I was 3 months into a false reconciliation with #3 when I embarked upon my first *real* attempt at ED recovery. To clarify, I say “false” because at the time that I created space in my life, both physically and mentally, for #3 to demonstrate all of the ways that he was “completely different”, he was actually just beginning a second affair with his original accomplice in our first D-Day. But to be fair, it was also false because I was not actively working towards reconciliation. For my part, a better description would be I was passively observing him. I was desperately waiting for full disclosure, something he never provided, as well as observing what actions he would take to overcome and maintain sobriety in his “addiction”.
Having been previously married to a drug addict and knowing the grueling steps he had to take towards recovery, I was pretty determined not to accept his cold turkey approach. From all that I read and everything that logically testified to me, a sex addiction would make quitting heroine look like…I don’t even have a proper analogy, so basically I’m saying I’d renew my vows with my drug addict before I trusted this mo fo. When your drug is sex, lust, porn, external validation, flirting, and sexting, and when you are a physically beautiful and charming human being, how do you refrain from the daily onslaught of images and advances that our society and culture bestows upon you and lays before you? How do you remove yourself from the people, places and resources that flood your senses on an hourly basis? And how do you clearly draw lines or uphold integrity when there are so many voices, so many powerful forces and advocates who encourage you to seek after self-gratification? And when culturally and familially you’ve been excused of accountability and dismissed of repercussions, how do you then determine that it is *you* who must own the liability of your future?
How do you refrain from the daily onslaught of images and advances that our society and culture bestows upon you and lays before you?
I regret not setting boundaries or failing to define expectations. I wish that I would have consented to reconciliation on my terms as opposed to always having one foot out the backdoor. That said, I never had the power to change his behaviors. But I’ve since learned of the many options that are available for individuals and couples dealing with sex/porn addiction and chronic infidelity. And for the sake of being fully transparent, I am often plagued with guilt, regret, or the ever present “what ifs” as I continue on my quest for healing. I am part of a large but private Facebook community that is supposed to be a space for healing, venting and advice for others like me. This group is made up of those women who are still in their marriages and continually working on healing as a couple and for themselves, but also for those like me who are now working to get free of their trauma. As I have tried to participate in this group, I find myself vacillating between two different emotions and opinions:
- I often find myself grieving the opportunity that these other women have been given to participate in guided, SA specific counseling, full disclosures, poly-graph tests, 12 step programs, and actual treatment programs. I hate that #3 wasn’t driven enough to take any and all necessary actions to save his family. And I mourn the healing that I see coming to some of these families as they both actively work to bring reconciliation, healing, and a better-than-before life into their future.
- Thank you God, Universe, Team and especially #3 for showing me who you are and getting me out of that never-ending free fall of WTF’s. As I listen to or read some of these stories, I am repeatedly triggered by the doubts, insecurities and continual questioning that shadows each of these lives. I cannot imagine a life in which a relapse means my husband just got another girlfriend or the subsequent behaviors that go along with it. An addict in the middle of their behaviors is a dreadful liar, a horrible manipulator, completely unstable and unpredictable, and let’s be blunt here, a complete and total douche canoe. If you read my post about Betrayal Trauma or are living it, you know the absolute hell that is your life. To be honest, as much as I wish that I could be one of those amazing stories of success and marital longevity, I can see that version of me and she’s rubbish. She’s all balled up in the pantry, wearing Harry Potter pajamas that are way too short because of freakishly long legs and they’re a junior’s size and she’s all snacking on Mashmallow Maties which is a Lucky Charms knock off because that’s what G prefers, and she’s totally nutters because #3 is off “hunting” and she’s called his boss, sister, former mission companion, dentist and anyone else she can think of to verify his story. Hell no, people.
I’m embarrassed to admit the number of times that I can go back and forth with these two entirely different thought processes. But making me crazier still, is the fact that I have been recovering from an eating disorder *and* betrayal trauma simultaneously. And I don’t think I’m getting due credit for not being medicated and/or drunk while doing this. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that my two goals for the last year are in complete opposition with each other. Loving and accepting my body for what it is and finding my internal worth and value while also recovering from the fact that my husband had multiple cyber and physical affairs and essentially communicated to me for five years that I had no worth – neither the physical or soul related kind. This was a terrible idea, but also, it was kind of my only option. After years with ED and being codependent, I feel like the Universe had finally had enough and needed me to love me and to get up and finally recognize the amazing (albeit slightly mental) creature that I am.
I *know* that this needed to happen. And I believe that I am absolutely on the necessary course of self-discovery. But it’s still kind of rubbish. And now that I’ve discovered so many others like me. I pose two questions; How did you know which path to take, to stay or to leave? And how do you find the internal peace to stay that course and not end up eating dehydrated marshmallows in your pantry? Because most days, I feel like I am one memory away from sliding back down this mountain.