Happy death day, everyone... Just kidding (did you laugh? I laughed just writing it). I believe d-day gives the power for a re-birth. It's not the end. It's the beginning.
Whether d-day to you stands for "discovery day" or "disclosure day", the effect is about the same on any spouse in this situation:
You are devastated.
You feel broken.
You feel used and violated.
You feel like your life has been a lie.
Part of you has died.
You are lost in despair and hopelessness.
You are angry--so, so angry. And sad.
You are disgusted--both with yourself and your spouse.
You feel lost.
You feel alone.
You are confused.
You feel worthless.
You feel abused.
You feel empty, desolate, and bleak.
You fall into a state of shock.
You are traumatized--the post-traumatic-stress-disorder kind of traumatized.
Your life has been cut-off--murdered to a certain degree.
You are in a state of chaos--flailing, drowning.
You cry. A lot. Maybe you add in some throwing and breaking things. And possibly punching, kicking, and screaming.
Your trust has been shattered. And when trust goes...well, it seems that everything else goes along with it.
To sum it up, it is HELL. Discovering your spouse is a sex-addict is hell. It's the darkest that hell has to offer. Facing the consequences of that fact day after day is hell. Fighting the battle against Satan, even as a team with your spouse, is hell.
When this hell is thrust upon you, there are two directions you could go. You could search for hope and healing, or you could allow the despair to swamp you, lose hope, and fall into a state of depression. I've done both at different times in my recovery and after different d-days. Despair, hopelessness, and depression are not my ideal.
Three years down this road, I've learned a thing or two. There are so many things I wish I could say to my six-month-newly-wed self to ease the burden and the pain. However, when it comes down to it, this has been a beautiful road. I've learned and grown a lot. I can look at myself in the mirror and say, "Wow, that is a strong woman. Look how beautiful you are." and that is a dramatic change from this time three years ago. Three years ago, I was in a state of hell, as listed above. And I didn't know what to do.
So, how do you get your bearings after d-day? How do you get your head to stop spinning? How do you get your feet on the ground?
1) Know that your life isn't over. I know the feeling. It's oh-so-hard to pull out of the despair and think even for a second that everything is not over. It's not. This is the beginning of a new you. You have the power to choose whether or not you heal, and if you choose healing, you will become polished and strong. You will shine with light that you have never felt before, and you can become a beacon of strength and light for others around you.
2) Understand that healing takes time. There is a whole process you have to go through to fully heal. I'm not there yet, but I'm on the road. I no longer feel controlled by my emotions. I am discovering ways to allow my emotions to work their course and then let go of them. It's been three years. I'm on the road to true healing. I'm not there yet, but I'm discovering hope and strength along the way, and I know that in time, I will find true healing.
3) Reach out for help. It's so easy to slip into isolation: from friends, family, and God. I was silent for too long. I didn't tell anyone for over a year because I was convinced by church leaders that it "had to stay in the marriage." That is absolutely not true. Have a support network: you're gonna need it. That's not to say run out and tell the whole world. As you explore this idea, you will be led to a network of "safe people" that you can turn to in times of need. They don't even have to know everything, but at least having someone to go to will be a tremendous help.
In reaching out for help, finding a counselor will be crucial. I waited too long for that as well, thinking I could manage this by my own methods. Having a professional to confide in, who can give me tactics to manage my stress/anxiety/depression, has been one of the best choices of my recovery.
Other ways to reach out include joining forums, blogging, connecting with other women (through blogs/forums/12-step groups), and talking to your "safe people".
You are not alone. You may feel so lost and alone, but other women are in the same situation. As you reach out for help, you may find others struggling too. As you engage in forums or blogging, you will find that other women are there too. And you always have God. He is always by your side.
4) Allow yourself to feel. If you "tough it out", you will break sooner or later, and it will likely be worse than just facing it head-on from the get-go. Feeling comes before healing. Allow yourself to mourn. Let the grieving process cycle through you. If you allow yourself to feel the emotions swimming around in you, you will feel validated and be able to move on. If you constantly shove it away, it will add pressure on you internally, and that pressure will eventually explode in the worst way.
5) As you feel, be compassionate and gentle with yourself. Try not to minimize what you are going through. It's hard. And it's okay that it's hard. Being mean to yourself won't help. Practice self-compassion.
Remind yourself that this isn't your fault. One of Satan's greatest tools is to make us believe that we somehow are to blame for this--that we aren't pretty enough, sexy enough, or fulfilling for our husbands. This is not true. When those lies come into your brain, be gentle with yourself and remind yourself of your worth. The addiction doesn't define you. And it is most definitely not your fault.
6) Do research and find resources. Learn about addiction, especially sex-addiction. Understand what is going on with the brain, and realize that your spouse is not addiction. He (or she) may be an addict, but he is also more than the addiction. Finding resources, both for understanding the addiction and to progress your own healing, is so important.
Here is a brief list of online resources: fightthenewdrug.org; rowboatsandmarbles.org; addorecovery.com; togethernessproject.org. There are also great books and CDs out there to help with healing.
7) Set boundaries. Setting boundaries allows you to have the space you need to heal. Boundaries keep you safe from the volatile mess you live with when you are dealing with an addict.
8) Take time for self-care. To put it simply, self-care means doing the things you need to do to promote your overall wellness. Take care of yourself. It's critical that you do so! Don't lose yourself because of the addiction.
Some ideas: painting, exercising, stretching, eating healthy, eating treats, smelling yummy candles, shopping, praying, meditating, taking a hot bath, and listening to healing music.
9) Recognize your divinity. Your worth is not based on your husband. It is not based on your appearance. It is based solely on the fact that you are a child of God. He loves you so much, and He will help carry you through this.
10) Look for God. It's so easy to fall into despair and depression. It's easy to think God has abandoned you and to take your anger out on Him. One thing I've learned is that He is always there. Sometimes I am blind to it, though, because I don't open my eyes. I am so consumed with my grief and depression that I choose not to see Him. When I choose to see Him, I always find the ways He is blessing me, and that helps me feel light and hope.
Throughout my journey as I've fought sex-addiction in my marriage, I've had multiple d-days. Every time is a new learning experience. I don't know that I'd change my experience, as it's brought me to the woman I am now. But if I went back in time to give the "little"-me tips on how to manage and tread through the aftermath of d-day, this list would help pull me through.
Remember, this isn't the end. It's the beginning.
Hi! I'm Kilee. I love God, life, light, and energy. I'm a wife, daughter, aunt, teacher, leader, and pioneer. I am here to be a voice. I bear witness of God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through Them that I am being made whole in this journey through my husband's addiction. They are real. They are love. We are not alone.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org