Happy Valentine’s Day!
As this holiday can be triggering and downright traumatic for women dealing with betrayal, we are grateful for Rhyll Croshaw’s perspective on our blog post today. Rhyll is the author of What Can I Do About Me? and the co-founder of SA Lifeline Foundation. Thanks, Rhyll, for sharing your strength, hope, and experience with all of us.
As Valentine’s Day rolls around again, I contemplate the last 45 years of Valentine’s Days in my marriage. I may not actually remember them all in detail, but I do remember how I felt for most of them. And a lot has changed!
Early on in my marriage, I desperately wanted to feel connected, loved, and romanced. At least on Valentine’s Day…right? That’s not such a bad expectation. I often put hours of thought and planning into a hopefully romantic and connected Valentine’s…to no avail. I bought the gushy cards and even gifts. Trying to figure out my husband’s love language, I read books about connection and communication. I/we always came up short. It wasn’t like he didn’t try..sometimes …he did try. But something big was missing.
It took over 30 years before we both came to understand what we were dealing with. My husband had a sex addiction. He couldn’t connect. He couldn’t love. He wasn’t capable of loving and connecting while in his addiction.
I also began to understand what I was dealing with. I was experiencing betrayal trauma. In my trauma I felt desperate, frustrated, very sad and disappointed. Not all the time, but especially when I had big expectations.
One February day as I was walking through a store not long after our third disclosure , I spotted a cute little pillow embroidered with the words “and they lived happily ever after.” I stopped, stared at it, and had a sarcastic thought come to mind…. “that is so fake, nobody lives happily ever after.”
As I have become educated about addiction and betrayal trauma, searched for help from God, had some qualified therapy, and most importantly continued to work the steps, I have a new mantra: “And she lived happily…. one day at a time.” At least reasonably happy…one day at a time!
Now I see what I can do to live in peace, direction and serenity.
I see more clearly God’s love for me and I strive to place “the affections of my heart” on God…first.
I see that happiness is an “inside job.”
As I have learned to surrender the things I cannot change and hold boundaries that express love for God, myself and others, I begin to see the program work in my life.
Now in my attempt to be honest and true to myself, I make my own Valentine’s Card for my husband. I can with honesty list the good qualities that he has, (many of the reasons that I married him). I appreciate his generous and gentle nature. He is a hard worker and can figure anything out. He plays guitar and sings beautifully. And in recovery he is a courageous and strong man with a warrior heart.
Is he perfect? No.
Am I? Not by a long shot!
Are we still working on our relationship? Yes. And we hope to continue to strive for many years to come.
So back to Valentine’s Day. I will see the good but not pretend. Expectations are good but I will not have expectations that someone has to fulfill to make me happy. Something I have learned is that expectations become a problem for me when I think my expectations are my husband’s and I expect my husband to fulfill my expectations.
On this Valentine’s Day I will love God first, then I will look for the good and be the good in someone else’s life.
May you find peace and love in this day.