It is really sinking in for me that I must focus on taking care of myself first, every day. I know it is so cliché, but it is also so true. I have spent a lot of years taking care of a lot of people and I often get advice here on this blog that I need to take care of myself. Because this blog is so much about my husband’s sex addiction, it appears as if it is the only thing I focus on, or think about, and well, that is not true. I could write about all kinds of things, but writing about the betrayal and the sex addiction has really helped me. Most likely even as I add posts about myself and other benign and possibly boring topics, I will probably always be, in some way, focused on dday, and all the lies and betrayal, and everything that happened after that horrifying phone call. As much as I know I am the type of person that could forgive and trust my husband again, and move on and maybe even feel like everything is okay, I did that already and I got screwed. Part of taking care of myself (and a bitter consequence of my husband’s betrayal) is that I will never be able to trust the way I did before. I did not know my husband was a cheating bastard, but I knew he had serious issues with his parents and minimal coping skills and he made, what I called at the time, mistakes based on immaturity. Nope. Didn’t know that “lack of maturity” was a real disease. Didn’t know that his seeming like a horrible liar was part of the ruse. Didn’t know that on his own, he was never going to mature. Now I know. Now I am healing. Now I know the truth, and I am prepared to take care of myself.
Blue Eyes is trying to be that person I thought he was, but honestly, he is still the same. Some things have been revealed and more promises have been made, but blindly trusting Blue Eyes at this point, would be emotional suicide for me. I have set up my boundaries with Blue Eyes and for the most part, he follows them. When he doesn’t, no doubt it is because it is so easy to fall back into old habits (bringing his laptop into our bedroom without permission, for example) and if it doesn’t happen to trigger me right away anymore, I often don’t notice his blunder either, at least for a while. Sometimes I do eventually notice and I ask him what he is doing, what he is working on on his laptop that is so important, more important than just spending time with me. In fact, I usually notice he has broken a rule because I am talking to him and he is completely distracted by whatever is so damn important on that computer screen. That is the trigger. The computer is more important than the real people sitting right in front of him. And, what he was doing on his computer was always more important than me and his sons. Whether it was work, or his sex addiction, he often put both work and acting out as his first priorities. I’m pretty sure he did this because he felt like, no matter what, we would still be there. If he didn’t work obsessively, surely his business would fall apart. If he didn’t feed his addiction, surely HE would fall apart. But, like a good wife, I would always be there, as long as I didn’t find out the truth. He knows I often blog at night (although blogging is by no means all I do in our room at night. I read, I watch TV, I sketch) and I think he figures he can be with me in the same room on his laptop. Well, yeah, that might be okay except I never did any weird shit on my laptop. I never put in a Craig’s List ad soliciting a woman to “hug and hold me” because I was lonely. I never had an extramarital relationship with someone and then read his “sexy” emails right in front of my family and planned hookups with that person on my laptop, right in front of my spouse. So, no, it is not the same, Blue Eyes. We will never be the same.
Blue Eyes spent so much time thinking about and doing the destructive things that would destroy even the strongest of relationships, and now it is my turn to ask for the behavior that will help me feel safe. If it wasn’t for his actions, I wouldn’t be in trauma and we wouldn’t be pondering separation. My husband has done all the things a sex addict can do for the best chance at recovery, 12 step (including no contact with any acting out partners), no social media, procuring a sponsor, establishing a circle of safe guys to call, etc… and he mostly didn’t work at all last year while he responded to my trauma and absorbed the truth about himself and “threw” himself into recovery. But, I think he is just now actually realizing that he is ready to recover and why he is ready to recover. Not “acting out” is by no means the only concern for his sobriety. The acting out was one of the symptoms of his addiction, not the cause of his problems. I asked him why he thought guys in his group still struggled with sobriety even though it appears they are doing everything right. I also asked him why he thought he was doing okay with his sobriety (if indeed he is doing okay… with a sex addict adept at lying and hiding, you honestly never know). I have my opinions, but I wanted to hear his. He is the one that actually knows these guys and listens to their stories every week. He said he thought some of the guys struggle because they have not been able to get to what caused their addiction, to really figure out where the anger and resentment is coming from, so they still harbor it and it drives their thoughts and actions. I asked how many of the guys came clean on their own, because they wanted to live an honest life and they wanted to be free of this demon inside? He said none. I asked him how many had been found out by the wife… the wife had found something on the computer, or the cell phone or whatever. He said a few. I asked how many had received a phone call like I had. He said quite a few. I asked him, for the guys who were acting out with a partner (a mistress, a prostitute, whatever) how many guys had already ended the relationship when they were found out. He said, “none that he knew of.” So, actually, I know for a fact that some of these guys actually continued their acting out behaviors after their cheating was found out. After they were diagnosed as sex addicts, some of the guys pretended to be sober and pretended to be working the steps and pretended to be in recovery when in fact, they were still acting out and hiding it, hiding it better than ever. From what I have heard, and read, this is common with cheaters in general, and sex addicts in particular. Stopping all communication with the affair partner (or acting out partner) is really the first thing the addict must do (for themselves, not necessarily for anyone else—even the wife) in order to be in recovery. No emails, no letters, no phone calls, no texts, no contact whatsoever. A lot of people rationalize closure letters, or no contact letters, or whatever. But we were counseled that even those actions could be construed as continuing the relationship in the affair partner’s mind. It makes sense. These guys have been lying to everyone all along. Why wouldn’t the affair partner think that their lover is just saying what the wife wants them to say because they were found out. That it is all a ruse orchestrated by the system, but really, the affair partner may still rationalize their importance and every piece of communication, regardless of what it says, continues the interaction.
After Blue Eyes had talked about why he thought guys still struggled with sobriety even after committing to recovery, I had to put in my two cents. I find that since Blue Eyes has started opening up, I am now having trouble getting a word in edgewise. This is a good thing. If Blue Eyes wants to talk, I want to let him. But I did have an opinion about recovery and I had to be really really patient. We had just had a chat the day before about my dieting woes and how I went to a nutritionist years ago and she said that after talking with me for 30 minutes, she didn’t think I was ready to take my health seriously. I was so pissed at her, but instead of proving her wrong, I proved her right. I didn’t take care of my diet and exercise like I should have and just went about doing things the way I always had. I wasn’t ready to change my bad habits. I hadn’t made the commitment and I would use any excuse not to do what I knew I needed to do, for myself. I feel like these addicts are the same. I know it is much more difficult to acknowledge that you are an addict and that you have hurt people with your depraved actions, but I still think, no matter what, we really have to want to and be ready to change or we are destined to repeat the same bad behaviors. There are guys in Blue Eyes’ 12 step group that struggle still, every day, with their sobriety. I think if they were found out when they were in the middle of a cycle and they had no intention of ending the relationship with the affair partner before being found out, they probably will have a really difficult time doing it just because they have been exposed, or someone else wants them to change. It is clear that cheaters are able to block out their partners when they are cheating. They say they often don’t even think about us. We’re never going to find out. If they are not ready to really recover, then I can see them continuing to hide their behavior still believing they will continue to be able to get away with it, even though the truth has been revealed. Betrayed spouses are often desperate to believe that their partner is changing/has changed. Has acknowledged the error of their ways. Wants to be a better person. But, actually being that better person is incredibly difficult. If Blue Eyes is truly embracing recovery, I believe it is because he had already determined that he was done with his last acting out partner. He was determined to not let it happen with her again and he had started taking steps to be rid of Camilla for good. He did not answer her phone calls that day. He did not give in to her and feed his addiction. Not that day or any day since. I totally believe him. He was opening up to his therapist, a little, he was reading books about co-dependency and childhood wounds and he desperately wanted to stop the destructive behavior. When he was diagnosed as a sex addict, he did not deny or run the other way, he cried with relief. He wanted to believe there was hope. Blue Eyes definitely has triggers and has to be really diligent about redirecting his thoughts, re-training his brain. He has recently started to open up about how difficult it still is (and about how horrifying it was for him to keep all his lies and secret life going), hallelujah, I’ve only been waiting for this for 15 months!
Last week’s couples session did provide a breakthrough. Blue Eyes did have another appointment with his individual counselor, and they talked about Blue Eyes needing to be able to open up with me, for the coupleship, in private, and not feel the overwhelming fear that I will want to leave if he is honest about himself (HELLO, WAKE UP, I ALREADY KNOW HOW FUCKED UP YOU ARE… THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN SAY NOW THAT WILL MAKE ME BELIEVE YOU ARE MORE FUCKED UP THAN I ALREADY THINK YOU ARE… UNLESS YOU KILLED SOMEONE, SO JUST OPEN UP ALREADY). He also needs to be able to talk about himself without feeling shame. He knows I don’t shame him. Only he can feel shameful for his behaviors. I want him to be honest with himself about what he has done, what he was feeling at the time, what led up to those feelings, so he doesn’t ever give in to his addiction again. I do not want him to feel shameful. Frankly, I have never felt shame and I think shame is a big, fat waste of time, but you know, I am not an addict. I think I have said that a few times.
This past Thursday afternoon, we were supposed to be finishing up the house for the appraisal Friday morning. I was starting to get a little stressed out by everything we had committed to, but Blue Eyes had a therapy session Thursday afternoon, and he desperately needed to share with me. He was really proud of himself for feeling ready to open up. Again, if Blue Eyes wants to share, I will drop everything. We talked and talked for hours. At one point, Blue Eyes sat on the floor in front of me, with tears in his eyes, and he talked about how, during one of their last encounters, when Camilla was riding him (ugh, I know), he looked up at her and he said he saw the devil there on top of him, the personification of evil. But the truth is, he created her. He created that devil. He felt at that time that there was no hope. That he hated who he was and what he was doing but he didn’t know how to stop it. In the beginning, I probably would have cried along with Blue Eyes as he shared these intimate truths about himself and his addiction. But Thursday, I just listened. I was grateful for him opening up, really really grateful, I have been asking for this for months, how could I not be grateful, but I can distance myself now from his pain and from his path. This is a journey he must take by himself. I wanted to see IF he could do it, if he could open up and be honest and truthful with me about his addiction. In my mind, this is the first step. I wanted him to talk to me like I am a real friend, not just someone he should hide the truth from because I am the person who can take his security blanket away from him at any moment. He needs to step away from Blue Eyes, the child, and embrace Blue Eyes the man, the recovering addict. I want to share this life journey with him, but I cannot share HIS path. We will walk our paths, side by side. He must carve his way himself. He needs to realize that in the end, he really only answers to himself.