18 days a counting

18 days ago I wrote a post about being in love for that day/moment and how I was going to try to extend that feeling by just a little bit.  Maybe a day…or if I was lucky a few days in a row.  It’s 18 days later and I haven’t lost the feeling yet.  I have even held onto it through a visit from a relative and a week of PMS.  

Could it be as simple as just telling myself to hold the feeling?  Is it because I actively resisted using porn?  Did I avoid thinking of my ex…or didn’t he cross my mind due to my state of mind?

If and when this feeling wanes, I will be ultra aware of the moment so I can avoid it in the future.  Because even though being madly in love never really makes sense – it’s still the best place to be 

Getting over infidelity

I thought it couldn’t be done.  All those years ago when my husband first cheated (he is a sex addict) – and then last year when I found out his sobriety was a farce.  I knew I loved him (as in cared about him, wanted the best for him) but I never thought I could be in love with him again.

It has been almost a year to the day that my world was shattered for the second time.  But unlike the first time around, I didn’t stick my head in the sand.  I didn’t expect my husband to become the man I knew he was without my support.  I did everything differently.

I would suggest to anyone who is dealing with infidelity – and more specifically with addiction – to consider joining S-Anon, to getting a therapist who is trained in addiction, to telling one or two close friends who can be trusted not to judge.  I suggest reading literature about being the partner of a sex addict.  I also suggest putting boundaries in place to help yourself feel safe.  Boundaries can include anything from insisting he get an STD check to knowing his email passwords to reviewing his progress on a regular basis.  Everyone’s story is different and everyone’s triggers will be too.  Once you can identify the things that take you off your path you’ll be able to set up nets to catch yourself and right your path.

Work and time, work and time, work and time.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, of course.  There are still certain memories that will forever make my heart stop for a moment.  Then I pull myself back into the present and take inventory of what is happening TODAY and I am able to push those painful memories away.

I am fortunate to have a husband who is a fantastic communicator and who was willing to (finally) look at the roots of his addiction which stem to his childhood abuse.  He was very strong to take the steps he needed to make things right with us.

Will my trust ever be the way it was when we were newlyweds?  No way.  But that was an unrealistic version of trust.  It was a fantasy and had no basis in reality.  His trust now is earned with consistency over time.

I am in love with and respect my husband.  And it feels wonderful.

Peeing into a cup: The sex addicts version

I read a lot of blogs that are written by partners of sex addicts and other betrayed spouses.  As I’d expect, many of these posts are filled with “what if’s”.  What it he is cheating again? Was that text really intended for me?  Was he really working late? Why didn’t he answer his phone?  If he really went to the gym why aren’t his clothes sweaty?  What is this credit card charge?  Why does his car smell like gardenia?  Some of the excuses we are given (and that we silently agree to believe) are down right hilarious.

No one will ever know every thought that goes through their partners head –  it’s best this way.  But the basis of trust in a relationship comes down to our actions.  Did I think about hooking up with that hot guy at the gym?  Sure I did, I am human.  Did I act on it?  Hell no.  It’s not about the thought – it’s about the actions we take after the thought.  When we are unsure that our partners actions are on the up and up, that’s when we have a problem that needs to be addressed.

If something looks suspicious, his stories don’t add up or your sixth sense is setting off alarms – those things can’t be ignored.  Is he cheating?  Is he lying?  You need to know in order to make a healthy decision for yourself.  If he has done it before then I hate to tell you but there is an extremely good chance he is doing it again…especially if he is an addict.  He can’t stop that destructive behavior just by going to a few therapy sessions.  It takes a lot of daily work to get sober and a lot of trust to learn to be transparent with our spouses.

I can’t emphasize enough how helpful the polygraph was to my relationship.  After being lied to for so many years it was impossible to believe that I had indeed finally been told everything.  Knowing 1/2 the truth was of no use to me.  Holding back any lies would be an insurmountable obstacle to our future together.

My husband certainly didn’t like having to submit to the test but he understood the reason it had to be done.  He wanted me to know, beyond any doubt, that I had been told the entire truth.  After all the pain he had caused me, he owed it to me to do ANYTHING IN HIS  POWER to make me feel safe.  He didn’t resist doing this for me.  Only after the truth was out could we could start again at ground zero knowing that everything was on the table.

The polygraph my husband took came back clean.  But I think it was his willingness to take the test that made me really believe that not only did I have the truth about our past – but that his intentions for our future were on par with mine.

In my boundaries/consequences list I have indicated that we will do yearly polygraphs for at least the first 3 years since discovery.  The concept of a lie detector has a horrible stigma attached – but it is exactly like having a former drug addict pee into a cup.  It’s simply a tool we can use to verify a sexaholics sobriety.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It comforts me to know that I have this tool to use.  If I ever have reason to ask “was he really where he said he was” I know that the truth really will come out.

I have suggested to friends in similar situations that they might want to explore the option of using a polygraph.  Some have, some haven’t.  I believe the difference is that some people truly want to know the truth.  Others would rather live with a bit of denial and aren’t quite ready for 100% disclosure.  It’s a personal decision but one worth considering.  Why cause yourself undue anxiety over a husbands real or imagined activities.

Everyone’s path is different.  I can only share what worked for me.  I really needed to know the truth in order to start again.  And my husband really needed to realize that he is still loved, even after I learned every horrible thing about his behavior.  What an empowering way to live.  What a great foundation on which to learn to be honest.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now that sluttyness is mainstream, where will we go next?

I was a promiscuous girl.  I grew up in the 80’s when the movie “the sure thing” was popular.  If you aren’t familiar, it’s about a guy who hears about a girl on the other side of the country who was so easy that he planned a trip to California to get laid.  In my high school, I was that sure thing.  More than one guy showed up on my doorstep after football practice knowing full well that I would take his virginity.  I was an anomaly.

My slutty behavior continued through college even though I had a boyfriend.  I was the gal that would go back to a guys dorm for sex and when we were done would ask if he had a roommate who I could do.  I was bad with a capital B.  There wasn’t another single girl in my sorority that behaved as I did.  My friends tolerated the way I was, but they frowned upon it.

After college I learned to tone down my behavior – actually, I just learned to hide it from work colleagues – but I was still pretty loose.  It was just 10 years ago when I was at a bar with a group of good friends.  I saw a guy I fancied from across the room.  He was in line to use the restroom.  I said to my pals “be right back….I am going to fuck that dude in the bathroom”.  They watched in awe as I approached the guy, chatted for about 10 seconds and then entered the bathroom with him.  7 minutes later we exited and that was that.  Two satisfied adults.  My friends weren’t prudes, but they were completely shocked by my behavior.

The point to this is that the way I acted wasn’t common.  I was a rarity.  It wasn’t the case that others were doing the same thing but doing it more discreetly.  They truly weren’t acting as I was.  Not in high school, not in college and certainly not as 30 year olds.  I mean, there were a few girls along the way who had bad reputations – I’m sure I wasn’t the worst of them – not by a long shot.  But we were an unusual breed.

All this has suddenly changed.  With the growth of Craigslist, Tinder, Grinder and these other hook up apps it’s become completely acceptable to give into spur of the minute sexual desires with complete strangers.  No one is hiding this behavior – in fact, they are flaunting it.  There is an entire generation of people who are looking for sex without intimacy.  They are trying to outdo one another with the number of strangers they have hooked up with.  It’s become something of a badge of honor to be able to behave in this manner.

I’m positive this change in behavior has to do with the fact that recent technology keeps people from connecting.  They type away on their twitters, instagrams and text rather than look a person in the eye and get to know them the old fashioned way.  No one learns basic communication skills and without them there is no chance of becoming truly intimate with another.  If kids aren’t learning to connect in the real world, it’s no surprise then that connecting in the bedroom would be unappealing and maybe not even possible.

I am starting to understand the reasons behind my own past messed up behavior – family of origin stuff, childhood molestation, a date rape or two, etc.  I avoided intimacy and instead sought danger. But I was just one person.  What are we going to do with a whole army of these people…and how is it going to change our world?

Cheaters tip # 1: Know who you are f-cking around with better than they know you

A friend Erika is dealing with a horrible side affect from her husband’s infidelity.  A stalker.  

Erika’s husband is an addict.  He is also a douche bag. That fact has nothing to do with this story but just had to be said.

Erika thought her hubby had been ‘sober’ for years.  She found out 2 months ago that he had been gambling, doing some drugs and, of course, acting out sexually.  He told her that he just looked at some porn, chatted on line with some strangers and met a couple girls for dinner.  He claims he had no sex and didn’t pay any hookers or any such stuff.

One of these women who he apparently dined with now calls the house phone (they had to have the number changed), calls her husband at work, threatened to tell the wife, drives by the house, etc. She claims that she is sending legal documents to the house.  Oh my.  So this gal knows Erika’s husbands full name, work place, home address, email, home phone, wifes name, wifes cell phone.  Yet he knows NOTHING about her.  Not her last name, what car she drives, where she works – not even her last name.  

He tried to call Ashley Madison’s support center to get some info on the woman but their only advice was to call the police.  Thanks A.M.

This gal is obviously bat shit crazy.  Even if she did screw the husband (I have little doubt) – and even if he promised her the sun, moon and stars and various illegal exchanges- her stalking and blackmail is fatal attraction scary.  

Men’s stupidity when it comes to sex never ceases to amaze me.  The level of arrogance associated with their behavior is laughable.  

To all of you out there who believe you are going to pull off an amazing affair with mind blowing sex and no strings attached and are going to walk away when you have had enough.  Then your spouse and family are never going to find out, you won’t catch an STD,  will successfully delete or hide all history of emails, photos and phone calls from her and the only memory of it will be in your mind.  Think again.  You’ve gotta be smarter than that.  

At the very least, get the girls real name for heaven’s sake.  You never know when she is going to come back to stalk you.

 

 

Loving with my heart, not with my head

Try as I might to calm my active mind, I lean toward being an worrier and an over thinker.   I worry about things I have no control of and have a low level of anxiety on a daily basis.  To gain some false sense of control, I have historically thought myself straight out of all of my serious relationships in the past.  I would find a ‘flaw’ that I couldn’t accept and would walk away without another thought.

When I married my husband just 6 months after meeting him I knew the risk I was taking.  I realized that it could all go horribly wrong.  I also knew that if I didn’t marry him right then that I would find a reason not to do it.  I allowed myself to be hasty because something inside of me (inside of my heart) recognized that I had found a soul mate and I needed to commit.  Waiting the socially appropriate amount of time to marry him absolutely would have been the end of us.

I grew up in a family and an environment that didn’t really see divorce as an option.  So when shit hit the fan and my husbands addict wreaked havoc on our relationship, leaving him wasn’t really an immediate option.  The marriage certificate kept me by his side when the easier and more familiar thing to do would have been to leave.  In choosing to stay, I was challenging myself to find a way to forgive and love despite the massive obstacles.  I learned that the solution wasn’t entire up to him.  Marriage is a team effort and I needed to do my fair part.  The result of this has been my incredible growth as a person.  Growth that never would have occurred had I left.  Change is never easy, but it is one of the most vital parts of a rewarding life.

It’s hard to say what would have happened if I had left, but I have a pretty good idea:  1. I would have stayed with my pattern of developing temporary, unfulfilling relationships.  2. My fear of pain and imperfection would paralyze me to move forward.  3. I would be alone by choice.  

In my head I still recognized some very strong arguments why leaving would have been, and still could sound sensible.  But to really experience all that this amazing journey has to offer I willingly take the less obvious path – I push myself to sit with the uncomfortable parts – and I am a better, happier and more fulfilled person for doing so.    I still have many days when my brain wants to overrule my heart but I am finding more balance and more contentment every day.

Taking the training wheels off

It was a warm weekend day in June, 1978.  I was 8 years old and my dad had just taught me to ride a bike without the training wheels.  My confidence was at it’s height as I graduated to my big girl bike and dreamt of all the wonderful places I would go on my bike that summer.  After supper that day my best friend Kimmy came over and rang the bell.  When I answered the door she asked if I wanted to come out and play with her.  I said “No”.  I told her that I had learned how to ride a two wheeler and that I wasn’t going to be her friend anymore until she learned as well.

I looked at her disappointed face through the screen door and realized two things: 1. her dad hadn’t the patience to teach her as my father did and 2. I didn’t want to spend a single day of summer without my best friend at my side.   So I opened the door, walked outside and said “come on…I’ll show you how”.  We spent the rest of the evening with me holding the back of the seat and running beside her as she tried to balance between the training wheels.  It seems like it took forever to get her to stabilize the bicycle.  The sun was setting and we knew we would need to call it quits as soon as our parents yelled for us to come inside.  But as the North star started to shine she finally caught on.  I had taught her to ride the bike.

I wasn’t a little brat who wouldn’t play with my friend because I thought I was superior with my newly learned skills.  I had learned that we were capable of growth and was confident enough to hold my friend to a higher standard.  I was also generous enough to help her get there.  I was encouraging and helpful and in the end we had a wonderful summer riding around on our shiny new bikes.

I think marriage should be like this…and luckily, for me and my husband, it is.  We have started to hold each other to higher standards of trust, responsibility, transparency…and love.  We are also helping each other arrive at our goals.  My husband, in the midst of his crazy addiction, didn’t know how to be honest.  He didn’t believe that he could show me his weaknesses and still be accepted.  But after 50 years of living a tortured life, when he stood at my doorway and showed me that same lost look that Kimmy had I just took his hand and said “C’mon, I’ll show you how”.