Links & Lingo
Here are some links to some sites you may find helpful. If one doesn’t work for you, another might. I highly recommend finding support of some kind. Don't go it alone and watch for toxic people who thrive in pain mining.
Please be careful who you confide in when it comes to sex addiction. I have found it can strain or ruin relationships. Most people don't understand sex addiction and look at the addict as a raging pervert or child molester. Some even find it as funny, an open invitation to joke simply because it has the word sex in it. You don't see that with cocaine addicts or alcoholics but you do with sex addicts. Confide in people who have been through what you have been through too. If possible, get counseling from someone familiar with sex addiction or at the very least with addiction. I'm not a doctor but I sure act like one, huh?
Not Just Friends by Shirley P. Glass: this book was a great read for Devin and for me. He said he wished he’d read it earlier in our marriage. He refers to it still by saying "walls and windows, baby" to remind me that he’s got good boundaries in place.
Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means: I ordered this a week before my Disclosure Week but it took awhile to get to because I had ordered every other book on the planet regarding sex addiction. I wish I had read this one first. It reassured me I wasn't insane. It let me know that my nightmares, my constant checking up on Devin, my panic attacks, my insomnia, my tremors, were all real...and a form of PTSD. THE BEST BOOK EVER in my opinion. It saved my sanity.
Erotic Intelligence by Alexandra Katehakis: this book gives a guide to help couples reclaim a healthy, erotic connection after the pain of sex addiction and it's betrayals. I suggest waiting a few months after disclosure before reading it.
5 Languages of Love: good for any marriage, not just sex addiction.
The Couples Guide to Intimacy: This should only be read after the PTSD has subsided and you're ready for healthy, sexual intimacy.
Even Al-Anon can help if you can’t find one of these groups in your area.
For sex addicts:
and my husband identifies with:
Candeo: My husband credits this online program to the beginning of his recovery. When he learned how to FRC (Face It; Replace It; Connect) he hasn't had a slip with porn since. It’s worth the monthly fee.
Recovery Nation: This is good for the addict or the partner and it's free!
Terms you'll see used quite a bit when dealing with sex addicts and their partners:
Sex Addict (SA): a persistent and escalating pattern or patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self or others. (porn, masturbation, repeated affairs, cyber/phone sex, multiple/anonymous partners, strip clubs, prostitution, etc.)
Disclosure Day (DDay): That's the day when we found out about an affair. It may be affair number one, two, or three. I had two disclosures and that’s common. Most addicts are afraid to tell the entire truth the first or second time around. That’s why my second disclosure to a week to get the entire truth from Devin.
Trigger: This one is kind of hard to explain because it's different of everyone so I'll explain it the way I experienced them. It's an uncontrollable, emotional response to something around you that instantly reminds you, or even flashes you back to a moment in time. Sometimes it can even make you feel like you are in that moment in time. Similar to a flashback. It can be a picture, smell, a place, even a facial expression. For me, my triggers have lessened over time, and rarely happen anymore. They are extremely unpredictable. I give huge credit to Devin for learning this one valuable lesson over everything else - simply accept the fact that I am going to trigger. Don't ask why. Don't ask for how long. Don't tell me I should be over it. Just ask what you can do, hug me if I'll let you and if I don't then give me space. In this area, he gets all A's...but it took lots of lessons.
Trickle Truth (TTing): When the sex addict drags on the truth. They give bits and pieces like little breadcrumbs not realizing how much pain they are causing their partner in the process. As the partner begins to heal, BOOM, more damage is caused as more truth is revealed and the partner has to start from scratch and any progress made is lost. Trust me, it's better to be hurt, completely destroyed, crushed and damaged, in one shot than have it drug out over time.
Emotional Affair (EA): This one comes in many forms. It's important for couples to decide what's acceptable and what's not in their relationship. For each couple it's going to be different, but for the most part, it means - emailing on an intimate basis....supplying more than necessary on a personal level. Things like inner thoughts and feelings. Like your spouse and frustrations at home....blurring that line. When you've begun to turn to that person instead of your spouse - or your spouse doesn't know about that person...you're in trouble.
Online Affair (OA): Take the EA and add a sexual element to it. Flirting, sexual innuendos, risqué pictures, nude pictures, sexting, web cam, IMing, chatting, meeting on adult sites....you get the idea.
Other Women (OW) Other Man (OM): The women they cheat with.
Pain mining: I was guilty of this countless times. It's when you find yourself smack in the middle of doing a behavior that you know will hurt. For instance, I would log onto an affair website, a great site for me in the beginning when I thought it was “just” one online affair Devin had been guilty of but I began to trigger whenever I logged on. I logged on anyway just to be around people who knew what I was going through because I felt so alone. Another example, I'd log onto Devin's alias email accounts even though it would cause me anxiety attacks because I'd find old emails from OW or new one's from them trying to reestablish contact.
Hyper Vigilant: This was something I experienced for many months. I neglected my children and it wasn't until I completed my fourth step that I was able to admit that…I neglected my children to be hyper vigilant. I also neglected my work. So, what is it? I'll explain what I did: I logged onto my husband's email accounts a dozen times a day to see if any of the OW contacted him. I made excuses to get up and find something to do so I could walk past him while he was doing his homework or on ebay, but really, I was making sure he wasn't surfing porn. I waited for him to leave so I could check his computer to see if he surfed porn or deleted any cookies. I had to put myself on a schedule to wean myself off of checking his email accounts until finally I changed all the passwords to something I'd never remember. I became addicted to his addiction.
Why Did I Stay?
Why did I stay? The simple answer would be love, but the honest answers are never simple, are they? No, honesty is usually a bit more complex. Not to mention, love wasn’t enough, not this time.
I stay because I was able to love my husband despite his addiction. I was able to remove the addiction from the equation of his character, as I had always known him, as the man he was when we met and love him. Then, I added the addiction back into the equation and added all of the things the addiction included. The setbacks, the lies, the required patience from me, the meetings, the counselors, and I still found I loved him for the man he was and still is today.
I stand by his side because as a 25 year sober cocaine addict, I have a unique understanding of walking his path. My path was not as difficult and that’s okay, it was mine. I don’t judge him for his struggles because it’s not my place to judge, I am not God. I do understand the desire to want to be sober and the disappointment when there is an inner struggle between want and ability. I have faith. Faith in him and Faith it will be okay.
I’m here because I am finally healthy enough mentally to know without a shadow of a doubt that it’s because I want to be. I always knew I was able to walk away if I had to, and I still will if need be. Devin knows if he cheats again or recovery is not ongoing, I’m leaving. I will live in a cardboard box before I would put myself through that mental anguish again. However, I am finally confidant enough in my recovery to know I am not codependent anymore and I have exorcised all my demons. I don’t need the confirmation of my rockin’ counselor to confirm it this time.
I was once asked how I could respect my husband after all he had done to our marriage and me. For me, it’s quite easy. He is more than his addiction, and his actions were a result of his addiction. I’m more than my addiction too. My addiction does not define me any more than his defines him. The thing I respect the most; he is remorseful and has been since Disclosure Day. It has helped me heal, move forward and get past my triggers.
Another question asked of me was how could I allow him to touch me again? How could we be intimate? This was trial by fire. We went through hysterical bonding (nookie all the time). It’s common; if you’re new to the disclosure world, don’t be surprised, you’re not alone. When that phase wore off, I found I would cringe at his touch. I would cry if we tried to be intimate, or even in the middle of being intimate. I had to set boundaries and often times those boundaries changed on a day-to-day basis. We took it slow. We held hands, then hugged, then progressed from there and made a game of it until I was comfortable again, always knowing I could trigger at anytime and that was okay. After over three years, I can't even recall the last time I triggered while being intimate. Another common phase to drift in and out of (at least for us) is sexual anorexia - no sex at all. This happens when Devin is struggling with something he's working on in his recovery. It's a mental disease for sure and it's not about sex, it's about emotional intimacy.
A word of advice that I wish was imparted on me: It is normal to want to surround yourself with people in your situation. People who understand your pain, and who also think your husband is a prick for cheating on you. Please allow me to caution you, if you truly want your marriage to work, try your best to stay away from those people who are full of hatred and rage. They are bitter and you may become bitter too. The same holds true for anyone who is stuck in the loop of hyper vigilance. It is normal to behave this way for a little while, it’s a natural response, but it has to come to an end. If you’re surrounding yourself with people who thrive on that behavior, you will too. It’s unhealthy and will bring you down and cause further damage to your healing process. Please trust me on this. It happened to me. I got stuck there for months!