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Discussion in 'Significant Other Journals' started by Susannah, Nov 28, 2018.
Wow! How beautiful! Thank you, darling!
Hi there. Sorry about the delay answering your very good question. I wanted to give it some time and thought. It's been a couple of weeks now. Do I feel a sense of relief? Yes - mostly a relief from the burden of total preoccupation with the situation he put us in. For the first time in a long time, I feel like trying to rebuild some of my "old" life. I used to do lots of volunteer work in my small town. After I retired a few years ago, I decided it was time to "give back", so I threw myself into everything. I was the treasurer of two groups and a board member of two more. I did this work about 15 hours per week, in addition to participating in lots of other fun activities. I loved to work out and hiked, skiied, kayaked, etc at least once a week. I LOVED to dance and did it crazy often. After the first D-day, I was too terrified to leave the house, so cut out all going to the gym and all sports. At the beginning, I tried to preserve dancing and would go by myself if my husband needed to "work late". This was during his first "fake" recovery. When I found out he had been lying about the recovery, I quit dancing for fear of leaving him unsupervised at home with the computer. If he was going to act out, I was going to make him do it shamefully in the bathroom like a guilty child, not brazenly in our own kitchen. Over the next two years, I eventually cut back dramatically on the volunteer activities. Over time, my life just got drained of its "life". Dealing with the addiction was a daily ongoing "emergency". Now that emergency feeling is gone. I have accepted that I have "lost" and cannot control it. Now I want to retake some of what I gave up.
Has it been scary? Now that it has happened? No, it doesn't feel scary for me, although it might for some. But in the lead up, the possibility that my switch would flip and I would stop caring was terrifying. Like you, I longed for it AND dreaded it. I think it was scary because it seemed out of my control - I knew it would happen just this way - suddenly. It was also scary because I knew it would signal that I had lost. I would have to concede defeat and I am not used to having to do that. I am a bulldog and usually have the patience and work ethic to get what I want. In addition, I think part of the fear of conceding defeat was that it would somehow mean that I was not worth fighting for. As long as I was engaged in the relationship, I could ignore the writing on the wall - that he loved the addiction more than me. If I didn't make him choose, I wouldn't have to experience being "not chosen" once again. I had had enough of that feeling as a result of the addiction.
So now I don't have any existential fear, just routine fears about practical considerations. How do I tell people and how much do I tell, where will I live, will I regret whatever I do next? How will I feel about all this in 10 years, when I am a lonely cat lady? But I know that particular fear is silly. Being a lonely cat lady is infinitely preferable to life with a sex addict.
Over the last couple of weeks I've noticed a fair amount of contempt for my husband creeping into my thoughts. It has happened off and on over the last couple of years - I think as a by-product of the disgust and shock I've experienced after various discoveries and disclosures. Initially, I worked very hard to catch it and avoid it because my therapist counseled that contempt was death to relationships. In addition, I want to avoid it because it is the right thing to do.
Make no mistake - he has hurt others and destroyed me and our relationship with his behavior and lies and yes, contempt for me. But two wrongs don't make a right and allowing contempt to develop and hate to take root will only slow the long healing process I have ahead of me. So I have decided to list some things here that affirm my husband's humanity and worth. I have often recoiled at the manifestations of his illness, but he is not a monster. So here goes:
He can be very supportive of me and others who are struggling.
He has sustained emotional injury in his life and is deserving of compassion.
He can be very affectionate.
I suspect he has had his trust violated many times in his life.
He desperately wants to be loved.
He desperately wants to be accepted.
He can be very insightful.
He is funny.
He is very intelligent.
He enjoys caring for people.
He can be very sensitive.
Sometimes he is ruled by his fears to a degree that is truly pathetic. (in the non-contemptuous sense)
He can be very attentive.
I think he loves me to the best of his current ability.
I think he wants desperately wants to be whole, but doesn't know how or think he can.
I'm getting very sad. This disease is such a waste.
Thank you @Susannah for your thorough reply to my questions. I appreciate you taking the time to share that with me (everyone). I'm so glad that you're able to start getting back to a life you enjoy...one not completely overshadowed by your husband's addiction. It's so crazy how the progression happens. The effects of their addiction slowly creep in, gradually taking ahold of each aspect of your life one thing at a time until, suddenly, it completely controls/affects everything. Yet, it seemingly happened so quickly.
I think this is a big part of it for me. After all this time and all the effort I've given to try to fix this mess, and through all the heartache and pushing myself to hang in there a little longer, being patient and forgiving and supportive...the idea that it could be all for naught is almost unbearable. The only thing worse would be the realization that my defeat is at the hands of my teammate, the one person who is always supposed to be on my side helping me fight to victory.
This is an especially painful part for me, too. I'm sure it is for all SO's. It's really hard to accept that you as a real, loving, caring person aren't a better choice than something that is fake and non-existent.
Being a cat lady might not be so bad. They'll never make you feel the need to give up the parts of your life that bring you joy.
My weekend was a mixed bag, with some happy moments and some real dismal depths. This morning I have been getting some work done, but have not really felt like doing it. I realize that my whole body aches. All I seem to want to do is listen to Abbey Road over and over. I haven’t listened to that album all the way through in years, but today I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I feel generally spacey and seem to be alternating between feeling “normal” (whatever that even means anymore), pleasantly deceased, and alive but living in a Bunuel film. I swear I haven’t been smoking what the Beatles were smoking while they were writing and recording that album, but I do have the peculiar sensation that it was written for me.
So it seems it’s really not worth fighting. I guess I will just give in, listen to myself, and keep flipping that record over and over until it runs its course. I’ve always said that when this mess was over, I would write an epic poem about it. But while we wait for that, I offer this half-assed, Abbey Road inspired free verse:
Somewhere in her smile she knows That I don’t need no other lover. (What’s that like?)
Because the sky is blue, it makes me cry
Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head. Bang, bang Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that she was dead
…in the middle of the celebrations I break down
He always shouts out something obscene. Such a dirty old man
Boy, you gotta carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
And though she tried her best to help me…
Once there was a way to get back home
oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
"Oh Darling, please believe me,
I’ll never do you no harm
Believe me when I tell you
I'll never do you no harm
Oh! Darling, if you leave me
I'll never make it alone
Believe me when I beg you
Don't ever leave me alone” Too little, too late.
Are you going to be in my dreams tonight?
Pick up the bags and get in the limousine
Soon we'll be away from here
Step on the gas and wipe that tear away
One sweet dream came true today
Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
(And okay – just the entirety of Octopus's Garden , but especially this
Oh what joy for every girl and boy
Knowing they're happy and they're safe
Would my therapist consider this self-care or disfunction? Probaby disfunction……After all,
“She’s so heavy”
My husband used to always say, "Why are you acting like my adversary?" Umm...in order to protect myself from you?
Yes. This feeling sometimes bordered on a kind of panicked claustrophobia (something I've never really suffered from ) for me.
Has your husband noticed the recent shift in the way you are seeing and handling things?
I think so, but I never really know what he is thinking. These days he has an air of general panic. Trying to placate me, spinning excuse after excuse, lie after lie. He doesn't seem to really believe what has happened or what is coming. And why should he? I've thrown myself under the bus so many times, weakened in my resolve so many times, let him tear me down and dominate me so many times, handed him my dignity on a silver platter so often, stoically absorbed blow to the spirit after blow to the spirit, that he understandably doesn't believe I am really done this time. I have a feeling that he will not even believe it after I am physically gone, his capacity for denial is so immense.
I think that this is not only very common amongst PA's, but it's actually a requirement for them to be able to carry on with their addictive behavior. The impact of their addiction is so immense and far-reaching that it's simply too much to absorb so it's just easier to ignore it all.
It's sad how much loss is suffered by so many due to PA. As others around here have been writing about lately, oftentimes they don't know what they've got til it's gone.
Things are still pretty tense around here, with my husband trying every trick in the book to get me to be "not mad". I keep telling him I am not angry with him, and I can say with a completely clear conscience that this is true. I am not angry with him. In general. There are things he has done that can make me angry if I think about them, but I don't just walk around feeling anger toward him. He tries to goad me into expressing anger so that he can say, "Aha! See how angry you are?" I used to fall for this all the time. I would walk right into his trap and let him pick away at me until I lost my temper. Then he would shoot a little smile, then begin deflecting from his own behavior right onto mine. Usually, within an hour I was beaten down to the point that I would be apologizing to him. Yup. I was impulsive. I would fall for it even as I knew exactly what he was doing, and then follow up with hours of self-loathing over my weakness and humiliation. But what he didn't realize was that, with each goading, each provocation, each time I walked into his trap and failed to control myself, he was training me, Grasshopper-like, to withstand more and more. Now I am an iron lady. There are still things he can say to make me feel anger, but nothing he can say to make me express it. At least in front of him. I have gone outside into the woods and screamed. I have screamed into my pillow. I have gone outside with an axe and chopped the hell out of some firewood. But I do not, any longer, give him the satisfaction. When he has done his worst and I still haven't cracked, he begins all kinds of shenanigans to distract us both, ranging from just informing me of how angry I feel and what a liar am for not expressing it, all the way to actual self-injury. Anything to avoid taking responsibility for whatever he has done. Only, now I'm the one smiling.
this week he has tried to placate me with promises and saying the right words, etc. He has been showering me with physical attention, constantly asking for hugs and cuddles. But he has also come up with something diabolical. He works in a physical office one day per week and the preparation for this is often very tense for us, as he has historically acted out his addiction at work. On the morning of the most recent work day we had an argument. It isn't important what it was about - in fact I don't remember. But we resolved most of it before he went to work, but I was feeling pretty withdrawn from him, as I have been lately. So later that night he decided to give me a report about how his work day went. He reported that he had had some problems at work in the form of extreme ogling. He proceeded, unprompted by me, to give me details about who he had ogled and under what conditions. He then proceeded to inform me, in all sincerity, that the addiction had flared up because I had been treating him coldly and therefore he wasn't "feeling close" to me. And that "feeling close" to me is the key to keeping the addiction at bay while he is at work.
So, I know that I'm pissed. I just don't know what to be pissed about. The way I see it, there are three possibilities. One: he told me this in order to demonstrate that he "needs" me and that when we are not close, it affects him disastrously. He assumes I will take this as a sweet admission and be touched by it. Two: he cruelly and cynically told me this as a way to make me feel as if the addiction behaviors are my fault. Three: he is in such deep denial that he actually believes this shit.
The good news is that I did not react in any of the ways I would have in the past, ie apologizing, crying, asking how to avoid this in the future, promising to be more connected, showering him with sympathy and attention. Instead, I said, "Wow. I really feel sorry for the women you ogled. They are just trying to navigate around their workplace. Too bad they can't just earn a living without having to put up with Aqualung* perving on them. What's it like to have that privilege, sweetie?" It felt good. Grasshopper has become the master.
*Jethro Tull reference for you youngsters
IMHO ... bingo
I vote for the 2nd one also. That was my first thought before I read your three choices. It seems he is trying to manipulate and guilt you that it's your fault. I'm sorry.
I'd have to agree with the others before me. He's clearly laying the responsibility of his recovery directly on you by saying things like this...
I think he's sensing your newly found strength because his "Oh shit!" meter just spiked. I'm sure he'll try anything and everything to reel you back in because he doesn't know what we do...that Susannah is meeting her goal to stop trying to control things...today.
Hi Susannah...yup I get EXACTLY what you’re saying. My PA does exactly the same thing. A few years back, I was expecting a call from my son. When my son called, my phone was charging. PA was in the same room as my phone. I didn’t hear it until the last ring. When I heard it I ran in and looked. I saw a missed call from my son. Asked PA why didn’t you call me or at least answer it? He refused to answer me..I pushed and pushed and got madder and madder as he didn’t answer but just kept pushing a bowl of popcorn at me. I was furious...and ultimately ended up apologizing. Fast forward to two months ago..I brought up that situation, because I realized how pathetic it was for me to apologize. I asked him, why didn’t he call me or at least answer the phone. He looked sheepish , but with a smirk, and I said, I was pretty stupid for apologizing for his error or not wanting me to talk with my son. His reply, once again with a smirk, was...”Ya I know...I just didn’t want to talk to him.” I said he wasn’t calling to talk to you...he was calling to talk to me. WTF
THE MIND MANIPULATION is at times overwhelming.
I understand screaming in the woods 100%
I do remember believing that about myself, if I'm honest. For a couple years I even tracked in a monthly calendar the days I was pure, the days we had sex, the days I looked at P. or M., and days I was just tempted. Did this for a year, then looked back at the 12 pages for patterns (how many checks, or X's, how many Ps, Ms? Did they occur in groups?) Anyway, I did find that I was more horny and tempted when my wife and I weren't close and immediately AFTER having sex (chaser).
But it wasn't until the last 6 months of recovery here, that I learned the problem had always been ME. MY RESPONSES to stress, or triggers, or difficult emotions. I have trained myself FOR DECADES to use sexual pleasure as a cure-all panacea. The trigger is never the problem; the "default response to the trigger" is the problem. Now, in my current state of recovery (not long), I believe his addiction flared up because he has trained himself to GO THERE when he is treated coldly, as I did. He is responsible for learning how to handle arguments, disappointments, and periods of unresolved conflict like a MAN. HE alone is responsible for having trained his brain to require dopamine hits, instead of learning to face uncomfortable emotion; and HE alone is responsible for figuring out how to unlearn that behavior, and for taking the time required to rewire his own brain. I'm sorry, but "the key to keeping his addiction at bay while he is at work" ... he's got to go dig for that on his own.
Only you know your man. In my own ignorance, I would admit that in the past I honestly believed (1) I need to be close to the wife or I do bad things and (3) I was in such denial that I believed this. I would have said (2) not in cruelty and cynicism, but in ignorance and defensiveness, to try to get my wife to help me, and not feel so bad about myself. It's defensive blame-shifting disguised as false humility: "I need you." Farther into recovery I see it's all on ME. Sex. No sex. Alone. Together. Stress. Joy. Boredom. Anxiety. I have to LEARN to navigate them all without returning to the addiction. Sounds like he does, too...
Addiction as Learning Disorder ...
Thanks so much for your reply and for the video. You've said a lot in your reply, I'm thinking about it, and I want to give it the attention deserves before I respond. By the way, I really enjoy your journal, even if it does make me a little wistful sometimes, wishing my husband could get to where you are.
Thank you for this. I recently found out that he has been dismissed from two jobs in the past for on-the-job porn use. One of those jobs was a long time ago, before he and I even met, so....
This admission is very helpful. Your words at least make me consider that his blame-shifting is not the result of clear-thinking cruelty, but a product of his denial about the addiction. This helps me have compassion, which is always my goal. That said....regardless of why he did it, it puts me in an awful position. So often in the past I have taken the blame for his behavior and lived in fear of doing anything that would "cause" him to act out. I became a submissive, timid nobody.
Yes. Congratulations on understanding this and taking on this personal challenge. And for stating it so simply and elegantly. Your response means a lot.
@Susannah How are you doing?
How sweet of you guys to inquire. I haven't been posting much here lately. I'm not sure exactly how I am. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I am fine and getting back to a "functional" life. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday I am beyond broken-hearted. Sunday I spend repeating aloud, "I will never trust another man."
Thank you for replying. It sounds like you have made some decisions regarding your marriage and with that comes all the feelings and questions and grief. I think you are tremendously brave and smart and amazing. Sending you so much good energy and peace, hoping that soon more good hopeful days happen than sad ones.