addiction, betrayal, infidelity, repentance, Spiritual

Forgiveness for Adultery: Is it Different?

A family member recently told my daughter she wasn’t being forgiving enough of her Father. In the famous words of Indigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

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This idea that we just have to forgive someone even when they are still in the throws of sinning against us, is a very common musconception and reveals that the person who is saying it has a lack of basic doctrinal understanding about when, where, how and why we forgive someone who has wronged us through adultery and infidelity.

Let me be clear about something: we must forgive everyone. That much is clear in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I understand this. However, some wrongs are easier to forgive than others. When someone breaks your favorite toy, it  is much easier to forgive that than it is when someone breaks your family.  Some wrongs need more time and space to forgive. And some wrongs require the sinner to repent or be cast out, by the church and maybe even his own family.

Doctrine and Covenants 42 is pretty clear on this:

21 Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.

22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.

24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.

25 But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive;

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26 But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.

This sounds to me like you get one pass in committing adultery from the church.  The 2nd time, no forgiveness is required. I might be wrong on this one, but after reading a few conference talks with this reference included, I don’t think so.

I hated it when my husband would say to me, “You are just too angry with me for me to repair anything with you. You haven’t forgiven me yet.”  Some idiot in his group told him I was like trying to hug a porcupine. So he used both of these things as excuses to not repair anything. He thinks there is no point, I won’t accept anything he would or could do, so why bother.

Except that the Lord REQUIRES him to repent, repair and restore to me what he took away.  That is why he should bother!  Of course I am angry.  He would not change, he still refuses to change, and he blamed me for his failure to do so. Wouldn’t that make you angry? Wouldn’t it make anyone angry?

Peter was pretty clear about how you treat someone who refuses to repent, repair and restore:

2 Peter 2:

14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Proverbs is very clear about what happens when a man commits adultrey and refuses to repent:

Proverbs 6:

32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

And this one is pretty clear about requiring the innocent to withdraw from the man who refuses to repent!

2 Thessalonians:

24 For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.

25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.

It seem pretty clear to me from my study on this topic that the Lord requires us to forgive, more for our own souls, than for the sinner.  However, it is not quite as cut and dried for adultery. If the adulterer is unrepentant and refuses to change the innocent are expected to withdraw from him in order to save themselves. The question then becomes, why? Alma gives us some insights…

Alma 46:

8 Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one.
9 Yea, and we also see the great wickedness one very wicked man can cause to take place among the children of men

Of course, those who continue to be rebellious, wicked and prideful still deserve our forgiveness, but it’s pretty clear that we are not required to continually expose ourselves to the influences of these sins.

D&C 64:

33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

35 And the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land.

I do forgive him for what he has done.  That was pretty easy to do, and it happened fairly quickly after the original offense.  What I have a hard time forgiving is what he has done since then.  I know I need to forgive him and I will, eventually.  It would be so much easier to extend that mercy if he would do what is required of him to repent, repair, and restore that which he took away. If he did the bare minimum in this regard all of our lives would change for the better.

Even so, I still need to forgive him for my own sake.  But it goes a long way with me to know that the Lord doesn’t expect me to continue to expose myself to his bad behavior while he is still in the depths of sin.  One thing my Cheater liked to bully me over was that I wasn’t supportive enough of him.  Of course not! He wasn’t repentant! The Lord expects me to protect myself from his persistent sin.  He refused to repent.  So I removed myself, and “escaped from him who lived in error.” You have every right and justification to do the same!

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

addiction, betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery

I Accept…

Acceptance Letter

Write a letter telling your partner the things that you accept about your life as it is now.  This doesn’t mean you agree with it or approve.  It just means that you accept the way things are at this time.

Acceptance is a difficult concept.  It means to acknowledge, yield, and surrender to present circumstances. To accept this I must respect your choices, become resigned to learning to live with life the way it is, not the way I want it to be.

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I had learned to accept all of you, faults and all.  I have loved you as unconditionally as I knew how, even when I was ignored and hurting.  But accepting this, is the hardest thing I have ever done, or ever had to do.  The road to acceptance is long and difficult.  I feel it is more a process than a destination. I am not sure I really can accept everything that has happened to me, but really, what choice do I have?  If I do not accept this, then it just hurts me further, and one thing I cannot live with is more hurt.  Acceptance, by definition, comes in layers of respect, acknowledgment, yielding, surrendering, submitting, and finally, being satisfied with the outcome. So here is what I accept…

Respect

Respect is a feeling of understanding that encourages you to value someone enough to treat that person in an appropriate way. From this definition, I can truthfully express respect for you.  I have loved your for more than 3 decades.  I value you and respect you enough to move out of your way so that you can pursue the decisions that you have now decided to make, without input or demands from me.  You are free to make your own decisions and I respect that.  Learning to live with it, will be what is the most difficult for me.

I understand and respect myself enough to know that I cannot live with your current reality.  I must walk away until you figure this out.  I deserve to be treated better, so until that happens, if it ever does, I cannot be with you. It’s has been the most difficult thing I have ever done to put myself first and to believe my needs matter enough to meet them, no matter how difficult that is for either of us.

I respect you enough to let you make your own choices. And I respect me enough to do what I need to do for me because of your choices. I have come to accept this.

Acknowledge

When someone acknowledges something it means they are able to recognize the existence, truth or facts of a particular situation and to express the realization that they recognize the authority and validity of the facts.

I acknowledge the truth, facts and existence of your addictive and compulsive behaviors that cause you to act out sexually in inappropriate ways. I had to acknowledge this so that I could find peace and healing for myself. I also acknowledge that you do not agree with this truth because you have not yet learned it for yourself.

I understand that when you do, finally understand, that it will be very difficult for you to accept. But, your family will be here for you to help you through that when the time comes and you are humble enough to recognize it.

I have had to come to accept this for my own sanity.

Yield

Yielding means giving into or going along with the demands, or will of another.

You have always had a very strong will.  One that is very difficult to go up against.  I have often said, you could convince anyone of anything you wanted them to believe.  Your will has been so overpowering that I have often yielded to you just to keep the peace.  It’s much easier to agree with you than to oppose you. Taking the opposite view from yours puts me in a line of fire that is more than difficult to defend or survive.  So, being in opposition to you has always come with a cost.  The price I have paid is losing myself, my needs, my wants, my goals and my values in life.  You do not value me or respect me enough to let me be my own person.  I gave up so much for you.  Yielding to you has been the story of my life. You do not take opposition well.  Your response to it is oppression.

Another word for yield is, to defy.  I knew I could never defy you without serious consequences.  So it took something very serious for me to summon the courage and strength to do that – you broke a core belief. Which is complete fidelity in marriage.  However, I also believe in forgiveness and repentance.  To repent means to change.  So far, that hasn’t happened, so I am forced to acquiesce to you, or betray my core foundational principles. Those were my only two choices.

I cannot betray my belief system.  So, for me, this choice wasn’t easy, but it was the only choice I could make.  You forced me to sacrifice “us” for my core foundational principles.

I cannot yield to you.  I must yield to God. I have come to accept this.

surrender

Surrender 

Surrender is a lot like yielding.  But in this context it is yielding to a higher power, control or demands.  While I cannot yield to your power, control or demands, I can surrender my all to God.

I could not surrender to you, nor could I surrender to me.  Both of us are flesh and blood and we make mistakes, but Heavenly Father does not make mistakes.  He can guide us perfectly through the storms and vicissitudes of life if we surrender our will to His. It became clear to me, early on, that His way was the ONLY way. My one true path. The rock of my foundation. The only way I was going to make it through this in once piece.

So I made a very critical choice – to surrender to Him.  It was the best and most important thing I have ever done.  The only way I could navigate this was to say, “thy will be done!”

There is no other way for me. I have come to accept this.

Submit

Submitting to these truths have been the only way for me to find peace so far.  I don’t like or love any of it.  But there is nothing I can do to interfere with your agency, no matter how much I wish for it.  Our Heavenly Father has declared agency to be a bedrock right.  We were sent to this earth to learn, by our own experience to distinguish the good from the evil.  The only thing that allows that to happen is our agency, there is no other way. I cannot force you to make better choices, no matter how much I may want to do it. I can’t. So rather than be angry at you for making what are, in my opinion, the wrong choices, the best thing I can do for myself and you is to withdraw  to a safe enough distance for me so that you can figure this out for yourself without causing me further damage and so that I can heal regardless of what you do or do not do.

Heavenly Father’s plan is truly merciful for both of us.

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Satisfied

Full acceptance mean to be satisfied with the current situation. The mind is at rest, the soul is at peace.  Accepting means that it will suffice for now.  It is good enough.

Is my life the way I want it to be?  NO!  Everything I ever believed has been challenged.  My life, how it was, has been taken from me, along with all of my hopes and dreams.  Accepting what was done to me has been the hardest thing I have been ever asked to do. There was a time, when I believed it would be impossible!  Difficult? Yes!  Impossible? No.  But it does take time and effort.  Healing from deep wounds is never quick or easy.

But I am satisfied that, in time, I will heal.  I will find peace.  My mind will be at rest. And my life will be restored by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. I have already come so far!  Much farther than I ever believed I could, all because of Him, who is mighty to save!

Until then, I am satisfied that I will recover.  I am satisfied that, eventually, my life will be better than I dreamed it could be. I am satisfied that God’s got this. With or without you, I will be ok.

I accept this.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

abuse, addiction, lying, My Story, Trauma Recovery

How You Nearly Destroyed Me…

Anger Letter

Write a letter to your partner to share just have their addiction has impacted you.  Be specific and honest.  Do not hold back.  Tell them how angry you are and why.

Because of what you did, there are some choices that I will never get to make… that is why I am so angry!

Nearly 18 months after I first discovered your year long affair, I am  still getting triggered by the idiocy of the thoughts that are held hostage inside your twisted mind.  A mind that is so warped in addiction that you cannot even see the stupidity.  The man I fell in love with would never be so illogical in his thoughts.  I could count on you to be calm and reasonable, even when you challenged me to “say what I mean and mean what I said.” Even when you were being sarcastic and condescending, most of the time you could be reasoned out of an absurd stance if the argument proposed had it’s merit. But not anymore.  The bright, intelligent, smart, and articulate man I once knew has been reduced to brainlessness through his own choosing.  If this isn’t an addiction, that is plaguing your, once very capable, mind then I don’t know what else it could be?  Maybe you really have completely lost your mind! At any rate, you act and behave as though your brain has been replaced by swiss cheese in totality.

Your thoughts are incoherent, and at times, you seem completely unable to remember what you said from one day to the next. A far cry from the man who used to be able to remember what you said to him, word for word, a month ago, where you said it, and what you were wearing when you said it. And then there is the lying, constant, non-stop, never ending lies. Lies on top of lies on top of other lies on top of more lies. It feels like you are a teenager trying  to convince your mom you were not out drinking with your buddies, even when she finds you throwing up in the bathroom reeking of alcohol with an empty bottle in your hand!   The worst part is that you cannot see how completely ridiculous you look and sound to the sane and sober people around you!

Nothing you do or say makes any sense to your family members, so we are left shaking our heads in astonishment and disbelief  as we watch you reduced to a shell of your former self. And I am angered by the deliberate way that you have elected to self destruct.  Meanwhile, all we can do is stand by and helplessly watch as you so  artfully spin your reality into a web of lies and deceit that no one  around you can possibly discern between truth and error. Bewildering. I have been so completely imprisoned in your fabrications of the truth that I have resigned myself to being captive forevermore in a house of mirrors, unable to escape. The truth is there is no escape from the madness of your addiction, until you decide you want to lead the way out. All any of the rest of us can do is to learn how to live within this “new normal” that you have created for all of us.

I feel anger towards you because… 

14440-1466488488This is the foundational principle that all my anger is built on.  The one, overarching truth I am forced to accept; you took away my freedom to choose. Oh, of course, I can make choices on how I will act from now on.  I can choose to be happy or not, inspite of everything, but because of what you did and what you continue to do, there are some choices I will NEVER get to make.  Your agency has trumped mine.  I don’t care how many times my therapists, friends, church leaders or family tell me I can choose how I respond to you, that I can live my  own life and learn to choose my own path, the fact remains that there are some choices I will NEVER get to make.  My entire life has been altered by what you have done.  In one heartless moment,  my whole world was shattered, “and all the kings horses and all the kings men, cannot put me back together again. The reality is that I will never be the same.  Often I hear that I will end up being better for having gone through this, I guess I will  never know because I don’t have any other choice, now do I?  I feel like I have come to the end of my race to the finish line, only to have you mow me down with a tank.  I am flattened. I won’t finish.  After 37 years of marriage, I was almost there, and I lost everything.

I may go on to finish out my life very happy and content.  I may be able to rise above the ashes you left my life in. I very well could end up being better off without you.  But I will never know if it is true or if it is not true because I was not given the ability to choose the course of my own life.  As one of my friends put it, “Some people just shouldn’t be given agency, because they don’t know how to use it!”

You yanked the journal of my life out of my hands and with a poison pen you rewrote my story, our story! This is not how it was supposed to go…

If It Walks Like a Duck…

Let’s talk about addiction, shall we?

The studies show that an addicted brain is incapable of reason, connection, empathy and understanding. All of these processes and others find their origination in the prefrontal cortex.  If any part of the pre-frontal cortex is missing then these responses are minimal to no response.

When the brain has been hijacked by the limbic brain, all the above processes are rendered unresponsive.  The person, is not capable of making better decisions. They just can’t, unless the person remains sober for a few months, up to several years, so and this part of the brain heals from the deficit. You should know this!  Given all of the horrible, stupid, idiotice decisions you have made in the past two year, there is NO WAY you are not behaving like an addict!

Behaviors that are linked to an addictive brain will produce;

  • Disconnection from loved ones
  • Symptoms of denial behaviors
  • Lying and minimizing
  • Secrecy
  • Inability to have or maintain an erection
  • Moving from acting out online to in-person affairs

You have EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE BEHAVIORS!  ALL OF THEM! And yet you what me to believe that its not that bad or that you just have a few minor compulsions.  Minor stuff wouldn’t ruin the lives of your wife and children!  Why is it so hard to grasp this concept?  How can you have every single addictive behavior and still say you do not have an addiction?  It is insane to hang on to this belief. You are living in absolute denial!

I feel anger towards you because…

You will not admit to what is plainly in front of your face!  This isn’t even bordering on plausible deniability! And yet, you want me to buy this load of crap you are selling me? It’s never going to happen!  Never!  There is nothing you can do or say that will ever change my mind short of a brain scan.  At any rate I am furious at you for thinking for one moment that I could be so gullible and stupid to even entertain your warped version of the truth.  I don’t know whether to be more offended that you would lie to me outright or that you think I would actually believe you! Either way your behavior is repulsive and insulting.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. You are an addict. Everyone knows it but you.

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The Marriage Covenant…

If you were going to do this to me, I wish you would have told me  long before now.  Wasn’t there a time that you were ready to throw me in the dumpster long before you had taken most of my life from me?  Couldn’t you have done this when we were younger so that I would have been in better health, not so wrinkled and more equipped to take care of myself?  Why now?  What were you thinking? Did you use all of me up, until there was nothing left, so you could toss me aside? No?  Because that is what it feels like.

On January 23rd 1979 we enter the Mesa Arizona Temple to be married and sealed for time and all eternity to each othmesa-templeer with very specific promises and covenants. “Do you covenant before God, angels and these witnesses that you will have no sexual relations with anyone to whom you are not legally and lawfully wedded?”  Didn’t you answer that question with a
“Yes?”  Didn’t you? Up until later that evening I had not had sex with anyone else but you.  You got all of me, clean and pure.  Did you do the same for me?  I  thought you did, but I suppose now I will never really know.  I honestly don’t know anything for sure anymore.  Everything I ever believed about
you, every assumption I had, every word you ever said to me is now called into question. Was my whole life with you a lie? If not, when did the lies start?

I feel anger towards you because… 

You broke our marriage covenants you made between me and Heavenly Father.  You obliterated our forever family.  You left your wife and children without a guide, to fend for themselves in the lone and dreary world.  You took the priesthood from our home.  You took away all the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. You had no right!

Oh sure, I can always remarry, blah, blah, blah.  We both know I will never be able to be someone’s second anything, not after all of this.  I just do not have the stomach for a second wife position. Besides, that is not how it goes down in my patriarchal blessing because YOU changed my story!

And all you can say in defense of yourself is that you “just made a series of bad choices.” Really? That is all you have to say for yourself? So much devastation over a simple “series of bad choices?” I’m sorry but there is so much more to it than that!

“Our soul is what’s at stake here–our spirit and our body. Paul understood that doctrine of the soul every bit as well as James E. Talmage did, because it is gospel truth. The purchase price for our fullness of joy–body and spirit eternally united–is the pure and innocent blood of the Savior of this world. We cannot then say in ignorance or defiance, “Well, it’s my life,” or worse yet, “It’s my body.” It is not. “Ye are not your own,” Paul said. “Ye are bought with a price.” So in answer to the question, “Why does God care so much about sexual transgression?” it is partly because of the precious gift offered by and through his Only Begotten Son to redeem the souls–bodies and spirits–we too often share and abuse in cheap and tawdry ways. Christ restored the very seeds of eternal lives (see D&C132:19, 24), and we desecrate them at our peril. The first key reason for personal purity? Our very souls are involved and at stake.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Of Souls, Symbols and Sacraments.)

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You were bought with a price!  And you knew better! Given what is at stake, wouldn’t it make sense that you would do all you could do to repair and restore your family? Wouldn’t it be a testament to your love and commitment to me and your children and grandchildren that you should demand the same changes in yourself that you so freely required of those around you? How is it that pride or stubbornness or resentment of any kind could or should come into play here?

The idea that you just made a few minor mistakes is ludicrous!  Your covenants at baptism, your lifelong membership in the church, your ordination to the priesthood and your covenants in the temple all belie the notion that you just made a series of wrong choices! How can any ordained priesthood holder expect his wife to believe that he just made a few mistakes?  If this is what you think, then you are lying to yourself and you are lying to God. The sin of adultery is second only in seriousness to murder.  Adultery is murder.  It is the murder of the soul.

No big deal, right? Forgive and forget, no harm no foul, let’s just pretend this never happened and we will just move on with our lives…one big happy family!  NOT! You got that pass the first time you did this.

And several more times for other things that I thought we unrelated…

You’re Not Easy to Live With…

In the best of circumstances you are  difficult. Controlling, critical,  and demanding, all come to mind.  I am not telling you anything you do not already know so there is no reasons to enumerate it.  Life with you is hard.  I cannot count the number of times I have had to completely change my behavior because something “bugged you.” I thought all of these demands were minor and they made you happy so I was happy to do them for you.  Isn’t that what couples do for each other, do their best to love, support and care for each others happiness? I didn’t know that, when it all was distilled down to the core issue that change was something for everyone else, not for you. The arrogance of this is stunning!  And looking back I see enough examples that it should have shot up a thousand red flags. I don’t know why I didn’t see them. Each time it happened my world was shaken to it’s core, but somehow I managed to bounce back and carry on as if it hadn’t happened.

The reality is that you are so free to critique others, but unable to take it for yourself.  This realization has caused me to think of you as arrogant, prideful, selfish and stubborn. I fear the worst that you are really a full blown narcissist.  If that is the case then this really is a psychosis and there is something more seriously wrong with you than an addiction.  If that is the case, then I really do just need to be rid of you.

I have brought these incidents up so many time that it feels futile to go over them again.  You will not listen or get it.  I am wasting my breath and I know that.  Everything I have to say has already been said, dozens of time, but here we go again:

Over the years I have seen a pattern with you that has been very disturbing and it is this – when things get really hard, you check out and leave it up to me to fix it.  When a problem is too big, your solution is to ignore it, leaving me to shoulder it alone.

My first mental health breakdown comes rushing back through the years and floods my memories with intense feelings.  The exquisite pain and loneliness I felt when I got out of the hospital.  The way you attacked me for how I handle it. How did you want me to handle it?  I had a breakdown, I wanted to kill myself. Zero compassion. Did it ever once occur to you to ask yourself why? I wanted you to go to counseling with me, but you couldn’t be bothered.  I tried to talk to you about what I was feeling and learning about myself and you would tell me you were not interested. I felt so isolated and abandoned and that was on top of all the feelings that therapy was bringing up for me.  I often liken the experience to having all my skin torn off and having to heal from that.  I was that raw, vulnerable and exposed.  This was the condition I was in while having to deal with your disdain. I also, took care of 3 small children and kept your house clean and meals prepared.  It was a miracle I got through it all, but I did! No wonder I believe in GRACE! In the end, you just ignored me and the problem, but there was one thing you couldn’t ignore. You reminded me nearly everyday how expensive the therapy was and how we couldn’t afford it.  The guilt I felt over it was nearly unbearable, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  I had had a breakdown and no amount of badgering me about it could change that or what I needed to move past it. Your monetary support is all you gave and you acted like that was enough, absolving your conscience of any other responsibilities to me.

The next one was daughter #2’s diagnosis of ADHD and then the subsequent diagnosis of profound OCD.  All of the symptoms going on with her left me feeling so helpless.  Her whole body and mind was out of control.  You were not any help.  Again.  Your solution to any big problem is avoidance.  Pretend it’s not there and it will go away.  Only I didn’t have that luxury.  Her future depended on us, but I was going to have to go it alone while you checked out.  So much for better or for worse huh? And this was really the worst of the worse.  I couldn’t even share with you how bad it really was, you just brushed it off.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that if I was going to help her that I needed to pull myself out of a depression that was coming on fast. I guess if you don’t have a husband to support you then medication and therapy work just about as well.

The biggest frustrations I had with our “arrangement” is your refusal to become educated on your daughter’s diagnosis.  “Just read the books and give me the Cliff Notes version of what they said,” you told me. This sounded good in theory, but you challenged everything I told you, so I felt as if I were defending my dissertation in psychology with every conversation! It was exhausting and wasted so much of my time and energy. You didn’t want to read it for yourself, but you wouldn’t take my word for it either!  Didn’t you know how exhausted I was from everything I was being forced to learn? Couldn’t you see that I was heartbroken over the diagnosis of what our daughter would have to face for the rest of her life? Didn’t you see how desperate I was to find a solution, use you as a sounding board, a confidant, a cheerleader? Did it ever occur to you that this parenting thing was a partnership and you shouldn’t have left the entire burden on my shoulders?  Again, you paid the bills, that was your contribution.

These were to two big ones, but there are dozens of other “little things” that added to the load of loneliness that I carried. There was the time I got a book for you for Christmas on how to improve our marriage.  I wanted to desperately to connect with you!  But the gift, and I, were both rejected. Not only rejected, but ridiculed and rebuffed.

Can we talk about the all the moves?  19 moves in 36 years.  That is insane by anyone’s count, even for the military.  Out of all of those moves, I only had your help for a handful of them, the ones we did ourselves.  The others were for job changes.  So you went off to new adventures while I stayed behind to pick up the pieces of all our devastated lives.  Kids crying, packing, arranging, medical, dental, electricity, gas, address changes, saying good-bye, and keeping everyone’s spirits up by trying desperately to find a silver lining to my darkening cloud…all by myself. With every move fibro came to visit me, and each time she stayed longer and longer until she was my constant com”pain”ion. I paid a terrible price and carried a crushing burden for the lack of connection and safety you kept from me. You had moved forward and left me to pick up all the pieces, every single time!

I feel anger towards you because…

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Now that you brought dozens of women into our lives and it has dumped all our lives upside down, you cannot be bothered to make a few changes in your own life to save our family!  (Not to mention saving yourself!) The demanding, controlling, and critical critiques of my behavior over the years is one thing, but what about when it’s your turn? Didn’t you often tell me when I would cry over something that you were criticizing me on that, “you were just trying to help me be a better person?” But when it is your turn to learn to be a better person, you will have NONE of it!?

How do I get that gig? I only have one thing to say to that… HYPOCRITE!

Years after the whole breakdown fiasco, you told me if you had it to do it over again that you would do it much differently.  I think we can put that hypothesis to bed. We both now know what you would do, because that is exactly what you did…the same damn thing! You bailed on me! This was just another lie.

Setting the House on Fire…

I told you when we were first married that I could handle anything in life with you, just please don’t cheat on me.  I had been through so much loss and pain in my life at the hands of careless men that it was the one thing I told you I could not handle. I guess you must not have believe me. Or maybe you just forgot? You know, with wrong choices and everything, it’s easy to forget about the one person who is supposed to be everything to you in your life.

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I used to find it easy to put up with so much of your mistreatment of me because you have always been intensely loyal to me. You didn’t even have friends to go out with on weekends so you could be with your family.  That always made me feel safe and secure because I knew you never wanted to be anywhere else but home with your family, with me. It gave me a false sense of security that no matter how critical of me you were, that you would never betray me.  I thought you were faithful to me. It was the one thing I could count on…no matter what.

You were always so busy with work, church and helping out around the house that I just felt like you would never cheat on me, you were just too busy.  Sometimes I felt like you were even too busy for me.

When I first found out about Hannah, I was devastated…to…my…core.  It would have felt better if you had just cut my heart out and ate it in front of me.  At least then I would have died instead of being among the walking dead. You rocked my world. You were the Bishop at the time.  How could you let so many people down?  You brushed away the enormity of this sin by saying, “you knew the Lord was making up the difference and wouldn’t let you lead others astray.”  Really?  You seriously believe that is how it works?  What about Alma the Younger or Corianton?  You seemed as oblivious then of the repercussions of your “mistakes” as you are now.  An entire ward was affected by what you did even if they didn’t know what had happened.  Not to mention your family.  And yet nothing was done to you.  A slap on the wrist and you were good to go.

At the time, I thought I would never recover. You made all sorts of promises to me then too, just like you did now.  You would do whatever it took.  But those promises were short lived.  It wasn’t long before the excuses came.  Therapy costs too much money,  you didn’t like how the medication made you feel, you don’t have an addiction.  You can control it yourself.  It will never happen again.  I need to just get over it and put it in the past.

Back then, nobody knew what betrayal trauma was.  It wasn’t a thing then.  But I felt the full force of it and was left on my own to deal with it in silence.  To cry about it when nobody could see me, to keep it to myself.  I felt so much shame I couldn’t talk about how I felt with anyone.  I was terrified other people would find out what you did and think less of you.

So I stuffed down the demons of my life that haunted me and shoved them in a deep dark dungeon and threw away the key.  Over time, things between us got better. Although, the thought of you touching me sometimes made my skin crawl.  When I had sex with you I would wonder who you were thinking about? Hannah was a faceless person.  I didn’t know if she was beautiful, only that she was the same age as our oldest daughter, a revelation that made me want to throw up when I thought about it.  All this stuffing of feelings just caused me to be distrusting of you and wondering when it would all come back.  I knew it would all come back…eventually.  I had read enough to know that much.

I feel anger towards you because… 

You gave me a false sense of security.  Now that this has happened again I have reviewed our life together over and over searching for any evidence that I did not see.  Why did you do this now?  What caused you to snap like this? Did I do something wrong?  No matter how many times I go over it, I cannot point to any evidence that would cause me to doubt you, until about 12 years ago.  It was right around that time that I started to see you change. Something happened.  Was this the first time you cheated on me? But I digress.

I am angry that your actions have caused me to question my entire life, thus my whole existence!  Is my whole life a lie?  Who would do that to another person, let alone their spouse? This is just diabolical at its core. How cruel can you be?

Livid. That is the only word that comes close to describing how I felt when I learned that our son caught you masterbating in the basement with her.  Our stalwart son.  Later, he confided in me that he was having dreams about you on his mission that he needed to come home from his mission to save you.  Well, he did end up coming home early and he did save you, from yourself.  When I told you about this later your response was, “well I certainly hope that isn’t the reason he came home.”  What an emotionally bankrupt thing to say?  You didn’t even recognize his sacrifice or to even thank him for it.  You were the cause of him not finishing his mission, something he had been preparing for diligently his entire life!  You took that away from him and didn’t even have the courage to thank him for it!  All of our children have sacrificed so much in their lives for you, but our son gave you that which was most important to him. You have so much to atone and account for.

Why would you not want to heal this rift between us?  Why did you want to wiggle out of repairing the damage?  How can you live with doing this to me? Somewhere inside I knew…things would never be ok again. You just don’t have want it takes.  I know this because you just don’t stand on principle, any principles. You run away. You are just not made of the stuff of heroes and this would take the courage of a hero to restore.  Only namby-pamby, milquetoast, yellow-bellied, mousy cowards choose to…

Burn it to the Ground…

Time heals all wounds, or so I am told.  And after 5 years I guess it had been just long enough for me to start letting my guard down.  We were moving into a new phase of our lives…empty nesters.  And I was just beginning to believe that this awful mess was  really behind us.  We got a Harley and we loved riding together.  It felt like our younger years, when we would sit and talk for hours.  I started to feel so close to you, closer than I had felt in years!  It felt good and it gave me hope for the future. Sitting behind you on the bike, with my arms wrapped around you for hours, talking through our headsets, it was a bit of heaven.  Until…

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The ultimate betrayal.  The very thing that I though was bringing us together was actually driving us apart.  Devastation on top of devastation.  Was I wrong to suggest that we buy the bike?  Was that inspiration I got about that wrong?  If I hadn’t encouraged you to get the bike would this have happened again?

It was all a lie.  You had been cheating on me for an entire year!  How did I not know?

I will never forget that night.  I was following the news about the Ferguson fires.  You were sitting in your easy chair with your feet  propped up on the ottoman and your computer was in your lap.  I was across the room on the love seat.  I had my iPhone and was listening to the news and following the twitter feed, when I got a text message from an unknown number.  What popped up when I opened it was a picture of your penis.  What followed was a rapid succession of text messages. “Your husband loves me, not you.” “You are living a lie.” “He is planning to leave you for me.”  With each text came the proof in pictures of the text messages you had with her confirming everything she said.  When they finally stopped I felt hot tears welling up behind my eyes.  The pressure was so intense I thought my eyeballs would pop out of their sockets.  I couldn’t see.  I couldn’t think. “What do I do?”  “What should I say?” “How do I respond?” My head was reeling.  I felt nauseous.  I wanted to scream and die at the same time.  “Oh God, please don’t let this be happening to me again!” I struggled to stand up, I was sure I would faint.

I know I crossed the room over to you at this point, with my phone in my hand. The picture of your penis clearly visible. “What is this?” I demanded!

What followed was a litany of excuses.  I stood there with the proof clearly in my hand!  How could you not see you were in over your head and your only choice was to come clean? With every question the lies multiplied until I felt that I was suffocating in a sea of deception.  I had to pull the plug on this, stop the lies or I was going to drown. In my head I was screaming, “please just stop, shut up, no more lies!”  So I just started hitting you.  I just wanted you to tell the truth to me or just shut up!  EVERY WORD YOU SPOKE WAS A LIE!

I was consumed by the feeling that my life was in danger!  You had to go or I did, one or the other. You couldn’t possibly love me if you did this to me.  My reality settled on the notion that you were a stranger to me and that I didn’t really know you at all.  So at that moment you became dangerous to me.  My only goal at that moment was to get you as far away from me as possible. I learned later that I was experiencing a flood of cortisol and adrenaline to my system that caused a feeling of intense fear, anxiety and panic.  You could have been a lion trying to eat me for all I knew.

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I was only beginning to understand just how dangerous you really had become to me. You lied so much to me that first night that I  threw you and all your things out of our bedroom and locked the door.  Then I stayed up all night searching for the truth.  Any truth I could find.  I started with the phone records.  When it was all said and done, 15 phone numbers I didn’t recognize with hundreds of text messages to them each month, going back for an entire year. Between 6,000 and 8,000 text messages a month for your number alone.  That is a lot of connecting to women in cheap and tawdry ways Scott. It was 4 am when I finally succumbed to sleep.  I woke up 3 hours later to the noise of the shower from the other bathroom.  I just stayed in my room until you left.

After talking to family members I knew I had to get out of our apartment and go somewhere I felt safe.  I called the Bishop and he didn’t talk me out of it, in fact he encouraged it if I felt unsafe.  So I went to daughter #1’s house house.  Thanksgiving was just in a few days so there was a lot to do to stay occupied during the day.

Nights were another thing. Over the next few weeks I alternating  between feeling totally raw to completely numb.  Numb was better, so I tried to go and stay there as much as possible, but it felt like I was having an out of body experience.  I could see myself going through the motions but I couldn’t feel anything.  When I cried it was more like a primal scream so I had to go someplace else to cry so my kids didn’t hear me.  I woke up all during the night, nearly every hour, always with tears running down my cheeks.

Those next few weeks were filled with more lies and half truths than I could ever remember.  Each lie sent me seeking for the truth.  I had to know.  I did things I have never done before. Texting complete strangers, or calling them.  Searching bank records, credit card bills.  Having my son-in-law track down some of these women online.  I became a first class detective.  I had to.  It was for my own sanity and defense.  If I was going to catch you in your lies I had to have the truth.  What comes out eventually is gut wrenching.  You had been paying the “discloser” money to keep her mouth shut, to the tune of $6,000 over a year’s time. You had met a woman in person in Las Vegas while you were on a job interview, but you didn’t sleep with her, so that’s ok, right? You managed to find a way to blamed me for that one because I didn’t want to go on that trip with you!  Silly me! I didn’t know you needed a freaking babysitter to make sure you didn’t lose all control and hook up with random women! Sorry Dear, this was premeditated.  She drove to meet you there from Phoenix, that takes some planning.

What became clear is that I couldn’t go back to you.  So I had to do the unimaginable, separate from you. You were just too toxic because you couldn’t see what you had done to me.  Every lie you  told me made it less and less safe to stay.  It took only a week for me to realize I would not be able to come back to you anytime soon. So daughter #2 and I made plans to find an apartment.  It was a blessing that everything fell right into place so easily that I knew that Heavenly Father was right there with me, working out every detail.  I couldn’t have done it without him.  So much of it is a blur.

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37 years of marriage down the toilet.  There was a part of me that knew this would be the end.   I wanted desperately for you to come and take me in your arms, tell me you had lied, and tell me everything.  I prayed every night that you would find the humility to want to make this right between us. Every passing day crushed that dream. You would never choose me.  And  you didn’t.

And all this was BEFORE you were excommunicated!  After that, it was no holds barred!  Instead of turning to restore your family, instead of choosing to repent and come back to God and your family, you chose to run headlong over the cliff of infidelity.  Self destruction was your remedy as you selfishly threw all your principles, obligations, morals, covenants, and responsibilities over the cliff and then you willfully and blindly following them right over the edge careening to your certain destruction.

In that first family meeting we had with our Bishop, he said you had set fire to the house that was our family. He told you it was up to you to put out the fire and start to rebuild it.  The responsibility for this was put squarely on you. What I didn’t know at the time is that you had already slept with other women. You were making your choices and it wasn’t choosing me or your family.  You weren’t even choosing your own integrity!

I waited for you to find yourself.  For 18 months I waited, and worried and prayed and fretted. It was all for nothing. You had no intention of doing what was needed to get me back.  You refused to fight for me!  I wanted you to fight for me!

I feel anger towards you because…

Little did I know at the time that your intention was to throw gasoline on the flames and burn it in totality, down to the ground!

Over the next 18 months you would put me through the most unimaginable torture.  A torture so horrendous and so completely diabolical that it could only be contrived by the most evil of intentions.  After all, you don’t have an addiction, so this must have been done with 100% clarity.

It is hard to recall any of it without doubling over in stomach convulsions.  However, a definite pattern emerged that became very predictable.  It went like this;

  • You would promise to do everything you could to get our family back.
  • Profess your love for me.
  • I would believe this and try to come up with ways to repair our relationship.
  • You would withdraw from me.
  • Then you would seek “connections” with other women.
  • That resulted in shame so you would ignore me.
  • I would get angry at being ignored.
  • You would eventually come back and apologize.
  • Rinse. Repeat.

This went on for months.  The only part that was missing for me is that I didn’t know you were still seeing other women.  I suspected it.  I asked you about it.  Each question was met with denial and contempt for me daring to even ask you such a thing. How dare I! In my gut I knew. In my heart I knew. Trips to the temple and confirmation of the Spirit revealed it to me. But you would just deny, deny, deny, deny.  Lie, lie, lie, lie. And you would make me out to be the beast for not trusting you or believing you, without you ever doing anything to earn that trust or belief.  You acted as if you still in possession of deposits in the trust account, when actually, it had been overdrawn for years. You  could have made additional deposits immediately with the truth, but you declined.

Each encounter with you would leave me flooded with chemicals in my body that caused me to  experience intense feeling of fight, flee or freeze.  I felt like a puppet who was being controlled by your every whim. Unable to cut the strings of control you had over me or use my will to react to you in healthy ways, I saw you as the enemy. I was forced to protect what little there was left of me with everything I had.  This was exhausting! I was a drained emotional and physical wreck nearly every single day.  Each time you called or texted me I was, all at once, craving attention from you and terrified of how that attention would come. I felt like a rag doll that you used for your own twisted purposed and once you got what you wanted I was tossed aside and forgotten until you needed another fix from me that would help you justify your behavior. You did this to me over and over and over for 1 and 1/2 years!  I was flooded with chemicals to my body and brain that left me with life long issues that I may never recover from.  Blowing out my adreanal gland, causing my heart to race and skip beats, sinking into a deep depression, being suicidal, developing PTSD; the effect on my body was merciless! It would have been better if you had just killed me outright!

I am full of outrage and contempt toward you, not because of what you did to me to begin with, although that cannot be completely overlooked because it is a symptom of something in you that is deeply disturbing, but the real underlying fury that boils just beneath the surface is because of the way you treated me after the fact! Nothing you have done in the last 18 months has shown me that you are serious or committed to me or our marriage.  Nothing! Zip! Zilch! Nada! It was all words and no actions. You even fought against me with everything you had over seeking the help we needed to start on the road to recovery.  Resistant is too mild a word. You picked fights with me after our group sessions.  You ignored me after our marriage counseling and even went home afterwards to hang out with other women in chatrooms!  You were not serious about me!  You used me.  You humiliated me.

I took you at your word!  I believed you when you said you wanted me back, when you said you wanted our family back! So my actions were based on that assumption. What I didn’t know is that your’s weren’t! This is the recipe for crazy making at it’s finest, also known as gaslighting.  You were trying to change my reality! While you were set up a perfect plan to drive me out of my mind, I was blasted at every turn for “beating you up” for not doing enough!  The reality is that you were not doing enough, because you had not even started doing anything.  You hadn’t really chosen me. You wern’t just sitting on the fence, you were playing both sides of it.  You were having your cake and eating it too, why not?  I didn’t know what you were really doing behind my back.  You could tell me anything you wanted and I was just expected to believe you.

I later learned the extent of the jolly old time you were having in San Diego the whole time you lived there!! You were drowning your sorrows with anything that walked by in a skirt.  Your favorite pastime was to tell them what a shrew your wife was and that you were getting a divorce! As if that made adultery any less abhorrent.  Whatever lie you can tell yourself to assuage your guilt, right? No harm, no foul, right?  The problem is that while you were doing all this acting out in total secrecy, you were telling me that you would do anything to get me back!  Did you really think you could get away with that? Please explain to me the logic behind this kind of thinking, because it totally escapes me!  Would you seriously buy this fabricated flimsy story if someone tried to sell it to you? I honestly believe that you wouldn’t know that truth if walked up to you, introduced itself and punched you in the face! The truth was that you were seeing and chating and sleeping with other women and lying about it.

It turns out that you NEVER stop cheating on me with other women!  Not once in the entire 18 months!  You never gave me a chance to show you what I was made of.  You never allowed me back in your life long enough to prove I could stand by you.  You never once gave us a real, fighting chance! You never allowed me to forgive you because you refused to show any signs of repentance.

Am I angry at this? Yes!  And I have every right to be angry!  You cheated on me, lied about it over and over, lied to me about your  subsequent intentions, set out to drive me crazy over it because you couldn’t make up your mind about what you wanted, you kept me strung along on your vapid promises for over 18 months.

You threw our lives away! You threw our family away!  You threw me away! You took 37 years of all we had built with hard work, blood, sweat and tears and burned it all to the ground! Who do you think you are?

All that is Left is Ashes…

Destroyed means to put an end to the existence of something by damaging it or attacking it. Kill by inhumane means. To ruin someone emotionally or spiritually. Demolish. Knock down. Level. Raze. Wreck. Ruin. Shatter. Blast. Blow up.  No matter how it is defined the end results are horrific!

You nearly D..E..S..T..R..O..Y..E..D ME!  That is not hyperbole, exaggeration, magnification, overkill, excess or embellishment.  That is a fact.  Indisputable. Backed up by a team of professionals that take care of me, not to mention, dozens of friends who are all mystified that you would do such a thing to me.  All that is left of me is in the ashes that used to be our life together.

I still wake up sometimes, crying in my sleep, I didn’t know such a thing was possible.  I still can’t sleep like I should.  I still wake up in the morning and my first thought is what you did to me and it is the last thing that I think about before I go to bed.  You haunt me in my nightmares. But the dreams are the most devastating because you come to me and do everything I imagined you would to heal us in my dreams, maybe that is why I cry in my sleep.

I gave you everything I have, there is nothing left to give.  I tried my hardest to save you, to save us, but I cannot save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. It is like a drowning man who won’t relax in the water and it bent on taking his rescuer under with him.  You are taking me down with you so I had to make the devastating choice to cut you loose so I can save myself.  The realization of this decision is horrifying! I never in my wildest imaginings would have come to this conclusion for us. If I don’t let go of you then I will drown as well.  You must save yourself, if there is to be any saving.

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Someday, in the not too distant future, you will come back to yourself and realize just exactly what you have done.  But by then, it will be too late.  You wasted 18 months believing you never had a chance, that you never deserved a chance, that nobody could ever want you again, that I could never want you again.  But you are completely wrong in your assumptions.

You could have had it all back, restored to it’s fulness and then some, because God is truly merciful and kind and gracious to all of his children who have the courage to change and repent.  It didn’t have to end this way.  Once you realize that, I won’t need to be angry with you anymore, you will be angry enough for all of us.

That will be the final irony.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

abuse, addiction, betrayal, My Story, Spiritual, Spiritual

Fool Me Once…

For anyone who has ever been betrayed by a porn/sex addict, it should come as no surprise to learn that this isn’t my first foray into the mind-bending denial of an addict. Once this becomes a part of your life it comes back again and again unless the addict gets serious about making lifelong changes.  The first time (that I am aware of) was 10 years ago, while my Cheater was the Bishop of our LDS Ward. It was just as terrible then as it is now. Believe me. I didn’t think I could handle it then anymore than I feel I can do it now.  It’s a lot like welcoming a death eater to live in your house. All the happiness gets sucked out. Nobody in their right mind would welcome a death eater into their home, even for a few minutes. It sucks all the happiness out. Literally.

It was remarkably different this time. Because I was different. I guess when you have a close encounter with a death eater it changes you. Forever.

Even back then, he did everything he could to wiggle out of committing to any real recovery. He complained about being on medication for anxiety, and OCPD. He fussed endlessly about the cost of therapy. He said he didn’t have an addiction. He didn’t get anything out of 12-steps and it was boring. He convinced me it would never happen again. His explainations (excuses) were relentless. He wore me down. He also convinced the Stake Priesthood leaders that he “just made a mistake.” So his church discipline amounted to a slap on the wrist. I argued with them to the point that I could tell I was about to cross that line.  I might be the one disciplined if I didn’t just be quiet and take their decision to do nothing about my husband’s “mistake” without another complaint. they even threatened to take away my temple recommend if I didn’t comply.  I was told this was for the best and would save our family from embarrassment. I strongly disagreed. Years later, when this happened again, I learned a disciplinary counsel should have been called automatically because he was the Bishop. I was livid.

I still hold these men somewhat accountable for what happened to our family after that. Had they held my husband accountable back then, we might have been spared what we are going through now. Most notability, his insistence that he doesn’t have an addiction.

Had he been properly disciplined and held accountable back then, when I saw true remorse in him, he might have stayed in recovery. As it was, he had zero incentive to continue to recover after the crisis of the initial shame and guilt had past. He was left to his own devices. And we were left to the mercy of his “word” that this would never happen again.

Deep down I knew differently.

So I did what I always do when faced with a problem I know nothing about. I did research. Lots of it, until I became a subject matter expert on sex and porn addiction. I had to know what I was dealing with. Knowledge is power. I knew that if this awfulness ever came back into our home I would need to know what to do to protect myself and our family. So I studied and I worked on my own recovery and let him figure out his (which amounted to nothing of real significance.) After a few months everything seemed to go back to normal. Overtime, he even convinced me that I had “overreacted.”  He said it was an isolated incident and it would never happen again.

I believed him. Because I wanted to believe him.

Even though all the studies, research, and books I read, screamed at me to be careful, it takes hard work and 100% commitment  to overcome an addiction. I threw caution to the wind! After all, he is a good man. Right? He is entitled to make a mistake and repent from it, right? The problem is that I believed we were the exception because he convinced me that all those stats didn’t apply to us. That kind of thinking is never good.

Looking back, I willfully and stupidly ignored all the red flags; His insistence that he didn’t have an addiction, his refusal to stay in counseling, and choosing to not stay on medication were the biggest red flags. I should have set the boundaries that he continue in recovery if he wanted to continue living in the same space with me. But I didn’t. He was stubborn and insistent he could handle this in his own way. So I let him. That was what I was learning about not being an enabler – let him figure it out for himself. He had to choose recovery and do it on his own terms. To make matters worse, was that I was dealing with my own trauma and I didn’t know it. Back then women were enablers not victims themselves. I didn’t know I had the right to feel safe and secure in what he was doing to show me he could be trusted again. You don’t know what you don’t know.

While I could think of little else, He did very little to rebuild trust. He dealt with it by ignoring it. He chose the white-knuckle method of recovery, which is to just decide to never do it again. It would go away. End of story. So I went along with it, knowing that when I least expected it, it would all come crashing down around me again.

Boy did it!

Five years later, my life would change forever. Not in a good way. I guess Mr. Whiteknuckles got tired of holding on. Just when I had just started to believe he was right. Just when I started to believe he had it all under control. At the exact moment I was letting out a sigh of relief, I took a sucker punch to the gut. It knocked all the wind out of me!

In that moment, while I struggled just to keep living, I knew I could never do this again. Ever. Something had to change. The first time, we did it his way. This time I was in a much better position to know what I needed from him to restore and repair our relationship and how to articulate those needs to him. Or so I thought.

Have you ever seen a two year old throw a fit because they don’t get their way? If you give into the child’s demands in that moment then you lose all credibility as a parent for future battles. They learn quickly that if they scream at you loudly enough, embarrass you with tantrums in public, and tell the whole world they hate you that they can shame you into giving into their irrational demands. We’ve all seen it right? My girls were queens of the temper tantrums. But no matter how much they yelled, it was my job to teach them that they cannot behave that way. Right?

You can’t reason with a two-year old. They need boundaries. Guidance.

I believe this is kind of what happened with my husband. He got away with doing things his way the first time, back up by unwitting church leaders. So much so, that the second time he upped the tantrum level to unbearable to get me to give in to him again. I really believe that the tantrums addicts can throw are similar in scope and nature to a two year old. It is quite daunting to see a grown man be so irrational!

What he doesn’t get, and probably never will, is that if he wants me back there must be changes, seen and unseen. I could give him a pass. Once. I can’t do it again. Not because I won’t. I can’t. I can’t go through this again. Ever.

The difference was that this time, I KNEW what had to be done. It couldn’t be ignored again. Not this time! I KNEW I deserved to be treated with respect. This time I KNEW he needed to WORK to rebuild trust. Provide safety. Work to reconnect with me. This time I deserved more than just taking his word for it. I had done my recovery work the first time. This time I KNEW he was an addict and I cannot be talked out if that fact. The evidence was overwhelming and undeniable. I know better this time. Remember what I said about “knowledge is power?”

Getting into recovery for your own trauma gives you the power and knowledge to know what you should and should not have endure. You learn how to protect youself from furture attacks and what to do when they happen. Knowing what to do gives you a level of protection you cannot have if you choose to remain willfully ignorant.

Because I know how an addict behaves; what they do, say and think, it helps me see through the lies and deception to discern what is really happening.

We all know that kids try to get away with lying about something they did that was wrong. And because we were kids ourselves and tried to get away with the same thing, we see through it. We understand, by our own experience, what a lie looks like and how to recognize it. It’s the same thing with an addict. If you refuse to get yourself educated about what addiction looks like and how to overcome it, well, you don’t know what you don’t know. That is a level of ignorance that only hurts you.

For example: my husband’s tantrum is that he is NOT an addict. Quite frankly, I don’t care what you call it. The label makes zero difference. It’s the behavior that is disturbing. His behavior is classic addict behavior. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say for the sake of argument that he is not an addict. His continuing betrayals, caused me to be traumatized by his behavior. Betrayal truama is caused by BETRAYAL. It matters very little how the poison of betrayal was delivered. What matters is how to repair it. And the reparations for one affair or 50 are exactly the same! The same recovery for a marriage damaged by betrayal is the same as the recovery for a marriage damaged by sex addiction. Restoring safety, connection and trust are exactly the SAME!

So when he is stubbornly insisting that he doesn’t have an addiction and thinks he doesn’t have to do recovery to fix our relationship, I have the understanding and wisdom to know better. He just wants me to give him another pass.

This time I can’t.

IMHO women who keep giving into the temper tantrums of the addict are making it harder and harder for him to take her seriously! So set your boundaries ladies! You deserve better! You deserve to have a husband who believes you are worth it to give you his best self and his best efforts!

Don’t settle. Remember –

fool me once shame in you, fool me twice, shame on me.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

abuse, addiction, betrayal, boundaries, Emotional, My Story, Narcissist

Abuse, Dressed in a Suit

I used to think that because my husband was in leadership callings in the church that he should have, would have learned how he was supposed to treat his wife.  He should have known better by osmosis, I guess. I believed because he kept all outward appearances of a good, active member of the church that eventually his inward feelings and behaviors would change to match.  Because he lived in this space where his thoughts and actions were disconnected most of the time, I believe this set him up to become more abusive over time. Let me explain:

I don’t feel that my husband was particularly abusive to me during our 38-yer marriage. He was somewhat critical, kind of sarcastic, a little controlling, sort of demeaning, and maybe he tended to be distant and disconnected at times.  I mean, really, how connected can you be when you travel 50 to 75% of the time?  I think our marriage worked well because he was gone so much.  We really only saw each other on the weekends, and Sunday he was gone most of the day taking care of church responsibilities. With the limited time I had to spend with him, I didn’t see these darker sides of him all that often. Until…

About 15 years ago he started going through a series of job losses.  One right after the other.  Every two years he was either losing a job or just looking for another one.  Just because.  He was restless. Bored. Or so it seemed.  The worst sides of him also came out, or I saw them more often, because he was home more often.  Sometimes for months at a time.  Sometimes for a year or more.  He was with me 24/7. That is when the trouble really started. He couldn’t control his world, so he decided to control mine. Before, what seemed to be a character that was just a little off, became full-blown awful.  I wanted to run and hide from him, most of the time.  Somewhat critical, became critical to the point of meanness.  All his other character flaws intensified as well.  It got to the point that I couldn’t stand to be around him.  So I withdrew. Would you want to be around someone who criticized and nit-picked your every move? No. Me either.

Man-trying-to-explain-to-angry-wife-Credit-Wavebreak-Media-630x419

I am not sure when the cheating began.  I am not exactly sure why it started, or who caused it. All I know is the dynamic between us became the perfect storm. Was he more critical, controlling and sarcastic to me because he was already cheating, or because he was without a job?  I won’t ever know.  He has been less than forthcoming about what he has been doing with other women, and when it started.  So I won’t ever know for sure. But, now, after years of therapy, counseling, and reading about addiction, I can make an educated guess. Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say. He certainly had enough opportunity to cheat.  And chronic job losses is a symptom of addiction.  Before this turning point in our lives he was very stable. He stayed with the same company for over 20 years.

Why am I telling you this?  The reason is simple.  Nobody, and I mean nobody should ever have to put up with being put down…ever.  Husbands are not allowed to talk down to their wives, make fun of them, be critical or otherwise subtly abuse them. Even if they are a fine, upstanding member of the church who has important callings and wears a suit to work.  Abuse doesn’t just happen in low-income families or among blue-collar workers. He may never have to hit you to do you harm.

The sinister side of emotional abuse is that it is rarely seen as abuse.  In order to discount this sort of behavior, it is very easy for a spouse to say to you:

“I was just teasing/joking.”

“Can’t you take a joke?”

“You are too sensitive.”

“I can’t say anything to you!”

“This is just the way I am.”

“Why do you take everything so personally? I didn’t mean it that way!”

As I’ve observed sarcasm in social interactions, I’ve noted that those who use it tend to underestimate its negative effects because they assume that what they say is humorous instead of hurtful. People who use sarcasm often think their targets are too sensitive or naïve when feelings get hurt.7 “She just can’t take a joke,” they say. In more disturbing cases, sarcasm communicates contempt for others and gives people the “dishonest opportunity to wound without looking like they’re wounding.” If someone feels hurt by such sarcasm, the one who made the verbal jab will often respond with something like, “I was only teasing! Lighten up.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Seems benign, right? Not if it is long-term, chronic, on going. Emotional abusers get away with the abuse by manipulating the person they are abusing into believing that they are the problem.  It’s your fault, not his.  He will insist that you believe it is ok to be treated disrespectfully, and that you are the problem to boot!  Not cool!

The Greek root for sarcasm is sarkazein and means “to tear flesh like dogs.”1 One dictionary defines sarcasm as irony designed to “give pain.”2Sarcasm has many uses in our communication: it can convey aggression and insult,3 it can be used to dominate others,4 and it can communicate contempt and anger.5 Not all sarcasm is intentionally sinister, but it has a hypocritical edge because it requires us to say the opposite of what we mean. Some use it for humor, but it often damages our relationships because it leaves our friends and family doubting our sincerity and confused by what we say.  ~Gordon B. Hinckley

I allowed my husband to treat me this way. I admit it. Mostly, because I couldn’t how to articulate how his constant talking down to me caused me to feel in any meaningful way, at least not in any way to that would get him to stop.  Because I didn’t set good boundaries about how I expected to be treated at the beginning of our marriage, I sent unspoken messages to him that it was ok for him to talk down to me.  Familiarity breeds contempt.  So when life got tough, and his behavior got more critical, I had nothing in place to protect me from the effects of addiction on his previous flaws. I learned that when there is a disconnect in the integration between words and actions, there is going to be problems when life brings deep challenges. Does this make any sense?

“I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Standing up for yourself, setting boundaries, and expecting respect, are all healthy for a great marriage!  NO ONE, deserves anything less that the best from their spouse. Don’t accept anything but the best from your spouse.  Anything less, is abuse.  Being married does not give a spouse the license to treat the other one badly!

Everyone has bad days.  We all make mistakes.  There are times we say mean things.  This should be the EXCEPTION not the RULE.  If it is the rule in your marriage, you are probably  experiencing abuse. If your husband is treating you in a disrespectful way, over a long period of time, then it is up to you to set some boundaries and raise expectations for how you expect to be treated.  Don’t allow anything less, even if he is active in church, holds leadership callings, has family prayers and scripture study, or keeps up appearances.  Abuse is abuse. Even if it is dressed in a suit.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!