betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And here is why I think this way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

 

 

 

Coping, Uncategorized

I’m Fine…After All

People will ask me how I am doing these days. I usually just say “l’m fine.” It’s been more than 4 years since I discovered my husband’s betrayal. We divorced 2 years ago today. I should be fine by now, right? And I am fine. But fine doesn’t mean what you think it means…

“…in a satisfactory or pleasing state; very well.”

For what I have been through, and where I have been, I am doing fine. Sort of. It has been worse after all. Being fine it seems, is a relative term.

I thought my perfect life was fine. I thought my perfect marriage to the perfect man was fine. I was just starting a new business that was going to be more than fine. Our children were fine too. We were all doing well at life. I felt we had made it. After all the trials and struggles in life, we had made it. Retirement and a life of bliss and church service was just around the corner. Life was more than fine, life was good. We were living downtown in a fancy apartment, hubby was driving a nice car, we had two Harley’s, and a good job. Life was just fine. I was in denial.  I’m not anymore so that makes it fine, I guess.

Son was about to enter his last year of college. He was taking finals when his life exploded that left him unable to finish school. He just lost his drive. That’s fine, right?

Daughter #1 was the mother of 4 small children who was navigating her new role and feeling overwhelmed with life, but her Dad’s choices left her fine, didn’t they?

Daughter #2 was starting a new career and living on her own after years of struggling with her own disabilities. But she was going to be just fine too, right? How could all this devastation possibly derail her?

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Then our lives blew up. All of our lives blew up. Not just mine. Our children suffered at least as much betrayal as I did, if not more. But in the fallout, I was shattered so badly I couldn’t help my kids, no matter how much I wanted to do so. They say when you are drowning in the depths of the sea or on a plane careening towards the earth that you have to save yourself first and then go back for the kids. Put on your own life vest first, or put on your own oxygen mask first. It seems like a good idea, in theory. In practice, not so much. I never knew what it would be like to be so broken that all you could think about was your own survival and how much it would hurt to watch you children struggle and be able to do nothing to help them, while the parent who caused the damage just runs away from the scene of the devastation.

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I am fine now, because at least now I can be somewhat helpful to them. I can do things for them, finally. And that is important because I’m all they have for the moment. Dad has dug himself in so deep with his children that he may never find a way back to them. His choices left everyone with hardly any choices in response except to be estranged. Anything else isn’t safe. But we are all fine.

I hope my kids will be fine. We think we will all be fine, eventually, but at what cost? Almost nothing in life for the last 4 years happened like we thought it would. While our perfect lives were being blown apart, so were our dreams. Not just once, but over and over again. Just as we would get our footing, some other bad choice was being made for us and our lives, while we had to stand by helplessly and watch and pray for a miracle that never came. It was a struggle for any of us just to get through the day without dying inside. But we are fine, we are all still alive. The dreams we once had are gone. But we are here. We’re fine.

We all struggle to make ends meet in every way possible. So we do what we have always done, we rally together and support one another. Sometimes I help out, sometimes I can’t, so the kids pitch in. It’s what families do. Sometimes I feel like I am the one being helped more often than not. While the Ex drives a fancy sports car, lives in an expensive apartment downtown, this time with someone else, she rides in my spot on the back seat of what used to be OUR Harley, and he goes out doing all the fun things with his “wife-stress” he used to do with us. We have been replaced by a better model, she must be, because he didn’t even bother to fight for us, he just walked out of our lives without even a backwards glance, so he must be doing fine too. He doesn’t give us, or our lives, a second thought. How does he reconcile any of this? Yeah, he’s just fine.

I would tell you how all of us are doing just fine now four years later. But it doesn’t sound fine to most people when you say it out loud. We are fine by all outward appearances now, and that’s what matters most, doesn’t it? The watered down version for public consumption is that we get up everyday, we go about the day in much the same way we used to, and we have developed new dreams and goals. The difference now is that there is a very big hole where our hearts used to be, and it is covered over by a very tender, very large, somewhat healing, scar. But we are all fine. We are not on emotional life support anymore. Healing is happening. Finally. Slowly.

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All my life I have been able to dream in sleep. Very vivid dreams. I used to be able to recall at least one dream a night most of the time. Then after the discovery of my husband’s affairs I stopped dreaming. It was as if there had been this whole inner life of beauty, fantasy, and imagination one day, and darkness the next. I was to learn later that my brain couldn’t process what happened to me, which was one reason I developed PTSD. It seems my brain couldn’t process it in sleep either. So the dreams just disappeared. Something else taken from me. Last night, I had my first real dream in 4 years. It was horrifying. Now I know why I wasn’t allowed to dream, my brain was protecting me from myself.

Like most dreams, not everything makes sense, dreams are spoken in the language of symbols and are usually a metaphor for something that is far more significant than it appears at first glance. We dream to process the events of the day. For the first time in 4 years, here is how my brain was able to process the madness of what can only be described as a sociopathic act…

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I had just found a taxi to take me home, from what must have been a trip because there was luggage. We were heading down the beautiful palm tree line coast towards home when all of a sudden there was a traffic jam just minutes from home. I could even see my house from here.  We were the first car stopped in the traffic jam. So I had a front row seat to what we were all about to witness. I looked up from the back seat of the car to see my house begin to slide off the edge of the cliff it was built on. It was a gorgeous house, perfect in every way. Large and beautifully landscaped, with a view I had longed for all my life of the beach and the crystal blue ocean below.  It seemed to be my dream house. I sensed that it was something we had worked all of our lives to build together. But it seemed to be on rollers. Easily moved. And it was moving now towards the edge of the cliff, ever so slowly. As the house was sliding towards the edge of the cliff the outer wall gave way to reveal my children inside the house. They were scared and clutching each other, I couldn’t tell for sure from how far away I was from them, but their body language told me they were sobbing.  I screamed for someone to save them! “Please save my children! Oh God! Do not let them die!”  As I was screaming, emergency vehicles suddenly appeared out of no where, and they all seemed baffled about what to do. Nobody seemed to know who, or what, was causing this disaster, which kept them all paralyzed from knowing where to start to help.  My children were terrified. Finally, a hook and ladder fire truck lifted a fireman up to them from below. I was relieved as I saw them being rescued! But as he was loading my children on to the ladder to save them, more of the house was now being pushed over the edge on top of them, burying all of them alive. I was crying hysterically at this point. I tried to get out of the taxi but the doors were locked and I was forced to watch what happened next as friends, family, and neighbors all came to help save my children and my house. Everyone who tried to help was either driven over the edge by the moving house or buried under the rubble from below. My husband was nowhere to be seen. Was he missing? Was he in the house? Did he die in this disaster too? I kept trying to get out of the taxi, my hands were now bleeding from the attempt. I watched helplessly as each and every person who mattered to me was buried alive by my house as the last wall went over the edge on top of them. When the dust settled I saw my husband standing at the edge of the cliff with his hands on his hips. It was so chilling to that he would do such a devastating thing to so many people. I just stared at him in disbelief  for a few seconds and then I passed out.

I startled awake with tears running down my cheeks. It was the first time I had cried in my sleep for over a year. And then following wakefulness, came the familiar pain gripping my heart that I had felt everyday for at least two years. I thought I was having a heart attack again. No. It was only my heart breaking in two…for the millionth time.

Then I remembered it is the 2nd anniversary of the finalization of my divorce from him. It’s funny what the body remembers when the mind would like to forget. I don’t know if I love that my dreaming has returned. But I am grateful.  It’s a sign that healing is taking place. It will be interesting to process this dream and trying and figure out what it all means. I am sure you can probably guess some of it. At least my brain is finally healing enough to process the terror I have felt over the last 4 years. At least my brain thinks it’s safe enough now to dream and to process. I have, at least healed that much. Maybe that does mean I am fine after all. At the very least, I am headed towards “fine” so maybe when someone asks me how I am, now I can say, “I’m fine,” without feeling like its a lie.

To celebrate my healing, I think I will have a cupcake for breakfast. And that is fine!

Stay Strong!  Be Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

betrayal, My Story, Uncategorized

Financial Speaking…

There are always unintended consequences to everything…especially to addiction. And more often than not, it is to the family of the addict – not the addict himself. A separation or divorce from an addict is especially painful and draining, financially speaking .  I debated about sharing this part of my life with you because it is so personal and private. In the end, there is nothing personal and private about addiction.  It impacts all of us, profoundly, and in so many ways. So if my intention in writing this blog is to help others who are going through what I have been through, then this is a critical piece of the puzzle that you need to know.  Most women do not know how to protect themselves financially.  I didn’t.  My lawyer did.  But even she didn’t think of everything.  That is what this blog post is about – thinking of everything.  Life is not fair.  It is especially not fair in a divorce from an addict.

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Let me start at the beginning.

When I first separated from my ex-husband he was in a space of sadness and contrition.  He seemed willing to “take care of me” until we could find our way back together.  Or so it seemed. He said things to me like, “I will always take care of you. You will not have to worry about money. I did this, it’s my responsibility to “take care of you.” Initially, he asked me to take less money so that it would not be a financial burden on him while he “worked out his recovery.” Of course I wanted him to spend every spare dime he had on recovery! So I, always being willing to be manipulated, agreed to take half of what I needed to survive on. My thinking was that I could put the rest on my credit cards until we got back together.  After all, it was only going to be a few months, right? He is going to work so hard on recovery! Well a few months turned into a few years and after it was all said and done, I was left with a little over $50,000 of debt, before the divorce.

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The longer the separation lasted the more I worried about the debt I was creating because of his choices and he seemed less and less interested in helping me out.  I was stuck.  AND worse, I was at his mercy! When I would tell him I needed more money to survive his response was, “well, you agreed to this amount.  You even gave me a budget that YOU came up with.”  All true!  I did come up with a budget and I did agree to the amount.  But in the beginning I did not know what I did not know.  And he used my trusting nature against me.  Please learn from my lessons.  If you are going to separate from your husband, even for what you think is a short period of time, get professional help, hire a lawyer!  Have a lawyer or trusted advisor draw up a legal agreement, that can be amended for things that are unforeseen.

NO ONE IS EVER PREPARED FOR A DIVORCE! It is one of those life experiences you don’t pay attention to and that you don’t fully understand until you are faced with it.  Even then, the learning curve is steep and dangerous.  ESPECIALLY if you are divorcing an addict!

If I were to do it all over again, I would have had a legal separation from the beginning. It would have allowed me to learn during the separation to ask for what I really needed in case there was a divorce, and I would have been protected by someone who had my best interest at heart from the beginning.  If I had done that, I would not be where I am, financially speaking, right now. But I wasn’t really thinking like that, I was thinking I was going to get him back!  I was going at all of this from the perspective of having “good faith” in him. With an addict, you cannot afford to think in terms of “good faith.” There is no “good faith” with an addict.  They are selfish, self-centered, conceited, and totally unpredictable. AND THEY LIE!  Protect yourself until you actually SEE evidence of recovery.  All of this is counterintuitive to how you have lived with your husband in the past.  This is the person you have always relied on to take care of you and protect you.  Suddenly, he is the enemy.  It doesn’t feel right to treat him like the enemy, but that is exactly what he has become. Until he is fully in recovery, he is the enemy.  I wish someone would had told me this! I would be a lot better off today if they had.

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Also, remember that if you unwittingly take less in the separation, that could be used against you in a divorce.  Just keep that in mind. Luckily, I live in Utah and that means I am entitled to half of everything he has.  I am also entitled to alimony that equals the lifestyle I enjoyed while in the marriage.  Not all states are so generous. Know what you are entitled to and ask for everything. You won’t get it.  So just start out by ASKING FOR EVERYHING! Don’t take less to just “be nice.” We women want to be liked and get along. Don’t!  They will use that against you. My ex-husband wanted me to agree to the same amount he gave me for the separation, which was far below what was reasonable or required by law. Luckily my attorney knew this and she had my back.  But she didn’t catch everything.

The debt was one of those things.  Insurance was another.  And then there are the taxes on alimony.  These three things buried me financially.

I paid off a lot of the debt I had in the divorce, between the sale of the house and the half of his retirement I got, which wasn’t much, but I still ended up with $30k in debt!  That is no bueno.  I could barely keep up with the payments.  It was not good at all.  And guess what?  He DID NOT CARE!  After all, I was the one who ran up the debt – not his problem. Right?  That is the problem with him, he always evades accountability on a technicality.  It happens every time.  Technically, he is right.  But is he morally right?  After all, I was married to him for 38 years, that should count for some modicum of responsibility and respect, not to mention his choices.  Who knows?  It doesn’t to him and, at the moment, his is the only opinion that matters. He thinks he is “taking care” of me.

Insurance coverage was in my divorce budget to begin with, but because of all of this debt, I could not afford to actually buy the insurance.  I still can’t.  I have been without insurance for the past two and half years.  Hopefully, I will be insured again before the end of this year.

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The last thing that she did not catch or explain to me very well is the taxes on alimony.  Ladies, this is a BIG ONE.  Make sure your lawyer includes this in the separation and divorce papers.  Even though he pays taxes on his salary, you must also pay taxes on the alimony he pays you on that already taxed income.  Yes!  Alimony is taxed twice!  And you do not get to claim it as a deduction.  He does.  So the impact to your budget is that you must save back 25% of what you get in alimony and child support to pay to the government at the end of the year, or they will come after YOU!  So you will automatically lose 25% of what you thought was your budget to live on.  Make arrangements for this.  I should have been getting half of whatever he gets back on his tax returns to offset my tax burden.  I don’t.  That was a mistake.

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The good news is that I get half of his social security retirement for the rest of his life.  I wasn’t going to go after that, but I probably will now, just because. (It will help offset the taxes on the alimony.) Don’t forget this either.  If you were married for more than 10 years, you are entitled to apply for HALF of his Social Security benefits as soon as he turns 62.  You do not have to wait for him to retire or claim his benefits.  You can do it for yourself, when he turns 62.  The government requires that you receive this benefit even if you are divorced or if he is remarried.  So there is that.

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Now we come to my sad tale to tell.  The short version of a very long story is that in one year I went through the trauma of betrayal, the trauma of divorce, and now, the trauma of a bankruptcy.  Yep, bankruptcy. I am furious at my ex husband!  He caused this, and takes none of the responsibility for it!  But he will tell you that he is “taking care” of me.  After all, he pays his alimony payments on time twice a month. Isn’t that enough? But he will also tell you that he is “repenting.”  The last time I checked, when someone repents they also are required to restore the person they harmed back to wholeness.  It’s funny because when he was a Bishop he wasn’t too happy with men who treated their ex-wives the way he now treats me.  I think he used the term “jerks” to describe them. But now that it is me, it’s perfectly acceptable for him to behave the same way. He is within the letter of the law.

I would go out and get a job to supplement my alimony payment, but there is a “catch” to that too. According to the divorce papers, (and he had this part put in so that I couldn’t “get away” with sticking him with the alimony forever should I become financially stable on my own) he can deduct anything I make from his alimony payments up to $2,000 a month. So I cannot even go out and get a job to supplement my income because he will just take it.  So I am stuck. He made sure of that.  I cannot get ahead.  Period. Yep, he is “taking care” of me alright.

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And the icing on the cake is that because of the bankruptcy I am now being evicted from my apartment. Yep. So nice.  Even though I never missed a payment, never bounced a check, and was never late for almost 3 years, I got an eviction notice on my door just because I had to file for bankruptcy.  Luckily for me, I have a nice friend who has a super nice condo that I can rent.  But holy crap! What a pain. Now I have to move too.  Just for kicks and giggles.

All of this happened because my ex-husband thought it would be so fun to have multiple affairs.  So why is it that I am the one suffering all these consequences for his poor choices? Addiction is the gift that keeps on giving!

Ladies, please don’t think that you are an exception.  Don’t believe that your husband will take care of you.  He won’t.  I used to think that my ex-husband was one of the most responsible people to ever walk the earth.  He isn’t.  His addiction changed him.  He is all about himself.  Do not think that you will be taken care of.  You won’t.  An addict brain is a selfish brain.  Always.  NO EXCEPTIONS.

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If you are contemplating a separation or a divorce from an addict, please get professional help!  It is worth the cost.  Don’t let him talk you out of it with lovely words of,  “we can work this out between us” or “I will do all I can to get get you back.” It’s Bullshit.  Don’t believe it. Think of everything you will need and cover all your bases. Write everything down. Keep a daily journal, it holds up in court. Record every conversation you have, keep every email, and take screen shots of every text. Get an attorney who is well versed in dealing with addiction and/or narcissism.  Take care of yourself, because in the end, nobody else will!

I am not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry for me.  Don’t.  I will be ok. I waited to tell this cautionary tale until the problems were solved, and it was finally over, and I knew I was going to be ok. The best feeling in the world is that I solved all the problems he created for me!  Me!  I did that, all on my own!  Because of the bankruptcy, I can now live fully within my budget, my debt is managable, I get to keep my very cool car, pay my taxes, I am moving to a nicer place, have all of my needs met, and can even save some money for trips and other fun things.  I will be just fine!  But it is no thanks to the addict.  Or maybe it is, who knows?

One thing I know is this – no matter what the addict throws at me, the Lord ALWAYS has me covered by His Grace.  It is because of Him that I will be more than ok, no matter what! We have to do our part too though.  Don’t be dumb like me.  Know what you need, ask for it, and take care of yourself first.

Be Sweet, Stay Strong

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The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, My Story, Uncategorized

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.

“Stay Sweet, Be Strong”

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My Story, Uncategorized

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

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

Dear Ex,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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