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 Post subject: Emerald's Healing Thread
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:20 pm 
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Before I go into the lesson and talk about the discovery, I would like to give a little back history on my past... I had gotten married at the age of 18 back in 2009, had my child in 2010, and was divorced by 2011 due to my ex husband being unfaithful. I already had a lot of relationship trauma by this time in my life before I met the man I am with today. After my divorce, I started seeing a counselor to heal from my marriage and divorce. After a few months of counseling, I felt like a new person. I started going back to school and this is where I met my current partner who is doing the recovery path at this time.

My partner and I met 8 years ago in college through mutual friends. Our friends thought we would be a great fit and helped us get together. Soon after texting, phone calls, and random double dates, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I hadn't felt so happy in a long time. The relationship felt new, exciting, and passionate.

3 months into our relationship and we were still at a high...talking nonstop, always hanging out, just enjoying each other. I let him meet my son as well within that time. He was great with him too. We still hadn't had sex yet, but we were still being touchy feely with each other. A little after our 3 months was when I discovered his addiction.

He was at my house spending time with me and my son. He needed my laptop to check on his class work. I let him use my laptop without thinking twice. I trusted him, or at least I thought I did. I was sitting next to him at the table while he used my laptop. I noticed he logged into his email and hesitated. I found this behavior odd but didn't say anything. He paused and searched for an email keyword instead of actually opening up his inbox. Feelings from my past relationship started to kick in immediately and I felt anxious and paranoid. I hadn't felt this way within the relationship until this point. Soon after, he left and went to college for his class.

As soon as he left, I opened my laptop and saw that he forgot to log out of his email. My curiosity got worse and I pulled up his inbox. I came across hundreds of emails with porn subscriptions, craigslist conversations, emails with YouTubers who made porn videos, etc. I felt my heart drop into my stomach and lost it.

I confronted him right away and we fought for weeks. We were still very much in love but we were both broken. We tried to move past it and he told me he was going to stop involving himself with porn. He even showed me how he canceled all of his subscriptions and accounts.

I tried to trust him again and knew that I was having a hard time. We waited 6 months to actually have sex. He was the reason we waited because he was a virgin. We were fairly young in our early twenties, but I was still kind of shocked to hear that he had never had sex knowing the type of background he had with the porn addiction. Even though we were dealing with his addiction, we somehow seemed to remain close. Broken and toxic, I became codependent on him. I wanted him to be free from his addiction and just be with him.

A few more months went by and he became better at keeping secrets and hiding things from me. He made secret accounts that I found out about later on in our relationship. 2 years into our relationship, we made the mistake of moving in together for financial reasons. This is when our relationship got worse. Since we moved in together, my snooping got worse and I found so many things related to his addiction that caused us to argue every night. After months of arguing, he gave in again and said he would try harder. That he would go to counseling(he went one day) and that he would change his ways.

This cycle continued and here I am 8 years later. Outside of this addiction, we have a very close bond, best friend relationship, and we somehow were able to keep up with our sexual relationship despite the addiction. He is also there for my son who is almost 10 now. This is the only man my son has been around and as much as I don't trust him with this topic, I do trust him with my son. We started this journey of the couple's workshop a month ago to give our relationship one last shot. We agreed to give this program our all. I am hopeful that we can overcome this individually, and together as a couple because I do believe in us.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:22 am 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
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Emerald - Welcome to Recovery Nation. I am sorry you need to be here, but this is a healing place to be. I am relieved you have started the partners lessons. I found them to be immensely helpful. Also feel free to read and post to the partners' community forum. You are not alone. The partners here understand what you are going through.

With deep compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:04 pm 
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Thank you, dnell. I appreciate the kind words and support.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2020 4:21 pm 
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Exercise 2:

I see myself becoming stronger in my faith and trusting God with everything I have. I want to continue growing in my walk with the Lord and focusing more on His will over my own. I want to focus on evangelizing and spreading the Word of God through my community. I also see myself going on missions around the world to bring the bible to communities that don't have access like we do in the Western world.

I see myself being the best mother to my son, raising him in faith to be the strong, loving, and powerful man of God I know he will be. I also see myself having more children to grow my family and raise them in the Word. I know one of God's purposes for me is to create a legacy with my children.

I see myself being more healthy physically. I want to make time to be more active and make working out a part of my routine.

I see myself working on my career to become a successful interior designer. I plan to start the course in 2021 and start my interior design business by 2022.

I see myself becoming a home owner in 2021. I want to get out of apartment living and take the step to own a house to raise a family.

I see myself getting married, whether that is with my partner who is in recovery, or someone else that God has planned. I want to settle down and be a wife to a good, strong, healthy, and powerful man of God.

I see myself spending more time with my parents, and friends. I want to be able to go out without having to worry what my partner will do behind my back while I'm out. I want to be able to put my parents high on my list to make sure I see them often. I don't want to have to make sacrifices for the sake of my relationship.

I see myself loving myself more and more each day. I want to be able to have good health mentally as well, and be able to handle my emotions when something triggers me. I want to heal and be the woman I need to be to fulfill God's purpose in my life with no distractions.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:02 pm 
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Exercise 3:

A) Brainstorm the times when your 'gut feelings' have been right about your partner's sexual and/or romantic behavior. Include times when you feel strongly that you were right (though it may never have been proven either way).

This lesson has been quite difficult for me because I feel like I have acted on every gut instinct I've had. He may think he is a good liar, but I've always caught him in his lies. Whenever my gut would tell me that I should suspect something is up, I'd confront him, and when he lied, I would ask to check his phone and would find the info I'd be suspicious of. When he isn't lying to me, he is very sweet, talkative, affectionate, etc. But whenever he would do something in regards to his addiction, he couldn't help but become distant, rude, and selfish in all ways. So each time he acted out on his porn addiction, I'd know by his behavior.

B) Identify as many major situations as you can where you allowed your head/heart to override your 'gut feelings' in relation to your partner's behavior.

I've never been able to override my gut feelings. If I felt something was off, I'd confront him. I was lied to and cheated on by my ex 10 years ago, so when I got with my current partner 8 years ago, I had learned to trust my gut already and always chose to confront him rather than sweep it under the rug, or ignore it. This has also been one of the reasons we have argued so much because he hates when he gets caught and hates it even more when I ask him. (I've noticed him being less defensive these past few weeks though as he is working through the recovery path. I've also learned to confront him in a calmer manner rather than getting very emotional like I would in the past.)

C) Relying on the experience you have gained, make a list of likely behaviors, situations and/or feelings that may trigger a conflict between your gut instinct, your value system and/or reality.

I would act on my gut feeling again if...
He became distant emotionally.
He had an attitude for no reason.
He doesn't tell me about his whereabouts.
He deletes history on his devices, or tries to remove the accountability software.
He picks fights for no reason.
He acts quiet and shady if I come home from an errand, or out of the shower.
He wakes up in the middle of the night to check his phone.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 7:10 pm 
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Exercise 4:

1) Make a list of those values in your partner's life that — in your gut — you believe is a part of him. Set aside the addiction and the behaviors that were a part of that addiction. Focus on what values you believe will survive the recovery process. Post these in your Healing Thread. If there is a time when you are feeling close to your partner, share these thoughts with him — so that he knows that you are beginning to separate the addiction from his core identity.

His faith in God.
His desire for looking for the truth.
His desire to be a righteous man.
His way of organizing and managing time.
His big heart to love and care for others.
His selfless actions on a daily basis.
The way he stays focused on tasks at hand.
His determination to be healthy both physically and mentally.
The way he selflessly gives his all to this relationship.
The way he cares for my son.
The way he gives my son attention.
He would be a great stepfather and father.
He would want to raise his children to be righteous and educate them to make the right decisions for their lives.
The way he cares for his parents.
The way he wants to be there for his parents as an good, loving, and supportive son.
His openness to change and accept change.
His desire for learning new things.
His passion for theology.
His desire to do something for others.
His desire to leave a legacy.
The way he is gentle and compassionate with me.
The way he is considerate for others and their feelings.
He has a heart to give and help others in times of need.
He desires to not be judgmental of anyone or any situation.
He believes in justice and fairness.
He never uses anyone for anything.
He values a good sense of humor.
He is intelligent and could use it to be very successful.
He values his morals and ethics.
He genuinely believes in doing good.



2) Make a list of those qualities in your partner that you believe will continue to pose as obstacles throughout your relationship.

Poor communication skills.
Feeling the need to hide things from me to avoid confrontation.
Not voicing his concerns in the relationship or expressing his feelings.
He tends to resent others and has a hard time forgiving those who wronged him (ie: exes who cheated on him, friends who did him wrong)
Having a fairytale and unrealistic idea on relationships.
Understanding that our love languages are different.
He is not patient at times.
He needs to understand the meaning of compromise more.
He needs to understand that love is a choice.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 8:04 pm 
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Exercise 5:

A. How do you manage your stress? What would it take for you to become so emotionally overwhelmed that you would turn to irrational behavior to produce enough intensity to escape from that stress? Can you think of a time in your life that you have turned to such a measure?

When I get very stressed out, I tend to start cleaning and organizing everything in sight...sweeping, mopping, organizing the fridge.. basically anything that I can "fix" or "clean" that is in front of me. It tends to get my mind off of the stress and gets my pent up energy out. I find myself doing this when I begin overthinking and not finding ways to handle my thoughts. If I am slightly stressed, I turn to creative projects that tend to take up a few hours and by the time I am done with my project, my stress usually goes away by itself.

B. Consider a compulsive behavior that you have engaged in. Break it down thoroughly. Get a sense for the anxiety that you experienced prior to engaging in the act. Imagine the continued anxiety that you would have experienced had you not engaged in the act. Describe that anxiety in your own words.

The only compulsive behavior that I can think of is obsessively monitoring my partner's devices for the past 6 years(we have been together for 8). It has gotten worse as the years have gone by. It started off with just logging into his Facebook and email, to now having a full blown accountability software on his phone and laptop because I do not trust him at all. He knows that we have no chance of being together if he takes them off, because we have no foundation of trust when it comes to his addiction. I will say that I used to check his reports from the accountability software almost every hour, and now it has gone down to a few times a week. That may sound silly to most, but I feel like that is an accomplishment from where I came from years ago. I also feel like those of you reading this will understand where I am coming from, and why I acted the way I did. For many years, my behavior towards my partner depended on his reports. If something came up on the report that was related to his addiction, I would confront him, tell him how much he hurt me, and then expect for him to make amends with me. Now, I am somewhat able to think before I act, so if something comes up on the report, I go to a secluded place, like my closet, and sit in there for a few minutes to think things through. I think of how I need to confront him, and what I am going to say to make sure that the conversation is productive and doesn't turn into a fight. Each time we have fought over confrontation over his addiction, his first response is to leave and end the relationship. Ever since we have started this workshop, I have only have to confront him twice about something that I saw on the report and he made sure to keep a check on his emotions and talk to me about what happened. We are getting better with communicating through these things, but there is still no trust. Which is why I end up checking reports even to this day.

C. In contemplating the role that addiction has played in your partner's life, imagine what his/her life would be like without this life management skill in place. To be clear, the task here is not to imagine his life without the consequences of the addiction, but to imagine how he would manage his emotions without having the compulsive act to engage in. How would he stimulate himself emotionally? What would he use to regulate his stress? Not how should he, mind you, but how would he?

He would probably pick more fights with me.
Spend more time alone because of his resentment of not being able to take part in his addiction.
He would spend more time on video games, music, and other hobbies that help him forget about his problems.
He would go out more and stay out of the house to avoid being faced with issues.
He would possibly turn to smoking and drinking to escape his issues.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:02 pm 
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Exercise 6:

"Quite often, many sexual behaviors occur with such subtlety, such consistency and/or are so well disguised (through humor, anger, guilt, etc.) that it is not until you filter these behaviors through a net of sexual addiction when you realize that they are indeed woven from the same cloth. But the reality is, the majority of sexual addicts have positioned themselves within a cocoon of sexuality that is not related to their personality, but rather, their addiction. With this in mind, think of your partner's behavior over the course of your relationship. Describe the patterns that you suspect can be attributed to a sexualized mind."

-For years, if we were out in a store, he would walk behind me in order to check out other girls without me noticing what he is doing. It took me a while to catch on to this one, but once I realized what he was doing, I confronted him and just recently, he has stopped walking behind me and walks next to me.
-He would make sexual jokes about people on reality TV, or something similar, thinking he could be normal about the topic, but it always made me uncomfortable.
-Before I found out about his addiction, he would talk about how much he respects women, when in reality this is quite the opposite due to objectification.
-We cannot just kiss just because- it always leads to having sex because he gets aroused.
-He rarely ever shows affection (hug, peck on the cheek, peck on the lips) unless he is looking for sex.

"Of the four areas discussed in this lesson, which have you observed in your partner?"
The Sexualized Mind
-When we are out, I always think he is trying hard not to check out other girls(in the past, he would openly check them out without caring about how it made me feel). Now, he says he cares and wants to stop because he wants to respect women, and not want to hurt my feelings.
-We cannot cuddle without it leading to sex.
-He cannot show me affection without making it into a sexual advance. Just recently he has began to put his arm around my waist, or hold my hand when walking, and not make it a sexual thing.

The Objectified Mind
-Over the course of 8 years, there have been a lot of "discovery" moments. The second hardest one for me to deal with was when we moved in together in 2014, and he was at work. I turned on his PS3, and noticed he had a large gallery of images. When I opened the folder, I found thousands of photos of random women, his exes, girls he went to school with, girls he was currently working with, etc. They were also photoshopped with objects, and words. Very disrespectful and derogatory photos that made me feel very uncomfortable. Some of these girls, I even knew personally which made it even more difficult to deal with. When I told him I found the photos, he immediately felt embarrassed and deleted everything. We argued and fought for months about this, and I almost moved out. He continuously said that he had no emotional attachment with any of these girls, and only cared about me. But this was something that I could not understand, and still have a hard time to this day if I come across something similar.
-In 2015, I had another difficult discovery...it was around this time where I finally began to feel very numb. We had planned a romantic evening and I was looking forward to it all day. He came home from work, we had dinner and chatted about our day. He went into the shower afterwards, and I couldn't help but check his phone. Long story short, I found a secret instagram account where he was using a whole other identity to talk to women and masturbate to their photos. For the first time, I had no emotions at all and didn't even feel like confronting him. He came back, initiated sex, and we had sex that night. I was nearly a dead corpse laying there. The instagram account did end up coming to the light after a couple weeks and we had broken up then. It took us a year to get back into a relationship after that one.

The Need for Immediate Gratification
-I have experienced my partner go through this many, many, many times. Hence all of the moments of discovery... Up until 2018, he did not care about anything or anyone in the moment and only cared about fulfilling his needs with porn. The only thing that has changed since 2018, is that I have allowed photos and videos of myself to be used for his "alone time". We have a laptop that cannot connect to the internet, so he has stored all of my photos and videos there and uses it daily. I am fine with him OCASSIONALLY using my photos/videos, but he seems to go through compulsive masturbation on a daily basis which I am not okay with at all.

The All or Nothing Perception
-This one is also a big one for my partner. He wants things to be perfect, or non existent. For example, our relationship. If our relationship has some issues, then he thinks that we are not a good fit for each other. Outside of the addiction, we do not have many issues. We work great together financially, and consider ourselves to be best friends. But when his addictions begins to play a part in our relationship again, he decides that he needs to leave and break up. I know most of it revolves around him not wanting to hurt me, but I wish he could understand that him leaving would hurt more.
-He is also this way when it comes to hobbies/interests. We share quite a bit of interests to be a healthy and fun couple, but since I do not share his interest of, lets say, wrestling, then I may not be "the one" for him. He doesn't know how to see the bigger picture all of the time, and I am a very optimistic individual who always looks at the overall picture.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:37 am 
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Exercise 7:

A. Consider the role that you have played in your partner's recovery to date. In the field below, describe these roles as they relate to:

I. Effective communication - Up until a couple months ago, our communication was very bad. Over the span of 8 years, we have built horrible communication skills and they are mainly due to his addiction. He never wants to talk to me about his addiction, so whenever I would try to talk to him calmly, or confront him upon multiple moments of discovery, or ask him to change, he would always become defensive, which would lead us to have a fight with no resolution. I can be a very emotional person which does not help our communication because he prefers to talk to me when I am calm. He prefers to set aside time and talk about things, but if I come across a discovery pertaining to his addiction, I don't have it in me to be fake and wait. I tend to confront him right away and keep my cool until he gets defensive which happens immediately after hearing me out, or seeing my text about the discovery. Since we have started this recovery program, I have been doing my best to change how I approach him with heavy topics. I try to take out time to think through my feelings and process what happened alone, without involving him. Even if that means locking myself in the bathroom for 15 minutes. I then think of how I am going to approach him and what I am going to say. Since he prefers that we set out time, I will let him know that I need to talk to him and to let me know when is a good time for him. This allows him time to be mentally prepared and to let his guard down a bit to consider my side and my feelings. We talk about what happened, and then find a way to move forward with quality time spent together.

II. Managing your partner's recovery- For the past 6 years, I have put up monitoring software on his laptop and his phone. He is very aware of this as I never went behind his back to do this. Does he like it? Nope. Does he understand this is the only way I find out the truth and that it is the only way our relationship has survived this long? Yes. Do we both want this to change? Yes. I actually had a talk with him this morning where I told him that I am going to wean off of the monitoring as long as he can work on being upfront and honest with me. He said he would try so we shall see. I don't want to be in this type of relationship for the rest of my life, so change needs to happen or I may need to leave to save my own mental health.

III. Empowering/disempowering a pursuit of health - I have always supported my partner to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

B. Consider the focus and attention that has been offered to your partner in recovery; are you gaining equal resource to heal your own wounds? If not, what can you do to ensure that your healing is considered every bit as important as your partner's recovery?

- Yes, I try to stay consistent with my healing path and do a few lessons a week. I have continued to follow through with my values. This weekend I will be spending more time with my mother because it is her birthday on Sunday. I informed my partner that I need some time alone with my family, and we agreed to make plans with our own families this weekend. One of my values is healthy space, even if that means it will be for half a day, or a full weekend. I plan to put my hobbies, and career in the forefront along with this relationship and balance my time evenly in all of the things I enjoy doing that have been neglected since I have known my partner.

C. (optional) For those who have made the decision to either stay in the relationship or "wait and see", considering the roles discussed in this lesson (or additional roles that you have thought of), what changes might you consider making to your relationship that would increase its chances for success?
- I will make sure that we start praying together.
- I will work on better communication with my partner so we can create a safe environment to speak in.
- I will not manage my partners recovery, but communicate with him and provide positive feedback.
- I will respect myself, my values, and my boundaries and let them be known to my partner so he can learn to respect them.
- I will be aware if I notice my partner trying to use our sexual intimacy to replace his addiction.
- I will remain calm at all times and use self-control to not let my anger or frustration get the best of me.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 2:14 pm 
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Exercise 8:

"If you were to identify three issues relating to your partner's recovery that you would like to see changed, what would they be?"

1) His lack of communication about his feelings- both good and bad. He does not bring up anything by himself until I ask. And at times, even when I ask, he is still very closed off. I have been working on my communication styles and become more calm and logical, without getting emotional(and he knows this since he has acknowledged the changes), but he still chooses to not be open with me.

2) Since we started this workshop in September, he has admitted to me about relapsing 12 times total. My concern is if whether these relapses are the "healthy" part of recovery, or if this is him trying to have his cake and eat it too - as in tell me he is doing the recovery path, and still choosing to actively engage in his compulsive behavior.

3) A few of the values he has shared with me are concerning for me in terms of a long term relationship. I would hope that he has a chance to learn and revamp his values and choose healthy ones, rather than those that pertain to his compulsive behavior. For example, I do not want him to use me to replace his addiction. He has admitted to using me as a masturbation tool for 8 years now and I have mixed feelings about it. I don't mind him using my photos, but only if it is in a healthy way and not used to replace his porn addiction. I am thinking of setting aside time with him to have a more in depth conversation about this matter so that I do not feel used, or disrespected.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 3:17 pm 
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Exercise 9:

A. What are the key signs that you have observed in your partner that lead you to believe that he/she is engaged in a healthy recovery?
- To do the recovery lessons, he uses the main computer by the kitchen, so in passing I usually see when he is working on his lessons and activities. I think he does this on purpose to assure me that he is working on it and being consistent on his own terms.
- We are doing the Couples Workshop so when we finished Stage 1, we agreed to work on our own recovery and healing paths and to keep the other updated every now and then on how far we have gotten with the lessons. It helps keep each other accountable on keeping up with them and not straying away. I am glad that he chooses to at least communicate to me that he is working on his path.

B. What are the key signs that you have observed in your partner that lead you to believe that he/she is NOT engaged in a healthy recovery?
- Even though he is in recovery, he has relapsed about 12 times from what he has told me. I understand that he is going through the recovery, so relapse is expected to some degree. My main concern with the relapse is how he is choosing to go about it, and how hard he is trying to refrain from giving into his compulsive behavior. I hope that the relapses stop, but I am also trying to be realistic, along with trusting the process.

C. How have you communicated your observations to your partner? Have you communicated the healthy observations as well as the unhealthy? How has your partner responded?
- I have communicated to my partner that he should just keep me updated on his journey and if at any point he feels overwhelmed, that my door is open to talk and discuss feelings, emotions, etc.
- I have used the role model technique and kept him updated on my own path. I let him know that I need some alone time to do a lesson or exercise, and he has started doing the same thing. I also let him know if some particular lesson was difficult or insightful. It usually opens a convo where he chooses to let me know something about his recent lesson, or exercise.
- We still need to set aside time to talk about the relapses so I can understand his intentions with it and how he plans to go about this going forward.


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