Here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we hear many stories of women facing unimaginable trauma centered around betrayal and emotional abuse by their partners. Today, we are sharing one of those stories with you. Peggy is a professional Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach with 20 years of experience. She helps individuals reach a place of peace and joy through guided meditation to dismantle trauma and remove sabotaging unconscious programming. Peggy is also a certified Journey Work Practitioner.

Describing her experience, Peggy states,

“I was married at a young age and a year after the marriage the man I was married to told me he had same-sex attraction. I was like, okay we’ll ride with it because I knew that this was the man for me and I was very committed in the relationship and had a strong belief in our marriage together. So, it was about 7 years into the marriage when things started to really bubble up for him and he started to do some of his own healing and eventually, he became a prominent therapist who helped men overcome same-sex attraction.”

Finding Out A Spouse Has Lied Is Traumatizing

Eventually, Peggy began to see the cracks growing within her marriage, she states,

“I continued my healing and unbeknownst to me the man I was married to was also doing men’s retreats and was very involved in helping men to heal and what I didn’t realize at the time was his focus, he was gone a lot, he didn’t focus on me a lot and there was a lot of pain in that. There were really good times and there were really awful times. We went through pornography issues and alcohol and cocaine, which I didn’t find out until later. He led me to believe that they were just forays into addiction and that he was healthy and long story short, what I realized towards the end of the marriage, it was a 34-year marriage, was that he actually never really did his work. He did it initially just enough to get to a point where he was respected and where he could see enough that he could create things and help other people and kind of be the top dog in the community.”

Peggy continues,

“He had admitted that he had narcissistic tendencies and what I discovered was he was a covert narcissist because the narcissism thing as I was looking at it was: “Oh, he’s not overtly that way” but covertly he’s totally a covert narcissist. He was the one that came to me and said I want a divorce and it crushed me, I was devastated, but I learned so much in that process. I learned that he was a covert narcissist, that he actually was probably a sex addict, and I started to see the abuse that was happening. I started to wake up to it. The emotional abuse. Since the divorce, I learned that I actually was emotionally abused through the whole marriage, which is a lot to take into my body.”

Dishonesty Is Abusive, Even When It is About Sexuality

Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, explains that emotional abuse is so often present, but unobserved as it is cleverly disguised, she states,

“My ex, when he was speaking about his recovery, he wanted to become a therapist and he really loved the attention of speaking out and having people think he was such a good guy. Now, I’m just so terrified of that because he really never was in recovery, now that I look back. He was abusing me the entire time and that’s really scary to think that we stood up in front of 1600 people and spoke about his recovery when he was actively abusing me.”

Peggy agrees and describes how this same type of emotional abuse impacted her,

“Even the act of standing up in front of those people and speaking about it and lying was an act of abuse toward me. The same thing with your ex. Every single time he purported to love or care or whatever when he was lying or hiding things is an act of abuse and so then you chalk it up to 34 years of these covert abuse tactics. Then suddenly after a “lifetime of working and being healthy in the same-sex attraction arena” he says: “Never mind, I’m gay.” “

So, how does this happen? How do women not identify the abuse they are experiencing as abuse? Peggy states,

“I think it happens because these men are very, very good at what they do. They’re very good at knowing how to covertly manipulate and control, at least that was for me. I am a strong woman and I’m not a pushover and I have done a lot of my healing work all along the way. I’m strong and capable and I feel confident. I think they’re really good at it. I think they’re good at helping us get into a place where we trust. I think women are very we oriented, we’re very much about others, we’re very much about helping others generally speaking. I think that is a really awesome thing, it absolutely is essential for our society to propagate. For use to have families and to thrive and it’s super important and really honorable and noble and I believe these men take advantage of that.”

Anne chimes in, insightfully adding,

“The capacity that you and I had for forgiveness and love and compassion was great and it was taken advantage of over and over again.”

Women Must Learn What Abuse Is And What It Looks Like

Peggy agrees,

“We, as women, are trusting because we were in a partnership. We thought we were in a “we”. We thought we were together in this system, and what I discovered was absolutely the opposite. We were in it together in a system that he created for himself to benefit himself more than to benefit us. Looking back, I see those little places where he took my willingness to look at my stuff, my willingness to work on myself, my desire for personal growth and kind of drifted on me from the relationship. My weaknesses and vulnerability, he was able to use those pieces and point me away from him and towards myself. Towards what I can do to heal.”

Anne adds,

“I think this is being used in therapy offices all over the world right now. “Victim: You work on you and perpetrator: You work on you and everything will be fine,” rather than saying: “Oh, victim: There’s nothing wrong with you. What you need to do is get to safety and perpetrator: you need to change and if you don’t change drastically, you’re not safe enough for her.” ”

For any women out there who are dealing with a spouse who has same-sex attraction or identifies as gay, we here at BTR always pro-safety of the victim. That is our main concern. If you are in a relationship with a man who is lying to you, manipulating you, and this might be part of the mix. Part of the mix might be that he’s talking about same-gender attraction or that he’s acting out with other men or that he’s saying that he’s gay, but he doesn’t want to divorce you for whatever reason and you’re getting kind of through the washing machine or the abuse cycle because of these issues.

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Full Transcript:

Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

Many of you have not met Coach Peggy yet. She is one of our newest coaches and my personal favorite at this point in time only because I actually go to her to do meditation sessions. In my stage of recovery, meditation is really the only thing that helps me and I’m so grateful to have her on the team and I’m grateful that she’s an amazing meditation practitioner.

She’s going to be with us for the next 3 weeks talking about how meditation can help you or help other victims heal from trauma. Welcome, Coach Peggy.

Peggy: Thank you, what a nice introduction.

Anne: Peggy is a professional Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach with 20 years of experience. She helps individuals reach a place of peace and joy through guided meditation to dismantle trauma and remove sabotaging unconscious programming. Using the language of the non-conscious mind, Journey Work creates lasting change. Peggy is a certified Journey Practitioner.

For many years Peggy was married to a man with same-sex attraction and has first-hand experience navigating this particular issue. Because you’re new to BTR and we’re introducing you here, let’s start with your story.

Peggy: Okay. I was married at a young age and a year after the marriage the man I was married to told me he had same-sex attraction. I was like, okay we’ll ride with it because I knew that this was the man for me and I was very committed in the relationship and had a strong belief in our marriage together. So, it was about 7 years into the marriage when things started to really bubble up for him and he started to do some of his own healing and eventually, he became a prominent therapist who helped men overcome same-sex attraction. 

So, he started on his healing journey and then a little bit through the marriage he basically said: “I don’t want to be married to you anymore unless you do some work on yourself.”

A Husband Who Is Lying Is Abusing

Anne: So, he says to you: “I don’t want to be married to you unless you do something.” Did you recognize this as abuse at the time?

Peggy: No. I didn’t recognize it as abuse until this last year. 

Anne: Okay, so in your mind during this time you’re thinking: “Yeah, this is valid, I do need to change.” Okay.

Peggy: Right.

Anne: Because also he is a therapist, so you’re thinking maybe he knows what he’s talking about. Is that also part of this?

Peggy: Yes, so he’s a psychotherapist and in so many ways I trusted him and because he was a therapist there was even more trust in what he thought or how he felt about things. So, when he came to me and he said: “I don’t want to be married to you unless you start to change some things” I didn’t recognize that as abuse at the time because I had been doing some work of my own. 

I found a method called The Journey and I knew that regular therapy was kind of a slow boat and I like to do things faster, so I had a friend who introduced it to me and she actually was in a wheelchair at age 30, in her late 20’s and 30’s, and this process is what got her out of a wheelchair and she was walking again. They didn’t know what was wrong with her at the time and it ended up being fibromyalgia and some other complications, but this process is what go her out of a wheelchair, so I was like: “I’m in.” 

Betrayal Trauma Can Happen As A Result Of Dishonesty

So, I started doing that work and my deepest pain at the time was that I felt like there was this wall between me and the man I loved and that I couldn’t receive love from him and I couldn’t give love, but I could see other people had that, but I didn’t. So, I started doing The Journey work and within about 2 months that wall moved, and I could see around it and I could feel around it and I could sense what it was like to be that different person that I wanted to be. If just opened up this whole new world for me and the deep pain was gone, and I could feel joyful and happy and free. It was wonderful.

So, I continued my healing and unbeknownst to me the man I was married to was also doing men’s retreats and was very involved in helping men to heal and what I didn’t realize at the time was his focus, he was gone a lot, he didn’t focus on me a lot and there was a lot of pain in that. There were really good times and there were really awful times. We went through the pornography thing and alcohol and cocaine, which I didn’t find out until later. He led me to believe that they were just forays into addiction and that he was healthy and long story short what I realized towards the end of the marriage, it was a 34-year marriage, was that he actually never really did his work. He did it initially just enough to get to a point where he was respected and where he could see enough that he could create things and help other people and kind of be the top dog in the community.

He had admitted that he had narcissistic tendencies and what I discovered was he was a covert narcissist because the narcissism thing as I was looking at it was: “Oh, he’s not overtly that way” but covertly he’s totally a covert narcissist. He was the one that came to me and said I want a divorce and it crushed me, I was devastated, but I learned so much in that process. I learned that he was a covert narcissist, that he actually was probably a sex addict, and I started to see the abuse that was happening. I started to wake up to it. The emotional abuse.

Since the divorce, I learned that I actually was emotionally abused through the whole marriage, which is a lot to take into my body. A lot of breathing going: “Oh, my gosh!” as I learned and speaking with you Anne, when you first contacted me, was just this huge awakening for an awareness of what I had been through. A lot of people said to me that I really came out of this whole thing pretty unscathed, which is true, it’s not that I haven’t had to deal with trauma and pain, I certainly have, but I believe by the time this happened I had so many tools under my belt that I was able and committed to feeling my emotions when they came up and processing through them and allowing myself to not get stuck in those places. 

If My Husband Has Same-Sex Attraction, What Does That Mean?

I reached out, I got resources, and I resourced myself internally through meditation and this Journey work, and I reached out to friends. I was able to really move through it pretty quickly and I really attribute so much of that to the healing work that I have done through The Journey. It’s just been really, really powerful for me.

Anne: Uh huh. For our listeners, when Coach Peggy says through The Journey, she’s talking about this meditation process that she’s certified to use, and I need to say that our relationship started a long, long time ago. I met Peggy and her husband at the time, her now ex-husband, at a blogging conference, like a super long time ago and they were similar to me. That I was at the time in an abusive relationship and I didn’t know it and I was with my husband at the time, now ex-husband, speaking out against pornography and about his “amazing recovery.” So, we have a very similar history and when things happened with Peggy’s now ex-husband, when it went public in a very in-your-face type of way, I contacted her because I knew what she was going through because I had been through the same thing. I was so impressed at how well she was doing because she had had all these tools. 

Peggy, why do you think educated, smart women like you and I, if I can call us smart, maybe that’s a bad sign if you call yourself smart, can be in an abusive relationship? We’re hitting it head-on. We really are facing the issues head-on, we’re not trying to avoid them, and don’t know that we’re being abused. Why do you think that happens?

Peggy: Oh, that’s a really good question. Why do I think that happens? Well, I think it happens because these men are very, very good at what they do. They’re very good at knowing how to covertly manipulate and control, at least that was for me. I am a strong woman and I’m not a pushover and I have done a lot of my healing work all along the way. So, I’m strong and capable and I feel confident. I think they’re really good at it. I think they’re good at helping us get into a place where we trust. I think women are very we oriented, we’re very much about others, we’re very much about helping others generally speaking.

I think that is a really awesome thing, it absolutely is essential for our society to propagate. For use to have families and to thrive and it’s super important and really honorable and noble and I believe these men take advantage of that.

Anne: Yeah, I think so. The capacity that you and I had for forgiveness and love and compassion was great and it was taken advantage of over and over again.

My Spouse Is Gay, What Do I Do?

Peggy: And we are trusting because we were in a partnership. We thought we were in a “we”. We thought we were together in this system, and what I discovered was absolutely the opposite. We were in it together in a system that he created for himself to benefit himself more than to benefit us. Looking back, I see those little places where he took my willingness to look at my stuff, my willingness to work on myself, my desire for personal growth and kind of drifted on me from the relationship. My weaknesses and vulnerability, he was able to use those pieces and point me away from him and towards myself. Towards what I can do to heal. 

Anne: Yeah, well and I think this is being used in therapy offices all over the world right now. “Victim: You work on you and perpetrator: You work on you and everything will be fine,” rather than saying: “Oh, victim: There’s nothing wrong with you. What you need to do is get to safety and perpetrator: you need to change and if you don’t change drastically, you’re not safe enough for her.”

Peggy: Right, and he keeps hiding. He can keep hiding and doing his routine because nobody is holding him accountable. 

Anne: Uh huh. During the time where he was counseling people about same-gender attraction or men who identified as gay and didn’t want to live that lifestyle, did he identify himself as a gay man?

Peggy: So, he’s never identified himself as a gay man until he left the marriage. Before that, he’s always said that languaging is really important. How you use the words is really important. So, he identified himself as same-sex attracted, and he also said during the best part of the marriage that he no longer was same-sex attracted. He wanted to be with men to have comradery and he longed to have that friendship and that closeness, but it was not sexualized. There was quite a time during the marriage where it was not sexualized.

Anne: Or at least not that you knew of.

Is My Husband A Narcissist?

Peggy: Yeah, I mean this is what he told me, and I still believe that that’s true. I mean his approach towards me shifted somewhat, although I don’t think I know what it’s like to truly be loved outwardly in a way that shows real appreciation, love, and honoring of me. Although there have been definite moments in the marriage, there were definite times where that was a part of it, but certainly his attractions were stronger although our sexual relationship was always functioning in mostly a very healthy way throughout most of the marriage.

But there were changes in him during that time that was definitely clear that his same-sex attractions were very diminished or almost none.

Anne: During that time at least from what you knew.

Peggy: Yeah. The other thing that I think is really important in this is as I look back, he actually did, like I said, initially did some work in the marriage on his same-sex attraction. Then he became a therapist. Then he created all of this stuff and he worked with this whole community and he never actually never did anymore therapy again for himself, for this issue, and the last 6 or 8 years I kept saying to him: “You need to go to a therapist and we need to go to a therapist.” 

We did couples therapy years ago and this is part of the narcissism and all the pieces are kind of clicking into place in the puzzle and that is when we were in therapy and I felt great because I felt like I was really being heard and he was mad. He was so angry and because he was a therapist he used all his techniques on the therapist and made him feel shame for what he had done in the therapist session. I’m like: “Well, I felt great.”

Now that I look back on it and he refused to go to therapy after that. He said it triggered him so much, but that’s so crazy because any therapist knows that if you’re triggered that’s your work. You need to do work on that, but he refused to do work on that. People in the community, male friends of mine, told me (after he came to me and said he wanted a divorce, I learned a lot of things from other people about him) things I didn’t know before.

One of the things was that he never actually did his work in the community. Part of the healing is healthy relationships with men and he kept himself above the community like he was the leader, and he was a leader who could not follow, and he never actually did his work. That’s part of the big lie and that’s part of why I realized it’s narcissism. He discarded the community. He discarded me so that he could come out gay and create a whole new supply for himself as a narcissist. It’s sick and it’s sad, but I believe that’s what really happened. 

Is My Spouse A Covert Narcissist?

Anne: Yeah, I think that’s super interesting. You know what’s interesting is some people do “do the work.” They are going to therapy, but because they’re lying to the therapist or manipulating the therapist their work is all fake anyway. So, even if he had gone to therapy, he did not continually do that, but even if he had continued to go to therapy it’s possible that that wouldn’t have really helped him. 

Peggy: You’re probably right. I just think he would have always found a way to never go. I just don’t think he would have ever done it. I think he felt like what he was doing in the community and the helping other people was really helping him, which I do think it was. I do think that’s a big part of, the service to other people. When you have been through something and you sever other people, to help other people, that’s a big part of the healing.

Anne: When you’re not a narcissist. But when you’re a narcissist it’s a big feast right, it’s a human feast.

Peggy: Yes, exactly. That’s part of the cover. They look like a good guy. They look like they’re doing their work. All of these things when really, it’s just a lie.

Anne: My ex, when he was speaking about his recovery, he wanted to become a therapist and he really loved the attention of speaking out and having people think he was such a good guy. Now, I’m just so terrified of that because he really never was in recovery, now that I look back. He was abusing me the entire time and that’s really scary to think that we stood up in front of 1600 people and spoke about his recovery when he was actively abusing me. 

Even the act of standing up in front of those people and speaking about it and lying was an act of abuse toward me. The same thing with your ex. Every single time he purported to love or care or whatever when he was lying or hiding things is an act of abuse and so then you chalk it up to 34 years of these covert abuse tactics. Then suddenly after a “lifetime of working and being healthy in the same-sex attraction arena” he says: “Never mind, I’m gay.”

Peggy: Right. It’s just everybody that knew him and me were just like: “What happened? No way!” He became a completely different person. It was just unbelievable the shift that I saw in him once he came down this road. 

Anne: You mentioned that you did know about some porn use, right?

Peggy: Yes. I knew about some porn use.

 Anne: But you did not through this time view him as a porn addict? 

If My Husband Is Gay, What Does That Mean For Us?

Peggy: No, because he told me I’m not an addict. He said: “I’m not an addict so I can drop it and let it go” and I believed him. I have another friend who went through domestic violence and she actually also was very public, and he was a good guy in the recovery scene, you know it was a big deal and then things just fell apart in their marriage. Six years after the marriage, he and I have been talking a lot, and I was calling her and talking about something that was happening and him and with the family and she’s friends with him too and she’s like: “Peggy, there’s something about this.” She said: “This is a sex addiction system.”

She talks about systems and family systems and she’s also an LCSW. She’s was just explaining things to me and I was like: “Oh my gosh,” and so I believe that there is this underpinning of sex addiction that didn’t show up that way in the marriage with his actions and what he was doing. The true self that was showing up was showing both signs of it being a sex addiction. I also asked her, and this was after the marriage was over and I’d been talking to her for quite a while, I said: “So, he never hit me, there was never violence.” The only violent act was when we were going through the process of having discussions after he told me he wanted a divorce and those were very intense, and I learned a lot through those, he threw a glass. At the time we were living in an apartment with granite floors and it shattered on the floor. That’s when I set a boundary. I said: “That’s manipulation, you need to stop.” 

Anne: It was also physical intimidation. That’s actually physical abuse. 

Peggy: He did it after I left the room, but it rang throughout the whole building and he rarely showed his anger, which was super interesting. So, I asked my friend, I said: “So, am I a survivor of domestic violence? And she said: “Oh yes. Oh yes!” I was like: “Oh my gosh, really?” So, I was awakening,

The other thing that’s really interesting with this is, as I went back I actually pulled out all my journals, I’ve journaled all these years, and I went through different things that were happening to try and piece the puzzle together, and she said: “Back then you saw it from a place of trust and now you’re reliving the trauma because you’re seeing it from a place of not trusting and understanding that there wasn’t really trust there, but you trusted him.”

Anne: I think there’s an alternative way to say that and it is, for the benefit of our listeners, that you were viewing it from a place of trust and now you’re viewing it from a place of truth. So, what you are trusting in was a facade. It was not true. When you put your trust in something that’s not actually real then it disappoints you over and over and over again.

Peggy: It can never fulfill the dream of what you believe that relationship is. 

My Husband Is Gay, Now What?

Anne: Yeah, and it will keep cropping up but, you know I’ve said this on several other podcasts, but before my ex was arrested I thought he was a really good guy who would “kind of loose control every once and awhile” and now I view him as a very scary, dangerous man who wears a really nice mask and that mask falls off every once and awhile. Having that shift in my mind of who he is and what he’s really like changed everything for me. 

That’s what we go through when we realize the truth of what’s happening. We have to go back kind of to the beginning and process all the events that happened and use the criteria of truth to process that, which leads us in a very different direction then we had before where we were trusting based on a fantasy and based on the facade that they wanted us to see. 

So, any of you women out there who are dealing with a spouse who has same-sex attraction or identifies as gay, we’re not pro or anti-gay here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, but we are pro-safety of the victim. So, that is our main concern. If you are in a relationship with a man who is lying to you, manipulating you, and this might be part of the mix. Part of the mix might be that he’s talking about same-gender attraction or that he’s acting out with other men or that he’s saying that he’s gay, but he doesn’t want to divorce you for whatever reason and you’re getting kind of through the washing machine or the abuse cycle because of these issues. 

Coach Peggy is a really good one to talk to about these issues.

Peggy: So, part of what I realized through this process of divorce and waking up was that in the community for people with same-sex attraction that don’t want it, that are trying to align their value system with their life and their value system is maybe Judaism or Christianity or something that says families are where you want to be, you want to be married to a woman, and they want to align that belief system with their actions, there is a community for people that have same-sex attraction that are trying to do that. 

What I learned is that in the men’s community they do not talk at all about abuse. At least from my experience and from some of the men that I’ve checked with who are leaders in that community, they don’t really address abuse and part of what I realized is abusive to the wife in that community is so much emphasis on male connection and the men being with other men in healthy relationships that it leaves the wife behind. That she is second fiddle and that was a huge issue in my relationship throughout the whole marriage really. That she’s second fiddle so she’s not a priority.    

What Do I Do If My Husband Is Gay?

They need to be honoring their wife. They need to be spending time with their wife. They need to be seeing her as a whole person.

Anne: Yeah. From an abuse perspective that basically gives them a reason to put themselves above you. If I don’t do this. If I spend time with you and if I don’t go throw darts with these other men who also have same-sex attraction or whatever, I’m just making this up you know, but then I might act out. So, it’s kind of a threat. 

Peggy: Yeah, it is, and there are people in that community that I believe are not doing this, but I do see there are men like the man I used to be married to who use it as part of the abuse. I had one of the men in the community tell me that: “Oh yeah, men with same-sex attraction they don’t fight with their fists” and he pulled his hands back to his shoulders and he moved his elbows up and down. He said: “They fight like this with their elbows.” 

So, I was like: “Oh my gosh, it’s not for punches it’s the emotional stuff that can be so damaging.”

Anne: Peggy, thank you for sharing your personal experience with us.

Many women have a husband who is acting out with other men or using these types of things as threats and its part of the abuse cycle and they’re not seeing it that way. Just hearing someone else talk about it and be able to voice and give some language around it can help so many other women start describing what they’re experiencing. 

If you would like to schedule an individual appointment with Coach Peggy, go to BTR.org, and click on individual session and schedule with her today. She also does a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group session so if you’re in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group then that’s another place that you can meet her, and I really encourage you to do that.

Her BTRG session is a meditation session which I find the most helpful at this point in my life and we’re actually going to talk about that next week when Coach Peggy comes back on the podcast. 

Is My Husband Gay?

So, thank you for coming today Coach Peggy, and everybody stay tuned for what I have experienced through my meditations with Coach Peggy next week.

Summer is a super hard time. I keep saying that, but I know a lot of you are in pain right now and you might be thinking “I will just tough it out until the fall and then get help in the fall.” Please get help now. Our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is available on your phone, on your computer, multiple times a day and in multiple time zones. You can do it while you’re on vacation. You can do it while you’re camping. As long as your phone can connect to the internet, you can get help. So, check out the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group schedule, otherwise known as BTRG, on our website at BTR.org.

If this podcast is helpful to you, please make a recurring monthly donation, so that you can help other women the way that BTR has helped you. Go to our website BTR.org, scroll to the bottom, click on make-a-donation, and set your recurring monthly donation today. Thank you. We really appreciate your donations which help me continue to bring this information to women throughout the world. 

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Until next week, stay safe out there.
       

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