Obviously, everyone’s situation is different. We’re going to have different experiences and outcomes – one size does not fit all in this journey.
It’s important to have hope for the future, whether that looks like staying with your partner or finding your freedom and authentic self after exhausting all options.
For me, it’s felt like a long journey and, so far, worth all the time, effort, energy, and money invested.
My “D-Day” happened in December of 2020. My husband admitted he had a problem and started attending meetings. Unfortunately, he wasn’t serious, and I saw signs of him continuing to act out.
After 17+ years together, I’d had it. In July of 2021, I told him I was done – and I meant it. It was the first time I ever considered ending my marriage, but I wasn’t willing to put up with the dysfunction anymore. I initiated an in-house separation and told him to start considering alternative living arrangements for himself and his mother, as well as how we would divide up time with our son.
That was a catalyst for change for him (I didn’t know that it would be, and by that point I didn’t truly care). Though in his heart he wanted to change, I’ll be honest, it took time and a lot of outside help for him to learn new skills and, especially, learn how to deal with the toxic shame. It has been a process. The following months were neither smooth nor uneventful.
For him, going to an intensive in November helped a lot– that was where he began to unravel his shame and where the door to empathy for my pain cracked open a smidge. I know intensives aren’t an option for everyone, and not every man comes out changed, but we were lucky that it worked for us.
He had three slips in the two weeks after the intensive, and my initial hopes were dashed. But, we worked through that – until I almost kicked him out a week before Christmas because of another, very orange-y, yellow “circle behavior”. I was still being triggered very easily, because safety and trust had not been established yet.
I am grateful that we have had a very helpful counselor guiding us, and I have to give credit to my husband for continuing to try. Although he sometimes was defensive and resentful, every time he talked to his sponsor, his intensive buddies, or his counselor, he got feedback that helped him grow a little more.
For us, the Full Therapeutic Disclosure (FTD) weekend was a major turning point. We did it a little differently since his counselor is out of state. We crafted it like an intensive over two days, so it included a polygraph, him sharing his FTD, separate and combined counseling, then my impact letter, followed by more counseling.
For those who aren’t familiar, a Full Therapeutic Disclosure is the therapeutic process where the addict discloses his full sexual history to his partner, ideally in the presence of each person’s therapist.
Although this doesn’t work for everyone, it did for us. His counselor is very adept at creating safe spaces, so we both felt comfortable sharing. For me, being able to read my impact letter directly to him was huge. I needed to pour out those eleven pages of pain, grief, loss, frustration, and anger.
That weekend, my husband was able to show some vulnerability for the first time ever. The unburdening process changed him, for sure. He says he felt relief after the FTD.
We remained separated, but at that point I had real hope, so we kept an open mind. I watched and saw consistency in his words and actions. He followed up several weeks later with a restitution letter.
In May, I moved back into our bedroom, ending our separation. Since then, things have continued to improve and grow between us.
We are still in process – our relationship is healing, but has a long way to go. To be fully transparent, we are not having any kind of sex yet. That’s something that’s going to need more help, work, and time.
I found Bloom in December of 2021, and it has been a lifeline through this process. The validation and community have been crucial to me being able to navigate boundaries, triggers, slips, my own emotions, and so much more. Just being able to talk about this with other women who understand is powerful!
I have shared this very long message to give others some insight into my journey so far. 17 years of marriage this month. Most of it feeling bewildered, often lonely and frustrated, and then the betrayal of the D-Day discovery… The last 20 months have been a roller coaster for sure. And I am remaining hopeful that the growth will continue. At least I feel confident that I can handle what may come, whether my husband maintains his recovery or not. For that, I can thank Sherri (my Bloom coach), you ladies, and Bloom.
My hope is that sharing my story would give you hope.. You are not alone. Whatever your journey, stick to your truth. Honor yourself and your worth. You, too, can have hope that you will find your strength in this messy process. Whatever the outcome.
Written by DH, a Bloom community member. If you are in need of resources and support, click here to learn more about our Bloom Guided program and connect with other women who are on a journey towards healing from betrayal trauma.