WordPress reminded me last weekend that this blog is now six years old. I started writing about nine months into my healing journey. I had been journaling for months and it took quite a while to put all those words into legitimate, readable blog entries. I finally caught up to real time somewhere around mid January 2015, three months on WordPress, and more than a year post discovery. Some of my journaling was handwritten, some typed in random places on my computer, some in notes on my phone. I remember sitting on the ground in the garden of an old Episcopal church in downtown Portland, after a particularly difficult dinner conversation, sobbing and scribbling on a piece of paper from my purse.
What I haven’t done, however, is spend much time going back through my entries–unless someone comments on an old post and I need to refresh my memory. Reading what I had written was simply too painful to re-visit, for a very long time.
Recently, I did finally feel ready to go back and read a few of my old posts, ones from the very beginning, and I realized that there is no way I could have done this healing process any differently. At the time, there just weren’t a lot of resources for wives of newly diagnosed sex addicts and what WAS out there… I’m pretty sure I found it, all. AND, just because it’s out there, doesn’t mean it’s good or helpful information. If I had known someone personally who had gone through something even remotely similar, you know, being blind-sided by your best friend and then finding out he’s a closet addict with any number of questionable habits, after 30 years together, children, houses, businesses, I’m not sure I would have been able to really hear what that person had to say anyway.
There is nothing that prepares you for the devastation of finding out your partner is a sex addict. We are all unique and our lives and our partners are unique and all that goes into how we respond to not only betrayal, but also, in my case, decades-long lies about who my husband really was. As I have said before, in some ways he is the same guy, and in others, he is very very different from who I thought he was. What a mess.
The entry above was the first I read that really got me. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Approximately two weeks post phone call from the last other woman/acting out partner/hoarding whore, etc… I had been crying almost non-stop, experiencing leg cramping from the dehydration. And when I wasn’t crying, I was a zombie, unable to focus, completely non-productive, hadn’t slept or eaten much in days. Most practical people who haven’t actually gone through this process might say, geez, that’s a little over the top isn’t it? All that drama because your husband cheated on you?
Nope, it’s not over the top. You can’t tell trauma to just STOP. You can’t wake up in the morning and tell yourself, “buck up sunshine, it’s a beautiful day, everything is going to be okay.” Trauma doesn’t work that way. Trauma doesn’t listen. As a matter of fact, all my mature, educated, practical attributes disappeared. I honestly didn’t recognize myself… or more accurately, I felt split in two. There was the old me, and there was the new, broken me. The old me tried desperately to comfort and take back control, however, the new, traumatized me turned out to be pretty persistent. There was legitimate fear involved and new me wasn’t gonna let old me pretend like nothing was wrong.
And when I felt like I needed to pretend like nothing was wrong, like on that day in January 2014, it took such a huge toll on me. The stress of the lies and betrayal were so heavy on my heart that day, that I didn’t want to live anymore. As I say in my journal entry, “another little piece of me died,” BUT, I didn’t die. I never wanted to die. The lessons learned on this healing path, however, have changed me. I’ve lost some of my natural sense of humor. I’ve lost some of the innocence I didn’t realize I had.
My son turned out to be right, on that January evening. I am okay. The mom he knew, would be okay.
Processing this kind of trauma, and this level of pain isn’t something we can prepare for. We all do the best we can. I know all the experiences I had been through prior to that day shaped me into who I was on the day my reality crumbled before my eyes. New me is now a culmination of everything I was that day and everything I have gained in the process of healing from this trauma. Before, I took for granted how I felt about me, and my little world. After, I really had to evaluate how I truly felt about everything… about my husband, about where I was in my life, and about myself. Could I stay with someone who betrayed me and still respect myself? Was I actually worthy of my own self confidence? All the not good enoughs haunted me for months. How could HE, do this to ME.
As time progressed, I realized his actions weren’t about my behavior as a partner, or my worthiness as a human being. My pain was nearly unbearable, but my healing wouldn’t truly begin until I acknowledged his addiction was and is about him.