Becoming, My Story, Trauma Recovery

The Arrow and the Semicolon

My view on what it means to be a “good member of the Church” has drastically changed over the past 5 years. I used to be pretty uppity about the commandments and what is acceptable behavior as a follower of Christ, and what is not. It’s not that I judged others all that much. I kind of subscribed to the idea that what and how you believe is between you and God. I was, for sure, in competition with myself though. Occasionally, I would have something to think about how this person, or that one acted. I want to publicly apologize for that right now! To tell the truth, I thought my Cheater was one of the most devout people I knew. He was all about going to church every week, and making sure we all behaved a certain way, and did certain things. We said prayers as a family every night. We mostly didn’t go to the store on Sundays. We paid tithing. He frowned upon turning down callings. And swearing was off limits!

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Scripture study was hit and miss, but nobody is perfect right? Well, you can imagine my surprise when all his dirty little secrets emerged!

Up until this point, I took the counsel of David A. Bednar seriously; outward appearances are a sign of an inward commitment. I learned, the hard way, this is not always the case. The Mosaic Law was a law of outward performances, and we see how well it worked out for them. Nowadays, it’s harder to tell who is really committed to the gospel, and who isn’t. Nothing against Elder Bednar. I still believe his talk is true, but like many things in the gospel, it is nuanced. Before you get all your feathers ruffled, it’s still a favorite talk of mine! I’m just not all judgy about it anymore. I’m not going inactive so simmer down.

#thatshipsailedlongagoandIwasntonit

I’m just saying that I have mellowed a lot over the past few years. After what the Cheater did…well, I can’t top that, and I don’t want to! Murder anyone? No thanks, I’m good!

#amIright

It makes anything I do, or didn’t do, or want to do, pale by comparison. So I subscribe to the same philosophies as the Sistas in Zion. Nothing is so bad that it can be fixed, and I own my humanness.

#fixmejesus

You want to swear? Go right ahead! I might join you, if I’m in the mood. This is one reason I had purple hair for the last 5 years! It’s something the Cheater would have hated and scowled down on me with a look of contempt. I don’t care! I’ll take my purple hair and raise you your 31 affairs! Do you see why my perspective has changed? I just don’t have time or patience for the silliness of worrying about what everyone else is doing. I decided I’m going to live my life on my terms, being as real, and approachable, and transparent, and accountable as I can be. And I don’t give a flying flip which commandments you keep and which ones you don’t. I’m not keeping score! They way my life has gone, I pretty much have no opinion on your life!

Which brings me to the arrow and the semicolon…

I came across the semicolon movement not long after I attempted to take my own life and it made a profound impact on me. The idea behind it is that a semicolon is placed in a sentence at the end of a thought but the author also has another connected thought. In the semicolon movement it has come to represent a life tragedy that is devastating; but the person has the wherewithal to keep going. Their life suffered a big blow; but they were able to go on. (See what I did there?) Simply put, it means your story isn’t over yet! Beautiful!

The betrayal, and resulting trauma, was most definitely a semicolon moment on my life! My life nearly ended because of it. At the exact moment I learned about the semicolon I knew I needed to have one! The question was, how? I worried about jewelry getting lost or tarnished. I was baffled as to how to proceed. One day I was discussing it with the kids and someone mentioned a tattoo. That was it! This had to be a tattoo! But…but…but…I was overcome by all the years of teachings that my body is a temple and…and….and. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, even though I loved the idea of it! So I sat on it, and thought about it. For an entire year I rolled this idea around in my head.

Then the kids took matters into there own hands. They would gift me the tattoo for my birthday as a symbol of my new life and new beginnings. My mother’s heart was so joyful and proud of them! They encouraged me to do it, “You know you want to!”, they kidded. I really did want to!

Two days later, it was planned. We would just go ‘visit’ a tattoo parlor and see if the vibe was ok. If it felt sketchy at all, we would leave. To my surprise, and delight, the whole family came to watch! The kids and grandkids. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive. The place we went to was great and they had an appointment available right then.

It was meant to be!

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So now I have a tattoo!

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Never in my life would I have ever imagined it. The idea was preposterous in my old life. I’m pretty sure some people who know me have had minor heart failure over it. And no, hell hasn’t frozen over, and pigs still do NOT fly! But in my new life, it fits! I designed it myself. I had to have it mean something significantly profound.

There is the semicolon in the shape of a heart. This represents that my heart has survived this! There was a time I didn’t believe it would. People really do die of a broken heart, I thought I would be one of them. My heart didn’t shatter beyond repair either. It did bleed out a little bit though, represented by the flourishes.

Then there is the arrow. I have felt since the beginning of this journey that I was a warrior. First, I was fighting for my marriage, nearly to my death. Second, then fighting so hard to recover myself from this damnable PTSD. I still fight everyday to get out of bed and live my life. It’s a choice I consciously have to make each day. Still. So when an arrow is shot from a bow, it must be pulled back to have the momentum and energy to be propelled forward. I have had to be pulled back, almost to the point of breaking, to move forward. Together, these symbols have a profound effect on me. And the fact that my children wanted me to have this is all the more significant.

Everyday, I look down at my arm and I am reminded that I MUST get up and keep fighting because I owe it to me, and I owe it to them to be more than ok with my life. They need me to be there for them. It’s sort of a promise between us, made in blood, that I have a second part to my sentence. The profoundness of a tattoo is that it was the only way this has any significance. It’s a blood pact with my children, and all the people who love me, that I will never allow someone to abuse me to the point of death again. Not ever.

And do you know what? Somehow, I think Heavenly Father is ok with that!

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

Did you know that 60% of all women who are betrayed have suicidal thoughts?

Did you know that almost 90% of all people know someone who is close to them who has experienced betrayal?

Becoming, Coping, My Story, Trauma Recovery

Words that Kill the Soul

I saw this posted in one of my groups on Facebook. I didn’t write it. I don’t know who wrote it.  But I feel like it needed to be shared. I am looking for the author to give them credit.

Note:  The author is Tim Lawrence. He had a blog for the longest time called “The Adversity Within”.

This post is something I have felt for a long time, but I have been clumsy in knowing how to address these words that kill the soul:

Everything Happens for a Reason

I’ve heard religious leaders say it. I’ve had friends and family say it to me. I have even said it to others before.

Never again.

It’s not until you experience a life and soul shattering grief that you come to understand how painful and harmful these words are to hear.

I had many conversations with my therapist about this. She told me, “you didn’t need this to happen to you so that you could become a better person. You were already well on your way to doing that.” I agreed with her wholeheartedly! I was already into self improvement on my own. I made New Years resolutions, I set goals, and I worked to accomplish them. I worked on myself all the time. I still do.

What is hard for me to swallow is knowing that for everyone who does rise above tragedy, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, who are destroyed by it. How close I came to being utterly destroyed by this is truly frightening! I do suffer from survivors guilt. There is a very fine line where I could have fallen into the abyss of the destroyed at any point. I still could. There is nothing special about me that predisposes me for triumph over this evil that was thrust upon me. I still feel like I barely survive each day. I may always feel that way.

This post on Facebook resonated with me so much! Every word of it is true;

Saying ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’ Hurts Grieving People Instead of Helping

“I emerge from this conversation astonished. I’ve seen this a million times before, but it still gets me every time.

I’m listening to a man tell a story. A woman he knows was in a devastating car accident; her life shattered in an instant. She now lives in a state of near-permanent pain, a paraplegic, many of her hopes stolen.

He tells of how she had been a mess before the accident, but that the tragedy had engendered positive changes in her life. That she was, as a result of this devastation, living a wonderful life.

And then he utters the words. The words that are responsible for nothing less than emotional, spiritual and psychological violence:

“Everything happens for a reason”.

That this was something that had to happen in order for her to grow. That’s the kind of bullshit that destroys lives. And it is categorically untrue.

It is amazing to me that so many of these myths persist. These myths are nothing more than platitudes cloaked as sophistication, and they preclude us from doing the one and only thing we must do when our lives are turned upside down: grieve.

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You know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve heard these countless times. You’ve probably even uttered them a few times yourself. And every single one of them needs to be annihilated.

Let me be crystal clear: if you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

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So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:

“Some things in life cannot be fixed.

They can only be carried.”

These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on an increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante or a spouse cannot be fixed.

They can only be carried.

I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn’t. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we’ve replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.

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I now live an extraordinary life. I’ve been deeply blessed by the opportunities I’ve had and the radically unconventional life I’ve built for myself. Yet even with that said, I’m hardly being facetious when I say that loss has not in and of itself made me a better person. In fact, in some ways it’s hardened me.

While so much loss has made me acutely aware and empathetic of the pains of others, it has made me more insular and predisposed to hide. I have a more cynical view of human nature, and a greater impatience with those who are unfamiliar with what loss does to people.

Above all, I’ve been left with a pervasive survivor’s guilt that has haunted me all my life. This guilt is really the genesis of my hiding, self-sabotage and brokenness.

In short, my pain has never been eradicated, I’ve just learned to channel it into my work with others. I consider it a great privilege to work with others in pain, but to say that my losses somehow had to happen in order for my gifts to grow would be to trample on the memories of all those I lost too young; all those who suffered needlessly, and all those who faced the same trials I did early in life, but who did not make it.

I’m simply not going to do that. I’m not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive. I’m not going to assume that God ordained me for life instead of all the others so that I could do what I do now. And I’m certainly not going to pretend that I’ve made it through simply because I was strong enough; that I became “successful” because I “took responsibility.”

There’s a lot of “take responsibility” platitudes in the personal development space, and they are largely nonsense. People tell others to take responsibility when they don’t want to understand.

Because understanding is harder than posturing. Telling someone to “take responsibility” for their loss is a form of benevolent masturbation. It’s the inverse of inspirational porn: it’s sanctimonious porn.

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Personal responsibility implies that there’s something to take responsibility for. You don’t take responsibility for being raped or losing your child. You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don’t choose whether you grieve. We’re not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don’t get to escape grieving.

 

This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.

In so doing, we deny them the right to be human. We steal a bit of their freedom precisely when they’re standing at the intersection of their greatest fragility and despair.

No one—and I mean no one—has that authority. Though we claim it all the time.

The irony is that the only thing that even can be “responsible” amid loss is grieving.

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So if anyone tells you some form of get over it, move on, or rise above, you can let them go.

If anyone avoids you amidst loss, or pretends like it didn’t happen, or disappears from your life, you can let them go.

If anyone tells you that all is not lost, that it happened for a reason, that you’ll become better as a result of your grief, you can let them go.

Let me reiterate: all of those platitudes are bullshit.

You are not responsible to those who try to shove them down your throat. You can let them go.

I’m not saying you should. That is up to you, and only up to you. It isn’t an easy decision to make and should be made carefully. But I want you to understand that you can.

I’ve grieved many times in my life. I’ve been overwhelmed with shame and self-hatred so strong it’s nearly killed me.

The ones who helped—the only ones who helped—were those who were there. And said nothing.

In that nothingness, they did everything.

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I am here—I have lived—because they chose to love me. They loved me in their silence, in their willingness to suffer with me, alongside me, and through me. They loved me in their desire to be as uncomfortable, as destroyed, as I was, if only for a week, an hour, even just a few minutes.

Most people have no idea how utterly powerful this is.

Are there ways to find “healing” amid devastation? Yes. Can one be “transformed” by the hell life thrusts upon them? Absolutely. But it does not happen if one is not permitted to grieve. Because grief itself is not an obstacle.

The obstacles come later. The choices as to how to live; how to carry what we have lost; how to weave a new mosaic for ourselves? Those come in the wake of grief. It cannot be any other way.

Grief is woven into the fabric of the human experience. If it is not permitted to occur, its absence pillages everything that remains: the fragile, vulnerable shell you might become in the face of catastrophe.

Yet our culture has treated grief as a problem to be solved, an illness to be healed, or both. In the process, we’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. As a result, when you’re faced with tragedy you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people, you’re surrounded by platitudes.

What to Offer Instead

When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.

Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:

“I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.”

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Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you’re going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.

There is no greater act than acknowledgment. And acknowledgment requires no training, no special skills, no expertise. It only requires the willingness to be present with a wounded soul, and to stay present, as long as is necessary.

Be there. Only be there. Do not leave when you feel uncomfortable or when you feel like you’re not doing anything. In fact, it -is when you feel uncomfortable and like you’re not doing anything that you must stay.

Because it is in those places—in the shadows of horror we rarely allow ourselves to enter—where the beginnings of healing are found. This healing is found when we have others who are willing to enter that space alongside us. Every grieving person on earth needs these people.

Thus I beg you, I plead with you, to be one of these people.

You are more needed than you will ever know.

And when you find yourself in need of those people, find them. I guarantee they are there.

Everyone else can go.

 

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

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

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 Stay Sweet, Be Strong
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The Cupcake Warrior
Becoming, Coping, healing, My Story, Trauma Recovery

What I Have Learned…So Far

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Wow!  It has been 4 years in November since the second d-day of my, then, husband’s addictions.  Four long, horrible, awful, painful, nightmarish, years.  Had I known then what I know now I would have done a whole lot of things differently. Most of what I learned is bad news, but it might be of use to many of you.  Maybe this list ( in no particular order) will help you navigate the labyrinth of betrayal:

  • I learned addicts cannot tell the truth. EVER! NOT.TO.SAVE.THEIR.LIFE! They won’t. If their mouth is moving, they are lying.  It is ONLY in the DOING, not the SAYING that you will know if they are truthful or not. My Ex is STILL lying, hiding, covering things up.  That is how I know he is still mired in his addiction. Truth is the opposite of addiction.
  • I learned I could not, and should not have tried, to fix him.  He is the only one who can fix himself. So far, nothing has changed with him in four years.  And it won’t change, until he has hit bottom.
  • Betrayal is the WORST thing you could ever do to your wife and children!  It would be easier for the family if the cheater died.
  • After you discover your husband’s affair(s) you will probably not function for at least a year.
  • You will probably cry everyday for at least a year.
  • Your brain will be hyjacked into an endless loop of obessing over what happened, trying to make sense of somthing that makes no sense.
  • Your survival will be the only thing you can deal with for at least a year.
  • You will forget about all of the things you used to love, i.e., reading, crafts, hobbies, friends etc.
  • Your life will never be the same, but what comes up in its place will be good.
  • You WILL be happy again!
  • You will not begin to feel anything close to “normal” for 1-2 years.
  • You will have to work at your recovery from the trauma for, probably, the rest of your life.

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  • I still cry and get triggered even though it has been 4 years since the second d-day.
  • I will never be the same.  EVER.
  • I never knew I could withstand that depth of pain and anguish.
  • I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be.
  • I never knew I could feel that much hate for another human being.
  • I never thought I would be able to forgive any of it, but with a lot of work, I have.
  • I actually feel sorry for him for what he will face on judgment day.
  • I am only in charge of me. That is the only place I have/had any control.
  • I learned I should have left him sooner.  He had no intention of fixing himself or repairing his relationship with his family, probably from day one.  (He still doesn’t.) In the end he just walked away right into another relationship without so much as a backwards glance. We were all replace.  It was easier for him, I suppose, to get a whole new family than to fix himself, or his family.
  • Being discarded like garbage is the worst feeling I have ever experienced! Nothing comes close to ever being able to describe it.  I would have rather had cancer!
  • I have learned that porn and sex addiction is an epidemic and that I am not alone, far from it!  Thousands of women join the support groups I belong to every year.
  • Support groups are invaluable! (Send me a message and I will suggest some to you.)
  • This is NOT my fault.  This was never about me.  It had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with a character flaw in him.  Cheating on your wife is not normal behavior.  I did nothing to cause it. HE made the CHOICE to cheat and that is on him.

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  • There is NOT “two sides” to this problem.  The cheater is 100% responsible for cheating.
  • He is a coward.
  • He is selfish and self serving.
  • He can never be trusted by any woman.
  • He is not safe.
  • He is full of pride and self-importance.
  • He is fake.
  • His “repentance” is not real. Yet.
  • Friends and family do not have the bandwidth to understand you, or what you are going through.  I didn’t even have the bandwidth to understand what was happening to me.  Nothing in anyone’s life experiences prepares them for this.  This is why support groups and systems are so invaluable.
  • Most people blame the wife for being cheated on, even when the research says otherwise. “Oh she must have done _______ to deserve it.”  This is nonsense!  Cheating is a character flaw of the cheater!  Period!  If he is unhappy then he divorces his wife without all the drama of cheating.
  • Wives of narcissistic abusers, cheaters, and addicts are often shunned and not supported through their betrayal trauma by their community.
  • Wives and children of cheaters are expected to just “get over it,” even when there is zero research to support this belief.
  • The grief of betrayal is worse than the grief of death and lasts a lot longer.
  • Adult children feel betrayed too, more often than not, just as much as the wife.
  • Grandchildren also feel betrayed and do not have the maturity or understanding to be able to process it. At all.
  • The whole family is harmed and suffers for a really long time. Years, or even decades.
  • I wish I would have gone “no contact” sooner. Go “no contact” as soon as you can.
  • Going “no contact” will  probably cause him to turn his abuse on his children.
  • He cannot relate to anyone in his former family with anything that resembles kindness or compassion.
  • After his betrayal I was in serious mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual danger, and I did not know it!
  • Nobody will tell you the severity of danger you are in. Mostly because most people do not know.
  • The “reconciliation culture” will tell you it’s better to reconcile with your cheater.  There is no research to support this belief. You are welcome and encouraged to reconcile once.  After that, I would say its better to move on while you still have some self-esteem, and years, left.
  • I can’t find very many successful cases of a recovering sex/porn addicts that fixed the mess he made with his family. Not enough to warrant staying in an abusive marriage with an addict.
  • Divorce is not an easier solution, but it may be the only solution.
  • When an addict says, “I don’t have an addiction,” believe them, and walk away.  There is nothing you can do if they won’t even admit they have a problem.
  • Save yourself first. You can’t save someone from drowning if you are drowning too.
  • He is responsible for his own recovery.  You are not his support system!  Do not ever put yourself in this role.
  • If it comes between choosing your own life or your spouse, choose your own life!
  • Addicts are master manipulators, gaslighters, and destroyers of those they used to claim to love.
  • Manipulation tactics are many, and go by many names: gaslighting, turning the tables, crazy-making, projection, deflection, misdirection, shaming, lying, minimizing, personal attacks, blaming, just to name a few.
  • Addicts are abusers.
  • Cheaters are abusers.
  • Keep copies of ALL evidence of his cheating, addiction, and abuse.  This means to keep all phone records, emails, pictures, screenshots, texts, and, please, keep a journal.
  • Addicts are usually narcissists too. On the other hand, narcissist are not always addicts.
  • Addicts can also be a sociopath.
  • Study, study, study, everything you can about every topic in this list! (Topics are highlighted in blue.)
  • Narcissists do not seek treatment, it is their nature to believe they do not have a problem.
  • Addicts won’t change or seek treatment unless they really want to change, or hit bottom, or are forced to change through legal means.
  • The Addict’s number one goal is self-preservation. They will sacrifice everything to cover up their secret, that includes you, and the kids.
  • The learning curve of addiction is steep and nothing in your life will prepare you for it in advance. You will have to learn about it on your own, and usually the hard way. Seek help as soon as possible!
  • Nothing about betrayal is fair.
  • Cheaters/addicts have no empathy and cannot express empathy for what they have done to you or your children.
  • Cheaters expect that you just accept that they blew up your family without any serious consequences.
  • Cheaters often say they did this to you and your children because ” THEY deserve to be happy.”
  • Cheaters and addicts are inherently selfish. Addiction is selfish.
  • Addicts don’t know how to be sincerely sorry, and will refuse to make sufficient amends for the harm they caused you.
  • Addicts do not respect anyone, mostly, because they do not respect themselves.
  • Addicts feel entitled to expect their families to forgive, forget, and just move on as if nothing happened.
  • Addicts feel entitled to lots of things they have not earned, i.e, trust, forgiveness, support, kindness, etc.
  • Addicts do not take personal responsibility for the consequences of their own choices and actions.
  • Addicts will demand that you see they are repenting and you must forgive them with zero proof they are making any changes. You are expected to believe them solely on their word.
  • Addicts expect their children to accept their affair partner or othe other woman.
  • Lawyers and the laws do not do a good job of supporting or protecting the innocent victims of cheaters and addicts.  Even your own lawyer may not be protecting your best interests.
  • Courts don’t care if a spouse, or his affair partner, is mentally or emotionally dangerous for children.  Many children do not want to see the cheating parent, but are forced to comply by the courts.
  • Cheaters, amazingly, continue to abuse and torture their spouse and/or children long after the divorce is over, with no justification.  The only way to protect yourself from this is to go “no contact.”
  • Wives with children at home cannot go completely “no contact” and are subjected to continued abuse.
  • Women are often betrayed and abused over and over by their spouse, to the point that they end up with serious emotional disorders like PTSD, CPTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, and betrayal trauma.
  • Addicts will never give you closure. (See, they cannot tell the truth.) You will never know which parts of your life are true, and which ones were lies. They would rather you suffer than to admit to what you already suspect.
  • Most people do not understand the nature of sex or porn addiction even though porn addiction effects at least 1/2 of the population.
  • Porn and sex addictions are just as harmful and dangerous as drugs, alcohol, cocaine, or meth addictions. The difference is they carry these chemicals around with them inside their body to use “on demand” and without detection, for a long time before you are even aware of it.
  • It takes 5 years to fully recover from a sex/porn addiction.  And that is if the addict is fully onboard with recovery from the beginning and committed to stick with it for the rest of his life.  Every slip or relapses sets him back at least another year.
  • Less than 1% of marriages to a cheating partner have any chance of lasting.
  • 12-Step Programs are useless for victims of betrayal trauma!  You cannot be an enabler of something you never knew existed!
  • You need a therapist/group/support system that understands betrayal trauma.
  • The only people who will understand what you are going through are people who have been there.

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  • The “other woman” (OW) did not win a prize when she “won” your husband, she just inherited all of his problems and addictions.
  • The OW is more than likely clueless and stupid and has no idea what she got herself into since all she will know about him is what he told her, and he controls the narrative where she is concerned. She will wake up eventually.
  • The OW will rarely seek out the truth about why he left his family, that is, unless she was partly responsible, then she really doesn’t care.
  • Men who cheat do not change for the OW.  It’s only a matter of time before he cheats on her too.
  • The OW doesn’t have any special gifts or magic to change him, she is NOT better than you.  She isn’t kinder, more beautiful, or something more special than you are.  She is clueless.  That is her only superpower!
  • Men who cheat do not change.  Period.  They are not that self-aware or introspective. (Remember, real recovery takes 5 years!)
  • The OW is also a cheater, and in biblical terms, she is a whore.
  • A cheater picked the OW because he could no longer fool you about his addiction/cheating, but he knows he can fool her. That is why he is with her and not with you.
  • Cheaters will choose the OW over their own children. In this case, blood is NOT thicker than water when it comes to betrayal.
  • Cheaters will walk away from their family over the OW and never look back.  Many of them give up decades of life and history with their wives and children.
  • Addicts will try to engage you in something called “the pick me dance.” This is where they will expect you to bend over backwards trying to prove that you are better than the OW and that he should pick you over her.  They will try to get you to convince them that you really want them back, all the while coming up with stupid ass reasons why you don’t. This is ridiculous and should be avoided at all costs. It is designed to drive your crazy. He wants you to act crazy so he can justify cheating on you. ” My wife is crazy, she doesn’t love me or understand me like you do!”
  • Addicts and cheaters “want their cake and eat it too!” So they will lie and hide the OW so he can keep you both for as long as possible.
  • Trauma bonding, also known as the Stockholm Syndrome, is a real thing and will cause you to want your cheater back even though you know that would be harmful to you to take him back.
  • You will miss your old life and him horribly.  But you will also come to realize that the life you thought you had with him was a total lie, so you are missing something you never really had in the first place.
  • You will come to understand that your relationship with the addict was no real relationship at all, that you were the one who did all the work to keep the relationship going.  Everything you thought you had, was very one-sided.
  • You will spend YEARS recovering from the trauma of being betrayed.
  • Betrayal trauma recovery will demand that you make a lifestyle change.
  • The karma bus ALWAYS comes to visit the Cheater and the OW.  Always. Even if it looks like he got away with everything right now.  He didn’t.
  • Porn/Sex addictions are the plague of our time and is being called a public health crises.
  • Addicts and cheaters are not original in their behaviors.  They all pretty much do and say the same crazy sh*t, as if they were all given a “cheaters handbook.” When you learn this simple fact you are free to know, for a fact. when they are lying to you.  The lies are all the same! (see your therapist for a copy of the cheaters handbook.)
  • Likewise, men in recovery will also do and say the same things, but it is a much different list and comes from a place of godly sorrow, remorse, repentance, restitution and humility.
  • You won’t have to wonder if your husband is in recovery, you will know!  And if you don’t know, then the answer is that he is NOT in recovery.
  • There is a saying that goes, “you cannot get an addict to tell you anything about his recovery, but a man in real recovery will never stop talking about it.” That is how you know.
  • Addicts in recovery don’t hide anything!  They will tell you what you want to know before you can even ask!

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I am sure there are other things I have learned, but these stand out to me right now.  It has been a very difficult learning process, but I am grateful now that I know what I know. I never believed that this could have ever happened to me. Not in a billion years! I never believed that my ex-husband could be “this kind of man.” But I am grateful to all the people who have helped me through this so far!  My children have been a tremendous support!  I love them and I will always be grateful they were old enough to see what was happening for themselves.  I am grateful for my therapists and support groups!  I am grateful for the new skills I have learned because of this. I am always going to have a special place in my heart for a Bishop who “gets it!” And I couldn’t have made it this far without my Heavenly Father who helped me navigate this awful mess and brought people and  things into my life when I needed them the most. And lastly, I am grateful for this blog and the courage that it took for me to tell my story, it has helped me sort it out and make some sense of something that just doesn’t make any sense! This has been a huge piece of my recovery of me!

Someday… I will be grateful my ex did this to me….however, today is not that day.

What have you learned in your journey of recovery? Can you add anything to this list?

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

Becoming, Emotional, healing, My Story, Spiritual, Trauma Recovery

The Deborah Principle

I had a talk with my daughter the other day that profoundly affected me. She ended up telling me that “you are not broken, you are a bad A!” It sort of shocked me into a remembrance of my former self.  I was a bad A!  At least, I used to be. I knew I needed to get back there somehow, but how? I long to be me again.  I have been on the journey of recovering and rediscovering me for four years now. Its been a long time and I haven’t felt like I was making any real progress.  Until this week…
I signed up to take a class online. The class is called “Solar Plexus Initiation.” The premise of the class is igniting the personal power of the 3rd Chakra or Solar Plexus.  This is the power center of the body.  The idea was intriguing to me because I know I have lost my power.  Some of it was stolen from me, some of it, I just relinquished.  It was a surrender of sorts, me giving up. Giving up is not who I am though.  So I thought this class might give me some ideas of how I could reclaim my power. So I looked forward to watching the class videos for week one.
1eeb23b934b23c37064c103c6cb7fd2cWeek one.  I knew this sort of transformational work would be difficult. I had no idea how hard, but I was invested, so as long as I was doing this I was going to go ALL in. My first assignment was to create an alter ego.  Someone I really wanted to be, who would show up for me, when the broken me wouldn’t cut it. I like the idea of an alter ego.  The instructor said that all of us have fears and insecurities, even celebrities.  He said that most of them have an alter ego that they can access to power-up their energy to pull off a performance. The problem with this is that I had no idea what my alter ego, could or should be?  It turns out that I have been already laying the foundation for an alter ego all along this journey. It started with my name change.  Taking back my birth name was a huge step for me, along with the decision to go by Deborah in my professional life.  Another piece to my alter ego was to think of myself as a warrior.  A champion for all betrayed women, hence, the Cupcake Warrior.  Being strong without becoming bitter, staying sweet. I never wanted this process to allow a door of anger and bitterness to open that I would be willing to walk though and never come back from. That was never an option for me, so I opted for a warrior spirit, with a kind and gentle heart. So with those two things already established I would use them as the beginning of the search for my alter ego.  The Warrior Deborah. It turns out she was emerging all along…
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With that in mind, I turned to the great and powerful Google for ideas.  The search for my alter ego had commenced.  Who knew that I knew right where she was all along? I began with a search for the meaning of the name and the story of Deborah.  I knew I was named for the Prophetess Deborah in the bible and I was very familiar with her story.  However, in the context of my current circumstances her story took on a depth I had not seen before.  I found a book online that was intriguing to me.  The Deborah Anointing, by Michelle McClean-Walters.  It’s not unusual for me to read books, but this is my first foray into mainstream Christian authors, besides C.S. Lewis.  Mostly I read LDS authors, but I wanted to know what a Deborah Anointing was. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?   I am on a quest to find me, so I went all in. I’m so glad I did.  Because in the introduction I found my alter ego.  The woman who I could count on to show up for me.  A woman who has always been there for me.  A woman I knew I could count on with unflinching faith;
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The Old Testament describes Deborah as a mighty combination of judge, intercessor, prophetess, mother of Israel, and military strategist. Deborah broke outside of her culture—not out of rebellion, but in obedience to God to set her people free.
As in biblical times God is calling today’s women to a purpose greater than themselves. The Deborah Anointing shows you that although you may have been trapped in tradition and locked into captivity by cultural and gender prejudices, (or a careless, cheating, and abusive spouse) God desires for you to break through these barriers. Now is the time to embrace the fullness of your purpose!
Whatever your sphere of influence at work, at home, or at church—will you accept the challenge to be a modern-day Deborah, stand for God, and boldly lead others to Him?
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I knew that if I could count on anyone it would be the woman who had the courage to wage warfare on Canaan in a time and place when that was NOT how women behaved, and drive Sisera to the tent of Jael who then nailed Sisera’s head to the ground in his own tent.  Gruesome, I know.  But that is the great, unwavering faith I was looking for in order to power-up my solar plexus, to light up my world, with conviction and determination strong enough to fulfill my purpose.  And at my age, I have no time to lose! I need that kind of power.
Deborah, it is. My Alter Ego.
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It wasn’t an easy choice on the surface, but it was the only logic choice in the end.  I searched, briefly, for a more mythical persona. Zena, Warrior Princess was appealing for a minute.  Or Galadriel, the Elven Princess of Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  But Deborah, she is REAL!  And her accomplishments are extraordinary! If you don’t know the story you can read it in Judges 4 and read the Song of Deborah in Judges 5. Deborah’s resume’ is nothing short of impressive:
She was called to be a spokeswoman for God, a prophetess
  • A mighty military strategist
  • A Judge in Israel
  • An intercessor
  • A Mother in Israel
  • She was a woman of conviction, influence and power
  • She was a great leader
  • She was a woman after God’s own heart
All the things I want to be.
Debbie is weak, afraid, anxious, betrayed, and broken.  Deborah isn’t any of those things.
Modern-day Deborahs will be able to stand for righteousness in the midst of a wicked world. The point of Deborah’s story is that it exposes the corruption of the human heart. Israel had trouble with staying the course.  Over and over they would promise to repent and then the second they were delivered they went right back to their wicked ways. That is when Deborah said, “I, Deborah, arose.” Judges 5:7.
In the times of crisis, women of God need to arise:
  1. To arise in a hostile sense means that Deborahs will confront the powers of darkness with the powers of God.
  2. To arise also means to become powerful.  Power that comes from the gifts of the Spirit – faith, healing, and miracles.
  3. To arise can be to also be a voice for the voiceless.
  4. To arise means to be true to oneself.  Take a stand. Be steadfast and immovable.

All of these things that mean to arise, to say, “I, Deborah, arose,” have been a confirmation of my purpose, to stand up and be a voice for women who have been betrayed by their husbands through pornography and sex addiction, espeically when it is not acceptable to talk about it.

The Deborah Principle is to confront the powers of darkness though the gifts of the Spirit, and to be a voice for the voiceless, by taking a stand. Sounds like a worthy purpose to me.

My purpose.

Now it is time for you to find your purpose. What is your alter ego? What is powerful enough in your life to move you to act? Here are some questions to help you figure it out:

  • What is your alter ego’s name?
  • What does it feel like to be your alter ego?
  • How does your alter ego look, or dress,  what is her body type?
  • How do you move or speak? How do you think?
  • What emotions do you feel when you are in your alter ego character?
  • What is your character summary? What is the essence of your character?
  • What is your purpose? What do you stand for?
  • What makes you really angry? If you could change something in the world for the better, what would it be?
  • What gets you inspired?
  • Do you have a theme song?
  • What is your alter ego’s back story?

Think about what you would consider if you were creating a character for a book.  Your character would need to have a belief system, moral framework, a family, friends, likes and dislikes.  Be as detailed as you can about writing down everything you would want to be if you could reinvent yourself.  This is a process that just might help you discover your true purpose in life.

This is a pretty interesting exercise, if you will take the time to do it. You don’t have to share it with anyone, unless you want to.  But it is worth at least exploring the possibilities of what you could be. Finding your alter ego means building a life that is purpose driven.  It means to show up.  It means to live mindfully. Who knows, you just might find that you can create a new life for yourself that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning!

Leave me a note and tell me about your alter ego. How does your alter ego help you to power-up and show up in the world when you feel too broken, too weak, or too afraid?

Who do you want to be?

Be Strong, Stay Sweet

chocolate cupcake warrior

Deborah, the Cupcake Warrior

Coping, divorce, healing, My Story, Trauma Recovery

I’m Fine…After All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Strong!  Be Sweet!

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!

Becoming, boundaries, dating, divorce, healing, My Story, Self Care, Trauma Recovery

10 Things I Love About You

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

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

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

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

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10 Things I Love About You

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

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

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Strong, Stay 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