Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Gift of a New Perspective


 

I hope all of you that celebrated Thanksgiving, had a wonderful day. We did. It was full of lots of laughter and way too much food. Best of all, I heard from a family member and friend that I hadn’t heard from in a long time, that I thought were lost to me, and I’m very thankful for that.

Last week I found that I did a lot of service work. Not unusual around this time of year. The holidays can be difficult for many people. The common theme was anger and questions of why. Why did the addict betray me by looking at pictures of other women or having online affairs or worse?

I remember the anger, the rage, I felt. I also remember the relentless questions that circled around my brain. The insecurities that they brought to the surface of my brain. They seemed endless. They also seemed unanswerable.

Then a few days after disclosure we were going over a spreadsheet I’d dubbed “The List,” I had an epiphany. As I was entering each person’s name, what happened between them and Devin, and other information I thought I needed to know (trust me, I didn't); Devin said he couldn’t remember a woman even though they’d exchanged emails back and forth for months. Lengthy, detailed, emails that I had imprinted in my brain. It wasn’t until I read her screen name to him that he recalled who she was.

That was a profound moment for me. I finally understood what he’d been trying to explain in the preceding days: he had no emotional connection to these women. No attachment to them whatsoever. She was simply an address to him. Nothing more. An email for his mailbox. It was more about filling an emotional void within him, an emptiness, than it was anything else. It really did have nothing to do with me.

There was nothing I could’ve done to change the outcome. And I had tried just about everything from trying to control him to changing my personality to something I thought would catch his attention...and it never would. And there is nothing that I can do now to change what he does. He is his own person responsible for his own actions.

While the words I had read in those emails crushed my heart and his actions felt like something I’d never heal from, that understanding provided me with a new way of looking at the whys.

It helped me begin to stop taking the addiction so personally. That didn’t mean the hurt went away overnight. It didn’t. Neither did the anger. It did, however give me the gift of a new perspective. And because I’m also a recovering addict, I was able to empathize with his addiction too. I understood the complexities of not being able to “just say no” or “if you loved me you’d stop” because those guilt tactics don’t work, not nearly as well as detaching with love.

The anger took longer for me to resolve. I was angry with a lot of things. It took help from my counselor to see that I was angry with myself and needed to forgive myself before I could even think about forgiving Devin so those feelings of resentment and anger would stop rearing their ugly heads. What I found after those feelings of anger went away was my self-esteem.

Than I found inner-peace and while I want nothing more than to tell people that these things happened quickly, for me they didn’t. For me it took a few years. I was bullheaded, stubborn, and refused to reach out for the help that was out there. My hope is that people I talk to or people who read my book, Steps Along My Shore, won’t make the same the mistakes I did.

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you hold on to anger or do let things slide off your back?


26 comments:

  1. Hi Elise - that was a fascinating read ... and I can understand where you're coming from - so I'm glad you can accept the way it's turn out ... strange the complete dis-emotional attachment.

    We don't do Thanksgiving but am glad you had such a happy time and heard from your long lost friend - that's great. Cheers and have a happy end to 2016 ... Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary. Acceptance was a big step for me and took a long time. I was neck deep in denial for far too long.

      Hearing from my friend was such a surprise and such a great gift! It really did my heart good. :) Hope you have also have a happy end to your 2016.

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  2. It's tough when it isn't about us and yet it feels like it is.
    What's the saying? Women forgive but never forget while men forget but never forgive? Of course, you could say that we forgive since we completely forget...
    Cool that you heard from a friend and family member.

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    1. It was difficult not to take the addiction personally because everything about is so darn personal. I've never heard that saying before but my gosh, it's accurate. Women tend to remember every thing, don't they? Men can hold a grudge for decades...then again, I've known some women who can too. *smiles*

      I was elated to have heard from my family member and friend!

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  3. Fool me once, shame on me. Try and fool me twice and I'll piss on thee. lol I can forgive because holding grudges only hurts you while the others are off doing their thing not even thinking about what they did. But I won't forget. You come back around again and pfffft is the best you'll get from me, if not a cashew jar full of cat pee haha But then depends what it is too, as different things require different perspectives and such indeed.

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    1. I used to hold grudges for a long time. I mean like years and years but I finally learned it was unhealthy for me to live like that. But that's what works for me. However, throwing a jar of cat pee at someone does sound like a lot of fun and there are a few people that I can think of that I'd like to see covered in cat pee, but they're celebrities haha

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  4. Wow, that is one HELL of a big insight! Congrats! You know, our social conditioning as women teaches us that if a spouse cheats on us, it's our fault which is SUCH a load of bullshit. Cheating has everything to do with the cheater's own flaws and demons and we as women have been beating ourselves up about it for way too long.

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    1. Ding! Ding! Ding! You have hit the nail on the proverbial head, Debra. We have been taught that there must be something wrong with *us* that must be fixed rather than the other way around. I think some of the women now, the *ahem* younger generation may be the generation that is finally understanding that it isn't their fault...although not all. My hope is that ALL women will understand it isn't their fault. Let me correct that...all *partners* will understand, it isn't their fault.

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  5. You are very brave in delving into this subject! It is a HUGE problem in our times, now that the internet has made it so accessible. There are real consequences to these addictions.

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    1. Thank you, Tess. It's a bigger problem than most people realize. Porn is everywhere we look. Too much of it can really be harmful. Just like anything in life, moderation is the key.

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  6. But did you have pie?
    That's the real question.
    Followed quickly by, "What kind?"

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    1. Is this the part where I lie and say only one slice? Or do I admit to having two slices of cheesecake and one of pumpkin?

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    2. Why would you need to lie on Thanksgiving? :P
      I was good. I had only one slice: pecan.
      But I had one slice everyday for four days.

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    3. So no would know what a gluttonous pig I am haha

      I read pecan and because I'm from the north I hear "pee-can" but know your roots are southern and you probably say "pa-can" :)

      Um, yeah, so I had a slice of cheesecake everyday until it was gone too. I am a New York girl.

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  7. My Thanksgiving was great. My family is generally fairly low drama.

    I tend to hold grudges against loved ones longer than I should, while at the same time not understanding how something I do that hurts someone else can be remembered for so long. It's as though my default is that if it doesn't mean anything to me, it doesn't mean anything to anyone else, either.

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    1. My immediate family is low drama while my extended in-laws tend to be high drama, so I just avoid them. It's easier that way. I love your insight into the grudges you hold versus the grudges others hold.

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  8. Sometimes we just have to realize we don't see it the same way. We are seeing it through pain.

    Our Thanksgiving was wonderful since we got to spend it with family. Usually it's us and friends.

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    1. Very true, Diane. It's hard to see through the pain when we're stuck in the middle of it. Hard to gain that kind of insight during the trauma.

      I'm so glad you were able to include family this year. That's wonderful!

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  9. Hi my dear as you know we dont have thanksgiving but always I find is a lovely day!
    Im happy you had a nice day.
    Send you hugs and love, Love your book !!

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    1. Gloria, my dear friend! I hope you're doing well. I hope the twins are too and also hope your mom is in good health.Thank you so much for buying my book. I appreciate that! Much love and hugs to you and your family :)

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  10. Always fun ;) when you have that "out of the box" moment that puts you in perspective. And clues you in whether you are a victim or a whole new problem. Not enough 2X4s to the head in the world.

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    1. That's exactly what it was, Chris, a total out of the box moment for me. If there was a light bulb above my head, it would lit up, than burst from power of that revelation.

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  11. I was going to leave a serious comment but then saw Andrew's "Did you have pie?" and totally cracked up. :D :D :D
    I really admire you for sharing your story in hopes that it helps others going through similar situations. I feel certain there are many who read your words and it gives them the strength to begin their own recoveries. Well done.

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    1. One of the reasons I love when Andrew, Pat, and Al post is because they know it's okay to add levity to a serious post. My warped sense of humor got me through some dark times in my life. That's why I wrote my book with that same touch of humor. Thank you so much for your kind words. I really hope it helps people too.

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  12. Like all people I get angry at times but I do not hold on to it can't see the point, in fact I am usually over the angry in a flash I have a short temper but once I blow I am over it usually

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    1. I was like that with my kids. I'd flare up and then be over it. But other people...not so much. I'd be ticked of days, even weeks. There was one person I didn't speak to for years because I was so mad. Of course that anger was really hurt.

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