Packing for Trigger City

At the end of this week I will put my kids and my mom and her dog in my car and make the 11+ hour drive to our vacation home in New England. Normally we leave closer to Father’s Day in June, but I made the decision pre-DDay to shift our schedule this summer so that my kids could do swim team and tennis camp. Handsome will be home for about two weeks by himself, until he comes to join us for the final two and a half weeks.

The triggers this Summer are plentiful. July 2nd of 2015 was the day he screwed the Whore in a no-tell motel while I was off having lunch with my elderly mom at the seaside resort where he and I had our wedding reception.

Last year at this time I was still in pre-DDay ignorant bliss. Now I know what was going on right under my nose, and while I was away, all unbeknownst to me.

  • As of the day our kids and I left for vacation last Summer, Handsome was involved (emotionally or physically) with four other women.
  • Three days after we left, he and Angel Baby had a 2-day sleepover at our house that included their field trip to the museum, lunch, and drinks.
  • He was in daily contact with The Flame.
  • He was in daily contact with the Whore and in between their sexting he made sure to remind her how I was going out of town for several weeks, that they should get together, and vividly describing all of the sex acts he wanted to perform on her.
  • He was in regular contact with the woman (The Janitor) he took out on a date two days after he returned to town from vacation.

Handsome joined us in New England for about 12 days last Summer. We did fun things as a family and had a great time. Then:

  • He had his date night with The Janitor at the high-end romantic restaurant two days after he returned home.
  • He tries, but ultimately fails, to set up another hotel meet-up with the Whore two days before I get home with the kids (this time offering up a hotel far from her home but right down the road from ours).
  • He remains in daily contact with all of the women.

To say that I’m uncomfortable leaving him by himself is an understatement, but I’m not his mom or a baby monitor. It’s up to him to stay sober. I’ve asked him to double up on his therapy appointments or meetings while I’m away and he has agreed. That’s great, but boredom, loneliness, and unstructured alone time are all problematic for him… which makes them problematic for me.

It does not help that our vacation home – which I owned since before he and I ever started dating and which was always my very hard earned safe haven and happy place – was the site of some of his compulsive behavior. The epic sexting that went on there (complete with photos and videos from our bedroom) during his “work weekends” is still repulsive and vile and pathetic. And there are other triggers and reminders all around me there. I have to turn my head when I drive by the church we got married in… a church where my dad used to put me on his shoulders and take me to puppet shows when I was a little girl and where I take my own kids now for the same events.

Our summer vacations in 2015, 2016, and 2017 are all tainted by his affairs. In particular, in 2016 we took our regular family vacation that included our extended families, and then we took a “secret” trip – just the four of us – and had an absolutely magical week laying on the beach, playing mini-golf, eating ice cream, and relaxing. There were no schedules to juggle, no elderly relatives to please, no pets to take care of, and it was wonderful. “Best secret vacation ever” is how we jokingly and lovingly referred to it. I now know he was texting and sexting the Whore, Angel Baby, and the Flame literally within hours of pulling into our driveway at home.

Could I sell the vacation house and just start spending summers elsewhere? Sure… if I want to give up nearly 50 years of memories with my parents, friends, and our family. I’m not game for that. The skanks and his addiction aren’t going to take any more from me. I’m trying to ensure that I can take all those things back.

It’s all quite overwhelming. I’m trying to stay grounded. I’m trying to practice self-care. I’m just worried that the next few weeks may all be a bit much for me.

8 thoughts on “Packing for Trigger City”

  1. BW, at this moment I’m vacationing in a city where one of the other women lived (I read one of their texts…gag) and I’m not triggered because I cannot allow these c*nts one more ounce of energy. I’m surprised I haven’t been triggered but I’m making a very conscious effort to just enjoy the scenery, weather and moments.

    I really hope you have a great time. As you always do, enjoy the kids and the moments you have with them. Yes some disgusting shit went down that had caused you deep pain and trauma, it’s not happening now so perhaps your vacation will not be triggering but somewhat of a relief in that sense. You will find the good.

    I’ll be thinking of you xoxo

    1. Thank you so much SSA! I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do just that once I’m there. I want to dedicate time to talking with my kids about all of the fantastic memories I have up there from my own childhood, as well as some truly great memories from when each of them were smaller. And I do want to re-take places (like my own f’ing vacation house) that are meaningful to me and build some new great memories. It just seems a tad aspirational and unrealistic at times. One day at a time though…

      I’ll be thinking of you now too. Make great memories!
      🙂 xo

  2. BW, I don’t have any wisdom for you on being triggered. I will share that in couples counseling today, the therapist gently pointed out to me that when I talk about the past incidents, I start to use present tense language. It’s as if, in my mind, it’s happening now. It’s keeping me in a place I don’t want to be, so I have work to do.
    When I read your post, I realize just how much SA truly is a disease. While I see that with my H, it’s hard bc I can’t be objective with him. I’m too hurt, too angry and I get caught up in my feelings. I realized this talking to a recovery friend this wk. She was talking about some behaviors of her spouse that were identical to what mine has done. I felt some sadness, but I mostly just thought about how SA truly is a disease. The acting out partners have little to do with it. They really are being used, even if it’s knowingly and willingly. If it wasn’t them, it absolutely would be someone else. They are only props. Props that are horribly used. I think sooner or later, they see that and it must feel awful even if they don’t care.
    My wish for you is that you have a fun, relaxing time. You deserve it. When I was at my lowest, I would say, “Just for today, I won’t be afraid and I will let myself be happy. I can be afraid and sad tomorrow, if I want, but for today, I’m happy.” xo

    1. Maggie, that’s so interesting. I’m going to have to pay attention to past vs. present tense. I think perhaps in our minds because the harm/ pain is being felt now it’s very easy to refer to the underlying behavior in the present tense. Since it isn’t ongoing in my case -and has been over for almost 8 months – I need to work on that too.

      While I know that there are those who doubt that SA is “real” or, more broadly, that sexually compulsive behavior is addictive, I’m firmly convinced that it’s a disease. The diagnosis is by no means an excuse. My husband heartily agrees with that. It’s just an explanation. And yes, the APs were used too. If it wasn’t x, y, z woman it would have been others. I think at least 3 of Handsome’s APs see that and realize they meant nothing. (I hope they feel like foolish a-holes, but that’s probably asking too much and would require a much greater degree of self-awareness than any of them are capable of having.)

      And I adore the affirmation you used! I’m going to use that while I’m away.
      Thank you!❤️

  3. I also believe that it is very possible you will be less triggered than you think. I have been worried ahead of time many times, only to be pleasantly surprised that I haven’t been affected much at all. Sometimes I have to consciously and intentionally redirect my thoughts, but often the thoughts are fleeting and easily dismissed. And sometimes they don’t end up making an appearance at all!

    Your vacation home sounds lovely. May your time there bring you all the refreshment, peace and joy that your heart needs and desires. xo

      1. Right! A bad hour, a bad day doesn’t have to define your whole vacation. It will just be a part of it mingled in with all the good and great stuff. ❤️

      2. Right! A bad hour or bad day does not define your whole vacation. It is just a part of it mingled in with all the good and great stuff!

Please share if you've had a similar (or totally different!) experience on your journey.