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 Post subject: Turtle's Recovery Thread
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:13 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2019 2:25 pm
Posts: 2
Exercise One: Take some time to share your background in relation to the discovery of your partner's sexual and/or romantic compulsions/addiction. Share an unadulterated version of your partner's addiction with someone you trust; or, anonymously in this forum.

My husband is a bit awkward in relationships (a true "computer geek"), but that was one of things I loved about him. He is from a very large family in a very rural town. Both his mother and father had 11 siblings. He was dragged to church 3 times a week by his mother. His father did not attend church. He presented his family as though they were supportive and fun. He also presented himself as someone who had gotten himself out of poverty and into a successful technology career (which is true). He had no serious relationships before ours, which he explained was because he was from a small town and there was really no one to date because most everyone was his cousin (which made sense to me at the time).

Beginning with our honeymoon, the physical intimacy was awkward and difficult for him. I initially rationalized it away, telling myself it was the newness of the relationship, the stress of the wedding, etc. , but looking back "shame" was a thought I had, which I believed to be the result of being "bible-thumped" that sex was bad. Things improved in that area when we returned from our honeymoon until I became pregnant with our first child just six months later. We did not have sex during my entire pregnancy and our physical relationship never rebounded following the birth of our first child. I was tired and busy, so I put this issue on the "back-burner" for the most part but in cycles I would raise the question to him as to why he never wanted to be with me. Initially, his responses would range from "it's not you, it's me", to "why don't you ever initiate", to "what are you talking about". I say this was a cycle because I would ignore the issue for 2-3 months because I didn't have the energy to deal with it, I would eventually initiate a conversation about the issue, we would argue, we may or may not have sex, and then another 2-3 would go by and the cycle would start again.

Despite the infrequent sex and the fact he would sleep anywhere but in our bed, I had another child 3 years later for a total of two children. The sexual intimacy never improved (and worsened if that is even possible) and the emotional aspect of the situation became worse. The cycle continued. The difference after 4 years was that his "excuses" became more and more hurtful. To the point he would tell me, "No man wants to have sex with a woman like you who can't be pleased." I had a troubled childhood, had done a lot of work to recover from issues from long ago and had rebuilt my self-worth and self-esteem prior to my marriage, so this type of abuse from my husband was particularly harsh. It is though he knew exactly how to stop my questions. On top of that, we tried counseling twice, during which the counselors confirmed it was my fault...while my husband held my hand and said nothing. My self-worth simply could not have been any lower. It was as though my husband had caged me in a dark hole and only allowed superficial interaction with another human on occasion.

Although my desire was to be a stay-at-home mom, I returned to my career at this point. Interestingly enough, I did not base the decision to return to work on his actions, but rather it's almost as if my subconscious was preparing me to be able to take care of myself. Although it didn't register with me at the time, I never felt safe in our relationship and I was always taking steps to survive and to raise my children in a "normal" household...all while not being able to figure out what I was doing that was so wrong. Sadly, I can't recall a lot of my children's childhoods because of all of the chaos in my brain.

Over the years, I never saw him look at other women (which I now realize is because he ALWAYS walked behind me). I also never found anything on his multiple computers (I never looked because he is far too good with technology to leave anything behind). He denied looking at pornography, being gay or having affairs repeatedly. I really had no proof or ah-ha moments, so I internalized that he really didn't like me and I really was a terrible person. What was worse, was that he continued to tell me how much he loved me and how everything he did...he did for me. I truly believed that I was so blessed to have a husband who would even have me. Not only was I being emotionally abused by him, he really warped my brain by his actions not matching his words. It was truly crazy-making and cruel. It made me unable to trust myself and my own reality for 16 1/2 long years.

Fast forward to 2017. We had been married 16 1/2 years. The day before Thanksgiving, he picked me up at work for lunch. When returning from lunch, I noticed the word "EROTIC" scrolling across the bluetooth screen in his car. I'm not sure what created such a response in me after so many years, but I went instantly crazy. He pulled the car over and tried to explain away what I had seen, but for the first time, his talking didn't work. I told him to take me back to work and he did. I somehow finished out the work day and upon returning home, he was standing in the driveway waiting for me and again trying to explain his way out of what I had seen. I immediately began screaming at him that he was a sex addict and that he needed help. I truly believe that divine intervention took place because I didn't even know anything about sex addiction. What I remember most that day, was screaming "Oh my God, I'm not crazy! It's are the one who is crazy!" It was probably the biggest relief of my life.

That day started what is now a 2 1/2 year journey of his continued lying, gas-lighting, refusing to answer questions and minimal recovery on his part. Although he immediately started counseling and attending a 12-step group, he has switched counselors three times and I now know his initial 12-step group was of little help to him.

As of today, my husband claims he is "sober". He's checking all of the boxes off the checklists provided to him by someone else. But, he has not taken responsibility for addressing what caused his addiction. Both sides of his big happy, supportive family have turned out to be incestuous and disgusting. My husband was sexually abused by multiple people and he was physically and emotionally neglected by both parents, who couldn't stand to be around one another. He spent the majority of his childhood by himself. He was saturated in pornography from the age of 4 or 5 by his older brother, his father, older cousins and other male family members, all of whom see women as objects. I now believe he became so good at technology because when pornography became digitized and later available on the web, he finally gained acceptance with his family for being the ultimate porn longer was he pushed away as the odd one, but he was finally made to feel special...his non-stop desire.

I now know he is addicted to pornography, has detailed fantasies about women (who he may or may not know), is an intimacy anorexic and has severe self-esteem issues. His need for constant affirmation (which I will not give to him at this point) is exhausting. I am tired.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:10 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 671
Turtle - Welcome to Recovery Nation. I am sorry you need to be here, but this is a healing place to be.

Much of what you have written I could have written myself. I also felt that tremendous relief that all the craziness in my marriage wasn't my fault. I also had been told by counselors that it was my fault while my husband was silent. And my husband walked behind me as well.

Discovering our partner's addiction is tremendously traumatic. I encourage you to complete the partner's lessons. They were very helpful to me in so many ways. I also found an individual therapist who specialized in treating trauma and that has been very healing as well. Feel free to post in the partners' forum. You are not alone. The partners here understand what you are going through.

For now you need to focus on yourself and your well being. Your husband is the only one who can get sober, recover from his addiction and develop a healthy emotional life. The lessons helped me understand this.

I am seven years post multiple D-days. While my husband is much more sober, his ability to manage his emotions in a mature way is still a work in progress. I would say what is most resistant to change is his intimacy anorexia. What has become more important to me is my well being and my life.

With deep compassion,

PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2020 7:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2019 2:25 pm
Posts: 2
Exercise 2: Think about who you are, the life that you have led, and the life that you want to lead from this point forward. Think about your legacy as a wife, mom, sister, friend. Create a vision that represents the real you. The one that you will be reconnecting to on your path towards healing.

I am a woman who has overcome many obstacles in my life. In my early years, my life was greatly influenced by growing up in a household with an older sister with severe mental illness, an older brother with delinquent behaviors, severe marital conflict between my parents, a messy 6-year long divorce and a father who eventually checked out of the family and left me to serve as the surrogate spouse for my mother, who refused to work to support herself. Strangely, my school never knew of my home life because I was an honor student and maintained the reputation of being smart and responsible (those were not only my traits at that point, but survival skills).

Following the horrible divorce, my father remarried shortly thereafter (I was not told nor included in that event) and then died less than two years later from stage 4 cancer. I was a sophomore at a prestigious private college at the time of his death. Sadly, his death was somewhat of a relief due to the non-stop chaos and dysfunction in my family. I was finally able to get a brief break from the constant fighting.

Despite all of what had happened in my life, I somehow managed to succeed. Once I graduated from college, I immediately began my career where I flourished. I seemed to be instinctively good at what I did. I could read people like a book, could communicate well, was fast, was loyal, was honest and quickly picked up on when discretion was paramount. My childhood had trained me well.

My childhood also trained me about what not to be. I have purposely lived my life to value people, to understand that everyone has problems and that life is hard even in the best of times. I learned my true joy came from very small, every day, birds, animals, rainbows, thunderstorms, hugs, smiles and of course, my babies. I lived my life true to my values of honesty, loyalty, determination and being responsible for my own "stuff" regardless of what that "stuff" may be. When things went wrong, I didn't allow myself to immediately assign blame (which was a common theme in my childhood household).

Even before coming across this exercise, I have often thought about my legacy, particularly the legacy I would leave for my children. I always knew what kind of legacy I did not want to leave...a legacy of sadness, bitterness and hatred. So, I made a point every day (up to "discovery" day) to leave a legacy of contentment, hard work, joy and peace. I did this despite the overwhelming feeling that something in my marriage was so very wrong. Somehow, I moved on day to day knowing that my children and I were the priority and that nothing was worth leaving a trail of disaster for my children to carry throughout their lives.

Unfortunately, "discovery" day really got me off my track. I feel so sad that I worked so hard for so long to nurture my children...just to have it shattered in a matter of moments. Despite part of my brain telling me to stick to my values and to remember what really matters, my primitive brain went rogue, which resulted in the avalanche of yelling and screaming and non-stop questioning. This went on far too long and I can really feel how it has affected me both mentally and physically. I know that I must change my focus and remember how important my mind, my body and my life are to me.

When talking to my husband, I am making a real effort to ask myself "Is what you are getting ready to say honest, loyal, respectful and fair?" I know that if it is not, I will not only be living with my husband's issues, but will be violating my own values and my children will be watching me violate my own values! I am worth more than that. My children are worth more than that. Actually, if I really think about it, my husband is worth more than that.

My vision is to continue on my path of holding on very tightly to my values, knowing that at times my emotions will take over...and sometimes that will be okay. My vision is to continue recognizing that my body is special, not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but special. It's actually amazing what my body does all day, every day when I take the time to really think about it. My vision is to continue recognizing the strong mind I have and how fortunate I am to have it. My vision is to continue to love my children and care about their physical, emotional and mental well-being more than I sometimes hate my husband. My vision is to take the time to bask in the small joys every day and to continue finding joy in friendships I have made along this journey. Several women who have walked this path before me have listened to my story and have handed me tissues to wipe my tears. My vision is to continue being a support for those women who come after me in dealing with the trauma of living with sex addict.

More than anything, my vision is to remember how my Heavenly Father has never abandoned me. He has been with me during every step of my life's journey...even as difficult as some of those steps were. Sometimes, He seemed to sit in silence. Sometimes, He clearly led me to move. But, I always knew He was there, guiding me and loving me. My vision is to continue reading His word, finding how His words are relevant to me and my situation and listening to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.

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