What happens when a recovery coach goes through betrayal trauma herself? Does she think recovery is even possible and is it ever real? Our own Coach Gaelyn shares her story with us and answers our most asked questions on life, love, and the work of addiction recovery.

Giving us a glimpse into her upbringing, Gaelyn states, ” I was raised in a very conservative religious community and married very young. That marriage ended after five years as I discovered long list of sexual secrets. This led me to experienced deep and long-lasting trauma that went unidentified and untreated. When I met my second husband, we fell deeply in love and he told me he had a “porn problem”. Compared to what I’d survived in my first marriage, that didn’t scare me away.”

“We started therapy and recovery six months before we got married. That’s what actually gave me/us the courage to take the leap of faith and go through with it, I truly believed we had enough resources to make it work. First two years in recovery were excruciatingly painful but by year three, things started to improve. The next six years were pretty wonderful, ” Gaelyn describes.

Is Recovery Ever Real?

She adds, “There was always the stress and effort of dealing with his addiction and my trauma, in addition to typical marriage and family stuff. My husband also suffered from a difficult combination of mental health issues, and those required us to develop a whole second set of relational coping mechanisms. But ultimately, as immersed as we were in therapy and recovery, our life became one that I really grew to love and treasure.” 
“Sometimes, there is a misconception that recovery is easy and blissful,” says Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery. 
Gaelyn adds, “It was NEVER easy, but it WAS deeply, beautifully satisfying.”
“Nine years into our relationship, with six years of serious sexual sobriety, my husband was actually the first one to move into this field professionally, becoming a men’s sex addiction recovery coach. When I made my own independent decision to begin coaching women, everything seemed to be falling into place. I began this work with a real sense of relational safety and stability. I celebrated the fact that after nearly a decade of hard work, I finally had the marriage I’d always, always wanted,” she describes. 

What About Relapse In Recovery?

Eventually, there was a time when her husband became a men’s recovery coach and Gaelyn also became a betrayal trauma recovery coach. The couple worked together in the professional realm. “When he was healthy and sober and living in recovery, he was actually a really, really good coach. 

Working two-on-two with couples blossomed into something truly special we felt called to do,” Gaelyn says.
Then life changed suddenly for Gaelyn. Once she obtained her own training, became a coach, started blogging, began networking with other APSATS professionals, launched her website, and started getting some steady clients, her husband’s big relapse began.
Describing this trauma, Gaelyn states, “From the start, I knew that something about this relapse felt different than any I’d previously experienced. His ability to hide the truth and lie to my face was shockingly successful. He’d never before been so good at keeping secrets from me. He’d never before utilized such deeply manipulative (psychologically abusive) gaslighting tactics. He’d never before used so many lies to cover up other lies.
And the TIMING of it all seemed impossibly surreal; I knew there was some kind of connection, but I didn’t know how to identify all the various moving parts that were suddenly unfolding.”

Not Sure How to Get Started?

This video will help you get started with your Betrayal Trauma Recovery.

How Can I Remain Safe While In Recovery?

Gaelyn faced an issue of both personal and professional implications.
“I didn’t feel safe for myself. And I didn’t feel safe on behalf of my clients. At the same time as trying to wrap my mind around what this meant for me as a wife, I also needed to deal with what this meant for me as a professional. The first thing I did—and frankly, one of the hardest things I EVER had to do was to stop referring my clients’ loved ones to my husband for coaching. I had to remove my husband’s bio and services from my website. I had to remove his business card from my professional marketing packet. I didn’t know the depth or breadth of his sexual acting out and manipulation. I just knew I could no longer, in good faith, work with him as my partner.” 
The ordeal was unimaginable to say the least.
Gaelyn describes the situation, “My husband had literally THE BEST POSSIBLE EXPERTS to help him. But instead of taking that gift to heart, using all this amazing help to get him back on track, he spent the next year and 1/2 continuing to act out, lying to me and everyone else.”
She states something very important she learned at that time, “It doesn’t matter how great your expert help might be. If someone doesn’t want to get better, he WON’T get better. The results of his recovery aren’t dependent upon having the right group or sponsor or therapist. And they’re certainly not dependent upon having a smart and supportive wife. The results of his recovery are dependent upon HIM and HIS choices.”
She adds, ” In my husbands case, he didn’t choose recovery. Instead, he chose porn.”

How Do You Handle Trauma While Working On Recovery?

Anne questions, “So many women go through a period of wondering what was even real in terms of their husband’s recovery.”
Gaelyn states, “I believe there were years of our marriage when my husband truly gave it his best. He gave recovery his best. He gave himself his best. He gave “us” his best. He gave me his best. And bottom line, his “best” was always, always good enough for me.  Our marriage could tolerate and survive his best, most authentic efforts. Even if his best would never be “perfect.” I didn’t need perfect.”
“But then there came a point when my husband started giving me his “worst.” And just about the time I thought things were as bad as they could get, they got worse still. I was suffering the reality of what was already happening. Things were really “really bad,” and there wasn’t an upward recovery trend ANYWHERE on his horizon. There was a ton of grief involved in that dawning and deepening awareness.
As my husband was continuing to struggle, continued to view porn, to lie and to hide and to emotionally use and psychologically abuse me, I needed bigger and better boundaries to protect me from the toxicity of my husband’s behavior.Instead of responding with the empathy, understanding and encouragement I so desperately needed from him. He responded with anger, resentment and retaliation. As I took more and more measures to protect and support myself, my husband created more and more drama that undermined my need for safety and stability. As this drama and trauma increased, my husband chose to back me into a corner financially, which is something I’ve come to recognize as a later-stage tactic used by abusive men who are grasping for an control within their crumbling relationships.”

When Recovery Work Leads Separation

Gaelyn explains, “I didn’t file for legal separation because I wanted to. I filed for legal separation because I NEEDED to. At that point, it wasn’t about my emotional survival. It was about my physical, financial and existential survival.”
Gaeylen says, After that, my husband was done and wanted a divorce. He had finally communicated to me, in no uncertain terms, that he was done fighting for me. He was done fighting for us. He was done fighting for our future. My husband didn’t choose me. My husband chose divorce.”
Stay tuned for the next segment of Gaelyn’s interview as she covers more of her story and how she has worked through her own betrayal trauma. If you are interested in connecting with those who can understand where you are at in your journey, check out our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group.
If you’re interested in setting up an individual session with Gaelyn, click here.
And as always, consider making a monthly donation, so we can continue to bring you important content for your healing.
Until next time, stay safe out there.
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