I received this poignant story from D, a gay man who has suffered tremendous emotional trauma from the betrayal of his Sex Addict partner. As I read his story it struck me, once again, that this thing we call Sex Addiction touches us all with equal devastation whether we are young or old, straight or gay, rich or poor or whatever ethnic or national group we belong to.
Thank you D for sharing your story with us ~ JoAnn
I am a gay male who found the love of his life in July 2010. “M” stayed with me through some very horrible things in my life, and I was there for him for some real rough spots too. We laughed so much together, and we did so much together, and traveled, and cared for each other very much.
In 2011, we had a split that lasted a month, which came from a communication breakdown due to work-related long-distance stuff. I also was really suffering due to my job loss that same year. While we were apart, I went to visit him at his workplace to bring him some mail that had come to the place we had been living together in. I missed him. I wanted him back.
He took the mail from me and coughed. I asked if he was sick. He said he was. I told him that he had to come back to my apartment and that I would take care of him. I insisted. He said “Yes.” I nursed him but he got sicker and sicker and lost weight. His fever climbed. Gently, I asked him, “Were you with anyone while we were apart because I fear you are now converting to HIV.”
He lied so very well. “What? No. No honey, no,” he said to me, and I believed him. I had to beg him to go get an HIV test, and in fact I had to lie and say I had talked to a doctor about his symptoms.
So he did go. He came to me, broke down, and told me that he had lied. He was in fact with someone, one time, and he did not use protection. But I took him back because I loved him. He was younger than me. People make mistakes. Eventually, we moved in together and lived in a nice apartment for two years.
In December of 2013, I rented a cottage for us to have Christmas in. I was seriously considering proposing to my beloved at that time. But, on December 11th, I had gotten wonderful news about a project I was working on — a book — and I decided to make copies of it for friends. My CD drive does not work right, so I decided to use M’s. I had used his laptop before, no problem.
It was about 12 pm. Lovely day. We had been to a lovely Christmas party the night before. Things were looking up with my work, my book, his health, our finances. Things were good, things were fun, we had each other. He was a clean freak, I was a Klutz. He used to joke, “Can’t have nice things” whenever I would break something due to my klutziness.
At about 12:05 that lovely day, I opened the laptop to discover that M. had an active visible profile on a gay sex site that is one of the most raw and explicit sites out there. On the other side of the screen was his “Skype” window. At 7:42 the night before, as I was making my way home from the gym and M was cooking “turkey meatballs with a reduction sauce”, he was also about to set up a sex session with another man that he had lured in from his profile on the sex site.
I looked in his Skype contact book. Utter devastation. There were at least seven other men in his contact book, all with naked pictures and erotic names. I literally felt as if someone had shot a gun inside my chest. My chest literally reverberated. I was in a mild state, or maybe a regular state, of shock. Come to think of it, there really was nothing mild about it at all.
I confronted him about it, he said it was “fantasy”. I said there was nothing fantasy about it. This was real, these were real men, and one of the worst things was that he was VERBAL with them, they could hear him, tell him what to do, and vice versa, things that we said to each other when we made love. It was shattering.
I left him, found my own place, went on anti-anxiety medication after I found myself drinking too much (I was just attempting to medicate with whatever I could) and when I came back to M two weeks ago, I told him, “So have you talked to your therapist?” He said he had, and he agreed it was a “disorder”. I asked what he would do about it. He said his therapist had recommended a “Kindle” so that he would read more, and that M was required to talk once a week to his therapist, on the phone (M was traveling for work at the time).
I told M, “what about Sexual Compulsives Anonymous?” He just bristled at that, shrugged his shoulders, lips twitched. He was like a zombie, a frozen little boy who could not say anything, who could not bury himself in my arms and sob and sob and say “Im sorry, Im sorry”. No. He was just frozen. I had never seen him like this. The ice that came between us was the antithesis of the years of warmth we had. I mean, I still cannot believe it. This was the person who always asked for a “goodbye kiss” when he went off for the day. Cooked for me, cleaned, cared, helped my bury my cat of 11 years, loved me, always asked me “Are you okay?” Cared, loved. But he would NOT say yes to Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and worse — much much worse…
HE NEVER SAID TO ME THAT HE HAD STOPPED. He never showed me that the profile had come down. It never came down.
It still hasn’t. I have snooped since I left, and I can see that his list of “gentlemen callers” on Skype has grown in leaps and bounds. It’s so very very sad and ugly and awful.
I reached out to his best friend and told his best friend the truth, not to gossip or malign, but to seek help. For God’s sake, M has his personal SKYPE ADDRESS on his sex profile, there for ANYONE to see. There are no “membership requirements” for this sex site. All you need to be is 18. Period. The same address he uses to talk to his father. Unreal. But now I am demonized for reaching out to his best friend. How dare I violate his privacy, etc. I must not — must not beat myself up for doing the best I could here.
Nobody — nobody gives you a manual for this stuff when it hits you like a mac truck. Nobody can prepare anyone for this kind of shock. I NEVER expected him to only think of me when fantasizing or masturbating. I never expected him to not look at porn when he wants. I even said to him, “I look at porn but most of those actors are DEAD.” But this — this was — and it is still — too much. It’s too much. Real men on his laptop, in our apartment, in our lives, with the cat walking around, and me on my way home. What? NO.
So I am on my own, living with my cousin in his extra room. My life is all in boxes. Here I am, writing to you. That is my story, and you are welcome to share it. I guess I’m “taking a risk” here if M or one of his friends can recognize who I am, but why should I care about that? This is a serious disease, and it is why I reached out to his best friend. I thought that M needed help. I still do.I still get concerned for his safety, his mental health.
I wish there was a way to go back in time, to pretend this never happened, or to adjust my brain so that the shock just won’t be there…as in, maybe I can “live with this”, let him “do his thing”. But then that would just negate the journey of hell I’ve been through. This has been one of the roughest things I’ve ever dealt with, for M was the person I was going to propose to, and there has never been anyone like that for me, not ever.
I call in to COSA meetings now, and I also rely on Al Anon (I’ve been going for 18 years). And I have an amazing therapist who does “EMDR”. I am blessed. But this is still very very hard, for I miss the life I had, though…
the life I had, wasn’t really the life I had, was it?
p.s. He also lied to me and so I got the “staggered disclosure” of how long he had been on the site, what pictures he used, etc.
Thank you Joann. You rock for doing this work. “D”
I’m so sorry you had to go thru this. So many of us have. I found out about my partner exactly the same way you did – stumbling upon a pc and EXPLICIT material, dating sites, conversations, meet-up dates, etc. I, too, got the same response: I didn’t do it. Oh, wait, I did, but it was ALL just a fantasy. Bollox!
There’s nothing that resembles a fantasy when “contact” is made.
You described discovery perfectly: Like a gunshot to the chest. I still have trouble breathing…sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe.
You’re so not alone. Your life can only get better from here. You were a normal, trusting soul and that was your only part in this terrible nightmare. You are “normal”. M is not.
I’m so glad that you realized that you didn’t have a part in this, you didn’t participate in it, and you didn’t cause it. Therefor, you cannot fix it.
I know you miss the hopes, dreams, and the “lie” that was your life. I know that feeling too. But, please realize you were strong enough to get out of that relationship intact. Many are not so lucky.
Thank you for sharing your story and congrats on the book.
Thank you so much for each and every word of your comment, and for telling me that my life can only get better from here. I need to hear that. I still entertain fantasies of visiting his profile on the sex site and leaving him a message there that says “Tear down this profile. You don’t need it, you don’t need to be here, you don’t need to be doing this, you need help, you need love, you need me.” Something to that effect. And then I realize, THAT is truly the fantasy. He may never tear it down. He may end up on several sites. His compulsion only wants to grow. It wants to feed on his own pain, his pain that came from my discovery, his pain that came from me telling him I know he lied about how long he had been doing it. His pain + the behavior = the compulsion, over and over again. “D”
Thanks for sharing that painful story. I’m so sorry for all that you have been through. All I can say is that these SA’s are sick . Always remember you didn’t cause it and you can’t cure it. Please get a therapists that deals with trauma for yourself. I am 2 years out and I still have really bad days but it gets so much better. Try to put all the focus on yourself. None of this is your fault. Work on taking care of yourself mentally and physically. There is life after sex addiction. Hugs to you….
Aw D – gentle hugs to you. It will get better. It will.
You’re mourning the loss of your relationship and everything you’re feeling is normal.
I know alot of people made fun of Ms. Paltrow when she suggested a “conscious uncoupling” from her husband (I know I did), but after thinking about it…that is what we’re faced with in THIS situation, right? We have to consciously stop thinking like a couple. Sounds easy…but it’s not so easy when the heart is still speaking to the head.
You can do this. Do as Bev suggested and focus solely on YOU and whatever it is that makes you happy. With time will come new love.
As my very good friend told me, “They (the SAs) only know how YOU fell when someone does the exact same thing to THEM…if they’re capable of feeling at all.”
Be good to yourself.
I feel for you. It is so difficult to get any of this news, but the slow drip of information makes it even worse. You need lots of support. This disorder is devastating to all involved; my husband took it from porn, to sex sites, to hiring prostitutes…it escalates to much more if they can’t get a handle on it and get into serious recovery.
Take care of you right now!
Each of the words, in each of the comments, helps me so much. Today was a big messy day of grief. And even after the crying comes the after-pain in the chest, like a bunch of doctors reached in there to take out the bullet. I am sitting in a cafe, the rain is tenderly falling outside. I am focusing on my writing, on my work, and focusing on the support and comraderie felt here in JoAnn’s amazing space. Yes, the “slow drip of information”… And yes, I did NOT cause this. No way. It grew inside him like weeds, like untended moss, over the course of months and months and I can see it continues to grow. To think, not once after discovery, could he say to me, “It’s down! The profile is down. My Skype address book is clean and clear from the strangers. It’s all GONE.” He is truly powerless, as am I. Thank you Bev for talking about trauma. Yes indeed. I am getting help for myself. But man, this isn’t easy. Love to all. “D”
A piece I wrote today in the cafe. -“D”
The memories in my mind,
the pictures, images of love in its prime,
I looked at them once and broadly smiled,
but now I know what you were doing at the time.
Oh I know it never had anything to do with me,
your deceiving, your compulsion to be sleazy and free,
The way a wedding has nothing to do with a tsunami,
I know all that to be true, it has only to do with you.
So why can’t I love you, then, the way I once did?
The way it came so easily to love you,
like ice cream to a kid.
The comfort, the chemistry, the cuddles, the care.
The nights before sleep, stroking your hair.
The “everything will be okay for we have each other”
The unlikeliness that there would ever be another.
And the resistance to stray, just for today,
the feeling that everything was truly okay
But you were not okay. No way.
You could not keep your compulsion at bay.
A compulsion to act out on urges that blind
You crossed the line.
I lost my mind.
I hurt you in return
I made you burn
And then I felt bad
for making you mad
So I said I was sorry
But you didn’t care
It’s easier to make a villain
of the one who plays fair.
I stumble around now, in shock.
Into a sticky dew
Went the love I knew.
From green to black we went
From life to Space our love was sent.
This strange dusty no-place
This meeting of strangers,
You are more intimate now
in the place of your dangers.
The men who meet you now
In your internet room
I wonder if they know
They were harbingers of doom.
Compulsion to abandon,
Disregard to disrespect
And now the anger inside you
That you continue to deflect…
When does it end?
Or has it already ended?
Our steady stream of dependable light
Has been so warped and bended.
And there in front of my eyes
are the memories in my mind,
the pictures, images of love in its prime,
Oh how I looked at them once and broadly smiled!
but now I know what you were doing at the time.
But now I know
And though it had never had anything to do with me,
I just can’t separate it
from the you and the me.
-June 3rd, 2014
That is so beautiful D, and it strikes right to the core of what we feel.
The trauma that we feel is primarily due to our world being wiped out, just as a tsunami wipes out entire towns. What we knew never was. All of our past has to be rewritten. Memories are now tainted with what we know. Events, holidays, anniversaries, all our good memories that used to make us smile are all gone because of what we know.
It took only minutes to wipe out our entire past with our partner, and it will take more than a lifetime to rewrite it with what we know. ~ JoAnn
Thank you, JoAnn. It helps in my process to read it again from time to time. Hugs, D
Thank you for your words, my heart goes out to you.
I like you have been in a relationship for three years, and although some alarm bells had sounded, I just wasn’t ready to believe my thoughts and preferred to believe the words I was being fed.
He was constantly saying things like I was the love of his life, he had waited all his life for someone as beautiful as me, he could not wait to marry me because he knew he never wanted anyone else in his life ever.
The signs were all there for me to see but I ignored them because of my love for him.
Constantly checking on my fidelity, lots of control issues about who I saw and when, constant need to know where I was etc, I saw this as care and consideration, when in fact it was his desire to be free to do what he had to do without fear of being caught.
Like you I am left questioning the whole three years, every meal out, every anniversary, every act of kindness, which was the real him.
Then like you I realised they are both the real him, I just didn’t know both sides because he valued our love and life but he either couldn’t trust me enough, felt too insecure without validation elsewhere, or was just addicted to one off hook ups even if they meant nothing and ultimately knew it could lose the love he wanted to protect so much.
I only found this out Monday this week, and I know I am feeling very raw, I am still in the can’t believe it faze, but I have already come to terms with how can I love this man when I only knew one half of him.
I suspect like all SA, he is unwilling to accept any responsibility and although he must be feeling the pain as I have withdrawn my self to protect and heal, his anger at me is huge. I wonder if any SA ever allow themselves to feel responsible for their own hurt and loss, or whether it always stays as anger (why did you leave me question)
I miss my partner so much, and I would do anything to have him back, but I also know I should not love him as he is damaged and I am trying my hardest to get away and stay away.
I just wanted to say thank you for your words, it helped me understand I couldn’t have done any more, this wasn’t about me it was about him.
I just hope this pain hurt and confusion will go soon, I know I won’t get any help from him to heal and it’s only me that can do that.
Thank you and good luck in your search for happiness.
I’m so very sorry it took me almost a year to reply to you. The truth is I just hadn’t checked in to this site in quite some time. Today is very difficult for me after the massacre in Orlando. I’m vulnerable because I have been hoping I might get a text from “M”, just to see how I am doing. I’m also very sick with a cold and though I rarely get sick, I find myself always emotionally vulnerable when I am. And like you, I moved on in my life, got away from him, but of course the pain is still there and, like today, sometimes the longing is as well. It is very hard to just stop loving someone, isn’t it? I hope that you will get to read this comment/reply. I am with you in brotherhood and fellowship. “D”
Hello D. I am a new spouse of a SA. Your initial share of the horrendous ordeal M was casting and hurting you immediately caught my attention today as I, have just been dealt a nearly identical hurt by my soon to be ex-husband. We’ve been together just over 11 years and married for just short of our four year anniversary in July. His SA was hidden so deep and well from me; and, I have retraced my memories and details of how I didn’t pick up on his constant deflection of anger at me…and his shallow manipulative means of getting me to tear myself down for his pleasure. Your more recent poem was also so helpful for me today as your words and rhythm was/is exactly how I am feeling right now. I have a hard journey ahead of me as I write this, but knowing others are there and having been able to share are gifts to those like me who believe the unlikeliness that there would ever be another. I hope you are now strong and receiving all the love you have and deserve.