Although my husband is a diagnosed sex addict, he is also a cheater. When I first found out about his cheating, I had no idea he was a sex addict or that such a thing was even real. There were a lot of revelations on his part over those first few days, and an obvious need for him to make changes in his life. It was true, however, that he never understood why he did the things he did. He wasn’t looking for a new life, merely a way to cope with the life he had created for himself. And his life, honestly, at 50 years old was not bad. He had been married for nearly 25 years to his college sweetheart. He adored his two sons, both of which were in college. He was the CEO of his own successful company that he built from nothing. He had a beautiful home in a nice city and dreams of building a beach retreat. His marriage wasn’t falling apart, his business wasn’t struggling, he wasn’t fretting over money. Even getting older wasn’t getting him down. Shortly before discovery, he had attended his 30 year high school class reunion and had an absolute blast, dubbed ‘The Mayor’ of the event, he socialized and reconnected with old friends. Life was good.
The sad truth, however, is that Blue Eyes had never learned a healthy way to cope with any life he built for himself. He started very young medicating away his troubles. He was a sensitive soul born into a family of dysfunction. From the earliest age he felt abandonment, neglect, fear, pain and shame. As he grew, the mental abuse took a physical toll and he was a sick kid. I’m not making excuses for him, just stating reality. I knew he came from an abusive family. I knew he was vulnerable. I knew he had trouble coping. I thought once he was with me, and felt true love, without shame, that he would mature. He would stop being dependent on his parents for emotional support and validation (something I knew they would never give) and that he would be happy, with me. I did not know this was simply not possible.
I did not know he was already an addict. I did not know that he would believe that he needed the validation of people outside our relationship in order to cope with his life as it was. He didn’t really know how to love. He didn’t understand what it means to be selfless. He had always self medicated. It was okay though, because no one would ever find out. It may have been possible for him to keep his secret life in tact actually, if not for the fact that he brought other real-life women into the equation. I know that sounds weird to put it in those terms, but I’m talking real-life in person sexual relationships, in lieu of pornographic images (pre-internet), and flirting (grooming) without consummation, and eventually internet porn, all activities he partook in for years before actually having an affair and eventually putting in a Craig’s List Ad. Once he started a relationship with a live divorced woman, who was at his beck and call even if that meant only conversing with her a few weeks of the year, the game was set. Threats and blackmail ensued, perpetuating and magnifying the level of betrayal. That’s when the lies about me began because ‘other women’ must believe they are somehow better than the women they are theoretically replacing. That was how this whole thing blew up in his face. When he wanted to be rid of his sick secret drug, that drug being an awful, mean and angry older woman, the drug fought back.
That’s when I became The Betrayed. That’s when my life was turned upside down. First, I found out my husband had lied to me for thirty years. Lied about a crucial part of who he is. I then found out that he had repeatedly groomed other women (dozens and dozens), and cheated on me with other women, at least four to be exact (if we narrow it down to ‘participated in sexual behavior outside our marriage’ cheating) with the worst being an eight year affair with the woman who called my phone. If that wasn’t enough to devastate me, he dragged the truth out over months and months even though he knew it was literally killing me. And finally, his last other woman stalked me obsessively, even showing up on an airplane with us. She finally gave up after we called the police for the third time. No more phone calls to the home phone or my mobile phone. No more delusional cards to our home. No more trying to woo Blue Eyes back into her web, and no more showing up on planes or sending messages of any kind. But honestly, the stalking wasn’t the worst of my problems. For more than two years I was unrecognizable. I had changed in so many ways and every single day was filled with trauma. Some days I couldn’t function at all. Some days I harmed myself. Some days I was a zombie. Some days I really didn’t want to live. There was therapist after therapist. I read books. I started this blog. I cried millions and millions of agonizing tears.
And then, when I was spent and emotionally depleted, I started healing. I’m still very much changed, but I finally got to a point in the third year of recovery where I started consciously fighting the demons that had stolen my livelihood. I realized I have the power to manage my own emotions. I had to metabolize the trauma. I had no choice. But once the trauma started to subside, I decided I didn’t want to be defined by the betrayal any longer. My husband’s addiction is his burden to carry. He didn’t hurt me because he is evil. He didn’t hurt me because he hates me. He was hurt and in turn he hurt me, and others. The important part is that he doesn’t want to continue hurting people, so he is working on himself. He wants to work on himself.
And during all of this, four years of this now, I realized I can leave and I will be just fine. I also realized that I can stay, and be happy. I do feel like I am a survivor. He is a survivor too. He is not the enemy. I am not anyone’s dupe. We’re both strong. More importantly though, is we are both still learning life’s most valuable lessons. He has forgiven his parents for the abuse of his childhood, and he takes responsibility for his own healing. I have forgiven him, and I take responsibility for my own healing. Because of who we are and what we have been through, he has the longer and harder path. I know he will continue to be successful.
Betrayal shaped who I am today, but it doesn’t define me. I define me and I am strong and resilient and looking to the future with a great deal of optimism, because that’s how I roll.
Peace and love, y’all. ❤