betrayal, healing, My Story

Family-versary

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

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

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

Familyversary!

My daughter sent me this message yesterday morning:

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

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

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

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

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

Becoming, Coping, divorce, Emotional, healing, Physical, Self Care, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

Surviving Valentines Day

28a385cdfa69743e10bc96da7d9049941ce50cf481d66b56abb94ca752e1572aWhat is a trigger? Triggers evoke an overwhelming feeling of panic, fear and/or anxiety associated with a memory of a traumatic event.  Triggers can come in all sorts of packaging.  Sometimes they are smells, foods, or music.  More often than not, they are events, dates or places.  Special events that you spent with your addict can become triggers after discovering they have been cheating on you.  That restaurant you went to last year on your anniversary, the hotel you found him in bed with the other woman, or Valentines Day can all become triggers. When these triggers happen it can turn a previously happy time into feeling you would rather crawl in bed and pull the covers over your head. Triggers can be paralyzing and debilitating.  Most of my triggers feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me.

One of those days for me is Valentine’s Day.

It’s good to identify your triggers in advance if at all possible.  Make a list of your most difficult triggers so you can plan how you will work through them.  The last 3 years I spent Valentine’s Day in bed, sobbing my heart out.  All I could think about was my Cheater spending time with other women.  And then after my divorce, it killed me to realize he was spending it with his new wife.  I never felt so alone and abandoned.  Sometimes triggers make life just SUCK!

So this year, I decided, in advance that I was not going to let Valentines Day get the best of me.  I did pretty well, until my Cheater decided to text me that day.  I am pretty sure he did it on purpose because the reason he gave was lame.  It’s interesting to me to know that he was out of town and his thoughts were turned towards me and not his new wife?? So be prepared for something like that to happen.  Narcs love to reach out on days like these to make sure you will feel crappy just in case you might have forgotten them.  Just be aware.

I woke up that morning determined to give myself lots of self-care and love.  Someone told me that you can be your own best love.  Like Whitney says, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all!”

I got my nails done a few days before to look like a box of chocolates.

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I took an extra long bubble bath with a lit candle. Did you know you can do a self massage? I did that!  I gave myself a facial too. Then I got super dressed up in red, a power color, for a meeting I was hosting later in the day.

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After my meeting I bought myself some flowers, since I bought them myself, I got exactly what I wanted! Then I went to get a fancy cupcake at my favorite cupcake shop, Cravings. It was a cute Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Bear Cupcake.  Super Yummy!

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I finished out the day having dinner with my favorite people – my kids and grandkids.  And guess what?  I got through the entire day without crying! It can be done with a little planning and a lot of self-care.  Being good to yourself is the key.  Rewriting the story is critical.

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You can overcome your triggers with self-care!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, betrayal, Coping, healing, My Story, PTSD, Self Care, Triggers

Anxiety and Panic

These last few weeks I have been experiencing an unusually high level of anxiety and panic. I am not sure why. I have spent a great deal of time in my head trying to figure it out. I am anxious about a lot of things. I have been for the past two years. That is one of the big things my Cheater took from me – peace of mind.

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I don’t know what will become of me. That is my biggest worry. Can I make it on my own? Will I heal? Am I always going to be broken? Can I ever be happy again? How do I find peace in my life when everything is in chaos? And then there is the financial piece. Don’t even get me started about how much this whole mess destroyed me financially. I. Worry. About. It. All. The. Time!

He took away my security, my hope, my peace, my joy, my safety. So much loss. And the infuriating thing about it is he does not care! 38 years of my life was devoted to this man, and he can destroy my life, walk away, and just not care. That is obvious from how he just remarried 5 months later. Is it proper to not spend even a minute mourning a 38 year marriage? I don’t know. Nothing he did, has done, or is doing makes any sense to me. But I digress.

He left me broken, shredded, and bleeding out. No wonder I am anxious and panicked. Who wouldn’t be?

My days are spent in panic. My nights are spent in panic.

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When morning comes and I wake up my first thought is – I am alone. Abandoned. Then the tears come. Every damn day I cry! When will it stop? I have started to try and negate some of this by dropping to my knees in prayer. Desperate prayer. Please God help me! I cry out to find the strength to make it through the day. Most days I feel abandoned, even by God. How long must this agony go on?

I feel like my legs and feet are encased in cement blocks. It makes it so terribly hard to make it through the day.

Then I spend an hour in scripture study. And I do mean study! This is the only hour of peace I have everyday. It’s the only time that my mind doesn’t wander. That I don’t wonder about – him.  When I study the scriptures I feel peace, comfort, safety. It makes so much difference I wish I could study all day. But I can’t.

The rest of my day is spent doing those things I must do interspersed with the things I need to do just to stay upright. I work at recovering from betrayal trauma all day! I work at it -HARD! It’s exhausting. Never ending. I resent needing to do this because of what someone else did to me. It isn’t fair. I did nothing to deserve this. But I am the one who has to work hard to fix it. He, of course, does nothing. Typical of a coward.

Here is what a “normal” day looks like for me:

  • Wake up in tears
  • Try to get out of bed, it usually takes me an hour
  • Take the dog out
  • I don’t eat because I am never hungry in the morning
  • Study the scriptures for an hour
  • Do my “dailies
  • Cry again
  • Then I am too exhausted to do anything else so I soak in the tub with epsom salts for 1-2 hours
  • Get dressed. By now it’s noon
  • Maybe I eat something and can hold it down without barfing
  • Take the dog for a walk and pick up the mail
  • Write in my journal
  • Cry some more
  • Attempt to do something productive, laundry, cleaning etc.
  • Start dinner
  • Eat dinner
  • Watch TV with my daughter while I dread going to bed
  • Go to bed and cry

Sounds great, doesn’t it? I’ve been reduced to barely existing.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong

abuse, addiction, betrayal, Blame, denial, divorce, gaslighting, minimizing, My Story, Narcissist, repentance, Triggers

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.”

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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.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

 

 

 

betrayal, PTSD, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

Trauma Response Rescues

Do you know what a “Trigger” is?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, betrayal, My Story, PTSD, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

Drowning in Sadness

Sadness Letter

Write a letter to your partner expressing you feelings of sadness and loss.  This should not be a place to express anger so if you feel anger go to you anger letter to add those.  This should be about what makes you sad.  Use phrases like, “It makes me sad that” or “I regret that.”

It could happen anywhere…in a crowded theater, or a restaurant, a meaningful song on the radio, or even when I hear the sound of a Harley in the distance…you are everywhere… and nowhere to be found…

It’s curious how a wave of sadness can engulf me in the middle of a high desert.  Without any warning, I feel the wave rumbling in the distance before I can even see it.  The sound is almost imperceptible at first, but suddenly it is everywhere as it thrashes me with a force so powerful that it could compress my heart with a single blow.  Towering over me like a beautiful blue monster with it jaws gaped open wide to shred me to bits with its jagged white teeth.  It is a wave so mountainous in size compared to me, that even the most accomplished surfer quakes at the thought of even getting in the water.  Yet there I stand, desperately trying to brace myself for a devastation I did not see coming and cannot control.  A wave so massive that I am aware that I will be broken against the ocean floor as it propels me downward into the abyss. I am terrified.

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As a child, I was scared to death of being caught in a riptide.  Growing up near the beach it was something that was constantly emphasized. Nothing can come as close to sudden death as quickly as an unsuspecting swimmer caught in a riptide.  There is no way out.  Drowning is inevitable.

I’ve never lost anything so precious to me before!  I don’t know what to do or how to react. I can’t breath I am so consumed in grief.  Part of me wishes that you had just died rather than have this happen, at least that way you would still be mine.  If I couldn’t have you now then at least I would have you in eternity,  And now I won’t.  My sadness over losing you to other women is consuming.  I cannot, nor will I ever, understand why you chose them over me.

Drowning Over and Over…

It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just drown once and slip into a peaceful existence beyond with nothing to worry about anymore, for all of eternity, but this doesn’t work like that.  With each new encounter with my memories, I am instantly thrust back into the deep with another wave towering over me, ready to come crashing down on my head within seconds.  I can feel it, see it coming, hear it, but try as I might, there is no stopping it.  I hold my breath because part of me wants to fight back, part of me wants to live, but it is just too suffocating.  I don’t stand a chance against it.  I can’t catch my breath.  I can’t move.  Sometimes the instinct to breathe is so strangling that I cannot resist and and I succumb to the need for air.  Gasping to catch my breath, I inhale the salty liquid and feel it burn as it fills my lungs. I am sure that I have taken my last breath…but no…I am still alive, but just barely.

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Sometimes I try to just give in, lay down and let it wash over me.  But it is relentless in its attack.  If I submit, I am just tossed around in the tempest, not knowing which way is the air…sky…safety.  It is the longing for air that taunts me with the realization that there is no safety.  This intense sadness with be with me for the rest of my life.  Oh sure, it will get better, or so they tell me. I will become stronger, they say, learn how to swim in it, but it will never go away.  When sadness came into my life 18 months ago, it decided to stay for good, sadness and grief do not ever leave.  They move in.  Like it or not, they are my constant jailers for the rest of my life.  They are not leaving. I have no say in the matter.  You are the one holding me hostage here in this silent, terrifying deep.  Your love, is my only escape.  But it isn’t coming. You took it from me, like a thief in the night and I have no chance of getting it back unless, you decide you love me enough to release me from my overwhelming, suffocating, ocean prison.  For me, there is no escape from sadness or grief.  Like I said, I wish you had died,  at least you would still be mine.

Living in Fear of Sadness…

How do you turn something so terrifying into a friend?  How do you survive in such horrifying conditions?  My life used to be so predictable.  I was concerned over the stupidest things like, what do I make for dinner, should I go to the mall or down to see the kids, or where are we going this weekend.  Now I am straddled with an emotion I cannot see coming.  It shows up anytime or anywhere without sufficient warning.

Sometimes I cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life because I am worried I will unsuspectingly walk into a room where sadness is lurking there, waiting to pummel me to the ground. How can anyone survive this feeling, and yet, this is my new normal? Fear of Sadness.

Sadness Is…

  • Realizing that I spent 38 years of my life loving someone who didn’t love me back. At least not enough to fight for me.
  • Keeping myself from speaking out about how you treated me because I thought if I told you how I felt you wouldn’t change for me. Now I know that I was right and that is the worst feeling,
  • Feeling so lonely even with you in the room.
  • Wanting to see you again.
  • Not wanting to see you again.
  • Knowing you do not care enough about me to provide me with safety and security.
  • Knowing you can’t put my needs before your own.
  • Finding out that you are not the person I thought I married.
  • Admitting my parents were right about you after all.
  • Feeling rejected and unloved every single day since I discovered your affairs. Sometimes multiple
  • Not being able to trust myself.
  • Not being able to trust you.
  • Feeling abused.
  • Knowing that you used to love me, but not anymore.
  • Knowing you don’t care enough about me to treat me as well as you would treat a stranger.
  • Having you talk to me as if you hate me. For all I know, you do.
  • Being told that I am not supportive or loving enough towards you.
  • Being told I won’t allow you to change, when I want is for you to change.
  • All I want is for you to love me again.
  • Realizing you feel that I am to blame.
  • Sitting in the temple all alone, surrounded by strangers.
  • Hearing the words of the covenants we made to each other and knowing they will never be fulfilled.
  • Losing my eternal family, the only thing that ever mattered in life to me.
  • Losing you. Maybe forever.
  • Knowing that I will never be able to ride on the back of a motorcycle and not think of you.  I will think of the times that you patted my leg or told me you love me, only to find out later that you were telling another woman you love her too at the very same time. Maybe on the very same day?
  • Looking into the faces of my children and see you there.
  • Going to bed at night, in the dark, all alone.
  • Knowing that my heart doesn’t  belong to you, only because you don’t want it.
  • Feeling used.
  • Not being able to tell you how I feel.
  • I can’t tell you how you shattered my life and have you understand.
  • Being unable to convince you that I forgive you.
  • Being unable to convince you that I still want you.
  • Knowing you didn’t trust me enough to tell me the truth.
  • Being ignored to the point I feel I never meant anything to you.
  • Never feeling your embrace again.
  • Never kissing you.
  • Or making love to you.
  • Needing to pretend that what you do doesn’t bother me.
  • Hundreds of smells.
  • Thousands of sounds.
  • Millions of thoughts.
  • A lifetime of memories.
  • All the places we have been together.
  • All the homes we have lived in.
  • All the friends we made.
  • The music of our lives together.
  • Losing the one person I love the most.
  • Feeling like I can never love again.
  • The taste of your favorite foods.
  • Our favorite restaurants.
  • Making dinner.
  • Not being a part of a team anymore.
  • Feeling all alone in the world.
  • Knowing you are my whole world, but you don’t believe me.
  • The sun on my face and the wind in my hair.
  • The rumble of pipes.
  • Pepsi.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream.
  • Eating out.
  • Chilies on Greenville Ave.
  • Music and the Spoken Word
  • Church, everything about church.
  • Baby blessings.
  • Baptisms.
  • Seeing you in my dreams.
  • Hearing your voice.
  • Holding hands.
  • Hugs.
  • Kisses.
  • The warmth of your arms around me.
  • The smell of your naked skin.
  • The sound of you sleeping.
  • Knowing I will never be the same again.
  • Feeling my life has been wasted.
  • Starting over at this point. It’s so unfair. What did I do to deserve this?
  • Being abandoned…again.
  • Never going on missions with you.
  • Not having you there when Brent and Ashley get married.
  • Wanting a blessing, but knowing you won’t ever give me another one.
  • Waking up and realizing you are not here.
  • Family pictures.
  • Home movies.
  • Listening to the children talk about “ the good old days”.
  • Denver.
  • Colorado Springs.
  • Westminster.
  • New York.
  • Kansas.
  • Los Angeles.
  • San Fransisco.
  • Hawaii.
  • Cancun.
  • Orlando.
  • Miami.
  • Dallas.
  • Fort Worth.
  • Texas.
  • Colorado.
  • Florida.
  • Family Reunions.
  • Driving in the Mountains.
  • Holding your hand in the car.
  • Skiing.
  • Hockey.
  • Ice Skating.
  • Sitting by the fireplace.
  • Christmas.
  • Easter.
  • Birthdays.
  • 4 of July.
  • Halloween.
  • Tulips can never be my favorite flower anymore.
  • Cards.
  • Presents.
  • Letters.
  • Watching TV.
  • Listening to the news in the car.
  • The color blue.
  • ….and on and on and on

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We have experienced too much of life together! Everywhere I go, everything I do, taste, see, smell, hear or touch has the potential of turning into a jumbo wave of sadness.  The list is too long to ever escape the potential for grief and sadness.  Even if I never leave the house again, there will always be something there to remind me of you. This is the sum total of what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life, because it is a life without you!  Why can’t you see the truth?  Why won’t you do what is necessary to fix our family.  Everything could be so good again.  The deepest sadness of them all is that you don’t believe me.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong