The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yes, I really live with a sex addict

What happened today re-presenced me to the confusion, anger and pain that is still close to the surface for me.

Husband's version of what happened is that when he heard he wasn't getting a job he interviewed for, his impulses kicked in. "I thought I'd look at some pictures and jack off and then I'd feel better. But then I didn't do it."

And the fact is, he didn't do anything he promised he wouldn't do. Looking at porn is not in his inner circle. He didn't break his SAA abstinence. But finding the evidence of what he had done scared me. He's not exactly down the path of sexual compulsion, but he's at the beginning of it. And he hasn't gone near that path for months now.

So now what? Do I live the rest of my life with a bag packed just in case? Allow myself to rebuild trust and love...but hold back just a little bit of both. Keep part of myself walled off from Husband like a bit of sourdough starter in case I have to start over again? That's not the relationship I want. On the other hand, if I find another partner, one with whom I don't share a past of lies and betrayal, does that necessarily mean things will be better? I know enough now not to believe that. Husband is fucked up, but he truly loves me. He truly cares about and for me. He's a great father to our son, a great partner in so many ways.

I know I'm supposed to regard Husbands compulsion as a disease. And I wouldn't leave him if he were diagnosed with a serious illness. And if he were, my life would be forever different just as it is now that I've found out about his sexual compulsion (although my past would likely have stayed relatively intact.) But I struggle. Truthfully, I'm not feeling all that noble. However, as I sit here and think about it I realize it's not so much the disease that's hard to live with, but the unknown. But we all live with the unknown. I just happen to be married to the embodiment of that.


Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Bleh! Seeing my husband go near that path is crazy making for me. Hugs to you!

Kellee said...

I used to use the old "what if it were cancer" analogy as well. Unfortunately, my husband had refused all chemo, radiation, etc. For me, as long as I saw him making an honest to goodness attempt at recovery I was willing to stay. Once the pain of staying became greater than the pain of leaving, that's when I knew I had reached my limit.

I talked in another comment I left about us being the lucky ones. The last two sentences of this post made me think of the word lucky again. You said, "But we all live with the unknown. I just happen to be married to the embodiment of that." At least we know what we're up against. How many others live their whole life in the dark? In the shadows.

You're doing great work...

Thinking of you with love, compassion & empathy.

woman.anonymous7 said...

Yes, I believe I'm one of the lucky ones. I've always believed it, but now I understand that I'm lucky for different reasons than I thought. I'm lucky to have the opportunity to learn about living in reality, in the present; to learn about what spirituality can mean for me; to have the chance to deal with pain and fear head on and not run or hide.

I believe without question that I am one of the lucky ones. Only luck looks different than I thought it would.

confused88 said...

I am going through the same thing. I tried to figure out what I did wrong or not enough of. He is so non chelant about this topic. He is a great provider and wonderful Dad. He just has no interest in our intimate life. Yes, we have sex but his mind is not there! I cannot compete with all of these woman and this one man he seems to sneak and call in we hours of the night. It's driving me crazy. I am on medicine and have 3 kids to raise. I do not want to start over either, but I must break this cycle. If I notice it, what all do my kids know? I just want to know what to do in the mean time. I have been a stay at home mom and have no skill or trade other than obviously driving my husband away. I still am in love with him but realizes he does not want this life and is not man enough to admit it. I would be fine as long as whatever decision he made would not involve any more hurt on me. I already know that we will not peacefully seperate, he is too prideful for that. But do I continue to walk around like Mary Poppins as if everything is O.K, just so I don't upset him and lead him farther away? Or do I continue to force him to see that he has an addiction and problem????

woman.anonymous7 said...

confused88 - I'm very sorry to hear about what you're going through. It sounds difficult and painful.

I've tried to keep from giving advice on my blog, because we each will find our own answers. However I highly recommend the book I'm reading right now, Mending A Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts. It will give you a very good overview of the things that we face as partners of sex addicts.

I also recommend a 12-step group (SAnon, Alanon or other) and/or some other kind of outside support for you.

There are also many other blogs, a few of which are listed on mine, in which other partners are sharing their experiences. Often I see myself in other peoples' experiences and am able to find my own answers that way.

I wish you the best.

Carrie Riffee said...

My husband has been a sex addict since the age of 10. I often wonder if he will ever find recovery. I was finally beginning to trust again until yesterday when he told me a coworker enabled the WiFi on his phone. For 2 days he's been looking at porn. He tried to make it better by saying " I could have hid this for months." I'm sick to my stomach, I'm so disgusted I can't even look at him or talk to him.

woman.anonymous7 said...

Hi, Carrie - I'm sorry. That sounds really disappointing. In my experience trust has been such a difficult thing to rebuild. It's definitely possible, but it takes time. And what Husband (or his addict) doesn't realize is that one breach of trust can dismantle weeks, months, or even years of progress. For me, trust feels so fundamental to intimacy. My response to a breach of trust in my relationship now is to immediately disconnect emotionally. It's a defensive response that just happens. And then I have to go through the process of re-examining my choice to stay with Husband to determine if it's still the right choice. And if so, then I have to go through the reconnection process to feel truly intimate again. All that takes time.

We recently went through a pretty bad breach of trust when I found out he was lying to me about drinking. After all our years of therapy and all the rebuilt trust, it was pretty devastating. I felt like I was spiraling downward for at least a week. I was anxious, on edge, distracted. I couldn't seem to get to a place of any clarity. I felt empty and brittle, and deeply sad.

We're very lucky to have good health insurance. So Husband went back into therapy and started going to AA. We scheduled an appointment with our couples therapist who is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT.) And I found myself an individual therapist as well. I've done a lot of growth as a result of being married to an addict, and it's clear that there's still room for more. And that's good. I can see how far I've come (I don't feel dismantled by this breach of trust, just sad,) and I'm ready to start filling in the detail, going deeper into healing myself. So, as many have joked on this blog, another fucking growth opportunity.

Once again, we're making progress. And I'm glad to be back in individual therapy to start pushing myself out of my comfort zone into boldly taking care of myself. And I'm glad to be going back for a visit to our couples therapist who always helps us get to the heart of issues that are festering. (Husband can still be hard for me to communicate with. As is often the case, our "issues" are interlocked, and he presents me with things that are hard for me and I think I do the same for him.)

I hope you have a support system, because that's what has made healing and growth possible for me.

Take care. I wish you the best.