abuse, betrayal, gaslighting, Narcissist, Trauma Recovery

Let’s Talk About Gaslighting; Knowing the Signs, and How to Stop It

If you have been cheated on and haven’t heard the terms “gaslighting” or “crazy-making” you are probably still very confused about some of your addict’s behaviors.  In 1938 there was a stage play, and later, a movie called “Gaslight.  The premise of both was a husband who systematically convinced his wife that she was insane by destabilizing her by de-legitimizing her memories and beliefs.  He rearranged furniture, reinvented conversations, and turned down the gas lights. When she would question what was happening around her he would deny all of it in the attempt to make her believe she was losing her mind.  Addicts, narcissist, and sociopaths all behave in the same way.  This is why the term is now to describe the behavior of addicts, manipulation, and other psychotic disorders.  Gaslighting is a real thing and it maybe happening in your relationship, especially if your husband has been found cheating on you. Chances are that you already know it has happened to you or you wouldn’t be reading this blog post.

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What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a powerful manipulation tactic used by one person in a relationship to  control the other person by making them question their reality or truth.  You might say that you would never fall for anything so sinister, and that is easy to say, however, gaslighting happens so subtlely and slowly that the damage is often already complete long before you are ever aware that you have been manipulated.

Gaslighting is a common practice for politicians, religious and business leaders, bullies, and even the media.  We can almost tolerate it in these people, we can even roll our eyes at it, but when it comes from our significant other, that is a whole other story! Gaslighting is used by the powerful against the weak to lower their self-esteem and independence, to keep them in their place, and from fighting back.  If the gaslighter is successful, their victim will be left powerless, confused, and unable to defend herself. You will truly feel that you have lost your mind! The whole point of gaslighting is to keep you from learning the truth about your husbands addiction and betrayal.

In a relationship where one spouse is cheating on the other one, gaslighting is just one of many methods employed by the cheater to cover his tracks. Gaslighting can happen in the relationship for years without detection, before, during, and after the cheating has been discovered.

How Do You Know If You Have Been Gaslighted?

There are 10 manipulation techniques used in gaslighting to successfully make you think that you are the one who is crazy so that he can continue to cheat on you without your knowledge, keep you in the dark once the affair(s) has been discovered, and continue to abuse you going forward:

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The Lies That Come in Every Shape, Color, and Size

Everyone experiences little white lies.  You know, the kind where you tell someone they don’t look bad in a dress when they really do, just to spare their feelings. That is not what I am talking about here.  Gaslighters intentionally lie and they do it without guilt or remorse.  They are able to lie to you straight to your face when they KNOW what they are saying is a bold-faced lie and that you do not believe it. These lies are designed to set a precedent for future lying.  It reminded me a lot of how Satan lies, a little truth mixed with a lie, just enough to make it believable.  A gaslighter will throw in just enough truth to make it plausible, but everyone in the room knows it’s a lie; you know it, he knows it, and he knows you know it.  Once this happens its a game changer.  From this point on you are not sure if anything else he says to you is the truth.  The purpose of this lie is to keep you off-balance, from now on, you will question everything, wonder why it’s happening, and not trust yourself, or him. Its a terrible feeling to not trust the one person who you should trust the most!

My ex-husband diabolically told me he was cheating again, just days after I had realized that I had actually begun to trust him again after his “first” affair. It took me 5 years to trust him again, and then one day he says to me, out of the clear blue sky, “You think I am cheating on you again, don’t you? You will NEVER trust me again, ever! I am tired of having to live this way, always wondering if you will ever trust me again!” I had said nothing for him to bring this up! I was immediately put between a rock and a hard place.  On the one hand I was forced to defend my honor by telling him that I did truly trust him, on the other hand he was daring me to ask him if he was cheating again so he could berate me.  I didn’t know what to say. So I said nothing.  And from this point on I was put on edge.  Later, I was to find out that he was, in fact, having another affair, and he had been doing so for at least a year! The lie was that he was calling me out as the one who had trust issues and he was daring me to confront him. The truth was that he WAS cheating again! Rather than just being honest and confessing, he decided he would call my loyalty to him into question! This is so wrong on so many levels!

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Everyone Else is the Liar

Anyone who disagrees with the gaslighter is an automatic liar.  Nobody is telling the truth…ever. And once a person has been deemed a liar anything that comes out of their mouth from then on out is a lie. This tactic is employed to isolate you from knowing the truth.  If he can convince you that everyone else is lying then you will rely on him to be the sole source of all truth. This effectively works to keep you from seeking help from people who are in a position to really help you. All of a sudden your family is a lying to you, or out to get him, or manipulating you.  You can’t believe what your Bishop is telling you, how could you listen to your therapist, your best friend has always hated him, how can you possibly believe all these liars in your life? Over time, the victim with start to believe the lies and this is dangerous for everyone, especially to herself.  It’s best to get away while you still have your wits about you. More about that later.

Once he convinces you to dismiss all the liars in your life it leaves the gaslighter with complete control over you.  Don’t fall for it! I had this happen to me so often it is difficult to come up with just one example, but this one stand out:

I had made an appointment for us to go to LifeStar.  He had agreed to go with me to get help to save our marriage.  Once we were there, he said he never agreed to go and then he did everything to discredit everyone in the clinic.  The therapists where crazy, the program wasn’t good enough, no excuse was too far-fetched make them, or me, seem crazy for making him go there.  He even convinced the therapists and members of his group that he did not have an addiction, or so he thought. The bottom line was that we were all liars and we were all ganging up on him and accusing him of being an addict when he really wasn’t one.  We were all the evil meanies! He was innocent and nobody believed him.

The only way to protect yourself from the lying is to keep good records of everything.  Don’t keep records to prove to him that he is a liar, keep the records to prove to yourself that he is a liar. He won’t believe the proof anyway.

Denial is Not a River in Egypt!

You probably have noticed that addicts are equally adept at denial as they are at lying. They will say or do something, and then turn around and flat-out deny that they ever said or did something.  And you are not immune from this bait and switch contortion.  They will also deny that you ever said or did something that you darn well know you said or did! Even when faced with concrete evidence they will find one fault or chink in the armor to discredit the whole thing.

What was the most frustrating thing for me is the denial my ex-husband had for my own motives.  I told him at every step along the way of a painful, 4-year process, that if he would get himself into recovery, come up with a plan to provide me with safety so I could trust he would not cheat on me again, and if he would get into a 12-steps program with a sponsor, and meet with his Bishop every week, that I would move back in with him.  I also told him after I filed for a divorce that if he would do these things I would be willing to stop the divorce and work on putting our marriage back together.  The last time I told him this was the day before the divorce papers were sent to the judge. I even told him after the divorce was final that if he would get his act together and do these things I would re-marry him. But he denies ALL of it!  According to him, I NEVER said those things!  Even in the presence of emails and texts to the contrary, I never said any such thing, according to him. He even went so far as to tell me that if I had said that to him that he would have done what I asked.  (Projecting all the fault and blame for it back on to me.) I even spent 9 months of his first year of marriage to his wifestress trying to convince him that I did, in fact, tell him those things!  It was a humiliation that I will not forget anytime soon.  In the end, nothing will convince him, short of being struck down by God, that I ever said I wanted him to come back.

The problem with all the denial is that as it progresses your brain is already hardwired to recognize and record patterns of behavior.  Over time, you will start to question if you are the one at fault because it has now becoming a pattern.  You will start to tell yoursef that maybe you misunderstood, forgot, mis-heard, or are just losing it. The irony is that the lies that you knew were so wrong, begin replace your own reality through the persistent and relentless denial. Couple this with what happens in the brain when betrayal trauma is present and you have the perfect storm for being caught in this manipulation with NO WAY to escape on your own.  The more I read about the gaslighting and narcissistic abuse, present in porn and sex addiction, the more I am grateful that I had the wherewithal to come out of it alive. I was truly watched over and protected in spite of my own denial from believing he could be capable of doing this to me.

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Their Walk and Their Talk Don’t Match

When your partner is an addict their walk and talk will never match.  They will say one thing and do something completely different.  As a result you will always question their motives and behavior. It keeps you off-balance and wondering what is really true. Once you are in this maze of deceit there is no why out. The more you try to make sense of it, the harder you try, the deeper into the maze you go, and the more lost you become.  They will keep telling you they want you back, and they love you, or will do anything to put your family back together, but until those words are backed up with matching actions, it is always a deadend. Always!

My ex-husband professed undying love to me so many times I lost count.  And each time I would fall for the lies only to be broadsided by another affair partner telling me that my husband was cheating on me.  This happened to me 6 times until a therapist gave me a lifeline, that I will pass on to you:

“Men have two tongues, the one in their mouth and the one on their shoes.  Ignore the one in their mouth and just watch the one on their shoes.”

In other words, don’t listen to a thing he says, only watch what he actually does! If he is serious about recovery he will do the hard work of recovery.  If he loves you he will provide you with safety, if  he really loves you he will stop cheating on you, he will stop lying to you, and he will stop gaslighting you. It really is just that simple!  This simplicity is what finally led me to file for a divorce – his talk did not match his walk. The bottom line is this, I could not make him give me what I needed and I had a responsibility to stop betraying myself, even it he wouldn’t stop betraying me.

Protect yourself from the inconsistencies by having clear, concise, and immoveable boundaries. Figure out what you need from him to make this better and ask for it.  The scary thing about boundaries is that you have to be prepared to follow through with the consequences.  So be clear about what you want and how to ask for it.  You will find out really fast if he truly loves you enough to give you what you need or if he is just hoping you will fall for his lip service.

They Attack You Personally

When a gasligher doesn’t get what he wants, when he is losing his grip on you, he will attack anything and everything that makes you…well… you.  He will attack your very identity.  He makes fun of your family, your personality, your goals, your talents, your parenting style, or anything else that is at your core being, that gives your life meaning and purpose. Little by little he will break you down by discounting anything that gives you a sense of  belonging and worth.

This is to insure that you become more and more unsure of yourself as a human being and look only to him for your self-esteem.  You are left without dignity, confidence, or even self-preservation. My ex-husband was a master at this.  He talked down to me in the most condescending and sarcastic tones, and encouraged other family members to talk to me this way as well.  He made fun of my gifts and talents to my face, while praising them in public, which was even more confusing.  I was told I was too sensitive or too passionate.  He put me down for my accomplishments and was jealous of my successes. If I ever called him out on it, his response was to tell me he was just joking and he ridiculed me for not being able to take a joke.  It was insidious.  I lived with this one for most of my marriage and he had me convinced that everyone talked to their spouse like this.  No they don’t!  It was abusive, and I endured it far too long!

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They Are Energy Vampires

Gaslighters will suck the very energy right out of you, like dementors from Harry Potter. They suck your energy through their lies, denial, manipulations, and degrading remarks. Gaslighters give you a one way ticket on the drama train. You can never relax with them because you have to constantly be on your toes, for what will surely be, their next attack.  You may find yourself in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze. This consistent state of high alert is draining on your mind and body.  It causes you to have adrenaline and cortisol overload and will eventually deplete you of all of your energy resources.  This constant state of overload will eventually cause you to develop depression, anxiety,  panic attacks, or worse. I developed adrenal fatigue because I endured this treatment for nearly 4 years straight.  I am only beginning to recover from it now.  This state of high alert is also one cause of betrayal trauma and PTSD in victims of infidelity.  It is the biggest reason to seek professional help. And if what I have already told you is not enough reasons, this should convince you.

Once you are in this state of mind it is super easy to be brainwashed by your gaslighter. You are just too tired and too drained to fight it anymore. He now has the upper hand on you and the relationship. You are tired and drained to the point that anything he does or says will set you off.  You will lash out and he will use this against you as living proof for himself, and you, that you are the crazy one! After all you are the one who is exploding every time he talks to you! At this point you will have finally been broken and beat down to the degree that you question everything in your life. It is at this point that suicidal thoughts start making sense to you.

The only way to get yourself back is to seek professional help.  Do it now!  Don’t wait!  Trust me, you will not be able to navigate the riptide of addiction, narcissistic abuse, and gaslighting without professional help from someone who if familiar with these specific issues. Please take this seriously, it is a very serious matter.  It is the life and death kind of serious. Like a real riptide, it will pull you under and drown the life right out of you.

“I am Not the Villain”

One of the hallmarks for gaslighters is they are very skilled at convincing you that they are not the Villain. Everyone and everything else around them is to blame. Blame is just something they refuse to take – for any of it!  Their excuses are full of “ifs” and “maybes.” It was the bosses fault or their calling at church was too stressful. They are too overwhelmed with life. Something bad happened in their childhood that turned them into a cheater.  And while some of this maybe true, nobody held a gun to their head and forced them to cheat on you! If they had problems they could have talked it over with you, or gone to see a therapist, or talked to their Bishop, or a friend.  There are any number of possibilities that could have happened before they crossed the line into the arms of another woman. The bottom line is they CHOSE to cheat!  And in the case of my ex-husband, he made that choice dozens of times. Once can be counted as a mistake, anything after that is a choice.  Making the choice to cheat, makes him the villain, by anyone’s standards!

The best thing you can do when he plays the “I am not the Villain in this picture” card is to be clear about what is right, and what is wrong.  Have a few statements that you know are true and just repeat them, to yourself, and him, over and over.  Don’t argue with him, it is pointless.  But be clear in your own mind about the truth and the facts. Again, keep good records.  Keep a journal (It is admissible in court too).

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“You are the One Who is Confused, Not Me”

For gaslighters confusion is the magic bullet. By keeping you in a state of confusion they will leave your reality pelted full of holes. They are stunningly gifted at convincing you that the grass is blue and the sky is green.  Everything you say, do, or remember will be called into question as being false.  Their ability to rewrite history is quite remarkable.  You might be impressed if it didn’t call everything you know into question and make you feel insane!  You didn’t say it, he didn’t say it, it didn’t happen the way you remember it, or even happen at all.  You poor pitiful thing, you are just confused.  Again, this is a tactic to keep you off-balance so that you will question everything, including yourself.  After you endure this kind of treatment over weeks, months, or even years, you will start to doubt your own mind and will stop trusting your own intuition and instincts.  Your reality gets altered to the point that you honestly believe that you must be the one who is confused.

“This is Your Problem, Not Mine”

Ah, projecting. Projecting is something that gaslighters are experts on. It’s all your fault.  You are the one with the problem, not them.  Each time you need to discuss their cheating they quickly turn it around so that suddenly you are discussing your faults, shortcomings, and flaws, not his cheating. You will be so busy defending yourself that you will have forgotten what the original discussion was ever about. You will be caught up in so much drama that you will be too exhausted to investigate what he is really doing. You may even be accused of cheating yourself! Projection is easy to spot.  He will tell you something that is so absurd that you are appalled that he even said it.  This is your cue to look at all his ridiculousness for what it really is, a confession of his own misdeeds.

This happened to me shortly after I separated from my ex-husband.  He outlandishly accused me of cheating on him!  As if! I had so many things projected on to me that it would make your head spin, so I will spare you all the ways and means he projected onto me.  Let’s just say that my ex-husband will tell anyone and everyone who will listen to him that our being divorced was my doing.  He wanted our marriage to work, but our being divorced was my fault, I filed the papers so I must have wanted to divorce him all along.  He wanted our marriage to work!  It took me two years to untangle this one with my therapist.  To this day I still have doubts that filing for a divorce was my only choice!  I only filed after I attempted suicide from all antics mention above, and elsewhere in this blog.  But even saving my life wasn’t a good enough reason to file for a divorce in his mind. Nevermind that he had cheated on me with dozens of women! (31 to be exact, that I know of! That number is all in my head too, even though I have proof of every single one of them!) I am the one who gave up on our marriage and him…whatever helps him sleep at night.

Do you see why you need a therapist?  Some of this stuff is so mindnumbingly ridiculous that you will need an expert to sort it all out.  This is truly crazy-making at it’s finest! Trust me, it will cause you to feel every bit as crazy as it sounds!

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Trading Places; The Victim Becomes the Villain

The poor picked on little cheater! He is just a misunderstood addict that is being mistreated by his horrible shrew of a wife! This is a story, or some version of it, he will tell to anyone who will listen.  The stuff he told his whores about me would singe your eyebrows!  He was the one who was mistreated and victimized by a cruel and uncaring wife.  Bah! I don’t buy what he is selling for one second and neither do the people who know the truth. He had an ideal life and he threw it all away for a fantasy.

This was, and still is, a hard one for me to swallow.  I had been the one cheated on, but suddenly I am the perpetrator in this story he made up in his head, because his version certainly doesn’t exist in reality.  As crazy as it seems, you will learn that the addict is very capable of making themselves out to be the victim.  I saw it over and over in my own relationship with my ex-husband.  I see it play out in the lives of hundreds of other women who have also been cheated on. What is even harder to swallow is how easily he could convince others he was the one who had been wronged.  Most of his family and a far too large number of our friends, his whores, and current wifestress, believed, somehow, that this was all my fault.  It is galling! It is screwing with your mind at its finest! If you are in the middle of this, then you know exactly what I am talking about. It is horrifying in its own right to be cheated on, but then to have him turn around and blame it all on you is more than any wife should ever have to bear. What this boils down to is that the addict is not capable of taking any responsibility for their actions. So you are the bad guy in their eyes and have wrong them.  It’s the only thing they can tell themselves in order to live with what they have done to so many people they should have protected.

Unfortunently, there is nothing you can do about his making you look bad to his friends and family that won’t make you look as crazy as you feel.  All you can do is to live your life with dignity and integrity while you wait for the karma bus to broadside everyone he has bamboozled. My only solace is to know God knows everything that really happened.  Eventually, the truth will come out, it always does, even if it takes until judgment day.

What Do You Do About It?

So what is the point of gaslighting?  Why do men do such a mean and insidious thing to their wives that they supposedly love?  It is simple: to protect the lie of their betrayal.  An addict will go to great lengths to protect themselves from the truth – they are addicted to sex and porn.  This truth is so disturbing to them that they will even willingly destroy the one thing they loved the most, their wife, children, and family, to protect themselves from seeing what they have really become.  Given the choices, to gaslight or get help for their problem, gaslighting has somehow become the more preferrable option in their mind.  And this, ladies, is at the heart of the evil that is pornography and sex addiction.

If you are unable to get him to come clean with the truth, then it is time to consider some serious options.  Separation is a must!  If you are not safe, and you are NOT safe if you are being gaslighted, you need to separate yourself from this form of abuse until he is ready to face the truth. Your relationship is over at this point anyway if he cannot be truthful with you.  Period. Go to stay with a friend or family member for a while until you can sort out what is happening and get your head clear.

You should get yourself into therapy with someone who is acquainted with betrayal trauma.  You will need a therapist to help you navigate this intense form of manipulation and abuse. See a therapist at least a few months before having any contact with your spouse.  Go no contact during this time.  I did not do this and I was further damaged because of it.  I honestly thought I could talk some sense into him. You can’t.  All that will happen is that you will be further traumatized. Your number one priority at this point is you.  YOU are ALL you can change. YOU are ALL you can save.  He has to do his own saving.  So give up any ideas that you will be able to save him! You can’t! You need time and space to figure out what is happening and how you will respond to this crazy-making. You can’t do that with him around.

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You should also tell people you trust what is happening to you so that you will have support and someone who can give you reality checks.  You will need them.  One thing that was hardest for me then, and even now, was that I could not wrap my brain around the idea that this man I had loved for so many years could treat me like this.  He was in a position of trust and he abused it to the point of trying to drive me mad rather than tell me the truth. You need people around you to validate that it really is a bad as it seems and that this is really happening to you.  I just couldn’t believe this was happening until other people started telling me that it was as bad as I thought it was.

This issue of sex addiction is loaded with shame.  He has already done a great job of shaming you if you are being gaslighted.  But you need to get past the shame and tell your story to the people who have earned your trust.  The more you bring this into the light and out of the darkness the better off you will be. Addiction thrives in secrecy. Refuse to keep his secrets.  He lost the right to anonymity and your protection when he cheated on you.  Why would you continue to protect someone who is doing you so much harm? Tell you story as often as you can.  It will lose its power over you and give you some control back over your own life.  Plus one thing gaslighters like to do is to publicly humiliate you and discredit you.  They can’t do that if you get out in front of the narrative first.

Get educated.  Read up on pornography and sex addiction.  You need to know what you are dealing with, and chances are that you have no idea what has happened to him, or you.  Start reading everything you can get your hands on.  The resource on this blog are a great place to start! This issue is very complicated and there is so much that you will not know or understand.  You do not know what you do not know at this point. Knowledge is power so arm yourself with the truth so you are better equipped to deal with the crap storm you find yourself in.  Nothing in your life experiences will have prepared you for what is ahead and the learning curve will be steep, but the sooner you get started, the better off you will be.

Join a support group, in person or online.  You will be amazed at how much your story is just like everyone else’s story!  I was shocked that my ex-husband was not even original in his behaviors. Cheaters are NOT creative. It is like there is some sort of  Guide for Cheaters 101 that we don’t know about. They all do and say the same shitty crap to their wives that my ex-husband said and did to me.  That is how it is so easy to know he really hasn’t changed at all!  He is still doing the same dumb shit he did 4 years ago! It’s not hard to spot the lies, deceit, and denial when you know it’s what everyone who has ever cheated has done, and is doing, to their wives as well. I belong to 3 support groups on Facebook and one in person group.  Between them, I interact with literally thousands of women who are at some stage of going through this.  (If you want to know what groups they are send me an email and I will tell you which ones to join.  He reads my blog so I don’t want him to infiltrate my safe places.) All of the stories and experiences vary in specific details, but the resulting behaviors are all the same! It is amazing, and shocking at the same time. You need to know that you are not alone.  I wouldn’t wish this sisterhood on my worst enemy, but it is good to know you are not alone when going through something so horrific.  There are women out there who do understand, too many of them, in my opinion.

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My last word on this subject is, that if you are experiencing any of these things, you are in danger. I wish someone would have told me earlier about this, I could have saved myself a lot of damage, time, energy, heartache, and money.  But like I said, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Don’t discount what I am telling you either.  You may think that your husband is different, he would never do this to you.  Don’t believe it for one minute as long as you are experiencing any of the above.  Right now, he is not the man you married.  It’s time you stopped acting like he is, at least until the gaslighting stops.

If you are reading this then you are strong enough to protect yourself.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

abuse, Becoming, divorce, healing, My Story, PTSD, Self Care, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

EMDR Therapy Intake Appointment

I took a break from therapy over the holidays. For anyone who is recovering from betrayal trauma you will understand why I would need a break. It’s grueling. I was doing something related to recovery every.single.day. I was just exhausted. I needed a break. So I went through the holidays, therapy free. It was glorious. And horrible.  I felt like all of my support was cut out from under me.  Cold Turkey. I did my best to pretend I was a normal person.  I wasn’t.

I quickly learned I still needed it. I was far from healed. And…I was out of money to pay for it.  I knew I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing either. I loved LifeStar but it had become painful to just walk into a building that reminded me of how much my Cheater did not love me. How awful he was to me. How he berated me after every appointment. I still can see the hatred and disgust he had on his face when he looked at me when we went to our sessions.  I now know that hatred and disgust was probably directed at himself…not me. He didn’t want to be there because he still had not given up on all his other relationships. (I found out later that he NEVER stopped cheating on me, not once.) But it felt like he hated me. In some ways, he did.  He hated me for reminding him how disloyal he was to me.

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During my 3 month-long retreat from therapy,  I started hearing about EMDR. It stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. The first time I heard about it what from the therapist at the ER a year ago when I was so distraught over my husband’s behavior it sent me to the ER. Yeah. There is that. The next time I heard of it was from Scabology, I follow her on Instagram and Facebook. You know how something God wants you to do will usually come up, over and over, from several different sources in a short period of time?  This was like that.  I know it was a God thing, a tender mercy. I started hearing about it  from other trauma survivors I knew in person, and those I follow on Instagram and Facebook. It seemed that this was actually helping them overcome their trauma! So I started to research it, because that is how I roll. Here is an awesome site to help you get a feel for it. You can read a FAQ here.

All I know is I do not want to feel like this anymore! I am tired.  I am exhausted. I am wrung out. I slug through everyday feeling like I am swimming in a pool with concrete weights around my wrists and ankles. It’s hard. Too hard. Nobody should feel this way because of something someone else did to them.

My angel Bishop agrees and so do my kids. So, together,  we are all starting on “Operation Recover Me.”

Friday I went to my first Intake Appointment at Addo Recovery.

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Here is me waiting for my first appointment, feeling small and vulnerable…again. I hate it when I have to tell the story all over again. I wonder how many more times I have to do this? As I think about everything that’s happened to me I start to cry again. I hate him for what he has done to me!

They are very thorough. I am impressed by their approach to healing – an overall wellness approach dealing with my entire life.


Before I ever got there they had me do a 48 page assessment online to measure my trauma.

Before I share any of the results, I knew my trauma was high. It’s nice to have that validated. I like charts and graphs and they had plenty of those. A stark picture of where I am now.  More importantly, they have a clear road map of where I need to go from here and how to get there! That is such a relief!  I can’t even tell you how amazing that is to me!

There are 8 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis according the DSM-5.  They can test for 7 of them in this assessment, the 8th one is evaluated by a therapist. I present significantly in all 7 of them. PTSD has the following 4 diagnostic clusters:

  1. Re-experiencing spontaneous memories of the event, recurring dreams, flashbacks, or other episodes of prolonged psychological distress.
  2. Avoidance – refers to upsetting thoughts, feelings or memories that are reminders or are associated with the upsetting event.  (See criteria C)
  3. Negative cognitions and mood represent and infinite number of feelings such as isolation from others, a marked diminished interest in activities, or a distorted sense of self. (See Criteria D)
  4. Arousal is marked by restlessness, aggressive, or self-destructive behavior; sleep disturbances; hypervigilism; or other related behaviors.  This is the “fight” of the body’s innate fight or flight response.

This chart shows how my ex husband’s addiction has affected the different areas of my life, past and present. Anyone who thinks that addictions only affect the person, need only look at these charts.  Addiction has a severe and profound impact on those who have relationships with the addict! The denial and blame criteria are how my Ex’s denial and blame impacted me.  What is significant here is the therapist says that this is so bad that it is what amounts to a prisoner being tortured.  I was tortured.  The lying, gaslighting, denial, minimizing, rationalizing, blaming that my Ex did to me amounts to torture.  Awesome.  No wonder I am where I am. I am messed up!  But at least I am smart enough to know it so that I don’t drag someone else through my crazy before I get myself put back together!

This next chart shows the impact on me in having an intimate relationship because of what my Ex did to me. Relational sexual difficulties is that I do not trust enough to be that vulnerable again.  As you can see, I am most impacted by issues associated with trust, body image, and I really, really want revenge!  I have always been a very trusting person, sometimes to the point of being a little naive.  Those days are long gone and I doubt they will ever return.  I fear I have swung too far the other way and I am not likely to swing back anytime soon.

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The part of the test that was most concerning to me is my stress, anxiety and depression scores. I will not show those results because they are not presented in a chart form.  However, 8 months after the divorce, my stress is still moderately high. I am not too surprised, because I have a lot of difficulty managing my stress.  I feel stress, even when there isn’t a reason to be stressed. But my anxiety and depression are still categorized as extremely high. Off the charts high. That concerned the therapist. She said people who present that high are a high risk for suicide. I don’t feel suicidal most of the time, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t cross my mind more often than it should. I have panic and anxiety attacks ALL.THE.TIME.  Sometimes, I have them because of a triggering event, but I also have them for no visible reason. Out of the blue something will just reduce me to a hot mess!  I don’t know what could happen to me under the wrong conditions. That scares me. But it’s also why I need to do this. My ex isn’t worth it. I know that now, more than ever. He is, well, not good enough to tie my shoes. The reason I divorced him was to save myself.  I best be starting that process.  It is past time.

This is why I am where I am now. The saving of me. Let “Operation Recover Me” begin! It’s time!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, Coping, healing, My Story, Narcissist

Thank You for Being an Addict

I have reached that point in my own recovery where it is time for me to move on.  Everyone.  And I mean EVERYONE is begging me to move on.  I agree with them.  It is time.

It’s time for me to stop obsessing about what my, then husband, or now ex-husband, has done or didn’t do.  It’s time for me to figure out how to put the pieces  of my life back together again.  It’s time for me to find myself.  I have been so lost.  I don’t know who I really am anymore.  I intend to find out. Today, I am walking away. Forever.

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This is my last post that will be focused on him.  He reads my blog so I am sure he gets a narcissistic high from it anyway. He doesn’t deserve that kind of attention after today. What he deserves is to suffer with the knowledge that he made the wrong choice. However, before I close the door on this chapter of my life,  I have a few ending thoughts for my Ex.  There are some things that still need to be said.  Because, well, these things are instructive and provide context for my healing. I am not the first person this has happened to, and sadly, I won’t be the last, so maybe this will help those who follow after me…

Dear Ex,

I want to thank you, first of all, for getting married.  You finally shut the door on any hope or preconceived idea that you would figure out you have an addiction and work to put your family back together again.  For the past two years, this was the wish of my heart, my only wish.  I thought about it all day and dreamed about it all night. I prayed for it by day and cried out to God for it by night.  I had faith in you to do the right thing. So many sleepless nights spent in prayer – for nothing!  You let me down. I thought I knew you.  I thought you loved me. I thought you were a man of honor, like your father. I married you because of your father, I thought you would turn out like him.  You are nothing like him!

For two years you let me know everyday through your actions that you did not care about me enough to fight for me, or even admit you had a problem you needed to fight. You didn’t really want me back, that is now painfully obvious to everyone. Especially me.  I was just too in love with you to believe that you could really not love me.  I thought it was the addiction taking over, or you were not in your right mind. I thought, given time, you would come to your senses. I thought you would remember our life of 37 years together and want that back.  I thought you would remember how much you loved your children and grandchildren, and if you couldn’t do it for me, I thought you would surely do it for them. Instead you turned against me,  and them, and then systematically turned us against you by your repeated poor choices. Thank you for that.  Thank you for leaving me and taking your horrific problem with you so I do not have to deal with this for the rest of my life!

thank-you-note

Thank you for torturing me to the point of death.  I really mean that.  Your unrelenting manipulations, gaslighting, marginalizing, rationalizations and denial of what you were doing to me took me to a point that I had to choose to live for myself or to die for you.  I was able to choose to live for me.  And now I intend to do just that!

Thank you for showing me all the worst sides of you.  Thank you for showing me that you do not respect me or other women.  Thank you for showing me how easily you could lie to to me and be so convincing at it that you broke my ability to trust anyone.  Thank you for ripping out my heart and throwing it on the ground in front of me, stomping it to death, and then rubbing the blood in my face.  I am so much smarter and wiser now because of it.

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Thank you for driving your children and grandchildren away from you.  You hurt them beyond anything I thought you were capable of, but then again, you have done many things to surprise me these last few years.  Maybe by revealing your true character to them, they will suffer less and heal faster than I will, at least that is my hope for them. Thank you for choosing your new wife over your own flesh and blood.  The irony of this will be clear in a minute, just keep reading.

Thank you for cheating on the cheaters!  If you were more clever you would never allow this to happen.  You should have known there is nothing worse than a woman scorned, and they will ALWAYS go tell the wife to get even!  Thank you for the weird friendships I formed with all of your “throw-aways.”  Each one let me know, in their own way, that this wasn’t about me.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to listen to their stories, hear them cry, and try to comfort them. Thank you for providing a way for me to hear about the lessons they also learned from you.  We are all so much sadder, but wiser for having known you. I learned from them that you were so out of control in your life that you just refused to be satiated by your own needs, wants, and lusts.  From them, I learned that this had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with you and your addiction.  An addiction that you STILL refuse to admit you have.

And finally, thank you for proving to me that I was right 8 years ago when I discovered your first affair, and I have been right all along! You proved this to me by cheating on your new wife, all during your courtship, the day you were married, and clear into the week after you got married!  You spent countless hours texting, sexting and leading on one woman, a widow – no less,  while you were courting your new wife. I don’t know how you live with yourself!?1d4434f48e2a223d16797413b7bdd213

I am sure your new wife would be horrified to know this, I know I was!  But it was also strangely cathartic for me too.  In fact, I laughed out loud!  But for only a minute.  Until it dawned on me that she is your victim too and you are more than an addict. This in nothing to laugh at – You are a predator.  You exploit women and use them for your own selfish purposes.  This fetish of yours will ultimately be your undoing. This is NOT just about making “friendships” and “connections.”  Videos of you masturbating while calling out a woman’s name who is not your new wife, isn’t just a “friendship.”  Someone should talk to you about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior with the opposite sex when you are courting or married.

Someone should tell your new wife the kind of man she married. I am sure she doesn’t know. Someone should tell her family. But it won’t be me.  She wouldn’t believe me anyway.  But I do have proof of it, should anyone care to see it.  Women who have been scorned by you get very upset!  They keep proof of your escapades and they will use it to blackmail you.  They have done this for 2 years.  What I cannot understand, is that if you don’t really have an addiction, why you keep giving them ammunition to shoot you with? And now I, also, have more ammunition to shoot you with.  But I won’t, at least for now.  You just are not worth my effort.  Eventually, you will shoot yourself in the foot.  You already have. It’s just a matter of time before you do it again.  I don’t need to do anything, but sit back and watch you self destruct!  You do not even have enough sense or self control to pull yourself together.

hand-washing

What is worth my effort is to wash my hands of you having the satisfaction that I was right all along!  I was right about everything!  I was right about all your affairs, all your lies, all your secrets, all your prentending to want your family back, your fake indignation, and your strange acts in tawdry places.  My gut told me.  My therapists told me to trust my gut. And my gut and I were right – YOU HAVE AN ADDICTION AND YOU CANNOT CONTROL YOURSELF!  That should be painfully obvious to everyone by now, including you! But even your most recent shocking behavior is still probably not enough to awaken you to your awful situation!  You lost everything in your life that mattered to you because you were just too prideful to admit you had a problem and get help.  You chose to marry a woman you were cheating on, OVER YOUR OWN CHILDREN!  Oh the irony! I am still struggling to understand how a sane man does something like this to his children? Nevermind, what you did to me!

So I am finally FREE of you, and my nightmare is now truly ending. I am fully awake to the kind of man you have become.  Thank you for that too. This person you are now is NOT the man I fell in love with and married.  You are NOT him! He was a kind, and thoughtful man who loved the Lord and would not hurt anyone! I don’t know you anymore, this “thing” you have become now. You are monster parading around in a man’s body. I am so thankful to be rid of you!

However, I am sorry that your nightmare is just beginning, and it will continue until you admit you have a serious problem and get help for it.  It is going to take a lot for you to hear the siren alarm of your wake up call.  That much is painfully obvious by now.  You are a pretty slow learner and a poor student. If you haven’t figured this out by now, it’s doubtful you will until you are in a dire place of your own making, if ever.  IF, or when, that day finally comes, I fear your wake up call is going to be very harsh!  I will feel very sorry for you on that day – but also satified.  I will be able to tell you that I am sorry, just don’t expect me to do much more than that.  It is, after all, exactly what you have done for me, your children, and grandchildren. You are sorry, alright, but you can’t do more than say you are sorry.  Hollow sounding words. Don’t expect much more than that from me when you finally hit bottom – HARD!

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This I can promise you – all of this WILL come back to bite you in the butt, it always does. Karma ALWAYS comes around, and the piper ALWAYS has to be paid, and God ALWAYS requires an atonement for sins. You cannot cheat on life. The only person you are really lying to and deceiving, is yourself and now, your new wife.  Poor thing!  You will be found out for who you really have become.  Your new wife isn’t going to be kept in the dark by your lies for very long either. You can’t keep your addiction a secret and you cannot pretend it doesn’t exist.  It does.  The sooner you get yourself help, the better off everyone will be. Ironically, that has been my request of you from the beginning!  If only you had listened to me then! The saddest word of tongue or pen, the saddest of these, “It might have been.”

So here we are.  You are not my problem anymore.  You are HER problem!  And for that, I thank you most of all! You did me a favor.

With Gratitude, 

Me

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

Side Note:

In my group I was supposed to write a gratitude letter to you.  I could never write mine for some reason.  I wasn’t grateful to you for anything you did to me for the past two years.  I really struggled finding things I could be grateful to you for.  So thank you!  Thank you for allowing me to finally find my gratitude for you!

A Note to My Ex’s Family & Friends:

If you care anything about him at all, the best thing you can do for him, his family and the people he continues to hurt is to not enable him.  Stop saving him!  Tell him what you think about his behavior and encourage him to go get help! Your silence is approval to him.  Do you really approve of this?

abuse, addiction, betrayal, Blame, denial, divorce, gaslighting, minimizing, My Story, Narcissist, repentance, Triggers

Sorry. Not Sorry

Our Anniversary would have been Monday.

It would have been thirty-eight years. 38. That is a lifetime. My whole life. Mostly wasted on a man who became emotionally and morally bankrupt. This week, for me, has been filled with shame, regret and deep sadness. I am in mourning.  I mourn what we had in the beginning. I mourn what could have been. What might have been. If my husband was capable of making good choices. If he would have chosen to get into recovery and worked to save our family. He did not. So here I am. Alone. Hurting. Torn to shreds. And working with all my energy to find new meaning in my life. Trying hard to find my purpose. Wanting so badly to heal.


Crying has become my friend again this week. It was inevitable. One step forward, two steps back in my healing. I cry frequently. Still. But this week, it’s an everyday thing…again. That is how healing the hurt happens. It is moments of calm and clarity until the next wave of grief crashes down on me with no notice.  This is my state mind this week.


And this happens…

Out of the blue, even though he is not supposed to contact me at all, he sends me an email. I made the mistake of reading it. I don’t know why I did. I shouldn’t have. But I did.

Now, instead of being just a mess, I am a hot mess.

Then it occurred to me that his email is a perfect example of gaslighting and its effects on the recipient. It is also therapeutic for me to write out my thoughts so I can process them.  So, I decided to share this and use it as instruction on what gaslighting looks like. I am hoping that it will help you to understand gaslighting better so you will be able to recognize it when it happens to you. So here is his email in its entirety:


“As this time of year approaches I always think, mostly with fondness, of our many years together and am thankful for it. We started from nothing to build and grow a good family who will continue to grow throughout mortality into the eternities. 

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of what I’ve done to affect our family and each individual’s life. That’s the hardest part of repentance – even though I may have spent the required time separated from the Church and have a change of heart and even try to repair feelings and relationships, I will always know that I’ve done a terrible thing that has affected the lives of those who I love and care about the most.

I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ so many times over the past 2+ years (most times sincerely, but sometimes not) that I’m sure they end up sounding like only words. I know that my actions haven’t always matched those words. 

While I don’t understand the divorce completely, I do understand that you felt strongly that you needed to do it and, as you’ve told me, that you would have eventually divorced me anyway. I do realize that was a tough decision for you.

I want to apologize again. I am sorry for letting this into our family and letting selfishness and pride lead us to where we are now. I am sorry for all the lies that I’ve told and all the secrets I’ve kept and all the attention I paid to other women instead of you. I am sorry that I have broken the sacred covenants that I made to Heavenly Father and that we made to each other. I am sorry that the things I’ve done will affect you, our children, our grandchildren, and even future generations. I am sorry that what could have been will never be.

As we approach a date that someday may just become another day, it’s hard to not think of you. what I’ve done, and all that we have lost.

I continue you to pray for you, The kids, as well as the grandkids. I pray that the Atonement will help all of you to be comforted and to be made whole again from all the pain, sorrow and trauma I have caused.

I am truly sorry.”

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Oh, this sounds so lovely! Doesn’t it? 

It would be lovely, if it was coming from a healthy person. But coming from an addict this email is filled with lies and manipulations. Like my therapist friend said, “This isn’t an apology, it is a self-serving piece of crap! It is a manipulation, graduate level manipulation.”

I agree.  At least my core being agrees, because the number of triggers from this email were astronomical.  I am still having them, two days later!

Let’s dissect  it, shall we?

He is so fond of me that he doesn’t even address me in the email by name…

As this time of year approaches I always think, mostly with fondness, of our many years together and am thankful for it. We started from nothing to build and grow a good family who will continue to grow throughout mortality into the eternities. 

Wait, what? He sounds so nostalgic and full of reflection. Fondness? Our marriage was just destroyed! By his bad choices. He is speaking like we are just apart for the weekend in separate cities for our anniversary and he misses me. Our family is destroyed! He broke it. Now he is so proud of what we built together? This is so emotionally bankrupt and so far removed from the reality of what the rest of us are feeling that it is mind numbing. Truly.

This next paragraph was so triggering that it is hard to know how to even speak about it. So let’s go line by line.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of what I’ve done to affect our family and each individual’s life. 

If it bothers you that much then why don’t you fix it? But, you don’t fix anything, so you must be content with your life the way it is! You must be ok with what you have done to your family! 

That’s the hardest part of repentance – even though I may have spent the required time separated from the Church…

Umm, we called his Bishop before Thanksgiving. He hasn’t been to church since he moved 7 months ago. The Bishop never heard of him. The last time we talked to his Bishop was on December 22nd. He was going to call him. His former Bishop told me that until he “get’s it” and can do the restitution part of repentance, that he is a long way, years, from getting his blessings back.  But he is in denial about that too.  He makes it sound like his re-baptism is just around the corner…it’s not. It will be years, and quite possibly never at the rate he is going.  The first step is you need to go to church. But he takes every opportunity to TELL us how much he is repenting. However, there is NO evidence of this.

Spending the “required time away from the Church” does not repentance make. Full repentance requires the work of restitution. You don’t just wait it out.  Repentance is work! Hard work.  Gut wrenching work.  It’s painful.  It is  supposed to be, so he never does it again.

…and have a change of heart 

He hasn’t had a change of heart! If he had a change of heart then he would be a changed man. He is still cheating! That isn’t a change of heart! I talk about a change of heart in another blog post.  This isn’t that.

and even try to repair feelings and relationships, 

He has done nothing to repair relationships, for anyone. But he likes to say it. A lot. Then he uses these declarations of repentance to manipulate us into his twisted way of thinking. He thinks if he says it enough then we will all BELIEVE him! Then he accuses us of being unforgiving of him and not giving him a chance. After all, he is “doing everything he can to fix this.” But his words, as lovely and convincing as they sound, do not match his actions.  This is gaslighting in all its glory! Changing the reality of another person in order to cause them to doubt their own feelings and experiences. Another word for it is “crazymaking.”  And it really does make me feel like I am going crazy! I hate it!

I will always know that I’ve done a terrible thing that has affacted the lives of those who I care about the most…

He knows he has done a terrible thing. But he will not DO anything constructive to fix it. Even when we give him specific things we need him to do. He doesn’t want to do what we need him to do so he just says he is sorry and calls it good! He brushes off any request given to him as if he didn’t hear it or that he somehow doesn’t understand.  Playing stupid is NOT being sorry.


Case in point: 
I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ so many times over the past 2+ years (most times sincerely, but sometimes not) that has affected the lives of those who I love and care about the most.

Again, if he is even cognitively aware of this, in any meaningful way, then why does he DO NOTHING to repair the damage he has done to those who he is supposed to care about the most? He is sorry like a two-year old is sorry for taking his sister’s toy. He says he is sorry, but doesn’t give the toy back. That isn’t sorry.

I’m sure they end up sounding like only words. I know that my actions haven’t always matched those words.

“Sounding like only words?” If he knows that his word are hollow then why doesn’t he change that?  Why does he insist on doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results?

“Haven’t always?” How about never!  He isn’t in any kind of counseling. He isn’t in 12-steps. He doesn’t have a Sponsor. He isn’t even seeing his Bishop! So how is he learning how to relate to what he has done and know how to fix it in any meaningful way? The answer is, he doesn’t! He can’t. He is stuck in the echo chamber of his own head, with zero feedback from anyone but himself. So he just says and does the same things over and over with no real improvement in his thinking nor does he have any ability to change his behavior.

He can’t gain his integrity back because he will not take counsel on how to do that from anyone besides himself. He is on the “physician heal thyself” plan. It will never work! Never.  No matter how much he wills it.  Brain dysfunction cannot heal itself.

While I don’t understand the divorce completely, I do understand that you felt strongly that you needed to do it and, as you’ve told me, that you would have eventually divorced me anyway. I do realize that was a tough decision for you.

This is an attempt, once again, to manipulate me into feeling guilty for divorcing him. I hate it when he does this to me! It is despicable! Nevermind that he never stopped cheating on me for 3 solid years. He never stopped lying to me about it. And he said he didn’t have an addiction. But he really believes, deep down in his core that I should have stayed with him to work it out. Work out what?  You cannot work on a problem if the person with the problem has their head so far up their butt they can’t even see how much they are in denial. Never mind, that his cheating and lies were KILLING me. Doesn’t matter to him. I was slowly dying. He didn’t care. And he wasn’t doing anything to stop his awful behavior. Nah, he’s right, I should have just stayed with him and continued to let him abuse me! But he doesn’t understand why I divorced him? I can’t make him “get it.” Believe me, I tried. Maybe someone else can explain it to him.



I want to apologize again. I am sorry for letting this into our family and letting selfishness and pride lead us to where we are now. 

Again. Talk is cheap. He is sorry. I’ve heard it a thousand times by now.  I STILL do not believe him. Why?  Because he refused to get help to stop doing these things. He remains selfish and prideful. Nothing has changed.  His version of sorry is what the scriptures call, “the sorrow of the damned.”


 I am sorry for all the lies that I’ve told and all the secrets I’ve kept and all the attention I paid to other women instead of you. I am sorry that I have broken the sacred covenants that I made to Heavenly Father and that we made to each other. I am sorry that the things I’ve done will affect you, our children, our grandchildren, and even future generations. I am sorry that what could have been will never be.


Well, that is certainly a lot of “I’m sorry’s!”

One thousand one… one thousand two…one thousand three… one thousand four…

Maybe if he says if enough we will believe him? Again, nothing to back up those words. What triggered me most about this part is the last line. “He is sorry for what could have been, but will never be”…wow!  I have told him at least a hundred times. Literally.  That if he got into recovery and really got his act together, I would be willing to go back to him and work it out! Even now. This is because I know he has a brain illness. When he is willing to seek help for his illness, I could be willing to assist him in that healing. He knows this. But he uses it as a stick to beat me with. He might as well have said; “I don’t have an addiction. I never did. You accused me of something I didn’t do. The break up of our marriage is your fault! You can’t see what the real problem is. He still won’t or can’t say what he thinks the REAL problem is. So this is your fault. I wish I could fix it, but I can’t because you won’t let me!  This is YOUR fault!” That is what he is saying to me in that line, I know this, because he HAS said it to me, over and over, in person. I have been blamed so much for his bad behavior, that I almost started to believe him too!  Denial is insidious! Again, he is trying to change the reality. This is called blame and turning the tables and it is another form of manipulation caused by denial.

As we approach a date that someday may just become another day, it’s hard to not think of you. 

Our anniversary, will never become “just another day” to me. We stated our eternal family on this day, filled with so much hope and promise. It ended in so much heartbreak because of a man who broke he covenants and then refused to lift a finger to repair the damage he has done. He still refuses. He killed the hope. He broke the promises.

I wish he had thought of me when he was cheating on me dozens of times over the past 3 years. Maybe if he had thought of me, just once, we wouldn’t be here now. It wasn’t hard for him to not think of me when was in all those other relationships.  I am pretty sure he didn’t think of me once.

what I’ve done, and all that we have lost.

If his losses mean so much to him then why isn’t he working hard to get them back? Wouldn’t any average person at least try? He used to like to tell me, “he will do everything he can to get his family back!” Well, he isn’t very resourceful, or imaginative or dedicated to doing everything. He has hardly lifted a finger. That just tells me that he doesn’t really want us very much. He just wants to say it to make himself feel better about his choices. That is what this boils down to – he likes his life without us.

I continue you to pray for you, and the kids, as well as the grandkids. I pray that the Atonement will help all of you to be comforted and to be made whole again from all the pain, sorrow and trauma I have caused.


He expects God to do all the heavy lifting for him. God will fix it. He is in the clear! I have news for him. That isn’t how it works. Christ said:

15 Therefore I command you to repent–repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore–how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink–

Doctrine & Covenants 19:15-18

I am truly sorry,

He really isn’t sorry. This email was written to assuage his own guilty conscience. He was feeling badly, so he wanted me to feel sorry for him. That was the purpose of the email. It wasn’t written to help or heal me. All it did was wound. This email was a torture to me because he wrote down all the ways he doesn’t care about me enough to move him into any sort of action. He is feeling guilty that he doesn’t care about his family anymore. In fact, he doesn’t care about us so much that he wanted to tell us that he still refuses to do anything to make our lives better. This email screams,”I don’t care about you, I never cared about you, and I will never care about you enough to ease the pain I have caused you! Oh, but, by the way, I am sorry.”

Yep, he is not sorry. But one day he will be. God will see to that.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

 

 

 

abuse, addiction, betrayal, Blame, Choices, divorce, Narcissist

So Much Hurt!

Someday All that Hurt Will Meet Justice  – I Want to Be There When it Happens

As I have talked to, and read the stories of other women who are going through the same thing I am, I am struck by the commonality of hurt we all share. So much hurt is being experienced by so many. It’s the SAME HURT! What is stunning is that none of it should have happened to any of us. Men were given a sacred trust:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”

God cannot be happy with the way His sons are abusing his daughters in this way. He makes his position very clear in scripture.  Marriage isn’t something you just walk away from because you just don’t take it seriously anymore. Love is a choice.

3 Nephi 12:

27 Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery;

28 But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.

29 Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart;

30 For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.”

I am shocked by how our stories are woven with a thread that is the same. The sameness is mind numbing. It has gotten to the point that I can predict with nearly 100% accuracy what is coming when I hear a new story. For example:

I recently had a friend tell me her husband just up and told her out of the blue that he wanted a divorce. And he blamed her for it. That is the commonality: blame. Men can’t handle their own crap. So they blame it on their wives. I told her he had been cheating on her. She didn’t think so. It turns out, she found out a week later, that he was having affairs.

Now I understand how counselors and professionals can predict porn and sex addiction behaviors with complete accuracy. It makes sense  to me now how these men also develop narcissism. Addiction takes over the pre-frontal cortex of the brain and eat it up like swiss cheese.  The pre-frontal cortex is the place of reason, the seat of humanity and humility, this is the place human connection happens, and this is the part of the brain that controls basic virtues like honesty and love. They have lost their humanity. Their hearts have turned cold. They become sub-human. Self consumed. Doing or saying anything to justify their disgusting behavior. They all act the same because they all suffer from the same disease. The symptoms are identical. After a while, if you are observant, you can predict it with ease. It’s easy because they literally all do the same damn thing! As long as they persist in their addiction there is NOTHING anyone can do.  They cannot control themselves unless they make the choice to seek recovery.

These men think they can cheat with impunity. They think they are immune from accountability. All they need to do is to blame their wives for their own failures to be good husbands and fathers. They get off Scott free, so to speak!   These low life’s succeed in convincing countless numbers of women that their infidelity is their  wife’s fault. These trusting women believe these lies because if the person they loved and trusted the most is saying it, then it must be true!  I was no different. God is not so easily deceived and he isn’t amused by the way they turn the tables on his daughters.

Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, spoke about it with plainness. So much so that even a narcissistic sex addict can understand:

Jacob 2:

9 Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God, to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds.

10 But, notwithstanding the greatness of the task, I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God.

These men who try to rationalize their behaviors are in for a rude awakening when the Father of us all makes his final judgment. I fear those excuses, the blaming and rationalization, will all melt under the fire of His all-seeing eye! Nothing they can say or do then will save them. Heaven knows I tried to save my Cheater from what he is going to get. God gave me to him to counsel with him. To help him make good choices. To be his helpmeet. If he couldn’t listen to the counsel God gave him through me, he isn’t likely to listen to the same counsel from Him directly.

Jacob 2:

14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.

15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust!

Sounds pretty plain to me! But maybe I am wrong on this? My narcissistic sex addicted ex husband certainly thinks so! I think God disagrees with him. I find it the height of narcissism to think that you know more than God. But what do I know?

Jacob 2:

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.

32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.

33 For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.

34 And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.

35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. 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.

I try not to be vengeful. “Vengeance is mine, thus saith the Lord.” But I can say it won’t make me sad to see him suffer the same thing he inflicted on me and our children and grandchildren. I suspect being forced to watch the replay of exactly what he did to us will be more than enough punishment. I really feel that what I want more than anything is to watch his face as he finally has that “Oh crap! What did I do?” moment. I want to watch him when he sees the depth of his lies and denial finally come to the surface. That will be a very bittersweet moment for me.

This moment of self actualization is the only thing that will finally allow me to heal, to have total peace. It is one thing to be wronged. Deeply betrayed. But it is quite another for the one who wronged you to then turn and blame you for their bad behavior. I know that a just God will not allow that to be the case forever. Someday the piper will be paid. I just ask that I can watch. I don’t even want to say anything. At that point I won’t need to. I just want to watch it. And then turn and walk away for the last time. I think I deserve that kind of closure.

And I am not the only one.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

abuse, addiction, betrayal, Emotional, Narcissist

Narcissism & Sex Addiction: Twins of Pain

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Timothy 3:2-5

My ex-husband was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder shortly after I discovered his “first” affair over 9 years ago.  The more I read up on it, the more despondent I became.  I couldn’t see him taking this seriously at all.  It turns out he didn’t. Medication and therapy were short-lived.  He pushed them off as being unnecessary, too expensive, and he was in complete control of himself. Being a narcissist, alone, ensured that he will not believe he had a problem to begin with, or if he could be convinced that he did have a problem, eventually, he would believe he was aweome enough  to overcome it on its own.  Timageshat is exactly what happened.

The reason we divorced is because he would not, could not, admit he had a problem.  I had let it slide the first time, this time I could not.  He would have to admit to his problem or lose me. But like the fabled Narcissus, he would rather be in love with his image of himself than find true love in a real woman.

What is Narcissism?

Many experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.

This is where the alliance between narcissism and sex addiction become difficult to understand.  Each condition carries so many of the same symptoms and characteristics that it becomes difficult to know which disorder to treat first.  recent studies show that treating the sex addiction piece first greatly reduces the symptoms of NPD.

The Research On Narcissism And Sex Addiction

In a recent study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, a team of researchers set out to uncover whether there is a link between sex addiction and narcissism in both male and female sex addicts.

The research team was able to quantify the level of narcissism using three metrics:

  • The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)
  • Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI)
  • Index of Sexual Narcissism (ISN)

The study revealed that subjects who had watched internet pornography at any point in their lives showed higher instances of narcissistic personality traits. But, more importantly, both male and female subjects who watched internet pornography daily were more likely than every other group to have a narcissistic personality. Also, the more porn they watched, the more narcissistic they were likely to be. Read more here.

Narcissism and sex addiction are fellow travelers because they feed on each other. Both draw on the addict’s core beliefs about being unlovable, unworthy and alone. Narcissistic over-entitlement allows the addict to feel justified in his or her sexually addictive behavior and avoid the shame that would otherwise surround the behavior, and sex addiction leads the addict into a progressively more isolated and self-centered life in which his or her narcissism reigns supreme. Sex addicts do not meet their emotional needs in real relationships but rather in the fantasy laden encounters of their addiction. The acting out sex addict is the consummate narcissist who controls the whole show and thus stays safe.” ~ Linda Hatch PhD

Almost everyone on the planet has at least a little bit of self-love. That’s the element that gives people confidence and magnetism, and it’s the sort of personality attribute that can make a person seem attractive or even powerful. But humility is also an important part of the psyche of a healthy adult, as it allows people to respect others and balance the needs of the self against the needs of society as a whole. When that balance is upset and people love themselves more than their neighbors, narcissism could be at play, and that could lead to addiction.

It is not surprise that the narcissist and the sex addict share a lot of the same traits.

Treating The Narcissistic Sex Addict

Narcissistic sex addicts are perhaps the hardest to treat. They use grandiosity and a façade of self-confidence to present as though they are indestructible, but this could not be further from the truth. Narcissism is a defense mechanism of the psyche; it protects what is, in truth, a fragile ego and a very low sense of self-worth. Most narcissists grew up with inadequate caregiving—emotional or physical abuse, or inconsistent care or neglect—and carry these wounds with them into adulthood. Their strong need for validation likely comes from the a lack of a coherent bond with mother or father (or other guardians). A strong sense of entitlement may also exist in individuals who were consistently provided for materially, rather than emotionally. The resultant emotional deficits may manifest as sexual addiction, but as hard as narcissism is to treat, it is not impossible. Those clinicians who have the most success approach their clients with compassion, non-judgment and honesty, and those sex addicts who express narcissistic traits who have the greatest degree of success are those willing to acknowledge their problem and to ask for help. Read More Here.

As is true for every addict, recovery requires that they undertake a fearless inventory of how their behaviors have affected others. Only then does recovery begin and their relationships begin to thrive. It is not an exaggeration that many narcissistic sex addicts need to be admitted to a treatment facility to be able to get a handle on their issues enough to heal.

For those living with the recovering, narcissistic addict, it is important that you recognize the damage the relationship has caused you and establish the you that was lost in the process through your own recovery. It is important that both spouses seek help.  This is too big to overcome alone and if your husband will not seek help, you will especially need the additional support.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

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.

cheating

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

6-tips-for-scrip-study-517x268-2012-09-20

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!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, betrayal, denial, Emotional, gaslighting, lying, minimizing, Narcissist

He Said…She Said; The Denial Effect

The one thing keeping an addict from getting into recovery is DENIAL. Denial starts with the declaration, “I don’t have a problem!”  This is usually followed by, “You’re the problem!” Or some variation. And then the trauma begins. The more emphatic the denial by the addict, the deeper the trauma to the wife. I can only describe it as “crazymaking,” because that is what it is. The addict will go to great lengths to deny he is an addict and it will literally drive you to distraction if you don’t recognize it and learn how to deal with it. He will twist and tie every piece of “proof” you have of his addiction into knots, doing the most astounding mental and emotional gymnastics you have EVER been privileged to witness, until you will almost believe it yourself. Or you might just give in because the barrage of verbal warfare is relentless. Trying to argue or reason with an addict is futile. It’s a waste of time, energy and breathe. Which is one reason I kept a journal and kept records of all the proof I had of his encounters with other women. I have electronic and hard copies. So whenever I would start to fall prey to his “crazymaking” I could go back and look at the evidence and read my journal and remember what really happened. I’m not the crazy one. He is.

46466-quotes-about-people-in-denialIt took me a long time to come to this realization because my Cheater was one of the most reasonable and logical people I knew. It’s quite a role reversal when I am the more reasonable and logical person in the relationship. So it was extremely difficult to wrap my brain around this new warped person standing in front of me. Any encounters with him sent me running for cover in self-defense. I literally felt like I was under gun and mortar fire all.the.time.  I could hardly tolerate the constant lies and accusations. He almost had ME convinced that his addiction was MY FAULT and that he was the victim.

I am not the only one to experience this. Soon after I went “no contact” with him, he started doing the same thing with my kids. It’s one thing for him to drag me through the warped and sicko maze of the bizarre “fun house” of his mind, but it is quite another thing to watch him do it to my kids! They are adults so I couldn’t do anything about it except sit by and watch him do the same thing to them that he had done to me. This was and is just one more layer to the trauma he has put our family through.

three-monkeys

If you have ever been around an addict then you know exactly what I am talking about. If not, let me take you through a few of the denial tactics, along with some personal examples to show you what each tactic of denial looks like. If you are in a relationship with an addict then you will recognize most, if not all of them. Understanding the role of denial in sex addiction with help you know where you are in your relationship with the addict and what needs to happen next.

  • Lying – Addicts lie about everything, even stuff they don’t need to lie about.  They cannot seem to tell the truth…at all. They will say anything, do anything to protect their secret world from being discovered.  The problem is that the lying is pretty obvious because the damage done to the brain by the addiction makes it nearly impossible for them to keep track of all the lies. If your husband spends a great amount of time lying and covering his tracks he is in denial. Honesty is a hallmark of a healthy relationship.  If your husband is lying to you then something is wrong.
    • She said: My ex-husband was frequently “let go” or “changed” jobs unexpectedly.  When I would hear him interviewing on the phone, I would catch him telling potential employers numerous lies, small lies, but lies nevertheless. So I would ask him, “why did you lie about…?”
    • He said: “Well, everyone lies when they are being interviewed, it’s how the game is played.”
    • Other examples: Often they cannot account for where they have been.  Coming home late from work. Suddenly getting lots of calls  from “wrong numbers” and not being able to explain them away. Clicking out of apps or computer pages when you walk in the room and then lying about it.
  • Playing the Victim –  This is the one denial tactic that hurt me more than all the others, except for the gaslighting.  I had a terrible time understand how he could act like he was the one who was the victim?  I didn’t really want the victim role, I have never been fond of using it, but it was insulting that he acted like I was the one who hurt him!
    • He said: “I just don’t understand why you are not more supportive of me? You left me, I didn’t leave you! So you are the one who just doesn’t love me anymore.  If you loved me you would have stayed with me and worked with me.”
    • She said: Wow!  This was a tough pill to swallow when he would blast me with this one, which he did nearly every time we talked.  The worst part of this one is that I think he really believes himself when he says it! I moved out to get myself to a safe place because he refused to come clean from the very beginning and he continued to lie and cover up his affairs.  If at any point he would have stopped the affairs, gotten into recovery and provide me with safety, I would have moved back in with him and “worked with him,” but he was unable or unwilling to do these bare minimum steps.  So I couldn’t come back.  It wasn’t ever safe enough to do so, no matter how much I wanted to do it. The truth is that when he started having affairs with other women, he left me first.  This seems lost on him.
    • Other examples: “I just can’t help it.” “You won’t work with me.” “You just don’t love me anymore.” “I will never be able to repent from this because you will never forgive me.” If you were more supportive of me then I could overcome this.”
  • Entitlement – This is used by the addict when he feels he has the right to behave a certain way. He will somehow feel he is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Entitlement is often behind the addicts belief that he is SPECIAL, that he doesn’t have an addiction.  Those addicts who feel they are entitled believe they are the exception and not the rule.
    • He said: “After all I have done for you over the years you owe it to me to give me the benefit of the doubt.”
    • She said: He is not entitled to cash checks in the trust account after infidelity.  Trust is something that is earned, he is not entitled to it, and especially not after having online affairs, unchecked, for a year.
    • Other examples: “I am different, I am not a full-blown addict like the other guys in my group.” “I work hard to support my wife and kids, and I’m productive at my job. I think that I deserve a little reward. I mean it can’t be all work and no play, right? So if I go online for a little while here and there to look at porn, nobody should complain, because I deserve this little escape.”
  • Blame – Essentially, addicts see themselves at being at the mercy of the words or actions of other people. They are assigning their responsibility for a fault or a wrong doing to others, usually their wife and family members.  Often an addict will not accept responsibility for acting out even when he is caught. With the addict, it is usually someone else’s fault.  Sometimes the addict will take partial responsibility, but them blame his wife for the rest.  This is recognized when the addict says, “Yes, this is my fault, BUT…”  There should be no “BUT” when an addict takes real responsibility! The addicts blaming can be devastating to the betrayed wife!  It is appalling to have your husband blame you for their wrong choices.  This often leaves the wife wondering if there might be some truth to his twisted thinking.
    • He said: “If you would have stayed with me then I wouldn’t keep cheating on you.  You left me all alone so of course I kept cheating.  If you had been with me I wouldn’t have any reason to be with other women.”
    • She said: “So you do not have enough self-control to keep your core principles without me around to make sure you don’t cheat?” This is blaming at it’s finest!  With this sort of logic it is totally my fault he was unfaithful!  Not!  This is a core issue with addicts, they seem to lack agency or accountability.  This is another way you can tell if your husband is serious about recovery, HE WILL BE ACCOUNTABLE for his own actions!
    • Other examples: “My wife is such a nag.” “She constantly criticizes everything I do.” “She’s boring in bed. She never wants to try anything new, and she doesn’t care if I’m enjoying things or not.” The  other women I meet on Ashley Madison are totally different. They like me the way I am, and they’re willing to let me do what I want.”

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These next three are very similar and are often used by the addict together in the same sentence.

  • Justification –  is when an addict tries to show their actions are right or reasonable. Often you can recognize a justification by the use of the word JUST.  “I was just doing…”, “It was just a little….”, “You just don’t understand…”.
    • He said: “I only acted out sexually with other women a few times online.  After that we were just talking.  Don’t you understand?  I was just talking to them.”
    • She said: Even if he had not ever acted out online sexually and had only been talking to other women in chatroom, this is still cheating in most women’s eyes. Anytime your husband turns he attention to another women that is time he should have been investing in you!  That is cheating you out of your relationship with him! As far as the sexual piece goes, the number of times doesn’t matter to a wife.  One time is too many! There is no JUST when we are talking about cheating!
    • Other examples:“Everyone is doing it.” “We were separated so I just didn’t think it mattered.” “All you do is criticize me.” “I was just flirting, it’s no big deal.”
  • Minimization – This is trying to reduce the seriousness of the addicts behaviors to the smallest possible amount or degree.  To the wife, minimizing her feelings of betrayal signal that her husband is unsafe because he really doesn’t “get it” or understand what he has really done to her. Minimizing is a sure sign that the wife is not safe to trust her husband.
    • She said: Often I would have the feeling that my Ex was still cheating on me, even when he said he wasn’t.  I would confront him with the feeling and he would tell me he wasn’t (lying).  Later on, I would find out he was “chatting” with some woman online. When I confronted him with the evidence…
    • He said: “Yes, I was chatting with so and so online, but it wasn’t anything.  We were just talking. I didn’t tell you because I knew you wouldn’t understand. But it was nothing.” If it was really nothing, he wouldn’t have hidden it.
    • Other examples: “I’m not hurting anyone, and I’m not putting myself in any danger. I mean everyone knows that it’s just a one-time thing and we’re not going to fall in love. And I can tell right away when someone is into drugs or weird stuff, just from what they write or text me, so I don’t get into dicey situations. This just isn’t a big deal.” “This website isn’t that bad, we mostly just hang out in chatrooms and talk.  It’s the way I relax at the end of a stressful day.  It isn’t any different from you being on Facebook.”
  • Rationalization – Is making excuses to justify an unwanted behavior.  Often a rationalization will appear to be logical and well thought out, but the underlying purpose of it is to avoid the true explanation. They are false and often inconsistent excuses for specific behaviors.
    • She said: “Why did you just go and make this worse by acting out with women in person?”
    • He said: “After I was excommunicated I figured it didn’t matter anymore so if I was being accused of cheating I decided I might as well go off and have sex with a real person. I mean, really, how could that be any worse?”
    • Other examples: “I’m not having affairs like a lot of other people I know. All I’m doing is looking at porn, playing a few virtual reality sex games and occasionally getting off on a webcam. I don’t even know anybody’s real name. So this isn’t cheating. And if my partner thinks it is, that’s his problem, not mine.”
  • Turning the Tables – Also know as manipulation, is a tactic used by the addict to change the situation or focus so that he has changed positions with his spouse.  This often happens when a wife confronts the addict about a specific behavior.  The addict will find a way to turn the tables to make it about his wife’s perceived problem so the focus is taken off of his problem.
    • She said: “I really wish you wouldn’t ignore me, if we are going to repair our relationship then we need to work on improving our connection.”
    • He said: “Well, if you hadn’t moved out and left me then we would be living in the same house and we could connect everyday! If we are not connecting then it’s probably because you do not live in the same house as me.”
    • Other examples: How to spot manipulation.
  • Gaslighting – manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.  It is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill anxiety and confusion in their victim’s.
    • She said: “I just really feel like you are still cheating on me.” I would say this after going through a period of time where he would distance himself from me, not call or text and then completely ignore me.  This happened over and over.  So I would ask him about what is going on with.
    • He said: “I can’t believe you don’t trust me, I have given you no reason not to trust me and here you are again, accusing me of things I did not do! How can we ever get back together if you are constantly questioning everything I do?  I go to counseling with you.  I attended the recovery program with you, like you wanted me to, what more do you want from me?  Nothing I do is ever enough for you! You will never forgive me!
    • Other examples: Read more about gaslighting here, here, and here.

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All the above tactics were used on me quite extensively.  This is why I had to go NO CONTACT with my Cheater and it will probably stay that way until he comes out of denial on his own. An addict in denial is dangerous to your mental and emotional health.  That isn’t an exaggeration either. I ended up being suicidal because my husband was in absolute denial. He even went so far as to claim the mental health professionals working with him said he was not suffering from an addiction, but something else. The problem is that he would never define what that “something else” was. Later, when I talked to his counselors and church leaders about what I was experiencing on the other end of his “problem” they each agreed that his was deep in addiction, and that he had been less than honest with them about the extent of his problems. This is a huge issue with denial because if they cannot be honest with themselves about what they have done then they cannot be honest with their counselors either. In this state there is no moving forward. The addict is stuck. And so is his family. A problem cannot be addressed or fixed if the person with the problem can’t even see that they have a problem! This leaves the family no other choice than to stand by and helplessly watch as their loved one spirals out of control. There is NOTHING anyone can do until the addict hits the bottom. Here is an article you may find useful on the stages of denial.

The longer the addict stays in denial the more grim the chances are of repairing your relationship. My husband’s addiction went on unchecked and untreated, in any significant way, for 3 solid years. That is plenty long for him to have developed a full-blown addiction.

So how do you know if your man is in denial about his sex addiction? As you can see from some of the above examples, usually,  it’s pretty easy to tell. This list is a pretty good place to start. Almost everyone can tell except the addict. It is also really easy to tell if they are in recovery or not by the frequency in which they still engage in denial behaviors.  If your husband is still lying, minimizing, justifying, blaming, acting the victim or entitled, if he rationalizing, turning the tables on you. or gaslighting you then you can be pretty certain that he is still involved in acting out on his addictive behaviors!  Red flags should go up immediately. At this point, an honest and open Q&A should happen between you about your concerns.  If he is still in recovery then he will welcome your questions and do his best to answer honestly and work to relieve any of your fears or concerns.  Any stonewalling is a red flag that something is going on.

As much as I hate the denial tactics that my Cheater put me through, they were the barometer that I was able to use to determine if he was serious about fighting for me or not.  Ultimately, it was the deciding factor in determining to divorce him.  He just would not come out of denial. It seems he still won’t.

That’s the bad news. There is some good news. You do have some choices you can make to empower yourself against the “denial effect.” This amounts to the things you must do to work on your own recovery from the trauma caused by the addict.

So what can you do to protect yourself from the “denial effect?” Plenty. This is will be the subject of my next blog post…

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Note:  Denial is not just engaged in by addicts. In fact, family members are often as deeply in denial as the addict. And because of this they tend to either enable or ignore the addiction and its consequences. This is another blog post that will be forthcoming.

Regardless of whether denial is engaged in by the addict or his/her loved ones, it exacerbates the addict’s desire to escape from life. This is because denial is a complex series of lies, secrets and deceptions that expands and takes on a life of its own as the addiction escalates. And the larger and more complicated this web of deceit becomes, the harder it is to maintain. Over time, the stress of sustaining this façade of normalcy becomes overwhelming. And of course the anxiety and fear this produces nearly always triggers a further desire to “numb out” via the addiction. In this way, the addict’s and/or the family’s system of denial directly feeds the cycle of addiction. This is why it is imperative that the whole family go to counseling, 12-steps and addiction recovery for spouses and families. See my page on Programs for suggestions on where to start.

Remember…

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, addiction, lying, My Story, Trauma Recovery

How You Nearly Destroyed Me…

Anger Letter

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

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

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

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

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

I feel anger towards you because… 

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

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

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

If It Walks Like a Duck…

Let’s talk about addiction, shall we?

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

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

Behaviors that are linked to an addictive brain will produce;

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

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

I feel anger towards you because…

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

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

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The Marriage Covenant…

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

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

I feel anger towards you because… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re Not Easy to Live With…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel anger towards you because…

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

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

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

Setting the House on Fire…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel anger towards you because… 

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

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

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

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

Burn it to the Ground…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel anger towards you because…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All that is Left is Ashes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

That will be the final irony.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

abuse, addiction, betrayal, gaslighting, lying, My Story, PTSD

The Girlfriend

I havent written anything for a few weeks.  It seems that my way of operating is to grow silent when bad things are happening.  I do not know why I do it.  Maybe because I want a solution to manifest before I share it so that it will have a “happy ending.”  Sometimes I am just processing and trying to make sense of it all. Most of the time, I just do not know what to say.  My life is so, well…weird.  If it were not happening to me I would think it was a fantastical work of fiction full of drama, triangles, intrigue and suspense.  What this story is NOT, is a love story.  No love here.  Just pain. Raw. Primal. Screaming pain. Before I go on; you have to know this isn’t going to be pretty, not even close.  And there isn’t any happy ending that I can see. So if you are not up for it, I get it. if you keep reading – you have been warned.

So here is what has been happening:

My Ex has happily announced for all of Facebook to read, that he has a serious girlfriend. Already you ask?  Yep.  Turns out the ink wasn’t even dry on the divorce papers.  I knew it was coming.  I just didnt think it would be quite so fast.  But this was so fast that it sent shockwaves of hurt and anger through the lives of our kids, and of course, me.  Nobody is happy about it, but it’s not our call.  Let go, and let God and all those palatitudes we tell ourselves to feel better, right?  I can deal with it, it was bound to happen.  He can’t seem to live in his own skin without a woman around to tell him how wonderful he is. I have no illusions, at this point, that he will wake up one day and realize how awful he has been and shower me with love and work to mend my shattered heart and family.  I sometimes indulge in that fantasy, but it really is just that, a fantasy. No sense in sugar coating it.

However, to my great surprise and amazement, I thought the fantasy might materialize over the past two weeks.  I don’t want to get your hopes up and I hate to be a spoiler, but it didn’t happen.  How it went down is, perhaps, instructive for someone else experiencing what it is like to be at the end of the line in rough game of “crack the whip.” I have used words like nightmare, merry-go-round and rollercoaster to describe the heart pounding, breathtaking (not in a good way) and dizzying ride my Ex has had me on over the last, almost, 2 years.  But this is especially cruel, although, I understand, not uncommon coming from a “non-addict.”

So it turns out that, said girlfriend, makes an amazing observation!  She believes that Ex is still in love with me.  Therefore, she cannot move forward in a relationship with him until he resolves his feelings for me and the rift he has with his kids.  So Ex trots off, dutifully, back to me to fulfill her request.  He wants to see if he really has any feelings left for me. Awesome. Right?

He tells me he wants to see if there is any chance at reconciliation.  I tell him what I have always told him, for the entire past few years. “You are always welcome back in my life if you do the necessary work of recovery, which is, to provide me with the safety and connection that I need from you.  To remind you, the way to provide safety is with honesty and transparency about what you have done and how you will stop it from happening in the future.  You provide connection with open communication and by reparing the damage you have done.”  I beleive I deliver this request with clarity.  Succinctly and honestly.  No beating around the bush.  Just straight up.  There is no need to be coy at this point.  This is what I need from him, and the reason I divorced him is because he couldn’t, or woudn’t, do it.

So I decide to let him make his case to me, again.  I tell him what I need and he agrees to finally be honest with me and listen to me so that I feel seen and heard.  It goes ok for a few days.  He is doing better than he has ever done up until this point, at holding my pain and listening to how his betrayal has really effected me.  I tell him how I am shattered.  I share articles about PTSD and Betrayal Trauma and what it takes to heal from that. It gets to be too much and he can’t quite handle my rock of pain.  I don’t blame him, it is quite large and heavy, I know – I’ve been carrying it around for almost two years. And when I have tried to hand it to him to hold for a while, it scares him and he runs away.  I would run away from it too, if I could. (Incidentally, being ignored has the same effect on the mind as being physically abused.  So if you are being ignored and it really, really hurts, it’s not in your head.  It is real!  The pain is real! (Read about the study here.)

After endless conversations that are starting to run in circles again, I decide it is time to get to the bottom of what he is trying to do. What does he want? Really want?  It turns out, that what he really wants is her, so he is trying to convince himself he doesn’t love me.  This is where it takes a turn for the worst.  I call him out on his “plan” to use me to justify his behavior.  This is where he starts turning the tables and all of the old excuses come flying out of his mouth at me like daggers.  His aim is true and each dagger makes its way straight to my heart. I have, unwittingly, left myself exposed again.

Here is the bottomline.  He can’t give me what I need because he needs to have some sort of assurance I won’t get mad and just leave him holding the bag, so to speak. He needs for me not to be so angry with him.  He isn’t sure I am worth the effort. I will never really forgive him so why should he put in that much effort.  If I really still loved him I would not have divorced him in the first place.  So here we are stuck.  Again.  In the same place our “discussions” mostly end up.  He wants assurance from me.  I need assurances from him.  Works to back up his words.  The problem is that he doesnt understand that he is the betrayer, I am the betrayed.  In this instance, the betrayer ALWAYS has to go FIRST!  Ladies, it is HIS responsibility to provide you with the safety, honesty, transparancy and connection that YOU need.  THEN once HE does that it is YOUR job to respond with appropriate encouragement. Not the other way around.  He betrayed me, not the other way around.  It is critical that you keep this perspective.

Notice all the denial statements above. It is common behavior for the addict to use all kinds of denial tactics to keep from taking the responsibility for their actions. So they have a litany of denial weapons to choose from and they will use them all, sometimes all in the same conversation.

Denial looks like the following; blame, rationalizing, turning the tables, lying, guilting, and my personal favorite, gaslighting.  Gaslighting is dangerous and if it is happening to you then you are more prone to develop longer term trauma and even PTSD.  Do not allow yourself to be gaslighted. Also, most “non-addicts” will display many narcissistic tendencies because the lying causes them to be so self absorbed in protecting the lies that no one or no thing can be as important as keep their secrets.

If you are experiencing any of the above, the best thing you can do is to trust your gut.  Your instincts will nearly always be correct, listen to them and follow them.  The one thing I regret more than anything is not protecting myself from addict abuse better.  I allowed myself to continue to be abused far longer than I should have.  Please don’t make the same mistakes.  Above all, do not think you are able to overcome this alone, you are not. You need a support system and some professional guidance to navigate the world of a “non- addict.”

The only thing I can tell you, is what was told to me the first day I went to therapy.  “A man has two tongues, the one in his mouth, and the one on his shoes.  Ignore what the one in his mouth is saying, and watch what the one on his shoes does.  That is the only way you will really know when he is telling the truth.” To me, this is the only way to really know for sure.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Strong, Be Sweet (as best you can)

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