I've known codies who enabled by being the sterotypical doormat--care-taking, rescuing, mothering & managing. The codie enables & the addiction gets to flourish.
I've also known some with huge anger & control problems who partner with addicts. They rage at the addict for using & screwing up. The raging, punishing & berating feeds the addicts shame & guilt & secrecy. In a different way, this also helps the addiction to flourish.
I know I'm talking extremes & different ends of the spectrum, but so far, I've heard bits of both from partners of SA's.
....and yes, that shell-shocked, PTSD look on the faces of CoSA members. It's like looking in the mirror. I already came into this relationship with PTSD from a lifetime of coping & surving the addictions of others. I was born into a family where addiction ran the show and have only had a few years (looking back now) that I haven't been living with active addiction in my home. I've been dancing with the gorilla for a long, long time.
I know I wasn't choosing addiction in my life when one of my son's became a full-blown drug addict by the time he was 15. I don't think I chose a SA on purpose either. I think I chose what I belived was a "safe guy"-- average Joe. He seemed a bit stunted in the area of emotional intimacy, but I had NO clue that that was just a tiny tip of a huge iceburg.
Evrey single thing the other spouses in my group shared--I could relate to. When sharing our responses to things our SA spouses say & do....you would literally think we were all married to the same person. Seriously--it's ALMOST spooky.
After the meeting, on the way home, I mention that to my husband. I ask if he is having the same experience. He said no, he isn't. Every once in awhile, he hears little bits of things that hit home, but mostly not.
WTF are they talking about on the other side of the hallway? Rollerskating & knitting? How in the heck can I relate almost 100% and he's not in the SAA meetings?
[This message edited by Tal at 12:14 AM, July 20th (Tuesday)]
My first husband and I married young. Over the years I saw alcoholism begin, bud out and go full-bloom. He was a Jeckyl & Hyde drunk & very abusive to me. I'm not perfect--but I knew I didn't deserve to be treated so cruelly.
My second husband was an addict & I think was also a sex and love addict. In his case it wasn't focused on other people or things--it was all focused on me. I'm not bad--if I say so myself, but to my second husband--you would have thought I was Venus and Aphrodite and Angelina Jolie rolled up in one.
After my second husband died, and I got involved with my current husband: Mr. "Average Joe". When I looked at him--I thought I was finally in a relationship with a normal guy.
Over the years, when I have brought up problems related to his sex addiction, he would deflect it by saying things like, "you don't know what normal is. All you ever knew was addiction, so you see everything in that light".
Come to find out I was seeing everything in that light because I KNEW--if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck--it's probably a damn duck.
[This message edited by Tal at 12:30 AM, July 20th (Tuesday)]
I prefer to say "I have codependent tendencies."
All the same anyway, isn't it?
I am actually more codependent in interactions with my mother and my children than I have ever been with my SAH.
This whole SA has actually helped me a better mother in some ways.
Some background (I don't like to share a lot of details in cyberspace, because some of the details are really terrible and private): I found out my H was a SA 9 years ago when he wrote a suicide note indicating that. I guess I always knew that there were problems and that he was acting out, but I tried to minimize a lot of it or deny it. I didn't understand what SA was and didn't understand why counseling (traditional IC that I forced him to go to) did not help him. He would of course be back at his acting out, and I would be playing super sleuth to find out what he was doing. It was a pattern. He saw 3 different IC's who all supposedly worked with SA and nothing ever changed for long. Of course, his acting out was progressive, and at first I would minimize by saying at least he isn't doing this, and of course then when he started doing that, I would just shift the line in the sand. When he hit bottom last September, everything fell apart in my life. The kids found out about his SA (I had carefully hid it for years because he was such a good dad, LOL), the police were involved, and we separated.
Now that I am in S-Anon (and I can't say enough good things about it! It has done more for me than any IC ever has), I am examining my own issues. His recovery is his own. He is either going to succeed, and at this point all signs point to that, or he is going to fail at it and I am going to move on. I am encouraged that he is actually motivated and doing this for HIM this time. This isn't me brow beating him into getting help. He willingly goes to his CSAT, therapy group, and 12 step program. He began all this while we were separated. He has told me that even if I decide to leave, he is going to keep on doing this for life for him. That is why I believe it will succeed. Only when the addict wants it for THEMSELVES and not to save a relationship will recovery work. They were broken before we met them and we cannot fix them. They have to want this. It is codependent thinking when we think we can "help" them in recovery or that they can get better if they do it for us.
I know that first and foremost I came from an abusive, dysfunctional FOO with multigenerational addictions. I guess in hindsight it is not surprising that I gravitated towards my H. He was from an even more abusive home than I was. We always had some of those commonalities and understood where we were coming from. However, just knowing that we were both screwed up wasn't enough. As I said, I knew (without understanding) that he was a SA for the last 9 years. I still drove myself crazy at times obsessing over his behaviors. I would alternate my obsessiveness with periods of detachment where I threw myself into workaholism, over eating, and drinking too much at times. I don't think that either my H or I have been good parents in the last 5 years, because we have been too wrapped up in our own issues. I am unfortunately seeing the results in our teenagers who have been very hurt and confused by all of this (but that could be a whole new post on the affects of SA on the family system).
So, YES, I have owned up to my codpendency and am working my S-Anon steps. I feel more peace in my life than I have felt in a long time. Even other people see it. I realize that my case may be more extreme than others, and I understand why spouses would reject the codependent/co-addict title, but I think that we all need help irregardless.
[This message edited by TooManyYears at 12:52 PM, July 20th (Tuesday)]
I wanted to quickly comment on your whole interaction with your WH from the other night. First of all, I think it is awesome that you are going to your own 12 step meeting! I really resisted that at first too, thinking, I don't have a problem, why do I need a 12 step program. However, I love my S-Anon group now! Keep going, no matter what happens with you WS. There are women in my group who are in R, D/S, and new to the whole SA thing. We have a lot of diversity in our group.
As for your WS, I have read some of your other posts (I don't always have a lot of time to post, and I don't post from work at all because I don't want to forget to log out), and it sounds like he is only going to SAA to appease you at this point. My H says that there are people in his group that are court ordered or who don't really want to be there. They aren't going to get the same thing out of it that someone who is working on recovery is. If he doesn't want it for himself, and is not ready to admit that he has a problem, there is nothing you can do to help him. You can only take care of YOURSELF at this point. Just my 2cents. It seems that you are well grounded enough to realize that, though.
A few months ago I stated to attend a partners of SA group here locally. It's out of a church that we don't attend and all the other women do. WH has been going to the SA group for the men.
Anyway, WH's sponsor is the H of the woman who has been sort of guiding me. She's been the only one that I've really connected with there. I was actually starting to look forward to going and it was helping.
On to the dilemma. During the last fight that WH and I had WH started texting his sponsor and emailed him. The email was exagerated and absolutely one sided. (I understand that it was his sponsor and that it makes sense that I would be made out to be the bad guy.) Early into the argument WH said we were finished a few times and called me a c*^#. I totally became a bitch after that. He threw a plastic cup of soda at me. It missed. We had an agreement that if he said we were thru then he was to have a bag ready to leave immediately and he refused. Again I became a bigger bitch.
The sponsor told him that he needed document the sitch so that if we get D'd then he use whatever I did wrong in court. Then WH's sponsor told him to maybe try and convince me to call the sponsor's wife. I then got a call and text from the wife.
The next day WH told me that the sponsor got ripped by his wife b/c he went to her and talked to her about what my WH was texting and emailing him. Even though she ripped him she still listened to it and talked to him. She thought better of it after the fact and laid into him.
When we go to the meeting, the code of conduct is read where what is shared among us is private and not to be shared even with our spouses. I know that at the SA meetings they do the same thing and that his sponsor shouldn't have gone to his wife.
I now feel like it is no longer a safe place to work on healing. I must have felt betrayed since I immediately started crying. I had decided that I will no longer be staying in situations that make me feel emotionally unsafe and now the idea of going to those meetings does.
Someone tell me...am I nuts for feeling this way?
Last DDay: 7/15/09
Dday again: 3/10/2011
All Done: Better late then never.
I think that from the beginning I would have had a problem with getting close to the wife of your H's sponsor. I think that invites gossip. I don't gossip with my H about other people's situations. Thankfully our groups meet on different nights and in different locations. I know that some of the women in my group have spouses/partners who attend either his SAA or his CSAT run therapy group, but that sort of discussion if off limits.
I have sort of a funny story for you. My H and I started going to RCA (Recovering Couples Anonymous) after we started working on R in January. We went for 4 months. It was a little awkward, but I really felt like I needed something desperately. I never really clicked with the group, but at the end of March another couple joined, and the wife was very inappropriate. After a few more meetings, I ended up really angry because I felt that she had violated the meeting's safety guidelines and I felt really betrayed. I was SO ticked off and felt hopeless, like there was no help for me, and I really needed it! When I was leaving the meeting, my H could tell and was trying to get me out of there. I ended up yelling that she was a F$%#ing B@#!h as I was leaving. LOL. I then cried and yelled in the car all the way home. So, I get where you are coming from.
Don't give up on the idea of a 12 step program just because this meeting wasn't for you. (Was this a 12 step meeting or just a religiously based program?) Hugs, LIS. Your H still sounds like a dry drunk and the same old a$$hole to boot. If his sponsor doesn't see that, then I question his ability to sponsor him.
The wife isn't my sponsor. She's just the one who is assigned to take the newbies. There are no sponsors. The rest of the women are farther along and using a different book.
This is the only group I'd been able to find for partners of SAs anywhere near us.
It feels like a double wammy. It feels like I was betrayed by the wife, the sponsor and by WH all at the same time. WH just claims now that he hadn't gotten to tell the sponsor everything that he wanted to and that he thinks the sponsor just wanted to get his wife's input to help. And I feel even less safe communicating with WH since all his skewed views of what happens here are going to go to a person who has crossed a line that may be crossed again.
Now WH is asking me if I think he should quit. I told him it's up to him what he does. This is the first group he's stuck to. He should just go and I'll do my work still on my own.
Hmmm...I would definitely continue working on your own healing. I don't have a sponsor at this point (although I am thinking about approaching someone), and I am working on the steps slowly and independently in my workbook. As for him, is he just looking for another excuse to bail? By all means, if it is really helping him, tell him to keep going. But is it REALLY helping him if he is still behaving like an A$$?
I know people have talked about online COSA and S-Anon groups. I never tried them, so I don't know. Don't give up on your own healing, though. You are worth so much more than the way he treats you. I know you know that, and I know that when the time is right, you will do what you need to.
[This message edited by TooManyYears at 3:20 PM, July 20th (Tuesday)]
I told WH that he should go ahead and still go. He's not as big an ass since he's gone and it makes for a whole night with him gone.
I have signed up for an online COSA group before but it was mostly just bashing and not much help.
My husband told me that he had only started up with the online cheater sites about a month and a half ago. That actually made sense, as I know he was depressed after he lost his job. I started noticing a drastic change in his attitude about 2 months ago.
This morning, I started thinking....what if it has been longer. What if all those bacterial infection my doctor said "can be an STD but even a nun can get them--it's probably just your body changing with menopause..."
I plugged in my husband's alternate persona names into a search engine & found that he's been doing this for years.
I can't afford to go to my own doctor until I have health insurance again. I think I recall that you can go to the public health department.
You will never get disclosure until he hits rock bottom and decides to seek real treatment with a CSAT. The CSAT will walk him through a full formal disclosure.
If you don't think he'll ever seek treatment then you know what you need to do. In the mean time you need to set boundaries and consequences and keep yourself safe.
Ya might just keep going and see how it goes...just not share much w/ that one particular lady. Usually, we suggest at least 6 meetings to give it a good shot. I'd hate for 1 person to derail your growth, healing, and chance for fellowship...there is so much to be gained in S-Anon. YOUR recovery is more important than your WH's at this point. And yes, I'd def. still encourage him in his SA meetings. Who knows--he might end up w/ a different sponsor eventually.
ALSO: I just wanted to share that you can get a long-distance phone sponsor in S-Anon. AND, the annual weekend SA/S-Anon combined conferences in some areas are FABULOUS!
Al-Anon can be wonderful if you can't find a S-Anon meeting (I go to both & find them uniquely helpful in different ways)...just some suggestions
The fact that he instead egged your H on is really troubling to me. When the WS finds that sort of cheerleading squad it can seriously hinder recovery.
It wouldn't bother me so much that he talked to the wife, because maybe he was sort of feeling something was off in the situation. Is there any reason you can't talk to the wife a little? Maybe not tell her private stuff, but just ask about her experience, and see how that feels to talk with her? I think it's important to look for support wherever you can, just as important as not trusting everybody you talk to!
Tal - oh, that sucks. So sorry.
I've been off SI for a while, trying to move on with my life. It's been months since I saw or talked to my x, and I don't miss him anymore, at ALL and only feel anger or contempt when I think of him. Or amazement at what I went through. When you're in the middle of it, it's so hard to see how bad things really are. Bit by bit I accepted more outrageous behavior, tried to accommodate him, tried to ignore the obvious.
But now, I'm feeling like I need so much more work to get over the experience of being with a SA (he was never officially diagnosed because he would never go talk to someone about it, but he meets and surpasses all the requirements for behavior, childhood factors, relationship history, etc.) and being lied to and manipulated and treated so badly.
I had to come back to SI to read more, to get my thoughts back in order. Feel like I've been just trying to leave it all behind before actually healing. I'm not doing well in life now, at all. Very down, unmotivated, procrastinating. Just happened to read the checklist for Repressed Anger and I've got all those symptoms. I wondered, "What do I have to be angry about?" And then I laughed.
Reading this was such a relief I feel like crying:
Dr. Barbara Stephens and Ms. Marsha Means spend a great deal of time and space underscoring the fact that these spousal victims are not in any way co-dependents or enablers.
It is shocking to learn that nearly 70 percent of women who are married to sex addicts suffer the varied consequences of PTSD.
It is shocking to learn that nearly 70 percent of women who are married to sex addicts suffer the varied consequences of PTSD.
It has been so hard to get understanding on these points. I don't even talk to anyone about my feelings, because when I've tried I immediately feel shut down, or told to move on, or blamed for staying as long as I did.
It also reminds me of when my XWH first got into AA 15 years ago.
I understand that the concept is not that simple, but in both cases - my ex-husband's alcoholism and my recent x's sex addiction, I was lied to. Their addicted behavior was much more extensive then I will ever know.
it's all about James Hunter, now ;)
And here's the 180 link: