It seems to me that ever since I wrote the post about Control and the photo of the other woman, I have felt a weird vibe here on the old blog. First let me get this off my chest. My husband has his own path. He is a recovering sex addict. His recovery includes counseling, now with EMDR therapy, and the 12 step program for sex addicts with a spiritual component of Buddhism and meditation. He has traversed his way through three separate sex addict diagnoses, and a 9-day intensive program “Led by Dr. Omar Minwalla… a highly focused… foundational treatment curriculum for men that includes psychosexual evaluation and initial treatment stabilization for sexual acting out (sex addiction or compulsivity) problems, patterns of infidelity and intimate partner abuse. Intensive includes psychological and personality testing, cognitive-behavioral tools to contain problematic behaviors, and fundamental education on sexual acting out problems, intimate partner abuse and integrity disorders, and the resulting traumatic impact on others.” (www.theinstituteforsexualhealth.com)
He has received therapeutic help from a total of six therapists, four of which are Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSATs). Each therapist has played a crucial part in Blue Eyes’ recovery to this point. The first therapist had been counseling him regarding work related stress and family of origin issues for about four years at discovery. Blue Eyes lied by omission to this therapist, but even with the little bit the therapist did know (disclosure encouraged by me, to a therapist I had never met and did not even know his name, about Blue Eyes masturbation habits, the ones I knew about at least) he suggested books to Blue Eyes that centered around co-dependency (to his parents) and sex addiction. Blue Eyes refused to read the books on sex addiction. I knew nothing about them at the time. The second therapist, a former sex addict and CSAT was there to show Blue Eyes that not all therapists are good, or even honest. Omar Minwalla and an associate of his in Los Angeles were Blue Eyes’ third and fourth therapists, both CSATs. They were crucial to uncovering much of the abuse Blue Eyes suffered in childhood, emotional, physical, and sexual. Blue Eyes had been suppressing much of the bad that had happened to him when he was young, as he had created a story in his head in order to manage the pain and survive. His fifth therapist was here in Portland and although not a certified sex addiction therapist, he had treated numerous addicts, including more than two dozen sex addicts. This therapist helped Blue Eyes continue to uncover some of the trauma of his childhood, and he also helped Blue Eyes learn to be kinder to himself, release some of the shame and anger from childhood, and also helped him while he was working the 12 steps of Sexaholics Anonymous. Blue Eyes’ current therapist, a CSAT, is a woman, wife of a recovering sex addict, trained in EMDR, and with years of experience working with sex addicts, PLUS she understands betrayal induced trauma, and she knows me.
Along with therapy, Blue Eyes has been regularly attending Sexaholics Anonymous meetings for four years. He has a sponsor and a circle of guys. He completed the first go around of the 12 steps. He continues attending meetings and revisiting the steps. He loves going to fellowship and connecting with the friends he has met through SA. He meets up regularly for coffee with a few of his new “brothers” and also occasionally does social activities with some of them. Twelve Step meetings are a safe environment for Blue Eyes. But, it wasn’t always like that. Just like many, he attended a few meetings before he found one that was comfortable. He questioned whether he belonged. He looked around the room and made excuses… he was not like those other guys. Sharing his story was difficult and humiliating, until it wasn’t. He felt his place there was to help other guys stay sober and to help them, because they were weaker and their stories were different, or worse. But then he realized he was the one who needed help. He eventually realized he is just like those other guys, and sharing his story and doing the steps, was part of his journey. A very important part.
I guess what I am trying to say is that as far as sex addiction and sobriety go, Blue Eyes is doing an amazing job. He has remained completely sober (and I truly believe this) for more than four years now and he is not white knuckling it. He realizes how powerful addiction is. He knows he must keep the path and that the line between sobriety and addiction is tenuous at best. He believes that the minute an addict convinces himself in his mind that he will never act out again… he is vulnerable. Blue Eyes is not sitting over his laptop anxiously trying to decide whether to visit his favorite porn site. He willingly gave up all social media because social media, with all its ways of connecting and discretely chatting is a gateway to getting hits, and ultimately cheating. In my opinion, he would be safe on social media now, but he chooses to stay away. He eliminated that temptation very early on and I believe it helps simplify his life. He doesn’t groom, he changed his phone numbers, he put a security system in at the office just in case the other woman decided to show up there. He doesn’t place himself in precarious situations, but if one arises, he has tools, so many tools now. He uses all his resources as best he can.
The thing is though, his parents are still his parents. They are still very much alive and very much able to cause him great pain if he lets them. His work still causes him anxiety on many days, life is hard sometimes. After forty years of getting hits… he has to now consciously realize he does not need that negative energy in order to survive. His brain was rewired to get those hits. It thought it needed those hits. That part of his brain is still there, still stronger than he would like, still sitting on his shoulder, if you will, trying to convince him he needs hits. But Blue Eyes knows that is the addiction and it’s pull is strong, but he can be stronger. He knows where to turn now in order not to continue to feed the beast. He knows what it feels like to live a clandestine life with dirty secrets. He knows what it feels like to put his family’s livelihood in danger. He knows what betrayal trauma looks like on his wife and children. He has never once since discovery blamed me for any of his actions. He has now shown all emotions including deep regret, empathy and remorse.
And beyond his sex addiction, he’s the love of my life. I wouldn’t have stayed for 30 years if he wasn’t. He is quirky and funny and intelligent, and loving and kind in so many ways. He is compassionate and vulnerable and a fucking great provider for our family. I met him when I was 20 and by the time I was 21, I knew I would spend the rest of my life with him. I’m not keeping that dream alive for nothing. And it wasn’t always easy… actually, it was NEVER easy. There is some irony here… or perhaps it is the course of his addiction that was guiding him, but at the beginning of our relationship he was still actively suffering with his Ulcerative Colitis and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and I was learning to be with a sick person. His parents were constantly a burden on both of us, for different reasons and in different ways. Money was an issue, a big issue. I supported myself through college, I became pregnant, I wanted Blue Eyes to be financially independent of his parents. Financial independence would not come for years, and emotional independence, well, not sure that has truly happened yet. Through law school, we counted every penny. In 1991, the legal job market was in a recession. There was a huge influx of freshly minted attorneys, and Blue Eyes, a dreaded Californian, was trying to garner a job in Oregon. It took months and in the meantime, we had an infant to support. We were paycheck to paycheck for 25+ years of our relationship. And then, we weren’t. The company was making money and so were we. Our financial situation eased up. Our boys were in college. For the blink of an eye, we were empty nesters. I started working less hours for the company and traveling more with Blue Eyes. He seemed to be managing life and his parents better, and we decided to buy a beach house. And then, discovery day and all that we had built and the security we had earned over 30 years together seemed to crumble before my eyes.
I have been through hell and back. It’s all here on this blog… horrible horrible truths exposed, nightmares and trauma followed, debilitating trauma, self harm, dissociation, and eventually healing. I have also done my share of sitting in therapist’s offices both separately and with my husband. I have revisited my own childhood to better understand how quickly and wholly I fell apart at discovery of my husband’s secret life. Because of the self harm, my mental capacity was evaluated for potential in-patient treatment. For a hot second, I felt like I was no longer in control of my own life.
I suffered and my health took a huge hit. Stress started to envelop me. I still take a low dose antidepressant (so very unlike me) and I still have days where I really don’t want to do much, but we have both worked damn hard the past four years re-building our relationship and to a certain degree learning who we both really are, under the most dire of circumstances. The truth is, I adore my husband and I cherish the life I have built with him. I don’t think I say it enough on this blog perhaps. At least after reading and replying to comments over the past couple weeks.
My blog is about me, and my husband, and our partnership. Despite my deep love for my husband, I am at a place in my healing where I know I could live without him. I am not in fear of separation or divorce, and I do have requirements for my staying in this partnership. One of those requirements includes my feelings being validated. There are consequences to my husband’s actions. I know he is an addict, but that does not excuse the behavior. He betrayed me. That is a fact, regardless of his reasons. I know he would like to draw a line under and move on, as one commenter put it, and say enough is enough. I have answered enough questions, looked at enough photos, and in the commenter’s words, I want to move on from the hurtful and destructive behavior. The problem is… not complying with my wishes of the moment is hurtful and destructive. For BE to disregard my needs in the current moment is probably the most hurtful thing he could do. I had already looked at the photo. My response at seeing the photo was two-pronged… disgust from seeing that woman, but also relief at seeing her doing something normal. Living her life, not solely being an alcoholic recluse in a rundown house in a seedy area of town. Although this woman was Blue Eyes’ drug of choice for the better part of eight years (intermittently), she is not actually the drug. The clandestine secret sexting, texting, emailing and calling was the predominant drug. Meeting up finished the cycle, but I can assure you, the sight of this woman does not give my husband a hard on, or an addictive hit. It’s difficult to explain. His drug is dirty and ugly and completely dysfunctional. He should be able to at this point look at that photo and feel nothing but relief that she is off doing something other than stalking his wife!!! Not looking at the photo was completely about CONTROL. His desiring it. Power is an amazing aphrodisiac. I really wished he had just looked at the fucking photo. Weirdly enough, he eventually did look at the photo (after the damage was done, but long before I finished that post) and he had no obvious reaction and his response WAS, at least she’s off doing something that doesn’t appear to be destructive.
But honestly, this all happened quite a while ago. It took me a few weeks to take the time to write about it. The point was about addicts and control, NOT about a crazy betrayed wife obsessively stalking her stalker on social media. And if I WAS doing that… I would TOTALLY cop to it! I don’t give a flying fuck what that woman is up to as long as she is not in my life. I guess those of you out there who have been stalked, followed, threatened… might understand my periodic desire to confirm that I am no longer being stalked by a woman who was told that I am not a good wife, that I am not loving or nurturing, that I am not kind to my husband and that gives her permission to believe she is my husband’s savior. Again, some of her parting words to my husband were… “if something HAPPENS to Kat, could we be together???” Yeah. Call me crazy, but every once in a while I do a little bit of checking to make sure this bitch is staying on her own side of the proverbial railroad tracks. Or at least I did until I made a pact with another betrayed spouse, so I’m not doing that anymore, but that does not mean there won’t be other requests of my husband that he will not want to do. Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do in order to protect the things that are most valuable to us. I know it would be super cool for all the cheaters and addicts out there if their partners just stopped asking questions, stopped suffering trauma, stopped requiring things from their cheating partner and just got over it already. I’m pretty sure that if that happens, if I stop feeling and caring, there won’t be much left of the partnership for Blue Eyes to hang onto. So what might seem better, actually, won’t be. I love my husband enough to not pretend like things are okay when they aren’t. I love my husband enough to be honest with him…