The phone call from the other woman happened on a dreary January Saturday afternoon in 2014. The Seahawks were set to play at 1:35pm and we were planning to watch the game in our family room with our son. He struggles with an anxiety disorder, and had recently returned mid-term from his sophomore year of college in Maine. I had never been a fan of American football, at all, until this son. The Peacemaker begged to play when he was in the third grade. He played tackle football for five years before deciding for himself that it was just too dangerous. When your baby is out on that field, you forget how much you never liked the sport, and you figure it out. You learn to appreciate it, somehow.
On January 11, 2014, Marshawn Lynch ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns, Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals in blustery conditions and Seattle’s defense flustered Drew Brees and New Orleans in a 23-15 victory in the NFC divisional playoff game. (espn.com)
That happened to also be the year the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. It had been an exciting year for pro football for us up in the Pacific Northwest and it was also the year our son decided to stop watching football after reading and researching the level of brain damage suffered by pro players.
We actually never did watch that January afternoon football game in 2014.
At about 1:00pm on that Saturday, I received the phone call from the other woman letting me know my husband had had a relationship with her for many years. My whole world blew apart on that day, and our son was right there with me. I know there are lots of people who have been able to keep their secrets from their children, even their adult children. That was simply not the case for me. Our son is intuitive and he was right there, asking me if I was still going to watch the game with him.
The first time he came into my room, I was still in shock. I was waiting for his father to come clean. I was waiting for the truth from a man I had been with for 30 years. From a man I thought I knew. I sent my son away and told him we would be in shortly. The next time he came to me (he knows how distracted I can get) he knew. He knew something was drastically wrong. Despite my initial attempts to keep my emotions in check, I just couldn’t. When I say he was there with me, he was physically, emotionally and mentally there with me. That’s not necessarily how I wanted things to play out, but at that point, I didn’t have a choice. It just was.
There were many days when I hid the severity of my trauma from him because there was no way I wanted him to have to suffer through my pain, but there were some days when it was inevitable that he see me raw. I look back now and can only imagine how awful this all was for him, but I also know there was no way I could have done things any differently.
The phone call was on a Saturday afternoon. By Saturday evening Blue Eyes had left a message for his therapist saying he needed to see him as soon as possible. By Monday he had an appointment with the therapist. Although the therapist knew Blue Eyes had “issues,” and at this point he had been seeing him for almost four years, since his brother’s suicide, Blue Eyes had never come clean about his cheating, obsessive porn viewing, his grooming behaviors, and all the rest. Once he did though, the therapist immediately diagnosed him with a process disorder and he named it sexual addiction. Although this therapist, himself an attorney, and a recovered alcoholic, continued to see Blue Eyes for a few months, he also suggested two things: 1) that Blue Eyes immediately check himself in to The Meadows in Arizona (like that week!), and 2) that Blue Eyes enlist the services of a local Sex Addiction (CSAT) specialist.
Blue Eyes did end up calling the CSAT. He did not call The Meadows in Arizona. There was so much fear for the both of us during this time, those first couple months post discovery and diagnosis. Blue Eyes did see the recommended CSAT for a few months, but then it ended quite badly. I was never fond of this man and although he claimed to be a recovered sex addict himself, my vibe was that he was certainly profiting from his knowledge of sex addiction, but he was not recovered. I’ve written about this before. From my experience, really good therapy is hard to come by.
We talked about Blue Eyes going to in-patient. I was afraid that my trauma would worsen with him away. After all, the vast majority of his acting out happened while he was away from me and intellectually I knew he wouldn’t be acting out in a rehab environment, but emotionally, at the beginning, I was afraid of the emptiness. I was afraid my pain and loneliness might propel me to a place where I would no longer want to work it out. It was difficult enough to try and heal with him there reminding me he loved me and wanted to be with me. What would happen if he suddenly wasn’t there. I was being selfish. He should have gone to rehab.
From his perspective, I think he was afraid of rehab for numerous reasons. Rehab was a complete unknown, and he would be away from work (a co-addiction). I was also a bit worried about this since Blue Eyes is our company’s sole sales person. We spent quite some time trying to figure out a “good” time for him to go to rehab. The new CSAT was recommending against it, but I think it’s because he didn’t want to lose a new patient, and the intensive hours and money that go along with a new patient. I think Blue Eyes was afraid of such a drastic change to his environment. I think he was afraid of being in a really uncomfortable place. He didn’t want everything to change so completely overnight. There was also the factor of money. It’s not that we didn’t have the money, he just doesn’t like to spend money and this was a lot of money. Couple that with the fact that none of his 12-step brothers had been to rehab. None.
The aspects of rehab that looked really positive to me, for him, however, were that many of the facilities worked a whole body approach. At the same time that he was receiving therapeutic help for his warped brain function, he would also be practicing mindfulness, and treating his body well with a healthier eating style, yoga, and other core strength classes. Then there was equine therapy, and exercise. The Arizona and California facilities boasted great weather and gorgeous campuses. I felt it was really important that if we were going to spend the money, that every part of his body was treated because every part of his body had been abused.
In the end, he didn’t go to in-patient rehab. He did do the 9-day intensive with Omar Minwalla through The Institute for Sexual Health, but that was only nine days and it was out-patient. Although this intensive was a catalyst for Blue Eyes’ recovery, it wasn’t a replacement for in-patient therapy, in my opinion. With the clarity of hindsight, I think he should have gone to an inpatient facility that first summer.
Although Blue Eyes hasn’t really struggled with remaining sober, he has struggled with a balanced lifestyle. I can’t say for sure if things would be different now if Blue Eyes had attended rehab for 4, 6, 8, even 12 weeks. My instinct is that rehab would have been worth it. I think he would have learned other really valuable tools in rehab that don’t go directly to staying sober, but go to lifestyle choices. He still needs so much help managing his stress, his workaholism, his mood swings. There’s most likely an undiagnosed personality disorder beneath it all and rehab is a good place to get to the bottom of that.
In hindsight, I should have pushed him towards rehab from the beginning.