What happens when they break the rules

ac beach

Life has been moving right along, no real problems, no real worries. We finally closed financing on our beach house. We broke ground and took a quick drive over to the property to watch the first anchors and pilings going in for the foundation.

A round trip drive to the coast means a little less than three hours in the car. We left after Blue Eyes’ therapy appointment. During the first part of the drive, Blue Eyes was talking about the latest assignment given to him by The Shrink. He is supposed to think back over the years, from childhood forward, about his illnesses, how they made him feel and also who he blamed for being sick. What a strange assignment in my opinion. I realize it was a loaded question, but I asked Blue Eyes whether he blamed anyone for his illnesses. His first and immediate response was “yes, I blame my parents for bringing me up in such an unhealthy environment.” And my response was, “really? REALLY? I mean sure, NOW at 50+ years old you are aware that you were brought up by shitty parents in a narcissistic and abusive household. You now know that you were incredibly vulnerable to being treated like crap and constantly belittled and you never felt good enough, nothing you did was ever going to please those people, but what good is asking you to verbalize who you blame now that you realize you were irreparably damaged by a couple of horrible people. When you were a child, and you were sick and cramping and constantly in the bathroom vomiting up blood, did you think, gee I have stress induced immune deficiency illnesses because I have shitty parents? When you were bedridden in college due to severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, even as your mother was calling and harassing you and telling you how horrible I was, did you blame her for your being sick? I think not. Because if you did realize how horrible your parents were, why would you stay in contact with them? When you were done with Law School and out from under their financial fist, why not put proper distance between yourself and the hate?”

I could tell I was losing it. I was choking back those familiar tears. I want my husband to stay in the present. I want him to live squarely in his current predicament. I want him to continue to take responsibility for who he is right now and what he is doing to repair his life. I also am not someone who lives in the past. I want to move forward. I said to him, “if you knew your parents were so awful, why did you talk so much about how loving and caring and close your family is? Why did you convince me to visit them? Why when they were so horribly mean to me, didn’t you help protect me?” Tears rolled down my face in the car as I realized once again just how confused I was. I did nothing wrong and yet these people were monsters. It made me question myself. As a 21 year old, I questioned how these wealthy successful adults could make me out to be the bad guy. Even I didn’t understand at the time fully what they were doing and why. From day one, they tried to break down who I was. They tried to change my reality and make me feel bad about myself. I spent years fighting off their evil. I spent years trying to defend my family. If Blue Eyes knew they were horrible and blamed them for his illnesses, why would he expose other innocent people to them. The answer, he wouldn’t. He didn’t know what had been perpetrated on him. He was a victim too.

But now, Blue Eyes is the perpetrator. Not just now, but for the past 30 years. I want him to stay present. Of course I am not a psychologist, but I am Blue Eyes’ partner and I know what I require to try and build back what I thought I had, a loving, honest and mindful marriage. As we were driving home, Blue Eyes was talking about the upcoming retreat he is planning with his sales team. The retreat will be presided over by an ordained dharma teacher, a disciple of Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. This dharma teacher is a man Blue Eyes met at his last mindfulness retreat. It was spiritual love at first sight, or more accurately, Blue Eyes fell in love with what the teacher was saying. His words resonated. At the time, the teacher asked Blue Eyes what had brought him to Buddhist meditation. Blue Eyes was vague and not ready to open up about his addiction. We talked about it at the time.

As we were driving home from the beach, I asked Blue Eyes if he had since confided to the teacher about his sex addiction. Without hesitation, Blue Eyes said he had. Although I am happy that Blue Eyes was completely honest in his response, I am sad that he has so quickly forgotten the boundaries we have set up for me, for my feelings of safety. For Pete’s sake, Blue Eyes is reading the guy’s book right now and it is all about growing mindful relationships. It is a “rule” if you will, that Blue Eyes will not divulge his addiction to anyone outside his 12 step group without discussing it with me first. What Blue Eyes has done, who he is, affects me and my life. The last time he shared without thinking about me, without thinking about the consequences to me and without thinking about my wishes, was a few months ago and documented in this entry: Sex IS optional, part two.

What happens when Blue Eyes breaks the rules? He breaks my heart, again. When he completely forgets about me and my needs, he perpetrates the trauma, all over again. He makes me feel useless, not worth thinking about, not worth respecting. My needs are unimportant. Blue Eyes was looking for validation from the teacher, validation that his seeking out Buddhist practices of mindfulness and meditation was something worth congratulating him for. He wanted the teacher to say “good boy, Blue Eyes.” The truth is, his seeking Buddhist meditation as a form of connecting with his inner spirituality IS a good thing… I have written about it numerous times on this blog, I believe in it. But, his asking for validation for what he is doing is not a good thing. It is part of his old way of thinking and behaving. In the process of seeking selfish validation for himself, he ignored me and my needs. He may as well have been across town having sex with a free whore. I know to some that sounds harsh and unreasonable, but to me, it feels the same. It was never about the sex, it was about being completely self absorbed and doing anything he wanted to validate himself and his broken ways of thinking and behaving.

I realize healing from betrayal and recovering from sex addiction take a long time, and we are all incredibly fallible, but those realizations do not negate the fact that his breaking the rules really hurts. His forgetting about my feelings, needs, wants, wishes, boundaries, it really, really hurts.

26 thoughts on “What happens when they break the rules

  1. Do you know what I wish? I wish we as women would not allow the men in our lives to be able to hurt us like they do. I wish we able to look at men like very separate but lovely creates. I wish we could look at them and not have expectations on them (so that we dont get hurt when they dissapoint us–which they all seem too do, and then we take it very hard), and that the lovely things they do would just be bonuses for our lives. Love shouldnt be painful, so why does it often feel like this?
    I know you love BE terribly. You wouldnt be with him now if you didn’t. I love the way the two of you are trying to work things out, and I desperately hope that one day the pain can be put behind you. You are such a wonderful person, and you deserve to wake up every day with a smile on your face.
    We women are the most awesome people. We love till it hurts, but I wish it didn’t always hurt. I have your back my friend, and I am rooting for you… always!

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    • Thanks, C. I agree. We ARE awesome! I wish nothing he did hurt. I wish I didn’t care and the thing is, before d-day, he never really did much that hurt me. He would do little insensitive things every once in a while, but it was no big deal… the scales were more balanced back then. The good, fun, loving parts of our relationship far outweighed his little missteps. I mean in the reality I was living in they were. I could count on one hand the times I cried because of something he did and most of those were before we were married. We honestly had a very loving, functioning marriage. His addiction made it so. Other than the obvious hindsight of flirting and serious lack of coping with his parents, I thought he was good, and honest, and loyal, and a lot of other things he still is. But those things he isn’t any more, they break my heart. My heart is definitely the vulnerable part. I still love him to pieces, but I think you are correct… I am allowing his actions, which are not intentional but that is part of the problem, to hurt me and keep me down. I need to do better at managing myself and my own trauma. I need to let that dysfunctional part of me heal. It is taking much longer than I would have thought. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people rooting for me. Thank you! ❤

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  2. Dredging up the past to make excuses for present behavior, is the whole reason I am reluctant to seek therapy, either individually or with my husband. We all have issues, we all have past experiences both good and bad that shape who we are today. But, as adults, we know that and we have the power to make the right choices in spite of it, and accept responsibility for our bad choices and behaviors without making excuses. You are very wise, and very strong, Kat. He has made a misstep in the healing process, but sometimes the process is a “one step forward, two steps back” kind of thing. Share with him how you feel, and keep giving him a chance. It really does sound like he is trying, and making a lot of overall progress. Many hugs to you…

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    • There is some value in understanding how your past affects present behavior, but in my opinion it is only helpful to a point. I did it, I went back there into my own childhood, in trauma therapy, to help me understand my own behavior as a result of my husband’s actions. The betrayal, the lies, the infidelity, the gas lighting, the trying to understand how my story had been ripped from me and why I was dissociating and self harming. It was all so overwhelming. The truth is, my childhood and young adulthood prepared me to be the consummate caregiver, the nurturer, the believer. I believe in the human spirit. I believe in the good in people. When I was knocked on my ass by my husband’s secret life, I was devastated. My reality was shattered into a million pieces. I am still putting it back together, but in the mean time, my husband has a long way to go and the truth is, even as an adult, he still struggles with understanding he does have complete control over his behavior. It is very much a rocky road with many detours. I used to talk more and then I got tired. I hate closing in on myself. I did share with him how I feel, but I am so worn out from always having to explain to him what he should be able to understand. He needs to think before he acts. There are consequences for his actions. He is trying and he is making progress. His missteps still hurt. Thank you so much for the hugs. I hope you are well. ❤

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  3. Kat,

    I certainly hope you do NOT feel shame for anything to do with any of this, including the choice to marry someone with issues with his parents. My goodness, mother-in-law woes have been a tale through the centuries. I think we go in hoping that things will smooth out with time, once MIL sees how much we love their son and are contributing to bettering the life of their son as a loving and committed partner. Perhaps, we think that because that is what we would want for our own children. It is hard to understand such selfish thinking from a Mother, caring more about losing control over her son than about her son being happy – it is just not how we think, why would we?

    At some point through the years, I started feeling like I was Mindless’s human shield with his Mom. Kat, I wonder if you and I had similar MIL issues and felt too much like we were being thrown into the lion’s cage by the same person who was supposed to be your loving life partner. In a way, it is another aspect of the betrayal and it hurts, A LOT!

    Is BE in contact with his Mom now? Or has he gone silent? We’ve never had a lot of contact with his folks. When we do, I will say that since d-day, MC stands-up to his Mom, he shows love and affection toward me in her presence, he gives me compliments in front her and he does not let her guilt or temper tantrum her way into controlling everything and everyone, he stands his ground. I find this reassuring, because I do often think that there is a direct relationship between the cowardice in standing up to his Mom for all those years and the shit he put us through.

    On the Buddhist meditation teacher, I so understand why you feel BE should have told you before telling his teacher, discussed it with you. What does he say about that? Just want to give you a hug on all of this!

    The one thing, however, I will agree with B is that this exercise sounds a lot like CBT, which is a central component of our treatment model. I’ve seen how Mindless is pulling the weeds out by their roots using this method and its been exceptionally important component of his treatment, and mine frankly. “Blaming,” however is not the right word to be using. At least, it wouldn’t be for MC because understanding and blaming are not the same thing and blaming sounds just too much like self-pity, which is a very dangerous road to go down. Just some thoughts from someone approaching this from the CBT side of things.

    ((((Kat))))!

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    • Hi TL! I don’t feel shame. I have written about that emotion quite a bit. It is so destructive. I have a bunch of other destructive emotions, but not that one. I really do love myself. 🙂

      I never had the illusion that my MIL would ever accept me. Sad, I know. I didn’t care, but that is part of my personality. People ask, “Kat, what did your parents think when you told them you were converting to Judaism?” and I say, “I never told them, I just did it. This is my life, not theirs.” I have always been incredibly independent… they raised me that way. BE is the polar opposite. I loved BE and that was all that mattered. Honestly, if his parents knew about his behavior, they would blame me. They would say “there is no such thing as sex addiction, it was because I wasn’t a good enough wife, or that I am too fat, or I don’t do enough with my hair or wear enough make-up. Surely I am frigid.” Some of these are actually things they made up about the three wives of BE’s brother, once he was divorcing them/or vice versa. It was always about the wives, never about their sons. No question about it, I am not delusional, BE parents are horrible people and I have always known it, but they were his parents. It was my job to get along. Get along with everyone. All that mattered to me was that I really truly cared about BE and I loved being with him and I believed he would never hurt me. I believed I had found the person I could trust with my life. That aspect of “being thrown into the lion’s den” is a lingering part of the trauma. I didn’t realize how much being that human shield hurt me, what a toll it took on me until about four months post d-day. Then it hit me, almost as hard as d-day hit. Another form of betrayal, you’re absolutely correct. I thought we were in it together, even though in the end I was the only one fighting the battle. It did hurt and it does hurt a lot.

      BE has no contact with anyone in his family. Even if he did, and he did stand up and act like a man, his mother would continue digging and digging and digging into him, forever. I am not sure BE will ever be strong enough to be in the same room with his parents again. He understands now the affect they have on him. He has a long way to go in his healing. He still feels shame and fear every day. BE’s parents are extremely aggressive and abusive to this day. Their email to him last February (2014) was the final straw. They told him they were so disappointed in him as a son, that they would take his name away from him if they could. They know nothing of his struggles. He is a good son who catered to their petty wants for 50 years. He is a successful owner of his own company employing numerous families. He has been married for 26 years (with me, continuously for 31 years) with two happy healthy adult sons, and yet, they have no problem telling him they are so disappointed in him. They are merely disappointed when he doesn’t act like their puppet. It is a sad state of affairs and I believe BE has resolved himself to the fact that he will never see his parents again. Every once in a while they email all of us, but BE summarily deletes any correspondence without reading. Most of the emails are his father telling BE about people that have died and his mother acting like nothing is wrong. She recreates history regularly. Enough is enough.

      Regarding the disclosure to the dharma teacher, BE feels horrible. It is all so painful and frustrating to me because he just doesn’t think. He doesn’t think before he acts. He still doesn’t understand cause and effect. He doesn’t think about consequences. He does what feels good to him at the moment, especially if he gets a pat on the back. He has a long way to go… and I am impatient when it comes to my own pain. I want to be able to control it, but control has been my own nemesis for a long time. I need to be honest about how he makes me feel. He needs to own it. Work in progress…

      If you see the comment I wrote to B below about BE’s treatment, you will see how I feel about continuing to pull out the weeds. If there are weeds to be pulled, sure, but let’s not plant weeds where there are none. The truth, as I see it, is BE doesn’t blame anyone except himself for his illnesses. He was unable to cope and that created stress. I have known him for 31 years and watched him go through dozens of surgeries and hospitalizations. I watched him chastise himself for the inflamed intestines, and the chronic pain. The stress-induced nature of his illness means he needs to get a grip on his stress. Going back actually causes him stress. He has not only been pulling weeds, but he has dug his way to China and back on this whole FOO, childhood wounds thing for the past five years, even before d-day. I realize I do not suffer the same blight (to keep the garden metaphors going) as BE, however, I also do think BE needs to stay present in his recovery and not continue to deflect back into the past. This would be my issue, I spend my life trying to stay firmly planted in my present reality… BE seems to live in some self absorbed/self deprecating sick fantasy land that does not allow him to make good, honest, healthy choices. If going backwards in time helps him to understand the present, so be it, but someone needs to be creating that link, explaining the cause and effect so there is some connection to his present recovery. I don’t see it happening.

      Thanks again, TL for talking this out with me. I totally appreciate all the comments I get here and I do take them to heart and think about them, a lot. Thanks so much for the hugs. ❤

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  4. Thats a beautiful piece of earth Kat!! What a stunning beach. The sad reality is that selfish behaviour becomes ingrained, selfish choices become second nature, along with working his steps BE needs to remind himself constantly of the commitments he remade to you, not just the ones he made to himself. x

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    • We love our beach! The day after a big U.S. holiday and there was one guy on the beach flying a kite. One guy!!! We can’t wait for the tranquility.

      BE does indeed need to keep reminding himself because my having to remind him is really taking it’s toll. ❤

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  5. Have you ever considered whether you feel shame for not being “smart enough” to recognize his emotional issues and/or the sickness of his parents before it was too late to turn back? That you were somehow not smart enough to see what was in front of you, and get out before it became a fundamental part of your own life story?

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    • This is an interesting one. I would not say shame is what I feel, as I do not feel like I am a lesser person for having chosen BE over and over, and I DID see the sickness of his parents, but I loved BE so much and didn’t think HE would ever hurt me. I saw the sickness in his parents so acutely, that my mother counseled me numerous times to write it all down, get it out of me, for years and years she kept saying I was going to explode. BE’s parents are very obvious and overt. They do not hide their behavior at all. They were incredibly mean to me. They are proud of themselves and congratulate themselves all the time for their generosity, their giving nature, how wonderful they are. They are delusional and narcissistic and everyone can see it. BE just never knew how much of a toll it took on him and he was so numb and living a double life caused him to really just try and keep the balls in the air and it must have been horribly stressful. I can only imagine, but I saw the truth about his parents the first weekend I met them. What I never understood was BE behavior. Why he didn’t stand up for himself, why he didn’t stand up for me. So yes, I guess I do feel quite stupid that I could not put two and two together and realize that his inability to deal with them, cope with them, surely ran deeper than what I could see.

      There are a few sensitive trigger points for me… things that bring the trauma right back to the forefront and those are, of course, BE acting out behaviors, the lying, the betrayal, thinking about how I wasn’t important enough for him to think about my needs. Also, thinking about the abuse I endured at the hands of his parents and how he allowed it to go on. He used me as a buffer and an excuse sometimes, that hurts like hell. There are a few others, but they are all my baggage. At this point I guess it is not only that I feel like I wasn’t smart enough, but that I was too forgiving, too understanding, too self effacing, too oblivious of what was really happening in my life. I spent all my time trying to keep everyone happy and now I realize, I was a complete failure with BE. The stronger part of me realizes there was nothing I could do, however, the nurturer in me feels like an idiot.

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  6. By the way I think the therapeutic approach you describe is classic CBT. Surface the issue, train yourself to deconstruct it, work consciously on it until (hopefully) you change your subconscious.

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    • I get it, however, BE has been dealing with his FOO issues since his brother committed suicide. More than five years ago, he started discussing his family issues with a therapist regularly. In 2013, the therapist recommended books on sex addiction (just from their discussions of BE’s masturbation habits, which I partially knew about) and co-dependency after discussions about his family. BE had planned to attend a seminar at The Meadows and then… the phone call. Since d-day, he has gone deep into every facet of his childhood and life to now, deconstructing absolutely everything numerous times with three separate therapists. The intensive therapy with Omar Minwalla was like ripping his insides out. He has been working on FOO issues specifically with this therapist since last summer. The therapist kept BE’s Bar Mitzvah photo album for weeks studying the photos and then came back and gave BE his opinions on the family dynamics just from the photos. Great, but how is that helping anything? Sure, it validates the fact that BE came from a really shitty family. They were abusive and he is now an addict. I have since learned in extensive conversations with BE’s over the past couple days that his therapist also suffered childhood illnesses that have crossed over into adulthood. He is particularly drawn to patients with stress induced illnesses. This is where I start to go, wait a minute. Blue Eyes is an addict and trying to recover. I know my husband… all this does is keep him mired in his past and mired in self pity. It validates his need to medicate himself. Maybe I am just impatient, but after all this time, I believe it is time to move on to the healing stage. No more digging. BE was not aware of what his parents were doing to him. Now he is. I want a present, competent, adult husband. If he wants to continue to go to the past to figure out his present, I’m probably not going to stick around much longer. Enough is enough already. If he wasn’t an addict who continues to harm me with his behavior, I would say fine, spend the rest of your life talking about your childhood, but while he is stuck in childhood, he is not living in adulthood.

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        • It indeed may be. I have always known this and spent the past 16 months myself preparing for just that scenario. We have that conversation sometimes. Not as a threat, but a reality. At any point in time, BE can also say I am pushing too hard… he cannot move that fast, and then we both have a decision to make.

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  7. I have absolute empathy for BE on the issue of blaming his parents for his illnesses, while not cutting them out. I had serious digestive disorders from childhood most certainly caused by my raging narcissist mother, and they did not resolve until several years after I cut off all communication with her (it’s now 19 years since we last spoke, she is still alive) and freed myself from her eternal judgment and abuse. Children of narcissists hold onto hope desparately, painfully, eternally, for their parents to show any sign of love or approval, the tiniest microscopic-sized crumbs, for much much too long, perhaps until death. If your own parents don’t love or approve of you, who the fuck would? So you go on playing mind games with yourself, even in the face of the most overwhelming evidence to the contrary, making yourself believe that all the ugly treatment is not proof of their lack of love, until a moment of truth when you recognize you will literally be destroyed unless you let it go. And if you are incredibly lucky, you gain the wisdom that they are the fucked up, defective, sick, evil people, not you. BUT even if you reach that promised land intellectually, the wish for their love and approval still lurks beneath the surface forever. Hopefully you gain the cognitive skills to manage them when they surface.

    If you haven’t experienced it you cannot possibly feel empathy for it, but you can certainly choose rachmanes, and accept that this is his truth, having absolutely nothing to do with you. ZERO.

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    • The issue though, B, is that his illnesses began at age 6. By 11 he had both the chronic colitis and the juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. There is no way a small child is blaming anyone. I totally understand him not cutting them out because he didn’t blame them. He had conjured a fantasy world in his mind (to protect himself and his feelings) that his parents were wonderful, his family was loving and kind and that is how he “sold” them to me for months before I met them. I know he didn’t know any different and it was all very self protective. I respect the fact that you have 19 years of freedom under your belt. BE, instead of gaining his freedom, continued feeding his secret addictive life and did not cut his parents out. Even after BE was diagnosed, he did not see how destructive they were. It took a while. I get it, he was abused. But at what point do we expect an adult to wake up and take responsibility for their own actions? To stop the cycle of abuse. I realize what you are saying about me not being able to truly have empathy for him and what happened to him, however, he is continuing to hurt me, and that does have everything to do with me. What happened to him is not an excuse for his continued behavior. Building back a broken marriage must be built on something, that is why we have rules and boundaries, for my safety and my sanity.

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      • I would have ended up dead or in jail if I had not cut her out. I was not capable of building high enough or thick enough walls to protect myself from her. And frankly, I saw no reason to try. The only positive thing I ever got from her was literally my life.

        I am sorry if my words sound judgemental, they are not meant to be! I am not walking in your shoes and don’t know what I would do in your circumstance. But I do think some people can never overcome the abuse of their parents no matter how strong their will.

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        • BE did end up coping, through his addiction. He never blamed his parents. He only blamed himself and all the blame was too much and required medication, self medication.

          Your words don’t sound judgmental at all. I get a lot from talking this out and I do not have the same baggage you guys have, so you are correct, I don’t completely understand. The big problem, however, is that I grew up the opposite as BE. I grew up learning how to take care of others and put others’ needs before my own. I learned cause and effect and how my actions have consequences. I didn’t rationalize anything. In many ways BE and I are a good pair, we balance each other out, or we did until he no longer had his sex addiction to cope. This is a rough journey and I am documenting here. It helps me. Saying how much what he does hurts me just sends BE back to a shameful place. I can talk it out here and if he reads it, hopefully he can put it all into perspective. We do talk a lot about all of this, but there is only so much he can absorb without imploding.

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    • He saw the error immediately, Bugs… as soon as I pointed it out, but not before. Before that, he was oblivious to what he had done and the boundaries he crossed and how he was hurting me. He needs to do better. I cannot just block out who I am and my trauma and my emotions because it is easier for him. Hugs.

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    • I agree, I am tired of carrying the load. Speaking of arrogant, I believe the stronger we are in our awareness of who we are and how what we do affects others, the less we need therapy. I got my therapy. My baggage is temporary and so was therapy. BE has a lot more baggage, I understand that, but now is the time to live in the present and act like a man. ❤

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