Better Than Tinfoil

from Google somewhere
My counselor scribbled something in her steno pad before she asked me, “Do you have any plans in place in case you start to trigger?”

I shook my head. “Not really. I’ve been reading my S-Anon literature and even been reading the Big Book but aside from a bad dream a couple of nights ago, I’ve been doing really good. It's hard to believe that time of year is upon us again. Five years since finding out Devin's a sex addict. Time just flew by and I've been doing great lately.”

And I was. Maybe it’s because I expected the worst but hoped for the best. Perhaps it was the passage of time. I’m not sure. But last week when the anniversary of disclosure week was upon us, it was present but it wasn’t present. I really felt good about Devin and I. We were, and still are, on a healthy path. We've been communicating well. We've been sticking to our own recoveries and been working on our marriage and doing things as a couple. Just doing great overall. I can't complain. No. Really. I can't. All really is going well in our corner of the world. (And it's nice not to be in the mindset of waiting for the other shoe to drop - what a nice change from a few years ago, huh, long time readers?)

Devin and I talked about disclosure week before it arrived. I told him to be on the lookout for me being extra sensitive or snarky (who me?). Or if I was withdrawn, don’t be afraid to ask why a few extra times, cause you know us ladies; sometimes we don’t like to answer the first time we’re asked.

There was a moment when I had to take a step back and dive into my recovery work, reflect on where we were rather than where we had been, but when that was finished…maybe thirty minutes…I was right as rain again.

That’s just as it should be too. It’s been five years since that dreaded week that I found out about his sex addiction. That's a long time. I shouldn’t be focused on what happened during that week. I should be focused on how far we’ve come as a couple and the fact we are celebrating ten years of marriage. How awesome is that?

The traditional ten-year gift is tin. Does that mean we should’ve exchanged tinfoil? I’m thinking no. Instead, we decided to look at Christmas lights. It was beautiful. Much better than tinfoil. 

How about you? Have you done anything holiday related yet?

The Powerful Subconscious

My weekend was not starting out the best.  Don’t worry, it gets better, but it started crappy, that’s for sure.

Devin and I argued on Wednesday night.  Yes, I’m backing up to Wednesday night.  It’s my blog so I can do that.  You do what you want on your blog.  It was over something very trivial but instead of discussing it before we went to bed, we ignored each other.  The next morning we each waited for the other to apologize.  That never happened.  High expectations led to resentments.

I figured we would sit down and talk about it when he got home from work.  That didn’t happen either.  He texted me and said he had to go to Home Depot, then the book store, then his old school.  He let me know he wouldn’t be home for dinner.  I asked him why he was at his old school but I never heard back. 

I glanced at the clock and saw it was 6:00 p.m.   I reasoned he was probably visiting the guys he worked with.  I was going to send another text but decided against it.  If he couldn’t be courteous enough to glance at his phone, who was I to nag him about it?

An hour later the PTSD from the relational trauma kicked in.  It was like I had Trauma on one shoulder and Healing on the other.  “He’s up there emailing random women right now,” Trauma would whisper.  “No, he’s feeling rejected at home and accepted up there.  It’s part of the sex and love addiction,” Healing would whisper in my other ear. 

For hours the two battled it out in my head but Trauma won.  I was convinced Devin was up to no good although my gut and my brain were telling me it wasn’t true.  I went to bed feeling defeated.  I woke up the next morning, Devin gone for work, and a text message from the night before saying “Sorry, didn’t feel my phone vibrate. I’m on my way home. I’ve been hanging out with my old co-workers.”  Just like Healing whispered in my ear.

The next day, we didn’t speak until he came home from his SAA meeting.  I explained my trigger and he apologized for not checking his phone sooner and causing me anxiety.  He described how being at the college with his friends made him feel like he belonged somewhere when he felt excluded by me.

We decided we have a lot of work to do in the communication department but I feel like we are always moving in the right direction.  He has an updated diagnosis of SLA (sex and love addiction) vs SA (sex addiction).  I really can’t say too much about it because it’s brand new to me too.  From what I’ve learned so far, it makes sense.  To be honest, it’s his journey to explore, not mine.  I’ll do a little bit of research here and there so I know the basics about it but I won’t obsess over it like I did SA.  The days of obsession are long gone.

However, the days of triggering are not.  We went to his company’s picnic yesterday.  For some reason, while I was getting myself all dolled up, I reflected back on his military unit’s picnic a few year’s back.  I suppose it was because this was the first time I was meeting everyone at his new company and that made me think of meeting everyone at his unit picnic too. 

During the time of the unit picnic, Devin was still acting out and I had no idea.  I thought he was just really into porn.  I didn’t realize he was having online affairs.  So, as I applied my make-up, I had to do some deep breathing exercises to calm myself down and then I did my Serenity Prayer and felt much better.

The picnic was very nice, until I met the woman Devin went to lunch with.  I triggered again.  What in the world was going on with me?  On the outside I was still composed and smiling but on the inside I was crumbling. 

When we got home, Devin asked if I was okay. I told him about the trigger and he asked what he could do.  We talked about his “walls and windows” a phrase from a book we both read.  He assured me his boundaries are in place at work. After some time alone, I decided I needed to hand this over to God.  I needed to Let It Go and trust my gut.  I had nothing to tell me anything felt “off” with Devin.  There are no red flags.

Then this evening, I opened up my laptop and saw the date.  It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since my first disclosure.  I guess my subconscious remembered, after all.  At least now I know why I’ve been so triggery!  Now that I know the why, I think the triggers will be old news.

The good news is, Devin and I decided to focus on just he and I this week and have a date night!  Shrimp scampi here I come!!

As The Clutter Clears

“Here are the stack of Christmas cards from the last few years.” Devin said, as he handed me the large pile. “I kept a few from my Nan and Mom. Do you want to go through the rest and see if there are any you want to keep?”

I was impressed by this small step in progress.  Devin was taking another inch forward of letting go of clutter and paper. Weighing the difference between sentimental and not. His medicine really seemed to be working.  I continued to remain cautiously optimistic.

I laughed as I found my mom’s card from last year.  Her handwriting done, best she could manage, an incomplete sentence and “Love Mom” at the bottom.  Best card ever!  I kept another from an aunt who recently got some disturbing news on the health front and put a few others aside as I divvied up the pile.

I came across a small, black Christmas card signed “Merry Christmas! then her name.  (Her husband's and children have been omitted).  I read the card again.  All of our names were listed and all of their names listed then the flood of memories came rushing back. 

She was Devin’s first affair partner.  The first person he crossed the physical line with.  No sex was involved, not even kissing. A flash and a touch but you don't do such things when you are married, sorry folks.

The memories of disclosure came flooding back.  The memories of Jessie and her family spending the night in my home as they traveled down the east coast flashed through my mind.  Her kids playing with mine, me cooking for her family while being deceived the entire time. 

Quickly, I took some deep, calming breaths.  I thought of the present, the here and now and took a mental inventory of where I was. I remembered all of the progress Devin and I had made in the  time since the disclosure, his remorse, his empathy and it grounded me.

I handed the card to Devin and asked, “Why is this in here?”  My heart still beating like a drum but calming just a bit, but no tears were nearby.  Then couldn’t help but snap, “Really?”

Devin read the card, his expression one of confusion and worry and then it clicked, he realized who the card was from.  I could tell from his reaction he assumed the card was someone from my side of the family, someone he didn’t know.

“I didn’t know, I’m so sorry.”  He got up and threw the card into the kitchen garbage and came back and hugged me tightly.

“I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.” Was all I could muster for the time being.  I went into the bedroom and prayed for strength.  I grabbed my affirmation cards and read them several times until I remember just how damn strong I am.  I am stronger than my triggers. 

Ten minutes later, I was back in the living room and feeling just fine.  I let him know I was doing great and thanked him for doing the right thing and let him know I knew he probably thought it someone from my family which made me feel better, it showed she meant nothing to him.

Then it was Devin’s turn to hit his emotional rock bottom.

It wouldn’t hit him for another twenty-four hours and as I type this, I am grateful he was able to find the strength to overcome it.  I have never seen my husband so hopeless before, so emotionally broken.  It was scary.  It had me frightened enough to call our counselor on Monday, the day of his appointment and share my concern with her.

I was concerned his recent increase in his medication had caused this depressive state.  The things he was saying he hadn’t said since disclosure week and no matter how much I tried to support and love him, he was still sinking into a pit of despair. 

It wasn’t until after his appointment with our counselor, I realized his meds might actually be allowing him to reflect, to think, now that the confusion has died down.  Seeing me trigger, without having that noise in his head, may have really caused him to focus on the core issue:  his addiction, which he’s been avoiding lately.

Either way, after his appointment, he came home and we talked for a very, very long time.  He admitted he has a lot to think about and he needs to communicate better with me, the kids and his sponsor.  He’s been happier ever since.  So, my rockin’ counselor – thank you!

How Do You Unplant A Seed?

How do you unplant a seed?  One that has already grown roots into well-nurtured grounds?  The roots extend so deeply that the plant sprouts it’s festering, annoying twigs and twines in the cracks and crevices of the most dark and unexpected places.  Loving care to the topsoil has been applied.  It’s been cultivated and tilled.  It’s even begun to show signs of new life as flowers of beautiful new color begin to bloom.  Yet, unexpectedly and without warning, up springs the weeds of doubt and fear.  Strangling the flowers, bringing the flowers of hope to their knees.  Causing them to cry out in pain, causing their heartbeat to flutter ceaselessly.  Tears of panic dampen the soil giving the weeds a chance to spread and grow.  Relational PTSD has left its mark on the flower’s leaves.  The hurtful words will not darken the sky. The unknowns on the screen will not cause old fears.  The flowers reach for the sun, breaking the hold of the trigger.  Blooming they become stronger, prettier, healthier than ever before.

November 26, 2012.  Trigger. Prompted from argument/text from guy crossing boundaries

Background info 

(As always, I understand it can be difficult to find the right words to comment on a post like this, no worries.)

My Affirmations and Reminder

My Affirmation and My Reminder

I am strong

I am beautiful

I am confident

I feel good about my body

I am worth only the best

I am thinking loving thoughts about Devin and myself

I am unique and special

I am stronger than my triggers!!!

All is well in my world

I am calm

I am relaxed

I am at peace

I trust the process of life

I am supported and loved

I can handle this

I trust in God

I am powerful

I didn’t cause it

I can’t cure it

I can’t control it

But I can take care of myself

By communicating feelings, making healthy choices

And celebrating myself.

(all written on index cards and kept within easy reach)

The above affirmation and reminder is just one of the tools I use to help me get through a trigger when it rears it’s ugly head.  I thought I would share it with those of you who may be dealing with this as well.  Never forget, you are never alone.  For over a year I did very well with my triggers.  They were so seldom, I was blessed enough to almost forget how horrendous they truly are. 

I know that time will come again.  I’m already moving forward in my healing and in my recovery because I’ve got some fantastic tools at my disposal and I’ll share them in detail tomorrow.

My triggers are lessening, and yours will too.  I’m happy to see that you followed me from my old blog and I hope that you’re doing well.  Many heartfelt hugs go out to you guys.