stay Strong!  Be Sweet!

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LDS Dating After Betrayal Trauma (PTSD)

fc3f8fbe75ca231aee3985d44ff3089fIt’s been over six months since I stopped going to Single Adult Activities. I didn’t have very much fun and the whole experience was, quite frankly, depressing. I made a single girl friend who invited me to start going to the activities with her.  I thought it was safe enough to have a “wingman” so I agreed to venture out into the church singles scene for the first time in over 40 years.  She was fun and she knew most people, so it was fun getting to know her friends and being introduced to new people. So far so good.

The problems for me, began when I started have panic attacks and anxiety at the events. What should have been fun, was  instead, overwhelming.  My PTSD would take over and a harmless dance became a war zone, fraught with danger and landmines. Triggers were everywhere.  Just walking into the building was a Trigger. The most prominent one was: I shouldn’t be single!  If my Ex hadn’t betrayed me I wouldn’t even be here!  Why did this have to happen to me? How did I even get here? Then all the emotions of the trauma of betrayal would wash over me like a flood of emotions – and suddenly I was drowning.

I never shied away from meeting new people or social situations, but this was too much, especially for an empath.  I could walk into any given room of singles and suddenly feel overwhelmed by what I call, the collective “singleness cloud of pain.”  I could sense the collective “singleness cloud of pain” before I even opened the door. It was a thousand feelings of grief over lost love, through either death or divorce, coming from hundreds of people gathered in the same room. It was stifling! Each of them were at the event in the hopes of trying to find someone, anyone, to ease their own cloud of pain.  If in that moment, I added my own pain into the mix, it became unbearable very quickly.  I would barely arrive at the event, with hopes of having some fun, only to be greeted with this innate feeling that I should not be there, I didn’t belong there, how did I end up in this group of people whose common denominator was profound loss?  I would feel the hot tears well up behind my eyes, ready to spill down my freshly primped face.  The urge to run was intense.  Luckily, I usually came with girlfriends, so I had to stay.  I forced myself to stay, and like it. I reminded myself of a child who is forced to take bitter medicine – it tastes horrible, but it’s good for me!  I would choke down the tears and not make my friends feel guilty for having their own fun.  I dutifully danced with the souls brave enough to ask me, I would have pleasant chit-chat with people around me, I made a herculean effort to make my own fun, but all I wanted to do was go home, get in my pajamas and pull the blanket over my head!

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Why was this so painful?

The LDS Singles in the Salt Lake and Utah Counties literally have something going on every night of the week!  It is a veritable gold mine for the lonely and single. There is plenty to do, lots of opportunities to socialize and mingle.  I could go “have fun” every night of the week if I wanted.  But I did not want.  It was too much on my emotions, feelings, and psyche to just manage to attend something once a week.  All summer I tried to force myself to become a bona-fide single woman. I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t wish away, deny, or pretend that I couldn’t feel the common thread of sadness from everyone who was there. Instead of “I see dead people,” for me it was “I feel broken hearts.”  It was too much.  So I stopped going last September.

From what I understand from talking to my therapist and other singles, my reaction isn’t that uncommon.  An overwhelming number of singles, especially Sisters, report; “I just couldn’t do it.”  I don’t blame them.  Neither could I.

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Then an amazing thing happened.  I met someone.  He likes to dance.  I like to dance.  So he came into town and we went to a dance, or two, together.  It’s amazing how having a date insulated me from all the sadness in the room.  I could be there and have fun, real fun!  I could enjoy dancing with a man who loved being there with me.  It was heaven! Now that I am actually dating someone, I am so glad there are so many singles activities in my area.  It gives us a place to go to engage in wholesome and uplifting activities together while we get to know each other better.  And I feel better about bringing my own happiness and positive energy in to a space that needs that boost.  Being there is finally good.

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I had a lot of guilt from people close to me to just “get over it,” or “you will find someone better.”  I played the guilt trip in my head by saying to myself, “what if my person is at the dance tonight and I don’t go?” Even that wasn’t enough to make me go, until I was ready. People close to you mean well, they have your best interests at heart, but they can’t know when you are ready. Only you can know that!

So here is my bottomline, Singles Activities may not be for you, right at this moment.  But give it an honest try.  If it’s not for you right now, I totally get that!  But think about trying again later.  It can be good place to be, when the timing is right.  For the recently traumatized, that timing may take a little while.  Be kind to yourself.  Healing takes time.  Trying on your single suit might take even more time.

When it’s right, you will know.

 

Here are a couple of places you can look when you are ready:

Timpanogos Singles

Orem Singles

Lehi Singles

Salt Lake Singles

Most of them have an email list you can sign up for to receive a monthly calendar of events.

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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Surviving Valentines Day

28a385cdfa69743e10bc96da7d9049941ce50cf481d66b56abb94ca752e1572aWhat is a trigger? Triggers evoke an overwhelming feeling of panic, fear and/or anxiety associated with a memory of a traumatic event.  Triggers can come in all sorts of packaging.  Sometimes they are smells, foods, or music.  More often than not, they are events, dates or places.  Special events that you spent with your addict can become triggers after discovering they have been cheating on you.  That restaurant you went to last year on your anniversary, the hotel you found him in bed with the other woman, or Valentines Day can all become triggers. When these triggers happen it can turn a previously happy time into feeling you would rather crawl in bed and pull the covers over your head. Triggers can be paralyzing and debilitating.  Most of my triggers feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me.

One of those days for me is Valentine’s Day.

It’s good to identify your triggers in advance if at all possible.  Make a list of your most difficult triggers so you can plan how you will work through them.  The last 3 years I spent Valentine’s Day in bed, sobbing my heart out.  All I could think about was my husband spending time with other women.  And then after my divorce, it killed me to realize he was spending it with his new wife.  I never felt so alone and abandoned.  Sometimes triggers make life just SUCK!

So this year, I decided, in advance that I was not going to let Valentines Day get the best of me.  I did pretty well, until my ex decided to text me that day.  I am pretty sure he did it on purpose because the reason he gave was lame.  So be prepared for something like that to happen.  Narcs love to reach out on days like these to make sure you will feel crappy just in case you might have forgotten them.  Just be aware.

I woke up that morning determined to give myself lots of self-care and love.  Someone told me that you can be your own best love.  Like Whitney says, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all!”

I got my nails done a few days before to look like a box of chocolates.

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I took an extra long bubble bath with a lit candle. Did you know you can do a self massage? I did that!  I gave myself a facial too. Then I got super dressed up in red, a power color, for a meeting I was hosting later in the day.

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After my meeting I bought myself some flowers, since I bought them myself, I got exactly what I wanted! Then I went to get a fancy cupcake at my favorite cupcake shop, Cravings. It was a cute Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Bear Cupcake.  Super Yummy!

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I finished out the day having dinner with my favorite people – my kids and grandkids.  And guess what?  I got through the entire day without crying! It can be done with a little planning and a lot of self-care.  Being good to yourself is the key.  Rewriting the story is critical.

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You can overcome your triggers with self-care!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

The Cupcake Warrior

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From Charm to Harm

41CADJglTlL.jpgWhat is narcissism? In this landmark book on understanding narcissism you will learn all you need to know about recognizing and identifying if you are a victim of narcissistic abuse.  Narcissism and addiction go hand in hand so be sure you know if you are suffering from narcissistic abuse. The good news is that men in addiction can recover from narcissim if they get serious about recovery.

From Charm to Harm: And Everything Else in Between with a Narcissist

“You try to understand how another human being could psychologically terrorize you in the manner that the Narcissist you were with did to you. You loved this person and they SAID they loved you back. They participated in the relationship and it seemed like ‘normal’ reciprocation as far as them loving you back. BUT today you are looking at this relationship and wondering HOW did this turn around in such a hideous manner that you feel so lost, so confused, so broken, and disabled. What did you do wrong, why did this person that you loved unconditionally now seems to hate you and blame you and WHAT IS THE REASON? They have probably moved on very quickly and are with someone new and they are saying that they are in love and it is amazing. They are also saying that they basically had to run from YOU because you were impossible to deal with, or perhaps you have mental health issues, OR you abused them. You feel frozen in time, very vulnerable, and in shock or better yet traumatized from this and you want to dig through all of the layers and understand this so you can move on, BUT YOU JUST CAN’T SEEM TO DO SO.

Family and friends are there to support you but more than likely it is to give you a small pat on the back and say time will heal your wounds, or you HAVE to move on, OR how could you stay in this relationship for as long as you have if it was this bad. When you try to tell your story it is so incredulous that most people seem to be in shock over the allegations that you are proposing about the relationship. In turn you only feel like you are the problem and you blame yourself even more and MAYBE you start to believe that you were the problem just like that Narcissist said.

You feel like your spirit is gone and your whole belief system has been thrown out the door about life. Where do you start, how do you turn off the many negative messages? How do you reclaim your spirit and join life again? Who do you go to for the help that you need and WHY is this taking so long to get over? Every day is a struggle and you want this to stop NOW and you want to move on.

You have heard ‘things’ your Narcissist has said about you to the very people you love in your life and now they may be challenging you or questioning this from the Narcissist’s point of view. You are defending yourself when you shouldn’t have to. Again you are feeling you are the problem here and all of this has become insurmountable.

Well I totally believe you, I totally understand what you are going through and I am going to explain this abuse in a manner to educate you, as well as help you embrace this in a manner to achieve closure on your own. I am going to try to explain as much of this as I possibly can to help you get through this and achieve that “Ah Ha’ moment where you do ‘GET THIS’. I am going to do this in a manner that goes beyond the clinical definitions and put it out there in a raw manner with real definitions and explanations from the perspective of a person that has gone through this and returned back to a normal lifestyle. With each and every separate topic I am going to keep bringing you back to some of the same specific points I may have already covered in a manner that not only defines a specific situation but constantly reconnects it to the bigger picture! I will repeat and connect thoughts in each chapter because there is no real ‘rhyme or reason’ to this abuse, only the truth and facts that every target/victim of this abuse experiences the SAME thing. That is what I am trying to connect you to! Each chapter is its own separate story so you can read a chapter at a time, return and connect to a new definition that brings you back to a little more of the truth and understanding the total picture step by step.”

Order this book here.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet

The Cupcake Warrior

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Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life

51Ql7JitBQLUntil I read this book, I did not know I was a Chump, living in Chump Nation!  I thought I was “special” and could save my husband from himself.  If I could just come up with the right thing to say I would be able to talk some sense into him!  Not so! I am not special and my ex-husband is not any different than all the other husbands who did this to their wives.  If you need a swift kick in the butt in order to wise up, this book is for you!  I loved it. I am so much wiser for reading it.

I love that the author has been in this space where I am now!  She even calls herself Chump Lady.

Note: She uses colorful language.  If you are offended by the f-word, you might not to read this.

Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life is a no-nonsense self-help guide for anyone who has ever been cheated on. Here’s advice not based on saving your relationship after infidelity—but saving your sanity.

When it comes to cheating, a lot of the attention is focused on cheaters—their unmet needs or their challenges with monogamy. But Tracy Schorn (aka Chump Lady) lampoons such blameshifting and puts the focus squarely on the-cheated-upon (chumps) and their needs. Combining solid advice that champions self-respect, along with hilarious cartoons satirizing the pomposity of cheaters, Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life offers a fresh voice for chumps who want (and need) a new message about infidelity. This book will offer advice on Stupid sh*t cheaters say and how to respond, Rookie mistakes of the recently chumped and how to disarm your fears, Why chumps take the blame and how to protect yourself, and more.

Full of snark, sass, and real wisdom about how to bounce back after the gut blow of betrayal, Schorn is the friend who guides you through this nightmare and gives you hope for a better life ahead.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

The Cupcake Warrior

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Runaway Husbands

Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal

I found this book and website from a friend on facebook.  It turns out this is a thing! Men who just decide out of the blue to run off with other women and abandon their wives and families isn’t a fluke.  I just could not believe there were so many women in my same boat.  And what’s more, there was an over abundance of these men who have addictions.  If you are new in the process of betrayal, this is the book for you! There is also a facebook support group. Come join me there.51v9n+aYMTL

Based on a study of over 400 women worldwide, Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal, is the first book to explore and offer healing strategies to women whose lives have been turned upside down by Wife Abandonment Syndrome. Wife Abandonment Syndrome is a pattern of behavior on the part of a husband who leaves his wife out-of-the-blue from what she believed was a happy marriage. Following his sudden departure, he replaces the caring he’d typically shown her with anger and aggression. He often moves directly in with a girlfriend, leaving his bewildered wife totally devastated. Written by family therapist Vikki Stark who was herself affected by Wife Abandonment Syndrome, Runaway Husbands helps women understand what motivated their loving husbands to turn into uncaring strangers and provides them with the tools they need to move forward and rebuild their lives in new and unexpected ways.

Written by family therapist Vikki Stark, who herself experienced Wife Abandonment Syndrome, and chock full of stories from the women in the study, Runaway Husbands has three main goals:

•Explanations – It helps women understand how a man who appeared to be a loving husband could morph overnight into an uncaring stranger
•Strategies – It provides women with the tools they need to push through the suffering and move forward to rebuild their lives, often in new and unexpected ways.
•Prevention – It will help women who are in happy marriages learn how to safeguard their marriages and recognize warning signs that may indicate trouble.

The focus of Runaway Husbands is on helping women turn the crisis of abandonment into an opportunity for empowerment and growth. Although it describes the difficult experiences of abandoned wives in detail, it also provides tools for recovery and recounts many stories of women who fought their way to a better future.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

The Cupcake Warrior

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Choose Joy

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I am at the point in my healing where I am sick of feeling horrible. I want to stop thinking about him, what he is doing, how he is feeling, how he could do this to us.  You know what?  It doesn’t matter anymore.  I cannot change him!  He is a lost cause.  I cannot save him.  I need to stop trying.  I need to choose joy!

I came out of the crap storm relatively ok.  I still have my kids and they love me.  I still have my grandchildren in my life.  My friends and family support me.  I have the love and support of my church family.  Compared to him and what he has been left with (her), I have everything! I need to choose joy!

I need to stop focusing on losing him.  He is only one piece, and not a very good one, of a very blessed and full life.  He is not the end-all, be-all, of a my life.  He left. I need to let him. He made his choice.  I need to choose joy!  So JOY is the focus of everything I will do in 2018.  And in that spirit, my posts from here on out will be on how I am choosing to heal, things that work for me, and how I choose joy.  It’s time to move on…

 

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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10 Things I Love About You

I have been thinking a lot about dating lately.  I have been reading books and articles online about what I want to do in this new phase of my life.  It is scary to me to be back in the dating world.  I never thought I would be here again.  And after 38 years of marriage, its been a long, long time since I “dated.” I am really not looking forward to it at all to tell the truth. But as long as I am here in this place I might as well dream BIG! I can afford to be very picky.  One of the luxuries I have afforded myself is that I don’t NEED to get married again.  And I am not interested in getting married again unless I can find the right person.  But who is the “right person?” How would I define him and how do I find him?

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I was talking about this recently with a friend and she shared with me some advice she was given.  I thought it was pretty good advice, so good, that I wanted to share it with you now. The advice is pretty simple, but profound:

Make a list of 10 or so qualities that you want in a partner…and then go date.  30 dates in 6 months to be exact.  The idea is that you are dating with a purpose.  You want to find the guy who has all of your “10 things.” You can do that by dating a lot of different people and taking inventory.  Remembering as you date, that you are looking for something specific.  The list also allows you to let go of certain people before you get too attached to them if they don’t measure up. I love this idea so much that I have come up with my own list of “10 Things I Love About You.”

I have given this list a lot of thought and prayer.  It’s a good idea to tweek the list as you go when you figure out some things are less or more important than others. But the underlying idea is stop you from compromising what you need or want too much.  This is a critical point, espeically for an empath.  Being an empathetic person means that you are predisposed to acquiescing your needs for someone else’s. I know I have had this problem.  My ex-husband spent a lot of time an energy turning me into what he needed me to be, and very little time become the man I needed him to be.

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10 Things I Love About You

  1. Righteousness – He needs to be a righteous priesthood holder who honors his priesthood and respects and honors the role of women.  Holding a current temple recommend is require. He will take to heart D&C 121:34-40 and seek to put it into practice. He will pray with me, study the scriptures with me, and attend the temple often with me. I crave deep, meaningful discussions on gospel related topics. A spiritual connection is a must!
  2. Put’s Me First – “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it.” This says it all for me. I don’t want to be second, third or fourth behind work, church callings or anything else.  The only person who is more impotant than me should be God.  I deserve to be first.
  3. Has Never Cheated on His Wife or Girlfriends – This one is a deal breaker for me.  I need to be able to trust him and cheaters are just not trustworthy. (see #4) Being faithful is a big deal for me because I NEVER want to go through this again.  I can’t. I won’t survive it. I need this high level of integrity.
  4. Does NOT Have a Porn or Sex Addiction – Along with number 3 this can also be a deal breaker.  The only exception to this is if he is practicing recovery and has sustained that for 5 years. If he is a former addict he will need to demonstrate that he has had a complete lifestyle change, and has sustained that over time, and is committed to never returning to a life of addiction.
  5. Humility – He can admit when he is wrong, and is quick to apologize.  He is humble enough to provide me with the safety and trust I need, which means he will let me check his computer, cell phone, and social media to ease any of my worries.
  6. Communication – His communication style fosters connection.  He is easy to talk to and is straight forward in his intentions.  He doesn’t use tactics like manipulation, sarcasm, putting me down in front of others, or making jokes at my expense. His communication with me reflects his real feelings for me and his words are spoken from a place of love.
  7. Speaks My Love Language – My love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.  It’s important to me that any man who is interested in me knows how to speak these two love languages, frequently. Also, I am a hopeless romantic so that is very important to me. I want to be romanced. I want to be surprised and get flowers for no reason. 
  8. Compatible with an INFP -INFP personalities are true idealists, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better. While they may be perceived as calm, reserved, or even shy, INFPs have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine. Comprising just 4% of the population, the risk of feeling misunderstood is unfortunately high for the INFP personality type – but when they find like-minded people to spend their time with, the harmony they feel will be a fountain of joy and inspiration.  INFPs do everything they can to be the ideal partner, staying true to themselves and encouraging their partners to do the same. INFPs take their time in becoming physically intimate so that they can get to know their partners, using their creativity to understand their wants and needs, and adapt to them. People with this personality type are generous in their affection, with a clear preference for putting the pleasure of their partners first – it is in knowing that their partners are satisfied that INFPs truly feel the most pleasure. I need to be understood! He needs to “get me.”
  9. Sense of Fun and Spontaneous – I have learned I really love doing new things, having fun, and being a little bit spontaneous.  One thing I really love is dancing.  I’ve missed it. I want that back in my life.  Spontaneous dancing in the kitchen is a must! If you can sing to me, even better! I also want someone who will go to places like Disneyland with me and not sit on the bench. Being engaged  and present during family activities is a must!
  10. Loves My Family – I was not the only one betrayed.  My children and grandchildren were betrayed as well.  The infidelity of my husband left a big hole in all of our hearts.  “New guy”needs to understand that when he marries me he gets a whole family who needs the healing that his love can provide.

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It goes without saying that I am committed to do these things too. I cannot expect something of anyone that I won’t also expect of myself.  I want these things to be reciprocal. Many of them were not in my marriage or lost somewhere along the way.  It’s time for me to be picky and to have what I want and need. And what if he isn’t out there?  I will be content to wait…into the next life if I have to…no more compromising for me. I’ve given up too much already. 

Be Strong, Stay Sweet

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Celestial Dating Rules

Now that I am single at this point in my life, and I am faced with dating again, I find it important to define my standards for dating.  This came to my attention when a man I was dating asked me to come to his house to watch a movie…alone.  The invitation made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure why but after thinking about it for a while I remembered these dating rules that I used to teach to the youth when I was an Early Morning Seminary Teacher for the church. Sure enough, rule #7, Never go into the house or apartment of the opposite sex alone.  So I shared these rules with the man I was dating.  It turns out that he had other things on his mind, because I never heard from him again, which is fine with me! I kind of feel like these rules will pull the weeds out of the dating field for me and help me to eliminate potential problems right at the beginning.

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Now, you might feel like these dating rules do not apply to “older people.”  I would like to direct you to rule number 17 – Never think you are the exception.  So laugh at me all you want for committing to dating on this level, but the kind of man I want to attract won’t have a problem with them at all.  After everything I have been through there is too much at stake to make stupid mistakes.

It turns out that many singles in the church struggle with remaining chaste.  It’s sad but true and I am not interested in being one of those.  So to any of my former students, I want you to know that I am dedicated to practicing what I preach and will abide by the same rules I taught all of them so many years ago…

Preface to the 17 Dating Rules

David of old, choice in the sight of God, allowed his eternal soul to fall into the depths of hell.  Can we say that God has been with us as much as He was with David in his youth?  Can we claim the faith in God that David showed?  Yet, David fell!  We can fall too, no matter how choice we are.  To fail to understand that is to have fallen prey to one of Satan’s biggest lies.

Why did David Fall?  He failed to obey his God.  In doing this he physically placed himself in a position which could allow sin to strike.  Had David turned away his head and not invited Bathsheba to his home, he likely would be exalted today.

I have looked into the tear-filled, sorrowful eyes of too many good latter-day saint youth involved in moral transgressions not to know how easy it is to fall.  I have asked myself time and time again why some fall and others do not.  Surely such a question would require a very complicated answer.  Yet, after many hundreds of hours of interviews, it became obvious that those who had fallen into transgression, had simply made some common errors.

Time after time, physical surroundings, circumstances, and activities were all repeated, and all seemed to set the stage for sin to seize young lives.  Bitterness, regret, sorrow, and a feeling of despair quickly replaced excitement and enthusiasm.

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The message of the following rules is plain and simple:  You CAN and must be the one to control your life in order to be free from sin.

Where you are, who you are with, where you are going, what you are doing, and what time you are doing it, are all controlled by you, and will help or hinder you.

Following many interviews, it became apparent, that the key to maintaining moral chastity was in preventive action.  President Kimball put it this way:

“The secret of the good life is in protection and prevention.  Those who yield to evil are usually those who have placed themselves in a vulnerable position.”

To help substantiate what I have written, I have used many quotes from President Kimball, but much of the counsel comes from hours of interviews with young people.  To follow these rules will require humility and spiritual strength added to a desire to be valiant.

Prayer, scripture study, church attendance and giving service to others are all necessary prerequisites to having the strength to follow the counsel.  These rules are strict, but, make no mistake, so is the Lord strict!  The rewards of a chaste life are far greater than the sacrifices necessary to follow this counsel.  There is hardly anything greater to assist you in obtaining the Celestial Kingdom than to be worthy to marry the right person a t the proper time in you life, in the Temple.

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Seventeen Rules for Celestial Dating

1.      No dating until age 16; no single dating until 18.
2.      Missions for boys before serious dating.
3.      Do not date nonmembers or unworthy members.
4.      Do not participate in kissing-hugging sessions.
5.      No French kissing.
6.      Do not park.
7.      Never, never go into a home or an apartment alone.
8.      Never, never go into a bedroom.
9.      No back rubs.
10.    Do not lie down by each other or on top of each other.
11.    Attend only wholesome activities.
12.    No immodest dress.
13.    Date in couples or groups most often.
14.    No late hours.
15.    Each partner should be responsible for his own actions.
16.    Discuss dating rules with partners.
17.    Do not think that you are the exception

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Explanation of the Seventeen Rules for Celestial Dating:

1.  NO DATING UNTIL AGE 16.
President Kimball tells us, “Any dating or  pairing off in social contacts should be postponed until at least the age of 16 or older, and even then there should be much judgement used in selections and in the seriousness.”  President Kimball goes on to counsel us that beginning the dating process too soon almost always brings young immature marriages or immorality and sin.  He says that early dating is often done with parental approval, “yet it is near criminal to subject a tender child to the temptations of maturity.” Remember,   NO STEADY DATING  until after missions.  It is an excellent idea to double or group date for most of your dating until at least the age of 18.  (Quotes in order:  Ensign,  Feb.  1975,  p.  4:  Miracle of Forgiveness,  p. 223)

2.   MISSIONS BEFORE SERIOUS DATING.
President Kimball advises, “Every boy should have been saving money for his mission and be free from any and all entanglements so he will be worthy.  When he is returned from his mission at 21, he should feel free to begin to get acquainted and to date.”  He tells us further that,  “. . . one can have all the blessings if he is in control and takes the experiences in proper turn, first some limited social get-acquainted contacts, then his mission, then his courting, then his temple marriage and his schooling and his family, then his life’s work,”  A word to you young ladies of the church:  You should always encourage a young man to fulfill his mission.  NEVER be the cause of a young man deciding to stay home for any reason, for you will be held accountable!  Missions for young men of the church supersede marriage in importance from ages 19 to 25 (mission age). (Quotes:  Ensign,  Feb.  1975,  p. 4)

3.  DO NOT DATE NON-MENBERS OR UNWORTHY MEMBERS.  NO MISSIONARY WORK ONE-ON-ONE WITH MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX.
I do not believe that the Lord would expect the choice young people of His Church to find their eternal mates among nonmembers or inactive members!  It does not make sense.  He would not ask us to go against both His Counsel through the ages or against the counsel of his prophets.  President Kimball tells us, : . . . clearly, right marriage begins with right dating . . . therefore, this warning comes with great emphasis.  DO NOT take the chance of dating nonmembers, or members who are untrained and faithless.:  Do not rationalize this by saying that you are doing missionary work.  The Lord does not instruct us to do missionary work in romantic relationships.  This kind of friendshipping should be done in groups.  Missionary work must be done without hazard of emotional romantic involvement that leads to conditions which confuse the potential candidate as to his purpose in investigating or joining the Church,  I am quite aware that we have faithful members of the Church who have joined as a result of exposure to the Church by their spouse.  We are grateful for them; however, for every success story, there are numerous tragic stories of members and nonmembers alike being hurt by such,  Have the faith to follow the prophet in this most important matter. (Quote: The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 241)

4.  DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN “KISSING-HUGGING” SESSIONS.
This is called “making out” or “necking”.   I am not talking about the serious sin of “petting”, but the lengthy make-out sessions that many feel are “okay” as long as you do not let it go too far.  President Kimball teaches us, ” . . . among the most common sexual sins our young people commit are necking and petting.  Not only do these improper relations often lead to fornication, pregnancy, and abortions—all ugly sins—but in and of themselves they are pernicious evils . . . “.   Necking or making out, the kissing-hugging session, is wrong IN AND OF ITSELF, not just because it may lead to something worse,  I am not saying that there isn’t a proper time in dating relationship to kiss.  There is a proper time and place.  President Kimball advises us, ” . . . kissing would be saved at least until these later hallowed courtship days when they could be free from sex and have a holy meaning.”  In an address delivered to RETURNED MISSIONARIES  (not high school-aged people, but those in the courting years),  President Kimball said, ” . . . a kiss is an evidence of affection.  A kiss is an evidence of love, not an evidence of lust—but it can be.  Don’t ever let a kiss in your courtship spell lust.  Necking and petting are lustful;  they are not love . . . I don’t mind your kissing each other after you have had several dates;  [remember who he is speaking to here–returned missionaries],  but not the ‘Hollywood kiss,’ not the kiss of passion, but the kiss of affection, and there won’t be any trouble.  Now remember these things.”(Quotes in order:  The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 65, Ibid; p. 231;  An address delivered by Elder Spencer Kimball Jan. 2, 1959.)

5.  NO FRENCH KISSING.
This type of conduct is far too intimate and is extremely suggestive.   A French kiss is the “Hollywood” kiss that President Kimball described above.

6.  DO NOT PARK.
Especially in the high school years, parking in an automobile has been the down fall of many choice young people.  The prophet, President Kimball, tells us that, “in interviewing repenting young folks, as well as some older ones, I am frequently told that the couple met their defeat in the dark, at late hours, in secluded areas …the car was most often the confessed seat of the difficulty,  It became their brothel.”  BEWARE.  Often I have found that a couple originally parked to discuss a problem or work out an argument—not to make out—however, after the problem was resolved, they kissed to make-up and things developed from there.  It does not matter the reason; DO NOT PARK.  After a date, GO HOME!  Once you get home, go into the house, ALONE!  Just don’t ever place yourself where something could happen.  Remember President Kimball’s statement, ” . . . those who yield to evil are usually those who have placed themselves in a vulnerable position.”

7.   NEVER, NEVER GO INTO A HOME OR AN APARTMENT ALONE.
I estimate that 80% to 85% of the young people I interviewed, who were involved in a moral transgression of any sort, got involved in a home or an apartment.  This is especially true of college age members who have their own apartments.  If you would live just this one rule ALWAYS, you would significantly reduce your chances of ever falling.  If you are in a home or apartment with others and they slowly all leave except for you and your partner, then ONE OF YOU should leave at that time also!  DO NOT underestimate the power of Satan to use your natural drives, if you place yourself in a vulnerable position enough times YOU WILL FALL.   Don’t give Satan a chance . . . that is all he needs!

8.  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GO INTO A BEDROOM.
Bedrooms are not for entertaining friends of the opposite sex;  not even to listen to records, watch TV, do homework or etc.  Do not let a bedroom become a familiar place to be with members of the opposite sex.

9.  NO BACK RUBS.
Becoming too familiar with each other physically offers liberties NOT entitled to single couples, and is wrong.  Back rubs hove too often led to more intimate acts.

10.  DO NOT LIE DOWN BY EACH OTHER OR ON TOP OF EACH OTHER.
I’m sorry to have to be so blunt, but lying down to watch TV, lying down in the park, on the beach or wherever, places you in a position that is not needed and is spiritually unhealthy.  When you watch TV, SIT UP!  When you go on a picnic. Sit up!  When you have a good night kiss (at the proper time in a relationship) don’t recline to do it.  ALSO, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER lie on top of each other.  This is absolutely wrong.  And, this advise applies to all young people – especially engaged couples.

11.  ATTEND ONLY WHOLESOME ACTIVITIES.
“X”, “R”, and most “PG-13” and “PG” rated movies are NOT appropriate to see on dates or at any time.   President Kimball advises us that, “… danger spots likely to have most appeal among the youth, and which should be shunned as one would shun a poisonous serpent, are undesirable movies and improper TV programs.”  I have had many Church members (young and old) tell me that they just “overlook” the filth in a movie and not let it affect them adversely.  That’s IMPOSSIBLE!  You cannot go to a movie or to any entertainment which portrays sexual, violent or verbal pornographic material, as do most movies today, and not be affected and spiritually hurt.  It affects you whether you like it or not!  In fact, if you find that this kind of material does not offend you, then this is a sure sign that you have already been spiritually damaged in your life and don’t even know it.   We should avoid drive-in movies for dates.  President Kimball, in talking of drive-in movies, said the following:”There in the car, in dark privacy, with suggestive, voluptuous acting on the screen, was Satan’s near-perfect setting for sin.  With outward appearances of decency and respectability, with an absence of holy immoral acts – acts which would at least be much less likely in the living room or in the formal theater on Main Street.”  Further, if you find yourself at a party where alcoholic beverages are being served, where the lighting is poor, where couples are making out in the corners, where drugs are being used, or anything else not conducive to maintaining the spirit, LEAVE!  When you are at dances be careful of your posture on slow dances (NO BEAR HUGGING AT ALL even though everyone else [Mormon’s included] are doing it), and be careful of your intimations on fast dances.  Now, please never go to bars – even just to dance or listen to the music.  If you frequent bars, you will fall into serious transgressions.  I HAVE YET TO FIND AN EXCEPTION TO THAT STATEMENT.  (Quotes in order:  The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 229; Ibid, p. 225)

12.  NO IMMODEST DRESS.
Dress that is modest and becoming a LDS young man or young lady is most important at all times and is most important when dating.  Girls, immodest clothing includes two-piece swimming suits or ones with low necklines and french-cut sides, halter tops, short shorts, tight-fitting clothes, short skirts, low necklines, etc.  Boys, keep your shirts on and buttoned up!  (Even in the summer)  President Kimball tells us that those who do not actively resist the evil influence of immodesty will “absorb and foster it.”  He goes on to say, “I see some of our LDS mothers, wives, and daughters wearing dresses extreme and suggestive in style.  Even some fathers encourage it.  I wonder if our sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered or dress in tight-fitting, body-revealing, form-fitting sweaters … We cannot overemphasize immodesty as one of the pitfalls to be avoided if we would shun temptation and keep ourselves clean.”  On occasions, I have found young ladies who wore things which were immodest and did not realize it.  ALL looked well in the mirror as they stood there with shoulders back and standing up straight.  What they did not realize is that they don’t stand straight all day – they sit, they stoop, they lean over, and their clothes become immodest.  Make sure all of your clothing is modest for all occasions. One of the most disappointing times I had as a Bishop was when I took the ward members swimming and saw the immodest suits the girls wore.  After that occasion, I had to announce for the girls to wear a T-shirt over their suits at future ward parties.  How unfortunate that any LDS girl would own a swimming suit that she could not use for LDS functions.  Girls, as hard as it may be, search until you can find a modest swimming suit or make your own! (Quote:  The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 226.)

13.  DATE IN COUPLES OR GROUPS MOST OFTEN.
Even after the age of 18, it is desirable to date in couples or groups.  Dating in groups is not only safer, but you will find that it is much more enjoyable.  You will also get to know things about your date that you could not find out any other way because with more people, there is naturally more conversation.  As we get older, we tend to think that we are “above” group dating.  This is a serious error.  Do not make single dating the largest portion of your dating.  Sometimes when we start to like someone quite a bit, we tend to single date almost exclusively . . . this is a dangerous mistake.

14.  NO LATE HOURS.  We should be in from our dates by 12:30 (college age) and 12:00 (high school age) or sooner.  Most proper functions will end in time for you to go straight home and be in on time.  Do not make it a habit to be out late or up late for that matter.  Not all moral problems occur late at night, but many, many do!  When we are tired and have become more relaxed with each other through the evening, it is very easy to let down our guard . . . that is all Satan needs.  Resistance seems to be lower at night, so make it a habit to be in early from your dates.  THIS DOES NOT MEAN that if you go to one of your homes you can stay up longer than this hour.  You both should be at your respective homes at this time.

15.  EACH PARTNER SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OWN ACTIONS.  Dating is a two-way arrangement.  You are each responsible for your own actions.  Never allow another person to control your actions.  Never say to yourself, “this young man or woman is so good that they could never do anything wrong.  Whatever they would do would be okay.”  Anyone can make errors.  You must have firmly planted in your mind right from wrong, and do not let ANYONE talk you into anything that would not meet the Savior’s approval.  Know exactly what you are going to do on a date before you go.  To go on a date without a plan may sound harmless, or even exciting, but it can lead to trouble very easily.

16.  DISCUSS DATING RULES WITH PARTNERS.  As you date, especially with those you really like, discuss these rules and your standards so that you each understand what you expect from yourself and your relationship with each other.  Set the stops now while your minds are clear and unhampered by emotions.  It is virtually impossible to set them in the middle of a passion-filled night.  If a dating partner is not willing to follow these rules or thinks they are too strict, DROP THEM FLAT!  Never let your standards relax . . . even for what may seem to be the best young man or woman you have ever known!  If you want the help of the Lord and his blessings, follow his counsel.

17.  DO NOT THINK THAT YOU ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THESE RULES.  Don’t say to yourself,  “Boy do I know so-and-so who needs these rules.”  The rules are for you!  To think that it could never happen to you is a major error of gigantic proportions.  IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU.   It can happen to you, to Bishops, to stake Presidents or anyone who places themselves in such a position.  Rules are for everyone.  I remember clearly a visiting general authority counseling the bishops in my stake to never interview a woman in the ward alone in the building, and to not give women or young ladies rides somewhere alone.  Why are there rules for bishops?  Because they too can fall!  I believe that, and I followed that advice.  On cold winter days, after interviewing a young lady in the Institute building, I would drive back to work and pass her on the road as she walked back to the dorm.  RULES ARE FOR EVERYONE.  Don’t ever think,  “Oh, I would never do that so it is okay if I go into an apartment alone, or park, or whatever.”  This is an open invitation to Satan to prove you wrong!  And, he will!  The biggest error of all is to think that you are an exception to one of these rules.

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Now these are not all of the rules we might follow in dating.  If you have good parents, they may have similar or other rules like these.  They may limit the  number of dates you have in a month, or require that you go out with a variety of partners rather than not just one.  But, I have never talked to a young person yet who has committed a moral transgression of ANY kind who has not broken several of these rules.

Remember, breaking these rules interferes with Celestial Dating and falling in love.  They DO NOT bind you down, but rather free you from the things that cause countless heartaches. . . things that have contributed to many a Celestial candidate falling to a lower kingdom.

By:  President Steven H. and Anita Satterfield, Pocatello, Idaho

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Financial Speaking…

There are always unintended consequences to everything…especially to addiction. And more often than not, it is to the family of the addict – not the addict himself. A separation or divorce from an addict is especially painful and draining, financially speaking .  I debated about sharing this part of my life with you because it is so personal and private. In the end, there is nothing personal and private about addiction.  It impacts all of us, profoundly, and in so many ways. So if my intention in writing this blog is to help others who are going through what I have been through, then this is a critical piece of the puzzle that you need to know.  Most women do not know how to protect themselves financially.  I didn’t.  My lawyer did.  But even she didn’t think of everything.  That is what this blog post is about – thinking of everything.  Life is not fair.  It is especially not fair in a divorce from an addict.

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Let me start at the beginning.

When I first separated from my ex-husband he was in a space of sadness and contrition.  He seemed willing to “take care of me” until we could find our way back together.  Or so it seemed. He said things to me like, “I will always take care of you. You will not have to worry about money. I did this, it’s my responsibility to “take care of you.” Initially, he asked me to take less money so that it would not be a financial burden on him while he “worked out his recovery.” Of course I wanted him to spend every spare dime he had on recovery! So I, always being willing to be manipulated, agreed to take half of what I needed to survive on. My thinking was that I could put the rest on my credit cards until we got back together.  After all, it was only going to be a few months, right? He is going to work so hard on recovery! Well a few months turned into a few years and after it was all said and done, I was left with a little over $50,000 of debt, before the divorce.

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The longer the separation lasted the more I worried about the debt I was creating because of his choices and he seemed less and less interested in helping me out.  I was stuck.  AND worse, I was at his mercy! When I would tell him I needed more money to survive his response was, “well, you agreed to this amount.  You even gave me a budget that YOU came up with.”  All true!  I did come up with a budget and I did agree to the amount.  But in the beginning I did not know what I did not know.  And he used my trusting nature against me.  Please learn from my lessons.  If you are going to separate from your husband, even for what you think is a short period of time, get professional help, hire a lawyer!  Have a lawyer or trusted advisor draw up a legal agreement, that can be amended for things that are unforeseen.

NO ONE IS EVER PREPARED FOR A DIVORCE! It is one of those life experiences you don’t pay attention to and that you don’t fully understand until you are faced with it.  Even then, the learning curve is steep and dangerous.  ESPECIALLY if you are divorcing an addict!

If I were to do it all over again, I would have had a legal separation from the beginning. It would have allowed me to learn during the separation to ask for what I really needed in case there was a divorce, and I would have been protected by someone who had my best interest at heart from the beginning.  If I had done that, I would not be where I am, financially speaking, right now. But I wasn’t really thinking like that, I was thinking I was going to get him back!  I was going at all of this from the perspective of having “good faith” in him. With an addict, you cannot afford to think in terms of “good faith.” There is no “good faith” with an addict.  They are selfish, self-centered, conceited, and totally unpredictable. AND THEY LIE!  Protect yourself until you actually SEE evidence of recovery.  All of this is counterintuitive to how you have lived with your husband in the past.  This is the person you have always relied on to take care of you and protect you.  Suddenly, he is the enemy.  It doesn’t feel right to treat him like the enemy, but that is exactly what he has become. Until he is fully in recovery, he is the enemy.  I wish someone would had told me this! I would be a lot better off today if they had.

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Also, remember that if you unwittingly take less in the separation, that could be used against you in a divorce.  Just keep that in mind. Luckily, I live in Utah and that means I am entitled to half of everything he has.  I am also entitled to alimony that equals the lifestyle I enjoyed while in the marriage.  Not all states are so generous. Know what you are entitled to and ask for everything. You won’t get it.  So just start out by ASKING FOR EVERYHING! Don’t take less to just “be nice.” We women want to be liked and get along. Don’t!  They will use that against you. My ex-husband wanted me to agree to the same amount he gave me for the separation, which was far below what was reasonable or required by law. Luckily my attorney knew this and she had my back.  But she didn’t catch everything.

The debt was one of those things.  Insurance was another.  And then there are the taxes on alimony.  These three things buried me financially.

I paid off a lot of the debt I had in the divorce, between the sale of the house and the half of his retirement I got, which wasn’t much, but I still ended up with $30k in debt!  That is no bueno.  I could barely keep up with the payments.  It was not good at all.  And guess what?  He DID NOT CARE!  After all, I was the one who ran up the debt – not his problem. Right?  That is the problem with him, he always evades accountability on a technicality.  It happens every time.  Technically, he is right.  But is he morally right?  After all, I was married to him for 38 years, that should count for some modicum of responsibility and respect, not to mention his choices.  Who knows?  It doesn’t to him and, at the moment, his is the only opinion that matters. He thinks he is “taking care” of me.

Insurance coverage was in my divorce budget to begin with, but because of all of this debt, I could not afford to actually buy the insurance.  I still can’t.  I have been without insurance for the past two and half years.  Hopefully, I will be insured again before the end of this year.

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The last thing that she did not catch or explain to me very well is the taxes on alimony.  Ladies, this is a BIG ONE.  Make sure your lawyer includes this in the separation and divorce papers.  Even though he pays taxes on his salary, you must also pay taxes on the alimony he pays you on that already taxed income.  Yes!  Alimony is taxed twice!  And you do not get to claim it as a deduction.  He does.  So the impact to your budget is that you must save back 25% of what you get in alimony and child support to pay to the government at the end of the year, or they will come after YOU!  So you will automatically lose 25% of what you thought was your budget to live on.  Make arrangements for this.  I should have been getting half of whatever he gets back on his tax returns to offset my tax burden.  I don’t.  That was a mistake.

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The good news is that I get half of his social security retirement for the rest of his life.  I wasn’t going to go after that, but I probably will now, just because. (It will help offset the taxes on the alimony.) Don’t forget this either.  If you were married for more than 10 years, you are entitled to apply for HALF of his Social Security benefits as soon as he turns 62.  You do not have to wait for him to retire or claim his benefits.  You can do it for yourself, when he turns 62.  The government requires that you receive this benefit even if you are divorced or if he is remarried.  So there is that.

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Now we come to my sad tale to tell.  The short version of a very long story is that in one year I went through the trauma of betrayal, the trauma of divorce, and now, the trauma of a bankruptcy.  Yep, bankruptcy. I am furious at my ex husband!  He caused this, and takes none of the responsibility for it!  But he will tell you that he is “taking care” of me.  After all, he pays his alimony payments on time twice a month. Isn’t that enough? But he will also tell you that he is “repenting.”  The last time I checked, when someone repents they also are required to restore the person they harmed back to wholeness.  It’s funny because when he was a Bishop he wasn’t too happy with men who treated their ex-wives the way he now treats me.  I think he used the term “jerks” to describe them. But now that it is me, it’s perfectly acceptable for him to behave the same way. He is within the letter of the law.

I would go out and get a job to supplement my alimony payment, but there is a “catch” to that too. According to the divorce papers, (and he had this part put in so that I couldn’t “get away” with sticking him with the alimony forever should I become financially stable on my own) he can deduct anything I make from his alimony payments up to $2,000 a month. So I cannot even go out and get a job to supplement my income because he will just take it.  So I am stuck. He made sure of that.  I cannot get ahead.  Period. Yep, he is “taking care” of me alright.

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And the icing on the cake is that because of the bankruptcy I am now being evicted from my apartment. Yep. So nice.  Even though I never missed a payment, never bounced a check, and was never late for almost 3 years, I got an eviction notice on my door just because I had to file for bankruptcy.  Luckily for me, I have a nice friend who has a super nice condo that I can rent.  But holy crap! What a pain. Now I have to move too.  Just for kicks and giggles.

All of this happened because my ex-husband thought it would be so fun to have multiple affairs.  So why is it that I am the one suffering all these consequences for his poor choices? Addiction is the gift that keeps on giving!

Ladies, please don’t think that you are an exception.  Don’t believe that your husband will take care of you.  He won’t.  I used to think that my ex-husband was one of the most responsible people to ever walk the earth.  He isn’t.  His addiction changed him.  He is all about himself.  Do not think that you will be taken care of.  You won’t.  An addict brain is a selfish brain.  Always.  NO EXCEPTIONS.

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If you are contemplating a separation or a divorce from an addict, please get professional help!  It is worth the cost.  Don’t let him talk you out of it with lovely words of,  “we can work this out between us” or “I will do all I can to get get you back.” It’s Bullshit.  Don’t believe it. Think of everything you will need and cover all your bases. Write everything down. Keep a daily journal, it holds up in court. Record every conversation you have, keep every email, and take screen shots of every text. Get an attorney who is well versed in dealing with addiction and/or narcissism.  Take care of yourself, because in the end, nobody else will!

I am not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry for me.  Don’t.  I will be ok. I waited to tell this cautionary tale until the problems were solved, and it was finally over, and I knew I was going to be ok. The best feeling in the world is that I solved all the problems he created for me!  Me!  I did that, all on my own!  Because of the bankruptcy, I can now live fully within my budget, my debt is managable, I get to keep my very cool car, pay my taxes, I am moving to a nicer place, have all of my needs met, and can even save some money for trips and other fun things.  I will be just fine!  But it is no thanks to the addict.  Or maybe it is, who knows?

One thing I know is this – no matter what the addict throws at me, the Lord ALWAYS has me covered by His Grace.  It is because of Him that I will be more than ok, no matter what! We have to do our part too though.  Don’t be dumb like me.  Know what you need, ask for it, and take care of yourself first.

Be Sweet, Stay Strong

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