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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking back with gratitude and forward with anticipation

I heard a great quote in my meeting last night: "I feel like a ping pong ball, and I don't know what the paddle is. But something keeps hitting me!" I remember that feeling.

I remember hearing about boundaries, relationship-with-self, self-validation and similar things in the early weeks and months after I found out about Husband's sex addiction. But I had little idea what those things looked like in real life, no understanding of how to start practicing them, and no idea where to get that information.  After reading and asking around, I was still confused about where to begin. So I decided to start by asking myself once simple question: What do I need to feel safe, peaceful, and serene?

The follow-up to that was what can I do that is within my control to make sure I create safety, peace and serenity for myself?

The things that are within my control are the boundaries I set, and the consequences I enforce when they are broken.

Consequences must not be confused with punishment.
  • I define a consequence as an action I will take if my boundaries are disregarded to change something that is within my control, resulting in a greater sense of peace and serenity for me.
  • I define a punishment as an action I would take in order to change someone else's behavior when they aren't doing what they should be doing.
Boundaries and consequences seem to be on the right track when I enforce them with loving detachment and compassion, rather than with anger and resentment. 

I found that once I started to set boundaries about what I needed to feel safe, "I" started to emerge. I began to have more of an understanding of and relationship with myself - and a better ability to define and validate myself, rather than relying on the judgements and evaluations of others to understand myself and my place in the world.

I don't feel like a ping pong ball anymore. I feel more grounded and secure in who I am than I ever have in my life. That's what I've gotten out of discovering my husband's sex addiction. And there are so many stories like mine, so many stories of recovery and hope from so many who've resisted the temptation, one day at a time, to run, fix, or control others when it felt as if their worlds had exploded into a million unrecognizable shards.

Looking back, I'm grateful for all those who have shared my journey thus far. Looking forward, I'm excited about all the things that are possible for us that weren't possible before.


L said...

I created a Boundary Agreement a few days after disclosure day. Barely a year has passed but I made myself a promise; I would revisit that BA after a year to see if changes needed to be made - and boy do they!

At the time I wrote it, I was in shock, I was hyper vigilant and I was trying to control my husband's recovery. I've since learned, it just doesn't work that way in a healthy recovery, for me or for him.

Once the new year has passed, I'll revisit the BA again (to keep it away from the holiday season) and make it more reasonable - less punishment and more about protecting myself than trying to dictate his behavior. Only how I will react to his behavior if it occurs.

Husband of a Sex Addict said...

Wow, a ping pong ball where you don't know where the paddle is hitting you from...yep that's exactly how I feel/felt. I too have a COSA story to share, one that has been tremendously difficult for me and my family. I have started writing a blog to share my experiences as you have:

Thanks for sharing your story and your struggles. Although I am a man, we share many of the same struggles with ourselves and our partners. It's good to know that I am not alone and I have found your blog very insightful. Thank you.

April Day said...

Sometimes i feel so lost. Its nice to read and feel your strength. Im so new to all this.

Bubbles said...

wow. I can't believe how many women have to deal with unfaithful husbands. I am newly divorced but wonder if I can truly ever trust again. Or how can I ever love again.

Bubbles said...

I understand the ping pong ball analogy completely!!

hopeandhealinglds said...

You've got some great thoughts here. Thanks for sharing them. I think women in this situation can't hear enough of others' experiences and perspectives of what boundaries can look and feel like (or what not having them feels like).

Will be sharing this with a group of women walking this path. (You can find their blogs here, fwiw:

(Ah, now I see that a couple of the women are aware of your blog. Cool. I love how blogging communities grow.)