Diane’s Story Drowning in the Shallow End of Recovery

Diane has graciously shared her story. For anyone else having trouble posting their story, simply e-mail it to me through the contact page or at [email protected]

Hi, I thought it was time to share some of my story, but the only way I can get it on the site is to post it as a comment. Not sure what I’m doing wrong.

Anyhow—it’s a tad long.

Diane’s Story–Drowning in the Shallow End of Recovery (okay it’s just a chapter)

It was less than two months since D-day. My spouse had begun to attend SA meetings. He was quite light-hearted these days, feeling proud of his first step toward sobriety. I was also proud of him, and very affirming whenever possible.

But strange things were happening—new strange things. My husband, who for the last thirty years consumed a glass of wine or a beer about once a week, was going through bottles of gin like water—kicking back doubles several times a night like he’d been doing it all his life.

At the beginning of our marriage I had told him about the alcoholism in my family, and that I could not be around people who were drunk or getting drunk. So, now, I reminded him of that and told him this new taste for hard liquor was really upsetting me, and made me feel even less safe in my own home, the same place he pursued his porn addiction. I reminded him that he had told me that many of the SA’s he met had multiple addictions, and asked if his new taste for double gin drinks was a smart idea. Wasn’t he just trading one medication for another?

Well—he stood up with extreme effort and exasperation all over his face. What was my problem now? He had gone to SA and I had no right to question his behavior. He was an adult and could drink anything he wanted. How dare I interfere? His program was none of my business and I wasn’t to question him. He didn’t  appreciated the inquisition in his own house, and made a point of taking a big drink while he said all this. I yelled back and pounded the counter with my fist, demanding that he consider my feelings.

In the weeks following, as he continued with therapy and SA meetings, the drinking stopped. But no apology.

Once we were invited to close friends birthday party held at a city restaurant. No one yet knew we were in crisis. My husband assumed we would go. I told him I couldn’t go and pretend I wasn’t devastated and traumatized, and I couldn’t watch him pretend that everything was just great, though I acknowledge that he was just better at deception than I was. He was incredulous. What was wrong with me? Was this going to affect every part of our life? Again, he was completely insensitive to my feelings and the stress I was under. He strutted about the house like a peacock deprived of its god-given right to open its tail. Occasionally he opened his hands out with some exasperation to tell me ‘I’m sober’.  I’m sober. What more do you want? I want you to think of how I am feeling. No chance. There are only one person’s feelings in this recovery story.

When he finally started to deal with his mother, who his therapist and sponsor had identified very early on as his emotional wife and object of worship, he told her we were now living apart. He shared their conversation with me, and how she began to jump in with criticizing me and blaming me (she figured it was now open season). I waited for him to tell me how this time he stopped her. But he didn’t. I set this before him as another example of their combined emotional abuse of me. Why was he telling me this? What was new in it for me? Nothing! He got angry. I was just never satisfied. What did I want him to do? I told him I wanted him to defend me, protect me, and shut her up. Well, he shook his head and turned away. He was just really tired of being wrong all the time. And I was a bitch. (he didn’t say I was, but I’m pretty sure it was in the air). He told me how hard he was trying. Really hard. He didn’t ‘appreciate’ being questioned about this conversation when he was (supposedly) really laying down the law with her. Again, he was completely blind to my feelings and I felt that my expectations were somehow right over the moon.

The secrecy of the ‘program’ was waved in my face regularly. My spouse loved his secret life of sexual acting out, and now he loved his secret life of meetings, anonymous friends, confidentiality etc. He would tell me that there were ‘famous people’  there, and people we knew from work—-but noooooo. I wasn’t allowed to know who they were—a point I was reminded of, even thought I never once asked who they were. Secrecy isn’t my drug of choice. But Secrecy IS a sexual drug for some SA’s, so the early stages of recovery give them a little something they like. Like an addict on meth. My guy’s pride and ego just couldn’t resist rubbing my face in it. And to think all this came from the recovery program itself. It was too good to be true for him. And it was all he had from his acting out that was still allowed. I named this for him once. He literally looked down his nose at me and told me not to criticize his program. I wasn’t his therapist. He didn’t  ‘appreciate’  it.

Later, when my husband and I decided to give his car to our boys, and buy a new used vehicle for him, I agreed to provide half the value of my six year old van toward the price of a vehicle. We agreed that something gas efficient would be good since we shared use of the van for any moving we had to do (which with kids in school is several times a year). When he used the van I used the car. So he decides to by a sexy six speed standard transmission sport coupe with sun roof and spoiler etc, that I can’t drive. I point that out. He ignores me and tells me he had it doing 75 and still had a gear left, and comes home with a mid-life crisis car. I freak. I happen to know (after the fact) that before the internet, he was cruising public lots and waiting areas looking for his turn-on template women and masturbating in the car while looking at them. This looks a lot like a trolling vehicle to me, and one that I can’t drive. He insists he didn’t know I told him I couldn’t drive it. And waves off my concerns about why he’s bought this more expensive and sexy care. He’s dismissive and doesn’t  ‘appreciate’ me suggesting it’s a cliché car. I’m shut out now. He’s exasperated again with my over-reacting. My feelings don’t matter. He doesn’t even offer to teach me how to drive it. I climb into my beast of burden van. Sigh.

This stuff and lots more like it went on in what I now call the ‘shallow end of recovery’.  They have their toes in and think they are swimming. Their awareness of their addiction is still so limited. They haven’t touched the hard part yet, but they are thrilled with themselves, expect constant praise, and gift us with tearful expressions of remorse that do not herald any new or better treatment of us. It’s just all about them. We don’t have a story, and when we suggest that we do, we are just bitches who won’t co-operate with their ‘recovery’ agenda. In the shallow end, they haven’t learned to put their head under yet—so their crazy self-centered and un-self-aware thinking process is undisturbed. That means they are still acting out just at levels they aren’t seeing. They are not fully conscious to their addictions.

That’s how SA’s end up launching ‘personal recovery sites’ on the internet, probably the universal place for SA’s to act out—and never notice the problem with that. That’s how they ‘don’t see’  what’s their own sites and act so hurt when you ask about ads for sex books and exotic women sites, and why they write down details of sexual experiences and dismiss our concern about that. How dare we?!!! They are in recovery!!!! And it’s really hard !!! We have no idea!!! Blahblahblah.

But they are in the shallow end of it. And they may never go deeper.

All the same, it’s important for all of us to remember that you can drown in two inches of water. We and they can drown in the shallow end of recovery. So if that’s where you are, you can do a few things to protect yourself. Get a personal flotation device and wear it all the time. Take life-saving certification so that you know how to deal with a drowning addict who has you in a death grip and will down you both. Or, get out of the shallow end.

For me, it meant getting out of the shallow end and watching recovery from poolside. It also meant going deeper with my own story and finding the challenges and healing of it. I could still cheer and support. But I didn’t have to pretend that he was swimming, just because his ego wanted me to.

It has gotten better with my husband’s program. He has apologized for several things, the car included. He is aware of how slowly awareness comes to the SA.

He’s dog paddling now, at least. And I am proud of him still. But I don’t know what will become of us. I’m just glad not to be drowning in the shallow end of recovery, and I hope none of you will.

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Responses

  1. That was so beautifully stated Diane–and very interesting as well. I didn’t find it long at all—I could read your beautiful prose for days!

    I have read before that it is very common for a sex addict to shift from one “substance”, (in this case— acting out type behaviors) to some other “self-medicating substance” such as alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, etc. And sometimes, these other addictions are already in place as the person is dealing with multiple addictions and has an addictive personality. It certainly makes sense, especially in the early stages when an addict hasn’t figured out yet, the root of his addiction and still seeks the same high in one form or another and finds a replacement substance. Perhaps, one therapy, for an addict might include figuring out healthier ways to feel good. (kinda obvious, huh?)

    I really love how you show us what good self care really looks like and how its possible to not get sucked down in the under tow of devastation. It sounds like your husband has made a lot of great gains as well, which is also quite encouraging and I hope that before long, he will learn to take that leap into the next level and truly be swimming along into a better, healthier life.

    Love,

    Lorraine

  2. I have a question. I just recently (2 weeks ago) found out my husband is a sex addict. He has apologized, confessed, sought out a psychiatrist, told a close guy friend for accountability, and seems to be making a big turn around. However…he is a musician. When I met him, I knew it would be in his life forever and that’s what I “signed up for”. He has been back in school (we have a 3 month old) since I found out I was pregnant so he hasn’t been doing much in the music scene. Well, the opportunity has arisen for his old band to start again. His accountability partner is the drummer. Should I encourage this as an outlet or be weary that it is a replacement of some addiction?

  3. And Diane…your strength and honesty humbles me. The visual of water made things so clear for me. I am learning so much from you ladies, its overwhelming. <3

  4. Hi Elise,
    I’m glad to hear your partner has taken some first steps toward sobriety. I’m hoping somewhere in that story of psychiatrist and accountability partner there is a recovery program.

    It’s hard to say anything for sure because we don’t know to much about him or the situation, but I’ll make some “maybe;s”.

    Maybe the music opportunity is one that keeps him linked to his accountability partner in his free time. That sounds like a good thing. If you think the environment of his music life is full of temptations, however, that’s more concern. How did his addiction work? Was it at home on internet, or out in strip clubs, for example?

    I think the main thing is to be sure he is in a program, going to meetings, and that his accountability partner is up to the task. Having said that, you can’t make him do those things, or control the partner, either. So maybe you both need to sit down and talk through making a “sobriety plan” that works for him and for you. Maybe his therapist will help you do that. And if you can get yourself a therapist, do that! You need support and care to begin your own quest for wholeness. Your pain through this whole thing matters, too.

    I hope that gives you a few more ways into a talk with your partner. Stay strong in this, Elise. Your instincts provide important information for you to build a good life.

    lots of light to you,
    D.

  5. He confessed to cheating with people we knew, hookers from craigslist, and porn and chatting. He said he only went to a strip club once and felt so disgusting and creepy that he never went back. The band wasn’t ever a bad thing. It’s actually a Christian band. I just worried, after reading your story, that he would drown himself in music instead. I just want whats best for both of us. And to help him however I can.
    I downloaded JoAnn’s boundaries book so that we can figure out where to start in all this mess and he is actually really excited to get started with it all.
    Can I just ask what made you decide to stay and try to work through it? I’ve seen so many of these women seperate from their husbands at least for a time (and most seems to be because the SA was refusing help). We have been married a little over a year and have a 3 month old and I told him that she is the only reason I haven’t already left. But that if he didn’t actively seek help and turn this all around, that I would leave without so much as a goodbye. I just want to make sure I am handling this the right way…if there is such a thing.

  6. HI again,
    Actually, we live apart. We used a tool called “healing separation agreement”. You can google it. We avoided lawyers which was a priority for us, but our sons are also older and in university so custody wasn’t a big issue. This tool can work if your partner is basically an ethical person in every other respect than SA, and if you are not secretly wishing you could push your partner down the stairs. The agreement lays out everything about finances, for example, but includes a big piece about the therapeutic goals we are working on in this period, how we will do it, what success will look like and when we will revisit the agreement. It spells out what contact we will have. For us that was one call a day, one social event a week (like dinner), and a day meeting if needed for family business reasons.

    We sold our house because we couldn’t afford to finance what became 4 households– the two of us in different places, our sons in two different places as well. I downsized to a small but homey townhouse. My husband has basement rooms in a house. We all sacrificed comforts and lifestyle, but I gained a safe place to live and he has no keys to it.

    We are now working on building a new healing separation aggreement that will begin with full disclosure, and recovery time after that, and if things go well, the steps we will take to try and move towards each other again. If everyting goes really well, I don’t expect anything earlier than Jan. 2011, interns of moving together in my towhouse. That will actually be 18 months since D-day and the end of marital intimacy (such as it was).

    I hope this helps.
    D.

  7. I know everyone is different…but would you suggest that over staying and working it through? What are the benefits of the seperation vs. staying (unless he continues to act out)?

  8. Oh Elise,
    these are hard questions. And what works for me just might not be right for you.

    Here’s some questions to ask yourself;
    Am I safe? Are my children safe? This question is about STD’s, about porn around the house, about any ongoing abuse from the SA–emotionally, physicially, sexually etc?, about the toll it takes for you to deal daily with his recovery or non-recovery journey. Get a therapist to help you with this question.

    Can I afford to live apart? How will the finances come together? Who can help me sit down and literally “do the math”? Do I need a lawyer?

    Does living apart for a while mean living apart forever? What religious, family, cultural taboos will I be challenging? How will I respond to criticism?

    What do it really want? not necessarily forever, but right now what would help me most? How do I get it for myself?

    As you work through these questions, Elise, it may be hard to take yourself really seriously. We are often so used to thinking of everyone else, that we try to solve their situations first. I fell into that trap myself. ONly when I stopped and dealt with what I needed and what I wanted in order to feel safe, heal and be happy some days, did my life begin to change.

    It’s really really important to allow your self to make some mistakes with this. The SA is making them all day long and all night long and has permission. We need to give ourselves permission to make a few mistakes as we move forward in a difficult situation, and to trust that the benevolent forces at world around us and within us can help us overcome those mistakes and keep moving forward. Expect to make some mistakes. And expect to be able to start again.

    love,
    D.

  9. Diane, I can so relate to your post and especially the part about your spouse being insensitive to you and your feelings. It’s almost as if you’re invisible.

    Your bang on about being self-centred even when they’ve started SA. My spouse happens to use the passive aggressive ‘sighing’ because I’m on his back all the time. I won’t put up with BS anymore and I call him on anything and everything.

    I also agree with your ideas about treatment groups and the secrecy that goes on. You’re right, the inappropriate behaviour went on in secrecy and now the group does the same thing. It’s not as if I want to know all the details; I don’t! But I believe there should be complete transparency in terms of how things are processing. And I’m not taking his word for it.

    I’m glad you were able to get out of the pool! Hugs for you.

  10. Thank you Diane. I am a sex addict and came to this site looking for help for my wife who asked me for resources. I see myself in your husband. And my wife in you. I think your observations are really important for spouses and addicts alike.

    I don’t know if you have considered alanon, but it can present some wonderful growing opportunities for the partner of an addict. you might even some day be thanking god that your husbands affliction could have made your own personal changes possible. just maybe.

  11. Toes in,

    Your first paragraph indicates that you have the beginnings of self-awareness. Bravo.

    Your second paragraph shows that for every step forward, there are two back. You are not in a very good position to be giving any kind of advice. The paragraph is condescending and patronizing. Focus on your own stuff first.

  12. Toes In,

    Oh my, Oh my, Oh my—picking my jaw up off the floor now.

    Your thoroughly insensitive, completely inappropriate remarks to our dear Diane make me wanna puke my breakfast…

    I see absolutely no resemblance in recovery to Diane’s husband; obviously, you have a death wish.

    Thank you for sending your wife here though. Hopefully, she will gain the knowledge and support she is seeking.

  13. Hi everyone,
    JoAnn, I think we are encountering some of the same kinds of problems that occur at co-ed 12 Step meetings, and we are setting our selves up to receive more of the shallow end stuff from SA’s who may be in recovery, but all of whom probably shouldn’t be on the internet at all. And I do find it very upsetting to have left my husband to get away from it, only to find it coming at me here. At the same time, I want to ensure that the gracious arena for multiple viewpoints, debate and sharing is preserved for us.

    Marian and Lorraine, Thanks for the back-up, what I hope we are learning is exactly what Marian described. We want to support Toes In’s first paragraph and his first steps toward self-awareness. And we want to help him see that he should stop there until he’s learn to blow bubbles.

    Toes-In—I will never be thanking anyone for my husband’s addiction. It destroyed me, it destroyed our family, it jeopardized our livelihood which we might still lose, it took my home, it killed my hopes and dreams of growing old and wise together, and it destroyed him—the love of my life, the father of my children, the best person I knew in this world, the one I trusted with everything precious.

    I, and I alone get credit for what I have made of his abuse. Although I have many people to thank—like my therapist and all the women on this site. But my husband gets no thanks.

    Stop trying to diminish what you did to your wife by imagining it will make her a better person. This is about growing up. As my husband’s therapist told him on his way out of his first session—“it’s fun being an adult, you should try it sometime.”

    D.

  14. Bravo Diane. Well said. I am so new to all of this, I really do look up to you women. Your strength and unwaivering support of each other gives me some sort of hope that, regardless of my husbands actions, I can find my own healing and my own desires can be met….with or without him.

  15. JoAnn,
    Even if we make the site ‘women only’, it won’t stop people like ToesIn. The only way, imo, to stop that from happening is to heavily guard the ‘door’, so to speak. So, any new person coming in can’t post until they are screened.
    Sounds like a lot of work and some will still come through. Besides, in the event there is a man whose wife is addicted, he could relate to what we are saying and I wouldn’t want to isolate him.

    You know, as I type that I feel so angry because I’m still paying attention to making everything fair…Grr.

    @Diane,
    You are welcome for the support. Any time. 🙂

  16. Hi everyone.I’m planning on posting my story soon and would like to add my two cents. This very much needed place of healing is called ‘married to a sex addict’, and I’d have thought that in order for it to be a safe place addicts shouldn’t be posting at all – only partners. I like the way Recovery Nation is organised, where addicts and partners don’t post on each other’s forum without invitation. The familiar narcissistic tone is one we’ve heard more than enough already and we shouldn’t need to defend ourselves against that attitude any more.

  17. Putting my new “two cents” in…
    This BS of labeling SA partners as being dysfunctional in some way just floors me. I’ve been a health care professional for 28 years and I would NEVER tell a rape victim to “thank God” that her her rapist’s behavior/”affliction” made “personal changes possible” for her…
    Do we “thank God” that Bernie Madoff, of Wall Street, swindled thousands of people out of their life savings/retirement funds because he conned them into trusting him and now they know the “folly” of trusting people?
    How about victims of identity theft…think they “thank God” ? Or the victims of pick-pockets, purse snatchers or muggers ?
    Nope. We are ALL *victims* of people for whom the behavior of taking advantage of others is a behavior *choice* they made.
    Due to the lack of honesty, and all addicts are magnificent at lying, we were never given the information by our partners that we needed to make our own informed choice…because if I had the slightest idea my husband would take the marital vows of monogamy with a grain of salt, I would have never even dated him in the first place. I’m sure many, if not all here, would say the same.

  18. Interesting and Important input!

    Is it possible to have two partner/spouse of SA blogs on one site—one for men and one for women, with clear instructions that unless JoAnn specifically invites cross-pollination, the women us one and the men use another? Okay–that was a long question. I guess what we might avoid is the cry baby male SA’s. If they post without permission, they get what they get.

    Marian, what you describe about trying to fair all the time—this was big hurdle for me to get over. But Sometimes what is fair is a priority for self-care. I didn’t move forward in my healing or my own power for change until I stopped trying to make everyone else ‘comfortable’ first. One day I just said “i have to do what’s best for me, here, because I can fix my own mistakes–its everyone else’s I can’t fix.” So I’m trying to wonder about how we would answer that question for ourselves about JoAnn’s question.

    I would say that a big priority on JoAnn’s site for me is still safety—from the abuse of the lying, the infantile analysis, the selfishness of the SA blame and arguments, the need for constant praise and adoration. Debate I can handle. Difference of opinion I can take. What I go nuts over is the patronizing and wilful ignorance of so-called professionals, and the attention seeking SA’s. But I don’t mind the so-called professionals posting, because then we have a real education opportunity. Many of us “just didn’t know” what our husband’s were doing and some counsellors “just don’t know” that there’s another model for therapy from which to choose.

    The safety to share the rawness of our pain, its ugliness and desparation without judgment or finger-wagging is crucial, especially while the therapeutic world undergoes the transformation of a new viewpoint on how to treat us. The first few posts I made when I was shell-shocked were such huge risks. It took me months to do it. And a few times, I thought I didn’t belong, but the great women held on to me and told me to breathe, and to wait and to trust they were safe.

    We make mistakes here, sometimes. But as I said earlier, we can fix our own mistakes here, too.

    peace all,
    D.

  19. Hey Lorraine,
    I just had to tell that I’ve been laughing for a few hours now at at your outrageous outrage, in all its wonderful clarity, and particularly when you asked TOES IN “Do you have a death wish?” I’m laughing because it just better than going crazy.

    And I’ve laughed for days over your “new word”, when you spoke of your “refuckenship” with your SA boyfriend. I think you should writing for Wanda Sykes.

    I just think these guys don’t know that survival humour for us is the truth stripped bare until all that’s left is wee willie winkie looking pretty small and limp, but decorated with tinsel for a big night on the internet.

    If we don’t laugh, we’ll never stop crying.

    love to all
    D.

  20. Oh thank you so much for sharing that with me, Diane. That really made my day! Thank God for laughter—and ballet and good gurl friends!

    Its so funny that you said “truth stripped bare”—cause for some reason, this very morning, an image popped into my mind (and don’t ask me why) where suddenly I saw a neked predator with all of his boy parts missing (!) and I have to tell you, that imagery, really helped, like nothing else has in two years, to release some of the pain that still lives inside me.

    I realized that without those parts, the parts he still loves to show off in their very aroused state (whooo hooo, he can get an erection—how clever is that!) for the WHOLE damn world to see on our esteemed Craig’s List—Instantaneously, without all of that, he became this impotent, neutered, feckless wimp of a predator—and therefore, lost all of his ability to hurt me or any other woman ever again.

    OMG! I turned him into Ken! 🙂

  21. Diane,
    Thank you for sharing your story, I could very much relate!

    I have been with my SA for over 10 years. In the early stages while in the shallow end, I found myself “lured” into believing more of his lies, manipulations and taunts of his new found ways and sobriety because he was going to meetings, seeing a therapist, finding a sponsor, etc. In reality, it was just another part of his life that he now used to create a facade about. He made everything seem better than it really was.

    I allowed myself to be manipulated by his partial truths. My role in the relationship seemed to be that I allowed myself to be manipulated and believed his hype was because I was reveling in my own fantasies…of him being sober and us living happily ever after. This was a big powerful fantasy to latch onto. So, in reality, my fantasies (not his) allowed me to make destructive choices and stay in the relationship.

    Ten years later, after decades of meetings, recovery, therapy, fellowship, etc. for both of us, I still question whether he has really “gotten it” or if I am allowing myself to be fooled by his outer recovery actions. I understood that it would be a “long road to recovery”, however, I did not really grasp what it meant in those early days, weeks and years! I do now. I believe that through his recovery he has also learned the “right things to say” to become even a greater manipulator….to appear empathetic by saying the right things and even asking questions For example, when he asks ‘what can I do to make things better”? The words at the surface and to onlooker would appear and sound like he is really trying to make things better but it is me who is being too cynical and not giving him a chance! Yet, I have learned to regain my sixth sense and it feels more like a script. I now listen to my intuition as it speaks to me more loudly than ever.

    There just seems to be this ongoing lack of genuine empathatic feeling. It still seems that “sorry” feels like it is his feelings..he got caught, is inconvenienced by the consequences, annoyed that he has to listen to me express my hurt and pain. I hear the words “sorry”, him repeating what I have said and then “what I can do to make it better!” Sometimes, I want to scream. Sometimes I wish our therapist had never taught us this new communication tool!

    So, the motions are “right” but there is something deeper beyond the surface that seems to be missing. Well, my fantasies of our relationship have evolved from simply wanting him to be sober, honest, validating, in recovery, feel close, etc… to having a genuine DEEP emotional connection. I sometimes believe the depth of the connection this SA is capable of, is similar to the “deep” connection someone has with their beloved dog, not spouse. I now truly believe I will only be able to experience this type of deep connection elsewhere or nowhere.

    With each new “revelation” comes a new choice. I must either decide to stay in the relationship and accept that the reality that although we may have a functioning and “close” relationship, I do not think that he is capable of a deep genuine continual emotional connection with me or anyone. I KNOW what this should “feel” like.

    I use to believe that we had this “connection” yet, it was my fantasy of him I was connected to. Of course, I felt connected to the charming, honest, funny, kind, caring, sensitive, secure guy….then I discovered the reality of the destructive, pathological liar, seductive, flirtatous, manipulative, insecure, cruel and self-centered man that was below the surface.

    He says he wants this deep connection more than anything (anything, really?) but I feel it is unrealistic for me to expect this. I feel that if I do believe this is possible, I am again buying into my powerful yet delusional fantasy of hope.

    So, even after over 10 years of working on ourselves and the relationship, blocked internet access at home and at work, 4 recovery meetings a week, weekly individual and couples therapy, step work, weekly recovery check-ins with each other, “transparent” honesty (really?), slips, relapses, starting over, regaining trust, getting closer, working on our relationship, restructuring our lives, making new boundaries, starting new projects together, etc, etc, etc..it still feels confusing and uncertain. It still sometimes seems as if I am with a child trapped in an adult body! Is it really worth all the effort?
    Thank you!

  22. Hi Diana,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. We all think we’re living different lives, and then when we tell our story of life with an SA, the similarities are creepy.

    I totally get the wondering if you’re just being set up again. I was thinking the very same thing last night and wrote about it in my journal. For me, as I’ve begun to know the dreadful abuse my husband endured from his mother, I also wonder whether if the damage is so extensive that his attachment to me is a survival thing. So he says and does what I need to believe that things are different. It’s kind of crazy-making, but not a completely crazy idea.

    The script thing is a kind of scary piece. But I have worked out some cues for myself—if I hear them I’m pretty sure he’s not really present to me as an adult or in authentic emotional presence. Any time he says things like the line you mentioned “”what can i do to make it better”—where the responsibility for mature response is given back to me, I’m sure he’s somewhere else. Literally, his heart isn’t in this. Other women have posted about these scripts as well. “what do you want me to do”, “Just tell me what you want” “I don’t know what to say”. They sound innocuous, but they are not. They are distancing themselves from the responsibility of emotional connection with you, and making an adult response.

    I do think some SA’s do just balance their life with the program, keeping it in check but not ever really over. They skip over the top of their trauma because it’s terrifying and they might completely shut down if they dived in. So it’s hard to judge in every way.

    It sounds like you’ve given ten years of hard commitment to his recovery in order to honour the man you loved, who is in there somewhere, and maybe even occasionally shows up. Heart-breaking. Will it ever be over? I don’t know. Some women here just get out and move on and that seems to work for them. Others can’t leave without giving it the old college try.

    In your post, for me, the clearest sense of pain and grief is not associated with the stupid acting out rhythm, but with the emotional loneliness. I identify with that too. That’s the deepest pain for me, and it’s hard to imagine growing old with someone like that. The only relief will be that with decreasing faculties, toddler behaviours will start to look normal. How tragic its that?

    I don’t understand hope at all. Just when I think I’ve see the last of it. It shows up completely without warning and does a little dance. I know I didn’t imagine it, didn’t will it, didn’t make it up. It just shows up. So when it does, I try to follow it. But it is never attached to any script at all. But now I wonder if the hope is not about my marriage, but about life in general.

    thanks Diana, for being a companion on this whole question. Keep yourself safe and healthy.
    D.

  23. Diane,
    Thank you for your response and insights. Your cues about whether you are relating to an adult who is authentically emotional present at a particular moment really clicked for me.

    Once again, I greatly appreciated your story and additional comments.
    Diana

  24. Diana,
    I am in awe of how you articulated the experience of “post behavior / accountability” of the SA awareness and behaviors that are valid, real and an another part of post traumatic managing that the partner of a SA must endure. It was so right on the money to the tee………… It is my experience, as the partner of a SA (soon to be divorced) of over 10 years, I am left with a new tool. A PHD in “how to detect projected blame” what it is to know when someone projects that blame, gaslights, manipulates, convinces the other they are justified in their reasonings and that they (the SA) try to deflect their own disgusting personal “self” responsibility in any way, shape or form. Pure yuk and I am so over.

    First, Diana, you are a brave amazing incredible soul who was willing to be courageous and let us into your personal pain and story. Thank you for your generosity.

    There are so many levels and paradigms to the world of Sex Addiction, some very similar behaviors, but boy oh boy don’t they show up in many ways the dire side of what this disease can do. Speaking of being married to a Level two predator, this is my reconciliation and I move through the healing process. You can find details should that interest you at http://blessing10.wordpress.com/.

    But I really am interested in leaving this post, acknowledging the amazing women sharing, their courage and strength has be imperative getting through this unfortunately shame by association related side of Sex Addiction.

    I also found the comments to affect me to some degree, first triggering (toe’s in remarks), then I was so proud of Marian response and really truly admired her last paragraph speaking what needed to be spoken in a pretty impactful, direct way. I found some remarks quite amusing when partners use their voice and be frank about not playing into the bullshit any more. And then a wow “ah moment.”

    Then I found this whole thing take a new turn, a new direction at just two paragraphs, words said by an Addict, a SEX ADDICT. I am sure he is a sick person just trying to get well, not a bad person trying to get good. But that really is the only valued statement I believe is worthy of my speaking.
    What I found incredible amazing about this thread is this:
    1) woman courageously shares her story, brave amazing and deserves acknowledgment praise, validity and honor.
    2) Nine post doing just that.
    3) One post from SA – words that were insensitive, deflecting, projecting on some level blame.
    4) More then 9 posts of the interactions, reactions caused by the SA words.
    5) Thus the point, of how the incapability of “self responsibility and accountability” can have the power to derail the entire point of the post sharing. Validating someone’s right their experience, their pains, their feelings, their view and their world of trauma caused by another’s individuals behavior that has NO, ZERO responsibility of anything other person especially the partner of a Sex Addict.

    This is in no way to diminish anything about this thread, it’s gold, turning lead into gold. Amazing how someone could deflect in such a way and cause this thread to take a “bit away” from the original post of Diana’s story.
    And of course this is just my view and perception, all the posts before, all the posts after are so necessary, they were awesome exactly as they should have been.
    And what is the lead we can turn into gold?
    Food for thought?
    I learned a ton and I am so grateful for finding this thread today.

    Sending all love and light…
    C

    First I was

  25. Thank you C,
    As you might have read on my earlier post today, I’m in hard place right now, so hearing some positive feedback to this original post is helpful.

    re: the journey of this thread.

    Yes, as soon as the SA posted, I knew we were going to have “the next example” of my whole point. But notice, I did not respond until others had raised their voices and spoken their truth into his noisy and irritating splash around the shallow end.

    Elsewhere we had been dealing with kind of “interruption” and I became “Toto”, pulling the curtain back on the great wizard, while he wildly turned meaningless dials and pulled useless levers saying “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain….I am Oz, the great and powerful Oz!” And it’s such a hard and scary thing to call their bluff, even anonymously. So I waited to see if someone else had gained the courage. I didn’t have to wait long, did I?

    This is why we persist in posting. We are finding our voice, and when someone robs us of it—we are all learning to take it back again. So, many threads are hijacked, and then recover. Much like our own recovery process.

    I’m glad you could see what we were doing. Nothing is incidental on this site. We are exposing the dynamics, and teaching each other how to find the way that belongs to each of us.

    I will be happy to follow your link. thanks so much for sharing a little of where you have been, and where you are going. Your story is precious. May you know the wisdom of the pearls—one is worth everything and you must have it, and the other is the one you should not throw before pigs.

    light with you always,
    D.

  26. HI again, C,

    I read your link, and will reread it again and again. I am getting closer to that, and thank you for coming along to hold out a gracious and guiding hand.

    3rd chakra–very helpful references.
    taking back myself—from the SA, others–great model
    participating in the diminishing process–yes, not co-dependency, but survival technique in the search for safety in a world not hospitable to women like me.
    I will get there, damn the torpedos (a completely unsuitable phrase)

    namaste,
    D.

  27. Hi Diana,

    Thank you for your kind words. I am not sure if you are on at JWC? I have more intimate posts there…….What is your handle if you are on JWC?

    I can see you have a great deal of strength, it sounds like you are doing everything you need to do to heal with your process….
    Sending you a ton of light, big giant hugs…
    C

  28. Hello C,
    I am not on JWC. This is the only site I post on. I’m a “one site woman”!

    For me, the ebb and flow of this site provides the rhythm that works for me. When the site is quiet, I do some inner work and focussed reflection on my feelings and thoughts. And I go back into some posts that I may need to read again. When the site is busy, I’m getting new inspiration, and a sense of community support, and am able to reach out to offer something or tell you I need something.

    I decided that “posting around” is not for me because it ends up being a distraction from doing the work I need to do. I do appreciate it when people send me to another site or posting to check something out. I always go and often benefit greatly, as I did from the link you sent. But I guess I’m not a social butterfly on or off the internet. I tend to search specifically for what I want, and then settle in. I also find JoAnn’s writing is some of the best, and her openness to many viewpoints is crucial for me. I shy away from the the agenda sites who apparently know “how to fix me” before they know me. Being invisible in my relationship with my SA is something I don’t want to experience on a website.

    My therapist is a lifeline of grace—gracious, challenging, compassionate, relentless. So I’ve put together my “team”, and it’s working for me. And I have to say being able to reach out and offer something to someone else throughout this terrible time has been one of the greatest gifts of this site. Whether I’m laughing with you, crying with you, arguing with you, or building you up, that’s when I receive the most.

    We all do this our own way and I celebrate that diversity and strength within women. We should go get what we need, and use it the way it works best for us. Trusting our own needs and wants is such a big part of our recovery.

    Maybe I’l branch out as this process unfolds, but for now, I’m home. (But I reread you link again yesterday–thanks!)

    D.

  29. Hi D,

    I am so trilled you are doing what you need to do to take care of YOU. Mucho important……………….This blog especially, is an excellent, much needed source.
    Whatever works, is exactly what is needed. I believe we are all guided and we are on our own continuous guided journey as we merge in blog world. All is well and perfect…..
    (On the JWC, my only purpose of asking if you were on there was: another resource that is strictly wives/partners of SA’s in the Group Sex Addict Codies, also another safe space to share about our experiences. There are many intimate sharing posts, helpful posts as well. Not always, but sometimes (myself included) and others may be less inclined to share as immediately on an open blog….)
    You seem to have great strength and courage as you work though the process on your healing journey.
    Sending a big hug,
    C

  30. About whether we should let SAs come and post here.

    I suggest we let them,

    Then our two great pillars of strength, Lorraine ANd Diane,can have a go at them and completely decimate and annihilate them !!!!

    And all of us would have a laugh at taht and in a way feel vindicated for all the things we didn’t , but wished we had, said to our SAs before we walked.

    Way to go guys.

  31. Diane,
    I just re-read your story. I read it months ago, when it was originally posted and it hit me then and still does. I must so in those two months nothing has changed with my SA. I have gotten to know your story more and more and can relate to the “toes in”. This is my fear, toes in only for the rest of my life. As Diana said and showed this could be toes in forever! If I stay that is. He is toes in now, and after 6 months lacks empathy and feeling.

    Like Diana said we knew or know we are in for a long haul – but how long?

  32. Thanks Flora,
    I also find I read things on this site more than once…It’s like you can keep peeling layers of everything, and still find new stuff to learn.

    The long haul—yes, this is the question for us. And I think it really is an individual question. So much depends on how long the addiction has been a part of the SA’s life. So much depends on how devastating and destructive the original childhood trauma was to his formation as a human being. There are just things that may not be manageable for us on a day to day basis.

    I’m am a great believer in setting some time goals for serious reflection on the state of recovery for the SA, and the therapeutic process around the original wound. It takes a while to get a clear picture of what you are actually dealing with. And we need to know before we make a commitment to stay or go.

    Many blessings on the tough road ahead for all,
    D.

  33. I just reread this too and you are so right! they forget we have a story or don’t even concieve it because they are self centered.

    You are also very right about being able to drown even in the shallow end. Even the little things he has done just kill me because it adds to the big picture of an overall selfish behavior.

    I read your posts Diane and get so much out of them. I value uour experience and hope I can make the right choice for myself and my family. I am trying not to rush anything and I couldn’t anyway (financially). The hardests part is what is right for me I know isn’t right for the kids. They haven’t been impacted by his behavior but they will be affected much more if I leave.

    I pray for peace and guidance but I really hope the guidance slaps me real hard because I can’t see through all of the haze right now. Thanks

  34. Hi Annie,

    I’m not sure that I agree with this:

    “what is right for me I know isn’t right for the kids.”

    Yes, while I definitely agree that ideally, a family should remain intact, and your husband might be a good father,(in some ways) there is nothing even close to ideal here. Child abuse is rampant and can take on many different forms, aside from the obvious ones of physical and verbal. A sex addict in active addiction is an inherently dysfunctional and therefore abusive individual within the family unit. There is an extremely high chance that at some point on their impressionable minds, they will discover, as did you, his nefarious activities–and worse. In addition, they are living with a man of shallow integrity– a liar, a cheater, and a very selfish individual. Is that the kind of role model that you would like to have for your children?

    One out of 5 people are victims of some kind of incest or inappropriate sexual actions of one family to another. My father used to casually leave his boxer fly open as he passed my bedroom door on the way to the bathroom. Just because you are not witnessing the abuse, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. If he’s f–king you over, there’s a strong possibility that he’s also abusing your children. Is that a risk that you’re willing to take?

    I don’t know how old your kids are now, but there are skilled therapists to deal with separations and plenty of books as well. My older son has tons of friends from divorced parents, and those are the best adjusted of the lot! He is now 20 and many of them are at prestigious universities and very happy and well-adjusted.

    There are no medals or awards given out for staying. As a matter of fact, when they are grown, I am sure that they will admire you greatly for having the strength and the courage to protect them and keep them safe from harm.

    I know that I do; I only wish that my mother had left my father 10 years earlier. At 54, I am still recovering from the abuse, and I think I always will.

    Sick dysfunctional families usually breed sick dysfunctional children. Your husband was almost assuredly the product of such a family, himself. Yes, its sad, but you are a parent now. Stop the cycle of abuse.

    Does anything I say ring true for your situation? I don’t know your particular circumstances, but I don’t see how they will benefit, in the long run from keeping the family intact.

    They will still have a father and if necessary, you can get a court order to have supervised visits in order to protect them. No child should be exposed to this kind of abuse.

    All the best,

    Lorraine

  35. Lorraine,
    You are absolutely right! You do that alot around here.

    Even having porn in the house can lead to an abusive situation. I have kids in the house from 3 to teens and I have the spectrum of ages. I have since thrown out all that I found. Its tough in the thick of it to read what is right and wrong. And then you listen to the SA saying “I am a good father, I love the kids”. So you give the benefit of the doubt. Beleive the SA when he says he only looked at porn in front of your 3 year old while in his care during the day two times (of course only admitting to the two times where I had proof). We beleive that they will not be exposed. But you are right as well as many writers that if we found out or found stuff, they probably have also. But this is just what you can see. I worry if he is looking at the children, giving the older girls a “creepy” vibe. I have discussed with them several times. But they say no. They would not tell me anyway. That is the hard part, they will not. They fear it will lead to the break up in the relationship and then it would be their fault. Even though it is not. They are just the messenger.

    I have had many thoughts about this situation. And I am not sure what to do myself. I have noted that living in a dysfunctional family rarely brings about well rounded kids. Myself included. I have often wondered how so many of these supposed self help book and books on sex addiction can condone the wife staying in the relationship when kids are invlolved to work through her issues. What about the kids. This is the same thing recommended for alchohal abuse. The more I know and read, you wonder how it is not recommended that the family split, while the addict recovers. To me this is the safest place for the children. It creates a safe haven for all.

  36. Hi friends,
    An interesting conversation…

    One of my observations of the 12 recovery program is that its goal of sobriety is set up and the ultimate value for anyone in relationship with an SA—wives, partners, children etc. When wives engage the codependent hook of this goal by calling themselves co-addicts and co-dependents who share responsibility for the addiction, they bring the children along too. Everyone gets sacrficed on the altar of the SA’s sobriety goal. Decisions, choices, directions for family life must be made in reference to its priority. Sobriety failures and relapse are shared responsibilities. This is appalling to me. The normaliizing of family relationships totally lived out in deference and in reference to the ADDICT is what is called the tyranny of the weak. Wives and children do not exist to prop up the recovering addict, but in this model that is exactly how these relationships are lived out.

    I also want to point out again, the SA’s who think they are good fathers may not be the best judge of that. They are relatively poor candidates for reliability in self-awareness, self-understanding—and this is ESPECIALLY true in matters around the appropriateness or “rightness” of their behaviour. What they WANT to believe about themselves is often just one more piece of their mythic identity—the one they use to criticize wives and children, justify their own acting out, etc.

    The safety of children is crucial. What are they learning from what’s going on in your house? About how men get to treat women? About mothers sacrificing what they might want and deserve in life in order to try and fix daddy who seems unfixable? About the porn they WILL discover? About human intimacy? About the role of being honest in a relationship?

    These are tough questions that we need to raising with each other and ourselves.

    love to all,
    Diane.

  37. Hi All–

    I was hoping to get some feedback on a sort of monkey wrench that was thrown at me today. SA (whom I am separting from but under same roof for now)is now looking into “sober houses” for a 3 week stay. Now, I still love and care. I want nothing more than the addiction managed, and the husband I once loved to get better, not have to divorce, heal. That is a want, or wish, not my reality. This is the guy who just got back from an addiction free for all in Brazil 1 mo ago.

    So, my point–Sober House? 3 week stay? It completely pisses me off. How much more can this guy interrupt our household or our finances for his addiction? whether he’s acting out or paying for a sober house it all money and time being drained for his addiction. What about ME???? We will again be having to hire someone to be at the wheel of his business so the household runs while he is “away getting well”. Barf. I think he just can’t handle life straight and needs to “check out.- again” This time under “getting sober.” How perfect. The finances are just beginning to get normalized, I am just beginning to feel stronger and not traumatized from Brazil, and now another disruption that is probably one big waste of time. There goes the money for my apt!! what about my F&*(&ng recovery !!! now it’s like, no SA we are not paying for your sober house because i need money for apt- my sober house. I look like selfish witch hindering him getting help. He spent $7000 in brazil total in 2.5 weeks. It has set us back so far. I can’t stand it.

    BTW – since he’s been back. Doesn’t leave home, sleeps a great deal and is just doing the bare minimum business wise. He said he is doing self detox. He lives in back end of house. I live in front. We talk and keep it friendly. He does not want me leaving. total denial re; divorce. I think it’s a ploy. Although he does seem like he is reaching out for some kind of help and said he doesn’t want to lose family. I dunno. It just pisses me off. comments?

  38. He spent $7000 on a vacation? And now he wants more money his way. Yeah, I’ve got a few comments.None of which are probably airable. 😉 Let’s suffice it to say that you have every single right to be pissed off. And that is an understatement!! If you don’t mind me saying, you need to insist on what you want or he’s just going to keep taking. Selfish Effing bastard. Sorry, that just spilled out. You are important. You deserve peace ahd recovery yourself. He had his time. Now it’s yours but you have to make it so. ok?
    PS. We women are so trained to look after everyone else; we need to look after us!!!

  39. Thank you. Lol. Sometimes we just need to hear how ridic. it is. I will stay in control of the money and make my future happen. 🙂 hugs

  40. Diane, thank you for your story. I am recently coming to terms with the fact that sex addixtion exists and that my husband is one. All the secrets and lies have been overwhelming. So had the projection and emotional abuse.

    Diana, I really understand the feeling of wnating a deep emotional connection and how with my husband, even before he started acting out (again) I felt that there was some invisible impenitrable wall. I just tried not to go there, or think about it too much. And your comments about having the fantasy of these great marriage really hit me in the gut. Often I thought we were happy. Before all this, all our friends and acquaitances had said we were the happiest couple they knew.

    It’s come to my attention that he wanted to catch me like in a butterfly net and pin me to his collection. I was an independent woman who had raised two children alone. When I met and married him, I trsuted him as I had no other man to support us financially (that is he, me and the two children we had togther).

    Following the birth of our second child together, I began tro see a dramatic shift in his personality and it was NOT positive. During that year, two of my dearest friends died suddenly, follwed shortly after by the death of my mother. My hands were full with raising children and my heart was full of grief. I also beca,me severly ill with a gastrointestinal problem that took months to resolve and was rather debiltating. I had always taken care of everything (except actually making the $). When I couldn’t give him the attention he had always gotten, SA’s treatmetn of me was terrible. the person I needed to be able to rely on the most became a great source of pain for me.

    I read all these blogs and I feel so supported. We are separated now and I have filed for divorce. I don’t want a divorce, but I CANNOT and WILL NOT be treated the way he treated me anymore.

    So, this is a good place for me to come and read about everyone’s ex[periences, strength, and hope. Perhaps, my hope for this relationship will finally perish and then I can move on. I certainly hope that something positive will come out of it for me: something spiritual, that money and dependance on other people cannot give me.

    I am seeing how strong we are and how compassion is not always soft and fluffy, but can be rough and ripping, like the surgeon’s knife cutting out a cancer.

    And Lorraine, sick humor saves me many times!
    Thanks ladies. I see Toes In didn’t have the courage to get the rest of his foot lobbed-off by returning to this site. lol!

  41. Wow, Flora! You said: It’s come to my attention that he wanted to catch me like in a butterfly net and pin me to his collection.

    That took my breath away. It’s just what I said to the SA when I first met him and saw his collection on the social networking sites. He denied it of course and said that they all flit around him, which is what he desperately needs to believe to keep his ego intact. He thinks he’s providing a service, instead of servicing himself, I’m sure of it. I think it’s called ego-dystonic, where the truth is so far from his self-image that he can’t even allow himself to know it.

    I don’t know everybody’s stories but it breaks my heart to see what some of you are going through, especially where there are children involved. The SA I knew told my daughter he loved her when she was 11 years old, but she knew that it wasn’t in the least bit loving to prefer letting her mother become suicidal to telling the truth about what he was doing. Hugs to everybody.

  42. Diane, I had to re-read your story because you have amazing strength! And I feel the questions you posted Oct 21 ’10, are so profound & scary for all our futures — and I don’t even have children ….
    “The safety of children is crucial. What are they learning from what’s going on in your house? About how men get to treat women? About mothers sacrificing what they might want and deserve in life in order to try and fix daddy who seems unfixable? About the porn they WILL discover? About human intimacy? About the role of being honest in a relationship?”

    35 years ago I sometimes felt like my family-of-origin “invented” dysfunctional: from my mother, I learned duty — from my father, I saw an “adult” who had temper-tantrums. Definitely didn’t learn anything about intimacy …

  43. Thank you Unwound,
    for letting me know these postings still have value. It is quite a coincidence that you focused on the “what we are teaching and what we learned” thing, because that’s one of the things I shared with my sons yesterday at the “disclosure” meeting.

    In my family my mother taught me to expect nothing from life. If I ever did share what I needed or wanted, I was humiliated or ignored. So when my SA told me he loved me, I thought I hit the jackpot. I expected nothing and had someone who actually loved me. I thought that if I never got another thing in life, I was still ahead. In my mind that relationship became the basis of this wonderful life that I never “expected” to have—a husband who loved me, two healthy children, a house we could afford, work that was fulfilling. Thirty years of much much laughter and music, of rewarding projects, a wonderful circle of friends, a deep intellectual connection between us that was brain intimacy, a medium sex life, shared interests in reading, art, activities, plans for the future. It was all more than I ever expected because I was taught to expect nothing. Then, with Discovery of sex addiction it all went “poof”. And I thought my mother was right. In the days afterward, I wanted to die and thought about killing myself. At night I couldn’t close my eyes because I thought he would come in the spare room to kill me, because in my mind that was all there was left for him to destroy. For the first two months, staying alive was a 24 hour job.

    When you’ve been taught to expect nothing from life, and the one thing you thought you had in spite of that terrible truth, is blown to bits….expecting to live seems even an extreme expectation from life.

    I told my boys that I wanted them to expect outrageous gifts from life. Then they would know never to accept ill treatment or abuse. Then they would know how to be resilient in loss and disappointment. Life would still have much to offer them. And in their darkest times, it would at least offer them life.

    This is such a difficult journey to be on. But I know that sitting with the pain and feeling every last fucking piece of it is the only way out. Face it down sisters. It will not kill us. It wants us to believe that it can, but it can’t. Sitting with the pain is the challenge that life will always win, if we let it. Life is stronger. The pain howls and screams and terrifies and mocks us—and then comes the moment when we see it is just a part of our life, it is not our whole life. Hope is born in that moment—not for what we wish we undo or change, but for the infinite value of our own life. There is the hope that some think I do not have because I do not keep “trying” to stay with my SA husband.

    I expect more from life now than I ever did. And that takes hope.

    love to all my sisters in pain,
    Diane.