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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:22 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 661
I've been on my healing path for about two years and I wish I could tell you I was done and had all the answers. I'm not done and I don't have all the answers. I wanted to share what I have learned about my early days in healing. Some new partners have asked "how do I create a protective bubble" and that got me thinking since it is such a good and critical question.

My first thought was that after my discovery, not the D-days when I finally started confronting my husband, I was in such a state of shock and emotional turmoil there was no way I could create a protective bubble. I remember how wrenchingly painful this period was with physical, emotional and cognitive pain and confusion. And this went on for some time--not years, but months. It was very damaging to me and probably took years off of my life. I was obsessively snooping, desperate to find out what was reality. I was sobbing frequently. I wasn't sleeping. I was driving around in the middle of the night, at high speed, sobbing. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. Basic functioning was very, very difficult. I was a shell of myself. But, my body and mind just couldn't take this and I kind of crashed. A self protective mechanism kicks in and I just got exhausted. Sometime during this period I found RN (probably during some obsessive searching for answers on the internet).

But, I was thinking about discovery and shock. We all can say the exact moment when we found porn on the phone, the computer, in the house. Or when we found a text or an email. Or when something finally slaps us in the face, and slaps us hard. But, I realize "discovery" had been going on for some time for me. Why did I finally snoop on my husband's computer? It was because of the increasing blows to me from his horrendous behavior (abandoning me at the hospital when I was sick, not picking me up when I was discharged, over the top hostility and rage and contempt, emotional and physical absence even greater than the years before, people who knew both of us changing their behavior toward me, seeing pity and contempt on the faces of women I knew, one of the women he acted out with openly mocking me). So that awful feeling that something was off over the course of my marriage got reinforced by my husband's escalating abuse. That is when I snooped. So, "discovery" had been going on for a while, the shock had been building, and then the sickening shock of something concrete and real right in front of me. It's painful even now to remember this.

I could not build a protective bubble at this point. And, as we painfully know, the drip, drip, drip of disclosure further traumatizes us.

At some point, though, when I was casting about for some understanding of what the hell had happened to me and desperately trying to get some self control, I found RN. I started to get an understanding of sex/porn/love addiction. And, God bless Jon, he understood partners and was there to help.

So, the protective bubble. Just like on the airplane when you put your oxygen mask on first, I realized that those who relied on me needed me to get it together. In my case, no children were at home, but I had pets, some of whom had special needs. They needed me. I wasn't there for them. I needed me. I had no energy. No ability to concentrate. No focus. I first realized I had to do basic self care: eat, shower, get dressed. At this point I still had extensive public service commitments and I HAD to perform. I was also seeing a therapist at this time who knew nothing about SA and further traumatized me, but that's a whole other story. So the bubble starts with focusing on self care. Basic self care. If you have children or pets, our focus must be on them and their well being. Or if you have other family who rely on you. But, and I say this gently, I had to be a bit ruthless in conserving my energy and NOT take care of people who could take care of themselves. I had to stop being the caretaker of the world.

And, of course, I turned to my husband for support. So self defeating, but there you go. The awful thing I learned early on, and was advised by the partner's coaches, was that my husband was not reliable and was a threat to my well being. This is a devastating realization. But, really, no surprise. I made the mistake, over and over again, trying to get his support. That never came and further traumatized me. So, next part of the bubble. Realize and accept that my husband was NOT there for me.

Then, I started to try to stop thinking and obsessing about my husband and his addiction. I worked hard on not snooping. I made myself think about me for five minutes at a time. I continued with the RN lessons, which were immensely helpful. I realized I needed to find a trauma therapist for just me, and that took a while and was critical to my healing.

Then I started to work on doing something nice for myself every day. I started small. I celebrated baby steps.

Everyone was telling me to detach, and this bubble was the first step in detaching. As I detached and as I worked on the RN lessons, I learned I needed to set boundaries, and that is even more helpful but that was much, much further down the line for me. And the RN lessons had me think about me--my values, my vision. I needed to get back in touch with me. I remember spending a lot of time thinking about my life before marriage. How much I liked myself back then. How I needed to get back some of my old attitudes and behavior (not all of them, but lots of them).

Here's what is really, really important: I cannot let my husband into my bubble. Ever. This has to be my sanctuary. I don't know if we will reconcile and have a true relationship, but even if we do, I know that he cannot be trusted in my sanctuary. Sad, but true. My health, my well being, is more important than he is. Period. I know this sounds harsh, but is also empowering. It has taken me two years to get to this awareness. It may be different for other partners. Does that mean I can never be intimate with my husband if he gets healthy? No. It does mean that my eyes are forever open to the reality of what he is capable of doing that would harm me. I will never forget that. I will always need boundaries, and would have needed them even in a healthy relationship.

So, we must be gentle with ourselves. We must try to focus on our self care. On our children. Our pets. Our loved ones other than our addicted partners.

With compassion,

PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:00 pm 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 515
thank you for sharing your experience with trauma, discovery, and developing your safe bubble, dnell.

Your path closely parallels my own: detachment was, initially, a difficult concept and practice for me, and like you, I began with small baby steps, t hat were actually quite huge for me (leaving my husband alone in our home for even an hour at a time while I was outside comes to mind).

I believe for many partners detachment is a challenging concept because it seems to go against our foundational beliefs about love and relationships. Additionally, a traumatized partner is faced with the dilemma you alluded to: the very person who caused the trauma is also the same person the partner believes/wants to comfort and help heal them, and that person (the addicted person) cannot.

Like you, I turned to my husband many times for support after several d-days, and while I do not bemoan my choices, I sense this set us back further. I understand why I did it--after all, especially for the first 1-2 d-days, I was operating out of a healthy belief system that when we share with our partners that their behavior causes us pain, we believe that should be enough--that the problem will be fixed and our partner will stop the pain-causing behavior.

Something I will share about my own process of creating a bubble, and detaching: I was truly only successfull with it when I had established enough autonomy in my life. Before this, my dependency on my husband, both emotionally and logistically, was too great for me to detach.

The more autonomy we can create, step by step, the easier detachment becomes.

Finally, like you, I have a bubble. I visualize mine as a bubble of light. When faced with a challenging conversation with my husband, I close my eyes and imagine that light surrounding me. It is my buffer zone. And when I find my internal narrative drifting toward unhealthy rumination about what he may or may not be doing (e.g. acting out) I simply say to myself, silently, "bubble" and this helps me call up my bubble visual.

My bubble visual reminds me of my own goodness and light. It helps me feel strong, and of value. It reminds me of my worth to myself.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:19 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:30 am
Posts: 95
Thank you for this dnell.. it is a really hard thing to do, but I'm working on it. When my husband was home this weekend and I was struggling, I just kept saying 'detach, detach' to myself in my head, and it did actually help.. I can feel the bubble forming around me and I know it to be a good thing for me right now.

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