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 Post subject: Cdeck7's Healing Thread
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:37 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise One: The discovery of my partner's addiction

My wife and I are a young professional same sex couple with three young children. Shortly after the birth of our first daughter, I discovered she had been having an affair with a client/'friend' of hers, a married straight woman. My gut told me something was going on but I would constantly cycle between trusting my instincts and feeling like a horrible partner for even suspecting something. I was hypersensitive to clues of the infidelity all while being overwhelmed with the emotions of pregnancy and the birth of our first child. She denied all accusations of the affair, completely lying to my face until I presented her with the proof I discovered. We sought couples therapy, chalking it up to a perfect storm of big life transitions, communication issues in our relationship, and her mental health (bipolar, depression). We did counseling weekly for a good year or so and our communication improved dramatically. I felt so much hope and trust again. I was able to devote myself completely to her and our marriage again, so much so that we decided to have more children.

Fast forward almost four years after the initial infidelity and I discover another affair. Once again a married straight woman, this time a mom from our daughter's daycare. Having lived this before, I recognized the signs very early on in the affair and didn't doubt myself like last time. I found proof while (I think) it was still just emotional cheating, literally hours before it became physical, as the text I found said she had plans to sneak out of the house that night.

When confronted, my wife said she was happy in our marriage and couldn't understand why she did it. She said she was well aware in the moment that it was wrong and what was at risk but still couldn't stop herself from engaging. When cut off from this woman(who she only knew for three weeks!), my wife was in such extreme physical pain as a result and said she felt like an addict cut off from their drugs. She started seeing a therapist right away and was diagnosed with love addiction (and borderline personality) which has been scary and completely spot on. The more she explores her current and past actions, the more she uncovers just how much the addiction is a part of who she's become, starting at a very young age. The more I understand her love addiction and think about our relationship, the more it makes sense, with examples throughout our entire 7 yrs together.

She's disclosed that she has fantasies in her head with women she sees in day to day passing and mini obsessions- things she's always just assumed everyone had. She seeks attention in public situations, which makes me feel like the focus is never on the particular event or enjoying time together, leaving me to feel empty inside. Although she says she loves me, this addiction makes me feel unloved. This is especially true because I am willing and able to give her all of my love, yet she rejects it and looks elsewhere. It's frustrating to know what she seeks is the high from the 'lust' of new feelings, something that my mature love can't provide. She is the type of love addict who craves connection, yet is afraid of true intimacy.

I don't have the same hope or ability to trust like I did after the first affair, when I thought it was an isolated event. I realize this is so much bigger than that and isn't due to some relationship problem between us that I could fix. As personal as it feels to me, this is caused by her own issues.. to which I am powerless.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:19 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Two: My personal vision

I am connected to my daughters:
-I develop strong relationships with them through communication and quality time which allow them to feel loved wholeheartedly
-I support their individuality and interests
-I keep their needs at the forefront of my mind
-I embrace the love and joy they provide me
-I make them feel safe, enabling two way trust and honest communication

I am driven:
-I develop personal goals (relationship, hobby, career, ect) and work to achieve them
-I make continuous improvement of my health (mental and physical) important by incorporating it into my weekly schedule

I live my life with integrity:
-I make honest, well thought out, sound decisions
-I hold myself accountable to my values of doing the right thing
-I consider the affect of my actions on others

I am present in life
-I stop the background noise in my head (analyzing, creating to do lists) to enjoy the moment, the people, the environment around me daily
-I am self aware of my actions

I am fulfilled in my marriage:
-My needs are being met emotionally, physically, and sexually
-I actively communicate without bottling up emotion (make myself vulnerable)
-I make a conscious effort to express my gratitude on a regular basis

I am complete:
-I have mastered balancing appreciating what I have (contentment) with the desire to always want the best (perfectionism)
-I am open to new ideas and actions as long as they don't compromise my moral compass
-I devote time to both my relationships and myself
-I develop friendships for companionship and support vs just an outlet

 Post subject: Exercise 3
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:44 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Three: Gut feelings vs head/heart

A) 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)
-going to see Elke behind my back
-affair with Janine
-that there was more to what happened with Janine than was disclosed (not admitted to)
-affair with Kristen
-early signs of addiction developing with Jenn (not admitted to or unaware)
-more to the addiction (qualities and/or people) that she is not being transparent about (not admitted to)

B) Situations where you allowed your head/heart to override your ‘gut feelings’ in relation to your partner’s behavior
Many instances of dismissing the gut feelings of the friendships becoming obsessive/crossing the line with the justification that she has expressed a desire for more friends and me having an issue with her relationships would ruin that for her. I put her needs above my gut feelings. I told myself that I was just being jealous and selfish. I reassured myself that she loved me and our family and wouldn't do anything to risk loosing that. I put my trust in her above my gut feelings.

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.
-avoiding opening up/sharing feelings or addiction discoveries
-being defensive
-criticizing me a lot
-flirtatious and center of attention behavior
-communicating with someone a lot (text, talk, social media)
-avoiding physical contact with me
-surrounding herself with people/situations that would invite inappropriate behavior/ sexual objectification of women
-showing extra interest in women she might be attracted to
-pushing the boundaries of what is appropriate in a friendship

 Post subject: Exercise 4
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:02 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Four: My partner's values/qualities aside from the addiction

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
-Putting her all into everything she does
-Passionate about helping people
-Hard working
-Great mother
-Open minded
-Strong willed

2) Make a list of those qualities in your partner that you believe will continue to pose as obstacles throughout your relationship
-struggle to have compassion for me/ critical of me
-need for validation from others
-insecurities and self love issues
-desire to be the center of attention
-anxiety, depression, personality disorders

 Post subject: Exercise 5
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Five: Stress management

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?
I manage stress through doing activities I enjoy (watching tv, playing with my kids, shopping, listening to music), making lists (action plans and thoughts), unwinding physically (working out). In general, I'm a very stable, level headed person so it would take a few major devastating events all happening at the same time to turn to irrational behavior. I would have thought that this latest affair & addiction discovery topped off with the passing of my grandmother would have put me over the edge, but as painful as it's all been, I haven't resorted to unhealthy measures to manage it. I can't think of a time when I turned to irrational behavior. I have persevered through all other major emotional events in my life, turning them into a drive for self improvement.

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.
I compulsively pick at my fingers and more recently hair, sometimes even biting my fingers until they bleed. I do it often, when I'm stressed or bored. It starts out subconsciously but then I have an OCD need to fix it (smooth it out), which ironically almost always makes the damage end up being worse. I don't do it with the purpose of hurting myself, that's just a side effect of the compulsion. The anxiety comes from feeling a need to fidget, and then once started, a desire to 'fix' it. Not picking would make me feel restless and antsy. Not fixing it would feel like a nagging desire not being met, akin to not scratching an itch.

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?
She would most likely try to distract herself by keeping busy with family activities, excessive gaming, making videos, playing guitar, or working out. I would expect her to journal a lot, become depressed, and try to numb the emotions through drinking.

 Post subject: Lesson 6
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:54 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Six: The sexualized mind

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.
My spouse is a love addict so many of her addiction patterns have been around 'priming' women to get close to her by showing extra attention to those she finds attractive. Examples include paying attention to the littlest details of their preferences/favorite things and then going out of her way to provide that to them, making them the center of her attention (frequent calls/visits/texts), capitalizing on the opportunity to be their support through hard/stressful times (hero/damsel in distress dynamic), and providing them with compliments/pet names- all of this to get them on the hook and have feelings reciprocated.

When I met her, I'm pretty sure she had already slept with every one of her friends and would often be naked around them- an early sign that she had boundary issues. Her friend choices have almost exclusively been people she's already slept with, women she was priming or likely fantasizing about, or guys who would objectify women. She turns many conversations sexual with innuendos and jokes and has always thrived being around people who stretch the boundaries of what is appropriate.

Of the four areas discussed in this lesson, which have you observed in your partner?
sexualized mind - see above

objectified mind - She's always seemed 'at home' with guys who objectify women and engages in locker room talk.

need for immediate gratification - evident by her affairs

all or nothing perception - linked with her borderline disorder and nature to 'flight' when faced with conflict

 Post subject: Exercise 7
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:19 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Seven: Your role in your partner's recovery

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

This is something that's been a challenge for us both in the past, but we have been significantly improving at over time. She still struggles with being defensive and deflecting responsibility, instead of acknowledging and empathizing. I struggle with blowing her off instead of expressing the need to process before talking or just bottling things up all together. It's still hard at times to make the initial effort to talk about things or open up when the other tries to engage, but when we do we're able to walk away from it understanding each other vs the old pattern of just going around in circles getting more and more frustrated. I can communicate most effectively through writing so whenever possible I try to map out my thoughts electronically first.

II. Managing your partner's recovery
I don't think I have been trying to manager her recovery. I have shared resources I found with her (like this site), but it's never taken any pushing from me for her to put the work in. She's been very much doing that herself, from seeking and seeing a therapist weekly, setting up monthly couples sessions, jounaling, and completing the individual RN workshops. Her dedication is a huge reason why I am still with her and for that I am thankful. I know I would doubt her sincerity and my decision to stay if that were not the case. She has a tendency to put her all into something and then burn out or lose interest (complacency), so time and progress will truly be the test.

III. Empowering/disempowering a pursuit of health

I think I've been as empowering as my energy will allow me to be with regards to my wife's pursuit of health. I try to praise her about being so dedicated to doing these lessons and express my gratitude when she does share details/discoveries about her addiction with me. I know sometimes this praise is limited (hard to compliment her when I am still so sad/angery that we are even in this situation) or comes off more as a threat ("It makes me happy to hear your're so committed to recovery.. because if you weren't our marriage would be over").

I lead by example, maybe not for the purpose of showing her, rather just because I have strong health based values. She has always said a big reason she is with me is because I make her want to be a better person. I'm guessing that means she recognizes and admires the good examples I display, although it's never felt like she looks up to me because of all the criticism I receive from her.

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?
I feel as though I am getting equal importance for my healing. We both see individual therapists and are working these individual RN lessons. Even though she struggles at times to show compassion and empathy, she recognizes the damage this has done to me (PTSD, depression) and is supportive of my healing needs.

I do realize that a part of my healing involves focusing more on myself independently from her. So far I've done this physically through working out, but recognize that I need to start making an effort to develop friendships both as a couple and individually. Over the course of our relationship I've lost the connection to existing friends and the desire/need for friends. Although a big part of this was due to the fact that over the course of 5 years our life was very hectic (3 kids born, 2 affairs), I think it was also in part because I looked to my wife to fill the role that a friend would provide for me. This is something I need to explore more.

 Post subject: Exercise 8
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:18 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Eight: Your partner's role in recovery

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?

Transparency. It always feels like she is withholding (continuing to lie by omission) when she talks about her addiction. I don't mean gory details, but just that she's realized more aspects about her addiction (traits connected to her addiction behavior, disclosing people she had fantasies about/was priming, ect) than she is sharing with me. I don't have any proof, other than my gut feeling, which to me is more of a 'fact' than her word. I don't have the desire for proof like I did when I felt an affair going on, just the desire for her recovery/value based decisions to progress to the point that she can face the vulnerability to be honest in our marriage. I feel that it's necessary for her to tell me these things to not only free me from the doubts and suspicions, but because her omissions undermine any rebuilding of trust.

Intimacy. Sex, intimacy, connection, and physical love are very important to me in a relationship and in the past she has replaced these things with blame, criticism, and the search for the fantasy object. A big change I would like to see would be for more frequent and consistent physical touch and love.

Feeling good about doing the right thing. Whether it be telling me about a near miss, handling a temptation the right way, a deep conversation about her addiction, or intimacy with me, she never seems proud of herself for the transparency and success that comes with those achievements. The fact that she doesn't seem to feel good after doing the right thing makes me worried that she is just a 'dry drunk', doing this because she should, not because she truly wants to. I hope this just speaks to her novice status in recovery and later she will feed off of (gain strength, energy, support) doing the right thing in the same way she fed off of the highs of the addiction.

 Post subject: Exercise 9
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:14 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Nine: Your partner's sincerity

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?

-sees her therapist weekly
-completes RN lessons and journals
-actively working on better communication
-significantly less critisism
-making preventative efforts to positively distract herself during a triggering time (listening to podcasts while driving)
-no longer measuring progress by abstinence
-significantly less defensiveness and blame shifting in her reactions. Now acknowledges the issues i have brought up (intimacy, connection) and is working to make changes.

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?
-feels reliant on RN (series of activities to complete vs process of change? trying to rush recovery or because it provides structured commitment to health that she hasn't developed on her own yet?)
-sometimes complacent
-struggles with transparency and vulnerability
-struggles with feeling good about doing the right thing
-struggles with self awareness of acting out precursors and boundaries (flirting, priming)
-struggles with physical and emotional intimacy in our marriage

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?
I've talked about both the healthy and unhealthy with her. She is pretty aware of the positive effort she's been putting in and what she struggles with.

 Post subject: Exercise 10
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:25 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Ten:
Return to your vision created in Stage One; Lesson Two. Select the three most important values that you need right now to help you stabilize your life.

1) I am driven:
-I develop personal goals (relationship, hobby, career, ect) and work to achieve them
-I make continuous improvement of my health (mental and physical) important by incorporating it into my weekly schedule
2) I am present:
-I stop the background noise in my head (analyzing, creating to do lists) to enjoy the moment, the people, the environment around me daily
-I am self aware of my actions
3) I am complete:
-I have mastered balancing appreciating what I have (contentment) with the desire to always want the best (perfectionism)
-I am open to new ideas and actions as long as they don't compromise my moral compass
-I devote time to both my relationships and myself
-I develop friendships for companionship and support vs just an outlet

B) For each, think about the meaning and fulfillment you are getting compared to the potential meaning and fulfillment available.
1. I haven't really set specific goals in a long time and have since completed all of the ones I had set.
2. There are moments when I can put everything aside and purely focus on the enjoyment of the present, but lately these times are brief.
3. I started to initiate doing things that devote time to me (working out, guitar, RN) but need to keep that momentum going since my efforts have been dwindling. I also need to be more proactive in starting new friendships.

C) Develop a specific plan that will allow you to maximize the potential in each of those three values.
1. Develop, pursue, and track new goals.
2. Change my thoughts once aware that they are not in the moment and then engage with my surroundings, environment, ect.
3. Continue activities focused on myself (working out, learning guitar, RN, therapy) and those with my wife (guitar, games, shows). Seek and maintain friendships.

D) List the steps you will take in the next 24 hours to begin strengthening each value.
1. Start an outline/list for categories and goals
2. Practice awareness/mindfulness to disconnect with zoning thoughts and reconnect with my surroundings
3. Complete an individual activity, one with my wife, and initiate conversation with a friend. Brainstorm methods of finding new friendships.

 Post subject: Exercise 12
PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:01 pm
Posts: 17
Exercise Twelve
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?

I've come to terms with my decision to stay in the marriage. Initially I struggled with it being emotional, based on my love for her, but I'm now at peace with it being logical as well. Although this is the second affair, with it came the awareness that there is an addiction at play. Since she is now equipped with the knowledge of how and what to change, it is up to her to make it happen. She has shown remarkable dedication to her recovery and I know she is a strong person that is capable of change, so I owe it to myself and my daughters to give us that chance.

My biggest struggle is with the PTSD symptoms. This includes hypersensitivity about where she is, what she’s doing, who she’s talking to, if she’s being appropriate in her conversations and interactions.. pretty much everything she does. Sometimes this snowballs into paranoia and other times it's not as intense. I am also having a hard time trusting her words. I worry that she has gotten so used to selective disclosure in the past that she still protects her secrets because she doesn't want to face the pain that comes with their exposure. Although she has been doing great in our conversations by no longer being defensive or deflecting responsibility, whenever I ask specific questions around her addiction that could have condemning answers, she is brief and shuts down. It makes me fear that she is lying/omitting and that she keeps moving the line, like 'starting now it's absolute honestly' instead of admitting to the lie/omission (even if after the fact), or that she tries to justify it as protecting me from the pain instead of looking to the long term of building my trust back. I know it's hard for her when I come off as clinical and cold with these questions but it's how I protect myself and I do so respectfully, with no accusations or rage.

Full blown panic attacks are not common for me anymore, but depression comes in waves and my anxiety is a daily stresser. Everything above is the bulk of my daily anxiety but it also comes in the form of trying to put the puzzle pieces together of the latest affair by connecting the random dots I was given and filling in the blanks where there are missing pieces or things that don't make sense. My mood is constantly changing based on where my thoughts are at any given moment and on her level of anxiety. My anxiety is triggered by certain things that will remind me of her infidelity and priming of other women, a good example is when she stares at herself in the mirror. Not only does it remind me of real events (how she's taken pics of herself for other women) but the thought of her being vain/conceited about her looks in an effort to get attention from other women is repulsive. I recently learned that part of her recovery efforts include telling herself positive non physical qualities in the mirror. It helps to know some of the mirror time isn't about the physical or prepping herself for other women, but I still have to walk out of the room.

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.

I know it's going to take awhile for the anxiety to die down and that even when it does, it will come back in waves. I will continue to set aside specific time to think/talk about the effects this all has had on me in an effort to balance being present in the moment and not avoid acknowledging the pain. I will continue to use my strong insight and logical brain to put things into perspective and make good decisions. It's important that I keep facing the vulnerability in conversations with my wife, while maintaining emotional control (non-accusatory, controlled anger) but protecting myself at the same time. It's inevitable that there will be times when I am triggered so it's important that I stay level headed to logically decipher if it's a result of my PTSD or a sign of her recovery gone astray. I will need to call upon my strong values to maintain boundaries that are in line with them. If any bombs get dropped, I will remind myself that this is just temporary and with my drive and resilience I can overcome anything. I will stay strong, for myself and for my children.

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