I don’t actually know what is real

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“I love myself!”

It was a downright hellish battle for my trauma therapist to get me to say those words last year. In one of our earlier sessions, she said, “Kat, do you love yourself?” And I sat there, for a long time, thinking. And then tears started rolling down my cheeks. At that point, I was blubbering half my days away and nearly everything the trauma therapist said had me in tears. I told her I definitely liked myself. I love how I treat other people. I love my children. I love my family. I used to love my life. She didn’t speak. She just let me go on and on talking about all the things in my life that I love. She was SO patient. When I stopped talking, she said, yes, I realize you are a loving person, but do you love YOURSELF?” I said I definitely liked myself. That there were things I wished I could change about myself, like I wished I loved exercise and I wished I was at a healthier weight, and I wished this and that. Thinking back on this now, I cannot believe how patient this woman was. I was completely deflecting away from her question. She had obviously been here before. Finally, I knew what she wanted me to say, but I wasn’t going to lie and I knew she wouldn’t believe me anyway. I said, “no, I don’t think I love myself. Right here, right now. I like myself.” I said I believed that I had always loved myself in the past (although I had never really thought about it), but now I know there must be something horribly wrong with me for my husband to have done this to me. For strangers to have taken something that belonged to me and then tried to break apart my marriage. For my husband to have told another woman that I wasn’t loving and nurturing. For my husband to have told another woman that he loved her. He wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t true, right? At that point she said, “hmmm, we’ll get back to that later.” Even though I knew deep down that I was an incredibly strong, confident, and loving person, a nurturer to my children and my husband, somehow the trauma wouldn’t allow me to believe in who I was. It wouldn’t allow me to claim my own story. My new reality was a broken woman in trauma trying to understand why people would hurt me so badly if I really was such a good person.

It took quite a few hours of trauma counseling for me to be able to honestly and truly say, “I love myself.” I love who I am and I believe in who I am, and where I am in my life. I love how I have treated other people and how many of them have treated me back. I love my swarm of siblings and all their little ones. I adore my parents with all their kinks and quirks and it makes me sad to realize we are nearing the end of our time with some of them. I love my husband, even the husband I now know to be a fearful, broken, 51 year old sex addict, and I know he truly does love me too. But none of that really allowed me to re-claim my life.

Even with all the love going on, however, even a year post intensive trauma therapy, I still have moments where I feel like I am living in someone else’s reality. I sit and think about how much was going on around me while I obliviously lived my happy life. There is an empty spot where part of me used to reside. I want to fill that spot. I feel like Truman in ‘The Truman Show.’ I just cannot figure out if I am Truman before, or after he realizes his whole life is a television show. I feel like I am caught in this awkward Truman place, after he finds out his life isn’t real, but before he sails across the fake ocean and finds the door to… the streets of Los Angeles? Is it still fear that is holding me back from living a life that feels more real, and more true to me now?

We had couple’s therapy yesterday afternoon. I never can remember everything that goes on in those couple’s sessions after we leave. We actually talked about that in the session as well. It is dissociation? Who knows. I know I feel somehow disconnected from the couple’s therapy that I wanted so badly. I feel like no one really understands me, Blue Eyes, or our relationship. How can someone give us advice when they don’t really have all the facts and I don’t know if I have the energy and patience to go back over everything that we say and do in a week, so the therapist has better insight. It is overwhelming. Towards the end of the session yesterday, we talked about me needing more autonomy. I need some of my old life back. I need my time. I need Blue Eyes to be away from home and at work for portions of the day. I need him to go to his meetings, and do his recovery, and go to physical therapy, and go to his Buddhist meditation. And I need him to do this without being resentful and angry and I need him to do this without pretending and without going back to his addiction. But I can’t do it for him and I will never really know what goes on in his head. I need him to do all those things so I can move on with my life. Again, I feel stuck between a rock and a hard spot. I fell in love with a sex addict. I lived with a sex addict for 30 years. I was married to an unrecovered sex addict for nearly 25 years. I was happy. Like Truman, until it was obvious that my world was fake, I loved it!

Now, I am living with a recovering addict. His juggling act is over. He can no longer keep everything going by feeding his addiction. I know he is growing and learning how to be less fearful, how to be kinder and gentler to himself, how to love himself and how to properly communicate, and in turn we will all reap the benefits of a healthier Blue Eyes. In the meantime, this sucks. I am wanting my old life back and then I run smack into the back wall, it wasn’t real. Yes, I can create a new life. Yes, I can still do the things that I used to do that made me happy and productive. Yes, I also can be a better person by paying more attention to my own health. Yes, it can all be great and anything worth while takes hard work, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, and all that, yada yada… but building a new life, after having a previous life destroyed by lies, and betrayal, and infidelity, is not as easy as it looks. No matter how much support I have, or how, intellectually I know what I need to do for myself, or how sunny the day is, I still stop, every day, stop and stare into the distance. The “Mind Movies” (as Paula over at Tearing at the Fabric calls them… also weird, Jim Carrey reference here too, I didn’t realize it until now) aren’t playing anymore. The reel has stopped and I am just standing there, listening to the flapping of the loose film, with a feeling of emptiness and that is when I realize… I don’t actually know what is real.

26 thoughts on “I don’t actually know what is real

  1. This is so true for me. I completely relate to everything you’ve written, including your struggle with whether or not you loved yourself at that time. I didn’t really think in those terms early on (probably because no one directly asked me to), but I have been thinking specifically about this a lot lately and I can say without hesitation that I do not love myself in this moment. I would almost go as far as to say I hate who I am now. I’m insecure, have no self confidence, don’t like my mistrust of my fellow man, have no real purpose for my life. Nope, I do not love this new me. The old me would have put serious effort into turning that around and becoming who I wanted to be so I could love myself again, the new me just accepts that I don’t love me with no ambition or will to change it. I’m grateful for your blog, though, it gives me hope that I will eventually care enough to put the effort in at some point soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not liking your comment because I like what you say, but because you were able to honestly put the words out there and acknowledge them, that’s why I liked your comment. I always feel weird about liking comments and posts when the author is struggling. I like the honesty of it. Not sure why I feel compelled to explain myself. 🙂 . I totally understand where you are coming from. This is a journey and loving yourself is critical to it. I know it takes time and betrayal makes it all so incredibly difficult. You will get there. Sometimes we need to make changes in our life, in our environment, in what we are doing to take care of ourselves to even get to the point where we can say we love ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up too much, you were able to be honest and that is a huge step. Self reflection is a good thing. Although giving yourself time to heal is important, stress is a bad bad thing. It can make you physically ill. With my blog, I try to find balance between showing how difficult the struggle is, but also showing progress, and healing. Hugs to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My dear Kat,
    I am ten years ahead of you in marriage/betrayal and one year ahead of you in recovery. And I still find this journey so troublesome and complicated. I, too, am grappling with knowing what is “real.” Is his recovery real? Were all our great times real? Was our happiness real? Was our great love real?

    We are making headway. I am much better with the trauma (though some triggers can take me right back). I am better at managing the reality of what he actually did. I am distancing myself from being so intwined with him. I am hopefully creating better boundaries at seeing my happiness more dependent on me rather than on him. We are doing a much better job of communicating rather than avoiding uncomfortable feelings. I/we have made great progress.

    But the question is always in the back of my mind. I thought everything before d-day was real so now how can I trust that everything now is real? I am hoping as I continue on this journey that this will become less of a concern and I can fully embrace the life we are now creating. Time does seem to help with the healing.

    So, friend, I am right there with you, cheering you on to discovering the confidence in knowing what is real.

    BTW, this is another well-written, well-thought out post. I have no idea how you are able to come up with these amazing posts on an almost daily basis. Once again thank you for giving my thoughts and feelings a voice!

    Hugs,
    Kit

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kit. Big hugs back and thank you for your comment. Thanks for validating the journey and giving me hope. I know the pain and triggers won’t just end. Blue Eyes is doing a good job of sticking with the recovery but he is definitely struggling. We were just talking last night about how the first year he was focusing so much on me and just acknowledging his new reality. Now that he is well into the second year of recovery and nearly done with his fourth/fifth step, he is feeling the pull. He’ll be in an ungrounded place and although he doesn’t go back to his acting out behaviors, he feels kind of lost and broken. He IS lost and broken. The Buddhist mindfulness spirituality component has been critical for him. It is so very difficult to change the brain function after so many years of just doing what came naturally, feeding the addiction. He has his stuff, and I have mine. It’s a tough road but it does help tremendously to know you guys are out there and are working it and it gets better. I’m sure an outsider would read my posts and say, just get over it already. It is very difficult to really know what goes on in other people’s lives. It helps so much (and hurts too) to know that others have walked the path, and survived. Thinking of you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Truman, what a great movie. I STILL struggle with what is real, what is fake. I wonder if you ever stop? I guess this is just life after discovering your husband has cheated on you. You cannot believe everything you see. You question everything up until this point in your life. Was everything an act? Did he ever really love me? You cannot believe this is now your life. And you had no say in it! SWxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! I think this is where the whole concept of taking care of ourselves comes in. Every one tells me to take care of myself and I just want to focus on what happened to my life? WTF? How was I so obliviously happy. I remember in the Truman show thinking about how in the world his actress TV wife could do that? Be like a “real” wife and then leave the “set.” Realizing it was just a movie, but a lot of people live in fantasy worlds. I have always lived in reality, and that is what blows my mind. Someone fucking stole my reality? It’s a crime. I need to realize my reality was literally real. My husband was the one not living in reality, not living his own life the way he wanted to. I have to distance myself from those strange and disconnected feelings that he robbed me of something. Only I can control who I am and what my life is. Maybe if I say it enough, I’ll believe it. It’s a bitch. Hugs, SW!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You know, I so relate when you talk about feeling like you are living in someone else’s reality. I felt that too when my world got turned upside down. I am now getting to grips with things, but the shock of it was definitely traumatizing.
    I also have difficult saying that I love myself, though I like myself very much. Do you think as women, that maybe this is something that is hard for us to say? I wonder. You should love you though Kat, you are an amazing woman. I admire you so much for dealing what you’ve had to deal with with so much class and honesty.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, C. Sorry you had to feel the pain too. There are way too many of us, but we are strong and we will carry on brighter and happier and better than before. It just takes time. I was going to say, after reading your blog all the way through (where is your old blog? I want to read your old blog!) that we have a lot of differences… I do not like macaroons, I love my kitties, there were a few other things you talk about that I am the opposite, and I thought, we are all different, and yet, we are all the same. That was the most amazing thing about the betrayed spouse workshop. We are all women and women should stick together and not hurt each other and because all the women in the room shared that one important bond, there was no way we were going to dislike anything about each other. There was no room for that kind of negative energy. I love you, C, differences and all. 🙂 . I can’t wait to meet you in person one of these days. You’re an inspiration!

      Liked by 2 people

      • You dont like macaroons????!!! What’s up with that 😉
        There are some parts of my blog that I made private for the time being, so I am not sure if you noticed gaps. Its because i said some specific and derogatory stuff against my ex, that I should probably keep under wraps until every T of my divorce has been crossed. The old blogs were totally destroyed :(. I miss them because I put so much love and work into them… but I hope that like with life in general, its onto newer and better. Divorce is all about creating from the ground up.
        I could not agree more about women sticking together. It is a shame that so many are so quick and willing to tear eachother down.
        Love and Kisses 🙂
        p.s. please don’t tell me u don’t like burgers either… that would be a bad thing 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • I do not like coconut. My older son and my mother LOVE coconut. Both my mother and my MIL are insane for macaroons. Actually both my son and my mother have nearly the same palette, which is quite diverse. When I traveled with my cousin to Hawaii when I was 16, I was so excited because the buffets at the hotels we stayed at had white cake, but then when I got close I realized they were smothered in coconut. I was SO disappointed! Ha, me and my cake. I do love burgers, just not as much as you and Blue Eyes do. The first thing he looks for on a menu, is a burger. And even some of the fanciest restaurants have their own signature burger these days. Our younger son is also a huge burger (and sandwich) fan. My Pinterest sandwich board is pretty much for those two. They go insane looking at it. We are thinking of going to a restaurant for dinner that has a double pimento cheeseburger. Blue Eyes has been talking about it for days. 🙂

          Women sticking together, yep, that’s the ticket! Lots of love and kisses back. Also, I loved your street art photos, amazing!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah. Liking yourself vs Loving yourself. I don’t know about those yet. My husband says he likes himself and that makes me want to punch him. Perhaps we need to speak out loud of how we view ourselves.

    That reality check is not so nice now anymore. It’s not nice for anyone. I have no idea what is real anymore because it could be taken away and changed on a moments notice. I do not like that uneasiness.

    I look back on my whole life and wonder what was real? I know it was though as awful as it was and that is difficult. As for now? I guess life us what I make it but I need help to do what I want, to be happy and fulfilled. I can only rely on myself and that is scary.

    Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s scary, Bugs. It really really is. Acknowledging that fear is good. Tackling it, conquering it, and rising above it, is crucial. It all takes time and trying not to fall into that swirling pit of despair in the meantime, is so hard. This is where that working on ourselves comes in. Being strong and independent and confident is an aphrodisiac. Once we get to that place, it feels so good and it feels good to be around us. Unfortunately, it is a difficult process and different for each of us depending on personality and childhood wounds and in your case, serious adult wounds. Once I realized how devastated I was after dday, I knew the healing wasn’t going to happen over night. It is depressing to come out of those dissociative moments and remember where I am and who I am. But each month I pick myself up quicker and I remember that I love myself and I love being with me and I will just need to be patient with my husband, or walk away, but it is my choice. As I sit here at my desk with the windows open, I see our 75 year old neighbor tending to his gorgeous vegetable and flower garden. His wife, the love of his life, died suddenly of a heart attack in their home 12 years ago. They had no children. He was devastated. Me and another neighbor lady took him a basket of fresh fruit, herbal teas, bath soaks, wine, etc… shortly after his wife’s death. I was kind of surprised he even opened the door. They were very private people. We only saw them when they were out in their garden. Anyway, he stood in front of us and cried. I mean really cried for probably 30 minutes. He said he didn’t want to live anymore if he had to live without her. But there he is all these years later. He belongs to an opera group, and a shakespeare group. He has THE most amazing garden. He runs 4 miles every morning. He is a survivor. He thought he had lost everything in that one moment when his wife passed. He decided to live and I am so glad he did. He is an amazing man. Be kind to yourself, Bugs. Give yourself a chance. You really are doing a great job with the shit storm you have lived through. There’s a warrior inside you! Hugs and <3.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah.. I know being after a year Why am I here, Yes, I love myself but then what do I do with who I am, and see M and I have two sets of feelings about things.
    He sees himself as a faithful husband until he wasn’t and is able to restore what is lost.
    I see him as a ruthless lying coward who had problems and hid them and they manifested into being willing and able to have an affair with that kind of woman for so long and he has no clue what kind of person he is.
    I thought I knew, I believed him.. all lies..
    I so resonate with the feeling of the reel.. because what now?
    After knowing what I worked hard for is gone and I was working for a lie, a pretend marriage..
    It’s difficult for me to figure out what to do..

    I think I may just get away and leave.. but being as we might divorce.. I don’t think it’s wise to just up and leave the kids..

    Not sure what to do but keep on questioning myself and figuring me out. I know there is authenticity with me within the confines of my own skin..

    With him I will never know what lurks in there..
    And lately I don’t care..

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love that you talk it out, every day NH. I think it is incredibly important to try and stay in touch with our own deep feelings and do the best we can with what we have (and some days are SO difficult). Not necessarily stay with your husband, no, but be there for your kiddos. They need you, a strong momma. They don’t have the same choices you and your husband have. They need parents that love them and are there for them. They will have enough to deal with when they become adults. It is important, in my opinion, that we do our best to give them tools, to set an example no matter how tough it is. You don’t necessarily need to live together to be good parents. As I look back on my own childhood and my sister’s childhood, I know that having happy parents is really critical, but also just plain having parents that have the ability to save room for their children during their own turmoil. The balance is the tough part. I believe in you. I believe you can find that balance. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I identify with wanting my old life back, even though I know it’s not an option, that it wasn’t really what I thought it was. I miss feeling secure. I miss not having to second guess everything my husband says and does. And I’ve had enough of triggers!

    Kat, you’re very strong, you know that right? Intelligent and caring too. It comes through your writing so plainly.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks lovely lady. I like to think I am strong, but this thing does knock me on my ass regularly. Writing it helps. I am thinking that day the triggers are pretty much gone and we don’t question everything our husbands do, is right around the corner. Even knowing what they are doing doesn’t change what they are doing, I think it just makes us feel a little safer. Regardless of the differences in our situations, I see our healing path as similar, you are just quicker than me. It’s probably your youth 🙂 .

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Brilliant, Kat. Absolutely brilliant. Like we are walking in someone else’s shoes. I also reference Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime lyrics. (Same as it ever was…..) You may have just inspired a post!

    Liked by 2 people

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