Since I have vowed to myself that I will be honest in this blog I have to admit something. My husband is not the only procrastinator in this relationship. I think one of the reasons that the D-Day Antiversary (I’m stealing this term from someone on SI because it is perfect) hit me so hard is that I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. This post is not about my husband. I am not discounting that he has put off a lot of things that are really important to me, stopped going to individual counseling for 6 months, and has been passive in the recovery process. But I’ve got to focus on me, and I’ve been just gliding along, too.
This weekend I realized that some of the books I started reading at the beginning of this process are still sitting unfinished. In the first month or two after D-Day I threw myself into the process of figuring out what happened, dealing with my emotions, trying to find a way to grow, and reading anything I could get my hands on that helped me understand what was going on and put it all in perspective. I had individual counseling sessions every week, I attended group sessions with other betrayed wives every Wednesday night, and if it wasn’t related to infidelity, sexual addiction, or working on my marriage I wasn’t reading it (and I’m a lifetime, avid reader of just about anything). Then I burned out. So here are my personal 12-Steps into and back out of the destructive procrastination cycle.
The first step for me was taking a mental break from 24/7 self-help reading (Step 1: Much Needed Respite). It actually wasn’t a bad decision because there is only so much that a person’s brain can take in, process and apply. Game of Thrones was about to come out on HBO, and I got a great deal on the box set of books from Amazon. I told myself I would just read the first book as a brain break, then go back to the Shattered Vows book my group was working through. After all, we were only covering a few pages at a time and I was already caught up to our current place.
This seemed much more appealing…
… than this.
It sounded great. But I devoured the first book and was through it in just a few days. I told myself I didn’t take nearly enough “time off” from dealing with all the emotional crap. I deserved at least one more book… Before I knew it I had read all 4 and the Shattered Vows book was sitting somewhere collecting dust (Step 2: Enjoying my “Vacation” a Little Too Much).
But I was still going to my group every week, I still had individual counseling, and my husband and I had even added in marriage counseling. Surely that was enough… In fact, maybe it was too much (Step 3: Rationalization). My group meeting was late at night (starting at 7:30 and not ending until after 9:00 pm most nights), far away (at least 45 minutes, over a bridge, and through a few tolls), and all of this constant thinking about the infidelity was really starting to get me down (of course I was clinically depressed at that time and in complete denial). Still, I kept going because I did really love the women in my group and the support I got.
Then in July my husband lost his job, had surgery on his deviated septum about one week later (it was already scheduled), and my grandfather died (the same day as my husband’s surgery). Now I was reeling emotionally not just from the betrayal but also because my grandfather and I were extremely close. Although he was sick with cancer and we had known for a few months, his death was due to a slip and fall that was completely out of the blue. On top of that we had medical bills, a significantly reduced income, and a very unsure future in more than one way (Step 4: Life Happens).
Being the “fixer” and overachiever I am I decided to get a second job. It was a good idea, and I was able to get one surprisingly quickly as a tutor at a local franchise. I would be able to earn a little extra money, help pay down our bills, and give myself a little much-needed reassurance that we would make it through this. The only problem was – I had to be available nights. And Wednesday was a big tutoring night, especially for the SAT kids that I specialized in. There goes group (Step 5: Over Functioning). Sure, I kept in touch with some of the ladies (still do) and told myself I would swing by on nights when I wasn’t scheduled to teach. But somehow that never happened.
Then my husband started school and got a part-time job (that transitioned to a full-time position). Our schedules got hectic. We barely saw each other since one or the other of us always seemed to be out of the house for something – work, school, second job, therapy, group meetings (him), etc. We had to cancel one marriage counseling session, then never made another one – mostly because we arbitrarily decided we didn’t really like her (Step 6: Justification). My own individual therapy sessions petered out, then stopped (Step 7: Withdrawing).
Before I knew it I was stuck on this hamster wheel of working, scarfing down a few bites to eat, then working some more. If I ever did get “down time” I felt extremely exhausted and mostly wanted to fill it with sleeping, watching TV, or some other mindless activity (Step 8: Major Depression). The 5th Game of Thrones book came out, and I pre-ordered it through Amazon. It was on my doorstep bright and shiny the day it was released, and you can bet that I cracked that sucker open immediately and made time to read it. I should have realized then that my excuses for not continuing my full-on recovery were just that (Step 9: Denial).
Something happened around September of last year that caused enough impact that my husband and I found another marriage counselor and gave that process another shot. I can’t remember the exact incident (that’s how foggy everything had become), but I do recall that it was something that I strongly requested my husband take initiative on. Whether it was guilt, anger, something surrounding our 1 year wedding anniversary, or an entirely different matter I’m not sure. But it was a really great decision, and the psychologist was a really great choice. We started going weekly. I noticed that we were communicating better, connecting more often, and having fewer arguments. I somehow allowed myself to believe that was enough – that I could bury everything else and we would be great (Step 10: Coasting).
Then over the weekend of March 31st everything I was keeping deep inside busted out in one torrent of emotional vomit. And like my reaction to vomiting in real life, once it started I couldn’t stop it (I have been hospitalized twice for dehydration related to uncontrollable vomiting – once as a baby and again 3 years ago after an unfortunate food poisoning incident). Since then I have come to realize that all of the feelings and hurt I had about the infidelity and my husband’s sex addiction didn’t just go away. I was just covering them up with activity, denial, fear, and a false sense of accomplishment (Step 11: True Self-Discovery). I was reverting to the “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” mindset that if I didn’t acknowledge something it didn’t exist. It’s the completely non-fun adult version of “peek-a-boo” – I put my hands in front of my face so I couldn’t see my pain then acted surprised when it jumped out at me.
I decided this weekend to recommit myself to personal growth and healing. I found the book Shattered Vows and dusted it off – literally and figuratively. I have already found a lot of things that I relate to and can apply directly to where I am today. I also pulled out the marriage book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, and we worked through one of the “quizzes” and the exercise that followed. I asked my husband to commit to doing at least one of those per week together. He gladly agreed. I have also combed through some of the books that other women recommend on SI, and ordered myself 4 of them with a gift card I won the weekend I had to work (D-Day Antiversary #1). The way I figure it there is no better way to treat myself and use those winnings than investing in my own health and future. I will not be passive in my healing again (Step 12: Resolve).
Peek-a-boo, I see you!