broken heartMy 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.

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10 Responses

  1. Dear companion,
    Thanks so much for telling us how things unfolded for you. Each and every voice shows me something more of my own story, and something new to understand in others.

    I appreciated your last paragraph–when you compare it to trying to survive a car accident. That image really works for what it’s been like for me too. And the hopes, dreams lying around me, dead in the road. I don’t think my recovering SA husband quite gets the part about the hopes and dreams. He seems to think we can “pick things up where we left off”.

    Also so glad to hear the crazy anger journey. I’ve had similar thoughts too. And a part of me wants to have an affair just to find out what its like to have sex with someone who is turned on by me, instead of with someone for whom my presence is incidental but necessary. I haven’t yet, but I honestly don’t know some days what i’ll do. I find that a little scary in myself, but not necessarily bad.

    My therapeutic journey also uncovered deep emotions I had buried throughout my life as a coping mechanism (my whole life, not just my life with the SA). I have also cried when someone was nice to me, when I saw a family loading their groceries into their car, when the mechanic told me about his dauther’s wedding—oh this list goes on and on. At first I thought I was crazy. Now I just go ahead and cry.

    My anger has also surfaced–anger about a million things in my life, and I am working at the major themes so that I can make different decisions, respond differently etc. so that the anger isn’t building up. Some days I just feel so pathetic. But it’s actually making a difference. Have you watched the movie “The Upside of Anger”? I found it a really helpful. Of course I cried through much of it.

    I hope you can put a few more pieces into the puzzle, and recognize your life again—different but still yours.

    big hug

  2. Hi ladies. I have to tell you, I have visited this site and read everything possible with every free moment I’ve had. I feel like I know you all. I just discovered my husband’s addiction a week ago so all of my wounds are quite fresh. I just worry, with the story above, that I haven’t felt that way. I am a really, really forgiving person so I worry that I am not handling this the right way. Or maybe all this pain is about to rain down on me. We dated for 2.5 years and have been married a little over a year. We have a 3 month old which, to me, is the only reason I have decided to stay at this time. Just a couple of months ago I happened to find these emails that were to girls on craigslist saying very dirty things. I was in shock. After much prodding, he finally confessed to the chatting and the porn and said he only replied to those adds to get off but had never met up with them. A couple of months went by and I found out he had contacted 5 different girls one night after hanging out with his friends. I confronted him and from 1 in the morning to 4:30 AM he confessed to cheating on me multiple times with co-workers, and men and women from craigslist. I didn’t cry. I really haven’t yet. I didn’t yell. I think I may still be in shock. We had the kind of love that people would comment on how we still were together. At least I thought it was something special. Now I don’t know. I feel like I am walking around with the weight of the world on my shoulders but I haven’t had much anger or sadness yet. It comes in waves when I think about how much I have been decieved. Was your anger and sadness instant? Or did it come with time? I am just trying to prepare myself. He has contacted a psychiatrist and we are looking for a counselor and a married couple to take us under their wing. Any advice?

  3. Wow! I can soooo relate to every bit of this. What is it about that 24 year mark? Is it THEIR biological clock expoding or what?

    I have often wanted to say to him, “how the HELL would you feel if you found out I was the one doing all this !@#$%^& behind your back!” But then my logical side takes over and remembers that narcissits do not have that ability, so it would be a total waste of my breath.

    I LOVE your attitude about the codependent thing. I think that really enrages me when I read what my H has written and refers to me as “co-addict”. I AM NOT CO- ANYTHING BUDDY. “Co” conjures up thoughts of willing complicity. I never agreed to any of this!!! I just want to scream sometimes. (I just received Barbara Steffens book. I think I am in love with her after only one chapter!)

    You sound strong and like you are doing really well. I don’t know what is in the cards for my future as far as he is concerned, but I do know I want so much to reach down and find that inner strength and cajones that some many of the brave women here portray. one day!

    One thing that I am concerned about with your post though is the guy that keeps calling you after you break it off with him. I guess I am super sensitive to the “con” factor. I am jaded and cynical and I think they probably are ALL like these secret scoundrals we’ve spent our lives on.

    Just take special care of yourself, my dear. And stay and update us on your progress, I think we all gain strength from one another.


  4. OH Elise ((((hugs))))

    This makes me so sad. Yes, it does sound like you are in shock. It really is unbelieveable that the person we love dearly, the father of our babies, the one we trust more than anything in the world is a sham. I think you are “shell shocked”.

    You don’t state your age but I am guessing you are young. I wish so much that I could have had the benefit of finding this out about my husband when we had only been married a few years. I really would have been out at that point.

    Do you work? If you don’t, I suggest that as soon as you can, get back into the workforce. Do not be a stay at home mom in your situation. Keep your finances separate from his…build it as much as you can. I regret letting myself become financially dependent on my addict. I regret being out of the workforce for 20 yrs.

    And, even though he has admitted and confessed some really unbelievably disgusting stuff….I guarantee you there is MORE and it is a LOT worse than you can even think. Keep up with the counseling even if he doesn’t. It isn’t your fault.

    be strong Elise, you are going to need every fiber you can grab and hold onto. It’s going to get worse before it gets better and it is going to feel like it will NEVER end. Sorry. 🙁

    I’m sure the ladies here that are way further along their journey than me will chime in soon. Take care of YOU and that sweet precious little baby!


  5. Thanks Aleigh. I am 28. About a week before I found out about all of this, I took a job that uses my degree. I took a $10,000 paycut but my husband reassured me to do what I loved and we would make everything work (how nice, right??! ha). We bought a house in January so financially we are making ends meet, but that’s about all. He is in school and our hope was that when he finished school and got a “real job” (he is a server now at an expensive restaurant so he makes good money but nothing stable), that I could stay home with the kid(s).
    I handle all the finances bc up until now, I have worked for a bank and it was just easier. I have told him that I don’t believe that he has told me everything. It was like I would have to keep pressing and pressing. And each time his excuse was that he didn’t want to hurt me. That he thought by telling me only as much as I needed to see that he had a real problem, that it would keep me from hurting more than I needed to. At first I believed this because he has always seen me as very fragile. But after the 3rd round of confession where he finally revealed the cheating had happened since we had been married, I informed him he wasn’t trying to save me from hurting, he was trying to save the little bit of dignity he had left. He agreed. I feel strong right now. I really do. I just worry that the storm is coming. I am holding tight to my faith (read Hebrews 12!) and the small glimmer of hope that he really does want to get better and that in 10 years we could be stronger than we could have ever been without this struggle. But how do I prepare for what’s ahead?

  6. You might want to check out recovery nation. I have just joined and started going through the steps there. And I just noticed today that Barbara Steffens (JoAnn advertises her book here and has an interview with her here) is going to be doing a workbook in conjunction w/her book there. I didn’t investigate it closely, but will later on.

    I wish I knew the answer to your question about preparing. But since my addict tends to only let the secrets dribble out a little at a time I don’t really know anything other than to stash away some cash (great that you handle everything!–but does he keep his tips for fun $?), and keep working on keeping yourself strong for you and your baby. Maybe have an escape plan brewing on the back burner, just in case. Rather than an older couple to take you under their wing, how about getting him into 12step? Guess that would be for the psych. to suggest, but it couldn’t hurt.

    good luck my dear!

  7. I feel your pain. I found out back in May that my husband had been having an affair with my best friend. That in itself was some of the most horrible pain I have ever felt. But a month and a half later i found out that he had been having secret lovers male and female for a while. He had a profile on a few web sites with pictures. It was so hard to look at the photo’s of my husband having sex with all of those other people. I can’t even put in to words the pain I felt. He was out of control. I did some research and found that I was the co addict. I did not like the sound of that but it was true. I was the “co” addict. addicted to my husband, affraid of being abandoned, hoping I could change him…the whole thing. I asked for help from my friends and they came to the resue. Why? becuase he said “I don’t have a problem..” he blamed me bc I he was not happy. So..with the help of a few I kicked him out. It was the absolute hardest thing I have ever had to do. That was 33 days ago. I went through withdrawl for a few weeks. crying, pain..longing for was terrible. I see now that I was so affraid of being alone that I had confused security for love. I do love him but no matter how much I love him…that will not help. He has stayed away…I think he knows …that if I see him I will beg him to come home. I am working on me and my healing, and for the first time in 20 years , it’s all about me. Now I do not suggest that everyone kick out the spouse like I did, God knows that if we could have worked things out somehow, we would be together but he just was not in a place where he wanted help and I was not in a place where I was going to let him keep doing what he was doing. I hope he gets help and I love him still but I am going to heal and go on.

  8. Dear Ladybug,

    How very painful all this must be for you, on so many levels. I so admire your courage in the face of this horrible adversity.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting and needing security. Don’t we all want that? But, any security you thought you had, with your husband was also false and I’m so very sorry that this is the hand you were dealt; it really isn’t fair.

    And you are right—You CANNOT save him. Only he can save himself and only IF he so chooses, and he made it clear that he’s not ready for that. In so many ways, as horrible as this all is, I think that’s preferable to the pathological loser who just goes on as if he’s getting the “help”,”pretending to change”(to appease his devastated partner) but still not really changing his activities. That is an extremely abusive and sick relationship. But, so be it.

    Quite frankly, I don’t see you as being co-dependent at all… Codie women often have all or at least some of the following symptoms:

    They are usually in extreme denial,(not just for weeks, but years!) have very low self-esteem, think they are to blame somehow, or need to change something they are doing or not doing,(in order to keep him happy—no woman can keep him happy!!!) or think erroneously, that they CAN help,(I certainly did!) don’t seek help for themselves at all, or not nearly as quickly as you did, and are clutching in a barnacle-esque-death-grip-to the side of a (sinking) ship. OR, they delude themselves into thinking that he IS getting better, only to sell their souls to feed their (false) beliefs, which, of course, is all very sad. I don’t really see any of that applying to you in any significant way. I think that you are doing amazingly well and have shown considerable strength and courage. So, please allow yourself to feel good about your actions. I admire you a lot!

    Of course, you are naturally grieving a devastating and traumatic loss of your hopes and dreams and the man you loved, adored and cherished. Again, I don’t think that makes a woman a “co-dependent,” just grieving which is a natural process with a devastating loss, like a death.

    Yes, addicts often place blame elsewhere—Anywhere else, but themselves.

    I believe that letting go of him and recovering your own soul, is the most loving and caring thing you could do, not only for yourself, but, in the long run, for him as well.

    Thank you for sharing.



  9. I wish I could just give everyone a big group hug. It really is the most painful life experience a wife could ever endure. A month after I found out my hair started falling out. I lost twenty pounds and had insomnia every night even on that junk (cant remember the prescription now) my doctor gave me. Don’t know why my hair fell out really but that scared me. It has been three full months since I found out and finally I can see things more clearly. My husband spent an average of $1000 a week on prostitutes in 2010. No lie or exaggeration. Cheated all 12 years we were married with prostitutes. I just feel so bad for us all. SA will only get worse as the youth are brought up on porn and any kind of sense of family values gets trashed for being “conservative” or takes away from ones sexual freedoms. Hugs to all of the victims who read this…BIG HUGS =}

  10. Thank u for your postings…your words mirrored my own turmoil. After reading words describing my experience married to a bipooar manic military gay bisexual sex addict; i felt a sense of piece…your honest postings are helping me find myself again.
    Been lied to since2008.
    Third wife.
    Publicizing my sanity vs his crazymaking to military who won’t help for my daughter’s and my own safety.
    Especially your postings make it tangible what I was unable to PROVE. NO MORE. PLEASE KEEP POSTING.

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