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Vulnerability v pain (sorry long 1st post)

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FixYou71 posted 3/3/2014 14:54 PM

First off, I found SI two weeks ago today. I have been hesitant to post for a few reasons. One, It's very difficult for me to make sense of the million different things swirling around in my brain. Hard to know which issue to focus on. An hour in my head is so exhausting and confusing and sad.

Two, the infidelity that I am dealing with is not what others that I have seen here so far are dealing with. Mine is not a story of an actual AP. My fallout is a result of my H's porn use. I hesitate because I don't want to diminish others' pain who are dealing with flesh and blood, living, breathing APs but I don't think I could handle it if someone told me I was overreacting and my pain wasnt justified.

Oct 2007 I confronted my H with evidence of his porn use. I had waited a few weeks to confront him after initially discovering that my gut instincts were right. I went to a therapist and he happened to work with men with porn issues. His advice was that generally they use it to fill a void due to depression or stress. It made me see it in a different light (I had an appt with a lawyer) and I decided I wanted to try to work things out. H initially lied about the length of time he'd been viewing but he was caught off guard and did come clean I believe. It had been 2 yrs. I felt somewhat responsible because I had been in bed for 80% of that time (since 2001) with chronic back pain and depression. Our marriage had never been very good. We married because we got pregnant (2 mos after our 1st date, I was 21) and neither of us knew what we were doing. This upset made me want to focus on loving him better and I really wanted us to be close. I was so lonely. I tried but threw my guard back up right away (within a week or so) when I perceived he was not as interested in me as I was in us. I went back to numbess and isolating myself. I couldn't be vulnerable. It didnt feel safe.

Forward to fall 2012. I heard Brene Brown speak on vulnerability and had an 'A-ha moment'. Wrote my husband a letter and committed to myself I would try to be vulnerable no matter how hard it would be and that I really wanted to have intimate love between us. Holy crap, its been ridiculously hard. I thought it would be the hardest thing I'd ever done. I cried constantly, failed many times as I withdrew out of fear that he couldn't love me that deeply. Was constantly thinking about the porn and wondering if he'd gone back to it. Had the worst self esteem of my life. I would cry every time I took a shower, every time I had to fix my hair and makeup, when we had sex, every night I cried myself to sleep. Even burst into tears a few times in public. I was sure he couldn't be attracted to me. He would tell me I was beautiful and he didnt see me the way I see myself. I continued in this way bringing us to May 2013. I had lingering fears all these months of trying to stay vulnerable that he had gone back to porn at some point. I had eluded to it in emails to him with no response. Finally I told him I had to know and he admitted he had. He had quit around the time when I wrote him the vulnerability letter. So we'd been going 8 months trying to be present, loving each other better, being more intimate when I found out. I was crushed. I had constant chest pain for 5 or 6 days. I forgave him again but it was so hurtful as he had seen me sob the last time. He had heard me say if it happens again our marriage is over and if he felt the urge to please come to me and tell me. I felt he chose porn over us, over me. He never came to me and tried to get help for us. He knew what would probably happen if he did it and he did it anyway. I did feel empathy for him. I knew loneliness and how it felt not to be wanted. He broke down and cried. Said he was an ass. Said he couldn't believe he did this to me. He was so sorry. But he also said he didn't understand why it mattered to me because I didn't seem to care about him at the time.

Forward to now, 10 months after dday#2. I am broken. This has been the most painful thing I ever could have imagined. That place that was ours, the one thing I knew was just ours despite the rocky marriage and lack of vulnerability and intimacy was not ours anymore. There had been hundreds of other woman over the course of 7 years in that sacred place. Memories of orgasms over other womens bodies, memories of body parts and faces and sex acts. Memories of fantasies that he chose and created about women with perfect parts doing things that really turned him on. I imagine him scrolling through web sites to find the perfect turn on, the perfect sex act for his mood, the body and face and body parts that are exactly what he wants to see. They aren't me. They're nothing like me. I've had two children. I'm almost 43 years old. Im not in a 20 year olds' body anymore. Not even close. There are triggers everywhere. In public it's any attractive woman. At home it's women on tv or in movies. Sometimes unforseen nudity or innuendo can trigger so much pain and ruin the rest of what could have been a good day and I end up sobbing in my room. For 8 months I apologized. I thought I was really depressed because it was so hard to be vulnerable. I was embarrassed of my pain. The constant sobbing spells, the intense fear, the deep self loathing, the chest pains, I thought I was going crazy. Many times I told him I knew there was something really wrong with me. I didn't know why I was so screwed up. I was desperately afraid my pain would drive him away. Then I found SI.

Now I see for the first time I am not crazy. The horrible mental images I have written him about so many times are not just me being crazy. The fear, the crying, the hopless feelings of never being able to feel whole or 'normal' are all over these boards.

He says he doesn't know what to say when I get that way so he just tries to hold me. I keep wondering if/when I'll ever get to experience his love in its fullness. When he says kind things to me (that I'm beautiful or sexy or that he loves me more than anything in the world, that he can't imagine life without me, that he's so glad I'm his wife) I always feel this pang of bittersweetness. Like I want that to be true. I want it so badly, but it feels like it couldn't be true about me. It makes me sad. I want to hear those things and feel great and know I'm special, set apart from everyone else, but my heart can't fully hear it I guess.

I've been afraid that this recovery is my job. Though he is sorry and he does hold me and try to be there for me, I'm afraid that it could happen again. Not just the porn but the whole empty relationship. He says it only happened because he was in a dark place and he's a different man now, that he doesn't plan on being that guy ever again but how does he know? It just seems so easy for him to know that and move on while for me everything is scary and painful and anxiety invoking and I'm having to scout the internet to figure out what's happening to me. I guess I wanted to see him take charge and do his own searching so I could see it was a really big deal to him and not just to me. Everything else indicates he wants this too but I'm so desperate I guess I need to see him desperate for some reason. Also, I don't know how much of this is porn aftermath and how much is the vulnerability I started trying to attain. After dday#1 I buried my head in the sand so quickly I was able to just be angry. I never dealt with it.

As a side not I feel I should mention his porn use was not daily or even weekly. It was from a few times in a few weeks to mostly every few months, according to my H and he said it was always very brief, only a few minutes each time. That he didn't 'need' it but wanted to see a woman's body before he relieved himself. He says he didn't mas****ate while viewing. I feel sick even typing that.

Any insight on the vulnerability vs infidelity aftermath? This feels like it will never end.

[This message edited by FixYou71 at 3:23 PM, March 3rd (Monday)]

karmahappens posted 3/3/2014 15:05 PM


I am sorry you need to be here.

I have no experience with porn, so I will let others weigh in and step aside.

I just wanted you to know that here

I hesitate because I don't want to diminish others' pain who are dealing with flesh and blood, living, breathing APs but I don't think I could handle it if someone told me I was overreacting and my pain wasnt justified.

We believe pain and betrayal are all equal. You hurt, you need support and you deserve to be heard.

We are here to listen, give advice when we can and support you,with comforting words, advice, sometimes with 2x4's and other moments with silent prayer.

Be good to you and come back whenever you need the help.


[This message edited by karmahappens at 3:06 PM, March 3rd (Monday)]

Lionne posted 3/3/2014 15:20 PM

He's an addict. His use of porn on place of a relationship with you IS betrayal, no less real or painful than any other. I know, I've been there. So many others have been there. You are not alone. Those feelings of inadequacy are common in spouses of porn addicts.

It's extremely unlikely that his porn use is as infrequent as he says. It is possible that he stops for some periods of time. That's called white knuckling. It doesn't last.

He needs specialized treatment from a certified sex addiction therapist. So do you. He needs to attend 12 step meetings SA SAA or SLAA. You would benefit from a similar support group Sanon or Cosa.

There are excellent books on porn addiction. He needs to want to change. He can. But this is a HARD addiction to beat. It's an intimacy disorder at heart, often beginning in childhood.

It's NOT you. It's not about your body, your illness, it's about a brain chemistry disorder, an addiction that is self perpetrating, about shame and guilt.

Join us in the I Can Relate forum. We know where you are.

IWantDoOver posted 3/3/2014 18:17 PM

I had been in bed for 80% of that time (since 2001) with chronic back pain and depression.

If your physical and emotional pain has been going on since 2007, I'm concerned that you've been struggling with a deep, dark depression. Would you consider professional help? Someone to talk to about depression and the impact of porn on your self-esteem?

FixYou71 posted 3/3/2014 19:31 PM

Thank You for reading and hearing me.
I have learned sooo much since finding SI.
Actually have felt more anger at myself for being so hard on myself for not being able to manage the depth of my hurt/anxiety. I know better now.

I have done a lot of research on porn/porn addiction. Read a lot of posts all over relating to the subject as well as reading from experts. Initially that's all I knew to look up. I wanted the man's perspective on why.
After extensive reading I really do not believe my H is/was a porn addict. He was never one to look at magazines or movies or even go to strip clubs as a teen or young adult. His porn viewing really did appear to be that infrequent based on the cookies and internet history I found. He answered a lot of difficult questions and I do believe that it could have become an addiction but in his case was a choice he made to deal with his lonliness and depression. He said he felt so guilty afterward every time. I will keep that in mind though and will do more research to see if my view on possible addiction have changed. Maybe I am too close to see but I do feel he has changed. His attitude and actions are completely different. He is a totally different person to me than he was for the first 20 years of our marriage. We were both very dysfunctional in our abilities to love and show love and be vulnerable.
He has FOO issues as do I. His mother left him and moved to another state when he was twelve and he has issues with feeling he was loveable after that. His dad is another story.
My brother did have a porn addiction and his behaviors were way different than my husbands.
In regard to the depression, yes. I became extremely depressed shortly after I hurt my back in 2001. Spent years in bed. Used to imagine myself slitting my wrists and falling asleep just to stop feeling the severe pain.
I have been on antidepressants a lot over the years. Currently have a script have not started taking it yet. Something in me told me I needed to deal with the issues and not just medicate. As I learn more I may feel more comfortable using small doses to help keep the serotonin levels in a reasonable range as the stress and sadness/anxiety have severely affected me. I just didn't want a cover up. I was numb and avoiding life for so long I felt I owed it to myself to face my life if I could do it.
Now my depression is pretty bad and I do think I need to see someone to help work through all of this. The self esteem issues and hurt are too much for my feeble mind right now.

Thanks for listening. God bless you.

painfulpast posted 3/3/2014 20:44 PM

He's an addict.

From someone married to a man that, at a minimum, as some REAL porn issues, I'm not seeing it.

What makes you think this? Did I miss something?


Lionne posted 3/3/2014 21:06 PM

I apologize for diagnosing online. I will say this. Sex addiction is AN INTIMACY DISORDER. If he was using images of other women IN PLACE OF A REAL RELATIONSHIP, well, if it acts and quacks...I'd be more likely to call it SA. You state "hundreds of other women."

Not to mention that your feelings of rejection are typical those of a spouse abandoned to a porn addiction.

At the minimum, an evaluation by an expert would be helpful.

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