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Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts - 21

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SI Staff posted 9/6/2020 04:49 AM

For BS's who have been or are in a relationship with a Sex Addict

SI Staff posted 9/6/2020 05:04 AM

Reposted from Lionne:

“Welcome" to 19. No one wants to be here. But there is help, kindness and common cause in these pages. Please feel free to express your needs. The resources on this page are specifically for people in the unique situation you’ve found yourself in. This information comes from the real-world experiences of spouses of Sex Addicts. We are not professionals and are only sharing what has worked (or hasn’t) in our lives. There are members here who have been dealing with this a long time and know people who have been in active recovery for 10, 15, 20 years. Read other’s stories and share your own.
It is possible to have a viable marriage after exposure. It’s hard work but possible. It’s also possible to have that same kind of happiness and fulfillment if you separate. For some people this is a deal breaker. Both outcomes are okay and a personal decision based on your own circumstances. Take your time to learn as much as possible and explore your options before making a decision – there is no need to rush.

List of resources for Spouses/Partners of SA:

This is the advice and list of resources compiled from past and current posters on this thread dealing with a possible or confirmed SA partner. Educate yourself about SA and codependency. (More on codependency in the second post.) Focusing on yourself and your own recovery will strengthen you to deal with the SA and the impact on your life, whether you choose to stay with your SA or not.

The SA must (generally accepted advice) seek treatment with a CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist). The SA must work their recovery on their own. Even if the SA doesn’t get help, the spouse needs to get counseling to recover from the trauma of being married to a sex addict. Be sure that the therapists are CSATs and/or trained in sex addiction and trauma. If you are in a remote area, many CSATs will skype their sessions. Contact some through online searches. Post here if you see someone you like. Maybe you can get recommendations through private messaging.

12 step meetings should be considered mandatory for SAs. They are also highly recommended for spouses. The IRL support of others going through the same process is invaluable. They are also a great resource for finding CSATS to work with. There are other avenues to recovery but 12 step programs are the most accessible and typically recommended. Real recovery work is HARD and isn't an excuse. An addict working the steps is digging deep into their own self.

Podcast Recommendations for partners of SA:
Marnie Breecker really gets it and was a spotlight in the dark for some of our members:
Part 1 (25 min): Approved Link
Part 2 (42 min): [ApprovedLink URL=41t71u4bz]
Another good podcast: [ApprovedLink URL=jg8mg9jqe]

Book recommendations compiled over time and suggested by members:

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal, by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means. (An essential read regarding trauma of spouses.)
2. Hope and Freedom For Sexual Addicts and Their Partners, by Milton Magness. (Primer for SA education for both SA and spouse. Great first book.)
3. Stop Sex Addiction, by Milton Magness. (Nice explanation of how the process of recovery ideally works with practical advice)
4. Silently Seduced, Kenneth M. Adams, deals with Covert Incest – when parents make their children partners. Excellent insight into childhood issues resulting in SA adult.
4. Facing Heartbreak, by Stefanie Carnes and Anthony Rodriguez. This is a workbook for partners of SAs. (workbook)
5. Intimate Treason, Healing the Trauma for Partners Confronting Sex Addiction, by Claudia Black and Cara Tripodi. (workbook)
6. The Betrayal Bond, by Patrick Carnes. (Very good book for anyone in a dysfunctional relationship.)
7. Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts, by Stefanie Carnes. This could be considered the "bible." It has some info that may not be pertinent to your situation but each chapter is stand alone, so to speak.
8. 
Deceived: Facing Sexual Betrayal, Lies and Secrets, by Claudia Black PhD.
9. Intimacy Anorexia, by Douglas Weiss. (Just the book for both SAs and spouses suffering from Intimacy and Sexual Anorexia.)
10. Don't Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction, by Patrick Carnes.
11. The Storm of Sex Addiction by Connie Lofgreen- a newer book but highly recommended by recent members
12. Sex Addiction by Robert Weiss. Is recommended as a book for clinicians but comes highly recommended by a spouse here.
13. Real Hope, True Freedom, by Milton Magness and Marsha, primarily for partners. While there really isn't any "new" information, it is extremely useful, much of the format is Q&A. They cover many of the questions we all have and ask here. Comes strongly recommended.
14. The Body Keeps Score by Dr. Bessel Van Kolk, this details the trauma your body has been through.
15. Sex Addiction: The Partner's Perspective, by Paula Hall
16. Treating Trauma from Sexual Betrayal: The Essential Tools for Healing, by Dr. Kevin B. Skinner
17. The Porn Addicts Wife: Surviving Betrayal and Taking Your Life Back, by Sandy Brown
18. After a Good Man Cheats: How to Rebuild Trust and Intimacy with your Wife, by Caroline Madden
19. The Porn Pandemic: A Simple Guide to Understanding and Ending Pornography Addiction- Andrew Ferebee

Online Resources for Spouses/Partners (meetings online or in person):
S-Anon (for the spouses/partners of SAs): [ApprovedLink URL=41t70u4bz]
Link for meetings in AUS. [ApprovedLink URL=g7xgw4e2e]
Link for meetings in the UK
[ApprovedLink URL=a7zd70ah5]
Link for meetings in the US (by state)
[ApprovedLink URL=urjxqku1p]
All other areas
[ApprovedLink URL=if7le8hpd]
SANON isn't for everyone, they aren't perfect, but at least there is the company of others who have BTDT. And they are often an excellent resource for information about CSATs in your area, those who are good, those who accept insurance, etc. 12 step work is just good common sense and a way to interact with people in a healthy way. Especially for spouses.

COSA (spouses/partners/children of SAs)
It's likely that you will not immediately find a meeting date and location online. You have to make a phone call which will be returned by a volunteer who will provide you with information. This is for security, to weed out crazies who want to come to meetings.

Omar Minwalla's Thirteen Dimensions of Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma (SAIT) Among Partners and Spouses Impacted by Sex Addiction©. It will come up in a web search. This is also highly recommended.


The websites of Dr. Milton Magness and Marsha Means are very helpful. Dr. Magness has YouTube videos, also. He is very clear on the need to alleviate the trauma of the spouses. Marsha Means has a whole online support program.

Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center - POSARC
[ApprovedLink URL=oldrkeovj]. This site is up to date on new findings, research and current events.

A website with good info on boundaries for dealing with an SA is: 
[ApprovedLink URL=fc4ic5fma]

Finding a Counselor or Therapist:
Look for one that is CSAT certified or specializes in trauma. Recognize that a poor therapist can actually hinder your healing if they do not have these qualifications. (some without may be good for you but many are not and you do not need to add therapy trauma to your issues).

To find a CSAT (Certified Sex Addict Therapist), look for one that specializes in dealing with spouses and trauma. [ApprovedLink URL=2zr5ys19x]
[ApprovedLink URL=sphvpiszn] (Patrick Carnes main site, the founding expert of SA, there are many resources and info on SA)

- APSATS: The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists, advocates for the ethical care and relational healing for all those impacted by sexual addiction and betrayal trauma. Lists of providers that are CCPS (Certified Clinical Partner Specialists) and CPC (Certified Partner Coaches) who subscribe to a developing treatment model that acknowledges and responds to the traumatic stress found in partners affected by sex addiction.

Websites/Articles:
Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center - POSARC [ApprovedLink URL=52u81v4c0]
This site is up to date on new findings, research and current events. But I’ve learned the moderators hold views that are controversial.
The websites of Dr. Milton Magness and Marsha Means are very helpful. Dr. Magness has YouTube videos, also. He is very clear on the need to alleviate the trauma of the spouses. Marsha Means has a whole online support program.

[ApprovedLink URL=jg8ngajqe]
Recovery Nation is An online community with online recovery workshops for both the SA and the spouse. (This should not replace seeing a CSAT and going to SA meetings for the sex addict but is a great addition to those things.)

Omar Minwalla's Thirteen Dimensions of Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma (SAIT) Among Partners and Spouses Impacted by Sex the institute for sexual health has information. [ApprovedLink URL=30t70u3az]

12 steps for S-Anon: (COSA is very similar)
1. We admitted we were powerless over sexaholism - that our lives had become unmanageable. 

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
There is a Humanist version for AA, can be modified for SA:


"Higher Power" is a concept difficult for many. I prefer to think of God as "good orderly direction.)
Not everyone is a believer in a higher power. The humanist version works for them.
[ApprovedLink URL=liaohblsg]

For SAs:
The SA must seek treatment with a CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist]
12 step meetings are mandatory for SAs as generally recommended by CSATS.

Online resources for SAs:
To find a CSAT: [ApprovedLink URL=lc3l1ak7j]

Sexaholics Anonymous: (Recommended by most CSATS, more stringent definition of healthy sexual behavior) At this site there is information for the SA and spouse that may be helpful.
[ApprovedLink URL=vskzsmv2q]
SAA: 
 Sex Addicts Anonymous, this group allows the addict to determine what sexual sobriety is, a problem if porn is part of the addiction [ApprovedLink URL=41t70u3bz]
SLAA: [ApprovedLink URL=h8yhx5f3f] Sex and love addicts ( I have personal bias against them, I don’t believe love has anything to do with this. But you may have better results)
Recovery Nation is an online community with online recovery workshops for both the SA and the spouse. (This should not replace seeing a CSAT (see below) and going to SA meetings (see above) for the sex addict but is a great addition to those things.) [ApprovedLink URL=xum1unx4s]
[ApprovedLink URL=0xp3wq07v] This is an excellent source of information. They focus on the porn aspect of SA. This is an excellent source of information. They focus on the porn aspect of SA.

There is often mental illness associated with SA. Consider that a psychiatric evaluation be a part of the diagnosis, NOT to excuse the behavior but to facilitate recovery. Bipolar disorder and its similar counterpart bipolar 2 often have a hypersexuality component that drive an addiction. This link is a broad overview. It has links for further investigation.
[ApprovedLink URL=tqiwqjt0o]

We spouses have been betrayed in the worst way possible. Repeatedly. This is TRAUMA. Seek help from an IC who can help with this. (See recommended book, The Body Keeps Score by Dr. Bessel Van Kolk).

Many people will tell you that there is no such thing as sex addiction. They cite the omission of SA in the DSM-4. This is the same publication that claimed autism was caused by the mother being unable to bond with their child. The label serves to direct the TREATMENT, and whether this is a “disease” or compulsivity. If the label enables the extinction of the behavior, go for it. Just don't allow yourself to make excuses for a spouse who is “sick.” No truly recovered addict will ever tell you they don't own the behavior. There is “hope and freedom” from SA. Whether you stay in the relationship or not.
These recommendations lean heavily toward 12 step work because it’s been seen to work. Other paths may have equal success. But 12 steps have the benefit of being free and widely available, if only online or by phone.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 6:46 PM, September 6th (Sunday)]

delilah2016 posted 9/6/2020 06:05 AM

Another great website is Bloom for Women. Dr Kevin Skinner who wrote "Treating Trauma from Sexual Betrayal" is one of the main therapists.

They have some free courses and they have a course called "You Bloom" on Betrayal Trauma which I really got a lot out of. I have taken the course a couple of times and the most I've paid is $180 which to me is a steal for a 12 week course. They have lessons each week, a message board to share and a Q & A each week where you can ask questions, then at the end of the week the therapist of the week answers the questions submitted in a YouTube type video.

I've taken the class four times in the last year. I don't do much of the homework the last few times, but I Love Love Love the Q&A's. And I love Dr. Skinner!!

[This message edited by delilah2016 at 6:18 AM, September 6th (Sunday)]

skeetermooch posted 9/6/2020 11:48 AM

Wow - I just checked out this site that was listed in resources by the admin. It really addresses the personality disorder aspect that is largely ignored in SA and the ways that they are emotionally abusive beyond the sexual acting out.

It's on the Institute for Sexual Health page.

BlackRaven posted 9/6/2020 19:34 PM

I spent hours this morning working on the f'in impact letter. When I went to add something to it this afternoon, the computer froze, and when it pasted, it pasted it over top of what was there previously, overwriting it.

I've tried and there doesn't seem to be any way to get it back.

I'm so tired of all this. I'm so tired of focusing on all the past hurt. I feel like I'm in the groundhog day movie where cycling through the same thing over and over. How the hell is 27 years of hurt and lies supposed to make me feel.

DevastatedDee posted 9/6/2020 19:52 PM

Honestly, BlackRaven, it's okay to put all this shit down and walk away from it.

DevastatedDee posted 9/6/2020 19:58 PM

It matters that you're heard, but I swear it seems like if they could understand the pain you would be sharing, they wouldn't do what they do.

skeetermooch posted 9/6/2020 20:44 PM

Agree with Dee.
If it were me I doubt I would want to participate in their little dog and pony show - a bunch of broken spouses sobbing about their trauma to a bunch of lying cyborgs and overpaid shrinks.

Do you what you can BR - you're only obligation is to yourself now.

BlackRaven posted 9/6/2020 20:59 PM

It feels so damn one sided. I share my pain and expose my vulnerabilities to WH, (But only after it’s “approved” by the same employee who fucked me over by telling me incorrectly that my WH had opened a credit card I didn’t know about. Meanwhile, the way it’s set up, as far as I understand, he doesn’t present anything. So I’m basically doing this to WH version 1. And I have no idea who that person is, or if a version 2 has emerged.

At least when he was in rehab, I’m pretty sure he read me a letter offering amends.

They’ve given me no idea what to expect.

[This message edited by BlackRaven at 9:12 PM, September 6th (Sunday)]

Superesse posted 9/6/2020 21:11 PM

And then there's the flaw in the whole "impact statement as therapeutic:" that somehow, if you share your pain, they will wake the F up and find the backbone to commit to getting better? Isn't that the thought behind writing one out? (Or, is it just for a Court case, like any other kind of Abuse a Family Court might rule on?)

Early on, I realized my SAWH, Mr. Nice Guy, actually seemed to be gettng a sick sense of satisfaction from seeing me suffer! I mean, when I was on the floor, sobbing his name in the fetal position feeling EXACTLY like he had been murdered (we're talking right after D-Day 10/2/2002), his sorrow and concern did seem genuine, if understated. But after that, when nothing about his overall way of relating to me ever changed, that I could tell...hmmm. (Some books I read claimed I'd see changes when the SA spouse starts to get into Recovery, yet I saw nothing different.) Over time, I got the sense that my expressing how deeply he had HURT me gave him something he was looking for...like a "connection" wrapped in Agony! Is that Sadistic, or what?! Anyway I recognized the futility of my pain to make any difference in the marriage!

Black Raven, 27 years of this? OMG. I hear you! Maybe the computer glitch is a sign? Trust your GUT!

Skeeter, how is Sunday night? Thank you for mentioning the information you found on Dr. Minwalla's website earlier today. (And thanks again to our esteemed Lionne, whose contributions here have helped so many for so long!)

Thanks to the Mods for quickly adding our next section!

[This message edited by Superesse at 9:20 PM, September 6th (Sunday)]

HeHadADoubleLife posted 9/7/2020 04:41 AM

Another longpost ahead, sorry ladies.

Pulling from the last iteration of our thread, the eyes shining with love face. Damn. That one got me every time. That's the thing that has me feeling sorry for him. Because I know he meant that look. I know it in a deep down in my gut kind of way. But he just couldn't stop himself from letting the demons take over.

That little devil on his shoulder was more convincing than the angel ever could be. Hell, maybe his angel just gave up and flew away after so many years of being ignored.

It must be hell to have a mind that can't make any decision in its own long term self interest, that only follows impulse after impulse, the shallower/quicker fix the better.

But our abusers' trauma does not excuse their abuse!

It feels so damn one sided.
You are right, it very much is. My best advice is to say fuck it. Do what you feel is best for you right in any given moment. If that saying to hell with it and binge watching your favorite TV show while drinking a milkshake, so be it. If it is writing the impact statement, even little by little, do it. Even if you never send it to them. Hell, I could totally see myself being spiteful and saying nope, this isn't for you. I'm writing it down for me, and I'm not going to give it to you. I've cried, I've screamed, I've been a writhing pile of snot on the floor and none of that got through to you, so no, you don't deserve another explanation of my pain. How about YOU write out an impact statement for me. Practice some empathy. Don't bother talking to me until you can figure out a way to adequately express why you felt entitled to willfully and repeatedly smash my heart to bits with a hammer. Until then, I'm keeping my feelings to myself.

Ladies, today I'm feeling... confused? More like pulled in multiple directions, I guess. I've had a couple of very vivid dreams recently that involve XH. The first is with XH and the mistress. Basically me shutting them down on their bullshit justifications etc. But then they keep coming back with nonsensical shit, moving the goal posts, and I keep trying to explain in another way.

You know, like how every conversation with an SA goes in real life.

I'm NC, so it's not like these convos are happening in real life. And even if they were, I know I don't have to explain/justify any of my choices to them. But for whatever reason dream HHADL has a deep need to make them "get" how much they fucked up. To the point where I would wake up from how stressed I was having this convo, then I would fall back asleep after a couple of minutes and immediately go right back into the dream. After the 4th or 5th time I just said fuck it and stayed up, even though it was 5am, because I just didn't want to keep dreaming that.

I think it may have to do with a recent issue with DDs. There is a very long story in there, but the gist is that DD18 and XH had a conflict involving her BF, that DD21 feels would have gone VERY differently if it had been her. She feels like she would have been kicked out for this offense, whereas her little sister is getting special treatment. She was discussing this in a room with 2 other coworkers (so me, her, +2), and the other coworkers were talking with her about the whole ordeal. When she brought up this disparity, she talked about how I had always defended her when stuff would come up. And that everything got worse after I left, she didn't have any protection anymore and he was taking it out on her, and she said and this is why I left. Coworker #1 asked "Are you glad you left?", DD21 said yes. Coworker #2 asked, "Do you wish things were different?" and she said "Well yes, I wish they were still together (gesturing to me) because then none of this would have ever happened" and started tearing up.

So my dream last night was essentially me bitching out XH and his mistress, not for the shit they did to me, but how much they fucked up the kids. I was screaming at them for putting them through this, for how selfish they have to be to not even recognize how many lives they affected etc. How both DDs are still obviously very much affected by everything they did and still choose to do.

Obviously that conversation will never happen IRL. But also, my subconscious clearly has some shit to work out. How do I address this with DD?

I want so badly for her to go to therapy, but I can only bring it up so many times. She has got to address that for herself. She obviously wants to talk about it, because she is bringing it up. On the one hand I am happy that she is feeling comfortable enough to open up to people at work. We are with each other 60 hours a week, often sitting in the same office doing mundane tasks, so we tend to talk with each other a lot. She is generally pretty quiet, so the fact that she's opening up is a positive thing. She has mentioned that she doesn't talk to her BF about these things because she doesn't feel like he will get it. And she basically has no friends now because her BF is emotionally abusive/controlling, which is an entirely different issue, but again, can't control it.

I just also see that these discussions come from such a hurt place, and not knowing where/how to let the pain out so it just kind of word vomits. She's finally recognizing her dad's abuse for what it is, even calling out the discrepancy in the way he treats her versus her sister, which is something she would never have acknowledged before.

But I also feel like she's not giving herself enough credit. She consistently brings me up in conversation with coworkers. Which is normal when it's like "yeah, we love watching New Girl together," or "Omg, listen to this hilarious story about this one time we went camping and the tent fell down on us hahaha." But it often feels like she's the addendum to her own story. Like she'll talk about me defending her, or how much I helped her etc. It just makes me sad that she thinks this is extraordinary, or something that needs to be pointed out. Of course I helped her, that's my role as her mom. And of course I defended her when her dad was being unreasonable. But that's like bare minimum human decency shit. That's not something I should be getting points for. And I'm like girl, I'm not your dad, you don't need to praise me to get love from me! Not to mention, this is your survival story. You survived it too!

I've been trying whenever she says something to reinforce her own role. Like if she says "oh yeah, HHADL always defended me to my dad," I'll say "Yes I did, AND you also learned how to stand up for yourself, and I am so proud of you for that." Like, I don't want to deny her experience, I did help her. But it's like she's the Robin to my Batman or something. And obviously praising authority figures is her comfort zone, and I don't want to deny her comfort when she's still processing and healing. I just so badly want her to grow out of this narrow comfort zone that involves hero worship and making herself the sidekick in her own story. It's so much easier to breathe and enjoy yourself over here on this side of things!

I have no doubt that her dad's SA has greatly affected her relationships and what she is willing to put up with. It makes me so sad to watch her take the abuse. And of course I'm only hearing about the emotional stuff, I don't even want to know what type of coercive bullshit is going on sexually. I'd probably maim the guy.

Not to mention I'm still trying to put the pieces of my own psyche back together. And there is a lot about that which I'm not going to share with her. She doesn't need to know about the specific abuses her dad inflicted on me. I only discuss with her the things that also affected her - his telling them that he and I had never had sex, for example. Or how they would find his sex toys around the house. I'm not going to gaslight them more by denying their reality. My mind races when I think about all of the sexual stuff she is probably not even bringing up, though. Because it's taboo, or she feels ashamed or whatever. I know even my best friends didn't know the half of it, and I sure as shit didn't tell my mom.

We've had numerous discussions over the years re: how it's her body, her choice etc. Even more in the past couple of years since our dual discovery of the exit A and all of the depravity that went along with that. It pretty much forced a much deeper conversation, because they had been exposed to so much that I never knew about. But I try not to harp on it very much. I've let her know that she can come to me about anything, and she does take me up on that every few months or so. But then goes right back to the insanity. She seems to communicate well via memes. Which I know is lame, but whatever works, right? So I'll send her little feminist things about bodily autonomy etc. and she'll laugh and send me things back. Short of dragging her to therapy, I just don't know how else to help her. Any suggestions?

Oh, and the second dream that has been coming up lately is something I would love y'all's opinion on. I keep dreaming that I'm about to have sex with a man, and I'm totally into it (no one specific, just a generic guy). But the minute he gets an erection I am terrified and just want to get the hell out of there, but it all keeps going. Like my mind is screaming no, get away, and my eyes hyper focus on the penis specifically, but like all of the other normal foreplay type things are still happening, like making out and such, which I'm still enjoying. So obviously it's a dream because I can't simultaneously make out with someone and stare in terror at their penis. I keep waking up feeling so incredibly weird. Like I was horny/enjoying myself, but then it's time for the actual penetration and my whole body tenses up and I just want to get the fuck outta there.

It sounds totally stupid when I say it out loud, but the making out/hand stuff and other foreplay is going on and feels great, and then it's almost like I feel him get erect, and now all of a sudden there's a disembodied erect penis floating in a little thought bubble above my head. And I can't get it to go away but I'm deathly afraid of this stupid penis. It's not cartoonish, it's incredibly realistic, but it's not even attached to a person. WTF is up with that?

Ugh, am I ever going to be normal again?

skeetermooch posted 9/7/2020 10:03 AM

HHADL,

My heart goes out to with all of this. When my DD32 keeps bringing something up, I try to figure out what she's fishing for or trying to communicate - what's underneath that she's needing to process. So, if you daughter is continually hero-worshipping, pointing out how you protected her, maybe she's wanting to understand why her dad targeted her and not her sister, why she needed protection, why you couldn't stop him or ???

I would stay away from trying to give her the leading role in the story but rather validate the emotions and see where that takes her. Trying to change her narrative, even to something that gives her more agency can be experienced as invalidating. I'd also experiment with poking around to find what she's struggling to process. Maybe she's trying to understand why you married him or why you didn't stay, when that would've protected her (in her mind). Maybe she's angry that you left (I think I understood that you moved out - sorry if I've got the details wrong) or that she needed protecting from her own father and that you couldn't fix that, that you weren't all powerful.

My daughter for years praised me as a parent and more recently has wanted to process how a cross-country move I took us on when she was 7 ruined her life - omg - so painful. I have so much guilt. I apologized, told her if I knew for a second it would be so hard on her I never would've done it, etc. She kept poking around at the subject for weeks - finally it seems to be put to rest, at least for the moment.

Sometimes, I need to remind myself that the kids have their path in life as we all do and that path includes pain, struggle, realizing your parents aren't heroes, maybe monsters, maybe just human. I can only be there as a resource and support but I can't take away her challenges.

The dreams are maddening - I feel for you - I'm sure your subconscious is full of anger and frustration watching this toxic dynamic continue to reverberate even after your divorce via your children must feel so unjust. The kids went through this break up with you and you have both your own healing to attend to and their's to witness - it's a kick in the teeth for a mother.

[This message edited by skeetermooch at 10:27 AM, September 7th (Monday)]

skeetermooch posted 9/7/2020 10:18 AM

BR, I'm sorry this sounds like trauma porn, designed to make folks think real healing is happening for their hard earned money.

Will you read this for an audience of him, his therapist? Are all the families present as each of the spouses read their statements?

This would be re-traumatizing for me. Early on in this journey I might've welcomed the opportunity to be heard but from my current vantage point it sounds awful. Listen to your gut and do what feels 100% right and healing for YOU. You have given enough to help his healing.

I doubt any SA is persuaded to stop his behavior because they see our pain. They are by definition empathy-impaired. They aren't driven to good behavior by a concern for others. In hindsight I think my STBX was more driven to change when I was strong and he saw the very real possibility that I would leave him for good. When I was weak, he felt secure in our bond and continued acting out. Of course, even if I'd stayed strong for the duration, it wouldn't have stopped him. It stopped him for a few weeks really.

skeetermooch posted 9/7/2020 10:26 AM

Superess,
It's day 15 of NC. Cookies, candy, champagne, streamers please!

I've had some tough moments to be sure, nostalgia, wanting to cuddle with him - sleeping him is much easier to imagine cuddling with than awake him

He left a voice mail the other night (he's blocked but it goes to a folder on my iPhone that I happened to notice the next day). He was weepy, worried about how I was doing, missed us. Whatever - not impressed. He sounded fake and manipulative. He was yanking the chain to make sure I was still attached - nothing more. Maybe his favorite hooker was busy with another client and he was lonely. Who knows.

I did't respond of course.

I'm definitely getting in touch with my anger - I'm so pissed that he put me and my son through this drama and pain. How dare someone invade our lives and shit all over everything? He's a selfish, sick loser. I dodged a bullet getting out of this marriage after only three years but still, he took three fucking years from me.

I'm still grieving and depressed and anxious but I'm confident that I'll get back on my feet. I hate that I have to go through this sad, challenging healing phase because of him. It's so utterly unfair to do this to another person.

HeHadADoubleLife posted 9/7/2020 11:24 AM

Thanks Skeeter!

Yes I definitely agree with you, I don't want to invalidate her. That's why I'm "Yes, and" ing her, instead of "no, but."

Maybe she's trying to understand why you married him or why you didn't stay, when that would've protected her (in her mind). Maybe she's angry that you left (I think I understood that you moved out - sorry if I've got the details wrong) or that she needed protecting from her own father and that you couldn't fix that, that you weren't all powerful.
Yes, this is one of the things I struggle with. We both know on an intellectual level that there was nothing I could do. But for years she had the experience of me acting as a buffer. Was that fair to me, no. But it's just what it was. They were shielded in many ways.

My XH basically forced me out of the home when I discovered him in bed with the mistress. Since I am the girls step mom (I call them DDs, that is what they are to me), I had no rights. I technically had rights to the marital home, and yes, I did remind him of that. Tried to use that to convince him to let me stay with the girls, and he could just go stay with the mistress until we sorted things out. He refused, and said that if I stayed in the home he would take the girls with him to the mistress' house. This would have completely upended their lives, and I didn't want to cause them any more damage than he already had, so I left and stayed with my parents 3 hours away until I could get a new place.

He basically ctrl-alt-deleted me out of their lives and replaced me with the mistress. Had her staying over every night immediately. He didn't technically move her in until about 6 months later, but that didn't matter. Everything was about her. XH forbid them from even mentioning my name around her, and since she was there all the time, this effectively banned any mention of me from their household.

Also, his abuse of DD21 (19 at the time) got much worse. He would scream at her over things that had nothing to do with her. Sent her to the ATM to get money out for him, $200, but there wasn't enough money in his account so all she could get was $40. He screamed at her and told her she was a fucking idiot, how stupid did she have to be, he can't have her do anything, that kind of shit. All because he doesn't understand how to check his banking app to see his balance.

He also got mad one night and threw a lighter at her. I'm sure there were more nights of threats and such, I just wasn't there, so I only get whatever stories they decide to tell me.

So basically she up and escaped with the BF and lived out of her car with him. I had set the boundary that she could live with me if she wanted, but not the BF, and she chose to live out of her car with him until his mom finally took them in. Whenever I ask her about it she says she understands, but I can't help but feel she resents me for not letting her and the BF stay with me.

We've all discussed it on several occasions. That I was forced to leave, but I never would have if I had a choice. I think on an intellectual level they understand it all. That my hand was forced. But on an emotional level that had to be hard to process. One day I was there, the next day I wasn't.

I wish I could go back in time and just take them with me. DD21 was 19 at the time, DD18 was soooo close to being 17, only 3 weeks away. I doubt he legally could have done much, but he scared the shit out of me with threats to charge me with kidnapping. I had told them on DDay that they were welcome to come with me, but I totally understood if they felt like they couldn't, and I would support whatever choice they made. That I would always be there for them etc. They've both expressed to me since that they wish they had just gone with me on DDay. I often wonder how differently things would have gone if they had.

Ever since I left, I guess he got even more loose with his sex stuff, and the drugs too. They had to move to a 2bed 1 bath, and they would find his cock rings and lubricant in the bathroom. I'm not sure, but given his penchant for women's underwear in the shower, I can only imagine what they've found in there. They started finding meth around the house. On coffee tables, the bathroom counter, even the dining room table. To the point where I've been told that now they see it and just kind of shrug their shoulders.

I have so much guilt over not being able to protect them from this shit. I know it sounds terrible, but at least when I was there and he was taking this shit out on me, they had a buffer.

So, if you daughter is continually hero-worshipping, pointing out how you protected her, maybe she's wanting to understand why her dad targeted her and not her sister, why she needed protection, why you couldn't stop him or ???
I think these are actually two separate issues. I think the hero-worship thing is conditioning from her dad. He loved to talk about how he was the single dad taking care of two daughters on his own. How that simultaneously made him the hero, but also the victim of the crazy ex wife (bio mom). He did not tolerate not being appreciated, and to him, a lack of consistent praise was them being "unappreciative." And whenever they did give him praise, they were rewarded with his love and affection. So when I hear her praising me consistently, I can't help but feel like she thinks she's trading in for mine. Which she doesn't need to do. My love/affection isn't conditional like his was/is. I tell her all the time that I'm not going anywhere.

I think this is a huge part of her dysfunctional relationship with the BF. I see it all the time, she keeps twisting herself into knots trying to say/do the right thing, because she thinks then he'll get it and start treating her well. If only I did ____, then he would stop yelling/accusing me of cheating/telling me he's going to burn all of my belongings/insert-fucked-up-behavior-here. I know the mentality all too well. If I just had sex with him more, then he wouldn't act like this.Except that doesn't actually work.

The second part about why XH targeted her over her sister is a big issue. For the longest time she saw this as a positive thing. That he had put more responsibility on her because she was older and tougher, she could handle it. Now she's starting to see how unfair it all was. She mentioned the other day how on his social media he posts a ton of pictures with her younger sister, a hell of a lot more than he does with her. I think she thinks she did something wrong. Like if she could have just found the magic combo of words/actions, then he wouldn't have treated her the way he did.

I think she latches on to me because I'm the one who made her feel like her own person. Instead of always putting the responsibility on her shoulders, I tried to get the two of them to share it. He would constantly put DD21 "in charge" of things, then get mad when they weren't done perfectly. But he would let things slide with younger DD consistently. I treated them equally. They had the same chores, I enforced the same consequences for rules broken. On my watch, younger DD couldn't get away with shit the way she did with XH. When older DD wasn't doing well in school, I didn't yell at her about it, I helped her study. When she wasn't understanding it after several explanations, I found a new way to explain it, I didn't storm off in a huff because "I don't get what you're not understanding!" (XH's response).

Does anyone else have experience with their kids actually discovering things and knowing about the SA? If so, how did you handle it? I feel like the specifics that they dealt with are not things easily understood by most people. Discovering his porn and sex toys "hidden" throughout the house, his gaslighting of them when they would find womens' clothing/jewelry items that weren't theirs or mine, giving them money and sending them to the store to buy his lubricant under the guise of it being "lotion for his tattoos" or sent to buy womens lacy underwear or high heels "for me." These are all things I didn't know were happening under my nose, and I can see a very clear through-line in how all of this stuff has affected them and how they interact with others. I can't help but wonder if they feel like I was complicit in all of it, that I didn't protect them from it. That I should have known somehow. I'm hesitant to suggest SAnon, because the experiences of a spouse and a child are so vastly different. I've asked my therapist about it, but there just don't seem to be any good resources for children of sex addicts specifically.

DevastatedDee posted 9/7/2020 11:49 AM

Skeetermooch, I love that you're getting to this stage. I still want to bleach my entire body and brain for ever having been exposed to that person.

HHADL, oh girl. Timely convo. My stepdaughter came to visit yesterday. Love that girl, always will. What you wrote about being her hero is very familiar to me. I have been pretty "meh" about my XWH for quite a while, but last night I hated him with the power of a thousand suns. She only talked about her dad for a short while, but what she said made me realize something that I should have figured out before. I met a single dad who loved his daughter and spent time with her. All that was fake. He neglected her for years. He manufactured a relationship with her as part of his fake persona to impress me. So for a few years, she got the dad she had wanted all of her young life. Once I lost interest in him, he lost interest in being any kind of father to her. What a complete piece of shit. You can imagine what this has done to her. We have come out of this with me being more of a parent to her than her own father is and her seeing him as a fake who doesn't love her. Her words. I despise him for doing this to her. He has a sweet gorgeous intuitive 18-year-old daughter and he is incapable of even appreciating this, much less being the father he should have been all along. All he has done is damage her. She deserved to be cherished. She worries about her dating choices because she worries that she's trying to fill that dad-sized hole in her. So we talked about that for a while. I am honored and grateful to have been her stepmother during her teen years and he can't even see her as a real person.

Just for the laughs, she told me she tried to talk to him over the weekend, mentioned that she was online dating, and he said "yeah, when I was in CA after rehab I did that and went on a few dates". I had left him and was beyond done at that point and I did not care what he was doing in CA as long as it was far away from me, but this was the time when he sending me texts and voicemails about how much he loved me and wasn't going to date and was going to get himself together and see if we could try again when he came back. LOL. I never gave him any hope of that. I was very clear we were done and only communicated regarding logistics of health insurance stuff with him. It's just so typical that he's like all the other SAs with that kind of lying. They aren't nearly so unique as they think they are.

I know it isn't something I could ask of this girl and I know she needs an adult who loves her to listen about her struggles with her dad, but I hate the way it makes me feel anything about him. It's all anger and I have embraced that plenty in the past few years, but I like it better when I don't feel anything about him. I always have a day or two of rage hangover after talking things out with her. Not her fault and I'll gladly be here for her when she needs me, as I am the one who walked through it with her and protected her as best I could during it all. She can't talk to anyone else in her life about it the same way. I wish she'd get into therapy too, though. She will probably need a lot of therapy in her life thanks to that dumbass.

HHADL, I don't even know if I believe the eyes shining with love at this point. He could pretend a relationship with his own child. How hard could it be to do that with me?

I don't fear sex with a man at all. I fear anything beyond sex. I think of dating with emotions involved and it just sounds exhausting. I could handle "You're hot and I want to ____" all day long, but "I really like you" would make me want to run, lol. I see the direction my damage has taken. Maybe I just need more time to be at peace and recover from all the drama.

DevastatedDee posted 9/7/2020 11:57 AM

How that simultaneously made him the hero, but also the victim of the crazy ex wife (bio mom).

I don't know if you had the same discovery, but the "crazy ex" is not nearly so crazy as I was led to believe. She and I talk now, lol. She knew nothing of the SA stuff, but she had the drug stuff for a lot of years. It was worse than I had known. She was crazy a few times, but I do see why. I don't know if he was into cheating when he was with her and she doesn't either.

My stepdaughter does know about the prostitutes, apparently. Her mom must have told her. I kinda wish she hadn't, but I think her mom has watched her wanting her dad to love her for so many years that she wanted to take him down off of the pedestal that he was on and help her daughter to see him for who he is and stop hoping for what he couldn't give. I don't envy her mom trying to figure out how to handle all of this. I don't know what the right way is. I haven't shared that kind of stuff with my stepdaughter, but I validate her feelings about him and her pain.

Ugh, fuck these guys. Seriously.

I think she latches on to me because I'm the one who made her feel like her own person.

Same. And it is the bare minimum for anyone to do for another person, child or not. It is sad that they see this as a big deal, because that is just how it was supposed to be.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 11:58 AM, September 7th (Monday)]

DevastatedDee posted 9/7/2020 12:16 PM

BlackRaven, it does seem like this impact statement stuff is just re-traumatizing you in service to the addict. Trauma porn, skeetermooch called it. I kind of agree. Shortly after DDay started, I bought a journal that I wrote pages upon pages in for my XWH to read expressing everything I felt. Pages, and when the pain was so intense and immediate that I couldn't possibly have ever written it so nakedly and clearly. He read some of it some of the time. Want to know the result? He felt like a sad victim for being exposed to all my feelings and apparently, it was just too much for him to handle what with working on his sobriety and such. He feared it would make him relapse. Aside from the ever-present victim mentality, it fed something in him letting him feel like he mattered. If he could hurt me that deeply, it meant he mattered. Made him feel important. I really think seeing my pain actually made him feel like I was less likely to leave him because clearly he was important enough to me to cause me that much trauma.

They don't react like normal people to this emotional sharing. I don't know what the purpose of impact statements are when you're dealing with such self-centered people. I only say do it if it helps you. My journal entries helped me, so I don't regret them. Though when I left him, I left the journal for him in case he needed to be reminded of why I was fucking done. He returned it to me in a box with our wedding memorabilia. I had a fine bonfire that night with all that stuff.

You've wanted him to act like a human and get it for 27 years. Another expression of your pain isn't likely to be the magic catalyst. My XWH could not get it even though I lost my mind on DDay and cheated back and he had the pain of infidelity directed back onto him. EVEN THAT didn't make him comprehend my pain. He cannot do it. His brain cannot do it.

skeetermooch posted 9/7/2020 12:30 PM

This kid stuff is yet another layer we have to deal with.
My son wants to talk about my STBX all day long. I want to scream at times. When I can't take anymore, I tell him nicely, that I'd rather not think about STBX anymore today. That usually ends it. I know he needs to process it. He was his stepdad for three years. My son enjoyed him initially when he was being fake nice dad. Then he had to live through some ugly scenes and my idiot STBX even told my disabled son he'd cheated on me - not something I'd ever have shared with my son. Now, I've got to process that with him continually. Thx asshole.

Unfortunately the bio kids are going to have even more fallout likely from these fuckwads. Hopefully, with supportive healthy adults in their lives they'll work through it in it time. All of your step kids are still pretty young so it might take a few years.

skeetermooch posted 9/7/2020 12:52 PM

He felt like a sad victim for being exposed to all my feelings and apparently, it was just too much for him to handle what with working on his sobriety and such. He feared it would make him relapse.

Yep, I heard pretty much the same. My pain made him feel shame and guilt. My sobbing was the equivalent of calling him a monster, according to him. So, hide your trauma people; we don't want these fragile motherfuckers relapsing because of our inability to hide our trauma.

I don't know if I'll ever date or have sex again - first off, most men suck in bed so why waste my time on some inept idiot and secondly it's clear they can mask personality disorders and addiction for a very very long time, long enough to reel you in and ruin a chunk of your life, so why risk that??

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