Journal Entry: March 24, 2014
“Just because everything is different, doesn’t mean anything has changed.” Irene Peter
My husband has become quite attached to his sponsor. His sponsor has a similar story and pathology to my husband. He has been sober (although with sex addicts, it is not always wise to believe anything they say) for about eight years. He was “outed” during the 25th year of his marriage. He had been cheating the entire 25 years with different women. He has been attending 12-Step and therapy for the past eight years and he has sponsored numerous men in the 12-Step process.
My husband and his sponsor see each other three times a week at meetings and then at fellowship, after the meetings. They have also met up outside the 12-Step forum. My husband, like all other sex addicts, felt alone and isolated, basically since he was a young boy. Ironic since he has about a million friends, acquaintances, business contacts, family members, etc… in his “real” world. The addiction and surrounding behaviors further isolate them from their “real” world and they do believe there isn’t anyone else out there like them and they continue to hide behind their lies and bad behavior until they get caught, if they do get caught. It is my understanding, after speaking to my therapist extensively on the subject, that once they are out, and they are surrounded by other people like them (12-Step) and they get proper therapy from an expert in the field, they have a “chance” for recovery. My question, repeatedly, to anyone who will listen including my therapist and my husband, is “why now?” Why is he going to be able to control his addiction now, just because he got caught and he now realizes there are other people like him?!? I do not believe it. He has not been able to stop his behavior his whole life and for 15 years, he has been choosing to cheat on me, something he knew would destroy me… or at the very least, destroy his marriage. How could he not wake up every morning and say, WTF, what am I doing and why am I doing it? THERE IS SOMETHING HORRIBLY WRONG WITH ME!!! And then, get help! Especially when he already has a confidential therapist! Apparently the mindset of an addict will not allow them to do this. The mantra in their head is–NO ONE will understand, I am sick, and no one will be able to love or accept me if they know the truth about me. The drivers of my husband’s addict behavior, are anger, resentment, entitlement, etc… and I believe those emotions are still present, and he is still hiding behind them. I have a hard time believing he will ever be able to control the demon. It also chafes my hide to know that a bunch of strangers are now going to be able to “help” my husband and I am just kind of out here on the sidelines. The person who has loved him, stood by him, and championed him for 30 years, I am now a disturbed, depressed, and pathetic cheerleader of sorts. This is not a partnership. This is bullshit!
Anyway, back to the sponsor. My husband and his sponsor have agreed that it would be helpful to me to speak with the sponsor’s wife. She is a strong willed woman who believed in her husband, never left his side, and now believes that their marriage is stronger than ever (or so they say). Um, okay. Bring it! I agreed to meet her at a local park. As I sat there in my car in the parking lot waiting for her arrival (not knowing at all what she looked like), I noticed a very petite, blonde woman get out of the driver’s side of a car a few spaces over from me. I figured this must be her since the timing was right and everyone else around was with small children on the playground. I waited just to make sure she went to the agreed upon meeting spot and then I noticed a tall, thin, gray haired man get out of the passenger seat. They walked together to a spot on a path and I thought, hmmm, I guess its not her after all. The petite blonde sent the gentleman on his way on the path and then she returned to our agreed upon meeting spot… so it WAS her. I got out of my car and approached her. She suggested we sit at a nearby picnic table. It was a bit of a surreal experience on this fairly warm day (for our climate) in March and we were surrounded by young Mom’s chatting and children playing and for a second, I wanted to turn around and go back to my safe car, and drive to my safe house, and climb under the covers of my comfy warm bed, and disappear. Was I really ready to tell my story to a complete stranger?
She started by telling me her story. She had been with her husband for over 25 years and had no idea that he had ever cheated or that he was cheating on her. After a brief phone call with her husband while he was traveling on business, she felt like something was off and she became suspicious that he was lying about something. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be, or with who he was supposed to be with (a male colleague). She started going through old travel receipts and found some pretty compelling evidence that someone had been sharing his room with him on business trips (yes, this does sound familiar). She, like me, had scheduled all her husband’s travel. She confronted him with the evidence and he admitted he had been having an affair. She demanded he get rid of the mistress and get help, which he, ostensibly, did. He said and did all the right things although he backed away (ran away) from any discussion of facts or details regarding the affair. He got into therapy, was diagnosed, and attended 12-Step meetings. She thought she had everything back on track by their 25th wedding anniversary. She didn’t really address her own trauma. She poured everything she had into healing her marriage. It was all that mattered. She put controls on everything he did, she monitored all his behavior, she scheduled her own career around his business trips so she could monitor him, and then, things fell back into place again. Things felt right again. She loosened up her control on him. About eight months later, she and her husband were out of state in a car on the way to their son’s college graduation. Her mobile phone rang, and it was the mistress. They had never ended their affair. They had slowed for a bit so he could make things right with “his wife,” but they had never stopped seeing each other and talking to each other. They had started the sexual affair back up again, and he loved her (the mistress) and they were going to be together. The mistress had become impatient and wanted to expedite the divorce so she could be with her one true love. This is when “the wife’s” world fell apart. She realized she had not fixed anything, that things were even worse than before. The shit really hit the fan at this point. Her husband continued to avoid answering questions and giving her any details. They knew the relationship was driven by his sex addiction, and that he did not want a divorce, he did not want to be with this other woman, he felt shame and remorse, every time, and he did not know why he did it, etc.. etc… etc… The wife resorted to anti-depressants and swallowed the huge pill that was her reality. She could not fix or control her husband. Only he could do that.
This time things were different. Instead of placing controls on him, she gave him boundaries. She got herself into therapy. She stopped eating and sleeping and became dangerously thin before she realized she had suffered enough. And then, she called “the other woman.” She set up two separate meetings with her. She explained her husband’s illness, and that they had a good marriage including all those wonderful elements that he had lied about and told her were missing. She asked every question of this woman she had ever wanted an answer to and her husband was not willing or able to give. She got ALL THE ANSWERS. Unlike the other woman in my life, this woman was heartbroken, gentle, and remorseful (as opposed to angry, bitter and vindictive). She gave up every last encounter. The wife went home and verified all the details with her husband, and there were a lot of details. She said the most heartbreaking of the entire disclosure was the fact that on their 25th wedding anniversary, the wife had been out of town for her own job so they had scheduled a romantic weekend away for just after their anniversary day. As it turns out, her husband had invited his mistress to their house to have sex in their bed on that fateful 25th wedding anniversary day. She explained how her therapist was eventually able to ween her off the antidepressants and she and her husband have had a loving, forgiving, honest relationship since… not without it’s rocky points, but in tact, nonetheless.
I then told her my story. We parted ways. I left thinking a few things:
1) I wish I could contact my husband’s acting out partner, not because I want all the details, my husband is much better at sharing details. I am tired of the details. Sometimes it does feel like he is flaunting the details, throwing them in my face in anger, but getting the anger out one way or another is a good thing. I am strong enough to know I did not cause the anger. I would want to contact her to tell my side of the story. To tell her I am not a bad wife, I did not neglect my husband, and that he lied and never loved her. But I know I cannot do this. She might kill me.
2) The point was reiterated to me that I cannot control my husband. I cannot force him to be in recovery. I cannot do his recovery work for him. I cannot change him.
3) I do not want to take anti-depressants.
4) I do not trust my husband, even though it looks like he is doing all the “right” things.
5) We will not be renewing our vows this year, and I will not be going out of town and leaving him with a half empty bed on our 25th wedding anniversary.