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

EMDR Therapy Intake Appointment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, betrayal, Coping, Emotional, gaslighting, lying, My Story, Narcissist, no contact, PTSD, Trauma Recovery

Walking Away…for the Last Time

Please tell me I am not the only one!  Here I sit, almost 6 months after my divorce, still renumerating over the last two years of my life.  I wanted it to turn out so much differently.  I never wanted this!  I keep going over  and over and over it in my head, trying to pick up every piece of my life, I kneel down, see a new shattered aspect of my life, pick it up, and turn it over in my hand searching for a new clue to what happened to me.  What could I have done better?  What did I miss?  Was it really my fault, like he tells me it is? Why doesn’t he love me enough to get himself into recovery?  How did I find myself here…alone.  The things I do to myself in my head are excruciating.  My mind is my own best instrument of torture.  I carry the instruments of torture with me, everywhere I go.  This is not where I am supposed to be at this point of my life!  Why me!?

3a130e1702bb214d8924617f73a5d659I live in this space of pain everyday.  Often, sleep is my only escape.  Even then, I sometimes wake up, only to realize I was crying in my sleep. Tears spill out of my closed eyelids and down my cheeks before I wake up.  My face bathed in tears while I am sleeping!  How is that even possible?

Walking away from an addict, I am finding out, is more difficult than I thought it would be.  It is hard to understand it.  It’s a whole other level of crazymaking that I had not even anticipated.  He spent two years driving me crazy with his crazymaking, now I will finish myself off with mine.  Whoever said that addiction doesnt hurt anyone but the person doing it is lying!

Silly me, I keep thinking he would or could get a handle on himself to repair his relationships to a minimum level of civility so we could at least be in the same room.  Alas, that is not to be.  At least not for a long time.  My kids keep telling me its going to take their dad years to come back to himself, if ever.  I try to wrap my brain around this.  This man who had it all together for decades of marriage, is such a mess, he may never come out of it.  How is that possible?

So here is the dilemma.  Do I keep torturing myself with all the what ifs, could have beens, and shoulds? Or do I move on with what only I have control of? Me.  Me? I divorced him to save me, after all!  And here I am, still stuck in the prinson of abuse of my own making.  Why do I do this to myself?  What would make a perfectly sane person succumb to the insanity of another person?

It turns out that this is a thing!  I have become addicted to the addict!  Crazy! Right?  In this article, “Your Brain on Love, Sex and the Narcissist” I learned much about my own baffling behavior over the past 6 months.

Many survivors of narcissistic abuse are confounded by the addiction they feel to the narcissist, long after the abusive relationship took a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Make no mistake: recovery from an abusive relationship can be very similar to withdrawal from drug addiction due to the biochemical bonds we may develop with our toxic ex-partners. Shahida Arabi 

It is important to understand that women in relationships with addicts are battling so much more than just the behaviors of the addict.  It is also the same as being held hostage and tortured emotionally. No wonder so many of us end up with PTSD!  We are literally on the frontline of a battle for the health and survival of the family.  Many women willingly put themselves in the line of fire for their husbands, children, and families. That is what women do! It is in our natures to protect our family. But being in the battle, especially if we have been battling without the right equipment for our protection, leaves us vulnerable to being injured, and even, captured by the “enemy.”

Understanding why we are addicted permits us recognize that our addiction is not about the merits of the narcissist, but rather the nature and severity of the trauma we’ve experienced. It enables us to detach and move forward with powerful knowledge that can propel us towards greater agency and healthier relationships than the ones we’ve experienced in the past. In addition, it challenges the victim-blaming discourse in society that prevents many abuse survivors from gaining support and validation for the traumas they’ve experienced – validation that would actually help, not hinder, these survivors in leaving their abusive relationships. Shahida Arabi 

I was able to escape my abuse.  But the lasting effects of PTSD keep me reliving the experiences, and that isn’t healthy.  What was a relief is that I am not crazy.  This is a thing!  A real thing!

I had a long talk with my son about this over the weekend.  I just need to walk away.  The only way to healing for me is NO CONTACT with my ex.  I need the time and space and time to shrug off the effects of my own addiction to my ex.  Like my son told me, “You do not want him the way he is now. So why waste anymore time on him? If you met him for the first time today you wouldn’t give him another thought. You might not go on a first date with him, and certainly not a second date. So why are you wasting your time on him now?” All of these are fair questions and something I have been seriously thinking on now for a few days. It is time, no past time, to get serious about going no contact if I am going to really survive the last two years.

What is NO CONTACT?  How do you do it?

It’s difficult to go NO CONTACT with an addict/abuser. However, when you are in the situtation where NO CONTACT is necessary, here are affirmations to help you to stick with it.

I want to make one last point, something that will end this on a more spiritual note.  My faith has been really suffering since my divorce.  In many ways I feel as if the Lord has abandoned me.  I feel, completely, utterly, alone, spiritually speaking, more often than not.  This weekend I dedicated my study efforts on the General Conference talk  “What Lack I Yet?”  by Larry Lawrence.  I have committed to ask the Lord each day what I am Lacking that is holding me back and keeping me from moving forward.  The answers have been interesting and helpful and have served as a witness to me that I am not alone!  I am seen. I am heard.  And I am loved by the Lord.  He is here, willing and ready to help me if I will turn to him. Here is my example:

I was praying fervently this morning about why I am having such a hard time getting my Ex out of my head.  Why do I think about him ALL.THE.TIME? I can’t seem to break out of this cycle no matter how hard I try. What is wrong with me? I asked the Lord for help in getting him out of my head.  I am really sick of this.  It isn’t fun for me and I do not enjoy it at all.  I want to be happy! Please, Lord, help me to be happy!  The answer came.  It came quite quickly and forcefully, but ever so kind:

Cupcake, why do you spend every waking thought on the Cheater? He is not your Savior, I am! Your every thought should be on me, not him. In this way, are you not betraying me also?

Whoa! I think this is a breakthrough moment for me.  The way to stop obsessing on the Ex is to put all my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and attention on the Savior.  He will then be able to save me.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior