Episode 28: How Do I Go Out of Town When I Don't Trust my Spouse?
There is a way to live your own life and not be a prisoner to the what if's. Learn the phrases you need that will help you let go of trying to control what he does or does not do so that you can be happy and free.
Today I had somebody email me and they had a question about how do you leave and go somewhere without your spouse after you've been betrayed, the trauma and the triggers are through the roof. And it feels as though you cannot leave because what if they do something when, when you're gone? What if they act out because you weren't there? First of all, can you hear even in those words, they acted out because I wasn't there. Does that actually sound right?
It might feel right, if that's how we're living. But we cannot control another person. In my experience, it didn't matter if I was home or out of town or in the other room, my husband acted out. It's a false sense of control, when we think that what we're doing can save another person. Is that hitting you hard, is that making you feel uncomfortable. The reason we're going to talk about this is because we want to live free, we want to be happy, we want to feel healthy, and we want to be able to go live our lives, and do some things that are for us, whether it's for fun or for our healing, we want to be able to live.
The first step in this though, is to want to know the truth. Wanting the truth, living in the truth, accepting the truth, really is imperative to be able to function and continue forward. whether or not your spouse is sober or in recovery or not. It helps you make better choices. So for me, when I used to feel that way, when I'd feel threatened, unsure we're going to be apart for a few days, what's going to happen? What's he going to do? Is he going to act out? Is it going to? Is he going to meet up with an affair partner? Is he going to go to a club like I don't even know, right?
I didn't know what his addiction was, at the time, I had no idea what he did when he had the time or when he made the time to view pornography, or any sort of acting out in his sex addiction. Wanting to accept the truth, whatever it is, is what will set you free. For example, if I was to tell myself, okay, so I want to go out of town, I want to go do this fun thing. But I'm super worried about what if he does something. So what I would tell myself, when I would be placed in these kind of situations, I would say to myself something like, okay, so remember, when you found out about his addiction, you were home, he acted out in our home at his office, it wasn't always when I was out of town.
So I tell myself that then I would say so it's a false sense of control, if you think staying here is going to make a difference. If he acts out when you're here, he might be acting out when you're gone too. But it's nothing that you can control. You cannot control what he does or does not do. Whether you're there or not. It's a helpful piece of information because it allows you to let go of the possibilities. And it allows you to let go of that you have any part of this, this is all up to him. And the reason that it's even more important to accept that this is him is because you want to know that he's choosing recovery on his own.
You want to know the truth. If he's sober and he's in, he's living in recovery, and he's trying to do the work. You want to know that if you have somewhere to go, if you're living your life, if you're trying to do something for you, that he can be honest and accountable and do his recovery work. If he can't, that's not because you left. That's because he chose not to use his tools. That is the truth. And that just shows you where he is. It shows you Oh, he still has a problem in his addiction. I know it's terrible, and I know it's awful. But if he has a problem when you're gone, he still has a problem when you're there.
He might just have a better grasp on white knuckling it. He wants to be functional. He wants to be healthy. He wants to be able to manage his life as well. He wants to know that he can make it through the triggers. If he is seeing a counselor. He can talk to a counselor he can say hey, my spouse is going out of town and I want to set in place a plan kind of a recovery plan or a focus on my healing plan, and the counselor can talk to him about setting up some guidelines for himself so that he can follow. This will not only help him in his recovery, but it also is a sign to you that he's trying that he wants to be honest with you, and he wants to do good things that he wants to change. This is what you want to know.
Because otherwise, you're always left feeling that you don't know. I'm not sure I think he might be in recovery. But I'm not totally sure. This lets you find out what the truth actually is. It's hard because we don't want them to act out. I know what the trauma is, I know what the triggers are, I get it, I was overcome with chaos and fear and panic, when I would think about the possibility of my spouse acting out. It felt better to me to stay home, so that he didn't, so that I could watch him and monitor and walk by and make sure he's not doing anything on the computer and, and keep my one eye on his phone.
While he's holding it to make sure he wasn't doing anything wrong. He wasn't even aware he might have known I was doing that. But me, it just made me feel chaotic. I felt totally overwhelmed and overtaken with fear. I was hyper vigilant. And hyper vigilant, showed me that I wasn't healing that I wasn't living in my own recovery, we want to come to that place of calm, where we can accept what the truth is. So if we want to go somewhere, if we want to do something, if we want to, we want to work on our healing, and we have the retreat to go to like mine that's coming up.
If you if you have a conference you want to attend, if you want to go on a girls trip with your, with your sisters or some girlfriends, go, learn what you need to do in order to get yourself there. Visit with your counselor, so that you can work on the trauma and the triggers. So that you can live, you want to be able to tell yourself that okay, this is not mine to own. This is his I'm not going to control it, I want to see that he's choosing it for himself. Because really, I really do want to know if he's gonna choose recovery for himself. I want to feel safe, right?
That unsafe feeling where you're constantly looking over your shoulder, where the panic rushes to your heart, and it just starts racing uncontrollably, and you just feel like something is wrong. Sometimes there is something wrong, and sometimes it's trauma. Sometimes that heart racing feeling is because something triggered our fear. And our body is saying oh, whoa, whoa, hey, hey, hey, we don't we don't like this feeling. We feel like this is something bad that's going to happen. And we try to control it. But controlling it doesn't work.
I don't know how many times I asked my husband at that time, if he was acting out. Are you doing something? Are you meeting up with somebody? Are you looking at pornography? What's going on? This feels weird. Something's wrong. No, no, I'm not doing anything. I love you. I was left feeling crazy in my head, like, okay, it feels like I know what I'm talking about. But he keeps saying it's not. And he's so nice. That maybe I'm wrong. Maybe my intuition isn't catching this, right. But I was catching it right. The hard part is accepting the truth because we don't know what the outcome is. And I know that that's difficult, because we don't want to be divorced. I didn't want to be divorced.
But in the end, I waned truth. And if the truth for me was that he was not going to choose recovery. Why would I want to be in that prison cell with the knowledge that he wasn't choosing himself? He wasn't choosing God and he wasn't choosing me? Do I want to live in a marriage that is unsafe, where I could get STDs where I never knew if my spouse was honest or not. No, I didn't. I wanted to feel safe and loved. And like I had a partner. So even though in the end for my situation, mine didn't choose recovery. And divorce ended up being the choice that I made. That was the best most freeing decision I could have done.
Hard. Yes. Painful, crazy, awful. So many resentments that built up after that, yes, a lot of healing work I had to do. Yes, every single day was a struggle. Divorce was not easy. But the difference was that my soul felt at peace, that I could walk into my own home and breathe because I knew my home was a place of love, peace and safety. There's something to say about knowing the truth. There's a lot of fear in those possibilities. If I go somewhere and he acts out then what we don't need to get trapped into thinking about the future. We just need to think about the present moment, what it is we need, what we should be doing to get that need met, and how can we take the steps to do it.
So if you are feeling like you want to do something, maybe you want to go back to school, maybe you want to start a new job, maybe you just want to go visit family, and you feel like you're trapped, and you can't look at what it is that you really want to do. And work on that. As you meet with your counselor and work on trauma work, and trauma, healing and therapy, you'll be able to kind of remove yourself from the addiction, and from what he has actually done, so that you'll be healing it aside from him.
When we pull everything together, it's hard to navigate because everything feels stressful, everything makes you feel panicked. So when you're doing your work, a counselor can show you what your traumas are, what the triggers are, how to navigate how to see them clear, and then how to let them go not forgive and forget not like that, but let them go where you can give them back to the person who betrayed you. Okay, so the lies, manipulation, deceit, the acting out the betrayal infidelity, whatever it is, that is not mine to carry, I'm going to give it back to him. And now what's left is the consequence of his choices. So the pain and the sadness, and now the fear and the triggers.
And so then then you have those things, you have basically the wound, right, so we have to heal the wound that happened. As we heal the wound, we'll be able to separate ourselves from thinking that we should be controlling the addiction, because we'll see more clearly that has nothing to do with us. Just like we said at the beginning, he's going to act out if he wants to no matter what, he'll choose that no matter what he'll find a way no matter what, even if you're there, and you're trying to monitor him and and follow him around, he will find a way. If he knows you're getting in the shower, or you have to run your child somewhere. And he only has those five minutes. If he wants to act out he will.
So you want to separate yourself so that you don't feel crazy. So that you can say okay, well, I hope he doesn't, I hope that he chooses recovery. I hope when I'm gone when I'm out of town, when I'm at the grocery store, he chooses recovery. That's what I hope. And I'm just going to watch and look and see if his words and actions match. And I'm just going to hope that he chooses recovery. If he doesn't choose recovery, I'm going to be working on boundaries with my counselor, so that I know what to do for myself, so that I can stay in a place of peace instead of chaos. The triggers can own you if we don't heal them. years ago, I was dropping off my kids at a youth camp in the summer. And this was around Fourth of July, there was a parade that was being set up. I actually wrote this in my book cutting ties.
And all these people were outside setting up all the barriers and and it was a hot day it was over 100 degrees. There were so many young people. It was a college town. So there were just all of these cute girls just just walking around. They were just doing their thing. And I felt panic, just totally overtake my body. It was so stressful. The reason why is because those people would have been part of my husband's addiction. I wasn't even with my husband at that time. But the trigger was still there. The trauma was still there. So can you see that he wasn't even there. Yet my body had a reaction as if he was and if somehow I was threatened.
Just because they were out having a good time, wearing shorts. Like nothing was wrong. In my healthy brain. Everything was fine. But in my trauma brain. I was an absolute disaster. I seriously almost had a panic attack, just driving down that street. And I had to rush and sit and pray and talk to God and say, Oh my goodness, okay, okay, this is crazy. Like, I am seriously breaking down here. What am I supposed to do? I then started more work on the traumas and the triggers that happen surrounding the threats I felt or that I had made up in my head that could cause me harm. In my mind, every single person out there was a threat to me.
Every single person would entice my spouse to act out. It's completely false. That was a false story that I was making up in my head. I have no idea who or what or when or why my husband would choose addiction or would choose acting out. In those moments. I felt there is no way I'm going to be able to manage my life and be in public anymore. ever again, I'm never going to be able to go to the beach, I'm never going to be able to go shopping. Clearly I can't go to a parade, I was out of my mind is that any way to live, that does not feel good. If you are in that place right now, where your traumas and your triggers are coming up like that, you are not alone. There are so many of us who have felt this way it is normal.
What you are feeling is normal, it's your body's way of responding to the possible threat. It's your body's way of saying I'm going to protect you this time, your body's trying to do a good job. But we don't need to protect it that way. So we have to talk to our body, we have to thank you for protecting me, but we are going to get help in another way. Choosing to get the help will allow you to be able to live your life where you can accomplish things where you can be proud of yourself for going out and doing something.
When you let go of possibilities of what somebody else is choosing to do. You regain your life. If you can tell yourself when you want to go out or do something aside from your spouse, when you can say to yourself, okay, I'm gonna let him have his choices. He gets to choose what he wants to do, because he is a grown person. And I'm hopeful that he's going to choose to do something that aligns with our committed relationship. And if he doesn't, then I'm going to know the truth. And that's just going to show me that I need to do boundary work, or I need to separate or I need to choose divorce depending on what it is and what your boundary is.
Now let's talk for a second about if your spouse is in recovery, the damage doesn't just heal automatically, it's already been done, the healing work still has to happen, it's going to take you a few years to get through it. Even if you have a super supportive spouse that is doing all the recovery work. That is completely understanding of your trauma and your triggers that when you feel freaked out, he is able to say I know I am so sorry, I did that to you. I'm so sorry now that you have to do this work because of my choices, we want to hear that and that is so great. But that doesn't take away the fact that you still have to do your work to heal.
So let's just say your spouse does have a counselor, they are choosing recovery, and you want to go out of town and you're nervous, you can again, say all the things that I said in the beginning, let it go. He's going to choose it if he wants to anyway, it doesn't matter. You can't control it, right, all those things. But you can also ask him to put a safety plan in place. I mentioned this at the beginning of the episode just a little bit. So we're going to talk a little bit more in depth about what that actually looks like. For him to put a safety plan in place.
You can say, Hey, I really want to go out of town, I'm nervous, it would make me feel really good If you put a safety plan in place, he can meet with his counselor, they can talk about what that looks like, he can come home and share it with you. And then you guys can decide how that's gonna look, are you gonna check in while you're away? Or are you going to go have fun on your vacation, and then talk when you get home and he's going to tell you how it worked. Whatever it feels right to you guys. You guys figure it out. You can even have boundaries around the plan. You can say to him, if for some reason you don't follow the plan while I'm gone.
I don't want you to tell me when I'm gone. I want you to tell me when I come home because I really want to take in everything I can with this trip that I'm going on. I don't want to be in trauma away from you away from the situation and you tell me something terrible. I want to be in my own safe space, you can say something like that. Or if you want to know, you can ask to know right away if something happens. But the whole plan is for himself to is that he's putting a plan in place. So that he can feel confident and good about staying in recovery. If he's working it, he doesn't want to act out when you're gone.
He also wants to see where he's at in his addiction. He wants to know that he can be strong and proud of himself for doing the work. Being able to let each other heal and recover in the ways that we each need is very empowering. And it makes us stronger. And even as a couple as each of you do your healing work, you become stronger individually. And as a couple, you can go on your trip, he can do his work, you can come back you can talk about it.
You can talk about how great it felt, to know that you can even talk about I still had some trauma or some triggers. I was worried about this. That's great. Be aware. Talk about those things, bring them back to counseling so that you can do another level of your healing. You can see what came up for you in those moments. This is really the best kind of self care you can give yourself, setting boundaries, letting go of things you can't control and doing things that help you thrive in your life.
It's important that we take the time and that we value ourselves, enough to do things that will better our lives, going to counseling, doing group therapy, going to conferences, attending retreats, anything surrounding our healing, and our knowledge and our education is so beneficial. There are many of us that will go to Costco and spend a lot of money. But then we don't feel like we can spend money just on ourselves. As you choose to heal you, your entire family heals, when you can find peace and freedom and happiness. Aside from the betrayal, it resonates to everyone in your relationships, you can see it you can feel when somebody is burdened and overwhelmed, and sad and in pain.
You can also see when somebody is bright, and looks like sun coming out their eyes and full of life. That doesn't even mean that they're not going through hard things. That means that they're doing the work to be able to still live. Take a note for a second, just stop and think about where you're at. How is this affecting you? Does it feel like Yes, okay, I want to do my work, I want to heal, I want to go somewhere for me, I want to do something that has to do with my healing. I'm going to strive to let go of controlling the outcome of someone else. Do you feel like that?
Or do you just feel completely overwhelmed with fear, pay attention to what your body is telling you so that you know what kind of healing you need. All it is is awareness, your body's just saying, Hey, this is where we're at. There's no shame in feeling any of it. You can be in pain, and you can think no way there's no way I'm going to leave and go to town with my spouse at home, I do not trust him one bit. That's okay. If you feel that way, that's the truth. You do not trust him one bit. So you feel fearful of leaving. So that's where you start. That's where your body is.
That's what you take to counseling. That's what you read about working on being okay, with the pain with the possibilities and knowing how to manage them, not manage him manage your triggers and traumas manage the fears. Have you come to that place? Did it feel like kind of this new awareness where you're like, Okay, why did I think all this time that I had some sort of control over whether he acted out or not? I really believed that if I just stayed home, and kind of gave up my life, that all would be okay.
Are you now feeling and seeing that there's another way, there is another way 12 step work, support groups, podcasts like these, books, friends in recovery support systems, all can show you the way, this is not something that you have to figure out on your own. I mean, who can this stuff is crazy. The first year 2012 to 2013 before I knew about recovery groups, and 12 step, I was doing it by myself. And not even counting the 17 years before that, when nobody knew that I kept finding things that my husband was doing. Throughout the years, I was holding all of that by myself, you know how painful that was. You know how isolating that was, I didn't want anybody to know, I was going to try to figure this out.
Because in my mind, I was the only person that had a spouse doing this. I had no idea how prevalent it was. I had no idea the struggle was so real and so big. I thought it was him doing this to me, completely untrue. He wasn't even doing it to me. That was just the consequence of his actions is that it hurt me in the meantime, and that he was lying and deceiving and manipulating. But really, he was destroying himself. Addiction is a destroyer. It takes really good people that really could be good, and do really neat things and have a really strong family.
And it changes them. It changes them to not be present and committed and responsible and honest. It's so important to do the work. It's also important for the spouse to see these things and learn to be educated so that you know what you're dealing with. And again, so that you can see Oh, this is so amazing. I'm not alone. I'm not the only one. It's not me. We have to just keep going. We have to try and try again. Even though we may not be the addict. We continually relapse over and over. We relapse in our false beliefs, in our bad patterns, in our stories that are in our head. We have to continually challenge those things. And we may want to say I give up I can't keep doing this. What are we supposed to do after we go back we've been doing so well and we relapse in our own healing.
We start again, we do it again. We keep going. We get back out our workbooks, we go to 12 steps we recommit and we say okay, oh no, we don't like feeling this way. This is the death trap. We want to be happy and healthy. And we try again. It's the same kind of tools in recovery for addiction. When someone relapses, should it be all as lost? It shouldn't, it shouldn't be all as lost. They shouldn't feel like Well, I guess I can't recover. So I'm just going to live with this. I'm just going to stay in it. But the shame and the guilt say that to them. That's their story that they're making up in their head. A lot of the time. No, it's like, why did I relapse? Let's look at it.
Let's see what tool I forgot to use. Let's see what story I was telling myself in my head. Let's go to the work, let's get the work book out. Let's go to 12 step. They can do the work, you can do the work, even though you didn't cause this. It happened. It's part of your life. If you live by a river, and it floods and floods your house, you have to do the work to get your house back in order. It costs you a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of misery, a lot of lost items, a lot of grief and pain, betrayal, and trauma and infidelity. And everything that comes with any sort of trauma like that takes time takes effort takes money.
And there's a lot of grieving, you grieve the losses as you go, you grieve the fact that you have to do so much work, you grieve the fact that, that your spouse wasn't honest, you grieve that you didn't have the love you thought or that you wanted or that you intended. All of it is worth grieving, you can have the grief and pain and sadness. And you can also have, I still love this person, I want to do the work, I see that they're doing the work. I'm so proud of them. I'm so proud of me. And I feel so much pain, hate and resentment. When you're going through healing when you're working on these things, all of its going to be there. It's all okay.
It all has to be dealt with. As you let go of what they're doing. And you let them work on their healing. And you watch and see if they do and you work on your healing. And you go to counseling, and you talk about together what each other is struggling with. You can make it you can be healthy on your own if you do the work. So can they if you both do the work, the relationship really might work. And it may even be better. I've seen it I've seen it happen. If you do your work, and they don't, you're going to be healthy, and you're going to want to be free and feel good just as I did when divorce was the option for me. When I saw and was shown over and over and over that he wasn't going to choose recovery work. I had a choice to make.
And because I had been doing mine, I could boldly choose me. And it felt so good. It felt like such a relief. So if we go back to the beginning, where we're talking about how can I go out of town? How can I leave when I don't know if I can trust my spouse? How are you going to do that, you're going to keep telling yourself over and over. That it's not your job to control somebody else. These are your hopes and wishes. You can express them but you are going to live your life, you are going to see what's blocking you see what's keeping you stuck, you're going to notice them, you're going to see that as truth, you're going to start working on it.
And you're going to find these pieces of happiness along the way as you do that. It makes life so much more enjoyable because it balances it out. It makes it so it's not all painful and sad. It gives you the light here and there. It gives you the reprieve that makes you okay, I can keep going I can keep doing this because I saw something that was good. There was a result that happened. That made me feel better. And it showed me that I am recovering. That's so great. It feels so good to do that. So as you're noticing what it is what you have to work on.
If you need any help, please reach out. There are a few spots left for my upcoming retreat. So you can head to the website. Look at that. Ask me questions if you want to. I would love to have you there. If you feel that you are ready to take it to the next level and move forward with your mindset. Then please come please attend. please reach out and I'll see you next time.