Life is not about control. It is about surrendering to God. Why is this so hard?
I remember back when I was first married. I had no clue how to handle triggers. I would panic. Were they accurate. Was my intuition correct? YES...MOST of the the time. How did I handle them? PANIC! Inside my heart rate would increase. Unfortunately for me it seemed my blood pressure did the opposite and decreased (I suffer from low blood pressure that only seemed to get lower under stress). I ended up passing out many times. Cortisol and Adrenaline would run through my body as if I needed to fight off a lion or a tiger or better yet a dragon. I wouldn't need to run or fight but I would start looking for the dragon as if could somehow discover it's hiding place and shielding the prey as if I could protect him from the dragon. The dragon was very good at stalking his prey and very good at hiding from the loved ones who were trying to protect the prey. There was a real dragon to fight all those years of lies and deceit....it was pornography (sexual addiction in all it's forms as it progressed to new levels in our home of the same addiction to lust to numb REAL life in unhealthy ways).
For years I would feel this way and be denied there was anything wrong...I was the CRAZY one for even thinking this. To justify his feelings and actions, he would BLAME me. I would beg and even fight for intimacy and connection. If we had a good fight, I could at least feel something besides emptiness and loneliness for a husband that would connect with me. The thing is that addicts have LITTLE (wanted to say no) ability to connect. He does not know how and his ability even in brain capacity to connect with real people decreases because of frontal lobe damage as a result of drug addiction changes.
I still don't really know what I was to him all those years but what I felt like was I was in the way frequently of his acting out (I know he loved me in a mother of my children, trapped by by other life, and don't want to lose my family kind of way....I think). Excuses were needed to be alone or leave the house.
The only way to cope over the years was to die inside. The lies and lack of connection reached a point that the only way to stay in prison was to shut down. NOT FEEL the pain, the shock, the loneliness, and a need to greatly decrease the contention. I was tired of fighting. I was tired of crying and sitting in a closet curled up in ball (to this day he says this only happened a few times....it happened hundreds) and feelings of pain so intense your heart could break. My heart was stomped on so many times and put back in and told to feel happy, love, sexual feelings, and that it was my fault for being so critical and belittling. I DIED to live, to breathe, to survive. It was the only way I knew to survive. It is so sad but I read Victor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning" a few weeks ago and I related. I related to his experience in a concentration camp. I love his quote:
"An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior"
My shock I felt at first was normal. According to Frankl it the first state of psychological reactions. It is not normal in a marriage...
- to be lied to
- to be told you are attacking, critical, and belittling when you are trying to make sense of the craziness
- to have a spouse not able to connect at all (OK an ANT Automatic Negative Thinking... connects rarely)
- to have more and more lies and told you are crazy for thinking such thoughts
- for tears with no empathy in return
- money problems that he seems to not care about and seems only concerned with his need for hiding some for food and sex addiciton (and claims he cares and you are crazy for your concern to feed clothe and shelter your family....isn't that his job too?)
- sex given out of a check off list because if you don't you are a bad wife (yes he always still wanted sex with me; I know some women this is not the case that husbands actually decrease the sex they want to have with them but it is the same craziness)
- working so hard to increase my spirituality and begging the Lord to help me feel love towards him.
- if I could be a robot sexually then our marriage would be better because then I wouldn't feel bad at my inability to meet his needs because he continued to push I was the problem to a way only addicts can do well. (now I know this was all done because his desperate need to keep both of his worlds going at the same time. In a warped way if I was the problem then it is justified that he can act out.)
- continual denying there was any looking at pornography or masturbation. Never any computer history. Intimate moment promised of faithfulness and loyalty.
- Feeling dirty during sex.
- More and more LIES
The second stage a prisoner (referring to his experience in a concentration camp for years) goes through is he does not avert his eyes any more. ..."His feelings were blunted, and he watched unmoved...the prisoner soon surrounded himself with a very necessary protective shell" This is true no matter what kind a trauma a person experiences.
So with these things going on in my life since the beginning. I DIED. My heart could not take any more shock. I became an expert and feeling numb. I coped with eating till I had no feelings left. I gained weight (5 or 10 pounds) and would then lose that weight. I yo-yo'd up and down for years trying to not feel any pain. I knew i was depressed and I tried to overcome it. I wanted to be happy. We were broke and I never thought to reach out. It was my secret and I suffered alone. I started exercising to overcome my depression. I loved it and fell in love with it. It was the only time during my day that I felt happy, in control, and able to cope with my food and not want to binge. I fell in love with running, biking, hiking, yoga, and Pilate's. I learned about health. I knew I was depressed and had low energy. I just believed all the negative hype about medication. I didn't need it. I would just pray more and God would heal me from my inability to feel, my depression, and anxiety.
I wanted to be a good mom. I loved my little children (now they are bigger but then my big kids were little). I loved nursing my babies. I loved to lay down and nurse them and hold them close to me. It felt so real. Those moments I cherish and hold so close to my heart. My days overall were just lonely struggles with depression (and now I know inattentive ADD masked behind depression) and trying not be so depressed that I couldn't function. My house was (and still is) in various stages of disarray (I have improved with my increased mental health and feeling like I can function).
Life was really hard but I was trying to be NORMAL. Have a normal marriage in all appearances, work harder at my marriage. I read a stack of marriage books (now I can't even open a marriage book at all) and hoping we could have a better marriage. I was always full of guilt at not being good enough. I canned fruit, made my Christmas gifts, cooked, tried to garden with a focus on saving money, being healthy, and living within our means. It became more difficult to accomplish things so I stopped starting things. I wanted to be a mom. I remember when I was in nursing school. Where do you want to work? I just want to be a mom but I want my education as well and felt driven to finish.
Less than a year ago I started therapy. I remember my first appointment. He said I don't care what he does. I want you to be happy. You can be happy no matter what he decides to do. You can be HAPPY whether you stay married or divorced. WHAT? NO WAY? NOT POSSIBLE!!! (and by the way he is the problem and I have nothing wrong with me....NOT!)
Well I am here to tell you that there is HOPE.
Therapy is crucial for betrayal trauma. Your thinking is so inaccurate that it takes a third party. It takes alot of work but most of it is done by letting go. Yes my greatest work has been letting go of the work (or control) of those around me. My husband and kids. My son who struggles with porn addiction and I couldn't even protect him from the dragon. My husband who I really have never been able to control (even though I never was intentionally trying to control him but did try often).
By letting go, I had room in my heart to learn who I AM. Who I want to be. To be free from his addiciton cycles (even though at this post he is suppose to have almost a year of sobriety- he is not free from addiction (food) or the cycles or possibly even acting out). It is really powerful and healing to let go.
Medication has also been VERY important for me. I believed all the lies on the Internet that medication does not really help. Treatment of mental health is very important with medication and talk therapy. I have tried many medications from family doctors but going to a psychiatrist has been crucial because that is what they do every day. They know what to try if one is not as effective. They follow up more effectively. I am learning to feel again. YES FEEL!!! When I feel an urge to cry, I am so glad because that means I can actually feel hurt, sadness, pain and hopefully may even feel love someday. I love my husband for children he has given us, covenants I have kept, kids who love their dad, and providing (he has always gone to work but not always provided our needs...he is always blessed in this area when he is having some sobriety.)
So my husband has been working LOTS lately. He comes home for dinner and goes back to work till 11 or 12 at night. Is he really working...I think so. Can I do anything to find out? YES. I could drive 30 minutes to his work and see if his car is there at night. I could sneak into his car and his the trip button and see if he is really going just to work. I could call his work number instead of his cell number and see if he is really sitting at his desk. This is what I used to do. I would panic and spend hours doing these things. Plotting to find evidence.
I enjoyed my evening. I read to my kids. We had family scriptures and prayers. I had a neighbor girl I pay to help me once a week clean out my fridge. It felt so good to have a clean fridge. I then got ready for bed. I decided to call my husband and even tell him good night, which most nights I have not done. I call....no answer. I finish getting ready for bed and I lay in bed and call again...no answer. I feel triggered!!!
I say to myself:. SELF: "I am feeling triggered. Is he really at work? Why is he not answering his phone?..."STOP MIND", I say to self....these are not healthy thoughts. I will only become anxious and not able to sleep.
Is it my problem if he is not at work? NO!
Is it my problem if his not following the commandments? NO!
Do I need to lose sleep over what he is doing? NO!
I close my eyes and think about the YOGI in me. FOCUS on just my breathing. I do not need to be anxious. It does me no good. Focus on the breath. Next thing I know it is morning and I am waking up fully rested. No whirlwind of emotions.
I said to hubby, "I tried to call last night to say good night but you didn't answer". Response: "I am so sorry. It was turned off. I see now that you called (as he looks at his phone)"
"Did you have a good evening at work?" "Yes I did"
This is the end of our conversation.
Do I feel safe? NO!
Do I feel loved? NO!
Do I have sex when I don't feel connected? No! Hence we not had sex in 7 weeks (sorry if TMI) and have had no connection since then. He honors this because I won't live the life of a robot anymore. Intimacy is required. He just does not know how and we have a long way to go. I am OK with that. I am just trying to be healthy and take care of me.
Is he lying? Possibly but I can't stress over things that cause me suffering for things that I have not done. I do not have to suffer for my husband. He needs to suffer for his own actions. If I walk around in pain every second, I am only hurting myself. If something is still hurting 2 weeks after, I have not handled it correctly.
Does that mean I don't feel hurt, pain, or suffer. NO!. I feel these things but I can't feel these things for long periods of time. I must use the appropriate resources to deal with them in a healthy manner. Talk to a friend. Write in a journal. Exercise. Make an emergency counseling appointment (helps me the most). Even talk to your spouse about how you feel but if no empathy is there, you have to be OK with that or you may just feel more pain, hurt, and suffering.
So after I woke up this morning I still felt peace in my heart, rested, trigger gone, and ready to have an awesome day.
I have to take each trigger and approach each one with knowing it is just a trigger. I can work through it. They are real and intense automatic reactions . Dealing with them is important. I also try to prevent them. I don't go to movies with spouse, no beaches, little TV, don't look at covers at grocery stands, etc. Funny how I feel like I am being careful to keep him safe but in reality my only goal now is to protect myself from triggers. I used to have a goal of protecting him and keep him safe. That is a crazy way to live!!!
I am learning how to be RESILIENT. I will continue to to journal about this process. I love this word RESILIENT.