Larry and I have been dealing with an incident that happened two nights ago. I found him in our theater room watching a very sexually explicit movie.
Here’s the background and the resolution.
Both Larry and I retired early. I keep myself quite busy, I have many hobbies, including watercolor painting, sewing, and reading as well as my part time writing career and I also do website development for small companies. Larry, on the other hand, has not taken very well to retirement. He has no hobbies so he started a consulting company, which has done quite well.
One of his clients recommended him for a very high profile job, which he decided he would apply for. We talked about it and felt that it would allow him to reach a pinnacle in his career that he had always aspired toward. Well, large companies move at a snail’s pace when hiring upper positions, and Larry has been through many, many interviews since June.
So during the last three months Larry has put his consulting business and it’s marketing on hold. This has resulted in lots of time on his hands, plus a little stress. He has no hobbies, and seemed to resist my directions to do various things around the house. He has been spending increasing amounts of time just sitting and watching TV.
I got a bit of a red flag last week when he mentioned some of the titles of movies he had been watching–which sounded quite racy. We have Satellite TV but no premium channels, so outright porn movies are not available, but some of the movies shown are quite provocative. So, my radar was up.
Well, two nights ago I was in my office, doing my computer work and Larry was downstairs in the theater room watching TV. My office is right above the theater room, and even though it is soundproofed I can hear certain types of music if it is loud and has a lot of bass.
I heard this music, that could only be the type played during a sex scene–it is so corny and obvious. I listened, and it went on and on and on. So, I walked downstairs and opened the theater room door to see this young, attractive, naked couple writhing on the big screen in all their glory. ‘What are you watching?’ I asked in a controlled but angry voice.
‘Oh, this just started.’ he said. Yeah, right.
Well, what followed was that I said he seemed to be targeting a lot of sexual content movies lately (his recovery plan clearly stated that he would avoid these). He said he didn’t think that he was. But, he apologized, said he would stop, said he would do a recovery questionnaire/ worksheet the next day and we would talk about it. This was a positive sign that he did not get defensive, angry or clam up as he always did in the past when confronted.
So, yesterday we talked (he brought it up). He had made a list of all the movies he has watched in the last few weeks (there were over 40) and about 1/3 were rated for sexual content. Two issues here–one, I saw an escalating amount of sexually explicit movies and two–he was watching a hell of a lot of TV! Not only was he watching several movies a day, add in all the news he watches, plus the 2 or 3 movies a week that we watch together.
So we talked about it. There were no particularly big stresses in his life except for the new job. He had no explanation except that he said he was telling himself that he was ‘normal’ now and he could watch these movies without any negative effects, and he said he was also telling himself that by watching these movies it might help his low libido and enhance our sex life. (WOW–I could write a whole book on that one!).
He did realize, on his own, that this was all bullshit rationalization; that he was only fooling himself and that he had violated his recovery plan and hurt me and our relationship deeply. He said that he would stop watching any movies with sexual content, that he would talk about this with a fellow 12 step member at his next meeting, that he would talk with his counselor about it and that he would not take the new job if it was offered (which requires a lot of travel).
He agreed that it was a good idea when I said I was going to put parental locks on all of the TV programming (as if I needed his agreement!) and said that he would review his recovery plan to see if it needed any changes. We also decided that he needed to be doing a lot more activities, such as walking the dog more, doing outside work around the house (he does help me inside) and that he needed to get a hobby.
So, the point of all of this is: that little voice inside of the Sex Addict’s head, that voice that subtly whispers to them, calling them, telling them that whatever they are doing is ‘normal’, is never silenced. The rationalization of their slowly escalating behaviors totally overcomes any recognition or realization of what is happening. Larry said that he never thought about the fact that he was violating the recovery plan that HE wrote. It just never occurred to him that he was engaging in the very same ‘yellow light’ behaviors that he had recognized that could lead to him acting out. He thought he was just being ‘normal’.
He has, once again, realized and recognized that he will never be normal and that he must always be on the alert for that subtle siren song beckoning him toward his rocky death.
So, here we are. My sense of safety has been shaken. I will remain on high alert for who knows how long. Little things will bother me that I have learned to be comfortable with and he has to regain my trust again.
What’s the most troubling to me is the fact that they can so subtly slip into these behaviors without recognizing it.