Friday, December 9, 2016

How I married a sex addict, and other symptoms of swine flu

March 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Self Esteem

First some disclaimers.
This is my story. Mine, Mine, Mine. I’m writing it because, that’s what I do. I write. I share my life. It’s how I have learned to cope. And keeping this secret for as long as I have has done incredible damage to me. It’s time to come clean, not just for me, but for my children, and other people out here who may be suffering similarly.

Yes, my children know about it. No, we won ‘t be reading it aloud at bedtime. Yes, they are coping, but if you see them at Costco don’t ask them questions, they’ve already been through enough. He may have messed me over, but he’s still there father. And for all intents and purposes, he’s trying to be a better one.

Yes, I am still married, for now, (or at least until the recession is over). No, I didn’t ask my husband’s permission to write this. Yeah, I’m totally okay with that. No, I won’t be sharing any gory details of his exploits. This story is about me, he can write his own blog.

The characters in this story are not fictional. These are facts as I remember them. If you recognize anyone, please don’t try to be a hero, I can fight my own battles. (Well, at least I can now.)

I have been trying to write this post for many, many months. And every time I did I was overwhelmed by my own story. (That’s telling huh?) So, I have decided to take a new approach. We’re just going to go with an overview, a highlight, (lowlight), reel if you will. Please refrain from drawing psychological conclusions from my brevity, (and I mean in the details because this post certainly isn’t short!) I assure you I am not avoiding the details, just trying to write a post that won’t turn into War and Peace.

Deep breath… Here we go.

I was born and immediately put up for adoption. Not a big deal. It happened to a lot of us babies in the 70’s. I was in a foster home for only 5 weeks and then I was adopted. All was good. My adoptive parents are my parents, completely. I have always felt their love and support. Fast forward to nursery school. This is where my story really begins. There was a teachers’ assistant. (At least that’s what my faint recollection of her is.) I was 4. She had been talking to me about something special she wanted me to do for a bit of time. I really didn’t understand what she was talking about, but was so eager to please that I didn’t want her to know that and think less of me. On this fateful day she once again told me what she had in store for me, and I followed her throughout the school looking for the right partner. For what, I still did not understand. We finally found a classmate of mine, a little boy with curly hair and glasses. She took the two of us into a closet and commanded us to do her bidding. We were the puppets and she was the master. She commanded that we perform, what I now know to be sex acts initiated by a sick and depraved woman. But then they were just confusing, uncomfortable activities that I had to partake in for an adult I admired and desperately wanted to be my friend. I remember the pounding on the door, which was as loud as the pounding of my heart in my chest. The lead teacher was trying to get in. I felt relief, shame and worry. Instinctively I was aware that I had done something wrong. I wasn’t sure if it was my fault, though regardless I was very sorry. However, she got away with it. That’s the short story. She lost her job, but that was it. She got away, but I didn’t.

I was scarred for life, but I didn’t know it. How could I, I was only 4. How could I understand that her depraved actions had set me on a sexual path that would lead me to make choices of degradation and self destruction. How could I possibly know? Well, I didn’t. And I didn’t. And I didn’t. But I do now. But not before I befell a vast number of pitfalls. My sexual maturation was filled with them.

It was not long after my nursery school incident that I experienced more abuse; by a classmates’ step father, an adult cast-mate in a theatrical production, and a teen age neighbor boy. My youth was filled with incident after incident. I was a magnet for them. (That’s what I realize now.) My victimization at such a young age had changed me. It had imprinted on me a state of victimization that I acted out, as if a part in a play, over, and over, and over, without ever understanding that the script could be changed. Surreal actually, since I was the daughter of two social workers, and known for my empathy and intuition regarding other peoples problems. I could sniff out a child molester when it pertained to other people. During an evening rehearsal for The Wiz, when I was just 15, I watched a man talk at a young girl in the community center we were working in. The look on her face told me everything I needed to know, even without the soundtrack. When she and her mother uncomfortably got up to leave the man followed after them, quickly and purposefully, out of the building. I didn’t even blink, I took off after him, fully outfitted in my Dorothy costume for the show. I chased the molester, who was chasing the young girl who was following her small mother, down Madison’s city streets, right past the open window of the local bar, in my ruby red slippers. (When the also costumed Cowardly Lion followed after me at a full clip, the die hard drinkers pushed their mugs aside and headed for the door). Just as I was going to reach the molester the Lion grabbed him before I could, but most importantly, before he could grab the girl. I don’t know what I was intending to do. The police asked me that very question when they arrived later. I didn’t know anything surely, except that I had to act when I saw that little girls face.

It has always been that way for me. I am the first to go tearing down the block in my ruby red slippers to fight injustice for others, especially children. Deep down I always wanted someone to do that for me. Deep down I longed for a Cowardly Lion, or, better yet, a not so Cowardly Lion to stand up for me. Deep down I really wanted to be loved, but life left me feeling that I wasn’t worthy.

During that same show, The Wiz, my 15th year, I fell in love for the first time. It was everything you read about, fireworks and all. We held hands. We snuck kisses in the doorway. We wrote love notes and pasted them on each other’s doors. You get picture. It  was like a movie. Well, it was more like the length of a movie. Within 6 weeks my beloved was flaunting a secondary relationship with a girl who sang in the chorus. And I do mean flaunting. As if I meant nothing. And that is exactly how I felt, like I was nothing.  Like this was final proof of that fact. I can still feel the pain in my gut, the one that had me rolling on my attic floor crying out with raw desperation. But I stayed around and took whatever he tossed my way, off and on… for years.

This evolution really wasn’t surprising. My entire elementary and High School experience, up until that relationship, had been disastrous, from a budding love stand point. As the only black child in an all white catholic school I was an outsider. When my classmates went through normal crushes, first boyfriends and the like, I was never on anyone’s “best” list. Not even on the “if I was the only girl on a deserted island” go to list. Worse yet, they weren’t shy about letting me know where I stood, which was at the bottom of the elementary school social hierarchy heap. I was ugly and undesirable. That’s what they wanted me to know. And I sure got the message. So when I found love at age 15 I was so thankful. I thought for a moment that all of the other years were just an anomaly. But then reality set in, in the form of a chorus girl, and I had to concede to my true status label, “Undesirable”. (Well undesirable as a girlfriend. As a sexual dalliance, that was a different story. Overtures were often made in dark closets, but never in the light of day.)

Yet despite all of that my senior year a great miracle happened, the most popular boy in my class asked me out. I thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t. And thus I was off again, falling head over heals in love. This was very fairytale like. So melodious. It helped that he was a musician. We were a great artistic pairing. From the stage to the prom. Magical. But then my brother died, and we graduated High School, and I got pneumonia, and he turned to drugs and then… he turned to other girls, and away from me. Once again I was the undesirable one. Oh, but I hung in there, just as I had before. Simply thankful for scraps, because I dreaded being completely alone. It took all of my strength to break away from that entanglement years later. I was so terrified. I relapsed many times. But after several more instances of humiliation I finally stayed down. Less playing dead than actually feeling dead, inside. I was 21 years old

Fast forward to less than a year later, Los Angles, post college. I’m at a German pub, listening to jazz music, feeling a little free. In walks the next, and longest chapter of my life. His first words, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”. His next line, “Can I get your number before the girl I’m waiting for arrives?”. Looking back now I can see all of the warning signs. As if watching a movie, I yell at the screen, “don’t go with him!”. But alas, there’s no editing these frames. I walked into his apartment and into my future of my own free will. Well, except for the being damaged goods part, and thus not really possessing a complete understanding of my own self worth, free will.

The thing is, he never lied to me. (Well, not about who and what he was, just about pesky details.) Very early in our relationship he told me that all men are dogs; some are strays, and some are house pets. He forgot one category, the “some are housepets who sneak out to work the streets like a carefree stray before coming back to exploit the creature comforts of a home” category. But he never lied to me. That’s something he keeps reminding me of. (Or taunting me with, I can’t tell the difference.) He says I am the one who lied, because I said that I was okay with all of “this”. That I encouraged him. That I said I understood. He does have a point. I did say things to that effect when faced with untenable situations involving his exploits. I was so afraid to lose him that I was willing to sacrifice myself under a bus filled with other women.

As promised, (or threatened), I’m not going to get into gory details. But the cliff notes version is that not only have I suffered from his sexual addiction, but from his psychological manipulation as well. He was a master at making me feel as though I was the root of his evil. That it was all my fault. If I would just talk differently, dress differently, eat differently, and of course, the big one, weigh less, then life would be different. And I was hooked. Line and sinker. It was my fault. I was the problem. Loving me was a chore. I was lucky that even the likes of him would take on the job.

My entire adult life I have worked to empower women, children, families, to see beauty and potential in themselves and never underestimate their own self-worth. I have championed causes and protected interests, for everyone, but myself. And that’s how I lived. Bold and full of smiles in the public eye, belittled and depressed in private. Until…until the secret wasn’t a secret any longer. My husband’s proclivities and sense of entitlement tripped him up, and he was unmasked… to my children.

Here, 35 years later, I had arrived at the mountaintop of my abuse. I was at home in my shame and degradation. I was at the end of the path that I began walking at age 4. Yes, that’s pretty dramatic. But the truth is it is/was that dramatic. My life was turned upside down and shaken out all over the living room rug. Everything I thought I knew about myself, and what I was made of, was totally dismantled when I looked into my children’s eyes and saw pity. Pity, disrespect, shame, and sadness. I thought that I had protected them. I thought I did what was in their best interest by staying in a marriage that wasn’t healthy for me, but gave them two parents. I thought I was being a good mother. But I wasn’t…any of that. I failed. I failed them, and I definitely failed myself. Worse, I failed that little 4 year old in the closet who didn’t deserve the script she was handed in the first place.

What I have come to realize is that if I am truly going to be a good mother then I must be good to myself. It is just as important that my children see me loved and respected as anything else that I model for them. Because my relationship choices will imprint on them, whether either of us like it or not. I don’t ever want them to walk a path anywhere near the one that I walked from age 4 to 39. I’d just as soon give up my life. NO, to be the kind of parent that I always wanted to be now means that I may have to be a single parent, at least in household. (That is as soon as we can get out from under these medical and housing bills. But that’s a different discussion.) My husband is not a monster. He shouldn’t be pierced with a stick, or flogged in the town square. He’s a flawed man, like so many others…Tiger…just sayin’.  (People are inherently flawed. The real question is are they human beings with flaws, or is their being the sum of their flaws. That’s something you have to decide on a case by case basis. It’s a very personal decision and it’s not the same for everyone.) My husband’s an addict. But he’s my children’s father and that counts, for a lot. However, I have to stand up for myself, and stay strong and true to this new path, no matter how dark and scary it may appear. For the truth is, this path carries more light than any other path that I have walked previously.

The moral of this story… well I think there are probably a few. But the main one for me is that I matter, but I can only matter to the World if I matter to myself, and that matters to my children, so I have to take matters into my own hands, as a matter of fact.

I want a second chance. More than that, I really think I deserve one. I want to find love, give love, and most importantly, receive love. Truly, madly, deeply. No more swallowing pain. No more shouldering all of the burdens. This time I want a co-pilot, not a passenger. (I’m not Driving Miss Daisy.) But there’s no magic wand here. This is real life. And real life can be messy and complicated. So, at the moment I am up in the air, waiting for circumstances to change so I can land my feet firmly on the ground. But hey, that’s a lot better than being underground in a rabbit hole dug with secrets. And I will keep flapping my wings, with my face to the sun, for as long as it takes to find a rainbow, my own rainbow, to rest on. Because it’s time to let that four year old little girl out of the closet, and into life.

Important side note. I tell my children that though I am on this journey of self discovery and healing, I don’t regret my life. The reason being, if I hadn’t walked the path that I walked I wouldn’t be the person that I am today, and I kind of like who I have grown to be. I not only like me, I am really proud of me.  But most importantly, If I hadn’t married my husband I wouldn’t be the mother to my three glorious children, and I would never do anything to change that.  I would suffer several lifetimes over if need be as long as I get to be their mother. It’s totally worth it
.

Comments

21 Responses to “How I married a sex addict, and other symptoms of swine flu”
  1. CandiceBP says:

    Wow, Lori. Thank you for sharing this. I don’t doubt that many, many other women are in your situation and will benefit from your bravery in sharing your story.

    I find it interesting that you refer to your husband as the longest chapter in your life. Write those chapters yourself! Don’t let him be a chapter. You should be at the center of each chapter of your own life – own it, drive it. It’s yours and no one can take it from you.

    Bravo on this brave step to owning your story, your life, yourself. Thank you again for sharing this.

  2. lissa10279 says:

    Lori, I echo Candice’s words … thank you for sharing this story. It was very brave of you to share it here, and I bet a lot of women can relate. All too often we hear about women sitting back and letting their lives happen — you’re39 now and taking full control of your life — more power to you!!! Best wishes to you, friend.

  3. love2eatinpa says:

    wow, lori, i give you so much credit for telling your story. so many women went/go through what you did and don’t have the wherewithal to try to stop the cycle. i’m sure it felt great to get it off your chest. so many women can benefit from your courage. bravo! it will only get better from here.

  4. C says:

    I agree with Lissa, *you* create the story of your life, and with luck, one day all of that will be the background story and nothing more. Bravo to you for surviving and thriving. And although I’m so sad to hear your story, It’s somehow heartening to hear that other come through such hard stuff as well. I’ve had hard times in the last few years, but I see now that mine pale in comparison.

    Do you have a separate blog for your story? You should. It’s helped me “process” stuff… It’s a great outlet, and I’m sure many of us would love to follow your progress and support you!!

  5. C says:

    This line: “I did say things to that effect when faced with untenable situations involving his exploits. I was so afraid to lose him that I was willing to sacrifice myself under a bus filled with other women.”

    I SO identify with that! I stayed with my husband for almost a year while he slept with my “friend” the whole time…. I “agreed’ because of fear and heartbreak. I compromised so much… it took a lot of strength to leave. In fact, I sometimes *still* have a hard time going on without him. But what choice did I have, honestly?

  6. mamaV says:

    Hi Lori: What a brave, and couragous woman you are.

    You need to sit back, take a deep, deep breath, and give yourself a huge hug. This hug represents all the outpouring of support you will undoubtedly receive after letting your secrets out in such an open forum.

    You have not failed your children. I want you to really, really absorb this; as parents, everyday we love them in the way we know how, sometimes its a mistake, and when it is we are honest about it, and they get it, they respect it. I think you will find you come out of this even closer to your children.

    They are watching go through this transformation, and they will see you become the person you were always meant to be. Now this history is becoming part of who they are, and your job is to pull the positives out of it…which you undoubtedly will.

    SMILE ON is your trademark motto and with this post you show how you live this, you persevere, you face the facts, and then you pick yourself up off the floor and keep moving.

    My heart is with you as you go through this process, and I am so proud to call you my friend.
    Love,
    mamaV

    • Nikki says:

      I second Heather– you are NOT a failure. If you truly love your children, you can’t fail them. We are all going to make mistakes at some point, that is why we have compassion and the ability to forgive and help each other.

      Loving someone is not about making excuses for them and it is not turning a blind eye. It is about encouraging them and supporting them so they are strong enough to make better choices. If someone else is not ready or willing to make better choices, you have to put the love you have for yourself first.

  7. 1noelle says:

    Lori,
    You now have a very expansive, intelligent, compassionate and empowering group here to give you all the love and support you need as you begin the new chapters of your life.
    I am so honored you shared your story. Do you know you have demonstrated the power of love….love of your children and love of yourself? Truely amazing!
    I wish you all the best, hope you will share your adventure as this will be a very exciting time for you but also a great learning lesson for those who need to follow in your path.

    XO

  8. Carla says:

    Oh Friend I read this as I get ready to board a plane for home and wish you were here so I could give you a hug in person. A hug of admiration. A show of support. A display of how freaking proud I am if you for stepping into the lite and reclaiming your life.

    You deserve this and letting your children watch you stretch and grow is the greatest gift you could give them.

    Love,

    Carla

  9. Nikki says:

    Re: the idea that your husband would be more attracted to you if you were thinner, I want to say #1 I saw the pictures of you in your last post, and you are very attractive and I know men who would be extremely attracted to you. #2 People who would fall out of love if their partner gained weight are not really in love. There are about a thousand different ways a person could become physically disfigured (car accident, chemical burns, chemotherapy, etc.). The outside is temporary. It really is the inside that counts.

    THIS (with sarcasm): “Loving me was a chore.” There is the problem. You shouldn’t have to spend all your time convincing your partner of your greatness. It’s not worth it.

    Lastly I wanted to recommend “Calling In the One” by Katherine Woodward Thomas. It is a book about dating, but it is NOT “The Rules” or anything like that. It is a series of journal activities, art projects, meditations, etc. that encourage you to find your own greatness and be your best self. It is changing my life.

    Take care. 🙂

  10. .C. says:

    The “C” above is different from me, obviously. Anyway, congratulations to you, Miss Lori, for getting out a story you’ve wanted to share. Are you working through divorce proceedings with your husband, or are you two going to stay together? I just wanted to tell you that my parents divorced when I was about 13. I wanted them to split up; things were horrible. When they finally did I was so happy and things were so much better. I’ve never wished it were otherwise. All I’m saying is, don’t worry so much about damaging your kids from single parenthood – I sustained a lot more damage from my mother trying to keep our family together for us, despite her best intentions. When she took us and left, it was wonderful. Best of luck to you.

    .C.

  11. MissLori says:

    It was very hard getting to the point of publishing this post. I started it in October of 2009 actually. But the only way I can make sense of things is by talking about it. Social Media has given me so much comfort in recent times. I know that I would never have the strength necessary to deal with my daughters’ ongoing medical issues without my Facebook friends. Dealing with this particular journey, and all of the inherent bumps and bruises that come with it, has been even more painful these many months because I didn’t feel free to share it with my community. Bottom line is that the pain of this experience feels more tolerable if I know that by my going through it I may help someone else heal faster, or skip the path altogether. That’s why I had to write it.

    I want to be sure to state clearly that I in no way wrote this to get back at, or hurt my husband. Though he is a part of this story, it’s not about him. He has his own difficult journey to travel, and I hope that he is successful in traveling it, for his and all of our sakes. I continue to support him in those efforts, regardless of our marital status, because that is my job as my children’s mother, and I believe it is the right thing to do. Anger takes too much energy away from life.

    Thank you form the bottom of my heart for your support, encouragement and lovng thoughts.

    SMILE On!

    ML

    • mamaV says:

      Hi again Lori: I thought you would want to know, that when I read this it did not even enter my mind that you were anyway trying to “get back” at your husband, nor blaming him (in truth, I thought you were gentle on him).

      You are, and always will be a class act Miss Lori.

      A person to look up to and admire, with this crazy baggage and all! It makes you all the more real, and there is no doubt there are many, many women who will be helped by you having the courage to tell your story.

      I hope that you will continue to write about this journey, if and when the urge strikes you, because you have a bundle of support here.
      Love,
      mV

  12. sIM'One says:

    ADD moment while reading: Wow! a black Dorothy in a school play makes me so happy!

  13. mrasherkade says:

    I bet that was tough to write. I have had similiar experiences. You are one brave woman to share this with the world. A very good friend of mine always tells me that we are like trees. If God didn’t have the srong winds blowing the trees everywhere, their roots wouldn’t be strong, and they’d eventually succumb to death. Wind is like the adverserial things in our life.

  14. LBC says:

    Lori – I’d call it a courageous call to freedom. And, having “been there, done that” I want to tell you that your goals and hopes and dreams are very realistic. You can be loved in the way you so richly deserve, and be able to love back. Long journey, single step, all that……well worth it for you and your kids. Brava!

  15. MissLori says:

    You may or may not have noticed that this post was down for several hours today. I switched it to private to collect my thoughts. What I realized during that time is that I still have a long way to go.

    You see, I got a serious peach it in my stomach and questioned my very motives for writing this post all because of an email I received early this morning. An email filled with double talk that put me right back where I have been all these years, believing that I am the sole source of my problems, and the catalyst for wrong doings. It left me dizzy, and sick to my stomach. Especially because I wasn’t able to be alone with my thoughts to process it, as I was in the presence of my children. But perhaps that was the best thing for me, because looking at them, laughing with them, holding them, helped to remind me of why I made this bold step in the first place. Because they deserve a brighter future. They won’t get that if things continue as they have.

    I didn’t write this essay, as it has been suggested, to get a phone call from Dr Phil inviting me to purge my demons on air. In fact in writing this I didn’t treat it as I do with all of my other articles; tweeting about it, posting it to my facebook page, and listing it with blog aggregators. I didn’t because that wasn’t what this was about. This is about helping people who are looking for another story to make sense of their own, and about taking a stand and actively helping myself be better. I published it on this blogsite because that is what we are all about here, the naked truth in pursuit of greater understanding, healing and better living.

    So I thank all of you who have taken the time to not only read my story, but to share your supportive thoughts with me. You are helping me stand strong. And I need it. But then again don’t we all now and then. We weren’t meant to walk this earth alone, we were meant to do so as communities. We are a pack race. And personally I am very proud to walk with the We Are The Real Deal pack.

    SMILE On!

    ML

    • Somebody's Mother says:

      When I read your initial post, I didn’t have time to comment. I relate in many ways to the journey you are on. Details of my story are different, of course but the feelings about myself are so similar. I am excited and and worried for you at the same time. You are at a turning point in life that I was in a few years ago. That gloriously terrifying moment when you finally say ‘enough’. How you feel about yourself is infinitely more important than how others feel about you. There were times, for me, when the journey was lonely and seemed futile. So many times when I thought ‘maybe everybody is right, this is all my fault, I deserve to be treated this way.’ Through fits and starts and pain and loss of friends I got to a place where (most days) I know that I deserve a good and happy life. And, I know that I know me, my thoughts, feelings, and motivations better than anyone else. When people presume to tell you what your motivation is in all of this, just show them your palm and tell them they can ‘talk to the hand’. Their need to do this is their issue, and really doesn’t have anything to do with you. Hang in there and stick with those of us who have your back. Because not only do your kids deserve a brighter future, you do too. What is possible for your life is so worth the struggles of this moment.

  16. Wendy says:

    Lori, kudos to you and your bravery in posting this post and allowing such a personal and frightening chain of events to be open to anyone passing by here.

    I wish you continues strength and growth.

    Blessings

  17. gabrielle says:

    Lori, you are so brave and courageous for sharing your story-thank you. I don’t think you yet realize how much this post will help other women in your situation (in fact, I have a former client that I want to forward this to). I especially loved when you said, ” But the main lesson for me is that I matter, but I can only matter to the World if I matter to myself.” That is such wisdom. And the realization of this IS the beginning of your second chance.

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  1. […] As for me, I’m fighting. I really am. Some days I feel like I’m fighting in slow motion, but I still fight. I didn’t come by this dark sense of self over night, or yesterday for that matter. This was a long and slow build, and I had a lot of help. I first wrote about how I developed this inner darkness two years ago on the We are The Real Deal site. From my sexual abuse as a child,  to my choices of romantic-or not so romantic-partners. I wrote: My entire adult life I have worked to empower women, children, families, to see beauty and potential… […]



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