Journal Entry: October 6, 2014
It’s been a while since I talked about therapy. A couple weeks ago I decided I was ready to be done with my individual work. Basically, I was going round and round with issues with communication with my husband. I communicate, he doesn’t. Me continuing to communicate in therapy, by myself, was not really helping me anymore. It was frustrating me. I know what my issues are. I put others before myself, but it’s pretty obvious to me that I can walk away from my marriage and heal just fine. Yeah, I will have to really mourn the loss of my marriage, not just mourn what I thought my marriage was. But, I know I can do that. I know I can walk away. I don’t want to walk away right now. I want to give my husband that fighting chance, and therapy is a big part of it. Chatty Kathy and I decided I was ready for couple’s therapy. We set up a 50-minute session for me and Blue Eyes. In the meantime, The Shrink had decided it was time he met me. He and Blue Eyes have been working together for almost three months. We ended up getting in to see The Shrink before our first couple’s appointment.
I walked into The Shrink’s office with my husband and I immediately felt anxious, overwhelmed, and scared and I could not figure out why. The Shrink left the office briefly. I looked around and there was nothing scary about his office. I sat in a comfortable looking chair, my husband sat in the other, less comfortable looking chair. Our chairs were far enough apart that we could not touch, we could not hold hands. I wrapped my arms around myself and sat, waiting for The Shrink to come back. The Shrink is a gentle looking man of about 60 years old with gray hair, kind eyes, and a soft, encouraging voice. He gave me his background and told me he has worked with 28 sex addicts in the history of his practice. He asked me some questions about how I am doing with the betrayal trauma, and my self harm. He asked a little about my journey since dday. I talked about how scared I am about Blue Eyes’ addiction and his ability to recover. He asked had I ever noticed any signs of Blue Eyes’ sex addiction. Hindsight being what it is, there were lots of signs. I told him about the Craig’s List Ad in 2005. I explained how I had found the sexual email from Camilla and about how Blue Eyes talked his way out of it. How we had agreed to focus more on each other and our intimate relationship. The Shrink looked at me and gave me the look that all betrayed spouses dread, the look that says, “you should have known, deep down you knew.” He said that my experience with the email and my husband’s response was textbook sex addict behavior. They were obvious signs of a cheater.
I was so upset.
I know this man understands sex addiction, but does he understand what it is like to be a loving, trusting wife who believes in her spouse and would have no reason to think he was lying. I know my husband has self esteem issues stemming from childhood, and I truly believed, in the wake of everything going on with his family, and how busy I was with my children’s school functions. that he was lonely and that he had dabbled in a titillating scenario that had made him feel desired and validated and that he had met with this woman and realized his mistake, and had turned his attention back to his family, and to what he knows is right. After seeing the website photo of Camilla, there was no doubt in my mind that he did not have a relationship with this woman. That is what I thought my husband had done. I had no reason to think any differently. From that day forward, way back in 2005, my husband became an expert at lying and deceiving me, and everyone else around him.
I had no idea.
I felt trapped, in that office, with The Shrink and Blue Eyes. I could see my husband wanting to come over and comfort and hold me, but he didn’t. By this time I was crying, quite uncontrollably. The Shrink asked me about how I thought our marriage was progressing at this point. I said it wasn’t. That I lived in fear that my husband would relapse. That he wasn’t making progress, that he was playing at the game of recovery. That figuring out this new system, was a new element of his addiction. The Shrink asked me, “if you are so unhappy with your marriage and your husband’s progress, why do you stay?”
And I simply said, “I don’t know.”
He looked concerned and gently suggested I should not end my individual therapy. He didn’t think I was ready. I told him that in any given week, at this point, about 80% of the time I felt like what I really wanted was to stay with my husband and help him work through his recovery. To not abandon 30 years of the most important relationship of my life. That I had always loved Blue Eyes. The other 20% of the time, I desperately wanted to flee and now was one of those times. Sitting in judgment by other people, having them insinuate that you should have realized your husband was a serial cheater, and that he was traveling with another woman and telling her he loved her, that as a wife, we should have some sixth sense about where our husband’s penis is at all times, feels like shit. To have people tell you your marriage was a lie, and now you must start over, and that odds of full recovery for a sex addict without relapse are pretty damn low, feels horrible.
The Shrink turned his attention to Blue Eyes. He asked Blue Eyes questions about how things were going with him and his 12 step work, his sponsor, his daily outer circle activities, those healthy behaviors he is establishing to enhance his life and his recovery. Blue Eyes always seems so proud of himself and happy to talk about his own accomplishments. He embellishes on all he has done “good or right.” He sounds like a small child reporting on what a good boy he has been. He seeks approval and in so doing, strokes his ego, which is in my mind completely counter productive to his recovery. The Shrink explains to me that Blue Eyes’ recovery is like climbing a very tall mountain, step by step, he will make the slow climb to the top, and it takes years.
By this point in the session, I am getting angry. I watch my husband clearly manipulating his therapist. I have watched my sister do this exact thing. The manipulation capabilities of addicts is unreal. I look at The Shrink and I say,
“I understand and appreciate your ‘climbing a very tall mountain’ analogy, however, in order to make any progress at all, he has to at least be taking some steps. He is NOT taking those steps. He is manipulating the hell out of you. I have known this man for 30 years, and I can see it clearly. He is self-aggrandizing. He is sitting here, right now, boosting his own ego. Making himself feel better because the alternative, is too difficult and he does not want to feel bad about himself. He has never wanted to feel bad about himself or what he has done. It’s his self protection. That is how he has compartmentalized out everyone that cares for him and he has manipulated and abused people, and yet here he sits, talking about how great he is, how much progress he has made, and what a good boy he is. I call bullshit. In order for me to stay in this marriage, I need him to be taking real steps.”
I really do think The Shrink understood what I was saying and maybe, maybe, even agreed that he was letting Blue Eyes manipulate him.
I walked out of The Shrink’s office feeling deflated and discouraged. I know now why I was scared. I was scared of the reality that my husband was continuing to manipulate the system. He has moved on from manipulating our marriage, me, his affair partners, his children, his employees, pretty much everyone in his life in order to keep feeding his addiction, to manipulating his recovery and feeding off this new ecosystem. I was scared to face that reality, but I had to, and I did. What will happen from here forward, I do not know, but I hope I have opened The Shrink’s eyes to the fact that despite his experience with 28 other sex addicts, he may have met his match with number 29.
I want to crawl inside a little warm cocoon and hide there and not come out until things make sense. Until my world, the one that has been turned upside down and inside out, is all right again. I need a place to hide until this war is over, and I don’t want anyone to come looking for me.