One honor in walking alongside trained peer facilitators from the ADOH community is hearing their stories of moving through betrayal trauma recovery… moving from despair and hopelessness to hope and strength. Lisa’s story is one example of a woman who’s been through hell going back into the fire bringing buckets of water for those still touched by the flame.
Carrying buckets of water
My story of heartbreak, grief and post-traumatic growth is interwoven with a story of up and down dieting and sporadic attempts at physical fitness. My family was not into sports or fitness. I was a band nerd. My mother sat down at age 55 and never got up again, moving from the bed to the couch and back. Her lack of self-care inspired me to keep moving as I aged, and I've found a passion in karate.
In late 2017, oblivious to my husband’s acting out but painfully aware that he had become distant and critical over time, I was unaware that my husband of seven years was a sex addict. This was my second marriage. The first, characterized by mental and emotional abuse and gaslighting, had ended.
I was obese and borderline diabetic. An emotional eater, the state of my marriage contributed to my poor nutrition and lethargy. I decided to join an online fitness and nutrition challenge led by three fitness professionals and medical doctor whose commitment to their own health had led them to help thousands feel better. The challenge group started the same day my husband and I left for a Caribbean cruise.
I lost eight pounds in the first week - while cruising, eating, and eating some more (we even did the Captain's Table, which I highly recommend!) Who DOES that?!? I felt accomplished and encouraged by my initial success.
Over the next 12 weeks, we gathered in a closed Facebook group for nutrition and workout guidance. We learned from the experts. We encouraged and supported each other and watched our blood work and other markers for metabolic diseases improve substantially.
Along the way, something else happened. Many of us began to smile and laugh and have more fun. We were taking good care of our bodies and it became about much more than smaller waistlines or even lower numbers on the scale. Those of us who fully participated experienced numerous non-scale victories. The exercise and good nutrition affected our brain health and mental states. I started spreading the word and encouraging others in a healthier lifestyle.
I entered 2018 with renewed energy and a vision for living the best life I could, whether my husband chose to enjoy being with me or not. I was looking forward to turning 60, testing for my 5th degree black belt and heading to a convention with my fitness coaching tribe.
Lisa in her karate uniform (or“gi” in Japanese) at her 5th degree black belt test, taken one week before D-Day. She told me,
“I will never forget when Jake Porter (Daring Ventures) looked at my husband during the middle of our therapeutic disclosure and said “Wait a minute. Let me make sure I got this right. You did this and she’s a black belt?!?” It was epic."
In spring of 2018, shortly after my birthday and karate test, I learned my husband had been acting out sexually for half of our marriage. I went ahead to the fitness convention just 60 days after D-Day and have only vague memories of it - thank goodness for photos so I know what we did! Staggered disclosures continued through the summer until our therapeutic disclosure last fall.
My grief journey has included hours (and thousands of dollars) of therapy, an intensive and couples counseling; amazing time spent with godly women and at conferences; a dozen books on sex addiction and recovery - and about 15 gallons of ice cream.
In the almost 18 months since D-Day, I’ve had my heart shattered, experienced the intense pain of loss of my innocence and have been amazed at the strength God gives us through connection with others. Between my online small group, the Restore conference, various 12-step meetings and the ADOH community, I have a new tribe and a new passion for helping others.
My experience of the last year-and-a-half led me to create a separate challenge group for my new tribe, one that comes from a trauma-informed perspective. Many of my new friends and sisters tell me that they, too, let their physical fitness and nutrition go in the wake of disclosure. I understand that, having done it myself. Given the nature of our traumatic experience as partners of sex addicts, the last thing we need is to give ourselves additional reasons to doubt.
I’m opening a new challenge group October 1 that will focus on self-care through nutrition and exercise. This will be a secret Facebook group, open ONLY to women who are referred by my sisters who are committed to helping other betrayed spouses. The group will not be free but is reasonably priced and will include coaching with nutrition and exercise and led by an ADOH graduate who is also a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Group Fitness Instructor.
If you or partners you know are interested, I invite you to share my story.
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your story of hope and growth - and for bringing buckets of water to others.