Episode 2: First Steps to Healing Betrayal and Trauma
It was time to accept my reality. The truth was staring me in the face. I needed to heal me...but how?
Today, we are going to be talking about the first steps to healing and what that looks like. We all have gone through different things in our lives. And if you listen to my first episode, you know that I was married to someone who struggled with addiction for over 20 years. So that 21 years, brought on a lot of lies, manipulation, deceit, gaslighting, a lot of trauma, a lot of emotional abuse that I didn't realize I was in until I was out of it.
That included things like mocking, laughing, rolling the eyes, saying things to me, like I was crazy, that I was the one who needed medication and that if I got medication, then he would stay with me things like that. Things that were not true. And things that I had to sort through once I got myself into recovery.
Last time we talked, I asked you guys to do something hard this week, do something towards your healing. And maybe you need a little bit more specifics. So that you can go into battle for saving your life, saving yourself and becoming whole and happy and at peace.
For me first steps, when I first found out that my husband had a pornography issue, I was 22 years old, I'd only been married for six months. And at that point, I didn't even know what I was dealing with. I was not really familiar with pornography addiction. I didn't even know it was an addiction, I thought it was more of a choice. And so when I found it, for the first time, I just was completely shocked. And I just my heart sank, honestly.
From that point on, I started having all of this anxiety, I couldn't stay at work, I felt stressed. And I didn't know what he was doing at home. And it was the beginning of realizing that I didn't have any trust for my husband. And here I was just newly married I was I was young. I didn't have any background or knowledge on what I was supposed to do with something so heavy.
I reached out to a church leader. And we talked with him. And he did give us some good insight and some things to work on as far as building our relationship with God. But not anything addiction related. And so the years just kept going by and I kept finding things over and over and over.
At one point, I had two little kids at home. And I was cleaning out the video cupboard with their VHS videotapes of all their Disney movies. And I found a videotape hiding in theirs of pornography that just stunned me, I thought, Oh my gosh, like my children, like this is hiding in my children's things. All it was so shocking. But at the time, I didn't know what to do with it.
I took on the role of saving my family. And I decided, well, I'm just going to be better and do more and be sweeter and kinder and nicer and cuter. That's that's how we're going to do this, which obviously, I was taking on this ownership of trying to manage what he was doing. Where what he was doing was his choice. It had nothing to do with me.
For 17 years this went on until one day I was led to find something that was bigger. And even though all those years, I knew that the things I found were not okay, it's like I wasn't ready to really see clearly what the reality was of my situation. I didn't want to face the truth. But here we were 17 years and I found something bigger. And at that point, my gut instinct, my higher power, God told me, you know what this is. The time is now. Are you going to keep pretending that this isn't happening? Or are you ready to do the work?
At that moment, I had a choice to make. Was I ready? Was I ready to look at what this really was? Was I ready to uncover all that had happened over the years, and choose to be someone different? Well, I decided that I couldn't keep going on day after day, not ever trusting my husband. Because I didn't since that very first day, six months into marriage, I never trusted him again. And that is just such an awful way to live in a relationship.
Because even though we had so many good things going on, and had lots of great times, and there was so much love, there was also all of these lies, there was all of this betrayal and infidelity. And I didn't know the majority of it that was going on. So at this point, at 17 years, when I was kind of awakened to reality, I made that choice. And I decided, Okay, I'm going to do the work.
I didn't know what to look like, I didn't know what that would entail. I had no idea what healing even meant. But we visited with our church leader, and I was just praying the whole way over saying, Oh, my gosh, please, please God, tell him to give us something more than just building a relationship with you. Obviously, our relationship with God is going to be the thing that gets us through anything. But at this point, we needed education, we needed knowledge, we need to know what this was, Why is he choosing to act out in this manner, all the time.
As we're going there to meet with our leader, that's what I'm pleading for. I need something more for us to do. I need to be able to figure this out. I felt like I was going to go crazy, because I couldn't control any of it and I couldn't fix any of it. So as we sat there, my prayer was answered. And our church leader introduced us to ARP, which is addiction recovery program. It is a 12 step program, just like AA, and this one is dealing specifically with pornography and sex addiction.
He told my husband that he needed to go to this meeting, and that I needed to go to the one for spouses of addicts. And we agreed and I felt so great, and so nervous, and so anxious, and all these mixed feelings. But for the first time, I felt like okay, there might be some way something that can help us. So that was my first step in starting to find the healing process.
When I walked into that first meeting, I was a disaster. I was a nervous wreck. I did not want to go. I was worried about who I would see there. What if I knew somebody, then they would know? And that makes sense. But once I got in there and realized that, actually, the people in there are your safe place. They're dealing with the same things you are. And there's something amazing about it. Having all of these eyes and warm arms surround you with with love and hope.
As I sat in that meeting, I listened to the person that was facilitating it. She just had this light about her. And here I was, I had been spinning in this fog, I couldn't even think straight. I was driving my car and didn't even realize how I got from one place to another. I was in that place of oh my goodness, like my life. I don't even know what it is. My life felt like a lie. And here I was walking into this meeting, that I felt like Why? Why am I even here, this is just the craziest thing.
But I'm listening to her and she is light and hopeful and happy. She's smiling. And she's crying. And I'm thinking looking at her going, she's feeling all of these different things. And she's doing it. She's doing okay. She's actually healing. And I thought that was really powerful. And I left that meeting for the first time feeling that there was, there really was hope that maybe just maybe I'd be okay. And maybe my relationship would be okay.
Now at that time, I thought my job was going to be to learn everything I could so that I could fix him so that I could fix the marriage and do everything I could to support him in healing from his addiction. But what I quickly learned was this was a place for me that I had had so many years of living with someone who lied and manipulated and deceived, that my thinking wasn't clear that my belief system that I had made up in my mind was not correct, and that I had been traumatized that I basically been in an accident that wounded me severely, and so I needed help.
There's a lot of Different ways to say the story, you've probably heard several different ones. But one of them that I like is that if I was actually in an accident, like, I was in a car accident, I was hit by a truck, I would be wounded. And that person that hit me would probably have to pay the damages, maybe pay the medical bills, but that person wasn't going to be sitting by me every day, and healing me. That person who caused the damage wasn't going to be doing any other work in my healing besides paying for it.
That's it, my thinking had to change. All I thought would work was if my husband fixes this, if he stops doing these things, I will be okay. What I didn't realize until I sat in those 12 step meetings was the damage had already been done. That betrayal, that trauma that I experienced, the abuse from that kind of treatment was already inflicted. So what was I going to do? I had to heal. And I had to learn quickly that he couldn't do it for me.
Just like in an accident, I may have broken bones, I may have to be in the hospital, I may need crutches or a wheelchair, I may have to go to physical therapy for a year or two, I may have to go to counseling because of the trauma of being hit by a car. I don't know. But whatever the treatment was that I was going to need, I was going to have to choose to do it. And that was the same with this.
It didn't make any sense. And I was angry at first. I was so mad that I would have to take on basically this full time job of finding my own healing when I didn't cause any of it. And I had some real resentments towards it at first. But as I decided what would the alternative was? Either I was going to stay brokenhearted in a depressed state, basically in a ball on my closet floor, or am I going to do all of this healing work? Am I going to read the material Am I going to get a counselor and I'm going to work through my false beliefs that I have carried with me since really childhood. But then more so once I started finding out about this addiction.
My first step to healing was recognize and acknowledge that even though something bad happened, I had to figure out what the work was that I needed to heal and change me. And so that's what I did. I went to a full two years of 12 step before I was introduced to counseling. Now counseling is my favorite thing ever. I love it so much. I didn't grow up with counseling. I didn't know that it was okay. I didn't. I wasn't told it wasn't okay. But it wasn't something that my family did. And so I didn't have any ways of knowing that it would work or that it was a good thing.
I was walking with a friend one night. And she was prompted to tell me that she has a counselor and she said, I don't know why I'm supposed to tell you this. But I see this counselor. And this is why and she was in the same situation that I was in. She didn't know I was in that situation. But she felt like she needed to tell me and so she told me about this counselor. And I was like, Oh my goodness, that's exactly what I need. I could feel it. It was like the truth pierced by my heart. And so I started down on that road, which was so validating and so amazing.
Those two things, 12 step and counseling I kept doing for the next number of years to find my healing. Now in the middle of all that, I noticed how God would send me just the right people at just the right time. And I did talk about one of those stories in our first episode about my two friends and meeting me for lunch that day. That was a tender mercy. That was a gift to show me that I wasn't alone.
Through those years, and through these, the couple years of 12 step and counseling, I met some of the most amazing people. And what you find when you meet people that are going through the same thing as you are, is that there's an instant connection. It's like you can look into each other soul, and you can say, you get it, you see me, I see you and you just have this love for that person. It doesn't matter what age you are, it doesn't matter if you would normally be connected with that person. This connects you. You will quickly find your team that people who can support you.
As you're going through these hard things, as you reach out to those around you as you find the people that are in kind of your similar situations, whatever those are, you will find the help that you need. Knowing you're not alone is really that first step towards making a change because then you feel supported and what I can share with you is that you absolutely are not alone. There are so many going through exactly what you're going through. And even though the details of their story might not be exactly the same, the feeling is the same. And that's what I found in all of the work that I've done over the years.
Between 2012 and now, I have studied and learned and read and had support groups and mentored and thousands and thousands of hours into learning how to heal and how to find your support team, and systems.
To recap, our first thing that we need to do is accept reality. So look around in your mind, look around in your heart and in your home. What is your reality? And is there a piece of it that you can accept today and say, Okay, this is really the truth of what's going on, either in myself personally, in my family, in my marriage, in other relationships, even at work, what is the reality of my situation. And once you can accept the reality of your situation, then you can see it clear.
The second thing is to now that you know, and you see clear, you need to choose into the journey. You've got to figure out what it is that you need; what you need to learn, what you need support with, what information you need, whether it's books, counseling, mentor, but look around, choose into doing your journey so that you can find the healing that you need.
And then three, you have to take action, you have to do the hard work. It is so scary. That beginning walking into that first 12 step meeting so hard it was like overwhelming. When I'm when I'm crying on my floor in a ball and thinking, I do not know how to do this. I can't even tell you how many times I spent on the floor in my closet, pleading, praying, crying. I had a blanket in there. I made it my safe space. I put a picture of God in there. And and I used it as my meditation room. But I cried so many heartfelt and heartbreaking tears in that closet. Because moving forward, taking new steps is not easy. But the alternative is then you're just stuck in the pain forever.
It doesn't go away until you move through it. So those are the actions that you need to take. And as you do that you will be on your way to having the healing that you need. And this just gives hope this just says okay, I can do this. I am not alone. So glad you're here with us today. I love reaching out. I love helping people. So feel free to shoot me an email or, respond on social media and I will be there to cheer you on and support you all the way. We'll see you next time.