Powerless to the addiction

“Before coming to Sex Addicts Anonymous, many of us never knew that our problem had a name. All we knew was that we couldn’t control our sexual behavior. For us, sex was a consuming way of life. Although the details of our stories were different, our problem was the same. We were addicted to sexual behaviors that we returned to over and over, despite the consequences.” -Sex Addicts Anonymous, p. 3

Journal Entry: June 3, 2014

Before we left for graduation, my husband ended his relationship with his therapist. Once we returned home, and after a lot of discussion about what was best for Blue Eyes at this point, we decided it might be a good idea for him to enter an inpatient facility that specializes in sex addiction. I was really pushing for the inpatient because I was convinced it was the only way for him to get deep, intensive therapy that wouldn’t take months, if not years, to complete. Plus, honestly, I need a break. Detox from sex addiction is no joke and it seems like my husband is going through the first stages of ridding his body of his need to act out sexually. He is showing signs of anxiety and depression, sleeplessness, loss of energy and increased anger and insecurity. He has not worked a full day in five months. Going without therapy is not really an option.

Detoxing from sex addiction is not about detoxing from sex, although I have read that a celibacy period might help him better get in touch with deeper feelings and the inpatient treatment would certainly help with that. My husband and I have never stopped having sex. There had never been a point in our marriage (despite what he said to his acting out partners) when we did not engage in healthy marital sex. Good sex, great sex even. I never kept track of how many times in a week we had sex, but if I had to take a guess, it was at least a couple times per week (after 30 years together), sometimes more, almost never less unless one of us was sick, or he was traveling. My husband always wanted more, a lot more, but I tended to encourage sex when I felt like it was coming from a loving, romantic place, not a quick fix coping mechanism. I have always known my husband used sex for coping. I think a lot of guys do. Sex addiction is actually not about a lack of healthy sex in a person’s life. It is about secrets, lies, anger, resentment, control and manipulation. Weaning off of the secret life wreaks havoc on the body and mind. An inpatient facility would give Blue Eyes the chance at intense rehabilitation as well as focusing on his deteriorating physical health. The rehab centers work on body and mind with yoga, diet, breathing, meditation, and of course, celibacy. How do I, a trauma ridden betrayed wife, know all this stuff about sex addiction and rehab centers? Research, a whole lot of research. I have literally spent hours and hours on the web, week after week, month after month, researching the disease. Researching betrayal and why people cheat, and why women become mistresses, and the signs of sex addiction, trying to make sense of my new life. I’m not sure any of it is helping me, but I have learned a lot.

Blue Eyes began searching for a good inpatient therapy facility. There are quite a few centers across the U.S. and no way for him to know which one is best. His original therapist was still suggesting The Meadows, but admitting he is not an expert on sex addiction. None of the guys in his beloved 12 step group had been to an inpatient facility. I suggested my husband call the institute in LA where I had started my trauma therapy. He did call the institute, which specializes in sex addiction and sexual health, for advice on an inpatient facility. After talking with the director for over two hours, it was decided that my husband would go down to LA for an exhaustive three-day assessment and evaluation before deciding where to go for treatment. The therapy was scheduled for this past weekend. The director himself freed up his schedule and worked in tandem with another sex addiction therapist to create a schedule for Blue Eyes.

I decided to travel down to LA with my husband for a number of reasons. I was able to schedule more time with my LA trauma therapist. Also, my husband and I agreed that he was not ready to stay at a hotel by himself. Most of his worst acting out behaviors happened when he was traveling. The thought of him traveling alone, or worse yet, my mind going back to thoughts of him not traveling alone, started triggering both of us. Plus, I love Los Angeles and my favorite LA hotel is just a couple blocks from his therapy. More sunshine, more palm trees. Who could complain about that!

As it turned out, the therapists were pretty disappointed that I was in town with my husband. They forbid him from having sex with me at all. No sexual behavior, no touching, nothing. They wanted him raw for his sessions. Unfortunately, they neglected to tell him this until he showed up the first morning, and we had just had sex. Um, oh well. We followed the rules for the next couple of days, which was not actually that easy because he was so distraught after his sessions, he really wanted sex. I had never heard of hysterical bonding before reading about sex addiction. Now I see it show up on a lot of betrayed spouse blogs. It seems wives fall into two categories once they find out their husband has cheated. Either they want to have more frequent and more passionate sex with their husband, or they do not want the spouse to touch them at all. I definitely fall into the wanting to have more sex category. I have always wanted to have sex with my husband. He had actually not had sex with his last acting out partner for nearly six months when I found out about the affair, and he had only had sex with her on a handful of occasions over the years. When he was in his addictive cycle, which happened a couple times a year stretching over a few weeks at a time, his addiction lived off of sexting and then sexual encounters either at her house or on business trips. He had had sex with me dozens of times since their affair, and of course, we had maintained our sex life throughout his entire 15 years of cheating. Other than him being exhausted when he came home from business trips, which happened even when he wasn’t traveling with her, there were no other signs, at least not that I saw. My husband was always pursuing me. Again, sex addiction, ironically, is not really about the sex, but sex is their drug of choice when they are in an addicted state.

The intensive therapy sessions were draining. Each day Blue Eyes would return to the hotel listless and distraught. They dug deeply into his childhood. We tried not to talk about his day once he returned to me at the hotel. He worked so hard not to focus on the pain he was experiencing, but it was extremely difficult. We watched funny movies, and read books, but he desperately wanted to be intimate with me… to medicate himself. On the second day, my husband joined me for lunch by the pool on his break. I could tell there was something very wrong. He wanted to talk about it, but when he did start talking, he seemed angry and belligerent. I knew the therapy was going to be difficult, but I had no idea it would be like this. As it turns out, my husband was sexually abused as a child, more than once. I was under the impression that a lot of his anger and resentment was coming from being raised by a narcissistic mother who controlled every facet of his life and he felt emasculated, manipulated, and controlled, and that was partially true. The other part, the really really destructive part, is that he was molested and he had never acknowledged the abuse or dealt with it. He started self-medicating himself at approximately 10 years old. He kept his secrets deeply hidden, and he became addicted to thinking about sex, viewing pornography, and self gratification. The picture was becoming clearer, but Blue Eyes was not feeling better, he was feeling humiliated. He felt like he should have been able to avoid the abuse. I tried to be helpful and sympathetic. My sister was sexually abused as a child, on multiple occasions. I said to my husband that he should not feel responsible for the sexual abuse because just like my sister, he was already vulnerable by the time the abuse happened. He could not have stopped it. I should have kept my mouth shut. My insight did not help him feel better.

By the end of the three days, the plan was set. Blue Eyes would not go to an inpatient facility, at least not this month. The director of the sexual institute did not think there was an in patient program appropriate for my husband in his current state. The institute was scheduled to have one of their multi-day outpatient programs at the end of the month. The program treatment goals include creating a behavioral plan, learning alternative coping mechanisms, shame reduction and self-acceptance, education about the impact their behavior and the disclosure has perpetrated on the spouse, and a long term strategy and plan. In the meantime, we would both return to Los Angeles for additional individual therapy and then Blue Eyes would attend the multi-day outpatient at the end of the month, but I was forbidden from traveling with my husband to California for the multi day program. My anxiety level is already quite high and now we were going to be apart for 10 days and he is not going to be in a facility that is secure and protected with the goal of sexual sobriety. Instead, he will be traveling alone and staying in a hotel for multiple nights on end, reminding me of all the trips he has taken over the past five years.

This is when my trauma has to take a back seat to my husband’s treatment and recovery, and it sucks. I better start mentally preparing myself.

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