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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 8:05 am 

Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:49 am
Posts: 2
My H is a recovering SA in a 12 stp program and according to him doing very well, has not acted out or lusted.

I have demanded to know his every thought and until last week he was confessing to me every woman he thought about or was triggered by, compulsive thoughts...everything. Now he refuses to talk to me about his thoughts and while everyone we have sough council from has told us this is not healthy to share details I am really struggling with not knowing.

He will now only tell me if he has has good or bad days...defined by him. I am having an extremly hard time dealing with knowing what his thoughts had been and now he is just telling me he is having good days...which may be the case but I just don't buy it. I know that it is unhealthy to know details but now that I do know every past detail I am obsessing over his percieved (by me) thoughts. Any advice or similar stories are appreciated.


PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 8:57 am 

Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:48 pm
Posts: 43
Have you asked him why he has stopped sharing with you?


Let your dreams be bigger than your fears, Let your actions be louder than your words

PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:44 am 

Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:49 am
Posts: 2
At the advice of all trusted support people, including my own mother. Says it's not safe to share so many details. I'm just having a hard time accepting the advice.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 4:08 pm 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 666
karnerb, I am so sorry for how painful this all is. I can relate. I've been back and forth on how much I want to know. I do know that IF these men stay on a sincere journey to a healthy life, honest disclosures will continue. If they are truly healthy in late recovery, as Jon says (I think this is right), that is when there should be no more secrets. I know my husband has been advised not to tell me too much right now (both from his individual therapist and our marriage counselor). The marriage counselor says its not the disclosure that is the issue, it is the motive behind it. I do not think at this point in my husband's early recovery that he can tell me everything because: 1) he has not yet embraced absolute honesty as a core value; 2) he still is not honest with himself; 3) he still is grappling with guilt and shame (though much better than in the past); 4) he is still quite worried about my reaction.

I know that there are some details I do not want to know. For example, do I really need the crude descriptions of female body parts and their appeal? Do I need to hear the intoxication in his voice when he tells me about some of the fantasies? Do I need these pictures in my head? Do I want to compare myself to every woman he fantasizes about (that would take me forever since it is just about anybody with female genatalia between 10 and 50)? Do I want to hear how all these women compare to me? I don't want to know this. It is damaging to me. I do want to know, when he is ready to tell me in an honest way, what the heck the fantasies were all about (perfect love, perfect sex, what?); how much and how long; that sort of thing. I re-read Jon's book and it actually helped me get some sense of what this is all about. I actually am getting more of a sense about what this is all about in my husband's addiction. It's sad. It's pathetic, actually. And when I am being compassionate, I can clearly see it as a result of early childhood issues. These men are incredibly and shockingly immature. They are also really, really damaged.

Are you doing the RN lessons? They have been immensely helpful to me. I am also in indivdiual therapy. My therapist has said to me, "do I really want to know" and my answer is, 'yes if I stay' and 'no if I don't.'

I've learned to back off getting disclosure. I have asked my husband to let me know if he is "not present" with me in any situation so I can have the option to decide what to do (stay, go, take a break, whatever given the situation). We'll see if he can do this or not.

Lastly, I trust my gut now. If I think he is acting out, my bet is he is acting out. So, I'm not hostage to his being honest and respectful enough to clue me in on his stuff.

Hope this helps.


PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:17 am 
General Mentor

Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:47 pm
Posts: 694
Welcome to RN!
Your post raises an interesting topic, so I would like to throw in some ideas based on my own experience.

As you, I asked my H to share these uncomfortable details in real time, as they happen...we were a good few months after Dday .. maybe 6 or 7. Why? Not that I was a sucker for punishment and I quite perfected remaining calm when my blood was boiling ... heck, in time I would go in some sort of trance state of being prepared to hear anything, just so I can make it a safe space for him to share. I would not allow myself to react emotionally no matter how hurtful it was, I would just acknowledge it and thank him for his honesty. What honesty? My H made up all of those stories when I would press for sharing of acting out events like scanning and flirting. He made them up with lots of details (I've met this woman on the hallway, she was very tall, I looked but diverted my eyes ... blah blah ... lots of details, all made up to give me what I "wanted to hear" so "I can be happy". Of course, the real acting out/struggle was kept hidden, never shared, not even to this day ... only general stuff, never details). But for me at that time his lies were a measure of his honesty, efforts and commitment to recovery. They were my only hope ... So you can imagine the horror to find out about months worth of very skillfully planned manipulation, all for "my sake" ... I was utterly shocked about how skewed can values like honesty and the truth be in an addict mind. But, from that point on I understood once and for all that I'm on my own ...

Now, not that I believe your H necessarily lies to you about these things ... however, chances are he is trying to manipulate you through what he shares especially if he is in early recovery. Even if he tells you the truth, it may not be the whole truth ... remember, he is extremely aware of the fact that you are trying to get to know his real face and probably he cannot resist picturing a better or inaccurate image of himself because he is the only biased source of this knowledge ... until the moment when you stumble upon some hard core evidence against it.

But do ask yourself ... as Dnell said ... what is the reason behind your need for knowing? My best guess is that it gives you the illusion of control. Beware of that. You should not base your balance upon your H's sharing/words at this time. What would happen if you truly believe he is honest and he tells you everything and then one day you find out he is not and it was all smoke? Your world will come crumbling down yet once again. I would advise caution around that and I would take everything with a grain of salt.

If your reason is ... you want to get to know the real him ... well, at this stage, the real him is not a definite entity. He is in the making. He has to sort out his thoughts, pick and choose values, exercise a lot ... the addict is not his real self and working through your lessons, you will come across this distinction.

Maybe you want to know the addict self ... to know the worst bits of him before hopefully he discards them forever ... well, do you have the stomach for it? I do ... But because I also have my own issues which really prevent me from being stuck in a judgemental frame of mind. If I didn't, believe me, it would probably have been almost impossible to still want this relationship to continue knowing what I know about him. As Dnell said ... the intoxication in his voice ... which he denies to this day ... and many other things ... it's all too much to bear ... talk about value conflict ... But in my unique case, unfortunately, I've experienced it myself so ... when I feel that distinct taste of angry disgust ... well, all I have to do is think about my own experience and I have insight information that helps me cope.

And ... something that worries me bit ... you sound like you "NEED" this info ... to be able to even breath/function ... sounds compulsive which is quite common in early stages ... just monitor it and make sure you progress from that stage ... believe me ... you personally DON'T NEED anything from him to regain your balance and to heal from this mess. Your relationship DOES NEED disclosure but only when he is ready to be an equally involved partner and he integrated honesty as core value, no matter the outcome of his confessions. If I were you I would suspend the relationship indefinitely (meaning I would not push it forward at all costs or putting pressure on you to take decisions regarding the outcome of your marriage up until a certain period of time has elapsed ... on RN people usually advise to "wait and see" for about 1 year) and focus on myself ... the best way for that is to do the lessons.

Anyways, my best advice to you is ... do the lessons ... get the basic understanding of how this SA thingy works in general (especially the bits about protecting themselves, emotional immaturity, fear, rejection, deception ...), learn how to recognise some patterns in your own situation ... then analyse your motives behind wanting him to share ... then you will be in a better position to assess what you want to hear. And once you take an informed decision, nobody has any right to tell you otherwise. Just know that it does not necessarily mean they will play along ... Our Hs are so good at "protecting" us from the pain they cause ... that there is no telling whether he will not choose to "protect" you against your own will.

I know how it feels to want to know at all costs ... It's the illusion of control. By knowing you think you can protect yourself from what is coming. But the truth is, you cannot. Not like that. You can never regain control over someone else's thoughts or actions. Only over yourself. The knowledge you are seeking is not his to give to you. The knowledge is in the RN community and lessons.
It took me long to understand this ... months of chaos, pain, torture ... but finally I understood that the only place where I should not look for the truth is in his words. Give yourself the gift of patience, as Nellie James says. Patience to be confused, patience to not know, patience to make mistakes. You will see that healing happens in your own rhythm and most of the times, advice given becomes precious and valuable only after not following it. It's alright. It's as it should be. You will get there. Change happens.

"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy

PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 2:06 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:49 pm
Posts: 3834
I see that you are very new to RN and the healing workshop. So my first recommendation is that you do the lessons, taking them in the order given, no cherry picking, and do the hard work they require. For me, it was freeing to gain an education about this kind of addiction so I could begin to separate myself from H's behavior and focus on myself and my own healing. Early lessons in the workshop helped me get to this point. I also realized that I couldn't unring a bell and wished I didn't know as much as I did - like you, I demanded to know. The lessons helped me work through that pain.

Next, trust your personal insight and build on it:
I know that it is unhealthy to know details but now that I do know every past detail I am obsessing over his percieved (by me)
You realize you are obsessing and it's unhealthy - you are right. :g: Regardless of his motivations of telling you or not telling you about his thoughts, his struggles, what's key here is that you are sacrificing yourself to his addiction instead of your healing. I know how hard it is to let go of being included in his process, of being the detective, of feeling you have the right to know what's going on in his head even when he may not even know what's going on in his head well enough to relate it. Again, the lessons will help you do this but it will take your putting your energy there. You may have to come up with your action plans to interrupt your own patterns of behavior....I did. I came up with my own arsenal of alternative things to do the moment I felt myself sliding back into that fog.

These early days are an emotional roller coaster, no question. Doing the workshop lessons will help you achieve emotional balance, little by little. As hard as it is, you have to turn your H over to himself and his own process. He has to find his way and sincerely want to become healthy just for himself. Your job is to find your way and heal yourself so you can pursue the life you want based on what you value. None of this is easy.

At some point, you may be able to work out a communication format for a weekly check in with basic rules that you both agree to. For now, doing the lessons is more important.

When you have questions, need support, or need to vent, this community forum will be here to listen, make suggestions, and share thoughts and experiences.

Please give yourself the gift of patience. :w:
Nellie James

PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 5:21 pm 

Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2014 3:43 pm
Posts: 64
Hello Karneb, warmest welcome to this forum. You are in the right place here. :g:
I have read the compassionate and fantastic replies you got. They are all from fellow travellers whose opinion and sharing I value very much. They helped me too and I hope they will guide you to the beginning of your healing work and away from the focus on your partner. Not saying this applies to you, but I have once been very compulsive about understanding and fixing him. Not a good place to be, but sadly a place too many of us have visited, instead of healing ourselves.

The knowing too is a biggy for most of us. It is a very individual choice I would say. You will learn as you go along how much you can stomach. Listen to your inner self and then ask your partner to respect what you need in that way to promote your healing. If he sabotages your healing distance yourself. My partner was very scared by watching me grow back into 'me' and it can cause them to react in unhealthy ways. For me this trial and error process was very painful, but I am there now and know myself quite well and what I can tolerate and overcome, even if it has kicked me in the stomach at first. I am learning my own strength from it.

I was like you and wanted to know every single detail. Before my partner started his recovery work here on RN he actually used the telling to torture me. A memory I don't like to revisit. It took me a while to see the manipulating act in his confession and the selfish confession-relief-absolution cycle behind his honesty front. The intoxication in his voice that dnell mentions, uuhhhuu brrr, I shudder going back to those memories. Did he get some kick out of telling me back then? a cruel one - yes I am sure of it now. Nothing changed from his honesties, but his addiction in fact got worse after each relapse-confession-out of sight/out of mind for him and living with it every day/in debilitating pain for me - cycle. What I am saying is that in my experience when recovery is not a serious determination for a SA then the telling of all details may have derived or will result in illogical, unhealthy emotions and patterns in our partners. This may not be true for all partners, but with us it was so. Back then I obsessively needed to know everything. Because I truly believed that if he was totally, totally, toooootally honest and then I could find it in my heart to accept him as he is and then give him the ultimate proof of my love by still wanting spend my life with him despite his 'past',.....then surely he would be a changed man!? It was extremely painful to learn that I was totally wrong about my assumptions. I did not realize then the sheer force of this thing. SA are much more damaged than I realized and no normal logic applies. Sadly....

My partner has joined RN back in July and worked on his lessons ever since with varying degree of commitment. I joined in November after the recent dday confessions. By this time my partner had more need to disclose details. To the point that I felt bulldozed with him off loading all the info. There was not much consideration to how I would feel. But in the end I valued the honesty even though I felt quite pummelt by it all. And it is now essential for our survival as a couple. Only with honesty I can learn to trust. Nothing else will do. Not telling is a lie for me.

The images in our minds...this is another biggy that results from 'too much info', well even a little can do this. We have an imagination too - and it can run riot on 'untold' things. I have struggled with this a lot and still do to a point. But these images kind of faded without me forcing it since my confidence in myself returned. I do not feel inferior to the pathetic fantasies and disgusting actions any longer. We get dismantled during our relationship. And the secret to rising above this lies in putting ourselves back together. With that other things will also not have the power of us any longer. It is like a small miracle every day to realize that. If you do the lessons, participate in the forum and work with every tool you can find outside of RN then you will feel stronger hopefully sooner than you expect.

We just had a rocky time, because despite all of what my partner did here on RN so far he sadly lacked real commitment. His writings and words sounded promising, but there was no real commitment behind it. No real will power. My partner sadly was too comfortable with the old gunky stuff. He has only very recently realized this himself. But I feel he may finally have committed. I think this, because of how we talk. Or more importantly how he talks with me. I feel he wants to change now. Most of us have developed a pretty fine tuned bullshit radar for our partners and what I feel now is different from only days ago. But it took a lot of pulling back, avoidance, denial, lashing out etc for him/us to get to this stage and we only got there yesterday! And already the haunting images are fading a bit more. That quick. It just happens. Are they gone? No. May I still get a flash? Yes I fully expect it. Am I ready to make a big leap of faith back into his arms? No way. BUT they are fading and hope is a fragile plant that grows inside me. So I am thinking that the ingredients for leaving the past behind are our confidence and seeing change in our partners that feels truly real. We have been made to feel like we are worthless, because we were betrayed despite all the good we gave to them and we were never worth it for them enough to inspire change. Or so it felt anyway for too long. Here you will learn the dynamics which will help you separate addiction from the man. Something I struggled with so much only weeks ago and I am finding it comes more easily most of the time now.

It is important to most of us that we have big input in how much we want to be told. The lies damaged and honesty becomes a healing force and in a way a proof of love too. While I think the main issue may be that we are being approached and told the truth. Not having to drag it out of them. This is what I felt I had to do (was often compulsed to do) when my partner was still holding on to addiction more than the wanting of a nurturing life. Now he volunteers the information most of the time. In line with how much his current level of self-awareness allows him. Other things we figure out together by talking - a lot. The sense of partnership that derives from those discussions and the honesty and sharing of our feelings good and bad, is slowly starting to override the once haunting images. I am quite in awe of this process as it is a new revelation to me. My partner's honesty is helping me heal. And I would rather know too much than too little. In my partner's case we both see the danger that if he had to think too much about things or had to be too careful, he may make the wrong judgement of what I would consider worth knowing. He spent so many years putting fantasy thoughts in my head (always off the mark as his thought processes were so warped) that he often cannot see the woods for the trees yet in that respect. He needs to learn to examine his motifs honestly first. And he is not a master of this yet. But getting better. And if he is unsure he now has he courage to approach me and ask me for help. If we can work it out then great, but he also work a real lot on RN now.

I may be wrong, but if your husband does what I used to call 'fair weather-confessing' when my partner did it, which is basically only confessing when it is mainly good stuff/stuff that makes him look better than he is or not as bad at least, then recovery is maybe not quite sincere yet or in the very early stages. This does not mean it cannot change. I find that the biggest closing up/regression/denial can sometimes be the prelude to real change. They are getting themselves ready, but are terrified of stepping up yet, but still wanting to. I cannot judge which stage your husband is at right now, I can only share my story in that respect.

Most of all please listen to what your heart tells you. I personally found that advice, however well meaning and loving, from someone who has not actually lived this torturous SA tainted life we have, may not have all the information to base their advice on. SA is a specialist field and often beyond advice from an outsider. So I stopped asking them, I thank them dearly and move onto RN, do lessons, talk with my partner, learn from the forum and rebuild myself and my frame of life.

Please consider doing the lessons and I can only recommend reading Jon's book 'he danced alone'. I found it shocking at first and then as I read on I developed a compassion I did not have prior. I only finished the book a couple of days ago.

Wishing you all the strength you need.

NewDawn x
Giving up is not an option...
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
she became a Butterfly!

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