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Supporting WH in crisis

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bytheboard posted 1/19/2014 08:58 AM

I am going to do my best not to be all over the place with this post. Dday one was about a year and four months ago. Much trickle truth to follow. I have always been of the mind that infidelity was an absolute deal breaker so it feels very strange and surreal to say that we have survived this far. I reacted quickly, got in therapy set boundaries including treatment plans for his very clear cut sexual addiction and had a post nup completed as a condition of R. Then I decided to give it one year to see what happened and how he would handle the chance to R. The first six months gave me no hope. Then he shifted. It seemed that he truly began to grasp at recovery. He became very active in his SA television step meetings and regularly attended IC and MC. R began to pick up steam.

At that point, I had set aside many of my hard questions surrounding the whys of the acting out and the ways that he was able to devalue me and our family in order to pursue his addiction. I was waiting for him to get healthy enough and get a handle on simply getting out of his addiction which had lasted the entirety of his life time first. I was also working on getting centered myself again after the huge blow that all of this had struck me with. It had hooked all of my trauma of being a sexual abuse survivor and I needed to stabilize to.

Around the one year mark, I truly felt that it was time we pushed forward to answer some of the hard questions. And right then, the bottom fell out for my husband. His mother died very suddenly and unexpectedly. This was compounded as he was just waking up to the fact that he had isolated from his family for YEARS in order to continue in his addiction without scrutiny or interference. He hadn't seen her in person for over four years and had minimum phone contact. Just before she had died, he began talking to her more and she expressed her pride in his recovery work as his father had been a serial adulterer and suspected sex addict and she carried those scars with her for her entire life. It was heartbreaking to witness his pain.

I supported him through the funeral and going through her things. I supported him while he sifted through his child hood home that was falling to he ground. I supported him while our baby was running around his mom's house and he was grieving that she never got to meet him in person. I did my best to help him shoulder the grief.

At the same time, his 22 year old son who has lived with us and suffers from mental illness really took a turn for the worse. He had been hospitalized three times in the two months before his grandmother's passing and his aggressive and frightening behavior at home ws reaching a breaking point. When we returned from grandmother's funeral, step son was hospitalized again for self injury. When released he had daily outpatient treatment at our home but still got worse. December 18 he took all of his psychiatric meds at the same time. He went into a seizure and my WH and I were trying to keep him alive until the paramedics got there. All four of our younger children, 11,9,6 and 18 months. Witnessed all of this. Step son had blood and foam coming out of his mouth and grand mal seizure for 5 minutes straight. He was on a ventilator for 2 days but survived. He was in a psych ward for 10 days and during that time, he said many unsettling things including that he fantasizes about stabbing his dad in the throat and said " we were afraid he would slit the kids throats in their sleep" and then do the same to us.

We had to make the decision that it was unsafe for him to come home. We got him in a shelter that manages mental illness. I was on the phone supporting step son every day all day. January 9 I went to visit him and bring him paperwork he needed. I talked to him 45 minutes before I got there and he was fine. When I arrived, he had overdosed again. I called 911. He was once again on a ventilator in ICU and very nearly died. He is now back in the psych ward. Step son has made it very clear that he blames his father's acting out, addiction and ultimate abandonment of his mother who died four years later as the reason that he "is the way he is". My WH is suffering under an enormous amount of guilt and regret and torn between keeping younger children safe and trying to meet the needs of his adult son.

I have been working my ass off trying to help him accomplish this goal. I feel great empathy for my WH. I can't imagine what it must be like to wake up and realize the devastation you have caused so many. I imagine that it all feels entirely overwhelming. I can feel the enormity of the loss he is trying to cope with. I said vows for better or for worse and I am now here during the worst.

Still, I am struggling with my own wounds. January 1 and January 17 are the antiversaries of him cheating on me with women he met on Craigslist. The pain is overwhelming. The mind movies are almost intolerable. I have been in crisis mode trying to help him for 3 months and I haven't thought much on my own reality. Now I find myself having trouble believing that we can really overcome such betrayal again. I keep trying to tell myself that it is only because of the proximity of the antiversaries.

Our forward progress in R has been all but halted due to the immediate crisis. He has taken the step to jump start it by booking retrouvaille for next month. I guess I am reaching out now for some support of my own in the meantime. If you have read this far I deeply appreciate it!!! If anyone has experience to share with supporting a WH in crisis during the midst of R, I would truly love to draw on your wisdom as well!

[This message edited by bytheboard at 9:22 AM, January 19th (Sunday)]

rachelc posted 1/19/2014 09:12 AM

Hugs honey!!!

You must be exhausted!! I'm so sorry to hear howuch you're going through.

I can share a little bit of what is helping me. Two weeks ago I was ready to tell my husband that he doesn't get to have two affairs, not make me the priority in his life and continue to stay married to me. The next day he broke his leg. Badly. Like in the hospital getting a plate and 7 screws put in. And a weekend stay there.

I'm taking care of him and I did have a verbal vomit session once and I am exhausted.
So I'm putting "us" on hold. I'm taking very good care of myself. I have ppl come over and sit with him while I get a massage or my nails done. I take care of him too but I make sure that I am taken care of.
Please take care of yourself, support him in crisis because that's the kind of person YOU want to be, regardless of whether or not he deserves it
This happened over affair season as well.

[This message edited by rachelc at 9:14 AM, January 19th (Sunday)]

seenow posted 1/19/2014 09:45 AM

I don't have that much mercy for my WH. He lost his job. He lost his friends. He lost he golden AP partner. But if he wanted me, he could make me a priority regardless of what else was happening. I am important!

If he has time to go skiing or watch TV, he has time to read this site or journal or something to figure this mess out.

While in the affair he found time for it. He can find time now for me and becoming a better person.

(oooooooo, maybe I am not that harsh all the time )

Kyrie posted 1/19/2014 09:57 AM

(((bytheboard))) Thank you for sharing your situation. Opening yourself to SI responses takes courage, I think, and this plus all the thoughtful dedication to your H, son and family is amazingly brave. I hope you'll keep your post close at hand so you'll be reminded what an incredibly strong and resilient person you are. rachelc's advice to take exceptional care of yourself should be taken seriously. These are extraordinary circumstances that individually create trauma and you're experiencing them simultaneously. That fact alone should send the message that you must take it one day at a time and be extra good to yourself.

During the darker days of R, my mother's mental illness became larger than life due to a variety of factors. The chaos this caused, the pain of her self destruction, and the overwhelming sense to respond even though her behavior is completely out of my control, just added a whole other layer of emotional angst to my life. And this colored my perceptions about my H's infidelity and our ability to recover. Whenever the storm with my mom settled a bit, I would dive deeper into despair. Like a circuit board, life had reached full capacity and I was in danger of short circuiting.

IC has helped me maintain a healthy perspective, helped me set boundaries, and quite the anxiety.

Reaching out to my closest friends, taking long walks, getting adequate sleep, reading and writing, and prayer/meditation -- these things carried me through. And I'm not sure where or how I got the message that things will not always be like they are now, but I take that to heart every day.

I hope you'll identify those things that bolster you, give you strength and comfort, help you keep perspective and will embrace them with everything you have.

Keep us at SI in the loop, too. There are a lot of us here who identify with your suffering and are motivated to reach out and support you. You are not alone.

eachdayisvictory posted 1/19/2014 10:40 AM

Wow, I just want to tell you that you are an amazing person. I hope you know and feel that, but the shitstorm of life that you are handling right now is huge, and I read from you're words that you are doing everything you can.

My main thought as I read was; ask for help. I hope you have a support system in place and some trusted friends/family that are in the know about the A. Understand that you are phenomenally strong, that so many others would not be able to get out of bed each day and handle what you are. So, when it all gets to be too much (which I can imagine happens at times), please ask for help.

I've learned a lot about the strength inside me that I didn't understand before this, and I don't always take pride in it or remember it - so I wanted to make sure you recognize that in yourself.

You are amazing. Take care of yourself bytheboard.

Lionne posted 1/19/2014 10:55 AM

I commend you for all you are doing. My SAFWH'S crisis's came not after d-days but before. Like you, I was the rock, the soldier, the strong one. We have had one major crisis after disclosure, our DS entering rehab for alcohol abuse. My SAFWH does blame himself for that addiction, I don't think its that simple.

Unfortunately, the SA's toughest Battle, IMHO, is the one they wage against shame and guilt. You cannot make this easier for him. And if you aren't healthy, if you get sick by overwhelming yourself trying to be everything for everybody, isn't that going to add to his guilt?

SS's problems are part mental illness, part FOO, part a choice HE has made. Your SAWH will have to come to understand this on his own. Realizing he cannot change the past, and can only do the right thing today, tomorrow and for every tomorrow here on out is for him to internalize.

You have to let him know that you cannot be the foundation for his recovery, only for your own. And then do it. Be YOUR own best friend. Do nurturing things for yourself.

I'm not suggesting you won't be there at all for SAWH and SS, just deal with them through a filter of self protection.

[This message edited by scaredyKat at 10:57 AM, January 19th (Sunday)]

Skan posted 1/19/2014 19:06 PM

Oh, my dear bytheboard, I'm exhausted just reading all that you're handling, and handling SO very competently! It may not seem like it, but you are being just awesomely strong and focused.

I commend you, for your empathy. But please remember, that you cannot shoulder all of his burdens, and that it is essentially unfair to him to try to do so. Part of learning, healing, and really owning your life is to deal with all of the consequences of the horrible decisions that you made. His birds have come home to roost and he does need to shovel out the aviary. You are definitely honoring your vows, but you really need to make sure that you take care of YOU too. Your pain and healing are just as important as his and your pain and healing are another one of those roosting birds in his aviary. (((hugs)))

bytheboard posted 2/20/2014 10:32 AM

I truly wanted to thank each one of you for your thoughtful replies and apologize for my delay in getting back to this thread. It is very difficult to type anything at all with an active 19 month old that doesn't nap but it means more than I can tell to have all of the support and advice that you have offered here.

Rachelc, I appreciate the advice on good self care. Logically I know it is essential and I made it a priority to teach and encourage it when I was still working as a rape crisis counselor. Somehow it seems harder to make myself make me a priority lol. I truly hope that you are doing well and moving forward in your recovery!

Seenow I can really relate to how hard it can be to drum up compassion and empathy at times, I certainly feel that a lot... But he has really been through a lot lately and I am glad to be able to provide some level of comfort and support.

Kyrie, your words are very insightful and dealing with a loved ones mental illness is beyond frustrating and exhausting. I am regularly attending IC and I don't know where i would be without it. I am sorry that you have had to face similar struggles and I am sending good thoughts your way.

Eachdayisavictory thank you so much for the vote of confidence! Sometimes it helps to just here it from someone else... And that helps you remember that you can make it through!

Scaredykat, what you said about supporting SAWH through a "filter of self protection" makes SO much sense!!! He is sorting through 30 some years of muck and sometimes i have to take a step back or go crazy... I really appreciate your experience and wisdom.

Skan, thank you for the reminder that I would be doing him a disservice by trying to carry to much for him. I think that is my natural impulse and I appreciate your advice as it is what we both truly need!

Things have calmed down somewhat over the last month. All of the business and unanswered questions around my mother in laws death have been resolving and my step son has found a place to live with a friend who both my husband and myself believe will help support and guide him in his recovery. I have the young children in therapy to cope with all they experienced through this ordeal and my husband and I are picking up where we left off on the business of reconciliation and recovery.

W are slated to go to retrouvaille at the end of the month . I am getting the space to begin to work through some of my biggest issues around the infidelity and my husbands sex addiction and plan to start a post on some of these thoughts/ revelations as soon as I finish ths... I just didn't want all that good advice to go by without a thank you!!!

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