From Charm to Harm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order this book here.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet

The Cupcake Warrior

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Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

The Cupcake Warrior

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Runaway Husbands

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

The Cupcake Warrior

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Choose Joy

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

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

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

 

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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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 ex-husband 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 ex-husband. It’s about all ex-husbands 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.

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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10 Things I Love About You

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

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

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

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

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10 Things I Love About You

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

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

Be Strong, Stay Sweet

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Celestial Dating Rules

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

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

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

Preface to the 17 Dating Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seventeen Rules for Celestial Dating

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

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Explanation of the Seventeen Rules for Celestial Dating:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Financial Speaking…

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

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Let me start at the beginning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Sweet, Stay Strong

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The Cupcake Warrior

One Year Ago…

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

“Danger! Danger!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stay Sweet, Be Strong”

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What is Cheating?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

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