The Holiday Season is upon us and for Partners of Sex Addicts the stress can become unbearable.  Here’s a few ideas to help you through the Holidays and deal with all that holiday stress.

Ahhhh…the holiday season. Blinking colored lights everywhere, crowded malls, shopping lists, noise, everyone telling you their wants and needs, your most hateful family members promising to invade your space and those damn holiday tunes  that keep playing in your head long after you have left the dentist office, car wash, hardware store, or ___________ (you fill in the blank) that presume that everyone’s holiday should look like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Looks like massive stress to me!

Holidays are particularly difficult for Partners of Sex Addicts. No matter how close or how far out from Discovery we are the holidays are just loaded with triggers that threaten to crumble us into a sobbing, fetal position heap on the bathroom floor.

Because the holidays (and anniversaries, birthdays, and all significant events) are highly emotional our brains remember those times with unusual clarity and details. Memories of laughter and love, happiness, connection and sharing–memories that used to warm us and make us smile on a bad day–now make our days even worse.

It’s an unfortunate fact that Sex Addicts are at their worst during times of stress–and they experience stress in the most everyday situations, so holidays, celebrations, vacations or any minor change in the atmosphere will send them off on their evil journey to medicate themselves.

Discovery often reveals that what we experienced during those joyful times were, in actuality, some of the worst times. Memories of what used to be turned out to be a lie. Flashbacks of happier times are tainted with discoveries of unbelievable truths about what they were really thinking and doing.

This makes the holidays a dangerous time for all of us. Once we experience Discovery we are forever changed in more ways than we can imagine. We are forced to rewrite our entire history and our relationship with these men. What we thought was real was a facade. What we thought was happy was a nightmare. And significant dates, anniversaries and holidays become days of dread.

So, what can we do? Certainly there is a time for extreme grief, rage, anger, disbelief and even denial. But eventually we must face reality and somehow find ways to deal with these significant dates with a sense of peace.

Ha! Easier said than done you say!

Yes, that’s true, but there are many things we can do to help ourselves weather the holidays without going completely bonkers. The most important thing that we can do is to take care of ourselves. We must go easy on ourselves, forget all those outrageous expectations  and give ourselves a break. Here’s some things that have worked for me.

1.   Sleep.  Sleep as much as you can. Stress uses up a lot of calories and weakens our immune system. Sleep renews us.

2.   Eat. Eat as much as you want, this is no time to stress over calories. See number one.

3.   Downsize. Buy only one small gift for everyone on your list. Let’s face it. Even in these tough economic times we still all have way more than we need.

4.   Delegate. If they are breathing they can help.  Ask gently and always say ‘Thank You’.

5.   Just say ‘No’.  Everyone wants you during the holidays, and there is usually some sort of work involved.  You have enough of your own work to do. Just politely say, ‘That just won’t work into my busy schedule.’ or for those obnoxiously pushy people, ‘I don’t think so.’ always works.

6.   Put the Sex Addiction on hold. Just make a deal with yourself that you need a break during tough times. Allow yourself to be  Scarlett O’Hara and ‘think about it tomorrow’.

7.   Buy yourself a present. Who is more important than you? That’s right–no one. No, not even your children. If you don’t take care of yourself you will not be there for them emotionally or physically. Buy yourself something really special, something that stretches your budget just a bit to make it really count. Wrap it up and put a tag on it to you from you. Make yourself wait for it. Anticipate it. Smile to yourself about it. Then, when you are all alone (go into the bathroom if you must) open it and tell yourself what a wonderful present it is and how special you really are to you. Hug yourself, then go look in the mirror, look directly into your eyes and say, ‘I love you.’

8.   Ask for what you need. Contrary to some popular TV shows, we are not mind readers. Expecting anyone, especially Sex Addicts, to know what we need is just plain foolishness. And, those naysayers who say, ‘Well, if I have to ask for it then it doesn’t count’, that is plain foolishness too. Just ask. Just quietly say (no demands here, you are simply asking for what you need–no hidden agendas) ‘Could you?’ or ‘Would you?’ It works every time.

9.   Give what you can. To those who really need it and appreciate it. Instead of putting yourself in debt buying things that people don’t want or even care about, why not give to those who really need it. Why not buy gifts for all the children in your life and put their name on the ‘FROM’ tag. Then, take the children to a shelter or the local Toys For Tots and let them feel the joy of giving to those less fortunate. That’s your gift to them. Forget about giving to adults. They don’t need it.

10.  Stop being Super Woman. If you need an anti depressant or a sleeping pill call your doctor NOW! Although I am a firm believer that natural is always better, tough times require tough medicine. These prescriptions, when taken for a short period of time, can make the difference between your holidays being a living hell or tolerable–even enjoyable. You owe that to yourself. Face it, we may think we can do everything but we will only hurt ourselves by trying.

Share your stress busting ideas below.

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13 Responses

  1. Thank you JoAnn! BRAVO! Thank you for acknowledging what I feel…….holidays, birthdays, anniversaries…….all suck when you share them with a sex addict. For me, I allow the memories to serve as affirmations to myself. “Remember when he gave you a PMS poster and a record album for a Christmas present and you thought he was a self-centered 12-year old dick on two legs? BECAUSE HE WAS!!!!!! YOU WERE RIGHT!!!!! YOU WERE DEAD ON!!!! TRUST YOUR GUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    I congratulate myself……Everything makes perfect sense now. My sixth sense was dead on. He was a fucktard then and he’s a fucktard now.

    I play the main character in my life now. He’s a bit player. So much of what you say, JoAnn, resonates with me:

    I buy myself presents with regularity.

    I’m learning, gradually, to be as gentle with myself as I would be with someone else who has experienced tremendous loss or emotional impact/loss.

    I’ve stopped holding myself to ridiculous standards. I do the best I can, and that’s all I can do.

    Never miss an opportunity to have fun. Never.

    My life is infinitely better since discovery. I don’t put up with ANY bull shit from the fucktard and I live in the light of truth…..I know what the elephant is in the room. I know the size, shape, color, spots and stripes. It’s not pretty, but I know the truth, and I am thankful for that….genuinely thankful that I know I’m not crazy, I’m not the terrible witch he made me out to be, I’m not the one who is fuck-tarded. He is. I look at him and treat him exactly as he used to treat me.

    My only regret is that I allowed myself to waste 26+ years with the fucktard. I wish I knew then what I know know. I wish I could reclaim those years.

    To the younger ladies in our inauspicious circle, please, for the love of God, get out…….make a life for yourself away from the fucktard in your life. Please….do it for yourself.

    My best to all, Betty

  2. Thank you for this! I JUST went through discovery and I am alittle over whelmed with all the hype that comes with the holiday season! I will take this advice and only buy small presents for the ones that really matter. The thing that resonated most was to buy myself an extravagant gift, hug myself, and say I love me! That is exactly what I need right now!

  3. Thank you so very much for this site. I am in the process of divorcing my husband who is a sex addict. He has finally moved out, living next door with his mum. Just today I was feeling to low. Going through the motions. I was married since 1986. Those years included him having multiple affairs, kicking my son between the legs when he was 12 years old, acting out violently and impulsively, mood swings etc.
    when he came home with lipstick on his underwear and shirt I knew it was time to end this. I really am looking forward to reading everything on this site.
    thanks again,

  4. I just caught my bf on dec 22. It was awful. We are just going thru discovery. He is committed to changing, but I’m still sick with doubt, and fear. I really need to talk with someone that has been here. I’m driving him crazy now. I’m so paranoid, and can’t seem to stop asking him question after question. My mind is spiraling.

  5. Hi Jenn, A and Kathleen,

    I am addressing you all in one post. First of all, for you newbies I want to extend a heartfelt welcome into the club that none of us ever began to imagine we would find ourselves in. We all loved and trusted our husbands/partners, implicitly.

    I am writing as I remember the stories, and forgive me if I get your names mixed up. Quite frankly, as you will see… we are all pretty much talking about the “same man” anyway.

    Kathleen, your husband could be the poster boy of a sex addict. He alternates between being contrite (crocodile tears) with putting you down and putting the blame on you. That’s abusive! Yes, my husband also did not feel adored (although I absolutely worshiped him!) and yes, we also have a special needs child and I leaned on my h and also thought that we were partners.

    For A, trusting another man is also something that I seriously wonder how I’ll ever be able to do. I’ve been with my husband for over 26 years.

    To Jenn, Many a sex addict professes to want to change—after they get caught, that is. How many actually DO change? and I’m talking long term here… And I’m not just talking about the sex addiction, but the personality disorder that lead to it and the ensuing abusive behaviors that go along with it. (which coin-exist with the really “great guy” that he is–sometimes).

    So, how many recover from all of that? none. that’s right. none. not a one actually “recovers” and becomes the man that you thought that you had married or were about to. That man is all smoke and mirrors. He’s a front for this other character–who goes and screws anything he can get his slimy hands on. Why? because he “deserves” it.(he believes with all his heartless and soulless.) That’s what they fervently have convinced themselves. They are immature in the extreme. They are soooooooooo entitled and never at fault for any of this, so don’t try to tell them otherwise. Oh, you will anyway. Of course, you will… because you are trying to make sense out of nonsense and I’m afraid that if you stay in your situations that you will find yourself very, very frustrated and also very, very lost, alone, lonely, and its not going to get any better, unless you leave.

    Why am I saying this? It took me some six years to truly wake up and realize that my husband was not ever going to change. The man I married in 1988 is gone. The man that he is now, is not someone that I care to make a life with. And yes, we had some wonderful times and some very difficult times because of our children and financial situation, but then, I came to realize that our financial situation was the way it was because of his acting out and getting fired for inappropriate contact with female employees. He never admitted that one, but I know that he did, because I saw his facebook page one time where he was flirting quite inappropriately with a co-worker. I read his ads on craig’s list. Its absolutely the most humiliating thing ever.

    It takes a very long time to get past this. Certainly support groups like this are very helpful. There is more available on the SOS site which has a nominal fee, but a lot of wonderful women. Some of us get our own counselors who are very knowledgeable about this. Look. Its very simple. These men are sick. They are mentally ill and maybe 1 out of 100,000 actually comes out of it, but it requires a paradigm shift that would be an all encompassing endeavor to the point of ad nauseum and then they would still not be the man you married!

    My recommendation is to rally all of the support that you can. (however, be warned that some friends and family may not get it. That’s how you’ll find out who your real friends and loved ones are!) And then, make your exit plan. I know, that for some of you, that may be very difficult for a variety of reasons. It was for me. I had absolutely no $, but I found a way.

    and try not to ruminate about the past (although we all do) or second guess your part in all of this (we all do that too). HIS BEHAVIOR HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU! You were just at hand. He would’ve behaved this way with any woman he was with! And yes… many are actually virulent misogynists. They hate women, but they don’t come out and say this. They seek to control women, for whatever their sick twisted reasons are. So, in order to do that, they have to act nice, to catch their prey… And that niceness may even last for years and years… until one day… you look at your husband and no one’s home. not really. the light has gone out of his eyes. His soul has died.

    and yours will likely too… if you stay. This is quite tragic. Its a death of sorts. The only other alternative is to look the other way and let him be. And I mean let him be, but can you? I know that I couldn’t. I am very sorry that this is your fate. But be warned, you will find lots of promises by so-called professionals who will gladly take handsome sums of your hard-earned money, promising a cure (there is none), or that nebulous word, “recovery.” Recovery from what? being an asshole? there is no cure or recovery from that. This IS who they are. Of course, there are many SA’s who do go to “recovery.” 99.9% of them are fake recoveries. Most continue as before, and just get more sly and careful how they go about it. Leopards do not change their spots.

    I recently moved out. It was a long time in coming. I’m not gonna kid you. Some days are very tough, but today, I was with myself, the entire day and felt completely at peace. I don’t NEED a man. I certainly enjoy their company, but I don’t NEED one. I cleaned my place from top to bottom and it felt good. Its all MINE. Its a new beginning and YES, it is absolutely terrifying but also the one thing that has given me genuine HOPE. Do not pin your hopes on a man with no soul. He lost it and his way a long time ago, and I’m afraid that this is the reality that has befallen you.

    So, please take a deep breath. And just know this one thing. In time, you will be absolutely fine, but you cannot go it alone. Get support. Make your plan. Take care of YOU! Be selfish. You deserve it!

    All best and Godspeed on your journey!


  6. Kimberly, I feel so awful reading your post. It scares me, but I have been an addict myself. Alcohol and gambling, and I worked very hard to change my habits and my life. My boyfriend did confess after he was caught. He had no idea how well I can spot a liar and a sneak, and how well I understand the mind of an addict. Since writing my first post, he hit rock bottom. I sent him packing, and made him face the demons that he has been ‘escaping’ from for many years. It has been very raw between us emotionally. He really was living in a fantasy world, running from himself, and using self-sex, porn, and attention from women on-line to try to feel better. It is sick. But I have hope in his ‘recovery’. I guess it’s the risk I have to take…if all the people in my life that supported me in my recovery had bailed, I don’t know where I would be right now. So I’m sticking with him, taking one day at a time, taking care of myself, talking with everyone, staying connected to him/checking in on his mental state, and keeping my eyes wide open to the fact that he might fail miserably. I hate to admit this, but I pray that I don’t end up being in your shoes. I think everyone has a different story, some end badly, some happily. I wish the best for all.

  7. Jenn,

    Sex addiction is not like other addictions in many, many ways and one of the primary issues for me was the betrayal and his use of other women as confidants and “friends”, when the woman he portended to love was lonely as hell and couldn’t understand what on earth had happened to her husband. Where other addictions numb the brain, sex lights it up as nothing else can and the images, feelings and intensity are forever burned onto it. Also, people are not expected to go without sex, whereas as you know… the other addictions require full abstinence. I am not saying to ever give up hope. I am saying to go into this with both eyes wide open. Also, to fully understand your reasons for staying with someone who’s a liar and a cheat. Can he change? There are some who do, and again, if he does, the change may render him into someone you are not interested in. Or, he may change for a while and relapse. Can your heart take that possibility? I think its wonderful that you were able to overcome your addictions, but I don’t think it makes you a hypocrite to not support him with this one. That’s just me. You may feel differently, but my issue is the betrayal and deceit, NOT THE ADDICTION, itself. Does that make sense? Whatever the case, this is all very, very difficult to treat and the problem is… that a lot os SA’s talk a good talk, but that too is false. For me, once a man lies to me… that’s it. The trust is gone.
    Alas, my heart goes out to you and all of us. I wish the news was better… but that is why this forum is here.

  8. With sex addiction there is only one pair of shoes!!!

    The only difference in all the stories is the point of realisation by the partners.

    Being with a sex addict would only increase the probability of the partner relapsing , if he / she is a recovered addict.

    This is my two bit and would love it if i am proved wrong.

    My prayers are with all of us here.

  9. You were all right. He disclosed only half truths to me. Threw me a bone to chew on, but the carcass was hiding behind the lies. He had sex with a stripper. He was honest after lying and lying. And then I demanded a polygraph. The lies continued..’polygraphs are false’ a whole ton of excuses until I went psychotic and he finally confessed. All the pieces started to fit together. The vaginal infection I got out of no where. He did disclose that he was molested as a child. I feel horrible for him. But he keeps his addiction trapped inside a cage…our relationship. Claiming he loves me. That I am enough. He talks so mug, he regurgitates my words so that it seems that he knows ‘exactly how I feel’ . He is so numb. And that makes him dangerous. I feel bad for him. He so desperately wants to connect. But sex since childhood has been all about pleasure and pain. Hiding and sneaking. Add in Internet porn to fuel the escape and it’s a full blown monster if an addiction. He told me tonight after I caught him again checking out women’s asses as we walked home from dinner (this is not a recovery behavior, he is supposed to be working on not objectifying women) I called him out on it and he went crazy, then he broke down and cried and told me he wanted to die. He left the house and there are only two place I can imagine he is….the hospital, or fucking a whire at the strip club. Both are too much for my heart to take. When I first started reading these blogs 2 months ago, I was hopeful, I thought ‘not us, we’ll challenge the odds and beat this’. I love this man and he loves me, but his addiction seems to have won. The damage is too much. I’m done fighting…time for flight. Have to save myself. God bless. Please pray for the weak, they need it.

  10. Jenn, sweetheart, its not about all of us here being right or not.

    Please know this that all of us here have been in the exact same place you wre in.

    I was there too where i thought my SA was different, our love was different, our relationship was different and i thought i would beat the odds too .Women ahead of me in the journey did tell me that they dont change , ever , but i yet held on.I didnt pay heed , but what all their knowledge and sharing did was keep me alert,kept me on my toes, made me sensitive to the slightest of lies and when it happened again all these wise words came back to me.And that is when they helped.

    The so called “recovery”took the exact path as most women here had gone through and i realised he was no different. These men are all the same.So Jenn, I am glad you eventually got there.

    Please know that all pain is finite.

    Hugs and welcome to a healthier world.

  11. Thank you being so brave and writing this article. The paragraph about memories discovered to be painful lies is so true for me. The deception of my spouse is truly outstanding. Holidays, parties and family gatherings are so difficult. I just stay away. Unfortunately, i have lost so many friends when I need them most.

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