Tag Archives: sex addiction

Objectification, Violence, and Self-Worth

14 Apr

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS EYEING UP LONG LEGGED GIRL AS SHE WALKS PAS

The specific topic weighing on my mind tonight is the objectification of women.  Not porn actresses or movie stars, but real women on the street.  Sex addicts often look (or rather gawk, gape, ogle, stare…) at regular women who happen to be unlucky enough to walk across their path, then objectify, fantasize and masturbate or act out in other ways.  Sometimes it stays there, but other times it leads to flashing, stalking, rape, or other forms of sexual assault.  That type of activity is out of control and harmful.

My ex was in construction for a while.  He would watch women walking down the street on the job site and talk to other men about it in explicit detail.  Often times he would go to the porta-potty and jack off while thinking of them.  Sometimes he might even do it right there in the vehicle while they were walking by just a few feet away.  I wonder if anyone ever saw him or felt awkward and uncomfortable and picked up their pace.  I know the sensation of having unwelcome eyes on you, inching over your body.  I wonder how many women my ex made feel dirty and creeped out.  I felt that and more when I caught his gaze lingering too long on a woman’s body.

Right before we got married (maybe 2 months before, tops), we had our worst fight.  We were in a new country bar in our city with a few of his friends.  It was maybe the second time I’d ever been to a nightclub before – this place had a DJ, huge areas just set up for dancing upstairs and down, several bars on the outskirts, and a mechanical bull in the front.  That’s usually not my scene.   That night he started blatantly making sexual gestures and comments about women, right in front of me, with no regard to my feelings whatsoever.  His facial expressions and lewd manner set me off.  It’s one thing to notice attractive people, that’s only natural no matter how much you love your partner.  It’s a completely different thing to be crude about it, and continue the behavior when you can see the person you’re with is uncomfortable.

I made a comment to him about it, then stormed away.  In true narcissistic sociopath fashion, he wouldn’t let me get away.  He came after me, dragged me off of the dance floor (where I had joined a group of women line dancing to blow off some steam and pretend he didn’t exist).  I tried to walk away and go downstairs to the ground floor of the club (we were upstairs on a balcony area), and he cornered me, trying to intimidate me and tell me that I hadn’t seen what I had just seen.

I told him that he was being disrespectful, and I wasn’t going to stand for it.  He kept putting his hands on me, grabbing my arms, wrenching me around, getting in my face.  He said that I saw things wrong, that he was checking women out for his friend, that he was just fantasizing about the women he was ogling, he wasn’t going to do anything, and that I needed to come back and hang out with him.  His excuses were contradictory and insulting.  I didn’t want to hear them.  I tried to jerk away several times, and he would grab me again, tighter.  I was spitting mad.  When I get like that, I also cry.  I hate that about myself sometimes.  We must have been making enough of a scene that someone got a bouncer to come up.  They dragged him off of me, and I was able to make my escape while he turned his arguments and justifications that he wasn’t doing anything wrong onto them.  Thankfully, they didn’t buy it, and kept him away from me.

I remember walking downstairs and out of the club.  I stood just outside of the building looking at the line of people trying to get in.  I had been drinking that night, my emotions were out of control, and I was shaking.  I leaned back against the building trying to get myself together and breathe.  I might have been hyperventilating a little bit.  I don’t know how long I stood there, just sucking in air.  My mind was blank.  I might have been in shock a little bit because he hadn’t gotten physical like that with me before.

Finally, I started walking back toward the parking deck where my car was parked.  The city has these cobble stone sidewalks, and I focused on carefully placing my feet on the uneven ground to keep myself from breaking down into tears again.  It was only a few blocks, and the weather was nice.  It was the summer of 2010, somewhere between April when we got engaged and September when we got married.  There were so many happy people on the streets, laughing, holding hands, and doing stupid drunken things.  I tried to focus on them, not what just happened.  It’s all a bit of a blur, though.

When I got to the parking deck I turned on the car, cranked up the air conditioning and the radio and just sat there.  I didn’t know what to do.  I just stared out the windshield at the concrete walls.  The entire time my phone had been going off.  I could have texted him back, but I don’t really remember.  I do know that he called me.  I don’t recall what he said, but I distinctly remember two of his friends in the background yelling and cussing and calling me names.  I got out of the car and started pacing, crying again.  I was so hurt and angry that he was letting them talk about me that way, and agreeing.  I asked him why he was letting his friends talk for him, didn’t he have a mind of his own?  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have engaged at all.

Next thing I knew, he was at the car.  His friends didn’t come along, so maybe he told them he was going to “handle me.”  Who knows…?  Not me.  He started yelling at me again, immediately.  He got right back in my face, grabbing my wrist and upper arm.  I tried to push him away, and his face contorted with rage.  He pushed me as hard as he could, and I fell back against the car.  I banged my arm, scuffed my knee, and twisted my ankle.  My tears of anger turned to tears of pain.  I paused and took a deep breath, assessing my injuries, which were relatively minor.  I tried to get myself composed, hating the feeling that things were spiraling even faster out of control.

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Then he came at me again.  I felt a primal instinct to attack that I had never felt before and never have since.  I launched myself at him, a sound that was half scream, half growl coming out of my throat.  I kicked at him and swung, my hand connecting with his jaw.  He grabbed my wrist and twisted hard, then pinned me against the car.  I know I was yelling, telling him to get off of me.  The noise must have caught someone’s attention.

Two officers showed up.  They separated us.  One took me to the other side of my car, where I nearly collapsed, shaking and sobbing, but trying to pull myself together.  The other walked him a few yards away, and had a conversation.  The officer asked if I was okay, I told him I was.  He said that someone had complained about the fighting, and it looked like there might have been some violence involved.  To this day I don’t know why, but I down-played it.  He asked if I had someone who could come pick me up because I wasn’t in any state to drive.  I told him that I did – that I could call my sister.

My key was still in my car, and it was still running from earlier.  I asked if I could just sit there for a second to gather myself.  He said yes, then he stayed there while I called my sister and asked her to come get me.  She was so great.  It was late – at least midnight – and I told her where I was, and asked if she could pick me up.  She said yes, and asked me how to get there.  I gave her really bad directions (I told her the wrong exit accidentally because I was so shaken up).  She asked where Chris was.  I told her he was with his friends, and left it at that.  She didn’t ask any more questions.

In the meantime, I heard Chris with the other officer.  It sounded like he was blaming me for the whole thing (of course).  They asked if he could find a ride somewhere, and told him not to go to my house that night.  He must have said okay, and they let him walk away.  Not 5 minutes after he sauntered away all cocky and self-assured, I got another text from him.  Then he called again.  More yelling and name-calling in the background and from him.  That time he told me the police told him that HE could press charges against ME since he was bleeding from where I hit his lip and I wasn’t.  He made it seem like he was doing me a big favor.  I hung up on him and just sat there in my car staring at the concrete again, rubbing my arms and wrists where they were still stinging and throbbing from his grip.

My sister finally showed up.  She called me when she was close (after she got lost taking the wrong exit).  I walked out to the corner to meet her.  I got in her car, and she drove me home.  By that point I had gathered myself enough to stop crying.  I had grabbed a light cardigan or jacket from my trunk, I think.  I had it wrapped tightly around me like I had a chill, even though it was a warm night.  She didn’t really talk much on the way to my house.  I thanked her, walked inside like a drone, and turned off my phone.

That night I couldn’t even bear to sleep in my bed.  The bed he usually slept in with me.  I couldn’t handle his scent or the idea that his head had just been there.  I grabbed a blanket and laid down on the couch.  I cried.  I was in a state of semi-shock, just staring at the blue numbers on the Comcast box for hours and hours.  I watched the red marks on my arms darken and turn into bruises.  I couldn’t sleep.

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Somewhere around 4 am I turned my phone on again.  I had numerous voicemails from him.  Some were the drunken, angry ones with his friends calling me a stupid bitch in the background.  A few were more pathetic and apologetic.  Those sounded like they were made from outside somewhere.  He had texted me that he was staying at his friend’s house.  The friend who I couldn’t really stand that he was “checking out the girls for.”  Along with the other ass who had been screaming at me.

By 6 am he had called and texted some more.  I actually answered.  He begged me to come pick him up.  He said he was so sorry.  Whatever.  I’m sure you can all write the script if you’ve seen any bad Lifetime movie.  The really sad thing is that I bought it.  I agreed.  I got into his vehicle, drove to his friend’s house, and he snuck out the back while the other two were still sleeping.  He got in the SUV with me, and we went to pick up my car from the parking garage.  I don’t even know if I spoke to him during that ride.  He may have started to talk and make excuses, but I just cut him off.

DV_Day_1_Bruise_(2)When we got to the parking deck where my car was, I pulled into another lot right next to it, parked, and told him that I was ready to talk.  I showed him the newly developing bruises.  He looked stricken.  He looked like hell in general.  He had bags under his eyes, his lip was a little puffy, and his hair was sticking up in 50 different directions.  I told him that I cannot and will not tolerate the behavior that he displayed the night before (even as I was tolerating it by allowing him back into my life in any capacity).

He kept saying he was sorry for hurting me, but stuck to his guns that he didn’t do anything wrong before, that I shouldn’t have gotten upset with him blatantly ogling other women in front of me like a total perv (my words, of course), and that he had eyes and was going to notice other women.  I said, yeah… but you don’t have to make faces and gestures and obviously point them out and objectify them right in front of me.  Noticing and behaving in a over the top, offensive way are two totally different things.

We went around and around like that for I don’t know how long.  Somehow the violence was completely disregarded.  He still made it seem like I was the aggressor and he was the one doing me a favor by not pressing charges.  I don’t know how I bought that bullshit.  I’m a strong woman.  I know about domestic abuse.  Just like cheating, I had told myself if a man put his hands on me that would be it, the end.  But it seemed so subtle in that moment, with the blur of the night before still making me dizzy, and his justifications and excuses pounding in my ears…  He didn’t mean to grab me so hard, he was just angry when I tried to push him away, I was the one who pushed first, he just pushed me back, I happened to fall against the car because of my heels, I was the one who hit him, and on and on it went.

I do vividly remember telling him that if that was the way he felt, if he thought what he did was okay and he didn’t see anything wrong with his actions, then we should just call the whole thing off.  In my mind I was planning how to let people know that the wedding wasn’t going to happen.  We had already sent invitations, so it would be embarrassing, but I couldn’t live like that.  I told him that I wanted someone who would love me and treasure me and only want ME.  We already had disclosures of his cheating, secret porn use (while he rejected me), and lying about strip clubs.  This leering at women who were in the same room as me was something new, though.  That and the violence had me emotionally overwhelmed.  My face was splotchy and red and puffy from sobbing, my voice was hoarse from yelling the night before, and most of all, my entire spirit felt crushed.  I wanted out.

I have looked back at that moment, in that car, over and over and over again.  How I wish I had followed through.  Or not even gone to pick him up.  There are times I have fantasized about getting out of that car, walking to mine, and driving home to change the locks.  I would have still been broken and emotionally and physically bruised, but I wouldn’t have been married to him.  There still would have been things to divide up and pride to swallow and therapy, but the next 2 1/2 years of torture wouldn’t have happened.  We all know that I didn’t do that, though.

Seeing how serious I was, he backtracked.  He told me that he would never do anything like that “for his friends” again.  He swore up and down that he wouldn’t lay a hand on me ever.  He said that he loved me and couldn’t imagine his life without me.  He told me that I was the only woman for him, the only person he wanted.  He begged me to still marry him.  I don’t think I answered right then.  I did get in my car and drive home, but I let him follow me.

Over the next few days I let him apologize and tenderly touch my bruises with a look of contrition on his face.  I listened to him swear off drinking.  I let him tell me how his friend egged him on, and how he was never going to talk to one of them again.  He also swore that the other friend wasn’t the one calling me names, that he tried to calm him down.  He blamed the alcohol.  He blamed his one friend.  He blamed his anger for getting out of control.  He stopped blaming me directly, but there was always a certain air about him, a haughtiness that would flicker over his face and quickly disappear.  That was the sociopath showing itself, gleeful at pulling the whole thing off.  Back then I mistook that for resentment over his lip (which he made sure to play up).

That example is an extreme one.  I didn’t even intend to share it when I started writing.  However, it’s just one scenario of how out of control his behavior got.  The objectification of women, the justification, the blaming, the violence, the escalating pattern…  From that point forward he tried to be much more subtle about checking out other women in front of me.  I recently came across a picture from a work convention that he attended with me about 6 months after we were married, just before the last affair discovery.  In the photo, I am talking to a colleague at the table with me, and he is standing behind me staring at a woman at the bar with a pervy smirk on his face.  The corporate photographer, snapping pictures of the room, obviously happened to catch that particular moment on film.  I’m not sure why it surprised me when I saw it this week while looking through photos on the company website to see if I could find a good head shot.  For a moment I wondered if he actively pursued anyone at that convention when I was in meetings and seminars.  Then I realized that it doesn’t matter.

In retrospect, I don’t really know how I coped with it.  I think I internalized it a lot.  Seeing him objectify women and knowing that he would jack off to thoughts of other people and think of those fantasies while having sex with me (which he disclosed later), made me feel less than and insignificant.  He told me that he just “didn’t have” that issue anymore once I discovered things.  I call bullshit on that.  I know that he lied to me all of the time.  There is no way for me to know how often he lied or what about.

I do know that it really damaged my image of myself.  I grew up the ugly duckling, and he made it obvious that I still was because I wasn’t even enough for my boyfriend/fiance/husband.  Finding my own self-worth outside of men is still a struggle for me, but I’m trying.  I am shocked when people say that they find me beautiful.  Honestly and truly stunned.  Then, for a little while, I feel wanted and good and sexy.  The doubts and issues start to creep back in, though.  My own adolescence plays a part, as does the bullying in school, but my ex emotionally scarred me deeply.  The bruises faded, but the memory of that night probably never will.  I still feel shame and guilt and a touch of nausea when I think about it.  And no matter how much I tell myself otherwise, there is still nagging doubt that maybe it was all my fault.  Maybe I was being unreasonable in expecting him not to gawk at other women.  He’s a man, right?  Isn’t that supposed to be expected?  The real question is, should it be?

That night wasn’t the only incident of him checking out other women in front of me.  It happened all of the time, even if you don’t count all of the hidden porn discoveries.  Each incident wore on me, carving the message that I wasn’t enough deeper and deeper into my subconscious.  He would deny, say I was imagining things, tell me I am jealous and blowing things out of proportion, and that “every man” does that.  Somehow I doubt that every man jacks off to women who are walking down the street in a porta-potty at work or in his car 5 feet away, but I digress.  Even without the violence, what he did to me and to those unwitting women is wrong.  Plain and simple.

A friend of mine has a tattoo that says “I am enough.”  More and more that is sounding like a brilliant idea.  For now, I try to tell myself that as much as possible.  I am beautiful.  I am worthy.  I do not need the validation of a man.  I am enough.  You are, too.  No matter what has happened to you, what you have been through, or who has told you that you are not.

i am enough teal

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What Made Me Pick Him? What Do I Want Now?

18 Nov

I had a therapy appointment yesterday, and my counselor asked me a great question.  He asked me to rewind 5 years and tell him what attracted me to my husband in the first place.  I thought about it a little, and the initial attraction was that he could handle my dry, sarcastic, insult-ladened sense of humor and give it right back to me.  That’s still an attractive quality in a mate.  Not everyone gets me, and even fewer people can handle me. I’m complicated and intimidating and different from a lot of people.   At least that’s what I’ve been told.

Beyond that initial spark, though, he seemed family-focused and caring.  That made me think he was worth getting to know.  He came from a big family, I come from a big family, and he said the things I wanted to hear.  I discovered several lies he told me back then (not even counting the crazy sexual stuff), including the fact that he hardly visited with his family even though they all live close by.  He also told me that he was a construction foreman.  I discovered not too long later that he was not even close to that – he had just started with the company and wasn’t even hired on full-time yet because he was employed through a temp agency.  Yet somehow I made excuses for him or accepted his – it was hard to keep in touch now that his parents had passed because they were the glue, he was trying to make a good first impression, etc., etc.

I also overlooked a lot of things because I had empathy for his situation.  He was about a year out of a tough relationship and had just gotten a new job after a period of depression that left him homeless and without a vehicle or most of his belongings.  I, too, was recently out of a long-term relationship that ended badly.  Although I still had my house and vehicles and a good job and was getting excellent grades in school on top of all that, I could understand how easy it could be to lose it.  I could imagine saying fuck it, and spiraling down emotionally so much that the rest fell apart.

Empathy is a good trait of mine, but I now see that my other traits led me to want to rescue.  I thought I could help.  I liked him and related to his situation.  And there were other positive qualities he had that I thought out-weighed something as shallow as monetary concerns.  I still don’t necessarily care how much my partner earns, but they need to have passion and drive and ambition.  I have to admit that the prospect of not having all the pressure on me is very appealing, though.  Five years ago my need to be needed was fulfilled by his situation, and I got a rush from knowing how much he was attracted to me and admired me.  It made me feel worthwhile.  Back then what I was looking for in a relationship was validation.

My therapist then asked me what I was looking for in a relationship today.  The very top of my list is honesty and stability, two things my husband doesn’t have at all right now. I think a big thing that changed is I now know I am worthwhile. My validation comes from inside. Without that intense need to be needed I can focus on what I need.

At the very tippy top of my needs is truthfulness. Honesty is vital to a relationship.  It literally cannot function if honesty isn’t present – like gas is necessary for you car.  I guess in theory you could push your car around in neutral with no gasoline, but it would be a lot of hard work that would get you nowhere fast.  That’s what I feel like my marriage has been lately. He’s been sitting in the car with his feet up while I’ve been trying to push and steer at the same time. I’m so over that.

What I need in a relationship is openness, vulnerability, and the complete truth, even if it’s hard to take.  Honesty is the only way to make an informed decision, and I’m only interested in someone with integrity.  Stability is important to me now because I have lived with the ground constantly shifting under my feet for years.  I want a man who knows himself, and is comfortable and confident with who he is.  I don’t need someone with a lot of money, but I do need someone with direction and follow-through and goals.  I need someone who brings as much to the table as I do, including emotional awareness and maturity.

I don’t want to make sacrifices on the important stuff anymore. I realize that no one is perfect, and I know enough now to run the other way if someone claims to be. However, I can’t be the only one working, digging, and trying to be the best me. I want someone who can push me, not someone who lags behind. I want someone who pursues me, not someone I have to beg for the minimum effort. I want someone who wants only me, who will be faithful, not someone who is actively looking for the next sexual high or who would stop putting forth effort in his relationship. I also want someone whose entire existence doesn’t depend on me. I want someone with interests and intelligence and something special to offer me. I deserve it because I’m worthwhile.
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Delving Into My Childhood

10 Nov

In my quest to improve myself, I have come across another blogger, Peregrinerose, who is dealing with determining how her “psyche, experiences, history, etc. contributed to choosing a life as a sex addict codependent.”  I had to use her words there because they are perfect.  That is what I would really like to do as well.

She is working through some questions from a book by Mic Hunter, and was kind enough to email me a digital copy of the questions that he proposes the spouses of sex addicts ask themselves.  There are 100 of them.  I may or may not spare you my answers to them all.  We’ll see how lucky you are.  The first one is:

How would you describe your relationships with your parents and other family members as you were growing up?  Generally speaking, were these relationships characterized by feelings of: Love? Fear? Warmth? Anger?

A hard one right off the bat, huh?  Okay.  Here goes…

Maybe this is a great place to start for me.  One particular phrase from the S-Anon “Problem” has always stumped me.  It reads, “Most of us grew up in families with secrets, and we were not taught to think about our own needs and take positive action to meet them.”  I don’t really think that is true for me.  At least in all my thinking I have never been able to identify with that.

My Mom taught me to think about my needs.  She always talked through things with me.  I felt loved and supported by her.  My family also didn’t really have a lot of secrets, at least not that I know of.  My grandma is an alcoholic, but I don’t remember that being a secret.  We talked about it openly as a family, especially as she was struggling (a few falls while drunk, one of which put her in the hospital near death, a few car wrecks, etc.) and when she went into alcoholics anonymous to start her recovery.  She is now 13 years sober.

Back to the actual question at hand…  As I was growing up I would describe my relationships with my parents and other family members as close.  Both of my parents were very involved.  Most, if not all, of our extended family lived close by.  I remember regular visits to both sets of grandparents, and having lots of family time with aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I would spend weekends or even whole weeks with either my Nanny and Papa on my Dad’s side at the beach or with my Ma and Pa on my Mom’s side at their horse farm.

My Mom stayed home with us kids.  We were all home-schooled, me for the longest.  I remember my Mom working very hard on her lesson plans.  I still remember the stick figure puppet things she used to teach me my numbers and sounds.  We went to story-time at the library every week, sometimes more often.  She would get all of the Newbery Metal winning books and read them to us, like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (an amazing book).  One of my favorite memories to this day is her reading The Cay to my brother, sister, and I on the couch at home.  She did all of the voices (one main character had an accent), and I can still picture the way the story came to life in my mind.

Yep, that’s us at our old house… Cute little buggers, aren’t we?

My Dad was the sole bread-winner.  I know that he worked very hard to provide for us.  We never had the best, newest, or most expensive thing but we had a lot.  More than a lot, really.  My Mom designed our house and they build it (not with their own hands, but my Dad did do some of the work) on a gorgeous 10-acre piece of land.  It was “in the country” enough that our neighbors were spaced out, but close enough to “town” that I went to one of the best public high schools in the state.  We were also only about 35-40 minutes or so outside of our state’s capital.

My Dad wasn’t one of those workaholic fathers, though.  He worked regular hours (early mornings, but no late nights and no weekends).  He attended every single one of my events.  He was the loudest one cheering for me at softball.  He was the president of the choral boosters club, calling bingo every week to raise funds.  He played with us a lot – letting us ride him like a pony when we were really young, playing catch in the yard with us as we got older, and supporting the things that we loved.  My parents gave me and my brother and sister everything they could and more.

English: An American Quarter Horse in winter. ...

This horse reminds me of my Petey.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think back to those times growing up and wonder how they did it.  One income.  Three kids.  A nice house, lots of land.  We had 3 horses and a pony.  Sure, three of them came from my grandparent’s farm, but they were not given away for free to us.  My Mom and Dad both spent a lot of time with me looking for my first horse, too.  We visited farms, talked to owners, test-rode several, and found the perfect one – Petey, an American Quarter Horse.

I took horseback riding lessons, gymnastics, played softball, sang in the chorus (and went on all of their trips, which weren’t cheap), and I wasn’t the only one.  My brother played sports, too, and was in the high school band.  He got a drum set one birthday or Christmas that was set up in the corner of our living room.  My sister tried one thing after another – violin, softball, art.  Not a lot of it stuck, but they never told her not to try something she was interested in.  Her real passion was animals.  She had a crazy cat, bunnies, a dog, and she adopted the pony that started off as mine, Blue, even though she wasn’t interested in riding him.  When I started school (and when my brother started), we were in a private school. I don’t know how much it cost, but it couldn’t have been cheap.

Not our actual van, but you get the general picture…

Lest you think we were rich or something… Did I mention that my Dad isn’t a doctor or lawyer or physicist?  He is a machinist.  It’s not working at Wal-Mart, but it isn’t raking in the cash, either.  We never had a new car.  The ones we did have were reliable and safe, but never beautiful (Cheesy 80’s van?  Check!).  We shopped the clearance racks.  My Mom sewed us some dresses, we didn’t buy a lot of new things, we did a lot of crafts and outside activities.  My Dad taught us how to balance a checkbook, put money aside to save no matter what, always pay off any credit cards in full every month, and never buy something we couldn’t afford.

Overall, it was a great life.  Certainly nothing glaring stands out in all of that.  Generally speaking, I felt love and warmth in my family.  I guess it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine, though.  When I really thought about things today, I have to admit there was an undercurrent of pressure to my childhood.  I don’t remember it being something my parents overtly expressed or pushed on me.  I just always had a deep desire to give something back for all of their sacrifices.

Maybe some of it stems from the home-schooling.  My Mom taught me and my brother, then all 3 of us, at the same time.  We were all in different stages and grades, obviously.  We also had very different needs, education-wise.  I was always pretty intuitive, and could sense that my brother and sister needed more guided attention than me.  So I always did my best to do my best.  I didn’t want to distract from them – my brother was hyperactive and my sister took longer to grasp things, and when she did she might forget them again a little while later.  Neither of them were slow or stupid by any stretch of the imagination.  They just really loved using their imaginations – with their heads in the clouds, constantly moving, always more concerned with something else.

Plus, I was the oldest…  My brother is only a year and a half younger than me, but my sister is 5 years my junior.  Given that, I was obviously more capable of sitting at a table and doing my work without distraction.  Don’t mistake me for a completely benevolent child…  I mostly wanted to get outside as fast as possible to ride the horses or climb trees.  However, I do remember making a conscious effort to not ask questions unless I had to, to get everything as perfect as I could, and to not take away from other things my Mom had to do.

The other side of my Dad is that he had a short fuse.  He would often yell or snap at the drop of a hat.  It made me skittish in a way I didn’t like and tried to hide.  He also lacked some compassion.  I remember one time my Mom was away on a women’s retreat with church.  It was just us kids and Dad.  It was great fun.  We were taking a walk/ bike ride/ scooter trip down our street and up to the mailbox (which was ages away) one beautiful night.  I was speeding around on my little push scooter, loving life and showing off.  I hit a corner too fast and wiped out in a patch of gravel on the pavement.  I skinned my knees, elbows, and hands badly.  I still have scars to this day.

Of course it felt awful.  I don’t know how old I was… somewhere between 7 and 10, I think.  I was bleeding, there was gravel in my knees and elbows and hands…  My knees especially looked like hamburger meat.  My Dad got me up, helped me home, and started working on my injuries.  I know I was crying – ugly, sobbing cries – and saying I wanted Mom.  He, of course, told me that she was away and wasn’t going to be able to come home tonight.  He not so gently got the gravel out of my wounds, poured hydrogen peroxide and maybe alcohol on them, and put some Neosporin and gauze over them.  I’m sure he told me more than once to stop crying and whining and wincing and carrying on.  That wasn’t the only occasion where I learned that I should just suck it up…

The older I got, the more I realized that if my ideas and his didn’t mesh it wouldn’t be good for me.  I was a smart-alec.  I would get mouthy when I shouldn’t, and I lacked respect (or at least tact and forethought) in many instances.  But I also questioned things.  A lot.  I was always intellectual and prone to deep thinking.  When my questions turned towards the church, his faith, and the things that logically didn’t make sense the door was slammed shut in my face.  God exists, he wrote the Bible, everything in there is gold, we go to church (all the time and as a family), and the list goes on…  Think Brick on The Middle (if you have seen any of those Bible episodes).  THAT didn’t go over very well…

So, the short answer (bet you wish I had started with that), is my family relationships were characterized by all of those things – love, warmth, anger, fear, pressure, support, misunderstanding, and the list goes on.  I’m not sure where exactly I’m supposed to be looking right now when it comes to my family dynamics.  There were a lot of them.  Maybe the next 99 questions will give me some direction.

Changes…

8 Nov

I have never really done well with change.  Now my life is full of them.  It is a hard adjustment.  Last night I had another in the long string of recent challenges that have been coming my way.  I made mistakes, but I also made some improvements (however slight).  I’ll tell you the story, and we’ll see if you pick out the same ones that I did…

The very first challenge that I have been dealing with is my health.  Two weeks ago I had strep throat and an ear infection.  About 3-5 days after the antibiotics for that were finished I contracted a killer cold that developed into an upper respiratory infection complete with whooping cough, fever, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and the inability to breathe (okay, maybe that last one is a bit of an exaggeration, but I swear that’s how it feels).  I powered through most of the week until yesterday I just couldn’t take it any more.  I dragged my sorry ass out of work around 3:30, went to the doctor for some meds, then wiped out the CVS cold and flu aisle before heading home.

I arrived to a mailbox full of stuff for Mr. Mess, which I added to the already-impressive stack on the table by my door.  He had cancelled all 3 of the proposed “dates” he set up last week due to his own health issues (flu, maybe?).  That meant there hadn’t been an exchange of things like mail in over a week.  Here is where my first mistake appears in this tale (I’m not giving you any more freebies – from here on out, you have to identify the mistakes for yourself).  I called him and told him that he had a lot of mail here whenever he wanted to come get it.  He said he would head on over then, and I agreed.

I will pause in the re-telling of this story to recap something I learned in S-Anon that applies well in this situation.  It is the acronym H.A.L.T.  This wise slogan advises you not to act when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.  I would add another letter at the end.  S for sick.  I did not need to contact my husband while I was sick.  The mail could have stayed right there.  Although I wasn’t especially hungry, angry, lonely or tired, the sick made all of those things much closer to the surface than they normally are.  It also made me more emotional than I was aiming for.

Mr. Mess arrived at my door about an hour after our phone conversation ended…  maybe 45 minutes.  I had already caught myself complaining like a whiny child on the phone about how awful I felt, so I resolved not to do that.  He walked in, and the first thing I noticed was the smell of his cologne.  I love that damn stuff.  It is probably the best smell in the entire world.  At least I thought that last night.  In retrospect, I’m surprised I could even smell it given the state of my sinuses.  Mr. Mess walked up to me, reached out to rub my arms, and said that he is sorry I am feeling so bad.  In that moment all I wanted was to curl up in his arms.

Instead, I said thank you and pointed out the stack of mail.  He went through it, throwing things away as he went, and then started looking around.  He asked if there is anything he could do for me.  I told him it would be really nice if he could take the trash can to the curb so I didn’t have to go out there in the cold (trash pickup is on Wednesday night).  He said that would be no problem at all.  Then he commented that he hopes I have been eating.  I said that I have, except for yesterday when all my cold seemed to want was chocolate.  Everything else tasted gross.  Although that was borderline whiny, it was true.  For the most part, though, I have been cooking myself quite fine meals, and I told him so.

He then walked into the den.  I asked what he was doing.  He said that he wanted to say hi to the dogs (they were in the utility room, which is connected to the den).  While he was in there I went to get the extra pair of nail clippers that he asked to borrow earlier in the week.  I also handed him his key chain, which I had found buried in the pull-out sofa bed when my sister stayed the night last weekend.  I resisted the urge to call him out on his lie surrounding those keys or ask him where he got the key he had been using since his was in the couch and the spare was where it always is.  It doesn’t matter.  Plus, I’m pretty sure he must have taken the spare and gotten a copy made in order to hide the fact that he lost his keys.  What a pointless thing to hide.  And also a pointless thing to be angry about.  So I just let it go.

My Mom and I had literally just gotten off of the phone about 5 minutes before Mr. Mess arrived, and she asked me about Thanksgiving and Christmas – whether to expect him, whether she should be buying him a gift, etc.  She is going on a long cruise very shortly and wanted to have all of the gifts purchased in the next week or so.  I took the opportunity last night to ask.  He got this strange look on his face and started stammering a bit – falling over his words, starting a sentence, then not finishing it, saying “you know” when I really did not…

Finally he said that he would feel like a black cloud hanging over everything.  He said that he feels too bad about what he has done to me to be around my family, and he wants to wait.  I asked what he wants to wait for.  He didn’t really answer.  By that point my short fuse and irritation with his beating around the bush was getting the best of me.  It really seemed like he was saying that he can never be around my family again because what he did is not going to change.  I proposed an answer to my own question – maybe he is waiting until he feels good about what he did?  He said no, and started getting emotional.  Instead of feeling compassion, a red hot anger welled up inside of me.

I don’t remember the exact words that came out of his mouth next.  It doesn’t really matter.  However, it was something about not being able to change what he did or how guilty he feels about it.  Even though that is basically the same thing I was thinking just moments before, my rage monster wanted to let out a big growl.  I told him that he COULD have changed quite a lot in the last year of false recovery.  Instead of a year that was full of lies and deceit, he could have been honest and changed where we are now.  It was up to HIM to put his all into it just like I had been.  He said that I’m right, and that he wants to wait until he has made more progress in his recovery to be around my family so that it doesn’t feel like just another lie.

With those words and that simple revelation, my rage dissipated.  That, in and of itself, is progress.  His bottom lip trembled, his eyes started to overflow, and he walked away from me – like he always does when he is feeling real, human emotions.  Or maybe because he couldn’t keep up the act much longer – it’s hard faking emotions as a sociopath.  I thought he was walking to the door, which he was at first.  Then he stopped and turned around.  He asked if there was anything else I needed besides him to take the trash to the street.  I said no.  He turned as if to go, then said that there was one more thing he needed.  Without another word of explanation, he took off down the hall toward the computer room and my bedroom.

The fleeting moment of tenderness I had felt towards him was quickly shoved aside by annoyance.  I called after him, asking where he was going and what he needed.  Without stopping, he strode into the computer room, turned on the light and called back that he was looking for his checkbook.  My annoyance turned to indignation and territoriality.  I had seen his checkbook while I was cleaning, and it was NOT in there.  The bigger point, however, is that he doesn’t live here right now to go stomping off through my house opening doors, turning on lights, and rummaging through things without asking.  I told him that his checkbook was not in there, then went and fetched it from the spot where I had seen it earlier in the week.

Still, he continued going through things in the computer room.  I asked him to tell me what he is looking for instead of going through all of my stuff.  First he got exacerbated and said nothing, never mind.  I told him that I am happy to help, but I would like to know what he is looking for.  He said he was trying to find his actual checks (which weren’t in the checkbook).  I told him that I hadn’t seen them.  I searched (pointlessly) for his checks, which were nowhere to be found.  I asked if he was sure they were even in here.  He said that he brought them with him when he moved in (over 4 years ago now).  I said I haven’t ever seen them, and showed him my checks, which I always keep in one specific spot.  I checked everywhere he suggested with no luck.

When he finally accepted that the checks were not here, he asked for the joint checking account number.  I immediately bitched at him.  He asked me over a week ago for that number while I was driving, and I suggested he call the bank (since THEY have the number much handier than I do).  I caught myself in full bitch-out mode, complaining about how he should just pick up the phone and call himself instead of asking me to do things for him.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal, though…  I took a deep breath, pulled the checkbook out of my purse, and gave him the number.  We exchanged a few more tensely polite words, and he left.

Fifteen minutes later I thought to check outside.  Sure enough, the garbage can hadn’t been moved.  Out into the cold with my cold I went.  My body shivered and I raged in my head.  I fought the uge to send him a snarky or bitchy text thanking him for doing the one thing I had asked him for.  I fought the urge to call a friend and complain.  Instead, I put my phone down.  I hooked it up to the charger, and left the room.

I might have made many poor decisions yesterday, but I have learned enough in the last few months to know that my anger at that moment would not have been productive.  It wouldn’t have accomplished anything other than to drive an even bigger wedge between us.  It would have resulted in him feeling either defensive or more guilty.  None of those options are what I’m looking for.

Somehow I was able to push aside my strong urge to punish him for his oversight, and take responsibility for myself.  It is my trash, afterall.  Sick or not, I needed to take it to the curb.  Today this seems like it could be some very deep metaphor for what we are going through in general.  Last night it was just irritating.

About an hour or so later, once I had calmed down, taken some medicine, and regained my perspective and compassion, I sent him a text.  It simply said, “Sorry I upset you.”  I am sorry.  I pushed things.  I lashed out a few times.  I made him feel back about himself when I shouldn’t have because it doesn’t move us in the right direction.  I have to work on that.  I have to learn to control my temper a little better, or at least to not make decisions when I’m feeling on edge.  I have to look inward when what I really want to do is point the finger.  At least I didn’t send him that pissy text about the trash.  Progress, not perfection, right?

After thinking on things a bit more, I realize that all of those bad reactions came from fear of change.  I don’t like that I don’t have my husband to hold me when I’m feeling crappy.  Instead of affirming myself for the positive steps I’m taking in enforcing my boundaries, I wallow in self-pity because my lying, cheating sex addict husband can’t get his shit together.  I let anger and entitlement take over because it is easier than seeing the ways I contributed to being where I am today.

Yes, where I am is separated from a husband who lied to me repeatedly , cheated on me, and is a sex addict – but I put myself here just as much (or more) than he did.  It was my poor decisions, my loose boundaries, my fear of abandonment, my low self-esteem, my repeated failure to trust my gut, and my codependent tendencies that put us here just as much as it was his sex addiction.  I have to own my shit, too.  And then I have to change it.  But changing things sucks.

Sometimes I want my fantasyland back.  I wax nostalgic about the “good old days” when I could curl up on the couch whenever I felt sick and have my husband make me dinner, bring me medicine, and rub my feet.  I want that sense of security and love.  Then I remember how false it was.  I remember how that same loving, caring man would sneak off to call, sext, internet chat, or meet another woman.  Or maybe he wouldn’t do that, but he would lie about something from his day or hide what he was feeling or thinking.  I remember how I might sense something was off, but dismiss my own instincts.  I also remember how late at night, when he was snoring beside me, I would lie awake knowing that there was something big missing in this relationship.

I say all of that to say this:  Change is painful, but it is also necessary.  I have a long way to go.  However, I am going to keep pushing forward.  I need to change for me.  As much as I hate admitting my mistakes, acknowledging my flaws, and accepting change – those things are necessary for growth.  And one thing I hate worse than change is being average.  He’s to self-awareness and change.  Those bitches.  🙂

Our First Post-Separation Date (With Each Other)

25 Oct

image

We had our first “date” since the separation, and it was a disaster.  I have to start by saying that I looked hot. Seriously. I have battled with poor self-esteem, and even I knew I was smoking.  He didn’t say a word.  Nothing.

He ordered water and refused to eat.  He didn’t start an argument, he wasn’t sulky, and he didn’t act angry, but he also wasn’t engaging or interesting.  I think he tried to make small talk. He asked what I had been doing, told me he was doing “nothing” and shared that he has been writing and working his book.  He did say he wants me to read some of what he has written because he can’t process and articulate correctly in person.

I think he was unsure what to talk about.  Mostly we just chatted.  He asked about my work, then briefly listened.  He bitched about his work extensively.  He complained about the apartment he is renting – how it feels like a jail, how he has to lay on the bed to watch TV, how he wishes he knew earlier that his brother was out of town so he could be staying at his place, etc.  He said more than once how tired he is and how he falls asleep at 8 most nights.  He talked about HBO and two new female co-workers.

Overall I got too much of a “poor me” vibe and not enough “man of action.” Of course no STD or psychological testing was mentioned.  He was full of excuses about looking for a new job even though this one is apparently awful and pays shit (basically his assessment).  He did say he feels he is accomplishing something with his therapy to uncover his reasons for lying.  That was encouraging.  I shared some of my little personal growth moments from the last week.

Finally, near the end of our time together, after I returned from the bathroom and caught two guys checking me out, I mentioned something about his lack of notice/caring/whatever of me. I did it in a very I-know-I’m-hot-so-I-don’t-even-care-that-you-don’t kind of way, with an evil smirk on my face. He said he was just thinking how good I look, but he didn’t want me to think he was being disingenuous or trying to weasel his way back in with me. He said he was completely overthinking things.

The whole lackluster event ended at 8:30, only an hour and a half after it started, without us touching each other once. He didn’t try to hold my hand, hug me, or even really get close at all. He never ate. I paid my bill. He didn’t even walk me to my car.  If this was a first date I would not be going on a second one.

However, I know that this WASN’T a first date.  We have a lot of baggage trying to tag along.  I need to cut myself and him a little slack.  Hopefully they will get better.  For now, it’s a start.  I know my expectations were too high. It has only been 2 weeks since our separation. Change is gradual and takes time. That’s why we planned to separate for 3 months.  I have to realize things are messy and complicated right now. I need to let go of my fairy-tale, romantic-movie fantasies. I can’t change him or this night, so I have to work on changing me.  I will use this as an opportunity to make myself stronger and healthier.

Results from the Affair Analyzer

24 Oct

Today I decided to take the Affair Analyzer on the website where Rick Reynolds has his blog.  I have read quite a few of his articles, and I really thing he is insightful and spot-on.  The website has a little tool where they can give their take on the infidelity you have experienced if you answer a few questions.  I spent less than 5 minutes on it today and got the below result, which I think is scary-accurate.  I have highlighted the portions that really spoke to me the most.

Affair Analyzer

We’re truly sorry you’re going through this, but as difficult as this is, you’re the type of woman who will find a way to survive. As you’ve discovered, infidelity is totally disorienting, and one of the most difficult aspects of recovery is finding where to start in order to avoid prolonging the recovery process.

Although you are extremely hurt and shocked by your husband’s betrayal, you’re probably already exploring what needs to be done to address the situation. Your drive and resolve will likely carry you through the first portion of your recovery, but coping may become more difficult later on.

Your husband’s infidelity may have caught you off guard, especially if you assumed he was as committed as you. Conversely, you may have realized some time ago that you do the majority of the giving in your relationship. But you were hoping that he would, at some point, also realize what a catch you are and begin to put more into your relationship. You probably believed that love conquers all and because of that, your love should prevail.

Many people in your position are willing to give their mates another chance, particularly if the mate is truly remorseful and willing to address the problem. You may be questioning how you could have married someone like this since you are a woman of integrity and thought you had married someone who was also. In the long run, your ability to live well despite your mate’s behavior may be one of the characteristics that will prove crucial to your family’s recovery.

About what happened

Continuing a marriage while one mate has a sexual addiction requires commitment from both parties. Regardless of good intentions and strong desire, addicts do not overcome their behavior on their own. However, this presents a problem because these individuals usually experience such deep shame as a result of their behavior that it may terrify them to admit the problem and seek help. Instead, they will resolve to never do it again, believing they can overcome the problem on their own. In fact, depending on how the addiction came to light, this may be the first time your mate has ever really addressed their addiction. If that’s the case, then your mate may still need to discover their powerlessness over the addiction.

The Path Ahead

MarriageAs the hurt spouse, you will  likely find yourself in need of guidance on how to respond and cope with this  disruption of your life. Since you still may want the marriage you  should try to respond in a way that will cause your mate to pause and  consider well their own options. At the same time you don’t need to  compromise your own integrity. You are probably not only hurting from  the betrayal but also shocked by what happened.  You may also be  wondering how you can ever trust this individual or any person ever  again. This betrayal may have left you feeling inadequate and foolish  for even considering staying with your unfaithful spouse.

In fact, you may well receive contradictory counsel from different people.  Some will tell you to leave the marriage and others will advise you to  stay and work on the marriage. However, few of these people, if any,  have actually been in your situation and they have no idea how they  would really react if in similar circumstances.

Immediately  following the revelation of a betrayal, too many emotions, impressions, fears, and too much pain exist to make reliably good decisions.  It would likely be best to not leave your marriage until you can observe  changes in your mate that will indicate whether it is a safe and viable  option to stay in the marriage.

Exploring the motivations for both leaving and staying in the relationship may prove very helpful to you  both now and in the future so as not to repeat history somewhere down  the road. Your decision to stay or go may actually alter with time.  Frequently, the pain created by the betrayal will be the primary  motivation for leaving in the initial period after you find out.  Eventually this pain may subside and you may feel differently. Of  course, you may also notice a shift in your desire to stay if your mate  fails to make a serious effort at reconnecting in the relationship. If  you base your decision to stay on your mate’s promises to change, you  may be disappointed if their efforts to change do not meet your  expectations.

Since a part of you wants to save the relationship, you may find yourself trying to control your mate’s decisions and  manipulate them into staying regardless of whether this will result in a healthy marriage. You may start denying your own needs for healing and  safety in an attempt to save the marriage.  Saving the marriage at all costs would be unwise if the marriage in the end were not a healthy one.  Be careful not to compromise your physical or emotional health.  The  emotional pain of infidelity does not just go away; denying it will only compound the problems it has created.

Part of your uncertainty may be due to the fact that part of you genuinely cares about your mate, but another part of you wants to get as far from them as possible.  You will likely find yourself wanting the opposite of what you feel pressured to do.  If your mate and those around you encourage you too much to stay, then you will want to leave and vice versa.

Before you make a final decision to leave the marriage, consider your  motivation for leaving honestly and carefully.  If you actually want to  leave because of marital dissatisfaction, it would be best for you to admit that is the reason taking responsibility for your departure rather than putting the blame wholly on your mate.  If you are having trouble  with this decision because of your fears, it will help you to recognize  those fears and deal with them directly so that you can make your  decision based on reality.

It is important to understand each other’s recovery in order to learn to support each other.  Men typically want to compartmentalize and avoid thinking about things that are painful.  They need space to think about it on their own and in their own time.  Women, on the other hand, tend to process trauma verbally often wanting to talk about what has hurt them until they can touch the wound and not get an emotional charge.  She may actually ask the same questions over and over again in an attempt to desensitize herself from the pain.  Both spouses need to recognize that avoidance (from the men) and repetition (from the women) are just the ways that we typically deal with pain and give each other the patience and grace to handle this life-altering trauma in their own way.

Regardless of the outcome of your marriage, in order to heal, you will need to confront, grieve and release what has happened and then learn from the experience.  If  you are unable to sufficiently heal, then you may end up repeating the same pattern of hurt again. Infidelity is an emotional blow that cannot be ignored; however it is not an insurmountable hindrance to your future happiness.  You should give yourself ample time and grace to complete your essential healing journey.

About your mate

Since your husband’s position is unclear, your best course of action is to focus on your own healing. Make sure to allow him to take responsibility for his own recovery. You must be willing to let him succeed or fail in his recovery so that it will truly be his own. If your husband stays because of manipulation, you may feel successful initially, but it could lead to bitterness because he feels controlled instead of confident in his decision. Also keep in mind that if your husband is ambivalent about staying in your marriage, then he will not be wholly committed to the relationship.  Note that pressure will frequently influence people who are ambiguous to take the opposite position.

Unless your mate is willing to take responsibility for his actions and what his behavior has cost you, he most likely will not be able to participate in a healthy marriage.  You may need to be stronger than is comfortable or usual for you and create a list for yourself of your, at the very least, minimum requirements to stay in the marriage.  It may prove virtually impossible to know whether the relationship can be healthy and viable until you can witness your husband’s response to your needs.  You will need to be careful in determining if he is truly willing to do what is necessary to restore your relationship.  If your husband is not willing to help at all then you must understand that you cannot trust him with your heart.

Next Steps for Recovery

Recovery requires a safe and supportive community. AffairRecovery.com provides this community and is comprised of others who understand. Processing what happened is one of the most effective ways of dealing with healing and understanding what’s happened. Having others who can empathize and validate your experience helps the disorientation created by the attachment wound.  If at all possible try to find a therapist or program specializing in the treatment of infidelity.  Not all helping professionals are trained to address the issues of infidelity.

If discovery of the affair was in your recent past, you may have difficulty identifying any positive reason for working on the marriage. Frequently the pain of the betrayal clouds our ability to find the benefits.  Our culture is far more tolerant of divorce, where children are wounded and families separated, than we are of exploring the potential advantages and possibilities associated with recovering from an infidelity.  This leaves many believing that exploring the possibility of salvaging their marriage is a sign of weakness.  Those of us at the Affair Recovery believe it’s a sign of phenomenal strength.  If he is willing, then we’d encourage you to consider this possibility.  There is hope, and you can heal.  Your probabilities for having the relationship you’ve always wanted is far greater with this relationship than with the one that’s unknown.

I Told My Dad

20 Oct

Today my husband came over to pick up the majority of his clothes.  It didn’t really go well.  It wasn’t a disaster, but he is an emotional wreck.  I tried to be calm and talk to him.  He really wasn’t ready.  He is so angry.

I wasn’t prepared for it.  The more I tried to connect to him, calm him down, and be rational and kind about this the more he lashed out.  He called me condescending, even though that was not my intention at all, in the least.  He really started to lose it, and I suggested he get some puppy love in the back yard.  Shortly thereafter, he said it was all too much for him to handle, and he left.

He contacted me a bit after, and he may be coming by tomorrow to finish dividing up some kitchen stuff and food that I can’t use all by myself.  I tried to let him know that I’m not trying to make this process any more difficult than it already is.  I know he doesn’t believe me (because he said as much while he was here), but I’m not angry.  I just know that this is a necessary step if we are ever going to be able to make this marriage work.

After he left I heard the lawn mower going outside of the window in my den.  My Dad is my neighbor, which I think I’ve mentioned before.  The sound was coming from the direction of his house, but I knew that his grass was already cut.  Mine, however, was in need.

Let me back up for just a second.  As of this afternoon I still hadn’t called or sat down with my Dad to explain the situation yet.  My sister lives with him, though, and you all know that my Mom has been helping me through this process for over a year.  After Mr. Mess moved out last week my Mom asked if it would be okay for her to mention to my sister that we are separated and trying to work through a few things so that she doesn’t get overly concerned.  I told her that was fine because I am still processing how much I want to tell her – she is sensitive, kind and loving, but also very emotional.

When my sister texted me a few days ago to invite me along to the Celtic Festival tomorrow with her and her boyfriend, I knew that my Mom had told her.  That gesture touched me quite a bit.  I also knew that meant I needed to have the conversation with my Dad.  He is very observant, so I figured he would notice that my husband’s car was missing from the driveway.  I just didn’t know what to say.  I was going to talk to him last night, but then I got invited for dinner and a movie with the girls.  I had decided that today after my S-Anon meeting and after Mr. Mess left I would go over and speak to him.

So, when I heard the lawn mower going I knew that the time had come.  I walked outside to tell him thank you.  He turned off the lawn mower and gave me a hug.  Then something happened that hasn’t happened since this entire ordeal started last week.  I began crying.  There I was, standing in my front yard, hugging my Dad with tears streaming down my face.  Even now just remembering and typing the story I am sobbing again.

I told him the cliff notes version of things, including my struggle with how to tell him, how to explain, where to start, how many details to go into, etc.  I know that it hurt his feelings that he had to hear second-hand.  I wish I had had the courage to rely on him sooner.  I know that he loves me.  I know that he is supportive of me.  I know that he understands.  I talked to him a lot when he and my Mom were going through their divorce.  I also know he isn’t one to judge.  He told me today that he really likes my husband and he hopes we can work this out.  It was a mistake to wait as long as I did to reach out.

As much as I love my Mom, as much as I value and respect her opinions, as much as I love her, and as much as I know she supports and cares for me – my Dad was the one I finally felt safe enough with to break down.  My Mom is so together.  She is so perceptive.  She is very contemplative and insightful.  I want to be as composed and  introspective and amazing as she is.  I feel the need to “keep it together” with her, even though I know she wouldn’t look down on me if I broke down.  My Dad is amazing, too.  It’s not like I’m saying he is a mess or something.  In that moment, I just felt like his little girl again.  It was nice to have his arms wrapped around me.  The last time that happened was on my wedding day.

Here’s a picture of that moment – the first and only time I have ever danced with my Dad.

The Start of Our Separation Guidelines

19 Oct

Yesterday morning my husband and I had our marriage counseling session.  He was late, and for the first time ever (seriously) our marriage therapist was running a bit early.  That meant I had about 5 minutes or so to tell our therapist the story of the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Okay, it was more like a beam than a straw, but you get the point.

Once Mr. Mess arrived he told the therapist we had been separated since the previous Wednesday…  Really?  You can’t even remember when this all happened?  Apparently the separation seemed to have lasted longer for him than 5 days.  He was kinda sullen and frowny-faced.  We had a bit of a moment where we disagreed in the re-telling of an incident.

None of that is really the point of this post, though.  Those little details don’t matter at all.  What does matter is that we both agreed that the separation needs to continue so that we can focus on ourselves.  Our marriage counselor concurred.  He felt that at this point it was a healthy, positive decision for us as individuals and for our marriage.

Once that was decided, we set upon the task of setting a few guidelines for the separation.  We didn’t cover everything there is to cover, but we did get a good foundation laid.  He utilized the book Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel.  I have already ordered the book so I can read the rest.

The first thing our marriage counselor covered was a time limit.  He said that in a controlled separation it is helpful to have an idea of when we want to sit down, take stock, and consider moving back into the same house again.  He recommended a time limit in the 1-6 month range.  He advised that both extremes of that time limit would probably not be the best choice at this time.  We settled on 3 months.

For the next 3 months that means we will maintain separate residences.  Both of us also agree not to file for divorce or see a lawyer to move forward with divorce proceedings.  At the end of the three month period we will talk about whether we want to move back in together, extend the separation for a period of time, or divorce.  In those three months we will continue going to marriage counseling together once per week or as often as both of our schedules allow.

The next issue was to decide on our continuing relationship and contact outside of marriage counseling.  He gave us both an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide our ideas on things that we want, need, or expect during this time.  Based on my not-so-great experiences of the previous 5 days, I proposed no contact after 9 pm.  He agreed, and our marriage counselor added his suggestion that we only use texting for basic housekeeping and non-emotional topics – no strong feelings or loaded conversations allowed.  That sounded like a good idea for me.

I also asked that Mr. Mess announcement himself before entering the marital home.  In the 4 days before our counseling session there had been a few times when he just used his key to walk right in unannounced.  He would send a vague text like “I’ll be coming by at some point tomorrow for some things,” but I didn’t get any real idea of when until he was letting himself in.  I asked for that to stop, and to at least get a specific call or text with notice and a knock at the door when he arrives.  He agreed, then upped the ante by saying he will give me the key back.  Okay…  I didn’t ask for that, but I’ll take it if that’s what he wants.

Contact-wise, those were my main requests.  Then it was Mr. Mess’s turn.  He said he is fine with my requests, then said that he would like to have some face-to-face contact with me at least once per week outside of marriage counseling.  He suggested meeting at a neutral place just to talk about how we are doing in our respective recoveries, how things are going in general, and other lighter topics that we should be able to handle without a mediator.

I considered that request, and didn’t see a reason not to comply at this point.  I truly do not have animosity towards him.  I just can’t have him be a constant presence in my life while he isn’t a trustworthy person.  Always a details girl, I asked how these meetings will be coordinated.  Our marriage counselor said that he would recommend that my husband take the lead and show initiative in this area.  He (very aptly) explained to my husband that I am looking for him to step up and show me that he is invested in this marriage and willing to fight for it.  I didn’t even have to be the one to say it…  I love our marriage counselor!

Somewhat surprisingly, Mr. Mess said that was absolutely his plan (although really, how could he say anything different?).  He said that he will contact me a few days in advance with a suggestion of a time and place we can meet.  He even said that he will choose a location close to where I am since he isn’t sure yet where he will be staying.  No matter where he ends up, he said he is willing to come to an area that I am comfortable and familiar with.

In the final few minutes we decided on a basic financial arrangement for joint bills like his car payment, car insurance and our cell phones.  I include his car payment on this list only because it is in MY name, not because I will actually be putting any money towards it.  In fact, that car payment is the bulk of what he is contributing to “joint” bills – 3/4 of the amount we agreed on, in fact.

He suggested removing himself from the cell phone plan and getting his own.  That immediately triggered me.  First of all, most of these plans require a 2 year contract.  If he is going to get off of our joint account and commit himself to 2 years on his own, then my thinking is we may as well proceed with the divorce.  Suddently 3 months of separation is turning into 2 years?  Uhhh….  what did I miss?

Secondly, it made me think that he is looking to hide things from me.  Why else would he need his own cell phone plan?  Joint plans are always cheaper, and he isn’t making a ton of money.  In fact, in our financial discussion of just a few minutes prior he made a point of how little he will have left over once he puts in for the 3 joint bills he would currently have to contribute towards.  So WHY exactly would you be looking to increase one of those expenses?  His current payment for his cell phone is $50 – with unlimited texting, a decent amount of minutes, and free nights and weekends.  It is actually on the lower end of plans that Verizon offers, and I can’t imagine even on a bare bones pre-paid phone he would pay much less than that…

It just got my spidey senses tingling and made me feel uncomfortable.  The marriage counselor advised against separating things too far or making any changes that aren’t necessary, especially long-term ones.  Mr. Mess said that was “fine” with him, but never offered his reasoning for not wanting his phone connected to me.  I still find it very strange and disconcerting.  When I pair that with the fact that he changed the password to our joint account without telling me and took the checkbook and register out of the house (again without telling me), I am feeling more uneasy today than I was yesterday.

Still, I’m trying to give this separation a chance.  I committed to 3 months of the above plan.  We would have to be separated for 6 months in order to be granted a divorce anyway, so there is no use in me getting caught up in a “what if” or “what is he doing” panic.  Instead, I choose to focus on the positive, and on how I can keep my serenity during this time.

One really fantastic thing has been the support of my S-Anon group.   Tonight I went out with a few women who I have gotten to know.  We had dinner at a Mexican place, a few of the women had a margarita (me included – raspberry – yummm), and then we went to see Taken 2.  I love, love, love the first movie!  The second movie wasn’t quite as good (in my opinion), but it was just perfect for tonight.

I found myself laughing, cheering, shouting at the screen, and getting caught up in the action (yes – I am one of those people).  I wasn’t alone.  The whole theater seemed to be sucked into the storyline.  I really couldn’t believe how fast the movie seemed to end.  A glance at my watch confirmed that it had run the proper amount of time – it just flew.

I’m still on a little bit of a high from the pumped up action.  Plus, who wouldn’t want a man like Liam Neeson who is handsome, rugged, bad-ass, and who will go to any lengths for his family?  Especially when so far the man in my life has put forth a very lackluster, pitiful effort on the simplest things – like getting STD tested or telling the truth.  Maybe he should watch the movie for a little inspiration.

We Obviously Need to Wait for Thursday

16 Oct

I learned another hard lesson today:  I should not text late at night or when I’m feeling lonely and tired.  This lesson was one that I should already have learned the night before (see the account of my last late-night texting adventure here).  However, I am nothing if not hard-headed…

Yesterday my husband asked if we could meet after work today (Tuesday) to talk about this separation and our plans moving forward.  At first I agreed, but then I really thought about it.  I have a lot of things to consider.  I have a lot of questions going on in my head.

When my husband came by yesterday to pick up some clothes his frowney face and surly attitude also told me that he wasn’t exactly feeling remorseful about his lying.  At least it didn’t seem that way.  He also made a comment that led me to believe he was going to push this whole thing off on me.

Keeping that in mind, I asked if he could wait until Thursday to talk since we already have a marriage counseling appointment set up at 9 am, and I want to make sure we are being productive.  He said something like “Whatever is more convenient for you.”

I should have left it at that.

I fully intended to.

Photo Credit: Alex Ragone/Flickr.com

Then around 9 pm my husband texted me and said, “I just remembered there are two whole chickens in the bottom drawer in the fridge you should freeze them so they don’t go bad.”

First of all, I know that text is perfectly fine.  It’s very nice of him to let me know that so the chickens don’t go bad.  I never look in that bottom drawer and would not have known they were there.

Secondly, I realize that 9 pm does not sound very late to most adults on the planet.  However, I was hopped up on medicine for my strep and ear infection and had been laying in bed for at least 30 minutes, so it was already too late for my brain to function properly.

Like a moron, I texted: “If you want to come over tomorrow night for dinner I might roast one of them.”  Insert foot in mouth.

I want to defend myself by saying that I didn’t think before I texted.  Bad idea.  I had been thinking about roasting a chicken all day, but didn’t realize there were any in the house.  We love roasting chickens with the rotisserie in the convection toaster-oven that I bought him for his birthday in August.  We have this amazing smoked sea salt that makes them absolutely delicious.  I knew I couldn’t eat a whole chicken by myself.  I thought maybe dinner would be nice.  Blah, blah, blah…

To his credit, he responded with, “I will let you know tomorrow.”

This morning, after getting sufficient sleep to improve my brain function and let all cold medicines wear off in the night, I awoke with a pit in my stomach.  I quickly texted him, “That probably wasn’t a good idea.”  I didn’t hear from him again until lunch-time today, when the following text disaster occurred:

Him: “I guess you are talking about having dinner together not being a good idea i never said that.”

Me: “Yeah, but it was kinda implied.  And it might be a bad idea.”

Him: “If you say so.”  (passive-aggressive much?)

Me: “I don’t.  I just don’t know.”

Him: “That last statement does not make since to me.  You know how you feel and by what you have been saying i dont think having dinner with me is what you want”

Me: “I do not really know what I feel right now.  Thats the thing.  I don’t know if it would help or hurt things so I guess the safest bet is to talk in MC.” (MC stands for marriage counseling)

Him: “All i know is “i dont know” has never been an acceptable answer from me yet im accepting it from you.  I hope you figure it out then we will both know” (Ok, Buddy, now you’ve crossed a line!)

Me: “Its not fair to put everything on me.  You put us in this situation with your lies then expect me to make all the decisions about where that leaves us.”

Him: “Im not asking where it leave us im asking where it leaves you.”

Me: “Thats the same thing.”

Him: “We should just keep this conversation for thursday.”

Me:  “That’s exactly what I was saying.”

So, we now officially have a gag order in place until Thursday, at least in my mind.  I think no contact for a day and a half really won’t be a bad thing.

Forgiveness in the Face of Turmoil

13 Oct

Forgiveness lesson from flowers

Today has been a very difficult day for me.  Rather than blog about that, I’m going to add my commentary to another Rick Reynolds article – Forgiving Infidelity: Practical Suggestions to Move Toward Forgiveness.  He and his wife worked together to provide their own suggestions about how to forgive.  They both have very insightful advice.  It is definitely an article worth reading in full.

However, I am not going to address the entire thing here.  The only thing I will respond to right now are the tips for the hurt spouse.  Below is an excerpt from the article.  I’m also including the portion before the tips that distinguishes between forgiveness and reconciliation because I think it is crucial.  In pink are my comments and feelings as they stand tonight.

At Affair Recovery we believe there are two components to forgiveness as it pertains to forgiving infidelity. First is the internal aspect of forgiveness, which has little or nothing to do with the other person. It is a personal choice to release the other person from retribution or harm as a result of their offence; it’s coming to the point where you can wish them well. It’s not based on their repentance or merit, since it’s an internal matter. It is a gift you give yourself, which sets you free and allows you to live at peace with your memories. The internal aspect of forgiveness in marriage where infidelity is involved is important in that failing to achieve this type of forgiveness leaves you forever the victim.

The second aspect of forgiving infidelity is about reconciliation. This component of forgiveness is primarily based on safety. Does the unfaithful spouse see what they’ve done, do they take responsibility for their actions and are they grieved over what their actions have cost others? Anything short of that response potentially makes them unsafe for reconciliation. This aspect of forgiveness determines whether the relationship will continue. If they are willing to make amends for their failure, then reconciliation might be a good choice.

Practical Suggestions For Forgiving Infidelity For The Hurt Spouse:  (These are from his spouse)

1.  Separate forgiveness from the process of reconciliation. Make reconciliation optional and forgiveness not optional. People often do this backwards, choosing to reconcile rather than forgive. This leaves them trapped in the pain of the betrayal, never able to move forward to a new life. If your mate isn’t safe don’t reconcile. In the first year of recovery don’t pressure yourself to decide about reconciliation. It may take over a year before you know whether it’s safe to reconcile. Reconciliation depends on your mate’s ongoing recovery and your ability to heal from the trauma of the betrayal.

This is something I am just realizing: forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things.  I like this concept, and it rings very true to me.  I know that I did this part backwards because I decided to reconcile before I was able to forgive.  I chose to stay with my husband and work on the marriage before he was a safe person to recover with.  I can now see the wisdom in this method.  You truly have to be able to forgive before you can know whether reconciliation is an option.

2.  Make a conscious choice to forgive. For freedom’s sake don’t hang on to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is always in your best interest and in the interest of those you love. Only time will tell whether reconciliation has a place in your relationship.

“For freedom’s sake don’t hang on to bitterness and resentment.”  I had to type that again.  Forgiveness, or at least acceptance, is the only way to move forward – with or without the relationship intact.  Hanging onto bitterness and resentment can eat a hole in your soul.  I don’t want to be that person.  I have to let those things go.  I don’t feel bitter or resentful towards my husband.  I sometimes feel sad.  I feel hurt, especially when he lies to me.

I am actively trying to not let those feelings run my life, though.  I don’t want to resent him for his actions.  I have been an active participant in this relationship – I stayed after I found the porn, I stayed after he lied to me about strip clubs, I stayed after I discovered his cyber affair, I stayed through more and more lies and revelations, I stayed when he was diagnosed as a sex addict, and I stayed as much for myself and due to my own issues (codependent much?) as because of his lies.

I am partially responsible for where we are.  I can’t resent him for his part unless I am also willing to resent myself – and I can’t do that.  I have to keep moving forward.  I can’t become bitter and jaded, as easy as that would be.  I can’t wallow in self-pity.  I have to heal for me.  I am worthy of healing.  It is in my best interest to let go and forgive.

3.  Choose to focus on what’s helpful. Once you know what’s happened there may be diminishing benefit in continuing to focus on the past. Have the sense to ask yourself if how you’re spending your time (conversation, thought life) is helping to move you forward in your recovery. If it’s something that’s keeping you stuck, let it go. You want to choose life, not death.

Okay, what has been helpful?  Loving myself has been helpful.  Going to S-Anon has been helpful.  Being aware of my codependent tendencies has been helpful.  Going to therapy has been helpful.  Blogging and journaling has been helpful (writing my thoughts down, commenting, stretching my view of myself and others, working to really understand what makes me tick, getting thoughts out of my head and onto a computer screen where I can examine them, etc.).   Those things have all been focused on bettering myself, increasing my self-awareness, and changing – as painful as it can be.

The things that have not been helpful – shopping, eating, obsessing about things I can’t change, fighting, yelling, arguing, threatening, trying to control.  Going around and around in circles saying the same things is also not helpful.  Holding onto anger has not been helpful.  Contacting the OW at the beginning of all this was definitely not helpful.  Thinking of myself as perfect – or at least trying to be that way – didn’t help, and actually made things worse.  I do want to choose life, not death and certainly not an excruciating limbo.

4.  Maintain an attitude of compassion. If you can look at your mate through a lens of compassion and concern you may find it easier to let go of the offence. Forgiving infidelity is not a sign of weakness and it doesn’t minimize the magnitude of the betrayal, rather it allows you to move forward, free from the hurtful actions of another. Forgiveness in marriage, even without infidelity, requires compassion.

This is something that my Mom really helps me with.  I also think that when I started feeling compassion and concern for him and his addiction I also started down the path of forgiveness.  If forgiveness truly is about wishing the other person well, then I’m definitely there.  I want him to get better.  I can imagine how horrible it must be to be trapped in lies and compulsive behavior.  My heart aches for him.

I already know that forgiving someone is not weak and doesn’t take away from what was done.  Forgiveness doesn’t negate hurt.  It doesn’t discount fear.  It doesn’t exist separately from sadness.  Instead, it coexists with them.  It dulls the pain.  It acknowledges that there is another dimension to everything.  It complicates things while also making them simpler – adding different viewpoints and angles to the situation to add clarity – much the way multiple camera views of a play can make the proper call easier to determine.  Compassion and empathy are the aspects of forgiveness that make that possible.

5.  Don’t hang on to entitlements. As Charles Dickens says, “In every life, no matter how full or empty one’s purse, there is tragedy. It is the one promise life always fulfils. Thus, happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it but to delight in it when it comes and to add to other people’s store of it.” Your mate may have destroyed your happiness, but life is hard and often unjust. Try to keep realistic expectations.

Here is an area where I can definitely use work.  I am very guilty of hanging on to the idea that life should be fair, that I should get what I want, and that I deserve happiness…  That quote is completely true, though.  It is profound in its honesty.  It shatters my preconceived notions about myself and about life in general.  I consider myself a realist, yet I somehow allow myself to forget the simple fact that life is hard and full of tragedy.

6.  Take care of yourself. A lack of sleep, isolation, or severe depression only makes forgiving infidelity more difficult. It’s not fair since you aren’t the one who cheated, but you’re the only one who can take the necessary steps to heal from the wounds created by others. Be willing to get help.

This is really fantastic advice for anyone going through a difficult time – betrayal, loss, sickness, or anything else you can think of.  Sleep.  Eat.  Talk to someone.  Do everything in moderation, nothing to excess.  If you are on medication, take it.  Focus on yourself.

Today I had a really rough time.  I am sick on top of a number of other things.  Still, I took my antidepressants and vitamins, remembered my cold medicine every 4 hours, put 2 different types of drops in my ear for an infection, and got a moderate amount of rest.  I ate, and although it wasn’t particularly healthy (pizza) I did limit myself to only 2 pieces.  I also made sure to have carrots and other healthy snacks throughout the day.  I didn’t isolate myself – I called a friend, talked to my Mom and Dad (separately), cuddled with my dogs, and made it outside at least 3 or 4 times.  I also cleaned the house some and took time for myself to write this.  I will be going to bed at a decent hour.

As for getting help, that is definitely a must.  I look forward to my weekly sessions with the therapist.  I enjoy my S-Anon meetings.  I am going to make time to go to the doctor very, very soon.  I am finally realizing that I can’t do it all on my own, and that is okay.  It is actually quite a relief.

7.  Be aware of your own humanity. As CS Lewis says, “All saints must keep one nostril keenly attuned to their own inner cesspool.” Be willing to consider what you’ve been forgiven. Maintaining an awareness of what others have had to forgo for your sake will help you find patience for others. A self-righteous attitude will cut you off from the very thing you seek.

I have a lot of faults.  I make a lot of mistakes.  I require a lot of forgiveness.  This list isn’t even close to complete, but I can name so many things off the top of my head that need to be improved in me.  I am stubborn to a fault.  I am competitive – I always want to win, even when it has gone past the point of being enjoyable or productive.  I am disorganized most of the time – my clothes are thrown around in piles, my shoes clutter up the house, I am horrible about leaving things sitting on any flat surface available, and when I do organize it is by my own system, which is nearly indecipherable to others.  I tend to put things off (I have several t-shirts about procrastination to proudly declare that to the world, too). 

I can be petty.  I curse way too much.  I eat unhealthy things and sabotage my own weight-loss.  I say mean things to people, sometimes aimed purposefully at what I know are their weakest spots.  I yell.  I over-think.  I am a horrible pet owner.  When I am happy I get complacent and lazy, disregarding all my other responsibilities to revel in the happiness.  I lose myself in other people, especially when I am in a romantic relationship. 

I am controlling.  I am a perfectionist.  I have a really bad image of myself.  I smile at the most inappropriate times – like when I’m uncomfortable, when I’m feeling insecure, at funerals, etc.  I cry when I get really angry, which makes me angrier, which in turn makes me cry more.

I often take a holier-than-thou attitude.  When I do that it usually indicates an area that I need to examine further in myself.  I have a lot of things to figure out.  I have started working on my issues, and I will continue to do so – maybe for the rest of my life.

So there it is…  another glimpse into my mess.  It really isn’t beautiful at all.

if ever there was a time, let it be here, let ...

Not Only Do I Have An Addictive Personality, I Also Have An Addictive Blog!

12 Oct

Wow…  Where did this week go?  Here is it Friday, and I’ve barely had a chance to talk to you guys this week.  I know that no one is waiting with bated breath for the words that come out of my fingertips.  🙂  Still, I like to blog because writing is such a cathartic thing for me.  I also like to think that my story and experiences help some, or at least are interesting and slightly entertaining.

I don’t know about the first part, but I did get confirmation this week that my blog is addictive.  Whether I’m addictive like Lay’s (you can’t eat just one) or like cocaine, I’m not really sure.  Neither are particularly good for you, but at least the former just gives you greasy fingers and a little padding on your hips.

Seriously, though, two wonderful and talented women nominated me for an award this week.  Being Her, (the other woman)… nominated me here, and our24yeargap nominated me here.

Now for the Rules:

Thank the person awarding you.  Share a little about why you blog and how the journey started. Paste the blog award on your page. Nominate 10 other bloggers you feel deserve the award.

I don’t have to be told to thank the two ladies who nominated me because they are truly fantastic.  I never imagined that I would feel such kinship, empathy, and connection to “the other woman,” but Being Her has bared her soul and shared her unique situation in a way that made those things possible.  Addiction has also touched her life in a very real, very devastating way, and I appreciate that she has given me a window into her world.  I found our24yeargap because we share the bond of loving older men.  She has since won my heart with her raw, honest commentary on life and the beautiful photographs that she takes.  I only hope that those close to her in “real life” can begin to acknowledge and recognize her talents and beauty, inside and out.

As for why I blog and where my journey started, I share a lot of that on my What Brought Me Here page.  Here’s the longer, brutally honest version.  I didn’t enter this blogging world intending to start a blog of my own.  On the contrary, I never understood blogging.  I know I made more than one negative joke about how everyone in the world seems thinks they have something that the rest of us care to read about – NOT!  I despised everything about blogging, especially the stupid name…  Who came up with that anyway?  And why exactly did it stick?

Then a friend shared a few links to his blog on Facebook.  I checked it out – mostly to support him, but also because I did think he had something to say that was worth reading.  I soon discovered other bloggers that commented on his posts, and realized some of their stuff was pretty interesting.  Then I read a post about infidelity that evoked very strong emotions in me.  For the first time ever, I responded to a blog other than my friend’s.  In fact, I wrote so much and got such a positive response that I realized I had something to say on the topic.  My blog was born.

Since then, my blog has morphed from a commentary on infidelity to one that touches on sex addiction, marital recovery, S-Anon, Retrouvaille, pornography, and even completely unrelated subjects like food, travel, and zombies.  What this blog has become for me is a place where I can bare my soul and talk about whatever passion or topic is currently on my mind.  It has become my refuge, my sounding board, a place where I have met great friends, continue to grow and change, and publish insights as I uncover them.  These are the chronicles of a mixed-up woman with an addictive personality, a sex addict husband, a half-blind dog, and a wonderful support system making her way through marriage recovery, infidelity, codependence, love, hurt, joy, pain, and good food one day at a time.  Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Now for 10 other wonderful bloggers that I have become addicted to (in no particular order):

  1. IM IN LOVE WITH A SERIAL CHEATER
  2. theothersideofinfidelity
  3. Repairing Shattered Pieces
  4. persuaded2go
  5. Castimonia
  6. Teatart
  7. livinginsidethetornado
  8. Our Journey After His Affair
  9. bRaving Bipolar
  10. The Significant Other of a Fuck (Sex) Addict

I hope that everyone has a lovely weekend.  Thanks again to everyone who reads what I type – I appreciate all of my followers and fellow bloggers more than you know!

1 Other Woman Became 4…

5 Oct

That’s about all I’m emotionally able to say right now.  I’m still processing…

I am glad that I have a therapy appointment today at 11.  I really need it.

Gifts of the S-Anon Program

3 Oct

Today at lunch I got what I needed – time to talk with my Mom.  She is so wise.  She puts things in perspective.  She has the ability to empathize and see all sides of a situation.  I am truly lucky beyond belief to have her as my mother.  Some people never have someone so insightful, loving, encouraging, and warm in their lives.

Somewhere in the midst of my conversation with her I realized that I was hungry.  I ate an apple, cheese, and a few crackers.  It wasn’t the most nutritional thing in the world, but it wasn’t complete and utter junk, either.  My nausea disappeared.  A sense of peace came over me.  I realized that there is a lot I will have to keep processing, but I will be fine.

I have wanted to share the gifts of the S-Anon program for a while.  Today the urge was overwhelming.  I read the passages in my little green book.  I thought about what it means for me.  I am trying to hold onto those truths and let them work in my life.

In the below passage, I think of the recovery process (therapy, connecting emotionally, growing, changing, etc.) as my “Higher Power.”  Instead of “God” or some invisible entity, I think of the care of the collective wisdom and resources of those who have searched before me.  I think of MY 11th step, which is – “Make a genuine effort to maintain a positive attitude and remain honest with myself when tracing the root of my troubles.  Continue to think for myself and not be easily led, but seriously consider the input of others.”

This is what I’m focusing on today:

GIFTS OF THE S-ANON PROGRAM

When we approach the process of recovery with honesty, openmindedness, and willingness to apply the principles of the Twelve Steps to our lives, we will soon begin to see the rewards.  We will become able to surrender our self-defeating behavior.  We will find that we have the strength and insight to make good choices for ourselves.  Our ability to act positively for our health, families, jobs, and bank accounts will amaze us.  We will find that others are doing things for themselves, which we though we had to do for them.  Our ability to give and receive love will expand tremendously, and we will become increasingly available for loving relationships with others.  We will recover the feeling of joy.  We will become more honest with ourselves and experience a new comfort in our intimate relationships.  We will feel the security that arises from true fellowship with others in the program, knowing that we are loved and accepted just as we are.  Feelings of failure and inadequacy will be replaced by self-confidence and independence of spirit.  We will no longer expect other people to provide us with an identity or a sense of self-worth.  We will find the courage to be true to ourselves.  We will know peace of mind and feel a stronger connection with the Higher Power of our understanding, and our Hope will turn to faith that God is really working in our lives, as we explore the wonders of serenity, dignity, and emotional growth.

Besides realizing that they really need to add more paragraph breaks to that passage, typing it out has been a great experience.  Reading it again on my own gave me a sense of serenity.  We read that and a few other readings aloud at each meeting.  I have taken more time recently to really look at what they are saying and determine how I feel about it all.  I have never been one to “follow the crowd,” I never thought slogans would be the least bit useful to me, and a younger version of myself probably would have made a gagging gesture at the hopeful, syrupy tone and promise that just following the steps could make your life better.

I still have a little of that skepticism inside me, but I also have a sense that those words are meaningful.  Syrupy or not, they have power.  I have also seen some of the gifts manifest themselves in my life already.  I want more of that serenity.

Facing Reality Sucks

3 Oct

… so I’ve been avoiding it. 

We had the disclosure last night.  I’m not going to use the word “full” yet, because I know there are some things he didn’t go over in very much detail at all.  There were a few places he skimmed a bit.  There are som things he didn’t cover in his disclosure that have already come out, which means it is at least somewhat incomplete.  We will definitely need to talk more about his feelings and thought-processes leading up to his actions.  I do think most of the layers of the onion are peeled and visible.  There was more than I thought there would be once it was all laid out in front of me.

I thought I was prepared.  I mostly was.  Then the silliest thing jumped up and ripped my heart out.  It wasn’t even about his actions per say.  I got confirmation that he has been lying to me about something that I knew he was lying about.  Being faced with that reality made me look at it in a way I never had before.  Even though I had a gut feeling that was pretty solid before the revelation, I had never let my mind process everything through to its logical conclusion.  There was always the tiniest glint of hope that what he told me was the truth.  Once the reality was staring me in the face, I was forced to see that someone else I have grown to respect and like may have been involved in a way I don’t want to face.  I still don’t have a resolution on that issue – Mr. Mess is going to get a few questions answered for clarity sake.  I fear that I may lose someone I have come to think of as a friend and an activity that I have fallen in love with.

There was also a deeper revelation about his past that I didn’t see coming.  I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming – in hindsight all of the signs were there, and I know that sex addiction escalates.  It still took me by surprise.  I don’t know how I feel about it.  I don’t know how TO feel about it.

So I’m not.  I’ve browsed eBay (so far, I haven’t bought anything, but my “Watch List” suddenly went from nothing to 20).  I vented my frustration in an email to a company that has been yanking me around and picked the wrong day to mess with me.  I have read other people’s blogs – more to distract myself than to offer any real support or advice.  I don’t have any of that right now.  I have cleared out my computer, organized files, and any other mindless task I can think of.

I have lost 3 pounds overnight from the stomach issues I’ve experienced.  All I’ve managed to eat so far today is half an apple, which made me feel nauseous.  I did make sure to take my antidepressant this morning, even as zombied out as I was.  I need to go to lunch now.  I just don’t know what I’m going to do with an hour alone in my house.  Try to eat something.  Probably watch something mindless from my DVR.  Maybe manage a sentence or two in my journal.  Probably call my Mom and set up a day soon to have lunch, or just come to her house and curl up on her couch.  I am seriously considering calling our MC for an individual appointment soon.  I know I need to process this, and I probably need help to do it.

I am keeping everything in mind that I said yesterday.  I’m not angry with my husband.  I’m not judging him.  I’m just numb.  This is a totally different feeling than discovering something on my own.  It is far better than THAT feeling, but it is so new that I don’t know what to do with it.

Some rights reserved by Marco Bellucci

As a side note:  How fucked up is it that when I typed “avoiding reality” into the image search engine I got tons and tons of porn images.  It just makes me feel sick and also sad.  I knew pornography was used by many as an unhealthy coping mechanism and a way to avoid reality, but to have it come up automatically with that tame, G-rated search made my heart hurt.

Being Aware of Our Vulnerabilities

2 Oct

man on a wire – by simple pleasure

Last week a blogger I follow posted about a Vulnerability Assessment from her marriage counselor.  I was instantly intrigued.  She pointed out that Vulnerability + Opportunity = Affair.  That makes sense, although the reality is probably a tiny bit more complicated.

Those do seem like the basic questions to ask yourself, though – how vulnerable are you to being led astray and what kind of opportunity do you have to act on that vulnerability.  Those two things together are important to the equation.  Having lots of opportunity to cheat doesn’t necessarily mean that you will.  Similarly, being vulnerable to an affair doesn’t guarantee you will have one.  Someone can also be vulnerable and make their own opportunity or have so much opportunity that it creates a vulnerability.  However, if you mix equal parts vulnerability to an affair and opportunity to have one, it is obviously a recipe for disaster.

That made me wonder…  Just how vulnerable am I?

If I had to guess, I would say that I probably have a fairly high score on that assessment.  My husband is a sex addict, so his cycles and behaviors have definitely put him at a high risk overall.  But what about me?

Certainly, according to the small snapshot she shared, I would answer “True” more often than I would like.  Just look at some of this stuff…  Did you know you are at increased risk of having an affair simply if:

  • you have a Facebook account?
  • you have been dealing with stress (family, illness, work, marriage, new job)?
  • you have moved?
  • you have had to deal with the loss of a parent, child, sibling, pet, close friend, family member?
  • you have dealt with or are dealing with a physical/emotional illness (stress, depression, low self-esteem)?
  • you feel taken for granted or taken advantage of at work, at home, in life?
  • you have had to deal with children that are teenagers, rebellious, or unruly?
  • you have felt self-conscious of aging, a bulging mid-section, receding hairline, sagging breasts, erectile dysfunction, major weight loss/gain?
  • you have felt sexually inadequate or second-rate in bed?
  • you confide easily in others?
  • you lack clear goals or dreams or sense of purpose for your life?
  • you have thought or spoke negatively about yourself?
  • you have a lack of self-awareness concerning infidelity, such as:
    • “This couldn’t happen to me.”
    • “I’m committed to working on my marriage.”
    • “No one would be interested in me.”
    • “I would recognize the signs.”
    • “I can be his/her friend only.”
    • “He/She is only a friend.”
    • “He/She is not attractive to me, so this is OK.”
    • “We are both married.”  [As if that totally rules it out…]
    • “This will not get out of hand.”
  • you have a high need for affirmation from others in your life?
  • you feel sorry for yourself?
  • you often see things as ALL or NOTHING?
  • you are unable to communicate your thoughts and emotions to your spouse? perhaps you have been dishonest with them about difficult issues because you fear them rejecting you or punishing you, or because you think it will protect them…”What they don’t know won’t hurt.”)
  • compared to others, you view yourself as:  morally superior, smarter than, or more self-aware?
  • your spouse embarrasses you in public?
  • your marriage is “keeping up the image” to others?
  • you have felt your sex life lacked quality, passion or adventure, and/or it has not been frequent enough?
  • you are disconnected sexually because of emotional starvation?
  • you have married friends who complain about their marriages?
  • you spend time alone?

Teetering on the brink – © Copyright John Naisbitt and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons

I definitely don’t have all of them, not even half, but several of them stood out.  This is also not the entire list.  She got a HUGE list of almost 250 characteristics that can make you vulnerable to an affair, and chose just to share some of the ones that she found the most surprising or that made the most sense.

If I spent time alone I’m more vulnerable to an affair?  Huh?  If it’s on there, though, there must be a reason.  I think it is important to remember all of the little ways we can become vulnerable – to an affair, but also to drifting apart from our partner.  Each of these things is part of a bigger picture.  Too many of them together can mean that you are opening yourself up to stray, or even just to become estranged from your spouse.  The moral of the story is:

Expose your weaknesses before the lies become believable.

I am about to head into the therapist’s office to have my husband give me a full disclosure of his acting out behavior.  I am nervous.  There are all sorts of thoughts and emotions swirling around inside me.  One thing I have been keeping in the forefront of my brain is that the roles could easily be reversed.  If I had a different childhood, if I were treated or raised differently, if I had chosen to cope with sex or porn instead of shopping or eating, if any number of things had happened… this could be me today.  I am going to try my hardest to leave all judgement at the door.  We have walked down different paths.  We have experienced life differently.  The things we have been through brought us together, and we are moving forward hand in hand.

What’s that saying… “But for the grace of God go I.”  I may not believe in God, but I do believe that none of us can be positive that we aren’t vulnerable to being that person we despise, pity, hate, laugh at, etc…  I am going to try to hold onto that renewed sense of humility and self-awareness as I listen with an open heart to the things my husband has struggled with in his past.  Wish me luck.

A homeless man in Paris – work by Eric Pouhier

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