I am consciously realizing my path to healing, as the betrayed spouse of a sex addict, is the shorter one of the two of us. I instinctively knew it would be, but it is so obvious now. My life journey included a childhood that shaped me, we all have one, many times fraught with heartache, pain, abandonment issues, etc… I look back and consider mine pretty special, full of beauty, joy, contentment and love. I learned from the challenges and embraced the fun and laughter. I had a good time. I have great parents. I am a happy person by nature, and by nurture. I love my family.
In truth, I very quickly went from the safety and comfort of my family home, into the arms of Blue Eyes. It wasn’t planned, there was a smattering of short term relationships in between, but nothing special, no one special. My longing to be with Blue Eyes just happened. I fell for him, hard, despite myself. I didn’t need him, I wanted him. Less than nine months from the moment I entered my University dorm room, and after six solid months of being pursued by a silly, intelligent, outgoing boy, I was in a serious relationship with the man I would eventually marry. Our courtship had it’s ups and downs, there were periods of living apart by choice, each of us continuing a path we had set before we met. We married, had two sons, struggled with jobs and bills, for years. We started our own business. Blue Eyes worked a lot, and traveled a lot. Things were good. That’s the truth. I never fell out of love with my husband, he never fell out of love with me. We managed day to day life with a lot of laughter, some frustration, and a small handful of awkward moments with the boys, mostly revolving around normal parenting issues and expectations. The only sour note was Blue Eyes’ parents, well really his entire family. We were horrible at managing their expectations because, there is no managing the expectations of a family like that one. They were abusive, but neither of us really understood the enormity of it all until after d-day.
I struggled with Blue Eyes’ traveling over the years, but I am independent, and organized, and I was in a routine where things flowed smoothly while Blue Eyes was gone. I volunteered a lot at the boys’ schools. I remember that being important to me when I was a kid. My Mom mostly worked during my school years, so those times she volunteered in my classroom, or on field trips, were special, and stuck in my mind. I wanted my boys to know how important it was to me to be there for them, to participate in their lives, I wanted them to know how much they mattered to me. It felt like the right thing to do. The boys grew up, they are healthy and happy. I am lucky. For approximately the last 10 years, I have also worked for our company. I won’t deny it, it’s a chore, but over the years, my working, my sharing my talents, has been critical to the growth of our company… and to its success as a leader in our industry, an entity supporting families and supplying us the resources to put two children through expensive schools, to travel, and to build a dream beach house.
Before January 11, 2014, I was a happy person, a happy wife, a happy mother. I had never been depressed, I had never harmed myself. I had never cried more than a few tears of sadness. I had never gone to bed mad, I had never suffered so many sleepless nights, not even with two children. Even with the sadness, and agonizing pain of the betrayal, I was still a formidable opponent for the woman who called my mobile phone that cold January day. I did not speak back to her other than to tell her I had no idea who she was, nor did I know what she was talking about. I never called her back. I never contacted her in any way. I never validated her existence, especially not in my life. Her stalking and my trauma were horrifying. My trauma driven behavior was so foreign to me. I became agoraphobic and paranoid. I hardly left the house. I collapsed on the dirty floor of our local grocery store and couldn’t move. In desperation, I sliced open my arm requiring 16 stitches and a serious evaluation of my mental well being. Dissociation became my new best friend, but it all really had nothing to do with the other women, it had to do with the paralyzing fear that crippled me. The fear that I had married a monster, that I had been side swiped by evil, that I could no longer count on my best friend. That my life had been irreparably altered for the worse, and I couldn’t make sense of it.
But then, I learned how to focus on me first, then on my marriage. What I think of myself and how I treat myself is far more important than the actions of anyone else, even Blue Eyes. I still wonder how the man of my dreams, the father of my children, could block me out so that he could live a separate secret life and feed an addiction, but he did. He did it all and it will never go away, he can never take it back, and I can never change any of it. I still have rough patches. I have thought since d-day, and now I realize it to be true, I will never be fully healed. I expect that things will happen throughout the rest of my life that will open up the wounds that have just started to heal, but I would imagine they will heal back up again. I will carry on and I will thrive. I know that to be true.
Blue Eyes, on the other hand, is a different story. Blue Eyes and I have had a few conversations lately about how he is still letting the addict win. The way I look at it, not being able to live inside his head and all, but seeing the physical manifestations of what is going on in there, Blue Eyes is split in two. The good and the bad, if you will. I consider his addiction to be evil. It was nurtured out of the abomination of his childhood, the reality of having emotionally vacant and narcissistic parents. He didn’t have the loving nurturing childhood I had. He was abused verbally, physically, and sexually. He crawled inside himself thinking he was to blame for everything. He learned to self soothe, but more than that, he learned to lie and hide. He held inside all his anger, resentment, and feelings of inferiority. He became an addict and then he protected the addict with a mask. The more he lied, the more he hated himself. For our entire relationship, he has felt unworthy of my love, of the love bestowed on him by my family, and his own children. But he kept it all inside. Shame evolved and the more he wanted to be the guy that wore the mask of kindness, empathy, joy, love, peace and truth, the more the evil addict told him he wasn’t good enough, he wasn’t worthy, and that he needed his drug to survive.
I had one of my crazy dreams this morning after Blue Eyes left for his 12 step meeting. Blue Eyes purchased us these “UP” Band gizmos that keep track of our daily steps and heart rate, but they also keep track of our light, deep, and REM sleep. I can see exactly when I had that nightmare, I can see that little light blue box of REM sleep so vividly. It has been a while since I have had an ‘I can’t breathe, sweating, tears streaming down my face’ kind of nightmare. This dream was like most of my others in that not much of it made any sense. I mean our house wasn’t our house, the area of the city we were in didn’t look anything like anywhere I have ever been, but my husband was definitely in this dream. The dream was long and convoluted, but in the end, Blue Eyes and I were at an antique fair (something we have never done or even thought of doing) selling a clock for my father, so strange. The woman who was running the fair was nothing special, average height, average weight, dark hair, not particularly good looking and not Blue Eyes’ “normal” type of acting out partner, not vivacious. But yet, I could feel that creepy feeling that he had crossed the line with her. They were chatty and flirty, and when it was time to go, Blue Eyes refused to go with me. He said he was going with her. I started feeling sick, we walked out to the cars, and I was so confused. She and Blue Eyes got into a car that already had her husband in the driver seat. The seat was a bench style so they could all fit in the front. As soon as they were in the car, in full view of me, Blue Eyes started passionately kissing this woman, groping her breasts, practically climbing on top of her while the woman was staring right at me through the windshield. Her look said what I would imagine most other women think… “your husband wants me, not you.” I screamed to get Blue Eyes attention. I motioned him out of the car. He begrudgingly got out and came over to me. He asked what I wanted. I told him how awful he was and that normal people just did not act like him. He said I was wrong. I was crying and I screamed at him, “we don’t understand you, we have a normal life and why are you ruining it for us” and as I said “us”, I pointed to the man in the driver seat of my car… and it was Blue Eyes. But then I looked at the Blue Eyes standing in front of me, who stared at me with unkind, hurtful eyes. And then my mobile phone started vibrating (in real life) and it was my brother sending me a text message. I was awake, but in my head was that vivid image… two separate Blue Eyes, one my healthy loving partner, and the other, an evil addicted monster.
The drug is gone guys. Blue Eyes no longer acts out sexually, in any way, not even grooming the flower lady or being called “Sweetums” by the girl at the deli in our building. But, the evil addict is still there and now Blue Eyes doesn’t know what to do. He fights to stay conscious in his own life. He is angry and resentful sometimes, but he still doesn’t share. He still doesn’t acknowledge and deal with those negative emotions. Blue Eyes HATES putting away the dishes from the dishwasher. Do not ask me why. It is silly really. For months after d-day he gladly did all the chores as I was fairly incapacitated. He did not complain. Although his empathy towards me was low, he bent over backwards to “try and make it up to me.” Those days are somewhat gone. He still does a lot of the same chores, but anger and resentment have resurfaced. He hates having to do anything he doesn’t want to do. I am sure it goes back to his tyrannical narcissistic mother somehow, but I frankly do not care. When he had his drug, he would procrastinate on everything and feed his addiction with his drug. Things didn’t get done, until he’d had his drug. He spent weeks feeding his drug with porn, masturbation, sexting and emailing the OW, then meeting up for the sick secret drug induced sex. All that, fed him for months. His acting out went in waves, but his addiction was always there, waiting to partake in what should have been forbidden. Two days ago he put away the dishes from the dishwasher. The next day, I went to make dinner and as I was cooking on the stove, I reached into the drawer of wooden spoons and plastic spatulas without looking, because after all, there is nothing in there that could harm me, and yet, Blue Eyes had decided to put one of our knives in that drawer sharp edge facing out. I jabbed my hand right into that knife. WTF. So, he did not do it on purpose knowing I would cut myself. Nope. He was just an angry bastard while putting away the dishes and so just haphazardly put the knife there because it was easier than walking over and putting it in its proper (and safe) holder. Negligence caused by anger and resentment. Not malicious. His most common response when he breaks something or something he does harms someone else… “I didn’t mean to.” He doesn’t stop and think about what he is doing at the time he is doing it. No doubt in his mind he is rationalizing that he can do what he wants, put anything anywhere if he wants. What’s the big fucking deal. He doesn’t stop to think about cause and effect. He doesn’t think about consequences. This is a running theme and to me, it means he is checked out. He may not be in a sexual acting out space, but he is still letting the evil addict control him.
This morning Blue Eyes returned back home after his meetings to pick up some work he had left behind. He climbed in bed with me and I told him my dream. He seemed disinterested, which led to a rather ugly conversation about him staying present with me when I need him. He told me he is working his recovery and he “just wasn’t going to feel shameful anymore about what he has done.” Wow, there’s another big fat deflection for you. Blue Eyes still wants to make everything into a pity party. I explained to him that he should be able to understand why I still have pain sometimes and that he needs to, as a partner, stay present with me. This is not about his shame, but about my healing, all he has to do is stay present…. he doesn’t even have to own it. It’s my pain. I just want a loving partner to stay present with me. In my frustration, I told him about the knife in the drawer… he tried to blame it on our son even though he knew he had emptied the dishwasher. He doesn’t want to be called on his own negligence. The putting the knife in the drawer in the first place, and the trying to blame someone else, and the not being able to just plain recognize the error of his ways and realize how messed up he really still is so he can stop deluding himself into thinking he is anywhere near recovered, is pretty damn important.
The difference now, versus months ago when we had these same kinds of conversations, is that I don’t take all this shit personally anymore. I know his addiction and his acting out behaviors have nothing to do with me and it will take years to retrain his brain. There will now be a lot of choices made that shape which part of Blue Eyes soul wins out. In this battle of good versus evil Blue Eyes has the choice of which of those wolves he decides to feed. He holds the key to which Blue Eyes will win out in the end.
Photo credit: bicyclefriends.com/2012/08/star-wars-epic-battle-between-good-and.html