Author Archives: sexaddictsotherhalf

It is just a male thing

Men are typically void of emotion – at least when compared to women, like myself, who want to obsess and talk through things beyond a point where there is anything of substance to be said. I know this. But I also know that one of my husband’s primary drivers for acting out within his sex addiction is his lack of skills around communication and his seemingly voided emotions around big events. Previously, when we have found ourselevs in situations that would require us, as a couple, to lean on one another emotionally – moves, job changes, death, marriage – he has acted out in higher bouts of intensity and I have talked his ear off blind to the fact that anything is amiss.

One of the changes I have seen since both of us have entered recovery is an increase in discussion and expression around serious issues – on both sides of the spectrum. We take time each day to catch up in a different capacity than was previously the norm. This shift has opened me up the idea of progress and its felt good – like we are putting one foot in front of the other and moving beyond, if such a think even exists. 

And just when things seem good, I feel like I ran into a brick wall. Thursday was a big day for my husband. As part of his legal repercussions, he is mandated to refrain from any relationship or communication with any minor, including his sister. For nearly a year he has not been able to speak on the phone, exchange emails or text, or see his sister face to face. As the oldest son in a family whose father is deceased it has been taxing and frustrating. He has missed major milestones – getting her drivers license, watching her high school graduation, being absent during the college application phase. Thursday she turned 18 – one day and she is no longer a minor. 

We had been speaking about it casually over the past several months and mostly to cover logistics – planning the events around celebrating her birthday and mentions around milestones. I would argue that is where any discussion has ended – nothing more and certainly not in the context of his feelings around the overall situation. 

Although it’s been present and obvious over the past year, the significance of her birthday didn’t really hit me until driving home from work. I thought “holy sh*t he can actually call her today!” When I saw him, my excitement was visible and I asked immediately if he had called. He did, but spoke matter of factly about their conversation – it went well and they were excited to see one another the next day. 

As I settled upon things through out the evening, it felt unbalanced that I had asked him about the call. I was frustrated that an event that seemed so major could slip by without mention, both after the fact but almost mort hurtfully in the time leading up to his dialing the number. Wasn’t he having any emotion around it – didn’t he want to talk through how he would approach the situation, the possible outcomes, his hopes and fears. How was he dealing with the situation? Was he leaning on anyone? And selfishly, what prevented me from playing that role?

It was good to see his sister and the remainder of his family for dinner Friday. Though I have seen her on and off, she is always a bit more engaged in my husband’s presence. She seemed different – a bit more like an adult and a bit more like a woman, with confidence that had seemed so absent over the years. It was refreshing to hear her talk about the future – her next phase in life. 

In reflecting on the evening, as his family left, we discussed my apprehension around the level and depth of discussion surrounding her birthday. I felt like I literally wanted to pull emotion from him and he felt that I was being unreasonable – not giving him credit for the capacity within which he was able to communicate. How do we begin to see eye to eye? What level of expectations from my side are reasonable? 

I want desperately to believe in the explanation that he is a man – it’s part of the male package. But I can’t shake the feeling – my gut brings me back to a place that insinuates something more. He may not be acting out right now, but how can we overcome this? Is it even possible? 

What is the lesson

I started off the week sitting heavily with the idea that my marriage would not survive. My husband plead into a felony charge which has its own set of repercussions, but most prominently in my mind was the sex offender registration. A label required as a result of his conviction. We spent last weekend having some open conversations about the imminent changes and I was on a high horse about the open flow of communication and then it hit me like a brick wall. We were at dinner on Sunday – his treat, celebrating my recent promotion – and I said something along the lines of “I am the only shot you have to a normal future; I am your light to what would otherwise be darkness. You are the only darkness in my future that would otherwise be light and full of opportunity.”

Two major things occurred as the result of those few words:

1. He agreed. Initially I felt validated, but a day passed and I was beside myself. This was one of the core issues. My continued practice of mandating our emotions on every issue and his tendency to just go along with it – even when it is completely diminishing his self worth. Wasn’t all his therapy supposed to be helping him find his self worth and speak his truth?

2. My thinking needed to change if I wanted my marriage to survive. At the suggestion of my therapist I was to do some serious thinking around where I could see my husband bringing expansion and light into my future, despite the legal repercussions and why I wanted to continue living in this partnership and marriage.

Each time I sat down to put words on paper, attempting to answer those two questions, I found myself completely stumped – unable to verbalize this connection I had been holding onto for years. I felt total insecurity about any thought that popped into my mind – struggling to determine if this or that was reason enough, convinced there had to be something more. And so I left each session frustrated and doubtful. And my actions the remainder of the week fed into those insecurities.

Trust – as my insecurities grew, I lost my trust in our relationship and particularly in my husband. I convinced myself that if I was having such a difficult time identifying the light in our future and the reasons why I wanted to remain his wife, there must not be a foundation to our partnership. So I doubted everything.

  • I came home in the evenings looking for evidence that he had been on my computer
  • I left work a couple hours early one day and thought it best to surprise him rather than calling to say I was on my way
  • I discovered he had thrown away a dying plant and instead of asking him about it in a straightforward manner I said “do you have something to tell me,” wondering what tidbit of honesty may pour from his mouth
  • I became anxious when he texted me to say he would call when he was off work and his call came 30 minutes later than he normally gets off work

So how did I deal with these surfacing emotions? I had brief conversations with him about how I was feeling, but felt paralyzed by expressing the actual largeness of my feelings. What was the point? How far can I really drive the message into our conversations without causing total discouragement all together – how will we build the trust back up effectively? Is it even possible?

And so I shifted my thinking. I fantasized about what I would accomplish without him. The opportunity to move internationally with work – something we have both dreamt of in the past but where the possibility is now real for me. I took strides into making myself look and feel more attractive. I changed the motions for getting ready in the morning – laying emphasis on things I generally pass over. I bought a few new pieces of clothes to highlight the weight I have lost over the past year. I began to look at men as possibilities – both those that I interact closely with and those that I passed by in the course of life.

I took my insecurities and lack of trust and shifted to a place where rather than putting work into getting to the root of those issues, I assumed this marriage could not survive and started living life accordingly.

And last night I played a fine game of manipulation. I had spent part of the afternoon at a child’s birthday party which brought up a separate set of emotions that I was not in the mindset to face. When Steve got off work we had planned to head into Denver for a street food event – originally presented between us as a fun date night idea. But that idea quickly dwindled and we fell into our old, pre-recovery roles. The night played out as it would have years ago, before we even got engaged.

He invited another couple. I got excited about heading into Denver and mentioned it to a couple of my coworkers and friends. I started planning what else we could do since we were already going to be in Denver. I made commitments without discussing them with my husband and spent the original event and reason for going into Denver thinking about how I was going to convince my husband to get the rest of the evening I had planned to play out.

One of those plans was to meet a male coworker at a bar. That alone should have been a red flag but more importantly, this is a male coworker who knows what is happening in my personal life, whose wife was out of town, who was drunk and asking me to meet him at a bar. I focussed mentally on the innocence of meeting him – my husband is with me, we have a professional relationship, he is just a good friend. But my subconscious flirted along the lines of the scandalous possibilities. And that is where it went. Though we were at the bar for less than an hour, I spent my time evenly balanced between participating in a group game of Jenga with my husband and our friend that had gone into Denver with us and having sidebar inappropriate discussions with my coworker, eating up his compliments and sexual innuendos. And my interactions with this coworker validated the idea that my marriage was not going to survive and gave me satisfaction because I was taking the upper hand – I was setting into motion the events that would lead to its demise. I was owning a role as an unfaithful wife, not the wife of a sex addict.

I woke up feeling awful this morning. What was I thinking? Where do I go from here?

I need more time to answer the original questions posed by my therapist. Could there be a lesson in this?

If you believe in it, it will happen. I have the power to make a choice. I have to determine what I want that choice to be. And if its to end my marriage, I need to expect better for myself – repeating this pattern is unimaginable and my actions last night didn’t show promise.

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Whats Worse?

“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”

This month in Al Anon the focus will skirt along the 5th step of the program. In a nutshell, revealing your truth.

I have always struggled with the boundary of what to share with people; sometimes finding a high in revealing personal details to people whom I have not yet built trust. I have fantasized that sharing my life would form friendships and bonds. In retrospect, I realize that you test the waters, dip your toes in, gain trust little by little and then begin to share – building a foundation of a healthy relationship.

I am moving into a place where it feels best to keep things a bit private – to speak more eloquently at a high level about my personal hell rather than feel trapped in a corner trying to explain emotions that fleet between moments. It is my right.

Sharing my life as it stands, throughout this entire process, has been painful. It’s isolating to reach out to a vast expanse of people with whom I have shared my life, with whom we have shared our life over the last 10+ years, and feel alone – as though no one can relate. Its easy to feel misunderstood because no one has walked in my shoes. No one has felt every detail and moment of the way things have unfolded except the two of us. And I cannot expect them to – their view of my situation is created through a window that I build for them. I am painting the picture and they are looking at it from 100 feet away or more trying to interpret it and discover its meaning. But my emotion is wrapped up in the brush strokes and colors, the details of what has built the painting. They choose how to interpret it or engage with it. I don’t have that privilege.

But what I have found to be worse as the months pass and we move forward, even if its tiny baby steps, is the inability for people to relate to the light. The bits of optimism that mange to squeeze through, the tiny milestones, the small changes. No one expects it. They are holding their breath and waiting for the explosion. It highlights the judgement, the expectation that I will wipe my hands clean from my marriage and break free. People weren’t betting on the rays of light. No one is rooting on the sidelines.

And it hurts. Worse. It isn’t that they don’t know the right cheer. Its that they only want to cheer if I make the right decision. Their decision.

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Many therapists believe that we seek out people who fulfill a need or lead us in a direction for which we were already destined. My therapist keeps asking me – what wasn’t I seeing? My 12 Step sponsor continuously reminds me to consider what’s my part. I am not sure where I sit on the spectrum of believing that we seek out relationships to reinforce our internal beliefs, but I feel that investing in my own recovery and seeking therapy has been the single best outcome from this particular life altering event.

Part of my recovery has been my decision to join my local AlAnon family. Attending meetings are some of the best hours of every week and I have grown substantially from listening to other members share their experience, strength, and hope. One of the meetings last week addressed the idea of acceptance. It got me thinking a lot about my frustration in others for not accepting my husband in his entirety and my inability to accept other people’s reactions to his actions.

As my decision to work on my marriage strengthens, some of my friendships have taken dramatic shifts. I have dealt with those shifts and the feelings they bring up for me  privately most of the time, but at brief moments I have engaged in raw conversations with the friends whose relationships have been most affected. On Easter Sunday I visited with a very good friend and somehow the conversation led to  the recognition, on both sides, of just how much our friendship had changed since my husband’s arrest. This was the second conversation of this nature that we have had over the last several months. At the close of each conversation, I have felt a bit better – bringing the unspoken to light and having the opportunity to grieve the loss together. But those feelings quickly fade. I find myself confused by the connection created in these conversations and increasing saddened that his connection does not result in acceptance for my decision to stay with my husband. Moments of light followed by an even darker glimpse into the future.

My next set of actions are where I have substantial room to improve. I play out scenarios in my head – perhaps if I explain it differently, try to explain myself further, acknowledge more of what she said, empathize with her position, try to find a point of comparison, or just simply have the same conversation again – I will get the outcome I want. So I follow up – I drag on the conversation with follow up phone calls, emails, chats. And it ends in a place where I feel less understood and increasingly angry.

I need to learn to stop short. To accept the outcome as it stands. I would save an incredible amount of energy if I learned to accept the difference in opinion and core beliefs rather than attempting to eliminate the contrasts. And with this friend in particular, this scenario is present in many facets of our relationship. Letting go of my need to control or predict the outcomes may lead to an even stronger relationship – the same lesson I have learned with my marriage. See a pattern here?

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Lesson through Service

Over the past eight months I have looked for experiences that let me step outside of my own life for a bit – both as an escape and as an opportunity to gain perspective. It is easy to fall into a trap of feeling like my husband’s arrest and addiction are a clear end to my world, but the truth is that life is made up of a lot more than one relationship. Just today, over lunch with a girlfriend, I was saying that its so difficult to listen to voices and influences in my life saying that staying in my marriage will hold me back. I find myself today feeling like life is fuller than it has been in a very long time – I am spending my time pursuing things that feel right, I am successful at my job and have secured a promotion, and my relationship feels solid and makes me happy.

To navigate a lot of my grievances and frustrations with the legal system, I stumbled upon a great volunteer opportunity. I am now working each week with a young woman who is in jail – someone without a voice and is merely part of a broken system. My role is that of a mentor – an avenue to help her see the possibility of a path that is promising and far from what her life’s circumstances would normally lead her towards. The experience, though relatively fresh, has been pretty phenomenal – for personal growth and as a source of strength.

I wanted to highlight a few larger thoughts from the training I completed to prepare me for this mentorship.

  • Depression stops someone from thinking about the future; it is life absent of color – pure blackness
  • Blame is concentrating on the past; Responsibility is concentrating on the future
  • Any one snapshot in time is not reality
  • The interpretation of reality is more important than the reality itself
  • People fail because of their strategy, not because of who they are as people
  • Success comes from changing the strategy
  • You don’t even have to belief in yourself, you just have to take the next step
  • Challenges that you meet head on bring a new level of development
  • Learned helplessness brings opportunity blindness
  • Learned helplessness is the belief that there is no connection between one’s actions and the outcome of events
  • Resilience is the belief that actions, exerted over time, produce outcomes
  • Negative Explanatory Style: stable (no change), global (effects everything), internal (my fault)
  • Positive Explanatory Style: dynamic (things change), specific (problem is limited), external (not necessarily my fault)
  • Substances allow you to run from the feelings you don’t want – If you run, it will chase you – The more you run, the stronger/bigger it gets – If it catches you, it will kill you – At some point you have to turn around and chase it back
  • People think sobriety means a great life – it really means facing problems – and they have gained interest
  • Relapse occurs when the mind changes
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I allowed myself to get tricked into believing that because I am feeling positive about my relationship, everyone else’s feelings will follow suit. It takes a lot for me to avoid getting disgusted and angry that my relationship has become a public topic of debate. I am angry at myself for years of lacking opinion in my friend’s relationships and otherwise being supportive. And here I am judged and alienated because I am working on my marriage, our relationship which is 10 years in the making – longer than most of the relationships with friends that sit in limbo today.

One of my best friends is coming to visit in a couple of weeks from San Francisco. It is difficult to put into words what this friend has meant to me or how she has supported me over the last 6.5 years since we first met in the Bay Area. She is amazing. Generally as planned visits get close I get ridiculously excited. Except this time. It’s different. As the idea of a visit gained clarity and concrete plans made their way into the weekend, it hit me that it could not be assumed that Steve would be invited along for any of the fun. So I had to ask. And she doesn’t want to see him.

I remain open with my husband and came home to him waiting at my house, explaining my frustration by the time that has gone by and how little anyone has heard his perspective, caught him on the phone, been able to see him. It gets exhausting to be the only one communicating a huge gap that has occurred in our relationship over most of the last decade. It is even worse to be expressing hope within a scenario that seems unimaginable to the majority of this world and doing so alone. I asked that he take some initiative and reach out to people over the phone whose calls had been left unanswered. I also asked that he reach out to my friend to address her uncertainty about what would be said after all of this time. And so he did.

I felt like a kid waiting for the outcome. I wanted to hear form my husband what was said. We discussed it at length and the conversation settled well with him despite her anger towards him. It felt human. He received a reaction, any reaction, and was able to process what they had discussed. I connected with her a couple of days later, expecting a bit of the same response and received the opposite. The dots do not connect for her, she believes my husband remains shielded, his responses scripted from a therapy book, and his view of the last 10 years as lacking the appropriate weight.

It is hard not to spiral into a place that maps a future with very few friends. I need to bring myself back to a place where this does not define my future. This is one relationship, albeit a very important one. Very little time has passed and time does change things. I can handle the reality as it stands today little by little and I need to prevent myself from extrapolating today into forever. Appreciate this time for its ability for us to focus on ourselves and our relationship. Something we rarely did in the old version of ourselves.

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Am I Listening?

My husband had another court date on Friday. At certain points since the last time we drove up to Gilpin County, it felt like this would be it. That his lawyer would have finished negotiations with the DA and both sides would be presenting the resolution. But most of the time, I know better than to put any hope for resolution within the legal system. I knew nothing would happen and nothing did. Another extension. Again. March 16th. Normal until then, or at least our new normal.

I am learning to put very little faith in the maybes about how everything will resolve from a legal standpoint. Every time I get a glimmer of hope it is blown away. I cannot leave room to dream for a positive outcome. It will be what it will be. I cannot control the outcome and I cannot control the process. I am just riding shotgun.

I had a few red flags pop up over the last couple of days and finally brought them to the attention of my husband yesterday afternoon, after court. I think I let them surface beyond small thoughts into a conversation partially because I was frustrated by another continuation. A realization that his addiction is not going away. Ever.

My husband is not allowed to be on the Internet at all while he is on probation. We have signed into his accounts together for necessities and we keep a log. Initially I password protected my computer but I have gotten lax about shutting it down every single night to restrict his access. I will now leave notes and recipes for dinner saved to the desktop in Word format for him to access before I get home from the office. On Wednesday, I realized an article I had open on Chrome had been scrolled down a bit to reflect the midpoint of the article rather than the top. I mentioned it at the time and he said “yeah I scrolled through that article.” Still no big deal. Then over the course of a few days I realized I had to reinitiate signing in to several of the pages I visit all the time. My stomach churned. Really it just boils down to a game of my doubt and his reassurance.

Standing outside of the courthouse yesterday his mom mentioned their meeting with his lawyer. Until that moment, waiting in the wind for the two of them to smoke their cigarettes and reflect on another court date that ended just like the last, I was under the presumption he went to see his lawyer alone. I have offered, several times, to go with him. For support and for my own reassurance that I get the full picture as its presented. So that I can understand the consequences and the chances. Tiny glimpses into my future that seem like wide open black space 99% of the time. I was hurt. I was hurt that I was not included and hurt that he didn’t mention it. What is he hiding? What does he not want me to know?

His days off work consist of working on himself. Working the program. Doing the homework required for his therapy. I took the rest of the day after court and worked from home. It seemed like a rare opportunity to share time at the kitchen table, me crunching numbers and him working his program. I came straight home and got an early start while he grabbed lunch with his mom. When he got to the house, he cuddled with the dog on the couch and fell asleep. For the entire afternoon. What is his therapy time commitment really like? How does he spend his days off work?

I am also assured that he takes care of our dog on days that his schedule allows. He is providing a bit of company, the window for exercise that our dog deserves. Friday the day floated by without his mention of taking the dog for a walk or out to the park.I asked a couple of times but it was “after this or let me just do this.” Ultimately I took him out while my husband slept. I was bitter, contemplating why exactly I had decided to take the rest of the day and spend it at home. What was my intention?

Tiny moments. Small things. A representation of things I have always brushed off. I cannot let myself continue down that path. I am not listening to myself. And yet I am still here. Allowing those things to happen. Just watching as they do.


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I am feeling depressed today – could not pull myself out of bed. These lows are a byproduct and having days that seem somewhat normal with my husband. Yesterday was our first weekend day together in several months. After losing his job, he was able to secure work at a breakfast place but his hours are early mornings and both weekend days. I have teetered back and forth on feeling guilty asking him to try to get weekend shifts covered – we are no longer sharing money and I know those shifts are the most lucrative. He suggested he take yesterday off – we both needed one of those days that felt normal.

I had been feeling discouraged about a life in Colorado without my outdoor sport companion and we had planned to take the day and do some snow shoeing. I went to my Al Anon meeting in the morning and when I came home we just wanted to be with one another, as though it were any other day from 6 months ago. We got some brunch, did the NY Times crossword, took the dog on a walk, ran a few errands, cleaned up the house, made a delicious dinner and settled in with a movie and some reading.

I kept joking that life would be perfect if we could hunker down in our house, getting rid of all of the external sources from the world. Something that is simply impossible and ridiculously unhealthy in practice. But this morning, that is what I am yearning for. I want him to be back at home with me, drinking coffee and enjoying the long weekend with me and our pooch.

Today’s list of things I had scheduled seems overwhelming to battle and I am feeling behind. Looking at the week feels even ore daunting. One day at a time or at least that is what they say.

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What is authentic?

Over the weekend I headed into Denver to see the movie Shame at the Mayan. I was genuinely excited to see the film. I feel like living under the constraints of sex addiction has put me on high alert . It seems to be everywhere and yet it is rarely discussed and is clearly a faux pa. The movie was beautifully done and the characters had quite a bit of depth. They made things real.

It got me thinking really about two things.

The main character did a fabulous job of portraying the all consuming nature of sex addiction. Many of the things my husband has discussed with me became real and I could empathize with the pain and lowness that stems from this disease. And yet I was scared out of my mind. Above and beyond all of the shocking moments in the movie I felt immense sadness thinking about how someone can be in such a deep hole and not lean on their spouse to come out. That they would turn instead to a place that lacks all authenticity.

Secondly, one of the questions looming in my head throughout my process of therapy and discovery has been feeling stumped by having a thriving sex life with my husband with this disease in the background. I have struggled to understand what, if anything, that we have created intimately together was a result of his conversations and web based activities with women. Was he exploring our individual sexual desires or dictating the ideas of others. Was anything really natural? There was a scene in the movie where the main character sees a couple having sex against a window and he is driven to reenact that scene in his own personal escapades. Part of me has been able to create a separation in my mind and witnessing the idea of mimicking sexual encounters made me sick. That separation is beginning to break down.


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A Visit to COSA

I decided to give COSA a visit today – a 12 step meeting for co-dependents of sex addicts. When the initial shock of finding out my husband had been arrested wore off, I scoured the Internet for resources on sex addiction. I was absolutely amazed that no one was maintaining an up to date blog on being married to a sex addict. In fact there are very few blogs maintained by sex addicts themselves.

I had a bit of a glimpse on why this may be in tonight’s COSA meeting. I was the youngest person by at least 20 years. Rather than feeling like I could be a part of something I grew scared by a glimpse into my future. Why I am the youngest? Probably because anyone at my age dealing with a sex addicted partner would leave without even a question. I found myself disgusted by the idea that I could be 50 and attending support groups to deal with my husbands addiction. I want to see myself getting over the hump and coming out on the other side. Perhaps the hump has no peak and there is no other side. I don’t think I can commit to this life if I find that to be the truth.

Even further discouraging was the realization that even in such a specialized 12 step group, no one could relate to the legal repercussions that my husband is facing and the inevitable ways in which it will change our lives. I can continue to alter my life to open the door for recovery, but the adjustments our life will require to live within the legal confines feel incredibly unmanageable.

Where are all of the people whose spouses have been arrested as a result of their sex addiction? Is anybody out there?

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