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

One Year Ago…

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

“Danger! Danger!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cupcake Warrior

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Stay Sweet, Be Strong

abuse, addiction, betrayal, Choices, infidelity, Narcissist, The Other Woman

What is Cheating?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

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The Cupcake Warrior

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abuse, addiction, Blame, Choices, denial, infidelity, lying, Narcissist, repentance, Spiritual

“Thou Art the Man”

Most men, my Cheater included, would think what has been done to me and our children is the worst kind of injustice and abuse. An atrocity.  Many men would want to “take my Cheater to the woodshed” to teach him a lesson, my own brother is numbered among these men.  He often wanted to “teach my Cheater a lesson he would never forget.”  Later on, I learned my brother is also an addict with a similar problem of his own.  The funny thing is my Cheater and my brother loath each other for the same sins they clearly see in each other, but not in themselves.  They are just alike, but they refuse to see it. Each pointing a finger at the other one, trying to convince me that “his problem is worse.”

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I know my Cheater has made the same observations in others because, while he was serving as a Bishop, he came across many situations like ours.  He would shake his head in disbelief and wonder what could make a man stoop so low.  He could not understand how a man could betray his wife and children, and break his covenants like that, and worse, why he would refuse to repair the damage and restore his family after the devasation he caused. He would say that, “being a man required him to at least repair what he had broken.”

Over the years we had various, gut wrenching, discussions over how this friends or that family member could leave the church, destroy their family, and turn their backs on everything they knew to be true. We hugged each other and thanked the Lord that we had one of those kinds of marriages that would not become a sad statistic.  Until, one of us let his guard down…

Now he knows, with-not-so-perfect clarity, or so it seems,  just how easily it could happen to him, because he was not diligent and careful in keeping his covenants.  He knows exactly how his pride could make him forsake everything he ever held dear and walk away from his wife, children, and grandchildren, without even so much as a backwards glance, into the arms of another woman. All the while, blaming me for the choices that led him there.

Even over the course of the final year of trying to save our marriage, I would be shocked and dismayed at my Cheater’s hypocrisy.  How he said he would do “anything” to save our family.  “Anything” did not include, to stop cheating! It is so easy to see the hypocrisy in another, and so very difficult to see it in yourself.  King David had this eye-opening experience about his own hypocricy, when the Prophet Nathan paid him a, much needed, visit:

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“And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.

The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:

But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:

And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”

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It is so easy to see your own sins in another and to be outraged by it!  So much more difficult to recognize the same thing in yourself.  I often wonder if my Cheater ever sees his own hypocrisy?  Does he ever notice that the thing he pitied and condemned in others, is now his own chosen road? Where is his Nathan to set him straight? Who is there to tell him, “Thou art the man!” Does he even realize that he has become “that man?” If so, will he ever do anything to fix it? He is the only one who could answer that, and unforetunetly, he isn’t doing anything so far.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

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The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, Becoming, betrayal, Coping, Emotional, healing, Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Trauma Recovery

Everything Does NOT Happen for a Reason, So Stop Saying That!

“Well, everything happens for a reason.” My friend says with a sigh.

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I know she means well. The comment is meant to bring me comfort, and help her feel that she is connecting with my pain, on some level. It is the sort of thing people say when they don’t know what to say. But this is an assumption that doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t make someone experiencing the grief of a tragedy feel any better.

I recently read an article that more closely resembled my feelings that ‘not everything happens for a reason’ and some things are just senseless. I was able to codify my feelings in my therapist’s office last week so I will share them with you now. I told her how this comment really upsets me when anyone says it, to anyone. Her response both surprised me and helped me to connect with her. She gets me.

“I know! People used to say that to me too and it made me so mad! This did not happen for a reason!”

Yes! Bingo!

Someone cheating on you over and over doesn’t happen by some grand design meant to make you a “stronger person.” Like my therapist said, “I was a good person already, I would have ‘gotten there’ on my own! I didn’t need this to make me a better person!”

Yeah. Me too.

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Self improvement is my middle name. I am the sort of person who sets goals, and achieves them. I read self-help books. All the time. I want to be better, to do better, at my core. I believe in becoming. It’s in my DNA. It is who I am. I didn’t need some bonehead dumping my world upside down to accomplish what I was already in the process of doing. In many ways, he derailed me, and set me back…years. What I needed was a committed companion to take my hand and help me on my journey. I needed love and support. I needed to be nourished, not hit upside the head with a two by four. I needed to feel connected to my core foundation, my primary relationship attachment.  My husband. Not to suffer atrocities of his own making.

There is no doubt that I will learn some lessons along the way.  There are lessons to be learned in every experience. I do not want to discount this. But betrayal? Infidelity? PTSD? Shock? Grief? Are these the lessons I really needed to learn to grow as a person? Did I need this? Really? Was this somehow a part of God grand design for me? No. Absolutely not! I do not believe this for a minute. It is milarky.

Let’s talk about the suffering of the innocent. Shall we?

Every person on this earth will suffer needlessly at the hand of some careless idiot. Or worse. Someone who is evil at their core. We see it happen everyday. Mass shootings, betrayal, assault, abuse and exploitation, to name a few. All of these things are hideous and senseless. They should not happen. Ever!

But they do. The Lord knew this and he provided for it. Bad things happen because Heavenly Father values agency above nearly everything else. The freedom to choose is paramount to our salvation. We have to be FREE to CHOOSE HIM…or no. Because of this, some people’s choices hurt other people. Profoundly. But I do not believe these lapses in judgment are somehow part of God’s grand design. No. If it were so, I would be experiencing a crisis of faith, because that would mean that God is not loving, but punitive. He would be rightly accused of picking winners and losers among His children. Playing favorites. That is not the kind of God I could trust with my pain.

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But I have it on good authority that God is as upset as I am over the abuses I have suffered at the hands of my ex-husband. Alma teaches this principle very plainly in the Book of Mormon.

Alma and Amulek were missionaries who experienced great success. So much so, that the government rulers were angry at the faithfulness of the people Alma and Amulek converted. The rulers decided that if these new converts did not denounce their new-found religion they would kill all their wives and children, and throw scriptures in a fire with them for good measure. And to make it all the more evil, they would make these faithful men watch it all! How horrific. I can think of very few things that are worse than this. The Lord is very clear in showing this example how he feels. Causing others to suffer because of their wickedness is not acceptable to Him! It isn’t part of HIS plan! It is outrageous!

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Evidently, that is how Amulek reacted as well, and he wants Alma to stop this atrocity. He knew that the power of God could stop it! But Alma is restrained from stopping it by the Spirit, and he explains why:

“The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.” Alma 14:11

In other words, the Lord allow bad things to happen to good people so that He can justify punishing the bad people. It was explained to me this way –  If someone wants to kill their brother but never does it, they could say to God at the judgment day, “Well, I never actually did it. No crime was committed.” Even if God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, he has no proof of the desires of the wicked brother because he was never allowed to act on the intent of his heart. But, if on the other hand, the evil brother acts out his wicked desires, boom! He is so guilty! God is justified and his punishement is just.

So the awful things humans do to each other are not part of God’s grand design. They are the consequences of the agency of another person. AND it allows God to justly punish the wicked.

God did not do this to me to teach me some cosmic lesson. He allowed my ex-husband to do this to me so that He would be justified in punishing him, should my ex never repent. My ex HAS acted out the evil in his heart. Now his job is to turn away from what he did and REPAIR the damage – four fold. (See D&C 98:44-45) If he doesn’t, the consequences for him will not be pretty. Justice will be served up.  Eventually.

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As for me, Heavenly Father has my back. He is giving me all the help and comfort I need right now to get past this, not so I can learn some unfair lesson, but so I can heal from experiencing something I never deserved. Yes, I will end up being a better person for it, maybe, because that is how I roll. But too many people who go through things equally frightful, or worse, and they won’t  be better for it, because it destroys them. Utterly and completely destroyed. Being destroyed doesn’t make you a better person. Suffering at the hands of someone you loved so deeply isn’t a life lesson that improves you. It changes you. Forever.  And not always for the better.  Betrayal isn’t a classroom the Lord uses to school his children. So please, don’t say this to your family and friends who suffer at the hands of a wicked person’s heart. It’s not true. And it certainly isn’t helpful.

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, betrayal, Choices, infidelity, repentance

Real Men Don’t Cheat! Or How to Become a Real Man Again if You Do..

Love is a choice not a feeling.  Think about it for just a minute.  When you love someone you choose to commit to them. You choose to serve them.  You choose to have their safety and best interests at heart.  You choose to walk life’s journey with them.  Romanitic love is a flash in the pan.  It is what get’s the process of love started.  After that, love is a thousand steps through life with that person you chose to go through life with.  Like President Monson said,

“Choose a companion carefully and prayerfully; and when you are married, be fiercely loyal one to another. Priceless advice comes from a small framed plaque I once saw in the home of an uncle and aunt. It read, ‘Choose your love; love your choice.’ There is great wisdom in those few words. Commitment in marriage is absolutely essential.”
-President Thomas S. Monson.

You choose to love someone. You choose to be faithful to them, or not.  When a man chooses a woman he is taking on a sacred responsibility to care for her, to protect her, to provide for her – to love her. For his entire life. Real men know how to make important choices and how to honor them.

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I don’t buy the excuses.  “I just fell out of love.”  It is a lame excuse and is nothing more than a flimsy paper cup that cannot not hold water when these conmen have to tell it to the all-seeing gaze of the ultimate judge. God will not be mocked. Period.  The covenant of marriage is serious business, it deserves serious work and commitment. Real men do not make lame excuses.  Real men honor their covenants. Real men don’t cheat.

“I am satisfied that a happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion.”
-President Gordon B. Hinckley

When a man’s focus is  on the anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of his spouse he will simply not be of a mind to stray.  It is only when he takes his focus off of her and puts it on other things, is when he allows his mind to drift into forbidden paths.

“Being happily and successfully married is generally not so much a matter of marrying the right person as it is being the right person.”
-President Howard W. Hunter

When a man cheats it says so much more about his character, discipline, and focus than it does about his wife’s.  When he cheats it says he is not a man of commitment, responsibility or integrity. Real men, above all, have  character.  They don’t take their focus off their wives and children.  They are men of honor who work consistently to be the right person for their wife and children. A real man works hard to insure he is doing his part to lead his family in righteousness.

“Some think of happiness as a glamorous life of ease, luxury, and constant thrills; but true marriage is based on a happiness which is more than that, one which comes from giving, serving, sharing, sacrificing, and selflessness.”
-President Spencer W. Kimball

Real men understand that marriage isn’t easy.  But a real man is up for a challenge and isn’t a quitter.  He will find ways to improve his relationship when things seem a little bit off or start to go wrong.  He will not refuse to do what is necessary to fix a problem.  He will work selflessly to find a solution.  Real men work on their relationships. Real men go to marriage counseling with the intent to improve, when needed.

All in all, it takes a weak man to cheat.  A selfish man cheats.  A cowardly man cheats.  If the truth is really said out loud, any man has the potential and ability to be a coward under the wrong circumstances.  We are all subject to temptation and sin.  Anyone can fall.  This is the nature of life, especially if we are foolish enough to let our guard down.  So if a man cheats does that mean he is past the point of no return?

Emphatically, NO!

The epitome of a real man, a real man that deserves our highest praise and honor, is one who has made serious mistakes, but who can own up to it! He admits his weaknesses, confessed to them, willingly, he tells all of it.  For him, there is no confession that is too hard or humiliating, because he cares more about reparing the damage than he does about his own weaknesses. If a real man can confess his weaknesses then the Lord will take his weakness and make them become strong!  His infidelity will lead him to become absolutely faithful in all things, because he will have learned how!

“Love is a fragile thing, and some elements in life can try to break it. Much damage can be done if we are not in tender hands, caring hands. To give ourselves totally to another person, as we do in marriage, is the most trusting step we take in any human relationship. It is a real act of faith — faith all of us must be willing to exercise. If we do it right, we end up sharing everything — all our hopes, all our fears, all our dreams, all our weaknesses, and all our joys — with another person.”
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Then he works hard to rebuild his breech of trust.  A real man will go to his wife and humbly seek her forgiveness. He will do whatever it takes to repair the damage he has done.  He will  identify what caused him to cheat. Often finding the cause takes working through a 12-step program and/or counseling. Then he will develop a plan for himself to make the required changes. He will set up clear boundaries for himself so that it will not happen again.  He will share these new boudaries with his wife. Then he will check-in with her everyday to let her know he is committed to her and serious about repairing the damage. She will know how he is doing in his repentance because he will tell her! She won’t need to ask him.

“Converse with each other, thereby never letting little things become big things.”
-Elder Robert D. Hales

He will do everything he can to help her feel safe and work hard to rebuild her trust in him.  He will ask her often if there is something more he can do for her. Her comfort, well-being, and safety are his primary concerns.  If he violates his own boundaries, then he will go to her immedately and confess the breech.  Then he will rework his plan to shore up the weak areas.  She won’t have to worry about relapses because he is already on top of it! He will make himself accountable to her and to others who can help him.  He will seek advice from experts. He will read up on cheating and how to avoid it.  He will educte himself and share what he is learning with wife. He will not give her cause to worry any further, because he wants to be responsible to himself and to her.

“Our Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity.”
-President Henry B. Eyring

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He will lead her in daily prayer and scripture study. He will make sure they do it together.  He will show her in everything he does that he has chosen her and is committed to her. Every action will But more than that, he will show he has chosen God and that he is committed in leading himself and his family back to Him.  Everything he does will reflect his committment to God.  And that commitment to Him, will show more than anything else he does, that he has re-committed to her. This is what real men do.

“Once I married her,” Elder Andersen said, “the standards in my life went way up — being totally consistent in prayer and scripture study, keeping the commandments with precision. She has a pure and disciplined faith.”
-Elder Neil L. Andersen

This is what recovery from betrayal trauma really looks like. It takes work, real work, willingly done by a real man! Incidentally, this is also what real repentance looks like as well!

This what a real man will do if he makes a mistake and cheats.

This is what cheaters do when they want to be real men again. This is how you will know you have a real man worth standing by.

Anything less than this is cowardly.

If you have cheated on your wife, it’s time to man up!

“Both men and women need righteous desires that will lead them to eternal life. Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.”
-Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

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

Phoenix Rising

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

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

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

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

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

Choices and accountability matter!

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

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

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

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

What it boils down to is this: Hitting Rock Bottom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was blame.

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

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

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

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

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

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

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

repentance, Spiritual

What True Repentance Looks Like

Last night I was studying my scriptures.  And as often happens to me, one reference leads me to another and I ended up on this General Conference Talk from October 2016: Repentance: A Joyful Choice by Dale G. Renlund.  I highly recommend it to you for a clear concise explaination of what true repentance looks like.  It is one of those moments when you know the Lord is guiding you to a place you needed to go and I definently needed to go to this talk. It was so validating.  I need that.

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Lately I have been struggling mightily over my Ex-husband’s failure to repent, at least he is not doing it in the way I have been taught to understand that repentance looks like. But everytime I mentioned to him over the past two years that he is not fully repenting, I am met with a constant barrage of accusations of being judgmental, critical, nonsupportive and mean.  These kinds of accusations can take a toll on a person after a while, especially when I am already so hurt, wounded, and shattered.  His failure to fully repent has left deep wounds in our family that keep getting torn open again and again.  He doesn’t understand that if he truly repented it would provide a healing balm over the entire family, especially me.

Instead we get resistance, subborness, and stonewalling. He ABSOLUTELY REFUSES to repent. It feels like he refuses to repent so he can prove he isn’t really an addict, that he just made a few “bad choices.” So he treats his repentance as such.  He expects to just say he is sorry and we will all forgive him and that will be that. This mindset, that what he has done is not that bad (minimizing) causes him to be astonished that I would have the nerve to divorce him, because why would anyone divorce a spouse that they love over a few “bad choices?” So he is able to rationalize in his mind that I am really the bad guy. He feels I bailed on him, not the other way around, which is really the case to any other rational human being.

Don’t get me wrong, he IS sorry.  But it the “sorrow of the damned,” not “sorrow unto repentance” or “godly sorrow.”  There is a huge difference. Just being sorry doesn’t cut it in the case of adultery and infidelity, not by anyone’s standards, and certainly not by the Lord’s standards.

 “The word repent connotes “to perceive afterwards” and implies “change.”4 In Swedish, the word is omvänd,which simply means “to turn around.”5 The Christian writer C. S. Lewis wrote about the need and the method for change. He noted that repentance involves “being put back on the right road. A wrong sum can be put right,” he said, “but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”6 Changing our behavior and returning to the “right road” are part of repentance, but only part. Real repentance also includes a turning of our heart and will to God and a renunciation of sin.7 As explained in Ezekiel, to repent is to “turn from … sin, … do that which is lawful and right; … restore the pledge, … [and] walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity.”8

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“Never by simply going on!” This is exactly what my Cheater wants to do!  He just wants to go on  from here!  He refuses to go back to the beginning of he errors and working forward from that point.  This is the crux of the pain he has caused and is continuing to cause within his devastated family.  He had the audacity to tell my daughter last week, that he is moving on with a different woman, in yet another relationship, because ” HE DESERVES TO BE HAPPY!”  My daughter was agasted at his extreme selfishness.  Her response; “You took a baseball bat to our family and destroyed everyone, but you deserve to move on and be happy, while everyone else is left broken and bruised?”

Does this sound like real repentance to you? No. Me either.

He will tell anyone who will listen that he is repenting.  But he is not.  It is not possible to say you are repenting, and at the same time, continuing in sin. If he were truly repenting we would all be able to tell, we would all see it, we would all know it. He would change.  His behavior would change, his words would change, his countenance would change.  The righteous can clearly judge this mighty change of heart.  It is as clear as the daylight from the dark night. Elder Runland continues:

Yet even this is an incomplete description. It does not properly identify the power that makes repentance possible, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Real repentance must involve faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith that He can change us, faith that He can forgive us, and faith that He will help us avoid more mistakes. This kind of faith makes His Atonement effective in our lives. When we “perceive afterwards” and “turn around” with the Savior’s help, we can feel hope in His promises and the joy of forgiveness. Without the Redeemer, the inherent hope and joy evaporate, and repentance becomes simply miserable behavior modification. But by exercising faith in Him, we become converted to His ability and willingness to forgive sin.

All sorts of lightbulbs went on in my head!  My Cheater is just in “Miserable Behavior Modification.” He is trying to do this on his own, without help from anyone, using his own wisdom, and he is failing miserably.  He has not made his repentance real because he isn’t following the steps for real repentance laid out by our Savior in the scriptures.  With, what my therapist Home Teacher calls, “cheap repentance,” he will NEVER have joy. He can seek for “happiness” all he wants, but he will never find joy! This is the lot of the damned. No joy.

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Elder Packer explains:

“The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed. … It just heals, and what it heals stays healed.”9

He continued:

“The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. …

“… The Atonement … can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated.”10

“The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us. As the prophet Lehi explained, after we “are instructed sufficiently” to “know good from evil,”11 we “are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death.”12 In other words, repentance is a choice.”

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We must choose to repent.  Stunning in its simplicty. Profound in its appliction! This was another place in the talk that struck me.  Hard.  A few months before I made the decision to divorce my husband I spent days in the temple, praying and seeking for guidance on what I should or needed to do next.  I had some very sacred experiences during this time, but one thing stands out above the others.  The Lord said to me, very clearly…”Your husband has not chosen you.” As I think back on this now I understand that the Lord was also telling me, “he has not chosen me either.”  My Ex did not, and has not chosen US; the Lord, his family and me.  He has not chosen any of us.  If he would choose all of us, everything for him would change practically overnight.  He would be a changed man, with “no more desire to do evil [to his family], but to do good [to his family] continually.” He doesn’t want to do the hard work of repentance, real repentance, so he believes it will be simpler to just walk away.  Not so.

Remarkably Elder Rutland list a few things that keep us from choosing to repent.  To my astonishment they were the same symptoms of denial! He says:

“We can—and sometimes do—make different choices. Such choices may not seem intrinsically wrong, but they prevent us from becoming truly penitent and thus preclude our pursuit of real repentance.”

  1. For instance, we may choose to blame others. But blaming others, even if justified, allows us to excuse our behavior. By so doing, we shift responsibility for our actions to others. When the responsibility is shifted, we diminish both the need and our ability to act. We turn ourselves into hapless victims rather than agents capable of independent action.13
  2. Another choice that impedes repentance is minimizing our mistakes... It would have been easy to say that there was no reason to repent. But minimizing our mistakes, even if no immediate consequences are apparent, removes the motivation to change. This thinking prevents us from seeing that our mistakes and sins have eternal consequences.
  3. Yet another way is to think that our sins do not matter because God loves us no matter what we do. It is tempting to believe what the deceitful Nehor taught the people of Zarahemla: “That all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, … and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.”14 But this seductive idea is false. God does love us. However, what we do matters to Him and to us. He has given clear directives about how we should behave. We call these commandments. His approbation and our eternal life depend on our behavior, including our willingness to humbly seek real repentance.15
  4. Additionally, we forgo real repentance when we choose to separate God from His commandments…We should be wary of discounting sinful behavior by undermining or dismissing God’s authorship of His commandments. Real repentance requires recognizing the Savior’s divinity and the truthfulness of His latter-day work.

My Cheater has used all of these excuses, and others, to shirk his responsibilites to himself, to me and to his family to do the hard work of real repentance.  It is interesting that these excuses are also the behaviors of an addict in denial.

Instead of making excuses, let us choose repentance. Through repentance, we can come to ourselves, like the prodigal in the parable,16 and reflect on the eternal import of our actions. When we understand how our sins can affect our eternal happiness, we not only become truly penitent but we also strive to become better.”

When faced with temptation, we are more likely to ask ourselves, in the words of William Shakespeare:

What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?

A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.

Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week,

Or sells eternity to get a toy?17

My Cheater has a new “toy.” That will not bring him lasting joy.  True repentance will.  Healing the wounds of his family will.  Binding up our broken hearts will.  But he would rather play with his new toy instead of repairing a family he has spent a lifetime in building.  This makes no sense to me.

Elder Runland explains:

“If we have lost sight of eternity for the sake of a toy, we can choose to repent. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have another chance. Metaphorically, we can exchange the toy we so ill-advisedly purchased in the first place and receive again the hope of eternity. As the Savior explained, “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”18

My Cheater still continues to make bad choices, including refusing to do the hard work of real repentance.  It’s nice to know, I am not the only one who thinks so.

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The Cupcake Warrior

Be Sweet, Stay 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!