My recovery is crucial for many reasons. The most important reason, though, is because I am important. I deserve recovery. I deserve to find peace and healing.
I've been in recovery for three years. I still have quite a way to go, but I'm making progress and have hope for the future. Whether or not my future is with Ben, I'm not 100% sure (although I will say that I believe I will have the privilege of being his spouse for eternity). It doesn't matter right now what my future holds with him. What matters is that I find a life where I can live in peace and healing. Even if he doesn't find that for himself (but he is getting there, and he knows what he needs to do to achieve recovery).
What does the spouse (me) need to recover? What do we need to find that peace and healing?
Granted, I'm only one lady, but from my experience with other fabulous women who are in the same or similar positions as me, this post is about what I've learned is necessary for my recovery.
This list isn't in any particular order. It's just what came into my head as I brainstormed the elements of my recovery:
I think if we don't understand the addiction, there isn't much hope. The more I understand the addiction, the easier it is for me to recognize that this has nothing to do with me. The more I understand the addiction, the easier it is for me to detach when necessary. The more I understand addiction, the easier it is for me to understand that it isn't a matter of "Just decide to stop. Stop doing this to me. Stop doing this to yourself. You're ruining your life..." but a matter of brain damage, needing counseling, and needing healing--both spiritually and physically. As I learn about and gain understanding of the addiction, I learn what realistic expectations are as we fight this (as in, he can't do this on his own, and the decision to "just stop" isn't very logical until many other battles have been fought), and I realize there is hope. It's going to be a long road towards full healing, but it can be done.
Boundaries are crucial to my healing. Boundaries keep me safe because help me have control over my safety. Some people think boundaries are about control: and they are. They are about controlling me and my safety. They aren't about controlling him, though. He can do whatever he wants. But there will be consequences, and I will keep myself safe.
Boundaries also help me realize my worth and that I am not one to be trampled on. [post on my new boundaries coming next week]
working recovery programs
From what I've seen, working some kind of recovery program is very beneficial to recovery. We can't do it on our own. We need professionals who have been trained and understand what they are dealing with. The recovery programs I've done consist of my LDS 12-step program, Healing Through Christ, and the free 6-week ADDO program. I've learned tons from both 12-step and ADDO. They have helped me with my spiritual healing along with the physical healing. Both are necessary components to my overall wellness. I know I couldn't do this without recovery programs. That is because I don't have the tools or knowledge to do this on my own.
understanding betrayal trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder
Read. Learn. Understand. Learning about BT and PTSD will help you understand yourself. You will be able to understand why you are so angry, why you can't trust, why that cute girl in the bikini at the beach triggered you so. You will develop ways to cope and treat yourself with love. So learn. Learn about everything.
seeing a counselor
I put this off for a long time. I didn't think we could afford it, and I thought I could do it on my own. It wasn't until I got desperate that I sought counseling. Don't wait until you are desperate. Had I waited any longer, I might have driven into oncoming traffic...I know that is dramatic, but that is how bad the trauma became. I just couldn't go on.
Since I started seeing a counselor, I've learned so much. I've received validation and support in ways I didn't expect. I've learned how to deal with the stress and allow myself to mourn. I've learned how to better offer myself care and compassion. Seeing a counselor is a game-changer and will speed up the recovery process from what it would be without a counselor.
offering yourself care and compassion
Self-care: "the process by which you consciously and deliberately take care of your basic and fundamental spiritual, emotional, physical, social and educational needs.You ensure that you are taking care of your whole self" (definition via Harriet). Self-care is a must. As you treat yourself with the care you need, the elements that make up overall wellness will become whole again. It may take time, but you will become more whole as you take care of your needs. You are important and deserve time and attention to meet your needs.
-My self-care includes meditating, studying scriptures, prayer, exercise, painting, sewing, cooking, eating, being with friends, and learning.
Self-compassion: extending compassion and kindness to yourself, especially when you are hurting or negative-self-talk threatens your brain. I've had to offer self-compassion on many occasions, and it's amazing how it can change the game. Sometimes I have to think about it in the perspective of "If I were my friend, and I came to me with this problem, what would I say to that friend?" Sometimes it comes in the form of writing myself letters. Sometimes it's a simple, "No, you are not fat. You are not ugly. How dare you think that about yourself?" kind of thing. Sometimes it's, "Wow, you are really going through a lot. It's okay to cry. It's okay to be mad. The way you feel right now is a normal reaction." Being compassionate with myself has given me the ability to heal in that emotional, vulnerable place that is hard to get to.
prayer: turning to a higher power
I can't do this on my own. For one thing, if I believed there was no higher power, that there was no greater purpose, I'd probably just end my life. Okay, that is dramatic. There would still be much to live for, but there is so much more to live for then just what is here and now. I have a firm believe in a higher power and purpose. I learn through prayer. I learn through conversing with my God and discovering His plan for me. I turn over my cares and worries to Him. He knows about all my fears and anxieties. He is always there for me, and I love Him for it. I know I can always turn to Him, and I do so on a regular basis with gratitude in my heart.
understanding the grief cycle
When you understand the grief cycle, you will understand yourself a little better. You will also be able to offer yourself care and compassion for the stages you find yourself in.
Vulnerability is hard. It's scary. But it's necessary for healing. That doesn't mean you jump right on the vulnerability train with your husband too soon after he has hurt you. Until it is safe to be vulnerable with him, there are others you can be vulnerable with: your support circle and yourself.
-Being vulnerable with others has helped me to own my story and feel real. I don't like feeling like I'm hiding things, and opening up has made it easier to find support. I have quite the chain of support people that I can contact when I need help. Being vulnerable with others has also helped me learn about those around me, develop better compassion, and become a support to them. Along with that, being vulnerable with others has helped me build bridges in places that have been burned because of misunderstandings.
-Being vulnerable with myself has helped me understand exactly what is going on inside me. As I gain understanding of myself, I've learned how to deal with and cope with my struggles. I've been able to own my story and find my truth and reality. And I've found healing in all of those things I've gained from vulnerability.
-Being vulnerable with my husband has created healing in our relationship. Like I said, it can't come too soon. But as you open up and are vulnerable one step at at time, healing does take place for each of us individually and for both of us together.
learning to forgive
Forgiveness isn't for the person who wronged me: it's for me. Forgiveness also doesn't come easily. It's a process that requires patience, compassion, and love. Learning to forgive is hard, but it is also necessary for my heart to be fully healed. My forgiveness isn't dependent on my husband's ability to apologize or grovel, and it isn't necessary for his healing. My forgiveness of him is necessary for my heart to become whole. My forgiveness of the situation is a reflection of the peace and healing that is taking place in my heart.
Forgiveness is hard. Don't get me wrong. I'm in a position where I haven't fully forgiven him for things currently going on. That's why I said learning to forgive. It's learning. It's a process that only you can figure out for yourself. And I know it will bring an added measure of healing when I get there, like it has done in the past.
We aren't alone. There are tons of women all over the world suffering from betrayal trauma. Reaching out is healing in both directions: for me and the person I'm reaching out to. Reaching out fills my heart with gratitude and love. It's been the base of my support-circle. Reaching out has worked miracles in my life and heart.
Reach out for help.
Reach out to offer help.
Reach out so you don't feel alone.
Read Part 1: His Recovery, here
Read Part 3: Our Recovery, here