What I wish he had said

“Life is a process. We are a process. The universe is a process.” -Anne Wilson Schaef

Journal Entry: January 16, 2015

A couple months ago I asked my husband to write something about his first step that I could post on my blog. He hemmed and hawed and procrastinated and eventually wrote something, and then I posted it. I looked at it briefly before posting, then read it again after posting. Then I needed to look back at it a couple times more in response to comments. I am not going to lie, what he wrote was disappointing to me. It’s pretty obvious that I cannot control what my husband does or says. I don’t want to, of course, but he does still cause me great pain, and I really wish he could fix that. He is not trying to hurt me with his words and actions, but he does.

Technically he did what I asked him to do in his post about his first step. He wrote down his feelings about it. He spent nine months preparing for that step presentation, that’s how difficult it was for him. It took a toll. The process of him “working” his first step was torture on me as well. The reality of his mobile phone bill and the text and phone call habits between him and Camilla slapped me in the face, and were a byproduct of Blue Eyes preparing for his first step. The horrifying fourth acting out partner disclosure was prompted by his first step disclosures. Throughout the entire process of preparation, there were bits of him that resented the process, I could see it, feel it, and the frustration was palpable. Sex addicts do not just wake up one day and say, oh hey, geez, what have I been doing all these years that makes me feel like shit? Well, I don’t want to do that anymore. How can I help myself? How can I get better? They don’t. Diligently working each of the 12 steps is crucial to their success.

I found this really great guide regarding the SA first step on a local SA chapter website:

First Step Written Guide

  1. I am a Sexaholic. In this section I do a sexual inventory. This means I write down all the things I have done sexually that I wish I hadn’t. I may organize it any way I wish, from my earliest remembrances to the most recent, or by subject, or in whatever order comes to mind. I put down all the details I need to put down in private. I explore how I feel about each of them now. Some questions for reflection are:
  2. What is my earliest recollection of sex? Was there anything unusual about it?
  3. Did I have any unusual pre-puberty experiences with sexual curiosity?
  4. At the outset of puberty, did I discover masturbation? Did it become compulsive and frequent? If so, has that practice continued?
  5. What about pornography? At what age, if any, did I start reading or viewing such materials? Has that practice continued?
  6. What about visualization and fantasy? Have I spent much time in this practice?
  7. What about relations with women (men)? Have I used them for self-gratification: If so, how exactly have I used them? How compulsively?

Am I aware of feelings I might have been trying to cover up by masking them with sexual highs? What were my payoffs for these actions?

  1. My life is unmanageable –I am powerless over lust. In this section I recognize my powerlessness and how my life has become unmanageable from my sexaholism, how I have tried to control lust but have been unsuccessful, and now my life is out of control. Some questions to guide my reflections are:
  2. What has it cost me to obsess sexually? A spouse(s)? A family? A girlfriend or boyfriend? A job? A promotion? Money? Reputation?
  3. What have I done that I didn’t want to do? Whom have I associated with that I wouldn’t have associated with? Where have I gone that I never would have gone? Is something other than me running my life?
  4. How has my illness affected my home life? My spouse? My children?
  5. How has my illness affected my work? My employment? My career?
  6. How has my illness affected my finances? Have I lost income over it? Incurred significant costs?
  7. How has my illness affected me legally? Have I been arrested? Could I have been arrested for what I have done? Could I have been sued?
  8. How many times have I tried unsuccessfully to quit? What promises did I make myself? Did I keep them? What happened when I failed?
  9. What finally brought me to SA? What were the final incidents?

(Note: Try not to dwell on whose fault it is. So your parents didn’t raise you right. Neither did their parents. We got like we are as a part of the human process.)

The only real essential of Step One is stated on the first page of Alcoholics Anonymous: “WE learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics.” No book, no guide, no other person or group, no God is necessary, just the addict admitting to his innermost self that he is out of control and helpless and that lust is ruining his life. But the rest of these may help him reach that point.

First Step Guide

“We admitted that we were powerless over lust – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, adapted by Sexaholics Anonymous, are the greatest force yet found in battling addictions of any kind. They are a path to sobriety that can bring relief to me, this suffering addict, like nothing else can.

I am a sexaholic and my life is unmanageable. The purpose of Step One is for me to become crystal clear, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am really a sexaholic who is powerless over lust and that my life is really unmanageable. If I become uncertain at any future time, or start to think I am cured or fully recovered, or that I no longer need the program, then I need to get out my First Step, see what I wrote, and re-convince myself.

Step One consists of two distinct parts: 1.) the admission that we have a mental obsession to lust uncontrollably and that this could lead us to the brink of death or insanity, and 2) the admission that our lives have been, are now, and will remain unmanageable by us alone.

The first half of the first step – we admitted we were powerless over lust – is the beginning of the SA program which we strive to perfect on a daily basis. Since lust is but a symptom of our disease, we must realize that the thinking mind with its acquired traits, habits, and character defects allowed itself to develop this obsession of the mind – to lust. “By going back over our drinking (sexual) histories, we could show that years before we realized it, we were out of control, that our drinking or acting out was no mere habit that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression” (Twelve & Twelve)

This idea of personal powerlessness goes against what our thinking mind is telling us. Only through utter defeat (having hit our own bottom) are we then able to take the first step toward liberation and strength. This utter defeat is necessary so we can become convinced, beyond any doubt, that we are powerless and our life is unmanageable by us alone. Until we so humble ourselves (accept the devastating weakness and all its consequences), our sobriety – if any – will be precarious.

The fact that our lives were unmanageable is apparent, or else why would we be involved in SA? However, it is not readily apparent to most of us that, even now, our lives are still unmanageable by us alone. This fact must be driven home. This realization that we cannot manage our own lives forms the basis for taking each of the Twelve Steps of SA in sequence.

In the process of accepting our powerlessness and unmanageability, we must be willing to put aside false pride, the pride which nearly killed us. Although the doing of Step One can be painful to the thinking mind, the road to recover begins with surrender.

The facts of your life are just that – facts. It is not the purpose of this Step to judge where you have been right or wrong. Therefore, the purpose of writing the First Step is to admit to yourself honestly that you are powerless and your life is unmanageable by your thinking alone.

———

I am not sure if my husband used a guide like this. I do not know what he used, but I do know that he did try to blame his parents until his sponsor and therapist guided him away from that, and guidance is what they are there for. Obviously, in reading this material, it is like drinking the ____ (fill in the blank: i.e., Gambling, Sexaholic, Alcoholic, Narcotics… ) Anonymous Kool-aid. But that is what is necessary in order to combat an addiction. It works for a lot of people. The program is ritualistic and monotonous (in my mind) and it seems obvious to those of us not addicted, but to the addict, it is a lifeline. A way to define an illness that they suffer from, and that many others like them suffer from, that is not necessarily accepted by mainstream society, or the press, or your family, or whatever. They desperately need that lifeline.

So what my husband wrote for my blog, to me, seemed cold. The process of doing the step ripped his insides out. He had to make an accounting of all the horrible things he did. But, HE did them, all by himself. He participated, he instigated, and as one commenter has said… addicts get pleasure from their drug. They may be tortured by an illness they cannot define, but they are self medicating with a drug that makes them feel better and at the same time, is hurting other people. Since this is my blog, I am focused on me. Even though I write a lot about my husband, the only reason I do is because he, exclusively, is what is causing me the pain that prompted the blog in the first place. I am trying to talk things out. I am trying to figure things out. My journaling and my blog help me with that. So when I asked my husband to write a post on MY blog, I sorta did think he would focus on me, and my pain, a little more. Not focus on the things he must do to now salvage a marriage he blew up, but to focus on the things he did to me in the name of sex addiction. I wanted him to own it, to own the pain of that. To acknowledge that he did exactly the same thing his parents did to him, he abused people. I wanted him to fling open his cupboard of lies and shame and toss everything out on the floor in front of us and tell us how it felt to do all those things, and how it felt to watch his best friend die a little bit each day in front of him as he slowly, ever so slowly leaked out the details of what HE had been doing to me for years, to be accountable. But he didn’t. My expectations were high, I know. I have thought about that post almost daily. I have tempered my disappointment. I am not judging him for all the things he did that destroyed me, and my world, I am merely asking him to really own it. Sure, admitting to yourself that you have an addiction, and you did shitty things, and you cannot change without help is great, but admitting that you fucking tore someone else’s life apart, tore their heart out in the process, well that is the hard part and that is what he needs to do.

I guess I can’t expect miracles from the first step of a twelve-step process. I will keep dreaming.

post script

Sometimes part of my grammar review process includes reading my journal entry out loud to my husband. I read this entry to Blue Eyes five minutes ago and he is currently bear hugging me and weeping and I am attempting to post this one handed. I know he wants to help me heal. I know he wants to own his illness. I know I need to be patient. I am not such a patient person. I wish this process didn’t take so fucking long.

12 thoughts on “What I wish he had said

  1. As a gradually recovering addict AND the ex-wife of a still willfully and deliberately active sex addict, I had many feelings about his post. As an addict, I felt shame and empathy for his addict. I would be mortified if my partner asked me to write about my addiction for strangers to see. As a co-addict, his piece looked to me like a school assignment and I felt he was no more recovered than when he first disclosed to you. I felt your anger in wanting his amends and contrition. I remember opening myself up to my ex on numerous occasions, hoping he would finally let go and open up to me with all the raw emotion and pain I was certain had to be in him. He never did. He never saw himself as having a problem and still does not. That is part of why we are finished…I couldnt keep holding on, hoping he would realize how he broke me and finally confess and beg me for forgiveness and mean it. It will never happen. I couldnt do a thing to make it happen. I’m as powerless over his addictive impulses as i am over my own. I can only work on healing myself. I struggle with that, because of our son, but i have awareness and support.
    It seems to me Blue Eyes is working. He may not be able to dig as deep as you need him to. His damage may keep him emotionally where he is for life. But he seems to be working on it and that is more than i can say for people like my ex. I hope you are able to keep getting the support YOU need to be able to let go of what holds you down and keeps you from healing. You both deserve to be happy and whole, no matter how that plays out. I wish you strength and compassion and serenity as you soldier on through this process 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks A_Female. I always appreciate your perspective and your words of wisdom. I do appreciate that Blue Eyes keeps working at his goals to be the man he says he wants to be, despite the addiction. Since I live with him every day, I could clearly see in real life that he was more recovered after nine months of working at it than he was on dday (thus asking him to contribute), although “they” do say the second six months of recovery is the most difficult, but I am pretty sure his writing did not represent a lot of that recovery, thus this post. And yes, it was scary for him to write even what he did. He held back, but life is scary. What he has put me through by his actions is scary. I do not expect miracles for myself either. I have worked really hard to go from not wanting to leave the house (for numerous reasons), exhibiting depression, and dissociative states nearly daily, and self harm at least monthly… to smiling, even laughing, and rarely harming or going off to “that place.” I just spent 11 days in a country my husband visited with his OW three times. My mind pictured them there on Valentine’s day 2010, and then pictured me, at home taking care of our home, our children, and our business. I didn’t want to, but I did, and I got through it. Considering that prior to dday, I had not suffered a single day of depression in my life and I would not have been able to accept someone telling me that some day I would harm myself due to pain caused by my husband, I did okay. Only one rough episode that I have yet to share. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to handle Japan, but I faced my fears. It took a year. There were two opportunities for me to go to Tokyo last year and I declined them because I could not fathom getting on that plane, not even to see my son who was studying there last summer. At one point I was ready to push the purchase button on the airfare for a business trip for my husband and I and I couldn’t, my hand was shaking so violently, I gave up. I said I couldn’t do it. So, even after just having the stalker show up on a plane with us last month, I was able to pull it off. I am kind of proud of myself. I am getting stronger, and so is he, and actually for once, I think on most days, we are actually strong together. Last year it was a lot of trading strength back and forth. I try to be patient with him as I know this is a life long battle and we are happy he is out of the denial phase and into the recovery phase, but there are things I require in order to stay and he’s slowly figuring that out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am with B a little bit here. I don’t know what she wrote to you privately, but if your husband was gone tomorrow, does that mean you would never heal? If you had a massive physical injury, only you could to what it takes to heal it. Your husband can wish all he wants that he could take your pain, take your wounds, heal you, but he can’t. He can help, yes, but all this hard work you speak of him doing by himself, you have to do similar hard work to heal yourself. I can totally understand wanting them to own our pain and suffering and the damage that they have caused. I used to fight so hard for him to have some recognition of me and the depth of how much damage he has caused, but it was unfathomable to him. He can’t see past himself. He would say what he thought I wanted to hear, but I knew it wasn’t what he felt. I would rather have nothing than a half-assed attempt. If he ever gets to the point where he says all the things that you expect him to say and he truly feels them, will you believe it? I know I won’t. I will want more.

    I really enjoy your blog. I appreciate your honesty, openness, and willingness to share these very intimate and painful things about your life.

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    • I have already done a lot of my own healing, realizing this is a very long process. The intensive trauma therapy over a period of two months helped me a lot. If my husband were gone tomorrow, I would be mostly healed. I would be sad, but I have forgiven him for the betrayal of the past. Do I still suffer trauma, hell yes. Not sure how much I would suffer if he wasn’t a constant reminder in my face… but I know what he did has nothing to do with me or our marriage. He was sick before he had me or our marriage. It’s very frustrating to me to know that even when they are loved unconditionally, they are able to compartmentalize out the ones they supposedly care about in order to feed their addiction. What we are working on now, is being a couple. I am always working on myself, and he is working on figuring out his illness and managing it and recovering and loving himself, but I am speaking to our marriage here. My fear in staying lies in my own safety. I cannot keep going through what I went through last year in our marriage. He has to be moving forward, and he has to figure out the compassion piece, especially if that means understanding why he did the things he did. The process takes a long time and I am impatient. I admit it is one of my greatest weaknesses. I don’t think they can “own” what they did until they are fully ready. My husband was ready to start the day the other woman called my mobile phone. He was ready long before that, but he didn’t have the skills or support system to do it. Now he does. It is up to him now. I have no problem going on without him, but at this point, I am trying to make it work.

      Thanks for your kind words of support. I am still trying to absorb my new life and having people that understand goes a long way to not feeling so alone.

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  3. Man, I love your posts, Kat! I thought the exact same thing when I read your husband’s post back then. I guess I found it selfish, please don’t be offended! I mean, blogging about yourself (pick me, pick me, me too!) is pretty self centred too. I often chortle at the irony myself. But, I also saw that it was written by a man who was learning about himself – VERY slowly – and in a way that opened my eyes to how oblivious many people are to who they really are! I mean, that surprised me so much when I discovered all of these cheaters are so self-UNaware! I had no idea people really went about their lives in that manner. I mean, yes, there are seriously disordered people, but OUR men, OUR friends, surely they were like us, right? I have no idea why I had this faith in humanity.

    I am not judging his post – I really think he seems to be working this stuff out, but it will be a lifetime of mindfulness and education. Stink that, but it is what it is.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Paula. I just wrote a long reply and then our internet crashed and it disappeared. I hate when that happens. Anyway, I am not easily offended. Ha, I am writing a blog basically about having been cheated on for 15 years… it is pretty humbling. I also used to have faith in humanity. But after reading all the BS and OW blogs, I feel like I have suddenly been dropped on a foreign planet. I am also not nearly as attached to the idea that sex is sacred… there’s a lot of people really spreading it around. The lying and betraying of a person’s spirit is the real tragedy, the sex is a byproduct.

      I also anticipate getting a comment from “B.” She called my husband out in a private email after that first step post. At the time, I defended my husband and where he was at, but some things have happened in the meantime and I need him to dig deeper into that abyss and feel the pain from the utter destruction he has wreaked on my life. He is self indulgent and self protective, and so deflecting is a whole lot easier than doing the tough work. Why can they not get the fact that if they would just do the difficult work first, they have a better chance of the happy ever after later (I know it doesn’t always work out that way) 😦 .

      When we were in college together, I always did my homework first and played second. He always played first and then pulled all nighters. A red flag for sure. I like the way you went back to the beginning of your relationship first (realizing your OW was there all along). I never did address our early years. There are some hindsight 20/20 moments with my husband. It might actually have made this whole thing a little easier because I have known from the beginning that my husband was broken… just not THAT broken. Since I am pretty caught up to current, unless there is some horrific event that must be journaled about, maybe I’ll just go back in time here soon…

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      • Mine was good, caring, mindful, etc. But I think it was after the two year mark before he TRULY got it, as far as I was able to see. They have to go through a lot to truly turn the lens fully around. It is just self protection. They need to find their feet for themselves first. Lord it is hard to be patient. And mine was good. I don’t know how people cope with those who blame shift, etc.

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      • Here I am. 🙂
        I was EXTREMELY cautious in what I wrote to you privately that day because I am not your therapist or mother or sister or friend and I did not want to hurt or anger you. And I also have no knowledge or experience of “working the steps” and had nothing to compare it to. But my reaction to it was “seriously? this is it?” And I know I said privately it just came through being about you, but what I did not say was that it seemed that he thought it was what you wanted to hear. But I truly did think “WTF”.
        Now I ALSO said in public commentary that he should be proud of himself, and I still think that. The journey of a thousand miles (not 12!) does start with a single step. Maybe it is a little like Parcheesi, take a couple of steps, get knocked back to your starting point, and try again. And again. I don’t mean to oversimplify but that is the image I have as I write this.

        Kat, if you suddenly learned you had a short time left to live, would you choose a different path than the one you are currently on?
        HUGS to you. You are awesome.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I think we are all just doing the best we can on this journey of life. We change, we adapt, we recognize we are wrong and we try and make it right… hopefully. It’s funny because you did say he seemed to be focused on me in that blog entry (and I recognize that in looking like he was focused on me, he was actually focused on what he wanted–not to lose me, I get it), and here I am saying he wasn’t focused enough on me. Every day is a roller coaster ride. BE is always trying to tell me what he thinks I want to hear, and he gets it wrong a lot of the time, and there lies my frustration (another post in the works on this). He’s working on it. Addiction is a selfish disease in that they don’t know how to deal with their pain, so they do selfish and destructive things, and are very much focused on themselves, despite what it may look like (I think Paula/Horsesrcumin keeps trying to say BS bloggers are basically doing the same, focused on ourselves… but I see it as part of my healing and I am hoping I am not hurting people, also I think there is a lack of serious discourse when it comes to sex addiction, a very real part of my life now). Manipulation and control become their calling cards, but they don’t even see it, which makes it all the scarier.

          To answer your question, right here, right now, in this minute, I would choose the same path I am on. Ask me in four hours and you may get a different answer, but, I am pretty aware of where I am at and what I am doing and how tenuous my situation is. I truly believe as my husband grows and learns and works the steps, and works things out with his therapist, he will be a better man and a better husband, and a better father, but most of all, he will finally be able to love himself. Thanks for the support. I think I have become quite attached to my blogger “friends.” 🙂 .

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          • Just to clarify, Kat. I haven’t had a lot of leeway to focus on myself in the past thirty years, so I still (wrongly, I know) feel guilt, when I know there is nothing to be guilty about, when I walk my own path. I agree entirely that blogging for me has been a part of the “healing” journey – which I also know is not a destinatiin, merely the journey – something I didn’t fully get my head around in the beginning. I thought healed would happen. And then the worst would be over. However, in my journey I now realise healING will and does happen, but healED will never. I gurss I joke about the self-centredness of blogging to cover my embarrassment at the unfamiliar me, me, me-ness of it :-).

            Liked by 1 person

            • I get you Paula. You know I have commented on how I think the blogging is part of our healing. It is all a journey. I like your healing vs. healed comment… the whole journey vs. destination thing.You get to decide what works for you. I am so happy that even though you are not posting on your blog as much, that you are still here helping us all. ❤

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