addiction, betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery

I Accept…

Acceptance Letter

Write a letter telling your partner the things that you accept about your life as it is now.  This doesn’t mean you agree with it or approve.  It just means that you accept the way things are at this time.

Acceptance is a difficult concept.  It means to acknowledge, yield, and surrender to present circumstances. To accept this I must respect your choices, become resigned to learning to live with life the way it is, not the way I want it to be.

screen-shot-2015-07-08-at-1-30-38-pm

I had learned to accept all of you, faults and all.  I have loved you as unconditionally as I knew how, even when I was ignored and hurting.  But accepting this, is the hardest thing I have ever done, or ever had to do.  The road to acceptance is long and difficult.  I feel it is more a process than a destination. I am not sure I really can accept everything that has happened to me, but really, what choice do I have?  If I do not accept this, then it just hurts me further, and one thing I cannot live with is more hurt.  Acceptance, by definition, comes in layers of respect, acknowledgment, yielding, surrendering, submitting, and finally, being satisfied with the outcome. So here is what I accept…

Respect

Respect is a feeling of understanding that encourages you to value someone enough to treat that person in an appropriate way. From this definition, I can truthfully express respect for you.  I have loved your for more than 3 decades.  I value you and respect you enough to move out of your way so that you can pursue the decisions that you have now decided to make, without input or demands from me.  You are free to make your own decisions and I respect that.  Learning to live with it, will be what is the most difficult for me.

I understand and respect myself enough to know that I cannot live with your current reality.  I must walk away until you figure this out.  I deserve to be treated better, so until that happens, if it ever does, I cannot be with you. It’s has been the most difficult thing I have ever done to put myself first and to believe my needs matter enough to meet them, no matter how difficult that is for either of us.

I respect you enough to let you make your own choices. And I respect me enough to do what I need to do for me because of your choices. I have come to accept this.

Acknowledge

When someone acknowledges something it means they are able to recognize the existence, truth or facts of a particular situation and to express the realization that they recognize the authority and validity of the facts.

I acknowledge the truth, facts and existence of your addictive and compulsive behaviors that cause you to act out sexually in inappropriate ways. I had to acknowledge this so that I could find peace and healing for myself. I also acknowledge that you do not agree with this truth because you have not yet learned it for yourself.

I understand that when you do, finally understand, that it will be very difficult for you to accept. But, your family will be here for you to help you through that when the time comes and you are humble enough to recognize it.

I have had to come to accept this for my own sanity.

Yield

Yielding means giving into or going along with the demands, or will of another.

You have always had a very strong will.  One that is very difficult to go up against.  I have often said, you could convince anyone of anything you wanted them to believe.  Your will has been so overpowering that I have often yielded to you just to keep the peace.  It’s much easier to agree with you than to oppose you. Taking the opposite view from yours puts me in a line of fire that is more than difficult to defend or survive.  So, being in opposition to you has always come with a cost.  The price I have paid is losing myself, my needs, my wants, my goals and my values in life.  You do not value me or respect me enough to let me be my own person.  I gave up so much for you.  Yielding to you has been the story of my life. You do not take opposition well.  Your response to it is oppression.

Another word for yield is, to defy.  I knew I could never defy you without serious consequences.  So it took something very serious for me to summon the courage and strength to do that – you broke a core belief. Which is complete fidelity in marriage.  However, I also believe in forgiveness and repentance.  To repent means to change.  So far, that hasn’t happened, so I am forced to acquiesce to you, or betray my core foundational principles. Those were my only two choices.

I cannot betray my belief system.  So, for me, this choice wasn’t easy, but it was the only choice I could make.  You forced me to sacrifice “us” for my core foundational principles.

I cannot yield to you.  I must yield to God. I have come to accept this.

surrender

Surrender 

Surrender is a lot like yielding.  But in this context it is yielding to a higher power, control or demands.  While I cannot yield to your power, control or demands, I can surrender my all to God.

I could not surrender to you, nor could I surrender to me.  Both of us are flesh and blood and we make mistakes, but Heavenly Father does not make mistakes.  He can guide us perfectly through the storms and vicissitudes of life if we surrender our will to His. It became clear to me, early on, that His way was the ONLY way. My one true path. The rock of my foundation. The only way I was going to make it through this in once piece.

So I made a very critical choice – to surrender to Him.  It was the best and most important thing I have ever done.  The only way I could navigate this was to say, “thy will be done!”

There is no other way for me. I have come to accept this.

Submit

Submitting to these truths have been the only way for me to find peace so far.  I don’t like or love any of it.  But there is nothing I can do to interfere with your agency, no matter how much I wish for it.  Our Heavenly Father has declared agency to be a bedrock right.  We were sent to this earth to learn, by our own experience to distinguish the good from the evil.  The only thing that allows that to happen is our agency, there is no other way. I cannot force you to make better choices, no matter how much I may want to do it. I can’t. So rather than be angry at you for making what are, in my opinion, the wrong choices, the best thing I can do for myself and you is to withdraw  to a safe enough distance for me so that you can figure this out for yourself without causing me further damage and so that I can heal regardless of what you do or do not do.

Heavenly Father’s plan is truly merciful for both of us.

sunset in heart hands

Satisfied

Full acceptance mean to be satisfied with the current situation. The mind is at rest, the soul is at peace.  Accepting means that it will suffice for now.  It is good enough.

Is my life the way I want it to be?  NO!  Everything I ever believed has been challenged.  My life, how it was, has been taken from me, along with all of my hopes and dreams.  Accepting what was done to me has been the hardest thing I have been ever asked to do. There was a time, when I believed it would be impossible!  Difficult? Yes!  Impossible? No.  But it does take time and effort.  Healing from deep wounds is never quick or easy.

But I am satisfied that, in time, I will heal.  I will find peace.  My mind will be at rest. And my life will be restored by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. I have already come so far!  Much farther than I ever believed I could, all because of Him, who is mighty to save!

Until then, I am satisfied that I will recover.  I am satisfied that, eventually, my life will be better than I dreamed it could be. I am satisfied that God’s got this. With or without you, I will be ok.

I accept this.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

abuse, addiction, betrayal, My Story, Spiritual, Spiritual

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 Cheater 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 OCPD. 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. they even threatened to take away my temple recommend if I didn’t comply.  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 “overreacted.”  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 and 100% commitment  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 kind of thinking is never good.

Looking back, I willfully and stupidly ignored all 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.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

abuse, addiction, betrayal, boundaries, Emotional, My Story, Narcissist

Abuse, Dressed in a Suit

I used to think that because my husband was in leadership callings in the church that he should have, would have learned how he was supposed to treat his wife.  He should have known better by osmosis, I guess. I believed because he kept all outward appearances of a good, active member of the church that eventually his inward feelings and behaviors would change to match.  Because he lived in this space where his thoughts and actions were disconnected most of the time, I believe this set him up to become more abusive over time. Let me explain:

I don’t feel that my husband was particularly abusive to me during our 38-yer marriage. He was somewhat critical, kind of sarcastic, a little controlling, sort of demeaning, and maybe he tended to be distant and disconnected at times.  I mean, really, how connected can you be when you travel 50 to 75% of the time?  I think our marriage worked well because he was gone so much.  We really only saw each other on the weekends, and Sunday he was gone most of the day taking care of church responsibilities. With the limited time I had to spend with him, I didn’t see these darker sides of him all that often. Until…

About 15 years ago he started going through a series of job losses.  One right after the other.  Every two years he was either losing a job or just looking for another one.  Just because.  He was restless. Bored. Or so it seemed.  The worst sides of him also came out, or I saw them more often, because he was home more often.  Sometimes for months at a time.  Sometimes for a year or more.  He was with me 24/7. That is when the trouble really started. He couldn’t control his world, so he decided to control mine. Before, what seemed to be a character that was just a little off, became full-blown awful.  I wanted to run and hide from him, most of the time.  Somewhat critical, became critical to the point of meanness.  All his other character flaws intensified as well.  It got to the point that I couldn’t stand to be around him.  So I withdrew. Would you want to be around someone who criticized and nit-picked your every move? No. Me either.

Man-trying-to-explain-to-angry-wife-Credit-Wavebreak-Media-630x419

I am not sure when the cheating began.  I am not exactly sure why it started, or who caused it. All I know is the dynamic between us became the perfect storm. Was he more critical, controlling and sarcastic to me because he was already cheating, or because he was without a job?  I won’t ever know.  He has been less than forthcoming about what he has been doing with other women, and when it started.  So I won’t ever know for sure. But, now, after years of therapy, counseling, and reading about addiction, I can make an educated guess. Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say. He certainly had enough opportunity to cheat.  And chronic job losses is a symptom of addiction.  Before this turning point in our lives he was very stable. He stayed with the same company for over 20 years.

Why am I telling you this?  The reason is simple.  Nobody, and I mean nobody should ever have to put up with being put down…ever.  Husbands are not allowed to talk down to their wives, make fun of them, be critical or otherwise subtly abuse them. Even if they are a fine, upstanding member of the church who has important callings and wears a suit to work.  Abuse doesn’t just happen in low-income families or among blue-collar workers. He may never have to hit you to do you harm.

The sinister side of emotional abuse is that it is rarely seen as abuse.  In order to discount this sort of behavior, it is very easy for a spouse to say to you:

“I was just teasing/joking.”

“Can’t you take a joke?”

“You are too sensitive.”

“I can’t say anything to you!”

“This is just the way I am.”

“Why do you take everything so personally? I didn’t mean it that way!”

As I’ve observed sarcasm in social interactions, I’ve noted that those who use it tend to underestimate its negative effects because they assume that what they say is humorous instead of hurtful. People who use sarcasm often think their targets are too sensitive or naïve when feelings get hurt.7 “She just can’t take a joke,” they say. In more disturbing cases, sarcasm communicates contempt for others and gives people the “dishonest opportunity to wound without looking like they’re wounding.” If someone feels hurt by such sarcasm, the one who made the verbal jab will often respond with something like, “I was only teasing! Lighten up.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Seems benign, right? Not if it is long-term, chronic, on going. Emotional abusers get away with the abuse by manipulating the person they are abusing into believing that they are the problem.  It’s your fault, not his.  He will insist that you believe it is ok to be treated disrespectfully, and that you are the problem to boot!  Not cool!

The Greek root for sarcasm is sarkazein and means “to tear flesh like dogs.”1 One dictionary defines sarcasm as irony designed to “give pain.”2Sarcasm has many uses in our communication: it can convey aggression and insult,3 it can be used to dominate others,4 and it can communicate contempt and anger.5 Not all sarcasm is intentionally sinister, but it has a hypocritical edge because it requires us to say the opposite of what we mean. Some use it for humor, but it often damages our relationships because it leaves our friends and family doubting our sincerity and confused by what we say.  ~Gordon B. Hinckley

I allowed my husband to treat me this way. I admit it. Mostly, because I couldn’t how to articulate how his constant talking down to me caused me to feel in any meaningful way, at least not in any way to that would get him to stop.  Because I didn’t set good boundaries about how I expected to be treated at the beginning of our marriage, I sent unspoken messages to him that it was ok for him to talk down to me.  Familiarity breeds contempt.  So when life got tough, and his behavior got more critical, I had nothing in place to protect me from the effects of addiction on his previous flaws. I learned that when there is a disconnect in the integration between words and actions, there is going to be problems when life brings deep challenges. Does this make any sense?

“I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Standing up for yourself, setting boundaries, and expecting respect, are all healthy for a great marriage!  NO ONE, deserves anything less that the best from their spouse. Don’t accept anything but the best from your spouse.  Anything less, is abuse.  Being married does not give a spouse the license to treat the other one badly!

Everyone has bad days.  We all make mistakes.  There are times we say mean things.  This should be the EXCEPTION not the RULE.  If it is the rule in your marriage, you are probably  experiencing abuse. If your husband is treating you in a disrespectful way, over a long period of time, then it is up to you to set some boundaries and raise expectations for how you expect to be treated.  Don’t allow anything less, even if he is active in church, holds leadership callings, has family prayers and scripture study, or keeps up appearances.  Abuse is abuse. Even if it is dressed in a suit.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!