Bill of Rights

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Battle of Recovery

I'm going through a rough patch again.  I can't figure out if it is me expecting too much of H, or if the past 25 years are just weighing too heavy on me.  H tells me, "I'll never get past this."  Man, I hope that isn't true.

Yet, I keep wondering...

I think I'm getting past some of it, slowly maybe.

Doesn't having him back after all the women he has been with earn me a few pats on the back?

Not from H.

Lately, it feels like H thinks its no big deal and I should just put it all behind me and move on.

I was laying in bed the other night, unable to sleep when it dawned on me that I was never given that blessing I asked for after this all happened.  There was so much going on right then when H came back home.  Phone calls and meetings with both the bishop and stake president that I feel like I was sloughed to handle the more weightier matter of welcoming the prodigal son.

 -- Maybe all this is stirring up because we have missed two counseling sessions.
 -- Maybe its all the anger I see in H again.
 -- Maybe we need more recovery work, but counseling, recovery manuals and 12-step groups cost a lot of money that we don't have right now while we are trying to get our other home painted and on the market.

It just doesn't feel right lately.

We don't have family, prayer or scripture study, and if it wasn't for D, who loves to teach Family Home Evening, that wouldn't happen either.  D and I continue with our dailies during the day when H is away.  My pleas for H to join with us in this continue to fall on deaf ears (or is it a deaf heart?).

The afternoon we returned from H's disciplinary counsel,  we sat down to talk about what needed to change in our family, home and marriage to make it through this year of him being excommunicated. We talked about making sure the basics of prayer and scriptures were done.  We talked about changes that would help us have a more spiritual and peaceful Sabbath.   We talked about him ramping up to become that spiritual leader that he was supposed to have been all along.    A year isn't a long time to get right all the things that have been wrong these past many years.  He agreed that afternoon.
But since that conversation --


Some where during the years of all this addiction, probably even before that as a young boy in a dysfunctional home, H learned to emotionally disconnect.  The worry of never being right, or good enough weighed on his little boy self until it has exacerbated into this huge adult issue.  Our conversations crash into this issue constantly.

There is a really good article on the broken brain of an addict that I really like.  His breakdown of the difference of the brain verses the mind I especially like.  It explains a lot of why H and I are struggling with how we process the issues between us.

You can find that here - (

When I'm down and struggling with the weight of all of this I like to read this post:

It reminds me that this addiction brings 'unfathomable pain' to the wife.  For me, pulling babies out of toilets when miscarrying was no where near as hard as this.  I was sure then, that my heart was broken beyond repair as I sat there holding the life-less body of the baby I desperately wanted a chance to love and raise.

Back then, I didn't know about the carnage of the soul that happens to a wife of a sex addict.  I know it well now.  Miscarriage does not hold a candle to this pain.

I don't know how long I will fight this battle of recovery.  I don't know, nor could I possibly be expected to tell what bumps and bruises might occur along this path.  What I do know is that one day I expect to be whole, but that won't be in this life.  While I walk the path of mortality, I can hope for a solid grasp on recovery,  regardless of what H does.  No, I won't be 'cured'.   I will still have the scars of this trial.  I will still work a recovery program of sorts all my days.

"Accessing the Atonement does not mean we rid ourselves of the consequences of our actions"  (Or the actions of others)

I continue to work on forgiving my husband for his actions, but that does not mean that I continue to accept mistreatment.  I continue to strive to keep our marriage together, as long as H works to do the same.  At the same time, I continue to work on me.  I continue to strive to allow the atonement to heal the broken and abused pieces of my heart.  I continue to trust my Heavenly Father that all will be made right one day.  

Recovery is not an event.  I'm trying to remind myself of that today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting Back on Track

I took a week off from my blog, my life, my therapy and pretty much everything else to attend our stake girls camp.  I was the head cook (I think I must have lost my head to accept this assignment).  I had a blast with the girls, but not so much fun with the other two ladies that signed up for this laborious task of feeding 200 girls 3 meals a day.

When I say I took a week off from everything -- it was literally  everything.  I missed my 12-Step meeting, my counseling session, my support groups and I missed everything that I typically need to do to keep myself on track.  I noticed the loss often as the week progressed.

 H took the week off too. He came up to camp to help in me in the kitchen.  As short as I am, I knew I was going to need help with those giant bowls and pans in that kitchen.  Wow!  Some of them were huge!.  And, surprisingly, not big enough for the amount of food I needed to shove into them to mix and stir and distribute to 200 hungry girls.

It was a challenging week for H.   Getting men (or what we, in the church, call 'priesthood') up to help for the week proved to be challenging for the women in charge of girls camp.  Why is it that men won't sacrifice for this service?  H found it incredibly difficult to be in all the places all those leaders wanted him to be.  I found it frustrating to have to keep letting him take off on someone else's errand, when he came to help me.  He isn't even technically 'priesthood' anyway right now.

Either way, H was frustrated.  He was frustrated with the amount of work.   He was frustrated with the less than desirable, mice infested living conditions, and he was frustrated that he took a week of vacation to do what he realized he would not have agreed to do -- had he known what it really entailed.

I find a lot of irony in H's realizations.  As he would complain about this or that last week, I kept thinking to myself that had I known what I was getting into marrying him, maybe I wouldn't have signed up to give my time away to that kind of assignment either.

But there we were -- slaving away at girls camp.
And here we are -- struggling through a marriage infected with addiction.

Maybe in your right, well-informed mind, you wouldn't sign up for any hard, challenging, soul-testing, gut wrenching, physically draining assignment -- if you really knew what you would have to do to get through them.  

The hours were horrible.  I would open the kitchen around 5:30 AM and not leave some days until closer to 10:00 at night.  It was hot and sweaty, before we turned on the ovens and grills.  The Missouri humidity was in full force the week we were at camp.   Huge dirty dishes that needed to be washed made us wet and grimy as well.

In between the heat, sweat, humidity, dirty dish water --  there were these delightful young women who came in to the kitchen to help.   Their smiles brightened me.  Their silly camp songs and beautiful voices made light work of the ga-jillion plates, cups, forks, knives and spoons coming through the window to the dishwasher.  Some of these beautiful girls came to help more often than they were supposed to -- because you some how, touched them.  You made a connection that drew them back to you.  They chose the mess and heavy work of the kitchen over another class or event they could have attended.

And that made all the difference at the end of the day.

Of course I left the kitchen exhausted, but I left happy.  I left thinking about the laughs we had with the girls that  had kitchen chores that day.   Those happy times made the work load and long hours ever so worth it -- to me, at least.

I know that has to be true for what I deal with at home too.

Living with addiction is one of the most painful trials I have ever gone through.  It has been even more difficult and painful than six miscarriages.  More difficult than the miscarriages that lead to pulling my lost babies out of the toilet.

No one in their right mind signs up for this test.  How it came to be dumped on me wasn't the same way the camp cook assignment happened, but I see so many parallels in the experiences.

* I recognize the steep learning curve.   It took a few meals at camp to comprehend the volume of food it takes to feed 200 people.  It took a few meals to learn to manage my time so that the food was ready when dinner was scheduled.  Likewise, it was years of pain and confusion before we ever began to dare say the word 'addiction'.   It took tons of counseling, books on recovery, 12-step, support groups and so much more to muddle my way through this until I felt like I wasn't drowning in despair.   It takes time to learn to manage a challenge.

* I recognize the need for a strong support system.  Without a strong support system in the kitchen last week we had chaos and delay.  We needed to work together, with an understanding of the end goal to find success.    Part of my floundering all those years was due to trying to cope on my own.  The support from women who understand my pain has been a tremendous healing balm to me.  I didn't have to work this alone anymore once I realized there were organizations filled with women who had been there - - and knew!

*I recognized the need for determination and "stick-to-itiveness".   A couple times last week when the work got too hard there was a break down with the help.  There was frustration, complaining, and bad feelings.  I've had that happen too,  with addiction in the marriage.  I've been over-loaded and too weary to go on.  (Please know, that if you are reading this and you have taken a path toward divorce, these comments are in no way meant as judgement or finger pointing for not sticking it out.  There have been times when I have felt it was time to end my marriage as well.  I do not judge that choice.  It belongs to those in their own trenches).  I've made the choice to remain married, therefore, I need to keep a firm grasp on my determination to get to the end goal.

Over the past couple of days home from camp,  while I've sorted through the dirty laundry piles, I've thought a lot about what I missed being away from my recovery resources.  I missed the connections I have come to trust and lean on.   What surprised me, looking back, was to see that I took with me more tools and resources and strength that I ever knew I had.

I've learned to work with others in different ways than I ever used to.  I've learned to be patient and loving with myself and to give myself room to learn as I do hard things.  I've learned that its ok to cry -- in front of people even, when things get too hard for a minute.  I've learned that I don't run away from a challenge no matter how difficult the people are that I have to work with.  I've learned that people may complain about me and how I do things, but others think I'm amazing.  I've learned to hold on to what lifts me, not what takes me down.

Most importantly, I've learned that how I look at difficult challenges -- makes all the difference in the world -- to me!

I can do hard things.

Last week,  I did something incredibly difficult.  It was a challenge I didn't have experience with.  I pulled it off with flying colors.  I didn't please every one, but I pleased the Lord -- and that is enough for me.

Today,  I am back home, to my regular challenge, ready to take what I learned, what I gained, and apply it to my recovery work.  Today, I am back on track, lifted from an experience I had no clue I'd have to go through and so grateful for what it taught me about me.

I can -- do hard things!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why Can't I Feel?

I want to say that life with H since April has been pretty good, surprisingly so.   I say that because a huge part of me daily struggles with this current reality.  When H and I got married I had no clue to the secret life H lived.  I started building a home and a life based on what I believed love and marriage to be, based on my experience and values.  I built and built that life for years until suddenly that world I built came crashing down on top of me.  Suddenly what I thought I had was no where near what I once believed it to be.

Suzanne Guthrie Maughan's photo.

Suddenly all those gut feelings I was experiencing became my reality.   I didn't have all the evidence yet,  but I knew.

I hurt knowing.  The pain was incredible.

I was a alone in this.  No one to talk to.  Who would you talk to about your husband cheating on you anyway?  

I needed a way to cope.  What I must have come to, all those years ago was numbing.


Numbing, is obviously,  not the best technique to employ.  It was all I had.  There wasn't message boards or Facebook where you could interact in an online social setting with those of a like condition.  Back then I didn't even call it "addiction".  I wouldn't have even thought to seek out an addiction recovery group.  Had I,  I would have thought that was just for the addict anyway.   Twenty-five years later we now know the spouse/partner needs a recovery program as well.

That's now.
Back then, I was stuck, alone, and helpless.

Back then, I plastered on the best happy face I could muster under the circumstances and continued to build my home, take care of my little one and put one foot in front of the other every day.

This works -- sometimes...

Other days (or nights) I would cry myself to sleep, watch too much TV, or eat.  If there was money to shop, I might have done that too.

I was still alone.

H wasn't emotionally present in our relationship.  He enjoyed our little S.  Most of our happy times came from what we shared together in our child.  As a couple we lived emotionally distant lives.

Having my little one gave me something to fill my days.  It pointed me in a direction I could follow in spite of much emptiness in my marriage.   I put my heart and soul into that little one.  When my nights were painful and lonely, the days could be brightened by the laugh of the little gift God gave me.  Whatever emotions I could express happened because I was a mother.    Whatever emotions I expected to experience in my marriage remained part of the dream that never fully came true.

As days turn into years and the trauma increased by more betrayal, my numbing increased as well.  Until now years later, try as I might, I feel dead inside and find it difficult to conjure up emotions.    What does it mean when H says he loves me?  He used to say it before.  I came to realized that wasn't true.  Or at least he was able to say he love me and be intimate with other women too.  The incongruence in that dashed what ever faith, truth, or trust I might have believed my marriage held.

Confusion, dashed realities and doubt all combine inside me causing me quite a  challenge to feel emotions I want to feel.

Or to trust what I hear.

I found this little 'ah-ha' here ( while trying to figure out a path forward to feeling.

The Counseling Response  

Whenever we try to shut off close down or avoid certain emotions, the problem is that everything else can get shut down as well. It’s not like there’s one dial for happiness, another for sadness, and yet another for anger. 
We either feel our emotions or we don’t. If you want your positive emotions back, you will have to open up to the negative ones and work through them. The reasons why we shut down emotions are all based on fear, but with different variations.

As I begin to research solutions, I realize this happened to S in a tragic way as he grew older.  I numbed myself so well that once he was no longer a little boy needing so much love and interaction I shut down pieces of me too -- to avoid potential pain.

As I look back at the memories I realize the damage of numbing has been far reaching.

Usually, PTSD numbing does reduce the positive feelings of joy and love, but not the anxious feelings of fear and dread. So it is common to have high anxiety but low mood. And PTSD, by definition, includes some "emotional anesthesia."  (

I can get my mind around this concept of "Emotional anesthesia" because of the length of time I have suffered from betrayal trauma.  Without a place to work through the trauma I needed an anesthesethic for it.  The more the trauma occurred the more anesthesia it took to numb me.

"Healing from the impact of betrayal is not a linear experience that starts out with the pain of discovery and then automatically feels better with time. Instead, it’s a unique journey for each couple based on several factors such as the unfaithful partner’s willingness to tell the truth, previous betrayals, duration of the affair, and other factors." (

I want all these broken,  emotional numb pieces of me..

.....put back together

Betrayal trauma is so very similar to post-traumatic stress disorder which is exhibited with flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, or fear of anything reminiscent of the original trauma it can take years to heal or to fully trust again.

These conditions still exist for me.  They still break me down.  They still cause me to continue to numb and block emotions that may be ok to trust.

I don't know where to go from here.  If I were H, I would want a genuine, and as equally emotionally matched reply to words of affection.  If I were H,  I would probably feel some rejection from a lack of response.

This is all so tricky and complicated for me.  Its exhausting as well.  I work my mind around what I read and study, which gives me all the validation I need.

Just no answers for what to do to fix it.

I'm going to leave it here for now.  I'm heading out the door to counseling with my head full of a lot of stuff I need to process through more.  I don't know where the answers will come from.  I just know I need to find them.  Being emotionally numb right now will likely slow the process of H's recovery.  I don't want that.  Still, I don't want to rush mine either.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Trying To Believe Him

I've mentioned in a few posts about my little girl Cinderella story.  I mentioned my LDS version with a beautiful white dress, a temple and family there to witness and celebrate.  It is no small fact, with a blog like mine and all the posts I've written, that those things did not happen.

At all!

What happened instead was something entirely different.  Something painful.   Something no young girl is ever prepared for as she grows up in the church planning this big life event.  No Young Women adviser ever taught a lesson on how to deal with lies or cheating.  Some young wives need to know that. Some wives even need to know about addiction (that dirty little word we don't like to say in meetings on Sunday).

I did have many other beautiful lessons.  I would never discount the wonderful program girls in the church are provided.  The leaders are amazing women.  Likely some of them going through all those things that you never talk about in class.

I survived anyway, without that specific training for the particular trials of my marriage.

"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward."  D&C 58:26

We are not commanded in all things because of the gift of agency we were given.  Agency to choose for ourselves.  Agency even to learn for ourselves so that we can make wise choices.  Or not.  Some people we love dearly make choices that cause us tremendous pain.

What happens to a girl who sat in those classes learning all those beautiful lessons and trying to prepare herself to be worthy to have this dream come true -- and it doesn't?   A lot of things happen.  Struggle, growth, pain, loneliness and isolation, small victories, big failures happen on that roller coaster of life.

So what's the big deal?  Most marriages are like that.  No two people are so compatible that there are a few riffs in their marriage relationship.

It is a big deal to be lied to for 25 years.
It is a big deal to be cheated on over and over either with a person or with the internet or pictures.
It is a big deal when infidelity and addiction are part of the challenges of marriage.

Now, after those 25 years,  this is a big deal too...

He's working recovery.
He's going to church.
He's trying.
He listens better when you say that hurts or that sounds like addict talk.
He's aware of triggers.

Now, I'm the one who gets to choose

I'm struggling though in my choosing.

I struggle to believe after all the lies, after all the anger, and all the pain.

"All that has come into our lives was designed to prepare us to become who we are and to help us learn the lessons we came here to learn.  There is a purpose for and a gift from each relationship, even the most painful relationship."  Healing Through Christ, p75 Step 8

My relationship with H has been a painful one, for him and for me.   Each of us bringing hurt and pain into the life that was supposed to be full of love and happiness.

 As H has struggled with addiction, anger, deception,  I've struggled with my own anger at all the lies and deception.  I've struggled to love someone who doesn't love in return. I've struggled to not hold resentment, even if I've said I've forgiven him.

Now, I struggle to believe.

I struggle with how to feel about the behavior I see now (and really have yearned for all these many years).  I struggle with the fear of opening up and being real with him again.

Today, in group, these words stood out to me; "Forgiveness, right relationships and peace begin inside  us."  

I believe this.  I know this is a true principle.  What I need to do is center myself in this truth so that as I try to work through the confusion it will be the peace that grounds and centers me.  It will be what helps me believe the changes H is making are real.

This is no small feat.  For years, I believe H.  I believe him, until evidence proved otherwise.  When that happened my world crashed around me into tiny pieces.  Pieces that couldn't be put back together.

And it happened over and over.

Just when I thought things were improving.  Just when I was starting to believe.  I'd come across something that would set in motion the explosion of my little world.   All that would be left are tiny pieces impossible to reassemble.

How do I believe him now?  I didn't know truth from fiction most of my 25 year marriage.

The answer: Evidence.

Matthew 7:20 'Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.'

My goals this week:
 *  Learn to ground myself in peace.
     Keep an eye on real evidence.
     Trust that you'll be warned, like you were all the other times before if its not safe to trust.

 *  Trust in all the wisdom you've gained over the past year of therapy.

 *  Don't force this.
     You'll know when its safe enough to be vulnerable.
     For now, you can still live whole-hearted and true -- even if it is on a cautious side.

Monday, June 2, 2014

I Found Myself in a Box just wasn't my box!

H and I spent the entire week, Memorial Day included, in the hot dusty garage of our other home.  That garage has served as our storage unit, catch all, out of sight of out mind spot, for the past 10 years.  When we purchased our new home last fall we were in the throes of separation.  Ignoring the garage, I packed the household items as fast as I could and left to get that distance between H and me and the lies and pain.

The boxes of our old life, the stuff we shoved away, along with the hurt and pain sat.  Ignored a little longer until we were compelled to go through it and decide what needed to be done.

With only one week off work for H, we needed to work fast.   A tricky task with the heat and the fact that we hadn't been in some of those boxes for 15 years.

I've ignored that mess all this time for two reasons; First, I moved into that home two weeks after a very traumatic miscarriage.  That one, a son, all formed and beautiful.  If that wasn't difficult enough, the second reason I turned my back on that space, was because in those boxes were pictures of H's life.  Many of them would be very triggery for me on the heels of the past few years.  I knew there would be pictures of naked women that we would find.  Pictures that would bring with it all the shame and anger that was there when that lifestyle and those desires were alive and strong.

H also spent several years on assignment with the Navy stationed in Sicily.  If you haven't ever been to Europe (and I hadn't),  the social climate there is much more accepting of nudity.  One of the places H visited was entirely dedicated to one particular piece of male anatomy.  H secured a whole book of pictures from that spot.  It undid me the first time I saw 14 years ago when he returned from that trip.  I knew we'd run across that and stir up all those emotions as well.

When we drove up to the townhouse Monday morning, before getting out of the car, H offered a word of prayer.  He knew the home itself was triggery, the job ahead of us was going to be very rough for me.  We needed that heavenly help.

Difficult as the week was, we had few bumps and few impatient words.  It was surprising, for both of us, really, was how well we managed it.  H and I have never worked well around the house together.  Put heat and dirt and shame in the mix and it was sure to have ugly eruptions to deal with on top of the workload.  Looking back now,  I'm very grateful for that prayer offered at the beginning of the week.  There is no doubt in my mind it was answered more times that we could have anticipated.  We managed to get all of the porn shredded.  Anything that wasn't uplifting or wouldn't bless our new home was tossed.  All of it, without a lot of conflict.  All of that five minutes short of our deadline.

Where the snag happened,  was with all the cards and letters we found as we sorted out boxed up years of life.  Letters written by me to H.

I'd forgotten about all those letters to H.

I'd forgotten about all the pain, all the pleas for love and attention.  I'd forgotten what a jerk my husband was and how he ignored me.  I'd forgotten that he'd refused to allow me to have more children after our son was born.  I'd forgotten about all the feelings I put into those letters trying to reach out to him and make sense of all the cheating (before we called this addiction).  I'd forgotten I felt so unwanted.

What was worse, and so painfully difficult for me to work through was the realization that I had really forgotten me.  A young woman, in love with a man, who was too caught up in himself to notice her, want her, or care about her.  I'd been put in a box and packed away with all the other stuff that doesn't matter enough to find a place inside to be watched over, kept clean and included in what matters most in life.

As I read through the letters and the cards, the memories and emotions flooded over me.  The tears came.  The anger came.  Anger at H.  Anger at myself.   Why did I stay so long?  What was I thinking?  How could I not see the lack of caring?  Who would put their self through something like this year after year, letter after letter, ignored and never answered as they were, and stay as long as I did?

I was mad at that younger me.  I was furious with that younger H for hurting her and ignoring her.

I wanted to run and couldn't.  I wanted to hit H.  I wanted to throw things.  There wasn't time for a tantrum.   We had to get through those boxes.  The house needs to be sold.  The time was now -- no putting off any longer.  I had to face this once and for all.

The dusty dirty sorting days are behind me as I sit here today.  The boxes are in the garage across town --- only not so many of them this time.  They wait for another week off when we will haul them here to our new house and our new life.

I didn't realize how much of me was buried in those boxes.  I didn't realize how much of my life I put in a closet in my mind, pretending it didn't happen, or just refusing to look in that space any more.  It was painful to open that door and look at it again.  It shocked me.  The tears hurt.  My head hurt crying it all out.  Every time we ran across one of those envelopes, the pain and tears flooded out stronger and more forceful than the envelope before.  I cried for the me now in 2014 and for the me then in 1987, or 88 or 89.   After a while I noticed the letters stop showing up and I begin to realize that girl quit too.  She quit hoping and caring and she just existed.  Going through the day because she was too afraid to leave or change or kick him out.

When that box is finally here,  I plan to take all those letters. put them in order, read the  whole story one more time  -- all the way through.  Then with a nice lunch, and a box of matches, H and I will take the letters up to a park where we can sit at a campfire and burn that part of our life away.  I'll give that younger me a big hug, thank her for trying so hard and for believing, especially when it seemed impossible to do so.

And then -- I will move on.
Today I am giving myself permission to grieve for her just a little while longer.