Tonight was my first session with a new counselor. It was an interesting experience-- mostly in that it was way more casual, approachable and focused on my husband's behavior. (I think I often have his gaslighting voice in my head, convincing myself I overact to things at times). The counselor has a lot of experience, even mentioned she's counseled sex offenders in jail. I think her responses to the situation are on a very very different end of the spectrum than the therapy my husband reported to have recieved (yes, I take that with a big grain of salt given his inclinations to villainize myself, lie and hide things to make himself look good.) What I took home from tonight's counseling session: * She is very concerned about his behavior. She thinks it's not a matter of if he gets caught but when and that there are very serious consequences for soliciting online sex from minors. (I caught him posing as a women in "girl chat" chatroom, perusing for lesbian sexual content/cybering.) * She says I am young and that I do not need to put up with this. I do not need to wear the shame. It is his. I could move on with my life. She even has a divorce "cheat sheet". She said that in a situation like this where there is reason to act, that assets are not split 50/50. With three children he would have next to nothing after alimony. *She agrees that he seems to have a general lack of respect for me and she considers this abuse. I also told her about how he proclaimed hatred towards me multiple times while I was pregnant with twins and how he has acted entitled to and endorsing female work friends of his to pass judgement on me in the past. She suggests (as do I) that he bad mouths me to these people. I have seen it in texts before so it's not purely speculation. *She says this behavior is incredibly risky for him as a counsellor-- as if there were even an allegation of these kinds of sexual advances towards children, that he could immediately lose his licenses and render all the time/expense of his masters in vain. (Side bar: his narcissistic tendencies of course required him go to the MOST expensive school in our area-- which we now have gobs of loans to repay.) *She recognizes porn as bad and a destroyer of intimacy and relationships. She recognizes porn addiction as a very real, serious thing. She shares much less of the hope that I do that it will just go away. Scary and sobering. *She is game to meet him next week and says that I do need my own counseling too. (Which I totally agree-- I was actually a little surprised that today's session was completely concentric on his behavior. But it makes sense. Again, I think my husband's voices of minimization have gotten to me a bit. It's refreshing to get validation on the seriousness of the situation from a professional.) *I came out of the session feeling empowered, supported, and given a fresh scope of the situation. Perhaps in some ways I have misplaced hope. Sometimes I feel hopeless about the notion of what situation I will be in (especially financially) if I were to leave him. Now I feel more hopeful about that option. Not that I truly want that to happen, but my righteous anger has flared hard after finding out he's told another woman I'm a "not great" stay at home mom. I'm triggered to anger/mistrust now both on the sex front and the domestic front. It's going to take big adjustments to soothe these feelings. *She thinks my husband's behavior his shame based and even conjectures some gender identity issues. *She reccomends I read the book "Letting Go of Shame" by Ephron so I plan to procure that soon. *My husband may be closer to rock bottom. He's very sober and discernibly distressed tonight-- and I haven't even shared many details with him. He said he wonders if I would get some sort of satisfaction out of him getting in trouble. Eye roll. Pity party. I'm curious if this will get him further out of denial... I'm wondering what he did while his accountability software was off last week-- and if there is guilt associated. He wants to talk so we will see what happens with that. *I'm pretty curious to see how he conducts himself next week at the session when he joins in. And also very curious to see what she thinks of him. *I wonder what life would be like out of this emotionally draining marriage... or if this will catalyze and inspire more discernible empathy and recovery work from my husband. I just can't waste too much time hoping if he continues to treat me with disrespect.