One word about the debate about starting a separate thread...all of you, reconciling or not, are the only people in the world who GET IT. We have different flavors of the same situation. I need ALL your perspectives.
So there are going to be some suggestions that are not all sunshine and roses, but they will have a positive impact if they are considered carefully as they apply to your particular situation. Don't get lost in the tone, or what advice is given to people in circumstances different than yours. Instead look at it as it applies to you, use what you can, and leave the rest. There are too many variables to have the ultimate universal answer to this. The key is learning what variables and circumstances actually matter with the issues at hand in that moment.
I first posted here in September, after I discovered what I thought was the (singular) awful thing lurking under the surface of my marriage. I found everyone's responses helpful, and was amazed at the insight you showed. I wondered how you could know my situation so well when you've never met me.
At the same time, I thought many of you were entirely too harsh. I retreated from these forums because I thought some people were bitter and were projecting feelings about their own situations onto mine.
BAHAHAHAHA! Since that time I've discovered yet more awful things lurking under the surface of my marriage, and realize that you all could clearly see what I couldn't. In other words, you were RIGHT. Everything you said -- every comment about what Dick was probably hiding and what had probably gone on behind my back -- turned out to be RIGHT.
On some level I must have taken your comments to heart (even when I disagreed with them) because I came back here. So please, PLEASE, keeping sharing the benefit of your experience! Part of what grabbed my attention was bluntness and tone.
Thank you, all.
[This message edited by GrossedOut at 5:13 AM, May 2nd (Thursday)]
Yes, we have all BTDT. So it is only natural that when we see a newbie blinded by the headlights of the oncoming car/train, we want to swoop in and save them. Help them see what they can't as a result of being temporarily blinded. And some are not ready to process that, not ready to take any more negative information right then because the trauma is too deep. We only want to spare you prolonging the inevitable (that there is always more info and pain after discovery) as we did. Because we feel healing will go better and faster if you know what we wish we knew when we were at your stage of the game. So as negative as that sounds, we are trying to let everyone get as much info as they can, as they can stand, so they can make informed decisions about their life. No matter what path they choose. So keep that in mind as you read.
What really helped me was getting a CSAT that was a spouse of a SA. She wound up divorcing him, because it was many years ago before SA was recognized and he in no way intended to change. She works in a center that is part of the Carnes' camp, actually works with Carnes directly on occasion. So she does support those that want to stay in the M, but she totally supports the trauma model (trained in EMDR too) and can also support those that choose to leave. If you are lucky enough to have several CSATs to choose from, ask them about their own personal experience with SA. Here most of the female CSATs were/are spouses. Also ask what they think of the codep vs trauma model. And ask if they are pro-M or equipped to support both scenarios.
It has been my experience and what I have heard from others locally that CSATs are usually not covered, at least not in network, by insurance. So likely there will be a OOP cost involved. Please don't think you are not worth that cost, or that you will save money by going to a therapist that is covered but is not a CSAT or trauma/addiction therapist. You will only pay for the difference and then some later by not being treated properly. Meaning, therapy later to undo the damage the well-meaning but not qualified therapist will do to you, the medical bills that will follow from the stress of not being treated properly and possibly the STDs you will get as they tell you to reconnect sexually before you should, the crazy highly contested divorce bills that come because the problem wasn't treated properly the first time, etc. I see too many people say, I will just go to S-Anon, or I can't afford therapy for both of us, so SAWH will get it, or I can get by with the therapist that is covered and see it either crash and burn, or those people just stall and stay in limbo and not improve over time. Any time I go to a S-Anon meeting, I can tell who is seeing a qualified therapist and who is not - it is THAT apparent to me at this point in my journey. I am not suggesting this to be negative. I am telling you how to set yourself up for success in this process, not matter what path you choose.
I wish you strength and healing, all of you. Holding you in the LIGHT...
Yes, we have all BTDT. So it is only natural that when we see a newbie blinded by the headlights of the oncoming car/train, we want to swoop in and save them. Help them see what they can't as a result of being temporarily blinded. And some are not ready to process that, not ready to take any more negative information right then because the trauma is too deep. We only want to spare you prolonging the inevitable (that there is always more info and pain after discovery) as we did. Because we feel healing will go better and faster if you know what we wish we knew when we were at your stage of the game. So as negative as that sounds, we are trying to let everyone get as much info as they can, as they can stand, so they can make informed decisions about their life. No matter what path they choose.
THIS is the crux of it. I think those of us who have dealt with SA for a long time and have seen the progression and escalation in behaviors are trying to help those who have no idea what they have just stumbled upon. I understand that sometimes I can be too blunt about things, but I did so many of those things that I caution others against. I remember the first time I heard the words "sex addiction" (over 13 years ago now). I too, thought that "this can be fixed" or that I can be the supportive wife. I thought admitting it was a good step and that IC would solve things. I always thought "it could be so much worse". Then, one day, many years later I woke up and it was worse! It could hardly have gotten any worse!
I really strongly emphasize separation for spouses with SA not in recovery and strong self-protection. Too much energy and focus is spent on the addict. We need to make sure we are protecting our children, getting post-nups (where legal), working toward financial independence, and getting the help we need (therapy, group, etc.). If the SA comes around and gets into therapy, great. If they get into therapy and then relapse later (such as with Choosing Hope or Sager), then we have options. Most of us (whether you want to use the codependent model or the trauma model) are broken. We need help. Putting all the emphasis on the SA only delays our healing.
I know that those who stay away from this thread who say it is "too negative" want to keep their rose colored glasses on. But mine were broken so long ago by living in a soul-crushing household of addiction for so many years. I too wanted to believe so badly that it wasn't so bad, and at that time, it wasn't, in comparison. So many newbies want to believe in happily ever after, but unless the addict truly embraces recovery and they also work on healing, it won't happen. I am not here to tell anyone "I told you so". If at some time in the future my H, who will be in recovery for 4 years this fall, were to relapse of course I would be saddened. However, I would like to think that I have worked on myself and my healing and developed a support system that would allow me to continue on the path towards healing that I am on.
The bottom line is that self-care must be paramount. The focus needs to be taken off the addict and the relationship. That is something we ALL have in common, whether in R or S/D.
SAWH finally did reach out to me yesterday after 2 days of no contact. Our daughters birthday is today so we are going to dinner tonight. I'm very nervous and not quite sure how to act. He sees me detaching as me not loving him.
But me showing him more attention than I should right now while he's in an active affair is not good either because he's getting the best of both worlds.
I'm so torn. I'm also afraid he's going to file for divorce since she's receiving her divorce papers today from her husband.
I know I need to focus on myself and try not to worry about what he's doing with her but it's so hard. How do you do that. My mind is consumed with him and her.
I'm still in shock that he seemed so ready to get help and he was still lying the whole time and was already in another affair.
TMY - I understand your perspective. I agree and disagree with it. Not all SAs are exactly the same. Just like all alcoholics aren't exactly the same. Things develop and escalate at different speeds. There are plenty of men in my SAWH's group that exclusively did porn for a long time (20 years or so) and it never went beyond that. They escalated their porn use but never went to live acting out. They were in the fantasy. Also, I feel and have been told that in the beginning there does have to be focus on the SA. To get them into treatment and the right treatment. Learning to set the boundary that my SA will be in treatment and active recovery for me to say, is a healthy boundary. This is being emphasized at treatment centers for spouses. Totally agree about separation from an actively addicted spouse. Whether those in the beginning of recovery are better off together or separated seems to be a hot button issue between therapists. The latest data seems to suggest that it is not the best for recovery of the relationship. We have done it for a couple of months but ended it recently, when we consulted over the phone with Magness. He has looked at the data and strongly disagrees with it. While Carnes seems to be a big proponent.
Anyway, my point is that there are a lot of resources. We all need to be able to take what we need and leave the rest. The PMs I have gotten were not about people on the thread expressing the negativity of their situation. It was about people telling them to divorce and end their relationship. Those that don't have a support network yet, hear enough of this from family or friends. They express just looking for a safe place to speak their truth and advice for getting help. Sometimes this thread turns into doom and gloom, run. It is not having rose colored glasses on to say that recovery is possible. It does take a lot of resources and hard work.
I am a pretty level headed person, low on the drama in my life. Where I tend to get codependent is when someone is feeling picked on on this thread and PMs me. I know I go into protection mode and then get aggressive. Whereas, when I am dealing with my own situation I don't get as upset. I've been back in recovery for almost 2 years. So, that is something I am working on. So, sorry if I have ever gone kind of Mama bear on people. That is a weak spot with me. You should see me if someone rips into my kids, whew. I really have to watch myself with that one. My SAWH and I were talking about the abuse he suffered from his father, he was saying I would probably shoot someone if they did that to my kids. He's right.
I went back and read your posts on page 35 and 37. I am not on here all that frequently.
As for whether your WH is a SA or not, that is a diagnosis for a CSAT. Not all serial cheaters are SA. My H never had what I would term an "affair". There were no relationships in his acting out. SA is very varied in the specific behaviors. It takes a professional to diagnose and treat SA.
As for focusing on yourself, read up on self-care. What small things can you do just for you? Taking a walk or bubble bath are things that I like to do to relax. Are you in IC?
As for whether or not he will file for divorce, that is out of your hands. If he wants to, nothing you do or say will change his mind. I know it is easier said than done, but you have to give up on the things you have no control over, like his behavior.
You are worth more than whatever crumbs he is throwing your way. I know you may not believe this right now, but you are.
Not all SAs are exactly the same. Just like all alcoholics aren't exactly the same. Things develop and escalate at different speeds. There are plenty of men in my SAWH's group that exclusively did porn for a long time (20 years or so) and it never went beyond that. They escalated their porn use but never went to live acting out. They were in the fantasy. Also, I feel and have been told that in the beginning there does have to be focus on the SA. To get them into treatment and the right treatment. Learning to set the boundary that my SA will be in treatment and active recovery for me to say, is a healthy boundary. This is being emphasized at treatment centers for spouses. Totally agree about separation from an actively addicted spouse. Whether those in the beginning of recovery are better off together or separated seems to be a hot button issue between therapists. The latest data seems to suggest that it is not the best for recovery of the relationship.
Yes, escalation and progression are variable. There are some SA's that will never advance to the levels of deviancy that my H did. My H did not start out doing illegal things. He was heavily into porn and masturbation (and fantasy of all varieties...not just sexually based) throughout his teenage and young adult years. His first contact with a prostitute was in his early 20's. He remained into normal porn and prostitutes/personals for the first 10 years of our marriage. Things started to become darker and more deviant along the way. It wasn't like some overnight thing. I just didn't realize the extent, because I wanted to believe the best or that it was fixable. It is sad statement when I say that because of the things he did, the prostitutes and "normal" porn aspects don't even phase me.
I disagree that the focus needs to be on the SA in the beginning. That is operating under the assumption that the relationship is of the most importance, when as spouses of SA, WE should be the most important. There is NOTHING wrong with setting boundaries, and telling the SA that anything less than full effort is not acceptable. However, when we put all our effort into making sure the SA is in recovery, checking up on them, and spending the funds for them to see a CSAT and neglect our own needs as spouses, that is a problem. Too many newbies want to do just that. Put all the focus on the SA. If that SA doesn't hit rock bottom and want it, all the resources in the world aren't going to make a difference.
We ARE broken. We need help. When all we do is focus on the SA that is not helping us. The focus has to be on what we can do for ourselves and to promote our healing. When we don't focus on healing, if the SA does indeed get better, we will just end up bitter. I know the first year of my H's recovery I felt bitter because I put too much focus on him, and not enough on me. It is something I have had to rectify.
I am not completely negative about R with a SA, but I feel that too many are quick to jump into R without waiting to see if there will really be lasting change. Obviously, I am in R with my H. As you pointed out, it does take resources and hard work. Unless the SA is willing to really dedicate themselves to that and go the distance, lasting change will not occur. R with a SA is a calculated risk. They battle addiction for life.
A few nights ago, something 'clicked' in me. I suddenly felt more untangled and realized that I was done enabling his behaviors. Last night I told him that I would never feel comfortable in a relationship with him if he doesn't go into a recovery program. He pouted a bit and felt that all his efforts so far meant nothing to me.
It's not that. I do see how hard he's trying. Am I wrong though, in thinking that going to a Buddhist monk for SA isn't going to cut it (and I say this as someone who has been interested in Buddhism for many years)?
I do feel uncomfortable today. I'm not used to saying what my needs are. I'm not trying to control him; I was stating what I needed to even begin to ponder whether I'll ever feel safe being close to him.
He's been going on these self-reflecting walks. Last night he realized that over the years, he started seeing me and the kids as just a burden. He kept wondering why the two of us grew apart, but never realized it was because he was pushing us away. I'm just realizing myself how painful his treatment over the years has really been.
That was probably me.
I'm more sorry than I can say that I was right, if it was me. I wish all the stuff I make educated guesses & predictions about was just the rantings of a crazy person with no basis in reality.
After a week or so of intense internet research I stumbled back on to this site and went back in to those same threads with a totally new mind set. I started reading & was totally blown away at the information I was able to get coming from folks who were walking in my shoes & knew my pain, my issues and my fears first hand. I can tell you that while it scared me to death to read some of the comments from this thread, I knew it was real and that I could trust what I was reading. Every comment so far has validated every feeling I have had and in some weird way prepared me for the feelings I didn't know to expect.
All that to say, there is really no way to candy coat this stuff. I prefer to have the good, the bad & the ugly because for me that gives me a sense that I have everything I need to determine my next move. Words are inadequate to express my thanks to everyone on here. It is obvious that you are doing the grueling work of trying to repair yourselves & your marriages. In some ways I feel like you have saved my life already. The things I've read here helped me have the proper response to the things that I never thought to anticipate. So thank you! Thank you all for everything! I'm following closely. I'm hanging on for dear life!
I met with my longstanding therapist today and I talked with her about this codependency issue. She was flummoxed -- she said in her counseling experience co-dependency refers to enabling behaviors when the person KNOWS OF THE PROBLEM! She does not see how I could have enabled an addiction I didn't know about until six days ago. Anyway, the CSAT place utilizes the trauma model and I do see the importance of being mindful of one's ongoing behavior and vigilant for codependent behaviors. For whatever reason when I called s-anon the co-dependency piece of that group just felt like the final insult!
Can I ask a question about therapists to those who have btdt? I have a longstanding therapist (ph.d in health psychology) who is very good, smart, trained in CBT, and does alot of work in fertility and birth trauma. She has also done hospice and has some experience with addiction but that is not her specialty. My issues for seeing her initially related to birth trauma, high risk pregnancy, and desperately wanting another child. I still desperately want another child and I am trying to sort out that piece *as* I process the turn my life I has taken.
I also know she can get me past a trauma -- I had a delivery two years ago that was the stuff of horror movies emotionally, involved a child pronounced dead and revived but at risk for brain damage, ICU for me/NICU for baby, and also a c-section with incomplete anesthesia - - meaning I felt most of the removal and cutting and the head of anesthesia came to personally apologize it was so bad. And my therapist and I processed that fully. In fact, I was able to walk back into the same hospital and use the same OR without any panic attacks or flashbacks when I had my D&C last week.
She was very willing to read the Steffens spouse of sex addicts book. But she is not a CSAT (and a CSAT conversely won't get the fertility piece for me). Would you all recommend staying, switching, or using her as a primary therapist and supplementing with monthly check in visits with a CSAT?
I think it is critical that a spouse of a SA work with a counselor who is mindful of addiction, co-dep and relational trauma. The letters after the name are less important to me, though.
I brought it up more for the "health" part -- her training is health psychology which is a broad field obviously but would have included some addiction training and experience with working with addicts. But she is not specialized in addiction.
We are in sort of mess here because there are limited numbers of CSATs in our area. My husband now has one (and I don't want to go to anyone in his office even). The other one in our town we will probably end up seeing as a marital CSAT. There are others but it involves substantial travel time. Outside of CSATs, I guess I am not clear if someone with more addiction training but possibly less efficacy at trauma and no experience with my fertility piece is going to be better for me than current therapist who is great with trauma and fertility and has basic, but I think only basic, background in addiction.
[This message edited by cds22 at 11:58 AM, May 2nd (Thursday)]
I'd like to strongly urge each new member to this forum to please focus on herself (or himself, should there be any male lurkers) and her children (if any). Get the right counselor for YOU. Make decisions that work for YOU.
I haven't posted in a long time, but I read your posts and respect your opinions.
MY SAH fully acknowledges his problem, goes to counseling 2x a week, and 12 step groups. (We live in a very small, rural area, and he has to go to AA groups, because the closest SA group is over an hour away and it is during the time that he coaches our son's baseball team. He plans on going back there after the baseball season is over.) He was a SA sponsor he meets with regularly. The closest SANON group is about 2 hours from here, so I don't have that resource.
In other words, he's doing everything that he's supposed to be doing. He is a wonderful father, and he repeatedly tells me that he wants to be a husband to me... the type of man that he never was in the past.
I cannot begin to fathom being in a relationship with him again. I have told him that we will basically fake it in front of the kids until they are out of high school.
That translates into 7 years of this for me.
I look at it like I have no good options. I can get out and hurt the kids, who have NO divorced friends. (You would think that we live in Mayberry RFD.) Or, I can stay in this crummy limbo and be unhappy. Our kids have no idea and are doing great socially, in school, etc. Our oldest is leaving for college this fall.
I see a counselor who told me that if we can be nice, it's better for the kids to stay like this. My SAH is hopeful that I will eventually give him another chance. I am not even angry with him anymore.... I think I'm just emotionally disconnected. I like him, but I know that he's sick and I can't trust him. He has lied to me so many times, and I feel used after almost 20 years of marriage, where he kept up the happy family front (church involvement, boy scout leader, coach, etc.), and had his secret life with more women than I can count.
I value all of your perspectives.
Married 19 years
Together for 25
3 sons: (17, 13, & 11)
D Day 1 - July 1997
D Day 2: 8/29/12
My two cents. You have a different story. You have multiple multiple high level traumas going on at once. I wouldn't stop seeing your health psych, she is seeing you through some of them and I think that is important. I would consider seeing a CSAT or someone with experience with spouses of addicts, maybe for an initial consult and see what they say.
I am actually wondering if it would make sense for you to be in group therapy setting. Group therapy, meaning with other spouses at the same time, but only one CSAT leading discussions and exercises. A lot of CSATs do this now. In my group, we have a few people that don't have their own IC but do go to group for various reasons. One because of financial reasons, group therapy is less than half of the cost of individual sessions and that is all she can afford. One because she has other issues in play like you, and uses her IC time with a different specialist doc instead and addresses her SA-related stuff in group therapy. Etc. One added benefit is you get the comraderie of others struggling in the same shoes as you. Second is sometimes you see things in others you don't see in yourself at the time, and that can be eye-opening. Just another option to explore.
I don't think the credentials necessarily matter. Sometimes it matters for insurance coverage, LOL. But I do think trauma experience is important for sure for all. I also think that those of us with partners that already acted out in the freaky stratosphere would benefit more from someone who is a CSAT or has experience with the issues of sexual addiction on a family than one who has not. I am not downplaying the suffering of those whose partners have not gone that extreme, I'm just saying there are more specific issues to address - porn addiction only for example usually does not involve addressing STDs, legal and safety considerations of other people that can come after you, etc. which are traumas all on their own. Please don't take offense mamas, I know we all are hit with tremendous shit with this no matter what they did. I'm just saying that as someone whose partner should have been on Jerry Springer, I would not waste my time on a IC whose client list would not have exposed them to this stuff already. I don't want to be the test case on that stuff, ROFL.