Tag Archives: healing

My Internal Debate

14 Oct

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

I still don’t know where all the chips will ultimately fall, but I asked for a separation yesterday.  My husband has been out of the house for over 24 hours now.  I feel a calmness and relief that I never anticipated.

At the same time, I feel sad.  I watched the amazing space jump today, and had to fight myself not to call or text him.  It was a spectacular event to see, and I missed being able to share that with my best friend.  It’s all those small, every day moments that I will miss more than anything – sitting on the couch, holding hands, talking over dinner, cuddling up at night.  Those losses are hard to bear.

I don’t really think it matters what the long version is of why I chose separation.  The short and not-so-sweet version is that he lied to me again.  It was a pretty big lie.  It was also sustained over more than a week.  He lied about getting STD tested, even though in his disclosure he revealed sleeping with up to 50 sexual partners, some (or many) without protection.  He has endangered my health all along by misleading me about his sexual history and his STD testing status.  This last week of lying was the final straw.

The sad part is that he hasn’t acted out sexually in over a year, THAT I KNOW OF.  It doesn’t matter, though.  That inner circle lying behavior just destroys any chance that we have of becoming a healthy couple.  I can’t do it to myself anymore.  I just can’t.

The thing that sticks out in my head from this past week is how easily and convincingly he lied, over and over.  At one point last Friday I confronted him about a breach to our Boundary Agreement.  He got very emotional, said that he was going to change his way of thinking, and seemed to really “get it.”  He went to his SA meeting the next Saturday and confessed that (relatively minor) lie of omission, tears and all.  Meanwhile, he was hiding this huge lie from me and everyone else.  He lied in our last MC session.  He lied over and over during the week (“I’m just waiting for the test results to come in the mail”).  He lied straight to me, even after I had the proof that he never went to get tested.  He made a big show of going down to the clinic to “straighten things out.”  It just makes me feel sick.

That man is not my husband.  That man is not the person who cares for me when I’m sick and rubs my feet at night.  That is not the man whose smile can light up my world.  That is not the man who looked at me with such love in his eyes on our wedding day that he cried as I walked down the aisle.  That is not the person who has slept next to me at night for over 4 years.  That man is not the person I fell in love with.

The man who could lie to me over and over like that is not someone I can live with for the rest of my life.

I need to check out divorce and separation laws in my state.  I need to go get STD tested.  I need to take his name off of my bank account.  I need to look into getting his car out of my name.  I need to figure out what bills still need to be paid and determine how much money he left in our joint account.

I don’t want to do any of it.

I want him to get better.

I want him to WANT to tell me the truth.

I want my best friend back.

I don’t get what I want.

THAT SUCKS!!!

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Choosing to Reconcile

19 Jun

I have been so caught up in the codependent characteristics list the last few days that everything else has been pushed to the side.  Today I read some questions posed by Samantha Baker of Repairing Shattered Pieces on the forum After the Betrayal that got me thinking in a different direction, though.  Here is what she asked:

What made you choose to reconcile with your spouse?
Are you glad?
Are you fearful of another affair in the future?
Do you think that choosing to reconcile was the right decision?
Do you wish you had done anything different?
Do you ever think your spouse got an “easy out”?
Do you ever wonder if you appeared “weak” by choosing reconciliation in your spouses eyes?

So, that is a lot to try to answer, but I decided to take a shot at it.  Rather than use a question/ answer format I’m just going to write down some of my thoughts on the topic and do my best to hit on each of these questions.

Why I chose to reconcile is a complicated thing.  At the beginning of this I would have told you I stayed because I really love him.  He has a kind heart, a positive attitude, and a lot of energy.  We are total opposites in many way, which means that he added things to my life.  He taught me the joys of being spontaneous, introduced me to new foods, and made me cut loose and not take myself so seriously.  I got to know him, as you should with your spouse.  I knew he had faults, and I loved him despite those.  I was able to see past what he did to all of those other things that I didn’t want to cut out of my life.

We were also recently married (the last discovery was only 6 months after our wedding), and I believe in following through with commitments.  I didn’t want to just throw him away, and our marriage along with him, without knowing that I had done everything I could.  I made a promise in front of my entire family, his family, our friends, and everyone who is important to me.  I made that promise to him, but I also made it to myself.  I promised that I would love through thick and thin, better and worse, richer and poorer, and all of that other stuff.  He had betrayed me, but did that mean I should betray him, that promise, and myself in return?  I wasn’t there.

All of those things are still true, but now I have some additional insights.  I’m not a quitter, I hate admitting defeat, and I didn’t want to be a failure.  I didn’t want to be divorced at 26.  I didn’t know what I would do without him, I couldn’t let go of the “ideal marriage” in my head yet, and I couldn’t picture life without him in it.   I was in so much pain, but I felt like making myself the main priority was selfish.  How could I just walk away from everything I had put into this relationship?  From him?  What would he do?  Plus, I told myself that I had done things wrong the last few times I found out about his infidelity and lying.  I should have set firmer guidelines, I should have checked up on him more… I should have, should have, should have.  I felt like this problem was my fault.  I couldn’t walk away and leave him with nothing.  When I saw him so broken and defeated I wanted to help him.  I wanted to fix him.  I wanted to fix us.  In short, I am codependent.

This journey that we are on has taught me that.  It has also taught me more about myself and my husband than I knew at the beginning of the process.  Am I glad I stayed with this instead of walking away?  I feel like a stronger person.  I don’t feel “weak” at all.  This is a much harder road by far than leaving it all behind.   If I kicked him out immediately, there would still be unanswered questions.  There would still be hurt.  His actions probably would have pushed me farther away from my own issues because I would have been able to lump them all together and put them in the back of some dusty closet that I never opened again.  My next relationship most likely would have been impacted, and it would always be there making me feel uncertain, self-conscious, leery, and closed off.   I wouldn’t have worked on myself nearly as much.  In that way, I am benefiting personally from taking a hard look at the ways I contributed.

As for whether he got off “easy” or not, I don’t think so.  If he wants to keep this marriage, he will need to overcome his bad habits, some of which are decades in the making.  He is learning new tools to communicate.  He is figuring out how to deal with tough emotions.  He is working a program.  He is dealing with family of origin issues, boundaries, triggers, and more.  He will have to be vulnerable.  He will have to be honest – not only with me, but with himself – maybe for the first time.

I still have fear, but I am leaving it farther and farther behind everyday.  As I heal myself, I find those paranoid thoughts are fading.  I don’t think about what happened nearly as much as I think about where I’m headed now.  I am realizing what things I can control and what I can’t.  Even if he does have another affair, worrying about it now won’t change that.  It won’t do me any good.  It won’t make him decide not to stray.   All I can do is focus on myself, set boundaries about what I will accept, and be prepared to move on if he doesn’t hold up his end of things.

I do wish sometimes that we had found our current MC earlier.  I wish I had picked up Codependent No More way sooner than 2 weeks ago.  But I’m also letting go of my wish list and “should have” or “what if” thoughts.  I am dealing with each thing that comes up as it comes up.  I am trying not to regret the past because it has brought us here.  That last one is a tough one.  I’m taking it all day by day, though.

Being Positive

22 May

This is something that I am really struggling with right now.  It’s not because I can’t be positive.  It’s not because I don’t have hope.  It’s mostly because of the crazy ups and downs that I briefly posted about late last night (Rollercoaster).

I think out of everything it’s the inconsistency that is the most difficult thing for me.  We really have so many positive things going on.  If you don’t believe me, read back through Being Thankful.  I only listed a few things in that post… there are so many more.

For example, we have been working through some exercises from The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  We are doing at least one every Saturday, and sometimes more.  We have been discovering that our marriage has a much stronger foundation than we thought.  We do well at connecting, romance, affection, and a ton of other stuff.  The things that we need to work on we were already aware of for the most part – like flooding and avoiding harsh start-ups.

I could keep going with my list of positive things, big steps forward, and continued progress.  There are tons of comparisons I could make between where we came from and where we are today.  I generally don’t have a problem looking on the bright side of things.

But when we have a bad day, boy do we have a bad day!  I am the first to admit that my triggers can take control of my emotions and leave me a much different person than the rational, compassionate, positive woman who I normally am.  I can become a downright nightmare.  I have gotten better at recognizing my triggers and handling them in a calm way, but some things really send me over the edge.  Lying is a huge one.

That is why I was surprised last week when my immediate response to finding out lies wasn’t outright anger.  As I admitted, that did come later.  Even the fact that I have a delayed anger reaction I think of as a positive thing.  It means that I am working through those triggers and emotions a little better, even if it is just at the very beginning or the very end.

Last night was not one of those days.  I uncovered a few more lies about his school which I took in stride (for the most part).  But then he really ticked me off about something that is relatively small, especially in the grand scheme of things.  Long story short – we had a huge blow up fight over dinner.  I mean that exactly.  It was over dinner and it was about dinner.  It had more to do with my triggers, his forgetfulness, and my primary love language (Quality Time) than with the actual dinner, but that’s what set it off.

Here’s where the runaway rollercoaster takes over.  Mr. Mess really doesn’t do well handling his anger.  It takes over and turns him into this raging, sarcastic, yelling ball of spite.  He says everything he can think of to make me angry and hurt my feelings, and then he yells over top of anything I try to say in response.  It doesn’t always happen.  In fact, it really hasn’t happened like that in a while.  For the most part our disagreements have been more in the way of conversations.  When I trigger he has been willing to talk to me about it and not get defensive.

Again, that was not last night.  Things got so carried away and out of control that he was threatening divorce.  Well, not really threatening – just saying that he was done, it was over, and he had no desire to keep trying.  It wasn’t a threat, it was reality and it was happening now.  He packed his things and left.  That’s where the whole, “He says everything he can think of to hurt my feelings…” part comes in.  I said some pretty bad stuff, too.  I called him names.  I said he was a liar and a coward who runs away when things get tough.  I’m not going to recount everything, but it was a dirty fight.  He ended up coming home a few hours later and we were able to talk a little bit more sensibly.

I’m not thrilled that things got out of control.  I’m not proud of those moments.  But it doesn’t change everything for me.  The positive things are still positive things.  That was just a really bad night, a really unfortunate fight, and big dip in the rollercoaster.  On the other hand, we can learn from that.  We can figure out what set us off.  How we can react better.  We can renew our promise not to throw divorce around in an argument.  We can take the opportunity to talk about those things that led to all that anger boiling over – unfulfilled promises, realizing each other’s love languages, figuring out how to deal with triggers better, not keeping secrets, and improving communication.

I see this as just another tool to improve our marriage.  Albeit, it’s a crummy, unpleasant tool that could have been avoided.  The only way to know how to do that, though, is to learn from it.  I can be realistic in saying that arguments will happen.  We will have more fights.  It’s just a fact of life, especially the part of life that we are going through.

My husband, though, has such a black-and-white, all-or-nothing mentality that it throws me off.  It is a struggle to be positive for me AND positive for him.  He honestly would have told you things were going great on Saturday.  We had worked through the lying issue, he had a plan of attack, we connected really well over the exercises, and we worked together to clean up the house a bit.  He was on top of the world.

Then after our argument last night he was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.  An argument meant we couldn’t understand each other well, which in turn meant that everything was falling apart, which in turn meant that we may as well divorce.  Saturday the world was sunny and wonderful.  Last night it was dark, gloomy, and despondent.  Saturday the marriage was strong.  Last night it was crumbling.  There is no in between.

I don’t know how to combat that.  Even my positive doesn’t seem to be positive enough for him.  I talk about hope.  He says that means I don’t have faith in him, that I may as well have ended in a big “BUT…”  I tell him I see faith as something religious and irrational.  In fact, the very definition of faith according to the Encarta Dictionary is “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.”

I can’t have that anymore.  Hope is what I have.  I’m proud that I have gotten to this point because several months ago even the sight of the “HOPE” sign above our therapist’s door made me want to scream, tear it off the wall, and stomp on it.  Hope for me means that I can see a brighter future.  The Encarta Dictionary’s definition of hope is “to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.”  That is much more positive in my eyes!  I would much rather be looking hopefully towards something that is possible than having faith in something without logical proof.

So I’m going to keep the dialog open.  I’m going to keep sharing my thoughts, feelings, and yes – my hope.  I’m going to keep seeing shades of gray instead of just black and white because that’s what allows me to keep going on the bad days.  I’m going to hold on tight and do my best to slow down this rollercoaster and get us back on solid ground.  That’s how I’m going to stay positive.

Sex Addiction and Change

8 May

Sex addiction.  It’s a topic I have been avoiding up to this point in my blog.  I haven’t mentioned it yet because I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around the best way to talk about it.  I don’t even know if it’s real in the sense of being an actual disease.  It’s certainly not in the DSM IV.  But people can have incredibly warped sexual behaviors that negatively affect their lives.  That’s what I’m talking about.  I will use the term sex addict throughout this blog for simplicity, and because that’s the only term I know to use for what has caused havoc in my life.  It is the omnipresent elephant in the room.  That’s because my husband is a sex addict.

That was harder for me to write than it should have been.  Sex addiction is something that a lot of people struggle with.  It is similar to other types of addictions like alcohol and drugs.  But it is somehow treated so much differently.  Television makes a big joke out of it.  People glorify sex addiction like it is something wonderful and glamorous – like it just means having sex a lot and liking it.  Sex addiction is dismissed as not real or not really a problem.  Culture continues to promote the idea that sex is great and the more sex the better.  In this society a man who talks about sex addiction is likely to get a high-five and a few laughs.

That’s not sex addiction at all.  Sex addiction in the real world is not fun.  Some people who are heavily addicted to pornography are unable to be aroused by real men or women.  People who struggle with it often feel guilt-ridden and dirty.  They can’t stop even when they want to.  It is a compulsion, it escalates, and they need more and more to be satisfied.  It overtakes lives.  It destroys relationships.  It takes something fun and healthy and twists it into something shameful and unfulfilling.  It hurts people other than just the one who is addicted.  It is difficult to overcome and painful to deal with.

For those of you not familiar with what sexual addiction is, this is what www.everydayhealth.com has to say about sex addiction:

Warning Signs of Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is not rare. Between 12 and 15 million people in the United States have a sexual addiction, according to some estimates.

Indications that a person might have a sex addiction include:

  • Using sex to numb negative feelings or achieve a fleeting high
  • Hiding sexual behaviors from your spouse
  • Feeling that you’ve lost control over your sexual behavior
  • Failing to heed self-imposed limits on your sexual behavior
  • Finding that your sexual behavior has caused you to lose a relationship, fail at your job, or spend less time with your friends and family
  • Knowing that your sexual behaviors could lead to problems in your life if people knew about them
  • Finding that you can’t permanently quit harmful sexual behaviors.  They engage in sexual activity even though they experience negative consequences or truly want to stop what they’re doing.
  • Feeling intense guilt or shame over sexual behavior and your inability to control yourself.   Regretting the pain you’ve caused others through your actions.

How to Spot Sexual Addiction

A sexual addiction can manifest itself in many ways, so you will need to look for a variety of possible warning signs that you or your spouse or partner is a sex addict. Kathryn A. Cunningham, PhD, director of the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, identifies the following possibilities:

  • Sex dominates an individual’s life to the exclusion of other activities.
  • The individual engages in phone sex, computer sex, pornography, use of prostitutes, or exhibitionism.
  • Their preferred sexual behaviors become ritualized, as they repeat similar activities or re-enact certain situations again and again. These behaviors are not necessarily intended to provide orgasm; they may serve to just constantly elevate the person’s arousal levels.
  • The individual has multiple sexual partners or cheats on partners.
  • In extreme cases, the person engages in criminal activities, including stalking, rape, incest, or child molestation.

Does that still sound like fun?  My husband dealt with almost all of those things except the more extreme examples at the end (that I know of).  His sex addiction and pornography habit took him away from a real-life, sexy woman who wanted him (a.k.a. me).  For years I wondered why the man in my life kept rejecting me.  I thought men were supposed to want sex!  Real sex.  With real women.  So why was I always the one asking for it?  Why was he always the one too tired or not in the mood or full of excuses?

Now I know the answer – his sex addiction.  Sound weird and backwards?  It did to me, too.  But apparently it’s not uncommon for a man with a sexual addiction to feel compelled and drawn to pornography, sex chatting, strip clubs, and other “deviant” forms of sexual release.  They wear themselves out with these behaviors and inundate their brains with so many false images and ideas of sex that they are not able to relate sexually to another person who cares for them.  The act of sex becomes disengaged from love, tenderness, and connectedness to someone else.  It becomes preferable to watch increasingly disturbing sexual images, have inappropriate sexual contact with people who are meaningless or even repulsive, and engage in other compulsive behaviors remotely (phone, internet, videos) than to be truly intimate in real life with someone who cares about them.

When I began to understand the truth about sexual addiction, it was terrifying.  We live in the age of rampant internet porn, normalized teen sex, and the increased sexualization and exposure of young children to sexual programs, advertisements and images.  Our society and culture are heading even further down that road every day.  That’s not to say that sex is a bad thing.  I love frequent, creative, “dirty,” wild, amazing sex.  With a committed partner.  Not with strangers or the computer.  But I married a sex addict.  Did that mean our marriage was doomed?  Would he never get better?  Was I better off running away as fast as my legs could carry me?

Obviously, I decided to stay.  I decided to believe in him and us.  I made the choice that if my husband would seek help for and work on his issues, I would give him another chance.  I have asked myself why a few times, and there are a lot of answers.  One reason is that there are people in my family who have struggled with addiction and come through on the other side.  Another is that I love my husband.  Yet another is that he finally admitted and accepted his problems.

Probably the biggest reason, though, is that I believe people can and do change.  I know that change is hard, but it is possible.  Sometimes people do not live consciously.  They repeat old learned behaviors without any sort of thought process being called to action.  My husband’s sexual problems, his compulsive lying, and all of the hurt he caused me were partly conscious decisions but also partly a result of those deeper patterns of behavior and distorted thought.

Still skeptical?  You can probably relate more than you think you can.  Have you ever identified something that you wanted to change?  Overcome shyness?  Make better food choices?  Stop biting your nails?  Quit smoking?  Stop watching so much TV?  Implementing those sorts of changes involves cognitively overriding what would be your normal inclination until the new behavior has become established enough to be your new normal.  It means breaking bad habits, figuring out what leads to those behaviors, finding new ways to respond to your environment, and keeping yourself from backsliding into what is easy, familiar, and routine.  It takes work and committment, but it can happen.  We can change our behaviors and we can overcome addictions.  Humans are very adaptable and resilient like that.

So, getting to my point…  I explained all of that to say this – I am on a difficult journey, my husband has a long road ahead of him, and our marriage will undoubtedly have more challenges in the future, but I have some hope.  That is something I couldn’t have imagined saying a year ago.  In the midst of all this mess, all this yuckiness, all this hurt and darkness, I have found a way to hold onto the promise that things will be okay, no matter what happens.

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