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 Post subject: Sansa' healing thread
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:04 pm
Posts: 7
Exercise One:
A. Because the discovery of your partner's addiction will no doubt reflect many commonalities with others, it is at the same time uniquely devastating to you. 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.
If you choose someone you trust, then at least share a summary of the general patterns that are in play with your partner's addiction. And as a reminder, please do not use any personally-identifying information in your post.

I didn't cause it, I cannot control it, I cannot cure it.

God, this is so long. I apologize in advance. But it's been a long ride.

This began before he met me. It was not disclosed or I never would have married him. We have both been married previously.

I knew he looked at porn before we got married. Didn't think much of it; a single man with a young child...besides, I would too from time to time. Generally with a partner though, to be honest.

Maybe two years (?) after we got married, I found a LOT of porn on his computer in saved files. I wasn't looking for it; I was looking for something else, I had no reason to snoop. One folder he named in particular I recall: "Shaved Blondes". Charming. Also in looking at the dates on his history I could tell he looked at porn a few hours before our wedding. OUR WEDDING. The one night he ought to be sure of having sex, and he wants his young ones on porn. We had quite an argument and I told him to knock that shit off.

This happened again and again. About every two years, if I had to guess. It's been so many times I really don't even remember. After every episode I would just sort of shove it aside in my head and didn't recognize at all how it was changing ME. He would get up early before I did to go wade through porn. Hours and hours and probably YEARS of his life looking at blondes. I would hear him get up and lie in my bed fuming. YEARS of this. My sleep suffered and my stress levels are through the roof 24/7 and he's downstairs imagining sex with an 18 year old blonde. Hell, who am I kidding, it got to the point where he just sat 3 feet from me in the living room and looked at hours and hours and hours. So much that he had FAVORITES. Prior to our retiring, he worked from home while the kids were in school and I was at work. What he was really doing was masturbating and watching porn compulsively while I am out working my ass off. He claims his obsession goes back to some girl he had a crush on in HS and he blew it with her. Whatever, she hasn't thought about you in over 40 years, get over yourself. How DARE you treat me like this after all I have put up with your baggage you brought with you to this marriage.

Each time it was like a fresh trauma; he likes young blonde girls and that's all there is to it. But I am in my 50s, never was blonde, never will be blonde, and don't want to be blonde. How do you deal with that? I've had two kids; I look good but I don't look 18. Did I mention that his crazy ex-wife, the one that abandoned her child.....she slept with her twice while we were dating and she is blonde. He's such a fucking prize. It's more than 'just the porn' as he puts it, should the opportunity arise, as this illustrates. What was I thinking? But promises, promises, promises....

Did I mention that somewhere along this horribly long, painful path he told me he would go masturbate to porn to piss me off? If we had a routine argument around the house? So he has self-admittedly been cruel with this. And we won't even get into the just plain selfish and inconsiderate treatment of me continually, that almost seems like peanuts now. But it is symptomatic of his addiction and general disregard for everything but his own penis.

Speaking of, whether he realizes it or not (I have not asked) it has affected him in the bedroom. He can't get very hard for me and it takes forever because he has generally already masturbated several times that day. Often he also cannot because he has chafed himself. Again, I just want to vomit and don't see any way of ever being the least bit interested in him sexually. For my part....I have faked it for years now. I'm so tired of it. His casual disregard for my life, and to effectively probably remove any possibility of me ever having a healthy sex life again....I cannot forgive that.

For me physically there has been a toll on my body. My adrenal glands are permanently burned out, I took medication for that (from the stress). I can barely eat at this point because I feel like throwing up. I am concerned about my heart rate and am going to make a doctor's appointment. I have to heal or my body is simply going to shut down at some point. I'm sure this has literally taken years off my life, in addition to the ones wasted already.

So now we have been married almost two decades. A couple of years ago we moved to a beachfront community, which is like putting an alcoholic in a bar, not that I knew he was an addict. One day---not three weeks after we moved!--- I came out of the shower and found him fondling himself while staring at a blonde at the pool. (He later claims she moved her butt in a way that reminded him of one of his favorite videos. I want to vomit) A real person this time, and his actions carry criminal consequences. I lost my mind and hit him and kicked him out for about 4 days. Again, promises to get help, promises to quit. After some research, I learned about sex addiction. He didn't really see it that way, I don't think.

All along the way, time and time again he would chastise me. "You should initiate sex more" or "if you could only get over this, we could have a great life." Before we retired early and moved, he specifically asked me if I was 'all-in.' I said yes. Only thing he was 'all-in' to was blondes. Never telling me this was still such a huge problem so I was not able to make an informed decision about retirement. And why on earth would I want to initiate sex when you only want a young blonde?? You will never convince me that this isn't what he thinks about when we are in bed, wanting me to do whatever he happens to have in his current 'favorite' video and imagining the girl. Never. I know it. Knowing this just makes you feel dead inside. Expecting you to be ready for penetration instantly like some lubed up girl in his porn videos. No idea at all what a real person is like.

It's been years---maybe since DDay3 or 4 out of.....10?---since I have felt attractive or sexy or just plain good enough. Lacking. Rejected. Not young. Not blonde. Oh he gives lip service to wanting me, but why would I want him knowing in his head he is having sex with the star of his latest favorite video? Every time he wanted to try something new I knew where he got the idea and I mentally checked out.

Ever since that day my life has become more and more unmanageable. I am always angry and irritated, I think the worst of everyone and I fly off the handle in a nanosecond. I hate men in general. I drink too much, and am triggered every time I see a woman in public I think he would like. It's to the point where I won't even go out with him in public because too many 'date nights' have ended with me drunk and weeping in my bathroom. He doesn't think I see him watch women, but I do. Always. Always looking to see what is out there new and fresh for him to imagine. That grinds on your soul day after day, year after year, decade after decade.

So about a week ago I found this site and told him. He seemed fully engaged. He was lying again. He again took the easy way out telling me what he thought I wanted to hear. Told me so himself.

The final straw was Saturday when it took me literally 10 seconds to find a porn site BOOKMARKED OPENLY on his computer (I hadn't actually looked in years) and dialed up was a young blonde. I'm done. Really???? Still makes me want to vomit.

In the long run, I do not see me staying with him. The one constant throughout this is that his preference is something I am not and that comparison in my head for almost 20 years is just not something I am able to dismiss so easily. The decades of watching him watch other women and then zone out....I'm just humiliated even being in public now. Intellectually, I know it is an addiction. But that is just so specific and damaging to my persona...and if I can see it, so can everyone else. It's humiliating. Insulting. Degrading. Above and beyond the addiction itself, I have been lied to for 17 years and not given all the information I need to make any sort of educated choice about MY OWN LIFE. How do you do that to someone else?

But I need help moving forward. I am just so broken. I never thought when we married all those years ago that I would be starting over at my age. I've been alone so long already, frankly, as he was not engaged with me but with his blondes and that is pretty much all I can see going forward. They will always be available to him in his head. I'm good with alone. It is what it is. First and foremost I need to fix and heal me, because I do not recognize myself anymore and obviously cannot trust my own judgment.

I am in so much pain. I have wasted so much of my life.

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:46 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 669
Sansa - Welcome to Recovery Nation. I am sorry you need to be here, but this is a healing place to be.

I am in so much pain. I have wasted so much of my life.

I know. I hear you. I wrote very much the same thing in my first lesson. The partners here understand. You are not alone.

I can tell you that you will feel better. It's hard and it takes time. Focusing on yourself is key. This was very hard for me to do. But the lessons here on RN were a healing beginning for me. I strongly encourage you to continue them. The partners community forum is another resource for healing. Feel free to read and post there. In my case, I also found an individual therapist who specializes in treating trauma. She has been a life savior for me.

I will never underestimate just how traumatic it is to discover our partners' addiction. Please be gentle with yourself and know that you deserve all the help and healing resources you need.

And your husband at this point, just like mine, was not helpful to my healing. The lessons will help make clear why they continue to lie and blame until they get into sincere recovery. And as we painfully know, there is NOTHING we can do to get them to recover.

Addicts lie to themselves and to others. I got the same sort of BS from my husband saying his addiction was due to a crush he had when he was twelve. They are immature and unable to manage their lives and emotions without their addiction. Jon explains this in the lessons. This isn't about you. But it had a very destructive impact on you just as it has had on all the partners here.

With deep compassion,

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:12 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:04 pm
Posts: 7
Thank you dnell, for your kind words. It's actually been a couple of months since this last DDay now. I read a lot but haven't written out too much in the way of responses. At some level I really deeply resent having to do all this just to become human again.

This is not what I signed up for. But I wasn't given the information to make a rational choice, so here we are. It is what it is and that is so hard to accept some days.

I plan on making an appointment with a trauma counselor this week. I have been putting it off. I suspect my husband is putting off his recovery also, as I hear nothing about it.

But I am not getting any younger and I cannot put this off any longer. Time to start over. Time to find me.

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:13 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:04 pm
Posts: 7
Exercise Two
I. Take at least twenty minutes to be alone. If you have a family, ask them to respect this time that you are taking. Make sure that you leave your cell phone off. That the dog is fed. That there will be no distractions. Take a walk by yourself. Sit alone on the beach. Find somewhere secluded and then, think. 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.
II. Write out your vision. Use any format you would like. As a general rule, the more personal, the better. Post this vision in your Healing Thread. There is no right or wrong to this vision...though it should be comprehensive enough for a stranger (in this case, me) to read it and have a pretty good idea as to what you value and the life that you want to live.
As these visions are reviewed, what we will be looking for is the following:
a) Is it practical or is it idealistic? Practical is what we are shooting for. Idealistic visions feel good, sound good... but they serve very little purpose. "I want to be more spiritual" is an example of something that would be included in an idealistic vision. "I see spirituality becoming a part of my every day routine. I see myself praying regularly and having a real connection to that prayer. I see myself taking some time out each week to just enjoy the essence of nature and life." is something you might see in a practical vision.
b) Is this vision capable of sustaining a healthy life? Are there enough values identified that have the potential to generate fulfillment. To counter instability. To drive decision-making. If you isolated your partner's recovery effort and considered it from both sides (he does recover; he doesn't recover), does the foundation of your vision remain intact? Is it capable of allowing you to manage your life in response to either reality?
Suggestion: Note the difference between the 'I want' and the 'I see' statements (in part a) — the first feels distant and slightly out of reach, the latter is a more empowering statement and feels attainable. Even better is the "I am" statement. It matters little whether or not you feel that 'you are' are creating a vision that you will live into — so choose statements that will inspire you and keep you motivated. And obviously, what you include in your vision will also have a big impact on whether or not you will be, and continue to be, inspired and motivated — make sure you are choosing what you really see for your life, not what others want or expect of you. Your vision should be meaningful to you!
For an excellent example of the depth such a vision should have, click here: Example of a Personal Vision
Now, this is a vision written by someone on the recovery side, but note the variety of areas examined and the depth of which they are examined. If you are looking to finish this exercise in a matter of minutes to 'check it off the to do list'... you will be missing one of the first critical tools for rebuilding your foundation. Think of this as your 'first impression' towards the sincerity of how you will be approaching this workshop. From a coaching perspective, I know that I do. The more you invest in yourself, the more coaches will be willing to invest as well. It is human nature. And so, if you need several days to complete this, take several days. Most people can write out a solid vision in about an hour. But judge your efforts more on the quality of effort you have put in, rather than the amount of time.

I see a calm, rational person who reacts appropriately to everyday stressors and old triggers.

I see the former version of myself; laid back, not so rigid and tense constantly. I see me not afraid to leave the house so often.

I see me caring more about my friends and strengthening those bonds. I have been so isolated with this; how can you be close to anyone when they don't know the depth of your pain?

I see a calmer mother to my adult children, although this cannot make up for the time that was lost to them in my pain when they were younger.

I see continuing to pursue my two hobbies for as long as I am physically able.

I see the old me back. The one who had a full life and hobbies and meaningful relationships and community ties.

I can see peace in my mind and body. I want that more than anything.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:44 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:04 pm
Posts: 7
Lesson 3

Again, this is the typical path to someone engaged in a healthy transition from addiction, through recovery and onto health. It is not the only path. Though you would be wise to view any variant from this well-worn path with a cautious and pessimistic eye.
Exercise Three
Because of all of the deception inherent in addiction, it is common to challenge your own 'gut feelings' relating to your ability to read your partner. You may have even concluded that these instincts failed you. Yet what is most likely is that your instincts picked up on the curious patterns — it was your heart and head that altered your conclusions. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is a good person who leads their life with values such as trust and love and partnership.
But, now that you know that you are dealing with an addiction...risk, vulnerability...these are things that you can no longer take for granted in your life. You must offer them only when accompanied by logic and reason. And so, at least until trust can be rebuilt, you will need to develop a more mechanical, objective and safe ability to monitor your partner's health. Much of this will be done throughout the workshop, but we will start by doing the following:
In your healing thread...
A) Brainstorm the times when your 'gut feelings' have been right about your partner's sexual and/or romantic behavior. Include times when you feel strongly that you were right (though it may never have been proven either way).
B) Identify as many major situations as you can where you allowed your head/heart to override your 'gut feelings' in relation to your partner's behavior.
For example:
Situation — my husband called to tell me he had to work late. I called him later that night and there was no answer. He said that his cell phone had died. My gut told me that something was not right. I ignored my gut because I didn't think there was any way he could lie to me so convincingly.
C) Relying on the experience you have gained, make a list of likely behaviors, situations and/or feelings that may trigger a conflict between your gut instinct, your value system and/or reality.
For example:
My husband says he is trying hard in recovery and I want to believe him, but the objective signs just aren't there.
My wife has befriended a male coworker and they go out to lunch several times a week, they play tennis together on the weekends, she goes over to his apartment to watch movies every now and then. She assures me it is completely innocent and I want to believe her. But my gut says I'm being naive.

A). When have my gut feelings been right....

A lot more than I realized, which has led to my poor behaviors for years. I've known something was off and never really understood the depth of it. I knew when he was up early every morning in the office he wasn't working. There wasn't that much business. I have wasted probably years of my life laying in bed fuming because I knew what he was doing. His behaviors, when he is happy and when he is frustrated....all directly tied, I now realize, to when he was acting out multiple times a day. All the millions of times he couldn't be bothered to listen to me (and all the millions of times I have had to repeat myself) because he is sitting 3 feet away watching an 18 year old blonde girl have sex.

I could list so many more examples (all the times he would zone out at dinner, thinking about someone else)'s been almost two decades of this. I just wish I had realized it sooner, or been told before we married. He literally just cannot handle any emotion whatsoever without heading to porn. So if any emotion arises...then I know. It's ridiculous.

B). I think I have lived in active denial. I had a job that required total focus almost every minute of the day, which provided me an easy escape. Children to raise. Anything to distract myself from what was, at best, a good friendship and an uneasy truce of a marriage. I knew something wasn't right, but truly didn't realize what it was. Over time, you just feel inadequate.

I hid my head in the sand so I didn't have to make those 'heart/head' decisions at all.

The situations in section A) above all illustrate what I did know. And it was just constant.

But my ignorance is astonishing. What I didn't know would fill books.
I had no idea of the depth or longevity or reasons behind the behaviors, nor did I know the extent of the behaviors. I literally didn't have a clue what to look out for. Who does this? Specifics are hard because it is has been so long and so pervasive that I truly think I have blocked a lot of it. The persistent and pervasive inconsiderate behavior towards me in general, in every aspect of life, I now realize it telling. I thought he just didn't care. Actually I guess he didn't/doesn't.

C) This one is easier. I think my husband is in active recovery, early, but after a couple months of stalling. I'm not sure where on the spectrum he is at present. I do know he is no where close to being able to tell me the truth so I just don't ask. I have millions of questions, but I hold my tongue because there is no point. I'd only get more lies.

And part of me just doesn't even really care. I have a thousand questions concerning his affair with his ex-wife, but at this point I don't know that it matters. So generally I am avoiding triggers. I try not to focus on his moods, or read anything into them. I just don't want to know.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:07 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Sansa, I’m sorry to read about your experiences. This is not a particularly ‘social’ internet forum but the wisdom in these lessons is invaluable. It’s well worth persevering. It’s taken me a long time to work through the program but working at my own pace and gaining insight from my own life experience has been very helpful for me in my own healing.

Like you, I tolerated my husband’s behaviour for the best part of 20 years and I had no clue about some of his acting out. For him it was mostly porn but it turned out to be strippers too. He has never voluntarily disclosed ANYTHING. He only disclosed stuff that wasn’t that relevant like buying girlie magazines and porn movies on VHS tapes before the internet. Before he admitted to this, he lied about. And then he changed his story to “the truth”. Even after this disclosure, which was hardly relevant in the later context of his internet porn addiction of 15+ years, he still carried on lying to me, denying everything.

There were times during the 6-12 months following d day when I truly believed that an honest disclosure was going to happen. It didn’t happen. Do I believe I have a true and accurate picture of his acting out history? No. I don’t. It’s all down to the gut feeling, that sense that something if “off” but you can’t work it out. I’ve picked up on odd little things, shifts in mood, body language, eye contact etc that I feel betray his words. And yet I can’t say what exactly I suspect, or when or where or who. I just know that there’s stuff I don’t know.

I asked him outright if he had committed any infidelity. His answers? A nervous laugh. Then him asking me the questions — Who? When? When would he have the time? Then it was “what do you mean by infidelity?” And finally, him telling me how shocked he was that I could even think anything so outrageous! But did he actually answer my question? No. If he had asked me, I’d say “no, of course I haven’t been unfaithful?” Because that would be an easy thing to say. Because it’s true. I might ask him why he felt the need to ask and then seem to reassure him. I doubt I’d be telling him he was as out of order for asking.

I had a definite hunch that something wasn’t right about 6 months before d day. I had no clue what it was, but I didn’t have anything I could point to, no unexplained absences. And I still have no clue. But do I believe him when he *implies* fidelity? No. I believe that there has probably been at least one infidelity, possibly more than one.

Some “gut feelings”: a recurring dream featuring an unknown woman known to him but not known to me. It was always the same woman in every dream. The were intensely sexually attracted to each other. I witnessed this. The woman told me things about my husband that she would only know by being physically intimate with him, and seemed to enjoy telling me whilst I felt belittled. Eventually the dreams stopped. Over the years I wondered whether my subconscious was alerting me to the possibility of his infidelity. In my waking life, I dismissed it because I knew he was in love with me, and of course he wouldn’t do that. Now? I think my subconscious was definitely picking up on something.

Similar to your situation, my husband spent the night with a woman very early in our relationship. He denied anything sexual took place, saying “trust me, nothing happened” over and over. He eventually admitted he had slept in her bed that night, admitted to being naked with her, but still insisted “nothing happened” but getting undressed and into someone’s bed after going back to their apartment isn’t exactly “nothing”. The implication was no penetrative sex. Am I to be resssured by a failed attempt at sex? What do I believe now? It doesn’t actually matter after all this time what happened, the fact still remains he was there, whatever happened happened. But he lied over and over, with all this “trust me” crap which in reality meant “don’t trust me, I’m a liar”. I put it down to “one mistake” on his part. But to him, his one mistake was to tell me where he was that night. What he probably learned was that saying nothing is the best way to avoid any consequences.

In recent years, I have no clue but I think there are things I don’t know. We had a sexless marriage, meaning no sex, ever, for maybe 7 or 8 years. Before then, it was very infrequent. Once every few months. It was several years into his addiction by the time it ended. I don’t believe that he did not consider looking outside of the relationship for sexual experiences with others. I think that if the chance was there he would have taken it, and I think that’s a real possibility. He had reason enough to believe that our sexual relationship was over (I had switched off sexually because he wanted porn instead of having sex with me and I couldn’t take the rejection any more). He could have justified it in his own mind. All I know is that I felt a definite shift, an even greater emotional distance between us. Something told me something wasn’t right. That’s why I asked him outright and he couldn’t give me a straight answer. He has to ask what “infidelity” means? Seriously?

But I started this off by saying I expected him to voluntarily disclose the truth about his behaviour
6-12 months into d day. In reality, he has disclosed NOTHING. He hasn’t remembered all the things he insisted he couldn’t remember. He hasn’t given me a thing. I told him, anything he “forgot” to tell me, he can. But not a word. For most couples who go to therapy and have a therapeutic disclosure session, the addict admits to more. It’s said to be the cliche. “I’ve told you everything” very rarely means “everything”.

I have to live with the fact that I don’t know “everything” and probably never will. The disclosure that I wanted never happened.

PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:12 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:04 pm
Posts: 7
Blue, thank you so much for sharing. I too have pretty much given up on full disclosure; all I hear at this point is ‘porn.’ Right. He did share that while I was traveling with girlfriends recently he spent that week doing his thing with his 18 year old blondes. Not once. Not twice. A week long bender. So much for recovery, eh?

I don’t really have any faith that he will do this. I can’t. I can only take care of me in the meantime.

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