Unhappy Anniversary

I am feeling weepy all day. It’s the one year anniversary of the moment I realized my husband was addicted to internet porn. It was the second time I’d found it on a computer in our house, but the first time I found it I had no idea it was his addiction. The first time had been loud and angry and disgusted and ultimatum time. After ten days of his apologies and explanations, his going to a counselor, clearing out all the computers but mine, and me wrestling with the consequences of separating, I had given him another chance. A year ago today, that chance was over.

The second discovery was made after the words “sex addict” had been introduced into the news, talk shows, newspapers and magazines. The first discovery had come at a time I never even imagined those words. Now they are an everyday occurrence in my thinking, my speaking and my writing. I hate that.

For the first 10 months I cried. All the time. Every night. Sometimes all night. In the store. In the car. In my office. At the dentist. You name it. I cried there. I sobbed. I wailed. Then one night, instead of crying for me, I cried for one of the woman on this site. After that, the crying seemed to ease up a little.

In the year since, I have lost our family home, our family times, my partner in life, my thirty years of memories that now live as shadowed scenes in a life that was only real to me and our sons. We were props. My dreams of our retirement future on a small acreage (already purchased with great hope and excitement) are gone. The few friends who know have fractured loyalties. The ones who don’t know yet represent all the hard revealings yet to be made. Our sons are sad but don’t know the worst of it yet. I worry about the old water heater and worn tires and how I will replace them. My nearly ninety mother has been broken with sorrow over our separation, but I can’t tell her why, because it just seems unfair to ask her to carry that ugliness around in her head for what are her final years. It’s just not right. As a result, though, she regularly scolds me for being so harsh on my husband, urging forgiveness and telling me how my money problems would be eased if I just let him come home.

Our jobs are very public, and while I would likely keep mine, he would surely lose his if his addiction were uncovered, even though he has not brought it into the work place. If he lost his job I would then have to finance four households on my non-profit salary (my sons are in college) and the numbers just will not co-operate. So I have to keep the secret at least until they are through school, and longer if I don’t want to pay his way.

I hurt all over inside me. I hurt because my intimate touch had no effect on my husband. He was so de-sensitized to a real live human being, that I never had a chance. My arms were never going to be strong enough to stimulate him. My natural body was never going to be positioned perfectly for his pleasure. My mutuality was never going to follow the script of his selfishness. I realize I have felt invisible for a long long time. And my sexuality drained out of me.

My head hurts sometimes because it’s so hard to know if I loved someone who actually existed, or if I loved an actor all these years. Then I’m told by SANON and COSA that my husband won’t get better unless I confess that I contributed to his addiction, and am a co-addict. And I’m told that I can’t know anything about his 12-step program, but I’m supposed to buy in anyway and “trust”. I can’t quite get that part. It seems to me that the only person who has earned any trust is me. I’m pretty sure he should be taking all the risks here, not me. But then I’m just the wife, what do I know? All those SA’s in the club—they really know sooooo much more. His therapist’s only interest in me is to find the codependent traits so she can vindicate her theory. Since I won’t play along, I’m invisible now to her as well. He defends it all in a way he never defended me in all the years of his mother’s insults and interference. The same mother who committed emotional incest with my husband, physically and spiritually abusing him as well. And that’s the therapist’s conclusion, not mine.

It looks like he has a new community now, but the same tyranny. I wish he would just be his own hero. I know I’ve learned to become mine.

A few weeks ago I mentioned the Marc Cohn song “Looking for one safe place”. What I’ve learned is that I have to be my own safe place. I take that with me wherever I go. It’s my job to keep myself from danger, decide when a risk is worth it, and defend my worth when others treat me like props in their addictions, or props in their addiction recovery.

All in all, it’s been a very very difficult year. And from time to time I remember what I lost and cry all over again. But I also count many great things that have come into my life, including the astounding women who meet on this site, the great JoAnn who runs it, the confidence I’ve gained in each step of independence, the clarity I have about who I need to please in life, the strength to expose lies and take on therapeutic garbage, but most of all I have the great gift of sanctuary that is me, myself and I. From that one, safe place I have been able to be far more generous than I ever was in this world.

I believe there are other ways to learn these things. I didn’t “have to” experience the hell of what my husband did to me and our life. I just did experience it, and this is what I have made of it, because that is who I am.

So I made it through my first year. You will too. Because that is who you are.

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36 Responses

  1. Bravo Diane!! (You write really well I might add). Your sorrows have come to pass as you make new for yourself. I struggle with the therapist thing as well, my therapist keeps trying to make me a co-dependent and his therapist wants to use me as a pawn in his recovery. Neither work for me of course, still stuck. I am 7 months in, can’t believe it has been that long. Don’t feel any better off now than I did then, but I hope to make some changes soon for me and the family. Your story is inspiring and I learn with every word you write. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Grief is an odd sort of friend. Sometimes it feels like he won’t stop hanging around even when you’ve had enough but he knows we need to grieve for all that we’ve lost. Grief is what marks our losses, like the crosses I sometimes see on the side of the road to commemorate someone who died at that spot. We’ve lost much.

    At the same time, I see your outrage at the way you’re being made a pawn at the COSA/SANON groups. His recovery is HIS problem. Nothing you can do or say, including agreeing to nonsense about being co-dependent, will change that. I don’t go to meetings. I have no energy to fight their sick thinking. THEY are being co-dependent by insisting you HAVE to ‘admit’ anything. Save your energy for the important battles, imo.

    I can see your strength beyond the tears. I see your resounding belief that you’ve done the right thing and that ultimately all we have is ourselves. You go, girl!! There’s nowhere to go but up from here. Those tears can be a way to keep you moving along the river to where you want to be.

  3. Diane,

    Thank you for sharing all of this. It is amazing, but it also one year— well, tomorrow morning precisely since I told Predator’s partner what he was up to.

    I’d like to make a couple of comments, if I may, however. First of all, the therapist is a turd. And what prey tell could her “theory” possibly be??????? That’s rich. A co-dependent looks the other way, or actually goes along with the acting out, out of fear. A co-dependent ENABLES the addict because they are afraid of LOSING the addict.

    I have co-dependent tendencies, not you. How very hurtful that must be to hear that crap from that so-called professional.

    I’d also like to say something about your mom. My mom is going to be 88 in 3 weeks and yes, she’s a shrink, and I don’t know what your relationship is with your mom, but I tell my mom just about everything and most of the time, it helps and brings us closer together. You say that your mom is ALREADY “broken with sorrow.” I was just thinking that perhaps, sometime— maybe it would give you each a bit of peace, in actuality, to confide in her, the truth— the real reason behind your separation. I have a feeling that she may surprise you with a healing, kind, understanding hand and heart, and she may even confide in you a story or two, that you did not know… all these years. Its just a thought, because it is already a very painful situation. I don’t think that telling her will make it any worse. Don’t be afraid. Yes, its not fair, but if she’s made it to 90, believe me, she’s had more than her share of life’s unfairness. She will stand by you— I am positive and she will be proud of you for the beautiful woman that you are.

    Diane, it is NOT your fault. You did nothing wrong. You are a beautiful loving, caring, nurturing fantastic woman. You are enduring a horrible ordeal that no woman should ever have to face. You’re an inspiration to the rest of us, in your dealing with this devastation with the utmost in class, beauty, and elegant grace.



  4. Dear Diane,

    Thank you for sharing your story and your gutsy move to independence and health. Bravo. I have been thinking lately, if I choose to leave because SA reverts to past behaviors, I can walk away proud as a wife who tried to stick it out and work through an un-imaginable insane situation. You did too. Perhaps I can be proud of trying to be the best mother I can be, with or without him. Perhaps someone else will appreciate ONE HELL OF A STELLAR WIFE/WOMAN-I.E – ALL OF US ON THIS SITE!! There is no failure in trying to be loving spouses to those impossible to love. Love needs discipline and boundaries. If our relationship fails becaouse of another’s unwillingness to abide by simple rules, welp, at the end of the day, they lose, we gain. What do they gain when we leave?, their addiction – porn, whores, etc? what an empty unhealthy existance. Let him have it. Let his stupid mother live in denial- I am sure she has damaged him anyway-talk about failure as a parent- she released a monster into the world. Sorry to sound so gruff, be she sounds like one giant pain in the ass and so does he. The home thing? What is a house anyway? just four walls. our hearts – irreplaceable. Keep moving on the road to health–it gives me hope. 🙂

  5. Beautifully written Diane. I get very disgusted when I hear about the way in which therapists spin their web of our “role” in this disease. In fact, I was meeting with a new therapist this morning and we discussed this very thing. While so much of the S-anon or al-anon programs are of great help, there are parts of both that actually steal our souls. Bottom line is that my husband and so many others have lied day after day. They have give us not one reason to trust. I learned today that I have been protecting the “child” in me for 27 years. I really did not know I was doing this, but it all makes sense. When I met my husband, boyfriend at the time, I was 15- soon to be 16. He filled a huge whole in me that I had not received as a little girl. My mom was not nuturing and the only time we received her love was if we were sick with the flu or we were bleeding from a fall or accident. So when this boy came into my life, and ADORED ME . . . I never wanted to lose that feeling. So time after time, and lie after lie, year after year, the little girl of 15, would take him back. Now I have to protect her. I have to see and think of this little girl as someone who is very fragile. Putting her in the hands of my husband, is like sending a child out in a horrid winter storm without a coat. Or Placing a new born baby into the hands of someone with no experience. It is dangerous and I have been putting this girl in harms way. I need to learn how to act out of my rational adult and protect my child. Having said that, I also know that I do not want to loose her. The child in me is fun, sassy, playful and creative. She is a singer, dancer, actress, and she is funny. I just need to make sure she is protected, Diane, it sounds like you are doing this.
    I am scared of my financial future, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details!!!!! If I let that stop me from moving forward with a divorce, I will once again, be putting my child in harms way. I know deep down inside, the rational adult, will not go with out food and shelter. And even if that does happen and I am scraping to earn a living, who give a shit. I will have my dignity back and a safe little girl I never knew.

  6. Thank you all for reading and reflecting and sharing your responses.

    Zachette, I like your take on finding the child within. I have also been recovering the freedom of that. Slowly but Steadily. I’ll never be an extrovert, but I have more joy in my life without my husband than I had with him. And I celebrate that.

    Pam, I named his mother as a sick problem in his life and our life FROM THE BEGINNING (a little less pointedly, however). It only lead to people leaping to her defense and others trying to take me aside to tell me what was wrong with me. But there’s no joy in being right about something so terrible wrong. I burned things from her in the fireplace before moving out of that house.

    Lorraine, thank you for naming what is rambling around inside me about my mother—could she really be strong enough to know the story? I will stay open to that possibility. We are telling our sons about the addiction in a few weeks. I will see how that goes. I find I can only handle truth-telling in small doses.

    Marian, you words on grief ring so true. And one new grief seems to call up the old ones, doesn’t it? But my sorrow now comes differently. Still some tears, but also with acceptance. It is what it is. And now I must live an abundant life because I truly can. But it is hard to “look away” when I’m not sure his program is what it needs to be. But then, my goals for recovery included our relationship being made new and wholeness possible for the future. The goals of his program are for sobriety and me surrendering other goals to the an SA centred agenda—mutuality is not a part of this therapeutic journey. This is where I freak out. I believe this model perpetuates the emotional immaturity of SA’s and asks us to play along.

    Flora, I hope at this stage you will hear what I said at the end. You will make it–because of who you are. These months are for you recovering your own power, and learning how to make use of it for life-affirming purposes. There is NO SHORTCUT, but there is the certainty that you are still “in there” and you will get yourself where you need to be. Godspeed.

    with you all on this path,

  7. Diane,
    I want you to know that the emotions and the experiences that you have shared on this blog have helped me so much since I discovered this site. I know, without having met you in person, that you are kind and generous and beautiful. I am thinking about you, and sending positive thoughts on your journey.

  8. Diane,

    I can really relate to your post. My first year after discovering my husband’s addiction was pure torment. And you are both an amazing writer and (clearly) a powerful woman.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Sam W

  9. Diane,
    My thoughts are with you,your courage and emotions show in this and all your posts. Please give yourself the gift of time for this is one thing that we all need to give ourselves

  10. I just wanted to add a thought. Besides the anniversary of discovery, I am having a 27th wedding anniversary on October 9.
    I can remember after discovery, searching the card aisles, reading card after card and crying since no card could convey the message I wanted to share with my husband. After the pain wore off and we both got into therapy and 12-step meetings, I was able to go to a card shop and find “the perfect” written message. Also, I was able to add to those pre-fab messges with my own thoughts and feelings. Sadly, the upcoming anniversary will come and go with out a card, and blank with sentimental feelings written inside. The little girl in me is hurting about that and I am holding back the tears as I type this.
    Just needed to share that ladies.

  11. Diane,
    While I hear you have struggled, you sound like you are really attuned to your situation and are able to look at it with some objective clarity. I hope to find that myself someday….it peeks out here and there but is hard to hold on to. You have inspired me too. I know should i ever leave it would be very hard but it is such a good reminder that I certainly wouldn’t be the first. You are so smart and brave.

    My husband is supposed to have me signed some aggreement that I am aware of what he has done and will be a support for him. I told his therapist that I am not sure how good of a support I can be. I am too angry. If he reached out to me to get help to avoid an urge I would just be angry and frustrated and lash out at him. I want him to work on this but I feel like I need to detach from it. I feel guilty enough that I am even still here.

    As far as telling your mom, I agree, she may surprise you. I told my mom when it happened 11 years ago and she surprised me. I expected anger and judgement and instead received empathy and pbjective without getting too involved. (Mind you I have not told her about this latest acting out now and probably won’t….out of my own shame for staying)
    Thank you again. Your contributions are always so helpful. My best to you! 🙂

  12. thank you sisters,
    for taking the time to respond and sometimes to share bits of your story as it bounced out of mine.

    re: anniversaries
    Last year was my 30th wedding anniversary and although I have never been one to worry of dates, last year I was a puddle all anniversary week. I sent a cry for help to JoAnn, and her loving support got me through. So, sometimes things that didn’t used to be “big” become “big” after this SA trauma. Just be aware and try to “soften” that week in terms of hard things to do and some fun things to do, a little friendly outing maybe, a movie or, like me, a trip to the library.

    re:courage/strength etc.
    I’m just like you. that’s the point of my post. Every single step I took trusting my strength and courage, it doubled. That’s what I really want my sisters on this site to understand. There is a greatness within us that is there not just for others, but for us. Now is the time to let it out, and let it guide us. don’t worry about making mistakes. We worry too much about that as if our SA have an infinite number they are allowed, but we don’t get any. NOT SO! Make all the mistakes you want, and you’ll find they aren’t that many at all.

    re:Annies agreement
    I think you need to add “in so far as my well-being is not compromised” to the part where you sign on to support you spouse’s recovery. This is REALLY an important statement to make about who you are, and who you will no longer be. It also gets right to something I and others have talked about here—the unbelievable SA self-centredness of the recovery programs (it matches the self-centredness of the addiction) . He and the therapist have to know that you are not playing that game anymore. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING that diminishes you, or suggests you will allow diminishing needs to to clarified. Best hopes for you and for him, but be wise on this.

    the journey is soo so messy. But what happens to how you feel, if just for one moment, you can believe you have a greatness meant to serve you right now? What might you dare to think, to believe, to do?

  13. Diane,
    Sorry I did not get much time to write much yesterday. My job always gets in the way 😉 I find I try to check this site often so I don’t miss anything. It has been the most helpful resource thus far! There is so much I would comment about in your post that hits home if I had the time.

    With the discussion of telling your mom. Is it possible to test the waters. Or try an approach by maybe asking her if she wants to know why? She may surprise you. (that would be something my therapist would say). Open the door, ask her if she wants to know. It is unfair for you to take the blame and torture over his actions.

    I fell for the kind man I perceived on the outside, but whats on the inside does not match. Too bad it takes so long figure this out. They are so good at hiding it. And this goes back to your comments about how we were props in his game. The deception of his lies and lack of truth and consideration for others is mind boggling. The question comes up in my mind often is “Who does this?” but now is the bigger question “who stays with someone who does this?”. If they are willing to change and get better I understand the need to give them a chance I would. But then comes the even bigger question… in a household with kids what are we presenting to them in our relationship as what is exceptable behavior…what are we potentially exposing them to by living in a household with an addict and constant worry they they will be exposed to porn or worse?? You did the right thing!

    While the road has been tough for you Diane i think you made the right choice for you and your kids. Now you are just ironing out the wrinkles, but all will get better. It;s good to cry and feel, atleast you know you are alive and not dead inside and lack of emotion. Like you said this is messy. We just have to sort it out on our own and decide what is best for us… not our SA. I think you have done that!

  14. Diane-Thank you! That is wonderful advice. I am struggling with saving my well-being. Your statment is well put and I will convey it that way on the agreement.

  15. I think this has just been a hard week for several of the women on this site. I am so grateful we can understand those hard moments, tough choices, and sometimes sad outcomes.

    It’s important for us to be honest about the toll this addiction takes on us all the way along, from discovery, through SA recovery drama, through our own recovery challenges, to what we end up doing with the relationship and how we move through every year with its memory moments.

    We are breaking new ground together. let’s never forget how important this groundwork will be for those come after and and find the footprints we didn’t have ourselves.

    blessings all,

  16. Okay, I have an idea,

    Would it be helpful for us to share some of the positive steps/shifts/experiences that we have had in our lives? Just one or two, maybe.

    I’m thinking simple things—like that flash of clear thinking I sometimes get, when I can see through the sticky threads of emotional enmeshment with my SA, and understand clearly that I can not give my life to him anymore. It’s sad, yes, but also strengthening the trust I have in myself. It helps me to make the hard decisions and set the boundaries and maintain them.

    Or, maybe the moment your children tell you they trust you, or show you they can still have fun in the midst of so much that is changing.

    Or, what about the thing that turns out to be really funny, even thought it’s surrounded by the rubble of what we’ve lost.

    I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about. It’s just that we see to develop the “eyes” to see the light that is coming to us. If we share those little moments of grace, maybe it will help us all learn to see better—-and fewer weepy days?

    tell us what helps you along the way.

  17. Diane, thanks again for sharing.
    I think working on defining my values has been fruitful. While I do know my values pretty readily, something about putting them down in sentences and making a plan for how I would take action on each caused a shift. I felt more independent. I felt like I had this whole life that was separate from him, even though so much is entwined. I saw I had enough to be enough, to be happy, to build on, without him.

    Now, when I’m with him (or even when I’m not), I feel separate. When things are good or bad with him, I feel separate and I know I will be okay. I’m back in touch with who I am. And I can see now that I can choose to not ride this out with him at any time.

  18. Yeah Mayam!
    I know that feeling too. It’s great to reach that moment–even if it leaves again–when you can see you will be enough and you can be happy without him. As long as you’ve seen it once, you can see it again, and you can believe it is there.

    Writer Anne Lamott says “enough is an inside job”. So I guess you can cross that one of the “to do” list, Mayam

    And clarifying your values=—a big YES. I was just speaking with a woman today about this in her marriage. The gap in shared values became a gulf. Something of “value” is bound to fall in. Expressing or re-expressing them provides direction for the decisions and choices. Good stuff!!!

    Come on women…I know you have some gems of positive energy to give to each other. And we all need to hear what you’ve found. It will help us to believe it when we find it. It will help us to know what it might look like and feel like.

    There’s power in all the signs of new life and renewed life.

    love you all,

  19. Dear Diane,

    Thanks for your positive thoughts and pieces of light. Perhaps in this process, these shared moments of clarity we gain from one another are like lanterns that light our way in the midst of all of our SA hell/darkness. I think if all the lights went on at once, the clarity would kill me. I can only process all of this in smaller, steady doses as I travel toward health and recovery.

    Today my lantern is lit with: building security. yes, security. Feeling Secure in my decisons, in building my own healing / health/ happiness regardless of what SA does / does not do. Staying or going is perhaps not the biggest question I thought it was. What is the most important, is that I can be a healthy, happy, woman/mother, over the long term, in whichever living scenario that I decide that I am okay with. It feels empowering to me to approach it this way, 🙂 Today is a good day.

  20. One thought I have on this topic of staying together …. and you would be happy either way. I understand that you can rebuild yourself and your life no matter the outcome. That is true. The thing that I can’t understand is spending more years (could be many many years) spending more time in a relationship that could be done or gone at any given moment. That once that bottom line boundary is crossed or crossed for the last time its over. (whatever the bottom line boundary is, prostitutes, porn etc.) There is not much security with this type of arrangement. So in this scenario you continue to live and build a life with a spouse, which could be gone tomorrow. I don’t think this is a way I am willing to live or would choose to live. For me I have to and do seperate from my spouse in all aspects of the relationship.I can’t give myself to someone who is not trustworthy and has proven to be unstrustworthy and lies..it’s not safe for me. So at the present time we are room mates, and I soon hope to execute a seperation agreement and he is to move out. So to live together with a spouse who at the beginning you were supposed to share your life with. He was supposed to be the one person you could and thought you could count on. He is your spouse and husband. He has betrayed you and you have lost that sense of security. To stay in an active relationship close relationship would tear out my soul. It would go against every fiber in my body to continue. It’s would be like selling my soul to the devil.

    Now if we made it thorugh the seperation and he has shown he has and is commited to recovery and shows ownership in this like Larry and has made that paradigm shift…I would re-consider this option. Allthough this would be in several more years. But when things are fresh in the first couple months, I don’t think it is possible to make any real concrete decisions. Most of the facts and feelings have not been sorted out or discovered.

    These are just my thoughts. Everyone is different.

  21. flora,

    I would agree with everything said. Your thoughts are certainly valid and concrete. It is true, everyone has a different threshold of what they can live with/ without. And it is true, I have a bags packed at all times in my head thinking about our relationship. Perhaps with time, and w proven dedication to recovery, as he claims he is, this will become less in the forefront. I am willing to live with that insecurity of leaving at any time, for now. My comfort is that at least I can witness a recovery more by staying in the relationship/home. For someone so prone to lying his life away, who knows what he would tell me if I moved out, to get me back, you know? This way, I can see for myself if he is for real or not, measure the attitute and behavior, not words, because I am living in it. I realize this is not for everyone, but a path I am willing to take, time being to make the best decision for me, possible. I do not want him telling me about how good he is doing etc., while we live separately. I think it allows for more BS, in my particular scenario, not everyones. I respect your stance, and I hope in time your SA seeks the recovery needed. Or, you find the love of your life who will be who he says he is. Not like these guys.

  22. Hi Diane,

    I so much appreciated your words of wisdom for me, that I had to read your exquisitely expressed account of your painful anniversary. One of the books that I read initially referred to this as the ‘unintended journey’.

    My anniversary was within a week of yours. I used to anticipate it as though before that point, one year ago was BR (before reality) and my illusions still existed, but once I passed that marker, they were all gone.

    Well, it came and went. Reality is now entrenched. I won’t wake up and discover that it was a bad dream. I sometimes wonder if my husbands sorrow is based on his history or my knowledge of it. That alarms me because, as I wrote, if it is the latter I will never know the whole truth.

    I wanted to tell you that I the only person in my large family that I have revealed the truth to is my widowed 85 year old mother. She has been amazingly insightful and understanding. Sometimes too much. She loves my husband and has expressed outrage at Tiger Woods but not so much to her daughters husband??? This bugs, but I also appreciate that I can vent without thinking that I am forever damaging that relationship. To the contrary, she has an appreciation for his struggle and understands whatever position I need to take. It has informed her and made us closer. I believe that she also appreciates that she is not marginalized. I know that every situation is different and I don’t know your mother, but frankly, I’ve never before been close to mine.

    Blessings to you,

  23. This Friday is my actual wedding anniversary. Although we are doing really, I don’t have the highest hopes. I’m steeling myself for a letdown, because I am learning that I don’t have any control over this.

    As with emotional and physical abusers, there has been a pattern in our marriage of taking the days that are special to me – birthdays, holidays, anniversaries – and making them way less than special. He has either done nothing (not even a card), done something very generic (gift card) or more often than not, there has been some huge fight or event of his or problem he is dealing with that eliminates or takes away from any celebration that would have been possible (even though I was likely planning it myself).

    Has anyone else noticed this pattern with SAs? Is this part of the self-centeredness, lack of ability to put themselves into others’ places?

  24. Jessie,

    I am wondering the same thing! Our 18 year wedding anniversary was Sunday. Since I found out about three or four weeks ago about his recent acting out after 10 years I said lets not celebrate and please don’t do anything (since he is in the remorseful stage now and I am in the angry stage). Well he said the kids are expecting something since they remember it so we decided to do a family dinner. Nothing major. Well, he decides to take the kids out and spend the afternoon at the mall trying to find something for me. And he comes home like he has on SO MANY birthdays, anniversaries and tells me the turmoil of how he couldn’t find exactly what he wanted and he is “going” to get me “…xyz”. I didn’t want anything from him in the first place!
    Well, the first years of our relationship, I said it was the thought that counted….blah, blah, blah. Now after 20 years of this pattern I am realizing that he either can’t commit to that kind of gesture or I am not quite worth it. (He is very frugal).

    I am not materialistic but it has always been hurtful that he makes a big deal out of trying to get something and comes home with these stories. He spent a couple of years telling me how cubic zirconia is just as good as a diamond and why spend the money….gee….feeling really special now. Yes, I have a small diamond but the sentiment was clear for a long time.

    so maybe you are right, the self centered behavior can be so subtle sometimes but I am seeing it everywhere in him now. My therapist said they are master manipulators and I see that.

    If I can share with whomever is reading….I woke up crying again today. He says he can’t stand to see me hurting and that he doesn’t know what else he can do besides the treatment and just work really hard at recovery. I don’t know what else he can do either but I do know he doesn’t grasp the magnitude of what he has done (exposing himself to unsuspecting women).

    He has put a label on himself and me and I don’t want to live that life. I explained if people knew they would be disgusted or be worried about being artound him. He says (in his kindest concerned way) that he is aware of that but maybe my therapist isn’t really helping me to find a way to get through each day. I shouldn’t feel this awful over his actions and I should know I am a good person etc. Also, he needs to focus on fixing himself and my negative cutting is something he can’t focus on. wtf????

    Trust me , he says all of this with what looks like concern and worry for me. But he has twisted thinking I know. 🙁 or maybe I do.

  25. Hey– Jessie and Annie,

    Well, I think their are many many facet to this uhhh.. cubic zirconia–LOL and these are my thoughts.

    First of all, there is the issue of WHAT a “landmark” occasion means to a person. Quite frankly, for me, like most women, those are emotionally LOADED days, brought on by years of conditioning, the media, childhood, our friends, family… blah… So, now we have a triple whammy, of a heavily loaded day; your anniversary, (which SHOULD be special and romantic and filled with only the sweetest nostalgia) along with the ultimate suckiest kind of betrayal with that co-anniversary person AND he’s NEVER really stepped up to the plate, in the first place.

    This reminds me of the line in “Annie Hall” where Woody Allen says” The food here is terrible… and the portions are small too.” haha!

    In the case of my husband. He sucks at giving gifts and despises ALL “hallmark holidays”–has a paucity of sentimentality and I’ve just come to accept this, as one of his less desirable attributes, although I have tried to gently nudge him towards being more romantic—but it’s like moving the Intrepid stuck in dozens of years of deep mud. 😉 In his defense, however, I’m a nightmare to buy a present for. (very fussy) 🙂 So, its toasters and orthopedic pillows for me! haha!

    On the flip facet, there is the other extreme of the cheating, lying, womanizing, entitled, sociopathical husband who SHOWERS his wife/partner with gifts, trips, flowers, jewelry…empty affection… promises he doesn’t intend to keep… and for what??????? In the end, it doesn’t mean a thing, except that he thinks he can BUY your love. loser.

    So, what I’m really getting at, is that the problem isn’t really the gifts–or even giving anything more than a token card— What does that really mean anyway? Its the utter emotional abandonment, porn, the hookers, affairs–the total lack of respect–the lack of real intimacy and the feeling like we’ve been instead, kicked in the teeth by the ONE man who promised to cherish, protect and love us, until death do us part? In one fell swoop, he’s made a mockery of our union. So, of course, the day that marks that time where the earth is in the exact same place in relation to the sun is going to feel horrendous and depressing. How could it be otherwise? My recommendation is to plan something fun, for yourself, even if it doesn’t include him. Make plans with a girlfriend–anything to get your mind off of the shit.

    Now, for Annie. Your thinking is in no way twisted.

    Hubby says:

    “maybe my therapist isnâ??t really helping me to find a way to get through each day. I shouldn’t feel this awful over his actions and I should know I am a good person etc”

    Is that so??? What a moron. I feel like punching his lights out. He’s lucky you didn’t kill him, so maybe his therapist isn’t working for HIM, that he does not understand this simple concept that his CONTEMPTUOUS, SELF-SERVING, BETRAYAL of the woman he supposedly loves and cares for is devastatingly HURTFUL. How very painful that must be to hear this crap!

    (((hugs to all)))


  26. Hi Jessie and Annie,
    I totally get what you are saying. Now, looking back over 30 years, I see all kinds of things that I didn’t quite put together before. And one of those things is how he undermined special events in my life that must have threatened his power base. Really creepy. He always had some “crisis” that was more important than what was happening in my life. And then he gave me two surprise parties and I really really hate those, and he knows I hated those. I’m an introvert and don’t like parties. And I don’t like surprises. But he loves to throw those two events in my face as examples of how much effort he made to celebrate me. Weird,eh? And his mother was at one of those parties and she has always hated me, and proceeded to criticize all my friends, after. The SAs seem to like to create the “idea” that they are doing something for us, but they aren’t really—even if they do actually do something. It’s for them to use later, and it’s never anything we wanted—in fact its usually exactly the opposite!

    On the issue of special dates–now that we are apart I do find them affecting me more than usual. And I’m sorry you’ve both had hard experiences with special dates. Hang in there. And create some new ones. I use my journal to record important days in my recovery, and then look back every once in a while, to count off one month, two months, etc. since the last big “revelation and decision” for my recovery process. I buy myself a special treat–a magazine, a pair of gloves, a chocolate etc. It may sound pathetic, but it actually helps to affirm every step toward being whole again. And nobody else is going to pat me on the back!

    So give yourselves a hand—or a chocolate.

  27. Annie,

    that sounds so familiar – the I’ll-make-it-up-to-you part. Do they ever make it up? I always half expect it, and then get sadder and angrier as it doesn’t happen.

    On the other part of what you said, I understand that this focus-on-me part of early recovery is something alot of women find hard to deal with. Its hard to tell, but if they are so self-involved still and are running with whatever scraps their therapist gives them that allow them to remain selfish, are they really in recovery?

    Your thinking is not twisted. What else can he do? He can REALLY take responsibility for how his actions have damaged you, and accept that part of his recovery is learning to have real empathy for you, learning to be accountable and rebuilding intimacy – which can’t happen if the only thing he focuses on is himself.

    On the topic of “special days”, I guess the reason I ask if it is inherent in the SA personality, is because my stepfather, who was in my life from age 8 until I was an adult, was emotionally and at times physically abusive to my mother. Any occasions that did not revolve around him (like say, his birthday or his son’s birthday) ended in huge arguments, us packing up in the car and retreating. I remember many holidays or family day trips that ended this way. My mother always tried to make those days special to us, not monetarily, but by choosing the most personal gift or giving us an experience she knew we would enjoy.

    Because if this, it is one of the ways I show love – tickets to something personally important, picking up special little things throughout the year and putting them all together as a gift, and I often know what I will be doing for someone weeks or months in advance – things that show I know them, I want them to be happy, and that I listen to them. It seems as though there has always been an utter disregard for the things that would make me really happy, or maybe it is just that he has always been so wrapped up in himself and in his secret life or secret emotions that he has never listened to or gotten to know me.

    That said, this year could be different. But if it is not, the way I allow it to stew inside of me will be.

  28. Aha! I didn’t realize my SA’s lack of celebrating our anniversary and other special occasions was a common SA trait until I read these posts! Mine would celebrate with the family, kids, but nothing as a couple. He also was really good at the e-card and the flowers ordered online and the generic beautiful jewelry, none of which I care about at all. I told him if he can’t buy something small, inexpensive, and specific to me, I don’t want it. How is this for selfish? My daughter and I ran the chicago marathon, and during all of the months of training I did and before, during, and after the marathon….he didn’t make one comment. Not once. And he even came to Chicago and slept until just before we crossed the finish line. His marathon story was to tell friends and neighbors how hot it was that day for him standing at the finish line. I looked at all of the supportive family members for 26.2 miles and kept thinking “I need a different husband.” And that was the year before I discovered he was an SA.
    I tell my SA that if I am going to be in a relationship going forward with anyone…it is going to be someone who is happy to celebrate milestones with me:) and even if I stay with him, that marriage is over. I’m not celebrating that anniversary again.
    Just curious….Did your SA’s drop you at work parties, or not want to take you at all? Or did they act like loving husband’s and half of the perfect couple in front of their friend’s and coworkers?

  29. Larry would come to the parties, gatherings, weddings, etc., but he would openly flirt with, put his hands on or try to pick up any cute little thing that caught his eye.

    Then he would deny it when we got home and say, ‘Come on JoAnn, what kind of a guy would do something like that?’

    That was the crazy times when he actually had me doubting what I saw. That would never happen today!

  30. Ex’s therapist said he had “twisted perspectives”….so we got that one right.
    My ex would wait till my birthday or Valentine’s day to tell me he wanted a divorce, I was not a good woman, you name it.
    Then I found emails that on “our” special days he was pumping up to someone else.
    Plain fact with mine- I did not deserve special, he did not want to give special, and even after we split he told me it should “Be a clue” about how he treated the special days in that I was nothing to him.
    That came through way loud and clear.

  31. Oh! I should tell you all what really helps and brings the happy back! On all the awful days…the days where bad was discovered or happened, turn them into the most awesome days for yourself! The one year anniversary of him leaving I quit smoking, the days I discovered bad things I make special days of treat me for me days! Turn it around, make the bad dissolve with all the fun and good and healthy. It really works.
    I even told him that I was turning all his bad around to good things because he was not going to own anymore of my days.

  32. Lynn,

    Isn’t this so true- Our days, our minutes, our lives, consumed by another person’s issues. I like your stance, the SA’s should not own our moments. Especailly important ones we cherish. Mine has been good on birthdays and anniversary’s. Bad at the crucial, 7 mos pregnant (he took a personal vacation that I now know inc. acting out) and then a 2nd vacation (same as above) 2 weeks after my mother died of cancer. skip the f”ng holidays. be there when I need you the most, protect when I am vulnerable. – narcissist. sorry ladies, if it walks like duck, quacks like a duck, guess what it is???

    I guess only I can stop that from happening – the stealing of our moments :). I am getting better at this.

    When I think of those trips he took, I am so angry I feel a little dizzy. I am not even angry at anything “new”. I will just never understand the behavior. It’s lack of love and courtesy, and it will always choose itself over the love of family. It is sickness, indeed.

  33. I thought I was just rambling and feeling so guilty about what I wrote! I didn’t want to come across as superficial. I am so thankful for all of you 🙂

    Diane- when you said “The SAs seem to like to create the “idea” that they are doing something for us, but they aren’t really—” you hit the nail on the head. My husband LOVES how he appears to be the perfect adoring husband.

    I always swore when he kissed me he just liked the way HE LOOKED when he was doing it…wasn’t really kissing “me”. I hope I am being fair, sometimes he did step up to the plate but alot of times-not. The people he works with always say how lucky I am…”he just raves about you and how lucky he is to have you!” So I really thought I was all that to him for years…so all that other b.s. went right over my head for a while and I felt guilty about the slighted feelings I had.

    I am feeling grateful tonight…so happy for this site 🙂

  34. Marie, this must be typical of SA’s. Before I knew what was up, I noted that he never celebrated me. My 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th all came and went while I organized surprise parties, and special events for his. My bday is often on thanksgiving so it’s tricky, but…. I have to say that he always wrote great cards and shopped thoughtfully but if it meant really putting out effort to plan something he was t gonna

    We didn’t have $$ to spend on our 25th anniversary so he got a bunch of great nibbles at Trader Joes and we took a bottle if wine to the beach.
    I loved that but when I tried to talk about when we fell in love, etc he wouldn’t engage.

    I have confronted a couple of the women he was involved with and one told me that I almost walked in on them at one of our company holiday parties that happened to fall on my bday. I guess he was celebrating after all! I too declined to acknowledge the 27th anniversary of the wedding because it wasn’t a marriage.

  35. My point about mental illness and the facts regarding my own SA I recognize were not clear in my earlier post. I don’t mean to suggest I can diagnose mental illness either but I have been reading a lot about it as i learn about addiction. I do have the facts on my SA (well maybe not all but sufficient to know that he must have a hard time reconciling himself with the impostor, in lucid moments.) Mental illness, I believe, can be derived from any number of precipitating factors including DNA, early experience, a combination, and I presume from years of deceit and the cognitive dissonance that comes with what one would like to believe one is, and the unvarnished facts. This cognitive dissonance is corrosive, eats at the soul from the inside out. First it poisons him, and then it creates the toxic environment that becomes our unhappy marriage. Eventually the facts come out and everyone who knows, aches. But I feel my burden is lightened by letting his family carry some of it. If he can’t find the empathy in his heart for me(autism? aspergers? sociopathy?),maybe some attachment to his first family will help him. Addiction means loving a substance more than any thing. He will even defend his substance (pornography) when I call it depraved, and tell me I am out of touch. Yes, I hope his counselor is picking up on this stuff too, but so far my attempts at contacting him have failed. It’s all very, very hard to do alone. Thank you all for being here. When I first found this site it was such a relief to find there were sisters who knew what I knew, what I couldn’t share with friends or anyone else. It was affirming and comforting in a time of great sorrow and confusion.

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