betrayal, My Story, Uncategorized

Family-versary

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Yesterday would have been our 40th Wedding Anniversary if my Ex had not cheated on me.  It is hard for me to realize now that I spent so much time on a man who really did not deserve that kind of loyalty. There are a lot of triggers associated with this day anyway, but I am tired of crying over a man who hardly cared about me at all.  In piecing back together the events of our lives with my therapist, our best guess is that he was cheating on me for at least half of our marriage. That is a long time to believe you were so happy, only to find out you were completely clueless.  It makes me feel dumb, and vulnerable…and used.

It’s also a lot of time that was misused.  I have a hard time feeling or saying it was completely wasted because I got 3 amazing and beautiful children out of the deal, and 5 grandchildren, so far.  For that reason alone, it wasn’t a waste. Our family was never a waste of time,  but he was,  my relationship with him was a waste of time.  I put in a lot of time and effort that, simply put, did not pay off in the long run.  I was in the relationship for forever, he wasn’t.

So how do you go through, what would have been, these BIG anniversaries without feeling completely devastated by a failure that was not yours? How do you deal with the heavy losses of all the “what could have beens?” How do you try to forget this big event without making your children feel like they don’t matter to you? The answer was simple:

Familyversary!

My daughter sent me this message yesterday morning:

Happy Familyversary, Magah! I know today is a tough day but it was the beginning of all of us and at least 4/5 of us are still in tact….or 10/11 if you want to look at it that way ❤️

That was my answer:  To celebrate the creation of our family!  And she is right, most of us ARE still intact.  The one who is missing, is missing by his own choice. That doesn’t diminish the rest of us in the least.  He made that choice.  The rest of us chose to go on with our family the best we can. We are STILL a family.  He could STILL chose to come back if that is what he wanted.

We STILL have a family to celebrate, even if it is without him.

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Later that day I got a knock at my door.  It was flowers from my kids!  I felt truly loved! I do know this much: Next year we will put together a proper celebration of OUR Family on OUR Family-versary. But, for now, I am happy to know that next year January 23rd won’t be something to be dreaded or feared, it will be something to really celebrate!

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

Coping, Uncategorized

The Struggle is Real Ladies!

I have been kind of silent the last few months because I have been working very hard at my own recovery (I hate that word) coping skills. I have also been busy writing a book for you!  I have been trying to come up with a healing plan that works for me, and possibly, it might work for you too.  I am still trying to figure it all out, but I think I have it figured out well enough to start sharing what I have discovered. So from now on this journaling blog is going to have a different focus….

The focus on coping.

I was talking to my therapist the other day and she said something interesting. “I still have to get up every morning and start over in my recovery work. Sometimes it feels like sleeping undoes everything I did the day before.  I wake up feeling anxious.” My question to her was, “even now, after 7 years?”  “Yes,” was her reply.

Depressing.

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It’s depressing, but, oh so true! Recovery coping after betrayal trauma is something you will probably have to deal with everyday of your life for the rest of your life, at least on some level. Sorry to be the one to break the bad news to you.  It’s the truth, and the truth will set you free.  Just know, you will have to deal with this…for…the…rest…of…your…life.  There is no complete and total healing from this.  You will never wake up one day and say, “Yay! I’m healed!” It’s not going to happen. Ever. This is not like having someone die, a break up, losing your best friend, or even a “normal divorce.” In those cases you can go through the steps of grief and move on, eventually. The only way back from something that is so devastating and life changing like a soul destroying trauma is through COPING.  You can call it “recovery” or “healing”  or whatever you like, but what it really is, is just coping.  You have to learn to COPE with what has happened to you in the same way you would have to learn to cope with, say, losing an arm.  You would never be the same if you lost your arm, you could never grow your arm back, you would never recovery from losing your arm, you would never heal completely from losing your arm, but you would learn to cope with it.  Betrayal trauma is the same thing.  You don’t ever heal from it, you don’t every recover from it, but you do learn to cope with it.

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What our selfish, mean, lying, cheating, gaslighting, unfaithful, Ex husband’s did to us changed us. Forever.  You are forever changed.  Your brain changed, your body changed, your emotions changed.  You were changed at a cellular level. Betrayal trauma is, for the cheated on, the equivalent of PTSD or C-PTSD.  Do you ever hear of war veterans “getting over it?”  Nah, me either.  What can happen is that you can choose to fight it, and learn to lived with it, or you can die, roll over, and succumb to a complete and total breakdown of epic proportions.  Those are your only two options.  But, I am not going to lie, it will be a struggle to overcome it.  I know it will be.  I struggle with it every damn day of my life!  Even today; after 3 therapists, two recovery centers, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness classes, energy work, EMDR, and countless books, I still woke up with a giant panic attack. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen everyday, not anymore, but most days I wake up with a sense of foreboding, like something bad is about to happen to me.  I feel unsafe, insecure, and anxious…for no particular reason whatsoever!  Welcome to PTSD ladies!  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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Now for the good news.  You can learn to cope.  Coping is very do-able.  It’s hard work, I’m not going to lie! Lot’s of hard work.  It’s like exercise, nobody really wants to do it, but it makes you feel better if you do.  Coping skills are like that. What I resent the most is being MADE to do it, by someone who did not even stop to think of what he was doing to me. I resent having my life changed to this degree through the choices of someone else!  I cannot live my life the way I want to, on my terms, because of the choices of someone else. Because of what was done to me I have to get up every morning and go through a routine that takes me hours, just to feel “normal.” I lose precious hours working on something most people never have to deal with.  And then there are the things I cannot do anymore.  I cannot watch anything on TV like I used to do, I cannot listen to the radio anymore like I used to do, and I cannot participate in politics, which I loved, like I used to do.  All these things and others, too numerous to mention, bring me added stress, anxiety, and pain, which I cannot afford to bring into my life when I am working so hard to remove all stress and anxiety that I can.  It just doesn’t make sense to add stress, when you are trying to decrease it.  So I spend my days trying to achieve a “zen like” state JUST TO FEEL NORMAL! My kids think I am turning into a hippy, and they are right.  Meditation, yoga, tai-chi, qi-gong, prayer, scripture study, affirmations, and others, are my new best friends.

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Ladies, welcome to your new normal, whatever that is for you.  What you thought was your normal in your old life will probably never be your normal, ever again.  But a sense of “normal,” can be achieved again. It just won’t be that same normal.  It will be different.  Not necessarily bad, just different. I just want to help you set up realistic expectations for yourself.  You have been through a war, of sorts, you are traumatized and your systems have been compromised or even shut down.  It’s hard to wrap your brain around the severity of it because, physically, you are the same. You LOOK the same, you may even ACT the same, but you are not the same emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or even physically, to a certain extent.

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Frankly, it would be easier if you had been hit by a truck (because emotionally you were).  If you had been hit by a truck you would have been taken to the hospital, you would have probably been put on life support for a while, had surgery, maybe several of them, you would have spent time in the ICU, and maybe even sent to rehab after you left the hospital.  Family and friends would have come to see you, taken care of you, helped you recover, and been there for you. Everyone would see that your recovery was going to take a very long time.  They would have stood by your side as you learned to walk again, and helped you find new ways to cope with your new normal. Nobody is going to do that in this case, because nobody can see just how badly damaged you are. You look fine, so you will be expected to act fine long before you are ready. It’s not fair, but it is reality.  That is why you have to find other systems of support for your recovery coping. Unfortunately, you will have to set up your own triage, nobody else is going to do it for you. Under different circumstances it would have probably been your husband who helped you cope with this horrific experience!  But now he is the one who did it to you! He is the one who hit you broadside by an emotional 18-wheeler! It’s not fair, but it is what it is, as my Ex used to like to say to me.

Think about it, did you have any idea how hard this was for other women until it happened to you?  Did you have any clue? No, you did not, because nothing in any of our life experiences could possibly prepare us for the impact of betrayal! Nothing!  You cannot fault or resent your family and friends for not understanding what, you yourself, could not have understood either. It’s not their fault they don’t “get it.” They can’t.  So it is up to you to go find places and people that do get it.  Support groups are everywhere, you just have to find one that fits your needs. Clinics that deal with betrayal trauma are popping up like dandelions! Let your family and friends love you the way they have always done.  Let them tell you that “you should be able to move on by now,” and then go to your support group and complain to them about how they just don’t “get it.” Surround yourself with women who do “get it.” Unfortunately, there are way too many of them. Because of pornography and sex addiction there is an epidemic of men who cheat, abandon their families, and ruin their marriages, leaving a path of devastation and destruction in their wake!  You are not the only one!  There are hundreds, or even thousands, of women just like you in your city.  Trust me.  And WE get it!  We are banding together in support groups all over this country to help you.  And if you cannot find one in person, there are groups online.  I personally belong to two facebook groups that deal with just this topic. Find one. You cannot do this alone! And you cannot expect your family and friends to do what they are incapable of doing.

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This is what I am trying to tell you about a “new normal.” Being betrayed takes your whole world and dumps it on its head. You are left reeling and nobody is going to rescue you.  You hope someone will come and rescue you, after all you are in pain so excruciating that you feel like you just might lay there and die! But nope, you have to get up and rescue yourself. It doesn’t seem fair, and it’s not, but knowing the alternatives, what are you going to do? So you have to ask yourself the following – are you just going to lay there and bleed out and die on the spot, or are you going to get up and fight like hell to rebuild your life? At one point in my journey I was suicidal. I did just want to die! I even ended up in the hospital.  When I told that to one of my therapists, he said to me, “Well that would have been convenient for your Ex wouldn’t it?”  His words shocked me!  He then explained to me that if I had taken my life that it would have made my Ex’s life a whole lot easier.  He would not have had to pay alimony or deal with me at all.  If I took my life, the Ex would have been on easy street, and he would be silently rejoicing at my demise! Well ladies, it is not your job to make his life easier! It’s not your job to give him the satisfaction of ruining you.  It’s your job to get up and to fight for your life! Nobody is going to do it for you. It’s hard. I know it’s hard.  It’s not fair.  It is a struggle for me every day! It’s true that your life will probably never be the same again, but it is also possible that it can turn out to be something better. There is a popular video going around where Will Smith explains the difference between fault and responsibility.  This is not your fault, not your fault at all!  But it is your responsibility to deal with it! That is the straight up truth! I wish my Ex would see what his actions did to me and the kids.  I wish everyday he would Be 100% Responsible for his actions (like Elder Lynn Robbins describes in his talk), but he’s not going to, he could care less! I can wish for justice (the karma bus WILL pay him a visit, it always shows up, eventually) all day long for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t make my life any better, it just makes me bitter.  I can either remain in victimhood, or I can thrive.  I choose to thrive! “The road to power is taking responsibility!” It’s time to take the power back!

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I can tell you now, after 4 years, the struggle to learn to cope with my new normal is worth it!  It’s hard!  But oh so worth it.  Four years ago I never thought I would be where I am today.  I still have a long way to go, but I am finally finding myself again. I like who I am again, life is worth living again, and coping is possible.  I can finally see the light at the end of a very long tunnel. I have peace again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort.  I have happiness again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort.  I have joy again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort.  Every good thing in life is work, it always has been! And, ultimately, it is worth it! I may have to work for it everyday for the rest of my life, but if that means I get to live a life of peace, joy, and happiness, then it will have been worth it!

Over the next few months I am going to document my personal journey of coping; what has worked for me, what doesn’t, how I am healing, what my daily routine looks like, etc. I am going to teach you my own healing modalities and how to do them for yourselves. Everything I have learned, I will share with you! This is ground breaking stuff!  The journey through betrayal trauma is so new that the healing from it is also new. First of all, I think recovery is not the right name for it.  Coping is what it really is. It is like learning to live with losing an arm – you learn to cope without that arm.  I have learned some things that have really helped me cope.  So I want to share them.  My own journey through betrayal trauma becomes significant when I can turn around and share what I have learned with others who struggle to cope with their own lives. Suffering becomes meaningful when you can use it to help others.  It helps me to feel like I didn’t suffer through this for nothing. So join me on my journey to of healing, of coping, of finding my our new normal…

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

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dating, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

LDS Dating After Betrayal Trauma (PTSD)

fc3f8fbe75ca231aee3985d44ff3089fIt’s been over six months since I stopped going to Single Adult Activities. I didn’t have very much fun and the whole experience was, quite frankly, depressing. I made a single girl friend who invited me to start going to the activities with her.  I thought it was safe enough to have a “wingman” so I agreed to venture out into the church singles scene for the first time in over 40 years.  She was fun and she knew most people, so it was fun getting to know her friends and being introduced to new people. So far so good.

The problems for me, began when I started have panic attacks and anxiety at the events. What should have been fun, was  instead, overwhelming.  My PTSD would take over and a harmless dance became a war zone, fraught with danger and landmines. Triggers were everywhere.  Just walking into the building was a Trigger. The most prominent one was: I shouldn’t be single!  If my Ex hadn’t betrayed me I wouldn’t even be here!  Why did this have to happen to me? How did I even get here? Then all the emotions of the trauma of betrayal would wash over me like a flood of emotions – and suddenly I was drowning.

I never shied away from meeting new people or social situations, but this was too much, especially for an empath.  I could walk into any given room of singles and suddenly feel overwhelmed by what I call, the collective “singleness cloud of pain.”  I could sense the collective “singleness cloud of pain” before I even opened the door. It was a thousand feelings of grief over lost love, through either death or divorce, coming from hundreds of people gathered in the same room. It was stifling! Each of them were at the event in the hopes of trying to find someone, anyone, to ease their own cloud of pain.  If in that moment, I added my own pain into the mix, it became unbearable very quickly.  I would barely arrive at the event, with hopes of having some fun, only to be greeted with this innate feeling that I should not be there, I didn’t belong there, how did I end up in this group of people whose common denominator was profound loss?  I would feel the hot tears well up behind my eyes, ready to spill down my freshly primped face.  The urge to run was intense.  Luckily, I usually came with girlfriends, so I had to stay.  I forced myself to stay, and like it. I reminded myself of a child who is forced to take bitter medicine – it tastes horrible, but it’s good for me!  I would choke down the tears and not make my friends feel guilty for having their own fun.  I dutifully danced with the souls brave enough to ask me, I would have pleasant chit-chat with people around me, I made a herculean effort to make my own fun, but all I wanted to do was go home, get in my pajamas and pull the blanket over my head!

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Why was this so painful?

The LDS Singles in the Salt Lake and Utah Counties literally have something going on every night of the week!  It is a veritable gold mine for the lonely and single. There is plenty to do, lots of opportunities to socialize and mingle.  I could go “have fun” every night of the week if I wanted.  But I did not want.  It was too much on my emotions, feelings, and psyche to just manage to attend something once a week.  All summer I tried to force myself to become a bona-fide single woman. I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t wish away, deny, or pretend that I couldn’t feel the common thread of sadness from everyone who was there. Instead of “I see dead people,” for me it was “I feel broken hearts.”  It was too much.  So I stopped going last September.

From what I understand from talking to my therapist and other singles, my reaction isn’t that uncommon.  An overwhelming number of singles, especially Sisters, report; “I just couldn’t do it.”  I don’t blame them.  Neither could I.

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Then an amazing thing happened.  I met someone.  He likes to dance.  I like to dance.  So he came into town and we went to a dance, or two, together.  It’s amazing how having a date insulated me from all the sadness in the room.  I could be there and have fun, real fun!  I could enjoy dancing with a man who loved being there with me.  It was heaven! Now that I am actually dating someone, I am so glad there are so many singles activities in my area.  It gives us a place to go to engage in wholesome and uplifting activities together while we get to know each other better.  And I feel better about bringing my own happiness and positive energy in to a space that needs that boost.  Being there is finally good.

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I had a lot of guilt from people close to me to just “get over it,” or “you will find someone better.”  I played the guilt trip in my head by saying to myself, “what if my person is at the dance tonight and I don’t go?” Even that wasn’t enough to make me go, until I was ready. People close to you mean well, they have your best interests at heart, but they can’t know when you are ready. Only you can know that!

So here is my bottomline, Singles Activities may not be for you, right at this moment.  But give it an honest try.  If it’s not for you right now, I totally get that!  But think about trying again later.  It can be good place to be, when the timing is right.  For the recently traumatized, that timing may take a little while.  Be kind to yourself.  Healing takes time.  Trying on your single suit might take even more time.

When it’s right, you will know.

 

Here are a couple of places you can look when you are ready:

Timpanogos Singles

Orem Singles

Lehi Singles

Salt Lake Singles

Most of them have an email list you can sign up for to receive a monthly calendar of events.

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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dating, Uncategorized

Waiting for a Unicorn; Love After Betrayal

I have been talking to my therapist a lot lately about how can someone like me find love again after such a horrific experience.  Being cheated on as much as I have been cheating on, certainly causes issues with trust.  Trusting again is the big question.  Am I so broken that I could never let another man back into my life?  Has this experience ruined me for any future, truer love?

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The idea of falling in love again scares me…

I’m horrified by the idea of it…really.

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Can you relate?

What if this happens to me again? If betrayal happened to me again, I know I would not survive it.  Its not that I don’t want to love again, I do, but it would take an extraordinary man to take me on, I am so broken. I feel like he would almost need to be a therapist. I even told this to my therapist.  She laughed. I was being serious.

How do I let someone else in my life after such a complete, and total betrayal?

Then there is the thing that most men have been exposed to pornography, to one degree or another.  If they were to confess that to me, how do I keep from freaking out over such a frank revelation?

So here is what I know about me…

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Any man who loves me will:

  • Need to be completely open, honest and transparent with me
  • Go through couples therapy with me for as long as it takes
  • Willing to learn how to deal with someone who has PTSD
  • Willing to build trust with me over time
  • Be a righteous priesthood holder with a current temple recommend
  • Initiate daily prayer and scripture study
  • Go to addiction recovery classes, even if he doesn’t have an addiction

And what all of this tells me, is that I need something that maybe does not exist.  I am waiting for a Unicorn. I’m hoping I might be able to find one, because I still believe in magic.

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Stay Sweet, Be Strong

betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Trauma Response Rescues

Do you know what a “Trigger” is?

A “Trigger” is any event that brings up old feelings of panic and danger even if there is no danger around.  It is a PTSD response very similar to what war veterans experience.  One minute you are fine and the next you are not.  the emotional response happens immediately and without warning when a Trigger presents it’s self. Triggers can be places, people, times of year, events, holidays, weather, smells, sounds, music, memories; anything can be a Trigger. And because of this it is nearly impossible to avoid your Triggers! Triggers bring up past trauma unexpectedly and with such force that often it can feel like you are actually reliving a traumatic experience. This really sucks!

The part about my Triggers that angers me off the most is my ex-husband doesn’t give a flying flip that he has done this to me or his family.  He doesnt care in the least.  If he did care at all then he would be working to alleviate the triggers and the pain that comes with it.  Instead, he is off chasing his new girlfriend because he “deserves some happiness.”  I know I am not alone in this.  My kids suffer, and my grandkids suffer.  We all suffer the devastation while all he cares about is his own happiness.  So here we are having to deal with these difficult emotional responses without any assistance (even financial assistance) from the perpetrator. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I have a triggered response everytime I drive by the hotel where my daughter caught my husband in a hotel room with another woman.  When I drive by this hotel I burst into tears and re-live the whole ugly experience again and again.  Because of a series of business meeting I have had this week I have had to drive by this particular hotel 6 times this week. It has been brutal!  I could have gone out of my way to avoid it, gone another way, but I am determined not to let these experiences run me or my life.  So I chose to just power through it this week. But how do you do that?  How do you face something so painful head on?

dissociation-triggersI have learned that when triggers come it is because your pre-frontal cortex (thinking brain) has been hijacked by your limbic brain (emotional brain).  To beat back the trigger you must access the  pre-frontal cortex and put it back and charge.  As you learn to do this you can quickly disarm the lymbic brain, redirect the thought patterns, and put the pre-frontal cortex back in charge.  This works for any kind of panic or anxiety response.  The idea “control your thoughts, control your destiny” is really very true.  Gaining power over Triggers is getting back the power over your mind.  Triggers won’t go away, but you can lessen their effects, and with practice, stop them as they are happening.

 

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My ex-husband is a dementor. He sucks all the happiness out of his family members and leaves them for dead.

I was reminded of what triggers are like while watching Harry Potter with my daughter last week.  Triggers are like Boggarts, they are not real, they look real and they feel real, but they are just your worst fears manifest. The students of Hogwarts were able to fight them with a spell… “expecto patronum!”  The Boggart was vanquished and thrown back into the box by most of the students.  Except some Boggarts are scarier than others.  Demetors are the scariest. I have come to think of Triggers as Dementors, they suck all the happiness right out of you! For a while Harry had to have help fighting against the Dementors.  At first, he couldn’t do it alone.  It took practice!  But when he eventually needed to rely on himself to do it, he was able to becuase he practiced. Beating back Triggers, especially the scariest ones, is a lot like that, it will take practice and patience with yourself.

So here are a few tips and tricks for putting your thinking brain back in charge:

Breathe – deep, mindful breathing. Breathe in, hold it for the count of four. Breathe out slowly whild counting to four.

Affirmations – Repeat your affirmations over and over until the trigger subsides. Make sure you have a list of daily affirmations that support areas where you are struggling.

Count and tap – cross your arms over your chest and touch your hands to your shoulders.  Begin counting.  As you count tap every other shoulder.  Do this for a count of six and then start over.  Continue until the fear and panic subside.  It will usually take about 15 to 20 sets of these.  It also really helps if you deep breathe with tap.  Breathe in , 1, Breathe out, 2, and so on.

Count your blessings – it is surprising how simple this is and how well it works.

Prayer – Prayer is a powerful antidote to Triggers.  Use it to pour your heart out to your Heavenly Father  and ask for help in overcoming your Triggers. He will tell you what will work best for you!

Read an interesting book –Keep a book around for this purpose.  In times of triggers I often open up my scriptures.  Its the book that works the best for me!

Work on a project – keep a craft or other project handy you can work on.  Crocheting, knitting or cross-stitch are all great for anxiety because of the counting aspects to them.

Workout – working out does wonders for releasing endorphines that will lift your spirit and improve your mood and outlook.

Go for a Walk – Walking outdoors and breathing in fresh air does wonders for the mind and the soul!

Mindful Meditations – there are a number of Apps that will help you with this.  Search the app store for mindful meditations, self hypnosis and meditation.  You will find plenty of free and paid apps.  Some of them you can try before you buy.  I have used Surf City apps, Happify and Head Space with lots of success.

Call a friend – sometimes you just need to talk things out with a trusted friend.  Call her. It will help.

Call your sponsor – if you are in a 12-step program then you will have a sponsor you can call when you are having a tough time. She will be a great listening ear and resource.  Your sponsor often understands in ways a friend can’t because she has traveled the road you are now on.

You can see that these remedies for trigger responses are also self care.  As you make an effort to do your “dailies” of self care you will build up a muscle memory response to triggers.  Over time you will automatically start to respond to the triggers in more helpful and healthy ways.  This is one of the reasons that self care is so important to do everyday!

What are some of the things you do to help overcome your triggers?

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Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, betrayal, My Story, Uncategorized

Fool Me Once…

For anyone who has ever been betrayed by a porn/sex addict, it should come as no surprise to learn that this isn’t my first foray into the mind-bending denial of an addict. Once this becomes a part of your life it comes back again and again unless the addict gets serious about making lifelong changes.  The first time (that I am aware of) was 10 years ago, while my husband was the Bishop of our LDS Ward. It was just as terrible then as it is now. Believe me. I didn’t think I could handle it then anymore than I feel I can do it now.  It’s a lot like welcoming a death eater to live in your house. All the happiness gets sucked out. Nobody in their right mind would welcome a death eater into their home, even for a few minutes. It sucks all the happiness out. Literally.

It was remarkably different this time. Because I was different. I guess when you have a close encounter with a death eater it changes you. Forever.

Even back then, he did everything he could to wiggle out of committing to any real recovery. He complained about being on medication for anxiety, and OCD. He fussed endlessly about the cost of therapy. He said he didn’t have an addiction. He didn’t get anything out of 12-steps and it was boring. He convinced me it would never happen again. His explainations (excuses) were relentless. He wore me down. He also convinced the Stake Priesthood leaders that he “just made a mistake.” So his church discipline amounted to a slap on the wrist. I argued with them to the point that I could tell I was about to cross that line.  I might be the one disciplined if I didn’t just be quiet and take their decision to do nothing about my husband’s “mistake” without another complaint. I was told this was for the best and would save our family from embarrassment. I strongly disagreed. Years later when this happened again, I learned a disciplinary counsel should have been called automatically because he was the Bishop. I was livid.

I still hold these men somewhat accountable for what happened to our family after that. Had they held my husband accountable back then, we might have been spared what we are going through now. Most notability, his insistence that he doesn’t have an addiction.

Had he been properly disciplined and held accountable back then, when I saw true remorse in him, he might have stayed in recovery. As it was, he had zero incentive to continue to recover after the crisis of the initial shame and guilt had past. He was left to his own devices. And we were left to the mercy of his “word” that this would never happen again.

Deep down I knew differently.

So I did what I always do when faced with a problem I know nothing about. I did research. Lots of it, until I became a subject matter expert on sex and porn addiction. I had to know what I was dealing with. Knowledge is power. I knew that if this awfulness ever came back into our home I would need to know what to do to protect myself and our family. So I studied and I worked on my own recovery and let him figure out his (which amounted to nothing of real significance.) After a few months everything seemed to go back to normal. Overtime, he even convinced me that I had “over reacted.”  He said it was an isolated incident and it would never happen again.

I believed him. Because I wanted to believe him.

Even though all the studies, research, and books I read, screamed at me to be careful, it takes hard work to overcome an addiction. I threw caution to the wind! After all, he is a good man. Right? He is entitled to make a mistake and repent from it, right? The problem is that I believed we were the exception because he convinced me that all those stats didn’t apply to us. That is never good.

Looking back, I willfully and stupidly ignored the red flags; His insistence that he didn’t have an addiction, his refusal to stay in counseling, and choosing to not stay on medication were the biggest red flags. I should have set the boundaries that he continue in recovery if he wanted to continue living in the same space with me. But I didn’t. He was stubborn and insistent he could handle this in his own way. So I let him. That was what I was learning about not being an enabler – let him figure it out for himself. He had to choose recovery and do it on his own terms. To make matters worse, was that I was dealing with my own trauma and I didn’t know it. Back then women were enablers not victims themselves. I didn’t know I had the right to feel safe and secure in what he was doing to show me he could be trusted again. You don’t know what you don’t know.

While I could think of little else, He did very little to rebuild trust. He dealt with it by ignoring it. He chose the white-knuckle method of recovery, which is to just decide to never do it again. It would go away. End of story. So I went along with it, knowing that when I least expected it, it would all come crashing down around me again.

Boy did it!

Five years later, my life would change forever. Not in a good way. I guess Mr. Whiteknuckles got tired of holding on. Just when I had just started to believe he was right. Just when I started to believe he had it all under control. At the exact moment I was letting out a sigh of relief, I took a sucker punch to the gut. It knocked all the wind out of me!

In that moment, while I struggled just to keep living, I knew I could never do this again. Ever. Something had to change. The first time, we did it his way. This time I was in a much better position to know what I needed from him to restore and repair our relationship and how to articulate those needs to him. Or so I thought.

Have you ever seen a two year old throw a fit because they don’t get their way? If you give into the child’s demands in that moment then you lose all credibility as a parent for future battles. They learn quickly that if they scream at you loudly enough, embarrass you with tantrums in public, and tell the whole world they hate you that they can shame you into giving into their irrational demands. We’ve all seen it right? My girls were queens of the temper tantrums. But no matter how much they yelled, it was my job to teach them that they cannot behave that way. Right?

You can’t reason with a two-year old. They need boundaries. Guidance.

I believe this is kind of what happened with my husband. He got away with doing things his way the first time, back up by unwitting church leaders. So much so, that the second time he upped the tantrum level to unbearable to get me to give in to him again. I really believe that the tantrums addicts can throw are similar in scope and nature to a two year old. It is quite daunting to see a grown man be so irrational!

What he doesn’t get, and probably never will, is that if he wants me back there must be changes, seen and unseen. I could give him a pass. Once. I can’t do it again. Not because I won’t. I can’t. I can’t go through this again. Ever.

The difference was that this time, I KNEW what had to be done. It couldn’t be ignored again. Not this time! I KNEW I deserved to be treated with respect. This time I KNEW he needed to WORK to rebuild trust. Provide safety. Work to reconnect with me. This time I deserved more than just taking his word for it. I had done my recovery work the first time. This time I KNEW he was an addict and I cannot be talked out if that fact. The evidence was overwhelming and undeniable. I know better this time. Remember what I said about “knowledge is power?”

Getting into recovery for your own trauma gives you the power and knowledge to know what you should and should not have endure. You learn how to protect youself from furture attacks and what to do when they happen. Knowing what to do gives you a level of protection you cannot have if you choose to remain willfully ignorant.

Because I know how an addict behaves; what they do, say and think, it helps me see through the lies and deception to discern what is really happening.

We all know that kids try to get away with lying about something they did that was wrong. And because we were kids ourselves and tried to get away with the same thing, we see through it. We understand, by our own experience, what a lie looks like and how to recognize it. It’s the same thing with an addict. If you refuse to get yourself educated about what addiction looks like and how to overcome it, well, you don’t know what you don’t know. That is a level of ignorance that only hurts you.

For example: my husband’s tantrum is that he is NOT an addict. Quite frankly, I don’t care what you call it. The label makes zero difference. It’s the behavior that is disturbing. His behavior is classic addict behavior. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say for the sake of argument that he is not an addict. His continuing betrayals, caused me to be traumatized by his behavior. Betrayal truama is caused by BETRAYAL. It matters very little how the poison of betrayal was delivered. What matters is how to repair it. And the reparations for one affair or 50 are exactly the same! The same recovery for a marriage damaged by betrayal is the same as the recovery for a marriage damaged by sex addiction. Restoring safety, connection and trust are exactly the SAME!

So when he is stubbornly insisting that he doesn’t have an addiction and thinks he doesn’t have to do recovery to fix our relationship, I have the understanding and wisdom to know better. He just wants me to give him another pass.

This time I can’t.

IMHO women who keep giving into the temper tantrums of the addict are making it harder and harder for him to take her seriously! So set your boundaries ladies! You deserve better! You deserve to have a husband who believes you are worth it to give you his best self and his best efforts!

Don’t settle. Remember –

fool me once shame in you, fool me twice, shame on me.