I’m going to give myself closure on the discussion of Blue Eyes’ fifth step. It’s time to put the whole thing to bed.
As I was nearly done with my blog entry late yesterday afternoon, Blue Eyes returned from his sponsor’s house. There was no text when he left the guy’s house. Leaving texts or calling me throughout the day has become Blue Eyes’ way of connecting and letting me know he is thinking about me or that he is doing well, or not. There was no, “hey, I’m wiped, I’ll see you in a bit.” There was no, “wow I am so glad that is over, should I bring us a treat and we can just stuff our faces with junk food and lie about like sloths because this shit is hard.” Nope, nothing. He just sort of slipped into the house, quietly, unobtrusively, as if nothing of significance had happened this day. I was in a rough place and I honestly expected Blue Eyes to walk in and collapse, or ask for an hour to unwind. I expected his eyes to be red rimmed and wet. I expected him to be slouched and in pain and trying to shake off the overwhelming stress of it all. I expected him to desperately want a nap, but I was wrong. Blue Eyes entered my office and he looked just fine, not relieved, but like nothing interesting had happened today, until he saw me and the state I was in. At that point I could see him physically and emotionally distancing himself. After a minute, he took in a deep breath and then knelt in front of me. He asked how I was doing and if there was anything he could do. The thoughts in my mind went a little something like this:
What can you do for me? What happened to your fifth step? What happened to you coming home and us going out to dinner to unwind from the torment of what you had to go through this afternoon. What happened to this being an emotionally draining and enlightening experience for you. What happened to sharing your inner most thoughts and feelings with the person that is supposedly so important to you that you just cannot wait to share the euphoria, or anxiety, or relief, or whatever. Where is the man I was expecting to see?
Instead, he made some lame attempts at running through the process with me, which I already know from the literature he has shared. For some reason he wanted me to know the fact that his group friend had to leave early, but he finished up with The Sponsor. He said nothing about his feelings. It has become obvious to me that part of my being uncomfortable with these fourth and fifth steps comes from the fact that Blue Eyes never actually did something that I believe is really important to both the sex addict, and the betrayed wife. He never did a formal disclosure to me in front of therapists and then followed it up with a lie detector test. This is quite common for sex addict recovery and something that I think would have helped both of us. I crave structure and order and process. I believe I needed that formal disclosure and because I did not get it, there are things being shared with his 12 step “brothers” that I have never heard. How unfair is that to me? Answer: really unfair, and humiliating, and de-humanizing, and evasive and well, all kinds of bad, for me. Probably a big relief and much easier for Blue Eyes… I mean who really wants to take a lie detector test, right? It probably makes you feel like a criminal? Um hmmm.
I decided I needed time to myself as he had clearly shut completely down and was not in a position to share in any significant or useful way. I was exasperated by the entire thing and I sat at my desk to finish my blog entry. About 30 minutes later, I heard a car horn going off non-stop, and I looked out my home office window to what looked like a car on fire on the busy street below. We live on a hillside about three miles from downtown with a busy street and a freeway below us. I could actually do a traffic report of a heavily traveled area just by looking out my office window, which sits high above the roadway. News and traffic helicopters regularly circle our house, which was a very creepy feeling when we first moved here. I went outside to our deck to try and get a better look at the burning vehicle. It was difficult to make out anything as the trees are so full right now, but I could hear fire engines and police cars arriving on the scene. There were lots of flames and dark, dark smoke and popping sounds. It sounded horrible. I still don’t know what actually happened, but Blue Eyes joined me out on the deck. When the smell of burning car became too overpowering, we went back into the house. I told him about the spicy ahi poke and I showed him the tea pot, tea cups, and tea I had purchased for him to take to work with him. Part of Blue Eyes’ new ritual includes burning incense, drinking Chinese tea brewed in an iron pot (he has really done this since he lived in Japan, but not so regularly), and practicing mindfulness. He seemed very happy with my little gifts. I was beginning to realize the fifth step was not going to be providing an emotional connection for the two of us. Later, Blue Eyes tried to revisit the fifth step conversation. I understand he needed time to metabolize what he had been through, it just feels incredibly destructive for him not to be able to share with me his thoughts and feelings around something so powerful. Eventually he was able to talk about how sharing his fifth step was more difficult than he thought it would be, but not for the reasons he thought.
Just as I suspected, the guys he was sharing with spent some time talking about themselves and their own situations. I am a complete outsider in this, but spilling your guts about what you have done and the consequences to the people you have wronged seems pretty taxing in and of itself. When Blue Eyes finally decided to open up to me, about three hours after returning home, he explained how The Sponsor had talked about his own fourth and fifth steps and how even now, nine years post d-day (nine years post the second and “real” d-day, part of his sordid story is here: She walked this path) he feels like he may have permanently damaged his children. As Blue Eyes is reiterating the words of The Sponsor, he is crying and he is thinking about himself and how he has potentially forever damaged our children. Well, this may be true (and it does break my heart even typing this), but we are all responsible for ourselves. We provided those children with an amazing childhood. I was always there for them and never ever ever neglected them or verbally abused them or took them for granted or left their needs untended. NEVER!!!! Blue Eyes was gone a lot on “business.” I knew no different and they knew no different. What they are dealing with now is the trauma response from knowing they were lied to by someone who should have been honest and truthful to them, but they are adults. Just like me, their responses and their recovery from this is on them. What Blue Eyes needs to do now is move forward with his life in the best way possible. I wanted to get in the car and drive to his sponsor’s house and slap him across the face–knock some fucking sense into the guy. OMG. If they could just climb out of their own asses for five seconds, fuck!!!! Also, it was not lost on me how there was absolutely no conversation about how much damage they had done to their wives. The friend’s child was actually born after he was diagnosed as a sex addict. The sponsor’s children are way older than ours and have children of their own. The tragedy is what the wives go through every day knowing their best friend stabbed them in the back.
I explained to him that for me to feel safe and for me to know that our marriage is worthwhile, I need him to be present in our relationship. I need him to be able to be honest and open about his actions and his emotions. That I would rather be alone than living with someone who hides inside himself, and thinks that is the better way to go. His taking the easier path for himself is hurting both of us. That I would rather be with someone who yells at me than someone who hides from me. When he was fired from a job many years ago, he didn’t tell me for days, but his parents knew and they belittled and disrespected and blamed him. When he couldn’t cope with life, he didn’t tell me at all, he went looking for women who would have sex with him. When he remembered his failed one night stand, the fourth acting out partner all those years ago, he shared it with his therapist, not me. I know he thought I would be scared when he lost his job and he couldn’t face not being the perfect husband, father, breadwinner, person, but I do not judge that way. His thinking was flawed. I now know about all his acting out behaviors and his addiction and his brokenness and I have not left him. I am still here by his side, day after day. Again, his thinking was flawed. Even when I found out he had been keeping secrets from me during his period of disclosure, even after I told him it was like daggers to my heart and I needed the truth, still he held back. Somehow he thought his protecting his secrets was protecting him, but in fact it is just protecting the addiction, the demon inside.
I explained to him, in my opinion, as long as he is still shaming himself for the actions of his past, he is not learning from them and growing from them, and reshaping his life in the present. I do not believe in shame, but I do believe in learning and growing from your mistakes. He may have rationalized with flawed excuses before, but trying to do that now, is going to get him exactly what he doesn’t want, loneliness.
I was not hysterical, or sad, or wounded, or angry when I explained to him last night that If he cannot share himself with me on a deep emotional level, I know he is not really working his recovery. I know he is still hiding behind the addiction in order to protect the demon. I deserve truth from my partner. I deserve someone as open and honest as I am. I believe he is working towards being this person. I really do, and when I don’t, I will be gone.
* * * *
To finish this all off on a happier note, Blue Eyes thanked me for once again being honest and open with him about my feelings and my needs. Most days I think he is grateful for my never-ending advice, most days. He knows he has a long way to go. We watched some funny television on Netflix, and shared the most amazing midnight snack of juicy strawberries with salted caramel chocolate sauce, and fresh peaches with whipped cream. We stuffed our faces and laughed, because that is what our relationship is mostly about, laughing, enjoying amazing food, and loving each other. It burns inside to know that this amazing life we live was not enough to wipe away the demons of his childhood, but I know we have a chance at happily ever after, and I am taking that chance.