Friday, October 12, 2012

Is change possible?

Dear Anonymous who wrote the following:

"I don't want to be deceived and betrayed again. But is change possible for some? And even if it is, how does this color the rest of our lives? Will it ever be truly behind us?"

Change is possible. I'm not sure if you're wondering about change for yourself or for the sex offender in your life, but the answer is yes either way.

For a one-time offender, the chances of them re-offending is very low (that's with legal intervention, court-ordered therapy, and terribly restrictive probation).

For someone more damaged, like a sex addict, like my husband, I'm not sure what the chances of change are. I thought that being arrested and losing everything he's worked for would push Jake to change, but he continued to lie about his crimes and affairs. Through his demeanor, Jake has made it clear that he doesn't care how much he has damaged the lives of his victims, let alone his family. I'm not sure he will change. I believe it will take decades, if at all.

Don't let Jake bring you down because we've all heard come-back stories of alcoholics and other addicts. Sex addicts can choose to change. They can take control of their lives and their addictions. They can learn appropriate behavior, empathy, and other needed qualities for healthy sexual choices. There is always hope.

I think the more important question is whether you are going to change. I'm not suggesting a drastic change, like leaving . . . unless you want to, of course. I'm suggesting a change in how you perceive yourself and how you make your choices. Since my personal nightmare began, so many people who care about me repeated the same wish: that I start making choices based on what is best for me and the children. He has made selfish choices that have hurt and broken the family, so it is fair to set his desires as less priority than those of the other family members. If he is really interested in changing, then he will accept - perhaps even embrace - this new decision making process. Once I started operating in this manner I could see that Jake was not on board. He was not willing to accept the needs of his wife and children as priorities over himself. It was incredibly telling . . .

So ponder this: Are you making choices with your own best interest in mind? Or are you ignoring what you need because it will hurt the sex offender in your life? When you love someone and have practiced for many years to make mutually beneficial choices, it is hard to make this change. I suggest reading something healing and inspiring. I read Eat, Pray, Love.

I also wrote a lot of letters to my daughters. It helped me to imagine how I will explain this all to them some day. If I felt like I was making excuses and apologizing, then I knew I needed to review our circumstances again. My letters to them are much happier and less apologetic now. If you don't have children, write yourself a letter to open in 10-years. Will it be an empowering letter? Loving letter? Apologizing letter?

I think it impossible to avoid being deceived again by someone, somewhere. But now that you know there is a liar in your life, you are much less likely to be deceived by him again. About the time I realized that Jake had been truly unfaithful, I finally decided that he no longer would receive the respect for privacy and trust that I give all other loved ones in my life. This is actually an important decision for a person who is sharing part of their life with an addict. Addicts NEED other people to call their bluff and check their story. Again, if he doesn't like it then he isn't ready to change . . . probably because he is still hiding something.

Yes, this will color the rest of your life. I think about this daily. I hope that it will color me more sensible and careful with relationships and money. I hope that it has sharpened my ability to protect my children. It has injured my trust - and even my interest - in the opposite sex, but that will likely fade.

We'll heal, if we're making good choices for ourselves. I think I'm getting a lot better about that and I hope you are, too.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Sunny State

The last time I posted was in June. I made a big decision around that time: to leave. I decided to get out of Colorado and return to my hometown in California. The move happened the first week of August. I would have left sooner than that, but arrangements took a while. Right before the move, I had become really scared. I wasn't sleeping out of fear. My in-laws could sense something happening and they started sneaking around behind my back. I believe they thought I was going to sell my husband's possessions, so they were taking them. Whatever they were thinking, they just ramped up my paranoia. The move itself took a big toll on me, the kids, and my immediate family members, but the shear happiness of knowing I was out - wow! I had reclaimed my life! I slept like a log for almost 12 hours the first night in California. I have had some emotional days since then - regrets, ideas on how I could have done things differently, fear of the future - but the happiness and relief have always won out. I'm really truncating this story to get back to my point . . . 

I could say that I stopped posting in June because I was spending all my time and energy planning a move, which was true . . . But really, I stopped posting because I thought this story was over. However, I just got a few reminders that this story never ends.

First, I had a visitor to my blog. It was woman who I believe recently became aware that her husband is a sex offender. She left some sympathetic and passionate statements that reminded me of comments I left on some other blogs when I first entered this arena. I remember searching the internet for other women like me. Were other women feeling the same emotions? Were they struggling with love in the midst of betrayal? How did they make decisions about their marriage? How did they face their community? How did they raise their children? What did they see when they looked in the mirror? A "co-dependent"? A "co-addict"? A victim?

Her presence, reminding me of myself about a year ago, made me want to stay active on this blog for the sake of other women.We have a lot in common and a lot to learn from each other. I hope other women will start their own blogs or volunteer or share their stories in whatever way they are inspired. Keeping the conversation going is important.

The second thing that brought me back was a mild panic attack over the safety of some children that I suddenly feared were being left in the company of a sex offender. I was relieved to learn later that they were with someone safe and measures are being taken to keep them that way. There is more to that story and maybe I'll tell it someday, but my point tonight is that there is an ongoing problem beyond my family and my marriage and my children.

 I think many wives (and other non-victim family members) of sex offenders hide themselves out of shame, and yet we have some valuable insight that could help others. My story is mine, but it echoes so many . . . if the many would connect, share, and learn from each other than we would feel less shame and start having the courage to say, "Hey, I know something about this problem. I know the warning signs. I know how to prevent this." Or, "I know how to help a family that is broken by this." If the presence of my blog helps a woman step away from her shame (undeserved shame, by the way), inspire her to reclaim her life (whether or not it includes the offender), and spread a little awareness then I'm here to stay.

California, by the way, is perfectly sunny. Colorado meanwhile is having a cold snap. I am very happy to be here despite my unemployment, impending divorce, and financial dependency on my parents. You'll hear about those stories another day, I'm sure! Anyhow, I'm thinking that I'll be a sporadic blogger, but I hope that anyone who comes across this blog will feel free to comment. All comments end up in my inbox, so you aren't talking to yourself!