abuse, addiction, betrayal, Blame, Choices, denial, divorce, Emotional, gaslighting, lying, My Story, Narcissist

One Year Ago…

I have been a hot mess this week.  Lot’s of crying, anxiety, panic, and fear.  I feel as if I have been sent back to where I was over a year ago, to relive it all over again. I couldn’t figure out why until I stopped to think about it.  You may not remember traumatic events, but your body knows.  Your body remembers EVERYTHING that ever happened to you.  I am learning this from doing emotional healing through the “Emotion Code.” (BTW, I highly recommend it!) My body remembered it was the 1st Anniversary of my divorce long before my mind remembered it, and my body has been sending out distress signals.

“Danger! Danger!”

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This is so distressing to remember because it is something I never wanted.  I would have never imagined that I would ever file for a divorce.  Ever!  I loved my husband. I still do, the old him, anyway, the him he was before he cheated on me.

I hated it that he cheated on me and kept his addiction hidden for so long, it had been going on for over a year before I discovered it.  I hated it that he lied to me, over and over and over and over. I hated it that he pretended to be a loving husband and father when he wasn’t. I hated everything about what happened after I discovered his multiple online affairs. But I learned enough from when he did this the first time, yes it happened more than once, that he had an addiction.  So I was “prepared” somewhat, and it was always in my mindset, after I got over the inital hurt and shock, that we would work it out, and, eventually, we would be back together.  I love him.  I want him back.  I will always love him and want him back.  When I married him he was the choice of my heart and the love of my life!  He was everything to me! Not the “him” he is today, but the “him” he was before all of this happened. I want my family back.  I will never stop wanting my family back together.  That is who I am.  My family means everything to me! It always will.  If I could have my heart’s desire, it would to be with him again.  I will always wish that. He is NOT who his addiction has made him to be. I am not angry with him for having an addiction.  I am angry with him for not admitting it and getting help. I am angry he refused to fix himself! Had he done that, he would still be married to me.

This is the thing about these addicted men that I do not get!  Most wives are so willing to forgive!  Too willing sometimes. They want to work it out.  I have only personally met one woman who did not.  Guys!  Your wives are more forgiving than you could ever imagine! For crying out loud, give us a chance!  All you have to do is admit you have a problem and get help, and you could have everything you ever wanted.  Why in the world would you not choose to get into recovery and stay there?

Therein is the real tragedy of addiction! Sadly, my story is not unique.  It plays out in the same way in thousands of marriages and families all over the world.  Addicts simply do not see they have a problem! The denial is slaying the hearts of wives and destroying families right and left! My story is only one of many.  What makes me unique is that I am among the few who are willing, or able, to step out into the sunlight and expose our common experiences for all those women who cannot because of shame, guilt, or to protect themselves. their children, or their husbands.  My ex-husband lost my protection when he withdrew his protection from me.

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The two years we were separated were nothing short of a neverending nightmare I could not wake up from.  His infidelities pale in comparison to what he did to me during those next two years.  The several therapists I have seen all say, I was emotionally tortured. The same way a POW is tortured when captured by the enemy. So much so that I ended up with PTSD, or betrayal trauma.  Mine is a pretty severe case.  I suppose that is partly my fault, because I let him torture me far longer than I should have.  I wanted to give him every opportunity, every chance I could, to come back.  I wanted him to choose me.  I wanted him to fight for me, for our family.  I had EVERY faith in him that he would…eventually…If I just gave him enough time…I told myself.  Boy, was I ever wrong. This time, being wrong, nearly cost me my life.

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That is the funny thing about agency, no matter what you want, you cannot make another person want the same thing.  I could not make him choose me.  He had to decide that for himself.  And I had to decide how long I would allow him to abuse me over it. He had the power to make his own choices, but I learned that I could choose too.  I could choose how long I would allow him to continue to cheat, lie, and abuse me.  Over those two years, I begged him to get into recovery.  He would not. He said he would.  But it never materialized into anything other than words.  I used to be able to take him at his word, so it was hard for me to understand why this time was any different.  I wanted so much to believe him! I even set up appointments, I paid for his counseling,  I followed up with his Bishop, I tried talking to his counselors. I begged. I pleaded. Nothing worked.  His final analysis was that he did not have an addiction, and I was crazy for thinking he did.  He was even angry at me for trying to seek help for us, and he drug his feet and belittled me for my efforts. But, in spite of his resentment of me, I would put myself out there for him to come back to me again and again, and each time I would discover another affair.

All in all, six women, contacted me (there were others I didn’t know about at the time) during those two years to let me know he was cheating on me with them.  Why?  Because he was cheating on them too!  It seems cheaters don’t like to be cheated on, so they’ll go tell the wife to get back at them.  These contacts were humiliating and excruciating.  I learned, over time, I couldn’t trust ANYTHING he said to me.  It is horrific not to be able to trust the one man you relied on to protect you from all harm.  He became so unsafe for me because of his lying.  I could deal with the truth easier than the lies. A lie comes out of nowhere and slaps you in the face, you do not see it coming. When the truth is exposed and out in the open, you can see it and deal with it.  With truth you can fix any problem.  When there is no truth, it becomes impossible to fix anything.

My therapist told me at the time, that a man has two tongues, one in his mouth and one on his shoes. He advised me that I was to stop listening to the one in his mouth, and just pay attention to the one on his shoes.  In other words, I needed to just watch what he does.  I needed to see if his walk matched his talk.  It did not. The proof was in his actions not his words. It took paying attention to his actions, and not listening to him,  for me to really see what was in his heart. It was shocking for me to wake up to the reality that he did not really want me anymore. He liked his life of addiction more than he wanted me. That was something that had never crossed my mind before, and it was devasating to see the truth of it.

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This is where I found myself last April.  Between the man I love, and his lies.  There is no more unsettling or profound “rock and a hard place” scenario. I was already unbelievably fragile.  The October before, I was so messed up from his crazymaking that I could see no way out, other than to take my own life.  Luckily, I took myself to the hospital instead, where the doctor said I needed a long vacation, so I took a cruise.  That turned out to be the best advice I had ever gotten from a doctor.  It saved me and gave me some peace and perspective I so desperately needed. My husband never believed I was in such a dire situation.  He still doesn’t. He was mad at me for going on the cruise over his birthday. Nevermind that my life hung in the balance. He has no clue what his addiction has done to my mental, emotional, or physical health.  He doesn’t care either. Someday, probably judgment day, he will know, and he will care. That day is a day of clarity that I am looking forward to witnessing.

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The impact of the behaviors of my husband’s addiction left me in “fight, flight or freeze” mode 24/7.  I lived, trapped, in this space for those two years we were separated as I was being whipped around between lies and more lies, deceit and what someone referred to as the “mindf**kery” (sorry, there is no other way to describe it) that comes from constant gaslighting. My adrenal glands were shot.  I lived in a heightened state of danger that never eased up. Imagine being caged with a hungry lion that you know wants to eat you, it’s only a matter of time, you don’t know how or when, but you know you will be eaten alive eventually, that is the kind of fear I am talking about. “Fight for your life” kind of fear!

I never knew when another woman would come out of the woodwork. I never knew when he was seeing someone else or sleeping with them when he should have been with me. My heart raced. My mind was in hyper-drive. My breathing was shallow or heavy, my resting pulse was 107, I couldn’t eat or sleep, throwing up and diarrhea were constant companions.  In short, I was a wreck. I could not calm my body down! A person cannot survive in this condition for very long.  I am surprised I survived two years of it.  My reserves were, by now, past empty, and I knew I could not go on like this for much longer.  So I finally laid down a strong boundary.  I asked my husband to come up with a plan for how he was going to provide me with enough safety and connection so that I could move back home with him.  I knew if we were going to save our marriage and family we needed a plan. I wanted to move back in with him and it was taking way too long! He didn’t like any of my plans and refused to even entertain them, so the most logical thing to do was for him to come up with his own plan.  I was prepared to do whatever he decided, within reason. I gave him 3 weeks to come up with a plan.  If, after 3 weeks, he still did not have a plan, then I would file for a divorce. I was done being the mouse in his endless game of cat and mouse.

Three weeks passed.  There was no plan.  I knew I couldn’t keep giving him chances that he only squandered, I didn’t have the bandwidth, so I filed for the divorce.  I was heartbroken.  Inconsoleable. It is the most devastating feeling I will ever know – having my husband, with 38 years of life, love, and history together, not choose me.  I don’t know if I will ever get over that kind or rejection.  It is a betrayal of love that was worse than his cheating on me. Pure anguish of body, mind, and spirit.

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“I don’t know if I will ever get over that kind of rejection.”

Then, to my shock and amazement, he turned around and blamed it ALL on me!  He said, I am the one who wanted the divorce, I filed for it, it was my choice. He really thinks this. Talk about adding insult to injury?  How he could come to this conclusion is a mystery to me, and always will be.  All I can do is to chalk it up to “addict brain.”  Addicts have no ability to employ logic or reason, that part of their brain is swiss cheese.  You know what I mean if you have ever talked to an addict for more than 5 minutes.  Their grasp of reality is just nonexistent. It’s pure nonsense!

Not wanting to really give up on him, I continued to give him even more chances that he refused to take. There was a part of me that kept believing that he would come around. I would go through with the divorce, but I was also willing to work on our relationship while we went through the 90-day waiting period, but I needed to see real improvement! It was my intention to stop the divorce if he showed any real progress, and I told him this.  I learned later that he had already just moved on.  He was dating other women and going to singles activities before the divorce was even final. Not knowing what he was really doing, I even felt that if he got into recovery that I would, and could, marry him again! However, he never had any intention of choosing me or our family.  I was to find out how totally he was willing to toss us all aside when he remarried 6 months later.  It seems I made the right decision, as excruciating as it was at the time.  His addiction killed any love or connection he may have had for me and our children. He never really tried. It was easier for him to go find someone else than to do the work to save his life-long marriage.  Porn really does kill love. That is not some cutsie slogan.  It’s real.

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As for me, I have been in an emotional and relational “time out” for the last 2 1/2 years. I need to be healthy enough, and recovered enough, to even consider being in a stable relationship with anyone. When all of this began I believed that I would never marry again.  I still do not know if I will.  But now I am at a place in my healing where I am willing to entertain the idea.  I started going to single adult activities in my church, at least.  I even signed up for an online dating site.  I am slightly overwhelmed by the reaction I got.  Within the first 2 hours I had over 250 views on my profile and 65 messages in my inbox.  It seems that some men, think I am a catch!  It was a much-needed boost to my self-esteem.  I have yet to go on any dates, not that I haven’t been asked. ( One guy even wanted to take me to Italy to meet his Mom!)  I figure I can afford to be very, very picky.  When the right man comes along, I will know it.

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A sign that I was healing is that I have gotten my intuition back, I missed being able to trust my instincts.  It serves me well.  I am still working my recovery everyday; I see a therapist weekly, have EMDR sessions, I go to 12-steps, I attend classes, and I will continue to do so for as long as it takes.  I am moving towards becoming the person I was always meant to be.  I study my scripture daily and pray earnestly, relying solely on Him who is mighty to save.  Little by little, I am healing. (One day I will write a book about my experiences.) Sometimes it feels like I take two steps forward, and one step backward, but the direction is what matters, not the speed.  I am still working hard at self-care.  I need to be gentle with myself.  I have been in an emotional war for my heart, mind, body, and soul. I am battle weary. I still get bombed by my ex from time to time, but he no longer has the power over me he used to enjoy. I mostly feel sorry for him that he is still stuck in his unhealthy behaviors, and an unhealthy relationship.

Ultimately, what I am most proud of myself for, during this experience, is that I never lost my core values or beliefs.  I stayed true to myself.  I stayed true to the Lord.  I stayed true to the church.  I kept my covenants. And, to me, those are the greatest accomplishments of all! Too many women do not make it out of the hell-hole of addiction with their integrity intact. I am one of the lucky ones, and I understand this.  I used to want to just wash away all of the pain in drugs or drinking, but I knew if I went there it would never stop, and ultimately, it would not slove anything. But I get it. I get why addiction destroys both the husband and the wife.  It is devastating for families, and children are the ulitmate victims.

Once I realized what was happening to my body this week, I was able to employ my tools of recovery and get my emotions, and my body back on track. “Earth body – Body body – Mind body” as my yoga instructor likes to say – all in alignment. I will be forever grateful that I chose recovery for myself, and for those people who helped me, and continue to help me, you know who you are! It has made all the difference in my healing. The next step on my journey is to recover my physical health.  I am looking forward to being a much smaller, healthier version of myself this time next year!  Best of all, I have a swelling of optimism growing in my heart.  I am starting to look forward to the next day, and what the future might hold. That is a new thing for me. Good things are starting to happen! I am reclaiming myself.  I am reclaiming my life.  Addiction may have destroyed my husband and our marriage, but it did not destroy me. Here is to a better year! It is more than about time, it’s past due.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

abuse, addiction, Blame, Choices, denial, infidelity, lying, Narcissist, repentance, Spiritual

“Thou Art the Man”

Most men, my Cheater included, would think what has been done to me and our children is the worst kind of injustice and abuse. An atrocity.  Many men would want to “take my Cheater to the woodshed” to teach him a lesson, my own brother is numbered among these men.  He often wanted to “teach my Cheater a lesson he would never forget.”  Later on, I learned my brother is also an addict with a similar problem of his own.  The funny thing is my Cheater and my brother loath each other for the same sins they clearly see in each other, but not in themselves.  They are just alike, but they refuse to see it. Each pointing a finger at the other one, trying to convince me that “his problem is worse.”

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I know my Cheater has made the same observations in others because, while he was serving as a Bishop, he came across many situations like ours.  He would shake his head in disbelief and wonder what could make a man stoop so low.  He could not understand how a man could betray his wife and children, and break his covenants like that, and worse, why he would refuse to repair the damage and restore his family after the devasation he caused. He would say that, “being a man required him to at least repair what he had broken.”

Over the years we had various, gut wrenching, discussions over how this friends or that family member could leave the church, destroy their family, and turn their backs on everything they knew to be true. We hugged each other and thanked the Lord that we had one of those kinds of marriages that would not become a sad statistic.  Until, one of us let his guard down…

Now he knows, with-not-so-perfect clarity, or so it seems,  just how easily it could happen to him, because he was not diligent and careful in keeping his covenants.  He knows exactly how his pride could make him forsake everything he ever held dear and walk away from his wife, children, and grandchildren, without even so much as a backwards glance, into the arms of another woman. All the while, blaming me for the choices that led him there.

Even over the course of the final year of trying to save our marriage, I would be shocked and dismayed at my Cheater’s hypocrisy.  How he said he would do “anything” to save our family.  “Anything” did not include, to stop cheating! It is so easy to see the hypocrisy in another, and so very difficult to see it in yourself.  King David had this eye-opening experience about his own hypocricy, when the Prophet Nathan paid him a, much needed, visit:

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“And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.

The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:

But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:

And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”

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It is so easy to see your own sins in another and to be outraged by it!  So much more difficult to recognize the same thing in yourself.  I often wonder if my Cheater ever sees his own hypocrisy?  Does he ever notice that the thing he pitied and condemned in others, is now his own chosen road? Where is his Nathan to set him straight? Who is there to tell him, “Thou art the man!” Does he even realize that he has become “that man?” If so, will he ever do anything to fix it? He is the only one who could answer that, and unforetunetly, he isn’t doing anything so far.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, addiction recovery, Choices, denial, infidelity, lying, Narcissist, repentance

A Man in Recovery

My Cheater keeps trying to bully me into believing he is in recovery. But he isn’t.  It is clear to everyone, except him. What he doesn’t understand is it is not up to me to believe him or not to believe him.  Truth is truth. People who are much smarter than I am have developed programs that work and provide the most effective way to overcome this public health crisis. When he is actually in recovery his actions will be unmistakable.  They will be undeniable because he will act differently. He will speak differently.  And he will look differently. It will show in his countenance.

“And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” Alma 5:14

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A man who wants to recover from a sex addiction has to be prepared for the long haul.  Recovery is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  And running in a marathon takes training.  It means running everyday and training everyday, pushing through the pain, and to keep going even when you feel like giving up.  It is work.  It is long-term.  And most importantly, it is a LIFESTYLE change.  It is like being diagnosed with diabetes or cancer. There are just some things you cannot do anymore, because to do them is dangerous to your health.  If you are a diabetic you have to change your diet.  If you have lung cancer you have to stop smoking.  If you don’t do these things then you will die.  If you are a sex addict it is the same thing,  you have to make changes to get your life back and become whole again.  It is a process and it takes time.

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How much time?

You may be surprised to know it takes 3 – 5 years of concerted recovery work to be able to say that you have overcome pornography. Five Years. And that is only if he is ALL IN from the beginning. Not only that, but after you have achieved sobriety and recovery, you must MAINTAIN recovery for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!  You can never go back to doing the things the way you did them before the addiction.  You must be ever vigilant and aware of your actions.

In the first year of recovery a man will constantly insist that he is in recovery.  He will try to convince everyone that it’s not a big deal and he has it under control.  He does this because he is really still having trouble maintaining consistent sobriety.  He isn’t convinced he can do it, so he works hard to make you believe he is.  I am sure it’s painful to keep having slips and relapses.  But he still doesn’t want to face that he is really an addict, but his personal behavior shows him he cannot control himself,  fact he cannot continue to deny. He is angry. He fights recovery.  He believes himself to be an exception to the rules or addiction recovery. He thinks he doesn’t have to do all the recovery steps.  He may think he doesn’t need 12-Steps or Counseling.  He may tell you that he can get over this by just talking to his Bishop.  The reality is that his ability to overcome the addiction is directly related to his willingness to do ALL the parts of addiction recovery.  My ex-husband is one of these men and because of it, he has been stuck in this space of stagnation for two years and he doesn’t even realize it.  He is stuck in denial to the point that he has become so unsafe to his family that we cannot even be around him.  It is very sad. We want to be around him, but we just can’t until he comes to himself and realizes what he does to us. We have to come to accept that he may never change.

What are the steps of addiction recovery?  SALifeline has done an excellent job of laying those out.  If your man isn’t doing one or more of these, he will have a tougher time at recovering.

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A Man Not in Recovery

  • Is self-absorbed.
  • Is prideful.
  • Is unaccountable.
  • Is hard-hearted.
  • Is dishonest.

All of these feelings and attitudes lead to feelings of victim, withdrawal, manipulation, resentment, lies, lust, acting out, anger, fear, shame, fantasy, and loneliness…this is a good description of the behavior our family has experienced from our addict.

It’s a vicious cycle that just keeps spinning and spinning until he in a hole so deep he doesn’t know where to even go.

Recovery

A Man in Recovery

  • He is connected with the God of his understanding.
  • He practices self-care.
  • He is honest about needs and emotions.
  • He is connected with God and others.
  • He has set healthy boundaries.

In addition to this he will work ALL 4 key components of real recovery:

  1. Education – he educates himself of the harmful effects of addiction and how to overcome it
  2. Spiritual Guidance – he is doing spiritual work and meeting with his church leaders regularly
  3. Qualified Therapy – he is willingly seeing a therapist who is experienced in sex addiction
  4. Working the 12 Steps with a Sponsor – he goes to these meetings and is accountable to his sponsor

Here are the cycles of addiction and trauma in an infographic and how addiction and trauma impact a marriage and family.

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A year after fighting, even the idea of, having an addiction, the addict will usually move into acceptance of the addiction.  This is the point where he is getting serious about recovery.  He will buy into what he needs to do as outlined above and he will start working on recovery diligently.  This is a rough year because he will be doing the work, but he doesn’t yet have it down to the point it becomes a part of him, so slips and relapses still happen, but he has the tools to work through them.  This is the critical point that determines if he will continue on, or give up. This is the turning point because it take 2 years of constant sobriety for the brain to begin to heal from the effects of the addiction.  So the addict will only make good choices during this time if he is being guided by a church leader, a sponsor, and a support group.  NOT his wife!  He cannot and should not expect his wife to help him during this time.  She is experiencing her own trauma and working her own recovery. If anything, he should be helping her by providing safety, accountability, honesty, and transparency, to her.

If an addict can make it through the first 2-years, which are very rough for him, and everyone around him, he will move into year three.  This is where the real change will happen.  This is where you will notice the real changes in his behavior.  He has become accountable, transparent, empathetic, and safe.  But this is not the end.

It takes two more years of serious recovery work to see the most growth in the addict.  This is where he will see the changes he is making in his life finally stick to him; to become a part of him. This is where he actually becomes the person he is meant to be.

“Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.” Doctrine and Covenants 59:5-6

The road to recovery must start with a willing heart.  The addict must accept he is an addict, and then work with all his heart, might, mind and strength to overcome his addiction.  It is possible and doable, but it isn’t easy. You MUST do the WORK to reap the reward!

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For the traumatized spouse it is hard to know what recovery looks like unless someone shows you. My ex-husband points out how he is in recovery anytime he has contact with me! He isn’t.  If he was in real recovery, he wouldnt need to point it out, it would be evident in his behavior. You will not likely see real recovery in your spouse at the beginning of this journey, no matter what he tells you. He will have to “wake up” to his addiction first!  He will tell you he is in recovery, even when he isn’t, mostly because he doesn’t even know what real recovery looks like either. (That is where addiction education comes in.) The disconnect between his words and his actions will be confusing.  Most wives want to believe their husbands, but it will not be wise to believe what he says, until you see the above actions take place. So now you know, this is what a man in recovery will look like.  If your man’s behavior doesn’t look like this then you can know he is NOT in recovery.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

abuse, addiction, betrayal, Blame, denial, divorce, gaslighting, minimizing, My Story, Narcissist, repentance, Triggers

Sorry. Not Sorry

Our Anniversary would have been Monday.

It would have been thirty-eight years. 38. That is a lifetime. My whole life. Mostly wasted on a man who became emotionally and morally bankrupt. This week, for me, has been filled with shame, regret and deep sadness. I am in mourning.  I mourn what we had in the beginning. I mourn what could have been. What might have been. If my husband was capable of making good choices. If he would have chosen to get into recovery and worked to save our family. He did not. So here I am. Alone. Hurting. Torn to shreds. And working with all my energy to find new meaning in my life. Trying hard to find my purpose. Wanting so badly to heal.


Crying has become my friend again this week. It was inevitable. One step forward, two steps back in my healing. I cry frequently. Still. But this week, it’s an everyday thing…again. That is how healing the hurt happens. It is moments of calm and clarity until the next wave of grief crashes down on me with no notice.  This is my state mind this week.


And this happens…

Out of the blue, even though he is not supposed to contact me at all, he sends me an email. I made the mistake of reading it. I don’t know why I did. I shouldn’t have. But I did.

Now, instead of being just a mess, I am a hot mess.

Then it occurred to me that his email is a perfect example of gaslighting and its effects on the recipient. It is also therapeutic for me to write out my thoughts so I can process them.  So, I decided to share this and use it as instruction on what gaslighting looks like. I am hoping that it will help you to understand gaslighting better so you will be able to recognize it when it happens to you. So here is his email in its entirety:


“As this time of year approaches I always think, mostly with fondness, of our many years together and am thankful for it. We started from nothing to build and grow a good family who will continue to grow throughout mortality into the eternities. 

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of what I’ve done to affect our family and each individual’s life. That’s the hardest part of repentance – even though I may have spent the required time separated from the Church and have a change of heart and even try to repair feelings and relationships, I will always know that I’ve done a terrible thing that has affected the lives of those who I love and care about the most.

I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ so many times over the past 2+ years (most times sincerely, but sometimes not) that I’m sure they end up sounding like only words. I know that my actions haven’t always matched those words. 

While I don’t understand the divorce completely, I do understand that you felt strongly that you needed to do it and, as you’ve told me, that you would have eventually divorced me anyway. I do realize that was a tough decision for you.

I want to apologize again. I am sorry for letting this into our family and letting selfishness and pride lead us to where we are now. I am sorry for all the lies that I’ve told and all the secrets I’ve kept and all the attention I paid to other women instead of you. I am sorry that I have broken the sacred covenants that I made to Heavenly Father and that we made to each other. I am sorry that the things I’ve done will affect you, our children, our grandchildren, and even future generations. I am sorry that what could have been will never be.

As we approach a date that someday may just become another day, it’s hard to not think of you. what I’ve done, and all that we have lost.

I continue you to pray for you, The kids, as well as the grandkids. I pray that the Atonement will help all of you to be comforted and to be made whole again from all the pain, sorrow and trauma I have caused.

I am truly sorry.”

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Oh, this sounds so lovely! Doesn’t it? 

It would be lovely, if it was coming from a healthy person. But coming from an addict this email is filled with lies and manipulations. Like my therapist friend said, “This isn’t an apology, it is a self-serving piece of crap! It is a manipulation, graduate level manipulation.”

I agree.  At least my core being agrees, because the number of triggers from this email were astronomical.  I am still having them, two days later!

Let’s dissect  it, shall we?

He is so fond of me that he doesn’t even address me in the email by name…

As this time of year approaches I always think, mostly with fondness, of our many years together and am thankful for it. We started from nothing to build and grow a good family who will continue to grow throughout mortality into the eternities. 

Wait, what? He sounds so nostalgic and full of reflection. Fondness? Our marriage was just destroyed! By his bad choices. He is speaking like we are just apart for the weekend in separate cities for our anniversary and he misses me. Our family is destroyed! He broke it. Now he is so proud of what we built together? This is so emotionally bankrupt and so far removed from the reality of what the rest of us are feeling that it is mind numbing. Truly.

This next paragraph was so triggering that it is hard to know how to even speak about it. So let’s go line by line.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of what I’ve done to affect our family and each individual’s life. 

If it bothers you that much then why don’t you fix it? But, you don’t fix anything, so you must be content with your life the way it is! You must be ok with what you have done to your family! 

That’s the hardest part of repentance – even though I may have spent the required time separated from the Church…

Umm, we called his Bishop before Thanksgiving. He hasn’t been to church since he moved 7 months ago. The Bishop never heard of him. The last time we talked to his Bishop was on December 22nd. He was going to call him. His former Bishop told me that until he “get’s it” and can do the restitution part of repentance, that he is a long way, years, from getting his blessings back.  But he is in denial about that too.  He makes it sound like his re-baptism is just around the corner…it’s not. It will be years, and quite possibly never at the rate he is going.  The first step is you need to go to church. But he takes every opportunity to TELL us how much he is repenting. However, there is NO evidence of this.

Spending the “required time away from the Church” does not repentance make. Full repentance requires the work of restitution. You don’t just wait it out.  Repentance is work! Hard work.  Gut wrenching work.  It’s painful.  It is  supposed to be, so he never does it again.

…and have a change of heart 

He hasn’t had a change of heart! If he had a change of heart then he would be a changed man. He is still cheating! That isn’t a change of heart! I talk about a change of heart in another blog post.  This isn’t that.

and even try to repair feelings and relationships, 

He has done nothing to repair relationships, for anyone. But he likes to say it. A lot. Then he uses these declarations of repentance to manipulate us into his twisted way of thinking. He thinks if he says it enough then we will all BELIEVE him! Then he accuses us of being unforgiving of him and not giving him a chance. After all, he is “doing everything he can to fix this.” But his words, as lovely and convincing as they sound, do not match his actions.  This is gaslighting in all its glory! Changing the reality of another person in order to cause them to doubt their own feelings and experiences. Another word for it is “crazymaking.”  And it really does make me feel like I am going crazy! I hate it!

I will always know that I’ve done a terrible thing that has affacted the lives of those who I care about the most…

He knows he has done a terrible thing. But he will not DO anything constructive to fix it. Even when we give him specific things we need him to do. He doesn’t want to do what we need him to do so he just says he is sorry and calls it good! He brushes off any request given to him as if he didn’t hear it or that he somehow doesn’t understand.  Playing stupid is NOT being sorry.


Case in point: 
I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ so many times over the past 2+ years (most times sincerely, but sometimes not) that has affected the lives of those who I love and care about the most.

Again, if he is even cognitively aware of this, in any meaningful way, then why does he DO NOTHING to repair the damage he has done to those who he is supposed to care about the most? He is sorry like a two-year old is sorry for taking his sister’s toy. He says he is sorry, but doesn’t give the toy back. That isn’t sorry.

I’m sure they end up sounding like only words. I know that my actions haven’t always matched those words.

“Sounding like only words?” If he knows that his word are hollow then why doesn’t he change that?  Why does he insist on doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results?

“Haven’t always?” How about never!  He isn’t in any kind of counseling. He isn’t in 12-steps. He doesn’t have a Sponsor. He isn’t even seeing his Bishop! So how is he learning how to relate to what he has done and know how to fix it in any meaningful way? The answer is, he doesn’t! He can’t. He is stuck in the echo chamber of his own head, with zero feedback from anyone but himself. So he just says and does the same things over and over with no real improvement in his thinking nor does he have any ability to change his behavior.

He can’t gain his integrity back because he will not take counsel on how to do that from anyone besides himself. He is on the “physician heal thyself” plan. It will never work! Never.  No matter how much he wills it.  Brain dysfunction cannot heal itself.

While I don’t understand the divorce completely, I do understand that you felt strongly that you needed to do it and, as you’ve told me, that you would have eventually divorced me anyway. I do realize that was a tough decision for you.

This is an attempt, once again, to manipulate me into feeling guilty for divorcing him. I hate it when he does this to me! It is despicable! Nevermind that he never stopped cheating on me for 3 solid years. He never stopped lying to me about it. And he said he didn’t have an addiction. But he really believes, deep down in his core that I should have stayed with him to work it out. Work out what?  You cannot work on a problem if the person with the problem has their head so far up their butt they can’t even see how much they are in denial. Never mind, that his cheating and lies were KILLING me. Doesn’t matter to him. I was slowly dying. He didn’t care. And he wasn’t doing anything to stop his awful behavior. Nah, he’s right, I should have just stayed with him and continued to let him abuse me! But he doesn’t understand why I divorced him? I can’t make him “get it.” Believe me, I tried. Maybe someone else can explain it to him.



I want to apologize again. I am sorry for letting this into our family and letting selfishness and pride lead us to where we are now. 

Again. Talk is cheap. He is sorry. I’ve heard it a thousand times by now.  I STILL do not believe him. Why?  Because he refused to get help to stop doing these things. He remains selfish and prideful. Nothing has changed.  His version of sorry is what the scriptures call, “the sorrow of the damned.”


 I am sorry for all the lies that I’ve told and all the secrets I’ve kept and all the attention I paid to other women instead of you. I am sorry that I have broken the sacred covenants that I made to Heavenly Father and that we made to each other. I am sorry that the things I’ve done will affect you, our children, our grandchildren, and even future generations. I am sorry that what could have been will never be.


Well, that is certainly a lot of “I’m sorry’s!”

One thousand one… one thousand two…one thousand three… one thousand four…

Maybe if he says if enough we will believe him? Again, nothing to back up those words. What triggered me most about this part is the last line. “He is sorry for what could have been, but will never be”…wow!  I have told him at least a hundred times. Literally.  That if he got into recovery and really got his act together, I would be willing to go back to him and work it out! Even now. This is because I know he has a brain illness. When he is willing to seek help for his illness, I could be willing to assist him in that healing. He knows this. But he uses it as a stick to beat me with. He might as well have said; “I don’t have an addiction. I never did. You accused me of something I didn’t do. The break up of our marriage is your fault! You can’t see what the real problem is. He still won’t or can’t say what he thinks the REAL problem is. So this is your fault. I wish I could fix it, but I can’t because you won’t let me!  This is YOUR fault!” That is what he is saying to me in that line, I know this, because he HAS said it to me, over and over, in person. I have been blamed so much for his bad behavior, that I almost started to believe him too!  Denial is insidious! Again, he is trying to change the reality. This is called blame and turning the tables and it is another form of manipulation caused by denial.

As we approach a date that someday may just become another day, it’s hard to not think of you. 

Our anniversary, will never become “just another day” to me. We stated our eternal family on this day, filled with so much hope and promise. It ended in so much heartbreak because of a man who broke he covenants and then refused to lift a finger to repair the damage he has done. He still refuses. He killed the hope. He broke the promises.

I wish he had thought of me when he was cheating on me dozens of times over the past 3 years. Maybe if he had thought of me, just once, we wouldn’t be here now. It wasn’t hard for him to not think of me when was in all those other relationships.  I am pretty sure he didn’t think of me once.

what I’ve done, and all that we have lost.

If his losses mean so much to him then why isn’t he working hard to get them back? Wouldn’t any average person at least try? He used to like to tell me, “he will do everything he can to get his family back!” Well, he isn’t very resourceful, or imaginative or dedicated to doing everything. He has hardly lifted a finger. That just tells me that he doesn’t really want us very much. He just wants to say it to make himself feel better about his choices. That is what this boils down to – he likes his life without us.

I continue you to pray for you, and the kids, as well as the grandkids. I pray that the Atonement will help all of you to be comforted and to be made whole again from all the pain, sorrow and trauma I have caused.


He expects God to do all the heavy lifting for him. God will fix it. He is in the clear! I have news for him. That isn’t how it works. Christ said:

15 Therefore I command you to repent–repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore–how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink–

Doctrine & Covenants 19:15-18

I am truly sorry,

He really isn’t sorry. This email was written to assuage his own guilty conscience. He was feeling badly, so he wanted me to feel sorry for him. That was the purpose of the email. It wasn’t written to help or heal me. All it did was wound. This email was a torture to me because he wrote down all the ways he doesn’t care about me enough to move him into any sort of action. He is feeling guilty that he doesn’t care about his family anymore. In fact, he doesn’t care about us so much that he wanted to tell us that he still refuses to do anything to make our lives better. This email screams,”I don’t care about you, I never cared about you, and I will never care about you enough to ease the pain I have caused you! Oh, but, by the way, I am sorry.”

Yep, he is not sorry. But one day he will be. God will see to that.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

 

 

 

betrayal, boundaries, Choices, denial, infidelity, My Story, no contact, repentance, The Other Woman, Trauma Recovery

Phoenix Rising

As I mentioned in another post my ex-husband  burned our family down. He burned me down. He burned us down. There is literally nothing left of me or our family except ashes. Just when I think there is nothing more he can do to destroy our family any further, he finds another way. There isn’t any end to his nonsense.

no-contactSince I went “no contact” with him, he has turned his attentions to torturing our adult children. Our oldest daughter asked him to break up with his girlfriend so he could turn his attention and time to healing the damage he has done to them. It seemed to be a reasonable request to me because it is basically the same request I have been making of him for the past two years; to turn all of his attention and time to me to heal our relationship. This is what a normal person would do. They would gladly do everything they could to heal the breach, especially before “moving on” to ruin some else’s life. Someone who does this to their family needs serious counseling in how to develop healthy relationships. But apparently, he wants to move on now, keep his girlfriend and have his adult children be ok with it, not just be ok, but to give their blessing to his bad choices. (I don’t even want to discuss what kind of idiot woman wants a man who is this messed up?)

smore_card_covers8His insistence that our children be ok with his decisions was met with a strong boundary for him, “You need to spend your time healing the damage between us before you move on with any other relationship, or we cannot have a relationship with you. Period.” But rather than understand or respect the requested boundary his children gave him, he kept insisting that they do it his way.  It’s not unusual for him to want it his way.  Most of his responses in the past dozen years or so are very selfish. But this serves as an example of how Addicts do not respect boundaries. They do not respect what their loved ones need. Most of the time they don’t even have a clue how to figure out what their loved ones need! It’s all about them.  Wisdom and common sense would dictate that when someone destroys another persons wellbeing, they would want to do whatever was asked of them to repair the damage they have done. This is what healthy people do. And if they are not healthy they would, or should, want to GET HEALTHY! First. Before they do anything else.

I can only speak from my own experiences. It’s what I know. It’s why I write – to share my experiences to, hopefully, help others.  The purpose for sharing this situation is not to vilify my ex-husband, but the purpose is for a concrete, instructive situation that  both the addict and their family members can understand:

Unhealthy people with unhealthy relationships cannot form new healthy relationships without learning new patterns of behavior that allow the addict to repair and restore the damage they have done. First! There is no “moving on” until the addict chooses to act in healthy and responsible ways. These new patterns are learned in the 12 Steps Program. This should be a basic place for the addict to start to repair relationships.

Choices and accountability matter!

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In his present mindset, my ex-husband’s prospects for healing his relationship with his children seems as abysmal as his chances for his healing our relationship. He hasn’t made the choice to do the hard work of real repentance. He hasn’t chosen me. He hasn’t chosen his children. He hasn’t chosen God.  Until he makes the right choices he will continue to feel the adverse consequences of his choices.

And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. 2 Nephi 2:5

The consequences for his most resent choices are that his children now want nothing more to do with him until he can make better choices. His children want him to CHOOSE THEM!  Just like I wanted him to CHOOSE ME!! For now, he has chosen the girlfriend, not his children. I cannot fathom this choice! Just like I couldn’t fathom his choice to not choose me.  Somehow this seems worse to me though – they are his own flesh and blood! What kind of monster does this??? If I were in this same situation, of course I would choose my kids! Of course I would choose my family! I would have chosen our relationship in the first place. But that is me thinking with a non-addict brain.  Who the hell knows what he is thinking???

In order to come to this decision to have no contact with him, our adult children met with a counselor to get advice on how to handle this situation.  They discussed the disrespect their father has for them by refusing to honor their requests of him. They talked about when is it appropriate to cut off contact and for how long.   When does a relationship become so toxic it requires cutting off the relationship? (Google the ‘no contact rule’ it is a thing and it makes a lot of sense!)

What it boils down to is this: Hitting Rock Bottom

Addicts will not change until the pain of what they have lost because of the addiction becomes greater than the “high” they get from the next hit of chemical dependency. In bottomline terms; what does it take for the addict to hit rock bottom? Hitting rock bottom is different for everyone. Some can hit bottom just by being horrified at themselves for what they have done. For others, it will mean losing everything; job, marriage, children, family,community standing, religious excommunication, self-respect, and some go so far to lose even basic freedoms to live in society.

As it turns out, cutting off a relationship with an addict may be one of the best things you can do for them if they will not come to terms with their behavior on their own, because it requires them to face their own demons on their own. The enabling of the addict stops. He has no one to blame but himself. Hopefully, he will be forced to hit bottom faster. As the addict loses more and more of the things that matter most to him this serves as a wake up call. At some point the addict needs to wake up one day and say, “Gee, maybe I am the one with the problem!” Only when this happens will the reality of the addicts behavior begin to set in:

Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds. Jacob 2:35

What will it take for him to see the sheer magnitude of pain his choices has caused his family? Who knows. We can only withdrawal to a safe distance until he figures himself out. Nobody can do it for him. Helpless.  That is how we all feel. It is anyone’s guess how far he will have to fall to hit rock bottom.  After 3 years of hell, he still isn’t there.

The challenge we face now is to figure out how to rise from the ashes in spite of him. It is clear he doesn’t want to assist in the healing. So it is something we must do for ourselves. This much I know, we had a great family. He walked away from one of the best families a man could ever have. Our children are great! I was a great wife and mother!  If anyone can do this, we can. We can and we will succeed in our own healing. We will, like the Phoenix, rise from the ashes of our lives.

Upon completion of its life cycle, the famed firebird builds its funeral pyre. After setting itself alight, it burns until nothing but ash remains. From that ash and flame, the Phoenix Rises!

phoenix-rising-1

Note: What do you think ex-husband’s reaction was to his children telling him that he cannot have contact with them for now?

It was blame.

It’s ALWAYS about the blame! He blamed me. (And I am not even around him anymore!) Never mind that our children are all grown adults who can think and act for themselves. But still…It was all my fault. I brainwashed them all against him. I love how he phrases it too; “I see you have decided to follow in ‘Your Mother’s’ footsteps and….” Doesn’t he know how offensive this is to his grown children?  He is outright discounting that they have a single brain between them and that one brain that they all share is controlled completely by me!  How offensive can he be???

What he should have said is, “Gee, I guess you are really serious about how you feel.  I didn’t understand that it meant so much to you that I break off this relationship with Girlfriend. I thought you were kidding, it appears that you are not.  So after rethinking things I have decided you are more important to me and I will break up with her, no contact at all for the next 6 months and spend that time just on you guys to try to rebuild our relationship.  I won’t even talk to you about her.  In six months we can revisit this subject and see where we are at that time.  Does that sound ok to you?”

This is just way too healthy a response for him though!

This is just another witness in a long line of examples that denial is alive and well and has found a home in him, a host parasite that sucks all the brains and common sense right out of him!  He couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it.

His denial disgusts me. I don’t want to feel this way, but there it is.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet! (Or try to, anyway.)

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, betrayal, denial, Emotional, gaslighting, lying, minimizing, Narcissist

He Said…She Said; The Denial Effect

The one thing keeping an addict from getting into recovery is DENIAL. Denial starts with the declaration, “I don’t have a problem!”  This is usually followed by, “You’re the problem!” Or some variation. And then the trauma begins. The more emphatic the denial by the addict, the deeper the trauma to the wife. I can only describe it as “crazymaking,” because that is what it is. The addict will go to great lengths to deny he is an addict and it will literally drive you to distraction if you don’t recognize it and learn how to deal with it. He will twist and tie every piece of “proof” you have of his addiction into knots, doing the most astounding mental and emotional gymnastics you have EVER been privileged to witness, until you will almost believe it yourself. Or you might just give in because the barrage of verbal warfare is relentless. Trying to argue or reason with an addict is futile. It’s a waste of time, energy and breathe. Which is one reason I kept a journal and kept records of all the proof I had of his encounters with other women. I have electronic and hard copies. So whenever I would start to fall prey to his “crazymaking” I could go back and look at the evidence and read my journal and remember what really happened. I’m not the crazy one. He is.

46466-quotes-about-people-in-denialIt took me a long time to come to this realization because my Cheater was one of the most reasonable and logical people I knew. It’s quite a role reversal when I am the more reasonable and logical person in the relationship. So it was extremely difficult to wrap my brain around this new warped person standing in front of me. Any encounters with him sent me running for cover in self-defense. I literally felt like I was under gun and mortar fire all.the.time.  I could hardly tolerate the constant lies and accusations. He almost had ME convinced that his addiction was MY FAULT and that he was the victim.

I am not the only one to experience this. Soon after I went “no contact” with him, he started doing the same thing with my kids. It’s one thing for him to drag me through the warped and sicko maze of the bizarre “fun house” of his mind, but it is quite another thing to watch him do it to my kids! They are adults so I couldn’t do anything about it except sit by and watch him do the same thing to them that he had done to me. This was and is just one more layer to the trauma he has put our family through.

three-monkeys

If you have ever been around an addict then you know exactly what I am talking about. If not, let me take you through a few of the denial tactics, along with some personal examples to show you what each tactic of denial looks like. If you are in a relationship with an addict then you will recognize most, if not all of them. Understanding the role of denial in sex addiction with help you know where you are in your relationship with the addict and what needs to happen next.

  • Lying – Addicts lie about everything, even stuff they don’t need to lie about.  They cannot seem to tell the truth…at all. They will say anything, do anything to protect their secret world from being discovered.  The problem is that the lying is pretty obvious because the damage done to the brain by the addiction makes it nearly impossible for them to keep track of all the lies. If your husband spends a great amount of time lying and covering his tracks he is in denial. Honesty is a hallmark of a healthy relationship.  If your husband is lying to you then something is wrong.
    • She said: My ex-husband was frequently “let go” or “changed” jobs unexpectedly.  When I would hear him interviewing on the phone, I would catch him telling potential employers numerous lies, small lies, but lies nevertheless. So I would ask him, “why did you lie about…?”
    • He said: “Well, everyone lies when they are being interviewed, it’s how the game is played.”
    • Other examples: Often they cannot account for where they have been.  Coming home late from work. Suddenly getting lots of calls  from “wrong numbers” and not being able to explain them away. Clicking out of apps or computer pages when you walk in the room and then lying about it.
  • Playing the Victim –  This is the one denial tactic that hurt me more than all the others, except for the gaslighting.  I had a terrible time understand how he could act like he was the one who was the victim?  I didn’t really want the victim role, I have never been fond of using it, but it was insulting that he acted like I was the one who hurt him!
    • He said: “I just don’t understand why you are not more supportive of me? You left me, I didn’t leave you! So you are the one who just doesn’t love me anymore.  If you loved me you would have stayed with me and worked with me.”
    • She said: Wow!  This was a tough pill to swallow when he would blast me with this one, which he did nearly every time we talked.  The worst part of this one is that I think he really believes himself when he says it! I moved out to get myself to a safe place because he refused to come clean from the very beginning and he continued to lie and cover up his affairs.  If at any point he would have stopped the affairs, gotten into recovery and provide me with safety, I would have moved back in with him and “worked with him,” but he was unable or unwilling to do these bare minimum steps.  So I couldn’t come back.  It wasn’t ever safe enough to do so, no matter how much I wanted to do it. The truth is that when he started having affairs with other women, he left me first.  This seems lost on him.
    • Other examples: “I just can’t help it.” “You won’t work with me.” “You just don’t love me anymore.” “I will never be able to repent from this because you will never forgive me.” If you were more supportive of me then I could overcome this.”
  • Entitlement – This is used by the addict when he feels he has the right to behave a certain way. He will somehow feel he is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Entitlement is often behind the addicts belief that he is SPECIAL, that he doesn’t have an addiction.  Those addicts who feel they are entitled believe they are the exception and not the rule.
    • He said: “After all I have done for you over the years you owe it to me to give me the benefit of the doubt.”
    • She said: He is not entitled to cash checks in the trust account after infidelity.  Trust is something that is earned, he is not entitled to it, and especially not after having online affairs, unchecked, for a year.
    • Other examples: “I am different, I am not a full-blown addict like the other guys in my group.” “I work hard to support my wife and kids, and I’m productive at my job. I think that I deserve a little reward. I mean it can’t be all work and no play, right? So if I go online for a little while here and there to look at porn, nobody should complain, because I deserve this little escape.”
  • Blame – Essentially, addicts see themselves at being at the mercy of the words or actions of other people. They are assigning their responsibility for a fault or a wrong doing to others, usually their wife and family members.  Often an addict will not accept responsibility for acting out even when he is caught. With the addict, it is usually someone else’s fault.  Sometimes the addict will take partial responsibility, but them blame his wife for the rest.  This is recognized when the addict says, “Yes, this is my fault, BUT…”  There should be no “BUT” when an addict takes real responsibility! The addicts blaming can be devastating to the betrayed wife!  It is appalling to have your husband blame you for their wrong choices.  This often leaves the wife wondering if there might be some truth to his twisted thinking.
    • He said: “If you would have stayed with me then I wouldn’t keep cheating on you.  You left me all alone so of course I kept cheating.  If you had been with me I wouldn’t have any reason to be with other women.”
    • She said: “So you do not have enough self-control to keep your core principles without me around to make sure you don’t cheat?” This is blaming at it’s finest!  With this sort of logic it is totally my fault he was unfaithful!  Not!  This is a core issue with addicts, they seem to lack agency or accountability.  This is another way you can tell if your husband is serious about recovery, HE WILL BE ACCOUNTABLE for his own actions!
    • Other examples: “My wife is such a nag.” “She constantly criticizes everything I do.” “She’s boring in bed. She never wants to try anything new, and she doesn’t care if I’m enjoying things or not.” The  other women I meet on Ashley Madison are totally different. They like me the way I am, and they’re willing to let me do what I want.”

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These next three are very similar and are often used by the addict together in the same sentence.

  • Justification –  is when an addict tries to show their actions are right or reasonable. Often you can recognize a justification by the use of the word JUST.  “I was just doing…”, “It was just a little….”, “You just don’t understand…”.
    • He said: “I only acted out sexually with other women a few times online.  After that we were just talking.  Don’t you understand?  I was just talking to them.”
    • She said: Even if he had not ever acted out online sexually and had only been talking to other women in chatroom, this is still cheating in most women’s eyes. Anytime your husband turns he attention to another women that is time he should have been investing in you!  That is cheating you out of your relationship with him! As far as the sexual piece goes, the number of times doesn’t matter to a wife.  One time is too many! There is no JUST when we are talking about cheating!
    • Other examples:“Everyone is doing it.” “We were separated so I just didn’t think it mattered.” “All you do is criticize me.” “I was just flirting, it’s no big deal.”
  • Minimization – This is trying to reduce the seriousness of the addicts behaviors to the smallest possible amount or degree.  To the wife, minimizing her feelings of betrayal signal that her husband is unsafe because he really doesn’t “get it” or understand what he has really done to her. Minimizing is a sure sign that the wife is not safe to trust her husband.
    • She said: Often I would have the feeling that my Ex was still cheating on me, even when he said he wasn’t.  I would confront him with the feeling and he would tell me he wasn’t (lying).  Later on, I would find out he was “chatting” with some woman online. When I confronted him with the evidence…
    • He said: “Yes, I was chatting with so and so online, but it wasn’t anything.  We were just talking. I didn’t tell you because I knew you wouldn’t understand. But it was nothing.” If it was really nothing, he wouldn’t have hidden it.
    • Other examples: “I’m not hurting anyone, and I’m not putting myself in any danger. I mean everyone knows that it’s just a one-time thing and we’re not going to fall in love. And I can tell right away when someone is into drugs or weird stuff, just from what they write or text me, so I don’t get into dicey situations. This just isn’t a big deal.” “This website isn’t that bad, we mostly just hang out in chatrooms and talk.  It’s the way I relax at the end of a stressful day.  It isn’t any different from you being on Facebook.”
  • Rationalization – Is making excuses to justify an unwanted behavior.  Often a rationalization will appear to be logical and well thought out, but the underlying purpose of it is to avoid the true explanation. They are false and often inconsistent excuses for specific behaviors.
    • She said: “Why did you just go and make this worse by acting out with women in person?”
    • He said: “After I was excommunicated I figured it didn’t matter anymore so if I was being accused of cheating I decided I might as well go off and have sex with a real person. I mean, really, how could that be any worse?”
    • Other examples: “I’m not having affairs like a lot of other people I know. All I’m doing is looking at porn, playing a few virtual reality sex games and occasionally getting off on a webcam. I don’t even know anybody’s real name. So this isn’t cheating. And if my partner thinks it is, that’s his problem, not mine.”
  • Turning the Tables – Also know as manipulation, is a tactic used by the addict to change the situation or focus so that he has changed positions with his spouse.  This often happens when a wife confronts the addict about a specific behavior.  The addict will find a way to turn the tables to make it about his wife’s perceived problem so the focus is taken off of his problem.
    • She said: “I really wish you wouldn’t ignore me, if we are going to repair our relationship then we need to work on improving our connection.”
    • He said: “Well, if you hadn’t moved out and left me then we would be living in the same house and we could connect everyday! If we are not connecting then it’s probably because you do not live in the same house as me.”
    • Other examples: How to spot manipulation.
  • Gaslighting – manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.  It is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill anxiety and confusion in their victim’s.
    • She said: “I just really feel like you are still cheating on me.” I would say this after going through a period of time where he would distance himself from me, not call or text and then completely ignore me.  This happened over and over.  So I would ask him about what is going on with.
    • He said: “I can’t believe you don’t trust me, I have given you no reason not to trust me and here you are again, accusing me of things I did not do! How can we ever get back together if you are constantly questioning everything I do?  I go to counseling with you.  I attended the recovery program with you, like you wanted me to, what more do you want from me?  Nothing I do is ever enough for you! You will never forgive me!
    • Other examples: Read more about gaslighting here, here, and here.

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All the above tactics were used on me quite extensively.  This is why I had to go NO CONTACT with my Cheater and it will probably stay that way until he comes out of denial on his own. An addict in denial is dangerous to your mental and emotional health.  That isn’t an exaggeration either. I ended up being suicidal because my husband was in absolute denial. He even went so far as to claim the mental health professionals working with him said he was not suffering from an addiction, but something else. The problem is that he would never define what that “something else” was. Later, when I talked to his counselors and church leaders about what I was experiencing on the other end of his “problem” they each agreed that his was deep in addiction, and that he had been less than honest with them about the extent of his problems. This is a huge issue with denial because if they cannot be honest with themselves about what they have done then they cannot be honest with their counselors either. In this state there is no moving forward. The addict is stuck. And so is his family. A problem cannot be addressed or fixed if the person with the problem can’t even see that they have a problem! This leaves the family no other choice than to stand by and helplessly watch as their loved one spirals out of control. There is NOTHING anyone can do until the addict hits the bottom. Here is an article you may find useful on the stages of denial.

The longer the addict stays in denial the more grim the chances are of repairing your relationship. My husband’s addiction went on unchecked and untreated, in any significant way, for 3 solid years. That is plenty long for him to have developed a full-blown addiction.

So how do you know if your man is in denial about his sex addiction? As you can see from some of the above examples, usually,  it’s pretty easy to tell. This list is a pretty good place to start. Almost everyone can tell except the addict. It is also really easy to tell if they are in recovery or not by the frequency in which they still engage in denial behaviors.  If your husband is still lying, minimizing, justifying, blaming, acting the victim or entitled, if he rationalizing, turning the tables on you. or gaslighting you then you can be pretty certain that he is still involved in acting out on his addictive behaviors!  Red flags should go up immediately. At this point, an honest and open Q&A should happen between you about your concerns.  If he is still in recovery then he will welcome your questions and do his best to answer honestly and work to relieve any of your fears or concerns.  Any stonewalling is a red flag that something is going on.

As much as I hate the denial tactics that my Cheater put me through, they were the barometer that I was able to use to determine if he was serious about fighting for me or not.  Ultimately, it was the deciding factor in determining to divorce him.  He just would not come out of denial. It seems he still won’t.

That’s the bad news. There is some good news. You do have some choices you can make to empower yourself against the “denial effect.” This amounts to the things you must do to work on your own recovery from the trauma caused by the addict.

So what can you do to protect yourself from the “denial effect?” Plenty. This is will be the subject of my next blog post…

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Note:  Denial is not just engaged in by addicts. In fact, family members are often as deeply in denial as the addict. And because of this they tend to either enable or ignore the addiction and its consequences. This is another blog post that will be forthcoming.

Regardless of whether denial is engaged in by the addict or his/her loved ones, it exacerbates the addict’s desire to escape from life. This is because denial is a complex series of lies, secrets and deceptions that expands and takes on a life of its own as the addiction escalates. And the larger and more complicated this web of deceit becomes, the harder it is to maintain. Over time, the stress of sustaining this façade of normalcy becomes overwhelming. And of course the anxiety and fear this produces nearly always triggers a further desire to “numb out” via the addiction. In this way, the addict’s and/or the family’s system of denial directly feeds the cycle of addiction. This is why it is imperative that the whole family go to counseling, 12-steps and addiction recovery for spouses and families. See my page on Programs for suggestions on where to start.

Remember…

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, betrayal, denial, minimizing

Addicts Are Blind

Oh my gosh!  Every now and then I read something so profound that it feels like the author has been privy to my personal life.  This is one of those blog posts.

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My Cheater is so blind to the truth, he wouldn’t know it if it were sitting on him!  He has this grandiose lie cycle in his mind and it causes him to not be able to see anything except from his own twisted perspective. His mental narrative is limited to his own echo chamber and what he thinks is the only truth.  He is right and everyone else around him is wrong, and stupid. The kids and I were talking about this just yesterday.

The most frustrating thing for all of us it not being able to get him to LISTEN so he can hear or see the truth.  He makes up stories in his own mind to support his addiction and that keeps him from being able to make any significant progress in repairing or restoring his most important relationships. So we are forced to helplessly stand by and watch him spiral out of control, until he finally hits bottom, that is, if he ever does…

Had he been able to hear and see the truth I would have never divorced him.  Even now, if he would wake up to his own awful state and get super humble about his situation I am confident that our relationship could and would be repairable.

I have had EVERY ONE of these DENIAL TACTICS used on me!  It is a horrible experience to have someone you love live in denial.  It’s painful to the point of feeling like torture.  And because of it I was forced to distance myself from him and eventually divorce him to escape the abuse of denial.  Even in the face of losing me, and now, losing his children still isn’t enough to wake him up from his denial coma. His is a willful blindness.

For now…there is absolutely NOTHING any of us can do because he is in ABSOLUTE DENIAL. All we can do is watch.  For a family of an addict, that is pure torture!

Addicts are Blind

When we are in our addiction, we are blind to it. Alcoholism and all other addictions come with built in denial. The patient does not know that they are ill. They have no real concept of how severe the situation is and they are frequently not willing to talk about it at all. (Larson, 1998)

That makes recovery a bit difficult. In the mind of the addict, recovery just isn’t necessary. The addicts response when first confronted with his situation is: I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM!!! It is an emphatic response, often with anger and indignation that such a thing might even be proposed. The more anger and indignation, the more probability that there is a problem. One of the many painful frustrations for family and friends is watching someone they love, losing their life to addiction while they seem completely unaware of it.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) describes addiction as a cunning and baffling disease. (Bill W, 2001) Indeed all addictions may be so described. Addictions steal our sense of, and contact with, reality. It is part of our blindness. We weave such an intricate web of rationalizations and justifications to allow our addictive behavior, that we become engulfed by the darkness of our lies of denial and are blinded. Drunkenness is excused as, “Just letting off a little steam.” Smoking marijuana as, “It’s the only thing that helps me relax.” We use Meth not because we are addicts but say, “I have to work two jobs and need the help staying awake.”

The truth is this: WE ARE ADDICTS. WE DO NOT REALIZE WE ARE ADDICTS, AND WE WILL DO WHATEVER WE HAVE TO DO, AND SAY WHATEVER WE HAVE TO SAY, TO CONTINUE TO BE ADDICTS.

To gain the comfort of acting out in their lives, addicts employ the truth and reality bending benefits of denial. Denial is the hall pass to our addiction. Insp-6Denial can help us justify our acting out or even hide it completely, even from our own eyes. One sex addict emphatically said, “I was NOT a sex addict. I was NOT that guy!” He really didn’t believe he was until he recognized that he was doing what a sex addict does. That is some of the hardest work of recovery; recognizing, coming to terms with, and gaining freedom from the addict’s patterns of denial.

Unfortunately, we lie to ourselves as much as we lie to others. “I need this,” or “No one will know,” even “I am not hurting anyone.” The list of thinking errors or denial patterns is very long. Addicts are very creative people. Often, the more intelligent they are, the better addicts they become. Terence Gorski MA has identified the patterns of denial in his book, Denial Management Counseling (Gorski, 2000). These patterns are:

Minimizing and Absolute Denial. Some addicts are like our friend Ron, using Absolute Denial, I am NOT that guy! He also throws in a little Minimizing for good measure, Yes, I had some problems with affairs, but….

One of the classic reasons that individuals cannot recognize themselves as addicts is that they don’t meet their definition or their mind’s picture of what an addict is. It is the perfect setup for Minimizing:

Elton was a pretty high functioning alcoholic. He taught high school, didn’t miss work, and was very well respected by both colleagues and students. In John’s mind an alcoholic was the guy in that Christmas movie with Jimmy Stewart. The unshaven guy, disheveled, stumbling in and out of bars, begging for drinks. Elton was nothing like that, so there was no way he could convict himself of being a drunk. Reality is that alcoholics come in all kinds of packages, and Elton came to understand this when he was driving home from work with a very high blood/alcohol content and was the cause of a terrible accident that took someone’s life. He couldn’t deny that he was a drunk anymore.

Read more…

The Cupcake Warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!