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ChamomileTea

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1 comment posted: Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Summer squash soup

I've never really poked my head very far into the off-topic forum, but once again, my tiny garden has over-produced yellow squash and some of you will know how that goes. Summer varieties don't really last long and are best picked when small. But in the real world, some of us don't get out there every day and next thing you know, you've got two or three out there the size of footballs. Now, of course you can take them over to your neighbor's house under cover of darkness, leave them on the porch, ring the doorbell and run, or.. you can make soup. If you've got an Instant Pot and an immersion blender, it's not even really work.

Summer Squash Soup

1/2 large white onion, chopped fine

1 xl or 2 med carrots, chopped fine

2 med or 3 small potatoes

4-5 lbs summer squash (yellow or green) chopped into 1" chunks

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 c. chicken broth, (or vegetable for vegans)

2-3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped fine

For Instant Pot.. use saute setting to soften the onions and carrots in olive oil, just to translucent. Turn off the pot, add chicken broth, potatoes and summer squash. Process on high pressure 15 minutes. Instant release if desired. Add basil, and using immersion blender puree. Salt to taste.

For stove top cooking.. saute the onions and carrots in olive oil until just translucent. Add broth, potatoes, and summer squash to the pot. Add water or additional broth to just under the top of the squash, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered until vegetables are soft, about 20 mins. Reserving broth, drain vegetables, add basil, and then puree adding reserved broth as needed to desired consistency. Salt to taste.

*Note* If you've got a nice heavy Dutch Oven with a good lid that prevents a whole lot of steam from escaping, you can probably go without adding additional fluids or limit to about a half cup extra. Better to have a little too much though and drain it than to have not enough and burn.

What's nice about this soup is that you can't hardly go wrong with it. It's so easy to get along with. I never measure anything, I just toss it in and keep going.

ETA: Makes about two quarts.

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 4:12 PM, August 3rd (Tuesday)]

5 comments posted: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

The Statute of Limitations...

Here's something I've been thinking about for a long time... what is our responsibility as BS's to achieve real healing when we decide to keep our WS? Should there be some kind of unwritten "statute of limitations" where we either need to shit or get off the pot when it comes to REAL forgiveness, meaning that our WS gets to live a normal life again. Or is cheating a "life sentence" and we can just treat that WS like shit for the rest of the marriage? Once a cheater, always a cheater.. to hell with their remorse.

I can't speak for others, but I tend to be hard on myself. I have some pretty strict standards that I try to adhere to. So when I say I'm going to do something, or even "try" to do something, I feel like I need to be as good as my word When I said I would try R, I felt like I had to mean it. I've told this story often, but I remember shortly after we had started trying for R, I was shopping for groceries and noticed that my WH's favorite ice cream was on sale. I stood there for a few minutes thinking about the messaging. Did I want to treat my WS like nothing had happened?.. reward him?.. punish him? I mean, I could see pretty early on that punishment wasn't in line with what I was trying to accomplish. When you're trying to reestablish emotional intimacy, how can you punish your spouse without punishing yourself? You can't just harm the cheater's half of the marriage. It's one thing, not two halves but whole. I couldn't call it a "reward" either. Frankly, we have a fairly good lifestyle so on-sale ice cream isn't that big of a treat. It's more like a thoughtful courtesy... and to note it, then disregard it seemed petty to me when I remembered my promise to "try". So, it became about the goal of trying, what was I shooting for? And it really came down to a life where we could both be normal again. So, if it were a normal day and I noticed a good price on ice cream?... and bang, the ice cream goes in the cart.

I wouldn't have wanted to stay in a marriage where I won every fight because "he's a cheater" and nothing could ever be authentic or real or normal again. Five years seemed about right when I heard it here at SI, and THAT was where I set my goal, to be healed and moved on from the infidelity within that time frame. And boy howdy, it did take ALL that time! Now my fWH and I might still have problems, but they're the regular type of marriage problems. I'm not holding a grudge or hiding anything. I've said often that what he did was "unforgivable" and that to use the word "forgiveness" sticks in my craw. But... I've "written off" the debt, balanced the ledger, cleaned the slate. He doesn't hear about it anymore. I don't run to him with triggers. I'd be mortified to be caught revisiting the past, let alone wallowing in it. And I'm thinking maybe that's just me, taking a pragmatic and being super strict with myself... and maybe it would take other people longer to get there?

But is there a normal amount of time? It seems like there would be no way to set limits on healing from person to person. Each of us is so different, our WS's are different, our circumstances are different. How long does it take when a BS is really working hard toward healing?.. when they're really proactive?.. 5 years?.. 10?.. a lifetime? Can it be anything goes, just so long as the WS has agency regarding the TRUTH of the relationship? IOW, if the WS understands that they are NOT forgiven and still chooses to stay, that's one thing. But what happens when we don't tell them that they're not forgiven?.. when we're holding a grudge and they don't know it? At what point does the WS become the victim?.. wasting their years believing that they are forgiven and loved when it's just not so? Isn't that sort of the PG version of stealing someone's years rather than the XXX version that was perpetrated against us? Is there a point at which the BS becomes the monster, the very thing they despise, but with a different methodology?

I don't think this matters much for people who don't choose R. I'm just interested to hear other opinions on it. I do find myself a bit critical, if I'm honest, when BS's aren't really trying for full healing and recovery, and when they don't care to get unstuck. At what point should a BS realize that they are inconsolable, that the cheating was a deal-breaker and that they need to move on? It doesn't seem possible to put a time-table on it, and yet, there does come a time at which dithering becomes really unfair to the WS.

166 comments posted: Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

E.M.D.R. and Traumatic Memory Storage

So, I made this post on another thread and Thumos asked my to expound on my experience with EMDR. I've changed my post a bit, but left the nuts and bolts because I think it adds something to the question of how brains store information and what kind of issues might happen when our triggers don't get resolved or our healing is otherwise impaired. I've made small changes to make it fit:

I've seen several people come through here where they really felt like they were mostly okay with how their R had gone. Then, something happens which they experience as a trigger, but instead of going away as they've become accustomed to triggers going away, suddenly they find that the betrayal FEELS recent and anguishing again.

I do think this is a trick of the brain and has more to do with the way we store traumatic information than anything different going on in the relationship. I also think it's a shame to ruin an R which has served you well (IF it has indeed been serving you well). That's part of the question. Are you overall happy in the marriage? Is it primarily this compulsive need to find more evidence which is making you unhappy?

Years and years ago, I knew this elderly lady who was super active up into her mid-90's. She was still driving her own car, living on her own, doing her own shopping, and even caring for her ailing husband who had Alzheimers. But if you were to spend an hour talking to her, you'd find out that all through their marriage, he was cheating on her. Every time they moved, she'd find out he already had a new girlfriend in that town before she and the kids had even arrived. She'd also tell you that he was trying it on with the care nurse who came into their home several times a week and trying to get to his current girlfriend's house via the lawn tractor.

Here's the thing though, this guy was practically comatose in his wheelchair by then. There was no way he was flirting with the nurse or climbing onto the lawn tractor. In fact, when questioned about the bruises on her hands and arms.. the thinking being that although her husband was confined to a wheelchair maybe he had become combative.. it turns out that she was hitting him with her hands and bruising herself in the process. This was an absolutely LOVELY lady, very kind, flawless manners, but for some reason, this history of cheating had become alive again in her mind.

After having EMDR, I'm convinced that it's all about how our brain's process and store traumatic information. Note that scientists don't really understand how EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) works, but that it does mimic the pattern we experience during REM sleep. After my fWH's betrayal, I didn't dream for like a year! Any time my mind went near the trauma, I popped back up and didn't sleep again for hours. Even now, I might tolerate the knowledge that "he cheated", but NOT any specific information. Other BS's report months, even years, of nightmares, so we don't all process and store in our sleep, right? How many different ways are there to store this information? And what happens if that method becomes corrupted or compromised?

Anyway, long post made shorter, I'm convinced that this is very often a symptom of faulty trauma storage and that the compulsive need to get more and more detail is a symptom, not the main event. For some people there's been a major rugsweep, and I think that has added to the overall trauma as they would never have been able to re-establish safety in the relationship. Some of the things which might have made them feel safe and valued again were never brought to the table, like transparency on passwords and REAL EMPATHY which might have prevented additional injuries.

Anyway, I happened on a copy of The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk while browsing for answers as to why I couldn't seem to control some of my behaviors after DDay. He is, without argument, the world's premier expert on the subject. I found his book easy to read and was strangely comforted afterward, realizing that so much of my reaction was NORMAL for the circumstances. It doesn't answer every question, and Lord knows that even if I get one question answered another pops up... but it helped A LOT.

I have tried van der Kolk's recommendation on Mindfulness which was just okay for me. It could help me recover from a trigger but did nothing to assuage the visceral reaction. A bad trigger would naturally cause a reaction from the amygdala of the brain, flooding the body with adrenaline and cortisol. Other symptoms would be mild head/neck pain, upset stomach, and a steep, sudden drop into black depression and hopelessness. Ugh! I don't have to tell you guys how bad a bad trigger can be. I will tell you that being Mindful as they were happening helped be identify and label the visceral reaction I was having. It helped to understand how my body was reacting to my emotions. This didn't stop it from happening, of course, but it made me feel less out of control and, if I'm frank about it, weak. I had felt like a mental case to some degree, like I should have been stronger. But bless Bessell van der Kolk... I found out I was totally NORMAL and NOT a gibbering nutcase.

I have not tried Neurofeedback, which is another of van der Kolk's recommendations, but I did try EMDR. I found it to be challenging and difficult. It's an immersive therapy which asks you to concentrate on your experience and allow yourself to FEEL the emotions as you're focusing on a back and forth rhythm with your eyes. This is similar to "tapping" which is also immersive and side-to-side rhythmic. I had the most success in sessions where I kept my trigger simple, a snapshot versus a movie, or a phrase rather than a book. That's kind of how triggers work anyway, right? A visual, a sound, a word.... next thing you know, your amygdala has let loose on you. I tried processing bigger pieces, like my fWH's whole email box. But it really did come down to finding the one photo in my mind which "triggered" all the rest. In one session, my WH had bought the OW a gift. So, I focused on that storefront and allowed my mind to wander through everything I knew about that incident, continuing to redirect to that storefront, how hurt and betrayed I felt that he had done this and refocusing back to the storefront, allowing my mind to wander to times when he had disappointed me by being cheap and/or un-thoughtful and back to that store front, the incident again, my feelings again, other people who had set me up in my FOO to not expect better treatment from my husband, and always back to the store front.

Now, of course, you feel like a blubbery mess afterwards. It's not normal for me to allow myself to engage in a pity party of that magnitude, right? But that's the socialization which keeps us from advocating for what we want in life and makes us feel bad when we can't immediately offer grace. So yeah, you feel weak and blubbery afterwards and you've likely had a good cry, and I can't speak for other people, but for me... the benefits don't come in right away. It's not until days later, maybe a week or even two that I realize I can drive by that store, remember what happened, and even feel a little sad that it happened. But it's NOT a visceral reaction, and ninety seconds later, my brain has moved on to the next thing.

Anyway, I would very much like to hear what you guys think about EMDR, Neuroscience, Mindfulness, and any other techniques for reprocessing traumatic information. As well as how you got past other symptoms of trauma, like brain fog and compulsive checking.

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 9:56 PM, July 19th (Monday)]

6 comments posted: Monday, July 19th, 2021

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