Monthly Archives: September 2016

Life Sucks…But Not All The Time.

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“Life Sucks…” was my initial thought after a few months after I made the decision to stay married to my sex addict husband. The idea of staying committed to a man that was psychologically incapable of refraining from infidelity sounded like insanity.

Learning of the endless betrayals, it is tempting to make some serious judgments about him, leading me to a great amount of bitterness, hatred, resentment, and thinking he is the lowest piece of scum on this planet. When I go “there”, there is no one (in my mind) who could be more sick, delusional, disgusting and mean than my husband.

Nearly three years into this insanity, however, I’d have to admit there have been more good times than bad, more laughter than tears, and more kind words than bad. But when it gets bad, it is baaaaaaaad, and in those moments, it feels like the level of badness far outweighs the level of goodness.

There’s this truth about life, however, that will always remain so long as we are humans on this Earth, and that is that although we make every effort to pursue and obtain a life of happiness, peace, and drama-free days, life is always changing, full of disappointments, loss, pain, and betrayal. It doesn’t matter who you are with. And while we can pick and choose who we spend our lives with (yes, we always have the choice and freedom to leave any relationship), we will always be presented with problems.

That’s life. And yeah, it sucks sometimes.

It’s easy to forget, though, that it doesn’t suck all the time.

Being married to an addict sucks (I don’t think there’s a soul in the world who would disagree with me), but that doesn’t mean my life sucks. What I’m coming to learn is that assuming life will always present challenges, how we grow through those challenges ultimately results in our strengthened ability to navigate through those challenges. I’ve learned more and grown more (spiritually, mentally and in so many other aspects) being married to my husband than at any other point in my life. Admittedly, when things are going great, I don’t grow at all. It’s very comfortable and I like to go to auto-pilot mode.

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I was in my ladies bible study last night. We had discussed the issue of lying and how lying was seen by God as equal to all other sins (I’m not trying to bring up a discussion on this, so please don’t tell me this is not true. I get that enough from my husband). I had told them how my husband kept lying and excused himself saying “at least I’m not doing really bad things like killing people”. I thought that if he saw that lying was not insignificant but actually very bad, he would stop lying (or at least try to be less dishonest).

One of the ladies stopped me and asked me about my own sin and how that compared to his. Ouch… That was like a slap in the face to reality. If I am saying that all sin is equal in the eyes of God, how can I complain that my husband’s sin is greater than that of my own? Am I saying that I am sin-free? I want to say that I am, but we all know that isn’t true. If all sin is equal, who am I to put the spotlight on his sin and off of my own? I wanted to say “well, at least I don’t repeat my sin like he does!” but it all goes back to “Who’s inventory am I taking here?”

Addiction is no joke. It’s got some serious consequences and it hurts people in so many ways. He’s got a ton of issues that he has to work on. But part of my “sin” (in addition to being super judgmental and holding an attitude of superiority) is me trying to act like God. When he sins, I feel justified in intervening, insisting on sharing my “insightful wisdom”. After all, his behavior does directly affect me, our marriage, and our family. That’s my excuse- my rationale for keeping the spotlight on him and off myself.

If I do put the spotlight on myself, I realize that although he makes choices that do hurt us, that doesn’t mean that I can’t work on my own issues and support him while he works through his. Maybe he can even support me as I work through mine. It’s no fun, for sure. Saying it sucks is far from being an understatement.

I have to remind myself often, “this is not personal…this is not personal…” even though it feels VERY personal. Oh how life sucks…sometimes…

But, not all the time. Assuming challenges never go away so long as we are human beings on this Earth, it is important to make the most of it. Some prefer pissing and moaning about the transgressions of another, because they are either too blind or self-righteous (like me) to believe they have issues to work on themselves, or they are Jesus/Buddha/Muhammad. I’m willing to put all my money it’s the former.

Yes, life can suck. Really, really suck… But serenity comes when we accept the things that we cannot change (and unfortunately, my husband and his behavior falls into that category). What I have learned is that, although I am perfectly justified to leave, since I have chosen to stay (for now) I have two options on how to make the most of my time. I can use this limited time on earth to focus on the transgressions of others, searching, controlling, and manipulating them to be, act, and say things the way I think they should (guaranteeing I will forever be disappointed, sad, angry, bitter, hurt, living in fear, insecurity, and darkness. There is no end.) OR I can spend this limited amount of time on earth focusing on my own issues (i.e., how I can be a better person, a better mother, better friend, a better driver, a better pet owner, a better money-spender, more honest, more authentic, more sensitive, etc.,) there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a sense of hope. Faith. Happiness. I feel like progress is being made (even if it’s just me). There is healing. There is freedom. There is life.

Shame: When We Feel Unworthy of Love Only Because We Don’t Feel Loved

Shame: How has it impacted your life?

That was the question on my homework for one of the classes I was taking. When I first started the class (specifically focused on shame) I have to admit I was always angered at the word. I had no shame. Shame was bad. My husband, yes! He must have a ton of shame! But not me…

And then I began really working on myself. Shame took on a whole new meaning. I couldn’t identify it still, but shame slowly started to show itself to me in small things like, “how could I have been so stupid to not know he was cheating and lying to me for so long!?” to “I am a horrible mother for allowing this person in mine and my children’s lives.” I started seeing shame in my value as a person. Maybe I’m not sexy enough? I’m not fun enough. I’m not pretty. Do I smell? Am I too bossy? Do I expect too much from him? Am I a control freak? Maybe I caused this? Maybe I pushed him away. I should try harder. I don’t do enough for our family. I don’t appreciate him enough. I don’t make him feel loved enough. I need to change…”

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And every time I changed to meet his needs, he stayed the same. More acting out. More lies. I would tell myself, “I must have not tried hard enough.” So I would knock down every healthy boundary possible, ‘hoping that this time he would change. He would stop cheating and lying. He would get better in his addictions. And the more boundaries went down, the more acting out occurred. I nearly went mad to the point of extreme hypervigilance.

That’s when I hit rock bottom. I knew I was full of shame. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. It all happened when he left me and the kids. I knew he was acting out and I was set on stopping him. I sent texts to all his friends, family, Facebook, even the police. I tried exposing him for the sick person he was… And then it hit me… If he is sick, what does that make me?

I spent 3 whole days desperately trying to locate him so that I could get him to come back home, thinking that I could somehow convince him how wrong he was and how much he needed to change.

It didn’t happen.

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What started out as 3 days missing turned into two and a half months of separation – and two and a half months of me getting enough space from the insanity to clear my head and focus on what the real issue was: Me.

But not “me” in the shameful sense I had before – thinking that I was flawed or not good enough, but surprisingly realizing that I had subconsciously tried to take on the role of “God”. All my step work – all that powerless stuff, turning my will over to God…all of it never made sense until that moment.

My life, I realized, was perfect. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was perfect. I realized that “perfect” didn’t mean “to my liking” but “according to God’s will”. As I slowly started to release my tightly clenched fists from the outcomes of my husband’s choices and opened my hands, mind, and heart to my “higher power” I finally felt a sense of peace.

Instead of manipulation, passive aggressive communication, and threats, I used prayer. As I began developing a relationship with my Higher Power, I came to realize I was worthy. I was good enough. I deserved the best.

I also realized that I didn’t need my husband to prove I was worthy of love. I had all the love I needed, in so many forms, in so many ways, and from so many people. And although it would be ideal to have my husband be the man I wanted him to be, he is perfectly the man he is.

I’ve learned that shame leads us down a dark path of constantly hurting ourselves and others. Shame leaves us feeling lonely and desperate. Shame leaves us confused about who we are, and rips from us our identity. It leaves us grabbing desperately for anything to fill our emptiness.

My husband reaches out sexually. My parents turned to drugs and alcohol. I reached out for external things like…my husband, codependent behaviors, and hypervigilance/control.

I came to understand that we are not our behaviors and what happens to us does not define us, nor does it put a value on us in anyway. God is working in my life, in my husband’s life, in everyone’s lives, perfectly. We make mistakes. We alter our direction. But the moment I try to steal the wheel from God’s hands, I know I’ve fallen back into my codependent behaviors.

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“Shame” is creeping up again telling me I need to fill an emptiness by forcing someone else to make me feel better about myself. Realizing I am whole, valuable, and loved helped me let go of the false notion that someone had to do or be something or someone I wanted them to be in order for me to be happy.

Has my husband changed? Nope! But I have! And my happy days far outnumber my sad days now.

How to Deal With Shame: Identify it. Own it. Process it. Let it Go.

Plan Your Life As If He Will Never Change

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After our “Therapeutic Separation” my husband and I tried, once again, to work things out. While he was gone (2.5 months) I learned a lot about myself (one reason for letting him come back home). I learned that I was actually pretty controlling in many ways- being passive aggressive, stating my opinion even if it wasn’t welcomed or asked for, expecting (and almost always being disappointed) people to make decisions that I felt they should make, and getting angry when people weren’t able to keep their promises. I confused “controlling” with “demanding” and came to understand controlling is actually any kind of action (either through thought, words, or physical action) in which we believe we can change a situation or person from being/thinking/doing something different from what they would naturally be/think/do if we did not intervene.

While I was completely justified to be angry and expect that he change his behavior (stop acting out sexually, lying, cheating, deal with his addictions, verbally abusing us, etc.) it was never okay to hate him or judge him for not doing what I wanted him to do when he chose not to do it.

In summary, I realized the reason I was always so upset with my husband was because he wasn’t who I wanted him to be. He wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do. He wasn’t saying what I wanted him to say. He wasn’t thinking the way I wanted him to think. He didn’t see things the way I thought he should see things. I.e., he was “himself” and that pissed me off and I was set on patiently awaiting some miraculous Godly intervention in which he would someday (soon!) “see the light” and eventually become the person I thought he should be (like me)… (Yeah… I was pretty embarrassed when I came to realize that about myself).

That realization was truly humbling. What was more humbling (flat out embarrassing) was that once I realized this, I brought up the subject of us getting back together and “working it out”.  I mistakenly asked him to come home with this crazy notion that, “Aha! Now I know what I need to do! I must accept him for who he is! I must stop pointing out his flaws and THEN I will see him change on his own accord! I’m too bossy and controlling! THAT’S THE PROBLEM! All I have to do is stop being bossy and controlling and THEN he will become the person I need him to be!”

While it sounded pretty logical and smart at the time, it took numerous disappointments, cheating, and lying (on his part) for me to realize that wasn’t logical or smart at all.

We’re still married and still living together, but I think I may have figured it out…

Last night, after his bible study, he got into bed and whispered, “Now that I am working on honesty, I have to tell you something…” My heart started pounding loudly. The lump in my throat was painful. I knew what he was going to say. I expected him to tell me a half-truth story about another sexually acting out event.

Surprisingly, I was wrong. He told me that instead of going to work the day before, he went gambling instead. He’s done this many times before (lied about going to work only to spend the day at the casino). I sat with that and thanked him for being honest. I wasn’t mad at him anymore. Seriously disappointed for sure, but not mad.

I had been praying that all the stuff he was hiding would soon come to light. I had been praying that his truth would be revealed, and that he would grow spiritually and emotionally enough to seek a life of honesty. This is exactly what I was getting. How could I get mad?

Hearing him confess about the gambling, at this point, no longer triggered anger in me. Sadness, yes. But not anger. Not only did I feel it was an “answer to my prayer”, it also felt like just another piece of evidence to throw on the pile that told me my husband was not to be trusted (big sigh…).

I had to give it a day to really think about this new disclosure.

Who is being dishonest here? Him? Me? The answer was both of us. I pride myself on being honest. But the fact is I was being honest with everyone but myself. The fact is, I never saw him for who he was. I only saw him for what I thought he could be (and to my credit, he did say that he wanted to be an honest and faithful husband and father). But the reality is (and TRUTH was) that he is not that.

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I was living in denial, and I was making all my daily decisions, emotions, and future plans based upon that. And every time he acted out, lied, cheated, gambled, drank, verbally abused us, or whatever went against what I felt was “wrong” it was a slap in the face to me. He ruined my fantasy. He was crushing my delusion of being married to a “potentially honest man” and replaced it with my ugly reality of being married to a man that is incapable of honesty.

For the past 3 years, he has been consistent with his acting out and dishonesty. He has effortlessly maintained his status quo and has never failed to be the same man I married and had kids with. And for that I had no one to be angry at except myself.

The more I hold on to my delusions and false hopes of him changing, the more I hate not him, but myself. I’ve lost so much time, energy, and opportunities waiting for the day he chooses to love and respect me. I’ve gained grey hairs, stress, and shed far more tears that I thought could be contained in my small body.

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I’ve had and known the truth the whole time. I have options. I can choose to stay. I can choose to leave. But whatever option I choose, I am never justified in forcing a person to be that which he is not. I must not plan my life according to who he promises he wants to be, but plan my life according to the person he is. If I choose to stay, that will require me accepting that he will never change. If I leave, that will still require me to accept that he will never change. But life will always continue on, so I’d best make the most of it.