Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Candy Apples and PTSD

My sponsor has often said that recovery for a woman married to a sex addict takes 3 to 5 years.  It's a grim thing to hear when you're in the first 3 months or years, and I'm here to say that I feel like I'm finally getting there after 6 1/2 years.

My days are spent free from obsession, though not from fear.  But I now have the clarity to access a life where I take action to choose to NOT act on fear.  I own a lot of my own choices now, in a way I never thought possible before.  I have a new lease on life.

But guess what?
This new life, with it's new perspectives and insights and serenity, still isn't free from everything.  Last night, after a perfectly nice day and holiday, I was triggered.

By a candy apple.

What?!  Doesn't the sheer dumbness of it all make you mad?!  It makes me mad.

Triggers are those insane things that happen without warning!  They put your head at war with your heart, and emotions fly around as fast as your heart pumps!


I've been hard at work in the kitchen these days because I genuinely love cooking.  I go through these hobby patterns where I delve into something I love for weeks at a time and then leave it for something else.  I vacillate between cooking and crocheting and making sock monkeys, mostly.  I always write, that one never cycles out.

On Halloween, I made apple glazed pork chops with a side of the most delicious apple sauce.  I made homemade mashed potatoes to go alongside.  It was a feast!  And when I went to bed that night, the dishes were done.  It felt so good. These last few days, I've baked and cooked in my favorite Loretta Lynn apron that I bought right by her house in Hurricane Mills.  That's me on the porch of her haunted mansion.  That Loretta is one tough cookie, and I gotta say: her spit fire got me outta bed on some of my darkest trauma days.
 I've watched Hope Floats while washing dishes, and most of all: I made 3 batches of caramel apples.
Not JUST caramel apples because I don't actually like caramel apples... but the caramel apples that are dunked in caramel and then white chocolate and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
I feel like I need to quote Jason from Studio C right here, "We just made diabetes land!"

These apples are so diabolical that they leave our home VOID of charity.

I gave a few away to visiting teaching ladies (sorry I missed you this month, but here's something better than a visit.  Don't share it), and I gave a few to my parents.

I was looking forward to eating my last one last night, and Danny ended up eating more than his fair share and I had to share mine.

It isn't a huge deal.  Mildly irritating?  Eh.
But anger hit hard.

I could hear a chorus of my counselors' voices, "Anger is a secondary emotion."

I wasn't actually mad.  I was scared.

Taking more than his fair share of THE apples was a TAKEY thing to do!  After I've given SO MUCH.  I've given pork chops and apple sauce AND APPLES!  What's more?  I've made apple syrup and apple pancakes and APPLE CIDER!  I've bought bacon which is a real treat when you've only got so much money but you've got so many kids and food goes in mouths as fast as it goes in fridges.
I've made delicious dinners over and over and over.  My hands are cracked from washing dishes as the weather dries and cools (who needs a dishwasher when you are one? that's what my dad says anyway...) and all I wanted was to enjoy my addicting annual caramel apple.
My last one, anyway.

And I couldn't.

There's been an unhealthy history in our marriage of me giving, giving, giving and Danny taking.  I wasn't setting healthy boundaries.  I wasn't even giving from a loving place.  I was hoping my giving would eventually end his addiction, or at least manipulating him in SEEING ME.
It didn't work, of course, because real life doesn't work like that.

That way of life was hell on earth, and any hint of it in this new life scares me to pieces.

I didn't want to talk to Danny about it.  I just went inside of myself and isolated.  When the kids went to bed, I opened up and told Danny that I was mad.  I told him why.  And I told him trauma was at work.
Over an apple.

I told him I knew in my mind my anger was disproportionate, and that's what trauma looks like.  It doesn't make me stupid for "overreacting."  It distorts my reality and messes with my head in a way that feel *almost* irretrievable.
I used to feel shame for that.  I think I still do feel some shame for it.
The shame makes it exponentially worse because I begin hating on myself for exhibiting trauma -it makes feel like some kind of crazy freak and WHO ACCEPTS CRAZY FREAKS?!?!

No one, right?
Jesus does.

And the trigger isn't true.  I don't live a life where I only ever give, and Danny doesn't only ever take.  In fact, when I was isolating, he was putting soap in the bathroom soap dispenser and finishing up the dishes so I wouldn't have to.  He was hanging up my wet laundry and picking up the bathroom.

But even if he wasn't, I can rest in my own boundaries.  I can give as much as feel healthy.
I can make crazy amounts of dinners right now (and hopefully freeze some) and feel self love.  I can NOT make crazy amounts of dinners right now but make crazy amounts of sock monkeys while my family eats frozen dinners and Subway and feel self love.

The trauma is real though, folks.
And the very fact that a caramel apple can send me into a tail spin of fear is evidence of just how hellish the trauma is.  My entire being is terrified to go back to that place.

And for good reason, for good reason.

Today is a day for nurturing which means I'm back in the kitchen with my Loretta Lynn apron, making some granola and muffins and whatever else asks to be made.  It's a day to listen to what I need, to not let the trigger rule the day.
It's a new day, a new life.
And I'm feelin' good.


  1. I totally understand and I'm so proud that you were able to recognize it and that Danny didn't diminish your reaction (at least, I hope he didn't). Love you!

  2. Beautiful. That's empathy. Glad you two were able to navigate trauma without him going into pity mode and you having to suffer in silence