Our stories carry so much power. What happened to me and my own bad decisions don’t define me but my story does. It is mine. It is ever evolving and while I may not control every character or plot theme, I am the one telling it.
Seems I was born to wear the hat of a spouse of a sex addict who dabbled dangerously close to becoming one herself. My biological Father was essentially a cheating pedophile, a 35-year-old married man who had an affair with a 15-year-old girl. I was the result of their encounter. Given up for adoption and raised by an alcoholic further entrenched the pathways of addiction into not only my DNA, but my environment. Raised in a severely dysfunctional family system, cloaked in the persona of the perfect Catholic family, I was primed for the addiction to drugs and promiscuous behaviors that found me pregnant at 15 and in rehab for cocaine at 17. This pattern of sex and drugs would plague me for years.
My first marriage ended in divorce, mostly because of his porn addiction. I didn’t know much about sexual addiction and at the time, didn’t realize just how bad things were. I just knew he preferred watching porn to his family and I was tired of being married and alone. So, being the good little addict that I was, I relapsed after a long stretch of sobriety and filed for divorce.
A few dysfunctional years later, a new boyfriend, new home and a new church pointed me in a direction that would change my life forever. I had been in and out of churches through the years but never really knew Jesus. That all changed in 2007 when a redheaded girl knocked on my door to tell me about the new church they just started. I went and convinced my now ex-husband to join me. We were not married but living together and that was the first thing God started dealing with me about. We both got saved. We married that fall. I was happy. I loved him. I felt like I was really loved for the first time in my life. I had achieved the dream, the fairy tale came true. We were active in our church and my children were thriving.
Life was far from perfect. I had some major health issues for a few years but things cleared up and I was healthy, happy, sober and madly in love. I thought this man hung the moon. He was my proof that not all men are like my Dad or all the men I had dated. There was hope. Love was real and I had it. My friends were jealous of me he was so good to me.
Fast forward 5 years and an innocent look at his computer to learn twitter for my photography business shattered my world. I caught my husband in an affair. Being the good little addict that I was, I relapsed. I spent 15 months drunk, high or on my knees in prayer. I sought relief from the blinding pain and confusion with anything that gave me the illusion of easing the pain. Pills, alcohol, every book available on recovery from an affair or how to be a better wife, exercise; even other men. When something stopped working and the pain engulfed me again, I sank further into the pit of despair, becoming someone I didn’t even recognize. Things at home got really bad. We fought all the time, nothing was changing. Every time I turned around I found a new lie. I was making myself crazy trying to save a marriage alone. He talked the talk, but did not walk the walk. I didn’t know why. Then the depression kicked in. Followed closely by the severe PTSD symptoms.
I had finally had enough of him not changing, finding more lies, not helping me heal, not fixing our marriage and I kicked him out. The floodgates of reality opened not long after. Prostitutes, pornography, men, countless hours searching for women to cheat on me with; since the day I met him basically. The man I thought hung the moon was a total stranger to me. But we had a name – sexual addiction. Now that I knew why our marriage wasn’t getting better, I knew for sure we could fix things. I believe in the power of recovery. I have decades of sobriety to prove that addictions can be tackled. I let him come home and I sought treatment for him. That should have been my first clue of what the next two and half years would be like.
He did all the right things, on paper. He went to therapy, went to meetings, we went back to church regularly. He was still not helping me heal, still lying, still using pornography and things started to get violent when we fought. To this day I do not know my full story. What exactly he did, how he acted out during this time frame is fuzzy. He has changed his story and rewrote my history so many times I can’t count. He wasn’t in recovery, though, this much I know. The extent of how bad is irrelevant at this point.
My PTSD was so severe, being in public was too much to handle. I once again lived in my bedroom. I was paranoid, assumed every little thing that seemed off with my husband meant he was with someone else or watching pornography. I will never know how much of that was real and how much was trauma. His therapist even said he was afraid for me and suggested taking me to the hospital, but my own husband didn’t want to argue with me. So he watched me dying instead, using his drug of choice to cope. I finally got too depressed to even get high. I ended up on medications for the depression but they didn’t help. I became suicidal.
I sat in my vehicle, pills in hand, ready to end my life. I felt led to call a woman from church I barely knew instead. She invited me over. That poor, beautiful soul just listened as I vomited my entire story, for the first time, to someone I knew. She had no words of advice for me. She just listened. Something in me woke up that day. I asked her for a sharpie and wrote LIVE FREE on my wrists. Those words are now permanently written on my wrists to remind me I don’t have to live in the chains of my own addiction or someone else’s. A Warrior was born that day.
Freedom wasn’t found in a book, a bottle, a pill or a man. Freedom was found at The Cross. Because there is this guy…He died on a cross for me… He told me I was worth more. Not because of me but because of what He did for me. My husband didn’t choose to save our marriage but I chose to let Jesus save me.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses the day I woke up and realized I was in a pit. It has been a bumpy climb out of the pit but Jesus has been there the whole time. Through the days I fought Him and through the days I let him carry me. It is a journey to healing I am still on and probably always will be. But I have freedom finally. I am divorced. I am sober. I am helping my children heal from the trauma my ex-husband and I inflicted during our insanity. I am managing the house. I am happy. I am discovering new joys and the world seems a little bigger than before trauma woke me up. I am coaching, writing and being a voice for the voiceless. I am even dating in a healthy way, and ‘The Dork’ (said in the most loving way possible, it is a complimentary nickname from me, truly) is helping remind me of a hope I thought trauma had killed – that love is real.
I wake up every day wanting to help other people stuck in the same pit that I lived in. To show them there is hope. There is healing. I am blessed to work for a company that fights for integrity online. I am surrounded by other Warriors I have met through different pieces of training on Betrayal Trauma in partners of sex addicts and Sexual Addiction training’s, that I have taken.
My deepest cry of my heart is to allow God to use me to prove out Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”