For me, self care means taking a moment to stop and appreciate the beauty around me. This past weekend we did a little wine tasting with friends and this gorgeous flower arrangement was on the tasting counter.
My goal here is to journal my life… on the blog of me. I try not to do “this” too much on my blog. “This” being posting informational bits that I feel are interesting and/or informative regarding topics that have become an obsession with me: betrayal and sex addiction. I do not purport to be an expert on anything, not even myself. Clearly, I was blindsided by my husband’s disclosures regarding his secret sex life… and I felt all at once like an idiot, a failure, and a loser, like my life was worthless and my memories were all lies and my story was a farce. After the initial disclosures, I was numb. I couldn’t eat or sleep or perform normal daily activities (except apparently, sexually, which is a whole different story). At times I didn’t want to live, I cried all day, and felt like I wasn’t good enough. I harmed myself. For me and anyone who knew me, the me that was, was no more. The me that remained after January 11, 2014 was a shadow of her former self. The shattering of my life on discovery day perpetrated a complete obliteration of who I had been.
This post is prompted by so many things going on in my life now, and things that have transpired over the past 17 months. I had to actually count the months out this time, guys. I didn’t have the number of months, days, hours right there in the forefront of my mind. This is progress. We had couple’s therapy yesterday and the name Dr. Omar Minwalla came up. Early this morning I checked my WP and there was a reply to a comment I made on another blog that referred me to a podcast by the same Omar Minwalla (thank you marriagerecoveryblog, valkyriemad123, and Iris). I had not heard the podcast.
I have linked the podcast here although I am not going to tell you it will be the most interesting 38 minutes of your life, if you decide to listen to it. It might not be interesting to the masses as I believe this site (The West Coast Trauma Project) is set up to help clinicians, to provide resources for trauma therapists, not necessarily to be presented in a way that helps victims, but don’t quote me on that. The podcast reinforced what I do already know. I link the podcast for anyone that is truly interested in hearing what Dr. Minwalla has to say regarding his Sex Addiction Induced Trauma Model. Again, Dr. Minwalla works specifically in the field of sexology and sex addiction, but I believe his model transcends sex addiction and relates to any spouse who has been traumatized by lies and betrayal and ego fragmentation within their partnership. Dr. Minwalla talks a lot (in general, not just in his podcast) about ego fragmentation. I have heard him say it, actually in person, to me. Both my husband and I were treated last summer by Dr. Omar Minwalla and his staff at the Institute for Sexual Health. I have written a little about our experiences. Bottom line, we wouldn’t be where we are today in our healing if not for Omar and his staff. I know Blue Eyes agrees with me.
To me, ego fragmentation really does describe what happened after dday. My sense of self esteem and self importance were shattered. In reality, in my mind, my whole world was obliterated. In a psychological sense, ego being defined as “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity” and fragmentation, “the process or state of breaking or being broken in separate parts,” (Google) I was so traumatized, I didn’t even recognize myself. More importantly, Omar’s model addresses the trauma that goes along with this level of broken self. “Sex addiction-induced trauma is a highly specific type of trauma that involves nuanced symptoms that can sometimes include fear and panic of potential sexual disease and contamination, social repercussions, fear of child safety, terror and panic about the potential of child molestation, severe gender wounding, social isolation, social misrepresentation, financial loss and domestic embezzlement, collusion in violation, embarrassment, complex humiliation and profound shame” (Minwalla, O., 2012). The truth is, nothing that has gone on in a marriage is justification for betrayal or abuse and our pain and trauma is real and valid. The diagnosis for the kind of trauma Dr. Minwalla’s example speaks of above does not need to include all the symptoms or even most of the symptoms even part of the time, although I do associate with most of them, actually all except financial loss and panic about the potential of child molestation.
Having someone in the clinical community fighting for the betrayed partner, is ground breaking. Specifically in relation to sex addiction, there are lots of resources for the addict. These resources do not exist for the traumatized partner and yet the level of abuse that has been perpetrated on us is monstrous and when we find out our partner has destroyed the foundation of everything we believe to be true, and they are in fact a different person than we thought entirely, is devastating. Omar discusses the old Patrick Carnes’ al-anon model relative to the spouse of an addict and how partners were all thought to be co-dependent or co-conspirators in the addiction and should enter their own 12 step program. Whether or not it holds true for partners of alcoholics, this model generally does not hold true with sex addicts as they pathologically hide their behavior. How could a spouse be partially responsible for the actions of our partner when we have absolutely no idea what they are doing behind our backs. They are generally accomplished liars who have built their world around secret sex acts (whatever pathology they possess, or story they have to tell) as it seems are other betrayers, whether they associate themselves with being addicts, or not. After the 26 minute mark in the podcast, the interviewer says “pardon my naiveté, but how is the partner considered a co-conspirator or co-sex addict when for the most part they were unaware?” And there in lies the issue with trying to find help when you have been cheated on for a period of time without your knowledge. If we are somehow held partially responsible for something we know deep in our hearts we did not know about nor encourage or knowingly contribute to, how devastating is it for therapists and clinicians and the media and society as a whole to hold us accountable? Through trial and error in his career, Omar has determined that spouses of sex addicts and other betrayers with a long term history of pathological lying and infidelity often times suffer from complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) and therefore he treats us accordingly and he has devoted his professional life to advocating for his sex addiction-induced trauma model to treat those impacted and victimized by sexual acting out disorders. Omar’s words are generally very clinical, but they do translate to a validation for me of the fact that what my husband did and the subsequent disclosure period and learning to live in my new life included a complete obliteration of self. I am learning to put the pieces back together and thrive, but it has taken a great deal of time.
I guess the bottom line for me is that I think everyone would agree that in exceptionally difficult times we need to focus on self care. Well, we always need to focus on self care, but especially under traumatic circumstances. Unfortunately, what many fail to recognize is that we can be traumatized to a point where we need to be treated with respect and dignity and proper counseling (most of which we will not get from friends, family, or our betrayer) in order to even know we are suffering from something much more serious than a simple case of the betrayal-induced “blues.” I recently read a re-blogged post about things we should stop doing to ourselves if we want to be happy. It was just a general post out there in the blogosphere. As far as I know the post was in no way connected to a betrayed spouse or any such behavior specifically, although I do think the blogger’s sentiments echo those of much of what is tossed around by people judging, from their perception, less happy people. For some of us, even insinuating we have absolute control over everything we feel is ludicrous to me, and… traumatizing. In my experience, and it doesn’t seem I am alone in this, sometimes it is not possible to just tell yourself to do something, or to be a certain way or feel a certain way when you have suffered a trauma event and everything you thought your life to be is blown to pieces. I do believe we as traumatized individuals need to work on digging ourselves out of a hole we didn’t want to be tossed into, but it is our right to do that on our own time and in whatever way we can and not be judged for our efforts and I hope everyone who needs it or wants it gets validation that what they are feeling is okay. You are not a bad person or a failure if you can’t just bounce out of it and it is not your fault. Take care of yourself and know that there are people that get every single emotion you are going through because we have been there.
23 thoughts on “Obliteration of self”
Thank you for this Kat. Want to hear an interesting synchronicity? I recently found your blog and I started reading it. I started my own blog, and this is a whole new world for me — I have A LOT to learn about blogging and blogging as a genre.
Anyhow – the synchronicity. Our psychologist follows Dr. Minwalla’s trauma protocol. I started reading your blog a few weeks ago. We travelled to see her as she is in another city. She followed up with an email to me. Her email was a link to this very post! How synchronistic is that?!?
I have been struggling immensely, as my husband tried to end his life after he divulged his secrets. He said he had been having ideations for a few months prior, but I didn’t know. It’s a long path to wellness. You inspire me, b/c I know healing is possible. There are days when I feel so lost, so stuck, and so fragmented. We are 16 months post-discovery. When I reflect back, I realize i have come a long, long way.
I am *trying* to do some self-care, but I know I need to be better with this aspect of my healing. Baby steps. Our psychologist told me “incremental is monumental” — I need to tell myself this every morning.
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I like that… “incremental is monumental.” I feel for you, beleeme. Trying to heal from your own trauma while being worried about your husband’s suicidal thoughts must be torture. You need your own time and space, but to have to keep worrying about him–I can only imagine how difficult. But, remember to take care of yourself first, kind of like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, then your child, because if you are not healthy, you are not much good to others AND you deserve your own time to heal. I hope you both have your own healing and recovery paths. Sometimes spelling it all out and being able to go back to that is grounding.
Wow, I never imagined there was a therapist out there referring someone to my blog. I hear a lot from readers that my blog is helpful and makes them feel less alone and potentially inspired that there is some kind of hope. We are all different, but I do believe we make choices along the way, when we are truly able to, remember, 16 months is still so very painful. When we remember that we are able to now make conscious choices with the truth in front of us, it is empowering. Betrayal is hurtful, however, we still have our own inner strength to draw from. My husband doesn’t love me any less just because he wasn’t able to control a disease he didn’t know he had. It does blow my mind (because my mind is not broken in the way his is) that he was able to consciously make such destructive choices, but I want MY choices to be self loving and nurturing and kind and all that because that’s who I am. Some days it is a real trial.
Hang in there. You will be fine. I will check out your blog soon. xo
I LOVE this, I agree! Thank you for your thoughts! The codependency model is dangerous. I’m so thankful for Minwalla!!
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I find it difficult to consider something awful happening to me or someone else as a ‘gift’ for personal growth. That doesn’t mean I can’t understand that view or respect it. I believe that we can choose to treat the trauma as a gift but this choice can waiver. On good days I’m more positive on bad days I’m more negative and like you say we all have our own journey to recovery, our own stages, and our own timeline.
However, that said, I also believe that adultery is a huge nasty landscape (bit like war) which we find ourselves dropped into. It’s not just us as individuals healing or couples recovering, it’s the growth of pornography, the web sites like Ashley Madison, so called friends colluding, affairs depicted as romantic in the media, the stigma that has developed around staying with your unfaithful husband rather than divorcing him, the shame that makes me remain anonymous when I have done nothing dishonourable. I can’t feel positive about any of these things. Whilst the pain and trauma of adultery is kept private and personal the bigger issues which feed into our sense of worthlessness etc are kept under wraps and the whole thing gets continually played out again and again. It’s wretched.
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Thanks. I agree, it’s wretched!
That’s an eye-opener Kat. I know my first comment to your blog probably triggered the same kind of feeling of being judged, for you. It was well meant (and not so thought-through) advice, but I have to admit that it was very easy for me to think of how you should handle your pain without actually having felt your feelings or having seen through your eyes. That was a form of judging. I see how I applied my ‘responsible for your own happiness’ philosophy in a very thoughtless way to your feelings, which I really know nothing about from experience. I think a lot of people make that mistake (also in a lot of other circumstances) and it does more harm then good. The road to hell, eh…
I’m sorry for that. You are absolutely right: your feelings and your trauma deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion. I agree that it is a fact that you are in no way responsible for the pain Blue Eyes’ addiction has caused you. I really do believe in the principle of taking responsibility for our own happiness, but I see better now how it is not always that simply applied. If anything, you probably need most for people to acknowledge your truth, or just respect your pain in that way. Unfortunately not everyone will, because they really probably don’t know any better and they say stuff way too easily (just like me in this case).
I think this post gives people who suffered from your trauma a really powerful way to speak their truth to friends or family who don’t understand and disregard their feelings.
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Thanks, Eve. I try to steer away from these kinds of posts, but things get bottled up and I need to let them out. Again, I have been around my borderline personality disordered sister since she was born. I have watched her struggle not knowing what was really going on inside her. I do believe she was born with the propensity for her disorder, her brain was wired that way, if you will (just like I believe there are many genetic markers for addiction and my sister is also an addict), but there have been many trauma events in her life that propelled her further and deeper into her illness (early divorce and separation anxiety, numerous sexual molestations and rape, domestic violence with boyfriends). Before she was diagnosed and treated, she was bulimic and a cutter. Later, after she was diagnosed and started receiving treatment, I was educated on her illnesses and her PTSD. I always knew she could not just “be happy.” The thing is, however, I never really understood what caused her behaviors, or how she felt inside, and I was always an incredibly happy person and I wished she could be happy too. If ever I was granted wishes, the first would have always been that my sister did not have her illness. Then, on dday I was thrust into a severe trauma event and began suffering the same kinds of C-PTSD symptoms and behaviors as my sister but they were coming at me very fast and furious and not over many many years and I had very little control. I honestly would look in the mirror and wonder what part of my brain was controlling my behavior and my thoughts. I literally felt split in two and part of me was the part I always knew and part was something that came out of the deep recesses to protect me. The part I knew was the part that was doing the self harm and didn’t want to live, she was incredibly vulnerable. I learned I was never as strong as the people around me thought. My conscious strength was built on a very faulty foundation, and that was that my life partner would never knowingly hurt me. I was devastated. I am building my way back, but on a stronger foundation this time. Of course my life and my strength and my happiness and wellness is all on me, but the trauma caused by my husband has certainly thrown a wrench in things. Healing is a process that takes time and care. I really do try to put the words of others into perspective, but as I have written, I am not always great at it. I believe people are not mean inside and they are just doing the best they can. This is why I find it difficult right now (never before) to regularly read the blogs of people who cheat and lie, it’s not that I think they are innately bad people, not at all. It is that I get sucked into the sadness that would allow people to hurt other people because of their own inner struggles. I have always cared deeply about people and the human spirit… all people, not just ones I perceive to be like me. I think, overall throughout the entire blog, people can get a feel for who I really am. I am not really the person who calls my husband’s last affair partner names. I am not even a sad person or a fearful person. Trauma is a bitch I never wanted to meet. I really appreciate your comment. It means a lot. Thanks for following along.
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You can put into words things I am thinking about and are unable to write so your post resonates so well with me and no doubt with many of us here.
I was having a conversation with H on the weekend how at times I feel it is so unfair. He is healing and having better feelings about himself after having played around for so long and yet here I am still feeling like a sledgehammer has hit me and with a long path of recovery.
I can turn that around.
I have to because otherwise I feel like I might get stuck. I have to focus on the fact that H is now better able to articulate his feelings and emotions. He can speak in quite some depth. I on the other hand feel more at peace because I can understand why he did what he did and I am starting to believe him when he says he does not want to go back to being a lying cheating arsehole of a fuckwit bastard. ( let’s see how this goes…..says the cynical moi)
What he did to me and the other women was loathsome. He sees that now that he is no longer clouded in entitlement and selfishness. He is now so much kinder and caring with empathy for everyone around him. At first I thought it was a ruse. But now…..many months down the track I can see that he views life from a very different perspective. One that is from a very good place.
Shouldn’t you have Moroccan tea in Morocco? Xxx(((hugs)))
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I would LOVE to have Moroccan tea in Morocco, or just plain ole London for that matter. I just told Blue Eyes when we were on a walk with our dogs about two hours ago that I was going to take a year off to just travel… forget eat, pray, love. For me it will be eat, travel, eat, travel, visit blogger friends, travel to exotic places to meet blogger friends and other friends, eat, travel with maybe a little meditation and yoga and hiking thrown in, some beaches and drinks with umbrellas too, eat, travel, eat. For now I am sitting tight as we think the beach house will break ground in less than a month.
Regarding the topic of the above post, you are absolutely correct. Thank goodness they are finding their way back to being honorable men who are aware of why they do the things they do and maybe now they will do good and kind things instead of selfish and hurtful things. But as far as our healing goes, we have permission to take it at our own pace. We cannot just forgive and forget as if nothing happened. The circumstances of the situation won’t allow us to do that. My subconscious is not allowing me to do that. I have to heal in my own time, day by day, stronger and stronger. As TigerLily says, its not linear or finite and I say, that’s okay. That doesn’t mean we won’t be able to heal, or we can’t heal… we absolutely can and we are and I think we are doing a damn good job of it–and in the meantime, our men still have us and a home and the love of their kids, that is a whole lot more than they probably thought they would have once the truth was out. I am happy to say we are stronger than we look, but we do need time and we do need to be treated gently and with care and no one can tell us how or what we should be feeling on any particular day. Give us that!!! I feel good. My days are going well for the most part, but as soon as I tell myself I should be healed, I remind myself that someone threw me under the bus and I am lucky to be alive and if I need a day to cry it out, I get to have that. Those days are few and farther between, but I still hear songs (like on the way home from the grocery store today) like Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and think, what happened to that perfect love? What happened to my happily ever after? Why did he have to fuck it up? I can still see my happily ever after, but it is less pure now. The picture’s not as clear or clean anymore. I have a lot more scars now (figuratively and literally), but I can still do it. But, what I realize now is that it is up to me, not him. My happily ever after is about me and all at once that feels sad, but okay. We can do this! ❤
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Of course we can and we damn well will. It is like a challenge. We are not the type of women to crumble….we take it on and in our terms. We have the strength and the intelligence to turn this pile of crap into something good. Sure we are going to have bad days and scars and flashbacks and triggers but I think they too will become less painful as time goes on. I just got my hard drive back from the cleaners ( renovation dust) and first thing I opened was a file called ‘adultery’. Filled with photos and emails and all the evidence I had gathered. Guess what? I was able to look at all the crap and not get angry. I looked at the stupid women and thought how sadly pathetic they are then I thought of H and thought what a dumbarse he was and I was able to ……let it go…….
I so love food that I want to do the northern Spanish camino walk next year for the sole purpose of eating and hopefully not putting on weight. Is that bad? I was going to do this walk in 2014 but a tad of infidelity blew up in my face and I stopped eating.
Eat, travel,eat, travel, wine, eat, travel, wine…….
So exciting about the beach house. Such a shame the spot you have chosen isn’t that scenic…..bhahahahahah. Have you made the plans? Is there a guest room?????? That spot looks amazing and just think how calming and peaceful it would be to sit there and gaze. Awesome.
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There are three full guest rooms, two with their own full bathrooms and one is a loft over the garage. We just spent the past year with the architect getting the plans drawn and approved and permitted. We are in last stages now before ground breaking. I am so excited. You will have to come visit once it is finished! I will be sure to have plenty of wine! We have a big wine country here about an hour from our house. It will be so wonderful and peaceful and our dogs go nuts for the beach. Not sure how we will keep the little Aussie corralled. I will have to look up this Spanish camino walk you speak of (weirdly enough I guess Australian Shepherds are originally from Basque Spain, so they are actually Spanish Shepherds…). I usually do not put on weight while traveling as I do get in the exercise. I have never traveled extensively on my own, but I think a trip is in my not too distant future. I’m pretty sure it will be very good for me! I am actually totally serious about visiting Australia and New Zealand. I also have NYC, London and a few other places on my list. I guess I will add Morocco and Spain, ha! I have been to Spain before. Wait until Blue Eyes reads this, I’m sure I will hear about it right away. He reads the posts, and comments too. 🙂
There are a few walks in Spain that are called the camino. The one I am going to do follows the North Coast and yes…the basque. It is all about the food. The sardinas, the tapas, the manchego, croquette. It takes about 6 weeks walking 25 km a day. I am going to do it in instalments and not stay in alberges but in local hotels. I can’t think of a better way to see the country side. A million years ago we walked Andorra a girlfriend and I Then hit Spain. I appreciate Spanish food so much more now.
The beach house sounds really beautiful and what an exciting project to be involved in. Australian shepherds if they are similar to border collies are a bugger to train. I thought I had ours all worked out but she was way too smart so I ended up having to get a specialist border collie trainer to help me get past her thinking. Cats are way easier. I was trying to get a pic of Angus s Brazilian but he is shy.
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Wow, the food and walk in Spain sound wonderful. Are you going to go with a friend, or by yourself? Do you speak Spanish? I can’t think of a better way to see the country side either. Let me know if you want a companion! Yeah, our mini is barking his head off right now. I think we have given up on training him. Thank goodness he only weighs about 40 pounds so he is easy to wrangle. He is also a pleaser, so you really can get him to do anything with sweet talk and a treat. He is the cutest thing. I finally was able to get out all of Stinky’s mats and BE has been brushing her. Cats are easier as I have absolutely no expectations of them. They do what they want around here.
Originally when I read about the walk I was going on my own. H was not at all interested. We then watched rick stein the cook do a series on Spanish cooking and then H started to cook ( whilst unemployed for 18 months)
He then became interested in the food of the North as well as the idea of walking. Sadly it was a Spanish feast night we had at our house when he and slut from next door started their affair. They met in the hall and had passionate embraces. He is a slut too. Lol.
Gee….I am doing well here.
So once I started getting serious about the walk nearly everyone I talked to wanted to come but then it petered out cos my life fell in a shit heap. I still want to do the walk and it won’t be this year because I can’t fit it in. Next year is the year. Looking at walking two to three weeks. San Sebastián to wherever. You are more than welcome. I can think of anything more fun as in the eating and wine as well as the North Coast scenery.
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Very important post! I’m so glad to know you are feeling good xo
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It confuses me too how people can think we had any idea or notion of what our husband did. My husband was a hero to our family and our extended family. He was amazingly good at living two lives. Not until he was compulsive bringing his fantasy Inside the home (texting and communicating all day and all the others never like that) for me to catch him did I find out. If he hadn’t gotten obsessed with one hosebags then I still would not know. I am absolutely traumatized. I wish, more than anything, people understood that.
What is the intensive program you when through?
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Yes, and my husband didn’t get sloppy (quite the opposite, strangely, I think them getting sloppy is more common–they escalate usually and get careless), he finally dumped his last acting out partner and the phone call and subsequent stalking while she tried to split us up was no party either. It all sucks and I knew nothing and no one will ever convince me of any culpability for the things my husband did. I do feel a responsibility for my 50% of the relationship with him now, but again, as I tell him all the time… I am a reflection of him and his recovery. We spouses are traumatized and being judged and still having to live this life, while they are in recovery, is horrible. I ended up getting therapy through one of the Institute’s specialists. I was supposed to be part of a 6-day intensive for wives of sex addicts, but Omar has pretty much disbanded that program and it makes me sad. I am grateful, however, for the hours and hours of LA therapy that was focused solely on me and the sex addiction induced trauma model. Omar and his institute have taken a slightly different path since last year and my therapist is no longer affiliated, but she is absolutely fantastic and it is his model she uses. Unfortunately, she is in LA and we do not live in LA 😦 . I flew there numerous times and I think I spent about 20-25 solid individual hours of therapy with her. She helped me with my boundary list and my own personal plan. She really was amazing. If you go to the website, Omar still lists the 6-day for wives, but says it is “on hold.” It might be worth a call to him at the institute and explain your situation and ask him for options. That is what I initially did last year. Or I could email you the name of that LA therapist and she might be able to give you some references, unless you live in LA, of course, in which case, she’s there. Let me know if you want her name.
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When you describe how you felt about your life and yourself after you found out your husbands secrets, I feel like you were actually describing me. I don’t know if my ex was a sex addict or just a plain A Hole, but the feelings were the same. I loveTo hear that u are doing nice things for yourself like the wine tastings. These are all baby steps back to finding the real you ❤️
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There’s a saying in SA 12-step that it’s a program for addicts or assholes, so anyone spouse who does what ours did can qualify!
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Yeah, like ThePlayed says, addicts or assholes, they’ll all benefit from taking a deep long look inside themselves for the answers to why they do the depraved things they do. And if they don’t or won’t, fuck ’em. Actually the universality of the feelings (not just for wives of sex addicts) is why I included this post. We need to be really kind to ourselves because this shit is real!
We had a great time with our friends at a gorgeous resort that we are lucky to have in our area, amazing spa and restaurant, beautiful weather. It was nice. The friends would be Smiley and wife, so they know everything and wife follows the blog, it makes things easier on me… maybe not so much for BE.
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We do need to be kind to us, because there comes a point when u discover that the love and kindness of your loved one is not exactly how you imagined.
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Yes, and they are not the person we imagined they were either. I’m still dreaming of that Moroccan afternoon tea in London….
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Let’s do it girl!!!😜
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