Journal Entry: March 17, 2014
I think most everyone can relate to being betrayed by a spouse. Obviously not everyone has experienced it, but most can imagine how devastating it would be. Having your husband diagnosed as a sex addict (versus a “cheater”) on the other hand, brings with it a whole different kind of judgment. It seems many think the sex addict diagnosis is just a lame excuse for someone not wanting to admit they are a cheater. The fact is, they are a cheater (which they DO have to acknowledge) AND an addict. They don’t get to rationalize their cheating just because of an addiction diagnosis. Addict status, which most of us understand and accept as an illness rather than a weakness in character since our society has dealt with alcoholics and drug addicts for some time now, is not a free pass. It is a wake up call that you have a sickness for which there is no magic pill. You will need to devote yourself to understanding your illness and acquiring tools to manage it, if you so desire. I know that all sounds easy, but that is not really my point here. I know it is incredibly difficult and takes a lifetime of self-care to manage an addiction. And THAT is what I am trying to say. With a sex addict, not only will you and your spouse have to deal with the betrayal the cheater has perpetrated on the marriage (and all the devastation that goes with it), but you both will now have to acknowledge the cheater has a life long illness that can merely be managed, not cured. It is not the same as a cheating husband acknowledging his bad act, asking for forgiveness from his spouse, both husband and wife healing from the wounds (eventually), and hopefully acquiring a stronger marriage as the outcome. Sometimes there is no happy ending for the betrayed spouse. Sometimes the husband runs away with the mistress and that is really fucked up, but what I am dealing with right here and now, is that sex addiction is REAL. It is not different from being a cheater; it is much more than just being a cheater. It is not an easier road to take, it is like climbing out of Hell.
I have a new therapist. She specializes in sex addicts and their spouses and is starting a new “wives of sex addicts” support group next month. I am hoping being in a room once a week with other women who are suffering the same pain I am, will help me cope. But in the meantime, I am in individual therapy with this specialist and I am already not sure it is going to work out.
A couple days ago, my husband and I were in the car taking a drive. We hoped the change of scenery would do us both some good. It was a beautiful, sunshine filled day, but my mood was far from bright. As he drove, I talked. I talked through some of my pain and it wasn’t helping. I seemed to be sinking deeper in the abyss and he got frustrated and said those words that no betrayed spouse can bear to hear: “why can’t you just get past this?” After that, there were a lot of angry and bitter words spoken from my mouth, and at a very high volume. We returned home and I went into my office, cried, and tried to distract myself by reading a book (one that was NOT about betrayed spouses or sex addiction). After about an hour, my husband came into my office and abruptly told me he was going to “a meeting.” For anyone with an addict in their lives, you will know that “a meeting,” means a 12-step group meeting. I asked him how he made that decision. He said he had spoken with his sponsor about our conversation and his sponsor had suggested he focus on himself and his recovery and that would be the best thing for both of us. Well, fuck me! You can imagine how thrilled I was that my partner of 30 years had decided that his sponsor of 15 minutes knew what was best for our 25 year marriage and that my being told what he was going to do was much better than apologizing to me or talking things through. That abandoning the situation in the guise of “helping himself” was what was needed under the circumstances. I said, “by all means, YOU should do what is best for YOU” and he abruptly left. I sat there frustrated and wondering if he was ever going to be able to understand my feelings or put anyone else’s needs before his own.
I decided to get out of the house and go visit my good friend at work. Halfway there, I changed my mind. It was not fair to her that I bother her at work with my problems. Plus, she probably didn’t have time to actually talk a lot with me anyway, and then I would just be standing and waiting around for her in a public place, which is kind of pathetic. I aimlessly drove around for a bit and then decided to go to the nearest movie theatre and see if there was anything decent playing that fit my timing. I am surprised I am able to remember how to get anywhere in the dazed state I generally find myself in these days. So far, so good. There was one movie that hadn’t already started, ‘Non-Stop.’ I rushed in and turned off my phone just in time to catch the coming attractions. I had only been to a movie by myself once in my life before and it had been 31 years ago—the year before I met my husband. I glanced around the theatre and noticed I was the only woman in the theatre… there were 38 men, and me, yeah, I counted. So strange. I knew nothing about the movie and I became a little concerned. The movie was okay, nothing spectacular and there were only a couple mild triggers that I was able to quickly disregard, probably because my husband wasn’t there with me. The movie was action packed and suspenseful and before I knew it, it was over. I was feeling pretty good. I didn’t feel lonely or alone, and I didn’t feel tense or stressed out. I was kinda pleased with myself for figuring out a diversion that worked. I turned my phone back on and there were at least a dozen text messages and phone calls from my husband and son. Mostly my son wanted to know what we were having for dinner. My husband on the other hand started out with something like, ‘hey, where are you?’ and eventually to the more frantic, ‘I am REALLY WORRIED about you, please just let me know you are okay.’ I texted him immediately, that I was fine. I drove the 20 minutes home and miraculously they had figured out something for dinner and everything seemed “normal.” Later I asked my husband how his meeting had gone, and we talked and he apologized for walking out and abandoning the situation. He admitted he was a coward.
Today I had an appointment with my therapist. In our discussion of how I was coping, I told her the story of the other day, the frustration, the sponsor, the going to the meeting, the movie. I am not sure what I was expecting, but I was not expecting her to chastise me. I was not expecting her to make me feel bad for the decision I had made to go to a movie. She said that I was selfish in that I had not texted my husband before I turned off the phone. In fact, I had briefly thought about it, but knowing my husband, he probably had forgotten to turn off or silence his mobile phone (something that never leaves his hand or his pocket) before going into the meeting. Also, sometimes they have “fellowship” after meetings and I didn’t even know if he would be home before my movie was out. There was no evil motive on my part. I am not the one who plays fucking games! She said it sounded like I was punishing him for going to a meeting, and going to a meeting, in her mind, was the appropriate thing to do, and that I really should have been home when he returned? What? I’m sure my mouth hung open in shock for about 30 seconds. At this point, in my little world, I can do no wrong in terms of behavior with my husband. I mean, of course I cannot kill him, or even hurt him really badly, which is not my style anyway. But, other than that, this man has destroyed my entire life and ripped my safety net right out from under me. I am falling to my death and his entire life should be devoted to picking me back up again and now someone is telling me—I AM WRONG?!?
Okay, its one thing to understand sex addiction and be sympathetic to the addict, but at the cost of the betrayed spouse? I think not! I’m not sure how this is going to end up.