Alana and Luke Gordon On Navigating Betrayal Trauma – Love, Honesty and Control (You Can Only Pick 2)

Alana Gordon and her husband Luke share their story of the highs and lows of navigating a marriage after discovering Luke’s pornography and sex addiction. They talk about what their marriage looked like leading up to the discovery of Luke’s addiction if Alana saw signs before discovery, and what the relationship looked like days, weeks, months, and years after “D-Day.” Alana is the Program Director of WORTH (Women of Rebirth and Therapeutic Healing https://healingwithworth.org/) and the Director of Choose Recovery Services (https://www.chooserecoveryservices.com/). Luke is the Co-Director of Choose Recovery Services and the Director of the Men of Moroni and Sons of Helaman pornography addiction recovery programs (https://lifechangingservices.online/menofmoroni/). 

Tony’s episode about Trauma Bonding on the Healing with WORTH podcast can be heard here https://open.spotify.com/episode/1NCKsJ5ce7oSfhagyaxORi?si=74e1ef1a52bc4421

If you are interested in being coached in Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage Podcast,” please email info@tonyoverbay.com. You will receive free marriage coaching and be kept entirely anonymous when the episode airs. 

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony’s “Magnetize Your Marriage” virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you’ll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony’s pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the “uh’s” and “um’s” that, in his words, “must be created by wizards and magic!” because it’s that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

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[00:00:15] Come on in. Take a seat

[00:00:21] Avery, welcome to Episode 333 of the Virtual Couch. I’m your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, a certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four and creator of The Path Back, a pornography recovery program that is continuing to build momentum and help people overcome turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. So whether you want to call it an addiction, it’s not an addiction. It’s something that’s annoying, something you waste time on. Any kind of unhealthy coping mechanism, the Path Back Recovery program is for you. So I would suggest you go to Tony eBay.com and I have a link there for courses and you can find the path back through there. So coming [00:01:00] up on today’s episode, I have an amazing interview and it’s almost embarrassing to think that the work I do, the couples work that I do, that I really haven’t interviewed couples. And so I interview Luke and Alana Gordon and they are a pretty amazing couple that I had been made aware of from several people because they do a lot of work in the community that I do as well. She is a therapist and she’s also been through betrayal, trauma, and then Luke is her husband, so then he would be considered the betrayer and Alana the betrayed. And Luke is now doing some relationship coaching, some addiction coaching. And so they’re a couple that have really walked the walk.

[00:01:41] And I do so much couples work and I do often work in the world of betrayal, trauma, whether that’s people that have discovered a spouse that is turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms at a at an alarming amount or rate or people that are going through the betrayal from infidelity. Or [00:02:00] there’s also a component of betrayal trauma. When you wake up to the emotional immaturity in a spouse or the narcissistic traits and tendencies in a spouse, where you can also experience that betrayal, trauma, where you feel like you’ve handed a lot of trust over to somebody that then has not had your best interest in mind or is not even really been aware of who you are as a person. So the betrayal trauma world runs deep. And there is I had Sam Thielemans on my podcast a few weeks ago and Sam and I both talked about how we both received our own betrayal trauma training at the same place, and we’ve naturally gone through our own path and working with enough couples where we were somewhat surprised to see that we both have veered away a little bit from the training that we received. And we’re doing similar training where we’re really trying to work with the couple and we’re trying to get them to learn how to communicate better because a lot of times that communication or connection or the ability to communicate and really express your true thoughts and feelings and emotions are what leads to turning to those unhealthy coping mechanisms.

[00:02:59] Individual [00:03:00] work needs to be done when people are going through betrayal, trauma, but also starting to put the pieces back together of how to help a couple communicate. So what I love about today’s episode, Luke and Alana, talk about that entire process. They talk about everything from the initial discovery of Luke’s, what he will call pornography addiction. He said he was deep into addiction. And then Alana as a therapist and she had they had several kids. And I think that she was even about to give birth when one of the discoveries was made. I guess I don’t want to give away everything, but they go through quite a journey and it’s not one where then everything was just great and easy and everything just seemed to just flow. They went through a lot of bumps in the road and so I really appreciate where they are at now, and I also appreciate the realness of their story. And there’s a part in particular I took a clip about maybe three or four minute clip, and I’m going to put that up on YouTube at the same time that I released this episode, because it’s they get to a point where Luke is talking about doing his own work and finally [00:04:00] being able to do some self confrontation and being able to maybe really understand where his unhealthy coping mechanisms stem from and doing that work and being encouraged to share some things with Alana that Alana is and I love the way she talks about this.

[00:04:14] She in essence says, Wait a minute, you can’t criticize me or you can’t bring any of that into our marriage because you’re the one that that cheated. You’re the one that betrayed me. And so then the stuff that she says next is beautiful and it can I really feel like it can only be said from the the place of the person who has been betrayed. And I feel like, as I haven’t been the betrayer, I haven’t been the betrayed. And so while I feel so comfortable in working in this space, you feel it. You feel that in particular connection. When Luke and Alana are talking, that video is going to be up on YouTube as a small clip and then this interview will be there as well. If you want to take a look at the interview and video form. And before I get to that really quick, speaking of couples and working with them, I have several recordings now under my [00:05:00] Belt of the Magnetic Marriage podcast of doing the actual coaching, using my four pillars and differentiation, talking about validation and courage.

[00:05:08] And do you want love or do you want control? I couldn’t be happier with the way that the recordings have gone up to this point. So we still have a lot of people that are reaching out saying that they would be interested in being a couple. That will be. Coached anonymously. And if that is you, if you’re on the fence or if you’re interested, just send me an email at info at Tony Overbay or you can go to my website, Tony eBay.com, and just shoot me a message to the contact form. And if you want to know more about when this podcast will launch, and again, I had an idea what it would look like to coach couples, but I just think it’s going to be really helpful for people that maybe haven’t been to couples therapy before or wonder what that even looks like to just watch or listen actually listen to these couples. And again, they’re anonymous, but the issues they brought into the coaching call so far have just been just we’re getting a representation of I think about everything [00:06:00] that I see in my office and probably a situation that you may be going through, even if you feel like your marriage isn’t horrible, but you would like for it to be better. So if you want to know more about when that is coming out again, it’s going to be a subscription based podcast.

[00:06:11] It’s going be very affordable. The cost is going to be well under one session of therapy for me, for an entire year’s worth of access to this podcast, it’s going to be the Magnetic Marriage Podcast. Go to Tony over eBay.com and sign up for my newsletter, which I don’t do a lot with right now. But you’ll be one of the first people to know when that is going to be available. And if you want to get that coaching, then send a message to info at Tony over and let me know that you’re interested in and I’ll have one of my assistants reach back out to you and set that up. So thank you for the feedback that I’ve already got from that, my man. I’ll try that again. My magnetic marriage workshop is still up there behind a paywall $19, and then my full magnetic marriage course that I created with Preston Meier. We’re going to have a bit of an evergreen course that is going to be up there and it is going to be available for [00:07:00] purchase coming up soon. So a lot of really exciting things that have to do with marriage and improving your marriage. So that’s coming up. But now let me get to the interview with Luke and Alana Gordon. And I realize I didn’t talk to you.

[00:07:12] I didn’t tell you a whole lot about them. And I think even at one point in the interview, I say, I’m sure I’ve covered all of this in the intro, you can find them and I’ll put the links here. And a lot of Gordon is the director of Worth and worth is Women of Rebirth Therapeutic Healing. A few weeks ago, I talked about going on the Healing with Worth podcast where I did a very lengthy episode on Trauma Bonds. And I just I love that interview because I was just given the space to start literally from the womb on to talk about what creates a trauma bond with an unhealthy person or emotionally immature person. And that started me down this path where actually now I’m working with one of my assistants. Naomi is from that group, and she was one of the people who actually interviewed me on that podcast episode. And then she got me in touch with Luke and Alana, and then we just had an amazing experience with this interview, so [00:08:00] I’ll put the links there if you want to listen more to their podcast on Betrayal Trauma, and I’ll also put a link to their Choose Recovery Services as well as healing with worth dot org. And you can find a lot there on men’s addiction and also on betrayal trauma. So let’s get to that interview with Luke and Alana.

[00:08:17] Courtney, come on and take a seat, you.

[00:08:24] Looking in. Welcome to the virtual couch. Thanks for coming on.

[00:08:28] Thank you for having us.

[00:08:29] Yeah. And I was talking off the mic. I think that sounds very cool when people say that. But I was admitting to Luke and Alana that I’m 340 episodes and I don’t feel like I’ve done one where I’ve had a couple come on to tell their story and I’ve had a couple of betrayal trauma experts, and I’ve done a lot of episodes around pornography, but I feel like this is a very new experience and I’m so excited. And I had vulnerably asked Luke and Alana if they wouldn’t mind driving, even though I’m no egomaniac and saying, This is my show, so you must answer question. So I, like you guys mentioned you’ve told your story. [00:09:00] I think, Luke, you had mentioned about a million times, right? We’ll try to see if we can get something new in there. That would be my hope or my goal. So how does the story where do you guys start? Feel free to start whenever you want.

[00:09:10] Well, first of all, if you’ve had if you’ve done this many and this is your first time with a couple, hopefully after us, you’ll want to do a couple again. True. So we’ll see how that goes. But yeah. Along to any particular place. Do you want to start? Do you want me to start?

[00:09:24] I think just starting with we we got married and for years everything on the surface looked great. We were both happy. We were chugging along. About eight years into the marriage, it came out that Luke had looked at pornography. Didn’t surprise me.

[00:09:47] I was. Yeah. Why was it didn’t surprise you? Do you see signs leading up to it or had there been things that you had?

[00:09:54] No, no, I didn’t see any signs. It wasn’t something that was really on my radar. I wasn’t [00:10:00] too concerned about it. But I grew up with five older brothers. And so I just kind of had this idea in my head of, you know, what guys struggle sometimes, and if it comes up, you just deal with it, you move on. And so about eight years into her marriage, when it came out, I was upset because he had been hiding it. But I basically had this mentality of, well, go fix it, go off. You take care of it, you go fix it. Don’t talk to me about.

[00:10:27] It, okay? And maybe and.

[00:10:28] I mean, tell me that.

[00:10:29] It’s all taken care of or it’s it’s it is no more. Was that the expectation?

[00:10:35] Oh, for sure. Yeah. The expectation was is and Luke, you can talk about this, but he basically said, okay, now that it’s all out, it’s over. Yeah. Like I’ve hit it for so long. Now that I’ve shared it, I’m never going to do it again. And that sounded good to me. So we just kept going along. I would check in with him probably every six months [00:11:00] and just say, Hey, how you doing with this? Good. Doing good, doing good. And we went that way for another six years and in 2014, everything changed. The whole story came out. And that is when we kind of look at our story really starting.

[00:11:20] And I appreciate it. So maybe if you’re okay, I’ll go back and do a little bit of framework and then we’ll we’ll get to that 2014. I am curious and first of all, I will hope that I will have mentioned this in the intro, but you guys are both mental health professionals, correct?

[00:11:33] Yeah.

[00:11:33] Okay. When did you start practicing? Was it before you were married or after you were married? Or tell me about that.

[00:11:39] So a lot of do you want to describe your role and then I’ll describe mine?

[00:11:44] Sure. Yeah. So I’m a marriage and family therapist today. I was in school when everything came out, but I was on a different trajectory. I had a different idea of where my life was going to go. But after going through all of this, it kind [00:12:00] of shifted me well. And so now marriage and family therapist is specializing in betrayal, trauma and sexual addictions.

[00:12:07] So that wasn’t where were you heading before this all came out? What was your career trajectory? What were you thinking about?

[00:12:13] I was going to be a nurse. Okay, totally different career. I joke that same type of career instead of helping people and fixing bodies. Now I’m fixing brains and emotions.

[00:12:25] So now I love it. I do. And then, Luke, what were you doing? Tell me about your career path.

[00:12:30] So I’ve spent a lifetime in the cells, you know, served in the mission, didn’t have any blue collar family, grew up where my dad’s a diesel cab. Grandpa was a farmer collar, got off a mission and some company out there decided it was the best thing to do ever. To hire a missionary. Yes, to sell stuff because of their thick skin. So I found that I had a knack for it early on and I really enjoyed it. And I think a lot of that sells autonomy, led into a lot of freedom that got [00:13:00] me into trouble. Also fed into my ego, didn’t help with things that had to do with my addiction. So as soon as 2014 hit and our life started to look a lot different, I started, I don’t know, after a couple of years, two or three years, I’m like, You know what? I’m really enjoying spending time talking to men and this and this and this environment. So I decided to go be a. A therapist. I wanted to be a therapist, so I went back to school to go on that path. Then along the journey, one of my mentors said, Look, before you get there, you could actually do some coaching around this, some addiction recovery coaching. And. And I said, no, if I could do that, I don’t think anybody’s going to want to take mop up on. I’m still and besides it’s a casual conversation. But anyway it turned into something and and I actually didn’t become a therapist and just spent my whole entire time on betrayal, trauma and addiction recovery coaching. What I do now.

[00:13:58] And as a therapist is [00:14:00] I did ten years in a different career and then changed. And I do find that those of us that then find our way into the field, I don’t know. I don’t know if you guys just you eat it, you drink it, you sleep it. I mean, you found your thing. I love that because I have a so many people that listen will end up emailing me and talking about entering the mental health field because of the things they’ve been through. And I think that is that they make the best mental health professionals. Now, I had the name drop in Jennifer Finlayson Fife. She was on a couple of weeks ago. And we were talking though about, okay, we both went into it hearing that people would go become a therapist to work on their own stuff. And we were both saying, well, not me, but until then I realized, oh, 100% me. That was that was absolutely so. I love hearing you guys story with that, too. When did you get married?

[00:14:42] 2002.

[00:14:44] Okay.

[00:14:44] So 2003, we got married. And I would just say the add ons at the beginning of a long story, when we met each other, it was best friends for sure. Day one we clicked at a whole nother level. I think both of us just really, really enjoyed being around [00:15:00] each other. But at that point in my life, just getting off of a mission, not necessarily being very I didn’t have a high self esteem. I didn’t have a high level of self-worth because of addiction, still being in place on my mission and still being so definitely feeling in place of a life of duplicity. I got when I found Ilana and got into that relationship, it was really just head over heels over her, but not really sure of myself or my foundation. So such so much of myself was coming from that relationship because I was used to a life of duplicity. As soon as I got married and my past with pornography entered the marriage and I wasn’t used to the act of truth telling, there was no way I was going to share the truth once and had entered into marriage.

[00:15:46] And look, were you the classic when you get married, I’m sure it will all go away and you get that. Yeah.

[00:15:50] Marriage.

[00:15:51] Absolutely.

[00:15:52] Yeah. And that sort. And I think that was I was definitely an always get caught kind of person compared to actively coming [00:16:00] and telling somebody. So as soon as I got in the marriage, I was just convinced that Alana would I don’t know what she would do, but I was it wasn’t going to be good. So I hit it from the very beginning and never disclosed it. That 2000 6007 experienced one I spoke to. Yeah, I was already at that point, unfortunately, in the throes of addiction and acting out with other people. Strip clubs, massage parlors, all that stuff. And pornography was an insatiable disease for me. It wasn’t just a little bit. It was a lot. So definitely two different lives going on. So when she when it came out in 2006, 2007, I was not in the space where I was going to share anything above what I was caught with. It was going to. So when she said, Hey, go get yourself fixed, I’m like, okay, that was scary enough. I just will never do that other stuff again that she doesn’t know about. But I pretty much dedicated myself [00:17:00] to just taking it to the grave. Just that because I had no I didn’t see how I keep my family so selfish, so self-centered, but just that’s the way my life had been up to that point.

[00:17:12] And I appreciate the way you’re framing that to Luke. And Alana is a betrayal. Trauma Therapist two I know we talk so often about the concept of disclosure, and I’m just speaking this, I think to the universe. I know that when this happens, no one presses the pause button and then goes and tries to figure out, Okay, what’s the very best way to make this day or whatever that looks like happened? And I had Jeff Stewart on and we were talking about people just they do they give as little as they can. And whether it’s coming from a place of, I don’t want to hurt her or I don’t want to deal with all of this. And so that staggered disclosure is such a normal part of this process. And so there’s a part of me that has I’ve had a couple of people respond when they’ve heard a couple of the episodes about betrayal that are ready to confess or talk to their spouse. I almost want to put a pause here and say, Alana, do you have advice [00:18:00] for someone? Let’s say it’s somebody that’s in Luke’s position that’s hearing this and is then mustering up the courage that is going to open up or confess this to a spouse. What advice would you give about that confession?

[00:18:11] Oh, that’s a good question. Everyone’s story is so different. But the thing that I wanted more than anything in the world was just the truth. I told him, I said, I can handle. Probably just about anything. But when I can’t handle this, the lies. And that was more damaging than anything else. Now, you’ve heard his laundry list. There was a lot that I had to work through and heal from. But at its foundation, it was that line and that secrecy that was so hurtful and soapy. And so I just I just need the truth.

[00:18:47] I appreciate the way you’re saying that to and what Luke’s saying, where the addict typically does not want to share everything. They’re going to go to the grave. And a lot of when you’re saying I just wanted the truth.

[00:18:58] Yeah, it’s so interesting because [00:19:00] in 2014, Luke was caught again. And when he shared at this point about some of the other people and he still even then only gave me part of the truth, and that was him really trying to own it. But there was so much self deception for so many years that he didn’t even have consciously aware all of the layers and levels. And so my advice is work with a professional. Yes, do a full disclosure because it slows the process down. It really allows you to go through and make sure we’re not missing these pieces. Because even with him trying, I still got that staggered disclosure for months and every time it just felt like he were hit by the bus again and hit by the bus again. And so for my couples who now and I was one where I’m like, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me something. [00:20:00] I couldn’t get enough information. But when I’m working with the Betrayed, who is saying, just tell me, tell me, tell me. I’m really working with them? On trying to slow them down because there are certain pieces of information you can’t unhear and Luke didn’t know or have the skills to know what was helpful and what was actually really painful and harmful. And so having a professional help him know what to share, how to share was actually really healing for both of us.

[00:20:30] I remember this is well, this is what went through my mind. So 2014 had it was 811 in the morning on a Thursday, 20 June 26, 2014. I get an email from Alanna titled US and she says in this email she’s like, Luke, I know you’re back in the pornography. I’m aware of it. And she said other things like, Have you been to the strip club? Have you ever cheated on me? Obviously, she found a history that made her go like, Something’s going on here. And she said, I can take anything, but I can’t take the lies. And I held [00:21:00] on to that so tightly. And I went, she said, I can take anything, but I can’t take the lies. I am going to take this opportunity to share with her the truth. Which was interesting because I didn’t have my head wrapped around the truth at all, and I went home and shared with her, and all of a sudden I found stuff coming out of my mouth and I’m like, because she started to ask questions and I started to give her numbers. I started to give her people, and I was just like, Oh, crap, I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to accurately give her everything that she needs. So I left the house that day. She broke into a million pieces, and I found myself in the next couple of days going like. Oh, you’re not even close to sharing everything. And I felt in my brain like, Luke, if you don’t get it all out, you’re going to hold on to pieces and parts and you’re going to go back to the life you used to live. But I didn’t really know how. The funny thing was, is back in 2007, when everything came out about the pornography [00:22:00] use, I found myself in a therapist’s office thinking to myself, I really, really want to share everything, but I don’t know how to.

[00:22:08] I remember asking the therapist this. I said, Hey, can I share with you? I was so scared to say this. Can I share with you what can I share with you? And you not tell anybody else? What can you share, not tell anybody else? And she goes, Well, if it’s illegal, I have to share or share it with other people. And I’m like, I don’t know if what I’ve done is illegal or not. Like this lady might call the cops on me. I don’t know what’s going to happen. So I didn’t share because I didn’t know how to. So you didn’t ask me? You asked Alana. But I’m going to go ahead and share, if you don’t mind. What would you tell other people? Yes, I would say to become truthful, you can’t do it on your own. You have to have somebody that can help you become truthful and get clarity on your experience. And speaking to the spouse, the betrayed my invitation is is if your if [00:23:00] your husband has been is lack truth and integrity in his life, he’s going to need a professional to help him find the truth. And I just understand that I have so much empathy for you that you want it so badly, but give him up to somebody else to have him find the truth so you can get it for yourself and let go of that process of needing that. And I don’t know how hard that is. So much love and so much empathy for that for you.

[00:23:26] Yeah, look what I like about that because we all three work in this space. I intentionally say this, we’re going to intentionally kick that can down the road. I like what Alana said about that. You can’t unhear certain things. Look, I really appreciate your perspective of you didn’t know how to fully open up because, boy, I felt like we probably all had this experience I just shared on an episode last week. I was talking about implicit and explicit memory, the landscape of what it feels like to be you. And I was talking about how I become fascinated by what we do for a living. We see certain patterns over and over, and the person [00:24:00] that is expressing themselves doesn’t even know that, that we know that they may not be being open or truthful. And I talk about this. I’ve got a dentist friend who I say, when the guy says to you, Yeah, I floss and you see those puffy gums, you know, he doesn’t floss. You know, that happened that morning, but he doesn’t really know how confident you are that you know. And so what I like, Luke, is when you’re saying that you weren’t even sure how to open up, I feel like we probably all been in that position where somebody is laying out a narrative and you can say, okay, wait, wait, go back to this and you watch. I think that moment where I know if you guys are familiar with the concept of it’s called confabulation, which is this emotional, immature, narcissistic confabulation is changing that narrative in real time to fit who I feel like I’m supposed to be. And I feel like I feel like that you have that confabulation piece is wild because you watch it with interrogation videos. I’m obsessed with those. Or when somebody really is hit with this moment of accountability, they can fabricate in real time. And I feel like that man. Luke, the way you’re laying that out, I’ve never thought of it that way [00:25:00] of not even being sure how to do this and knowing the professional does can help. So I appreciate that so much.

[00:25:08] You know, and even as a professional.

[00:25:11] Well, I was just going to say it’s so interesting because you asked me earlier, Tony, you said, did I have any signs? And the first time everything came out, the answer was no, because at that time I was really naive. And I can see now I was really in denial. I was not ready to know or see the second time in 2014. He’s telling me all of these crazy things, and while I am utterly shocked at the same time, it just I kept going. It makes sense. Yeah, it makes sense. And so now I was willing and ready to see and I could go back and all of the signs were there. There was so much pieces that all of a sudden were just beginning to fall into place. A [00:26:00] Because I was willing and ready to see them and be just like you said, these things were happening. I just didn’t have an understanding or a narrative to make sense of it.

[00:26:11] And what I love, I got a little chills there because I love when all the pieces come together and new ways that I hadn’t thought of. I mean, we all can fabricate to a point. It’s the well, no, that can’t be what’s happening. That doesn’t fit my narrative of what the relationship would be like. And so I feel like so often early in relationships where we’re absolutely given the person, I must have not seen that right or I must have not done that. So I love your explanation there too. I go too much to this hack bit of the what? It’s the Bruce Willis movie, The Sixth Sense, where you find out at the end. Spoiler alert for 30 year old movie. That he was dead the whole time. And then when you go back through the movie, it’s Oh yeah. So I feel like L.A. maybe what.

[00:26:46] You.

[00:26:47] Write and then you’re like, Okay, when you did this, that was okay. I got you. Okay. So then, man, thank you. I really I appreciate the way this is laying out. So then where do we go from here?

[00:26:57] You know, I think processes is just along [00:27:00] the journey of after 2014, you know, what looked like a little bit for us. So I get it. What I end up doing is, is getting I recognize that I need to get all of the truth out and I haven’t found a therapist yet at that point. It took me about six weeks to find a therapist at about six weeks of of going to an addiction recovery group, a 12 step group from the from our church and going like, okay, I don’t know what to do, trying to work my path. And so I get out a piece of paper and I write down everything that I can possibly remember. And I remember at that moment I wrote down places, I wrote people down ever frequency, just trying the best I can. I remember sending it to him, sending this saying this piece of paper to a lot of via email. I scanned it in and I send it to her, and that was similar to the first experience. I’m like, Look, you’re killing your marriage when you hit sin. Look, you’re killing your marriage once you say you were unfaithful. [00:28:00] And I remember sending it and a lot of getting it. We were so on our own in that part of the journey. And I remember, just like I said, nights and days and phone calls of her digging out of me. True. Like that. I mean, a lot of you were fighting so hard for truth, and I’m just like, I already told you the truth. I already told you the truth because all I did was gave her the big yeah and I was blown away, Tony and confused. No, away is not the right word. So confused of why the little details matter. I’m like, you know, the big stuff. So why are we focused on these little details? You’re just hurting yourself. And we spent so much energy from a lack of having a professional through those first six weeks, trying to figure out what was going on in our lives at that point.

[00:28:48] What I appreciate about that is Elena, as a therapist and somebody who’s been through that, I mean, I would love to hear what your experience is there, because I do find and that’s why I so appreciated when you said you can’t unhear certain things, because I feel like [00:29:00] I often when even trying to kick that can down the road where the spouse just wants to drop into that question mode. And I often say there’s a fascinating book called On Being Certain, which says that our brain craves this certainty and that it feels like it knows what the feeling of a math problem feels like. I know what two plus two is four feels like. So I would really like that for this situation. And almost every question is me saying, maybe this will get it, maybe this will get it, maybe this will get it. Was that your experience? Do you feel like there’s some truth there?

[00:29:26] Yes. And I felt like every little bit of information I got created some sense of safety. Oh, I had this like dual experience where like on one hand I’m going, okay, that helps. I need to know that. And on the other hand, I’m literally shaking uncontrollably, like my hands are shaking and my body is shaking and I’m having a trauma response. I didn’t know that at the time, but being so incredibly cold and shaking, but at the same time saying, Give me more, give me more. So on one hand, [00:30:00] it was so torturous and on the other hand, that was me trying to seek for safety. And it was really interesting at the time. I just felt like I was going crazy because I went from being this really on top of my life in control, confident woman to what felt like overnight. I was a puddle. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t talk straight. I remember for like six months my kids ate cold cereal because I couldn’t cook food. I remember the first time making a grocery list and just sobbing because I was capable of making a grocery list. And so this massive shift, what’s interesting is because I was kind of confident and feeling like I was in control of my life, the timing of when everything came out, I find it really interesting because I was two weeks away from having a baby and he moved out.

[00:30:58] I said, You have [00:31:00] to go right after everything came out. So I have this newborn baby, baby number five. So I have five kids. I’m living alone with a newborn. I’ve got all of the hormones and I have all of this trauma. And I really look back and because it really was absolutely more than I was capable of handling, that forced me to say, this is too much I have to get, okay. I’m the type of person where I would have been like, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m going, I’m going crazy, but I’m fine. And I look back with, I don’t know if gratitude is the right word, but I look back with some level of. Our attitude that the timing of it kind of forced me to say, this is too much and I need a professional because me trying to power through and say I’m fine, all it was doing was prolonging the pain, getting with a professional who gave me permission to say, Hey, [00:32:00] you’re not crazy. This is you’re having a trauma response. Ptsd, the same PTSD, the nightmares, the flashbacks, all of these things that are happening is the same type of PTSD that people who are in car accidents or go to war. So you’re not crazy and there are steps that you can start healing. So let me start walking you through it. That was so essential.

[00:32:23] How often were you meeting with with a therapist at that point? Initially?

[00:32:27] In the beginning, I was about every other week, but I was going to two different types of every week, one with a therapist and one just a church support group. So on average, it was 2 to 3 times a week that I was getting.

[00:32:43] And then were you also and I and if you maybe give me a minute on that, too, because I feel like sometimes people feel overwhelmed with all of the data, but then I feel like, boy, that is so helpful as well. I don’t know. Were you able to find that balance?

[00:32:56] There were periods. There were times where I just could not read enough [00:33:00] or get enough information because any type of information you get, you’re becoming more empowered. Knowledge is power, and it gave me understanding, like it started making him make sense and what he was doing makes sense, and it helped me make sense of my experience. But then there were other times where it was just a lot and I needed to just sit down on the path, not unpack and live in one spot. But there were times where I just had to just let it be okay that right now I just need to breathe and not do anything other than just take care of me and my kid.

[00:33:33] Yeah.

[00:33:34] And I would go back and forth between both of those.

[00:33:36] How long was that period where you guys were separated?

[00:33:39] Four months. Three months?

[00:33:41] Yeah, three or four months. We ended up moving so that that ended the separation.

[00:33:46] What was that like for you during that time? I mean, is there that I appreciate what you’re saying, you’re still trying to unpack things, figure yourself out? Did you feel that in essence of that relief as well as things were out, or were you feeling what were your feelings?

[00:33:59] No, no, [00:34:00] there was there was definitely no relief. The minute things left my mouth, it was like, what did you do? Like.

[00:34:08] Oh, yeah.

[00:34:08] This is as bad as you thought it was going to be. Like, there was no relief for a period of time. So really quickly what happened was so my life was really just made up of making, just making sure other people like me saw me in a certain way. And for the first time really in my life, I think it was like you have no control anymore of what people how people see you. They see exactly what you were afraid of. So I think this, like Alanna said, timing was really important here for me because my job wasn’t going that well. It wasn’t that happy with just a lot of different things in my life. My marriage wasn’t that it was was struggling in some areas, so timing mattered. So when she said, Hey, look, I want you to leave, I want you out of the house, I was like, Yeah, make sense. I’m out of here. But I’m like, [00:35:00] I don’t know where to go. So there was a period of time where I was kind of homeless and then packing up all my clothes, getting in my car, and I’m like, I don’t know where I’m going right now. Like, I don’t have anywhere to go find a hotel for a week to then finding a wonderful man will forever be indebted to him. They gave me his basement to live in and it was a dark basement and just really horrible circumstances for what I was used to. And that part of the journey was was really, really important for me to go from a place of being completely in control of my narrative, to no control of my narrative. Everybody knew what was going on and really helpful.

[00:35:44] Okay. And I was going to say that that word so helpful. I was going to say, how hard was that? Did you go to would you spend periods in shame? I mean, was there was the temptation stronger? Or sometimes I talk about clients having the, you know, the scared straight period. So they have a little bit of runway there. [00:36:00] What was that like for you?

[00:36:01] Yeah, that’s that’s that’s a good way to put it to me. I love that. Yeah, definitely scared. I think the straight part was I had no desire to touch my addiction. Like I remember probably about two months in the first time I felt a tinge of wanting to experience masturbation and I scared the crap out of me. I’m like, Oh my gosh, I must be right back into it. I was so afraid of any moment I was going to go back into my addiction because I’d never been free and I’ve long, long enough for it. So I was scared straight in that fact. But I also recognize, as I can look back, you know, there was no going to be scared straight where I could just have a bad enough experience that I was going to ever go back. But it gave me the runway I needed to get time to. Rewire it in certain areas and come up with something to fill the hole. So it was a lot of work that needed to be done. And that’s what scares me about so many men that I’m around. They have that fear, they have that horrible experience, but literally nothing’s changing. They’re just going like, Well, I’m done now. I’m never going to do that again. And I’m like, Oh, I’ll.

[00:36:58] Be right there.

[00:36:59] That’s not.

[00:36:59] Yeah, [00:37:00] I say, I want to I want to intentionally take what you just said there, and we’re clipping this bad boy and putting this wherever we can, because I feel like that is I still remember one of the first people I ever worked with when I didn’t know what I was doing. And just knowing that that boy knowing at that point a guy coming into the office saying, look, no, I’m caught, I get it, we’re good. And I really I don’t want to hear I don’t want her to keep on me about it. It’s out. We’re done. You know, I’m okay and I’m so brand new going like, okay, well, he seems like he gets it, so that’s cool, right? You know, and now knowing. Oh, no, no, no, that runway now, boy, you got to work your butt off to build those tools and skills. And I like what you said, I guess start rewiring that brain. So that’s why I like it when I refer to that. You got this scared straight path and I feel like it has I don’t know, it has a finite amount of time and you better make good use of that.

[00:37:46] So yeah, I remember the only place that I would feel peace or hope was in my therapist’s office and I was like, I remember going, Can I meet with you like twice a week? Can we do longer than an hour? Because that’s the only place I felt any [00:38:00] type of direction, peace, hope. And it was so an easy like, oops, it’s okay, slow down. We’ve got a mountain to move and you got to spoon to do it with.

[00:38:09] Well, I like that.

[00:38:10] And I just so appreciated him because there was so much accountability, there was so much I could it was totally a safe environment to show up and say whatever I could. I could be scared, I could be angry, I could be I could have a ton of shame. Shame. Yeah. So this is the part when I remember not knowing this word at all, and I remember the only one of the only times I was angry with God, which in my was kind of funny, but I was angry with God. But I’m like I started to identify shame was the thing that would help me captive and kept me in secret. And I’m like, Why did God allow this feeling that I couldn’t give a name to? Exactly why did he allow me to have a feeling that would keep me in hiding? And I remember calling lot and just feeling like just want to talk like furious. Like just just about this feeling that I had, just being so angry about it. And then [00:39:00] I remember my pathway being devoted to uncover what this was all about and realizing something very, very beautiful was on this pathway of becoming known. And Tony, you know, it’s funny because my number one thing in my life is I love it when people say, hey, Luke, you’re good enough or you’re awesome or you’re cool. Like, I get so much dopamine from that experience. Like, it’s amazing and realizing that it was so not going to be something sustainable and hiding. But I would get that same experience of Luke, you’re cool. I like you when I was the most vulnerable, when I let them more walls down than anything, and then it just finally becomes sustainable.

[00:39:43] You know, I just was looking at literally this morning, I know. I think I was I was looking at Alana. Maybe in your background, you have some EMDR training as well.

[00:39:51] Is that I do brain.

[00:39:53] Oh, okay. I love it. So I was looking at some of that in when Luke was talking. And I think for people that haven’t been and I just pulled this up, [00:40:00] I had written this down on some of my notes, but just talking about initial talk therapy where people would feel this positive relationship with the therapist, and so then they’re able to basically express a negative event in the safety of somebody that’s that is that cares or is there for them. And that that is this whole new process. And it was talking about how, boy, that can be something pretty powerful. And then things like brain spotting, EMDR, those then can just bump that up next level. And so I really like the way you shared that, Luke. And I think we have had all, probably all of us spend those experiences where the person does want to meet more often and, and, you know, and I love that. But then I wonder if sometimes, yeah, that’s the new dopamine bump is the right.

[00:40:39] Right. So so that’s.

[00:40:42] A good point. And then, so how were you guys interacting when you were apart that for months, were you communicating very much at that point?

[00:40:49] That’s a good question. In the beginning, I was in so much pain. So there was that season of me asking a million questions. I would say that lasted a week [00:41:00] or two and then I realized I could see how painful his presence was to me and how every time he came around my whole body was just having massive fight, fight it, and it would alternate on which one showed up. And so I went no contact. In the beginning we switched to our I just said we can contact around the kids, but I can’t see you. I can’t hear from you. I need no contact. He did ask. He said, Can I write you letters? And I said, Well, I don’t know if I’ll read them, but you can email me. And if I read them, I read them, but I refuse to respond to them. What he didn’t know at the time is I read every single letter. I was searching through them, trying to see is there change? Can there even be change from this? And those letters also gave me insight into his. And on one hand, they were helpful. But on [00:42:00] the other hand, well, they’re helpful in both ways. But I could see in his writing, while he was in the depths of his own despair, I could see how broken, how much of a bigger deal this really was that I didn’t know.

[00:42:18] And it was giving me insights that were very uncomfortable but very important because it allowed me some more kind of a reality check that this isn’t if you stay in this marriage. And I did not expect to see marriage. I actually like a year and a half in said the pain is too much. I want a divorce. I’m done. And it was probably a good two years before I really chose to stay in the marriage. And I would say even maybe four years before I really emotionally gave everything to the marriage. Yeah, it was a long journey, but as I was going through this period of seeing where he was, it allowed me to have a more [00:43:00] realistic idea or clarity of how much healing he needed to do, because I wanted him to hear a podcast and then all of a sudden that area of his life, and then he hears this and now he’s good. And I was I was so mad at him so many times and so impatient with him when he wasn’t just figuring this out. I needed so much patience in this journey for his recovery.

[00:43:30] Yours.

[00:43:31] Or mine. And I really.

[00:43:33] Struggled. Oh, I can’t. Oh, can I? Please do. I can’t imagine that. Yeah.

[00:43:37] I still get goose bumps here and I want to talk about that stuff and I just love it and I hated it so much. Then when she said, Look, I don’t want any contact and subconsciously I’m like, Well, look, that means it’ll never work out. Because if you can’t be there to show you how you’re healing and getting better, this isn’t going to be. So I think my sending letters was my attempt to maintain some type of control know. [00:44:00] And I remember literally the first email so painful I sent to her and I said, I’m sending you this email. And I said something like, I know you left. No, when you let me back, what did I say when I know when you let me back or I know you left me and you said, let me be very clear in the response. I did not leave you. You left, okay?

[00:44:23] Yes. You told everybody at work that I kicked you out. He went around and he was I call it playing the. Oh, yes. He was getting sympathy. So he told everyone, my wife kicked me out. My wife kicked me out. And I said, just like you said. Look, let me make it very clear. Your choices are the reason you’re. Yeah, you made this choice. You left our family. I did not own that.

[00:44:49] What I think is so fascinating is when Elena was telling that, I almost jumped in and I thought, well, no, it must not be this way. Because I was going to say, when Elena is reading the letters, I feel like, oh, yeah, she’s seeing emotional immaturity [00:45:00] as you see in a victim stance. Or is she saying, I realize this is me? And so that’s where I feel like even being able to know what to look for there of where there’s the passive aggressive taking ownership. So you were watching that whole process as well.

[00:45:14] Yes. And I love that you just highlighted that because. Exactly. There was no awareness of my.

[00:45:21] Yeah.

[00:45:22] It was. This was so hard for him. And he did apologize, but it still always came back to him. He wasn’t capable of seeing yet. He wasn’t capable of seeing beyond himself and his writing and his experience. And that emotional maturity was just covered in those pages. And so when Luke says it’s it’s uncomfortable, like both of us, we go back and look at those emails or those journal entries. Yeah, it’s pretty cringeworthy.

[00:45:51] It’s gross. It’s gross.

[00:45:54] I don’t mean to laugh and snort, but cringe worthy and gross now. But what a role that played. It sounds like throughout that [00:46:00] initial process.

[00:46:01] And a lot of I could see that distance being detrimental or possibly the end of the marriage was being that way. But I’m just like, no, that’s exactly what we needed because I had to be alone with myself when she wouldn’t be around. And I hated that so much. I hated being by myself with my thoughts and my experiences and my path.

[00:46:22] What’d you do with that? Yeah. Where did they go and what did you do with that?

[00:46:26] They’re just so heavy, so dark. And I’m like, just I hated myself so much. I remember looking in the mirror going like, I didn’t like to look in the mirror at myself, like in the eyes before D-Day and after D-Day. It was that much harder. And I remember one time getting up in the morning, not wanting to do life and looking in the mirror and going, Who is this guy in the mirror? And I really needed to find that out. And that was the journey. And I needed to be alone with God, with other individuals, not alone, alone, but alone with with the outcome, [00:47:00] to really understand what was going what was going on.

[00:47:03] And I know you guys have some programs and we’ll talk about those, too, and other people that listen to my podcast in my recovery work I talk about and what I appreciate what you just said there because I talk about I have these voids I basically identify of, you know, they typically don’t feel connected as a parent and their marriage and their faith and their health and then their career. And so really trying to find those things out to then help people turn toward living that more of a whole life versus the turning to the unhealthy coping mechanisms. So how did you find yourself? What did you do during that time?

[00:47:33] Searching for the truth, looking at my past, my history, going through and seeing that going through some family of origin stuff, seeing how my family of origin affected my behavior, how I showed up in my life. Just remember hearing my therapist say for the first time, Hey, Luke, you’re not your choices. When I said, I said in my mind, I’m like, No, you’re wrong. That’s not true. I am my choices. You are what you eat. And I said, But I said, [00:48:00] I hope and I’m not taking the Lord’s name and I’m actually talking to him. I said, I hope to God you are right. I said, I hope to God you are right that I am not my choices, I am not my behavior. And that was that process of learning to be alone, to see my behavior and the figuring out and not having a lot of there to reassure me or telling me that I’m bad or needed to build strength within myself.

[00:48:24] So moving away from that, I often talk about the concept of external validation, right? When we need somebody else to make us feel better often joke that the chance they’re going to say that right thing is pretty slim. And then I get to say, they don’t care about me and I’m a piece of garbage. So when we’re looking for a life full of external validation, man, that is some shaky ground. So being okay with yourself? Yeah. How long did that process take for you to feel like you were you felt pretty comfortable with yourself?

[00:48:48] Well, I think I’ve still got I think I’ve got two years, over eight years of this thing. And and I made a lot of it’s been a hockey stick thing. It took a little while and now it’s well, it’s kind of the opposite of a hockey stick. [00:49:00] It was learning a lot about fame, about me and other people, seeing it being a nice guy. I like the nice guy that there’s a lot for me. But still, I’m constantly needing to be aware of why I do what I do. Am I doing it for other people? Am I doing it for my image? Am I doing it so I’m well liked or am I? Can I look inwardly and realize I’m enough outside of what other people.

[00:49:24] See.

[00:49:25] And wanting to be authentic? And I appreciate this world because, Tony, you and I are here talking about the value of authenticity, and I believe that. But I have to come back that over again and remember why I believe because I’ll get off from.

[00:49:39] Yeah, okay. And that makes that does make it. And I appreciate you saying that it’s this constant journey because I feel like I have to continually look through this lens of am I doing something from a healthy ego or am I still looking for validation? Because if we are, then I’m am I still looking to say the right thing? What do they think? Or so a lot of what’s that what was that like for you? Because I deal with so many of the women who are the betrayed. [00:50:00] And then just did you continue to experience the those emotional ups and downs or were were dates hard for you or what were some of those triggers that were really difficult? And how did you work with those?

[00:50:11] Oh, I feel like triggers is another like you could do an episode on Just Triggers, you could do a series on triggers. But triggers were in the beginning. They were every day, multiple times a day. With time, triggers would decrease. But the thing with triggers is you never knew. Yeah income. So some you could go in knowing this is going to be hard. I can prepare myself. But a lot of the triggers you would see a purple pen and a purple pen would link to something and link link, link, link, link in my brain in a millisecond. And all of a sudden either tears are streaming down my face or I’m shaking, or I’m really angry and I couldn’t make sense of it. And so that journey of really learning how to work through the triggers, gaining awareness of [00:51:00] I am triggered it. It felt like in the beginning I was just like one constant trigger. And then with time though started separating with more and more and more distance. And if you’ve ever heard the analogy of the box and the pain, it’s this concept where you have this box. I’m going to try to do it for those who are just listening and make sense of it. But you have this box and inside the top of the box is a pain button, and the pain button is just sitting there on the top of the box. And when you’re first going through all of this, you have this giant ball in the box and the ball barely shifts before you’re hitting the pain button. And so pain buttons hit. Pain buttons hit all of the time. And as you heal, we have this idea that that pain button should decrease, like that pain button should get smaller and smaller, but it’s not actually the pain button that decreases, it’s the ball. And so as the ball decreases.

[00:51:58] The.

[00:51:58] Frequency in which it hits, [00:52:00] that pain button decreases. But every time that pain button hits, it felt like I was on number one and I would go, Oh my gosh, what’s wrong with me? I’m back at the beginning because it feels just as painful and. That felt so jarring. But with time where I could start learning. No. My ball is getting smaller and every time that pain button is hit, I have to use my tools and I have to be really gentle with myself. But the time that that pain button stays lit also increases. And so even today, we’re eight years in. I don’t remember when my last trigger was, but if I were to guess maybe two or three months ago, something triggered something and all of a sudden that pain button was hit. All of those feelings come rushing in in the beginning where I would sit in that and spin for weeks. Now I can go, Whoa, hold on. I recognize [00:53:00] that feeling. Okay, what just was hit? What’s happening that makes sense? That makes sense that we hit the pain button, and now I can work through that. But we tend to have this idea that pain button is supposed to just be gone. It just if I still have a pain button, something’s wrong with me. And the reality is, is I just have a pain button. And now I forget the pain button is even there. But when it gets hit, it’s like, Oh yeah.

[00:53:29] I love that analogy. I’ve never heard that. And then and so do you have confidence that when that pain button’s hit now that you will be able to make it through even though you have that intense emotion?

[00:53:40] Yeah, and I think that right there I have trust in myself, which that was a big journey, learning how to trust myself, trust my intuition. I trust myself and I trust my higher power. And so I have no guarantees. Tomorrow. Luke could go back to acting out. He could say, You know [00:54:00] what? I’m done. This was hard. I’m just going to go live this other life. I have no guarantees. He’s actively doing things that today that does not feel like that’s going to happen tomorrow. But I know that he could walk that path. Anybody could have anything happen. But I am okay because I know at the end of the day I can trust myself, I can trust God and then any other trust that Luke has gained. And he has gained a lot. He’s done a lot of work. But any other trust that I gain from him now is just bonus because I don’t need him to be okay for me to know I’m going to be okay. And that is a very I’m trying to think of the right word, but that’s a really beautiful.

[00:54:44] And I love that I don’t give time frames because then somebody will say, if they got there sooner, then they’ll feel like they missed something. Or if they don’t get there by then, then they feel like something’s wrong with them. But look at me setting it up to say. But with that said, how long does that take? Alana Because I feel like I’ve got [00:55:00] people right now that I love the analogy of the box. And I feel like when when it hits that button, they just say, What am I doing? Why didn’t I leave? What am I pretending not to know? He better not ever do that again and all those things. And I love the way you just put where you’re at now.

[00:55:13] It depends so much because everyone’s story is totally different. The fact that Luke was really working every single day, like I would say, you’re earning one day at a time. You’ve earned today. I’m staying today. And I didn’t tell him that on a regular basis, but that’s what’s happening in my head. He’s earned another day it before I got to that place. I’ve really trusting myself and beginning to accept trust from him because I could trust myself. I would say we are easily four years in.

[00:55:44] And when you said earlier, I think you had mentioned a two year point or a four year point, and I almost wanted you to throw the the longer number out there, because I feel like that just is going to normalize for a lot of people that that it takes a while in this book the Buddha brain this neuroscience of happiness and talking about implicit memory, there’s [00:56:00] one paragraph that I love where the author says so. He’s saying that much as the body is built from the foods you eat, your mind is built from these experiences you have. And the flow of experience gradually sculpts your brain and the shaping of your mind. And he says some of the results are explicitly recalled. This is what I did last summer. This is how I felt when I was in love. But I love most of the shaping of your brain remains forever unconscious, and that is implicit memory. And it includes your expectations, your models of relationships, your emotional tendencies, and your general outlook. Implicit memory establishes the interior landscape of your mind. It sounds like, I mean, choked up, but I’m. Maybe I should play into that, right? Hang on. Let me Claire, let me let me let me gather myself. I just had to clear it. And it’s the right at the good part.

[00:56:41] So you really do.

[00:56:42] Exactly. The implicit memory establishes the interior landscape of your mind, what it feels like to be you based on the. And here’s the key. I think the slowly accumulating residue of lived experience. I love that concept of what it feels like to be you and not a great sales pitch. And that happens [00:57:00] with slow accumulation of lived experience every time that you’re turning back to the present or every time you’re doing the work or every time. And I like what you said earlier, you want to look to this, listen to a podcast, may read a book. He could be done. And did you want that? Same for yourself.

[00:57:15] I did I. Wanted that so badly that I was going to just be fine. Remember the 100 day mark and I was a mess that day. And what was interesting, as my body was remembering and like ramping up to that one year d day before my brain even caught up. And that day I remember just feeling so discouraged because I was supposed.

[00:57:43] To.

[00:57:43] Be fixed by now. I was supposed to be better. Our marriage, he’s been working every single day. I’ve been working every single day. Like, why are we not better? Which really played into a year and a half in when I said I want to divorce was because I am still in [00:58:00] so much pain. And so if I’m still so much pain, then why am I here? Because then my brain won’t. The alternative is I get divorced and then I’m out of pain. And then finally I can feel better. Which now I can see that there is no easy path. Whether I watched divorce or I stayed invested in the marriage, I still have the pain of the betrayal that I.

[00:58:22] Had to win a lot of. Did you have anybody? And again, I love the fact that you guys are both in this mental health space as well. Where I have, people will say, well, what do you think I should do? And I say, Oh, I don’t want that power. Because if let’s say they did say if I said, Well, I think you should leave now, all of a sudden, any time they go back to this memory, it’s going to be a man I shouldn’t have. But Tony told me, too. Did you have those? I wanted somebody to tell me what to do. Moments?

[00:58:44] Yeah, well, it started with God in the very beginning. It was God, tell me what to do. And the only sense of any type of clarity or answer I got was I got this message of weight and I was like, Are you kidding me? [00:59:00] Like, I can walk this path, I can walk this path, I can do anything. Just tell me what to do. And I just got this deep feeling of wait, so that was my first non answer that was super pissed about. And then same thing going to the therapist and I really did expect the therapist to tell me, look, he’s not changing, I can get out or the therapist to say, Hey, he’s really working on it. You’re good, you’re safe. I wanted so bad someone to tell me about and I will tell you, I have plenty of friends and family who gave opinions. I had tons of friends and family who are like once a cheater, always a cheater. Like, Get out or I’m going. But you really know him. I know him. You need to stay. And I learned very quickly that there was going to be no right answer that everybody.

[00:59:50] I love it. I call that in psychology, the peanut gallery. And man, if you look at even that itself, there are people that don’t have an opinion. But when they’re asked, then will I better give an opinion? So I’ll come up with one here in this [01:00:00] millisecond and now I’ll express it. And now somebody is looking for external validation. Now they’re based on their worth off of somebody that just said, Oh, I don’t know, I think you should leave him. Oh, really? So I think that’s a boy. That is a tough place. But I like the weight. I do. I appreciate that so much. Luke, did you feel that entire time I’m staying or did you have times where you ever went through and I’m leading the witness right now? Luke, I’ve got somebody in mind that had gone through that, right? They’d gone through this period and maybe just tell me if you ever felt this or not. But they went through a period where then they when they would see their wife be so hurt, where they felt like that’s the right thing for me to do to leave, because I can’t I can’t have her go through this. What were your feelings around that time or that?

[01:00:41] Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of it. Add to a couple of those. I’ve seen the marriages be tough to begin with and the guy was like, I can’t do this. I just want out. There’s this is just going to be too much, just so many different ways. Yeah, for me, it was even in my even my addiction, in all my acting out with other people I never wanted. It’s kind of it’s gross [01:01:00] to say, but I never wanted to be with anybody else. I always wanted to be with them. They just my my addiction ruled my experience of my mismanagement of emotion, my need for validation showed up with other women and it was toxic. So I didn’t want to be with anybody else. Never did. So when everything came out, I was just praying and hoping that it would stay with her. However, there was nothing that very unhealthy part of this, which was I wanted. I also couldn’t share my reality of what I didn’t like about our relationship, what it wasn’t okay. You know, there was times my therapist said, Hey, look, you’ve got to share your resentment. I don’t resent anything. She’s good. She hasn’t done anything wrong. Why would I resent her? And he probably rolled his eyes, but didn’t that you see it? And so there was that part of the marriage of things that I wasn’t happy with and I didn’t like, but I didn’t bring up those, actually. Yes. Goodness.

[01:01:55] Well, and I’m smiling as you’re talking, because I remember this conversation [01:02:00] and he came to me and he said, my therapist said, I need to start sharing my resentments. And I was like, excuse me, you don’t have room to have resentments. Do you know what you’ve done? You don’t get to have resentments. You don’t get to have problems. At one point, he said, I don’t know that I trust you with my feelings and. Look at me over the top of you. You don’t trust me. But so this, I think, was actually a really important part of our marriage. Healing was us learning how to have hard conversations. Us learning how to be vulnerable. Vulnerable with each other and to face hard. Because before we went through all of this, we were totally sweeping everything under the rug. And as part of sweeping that under the rug, we thought we were good. We’re good. We’re good. We have no problems. We don’t fight. And what we learned is a healthy marriage, actually.

[01:02:53] Oh, no. I was about to brag and seek your guys. External validation. I was going to say, after I feel like promoting [01:03:00] my marriage course, I say I think I’m up to, I don’t know, 11, 1200 couples now. And I wanted to make the joke of and but I’ve never heard that before, Ilana, that you guys have been sweeping these things under the rug. It’s like, oh, everyone does that. And I always say that we’re so afraid of contention. We avoid tension altogether, but that is where that growth occurs. And that man, we don’t understand that. We start out as all codependent, enmeshed, and we think that’s well, that’s the way it works. And so when we start to find ourselves and differentiate and I feel it does almost feel counterintuitive to wait, that’s the healthy version where we might disagree though, and then we may not end up having sex because they may be frustrated. I think that stuff is so fast. So fast. But what were you going to say, Luke, after you tell me that? That was amazing what I said. Go ahead.

[01:03:42] I took a lot of notes. Would like that. Part of the record highlight would be fantastic. You know, I’m pretty passionate about this part, and if I have any smiles that come up, it’s out of a place of remembering the pain and being grateful for what I have been through for something that’s so much healthier [01:04:00] and so rewarding. So I show up to a lot and say, Hey, I share some resentments and I don’t know if I feel safe sharing these with you because know what’s going to happen. So I want to have Lorna’s back here for a minute as I talk about this. Yeah, if I was her, I would have been like. I would have been. Are you kidding? Like, you cheat on me, you put me through hell, and now you want to share with me what you have a problem with? Like, validate that really quick.

[01:04:28] When we’re talking about this, this was significantly some recovery work. This would have happened in the first six months. This probably would have been game changing, ending marriage.

[01:04:39] Absolutely stuff.

[01:04:41] This was with the foundation of both of us doing quite a bit of work. I think.

[01:04:44] It is.

[01:04:44] Important to the place where we’re stuck. It was in a place where it stuck in because I had sobriety. We were doing check ins. She was doing her work, I was doing mine. We were trying to come back as a couple. You know, there was some safety has been rebuilt. So yeah. Thank you for saying that a lot because you had some guy sharing resentments [01:05:00] right after he shares his crap, you know, so if you get this part of this validating Alana having those feelings. But what I want to say is, is that women are asking for honesty, they’re asking for transparency, they’re asking for authenticity, they’re asking for integrity. Probably not going to be always well received in lines. And that’s okay. You know, that’s okay. But it’s part of that healthy relationship. It’s the thing that they should have had the whole time. They’re just getting it at a really crappy time in their marriage. They just it was never a part of the deal that should have been helped to begin with. I mean, there’s a part of me going men like after you’ve been doing your work, show up and be authentic, but do it in the right way. Do it in a way that’s not damaging. Don’t be asking somebody else to own your own stuff through the experience. And then the women, I guess, speaking to them and telling you this might be the wrong way to put it. Well, it’s my way to put a clean this up. That’s what you want. That’s what you want. [01:06:00] You want the authenticity. And even if it’s ugly and crappy to hear, that’s what we’re hoping for is a milestone in the journey, that there is a resentment being shared, there is truth being shared that honestly is just super uncomfortable because it’s not.

[01:06:14] The way you frame that. Luke Because we go back to Alana saying, I want honesty and then and I appreciate, yeah, if that happens in the first, who knows how long I’m throwing something at the guy in the office trying to get that to stop. But at some point, though, I like what you’re saying, if it’s the I want honesty, but just not that you can have love or control in an adult relationship. So at that point, are we kind of seeping back over into, okay, well, I want more control than love, I want honesty, but not not that kind. So of and we just had two guys given this the thing about here’s how the wife should feel so you can clean that up or what do you think?

[01:06:46] Well, control is control is one of those words that I think for a lot of women holds a lot of feeling that words can be a trigger word. And a lot of the women I’ve worked with have said, like in [01:07:00] her safety seeking, she’s being told she’s calling in her hypervigilance, she’s being told she’s controlling. And because I’m the betrayed, I think I have a little more freedom to speak that there was a very real part of me that. In my needing some sense of control, some sense of stability. I was grasping for any type of control and power, and I didn’t want to let go of any because I felt so unstable. And really for all of these years, I looked through the world through this lens of I could control if I just say this to Luke, he’s going to get it. If I say it in this way, or if I do it in this way, or if I raise my kids in this way. I really believed I had all of this. I had a very false sense of control in my life that I could control all of these other people’s lives and stories and outcomes. And so part of my healing journey [01:08:00] was learning actually how little control I have and letting go of that sense of control, which was a really scary.

[01:08:09] Terrible what you just said there is so beautiful because we’ve all had the women in that spot working through this. And there’s a guy who says it’s like jumping out into the abyss and finding out that there’s a featherbed. You feel like it’s more comfortable to not have that expectation of control.

[01:08:25] Yes, 1,000%. Yes. Because where I was owning his story or his life choices and what were they saying about me and how his choices were defining me or my children or my parents or whoever in my life? I was carrying weight for all of their stories and their choices and their feelings. And so I was trying to carry all of my stuff and all of their stuff and it was exhausting. So learning how to let other people differentiate [01:09:00] it to be separate was so freeing because now all of a sudden I could let go of the outcome, I could let go of their feelings, and I could manage myself in such a healthier way because I wasn’t trying to do it all.

[01:09:13] Hey, I love that there’s another there’s another clip that that one’s going to be brilliant. That is. Hey, if you guys have about ten more minutes, I mean, I would love to. All right, so where. What? I mean, I would love for you to weave in things you’re doing now, how you feel like it’s helped you in the work you’re doing. What are maybe some tips or advice that you would give couples? Because I cannot wait to release this because I feel like you talked about all the hard things, the separations, that going through divorce or feelings of divorce or the control piece or the I mean, there’s so much good here. I don’t know. What do you I guess I would say you guys have done this a bunch. Give me the big finish. Where did where do you how do you put a bow on all of this? None.

[01:09:51] Pressure. Big finish.

[01:09:57] Okay, go ahead.

[01:09:59] Oh, shoot. [01:10:00] Today, I think if I could wrap it up. Well, I’ll say what we’re doing right now currently. So over the last couple of years, we have organically started a company that actually was never our intention. I started seeing clients. Started seeing clients. Then we had a couple other people come to us, coaches and therapists who wanted to start working together. And naturally we built this company called Choose Recovery Services that helps individuals and couples heal from betrayal, trauma and sexual addiction. And that’s been really fun because it’s almost like its own train just going down the tracks and we’re like, we’ve just jumped along for the ride. It’s been really exciting to see that happen. We also work for another company called Life Changing Services, which I’m really passionate. I’ll speak just to the women’s program because that’s what I had. But it is a program that the men’s [01:11:00] program pays for every woman to have six months of betrayal, trauma groups led by a therapist and wow, totally free. And for that, I can’t tell you how many women I’ve met who and I was one of these where I’m like, put the money in him, put the money in him, go get him fixed. He’s a problem. We need to fix the problem. And they don’t see the need for their own healing yet. There’s so much healing that needs to be done. And so we have these groups where I want to say we’re running 30 something groups all online for these women for six months can receive this therapeutic support in this type of group. And so that I’m so passionate about just giving women resources. And then after the six months, they can stay longer, they want to pay for it. And those women who stay longer help pay for more women to get the help, which even I think there’s something really beautiful and women [01:12:00] helping women. And so. The resources are out there, but so many individuals just don’t.

[01:12:07] So, I mean, honestly plug away it will be in show notes that we’ll start you guys, my amazing helper. Now, Naomi is putting together tons of resources for the people that reach out to me just through emails. And so obviously you guys are a big part are going to be a big part of that. Where do people go for that alone?

[01:12:23] The so for the worst program it’s healing with work dot org so they can go to that and Naomi is wonderful Naomi works with Worth and as well she helps with Worth in a volunteer role and so healing with worth dot org. And then the program that pays for the worth program is Luke’s program that he’s over the Men and Maroney program. And what’s super cool about that is just simply these. I’ll let you talk about it, Luke. I’m just.

[01:12:54] Out.

[01:12:54] Of the service.

[01:12:56] You sound great. I feel like you should just keep going. Yeah, [01:13:00] the program was actually designed after and merely mirrored the some of the in program, some of the elements for youth, male youth. And then Menomonie was like the dads of the sons that were getting healing. We’re like, Wait, what about us? Let’s start one for men. So I oversee that program we have I don’t know, I don’t know, 500 men, the program, it’s mostly states but worldwide. And it’s it’s what pays for. And I find this to be so wonderful. It’s what pays for it.

[01:13:29] I had no.

[01:13:29] Idea. So the men that pay for that program. Yeah, we give that to the women’s program and which is cool because when women are over there going like you go get your healing, then he gets his healing, but ultimately she can step in and get her healing once she realizes the pain is too much. Like a lot to talked about already. And the concept of that program is it’s three fold. It’s camaraderie. You know, it’s the I will develop getting shame resilience by showing up with other men that you see as wow, these guys aren’t creeps they don’t drive white vans without windows and kids. [01:14:00] Yeah, yes. Human beings like. So what does that say about me when I’ve had this similar situation and they’ve learned to love and fight side by side with each other? And we get in the weeds, the details, like some groups out there like share shy away from details. Don’t talk about those. No, we get in the weeds like we’re going to share our stuff. And but the whole concept behind it is, you know, you’re not the enemy. We have one on one enemy, whether it’s you want to if you’re Christian, you know that it’s the it’s the adversary. It’s the devil that steps into your brain and suggests things which are your stupid viewer on capable. You can’t you’re never going to get this right. And it’s recognizing that he’s saying things because not because you’re incapable or stupid, but actually you have something really wonderful to offer for the world. But he needs to keep you neutralized. And if he can keep you neutralized, then you’re not going to be able to be.

[01:14:50] In fact, it’ll be easier to target other people in your family because you’ll basically be known. And that concept for me was big. I’m like, Oh, wait, I’m actually [01:15:00] capable. And to start understanding some of that language is going through my head. Know the rest of the world. You could call that the same piece. You call that just the brain, call what you want, but you’re more than capable. It’s that concept and understanding. And then what I know this kind of lead into this is we have. One Choose Recovery Services, which steps in. Also with what I’m very passionate about is is after the after getting sober. Your problems don’t go away. You know, your wife’s still in pain. You know, you’re you still hate your job. You know, your your boss is still in Maine. You know, you’re still away. You don’t like you know, you’re like, what the heck? I thought, where’s the rainbows? Where’s the unicorns? Like, I’m frustrated of the just the pornography itself wasn’t the problem. It was a solution to my problems that I don’t know how to handle myself. So a place ensues. Recovery services creates groups for the mismanagement like that. The dealing with toxic toxic masculinity is a male. [01:16:00] Like, what were you taught that made you go, Oh, I can’t feel or feelings are uncomfortable or just be tough for men experiencing the value emotions. And I love the men that are in these groups because they’re digging it. They love it. You know, they got men that can feel and and applaud and cheer other men along in their journey of healing and sharing emotion and valuing it. So cool.

[01:16:25] I love that. No, that’s you guys have all the bases covered. And because the Sons of Men is for youth. Right. Which I love that too. I was telling Luke before we hit record that I just referred somebody there a couple of days ago. And so I love that these resources are available. And I’ve never I didn’t realize the women’s stuff was funded by the men. Stuff that just seems right. It does. I really like hearing that.

[01:16:47] Just kind of validating.

[01:16:48] Yeah, and I’m not even saying that from a, you know, men are horrible. I feel like it just feels like the right way to give back. It feels like the right thing to do. I can only imagine. Luke That’s got to feel empowering because I feel like when a guy doesn’t [01:17:00] know what he doesn’t know and he does learn more and then becomes aware. Back to that reference of the Bruce Willis movie, it’s like, Oh man, I go back and review the movie and wow, I really wish I could do it over again, right?

[01:17:11] But I will plug. It’s not an organization like Change Services, but for that, if you’re Christian and especially if you’re LDS, if you’re in that journey of like, I don’t know what’s going on, I need somewhere to start. It’s a basic place of being able to give some applicable tools on What do I do next? And somebody that takes you by the hand leads you through it. It’s not vague, it’s very descriptive. On Here’s the process, here’s the path, here’s the pattern. Go about this. And that’s what I found really enjoyable.

[01:17:41] Okay, Luke, Alana, what a joy. This was everything I hoped it would be and a whole bunch more. I’ll have all the links and everything and I appreciate you guys being my first couple that I’ve ever interviewed in five years, which is silly, but your story is amazing and I think it’s going to help a lot of people. Thank you so much.

[01:17:56] Thank you. Thank you. Thanks. Compressed [01:18:00] emotions flying past our heads and out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind. It’s wonderful. And plastic waste and rubber ghost isle floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most world.

[01:18:39] Takes up all my time. Don’t. It is.

[01:19:05] Citing [01:19:00] news of discount price a million opportunities. The chance is yours to take or lose. It’s worth. Always on the back burner until the opportune time. You’re always pushed to go farther. Shut up.

[01:19:46] That seems to be.

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