Thank you again - EACH of you - for taking the time and emotional energy to share so much wisdom and warmth!
it's all about James Hunter, now ;)
And here's the 180 link:
Anyway, she and I have been getting to know each other better & becoming friends. I asked her the other night about a date she had been on recently. She told me about 3 dates she had been on this year--all arranged by friends. Each guy had something "very wrong with him". She quickly decided that #1 was a Satanist, #2 was a rapist and #3 was a possible serial killer. This seemed extreme coming from her...until she started talking about her ex-husband.
Her ex-husband was an SA. The whole time she was married to him, he was having multiple, simultaneous affairs. He required her to do things sexually that she was NOT ok with. He fathered other children outside the marraige. He left for an OW, then cheated on OW with another OW. He finally found one who was easy to fool, married her & still cheats constantly.
Alot fell into place when I heard this story. Under that happy exterior is a woman very damaged by an SA. She has not allowed herself to trust or be intimate since. I shared with her what I knew about SA's and the effect on spouses. I told her there are meetings that help US to heal.
Did you tell her about the Partner's workshops on Recovery Nation? It's a wonderful way to begin to engage in healing in a safe forum :)
I was looking for the boundary setting info that 7 said on page 1 was at:
but I couldn't get that to come up. Perhaps the link is too old?
We're just starting down the SA road and I could use that advice.
I'll read more in this thread when I can.
I went to my WS and told him how I was feeling about having my trust violated so deeply. I told him that I felt like I had woken up to find my life was not my life and that I was just a fool playing a role in a vast conspiracy that I had previously had no knowledge of. I told him that I second-guessed everything he said (not that he communicates much to begin with). I told him that I had a lot of questions that I wanted answers to. Oddly, I had anticipated that he would honor his committment to quit lying & keeping secrets.
He #1 refused to answer my specific questions (like about having a secret wireless modem and apparently a secret computer as he owes Dell computers on an account I wasn't aware of).
He did say that he was going to continue going to the SAA meetings with an open mind & that he could relate to many of the stories of the other guys there.
He asked if this (marraige) was repairable. I told him that I could also relate to all of the stories I heard in the CoSA meetings. My feeling & reactions appeared to be quite typical. I told him there were several women who's husbands were in SAA recovery and they seem to be doing well. I told him I didn't know if there was any hope for our marraige as it seemed to hinge on how motivated he was to be in recovery & that was something I had no control over.
Again, I asked about the mobile modem. He got very defensive and basically told me that anything he had "done wrong" was my fault as his "wants and needs" have been ignored for years.
Hmmm...this is a man who prides himself on having empathy & compassion--and yet has none for me. My pain over his actions don't even register.
I know this, and yet I keep going to a dry well trying to get a drink of water over and over again. What did I learn? Don't go to my WS with my feelings or my questions. I can't expect honesty or emotional intimacy or even concern for my feelings. An I heard from WS was a bunch of self-pity and how he's such a martyr to put up with me and "try to make the best of things". Ladies, if I had a job that allowed me to be self-sufficient...I would have kicked his ass out then & there..."and take your nasty ass porn & your nasty ass whores with you!"
I went for coffee with a program person afterwards. She said--"of course he got defensive & blame-shifted. He may have gone to one meeting, but he's still an active addict. What does an active addict do when confronted with their lies & the consequences of their addiction?
*they admit to a tiny bit of the truth--but hold the whole truth back
*they indirectly threaten by doing things like pounding a table or slamming things or throwing things
*they threaten abandonment i.e. "I'm leaving--I don't have to put up with this crap" as they slam out the door.
*****(IMPORTANT) they blame-shift.
I KNOW this stuff from dealing with addicts of other substances, but have a hard time remembering to apply it to my WS. One of the most insideous things about SA is how easy it is to blame-shift onto the other partner in the marraige! It's going to be a real challege to not allow myself to buy into that crap, because we all know we are not perfect in our relationships. SA triggers all of our insecurities & makes it easy to feel like we caused the behavior.
I have to keep remembering: this addiction existed long before our relationship. I didn't cause it!
I have to keep remembering: this addiction existed long before our relationship. I didn't cause it!
I think we all have to remember that at times.
You already have at least an idea of how addicts behave. It took me months to start really understanding in my heart.
The fact that we take on some "responsibility" for their addiction and what they call their needs, speaks to our own issues.
I never realized that I might have some issues in the realm of sexuality and codependence and self-esteem, until I started healing.
For me, my real step to begin that process was telling my SAH that sex was not an option until I felt ok with it.
Until I didn't question myself before, during and after.
I was shocked by all the feelings that I was able to recognize when sex was no longer clouding it for me.
I think sex was my way to "feel" connected and close. It was a false feeling of intimacy.
Seekingpeace, I am not sure if it is 7yrs' boundaries or the site that gives great info on boundaries, but I will find the site and post it here.
No matter WHO my WS had partnered with--the relationship would have to be sabotaged--particularly in the area of sex. The addiction needs to cause problems in the marraige so it can tell the addict "you are justified to act out".
I told the other CoSA member that I had been tempted to buy into my husband's self-pity and blame last night. It's true that his sexual wants & needs haven't been met in the past few years. I haven't wanted to be physically intimate with him.
*I discovered that he was lying AGAIN about acting out with the pornography
*There was no emotional intimacy in our sex-life
*He had become increasingly demanding about me catering to his fetishes & wanting me to participate in acts that I did not want
*Due to his ED, sex had become a whole lot of work for me, all centered on HIS satisfaction…leaving me sexually frustrated
*He was acting like he was in a trance during sex—off in a fantasy world instead of being with me. He did things that were uncomfortable/painful to me. I would say “that hurts—please don’t do that” or jerk away only to have the same thing repeated over & over again
*I was left feeling alone & used afterward
*I didn’t know how deep and wide the deception went & was worried that I might get an STD
*I already felt betrayed by all of the secrets, lies and betrayal...so I walled myself off to keep from being hurt
The other CoSA member said, "I wouldn't want to have sex with my husband either under those conditions. If my husband treated me that way & was still acting out--the natural consequence would be that I would NOT want to have sex with him.
I had been thinking of it being the cause of my husband's acting out.
The dance has been going on for years. I detach, big time to keep from being hurt. The addiction tell my WS that he is entitled to what it wants & if I won't provide the fix--he's justified in ramping up the acting out.
I deserve to be treated with respect, and I am worthy of love & loyalty!!!!
Since I returned home last night, I have been civil, but very detached. I'm not doing the angry silent treatment...I'm just detached from his crap & thinking about taking care of ME.
I think my WS is scared. He's sitting up in his office (aka the "pornatorium") and has actually cracked open those sex addiction recovery books he brought home.
[This message edited by Tal at 11:35 AM, July 18th (Sunday)]
The first one is a great help with defining and setting boundaries. Give yourself time.
The second is a simple explanation of letting go.
Isn't it funny how what should be a very healthy boundary (acting out = no sex) instead turns into "our fault," in our head.
Natural consequence is also healthy boundary for us.
Seems simple doesn't it?
One of the most insideous things about SA is how easy it is to blame-shift onto the other partner in the marraige! It's going to be a real challege to not allow myself to buy into that crap, because we all know we are not perfect in our relationships. SA triggers all of our insecurities & makes it easy to feel like we caused the behavior.
I have to keep remembering: this addiction existed long before our relationship. I didn't cause it!
Tonight I found a way to confront him with his deleted history without tipping my hand about the keylogger. I told him that he didn't delete the Google search for the website, but that there was nothing in history after that, and that his cache shows that he did go to that website. "And because your visiting that website is not in your history tells me only one that, that you deleted it in the history."
He lied. Bald faced looked me clearly in the eye and lied. I told him it is no use that he needs to come clean. He held his ground and was the most convincing liar you ever saw. I sat calmly and just gave him the ol' blank stare while he lied and when he was done I told him, "I don't believe you."
Then he started to whine about how much he has to do and how much pain he is in all the time and nobody gives a shit and nobody cares and wah wah wah. Classic bullshit.
And then the quote from Tal that sums this whole bunch of baloney up:
this is a man who prides himself on having empathy & compassion--and yet has none for me. My pain over his actions don't even register.
Doesn't this just make you want to barf? Oh I wish I could sit him in front of the computer and show him the screenshots of him deleting his history... oh yeah.
You know he's lying. It's not personal, it's just an addict doing what addicts do. He's lying to himself most of all. It's all in these compartmentalized little boxes that they believe they can manage & that it really doesn't affect all the other boxes in their lives.
First and foremost your SA should have his own boundaries and consequences. My rSA has his own set of boundaries / behaviors / consequences and that is KEY. Your SA should be working a program and have two lists; "boundary behaviors*" and "bottom line behaviors**" and have self imposed consequences for violating those. (Although I just discussed this with my rSA and he said that if an SA is only going to SA or SAA he may only have a "bottom line" list. I personally think my rSA's approach is much better.)
*Boundary Behaviors: These are behaviors that the SA identifies as things that could lead him to breaking his sobriety or things that are generally unhealthy based on his core issues. For example some of my rSA's boundary behaviors are:
~Flipping through the program guide on cable he sees "VH1's 50 Hottest Celebrities" and flips to that channel to take a look.
~Seeing an attractive woman in the grocery store and going out of his way to get another or better look at her.
~Not changing the channel when something inappropriate comes on or not looking away.
So, if he does any of those things he's put on his list he's broken a boundary behavior and will set a consequence on himself, usually a chore he despises like cleaning the toilet. Again, this is HIS stuff. I stay out of it completely. The only exception would be if I were to see him do something and it upset me, I would talk to him about it and share how it made me FEEL. Period. This is not mine to put consequences on. This is HIS front line defense.
**Bottom Line Behaviors are those which he would be required to reset his sobriety for. Examples are: looking at porn, masturbating, looking at online personal ads or visiting inappropriate websites like AFF, having sex with anyone other than me.
My boundaries and consequences are all based on his bottom line behaviors and there are levels of severity.
My Level 1 Boundary: He looks at porn or masturbates.
My initial consequence: We do another 90 day abstinence contract and I ask him to show me that he is recommitted to working his program by going to additional counseling and more group meetings. We go to more marriage counseling.
My secondary consequence: If he refuses to comply with any of the initial consequence, I will separate from him for 90 days. If he still does not comply, I will file for divorce.
My Level 2 Boundary: He looks at online personal ads or places an ad but has not progressed to meeting anyone, he's just looked.
My initial consequence: We separate and HE is the one who has to move out. He must show that he is recommitted to his recovery by going to counseling more often and attending more groups. I will consider letting him come home when he's been sober for 6 months.
My secondary consequence: If he doesn't get sober or if he does not comply with any of the initial consequence, I will file for divorce.
My Level 3 Boundary:
If he has any kind of sexual physical contact whatsoever with another person.
My consequence: DIVORCE. Period. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. There are no second chances on this one. He fucks around again and that is it, I'm done.
For levels 1 and 2 there is an additional note, if he tells me about it the consequences stand as written, if he does not tell me and I find out on my own there will be an additional consequence for lying. I don't have that one set in concrete right now but I'm sure I will be able to find something that is appropriate. For Level 3, I have no illusions about that one, if I find out it will be on my own, he will never confess that to me and even if he does confess, that does not change the consequence. He screws around again and I'm gone. Period.
I hope that is helpful. What you have to do is figure out what works for YOU and your relationship. These are what work for me and yours may look very different.
Garbage, Sewage and Alligators (Oh My!)
In starting down my path of recovery from the trauma of my marriage to a sex addict I often heard an analogy about boundaries being like fences. I’ve gone a bit further and used that as a basis for describing my experiences with the discovery that my husband is a sex addict who cheated on me with multiple other women and the impact that’s had on me.
I fell in love with my husband based on what he chose to share with me and he chose only to share the good stuff. His house was tidy and he had pretty flowers in his yard. It seemed that his fences were well maintained but his gate was open and I felt welcome and safe. I'm not particularly interested in hashing out whether or not I was subconsciously drawn to him because of the hidden sewer line in his yard. Maybe that made his flowers prettier, who knows? I could only proceed with the information I had and I assure you, I didn’t know about the sewage he was hiding. I knew there was some garbage in his basement (a recent divorce and some issues with his family) but he assured me that it was under control and contained in his basement. I had no reason to suspect otherwise. While he did choose to hide quite a lot about himself from me, I don’t believe it was done with malice.
He was drawn to my good stuff as well. My tidy house and pretty garden. I was honest and admitted that my yard was so pretty because of the landfill beneath it. It contained some of the garbage from my past, which I had put to rest there. I was proud of the work I’d done in my garden and felt I could be honest about my garbage. I had tried diligently to remove things that were particularly toxic. I processed and then buried the larger, more toxic items in my backyard and planted flowers there. Not to ignore the garbage but because I truly believed I’d put it to rest. I explained that I thought I'd worked hard on my remaining garbage, sorting, labeling and stowing it in my basement. I figured that if I needed to look at items more closely they were accessible and eventually I could move more things to the landfill in the yard and clean out my basement. I didn't attempt to conceal it, though I may have minimized it a bit. It was working fairly well. Not a perfect system certainly but a workable one or so I thought. I didn’t realize that there were cables attached to many of the items in the basement which connected to buttons in my attic. I thought I was being open and honest, not knowing I was providing a control panel for him to use against me when his secrets were threatened.
After we began dating all the garbage in my basement and the landfill in my backyard was forgotten because of the warm glow of love coming from my newly lit fireplace, the heart of my house. Things were pretty perfect at first but gradually moved away from perfection to what I saw as REALITY. No relationship is perfect. No couple is all gooey, gushy, gah-gah in love every moment of every day. No couple has a roaring fire going in the fireplace every moment of every day. We settled into life with its ups and downs. We built a shared courtyard to join our houses and yards. In the center is a beautiful large tree and it was there that we placed our daughter’s tree house to keep her safe between us. I didn't know what was flowing in the gigantic sewer line buried beneath his yard or that it infringed upon our shared courtyard, nor did I know about the cesspool in his basement that was feeding it. I didn't see or smell it and I couldn’t have because I am not psychic. I did not have the keys to his basement, but I had inadvertently given him access to my basement through the control panel in my attic. When I got too close to his basement door he started pushing buttons in my attic, setting off alarms to draw me back to my house and to keep me away from the secrets in his basement.
We had been together for six and a half years when I accidentally punctured his sewer line. I wasn't intentionally digging in his yard. I was in our shared courtyard and had no idea that his sewer line extended into our common areas. The initial geyser flooded not only his yard but mine, narrowly missing our daughter’s tree house. My husband slowed the geyser to a trickle with a patch on the sewer line and a deadbolt on the door to keep me out of his basement where the really nasty shit was stored. He lit up my control panel and caused a short circuit. For eleven months I slogged through the sludge in my hip-waders trying to keep his shit out of my attic as well as our daughter’s tree house. I almost didn't succeed, I almost let his sewage completely drown me. The trickle was slowly killing me, poisoning my well. My yard was unlivable and my house was quickly becoming so as well, so I kept jumping the fence to dig in his yard and trying to pick the lock to his basement for the answers I needed. I knew that trickle had to lead to more. Finally, because I had no other choice, I jumped the fence and used a backhoe to dig in his yard until I broke through his patch and released the geyser again. This drained his basement cesspool out into his yard and mine. Thankfully, our daughter’s tree house was mostly spared though the stench of the sewage did have an impact on her. We both tried to protect her. At this point his sewage also flooded my basement. It started eating through the boxes that held all my garbage that I'd tried to neatly box, label and stow away. The next thing I knew, all my garbage was floating in his sewage. Then sinking. All the flowers in my yard died and his sewage seeped down and unearthed all my toxic stuff that I thought I'd seen the last of. Suddenly I had big ass crates of toxic waste coming up out of my yard, breaking open and adding to the disaster. The level rose at an alarming rate, his sewage mixed with my garbage was a huge volume of shit. It got so high that it flooded the heart of my house and for a time I couldn't light my fireplace at all. My attic was in grave danger of flooding too. It was hard to keep it dry. All the while I was also trying to keep my daughter out of the worst of it.
The enormity of the geyser in his backyard drew all the emergency crews. A lot of people were working hard to clean up his yard, his basement, the heart of his house, and even his attic, including me. My yard, my house, my hearth, my attic were an afterthought at best. My garbage was just part of the mess and sometimes it was hard to tell my garbage from his sewage. My basement went mostly ignored and so did the heart of my house. Some attention was given to the yard (gotta keep up appearances) and my attic (gotta keep the house alive.)
I've spent the last couple of years slogging around in shit. I was asked to wait while the worst of his sewage was dealt with and my soggy garbage was unceremoniously dumped back into my yard in worse shape than ever. With the help of my counselor, I dug around in my attic and found a life raft. I pulled myself in and tried to get dry. Then I started using a shop vac to clean out my house. There were times when my husband was so mired down in his own sewage that he kept trying to climb into my life raft and shove me out. There were times it felt like he also kept smacking me in the head with the paddle every time I tried to climb back in. Many times, I saw him coming and jumped all by myself. Sometimes, I simply dropped my paddle and set myself adrift because I was just so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of shit. I kept expecting my husband to throw me a lifeline. Sometimes he did, sometimes not. Often I had to just find my paddle again. Sometimes my counselor handed it to me but mostly I had to find it on my own because funding for my recovery was limited by the vast amounts being spent on my husband’s recovery.
I think I've slowly been draining my husband's crap back into his yard so that I can find all my garbage so that I can deal with it but sometimes it’s hard to keep my gate closed. His sewage has left a hell of a mess. And alligators. Big ones. Lurking and waiting to jump out and sink my life raft and drag me under. If I’m lucky a gator will just yank my paddle away but there are times the damage is much worse and I find myself in a battle for survival. So here I am with this gigantic mess, one that's not easily cleaned up and I’m also plagued with alligators. I have to fish all my soggy, smelly garbage out, then sort, label and stow it again, hopefully without losing a limb. Some of it just needs to be burned. Wet garbage doesn't burn so well. This entire task seems overwhelming to me. When it was just my garbage and it was dry it was easier to deal with but now it's all soaked in his sewage and some of it seems to have tripled or quadrupled in weight. Plus his shit made it sticky and some of it is cemented to the sidewalk now, making my path slippery and treacherous when I do dare to step out of the life raft into our shared courtyard. I'm slowly trying to shove it out into my front yard to dry it out then deal with it. But let's face it, the stuff in the house is small, it's the giant broken crates of toxic waste in the back yard that loom over me and scare me back into the house. Plus the alligators, let’s not forget them.
My husband's got a full crew over at his place helping with his recovery (a CSAT and weekly group). I've had some help (my counselor) but much of what I've had to do, I've done alone. I tried going down to the community center (a support group for spouses of SA) expecting to find women in similar situations who could share tools and perhaps we could tie our life rafts together to make us less vulnerable to the alligators. My husband found a lot of help at the community center (his SA group) and it seemed reasonable to hope I'd find the same. I gladly loaned out my tools in the hopes that by doing so, I'd get to borrow some useful tools I could use to get rid of the alligators. It sure didn't work out that way. Mostly I was told that I chose to be dipped in his sewage, that I had to have known it was there all along and now I had to either abandon my house or learn to live in shit. At times, additional sewage was pumped into my yard from the community cesspool. I refused to accept that! I changed groups but I never found a true community so I am on my own now.
My husband has been working very hard on his house and yard. We’ve both worked hard on our shared courtyard so that our daughter has a safe, clean, dry place. We are able to come together in the safety of the courtyard more and more now. We’re planting flowers together and my fireplace is glowing again.
It's time for me to attack the mess in the yard. The big stuff. The toxic stuff. The really soggy, nasty stuff that's so overwhelming. And the alligators, I still have to battle them too. I can’t do it alone. I'm not even sure I've got the right equipment. The infomercial says I can do it in 12 easy steps but that program doesn’t feel right for me. I cannot accept their labels and decrees that I am a co-addict. I don’t think the program allows for or helps with the alligators. How can I take the steps when I’ve got alligators nipping at my heels? But I’m working on finding what will work for me.
Tal, great advice.
7, thanks for the posts. ironically shit (poop)is a HUGE trigger for me. just the word makes me retch. you sharing about the CoSA group was helpful. Did you ever use recovery nation? they seem to have a really healthy "fix" on SA's.
Oh boy, did I want to show him the proof (the screenshots) that he was lying, but that would only expose the keylogger. The proof was indisputable. I held my ground and told him that I don't want to hear any more of his lies, and that he might as well admit it because life will be a whole lot easier when he does. But he still continued to lie.. he said, "Do you want me to just make up something? Is that what you want to hear?"
It was a lesser boundary that he broke by lying, but a boundary nonetheless. He has no boundaries. Never has...
Thank you for the boundary lessons, Tal. I need to think about these more and to set even clearer boundaries with him. He is not in recovery, he is white-knuckling. He refuses treatment or to enter into any SA recovery program. I'm in limbo with him and it sucks and I'm so depressed.
[This message edited by Nouveau at 6:21 AM, July 19th (Monday)]
I was just thinking about it yesterday.
I've been saying for a long time that we are trauma victims who suffer from PTSD.
I was excited to find this book and I really want to read it when I can afford to buy it.
"Your Sexually Addicted Spouse"
Sexual addictions and compulsive sexual behavior are growing societal problems, with as many as three to six percent of the world population affected. Your Sexually Addicted Partner shatters the stigma and shame that millions of men and women carry when their partners are sexually addicted. They receive little empathy for their pain, which means they suffer alone, often shocked and isolated by the trauma. Barbara Steffens' groundbreaking new research shows that partners are not codependents but post-traumatic stress victims, while Marsha Means' personal experience provides insights, strategies, and critical steps to recognize, deal with, and heal partners of sexually addicted relationships. Firsthand accounts and stories reveal the impact of this addiction on survivors' lives. Chapters end with “On a Personal Note” questions and propose new paths that lead from trauma to empowerment, health, and hope.
I haven't read all the posts. Are you back in college working towards a degree in counseling?