A wife of an addict, who has had her entire life shattered, obliterated, when she discovered the porn/sex addiction of a spouse, can also be triggered. D-day, as we call it, discovery day, the day that you learn that everything you knew up to that point, was a lie, is an EXTREMELY traumatic event. I was diagnosed with PTSD, we ALL experience PTSD symptoms after going through this event. Then, when we see a half-naked billboard, or a familiar attitude in our husbands, or even just a thought from our past relating to the uncertainty of our past, or the disgusting acts of our spouses in the thick of addiction, WE get triggered. Not for the addiction cycle, but for our trauma.
Being triggered, means the whole realm of trauma and despair and broken-ness we felt on D-day, comes back to us. It can be heavy and feel like we are reliving that moment. It comes with all kinds of emotions as well as physical symptoms. You are now in trauma. It can last days, hours, moments, months... I swear after my husband moved out and then told me the extent of all his heinous actions, I was just living one big trigger for about 6 months.
So now, lets break it down.. What do you do when you are triggered?
When a woman is triggered she should:
1. Keep it to herself
2. NEVER lash out at your spouse.
3. Coddle and support your spouse.
4. NEVER say no to sex.
5. NEVER say no to ANYTHING, it would be unsupportive.
6. Remember that you have no rights.
7. Remember that if this marriage ends in a divorce, it is your fault.
8. Remember that your healing has a time limit.
9. Try to keep your trauma from happening in inconvenient times, its best to save it for the therapists office.
10. Do everything you can to speed the recovery process.
11. You WILL NOT be allowed to have these trauma-triggered moments after 3 months time.
12. THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF RECOVERY IS THIS: GET TO A PLACE WHERE YOUR HUSBAND CAN TELL YOU THAT HE HAS RELAPSED AND IT DOESN'T BOTHER YOU AT ALL.
But if you are a WoPA, and you are in recovery, can you honestly go back to that list and tell me that you have never been told these things, by your spouse, or by your Bishop, or by your Mother-in-law, or worse, told yourself these things, in your own mind? Tried to live by these rules in your heart?
And every time I ever enforce a boundary,
every time I ever experience trauma,
every time I feel triggered,
every time I begin questioning my husbands behaviors
this list starts playing in my mind.
Even though we have been at this whole recovery thing for almost 9 months.
This list is a lie.
And actually, especially lately, now that it HAS been almost 9 months, now that my husband IS doing really really well with his addiction, I have been feeling the timer tick-down, I have been expecting perfection out of myself, I have been trying to speed this healing process... I have been, at times, denying myself of triggers, denying myself of feeling sad, denying myself of allowing myself to go to trauma. (Its a bad idea, it turns into anger... you can't run from it... DON'T DO IT!!!)
Doug Weiss, Helping Her Heal DVD set, seriously, is the most amazing thing.
First of all, he is a hottie. He looks like he is close to most of our husbands age. And he has been in recovery from sex addiction for over 20 years AND he is a Licenced Sex Addiction Therapist (LSAT). He speaks to our hearts, he says everything we wish our husbands would say, he truly melts our hearts. It is to the husbands. And he tells the husbands what they can "EXPECT" from us, their wife, as we heal from the devastation of their addiction.
There was nothing like what I put on that list up there. NOTHING!
He said things like,
if she screams, remember how much she loves you.
When she is sad, be with her, try to understand her.
When she has been triggered and needs to leave an outing, leave with her, support her.
He even said that WHEN YOU RELAPSE, YOUR WIFES HEALING STARTS OVER.
In fact, he even basically said, if this marriage fails, it is because you were NOT supportive of her healing. MOST women don't leave because of the betrayal, they leave because of the rudeness of their husbands as they try to heal OR they leave because their husband will not commit to total honesty.
So, here's the real list, in my opinion:
When a woman feels triggered she should:
1. Listen to her own emotions, honor them by saying them out loud, or declaring a "sad hour" or a "mad hour" or a "trauma DAY". Just Let Yourself Feel.
2. Remember her worth. Do things to take care of YOU, because YOU are worth it. Ask yourself TWICE a day, at least, "What do i need to feel cared-for?" And do those things. If it means you are reaching out on social media ALL DAY and avoiding your responsibilities, then so be it. If it means loading up all your kids in the stroller so you can go for a run, then so be it. If it means HIRING A NANNY to come once a week to clean your house and take care of your kids while you go to yoga, then do it. If it means driving to Disney Land with your daughter and spending all of your husbands money there, then so be it. (I got that one from Scabs, I never did it, but she did!!!!!! Hooray!!) Also, if it means you need space, then SO BE IT, that can mean saying no to sex. That can mean he moves out of the bed or out of the house.
3. Never put a time limit on your healing, and don't let other's opinion of a time limit get to you, this is not their healing, they probably have NO IDEA what you are going through. Also, there is no such thing as convenient triggers and its okay.
4. When you DO lash out at your husband, and I am certain that at some point YOU WILL, remember this ONE IMPORTANT THING: this is not who you are. You are not a violent raging lunatic. You are in trauma. Don't beat yourself up for it. Try to learn (about yourself and your feelings) from it and then move forward.
5. Its okay to hate him and love him at the same time, or only hate him, or only love him at any given time.
6. Its okay to feel numb for whatever length of time, in waves, or whenever or whatever.
7. It's okay to have crazy dance parties when you are so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
8. When you feel determination, whether it is for a minute, or a whole day or more, start thinking about your rights. Your rights are so important. YOU have rights. And likely you have lost them because of your marriage to an addicted spouse. Find out what rings true to your heart, who you really are, and write them down, one at a time. Then, claim them, hold them sacred, find the determination to live true to them no matter what. This is the beginning of being able to write clear, distinct boundaries to keep you safe from any further abuse that ANYONE might try to inflict upon you. You are worth it.
9. Remember this: The road to healing is FOREVER LONG. The journey TOTALLY SUCKS. But you are going to amaze yourself at the end of it. Whether you and your spouse recover together or end in divorce, at the end of this tunnel, there is a more confident, more radiant, strong, more amazing woman who you will find within you.