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.


  1. My PTSD might be from a different cause, but dealing with it is all the same, and after the day I had, you have helped me A LOT!! For real. I thank you for that!!

    1. I am so glad that I was able to provide you with some tools that can help you deal with any type of stress and trauma and PTSD you're going through. I hope today is a better day.

  2. I'm guessing that it took a good bit of practice before you were able to stop yourself from giving in to the loop and go here instead. Do you think that you will experience triggers off and on for the rest of your life?

    I think that all those things on your list will work with any kind of stress. The Hubby has Bible verses written on cards that he keeps withing reaching distance and this helps remind him that with God all things are possible. He also uses this to try and stop the spiral into a deep depression.

    I'm using guided imagery to help me cope with the stress of our current situation and so is my daughter. We imagine the forests of Connemara, picture the house we're going to have built and go to Google maps to take a virtual walk down the streets of Galway. It helps get us through those times when we're forced to live minute to minute.

    1. It took a ton of practice and self discipline before I could get to a point where I would even remember to take out the index card. I will write about that next week. I didn't want to bore the pants off of people entirely LOL

      I know that every time Devin slips or relapses I will be prone to trigger. Depending upon the severity of the slip/relapse I will either be set to zero or I will just be rattled a bit.

      I'm glad The Hubby has his Bible verses close at hand. It's amazing how having something in your hand, so that you can feel it, see it - quickly - can stop that downward spiral. At least most of the time. It's good he sees the importance of having tools like that right now. Plus, he has YOU!!

      I looked up Connemara. I can see why and your daughter use that for your guided imagery. It's lovely. A great place to transport yourselves for use a little while when things are weighing heavy on your heart and mind and you need a break. One day, Anne...

    2. Connemara has the best of everything and it's in County Galway which is where we want to live. There are 2 houses just outside the national forest that I've looked at, but I think we're going to have to have something built to be wheelchair accessible for the Hubby.

    3. Back to your Irish land, I'm sure that is grand.

  3. I think your stopping the loop methods are useful on many fronts when dealing with overwhelming emotions that hit us.

    I'm very interested about how you deal with your migraines btw as I suffer with migraine associated vertigo - which quite frankly I wouldn't wish on anyone - even my worst enemy in my most spiteful moments! I'm trying to figure triggers and think stress is a major one for me, but I think I saw you blog in a previous post that it is not. I think chocolate is but sadly I'm a perverse to my addictions (hey 25 years bonkers drinking attests to that!) and still am not acknowledging that I can live without it! :-)

    1. Oh, you could get me rocking and rolling on the whole stress issue with Migraines. I'll try to remain calm - just kidding =0

      I began getting Migraines at 15 - no stress yet. My husband died when I was 27, still Migraines were every few months. I hit my 30's and and *poof* Migraines escalated. I was set in my career, doing well financially (pretty much, we struggled but weren't out on the streets), physically, mentally - just doing great and yet my Migraines were escalating to the point of getting in the way of my job. My worst time was during the Spring/Summer.

      Fast forward and we move to the east coast where the fronts in our area move in and out on the coast like crazy and I go from every few weeks to weekly, then every few days. It was horrible. Just recently, I wasn't working, was laying about the house, Devin was sober, we weren't fighting but I was still getting them every few days. I couldn't have been under less stress at the time.

      Okay, that's my rant about ME and stress and Migraines. It's a sensitive area for ME because my Migraines have only increased as I've gotten older so I'm fairly certain it's harmone related...

      Teri Robert from My Migraine Connection has to say:

      "An analogy is the best way I know to explain it. When we're stressed, we're more likely to "catch a cold." It's not stress that causes the cold; it's the cold virus. The stress just made us more vulnerable to the virus."

      On her website she has a list of possible triggers and yes, chocolate is one of them =(

      Surprisingly there are a ton. Mine are strong smells, weather, poor sleep, not eating and driving long distances (my neck).

      As far as what I depends on when I get the Migraine and when I catch it. I don't get any type of aura. I simply get the pain. If I get a warning smell or aura, I'm simply screwed and know there is nothing I can do. No meds will help.

      If I wake up with a Migraine, I take either a Zomig ZMT or Zomig NS. If it comes on during the day then I can take a Frova. These are only allowed to be taken twice per week, however, in my case they've allowed me to take it three times a week. (Medication Overuse Headache).

      If my triptan fails, which they've been doing as of late, I have a beanie bag I keep in my freezer that I place on my head. I put in a comedy and lay on my couch. Or, I will get on the computer to distract myself from the pain. I use the same tools I listed above.

      I also have been known to pull my hair to alleviate the pressure - hey, it works. I squish my head in between the pillows and the frame of the couch...again, it works for me. But, those are the bad ones.

      I highly suggest going to: and entering triggers into the search box. They also have specialists in England that can help with your MAV. I was very active over there a few years ago. Teri knows her stuff!!

  4. over-sensitivity is my problem too. Especially towards people I care... it's usually not a good thing, because you react where others wouldn't and you notice what others wouldn't.

    1. Yes, and it usually occurs right after the event itself. If you've been traumatized and see anything remotely resembling that event, you can trigger.

      In my case, clicking of out of computer screen can set me off right after the event. Thankfully, I have these tools now (wish I had them all in January 2011) and I am able to calm myself and rationalize...most of the time =)

      It's hardest when dealing with someone you are so very close too, like you said, someone you care deeply about.

    2. When you love someone deeply you're so connected to them that you notice every little change in their moods and that makes it harder. We all have way too many feelings!!

  5. You know by putting that warning in there you just make the posts longer right? The cat just wanted to point that out...LOL

    Great that you can reach for many aspects and stop the triggers or at least dilute them enough that you don't get all stressed out. Not saying I know word one about PTSD but the anxiety part, yeah I get that 100%. I fret over the most stupidest things, over and over and over, until I make myself feel completley blah, I don't even start at A and skip right to Z. And it's all in my head, when I'm out and talking and such not thinking of it, fine, when I'm alone and it comes, just won't go away. Need to work on that more I suppose.

    1. of course you're anxious, cat, I mean with all those Pringles Special Surprise cans around you,who wouldn't be super anxious?

    2. Those are for others and I know what is in them hahaha so they aren't scary

    3. I give out those warnings just to piss off the cat. I'm so glad it's working!! I think next time I'll make the warning three or four paragraphs long. =)

      I understand about feeling anxious too. It comes with the PTSD aspect of it all. I've been up since 3:30 anxious over something going on here that I haven't shared on my blog (see, I don't share everything!). It just kept rolling around and rolling around. Then, the sun came up and I felt better. Nothing had been resolved, yet I felt better somehow. Go figure. Then it began to rain.

      Keep those damn Pringles away from my Dezzie!!!

    4. You know you eat your own poo cat, just admit it and get it over with. The cat gets anxious whenever his Viking woman is too far from him. He's afraid she'll leave him for a Sasquatch.

    5. LOL well the viking woman and big foot do make a good pair, so I would be anxious of such a thing at my lair.

      Yeah it just keeps on rolling around and rolling around in my head, until it brings dread. Get over it though as I think of other things on the go.

    6. the Vikingzilla betraying Pat with a Sasquatch... ah ha ha ha .... you two are ebil, don't you know it hurts when me laughs under the bandages?? :)

  6. I love this post. There are going to be so many people that stumble here and you're going to help! So glad that you wrote all this out.

    That book sounds great! I mean, if you highlight and still reference it, it must be amazing! I also love the idea of your affirmation cards and a lavender bath! Blogging while you're too upset isn't the worst thing. I mean, we all understand if things change. I mean, you have no idea how many times I change my damn fickle mind!


    1. Yeah, I'm a girl! I can change my mind any time I want, right?? LMAO

      Seriously, though, I appreciate your kind words, Jax. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I think I appreciate them so much because A) you're my homie and 2) you're young (not naive!!) but young so I can imagine in my brain how my sons would see this when Devin eventually gets to the disclosure part of his steps, if we're still together. (I hope I said that so you didn't get offended, I meant that with the utmost respect!).

      I read this to Devin last night and he loved it and then said, man, (yes, man) you should take those lavender baths just because. You come out of there so relaxed and you smell so good! LMAO

    2. Get offended, she was so mean with that comment. The cat demands you be offended.

    3. I'm about to break out the eye and turn it into an Evil Eye!

  7. WOW! Thank you for that Elsie. I never knew that having a sexually addicted spouse could cause all those things on that list. Anger, resentment, trigger points, yes. But nightmare, phobias and panic attacks, among others, I simply had no idea.

    My friend deals with couples counselling but I've never really asked her about it. (confidentiality and all)
    Have you ever thought (and I mean this sincerely) that after all your experiences and all your knowledge, about becoming a therapist yourself in the future? Seriously, you'd be great at it.

    It's why I became a counsellor. Who better to understand a client's needs, than someone who has been through similar experiences?

    1. Unfortunately the deal with me and the movies is bordering on a phobia. My own fault because I am not working on it the way that I should. I realize the initial trigger isn't my fault, however, the worsening of the trigger could be avoided through exposure because my personality dictates I am strong enough for exposure - which is how I was able to continue sexual contact etc. without repercussions. I just did it. That's why I continue to go to Dez's site (Hollywood Spy) and work on that particular trigger. I'll get there dammit!! =)

      The nightmares I worked through by waking up and writing them out or if Devin was awake, I'd talk through them. Those didn't last for to long after disclosure and this time I only recall two.

      I've wanted to become a counselor since I became sober twenty years ago but I didn't have the $ to go back to school for that long and now, at the age of 42...I don't have the $ or the time. I don't think I'd even pass a test, unless it's call "street smarts" LOL

      You are far to kind, lily =)

  8. I think we know by now that your posts typically tend to be a bit long but has it stopped us from reading? No! Those of us who care are going to read anyway so don't bother with the the cat said, it just makes it even that much longer! lol

    So many tools to use at your disposal. Thanks for sharing! Blogging does help but if you have noticed in my series of depressing posts, I was quick to jump to conclusions. I might feel one way on one day and then the next day is opposite!

    I just think that goes to show that our minds are scattered with possible answers. It's hard to control our thought process and how we react to things. I feel like I am one fucked up individual...and that I'm perfectly normal because of it. Irrational thoughts are just a part of being human.

    I find the best tool for me is to just be myself. No lying to myself or trying to change things that I can't (or don't want to). As long as I'm honest and true to who I am, then things work themselves out. I have triggers too, there is no stopping them. I just let them pass on by. Difficult, yes. Sometimes I want to lash out in anger. But then I think to myself "Anger is just a blindfold, hiding the truth from us" Let it subside before taking action.

    Not sure where I'm going with this. I always feel like I'm telling you things you already know. Just being me I suppose!

    1. Wait a minute...are you siding with the cat??? How dare you!!! For that, my warnings will be SIX paragraphs long!

      It's very hard to control our thought process and when we are hit with something so damaging it's even harder to stop that process from spinning out of control.

      The best thing this blog has done for me is kept me honest with myself. I may not share every tiny tid bit of what's going on in my world but I do share quite a bit (more than enough, maybe to much sometimes) but I've always remained true to myself because I've felt accountable somehow to you guys. Weird.

      You brought up a great point - ANGER - I'll share what I learned. Anger is a blindfold, a mask, if you will. It is usually hiding fear, guilt, and as I learned with Devin - avoidance. Neat, huh? All that counseling does work. I can sit and be quiet for 45-50 minutes at a time...not really, I talk. A lot. Not that that's what you were saying at all, it just popped into my psycho filled mind as I was reading. Blame lily. =)

      I'm glad you're you!!

  9. I can never bring anything good to table when anything gets emotional. And never can help with anyone's personal issues. Dont be offended.

    This isnt going to help but let me share my case.
    Our case is different, me and my hubby both are emotional handicapped, I can never discuss anything personal with him.So, always avoid talking about it. Maybe that is why I said yes to him and no to others - who were sensitive and to those who exhibited too much love and care. I know this isnt going to help me long run and cant run away from problems, but I never try to risk it and clinging on human is something I am scared about and dont let people read me. Only two friends of mine, may know what I am thinking about and others have no clue. My mom and dad they still feel proud to say that they raised a daughter who always gave an outsider vibe to them and never fit into the family.

    But I know for sure if I give anyone power to read me or understand me, that would be the end of me. :)
    If I were you, I would emotionally detach myself from my addictive husband and think of him more as a roommate or a friend and pay less attention to him and his addictions and that is his punishment. When we expect something from some people who can never change, it is like beating ourselves up over something for nothing. But Elsie dont listen to me.

    1. Hang on a sec MaMTC, you discredited yourself far to quickly! You actually provided advice that is brought up quite a bit in our world of sex addiction. Maybe all addictions, hell, I don't know.

      Detachment. It's recommended that when the partner is acting out (doing their addictive behavior) you detach from them completely. Once the a/o is no longer a problem and they are in recovery, you move back in and allow for emotional attachment within certain limits.

      My mistake was thinking I could detach partially from his recovery. Help him when he needed it. Not control it, but assist with reminders. I was WRONG!! No shit, Elsie, when the experts you pay tell you to back off, back the fuck off. Duh?! So, now it's ALL on him for his recovery.

      I will remain emotionally attached while he is my husband, until I have decided if his recovery is on the right path, after I've talked to our counselor in a few months. If I detach to much, then it will become a "normal" feeling and may become permanent and then I might as well be divorced.

      I think you gave some kick ass advice over here!

      I was going to get into you and your hubby being emotionally handicapped and then thought "Mind your own damn business, Elsie" =)

    2. Really? Thank you Elsie. :) I can understand how it might be difficult for you to be emotionally detached, you are like my friend, selfless and devoted and dedicated and hardworker who will try everything to make things work and you will love people to death.

      Please dont hesitate to share your words or advise, you will not offend me. It takes a lot to offend me. If at all you would only be helping me.

      That one time was exceptional given the circumstances and if I hadnt reacted after all those slurs and preaching , I should have tatooed "shameless pushover" on my fore head.

      So, please dont hold back and no sacred cows with me and nothing is off limits. :)

    3. Yeah, it's definitely hard to emotionally detach from him. Although, I detached from completely back in 2009 when we were headed for divorce. I didn't know anything about sex addiction. Didn't know anything about the extent of his acting out - I was just ready to walk out because he had become so withdrawn, he was looking at porn all the time, etc. So, I emotionally cut him out of my brain. Done. Long story short; he came back to me, we worked it out (I thought) but truly I ended up going into full blown denial and went the other direction with his addiction.

      I'm not worried about that other incident, especially since the entire thing went over my head LMAO. The people I respect and admire on here hold respect for you which means I will do the same for you =)

      Okay, no holding back =)

  10. Yep, your list just about sums it up for me as well. I've experienced those things as well. Triggers are so hard and if I let them take over it takes days for me to recover. I like your tips. I do affirmations as well. They really help.It's a tough fight we women have who've been abused. I'm still not all the way through it and wonder if I can ever be totally healed

    1. I'm so sorry you've been through the same mess too, Bubbles. My heart goes out to you. I put my affirmation cards away long ago because I hadn't read them in so long, then I put them in my S-Anon bag with the intentions of sharing them at a meeting. Wouldn't you know, the following week I found out about his relapse *eye roll*

      I think I'll be 98% healed one day. I can't say 100% because I know there is always that chance of an unexpected trigger. Also, if I decide to stay with him, then there is also the chance of a relapse or slip which will put me where I am now for a few weeks. Can I handle it? Yes. I'm already stronger today than I was a week ago; it just sucks that the man I love with all my heart is also an addict.

      I hope that you continue to heal too.

  11. This was a great read it has taught me stuff as I have no idea what it is like to have PTSD and don't even know anyone who has suffered from it..........what you write about it helps me understand and I am so very thankful for that. You are an amazing and strong woman in my eyes....

    1. Thank you so much, Jo-Anne. When I began blogging, I wanted to let other partners married to sex addicts know they weren't alone out there. That not everyone gets a divorce once they find out and some of us try and stick it out. When I first found out and googled sex addiction all I could find were women bashing their husbands or sites that said God were cure him and that didn't seem right to me. I felt alone and I didn't want other people to feel that way. So, I started this. Then, I ended up getting support from people who had zero experience with SA in addition to people who were married to SA's. It's amazing!

  12. I suffered from PTSD for many years before I decided to see a counselor. Around that time, I found a book that saved my life. I wanted to read one chapter a day, and be done with it. Voila, healed! I designed a three month treatment plan for myself. In the end, it took three years. Sometimes, reading one paragraph was all I could do. I learned to celebrate each little step, and I am better for it.

    1. Oh, NellieVaughn, I'm so sorry you suffered from PTSD too. Although, I like the fact that you are using past tense! I think I was thinking the same thing when I read the book, although I read it super quick. Read this book, identify with it, see I'm not crazy *poof* I'll be cured!!

      Not so much. And, like you, I'm able to be happy with the fact that although my list is long, it didn't include the entire list from the book anymore, when this time last year it did. That's progress. That allows me to see that all the hard work I've done and all the tools I've found over the last year is working =)

  13. I know that you do this to help others and yourself but it makes me appreciate you all the more. I think it takes a special person to help others by knowing just what to say but you are really great at it.


    1. awww, shucks, Meemaw, you're making me blush!! Thank you so very much! It helps me to think that maybe, just maybe, I'm helping someone else.

  14. i keep reading this post---and i keep thinking, on your list of things to do to 'stop the loop' like take a bath and read and pray and imagery, where's the strangle him option?

    Looks like something i might need to read. Still working on the last book you suggested.

  15. Maybe you could put that in your guided imagery?? LOL lying beside him on the beach, you reach over....arms outstretched...hands open, reaching for his, no, no. that's not good. LMAO!!!

    We put down the last book since the talk of divorce and the relapse but now that everything is starting to pull back together again, it may be time to pick it back up again. This book is so very good healing for YOU. It simply rocks!! I think it costs a whopping 12 bucks =)


Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.