This time it’s my turn to share my story. The odd thing about our stories is that there really never is an ending. The stories of Sex Addiction, and life, are ongoing; a continuance of the peaks and valleys, the happiness and pain and, of course, the struggles.
This story is about the struggles.
If any of you have read my previous post, Sexual Addiction’s Subtle Siren Song you will remember that last September Larry was lured down a path of escalating viewing of sexually oriented movies on TV. We talked about it, he had a plan for reviewing his recovery plan and discussing the issue with his counselor. Although my trust was shaken and I was thrown into that unease of doubt, I thought we had weathered the slip quite nicely.
Well, last week I walked into Larry’s office (downstairs on a different floor from my office, he always keeps the doors closed). On his computer screen was a sexual movie scene.
He admitted that he had been spending the last few weeks googling ‘top 25 movie sex scenes’ and watching them for anywhere from 1/2 to 1 1/2 hours at a time. These were specific scenes where you watch only the sex scenes, not the rest of the movie.
I have been struggling with this for the past week and a half, and I can’t tell you how difficult it has been. Even though I feel that my previous counseling has done wonders to restore my self esteem and self confidence, when I discovered that Larry had purposely betrayed my trust I was thrown back into that old world of self doubt. No, I never wondered what I had done or hadn’t done to cause it, but I just got an overall sense of doubt about my whole life and decisions that I had made.
The worst part of it, as it is with all of us, is the betrayal.
Larry and I have had some lengthy discussions over this. I have to say that the conversations are similar to those we used to have years ago, and yet they are somehow very different. Right after my discovery he fell back into that old ‘addict’ talk where he minimized, denied and totally refused any accountability, but, at times, just for a brief moment, he seemed to be able to recognize and express his inner pain and share his doubts and fears honestly. It has been very frustrating.
This week he has found a new counselor who specializes in Sex Addiction. He has been attending eight 12 step meetings a week. And he asked me to put monitoring software on his computer. At first I refused, angrily stating that if he wanted to find a way to engage in yellow light behaviors all the monitors and blocks in the world would not stop him. I finally agreed when he asked if I would just do it so that he would have a reminder that his computer was monitored. He said he cannot trust himself at this point. I don’t bother even looking at the reports because I know that he won’t do anything on the computer if he knows I am watching, so it means nothing to me.
Larry says he does not know why he was watching those scenes, he says that he didn’t realize that he was engaging in yellow light behavior, he says he does not know if it would have led to him acting out if I had not caught him, he says he does not know why he didn’t tell me or his counselor that he was searching for and watching explicit sex scenes on the computer and he feels that he did not ‘choose’ to seek and watch those scenes because, as he says, ‘I’m an addict’.
Now, we all know that all of those statements are bullshit!
What those statements mean is that Larry, who is a pretty typical Sex Addict, will always revert to denial, minimizing, lying and withdrawing into his secret world whenever some vague event, thought or trigger entices him or when he is confronted with something he is trying to hide.
I do not know if that will ever change.
Now, about me. Larry and I have had such an wonderful 3 1/2 years since his last episode of acting out, and I had become comfortable in our relationship, but have still maintained an emotional detachment. I have learned to love him again, but I have never fooled myself into thinking that we would never have issues with his addiction–when I made the decision to reconcile with him I was clearly aware that there would be times when the Sex Addiction would rear it’s ugly head.
What I did believe was that we would work through his struggles together. He had promised me, over and over, that he would share any urges to engage in yellow light behavior. I was foolish to believe that a Sex Addict would be able to keep that sort of promise.
The TV movie thing upset me, but it was manageable. I thought we had and were continuing to work through it. But, his viewing of sex scenes on the computer has hurt me quite deeply. It was a double betrayal because he not only promised me total transparency when we got back together, he also continued the lies and deception during our recent weeks of discussions over the TV issue. And, he did not share the computer viewing with his 12 step groups or his counselor, even though he had two sessions with that counselor in which they discussed the TV issue.
Last week I went through all of those horrible emotions that I thought I would never have to endure again. My stomach was in turmoil for days, i couldn’t sleep, I had this constant urge to just ‘get away’, I cried, I didn’t yell too much–just a bit, and then I calmed down. It seemed as if I went through the whole gamut of emotions at warp speed. I read my own website for comfort (thank you all), finished the new eBook and sought comfort from a dear friend who is also married to a Sex Addict.
So, what now? Well, I resisted the urge to make a black and white decision. Actually my research for my new eBook helped me with that, so I will explain a bit of it here because it can really help clarify things when we are in that crisis mode that just screams for action.
Black and white thinking is a result of our primal fight or flight response to danger (actually, there is a third response, which is ‘freeze’, but that is primarily useful to tiny animals who would not survive if they fought or ran). Sex Addicts engage in black and white thinking most of the time, because, not only is it a primal response, it is also an immature response which children engage in all the time. Most Sex Addicts are very immature and have not learned to temper their responses with mature reasoning.
Anyway, the reason that partners of Sex Addicts feel that urgent need to make a decision about the relationship is because the ‘fight or flight’ response is alive and kicking within our bodies. We can’t just sit there, we can’t just let is rest for a while, we have to make a decision ‘NOW’. Our adrenalin is high and our bodies feel that our very existence is threatened. We need to ‘do something’. Add to that turmoil the desperate pleadings of the Sex Addict that they have ‘seen the light’ and that you should forgive, forget and move on, and you have the makings of the crazies.
So, as I said, I resisted the urge to make a black and white decision. As difficult as it was, I let it rest. Oh, we continued to talk, and I still had my emotional roller coaster running on hyper warp speed, but I refused to seriously consider any decisions about the future of our relationship. Those types of decisions are much too important to be made under emotional duress, and usually will not stick anyway.
As time passed Larry has also seemed to calm emotionally and he is now talking more sensibly, without that sense of shame that bubbled up with my discovery. As the shame retreats he becomes more aware of what he did and is able to talk about it without the defensiveness.
So, that’s where we are at right now. Talking, seeking answers, using resources such as counseling for both of us and Larry with his 12 steps. I don’t know what the next chapter of this story will be, but I will definitely share it with all of you, who have opened your hearts so generously on this site.
This site is here to offer support, resources and comfort for partners of Sex Addicts, including myself. Just sharing my story with you has lightened my heart. I am sharing all of this with the hope that everyone out there will understand what it is really like to live with a recovering Sex Addict. It is not easy and there will be issues. You cannot have false hopes or feel unearned or foolish trust. You must be strong and able to work through the problems, often without the Sex Addict’s help. If the relationship is strong in other areas it might work, but only if you are fully aware of the pitfalls.
And remember, a happy ending simply depends on where you stop your story.