Pathway to Recovery

Q&A - Discovery Day - How did you cope in the first 24 hours?

July 25, 2023 S.A. Lifeline Foundation Season 1 Episode 13
Q&A - Discovery Day - How did you cope in the first 24 hours?
Pathway to Recovery
More Info
Pathway to Recovery
Q&A - Discovery Day - How did you cope in the first 24 hours?
Jul 25, 2023 Season 1 Episode 13
S.A. Lifeline Foundation

Send us a Text Message.

Tara has a conversation with Heather B and Justin B, a married couple who are living in long-term recovery from sexual addiction.  The conversation goes into Heather's experience with "Discovery Day" and Justin's perspective of it.  They discuss the miracle that happens when God is put at the center of the spouse, even if and when the addicted spouse is not actively working recovery.

To register for the SA Lifeline Conference that is coming up on September 9, 2023, please click here.

Support the Show.

SA Lifeline Foundation
SAL 12 Step
Find an SAL12Step Meeting
Donate
Contact to ask questions or make comments
Transcripts

Pathway to Recovery
Help us continue making great content for listeners everywhere.
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Tara has a conversation with Heather B and Justin B, a married couple who are living in long-term recovery from sexual addiction.  The conversation goes into Heather's experience with "Discovery Day" and Justin's perspective of it.  They discuss the miracle that happens when God is put at the center of the spouse, even if and when the addicted spouse is not actively working recovery.

To register for the SA Lifeline Conference that is coming up on September 9, 2023, please click here.

Support the Show.

SA Lifeline Foundation
SAL 12 Step
Find an SAL12Step Meeting
Donate
Contact to ask questions or make comments
Transcripts

Q&A - Discovery Day

Tara: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Pathway to Recovery podcast. I'm Tara McCausland, and happy to have here with me my co-host, Justin B. Welcome Justin. 

Justin: Thank you, Tara. Happy to be here. 

Tara: And we have a very special guest, Heather B, who happens to be Justin's wife. So glad you're here with us. Thanks for being here, Heather.

Heather: Thanks for having me. I'm excited. [00:01:00] 

Tara: As we were getting going, I said to Heather that it’s a treat to actually hear the other side of this. We get to hear a lot from Justin but there's always another side of the story when there is a marriage involved.

So today for our Q and A, we are going to discuss the question:  Discovery day, how does one cope after discovery? And, we often like to call this D-Day in the 12 step world. But right out the gate, Heather, what are your initial thoughts about Discovery Day for you and what were the next 24 hours like? How did you react?

Heather: So I guess a little background, we'd been married about 10 years. I was pregnant with my last child. And Justin came to me and told me about his addiction and that he'd been meeting with an ecclesiastical leader.

And so I knew something was wrong, something was off, but I didn't know what it was anyway. And so when he told me it was actually [00:02:00] 17 years ago on July 3rd, I still remember the day. I had lots of anger and it went straight to the enemy, as I refer to in my religious beliefs and my spirituality, and that the enemy was trying to destroy my family.

I grew up in a very dysfunctional home and a very broken home and felt like he was trying to destroy what I had just created with my own family. Because I really worked hard to try to create a different family for my family. And so I was really angry at him and angry at my husband, but for whatever reason, more of the anger just reared towards the enemy.

I can't explain it. That's just how it happened. And so the next 24 hours, a lot of crying. Again, I was pregnant, so that probably flowed really easily. Lots of prayer. I found myself in my closet a lot [00:03:00] praying. Just kind of putting my kids, like, to get them settled. I had three other kids and a baby. And so I would just get them settled and then I'd just go back in my closet and cry and just talk to God and just beg to know what to do next. Because I really just didn't know what to do. I was at a loss and it was a surprise, but it also made sense. Like all these things that had happened in our marriage and just suddenly made sense too .

So it was a weird mix of emotion in those first 24 hours. I will say God answered those prayers. In the first 24, I bizarrely enough, had a friend just show up randomly at my house. She had moved out of our city limits a little bit, so she was far away. So she just randomly showed up and she came to my house and she could tell something was wrong.

I was really trying to hold it in. And she finally just asked me, “What is going on?” And you know I really did feel like [00:04:00] God said tell her. And so I did. And it was so interesting because immediately she goes, “Oh, my brother, he struggles with the same thing.” And she just gave me a hug, started holding me and just, anyways, it was so what I needed.

I felt like that relieved [the situation] a little bit just to have one other person know and just love me for that moment. So yeah, that was my first 24. 

Tara: Well, what I'm impressed by is that [your] anger could easily just all be directed toward Justin or toward even God, right? But, what I see as being remarkable in that is that rather than in that moment turning away from the God of your understanding, you turned toward him even more. And what do you feel gave you the bandwidth to do that rather than turning away? 

Heather: For me, I'd had some other experiences in life. Again, I came from a broken home.[00:05:00] I had been in some abusive relationships as a teenager and I had found many times a connection with God and just going to God during those times when I felt there was nowhere else to go. And so I think for me at that moment, I felt like there was no other place to go. I couldn't go to my parents. I knew if I went to my parents, it was going to be, “You need to leave him, you need to pack up.” I couldn't go to friends because suddenly I was going to have judgment. He was going to have judgment. I couldn't go to my in-laws. They had no idea. 

I just suddenly found myself completely and utterly alone. The only place I could go to was someone that had a greater power outside of me. And that was God. Now, that's not to say later, there were some times when I was like, “Oh, I totally deserve this because I was a horrible teenager and I had made horrible choices as a teen. You know, like there were some things [like that]. Of course I married an [00:06:00] addict because I'm worthless, and this is what I do. My picker's broken. I had those moments, I did have moments where I was angry at God, like, “Why didn't you tell me this? Why didn't I know this? I've been married for 10 years, how can I not know this?”

So I mean, not to say those things didn't come and the rollercoaster of emotions.  But I can say within the first 24, that is just immediately what the anger [was] that came out. I know everyone's is different, but for me, that was my experience and I just knew a higher power than me could fix this. Not anybody else. 

There was nobody that could fix this because I'd been married for 10 years and had no idea and obviously no one else knew. So God's the only one to go to at this point, I felt like. 

Tara: That makes sense. And everybody's reaction is going to be so unique. Right? But do you think you would've been brave enough to tell someone, had your friend not shown up [00:07:00] that day, like in a brief period of time? Would you have been brave enough to tell somebody? 

Heather: I don't think so. No, I think God put her there just in that moment to let me know I was not alone. That there were other people who had experience because in the moment, I felt completely and utterly alone like nobody else is married to a sex addict at this moment.

It just felt like I was the only one and I was the only one finding out that I'd married someone and I realized I didn’t know them. All these things were going through my head. But to have someone tell me, “Oh, my brother struggles with this. And I love my brother and I'm not judging your husband and it's not going to change my opinion of your husband.”

I mean, she even said that to me because that was my biggest fear. I don't know, it's the weirdest thing. You feel this judgment immediately, like I can't tell anyone because if I tell someone that I'm married to someone who does this, then I'm a horrible person too.

It's this weird thing that you take on and then worry. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, no one's ever going to let me babysit their kids. [00:08:00] If anyone ever finds out about these things.” But she was able to say to me, “I love you and I love your husband and just know you can get help.”

It was as if God was telling me, “Okay, it's going to be okay. There's a road ahead and there's stuff out there,” and He did. He just guided me. Those prayers were immediately answered. I feel like it was a slow road, but I felt like that immediate feeling was, “It's going to be okay now.”

When she left, I fell apart again. But it's that rollercoaster and it's totally normal. 

Tara: Justin, you're hanging out here with us quietly, but do you have any thoughts you want to share about your experience watching your wife go through that? What was going through your head at that point? 

Justin: I remember feeling a lot of fear, shame, wanting to fix it. I wanted to fix this. I'm a fixer. I want to fix this so that she feels better and she feels better today. I want it to be done [00:09:00] today and I'm going to change everything right now and make it all better.

And I honestly did try. I honestly did try to make everything better, to be better, to change totally. All over several more years before I ever set foot in a room of recovery. I kept trying harder and different, just to change things up.

Now Heather, and I'll let her tell this, but I want to say this: I am so grateful that she sought help and she had the courage to connect. And maybe it was because she felt all alone and she heard that there were others and could meet with them, and I'll let her tell that. But that has been a huge difference in my own recovery, even though I didn't take action on it for many years after that.

But it's such an example to me. But that's kind of my memory of it. I wanted to get in and fix it and make it alright and prove that, even though I've done all these [00:10:00] horrible things and I've not been honest, I'm going to fix it. 

Heather: Well, and one thing I do remember is that he was shocked that I was so angry, and that to me was shocking. I was like, “Wait, what? Because really, truly the enemy is so good at saying, “This addiction is only hurting you or isn't hurting you. It's not hurting anyone else. No one knows about it.”

It's a secret and such a hidden thing. I feel like sometimes, that drugs and alcohol addictions, when people have those addictions, it's a visual thing. So you can point to something and say, “See what this is doing to you? You're dying. You're sick.” With this addiction, it was, and it’s probably [the same] with gambling and other addictions, it's really hard to point to and say, “You're sick, there's something going on.”

And so when I was so angry and I told him I was angry. I said, “I'm angry at you, and I'm angry at the enemy right now.” And he was so [00:11:00] shocked, like, “Why are you angry?” I just remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, there's such a disconnect right now between us of this whole experience.”

That was the beginning of my learning of what addiction truly is and what it looks like and how the enemy is so good at helping addicts believe the lies they tell themselves.  

Justin: Yeah, Heather, thank you for reminding me of that. The disconnect in the addict brain is very real: “Hey, I'm only hurting myself,” or “I'm protecting somebody else by not divulging this.” That blank spot, that mental blank spot still exists. Just in the last couple of weeks, she and I had a thing where she said, “Hey, how do you make that connection happen? How, how does that even work in your head?”

It's not there. I don't even think about that. It doesn't cross my mind. And so I continue, years later, still sometimes step on her toes, sometimes hurt her without that thought of even,[00:12:00] “Is this going to hurt my wife?” I don't say this to justify it. It just doesn't connect. So it's okay. There's something broken in my head and only a power greater than myself can resolve that.

Tara: So maybe my final question is for other spouses of individuals who are addicts, what would you recommend if you were just talking to a woman who's just had her D-day? What would you tell her, what suggestions would you make to her as she's starting this rocky path? 

Heather: Probably the first thing I would say is, “You're not alone.” Just know that I know it's very lonely but you're not. I always encourage them to go to a meeting whether it's SAL (where I go currently and that's where I would encourage them to go) or Al-Anon, some kind of meeting. And prayer, [00:13:00] having honest prayer with their higher power, whoever that may be for them or whatever that may look like for them. But honest prayer is something that I have really come to connect with.

I used to feel like I had to say things in a certain way or God wasn't going to hear me or answer me, if I didn't give it in a certain formula. [Or by] only giving gratitude, and not complaining too much or asking for too much stuff. And if anything, in recovery I've learned that I could go to God and say, “I am so angry right now that I am married to an addict. I'm so angry that this is happening. I'm so sad. I'm mourning this. I don't know what to do with these emotions.” Totally have that conversation with God because He already knows that.

I bizarrely somehow thought, “Oh, I can hide all this from Him,” but He can take it and He will listen and answer and comfort and guid. Really truly just take it one day at a [00:14:00] time because it can be like a fire hose. Suddenly you get all this information, books, stuff to read.” 

That's what I'm always saying about prayer and going to meetings. Just keep praying and just keep going to meetings. Just go, just go. Just go. Just go until you start feeling comfortable and then do little baby steps -  get a sponsor maybe, or start reading the materials more or whatever, you know, just little baby steps. Because that was me. I just started going to meetings, just kept going and reading the material and praying and that was my beginning. So really just be patient with yourself, and give it time. 

Tara: Well, this has been so fun, to speak with the two of you together. Thank you so much to our listeners for being here. We're going to wrap up this Q and A. We'll see you next time. [00:15:00]