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Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts - 20

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DevastatedDee posted 8/27/2020 19:41 PM

I agree with you. All addicts have issues, but not all of them behave like absolute sociopaths.

HeHadADoubleLife posted 8/28/2020 09:11 AM

SAnon may work for some women, but I had to quit going because biting my tongue every week was getting too painful.
MakeMineReal, THIS is why I couldn't stomach S-Anon.

I didn't need a bunch of people to tell me that I couldn't control him. I already knew that.

Maybe it was the particular meeting I went to, but it was so focused on each of us spouses that we weren't even allowed to talk about the SA behavior at all. I was very confused thinking, then why the fuck am I here?

I needed to talk about these very real things that happened to me, and my hope was to be able to hear other people chime in and say, me too! Maybe even share a bit of their own stories so I would feel less alone.

But no, instead I was told to focus on "my side of the street." So every time I come in with a new memory/flashback of something he did, I couldn't talk about the actions he took, or what my flashback was, I could only say how I breathed and used mindfulness to overcome it.

It almost felt like it was pathologizing us as spouses, and felt very blaming/judging. Like oh, well if you would just leave it alone and stop talking/thinking about it, then it would go away. I know now that isn't the case, that it's about letting control of the outcome, not meditating it away. But when you're first in the throes of all of this you just need someone, anyone, to hear what happened to you and validate it.

I'm sure there are great SAnon groups out there, but I didn't personally have a great experience. I think it may just be better for those who are further out and have partners who are doing the work. Because at that point you really do need to let them do the work, and focus on staying grounded etc.

I also find it to be twisted that because the SA's behavior is something they themselves are/were doing, well they can talk about it in group. Mine never even admitted to an addiction, let alone went to meetings, but it made me so angry that if he had, he would have been allowed to share all of the things he had done to me, but I couldn't because they weren't my actions, it wasn't my side of the street.

My IC is really great, and she's told me before when I start getting into a doubting/self blaming place:
"None of this is your fault. You were acted upon."

Damn right I was acted upon! And I reserve the right to shout from the rooftops what was done to me.

That's why I'm so glad I found this little thread in I Can Relate. It's the only place I feel like I can tell all the details without people looking at me like I'm a total freak. I can ask the real questions, the stuff nobody else wants to hear about because they just don't get it.

You were all acted upon. You didn't choose this shit. Stay strong ladies.

Superesse posted 8/28/2020 10:50 AM

Actually, what you just wrote, HHADL, is why a certain therapist who was the spouse of a sex addict decided to start her own support website a few years ago. She made a pretty compelling video presentation about what is wrong with the whole concept of using the Al-Anon model on victims of a SA spouse. (I wish I could post the website but now it is a private, member-only forum I recently discovered, so most of the support activities like we have here, are for paying members only!)

Mercifully, we have SI!

How is the detachment going, Skeeter?

I need a job or something but at age 69, it's tough to arrange...this is why it's hard for me to get going some days...wake up with the unreality of it all, and have to see past the surface every moment...

[This message edited by Superesse at 10:53 AM, August 28th (Friday)]

skeetermooch posted 8/28/2020 11:09 AM

Hi Superesse, detachment is going okay - up and down. Last night was a little challenging because a lot of anger and sadness are coming up and also the damn "why" questions in various forms.

Why did he leave his tablet alone with me when I just caught him doing shit in July on the same tablet - did he want to get caught, etc, etc. Why did I fall for a con artist when I was happy and my life was going so well? How did he convince me he was going to enhance my already good life? Wtf is wrong with me? Will I always be alone?

So many emotions come and go. I'll feel really good for a half day and then backslide the next day. It's going to take time for all of this to settle down and for me to find my equilibrium again. But NC is going strong! Day 5 and counting. I'm trusting that NC is going to set me free if I stick with it.

[This message edited by skeetermooch at 11:10 AM, August 28th (Friday)]

DevastatedDee posted 8/28/2020 11:53 AM

Actually, what you just wrote, HHADL, is why a certain therapist who was the spouse of a sex addict decided to start her own support website a few years ago. She made a pretty compelling video presentation about what is wrong with the whole concept of using the Al-Anon model on victims of a SA spouse.

Yeah, the Al-Anon model does not work with SA stuff. At all. It worked well for me when it was just drugs, but once we got into infidelity, that problem was far too big for the usual coping with an addict stuff. Spouses of alcoholics and substance abusers are in a great deal of pain, but the level of trauma infidelity adds is too extreme for it. I'll say it, being married to a cheater is worse than being married to a crackhead. He wasn't smoking crack at me. Fucking around on me was 100% a personal attack on my mind and body, no matter what his intentions were.

Why did I fall for a con artist when I was happy and my life was going so well? How did he convince me he was going to enhance my already good life? Wtf is wrong with me? Will I always be alone?

Because they are GOOD at lying and conning. You read my story, right? A lot isn't in there, like how I discovered that well over a year before DDay he had texted his close friend's young adult daughter trying to hook up with her. I now suspect he was doing a lot of things behind my back for a long time. Seems he was also on the Ashley Madison list of hacked users. That was in 2015, 2 years before DDay. This stuff happened when we were ecstatically happy, before he was supposedly "depressed". Before the phone records I could find with his escort calls and texts. He'd text me that he loved me and be simultaneously texting a prostitute. I couldn't see the contents of his texts online, but I knew what he had texted me and I'm fairly certain I can figure out what he was texting them using my functioning brain.

This guy sounds like a complete piece of shit, doesn't he? Total fucking asshole. Here's how good some people are at conning us. There is still a part of my brain that sees him as a nice guy who has some problems. He was very good at mirroring. He was very good at coming across as an "aw shucks" sweet innocent guy. That may not be the persona that your XWH had going on, but whatever it was, it was as fake as what my XWH had going on. You are not a stupid woman. I am not a stupid woman. Yet, they did fool the almighty shit out of us. He made a complete ass out of me. Pulled a herd of sheep's-worth of wool over my eyes. I beat myself up a long time for having been so blind and dumb. Don't do that. They are just extremely talented at hiding who they really are. They can't let people see that because when others do catch on, they run away. Which is always seen as a cruel abandonment, as if they can treat people however they want and are still entitled to not being alone.

You and I may find other people to love and we may not. There are no guarantees. The goal is to be happy within ourselves. You were before you met him, right? We rebuild ourselves before we try and worry about sharing our lives with new people or we risk attracting another disordered person. It's fair to say that we've done our time with the disordered and we don't want any more of that madness. So try to put the "will I be alone forever" worry to the side. That's for the future you to worry about. The present you is to be focusing on healing and self-love.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 11:58 AM, August 28th (Friday)]

skeetermooch posted 8/28/2020 13:44 PM

This stuff happened when we were ecstatically happy, before he was supposedly "depressed"

Same here - he was fucking around during the honeymoon phase when is life in all areas was absolutely grand. He was never depressed - he claims he was stressed and that he feared rejection because I was too independent - lies. He was living his best life. He was on top of the world - he's just a greedy, selfish, entitled sociopath.

He was very good at mirroring. He was very good at coming across as an "aw shucks" sweet innocent guy.

Oh yes, exactly. He had the most humble, self-deprecating persona. Soft spoken, gentle. I remember remarking on what a gentle soul he was - not even close. He's vicious.

I guess I was conned because I didn't even know this kind of con was a thing - who looks for this? We assume people date us and want to marry us for the same reasons we do it - to love and be loved, to share our lives, not to set someone up for betrayal.

Superesse posted 8/28/2020 15:15 PM

Thank you, Dee, for the great advice about Future You versus Present You!

Whew, isn't that helpful!

For the first time in my life this spring, I was a hospital inpatient and by day 2, I lay there with an IV in my arm, feeling 100% better, looking out the glass window at one of the first nice sunny days we had this May, and thinking "I need to get back in that garden! How fast can I get outta here?" From the hospital bed, obviously I couldn't go right home and get back to planting and weeding my spring garden, you know? But ooooh, I was itching to BE THERE.

Good for you for reminding us that we DO need to recover our healthy selves first, physically, mentally and emotionally; a great reminder that just like we don't overload a broken body, we shouldn't overload our expectations for ourselves so fast!

Also thanks for identifying the malice aforethought part of their behavior that differs from any other form of addictive behavior that I can think of. I guess an opiod addict knifing somebody for cash would be about the next closest thing?

DevastatedDee posted 8/28/2020 15:15 PM

I guess I was conned because I didn't even know this kind of con was a thing - who looks for this? We assume people date us and want to marry us for the same reasons we do it - to love and be loved, to share our lives, not to set someone up for betrayal.

Yeah, same. I could pick out the loud disordered types without effort. This kind of guy, though? I had no experience with the disordered calm sweet nice guy. That came out of left field entirely. It's like being viciously attached by a butterfly or something.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 3:15 PM, August 28th (Friday)]

DevastatedDee posted 8/28/2020 15:17 PM

Oh yeah, Superesse, I am bad about that too! I can so see me laying in a hospital bed thinking "man, I need to mow my lawn", lol!

DevastatedDee posted 8/28/2020 15:22 PM

I think we all go wrong in the beginning with the future-casting stuff (and I thought it too). You know, the "will I find another partner or am I just destined to being alone". It makes total sense, we just lost a partnership that meant the world to us. We want that back with someone. It feels like it would heal the wound some, put a bandaid on it. The person we are when we wonder that is not the same person we'll be when we're healed more. I'm sitting here alone in my house totally thrilled about being alone. I like it. I think it's a lot safer to start thinking about dating once you're comfortable alone. I'm in a place mentally and emotionally where I truly don't need a partner and can be very selective. I value and guard my peace and I am not interested in adding negative drama to my life. Funny part is that I met my XWH when I was in a similar frame of mind. Eh. I expect I'm a lot more paranoid now.

skeetermooch posted 8/28/2020 18:15 PM

It's like being viciously attached by a butterfly or something.

Love this - yes, yes, yes.

I'm in a place mentally and emotionally where I truly don't need a partner and can be very selective. I value and guard my peace and I am not interested in adding negative drama to my life. Funny part is that I met my XWH when I was in a similar frame of mind. Eh. I expect I'm a lot more paranoid now.

I was there when I met my ex. Life was abundant and lovely and because I didn't need, or necessarily want, a man it felt somehow like a gift form the universe. I was open and generous and trusting, where I should've been guarding my happy little life. I will certainly have some paranoia going in the future.

I worry about being alone - not because I can't be alone - I'm actually pretty sure I do best alone unless the guy is super independent and secure. I worry about being alone and sad, alone and bitter, alone and broke, with this still a mild ache in the background. I'm certainly not in any hurry to date. What would I do or say or want to do or say with a stranger? I'm an empty vessel right now. I have nothing to offer. My singular focus is on my healing in all aspects of my life: spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially - even materially i.e. fixing up my house and yard. It's amazing how with a partner everything went fallow - he never helped with a single project. This is my time to rebuild.

My fears are rooted in my disastrous second marriage. He was not a cheater but a malignant narcissist. It took me a few years to get out because I had a newborn with special needs. I waited until my son was verbal at 4. I left with nothing. No job, no car, no child support or alimony, no family support and two kids. It was terrifying. And because I'm in a small city, I watched my ex date every eligible woman in town (he was handsome, rich and charming) and eventually get married to a woman 15 years my junior, buy a half million dollar house and start a new family.

He was abusive to my son, who he had halftime. I lived in the poorest, most dangerous neighborhood, went to sleep to gunshots. I second guessed leaving him for at least a year or two - even though he was abusive. I was convinced he would change for his new wife and it was only I who inspired abuse. I was terrified for my son's well-being every minute he was with him, in and out of court constantly but couldn't protect my boy. I gradually found my footing. The happiest day was when I'd saved enough to take my little guy to Disneyland for 4 or 5 days. I let him buy every stuffed animal he wanted, eat junk, take pictures with the characters.

Somehow, even after 4 years it still bothered me that my ex found happiness while I was still alone, single-parenting. I did everything to overcome those feelings - worked hard, made money, went to therapy, healers, shaman, took trips, focused on my kids, volunteered at their schools. Year five, I met someone who swept me off of my feet and it truly erased the last remnants of pain. Then I caught that man cheating on me. I stayed for all the dumb reasons we stay. He was my first cheater, so I was a total sucker for his bs excuses. I believed him every time he said he'd never do it again for maybe 6 years. Then I plotted my exit, a multi-year process, but I did it. After two years of happiness alone, a rebooted wonderful life, a thriving career, the current dickwad shows up. You know the rest.

So, even when I thought I'd given things enough time and therapy and personal improvement work I still ended up with douches. I was single for 8 years between my first and second husband, people. 8 long years. Admittedly, I'm a slow learner. Every guy who turned out to be abusive/a cheater was very pushy about a quick commitment. I know that red flag now at least.

So, my fears aren't abstract - I've known bitterness that won't go away and I don't ever want to be in that place again.

Thanks for letting me vomit all of that on the page - I guess I needed a little poor me moment. I'm putting the bitch boots back on.

Superesse posted 8/28/2020 19:18 PM

Wow Skeeter, I really feel like what you described would be a lot to process for anybody.

Life can feel almost like some crazy competition sometime, with unfair advantages to good looks, money, gender, height, all that socio-economic jazz. Then we can feel like "I'm not going to let their doing better than I am, beat me down" whereas we would be better served by closing our eyes completely to them. Easier said than done!

I was single between XH #1 and this man for just over 11 years but unlike you, I hadn't really gotten to that "happy alone" spot, partly because I had to start from ground zero at age 33, after losing the home I built with my XH, losing my good job, plus the end of that marriage with no family support to fall back on. From all those bad times, I came to feel like I had been left back at the starting gate of Adulthood, while other women my age married, started families, and seemed to be in a better place in life. Then, with one loser BF after another post-D, I wondered what I was doing wrong! I bought a library full of self-help relationship books, what a waste of $$ that was!

Family and friends either said "ALL men are JERKS" (my father's favorite explanation for my bad luck!) or I got the message that somehow I was the problem! I was (choose from): too smart, too intimidating, too successful in a man's world, or even that I came off as too independent! Yada yada yada, but the truth is, I had NO security in my life, other than what my work could provide me. On top of that, to keep getting the message I needed to do something DIFFERENT to change my fate. Almost implying I didn't DESERVE a happy marriage, maybe because my parents hadn't had one, so there wasn't a family model to point to...deep stuff.

I'm sure that kind of insecurity helped me view this "Mr. Nice Guy" as my friends and remaining family did: Marriage Material! My 30's were behind me, I hadn't met anybody else as interested in me as he was and after 4 years of old-fashioned courting, doing holidays together, he did seem like my best bet. (I was sooo feeling old at age 42, when we met!) And it wasn't even a mad, passionate, love-bombing relationship, like I'd had before; he was just Steady Eddie all the way...kept on calling, being generous, etc. But still, I blame myself often for missing a few MAJOR clues, such as condoms in his shaving kit - when we didn't have sex. After we married, it was me finding gross porno sites on my computer (I had to ask an IT guy at work how they got there; was told "somebody's lying: only visited webpages appear in a history log, not just ads or links!" Stupid me...)

I think my FOO (mother D'd father when I was 19, they sold the home, she remarried and adopted 4 stepchildren) truly had a LOT MORE to do with all my journeys than I ever realized. I "fell out of the nest before I could fly!" and had to make do the best I could...

So how's THAT for a Novel? Sorry, I'm old, my stories get long-winded....

We can't get ahead by just beating ourselves up for our adverse former life but I agree that the past needs to be recognized for how events shaped us.

What home project is giving you the most satisfied at the moment?

Hope all are keeping safe and sane.

[This message edited by Superesse at 7:26 PM, August 28th (Friday)]

skeetermooch posted 8/28/2020 23:24 PM

Thanks Superesse. I think your story points to the element of luck. Many of us go through long stretches single. When someone, who seems lovely, comes a courting of course we date, get involved and fall in love. For some lucky folks, healthy, sane people show up, for some unlucky folks, broken people show up and for the super duper unlucky, personality disordered SAs show up. So much of this is a crap shoot.

My home projects: master bath needs new tile, painting and some shelves/organizing stuff. I also have an outdoor patio that needs a cute chair and an outdoor rug. My yard needs pruning and a few new plants. I also want to rearrange my bedroom - it's getting cluttered. I've been organizing things I want to sell on eBay or donate. It's going to be good to reclaim my space.

BlackRaven posted 8/29/2020 05:47 AM

Iím wondering if anyone has read any books about SA or done any workshops and if so, which ones would you recommend ,

Superesse posted 8/29/2020 08:27 AM

Good morning Black Raven, I have a whole library of books I ordered for my SAWH back in 2002, (and time proved that reading them had no beneficial effect on him!) but most of them were written about dealing with healing their childhood sexual abuse. I ordered them because Patrick Carnes had identified that history in 81% of his patients, as you have no doubt heard.

My SAWH was in such denial about his family that he came close to striking me, when I read him that statistic! But lo and behold, it wasn't long before he did confess to being a victim of CSA, both to me and to our MC (another huge wasted effort, as far as I can tell. He needed IC, and I needed trauma-informed therapy for myself, and legal advice to boot.)

The list of books I ordered would also be 20 years out of date by now, in terms of good new research. I couldn't find many sources for this kind of research, especially on "how to stop being a sex addict! The one author I recall was Mike Lew, who wrote about male child sexual abuse and its effects. But still, my SAWH has had 18 years to come to terms with his past, yet I can't see where he has processed much of anything...and is still acting out behind my back.

One warning I would sound is not to believe the pop psychology books that basically promise if they work through their abusive FOO this problem goes away. They still have CHOICES, as one therapist told me. Plenty people have been victims of childhood sexual abuse and not turned into cheaters.

BlackRaven posted 8/29/2020 08:34 AM

Thank you Superesse., and Iím sorry it was so unhelpful for you.
I should have noted in my original post that while Iím interested in learning more about SA itself, Iím also (primarily) interested in books/workshops to help us heal our trauma

Superesse posted 8/29/2020 08:44 AM

Oh, I can really recommend The Body Keeps The Score. I'm sure others will chime in, too.

skeetermooch posted 8/29/2020 11:01 AM

I checked out a few books on SA - there's definitely some literature, websites etc specifically addressing post-infidelity trauma. I don't think any of them really made a huge difference for me beyond validating that my trauma was very real. I read more books on trauma and dealing with personality disordered people.

I just started the Yale happiness course called, The Science of Well-being. I know someone mentioned the Harvard class but I stumbled on this one and it looks good and it's free.

Let the healing begin.

And...

It's day 6 of NC - do I get a cookie or something?

Superesse posted 8/29/2020 11:34 AM

Skeeter, I'll give you a CHOCOLATE cookie...tomorrow! :)

Wish I had some SUN shining...Hurricane Laura blew up here and dumped 1.5 inches of rain yesterday and today...low, grey clouds, every room in the house is just too dark and dreary. Drives me crazy (crazier?). I am gonna have to move out onto the PORCH and enclose it. Or move out your way, Skeeter! Seriously, I've had about enough of living in a Museum to my Dead Marriage and Deceased Family - no wonder all my siblings never wanted any of the furniture from the house we grew up in...I took it all 30 years ago...now, I look around, and all I can see is family members when they were once here visiting, and they will never come again, or I see things "we" got.

De-Cluttering is SO important for our mental health, even without all this trauma. I liked Marie Kondo, the Japanese woman who started a business helping people pare down to only those things that "spark Joy." :) Have you ever tried her method?

skeetermooch posted 8/29/2020 13:47 PM

I did Kondo my clothing and it's amazing, especially my son's t-shirt drawers - you can see which shirt is which without rifling through and messing up the whole drawer. It looks so organized.

I'm a huge sentimentalist so I hang onto clothes and other items too long, especially those connected to someone who's passed. I've been working on letting go of those things little by little.

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