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

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delilah2016 ( member #56481) posted at 1:22 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Fireandwater - a great podcast is Overcoming Betrayal and Addiction w/Dr Rob and Tami. I listened to them on a road trip I took by myself a few months ago, 11 hours there and 11 hours back, and I never once thought, I can't listen to this anymore. They are both a bit quirky, but they are both recovering addicts. Dr Rob is a SA and Tami is an alcoholic. You can also watch the their videos on YouTube at Sex and Relationship Healing - they have tons of great videos but my favorite are the Dr Rob Weiss, Sex and Intimacy Q & A, he posts a new one most weeks on Tuesdays. They are my favorites, but there are lots of others out there if you don't click with them.

Wait it out for the CSAT. My husband saw a "regular" therapist while he was on the waiting list for his CSAT and truly got nowhere. Once he got into the CSAT his improvement started immediately. He says his regular therapist mostly listened and didn't talk much. His CSAT calls him out on how he thinks, and actually told him that WHAT HE SAYS MATTERS!! I have been telling him that for at least 20, maybe 30 years. In his first session, I can't remember what my husband said, but he was quickly called out. Anyway, stay on the waiting list, CSAT's are worth it.

Not to sugar coat anything though. I found out about my husband SA 6 years ago. He saw a "regular" therapist at that time that was helpful, but not a CSAT for about 2 years, we did some work together and he got sober, not recovered, for about 4 years, but then he started to slip. I saw it and we stopped having sex pretty quickly, then a year after that in house separation. He lost his job of 25 years during C19, had gotten addicted to gaming and from there more emotional affairs. It seems to me that there wasn't nearly the help then that there is now, then it was read this, read that which was super hard with my PTSD, I bought stacks of books and absorbed little of it....now there is so much more information on the internet, YouTube, and Podcasts. I didn't have a good understanding of SA until I started listening to Dr Rob and Tami this past January. For me all of the books in the world didn't help me as much as listening to real people talk, watching YouTubes, and finding my own CSAT that specializes in Betrayal Trauma, which I started about 4 months. He also didn't get the PROPER help until about 4 months ago.

I have no idea where my marriage is going. We are married 35 years, he was addicted to porn before he met me, he is also a Love Addict, so although he had one physical affair, most of his acting out with humans was emotional affairs. I was a stay at home mom for enough years that it has affected my earning ability and although I will survive financially if we divorce, I have a lot to lose if I leave. And of course a lot to lose if he doesn't fully recover this time.

With my new understanding of his addiction, my CSAT, his CSAT, he is now attending 12 step meetings, I do have some hope. I of course am still hesitant to believe that he can do it this time. He started with his CSAT about a month ago, so he hasn't done his disclosure yet. We have along road ahead, so we'll see......

posts: 245   ·   registered: Dec. 19th, 2016
id 8743400
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 4:44 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

I want to ask you guys to notice something. And look, we ALL did it. It's normal. The reaction to this discovery is to obsess about whether or not our spouse is a sex addict and the therapy he needs and whether or not he's doing the work and all the reasons he might be like this, etc. We become experts on sex addiction in months. This is a trauma reaction. We can't help it. It's the wrong reaction, but again, we all did it. There's a very important reason that BlackRaven stresses to look out for yourself. Listen to her.

The sane reaction to this is "You've lied to me about who you are the entire time. You've broken my heart and risked my health. You don't love me and you don't respect or value me. I deserve better than this." Then you protect yourself. Very few of us have the sane reaction right at the start. If your best friend stole your car, slept with your husband, got you fired from your job and burned your house down, you wouldn't obsess about getting her the right therapy so that your friendship could survive. You wouldn't because you respect yourself and you would protect yourself from that person. You would immediately punt her out of your life for your own safety. When our spouse risks our mental and physical health, damages our finances, destroys the peace in our homes and doesn't respect us, we decide he needs fixing and start looking into how he can get fixed? What? We make it our problem. It's not our problem. The reasons why aren't our issues. His actions and the consequences that we face as a result are the issues we need to deal with.

I suggest everyone with a serial cheater/sex addict should leave if possible for their own mental health. I know not everyone is interested in doing that, and that's fine. Yours is not my life to live. Maybe you're stronger than I am and can deal with staying after all of it. It would never have been worth it for me no matter what he did in recovery. Stay or leave, it is vital that you focus on you, though. Give yourself all of the love and patience and empathy that you have. Get yourself some help to deal with the trauma and PTSD. You are now suffering from mental illness thanks to your husbands' actions and you need and deserve treatment too. You can't fix anyone other than yourself, and you are the one you 100% know is worthy of the effort. This can damage us for life if we don't put in some real work on healing. It will always leave a mark, but you can mitigate the severity for yourself. Detach enough to take care of you. You need to be your #1 priority.

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

posts: 5027   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8743418
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stubbornft ( member #49614) posted at 8:31 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Everything Dee posted is so right on. I also wanted to bargain with reality and became a sex addict expert and I totally agree, trauma response. Once I got through that and started healing and found a good therapist, I was able to detach and leave him and go as no contact as possible. I finally got me back. Pit in stomach loosened and then left. Shoulders softened. Nightmares stopped. Sleep returned. My thoughts lightened, I stopped feeling obsessive. I stopped caring "WHY"?!??? And "HOW"?!??? And accepted - it did happen, now what am I going to do about it and how do I get ME back?

My advice to everyone in this situation is LEAVE. Save yourself. Life isn’t meant to be lived this way.

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: 824   ·   registered: Sep. 14th, 2015   ·   location: TX
id 8743458
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 9:46 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

I want to add that another thing we do is think that our SA is special and not nearly as bad as those other SAs. There were moments with my XWH where I was the happiest I have been in my entire life. We had lots of fun. Lots of really deep emotional bonding. Lots of shared interests. I thought he was kind. I thought I knew him like the back of my hand. Doesn't matter. What we thought we had doesn't matter. Who we convince ourselves they are underneath all of the hurt and betrayal is irrelevant. We experienced the relationship from our perspectives and we were denied a great deal of information about the lives we were living. We can't trust our versions of our marriages because that was an illusion. We had bonds that didn't actually exist. These men lie like they breathe. They knew how to make us feel special and loved and that kept us pretty happy and distracted from what was actually going on. They are masters of manipulation. We all deeply loved the men we married. Not one of us married the husband we wound up with. Each one of us was fooled. There's a strong temptation to try and force it to have all been real by trying to make them change into who we thought we had, as if that real person we married is still in there underneath...well...everything they actually showed us with their actions. That is self-harm. That is playing mind games with ourselves. That's denying reality. It's a comforting illusion, but it's just another illusion. I expect even those who stay with the small percentage of SAs who do recover understand that they never had the marriage they believed they were in with the person they thought they were with. Facing reality and gaining clarity about who we married is the key to detaching and healing.

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

posts: 5027   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8743467
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delilah2016 ( member #56481) posted at 12:53 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Only I will know if/when it's my time to go. Thank you for reminding me why I don't post on this site often.

posts: 245   ·   registered: Dec. 19th, 2016
id 8743487
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 5:21 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Fireandwater,

I want to add something I forgot to mention in my very lengthy post.

NOTHING YOU DID CAUSED HIM TO ACT OUT.

It's not because he likes some other woman's butt better, it's not because you didn't have kinky sex, it's not because you burned his toast, or snapped at him when you were tired. He is broken inside as a result of some trauma from long ago. He's trying to fill that hole, and because he's an addict and thinks like an addict, he can behave as he does and not think about the consequences.

There's a great youtube video of a lecture given by Dr. Kevin T. McCauley, called "The Brain and Recovery: An Update on Neuroscience of Addiction." He was an Air Force surgeon who was addicted to pills and got caught. He lost his medical license and so started focusing on addiction research, particularly whether addiction is actually a disease. I'm not suggesting it matters from our side of the street: They have a million forks in the road where they can make a different choice and they don't. But, it helped me to understand that addicts don't think like us. To learn that their brains always maximize the rewards and minimize the consequences of their acting out was useful for me. Also, to understand the cycle, after they act out they feel tremendous shame, which makes them want to numb out, so they act out again.

So please remember, you didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it.

posts: 335   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8743520
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FireandWater ( member #80084) posted at 5:59 AM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

NOTHING YOU DID CAUSED HIM TO ACT OUT.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond to my post. I sincerely appreciate all of you!

BlackRaven: Thank you for the above quote. Yes, I understand and believe that nothing I did or didn't do caused any of his behaviors. In fact, he has told me the exact same thing, and I truly think he believes that. He knows he is broken and that he should have sought help long ago. I agree that he needs to seek out a CSAT and get a real evaluation and appropriate treatment, and he is committed to working that that.

I had my first session with a new IC yesterday and I left with a good feeling about her. She is well-versed in trauma recovery and is writing up a treatment plan for me that we will discuss and begin to work on next week. In the meantime, I am keeping my defenses up. I don't trust WH further than I can throw him. He has no credibility with me right now, and he knows that. He knows I can and will toss him out at any moment. His actions are being closely scrutinized and he must work with all his might toward his own recovery. For now, that's where I choose to be. He wants us to stay together, but he knows that I have the final word on that. Our kids are grown, in their 20s. Our house is fully paid for. We have a good amount of savings and healthy retirement accounts. I have my own career. I am completely in control of my own life and I make my own choices. I won't stay in the marriage if I truly believe it's not healthy or safe. Right now, I am committed to giving us both a chance to heal. That is my choice.

posts: 88   ·   registered: Mar. 15th, 2022
id 8743523
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 8:05 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Only I will know if/when it's my time to go. Thank you for reminding me why I don't post on this site often.

It's okay if you don't agree. Probably you being here would help others who are more geared towards your experiences. I won't be any help to someone trying to R in this scenario and I recognize that.

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

posts: 5027   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8743580
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veryhurt2018 ( member #65877) posted at 2:11 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

Delilah2016, I get everything you said. I reconciled with my SAWH and and I’m here for you if you want to talk!! There are not many of us out there so I’m here if needed. Just DM me or post in this forum.

I appreciate all the members of this forum but it’s very hard for us that have chosen to reconcile!

Cheers,

Veryhurt

Me-BW(47) Him-SAWH(57) D-Day: 5/9/18 followed by trickle truth for 12 months. Lots of cheating

posts: 150   ·   registered: Aug. 18th, 2018   ·   location: California
id 8743606
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Superesse ( member #60731) posted at 4:09 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I expect even those who stay with the small percentage of SAs who do recover understand that they never had the marriage they believed they were in with the person they thought they were with. Facing reality and gaining clarity about who we married is the key...

I see this as so very true in my own situation.

Just to ping off of your quote Dee, you'll probably wonder why I chopped the last bit? it was because I think the words "detach and heal" may translate to different choices for different people (as you acknowledged.) In many if not most cases, it means total physical detachment. But in some minority of cases (like mine), detachment eventually happened through a tortuous, decades-long process of sexual and emotional detachment for the rest of my life from the man who was supposed to be my husband and my lover - but who turned into an opposite sex roommate! An aging guy who seems to be trying his best to live a new life.

This is totally not what I signed up for, as you said, but I see no better options at my age! And this is not some definition of "Recovery" or "Reconciliation," heck no. It just "is what it is." I suspect in every case with us BS of SAs, we weigh our viable options, economic, emotional, maybe even spiritual? I think it boils down to that. What say y'all?

posts: 1481   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8743615
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 8:43 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

There’s about a 2% recovery rate for sexual addiction. Some spouses will choose to stay & be lucky; some will chose to stay knowing they are living with an addict, some will leave and find serenity, some will leave & always be haunted by their betrayal.

My hope is that each of us - no matter where we fall on that spectrum - learn to trust our instincts, hold solid boundaries, and understand that we are worthy of happiness.

None of us deserved what we went through.

posts: 335   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8743623
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 2:41 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

None of us deserved what we went through.

That right there. No matter our disagreements or different perspectives, we all went through the same hell. We all know that pain.

Despite how I must come across, I have absolutely no judgment for anyone who stays. My judgment is towards the men who put all of us in this situation. Those of us who left certainly didn't have this nonsense factored into our futures either. I know without a doubt that you are the better people in your marriages and that they don't deserve someone so lovely. None of our WH's deserved us. We didn't deserve to be hurt by these men. My primary wish is for none of us to be continually hurt by a sex addict because we flat out don't deserve that. We've all been through enough.

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

posts: 5027   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8743645
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stubbornft ( member #49614) posted at 3:14 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I also have no judgment for those that stay. I AM you, I see myself in every post here and I care for each of you and want the best for you. I wish none of us ever knew such pain and horrific betrayal. I’ll always be one of you, I’ll always want the best for us all.

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: 824   ·   registered: Sep. 14th, 2015   ·   location: TX
id 8743651
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Superesse ( member #60731) posted at 6:56 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I should add that I don't consider my SAWH as one of the few who beat his addiction, so I could "trust" him again! Besides never having intimacy with him again since D-Day 10-2-2002, he would not leave. I think he felt the distance suited him, or something, honestly. But then 8 years ago, when he got arrested for soliciting on my birthday (how Passive-Aggressive), I filed for property separation and executed deed transfers, not like some "post-nup" but like we were doing an actual D. This was my choice to allow me to stay in what used to be our property that I had found and renovated. Even then, he didn't learn: years later, he was busted again with a secret phone for porn hunting. That day, August 2, 2020, I ordered his ass out of my house into our RV! OR he was free to go rent his own place. He had known the deal for 7 years about no more "next times," yet he never has worked much on fixing his issues and I knew I couldn't fix them or trust him again.

However, the following winter, with the winds whistling loudly all night out in the RV, I did take pity and allowed him to come in and sleep on a twin bed in an upstairs bath/sitting room! So now he has a "monk's cell" in my house and part of an office. I doubt many men would have wanted to "stay" after the consequences I was repeatedly required to enact because I wasn't leaving my space. (Would have been easier on me to leave, though.) He likes hanging out here, and so long as he finally stops acting out, he can stay; all that is subject to change, of course. Meantime, he helps out with farm work, fixes our vehicles, buys groceries, etc. It's like he got demoted from Husband to Handyman or it's a lot like some women I know who have a grown son living at home. Yeah, it still feels bad admitting this is as far as we got in 24 years, but there is my "detach and heal" saga, or maybe it's "terminal detachment." It's why I can't call this life Recovery for either of us.

[This message edited by Superesse at 8:16 PM, Thursday, July 7th]

posts: 1481   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8743694
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TheWorldYouWant ( member #78447) posted at 7:28 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

I consider myself to be both in the "detached and healing" situation, and also in the "divorcing and creating a new life for myself alone" situation. Right now I've filed for divorce and STBXWH and I are living peacefully and still as "a couple" until I can finish fixing the house, sell it, and move. I don't have any evidence that he is acting out, but I don't have any evidence that he is NOT acting out, either.

As limbos go, it's not terrible. But it's not what I want my life to be, either. I'm not going to get to have the life I wanted, so I am figuring out a new life for myself.

He's a broken person who won't do the work to fix himself, and I won't allow myself to continue to be traumatized by him. I love him, I have empathy for him, but I am moving on. He will either figure himself out (extremely unlikely), or he will just exist in his own misery without me. And that's OK. I didn't create that for him, he did. I wish these weren't his choices, but that's not in my control.

Overall...no, I don't think SAs can fix themselves, heal, and create healthy relationships. So us partners each need to figure out how to heal, support, and empower our own selves. We're truly alone in that, whether we stay in the relationship or not.

posts: 105   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2021
id 8743919
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Superesse ( member #60731) posted at 11:22 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

As limbos go, it's not terrible. But it's not what I want my life to be, either. I'm not going to get to have the life I wanted, so I am figuring out a new life for myself.

Sounds so much like my life, difference being I think at my age I'm too cynical to 'figure out a new life for myself.' Besides, does ANYBODY get to really have the life they wanted? I can think of so many who have other disappointments they didn't ask for. I saw a woman yesterday with the teenage boy with developmental issues; she was holding his hand as she left a store to get to her car. She will probably always have to do this kind of thing for her son and I guarantee she didn't ask for that. It really humbled me to see such love and devotion when I look at myself and ask if I could give it that much.

But also, whenever I've looked at trying to start a 'new life,' I realize that 25 years of this "M" is in the history book of my life, whether I blast off for a new solo retirement lifestyle or stay here stuck in the trenches, plowing the dirt of my farm until my body cannot do it any more, or not! (You can't even hire men to do this kind of manual work around here and teenagers can't do this heavy work due to legal liabilities. I'm talking hours bent over on hands and knees pulling weeds and carrying 50 lb. buckets of water to plants.)

From the previous posts, it's clear how much variance there is in how we BSs detach and to what extent we can heal from this complex trauma.

But I still wonder how much our decisions to hang in through years of misery is because of our material prospects were we to leave? Because even with good job, financial security, and grown kids in many cases, there still have to be tangible and intangible things we give up, and things that we don't know we are missing until we make the leap. I admire those with the determination and courage to know they will be better off for leaving. I think if I had known that, it would have been a much easier choice to make. But I felt we never can predict how life will go.

I find this an interesting discussion. Hope to hear what you all think.

posts: 1481   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8743956
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 6:59 AM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

But I still wonder how much our decisions to hang in through years of misery is because of our material prospects were we to leave? Because even with good job, financial security, and grown kids in many cases, there still have to be tangible and intangible things we give up, and things that we don't know we are missing until we make the leap. I admire those with the determination and courage to know they will be better off for leaving. I think if I had known that, it would have been a much easier choice to make. But I felt we never can predict how life will go.

Oh sure, I wish I had more money. I paint my own toenails and dye my own hair. My house is several hundred sq ft smaller. What I left behind more than makes up for all of that. My life is happy and I feel free. I feel peace. Nothing would have been worth staying for me. I have a strong need for my home to feel safe and I wasn't going to be able to feel safe with him in it no matter what he did or didn't do. Some people can do that. I couldn't. I'm not wired that way, I think. I can't predict how life will go, but that's no different from when I was married. I removed one pretty huge worry by leaving him. Everything else, illness, job loss, fire, hurricane, lightning strike, hey. Can't really predict those things. Staying would have reduced my life expectancy from the stress alone.

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

posts: 5027   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8743990
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 8:21 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

Besides, does ANYBODY get to really have the life they wanted?

Yes, I know many genuinely happy and fulfilled people. Telling yourself that no one out there really has the life they want is a defense mechanism against making needed changes in your own life. People do this to avoid change in all kinds of circumstances, not just infidelity.

[This message edited by morningglory at 8:23 PM, Saturday, July 9th]

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8744054
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 9:00 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

Telling yourself that no one out there really has the life they want is a defense mechanism against making needed changes in your own life. People do this to avoid change in all kinds of circumstances, not just infidelity.

Accepting the new normal and reclaiming happiness is something that some people can do successfully given time and therapy (assuming they can afford therapy.) Suggesting a person with complex PTSD as result of betrayal trauma just needs to change their circumstances is absurd. I don't think any of us are in a position to judge what goes on is someone else's life, what defense mechanisms they use, or whether they are doing the 'correct' thing to respond to their circumstances.

[This message edited by BlackRaven at 2:16 AM, Sunday, July 10th]

posts: 335   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8744056
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Superesse ( member #60731) posted at 11:06 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

Yikes, I am sorry if my post did not lead to a beneficial turn in this discussion! I would like to (gently) point out that my rhetorical question - whether ANYBODY really has the life they want - was meant to prompt people to assess life in terms of what most of their circle of people feel like, and that comes from what MY CIRCLE of friends express to one another.

But I did not mean to suggest that NOBODY has the life they want. (Just nobody I personally know, I'll grant that. See, I'm pretty old for this board, and therefore most of my friends are in the "life review" stage of adult development. Among them, I can attest that - whether widowed, long-time-married, or divorcees - they all have things they would like to have changed along the way. Three widows I know are miserable that they lost life companions/co-parents. My 2 time divorcee BFF is confused whether she should have stayed with Husband #1. The long-time married women and men I hear from, often seem down in the dumps about their children's or grandchildren's prospects...and that's just a non-scientific sample!) laugh

OK so on a scale of 1 to 20, let's say, it's like some of us are high (18-20) like Dee, and just know leaving was the sane and right thing to do. Some are down in the single digits still hoping and praying for change (BTDT!) Some are maybe in that place I was in so many years, weighing and balancing.

And that's what I'm really getting at.

I have so many people (both women and men) who've given me stern talks about what a great guy I'm married to. You know, that gets to me sometimes, because if I ever met people in REAL LIFE who felt so strongly about my betrayals as we do, it'd be one thing. But I never do. Instead, I usually get a laundry list of how great the guy is and how lucky I am to have what I do have, if I ever mention the down side of my choice to stay in this Limbo! Which is kind of not helpful. It's the same with a couple of books I read years ago, one by Lundy Bancroft: "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and another by Mira Kirshenbaum: "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay." I wish I could say they helped me know the path.

We are here to support one another and my story is perhaps not helping; sorry.

[This message edited by Superesse at 11:25 PM, Saturday, July 9th]

posts: 1481   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8744065
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