Becoming, Coping, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

What I Have Learned…So Far

Blog-1-Recovery-Plan-4-17-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And here is why I think this way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

 

 

 

addiction, Books, Trauma Recovery

From Charm to Harm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order this book here.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet

The Cupcake Warrior

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My Story, Uncategorized

You Have Always Had the Power to Come Home!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But…

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

So sad.

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

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

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

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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addiction, betrayal, Uncategorized

What is Cheating?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

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My Story, Uncategorized

What I Would Tell My Ex-Husband this Christmas if I Could Talk to Him…

Here I am again, another Christmas, alone.  This is not how I envisioned it when I discovered my husband’s multiple infidelities over two years ago.  I thought by this Christmas that it would all be an ugly nightmare we could begin to put behind us.  It would have been if he had the ability to take counsel…from anyone, but himself. It didn’t have to be this way.  It shouldn’t have been this way.  If he had the capacity to listen, everything would have been different.  I have said these things to him so many times.  He doesn’t hear me.  We don’t speak the same language anymore.  If he were the man I married, he would hear, understand, and respond. But he isn’t the man I married. Instead, he justifies his actions to fit the narrative he has created about me in his mind.  So here is my letter to him.  One of many.  Expressing again, what I would have chosen for us, if it was my choice to make.  Sadly, there are some choices I will never get to make. This is one of them…

Dear Ex,

I can do little else besides think of you during Christmas.  So many Christmas’ shared, so many memories.  They are all around me, shattered pieces of our lives that I would gladly piece back together with you if you would just be willing to do the hard work needed to repair us, repair our family…repair our lives.  I know you could…if you only wanted to do it.  I guess knowing that you don’t want to is the worst part of my life now.  I have a hard time understanding why you would not, did not, choose me, choose your family, over what your life has become now.  It seems so clear that you chose wrong. You had it all.  You gave us away, without a backwards glance. Whatever you have now is only an illusion of happiness. You and I both know you will never be happy again, unless you choose to repent, repair, and restore your family.  It is what God sent you here to do. (But now appears you have turned your back on God too.)  Without us, your life has no meaning, no happiness, no joy.  Your life now is nothing but whole cloth.  You had the real thing.  You chose to throw it away. You cannot replace something fake with what was real.

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No matter how much I may love you, there is nothing I can do about that now. I wish I could.  I would if I could. Heaven knows I tried! You have your agency to use how you see fit. Where you are now, I cannot go. I don’t even want to go where you are now. I don’t belong there.  I am better than that.  YOU are better than that too! At least you were at one point.

I still love you.  I will always love you.  You are the choice of my heart and the love of my life!  Nothing will ever change that for me.  I guess you have a hard time understanding why I would divorce you then?  You would understand if you knew the depth of my love for you.  You are a part of me.  You are as important to me as my own body.  You are no less useful than my left hand is to me.  I cannot survive my left hand anymore than I can survive without you.  I am in love with you…still.  I always will be.  You don’t spend 37 years serving another person; caring for them, standing with them, supporting them, being there for them, making love to them, listening to them, building a family and a home with them, and just “fall out of love with them.”  No.  That doesn’t happen. Divorce has NOTHING to do with how much or little I love you.  It has to do with survival.  MY SURVIVAL! You would not stop cheating on me.  For 18 months you kept another woman “on the side” just in case it did work out with me.  I couldn’t handle that.  I still can’t.  To see how little you loved me stands up against the depth of feelings I had for you, was killing me…literally. You were found lacking. There is no comparison. If you understood how much what you were doing was hurting me, then you would understand why I had to let you go.

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30

Medically speaking, a part of my body had become as poisonous as gangrene.  If I didn’t cut you off, you would have killed me. If you have cancer, you MUST cut it out before it destroys the whole body!  You had become cancer to me.  Love has nothing to do with it.  It was about my survival.  The fact that you cannot understand this, stands as a testimony of how little you care for me or my well-being. No one in their right mind would expect someone with cancer to  just “live with it.” That is just cruel. It is inhumane.

In this case, “my cancer” is you.  You are the cancer that refused to respond to  any treatment. You wouldn’t allow me to seek treatment to heal you.  You wouldn’t respond to the advice of professionals. You refused to get healthy. So you had to go. I had to remove you or die. I took no joy or happiness in being forced to cut the toxic poison from my life that you had become to me.  It is not what I would have chosen for you, for me, for us, if it were my choice to make.

I would have chosen life. Healing.  Supportive recovery. Forgiveness. Repentance. Restoration.  I would have chosen you, if you just would have chosen me first. You will never know that, because you never gave me the opportunity to show you what I am made of.

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This is on you.  The records of heaven will prove that to you someday.  Someday,  you will see clearly, what you have done.  But not now.  So I am left with no other choice,  I have to go on with life as best as I can, having had to cut a part of me off. Trying my best to recover, even though you keep lashing out at me every chance you get. Your concern is not for my welfare, healing, or well-being.  Your concern is to hurt me for doing what was best for me.  I can only draw one conclusion from your actions; you would rather I not live at all. One day you will see the depravity of this behavior.  But in spite of all of it, I have deep compassion for you. I know you are lonely.  Hurting.  Angry. You don’t understand. I know you carry a lot of guilt and shame. I forgive you for those things you did to me, and continue to do to me.  You cannot hurt me any deeper than you already have.  So I can finally forgive you.  For all of it. I have turned you over to God and He will deal with you.

But my forgiveness doesn’t mean you can be in my life now.  Far from it. Forgiveness is my part.  Repentance is your part.  To be allowed in my life again, even if it is nothing more than friends, requires you to change your behavior.  It requires you to restore trust, safety and connection.  It requires you to learn how to treat your family with decency and respect.  These are the bare minimum requirements. When you do the things you need to do in order to heal and get healthy, your guilt and shame will go away.  You will stop lashing out. The atonement cannot swallow up your guilt and shame until you choose to become a new creature in Christ.  When you do that, had you done it already, you could have your family back. It really IS just that simple! That is what Christmas is all about, a baby who has the power to restore broken things. But you have to decide you want it. Not just say you want it…you have to really want it.  More than you want anything else in your life.

babyjesus

In the meantime, all I can do is to wait from a safe distance.  Pray for you to finally “get it.”  I still wish with all my heart you had chosen me.  But you didnt. I still wish you would.  But I cannot count on that either.  So all I can do is to try to heal and mend my broken heart. I have told you many times if you ever died I would never remarry.  In a way, you have died.  You are not the man who I thought you were. The person I fell in love with no longer exists.  He is dead to me.  Who you are now, is someone I would never want. I have a hard time believing you want to be who you are now.  Why would you? But here we are.  This is the reality.  Our new normal. It’s all so sad.

I don’t know why I bother to keep repeating myself over and over and over.  I don’t know.  Maybe if I say it enough it will get through to you. Somehow.  It seems so clear to me.  It seems clear to everyone.  Except you. Truth is easy to understand. I know these words fall of deaf ears.  They have fallen on deaf ears for two years now.  I suspect they will fall on deaf ears for many more years to come unless you change.  The truth is, this is what I have said to you from the day I found out about your affairs.  I have said the same thing to you nearly every day since then.  I feel like a broken record. I will continue to say the same thing to the end of time, because this is the only path back to me.  Back to our family. Back to God. There is no other way, no other short cut.  Sadly, you can choose to sin in whatever way you want, but you cannot choose how to repent.  Repentance is set in stone. Those terms are set by God.  Bargaining with Him won’t change his mind.You have no choice but to submit to His will on this, no matter how stubborn you are or how right you think you are.  Repentance has a set pattern.  It requires your heart. Giving your heart cannot be faked. You do not know more than God and you cannot fool Him. You can’t trick Him into believing you have repented. You will know when you have really repented because your life will immediately improve! When you can finally submit your heart to Him, that is when you will know it is real. This is your ultimate test.  The mother of all tests.  I hope you don’t fail.

How long will it take for you to figure this out? Will anything get through to you?

Maybe by then, someday, none of us will have to spend another Christmas as a broken family.