Post Traumatic Divorce Disorder

I think this should be a new clinical term for those who suffer painful divorces.

Finding out your ex is a sex addict who can’t keep his eyes off of other women, who prefers fantasies to reality, was a devastating revelation.

I tried so hard to help him with his “purity” — I bought him Every Young Man’s Battle, which he mostly only read if I highlighted some notes and pointed it out to him. His untreated ADD and sociopathic tendencies made it almost impossible for any real change to stick to him. I mothered when I should have been girlfriending, and further mothered as a wife. It was exhausting, honestly. While visiting my sister, she made the statement “I just wish you guys could’ve worked it out.”

“I don’t,” I replied confidently. She seemed surprised.

I concealed a lot of the dysfunction in my marriage. There are still some things I will only reveal if asked or if I feel the person doesn’t truly understand why I’m happier now.

In my newfound belief system, I’ve discovered and confirmed that things go smoothly if you are vibrationally compatible. What this truth means is that, when we have seasons where certain relationships are challenging or friendships have gone silent, it is usually due to incompatibility of personal vibration. So, rather than viewing the things my ex did while we were dating as divine intervention, I’m realizing now that the universe was TRYING desperately to pull me away from someone who would inevitably hurt me tragically in the long run. If a man will cheat on you once, you can guarantee he will do it again. It wasn’t my job to tell him how much God loved him and how he had better for him. It wasn’t my job to be the ear to listen as he described why he had commitment fears. At that moment, I should’ve walked away. I should’ve noticed and realized my worth. But I didn’t. Instead, I allowed someone else to personify my worth, and I lost Ashley in the process. In the process of raising the vibration of someone else, I forgot that I was putting my future in the hands of someone who didn’t match my vibration. Someone I constantly doubted. A relationship which provided a constant companion of suspicion, insecurity, and trust issues. How on earth could I think this was a good idea?

Because my ex presented to be every mother’s dream for her daughter’s companion. He was an expert at wearing masks, and he falls into the Christian mask very easily. People praised him for his talents, the way he cared for me, and how he would sometimes talk sense into me. You know. Because I was the one who was obviously wrong all the time. And even as my ears rang from a blow to my ear after a fight in which he lost control, his family came home mere minutes later, and I had to assume the role of happy girlfriend. I am not trying to demonize him. I am simply explaining my PTDD.

He had subconsciously convinced me I was crazy. I sat in my therapist’s office my second day of inpatient after suicidal thoughts placed me there. She looked at me, very confidently, and stated “You are NOT crazy. You never were crazy. You are having an expected reaction to a bad situation.” Was that true? It seemed everyone else couldn’t understand why I had to separate from my ex. To this day, his family still thinks it’s my fault the divorce happened. Even as their baby boy, the child who can’t seem to do any wrong, had multiple friends with benefits during our separation. I wasn’t innocent, not at all. I ran to the comfort of other men when I knew he was doing the same with women. But I also never put on a mask that communicated that I was innocent. I was ashamed of my behavior — my desperate need to build up my confidence again after it had been ripped to shreds. But I never gave up. Up until the day he had me sign the papers, I still had some naive hope he would come to his senses instead of just deciding to start over with another woman. But he had gave me the ultimatum that I must let him move back in or he would divorce me. We separated domestically because there were some things that he personally needed to work on. He did none of them, yet still managed to have plenty of time to sell a car to his future third wife and develop a friendship turned romantic relationship with her. In my heart, I think he refused to believe that he was in the majority of the wrong. And his pride prevented him from seeking the help he (we) needed.

I was driven to insanity the last months of the relationship. Finding out he was having sex with other women, finding porn on his tablet, watching him slowly lose interest in me, watching in real time on Facebook while he chatted and made arrangements to “make out” with a girl the same day we celebrated our five year anniversary. Slowly, the suspicions I had became truth. I think the first time I truly realized he had a serious problem was about two or three weeks after we laid Carlie to rest. He initiated sex, and I tearfully rejected him. I couldn’t at the moment — my body wasn’t completely healed, and any sensation in that region reminded me of her feet that were constantly felt on my pelvis in the days before her death. I tried to explain to him, but he became angry, and then cried. I struggled to understand him — knowing that he felt intimacy through sex, being a male — but I slowly realized that his tendencies were not normal.

As a child, I always pinched at the fat on my stomach. I remember first trying diets at age 10. I have always had a horrible body image. This experience wrecked what little confidence I was grasping to. With each stolen glance I’d catch him in while we were in public, for each time I knew he wasn’t eager for sex because he’d been busy looking at pornography and/or relieving himself to the pictures/video/mental images of other women in his mind. For the times I felt like nothing more than a way to relieve sexual frustration… I broke a little more. I am now conditioned to immediately fight a panic attack if I am in the same room with a man I care about and a half-dressed or naked woman is on the screen. It’s like clockwork. I gauge the man’s eyes — are they looking at her? Does he think she’s sexier than me? If he looks, what does that mean? Does it mean he will go off one day and cheat on me? Am I not good enough? Alluring enough? Enough, enough? The whole process is maddening, and yet sometimes I feel I cannot control the tidal wave of insecurity before it pummels me. What man could put up with such nonsense? I’m also aware of the fact that what you fear most is what can end up happening if you give enough power to it. So I also have to fight to not make it my reality by not allowing my thoughts to run rampant about what COULD be going on.

There’s times I still feel insane. I hold tight to the affirmations of my therapist — I’m not crazy, and I was simply a suffering woman flailing in a drowning sea of grief and rejection, who reached for the first thing to try and pull her up. I hold onto the truths she’s given me, such as telling me earlier this year that she wouldn’t be surprised if my ex was engaged and married before the end of the year. I told her “Surely not. Not that soon.” But she was right. And I had to experience an entire new cathartic release as I saw how easily he could replace me. At the same time, it was poetic justice. All of my suspicions were suddenly confirmed. What a relief, but what a heart break.

The universe understood I needed someone who can read my thoughts as well, if not better, than myself. It took care in matching my vibration with Kyle. Even thought it was over a year in the making, the universe still found a way to lead us back to each other — even as I found myself caught up in a rebound relationship, and Kyle refusing to talk to me for awhile because he knew I deserved better.

I had an insecurity attack yesterday. I was already feeling vulnerable due to the holidays and the absence of my Carlie Wren. We were watching a music video which happened to have a half-dressed woman in it. Never seeing the video before, Kyle didn’t know what was in it. We watched for a little over a minute before my eyes shifted away from the video and to a random fixation in the room. I couldn’t let this monster grab hold of me again. I had to figure out a way to be secure in myself, to trust Kyle, and to understand that not everyone has ill intentions if they love you. Before I could let the logical take hold, the insecurity had already taken over. He looked just a second too long at the video, and my whole world felt like it fell apart. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. In a lot of ways, I feel I need trauma therapy for my separation and eventual divorce. I hate handing this baggage to someone and expecting them to understand. I know it’s illogical. I know it’s silly. But sometimes, I simply cannot control what route my mind is going to take – or my emotions. I try. I try very hard. But one vulnerability in any other area of my life (for example, I was feeling sickly yesterday) and the carefully constructed coping skills I’ve learned seem to dissipate out of my mind and actions.

I left the room. I gathered myself, used crystal healing with my favorite therapy crystal (Rose Quartz) and tried to calm myself down. When I feel that way, it’s like a trigger to remember all of the hurt and pain I went through when I felt that particular way. Insecurity attacks actually cause flash-backs for me, and I’m back in the hospital with Carlie, or I’m reading my ex’s words to another female, or I’m thinking about all the things I should have done that could’ve prevented Carlie’s death. The feeling in itself is a trigger.

I say all this to explain… vibrational compatibility is essential.

I returned to Kyle’s room with puffy eyes, trying to hold it together. There were so many things making me sad, I couldn’t seem to get a strong breath. I tried to hide the tears, but Kyle was pulling my head into his lap and stroking my hair before I could explain. But I didn’t need to explain. He understood.

“I know what’s going on with you. You shouldn’t feel that way. That’s silly. You’re hot as a furnace. Besides, you’re only a point of light. We’re all a point of light.” I don’t think he even understood the impact those words would have on me, or he might’ve said it more eloquently. But in that moment, it was exactly what I needed to hear. He understood me, my soul, and my essence.

I have spent my whole life trying to explain myself. What a relief to finally find someone that doesn’t need my explanations. He knows me — the good, the bad, the ugly — and he understands my essence verses when my emotions are trying to take control of me. He helps me work through those ridiculous thoughts. When I’m able to gather the strength to let him know the thoughts, he immediately counters my worries, fears, insecurities, etc. with logical arguments that make much more sense than the delusional thoughts my brain tries to invent.

I have met my vibrational match, after thinking I could never fully trust love, men, or relationships again.

“So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.”

-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

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7 thoughts on “Post Traumatic Divorce Disorder

  1. Even though we’ve talked about all of the stuff in your post before, I’m grateful to see you using writing as therapy and sharing your heart fearlessly and openly.

    Of course, a lot of us felt like he wasn’t right for you–I didn’t always know how to express that to you, but I knew without a doubt he wasn’t the person for you. I second-guessed myself after you two married, thinking, “Well, I must’ve been wrong.” You put up with a lot of things from him that I couldn’t fathom and I don’t think I realized how much was rooted in insecurity when, to me, I saw nothing to be insecure about. Nothing but vibrance, intelligence, generosity, thoughtfulness, kindness– I’ve always thought of you as a bright star.

    I can relate to the feelings of insecurity because I felt that in past relationships. Very strongly. I remember crying in PG-rated movies when there was nothing on screen that would’ve concerned a normal person– but knowing that it was affecting a past relationship– and wishing so desperately I could be enough. Staying with someone for far longer than I should’ve because I wanted to know for sure I was enough before I ended it. And finally being sick of it and realizing I would never be enough.

    Being with someone you trust and someone who values you is like moving from black and white to color–startling and joyous.

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to forgive and forgive, only to have someone treat you the way you’ve been treated. I was in disbelief over his behavior for a long time, especially this summer.

    I’m not sure what your newfound belief system entails, but I can tell you I would replace most of your uses of the word ‘universe’ with God. I don’t think it was the universe trying desperately to pull you away from someone who would inevitably hurt you tragically in the long run; I think, looking back, you encountered divine obstacles from a Father who loves you.

    Maybe you’d agree with me on that; maybe not. But know that nothing–not your insecurities, not your divorce, not things present nor things to come–can separate you from Jesus and His love when you are His child.

    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:35-39

    I know you might view this comment as fundamentalism, or part of a belief system that hurt you in the past (leading you toward marriage with a husband who used Christianity as a tool to manipulate you into accepting his behavior), but Jesus isn’t a belief system. Jesus is a person. Who lived for you and died for you. Christians, both real Christians and fake Christians, mess up and distort truth. That’s why we can’t look to other people or even to churches or Christian organizations to tell us the truth. We can only look to Jesus, a real person, to tell us the truth.

    And He tells us nothing–not even divorce, not even death–can separate us from His love. And His love is true in a world of lies.

    More later, if I can get time.

  2. Even though we’ve talked about all of the stuff in your post before, I’m grateful to see you using writing as therapy and sharing your heart fearlessly and openly.

    A lot of us felt like he wasn’t right for you–I didn’t always know how to express that to you, but I knew he wasn’t the person for you. I second-guessed myself after you two married, thinking, “Well, I must’ve been wrong.” You put up with a lot of things from him that I couldn’t fathom and I don’t think I realized how much was rooted in insecurity when, to me, I saw nothing to be insecure about. To me, you are nothing but vibrance, intelligence, generosity, thoughtfulness, kindness. A bright star through and through.

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to forgive and forgive, only to have someone treat you the way you’ve been treated. I was in disbelief over his behavior for a long time, especially this summer.

    I’m not sure what your newfound belief system entails, but I can tell you I would replace most of your uses of the word ‘universe’ with God. I don’t think it was the universe trying desperately to pull you away from someone who would inevitably hurt you tragically in the long run; in hindsight, I think–if I may be so bold as to speculate on your life–that you encountered divine obstacles from a Father who loves you.

    Maybe you’d agree with me on that; maybe not.

    Know that nothing–not your insecurities, not your divorce, not things present nor things to come–can separate you from Jesus and His love when you are His child.

    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:35-39

    I know you might view this comment as fundamentalism, or part of a belief system that hurt you in the past (leading you toward marriage with a husband who used Christianity as a tool to manipulate you into accepting his behavior), but Jesus isn’t a belief system. Jesus is a person. Who lived for you and died for you. Christians, both real Christians and fake Christians, mess up and distort truth. That’s why we can’t look to other people or even to churches or Christian organizations to tell us the truth. We can only look to Jesus, a real person, to tell us the truth.

    And He tells us nothing–not even divorce, not even death–can separate us from His love. And His love is true in a world of lies.

    More later, if possible.

    • I’m rereading my comment above and there is this simplistic tone to it that I don’t like, but I attribute that to my poor communication entirely.

      If I could reword or add to that comment, I think I would focus on asking questions more than anything else.

      -What differentiates the universe and God in your mind? The universe is not a person with emotions; it is a thing–a massive, mysterious thing–but a thing nonetheless. While it is poetic to attribute emotions or desires to a thing (the idea of the universe desperately pulling you away from a toxic person)–and, in a way, comfortingly impersonal–is it true? Or is this just your way of creating a sense of authority and purpose around what happened to you–and, if this is the case, why not just say God?

      -This is not necessarily directly related to anything you specifically wrote, but I’m curious about what you would say. Just out of pure interest, what role *would* you say God played in these difficult situations? Or do you avoid answering that because it opens up your heart in a way that is too raw, too confusing and too potentially hurtful? (Not saying those are bad reasons. I’ve certainly done the same. Just wondering what role you see God as having in these circumstances.)

      I know all of this is written matter-of-factly because you can’t write in a tone of voice, but please read this in a quiet, slow, curious voice full of love and care for you and the precious gift of your life.

    • I tried to comment a couple of times on my phone yesterday, but they never went through. 😦 I will try to remember what I wrote later today after our morning therapy session.

  3. friend, i am so thankful that you are finally being loved in the way you were meant to be loved. what an amazing gift– to have a best friend and life long companion who Knows you Fights for you and Loves you even still.

    sex-addiction is such a horrible twisting of what intimacy was supposed to be. C has been going to Sexaholics Anonymous for about six months now and it has been amazing for our marriage. he was about 4 years sober before that, but i can’t explain how it has changed him. made him a better man, a stronger husband, a kind and loving father. i hope for that kind of healing for W. i echo heather– i’m so sorry for the lies that were told to you under the guise of Christ. over these past two years i have become more and more disgusted by the Church, a glorified club for rule followers and moral people who want to appear good at all costs. Christ is not there– not in that. and whatever you believe now about Him, He is loving you there.

    ps! if you are ever in the area, i’d love to see you (and your man if he’s with you)! we have a new address now, but we’re still in the cinci metro.

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