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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 7:52 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
This is a thread about recovery from my partner's damaging porn habit

Exercise 1
My husband began watching internet porn in the late 1990s, when we were first connected to the internet at home. From that point onwards our sexual relationship suffered although it was subtle at first. I discovered porn in his internet history during the first week or so. I could accept the initial curiosity but I didn’t expect that it would become a regular habit, nor could I have predicted the catastrophic effects on our relationship.

A few years later, his interest in having sex with me had fallen away to almost none at all. I would sometimes initiate sex but he would either lose his erection or couldn't ejaculate. Sometimes there would be no response and no interest. I believed that he no longer found me attractive to the extent that he didn’t want any sexual intimacy with me whatsoever. No woman can take this kind of rejection over and over. Sex became a negative and soul destroying experience for me and I lost all desire for sex. The result was that we had no sexual relationship whatsoever for the next 7-8 years.

After 15 years of feeling powerless over the situation and perhaps 7 or 8 years without any physical intimacy at all, my self esteem was non existent. I genuinely believed that he had no sexual interest in me whatsoever. I felt unwanted and unattractive. I thought I was too old and too ugly in his eyes. His lack of sexual interest and loss of erection and ejaculation during the last several times we had made love convinced me that he had no longer had sexual feelings towards me I felt that if I wanted to stay in this relationship I had to put up with his porn use regardless of my feelings about it. I realise now what an unhealthy attitude this was.

About 6 months ago, I had a feeling that something “wasn’t right”. I had sensed a change in him over the previous year or so. I don’t know what, I don’t know why, but something pushed me over the edge. One day I looked in the mirror and cried at my reflection. I was a shell of the woman I used to be. I was in utter despair and crying uncontrollably. He was shocked to find me in such a depressed and near suicidal state when he returned home from work. It was some days later when I told him my feelings about his porn use and what it had done to me. That was when he said he was going to quit porn.

The weeks and months after he quit porn and after I had reached my lowest ebb were more traumatic than I could have ever imagined. It was only then that I learned the extent of his porn use and how easily he could lie to me about it. He also admitted that prior to being able to access internet porn, he had also been visiting strip bars.

6 months on, I am certain he has quit the porn habit. He feels great shame for the destructive effects of his behviour on me and on our relationship but I fear that his shame is is getting in the way or our recovery as a couple. Communication remains difficult, as ‘hiding’ his true thoughts and feelings is such an ingrained part of his character. He still uses anger to avoid communication, or at least it seems that way to me. My own reactions to his behaviour have been less than perfect at times. I have responded in anger out of fear of losing him, out of anger at his behaviour and out of frustration at his lying.

Physical intimacy is difficult for me because I still have lingering issues with poor body image and intrusive thoughts about his porn viewing when I am undressed in front of him. I still feel uncomfortable with my sexuality because I closed down my sexual feelings after rejection became a way of life.

His porn habit just about destroyed my sense of self-worth and and my identity, but I am working on it. On most days, I no longer feel as threatened by pornography and sexual imagery. I no longer believe that I require his approval to feel attractive. I still feel upset at times when I think about his past behaviour. I still have bad days when I feel a lot of anger towards him for the way he treated me and for allowing himself to become just another a brainwashed puppet. There are days when I still feel insecure about my body and my sexuality. I know there are still difficult times ahead. I’m desperately trying to put the focus on my own recovery, and not his.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 8:01 pm 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 671
Blue In Paradise - Welcome to Recovery Nation. I am sorry you need to be here, but this is a healing place to be. I, and the other partners, truly understand and know the pain you are in. We know about the damage to our self esteem.

I am relieved you have started the lessons. They were immensely helpful to me. The partners community forum is also very supportive. Feel free to read and post there. In my case, I also found a therapist who was a specialist in recovery from trauma and who was familiar with sex addiction.

I’m desperately trying to put the focus on my own recovery, and not his.

Yes, I know, we know, how hard it is to focus on our own healing and not on our partners. It takes time. I had to learn to be patient with myself. I had to give myself permission to muddle, to not know, to take time to heal. Detachment from our partner's addiction and recovery is so helpful in order to feel better. But, I know it is hard to do.

But, we can heal. You can heal. You deserve it. You deserve to feel good about yourself, to feel joy, serenity, confidence.

With deep compassion,

PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:04 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Thank you very much, dnell. Your comments are appreciated. Over the recent months I have been struck by the numbers of partners reporting the same experience, the same trauma, the same doubts and fears. I also recognise that our needs are quite complex, but ultimately it's our self esteem that is destroyed, and in so many ways. It takes a long time to realise the damage that not just what the addicti's behaviour has done to our sense of self but the unhealthy thinking patterns that we develop without realising. I'm hoping that I can heal and rebuild my life through following these lessons.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:21 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Lesson 2 - Reclaiming Your Life

I. The Real Me
My most remarkable trait is my tenacity and determination. Throughout my life I have overcome adversity in its many guises and it is with experience and insight that I begin to rebuild my life once more and allow my core self to thrive.

I bring creativity into every aspect of my life. I am an artist. I am driven by instinct to make art. I paint. I draw. I take photographs. Every day, I create and re-create, from the look I throw together when I decide what I'm going to wear to the recipes that I invent, from the ideas that come to me out of the blue to the novels that read and take time to reflect on – in every moment there is an opportunity to experience life through new eyes. My mind is open to the ideas and perspectives of others, whether through their art, their writing, their musicianship or from just enjoying the company of friends. Life can be inspiring and sustaining even throughout the difficult times
– or perhaps I should say especially at the difficult times. I always have art, and art takes care of me. I share the art I create with the ones I care about most. I'm even referred to as "the cool one" by the younger members of the family – because I never lose that drive to explore, interpret and express. This is how I live, and this is my legacy to them.

I cherish my friendships. I'm fiercely loyal. I believe in being fair and just. I hate injustice. I hate to see people misuse their power and take advantage of those who are vulnerable. I despise animal cruelty. My beliefs have remained constant throughout my life. I like to think of myself as a caring person who treats others with respect.

II. My vision
My vision is to live well and in accordance with my beliefs. I see myself practicing good self-care - getting enough sleep and rest, eating healthy and nutritious food and becoming more physically active. I see myself incorporating relaxation and meditation into my daily routine. I also see myself learning the skills of mindfulness. I see myself as a woman who dresses with style and confidence. I see myself making art, learning and refining my skills and always open to new ideas. I see myself reading books that nourish the mind and soul, whether contemporary fiction, biography or philosophy. I see myself as someone who fills her heart with music and who allows herself to dance as if no one is watching. I see myself visiting galleries, bookstores and anywhere else where the ideas and visions of others abound. I see myself as a woman who is not afraid to embrace her sexuality and who experiences sensual pleasure which she may share with a partner or enjoy alone. Above all, I see myself as someone who loves to share her world with her cherished friends and loved ones.

A. Is It Practical or Idealistic?
My vision is about doing activities that take place in the real world. Although I've done just about every activity before I'm aware that I'm always re-creating in a different way. As I said, art takes care of me. There's always a different way of looking at life, and that's what makes the difference. Self-care is always practical and the rewards are tangible. Like every other human being on the planet I'm perfectly imperfect. Bad habits like staying up to late can sabotage the good work. I can't let that happen. It's too easy not to try, but I know that I miss too much of life if I don't.

B. Is My Vision Capable Of Sustaining A Healthy Life?
My vision is a healthy one although I admit that the aftermath of my partner's porn addiction has thrown me out of balance for too long. My journaling stopped. I had no emotional energy left for creating art. I wasn't looking after myself as well as I should. I was existing, not living. My vision is a return to the activities and values that defined me. Too much energy has been diverted into hypervigilance and soul-searching, and that is no longer sustainable. He has quit porn and is aware of why he became addicted. He is also aware of the destructive effects on our relationship. That's all I can realistically expect. I can't control his behaviour and I can't control what decisions he makes in the future. I can only choose my own behaviour and work towards the future I'd like. I believe that the future I have envisioned will work for me. I'm also aware that too much focus on being 'damaged goods' might inadvertently keep me stuck in a 'wounded' role when I really need to do the hard work of rebuilding my life. It's only through writing this out that I can see that holding on to feeling hurt/wounded/broken looks a lot like procrastination... hmm, that's given me something to ponder now! So, on that note I will stop writing and get on with the business of re-establishing good lifestyle habits.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:18 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
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).

About 12-18 months into our relationship I had a feeling that 'something' wasn't quite right but I couldn't say what. I hadn't connected this feeling of unease to one occasion in our first few months together when he 'stayed with a friend' after a party. I presumed it was a male friend. It turned out it was a female ‘friend’. He lied at first, telling me he'd slept in the living room but my gut instinct didn’t believe him. I kept on asking him about the parts of the story that didn’t add up. He kept on saying “trust me” and then lie. My gut was right though. He said he spent the night sharing a bed with the woman but 'nothing happened' which was his way of denying penetrative sex. In retrospect I doubt that very much. He’s never said “trust me” ever since. When he spent the night with this woman it was very early on in our relationship and we hadn’t quite agreed that we were a couple. That was the only mitigating factor as far as I was concerned. Had I known I may well have ended the relationship and taken a job abroad. My life might have been very different.

I had no reason to suspect any kind of infidelity since that time, but last year my gut was alerting me to something being very “off”. I was aware that he was using porn to the extent that we were no longer having a sexual relationship of any kind. There was nothing I could do about it either. He was an addict. Even so, I sensed a change in our relationship. Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t say what. I asked him outright if he had been unfaithful to me. He couldn't give me a straight answer. At first he just have a nervous laugh. Then he started asking me questions like who with, and when, as if it was up to me to provide him with a list of names or whatever. And then he acted as if I had said something outrageous, how could I even say such a thing, etc. All the classic signs of lying. He never said at any time 'no, I have not been unfaithful'. Six months later he is telling me he could never be unfaithful but in that period of time I have also learned that he can look me in the eye and tell an outright lie. My gut alerted me to something but I don’t know what.

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.

Perhaps my head and heart has been overruling my gut feelings for many years. Or that my partner is so careful and so clever to avoid doing anything that might arouse suspicion. The truth is, my gut failed to detect when things weren’t quite right. My gut didn’t pick up on anything untoward when he was visiting strip bars. It was only years later when he admitted that he had been going to such places that I could perhaps identify some clues - like changes to routines that seem plausible (the train was delayed, etc).

When I had my suspicions of something not being ‘right’ last year, he was taking more interest in his appearance for work whereas before he took no interest whatsoever, but I am certain that the woman for whom he was making this extra effort, and was about 30 years younger, was not interested in him at all. I also discovered that there was another female coworker that he seemed to be taking too much interest in, in the guise of "helping a friend". I thought she'd be the last person he'd be interested in. Now I'm not so sure. Is my gut alerting me to something or does my heart want him to be the faithful husband?

I have to consider that I may be blindsided by what I have not yet considered. I had no idea that he had any interest in watching strippers until after his porn addiction was out in the open. My gut is telling me that he has not revealed to true extent of his interest.

Experience has shown me that my gut, or my subconscious mind, has not alerted me to the signs and perhaps this is evidence enough that overruling my gut instincts has become as automatic to me as lying has become to my partner. I'm probably still unaware of things he's done but would never admit to. The result is I don't trust my own judgment.

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.

Secrecy, withdrawal and non-communication
Deleting internet history very deliberately and thoroughly
Evasiveness when answering questions
Displaying anger and defensiveness when I raise difficult subjects

I was not able to uncover very much evidence throughout his years of porn addiction because he was so clever and so thorough about concealing any evidence. There was no evidence that he had been watching strippers and I suspected nothing. I now know that he is prepared to lie to me without giving it a second thought. He seems to believe that if there is no evidence then no event took place. If I can’t prove it, he didn’t do it. And because he is so careful to conceal everything and say nothing, and lie if he has to, he knows he will evade detection. If all else fails, he will feign memory loss. He will also use anger as a way of avoiding difficult conversations.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:27 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Lesson 4
Part 1
My partner's values and positive qualities are:
He is diligent, hardworking and a responsible provider
He is caring, considerate, principled and fair
He has always been supportive and encouraging towards me
He is creative and has a great appreciation of music, art and nature
He is interested in many things, he's very intelligent and learned.
He's good company and very witty.
He's also very loving and loyal.

Part 2
The qualities which could potentially create obstacles to the recovery of our relationship are:
His pride and stubbornness
His arrogance and conceit
The apparent ease with which he can lie, deceive and be evasive over critical issues
His passive aggressive traits
Becoming withdrawn and secretive
His defiance, particularly when asked to account for his own behavior
Two-faced and manipulative

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 5:02 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Lesson 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?

I manage stress in various ways, some positive and some less so. I find that the best ways to manage stress are also the better ways to manage my life, like going out for a short walk, perhaps with my camera, working on a creative project or reading a book. If my feelings are running high I find that writing allows me to express myself in a safe way. In the months following the exposure of my partner's porn addiction, the more positive ways of managing the stress were through stream-of-consciousness writing and seeking professional help. I also made a conscious effort to practice self-care with having manicures and replacing my old clothes – I had just about given up on these things. I read self books, not just about porn addiction but also self help books on confidence building. I took myself out for coffee for a change of scene and to be around other people. Later on, I began to return to my creative projects.

The negative ways I have dealt with stress including spending too much time escaping online instead of doing all the things that need to be done around the house; overspending on clothes and luxury items that I don't really need and sometimes overeating although this was not too critical as I had actually lost weight as my partners addiction progressed to the point of becoming clinically underweight, but there was a definite emotional component which I recognised at the time.

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.

Just taking the recent example of emotional eating, I knew I wasn't hungry. I was alone, I was feeling low, I was feeling confused because I just didn't know. I think that was the gist of it – confusion about what he had been doing, not being able to trust my own judgement, knowing that he lied to me, knowing what he watched and was turned on by, the feeling that my body type wasn't what he wanted, feelings of disgust towards him and despair about myself and my situation, fears that my instincts about his behavior were correct but never being able to know for sure. I suppose it became like a negative feedback loop. I needed something to make me feel good again or at least soothe my mind. So I would eat. And because it was all over in a matter of seconds – just one spoonful, I'd say – I still felt like shit. So I'd take another spoonful. The pleasure was so fleeting and short lived. So I'd take a third spoonful. Perhaps at the point of the fourth spoonful I'd say "That's enough. I'll have no appetite for my evening meal if I don't stop. Besides, it's not good for me." Sometimes I would bargain with myself, justifying my emotional eating because I need to put on a bit of weight anyway, but I knew this wasn't the best way to go about it. Interestingly, the focus shifted away from anxieties about the relationship to anxieties over eating.

If I hadn't indulged in emotional eating, I probably would have done something else. If I do something positive like go for a walk around the block, my mind would be distracted in a healthy way. The break from my surroundings and being in a different environment has broken the negative cycle on occasions. Making the decision to distract myself by doing something positive can be difficult or at least take a conscious effort. I'm not so aware of my emotions running their course naturally. There seems to be a need to actually do something else, even if it's late at night and my partner is asleep and I'm feeling alone, I've learned that one thing I can do is free writing, to get it out of my system. I have to do something. I can't just ruminate or torment myself with my own doubts and fears.

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?

If he was could manage his emotions in a healthy way, he might find time to take a walk and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature; he might listen to music and lose himself in it; he might develop the communication skills to say how he feels and ask for what he needs; he might eat better during the day when he is working and spend some time out of doors.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:50 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 6

I have read He Danced Alone in accordance with the program

B. 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.

My partner disguised his sexuality very effectively. He was very anti-discrimination and pro women's rights. He gave the impression that he was against the very behaviors that he was guilty of himself. The difference being that he did not actually express those attitudes at any time, not ever. He never actually spoke out against pornography or any other aspects of the sex trade. He started making visits to strip bars very early in our relationship but I had no idea he was even interested in going to those places. I only found out by accident, after d day, when I mentioned what I believed to be his only "history" of visiting such a place in his youth. He admitted to visiting strip bars at a time when he was feeling very low and our circumstances were difficult. Unfortunately it's one of those situations where there is no proof, only what he is prepared to admit to, and he won't admit to anything other than the bare minimum.

As soon as he could get online at home he started downloading porn. I found the evidence but he became very clever at deleting the evidence and hiding the files he saved. Even as a porn addict, he would speak out against all the sexualized images of celebrities and music videos, giving the impression he was against it all, but the truth was he'd be watching explicit versions of music videos, or movie scenes with nudity, or video clips of models in lingerie. His history has been of speaking out against all these "objectionable behaviors" yet there he was, guilty of what he was pointing the finger at.

Another thing he would do was to have the evidence in plain sight. He would even invite me to look at his computer, insisting there was nothing to find but he actually disguised the movies as word documents. I hadn't even mentioned porn. He was sort of pre-empting any risk I might look by saying "hey, there's nothing on my computer". He was actually very good at creating distractions and decoys. I actually wonder about many other things he's spoken out against. Just how much of it is what he believes and how much is what he is trying to disguise.

C. Of the four areas discussed in this lesson, which have you observed in your partner?

The Sexualised mind

Objecting to highly sexualised and suggestive imagery in the media although he couldn't resist it and was addicted to internet pornography.

Describing sex as "disgusting" and saying how he couldn't stand the thought of letting anyone near him or touch him, particularly when I asked him about any past infidelities.

Total absence of sex within the relationship after his porn addiction was established.

The Objectified Mind
Porn addiction and compulsively visiting strip bars are about objectifying women's bodies. Reducing people to body parts and physical characteristics and specifically seeking out particular porn genres or performers with very large breasts.

All Or Nothing Perception
This pattern of thinking is very characteristic of him, especially when it's in response to a stressful situation. He tends to catastrophise when he imagines something going wrong, no matter how unlikely the reality.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:59 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Lesson 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
II. Managing your partner's recovery
III. Empowering/disempowering a pursuit of health

We have both made efforts to improve communication about the problems in the relationship that may have contributed to the development of the addictive behavior and the difficulties that were created by it. My partner has spoken about his early life and has a greater understanding of why he has never felt able to share any difficult emotions and vulnerabilities. We both acknowledge that as his addiction progressed our communication began to suffer. I feel that I have always been more able and open to discussing sexual matters but my partner, despite his longstanding addiction to pornography, is actually very inhibited in that respect. He seems to have great difficulty in overcoming the shame and embarrassment about his behavior. Nevertheless we have both made a conscious decision to communicate better, even though it's difficult and often awkward, clumsy and sometimes highly charged with emotion.

I have made a deliberate effort NOT to manage my partner's recovery. I provided him with information about porn addiction very early on and he read it and understood it. This information has been critical in his understanding of addiction. I no longer check his computer. I realise it's up to him and I cannot control his behavior.

Initially I felt my partner held the balance of power. He was the one who acted out and only he knew the truth about his behavior. I was dependent on his account which was unreliable. I felt justified in combing through his computers and devices to find out a more accurate picture of his behavior.

My biggest difficulty has been with his lack of honesty. It is just as the article says: if in his might his explanation MIGHT be true and if he believes there is no proof, then he will lie. Even when there is proof, he will insist he has no memory of it. The result is that I never really know about the true extent of his behavior. I am now left with the quandary of whether to learn to live with the unknowns. Like the article says, I have my suspicions about other aspects of his behavior and I may well be correct. I am having difficulty with learning to live with having suspicions and having to accept the reality of never knowing for sure.

For the sake of the relationship, I have to learn to live with this new reality. The more time that passes, the less likely that he will ever admit to anything that I don't know already. We tend to talk more about the emotional effects of his behavior and our hopes for our future together. Perhaps I haven't reached the stage where letting go of my doubts and suspicions is empowering. Perhaps it will be one day.

I have felt more empowered by working on myself. Regardless of whether or not the relationship survives, or whether he relapses, or whether there will be any more traumatic discoveries in the future, I have to survive. I may be the partner of a porn addict, but I'm more than just that. That's why I'm working on who I am, what my values are and thinking about the person I want to be.

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?
There is no doubt that my recovery has also been every bit as important as his recovery. In some respects I feel that my recovery has been far more difficult. After all, I don't have a habit to quit and I wasn't even supposed to know about it in the first place. I have done everything I can to understand the theories of porn and sex addiction. I've read the articles and books, and it has been helpful in understanding that his behavior wasn't so much a rejection of me but a compulsive, repetitive behavior that was emotionally driven. There is not so much help for partners although I have been able to find books and websites. I also sought out professional support for myself. I have had to do a lot of work on myself. I didn't know what boundaries were. I couldn't really say what my values were. My self esteem and my entire sense of who I was, my identity, had gradually been eroded away. I coped with his addiction by turning a blind eye. In the end I had a depressive breakdown. That's when he quit in earnest although his addiction had become a private hell by this stage.

I have had to work out my own recovery by finding support and information wherever I could find it. I have worked on rebuilding myself and my own life. It took me several months at least to get past the initial trauma and the staggered discoveries and disclosures. During that time I did computer searches and looked for evidence and proof, and secretly monitored his internet history. I stopped that because I found it stressful and time consuming. I realised that it's his behavior, his choice, and I can't control it. I also realise that the "monitoring" mindset keeps me stuck in the problem, and not the solution. I take my recovery very seriously. I am always available to support my partner but I have learned through experience that, just as the article says, he doesn't have the emotional maturity to offer me much support. He has quit, and remains committed to be addiction-free. He takes his own recovery very seriously too.

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?

Taking time to communicate, sharing what we do during our day

Working out how to communicate over hot topics – we have not yet made the deliberate effort to work out our ground rules for difficult conversations

Encouraging the positive changes we see in each other

Spending time together doing things we enjoy

Re-establishing physical intimacy

For me — learning to deal with "not knowing" and resisting the urge to bring up my suspicions. Experience has taught me that this rarely brings about any progress and creates ongoing stalemate situations

Role modelling the changes that I want us both to experience – learning to communicate clearly, working on my own personal growth, and being true to my own values

Becoming a better listener

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 6:30 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Lesson 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 volatile responses on some occasions when I describe my own difficult feelings about certain aspects of his behavior.

2 Overcoming the shame about his past behavior and being able to talk more openly without being awkward and reluctant.

3 I would like him to acknowledge that I have my own sexual and emotional needs. The focus has been on meeting HIS physical sexual needs and frustrations without much consideration for my sexuality

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 7:07 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Lesson 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?

He has identified the underlying emotional triggers for his behavior. He has also recognised that his childhood experiences did not equip him with the skills to communicate his difficulties. He has changed his behavior patterns at his vulnerable times and has engaged in more meaningful activities. He is living in a far more emotionally healthy way, and has made many positive changes in his day-to-day life.

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?

He still has feelings of shame and guilt about his addictive behaviors. He still denies some aspects of his acting out. It is possible that he is still sexualising and objectifying women in public places. He still prefers me to control his access to the internet. He has a tendency towards emotional eating, and drinking alcohol to deal with stress.

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 acknowledged the changes that my partner has made in not only quitting porn but turning his life around. I try to be positive and encouraging. He seems to appreciate the reassurance that he's on the right track.

I have tried to encourage him to eat better and drink less. He has made his own efforts to eat better during his working day. He appreciates my gentle encouragement.

I have attempted to bring up the issue of objectifying women in public places but he tends to get mad at me if I mention it. The best way I can bring the issue to his attention is to explain to him from my own personal experience that this behavior can make a woman feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or even threatened. He seems to be more receptive if I explain the other side of the story, from a woman's perspective. I still find it difficult being out in public with him.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Lesson 10

Return to your vision created in Stage One; Lesson Two. Select the three most important values that you need right now to help you stabilize your life.

*I recognise that other than creative practice, I did not mention self care and learning. I am only just beginning to realise that not only did I have weak boundaries, my values were not properly developed so they were not easily identified. I had adapted my values to fit in with my husband's and I have tended to suppress my voice throughout our relationship whenever there have been areas of conflict or disagreement. We agree about most things, but his addictive/compulsive behavior has made me realise just how much I gave in to letting him behave as he wanted by turning a blind eye to his pornography use instead of saying " your behavior is hurting me". That is one example of how I would suppress my own needs in the belief that his were "more important". Until recently, as in the past few weeks, I didn't really know what my values were. I've had to go right back in time to before I met my husband to remember who I was and pick myself up from there.

My 3 most important values I need right now to stabilise my life are:

1. Self care
2. Creative practice
3. Learning and growing

B) For each, think about the meaning and fulfillment you are getting compared to the potential meaning and fulfillment available.

1. Self care is about reversing the self neglect that gradually set in as my partner's compulsive pornography habit progressed. Self care is about recognising that I have my own needs and reverses the internalised messages of being "not good enough". Until d day I was avoiding my reflection in the mirror; I was getting undressed in the bathroom because my husband would never raise an eyelash in the presence of my naked body; I rarely bought clothes because I would "dress down" to hide my body; I was neglecting my appearance because I believed that no matter what effort I made he wouldn't even notice.

I want feel good about being who I am. I want to be the one who is telling me "hey, you're looking good today". I don't need to seek anyone's approval or permission to feel good about being me. I want to eat well, sleep well, do some exercise and practice relaxation because being healthy on the inside is far more important than what I look like on the outside. I want to rediscover my dress sense and style which was once part of my identity but somehow became submerged as my self esteem crumbled away.

I want to reclaim my identity as a strong and confident woman, who's smart, well read, has diverse interests and thoughtful opinions. All of this starts with taking care of my core needs and taking time to do the things that build my very foundation.

2. My creative practice IS me. Art has always played a large role in my life, whether it's art-making or visiting galleries, or an interest to be shared with friends. Art is part of my identity. My creative practice gives my life meaning and purpose, as well as a way of structuring my day or my week.

After d day, my ability to create art vanished. My motivation was still there but whenever I made time to work on a project I'd experience intrusive and upsetting thoughts about my husband's addiction l had been traumatised and re-traumatised throughout the drip feed of discovery and I didn't have the peace of mind to allow me to create art.

Art making has the potential to transform my life. Art gives me a reason to explore and discover. Art takes me on unexpected journeys and introduces me to new ideas and ways of seeing. Art gives me insight into the human condition. Art gives me a reason to get out of my narrow and confined views of life and says "think about it this way…" Art inspires me to make art. Art never lets me down.

3. I have always loved to learn but since d day I have been forced into learning what I didn't really want to know. I've read a lot of books and articles about porn and sex addiction especially those written for partners in an effort to help my own recovery. I've also read about codependency and I've bought one book on confidence building.

Just as the information in this recovery program states, every minute I'm spending on reading about porn addiction and how to recover from it takes away valuable time and energy from the activities that give my life meaning. It also has the potential to keep me stuck in the broken" mindset which could become my identity if I don't spend time doing what truly gives meaning in my life.

I enjoy learning and there is much to learn about life and the human condition through literature and the arts. Learning is inspiring. Learning means opening my mind to different ideas and ways of experiencing life. My most significant breakthroughs in recovery have come about through reading and watching documentaries that had absolutely nothing to do with addiction or self help – a-ha moments where I was reminded of the person I once was.

Through self care, creativity and learning I am reconnecting with the person I once was and becoming who I want to be.

C) Develop a specific plan that will allow you to maximize the potential in each of those three values.

1. I am in the process of throwing out the old, worn out clothes that I have been wearing for years and replacing them with clothes that suit my style and make me feel good. I am also making time to have a regular skin care regime, manicures etc. I have established healthy eating habits. I will make time in the day for relaxation/meditation and make sure I get adequate sleep.
2. I intend to create art on most days of the week. It is important that I remain focused and disciplined, especially when it's so easy not to bother. I need to incorporate my creative practice in my daily routine. It doesn't matter what I do, as long as I get into the habit of doing something every day. The key habit is consistency. I need to map out a flexible and realistic plan of action so that I don't lose momentum.
3. I will continue to read, listen and watch what interests and inspires me. What inspires me also feeds into my creative practice and gives me interests that I can share with others.

D) List the steps you will take in the next 24 hours to begin strengthening each value.

1. I will eat a healthful lunch. I will go out for a walk. I will wash and style my hair.
2. I will clear my work table so I have space for my creative activities. I will take my sketchbook with me when I go out.
3. I will read my book at bedtime

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:12 am 
Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
Hello Blue in Paradise,

Excellent work with your lessons, so far! You are very thorough and insightful. While your vision is short, there is a lot of value within. This is a good start to what will become your foundation/road map for healing and for life.

Perhaps my head and heart has been overruling my gut feelings for many years. Or that my partner is so careful and so clever to avoid doing anything that might arouse suspicion.
Or a bit of both. No one expects their partner to lie to them, to be somewhere other than where they say they are, to go behind our backs. It is only now, with hindsight, that you might be able to put your finger on the subtle signs that something is amiss. Some people pick up on signals more readily, others are more trusting. Trust is a good thing. It is not your fault he abused your trust. I am sorry that you no longer trust your own judgement. This will come in time, as you work through the lessons and gain power through your vision and values.

Re qualities that could potentially create obstacles to recovery—you have identified some ways of being/behaviours that are symptomatic of addiction. As he transitions to health, you will see improvements in these areas (that is, as long as he is honest in his recovery and does not value these ways of being/behaviours).

Even as a porn addict, he would speak out against all the sexualized images of celebrities and music videos, giving the impression he was against it all, but the truth was he'd be watching explicit versions of music videos, or movie scenes with nudity, or video clips of models in lingerie. His history has been of speaking out against all these "objectionable behaviors" yet there he was, guilty of what he was pointing the finger at.
This “hyper-religiosity” is pretty common among persons with sex addition. Part of the chain of compulsivity is likely his own aversion to his behaviours, which would increase the intensity of acting out (shame and guilt increasing the “high”).

I have felt more empowered by working on myself. Regardless of whether or not the relationship survives, or whether he relapses, or whether there will be any more traumatic discoveries in the future, I have to survive. I may be the partner of a porn addict, but I'm more than just that. That's why I'm working on who I am, what my values are and thinking about the person I want to be.
Excellent news!

*I recognise that other than creative practice, I did not mention self care and learning. I am only just beginning to realise that not only did I have weak boundaries, my values were not properly developed so they were not easily identified.
You are not alone. The idea of living from critically thought out values and a developed vision, and using boundaries to protect one’s values is not widely shared (at least, it seems, not among this population). The silver lining of our experience with SA is that we are shown this, and now can do the work to develop our vision and values for ourselves-which you are. Again, very good work. What you get out of the workshop is relative to what you put into it-you will certainly benefit greatly.

Be well.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:22 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Thanks a lot, Coach Mel. Your reply has been just what I need to feel motivated to continue with the exercises. It's hard to feel motivated because these exercises can be so emotionally draining, but it's important to my recovery that I continue. Your comments on 'hyper religiosity' are very helpful. Even when discussing aspects of pornography, he describes it was being unpleasant, and 'disgusting' and 'revolting'. Yet he was hooked on it and using it to orgasm to. He was never into extreme porn, I can say that with confidence because of all the material I discovered, it was sexually explicit but it was not extreme.

It's very confusing for me as a partner to know what to make of his 'hyper religiosity'. He can't really talk about it because of his shame and guilt, and a sort of disgust as his own behavior. He was not brought up with any kind of faith or belief system. At one point he was almost a militant feminist but I suspect that was quite a good way to talk to women and convince them that he was a 'good guy', if I want to be cynical about it.

Thanks for your reply, it really has helped me. Sometimes it's hard doing things the self-help way. It helps to have another perspective from one who truly understands sex and porn addiction .Thank you.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:37 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Exercise 11
Write a letter to your partner, expressing all of the emotions that you have experienced as a result of their addiction. This is not intended to be a letter that he/she will read, but rather, a letter representing your most intense feelings.

I felt like I was the second choice to your porn habit. You went straight to internet porn at the first opportunity you could get, and very quickly you began to lose interest in having a sexual relationship with me.

I could handle it when I first discovered porn in your internet history, but after a few times I felt increasingly angry. You told me you would stop using porn but instead you became an expert at hiding and deleting the evidence. You protected your habit so that you could carry on. My feelings didn't seem to matter. Your access to porn mattered more, and that really hurt.

I used to think that you would grow bored with porn. I thought it would stop when you'd seen enough and that our sex life would carry on like it did before. I was very wrong. Your relationship with porn carried on and on whilst our sex life gradually ebbed away. The message was obvious. You didn't want me. You were not interested in me sexually any more. What could I do? My feelings didn't matter anyway.

Instead I would beg for the leftovers after you'd finished your weekend porn sessions. I had to initiate it every time. When you stopped touching my breasts during lovemaking, when the only way for you to reach orgasm was when I had my back to you – at your request, when you would lose your erection and were unable to finish, when I tried to initiate physical contact only to find you had no response, when you told me you were too tired for sex again, when all the compliments stopped, when I realised that you hadn't initiated sex for years and that it was always me who had to, when being turned down was predictable response, my very core was being eroded to dust. Yet I would still see that closed door that told me you were out on the computer looking at porn and masturbating. I felt that I couldn't do it for you any more but your interest in porn continued unabated. I felt like discarded trash. I felt disposed of. I felt that I had outlived my usefulness as your sexual partner.

I tried to rationalise what was going on by telling myself it was my age and nature was taking its course. I even thought it probably happened to every woman once they reached about 40. Then I would read articles in magazines that women of my where enjoying an active sex life and for some it was better than it had ever been. My reality was very different. I didn't have sex at all. My own husband didn't even want me.

The worst part of all was that I internalised my distorted thoughts and negative beliefs about myself. I was too old, too unattractive, and I had my "proof" by the way my husband had opted out of our sex life.

I don't know how I held it together. I just hoped and prayed that you would stop at porn and want nothing else. I could no longer see myself as a sexual being. I had no interest in sex. My thoughts of sex had been tainted by rejection. Masturbation became a lonely, miserable experience that reminded me that my sexuality was redundant, so I lost interest in that too. My subconscious mind protected me from this emotional pain by switching off my sex drive. I thought I would be OK if I pretended it didn't matter.

The best I could hope for was that porn would be enough for you. If you weren't interested in having a sexual relationship with me, then I'd rather it was porn than having sex with other women. It hurt that you didn't want me.

About 6 months or before d day I had gnawing doubts about your fidelity. All I had to go on was your increasing distance from me. There were no obvious clues. Just an odd feeling. Had the time come when porn was no longer enough? It was 7-8 years since we'd had sex. So I asked you outright. Had you been unfaithful to me? I didn't get a straight answer. You tried every way you could to actually avoid saying "no, I haven't been unfaithful" from nervous laughter to you asking me about who or when, and then you became angry with your moral outrage. How dare I ask such a question? End of discussion. Classic lying techniques.

I only managed another six months before I cracked. I could not take it any more. I knew about the porn but I feared that you had become interested in having sexual activity with other women, and that if it hadn't already happened already, it was going to happen soon.

At that stage, my self esteem was on the floor. I hated my reflection in the mirror. I saw an ugly shell of the woman I once was. I hadn't been able to dress or undress in front of you for years because every time I did I was reminded you no longer looked at me and it felt like being rejected all over again. I had no sense of self worth. To me, the evidence was staring me in the face. You'd be on the computer looking at porn and I'd know by the closed door. Shutting me out, quite literally. You hadn't shown any interest in me for years. When I looked in the mirror I only saw why you wouldn't want me. I thought I had all the proof I needed. I believed it was only a matter of time before my fears would be realised and my life would really fall apart. And there was nothing I could do.

All those years of pent up hurt and anger at being rejected and replaced by porn came pouring out. I told you how I felt like nothing, that I felt I was worth less than pixels on a screen. You agreed to quit. And so the difficult journey of recovery began. Repairing our relationship. Repairing ourselves.

Since then I have been through the gamut of emotion. From anger and rage at being lied to. From the visceral reaction I felt when I uncovered your porn videos, to the disgust I felt when I thought of your porn addicted persona touching me intimately, to the fear of your extreme anger whenever I asked any questions about your porn habits. I felt that I had spent many years deluding myself, that all the years I spent believing I was this desirable woman with a beautiful body that you took great delight in. It was as if our past was a fraud and that you were an actor. I have been taken on a very painful journey which was not of my choosing. I am still confused as to how to find my way back from there.

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