Thursday, January 10, 2013

As The Clutter Clears


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“Here are the stack of Christmas cards from the last few years.” Devin said, as he handed me the large pile. “I kept a few from my Nan and Mom. Do you want to go through the rest and see if there are any you want to keep?”

I was impressed by this small step in progress.  Devin was taking another inch forward of letting go of clutter and paper. Weighing the difference between sentimental and not. His medicine really seemed to be working.  I continued to remain cautiously optimistic.

I laughed as I found my mom’s card from last year.  Her handwriting done, best she could manage, an incomplete sentence and “Love Mom” at the bottom.  Best card ever!  I kept another from an aunt who recently got some disturbing news on the health front and put a few others aside as I divvied up the pile.

I came across a small, black Christmas card signed “Merry Christmas! then her name.  (Her husband's and children have been omitted).  I read the card again.  All of our names were listed and all of their names listed then the flood of memories came rushing back. 

She was Devin’s first affair partner.  The first person he crossed the physical line with.  No sex was involved, not even kissing. A flash and a touch but you don't do such things when you are married, sorry folks.

The memories of disclosure came flooding back.  The memories of Jessie and her family spending the night in my home as they traveled down the east coast flashed through my mind.  Her kids playing with mine, me cooking for her family while being deceived the entire time. 

Quickly, I took some deep, calming breaths.  I thought of the present, the here and now and took a mental inventory of where I was. I remembered all of the progress Devin and I had made in the  time since the disclosure, his remorse, his empathy and it grounded me.

I handed the card to Devin and asked, “Why is this in here?”  My heart still beating like a drum but calming just a bit, but no tears were nearby.  Then couldn’t help but snap, “Really?”

Devin read the card, his expression one of confusion and worry and then it clicked, he realized who the card was from.  I could tell from his reaction he assumed the card was someone from my side of the family, someone he didn’t know.

“I didn’t know, I’m so sorry.”  He got up and threw the card into the kitchen garbage and came back and hugged me tightly.

“I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.” Was all I could muster for the time being.  I went into the bedroom and prayed for strength.  I grabbed my affirmation cards and read them several times until I remember just how damn strong I am.  I am stronger than my triggers. 

Ten minutes later, I was back in the living room and feeling just fine.  I let him know I was doing great and thanked him for doing the right thing and let him know I knew he probably thought it someone from my family which made me feel better, it showed she meant nothing to him.

Then it was Devin’s turn to hit his emotional rock bottom.

It wouldn’t hit him for another twenty-four hours and as I type this, I am grateful he was able to find the strength to overcome it.  I have never seen my husband so hopeless before, so emotionally broken.  It was scary.  It had me frightened enough to call our counselor on Monday, the day of his appointment and share my concern with her.

I was concerned his recent increase in his medication had caused this depressive state.  The things he was saying he hadn’t said since disclosure week and no matter how much I tried to support and love him, he was still sinking into a pit of despair. 

It wasn’t until after his appointment with our counselor, I realized his meds might actually be allowing him to reflect, to think, now that the confusion has died down.  Seeing me trigger, without having that noise in his head, may have really caused him to focus on the core issue:  his addiction, which he’s been avoiding lately.

Either way, after his appointment, he came home and we talked for a very, very long time.  He admitted he has a lot to think about and he needs to communicate better with me, the kids and his sponsor.  He’s been happier ever since.  So, my rockin’ counselor – thank you!

47 comments:

  1. Bless the both of you for working so hard at this. I know how hard and emotionally draining it is to face one's demons.
    Just in from an hour of CBT, quite a session that was, I will try and write later.
    Thinking often of you Lovey. You both deserve the best. Much love and hugs x x x

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    1. Lovey!!! The closer he gets to facing his demon, the tougher it becomes but he can handle it, he's a tough guy! =) I'm glad to hear you're still sticking with your CBT, talk about draining; I'm proud of you Lovey, I hear it's some intense stuff and you are rocking and rolling with with it! Go You!!!

      Much love and hugs!!

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  2. I personally wouldn't have taken the card thing as such a heavy issue like that, but then again, I'm not in the situation. It's kind of unacceptable if you, for example, decided a while back that all of the "past" stuff had to go and cleaned up then.
    But hey, sounds like more progress is being made. The occasional breakdowns are all part of it, like bumps in the road to keep you from rushing through. Just hang in there, it'll all pass eventually!

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    1. The card was from a woman he cheated on me with as a result of his sex addiction, not a woman from his past before we were married that's why it triggered me so badly, it's from relational PTSD. The relational PTSD stemmed on disclosure day from the shock of everything, the shock of the betrayal and the deceit and it's taken me nearly two years to recover and every now and again the triggers pop up out of no where - like the card. I agree, progress is being made, after much self work, I can finally not crumble like a wet noodle ha ha ha!!

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  3. Whew. Clearing clutter is fucking work, yo. It goes so much deeper than just pulling items out of the closet/drawer/box and putting them in the appropriate pile (keep/sell/toss). We humans are so emotionally linked to "things", the things are just a symptom or symbol of the emotional stuff. What a vicious cycle, right? I'm glad you guys got through it, and I hope things continue moving forward!

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    1. It's odd what we attach sentimental value too and I am guilty of it myself from time to time. I have things from high school and college that I am hanging on to and I'm not sure why. I'm grateful we made it through too.

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  4. Even though it is saddening, it is great to see Devin is seeing things more clearly. No one ever said progress would be easy. Triggers are gonna happen, painful memories will resurface. But how you deal with them when they happen is the key to moving forward. Of course you already know that. I can never tell you anything you don't already know!

    don't you have a migraine to rant about? I need an excuse to give you hell and pick on you!

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    1. I think sometimes the best progress in the most painful parts of progress. Looking back, I know some of my most painful parts of my steps were the ones that did me the most good. You are chock full of good advice, Dan, and always share insightful stuff with me!!

      Oh, and I ranted about today's Migraine over at your blog. You're welcome!

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    2. Yes, I seen your little ramble! Whatever will I do with you? Threaten your turtle? Assassinate your Italian goons? The possibilities are endless! And it's gonna come when you least expect it!

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    3. I have an endless supply of turtles now. My mob guys are Untouchable (get it?) You don't scare me WorQueenDan!!!

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    4. Oh, and how did your "Dan My Sweet" pop up in my popular posts again - you been lurking on yourself?? ha ha ha!!!!

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  5. I'm glad he's feeling better and that you had such a big moment and the two of you are fine. There's no telling really what you find when you look through old stuff. Physical and emotional. I actually found my old "yearbook" when I was cleaning up. It was actually a blank diary I had people sign, but anyway, those people were such a big part of my life, and now they aren't in it at all. Who he was, and who he talked to, is nothing to who he is now, and who he talks to now. I'm not really sure what I'm getting at really, I guess I'm just trying to say don't let the past interfere with the present.

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    1. I love keeping my yearbook close by. Of course, mine is way older than yours, Mark LOL I only have one high school friend I keep in regular touch with and she is such a lost soul but I love her to pieces! I understand what you are saying. I have done my best at putting his addiction past in the past but every so often that PTSD rears it's ugly head and bites me on the ass! So, I have to refocus back on the present.

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  6. Clear eyes can sure bring on a whole slew of thoughts indeed. But then that is good so he can work through them now instead of ignoring them or pushing them aside. Hopefully things keep progressing for the better and great howfast you snapped back from the card debacle too.

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    1. Clear eyes, clear head, now it's up to him to keep on trucking. He is at a very difficult crossroads in his program so we will see where it leads. I expect things to be a bit rough for him in the upcoming months but I will be here for him as long as things keep moving forward!

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  7. So many land mines out there. Still, I'm always amazed at how you both find a way to communicate through it and work on healing.

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    1. Stupid landmines! I wish they were clearly marked so I could avoid them! I owe my recovery to my rocking counselor - she is so freakin' awesome!

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  8. now isn't that Jessie an evil minx? Who flashed whom? She him or he her?
    As you said it yourself in the post at one moment, those things were purely physical to him and didn't mean anything to him, which is good to know and it is a comfort of sorts for you.

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    1. They were completely physical to him and Jessie was no more than an object, a rush, a high. It's why I don't feel it's important to discuss the details of what happened again. I have put a period on his past and although it still haunts me from time to time, that period is still there and I began a new chapter of healing.

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  9. When these things happen, it always seems to feel like a cosmic test. To see how you handle things. And it sounds like you passed. I'm bad with clutter too, and I'd like to think that I don't have any "landmines" hiding around the house that could hurt my relationship, but I'd also like to think my wife would be understanding if we did find something, like an old card from an ex, etc. Something on a much smaller scale than your own, but something that would still be a potential for a fight.

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    1. I feel like each time a test is presented, I pass just a little bit better than I did the time before. Just a teensy bit of progress has been made and it feels good. You best hope you don't have any of those landmines because we women can be brutal sometimes! Take out the whole addiction thing and it's a whole 'nother deal ha ha ha!!

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  10. Wow. I'm glad you both are working through all the clutter, and I don't just mean the stuff that's been piling up in that room either. Sounds like his meds are really helping a lot, and your counselor is awesome.

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    1. We have the best freakin' counselor and we thought she was going to have to retire due to some health issues a month or two ago but thankfully she's on the mend again and can see us on a regular basis so we can get our minds right =)

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  11. Reading about that card from your mother really made me smile Elsie. I've been tidying my room recently and getting rid of the nonsense I've collected and to an extend horded and it doesn't just please my mum to see that, it also pleases myself so Devin will definitely be feeling that pleasure as well, honesty.

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    1. Doesn't that card just rock! I love it! I just makes me laugh to read it. It doesn't make me sad at all because it came right from her and she wrote it with such love. I'm so glad you've been cleaning up your room too, Matthew. We moms just don't like that clutter. Drives us bananas to walk into our kids' rooms and see a giant mess!

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  12. Confrontation is always difficult, especially when it's with yourself. There's no one else you can hide from so effectively.

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    1. Very true, Andrew. You know your own tricks and your own hiding places like no one else does.

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  13. Your strength together and individually is awe-inspiring. So happy you're able to work through this.

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    1. Thank you so very much MiMi. We have been on a very long journey these last two years and we still have a long way to go!

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  14. I can understand your concern about Devin's emotional breakdown being due to the meds he's on. That's always a danger. It's a good thing that it was a positive effect of the meds and not a side-effect.

    You did well with coming back from the trigger quickly. The card would have upset me if I were in your shoes. That was a close one.

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    1. I was greatly relieved to know it was not the meds causing the "funk" as it's being called in our house. I feel the longer he is on the meds and the more he works on himself, the more this type of thing may happen but it is actually a good thing, not a bad thing, as long as he continues seeking counseling.

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  15. Clutter of any kind can be damaging I think, it causes us to feel jittery like the walls are closing in (well for me they do). I am glad this got addressed so quickly so healing comes as quickly. Sending you both prayers & positive thoughts :]

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    1. For me, clutter makes me feel unorganized and dirty. I feel like I can't clean properly if there is a bunch of crap all over the place and it seems wasteful. If we aren't using something, perhaps someone else can?

      Thank you Janice! Much love to you!!

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  16. You guys really pulled on my heart strings today but in a good way.

    I know that some people might view Devin as the villain in all of this but my heart goes out to him too.
    His breakdown sounds like the enormity of everything that has happened, has finally hit him and this may sound strange but I feel really proud of him at the moment.

    Even though huge progress has been made, the love from you, support and medication that he is receiving, will hopefully allow you both to move on in leaps and bounds.

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    1. Aww, thanks, lily. Yeah, I tend to see that sometimes, people misunderstand Devin's addiction but it's to be expected, it does have the word SEX in it after all *gasp* It's an addiction like any other, it just happens to involve sex, lust and well, personal feelings.

      I think that breakdown may have been exactly that - he felt the enormity of it all and now he has to decide how to handle it. Does he carry on as normal (for him)? Does he seek extra counseling (he did that). Does he work harder on his program? (not sure about that yet cause it's pretty scary) - it's all up to him now.

      I just know, I have to remain cautiously optimistic =)

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  17. Boy howdy, talk about clutter! As the kitchen returns to normal, we're slowly starting to return things back to where they used to be. In some cases, we've even forgotten we had something so it's like Christmas all over ("Hey, did you know we had TWO can openers?"). It's been daunting, for sure.
    Why, we just found the dog only yesterday.

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    1. And I bet you didn't even know you had a dog! (I'll be here all week folks, don't forget to tip the waitress)

      I know that redone kitchen clutter. Been there, done that! Our fridge was in our living room/office area and while the kids thought it was the best thing ever, it sucked. Well, kinda, cause even I thought it was pretty cool to walk five feet and get my soda but washing dishing in the tub, eating out the majority of the time or cooking from the microwave - SUCKS!! But, then, the finished kitchen - hello awesome!! Until we PCS'd less than two years later. Good bye thousands and thousands of dollars....

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    2. I know how that PCS thing can bite you. We had to buy a BRAND NEW dishwasher, washer, and dryer before we got orders to Iceland. Luckily, we rented the house to another couple so it was here (thankfully) when we returned. Except our dopey tenants turned the hot tub off with water in it. I guess they missed the physics class that said water freezes in the winter.

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    3. Oh No!!!! I think I'd rather lose the appliances in the house than a hot tub - that sucks!!!!!!! I don't even have the words to tell you how badly I think that sucks!

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  18. ah dear Elsie for these type of things you sometimes are exausted omY!but you both are in good hands, Blessings and have a nice weekend!

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    1. And as crazy as it sounds, this weekend things improved so much! Him talking to our counselor really, really helped!!

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  19. What a roller coaster of emotions ~ I hope you and your hubby find a safe place, where both of you can get past the hurts and frustrations ~

    Take care and have a good weekend Elsie ~

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    1. We did find a very safe place over the weekend and connected once more - strong once again. It seems this roller coaster ride is all a part of it =)

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  20. I can't hide things from myself.. If I don't deal with them it tears me down.. I can only imagine having so much strike you at once. I'm glad he's doing well.

    As for you, well, I now you're strong :) I'm glad you do too, and I'm happy to read you took it the way you did. Go you!

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    1. I am someone who self examines all the time and am currently in the midst of doing that right now - well - okay, took a few days off, but yeah, working on that right now. Devin isn't at that place of digging deep on a daily basis but he's getting there.

      Thanks, D4!!

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