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, 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.

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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!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, lying, My Story, Trauma Recovery

How You Nearly Destroyed Me…

Anger Letter

Write a letter to your partner to share just have their addiction has impacted you.  Be specific and honest.  Do not hold back.  Tell them how angry you are and why.

Because of what you did, there are some choices that I will never get to make… that is why I am so angry!

Nearly 18 months after I first discovered your year long affair, I am  still getting triggered by the idiocy of the thoughts that are held hostage inside your twisted mind.  A mind that is so warped in addiction that you cannot even see the stupidity.  The man I fell in love with would never be so illogical in his thoughts.  I could count on you to be calm and reasonable, even when you challenged me to “say what I mean and mean what I said.” Even when you were being sarcastic and condescending, most of the time you could be reasoned out of an absurd stance if the argument proposed had it’s merit. But not anymore.  The bright, intelligent, smart, and articulate man I once knew has been reduced to brainlessness through his own choosing.  If this isn’t an addiction, that is plaguing your, once very capable, mind then I don’t know what else it could be?  Maybe you really have completely lost your mind! At any rate, you act and behave as though your brain has been replaced by swiss cheese in totality.

Your thoughts are incoherent, and at times, you seem completely unable to remember what you said from one day to the next. A far cry from the man who used to be able to remember what you said to him, word for word, a month ago, where you said it, and what you were wearing when you said it. And then there is the lying, constant, non-stop, never ending lies. Lies on top of lies on top of other lies on top of more lies. It feels like you are a teenager trying  to convince your mom you were not out drinking with your buddies, even when she finds you throwing up in the bathroom reeking of alcohol with an empty bottle in your hand!   The worst part is that you cannot see how completely ridiculous you look and sound to the sane and sober people around you!

Nothing you do or say makes any sense to your family members, so we are left shaking our heads in astonishment and disbelief  as we watch you reduced to a shell of your former self. And I am angered by the deliberate way that you have elected to self destruct.  Meanwhile, all we can do is stand by and helplessly watch as you so  artfully spin your reality into a web of lies and deceit that no one  around you can possibly discern between truth and error. Bewildering. I have been so completely imprisoned in your fabrications of the truth that I have resigned myself to being captive forevermore in a house of mirrors, unable to escape. The truth is there is no escape from the madness of your addiction, until you decide you want to lead the way out. All any of the rest of us can do is to learn how to live within this “new normal” that you have created for all of us.

I feel anger towards you because… 

14440-1466488488This is the foundational principle that all my anger is built on.  The one, overarching truth I am forced to accept; you took away my freedom to choose. Oh, of course, I can make choices on how I will act from now on.  I can choose to be happy or not, inspite of everything, but because of what you did and what you continue to do, there are some choices I will NEVER get to make.  Your agency has trumped mine.  I don’t care how many times my therapists, friends, church leaders or family tell me I can choose how I respond to you, that I can live my  own life and learn to choose my own path, the fact remains that there are some choices I will NEVER get to make.  My entire life has been altered by what you have done.  In one heartless moment,  my whole world was shattered, “and all the kings horses and all the kings men, cannot put me back together again. The reality is that I will never be the same.  Often I hear that I will end up being better for having gone through this, I guess I will  never know because I don’t have any other choice, now do I?  I feel like I have come to the end of my race to the finish line, only to have you mow me down with a tank.  I am flattened. I won’t finish.  After 37 years of marriage, I was almost there, and I lost everything.

I may go on to finish out my life very happy and content.  I may be able to rise above the ashes you left my life in. I very well could end up being better off without you.  But I will never know if it is true or if it is not true because I was not given the ability to choose the course of my own life.  As one of my friends put it, “Some people just shouldn’t be given agency, because they don’t know how to use it!”

You yanked the journal of my life out of my hands and with a poison pen you rewrote my story, our story! This is not how it was supposed to go…

If It Walks Like a Duck…

Let’s talk about addiction, shall we?

The studies show that an addicted brain is incapable of reason, connection, empathy and understanding. All of these processes and others find their origination in the prefrontal cortex.  If any part of the pre-frontal cortex is missing then these responses are minimal to no response.

When the brain has been hijacked by the limbic brain, all the above processes are rendered unresponsive.  The person, is not capable of making better decisions. They just can’t, unless the person remains sober for a few months, up to several years, so and this part of the brain heals from the deficit. You should know this!  Given all of the horrible, stupid, idiotice decisions you have made in the past two year, there is NO WAY you are not behaving like an addict!

Behaviors that are linked to an addictive brain will produce;

  • Disconnection from loved ones
  • Symptoms of denial behaviors
  • Lying and minimizing
  • Secrecy
  • Inability to have or maintain an erection
  • Moving from acting out online to in-person affairs

You have EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE BEHAVIORS!  ALL OF THEM! And yet you what me to believe that its not that bad or that you just have a few minor compulsions.  Minor stuff wouldn’t ruin the lives of your wife and children!  Why is it so hard to grasp this concept?  How can you have every single addictive behavior and still say you do not have an addiction?  It is insane to hang on to this belief. You are living in absolute denial!

I feel anger towards you because…

You will not admit to what is plainly in front of your face!  This isn’t even bordering on plausible deniability! And yet, you want me to buy this load of crap you are selling me? It’s never going to happen!  Never!  There is nothing you can do or say that will ever change my mind short of a brain scan.  At any rate I am furious at you for thinking for one moment that I could be so gullible and stupid to even entertain your warped version of the truth.  I don’t know whether to be more offended that you would lie to me outright or that you think I would actually believe you! Either way your behavior is repulsive and insulting.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. You are an addict. Everyone knows it but you.

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The Marriage Covenant…

If you were going to do this to me, I wish you would have told me  long before now.  Wasn’t there a time that you were ready to throw me in the dumpster long before you had taken most of my life from me?  Couldn’t you have done this when we were younger so that I would have been in better health, not so wrinkled and more equipped to take care of myself?  Why now?  What were you thinking? Did you use all of me up, until there was nothing left, so you could toss me aside? No?  Because that is what it feels like.

On January 23rd 1979 we enter the Mesa Arizona Temple to be married and sealed for time and all eternity to each othmesa-templeer with very specific promises and covenants. “Do you covenant before God, angels and these witnesses that you will have no sexual relations with anyone to whom you are not legally and lawfully wedded?”  Didn’t you answer that question with a
“Yes?”  Didn’t you? Up until later that evening I had not had sex with anyone else but you.  You got all of me, clean and pure.  Did you do the same for me?  I  thought you did, but I suppose now I will never really know.  I honestly don’t know anything for sure anymore.  Everything I ever believed about
you, every assumption I had, every word you ever said to me is now called into question. Was my whole life with you a lie? If not, when did the lies start?

I feel anger towards you because… 

You broke our marriage covenants you made between me and Heavenly Father.  You obliterated our forever family.  You left your wife and children without a guide, to fend for themselves in the lone and dreary world.  You took the priesthood from our home.  You took away all the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. You had no right!

Oh sure, I can always remarry, blah, blah, blah.  We both know I will never be able to be someone’s second anything, not after all of this.  I just do not have the stomach for a second wife position. Besides, that is not how it goes down in my patriarchal blessing because YOU changed my story!

And all you can say in defense of yourself is that you “just made a series of bad choices.” Really? That is all you have to say for yourself? So much devastation over a simple “series of bad choices?” I’m sorry but there is so much more to it than that!

“Our soul is what’s at stake here–our spirit and our body. Paul understood that doctrine of the soul every bit as well as James E. Talmage did, because it is gospel truth. The purchase price for our fullness of joy–body and spirit eternally united–is the pure and innocent blood of the Savior of this world. We cannot then say in ignorance or defiance, “Well, it’s my life,” or worse yet, “It’s my body.” It is not. “Ye are not your own,” Paul said. “Ye are bought with a price.” So in answer to the question, “Why does God care so much about sexual transgression?” it is partly because of the precious gift offered by and through his Only Begotten Son to redeem the souls–bodies and spirits–we too often share and abuse in cheap and tawdry ways. Christ restored the very seeds of eternal lives (see D&C132:19, 24), and we desecrate them at our peril. The first key reason for personal purity? Our very souls are involved and at stake.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Of Souls, Symbols and Sacraments.)

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You were bought with a price!  And you knew better! Given what is at stake, wouldn’t it make sense that you would do all you could do to repair and restore your family? Wouldn’t it be a testament to your love and commitment to me and your children and grandchildren that you should demand the same changes in yourself that you so freely required of those around you? How is it that pride or stubbornness or resentment of any kind could or should come into play here?

The idea that you just made a few minor mistakes is ludicrous!  Your covenants at baptism, your lifelong membership in the church, your ordination to the priesthood and your covenants in the temple all belie the notion that you just made a series of wrong choices! How can any ordained priesthood holder expect his wife to believe that he just made a few mistakes?  If this is what you think, then you are lying to yourself and you are lying to God. The sin of adultery is second only in seriousness to murder.  Adultery is murder.  It is the murder of the soul.

No big deal, right? Forgive and forget, no harm no foul, let’s just pretend this never happened and we will just move on with our lives…one big happy family!  NOT! You got that pass the first time you did this.

And several more times for other things that I thought we unrelated…

You’re Not Easy to Live With…

In the best of circumstances you are  difficult. Controlling, critical,  and demanding, all come to mind.  I am not telling you anything you do not already know so there is no reasons to enumerate it.  Life with you is hard.  I cannot count the number of times I have had to completely change my behavior because something “bugged you.” I thought all of these demands were minor and they made you happy so I was happy to do them for you.  Isn’t that what couples do for each other, do their best to love, support and care for each others happiness? I didn’t know that, when it all was distilled down to the core issue that change was something for everyone else, not for you. The arrogance of this is stunning!  And looking back I see enough examples that it should have shot up a thousand red flags. I don’t know why I didn’t see them. Each time it happened my world was shaken to it’s core, but somehow I managed to bounce back and carry on as if it hadn’t happened.

The reality is that you are so free to critique others, but unable to take it for yourself.  This realization has caused me to think of you as arrogant, prideful, selfish and stubborn. I fear the worst that you are really a full blown narcissist.  If that is the case then this really is a psychosis and there is something more seriously wrong with you than an addiction.  If that is the case, then I really do just need to be rid of you.

I have brought these incidents up so many time that it feels futile to go over them again.  You will not listen or get it.  I am wasting my breath and I know that.  Everything I have to say has already been said, dozens of time, but here we go again:

Over the years I have seen a pattern with you that has been very disturbing and it is this – when things get really hard, you check out and leave it up to me to fix it.  When a problem is too big, your solution is to ignore it, leaving me to shoulder it alone.

My first mental health breakdown comes rushing back through the years and floods my memories with intense feelings.  The exquisite pain and loneliness I felt when I got out of the hospital.  The way you attacked me for how I handle it. How did you want me to handle it?  I had a breakdown, I wanted to kill myself. Zero compassion. Did it ever once occur to you to ask yourself why? I wanted you to go to counseling with me, but you couldn’t be bothered.  I tried to talk to you about what I was feeling and learning about myself and you would tell me you were not interested. I felt so isolated and abandoned and that was on top of all the feelings that therapy was bringing up for me.  I often liken the experience to having all my skin torn off and having to heal from that.  I was that raw, vulnerable and exposed.  This was the condition I was in while having to deal with your disdain. I also, took care of 3 small children and kept your house clean and meals prepared.  It was a miracle I got through it all, but I did! No wonder I believe in GRACE! In the end, you just ignored me and the problem, but there was one thing you couldn’t ignore. You reminded me nearly everyday how expensive the therapy was and how we couldn’t afford it.  The guilt I felt over it was nearly unbearable, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  I had had a breakdown and no amount of badgering me about it could change that or what I needed to move past it. Your monetary support is all you gave and you acted like that was enough, absolving your conscience of any other responsibilities to me.

The next one was daughter #2’s diagnosis of ADHD and then the subsequent diagnosis of profound OCD.  All of the symptoms going on with her left me feeling so helpless.  Her whole body and mind was out of control.  You were not any help.  Again.  Your solution to any big problem is avoidance.  Pretend it’s not there and it will go away.  Only I didn’t have that luxury.  Her future depended on us, but I was going to have to go it alone while you checked out.  So much for better or for worse huh? And this was really the worst of the worse.  I couldn’t even share with you how bad it really was, you just brushed it off.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that if I was going to help her that I needed to pull myself out of a depression that was coming on fast. I guess if you don’t have a husband to support you then medication and therapy work just about as well.

The biggest frustrations I had with our “arrangement” is your refusal to become educated on your daughter’s diagnosis.  “Just read the books and give me the Cliff Notes version of what they said,” you told me. This sounded good in theory, but you challenged everything I told you, so I felt as if I were defending my dissertation in psychology with every conversation! It was exhausting and wasted so much of my time and energy. You didn’t want to read it for yourself, but you wouldn’t take my word for it either!  Didn’t you know how exhausted I was from everything I was being forced to learn? Couldn’t you see that I was heartbroken over the diagnosis of what our daughter would have to face for the rest of her life? Didn’t you see how desperate I was to find a solution, use you as a sounding board, a confidant, a cheerleader? Did it ever occur to you that this parenting thing was a partnership and you shouldn’t have left the entire burden on my shoulders?  Again, you paid the bills, that was your contribution.

These were to two big ones, but there are dozens of other “little things” that added to the load of loneliness that I carried. There was the time I got a book for you for Christmas on how to improve our marriage.  I wanted to desperately to connect with you!  But the gift, and I, were both rejected. Not only rejected, but ridiculed and rebuffed.

Can we talk about the all the moves?  19 moves in 36 years.  That is insane by anyone’s count, even for the military.  Out of all of those moves, I only had your help for a handful of them, the ones we did ourselves.  The others were for job changes.  So you went off to new adventures while I stayed behind to pick up the pieces of all our devastated lives.  Kids crying, packing, arranging, medical, dental, electricity, gas, address changes, saying good-bye, and keeping everyone’s spirits up by trying desperately to find a silver lining to my darkening cloud…all by myself. With every move fibro came to visit me, and each time she stayed longer and longer until she was my constant com”pain”ion. I paid a terrible price and carried a crushing burden for the lack of connection and safety you kept from me. You had moved forward and left me to pick up all the pieces, every single time!

I feel anger towards you because…

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Now that you brought dozens of women into our lives and it has dumped all our lives upside down, you cannot be bothered to make a few changes in your own life to save our family!  (Not to mention saving yourself!) The demanding, controlling, and critical critiques of my behavior over the years is one thing, but what about when it’s your turn? Didn’t you often tell me when I would cry over something that you were criticizing me on that, “you were just trying to help me be a better person?” But when it is your turn to learn to be a better person, you will have NONE of it!?

How do I get that gig? I only have one thing to say to that… HYPOCRITE!

Years after the whole breakdown fiasco, you told me if you had it to do it over again that you would do it much differently.  I think we can put that hypothesis to bed. We both now know what you would do, because that is exactly what you did…the same damn thing! You bailed on me! This was just another lie.

Setting the House on Fire…

I told you when we were first married that I could handle anything in life with you, just please don’t cheat on me.  I had been through so much loss and pain in my life at the hands of careless men that it was the one thing I told you I could not handle. I guess you must not have believe me. Or maybe you just forgot? You know, with wrong choices and everything, it’s easy to forget about the one person who is supposed to be everything to you in your life.

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I used to find it easy to put up with so much of your mistreatment of me because you have always been intensely loyal to me. You didn’t even have friends to go out with on weekends so you could be with your family.  That always made me feel safe and secure because I knew you never wanted to be anywhere else but home with your family, with me. It gave me a false sense of security that no matter how critical of me you were, that you would never betray me.  I thought you were faithful to me. It was the one thing I could count on…no matter what.

You were always so busy with work, church and helping out around the house that I just felt like you would never cheat on me, you were just too busy.  Sometimes I felt like you were even too busy for me.

When I first found out about Hannah, I was devastated…to…my…core.  It would have felt better if you had just cut my heart out and ate it in front of me.  At least then I would have died instead of being among the walking dead. You rocked my world. You were the Bishop at the time.  How could you let so many people down?  You brushed away the enormity of this sin by saying, “you knew the Lord was making up the difference and wouldn’t let you lead others astray.”  Really?  You seriously believe that is how it works?  What about Alma the Younger or Corianton?  You seemed as oblivious then of the repercussions of your “mistakes” as you are now.  An entire ward was affected by what you did even if they didn’t know what had happened.  Not to mention your family.  And yet nothing was done to you.  A slap on the wrist and you were good to go.

At the time, I thought I would never recover. You made all sorts of promises to me then too, just like you did now.  You would do whatever it took.  But those promises were short lived.  It wasn’t long before the excuses came.  Therapy costs too much money,  you didn’t like how the medication made you feel, you don’t have an addiction.  You can control it yourself.  It will never happen again.  I need to just get over it and put it in the past.

Back then, nobody knew what betrayal trauma was.  It wasn’t a thing then.  But I felt the full force of it and was left on my own to deal with it in silence.  To cry about it when nobody could see me, to keep it to myself.  I felt so much shame I couldn’t talk about how I felt with anyone.  I was terrified other people would find out what you did and think less of you.

So I stuffed down the demons of my life that haunted me and shoved them in a deep dark dungeon and threw away the key.  Over time, things between us got better. Although, the thought of you touching me sometimes made my skin crawl.  When I had sex with you I would wonder who you were thinking about? Hannah was a faceless person.  I didn’t know if she was beautiful, only that she was the same age as our oldest daughter, a revelation that made me want to throw up when I thought about it.  All this stuffing of feelings just caused me to be distrusting of you and wondering when it would all come back.  I knew it would all come back…eventually.  I had read enough to know that much.

I feel anger towards you because… 

You gave me a false sense of security.  Now that this has happened again I have reviewed our life together over and over searching for any evidence that I did not see.  Why did you do this now?  What caused you to snap like this? Did I do something wrong?  No matter how many times I go over it, I cannot point to any evidence that would cause me to doubt you, until about 12 years ago.  It was right around that time that I started to see you change. Something happened.  Was this the first time you cheated on me? But I digress.

I am angry that your actions have caused me to question my entire life, thus my whole existence!  Is my whole life a lie?  Who would do that to another person, let alone their spouse? This is just diabolical at its core. How cruel can you be?

Livid. That is the only word that comes close to describing how I felt when I learned that our son caught you masterbating in the basement with her.  Our stalwart son.  Later, he confided in me that he was having dreams about you on his mission that he needed to come home from his mission to save you.  Well, he did end up coming home early and he did save you, from yourself.  When I told you about this later your response was, “well I certainly hope that isn’t the reason he came home.”  What an emotionally bankrupt thing to say?  You didn’t even recognize his sacrifice or to even thank him for it.  You were the cause of him not finishing his mission, something he had been preparing for diligently his entire life!  You took that away from him and didn’t even have the courage to thank him for it!  All of our children have sacrificed so much in their lives for you, but our son gave you that which was most important to him. You have so much to atone and account for.

Why would you not want to heal this rift between us?  Why did you want to wiggle out of repairing the damage?  How can you live with doing this to me? Somewhere inside I knew…things would never be ok again. You just don’t have want it takes.  I know this because you just don’t stand on principle, any principles. You run away. You are just not made of the stuff of heroes and this would take the courage of a hero to restore.  Only namby-pamby, milquetoast, yellow-bellied, mousy cowards choose to…

Burn it to the Ground…

Time heals all wounds, or so I am told.  And after 5 years I guess it had been just long enough for me to start letting my guard down.  We were moving into a new phase of our lives…empty nesters.  And I was just beginning to believe that this awful mess was  really behind us.  We got a Harley and we loved riding together.  It felt like our younger years, when we would sit and talk for hours.  I started to feel so close to you, closer than I had felt in years!  It felt good and it gave me hope for the future. Sitting behind you on the bike, with my arms wrapped around you for hours, talking through our headsets, it was a bit of heaven.  Until…

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The ultimate betrayal.  The very thing that I though was bringing us together was actually driving us apart.  Devastation on top of devastation.  Was I wrong to suggest that we buy the bike?  Was that inspiration I got about that wrong?  If I hadn’t encouraged you to get the bike would this have happened again?

It was all a lie.  You had been cheating on me for an entire year!  How did I not know?

I will never forget that night.  I was following the news about the Ferguson fires.  You were sitting in your easy chair with your feet  propped up on the ottoman and your computer was in your lap.  I was across the room on the love seat.  I had my iPhone and was listening to the news and following the twitter feed, when I got a text message from an unknown number.  What popped up when I opened it was a picture of your penis.  What followed was a rapid succession of text messages. “Your husband loves me, not you.” “You are living a lie.” “He is planning to leave you for me.”  With each text came the proof in pictures of the text messages you had with her confirming everything she said.  When they finally stopped I felt hot tears welling up behind my eyes.  The pressure was so intense I thought my eyeballs would pop out of their sockets.  I couldn’t see.  I couldn’t think. “What do I do?”  “What should I say?” “How do I respond?” My head was reeling.  I felt nauseous.  I wanted to scream and die at the same time.  “Oh God, please don’t let this be happening to me again!” I struggled to stand up, I was sure I would faint.

I know I crossed the room over to you at this point, with my phone in my hand. The picture of your penis clearly visible. “What is this?” I demanded!

What followed was a litany of excuses.  I stood there with the proof clearly in my hand!  How could you not see you were in over your head and your only choice was to come clean? With every question the lies multiplied until I felt that I was suffocating in a sea of deception.  I had to pull the plug on this, stop the lies or I was going to drown. In my head I was screaming, “please just stop, shut up, no more lies!”  So I just started hitting you.  I just wanted you to tell the truth to me or just shut up!  EVERY WORD YOU SPOKE WAS A LIE!

I was consumed by the feeling that my life was in danger!  You had to go or I did, one or the other. You couldn’t possibly love me if you did this to me.  My reality settled on the notion that you were a stranger to me and that I didn’t really know you at all.  So at that moment you became dangerous to me.  My only goal at that moment was to get you as far away from me as possible. I learned later that I was experiencing a flood of cortisol and adrenaline to my system that caused a feeling of intense fear, anxiety and panic.  You could have been a lion trying to eat me for all I knew.

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I was only beginning to understand just how dangerous you really had become to me. You lied so much to me that first night that I  threw you and all your things out of our bedroom and locked the door.  Then I stayed up all night searching for the truth.  Any truth I could find.  I started with the phone records.  When it was all said and done, 15 phone numbers I didn’t recognize with hundreds of text messages to them each month, going back for an entire year. Between 6,000 and 8,000 text messages a month for your number alone.  That is a lot of connecting to women in cheap and tawdry ways Scott. It was 4 am when I finally succumbed to sleep.  I woke up 3 hours later to the noise of the shower from the other bathroom.  I just stayed in my room until you left.

After talking to family members I knew I had to get out of our apartment and go somewhere I felt safe.  I called the Bishop and he didn’t talk me out of it, in fact he encouraged it if I felt unsafe.  So I went to daughter #1’s house house.  Thanksgiving was just in a few days so there was a lot to do to stay occupied during the day.

Nights were another thing. Over the next few weeks I alternating  between feeling totally raw to completely numb.  Numb was better, so I tried to go and stay there as much as possible, but it felt like I was having an out of body experience.  I could see myself going through the motions but I couldn’t feel anything.  When I cried it was more like a primal scream so I had to go someplace else to cry so my kids didn’t hear me.  I woke up all during the night, nearly every hour, always with tears running down my cheeks.

Those next few weeks were filled with more lies and half truths than I could ever remember.  Each lie sent me seeking for the truth.  I had to know.  I did things I have never done before. Texting complete strangers, or calling them.  Searching bank records, credit card bills.  Having my son-in-law track down some of these women online.  I became a first class detective.  I had to.  It was for my own sanity and defense.  If I was going to catch you in your lies I had to have the truth.  What comes out eventually is gut wrenching.  You had been paying the “discloser” money to keep her mouth shut, to the tune of $6,000 over a year’s time. You had met a woman in person in Las Vegas while you were on a job interview, but you didn’t sleep with her, so that’s ok, right? You managed to find a way to blamed me for that one because I didn’t want to go on that trip with you!  Silly me! I didn’t know you needed a freaking babysitter to make sure you didn’t lose all control and hook up with random women! Sorry Dear, this was premeditated.  She drove to meet you there from Phoenix, that takes some planning.

What became clear is that I couldn’t go back to you.  So I had to do the unimaginable, separate from you. You were just too toxic because you couldn’t see what you had done to me.  Every lie you  told me made it less and less safe to stay.  It took only a week for me to realize I would not be able to come back to you anytime soon. So daughter #2 and I made plans to find an apartment.  It was a blessing that everything fell right into place so easily that I knew that Heavenly Father was right there with me, working out every detail.  I couldn’t have done it without him.  So much of it is a blur.

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37 years of marriage down the toilet.  There was a part of me that knew this would be the end.   I wanted desperately for you to come and take me in your arms, tell me you had lied, and tell me everything.  I prayed every night that you would find the humility to want to make this right between us. Every passing day crushed that dream. You would never choose me.  And  you didn’t.

And all this was BEFORE you were excommunicated!  After that, it was no holds barred!  Instead of turning to restore your family, instead of choosing to repent and come back to God and your family, you chose to run headlong over the cliff of infidelity.  Self destruction was your remedy as you selfishly threw all your principles, obligations, morals, covenants, and responsibilities over the cliff and then you willfully and blindly following them right over the edge careening to your certain destruction.

In that first family meeting we had with our Bishop, he said you had set fire to the house that was our family. He told you it was up to you to put out the fire and start to rebuild it.  The responsibility for this was put squarely on you. What I didn’t know at the time is that you had already slept with other women. You were making your choices and it wasn’t choosing me or your family.  You weren’t even choosing your own integrity!

I waited for you to find yourself.  For 18 months I waited, and worried and prayed and fretted. It was all for nothing. You had no intention of doing what was needed to get me back.  You refused to fight for me!  I wanted you to fight for me!

I feel anger towards you because…

Little did I know at the time that your intention was to throw gasoline on the flames and burn it in totality, down to the ground!

Over the next 18 months you would put me through the most unimaginable torture.  A torture so horrendous and so completely diabolical that it could only be contrived by the most evil of intentions.  After all, you don’t have an addiction, so this must have been done with 100% clarity.

It is hard to recall any of it without doubling over in stomach convulsions.  However, a definite pattern emerged that became very predictable.  It went like this;

  • You would promise to do everything you could to get our family back.
  • Profess your love for me.
  • I would believe this and try to come up with ways to repair our relationship.
  • You would withdraw from me.
  • Then you would seek “connections” with other women.
  • That resulted in shame so you would ignore me.
  • I would get angry at being ignored.
  • You would eventually come back and apologize.
  • Rinse. Repeat.

This went on for months.  The only part that was missing for me is that I didn’t know you were still seeing other women.  I suspected it.  I asked you about it.  Each question was met with denial and contempt for me daring to even ask you such a thing. How dare I! In my gut I knew. In my heart I knew. Trips to the temple and confirmation of the Spirit revealed it to me. But you would just deny, deny, deny, deny.  Lie, lie, lie, lie. And you would make me out to be the beast for not trusting you or believing you, without you ever doing anything to earn that trust or belief.  You acted as if you still in possession of deposits in the trust account, when actually, it had been overdrawn for years. You  could have made additional deposits immediately with the truth, but you declined.

Each encounter with you would leave me flooded with chemicals in my body that caused me to  experience intense feeling of fight, flee or freeze.  I felt like a puppet who was being controlled by your every whim. Unable to cut the strings of control you had over me or use my will to react to you in healthy ways, I saw you as the enemy. I was forced to protect what little there was left of me with everything I had.  This was exhausting! I was a drained emotional and physical wreck nearly every single day.  Each time you called or texted me I was, all at once, craving attention from you and terrified of how that attention would come. I felt like a rag doll that you used for your own twisted purposed and once you got what you wanted I was tossed aside and forgotten until you needed another fix from me that would help you justify your behavior. You did this to me over and over and over for 1 and 1/2 years!  I was flooded with chemicals to my body and brain that left me with life long issues that I may never recover from.  Blowing out my adreanal gland, causing my heart to race and skip beats, sinking into a deep depression, being suicidal, developing PTSD; the effect on my body was merciless! It would have been better if you had just killed me outright!

I am full of outrage and contempt toward you, not because of what you did to me to begin with, although that cannot be completely overlooked because it is a symptom of something in you that is deeply disturbing, but the real underlying fury that boils just beneath the surface is because of the way you treated me after the fact! Nothing you have done in the last 18 months has shown me that you are serious or committed to me or our marriage.  Nothing! Zip! Zilch! Nada! It was all words and no actions. You even fought against me with everything you had over seeking the help we needed to start on the road to recovery.  Resistant is too mild a word. You picked fights with me after our group sessions.  You ignored me after our marriage counseling and even went home afterwards to hang out with other women in chatrooms!  You were not serious about me!  You used me.  You humiliated me.

I took you at your word!  I believed you when you said you wanted me back, when you said you wanted our family back! So my actions were based on that assumption. What I didn’t know is that your’s weren’t! This is the recipe for crazy making at it’s finest, also known as gaslighting.  You were trying to change my reality! While you were set up a perfect plan to drive me out of my mind, I was blasted at every turn for “beating you up” for not doing enough!  The reality is that you were not doing enough, because you had not even started doing anything.  You hadn’t really chosen me. You wern’t just sitting on the fence, you were playing both sides of it.  You were having your cake and eating it too, why not?  I didn’t know what you were really doing behind my back.  You could tell me anything you wanted and I was just expected to believe you.

I later learned the extent of the jolly old time you were having in San Diego the whole time you lived there!! You were drowning your sorrows with anything that walked by in a skirt.  Your favorite pastime was to tell them what a shrew your wife was and that you were getting a divorce! As if that made adultery any less abhorrent.  Whatever lie you can tell yourself to assuage your guilt, right? No harm, no foul, right?  The problem is that while you were doing all this acting out in total secrecy, you were telling me that you would do anything to get me back!  Did you really think you could get away with that? Please explain to me the logic behind this kind of thinking, because it totally escapes me!  Would you seriously buy this fabricated flimsy story if someone tried to sell it to you? I honestly believe that you wouldn’t know that truth if walked up to you, introduced itself and punched you in the face! The truth was that you were seeing and chating and sleeping with other women and lying about it.

It turns out that you NEVER stop cheating on me with other women!  Not once in the entire 18 months!  You never gave me a chance to show you what I was made of.  You never allowed me back in your life long enough to prove I could stand by you.  You never once gave us a real, fighting chance! You never allowed me to forgive you because you refused to show any signs of repentance.

Am I angry at this? Yes!  And I have every right to be angry!  You cheated on me, lied about it over and over, lied to me about your  subsequent intentions, set out to drive me crazy over it because you couldn’t make up your mind about what you wanted, you kept me strung along on your vapid promises for over 18 months.

You threw our lives away! You threw our family away!  You threw me away! You took 37 years of all we had built with hard work, blood, sweat and tears and burned it all to the ground! Who do you think you are?

All that is Left is Ashes…

Destroyed means to put an end to the existence of something by damaging it or attacking it. Kill by inhumane means. To ruin someone emotionally or spiritually. Demolish. Knock down. Level. Raze. Wreck. Ruin. Shatter. Blast. Blow up.  No matter how it is defined the end results are horrific!

You nearly D..E..S..T..R..O..Y..E..D ME!  That is not hyperbole, exaggeration, magnification, overkill, excess or embellishment.  That is a fact.  Indisputable. Backed up by a team of professionals that take care of me, not to mention, dozens of friends who are all mystified that you would do such a thing to me.  All that is left of me is in the ashes that used to be our life together.

I still wake up sometimes, crying in my sleep, I didn’t know such a thing was possible.  I still can’t sleep like I should.  I still wake up in the morning and my first thought is what you did to me and it is the last thing that I think about before I go to bed.  You haunt me in my nightmares. But the dreams are the most devastating because you come to me and do everything I imagined you would to heal us in my dreams, maybe that is why I cry in my sleep.

I gave you everything I have, there is nothing left to give.  I tried my hardest to save you, to save us, but I cannot save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. It is like a drowning man who won’t relax in the water and it bent on taking his rescuer under with him.  You are taking me down with you so I had to make the devastating choice to cut you loose so I can save myself.  The realization of this decision is horrifying! I never in my wildest imaginings would have come to this conclusion for us. If I don’t let go of you then I will drown as well.  You must save yourself, if there is to be any saving.

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Someday, in the not too distant future, you will come back to yourself and realize just exactly what you have done.  But by then, it will be too late.  You wasted 18 months believing you never had a chance, that you never deserved a chance, that nobody could ever want you again, that I could never want you again.  But you are completely wrong in your assumptions.

You could have had it all back, restored to it’s fulness and then some, because God is truly merciful and kind and gracious to all of his children who have the courage to change and repent.  It didn’t have to end this way.  Once you realize that, I won’t need to be angry with you anymore, you will be angry enough for all of us.

That will be the final irony.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

abuse, betrayal, Coping, Emotional, gaslighting, lying, My Story, Narcissist, no contact, PTSD, Trauma Recovery

Walking Away…for the Last Time

Please tell me I am not the only one!  Here I sit, almost 6 months after my divorce, still renumerating over the last two years of my life.  I wanted it to turn out so much differently.  I never wanted this!  I keep going over  and over and over it in my head, trying to pick up every piece of my life, I kneel down, see a new shattered aspect of my life, pick it up, and turn it over in my hand searching for a new clue to what happened to me.  What could I have done better?  What did I miss?  Was it really my fault, like he tells me it is? Why doesn’t he love me enough to get himself into recovery?  How did I find myself here…alone.  The things I do to myself in my head are excruciating.  My mind is my own best instrument of torture.  I carry the instruments of torture with me, everywhere I go.  This is not where I am supposed to be at this point of my life!  Why me!?

3a130e1702bb214d8924617f73a5d659I live in this space of pain everyday.  Often, sleep is my only escape.  Even then, I sometimes wake up, only to realize I was crying in my sleep. Tears spill out of my closed eyelids and down my cheeks before I wake up.  My face bathed in tears while I am sleeping!  How is that even possible?

Walking away from an addict, I am finding out, is more difficult than I thought it would be.  It is hard to understand it.  It’s a whole other level of crazymaking that I had not even anticipated.  He spent two years driving me crazy with his crazymaking, now I will finish myself off with mine.  Whoever said that addiction doesnt hurt anyone but the person doing it is lying!

Silly me, I keep thinking he would or could get a handle on himself to repair his relationships to a minimum level of civility so we could at least be in the same room.  Alas, that is not to be.  At least not for a long time.  My kids keep telling me its going to take their dad years to come back to himself, if ever.  I try to wrap my brain around this.  This man who had it all together for decades of marriage, is such a mess, he may never come out of it.  How is that possible?

So here is the dilemma.  Do I keep torturing myself with all the what ifs, could have beens, and shoulds? Or do I move on with what only I have control of? Me.  Me? I divorced him to save me, after all!  And here I am, still stuck in the prinson of abuse of my own making.  Why do I do this to myself?  What would make a perfectly sane person succumb to the insanity of another person?

It turns out that this is a thing!  I have become addicted to the addict!  Crazy! Right?  In this article, “Your Brain on Love, Sex and the Narcissist” I learned much about my own baffling behavior over the past 6 months.

Many survivors of narcissistic abuse are confounded by the addiction they feel to the narcissist, long after the abusive relationship took a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Make no mistake: recovery from an abusive relationship can be very similar to withdrawal from drug addiction due to the biochemical bonds we may develop with our toxic ex-partners. Shahida Arabi 

It is important to understand that women in relationships with addicts are battling so much more than just the behaviors of the addict.  It is also the same as being held hostage and tortured emotionally. No wonder so many of us end up with PTSD!  We are literally on the frontline of a battle for the health and survival of the family.  Many women willingly put themselves in the line of fire for their husbands, children, and families. That is what women do! It is in our natures to protect our family. But being in the battle, especially if we have been battling without the right equipment for our protection, leaves us vulnerable to being injured, and even, captured by the “enemy.”

Understanding why we are addicted permits us recognize that our addiction is not about the merits of the narcissist, but rather the nature and severity of the trauma we’ve experienced. It enables us to detach and move forward with powerful knowledge that can propel us towards greater agency and healthier relationships than the ones we’ve experienced in the past. In addition, it challenges the victim-blaming discourse in society that prevents many abuse survivors from gaining support and validation for the traumas they’ve experienced – validation that would actually help, not hinder, these survivors in leaving their abusive relationships. Shahida Arabi 

I was able to escape my abuse.  But the lasting effects of PTSD keep me reliving the experiences, and that isn’t healthy.  What was a relief is that I am not crazy.  This is a thing!  A real thing!

I had a long talk with my son about this over the weekend.  I just need to walk away.  The only way to healing for me is NO CONTACT with my ex.  I need the time and space and time to shrug off the effects of my own addiction to my ex.  Like my son told me, “You do not want him the way he is now. So why waste anymore time on him? If you met him for the first time today you wouldn’t give him another thought. You might not go on a first date with him, and certainly not a second date. So why are you wasting your time on him now?” All of these are fair questions and something I have been seriously thinking on now for a few days. It is time, no past time, to get serious about going no contact if I am going to really survive the last two years.

What is NO CONTACT?  How do you do it?

It’s difficult to go NO CONTACT with an addict/abuser. However, when you are in the situtation where NO CONTACT is necessary, here are affirmations to help you to stick with it.

I want to make one last point, something that will end this on a more spiritual note.  My faith has been really suffering since my divorce.  In many ways I feel as if the Lord has abandoned me.  I feel, completely, utterly, alone, spiritually speaking, more often than not.  This weekend I dedicated my study efforts on the General Conference talk  “What Lack I Yet?”  by Larry Lawrence.  I have committed to ask the Lord each day what I am Lacking that is holding me back and keeping me from moving forward.  The answers have been interesting and helpful and have served as a witness to me that I am not alone!  I am seen. I am heard.  And I am loved by the Lord.  He is here, willing and ready to help me if I will turn to him. Here is my example:

I was praying fervently this morning about why I am having such a hard time getting my Ex out of my head.  Why do I think about him ALL.THE.TIME? I can’t seem to break out of this cycle no matter how hard I try. What is wrong with me? I asked the Lord for help in getting him out of my head.  I am really sick of this.  It isn’t fun for me and I do not enjoy it at all.  I want to be happy! Please, Lord, help me to be happy!  The answer came.  It came quite quickly and forcefully, but ever so kind:

Cupcake, why do you spend every waking thought on the Cheater? He is not your Savior, I am! Your every thought should be on me, not him. In this way, are you not betraying me also?

Whoa! I think this is a breakthrough moment for me.  The way to stop obsessing on the Ex is to put all my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and attention on the Savior.  He will then be able to save me.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, betrayal, gaslighting, lying, My Story, PTSD

The Girlfriend

I havent written anything for a few weeks.  It seems that my way of operating is to grow silent when bad things are happening.  I do not know why I do it.  Maybe because I want a solution to manifest before I share it so that it will have a “happy ending.”  Sometimes I am just processing and trying to make sense of it all. Most of the time, I just do not know what to say.  My life is so, well…weird.  If it were not happening to me I would think it was a fantastical work of fiction full of drama, triangles, intrigue and suspense.  What this story is NOT, is a love story.  No love here.  Just pain. Raw. Primal. Screaming pain. Before I go on; you have to know this isn’t going to be pretty, not even close.  And there isn’t any happy ending that I can see. So if you are not up for it, I get it. if you keep reading – you have been warned.

So here is what has been happening:

My Ex has happily announced for all of Facebook to read, that he has a serious girlfriend. Already you ask?  Yep.  Turns out the ink wasn’t even dry on the divorce papers.  I knew it was coming.  I just didnt think it would be quite so fast.  But this was so fast that it sent shockwaves of hurt and anger through the lives of our kids, and of course, me.  Nobody is happy about it, but it’s not our call.  Let go, and let God and all those palatitudes we tell ourselves to feel better, right?  I can deal with it, it was bound to happen.  He can’t seem to live in his own skin without a woman around to tell him how wonderful he is. I have no illusions, at this point, that he will wake up one day and realize how awful he has been and shower me with love and work to mend my shattered heart and family.  I sometimes indulge in that fantasy, but it really is just that, a fantasy. No sense in sugar coating it.

However, to my great surprise and amazement, I thought the fantasy might materialize over the past two weeks.  I don’t want to get your hopes up and I hate to be a spoiler, but it didn’t happen.  How it went down is, perhaps, instructive for someone else experiencing what it is like to be at the end of the line in rough game of “crack the whip.” I have used words like nightmare, merry-go-round and rollercoaster to describe the heart pounding, breathtaking (not in a good way) and dizzying ride my Ex has had me on over the last, almost, 2 years.  But this is especially cruel, although, I understand, not uncommon coming from a “non-addict.”

So it turns out that, said girlfriend, makes an amazing observation!  She believes that Ex is still in love with me.  Therefore, she cannot move forward in a relationship with him until he resolves his feelings for me and the rift he has with his kids.  So Ex trots off, dutifully, back to me to fulfill her request.  He wants to see if he really has any feelings left for me. Awesome. Right?

He tells me he wants to see if there is any chance at reconciliation.  I tell him what I have always told him, for the entire past few years. “You are always welcome back in my life if you do the necessary work of recovery, which is, to provide me with the safety and connection that I need from you.  To remind you, the way to provide safety is with honesty and transparency about what you have done and how you will stop it from happening in the future.  You provide connection with open communication and by reparing the damage you have done.”  I beleive I deliver this request with clarity.  Succinctly and honestly.  No beating around the bush.  Just straight up.  There is no need to be coy at this point.  This is what I need from him, and the reason I divorced him is because he couldn’t, or woudn’t, do it.

So I decide to let him make his case to me, again.  I tell him what I need and he agrees to finally be honest with me and listen to me so that I feel seen and heard.  It goes ok for a few days.  He is doing better than he has ever done up until this point, at holding my pain and listening to how his betrayal has really effected me.  I tell him how I am shattered.  I share articles about PTSD and Betrayal Trauma and what it takes to heal from that. It gets to be too much and he can’t quite handle my rock of pain.  I don’t blame him, it is quite large and heavy, I know – I’ve been carrying it around for almost two years. And when I have tried to hand it to him to hold for a while, it scares him and he runs away.  I would run away from it too, if I could. (Incidentally, being ignored has the same effect on the mind as being physically abused.  So if you are being ignored and it really, really hurts, it’s not in your head.  It is real!  The pain is real! (Read about the study here.)

After endless conversations that are starting to run in circles again, I decide it is time to get to the bottom of what he is trying to do. What does he want? Really want?  It turns out, that what he really wants is her, so he is trying to convince himself he doesn’t love me.  This is where it takes a turn for the worst.  I call him out on his “plan” to use me to justify his behavior.  This is where he starts turning the tables and all of the old excuses come flying out of his mouth at me like daggers.  His aim is true and each dagger makes its way straight to my heart. I have, unwittingly, left myself exposed again.

Here is the bottomline.  He can’t give me what I need because he needs to have some sort of assurance I won’t get mad and just leave him holding the bag, so to speak. He needs for me not to be so angry with him.  He isn’t sure I am worth the effort. I will never really forgive him so why should he put in that much effort.  If I really still loved him I would not have divorced him in the first place.  So here we are stuck.  Again.  In the same place our “discussions” mostly end up.  He wants assurance from me.  I need assurances from him.  Works to back up his words.  The problem is that he doesnt understand that he is the betrayer, I am the betrayed.  In this instance, the betrayer ALWAYS has to go FIRST!  Ladies, it is HIS responsibility to provide you with the safety, honesty, transparancy and connection that YOU need.  THEN once HE does that it is YOUR job to respond with appropriate encouragement. Not the other way around.  He betrayed me, not the other way around.  It is critical that you keep this perspective.

Notice all the denial statements above. It is common behavior for the addict to use all kinds of denial tactics to keep from taking the responsibility for their actions. So they have a litany of denial weapons to choose from and they will use them all, sometimes all in the same conversation.

Denial looks like the following; blame, rationalizing, turning the tables, lying, guilting, and my personal favorite, gaslighting.  Gaslighting is dangerous and if it is happening to you then you are more prone to develop longer term trauma and even PTSD.  Do not allow yourself to be gaslighted. Also, most “non-addicts” will display many narcissistic tendencies because the lying causes them to be so self absorbed in protecting the lies that no one or no thing can be as important as keep their secrets.

If you are experiencing any of the above, the best thing you can do is to trust your gut.  Your instincts will nearly always be correct, listen to them and follow them.  The one thing I regret more than anything is not protecting myself from addict abuse better.  I allowed myself to continue to be abused far longer than I should have.  Please don’t make the same mistakes.  Above all, do not think you are able to overcome this alone, you are not. You need a support system and some professional guidance to navigate the world of a “non- addict.”

The only thing I can tell you, is what was told to me the first day I went to therapy.  “A man has two tongues, the one in his mouth, and the one on his shoes.  Ignore what the one in his mouth is saying, and watch what the one on his shoes does.  That is the only way you will really know when he is telling the truth.” To me, this is the only way to really know for sure.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Strong, Be Sweet (as best you can)

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