My story started in January, when I accidentally found out my husband of 24 years was having an affair. I started digging and found out he had been having sex, some of it pretty kinky, with as many as 20 women for the past 5 years.
My story is not about him or what he did. It is about what it did to me. It took every solid thing I thought I had away in an instant. I alternated between excruciating pain and rage I never thought I had in me. I struck back with everything I had. I physically hurt him, hitting him and kicking him as hard as I could. I called him every despicable name I could think of. I called the woman I caught him with, called her husband and sent him all of the evidence.
The husband threatened to shoot my husband’s kneecaps, and I wanted him to. I wanted to read in the paper that the husband had murdered his wife. Neither one of those things happened and, although I don’t feel as rageful as I did, I’m not sure I wouldn’t still take some perverse pleasure out of it if either one happened. Anger feels so much better than pain.
I wanted to have sex with someone and tell him about it (that’s actually harder to pull off than you think), and I did get on one of those disgusting sites that he frequented and had explicit cyber sex with someone and printed it out for him to read. I wanted him to feel just a little bit of what I was feeling. I wished him dead.
Then the pain would come back and all I could do was cry. I cried if someone was nice to me, I cried if a restaurant I used to go to closed, I cried when my dog would get in my lap…anything and everything would trigger a torrent of tears. I really wanted to die. I didn’t have a plan, but I dreamed about it and had visions about it. I was free falling in space, I had nothing to hold onto. I couldn’t remember any values I had to fall back on, there was no one I could talk to, nothing I could see ahead of me but pain.
Now, seven months later, I’m better, but not out of the woods. This brought up my past for me and, with it, all the things that have happened to me that I apparently have not dealt with, particularly a series of traumatic events over the past 3 years, including cancer. Where I was certain that I wanted to keep my marriage together in the beginning, now I’m not sure, but I am very conflicted.
I don’t want to be alone but I don’t want to get back into dating. Financially it would be extremely difficult for me to leave my husband. He is a good man and he loves me, and I know that. He is in recovery and working a good program.
About 6 weeks ago I started seeing another man. I am attracted to him and he makes me feel good when I’m with him. I know this can’t continue and I have broken it off with him twice, but he ends up calling and we see each other again, and so it goes. I know this only stalls my own progress and I hope he doesn’t call me again, even though it hurts me to think that he might not.
I don’t plan to tell my husband about my affair because I no longer want to hurt him in this way. Together, my husband and I have been working with a good therapist whose specialty is sex addiction, and it has been helpful to both of us, mostly my husband, since the therapist’s focus is the addict and not the partner.
I have met with a new therapist with whom I hope to work on some of the issues and traumas in my life that have ended up in this toxic mix of pain and anger that discovery of my husband’s sex addiction caused, and that I have been living with these past 7 months. Since I obviously brought my own issues to the table I cannot blame my husband for all of my grief, but don’t call me codependent.
Discovering your partners sex addiction is trauma in the same way as being involved in a horrible accident. The wreckage you find yourself pinned under is your life as you understood it, the casualties are your hopes, dreams and wishes. Everything you do from that point until you find your way is directed at trying to survive, moment by moment. It’s not always productive and it’s not always right, but it’s damned sure not codependent.