Finding out that your spouse or partner has a Sex Addiction is both devastating and life changing, but what follows that discovery is often so much worse. It is rare that a Sex Addict ‘comes clean’ about his addiction. Often their secret life is discovered by a spouse or partner who confronts them with the evidence, or their activities result in job loss, legal action or arrest.
Sex Addicts live in a world of lies and denial, lying even to themselves. This chronic lying is a way of life and the addict feels so much shame that their only defense is to lie. So, when confronted they hide behind their lies, admitting only to what is necessary to stop the questioning. Not able to cope with facing the truth about themselves, the Sex Addict will say or do anything to avoid conflict or the questions about their actions and behaviors that they have rationalized, compartmentalized and buried.
Spouses and partners in the early stages of disclosure become frustrated with the inconsistent stories, half truths and denials, and often feel as if they are going crazy. The addict often believes the lies they are telling or they convince themselves that lying is the best thing for everyone. All of this results in what is called ‘Staggered Disclosures’. You are given the information in bits and pieces over weeks, months or years.
I did not get most of the facts from my husband for over three years and I know there are still things that he absolutely can’t face telling me, but these are minor and I did get the brutal truth. Finally I got enough information to feel secure within myself that my instincts had been right, that I had been blatantly lied to and that my husband had finally faced his addiction and was willing to admit to himself and to me what he had done wrong.
Some counselors and 12 step groups overlook the need for the spouse or partner to get all the information they need; some will advise you to work on yourself and let the addict work through their problems. This is true, but the rest of the story is that you will never feel safe, never feel secure and never be able to begin to regain your trust until you have all the answers that YOU need. My imagination was so much worse than his truths, and knowing those truths, no matter how painful they were, was what I needed to heal.
Once I had the truth, the whole truth, the truth that I knew in my gut was was honest, I quit obsessing over it. Of course I felt angry, sad and disgusted, and each truth needed discussion and resolution, but then it was over. Then I could put it in it’s proper place and evaluate the relationship from a point of reality rather than fantasy. Then I could then make an informed choice about whether to stay or leave. Until I had all the pieces of the puzzle it was impossible to see the whole picture.
There were times when my husband said that I didn’t have the right to question him about certain details of his acting out. He said these details were too personal to discuss, that he felt too uncomfortable talking about them. Well, too bad! He ran the relationship into the ditch and if he wanted to have any chance for a future with me he had to put aside his discomfort and answer my questions.
It took a long time, thousands of dollars worth of counseling, long hours of talking, yelling, crying and leaving, but we finally got through it. Now we can talk about the future rather than the past.
Not to know is bad. Not to want to know is worse. Not to hope is unthinkable. Not to care is unforgivable. ~Nigerian saying~