Episode 17: Big or Small, Your Story Matters.
Betrayal is shocking regardless of our experience. The heart does not know the difference between pornography addiction and/or face to face infidelity. What you’ve experienced is worth holding space for. It does not need to be compared to another persons trauma.
As I was coming up with this episode, I went on a long drive, I was going somewhere. And I used that time to pray and ponder and think about what you need, just like I always do, in some form or another. And I was kind of given a subject. And I started just hashing it out and talking out loud to see kind of what kind of experiences I have with that and what it meant to me. So I was thinking, this is so great. I know what we're going to talk about.
I went on my drive where I was going, I knew I would be recording the next day. And the next day came and I couldn't remember anything that I had thought about anything that I was even inspired by. And so I spent the next couple of days trying to figure it out. I was praying about remembering. I was praying about do you want me to do something different? I'm open to whatever. Is there something holding me back? And I've been working on forgiveness lately. And I was reminded by my energy person that I was getting in my own way sometimes because there's pieces that I need to forgive of the things that my ex husband had done or treated me in a way that has left some wounds.
So even though over the years I have done that, and I have forgiven, I've moved forward, I've moved past it, I don't really have a lot of emotion tied to those experiences anymore, there were pieces that were coming up for me that I didn't even know. And it had to do with the fact that you know, my kids will go spend time there. And then they'll have a great time, which I've also come to terms with that that's also great. But then there will be things that didn't feel so great for them. And I'm having a hard time with adjusting to them having those experiences.
Now I know that I talk about that. And we've I've talked to several of you personally about, it's important that they have their own experiences, so they can see the truth of things. But it still leaves feelings inside of me when I know my children are having hard things or suffering in some way. That's actually not even the subject of today. But I wanted to share that with you because sometimes, we get in our own way we don't even realize. And so if she brought this to my attention, she had me every day in my prayer, ask what I need to forgive him of today.
It's been interesting, the things that have come up. Some have been like painful things. And I think, oh, I don't want to forgive him for that. I shouldn't have to or I feel angry about it. Some are really little things. But I realized that maybe that's what was holding you back. So that's what I was praying about. Do I need to forgive something today? Is there still something that I need to let go of? And what came up for me was that I have some feelings regarding the emotional abuse that happened, the looks of disgust, the scathing remarks, the things where his face would scrunch up his eyes would kind of get very judgmental and say things like, why don't you just grow up and get over this stuff, things like that.
Those were the things that were coming up for me. So that's what I had to work on. And again, I found like, ah, I don't want to have to forgive these things. I went and I got out my old recovery workbook. It's healing trauma workbook, and started reading through that of some of the things and events that had happened and my feelings about it. And I did get to see how much of emotional abuse was happening with the words. Your inspirations are wrong. You're dumb for thinking that. Why don't you just stop already? Why don't you be happy now? So as I was looking at that, I found that piece that I needed to forgive so I did work on that.
I was able to let those things go and forgive for those things that he caused in my life as well as forgiving myself for allowing it and forgiving myself for not recognizing what it was at the time. With that, I was reminded of what I had thought about days before in what I needed to record about. And I bring that up and all the other things because as you are working on your healing, there are things that you're going to have to change or recognize. You're going to have to look at your story differently. You're going to have to look at other people's story differently. For things to change, you must change. And for things to get better, you must get better. And that's just the truth.
There's a lot of work that we have to do. So with that, I want to talk today about the way we see things in our story and the way we support other people. So I've shared this at the very beginning of making this podcast. Just short, just a little bit of my story. But I want to tell you about the feelings that happened. When I was 22 years old, I had been married for six months, and we owned a hair salon, I was cutting hair. And I also was working a second job. I came home from my hair salon job, kind of in the later afternoon, and he was at school. And I turned on the TV. We had the old TV that had the little knobs that you turn the channels, we just had the rabbit ears on it. We didn't have any cable or anything like that. And the channel was halfway between two of the channels. So it was in between. And on that in between station was a fuzzy picture of pornography.
I was like what I was shocked. So I flipped the channel, I turned to a regular channel. And then I I tried it and I turned it to the middle. And yes, there it was. It was pornography. And that's where the TV was stuck. I couldn't believe it. What happened to me in that moment, was something I have never experienced before. It was total shock as if something completely out of the norm, or ordinary or something, so scary had just happened. It was as if I was in a movie, where they kind of are on the ground, but their eyes are open and the world is spinning. And everything is foggy and people become quiet. They're saying stuff around and Hey, are you okay? Are you okay? But you can't hear anything. That's what it was like.
I was standing there in utter, complete shock. I felt like I came out of my body. I felt like I was no longer in the place that I lived, or who I was. I just was complete blown away. So why? Why would I have such a reaction to that when I found a fuzzy picture of pornography? And that was the smallest extent. Like that's it. That's what I found. So what is it? What happens? For me, It's betrayal trauma. For me, it was the feeling of How did my person do this? How does he not see me and value me? And all the things I thought. I thought we loved each other. I thought he thought I was great.
I thought I was cute enough. I thought he was attracted to me. I thought we were getting along great. I thought everything was awesome. We really did spend so much time together, we loved each other. We went all the time we cuddle all the time, we we really loved being together. We didn't even necessarily like to go out with a lot of other people at that time because we just wanted to spend time together. So to have this happen, was so just crazy to me. And my body responded. My mind responded. My heart responded.
As the years went by, and other things came out. It wasn't till later in 2012. So that was 17 years later that I found another amount of pornography that caused me a similar reaction. But this time, the reaction was slightly different. It wasn't like, shock of disbelief and I went into this fog of unknown. It was shocked disbelief of this severity. Because I had already now experienced what it is. Now it's just Wow, this is so severe, I had no idea. And the reason I bring that up is because there were times when people would say to me something like, okay, okay, okay, but see, my story is so bad. Because my person he went out and he met up with somebody in person. As my story continued. Mine didn't meet up with a person in person that I'm aware of, I don't think so. But after 2012 in February of 2012, we started 12 step. And by March or April May, just those few months later, was a whole new level of my husband's addiction where he started online hooking up.
The next two years he spent in these affairs with these certain people that he would meet up with on Skype and have sexual experiences with. So at this point talking to this woman In particular, one particular person that was saying this to me, I felt the need to defend. And also, there's no comparison here, we don't need to compare. I was traumatized by the fuzzy picture of pornography. It doesn't matter how severe it was. It wouldn't have mattered if I would have come home and found him with somebody, the shock of something new that I had never experienced, would have been great, just like it was just with the TV.
In 2014, when my husband went to rehab, and I found his secret life, I found these accounts. I found, how it all escalated, I found the email addresses, the fake Facebook profiles, and names, and I found hookup sites. I learned that at least three, I don't know anything else. But at this point, when he was in rehab, I found these three relationships that he had had for two years. Since the addiction came out in 2012. Now it was 2014, he had had three of them for two years, where he talked to them on a regular basis met up with them sexually on a regular basis, through Skype, not face to face.
As I was finding these things, the things that were so scary about it were that he was not acting as himself, he was acting as another person with another name and another picture. So very predatorial, right, that it's not okay to act like you're one thing, and you're not. When I found out those things, this new other life, and it had so many details in there that I'm not going to share right now. But with all of that it was a whole new level of shock and disgust and despair, and all those things. But again, it added on to my already feelings of disbelief that I had had six months in.
So even though the severity kept getting worse and worse, and the story kept getting bigger, and it started turning into like, it's a movie and I felt like my life was what could be on the screen, I realized how it doesn't matter. Our heart does not know the difference of what type of betrayal. It doesn't know how to discern between someone hooking up in person or someone hooking up online. All it knows is it's been betrayed. And that betrayal comes out in so many ways. At six months in, I became paranoid and sad and angry, I cried a lot, I couldn't work my second job with the fear that he would be doing something when I wasn't there.
I didn't have any trust. And all of a sudden, I was scared and afraid. And I didn't know what to do. Now, in 2014, finding this whole second secret life was filled with a lot of that stuff. Fear, anger, sadness, disgust, despair. And in some cases, I did have a feeling of that shock where my body could not handle what was happening in it. And I left my body for a second it felt like. This new experience was an extra piece of shock because it was something I didn't even know existed. I didn't realize some of the dark world that pornography has. I had no idea that you could even find some of these things or these places, or ways to meet people in this way.
I'm sure that that's naive, but my world was. And the way my counselor puts it is he had no right to bring me into this dark world. He had no right to take away my innocence of what I thought life could be and what relationships were. So now that is my new reality. I do know about all that stuff. I do know how awful things can be. And I do know that with addiction, it is progressive. It doesn't just stay the same. It doesn't stay the fuzzy picture of pornography on the TV. It doesn't stay with a magazine. It does progress. If the addict is actively using it progresses.
So with that I did have so many more feelings and obviously trauma that came with that last discovery day. So as I talked to women and as we go back to this particular person, as I'm sharing, No, like she's she was telling me Yeah, but yours didn't meet up with anybody. I said, Well, no, not like that. But yes, yes, he actually did. He met up with people online and had relationships with them specific people, not just everybody, which again, doesn't matter even if it was everybody. Even if it was just pornography. There's no such thing as just. If you remember back to my six months in the feeling is the same.
The heart doesn't know the difference. Even to justify or to say to a person, it's just this or just that. For her to say yours didn't do this. Yours just did this; devalues my situation and it makes it seem small and minimal, which it was not, absolutely not. So as I was thinking about this and thinking about what you've gone through, or what people are telling you, or the outside world telling you to just get over it, everybody does, it is not the truth. And that is not what your heart is saying. Whatever you have experienced, if your husband, your partner, somebody that you care about, is looking at pornography, masturbating, doing things that don't feel healthy and good to you or the relationship.
If there's lying, manipulation, deceit, if there's emotional abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, then that is harmful and painful and that causes betrayal. It causes shock, and it causes our heart to not know how to handle it, what to do, how to do it, and where to go from here. So as you think about your story, Own your story, feel it for what it is, know that it does mean something and it is okay to be upset, and you don't have to look at somebody else's, and say I shouldn't be upset because mine has not acted out with another person. You don't have to do that.
You can value your own and hold space for your own story. And you can hold space for someone else's. We're always going to find that the details of somebody else's story is either more severe, or they've been through more things than we have, or we've been through more things than they have. That's all true. And there are things that feel that are more severe, right? To me finding pornography on the TV versus him having relationships with these women online, obviously, the severity is different. It's more. But more does not mean that it doesn't affect us the same way. I was so affected by that 22 year old experience that happened. That was life changing for me.
It changed my entire belief system of trust and relationships and honoring marriage. Everything shifted that day. Even my own emotional stability, my anxiety, depressing times, not being able to stay at a job, all of those things happened, because I went through betrayal. So the severity doesn't matter. So as we are learning, as we are hearing other people's stories, we don't need to devalue our own and we also don't need to devalue somebody else's. So what happens now? We know our story, we feel it, we see it, we understand that we're in trauma, we finally feel validated that, okay, somebody gets it.
Other people are trying to tell me that, who cares? It doesn't matter. Let it go forgive and forget. But this woman is telling me that it's okay that I feel the pain. It's okay, that this trauma that happened to me is causing me fear and anxiety, anger and sadness. So with that, what do we do? It goes back to that quote that I told you, for things to change, I must change for things to get better, I must get better. So how are we going to do that? How do we change? And how do we get better? What are the tools that we need? We've talked about them a lot. over the weeks of this podcast. We've talked about seeing clear.
We've talked about taking the blinders off so we recognize truth. We've talked about boundaries, and how to hold them and why we're not because of fear. We talked about how to get through that. So many different things we've talked about. So where do we go when we finally accept what our story is, when we finally see the relationship that we're in and how it's caused harm to us? We finally recognize that when people tell us to get over it, we don't actually have to and we're really not even supposed to. What do we do? How do we go from here to there?
How do we take our new story that feels so fresh, or so heartbreaking, where we can just just take your hands and put them on your heart, cross your hands over each other and put them right on your heart and just press into your heart. You felt something. You've been through something so hard, and so devastating, and you are trying to learn and pick up the pieces. So how do we do that when we don't know how? We start with the very beginning of acceptance of truth, and we go to God. We pray to Him. We tell him what we're feeling. We're telling him what we have found out what we've been through. He knows it already. And we asked him to show us our next step.
At the beginning how I talked about how I asked him to show me what I needed to forgive. And he did. Every day I've asked that he showed me a little piece that I was holding on to or maybe that I let back into my life of not forgiving and he showed it to me. He will show us what we need to do and how to do it. He will offer us tools like we've also talked about previously. When we come to this place of realization, we sometimes create that illusion of what we want of what our heart wants, which we've also talked about several times. But this is a common thing that we constantly are bringing back in, because our heart really does want to, to work out one way.
So the way to healing is keeping out of the illusion, the pretend, the facade, the wishful thinking, the hope of how it should end up. And the way we keep out of the illusion is by staying with God. We stay with him, not with what we think our heart wants, so bad. We want good things. There's nothing wrong with what we want. But in order to change and to heal and feel better, we have to stay out of the illusion. So that is huge. I wish I would have known that I was thinking about the other day, how I wish I had had someone telling me they understood; that they knew how to do it. I met people. I met my closest friends in 12 step group, we're still friends today. I love them so much.
We were all the same place. We were all in this place of we found out, we're at 12 step, we're doing the work, and we're trying to heal. But to have somebody come before me and say, Hey, here is a map, here's an outline, here is what it looks like, here's what you're doing. Just even to know my belief system was so flawed, and I was trying to save another person, when we truly cannot save another person, we can't. We are not even capable of actually saving somebody else's soul. Yet, that's what I was trying for.
To have a program or books or things that told me how to do it would have been so wonderful, because it would have sped up my process of understanding. But I didn't. And so that's the reason I do what I do now, for you. That's the reason I wrote my book. My book is different than most recovery books, because I talked about it, it's like it's in journal form. I'm talking to you, I'm writing in the middle of chaos, when things are happening. I'm writing when things all fill up in the air, and I don't know how to navigate. And I'm sharing that with you in real time. There's something great about that.
It's not just a list of education, of gaining knowledge, it's not from your brain, it's from your heart. Finding somebody that shares their heart with you, is different than talking to you from an educational brain standpoint. That's all important. I'm glad I read about what addiction was. I'm glad I found out how our brain works and how the addicts brain changes. And they can't actually heal until they start changing those pathways. I'm glad I got to know that stuff. It's important to know those things. But for me to talk to you heart to heart, where you know I get it; where when I say something and you send me messages saying that was exactly me.
That was my story. Or they'll say that exactly the same. The addiction wasn't the same. Mine is something different but I felt the same way he acted the same way. When we share our hearts like that we can get better we can heal. So by taking your heart, taking what's happened in your story, and finding healing based on people that have shared something similar and do what they do. That's how I had to find my healing. I joined groups, I went to conferences, I listened to talks and I found people that were doing it.
There's gonna be plenty people around you; people you love included family members that mean well, but are going to tell you to get over it to forgive them forget; that it's your job to keep a family together, that it's your job to save a marriage. That's not at all true. It is not your job. Your job is to be healthy, is to heal from trauma, and so that you can gain insight into how you're supposed to navigate. That could mean staying together that might not mean staying together. And that's all okay. As I continued on with counselling, I learned that a huge part of my identity was helping fix and save someone.
That made me feel like I was something. If it all looked well on the outside or if I on the inside, I was just working everything so hard because in the end it was nobody was even going to know that any of this has happened because we made it through basically putting a smile on my face and dying inside. That was my identity. That's what I was striving for the whole time and I thought it was my role and I thought it was my job. Now it wasn't a lie that I was a happy person. I was. I totally was. I wanted to have that still show. I didn't want to lose that. But the other piece was wasn't true. That was a lie.
It was a lie that I was taking on that role of saving another person that it was my duty, my job, who else would? It just doesn't work that way. I had an experience where I was praying. I knew that my husband, I think he needed to leave, and I was worried about how he would manage because I wasn't there. And I was praying, and I had heard this thing about that he needed to leave and, I was like, but Heavenly Father, What? How am I supposed to do that? He's gonna have no one. And the whisper came back to me, he will have me. And I said, What if he doesn't choose you? And he said, He's not choosing me right now anyway.
Oh, my gosh, my heart sank. I was kneeling on the side of my bed and my body just crumbled. And I'm like, That is so true. he's not, he's not choosing you, you would be there for him if he chose you. And he wasn't choosing you. It was heartbreaking. But it was also such a good realization for me to see that if my husband isn't even choosing to let God help him. Who am I? How am I supposed to help them? I had to let go. I had to give him over. There was a point where I started needing to every time I was thinking about fixing him or helping him or I would look at him and I would get so upset or anxious in my mind, or stories would start scrolling through my mind making up stories or real stories. And I would start kind of getting into my own head, I had to imagine the Savior in front of me instead.
I thought of God. And then I thought of Jesus Christ, and I put Jesus Christ in the space of where my husband was standing in my mind. That way, I was looking at Christ, my Savior, the one who cares about me and loves me and wants what's best for me, instead of my addict spouse. That grounded me, that reminded me of what's important that reminded me to let go, that it was not my job to do this. that all I was responsible for, is getting better and staying in the truth, and changing my own patterns and beliefs. I needed to get out of that place where my identity was tied up, in if he chose us or not, if I saved him or not.
Because then what happens? When I can't personally save somebody, then who am I? What happens to my worth? It goes down. And it's not necessary, because my worth is not tied to whether or not I can save a person or change a person. I am not capable of changing anybody else, only myself. So that's how you start with the healing. You start looking at those things and looking at your story, seeing where you need to heal. What is it? What are the pieces that you can start healing from? Can you start looking at things differently? What do you want to change in your beliefs so that you can become better? And where can you find those things? Is it in things like my book or my podcast? Is it with your counselor? Is it with energy work? Is it with 12 step?
What is it. But whatever it is, find your surrounding people or program that's going to help you. Find it from people who know and get it. Find a counselor that specializes in trauma or abuse or addiction, something, whatever it is you're experiencing, they need to know how to do that. Because again, which we've said before is this is not a marriage issue. This is an addiction issue or trauma issue. And a marriage can't be fixed by communication, if addiction is in the way. And if we aren't healing trauma. So take a look at that.
See what's happening in your life there. What you can use as your resources. Because acceptance is key. If not, it messes everything up. If you can't accept the truth, then how can God show you. If you can't accept what the reality of your situation is, or your part in not healing is, if you don't let him show you if you don't accept it, then he can't show you. If I wouldn't have accepted that something was in my way I wouldn't have been able to hear when my energy worker said I think it's forgiveness. I wouldn't have been able to go to God and say, Hey, what do I need to forgive? He wouldn't have been able to show me if I was not willing to accept.
If I wasn't willing to accept that I still had work to do that I still have work to do that the work never ends, that there's always something to heal or recover from or look at. There's a wound that surfaces in some way. It doesn't make everything go away because we do the work. However, it does make us strong and it makes us capable and we live in truth and we don't live in trauma anymore. That trauma is paralyzing. It stops us from doing anything. It keeps us In sad victim unable to move, feeling like there's no way out that we're stuck forever, when healing is just around the corner. But we have to come to acceptance and we have to look for the tools. And we have to be willing to take advantage of what those tools are.
Sometimes it costs money. Sometimes it's expensive. But a lot of times the things that really are worth it are the things that we need that will change our lives will cost us something. You will be shown if that's what you need, you will be shown how to make that happen. You will be given an opportunity, or you will be able to make some extra money or something will happen for you if God really wants you to do something. If he really wants you to do a specific program or a specific counselor, he will show you how to do it. But we have to be willing to accept, we can't say no, there's no way there's no way. Because that just keeps us stuck longer. And if we want healing, we have to step on it today.
We have to choose it today. We have to choose in to doing whatever is required, so that in one, two, three years, we're feeling better. They told me that addiction recovery is three to five years of active recovery for an addict to heal, and betrayal and trauma is two to four. That's if you have the right programs. I was already trying things beforehand. But I didn't have all the right tools to get me through. So it took me a little bit longer. But once I did, I understood the concepts. All the things that became hard at first, like there's no way I can accept this, there's no way I can forgive this; everything that felt impossible became possible, because I accepted healing and I accepted what I needed to do.
I know you can do it. It is difficult, but there really is help. I'm here. I share with you every week, what I think you guys need, or the majority of you guys need. And I hope that you can take something out of it each and every time. You can go back and re listen to them and find different pieces that you didn't hear the last time. Our body and mind only tak in so much every time we hear something. So if you had a particular episode that helps you go back and listen again and see if there's something else that can aid you or guide you to your next step to your next acceptance to your next level of healing. I think about you all the time, I pray for you and I know that together we can do this and I'm so hopeful that as you do the work you will continue to find happiness and healing. I'll see you next time.