betrayal, My Story, Uncategorized

Family-versary

50587074_10155678944797434_7226289265863294976_n

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.

50545004_10215315258687548_3966903610733756416_n.jpg

 

50581457_10215315258927554_8843472932458987520_n.jpg

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!

chocolate cupcake warrior

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.

grief

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.

social-support-1024x683.jpg

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.

Frais-bambou-for-t-d-eau-sur-pierre-yoga-spa-salon-papier-peint-3d-mur-mural.jpg

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.

maxresdefault.jpg

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.

hit-by-a-truck-driver-in-st-louis.jpg

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.

EDSign.jpg

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!

Journey.jpg

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!

Silhouette Studio Designer Edition: Paper Cupcake Warrior Logo

The Cupcake Warrior

 

betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Everything Does NOT Happen for a Reason, So Stop Saying That!

“Well, everything happens for a reason.” My friend says with a sigh.

wsi-edt007

I know she means well. The comment is meant to bring me comfort, and help her feel that she is connecting with my pain, on some level. It is the sort of thing people say when they don’t know what to say. But this is an assumption that doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t make someone experiencing the grief of a tragedy feel any better.

I recently read an article that more closely resembled my feelings that ‘not everything happens for a reason’ and some things are just senseless. I was able to codify my feelings in my therapist’s office last week so I will share them with you now. I told her how this comment really upsets me when anyone says it, to anyone. Her response both surprised me and helped me to connect with her. She gets me.

“I know! People used to say that to me too and it made me so mad! This did not happen for a reason!”

Yes! Bingo!

Someone cheating on you over and over doesn’t happen by some grand design meant to make you a “stronger person.” Like my therapist said, “I was a good person already, I would have ‘gotten there’ on my own! I didn’t need this to make me a better person!”

Yeah. Me too.

books-self-improvement-1280.jpg

Self improvement is my middle name. I am the sort of person who sets goals, and achieves them. I read self-help books. All the time. I want to be better, to do better, at my core. I believe in becoming. It’s in my DNA. It is who I am. I didn’t need some bonehead dumping my world upside down to accomplish what I was already in the process of doing. In many ways, he derailed me, and set me back…years. What I needed was a committed companion to take my hand and help me on my journey. I needed love and support. I needed to be nourished, not hit upside the head with a two by four. I needed to feel connected to my core foundation, my primary relationship attachment.  My husband. Not to suffer atrocities of his own making.

There is no doubt that I will learn some lessons along the way.  There are lessons to be learned in every experience. I do not want to discount this. But betrayal? Infidelity? PTSD? Shock? Grief? Are these the lessons I really needed to learn to grow as a person? Did I need this? Really? Was this somehow a part of God grand design for me? No. Absolutely not! I do not believe this for a minute. It is milarky.

Let’s talk about the suffering of the innocent. Shall we?

Every person on this earth will suffer needlessly at the hand of some careless idiot. Or worse. Someone who is evil at their core. We see it happen everyday. Mass shootings, betrayal, assault, abuse and exploitation, to name a few. All of these things are hideous and senseless. They should not happen. Ever!

But they do. The Lord knew this and he provided for it. Bad things happen because Heavenly Father values agency above nearly everything else. The freedom to choose is paramount to our salvation. We have to be FREE to CHOOSE HIM…or no. Because of this, some people’s choices hurt other people. Profoundly. But I do not believe these lapses in judgment are somehow part of God’s grand design. No. If it were so, I would be experiencing a crisis of faith, because that would mean that God is not loving, but punitive. He would be rightly accused of picking winners and losers among His children. Playing favorites. That is not the kind of God I could trust with my pain.

choose

But I have it on good authority that God is as upset as I am over the abuses I have suffered at the hands of my ex-husband. Alma teaches this principle very plainly in the Book of Mormon.

Alma and Amulek were missionaries who experienced great success. So much so, that the government rulers were angry at the faithfulness of the people Alma and Amulek converted. The rulers decided that if these new converts did not denounce their new-found religion they would kill all their wives and children, and throw scriptures in a fire with them for good measure. And to make it all the more evil, they would make these faithful men watch it all! How horrific. I can think of very few things that are worse than this. The Lord is very clear in showing this example how he feels. Causing others to suffer because of their wickedness is not acceptable to Him! It isn’t part of HIS plan! It is outrageous!

BRITAIN-TRADITION-VIKING

Evidently, that is how Amulek reacted as well, and he wants Alma to stop this atrocity. He knew that the power of God could stop it! But Alma is restrained from stopping it by the Spirit, and he explains why:

“The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.” Alma 14:11

In other words, the Lord allow bad things to happen to good people so that He can justify punishing the bad people. It was explained to me this way –  If someone wants to kill their brother but never does it, they could say to God at the judgment day, “Well, I never actually did it. No crime was committed.” Even if God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, he has no proof of the desires of the wicked brother because he was never allowed to act on the intent of his heart. But, if on the other hand, the evil brother acts out his wicked desires, boom! He is so guilty! God is justified and his punishement is just.

So the awful things humans do to each other are not part of God’s grand design. They are the consequences of the agency of another person. AND it allows God to justly punish the wicked.

God did not do this to me to teach me some cosmic lesson. He allowed my ex-husband to do this to me so that He would be justified in punishing him, should my ex never repent. My ex HAS acted out the evil in his heart. Now his job is to turn away from what he did and REPAIR the damage – four fold. (See D&C 98:44-45) If he doesn’t, the consequences for him will not be pretty. Justice will be served up.  Eventually.

6471148825-e5bf80d15c-b-d-1000x666.jpg

As for me, Heavenly Father has my back. He is giving me all the help and comfort I need right now to get past this, not so I can learn some unfair lesson, but so I can heal from experiencing something I never deserved. Yes, I will end up being a better person for it, maybe, because that is how I roll. But too many people who go through things equally frightful, or worse, and they won’t  be better for it, because it destroys them. Utterly and completely destroyed. Being destroyed doesn’t make you a better person. Suffering at the hands of someone you loved so deeply isn’t a life lesson that improves you. It changes you. Forever.  And not always for the better.  Betrayal isn’t a classroom the Lord uses to school his children. So please, don’t say this to your family and friends who suffer at the hands of a wicked person’s heart. It’s not true. And it certainly isn’t helpful.

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

cropped-silhouette-studio-designer-edition-paper-cupcake-warrior-logo3.png

The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, betrayal, My Story, repentance, Uncategorized

Sorry. Not Sorry

Our Anniversary would have been Monday.

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


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


And this happens…

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am truly sorry.”

img_4363-2

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

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

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

Let’s dissect  it, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and have a change of heart 

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

and even try to repair feelings and relationships, 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Doctrine & Covenants 19:15-18

I am truly sorry,

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

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

Cupcake Warrior Logo

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!




My Story, Uncategorized

What I Would Tell My Ex-Husband this Christmas if I Could Talk to Him…

Here I am again, another Christmas, alone.  This is not how I envisioned it when I discovered my husband’s multiple infidelities over two years ago.  I thought by this Christmas that it would all be an ugly nightmare we could begin to put behind us.  It would have been if he had the ability to take counsel…from anyone, but himself. It didn’t have to be this way.  It shouldn’t have been this way.  If he had the capacity to listen, everything would have been different.  I have said these things to him so many times.  He doesn’t hear me.  We don’t speak the same language anymore.  If he were the man I married, he would hear, understand, and respond. But he isn’t the man I married. Instead, he justifies his actions to fit the narrative he has created about me in his mind.  So here is my letter to him.  One of many.  Expressing again, what I would have chosen for us, if it was my choice to make.  Sadly, there are some choices I will never get to make. This is one of them…

Dear Ex,

I can do little else besides think of you during Christmas.  So many Christmas’ shared, so many memories.  They are all around me, shattered pieces of our lives that I would gladly piece back together with you if you would just be willing to do the hard work needed to repair us, repair our family…repair our lives.  I know you could…if you only wanted to do it.  I guess knowing that you don’t want to is the worst part of my life now.  I have a hard time understanding why you would not, did not, choose me, choose your family, over what your life has become now.  It seems so clear that you chose wrong. You had it all.  You gave us away, without a backwards glance. Whatever you have now is only an illusion of happiness. You and I both know you will never be happy again, unless you choose to repent, repair, and restore your family.  It is what God sent you here to do. (But now appears you have turned your back on God too.)  Without us, your life has no meaning, no happiness, no joy.  Your life now is nothing but whole cloth.  You had the real thing.  You chose to throw it away. You cannot replace something fake with what was real.

img_6942

No matter how much I may love you, there is nothing I can do about that now. I wish I could.  I would if I could. Heaven knows I tried! You have your agency to use how you see fit. Where you are now, I cannot go. I don’t even want to go where you are now. I don’t belong there.  I am better than that.  YOU are better than that too! At least you were at one point.

I still love you.  I will always love you.  You are the choice of my heart and the love of my life!  Nothing will ever change that for me.  I guess you have a hard time understanding why I would divorce you then?  You would understand if you knew the depth of my love for you.  You are a part of me.  You are as important to me as my own body.  You are no less useful than my left hand is to me.  I cannot survive my left hand anymore than I can survive without you.  I am in love with you…still.  I always will be.  You don’t spend 37 years serving another person; caring for them, standing with them, supporting them, being there for them, making love to them, listening to them, building a family and a home with them, and just “fall out of love with them.”  No.  That doesn’t happen. Divorce has NOTHING to do with how much or little I love you.  It has to do with survival.  MY SURVIVAL! You would not stop cheating on me.  For 18 months you kept another woman “on the side” just in case it did work out with me.  I couldn’t handle that.  I still can’t.  To see how little you loved me stands up against the depth of feelings I had for you, was killing me…literally. You were found lacking. There is no comparison. If you understood how much what you were doing was hurting me, then you would understand why I had to let you go.

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30

Medically speaking, a part of my body had become as poisonous as gangrene.  If I didn’t cut you off, you would have killed me. If you have cancer, you MUST cut it out before it destroys the whole body!  You had become cancer to me.  Love has nothing to do with it.  It was about my survival.  The fact that you cannot understand this, stands as a testimony of how little you care for me or my well-being. No one in their right mind would expect someone with cancer to  just “live with it.” That is just cruel. It is inhumane.

In this case, “my cancer” is you.  You are the cancer that refused to respond to  any treatment. You wouldn’t allow me to seek treatment to heal you.  You wouldn’t respond to the advice of professionals. You refused to get healthy. So you had to go. I had to remove you or die. I took no joy or happiness in being forced to cut the toxic poison from my life that you had become to me.  It is not what I would have chosen for you, for me, for us, if it were my choice to make.

I would have chosen life. Healing.  Supportive recovery. Forgiveness. Repentance. Restoration.  I would have chosen you, if you just would have chosen me first. You will never know that, because you never gave me the opportunity to show you what I am made of.

large

This is on you.  The records of heaven will prove that to you someday.  Someday,  you will see clearly, what you have done.  But not now.  So I am left with no other choice,  I have to go on with life as best as I can, having had to cut a part of me off. Trying my best to recover, even though you keep lashing out at me every chance you get. Your concern is not for my welfare, healing, or well-being.  Your concern is to hurt me for doing what was best for me.  I can only draw one conclusion from your actions; you would rather I not live at all. One day you will see the depravity of this behavior.  But in spite of all of it, I have deep compassion for you. I know you are lonely.  Hurting.  Angry. You don’t understand. I know you carry a lot of guilt and shame. I forgive you for those things you did to me, and continue to do to me.  You cannot hurt me any deeper than you already have.  So I can finally forgive you.  For all of it. I have turned you over to God and He will deal with you.

But my forgiveness doesn’t mean you can be in my life now.  Far from it. Forgiveness is my part.  Repentance is your part.  To be allowed in my life again, even if it is nothing more than friends, requires you to change your behavior.  It requires you to restore trust, safety and connection.  It requires you to learn how to treat your family with decency and respect.  These are the bare minimum requirements. When you do the things you need to do in order to heal and get healthy, your guilt and shame will go away.  You will stop lashing out. The atonement cannot swallow up your guilt and shame until you choose to become a new creature in Christ.  When you do that, had you done it already, you could have your family back. It really IS just that simple! That is what Christmas is all about, a baby who has the power to restore broken things. But you have to decide you want it. Not just say you want it…you have to really want it.  More than you want anything else in your life.

babyjesus

In the meantime, all I can do is to wait from a safe distance.  Pray for you to finally “get it.”  I still wish with all my heart you had chosen me.  But you didnt. I still wish you would.  But I cannot count on that either.  So all I can do is to try to heal and mend my broken heart. I have told you many times if you ever died I would never remarry.  In a way, you have died.  You are not the man who I thought you were. The person I fell in love with no longer exists.  He is dead to me.  Who you are now, is someone I would never want. I have a hard time believing you want to be who you are now.  Why would you? But here we are.  This is the reality.  Our new normal. It’s all so sad.

I don’t know why I bother to keep repeating myself over and over and over.  I don’t know.  Maybe if I say it enough it will get through to you. Somehow.  It seems so clear to me.  It seems clear to everyone.  Except you. Truth is easy to understand. I know these words fall of deaf ears.  They have fallen on deaf ears for two years now.  I suspect they will fall on deaf ears for many more years to come unless you change.  The truth is, this is what I have said to you from the day I found out about your affairs.  I have said the same thing to you nearly every day since then.  I feel like a broken record. I will continue to say the same thing to the end of time, because this is the only path back to me.  Back to our family. Back to God. There is no other way, no other short cut.  Sadly, you can choose to sin in whatever way you want, but you cannot choose how to repent.  Repentance is set in stone. Those terms are set by God.  Bargaining with Him won’t change his mind.You have no choice but to submit to His will on this, no matter how stubborn you are or how right you think you are.  Repentance has a set pattern.  It requires your heart. Giving your heart cannot be faked. You do not know more than God and you cannot fool Him. You can’t trick Him into believing you have repented. You will know when you have really repented because your life will immediately improve! When you can finally submit your heart to Him, that is when you will know it is real. This is your ultimate test.  The mother of all tests.  I hope you don’t fail.

How long will it take for you to figure this out? Will anything get through to you?

Maybe by then, someday, none of us will have to spend another Christmas as a broken family.

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.

 

dementors-dudley-615x356
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?

Silhouette Studio Designer Edition: Paper Cupcake Warrior Logo

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, betrayal, Uncategorized

He Said…She Said; The Denial Effect

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

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

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

three-monkeys

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

 

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

1d4434f48e2a223d16797413b7bdd213

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

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

girl-and-the-rain-sad-songs-16929572-500-706-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————-

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

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

Remember…

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

Cupcake Warrior Logo

addiction, betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

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.

addiction, betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

How You Nearly Destroyed Me…

Anger Letter

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

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

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

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

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

I feel anger towards you because… 

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

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

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

If It Walks Like a Duck…

Let’s talk about addiction, shall we?

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

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

Behaviors that are linked to an addictive brain will produce;

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

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

I feel anger towards you because…

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

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

7-os06025-getty

The Marriage Covenant…

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

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

I feel anger towards you because… 

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

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

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

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

tumblr_nearh525wv1tkbhibo1_500

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

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

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

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

You’re Not Easy to Live With…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel anger towards you because…

75827-Heart-Broken-Picture-Quotes-S

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

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

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

Setting the House on Fire…

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

match

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel anger towards you because… 

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

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

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

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

Burn it to the Ground…

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

ashes_stock_3_by_jennyraepip-d4vkk5g

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

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

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

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

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

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

animal-photography-angry-charging-lion-atif-saeed-pakistan-fb__700

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

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

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

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

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

ash-heart

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

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

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

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

I feel anger towards you because…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All that is Left is Ashes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

That will be the final irony.

addiction, betrayal, My Story, Uncategorized

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.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

Cupcake Warrior Logo