Monday, April 19, 2010

Why Am I An Ex-Wife?

According to a 2008 statistic sited in Wikipedia, 40% of all marriages in the USA end in divorce, and 46% of all marriages involve someone who was previously married. I fit in both those stats.

I have been thinking about writing about how and why I ended up a divorced Mormon. As a general rule, the Church encourages marriages and tries to work with their members in order to avoid divorce. There are counseling services, including marriage counseling, at our disposal. Unfortunately, more and more marriages are struggling and sometimes divorce is really the only solution.

After over two years of marriage counseling, individual counseling, co-dependency support groups and long talks with my bishop, I realized divorce was really the only sane solution left for me.

I wrote when I first started this blog that my husbands were unfaithful. As is often the case, I married twice to men who had the same core problem. They were both sex addicts. There has been no confession or acknowledgment from my first husband that he was either unfaithful or a sex addict, but the signs were there. Flashing neon bright now that I know what to look for. My second husband did confess to both and is now struggling to overcome his addiction. Because he played me for so long, he is doing it alone. I lost all trust of him and doubt it could ever be restored.

I did not realize at the time I married either man that sex addiction was an issue, although I did know my second husband had previously been unfaithful to his second wife. I was the third wife. I believed him when he told me his story, that she drove him out. I believe a different story now. I just knew I would be the best wife possible, so there would be no reason for him to cheat... Reading Robin Norwood's book "Women Who Love Too Much" really opened my eyes on that one. I was a classic Woman who believed she could "fix" the man, and create for him an environment where he could reach his full potential. Now I know that is a bunch of bunk.

But getting back to my core... Why was I attracted to that kind of man? The answer goes back to my childhood. I was attracted to a sex addict because my father was a sex addict and that was all I knew. From my earliest memories my dad was a "dirty old man" as he would jokingly call himself. He really was too, it was no joke. It was sick and pathetic. He would refer to his three daughters as his "white slaves". I was the middle daughter. I was actually trauma bonded to my dad and it took a whole lot of therapy to break that bond.

We weren't always Mormon. My uncle (Mom's brother)was a member and he had tried several times to talk to my parents. They kept refusing. The summer I was 14 we were visiting him and he invited us kids to church. I was wanting a church and had actually been going with various friends when opportunities allowed. I was happy to be invited, and the moment I walked into the chapel, I felt like I was home. It was the most wonderful feeling I had ever had. So when we went back to his house after church, my brother and I begged our parents to let us continue to go to that church back at home. They started taking the missionary discussions and eventually we were all baptized. I was so happy, I felt so clean.

I think my dad joined because it gave him access to lots of children. Years later, when my memories started to surface, it was discovered that a cult had molested a lot of the children in our ward, and my dad seemed to be the link between the ward and the cult. By this time my dad had passed away, so there was no confronting him directly. Other significant cult members were also dead. I do not want to go into any detail here, but there was significantly horrible things that went on because of that cult. I spent a whole lot of time in therapy over that subject alone.

Growing up with a sex-addicted, violent dad introduced me to a warped way of looking at life, at relationships and at myself. I was conditioned to believe my only purpose in life was to please a male. I had no right to say no. All a guy had to do was to make his move and I would give no resistance. I didn't know how or that I could. I would actually dissociate so deeply that I had no conscience memory of what had happened when it was over. I felt bad, but I didn't understand why. I thought I was just a bad person. I did not own my will or my body. I really didn't, Dad did. When dad said "jump", we literally, not figuratively, had to ask "how high?"

With this conditioning, it is easier to understand why I would choose to marry a man who was like my dad. My first husband was also physically abusive to our children, and according to several of their memories, also a pedophile. He was never formally accused, there have been no court cases.

When my second husband came home that fateful day, and confessed to me of his porn addiction first, then his affair, I was devastated. I thought I had done so much work on me that I would never have married back into that again. That was in 2006 and I began therapy in 1990. I wasn't in constant therapy during that time, but had probably 6 year's worth spread out over that period.

To say I was devastated is an understatement. I had struggled with suicidal thoughts before and they came flooding back to me. I had struggled with self-destructive behavior before and that came flooding back to me too. I was a mess. My husband was distant and non-committal. He would say he really didn't care what I did, stay or go, or he could stay or go. He continued to be emotionally abusive, he even triggered flash-backs in me. I was terrified of being alone, so I took it. I just couldn't leave.

My counselor told me I had to get to an emotional place where I would be okay if he left. She asked me what I would do if he came home and told me he was leaving... I said I would throw up - yep, eating disorder was kicking right in. I lost 20 lbs really fast, eating the equivalence to one meal in a span of about a week. I couldn't eat, didn't sleep, cried a whole lot, and did my best to pray through those months.

Through the help of co-dependency support groups and counseling and mostly the Lord, I was able to get strong enough to finally say no more. It took 2 years from the time he first confessed for us to separate, but because of finances, we remained in the same house. He had actually had two affairs, one physical, one emotional. The physical one ended, but the emotional one continued through his lies. When she finally broke up with him two years later, he told me about it and I said enough. He got the living room, I kept the bedroom. Six months later I was able to move in with my oldest son and his wife, and a year later I moved to Oregon.

I was once asked what the hardest part of it all was. Hands down it was the lies. He would look me straight in the face and lie in such a way that he was crazymaking me. He accused me of being paranoid, of having no reason not to trust him. All he did was lie to me. I caught a lot of his lies by installing a program on his computer that took pictures of what he looked at every 5 seconds. He knew the program was on his machine, and I even told him what it did, but he just didn't get it. Or he forgot. At one point it quit working for a day, and I never bothered to let him know it started working again. Anyway, I never want to see another porn scene again. It was awful. With the Lord's help I have been able to block those horrid memories from my active thoughts. I also saw the disgusting conversations he had with women who should know better. Women who were in worse shape than I was emotionally, that they would degrade themselves to that level.

I am grateful to be out of that marriage. I am grateful to my children and extended family, for their support and in some cases, a place to live. I am grateful to the Lord, for helping me to not just get out of a bad situation, but to learn, grow and heal through the process. My counselor, when doing my exit interview, assured me she felt I had addressed the issues that attracted me to that kind of man. I believe she is right.

Right now, I am in no hurry to be in a relationship. I would like some male friends, to talk to or hang out with sometimes. Nothing deep or committed. My counselor strongly urged me to give it two years before I considered a relationship again. I'm not sure when the two years started, but my divorce was almost a year ago. May 20th is the magic date. Mother's Day is the two year mark from when we separated, and November 15th of this year will be the two year mark from when I moved out. It doesn't really matter. I guess I'll know when I am ready, I just know it isn't now.

So, the reason I am a Mormon ex-wife is because I had a whole lot of issues relating to relationships and being attracted to a sex-addict. It doesn't matter what religion you are, these issues and problems are in all religions. I had to get those issues resolved before I could move past it.

Someday a righteous man will come my way. I believe in the Lord's timing, so I believe it will happen when I am ready. Until then, I am happy where I am at.

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