More Than a Decision

healing is a process

Patience is not one of my virtues! There were many days when I wondered why I wasn’t over it, yet. Why couldn’t I get over my husband’s betrayal and just move on?  It seemed like my husband’s recovery was on a fast-track while my healing was crawling along slower than a sloth. In fact, there were days when it seemed like my progress was going backward and I wasn’t making any forward steps at all! I felt like I should be able to make a decision to be happy again and then . . . well . . . I would be happy again!

Nope. That’s not how it works.

Healing is more than a decision. It is a process, a long and slow process.

It was easy for me to engage in negative self-talk when my process seemed to be going too slow. “Something must be wrong with me.” “I’m never going to be happy again!” “Why is this happening to me?” “I’m broken and I can’t be fixed.”

I engaged in my self-demeaning talk until I had the fortune of meeting with a new therapist who really understood what I was going through. She asked me how long it had been since I discovered my husband’s secret life. “Six weeks,” I told her. She smiled and said, “You need to give yourself at least a year to heal. At least a year. And it will probably take longer than that.”

Healing will take one year at the very least.  That bit of information changed everything for me.  It also helped when she explained that my husband’s recovery would not be on the same timeline as my healing. In fact, he would possibly recover from his addiction must faster than I would heal. She explained how he had been carrying his secrets, guilt, and shame for years. The weight that he had been carrying was suddenly thrown on me. Though D-Day induced trauma in me, it was liberating for him.

Everything I was told about giving myself time to heal made sense, but I still had a tendency to get impatient with my progress, especially if I allowed myself to compare my progress with the seemingly quick recovery that others experienced.  A crucial truth I had to learn: “The only person you should compare yourself to, is the person you were yesterday” (Amy Morin).

I decided that I needed a reality check. I found an old file folder and taped it to my bathroom mirror. I wrote, “Healing is a process, not a decision.” These wise words were something I remembered from counsel given to me earlier. I then wrote the date of my first day of discovery, when I found out my husband had a BIG problem. Then I wrote down the date when I discovered that my husband’s big problem included affairs with other women. I also wrote some key words of encouragement that I gleaned from a Priesthood blessing I received.

It wasn’t a pretty poster. There were no cute borders or curly-cues on it. It was an ugly manilla file folder with words written in black Sharpie pen, but it became a stabilizing factor for me. It was a constant reminder of my starting point and that I was merely at the beginning of my journey. My trauma brain was foggy, so every day I would need to recalculate how many weeks or months I had traveled in my long process toward healing.

I kept that file folder on my bathroom mirror for two years! I don’t believe healing is a final destination, but it seemed that about twenty months after D-Day, I was able to see some sparkle in my life. I could actually begin to envision a joyful future.

I think it’s important to remember that healing is not a straight and forward path. There are good days and not-so-good days. I often felt I was going backward and regressing. Keeping a journal helped me see that, though I did have days when I slipped back, overall I was making progress.

The healing process looks like the example on the right!

I worked hard to put my life back together. I made the decision to heal, but I had to eventually accept that my decision wasn’t enough. Healing takes a lot of work over an extended period of time. For some, it might take several months. For others, it might take several years. I wrote about my two year process on another post (Two Years). The length of time we take to heal is not as important as making each day count during the process. We can only take one day at a time.

My healing journey is now my life journey. I work every day toward trying to become more Christ-like, more resilient, and better able to be present for the joy in each day. The challenges of life don’t disappear, but I feel more mentally prepared and courageous to get through the challenges.




Books that Don’t Go on the Shelf

There it is, sitting quietly and inconspicuously in a corner of my garage. It’s a blue tinted storage bin with a dusty dark blue lid. I hid the bin there in the garage so my house guests wouldn’t find my secret stash of self-help-for-healing-and-recovery-after -discovering-my-husband-has-a-sex-addiction collection of books. These aren’t the kinds of books you display on the living room bookshelf!


Most of the books are also on my Kindle reader, but there’s something about being able to smell the musky paper of a book, to make handwritten notes in the margins, or double underline with a variety of colors and pens. So, while waiting for appointments or for the mechanic to change my car’s oil, I pretend to be on Facebook but I am actually reading the electronic versions of my sex addiction books. When I get home, I do my underlining  in the paper version then I put the real book away in my really well-hidden blue bin.

I didn’t intend for this post to be a book review but it’s sort of ending up that way.  I was simply pondering over the many things that have changed in my life. Little things, like where do I put the book I’m currently reading? I used to have a variety of books strewn on top, under, and around my night stand.  Having books nearby makes me feel like I’m surrounded by friends. Lately, however, I feel the need to hide what I’m reading. Maybe I should wrap each book in a brown paper bag and discreetly pull each one out while I consume its contents.

Well, let me introduce you to some of my friendly books that I keep hidden from view.

He Restoreth My Soul  by Donald L. Hilton was the first book I read. It is rich in research, real stories and examples, and offers a Christ-like perspective to sex addiction. I spent a lot of time in this book and gleaned some small glimmers of hope from it while I was in the early stages of trauma.

I always have extra copies available of What Can I Do About Him Me?  so I can share with others. I like to put a copy of  this book in a pretty gift bag and give it to a devastated wife rather than tell her to download the book or buy it for herself.  I think Rhyll Croshaw, the author, will always be my hero for 1) being courageous enough to share her experiences, 2) having the intellect to figure out effective ways to deal with a sex-addicted husband. If I ever feel fear creeping back into my thinking, I go back and review Rhyll’s practical tools and suggestions.

I also have several copies of Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship and I’ve shared this book with both men and women that want to know the basics of sex addiction or as Andrew, the writer of Sitting in a Rowboat, calls it: lust addiction.  Andrew has a knack for describing sex addiction in simple and understandable terms. If you want to crawl inside the mind of a sex addict, this is a must-read!


The newest published book in my collection is Life After Lust by Forest Benedict. This is a straightforward book with practical helps and strategies for those struggling with pornography addiction. Though it is written mainly for addicts, there are fresh cutting-edge ideas and explanations that can also help spouses understand sex addiction. The emphasis is on mindset, mastery, and mission (finding purpose) in recovery.  This book might become my new favorite.

Here is a list of other books I’ve read that won’t be on display in my house:

Boundaries in Marriage (Cloud & Townsend) 

Codependent No More (Melody Beattie).  I also recommend Beyond Codependency (Melody Beattie)

Getting Past the Affair (Snyder, Baucom, Gordon).

Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts (Vicki Tidwell Palmer).  Excellent resource for creating and keeping boundaries! I prefer this over the Cloud & Townsend book.

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal (Steffens, Means).

Worthy of Her Trust (Arterburn, Martinkus). Your husband needs to read this!

I’ve also read all of Brene Brown’s books along with several Christ-centered books written by LDS authors.

Everyone must find their own process for finding healing and peace. Some people focus on their physical health and fitness. Others might find solace in service or volunteer work. Music brings comfort to many people seeking healing. For me, reading is my tool for finding safety and my source for knowledge. I’ve got to have my books, even if I have to hide them somewhere!