Journal Entry: October 31, 2014
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” -Maya Angelou
Since my life has been somewhat of a horror show since January, I guess it is appropriate to have my husband join me on this Halloween evening and share some insight into his brain. This morning he presented his first step in front of a group of sex addicts. On the one hand, they understand him. They understand his feelings and what has driven him in his addiction. On the other, he is still having to speak out loud in front of a group of near strangers about the deepest darkest secrets of his life, about the things that make him feel bad about himself, about the things he has done that he wishes he could wipe away and forget and never face.
So, here goes:
“Kat asked me to write a guest post about my first step. I really did not want to do it. Now that I am in recovery, whenever I don’t want to do something, it means I really need to do it. I have learned to mistrust my inner voice, to do the opposite, to do the next right thing.
As we all know, life is about making decisions. We all make so many decisions every day. Even not being able to make a decision, is a decision of sorts. We are the culmination of our choices, and to say I am incredibly bad at making decisions is an understatement. I am defective at this in most aspects of my life, and its not like my decisions are any better now, now that I am in recovery. The major difference now is I try to avoid making decisions alone and most importantly I consult with Kat related to any decision relevant to her in any way, no more rationalizing that my horrifying decisions won’t affect her.
Now back to my first step. My first step was a big, awful, fearful, painful, stressful, shameful, anxiety-ridden exercise in writing down all the horrible decisions I have made in my life thus far, and then sharing it with guys I barely know. Examining the consequences of my decisions and showing the unmanageability and powerlessness to the addiction, was the purpose of my first step. Accepting that I am incapable of making sound decisions when encumbered by my disease, and turning over the process of healing to a higher power, to a new way of life centered on honesty and integrity, is what I learned in this process. The first step opened the door to my reality and reinforced the truth of where I am today and what I will be for the rest of my life and that I am totally responsible for everything that has happened and will happen and that clearly I was incapable of managing my addiction without discovery, disclosure, and lots of help.
One of my many, many defects is the fact that when I am not relying on my addiction and that false sense of control, I tend to immaturely turn over to others material decisions in my life that have no business being made by anyone but me and Kat. I deflect and run. I am a coward. I felt scared and then powerless regarding the disclosure of the one-night-stand with the fourth acting out partner. I didn’t want to share the information. I felt pressured to share and then I turned over control of where it would be shared and when, to the therapists. I let this all happen in clear violation of my inner circle and by incorporation, Kat’s set boundaries for me. Regardless of the therapists and their involvement, I should have disclosed directly to Kat, but I did not out of fear of consequences. I know where Kat’s safe place is: anywhere we are together and alone is the safest place, and that is where I can be vulnerable and where I am unconditionally loved and accepted, but my mind will still not let me believe this.
I have a long way to go. I have acknowledged what I am, an addict that was out of control, making incredibly destructive decisions that affected everyone in my life, a man in denial about who I was, and I lived in a delusional state of believing I had control over my life. I have to practice being vulnerable and getting out of my head each day. How well I am able to practice the process of letting go of the anger and resentment that started in childhood and has plagued my thoughts and actions of adulthood, of letting go of the secrets, pretending like I have control, and of learning to behave like the man I want to be, will determine whether Kat stays or leaves. I want nothing more than for her to stay. Every day I have moments now where I live in hyper anxiety, sheer horror, because I realize that I could have reached out many years ago and helped myself, but I made the decision not to. I escaped into a fantasy sexual world to the point that it was already impacting my academic and social life when I was in middle school, and I never tried to help myself. I now need to communicate in a better way my remorse and apologies for everything that I have done. I think the best way to do this is not to wait until Kat is suffering from trauma related aftershocks, but to acknowledge her pain on a regular basis. I have not done a good job of this. I have not been consistent in such acknowledgements. It was easier for me to pretend that just being near her was enough, but I need to acknowledge the pain I have caused her.
When I was working my first step, I had written out a long list of perceived wrongs from my childhood. Things my parents ostensibly did to make me the monster I am. My sponsor said, “take fucking responsibility for your actions, get rid of how you came to be and just deal with what you did.” Basically, he was saying stop making excuses for your predicament, stop blaming your past, deal with what you did and that is where you should focus. That ended up eliminating about one-half of my first step narrative. Good thing though, because this morning I went through my fully allotted time, with nothing left over.
During an intensive program for sex addicts that I attended a few months ago, one of the participants asked why we were addicts, when other individuals had suffered the same or worse fates than us and did not have an addiction. Somebody said because those individuals had done “the work.” So step one for me was really about starting to get out of myself and facing what I had actually done and clear the path to steps 4 and 5, to do the work. To really start making the most difficult changes, to finally begin putting Kat and others before myself, all the time, and without internalized resentment and anger. I am now in the midst of actually the hardest part of my recovery, doing an honest and full self-inventory. It does not matter what kind of addict we are, how we approach the 4th step is pivotal to actual change and I believe step 1 is huge in setting the direction. I am so thankful for Kat who has been by my side on this most difficult and worthwhile path. Kat, for now has chosen to help her abuser. I cannot imagine what my recovery would be like if I was alone. Well, actually I can and it is one of my greatest fears and it is a very real possible consequence that I may face. I am changing but it is not a transformation that occurs instantly, it is a slow process. It is mentally and physically painful. I also know that my lack of change or my slow pace is killing Kat. On some days I want to run away as I think Kat would be better off. Actually I know she would be, but I know without Kat, things would be unbearable for me. I am still selfish.
For a great majority of my life I chose lies, rather than the truth. Even as recently as the other day I did not want to acknowledge my reality, and I will never escape the consequences. My defects are pervasive in all aspects of my life. I have forever changed Kat and our children and those around me and not for the better, far from it. I have no idea how it will metabolize and reveal itself in our children and others. I have created an unpredictable stalking monster that has necessitated police involvement. I have put my family in danger.
Kat has a pure spirit within, and her inner voice predominates everything she does. That is the change I am trying to make in my life, to never let the addiction back in, to let my good and higher power guide me in everything I do. I need to be able to reach out and be vulnerable without fear.”
6 thoughts on “Guest post: the sex addict speaks about his first step”
Having just taken 4 years to escape this team that you never wanted to join (partners of addicts)… Your last statement was so true. You will only ever manage the addict, a place I realized I would never be strong enough to be in forever. Sounds like hou might have more luck than me though! Be strong..
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Thanks for your comment. I am sorry for your pain. I have not had a chance to read your blog, but I looked at it briefly and it sounds like your situation is so frightening and horrible and stressful. I mean, it is always those things with a sex addict, but it sounds like there is no closure or healing with your husband/marriage. Again, I need to go and read more before I say too much. One thing though, I do not ever intend on managing my addict husband. He is the only one that can manage his addiction. As long as my husband is in recovery, we are together. He finally knows what recovery means. He was also the only one that could define that. My husband is not mean or aggressive, and never has been. For now, he is completely remorseful and horrified by his behavior. I cannot imagine him any other way as he is a big baby, but I guess we shall see. Never say never.
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I must say, Kat, I am impressed with the maturity of what he’s written. Do you believe him when he says he couldn’t do this without you? I don’t know how much ‘control’ a sex addict has. Do they make their bad choices consciously? I mean, obviously they are adults and they are conscious, but does the sickness control their behaviour? This is such a difficult journey you are on, I wish you nothing but strength and positivity. SWxo
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Thanks, SW, you pretty much hit the nail on the head, sex addiction does seem to be similar to other addictions in that they are out of control. Their brain takes over in times of stress, anger, resentment, fear, etc… at a young age, to protect them. They really have to re-program their brain (frontal lobe?) from constantly getting hits off sexual images and stimuli and using sex and sexual images as a coping strategy for the triggers of the addiction. Growing up he felt so controlled and humiliated, and he was eventually sexually abused, and he turned to sex to cope (just like drugs or alcohol). He could then control his own coping or pleasure zone, at least that is what he got used to. It is a false way of thinking, but not necessarily conscious. And then it became a very destructive habit.
He could definitely do it without me, he just doesn’t like the idea of it. We’ve been together for 30 years. I am a reminder of his addiction, but also I am here for support, when I can muster it. It’s a shitty place to be for me and we were just talking last night how if we had separated months ago, we would both probably have done more healing at the beginning, not having each other to rely on and therefore putting our own individual healing on hold while we were dealing with the other. He deflected a lot to my pain at first and did not face his own. Now that his secret is out and he realizes everyone isn’t running away from him, he cannot use it as an excuse anymore, but it doesn’t really change the brain function. He has to change that with new stimuli and new ways of dealing with the underlying emotions. That is what therapy and 12 step are for, constant reminders of what he is, and what he needs to do to conquer it. There is no way a person can recover on their own, or just with a friend, and certainly not with just a spouse, the person they hurt most. They cannot change the brain without constant and habitual reinforcement of a new way of thinking and behaving. I guess I get the 12 step process now. I still have similar concerns about it like I did before, but now I see how it works. He shows his anger a lot more now, and resentment is a destructive emotion he often does not know what to do with. It is displaced resentment from childhood. Now he is aware of what he is doing and thinking most of the time, and the rationalizations are diminishing and he is waking up to his new reality. At first the recovery process felt like a game to me. Like he was learning a new hobby and going through the motions. It took months before I think he actually started doing the work, thus more than nine months working on his first step. There are days now where his pain looks a lot like mine. He sits there staring off into space, he cries and looks lost. I feel like that is progress because he no longer is trying to control and manipulate everything. It is a long journey and he will always be a sex addict. It cannot be cured, only managed.
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Mr Kat (“Blue Eyes” seems too familiar): you should be very proud of yourself for taking the risks and doing the work you need to in order to become whole after a lifetime of being anything other than whole. I TRULY believe in the Lao Tzu quote “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and hope you can embrace its wisdom. You have a long journey, but you have already put the starting point behind you 🙂
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Thanks, B. This is Kat 🙂 . It’s going to be a little bit before I can bring this up with Blue Eyes again. It always takes a lot out of him to sit down and write out how he feels. It is part of his recovery, and a difficult part at that. I’ll read this comment to him later. His post was far more “put together” than he really is in “real life” and it took a toll. Thanks for encouraging him.