What if…

My-Dark-Passenger

What would my life be like right now if I had chosen to walk away from my marriage at discovery of my husband’s secret life? Or any time before that? Or, what if he had chosen to walk away at some point, any point. Where would I be right now?

As The Shrink once said about “obvious” red flags in my relationship with my husband, going back to flirting with girls in the library in front of me when we were 20 years old, to the sexual pass at my unstable sister when we were newlywed, to a pornographic email on his laptop in 2005, more than 20 years into our relationship, two kids at my hip “obvious signs of a sex addict.” Well, fuck me sideways (binge watching Dexter, channeling Deb) who knew? And there were other “signs” as well. Like the email from a friend (when email was brand new and we shared an account) who asked Blue Eyes to back off as he was crossing an obvious line for a married guy… an email I found in the trash, but that was blown off with a comment about mental instability of said friend. She was definitely reading something into it that clearly wasn’t there. I NEVER worried about Blue Eyes and female friends. He was in love with me. Why would I be jealous? I wasn’t. Have all the friends you want, dear husband, I trust you.

In 1984, and 1989, and even in 2005, I had no idea what sexual addiction was. If a person wanted out of a relationship, in my mind, they left. If Blue Eyes wanted to be with one of the girls in the Uni library, he could have. I wasn’t stopping him. We barely knew each other. I knew he didn’t want to be with my hysterical, drunk most of the time, often violent younger sister. And I saw the woman’s photo who was writing the pornographic emails… she was (is) hideous looking. Well, joke’s on me, people. It’s not about their looks (ala Arnold Schwarzenegger/Maria Shriver/Patti Baena) when you are talking about a sex addict, and in the end, my husband’s affairs weren’t about me, or leaving me.

No one is perfect and I thought I knew, or could at least understand what drove Blue Eyes to his flirtatious encounters. Low self esteem. I knew it was all about him feeling desired, boosting his ego. What I didn’t know is that he didn’t know how to process love because he had been deprived of it from infancy. He married me and we had a loving family, but that wasn’t enough. His addiction preceded us. I think Blue Eyes is one lucky son of a bitch. He met me and pursued me and I saw the good, because that’s who I am. I soldiered through the tough times, being understanding and compassionate, putting up with the abuse from his family of origin. Our children are amazing and they love their father despite his eccentricities and all the absences and neglect, because I loved their father. They saw him through my eyes.

The facts are clear that Blue Eyes never wanted to walk away. He wouldn’t have left. He had something great with me and the boys and all he needed was to round out the emptiness with his sex addiction, his fucking dark passenger (thank you, Dexter). I gave him his space, his privacy, his ability to carry on with his addiction for the entire 30 years we were together. He used that freedom to feed his beast. He needed it to feel whole. What he presented to us was a much more stable man than he actually was. Without his addiction, his life would have been unmanageable. He never addressed the source of the demons.

In the end, there really are no “what ifs.”  I had no idea my husband cheated on me or had a secret sex life. All his past transgressions (before discovery) seemed like weakness of character, but not criminal acts. He flirted. He was away a lot on business. Some things just didn’t add up, but, you know, no one is perfect. If he had done something worthy of divorce, I would be divorced. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. When I did find out about his secrets, I was devastated. The only thing that makes this whole scenario palatable is that it was never about me. Yes, he was willing to throw me under the bus. He was willing to cheat and lie to me and about me. He was willing to throw away our vows, well really, obliterate his vows, but none of that happened because of me or anything I did. I cannot really imagine any of this happening any other way. He needed to realize that his secret life was not saving him, it was killing him. When he did that, all was exposed. Recovery from addiction is a life long process. The desire to medicate deep wounds does not just vanish, it has to be managed. He’s doing that, but even in year six of recovery, he slips up.

To be continued…

58 thoughts on “What if…

  1. Men are pigs. I feel bad for married women because all husbands cheat. I have slept with many married men in my time, and I hate to say it, but not one married man has ever turned me down. I even say “are you sure you want to do this because you’re married”, and every time these married men tell me, “my wife won’t find out” or they lie and say that they are separated.

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    • I understand what you are saying, Jenny. Thankfully sex isn’t the end all be all of life. It’s a small and insignificant part to me. The real issue for me is the lying. I’m not sure my comment at 55 years old would be that men are pigs, but that men are weak. I have two 20-something sons, whom I adore. I tried (really hard) to raise them to be thoughtful, kind, and respectful of all people. My husband was raised by a narcissist bitch who told him every day he wasn’t good enough. He could be far worse, far weaker than he actually is at this point. The sex for him was not only about getting off, but was about filling a void left by a woman who should never have had children. All that preceded me and our marriage. Of my husband’s siblings, his brother has committed suicide, and the sister is incredibly fucked up, just doesn’t use sex as a tool, whereas both brothers did. I haven’t read your blog, but it sounds like you take great pride in your ability to fuck married men. Why? What is your story. We can all say it’s because we enjoy sex, but it’s almost never truly about that. If you are not looking for a commitment, married men are easy as they definitely don’t want another commitment, they’ve already got tons of those. They also all use the same excuses. We know that. Marriage is about a lot more than who we decide to fuck.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I sleep with non married men also. I don’t seek out married men at all. I never said I was a good person either…I just know that married men are scared to be honest with their wives so they tell other women the things they would love to tell their wife if he knew she wouldn’t get mad at him for telling her.

        I think I’ve upset you and that wasn’t my intention.

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        • If you’ve read any of my blog, Jenny, you know I don’t upset easily, but I do shoot from the hip as they say. As my mother always likes to point out, we were all 20-something’s at one time. It’s a time to figure things out. I’m not upset, or judging. Not that it probably matters to you in the scheme of things, but the men sleeping with you are lying to you too! It’s a thing. Some might even say they’re married to avoid any commitments. Some women claim to want nothing but sex, but they actually want more (like all the women my husband slept with). They just wanted a little fun, but then after a couple hook ups, how about a date, or just a little weekend trip away from the wife. Men aren’t as stupid as they seem sometimes. My husband told the women what they wanted to hear or at least what he thought they wanted to hear. My husband is a “nice” guy with a lot of money. He had an agenda and he stuck to it. He’s an addict. For him most of the hits actually came from the texting, sexting, emailing, chatting. I will go read your blog. Thanks for sharing.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I do care about your opinion or I wouldn’t have chimed in, so what you say does matter to me. I actually do not want to be in a relationship at this time because I do enjoy sex very much and I haven’t met a man yet that wants to share me with others.

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            • Open relationships, from what I hear, can be challenging. Many wives of sex addicts actually offer up an open relationship to try and make the relationship with their husband work because they think the issues with the addict revolve around sex, but they don’t. A lot of cheaters and addicts are mortified to think of their partner with another person. The most important issue for all of us, in my opinion, is to get to the bottom of why we do what we do or why we want things we want. If you meet someone you want to spend a lot of time with, but they don’t want to be in a polyamorous relationship, would you give it up? Sexual intimacy can create a very strong bond that many of us don’t want shared with others. If you couldn’t have sex anymore, could you still be happy? Are you happy? I understand writing the book. I’m sure a lot of people would read it. But is that more important than a strong intimate bond with someone, even if it doesn’t last forever? Also, you are young. Maybe you will find the perfect polyamorous mate, or maybe your desires will change.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Kat, this post says it all. Your last comment sums it up. “We have to metabolize the monstrousness of their lies and betrayal, then realize we can’t help them and then we need to heal ourselves, by ourselves and for ourselves.” This is the journey. Three years in and I see that now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read BE’s post and it broke my heart… for you. You were so excited about your trip and then it sounds like you ended up taking addict-BE with you instead of the loving, recovering husband you wanted to be there with. I’m so sorry that happened. And, if I’m honest, I’m terrified that 6 years out crap like this still happens. I guess it never ends?? Good grief that’s sad.

    I’m curious as to how you handled his behavior, particularly being away from home. Do you point out what’s going on and insist he call his sponsor or do a meeting or do you just focus on self-care? If you go the self-care route, does it change his behavior at all (either for better or for worse)?

    I can also relate to your line about your children: “Our children are amazing and they love their father despite his eccentricities and all the absences and neglect, because I loved their father. They saw him through my eyes.” Yep. I’ve eaten many a shit-sandwich so my kids wouldn’t have to and to preserve their relationship with him. They’ll likely never know the lengths I’ve gone to in order to save our family in the wake of their dad’s addiction. That’s okay. They don’t need the burden, but my husband – like BE – does need to appreciate that effort and demonstrate that he recognizes that he is one incredibly lucky man.
    xo

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    • Hey lady, yeah it seems BE wanted to get his admission out before I could write about it. He knew what was coming. This is one of the reasons I keep writing about living with a sex addict. It’s a very very long haul.

      I’ll write in more detail in my next post, but bottom line, I still had a fantastic time. Most of what BE does now doesn’t bother me. He works, I read by the pool. We still spend plenty of time together and sometimes I like being alone. He wants sex (in hotels especially, all the time), I do what’s best for me. He looks at women at the pool. I tell him I see him and remind him of all the reasons that behavior is bad for both of us. He doesn’t groom anymore, at least not around me. I wasn’t even going to write about any of that, but he continues to feel bad and that’s on him. I did ask him to talk with his therapist about it to offload the guilt/shame, whatever. My issue is with a situation at the airport that did bother me, a lot. I’ll write it out. Him reading my blog actually sometimes helps him understand me better. But I’m fine. Nothing sticks with me for long anymore. Short answer to your question above, I steer him towards his own self care. Not sure if you follow my Instagram… he went over and meditated with the buddha near the pool, read his books. I took a photo without his knowledge and posted it. He doesn’t do social media. He may have called his SA friend as well. I’m not sure.

      I’m grateful that BE does value me and everything I have done both before and after discovery to keep our family as whole and connected as possible. He knows he’s lucky! I remind him a lot too! 😉❤️

      Liked by 4 people

  4. This is so hard to read. I can’t relate on any level with sex addiction but I sure can in betrayal.
    That you stayed with him is just remarkable to me…which means you are a remarkable person.
    (Still looking forward to traveling.) 😊😘

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  5. Great read Kat –> “in the end, my husband’s affairs weren’t about me, or leaving me,” and, “He needed to realize that his secret life was not saving him, it was killing him. When he did that, all was exposed.”

    And this is the difficulty of course. Without a center I think other people’s hurts and behaviors are somehow about me and that I am obligated to can fix or solve the problems. I told my doctor today the patterns in my relationship with my xp was built around the idea I was the hero and she was my queen and it was my role to protect her.

    My decision to fuck my ex-wife is about one thing, the secret keeping and escalating series of lies is about something else. Those acts are only tangentially related. The latter two are unskillfulness in dealing with my anxieties.

    As always, great writing. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • RC, I see how hard you are working. I hope you are able to get to a point in therapy where your xp isn’t the focus. She doesn’t want nor deserve the newer, better you. We are all evolving! We all make mistakes. We all deserve to be treated with respect!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Our children are amazing and they love their father despite his eccentricities and all the absences and neglect, because I loved their father. They saw him through my eyes.”

    This speaks to me so much. It’s selfish, I know. But it’s the truth. What kind of person would they see him as, if it wasn’t for me being the supporting coach and cheerleader and excuse-er? You.are.welcome, W, that they see you as anyone integral to their wonderful lives at all. (Even though we can’t very well EVER TELL THEM so.) i.e. “He was only there because I orchestrated the biggest fight>resulting guilt trip EVER IN THE HISTORY OF GUILT TRIPS. And my face looks so fat because I was trying to SMILE my urge to cry back into my cheese-eating cheeks, so you wouldn’t see…”

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    • Our kids were grown (mostly, they’re boys) at discovery. Like me they had no clue about their father’s secret life, but they saw my love. They know pretty much everything now. They still love their father. He continues to make amends, but yeah… we deserve decent husbands (at least) as our reward for being kick ass wives and mothers. 👊🏻

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  7. “What he presented…much more stable man…” – – – I just recently expressed this to my husband. Of course I don’t want him to act out, yet when he was doing that, and working like mad, he was much more stable. I’ve seen Dexter, and I get your analogy “the dark passenger.”

    Most people who haven’t been through this would probably think what I said is crazy (how he seemed more stable then). I don’t care what they think. I know he used to be more balanced – I could ask him for feedback, advice, whatever, and he could be a supportive, wise man & husband. I respected him, his work, and I appreciate what he provided as a husband. And I, too, had NO IDEA what was going on, b/c I trusted him.

    BTW, that’s what spouses/partners are supposed to do – trust – it’s actually a very good thing, and there’s nothing wrong with us that we trusted. What is wrong is what they did and how it harmed us. They can’t “fix us” though – we have to take care of ourselves. I know you know that, Kat. ❤

    It's very hard to live with a blame-filled, excuse-making, adolescent male victim – that's what I have right now. He's working at it, and he recently started to immerse himself in work, but it takes a LOT of freaking time, and his, my, our healing process was significantly delayed and affected by his psych breakdown.

    People wonder why we stay (some don't stay). It's about the attachment bonds we have with our mates. (Have you read any of Dr. Sue Johnson's work?) I listened to a podcast this morning with R. Weiss and Michelle Mays. Apparently, 70-80% do stay and we are often shamed and criticized for doing so (by therapists or others who just don't get it).

    It's hard, Kat. I hope my rambling reply makes some sense. I suppose I just wanted to say, "I hear you."

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    • I think a reason a lot of people stay is because they have a cognitive distortion about the spouse – that “he really is a good guy underneath it all’ – despite ALL evidence to the contrary. I think we get so deeply invested in that idea – and it probably relates to the attachment bond – that there is a kind of splitting of the person we thought we knew, and the person about whom every shred of evidence is completely different. I also think there is also a strong urge for women to attempt to re-parent the broken husband, meaning “I know you were hurt and unloved (or much worse), but I know you are really good underneath it all.” No, they’re not. They are selfish assholes…their addiction(s) became who they are, not what they do. Only with tremendous will can they become someone else. It is very sad, to be sure.

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      • I actually do think BE is a good person underneath it all. That’s why I stay. There is A LOT of positive in there, along with the broken. Prior to discovery I never babied BE. I knew he needed to grow up. We met at 20. We both had a lot of growing up to do. I could see how he struggled with his parents, I just couldn’t see the addiction. It wasn’t obvious like alcohol or drugs, but it was obviously there all along. After discovery this was one of the most frustrating aspects of BE’s long term affair. She babied him. She gave him whatever he wanted. He didn’t even have to work for it. I think she exacerbated the problem leading BE to eventually caving under the pressure of the duplicitous life. The stress outweighed the hits. He quite literally fell apart and took me along with him. I no longer feel sad, just tired sometimes.

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          • I had to look up NOTL, it sounds wonderful. DO IT! The first time I went away it was 9 months post discovery and I was lonely for BE much of the time. We didn’t have a bad marriage. I loved being with him as we were so often apart when our kids were growing up. But then I got to the point where I longed for alone time and I have taken it and loved it since year two. I look forward to it! ❤️

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          • Butting in… I love NOTL. I was just there in September. I live in nw PA and it’s less than 3 hours drive for me. We stayed at a great b&b. It was the first anniversary we’ve acknowledged and celebrated in a few years. Probably some great deals right now.

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        • I stayed b/c there is a lot of positive in my husband too. I don’t think this stuff is either-or, all good or all bad. So much a gray area issue. I don’t want to rescue him. I can’t. I certainly don’t want to “mother” him – I’d prefer a grown-up husband. I hope he takes advantage of the help he’s getting and that he works on getting well. I need my energy for me, dammit. 😉

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            • Never before or after discovery did I attempt to Re-parent or mother him, but his other woman did. That’s all I’m saying. Also fully believe and steered BE in the direction of therapy both before and after discovery. A place where an enlightened person might go to deal with FOO issues.

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              • I wasn’t really talking about you with that comment, I certainly don’t mean to put you in a defensive position and apologize that it seems I did.

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                • Just speaking to the comment about the strong urge for women to attempt to re-parent. That is not the case with me or most of the women I know. When our husbands fall apart, at least when mine did, and start digging into FOO issues, they/he wanted to be nurtured. It was what he asked for from his OW (with sex included, which makes it very distasteful) after all, but it was all fake. I need a partner, not a child. I’m not defensive, just talking about my specific situation. It’s what I do. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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  8. Found an excellent podcast on the Stitcher app: Sex, Love, and Addiction 101, Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction. The host is Robert Weiss who has a website – http://www.sexandrelationshiphealing.com
    I think you will find some interesting information there, especially about the relationship between narcissism and addiction (he believes all addicts are narcissists), trauma and addiction, and family of origin stuff.
    Hugs!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I listened to that too. There are some very helpful podcasts on that site. Also – some of the podcasts through Betrayal Trauma Radio have helpful to me. The host is Carol the Coach. Both she and Rob Weiss interview other experts in the field.

      Through access to those sources, the trauma I have experienced has been validated.

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      • I think the greatest value of resources like those are to tell you that you are IN ABSOLUTELY NO WAY responsible for ANY of it. As they say in Al-Anon, you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. It is so hard to separate whatever human mistakes you may have made, which in a relationship with someone who is not an addict may have contributed to whatever problems there are; that is not the case with an addict. I think that is a very clear and consistent theme that Kat has written about for a very long time.

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    • Thanks, B. To be honest, I don’t listen to podcasts or read much at all about sex addiction anymore. I only know my life and my sex addict and that’s really all I can handle. There are a lot of people out there talking in generalities and it doesn’t help me much, tbh. I also think the term narcissism is thrown around a lot these days. I have definitely heard of Weiss. BE has narcissistic tendencies, i.e., his first survival instinct is to always think of himself first, while mine is the opposite. We’re very different people. I firmly believe BE’s mother has full blown NPD. I don’t know how she got that way, and I don’t care. She checks every box and it is destructive (to say the least) to be around her. BE has taken numerous tests, questionnaires and has been in therapy for 9 years and although he is a consummate liar, not one therapist he has seen has marked him a narcissist. I know what BE suffers from. I do very much always appreciate your input. I will listen to the podcast this morning on our plane to LA. You never know. I do feel pretty enlightened at this point, however, about my particular situation. Enjoy your day! I hear it’s been cold back there! xo

      Liked by 3 people

      • He’s not saying they are NPDs. He is saying that when they are active in their addiction they are narcissists, everything is about them, etc. I do understand the difference well, having a raging NPD mother, with whom I have not spoken in 22 years…

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          • Less than 1% of the population suffers from NPDs.

            Everytime a layperson uses the term to describe behavior they don’t like based on a clickbait article or armchair psychology it makes it harder for people to find the real help they need. Having an affair doesn’t make a person a narcissist just like lying isn’t gaslighting and getting hurt isn’t abuse.

            It’s one of the most overused and misleading labels casually tossed at infidelity

            Liked by 1 person

      • The podcast addressed how the term Narcissism is thrown around a lot with SAs. Someone can have narcissist tendencies – really any addict has some of those tendencies – but that doesn’t mean they are a full-blown Narcissist (NPD). Weiss’s explanation was quite good, and humble, really – he admitted to having those tendencies and how some of the traits can actually be a good thing.

        For me, the podcast didn’t get me “riled up” like some of the info (or misinformation) out there.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I still haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast. We’re traveling, meetings etc… none of this gets me riled up anymore. In the beginning I would hurt when I read or heard about people talking about sex addiction when they clearly had zero experience with it. I never denied my husband was an addict or assumed he was just a cheating asshole. I do appreciate specialists in the field who understand and treat both the SAs and the traumatized partners. We received great help with this in Los Angeles. Narcissism is definitely an oft thrown around term for people doing unsavory things, and as RC said above, makes it difficult for people to get real help, or salvage relationships. I’m very familiar with the term because of my mother in law and only use it in terms of NPD, which is a serious personality disorder. I’m sure there is lots of other good information in the podcast and I intend to listen. xo

          Liked by 2 people

  9. This, this, this!!! Ah, Kat…I could have written this about me. Every. Single. Point.
    Now…if I can just remember that it was never my fault or lack of appeal or desirability or etc, etc, etc…..🙄
    Why is that always the hard part for me? I mean, I’ve SEEN or KNOWN some of the women he was with and, well, they are truly gag-worthy. This addiction, unlike any other, is so completely mind-boggling!

    Liked by 4 people

    • ❤️ First we have to metabolize the monstrousness of their lies and betrayal, then realize we can’t help them, and then we need to heal ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves. We ARE stronger because of all we have endured. You are amazing. xoxo

      Liked by 4 people

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