addiction, betrayal, My Story, Uncategorized

My Dad Can Stop Watching Porn Anytime He Wants…Right?

This article was first published on Fight the New Drug Webstie in 2016 and republished in 2018.  It was sent to them annonymously by my oldest daughter.  Back then she was interested in protecting the guilty, and the innocent in the hope that he father would get his act together and come back to us.  Since that time life has change for all of us, drastically, as this blog has thoroughly discussed. Being annoymous isn’t as important anymore.  Most of our friends and family know what happened to us.

What the article doesn’t say is there was more too this than was written.  Not only did my Ex come into town to celebrate our youngest’s birthday, he came into town to “celebrate” our anniversary only 2 months after d-day. Understandably, I wasn’t ready to spend time with him whispering sweet nothings in his ear.  So this is what he chose to do instead…

Today, January 23rd, would have been our 40th Wedding Anniversay. And these events were really the beginning of the end.  This is the point when he showed us all that he had no intention of fixing his problem, repairing our family, or making everything up to us. How sad that he allowed his addiction to destroy a long term marriage and family!

Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

We recently received a story that shows that the harmful effects of porn don’t always revolve around romantic partners like boyfriends/girlfriends or husbands/wives. Some stories, like this one, show how porn can isolate, consume, and eventually even destroy families.

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True Story

My dad doesn’t have a porn addiction. He can stop any time he wants.

At least that’s what he likes to tell my mom. Frequently.

Almost eight years ago, my dad was compelled to look at a website when someone confessed to him that a particular website was a problem for them. He didn’t tell any of us because the confession been shared with him in confidence. But it was only a matter of months until my brother caught my dad in a compromising situation, video chatting with a woman that was not our mother.

Related: Is Porn Addiction Even A Real Thing?

Soon it came out that he had created a profile on that website and was befriending other regular porn consumers. He had also started up an inappropriate texting and video chatting relationship with that other woman. My mom moved out for a few weeks because of this but eventually they worked things out and seemed to grow closer than before. Until about a year ago.

My mom received a text from a random woman claiming to have been in a texting relationship with my dad for over a year. She had the texts and pictures to prove it. She had been blackmailing my dad for a while, threatening to tell my mom unless he sent her money every month.

He can stop any time he wants.

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The Secret Relationship

Eventually he got tired of paying her off, and even gave her my mom’s phone number, daring her to go through with it. That’s when she first texted my mom. Even after she had blown his cover she still thought she could get money out of him. When he refused to pay her any more money, she started a blog devoted to his infidelities. She posted screen shots of their texts. She posted details about my brother, sister, and myself. She knew things she should not have known about all of us. And then she emailed the link of this blog to my brother, my uncles, and my grandpa.

Mom decided to separate, still wanting to give him a chance to get help and get better. My siblings and I supported her in that decision. She got her own apartment, which she shares with my sister. Dad got a new job in a different state with the plans of visiting to work on his relationship with us.

Related: Why Isn’t Pornography Addiction An Official Diagnosis?

The first time he came back to visit was to celebrate my sister’s birthday. But my sister wasn’t sure she was ready to see him. So I offered to spend time with him instead. He came over in the morning to drop off a birthday card for my sister, but as soon as he walked in the door he was making excuses for why he needed to leave. He said he needed to pick up a prescription he hadn’t yet transferred to his local pharmacy, he was planning to take an old friend to lunch, and he wanted to stop at the outlet mall to look for some new pants. We were surprised that he didn’t want to spend time with us but we weren’t going to force him to hang out. We didn’t hear from him for the rest of the day, despite reaching out to him. Later that evening I asked my mom if she had heard from him at all, and she hadn’t.

Something Was Up

I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going on. So I got in my car to just drop in on him at his hotel. My mom was worried that maybe he’d had a heart attack and didn’t want me to go alone. I told her I was fairly certain he hadn’t had a heart attack but that I had other suspicions. But she met me there anyway.

I didn’t know what room he was in and since hotels don’t give out that information for security reasons, they called his room for me. No answer. Mom called his cell phone. Twice. No answer.  The hotel staff called his room again and he finally answered. They told him we were there. It took him a really long time to come down to the hotel lobby and when he did he acted very strange.

Related: How Porn Can Become Addictive

After talking to him for a while I suspected he had someone in his hotel room. He swore that he didn’t. I told him to prove it. He jumped up out of his chair and said that he would do just that.

Halfway down the hall he turned and said he wasn’t going to take us up to his room, that he did have someone up there, that nothing was going on, and that she didn’t deserve to be confronted like that.

He can stop any time he wants.

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His Secrets Revealed

He pleaded with us to leave and promised he would drive her home. I wasn’t about to let that happen. I suggested he call her a cab. He wouldn’t. I begged him to let me call one, I’d even pay for it. He didn’t. I insisted he take me to his room. He refused. He protected this woman at every turn.

Eventually I convinced him to take me up to the room. I’m not exactly sure what I was trying to accomplish. Maybe I thought she’d be reasonable and let me call her a cab. Instead, I was forced to stand in the hall while she and my dad whispered to corroborate their story. Once I was finally allowed in the the room I knew that there was definitely something going on there. The woman hid in the bathroom the entire time, but the bed wasn’t made and her clothes were folded on the couch. I picked up her phone and my dad lost it. He begged me to put it down. When I wouldn’t, he tried to physically pry it from fingers, blocking my every move. I was scared by that behavior, my dad had never before been physically confrontational with me in my life.

He can stop any time he wants.

Losing Control

I thought that I could wait there in that room until one of them came to their senses and let me call a cab. But she told me, through the door, that my dad is a grown man and I should let him make his own decisions. And he threatened to call the cops on me if I didn’t leave.

Related: When Porn Wasn’t Enough For My Partner, He Turned To Prostitutes

I left that hotel that night with a broken heart. My dad should have been protecting my mom and myself in such a crazy situation. Really he never should have put himself, let alone us, in a situation like that in the first place. But the love he has felt for his family has been replaced by something else. Something cheap and fleeting.

Can he really stop any time he wants?

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If he really could stop…

I refuse to believe that this is not an addiction and that he can stop whenever he wants. I refuse to believe that this shell of a man is the father I have known and loved my entire life. I refuse to believe that the dad I know and love is a figment of my imagination and that this is the real him. I refuse to believe that instead of choosing to stop, he would consciously choose to continue this behavior that is only hurting him and those that he supposedly loves most.

If he could really stop any time he wants, I wish he would have stopped a long time ago.

 

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What YOU Can Do

Awareness on the harms of pornography has to start somewhere. SHARE this article and help to spread the word on the very real harms of pornography. Together we can inspire change by helping society understand the harmful effects of porn.

Spark Conversations

This movement is all about changing the conversation about pornography and stopping the demand for sexual exploitation. When you rep a tee, you can spark meaningful conversation on porn’s harms and inspire lasting change in individuals’ lives, and our world. Are you in? Check out all our styles in our online store, or click below to shop:

 

 Stay Sweet, Be Strong
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Becoming, Coping, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

What I Have Learned…So Far

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

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!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

dating, Uncategorized

Having “The Talk”

Now that I am “dating” again, I have concerns and worries that I will get involved with someone else who is also an addict. It’s a very valid concern considering the breadth and depth of the problem of pornography and sex addiction.  After all, just about every man has been exposed to pornography. My therapist said that it is likely anyone you date will have been exposed, to one degree or another. The question we have to ask ourselves  is, “to what degree?” It could be anything from a one time exposure as a child, or all the way to a full-blown addiction, or anything in between. So how do you know how bad is too bad?  What is acceptable to you?  What is not? How can you keep yourself from getting involved with someone with a problem again? These are all very good questions and they deserve your serious attention BEFORE you get so involved with someone who just causes you more trauma before you have to break it off with them.  I would suggest sitting down and writing up some good boundaries for yourself. Think about what you can and cannot live with and set those boundaries – in advance.  Don’t wait until you fall in love to decide. The time to protect yourself from making the same mistake again is now. If you don’t know how to set boundaries this read this article.

When Do You Ask?

So when do you ask the man you are dating about his porn use?  Gosh!  Why do we even have to ask?  You’re right, we shouldn’t have to ask.  It shouldn’t even be a problem!  But the odds are not good for finding a man who hasn’t had to deal with this issue.  It’s wide-spread and pervasive.  Chances are that any man you date is going to have to come clean to you about his porn use.  Even in the church the statistics are not good!  I have heard as many as 50% of all Melchizedek Priesthood holders have been involved with pornography at sometime in their lives.  The statistics outside of the church are staggering – as many as 90%! It not good ladies! Even if you think the guy you are dating is awesome and he “would never do that,” you still must ask!  Ask for your own peace of mind.  Ask because you have to protect yourselves. Ask! It is doing your due diligence and he isn’t going to volunteer it, not unless he is in serious recovery.  It is foolish for any woman to believe that she should not ask her man about this issue. it just is.  Don’t stick your head in the sand, it won’t help you!

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It is up to you to do the asking, unfortunately.  The guy I was dating actually told me up front, which I thought was fantastic!  It set my mind at ease and made me feel that, at least, he was willing to be honest with me.  But I did not probe further.  I should have.  He told me he had a problem and talked to his Bishop about it, he had chosen to turn his back on it and never do it again.  And that was that.  But the longer our relationship went on, the more I had “that nagging feeling in my gut” that I should know more.

With this experience under my belt I have a suggestion about when to ask and what to ask.  When the relationship progresses to the point that you are discussing more serious issues.  If you are in the ‘define the relationship” status, that is the time to ask, if not before.  In my case, I had been very up front about my PTSD, trauma, and abuse.  He knew from the beginning that I needed certain things from him to feel safe.  So the fact that you are asking your man about his porn use should not be a big surprise to him if he knows anything about you at all.

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Being able to ask, and ask clearly, is all about setting up good boundaries for yourself.  I alway told my Ex that I wasn’t asking him to do something that I would not ask of anyone!  I did not realize how true that was, until now.  Any man who is in a relationship with me is going to have to provide me with copious amounts of connection and safety.  The safety will have to include basic addiction recovery behaviors, probably whether he has or had an addiction or not! You might say, “But that’s not fair!”  No, it’s not fair.  But what happened to me is not fair.  Nothing about betrayal trauma is fair! But any man who would choose to love me knows this, so he would do it anyway, because he loves me and wants me to feel safe and secure in my relationship with him. And he will do it as soon as humanly possible. Expediency is paramount when dealing with trauma.  Women need to see action, not words, not promises. Action. My Ex should have done this, if he had, we would still be married now and our family would still be together.  Choices have consequences.

The Questions

There are 5 questions you need to ask the man you are dating:

  • Has he ever been exposed to pornography or sex online? Any man who is being honest will answer this question in the affirmative.  I would be suspicious of anyone who says they have never been exposed.
  • When was the first time you were exposed? Is this an ongoing problem or something that just began?
  • When was the last time you view pornography and to what degree? You will need to know how he views pornography; is it in chatrooms, with other people participating, texting, does he masturbate while viewing, etc. In otherwords, how pervasive was his use?
  • How often has he viewed or participated since his first exposure to his last? You will also what to know how long he goes without viewing in between.
  • What has he been doing to overcome this problem?  This is the most important question if he has been using porn.  So important that I will cover it in the next section.

Addiction Recovery is outlined in the book “What Do I Do about Him Me?” by Rhyll Crowshaw, Road Map #3

What Is He Doing About It Now?

Having a porn or sex addiction is not the biggest determination for having or restoring trust in a relationship. What he is now doing about it, is!  I heard a therapist at a convention say, that he would trust a man in solid recovery more than a man without an addiction because the man in recovery knows himself!  I agree!  If a man is in solid recovery he has learned to set boundaries for himself, he knows his limits, he is self disciplined, and he is humble enough to be responsible and accountable to himself, to his family, and to God. This is all about personal responsibility and accountability!  It’s about building trust.

So to any man who would want to date me, you should be doing the following, without being asked:

  • Meeting with your Church Leaders regularly.
  • Attending a 12-step program and have an accountability partner or sponsor, maybe for the rest of his life.
  • See a personal counselor who specialized in addiction for 3-5 years.
  • Getting educated about addiction, betrayal trauma, and recovery. In other words, learning needs to be a life long pursuit.

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These should be the minimum.  But, ladies, we want men who are willing to go the second and third mile by also:

  • Becoming involved in helping others recover
  • Attending a recovery program like Men of Moroni
  • Setting up blocks on all your devices
  • He has boundaries, strong ones
  • Is accountable and responsible in his relationships
  • Is humble and willing to do the work
  • Provides emotional, physical, and spiritual safety
  • Does whatever it takes to restore trust

c11ea4c0819b647a2cca9c81e6d57510.jpgI promise you that you will know where a man’s heart is by how willing he is to be accountable and do the hard work of recovery.  And if he won’t do the work, well, he just didn’t want you that badly, now did he? You will survive the truth better than you will survive a lie. This isn’t about being demanding, this is about knowing your own worth.  You are worthy of a man who has control over his own mind and body and respects himself enough to do the hard work of recovery. I have to work my own recovery, probably for the rest of my life because of what happened to me, why would I want to be with anyone who refused to do anything less?

A Word to Bishops and Church Leaders:

Bishops, please – please – please, do your job! Ask the hard questions!  It is not a light thing you are doing when you interview a man who comes to you to confess a pornography problem. Lives hang in the balance!  Families hang in the balance!  You need to ask enough probing questions to get to the bottom of the problem.  Too many families are being broken up over the devastation of porn use and sex addiction by married men.  The wives and children of these men deserve for you to care about them and protect them enough to determine the level of addiction these men are experiencing. These men are experts at deception, often they will not volunteer information unless asked a direct question.  You must be direct! Kind, yes! But direct! If someone comes to you to confess an addiction shouldn’t you at least ask if this problem has been on going, and in some cases, for decades?  If so, then you need to be referring them for professional counseling and 12-steps and then following up with them to make sure they are working on recovery.

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It’s not enough anymore to ask when is the last time you view porn!  You have to look at the habits of these men over time.  Often these men only take it as seriously as you do.  Many will say, ” Well, I talked to my Bishop and he didn’t think I needed to do anything more.” What a disservice you are doing to innocent wives and children! Don’t you know you are being used as an excuse by these men to not get help? I am begging you, as someone who lost the love of my life and my eternal family over this issue – ask the hard questions! Take this seriously! Please.

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

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addiction, betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Thoughts from UCAP

UCAPlogo_vertical_blue_320The Utah Coalition Against Pornography had their yearly conference this past week.  I decided to go…and then I didn’t…and then I did…and then I didn’t.  I wasn’t sure how triggering this would be for me, or if I could handle it.  In the end, I decided to go, mostly because my company was providing the text messaging for the conference.  This is also an issue I care about deeply, so I went.  I am glad I did. The theme of the conference was “The Hope Effect” and it turned out to be very hopeful, for both addict and trauma victim. I met lots of awesome new people and re-connected with people I already know.  All in all the experience was great!  I did have a few very triggering moments, I am not going to lie, but I was able to breathe through them and be just fine. Tears were shed, it was just that kind of place.

I came away with a few thoughts and epiphanies that I would like to share. They were profound enough that I wrote them down.

On Secrets

This first one is from therapist Jeff – Speaking to the addict, he said, “Secrets are love repellant. You will feel love to the degree that you don’t keep secrets. You will get better to the degree that you don’t keep secrets” The fact that my ex-husband kept so many secrets from me was a very strong indication that he was not going to fix the problem.  He never once came clean to me about anything he was doing.

Addicts build walls and they go up because they are afraid of rejection, but these walls have just the opposite effect, at least they did in my life.  I ended up feeling like the rejected one. These secrets color and damage every aspect of the relationship.  Addicts reject their spouses love because they think, “If you knew what I did, you would not love me.” But it is the addict who doesn’t feel the spouses, love so they end up blame the spouse.

I can attest to this.  It is exactly what happened in my situation.  I can imagine that my ex-husband felt so much guilt and shame for what he had done that he could not imagine that I would ever love him again.  But the opposite would have been true if he had done the hard work to just get INTO recovery.  I would have loved and respected him more than he could ever imagine, because he would be fighting to keep me.  There is nothing more loveable or romantic than a man who will fight for the woman he loves!

“It is a contradiction to say, “I honor the human person,” while treating the human body as separable from the person using it as a tool, devouring [pornographic] images of it…One cannot at once love the beautiful and desire to defile it. It is like loving the Pieta with an ax.”  Anthony Esolen

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The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

Therapist Tyler Perry talked about the importance of connection in preventing and overcoming addiction. The science is becoming so clear that people turn to addictive behaviors because they are not connecting to people in the real world. We live in an addicting world.  Everything from gaming, to cell phones, to pornography is addicting.  Even jobs and hobbies can be addicting.

Long term recovery cannot happen unless the addict has real life connections.

Addiction + Connection = Recovery

Sobriety is only achieved by a committed effort to a lifestyle change. This is something I worked hard to show my ex-husband.  But he was not convinced he needed a drastic change in his lifestyle to overcome the behavior.  The truth is, that unless there is a lifestyle change, these patterns of behavior will come back.  There is no doubt of that.  You cannot just white knuckle your way to sobriety on sheer willpower.  It won’t happen.

Studies are showing that there must be a connection to others and to your higher power.  And that connection to your higher power begins with daily activities that happen with intention. Things like, scripture study, prayer, meditation, going to church, being in nature, listening to good music and keeping a journal are all things addicts should be doing every day. Over time these “dailies” cause a softness to occur in the heart and we get a confirmation that we are worthy of love.  We gain perspective.  We become humble and that fosters safety and connection for the partner.

Recovery from addiction is very possible, but it takes work.  It takes a willingness to work. It takes humility.  My ex-husband did not demonstrate any of these behaviors.

While sitting in this conference I saw men who were in recovery.  I saw their light and humility. I saw their efforts and willingness to fight for their wives and children.  It was a stark contrast to how my ex-husband responded.  In that moment I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was right to divorce him.  He does not deserve me.  He does not deserve our children.  Had he fought for us, he would have been worthy of us.  But he didn’t. And because he refused to fight for us we were left with no other choice but to walk away.

On Goal Setting

Lastly, I was struck by what therapists are learning about setting goals.  45% of Americans set goals for the New Year, but 92% never achieve their goals.  And by February most people have given up on their goals altogether.  So researchers have tried to figure out why most people do not achieve their goals.

What they found is:

That if you write down your goals and share then with someone else it will decrease the motivation to achieve the goal.  This is because of something they call the “substitution effect.”  What this does is that if you tell someone about your goal, the brain will actually tell you that you have already achieved the goal and convince you that you are already making progress.  This cause the motivation to actually work on the goal to decline. Our brain gives us validation for just “planning” to do something. But if you do not have an outside audience then you are more likely to work harder to achieve the goal.

This is why setting a goal to not look at porn never works.  When your goal becomes white and black, sobriety or addiction, you will fail.  Every time. You are doing well, until you are not.  You become delusional in your thinking.  Everything is always bad or always good.  In this state you are delusional.

So forget about setting goals like this that will set you up for failure.  Instead, focus on the processes. Processes are not a destination. Processes act more like a road map.

Here are the main processes for recovery:

  1. Recovery Dailies – these help you stay emotionally stable, self-aware and grounded.  This is like providing routine maintainance to your car.  If you don’t take care of your car, it will go along fine for a while until you have a problem. By then the problem will be serious and expensive.  Dailies are routine maintainance.
  2. Curiosity – approach healing with a curious mind.  This is much different from evaluating everything that happened.  Slow way down and enjoy the journey.  Ask yourself important questions like, “I wonder why I feel this way?” or “That is an interesting cycle, why did that happen?” Observe your behavior and ask questions about it.  This will take a lifetime to master this shift in thinking.  But having curiosity is more important than intelligence when it comes to problem solving.
  3. Highlight Patterns – highlight your own part of the pattern first to your partner then ask, “what do you think your part of the pattern is in this situation?” This will start a healthy dialogue in identifying and fixing the pattern.
  4. Conflict is Diagnostic – When you have a conflict with your partner it is a chance to ask, “What is it about this pattern that got us back here?” Use conflict to find a diagnosis. Then check your own emotions to see how you handle conflict.
  5. Seek Personal Serenity – Do not let someone else control your emotions. This will take years of work, but it is necessary.  Do not hand over your influence and power to someone else.  Accepting hardships is the pathway to peace.
  6. Replace Fairness with Acceptance – Fairness is the enemy of serenity.  Fairness does not help you to grow. Learned helplessness is not acceptance. Acceptance is not wasting your energy  on things you have no influence over and spending time on the things you do. Accept things that are for what they are.
  7. Create a Recovery Narrative – Imagine your life as being narrated.  We value stories over random facts.  Create how you want your story to be in your mind. 12 Steps is critical to recovery because it creates a safe place for an addict to share their story. Your role in it is to not be overly critical or supportive of the addict in recovery.  Remember that we do not throw parades for ourselves or others until the behavior is changed, if we do this it undermines recovery. Praise decreases the motivation to keep going.  A better response for improvement is, “that’s interesting, it will be interesting to see if you can keep that up.”
  8. Breathe – Remember to breathe.  This allows us to reset.  Nobody can go at this 100% all of the time. Breathing is essential.

What stands out to me in these processes is how much I yearned for this to happen in my own relationship with my husband and how unwilling he was to make it happen for us. This kind of work would have been hard to do, but I would have loved it!  I would have enjoyed so much working to become closer and more connected as a couple.  This would have been fun for me! However, I also realize now how resistant he was to all of this.  It was never going to happen, not in a million-trillion years.  Like he told me over and over, he just isn’t into all that touchy-feely stuff.  It’s not him.  He is right.  He isn’t, wasn’t, even on a good day. This is the kind of connection I wanted and needed from him throughout our marriage and he is not capable of giving it to me.  And even the crisis of an addiction wasn’t enough for him to want it for himself either.

It’s better for me that I divorced him. I was really fighting a losing battle. He is a broken man with no desire to fix anything.

If you would like to view articles and videos from UCAP classes visit their website.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior