But what I think has happened since DDay, something went kablooey inside me and ramped up a lot of the characteristics of co-dep that I either didn't have before, or had only mildly in the past. And as I learned more about it, I could see additional behaviors starting to manifest and getting worse more clearly whereas if I wasn't educated about it, it wouldn't have been so readily apparent to me. So now I'm a little more co-dep than I'd like to admit, but I can see it and am working on it. Had you asked me before all this went down, or even a month after discovery, I would have said HELL no.
I don't want WH's SA to define me. I think that's what co-dep can do to you if you let it. But the problem is you can't go through that kind of life-changing event without it having an effect on you, and it's not all going to be good. So I'm glad I went in with an open mind and was able to see some of the co-dep stuff I had or was becoming, so I could address it head-on now. I mean, sure, I could pick any psychological "condition" or whatever out of a book and find some "symptom" of it I had, even if I wasn't remotely whatever it was. But I also can't ignore that so many people hitched to SAs are co-dep, so I must have some commonality in there.
I think also, because there is more education and awareness, we are catching the addictions at an earlier stage and trying to "fix" it with all the resources available. When maybe it is a cycle/journey that they HAVE to go through the whole ordeal, hit the bottom, etc and go through the whole thing to really "get" it and be able to get help. And we on the sidelines are just traumatized to no end watching the train wreck and enduring the colateral damage, knowing there's nothing we can do to stop it. You can't do that and not develop some co-dep stuff, I don't think.
But what do I know. I'm so early in this, and every day I find there is more I don't know. It's a big mess.
And here are my co-dependent issues/behaviors, identified in the book:
Form of self-protection
I minimized, discounted or rationalized things - denying them b/c I did not want them to be true.
The truth would have tapped my greatest fear - of being unloved and abandoned. I felt shame and humiliation. So I clung to the illusion of safety and security.
Basically, I dismissed my own intuition so many times that I lost touch with it. This started in 2003. Or maybe it started at the very beginning of our relationship. Probably the latter.
Fear and Manipulation (by the addict):
"People who get frostbite are often unaware of the damage that is occurring b/c they simply cannot feel the burn. Now couple your need for denial with the fact that sex addicts are masters of misdirection. They perform sleight-of-hank tricks that create illusions, distort events, and make crises disappear."
That's my husband.
He could charm or shame me right out of my distrust. Anything to protect his STASH - the OW. My best friend and I have nicknamed the OW "Stash" because that's all she really is.
I have lived large chunks of my marriage in response to my husband's behavior. I had/have an insatiable need to know what he is doing, thinking and feeling so that I could control him. "Preoccupation is a major co-dependent attribute."
Also hypervigilance became a way of life for me. It's exhausting and stressful and probably took a toll on my physical health at times.
I am still preoccupied, but it's getting a little better.
An attempt to bring stability to chaos and safety to what is dangerous. Also a defense against SHAME. This is a biggie for me. When you are controlling, you feel empowered - it imparts a sense of power at at time in your life when you are overwhelmed with fear.
I monitored his computer, snooped, cancelled my own plans, declined invitations, gave him the silent treatment, lied to him about what I knew/didn't know, threatened him, etc.
And of course controlling behaviors like this rest of the assumption that I had control over the addict. And I still believe that at the beginning, for years, I had some control over him. Not anymore.
And Image Management
I projected to the world that my husband and i were well and happy. I learned to live in this fantasy, which made me believe everything WAS okay unless I was slapped in the face with some new hurt or acting out by my husband.
I started becoming "adept at living with a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior" to the extent that it stopped bothering me unless I had proof. Which leads me back to denial and minimizing.
I kept myself busy with the kids and schools and friends so I could pretend nothing was wrong.
PERFECTIONISM - became my image management.
Tonight I'll read the last part about distorted anger and sideways anger. I'm sure I have those codependent behaviors too.
Did I always have these traits? I don't think so, except perhaps for the perfectionism. One of the reasons why I love this book is how the author explains that they are a reaction to the addict's actions. They are self-protective. I'm not convinced that anyone would do things very differently if they ended up in a situation like marriage to a manipulative sex addict.
As I remember, it basically says we all have the co-dep behavior, but the WHY behind it is for survival, not because we are co-dep. I totally agree with that concept. I think it even said to tell a spouse who is actively trying to survive using this behaviors are further traumatized when they are told they are co-dep and enabling the addict's problem. I tend to agree with that statement.
However, I think post-discovery we all have the potential to become truly co-dep, and the circumstances we are in all but guarantees it will happen if we don't actively combat it. I see it in myself.
I totally did things to survive immediately after discovery. Shock/PTSD made it difficult to see everything as it really was. But as I go further in my recovery, I see if I'm not careful, the circumstances of my life will make me co-dep if I am not careful.
The way I see it, I had a few habits and tendencies before that unfortunately made it super easy for WH to lead his double life. Upon discovery, I went through the classic shock/PTSD stuff as Black described. Now that the shock /numbness/fog/whatever is lifting, I see myself developing all sorts of co-dep habits/traits I didn't have before, and I'm seeing habits/traits I've always had that are not conducive to my healing.
So I'm doing whatever it takes to change those habits and traits. At this point I'm not so concerned whether I am truly co-dep or not, or PTSD, or whatever. I need to change the habits and traits by whatever means are effective. I'm pretty sure the why behind each these things may vary, so I don't want to get hung up on a universal "this is what is wrong with you". I'm taking more of the "Hey dumbass, you are doing X. Why exactly do you do this?" approach. And when I try to explain it TO SOMEONE ELSE, as opposed to myself, it becomes pretty clear why I do it. But I need the therapist to probe to find the questions, or I need to see it in others in my shoes to recognize it in myself. Currently I am not able to see a lot of it in myself without this help. And to me it doesn't matter why I can't see it right now, just that I have found a way to allow me to see it.
IDK if any of this makes sense but that's my thinking on the co-dep vs. claudia black's approach.
You didn't say if you are in IC or any sort of therapy/program. If you haven't started, I hope you will now.
Also, now you know you have had enough, what are you going to do? Explore D? Kick him out? Make a list of boundaries/requirements that he must meet to stay? I know you are down to your last iota of energy. Do you have help and support to do what every it is you NEED to do?
I dont know if they recover. I am 7 months from dday. I dont think my h is acting out, but then, neither did you. He says he is not tempted, he is not thinking negatively about me (which is part of his cycle), and other things. But when there is a woman on tv in a sexy outfit, what is he thinking about? I cant know.
I guess we can look for the results of real changes in their life/actions not just what they say. Do you feel he is doing the true soul searching to understand himself? I think thats really the first step to stopping/recovery is them getting to know their true selves and getting over their own denial. They also have to be ready and wanting to change.
What has your therapist said? Are they a CSAT (certified to deal with sa?)?
My question is, how do you define the INTERDEPENDENCY of marriage from co-dependency. I really think that the 2 terms are confused.
When you marry ("and the 2 shall become one") there is an implied interdependency. We have expectations of one another, we count on one another. Roles are established (even if they are non-traditional roles), issued are faced together. There is a healthiness to this interdependence. It's normal. And it's normal to be disappointed with our spouses when expectations are not met. In healthy relationships, those disappointments are discussed, adjustments made, and life goes on.
So for example, if my H promises to do something for me, and he doesn't follow through, I think it would be normal to be disappointed and/or angry. I may even do the task because it needs to get done. But the issue would be discussed, resolved and we would move on.
I think where co-dependency is when something goes wrong with interdependency. Our spouses continually fail to keep promises and meet expectations. We start picking up more and more and more responsibility. Eventually we stop even expecting anything from our spouse. Instead of discussions, resentments grow.
OR we hold the line. We keep our expectations high. We talk about behavior in terms of how it effects us and our family. We support recovery and have expectations about that. And at some point we may need to cut them loose.
Just being married to a SA doesn't make you a co-dependent. And I think we need to be very careful about defining ourselves in relationship to who someone else is. To me, defining our selves based on our SAH is the ultimate co-dependency.
Just my 2 cents on not such a great day.
I was so happy to read that your pathological results were benign!
I consider my H to be in a successful recovery. I would not say "recovered" but recovering. My H has been in recovery for over 2 years now. He sees a CSAT, goes to a CSAT led group every week, and is in 12 step. He is on his 10th step, and hopes to become a sponsor in the future.
I don't hold my H "accountable". He owns his recovery, I own mine. I do not manage his recovery. He is recovering for himself, not me or our marriage. None of us know what the future could bring. If he were to find himself alone, be it through my death or my decision that I no longer wished to be in the marriage, I would hope that he would maintain his hard earned recovery for himself.
Right now, you need to focus on YOU. Read through the resources on page one of the thread. There are books you can read, you should see your own CSAT, and there is 12 step for YOU. Even if you decide that you do not want to be in this marriage anymore, you should get help and recover for yourself. I am not a big believer that spouses should stay no matter what, and especially if your WH does not enter into a real recovery it is crazy making to stay.
Honestly, you can't help him. I know that is frustrating, but he has to really want recovery. Just being able to admit to SA is not enough. My H admitted that he was a SA over 10 years ago in a suicide letter. But that did not prompt recovery. He saw a few IC's over the years and white knuckled at times, but he did not enter recovery until he hit rock bottom. Maybe this will be your WH's rock bottom moment. When the SA is in recovery, it will change everything about them. You will know and see the difference. And it is sustainable, unlike white knuckling.
Right now the most important thing is to take care of YOU. That is where your emphasis needs to be. I know that in the early days that is really hard. I remember that panicked feeling, the anxiety that doesn't leave. Hugs to you. Keep reading, learning, and posting.
Without going into any sort of depth on the subject (my kids are patiently waiting to start xmas cookies, lol), I believe there is definitely a difference between interdependency and codependence. I do believe that many of us are co-dependents. I know for myself that I am. It isn't something I need to shame myself over or get angry about, but something I need to learn to transcend and enter into healthier relationships and make better choices. I realize that isn't a popular stance but just my 2 cents.
I hope you are taking care of yourself in this holiday season. The holidays are very stressful and sad for me, and I am sure for many of us. I felt the lowest I have felt in a long time this week, and I think a lot of it is the residual brokenness of SA on my family unit. Knowing that we will never have those family moments that we once did, even if they were just a facade. It is a big loss.
I loved your comments on the Claudia Black book. I really identified with things in that book, too. I think your summary of these points is great for all of us.
No addict is ever recovered. They are forever recovering. Many SA's are very successful in their journey and don't act out anymore. They may always have the desire, but they are able not to act on it.
Many here can probably add to this list, but a recovery journey of the sex addict includes:
1. A good therapist, preferably one that specializes in addictions. Some here say it is best if they are CSAT (certified sex addiction therapist). CSAT's are not available in every area, so if that's not possible, at least get an addiction therapist.
2. A 12 step group. In the SA world there are two groups. One is called Sex Addicts Anonymous and the other is Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. I'm sure someone here can speak to the differences. What my H has told me is that even among the SLAA meetings, the personality of each group is very different. It may take a while to find a group with the right "fit". Most therapists suggest the "90 in 90" for a beginner. That means 90 meetings in 90 days. My H has been going to a meeting every day since June 2nd. It helps to have the support of a group.
3. Working the steps (the 12 steps). Just going to a meeting is not enough. It is also about taking the steps to understand themselves and their addiction with new understanding.
4. Learning about sex addiction. it is a bit different from substance addiction since it fits more into the category of behavioral addiction like shopping, gambling and eating addictions. there are lots and lots of good sites on the internet that have lots of good information.
For the spouse:
1. Remember always that you did nothing to make your H an addict. likewise, there is very little you can do to make him want to recover. this is his journey and he has to find is own way out of the wilderness.
2. It is perfectly okay for you to set limits, but if you make an ultimatium, be sure you can follow through.
I used to say, "If this ever happens again, I'm going to throw you out." Well, I never did and it just meant that i didn't follow my own word. I have moved to setting boundaries. For example, I can't make him go to a meeting, but I have made it clear that he can not be here when there is a meeting in our area. To be perfectly honest, he may be going to a strip club for all I know (but I don't think so), but he is not at home.
3. I find that learning about SA was very helpful. I read and read and read. I knew exactly what I was dealing with very early on. That knowledge has helped me have a better understanding that this is not about me.
4. Many will recommend COSA, another 12 step group for spouses. The group support is very important. If you don't have a group in your area, any 12 step group for partners (al-anon) will help you.
5. Remember that in addition to dealing with the addiction, you are also dealing with infidelity. That pain needs to be recognized and embraced. That's part of what made SI so, so important to me. When I first came here i spent a lot of time on the "Just found out" and the "general" forum to learn from others and to share my own experience.
For both of you:
At some point, and probably not right away, couples counseling will be helpful.
There is even a 12 step program for couples recovering from the devistation of SA. I can't remember the name of it, but it could be helpful too.
This is a hard time of year to be dealing with all of this. For the last couple of page of this tread, people have been sharing what they are doing to take care of themselves. You need to take care of YOU. Allow yourself to be embraced by your family and friend. Look for a little good in the world each day. There is ALWAYS light after the darkness and we are forever strengthened by our trials.
Wow, this is the epitome of what I'm feeling right now. I think it's the first time I've realized that my former reality was not reality, and yet part of me still wants to pretend because I was happy in the fantasy, but maybe my denial has been a big part of the problem this whole time.
On the subject of co-dependence you put my exact thoughts into words! Although some may be co-dep, and some may develop more tendencies due to their h's addiction, I also feel its unfair to lump everyone into a group and, as you wrote, define them based on their husband. I feel that is what my counselor does.
I want to be open to the idea, consider it fully, that its a possibility. But I don't accept right now that I am one. If I am, then Im really crappy at it, lol.
I am going to check for that book at my library.
I know I'm codependant and probably always have been because of my FOO (both of my parents have personality disorders & my mother is an active alcoholic). Literally, codependancy *is* my normal. I never recognized it, and actually used to think that 'normal' behaviors were weird & disconnected. LOL OMG!! I am so screwed up! Seriously. I am. Not that any of you are surprised, lol.
I'm trying to change my entire way of thinking and frame of reference. It's harder than I can explain, particularly while living with an active addict. I'm trying to reframe things in terms of what I need for me, leaving out SAWH's behaviors. For me, this is harder than I think it should be. For example, I tend to think
"I'd feel safer if SAWH would do X, Y or Z"
which bases *my* need on *his* behavior. *I* need to be responsible for my feelings and behavior, I need to stop trying to give him responsibility for me. My problem is simply that this way of thinking is deeply ingrained in me and I often don't recognize what I'm doing right away.
Boundaries and consequences are foreign to me. I can remember specific instances from my childhood and my marriage when I tried to set boundaries and consequences and was shot down and punished for doing so. So I was taught not to have boundaries or consequences. I don't care if I can't love myself for not enforcing boundaries or consequences- all I want is for SAWH to "love" me and for him to come home to me. I'm so pathetic, but I *do* think those things.
I'm slowly changing though. I'm learning 'baby boundaries'. I started small and am working on bigger ones. My therapist is teaching me to share my feelings and state myself clearly and to remember that his response is his to own; which is why I've been avoiding her lately. Like that's going to help me. She has also been working with me on letting go of the tyranny of the shoulda, coulda, woulda, if onlys.
Anyway, I could write more, but I've chores to do.
"Live a life not an apology." Edward R.Murrow
"I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it."
I identify with your feelings very much. I struggle with them too. Just a few days ago I decided that I've given SAWH enough power & allowed the consequences of his behaviors to take away so much of the positives in my life. I love Christmas, the season has always been a source of joy and strength and togetherness for me, I refuse to give those good feelings up because of him. It has taken me a long while to get to this point, though. Hugs!
IMO, addiction is never a past tense. The addict must actively work sobriety and recovery always. The addictive traits will always be present. As far as knowing what to believe, I'm a strong supporter of verifying by any means necessary- particularly when the addict is in denial, has slipped, etc. just for your own safety and peace of mind. The problem is that it can be very hard to walk the line between verifying and obsessing. Always trust your gut, it won't lie. There are members here at SI whose SA spouse is in active recovery- but there are more members who have had to move on from the M due to active addiction.
Personally, I HATED being the one making all the decisions, large and small, I longed for the partner I hac in our early marriage, where we discussed and decided together, I particularly hated it because, inevitably, my decisions were always second guessed or out right WRONG because every female in the entire universe was so much better, smarter, dressed better, decorated in a more tasteful manner, and of course far more talented in bed than I. You see, they were "real" women,
This disease creates this role in many of us. We enable and codepend because it becomes the only stability we have. It is self preservation-a life preserver in a sea of deceit, betrayal, lies and ugly fairy tales that are out to destroy us. No one will ever convince me that these men had any sense of love for us when they were at their worst. We were just a convenient facade behind which they could hide.
I know that that is the essence and definition of an addict. They love no one but their disease. The fact that their disease was manifest in women younger and undoubtedly more attractive to me on the surface makes me want to go to sleep and never wake up,
Can you tell I had a bad week? Sorry for the whining. One day at a time.