May 7, 2014

Understand Me

Understand Me

My Addiction vs. Betrayal Trauma

No amount of words can fully express to anyone the pure hell I went through when the drugs wore off. Physical pain. Emotional pain. It was unbearable and I was terrified. An hour into the withdrawals my body started to sweat and shake. It felt like I had the worst flu of my life, but x1000.

And then the real pain started.

This indescribable pain started to slowly engulf my body.  Every inch of my body hurt. It hurt to move. It hurt to hold still. It hurt for anything to touch my skin. My body was exhausted beyond anything I’ve experienced, but I couldn’t hold still. Somehow my whole body was nauseous.  My body was restless and I felt claustrophobic in my own skin. I wanted to rip my skin, my hair, and my insides out. I just wanted the pain to stop. Besides doing the drug again, I tried everything I possibly could but nothing I did would make the pain lessen in any way.

Then my brain was flooded with immense shame and DOOM.  It hurt in a way I never before knew was even possible. My spirit hurt. All these horrible memories came flooding in like a raging tidal wave of horror. Imagine seeing every wrong choice, every mistake you have ever said or done and feeling it completely present in front of you. Every single one. And then imagine being able to feel and know to the full extent of how all your mistakes and wrong choices affected other people and the pain and damage you have caused them.
I couldn’t do anything to escape all the incredible horrid shame and pain. I felt so low. I felt worthless. I couldn’t eat. Until my sister helped me go to the doctor later on, I couldn’t even sleep for 4 days straight, not even for a few min. It all hurt too much. So I laid there, writhing in agony. I would have rather not existed. I was racked with eternal torment.  I was burning alive in hell.

…All the while desperately attempting to take care of my new 4 month old baby boy by myself. I felt so alone.

And none of this,

NONE of this….,

Was compared to the pain I felt when learning about my husband’s sex addiction. All the pain in my entire life does not come close to the agony I felt in having the husband I love, trust and cherish lie to me and manipulate me time after time after time.
It’s hard for most to comprehend that this pain is real. People don’t get it. It’s just pornography. It’s his problem, not mine. Right?

I’ve been the addict before. I’ve done the lying. I’ve done the cheating. I've done the manipulating. I put my ex-husband and others I loved through hell. I’ve deeply hated and loathed myself. But that was all nothing, those were minor scratches, compared to the deep gaping wounds and pain left by my husband’s sex/pornography addiction.

I married a man I loved with every fiber of my being. I felt I finally had the second chance to do things the right way. I leaped into the scary unknown and he was there to catch me. For the first time I allowed myself to be vulnerable and gave him every part of me. He was my protector. My best and dearest friend. I trusted him with my life. I trusted him with my children. I trusted every word he said. I looked up to him. He was my knight and shining returned missionary and priesthood holder. For 2 years I thought things were good, and I was happy and I saw all things with rose colored glasses.

Then a couple years into our marriage I found pornography on the computer, and all the lies, manipulation, minimizing, anger, tension, and gaslighting started bubbling up to the surface. My whole world came crashing down.-- "Was it my fault? Am I ugly? Am I too fat? Am I not good enough? Do I not love him enough? Do I not have enough sex with him? Do I not clean my house enough? Am I not spiritual enough? Surely I must have done something for him to turn to pornography and lies, instead of coming to me, right? I don’t look like the woman on the computer. So what did I do?"-- I replayed over and over in my head.

I was so scared. I didn’t know who to talk to. I tried talking to my husband, but he turned more defensive, more manipulative, and turned blame on me. I tried my best to be the loving patient wife. I wanted my husband to feel it was safe to be honest and talk to me. I wanted him to know that if he was struggling or made a mistake that he could tell me and I would be loving and supportive because I wanted to help him.

But the pornography, lies, manipulation and anger still continued.

I still loved him. I saw the good in him. I believed in him. I wanted to be able to trust him. I encouraged him. We had long, long deep conversations. We cried together. We laughed together.

But the pornography, lies, manipulation and anger still continued.

I slowly got more upset. We went to see the bishop and he told us not to tell anyone, and he helped us with counseling. My husband went to meetings and worked on the 12 steps. He got a sponsor. He got so much attention, support and love from everyone.

But the pornography, lies, manipulation and anger still continued.

Everyone praised my husband for doing SO GOOD. They gave him pats on the back and high fives. They told him he was in recovery. Our counselor said he was doing so great that there wasn’t much more he could do to help him. My husbands started a blog and inspired many other addicts and gave loads of spiritual recovery advice. Friends and family thought he was so strong and so noble for putting up with me. Wait, what? Putting up with me?

But the pornography, lies, manipulation and anger still continued.

I continually showed him an outpour of love and understanding, I wanted him to come to me when he was struggling so that I could help him. Yet now I was the crazy one. I was the angry mean wife who wasn't properly using the atonement and just couldn’t forgive and move on and accept my husband was doing great. I was completely alone with no one to talk to. No one comprehended what I was feeling. Because hey, I should be happy my husband is doing so great, right? What the heck is wrong with me!!???

But the pornography, lies, manipulation and anger still continued. Not only continued, but they got worse. My husband didn't learn to get into recovery, he learned how to better lie, hide, and deceive.
For those who have not dealt with sex addiction, you may not understand. I need you to understand. Please understand.

I woke up one day and found out my husband was a lying sex addict abuser and my whole world fell apart. Which way was up and which way was down? I was continually lied to my entire marriage. Was my marriage even real? My husband wasn't worthy to get sealed in the temple to me and my kids. Was the sealing even real? My kids were abused physically and mentally and I didn’t even know about it. Was I the horrible parent? I didn’t know who my husband was. Was he the good hearted loving man I know him to be? Or a selfish, lying, manipulative monster full of lust? I desperately tried to make sense of now having 2 different lives . Which one was real? My life before, or my life now? Was it all a lie? Was everything my husband said a lie? Is he still lying? When will he lie again? Will his addiction progress to molesting children? Do I somehow attract only addicts? Are all men liars and addicts? Does God not love me anymore? Did He ever love me? Am I a bad person? Do I deserve this? Am I making everything up and just completely insane and living in an alternate reality in my mind!!!?!?

My husband refused to be honest. It wasn't the pornography that hurt so much.  It was the constant lies. I wanted desperately to believe my husband. I wanted to trust him. But to be told "truths" every day, only to find out later on they were actually kinda makes a person doubt their existence. Here my husband continued to look at porn, lie and abuse my children, and he got tons of high fives, support and praise. And there was crazy ol' me.

My reality was gone. I couldn’t come to terms with anything. I didn’t know what to do. Over time every immodestly stressed woman, every magazine, every tv show terrorized me. Everyone else's happy life haunted me. I was in never ending panic mode trying to prevent being hurt and lied to again. I just couldn't understand why a man who loved me so much would continue to lie to me. I could no longer function as a mother. After a while I was too overwhelmed and traumatized to even care, and I slowly sank into a pit of confusion and despair without even realizing it. I felt hopeless and I wanted to give up. Not only give up, but give up and leave my family and run far far away.

I was humiliated and living in shame. I was embarrassed. I felt like an idiot. I wanted to cover up and hide from the world. I thought if more people knew then they would think I was stupid, a bad wife, and that it was my fault. I felt forced to lie to everyone, because I didn't want anyone to think ill of my husband and think ill of me. So I hid his dirty shameful little secret. And the shame and despair slowly grew and grew.

Then I learned I was experiencing normal trauma symptoms caused by my husbands abuse. I wasn't suffering because I was weak, or because there was something inherently wrong with me. I was "reacting normally to an abnormal situation". I was injured. 

When I finally summed up the courage and told friends and family, their advice was almost MORE traumatizing. I knew they loved me but they couldn't understand why my husband looking at pornography would be so traumatizing. Again, it’s his problem, isn’t it? They wanted me to try to go on more dates with my husband, they asked me if we were being intimate enough, they told me what a wonderful man and father he was, and they told me things like “At least it’s just pornography” or "At least he still loves you".

People at church got an outpour of love, meals, and support when someone was sick, had a baby, lost a job, or moved. Yet there I was in the worst agony of my life, terrified, not wanting to exist and suffering in silence. Alone. No one understood why I could possibly be in so much pain.

My life used to be like a brick house. Then the person I loved the most came in and bulldozed it. Completely demolished it. And after my husband tore everything to pieces, he made me doubt myself.

"Why did you bulldoze my house?" I asked.

He replied “What? I didn’t bulldoze your house, it wasn’t me. I can't believe you would think it was me! I love you I wouldn’t do that to you. Was it someone else? Did YOU bulldoze your own house? I’m doing great. Why are you always attacking me? I didn't say that, YOU said that. I don't know what you’re talking about. I don't remember. That’s YOUR fault. I don't understand. Why are you angry at me? Why can’t I ever do anything right to you? I’m trying as hard as I can. I'm telling you the truth.  You’re so mean. Why do you hate me?”.

So I went to work trying to rebuild my home in hopes to heal from his craziness. But my husband swooped in again and destroyed it. Over and over and over. I had nothing left. I was exhausted. I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't heal my home while he was knocking everything down.

So me and my husband separated. I started working on rebuilding my boundaries. And a miracle happened....The Lord led me to a group of the most amazing woman I have ever met. A group of woman who all know EXACTLY how I was feeling. A group of woman that instantly showed me a love and acceptance that I never knew could exist in my life, a Facebook group for betrayed abuse victims. And I started to heal and see hope for myself!

I am not the only traumatized wife anymore. I'm not the "exception". I will no longer be alone ever again. But there are millions of woman still suffering from Betrayal Trauma in shame and silence. And its NOT because we aren't strong or lack the atonement. Trauma is real. These injuries are real. We just need safety. And we need you to understand.