It’s Not Personal



I’m continuing with my series, After Disclosure. My previous post was on Compartmentalization. If anyone would like to suggest a topic, please feel free to post it in the comment section or send me an email and rest assured, you will remain anonymous.

This week I’m going to try to tackle a topic that was very hard for me to wrap my head around: It’s Not Personal.

Sex addiction isn’t about the sex. That’s what they tell you when you go in and meet a C-SAT (Certified-Sex Addiction Counselor) for the first time. It’s an intimacy disorder. Um, what? It’s got the word sex in the name, how can it not be about sex? Was this doctor we were seeing off his rocker? Was he really certified in this crap? Then, to top it off, my husband was telling me it wasn’t personal: the porn, the online affairs, the chat rooms, even the two encounters he had with women in person…none of it meant a thing to him.

How was this even remotely possible? Because I had been stuck in such a state of hypervigilance for so long (I don’t recommend this for anyone because you can’t un-see what you find), I knew that some of those online affairs had lasted for a year or more. How was that not personal? Yet, he insisted he had no feelings for any of the women he’d been involved with. Of course my immediate reply was B.S. You can’t talk to anyone for that long, in that way, and not feel something.

Still, he continued to insist he felt nothing. That the women were merely objects to him. It wasn’t until I sat down with him one day and we went over what I dubbed, “The List.” It had all the women’s names and information on an Excel spreadsheet. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly in a healthy place after disclosure. I mean, who would be, right? I had Relational Trauma. I had PTSD from this mess. 

Each cell on the list contained what transpired between the woman and Devin. When a question popped into my head, out came The List and the interrogation between us began. And Devin put up with it because he was doing anything to try to repair our broken marriage.

During one such discussion, I asked him about a woman he’d exchanged emails with for a few months. The emails were pages long. I felt he must’ve invested hours thinking of her while he composed them. When I asked about her, he couldn’t remember her name at all. We were at a point after disclosure where there was no reason for him to hold back anything. I already knew the worst of everything, so I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t be forthcoming about a person’s name. Then, I gave him her email address. Light bulb moment. That’s how he remembered her. Her email address. Just another email in his inbox. And he didn’t spend a ton of time on the emails. They’d been cut and pasted from somewhere.

Now it was my light bulb moment. He really didn’t put any emotional investment into these women. They were a means to an end. A way for him continue to numb his emotions the way I numbed mine with drugs before I got sober. It started to make a bit of sense that this disease truly was an intimacy disorder despite the name it had been given.

It allowed me to start to see the things he’d done in our marriage in a new light. Yes, the pain was still there, but it helped me gain a better perspective on his disease. The escalation of his addiction had caused him to do some damaging things, but now it was time to learn how to heal from that betrayal.

Have you ever had a profound light bulb moment?