Becoming, Coping, healing, My Story, Trauma Recovery

What I Have Learned…So Far

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

addiction, betrayal, boundaries, Choices, forgiveness, healing, infidelity, My Story

You Have Always Had the Power to Come Home!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But…

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

So sad.

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

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

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

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!