First, allow me to express my deeply felt gratitude for all the comments to the story of my struggles. I was moved to tears of joy as I surrounded myself with your love. We are a rare community that I am honored to be a part of.
I appreciate the voices who have asked the question, and I also hear those of you who did not ask, but still wondered–Why Do I Stay?
First, let me say that I am quite capable, physically, emotionally and financially, of living alone and being contented and happy. I never allow myself to forget how fortunate I am in that matter. There are so many women who do not have the choices that I have and my heart goes out to all of you, because your choices are so much more difficult than mine.
My choice to stay is exactly that. A conscious, informed choice. Over the years I have weighed all the factors, looked at my choices and feel that this choice, to stay in this relationship with Larry, makes me the happiest. This choice allows me to enjoy more of the things that are important to me in my life and enables me to pursue my goals. Staying makes me happier than leaving–both short and long term.
I do believe that Larry’s heart is really in his recovery. He truly wants to find peace from his demons and live a contented life with me. We have many, many interests in common, he is kind, gentle and has no temper. We are both retired and have the time and means to do all those things that most people only dream of.
Here is how I see my life right now:
85% of the time I am happier than I have ever been in my life. This happiness not only includes Larry, but encompasses all of my life events; my dreams, my family, my goals, my social and political concerns, my travel, my sense of fun, my enjoyment of the arts and other forms of entertainment, my sense of awe for nature and the outdoors and my time and my ability to reflect and be ever so thankful to the universe for my many, many blessings that would literally take pages and pages to enumerate. I never take any of these for granted and I feel overjoyed that my life is so blessed.
13% of my time is spent fussing over or being irritated with annoyances, large and small, that are common to life and relationships. Crazy politicians, social injustice, intolerance, snow, dog hair, cat puke and Larry’s irritating habit of leaving kitchen cupboard doors open to name just a few.
2% is consumed by the Sexual Addiction and recovery in a negative way. Old memories and hurts, doubts, confusion and frustration with Larry’s mental immaturity, lack of sensitivity and deeper insight and, of course, his bad behaviors.
Now, in the beginning, right after I found out about Larry’s addiction, the percentages looked much different:
85% of my life was consumed by the addiction. Sometimes it seemed like 100%. All that pain, mistrust, anger, resentment, fear, confusion, stress, trauma…well, you all know that story.
13% of my time was spent on my career and family. I am so sorry that during the crisis I was not present, physically or mentally with my family as much as I should have been. I still struggle to forgive myself for that loss of those precious moments.
2% were rare moments of contentment and peace in my life and occasionally there were some pure fun times with Larry.
My point is that I feel that I am in a very stable place in my life right now, even when dealing with the addiction. It has not been easy, it’s been a long and difficult road to get to this place. It took a lot of help from counselors, family and friends and a lot of soul searching.
I know that this current storm will pass and that we will both find our way back to the path toward a life of peace and contentment. Rather than burying the issues or the pain, I have chosen to experience it, face it head on and fight savagely for the life that I want. I do not turn my head the other way, I do not accept his bad behavior or allow him to sidestep his accountability or relieve him of his responsibility to make amends. It is unrealistic to expect a Sex Addict to be perfect, but I can expect Larry to seriously and sincerely want to overcome the addiction and to continue making efforts and showing progress toward that goal
I do not control him, but, in order for there to be peace here, I expect (this is a boundary) him to continue the very difficult work of his recovery even when he balks, evades, makes excuses, stumbles or ignores what he should be doing. If he wants to be with me he has to continue walking that path. A few short wrong turns can be weathered, but if he ever sets out on another road I will quickly wish him well and continue without him on my own path toward happiness.
So, why not just leave? Why do I stay when I know that there very well may be times when Larry will betray me again?
Because his addiction does not consume my life. Even though we are married my life is not defined by Larry or by his addiction. I do not think about everything that Larry does. I do not worry when he is out and about. I am confident that if he were anywhere close to acting out I would know it. Other than that, I refuse to let his addiction overshadow my life. There may be other storms, but I feel that the foundation we are building will help us get through them. If something comes up that I cannot accept, I am confident that I will be strong enough to make the right choice for my own safety and happiness and be able to leave the relationship behind.
No one on this earth is guaranteed a happy tomorrow. There are so many unknowns that could shatter my life. The addiction is only one, and at least I have a ‘heads up’ on that one.