I'm a few years out from being married to a SA. I got separated in 2011 and finally divorced at the end of 2014. This website, and this thread in particular, were my lifelines.
When I decided I had no choice but to divorce my ex, I had a harder time on this thread. I felt like this was a thread only for women who were staying with their SA husbands. But I also decided to leave because I was so overwhelmed by everything I had to do in my real life - like go back to work after ten years of staying at home with my children. But occasionally I do look back here, and I wonder if my experience might help people. I truly believe it will, though I know that each and every one of us is in different circumstances.
I was married for more than 15 years when I found my ex's secret email account. It included a lot of very dangerous and degrading (extreme) S&M stuff, compulsive sexting with men and women for as much as 20 hours a day, meeting with anonymous male and female and group S&M encounters in hotel rooms and empty homes in our city, and a series of S&M affairs throughout the years.
I am missing many details here because they've grown fuzzy in my brain as the years pass and I go the therapy and do EMDR. But at the end of our marriage, I had two women approach me - I was this young, innocent mom with two babies - they both came to my little city house, which was right on a historic sidewalk - like two big steps to my front door, no barrier or protection. One rang the doorbell repeatedly and drove off. They other burst into my life and made me question my children's safely in the world. And now I'm forgetting the violent porn, the Craig's List Casual Encounters, the brutality of it all. The boldness of it all. The bruises on my ex's body, etc.
Anyhow, what I do want to share here is that I have been working so hard to overcome all of this. I can't honestly say that I didn't know anything was wrong during my marriage. I KNEW, but I couldn't prove anything. But my ex has been officially diagnosed with NPD (and a therapist said he's probably a sociopath) so he was always so charming and wonderful until challenged or questioned about my suspicions. Then he was brutal. I alway backed off.
I have divorced. It took three years and a six-month child custody evaluation. I am the primary custodian of our children, who are now doing well at 12 and 14. They see their father every other weekend and have not been exposed to people or violent computer porn as far as I know.
It was all agonizing. Every day during the long divorce I thought I might die. The shame, the betrayal, the danger, the waste of my life in my twenties and thirties for someone who used me like that!
Anyhow, I have worked my way back. I have not lost one friend, and I have gained many more because now I live an open life with no shame an no secrets. I don't expect everyone here to get divorced. But I do want to share my journey with you all, just in case anyone might seriously be considering it. I was 45 when my divorce was finalized. I was lucky enough to find a wonderful man who loved me dearly after a year of ridiculous online dates. But he wasn't quite right for me - he was eight year older (no big deal, really, but he SEEMED so much older than me). His love for me showed me that I'm really okay. I am lovable.
I knew he wasn't quite right, but now I have found, two years ago, the man I believe I always should have been with. I adore him. He is three years older than me. He is handsome, steady, honest, quiet (my ex was loud, which literally hurt my ears), kind, almost boring. I adore him. I trust him. My family and friends adore him.
But I have to share the most difficult of rides for me - harder than my DD, harder than finding out that my ex was having group sex on his way home from work. It's trusting another human being. I did not expect this. I was able to detach from my ex so easily with therapy. I was able to find another job. I could hustle for things when necessary, in my "polite" way. But I could NOT get over the feeling that my two boyfriends, post-divorce, were constantly cheating on me, hurting me. My brain went in ways that were insane.
I'm still working on this. I got diagnosed with PTSD, and I was so annoyed by it - I went to a prominent specialist on PTSD, fully expecting a mild anxiety diagnosis. But he diagnosed me with PTSD too. So I went to a third expert. Same thing. No one would say I just had generalized anxiety disorder. All of them said PTSD. I felt so broken.
Living with a SA in your house is traumatizing. Your spouse is supposed to love you and have your back. You trust them - your whole life is dependent on them and your love for each other. The betrayal is something I will deal with for the rest of my life. But I am determined to get over it!!!!
The lovely news is that my "boyfriend" and I are planning to marry in two years when his youngest goes to college. He is gentle and kind and I hope my PTSD doesn't fuck this up. I am the happiest I've been in my entire life. That is crazy at 50, nearly 51. My finances are sketchy, but I am joyful. It has been a long ride to get here.
For those of you still reading, I'm just writing this to show you that there is life after SA - a different life if you get divorced. I feel like this thread is really focused on women who are currently staying with their SA's, so I will not write again unless someone writes to me with questions. I just want to offer support for those who decide to leave - or for those of you, like me, who really NEED to leave. If you feel this way, just please IM me. I will check as frequently as I can.
Hang in there, girls. We are all worthy of better things. We did not sign up for this, we are NOT to blame. Stay or leave, we are NOT to blame. I can not write that enough. I will say one thing for this group: we have BIG HEARTS.