Beyond sobriety

Early Father’s Day hike last weekend in the Columbia River Gorge

Sometimes talking things out is the best way through, and I’m always grateful for this blog. This entry has been sitting here for a while because I started this post and then abandoned it. Some days, weeks, months, I don’t feel like putting my thoughts into words. I guess I would call it a slump.

As I was responding to comments on my last two posts, it dawned on me that it was Blue Eyes’ most recent blog post that set me off. His comment on my poetry post also didn’t much help. I understand him needing a place (his blog) where he can focus on himself, but on my blog, and for our couple-ship, he can do better. I could tear them both apart (his blog post, and his comment on my post), word by word, uncover the root of my frustration, but I’m tired of this conversation already. I don’t want my name on a Mother’s Day post (that’s how long this entry has been sitting here, more than a month) with his Mother. It feels unfair to me. I have been there for him and my boys since day one. I was never his or anyone’s abuser and it is completely unfair that I was treated so poorly. And per his blog, sorry Blue Eyes, but just being present is not and never was enough for me. I need more. I need a caring, loving partner who predicts my needs and then meets them. If I can’t have that, then I choose to be alone.

I have a beautiful life. I really hope Blue Eyes decides he wants to continue to do the work necessary to live this beautiful life with me. This part IS about me now. Maybe his cheating and betrayal wasn’t about me, it was about his childhood wounds morphing into a very selfish coat of armor to protect his abused and battered ego. Maybe his misguided attempts to soothe himself were incredibly cruel and caused me seemingly limitless pain, but technically weren’t about me, but now, what he does now is totally about me. It’s the consequence, if you will, of the cruelty, of the abuse, of the neglect. He didn’t think about me before… when he was doing what he was doing, living in his addiction, he blocked me out. That won’t work anymore.

On a recent business trip, I asked Blue Eyes if he thought he would ever act out sexually again, and if not, why not? I was glad he sat with the question for a few minutes. I truly wanted to hear his response, now, in recovery year six. One of the big issues we have as a couple is that I tend to view things in a bigger frame. I can see consequences a mile away. I know who I am and how I want to behave in order to feel good about myself. I was taught these skills by my mother when I was very young. I didn’t know anything else. By this point, dear readers, I think we all know what was lacking in Blue Eyes’ upbringing. Blue Eyes lives in the moment, putting himself and his needs first in most scenarios, and his coping skills are lacking. His answer to my question was threefold: 1) no, because he doesn’t want to feel those feelings of shame and disgust, again, 2) no, because he doesn’t want to lose his sobriety, going on six years now, that accomplishment is very important to him, and 3) no, because he doesn’t want to lose me, our partnership, what we have, our family.

I was surprised and pleased that his first two responses (to this particular question) were about and for himself. After all, being true to himself and being that better person, for himself, is incredibly important and the foundation for any honest relationship be it husband, father, boss, friend, whatever. I also appreciate his third reason since acting out sexually is a deal breaker for our marriage at this point, but what bothers me is that I feel like he understands why sexually acting out, and the behavior associated with it, is a problem, but the understanding stops there. This is why I asked him specifically about something he knows is a problem for his recovery, for our relationship, etc… I’m just surprised that he doesn’t seem to get how the rest of his behaviors are also destructive to his recovery and destructive to our relationship. His workaholism. His decisions to keep things bottled up inside and not communicate with me when I ask him to, or more importantly when he needs to, the bottling up of anger & resentment in his daily life… those are also deal breakers. Finding out our partners are sex addicts is not about finding out they are “addicted to sex.” Sex is the drug, not the underlying issue. The underlying issues are where the real healing resides. Beyond all the gritty and gross details, beyond sobriety, beyond empathy, beyond honesty, is the source of the addiction.

On a lighter note, we had a wonderful Father’s Day celebration at our house. My amazing Step Dad, the one with prostate cancer (still in his spine, but staying there) turned 79 and is otherwise the picture of health. His son, my Step Brother, the survivor of adult onset Leukemia and a bone marrow transplant, was here, and doing well. He brought his grandson, and his oldest son. The rest of the family was here, except our oldest who is back in Brooklyn. Despite not having contact with his own Father, I think Blue Eyes had a nice weekend. On Saturday he attended a Meditation Retreat. Sunday was about family. But that’s the difference between me and Blue Eyes you see, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, everyone knows my mood. With Blue Eyes, he often tucks his emotions deep inside, and puts on a good show.

12 thoughts on “Beyond sobriety

  1. It’s interesting that you mention ego my friend. Have you ever read the Tao? Or any other philosophy for that matter. They all say how ego is in fact our enemy. It lies to us, turns us into awful people, distresses us, and makes us miserable, but still it is so hard to see when it has reared its ugly head. You know I love the way you write, your journey at times is so clear. Sending a hug (hope you know about my name change.❤️)

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  2. “Sex is the drug, not the underlying issue.” This is so true, CK. Unfortunately, at least for me, getting past the horror of the sex disclosures has been very painful. So much time and energy spent dealing with that bullshit. So much negative energy. But apparently I had to work through it. I remember at one point I couldn’t tell my story without the step by step description of everything he did in his acting out. I’m not sure why? I couldn’t just say he acted out. Finally in year 3 I’m beginning to let all that go. Once in awhile I get triggered by something but I’m able to let it go. I feel a fleeting sadness but that’s about it.

    Now I’m ready to get to know the real husband. I guess we’ll see where that goes. xoxo

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    • I think with sex addiction there is a desire (need) to explain to people what it is and how it exhibited itself since most people have no reference. We’re also so traumatized that I think explaining it out loud helps us metabolize it, if ever so slowly.

      Not being constantly triggered is a major accomplishment in healing. I’m so glad you’ve crossed that hurdle. Time does help.

      I hope getting to know the real husband brings more peace to your life. You deserve it!

      ❤️

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  3. I just love the way you carefully, thoughtfully analyse and work out what works for you. And the way you write about it helps us all so much. Thank you, CK. And I hope BE can start to track stuff better as time goes on, eg, the workaholism xxx

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    • Honestly the workaholism seems to be more difficult to tackle. He has to work, so the balance is the challenge. I guess kind of like eating disorders. Finding a healthy balance in all things. We’re all works in progress. Thanks for the encouragement. Always so very much appreciated! 😘

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  4. Once again, Kat, you describe my feelings exactly. Although Will is SO much different (read: better) in recovery and the improvement is nothing short or miraculous, I still need more. I want to be as important and needed to him as his addiction used to be. I’m hopeful that it is only a matter of more time. ❤️

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    • Addicts, I have learned, are selfish people. It’s how they learned to survive. Many of them are also great liars and actors. I know BE wants to be and do better, but in our case, his addiction was actually the glue that held his life together. He definitely functions better now than in years 1-4, but I also notice him slipping back into some old bad habits. He’s managing, but just barely. xo

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      • I understand that glue. My hub has so many emotions on the surface now, and it’s challenging for him. Better than being bottled up, though. I wonder if shame is ever truly healed for these guys? A therapist I saw who was trained in betrayal trauma gave me some good advice – – – “You’ll have to decide if what he has to give is enough for you.” Interesting, b/c I am getting some hypnotherapy for the trauma now and she advised the same thing. Only we can decide if we have “enough” – – – there is no perfect, that’s for sure.

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        • So true, beleeme. Only we can decide what we need and if we’re getting it. It’s a pretty prevalent internal battle with me, but I wouldn’t still be with my husband if I didn’t think it was the right path for me. It’s just hard on some days to remember all the good things. ❤️

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          • Hugs, Kat. I have an internal battle too. For me, today I wondered if I expect so much now b/c I have the realization of how much I missed out on. This issue creeps slowly into a marriage and we spouses don’t know what’s going on. It’s not sudden like a car crash; it’s like water eroding a rock. I guess I’m resentful (still) about how much was withheld, so I want more? Maybe. Marriage isn’t easy; that’s for sure. More hugs.

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            • Big big hugs back, beleeme. Yea, marriage isn’t easy even without SA. I think for me, helping the people around me feel happy was a big part of my identity as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. The betrayal was like a huge slap in the face. And it hurt. BE wasn’t happy, and not only that, he was willing to do things that destroyed my happiness. It takes time to get past these things. I think it’s not only okay, but necessary to metabolize all this in such a deep way… there’s no such thing as “just getting over it.” ❤️❤️❤️

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