(written March 9, 2017)

 

As I finished Understanding PTSD and started my next blog, Sex Addiction Induced Trauma: How Sex Addiction Impacts the Partners, I found this piece I had written back in March, over five months ago…

 

 

Last night, before I went to bed, I had this idea for a blog; how addiction affects the people we love.

 

When I was preparing for tomorrow night’s speaker presentation in my 12-step group, I looked back on my actions of the past and how time and time again, I lied to my ex, I betrayed her, and I caused her not only to not trust me, but she learned not to trust anyone. My actions caused her to protect herself, shut down, and learn that it was not safe to be vulnerable.

 

This morning I had coffee and a very nice conversation with her. I know, I know; be careful with boundaries.

 

“I cannot hope and grieve at the same time.”

 

That’s become my daily mantra.

 

Three second rule: Stop, look away, and affirm.

 

I need to put extra effort into taking care of myself the next few days. I already feel the pull my ex has over me, the desire and the want to continue with that connection.

 

I’m ok on my own. I will survive without her.

 

It’s not the painful, “I can’t survive, I will die if I don’t have the connection” feeling that used to overwhelm me. In fact, commuting to work today, I feel peace instead of pain.

 

Wow! So much unnecessary and selfish pressure I put on her. That I needed her to survive. Ugh!

 

What I do need to do today is to be aware that I must take care of me. In the past, I would think I was ok and the next day regress into a painful state forgetting to take care of myself; to give me self-love.

 

I guess this will be my next challenge: to see if my past EMDR sessions have really worked. Maybe I need to jump in and learn EFT tonight so I can stay on top of my emotions.

 

Not a bad idea.

 

 

 

Wanting to Understand

Anyway, after our conversation and my drive to the airport, I couldn’t help but think about how much I hurt my ex. I instantly wanted to blog this and was shocked to see I had wrote the idea down before I went to bed last night so I wouldn’t forget about it.

 

I must have been thinking about trying to understand what my actions have done for quite some time now.

 

A lot of my previous blogs have focused on my pain, me learning how to separate and accept that I’m getting a divorce, my jealousy issues over her friends that condemn me; all my shit!

 

I won’t say I made those blogs all about me, because they’ve challenged me and have taken me on a processing journey of self-healing. They are what I’ve needed to start the transformation process of loving myself.

 

Healing oneself is what's needed to start the transformation process of learning to love oneself. Click To Tweet

 

Unfortunately, my journey of self-love has been slow because I had taken on much of the blame for the destruction of our marriage. I literally believed it was all my fault.

 

“I understand that you can love someone so much it aches and still hurt them, again and again. I know that you can love and betray the very same person.” 

-Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

 

Lately, as I’m learning to love myself, not attack and belittle myself for my inability to manage my trauma triggers, I’m starting to realize that it takes two to tango. Our divorce wasn’t all my fault. This has been extremely hard for me to come to terms and accept.

 

 

 

I Watch Her Today with Interest

Today, I watch her as she talks. Just like I am learning to listen, I can see when she gets triggered.

 

Crap! Speaking of which, I hope I didn’t talk too much today and I actually listened to her. Oh well, if I did talk too much, I can’t change that now.

 

I know what my body goes through when I get triggered. I know the depths of my pain. And, I could see it on her face and in her body. I felt her pain today.

 

In the past, I would see her regress into her trigger and immediately become overwhelmed with my own guilt and shame that I “caused it” and take on her painful emotions. I would beat myself up for once again failing and not being perfect. I became so self-absorbed with how bad I was, I couldn’t hear her.

 

My ex had said that I never really listened to her or even understood her and now I finally see her truth. I let my own internal thoughts act like cobwebs that clouded my thinking.

 

“Get rid of the cobwebs in your mind,” I can hear Rafiki tell me. “And it no longer feels like a haunted house. There’s no fear. It’s just a house.”

 

  

 

I Need to Listen to Her

There’s a part of me that wants to reach out to her. There’s a part of me that wants to be her punching bag because I caused most of her pain. There’s a part of me that wants to help her heal. There’s a part of me that wants to take her hand and guide her.

 

But that’s not healthy. That’s not what she needs. That’s not my job anymore.

 

She only needs to be heard.

 

My ex fears me. She has so much fear that she’s unable to be vulnerable and unable to trust me again. I see it in her body language. She wants to trust, she wants to believe.

 

Part of her does believe me and part of her does trust me. However, after being pummeled by me for so many years, she’s not able to fully let go and trust me again. I was such an incredibly good liar in the past, that trust is something I may never earn.

 

TIME – Things I Must Earn.

 

TIME = Things I Must Earn Click To Tweet

 

I don’t even think time will allow me to earn back her trust.

 

My ex has so much anger. I hear it in her passive aggressive jabs that continue to come out of nowhere. I can see it’s there, just under the surface, ready to explode.

 

I know she needs to release that anger, but I’ve never been safe for her to release it to.

 

Like a roundhouse kick coming at me, I’ve always blocked it with so much force, that I bruised her mentally for months, even years on end. It was all about me protecting my ego at the expense of tearing her down into a pile of dust that could blow away at the smallest puff of wind.

 

I also know my ex is afraid of her own anger. That’s not the person she wants to be. So instead, she bottles it up deep inside of her hoping it will never see the light of day.

 

My ex has so much pain, so much sadness, so much confusion. My heart aches for her. I want to be there for her.

 

Then I remind myself, I’m the one that caused most of that.

 

 

 

I Need to Grieve Our Divorce

Grieving divorce is so difficult. It’s why many people I know who have gone through it have pleaded with me and told me to do everything I can to work things out; that the damage of divorce affects us and our kids for years.

 

“Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.” 
-Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

 

I want to say I’ve done everything I could.

 

And yet, I know, I must disagree with that statement.

 

I have not done everything I could.

 

I have done everything only up to a point. I still created and caused pain through our divorce. I’ve done this by not letting go and holding on for my own selfish reasons.

 

My ex had asked for a friend while she tried to find herself and I resisted that. I was unable to be the friend she asked for.

 

“People who are hurting don’t need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What we need are patient, loving witness. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpful vigil to our pain.” 
-Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

 

Ok, it wasn’t that I resisted being her friend. It was just too painful for me to maintain that friendship. It triggered my own wounding, which hurt me and in turn, I continued to hurt her.

 

I wasn’t resisting being her friend, I was trying to stop the pain that threatened to kill me.

 

It was pointed out that the minute we were getting a divorce, it was no longer my responsibility to help her heal.

 

“As a couple, you bet you’re in the dog house! And you WILL do everything you can to help your partner recover from your lies and deceits,” my therapist had lectured. “But, by divorcing, you no longer have that responsibility. You both are now on your own.”

 

We go our separate ways, following our separate paths. We heal on our own. We no longer are obligated to help each other find the way.

 

I need to grieve our divorce and let go of her fully so she can be free of me so she has the ability to heal herself.

 

 

 

I Want to Learn from Her, but My Presence Still Hurts Her

I’m also in a position in recovery where I’m curious to see what I could learn from my ex. She’s the one who knows me the best. I mean, I get challenged by Rafiki, yet that’s different than being challenged by a former spouse who’s known me for 17 years.

 

Could I keep boundaries and not take her criticism as an attack on my character? Probably not.

 

Could she feel safe enough to allow me to see what I did to her so I can learn? Probably not.

 

So, I must learn and try to figure all this out on my own.

 

It’s a question I asked my girls on the way to school this morning after listening to them treat each other and myself disrespectfully. It was after a conversation we had about one of their friends who treated her mother very poorly.

 

“Why is it that people show the most disrespect and say the most hurtful things are to the ones we love the most? I’ve never heard you speak to your teachers or your friends the way you speak to each other or to Mom and Dad.”

 

I believe it’s because deep down we know our loved ones won’t leave us.

 

I believe it’s because we feel safe around our loved ones.

 

But unfortunately, our harsh words will eventually damage the very people who mean the most to us.

 

 

 

Journey of Healing

On the journey to healing from addiction, we can’t truly love another and give others the respect they deserve until we learn to love ourselves first. Once we do learn to love ourselves, it’s important that we try to heal the harm we inflicted on others.

 

That’s the very process the 12 Steps is based on.

 

In steps 4-7 we learn about our character defects, share them, and release them to our Higher Power. Releasing our character defects opens us up to self-love. It’s at this point we do Steps 8 & 9, where we make a list of people we’ve harmed and make amends to them.

 

My ex had said, in the past, that what I did felt manipulative and not genuine. I disagreed.

 

I now see it from her perspective. I know deep down the excited feeling I would get when I would think of her and want to get her things or do something for her. The energy behind it was the “care-taking” piece that I believed from childhood I needed to do to get value and worth.

 

“I needed to do to get value and worth.”

 

The “need” piece was the piece I missed.

 

I also can see the energy behind my neediness for her attention. That I felt lost without her, so I expected her to be everything for me. And when she failed to meet my unrealistic expectations, I belittled her and put her down for not meeting something that was unattainable to begin with.

 

Yes, I wanted to shower her with love. But there was an expectation behind that love. I didn’t see it. I didn’t feel it. She did. She felt that energy.

 

My belief was that I needed to give to receive, not because I just wanted to give to give, regardless of what I received in return. It was because of the belief that if I gave to her, she would give back.

 

She couldn’t give me what she didn’t have. Either due to her own childhood issues, to the trauma I created in her life, or both. My ex could not give me love in return, no matter what I did or how hard I tried to “prove” myself to her.

 

She was incapable of loving me.

 

It’s not because she didn’t try. It’s not because she didn’t want to. It’s because her wounds that I caused, cut her so deeply. My actions fucked her up.

 

She most likely will never be able to love me that intimately again.

 

So, instead, we’ve spent years going around and around triggering each other. It was the patterns that our couple therapist was trying to figure out over a year ago.

 

 

 

I Choose My Ex, but I No Longer Need Her

Today I realize that I still choose my ex, but I no longer need her.

 

I will survive without her. I love who I am and who I’m becoming. I love me. I will someday find someone who can love me in return. I don’t need my ex for that love.

 

I wish my ex can heal so she too can learn to love the beautiful woman I have always seen her to be. The one I fell in love with 17 years ago. The one I still love with all her imperfections.

 

You know, it’s ok to love someone and not have it reciprocated. Like clouds in the sky, there will be days of showers, storms, and loneliness. Yet rain brings flowers, new birth, spring. It is how the world is reborn. It’s through all this pain I have become reborn.

 

“What if pain – like love – is just a place brave people visit?” 
-Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

 

“…what if the transporting (to a pain-free place) is keeping me from transformation? What if my anger, my fear, my loneliness were never mistakes, but invitations? What if in skipping the pain, I was missing my lessons? Instead of running away from the pain, was I supposed to run towards it? …Maybe instead of slamming the door on pain, I need to throw open the door wide and say, “Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.” 
-Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

 

For those of you who are still struggling with addiction, this isn’t about shaming or blaming yourself for those actions. This is about taking your own personal journey of sobriety, recovery, and transformation of self-love so that you can eventually reach a place where you stop hurting the ones you love.

 

We get so wrapped up in our own pain that we continue to medicate with the addiction so we don’t have to feel it or we continue with the actions we’re familiar with hurting and blaming others in the process.

 

You’ve got to experience the agony. You must dig in deep and do the hard work to heal. It’s the most painful trip I’ve thus far ever taken. But through that pain is growth. Through that growth comes love. And when you love yourself, you treat the people in your life you love the way God intended us to treat others.

 

Love yourself, so you can truly love your partner.

 

Love your partner so you can support them on whatever path of recovery they chose, whether they decide to stay with you or leave.

 

Learn to love yourself so you can hold boundaries when your partner needs to express the immense pain and anger you caused.

 

Our partners need us to be strong so they can feel safe to release the emotions they’ve bottled up for years. And for them to heal, they need to be heard. Our partners can’t be heard when we are too busy managing our negative self-talk.

 

Our negative self-talk becomes the static that blocks us from hearing our partners.

 

Our negative self-talk becomes the static that blocks us from hearing our partners. Click To Tweet

 

We can’t hear our partners if we haven’t learned to cut through that static and learn to love us first.

 

Learn to parent our inner child so we can become reborn. Through our rebirth, we can eventually be there to help our partner heal from our wrongs.

 

sTogether We Can Heal!

 

 

 

Father,

 

Please, help my ex heal. Help her to release the anger she still holds towards me and my addiction. Please help her find herself. Help her find all aspects of who she is. Help her to forgive her decision to stay with me, even when I hurt her again and again. Help her find a way to release the trauma I caused and help her to release the trauma of her childhood.

 

Please, help my ex learn that she is loved. That regardless of her choices, she has always been unconditionally loved by you. Help guide her to love herself as you love her.

 

Please, help my ex find peace.

 

I don’t need her forgiveness, but I do wish her happiness.

 

Amen

 

 

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

-Elton John

 

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