Cashing Checks

“You write checks with your words, and cash them with your actions.”

Profound statement, and one made by a beautiful young wife, pregnant with her first child, whose husband has struggled. The majority of his infidelity has been electronic relationships – porn – however he also reached out for a flesh person a couple times.

The brave young couple has chosen to work toward recovery (him – from sex addiction) and healing (her) and reconciliation (them). They have a long journey, but have made smart strides: individual and couple counseling. Recovery groups. Intensive marriage weekend. They have hope right now, and as coaches walking alongside them in the journey, HUSBAND and I have hope with them. And for their unborn child. And for all those who follow after their new marriage, their covenant of love.

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Back to the quote.

You write checks with your words. You cash them with your actions.

Therefore if your words are worthless, the check bounces.

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Being New.

HUSBAND and I attend a unique support group. He with men, sex addicts, for a time and I with women, betrayeds. Then we come together as couples. It is a powerful time, and we leave bolstered in our me-ness and our us-ness and it is good.

During our time together last week, HUSBAND shared. He shared that it is closing in on two years of complete and utter truth for him, and truth between us – two years from the time the trickle-truth DDays ended and I had a clear understanding of who the man that had shared my head and my heart and my bed and my life really was. He shared that he had worked really hard to be the same in his words that he was in his actions. That he had put fences around his behavior and checks around his actions and accountability around his emotions.

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He shared that he had taken care to change even small behaviors…things like not exaggerating the amount he spent on something or what time he was leaving his office. That he has faced the emotional pain and fear and stories that were deep down in his soul and worked hard to quiet them. That he has committed to carefully speak his needs with honesty and to continue to be vulnerable in the roller coaster of my emotions and to continue to be sorry no matter what or why or who or how long.

And then he struggled to explain, but ended up sharing that it was incredible what was happening. That he realizes he has begun to believe he is this man, this new man. That he is beginning to realize that he is becoming honest and learning to live in truth – really – from a deep, core place of who he is. He shared that the freedom he has is incredible and the lure to move away from truth in his words, through his thoughts, by his actions is less tempting.

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HUSBAND looked at me, then. He shared that he could not believe what he had done. That as the man he said he was and the man he is becoming synthesize together he looks back in great shame and shock and disgust and sees now…he was “that man.” And he took my hand with tender tears in his eyes and shared with me…and with the other couples in the room…that he could not believe I had stayed by his side. He shared that he didn’t think he could…now that he was beginning to really, completely comprehend the magnitude of betrayal he had woven through our lives, he just didn’t know if he could be me if the roles were reversed.

It was a stunning moment, a moment of illumination, a moment of searing pain and remarkable agony somehow moving between the two of us and we were sharing the hurt together. And sharing the healing together. The new man and the new woman and the new marriage, together in an oddly wrapped and shaped package of precious love. A package clearly and utterly covered with the battle-wounds of our lives, and the blood of the One who showed us the path through the forest of pain so we could reach this place called freedom. This place, this tender and amazing place, called love.

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Broken-Open

So I took the 30-day alphabet challenge during the month of April, writing every day of the month except Sundays. I do not write ahead; rather each day I search for the direction of the moment and follow those thoughts and they result in my posts. Doing that for 26 days out of thirty took lots from my soul. HUSBAND asked me to take a respite after that and at first I scoffed thinking I did not need a break. Seems he knew me better than I knew myself – I needed it. I’ve missed you all and am glad to be back.

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And that brings me to here.

Today. June 1, 2016. A day that I can boldly say is better than June 1, 2015 or 2014 or 2013 or for all my married years prior to now.

How…why…can it be better to be the wife of a sex-addict, to know it? Wasn’t it better to live in the bliss of naiveté? To be unaware that HUSBAND found other women repeatedly throughout our marriage – whether real flesh and blood – or screen images that gave him things that only exist in fantasy?

No. No it wasn’t. It wasn’t for me.

Today is better than the last two years because I am two years out from finding out the awful reality of being a betrayed. Two years of living a progressively less violent emotional roller coaster. Two years of rolling memories around in my brain and reliving moments and trying to make sense of them and going through the cycles of grief again and again. Two years of learning to deal with triggers and a flood of pain that takes my breath away and mind invasions and questions with no answers and self-blame and hatred and overwhelming love. It is who I am now, indelibly stamped on my being and whether I remained married or left to have a different life this is me – me – forever and always.

Today is better than last year when I was a year out. 2015 was filled with anniversaries: One year from anonymous email and finding out HUSBAND was unhappy. One year from several weeks later and finding out HUSBAND was having an affair. One year from several weeks later and finding out HUSBAND’s affair wasn’t what he first revealed and included more time with his AP and more, well, more. One year from several weeks later and finding out there were more affairs. One year from several weeks later from finding out about family betrayal and friend betrayal. One year from several weeks later from finding out there was porn and masturbation and addiction. A year of one years, each one forcing me to take out that date and hold it in my hand and heart and try to decide if it was worth it. I could only look at that one moment, that one day, and step forward.

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And the year before…2014…such a looming wall of torment when I go back to those moments. Reading the anonymous email. Finding the letter of love and devotion from the current affair partner. The conversations and conversations and conversations and conversations with HUSBAND. The realization that pain inside could seep into every fiber of my being and wrack me with sobs that started in my heart and raced into every limb and digit and through every vein and capillary and occupied every cell and screamed and cried and begged for the hurt to stop. Oh the moments of not-wanting-to-die yet not-wanting-to-live or rather not-knowing-how-to-live or not-knowing-what-living-was and just not even being able to breathe. The shame. The guilt. The anger. The hurt. The abandonment. The confusion. The lies and the lies and the lies and the lies that I now knew had been my life.

The years before. They were good. I thought they were good. Or at least mostly. I thought that and yet now that they are good – really, really good – I can see they weren’t so good. I didn’t know about the women in HUSBAND’s life, true, but I always knew I wanted more with and in our relationship. I wanted to be cherished, to be considered deeply from a heart place. I wanted to share dreams and be able to be sad together when they didn’t happen without worrying it would make HUSBAND feel bad or like a failure. I wanted to be able to dream more and again and different without worrying it would make HUSBAND feel like I could never make up my mind. I wanted to be able to touch and be touched in public and private and to exchange glances that spoke volumes across a room and have private jokes that weren’t laced with sarcasm and know that above all else, I could count on being adored and protected.

Sometimes I pretended I had that throughout my marriage. But I didn’t.

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Up until the time the true nature of my marriage was revealed, I counted my words. I timed my conversations and wrapped that in the lingo of various women’s magazines and self-help journals and even religious teachings about wisdom and being gentle-tongued and a Proverbs 31 wife. I wanted so badly to have a deeply allied and intimate relationship that really was one flesh in every sense of the word and I acted like that was what we had and told myself that was what we had. But it wasn’t true.

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That is why June 1, 2016 is so incredibly different. So incredibly good. Because now, it is so incredibly real.

No walls. No masks. No space between our one flesh.

My addict HUSBAND became broken open through the revelations. My addict HUSBAND has committed all the fiber of his being to recovery and loving himself and loving me. I became broken open through agony, and that pain has poured out all the layers and layers and layers of pretensions and excuses and craziness and self-lies. No layers now between us. No secrets and hidden things and carefully (manipulated) thought-out words to try to get the other to respond the way we want them to. All those things that I wanted and had convinced myself only exist in chick-flicks live in my house now. They live in my words and my relationship and my bed. I. Am. Loved.

June 1, 2016. Two people, broken-open and meshed together into one. Battle-scarred, far-from-perfect but oh, so beautiful.

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Essential Enabler

With addictions, there are often, if not always, people around who “enable.” We all know this. We all have seen it or lived it or read about it, and I never wanted to be an enabler. I did not see myself as an enabler before I knew addiction lived in my house. I was determined to raise strong, independent children who would grow into strong, independent adults so when they forgot their lunches? They ate the proverbial peanut-and-butter-on-white-bread sandwich and drank water supplied by the cafeteria – no running the forgotten lunch to the school for this mom. Didn’t get the permission slip signed? Missed the field trip – no frantic return to school to provide the missing document for me…or how would they ever learn? No way, no chance I was going to raise an enabled child – huh, uh. Not me.

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Except there was one little problem in my plan.

I was an enabler.

See…an enabler can look kind of good in many ways. And when you grew up in that kind of home, it is all you know…your way of life…part of your DNA. Some of the things enablers do? And that I do, NO, that I did?

  • Enablers act out of a sincere sense of love, loyalty and concern: I honestly loved HUSBAND. Adored my children. Had high levels of concern for all and was loyal – to a fault.
  • Enablers step in to protect, cover-up for, makes excuses for and sometimes take responsibility for others: Even though I worked overtime on the obvious to NOT do this, over and over and over I did each of these things. When HUSBAND abandoned me during important times (story for another blog) I made excuses and covered up. When he treated someone poorly, I took the blame – he often even made me the heavy knowing I WOULD take the blame.
  • Enablers avoid potential problems by working to keep peace…doing whatever they can to avoid conflict thinking this will actually solve problems: Funny that I could see this so clearly in my own mother and determined not to do it…yet upon close examination, I did the same. You know, avoiding subjects. Not saying how you feel to avoid conflict. Curbing your ask to make it more palatable. Yup, I was a master who learned from a master.
  • Enablers have a hard time expressing their feelings, often keeping emotions inside: This one was tricky, because I acted like I had emotions. However, I stuffed my real feelings so deep inside that I didn’t even know what they were. I was STRONG. I was EMPOWERED. I didn’t need anyone or anything. Of course, that girl was impenetrable but really deeply wounded, deeply needing to be cherished and valued and loved.
  • Enablers minimize situations thinking “the problem” will get better later: Over and over and over. Again, I acted as if I was facing issues. HUSBAND and I went to counseling from time to time. We went to marriage classes and family seminars and family groups and all that stuff. But the real meat of pain and sources of confusion? Just couldn’t quite go there even though I fooled myself into thinking we had and were.
  • Enablers tend to lecture, blame or criticize the person they are enabling: This really doesn’t need more explanation. Other than it is tied to protecting, covering-up and making excuses. After doing so, HUSBAND would get a lecture to which he’d respond “I’ll do better.”
  • Enablers sometimes take over the responsibilities of the person they are enabling. They will cover up for them, pick up their slack and come to the rescue – all to minimize consequences: Again…doesn’t need much more explanation. But if this is you, then you know you likely pay the bills, select and purchase the presents – even for his family, explain to others why you forgot the event/party/funeral/etc, complete the expense reports for HIS company/work, write the reports for HIS company/work…the list goes on. Interesting, though, how HUSBAND was fantastic about planning hunting trips, fishing trips, fucking trips…didn’t need any help there…
  • Enablers are good at enduring…convincing themselves that this, too, shall pass: A life mantra…
  • Enablers believe in waiting…often believing God will take care of this: He has a plan and all that…
  • Enablers give one more chance. Then another one more chance. Then another one more chance… Story of my life with HUSBAND, pre discovery of the double-life.

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So DDAY sucked. But it started me on a path of self-discovery like no other event or time before. My healing and journey and changes have been important no matter the outcome or state of our marriage. This…THIS is what I had to recognize, to grieve, to let go of and to change about myself. NOT to save my marriage…to save me. Whether I stayed married to HUSBAND or moved on, this would follow me unless I learned to see it, to purge it, to learn new ways to approach old things. I had to find my voice, a healthy, non-manipulative voice that could recognize and care for me – share my needs and hopes and wishes and dreams and allow myself to feel – DEEPLY – without fear. I have put that essential enabler in a grave, alongside my old marriage, and today am living in a freedom I never knew existed. The essential enabler has become a healthy human.

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Decisions

I’ve always been a fairly good decision-maker. A person who can discern between the time when deep thought and consideration need to be considered, and when it is okay to move quickly and with little thought. I don’t typically get overwhelmed or bogged down with decisions – don’t stress too much if the reds in the stripe on one material match precisely with the floral on another. Food tasting before an event is more to ensure the overall mix of selections than the specific ingredient of an individual item, and whether to attend one barre class or another is based solely on my schedule, not the teacher or the content of the class.

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I puzzle about people who struggle incessantly over some decisions – like how to wear their hair or what shoes to buy. Those types of decisions can be so easily changed…hair grows out, there is always another pair of shoes if you return the ones you ended up not liking…

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Some decisions, no matter how carefully considered, just are beyond our ability to completely control. Like college acceptance, when – and if – to have a baby.

And whether to marry a cheater.

HUSBAND came into our marriage with a past he chose not to share. To hear him tell the story now, he didn’t think I would marry him – decide on him – if I knew who and what he really was, so he pretended to be the person that he thought he had decided to be. Except he really didn’t know how. He didn’t know how to quit being the person with the choices and habits and ways that he’d been for the years before we married, but he knew how to talk as if he was that person.

So I decided to marry him. Even though, looking back, a couple people gave me little pieces of information that I could have delved into…I decided because what I saw, and what I heard from him, and what he acted like were just the man to love me forever, to walk with me through the ups and downs of life, to help me become the best me I could, and work toward the same in himself with me at his side.

The decision was made without some important information. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and for a long time, HUSBAND kept it all from me. Within two years he had slipped into old ways, hated himself for it, and I was none the wiser. A few years later, he repeated the cycle and again, I didn’t know. I was moving along in and through life oblivious that the decisions I had made on some very important issues were based on some blatantly missing information.

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HUSBAND danced a lot, creating diversions to keep me from being able to discern the spaces between truth and lies. He used lots of humor, always the nice guy, and tripped over himself to make sure his lies stayed hidden. He kept me away from some people, out of sorts with others, and at bay emotionally from himself. Meanwhile I – we – kept making various decisions but only he knew what the deck really looked like. It was exhausting for him, and crazy making for me and never really satisfying for us both.

So after affair three got revealed, and the woven in lies and infidelities and porn and sex addiction and pre-marital deceptions all came tumbling down, I got to make some decisions.

These were tougher than some of the decisions in the past. But at least I was now able to understand the missing pieces in my own life, and in his.

So what did I decide? Stay tuned, and we will find out.

Close.

Close – the verb: to block or hinder progress; to stop or obstruct; to come to an end – terminate; to make imperceptive or impossible.
Close – the adjective: close proximity in space and time; marked by similarity in degree, action or feeling; based on a strong uniting feeling of respect, honor, love.

I’ve been close to love and then the opportunity closed. I’ve been closed to an idea and then a close call caused me to reconsider my position. I have yearned to be close to my teenager, but he was closed to it.

I think I spent a good part of my life being close to it, close to intimacy, close to love, but because there were so many deeply hidden places that were closed, I could never quite get there. I found someone else who learned to look open but was really closed, and together we got close but since we were closed we never could get really close…even though it appeared we were. We didn’t know that we weren’t close because we only knew close as we had seen it in our lives where there was a lot of pretending to be close while really being closed.

I tried to fill the emptiness of not being close without knowing I was empty, thinking it was just me, and just life, through work and God and volunteering and kids. HUSBAND was filling his empty with fishing and hunting and other women, both real and delivered to his phone, unbeknownst to me. The more we tried to find close through these things, the less close we found in ourselves and together but to the outside world and to all that knew us, we were CLOSE and then DDay…and everything changed. We had a moment…no…we had many, many moments…

And we decided individually, then we decided together, that we would seek why we had closed ourselves in trying to be close, although opening the tightly sealed closed places was hard and painful and risky. As I, and as he, opened the closed spots we found close…close the adjective…close the intimacy…close the love.

The dichotomy of close.

BESIDE

BESIDE. A self-explanatory word that means to be by the side, or next to, someone or something. But it is a word that has changed through the years in its depth and width and breadth…

Beside was my mom next to me, holding me while I got stitches in my head when I was young after playing ghost with a blanket – that was obviously too long – and I tripped…sending me pitching downward to where my head met the ground violently. Beside was comfort.

Beside was my dad carrying me on his back, my arms wrapped around his neck, while he body-surfed at Waimea Bay…the water rushing and the waves crashing around me madly. Beside was security.

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Beside was the secret service man sitting next to me on the South White House lawn when I was present at the welcome ceremony of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi…gun revealed as he leaned over to glance at something. Beside was intrigue.

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Beside was the kind man who saw my tears flowing as I boarded a plane in high school, forced to move away from my dearest friends and beloved Colorado, and invited me to sit by him in the empty seat in first class…getting to experience the great food, the movie, the leather seats. Beside was diversion.

Beside was the weary but willing American traveler sharing my train compartment who answered a million questions since I’d just gotten off the plane for my solo trip through Europe…and realized how little I knew about how to go about doing what I was now doing. Beside was support.

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Beside was the eager man standing next to me at the altar, a bit uncomfortable in such fancy clothes, making vows to love and honor and protect me forever in this life…sealed with a kiss. Beside was promise.

Beside was seeing a plus sign on the test, and feeling movement and knowing when he had hiccups and not being able to breathe too well…then pushing and delivering and enveloping his perfection in my arms. Beside was hope.

Beside was sitting in the closet, holding her in my arms while she cried and wanting to lash out bitter words toward the mean girl but choosing instead to speak life into the broken girl…wishing somehow I could take the pain. Beside was helplessness.

Beside was sitting in the audience to honor the graduations, memorialized with a small pieces of paper, and knowing the time and effort and decisions and heart that had gotten one, two, three, four of my beautiful babies to this point…their own achievements that I could not claim. Beside was pride.

Beside was discovering infidelity and wracking sobs and how could yous and why did yous and why didn’t Is…thinking if onlys. Beside was pain.

Beside was my mom lying next to and holding the frail and weak body of my daddy, surrounded by all the ones he loved best…sharing memories of the good and the not-so-good, laughing, crying. Beside was passage.

Beside was anger and even rage, leaving no staying, desperate conversations and counseling and therapy and support groups…demanding safety and boundaries and rebuilding trust. Beside was risk.

Beside was wrestling with the One who said He’d never leave or forsake me, throwing everything I had at Him and finally understanding He’d  written my name, in red…and nothing could change that ever. Beside was Grace.

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Beside was standing next to her, hugging her and listening to her make the same vows I’d made, knowing she was full of hope and dreams like her mother before her…and believing with her that these could come true. Beside was faith.

Beside is waking up in the middle of the night, legs entangled with HUSBAND, hearing his even breathing…him murmuring I love you and realizing I’d forgotten to be mad for a little bit. Beside is healing.

Beside. It is where I live.