Tag Archives: Sexuality

Not Only Do I Have An Addictive Personality, I Also Have An Addictive Blog!

12 Oct

Wow…  Where did this week go?  Here is it Friday, and I’ve barely had a chance to talk to you guys this week.  I know that no one is waiting with bated breath for the words that come out of my fingertips.  🙂  Still, I like to blog because writing is such a cathartic thing for me.  I also like to think that my story and experiences help some, or at least are interesting and slightly entertaining.

I don’t know about the first part, but I did get confirmation this week that my blog is addictive.  Whether I’m addictive like Lay’s (you can’t eat just one) or like cocaine, I’m not really sure.  Neither are particularly good for you, but at least the former just gives you greasy fingers and a little padding on your hips.

Seriously, though, two wonderful and talented women nominated me for an award this week.  Being Her, (the other woman)… nominated me here, and our24yeargap nominated me here.

Now for the Rules:

Thank the person awarding you.  Share a little about why you blog and how the journey started. Paste the blog award on your page. Nominate 10 other bloggers you feel deserve the award.

I don’t have to be told to thank the two ladies who nominated me because they are truly fantastic.  I never imagined that I would feel such kinship, empathy, and connection to “the other woman,” but Being Her has bared her soul and shared her unique situation in a way that made those things possible.  Addiction has also touched her life in a very real, very devastating way, and I appreciate that she has given me a window into her world.  I found our24yeargap because we share the bond of loving older men.  She has since won my heart with her raw, honest commentary on life and the beautiful photographs that she takes.  I only hope that those close to her in “real life” can begin to acknowledge and recognize her talents and beauty, inside and out.

As for why I blog and where my journey started, I share a lot of that on my What Brought Me Here page.  Here’s the longer, brutally honest version.  I didn’t enter this blogging world intending to start a blog of my own.  On the contrary, I never understood blogging.  I know I made more than one negative joke about how everyone in the world seems thinks they have something that the rest of us care to read about – NOT!  I despised everything about blogging, especially the stupid name…  Who came up with that anyway?  And why exactly did it stick?

Then a friend shared a few links to his blog on Facebook.  I checked it out – mostly to support him, but also because I did think he had something to say that was worth reading.  I soon discovered other bloggers that commented on his posts, and realized some of their stuff was pretty interesting.  Then I read a post about infidelity that evoked very strong emotions in me.  For the first time ever, I responded to a blog other than my friend’s.  In fact, I wrote so much and got such a positive response that I realized I had something to say on the topic.  My blog was born.

Since then, my blog has morphed from a commentary on infidelity to one that touches on sex addiction, marital recovery, S-Anon, Retrouvaille, pornography, and even completely unrelated subjects like food, travel, and zombies.  What this blog has become for me is a place where I can bare my soul and talk about whatever passion or topic is currently on my mind.  It has become my refuge, my sounding board, a place where I have met great friends, continue to grow and change, and publish insights as I uncover them.  These are the chronicles of a mixed-up woman with an addictive personality, a sex addict husband, a half-blind dog, and a wonderful support system making her way through marriage recovery, infidelity, codependence, love, hurt, joy, pain, and good food one day at a time.  Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Now for 10 other wonderful bloggers that I have become addicted to (in no particular order):

  1. IM IN LOVE WITH A SERIAL CHEATER
  2. theothersideofinfidelity
  3. Repairing Shattered Pieces
  4. persuaded2go
  5. Castimonia
  6. Teatart
  7. livinginsidethetornado
  8. Our Journey After His Affair
  9. bRaving Bipolar
  10. The Significant Other of a Fuck (Sex) Addict

I hope that everyone has a lovely weekend.  Thanks again to everyone who reads what I type – I appreciate all of my followers and fellow bloggers more than you know!

His “Rules” About Cheating

8 Oct

The last few days I have been trying really hard to process things.  I am realizing that it is harder to get into the mind of a serial cheater than the average person could ever understand.  I don’t recommend it at all, actually.

One of the things that shocked me are all of the non-sensical “rules” he had about things.  The way that he justified his behavior is absurd to me.  For instance, once he found a new woman to sex chat with online, he was only with her.  He didn’t seek out more than one sex chatting partner at a time.  He said that would have been too much for him…  Really?  If I wanted random, fairly anonymous sexual contact online, I would diversify.  Why only have one skank I could run to online?  Why not 5 or 6?  More chances to wank off!  More diversity!  More options!  Nope…  Not him.  He had exclusive, monogamous relationships with his random internet sex hookups.

He also had a fairly standard progression to things.  Go to chat room.  Seek out women to talk to.  Make sexual advances.  Attach to the first person to respond positively (yeah, that’s right… just the first sad, pathetic woman with no self-esteem and loose morals).  Escalate your chatting activity, phone sex, and virtual sexual contact for 3-6 months.  Verbally abuse the woman to the extent she would allow – the more often you could call her a bitch, whore, slut, cunt, etc. the better.  Once that got boring, choose a spot to meet up for in person contact.   Drive (sometimes hours) to see her.  Get drunk and high.  Fuck her a few times (as often as he could get it up).  Leave.  Never speak to her again.  Ignore all contact.  Repeat.

Yeah…  that was basically his pattern for 20 years.

Except… for when he was in a relationship.  Then the rules were different.  Don’t get me wrong, the above pattern was still basically the same.  Actually, exactly the same.  The only difference is that he had an “exclusive” girlfriend as well.  He wouldn’t see the girlfriend and the internet sex buddy on the same day.

So, if you keep following that logic…  He was more exclusive with them than he ever was with me!  That’s right!  He couldn’t have two internet skanks at the same time, but he could have one of them AND one of me.

Or, in fact, 4 of them and me.  Never all at once – THAT would be going too far, of course.

I discovered that the entire time we were dating he was maybe exclusive with me for 6 months.  He was involved in one of his fairly anonymous sexual “relationships” when we met.  He slept with his latest internet whore in the beginning of us dating.  That means he was probably close to the point in his cycle with the new harlot where he was getting bored.  Luckily, since he started dating me, he changed that plan and just kept cyber-fucking women in chat rooms.

When he asked me to be exclusive with him he got rid of his latest internet flavor of the month.  What followed was the 6 month period when he didn’t have a fuck buddy.  Don’t worry, though, he was still hiding pornography and jacking off to that multiple times a day while denying me sex, and there were at least one or two visits to strip clubs in there.  I still wasn’t alone in his head.

He can’t tell me a timeline for the other 3 – or at least he hasn’t tried to yet.  I do know that they followed a similar cycle to above except at some point he would realized how fucked up his action were, feel guilty, and stop.  He said the fact that he cared for me would trigger his guilt until at some point he felt worse about himself than good from what he was doing (as the buzz was fading).

Except for the last one.  Apparently there was nothing disgusting, nasty or mean enough that he could say to her.  And apparently knowing that our relationship was more solid and comfortable pushed him farther into his fantasy with her.  He thought I would forgive him if he was caught.  I’m so glad I lived up my part of that pathetic expectation.

When he made that revelation, I asked him  why feeling solid and safe with me would cause him to act out more.  He said in his mind he knew I would be there.  I had already discovered him hiding and lying about pornography, which crashed my laptop, and seen a few chats accidentally, and hadn’t kicked him out yet.  The more likely he could get caught, the more excited he was.  He also said it was easier for him to lie to me than to come to me and express any fantasies.  So in his mind, forgiveness = the ability to do anything he wanted to do and license to keep lying.

So how can I not expect the same behavior now?  How does that not mean that forgiving him won’t just lead to the same thing?  I thought I was at that point with the information I had, then all of this new information has again left me feeling devastated and on shaky ground.  My entire picture of our relationship has shifted.  Now I know that I was never his only “girlfriend,” although he never called the online skanks that.  Now I know that he has had about 5 times more sexual partners than I thought.  Now I know that only a week before our wedding he wasn’t committed to me.  He wasn’t committed to us.  He didn’t care about my feelings.  He lied to my face, and asked his best man to do the same (I just found that out last night).  If I forgive all of that am I just setting myself up for something much, much worse? (I think yes!)

To his credit, he did try to help me through this.  He told me all of the things that have changed for him from then to now.  He said that one key is that he knows he has a problem now.  Before (as incredibly difficult as it is for me to grasp), he didn’t think any of his behavior was a problem.  He would feel guilty and stop, yet somehow that wasn’t a problem.  When he started back up because he couldn’t help himself, that wasn’t a problem in his mind.  When I caught him, and he continued lying, he didn’t see the problem.  Now he does.

He also had medication to help him think clearer since he had undiagnosed mental conditions before.  Now he said he can think in the more linear process that the rest of us use.  He has accepted what he is, and he is going to therapy to correct it.  He also said that he knows forgiveness isn’t a given – that maybe I won’t be able to forgive him – or if I do that it will cause a lot of pain and hurt.

I still have a lot of concerns.  I still have a lot of fears.  I have a lot of questions, a lot of worries, a lot of problems with the things that he revealed.  I’m not sure what to do with them all right now, but I’m trying my best to hold on and keep going.

More Details About Disclosure

4 Oct

The two most shocking things from disclosure concerned his bachelor party and his history with chat rooms and anonymous sexual partners.  I am still processing some things from the bachelor party and waiting on the answer to a few questions that he was unsure of (mostly concerning the timeline, when the plan was made to do what happened, and who was involving in the planning).  His best man came to me well in advance of his bachelor party, and ask me what would make me feel comfortable and what was off-limits.  I asked that the party not entail strippers or live, naked women of any kind (you have to be specific sometimes with that bunch).   My husband was also adamant about that before-hand.  I say this to clarify that I didn’t have to volunteer the information that I didn’t want strippers – I was asked about what would make me comfortable, then promised that my feelings would be respected.

It turns out there were strippers involved with his bachelor party, complete with multiple lap dances and naked lady parts all over my soon-to-be husband.  There was a trip to the “back room.”  He said he wasn’t aware of what was going to happen until after the got there and had already been drinking.  By that point he wasn’t able (willing, whatever word you want to use) to say no.  He said if he knew ahead of time he wouldn’t even have gone to the party.  Not going at all and putting his foot down in advance would have been easier for him than saying no face-to-face with the peer pressure of his friends, especially once he was already drunk and high.  He didn’t have the balls to say no because he didn’t want to look “pussy whipped.”  Gag!

I believe him that he didn’t know in advance, but I am so incredibly hurt that he didn’t stand up for me, for himself, for the promise he made to me, for our soon-to-be marriage.  I am very hurt about all of the lies he told me afterwards, all the way up to 2 days ago.  I feel sick thinking about it.  I also get flashes of anger.  We had talked about strip clubs extensively.  He had lied to me about going to strip clubs on several occasions in the past, so it wasn’t a secret in any way, shape, or form that I already felt betrayed by him in regard to strippers.

A month or so before his bachelor party we also had a HUGE blow-up incident because he was blatantly checking out another woman at a bar in front of me in a very disrespectful way.  The wedding almost didn’t happen because of that, and we had a very long, very emotional conversation about my boundaries.  I told him then that I feel disrespected and devalued when he does those things, and I will not accept that in my relationship.  I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t have married him if I was aware of what happened that night.  We aren’t in the past, though.  I think I can move beyond that now.  I am upset, though.  I don’t know what to do.

However, I would really like to know whether his best man lied to my face to give me a false sense of security, or whether the planning was done by someone else and materialized after that conversation.  That distinction is very important to me.  It doesn’t make a difference in my marriage, but it does make a difference regarding his best man, who has recently made a re-entry into our lives on a very regular basis.

He didn’t owe me anything, really – my husband was the one who made commitments and promises to me that I had the right to trust in.  Still, I always thought he was a friend of our relationship – one of Mr. Mess’s only decent friends (there is only one other friend of his that I have felt close and safe with besides his best man).  It’s possible that he didn’t plan things to go the way they did.

The best man’s younger brother has been a constant thorn in the side of our relationship since the beginning.  He was the one “responsible for” the strippers.  I have no illusions about him, and wouldn’t trust a single word that ever came out of his mouth.  He is Bad News in every way I can think of – alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, immature, pushy, an overall bully, and someone who hasn’t had a real relationship or commitment to another person in his adult life (except for a married stripper that he was dating for a bit).

I didn’t think his best man was like that, though.  I always thought he had more integrity than his brother.  He has been married for ages, and he always struck me as an upstanding, honest person.  He is the only person who could have convinced me that my boundaries were going to be respected.  His word to me before the bachelor party is the only reason I have held onto a shred of hope that what my husband told me happened (or didn’t happen) was the truth.  At this moment I don’t know how much he knew about the strippers or when.  If he lied to my face to make me feel safe while planning all along to disregard what we talked about, I don’t know how I will react.  It may also ruin a new sport that I have grown to love.

I am trying not to live in “what ifs.”  I am trying to put my feelings in perspective.  I am trying to reconcile whether he can still be a part of our lives – whether I should let it go until or unless another situation comes up where I would have to trust him or his integrity.  I am trying to figure out why that betrayal hurts worse than anything else I heard.  I am trying, trying, trying to wrap my brain around this.  I think I will post an article later that really resonated with me on this topic.

As for the other information… I discovered my husband has been visiting chat rooms for the purpose of having sexual encounters since the invention of the internet (basically).  I also discovered that he has slept with somewhere in the ballpark of 50 women off of those chat rooms (he isn’t certain of the number).  That activity – sex chatting, phone sex, pictures, then finally culminating in an in-person encounter – was a constant pattern in his life, happening at least 2-3 times per year.  When he had slept with one woman he ignored her from that point forward and the cycle repeated itself.   That happened four times during our relationship.

After revealing his random sex partners off of the internet over the course of almost 20 years, he said that he “always” used protection with them. Later I asked what sexual activities they engaged in (just the basics, no details). When he mentioned oral and anal sex, I had to ask again… So you always used a condom with all sexual contact? He said yes. Then I clarified a third time – including oral and anal? Suddenly, the story changed, and he realized that NO, he in fact did NOT use protection every time.  He only concerned himself with condoms for vaginal sex, even though STDs can also be transmitted through other sexual contact.

In that circumstance, I needed to ask those questions to feel safe. I don’t know how long some sexually transmitted diseases can stay dormant or which ones he could be a carrier of without recent symptoms.  I do know that he hasn’t been tested since 2003, and I have never been.  That makes me worried, especially because his last sex hookup off of a chat room was 6 months before we met.  So that question was one I needed to be triple sure of.

So far, those have been the two areas of his disclosure where I asked for more details than he provided (for the most part, with the exception of basic clarification).  I really have to make the distinction – what will help me heal and what will keep me stagnant? What do I NEED to know, and what will keep me from moving forward?

There will be plenty of other details that I won’t be asking. There will be many things I don’t want to know.  There may be things that come up that I realize are important.  We shall see.  For now, I’m looking forward to getting a resolution on those few things, and to talking to the MC in an individual session tomorrow.

When Your Sex Drives Don’t Match: From the Perspective of a Woman Who Wants More Sex

18 Sep

Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women'...It seems the topic of sex – and mismatched libidos – is swirling around in the blogosphere today.  I feel that I have something unique to add to the discussion (or really not so unique, if you keep reading).  I have touched on the topic of sex more than a few times here since it has been an issue in our relationship and our recovery.  Even if you aren’t married to a sex addict, though, sex is a topic that you should be talking about.

I won’t waste too much time on the great importance of sex and intimacy in a relationship. There are thousands upon thousands of articles about that. I will, however, point out that sex and intimacy create a bond, a connection, between two people that can make them feel closer and carry them through difficult situations.  Intimacy and sex are incredibly important to a marriage.  It’s one of the aspects of a relationship that takes it to the next level – to the realm of romantic love versus platonic friend or family love.

So how is it that around 20%* of married couples in the United States live in what is what is defined as a “sexless marriage?”  What is a “sexless marriage,” you may ask…  It is a marriage where sexual intercourse occurs 10 times or less each year.   In marriages where sex has dried up to that extent it’s a vicious cycle, and often no one can remember what exactly came first: “lack of sexual desire, lack of trust, anxiety, financial issues, misunderstandings, pressure from children,” or a myriad of other factors.**

Even when things haven’t gotten that bad, couples can find themselves frustrated or feeling rejected from their partner when there is a difference in how much sex each person thinks is “normal.”  In the first 6 months of a sexual relationship both parties are tearing each other’s clothes off with the same intense passion and vigor. Once things settle into a comfortable place and those “lusty” brain chemicals die down, our natural preferences will start to emerge.  It’s actually common for spouses to have different amounts of sexual desire.  Sexuality is a complicated, delicate thing.  Each of us have our own ideas of how much is “enough,” and those ideas do not always mesh.  However, not addressing those differences or talking about sex with your partner can be devastating to your relationship.

Now that the groundwork is laid (haha), I’m going to jump right into the heart of my topic.  Whenever a marriage is struggling with sexual intimacy the finger is automatically pointed at the wife.  If the sex isn’t frequent enough or someone is sexually dissatisfied, it must be HER fault!  Society in general loves to joke about how once a woman gets married she stops wanting sex.  Women are overly sexualized in magazines, movies, posters, entertainment, etc., yet conversely we are told that we really aren’t very sexual beings.  When a woman is open about her sexuality, she is treated like a freak or a whore.   If you want sex more than your male partner, there must be something wrong with you.  Make up your minds people!

Women do love sex.  And sometimes we want it more than the man in our life.  In fact, as one article put it, “It’s culturally unexpected, but surprisingly common” for a woman to want sex more than her partner.  That’s right, folks!  In many, many cases the wife is the sexually dissatisfied one in the relationship.

Our culture doesn’t want to talk about it and certainly doesn’t want to accept it, but there are a lot of us out here.  In fact, that very same article says that in about 1/3 of the cases where a couple sees a sex therapist it is the woman who wants sex more frequently.  In those cases, fighting against cultural stereotypes in addition to an imbalance in sex drives is incredibly difficult.  Here’s an excerpt that I just have to share:

“Any chronic desire difference can drive people crazy. But in our culture, when the woman wants sex more, the couple descends into a special circle of hell, the place reserved for those caught in culturally unexpected circumstances. It’s bad enough to have a chronic desire difference, but when the situation contradicts the highly prevalent assumption that women—all women!—are erotically coy, while men—all men!—are insatiable horn dogs who can never get enough, desire differences feel even more distressing.”***

The stereotypes and public perception that men should or do want sex more than their female counterpart make it more difficult for women like me to find an outlet to talk about this type of thing.  I have connected with more women than you could imagine who also have higher sex drives than their husbands.  It is very isolating because you think there must be something wrong with you…  Men are SUPPOSED to want sex more.

It’s just not true, though.  Think about it.  If the woman in 1/3 of couples wants sex more than her spouse, then the number of women like me who are left disappointed and sexually frustrated when our husbands are “too tired” at night has to be in the millions.  There are millions of us!!!  Are we still in the minority?  Maybe.  But if this wasn’t such a taboo issue, maybe more and more of us would speak up and that 1/3 number would inch up closer to 50%.  I have no empirical proof of that, but the logical, reasonable side of me is screaming that if sex and sexuality is so varied then why couldn’t that be true?

Just check out this message board on Women’s Health with 38 pages of responses to one woman who was concerned that her sex drive was too high.  Or read this response from an advice columnist to a woman whose high sex drive was causing friction in her marriage.  In the beginning of her answer she says, “You are far from being the only woman who finds that her partner’s sex-drive is way lower than her own.  I get more questions from women on this subject than from men.”  Maybe that’s because we are the ones who write to advice columnists.  Maybe it’s because we are seeking to find out whether society is right and there is something wrong with us.  Or maybe it’s because there are a lot of us out here.

I don’t deny that there are a lot of studies that point to the fact that men think about sex more than women.  That’s probably true.  I’m not sure how much any male thinks about sex because I am certainly not in their brain.  I am also not some sex-crazed woman who is lost in sexual fantasy all day.  I just love sex, and I want it frequently.  I don’t stop and think about it obsessively – I just make a move on my husband, send him a flirty text, go in for a long kiss with a little tongue, or any number of other actions.  I’m a woman of action, though.

So what about the evolutionary theory?  Men are programmed to spread their seed and all that, right?  Well, there might be more to it than just that.  In Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha talk extensively about early human sexuality.  I haven’t read the book and I don’t know if I would agree with every single conclusion they draw, but I have read several articles that touch on their findings.  Surprisingly (to some), the psychological and anthropological evidence they gathered shows that without the constraints of society women were just as sexual as men (or more so).

So what changed?  In an interview with Dr Snyder’s PsychologyToday’s blog “SexualityToday,” lead author Christopher Ryan said, “Even as we speak, clitorectomies are taking place in North Africa, women in Iran are being stoned to death, and American girls are committing suicide because their classmates call them ‘sluts’ online.  The world is hardly a safe place for women to express sexual curiosity, and hasn’t been for a very long time.”  So very true.  I really think a lot of this boils down to our society.

Today I was referred to this article about how men and women’s sex drives differ.  They conclude that “men score higher in libido, while women’s sex drive is more ‘fluid.'”  I found it very, very educational and interesting.  There were a lot of valid points made, some of which I have addressed above and some of which I am not going into.  One thing in the article really jumped out at me, though.  The #4 difference between men and women’s sex drive is that “Women’s sex drives are more influenced by social and cultural factors.”  All of the bullet points under there were spot-on, and I would highly recommend that you take a look.

This is my interpretation.  Women’s sexuality is more influenced by their peers, church, education, age, and other outside influences.  If you create a role for women like, “The wife never wants to have sex as much as the husband,” some women will go ahead and fill that role.  They will suppress their sexuality and let their husband take the driver’s seat because that’s how things are supposed to be.  If, by chance, they step out of line, another woman is more than happy to call them a “whore” to put them back in their place.  Men and women alike are there joking and whispering in their ear that men are more sexual, and they just need to accept that fact.

That bullet point also explains a bit why I might be more open sexually than a lot of people – male or female.  I am well-educated, not religious, and don’t care what everyone else is doing or what anyone else thinks is “normal.”  That makes me able to fulfill my entire sexual potential (or at least a lot of it).

When it all boils down to it, I think the baseline sex drive for men and women is more equal than people think. While men may think about sex more often and may be more direct or less complicated sexually, I think both genders equally want sex.  We both crave good sex in it’s fantastic, intimate form.  It may be a higher priority for some men than for women, especially when children enter the picture.  Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with that, either.  In a vacuum, though, I think men and women’s sex drives would be very, very close (and pretty darn high).  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a vacuum.  We live here, in this society, and every single one of us has a completely different sexual experience and background.

Today I just wanted to be a voice for women like me.  There is nothing wrong with you.  You are not alone.  Remember, men peak sexually at around the age of 17 while women peak in their late thirties.  It just is what it is.

As for what to do about it?  My answer, no matter which way the imbalance of sex drives goes, is to open up about sex with your partner.  We both need to be communicating about sex.  We both need to be initiating.  We both need to be finding ways to connect sexually.  We both need to realize how important it is.  We both need to make time and make sex a priority.  So go home, give your man or woman a deep, romantic, passionate kiss, and get busy!  Talking that is…  If that leads to more, then more power to you!

Footnotes:

* According to the National Health and Social Life Survey and Newsweek magazine
** From MSNBC.com, “The Big No: The truth about sexless marriage” (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/32735936/ns/today-relationships)
***When She Wants Sex More than He Does: It’s culturally unexpected, but surprisingly common. Published on December 4, 2011 by Michael Castleman, M.A. in All About Sex

Being a Sexual Woman

22 Aug

After finding that hilarious picture and posting it yesterday I realized that I don’t share a lot of that side of myself.  Sure, I talk about sex a lot in the context of my husband’s sex addiction, but I think I have allowed that cloud to affect my self-perception too much.  Just because my husband has a problem identifying healthy sexual behavior and controlling his urges to act out in inappropriate ways doesn’t mean I do.  Talking about sex as part of a fun, healthy relationship is not a bad thing, and neither is really enjoying loving, intimate sexual acts with my husband – even if they can get a little kinky sometimes.  😉

I’m not really sure how Mr. Mess would feel about me sharing things about our sex life, so I won’t really go into specifics about him.  I do, however, feel the need to talk about myself as a very sexual woman.  I probably am not “experienced” in the traditional sense of that word – at least when it comes to my quantity of sex partners.  In fact, I’ve only had 2.  Pick your jaw up off of the floor…  It is possible to be a 20-something in today’s society who hasn’t slept around a lot.

It’s not for lack of opportunities, but more from the fact that I want my sexual relationships to be with people I have a deep, meaningful connection with.  I’m not really a one night stand kinda girl.  I am also not interested in a relationship with everyone who is interested in me. I’ve had my share of men who were infatuated with me.  I even gave some of them a shot and dated a few times, thinking maybe once I got to know them better they would grow on me and maybe then I would feel sexually attracted.  That’s not really how things work, though.

Another reason I have had so few sexual partners is because I “paired off” very young – at only 15.  That relationship continued into my 20s.  7 years to be precise.  It was also with a woman.  I think I’ve posted that somewhere in here before, but it’s possible I haven’t.  I know that I have mentioned that my family is staunch, right wing Christian. We almost literally lived in church.  We went to Monday choir practice, Wednesday night service, Thursday music rehearsal (my Mom played the piano for the praise & worship), and BOTH services on Sunday because my Dad was an usher in addition to my Mom’s piano-playing, choir-directing duties.  Even as teenagers when we could drive we were required to attend all services “as a family.”

Given all of that, it should be pretty apparent that they were not open to the idea of their daughter being bisexual (or a lesbian, since at that time I wasn’t entirely sure myself).  They found out when I was 16.  I lived in Hell for the next 2 years.  I graduated right after my 17th birthday, but wasn’t allowed to move out.  That year was the worst of my entire life.  I moved out at 18 (the very day), and did my own thing for almost a year without speaking to them.  Eventually, they came around.  Don’t get me wrong, they always said I was “going to Hell.”  But they grew to accept and even like her.  She went on family trips with us, came to Christmas, they bought her birthday gifts, and the whole 9 yards.

Even though that relationship didn’t last, for reasons that are neither here nor there, I did explore my sexuality a lot during that time.  I enjoyed all sorts of sex, and we discovered things together.  We bought toys, used blindfolds, even tied each other up or used handcuffs sometimes.  We had passionate sex for a long time.  Then things started fading in the bedroom – what many in the community refer to as “lesbian bed death.”  I have always had a very high libido, but her – not so much.  Once things fizzled and eventually died, I had really come into my own sexually.  I was ready to explore.

As a young girl (because face it, that’s what I was at 15) I was somewhat frightened by the idea of a penis.  I had, of course, never been faced with one before and at that time couldn’t imagine ever wanting to be around “one of those.”  Experimenting, using toys, and yes, watching a little porn and Queer As Folk (which is basically gay porn wrapped up in a storyline, albeit a really great one IMO), I became much more comfortable with the idea.  Curious and eager even.  I realized more and more that I am truly bisexual – it is more about the entire package, who a person is on the inside, than what their outside “package” might be.

When I met my now husband and realized that spark was there, it was game on.  I, unfortunately, didn’t wait as long as I would have liked conceptually before jumping into bed.  We were sexual after our second date (the third time I had been out with him since I’m not counting the night we met as a date).  We had hours and hours of phone conversation by then, but still…  I have that slightly conservative core that comes out now and then, making me feel ashamed for giving away the goods so fast.  Oh well…  Although he is a sex addict, that didn’t seem to spill over into our dating life in a negative way at first (until 9 months to a year later with the porn and affair and all of that mess).  While dating, Mr. Mess was a gentleman.  In fact, in the inebriated, horny state I was in the night I met him I was ready to go at it right there in my car, parked in the middle of a city block.  He politely declined, talked some sense into me, and we parted company that night with the promise of a real date.  I guess I was special to him in the beginning…

The deep throating comment from yesterday’s post is not untrue.  I have realized that I really love giving oral sex.   It’s just a fact.  Giving another person pleasure, feeling that power and excitement, turns me on beyond belief.  I can actually orgasm just from making someone orgasm.  I get all tingly just thinking about it.  I’ve probably said far too much for my husband’s comfort level.  He is a very private person, and fairly easily embarrassed being open about this type of stuff, oddly enough.

Back to me.  I am a very sexual woman.  I would gladly have sex every day for the rest of my life.  In fact, that sounds marvelous.  As long as I can throw in a few marathon days here and there.  One orgasm is great, but multiple orgasms are ecstasy.  I love variety, and I’m certain I could ensure things never get boring.  For now, though, I am pacing myself.  I am giving my husband time to rediscover healthy sexuality and learn to control his addiction cycles.  I am being patient and biding my time for when my husband’s brain is reset and ready for all the sexy fun I have to offer.

Trying to Trust Through the Fear

31 Jul

Trust is such a difficult thing for me for a number of reasons.  One is because of my personality.  I’m a very type-A, get things done kinda girl.  I’m usually firmly in the camp of “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”  My husband’s sex addiction and affair don’t do anything to help my trust.  His lying habit virtually demolished any vestiges that remained.

Despite all of that, I have come to realize that I can’t go through life without trust.  I can’t be in this marriage without being vulnerable, without giving up some control.  I have to trust him with some things, whether I really want to or not.  Whether I feel 100% confident that he will follow through and do it in a way that I would have or not…  Cue stomach knots.

I am now working on my codependence issues and learning to let go of things that aren’t in my control.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  How do you all do it?  What keeps you trusting?  What helps you reassure yourself that it won’t be the end of the world no matter what happens?  How do you keep your hope?  I really want to know.

Being in this community is so rewarding because I get to connect with so many people, hear their stories, get support, and gain understanding of myself and what we are all going through in one form or another.  Reading blogs gives me a fresh perspective, challenges me, and makes me really ponder things.  At the same time, I see and hear so much disappointment, pain, fear, and oh so many lies.  It is disheartening.  Sure, there are lots and lots of stories of hope and healing.  Still, those painful ones really stick around in my gut.

Those thoughts ping around in my head and make this struggle to trust so much more difficult.  Especially after nights like last night.  Mr. Mess and I are fine – great even – so don’t worry about that.  It’s just that disappointment crept in, slowly but surely.  I was able to support a friend, but not in the way I had hoped.  Our carefully laid plans (so we thought) were blown out of the water.  I could feel how despondent she was, and there was really very little I could do about it.  I didn’t have any control over the situation, the outcome, or her feelings.

I wanted to, because boy do I hate seeing someone I care about in pain.  But I had to let go of that desire.  I had to just be there.  Just listen.  Just be supportive by caring – not by controlling the situation in any way.  I had to remind myself that I didn’t fail.  That I wasn’t the cause of the disappointment, I couldn’t have changed anything, and just being there was enough.  Even though I couldn’t have done anything to fix her situation, that was my utmost desire.

I wish I had a magic wand that could solve all of the problems in the world.  That is such fantasy-land thinking, though.  I have to let go of it.  I have to just do what I can do and be content in the knowledge that even a glimmer of normalcy, fun, comfort, validation or care does make a difference.  Small things can matter a lot.  I know that has been true for me.  Seeing that “Like” on my post, getting a response – positive or negative, just knowing that there are people out there that care enough to take time out of their day to read what I have to say, and then offer their thoughts…  Those things are huge in a way that is hard to describe.

But trusting that things will work out?  That is tough.  Trusting that I really am enough – no matter what happens – seems nearly impossible.  I have this internal battle going on inside.  It is between what I know in my head and what I fear.  Those fears, some irrational and some completely possible (maybe even probable), well up inside of me.  The urge I have is to freeze, to let them paralyze me.  I am fighting it with all that I have.  Because the reality is that I will be fine.  I am strong.  I am capable.  I am worthwhile.  I have to trust my own decision to trust (twisty I know), because that is the only way to defeat my fears.

Finding Internal Motivation

26 Jul

Image Source – Own work by Louis Waweru / CC-BY-SA-3.0

My heart is aching today for a fellow blogger and friend who is going through a really difficult time.  I won’t share what has been happening specifically since it is her story to tell.  She has shared some on her blog – Repairing Shattered Pieces.  It is almost all I can think about today.

When she described how she felt last night, it made me think of being exposed and vulnerable in a very dangerous place, like laying in the middle of the road, powerless to keep from being run over.  Again.  Because at this point she has been hit hard.  I can imagine the waves of debilitating pain and hurt washing over me again and again.  The helplessness and despair.  I feel all of this by proxy, so I’m sure it’s amplified a thousand fold for her.

The positive glimmer in all of this for me has been Mr. Mess.  I have been sharing with him what is going on as she discovers more details.  He has been incredibly supportive and insightful.  He has offered his knowledge and assistance, if needed.  More than almost anything else, the way he has been talking has caused me to realize how far he really has come.

The other night he started talking about his own journey and how that has given him so much perspective on what it takes to get well.  He went through almost a year of denial over his sex addiction.  During that time he wasn’t really addressing his issues.  Sure, he went to therapy, he attended SA now and then, he said the things he thought I wanted to hear.  But he didn’t really believe, deep down, that there was anything he needed to do.  Some days when he felt down he could accept that there was a problem, but most of the time his denial, justification and rationalization were in full force.  He did the things he did because he knew it was the only way to keep me.  That’s it.

He said yesterday that if someone isn’t doing the all of the work they should be to correct their issues, then they don’t really believe they have them.  It really is that simple.  When he wasn’t going to SA it was because he believed he didn’t need to.  When he skipped therapy and stopped going altogether it was because he wasn’t invested and didn’t trulybelieve he needed the help.  He stuck with marriage counseling because he did want to repair our marriage.  But he still couldn’t accept that there couldn’t be a stable marriage until his addiction problems were corrected.  He wanted things to work out, but his motivations were largely exterior – the pain I was in, the tension in the house after a lie, the guilt he only felt afterwards, the shame of discovery and seeing my disappointment, the regret of a poor decision, and the list goes on.  He was focusing on me – my pain, my desires, my boundaries.

The only internal motivation he had was fear:  the fear of losing his lifestyle (house, car, dual incomes), the fear of losing love (acceptance, comfort, my presence), the fear of divorce, the fear of failure, the fear of who knows…  The problem is that fear can only carry you so far.  What he didn’t have was an internal desire to change for him.  Because it would make him healthy and whole.  Because it would make him happy.  Because it would give him the marriage he wanted, the intimacy he wished for, the acceptance and love he deserves.  Part of recovering from any addiction is coming to the full realization that you are worth it.  For you alone.  That you want to change.  For you alone.  That only you can fix you.  That the motivation has to come from within.

I’m glad that he has learned that now.  I am proud of where he has made it to in his recovery.  I feel more secure knowing that he is working on recovery for himself.  It also gives me reassurance that we are on the right path.  I am working on my issues and he is dealing with his.  Is this what an adult relationship feels like?

Image Source –  Own work by Adha65 / CC-BY-SA-3.0

How Does His Sex Addiction Affect Me?

17 Jul

I took this survey at the suggestion of Scabs.  Here is an overview of what it is about:

This survey is part of a  research study being conducted by Dr. Stefanie Carnes.  The purpose of the study is to learn about  how sexual addiction impacts the sexuality of the partner of the sex addict,  with the long term goal of helping partners and couples recover.

There are several benefits you may experience  as a result of your participation in this study.  The first benefit is knowing you are  advancing research in the field of sex addiction.  The second is that you may experience some  insights about how your sexuality has been impacted by the addiction.  And finally, at the end of the survey, you will receive a brief report, free of  charge, that outlines areas of your sexuality that may have been impacted by  the addiction.

Here are my results:

Category Little/No Impact Minor Impact Moderate Impact Strong Impact Very Strong Impact
Feelings of Victimization X
Intimacy Impairment X
Shame X
Sexual Anorexia/Aversion X
Sexual Dysfunction X
Body Image Issues X
Obligatory Sex X
Compulsive Sex X
Fear X
Anger/Revenge X

Problem Areas

Feelings of Victimization — Strong

This subscale indicates that you may have feelings of betrayal and emotional trauma that could be impacting your ability to be sexually open and vulnerable in your relationship.

Body Image Issues — Strong

Elevations on this subscale indicate feelings of insecurity about your body, such as feelings of inferiority when being compared with others, and a desire to change your body.

If you have an SA in your life, try taking it and saving your results.  I’m going to do it again in 6 months and see if anything has changed.

More info on our weekend will be forthcoming soon.  I just wanted to get something out to you guys that I found interesting.  I hope that everyone had a nice weekend!

Being Worth It

10 Jul

One of my absolute favorite bloggers – Eat My Scabs – did a post today about boundaries:  Step 2: Set Your Boundaries.  She gave a few questions and fill in the blank sentences and challenged us all to complete them.  I loved the exercise and the questions really got me thinking.  I decided to share my answers here on my blog as well as submitting them on her original post.

Introduce yourself, your current obsession and one word to describe your mood today.
I am just another person on this journey to marriage healing.  I have recently realized that I’m codependent, and I’m working to free myself from the tangles of my husband’s sex addiction and focus on me.  My current obsession is with self-expression, especially with my body.  In the last few months I have gotten fuchsia streaks in my hair, a nose ring, and a new tattoo.  I have another tattoo being drawn up right now.  My mood today is a bit morose.  The weather has been dreary, I could have stayed in bed all day, and my husband has taken my recent detachment as license to stop having real conversations with me.

The craziest reaction I got from setting boundaries was… my husband saying “I don’t know what this (gesturing toward me) is all about” and walking out of the house.  He returned home several hours later, but he was not happy with my boundaries.  He didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t going to accept his bad attitude or react by screaming and yelling back.

My favorite boundary and consequence is…  I don’t know yet.  My favorite boundary is honesty in this marriage because it is the one thing I absolutely need the most.  It is also the one my husband seems to be struggling with the most.  As for consequences, I haven’t figured it out all the way.  Right now the consequence is that I won’t share my bed with someone who continues to lie to me.  That consequence will stand until I feel safe again.  When that will happen I have no clue.

My biggest boundary failure was when…  I didn’t stick to my request for him to get individual counseling after I discovered his affair and again after I caught him breaking his word about something important.  Both times I put an expectation out there that I couldn’t be in a relationship with someone who was unfaithful or who was constantly lying to me.  However, I didn’t set any real consequence (me getting mad at him, being hurt and upset obviously wasn’t enough).  Of course he didn’t go, and I just let it go.  I told myself he was doing other things.  I told myself it was okay, that he was okay.  I told myself everything except what I should have told myself – if he won’t get help then you need to get out.  I paid the price for that after we were married because his lying, hiding ways had been reinforced for years by my lack of action and follow-through.

I got in the biggest trouble when I broke this boundary…  don’t steal.  I was caught shoplifting.  It was an incredibly selfish, stupid decision that I made in a time when my life was out of control.  I had the money to pay for the stuff, I just couldn’t bring myself to splurge on myself, and instead chose to stick it in my purse.  I did pay the price.  Literally – thousands of dollars for a lawyer, restitution and court fees.  I stayed out of jail, but I have a misdemeanor record.  Stupid me!

The most successful boundary/consequence I’ve worked on is…  not doing for others what they should (and can) do for themselves.  I am at peace with saying that I will not accept responsibility for something that is his to deal with.  I am getting much better at not feeling guilty if/when he falls on his face.  I would like to be able to echo what another poster responded with:  “Being willing to say I will not accept blame, lying, anger, or victim behavior from my husband and seeking distance from him when that happens.”  I am still working on this one.  It takes real effort for me to disengage and “seek distance” rather than continuing to respond.

If I could break any social boundary it would be… the understanding that we should all keep up a façade.  Wouldn’t it be nice if “fine” or “great” weren’t the only socially accepted and expected responses to “How are you doing today?”  What if we could all just be honest all of the time?  I bet we would all feel less pressure to be perfect if we had the understanding of how imperfect we all feel all of the time.

My favorite quality in a man is…  honesty (I’m sensing a theme here) and wit.  I love a man who can be unexpected and funny just by telling it like it is.

My favorite quality in a woman is…  genuineness.  I am drawn to women who are straight-forward and confident in themselves just as they are.

If I could go back one decade and change anything is would be…  I missed this question when I was reading the original post.  If I could go back one decade and change something about my 17-year-old self I would be more confident.   I would tell my teenage self that being different is beautiful, it is just fine to be an introvert, you are NOT fat, and trust your instincts because they are good.

I’m terrified that enforcing boundaries will…  result in my marriage failing.

I’m excited that that enforcing boundaries will…  allow me to be my own person and be treated the way that I deserve.

My most elusive boundary questions is…  what is an appropriate consequence f someone breaking one of my boundaries?

Being worth it … gives me the confidence to stand strong in my boundaries.

I hope you enjoyed this little exercise.  Feel free to participate if you would like, either here or on her blog!

Photo Credit – used with permission By SuperDewa

Being Thankful

17 May

As I have said in past posts, I have started going back to the women’s group for spouses of sex addicts on Wednesday nights.  It hadn’t met for 2 weeks because of schedule conflicts and vacations, but last night it started back up.  The turnout ended up being rather small (just me and one other woman plus the couselor), but it really helped me to put things into perspective.

There is a woman who I have gotten close to that is dealing with a husband who has no real remorse, desire to change, or respect for her.  He had a long-term affair with her best friend and has continued to make small forms of contact (checking her Facebook page, seeing and talking to her at their children’s’ sports events, etc).  He also has tons of anger and resentment towards her and sees himself as the primary victim in the relationship because her focus has been on their 8 children for the past 20 years and not fulfilling his every whim and desire.  He is resentful, unwilling to participate in regular marriage or individual counseling, and constantly defensive of himself and dismissive of her needs and feelings.  His arrogance and delusions astound me.  When I listened to her stories and struggles from the past few weeks I felt such anger and indignation for her.  I also felt a deep respect and appreciation for the things my husband is doing right.

I really started thinking about how lucky I am that my husband is willing to put so much effort into making our marriage stronger.  The last few weeks have been full of a lot of progress and successes.  Sure, there have been a few low points and some disappointments – there are always bound to be some of those.  But when I step back and look at where we are now compared to where we have been I feel proud and hopeful.  I really have a lot of things to be extremely thankful for.  That might sound a little strange given our history, some of my more painful posts, and the fact that my husband is a sex addict.  It is still very true, though.  Here are a few recent examples of what I mean…

Mr. Mess has been really turning a corner in his thinking.  I can’t quite put my finger on what has changed, but I can see that he is actually starting to “get” the work and effort required to have a happy, healthy relationship.  And he is willing to do it!  That is huge!  I can’t even begin to describe how safe and loved that makes me feel.  This week we have had at least 3 really good, meaningful conversations that lasted for a while (over an hour).  Even a year ago it wouldn’t have been possible to talk about triggers, emotions, and deep feelings without defensiveness, yelling, stonewalling or all three becoming part of the mix.  I recognize that shows a real change in both of us – the way we approach each other, open up, become vulnerable, and break down our defenses and pride is paying off.

He has been very validating when I have a bad day or a trigger.  He has started telling me that he is sorry for the part he played in making me feel this way.  If I get angry or upset over something he is willing to empathize and tell me that he can understand why I would feel that way.  It’s amazing how those simple things can just pop the balloon of anger and resentment that I feel.  I am finding that I am much more willing and able to take a step back, see things from his perspective, and offer understanding and forgiveness in return.  It is also becoming easier to admit my faults and the things I need to adjust in my thinking and behavior.  Our communication has improved 10 fold, and so has our trust.  That has been a big hurdle, and it seemed insurmountable at first.  Now I’m finding that all of these little things really add up and help in ways that I couldn’t have imagined before.

Mr. Mess is finally starting to really take the initiative he needs to take.  He is in individual counseling again.  He went once last week and has another appointment today.  He isn’t just going, though…  he is really fully participating.  His IC has a book that they were working through on recovering from sex addiction that has exercises and deals with all aspects of addiction like what it is, recognizing the damage it has done in your life, how to identify triggers and change behaviors, and the list goes on.  He was part-way through the book when he stopped going a few months back.  This time he took the initiative to say that he feels he needs to start from the beginning, give it his all, and follow through all the way to the end.  He came up with that all on his own – without me even suggesting or hinting about it.  That makes me feel so happy because I know he is taking the reigns of his recovery, which is the only way it can really work.

Along the same lines, he is going to SA meetings at least once a week and sometimes twice.   That was something that I requested that he go back to doing, but this time around I feel like he is fully committed.  Something fundamental seems to have changed inside him.  He was very resistant to SA at first, and I think to an extent the entire time he was going.   His therapist was insistent that recovery takes 3 prongs: individual counseling, medication (if necessary to stabilize moods, deal with depression and anxiety, etc.), and group meetings.  He went for a little while and complained the whole time.  In a few angry outbursts during arguments he would say that he doesn’t even think he really is a SA.  Now at least he really accepts it and is giving it a real shot to see what he can get out of the program.  He still struggles with some aspects of it, especially the religious stuff like prayers, “God” in the steps, etc.  We have found atheist/agnostic 12 steps that he is using now.  More than that, though, this time around I see a change in his overall attitude.

We are also doing marriage counseling twice per month.  It has been very helpful in understanding each other.  We have done the love languages, which I talked about in Physical Touch, and we both took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and talked about what our results mean (more about that later).  Not only that, but he is doing some reading, he has been opening up and talking to me about it, and we have committed to doing couple’s exercises on a regular basis from a few books.  One of the most exciting things, though, is that we have decided to go to Retrouvaille.  It is a weekend program designed for married couples that focuses on “our emotional lives; family of origin issues; modern society’s attitudes toward marriage; managing conflict and anger; personality styles and how they influence our relationship; trust; forgiveness and healing; sexual intimacy; belonging to each other; and communication skills.”  I have heard positive feedback about the program, and there is one not too far from us in July.  We talked about it last night, and Mr. Mess seems very enthusiastic and more than willing to attend.  Yay!

All of these great, positive things have really made me realize that I have a great man who is willing to work on himself and our marriage because he loves me.  How lucky am I?  We are working together to change, grow stronger, and become each other’s support.  There are more great things to come.  That needs to be my focus, even when I’m having a rough time or a bad day.  When we have setbacks, I need to remind myself of everything we have made it past and how much farther along the road we are now.  I am choosing to focus on the fact that our committment will get us through whatever comes our way.  As long as we both continue giving it our all, we will be okay.

Sexual Dysfunction: The Escalating Price of Abusing Porn

14 May

I was just directed to an interesting article about the effects of pornography on male sexual dysfunction:  Sexual Dysfunction: The Escalating Price of Abusing Porn | Sex and Intimacy.  I found the article incredibly interesting and full of fascinating facts and explanations.

It turns out that my theory seems to be correct – excessive porn use can cause decreased desire or ability to perform with a willing spouse.  It can also lead to sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction (ED) and delayed ejaculation (DE).

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the article:

“In a way, this confirms what many in the sexual addiction treatment field have known for quite some time—that among the many symptoms and consequences of sex and porn addiction is reduced or even nonexistent interest in sexual, physical, and emotional connections with spouses and/or longer-term sexual partners.”

I knew it wasn’t about me this whole time, but seeing those words coming from a clinical psychotherapist was extremely validating.

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.

He Walked Out

28 Apr

Emotion

As I talked about in my last post (Bad Memory), I was triggered big time today (or I should say yesterday at this point).  Those memories brought up a lot of feelings and emotions that were pushed aside in the aftermath of the affair that I found out about in 2009, which had been going on for several months.  Back then I wasn’t as strong and determined as I am now.  I was too quick to take Mr. Mess’s word on things and believe him when he said he had stopped behaving that way.  We had several tense weeks/ months after my discovery, and I laid out a few actions that I wanted him to take.  But overall I didn’t really know what I was doing, I didn’t seek support or assistance, and I didn’t hold him accountable like I should have.

Back to today.  When I got home he asked me how my day went.  I told him that it had been pretty crappy.  He asked why, and I gave him the surface stuff (like issues at work, not feeling motivated, etc).  Then I added that some old emotions had also come up.  He asked what, and I told him the general chain of events that I outlined in my last post.

At first he said that he was sorry I was feeling upset about it.  I told him that I didn’t feel like we ever really dealt with everything.  He agreed, and he said he was willing to do anything we needed to now in order to move past it.  I asked him something about how everything started and about other women he had sex chats with.  He completely denied there were any other women even though I had logged into his messenger account several times and seen some of those interactions.

He still denied that he had been in any sex chat rooms.  Again, he maintained that lie even when I told him that I had checked the internet history several times, and found activity from more than one sex chat room.  He claimed that he met the other woman in a “Virginia” chat room.  I asked how things could progress to something sexual if he was in a non-sexual chat room.  He said that he “tested the waters” and threw out sexual stuff to see how she would respond.  I asked if that meant he had initiated things.  He said yes – that he started everything, and that it was all entirely on him.

That was like a sucker punch to the gut.  And not at all the story he told me back then.  He spun this whole thing about how they were friends before, how they had met up once at a bar long before he knew me, that she wanted things to go farther back then but he didn’t let them.  He said that they were just reconnecting at first, that he was telling her about me and his life, and that things just got out of control.  Back then he painted her as a “crazy bitch” (one of his favorite terms  about pretty much any woman in his past that now makes me want to barf).

With all that in mind, I think I still reacted pretty reasonably.  I told him that it was incredibly hurtful.  I said that hearing that now after everything we have gone through is hard to wrap my brain around.  The fact that he met her in a “Virginia” chat room was almost worse to me than what I imagined.  Because in my mind that means he was looking for someone close – someone in this state that he could have the option of moving things into real life with.  He swore up and down that wasn’t his initial intention.  He did eventually go to her area several times, and spend the night due to work.  Using his company to facilitate his cheating made me feel even more nauseous.

I asked why he never told me the truth – why I had to specifically ask before he would be honest about it.  He said that he was really hoping that we could just forget about it.  He echoed my previous statement that we didn’t really deal with things completely back then.  He also told me that he doesn’t like thinking about it.  I reminded him about what the marriage counselor said about the difference between forgetting and forgiving.  And how forgetting is actually really hurtful for the marriage because it doesn’t deal with anything and leaves the door open to the same thing happening again.  He said he knows that now.

We had previous dinner reservations for restaurant week tonight, so we packed up the emotional baggage and went to dinner.  He was still on his best behavior.  It was extremely cold in the restaurant, so he went back to the car and got his jacket for me.  It was sweet.  Here and there throughout the dinner we even had a nice moment.

He mentioned something about giving me a massage once we got home to make it all go away.  I told him honestly that thinking about him touching me like that right now was making me disgusted.  I told him that I am sorry that I feel that way right now, and that I really don’t want to hurt his feelings.  He said that he has no right to get upset, and that I am entitled to my feelings.  He said that he can’t argue because it is true – what he did was disgusting.  I said just because something is true doesn’t mean he can’t be hurt by it, and that he could also have some feelings.  He said that he was sad that he did something like that to me.

As dinner finished I told him that I still have a lot of doubts about that time period.  I said that I feel like he lied to me a lot and I still don’t know what the truth is.  He admitted a few small lies about doing drugs when he told me he hadn’t.  He said he would tell me anything I wanted to know.  I said that I do need more details – that I need to know everything.

He then gave me a really, really abbreviated version that went something like this: “I initiated things, we talked about everything you can imagine, and we had very inappropriate sexual contact.”  The end.  I said that I really would like to know more – what does that mean, how did it happen, when, for how long (I had thought only about a month, but everything he told me was a lie back then), what types of things…  And what were lies and what was the truth in the story he told me?  He admitted that he lied when he said he knew her, that the whole story was completely made-up.  However, anytime I pressed for more details about the REAL story all he would say is that he doesn’t remember.

He also made a big deal that he couldn’t get any more specific than those vague statements because he can’t recall things “verbatim.”  I tried to explain the difference between verbatim and the bare minimum.  He still didn’t get it.  I gave him several examples.  I said if you asked me what Transformers was about I could tell you it was a movie about cars that turned into robots.  That is the quick, 5 second recap.  But there are plenty of other things I could tell you about the plot, how the story progressed, what happened, the sequence of events, etc. without repeating the script of the movie word for word.  He still claimed that he had no idea what I meant.  He said that my example made no sense, and that the short summary he told me was “everything.”  I disagreed whole-heartedly.

We rode home literally in silence. Then near the end of the ride he said he would try to think about it and “tell me what I want to hear.”  Once we got home, the conversation continued, although at that point it was no longer a “conversation.” It was him yelling at me.  When I didn’t yell back or engage he only yelled louder and threw in sarcasm and contempt to bait me (sarcasm is my ultimate pet peeve when I’m having a serious conversation with someone).  He kept saying there was nothing to tell, and that he can’t “remember.”  I expressed my disbelief that he wouldn’t remember anything at all, especially since he was the one doing it, and he admitted he initiated everything.  I proposed that maybe it was just too hard for him to admit all of the things he had done because it would expose a part of himself that he didn’t want to face.

He said that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and that someone on the computer or in one of the books must have filled my mind with crap that’s not true.  When I didn’t rise to his level of petty anger he became furious and starting literally yelling sex acts at me.  He screamed “that good enough for you?”  I stayed calm, didn’t raise my voice, and told him that I needed him to stop yelling and being sarcastic.  He said that I am trying to “fix” things again.  I told him, no – I was only expressing my needs and asking him to respond with respect and not defensiveness.  He said something like “yeah, right.”

Then he got more defensive and self-righteous.  He said it wasn’t even an affair since we weren’t married yet.  I told him that seeking her out online, initiating sexual contact, hiding, lying, and carrying on behind my back IS an affair, married or not.  He said something like, “How can you say that if you say I’m not telling you the details of what we did” or something similar and snarky.  Again, I didn’t engage the way he wanted me to.  I said that we both know what he did was wrong and was an affair and a betrayal.  He countered with “whatever” or something just as intelligent.

At one point I started to cry a little bit (I tried to hold that back but just couldn’t after his last comment).  Mr. Mess started mocking me and saying that I am “playing that card again.”  He said it won’t work, and I couldn’t try to make him feel bad.  At that point I did slip and argue back.  I told him that sometimes I can’t hold back my emotions, and that he was making me feel very upset.  Instead of listening he interrupted (par for the course at this stage), and said something like “What, so I don’t ever show my emotions?”  I gathered my thoughts, pulled myself back together, and tried to stop the pointless arguing.

Then he started in again with the yelling.  I told him I would not deal with it.  I walked away and went into the bathroom to take a breath, then got changed out of my dinner clothes.  A few other inconsequential things happened where he raged like a little kid throwing a tantrum once I came back in the room.  He asked for his coat back, but I told him that I was wearing it now, and that was that (he’s like a jealous kid trying to take back a toy he let another kid borrow once he sees they actually like it).  He went in and got on the computer.  After a few minutes of thinking I went in and told him that I don’t feel comfortable with him being on the computer right now.  I didn’t explain any further, but the computer and his inability to deal with his emotions in a healthy way were the catalysts to this whole mess.  He said something like, “Wow.  I can’t believe you,”  and pushed past me.

I went into the kitchen and calmly stood there watching him.  I picked up one of the books I had gotten from Amazon – How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful.  It reinforced several things I was thinking – that he should not become defensive and yell, that he needs to think about my needs, that he should be sensitive to the fact that I want details, and that it can take years to overcome one (especially if it was never been dealt with).  He was doing his best to make me feel crazy and like I was being unreasonable, but he couldn’t shake my quiet confidence that I had a right to ask these questions.  And it was obviously driving him crazy that he couldn’t drive me crazy.  Mr. Mess then made some comment that he doesn’t know what “this” (gesturing towards me) is all about.  A few minutes later he grabbed a few things, said “Now you’re getting what you want,” and left the house without giving me a chance to respond.

I don’t know what I’m feeling.  Sad for sure.  Disappointed that he went right back to anger and defensiveness and sarcasm.  Resigned to the fact that he can talk a good game, but anytime I ask him to do something that is actually hard for him he will give up.  Naïve for thinking that he had actually changed his blaming and intimidating patterns. A little numb and detached from the whole thing.

I am also proud of myself because I haven’t called him or texted him.  I don’t care where he went (okay, I do care a little bit).  But I’m not going to stress about it.  Him leaving hurt, but it should have expected it because that’s always how he reacts when the truth is too hard to handle.  I guess him leaving is better than having him stay and continue yelling at me.  And at least it’s a Saturday so I can stay up writing, processing, and dealing with my emotions on my own.  Because with or without him I will get past this.

So I’m not sure where that leaves me.  I was feeling positive about reconciling, but now I’m not sure he has the emotional capacity to do the work that it takes.  He just wants to “forget and move past.”  That’s not going to work for me.  We shall see.

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