abuse, betrayal, Emotional, healing, infidelity, Mental, Narcissist, PTSD, Self Care, Trauma Recovery

Where Focus Goes Energy Flows

Are you having obsessive thoughts? What are obessive thoughts? Why are they related to betrayal trauma? These questions, and others, will be addressed in this post to help you better understand the connection between betrayal trauma and obsessive thoughts, how to handle them, and the best ways to get past them.

Obessive thoughts happen as a result of being betrayed by your primary relationships. This is the one person you always thought you could count on for safety, love, and survival. And now you can’t. This causes a trauma so deep that it is difficult, but not impossible, to recover from it. Betrayal trauma mimics the symptoms of PTSD, and for good reason! Being betrayed by your primary attachment relationship is dvastating!

Thinking. Girl solving a problem. Conceptual image.

Dr. Randi Gunther, PhD says, “The partner who has been betrayed is emotionally tortured and humiliated when knowledge of the infidelity emerges. They are clearly in trauma and experience the same array of symptoms that professionals now describe as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Similar to any others who have suffered threats to their physical or emotional well-being and security, they are disoriented and confused by what has happened.”

Many women that I talk to have a similar experience to the quote below;

“Ever since I found out about the affair, I can’t stop thinking about what happened. I have repeated nightmares. My faith in trust and love is demolished. The person I believed in most in the world betrayed me without seeming to care. If I’d known something was wrong, maybe I could have stopped it before it got going. I spin between being devastated and being enraged. I can’t seem to find any peace, knowing that there is probably more than I will ever be told. I feel like a fool, humiliated, and broken. How could my partner do this to me?” 

Also, if the affairs and lying go on for months or years without any improvement in the behaviors of the betraying spouse it is abuse! When this abuse continues, it results in trauma bonding. It is also more than likely that the addict is exhibiting narcissistic behaviors resulting from his sex or porn addiction. Being in a relationship with a narcissistic partner is also abuse and can cause long term damage to you, and your children. It is important to name these experiences for what they are so you can reassure yourself that you are not over reacting to the affairs,ifidelity, and behaviors of your partner!

When your primary attachment relationship partner cheates on you, it is abuse! When he hides that affair from you, it is abuse! When he lies about it, it is abuse! When he continues to do it after the affair is discovered it is abuse! And when you endure this abuse over long periods of time you will likely develop betrayal trauma and PTSD. I wish someone had told me this, because had I known what was happening to me, I would have left immediately. Just the obsessive thoughts is enough to make a person feel crazy and nobody wants that!

I became aware of my obsessive thoughts very early on in my Cheaters betrayal. In the beginning it was obsessing about what he was doing, who he was with, and how I was going to help him get over his addiction. Later on, the list of things I could obess about over him grew exponentially. What is he doing? Where is he going? Who is he with now? Why did he leave me? Why didn’t he love me enough to fight for me? Why did he destroy our family? …and on and on and on, to infinity and beyond!

Why? Why? Why?

And almost always the thoughts centered on him! Not me! I was suffocating in the thoughts of him and completely ignoring me. At first I thought that thinking about him would help me. But it did not help me. It still doesn’t help me.

It is important to understand that obsessive thinking isn’t a pathological response to trauma. It is a normal response. Until you take steps to grapple with shattered assumptions and construct a story about the affair that makes sense to you, you will be prone to obsessing. In other words, obsessive thoughts may intrude throughout the process of recovery until healing is complete. But how do you heal from something that is so all encompassing and consuming?

A turning point in gaining control of my obsessive thoughts was when I was listening to a guided mediations, and the voice said, “focus goes, energy flows.” Later in the same meditation the same thought was reframed, “what you focus on grows.” A light bulb when on in my brain! I was allowing him to be the focus and center of my attention, and by doing so he was growing in power and energy in my mental and physical world. I decided then and there that this had to stop!

Energy flows where attention goes.

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Later, in my healing journey a came across the idea that my thoughts create my reality. I became aware that what I was thinking about really had a tremendous impact on my outer world. Did I really want him and his betrayal of me to become the focus of my world. This thought process is what made me stop writing this blog as much. I knew I had to focus more on healing to be able to continue to help others heal. “Where focus goes, energy flows.”

I have to explain two things here before we begin;

  • This doesn’t mean you have to ignore all the hard emotions your are experiencing! In fact, it will be important for you to address them, so you can heal from them. I will talk about how to do that more in future posts.
  • Mastery of your thoughts takes time! So please be patient with the process. It takes a lot of work to master your mind! Do not think that you are a failure because it doesn’t happen overnight. Depending on how pervasive your trauma and abuse were, it could take years to overcome it. Don’t be discouraged by this, anything worthwhile takes practice. Healing from this is worthwhile! It will bless you and those around you for generations.

So lets get started!

Many traditional therapy modalities have great tools for overcoming obsessive thoughts, and I use, or have used, many of them. for example, journaling is very beneficial. There is much good that happens from putting all the thoughts you have down on paper, or in a blog, to get them from living in your head. Also, I loved the idea of giving myself permission to obsess for a determined amount of time, sort of like getting it out of my system! EMDR was also a lifesaver! I was so disturbed by what was going on in my inner world that I was willing to try anything to get some relief from my own mind! But in my healing journey I wanted to go deeper. I felt that I had only scratched the surface in healing with regular therapy. There had to be more! Enter energy healing

So to the list of traditional therapy tools for obsessive thought I add a few of my own;

  • Grounding – this is a great tool to get your thoughts out of your head and push all that energy down into your lower chakras, specifically the root and solar plexus, where it can be transformed into positive actions. When you take the time to ground, you will be better equiped to take action and complete tasks.
  • Get out in Nature – Along with grounding, there is something very healing about being out in nature! Take the time to just be outside. I have a patio surrounded by trees and bushes. I planted flowers in pots and it has really become a natural oasis. Sometimes I just like to sit out there and read book. (Reading is also a great way to redirect your thoughts!)
  • Meditation – Meditating is critical for developing healthier thought patterns! I meditate now for at least an hour a day. If I don’t meditate then I feel the difference. If I do mediate it helps everything else in my day go better. I have tried meditations apps that I love and work for me I like Insight Timer the best. I also use lots of free YouTube videos, here are some of the channels I subscribe to .
  • Prayer and Scripture Study – Also critical to controlling obsessive thoughts is connecting to God. It’s important to daily remind yourself what He thinks of you and wants for you in your life. There is a quote that fits perfectly to explain why this is important. “If you want to talk to God – pray, if you want God to talk to you – study your scriptures.” Nearly every single day I get an answer to an important question that I have been searching for, just by studying my scriptures.
  • Exercise – I’ve learned that there is no better way to get out of your head than to get physical. I am not a big exerciser. I don’t love it to be honest! But I have to do it, to stay in my own recovery. Everyone can find some way to physically release energy! In the process of healing I found that some of the Eastern exercise modalities where very beneficial to me and very doable. If you don’t love exercise then check into the more meditative forms of yoga, Tai Chi, and QiGong. Recently, I came across the videos of Misti Tripoli and her dance system called Body Groove. It’s exercise through dance! I used to love to dance in my life before marriage. So I thought I would go back to that time and renew an old love. This is a paid program, but you can find many free videos on YouTube to get you started. I have provided links to some of the videos I like. Even if you can’t exercise there are things you can do to get physcial. Some idea are; exercising from a chair, walking, or working with your hands in clay.
  • Affirmations – Change your thoughts, change your life! It is really true! Scripturally speaking “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” What do you think about? In the beginning of my trauma healing I would listen to affirmation videos on YouTube for hours on end. I just put my headphones in and listened while I went about my day. I listened in my car (Don’t mediate in the car while you are driving!) Affirmations are not mediations. These are positive thoughts that will help you reprogram your mind to think in a more affirmative way.
  • Gratitude – I must admit, I didn’t feel like I had much to be grateful for! The love of my life betrayed me and destroyed my family, it was hard to find gratitude! But then I learned about the energetic frequency of gratitude. It turns out that gratitude vibrates at about 900mhz and God is at 1000mhz. Gratitude is really, energetically speaking, the quickest way to get close to God, and I wanted to be close to Him more than anything. So, as the angels would have it, I found a gratitude practice. It literally fell in my lap! I know now that when things come to me, it is for a reason, so I set about doing a 28-day gratitude practice. It not only changes my thoughts, but also my outlook on life in general! Give it a try!

These are all tools that you can use for yourself without any special training. I used them when I was in the middle of my traumatic responses, I still use them today. You may find is that trauma changes you in profound ways. I cannot tell you how much it has changed me and my life! I have had to completely reinvent myself and my life, particularly how I do things on a daily basis. Many, if not most, of these tools I listed above I MUST do daily, or at a minimum, weekly to keep my mind in balance. It is imperative that you start a daily self-care routine and practice it just like you would practice as sport or musical instrument. I still have to quiet obsessive thoughts, not as much as I used to, on a regular basis. I had to come to terms with the idea that this may be my new normal. However, a life of meditation, grounding, scripture study, prayer, exercise and affirmations is not a bad thing! Being traumatized will change your life, whether those changes are for your healing or destruction is totally up to you!

Change your thoughts, Change your life!

If you find that these tools are not enough and you need more help ask to join my private facebook page Empowered Healing where I go over more in depth tools I use for healing.

Coming Soon! You can also book a session with me for one-on-one coaching. I never want you to feel like you have no place to go or no one to help you!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, betrayal, divorce, infidelity, repentance, Spiritual

Next to Murder

In my experience, when a man has betrayed his wife and family and his addiction has been discovered the overwhelming response of those in positions of help and authority has been to encourage the betrayed wife to reconcile with her husband, no matter how grevious the betrayal has been. In the church, leaders are told not to even so much as suggest she leave her husband. I am so dismayed by this. I understand the hesitancy to counsel for a divorce, but this is a sin next to murder in seriousness and the only sin that Jesus, himself, said rose to the level of a divorce.

Alma 39:3-5

And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlotIsabel.

Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.

Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?

I am shocked that this is not taught more clearly to women who come to church leaders for counsel in the case of adultery and infidelity.

It seems that the church policy has been to ignore this very clear doctrine in favor of the social construct of reconciliation. I know that the Church is not condoning this, but individual Church Leaders seem to be taking matters into their own hands. Instead the betrayed spouse is encouraged to deny her own feelings of intense betrayal in favor of forgiving the unfaithful husband without any assurances from him that he will get into recovery for his issues. Nt only that, but infidelity and cheating is considered abuse! The number of times reconciliation is pushed on the betrayed wife is stunning! Women all over the church and from all walks of life are being encouraged to suffer more abuse silently in support of a porn or sex addicted husband. I knew several women in my support group that had been supporting thier husbands in their addictions for 20 years! I could not see myself doing this. I would not allow myself to wither and die on the vine while he indulged in his addictions for decades. After all, I had no idea how long he had already had this problem in his life. It would be impossible for Church Leaders to know either.

In a return to solid doctrine, Church Leaders should teach that the woman with an adulterous husband has no obligation to remain with him. Indeed the scriptures are clear on this issue;

“In the Book of Mormon, Korihor taught the people of Zarahemla that there were no absolute moral standards, only “foolish traditions … which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so” (Alma 30:14, 16). In his devilish line of reasoning, people might pursue any earthly gratification without fear of punishment or guilt…”

“Anyone choosing to embrace immoral thoughts and deeds instead of hearkening to the Savior’s commandments is to be barred from his kingdom (see Gal. 5:16–211 Ne. 15:33–34).”

“Sometimes we limit our own progress by thinking of minimum expectations as maximum goals. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is the minimum expectation the Lord has of our conduct towards each other. The higher, celestial law is: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.”

“And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out” (D&C 42:22–23D&C 63:16). (reference to talk.) The Lord clearly sees this as serious. I do not believe that he would have his daughters suffer this kind of abuse in the favor of his sons, but that is exactly what appears to be happening, maybe even unintentionally.

I don’t pretend to want to, or need to, tell the Church what they sould or shouldn’t do, doctrinally or by policy. But I can address what I wish would have been done for me. Women who find themselves in my position do not have any frame of reference for what they are up against, so its a natural step for her to seek counsel from her Church Leaders, which is what I did. I was encouraged over and over to reconcile. It was even suggested that I needed to be forgiving and understanding of him and his feelings. He did a good job of convincing Church Leaders that I wasn’t supportive of him in his recovery eventhough he had done nothing to prove he was even doing recovery work. Therapists and experts call this secondary abuse. Victim blaming and shaming is a real problem. Too many Church Leaders, in their efforts to help the addict, blame and shame the real victim, the wife. To make this more complicated, addicts are very good at blameshifting back to the wife. Church Leaders often fall for their mixed up narrative. You will hear things like, “if she had been more supportive, I wouldn’t have needed to seek someone else.” Or worse, “if she took care of my needs in bed, I wouldn’t have to go to other women.” For a betrayed spouse, these accusations are nearly unbearable. Because the Church Leader does not have a basic understand of the denial tactics of an addicted brain, they will often believe him over her, effectively cutting her off from much needed support and help.

Reconciliation nearly cost me my life! Church Leaders want the eternal family to stay intact. I wanted my eternal family to stay intact! We all wanted to save the family, everyone but my Cheater! We all had the same goal and we thought we were all on the same page, reconciliation. But the Cheater continued to cheat without regard for anyone or anything. I would find out about 6 more affairs during the period of time that we were supposed to be reconciling. Even the professionals were tricked into believing his sincerity. So how do Church Leaders and Mental Health Professionals deal with the lies and treachery of the addict brain?

If I were ever to find myself facing this again I would want the following to happen;

  • Those in positions of authority would encourage me to separate from the addicted adulterer until he puts together a plan to provide safety and how he is going to regain trust. Then they need to work with him to put together that plan and monitor his progress. Its not the wife’s job to check up on him.
  • During this time of separation I would have been encourage to protect myself financially. Addicts who have no intention of stopping will hide and lie about the couple’s finances, he might even be anticipating an inevitable end and start liquidating or hiding assests. I would suggest a legal separation. When you discover cheating of any kind there are two people to call – a therapist and a lawyer. Protect your finances now. If you reconcile, great! If you do not reconcile, the separation agreement will become a template for a divorce agreement. A separation agreement does not mean you intend to file for a divorce. The addict will accuse you of that, but if he does that is a red flag. If he loves you then he will gladly support and protect you.
  • Give him a time limit to coming up with an addiction recovery plan. I gave my Cheater one year, it ended up being 18 months. If they are not willing to do it in the time frame that works for you then they are just not willing. Period. Recovery is all about putting promises into solid, measurable actions. If you need him to see a counselor, attend 12-steps, visit with the Bishop weekly, and attend church, to feel safe with him again then when he does those things he will be building trust. Trust is earned in this case. At any rate, you will not be strung along for infinity with no end in sight.
  • I would not move back in until he does the plan for a minimum of 3 months.
  • If you are experiencing multiple D-days, he is not coming clean with his behaviors, and he is continuling to lie to you then you will know he is not serious about reconciliation. Its time to come up with an exit plan. Those supporting you should be encouraging of that.
  • Have a legal mid-nuptial agreement drawn up. Should he do everything that you ask and you move back in with him and reconcile, you want to protect yourself from further cheating and abuse. YOU need to come up with a plan of what you will do if he should cheat again. HE needs to agree to it. Be sure and tie this to some consequences that will sting enough to be a deterrent to any relapses or slips. Again, see a lawyer for this. (He will also be willing to pay your legal fees.)
  • I would have my Church Leaders, his Church Leaders, my professionals, and his professionals back me up on the above actions. The addict needs to know that he is in serious peril and he needs to make good on his promises, or cut you loose.

Too much is at stake for the Addict to minimize the situation and convince others that this “is no big deal!” It is a big deal! It is a divorcable offense and a sin next to murder in seriousness. The reason this is called a sin next to murder is because he murders the souls of his wife and children! His very soul and salvation is at stake, not to mention his marriage and family. It would be great if everyone concerned treated it with the correct level of seriousness.

The Cupcake Warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong

betrayal, healing, My Story

Family-versary

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Yesterday would have been our 40th Wedding Anniversary if my Ex had not cheated on me.  It is hard for me to realize now that I spent so much time on a man who really did not deserve that kind of loyalty. There are a lot of triggers associated with this day anyway, but I am tired of crying over a man who hardly cared about me at all.  In piecing back together the events of our lives with my therapist, our best guess is that he was cheating on me for at least half of our marriage. That is a long time to believe you were so happy, only to find out you were completely clueless.  It makes me feel dumb, and vulnerable…and used.

It’s also a lot of time that was misused.  I have a hard time feeling or saying it was completely wasted because I got 3 amazing and beautiful children out of the deal, and 5 grandchildren, so far.  For that reason alone, it wasn’t a waste. Our family was never a waste of time,  but he was,  my relationship with him was a waste of time.  I put in a lot of time and effort that, simply put, did not pay off in the long run.  I was in the relationship for forever, he wasn’t.

So how do you go through, what would have been, these BIG anniversaries without feeling completely devastated by a failure that was not yours? How do you deal with the heavy losses of all the “what could have beens?” How do you try to forget this big event without making your children feel like they don’t matter to you? The answer was simple:

Familyversary!

My daughter sent me this message yesterday morning:

Happy Familyversary, Magah! I know today is a tough day but it was the beginning of all of us and at least 4/5 of us are still in tact….or 10/11 if you want to look at it that way ❤️

That was my answer:  To celebrate the creation of our family!  And she is right, most of us ARE still intact.  The one who is missing, is missing by his own choice. That doesn’t diminish the rest of us in the least.  He made that choice.  The rest of us chose to go on with our family the best we can. We are STILL a family.  He could STILL chose to come back if that is what he wanted.

We STILL have a family to celebrate, even if it is without him.

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Later that day I got a knock at my door.  It was flowers from my kids!  I felt truly loved! I do know this much: Next year we will put together a proper celebration of OUR Family on OUR Family-versary. But, for now, I am happy to know that next year January 23rd won’t be something to be dreaded or feared, it will be something to really celebrate!

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, betrayal, Choices, My Story

My Dad Can Stop Watching Porn Anytime He Wants…Right?

This article was first published on Fight the New Drug Webstie in 2016 and republished in 2018.  It was sent to them annonymously by my oldest daughter.  Back then she was interested in protecting the guilty, and the innocent in the hope that he father would get his act together and come back to us.  Since that time life has change for all of us, drastically, as this blog has thoroughly discussed. Being annoymous isn’t as important anymore.  Most of our friends and family know what happened to us.

What the article doesn’t say is there was more too this than was written.  Not only did my Ex come into town to celebrate our youngest’s birthday, he came into town to “celebrate” our anniversary only 2 months after d-day. Understandably, I wasn’t ready to spend time with him whispering sweet nothings in his ear.  So this is what he chose to do instead…

Today, January 23rd, would have been our 40th Wedding Anniversay. And these events were really the beginning of the end.  This is the point when he showed us all that he had no intention of fixing his problem, repairing our family, or making everything up to us. How sad that he allowed his addiction to destroy a long term marriage and family!

Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

We recently received a story that shows that the harmful effects of porn don’t always revolve around romantic partners like boyfriends/girlfriends or husbands/wives. Some stories, like this one, show how porn can isolate, consume, and eventually even destroy families.

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True Story

My dad doesn’t have a porn addiction. He can stop any time he wants.

At least that’s what he likes to tell my mom. Frequently.

Almost eight years ago, my dad was compelled to look at a website when someone confessed to him that a particular website was a problem for them. He didn’t tell any of us because the confession been shared with him in confidence. But it was only a matter of months until my brother caught my dad in a compromising situation, video chatting with a woman that was not our mother.

Related: Is Porn Addiction Even A Real Thing?

Soon it came out that he had created a profile on that website and was befriending other regular porn consumers. He had also started up an inappropriate texting and video chatting relationship with that other woman. My mom moved out for a few weeks because of this but eventually they worked things out and seemed to grow closer than before. Until about a year ago.

My mom received a text from a random woman claiming to have been in a texting relationship with my dad for over a year. She had the texts and pictures to prove it. She had been blackmailing my dad for a while, threatening to tell my mom unless he sent her money every month.

He can stop any time he wants.

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The Secret Relationship

Eventually he got tired of paying her off, and even gave her my mom’s phone number, daring her to go through with it. That’s when she first texted my mom. Even after she had blown his cover she still thought she could get money out of him. When he refused to pay her any more money, she started a blog devoted to his infidelities. She posted screen shots of their texts. She posted details about my brother, sister, and myself. She knew things she should not have known about all of us. And then she emailed the link of this blog to my brother, my uncles, and my grandpa.

Mom decided to separate, still wanting to give him a chance to get help and get better. My siblings and I supported her in that decision. She got her own apartment, which she shares with my sister. Dad got a new job in a different state with the plans of visiting to work on his relationship with us.

Related: Why Isn’t Pornography Addiction An Official Diagnosis?

The first time he came back to visit was to celebrate my sister’s birthday. But my sister wasn’t sure she was ready to see him. So I offered to spend time with him instead. He came over in the morning to drop off a birthday card for my sister, but as soon as he walked in the door he was making excuses for why he needed to leave. He said he needed to pick up a prescription he hadn’t yet transferred to his local pharmacy, he was planning to take an old friend to lunch, and he wanted to stop at the outlet mall to look for some new pants. We were surprised that he didn’t want to spend time with us but we weren’t going to force him to hang out. We didn’t hear from him for the rest of the day, despite reaching out to him. Later that evening I asked my mom if she had heard from him at all, and she hadn’t.

Something Was Up

I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going on. So I got in my car to just drop in on him at his hotel. My mom was worried that maybe he’d had a heart attack and didn’t want me to go alone. I told her I was fairly certain he hadn’t had a heart attack but that I had other suspicions. But she met me there anyway.

I didn’t know what room he was in and since hotels don’t give out that information for security reasons, they called his room for me. No answer. Mom called his cell phone. Twice. No answer.  The hotel staff called his room again and he finally answered. They told him we were there. It took him a really long time to come down to the hotel lobby and when he did he acted very strange.

Related: How Porn Can Become Addictive

After talking to him for a while I suspected he had someone in his hotel room. He swore that he didn’t. I told him to prove it. He jumped up out of his chair and said that he would do just that.

Halfway down the hall he turned and said he wasn’t going to take us up to his room, that he did have someone up there, that nothing was going on, and that she didn’t deserve to be confronted like that.

He can stop any time he wants.

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His Secrets Revealed

He pleaded with us to leave and promised he would drive her home. I wasn’t about to let that happen. I suggested he call her a cab. He wouldn’t. I begged him to let me call one, I’d even pay for it. He didn’t. I insisted he take me to his room. He refused. He protected this woman at every turn.

Eventually I convinced him to take me up to the room. I’m not exactly sure what I was trying to accomplish. Maybe I thought she’d be reasonable and let me call her a cab. Instead, I was forced to stand in the hall while she and my dad whispered to corroborate their story. Once I was finally allowed in the the room I knew that there was definitely something going on there. The woman hid in the bathroom the entire time, but the bed wasn’t made and her clothes were folded on the couch. I picked up her phone and my dad lost it. He begged me to put it down. When I wouldn’t, he tried to physically pry it from fingers, blocking my every move. I was scared by that behavior, my dad had never before been physically confrontational with me in my life.

He can stop any time he wants.

Losing Control

I thought that I could wait there in that room until one of them came to their senses and let me call a cab. But she told me, through the door, that my dad is a grown man and I should let him make his own decisions. And he threatened to call the cops on me if I didn’t leave.

Related: When Porn Wasn’t Enough For My Partner, He Turned To Prostitutes

I left that hotel that night with a broken heart. My dad should have been protecting my mom and myself in such a crazy situation. Really he never should have put himself, let alone us, in a situation like that in the first place. But the love he has felt for his family has been replaced by something else. Something cheap and fleeting.

Can he really stop any time he wants?

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If he really could stop…

I refuse to believe that this is not an addiction and that he can stop whenever he wants. I refuse to believe that this shell of a man is the father I have known and loved my entire life. I refuse to believe that the dad I know and love is a figment of my imagination and that this is the real him. I refuse to believe that instead of choosing to stop, he would consciously choose to continue this behavior that is only hurting him and those that he supposedly loves most.

If he could really stop any time he wants, I wish he would have stopped a long time ago.

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What YOU Can Do

Awareness on the harms of pornography has to start somewhere. SHARE this article and help to spread the word on the very real harms of pornography. Together we can inspire change by helping society understand the harmful effects of porn.

Spark Conversations

This movement is all about changing the conversation about pornography and stopping the demand for sexual exploitation. When you rep a tee, you can spark meaningful conversation on porn’s harms and inspire lasting change in individuals’ lives, and our world. Are you in? Check out all our styles in our online store, or click below to shop:

 Stay Sweet, Be Strong
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The Cupcake Warrior
addiction, addiction recovery, betrayal, divorce, Trauma Recovery

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

 

Can we talk frankly?  Just us girls?  I am going to tell you what to expect from your husband after you discovery your husband’s addiction or affair, otherwise known as D-day. Why? Because I didn’t get the straight scoop when I was going through this, not from anyone.  Not from my Bishop, not from my therapists, not from my family, or my friends.  Not from anybody! Nobody wants to sit you down and tell you that your husband is acting like a douche and you should seriously consider leaving.

I get it, this is one of the most gut wrenching, hard, mind bending decisions that you will EVER make in your life! This is the mother of all difficult decisions – to leave a cheating, porn addicted, sex addicted spouse – or stay.  The Church is not helpful either, it teaches you from infancy that your family is everything and you should sacrifice everything for your marriage, and rightly so.  All true, and I still believe that with all of my heart. But your Bishop is NOT ALLOWED to tell you to leave your husband! It’s something about being held responsible legally.

Heck, if my ex-husband would show up tomorrow with his hat in hand and showed me he was truly sorry and repenting with an “Alma the Younger” kind of attitude, and I could see he was in some hardcore, serious recovery, I would consider taking him back to save our family.  I would.  I know I would.  I think about it everyday.  But he is not going to do that, and I know he is not going to do that. He is so happy with his wifestress! So I don’t think dream about it much anymore. He ran off and cheated got married without a backwards glance towards me, so I got my answer, I meant nothing to him in the end. That is the ultimate example of helplessness, the choice to save my family is completely out of my hands. My family is toast because of my Ex’s choices. But what about yours?  How do you know if you should trust your addict? How do you know if you should give him, yet another, chance? How do you know that he will be serious about recovery?

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This question has plagued me like no other question in this hailstorm known as porn and sex addiction. I nearly took my own life over this question. I wanted to save my family so badly that I nearly lost my own soul in the attempt to save his, subjecting myself to two whole years of  pure torture. So how do you keep from experiencing the same devastatingly shattering heartbreak and not making the same mistakes that I did? Where is the balance between saving yourself from drowning in the depths of despair and saving your marriage and family?

Addicts are just that, addicts, and they cannot be trusted. Not even a little bit, and not for a long, long, long time.  And by the time you figure out you should not trust them anymore, you are already behind the eight ball.  Your looks are gone, you are older, chances are he has depleted your finances, mortgaged your house, he doesn’t have a job, or he is hiding what little money the two of you had left, and you are stuck with no way out and no way to support yourself and your children.  Trust me, I see this play out over and over everyday with every new post on my support group pages.  I took me a long time to figure out that my addict was just the same guy as all the other addicts, and the wonderful man I married was long gone, leaving a sad, sorry, shell of a man I never knew behind. The stories are all the same.  I want to throw up every time I hear another woman say she stayed and believed him, and he left her with nothing.  I seriously read another 10 stories just like this every.single.day. It is nauseating how trusting all these women are, and that includes me too!  I get it!  I fell for it, the same as you! If I had a dollar for everytime he said he would “do anything to get my family back,” I’d be a wealthy woman.  So that is why I want to give you some heart-to-heart advice I wish I had gotten, but never did.  You may or may not believe me, but you cannot say I didn’t tell you. What you do after this is totally up to you.

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When you discover your husband has a porn/sex addiction or he is cheating on you, now is the time for some serious tough love!  Someone told me recently that if your addict still likes you, that you are probably  doing something wrong and enabling him. Now is NOT the time to be all understanding and kind, even though every single person in your life will tell you that it is!  NO!  Do not fall for it!  You, YOU… have just been cheated on.  What you need are some serious assurances.  Do not let him turn himself into the victim by giving you the ‘you need to support me’ routine.  Ummm…no! Just no!  That is not how this scenario should go.  And if you let it go that way, you are just setting yourself (and him) up for more heartbreak. And heartbreak doesn’t even begin to describe how it feels.  Imagine your heart being ripped out of your chest and shredded in a meat grinder and then eaten, by your addict.  Yeah, it’s gruesome.  It’s still doesn’t come close to describing how awful it feels.

So here is the thing.  If all of these recovery and addiction clinics work so well, then they are keeping their success records a closely guarded secret.  I have yet to find any definitive stats on how well they work, and I have looked.  I know they are successful, I have seen some of the success in person and in stories, but to what extent?  What is the success rates, in percentages, of people who come into their programs and stay sober, long-term?  I would really like to know!  So if you know, please tell me, because I am starting to think it’s not that good, given how closely guarded a secret it is. Just guessing here.

Another thing that is worrisome to me is the number of my Sisters in my various support groups who are going on 10, 15, and 20 years with a husband who is still relapsing.  I give these wonderful, saintly, longsuffering women all my love and support, but I couldn’t do it! I refuse!!! I gave my addict 9 years and that is 4 years too many. So with hindsight being 20/20 here is what I would do, if I had to go back and do it all over again:

I would give him 1 year to get into solid recovery.  That means;

  • He is seeing his Bishop weekly
  • Going to 12 steps and has a sponsor that he is checking in with daily
  • Reading books, articles, and anything he can get his hands on, about addiction,  recovery, and betrayal trauma
  • Is in an addiction recovery program
  • And he is seeing a therapist who is trained in sex addiction
  • Lastly, his relapses are getting less, by a lot!

This list is the bare minimum.  What is as important as the list, is his attitude. His attitude should be stellar!  He should be falling all over himself to make all of it up to you, not the other way around.  And if he completes the first year successfully then, you give him another year.  If at anytime he flips back into full addiction mode (full relapse), then you need to get the hell out! Run as fast as you can, while you still can. How do you know he has flipped back into full addiction mode?  That is simple – lying.  If he is lying to you then he is not committed! Period.  Transparency is paramount.  If he is hiding…anything, he is not serious!

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And here is why I think this way:

It takes 5 years to successfully beat a porn sex addiction. Minimum. That is the one statistic that I could find!  Yes, you read that right!  5 years! That is a lot of years! Here is how my therapist broke it down for me;

In the first year they are not even sure they have an addiction, but they will go through the motions because you want and need them to.  This is where my red flag came up.  Mind would not even do this for me!  He refused.  Said he didn’t have an addiction.  If yours says this, it’s game over. You cannot fix a problem that they think does not exist.

The second year is the year they start to see some benefits to living a life of an addict in recovery.  They see their life is better, but the “buy in” still isn’t 100% there. The reason for this is because it take 2 years of sobriety for the brain to heal enough to start thinking clearly again!  The addiction kills their prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is where reason, logic, empathy, connection are housed All of these traits, and others most be present for addiction recovery.  With a brain that looks like swiss cheese, it is impossible for them to recover.  And sadly, they won’t get this part of their brain back for at least two years of solid sobrity,  and that is if there are no slips…no relapses.  This is why they need to get into recovery and stay there, because you will not see any results for at least two-three years! Every slip and relapse, sets the 2-year clock back to zero.

The third year is when their brain finally heals enough to KNOW they were an addict all along.  This is the year they finally wake up to their awful situation.  If you can survive it until year three, then you have a fighting chance! Keep going, as long as he continues to do his part. This is the year that you can finally start to have hope that your marriage and family can be saved.  Most therapist will not tell you this up front, not unless you press them, like I did.

Years 4-5 is when he finally gets it!  Whew!  He is sold on recovery and he is committed, and you will see it, loud and clear!  There is a saying that you can tell when a man is in recovery because he won’t shut up about how great his life is in recovery.  Conversely, if a man is not in recovery then you can’t get him to tell you anything about it.

Are you starting to get an idea about what you are in for?  5 years. 5 long, hard, hard,  years of crying your eyes out, and that is IF he is committed from the very beginning.  If he isn’t committed then you will suffer an additional year, for every year that he continues to slip up and relapse.  And in the meantime, your life is also slipping away from you, with no guarantees that it will get any better.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but nobody in your inner circle is going to tell you any of this.  They can’t, because they probably don’t know enough about addiction or how your husband will respond.  But you know.  Deep down inside you know. You know your husband, you know what his committment level is, you also know how determined he is, you will know all of this by how fast he gets into recovery and how hard he works at it to stay there! I can tell you all of this because I lived it, and so has every other addict’s wife.  I cannot tell you definitively when to leave him, but I can tell you how you will know when it’s time to leave.  Don’t give him decades of your life to fix this problem.  He hasn’t earned that right if he isn’t invested in fighting for you. I knew.  Deep down inside, I knew from the beginning, he wasn’t going to fight for me.  My gut was screaming at me to kick him to the curb.  He was never going to fight for me, no matter how much he said he would. In the end, nothing he said matched up to what he did.

What does “fighting for you” look like?  Well, two words…SAFETY and TRUST.  Safety means that he will make it safe for you to be in his life.  He will go out of his way to show you that you can count on his to be where he says he will be, doing what he says he is doing.  He will show you his phone when you ask, give you his passwords, delete all of his cheater accounts, he will work his recovery program and make sure you know he is doing what he promised you will do.  Over time, as he is providing you safety, it will build up trust again.  You will start to feel like you can count on him again, what he does and says will match, this is what it means to have integrity. And, if he is really good at it, he will tell you what you need to know before you ask him. This is what it means when he says he will do ANYTHING to get you back! He literally, will do ANYTHING to provide you with safety and to re-build trust.

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On the other hand, if your addict is doing any number of these things, then it is time to seriously make the hard choice to go:

  • He won’t stop cheating.  After d-day I had at least 6 more d-days as women he was cheating with came forward to tell me he was cheating on them! If you are “finding out” more cheating then he isn’t serious about recovery.
  • He won’t stop lying.  Even when I would ask him about things he knew I knew, seeing, he would lie.  He would even lie about things he didn’t need to lie about like if he was going to church or not. Addiction = lying.  Recovery =transparency.
  • He has secret phone numbers, apps, or accounts that you did not know about and you discover them much later after d-day. If he hides anything from you that is a huge red flag.
  • He won’t give you the money you need to live on.  Hiding money  or not taking care of you is a red flag that he is planning to exit.
  • He won’t take responsibility for his actions.  Being in denial about his addiction shows up in a number of manipulation techniques like, blame shifting, lying, crazymaking, gaslighting, turning the tables, or playing the victim.  You will know if this is happening because any conversation about him and his addiction will be suddenly shifted to be about you. Active addicts are experts at placing the blame on you.
  • He refuses to admit he is an addict.  If this is the case – game over.  Nobody can fix a problem if they will not even admit there is a problem.  If this happens, get an attorney and walk away.
  • He won’t take recovery seriously.  If he is only half-hearted about recovery then the likelihood that he is still cheating is very high.  he should be doing the minimum as outlined above.  If he is really serious then he will go above and beyond the minimum.
  • He will not provide safety and trust.  My Ex wouldn’t even try to do this for me.  He did everything BUT…in fact, he took it to the next level by ignoring me, he wouldn’t answer my texts to phone calls for days at a time.  Ignoring is a huge red flag, it’s just another form of hiding.
  • He refuses to do a full disclosure.  An addict should be willing to fully disclose everything he has done to you in the spirit of starting fresh with nothing to hide and no more secrets. If he won’t disclose his actions to you then he isn’t ready to give up his addiction.

Lastly, I know how hard it is to hear these things, but it is harder in the long run not to hear them.  Nothing in your life experience up until now will have ever prepared you for going through being cheated on.  It just isn’t something people talk about, much less prepare you for.  Most of the people you know, your friends, your family, your church family, will not know how to advise you.  This will be something that will make you feel hopelessly and totally alone.  It will feel like nobody knows what you are going through.  For a while you will feel untethered from everything you thought was your life.  It will take you some time to get your bearings.  This is why it is so important that you start to build yourself a support system as soon as possible. You are going to need all the help you can get.  Here is where to get started on building your support system.

The biggest thing you should try to wrap your brain around is that there is nothing you can do about your husband and his addiction, he is going to have to choose to do his own recovery work.  All you can do is to take care of you.  Focus on taking care of yourself so you will be ready for what comes next in your life.  Know this, you are not alone.  There are many other women who know and understand what you are going through.  Nothing about this is fair. The only control you have now is how you choose to respond to one of the worst injustices that anyone can experience in life.  You will have a lot of big decisions to face in the coming months and years.  Taking care of you and learning all you can about addiction will be the best way to prepare for how you will respond to the question of to stay or leave.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

 

 

 

abuse, betrayal, gaslighting, Narcissist, Trauma Recovery

Let’s Talk About Gaslighting; Knowing the Signs, and How to Stop It

If you have been cheated on and haven’t heard the terms “gaslighting” or “crazy-making” you are probably still very confused about some of your addict’s behaviors.  In 1938 there was a stage play, and later, a movie called “Gaslight.  The premise of both was a husband who systematically convinced his wife that she was insane by destabilizing her by de-legitimizing her memories and beliefs.  He rearranged furniture, reinvented conversations, and turned down the gas lights. When she would question what was happening around her he would deny all of it in the attempt to make her believe she was losing her mind.  Addicts, narcissist, and sociopaths all behave in the same way.  This is why the term is now to describe the behavior of addicts, manipulation, and other psychotic disorders.  Gaslighting is a real thing and it maybe happening in your relationship, especially if your husband has been found cheating on you. Chances are that you already know it has happened to you or you wouldn’t be reading this blog post.

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What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a powerful manipulation tactic used by one person in a relationship to  control the other person by making them question their reality or truth.  You might say that you would never fall for anything so sinister, and that is easy to say, however, gaslighting happens so subtlely and slowly that the damage is often already complete long before you are ever aware that you have been manipulated.

Gaslighting is a common practice for politicians, religious and business leaders, bullies, and even the media.  We can almost tolerate it in these people, we can even roll our eyes at it, but when it comes from our significant other, that is a whole other story! Gaslighting is used by the powerful against the weak to lower their self-esteem and independence, to keep them in their place, and from fighting back.  If the gaslighter is successful, their victim will be left powerless, confused, and unable to defend herself. You will truly feel that you have lost your mind! The whole point of gaslighting is to keep you from learning the truth about your husbands addiction and betrayal.

In a relationship where one spouse is cheating on the other one, gaslighting is just one of many methods employed by the cheater to cover his tracks. Gaslighting can happen in the relationship for years without detection, before, during, and after the cheating has been discovered.

How Do You Know If You Have Been Gaslighted?

There are 10 manipulation techniques used in gaslighting to successfully make you think that you are the one who is crazy so that he can continue to cheat on you without your knowledge, keep you in the dark once the affair(s) has been discovered, and continue to abuse you going forward:

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The Lies That Come in Every Shape, Color, and Size

Everyone experiences little white lies.  You know, the kind where you tell someone they don’t look bad in a dress when they really do, just to spare their feelings. That is not what I am talking about here.  Gaslighters intentionally lie and they do it without guilt or remorse.  They are able to lie to you straight to your face when they KNOW what they are saying is a bold-faced lie and that you do not believe it. These lies are designed to set a precedent for future lying.  It reminded me a lot of how Satan lies, a little truth mixed with a lie, just enough to make it believable.  A gaslighter will throw in just enough truth to make it plausible, but everyone in the room knows it’s a lie; you know it, he knows it, and he knows you know it.  Once this happens its a game changer.  From this point on you are not sure if anything else he says to you is the truth.  The purpose of this lie is to keep you off-balance, from now on, you will question everything, wonder why it’s happening, and not trust yourself, or him. Its a terrible feeling to not trust the one person who you should trust the most!

My ex-husband diabolically told me he was cheating again, just days after I had realized that I had actually begun to trust him again after his “first” affair. It took me 5 years to trust him again, and then one day he says to me, out of the clear blue sky, “You think I am cheating on you again, don’t you? You will NEVER trust me again, ever! I am tired of having to live this way, always wondering if you will ever trust me again!” I had said nothing for him to bring this up! I was immediately put between a rock and a hard place.  On the one hand I was forced to defend my honor by telling him that I did truly trust him, on the other hand he was daring me to ask him if he was cheating again so he could berate me.  I didn’t know what to say. So I said nothing.  And from this point on I was put on edge.  Later, I was to find out that he was, in fact, having another affair, and he had been doing so for at least a year! The lie was that he was calling me out as the one who had trust issues and he was daring me to confront him. The truth was that he WAS cheating again! Rather than just being honest and confessing, he decided he would call my loyalty to him into question! This is so wrong on so many levels!

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Everyone Else is the Liar

Anyone who disagrees with the gaslighter is an automatic liar.  Nobody is telling the truth…ever. And once a person has been deemed a liar anything that comes out of their mouth from then on out is a lie. This tactic is employed to isolate you from knowing the truth.  If he can convince you that everyone else is lying then you will rely on him to be the sole source of all truth. This effectively works to keep you from seeking help from people who are in a position to really help you. All of a sudden your family is a lying to you, or out to get him, or manipulating you.  You can’t believe what your Bishop is telling you, how could you listen to your therapist, your best friend has always hated him, how can you possibly believe all these liars in your life? Over time, the victim with start to believe the lies and this is dangerous for everyone, especially to herself.  It’s best to get away while you still have your wits about you. More about that later.

Once he convinces you to dismiss all the liars in your life it leaves the gaslighter with complete control over you.  Don’t fall for it! I had this happen to me so often it is difficult to come up with just one example, but this one stand out:

I had made an appointment for us to go to LifeStar.  He had agreed to go with me to get help to save our marriage.  Once we were there, he said he never agreed to go and then he did everything to discredit everyone in the clinic.  The therapists where crazy, the program wasn’t good enough, no excuse was too far-fetched make them, or me, seem crazy for making him go there.  He even convinced the therapists and members of his group that he did not have an addiction, or so he thought. The bottom line was that we were all liars and we were all ganging up on him and accusing him of being an addict when he really wasn’t one.  We were all the evil meanies! He was innocent and nobody believed him.

The only way to protect yourself from the lying is to keep good records of everything.  Don’t keep records to prove to him that he is a liar, keep the records to prove to yourself that he is a liar. He won’t believe the proof anyway.

Denial is Not a River in Egypt!

You probably have noticed that addicts are equally adept at denial as they are at lying. They will say or do something, and then turn around and flat-out deny that they ever said or did something.  And you are not immune from this bait and switch contortion.  They will also deny that you ever said or did something that you darn well know you said or did! Even when faced with concrete evidence they will find one fault or chink in the armor to discredit the whole thing.

What was the most frustrating thing for me is the denial my ex-husband had for my own motives.  I told him at every step along the way of a painful, 4-year process, that if he would get himself into recovery, come up with a plan to provide me with safety so I could trust he would not cheat on me again, and if he would get into a 12-steps program with a sponsor, and meet with his Bishop every week, that I would move back in with him.  I also told him after I filed for a divorce that if he would do these things I would be willing to stop the divorce and work on putting our marriage back together.  The last time I told him this was the day before the divorce papers were sent to the judge. I even told him after the divorce was final that if he would get his act together and do these things I would re-marry him. But he denies ALL of it!  According to him, I NEVER said those things!  Even in the presence of emails and texts to the contrary, I never said any such thing, according to him. He even went so far as to tell me that if I had said that to him that he would have done what I asked.  (Projecting all the fault and blame for it back on to me.) I even spent 9 months of his first year of marriage to his wifestress trying to convince him that I did, in fact, tell him those things!  It was a humiliation that I will not forget anytime soon.  In the end, nothing will convince him, short of being struck down by God, that I ever said I wanted him to come back.

The problem with all the denial is that as it progresses your brain is already hardwired to recognize and record patterns of behavior.  Over time, you will start to question if you are the one at fault because it has now becoming a pattern.  You will start to tell yoursef that maybe you misunderstood, forgot, mis-heard, or are just losing it. The irony is that the lies that you knew were so wrong, begin replace your own reality through the persistent and relentless denial. Couple this with what happens in the brain when betrayal trauma is present and you have the perfect storm for being caught in this manipulation with NO WAY to escape on your own.  The more I read about the gaslighting and narcissistic abuse, present in porn and sex addiction, the more I am grateful that I had the wherewithal to come out of it alive. I was truly watched over and protected in spite of my own denial from believing he could be capable of doing this to me.

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Their Walk and Their Talk Don’t Match

When your partner is an addict their walk and talk will never match.  They will say one thing and do something completely different.  As a result you will always question their motives and behavior. It keeps you off-balance and wondering what is really true. Once you are in this maze of deceit there is no why out. The more you try to make sense of it, the harder you try, the deeper into the maze you go, and the more lost you become.  They will keep telling you they want you back, and they love you, or will do anything to put your family back together, but until those words are backed up with matching actions, it is always a deadend. Always!

My ex-husband professed undying love to me so many times I lost count.  And each time I would fall for the lies only to be broadsided by another affair partner telling me that my husband was cheating on me.  This happened to me 6 times until a therapist gave me a lifeline, that I will pass on to you:

“Men have two tongues, the one in their mouth and the one on their shoes.  Ignore the one in their mouth and just watch the one on their shoes.”

In other words, don’t listen to a thing he says, only watch what he actually does! If he is serious about recovery he will do the hard work of recovery.  If he loves you he will provide you with safety, if  he really loves you he will stop cheating on you, he will stop lying to you, and he will stop gaslighting you. It really is just that simple!  This simplicity is what finally led me to file for a divorce – his talk did not match his walk. The bottom line is this, I could not make him give me what I needed and I had a responsibility to stop betraying myself, even it he wouldn’t stop betraying me.

Protect yourself from the inconsistencies by having clear, concise, and immoveable boundaries. Figure out what you need from him to make this better and ask for it.  The scary thing about boundaries is that you have to be prepared to follow through with the consequences.  So be clear about what you want and how to ask for it.  You will find out really fast if he truly loves you enough to give you what you need or if he is just hoping you will fall for his lip service.

They Attack You Personally

When a gasligher doesn’t get what he wants, when he is losing his grip on you, he will attack anything and everything that makes you…well… you.  He will attack your very identity.  He makes fun of your family, your personality, your goals, your talents, your parenting style, or anything else that is at your core being, that gives your life meaning and purpose. Little by little he will break you down by discounting anything that gives you a sense of  belonging and worth.

This is to insure that you become more and more unsure of yourself as a human being and look only to him for your self-esteem.  You are left without dignity, confidence, or even self-preservation. My ex-husband was a master at this.  He talked down to me in the most condescending and sarcastic tones, and encouraged other family members to talk to me this way as well.  He made fun of my gifts and talents to my face, while praising them in public, which was even more confusing.  I was told I was too sensitive or too passionate.  He put me down for my accomplishments and was jealous of my successes. If I ever called him out on it, his response was to tell me he was just joking and he ridiculed me for not being able to take a joke.  It was insidious.  I lived with this one for most of my marriage and he had me convinced that everyone talked to their spouse like this.  No they don’t!  It was abusive, and I endured it far too long!

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They Are Energy Vampires

Gaslighters will suck the very energy right out of you, like dementors from Harry Potter. They suck your energy through their lies, denial, manipulations, and degrading remarks. Gaslighters give you a one way ticket on the drama train. You can never relax with them because you have to constantly be on your toes, for what will surely be, their next attack.  You may find yourself in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze. This consistent state of high alert is draining on your mind and body.  It causes you to have adrenaline and cortisol overload and will eventually deplete you of all of your energy resources.  This constant state of overload will eventually cause you to develop depression, anxiety,  panic attacks, or worse. I developed adrenal fatigue because I endured this treatment for nearly 4 years straight.  I am only beginning to recover from it now.  This state of high alert is also one cause of betrayal trauma and PTSD in victims of infidelity.  It is the biggest reason to seek professional help. And if what I have already told you is not enough reasons, this should convince you.

Once you are in this state of mind it is super easy to be brainwashed by your gaslighter. You are just too tired and too drained to fight it anymore. He now has the upper hand on you and the relationship. You are tired and drained to the point that anything he does or says will set you off.  You will lash out and he will use this against you as living proof for himself, and you, that you are the crazy one! After all you are the one who is exploding every time he talks to you! At this point you will have finally been broken and beat down to the degree that you question everything in your life. It is at this point that suicidal thoughts start making sense to you.

The only way to get yourself back is to seek professional help.  Do it now!  Don’t wait!  Trust me, you will not be able to navigate the riptide of addiction, narcissistic abuse, and gaslighting without professional help from someone who if familiar with these specific issues. Please take this seriously, it is a very serious matter.  It is the life and death kind of serious. Like a real riptide, it will pull you under and drown the life right out of you.

“I am Not the Villain”

One of the hallmarks for gaslighters is they are very skilled at convincing you that they are not the Villain. Everyone and everything else around them is to blame. Blame is just something they refuse to take – for any of it!  Their excuses are full of “ifs” and “maybes.” It was the bosses fault or their calling at church was too stressful. They are too overwhelmed with life. Something bad happened in their childhood that turned them into a cheater.  And while some of this maybe true, nobody held a gun to their head and forced them to cheat on you! If they had problems they could have talked it over with you, or gone to see a therapist, or talked to their Bishop, or a friend.  There are any number of possibilities that could have happened before they crossed the line into the arms of another woman. The bottom line is they CHOSE to cheat!  And in the case of my ex-husband, he made that choice dozens of times. Once can be counted as a mistake, anything after that is a choice.  Making the choice to cheat, makes him the villain, by anyone’s standards!

The best thing you can do when he plays the “I am not the Villain in this picture” card is to be clear about what is right, and what is wrong.  Have a few statements that you know are true and just repeat them, to yourself, and him, over and over.  Don’t argue with him, it is pointless.  But be clear in your own mind about the truth and the facts. Again, keep good records.  Keep a journal (It is admissible in court too).

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“You are the One Who is Confused, Not Me”

For gaslighters confusion is the magic bullet. By keeping you in a state of confusion they will leave your reality pelted full of holes. They are stunningly gifted at convincing you that the grass is blue and the sky is green.  Everything you say, do, or remember will be called into question as being false.  Their ability to rewrite history is quite remarkable.  You might be impressed if it didn’t call everything you know into question and make you feel insane!  You didn’t say it, he didn’t say it, it didn’t happen the way you remember it, or even happen at all.  You poor pitiful thing, you are just confused.  Again, this is a tactic to keep you off-balance so that you will question everything, including yourself.  After you endure this kind of treatment over weeks, months, or even years, you will start to doubt your own mind and will stop trusting your own intuition and instincts.  Your reality gets altered to the point that you honestly believe that you must be the one who is confused.

“This is Your Problem, Not Mine”

Ah, projecting. Projecting is something that gaslighters are experts on. It’s all your fault.  You are the one with the problem, not them.  Each time you need to discuss their cheating they quickly turn it around so that suddenly you are discussing your faults, shortcomings, and flaws, not his cheating. You will be so busy defending yourself that you will have forgotten what the original discussion was ever about. You will be caught up in so much drama that you will be too exhausted to investigate what he is really doing. You may even be accused of cheating yourself! Projection is easy to spot.  He will tell you something that is so absurd that you are appalled that he even said it.  This is your cue to look at all his ridiculousness for what it really is, a confession of his own misdeeds.

This happened to me shortly after I separated from my ex-husband.  He outlandishly accused me of cheating on him!  As if! I had so many things projected on to me that it would make your head spin, so I will spare you all the ways and means he projected onto me.  Let’s just say that my ex-husband will tell anyone and everyone who will listen to him that our being divorced was my doing.  He wanted our marriage to work, but our being divorced was my fault, I filed the papers so I must have wanted to divorce him all along.  He wanted our marriage to work!  It took me two years to untangle this one with my therapist.  To this day I still have doubts that filing for a divorce was my only choice!  I only filed after I attempted suicide from all antics mention above, and elsewhere in this blog.  But even saving my life wasn’t a good enough reason to file for a divorce in his mind. Nevermind that he had cheated on me with dozens of women! (31 to be exact, that I know of! That number is all in my head too, even though I have proof of every single one of them!) I am the one who gave up on our marriage and him…whatever helps him sleep at night.

Do you see why you need a therapist?  Some of this stuff is so mindnumbingly ridiculous that you will need an expert to sort it all out.  This is truly crazy-making at it’s finest! Trust me, it will cause you to feel every bit as crazy as it sounds!

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Trading Places; The Victim Becomes the Villain

The poor picked on little cheater! He is just a misunderstood addict that is being mistreated by his horrible shrew of a wife! This is a story, or some version of it, he will tell to anyone who will listen.  The stuff he told his whores about me would singe your eyebrows!  He was the one who was mistreated and victimized by a cruel and uncaring wife.  Bah! I don’t buy what he is selling for one second and neither do the people who know the truth. He had an ideal life and he threw it all away for a fantasy.

This was, and still is, a hard one for me to swallow.  I had been the one cheated on, but suddenly I am the perpetrator in this story he made up in his head, because his version certainly doesn’t exist in reality.  As crazy as it seems, you will learn that the addict is very capable of making themselves out to be the victim.  I saw it over and over in my own relationship with my ex-husband.  I see it play out in the lives of hundreds of other women who have also been cheated on. What is even harder to swallow is how easily he could convince others he was the one who had been wronged.  Most of his family and a far too large number of our friends, his whores, and current wifestress, believed, somehow, that this was all my fault.  It is galling! It is screwing with your mind at its finest! If you are in the middle of this, then you know exactly what I am talking about. It is horrifying in its own right to be cheated on, but then to have him turn around and blame it all on you is more than any wife should ever have to bear. What this boils down to is that the addict is not capable of taking any responsibility for their actions. So you are the bad guy in their eyes and have wrong them.  It’s the only thing they can tell themselves in order to live with what they have done to so many people they should have protected.

Unfortunently, there is nothing you can do about his making you look bad to his friends and family that won’t make you look as crazy as you feel.  All you can do is to live your life with dignity and integrity while you wait for the karma bus to broadside everyone he has bamboozled. My only solace is to know God knows everything that really happened.  Eventually, the truth will come out, it always does, even if it takes until judgment day.

What Do You Do About It?

So what is the point of gaslighting?  Why do men do such a mean and insidious thing to their wives that they supposedly love?  It is simple: to protect the lie of their betrayal.  An addict will go to great lengths to protect themselves from the truth – they are addicted to sex and porn.  This truth is so disturbing to them that they will even willingly destroy the one thing they loved the most, their wife, children, and family, to protect themselves from seeing what they have really become.  Given the choices, to gaslight or get help for their problem, gaslighting has somehow become the more preferrable option in their mind.  And this, ladies, is at the heart of the evil that is pornography and sex addiction.

If you are unable to get him to come clean with the truth, then it is time to consider some serious options.  Separation is a must!  If you are not safe, and you are NOT safe if you are being gaslighted, you need to separate yourself from this form of abuse until he is ready to face the truth. Your relationship is over at this point anyway if he cannot be truthful with you.  Period. Go to stay with a friend or family member for a while until you can sort out what is happening and get your head clear.

You should get yourself into therapy with someone who is acquainted with betrayal trauma.  You will need a therapist to help you navigate this intense form of manipulation and abuse. See a therapist at least a few months before having any contact with your spouse.  Go no contact during this time.  I did not do this and I was further damaged because of it.  I honestly thought I could talk some sense into him. You can’t.  All that will happen is that you will be further traumatized. Your number one priority at this point is you.  YOU are ALL you can change. YOU are ALL you can save.  He has to do his own saving.  So give up any ideas that you will be able to save him! You can’t! You need time and space to figure out what is happening and how you will respond to this crazy-making. You can’t do that with him around.

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You should also tell people you trust what is happening to you so that you will have support and someone who can give you reality checks.  You will need them.  One thing that was hardest for me then, and even now, was that I could not wrap my brain around the idea that this man I had loved for so many years could treat me like this.  He was in a position of trust and he abused it to the point of trying to drive me mad rather than tell me the truth. You need people around you to validate that it really is a bad as it seems and that this is really happening to you.  I just couldn’t believe this was happening until other people started telling me that it was as bad as I thought it was.

This issue of sex addiction is loaded with shame.  He has already done a great job of shaming you if you are being gaslighted.  But you need to get past the shame and tell your story to the people who have earned your trust.  The more you bring this into the light and out of the darkness the better off you will be. Addiction thrives in secrecy. Refuse to keep his secrets.  He lost the right to anonymity and your protection when he cheated on you.  Why would you continue to protect someone who is doing you so much harm? Tell you story as often as you can.  It will lose its power over you and give you some control back over your own life.  Plus one thing gaslighters like to do is to publicly humiliate you and discredit you.  They can’t do that if you get out in front of the narrative first.

Get educated.  Read up on pornography and sex addiction.  You need to know what you are dealing with, and chances are that you have no idea what has happened to him, or you.  Start reading everything you can get your hands on.  The resource on this blog are a great place to start! This issue is very complicated and there is so much that you will not know or understand.  You do not know what you do not know at this point. Knowledge is power so arm yourself with the truth so you are better equipped to deal with the crap storm you find yourself in.  Nothing in your life experiences will have prepared you for what is ahead and the learning curve will be steep, but the sooner you get started, the better off you will be.

Join a support group, in person or online.  You will be amazed at how much your story is just like everyone else’s story!  I was shocked that my ex-husband was not even original in his behaviors. Cheaters are NOT creative. It is like there is some sort of  Guide for Cheaters 101 that we don’t know about. They all do and say the same shitty crap to their wives that my ex-husband said and did to me.  That is how it is so easy to know he really hasn’t changed at all!  He is still doing the same dumb shit he did 4 years ago! It’s not hard to spot the lies, deceit, and denial when you know it’s what everyone who has ever cheated has done, and is doing, to their wives as well. I belong to 3 support groups on Facebook and one in person group.  Between them, I interact with literally thousands of women who are at some stage of going through this.  (If you want to know what groups they are send me an email and I will tell you which ones to join.  He reads my blog so I don’t want him to infiltrate my safe places.) All of the stories and experiences vary in specific details, but the resulting behaviors are all the same! It is amazing, and shocking at the same time. You need to know that you are not alone.  I wouldn’t wish this sisterhood on my worst enemy, but it is good to know you are not alone when going through something so horrific.  There are women out there who do understand, too many of them, in my opinion.

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My last word on this subject is, that if you are experiencing any of these things, you are in danger. I wish someone would have told me earlier about this, I could have saved myself a lot of damage, time, energy, heartache, and money.  But like I said, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Don’t discount what I am telling you either.  You may think that your husband is different, he would never do this to you.  Don’t believe it for one minute as long as you are experiencing any of the above.  Right now, he is not the man you married.  It’s time you stopped acting like he is, at least until the gaslighting stops.

If you are reading this then you are strong enough to protect yourself.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

addiction, betrayal, boundaries, Choices, forgiveness, healing, infidelity, My Story

You Have Always Had the Power to Come Home!

I haven’t written in a while.  It was for a good reason.

It seems that my Cheater did not understand that he could get his family back anytime he wanted.  All he had to do was to get himself into recovery and show us that he was changing and overcoming his addiction by providing safety and connection to me and his children.  He understands that now.  I am not sure it makes any difference.

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Through out the last 3 years I told him this over and over.  So did our grown children.  All he had to do was to show he was serious about overcoming his addiction.  We don’t think he is a monster.  We love him.  We want him in our family.  But his behaviors over the past several years have made it impossible to have him in our lives. He absolutely had to stop cheating on me, gain some sobriety, and show he was serious about recovering from his addiction.  These are all reasonable boundaries and expectations, but, for whatever reason, he refused to recognize the simplicity of them. Or he just didn’t understand.  Both are normal responses.  Addicts often cannot see what is plainly in front of their faces. The reasoning and logic space in their pre-frontal cortex is swiss cheese, full of holes, and disconnected from reality, which makes even the simplest cognition impossible to process.  The frustrating part for our family was that until he “wakes up to his awful situation” there was nothing we could do to make him understand. No matter how many times we said it to him – he would not believe it. He just cannot see what is plainly in front of him. He only saw whatever pieces supported the twisted narrative being carried out in his own mind.

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Like Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, he has always had the power to come home. He just had to see and use his power.  I told him before, during, and after I filed for a divorce, and even after the divorce was final, that I was willing to put our family back together as soon as his actions showed he was serious about recovery.  Actions, not words, was what we were all looking for.  But he just convinced himself that his family did not want him.  No amount of reasoning, begging, or cajoling would get through to him.  If you have ever had to  reason with an addict you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Recently, he has awakened just enough for us to show him what we have been saying all along – He could come home anytime he wants. With conditions. It’s puzzling to us that he seems to really not know that, given the countless emails and texts the children and I have sent to him telling him just that.  So I haven’t written for a few weeks because I was trying to give him the time, space, and privacy to figure out what he wants to do.  He says he wants his family back, but he doesn’t actually DO anything to back up his words.  He has had plenty of time to think it over, more than enough time. Almost 3 years.

I can’t really blame him.  His choices have put him between a rock and a hard place.  He is married for one thing. However, it’s debatable that he will stay that way.  Who knows? The question for me is if he cannot choose me and the kids and he keeps doing everything BUT choose his family, will we want him back when he finally decided that is what he really wants?

I don’t know for sure now. That mostly depends on him I suppose.

Two months ago I asked him to tell me that he loves his wife and his life the way it is now and to tell me that he thinks there is no chance he could come back so that I could put these thoughts to rest and just move on with my life.  To my surprise, he refused to say – one way or the other.  It’s enough to cause me wonder if he is having second thoughts. For two months I asked him nearly everyday.  He could not answer these questions in any difinative way.  The kids even reached out to tell him he could come home if he wanted.  He would not answer them or me. This much I know, he can’t or won’t let go of the possibility of recovering his family.  I can’t imagine that he would be able to let us go.  He had the best family that Heavenly Father could have ever given him, and he has given us and his birthright away for a mess of porridge.  That can’t be something he is willing to easily live with. It sucks to be an addict. Seriously sucks.

But…

This is what happens to addicts who give up their families!  I know of 4-5 other women, personally, in this exact situation!  I am not the only one!  I can imagine that this scenario plays out over and over again.  Addicts give up their families, regret it, have 2nd thoughts and want to come back, but they have tangled themselves up in another relationship.  I was shocked to learn from my therapist that it is more common than I could imagine. What is even more shocking is that most wives are like me, they would take their husband’s back if they would truly begin to make the changes to become whole again!  This speaks to the resiliency of women to forgive, nurture, and heal their marriages.  Men just have to accept that their wives really did marry them for better or for worse.  Addicts really do have the power to come home. They refuse to believe it. Their injured brains cannot believe it. They cannot even grasp that forgiveness can be offered to them.

So sad.

This is why I am talking about it now.  I am not the only one this happens to! Maybe if you hear it from me you will believe it.  Maybe I can help save just one other family.  Maybe. One family would be worth it to me.

Addicts make wrong choices over and over.  They complicate everything by not taking a time out to figure themselves out before they involve another innocent bystander.  They live with nothing but regret, regret, regret, and more regret.  So this really isn’t about my Cheater. It’s about all cheaters with an addiction.  Listen up guys! TAKE A BREAK! GET INTO RECOVERY! Figure out your crap BEFORE you dive into another relationship! Just KNOW your brain is messed up and give it a rest to recover!  You might be able to salvage your life if you are just smart enough to listen to the people around you and take a breather.  This should be a given for most people.  It just makes sense to not make rash or serious decisions after destroying a family.  What is it going to hurt you to take a year and figure yourself out? Time and space.  Give it time and space.

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Who knows, you might find out that have always had the power to go home…you just didn’t know it. Addicts should run home as soon as they can, before there is no home left. You just have to believe it’s possible.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

abuse, betrayal, Choices, divorce, My Story

Financial Speaking…

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

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Let me start at the beginning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Sweet, Stay Strong

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

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, betrayal, Choices, infidelity, Narcissist, The Other Woman

What is Cheating?

My Ex likes to quibble over little things that do not matter. He has done this throughout our marriage to deflect the conversation from any real understanding of feelings to arguing over semantics.  Think of Bill Clinton’s definition of what IS is and you will have an idea of what it is like to have a discussion with my Ex. Instead of tapping into what a person is feeling because of what they are saying, he argues over the words they use.  It’s very difficult to communicate on any meaningful level with this dynamic.  Connection is almost impossible.  So it is no surprise to me when we talked about his cheating, what that means for me, how it effected me in the past, and what it does to me now, that he just doesn’t get it. He is more interested in the definition of cheating than he is in what his cheating actually did to me.  It is as if he really believes that if cheating is defined a certain way then it really isn’t that bad.  But pretty much all addicts who are not in to recovery think in these black and white terms.  While the betrayed spouse is bewildered that this even needs to be discussed.  It shouldn’t be discussed.  Cheating is wrong on any and every level. Period.  Everything else is just semantics.  All the word twisting, mental gymnastics and fun house mirror contortions won’t change what it did to the heart of the betrayed.  Addicts would do well to understand this and just SHUT UP and LISTEN when their spouse tries to share how their actions made them feel! They shouldn’t try to defend themselves or try to wiggle out of their spouses pain.  They did it.  They should own it. This is what accountability is – owning your crap.  And that means owning what it actually DID to the other person, not what you think it did, or what the definition of what you did changes the impact somehow.  What you think about it doesn’t matter!!!

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My Cheater likes to discount all of my feeling with one single sentence, “I guess you and I have different definitions of what cheating is.” This shows the depth of the lack of understanding he has for his actions.  It isn’t about definitions.  It never was.  The reason he wants to define it so he can find a loophole to escape the responsiblity and accountability of his actions.  If he can tell himself “it’s not so bad.” Then he escapes the accountability and, thus, the consequences.  This is why he continues to think that he can just say he is sorry and call it good. (But this issue is for another post.)

Luckily for me, Heavenly Father has done a pretty good job of defining what cheating means.  And his prophets and apostles have taken over to provide clarity, just in  case there are any misunderstandings.  Cheating is far more than just sleeping with someone. Once you have gotten into bed with someone who isn’t your spouse, you crossed the cheating line a long time ago.  Sleeping with someone is the last thing you do on the cheating timeline.

“Heavenly Father’s teachings on the sanctity of marriage, however, remain clear. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” tells us that “children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.2

The scriptures declare, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; see also Mosiah 13:22; D&C 59:6), and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife [or husband]” (Exodus 20:17; see also Mosiah 13:24). Story after story—from David and Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11) to Akish and the daughter of Jared (see Ether 8:8–17)—warn us of the destructive results of lust and infidelity.”

When a man looks upon a woman he has already committed adultery in his heart.  That is why the Lord says to avoid the very appearance of evil.  With the advent of the internet it appears that my Ex isn’t the only one who tries to excuse his behaviors as “not really cheating”  so the church published an article in the Ensign to clarify it for these men who stray on the internet and in person and then try to rationalize it by saying they were not cheating. This article is so on point and so timely that it will save your marriage or convict you of your wrongs and get you back on track.  I highly recommend it! You cannot talk to members of the opposite sex behind your spouse’s back, try to hide it, and say you were not cheating.  You were. You absolutely were cheating.

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A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday and I think it gets to the heart of the matter:

“Just need to say my piece….. I am in no way perfect and in no way a saint…… But I have made many mistakes I had to learn from the hard way. I own every single one of my mistakes because I have nothing to hide ……. If you are in a relationship (committed), engaged or married…… STOP doing inappropriate things behind your partner’s back. STOP talking to members of the opposite sex in a manner you know you shouldn’t. STOP CHEATING on them. Have enough respect for the person who loves you too not be tied down by you. Give them the chance to truly be loved by someone who deserves their love. I am telling you the truth eventually comes out….. Always does. If you think this post is about you maybe you should ask yourself WHY you think that. If you have to hide your messages, delete them or sneak around…. You my friend need a wake up call. This is in no way directed at the people in open relationships or non-committal ones…… That is all.”   ~ Crystal Applegate

Speaking of looking.  My Cheater looked at other women…a lot.  Right in front of me.  When I would protest he would say, “What?  I just noticed. I didn’t linger.”  But he did linger.  He rationalize. And it hurt me.  Over and over and over.  He will never know the tears I shed over his “just looking.”  Hot tears raced to sting the back of my eyes every time I saw him do it. Tears he never saw me shed because he would ridicule me for them because he would say, “you have nothing to worry about.”  Turns out I had everything to worry about!

Had he really honored me or cared about my feelings he would have checked himself.  He would have said that if it bothered me he wouldn’t do it.  He would have said, “If you catch me looking at someone else and it makes you feel bad about yourself then tell me because I wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt you!”

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He flirted too.  Incessantly.  He flirted with women he worked with.  He flirted with friends.  He flirted with women at church.  When I would say something to him about it, he would blow it off as “I’m just being nice! What?  You don’t want me to be nice to people?  Ok, I won’t be nice to anyone.  I will just be all business.”  The problem with this is that he again discounted my feeling and refused to address the real issue. My issue was that he didn’t flirt with ME like that, so why wouldn’t I feel like I was being cheated out of something I saw him give to others?  So yes, sometimes cheating is just talking to other women!  Especially if it isn’t at least as nice or flirty as you talk to your own wife.  When I asked him why he didn’t talk to me like that, he would just say it’s not how he really is in private.  But he could do it for them, why not for me? Isn’t it cheating when you cannot make an effort for your wife that you make for other people?  Maybe it’s just me, but I feel when you give someone else something you are not willing to give your spouse, you are cheating them out of the very best part of yourself.  Discounting my feelings was cheating.  He was disloyal in front of me, so it made it very easy for him to be disloyal behind my back.  The article continues:

“President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) said, “One might expect that every marriage in the house of the Lord would carry with it a covenant of loyalty one to another.”5 Renowned marital researcher John Gottman pointed out that “a committed relationship is a contract of mutual trust, respect, nurturance, and protection. Anything that violates that contract can become traitorous.”

Cheating can be something as simple as a disregard for your spouse’s feelings.  When you do not take them seriously enough to listen to their concerns and work to correct your offending behaviors, that can also be cheating.  The point is that anything that leads you to disconnect from your spouse and to move out of the space where you have more concern for their safety, wellbeing, and comfort is the first step down the road to infidelity.  You cheat them out of your best self and you cheat yourself out of a healthy and faithful marriage.

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And this is how Satan binds us in flaxen cords and leads us carefully down to hell.  Here a little, there a little.  Step by step.  We don’t normally just jump into bed with someone else to begin with. My Ex’s ability to jump into bed with someone else started years ago when he thought it was ok to look and to flirt.  Sex addiction is usally a life long problem that started long before a marriage even happens. The way my Cheater treated me in our marriage is a tell that he had hidden unhealthy behaviors about how to treat a woman long before he met me.

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So yes, dear Cheater, you cheated on me for a long time before you got to the point that you were chatting with multiple women online behind my back.  I spent years and years crying tears over every slight given to me by your careless words and acts, which are all recorded in heaven.  One day you will account for every tear I shed. So yes, you did cheat on me more than you care to admit or own, but it wasn’t blindly.  I tried to tell you.  You were just too busy trying to define what IS is. You were not protective of me or our marriage…that is the definition of cheating.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

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