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Safe spaces

EllieKMAS posted 11/20/2019 21:57 PM

I kinda posted a little about this on another thread, but thought it was a good stand alone.

Just up front - nothing of what I am about to say means I in any way justify an A. Want that understood.

I am an adult child of an alcoholic. I am a BW. And on Dec 13, I will be a divorcee. I have had some really challenging times in my life and this last year has sucked ass for the most part.

When I first landed on SI in Nov 2018, I was a hot fuckin mess. And SI was such a life saver - to know that all these other people GOT IT. They knew how blown apart I felt, how upside-down I felt. I really don't know how in the hell I would have survived the fallout from DDay1, 9 months of false R, separation, DDay2 without all of the farking amazing people on here. My gratitude is boundless.

I mention being an adult child of an alcoholic because I have really connected a LOT of dots between my processing of that and my processing of being thrown into the infidelity inferno. Both were things outside of myself and my conscious control that I was made to be a part of. Both involved people I love(d) very deeply. Both made me feel helpless and hopeless. My reaction to both showed me a lot of my own flawed coping mechanisms. I am addressing a lot of that in my therapy.

Miraculously, my mom will be getting her 7 year chip in AA in January. We are still working through stuff from her drinking days, but by and large my relationship with her is wonderful. We still have disagreements, don't get me wrong. I mean, she IS my mom, so there has to be some level of difference right?

She was a total disaster when she opened that AA door for the first time. He life had gone off the rails, she had alienated most of her family, and had really severely damaged the family she was still talking to. She had lost her job, ended up in the hospital, her and my sister were 2 seconds away from killing each other. To put it mildly, her last couple years of drinking were hell for me. I can't begin to imagine the hell they were for her.

Maybe it is that - seeing her getting sober. Seeing her be able to say that she is an alcoholic in recovery, seeing the very hard work she has done in her battle for her sobriety. And ultimately, despite her imperfections, seeing her embrace and LIVE her sobriety every day. And she will tell you even all these years out, that her sobriety is a daily CHOICE that she makes. Maybe that is why my perspective differs here.

I feel a lot of anger towards my xwh. I will for a long time. I feel anger at cheaters in general a lot. Their actions are not justified or rational or excusable. Hurting someone like that never is.

But removing the cheater glasses for a minute... I felt a lot of rage at addicts for a long time. Alcoholics in particular. Where I was in my journey at that time, a lot of that rage was understandable. As I have learned through my mom's involvement and her love for AA over the last 7 years, a lot of people have to open that door a lot of times before they get it right. While I can certainly feel for those people's loved ones and the sadness it is loving an addict, I will also give that addict their credit. If they keep going back, if they keep opening that fucking door, if they keep trying... IMHO they are miles further ahead than a lot of addicts ever get.

So too with waywards. Because of my own experiences this last year, I have an understandable deep-seated rage towards cheaters. I don't get it. I don't think it is in any way OK. I read in waywards, though I am not sure why. A lot of the posts make me very angry, or very sad, or [insert emotion here]. I don't comment over there a whole lot, and if I see a thread that pushes my buttons, I nope out of it. But just like I feel towards alcoholics opening that heavy AA door, I will give the waywards here on SI their due credit. They are showing up. They are at least willing to admit, however badly or quietly or waywardly, that they have a problem. That their life has gone badly off track. And just like an alcoholic, it has gone off track due to their own choices and flawed coping skills.

How many of you BS's have a WS that never came to SI? How many of you had a WS that just left? How many of you had one that did the false R stuff? Quite a few of us I think. I know for damn sure that they will be having snowball fights in hell when my xwh comes on here.

The title of this thread is safe spaces. JFO is a BS's safe space. And a badly needed one when DDay blows us up. But just because a wayward has pulled the pin on the grenade doesn't give me a right to invalidate the struggle they have. And Waywards is their safe space. Unpacking those bags is hard slogging ugly work. Some don't or can't, some do it really badly for a while and some sadly won't ever even try. But the waywards on SI are showing up and at least trying to start.

I am notoriously grinchy around the holidays and I don't do the "goodwill towards humanity" crap, mostly because I try my best to do that all year. But for me? I have had enough ugliness in my life this last year to last me for a long fucking time. I don't have to agree with them or understand it, but I will do my best to at least acknowledge a wayward's earnest attempts to affect meaningful change.

That's my SI Christmas present I suppose.

destroyed1 posted 11/21/2019 08:03 AM

I completely agree. I respect many of the waywards who post in the the wayward section.

I dont usually let the noob posts there bother me any more. Because I know very soon one of my favorite waywards will be there to help the noobs remove their head from their ass and guide them towards the oxygen they need.

I really do have some favorite posters in that section, even though I've never likely made any communication with them over the years.

I'd like to thank the helpful waywards for staying on and helping others. Even though you have worked to become safe, I'm certain you are still learning more about yourself every day. Helping others sometimes helps us understand ourselves.

[This message edited by destroyed1 at 8:06 AM, November 21st (Thursday)]

Oldwounds posted 11/21/2019 08:18 AM

Great post Ellie -- I do think a lot of what you wrote about safe spaces is what makes SI unique.

My wife hasn't ever posted here, but she read a lot and learned a lot from the WW section, and honestly she learned a lot by reading JFO too. We all know it takes about five minutes in JFO to feel the intense pain of our newest members.

To me the 'magic' of SI is the collective wisdom. The real life experiences of thousands of people, all with different perspectives. And yet, most of us in one section of the forum or more, find people who have similar stories to each one of us.

Some WS never do get it, but it's very nice to have a place where I do get to see some people who actually learn and change. I think it's important to see both examples, (how to be and how NOT to be) so we can find our own path accordingly.

MaryannFaithful posted 11/21/2019 14:37 PM

This is powerful. Thank you for posting it. I'm a BS, there are addicts in my family, but no one super close to me so I don't have that experience. Seeing my aunt go in and out of recovery has given me some understanding.

When WS came out of the fog he went into the pink cloud (feeling like everything is better, life is great). There is a shine from their eyes that feels a tiny bit manic. I recognized it in my WS and it scared me. My aunt did that every time and fell back into addiction. The pink cloud is dangerous, for thoes of you that don't know, because the first hard thing they hit can send them reeling, if they have not learned healthy coping skills by then they can fall back on the ones the know, and they can start using again. I think the pink cloud makes it harder to find good coping skills, from what I have seen that feeling can make them think they don't need anything, just not drinking is making them so happy, they will never use again. Sadly that is not enough for some. My WS is out of the pink cloud now and still going in the right direction. Which is a huge relief.

The other part that struck me about you post... I was abandoned as a teen, by both parent a couple of years apart. I know about betrayal, I have processed it before. I have forgiven it before. It took years. I am using the same road map I fumbled thru for my parents. I think having experienced something similar is both a blessing and a curse. I know what I need to heal, but this echos the most painful thing I had gone through, and this time it's worse.

My parents, just removed themselves from my life. My WS stayed around, was callous during and briefly after the spree of affairs. I was very suicidal at times, I told him I was, but he didn't seem to care, and days later told me I was a burden and it pushed me closer, I am alive now because I decided I would not abandon myself. My parents were never reliable, my WS was totally reliable. My parents left when I was 13 and 17, my WS abandoned me after 22 years. He has been there for me longer than anyone. I felt completely safe and loved for the first time in my life. The loss of that is extra devastating, and makes it all harder.

I used to think because of my past I could not stay with someone who cheated on me. My insecurity would be too great. Turns out that I am thinking I am trying to R because of my past. I know I can get through it, I have done it before.

elKAPPYtan posted 11/21/2019 15:06 PM

I stopped going there, it made me too angry.

EllieKMAS posted 11/21/2019 15:14 PM

@destroyed - agree with everything you said for sure!

@OW - thank you!

@maryann - yeah, just like infidelity is, growing up with addiction is a gift that keeps on giving too. And yeah, I totally forgot about the pink cloud. I remember my mom hitting that phase about 5 months in and her sponsor helped her get through it intact.

@kappy - That is a good call for you. If it is too triggery, just pretend like it's not there. Just fyi too - it took me many months of being on SI before I could go in there without feeling hostile. You are so close to DDay, it doesn't surprise me it affects you like that.

emergent8 posted 11/21/2019 16:38 PM

I agree that Waywards, whatever stage they are in, are entitled to a safe space to work through their issues and problems (whether they are self-imposed or not). At the same time, I also COMPLETELY recognize how triggering the Wayward section can be for BS (particularly a brand new BS or one with an unremorseful spouse). For that reason, I don't think that newly betrayed spouses should spend much or any time on the Wayward section at first and certainly shouldn't post - save for particular circumstances. For me personally, it wasn't until I was over a year out from D-Day that I was able to read in the Wayward section. I still did from time to time, but it wasn't particularly helpful for me and was probably a form of painshopping, if I'm honest.

Now that I've had a little space from the acute trauma of D-Day, I read in Wayward a little more frequently. I will even post every once in a while. I never know how helpful I am, and if I'm honest, I think that the more established Waywards are better at striking a tone and balance that will come through to a a new Wayward.

Maybe it's because my husband is remorseful and R has been successful for us, but I have much more empathy for Waywards who want to do better for themselves, than I used to. Having seen someone I love figure it out and make amends, I realize it's possible. It's also helpful to remember that all of those Waywards have a BS out there who may or may not be able to benefit from their spouse's use of this place.

millienotboo posted 11/21/2019 22:43 PM

And a word about your mom (and the addicts in my life)
Addicts in active recovery, who face every day, choosing the right way, are some of the bravest people in the world.

BearlyBreathing posted 11/21/2019 23:40 PM

Exactly as you said. If a wayward needed only to flip a switch wed have a lot more R. It is a journey they must take, all of their own doing, but i have to respect those that truly try.

Buzzy posted 11/22/2019 03:01 AM

I am a madhatter and i can only say that the help i received on the wayward forum was invaluable, they showed me that blaming all my awful behavior following my ww affair was not justified.

My W and I are no longer papering over the cracks but filling them in with cement.

Sometimes decent people do bad things and we need help.

J707 posted 11/22/2019 08:26 AM

I have the utmost respect for the waywards who are reformed or trying really hard to to get help for themselves, owning there shit! To me, dealing with my ex who is 100% perfect and un-remorseful, I can only respect those here that owned there shit and offer there guidance and wisdom of the wayward mind. A lot of the waywards here helped me in my healing, so I thank you!

Followtheriver posted 11/22/2019 17:37 PM


I am so very sorry for all the hell that you have been through. Thank you for your gift of kindness. It says a lot about who you are as a person and the amount strength that you have to offer such a gift.

My step-dad was a mean alcoholic, among other things. The things he did when he drank caused so much damage and destruction that, well it's part of my whys of being a wayward. To this day, the smell of stale beer makes me sick to my stomach, literally.

So for a long time, I had zero tolerance for all the excuses that were made for alcoholics and addicts. No empathy, no sympathy and I sure as hell wasn't going to try and understand. If they wanted to drink themselves to death or use drugs to destroy themselves, who was I to care. They chose alcohol and drugs over their families and didn't care what it did to them. They didn't stop because they didn't want to. At least that's what I used to think.

Then someone very close to me, let's call her "Q" since that letter doesn't get used very much. She became a licensed therapist, specializing in men's issues, leading to working with alcoholism and addiction. She is very good at what she does.

Q knew how I felt and why, so her and I would talk a lot about it. She taught me about the addiction mind, the recovery process and helped me to understand it.
I began to see that those with addiction issues were broken people, who had an disease that they couldn't control and it had taken over their lives. Seeing it that way had me feeling differently than I had in the past. This was around the same time that I had worked through most of my FOO.

Now I wanted to know why my step-dad was the way he was. I knew that he had spent almost 2 years in Vietnam during the war. I know there was very little support when he came home and I know that he was already an alcoholic when my mom met him. All that made sense to me. But what about the rest that ruined my childhood? I just knew that there had to be more and I was right. He was finally diagnosed with agent orange poisoning that had been eating away at his body for 40+ years, along with the memories that had eaten away at his mind. He died a couple of months later.

I am not going to pretend to understand everything, but I could understand enough to feel sorry for the boy who went to war and the man who came back. It was part of my decision, along with my own healing, to go to his funeral, walk up to his casket to tell him that I forgave him and that I hoped that he would find some kind of peace. I just couldn't carry all the bad feelings around anymore and it felt freeing to finally let them go.

I knew that this was a huge step in my healing but even more, my BH saw it a turning point on our road to R. He told me that to not only see me face my demons but to kick their ass, he was actually proud of what I was able to do. I just hate that I didn't have the strength to do it sooner.

While it can look like we are being too easy or coddling a new WS, there is a balancing act in advising them. If we come out swinging as hard as we can, they're gone. If we can't build a rapport by trying to understand their situation, they'll leave. And if we can't express compassion and concern for them as people and what they are feeling, they won't stay. So before I write a single word, I remind myself, that for every WS we lose, there is a BS who wishes we hadn't. My advice is then written with that in mind to help them feel safe. With the hope that they will trust me enough to really listen to the advice they are given, even when it comes with a 2x4.

Sometimes it can be difficult to be here as a wayward, even one who has put in all the work, like myself, whose BH felt confident enough to add the F in front of WW and considers us R. There are not a lot of waywards that stick around after a certain point. I have stayed to give back and to help when I can, but there are times when I have asked myself why and so has my BH. To be called names, told I'm a horrible mother, and thought of as less than human, when my own BH has never done any of them? I am a real person, who has a family that loves me, a couple of shit yappers who think I walk on water, I have a farm where I rescue farm animals, I can train and ride a horse like you wouldn't believe and I drink coffee by the pot fulls. Being a wayward is not who I am, being a wayward is only part of who I am. And knowing that is why I am willing and able to come back tomorrow and all the tomorrows that follow.

EllieKMAS posted 11/22/2019 20:47 PM

Addicts in active recovery, who face every day, choosing the right way, are some of the bravest people in the world.

MNB - Having been blessed enough to witness my mom's transformation from that broken woman 7 years ago to who she is now... This is SO true. My mom is such an inspiration to me and such a source of wisdom and strength. She wouldn't tell you so, but I think what she did took a lot of courage.

I am so very sorry for all the hell that you have been through.

FTR - nope. Not hell at all. It's just my life, they were the cards I was dealt. And you know? Despite some less than fun times, I wouldn't change them. I am going through a period of change right now - I don't know what will come out of it, but I know for damn sure it's gonna be better and stronger than the old me. Those cards helped that process.
As an aside - I am happy for you that you were able to find forgiveness for your step-dad. That is not a small thing.

Maybe it's because my husband is remorseful and R has been successful for us, but I have much more empathy for Waywards who want to do better for themselves, than I used to.

I definitely think that having a remorseful WS or being in relatively solid R ease a lot of the 'triggery-ness' of the wayward section. I completely understand BS's that can't even in that section. I definitely couldn't for a long time after I joined.

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