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I Can Relate :
Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts - 21

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stubbornft ( member #49614) posted at 9:53 PM on Friday, March 11th, 2022

MakeMineReal - yes!!!!!! It is really pretty scary once their masks slips. I missed who he said he was. But that wasn’t who he really was. When it was super hard for me I printed and stuck on the wall by my desk (I work from home lol) "ACTIONS NOT WORDS". It did help!

Me: BS 40 Him: WS 51 He cheated with massage parlor sex workersDday 01/19/2021
Kicked him out in 2021 - life is better on the other side. Moved on with the help of a wonderful therapist.

posts: 829   ·   registered: Sep. 14th, 2015   ·   location: TX
id 8722633
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 5:36 AM on Sunday, March 13th, 2022

I can't say I'm 'feeling like myself' because I don't think I ever really knew who I was. The wound is (mostly) healed, the scars will be there forever, but I have found this strong, resilient, pretty-freakin'-awesome person inside that I never knew existed.


MakeMineReal - This! Inspirational. Thank you!

My therapist uses the analogy of a garage: Our garage was always filled with other people's stuff, and our challenge/goal now is to fill it with our stuff. To do that, we need to know who we are and what we want and like, and what we don't want and dislike.

I took a sheet of paper the other day and I wrote "It's My Garage" and hung it in the bulletin board in my office. Under it, I took a sheet of paper and started to record my likes and dislikes - trying to figure out who I am. I thought I was an intelligent competent secure woman, but that either didn't exist or got eaten away in my marriage. Now I get to figure out what Act 3 holds.

As for falling out of love - I think I knew I wasn't in love for a while. It sort of became obvious when I had to buy a card and couldn't bring myself to buy anything love-related. But that bond was still so great, and I do believe it's trauma bonding and the only way to get over that is time and distance. I think I'm 90% of the way there, but I can't wait to be 100%. (I'm open to hearing suggestions for ways to expedite it.)

posts: 338   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8722844
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MakeMineReal ( new member #62275) posted at 12:59 AM on Monday, March 14th, 2022

BlackRaven, I love the garage analogy! I'm going to use that!

Trauma bonding is definitely a real thing with a pernicious hold on our heart and psyche. Something that's helped me to keep moving forward in my healing is finding new activities and friends, that have no ties to my previous life with the ex. I've taken up tennis (never knew I could be good at it - even on a women's team now!), learned to stand-up paddleboard, play golf occassionally and go to the driving range, and recently started playing pickleball. I never did any of these things, no sports at all, actually, with the ex. This is all mine.... and I love it. New activities have helped me forge a life of my own with my own interests, and with friends that don't know him (thank God...). There's something about pushing through the fear and intimidation to find and sign up for activities, or do something alone for the first time, like going to a museum or taking myself out for a meal, that makes me feel powerful and in charge of my own life. Everything I do for myself, even the little things, increases my self-confidence and self-esteem, both of which he had completely decimated.

We've all had so much taken from us, usually without our knowledge and certainly without our consent. I've always been a pretty reserved person, not sharing my thoughts and feelings, but I feel such a connection with the women on this site; I've learned so much from other posts and hope that I can share something that may help someone else.

I am so grateful for what I've learned about myself, grateful that I'm stronger than I ever imagined I could be, I'm resilient and self-sufficient, and I'm doing a pretty good job at managing on my own. But damn, the price was high....

That said, the bottom line is that I'll take this real life over what I had with him.

"She packed up her potential and all she had learned and headed out to change a few things."

posts: 42   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2018
id 8723020
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 9:13 PM on Monday, March 14th, 2022

Something that's helped me to keep moving forward in my healing is finding new activities and friends, that have no ties to my previous life with the ex. I've taken up tennis (never knew I could be good at it - even on a women's team now!), learned to stand-up paddleboard, play golf occassionally and go to the driving range, and recently started playing pickleball. I never did any of these things, no sports at all, actually, with the ex. This is all mine.... and I love it. New activities have helped me forge a life of my own with my own interests, and with friends that don't know him (thank God...). There's something about pushing through the fear and intimidation to find and sign up for activities, or do something alone for the first time, like going to a museum or taking myself out for a meal, that makes me feel powerful and in charge of my own life. Everything I do for myself, even the little things, increases my self-confidence and self-esteem, both of which he had completely decimated.

Yes, ALL that. That's a huge part of the path out of this. Just some thing, any thing, that is something you're into and that is just for you. That, and little things like grabbing a milkshake when you're out if you want one, decorating your home with little things that are just you. If finances are hard, even a thrift shop visit where you find a something that speaks to you is a huge thing. Whatever it is, it's about you. Ever wanted a pet that you couldn't have before because you had to compromise? Get it. Got any issues that you're passionate about? Get involved. Make your life truly yours, from the clothes you wear to the paintings on your walls to the meals you eat at night. This is the time to be self-indulgent and self-interested for your own good.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 5051   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8723189
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 6:11 AM on Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

MakeMineReal,

I've never been athletic and I've always admired the friendships that people make through sports. Can you possibly share a bit more about how you got into these sports. Had you played before? Did you sign up for lessons? I'm perfectly fine eating in a restaurant or going to a movie or museum by myself, always have been, but the sports thing is hard because there's an expectation of a certain amount of skill. I need a Level 0! If you prefer to message me that's fine.

(and Dee, I need to be careful, two years of milkshakes when I want them ... well, I NEED those sports now.)

Thank you very much,

posts: 338   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8723296
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 7:06 AM on Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

(and Dee, I need to be careful, two years of milkshakes when I want them ... well, I NEED those sports now.)

I can relate. You have my sympathies on that. laugh

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 5051   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8723305
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MakeMineReal ( new member #62275) posted at 7:20 AM on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

BlackRaven, I understand how hard it is to step out of your comfort zone with sports - it can seem so competitive and intimidating.

I have attended beginner’s clinics for various sports, offered by the parks and recreation department, community services, or different groups who are trying to recruit new members, usually at a low cost or for free. I had not played tennis since gym class in high school, when they had the students do 6 week units of different sports (I’m 62 now, it’s been awhile!). I moved to another town about twenty minutes away after my divorce, and I got really lucky - a friend talked me into taking the short intro lessons through parks and rec. I loved it, and the coach told me about an over-55 women’s team that was looking for new players. It was way out of my comfort zone to join a team, but I think I was so hungry for connection (but at the same time adverse to dating, and even to men for a long time…), and desperate to feel that I was good at something, that I was willing to give it a try.

There’s an aquatic center at a river in my area that’s run by the local university - they offer kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddle board lessons. A couple friends and I took the beginner class, we each fell into the water several times but it was a lot of fun. The equipment/watercraft can be rented at the aquatic center so I haven’t invested in anything yet. Pickleball is extremely popular in my community - a group of players formed a local pickleball club that offers clinics for a nominal fee. I took the beginner’s clinic and was hooked! That sport is growing like crazy, and if you can play ping pong/table tennis you’d probably do great at it.

I’ve also looked into the various Meetup groups in my area but haven’t tried any yet. There are a lot of options for sports or so many other interests.

It’s been a lot of fun taking clinics with other people who are trying out a new sport, usually they are nervous also! So far I’ve never felt totally out of place or that I didn’t belong there. It can also help to get a friend to sign up with you, so you don’t walk in alone that first time. I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get comfortable, and whether you enjoy it and continue or not, you’ve done something new and maybe made some new friends.

Something that has been really helpful for me (once I got through the initial shock of the first d-day, then the tsunami of revelations of what the ex had been doing), is reminding myself often that I’ve survived the most horrific, devastating relationship experience I could imagine, so no matter how I do in trying a new sport or anything else, even if I fail miserably, even if I make a fool of myself, I'll be ok.

[This message edited by MakeMineReal at 9:11 PM, Wednesday, March 16th]

"She packed up her potential and all she had learned and headed out to change a few things."

posts: 42   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2018
id 8723507
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 12:23 AM on Thursday, March 17th, 2022

Thanks MakeMineReal,

You have a lot to be proud of! My community isn't very large and I don't think they have resources like that, but I'll start looking for them.

[This message edited by BlackRaven at 12:23 AM, Thursday, March 17th]

posts: 338   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8723664
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 6:00 AM on Monday, March 28th, 2022

ExSAWH has a new serious gf. He was on a dating site within weeks of our final split. Not sure when they met but the story is that within 3 months of being on that site, he'd met someone and their relationship had turned, in his words, 'serious'

He claims he told her every detail of his addictions and acting out, even the prostitutes. Shockingly, he actually seems to be in some sort of recovery. Certainly if he's telling the truth he's a lot more honest with her than he ever was with me. ....

What I keep trying to figure out is what sort of woman knows a guy for three months, finds out he's addicted to sex, drugs, booze and more, cheated throughout his marriage, is diagnosed with BPD, NPD etc, and decides to stay with the guy? I get it's different if you're not the one who had to live through the hell he created, but even so ...

Meanwhile, I keep thinking I'm ready to start dating cause a snuggle would be really nice, but I was actually asked out yesterday by a guy I met hiking a few weeks ago and just don't want to. Not sure if that means I'm not ready in general or if it's just him. He's nice but he's older and there was no attraction on my part.

Anyone dipped a toe in the dating well and have any wisdom to offer? I've never even looked at a site, let alone set up a profile. It all seems so .... scary.

posts: 338   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8726318
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 4:40 PM on Monday, March 28th, 2022

ExSAWH has a new serious gf. He was on a dating site within weeks of our final split. Not sure when they met but the story is that within 3 months of being on that site, he'd met someone and their relationship had turned, in his words, 'serious'

He claims he told her every detail of his addictions and acting out, even the prostitutes. Shockingly, he actually seems to be in some sort of recovery. Certainly if he's telling the truth he's a lot more honest with her than he ever was with me.

Surefire signs that he is not in recovery. If you're serious about being in recovery for alcohol or drugs, you don't date for a year minimum. In recovery for being a sex addicted serial cheater and dating within weeks is NOT even in the ballpark of recovery. He has found a new victim.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 5051   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8726393
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stubbornft ( member #49614) posted at 8:03 PM on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

Surefire signs that he is not in recovery. If you're serious about being in recovery for alcohol or drugs, you don't date for a year minimum. In recovery for being a sex addicted serial cheater and dating within weeks is NOT even in the ballpark of recovery. He has found a new victim.


100%

Who knows what he told her, anyway. And she could be a total mess herself, anyway. Be thankful it's not your man anymore!

I am dating and it's going well. You could try online dating and let people know you want to take things slow. Or wait. Just do what you feel is best for you.

Me: BS 40 Him: WS 51 He cheated with massage parlor sex workersDday 01/19/2021
Kicked him out in 2021 - life is better on the other side. Moved on with the help of a wonderful therapist.

posts: 829   ·   registered: Sep. 14th, 2015   ·   location: TX
id 8726695
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 4:34 AM on Sunday, April 24th, 2022

Hi ladies,

I’ve been doing a lot of FOO work with my therapist. It’s exhausting. Some days like today I just want to sit & read - and that’s hard because I beat myself up for not being productive.

Anyhow, I really came here to share a little tidbit I discovered in my research. It’s from a study last year:

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that social support may be a particularly important buffer against PTSD symptoms when experiencing traumatic betrayal by an intimate partner. Additionally, our results suggest that social support interventions for those experiencing betrayal trauma should focus on reducing negative responses to disclosure and bolstering general satisfaction with social support.

I can’t say if or how much my family’s reaction contributed to my PTSD, but let’s just say they didn’t get it.

[This message edited by BlackRaven at 4:35 AM, Sunday, April 24th]

posts: 338   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8731565
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Superesse ( member #60731) posted at 3:32 AM on Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Hi BlackRaven, good to hear you are working on healing, something we all need.

I just want to comment on how serious the divide is between (a) being honest with others about how bad things are or were, and (b) the knowledge we've stored, through bitter experience, that such honesty on our part will most likely garner us exactly the opposite of what we truly need or at least want to hear from our friends and family. Why that is, remains a mystery. The other day, I basically almost lost a new lady friend I've made, herself twice divorced, over my sharing one tiny example of the crazy dance I've been involved daily living with, for way too many years! Like....her reaction was to feel sorry for him....yeah. I was stunned, but not surprised, as nobody ever seems to see the grit and determination we tried to give our doomed relationships. Just too easy for them to assume we like to whine, I guess. Ugh. Not too much social support out there, I've found.

I think it is because mental illness in general, and particularly in men, isn't visible to others, so there seems to be an attitude - among women of my generation at least - of giving a nice, church-going guy the benefit of the doubt, every time. Nobody in my world (family, besties) has ever believed me whenever I have tried to open up about my pain with his sick inner workings, and how the heck I ended up in this mess!

I encourage you to keep on sharing, understanding what a huge breach it is we have had to navigate.

[This message edited by Superesse at 3:42 AM, Thursday, April 28th]

posts: 1493   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8732410
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 9:11 PM on Sunday, May 8th, 2022

Hi Superesse

I'm sorry that your 'friend' was so shallow. I think a lot of people don't like to have the (fragile) facade of their lives dented by anything they deem unpleasant. It makes them too aware of how much shit there is out there. And not just with infidelity, but a lot of other realities in life too.

I think that's what draws me back to the 12-step meetings - I can cry like a baby in front of them and they just hold space for me. It's a powerful feeling to have that support and acceptance - something I've NEVER gotten from others in my life, not family, not partners, not kids.

I just hold the others far more at arms-length now. It's sad in some ways, but it protects me too.

Also, happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, (regardless of whether you have two-footed kids, furry four-footed kids, plants whatever...) So many of us were trained to put other's needs first; it's a good time to remember that we are allowed to have our own needs too, and it's not selfish to recognize and honor those needs.

posts: 338   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8734247
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Notmine ( member #57221) posted at 4:18 PM on Monday, June 20th, 2022

I think that's what draws me back to the 12-step meetings - I can cry like a baby in front of them and they just hold space for me. It's a powerful feeling to have that support and acceptance - something I've NEVER gotten from others in my life, not family, not partners, not kids.

BlackRaven, I love this! This is so true. I have not been here a lot, but I lurk sometimes. Your posts are most informative and helpful.

I wanted to post some information I have recently become aware of with regards to sex addiction. My husband has been attending these meetings for several years. The relapse rate is astounding. In AA and NA, although relapse is common, there are many examples of folks with long term sobriety (20 plus years). Not so with sex addiction. In all the meetings my husband attends and has attended, there is ONE person who is around the 10 year mark. Many who have been around for years but relapse consistently. This is very concerning. It is really important for newcomers to have the wisdom and expertise of sponsors who have long term sobriety in order to learn the tools to maintain sobriety and to learn to be better humans. This means that recovery from sex addiction, while an ongoing process, is very risky to those of us who live with a sex addict. There are just not enough sponsors out there that can provide healthy support and advice to other sex addicts. In addition, most of the recovering sex addicts that my husband is connected with seem much less stable than my peers in substance abuse recovery....to the extent that I have asked my husband not to bring them home and near my disabled daughter. Self-deception, minimizing and gaslighting is common among these folks, and underscores the prevailing lack of honesty that is necessary to sustain long term sobriety. There is a saying in AA which says that "You are as sick as your secrets". These folks are secretive as hell, even under the guise of being "honest". I guess the shame of some of the behaviors is hard to handle, but you cannot recover unless you are willing to be honest. This is a cornerstone in 12-step recovery.

This is pretty depressing information, but I thought I would put it out there if anyone is on the fence about remaining in a relationship with a sex addict. It is a very risky proposition.

When you're going through hell, for God's sake, DON'T STOP!

posts: 711   ·   registered: Feb. 1st, 2017   ·   location: DC
id 8741053
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stubbornft ( member #49614) posted at 5:56 PM on Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

Notmine - yes, it is scary information. We aren’t meant to stay with our abusers. We are meant to heal and get to safety. They aren’t safe. My prayer for all here is to get out of the toxicity and save their one precious life. It’s over so quickly, we don’t deserve the nightmare they tried to make our lives. We aren’t the addicted and we don’t have to live a life that includes their dark, sick actions.

Me: BS 40 Him: WS 51 He cheated with massage parlor sex workersDday 01/19/2021
Kicked him out in 2021 - life is better on the other side. Moved on with the help of a wonderful therapist.

posts: 829   ·   registered: Sep. 14th, 2015   ·   location: TX
id 8741244
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 3:54 AM on Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Self-deception, minimizing and gaslighting is common among these folks, and underscores the prevailing lack of honesty that is necessary to sustain long term sobriety

.
I see you've met my ex....

But seriously,

The relapse rate is astounding. In AA and NA, although relapse is common, there are many examples of folks with long term sobriety (20 plus years). Not so with sex addiction.

The number I heard when I was reading Patrick Carnes etc was about a 5% success rate, but I recently heard an expert in the field say 2%.

I know that people say it's different because sex is a normal part of a healthy relationship and no one suggests a sex addict be celibate the rest of their lives, but people with gambling addictions still use money to buy groceries and don't relapse at the same rate as SAs, so I think it's more than that.

My personal hypothesis is this: As I understand it, most addictions are an effort to numb some inner pain. But sex or love addiction is a drive ease the pain by finding something that represents the validation that they didn't get from their mother's in their early years. So while most addictions are an effort to get AWAY from something, sex/love addiction is a yearning FOR something. Perhaps it's easier to set boundaries with something concrete, like booze, than it is to stop searching for something intangible.

Notmine, I hope your sharing your observation doesn't mean that things are rocky with your personally, and if they are, I hope you're able to detach and maintain your serenity.

posts: 338   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8741995
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secondtime ( member #58162) posted at 12:29 PM on Monday, July 4th, 2022

I haven't popped in here for a long time.

But, I'd like to incase someone else is lurking.

My husband is knocking on 9 years of combined sobriety.

He was sober for three years, and then started slipping. He never made it to relapse. Defining relapse as acting out as much as he did prior to sobriety. But, it was going down that path. Over a 7 year period it went from a slip a year or so to acting out once a month. At his worst, he'd act out at his job, at home, wherever far more frequently than once a month.

Unfortunately, he lied about acting out again. Which I think he realizes now was the worst thing.

Anyway, he's been sober again for the past 5 years, and I think really in recovery. 5 years ago I learned that my husband never surrendered to the fact that he is an addict. And he never dealt with the shame. Things you don't know, even if they are outwardly doing the work (which, he really was).

I had my doubts about his recovery for a while. A long while.

I was having a rough time last Friday, triggered, and took it out on DH.

The kids heard, got scared and decided to stay over with some family that we have near us.

We had some good discussions with the kids.

For the first time in 15 years, there are no secrets. No more saying trying to explain why he's going away for meetings without actually saying that. No more using code words, whatever. It is a freaking relief.

My DH took complete ownership for his behaviors with the kids in front of me. For the first time. It wasn't softened with any language. It was backhandedly defended. It wasn't the non-apology apology.

He also shared his feelings.

He's stayed sober when I had breast cancer. He stayed sober during covid. If he can stay sober though this, then I think we just might be OK.

My DH has stalled out with his recovery, but he said he wanted to get back to it again. He stalled out on the amends step...of course, when it was time to consider writing an amends letter to me.

I know its his recovery to manage. And he assumes that him apologizing is enough.

But, I wasn't looking for more apologizes. I was looking for him to demonstrate that he really understood the gravity of his actions.

And he did communicate that when we talked to the kids.

We still have some work to do. I still have some work to do. But, I think I'm willing to do it now.

Anyway. Yes. It's hard. Yes. Chances are slim of real recovery.

But it does happen.

Sometimes, slim chances of things happening do turn out OK. Not related to my husband, my last child was an oopsie. She had 1/4 of 1% chance of existing. She is my old age, birth control, and infertility fail. Financially, we had no business having another kid. And it's turned out quite nicely.

posts: 1077   ·   registered: Apr. 5th, 2017
id 8743309
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FireandWater ( member #80084) posted at 6:04 PM on Monday, July 4th, 2022

This is my first time posting on this forum. D-Day was less than four months ago and WH is trying to determine whether he's an actual SA, or just a guy who makes bad choices when it comes to sex. We're both leaning toward SA, as is his IC.

Going back to high school, WH says masturbating was his form of stress release. When some of his classmates were experimenting with drugs, smoking, alcohol, etc. he would go home and masturbate, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. That continued into college, and he also added porn to the mix. There was no internet back then, so his access to porn was magazines and regular visits to the porn-only movie theater in his college town. He would sometimes go with his friends, so I figured it was just a guy thing. I met him when he was in college. I was a few years younger, still in high school in our home town. After the initial, more cordial letters and phone calls to get to know each other and establish that we were a couple, his tone started to change. His letters were downright disgusting, with sex stories and scenarios about us. We hadn't even had a formal date yet, much less had sex. But, I was young and in love and thought that was just how it was supposed to be. I commented once on his letters being too "dirty." He said, "Oh those were nothing. I threw one out instead of sending it because it was so bad." So I guess I was supposed to be grateful that the letters I was receiving weren't worse?

Still, going back to that young and foolish stuff, we did eventually has sex. Looking back, I was probably too young to go there, especially with a slightly older (by 3 years) guy who was so into all things sexual. We stayed together, both finished college and got engaged. He was still into his "dirty" magazines, but I figured he'd grow out of it.

After we got married, it seemed like one awful discovery after another, and they just kept getting worse. I found a list he had made of all the women we knew - my sister, her roommate, our friends, wives of guys we knew, etc. He put a list of features and body parts across the top and rated his favorites for each woman. I was included and only came in first place for my eyes. I guess my body parts weren't high on his list. After we got a computer, I found porn software in a drawer. After we got a dial-up internet connection, I found out he was chatting with women online, one who wanted him to write a dirty story about her (I found a little note where he'd written her name and bra size). Next I discovered he was chatting with even more women and arranged to meet-up with one in person. He says he pulled up next to her in a parking lot and said he couldn't go through with the meeting (that's what he said at the time and still says over 20 years later...who knows?). At the time, I had a 3-year old who was in the process of being diagnosed with autism and an 8-month old). I realize now that I rug-swept that entire situation. It was painful and I never let it go, but we never addressed it head-on.

After that discovery, he claimed he would stop the porn and cybersex, but it continued. He was stealthy about it, turning his computer monitor away from the door and always having an explanation for his long hours on the computer. He would stay up hours later than me and the kids, saying he's just a night-owl and likes to read the news and watch old movies at night. About 8 years ago, I discovered an email, confirming his registration on a site for people seeking "discreet affairs." I confronted him and he said he was just blowing off steam but never intended to act on it, never even read the replies.

Fast forward to this past March. I discovered his full-blown, 2-year physical affair with a bitch former co-worker. They were going at it in parked cars, behind bushes, at her house, at our house. I confronted him and he said he would shut it down, that he knew it was wrong, that he tried to shut it down, but she would cry and make him feel bad. When it came down to it, he didn't want to give up the freaky sex that she was willing to give him. From what I've heard, I am far more conservative than her and will never be into stuff she did. He knew what I was like in the bedroom but married me anyway. Looking back I now see lots of red flags, but I was young and in love and hindsight is always 20/20.

After D-Day, I demanded that he confess everything he's been up to over the years. I said I would listen with an open mind if he told the complete truth, but if I found out later he was lying or holding anything back, it wouldn't go well for him. Here's what he confessed to: Porn, lots of porn. Lots of sex chats and cybersex. A "friendship" with a co-worker in which they exchanged way too much information about their marriages. They began meeting up for walks, even after she quit the company. A few times, they made out at the park, but he says it never went any further and they agreed they should stop meeting up. They are still Facebook friends and sometimes chat on messenger (I read their most recent chats and they look benign). Next, there were multiple visits to massage parlors that provide "happy endings." He would squirrel away an extra $20 here and there until he saved enough for a hand job or blow job. He said he went 6 or 7 times and stopped for two reasons 1) He would feel incredibly empty and guilty afterward and 2) It crossed his mind that it was illegal and the places could be raided with him naked on the table.

So now, here we are. Yes, I still love and feel connected to this man. I owe it to myself and our marriage vows to see this through. If our marriage is beyond repair, so be it. But I can't give up until I've exhausted all avenues of recovery. WH has attended one SA meeting online. He's going to try out another this week. He's seeing his IC and taking his advice to stay busy with other things to keep his mind off porn and chat rooms. He understands that if he truly is an SA, he will be in recovery all his life. He's saying and doing the right things, at least in my mind. But we're really early in the game and his good habits are not yet established. He can slip back at any second. I am keeping my defenses on high alert, which I hate. It's hard to live this way, as I'm sure you all know!

So, I came here to tell my story and see what you guys think? WH and I are going with the assumption that he is an SA. We realize that he needs to be diagnosed by a CSAT, but we haven't yet found that person. We live in a huge metropolitan area with tons of therapists of all types. But it seems that every single one is booked right now and have waiting lists up to six months. His insurance approved him for mental health treatment by a specific therapy group, but they put him on their waiting list. He chose an online therapist so he could get started right away. I also had a few session with an online therapist and didn't click with her. I have an appointment with a new one later today and am hoping she will be the right one for me.

I would appreciate any ideas and input on our situation. Thanks for reading this far!

posts: 100   ·   registered: Mar. 15th, 2022
id 8743336
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 6:43 AM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

FireandWater,

I'm so sorry you're here, but yes, most definitely, this is where you belong.

Before I reply to the specifics in your post, I want to ask how YOU are doing? The betrayal is devastating. Learning that the men we married aren't who we though they were - for me, was like the earth opening up and swallowing me. I have since been diagnosed with PTSD. So the first thing I'm going to say is Take Care of Yourself. You can get a list of trauma therapists (and CSATS) from the pulldown menu on the website for iitap, the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Therapists. In the meantime, ask yourself if you feel safe. Listen to that little voice. Write down your boundaries and stick to them. Vicky Tidwell Palmer wrote a book called Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution that is a great place to start. She also has downloadable worksheets on her website. Practice grounding skills. You can find some great ones online. Get enough sleep, and eat healthy, regular meals, no matter how hard it is.

I urge you to attend 12-step meetings for spouses of sex addicts. SA Lifeline has at least one women-only zoom meeting a day. They also have some in person and so do SA-Anon and S-Anon. You can find schedules online. You will be safe at these meetings and find women who know exactly what you're going through. Even if it feels weird, shoot for 30 meetings before you decide if it's right for you. Different meetings have different feelings and it's ok to move around to find a good fit. (SA Lifeline also has zoom meetings for the addicts). My therapist also had me read "TINSA: A Neurological Approach to the Treatment of Sex Addiction" by Michael Barta, which really helps explain what is going on in your husband's brain. (You'll learn from that book that most SAs have some history of sexual assault, though some have repressed it or are too ashamed to talk about it.) Also learn about narcism, Dr. Ramani has a great podcast, and see if that fits your WH.

Your husband is most definitely a sex addict. That was obvious even before I got to the details, just when you said "masturbating was his form of stress release." My xSAWH said the same thing. They need healthy coping strategies for stress, not jerking off while objectifying women. For that reason, you can probably be sure that you don't know the entire story, and that while "He's saying and doing the right things" it is likely just to keep the peace. He's still an addict. He hasn't begun to do the work he needs to deal with his addiction. Addicts needs more and more of their drug of choice in order to obtain the same results. You already know he progressed from masturbation to chat rooms to massage parlors to affairs, with a preference for kinky sex. He may have also progressed to more illegal activities. He may also be addicted to other things.

Your therapist telling him to to "stay busy with other things to keep his mind off porn and chat rooms." is medical malpractice in my opinion. That's like telling an alcoholic to stay out of bars. It doesn't fix the illness. It's nearly impossible for an addict to recover by white-knuckling it. Even if it keeps him away from porn, there's a huge different between sobriety and recovery, and more likely is that he'll go back to the massage parlors or to prostitutes, while telling you he's not acting out online. Even if he doesn't, he'd still be a dry drunk, with all the dysfunctional behaviors, which includes lying.

Would your husband consider inpatient? There are a few SA programs that run from a week to 8 weeks, with Gentle Path at the Meadows being one of the most famous. It sounds like your insurance might cover a chunk of it. That would be the ideal first step.

Most SAs are pretty good at hiding their behavior. I'm surprised yours has been that obvious; with the obscene letters to you, and his sloppiness about hiding his acting out. It almost makes me wonder if he is doing it intentionally, because he enjoys the power he gets when he upsets you. Google eroticized rage.

Yes, I still love and feel connected to this man. I owe it to myself and our marriage vows to see this through

I thought I still loved my husband, and then I learned about trauma bonding and co-dependence. Now I understand that I loved who I thought he was, and the marriage that I thought I had. But it was all a lie. He wasn't that person. Frankly, IMHO, you don't owe your marriage vows any more respect than he gave them. But now is not the time to make any decisions. Do what is right for you to clear your head, and address your trauma. Decide what sort of person you want your kids to be left alone with. Can you trust him with the kids?

Two broken people can't have a healthy marriage, and an addict who isn't in recovery isn't a healthy parent. You both need to work on yourselves and only then will you know if this is a marriage worth saving.

I would urge you to talk to a lawyer just for information. Find out what the laws are in your state. If you decide to divorce, do you need documentation of his activity? If he gets sued or arrested or if he has had a child with someone else, how will that affect your finances? (I fairly quickly legally separated to protect my half of the assets so our DD and I wouldn't be left destitute if he got sued. I then continued working on R until I learned that he just couldn't stop lying. He'd passed two polygraphs but he still had his secrets.)

I know you didn't want to hear any of this. Please re-read the first paragraph, and do take good care of yourself. No matter what, you're in for a long, difficult, painful ride.

[This message edited by BlackRaven at 5:28 AM, Wednesday, July 6th]

posts: 338   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
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