Watercolor Rainbow by Olga Shvartsur
Can you believe it? This is my 300th post here on Try Not to Cry on My Rainbow. Crazy. I’ll try and make it a good one.
While Blue Eyes and I were away on our spa hotel excursion, I received a call from Ms. Honey, one of the CSATs (Certified Sex Addiction Therapists) we visited early on. She had sent us on our “merry” way back then… Blue Eyes was busy at the time with the Quack, the supposedly recovered sex addict/sex addiction specialist in our area (read about the Quack here), and I was excited to start up the ‘spouses of sex addict support group’ with Ms. Second Chance (although she was on her first chance back then).
We had only been to two sessions with Ms. Honey and when she met me this past Tuesday in the lobby of the wellness center where she has her practice, I am not really sure if she actually remembered me right then. I was the only person in the waiting room at the time, though, so she didn’t actually need to remember me. She escorted me back to her office and although it was a rainy, dreary winter afternoon, her office is at the end of the building and has a nice big window letting in all available light. Light is important to me and my mood. Her office is small, but with comfortable chairs and just the right number of lush plants. I always head for a chair that faces the door, and Ms. Honey sat across from me. She started by asking me how things had been since I had last been to see her, almost exactly two years ago.
The person who had cancelled their appointment for that afternoon had been booked for a double session, but Ms. Honey had offered up the second hour to someone else. We flew through the first hour and then, since she hadn’t heard back from the other patient, she offered me the second hour. It does take a while to go through two years of history with a sex addict, including everything we have been through with multiple therapists and therapy situations. Pretty much all the therapists locally who work with sex addicts know each other. Ms. Honey knows The Shrink (Blue Eyes’ current therapist) and The Shrink knows her, likewise with Ms. Second Chance (On her first chance, she was my individual therapist and the facilitator of the wives support group. On her second chance, she was our couple’s therapist). Ms. Honey is also completely familiar with The Quack. She has also very much heard of Omar Minwalla and his Institute for Sexual Health in Beverly Hills, a place where both Blue Eyes and I were treated in Spring and Summer 2014. I was blunt with her about my opinions regarding all of our treatment, with ALL of the therapists.
I walked out of my therapy appointment, for the first time in a very long time, with a smile on my face and a feeling of having actually received something very valuable for my time and money. Ms. Honey understood where I was coming from and she validated my thoughts, my feelings, and my actions. She got me. After just a short time into our appointment, she also very much remembered Blue Eyes and his story. She was able to explain to me why couple’s therapy didn’t work for me, at the time, and it totally made sense. She talked about how emotionally stunted Blue Eyes is. How when he is with someone who he perceives has authority over him, he gives up his higher power to that person, in this case, a therapist. When he does this, he reverts to a boy. A sad, neglected, broken little boy. His story is so compelling and his needs so great that therapists trained to work with addicts want to help heal him, to bring him out of that place. It becomes all encompassing. My needs take a back seat. Blue Eyes was not ready for couple’s counseling. He still uses his brokenness to manipulate people and therapists naturally want to help him overcome those instincts. They cannot just deny that he is desperately in need of help. We are all humans and human nature wants to gravitate towards the one who appears most vulnerable. She thinks Blue Eyes needs EMDR therapy on top of his regular counseling appointments. She reiterated that we each needed our own individual therapists, which we had. I healed, enough, from my individual trauma and was ready for Blue Eyes to join me. He was not ready then. He is not ready now.
I did not shed one tear in Ms. Honey’s office. I talked about the cutting incident and subsequent ER visit. I told her about the card from the other woman that prompted more of that dreaded trickle truth and my desire to flee my own house and in attempting to do so, my releasing a whole lot of heartache with one swift slice to my arm requiring 16 stitches. I told her about the continued dribble of truths all the way to the humiliating admission by Blue Eyes of the 4th acting out partner, who in chronological order was actually the 2nd acting out partner. She couldn’t believe that two therapists were aware of this truth, for months, and that neither required Blue Eyes to follow the boundaries and protocol set up for my safety by telling me within 24 hours of remembering. She was appalled and I wanted to kiss her. She reminded me along the way that Blue Eyes’ behavior was textbook sex addict, and that prompted some discussion about this blog and my having the opportunity, many times, to validate my own feelings about the reality of sex addiction and the fact that most people frankly do not understand it. Some do not even believe it is real. Anyone that has anything to do with the agonizing illness of sex addiction is all too aware of how society views it. It is a sad state of affairs really. These CSATs are working desperately to help heal people and yet, so many still question the validity of it all. I asked Ms. Honey if she had ever heard of Chump Lady and I might have let a little smile creep up my lips when she said, “no, who is that?” I expressed how grateful I have been to have this blog, this voice. Many times, when she asked questions or brought up topics, I said, “you know, I wrote about that on my blog,” and she was so pleased that I have this space.
We talked about some of the therapy that has worked over the past two years and some that did not work so well. She asked me if I thought Blue Eyes had divulged everything… if I think I actually have the truth, now. I told her I believe I have the truth to the thousands of questions I asked over and over and over again… but I don’t know what I don’t know. I assume there are lots of details for which I did not ask the right questions, but basically, yeah, I feel like I have the truth about what is in fact consequential to Blue Eyes being honest about his secret sex life. She asked if we had ever had a formal disclosure, polygraph test, etc… I told her no. She asked if I wanted that. I told her I didn’t know, but at this point I didn’t think it was necessary. I know Blue Eyes takes his sobriety very seriously. I believe he is not currently acting out. I believe he has divulged all extramarital sex partners. I believe he has been truthful in answering the questions I have asked, although many times it has taken quite some time to receive those answers. I do still ask him questions. As recently as last weekend he hemmed and hawed around a rather awkward question about his sexual behavior with the other woman. Ms. Honey and I talked a little about sex. About the hysterical bonding period. About how I feel about sex with Blue Eyes now. She asked me if I am okay with knowing so much about the sexual acting out that my husband participated in. I told her honestly that I am fine with the knowledge. The truth is what I seek and I only continue to ask questions to make sure he can, on the fly, tell the truth and that his instinct is not to continue lying. He does an okay job of being honest on the first go around. I give zero value to the disgusting secret sex my husband had with other women, so it doesn’t make me feel sick anymore. At the same time, however, I told her that sex does not hold the same specialness it did before. Since he gave it away so freely to women who had not earned the right nor deserved the intimacy, it is not the same loving act it once was. I can participate in sex with my husband, regularly and fully and enjoy it and we both definitely leave the scene satisfied, but it doesn’t hold the same loving connection it once did. That is just the facts as I see and feel them. Not sure if sex will ever hold the same level of intimacy really. I have always believed my relationship with Blue Eyes was built on much stronger stuff than how often we have sex and how many orgasms I have. Always. This is why I know the relationship with the other woman was part of a sick sexual addiction. All they had was sex. Sex, in that case, is meaningless.
We talked a little about my impatience with the recovery process, and also my need to have Blue Eyes treat me and our marriage like an equal partner in his healing, at least equal to his therapist/FOO issues, and equal to his 12 step work/group. In other words, I have boundaries and rules and requirements that allow me to feel safe in this new relationship we are building. I expect him to answer the questions I ask. I do not expect to be the last person to find out about something going on in my own marriage. That is humiliating and degrading and will surely cause our marriage to fail. Unless he wants to marry his therapist or one of his 12 step guys, I am his life partner and the one who must come first in matters that affect both of us. I asked Ms. Honey her thoughts on separation. She said unless the spouse of a sex addict feels like they must have separation for their own safety, or if a boundary has been broken and separation was the consequence, she said she feels like separation for separation sake is “old school.” It was nice hearing this from her, because we did not have anyone guiding us through this process and I chose not to separate, and some days I have seriously questioned my sanity. Ms. Honey is of the mind that if a sex addict expects his marriage to continue and thrive, that he must be able to work on his marriage and his recovery at the same time and most often that works best if the couple is together, with boundaries, of course. I was happy to hear that as I have often thought about separation, but am very worried that a separation would in fact work against my desire to reconcile our marriage. She reassured me that I was doing just fine.
And on that note, she asked me what I wanted to get from therapy with her. I told her I thought what I needed was someone to listen to me. I need someone who understands me and what I am going through and who can guide me when I question my motives, my behavior, my dedication to the process. I need someone to assure me that I am sane in all this and that I am not doing damage with my own actions to me, my husband, or our marriage. She said she was happy I had called her and she thinks she is a great match for me and my needs. When the two hour time period was up, I was shocked that I had not shed a tear. She assured me that I have made a lot progress on this journey so far and that she has a great couple’s counselor to refer us to when Blue Eyes is ready.
I walked out into the early evening drizzle with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I never should have questioned why I called Ms. Honey in the first place. I should have just trusted my own instincts.