The first time I walked into a twelve-step meeting for partners of sex addicts, I was blessed enough to meet a wonderful woman who shared her story with me. It humbled me greatly to listen to her experiences with her husband.
They’d been married a very long time and he’d struggled with porn and masturbation throughout the entirety of their marriage. They attended twelve-step meetings faithfully for many years but because he’d been sober for so long, life being what it is, they decided it was okay to stop going. They each felt they no longer needed the meetings.
Then one night, several months later, she woke up to the sound of cellophane unwrapping and her gut instinct immediately knew what it was. When she went into the living room, she found her husband watching pornography. His first slip in several years.
I remember her telling me that the signs of his imminent slip had been there, but no matter how often she tried to talk to him about it, he was unable to hear her, so she had to detach with love and let go and hope he wouldn’t slip. I remember thinking what a foreign concept that was to me. Detach? I was way too enmeshed to comprehend the meaning.
I also remember thinking that the whole thing was a bunch of crap. That if he was still slipping why was she still with him? Ah, the ego and naivety of newcomers :)
Yet, here I am, seven years after disclosure and I’m still with my husband and he also just had a slip. It almost mirrors the anon member’s tale. Devin hasn’t had a slip in almost two years so when things got hectic at work, I suggested he stop going to SAA meetings and only go to his weekly group meeting. (Insert me not staying in my own lane.) I figured, he was in a good place and this way he’d be at home more often spending time with the family. Good intentions, right?
What we both didn’t take into account were the stressors that were on the horizon for him. This time of year tends to be difficult for him anyway and this year we have some stuff to add to the mix.
Much like the anon member described in her story, the signs of an imminent slip were there, but no matter how much I tried to talk to him about it, he was unable to hear me, so I detached with love and let go.
He said taking away the SAA meetings may have been okay for a month, but it was a mistake on his part not to return after that. As the saying goes, “It works if you work it” and you can’t work it if you’re not there.
I'm grateful for my feelings regarding the slip and for his honesty about it too. I have no resentment, no feelings of wanting to control his recovery, no hits against my self-esteem. I honestly feel fine about myself and my wellbeing. The first few days for him were really tough. He carried a lot of shame and embarrassment. Some other old emotions that were resolved before like, feeling excluded, rejected, etc. popped up again but they didn’t last too long. He's back to digging into his program again...and returned to SAA.
Do you feel stressed this time of year or does this time of year make you happy? I’m finally able to say I’m happy to hear Christmas music now! It’s after Thanksgiving, so that makes it okay.