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PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:39 pm 
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I guess what I am getting at, is it seems to me I've always been a "role" or a useful tool, but never really a whole person. So, if an addict finally sheds the addiction, creates a healthy identity, sees their spouse as a human being for the first time, is that the time they can figure out if they do love their spouse? Or, do they have glimmers, even with a full blown addiction, that there is a human being inside of their spouse?

dnell


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:24 pm 
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This is a question that haunts me...

A dear person asked, when she heard about my partner's long standing issue with pornography/masturbation/internet usage, within the context of our family dynamics and close interactions: 'how can you do this to a person you love'? Her clear-headed spontaneous response was voiced when I share with my adult children, and their spouses, in quiet desperation, the status of my marriage, over-twenty year double-life and disconnection. It rings in my head every time that my struggling recovering partner acts like a jerk, acts out in the same nasty abusive behaviours, but claims sobriety... And I ask: is this the addict, or is this a human person who is a jerk? What came first, the jerk or the addict

To this day, after two and a half year of work and relapses and pain, I ask this question... who is this person? I felt like an appendage, a trophy wife, clever and intellectually stimulating and an asset to validify his professional status. In our personal family life, I was an afterthought... who was that person... I loved that person unconditionally, but in light of what I discovered and processed, I loved naively and blindly.

I feel that my whole marriage has been a farce.

I butt my head against the hope that there is a person who will arise from this toxic addictive process, who will do the hard work to built from scratch a fully mature human being who has the coping skills of an adult.

I have to believe that he does love our children and grandchildren, and maybe honours and respects their mother and grandmother. I am no spring chicken. But does he really love me? His actions, nastiness and defensiveness speak the language of an addict. He speaks the words of love, but his actions speaks the addict speak. He did love me at some point, speaks of love, but it does not feel like love. It hurts.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 6:34 am 
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Oh, endofmyrope, I feel such compassion for you and me but as painful as this is, and I still am taken aback that I can still feel so much pain, it is a relief to know I am not the only one struggling with these issues. Your post resonated with me.

I get the lifetime achievement award for naive and blind since I've been in a 30 year marriage. My H was older than I was when we married and, thankfully because he has told me some honest things about his addiction, I realize he was full blown into his addiction when he married me. Put a big "C" on my forehead for clueless. I now get that the addict needs a cover to create a public persona and I think I served as that cover. Sounds like you did as well. So I feel the need, but is there love? Regard of any type?

Can they love? Do they know what it means? Am I dehumanizing the man and just seeing the addictive behavior?

I read so many stories of these men telling their partners how undesirable they are (got that one), and I finally have gotten it: we were undesirable. We could never compete with the fantasy, secret life. Since they distrust intimacy, they had to devalue us and protect their secret romantic/sexual fantasy life. Not so good for us.

I do believe my husband can, with work and support, end his addictive behaviors and become a healthier person. It's too early to tell if he will actually sincerely commit to doing so, but if he does, I have no doubt he will succeed. I had a hard conversation with him, which he does not need right now but I need, when I asked him to tell me why I should wait. He does have a good answer: if he fixes what is broken in him, he wants to have the last chapters of our life together be healthy and happy. And, god, that hooks into my hope which has betrayed me all these years. So, Ii'll wait. I'll heal myself. I'll trust myself. But, I really don't feel like he ever loved or desired me and how do I think about that and the future.

dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:09 pm 
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I really relate to not being seen as a real person to my ex-husband. That was an ongoing question I had which he could never really answer.

Loving me, well he has always claimed to love me but wasn't happy with me. I have laughed at that because with 10 years knowing of his problems with cheating and then not really ever dealing with it, I certainly wasn't "happy."

Anyway, love is a tangled ball in my life. Feels complicated and confusing at times. I do believe he loved and still loves me. But I also believe he separated his life out, putting me in one box and the other women in another. I base this on how he has acted and came to this conclusion....yes sometimes he showed he loved me and other times he didn't. He cheated and that is a selfish act, not one based on love. He did other tangible things that showed he did love me and I finally see that while it's not how I chose to love, it is a love still, flawed love. He has typically wanted credit for the tangible things he has done and wanted those to tip the balance back to 'yes I love you.' He's even wanted the half-attempts at getting help to mean something. They would if he kept going, kept learning, but since he always stayed in half-attempts, it's like a toddler who never learns how to walk because he refuses to.

The thing I am realizing for myself is I was traumatized by his actions and seeing the stark truth that he was selfish and narcissistic is really sad. I based my choices and commitment on false fronts and in a way it doesn't matter if he loved me or not. He robbed me of my choices. To decide whether or not I wanted to be in a marriage with an addict of many varieties. To decide the kind of marriage I wanted to be in. To decide whether love from me or him is really enough.

Since our separation a year and half ago, I have dated a man who doesn't have these issues and that has been healing for me. To see things don't have to be so convuluded, complicated and confusing. I've learned if a man loves me, he won't make me wonder or question that. He makes it crystal clear.

So I guess I just talked myself into a circle. :sat: I believe my husband loved me but in a flawed, skewed way. I believe his love was limited.

_________________

"What day is it,?" asked Pooh.
"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:06 pm 
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I guess yes but not totally? My bf is a PA and when I found out about his addiction, it made me question myself since then. I even felt like I needed to lose weight or need to change my hair color. Right now we're still together (but not living together), and though our sex life and relationship in general are all fine, I still couldn't trust him and feel that something "lacks" in me. Love is definitely there, but I agree with Autumnrose- it's a very complicated kind of love.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:13 am 
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These posts sadden me. We spend years with men who we actually don't know, we think we do, but its just a shell in front of us and when we not around they don't really care. I am trying to work things out with my husband, and oh, how hard it is. Today I weighed up the pain of staying with him and the pain of leaving him.. they both equal at this point and I keep asking myself if he doesn't recover how much more of my life will I waste in hope? (until the next discovery).

I do believe he loves me, but I also think he'd prefer to be on his own, in his own little porn world without me - that may be the doubt that is invading my mind.

I send everyone dealing with this lots of prayers - seems the Devil is taking hand of our men.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:01 am 
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Yes, these are really sad posts. I do have compassion for my husband, but I am so sad and grieving for me. For my losses. I know my husband can't handle my feelings and I try not to burden him. But, I am feeling these feelings. They aren't going to kill me and I will get better, but it really, really hurts.

I do know that my husband craves the intimacy he never received but is terrified of it. Better to not get intimacy at all than get it and lose it. I get that. It's terribly sad.

But I also agree with marriedtohim that they are happier when we are not there and they can puruse their addictions. I was an impediment to my husband's pleasure. (Now I know it is more complicated than that and that the addiction really harms him). Best if I was out of the house, asleep, unaware, just not there.

I do know they chose to lie to us. My husband knew he was lying, knew he was keeping secrets, knew he wanted to keep me in the dark. He chose to do this and he chose it from the day he met me until I confronted him when I finally had to stop being in denial. I do know if I had not confronted him about his emotional affair, his porn, and god knows what all, that he would have continued with his secret life into his grave. I do know, and he is now starting to get, that it was escalating and who knows where he would have ended up. It's scary.

So, yes, I'm hurt. I'm sad. I'm also horrified at the life I've been living. I'm scared. I know I need to continue with RN, start my individual therapy (next week I start, thank goodness). I know I need to heal and I so look forward to living a healthier life. I get this.

But, I stay haunted with what does my husband really think and feel about me. Why did he want me to stay all these years. Why does he want me now. I know I need to let this go, but, it is very, very hard.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:48 pm 
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In my particular case, I think my husband loved me as best as he could. I tend to think of love as a spectrum instead of separate states of being. I love my husband more than I did when we were dating, more than when we got married. My ability to love and my understanding of love have grown. I think, during that period of our life, my capacity to love was much greater than his was and he did what he could with his capacity. To be clear, it was significantly less than I deserved and it does not excuse his behavior. In some ways (and not in others) at this point I feel that his ability to love me is greater than mine to love him now. The experience of recovery stretched those abilities more than the process of healing stretched mine.

Quote:
But I also agree with marriedtohim that they are happier when we are not there and they can puruse their addictions. I was an impediment to my husband's pleasure. (Now I know it is more complicated than that and that the addiction really harms him). Best if I was out of the house, asleep, unaware, just not there.


I am not them, so I can't speak for them. I think happier might be stretching it. More comfortable? Absolutely. But those moments are what buried their ability to feel joy and intimacy and hope. Those moments were where they experienced the most shame and fear. I think the more accurate word might be that they feel safer when we are not there. The risk of exposure dissipates. The tension between who they are in their two separate words fades some. But just because you feel safe and comfortable, does not mean that you feel truly happy.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 1:31 pm 
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Mrs Jones, thank you. I really appreciated your thoughtul post.

Yes, safer is the way to think about the acting out. And, having learned here, it was what was "normal" to them. That is a better way for me to frame what was happening. This is a broken person doing the best he can with limited coping skills and getting caught in the addictive cycle. I do get that. It looks awful to me and like a whole lot of suffering and loss of potential. (Just the sheer amount of time wasted on the compulsions, the escalation, the secrecy. It's wearying just thinking about it and I didn't do it).

I've also come to realize that my husband projected so much of his self loathing and hatred on to me and I know how bad that feels for me. So, that is how bad he feels about himself. I felt imprisoned, but he was the one who was imprisoned. And, the cycle of feeling bad, needing soothing, engaging in compulsive behaviors, and repeating again and again.... It's kind of overwhleming.

So, really, does it matter what my husband thinks or felt about me when he married me? During the marriage? Right now? Well, not really. It really does not impact my healing. As is said here, what has happened has happened already. It WILL matter if he manages to recovery and develop a healthy identity.

Mrs Jones, I completely understand and appreciate your point that in a successful recovery these men actually love more and love in a more healthy way, but that we are more "disabled." It's tragic, really. But it's real. Knowing this, I think it is critical in my recovery to make sure that I restore my ability to try to fully love (let's start with my dogs!), with proper boundaries this time, those important people in my life. I need to not fear my vulnerability. I need to not fear loving. I need to be wiser with my love, but I do not want to amputate it from me. It's one of my values and I need to restore and celebrate it.

These posts have been very helpful to me and have provided clarity.

I wish us all strength and peace,
dnell


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:00 pm 
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Yes agree with Mrs Jones, my husband admitted that he was never relaxed in viewing it as he said he always felt "you should not be doing this, if you get caught your marriage is over" - I could not imagine that being a good place at all.
And even going to bed wondering whether all was deleted - a burden for them to carry - we need to help move them out of the darkness and that comes with our healing too.
I love my husband dearly and choose our marriage. I will not let the devil be his best friend anymore.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:48 am 
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I feel my husband thought he loved me, but once he descended into the world of secrecy as his addiction spiraled out of control, he never thought I would find out so what harm could that be. :pe: He was somewhat arrogant in thinking he could control me, the situation, and the truth. He knew it was wrong but he rationalized his way through it and was driven by the anger he projected onto me. Looking back on his childhood, love and affection were never modeled by his mother and step-father. Theirs was a practical marriage of two single parents who were widowed and needed help in raising their children and managing money. His two older brothers were very promiscuous. He was the little brother that took it all in. He never experienced the sweet tenderness of a healthy commitment. He also developed a set of skills at a young age that supported his SA later in life. He learned to lie by omission, to be sneaky, to intellectualize, and to manipulate - all survival skills for the somewhat nerdy nice guy that he was. He was passive aggressive from an early age.

Yes. My husband thought he loved me, but in retrospect I realize that he was always off and running when any pretty young woman flirted, was nice to him, or paid attention to him. He loved attention. He loved his good guy image, but he had no idea what a healthy personal relationship between a man and a woman looked like or felt like and was afraid of finding out. For him, our personal relationship was way down the list of priorities. Only through personal counseling did he figure this out for himself and learn to face his fears and his unhealthy behavior patterns.


Falling off of his good guy perch was devastating to him. He truly didn't know what to do. He had to start from square one like someone learning how to walk again. He had to discover his true self. As for me, I appreciate his hard work. I appreciate his sense of duty toward me. I long for more of a connection, but I don't think either of us are going to get there. Do I love him. Yes. It's a different kind of love, though.

Nellie James


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:17 am 
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Nellie James, thank you for your post. That captures my feelings and situation exactly.

I think my husband is clueless about what is healthy intimacy, healthy sexuality, healthy love. Does he long for this? Yes. Would he know it if it bit him on the nose? No. So, he wanted to love me but he does not know what that means. I think as well it was part of his "good guy" image. He really thought of himself as a good guy and it is very hard on him to get a glimmer that he is not a good guy. It is stunning to us non-addicts how they can so compartmentalize their lives and feel that their secret life really does not have rules. And, his fruther descent into his addiction made him lose track of that part of him that once was looking for what he was missing. What he thought he was missing and what he focused on from day one was tbe continued fantasizing about the perfect women (I now realize it was plural, not one) who were out there. What a thrill to keep searching. What an obsession and compulsion to do so. And, he was doing this from the moment he met me. Painful for me. Not at all healthy for him. But, there you go.

And the anger, the abuse, the devaluation, the withholding of sex, kindness and the true belief that he was in control, had me blinded (to be fair, he did), had me maniuplated, and can still continue to do so really would show anyone with a whit of insight that they were not a good guy.

So, I wait to see if he will become healthy and who this healthy person will be. My husband is in his early 70's (I'm in my late 50's). Such a tragic waste of life and time. Such profund immaturity.

Does he have enough time to get healthy after a lifetime of addiction? Can he find what is good in him and build on it? I have no idea. If he does, he will be able to decide and act upon a kind of love for me, but really, so much time has gone by that it will be a different kind of love.

dnell


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 5:28 pm 
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It is a self-centered, me first, selfish love. Empathy, compassion, generosity are not part of the addict mind-set.
What is scaring me now is that I am becoming self-centered, me-first, and that am not even sure that I know how to love anymore... I try so hard to hang on to my values of empathy, compassion and generosity, and cannot ever expect any of those values to be demonstrated by H, whose head is stuck up his backside most of the time, and who begs for a second chance... his behaviour does not speak of new insight, growth, but rather whines and attacks and abuses...


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:15 pm 
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Yes, endofmyrope, I think you are right. It is a selfish view of "love." I am finally starting to get it. My h wanted some kind of wonderful marriage with me and not the nightmare his addiction has created (okay, I'm in there, but I was willing to work on my stuff and he wasn't). But, when I ask him to describe what that marriage would feel like or look like, it has nothing to do with a connection with another human being. It has to do with his being comforted by me; his being admired by me; his being taken care of by me. There is something there about a great sex life that would turn into some kind of lovemaking, but it's about physical pleasure, not connection. So, this is truly an intimacy disorder. I really get that. No wonder fantasy is so intoxicating to the addict.

What I still don't know is if this narcissistic view is only due to addiction, or is an underlying personality disorder. I'm a long way off from knowing if my husband will recover to a HEALTHY person, and if that healthy person can truly form an intimate partnership with me.

dnell


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 3:26 pm 
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endofmyrope wrote:
What is scaring me now is that I am becoming self-centered, me-first, and that am not even sure that I know how to love anymore... I try so hard to hang on to my values of empathy, compassion and generosity,


I believe that these experiences can sometimes temporarily hinder our ability to love. Love requires us to make ourselves vulnerable, and in the wake of such intense trauma, it's not reasonable to expect someone to make themselves vulnerable. First, we have to re-center ourselves, re-discover what brings us joy, protect the things that allow us to be stable - then we can reach out and love again from a healthy place. If these values have been damaged, and you're struggling because their expression has been stifled, then maybe look for creative ways to express them safely. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Spend time in a nursing home. Find beings who have experienced rejection and extend empathy, compassion, and generosity to them. But don't beat yourself up for needing to change the way these values are expressed. You made that change for a legitimate reason. You are healing, and that is incredibly important.


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