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 Post subject: Marriages that survived?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:31 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:39 am
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I am still very early in my discovery (august). I am on other forums and everyone tells me to get out as fast as I can. My heart still is hopeful. That my SAH wants to and can change. I understand everyone has their own experiences. But anyone out there staying married and having an intimate happy marriage?
My SAH is of the kind that played perfect husband and is my best friend, while he kept his addiction and secret life.

I just want to hear both sides as I figure this all out....


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:29 pm 
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This is an impossible question for anyone to answer at this early stage. Whether your relationship survives this crisis depends on many different factors, such as how strong your relationship has been in all other respects and whether your husband chooses healing over his habit. Chances are, either you as an individual or both of you as a couple might benefit from a relationship therapist who is aware of sex and porn addiction.

Most of the women here have remained in their marriages but I would say that the perfect happy-ever-after recovery is rare, and probably needs two very committed partners and the best therapist. That’s not the case for many couples. Mostly we end up with a “good enough” relationship but often with unaddressed issues that continue to surface but are never fully resolved. Bear in mind that most of us here are in long haul relationships of 15, 20 and sometimes 30+ years. Priorities are different depending on circumstances. It’s far easier to leave a shorter term relationship where there are no kids, jointly owned property, shared finances etc.

With regard to the SA and his recovery, some quit successfully, others never intend to and some try but relapse repeatedly. It depends entirely on your partner’s motivation. You can’t predict it or control it. Only he can.

Remember, relationships can survive or fail for many other reasons. Nobody can predict. All you can do is work on your own recovery. I suggest you work through the partner lessons. You’ll learn a lot about addiction and about your own self care, which is far more important. There is no formula for success. You need to work out your own boundaries and decide on what you can accept in your relationship and what are the ultimate dealbreakers. Please work through the lessons. You’ll learn more from that than anything we can respond with.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:36 pm 
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I'm 11 years into this. We've done RN, therapy, retreats, studied countless books, worked on him, on me, the relationship till it hurts. It makes no difference. The ability to stop the behavior lies with them. An interesting coincidence I saw your post. Today I've stopped trying, and I'm figuring - how do I get out. Why after 11 years of the hardest work I've ever? Why when he no longer looks at porn, "only" masturbates? Because, for me, if I don't have the reason I choose one above all others, why stay?

There's always the proverbial last straw. Today, for better or for worse it fell in my lap. I've felt something was "off" for a few months. You know the feeling, we all do. The spidey-sense we can't ignore, as hard as they try to avoid it. I gave him multiple safe ways to come clean. He didn't. I finally sat him down and told him I won't go into a New Year with secrets. Head in his hands, "I don't want to lie anymore." Tells me he's been masturbating for months, and I don't care about masturbating. I care that the fallout, the being flooded with shame and guilt makes him lie and avoid all contact with me.

I no longer care he doesn't look at porn anymore, because the result is the same. Lying, and avoiding intimacy in all its forms. I asked him if there was anything else? He said no, that's it. What about our recent trip in November? Did you do it there? No. Are you sure? Yes, I'm being truthful. But he wasn't. Today, in therapy it came out and not because he volunteered. I might be staying if he had. If he'd done one thing to show me change. But he didn't. It was the same dance as 11 years ago with less drama and no tears. I don't have tears anymore, and my compassion, although present as always is taking a well-deserved rest behind the truth. The vision of me, sitting under the Kauai moonlight- alone, while he wants to stay and read in the room is very motivating.

So, I tried for a 1/5 of my life, because I believed in something I shouldn't have, but now, no longer do. He is sick. He isn't getting better and I'm done giving up most of my life to this. Yesterday, I got an email from Penzu. A fabulous online journal. The entry was written January 2, 2018, could have been written today before the straw fell. I never tell other people what to do, I'm just telling you my story. Take what helps you and ignore the rest. Be well.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:16 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
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Violet, I'm so sorry. I hear the exhaustion but I also hear the resolve. You've done everything over these last 11 years, but your husband seems to still need to masturbate to self soothe.

My therapist reminded me today that when an addict gets sober, they are developmentally the age at which the addiction started. That is, the addiction stunted emotional development. My husband is a sober 12 year old. He's 75 years old chronologically, but an emotional 12 year old. He's reduced his raging and blaming, but he still struggles with taking responsibility for his behavior. He still struggles with authenticity and integrity. And he does not have the ability to communicate in an adult way. He has to learn all of this since he skipped learning for over 60 years.

What I see as the two hardest areas for my recovering husband to heal is developing a healthy, mature sexuality; and overcoming fear of emotional intimacy. They are connnected, these two issues, but also have their own issues. Choosing masturbation and keeping it secret from your sexually available, and usually wanting, partner, that's immature. And the important point is that they choose this behavior. It's what is familiar, what they know, and so much safer than risking change. I think it makes a marriage hopeless but doesn't make us personally hopeless. It is tragic and sad, and there is so much to grieve.

Bravesoul, in the various support groups of partners I am or have been involved with, I'd say there are three of four women who believe they have good marriages. I can't say any of them say they are in the marriages they really wanted, but that they are better than what they had and good enough. Most of the partners I know, stay, but not all. Many are like Violet, in that they finally just can't do it anymore EVEN with a sober husband who is still unable to be emotionally intimate. Others find our fairly quickly that their partners will not recover and will continue to pursue their addiction and they have the tough journey to get strong enough to leave. Those who stay, with sober husbands, experience what Violet and I experience: sexually immature partners who don't connect emotionally.

I wish I could give you more encouraging stories. It makes me so very sad that this addiction is so destructive. I can say that the emotionally anorexia of my husband is due to his early trauma, and for that I have compassion. But we need more compassion for ourselves.

Here is the encouraging news I can provide. You will feel better. You will heal. It takes time and it is hard. We don't have to be defined by our marriages nor do we have to be held hostage by this addiction. I will be scarred by this experience, there is no doubt about that. But I am surviving and I am working hard on getting to thriving.

So Jon was so compassionate and so right in telling us to focus on ourselves and our well being. When I let go of "saving" my marriage and when I accepted the grief of my losses;, I finally really understood that what needed to be saved was ME! My focus had to be on me and my well being. And I had so much healing to do.

The reality is my husband is working very hard on recovery and becoming mature. It's just hard work and takes times. I don't think he has enough time left on earth to address his serious issues. I think he will overcome some of his fear of connection and may learn to be intimate. But, I can't see him developing a mature sexuality. I think he's been steeped in this secret sexual life that was comforting and euphoric but also shame filled. I think he is deeply ashamed and self hating around his own sexuality. Isn't that sad and tragic. But I don't want to have his issues define me. And they don't.

With compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:02 pm 
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Posts: 352
Dnell you are wise as always. What is the critical takeaway, for me is "What I see as the two hardest areas for my recovering husband to heal is developing a healthy, mature sexuality; and overcoming fear of emotional intimacy."

Exactly.

In the beginning, it's all about controlling the behavior. The reason the behavior returns, time and time again, is the real work for change has less to do with modifying behavior, than going to the root of the behavior, as Dnell explained so brilliantly. Adolescents are difficult creatures at best. They think they know best. AND if the addict has positioned the partner into a pseudo mom position, it's even more frustrating. Bravesoul, it sounds like you could change your stars more easily than someone who has been in the trenches for decades. Dig deep.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:34 pm 
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The OP asks if marriages can survive but I think what partners really want to know is whether they can be happy in their relationship again. I’m sure we all understand the meaning of the phrase “ignorance is bliss” because, yes, it’s true. When we were ignorant of our spouse’s covert addiction we were happy and secure, and we could trust. After we discover that we were married to a man with sexually addictive behaviours our lives are forever changed. There’s no return ticket to Ignorance, lol!

My husband was introduced to pornography by an older relative who sexually abused him. He became addicted to pornography. The sexual abuse was a secret. His pornography habit was a secret. His emotional development was stunted, for sure. There were other factors that were also relevant. I won’t go into them right now, but his sexuality didn’t develop normally. He never had a girlfriend. He never went on a date with a girl. He was going to strip bars before he had his sexual experience, and even that wasn’t exactly ‘normal’. It has only been since d day that I can see the line of trajectory between early abuse, secrecy and addiction.

Even now, my husband still wants to masturbate in secret. It’s crazy. He will never admit to it. I know he still reacts to images of women in the media and in advertisements, movies, etc, and to women in public places. Even when I am with him. To him, it’s “normal” but only because he is brainwashed by repeatedly exposing himself to pornographic materials etc, for decades and masturbating to it. His sexual template is built on artifice and imagery. It’s also built on doing something “forbidden” and “secret”. None of this is compatible to having a sexually healthy relationship with a long term partner. For years he didn’t look at me, didn’t touch me, didn’t express any interest in having sex with me. Yet he made sure he had lots of masturbation and porn. That’s not a healthy sexual relationship.

It’s possible to ‘overwrite’ the brain’s addiction pathways but I don’t think it’s possible to erase them completely. The way I sort of look at it is like this. His addiction was a essentially 15-20 year relationship that for him was exciting, forbidden and physically and emotionally rewarding. He prioritised his addiction over his relationship with me. Although he insists that it was a lonely place - and I can accept that too - it was obviously giving him something that he experienced as positive and worth the investment of his time and energy. It was worth deceiving me for. A few years ago, this thought was almost unbearable. Now, I’ve somehow managed to accept that this was how things were. Somehow I have to come to terms with this, not just in order to forgive (a complex process for sure) but for my own sanity and self esteem.

The emotional intimacy is damaged by addiction especially as it’s built on a foundation of lies and secrecy. When a spouse decides to hide his sexuality from his wife, that’s going to create a fissure in the relationship that is going to be difficult to repair. Lying and deception are second nature to the addict, even after the behaviour stops. It’s not easy to trust someone who has deliberately lied to you, especially so after d day. How do you rebuild trust if your partner still lies or keeps things from you? My husband lies by omission too often to be healthy. I feel sad about that but I can’t force him to be honest. He will revert to what is “normal” for him. Whenever an omission comes to light, it impacts on my ability to trust my husband.

It’s very, very difficult to recreate an open, honest and respectful relationship with an addict because chances are it never really was that way to begin with. Addiction makes it 1000x worse. What relationship skills might have been there, or were potentially there in the beginning have been tamped down by the addiction. If you’ve experienced trickle truth, especially when those truths were initially denied, you’re going to have some degree of betrayal trauma. That’s why it’s important to prioritise your own recovery.

Eventually we realise, we can’t make anyone do anything. If they lie, masturbate to porn, have emotional affairs, stalk women around the supermarket or whatever, they’re going to do it and hide/lie about it. It’s their decision. If this behaviour is a compulsion they can deal with it be developing healthy strategies, or they indulge. We can’t do much about it. We can only do for ourselves.

If you listen to the porn/sex addiction podcasts like Pornfree Radio and so on, you’ll find that these guys who are experts in their own recovery process are STILL struggling, STILL having to take steps to limit their exposure to triggering materials or situations. They know they can still relapse. Are we married to these guys? No! Does my husband openly discuss his triggers and danger zones like these guys? Never! Would my husband ever admit to relapsing? I doubt that very much. These guys, these experts, they are the best case scenarios, and they exist. Unicorns don’t! So don’t put all your hopes into living happy ever after with a unicorn, OP. Look after YOU. X


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:22 am
Posts: 160
I can only echo the other posters,
I am still married.. But I have lost all hope of a happy intimate marriage.
My husbands core issues are such that he is emotionally and sexually immature and it has taken me many years to realise this.
Before the last d day I was still in denial and constantly Trying to fix him, or trying to be what I thought he wanted.
Working on myself has made me realise my issues, and why I kept trying so hard.
I can't say if my marriage will keep going, but I am not making those choices at present, just continuing g working on my self.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:36 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:39 am
Posts: 55
it's a late reply for this post, but 3 years ago I was dreaming to have the courage of asking this question,
I was desperate for hope .

It's when a very wise friend told me at that time :
"You are dreaming that a friend, or even better your partner (!), hugs you , and tap you in your back while saying : there, there, there; it's finished now, everything is over.
But it's NOT going to happen. Nobody can or will help you there.
Only YOU can find a way out of this nightmare.
It's going to be a long and painful journey,
But you can do it, I believe in you.
You will heal. You will smile and laugh and love again"

When she told me that; well, I hated her! But she was true. It's been a long journey.

and my hope for the relationship with my husband changed during this journey: first I wanted for things to get back like before, simply...
But when I discovered the extension of the acting out, and lies, well, it was not possible.
So I removed my wedding ring; still hopping I could put it back later if he was getting back to me...
More discoveries, more lies; more understanding of the impact of the addiction on my partner
I realized I would never put back this wedding ring; as its original meaning was all false.
Still, I was hoping that our relationship could start again with a strong engagement that would be symbolized by a "new ring"...
Well, today I don't hope that anymore.
Not because of him, and how he is doing in recovery
but because I've lost my vision of couple, engagement, marriage. I don't believe in it. Or may be I don't want to believe in it; in engagement; in big promises; wedding vows etc..

However, this does not mean the relationship is over;
I am building a new relationship with my husband which I prefer to call my partner now; not easy because of the history and the issues (triggers; trust; forgiveness, grieving, ...)
But a relationship I do enjoy, where I feel comfortable and respected; where I can be myself; where I can feel some love and care (these 2 notions are completely new for my husband; I sadly realized during my healing journey)

So in the end; my marriage , 20 years relationship, did not survive . But I have today a good relationship with my partner.
And as Dnell said "We don't have to be defined by our marriages"



Warm Hugs! You can do it. You can Heal.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:55 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 654
ana, it's a painful wisdom we gain, isn't it? But I hear your wisdom and grace.

I, too, took off my rings since I was so angry at the lie of them. I wanted to be able to put them back on. I now know I will never be able to do that. I as well thought maybe new rings. I now know that won't happen either.

I agree, I see my husband now as a partner. I'd really like a husband, still, and I wonder about giving up on that dream. But I recognize how hard my husband is working and that is something.

I wish my partnership could be so much more, but it's not and hopefully it can get better, but I agree, the focus is on me and getting the most I can out of my life.

dnell


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:39 am
Posts: 55
Thank you Dnell . It’s good to share and feel understood .
Wisdom , well yes, painfully gained , true, but still some wisdom gained, and I’m grateful for that.
My story with the ring has another chapter:
Several months after I removed my ring, I could still see the mark on my finger; and this was really painful, each time reminding the loss, the hole in my life, the failure...
So one day, I ran into a jewelry shop and bought a ring for myself. One like a wedding ring. But with 3 colors of gold: normal, silver and pink .
3 Colors like my 3 kids, my 3 siblings, ..,
A ring to symbolize my love for my family & friends , to remind me my duty as a mother, as a daughter and as a friend; to know that I’m not alone, that We are a family and I shall be grateful for that.
I wear this ring on my right hand, like a talisman . It helped me in my healing journey.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:12 am 
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Posts: 160
That is a great idea. I may actually do this as a focal point to remember what I do have, ie my children etc.
I took off my ring after an early d day, my husband noticed and wanted me to put it back on, even got me an eternity ring.. After the last d day I took my ri gs off again. He never noticed, or preferred not to say..
I felt they were a sham, and often triggered bad feelings about what they represented and the reality of my marriage.
They also made me ponder the real reason my husband didn't want a wedding ring himself, the reason he said was that it could be dangerous if it got caught during work... Post d day I realised this was most probably not the reason.
My rings hold no sentiment for me any longer Tbh, in fact they hold some specific bad memories from throughout my marriage starting a week after our marriage.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 12:38 pm 
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I’ve kept my wedding ring on apart one difficult phase early last year when I removed it for about a week. I can’t quite remember my train of thought at the time but I think it was more about seeing myself as a woman in my own right. I recall a few weeks after d day staring at a document with my name on it, my married name, and thinking “who the F is that person? That isn’t me” and throwing the thing aside. Remembering my name before I was married, I thought, “my dad would never have wanted me to be this unhappy” and thought of my family story, their struggles and survival, and being part of a diaspora, and I felt so cut off and isolated from my very core. After d day, my identity, my entire sense of who I am, was turned upside down. I was so far away from the woman I used to be.

For whatever reason, I didn’t see my marriage as a lie. I admit that I played a role in the addiction story, not because I wanted it to be that way but because I fell into the learned helplessness trap. I wasn’t assertive. I wasn’t persistent. After 4 or 5 d days I stopped trying. Eventually so much time had passed that that I became fearful of saying anything and risk my whole world fall apart. So I said nothing. I thought that silence was my best option. In the long term it was very damaging. Having said that, there’s “knowing” and there’s *KNOWING*.

My husband has done what he can to recommit to the relationship, and I appreciate all he has done. His recovery is slow. Quitting the obvious acting out behaviours was straightforward enough but addressing the underlying issues takes time. For so long he relied on deception and I would go so far as to say that he felt absolute confidence in his ability to deceive, and even felt entitled to deceive. This was the hardest blow of all. Of all the people in the world the last person who I thought would lie to me was my husband. I don’t mean that in a naive way, but I thought that once we’d brought the problem out into the open he would be honest and straightforward with me. Every answer he gave to me was a lie and he would get angry at me if I didn’t accept it. That’s what I mean by entitlement. So I had to go through the trickle truth experience which is awful. His addiction was far worse than I realised, and worse than he realised too.

So how do we make a successful marriage out of this? I still believe there are a lot of issues that remain unresolved or unspoken. At this stage it’s probably more to do with our individual pasts than the years of acting out. I’ve had to learn to tolerate the ambiguity, the acceptance of unknowns yet still rebuilding trust. I’ve also had to accept the reality of addiction. We are making something more robust compared to what we had, which was a relationship with a swirling void in the middle that we both pretended not to see. We both have had to accept we’re in a different life stage. We both need to be persistent in our communication skills. There are caveats, of course. Whether it’s having the skills to deal with difficult or conflicting feelings, or challenging situations or the fact that our culture is awash in sexualised imagery and triggers are there for both of us, it’s all about learning better ways. For me, there’s no going back. I will speak up. But things are a lot better than in his addiction years.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:07 am 
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Thank you all for your replies.

I cannot believe how different life is today then when I first posted this question.

As my husband and I do our recovery, it feels like we are getting to know each other for the first time. It's not romantic and dreamy. It's uncomfortable, scary, and vulnerable. It's also creating the building blocks to something new.

I will never be, nor do I want, the marriage we had. It has been very difficult to mourn the loss of the marriage and husband I thought I had. It's also been difficult to grief my innocence and naivety of the young wife and girl I was. (Girl because we married at 22, Dday we are 26)

This discovery has been excruciating. And in someway it feels like I have been awaken. I am digging deep into my soul. I am treating my hurts from the past and learning to care and love myself. I am allowing myself to let my higher power fill me. And as painful as it is. It is so renewing.

I know what you all have said. I cannot do anything about my husband's recovery. This has also taught me that there is nothing that I do that can "cause " my husband to act out. So I've been able to be myself and not fear that what I say or do will affect my husband's sobriety. It is not my job.

My husband's actions are so different than early recovery. Early recovery consisted of checking off the boxes. Meeting. But no interactions with others in recovery. No work or very minimal. Never reading the books. Not wanting to discuss it. Lies when relapsing. Excuses to being busy to do much recovery work.

Once I got strong enough I created boundaries. The follow through when he broke my boundaries was so hard and liberating. I left and we were separated for a month with divorce papers ready to file.

Since this and meeting with specialist in the area of SA, a shift happened. Meetings, recovery work, calls, therapy, books, spiritual exploration, and vulnerability is now a way of life for him.

And because of it, it has allowed me to want to be vulnerable with him. Is it perfect? of course not. Perfect is not a part of my vocabulary anymore or something I want to strive for. It just is. I am aware that it is very much capable of not being this. But as I do recovery I trust that I will know when I am not safe and take action to protect myself.

My husband cannot meet me on the emotional level I desire right now. He is able to admit to this and express to me in a way that shows me he is working on this. There is so much trauma from childhood that he fears to dig in and it has been baby steps.

I see now the answer for the question I asked. I was still fighting for that idea of perfect and happily ever after love. I see now that is not realistic. I think I wanted to know that I could be happy. That I could still feel love for my husband if I stayed. I can say yes to both. I am happy to be healing, for the amazing people I've met through the journey, for my family and friends who continue to love me and support me, and to have found everything I ever needed in my relationship with God. I love my husband. I can hate all his hurtful behavior and still feel love for him as a person and feel admiration as he takes an inventory of his life.

I don't think I can ever say I'm grateful for what's happened. I don't know how to quite put it into words. I'm just grateful to be awake.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:32 am 
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"I'm just grateful to be awake"
This is so well said!

I felt similar feeling during my healing journey

first it was in literal sense / physically awake : I could not sleep anymore! (1 to 2 hours per night the first week after D Day, like a zombie!. then after more healthier 6 hours' sleep)

Then it was like emotions always 100% ON / awake: For many months I would be overwhelmed with emotions, goods and bad, laughing and crying; it was like every feeling was stronger, in brighter colours. It was good to FEEL all these emotions, because it was like feeling the strength of LIFE (with ups and downs). But it was exhausting also.
By getting back to daily concerns (jobs, new house, kids' school and activities etc..) , the intensity of emotions reduced to be easier to cope with (and not having the need to cry of sadness or joy every other time)

And step by step it became a state of mind, like seeing things from higher perspective, rediscovering myself, building my life my way (not the perfect one for sure, but the one I decide, with my own boundaries and my priorities) and accepting more the others as they are without any judgement (How could I judge anyone after realizing half of what I believed in was fake! and I did not see it! I did not protect myself and my kids as I should have)


Today and everyday I'm grateful for what I have and to see it: I'm grateful to be awake!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:00 am 
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Many partners will recognise their own journey through recovery in yours, Bravesoul.

There is one important caveat that we mustn’t forget which is, the addict is always vulnerable to their addiction. It doesn’t go away. It might appear that way, but at best it’s controlled rather than cured. Addicts are always going to be vulnerable to slips and relapses, no matter how many years they have been free of their addiction behaviours.

My husband has recently admitted to having urges and he also admits that it has been a considerable struggle even though in his logical mind it’s not what he wants to do. This comes at a point in my own recovery when things are going well and when I feel more able to pursue my own interests, the things that gave my life meaning but fell by the wayside after d day. Just when I’m feeling optimistic again my husband admits to having strong urges which distress him. What did I pick up? He was intensely anxious about fairly minor, everyday issues. “What if this goes wrong… what if that goes wrong? …” etc etc. My gut wasn’t alerting me to deception or acting out because there wasn’t any. It came out in the form of intense anxiety and catastrophising. So I definitely noticed “something” (the anxiety) but I wouldn’t have connected this with the addiction.

Although I think that his telling me of these urges is a good sign, it’s also been a wake up call for me (and possibly for him). Regardless of how well I put my life back together again, it doesn’t mean my husband is no longer vulnerable. Healing the relationship is probably a significant factor in reducing the risk of relapsing but it takes two people to heal the relationship. It’s not down to the partner to “save” her addict spouse single-handedly repairing the relationship. It’s just not possible.

Life after the addiction has been exposed can’t be the same. We’ve all had to give up what seems a naive ideal from where we are now. Ideal recoveries don’t exist either, that’s another naive fairytale I’ve had to give up on. As always, we have to keep looking after our own needs and live according to our own values. I believe this is what will give us strength and compassion when/if the addiction re-surfaces.


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