Boundaries

boundaries

I have learned that in order to protect myself from pain, there are numerous relationships in my life for which I need to set boundaries. The first relationship was with my sister who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder with Bi-Polar Tendencies. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. She is my younger sister by five and a half years and went 30 years without a diagnosis. Our parents divorced when I was six and she was six months. I did my best, as a young child myself, to take care of her. I couldn’t stand her being unhappy. I tried really hard to help her. Eventually, by the time she was in her teens and twenties, she used every manner of drug to medicate her wounds. Even now, at 50 years old she still abuses her prescription meds. Mental illness fucks with your mind.

I sought out therapy for my own broken heart. My sister could be incredibly cruel. On one hand, she had my back in tough situations, but on the other, she fairly well tortured me. It’s the nature of her illness, I get it. But, I needed to protect myself both physically and emotionally. I learned to set boundaries. It took 40 years for me to be able to do this.

boundaries-quote-6

Our father is a spoiled bully. I learned how to take care of myself at an early age. I trusted myself first, my parents next. I either learned early on, or innately knew, that not all adults are trustworthy. Not all adults should be obeyed just because. I wasn’t belligerent, I toed the line, but I never took to heart a lot of the crap my father dished out. Our relationship was arm’s length. I adored my Mom, but she was a divorced mother of two by the time she was 25. I admired her, but I just couldn’t see myself making the same mistakes. I forged my own path.

When I met my husband, I was guarded. He pursued, I pulled away. I was too young for anything serious. Unfortunately, a few weeks into our intimate relationship I became pregnant and then had a miscarriage. It changed me. I let myself be vulnerable. I believed my husband would always be kind, and trustworthy and I let him in. I made a place deep inside me, for him. I had never done this before. If you ask all my siblings (I never have), ask all TEN of them about me and my personality, I’m pretty positive they would say, I’m reserved. I’m cautious with my heart. They would say I’m there when they need me, but I’m not often just there. I’m not there for no reason.

I was engaged to Blue Eyes for 4 1/2 years before we married. This was on purpose. I needed to be sure. Through thick and thin. We had a long distance relationship twice. I almost pulled out of the engagement, twice. I didn’t go into this marriage lightly. I trusted I had made a good decision. I just knew Blue Eyes would never hurt me. I guess you could say, I counted on it and I opened myself up fully.

During the initial stages of Blue Eyes’ recovery, and my healing, I went to a trauma specialist in Los Angeles, and he attended extensive therapy and an intensive program for compulsive sexual behaviors. Through that process, he developed a circle plan for his recovery, and I created, with the help of my trauma therapist, a boundary list for my own feelings of safety.

The following is that Boundary Worksheet, verbatim:

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The first section is directly related to his sex addiction. I knew he didn’t want to be that guy anymore, and I knew I couldn’t be with an unrecovered sex addict, so the first section was and is non-negotiable. I didn’t feel like I needed sexual or emotional boundaries for our relationship. We had never struggled sexually and most of my emotional turmoil was wrapped up in finding out he had a secret life and the nature of that secret life.

The “other boundaries” is where it gets a little sticky. These boundaries were created more than four years ago and although I never expressly changed my boundaries nor gave him verbal or written permission to loosen up on these boundaries, he has. The cell phone and laptop are still a problem. Not that he is using them for his sex addiction, because although I have never monitored his devices, I don’t believe he is, but that he is a workaholic. Being on his cell phone and laptop too much leads him to being unavailable to me and ungrounded in his life in general.

The thing is though, I have learned a few things over the past four years. I have no intention of separating from my husband, despite my threatening recently to find him an apartment. And, with both our boys at home, we don’t actually have an available guest room, so there’s that. I know he doesn’t want to be separated from me and I don’t want it either. I have decided that what he really needs is to be reminded of the positive behaviors he should be engaging in to redirect his mind from the ungrounded-ness that drives his workaholism.

I see from his latest post that he has been thinking about his behaviors.

Blue Eyes’ latest blog entry

I will change the boundary consequences to include positive reinforcement behaviors as mandatory, versus negative punishment. I hope it helps remind him that I love him and I want him to feel better in his own skin. When he is better, I am better.

55 thoughts on “Boundaries

  1. Changing the boundary consequences to include positive reinforcement behaviors is great, but maybe some of the negative consequences need to remain but change to better fit the reality of life? I get that the whole separate rooms/ someone moves out thing isn’t practical. It isn’t for my husband or I either for a variety of similar reasons. You’ve written though about certain fairly routine things that BE sometimes objects to. What if – because of the work trip violation – he was responsible for all of the grocery shopping for two weeks or a month? Or he was responsible for a defined portion of the pet care (nightly and weekend walks, for example)?

    I’m good at boundary setting (because they just seem so obvious to me), but I’m constantly challenged by the consequences. They have to be feasible and work within our family structure/ schedule, and that’s a really tough thing to work around. Our CSAT keeps impressing on me though that if there are no negative consequences then I really haven’t established a boundary.
    xo

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    • I struggle with consequences too, mostly b/c we are “supposed” to have them written out in advance. I have a boundary about lying. My husband lies sometimes about really stupid things. For example, I might be looking for something in the fridge and I ask him if he finished it. (All I am trying to do is determine whether I need more olives, or something!!!) He compulsively replies, “No.” Then gaslights that I must have eaten them. Olives don’t matter. OY. The lying matters. I’m not leaving my husband over olives, and making a big case about it just fosters more anger than I need in my life.

      The psychologist at our intensive said, “Lies, no matter the size.”

      Anyhow – just wanted to say this is a challenge for me.

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      • My H use to do the same thing thing! Over the years in our relationship I caught him in a few small lies like the example you gave and at the time it really confused me, I would think maybe he would lie because he was afraid I would get upset with him, which I wouldn’t have so why would he think that but I justified it at the time and just didn’t think much about it. At the time I never thought because he could tell lies about these stupid small things that he was definitely lying about big things!
        I can look back now and see red flags I missed.

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        • I thought my husband did it b/c of his issues with his mother being obtrusive and hovering around him over food (the bizarre little lies – and often about food – but about other household situations as well). It seemed, to me, like a little boy blurting out a cover-up lie.

          Honest kid scenario:
          Mother: “Johnnie, did you use all the toilet paper?”
          Johnnie: “Yes, Mum.”
          Mother: “Okay, darling, can you please put a roll on the TP holder if you use it up next time?”
          Johnnie: “Sure, Mum. Sorry.”

          Dishonest kid scenario (only 2 people live in the home – Johnnie and his Mum):
          Mother: “Johnnie, did you use all the toilet paper?”
          Johnnie: “No.”
          Mother: “Well, the last time I was in the washroom, there was toilet paper available for the next person, and we are the only two people in this house”
          Johnnie: “It wasn’t me. You must’ve forgotten that you used it up”

          Notice the blame and gaslighting. OY VEY!!!

          I thought it was one of his quirks, b/c of his mother. IMHO, we all have flaws and often “stuff” from our childhoods. I had no clue whatsoever that he’d betray me in the way he did. That’s what traumatized me the most – who is this person??? We can always look back and connect the dots, but we are supposed to be able to unconditionally trust our husbands. All I can do is move forward now.

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          • You know, beleeme, I know for a fact that my mil taught my husband how to lie, from a very young age. He was able to get away with little lies to her and so he told them constantly, to avoid consequences and punishment. The situation with him, though, is that the consequences for a small child were dire. The blowback if he was caught doing something she felt was undesirable was sometimes physical violence but mostly the more destructive emotional abuse. A verbal beat down where he felt lower than dirt on her shoe. For the entire 50 years of his life until he went no contact in 2014 she belittled him, made him feel bad about himself, humiliated him, told him he was worthless. He learned that bad behavior to survive. I’m not making excuses, just trying to understand how he and I could be so different. I know why we are so different. I still believe in him. I still believe he can make changes, he already has, but I know he doesn’t do what he does with a conscious maliciousness. I try to be understanding during his recovery journey, but I do believe sometimes I am treading a thin line. That is why I want to try some positive reinforcement. It sounds childish, but in many respects his psyche is still in childhood stage. Sad, I know. xo

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            • I get it, Kat. I have asked my husband for the 57YO instead of the 5YO, 7 YO, 12YO, 20 YO that pops up at times. I don’t need to parent a kid. OY.

              I think some parts of the psyche are in childhood, but not all. OY again.

              You’re right; I don’t believe much of this stuff is conscious maliciousness. BUT. The choice to lie and hide that secret life of YUCK – well – that was conscious. And yep, it is a fine line.

              I could understand it better, IMHO, if he were an Oxycontin junkie. Today I talked about that with my blue-eyed husband. I shared a story about a baby born as a junkie. Not the baby’s choice. The baby had to be given small amounts of opiate to *not* have seizures and such (and die). I GET *that* kind of addiction. This – hmmm – I call it compulsion. That’s just me.

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              • I get that there are subtle differences, and sometimes not so subtle differences, in how we interpret behaviors and words, etc…. If my husband had secretly been taking heroine or drinking and somehow hid the compulsive nature of it, I would still call it an addiction. I see the behaviors all as drugs. I do believe the brain is rewired to believe it needs that hit to survive. I do believe compulsive behavior is included in addiction, but what my husband did, in my mind, is addiction. He rewired his brain from at least 10 years old. He was never able to stop the compulsive behavior even if he wanted to and even when it was going against who he wanted to be and even knowing he could lose things in his life that he desperately didn’t want to lose. He consciously tried to stop the behaviors and couldn’t without acknowledgement and help. To me, that’s addiction. I have compulsive behaviors and most likely would be diagnosed as mildly obsessive compulsive. Even the trauma therapist noticed some of my behaviors and at first assumed they were related to the SAIT, but then she later asked me how long I had been doing them. As long as I can remember. But they don’t hurt people, I don’t hide them, I won’t lose my husband or my job or whatever because of them. I did pick up more compulsive behaviors post dday as well. She thinks many of my compulsive behaviors are childhood trauma induced. We all have stuff. I do think there are underlying mental issues that drove my husband’s addiction, but I do believe in his case, it is addiction.

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                • Good points, Kat. I struggle with what to call IT.

                  My therapist has made a few comments about how SA isn’t in the DSM and “So, he’s gets a PASS for that?” My husband gets no “passes” for anything related to betrayal, lying, cheating, mentally abusing me via gaslighting and more, and, even the possibility that he could have committed manslaughter if he would’ve contracted HIV and transmitted it to me.

                  Clearly, I’m having trouble accepting all of this again, and my therapist isn’t helping. We are going to start seeing an Emotionally Focused Therapist therapist together who is trained in SA, and I plan to ask her a lot of questions about SA.

                  My therapist thinks SA is an excuse. I’ve sat down to blog at least 5 times recently, and I just scrap it all. I’m confused and frustrated.

                  All I know is my husband is sick in his mind.

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                  • An excuse for what? It doesn’t really matter what anyone calls whatever it is that your husband has done. The key is to get qualified help. I never quite understand the “excuse” denial of sex addiction. Being diagnosed as a sex addict merely helps open up avenues for treatment. This is a rough journey, I know, but denial without solutions probably isn’t very helpful to you? I just wrote about the DSM and the fact that insurance companies don’t want to have to pay for treatment of sex addiction and because the word sex is so inflammatory, people who have no training can get away with denial. Sometimes it’s a whole lot easier to deny something than to help fix it. My husband was in denial for many years. Not helpful. I hope the new therapist works out. xoxo

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                    • Disclaimer: I am not saying I believe this, but this is my understanding of the “excuse thing”. The excuse “thing” is that a guy can use the phrase sex addiction, “Really, I’m sick/addicted, so I’m hoping the legal system goes easy on me b/c I have an illness, and I’m paying for really expensive treatment to get well. This is what they do after they get caught (e.g. Harvey Weinstein). I could be wrong, but that’s how

                      My husband never got caught. He started confessing whilst unravelling psychologically in a mental health crisis. A few weeks later and he almost

                      Your right on the money that sex/infidelity are inflammatory or loaded topics for therapists and other people. I’ve had a few therapists in my area. They consider it cheating, plain and simple, and breaking marriage vows. It’s not helpful to me at all to go to therapy and feel judged. There are limited options here, so we are going to Canada for this specially-trained therapist for the coupleship. She has her PhD, she’s trained in SA, and the most important credential is EFT (IMHO). I’ve been reading _Holding Her Tight_ by Sue Johnson, and that approach of therapy seems to make sense to me.

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                    • Whoa… Harvey Weinstein? Someone is comparing the average diagnosed by a trained CSAT sex addict to Harvey Weinstein? Potentially this is a big problem created partially by the media.

                      Not sure how saying someone is a sex addict gets them off the hook? How? If someone murders someone while they are drunk do they use an “I am an alcoholic” excuse? Does it work???

                      Although it is my understanding that some sex addicts are sex offenders, by no means are all sex addicts sex offenders. I find that offensive on behalf of all the sex addicts I know. My husband is not a sex offender. Having extramarital sex although abhorrent in my book, is not illegal. I have asked my husband, if it was illegal, would he have done it and he said probably not. A reason he didn’t hire prostitutes. He’s fucked up, but as a lawyer, very concerned about breaking the law. Actually, we had a therapist at the beginning that likened my husband to Ted Bundy. Charismatic guy who lures women into his web, even the cops couldn’t believe he’d done anything wrong. WHAT??? Needless to say that therapist didn’t last long. My husband’s three sex partners were more than willing participants. Two of them lured him into the actual sex acts, that’s what instigated full on cheating versus grooming, porn, etc… Not victims of any crime. They weren’t molested, or threatened in any way and there were no criminal charges brought against my husband, ever.

                      I had to use my own common sense when dealing with the many therapists we have seen. I wanted my husband to get to the bottom of what drove him and get help and he has. He was miserable living his life of lies. Completely unhealthy, not getting away with anything, he was drowning in lies. And by the way, what my husband did IS cheating. He DID break his marriage vows. No one said he didn’t. But, there are also reasons why people do what they do. Lots of deep seated emotional issues, whether sex addicts, or not, and getting there is half the battle. If we just label them all worthless cheaters, kind of like how people used to think about alcoholics, they were just lazy people who drank too much because they were weak… then we’re really not helping the situation. It’s too bad so many therapists are ignorant and close minded to sex addiction. It doesn’t help anyone.

                      I understand while really still suffering from sex addiction induced trauma (SAIT) that things people say can be hurtful and confusing and humiliating, but there is a reason we have been with our partners so long and we didn’t find out about their secret lives for so long, they’re not horrible people. They did some pretty unhealthy acts and they hurt us, but their behavior is not perpetrated because they are evil, or they hate us. They are broken and they need help. No one is saying we should or can provide them any help. They need professionals for that. But we should not be treated with disrespect or humiliated if we stay. This is why I don’t go to sites like Chump Lady or read sensationalized articles about people passing judgement on the acts of others. I don’t know those people. I only know about me, my life, my husband and I’m doing the best I can. Even if I didn’t stay married to my husband I would still want him to be healthy. I hope you are able to find the help you need, and deserve. Many many hugs of understanding, support, and love to you. xoxo

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                    • Hey, Kat – no – no one was comparing SAs to Harvey. They were saying high-profile people like Harvey use SA as an excuse for their illegal behavior, that they have a problem with this type of addiction, and they are getting extensive treatment for SA.

                      It’s certainly not helpful for me to hear that stuff. And I’m sorry I mentioned it here on your blog. It wasn’t helpful.

                      I’ve had some really mediocre and downright horrible therapists. I am supposed to feel safe there, in their office. I don’t feel safe, or even understood.

                      The therapist where we both felt safe and understood was during our FTD in TX. She was a psychologist, a trained CSAT, and trained by Doug Weiss’s center too. She had a great deal of experience with partners and their trauma. She doesn’t do distance counseling, unfortunately.

                      There are some excellent therapists who are well-trained, but they are not easily accessed (geographically) by many people. I need to use my own head, too, and realize when a therapist is doing more harm than good. I don’t thin they do it on purpose at all. It’s ignorance and lack of training.

                      Take care, Kat.

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                    • I get what you are saying, but the comparing in the first place, by some people (especially therapists), is simply not healthy thinking. Whatever some wealthy celebrity might use to validate his behavior (and which is merely reported on by someone trying to garner views from a headline) has absolutely nothing to do with actual sex addiction. That is what I am saying. That’s how this started, with “people” saying people (aka men) use it as an excuse. But, there are people who are not using it as an excuse, but in fact using it to help them heal. I am sorry if you have a therapist that said sex addiction is an excuse. For some it may be, but that is irrelevant to the conversation as far as I am concerned. I am by no means trying to be combative. I care. I care when the feelings of partners of sex addicts are not considered when someone makes an uneducated blanket destructive statement. It just really irks me when ignorant people, whether trying to be helpful or hurtful doesn’t matter, because they do hurt people in the process of denouncing something they don’t have direct experience with. If someone is trying to use sex addiction as an excuse and therefore they are getting help through in-patient, out-patient, therapy, 12 step, support groups, whatever, then good on them. Maybe it will help with whatever they DO suffer from. I know sometimes we really need to reach out for help. It is important that we are still able to dissect good from bad, helpful from not helpful, genuine caring from carelessness… for ourselves. Protecting our space, our boundaries, our feelings, is a big part of this battle. xoxo

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                    • I want to thank you, Kat. You helped me snap out of the “analyzing this thing” loop and get back to our individual situation and our healing process.

                      I didn’t see your replies as combative at all. You are spot-on, helpful to others, smart, articulate and true to yourself!

                      Just wanted to reach out and thank you for your reply. Hugs & ❤

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks for coming back, beleeme, and commenting. I hate this journey for all of us. Stay or go, the SA resources help them get to a better place, if they get the right help, and if they embrace it, in my opinion. I am very passionate about this healing path, having lived a kind of hell most everyone I know has no idea about. I want us all (addicts and partners) to come out the other side with our mental and physical health in tact. Try to stay on a positive path. I know it’s painful and some days much easier to just want to chuck it all. Struggling and having doubts makes us normal. Good luck on finding therapy that makes you feel better about your choices and helps you heal. xoxo

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            • Ha, you are not as crazy as you think you are. This shit is real. My husband’s appearing to be a bad liar, I think, was all part of the manipulation. He knew if I believed he was a bad liar, that I would never believe he could be telling the biggest lie of all, and getting away with it. Things are different now. Thankfully. I know they are for you too. You are not near that storm, are you? For some reason I thought you were in the south.

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              • Hey kat! I been thinking about this comment about the manipulation, you know that what my H did too and this is part of my struggling for so long. I just cant believe it, I guess I don’t want to believe it. He manipulated me from the beginning, he would literally put on a show an act to led me to believe he was something he wasn’t, like a lier, a thief, a cheater, I can’t think of an example right now (because I don’t hold grudges and let things go and think of them no more which is also part of my problem I could always let things go-but not his affair) anyway, he really manipulated me from the beginning, I found out so much that was a lie about him just really hard to move on from because I still can’t believe it!

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                • For yourself, BB, you need to make a choice. It’s not helpful to sit in limbo with your feelings. Stress really takes a toll. For me I needed to decide whether I could stay with my husband knowing all I know. I had to realize I was making a conscious decision to stay and be happy. If I couldn’t be happy staying, I need to go. It wasn’t exactly a line I drew in the sand, because I still do struggle some, we’re not perfect beings, but it was an agreement I made with myself. I want to be happy and therefore, I had to let some of the feelings go. I’m not sure I could be happ-ier if I left, but I know I love my husband and for now I want to be with him, share with him. Our years together are important to me. However, if he doesn’t continue to strive to be the husband I need, with full honesty and integrity, acknowledging my pain from the betrayal, and working on himself, then I will leave. I know I can and I will be fine. It’s important that we all realize how fine we can be without our husbands. xo

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      • Exactly… it’s not the olives, it’s the lies/ gaslighting… but what is a suitable consequence for lying about the olives? Too severe and it generates anger and blow back, but if it’s not severe enough there’s little disincentive for violating the boundary.

        It’s so very difficult and it’s also hard not to feel like I’m parenting my spouse. I signed up to marry an adult. I did not sign up for this and yet here we are. 😦

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        • I totally agree, black acre. We didn’t think we were signing up to parent a spouse, but in my case I married someone who never fully matured beyond childhood and I have to acknowledge that. Thus I believe the positive reinforcement of proper therapy, regular 12 step meetings with good fellowship afterwards with men trying really hard to be adults, plus his Buddhist mindfulness, all helps him mature and be the adult he hasn’t been so far. I guess we shall see, but the level of lying right now is just at the frustrating phase, not devastation phase anymore. I have matured and learned a lot on this journey. My husband has a long way to go and a lot more to do.

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      • The lies do need to be acknowledged and dealt with. My husband also lies about the craziest little things, but I know he was trained to do so in early childhood.

        One Saturday I woke up and my husband and our Golden Retriever were gone. This was way before dday, years before. When he returned home, I asked him where he had been as he had left no note. I knew he had been gone for nearly three hours. I heard him leave earlier in the morning. I wasn’t accusing him of anything, I was just asking. There was no angst or malice in my voice or demeanor. He said they had been to the grocery store. I knew he was lying. I don’t know how, but I just knew. No one (at least not anyone I know) spends three hours at the grocery store that is less than a mile from our house.

        I asked him again. Where had he been. Same answer. So I got down on the floor and kneeled in front of our dog and held her head and looked in her eyes and said, “Lily, where did you and Daddy go, because I know it wasn’t to the grocery store. You have no groceries with you. Daddy is holding a Starbucks cup. Why is your Daddy lying to me?”

        He looked at me and said, “Oh, okay, if you must know I had a business meeting with Eric at Starbucks. We just got to talking and before I realized it, three hours had passed.”

        I do 100% believe that his second answer was the truth. Eric is a business and a personal friend of my husbands. I can easily spend three hours talking with my friends and although there wasn’t a bag of groceries, there was a Starbucks cup. I asked him why he had decided to lie and he said, “because I didn’t want you to be mad at me for having a business meeting on a Saturday. I thought I would be home before you woke up and you wouldn’t even notice?”

        I always knew he was a liar. I just thought he was a really bad liar.

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    • I understand what you are saying, black acre, but as you know, each situation is unique. I am not so much into the negative consequences theory. Blue Eyes knows if he breaks any of those non-negotiables there will be steep consequences. He knows I am completely serious about that. The thing about coming up with theoretically negative consequences for smaller infractions is that BE already does much of those things he doesn’t like. He has been doing them since dday. For at least a year I was a zombie. I did almost nothing. He has always done the grocery shopping and most of the pet responsibilities. After dday he also did my laundry and the cooking/dishes, etc… It has been a transition back into real life for me. Because I had done EVERYTHING those first 30 years including raise our children, I consciously checked out after dday. I no longer wanted to be part of a partnership where I had been so secretly, but obviously (once the truth was out) abused. The defiant Kat just said NO. To nearly everything. He had to kick in and he did it all mostly willingly and happily just to keep me in his life. I don’t want it to be that way anymore. What I want is for him to make time for me, but to also make time for his recovery. More time, quality time, not just going through the motions. It’s not consequences or punishment for him, but it does make him a more well rounded person. That’s where I’m at at this point.

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      • I’m all in favor of a well rounded husband. 🙂 And

        Interestingly, I always thought my husband was a really bad liar too. He’s almost childishly bad about it on day to day things. When it came to hiding his acting out, on the other hand, he had CIA-level deception skills. I’ve been asked if maybe I just wasn’t tuned in to seeing that kind of deception. I don’t think so. I think he really upped his game in furtherance of hiding his addiction and self-preservation. Thus, I’m really wary of any lie or instance of gaslighting, small or large. If he can’t be honest about finishing the milk and putting the empty container back, I feel as though I can hardly expect him to be honest about his acting out. I know they’re different things, but I wish my husband understood that it’s impossible to rebuild trust if he’s lying about the milk.
        xo

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        • I totally agree with you. The not lying part is a skill they must master. Unfortunately their instincts are fucked up and it takes time to fix that. I never don’t say anything. At this point I am convinced my husband convinces himself sometimes that he actually isn’t lying. That is really scary because THAT behavior reminds me of his narcissistic mother and all his prior rationalizing. Reinventing history and creating their own fantasy world. At this point BE often says, I just don’t know what is real anymore. That’s a cop out. STOP AND THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. I say it almost every day, to him. It’s why I keep writing. 😦

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          • I caught Mr. P in a lie years before dday and he was devastated when I told him I knew the truth, absolutely devastated. He was crying and begging for forgiveness. I asked him if he would lie about this, what else was he lying about? Of course he said nothing, but knowing how bad he felt I would have never thought he would lie to me again. Yep, liar, and probably could have passed a lie detector he was so good (because his secret life was not real life to him and he probably truly believed his lies), dammit.

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  2. Boundaries were a confusing area for me. In the beginning, the boundary was not having sex with anyone but me. He had done his “circles” and the only thing in his inner circle was having sex with anyone but me. All the other stuff, e.g. chat lines, cruising, fantasy, inappropriate conversations with women, hitting on women, etc. were “middle circle” behaviors which meant he needed to talk to someone but basically, these behaviors were “okay.” This was decided by he and his non-CSAT therapist. Yep. That’s how naive we were. True story. He was going to 12 step meetings almost every day and in therapy, so he was in “recovery” as far as he was concerned.

    After a year and a half of this pseudo- recovery and constant “discoveries” of chats with online whores, etc. etc. I had had it. I told him I couldn’t live this way anymore and he needed to move out and work on his “recovery” on his own. I didn’t care anymore about stupid “circles.” I needed sanity and peace in my life. He knew I meant it (but he protested that he hadn’t had sex with anyone but me…) That ultimatum and other consequences in his life, pushed him to get his ass to a CSAT. The CSAT pointed out that all of those “middle circle” behaviors were acting out. Plain and simple. All of that shit had to go, including the fantasy which was a big issue for him as it turned out. Now his “inner circle” i quite full. haha

    True recovery started for him when he started with the CSAT who saw through all his bullshit and called him on it. Interestingly, he loves this CSAT, I think because the CSAT supports him, but won’t tolerate the bullshit. Kind of like a good parent. Apparently it’s common for SAs to stop the main acting out behaviors, but to think they can do the “other stuff.” Apparently they tell themselves they can control it, after all, it’s just a chat, or it’s just giving a pretty woman a compliment. No harm done, right? Other people do it. Wrong. SAs can’t do any of that shit. Since the real recovery started, I have seen true change in my husband. It took awhile, but he know says he feels better than he ever has in his life.

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    • It really does matter who is there for them when they are diagnosed as sex addicts. They are vulnerable and still rationalizing and don’t really even understand their own behavior most times, so if they are exposed to people who also don’t have much of a clue, it is a recipe for disaster. Some also have very complicated situations, like your husband. There is a lot going on there and he needed a lot of resources, good resources. I am so glad he found them. SO GLAD!!!! I know you were a big part of that. These men are our family, we want them to succeed!

      Blue Eyes’ circle plan is extensive and took him months to complete and it is ever evolving. Circle plans are part of an SAA concept if I am correct. BE attends SA meetings, but really liked the circle plan concept. I know that in his SA meetings and in fellowship and with his sponsor, BE was well versed on the fact that they are no longer able to do ANY of THOSE behaviors. It is a “slippery slope” for them and many of those seemingly innocent behaviors are anything but innocent. It does take a while for them to realize it though. I mean seriously, how many years did they spend feeding their addiction and somehow rationalizing it? They are master rationalizers. xoxo

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      • Yes, the circles are an SAA thing. Like I said, my husband’s circles look very different today than those original bs circles. Interestingly, lately the CSAT has him working more on the outer circle, which is the good behaviors, the replacement behaviors, if you will. Originally, my husband didn’t have many outer circle behaviors, but now that has grown. Spending time with me is one of them. He had to spend some time developing outer circle activities. From what he has told me, fantasy was his “go to” in the past when he was lonely, bored, anxious, sad, etc. That was bad because fantasy for an SA like my husband is very different than fantasy for a normal person. It’s almost a form of disassociation, which also explains how he was able to compartmentalize his life like he did. Fantasy would lead to the acting out, maybe not that minute, but it set the whole process in motion. Now if he feels the urge to go into fantasy he has to call someone from his SAA group, SA group or therapy group (Yep, he does it all now.). The purpose of the call is to get grounded again. He literally cannot go there.

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  3. I am also an open book, but my OH has CIA/MI5 level security walls. It took me several months to get to know him. His family are just the same. The people he works with know next-to-nothing about him and me or even that my daughter exists.
    Even the OW, a work colleague, knew the bare minimum about me. He didn’t even share that much about himself with her. Why would you carry on a relationship with someone for 8½ years when you know so little about them personally?
    It is confusing AF to me.

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    • Wow. I had no idea my husband was hiding so many secrets. He seemed open. After 30 years I thought I knew him. What is true is that I only knew the person he wanted me to see. His long term affair partner knew mostly lies… that he told her to keep her on the line. They did not have a real relationship, but it did last over 8 years as well. Crazy, right? Who would carry on a relationship with someone for 8 years if they only called you a couple times a year, for SEX. Someone who never stuck around to talk. He doesn’t even know what color she likes, or what flowers, or what food. How could she not know that it wasn’t real? And if it wasn’t real, why would she spend so much of her time stalking me and trying to hurt me? She is mentally ill, that is how. Mentally ill or not though, it is still as confusing AF to me, too!!!! It makes me sick to even be in a group with this woman, the group of women who had sex with Blue Eyes. Ick. xo

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  4. I had no idea what boundaries were either. I mean, there were just some things that I would never do but that Will did on a daily basis. He didn’t have to set boundaries for me because I was innately programmed to not infringe into another’s space. Will had absolutely no clue as to what that meant..in fact, he still struggles with that at times. A therapist in those first few weeks recommended I read “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud. It was an eye-opener! I had no clue! After a disastrous safety plan written by my therapist, we came up with our own boundary list. Much of it is still in place today although because Will has made some significant progress in his recovery, it is extremely rare for us to refer to it. What was always a matter of respect and consideration to me regarding others, has taken Will nearly three years to understand and implement. This addiction wreaks havoc on a person’s common sense and decency, but I am grateful for recovery. You said it best: When he is better, I am better.
    Much love! ❤️

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    • I have actually been asked about my boundary list a few times on this blog and elsewhere by wives of sex addicts. I finally took the time to pull it up. I hadn’t looked at it for a couple years, but I knew what was on it. Blue Eyes has a printout. In my mind it is very simple. I used a template for the above that was given to me by my trauma therapist, but the boundaries and words are mine. We referred to it a lot at the beginning. The one area where Blue Eyes struggled was in sharing with me his communications with what we consider “safe” people. They were all men, except for therapists and doctors/nurses. The issue is, I needed to know what he was doing early on because his addiction diagnosis was so fresh and he actually couldn’t recognize some of the covert behaviors he was still participating in. People might say… he didn’t have to share EVERYTHING with me, however, in order to stay with me, he did. That was a boundary. He could have left and continued to do whatever he wanted. It took him a while to comply. Now I really don’t care who he chats with because I know he can differentiate safe and positive relationships from unsafe, clandestine ones, so I feel safer. I am so glad Will has made significant progress, for the both of you. An un-recovering sex addict is not a safe person to be in an intimate relationship with, as you know. So glad things are better. How are you feeling physically? xoxo

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      • I agree completely. Our boundary list was very detailed and in the early days, Will got genuinely confused about who was or was not safe and why. Like I posted, those kind of things are now “common sense” to him and it has become more ingrained in him. As far as my health? Well, my BP is down, my cholesterol is down, my weight is down about 35 pounds and I feel so much better. The bad news is that my last pap came back bad again and I have to go for yet another colposcopy…yuck and ouch. That kind of news still brings a lot of anger that Will selfishly exposed me to something that can be life-threatening, but I deal with it and try to take care of myself. So, yeah..it is what it is, right? For now, I am just happy that I am feeling so much better from my surgery and that at seven weeks post-op today, my doctor called me a rock star. 😂 Take care my sweet friend! **Hugs!**

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        • You ARE a rock star!!! It’s nice to be recognized! So glad much of your health is improving. Fingers crossed regarding the other results. This isn’t what we signed up for for sure, but we do the best we can! Big hugs! 🤗

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