One of the things that I did during the first month of this betrayal trauma disaster was research the stages of grief. Alongside that I researched what the healing process typically is for women in similar circumstances. I wanted a road map. I wanted an idea of what to expect. People kept commenting, “You guys have a loooong road ahead of you.” What was on that road? Were there stops? Dead ends? Sink holes? Beautiful fields full of wild flowers? What does the destination even look like? I need to know! How else can I be sure I will even want to travel on this road?
I read that the 5 stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance and that one can cycle through these numerous times, or even experience them in any order. I also read, and heard from many, that for women in my situation each journey is unique. There is no way to know how long healing will take or what it will require or who I will become moving forward. The only sure things I heard were that it would be a long road and that I would never be the same again. I wasn’t willing to accept either of these ideas, I’m still not. As far as the stages of grief go, I can see how I’ve been through each of them many times, in many ways, except for the acceptance one. How on earth am I going to accept that my husband has been sexually intimate with all of these women? What does accepting that even mean? Does it mean that I stop caring? I can’t imagine any way for this to ever be okay except I stop caring. Or maybe if I go fully insane. Or divorce him and just put it in my past. But in 8 horrid months I have yet to see any way that I can be married to a man who has abused me for 12 years, committed serial adultery, and be okay with that- much less heal and be happy again.
I feel like I’m dying a very slow death. Suffocating under the weight of a slab of numerous undressed women, all bound together in a web of lies and secrecy, with my husband in the middle of them. The impossibility of moving forward is paralyzing. I am heartbroken to think that I will never be the same me again. People say I will someday be a better version of who I was before, but I can’t believe that. Aside from it being absolutely preposterous, I don’t believe anything anyone says anymore, which is basically case and point. I was just about the most trusting person you could have ever met. But not now.
I have been taking a break from counseling and spousal support group. I don’t feel that either were helping and I’m so exhausted and sick I don’t want to go anywhere. I’ve taken breaks from a lot of things during these months… speaking, expressing emotion, affection, sex, living with my husband, talking to my husband, healing others, social media, attending church, attending the temple, church callings, taking care of myself, homeschooling, parenting in general, cooking dinner, cleaning, praying, eating… pretty much everything, it could be a very long list. No matter what I eliminate I’m still so emotionally overdrawn I can’t function. When I try to get out of it by being of service to people I typically end up hurt and often triggered, which causes several days of downward spiral.
I just feel so low, so deep in the pit. At first I sat down here calling upward, searching desperately for some way out, fully believing there MUST be a way out. I don’t do that anymore. I just sit at the bottom. When people call down to me, I don’t look up. When they offer to toss anything down to me, I refuse it. I know now that there’s nothing they can do for me. They can’t get me out of the pit, and I have failed to find my own way out. Maybe someday rain will pour down and fill up my hole and I might have the tiniest bit of strength left to swim to the top, or maybe I’ll just drown. Maybe my husband will throw dirt in on me by relapsing and finish the job.
I hate that I can’t offer hope at this point. I fully expected I would be able to shine a light down for other women in my situation by now, but I haven’t found the light yet, or even gotten out of my own hole. Yet again, this is so unlike me. I’ve always been a beacon, never because I wanted to be, I prefer to be invisible to the world, it was just my natural state as I went about my business being true to myself. One thing I do know for sure, if I ever do find a way out of this and I get my light back I will spend my life lighting the torches of other women. I will dive down holes with them and show them the way out. No one should ever be alone in this, but somehow we feel alone even when surrounded by people who know. By people who know I mean people who have been in similar circumstances. A good friend of mine and I have discussed this search for others like us. Even in our group of WOPAs (wives of pornography addicts) we look for women who’s circumstances mirror ours as closely as possible. But no matter how hard we look, we don’t find a satisfactory mirror image. Bitterness takes seed in the lonely, barren soil. We start to judge other women. “Look at her crying over her husband watching porn and masturbating. I WISH my husband just looked at porn and masturbated! She doesn’t know how bad it can be. At least she doesn’t have to live with the STDs he gave her.” We don’t want to separate ourselves from our sisters, it happens because the pain we feel amplified by knowing that there is not a single woman on earth who truly knows our pain. We feel we need to tell our story, we feel we need to declare our pain, defend it, even. “You don’t even know how bad it could be!” Why do we do this? Because this freaking hurts. Because hurting alone, being alone at the bottom of the pit, and seeing no way for it to ever be any better is agonizing beyond description.
I try to find hope, but I’m running out of places to look. It’s all I can do to get out of bed each day. I’m completely useless once I’m up. I want my life back, but there’s no life left in me. I need to have my basic emotional needs met, but the person who is there to fulfill them isn’t a safe person. I need my home to be a healing sanctuary, but it is the opposite. I need my Savior, but I can’t feel Him anymore.
(This entry was written 235 days beyond D-day on April 19, 2017)