Suddenly Alone

What was your dday?

For most women, there were many episodes of uncovering bits of evidence, stumbling over contradictions, and then questioning our husband or boyfriend. We had no notion of the massive bottom to the iceberg on which we stood. But those episodes weren’t ddays.

Dday is something else altogether. Dday is when you grasp you have been deliberately deceived by your life partner on core value ground. You may not know all the who, what, where, when or why’s—but you know there’s been a breach in your relationship that is a critical breach. It’s not about a crisis that reveals illness, a mental lapse of some kind, or a stress related behavioral problem. Dday is when you perceive for the first time that he is “okay” with hurting you. That, in my opinion, is dday.  And for me, that meant I was suddenly alone.

As an introvert, being alone was always a good thing. I knew how to just “be” with myself. I was never lonely, never at a loss as to what to do, never anxious. “Alone” was a reward I gave myself for a job well done, a break from daily routines, a gift to remember who I was. “Alone” was a good thing, not a bad thing.

Dday changed all that.

At night, I huddled in a spare room, terrified of what he was going to do to me next. I didn’t sleep because I was afraid he would kill me. Adrenaline kept me going for quite a while, but slowly exhaustion claimed me after a few weeks, and I would fall asleep for a few hours each night, jerking awake full of the terror of truth.

As a traumatized person, I believed that killing me was the next logical step after everything he had done. I was the only one who knew who he really was, and he had shown me that he didn’t care what happened to me. I knew who he was. He couldn’t assume I would hide him anymore. There was too much at stake for him. I was now expendable.

I was alone.

Alone in this marriage. Alone in this house. Alone in this nightmare. Alone in this life.

For me, dday was that realization—the dawning of understanding that after nearly three decades building a life for us together, I was utterly alone in that life, and in danger.

Speech terror would overtake me the few times I tried to tell people, and the words would not come out. I was locked in isolation, going through the motions of work, and coming home to wait through the night for my end. It sounds crazy, but when you live through this you can understand. I had no money to get away. We both made our ministry living in the same Presbytery and I couldn’t jeopardize my job. I really didn’t believe there was anything left for him to do but finish me off. And having brushed up against his unimaginable (to me) core level disrespect, contempt and loathing for me, I had to take seriously that this equally unimaginable thing was indeed, possible.

I was alone—utterly alone in a life I didn’t recognize—utterly alone in fear, grief, confusion, and despair. And it would be a while before I would find anyone to keep me company.

When I finally connected with some women online who were also raising lots of question about the dubious treatment industry, I began to think I might survive. I was working with a fine psychologist but she, too, was learning on the fly that the treatment industry wasn’t a reliably safe option for traumatized wives and partners. Then an interview with Dr. Barbara Steffens talking about our experience as traumatized women became available online. I would listen to it over and over and over again. It was like having someone with me who knew what this experience was. Her voice spoke about feelings and thoughts and abuse that I knew from my experience too. I am still grateful for her voice that kept me company through some dark days.

When I first created the free video series “Myths About Wives and Partners of Sex Addicts” I would hear from women who were in that “alone” phase. They would contact me and tell me how they played my videos over and over and over. I still hear from them. Some women would use the audio of the videos to fall asleep. (I choose to take that as a compliment!) When I created other audio/video resources to purchase, customers told me the same thing: the sound of my voice comforted them, the same way I was comforted listening to Dr. Steffens years earlier. I never forgot the power of a human voice, a women’s voice, speaking about these difficult things that I was experiencing. It was like that voice reached down my throat and touched my heart and soul, telling me I was not alone anymore.

So, when I was encouraged by several people to create a book out of my popular blogs from 2018, something made me hesitate. While it was the sensible thing to do, the easiest thing to do, and the cheapest thing to do, I concluded it wasn’t the best thing to do.

Alongside what I had learned about the value of a knowing and understanding female voice breaking through our isolation, was the knowledge that many traumatized women can’t read a book. Even the written blogs are pushing the limit for them. Trauma-induced A.D.D. or a generally decreased ability to concentrate, think clearly, retain written information, or stay still for very long are trauma symptoms that make books difficult for many women. Also, reading meant women couldn’t be multi-tasking, which seems to be the foundation of life these days. Finally, I know that when we change methods for the transmission of information, we learn different things. So, working with an audio technician, we started to record my 2018 blogs late last summer. We finished in January. It was not the sensible thing to do, the easiest thing to do, or the cheapest thing to do. But I think it was the best thing to do.

Now, on the home page you can order those recordings, download them and listen to my voice talking about our unique experiences any time you want. Listen while you’re driving, working around the house, taking a break, or even to help you fall asleep. Listen by yourself or with someone else. I’m sure it will sometimes sound like new content because you are hearing it instead of reading it. I can’t be with you in person, but just as I held you in spirit and heart as I recorded them, you can hold me that way when you listen. We’re not alone any more.

There are 48 recorded blogs, and they are divided into two groups, Part 1 and Part 2. They are not chronologically presented and I made sure that each group had some of the most popular ones. Since starting my website, I have been dedicated to providing materials in every price range, as well as for free. So, I have priced each group at $29US, which matches the lowest price of any resource I provide here, but five hours of recordings in each Part gives you way more material than anything else.

Now you understand this project from the inside out. Sometimes the best thing to do isn’t the sensible, easiest, or cheapest thing to do. I hope you will try one of the audio blog groups, at least. When you click to learn more, you go to my Teachable.com school called “Still Learning”. Click on the information for each group to find the list of blogs included. You can also click on the curriculum and listen to a free preview blog so you get an idea of what it’s like.

My free written blogs will continue on www.yourstoryissafehere.com for those who don’t need to hear my voice at all, and for those who like to have both. Thank you for your support. There may well be a book someday—I’m already seven blogs into a new year and no end in sight!

But I’d like to add a few more thoughts about when you realized you were alone and what that did to you.

Take some time with your own story and locate that moment. Knowing how your own story works can help you to avoid panic ambushes as you mull over the events of your life. The aim is to be in control of your story—not unmoved by it, but knowing where the critical moments are, so that you can take care of yourself when you spend time with that part of the story.

The worst part of realizing we are alone is the slippery slope down to despair and despondency that often follows. I have spoken before about how I began to think about dying almost every day—if not from his hand, then just from anything that would end this nightmare. I did not try to kill myself, but I thought about dying way too much. For a time, I would wake in the morning and my first thought was “Fuck, I’m still alive.”

Being alone in this nightmare is not good for us. When I tried to talk to my (then) husband about the isolation, he told his CSAT who dismissed his concern saying, “Then she should go to COSA meetings.” She didn’t care if I lived or died. Isn’t it interesting that his CSAT who had a codependent relationship with the model through her own addiction never once suggested he could learn how to offer me understanding and compassion? They never ask these men to be adults in an adult relationship of positive mutuality. It’s always about regaining control. If our despair helps that along, it’s just the bonus round.

For those of us who actually engage wives and partners as whole beings, however, the depression, despair, despondency, and hopelessness are not things to so coldly dismiss. I’m not imagining for a minute that listening to me reading my blogs is enough to deal with serious depression and suicidality! So, if you are unable to pull out of a dark place, please contact a crisis or suicide hotline, a mental health professional, or your physician. If you are beyond trying those specific resource options, call your local emergency number. Where I live, it’s 911. Tell them you are on the edge and you afraid you’re going over. With support, you can save yourself. And you are worth it.

Look after yourself. Don’t just think about what he needs. Think about what you need when you are realize you are “suddenly alone.”

Time to talk? Your story is safe here, and you can book a special discounted trial session here:  https://www.yourstoryissafehere.com/coaching/  If you have further questions, contact me: diane@yourstoryissafehere.com/coaching/  You can learn more about the audio blogs here: https://www.yourstoryissafehere.com/audio-blogs

With you,

Diane

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Diane Strickland