Thursday, July 21, 2016

Partner of an Addict

I haven't published a blog post in over 3 years, and let me tell you, a lot has happened since then. Short Stuff is now 7 and is going into second grade! Also, hubby and I welcomed a boy, Little Man, in Jan of 2014. He is two and half, and is lovey, talkative, and stubborn.

On the personal front, Hubby and I have had some very rough patches a year ago. Remember in my "About Me" I said I wouldn't pretend to be something I'm not. This is me trying to do that out loud. To show you the real, tough issues of life.

I've never actually said this out loud..I am the partner of a sex addict. There it is.

Let me address some questions, questions I've worked through, both in therapy, and how it makes sense in my own life.

How did you find out?
Snapchat. There used to be a feature that you could see your friends top friends. I saw a womans name I didn't know, as #1. She actually used her first and middle name, so I was able to find her on twitter and facebook prior to confronting him. She was about 10 years younger than him and a student at a nearby college. I knew once I found that out. I also was able to see the red flags I didn't want to see before that helped me get to the truth. He tried to deny it at first but then admitted to it.
I sank into a depression, so called a therapist about a week later. My husband has a history of "Adverse Childhood Experiances," basically lots of trauma in his childhood. If you are familiar with the ACE's score, he has 9 out of ten. My therapist is the first that suggested it might be an addiction because of his history of trauma. Its a way of dealing with it, he used to deal with it with drugs, but he hasn't done that since before we first got together.

Are you sure that's not just an excuse?
That was my first thought when my therapist suggested it. So I read. and asked lots of questions.  All I can say is the shoe fits. I found out later he also had an affair with a woman that is older than his mom, so clearly it has nothing to do with me, or the other woman for that matter. Compulsion, going on the hunt to numb out, wanting to dominate as a way to feel in control. A little like alcoholism, but a little different too. Still the loss of control, wanting to stop and having trouble doing so despite having negative consequences. Different in the fact that I can't just throw out the bottles of liquor and avoid situations where people are drinking. Sex and triggers are everywhere. To me, sex addiction is NOT an excuse. It helps explain some of the behavior, but that doesn't mean that he's off the hook. It also helps me to stop blaming myself for what happened. This is NOT my fault. It still could have happened no matter if I was super loving and intimate with him all the time. Also if it happens again, he can't just say "it's an addiction!" It means that we can't just write it off as a one time thing that won't happen again. It means that both of us have to work both together and separately on the issue. And let me tell you, its WORK. Work that I am still struggling with even two years after the discovery.

Why did you stay?
To be honest, in the beginning, it was mostly because of the kids. I didn't want to put them though that. I wanted to at least "Give it my best Shot" before calling it off. My parents are divorced, and although they stayed together till I was in college, their marriage was over years before that. I felt like they never tried to make it better. Things were bad, got worse, and even worse and they didn't do anything to try to fix it. I didn't want that to be the case with my kids. If we do get divorced, I want them to know that we tried, really HARD. My therapist said that staying isn't a choice you make and that's the end of it, it's a choice you make every day. "Today, I am going to stay." There were and still are (although less now) some times when I do want to go. Hubby is also actively working on his recovery. (He wasn't after I first found out)  At the time, we were fortunate enough live within 50 minutes of a therapist who specializes both in childhood trauma and sexual addiction. We went to him as a couple and he went separately, as well as to a psychiatrist. Plus, I love him and I know we can still have a great life together. We can work through this and build a stronger foundation.
For each person its different. I advocate to listen to your inner wisdom. Glennon Doyle Melton, author of "Carry On Warrior" (and blogger) calls it your small quiet voice. Find a way to get in touch with that voice. Some people leave, some stay. Either way a person chooses is right for them. Carry on Warrior was a book that was given to me by a dear friend at the time and was so helpful after I found out. I'm currently reading her new one "Love Warrior."

Who knows?
Not many people. His parents and brother, My sister, a few of my friends, and one or two of his. More people know he's going to therapy and that we have gone to couples counseling, like my parents, but they don't know why.

What were the red flags?
Leaving much earlier for work than he needed to, saying he wanted to get a head start on the day, but not coming home any earlier.
 Being emotionally distant, to both me and the kids. This was tough for me, because he had complained with both of my pregnancies that I was cold and not my loving self. The affairs that I know of happened from when I was about 3 months pregnant to 3 months postpartum so I chalked his distance up to me being pregnant because I was distant too. I remember when I was still on maternity leave (before I found out) expecting him to get closer, but still feeling that distance from him and wondering why. I looked at a picture of hubby holding our son after he was born, and the look on his face was like he wasn't there. I couldn't see it back then, mostly because I didn't want to. I mean what are you going to do when you are 9 months pregnant and find out your husband is having an affair?
Never leaving his phone anywhere. I also didn't know the pass code. My phone had died one time and he wouldn't let me use his for something, and he got mad. HUGE red flag there.
Also, talking or using his phone where I couldn't hear or see him, like in his car or the garage. My husbands a smoker but he never used to go to his car to smoke. He'd also stay out there longer then usual, especially since it was cold.
Getting upset for no reason, having a short fuse.
Not wanting to have sex. Again chalked this up to pregnancy, and then not being able to for a time after the birth of our son. He didn't even want to touch me though.

What would your advice be to partners after they find out about an affair?
Go to therapy for yourself. Even if your partner doesn't want to go with you, go for yourself. Hubby didn't start going to therapy till at least 3 months after I found out, and it wasn't with someone who had experience working with SA (sex addicts). He saw her for about 5 months then quit going. He later confessed that he pretty much dictated where the sessions went and would veer her off course if he didn't like where it was going. He didn't start actively working on himself until we went to therapy together.
Figure out what you want. Find that voice in you that tells you when something is wrong, the voice that , some refer to this voice as God, others to their inner power, the guiding voice that wants to protect you. Its never a loud voice. Its a soft, quiet voice, the voice of wisdom.
SELF CARE! For me its yoga once a week (at night, without the kids) regular coffee and lunch dates with friends, writing my feelings down, and time alone to reflect.

I really hope this helps someone who is going through what I am.  Its so important to have a group of supportive people around you. But be choosy about who you tell. I told my sister and that was a big mistake. I had to stop telling her things because she started to hate my husband and was not helpful for my healing process at all.