I spent about a half hour yesterday with a lovely young woman. She’s so young in fact that she is younger than my younger son. Her life experiences are minimal.
She knows about Blue Eyes and our situation. She knows he is a sex addict and she is so sweet and understanding and compassionate towards my pain. She asked me some questions, and I answered them.
What does sexual sobriety mean?
In the case of Blue Eyes, it means no giving in to his addictive thoughts. No masturbation or porn without me present. In other words, no secret sexual activity, especially with partners. Everything is fair game in a loving and nurturing environment with me. All else is off limits. Also, he works hard at not giving in to sexual desire and sexual triggers. He no longer grooms women. He no longer searches a crowd for hits. He no longer objectifies female body parts. Even one little slip, viewing provocative pictures for example, or flirting, can send him down that very slippery slope where thoughts become hits, and hits become actions. On December 11, he will receive his 2-year sobriety chip from SA. I know he feels good about the progress he has made. Those chips signify a lot to an addict. They represent success. A success they have heretofore not experienced in their life. Blue Eyes is breaking years and years of bad habits. It doesn’t give him the same high he received before, but I think it gives him a heightened sense of his own awareness and a feeling of comfort knowing he can control his own actions.
Do I worry that Blue Eyes will act out again sexually, give in to his addiction again in the future?
This is a tougher one. Do I know this could happen and often does with addicts? Yes. Do I think it will happen with Blue Eyes? I don’t know. Do I worry about it any more? No. I have learned to accept the fact that my life partner is a sex addict. This is a real disease with real symptoms, real actions, and real consequences. Living with an unrecovered addict, of any kind, is torture on everyone. I don’t plan to live my life that way.
And the questions just kept getting more difficult. What am I most afraid of now?
If I don’t live in fear of Blue Eyes acting out again, do I live in any kind of fear? Is there a chance I will still leave him even if he doesn’t act out? The truth is, I have developed a new fear over the past few months. As I have said many times, I married a sex addict and I was with him for 30+ years. I have no idea who this new guy is, or how he will act. His addiction balanced him out in a very dysfunctional way, but I saw stability. When he couldn’t handle things, he used his addiction to cope. He managed a lot of travel and a successful career, on the back of his sex addiction. What will become of him now? I hope he will be a more truthful and honest version of himself, but I am not convinced he is more open now. He still hides, but has abandoned the coping skills he once took for granted. He has 12 step now. Will this new person experience life in the same way? Will he be as passionate, as eccentric? He was kind before, at least on the surface, the mask he wore was charismatic and compassionate. Without the mask, will he allow himself to be truly vulnerable… will he be too vulnerable? Without the addiction, will he be able to hold up his end of the bargain, his end of the partnership? What is his end of the partnership? I took this all for granted, before.
And the second part to this puzzle… how have I changed? And have I changed too much? I feel different now. I am far less innocent and I am far more cautious. I don’t look at my husband with the same level of contentment and trust. I no longer have the same desires. Namely, the desire to make sure his life is comfortable, at the expense of my own needs and wants. Does this make me a better partner? Or one that expects too much?
I was able to answer her questions, but I was not able to answer my own, in the end. I guess time will tell.
On my drive out to take our fur kids to the ranch where they will hang out while we are in Japan for the next two weeks, Lee Ann Womack’s ‘I Hope You Dance’ came on the radio.
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.
At the wedding this past Friday night, I was visiting with my sister Sarah when my husband approached the table. She said, oooh, I think Blue Eyes is going to ask you to dance. He did, and I accepted. It was a beautiful slow dance song, and as I nuzzled up against my partner of nearly 32 years, I felt a level of peace I hadn’t felt in a while. Although he has shared intimacy with others, our relationship is special. He did not attend weddings or any event with the other women. He never danced with them. I absolutely want to believe our relationship is built of stronger stuff than what sent him to the doorstep of another woman. I know that wasn’t love. What we have cannot be torn down by a free whore in a hotel room in Tokyo. What I had was real. What we have is real.
After the slow dance, they played another, and we danced. Then Chubby Checker’s classic ‘The Twist’ played and we continued dancing. I do a mean twist and even with his arthritic hip (ha, I make him sound downright geriatric) Blue Eyes got pretty darn low. Of all the strange songs to play, the DJ then put on Tony Orlando and Dawn’s ‘Knock Three Times,’ and we exited, because who can dance to that song? Seriously. And who were they playing it for? I was barely in elementary school when the song was released. We walked off the dance floor to my little nieces cheering us on and saying, “hey, Aunt Kat, you can really dance.” I have the most amazing nieces and nephews, all 14 of them on my dad’s side.
Dancing was fun. Being with family was fun. Being with Blue Eyes was fun. Even though we have a lot of history, and years and years of joyful moments and happy memories, it takes everything I’ve got to not let the darkness in. I do work at it. I have come a long way. A year ago I might have crumbled under the pressure of being in a room celebrating a wedding (of all things) with my big, huge, happy family. I really do want to build fresh memories with this new version of Blue Eyes. I want our life to be whole again. I want to take this chance.
I don’t want to sit it out. I want to dance.
6 thoughts on “I hope you dance”
This is a tough one. I’m sure I’d feel exactly the same if I were in your shoes.
I have to say I think the masturbation issue is a curious one. I think many people who are part of a couple choose to do it alone, and I don’t think that’s unhealthy.
P.s. Do u know I have never danced in my life? I have no idea how and am terribly self conscious. I’m so clumsy.
I agree, many people in healthy relationships masturbate. BE is not healthy. He used masturbation to fuel his addiction. When he was traveling alone, he often stayed up all night doing it with no relief from his pain, and shame kicked in. Sex addiction is not about sex, but sexual acts are used to escape and to cope. Those behaviors need to be replaced with good new healthy ones. Each sex addict is different and defines his or her own sobriety. I always knew BE masturbated. I knew he did it at home even. I just never knew it was part of an unhealthy pattern of coping he had used since he was 10. For him, it is wrapped in shame and sickness. BE is basically having to re-train his brain to understand healthy sexuality. Maybe some day he will change his sobriety rules. At this point, it’s still too early.
I cannot believe you don’t dance. In college there were some weeks we went dancing every night. Did you dance at your wedding? BE is clumsy too, but he still enjoys it! I’m not going to suggest we go dancing in New Orleans… I don’t want to scare you off!!! 💃🏻
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Man. You sure can tug at those heart strings, Kat! I LOVE (love, love, love) the bittersweet conversation you had with the young woman…. so hard, but so real… How can you possibly explain/illustrate/articulate/paint the picture for this generation, all hopeful, but not stupid? I remember being that girl, having similar (not sex addict – I think that was called something else back in the day, joking, of course, lol!) conversations with women who were friends of my mother’s – or mothers of my friends! Dance like no one is watching (go BE, who cares whether it’s good or two left feet? I see you learned this since college 😉 He obviously enjoys it) I just want the luxury of loving like I’ve never been hurt. (Not thinking that will ever be a possibility) but I still love to dance!
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Yay for dancing! This sweet girl is wise beyond her years. Her father is an alcoholic. We talked about how different people are when they are feeding their addiction versus sober. Some kids are forced to grow up too quickly. She did make me think though. Probably trying to channel her mum’s feelings. I guess at this point we will never have the luxury of loving like we’ve never been hurt. We’ll just have to love with a heart that knows pain. It is a much more guarded love, I believe. ♥️
Oh the fear of not knowing how strong our marriage will be or how it will work with the new version of The Player is ever-present as he recovers.
I like to believe that a couple of years out of full disclosure like you and Your husband I will want to create new memories. Right now I can’t see it. I hope to one day.
I bet you really can dance! It just seems like you would!
I hope you get to that place where you want to create new memories too. There are no guarantees. Living in this new reality is not so much fun right now. I hope it will be, one day.
I LOVE to dance. Blue Eyes has two left feet and no rhythm, but gosh, I love dancing with him anyway (don’t ask me about college though, I may have avoided him like the plague).
Sometimes I have these weird days strung together and I think I am just too hard on everyone, including myself. Day by day. Also, I am horrible the day before we leave and the day we return from travel. Everyone in my family knows this. :). I like being able to write stuff out here. It helps. ❤