Lost identity

Painted in Waterlogue

In the shower this morning I realized I am having an identity crisis. I have written so much here on my blog. I have spilled out who I am, what has happened to me both before and after I found out about my husband’s secret life, how I feel about addiction, how I feel about my family. I have written about my health, about places I have visited, and some of my favorite recipes, and even posted a few of my paintings. I always felt like I knew who I was. I felt like the decisions I had made throughout my life were my own, made by me, for me. I realize now, that’s not entirely true, and maybe it is not even mostly true.

As a child I did what I thought was expected of me. I went to school, every day, on time. In elementary school I received attendance awards, academic awards, good citizen awards, which all set the stage for later years. I like the feeling of being rewarded for doing the right thing. I always wanted to do the right thing. I received straight A’s nearly my entire school career, all the way through University. I graduated Dean’s List, with honors. I attended church like a good little girl. I treated people with kindness and respect and always tried to be a really honest and attentive friend, sibling, daughter, wife, and mother. I gave it my all. I chose business endeavors that I was skilled at and that brought in money. I was completely self sufficient by the age of 20.

I have chosen jobs I enjoyed as well as jobs that were practical. I volunteered in the community, extensively, and also in my children’s classrooms. I devoted 20 years of my life to daily childrearing. I was a loyal, happy, productive, loving wife for 30 years. I chose hobbies I enjoyed. I had fun. I laughed. I loved life. I was happy.

So having said all that, why on some days now do I feel empty? Before discovery, about 80% of any given day was spent doing what I wanted or needed to do, individually. Blue Eyes was a workaholic and a sexaholic and his day was scheduled accordingly. His addictions came first, because he needed them to manage the rest of his life. We all know that now. Post discovery, he accomplished a pretty drastic reversal. He was all of the sudden ever-present in my life. I forfeited most of my “me” time as Blue Eyes was there, with me, day in and day out. We were both seriously broken. He wanted me to help hold him up. The weight of his secret life had been lifted, but the enormity of the reality that was his new life remained. There was the uncertainty regarding whether I would leave, then the pain attached to what he had done to all of us, and finally the enormity of facing years of recovery ahead, with no addiction to help him cope. He also used my severe trauma responses to distract himself from his own reality. I needed him, and he was there. We relied on each other to help heal the wounds. We used hysterical bonding to connect physically. Even if mired in dysfunction, in some ways all this together time strenghthened the bond between us. Or maybe more accurately created a new and different bond between us and during the past two years, I have mostly felt, I think, like us being together, a lot, was important to the longevity of our relationship. If we were going to stay married, I needed him to be there for me when I was spiraling. Even knowing now that for a very long time he was incapable of doing and saying the right things, he was there.

I grew to realize pretty quickly post discovery that Blue Eyes wanted a life with me, he just never felt worthy of it. Also, he came to our relationship as an addict. Being an unrecovered addict and a partner are pretty mutually exclusive. I can’t believe he pulled it off for decades. I’m still not sure what this says about Blue Eyes. Over the years his addiction grew until it was too much for him to justify any of it anymore and he started making decisions that would permanently alter his life and expose his long kept secret. It all unraveled from there. I am not making excuses for him or trying to minimize the effects of what he has done with his life, to me, to our children, to many many others. But the truth remains, I have never stopped loving my husband. Actually, I adore him. I do not regret having spent the past two years remaining by his side. He has proven to me thus far that he wants to change. He wants to conquer his demons, and he is doing just that.

What is becoming more and more obvious, however, is that what I overtly think and feel, in my conscious, is not the whole picture. For the same reason I have suffered from high blood pressure for the past 10+ years (long before discovery), my body is now suffering from the impact of my new reality. Additional stress added to unmanaged stress. Despite my very best efforts at managing that stress, and eating healthy and exercising regularly, my blood tests showed that my blood glucose is completely unmanaged. My doctor and I went over everything I had been doing for the past three months and she came to the conclusion that stress and anxiety are literally killing me. My life is very different, now, and I am not managing it well. She once again brought up anti-depressants and for the first time in two years, I did not say no. I started to cry. She held my hands in hers. She said I was trying to be too strong and my body was telling me I needed help. And I am going to now take that help. The last thing I wanted to hear was that I needed to take more medication. I felt defeated and potentially even a little more depressed by the idea. But, I pulled up a chair next to hers and we sat together and she helped me fill out a little questionnaire gauging indicators of depression and anxiety. I am in the low category for both, in other words, my signs of depression and anxiety are not severe, but they are there. I have been suffering physical symptoms, like pinched nerves in my back and tightening of the chest, the heart murmur that appeared in the months post discovery has worsened. But most of all, there are many days when I have to force myself to do anything, even the things I love. This is just not me, it’s not right, and my health is suffering.

I went from my doctor appointment to the therapy appointment I had scheduled all those weeks ago. I had been in to see Ms. Honey when she had the cancellation just after Valentine’s Day, but this was my first regularly scheduled appointment. First order of business was to schedule a future appointment for Blue Eyes to “do” his Ninth Step. He is ready. The Shrink has suggested Blue Eyes present his amends step to me with Ms. Honey present. She liked the idea and we scheduled a date. It falls just after Blue Eyes’ deadline, but that is not his fault, so we’ll cut him some slack. The second order of business was to let Ms. Honey know I would be going on a low dose anti-depressant. We talked about that for a while. She asked me to call or text her with any questions regarding the drug I have been prescribed as well as any symptoms or side effects I am concerned about. Lastly, we talked about the other reason why I agreed to start taking anti-depressants, other than the underlying anxiety and its potential affect on my blood glucose, and that is this feeling that I have lost part of my identity in the healing process.

I need to get me back. I need to get me back 100% of the time, not just some of the time. I need to be healthy and happy and whole for me, not for anyone else. I thought I was doing so well. I mean, I think I am doing okay, but I want to do better because the subconscious part of me is screaming at me to do better. I want to be that 90 year old woman sitting in a rocker on the deck of my beach house wrapped in a shawl I knitted, drinking a cup of herbal tea, and I want to feel peace and happiness in the deepest parts of me.

the beach

36 thoughts on “Lost identity

  1. Oops! Chase, that totally nails things for me. So much so that i took the very rare step (these days) of reading your post to my lovely travelling companion. It opened a very rewarding dialogue. He gets all of it and agrees with me about your eloquence. Such a complex thing, this journey. I recall the period when I also realised I had lost me. Probably around the 2-3 year mark. He spoke of how he knew how much I loved and treasured him, too. And how he understands the way his choices have changed me and my worldview. There have been a lot of regrets expressed on this trip. Thanks again, Kat xxx.

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    • Dearest Paula, thank you for your beautiful words. We are all changed. On this healing journey, I honestly feel like a part of me was lost before discovery. The life I was leading, mother, wife, etc… I think a part of me was doing all that because it was the right thing to do. Because in my mind it was the right thing to do, I made it fit into my life plan. I fell in love before I even knew what was happening. I did not seek it, but I was happy with it. I wanted kids, but I didn’t want to be a single parent. I was pretty much a single parent for many years. I adapted my life for the needs of others, specifically to the needs of my husband. I made a mistake. I cannot make that mistake again. What I really want for my life must be my only plan for my future. I hope that the regrets expressed on your trip have helped you both to further heal. There is so much life ahead. Much love, xoxo.

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      • That makes a lot of sense. And I relate. Very similar story. In deep love WAAAAY too fast (and I knew it and fought it) fairly much a single parent in many ways. I knew that at times I was being a bit of a martyr. But I felt those child rearing years would eventually end and we would still have that burning love. I think we probably would have. If he had stayed true to me. But no crystal balls, what’s done is done.

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  2. WordPress has gone haywire on me while away. Getting random notifications and missing most. Very out of order and this one just popped up last night. Just wanted to send a hug for your insight and towards recovery (esp the physical symptoms flaring up at present.) You have a way of cutting to the ch

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    • Well your vision conjures up quite the picture too! 🙂 I actually learned to knit and crochet when I was a young girl. I figure someday I’ll pick them back up again… or, I could just wrap myself in the afghan I crocheted when I was 14, I still have it! Whatever the future holds, I want to be there. xx

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      • Haha your one is a far more pleasant vision though. I might work towards one that is far more nicer and welcoming like yours. Definitely need to include some tea and lemon squares / cakes or something along those lines.

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      • I’m sitting here with my knitting watching basketball while he’s in the other room. Thank you for your blog, I found you when I was almost a year in, Easter this year made 2 yrs from discovery for me. Like you, I’m in a long term- 31 yr, marriage. We have 2 grownkids, a business we started and grew up, which required lots of travel, and provided so many opportunities for an addiction which became out of control over the last 10 yrs. I still feel like I’m moving thru someone else’s life, some days the memories and sadness paint everything else. I’m glad to hear you’re moving out of the insanity of trauma, I’m hopeful that I feel less of that soon too.
        I just wanted to reach out after so long. Knit & crochet again, my therapist says the person who developed emdr compares the benefits of knitting with emdr- who knew? Thanks for your open ended sisterhood, Kat. It made a big difference for me.
        jude

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        • Knit away, Jude, knit away. I wish for all of us a sense of peace, however we can achieve it. I find that tactile activities help a lot. I have been sketching lately.

          Just last night as I lay awake staring at the ceiling, thinking about how easy it was before, to drift off to sleep without the burden of it all, knowing whether or not he was by my side, that he would never hurt me… Now I feel a heaviness in my heart even if I am not thinking about anything in particular. Things are so much better than they were the first 18-20 months, I go through whole days now with no trauma and no invasive thoughts at all, but my world is forever changed. I am glad my husband is getting the help he needed all along, but the cost was high.

          Thank you so much for the kind words. They mean a lot to me. xx ♥️

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  3. “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” John Lennon

    We foolishly think we are going to have to deal with the things that we have planned for but in reality we have to deal with whatever life throws our way. The shock can knock us completely off balance and the stress can overwhelm us. But we can find a balance I think between resistance and acceptance and rest in the peace that we are as Donald Winnicot suggests ‘good enough’.

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  4. So, so proud of you. I know your doctor only has your best interest at heart. I understand what a difficult decision this was for you. Remember, it’s situational and you won’t need to do this forever, and even if you do, so what. It’s the tortoise and the hare. Slowly but surely wins every time. Give yourself the ALL the time you need to heal without judging yourself. Loving you alway. Me xoxo

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    • Thank you my friend. I know you understand me maybe better than I do myself and yes, I know she also has my best interests at heart. ♥️ I am blessed to have so many people who care. Little by little I am breaking down my armor and hopefully I will find peace, and health, in the process. xoxo

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  5. Hi Kat. You are suffering from what stress does to you over a long period of time. For two years you have never not been under stress. What it does is it puts you in a fight or flight response all the time. That means that your body is constantly releasing 3 toxic hormones. Your body thinks it is being attacked and it is getting you ready to run. The problem is those hormones, one of which is adrenaline, are so powerful that they are toxic after a while. Also, even though they flood your system immediately, it takes hours for them to come out of your system. If you are constantly on guard, and constantly looking over your sholder you are never relaxed and your body is being bombarded with those three hormones.
    I am not going to compare my life to yours because I do not have a cheating husband but I had a job that was so stressful I wound up onto an anti-anxiety medication which I still have to carry around with me even though I changed jobs. What stress does after some time is to change everything about our bodies. I never go anywhere without my medication and I recognize immediately if my body gets under any stress the first place I have to go is to the bathroom. You have written about the different illnesses your husband suffers from and that is because of the stress in his life which he has carried for years. I would suggest, if the two of you can do it, meditation. You need a quiet peaceful 20 minutes just to let your bodies relax.
    I tried the whole 30 diet, the keto diet, Adkins etc. I found out very quickly that my body needs carbohydrates. I have stopped looking at myself as a loser because I cannot be the skinny person I was at 20. I am healthy enough to just leave those diets alone.
    I am so glad you are going on medication. There is no shame in trying to stay healthy while you are dealing with such a life altering situation. This is for you and your health, your mind and your body. If it can give you one day without stress, without anxiety, and depression then you are in a better place. I wish you the very best of luck.

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    • Thank you Let Go. I actually read your comment twice. I guess I do need reassurance that it’s okay. That what I am feeling and the internal battle is normal even two years later. Or maybe indeed time is compounding the situation somewhat as everything builds inside me. I hope the medication helps. I have other goals too, but I am trying to not be too neurotic with it all. I do appreciate your words a great deal. xx

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  6. Kat, I’m so glad you’re getting this help. It’s quite a shock to find that our bodies are suffering under the strain as well as our hearts and minds. It’s frightening too. I went to a naturopath who treated me for adrenal fatigue. I know this is a controversial subject. I was on the treatment for over a year and I feel it really kept me going. I was already on antidepressants and anti anxiety meds and had been for years. My anxiety was out of control and my heart rate was between 99 and 110 beats a minute. He explained to me that with the levels of adrenalin and cortizol being elevated the body goes into insulin resistance.

    Quotes from http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml

    – ‘Cortisol narrows the arteries while the epinephrine increases heart rate, both of which force blood to pump harder and faster.’

    – ‘Whole-Body Effects of Elevated Cortisol
    Blood Sugar Imbalance and Diabetes
    Under stressful conditions, cortisol provides the body with glucose by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver. This energy can help an individual fight or flee a stressor. However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels.
    Theoretically, this mechanism can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, although a causative factor is unknown.1 Since a principal function of cortisol is to thwart the effect of insulin—essentially rendering the cells insulin resistant—the body remains in a general insulin-resistant state when cortisol levels are chronically elevated. Over time, the pancreas struggles to keep up with the high demand for insulin, glucose levels in the blood remain high, the cells cannot get the sugar they need, and the cycle continues.’

    One of the main ingredients in my medication from him was licorice root – http://www.natural-health-and-healing-4u.com/benefits-of-licorice-root.html

    I also started, what is called here in South Africa, the banting diet which works to control blood sugar and bring down inflammation and found it to be incredible. I lost 8kgs before I fell off the ‘banting wagon’ over Christmas. I’m getting back onto it soon! Promise! Your 30 day diet sounds quite close to banting…

    Hope this helps. Sending love and prayers your way Kat. XxX

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    • Wow, thanks Jangled. That is a lot of great information. My doc has forbidden me to go on any more what she calls “fad diets” for a while. But of course healthy eating plans are encouraged. She thinks anything that cuts out whole food groups (we found out I am slightly gluten intolerant and have no issues with dairy or legumes) is going to be an issue for me because I love them all. By the end of the Whole30, I was eating so little because my appetite had dwindled and I think psychologically I was just waiting for it to be over so I could add back in a whole grain slice of toast and a bit of cheese. I am so weird with food, in that I love it all and love variety. I am back on the diet recommended by the diabetic nutritionist, which is based on good solid fundamentals and moderation. Mostly vegetables, especially leafy greens, with a balance of whole grains and lean proteins. She really wants me to stop obsessing over it and she hopes some of the extra weight will come off. I have THE worst body type in that a lot of the fat centers around my mid section so the organs automatically have to work harder. She agrees with your assessment above in that the stress is creating a lot of the sugar imbalance throughout the day. Thank you so much for the love and prayers… we all could use a little more love and a lot less stress! ❤

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  7. You still are and still can be exactly what you want. Most of us had to go on anti depressants too. For me, it was only one week after leaving the martial home. I was having heart palpitations in my sleep. I was obscenely healthy. Gym 5 days a week, mostly good eating habits, never sick in my life. I was more upset about having to go on medication than being cheated on. It felt like I had been broken. If this is going to ease your symptoms, it’s a good thing. You don’t have to be on it forever. You just need to feel well. I know we have days that are good and days that are not so good. Maybe now u will have more good days. That’s not such a bad thing is it? You haven’t lost yourself at all, you are just getting a little help. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. ❤️

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  8. Hi Kat,

    I loved this post and hope you are able to find 100% of you again soon. You are very strong. I have been working on my 4th step and one of my own fears is sickness being brought to my body due to all of this stress from my husband’s sex addiction. I wasn’t sleeping in the early with week’s after d-day. My therapist recommended some sleeping pills. I resisted taking them for a while and now I take one every so often because I just can’t function day after day without a good night’s sleep. My therapist has assured me I won’t get addicted and once I accepted I have that as a tool to use, I felt much better. It’s amazing how clearer I function when I do sleep! Please let us know how the medication is working. Xoxo

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    • Thanks so much. Yeah, whatever it takes, right? Our lives are stressful. For the most part I have mastered the sleep situation, but it did take months. Hopefully I can do the same with this. I have a number of goals here for myself in the next few months, but I also need to let myself off the hook a little. I think the doc is right when she says I am so hard on myself, I cause a lot of the stress with my expectations. Always a work in progress. xoxo

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  9. It’s so hard Kat. I think it’s impossible for us not to be changed after the betrayal and the deceit–i think more so the deceit because it skews our own sense of what was reality. I hope for wholeness for all of us!

    It’s hard but I think you’re so intentional and purposeful in being true to yourself and his affair not being what defines YOU, that you can do it!

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    • Thank you, Kaye. I absolutely cannot let what he did or what he is define me. I guess I just didn’t realize how much it was all affecting me. I always think I can do anything if I put my mind to it, but my body is telling me otherwise. We will forever be changed, but I do believe, even changed, things can be good again. I mean things are not bad here for me, at all… except for my A1C, that is bad. And yes, we all need to be whole. Sending love your way. ❤

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