Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And So She Steps

***Here is your disclaimer-not that it will be long but that it will be, gasp, serious, and, who am I kidding…yeah even long…oh, wait, I told Pat I would try to make this disclaimer longer next time, dangit!  So, I'll add, I'm typing with a Migraine too, typos and grammatical errors will abound!!***

Since I transitioned over to this blog, I really haven’t discussed how much work I’ve been putting into my fourth step or my S-Anon group.  I’ve put quite a bit of emphasis on Devin’s recovery and glossing over my own. 

I think this is because it’s easier to not only point out other people’s flaws buts it’s also easier to point out their successes too.  When it comes to looking at ourselves, that isn’t nearly as easy, is it?

Today, however, I will do a little of both.  Okay, a lot of both.  I will share a bit about what I have learned from attending S-Anon, but mostly from working the hell out of my Blueprint for Progress.  This workbook has kicked the living crap out me.  And, I’m better for it.  I have one more section to complete before I’m finished with my fourth step.  I thought I’d have it done today, in time to ask someone at my meeting tomorrow to allow me to present it to them, but I woke up with a Migraine.  I can’t control the weather.  No worries, I’ll finish it up this week.  I mean look how thick this sucker is!!

hello ginormous!

So, what did I learn?  I learned that I began with the wrong attitude.  I thought I was working the steps to stop being so hyper vigilant.  As it turns out, I can’t control a behavior that was created through trauma.  What I can do is learn better ways to handle my responses.  Once I got that through my head, I really began to learn about myself.

The mantra’s I heard and dismissed at my meetings are there for a reason.  They aren’t brainwashing me into submission.  It’s not a cult.  It’s a take it or leave it attitude.  Again, I learned, I moved forward.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Keep coming back. It works if you work it. So work it, cause you're worth it!"

From working my fourth step I found that:

The things I need to keep working on:

·      I need to stop putting up walls when I’m angry
·      I need to accept help when it’s offered
·      I need to learn to ask for help
·      I need to love my 5’2” 119lbs body (to me all I see is my baby gut)
·      I need to relinquish my need to control
·      I need to watch my facial expressions (My counselor says my face “screams”)
·      I need to free myself from the guilt I have stemming from denial
·      I need to release the shame that stems from the guilt

The things that I kick ass in:

·      I am sober (over twenty years!)
·      I am a great role model for my children
·      I am strong
·      I am independent
·      I am smart
·      I am loving
·      I am funny
·      I am compassionate
·      I am patient
·      I am a decent writer
·      I am honest
·      I am loyal
·      I am a Wounded Warrior Project supporter
·      I am a great listener
·      I am a great mom
·      I am a great wife
·      I am a great friend
·      I am financially responsible
·      I am discreet
I also completed a gratitude list and I found that exercise a ton of fun!  Try it – I dare ya!!! 

What are three things I could have been grateful for the last time someone treated me unkindly or unfairly?

What are the top ten things that I am always grateful for?

What are five daily things that I am grateful for that are different from my top ten?

What would I list if I were to write the alphabet and think of one thing beginning with each letter (no repeats) for which I am grateful?

****That’s just a part of it****  Cool though, right?

Now I will move on to my five step in a week or two – admitting the exact nature of my wrongs.  Wow.  Really?   I’ve already done that, but okay, I guess I can do it again….

ETA:  I finished my Forth Step 5/31/12  =)   *sigh of relief*

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Compartmentalization showed herself to me

Like the threat of venomous snake’s bite, Compartmentalization showed herself to me briefly yesterday morning as she ran across the hazel of Devin’s eyes.  In a blink she was gone but not before leaving a slight tear across my stomach causing it to awaken.  Familiar feelings of doubt entered into my brain and caused me to enter into a state of hyper arousal.  Rather than fight the feeling, I allowed myself to stay a in a low state of vigilance, remaining aware of any red flags the remainder of the day and reflect back upon what had just happened a few minutes earlier to cause the look in Devin’s eyes.

I proceeded with my day using calming techniques to avoid escalating into full hyper arousal and hyper vigilant activities.  I left the house to stay away from Devin’s computers so I didn’t hack into them.  I ran errands and stay busy.  I prayed, I affirmed my strengths and I assured myself that the gut instinct I had was real and not imagined.

Throughout the day the red flags began to reveal themselves to me.  The various telltale signs that Devin shows when he has had a slip or relapse.  The urge to confront him about my suspicions was strong but I waited until our FANOS session that evening.

During FANOS, “O” is for OWERSHIP – a chance to apologize for any wrong doings, however Devin has been using this as a chance to say “it's been another sober day” for the last two weeks and using “S” as his list for what he’s done for Self-care to keep sober. 

We each took our turns and as the same for the last two weeks, “been another sober day” left his lips, but compartmentalization showed herself to me yet again.  She was lurking behind his eyes, which he quickly turned away from me.

When asked again, the truth of the relapse came out in full.   He broke one of his inner-circle behaviors.  When he told me, I didn’t get angry, I didn’t cry, I simply thanked him for being honest and reminded him about the importance of being open and honest with me during FANOS the first time.  He responded by letting me know that because I didn’t get upset, I had made it easier for him to do just that if a slip or relapse happened again.  He went on to assure me exactly what happened and that it didn't include any other bottom line behaviors.

After FANOS we sat and we talked for a long, long time. 
Compartmentalization showed herself to me this morning in the form of denial.  She never ceases to amaze me by her never ending supply of masks.  She is a sneaky little bitch.  I hope Devin can kick her ass because I want my husband back from her.  I miss him terribly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What A Shame! It's Workingdan!

There are bloggers who have touched my heart and who I have chosen to dedicate a post to as my way of saying “Thank You” to them for being a part of my little blogging world.

Just a few days ago, we were commenting on Pat's page about how surprised and grateful we all are to have run across each other on here.  (Watch out, Pat – you’re turn is coming up..just keep that wretched cat away from me!)

One of the bloggers that I’m so grateful to have met is Workingdan.  Sometimes I call him Dan or WD if I’m feeling particularly lazy.  He’s one those bloggers that just popped up and surprised me.  I made assumptions about him that were so far off; I should be embarrassed.  Dan knows I made those initial assumptions because I was dumb enough to put them in comments somewhere on my old blog and he never took offense. (Good thing I shut that blog down and started this one!)    

I found Dan’s blog at a time when I was moving away from blogs that dealt with what my blog primarily deals with all the time.  I needed a break. I needed to laugh.  His blog did just that, it provided me with laughter - a lot!!  I was hooked! 

He and I commented back and forth on each other’s blogs and then one day in February, I was working on my fourth step and having a tough time.  It was giving me a fit, making me angry and sad and I mentioned God in my post.  That was the day Dan revealed his true self, the inner most personal, Dan.  Not just the comedic Dan.

I’ll spare you the extra reading – just understand they are deep and personal posts and he talks about his own personal struggles and revelations that began in our comments to each other.  It was so uplifting and inspiring.  I was truly amazed that this was the same guy I’d been reading for weeks. 

Here are the links if you want to see what I’m babbling about:

Here’s his post and here's my post.

I had assumed he was just some beer drinking, football watching, peeing off the deck kind of guy…I mean where would I get that idea?  Turns out, he’s one of the kindest, insightful guys I’ve run across on Blogger. 

Dan also has a smokin’ hot wife, Mrs. Workingdan.  She makes guest appearances on his blog and her sense of humor has me laughing every time she’s on there.  Especially in her latest video!

Dan, thank you for your words of encouragement when I needed them most back in February.  You truly helped me by sharing yourself so freely on my blog.  

You rock!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm Still Awake!


It isn't just the title of an awesome song by the artist formerly known as Prince.  Or whatever he is these days.  No, I'm not fact checking.  I care not about him (so what if I had every Teen Beat picture of him plastered to my pink bedroom walls in junior high.  That was then.  This is now.)  1999 is the year of my first ever surgery.  The first time I had ever been placed under a general anesthetic.  I was petrified, only I didn't realize just how petrified I truly was.  

Why Elsie?  Why would a bad ass, who had dabbled (way to much for her own good to the point of addiction *ahem*) in illegal drugs, be scared in a controlled environment when the drugs were being administered by a professional?  A person who has gone to school for 55 years to stick that needle in your arm...or back...or pop that mask over your face.  You get my point.  (Obviously, I've never attended medical school, nor was I paying attention while being knocked out.)

Thanks to a 20/20 episode I watched a few nights before the surgery I was concerned I would be awake while under anesthesia.  The show recounted several instances of people remaining alert but being paralyzed, feeling everything.  Hello scary!  I like to think of myself as a rational person.  I knew that statistically these cases were few and far between and it made for good television.  However, the seed of fear must have been planted.  

I remember being wheeled into the operating room and speaking with my doctor then the anesthesiologist.  I recall telling him about the 20/20 show and he assured me everything was going to me fine.  I vaguely recall counting backwards and then nothing again until being back in my room several hours later feeling like I'd been hit by a mack truck.  Cool! Surgery over, homeward bound tomorrow!

A man walked in who looked vaguely familiar.  "I'm Dr. Anesthesiologist, do you remember me?"  Vague images flickered through my foggy memory bank.

"Yes, I think so.  Yes, I do!" I exclaimed, then coughed.  I found out later about the tube down my throat.

He asked if he could sit on my bed and talk for a minute.  I got a bit nervous and nodded in agreement.  He explained that he'd been practicing medicine for many years and this was the first time he had come to personally follow up on a patient. Normally he followed up with the patient's doctor to make sure the patient was doing well.  He asked if I remembered any part of my conversation with him earlier in the day so I shared what I could recall.   

He went on to explain that he had been quite concerned because although I had counted down at which point most patients simply "go under" I continued to question him about whether or not I'd be able to feel anything during the operation.  He said that I continued to talk about the 20/20 episode despite the meds he had given me...I kept on talking and talking and talking and to put it kindly, I was being rather, um paranoid, so, they decided to ramp up the dose on my "shut her up" meds.  

I think it was very cool that this doctor came by to follow up on me.  I wonder if he ever thinks about "that really paranoid chick" and laughs like I do.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stopping The Loop

Okay my Hooligans, you know I like to give you plenty of warning when a post is going to be all serious and stuff or when it’s going to be lengthy – this is one of those posts.  Consider yourself warned.  Click away now.  Don’t feel obligated to comment.  You guys should know by now I don’t work that way.  I have lurkers who are here for stuff like this.  I promise not to be offended!!  Be well and I’ll be over to your blogs in a bit (I may have an appointment with my counselor today, not sure yet).     =)


***first, my disclaimer-I’m not a doctor, I’m simply a person who has been through it and still deals with it.  I also want to state, I am not equating my relational trauma PTSD as being anywhere equal to combat PTSD. I love and support our military vets***

Relational Trauma PTSD

First, a little bit about the PTSD, I promise you, you are not crazy.  I spoke with someone yesterday who didn’t realize that her mind has created a loop.  A pattern that must be broken.  I recommended a book I found a year ago that assured me I wasn’t bat shit crazy for doing the things I was doing and feel; it let me know that while it wasn’t healthy, it was still a “normal” part of the process.  

Here's the book I recommended:

I cannot express to you the value of this book in my recovery.  Even now, a year and a half after disclosure, I turn to it.  I have pages marked and highlighted for quick reference of the behaviors that are “normal” but need to be stopped in order to heal properly.  These pages provide me the reassurance I need sometimes to know that I'm not alone.

“A relational trauma often occurs when one person betrays, abandons or refuses to provide support for another with whom he/she has developed an attachment bond.” from Your Sexually Addicted Spouse – How Partners Can Cope and Heal

So, what happens as a result of this PTSD?  I’ll spare you the really long list and give you a short list:

          Reliving the event           Sleeplessness          Nightmares
          Intrusive Images              Hyper Vigilance       Anxiety
          Panic Attacks                  Withdrawing           Phobias
          Flashbacks                      Denial                    Oversensitivity
          Depression                     Restlessness            Rage

That’s my list.  That’s what I went through for months after disclosure and what I’m pulling myself out of now after his relapse. Thankfully, I'm healing much faster this time around.  I have better resources available, Devin is more understanding and my triggers aren't nearly as often at they were before.

Does it matter that it’s normal for the PTSD symptoms to occur?  As I sit and type this in a mind full of complete clarity, yes, it matters very much that it’s normal behavior to want to check his email account or his browser history or dig through his files and use the computer skills that I mastered in college and got even better at during my hyper vigilant period after disclosure. It assures me that these things are “okay” to feel.  It's better knowing that I am NOT doing these things which tells me I'm in a better place mentally than I was over a year ago.

However, when I walk into the bedroom and see Devin at his computer, hear the click of the mouse and catch the glimpse of a window closing on his computer screen and my mind can’t rationalize that he’s simply doing his homework, not closing out of porn…then it doesn’t matter that it’s a normal trigger. 

All that matters is that my mind has jumped. I'm in a tailspin. Gone from A to Z, not from A to B to C.  I've lost the ability to rationalize.  Then I’m angry at myself because I’m unable to rationalize my thoughts, put them together properly and I know it.  That’s the worst part…knowing that I’m being irrational.  And, I can’t stop it from jumping to Z.  It just happens.  

What to do??  How do I stop the loop??  How do I calm myself down so I don’t end up on the kitchen floor without knowing how I got there (I lost an hour (I think) crying and wailing from a trigger once because I had been suppressing them for so long).

Stopping the Loop

  • First, I take my rockin’ counselor’s, advice.  I allow myself to feel the trigger without trying to figure out the cause.  Without trying to self analyze it to pieces because that in itself is taxing.

  • Next, I take deep breaths from the gut.  Breath in, breath out.  Slowly, to calm myself.

Then I choose from the following:

  • My affirmation cards.
  • Guided imagery – a great tool that I use for Migraines too.  I imagine myself on the beach.  I feel the sand, smell the ocean, hear the seagulls, feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, the sand in between my toes, slipping through my fingers.  I transport myself there because it’s my favorite place in all the land.  My calming place.
  • I read Footprints – it’s my favorite writing and I have it hanging in my bathroom – don’t judge, it’s where I usually end up when I’m crying.  =)
  • I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself I am strong, I can handle this.
  • I pray. A lot.
  • I drive to my favorite spots with a pen and paper and vent out my rage then shred it and toss it in a garbage can somewhere on the drive home.
  • I blog, although now I try to avoid blogging while to upset because I end up saying things like I’m getting a divorce!!!  And then change my mind and to delete the post
  • I take an Epsom salt bath with lavender bubbles.


I hope that some of these things have helped at least one person out there.  I understand you can’t comment because you wish to remain anonymous and I respect that completely.  I began this blog with the hopes that it would help someone through the roller coaster of emotions I felt the first few months after disclosure. 

Please understand, you’re not alone.  Whether you choose to stay or leave, you are strong and only you can decide what is right for YOU.  No one will ever understand what you are going through, the push and pull of emotions, until they have walked the same path as you.  Never give up on YOU.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Affirmations and Reminder

My Affirmation and My Reminder

I am strong

I am beautiful

I am confident

I feel good about my body

I am worth only the best

I am thinking loving thoughts about Devin and myself

I am unique and special

I am stronger than my triggers!!!

All is well in my world

I am calm

I am relaxed

I am at peace

I trust the process of life

I am supported and loved

I can handle this

I trust in God

I am powerful

I didn’t cause it

I can’t cure it

I can’t control it

But I can take care of myself

By communicating feelings, making healthy choices

And celebrating myself.

(all written on index cards and kept within easy reach)

The above affirmation and reminder is just one of the tools I use to help me get through a trigger when it rears it’s ugly head.  I thought I would share it with those of you who may be dealing with this as well.  Never forget, you are never alone.  For over a year I did very well with my triggers.  They were so seldom, I was blessed enough to almost forget how horrendous they truly are. 

I know that time will come again.  I’m already moving forward in my healing and in my recovery because I’ve got some fantastic tools at my disposal and I’ll share them in detail tomorrow.

My triggers are lessening, and yours will too.  I’m happy to see that you followed me from my old blog and I hope that you’re doing well.  Many heartfelt hugs go out to you guys.