There’s a piece of me that belongs to Los Angeles. I’m a west coast girl and have been visiting LA since long before I met my husband, and I met him at 20! Blue Eyes is from The San Fernando Valley, just northwest of Los Angeles proper. He’s a “Valley Kid,” having grown up there from 1965 to 1982, home during University breaks until 1986. He swam in the surf at Malibu on the weekends and played tennis, in January!
People who have not lived in or even visited Los Angeles may have their own idea of what it’s like, based on television and movies. It’s kind of a surreal place, actually. First of all, it’s a huge, sprawling city with lots of freeways and lots of traffic. But it also holds a lot of the charm represented in TV shows and movies, especially in places like Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and Orange County (where A LOT of TV shows have been filmed).
“The sun shines most the time, and the feeling is lay back, palm trees grow and rents are low…” that’s Neil Diamond’s LA. Not sure where the rents are low anymore, but Neil was comparing LA to NYC, back in the 1970’s. That makes sense.
These days LA’s a bit frenetic (still but much less so than NYC however), and expensive, and full of every ethnic group imaginable. There’s great food, especially coming from those industrious immigrant groups, and entertaining people-watching everywhere, but especially at places like Venice Beach where people are there to be watched. LA has great art, great theater, great beaches, great sports, great colleges, and great weather.
There’s probably no other place, other than Japan, well, and my actual hometown, where I feel more at home than in Los Angeles. At one point in time I would have jumped at the chance to live in the valley outside of Los Angeles, but since my in-laws live close by, it wasn’t going to happen. I do love driving out to the valley with Blue Eyes though and getting a sandwich at his favorite deli, grabbing some pastries at the bakery next door to bring back to the boy, and then driving out to Zuma Beach and soaking up the warmth that is LA sunshine. As I’ve aged, I appreciate the warmth of that sunshine even more.
I can fully admit that when I found out that one of the pioneers of the Sex-Addiction-Induced Trauma Model for partners of sex addicts was in Los Angeles (https://theinstituteforsexualhealth.com), and he was going to set me up with a trauma therapist for intensive partner therapy, it gave me a level of comfort knowing I would be in this town I know and love. I cannot think about LA without thinking palm trees, blue skies, and warmth. I spent about 25 hours in trauma therapy in 2014. I don’t have the words to express how life affirming that therapy was for me. I have written numerous times on this blog how there is a place inside me that feels safer just knowing this therapist is there, in Los Angeles, if I need her. For 5 1/2 years I didn’t feel like I needed the help.
Last month, however, I decided I did, need her, and she made space for me. I am so grateful. From the moment I saw her, I could feel my body relaxing. The smile on her face and the warm hug she gave me after 5 1/2 years, was simply magical. Leading up to the therapy I was somewhat apprehensive. I knew I was struggling, but did I really NEED trauma therapy. Would my pain make any sense to her at this point? Could I focus on me, and not on Blue Eyes? I shouldn’t have worried. This woman knows her stuff.
I shouldn’t have worried, but I should have done a contest. My kids and I have this contest around my mom… how many minutes before she brings up her favorite store, Costco! I almost always win because the boys underestimate how quickly she will bring it up. Plus, I cheat. I often ask, hey mom, where’d you get those amazing steaks, or truffles, or crackers, or whatever. In the case of the therapist, the contest would have been something like, how many minutes will it take until Kat starts bawling in her therapy session. Whoever chose the 16 minute mark would have won. I estimate it took me little more than 15 minutes to say something that sent me into tears. That’s okay. Tears are cleansing for me. I don’t burst into tears in my real life (at least not very often, anymore), so having that safe space to talk, and cry, and talk, and laugh, and cry, and talk, well, it was nothing short of nourishment for my soul.
Every minute I was with her I could feel my strength returning and growing. We had four hours the first day and it absolutely flew by. It seemed like I had been there for minutes when she looked up to the clock and said, “we need to start wrapping up for today.” I couldn’t believe it. We talked a lot about my personality (and my childhood as a caregiver for my baby sister) and how it is affecting how much energy I have left for me at the end of the day. And it’s not much. I simply give too much away. This is not new, obviously. But I wanted her to validate my desire to talk about how to create space and energy around my own needs.
I also needed to talk about how Blue Eyes struggles with providing me with what I need. HE.STILL.STRUGGLES, after six years. Yep, he is now six years sober. It’s quite astonishing considering how much is written in the SA world about how difficult it is to stay sober and some websites would have you believe it’s impossible. It’s not impossible. Recovering from addiction, however, is actually the more difficult part. The wounds are still there. The need to control his environment, still there. The need for power, still there. The instinct to lie in difficult situations, still there. His own insecurities that drive how he interacts with me, still very much there.
But I have chosen to stay and so I need to learn to deal with his continuing recovery. I need to check my expectations, and learn how to de-value his weak points. They are his battles, not mine. I cannot let them affect me to the point of deteriorating health. I need my own resources. On the second day of therapy, we did somatic healing. I breathed and moaned and she supported my heart, and my head. She could feel the pain and the pressure and she worked to release some of it. She needed me to acknowledge how much of the burden I carry, is simply not my own. I have to release it. This is on me. My responsibility. My gift to my own body.
Going forward, Blue Eyes and I will travel down to Los Angeles once a month for intensive couple’s therapy. She will work with us for a few hours and then give us homework assignments. I need her to see Blue Eyes in action. We have had horrible couple’s therapy experiences. Therapy with her will be worth it. She knows me, and she understands sex addiction. She actually met Blue Eyes in the last few minutes of our time together. She had us do a couple exercises and got an idea of how we are, together. I think she knows I tend to dominate conversation and want to cut Blue Eyes off when he isn’t responding the way I want. And he absolutely uses that as his cue to not say anything at all. I know she will work with both of us, equally, gently and kindly to help our relationship grow even under the burden of sex addiction recovery, and sex addiction induced trauma.
In the meantime, I will practice meditation three times a day. The kind of meditation where I breathe deeply and release the emotional toxins. I will calm my heart and remove myself from stressful situations. I will call time outs when I can’t handle it, versus trying to solve others’ problems. I will be honest with myself and the people around me regarding what I am actually capable of. I don’t have to be everything to everybody. For now, I no longer feel the desire to flee my situation. Being in fight or flight mode is stressful. It’s okay to take breaks and re-invigorate my energy flow. I need to remind myself I have everything I need to take care of myself. I have everything I need.