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Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts - 18

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Lionne posted 4/25/2018 04:47 AM

In my early days here, I was alternating between anxious paralysis, insomnia or alternately, sleeping through an entire weekend, Friday to Monday, and the out of the blue crying, shouting, raging, and wishing I was dead. I found SI pretty quickly but posted carefully, even upbeat, but soon found that I could be as bitchy and as outraged as I needed to be.
There were several women who reached out through private message, to invite me to have a more private conversation by responding to that message, and several who invited me to talk with them by phone. I have since done the same with others, I believe in paying it forward.
So, I'm reaching out to offer the same to any newbies. Let me know if a chat will be useful.

Smjsome1 posted 4/25/2018 08:45 AM

Newbies - take Lionne up on it, she has been an awesome supportive help for me!

I had a revelation yesterday ... maybe not groundbreaking for others but for me. Tell me if it was just late night thinking or is it plausible SA behaviour?

So long story my group homework was about forgiveness, which just so happens to have been my personal demon this month. There were questions about “would you want him punished? how would you want him punished?”
I’m aware I was supposed to be all “Jesus suffered for our sins”. But my answer was “hellls yes”
And my punishment was that he feel my pain/suffering/shame/brokenness for 24 hours. I was reading it to him, based on a comment he made about his group.

And as I looked at him I realized, he’d never feel it as I do. My feelings of pain, etc, are based on my thoughts that “he must really have just not cared about me to do that” because for me to hurt him the way he did me I’d literally have to hate him, not cared if he died. Because I would have felt his possible pain - before I did it!
For me to hurt another human at all like that, I’d literally have to hate them.
He literally didn’t care, because, he didn't care. He was (is?) incapable of feeling my feelings. He hid the APs, etc, cause he didn’t want me to get mad, he didn’t want to get in trouble.

He didn’t understand what I was saying - so I said
I want to burn down our neighbors house, cause I want to, but to do it I’d have to WANT them to suffer
You wanted to burn down our neighbors house, you wouldn’t have thought “hey the neighbor will suffer”, you’d be thinking, “I really want to burn down that house cause it would be fun”

Does this seem right? Is this SA thinking?

marji posted 4/25/2018 10:15 AM

Lionne Your offer, your availability, your generosity is awesome. You are awesome.

Newbies: yes, ditto Smj, take Lionne up on it. A real conversation can help enormously.

number4 posted 4/25/2018 10:19 AM

Lionne and ashestophoenix - thanks so much for your gentle replies. I will go back to them many times when I realize I need to be compassionate with myself.

I do have an IC counselor I see once a week; I am authorized to see him six times a month through our insurance, which sucks. I'm not even submitting the sessions with the trauma specialist as I'm pretty sure they won't pay. We also have our MC we see once a week. I see my psychiatrist once every few weeks, depending on how I'm doing. I tried acupuncture several years ago when I went through my last bout of debilitating anxiety; it didn't help. I am a member of a meditation group led by a Buddhist priest that meets once a week. I get a massage once a week for 90 minutes; work out with a trainer twice a week and do Pilates twice a week. So as you can see, I'm not sitting around trying to do nothing about my anxiety (not that I think any of you are saying that), but my insurance company still thinks I just need more CBT and DBT. And yes, when I hear people like my brother or a friend say (regarding all my appointments), "When are you going to be done with all of that?" or "Do you ever do anything fun or find any joy in anything?", it hurts, like I could just move on with my life if I made up my mind to do so or left my husband.

And yes, ashestophoenix, I am also dealing with having two brothers die twelve days apart back in early February. I wasn't particularly close to them, but nonetheless, it was such a shock and the repairing the marriage work got put on the back burner, because I could only process one major thing at a time and the second brother's funeral wasn't until 3/22, so just a month ago. I guess when I write it out, in that perspective, only being a month to be expected to process so much is sort of unrealistic.

The trauma specialist I'm seeing works in a large clinic where they have many professionals that offer things like EMDR, using imagery, etc. I've only met with her four times now; she's still getting to know me, so she's not quite ready to make any recommendations for anything. This past week I wanted to spend our session talking about what exactly is PTSD, how does it manifest itself, and particularly how is it manifesting itself in me. When I told her about my PRN use of Xanax, she said she thought it sounded like a good plan, that I just have a biochemical disposition to react to stress this way.

One of the things H and I talked about last night was sadness. Throughout this whole ordeal, I've been pretty much willing and able to express all the other emotions - anger, pain, violation, rage, etc. However, I think due to my history of depression and having to have ECT, I've pushed away the sadness. Any time I kept going to that place, I'd push it aside and say to myself, "I'm not going to go there," because I didn't want to take a step near that dark hole I know I'm capable of going to. So now I'm wondering if suppressing the sadness is part of the anxiety. I started to think about this last night and realize the biggest thing I'm sad for is all the lost years H and I didn't have due to his unwillingness to get into recovery - I'd say (embarrassingly) I discovered about 20+ years ago that we were heading in different directions when it came to recovery - I was in it; he wasn't. But I stuck around, probably a big part having to do with our children (who are now launched adults) and a fear of being alone. At times I didn't know if I loved him. In fact, he will say at the time, he was able to justify the acting out because he wasn't feeling appreciated, valued, and loved from me, BUT he says none of those were justifications for acting out. I finally admitted to him a couple of weeks ago that he probably had every right to feel those feelings, because I didn't appreciate him, I didn't value him, I wasn't sure if I loved him, but I agree with him, it was no excuse to act out. I have to own what I did and how I treated him. So now part of that sadness is realizing we lost all those years, and now, in our mid to late 50s, we have no idea how much time we will have to make up for all that lost time. Aside from the sex addiction and his recovery from that, he is now engaged in this marriage in ways that probably 75% of spouses in marriages probably aren't. And for that, I am extremely grateful.

It's like Esther Perel suggests, that marriage you thought you had is gone; that was your first marriage; if you choose recovery/repair, that's your second marriage. So perhaps I've never grieved the loss of the first marriage and there is still some sadness I haven't addressed.

Would love to know how you all have seen and dealt with sadness in your situations.

secondtime posted 4/25/2018 10:30 AM

I'm not sure my husband is capable of really understanding what it means to create an environment where I feel safe.

I find it hard to believe that he's so obtuse about our relationship and the damage that he's caused...but not generally in life.

sami1234 posted 4/25/2018 13:26 PM

his last therapy appointment, he says that they figured out it is more of a “bad habit” than a deep-rooted “real” addiction. WTF I’m not buying it.

Dogsnbooks I got the same exact story. I have a hard time finding it believable as well. I always thought "well who knows what my WH's hiding from his IC"...and I guarantee he is hiding stuff. He's a denier/fixer by nature. Still watching.

marji posted 4/25/2018 14:17 PM

Dogsnbooks Has he given you his reason for why he doesn't want to take the on-line test? Has anyone told him it's to his benefit to know whether he is or not an SA? Has the therapist he went to advised him to take the tests and to attend at least 6 SA meetings? That is a customary way to learn; CSATs recommend that though an IC not familiar with SA may not make such a suggestion. My H went to a psychiatrist for several sessions; he was an expert in addiction but not SA. He, the doctor, was looking up the word "compulsion" in the dictionary.

If your H is not seeing an IC well versed in SA, how to diagnosis, how to treat, then even if he's being honest, it may not be productive.

Behavior alone does not decide SA; the person's thoughts, feelings, urges--demons--must be accessed. Are there ongoing compulsions, a cycle of guilt/shame, repeated acting outs? Is the behavior escalating, and so on. Honest reporting of all that is required for proper diagnosis. Time is also a helper; if much time passes and your H has absolutely no interest, desire, temptation, urge, whatever for that behavior then yes, it's quite possible he is not an SA.

So yes, some could have had a habit, a bad habit, but not be an SA as such in much the same way as some of us smoked for years and then stopped. Never had the urge again and find the habit disgusting. I used to have a cigarette habit; I am not a cigarette addict. Others used to indulge in drugs and stopped; no white knuckling--just stopped and had no desire for such again.

But SA is not the same as substance addiction and I would think your H would want to find out about himself and deal with whatever level of sickness he does have.

sami1234 posted 4/26/2018 07:52 AM

marji I guess what scares me is there are plenty of alcoholics who just won't admit they have a problem, as I suspect there are plenty of SA's who are the same. Even those who attend AA will say, well I really don't need to be here because so and so is worse than me! When my WH uses denial and the "there is nothing wrong with me" mantra throughout our entire M lives, it is scary that there might actually be something "wrong." He really won't talk about it and I think it takes a lot of true self knowledge and courage to expose your demons with a counselor. He only had about 6 sessions after Dday with an IC. He was more interested in MC in fixing issues in our M that he felt led to this behavior. UGH> My WH had never been to counseling nor even read a psychology book before all of this, he is a guy who is completely on the other side of his brain. All logic and reasoning, which makes all of this completely unreal. None of it is logical or reasonable.

Smjsome1 Think that is total lack of empathy. My WH said he never wanted to hurt me, that wasn't his intent. So, yeah, well I said my first thought before having an A would be the thought that I would hurt you. No empathy, and I think that is definitely in the recipe that feeds SA.

My WH has just shut down the IC as I've said before and that scares me.

Lionne, what a kind offer from you. I hope many take you up on it. I do believe that if we can find anything positive out of this whole mess it is that we can help others through it, but that has always been my take on suffering in this world, we suffer because it bonds us to others as part of the human experience. It's just a theory that allows me to turn something horrific into something that has some use in my life.

marji posted 4/26/2018 08:57 AM

Sami Totally understand your being very uncomfortable, not feeling safe about your H's denial. Finding whether the cheater is SA or not is helpful in determining the course they need take to changing. Their behavior was unhealthy whether or not SA and they should be wanting to do everything possible to learn about themselves; if there is any possibility at all that your H is an SA then he should be doing all he can to find out--that would be just a starting point. We can spend the rest of our lives analyzing them, analyzing all sorts of things, but if they don't attend to their own analysis Im not sure how good that is for anyone.

You say your H is all logic and reasoning but seems to me if that all there is to any of these guys we would not be trying to survive their infidelity.

If you are not comfortable with your H's denial and seeming lack of involvement in his own therapy, you might decide on what boundaries you need establish that would help you feel safer.

DogsnBooks posted 4/26/2018 11:57 AM

Has he given you his reason for why he doesn't want to take the on-line test? Has anyone told him it's to his benefit to know whether he is or not an SA? Has the therapist he went to advised him to take the tests and to attend at least 6 SA meetings? That is a customary way to learn

He didn’t explicitly refuse to take the SA assessment quiz. He just said. “I’ll do it later” which just means I’ll have to hound him and hound him and he might still never do it. Typical behavior for him. He will agree with you and say all the right things, then keep doing whatever he wants. He has always had terrible follow through in all aspects of life.

I am not sure if his IC therapist has recommended any SA resources or meetings to him. He hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about his therapy sessions (a hot button topic at our MC this week actually - because I keep requesting to be kept in the loop, he’ll agree, but then, again that lack of follow through).

Behavior alone does not decide SA; the person's thoughts, feelings, urges--demons--must be accessed. Are there ongoing compulsions, a cycle of guilt/shame, repeated acting outs? Is the behavior escalating, and so on. Honest reporting of all that is required for proper diagnosis. Time is also a helper; if much time passes and your H has absolutely no interest, desire, temptation, urge, whatever for that behavior then yes, it's quite possible he is not an SA.

He has admitted to me that the porn/webcam was a coping mechanism for him and something he would turn to when stressed and depressed. From my perspective, the behavior was escalating. Porn every single day. Then there was that time he randomly went to the strip club with a buddy and got a lap dance. (Which might not sound odd to some, but was certainly outside the realm of “normal” in our relationship.) Then it escalated to the webcamming - for anyone who may have missed my previous posts, by this I mean two-way and interactive, so he would go on an app and choose a person to can with - both cameras (and both people) turned on. Basically masturbating with each other live.

I can’t help but think that if it hadn’t blown up in his face, it WOULD have escalated further into an in-person sexual encounter.

Smjsome1 posted 4/26/2018 13:58 PM

I’m not saying anyone should do what I did, we did it all wrong, no C led disclosure, pure TT, lies, me pick me dancing from DD1 to DD2, children involved (adults, home DD1) - you name it, we’ve done it wrong. And probably still are.

My SA getting to a SA group was an accidental one thing we did right. He fought being told he was an SA, the moment he met the other men he realized he was. And with that he was able to implement changes that let him take back control from his addiction. He only took the SA test after he was comfortable with the possible results, if that makes sense

He has a long way to go, but feels he is on the right track.

So Sami, Dogsnbooks - if they won’t do it for you I hope they do it for themselve

Happened accidentally, really. My 3rd C told us to do two things within minutes of meeting me - Polygraph, him to SA group. It didn’t go down well, but happened. She wasn’t that great a C though ....

If nothing else we will divorce as friends, or end up with an authenticate marriage.

ashestophoenix posted 4/27/2018 08:55 AM

DogsnBooks, when I first found my husband's porn on his computer, he lied, lied, lied, lied that it even existed. Thousands and thousands of images; different folders with images; PowerPoint "slide" shows of images; his history file of hours upon hours of porn searching. I mean, the evidence was right there in front of us, He still lied. That's what addicts do. Honestly, it took a year of putting this crud in front of my husband and finally threatening divorce, which I had to really mean, for my husband to START dealing with his addiction. And after that it took a year for him to accept he was an addict. It's rare for addicts to divulge. It happens, but I've never met a partner who experienced that.

A big mistake I made was to assume my husband had the same values I did. He lied to me early on (please note the depth and breadth of dishonesty of our partners) and gaslighted me so that I would keep thinking he would be like me: honest, open, committed, law abiding, decent, caring. He wasn't any of these things. When I finally realized I needed to look at my husband with the view that he was truly a liar and capable of shameful things, then everything started to make sense. What was crazy and confusing before, now had it's own ugly, crazy logic. This is addiction.

Lots of their crud is also immaturity. I can smell burning food right now as my husband makes his breakfast. This isn't a once in a while thing, this is a weekly thing. This lack of focus (immaturity and addiction), this lack of wise decision making (immaturity and addiction), makes it harder for us. Addicts are deeply immature. And addiction stunts development so they stay stuck in immaturity PLUS add all sorts of destruction.

I had to stop thinking of my husband as a "good man" who had values like me and really start to watch his behavior. I had to see the constant mismatch between his words and his behavior. The best lesson for us is: believe their behavior, not their words.

After four years, I don't think of my husband as evil, but I think he has done shameful things. I think he had early trauma and suffering, but that doesn't release him from responsibility and accountability.

To this day my husband says "I forgot" when he really just didn't do something or he didn't want to do something. He still doesn't step up to the line. And he's sober.

Painfully, I learned that my husband put on this false front and was all about image management. He lied about everything big and small. This is painful and enraging. But it has been in my best interest to get this, to accept this, and to take care of myself in the face of this reality.

I think they can change. It takes a lot of work to get sober, and then even more work to grow up.


[This message edited by ashestophoenix at 8:59 AM, April 27th (Friday)]

sami1234 posted 4/27/2018 12:50 PM

You say your H is all logic and reasoning but seems to me if that all there is to any of these guys we would not be trying to survive their infidelity.

marji I said that because his actions were the complete antithesis to his normal self, logic and reasoning. Our MC said from day one that none of this will ever make sense to me. Well behavior that is completely illogical stems from what? Either I know it to be behavior that stems from mental or psychiatric illness, or from addiction. I can see a one or two time slip up, something that is out of character, but long term, 10 year plus activity that escalates, is hidden, lied about and risks everything you know and own and hold dear? That's why it irks me that his IC told him just to "be careful." What does that mean for us anyway?

Tough day. Me and WH always part ways on how to deal with family issues. Today is no different. So many things show me how differently we are wired. Different priorities, different values, we view the world differently. I find myself rather sane, peaceful, grounded, people generally like me, I'm in excellent health, excellent physical it feels like I must be doing something right. I'm not perfect but I do have peace within myself.

Lionne posted 4/27/2018 17:44 PM

Ashes, as usual, I love your post and agree 100%. I do notice that the"tone" of your words seems more positive than those of a year ago. You seem to be in healing path for yourself. Good going.

On a slightly comical note, I had a very convoluted dream last night. In part, in involved a man who expressed romantic feelings towards me. It wasn't anyone I know irl, by the way. The dream me was flattered, but I told him I wasn't interested, "I am MARRIED."

Nice to know my dream self has morals, too.

marji posted 4/27/2018 21:13 PM

Sami, wasn't sure you were writing about your H or mine since mine was at it for ten years and mine too seems all logic and reasoning.

I do not think as do you that a regular habit necessarily means a psychistric condition or an addiction such as SA. But I do think a long time of acting out warrants serious examination to help guide a course of radical change and I do think it important that the person who has been acting out, lying, cheating, putting so much at risk by indulging now do all that's possible to learn about himself and do all that's possible to change. I want to see my H doing that. That's kind of a minimum boundary. I doubt I could sustain day to day living together if he wasn't doing that. But I know we all have our reasons for staying as long as we do and our boundaries only work for ourselves.

number4 posted 4/28/2018 09:42 AM

Finding whether the cheater is SA or not is helpful in determining the course they need take to changing.

I would say it is helpful, but not necessary to open the door to recovery. It took my H almost nine months after my discovery of his affairs to admit he was a sex addict. But he started some serious family of origin work in the meantime, and began to get in touch with his shame and trauma when he was at a 45-day rehab facility working on that childhood trauma in his nightly CODA 12-step meetings. I think once that was in place, he couldn't really turn back (not saying that some people might not try) because he was looking for understanding his behavior. But yea, it took nine months. Dare I say it's only been seven weeks since he admitted he's a sex addict, and there have been no new disclosures? Fingers crossed.

sami1234 posted 4/29/2018 08:05 AM

marji that's interesting in the same time line and the logic and reasoning factor. I have other reasons for thinking as I do. I will say this, he has changed radically. He has changed how he thinks, how he treats everyone from his siblings to his mother to our kids and his co-workers. He has developed empathy which is something he never seemed to have before. This was the main thing his IC worked on with him. My IC was just concerned that there seemed to be no real work on FOO issues, what emotional state he was in, etc. The IC he saw was really more of a fix it quick kinda guy and he is sort of popular locally, written books, does local tv interviews, charges an arm and a leg and most of the IC's in the area think he's not really about doing the real deep intense work that might need to be done. Addiction runs extremely deep in WH's immediate family. I know my WH has a work and food addiction and impulse control issues with both of these things already and that is why I am concerned. As my best friend says "he's a charmer" and is it possible he is just charming everyone and carrying on as before?..sure it is.

Bottom line is I just don't trust him. He's mostly kind now, treats me well, seems happy, etc. I think it's just that part of my brain that says "be on guard!" and I'm not sure I should get rid of that even if I wanted to. I've said before he no longer attends IC because "he gets it now" (his words) he will go to MC when I suggest it but we only go about every 8 weeks or so now. Dunno.

number4 posted 4/29/2018 23:32 PM

Hi all,

Wanted to let you know I just finished a really helpful booklet tonight that my trauma therapist loaned me... "Trauma is Really Strange" by Steve Haines. I'm going to return it to her tomorrow, so I ordered my own copy on Amazon - H wants to read it, too. It took about a total of 45 minutes to get through.

Tomorrow I hope to broach the reality of what healing trauma is going to look like for me, with this therapist. I know there are dozens of modalities, and I am curious as to whether or not she has some ideas for me at this early point in our working relationship. I've now heard from several people that healing trauma (and anxiety) involves 'leaning into' the body's responses, but it didn't lay it out so clearly, so I need clarification on what exactly that means and looks like.

We did an overnight last night, going to Springfield, IL (I've never been despite living in IL for 28 years) to see the Lincoln sites, state capitol, etc. Today is a one-year anniversary of something I know he did with her last year and lied through his teeth to me about what he was doing (at an all-day work conference), so this was our attempt to create new memories for this date. While I certainly thought (and had visual images) about what he was doing a year ago, we were able to enjoy the quick trip, and even took a good chunk of Route 66 back home. Being in the car for so many hours, we talked a LOT! We'll see how much of it sunk in as time passes.

marji posted 4/30/2018 05:45 AM

numberif you're interested in reading/learning about trauma you might find helpful Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk's "The Body Keeps the Score, Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma." As far as I know, this is the most current, most complete text on trauma and methods for treatment. It explains how trauma effects both body and brain and offers detailed explanation for why some methods of treatment, such as EMDR, are more effective than others.

Van Der Kolk does not address the specific trauma of sexual betrayal but he is professionally connected with the The Meadows in Arizona which is considered be one of the best rehabilitation centers for sex addiction in the country.

number4 posted 4/30/2018 14:20 PM

@marji - our marriage counselor has mentioned Van Der Kolk several times, but I can only read so many recovery books, then I have to take a break. I'm trying to read something more light-hearted right now and when I'm finished, I'll probably go back to something recovery-related; but the booklet was easy to get through in one sitting. I asked my trauma therapist (who gave me the booklet I recommended) about Van Der Kolk, and she said whatever institution he'd been affiliated with in Boston, he'd recently fallen from their graces, or there'd been some sort of parting, so not sure where he'll end up. I know he does work at The Meadows. I've personally done two workshops at The Meadows: Survivor, and Healing Intimate Treason. I thought they were both well worth it.

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