“What to expect when you’re expecting” -the sex addiction edition

One of the worst parts of dealing with my husband’s sex addiction was feeling like i was literally going crazy. Everything i thought i “knew” turned out to be false, things I thought to be true turned out to be a lie, and at every turn i began to question my reality. After having the privilege of talking to other women, i now realize that there is a list craziness that many (not all) partners of sex addicts experience, and it was comforting to know that I was not crazy and that i was not alone. 

Symptoms of living with a sex addict may include:

  • Insatiable urges to snoop, spy, and play detective
  • Feeling like you are outside of your body and floating through a bizarre world
  • Loss of appetite (or compulsive overeating)
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Fear of going crazy
  • Paranoid that everyone you know either has already slept with or is trying to sleep with your partner
  • Complete loss of sex drive OR completely going overboard and becoming hypersexual

Of course, not everyone experiences these things…I simply share from my experience and from friends who have experienced a similar list of craziness. The only thing I want to say is that there is hope and that there is help. Only by being VERY patient and kind to myself one day at a time was I able to even begin to put the pieces back together.

Today I am so overwhelmingly grateful at where my path has led me. Currently, the husband and I are fighting about something that has NOTHING to do with sexual addiction, which is quite lovely (though I’m too stubborn right now to tell him that). My dogs are sniffing around the kitchen looking for a snack, and my desk is full of papers and books for my MSW program that I’m halfway through. God is good. 

One book that I want to recommend this week is Mending a Shattered Heart by Stephanie Carnes. It is a great place to start, and has really helpful information from both the point of view of the addict and the spouse. 

http://www.amazon.com/Mending-Shattered-Heart-Partners-Addicts/dp/0982650590

 

Friends with Benefits

Rubber-band recovery happens after things in the crazy swirl of sex addiction start to quiet down. (And yes, things can and do eventually calm down!)

You come close together with comrades for awhile, then spread out. After a slow drift apart, a core group of us that had been part of our recovery group for years all got together for food, wine, and a beautiful night outdoors chatting. I realized that each one of these women, while not in my “normal” circle of day to day people, knew the deepest, darkest, most painful secrets that I have ever had to carry. And each one of them carries incredible strength, courage, intelligence, and beauty. I can’t imagine where I would be without them. Even though when I first found out about the addiction I had people who loved me, the support of well-meaning but ignorant people can be counter-productive at best and really destructive at worst.

oprah.com posted an article of 5 types of friends that every woman needs to have:

1. The uplifter

2. The travel buddy

3. The truth teller

4. The girl who just wants to have fun

5. The unlikely friend

For anyone in a relationship with a recovering sex addict, I suggest adding the following:

a. The friend with REALLY good boundaries- this is a non-triggering friend you trust is not trying to sleep w/your significant other

b. The recovery friend -one who doesn’t necessarily inhabit the day-to-day, but knows all the junk you would never share with your co-workers over cocktails

c. The 3am friend- someone you can call to come over and help you remove the S&M “artifacts” that you found in your house after your partner headed off to rehab (this was an interesting experience…she dealt with the whips, ropes, and vibrating underwear with a non-judgmental yet supportive attitude. )

d. The online friend- this friend is someone you’ve connected with in a recovery blog, chatroom, website, etc. This is someone who, even though you’ve never met in person, inspires you, gives you hope, courage, strength, and comfort by just knowing they are out in the world. I’ll give a shout out here to Lili, the phenomenal founder of PoSARC (Partners of Sex Addicts Recovery Center), who I am eternally grateful to for her insight, humor, and support. Highly recommend this site for anyone looking for help as they navigate the path of recovering from the effects of being in a relationship with a sex addict

e. The rainbow sprinkle friend- this type is a friend who knows absolutely zip, zero, zilch, NADA about your sex addiction issue, relationship issues, mommy issues, daddy issues, etc. This one, like their culinary counterpart, is simply there to add some color and some fun. Sprinkle friends are great for grabbing a drink, taking a yoga class, or just having someone light and fluffy to hang out with and chat about Pinterest, movies, etc.. I am inordinately grateful for my sprinkle friends. (Although I have never actually SAID to them that I see them as sprinkles…that probably wouldn’t go over very well…) 

Giving this blog a facelift!

I’ve been feeling really convicted lately about the tone of this blog. Re-reading some of the posts, I noticed that there are shades of “this is the right way to do things” throughout, which was not my intent when I started this blog. So rather than positioning this site as a “how-to,” I decided to change it to simply be field notes from my journey. As we say in 12-step, “take what is useful and leave the rest.”

I also changed the site from “his and her” addiction recovery resources to just my point of view. My husband, though very supportive of this blog, found it was too triggering and shaming to be actively participating in the day to day. He’s requested to stay in the loop as far as any requests/comments/questions/concerns from anyone out there, but is leaving the tale-telling up to me. He’ll pop in and out periodically to share from his perspective.

Thanks to everyone that stops by to read this. I always wonder if I’m putting things out into a void or if people actually find this helpful. I always appreciate feedback and comments, and am so blessed to be part of an amazing recovery community.

Rejoice Marriage Ministries

I saw this affirmation on a website very early on in my journey…it was just a few weeks after my entire life exploded. The scratches on my cheek from where i ground my face into the street in a screaming hysteria still had not properly healed. The pain was so searing I could barely move. I had just separated from my husband and moved 1500 miles away. I had quit my job, gave up my apartment, and wandered around for nearly 6 months crashing on couches, renting out spare rooms in people’s homes, and trying to make sense out of what had just happened. Affairs with my best friends. Affairs with strangers. Anonymous sex with men. Anonymous sex with women. Prostitutes. The list goes on…

I remember sitting alone in a doctor’s office to get STD tests and having to explain way. Trying to process through horrifying revelations that would have NEVER occurred to me to even think about.

What, ME pray for HIM? after everything that has happened? I can’t explain why, but stumbling upon this website brought me great comfort, and I wanted to share it. Not to boast in my own ability or to puff myself up on my own spirituality, but just to pass on what helped my heart heal, in the hope that it may touch another who needs to hear it. As always, take what is useful and leave the rest.

This is from the Rejoice Marriage website.

A Standers Affirmation

I AM STANDING FOR THE HEALING OF MY MARRIAGE!… I will not give up, give in, give out or give over ’til that healing takes place. I made a vow, I said the words, I gave the pledge, I gave a ring, I took a ring, I gave myself, I trusted GOD, and said the words, and meant the words… in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in good times and in bad…so I am standing NOW, and will not sit down, let down, slow down, calm down, fall down, look down or be down ’til the breakdown is torn down!

I refuse to put my eyes on outward circumstances, or listen to prophets of doom, or buy into what is trendy, worldly, popular, convenient, easy, quick, thrifty, or advantageous… nor will I settle for a cheap imitation of God’s real thing, nor will I seek to lower God’s standard, twist God’s will, rewrite God’s word, violate God’s covenant, or accept what God hates, namely divorce!

In a world of filth, I will stay pure; surrounded by lies I will speak the truth; where hopelessness abounds, I will hope in God: where revenge is easier, I will bless instead of curse; and where the odds are stacked against me, I will trust in God’s faithfulness.

I am a STANDER, and I will not acquiesce, compromise, quarrel or quit. I have made the choice, set my face, entered the race, believed the Word, and trusted God for all the outcome.

I will allow neither the reaction of my spouse, nor the urging of my friends, nor the advice of my loved ones, nor economic hardship, nor the prompting of the devil to make me let up, slow up, blow up, or give up ’til my marriage is healed.

- Author Unknown

 
 

Link

A big thanks to the recovery warriors out there….

I don’t really have much to say. Overwhelming few months. Things are going ok…we’re still together, still sober, still working it out one day at a time….

BUT i did want to throw a shout out to the people who stop by to read this and a huge thank you to the people who’ve taken the time to comment and send emails. The hardest part of the sex addict/co-addict journey has been the feeling of isolation. The emptiness. Especially with a subject as ‘taboo’ as sex addiction. I truly appreciate the recovery warriors who are out there on the front lines every day. If you are reading this, you are one of them. If no one has told you yet today…. You. Are. Amazing.

Thank you.

Detaching and letting go

As a raging love-aholic, if a dyson vacuum cleaner gave me a sweet smile and some attention, i’d probably become hopelessly attached to it. Nevermind what happens when that dyson vacuum cleaner sprouts arms, legs, and a face.

One of the joys of being married to a sex addict is that i have the opportunity to meet my needs and the needs of my inner children in a grownup, healthy way, since a sex addict (or any other human for that matter) is not capable of filling the gaping hole in my soul that only God can fill.

Well, that’s the theory.

Sometimes it’s easier to attach to the next best thing. Which isn’t always healthy. Or helpful. Or best for me. I’m proud of myself this time around for not getting mixed up in an emotional or physical affair. Been there done that. Grateful I do not have to confess that I fell into that trap, because I didn’t.

And yet.

I did find myself in a very emotionally dependent friendship with an extraordinarily unhealthy person. And I loved every second of it. The brain chemicals that produce happiness and euphoria would spike every time a text came through. Getting on the spinning record of repetitively going over past conversations over and over….and over…and over…and over.

So after 5 years of recovery, instead of letting this get totally out of hand, i chose to end the friendship before the friendship ended me. It was a very peaceful ending (probably because i never crossed any physical or emotional boundaries. The problem with this relationship existed solely in my broken brain and the way i chose to obsess and process through it). It was a very adult, non-dramatic, wish-each-other-the-best type of ending. I’m sure our paths will cross from time to time, and i’ll be there with a smile and a wave- but that’s all.

So healthy decision- check.

Investment in my well-being and the health of my marriage- check.

A raging tidal wave of feelings including shame, fear, sadness, grief, and loneliness that have now come roaring over me with the loss of this friendship- check.

This hurts.

He’s home…now what happens?

I don’t have an answer to that. I do have the flu. I think my body is in shock from the last 6 weeks flurry of activity. Moving, the holidays, now the husband is home. Trying to carve out my place in the house without falling back into old patterns. Sitting on my hands and gritting my teeth and not telling him what to do to get back into the recovery community here. Feeling like life is spinning WAY too fast and i’m not able to catch up. Need my body to heal first. Then maybe I’ll have the energy to wade through the chaos.

Just another typical day living in the land of sex addiction and recovery…..

I am a love addict

Just wanted to throw that out there…..realizing more and more what my own cycle looks like. And when I’m triggered “to use.” Like now, for example. And I don’t like this one bit.

It’s a scary place to be when my brain has all the information I need to recognize my behavior, understand it, and know what to do about it, yet the smaller parts of my insides are crying out for relief and my inner parent can’t/won’t soothe them and dry their tears.

I’m not well. But I will be…..

We’ve lost contact….

You know that scene in every space movie where the crew loses contact with mission control and there’s a total blackout and everyone on the ground is holding their breath waiting to see if the shuttle exploded or made it back safely?

Kind of like I feel now. I don’t like the ‘blackout’ period when hubs is in rehab and i’m on ‘the ground.’ Not that i ever really have control, but now i REALLY really don’t have control.

I don’t like this. Don’t like this at all. Current options in my funkily wired brain: Act out, overeat, overwork, undereat, underwork, sleep late, sleep deprive, sleep with someone, take drugs, smoke, drink….hmmm.

maybe i’ll just go to sleep, call it day, and reach out to some sane friends tomorrow.

Nite all. Grateful that I’m not alone on this crazy train of sex addiction and recovery!

October is relapse month apparently

Ironically, my last post was about triggers and trauma, and how october is trigger-y for me because it brings up memories of relapse. Well, a day after our anniversary- yet again- i found out my hubs had a really bad relapse that has continued for more than 4 months.

Sigh. I really hate sex addiction.

All I can though is I’m sticking to my guns- not giving up hope- ever. He is checking back into The Meadows on sunday, and i’m believing and praying that God is faithful to provide the same level of care and treatment that he received the first time.

He’s slated to come back in a week. his therapist thinks he needs more time. Will try to stay on my side of the street, take care of myself, not get lost in a swirl of acting out behaviors of my own, and continue to keep moving forward.

They say the average time it takes to recover from sex addiction is 5 years. This year is our fourth. Would have been nice to beat the system. Oh well.

My therapist told me that you can never really be “back in the same place you started.” Even though this feels awfully familiar, it is not the same situation as 2 years ago. We are not the same people as 2 years ago. We have more skills and tools than we did 2 years ago.

We can do this.

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