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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:31 pm 
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Exercise 1

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.

To add context to my story, I am a violent rape survivor and was date raped several times in my teens and come from a broken home with severe alcoholism. So theres a long history of trauma here. Despite this, I tend toward appearing confident and capable and am outgoing and am a successful entrepreneur.

I met my husband G back in the mid 90s. He’s a good looking, shy, introverted and very intelligent guy and we struck up a friendship. I was married at the time and our friendship provided me support and companionship during the end of that awful relationship. My husband at the time was a very serious porn addict (online porn use, chat rooms, phone sex, cheating etc) but I didn’t know anything about porn addiction and so it was a very hard time for me. The level of gas-lighting and manipulation was incredible and he used this to ensure we had an “open” relationship, but now I am convinced it was entirely so he could have sex whenever he wanted, with whom he wanted, it was utterly terrifying and traumatizing on a daily basis for over ten years. Note: I don’t have anything against polyamory. This was definitely not communicative, respectful other-loving polyamory. It was just cheating in front of me and gas-lighting me into thinking I was too uptight and jealous. His use started with porn, intense role play (for the erection) and by the end he was using child porn, cheating on me, not using condoms in our “open relationship”, and racked up tens of thousands of dollars of phone sex on “teen” phone sex lines.

G and I started dating toward the end of that as a part of the “open relationship” I had with the guy. After the marriage ended and a year had gone by where I worked hard on my own healing and was feeling better, I asked G to move in with me. Part of our negotiations/discussion about living together was that I wouldn’t have porn in my home. We talked and he admitted to using porn, but agreed and said he would never use it in the house. He was very supportive and understood that I wanted a home that to me, after the trauma of the previous relationship was safe and free of that.

At that time, porn to me was just another thing that I was “jealous” of but I still wasn’t really clear it was an addiction or even that it had really caused all of the trauma and abuse in my previous relationship.

My belief was, that he may be using, but I had no idea there was an addiction or that it would cause problems. I was ignorant of addictive behavior and just figured he would quit, kind of like you might learn to put the toilet seat down or some other annoying trait you might change when you first live with someone. The other thing I requested was that he went to bed with me every night unless there was something unusual going on. I felt I had finally recovered from the trauma of waking up in the middle of the night and seeing my ex looking at porn and sex chatting with women (often looking like teens or maybe were under age) all night on the internet and/or using phone sex. I wanted a place to recover, to feel safe from that.

Our first years together were wonderful, with better communication than I’d been used to (though apparently not actually good), sex, intimacy, etc. The first sign that things weren’t great was his “I’ll be in to bed in a few minutes” or “I need to stay up as I have a lot of work to do” and then I would wake up, hours later, in a panic without him. Terrified of what I would find, I would creep out of bed to find out and he’d be in the office with the door closed and I could hear him masturbating and looking at porn. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything, but my panic and unease increased. We eventually had a discussion where he admitted he was using again but would stop. I believed him and we moved forward.

We discussed it off and on over the next few years, I really had no education about it, and frankly was in the middle of my masters program, starting a business etc, and I let it go but the toll it was taking on my health was bad. Between school stress and the panic I was and had been living with, constantly worrying/wondering about porn, finding porn and him saying he would be to bed, but not coming to bed, I developed fibromyalgia symptoms and was totally exhausted all of the time. My doctor finally diagnosed me with Fibro and when I finally graduated and took time off, I would just sleep on the couch for 6 hours a day, in addition to 8 hours at night for six months. My body hurt all of the time. A few years later my therapist would educate me about trauma and PTSD and start counseling me to help me recover.

Four years ago I was diagnosed with severe fibroids and at my age, decided to take the option of hysterectomy. My husband was very supportive of the entire process. At the beginning of this, I knew I would not be able to have sex for a few months, and I had a discussion about porn with him, letting him know that I would really appreciate him not using while I was in recovery so I could feel safe and my already battered self image could heal. I think many women question their femininity when they have to give up their uterus, and I was no exception and wanted desperately to process this appropriately. I asked for his support in this because it was one time in my life I had the opportunity to really do something right and process well and he agreed.

He was very supportive and loving through my recovery, assuring me he wasn’t using, reassuring me about my body, so patient about sex and when we did, so good about it. I felt that we’d possibility turned a corner, we felt like a team. Not quite a year later I started having panic attacks again, very worried and freaked out he was using again. He was being rude again, pushing me away, less interested during sex, etc. and had been for a while. I finally asked him if he was using (he always said no) and just simply not believing him I searched his computer, phone, iPad and found a lot evidence of porn use. I found evidence going back to pre-hysterectomy and my hysterectomy recovery time as well. I was shocked and so hurt and devastated that he had done this during my recovery and the whole thing threw me into a full blown break down. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t keep food down, I hurt everywhere, I was having nightmares and crying hysterically all day for days and days.

All these years I had been thinking his lack of harder erection, lack of presence during sex, his objectification of me, being rude to me, _severe_ introversion and literally pushing me away when I sought out touch was him being stressed out and/or that he was just sick of me. My previous husband frequently told me he was just “tired” of me and needed something “more exciting” than a mother with a kid who was overworked and while my son was full grown now, this message was still loud and clear in my head. While searching the internet for a way through this, recovery books, help etc., I found the “Your Brain on Porn” website and sites about sex and porn addiction. This is when it all fell into place. Every problem, all of the pain over the years had been porn addiction. It made so much sense. My husband even admitted to having read the “Your Brain on Porn” site several times to help himself and said that yes, he felt a lot of his actions were due to shame about using.

For 15 years my marriage had been one lie after another. I felt like the entire thing was a sham. I was ashamed that I hadn’t caught it too, he being the second man I was married to with this problem.

We eventually had disclosure and it came out. Regular porn use with edging and the thing that really freaked me out that he was watching and taking videos of his female co-workers and women on the train when he commuted etc. This was particularly upsetting to me that he has always been a very vocal supporter of women and feminism and acted disgusted at men who harassed women but here he was, a man sexually harassing women in a very creepy and awful way. Now that I am more educated, I realize it was probably only a bit of what he had done, the voyeurism was only admitted to because I found the videos, as an example. I now know that its common for men to only disclose what can be proven, and leave the rest by omission.

We did what we could, but I was devastated. Therapy helped, he got into therapy but even though he said he would get into a recovery program, he didn’t. We just moved forward as best as we could. I threw myself into my business and hoped for the best. MOST of the time he was a great husband, but I’ve been and still am terrified all of this time of escalations. They are coming if the literature and my previous marriage have anything to do with it. He says his porn use has been largely “vanilla”, which, knowing him may be the truth, but my therapist and every damned book I’ve read says he’s likely lying. Going out into public he tracks on women with his fetish, which is really common, its as if he doesn’t notice he does it. It gives me anxiety and its very difficult for me to want to even leave the house with him. The second I see his “porn” woman when we are out, my heart falls, I just want to give up.

We’ve had two big relapses since then. These are ones I forced out of him because the behaviors began again. The most recent two were last week and six months ago. Each time I have gotten a little bit better at not losing it completely and breaking down but the feelings of being humiliated and devastation are always the same, and I’m just so tired of it all. This week I found this site. I’m working my recovery and he says he will work his. I’m now learning to focus on my own recovery. I’m talking with my very trusted friends, I sent in my STD test and I’m taking it one day at a time.

I love my husband, he’s smart, funny, loving and I want to stay with him. I believe deeply that he’s capable of recovery. I believe in him. I believe in me. I believe I can recover as well, I’m so relieved to have found this site with some steps to actually work on the real issues.


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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 9:13 am 
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Exercise 2:
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.

Traits I would like to have/believe I do have but have been shadowed by my partner’s addictions:

* Confident/satisfied and happy with my body
* Intimate and loving
* Invested and devoted to my relationship
* Devoted to doing my will
* Capable of being alone
* Capable of keeping my boundaries
* Living a simple productive and healthy life
* Self controlled enough to be honest and not obsess

Who was I before this type of addiction entered my life?

Hard to say, its been here for so long. Confident in my ability to be attractive and affect men. Confident in my intuition and self knowledge. I was less jealous. I feel that my jealousy issues largely stem from being forced into open relationships and gas lighting.

I feel if I was less jealous, I may be less obsessive over his addiction and process. It hurts me, yes, but I hurt me too by day in and day out looking for signs and portents that my life is about to fall apart.

Or…. Maybe the jealousy is partially a side effect of the rumination and obsession? Something to think about.

Passion. I would allow myself passion again. I have tempered my enthusiasm for many things because an outburst of joy, a holler of “HELLS YEAH!” Or even passion about a topic in an argument has been a NO GO for G. When I show passion, I get negative feedback and love, attention and affection are then with-held. When I am ebullient and full of life and joy, when I dance and let myself go, there’s been a sense that I should be ashamed, that I am too much, that I should stop.

Its as if being a real woman with real passions is a threat. As if porn women’s actions and responses are all that is acceptable, and real passionate acts, real women contradicting and having opinions is anathema. As I type this, I feel such sorrow for that person I was. Just because he was ashamed of himself and couldn’t handle my happiness and spontaneity.

I would allow myself to BE. To be too much occasionally. I can look out for how others feel, and respect their space and boundaries, but its also ok to be big and occasionally and appropriately take up space. Its ok to feel a lot and its ok to love intensely and a lot.

That thought is both giving me a huge sense of want for that person I can be and terror that I will become something he cannot want/have/handle/deal with. Either way, I am committing to being myself again, with these values and passions.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2018 9:25 am 
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Exercise 3

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

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.

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.

Times when my gut feelings/intuition have been right:

* In the past, nights when he said he would come to bed then didn’t, and I woke up thinking that he was using. When I asked and he said no, turns out he was lying.
* I was right when I isolated his irritability/emotional behaviors listed below as symptoms of use.
* His lack of harder erection and “tuning out” during sex, inability to have orgasm as easily/having to work harder at it.
* His desires to be totally alone with no stimulus usually indicated that he was using.

Times when I allowed my heart/head to override:

* I would ask if he was using and he was so convincing, promising me he wasn’t using. The thing that usually got to me was his active desire to fix the issue, to offer a solution and his self loathing. It felt at the time that those things meant he really would stop.
* At each disclosure, accepting his minimal explanations of things, knowing there was likely some lying by omission happening but being so devastated and shocked that I didn’t press, despite being pretty sure he wasn’t being fully honest.
* Minimized his voyeurism in my mind to something more akin to “scanning”, when it was really sexual harassment, full on voyeur actions coupled with online stalking of strangers and co-workers (picture/video taking of women in public)
* I’ve believed him several times when he’s said he’s not using or minimized his using because he taught me that “doing the right thing” is the best way forward when encountering a hard situation. I have always seen him as the “moral” one in the relationship.

Behaviors/situations that trigger a conflict between my gut and reality:

* Intense introversion
* Inability to be/frustration at being touched
* Staying up late
* Requests for his fetish
* Being rude, interruption, being argumentative for no reason.
* Tuning out and not listening.
* Entirely forgetting that we’d discussed things or had an important conversation
* Suggesting a fix for a problem that is the exact fix I had JUST suggested as if it were his own.
* Passive agressive sexism/mansplaining
* Lack of ability to be a partner, doesn’t do his chores or his share.
* Inability to meet my needs. When asked is passive aggressive about giving them to me.
* He shuts down conversations that are in any way uncomfortable. Engages frequently in stonewalling.


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 8:35 am 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 630
Aletheia - Welcome to Recovery Nation. I am sorry you need to be here, but this is a healing place to be. The lessons were quite helpful to me so I am encouraged that you have started them.

As you will read from the lessons and hear from the partners here, the best advice I can offer is to focus on yourself and your healing. I know how hard this is. I didn't know what it meant when I first heard it, but over time, by focusing on myself, I have begun to heal. In my case, I also started to work with an individual therapist who specialized in treating trauma. That has been very helpful to me.

Given the severe traumatic experiences you have already experienced, and now the trauma of discovery of your husband's addiction, I hope you were find as many healing resources as you can. You deserve them.

With deep compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 9:45 am 
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Thank you Dnell, I appreciate the contact. I'm finding this very helpful. I'm a "doer" and need things to focus on and these lessons are just the thing.

To healing,

Aletheia


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 9:48 am 
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Exercise 4

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

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


Values that are a part of him:

* Passionate
* Has integrity to do the right thing
* Strong desire to solve problems with efficiency, simplicity and beauty
* Loyalty
* Desire to be a deep and spiritual being
* Adventurous

Qualities that will continue to pose obstacles

* Being an introvert/not managing being an introvert well
* Addictive behaviors: Drinking, food etc
* Having a secretive nature
* Tendency to self-loathing
* Deep shame/embarrassment when he doesn’t do 110%
* Selfish


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 2:26 pm 
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Exercise 5

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

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

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


How do I manage my stress?

* Talking it out with someone trusted
* Hair pulling
* Drinking
* Bustling/keeping busy cleaning and organizing our home. It gives me a sense of being in control of my life again
* Rumination
* Snuggling puppehs

Irrational behaviors: I will obsess over his addiction and look for evidence, this is a big issue for me right now. I have a very hard time not just searching for evidence and the panic feeling I get when I find something, even if its very old and has been something I knew about hits me hard and I worry that I’m being compulsive about it. I sometimes lie to make myself look better. I engage in learned helplessness.

Compulsive behaviors I have:

My hair pulling is a behavior I know is compulsive, it occurs much more when I am stressed, concerned, worried. It started when I was in the 7th grade, a time when I was raped and seriously bullied. During that time my mother was also black out drunk a large part of the time. My stress was really high and for some reason I started pulling out my eye lashes. It moved to my hair and at one point I had no eye lashes at all, and patches of missing hair. I am not sure exactly why it started, but I know it has something to do with my mother one night using tweezers to remove an ingrown hair on my head that was causing pain. I’ve always thought that maybe it was comforting/soothing which was rare from her and I imprinted on it.

Not doing it when I am full of anxiety is very difficult, the urge to touch my hair, play with it and pull is overwhelming most of the time and I’ve developed the ability to just play with my hair/one hair with texture instead over the years but I still pull my hair really frequently, just not to the point of baldness/patches anymore.

How he would manage his stress if not with his addiction:

I know he currently uses alcohol to manage stress when he’s not using. That and eating. He also picks at his fingers/cuticles as a way to alleviate tension. I know in times when he’s not been using, he’s frequently eating and/or drinking too much. I think in positive terms, things that would help alleviate stress and urges would be: he would work outside on our property and go hiking/backpacking. After our first D-Day we took up ultra light backpacking and that seemed to help a lot. He would like be more focused on volunteer work we do and find it more fulfilling than a “distraction”. Talking and trusting me with his feelings seems to help a lot, but he isn’t doing that very often right now.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 7:27 pm 
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Exercise 6

Understanding the sexualized mind will go a long way in allowing you to better relate to what you are currently experiencing. The more objective insights and awareness that you develop, the stronger will be your ability to maintain confidence and control in your life. And, the faster it will be achieved.

A. If you have not already done so, consider reading the first half of He Danced Alone.

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

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

Patterns of behavior that I suspect can attribute to a sexualized mind:

* Voyeurism - Whenever we are out at a place that has women with his fetish (tights/nylons) he continually “scans” them, and if he’s attempting not to, its so uncomfortable/awkward that he’s unable to really pay any attention to conversation/me.
* Sexualizing women in our environment. Making things really uncomfortable between myself and other women in our volunteer group because he sexualizes them if they are wearing tights, or are very sexy women or are scantily clad etc. He’s distracted, its awkward and I live in fear that they know he’s taking pictures of them and sexualizing them.
* Kissing: If we kiss more than just a quick peck, he assumes I want sex. If I snuggle up close at night, he will often assume I want sex as well.
* Being asexual. When he’s particularly into porn and using regularly he’s not interested in sex with me because our relationship is sexual, and by denying me sex he’s able to deny his own sexuality. At least thats my theory.

Sexualized Mind
* See above
Objectified Mind
* Definitely objectifies me when we are having sex. When I am “sexy” like porn, he’s very attentive and finds me desirable, but when I just want touch, he’s reluctant and when he’s using often he pushes me away with rude remarks, unable to connect with me, as a person and wife.
* Sees women in public as objects, scans on them, takes pictures of them not noticing how that may make them uncomfortable.
* Despite arguing that he’s a feminist, will look at porn, use porn, take videos and pictures of women in public etc.
* Is able to lie to my face and only fess up to what I’ve been able to prove.
Immediate Gratification
* This is a big one. Eating/drinking etc., we both have issues with wanting instant gratification.
All or nothing perception
* He does this in that he’s sure that I either love or hate him, and he’s sure that others know he’s a failure etc. Allows others to make mistakes and forgives them, seeing them as person who tried, when he makes even the smallest mistake, will be focused on that for hours, about what a total failure and awful person he is.


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2018 9:22 am 
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Exercise 7

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

I. Effective communication
II. Managing your partner's recovery
III. Empowering/disempowering a pursuit of health

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

C. (optional) For those who have made the decision to either stay in the relationship or " wait and see" , considering the roles discussed in this lesson (or additional roles that you have thought of), what changes might you consider making to your relationship that would increase its chances for success?


Effective communication:

* I have done my best to engage in non-threatening and honest communication. I have mentioned and threatened leaving. I have badgered him until he has “disclosed” some things. Over all though I feel that I have done fairly well, considering. For all of his lies, he’s pretty good at being ok with sitting down and communicating.
* As for him seeing emotional support elsewhere, he does have an accountability partner from reboot nation that helps quite a bit it and he’s reached out to another friend to give him support and that went well.
* As for my own emotional support. I tend to feel isolated often, but do have two friends I can discuss issues with and do connect with them occasionally on it. I admit to wanting him to help me, he’s been my best friend and confidant for years and its hard to not be able to get what I need from him.
* We have limited the time we spend on recovery and addiction issues when they come up. We tend to be good at intense working and then we can let it go a bit and do some re-directing and re-connecting. I think this is one of our best team work traits actually, is knowing our boundaries and what we need on this front.
* I DO voice suspicions often. It stems from my insecurity. This is something I definitely need to work on. I tend to bring it up in conversation frequently.
* I DO give him positive feedback and encourage him often.
* I have been working to communicate my needs to him more often. I am thinking of asking for 2-3 things I need a week to see if I’m able to get my needs met as well.

Managing partner’s recovery

* I have been managing his recovery. For years. Its been up to me to check in, me to follow up and me to make disclosure happen when it needed to. This will be very hard for me to let go of, but I totally see why its a good idea now. I’m going to back off totally and draw new boundaries (that don’t have me managing) and start there.
* As for monitoring/looking for evidence. I’ve been obsessing over this for years now, and it doesn’t feel good or make me feel better. I need to both stop but have a safe and clear way of doing this. I think it will be a new part of a boundary to have him allow monitoring (I’ve been doing this off and on secretly when I am sure he’s using, always discovering he is) occasionally and then I will closely monitor my own health in relation.
* For sexuality/intimacy, we still are having sex, and one of my current boundaries is him openly objectifying me during sex. I’m not good at stopping him because I enjoy the attention, but need to re-draw/re-define this for both of us.
* Intense sex for us, I think often triggers him to use. This is something I’m hoping he will come to understand and draw boundaries about as he processes.
* He does use me to replace his addiction. I’m sure of this. I’m not entirely sure how it manifest or what to do about it however.
* I need to pay attention and talk with him about how he’s sexualizing his environment, but so far this hasn’t been a big problem for us.

Empowering my own pursuit of health

* I have been very poor at this. I need to focus on my own recovery.
* I need to re-write my own boundaries and share that with him.
* I would like to take some time each day or several times per week as I need it to be alone and focus on myself.
* I’m committing to this workshop to work through my own co-dependency and help draw out a path forward.

Am I gaining equal resources to heal?

* Yes and no. He’s done a great job of giving me nights to just talk it out and ask questions etc. He’s supported me and helped me manage my physical pain that this causes. BUT… I need to start focusing outside of my relationship to have my needs met. I’d like to come up with a plan (likely part of this workshop) that gives me a timeline way of pampering, processing, working on my own issues. If we had the money, I’d love to take off for a weekend by myself for spa time or something occasionally.

What changes can we make to increase our chances of success?

* Boy this is a hard one. Without the porn, our relationship is actually very very good. We communicate well, spend a lot of time together, are loving, adventurous etc. The Porn brings in the element of deception and negative interactions. I think we have a pretty good chance of success if he overcomes his fear of facing himself and engages in the lessons. I plan to be positive and give positive feedback when he does engage. Therapy may be one thing that helps. This is questionable at this point because we live in a very small town and have the choice of 3 therapists, none of which have SA experience or a focus, so it could be a crap shoot. I think we both may benefit from seeing someone alone rather than in couples counseling as well, but the money isn’t there for that right now.


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2018 10:43 pm 
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Exercise 8

While this workshop is about rebuilding your life, you are nonetheless impacted by the ongoing behavior of your partner (unless you have completely broken away from the relationship). For those who continue to be impacted by their partner's behavior:

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


1. My partner seems to be fully entrenched right now in struggling with relapses. He’s showing many of those behaviors. He abstains and does ok for a while but then the chain of events take hold and he’s gone. I’ve been unhelpful by managing his recovery efforts, and as I step out of that, I think it will be a struggle for him to step into his own recovery and take charge of that. He gets anxiety ridden and “doesn’t have time” etc., due to being overwhelmed.

2. Self loathing. He gets mired in shame and hating himself so much that he often feels so helpless. This is something I think I can help with, but he’s got to start working the lessons and figuring out how this affects him. This in particular may make it difficult for him to isolate the addiction from the “real him”.

3. I don’t know if its possible, but I would like to have a more equal footing on recovery, with us both working hard and sharing in that. Likely a pipe dream but it would be nice. One of my main complaints in the relationship is that I typically “lead” with him “following” and our best times in the past have been when he takes charge of his own life and engages in healing himself, meeting me in the middle.


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 9:51 am 
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Exercise 9

A. What are the key signs that you have observed in your partner that lead you to believe that he/she is engaged in a healthy recovery?
B. What are the key signs that you have observed in your partner that lead you to believe that he/she is NOT engaged in a healthy recovery?
C. How have you communicated your observations to your partner? Have you communicated the healthy observations as well as the unhealthy? How has your partner responded?


Key Signed he’s engaged in a healthy recovery

* None really at this point. He’s tentatively working through the first lessons but keeps putting them off and hasn’t yet prioritized them entirely as a “way through”, but he’s close to that I think once he hits a habit with them. He’s a ways away from being in any active, healthy recovery though.

Key signs he’s NOT engaged in a healthy recovery

* This is a sticky one. I don’t think my partner really wants to lie to me etc, but he does. He gets so sad and disappointed when I point out that any “owning up” or whatever really isn’t that helpful at this point, because it could be lies and/or setting himself up for “alone time” etc. I doubt he’s even really aware of that at this point. He’s been pretty clueless as to how he’s lied to himself, much less me. He gets a blank face and its almost as if he tunes out when I point out his lies, as if he can’t even process it.

How can I communicate these to him?
* Ask for a time to sit down and do that. We have, aside of all of this BS, pretty good habits for communication in place. We never really fight, are respectful etc. I think this will likely come out as he processes his own lessons and is ready to talk about it.


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 9:58 am 
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Exercise 10

Return to your vision created in Stage One; Lesson Two.

A)Select the three most important values that you need right now to help you stabilize your life.
B) For each, think about the meaning and fulfillment you are getting compared to the potential meaning and fulfillment available.
C) Develop a specific plan that will allow you to maximize the potential in each of those three values.
D) List the steps you will take in the next 24 hours to begin strengthening each value.


1. Self controlled enough to be honest and not obsess

1. Its time to consider my own healing and control over my own compulsive behaviors. I realize during this chaos, that I won’t be able to focus 100% on it, but it can be a beginning and learning experience. My husband and I often work well together and if I address my own issues, it may be helpful to do some together. Compulsions I have: Strong desire to investigate his use to control my environment. I do this by asking questions, rumination and when I know he’s using, investigating. I also pull my hair.
2. Specific Plan: Work in my own mind, to relieve myself of this obsessive and compulsive behavior
3. Steps in the next 24 hours: Get a book on this, meditate each morning on it, start awareness of when I first begin to feel this way, sit with the emotions I’m feeling.

2. Living a simple productive and healthy life

1. Life is more complicated than it needs to be with this focus on addiction.
2. Specific Plan: Simplify my surroundings and initiate two healthy habits.
3. Steps in the next 24 hours: Initiate some cleaning/simplifying of a room or two. Continue awareness of my eating habits/keto diet plan, do sun salutations 2 x day.

3. Devoted to doing my Will

1. Bringing my own spiritual practices and volunteering back into the picture.
2. Specific Plan: Do my own ritual every morning and stay on top of my volunteer work
3. Steps in the next 24 hours: Go through and make lists of all projects I’m behind on. Get our new altar set up.


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2018 10:02 am 
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Quote:
Exercise 11

As a partner of someone with an addiction, you are forced to deal with consequences from actions that are beyond your control. Behaviors that are beyond your comprehension — incompatible with the values that you have come to base your life on. The behaviors associated with this addiction have certainly caused a significant disruption in the way that you live your life. And whether you stay in the relationship or not, issues have developed that must be addressed by you in order to regain control of your life.

A. Write a letter to your partner, expressing all of the emotions that you have experienced as a result of their addiction. This is not intended to be a letter that he/she will read, but rather, a letter representing your most intense feelings.

There are several guidelines to follow in writing this letter:

1) If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with anger, to the point where you experience a strong urge to act upon your emotions, then STOP. This is a letter that can be written at a later time. The benefit for doing it now is to purge yourself — in a safe and 'controlled' manner — of some of the extreme, intense emotions that you may be feeling. Or, to become aware of feelings that you may not have realized were there.

2) Do not write this letter in an environment where it can be read by your partner. This is for you to share your feelings openly and honestly — without thought to your partner's reaction.

3) If you would like to post this letter in your Personal Healing Thread, please do so, but it is not essential that you do.

B. Upon completion of your personal letter, it will be your task to write one more. This one, a letter from your partner to you. In this letter, take some time to think about what it is you would say, " if you were them" . How would you apologize? How would you offer reassurance? How would you explain the behavior? The key to this exercise will be in your ability to write a letter that, if you were to read this from their own hand, would fill you with confidence that they understand the pain and confusion they have caused you.



Dear Husband,

There’s no one in my life I have respected more than I respected you. When we first started hanging out, your genuine love and approach to being with me led me to believe you were a safe person to be with. Given the trauma I had endured, both in my relationship with J, but also with my mother and other traumas, I never expected to feel safe again. Simply put, I felt very strongly we had a solid foundation to build a good and strong marriage from.

In reality this was partially true, and that same respect I had for you allowed us to build a fairly strong foundation. Now I find we desperately need that just to get through this intact as a couple. I don’t believe we could survive this if we didn’t have that. I also believe, that while you were investing in our relationship, you didn’t realize at the time how addicted you were and how it would manifest in your life. I don’t hold that part against you.

Despite what I know about addiction now, I still do very much hold the rest of it against you.

The knowledge that you had lied to me once broke my heart and then it kept happening over and over. Each time, it brings back all of the old trauma, pain, feelings of helplessness and being trapped in an abusive relationship right to the forefront. The weakness of heart and mind I felt during my hysterectomy recovery, with you so present to help me, but lying to my face and looking at porn in the background, while I was in one of the most vulnerable places in my life, feels like a very deep betrayal. I know you know this. My gut at the time was scared as hell to trust you or anyone (remember, one of my best friends turned on me days prior) but I had to trust you in order that I might recover from that surgery, and thus was betrayed. I don’t know if I can ever communicate to you how much that hurt me. Sometimes now when I think about it, it still physically makes me ill and I can physically feel my heart breaking.

The hardest part in all of this is truly seeing you as an addict. Believing that you aren’t in control, that you could escalate at any point, that you could become some monster, a monster that I would have to add to my collection. That is hard to believe. That thought is terrifying to me. Its hard now to sit on the couch, hearing you tell me about your day, about things you saw that might be triggering. You see this as showing me your sincerity of recovery, I see it as another time when you are likely lying, omitting, possibly trying to be successful at gas-lighting me. I sit and smile, thank you for being open, positively reinforce you, but my heart is breaking again. Every single day, breaking again.

I think about how you tell me about your relapses. You say you “don’t know how it happened” but you do. You chose to allow it to happen. You chose to take sexual gratification from other women and then tell me it just happened. Like getting hit by a car, you had nothing to do with it and now look how sad, sorry and ashamed you are. Getting hit by that porn car made your life hard because now you have to explain why you were there just standing innocently in the crosswalk. Its hard for me to be supportive when I know you are lying. When I know you just chose to do it because you wanted it and now you are trying to soften the blow because you can’t handle how it makes me feel and what it means about you.

Do you realize the difference between how we both have to deal with this? You get to be the victim of your addiction. A faceless thing. You only have to make the choice to get better, and then work to do so. You have my full support. Daily all you have to do is reach out, and I am there for you. Hard day working lessons? No worries, here I am. I’m here to listen, give advice, hold you and comfort you. I feed you and help manage your life. You have the luxury of having failed yourself but someone’s here to help you heal. When you heal, you get to move on, knowing you are a better person and now have the reward of a great life and marriage. When you see yourself through my eyes, you get to see someone worthy of my love and attention, because I have been here, loyal to you the whole time giving you that.

What do I get? I did nothing wrong. I gave my life to you and yet you threw me away. Over and over again, you just threw me away. You shamed my sunny disposition, you sent contempt my way when I felt true joy. You acted revolted by me and pushed me away. You traumatized me, you violated me, you saw me as an object because you were selfish and wanted to feel better and didn’t care how it affected me. I have to be a victim of you. When I see myself through your eyes, I get to see someone disposable yet worthy of enough apologies to keep me around because I’m good for things. Good to relieve your urges of sex, food, someone to talk to, someone to help you through life. You are the person I was supposed to be able to trust. The person who I was supposed to be able to learn how and why I was a lovable person from. I learned I’m shit, an annoying thing that wasn’t at all that interesting, at least not enough to keep your attention for more than a few hours, and then…. And then ONLY if I did it your way. All I get now, when I need, is your addiction. “Here, take some of my addiction, self hatred… let’s talk more about that”. I’ve said it several times in our relationship, but you never seem to hear it:

There is no room for me here. Your self hatred fills it all. There is no room for me here. There is so little room for me that you can’t even see this. If I exist, it is to be pushed aside for your immediate gratification.

Somedays the feeling of being traumatized is unbearable. My mind just can’t wrap itself around how you would do these things to me. My lessons are right. You can’t see it now. You are focused only on your addiction, yourself, your survival as an addict and can’t yet even see the pain and suffering unless I’m right there, crying in front of you. Then you can’t bear to see it and look away and don’t want to touch me because its so real and you caused it. In the same breath you will tell me its ok to tell you how I feel, then glaze over and not even be able to look at me when I do because it hurts you. It makes me feel ashamed of my feelings, thus wanting to hide them yet again. My feelings usually cause things to be worse. In the past, they caused relapse. My own feelings of pain and desperation, cause more pain and desperation. You can never understand how much that causes me to feel trapped and crazy.

Despite all of this, I am learning that you can learn to see this, learn to over come. I don’t see you making these lessons top priority yet, but I’m hoping you will as you dig into them. I do think you’ll do it, but I see a relapse coming… maybe it will even be today. Then I think you will realize that you need to prioritize this or lose it all. Maybe even today. Its just so exhausting protecting myself from you.

I imagine myself sometimes, living here in our house, alone without you. Its terrifying and yet very comforting. After my first marriage broke, leaving me utterly terrified, with a 3 year old but without an education, a career or money at 23, I swore I would never, ever be financially dependent on a man again. Without feeling animosity toward you or ill wishes in any way, I have to say it feels really good to know that you are the one financially dependent on me. I would be just fine. I can pay the mortgage and keep our beautiful home on the river. I can pay my bills, and I can survive alone. The terrifying aspect is the alone part. I’m relieved about that because I can learn how to handle that.

Despite those feelings of both being scared of being alone, and the comforting thoughts that I could protect myself so no one could ever make me feel this way again… I’d much rather imagine a future with us together, working as a team to build our lives. I want that so much more. I know you can do this and that your core values make it so that you have to, or you will destroy yourself. You have strength and the fortitude to overcome this ordeal. Its time to face it. I love you and despite everything I’ve said here, I care deeply for you and will always be here to help you face it. As you know in your heart of hearts: The only way out of any ordeal, is through. I can’t ask you to do it, and you shouldn’t do it for me, but rather for yourself. Then maybe you can find room in your life for me. I have a lot to give and I think we could do some amazing things together and be very happy.

Love,

Your Wife


[This letter from him to me is almost impossible to write. Sure, I can say what I “want” to hear, but that isn’t even close to a reality right now. I can’t believe most of what he says, everything said to me is in service to his emotional state, either to comfort him, or to reinforce his own self hatred, in any case, its all about him. I can’t imagine a letter that might begin to fix anything….]

Dear Wife,

I know that saying “I’m sorry” at this point isn’t helpful. It hasn’t meant anything in the past at all. Yes, I’ve said it a thousand thousand times and I believed at the time it was real, but then how long did that last? I am sorry though. Always. I’m sorry I violated the core of what we have together with my weakness and addiction. I will begin to show you through actions, rather than giving you meaningless apologies.

I know that the best thing for me to do now is to put all of my energies into my lessons and recovery, that I work as a team with you and do what I can to make amends. I don’t have any way to reassure you that I will do this, but I will check in with you daily, let you know how I am doing and through my actions, you’ll see that I can beat this. I will strive to understand the damage I have done and will meaningfully work to heal that.

I will be honest with you. I will trust that you are here for me without taking it for grated. To lie to you or omit details or minimize my actions is to take for granted your love and trust in me. I will strive for full disclosure at all times and when I realize that I didn’t disclose fully in the past, I will remedy that as soon as I realize it. You deserve to know the truth and where things stand. It is the only way that you will begin to trust me again, and I desperately want you to trust me. I want to show you that I need that. I want to show you that I want a future with us that is more than just what you can do for me.

I love you, my life with you means everything to me and I will fight to keep that. I want to see us standing on a mountain together, free of this. Fully together in our magical world, with love under will.

Love,

Your Husband


Last edited by aletheia on Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 9:29 am 
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Exercise 12

A. Describe where you are now in terms of your response to the discovery of your partner's addiction. Not where you were last month, or where you hope to be next month. Where are you right now?

Example: " I continue to struggle with obsessive thoughts about where he and what he is doing when I'm not around. I have no sexual desire whatsoever. My moods range from apathy to despair. When we talk, I feel intense rage at what he has done to my life."

B. Because you have experienced a traumatic event in your life — and the discovery that the foundation of your life has been jeopardized is severely traumatic — there are common patterns that you should expect and even prepare for in the months and years to come. Discuss what these patterns might be and how you will deal with them. There are no right or wrong answers here. The goal is to begin looking ahead with a realistic and constructive eye. To realize that with even the best healing process in place, the trauma that you have experienced will have a lasting — albeit not permanently destructive — effect on your life.

Where I am at now in terms of responses:

In general I feel like I am past the most recent disorienting stage and fairly calm. I found the list of ways people feel to be really helpful to identify those as symptoms of trauma. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’ve been in some sort of traumatic state for years and years. I don’t know why it didn’t really occur to me that I was suffering that, but these lessons have helped me to put those into perspective. I’m doing my best to care for myself, knowing that even if I’m calm, it doesn’t mean I’m not feeling those effects of trauma.

Here’s what I’m feeling from the list currently:

* Rumination relating to the partner's sexual behavior
* Obsessive checking behavior
* Hyper alertness to partner's activities, moods and mannerisms
* Feeling sexually distracted by visions of his use.
* Feeling " scattered" and unable to focus on daily activities
* Feeling emotionally "numb," withdrawn or disconnected from others
* Increased reliance on alcohol. Also using more CBD to sleep
* Hypersensitivity to sexually-related stimuli (e.g. advertising, attractive women, movies/television, business trips, etc.)
* Not violent revenge fantasies perse, but I’ve always escaped during times of very high stress with a partner imagining that they have died (naturally or accident, not involved with me) and what my life might be like. This sometimes is helpful, as I then can remember how I cherish them, but mostly I fantasize about how safe I will feel/how the stimulus of the trauma is gone.
* Emotionally sensitive to sexual contact, looking for signs of being objectified.
* Generalized distrust. When friend offer help, friendship, my mind says “yeah, right.” first.

My patterns of dealing with trauma:

Typical discoveries have started with fear, bodily shaking, paranoia, panic attacks where I feel unsafe in my house, feelings of being trapped in the house, like I want to run, but can’t, excessive rumination and obsessively checking his behavior. I try and talk to him, elicit a disclosure. This usually takes several times but he eventually does. So far, each time I’ve thought he was using/my intuition told me he was, he 100% was.

Once that happens, I usually have 2-3 days of crying off and on, inability to sleep, feelings of deep betrayal, anger, frustration, feeling trapped and helpless. I also have feelings of shame, worthlessness, a lot of “how could this be happening to me?”, disgust with myself.

At some point we reconnect, even a little. He usually initiates this with comforting and the tension resolves into us working on things within a few days. This phase often causes me to feel hyper sexual, seeking to have him comfort my hurt self worth. It feels good in the moment, but has underlying feelings of knowing that I can’t trust him or what he says about me, and knowing that these are likely unconscious manipulations on his part to have sex when he’s feeling the loss of his use after being caught. His “urges” and his desire go hand in hand.

This last relapse I was able to watch this process happen and since I was going away for the weekend to hang with one of my girlfriends and that was pre-planned I planned some alone time too to think and process it all, which was very helpful.


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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:38 am 
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Exercise 13

A. One of the first steps on the road to healing is to take inventory of all the ways that your partner's compulsive behavior has affected you. Begin listing these consequences and post them in your Healing Thread..

Given the complex nature of addiction, especially as it relates to family and relationships, this process should take several hours, rather than several minutes. It will be important for you to consider the affects to your physical, emotional, social, spiritual, economic, interpersonal, potential selves — as well as any other area that you feel is relevant. There are no right or wrong answers, only ways that you believe this behavior may have impacted your life.

B. Rate the affect of each consequence from a 1-10. " 1" will represent the most significant consequence that your partner's addiction has had on your life. Do not worry bout which consequence might be a " 6" and which might be a " 7" ; or which is " 1" and which is " 2" — what is important is to gain a general idea of the impact (or potential impact) they have had on your life.


Physical
* 3 - More physical pain: Stress brings on body pain symptoms
* 5 - Lack of energy to want to exercise and be healthy
* 3 - “It doesn’t matter” if I look good, as I can’t compete
* 5 - Stopped dressing sexy because I’m afraid of being objectified/losing his actual attention and turning into a porn plaything instead.
* 7 - Feel less invested in shaving, grooming because he doesn’t care, doesn’t notice.
* 2 - Feel insecure about various parts of my body he never touches. He’s mainly only interested in touching me to “turn me on” rather than as any form of sensual touch leading up to sex.

Emotional

* 2 - Highly insecure now
* 4 - Feel panic often
* 6 - Depression/lack of energy for the future
* 6 - Feeling of being helpless/“it doesn’t matter” about the future
* 2 - I’ve learned to not have opinions about things because his needs usually come first (this is complicated, but if he doesn’t get what he wants, he just tunes out to TV etc., and if relapsing, looking at porn rather than enjoy a movie with me etc, just as an example.)
* 2 - Going out on dates has become triggering because he scans the room for women. He’s gotten better now that he knows I’m watching, but now dinner consists of him purposefully NOT looking, its just awkward and painful. Either way, “us” isn’t the focus.
* 1 - Everything is hard. We’re always processing. I can’t focus on my own life, creative projects etc. I’m focusing on THIS. ALL OF THE TIME.

Social

* 2 - I often feel guilty, ashamed, humiliated around women he’s taken pictures of/found sexy in the past. They aren’t aware (I don’t think) of his creeping on them, but I feel really bad about it. If he’s around them with me, I am on high alert for him sexualizing and objectifying them.
* 4 - For my friends that know about it, which isn’t a lot, I feel ashamed and humiliated. Like they feel sorry for me, which…. They likely do.
* 7 - In the past I may have befriended certain men, but now I am always on the look out that they are addicts or objectify women often. This may, in fact be a good thing, but I am less tolerant of men now. Now I am afraid of men who are sexual, similar to him and/or who show lack of control over almost anything.

Spiritual

* 1 - Again, THIS is what I am doing. Recovering. Managing. My spiritual practices are minimal as “self care” from this. I live in a triage state most of the time.

Economic

* 8 - In the past with my previous husband, this was epic. I lost tens of thousands of dollars to teen phone sex lines. In this relationship it has low impact.
* 6 - Stress spending, eating, drinking. We’ve reigned this in a lot but its still there.

Interpersonal

* 9 - I have a hard time being intimate with anyone. Interpersonal intimacy with him and my friends is an important aspect of my life, but I’m feeling so much less trusting now. When I do fall into being intimate with him now, its almost like “pretending”. Pretending its all ok, and hoping it doesn’t get ruined (spoiler: it will) and so opening up is more of a thing I “do” sometimes, rather than really “feel”.


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