BETRAYAL TRAUMA AND MY TRIGGERS
I was never one of those uptight, prudish type of women. Porn didn't make me cringe. I never minded the little sexual talk in the break room at the job even though that's officially against the rules. I have a good sense of humor, sometimes not a very politically correct sense of humor, but a sense of humor none-the-less. I’ve even known myself to consume some pornography over the years. Reading the stories hidden inside the pages of their subscriptions of Playboys that conveniently lived in the restroom; hidden, buried deep inside of the magazine rack. Out of sight. Keeping the secret. Yes I have morals and standards, yet I never really had issues with the Playboy subscription in the bottom nightstand bureau drawer of my dad's, or with my ex, the girl's father. So truly it blew my mind how I reacted after I discovered Nick's habit. The emotional instability and true deception that I felt after the discovery of his pornography use totally caught me off guard. I mean the first time I caught him, I really did believe it must have been all my fault. I was closing in on my 9th month of pregnancy with our son. I know I didn't feel very attractive at that moment. My first glimpse into the addiction of pornography was getting ready to smack me straight in the face. Picture how stunned I found myself. I wake up after barely getting in bed for the evening. I walk upstairs and down the hall towards the restroom. It was late. Probably close to midnight. He wasn't in bed yet as that was the norm. Typical, exhausted, pregnant mom; working a full time job. I was notorious for going to bed before him while he stayed up supposedly playing video games on his phone. I heard the water in the shower running as I approached the bathroom door. Being a pregnant female and hearing the sound of the running water it hit me right in the bladder. I needed to get in that restroom and I needed to get in there quick. Without even knocking, as that is how open our relationship has always been, I open the door. Bam! What is this? Here he was, not even an hour after we finished making love, and I find him watching pornography on his phone while pleasuring himself. My jaw dropped and I instantly shut the door and went to the dining room, sitting and replaying in my mind what I just encountered. I was shook! I couldn't understand it. We had a very healthy sexual relationship. Even at this stage of my pregnancy we were intimate multiple times a week, never lacking a desire to take care of each other's needs. My mind was racing; I felt that I wasn't truly satisfying him the way I had in the past. I was so completely embarrassed and feeling like I wasn't good enough in my skin. I mean I looked in the mirror everyday and I realized how different my body looked so maybe, maybe it really was my fault... I was just overreacting. You can ask anyone and they will tell you that it is completely natural. ALL MEN do it! I mean it was just an image it's not like he was really with somebody. But my heart and my mind didn't care. Physically or virtually, it wounded me deeply. At that time I did nothing but try to move past this. I didn't have time to let this get me down so I stuffed it burying it deep inside of me. It was such a happy time in our lives. We were getting close to having our baby and would be bringing him home to our newly remodeled home after suffering a house fire. I was so looking forward to us bonding as parents together. This was his first child and it was such an exciting time. Seeing him with our son after he was born and the pure joy and pride radiating from his face is something no no one can ever take from me. And then there was my beautiful girls. They were completely in love with their new baby brother. I will always cherish that day. The fast, furious, and completely unmedicated delivery of our beautiful son. My daughters so scared yet immensely excited; pacing right outside of the door anxiously awaiting his arrival. I'll never forget the expression on the nurse's face when she realized she was going to have to deliver this baby as the doctor had yet to arrive. It was just a whirlwind of emotions that day. My oxytocin and dopamine were peaking at max capacity. I loved everyone! For awhile that was good enough. I blocked that devastating night of discovery from my mind. For a few weeks it appeared that maybe everything was going to be alright. Maybe it really wasn't that big of a deal— or maybe I was in denial and it was. Was the high of having a new baby in our home deceiving my inner thoughts? I'm sure my hormone fluctuations during the pregnancy hindered me really evaluating the depth of my feelings upon discovery. Feeling overly emotional over the unearthing of his pornography use. I mean we were soul mates. Surely it was just a one off and wouldn't happen again. Life progressed and it was getting close to being time for me to return to work from my maternity leave. One evening he'd handed me his phone to show me something on it and in the process of me backing out of the screen I was on, I touched a different button that showed all of the current apps running in the background. On one of the screens was a very tan, thin naked girl with long blond hair doing God only knows what because I instantly just lost it. I mean you can't get more opposite than what I am. Devastated once again, yet having to try to stifle my true emotions at that moment as his father was here from out of town. I'm really good at keeping blinders on if someone's doing something that I don't approve of and hurts me. I've never really been big on confrontation, but now here I was being confronted by pornography once again. I had learned to doubt and silence my intuition. My feelings, my intuition always dismissed; I was making a mountain out of a molehill feelings of that I stuffed deep down inside of me. I was building walls around myself that I wasn't even aware I was doing. One foot in front of the other. Keep going! Keep climbing! So many tasks on my list of things to do before I go back to work. I had to find, interview, and actually feel comfortable with a daycare provider for our sweet new baby. I must color my hair because, God forbid I return to work with any silver showing. Must convince my breastfed baby to take a bottle. Must figure out how I'm going to comfortably pump to sustain my infant while working a high-stress position at my company. Be strong. Be the best mom I can be. Be the best daughter I can be to my handicapped mother. Be the best employee I can be while trying to compensate for the fact that I had just been off for 7 weeks. The pressure of being a working mother is all too real. My mind was truly sucked into my newborn baby that I was away from. I got this. I am strong! Or do I? I was trying not to be emotionally and sexually devastated by this discovery of Nick's porn consumption. I must not let anybody know that my human in this world looks at pornography more than I'm willing to admit. I must not let anybody know that I have an issue with this. How had I turned into this prude? This angry, bitter woman who is losing her sexual desire completely. I was trying to pretend like I wasn't broken. I'm super mom— I can do it all. But my presence in this world proved otherwise. Negativity was getting the best of me, persistently showing its ugly head through my denial. Time went on and as it progressed we both pretended like everything was alright. And for some time it was working. Denial is an amazing force if you embrace it with open arms. What I didn't realize at that time is how much it was all changing me. My once happy go lucky everyday positive attitude that I carried with me at my job was gone. My brightness and my positivity was dimming. I was having a hard time concentrating. I was having a hard time producing enough milk for my baby boy that I was having to supplement with formula. That also caused me to be pretty down on myself. I was just going through the motions of daily life, never feeling like enough in many ways. I'll never forget one day my favorite co-worker Mary looking at me straight in the face and asking What in the hell is going on with you? and me of course trying to play it off like I was just tired. The baby isn't letting me get enough sleep at night. I replied back with confidence. You know I had a perfect excuse. I certainly couldn't tell my truth. I was scarred. None of this was alright for me. I was trying to bury all of it deeply down inside of me. I couldn't handle the shame. The embarrassment. The shame of not being good enough; not pretty enough, thin enough, blonde enough, young enough, or even dirty enough. Deep into my core I was hoping to never endure this pain again. Hoping that he could surely feel and see the pain I felt from it. Praying that I could be good enough. I now questioned everything. I felt triggered by everything. I doubted so much more and looked over my shoulder constantly. What is he doing on his phone? Did he just back out of a screen? Why isn’t he in bed? Has he been in the bathroom a little too long? Does this dirty sock seem extra crusty? The questions in my mind did not stop. Triggers were everywhere. We couldn't sit together and watch a movie anymore as my anxiety wouldn't allow it. When we went out in public my mind raced with so many questions: was he looking at all these women? TVs programs, commercials, social media, guys at work showing off their newest image finds on their phones. I was in constant cringe mode thinking of all the ways that sexual content was on display for him twenty-four hours a day. It was always at his fingertips or sitting in his pocket on a device that can take him to any fantasy he wanted. I had to run every situation through my head completely before I could leave the house to be involved in anything socially. This isn't normal. I had become the problem. It was my fault he had thisproblem that was devastating our love story. It's all me. I'm the problem! This is my fault! I would like to say that he saw how it was affecting me and changed his ways, but really he just spiraled out of control. Days turned into weeks and weeks changed into months, which quickly progressed into years. Here we were years down the road and we were still in this living Hell. We were working opposite schedules to help save money on daycare. He had way too much free time on his hands. Working weekend shift he had the amazing privilege of not even working 6 months out of a year. Three 12-hour days and getting paid for 40 he had a pretty sweet deal going on. And it was supposed to be an even better deal for our son to not have someone else raising him. It was supposed to be the answer. The best thing for our son and family, but in hindsight saving money did nothing for us but help us lose our loving connection. Our family bond was falling apart. I'd have no time to heal before there would be another discovery. They became a constant in my daily existence. I don't want to go into all the dirty details. I'm sure many of you can truly use your imagination. I was so wounded from this betrayal. I fell into a depression I refused to see. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks. I mean it even affected my menstrual cycle and my thyroid. From my personal experience I know for certain there's so much shame involved with it, not just for me but for both partners. The betrayer and the betrayed. Anytime I thought I could try to get over it there would be another abrupt discovery into that dark side of his world. It felt like a hard slap to my face, the wound constantly stinging from the blow. Finally it got to the point I couldn't take it anymore. I freaking lost it! Demanding him to get the hell out of my home. Telling him how much he disgusted me. Screaming at him that he was sick. Yelling at him that he didn't deserve us. Shaming him for all the shame he had caused me. Blaming him for my isolation and my loneliness. I felt like I hadn't been able to catch my breath in months— or was it years? My mind kept screaming “I can't breathe!” I had truly been telling him any time I caught him in the past that he should just leave yet every time he stayed. But not this time. He packed up his overnight bag hopped in his car and drove away into the darkness. Devastated, heartbroken, and did I mention I couldn’t breathe? I've had to hold my head high. Keeping our son from knowing what's going on. Not wanting to disclose to my daughters the reason for Nick's absence. How could I let them know how blind I had been? How stupid I had been for allowing this for as long as I had? For not having enough self worth and value to tolerate this for the amount of time I had. How can I expect them to be strong women following my example? Nothing like kicking him out of the house so he would have all the time in the world to hang out with the never-ending resource of videos and images in his pocket. Oh the joy of this “smart” and overly sexualized world we are living in. Please share with us your stories. What triggers you? How do you rebuild trust that has been lost? What steps do you take to create health boundaries and knock down the walls of bitterness in your own lives?