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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 Stay Sweet, Be Strong
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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

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Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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

One Year Ago…

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

“Danger! Danger!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

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

A Man in Recovery

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

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

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

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How much time?

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

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

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

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A Man Not in Recovery

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

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

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

Recovery

A Man in Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

addiction, betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

Thoughts from UCAP

UCAPlogo_vertical_blue_320The Utah Coalition Against Pornography had their yearly conference this past week.  I decided to go…and then I didn’t…and then I did…and then I didn’t.  I wasn’t sure how triggering this would be for me, or if I could handle it.  In the end, I decided to go, mostly because my company was providing the text messaging for the conference.  This is also an issue I care about deeply, so I went.  I am glad I did. The theme of the conference was “The Hope Effect” and it turned out to be very hopeful, for both addict and trauma victim. I met lots of awesome new people and re-connected with people I already know.  All in all the experience was great!  I did have a few very triggering moments, I am not going to lie, but I was able to breathe through them and be just fine. Tears were shed, it was just that kind of place.

I came away with a few thoughts and epiphanies that I would like to share. They were profound enough that I wrote them down.

On Secrets

This first one is from therapist Jeff – Speaking to the addict, he said, “Secrets are love repellant. You will feel love to the degree that you don’t keep secrets. You will get better to the degree that you don’t keep secrets” The fact that my Cheater kept so many secrets from me was a very strong indication that he was not going to fix the problem.  He never once came clean to me about anything he was doing.

Addicts build walls and they go up because they are afraid of rejection, but these walls have just the opposite effect, at least they did in my life.  I ended up feeling like the rejected one. These secrets color and damage every aspect of the relationship.  Addicts reject their spouses love because they think, “If you knew what I did, you would not love me.” But it is the addict who doesn’t feel the spouses love so they end up blame the spouse.

I can attest to this.  It is exactly what happened in my situation.  I can imagine that my Cheater felt so much guilt and shame for what he had done that he could not imagine that I would ever love him again.  But the opposite would have been true if he had done the hard work to just get INTO recovery.  I would have loved and respected him more than he could ever imagine, because he would be fighting to keep me.  There is nothing more loveable or romantic than a man who will fight for the woman he loves!

“It is a contradiction to say, “I honor the human person,” while treating the human body as separable from the person using it as a tool, devouring [pornographic] images of it…One cannot at once love the beautiful and desire to defile it. It is like loving the Pieta with an ax.”  Anthony Esolen

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The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

Therapist Tyler Perry talked about the importance of connection in preventing and overcoming addiction. The science is becoming so clear that people turn to addictive behaviors because they are not connecting to people in the real world. We live in an addicting world.  Everything from gaming, to cell phones, to pornography is addicting.  Even jobs and hobbies can be addicting.

Long term recovery cannot happen unless the addict has real life connections.

Addiction + Connection = Recovery

Sobriety is only achieved by a committed effort to a lifestyle change. This is something I worked hard to show my Cheater.  But he was not convinced he needed a drastic change in his lifestyle to overcome the behavior.  The truth is, that unless there is a lifestyle change, these patterns of behavior will come back.  There is no doubt of that.  You cannot just white knuckle your way to sobriety on sheer willpower.  It won’t happen.

Studies are showing that there must be a connection to others and to your higher power.  And that connection to your higher power begins with daily activities that happen with intention. Things like, scripture study, prayer, meditation, going to church, being in nature, listening to good music and keeping a journal are all things addicts should be doing every day. Over time these “dailies” cause a softness to occur in the heart and we get a confirmation that we are worthy of love.  We gain perspective.  We become humble and that fosters safety and connection for the partner.

Recovery from addiction is very possible, but it takes work.  It takes a willingness to work. It takes humility.  My Cheater did not demonstrate any of these behaviors. He doesnt exhibit them any more today than he did 5 years ago.

While sitting in this conference I saw men who were in recovery.  I saw their light and humility. I saw their efforts and willingness to fight for their wives and children.  It was a stark contrast to how my Cheater responds.  In that moment I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was right to divorce him.  He does not deserve me.  He does not deserve our children.  Had he fought for us, he would have been worthy of us.  But he didn’t. And because he refused to fight for us we were left with no other choice but to walk away.

On Goal Setting

Lastly, I was struck by what therapists are learning about setting goals.  45% of Americans set goals for the New Year, but 92% never achieve their goals.  And by February most people have given up on their goals altogether.  So researchers have tried to figure out why most people do not achieve their goals.

What they found is:

That if you write down your goals and share then with someone else it will decrease the motivation to achieve the goal.  This is because of something they call the “substitution effect.”  What this does is that if you tell someone about your goal, the brain will actually tell you that you have already achieved the goal and convince you that you are already making progress.  This cause the motivation to actually work on the goal to decline. Our brain gives us validation for just “planning” to do something. But if you do not have an outside audience then you are more likely to work harder to achieve the goal.

This is why setting a goal to not look at porn never works.  When your goal becomes white and black, sobriety or addiction, you will fail.  Every time. You are doing well, until you are not.  You become delusional in your thinking.  Everything is always bad or always good.  In this state you are delusional.

So forget about setting goals like this that will set you up for failure.  Instead, focus on the processes. Processes are not a destination. Processes act more like a road map.

Here are the main processes for recovery:

  1. Recovery Dailies – these help you stay emotionally stable, self-aware and grounded.  This is like providing routine maintainance to your car.  If you don’t take care of your car, it will go along fine for a while until you have a problem. By then the problem will be serious and expensive.  Dailies are routine maintainance.
  2. Curiosity – approach healing with a curious mind.  This is much different from evaluating everything that happened.  Slow way down and enjoy the journey.  Ask yourself important questions like, “I wonder why I feel this way?” or “That is an interesting cycle, why did that happen?” Observe your behavior and ask questions about it.  This will take a lifetime to master this shift in thinking.  But having curiosity is more important than intelligence when it comes to problem solving.
  3. Highlight Patterns – highlight your own part of the pattern first to your partner then ask, “what do you think your part of the pattern is in this situation?” This will start a healthy dialogue in identifying and fixing the pattern.
  4. Conflict is Diagnostic – When you have a conflict with your partner it is a chance to ask, “What is it about this pattern that got us back here?” Use conflict to find a diagnosis. Then check your own emotions to see how you handle conflict.
  5. Seek Personal Serenity – Do not let someone else control your emotions. This will take years of work, but it is necessary.  Do not hand over your influence and power to someone else.  Accepting hardships is the pathway to peace.
  6. Replace Fairness with Acceptance – Fairness is the enemy of serenity.  Fairness does not help you to grow. Learned helplessness is not acceptance. Acceptance is not wasting your energy  on things you have no influence over and spending time on the things you do. Accept things that are for what they are.
  7. Create a Recovery Narrative – Imagine your life as being narrated.  We value stories over random facts.  Create how you want your story to be in your mind. 12 Steps is critical to recovery because it creates a safe place for an addict to share their story. Your role in it is to not be overly critical or supportive of the addict in recovery.  Remember that we do not throw parades for ourselves or others until the behavior is changed, if we do this it undermines recovery. Praise decreases the motivation to keep going.  A better response for improvement is, “that’s interesting, it will be interesting to see if you can keep that up.”
  8. Breathe – Remember to breathe.  This allows us to reset.  Nobody can go at this 100% all of the time. Breathing is essential.

What stands out to me in these processes is how much I yearned for this to happen in my own relationship with my Cheater and how unwilling he was to make it happen for us. This kind of work would have been hard to do, but I would have loved it!  I would have enjoyed so much working to become closer and more connected as a couple.  This would have been fun for me! However, I also realize now how resistant he was to all of this.  It was never going to happen, not in a million-trillion years.  Like he told me over and over, he just isn’t into all that touchy-feely stuff.  It’s not him.  He is right.  He isn’t, wasn’t, even on a good day. This is the kind of connection I wanted and needed from him throughout our marriage and he is not capable of giving it to me.  And even the crisis of an addiction wasn’t enough for him to want it for himself either.

It’s better for me that I divorced him. I was really fighting a losing battle. He is a broken man with no desire to fix anything.

If you would like to view articles and videos from UCAP classes visit their website.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

betrayal, Choices, divorce, My Story, Spiritual, The Other Woman

Oh God, Where Art Thou?

If you are friends with me on Facebook, then you know that my Cheater got married  last week.  If you are not friends with me on Facebook… SURPRISE!

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Are you as surprised as I am?  Because he didn’t tell me or his kids.  He just went off and did it. So much class, that one! Obviously he didn’t think of me or the kids or how we would take it. That makes sense, because he obviously wasn’t thinking of us when he was cheating either!

I am shocked, but not shocked. He has made soooo many poor choices over the past two years, why not another one?  There are thousands of reasons why he shouldn’t have gotten married so fast.  The biggest one is that he is an addict and this is a rebound!  But it is my understanding that this is so typical of addicts.  1) They cannot live without someone telling them that they are ok and there is nothing wrong with them and 2) They want to prove to themselves and the world they are not the problem.  “See world, I found another spouse so fast, I must not be the problem! Somebody loves me enough to marry me!”  I give it 3 months. Nobody should be surprised.

I have had so many emotions swirling around, at hurricane force, inside me this past week.  I run the gambit from, relief to intense pain, similar to what I felt when I first learned of his betrayal. I am angry and sad.  I feel like screaming and laughing, all at the same time. But mostly I am relieved!

He got MARRIED!  What an idiot!

Eventually, I will process it all and sort it out.  But for now, I am still a mess. Here is why:

Do I even need to explain why?  Some things just don’t need words.

One thing stands out though – I AM FREE!  This is not my problem anymore!  He is not my problem anymore!  He is somebody else’s problem!! I can walk away and dust my hands feet off of him! Not my circus, not my monkeys! SHE now has to deal with his crazy!  And oh man, she is in for a rude awakening when she finds out just how crazy his crazy is! I sort of feel sorry for her.  Sort of. Some people are just willfully stupid and they deserve what they get. Some choice bite you in the butt because you put your butt in between the bars of the Lion’s cage! Mark my words, I will be telling you all about it before the next 3 months are over!

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Now, I know, he will NEVER get his act together.  He is NEVER going to change.  He isn’t interested in becoming a whole person.  He thinks he is just fine the way he is.  So that… is that.

I also know now that I do not EVER want him back. E-V-E-R!  He is no longer the man I married and he has proven that he isn’t likely to “come to himself” again in this life.  At the rate he is going, he doesn’t have enough time to fix any of the things he has done.  He doesn’t deserve me.  I don’t want him.  I really thought I would never be able to say that – but there it is. I don’t want him. He killed whatever feelings for him that I may have had. His new marriage has made all of that painfully clear. I mean nothing to him.

I have been living in my own denial.  I really believed he would get his act together and come back to me!  I actually believed that our 38-year marriage meant something to him and that eventually he would wake up and remember that! Addicts are not the only ones who can live in denial – victims do too. I was “denialing” it all over the place!  My bad.

All those months I spent praying for him to get a clue, begging the Lord for him to see his addiction and come out of denial, begging the Lord to help put our family back together, asking for an “Alma the Younger” experience for my ex. Pfft. They were prayers that were wasted.  Someone told me not to waste one more prayer on him and that it was time to pray for and focus on me.  I like that.  That first night after I found out about his marriage, I went to say my prayers and I seriously couldn’t think of what to pray for!  I had been praying so hard for him, I had completely neglected me.  I am fixing that right away! Just in the past few days my prayers have become infinitely more meaningful and peaceful. I am sure the Lord is glad He doesn’t have to listen to my incessant begging too. We are all just happier this way.

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One bad feeling that has surfaced again, is feeling abandoned.  I have been abandoned so much in my life by significant attachment relationships that it is hard not to feel that Heavenly Father has abandoned me too.  All the old, “why did this happen to me?” questions kicked in with a vengeance.  Followed quickly by, “God, do you even know I am here?” I have serious abandonment issues.

I understand the lament of Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, “O God, where art Thou?

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O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?

 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?

 O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.

 Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and, in the fury of thine heart, with thy sword avenge us of our wrongs.

 Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.

~Doctrine & Convenants 121

I spent almost two hours talking to my sweet Sister about my sadness and pain on Friday. She was awesome.  She just listened.  And she said she didn’t have any answers, but she loves me. You couldn’t ask for more! No judgment.  No advice.  Just listening. One of the things I told her is that I felt God has abandoned me!  I feel like he is punishing me, like he thinks this is my fault somehow.  I know that isn’t true, but it is how I am feeling.  This is my own Gethsemane and God has withdrawn Himself from me.

And then the tender mercy came on Saturday morning as I woke up to Libby licking the tears from my eyes.  I had been crying in my sleep again.  That happens to me a lot. I wake up crying.  Through my tears, I read a text from a long time and very dear friend.  I don’t hear from her often, but when I do, it is profound.  She is one of those people who just “get’s me.” She knows what I need before I even know the problem.

“I read this article this morning and felt inspired to share it with YOU.  I know it’s been a hard week but please know you have friends seen and unseen praying for you.  Love you soooo much.” Yet Thou Art There, Elder Neal A. Maxwell

When she says “inspired,” I know that is the truth.  She studies the scriptures early in the morning and prays for guidance on who and how she can help that day.  What is clear is that the Lord sent her to me with a very specific message.

I already knew this talk.  I read it again and listened to the video. I read Elder Maxwell every chance I can.  He is my favorite!  I get my intellectual and spiritual feasting from him and Elder McConkie.  Between the two of them, they come up with everything I could ever need to hear! I love these two men.  They deliver the gospel, straight up, without the fluff.  I don’t want to hear stories or fluff, just doctrine. I wish they were still here.

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Several things Elder Maxwell said stood out:

“This same special assurance can see each of us through all the seasons and circumstances of our lives. A universal God is actually involved with our small, individual universes of experience! In the midst of His vast dominions, yet He numbers us, knows us, and loves us perfectly (see Moses 1:35John 10:14).”

Even though he knew he had been called personally by a personal God, Enoch wrestled with feelings of personal inadequacy (see Moses 6:31). Enoch also wept over the human condition, but he was told, “Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look” (Moses 7:44). If Enoch had not looked and been spiritually informed, he would have seen the human condition in isolation from the grand reality. If God were not there, Enoch’s “Why?” would have become an unanswered scream of despair!


Significantly, the consequences of misused human agency were explained to Enoch: mortals had been given a commandment to “love one another,” yet those then had become a people “without affection” who “hate their own blood” (Moses 7:33).

At first, Enoch refused “to be comforted” (Moses 7:44). Finally, he saw God’s plan, the later coming of the Messiah in the meridian of time, and the eventual triumph of God’s purposes. Enoch saw how the throne of God features justice and mercy (see Moses 7:31).

We, too, can “refuse to be comforted.” We can wrongly charge God with that large portion of human misery which is actually caused by mortals’ failure to keep His commandments. Or, like Enoch, we can be intellectually meek enough to look and to accept the truths about God’s being there and about His personality and plans.


Deity called Samuel, Mary Magdalene, Saul, and Joseph Smith by their first names (see 1 Sam. 3:4John 20:16Acts 9:4JS—H 1:17).

Macro-love with such micro-manifestations!


Without the revelations, however, the answers as to the why of our existence and the why of human suffering would elude even the best intellectual excursions:

“Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God” (Jacob 4:8).

The ultimate human questions are really the “why” questions! The gospel is positively “brim” with answers to the “why” queries concerning human purpose. Gospel truths are the vital integrating and ordering truths, not only telling us of “things as they really are” but also “as they really will be” (Jacob 4:13).


Conscience permits the Lord to be there, whether in early warnings or final warnings. He gives us a flash of insight or a twinge of remembrance, pulling us back from a precipice or prompting us to do good. Conscience can warn that we are only falling further behind by insisting on getting even. Conscience warns us not to sink our cleats too deeply in mortal turf, which is so dangerously artificial.

In a hundred ways, Deity will always be there, just as Enoch testified, including in our suffering.


Wives and husbands whose lives are shattered by the betrayal of a deserting spouse may feel forsaken or drenched by injustice. Yet they, too, can know, “Thou art there,” by responding to Jesus’ invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that … are heavy laden” (Matt. 11:28).


To those of you who so suffer and who, nevertheless, so endure and so testify by the eloquence of your examples, we salute you in Christ! Please forgive those of us who clumsily try to comfort you. We know from whence your true comfort comes. God’s “bosom” is there to be leaned upon.

Jesus’ promised peace is a special form of rest amid unrest. Even when other things are in commotion, His disciples can still stand (see D&C 45:26, 32). His disciples know the Lord is there in latter-days. “I am he who led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; and my arm is stretched out in the last days, to save my people Israel” (D&C 136:22).

We can confidently cast our cares upon the Lord because, through the agonizing events of Gethsemane and Calvary, atoning Jesus is already familiar with our sins, sicknesses, and sorrows (see 1 Pet. 5:72 Ne. 9:21Alma 7:11–12). He can carry them now because He has successfully carried them before (see 2 Ne. 9:8)!


Yes!  He is there!  Even when you cannot hear Him yourself, He sends his comfort through the words and deeds of others.  Oh how grateful I am for righteous and faithful friends! Thank you for this tender mercy. God does know I am here and he hears me!

UPDATE:  It turns out that the Ex was cheating on the new spouse before he married her!  He was cheating with another woman even several days after he got married.  How do I know this?  The woman he was cheating with contacted me because she read this blog!  Yep!  He cheats on his new wife.  This should be interesting.  Where’s the popcorn??

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

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

Sorry. Not Sorry

Our Anniversary would have been Monday.

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


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


And this happens…

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am truly sorry.”

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

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

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

Let’s dissect  it, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and have a change of heart 

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

and even try to repair feelings and relationships, 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Doctrine & Covenants 19:15-18

I am truly sorry,

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

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

The Cupcake Warrior

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Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

 

 

 

abuse, addiction, betrayal, Emotional, Narcissist

Narcissism & Sex Addiction: Twins of Pain

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Timothy 3:2-5

My ex-husband was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder shortly after I discovered his “first” affair over 9 years ago.  The more I read up on it, the more despondent I became.  I couldn’t see him taking this seriously at all.  It turns out he didn’t. Medication and therapy were short-lived.  He pushed them off as being unnecessary, too expensive, and he was in complete control of himself. Being a narcissist, alone, ensured that he will not believe he had a problem to begin with, or if he could be convinced that he did have a problem, eventually, he would believe he was aweome enough  to overcome it on its own.  Timageshat is exactly what happened.

The reason we divorced is because he would not, could not, admit he had a problem.  I had let it slide the first time, this time I could not.  He would have to admit to his problem or lose me. But like the fabled Narcissus, he would rather be in love with his image of himself than find true love in a real woman.

What is Narcissism?

Many experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.

This is where the alliance between narcissism and sex addiction become difficult to understand.  Each condition carries so many of the same symptoms and characteristics that it becomes difficult to know which disorder to treat first.  recent studies show that treating the sex addiction piece first greatly reduces the symptoms of NPD.

The Research On Narcissism And Sex Addiction

In a recent study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, a team of researchers set out to uncover whether there is a link between sex addiction and narcissism in both male and female sex addicts.

The research team was able to quantify the level of narcissism using three metrics:

  • The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)
  • Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI)
  • Index of Sexual Narcissism (ISN)

The study revealed that subjects who had watched internet pornography at any point in their lives showed higher instances of narcissistic personality traits. But, more importantly, both male and female subjects who watched internet pornography daily were more likely than every other group to have a narcissistic personality. Also, the more porn they watched, the more narcissistic they were likely to be. Read more here.

Narcissism and sex addiction are fellow travelers because they feed on each other. Both draw on the addict’s core beliefs about being unlovable, unworthy and alone. Narcissistic over-entitlement allows the addict to feel justified in his or her sexually addictive behavior and avoid the shame that would otherwise surround the behavior, and sex addiction leads the addict into a progressively more isolated and self-centered life in which his or her narcissism reigns supreme. Sex addicts do not meet their emotional needs in real relationships but rather in the fantasy laden encounters of their addiction. The acting out sex addict is the consummate narcissist who controls the whole show and thus stays safe.” ~ Linda Hatch PhD

Almost everyone on the planet has at least a little bit of self-love. That’s the element that gives people confidence and magnetism, and it’s the sort of personality attribute that can make a person seem attractive or even powerful. But humility is also an important part of the psyche of a healthy adult, as it allows people to respect others and balance the needs of the self against the needs of society as a whole. When that balance is upset and people love themselves more than their neighbors, narcissism could be at play, and that could lead to addiction.

It is not surprise that the narcissist and the sex addict share a lot of the same traits.

Treating The Narcissistic Sex Addict

Narcissistic sex addicts are perhaps the hardest to treat. They use grandiosity and a façade of self-confidence to present as though they are indestructible, but this could not be further from the truth. Narcissism is a defense mechanism of the psyche; it protects what is, in truth, a fragile ego and a very low sense of self-worth. Most narcissists grew up with inadequate caregiving—emotional or physical abuse, or inconsistent care or neglect—and carry these wounds with them into adulthood. Their strong need for validation likely comes from the a lack of a coherent bond with mother or father (or other guardians). A strong sense of entitlement may also exist in individuals who were consistently provided for materially, rather than emotionally. The resultant emotional deficits may manifest as sexual addiction, but as hard as narcissism is to treat, it is not impossible. Those clinicians who have the most success approach their clients with compassion, non-judgment and honesty, and those sex addicts who express narcissistic traits who have the greatest degree of success are those willing to acknowledge their problem and to ask for help. Read More Here.

As is true for every addict, recovery requires that they undertake a fearless inventory of how their behaviors have affected others. Only then does recovery begin and their relationships begin to thrive. It is not an exaggeration that many narcissistic sex addicts need to be admitted to a treatment facility to be able to get a handle on their issues enough to heal.

For those living with the recovering, narcissistic addict, it is important that you recognize the damage the relationship has caused you and establish the you that was lost in the process through your own recovery. It is important that both spouses seek help.  This is too big to overcome alone and if your husband will not seek help, you will especially need the additional support.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

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

Phoenix Rising

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

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

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

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

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

Choices and accountability matter!

6355966259854999961306825297_dr-seuss-brainin-your-head

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

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

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

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

What it boils down to is this: Hitting Rock Bottom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was blame.

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

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

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

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

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

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

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

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

He Said…She Said; The Denial Effect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember…

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior