Morning Walk


Owls often perch in this old oak.

I have to say that there was a time when I would have titled this, “Mourning Walk” because I often tried to use my walks as a time to mourn and grieve, but I discovered something in the process of trying to simultaneously walk and grieve. It was difficult to do both.  I would leave my house with intentions of being alone so I could cry, but the tears usually disappeared ten to twenty minutes into the walk. For me, taking a walk can do miracles for creating a bit of peace in my mind. Sometimes just a tiny “bit” of peace is enough.

Unless I have an appointment or need to meet a deadline, the purpose of my walks is not to reach a specified destination. The purpose of my walks is to deliberately take in each moment, to let my senses soak in the scenes, and to let my mind and soul connect with God’s grandeur. Sometimes I have to slow down my brisk pace in order to let the experience go through me. I enjoyed one of my recent morning walks so much; I wanted to share the experience with others, so I slowed down and took a few photos (Please don’t judge the photos. They were taken with my phone!).

I have many walking routes that I enjoy, but none of them have sidewalks or busy streets. I walk in the woods. I walk where I can hear the rustle of quail as they fly from their hiding places. I can smell the pungent fragrances of wild grasses that leave my walking shoes wet from their dewey blades. A breeze might gently move a wisp of hair over my face, tickling my nose. Overhead, in the soft blue cloudless sky, I often hear the shrill cry of a hawk looking for prey.

A rare close-up encounter with a vulture!

The glorious sensory experiences fill my mind and nudge the pain and realities of life into  faraway back-corners of my thoughts, giving me a bit of peace from the noise of trauma. And that is why I go on a morning walk.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

-Henry David Thoreau


Post-Trauma Growth


Was I asleep during the lesson on post-trauma growth, or what?

I’ve been traveling through this healing process armed with a load of information on post-traumatic stress disorder. I have done my homework for LifeStar and I’ve added additional work for my individual therapy. I’ve had a laser-like focus on kicking betrayal trauma in the butt and not letting the sinful behaviors of one individual, my husband, destroy who I am. Honestly, if I hadn’t worked so hard, I would have ended up in a mental ward somewhere because I was a big terrible mess. No exaggeration. The sudden discovery that I had been deceived for thirty-seven years hit me like a nuclear bomb. It’s been two years and there’s still some fallout from that nuclear mushroom cloud.

nuclear mushroom cloud
Photo Source: US Dept. of Energy/

Maybe my focus was too narrow. I don’t know. There were many times that I read how people were blessed and found even greater happiness after trauma. I had faith that what I read was true, but it all seemed so subjective. At times, I thought the promises of a better life were reserved only for the recovering addict. After all, he was finally free from the prison of his secrets. It seemed absolutely possible that his life would be much better after finding recovery.

I, on the other hand, thought my life before the nuclear bomb was pretty awesome. So, maybe the promise of a better tomorrow, for me, meant that I would finally live with more clarity and a better understanding of who my husband really is. I would finally live without his emotional brick wall that so often separated us.

In the end, it didn’t matter. Regardless of  the potential for “better tomorrows” or an “improved and better marital relationship,” I just marched forward on my focus of becoming healed and whole again. Post-trauma life seemed like a far-away land that existed in some faint dream. I operated on pure faith that my post-trauma life would be worth the work I was doing. I operated on faith because I didn’t have enough concrete evidence to do anything else.

So, what the heck? There IS concrete evidence, folks! There’s actual scientific research on post-traumatic growth or PTG. Hey, if it has its own acronym, you know its legit! Maybe the dark fog of trauma caused me to ignore this stuff. For whatever reason, as I begin to step into a post-trauma life (I like to call it “the after-life”), I’m now bumping into all kinds of verifiable and credible research on the subject of PTG.

For all of you that are still trying to find your way out of the dark hole of trauma, the hope for a better after-trauma life is real. Keep clawing your way out, because the light and sunshine ahead can actually be brighter than you’ve known before. You have to walk through a sometimes fiery path to healing before you will understand how this can even be possible, but it’s true. I’m beginning to see a new brightness of hope and joy. And . . . studies give some proof that this is possible. Check out Google Scholar for the research like this one from Jenna Van Slyke, M. S.

Although traumatic experiences can sometimes result in severe psychological distress, they can also result in positive psychological changes as a result of the trauma survivors’ struggle with the trauma. Also known as post-traumatic growth (PTG), these positive changes may include the development of new perspectives and personal growth. Current studies have shown that 30% to 90% of people report some positive changes following trauma.

. . .  One of the better known scales, the Post-traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), measures five broad domains that comprise a significant amount of the variance in PTG: a greater appreciation of life, closer relationships, identification of new possibilities, increased personal strength, and positive spiritual change. Greater appreciation of life following a traumatic event can be represented by a shift in priorities and taking pleasure in aspects of life that were once taken for granted. Trauma survivors may also experience increased compassion and empathy for others, which allow them to cultivate deeper and more meaningful relationships. Identification of new possibilities and increased personal strength can also be seen in trauma survivors who display high levels of PTG. For example, an individual may display higher levels of self-efficacy or a stronger belief in his or her ability to overcome obstacles. The same individual may experience a change in values post-trauma and find that he or she is able to identify a more fulfilling path for the future. Finally, trauma survivors may also experience a positive change in spirituality, perceiving themselves as being more capable of connecting with something greater than themselves (God, the universe, nature, etc.), regardless of religious affiliation.

I will now keep a summarized list from the PTGI on my bathroom mirror. New work. New life. New focus.

post trauma growth new

Click here for printable PDF of Post-Trama Growth seen above

Two Years


It’s been two years since D-Day when my husband made his initial disclosure about his secret life and sex-addict behaviors.

Looking back over these two years, I realize that I have worked dang hard on my healing. I experienced it all: panic attacks, snot-bubble cries, a new ability to cuss, curled-up-on-the-floor cries, visions of a cast-iron skillet hitting my husband’s head, pulling-the-car-over-to-the-side-of-the-road cries, a new ability to throw things in my husband’s direction with (his luck) inaccuracy, and the propensity to cry while shopping, eating at a restaurant, in the middle of a completely innocuous discussion, or any random moment.

I still revert to some of those behaviors, but I’m changing. It’s been a long, slow process, but I was determined to not let my husband’s betrayal define me. I just couldn’t let myself stay in the bitter and heartbroken stage of trauma. Stages of trauma? I don’t know if there’s any science behind this, but let me share what I experienced as phases and stages of my own healing.

Dark Days: I am a survivor and I am becoming a thriver after experiencing betrayal trauma. The trauma is real, folks. And it’s really, really ugly.  I call the time following my husband’s initial disclosure, “the dark days of trauma.” I couldn’t see any light or hope. Everything I thought I knew about my life was stripped away. The darkness even invaded my sleep with fearful dreams and restlessness. I simply existed. I didn’t feel like praying, but I did it anyway. I prayed every morning that somehow, some way, I would get through the day. I prayed every night and thanked God that I got through the day. Day by day, with  panic attacks, uncontrolled sobbing, and absolutely no hope, that’s how I lived.

Finding Light: Then, I began to see little tiny glimmers of hopeful light through the dense darkness. I felt the small flickers of hope were like tiny bread crumbs that could lead me on a path back home to a life of hope and happiness. I was on a constant search for my small snippets of hope and considered them gifts from God. I began noting these gifts in a gratitude journal and my outlook, though still clouded in trauma, began to lift a bit.

light from sun

Discovering Gleaming Hope: Slowly, with a lot of work on my part, the light emerged and I could see the possibility of healing. I could feel the positive affect from the work I was doing, so I amped up my research, self-care, daily habits of healthy living, personal therapy, and reached out to God and others. The small snippets of hope turned into big miracles that were undeniable, real, and gleaming with God’s love. I was changing. I was becoming more resilient and able to put my faith in action. I was hopeful.

Discovering Bright Joy: I am here. I am still in the process of learning about living an open-hearted and joyful life. I am learning that I can create my own joy. Instead of reacting to events and people around me, I can process my emotions and find a peaceful place. For me, the ability to find peace brings a sense of calm and joy. I feel the brightness of joy on the horizon. It’s something experienced in moments but the memory can keep a heart warm for a long time. My heart is almost healed enough that it can hold the warmth of these types of memories without filtering through the holes left by wounds. I am almost there. Almost.

sparkle heart

I don’t know what happens next in my life. Living with a sex addict, even a recovering one, can be uncertain. I just know that each day is a new day. I know that I’m a wiser and more resilient person than I was two years ago so somehow I’ll be able to manage whatever the next thing is. My goal-driven and ambitious life of the past has been quieted by God’s constant and gentle reminder to surrender my life to him. Let go. Feel the peace. Find the joy.



The Unwelcome Visitor

She usually visits my house when I least expect it. It can be just before I go to bed, while I’m getting ready for the day, or right after lunch. No matter. She has no respect for my time and she seems to prefer dropping in so that I am surprised and unprepared. Rude.

Before any official announcement of her arrival, I can almost sense that she is there. She is almost always accompanied by her black-robed cousin, Fear. In fact, somehow Fear is able to sneak into my house and then she opens the door for my unwelcome visitor and lets her in.

My visitor looks like me, except her eyes are different. Her eyes lack vitality. There is a darkness in her countenance. Her hair is often disheveled. I have heard there are moments of desperation when she pulls at her hair or nervously runs her fingers through her tresses. Her mouth is pulled tight. Her skin is blotchy with patches of pale pink juxtaposed against crimson red. She is ugly, for sure. And she scares me when I see her.

She never says, “Hello.” She simply rushes in and takes over my household. Her voice is loud and high-pitched. The things she says are harsh. It seems like she is able to dig very deep into wounds and produce foul and hurtful statements that sting everyone around her. People cower and try to hide when she arrives. Except me. I cannot escape her. She attaches herself to me and follows me wherever I go. I feel her weight and it drains me of physical and emotional energy.

I don’t like this visitor. It is so difficult to make her leave. I want her to go away and never come back! Sometimes I can get her out of my house, but then I feel her lurking around the corner as she waits for an opportunity to slip back in the door. I need new strategies to keep her out.lock

I need fences around my house that make it more difficult for her to get in.  Maybe I can get a guard dog that will keep her from getting too close. Perhaps stronger locks on my door can prevent her from intruding again.

Until I manage to find more ways to keep her away, I will politely put a sign on my front door:

Trauma is not welcome here.

Paper Brave

pen and paper-7The are times when I can give awesome advice. There are times when I have unstoppable courage. There are times when I am so in tune with the Spirit, I have no doubts concerning the most important answers about life. When I am writing in my journal or invited to respond in writing to a question or concern for someone else, I have expotential courage. Oh, yes! I’m a valiant warrior woman when my pen hits the page. Sometimes I feel I am my bravest self when my life is written on paper. I project magnificence on the printed page!

It is a careful and methodical process when I attempt to write down the perfect thought to share with others. Surely, I can inspire and buoy others with my profundity. Yes! I know all about the addiction cycle and how someone behaves when in addict mode. I have great ideas about boundaries. I’m doing the 12-step dance every day along with scripture study and prayer. You need an article? Give me a second and I’ll find the perfect conference talk for your solace and comfort. Look at me! I’ve got this!

The reality is that writing down my thoughts gives me time and forces me to think things through.

I can quickly delete or erase any of my misdirected thoughts when I’m writing. The end result is that I sound mighty terrific! I can easily give the appearance that my healing progress is right on the mark. No foul-ups. No overly emotional responses. Ever.

Paper brave does not, however, save me from the moments when sobbing and hugging the floor is the only thing I can manage to do. My paper brave self cannot eliminate triggers that, without any warning, jump out and catch me when I’m off-guard. Paper bravery does no even exist when my imagination conjures up horrific images or scenarios that terrify me to the core in order to “fill in the blanks” of my husband’s disclosures. There are moments when my unstoppable courage halts, when I can’t think of any decent advice, and when detecting the Spirit is a challenge. Those are the moments when trauma takes over and my bravery cowers in the corner.

Fortunately, during times of trauma, I can read my journal filled with audacious counsel and guidance. As I read, I wonder, “Where is that warrior woman? Where did she go?” I keep reading until

I find myself again.