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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:44 am 
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Exercise 25
1. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the Health Monitoring area of the Partner's Manager.

This section seems to be no longer available.

2. Prior to the discovery of your partner's addiction, how did you two monitor each other's relative health relating to fulfillment, stability, balance, etc.

Talking
Sharing interests
Giving each other our own space to pursue our own interests (although this also allowed opportunity for acting out)
Being sensitive to each other's moods and feelings


3. What objective signs would you look for in identifying when your life is not being managed well?

Going to bed too late
Not sleeping well
Comfort eating
Neglecting my self care
Not looking after my appearance
Spending too much time online
Overspending


4. What objective signs would you look for in identifying when your partner's life is not being managed well?

Overeating
Excessive gaming
Not actively pursuing interests and hobbies
Irritability and impatience
Highly critical of coworkers
Aggressive tone in conversation
No interest in sexual intimacy
Emotionally withdrawn and distant
Watching TV aimlessly
Non communication
Secrecy and omission – but impossible to detect when things are being kept from me
Boredom
Defensiveness


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:18 am 
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Exercise 26
Daily Monitoring exercise

I have completed 30 days of daily monitoring. Here is the summary of my observations.

1. For the most, part I believe that I have taken full responsibility for managing my own life. However, towards the end of this period I made some interesting observations:

2. Most of the time I believed I was living in accordance to my vision, but there were a few glaringly obvious omissions that were 'invisible'. Staying up too late (not getting enough sleep and resulting in my next day being more difficult to get through) and low level emotional eating (too 'insignificant to register) were the most constant negative and self sabotaging behaviours. On a positive note, I resisted much of the temptation to snoop and found it extremely liberating to let go. Overall I did fairly to live in harmony with the values I believe in and aspire to.

3. My boundaries were respected almost all of the time. On occasion I felt that my boundaries had been violated by thoughtless comments and 'jokes' but I was unable to say how my boundaries were transgressed. There were also doubts about secrecy and omissions, if only in the realisation that my boundaries could be violated in my ignorance. I did not experience any serious or overt violations of my boundaries.

4. I realised that I was not so good at taking time to care for and nurture myself. I had to remind myself to do things just for myself. I recognised that self care was a great antidote to the various stresses of being a couple in recovery and I recognise how important it is to incorporate a variety of 'feel good' activities to my daily routine wherever I can.

5. I was fairly good at incorporating meaningful activities in my daily routine. Many times these were shared activities but I also made time just for myself to do things I enjoy and give meaning in my life. I realise that I need to make sure I continue to seek out opportunities to explore my interests and share them at times with others - not always, but sometimes it's good to share interests and listen to the ideas and perspectives of others

6. For this item I chose to pursue creative projects but this was much more difficult than I anticipated. About 3 weeks into the Daily Monitoring exercise, I learned that creativity can't happen when someone is in trauma, which explains why I just couldn't do anything after d day. Getting back into it has proven to be difficult. I also acknowledge that getting out of the regular routine and procrastination may also be factors here. This is definitely one area of my life and my recovery that I want to work on.

7. For this item I chose exercise and related activities that support my physical health. I did consistently well with a few days here and there when I didn't stick to my routine.

This exercise was very useful in getting me to focus on developing a more balanced lifestyle. Since d day I have focused so much on my own immediate recovery from the trauma, my partner's recovery from addiction, the recovery of my relationship, working on my self esteem and my body image, but not so much in terms of meaningful activities. I know I can't stay in the recovery position as a long term, sustainable way of life. It's like I've been in a convalescent/rehabilitation state for some time and I'm actually beginning to sense some of my previous interests re-emerge. Thoughts such as "I haven't been to _____ for such a long time" or "I used to really enjoy doing ____ " make me realise I've missed the old 'me'. I know I've been through a lot, I've had to come to terms with the reality of relationship and I've had a lot to learn — about addiction, the effects on partners, the porn industry, the sex trade — it's all been vitally important and I know I can't be complacent as long as I'm in a relationship with a recovering porn/sex addict but I can't build my life around the addiction. I need to rebuild a life that is built on positive and meaningful experiences.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:00 am 
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Exercise 27
Weekly monitoring - week 1

1. Over the past seven days I found meaning and fulfilment through the following activities:

I enjoyed painting and felt a sense of achievement by making time in my day to pursue my creative interests
I had a great time meeting up with a friend, we had great conversation and a lot of fun
I unexpectedly met an artist whose work I admire
I gave myself a massage with essential oils which made me feel good all day
I gave myself a manicure
I really enjoyed watching a documentary on TV related to creative practice; it brought back happy memories of going to a particular class some years ago that had a hugely positive influence on my life at that time

2. Over the past seven days, were there any major drains on my time, energy or emotion?

I had a dental appointment this week which needs more follow-up appointments

I had a misunderstanding/argument with my partner that resulted in not saying a word to each other for several hours. Although it was resolved, I felt that it could have been avoided by better communication in the first place.

My partner told me he has no libido. I don't know what to make of that in terms of recovery and/or the health of our relationship

3. Given the meaning that was added to my life this week (Q1) and the events that drained my life (Q2): how well did I do with managing it all?

On balance, my week had more positive and significant events than negative experiences.

When I had the misunderstanding with my partner I decided to take control and use those hours for self-care rather than be controlled by my feelings or passively reacting to whatever mood he was in.

As for his loss of libido, I listened without reacting. I accepted it as his truth. The following day I told him it was entirely his decision to tell me what was going on regarding his feelings, that I would not question or probe him for an explanation. If he wanted to be physical with me, not necessarily sexual, it would be his decision to let me know. I was not going to pressurise him. Since our d day, it's typically been me to say "I'm noticing something isn't quite right here" and initiate the conversation. On this occasion I did, but only to tell him that it's up to him to initiate physical intimacy (not necessarily sex) or to explain what's going on emotionally.

I see this as a kind of healthy detachment but I can also see how easy it could be to fall into the old patterns of separate lives, a sexless relationship and not communicating effectively. I have tried very hard to keep things going, to keep the channels of communication open. I've made things as easy as I can for him. What else can I do? I can't be forever living my life in reaction to whatever mood he's in. I need to recover my life and prioritise my own healing.

4. Is there anything that I need to anticipate and/or prepare for over the next seven days?

I don't have anything scheduled for this week, although that could change.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:40 am 
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Exercise 27 — Weekly Monitoring

Week 2

Over the past seven days, where did the majority of my meaning and fulfillment come from?

I started my week by giving myself a full body aromatherapy massage which ended with yoni massage. I felt wonderful throughout the rest of day from the sensual experience of being touched all over, as if by a lover.

I continued with my painting and enjoyed the playful experimentation of learning a new technique

I watched a video podcast about an artist whose paintings are on currently display at a gallery in my city. I love to learn and I feel inspired to go and see the exhibition soon.

I went out alone and bought some massage oils, nightwear and a book. Afterwards I went for coffee and enjoyed being part of the world.

I watched a feature length music video. I enjoyed the music and the visuals, but I became unexpectedly emotional and tearful at times as I recognised the themes of betrayal and hurt in the songs. I felt as if someone else was signing my experience. I found the experience to be intensely moving. I felt uplifted by the other themes of survival, tenacity and hope.

I had meaningful contact with a friend, sharing ideas, experiences and opinions. She reminds that I am still the curious, creative person I always have been.

2 Over the past seven days, were there any major drains on my time, energy or emotion?

We had about 3-4 difficult conversations and misunderstandings. I'm finding it difficult knowing whether or not I'm heard, whether I'm understood, whether my expectations and boundaries are reasonable. He can't get beyond his own defensiveness and I'm wondering how much of this is a barrier to progress.

I had to make an unexpected journey on business which was inconvenient enough to begin with, but there was some sort of incident with a lot of police activity so the traffic was at a standstill. I found the entire episode very tiring and stressful.

I had few bad nights when I didn't sleep well so the following days were very difficult and tiring. I have low moods if I don't sleep well.

3 Given the meaning that was added to my life this week (Q1) and the events that drained my life (Q2): how well did I do with managing it all?

Overall, I didn't feel like I was managing my life so well. On balance the positives were cancelled out by the negatives, specifically the recurrent misunderstandings which I suspect are maybe to do boundaries that have so far not been negotiated.

4 Is there anything that I need to anticipate and/or prepare for over the next seven days that will facilitate the effectiveness of my life management skills?

I have a dental appointment this week which I dislike because I am somewhat phobic and anxious about. I can take steps to ‘bookend’ the appointment with positive self care and nurturing activities.

I anticipate there will be more misunderstandings with my partner. All I can do is to try and understand what is going on but it's not easy when I'm doing my best by reading books and attempting to initiate conversations with someone whose catch-all solution to everything is to say nothing.

*I need to make efforts to overcome resistance and inertia to NOT doing meaningful activities for myself. It's too easy to put things off, to procrastinate and find other things to do that are typically mundane and meaningless. Doing the kinds of things that make life better requires effort and persistence and I'm now sensing my own inertia. (*I have only just realised, this as I write.)


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:16 pm 
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Week 3
1. Over the past seven days I found meaning and fulfilment through these activities:

Self massage As with last week I started my week by having a relaxing bath followed by a giving myself a full body massage with essential oils concluding with yoni massage. Not only do I experience the sensual pleasure of touch, self massage has become an essential part of reclaiming my body and my sexuality from the wilderness where of my partner’s porn/sex addiction.

I started an online course, intended as a leisure course, without the demands of serious study. I love to learn and open myself to new ways of seeing and thinking.

I cleaned my kitchen and tackled a few chores that were well overdue. This is about taking control over my environment which I know I need to address in order to feel that I am entitled to live in and enjoy my own home.

I listen to an album that I hadn't played for a long time, from beginning to end. I enjoyed hearing those old songs and it was also a connection to my past where I feel the real me has been stranded.

I attended my dental appointment which is more about taking responsibility for my health and wellbeing.

I ordered some new clothes online including a fall/winter jacket. I’ve had the same winter jacket for years and it’s dowdy and depressing. This jacket looks stylish and flattering as well as functional. I want to feel good when I step outside the house, not frumpy and miserable.

I watched a documentary on a painter who I didn’t know much about. Now I want to learn more and see his work for myself. Not only that, I want to use my sketchbook to express some of my own ideas were inspired after watching this documentary.

I had coffee and a small luxury chocolate bar at a coffee shop. Once again, I enjoyed being out alone and enjoying a feeling of independence, that this is my time to spend however I please.

I coped well with my dental appointment without too much anxiety. As before, I see this as taking care of my own health and wellbeing.

2. Over the past seven days, were there any major drains on my time, energy or emotion?

Sleep deprivation and fatigue. Too many late nights and not entirely sleep as a result. Has a negative impact on feeling motivated and able to do the things I want to do. My quality of life is diminished as a consequence.

Procrastination. I have not been consistent with my creative projects. As a consequence I have not been finding as much meaning and fulfilment in my creativity this week as I did in the previous week.

Misunderstandings with my partner. Nothing major but I have anxieties about how his recovery is progressing and I still have lingering feelings about his acting out in the past.


3 Given the meaning that was added to my life this week (Q1) and the events that drained my life (Q2): how well did I do with managing it all?

Overall, I believe that I have had more positive experiences than negative. I recognise the need to be proactive in challenging my tendency to procrastinate, particularly when it comes to the activities that were very much part of my core identity. I have only just realised that this is very much a post d-day mindset that started when I was traumatised by the staggered discovery process. I realise that the trauma stage has passed, and now I need to take deliberate action to re-establish better habits. I think that to recognise will be valuable in managing my own life from this point onwards.

4. Is there anything that I need to anticipate and/or prepare for over the next seven days that will facilitate the effectiveness of my life management skills?
My own procrastination is probably my biggest obstacle to overcome, and all the more difficult because it’s internally generated.

I have a telephone appointment with a therapist to discuss whether what what she can offer matches my needs with regard to her couples program. I know need to be able to assert my own needs and ask that my own boundaries, values and beliefs are respected if we decide on going ahead with face-to-face sessions.

I have another dental appointment and as before, I can ‘bookend’ the appointment by incorporating positive experiences before and afterwards.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:12 am 
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Exercise 27 Weekly Monitoring
Week 4

1. Over the past seven days the majority of my meaning and fulfilment came from:

Self massage. I am enjoying this regular date with myself and it’s becoming part of my weekly routine. It keeps me in touch with my own body (quite literally) and it’s an act of self love. On this occasion I included yoni massage but I decided not to continue to orgasm. I have mixed feelings about masturbation in the context of my sexual relationship with my partner. I don’t know whether to harness my sexual energies and bring it into the relationship or whether to enjoy my own body and experience sexual pleasure as an act of self love. The problem is that my relationship still has issues around sexual intimacy and for me I feel a certain degree of instability and uncertainty about it. I never know how much partner feels about it. Sometimes he shows no interest for weeks, then suddenly he’s interested again. In this context, I feel that it’s even more important for me to have a healthy relationship with my own body. I enjoy the sensuality of massage and when I do bring myself to orgasm it’s an act of self love.

My creative practice. I enjoy “being in the zone” of creativity. I'm still working to re-establish the daily/regular practice of art-making. It’s easy to find excuses and procrastinate, but when I do pursue my projects I feel not only a sense of achievement but a feeling of being on a journey. I know if I keep going, I’m building on what I’ve learned so far, and that by ‘doing’, new ideas and inspiration emerges.

Online course. I am continuing to keep up to date with my online learning. It’s a completely new area of academic inquiry for me, I’m challenging myself and I’m finding it inspiring, discovering new ways of seeing.

Buying new clothes. The weather is getting colder so I’ve invested in some new clothes that are not only suitable for the time of year but flattering of my figure. I have long legs and a slim waist, I have a “good figure”, so why on earth do I feel I have to hide or apologise just for being myself?? The insidious effect of my partner’s porn/sex addiction has been the dismantling of my self esteem, brick by brick. But now? I’m looking in the mirror and asking myself “how are you going to show the world how fabulous you are today?”

Reading. This past week I’ve read a wide range of books, fiction and non fiction. I’ve read a thriller. I’m reading tastefully restrained erotic fiction/romance, a nonfiction book about infidelity, and I’ve also lost the looked at some art books. Although I understand that the erotic fiction may be triggering, because I acknowledge that some people can read this as part of a love/fantasy addiction, it’s never been of any interest to my partner and hasn’t been part of his acting out, nor do I find it arousing in any way. It’s not actually all that interesting. I enjoyed the crime thriller much more, and the art books completely inspiring and filling me with enthusiasm to look and learn, and to make.

Podcasts. I discovered some podcasts featuring interviews with artists who I admire and who inspire. I feel that I’m actually getting back to the business of being me.

Friendship. I’ve been in touch with a very dear friend, sharing our ideas and enthusiasms, and planning to meet up and spend an afternoon out together.

2. Over the past seven days, the major drains on my time energy and emotion has come from:

Going away to visit relatives. It’s been disruptive and at times very stressful having to be with so many people. Mostly it was a positive experience and I enjoyed the company of others who I don’t see very often, but it was also draining.

Sleep disruption and low energy as a result. There are various reasons why, some unavoidable, some I could have more control over. Some of my sleep disruption is caused by feeling anxious about my husband’s behaviour and some of it is wanting to avoid him. Some of this is rooted in the past, or certainly my feelings about the past.

Remembering past experiences from early life. I have re-visited those experiences in the past week as a consequence to recent news stories. My past experiences inform why I am as I am—why I am against sexism, sexual harassment and predation, and why porn and the porn/sex addicted mindset hurts. I can’t understand how I could end up being in a relationship with an addict and not see it, and not even know it. Someone with expertise would probably find it obvious, but I never even saw it. Now I revisit my past. Perhaps it’s part of my healing.

3. Given the meaning that was added to my life this week (Q1) and the events that drained my life (Q2): how well did I do with managing it all?

On balance, I feel that this week has been positive.
I feel that doing the weekly monitoring exercise for the past 4-5 weeks has been extremely valuable in teaching me this evaluation process.

4. Is there anything that I need to anticipate and/or prepare for over the next seven days that will facilitate the effectiveness of my life management skills?Is there anything that I need to anticipate and/or prepare for over the next seven days that will facilitate the effectiveness of my life management skills?"

I feel the need to continue with the self care activities that I challenged myself to carry out during the past week. These were very little things that focused on making that little bit of extra effort in how I dress—picking out something I might have only justified wearing for a special occasion in the past, perhaps adding a touch of lipstick of jewelry that I already own. The special occasion is NOT the one that my partner comes home, notices that I’ve made the effort and tells me I’m beautiful. Yes, I did all that but he didn’t seem to notice. Or he did notice but said nothing. Was it all for him? I’ve learned that I can’t afford to think that way because it knocks me down when it backfires — and 9 times out of 10 it did. Perhaps I’m trying again but with a different outcome in mind. Of feeling good about myself — from within.

I’m also thinking of going a little futher with this idea, and make a little bit of extra effort with activities. Making a playlist of a few songs that I’m going to enjoy. Using a sketchbook/notebook/journal for the positives, for the inspirations, and using it for a few minutes every day. Making sure I read something about a subject I’m genuinely interested in — not recovery work, not addictions, not self help. This might be a little harder to do because of time and opportunity restraints, but it’s the importance of the little things that I must keep sight of.

I have also had the realisation that my partner has not been able to overcome his misplaced and inappropriate attention on young women, as I recently witnessed. I find it uncomfortable and disquieting as he did this in my presence at the weekend. Not with strangers but with the girlfriends of younger relatives who are now in their 20s. The most unsettling part is that he believes he is doing this undercover and without detection. Yet I am not shocked. It is how he is. I don’t like it. I know it goes no further than his own reverie and fantasy. How this behaviour makes me see myself, and where do I figure in his mind, I have no clue. This is where I am right now. I feel I’m at a threshold in my own healing. Do I go all out for myself, to love and care for myself? To be my own lover? To be the caring companion for myself, the one who pays me the right kind of attention, who nurture and encourages me? And can someone who gets high on the sight of a young woman over 30 years younger than himself and who objectified and fantasises in my presence be the one who’s going to be the partner I want? Is that someone who will make me feel good about being myself? Somehow I don’t think so. So I feel I’m going to have to make that bit more effort to love myself, at least for now.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:37 pm 
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Exercise 28

A) Make a list of objective signs that you would recognize in yourself that would indicate that you are not living a healthy, balanced life.

    Neglecting my self care
    Neglecting the activities and interests that give my life meaning and connection with like-minded others
    Obsessing over my partner’s behaviour, past and present
    Feeling very angry
    Feeling suspicious over my partner’s behaviour
    Feeling insecure and anxious
    Feeling of being controlled by my partner’s or someone else’s actions instead of feeling in control of my own life
    Feeing bad about my age, looks and/or appearance
    Feeling bad about my achievements and abilities
    Feeling insignificant
    Wanting approval from others

B) Taking your partner's current mindset, what areas (listed above) do you feel that he might be faking/holding back on? What areas do you think he is really putting forth a sincere, adequate effort?

I sense he is holding back/faking or otherwise lacking in the following:

    Honest and open communication remains an ongoing issue
    I often sense he controls and manages the potential for meaningful conversation by choosing his words very carefully and limiting the discussion
    He doesn’t spontaneously initiate the more difficult conversations about our relationship and our recovery
    He withholds information from me, doesn’t tell me about his day or his contact with family members. He isn’t completely honest with me if I ask him about relatively trivial matters.
    He masturbates secretly but expects me to believe he doesn’t
    He rarely asks me about my feelings about my own healing, our sexual relationship, my own sexual recovery, or my needs for physical and/or emotional intimacy
    I feel either sexually objectified when he is interested in sex or invisible when he is not, whereas other women never seem to be invisible.
    Objectifying women in my presence when we are out
    Obsessing about work and constantly complaining about it

He is making a sincere effort in the following areas:

    Developing healthier coping strategies
    Spending time on other activities including a renewed interest in reading, listening to music and playing his guitar.
    Making more effort to stay in touch with his family
    Eating more healthily
    Drinking less alcohol
    He makes a better effort to communicate although he has a tendency to revert to evasive tactics and blame-shifting under stress

C) Looking six months down the road and assuming that your partner transitions to a healthy life, what objective signs would you look for that might indicate that he is starting to struggle with sustaining a healthy, balanced life?

    Not eating properly
    Drinking too much alcohol
    Neglecting his interests and hobbies
    Depressed mood that doesn’t resolve
    Excessive complaining especially about work
    Obsessing over work
    Angry mood
    Avoidance of meaningful communication
    No interest in sex
    Masturbating in secret
    Not disclosing or lying about trivial things
    Ogling in public places
    Feeling ‘high’ in the presence of other women, or after meeting other women (in everyday work or family situations)
    Selfishness
    Overspending


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:41 am 
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Exercise 29

A. List three behaviors that you have engaged in since discovering your partner's addiction that you would now describe as destructive:

    Snooping and checking
    Spending
    Comfort eating

B. Pick one of the behaviors listed above and answer the following:
a) What decision-making process did you engage in before taking this action?
b) How did you feel just prior to taking this action?
c) How did you feel as you were actively engaged in this action?
d) How did you feel after you completed this action?


I have decided to address all three behaviours because I feel that each one describes a different experience of a desire to control or escape from an emotional dissonance

Snooping and checking
a) I decided that I would check my husband’s computers and devices for any evidence and information about his activities
b) I felt anxious and fearful of reality but I was also very angry with his lying, omissions, evasiveness, his “I don’t knows” and his “I can’t remembers”. I felt extremely frustrated at my lack of ability to find out what had been going on.
c) I felt focused and determined to find evidence, but upset at what I did find.
d) When I found nothing I was relieved, but not completely because I knew that he was thorough about not leaving any evidence.
When I found evidence I was distraught, both at the reality of his behaviour and the lies and deception that he used so that I would NOT discover the very thing I did. In some respects I felt powerful. In other respects I felt powerless.

a) I wanted to look good, sexy and stylish
b) Can I afford to spend this money? Do I really need it? But then, what do I have to lose? I imagine myself looking fantastic, turning heads and impressing my partner. And if he’s not impressed, maybe someone will. I’ll feel good in those clothes.
c) Nervous and anxious. What the hell? You only live once.
d) Was it worth it? These are just clothes, and I have plenty of clothes already. I feel ashamed at spending too much money on myself. I still feel invisible to my husband no matter how much effort I make. He never seems to notice, and if he does, he says nothing. So I hide my purchases from him, feeling ashamed of all the things the clothes represent — feeling good about my appearance, wanting to be noticed and appreciated, reinventing myself. Instead I feel anxiety and confusion.

a) the comfort eating was usually opportunist. I’d see something in the kitchen cupboard and want to eat. I’d weigh up the pros and cons. On occasions I chose not to, but often I would justify it by saying “I haven’t eaten that much today” or “I deserve this” in the sense that o felt I deserved care, love, attention, reassurance. I wanted to feel good and escape the demons in my head.
b) often beforehand I’d be in a state of emotional turmoil, anger and confusion. My feelings in the aftermath of addiction were getting me down, confusing me, firing up difficult feelings of distress, anger, confusion, despair, low self esteem, apathy about myself, my interests etc. I guess I wanted something to calm me down, comfort me, reassure me.
c) distracted and indulgent. “This tastes good”. My mind is no longer in a state of upset and turmoil.
d) “I shouldn’t have done that” My worries shift from anxieties about my body, my weight, the consequences of eating too much or an unbalanced diet. I know I’m comfort eating. I know I want a kind of motherly reassurance that isn’t there. I know it’s not good for me. So I start feeling bad about myself. But I also noticed one day that I’d used the compulsive eating pattern as a way to shift anxieties about my relationship and issues of deception, betrayal, fidelity, whether we have a future etc, on to anxieties about health, weight, appearance and sabotaging my appetite for the evening meal.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:13 am 
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Exercise 30

A. Identify the consequences that you are experiencing that may be reflective of a possible situational depression

Possible Symptoms of Depression that I am experiencing:

    Lack of motivation
    Neglecting my home
    Comfort eating
    Staying up late
    Poor body image
    Confused feelings about my sexuality
    Overspending
    Loss of identity
    Loss of purpose
    Mood swings

B. Identify how each depressive symptom may be affecting you in your ability to work through this major event in your life.

Lack of motivation — not doing activities that gave my life meaning before, like painting, drawing, photography, gallery visits; buying books and then not reading them or not finishing them; signing up for courses and not completing them.

Neglecting my home — a lot of unsorted clutter and untidiness; house not as clean as it used to be; home has become a miserable and depressing environment; repairs and simple maintenance not done. Neglecting finances — bills not paid on time incurring late payment fees; savings not properly managed; spending without thinking.

Comfort eating — low level emotional eating; eating slightly more than I should; not making healthy choices; risking health problems through an unbalanced diet; low mood as a consequence of emotional eating; ruining my appetite for the evening meal

Staying up late — insomnia and sleep deprivation; increased fatigue; less efficient the following day; poor concentration; limiting my quality of life because I’m too tired to do things; neglecting chores and recreational activities because I’m too tired; body clock out of sync

Poor body image — I blame my body for my husband’s addiction. I know this is an irrational belief but, for the 16 years which started with the discovery of my husband’s internet porn habit, I believed this so strongly that it appeared as a fact. It’s difficult for me to counter this belief. I feel self conscious. I still feel uncomfortable about my husband seeing me naked. I have lost sexual confidence. I fear being judged and compared, and found lacking. I fear that my husband wants young bodies with large breasts. and sees me as the consolation prize. Or that I am less than ideal and therefore disappointing.

Confusion about my sexuality — during my husband’s addiction my sexuality switched itself off. Emotionally I was numb. I had been rejected and replaced. We didn’t have any sexual contact whatsoever for 7-8 years before d day. It is difficult to come back from that very bleak, lonely place and be sexual again. I feel I can’t risk being so vulnerable again. I find it difficult to trust my husband. I hold back on fantasising about sex and wanting to bring that fantasy to the relationship because I fear his rejection. It brings back memories of his sexual apathy and indifference towards me. I can’t accept my sexuality and allow it to exist as it should because I fear rejection and humiliation. When I do allow myself to express myself sexually I still hold back. I’m actually afraid of my sexuality.

Overspending — I spend too much money on clothes and lingerie. It started when I decided to update my neglected wardrobe of ill fitting dowdy clothes that disguised my shape and made me asexual. My husband doesn’t care much for lingerie and even if I wear something new he says nothing. My clothes have been a source of conflict between us even though I’m spending my own money, not his. Sometimes I hide what I’ve bought. Sometimes I wear some of the clothes, especially lingerie, when he’s not at home as I feel this is my only opportunity to wear them. I know this is ridiculous but I feel upset that I’ve made the effort for him but he wasn’t interested or hardly noticed. Buying new clothes became part of recovering my self confidence and reclaiming my sexuality. I feel upset when I make the effort only to be met with indifference. It reminds me of his rejection and indifference when he was addicted. So I buy more to lift my mood and “reinvent” myself again. It costs money. It creates anxiety and tension. It makes me secretive. And I feel foolish. Foolish for trying, foolish for failing, foolish for spending money I don’t need to spend.

Loss of identity — who am I now? I believed in my marriage, I honoured my husband by taking on his name. Within months of our marriage he was addicted to internet pornography. I now see our marriage as a ménage à trois — me, him and his pornography habit. I know it goes back even further. The strippers came to light after d day. I felt utterly duped. After d day I just didn’t recognise my married name as ‘me’. I felt more like an unwanted pet than a person in my own right. Who am I now? I don’t feel comfortable about bearing his name. Sometimes I would rather honour my own name, that is, my father’s name anlll, than take on the name of a family of strangers. I feel disconnected from my roots, my heritage, my culture, my parents, my life history. I feel cut off from who I am.

Loss of purpose — after d day I really lost my way as all my mental energy and focus was diverted towards seeking and discovering the truth about my husband’s behaviour and trying to understand porn/sex addiction. The recovery and self discovery process has also used up a lot on my emotional energy. I have had very little energy left for the activities that gave my life meaning, specifically my creative practice and learning. I am interested but it’s difficult to sustain motivation. I start and stop. I process.

Mood swings — my emotions are still erratic although somewhat less volatile than in the early months and throughout the first year. Many issues remain unresolved. Do I really know the truth about what went on? I doubt it. I can accept that I don’t know everything but I also fear that I one day I might learn the ugly truth. It’s difficult to live with a in a relationship with built-in instability. My husband still lies/evades/omits and in some respects he has ‘reverted to type’ and returned to his tried-and-true communication patterns. These are also the same traits that allowed his addiction to thrive. It’s difficult to feel secure when there is a constant feeling of ‘not knowing’, and that the ‘not knowing’ is because someone has decided that I was/am not supposed to know. This, and all the emotional upset of trying to rebuild a relationship, of losing faith in my own judgement, plus all the other stressors in the background all contribute to my sometimes unpredictable moods of anger, despair, confusion. At other times my mood is stable and forward looking, but it’s a long time since I felt genuinely happy.

C. Identify the additional events/stressors in your life (unrelated to the addiction).

Additional Stressors That I am Having to Deal With:
    Ongoing dental work
    Medical appointments
    Illness
    Christmas
    Ageing pet that needs extra care
    Husband’s work-related stress


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:20 am 
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Exercise 30D
D. Write yourself a compassionate letter that emphasizes the reality of the situation that you face.

More than anything, this letter should represent a personal understanding that you are doing the best that you can, given the emotional and physical resources you have available to you. The focus of this letter is not on your partner's behavior, nor the consequences of that behavior. Instead, it is to focus on the reality of where you find yourself today — and where you are headed. The tone should be positive and written to yourself — as if you were the only one that will ever read it.


I have been through so much over the past two years. I admit that I am impressed by my determination to use this painful process to make a better life and a better relationship. I may have tripped and fell many times but I realise that healing is a process that takes time, learning, insight and communication. It has taken a lot of trial and error, and to my credit I have embraced these challenges.

I arrived at this wretched place after many, many years of feeling unwanted and undesirable. I was well aware of my husband’s pornography habit once we were connected to the internet but I had no idea that his behaviours went back before then. I only know about what I discovered on his computers and devices, and the few activities he disclosed voluntarily. I know there are lies. I suspect I may will know his truth. Sometimes I think that just asking the question is enough. Do I really want to know the truth when I suspect it could break me? This is the ambiguity I have learned to tolerate.

Everything I have been through has taken its toll on my emotional health and my moods. Sometimes it’s hard work and it’s always lonely. Sometimes I want comfort so I eat. Sometimes I want company so I spend too much time online, often staying up too late. Sometimes I want to be someone other than the mess I feel a lot of the time, so I overspend on clothes.

I want to be smart, I want to be sexy, I want to be liked, I want to be loved. I want to escape from those feelings of being unwanted, undesirable and sexless that I believed myself to be for many, many years. Sometimes I feel so alone in recovery, so overwhelmed by the enormity of trying to make sense of what happened, how it happened, how to heal, that I don’t always feel like trying some days.

Yet I know that it’s worth it. That the hard work will pay off. I know that by eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising sensibly will provide a strong foundation on which to rebuild my life and my relationship.

Eating well and keeping fit keeps me in good shape. Self care routines like looking after my skin, and taking care of my hair and nails send little messages to myself every day that I am worth it. Dressing with style makes me feel good.

I know there’s a long way to go, like taking care of my home and maybe making a few changes that signify a new beginning.

The trauma of d day and beyond drained me of my creative energies and so much emotion has been channeled into healing. My art making has been less of the priority it once was, yet this was what gave my life so much meaning in the past. I have tried then come to a standstill many times. It’s not easy. But I am trying, and I am still motivated to keep trying. I know the energy, the time, the space in my life, the willpower — it will all come back. It’s happening. It maybe slow but it’s definitely happening

I still feel somewhat disconnected from sex and from my sexuality. I realise that this is as much about personal healing as it is about the recovery of the relationship. I’m in a different life stage now. My sexuality has changed with age and the experience of being married to a porn addict who didn’t show any interest in having sex with me for years. My own shame sometimes blocks my compassionate mind. Of course it’s all been a huge blow and it happened over many years. I deserve to be able to take pleasure in my own body. I deserve to take care of all my physical needs including my sexual needs. In a perfect world I could share my sexuality in a mutually loving relationship — but that’s not my reality.

My relationship is wounded. It’s not the best place to heal. No matter how committed I am to my sexual relationship with my husband, he has his own issues with his sexuality. I know my own sexual healing is important to the relationship as well as to myself. There’s no need feel ‘bad’ about exploring my body and its physical, sexual responses to my own touch. I remember all those years when I couldn’t touch myself because any kind of sexual feelings made me feel sad because I associated sex with loss. I don’t want to experience that again. I’m keeping my sexuality alive and responsive. And if my sexual relationship was to fail in any way? I‘m having an affair with myself. I treat myself as I would want a lover to treat me.

I can only do my best. And I’m doing my best, trying to do what’s right for both of us. I might get it wrong despite my good intentions. I might find it overwhelmingly difficult at times. But I know I’m trying and I’m doing my best.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:14 pm 
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Exercise 31

A. Previously, you listed the consequences your partner's behavior has had on your life. Today, consider the consequences that your partner's behavior has had on your partner. What consequences of his/her actions has he/she had to face? List both the imposed consequences (i.e. from you, legal, etc.) and the natural consequences (lost respect, shame, etc.)

    Loss of sexual intimacy
    Loss of emotional intimacy
    Lost time
    Lost opportunities
    Loss of empathy
    Impaired communication
    Deception becoming ‘normal’
    Shame
    Humiliation
    Shock
    Realisation that his behaviour had destructive effects on each of us and our relationship
    Loss of identity
    Recognition of the secretive shadow side of his personality
    Erectile dysfunction

B. Review the list above, ensuring that you have made a complete and unbiased inventory of your partner's consequences. After this review, list below any additional consequences that you believe your partner needs to experience in accepting responsibility for their behavior.

Exposure of previously undisclosed behaviours
Aggression or open hostility in reaction to his ogling

The only thing that would jolt him into realising that his behaviours are/have been unacceptable is to have it pointed out by someone who has no interest in his wellbeing or his future. So far he believes he is protected by his secrecy and being covert, and the arrogant attitude that the targets of interest were/would be charmed by him and found/find his attentions flattering. He would actually need to be humiliated and exposed by a third party.

I would prefer him to disclose anything else so far kept secret by telling me himself but given our history since d day as he would be forced to confront the parts of himself he doesn’t want to acknowledge. As things are now, further disclosure seems unlikely. My acceptance of the unknown may be something I need to do to have closure on all that happened before d day.

C. In your own words, describe the roles that blame, punishment and/or responsibility have played in response to your partner's behavior.

I confronted my partner with the evidence I discovered. I wanted him to answer my questions. When he lied I became extremely angry. I called him names and I “shamed” him over his behaviour, I used words like “creep” and “pervert”. I set up traps whereby I’d ask a question that I already had the answer to, then exposed him as a liar. I admit these were unhealthy responses.

I had lived in a state of learned helplessness for many years and I my self esteem had been eroded to almost zero. His expression of remorse was the first time I felt I had any power in the relationship for years, and power over him. I wanted to leverage that power, to give voice to what I felt unable to express for years. I wanted him to feel my anger at what he did to me. I wanted to punish him for rejecting me. I wanted to ridicule him for the ridiculousness of masturbating to a computer screen — because I wanted him to feel as humiliated as I had done when he turned away from me.

At that time I also felt justified in accessing his computers and phones to search for evidence. I felt justified in interrogating him about his activities.

I was aware that my behaviour felt wrong but I didn’t have the knowledge of addiction that I do now, nor did I understand how his early life made him vulnerable to sexual addiction. I also recognised that my behaviour may have made things worse. My behaviour may have made honesty more difficult, and may have hindered the development of better communication, especially concerning sex and intimacy.

One very real problem is that my partner feels he cannot be open with me about sensitive issues concerning sex, sexual preferences and his previous behaviours is because of the possibility that I may have an emotional and volatile reaction. I would probably agree with this although I would also say that the emotions would subside and I would probably see the reality in a more dispassionate way.

My partner would have been reluctant to tell me things about himself anyway because of shame or fear of rejection. He still has difficulty talking about sexual issues. Talking about his sexuality which was expressed entirely outside of the relationship as his addiction progressed was extremely unlikely, if not impossible for him to do before d day. He disclosed very little.

It’s difficult to say whether I have made honesty and disclosure less likely because of my earlier upsets. It was traumatic for me to face up to reality although I was determined that I would as far as it was possible. My own emotions were running high and I was seeking stability through “truth finding”. The more I realised my husband was withholding the truth, the more emotionally volatile I became, making voluntary disclosure even less likely. The more I discovered and ‘proved’ my husband was dishonest, the more emotionally volatile he became. The long term effect of the staggered, post d day discovery stage brought a lot of important evidence to light, without which we could not rebuild our relationship, but it may have been at the cost of developing mature communication skills.

All I can do is to keep moving forward and hope that experience and maturity will prevail—for both of us.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:08 pm 
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Exercise 32
A. What patterns are you NOW ENGAGING IN that may be impeding the healing/recovery process? What unhealthy roles/thought patterns might you be holding onto?

I still check his browsing history at random or whenever I feel alerted to something not feeling quite right, although not obsessively. I’m also aware that there are many workarounds he could use to hide his browsing history so that any sense of control I may be seeking is futile. If I do check and don’t find anything untoward I’m aware that my actions have resulted in me feeling unsettled. I’m conscious that this is not healthy behaviour when I do it.

Questioning my partner about what he’s doing, who he’s in contact, etc, during the course of his working day or if he has been out without me.

I’m trying to hold on to some kind of power —the power I felt after d day when he was certain about quitting porn and re-dedicating himself to the relationship and to me. It was the only power I felt I had after years of invisibility and neglect. I’m desperate to avoid disappearing from his conscious mind. I guess I felt that I ceased to exist when he was acting out, and that I only figured insofar as making sure I didn’t know.

I don’t want to be fooled again and lied to. I’m wise to his previous behaviours now. I couldn’t rely on my intuition. After d day I realised I had lost faith in my own judgment. Checking etc is my way of catching him out before he thinks he can fool me all over. At the same time, one of the ways he kept me at such a distance from his behaviour was because he was very thorough at covering his tracks to avoid detection. So any kind of checking is inherently unreliable as he is an expert at hiding his activities.

I don’t want to be lied to again. I know his words were dishonest. I know he looked me in the eye and knowingly lied to me. I know he denied all knowledge of what the evidence pointed to. It’s hard to trust a liar. It’s hard to trust someone who will not disclose anything voluntarily. Hence the checking, questioning about his whereabouts etc.

Other unhealthy thought patterns:
My partner is fundamentally a dishonest person
My partner will never admit to relapsing if/when it happens
My partner’s inbuilt tendency is to turn away from me and seek gratification elsewhere
My partner has never disclosed the truth about his sexual history, and never will, even under pain of death.
My partner’s recovery is only partial and he doesn’t seem capable of true recovery

I am reduced to the role of undercover detective

B. Of these patterns/roles, what have you done/think you should do to change them?
If you did not relate to anything in this lesson, there is no need to respond to this exercise.

Stop checking
Stop the intrusive questioning
Work on developing communication skills with the help of a trained therapist
Role model the skills and qualities I’d like to see in him

Work on my own healing and self development
For now, use daily monitoring to check whether I’m living a balance life
(Re)develop my own interests
Take care of my own health and wellbeing
Take care of my appearance
Seek therapy for myself and for us as a couple

I also realise that I need to shake off a particular role/person’s mindset too. It’s almost as if I need to quit being the needy, childlike, dependent role. It’s like I’m giving up my power and taking on a kind of submissive, less adult position in the partnership. I realise that this dynamic is a hangover from the addiction years. As his sexual interest in me evaporated I guess I tried various strategies and settled into what was probably the least assertive, least demanding, least challenging way of being. It was a way of both avoiding conflict between us and belittling my own needs. I realise now that I need to take control over my own own personal choices. I call it finding my voice, being assertive.

There comes a time in recovery where I realise that I need to get out of the shadow-addict role. I don’t define this as codependency, but I acknowledge that over the course of many years of my husband’s addiction my own persona has become hobbled and shrunken. It’s a new insight. I’m only just beginning to see it.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:04 am 
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Exercise 34

I have forgiven many behaviours
For those I have difficulty forgiving — particularly those I don’t know about and some aspects of deception — I have chosen to pursue forgiveness if there is a pursuit of honesty and taking responsibility for the behaviours.

A. Consider the consequences of your partner's behavior over the course of your lifetime. How might they affect future decisions that you make? What positive roles might these consequences play in your life?

Consequences:
    Loneliness
    Isolation
    Poor self image
    Poor body image
    Loss of confidence
    Second class status
    Powerlessness
    Loss of sexuality and sexual expression
    Loss of emotional intimacy
    Feelings of abandonment
    Isolation
    Rejection
    Insecurity
    Loss of identity
    Lack of true partnership
    Loss of trust
    Disorientation and instability
    Poor self care
    Personal neglect
    Depression
    Not feeling confident about expressing my opinions
    Feeling uncomfortable about what I wear

I now realise that I have to look after myself, I know what’s important to me and I feel that from this point onwards I must advocate for myself.

As my partner’s addiction progressed, a pattern of chronic self neglect ensued and I developed a low level depression that became my ‘normal’. My values and boundaries were in a state of long term disrepair. I lost the sense of who I was because my relationship was a large part of my identity.

I know I must never neglect myself, and that includes everything from having a daily skin care regime, eating healthily, dressing smartly and attending routine medical and dental appointments. Importantly, I will take steps to care for my emotional needs, whether it’s ongoing self-help or seeking professional help because it’s important not to fall back into negative thought/behaviour cycles. I realise the importance of open and honest communication in my relationship and I will work towards this. Above all, I know I must never neglect the activities that once gave my life meaning and which define who I am.

I cannot predict how my partner’s recovery will turn out nor can I now take for granted that our relationship will endure, given all that I have been through — but I can take care of me.

B. Referring specifically to your partner, take some time to consider the addictive patterns over the course of his/her lifetime. Imagine your partner as a child. Imagine them as a teen. Imagine them as an adult. Imagine them in other relationships. Gain a firm grasp as to how similar patterns have helped them to manage their life. What thoughts come to mind?

My partner’s upbringing was a difficult one. His mother died prematurely after years of mental health problems. Even when she was at home, she was never really present. His father was very distant and emotionally cold. The facts of his mother’s illness and death were never explained.

As a teen, my husband was very unhappy both at home and at school, and ended up with poor grades. He was molested by an older male relative and never told anyone. His father remarried and he didn’t feel particularly welcome at home any more. My husband started escaping with porn at around this time. His father had a collection of magazines hidden in his garage.

My husband didn’t have any girlfriends when he was growing up. His first sexual experience was with an older woman who pursued him. He ended up living with this woman. The relationship turned out to be an unhappy one with her being unfaithful. Despite being older, she had never been in a long term relationship before. She had been very promiscuous. In hindsight, she may have been a sex addict. She was not a physically attractive woman and she was a difficult person who was emotionally needy and very controlling. I failed to understand her attraction. For a first relationship, it was very unusual.

Porn remained in the background at that time, although prior to and during this relationship he visited strip bars occasionally.

My husband seemed very happy in the early years of our relationship. I’m not sure when he started using porn but I learned that he had visited strip bars early on. I assumed this was a one-off out of curiosity. After a period of illness, my husband found the perfect justification for buying porno mags and videos — I was not sexually available. Although there was some truth in this, I believe the foundation for his habit was already in place. He was also visiting strip bars at this time, which he now explains as a coping strategy for depression and loneliness. As soon as we had the internet at home his porn use escalated and became an addiction. Opportunity was also a factor in this escalation. Until that time, porn had to be bought from a store so there were limits to both its consumption and its negative effects.

I recognise now that porn and strippers became an easy go-to fix, a distraction from reality that became a routine that escalated to an addictive behaviour cycle. He did not set out to damage our relationship or cause distress. I acknowledge that he is more than his addiction — he has many positive and admirable qualities. I can now see the role his addiction played in his life and how it developed.

C. What does it mean to 'humanize' your partner? Why is this important in forgiveness and in seeking closure to the current crisis?

I know that my partner is a complete human being capable of feelings and emotions. I know that his sexually compulsive behaviours were his way of dealing with his emotional distress during his early years and recurred later in adult life, and that the continuation of these behaviours resulted in changes in the brain which established the addictive cycle. I know that this could happen to anyone, and it happened to him. I also understand the unmet emotional needs that were perpetuating the cycle. I also acknowledge that my husband quit the behaviour once he recognised the damage it had created and made changes in his life. I see a fallible human being with faults and flaws, as we all are.

In humanising my partner, I acknowledge his good qualities and his struggles. I acknowledge all his achievements and strengths and I recognise that his addictive behaviours were just one small part of who he is, not all that he is. He’s also lovable, dependable and thoughtful in our relationship and has demonstrated great commitment to change.

Understanding the context of his addiction has allowed me to forgive his behaviour and the deception that accompanied it. Given the nature and deception involved in sex addictions, I accept that there maybe aspects of his past behaviour that I do not know. This is the only potential grey area where forgiveness is on hold. I cannot forgive what I don’t know but even accepting the possibility of unknowns, I have at least prepared myself to forgive past transgressions that remain unrevealed. As for what I do know, it has all been forgiven.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:09 am 
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Exercise 35

Brainstorm the areas of your relationship that you suspect MIGHT have been influenced by your partner's addiction. You have already documented the consequences of their addiction earlier in the workshop, so there is no need to duplicate your effort here. List only those subtle behaviors associated with sexual addiction that you suspect may have played a role in the following situations:

b. Your partner's sexual desire for you over the course of the relationship

    Dramatic decline in sexual activity as soon as we were online
    He told me sex wasn’t important to him
    Did not touch my breasts during lovemaking
    100% sexless marriage
    No sexual interest shown in me whatsoever
    No compliments, or only very rarely
    Not much non-sexual physical contact
    No kissing, I had to ask for goodnight peck

c. The ten biggest decisions that were made in your relationship (e.g. marriage, childbirth, housing, career)
    Home
    Marriage
    Study
    Work
    Travel
    Career change
    Volunteering
    Supporting each other to pursue our interests

d. The seven biggest arguments/conflicts/difficulties that you have had
    Internet pornography
    Neglect of relationship
    Workaholism
    Miscarriage
    Bereavement
    Illness
    Family

B. If you were granted five specific questions to ask your partner regarding his/her behavior that were guaranteed to be answered honestly, what five questions would you ask? And what do you think the answers are?

1. Why could you not answer me directly when I asked if you had been unfaithful?
ANSWER: Because I couldn’t answer you honestly. I couldn’t say no because it isn’t true, but I wasn’t going to say yes either because of the upset it would cause.

2. When did you quit visiting strip bars?
ANSWER: I didn’t really quit when I said I did. I still went occasionally and I went to a few other venues I didn’t tell you about. I guess I didn’t really quit until I quit porn.

3. Have you ever paid for sex or any kind of sexual encounter?
ANSWER: No, but after we hadn’t had sex for a long time I thought about it. I liked the fantasy but I couldn’t go through with it.

4. Did you/do you still have any email accounts and online IDs/memberships for the purposes of acting out?
ANSWER: I had a few email accounts and a fake Facebook ID. I joined a few online sites under an anonymous ID. I haven’t deleted them but I haven’t logged in to any of them for a couple of years. They may have expired by now.

5. Where had you been the night you came home drunk and wanted to perform a particular sex act on me?
ANSWER: I’d been out to a bar to watch strippers and I became aroused. I fantasised about it and wanted to act out my fantasy on you. I’m ashamed of treating you in that way.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:39 pm 
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Exercise 36
A. Describe three events in your relationship where you had doubts/suspicions about your partner's behavior but made the decision not to confront them.
1) What did you do? (e.g. tell a friend, eat a double-cheeseburger)
2) Would your approach change should the situation occur tomorrow? Why or why not?


Consuming pornography
1. I turned a blind eye. Pushed it out of my mind. Tried not to think about it. Said nothing.
2. I would ask him outright to be honest about it. I would want him to look at the reasons why he returned to pornography and about the events leading up to it. This is because his compulsive use of pornography over the years damaged my self esteem, my self confidence, my sense of identity and self worth. It ruined our sexual, physical and emotional intimacy. I cannot risk this happening to me again.

Sexual relationship with someone known to him but not known to me.
1. I attributed my feelings to my own ‘insecurity’. I told myself I could trust him absolutely. I gave him the benefit of my doubts.
2. I would hold back from saying anything and look for evidence. I would make notes and look for changes in routine and for subtle patterns. I would ask him about his whereabouts if that was a concern. I would try to negotiate carefully as I have learned that once a

B. Discuss your partner's addiction. Given the information that you currently possess, what do you know of your partner's upbringing? Where/when do you think your partner first developed these destructive patterns?

As a child, my partner experienced attachment trauma through his mother’s illness and frequent hospitalisation due to her mental health problems and alcoholism. His father was distant displayed very little emotion. My partner’s mother died prematurely and suddenly. The cause of her death was never explained although she had previously made several suicide attempts. Shortly afterwards he was sexually abused by a male relative, an experience that he never revealed. His father met his second wife within a matter months. My husband felt shut out, was frequently alone and began to fail at school. He developed what a masturbation habit and began using pornography. Shortly after leaving home to go to college he watched a striptease in a bar for the first time.

Whilst at college, he developed political views based around equality and justice, and found a social/peer group which shared those values. He became very principled and idealistic. His first sexual relationship was with an older woman who held similar political views. Within 2-3 months of losing his virginity he moved into her apartment. She had strong feminist ideals and expected him to adopt them, which he did. Women’s rights became his issue, going on marches and reading feminist publications. The relationship was not a happy one but he had nothing to compare it to, as he had never had a girlfriend or any sexual experience before, and his parents were incapable of role-modelling a healthy relationship.

I believe this was where the ‘split’ properly came into existence. Whereas hiding pornographic magazines was a normal teenage/male behaviour, his adopted feminist ideals required him to condemn and reject sexualised portrayals of women, especially pornography. So he had to hide any notion that he had previously enjoyed masturbating to pornographic imagery (and probably still wanted to). He developed a very principled ‘public’ self that was actually in opposition to his ‘secret’ self.

I am struck by how similar his ‘finding politics’ specifically his strongly expressed feminist opinions was almost identical to when people find religion, especially the hypocrisy. I would also go as far as to say that there was a payoff in that his political ‘speeches’ on behalf of women were being ‘rewarded’ with sex.

By his own admission, the relationship started off as being just about sex, and as he’d never had any kind of sexual contact with a woman until then, he was more consumed with experiencing and learning about sex than looking at pornography at that time. As the relationship progressed it became increasingly unhappy. He describes the woman as dominating and controlling, and emotionally abusive. About one year after living together, she had sex with another man and had even told him in advance that this was going to happen. He numbed his feelings with alcohol in response. The relationship fell apart soon afterwards although there was never any formal ending.

Through this exercise, it has become apparent that the foundations of my husband’s addictive behaviour patterns were already in place at the time I met him. The emotional detachment of his upbringing made him vulnerable to pornography addiction. He learned to hide his feelings and conceal his activities by the behaviour role-modelled by his father, and failed to develop mature coping skills. His first relationship, which was neither healthy or typical for a first relationship, probably brought about the separation in his social self (the youthful political idealist with militant feminist principles)and his secret self who was drawn to pornography and strippers. All this happened before he met me, and although his addiction took some years to manifest I believe the foundations were set.

C. Optional: If you have no idea about how the addiction may have developed and feel comfortable talking to your partner in a compassionate way about such things, you are encouraged to do so. Obviously, this will not apply to everyone.

This was not necessary as I know my partner’s history very well.


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