Hannah

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  1. Hannah added a post in a topic How to Discuss   

    What you’re saying about parental controls, I blocked porn on my ISP account. It didn’t take my husband very long to get around it, but even then he still was able to access porn. He some videos stored on his computer/hard drive back up. He was able to access other materials not blocked by the parental controls that involved partially clothed/topless/near nudity and full frontal nudity. He certainly considered buying DVDs although I’m not sure if he did. 
    Unlike your husband, there was no apparent charge in his behaviour towards me. If anything, it was around about this time that the distance between us was getting bigger and something didn’t feel quite right. But nothing changed. I had a false sense of security from the parental controls for a little while but my intuition told me otherwise. He’s very tech savvy so I figured it was only a matter of time, and I was right. 
    I recognise all those fakey “I love you’s”. If I had interrupted his porn time which I sometimes did because I so wanted to catch him in the act, he’d jump out of his chair after closing the lid on his laptop and be all hugs and kisses and I love you, and offering me cups of tea. Of course I knew what he’d been doing but he had it all set up to avoid detection. I had this idea in my mind that unless I had any evidence there was no way to confront him, and nothing had ever changed early on when I did find evidence. To him, getting caught out was a learning s opportunity. I felt completely powerless. I wish I’d actually just come out and said it, but I was scared  of the aggravation I might cause. I ‘ll come back with the rest of my story because I paid the price of “put up and shut up” and it’s not good for any woman to do that. Just as their porn addiction is progressive, so is our distress. 
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  2. Hannah added a post in a topic How to Discuss   

    Feelbroken, thank you for sharing your story. It appears a very familiar one as many women on this forum will testify. Like you and Cowslip, I was also aware of my husband’s porn use. I knew he’d been using internet porn regularly for at least 15 years before I couldn’t take the isolation any more. Before that he’d bought magazines and DVDs, and VHS movies before there were DVDs. It was always something that he kept hidden but as soon as we had the internet at home he was straight on the porn sites, which I found in his browsing history. He soon learned how to clean up all traces of what he’d been doing, so I couldn’t prove anything. As with Cowslip, it was my intuition that told me he was using porn, not his internet history. 
    I noticed an immediate effect on our sex life. His interest in sex decreased almost straight away and even physically his responses and reactions seemed less intense. Our sex life dwindled to maybe 3 or 4 times a year. I’d always have to initiate, and I mean ALWAYS. Every time. I’d be getting turned down more often than not, and in the end he was losing his erection and couldn’t finish. It was soul destroying for me, to know he was masturbating to that garbage and making all that effort to make the time for it and then make sure there was no evidence that I might accidentally stumble across. I never touched his computer or his phone but he was still very meticulous about leaving no trace. 
    The reason why I’m saying this is that porn addiction is progressive. I had no clue at the time. I had reached a sort of a truce with him where as long as there was no physical infidelity I would ‘accept’ his porn habit and turn a blind eye. This turned out to be a big mistake on my part but the way I saw it at the time was that he didn’t want me sexually, he wanted porn, and not me. I felt that the rest of our relationship was good. So what else could I do? Every time I confronted him about the porn he’d say he’d stop using it but within the week he’d go back to it. He wasn’t interested in having sex with me, so I ‘tolerated’ it as the only option. I thought our relationship would carry on working well in every other respect but some years later I realised that the porn had a very damaging effect on other aspects of our relationship. That’s why I believe it’s never a good idea to put up and shut up. 
    I’ll have to continue this post later on, but please remember you’re not alone
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  3. Hannah added a post in a topic 'Enabling' my husband's porn addiction   

    Yvonne, I so understand your pain as do many other partners here. In order for the courageous women on this forum to offer you some words of kindness and support, may I suggest that you copy and paste your post in a new thread? Otherwise it may get a bit lost. Please don’t be afraid to reach out X
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  4. Hannah added a post in a topic Disclosure to partner: what should be told?   

    Thank you for sharing your various perspectives. I can understand why some people would want to spare their partner the pain of learning the truth. I can understand the distress caused by hearing the truth too. I have asked myself what I would want to know  and why. Like Florrie, I too have felt that if I ask for information I would expect a truthful answer. At the same time, I accept the reality that my husband could lie. What is best for the long term health of our relationship? What is the best for my own recovery and well-being?
    My husband didn’t need to tell me anything. His behaviour had already isolated me with the relationship. By d day I was severely depressed and clinically underweight. I was a mess. My self esteem was non existent. That’s what *not telling* can do.
    My husband has admitted to having a problem with porn. So we dealt with it. As for my other suspicions, I had gut feelings which prompted me to ask him questions that he denied. This was some time before d day. After asking I felt I’d blown it, that I’d actually minimised my chances of ever knowing the real truth because I alerted him to be on his guard. Nothing has changed in that regard  
    I have gone forward with the acceptance that I may never know the truth about my husband’s  behaviour. The more time passes the less likely I feel I will ever know. I asked again after d day, and he lied just about everything anyway. Unless I had proof. Some things can never be proven so unless he is honest I’m never going to know. 
    I don’t especially want details. I know that details can be upsetting and triggering but that’s not the same as having a true overall picture. The next question is, Would it help me to know? How would it help me? Does “not knowing” help me? Bear in mind that I have asked already, so how do i feel about living the rest of my life under a delusion? Or the possibility of a delusion?
    I will come back once I’ve thought more about  this one
    Thanks everyone  
     
     
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  5. Hannah added a post in a topic Struggling to trust again   

    “What worries me is that, how can he ever really be happy with me. How will I ever be enough? How do I really work through this? Will it ever go away? The boundaries are set and he knows that another serious issue would be the end for us”
    Oh, Judith, I understand that feeling so well. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with it  I’m over 2 years into recovery but what I can pass on to you is that you are competing with a ‘thing’, a substance, an object. No one person can ‘compete’ with that thing, that entity that is at the core of the addiction. Not that lady in the picture  No individual woman can. Not even that lady can compete with the chemical soup in the brain of a porn/sex addict. They are chasing the high. 
    Judith, you ARE enough  It took me a lot of time to get past this mindset but I did. Learning about porn addiction was an enormous help. There is a website called YourBrainOnPorn.com where there is a video that explains what’s going on in the brain of a porn addict. It’s about seeking and novelty, dopamine, creating pathways in the brain, the hijacking of the brain’s reward system and sensitisation to the ‘thing’ they’ve become addicted to. They appear to be people that the addict is seeking out, but it’s not really. They’re just the ‘substance’ that’s needed to get the high.
    Obviously, the way to feel OK about yourself takes a lot more than understanding what goes on in men’s brains when they look at porn or similar, but it explains what people mean when they say it’s not about the us, that we weren’t the cause of it or that we weren’t good enough. 
    A bit about me. My husband was an internet porn addict for 15 years and before that he was buying magazines and videos from seedy sex shops although I only ever found two magazines on one occasion. He also went to strip bars, which I was never supposed to find out about. In truth, I don’t really know how far it goes back, but as soon as he was online at home I lost him to porn addiction. Eventually we had no sex life whatsover. Zero. Nothing. No interest in me. Never looked at me. Never complimented me. I could have been stark naked and he’d just keep his nose in his book. Eventually I got dressed and undressed in the bathroom. I knew full well about the porn but after if caught him in the first days and weeks of getting online he had all these cleanup apps installed. 
    It really hurt. Deep down I felt rejected because I was over 30 (oh, hahaha, seems so young now) and then I was over 40... and so on. So I thought it was all over. I only managed because I was in denial. I ended up feeling totally rejected and lonely and depressed. Nobody ever touched me or kissed me. I had to ask for a goodnight peck, otherwise he would just turn over and go to sleep. So, did I feel not good enough? In my mind I BELIEVED I was not good enough, never would be, never could be. I didn’t see the depression coming. I developed a sort of adult onset midlife anorexia. I didn’t know it could happen. But it did and it happened to me. I developed body dysmorphia. I was shrinking away to nothing because I believed I had no right to take up space. Hiding my ‘hideous’ body from my husband was so easy because it would never occur to him to look. Privately I could see I was emaciated. And then one day I saw myself in the mirror and had a depressive breakdown. My only thought at the time was “he’ll never want me now. Everything I once was has gone forevermore”. That was how far it had to go before he quit porn, and even then it was only the beginning of all the pain of discovering the extent of this habit and all the lying. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone. 
    I wasn’t his porn type. I soon discovered that. I had gone through my early adult life with this enviable physique and I’d pretty much stayed the same shape but I wasn’t some 36GG painted Barbie. I didn’t have a negative body image at all. But somehow, in midlife I ended up painfully thin and frail with body dysmorphia disorder, and that was before I had any idea about what he sought out in porn. 
    I stopped neglecting my appearance. I treated myself to some new clothes. I coloured my hair. I bought some nail varnish. I started eating more. I was clinically underweight and it took some time to gain weight. I didn’t want to eat junk either.
    I bought some self help books. Gael Lindenfield does some good ones on building self esteem. I tried to get back to my previous interests and hobbies though this was hard because I was so distressed and preoccupied as the reality of my husband’s addiction behaviours slowly tricked out, and I was traumatised over and over with new discoveries followed by lying and denial. It was hell.
    I bought myself some cheap exercise books and biros and I wrote and wrote and wrote to get it all out of my system. My anger, my hatred for porn, and the industries that make money from this misery, the difficult emotions about my husband. I journalled a lot. 
    I saw my GP who arranged counsellor. Not brilliant but it was support for me. Not for us as a couple but just for me. I couldn’t deal with it along. 
    My husband began to appreciate me physically after d day but to be honest this was more of a honeymoon period. As soon as I raised an awkward issue or when I discovered more evidence of his acting out which he would deny, this would create rifts which he did not have the skills and maturity to deal with. So I noticed the compliments were not so forthcoming. And then one day something lit up in my mind — I don’t need his compliments to feel worthwhile. If he doesn’t notice, then so what? I notice! I can see who’s looking back at me in the mirror, and she’s an impressive lady. He’s a man with a problem, he’s a porn addict, and I’m not going to let his behaviour that caused so many problems for me decide whether or not I’m going to feel good about myself. 
    So so that’s how it began. That was my turning point. Of course it’s not that easy. There are many difficult and upsetting moments, but the important thing is to uncouple yourself from his ‘approval’. It’s late and I’ve been writing for ages so i’ll stop. I hope this helps. I still get upset about it all. I still feel like an ugly nobody at times. I still feel wretched when I have my doubts and suspicions. Our ‘recovery’ is far from ideal. But I know that where he is lacking, I must continue to work on my own personal healing. 
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  6. Hannah added a topic in Partner Concerns   

    Disclosure to partner: what should be told?
    I’ve read in Paula’s book for addicts and also read Esther Perel and sometimes it seems the advice to the addict/betraying partner is that disclosure is not always necessarily the right thing to do. On the other hand, we read a lot about the importance of honesty and transparency during the disclosure ‘stage’, assuming that disclosure actually happens. 
    What I want to ask is this: 
    What if the partner asks? What if the partner wants a full and honest disclosure? Should the addict/betraying partner answer honestly and completely? And what if, after some time to allow the addict some time to come to terms with the reality of having damaged his relationship through to his previous behaviours and quitting, what then if the partner asks him to disclose anything not yet made known? 
    Is lying or non disclosure still justifiable when the partner asks? Is it still OK to uphold any previous lies and denials just because the addict has quit and doesn’t want to experience conflict or ‘upset’ his spouse? In other words, is it OK to keep secrets because it’s not a good idea to rock the boat again?
    If relationship experts warn about purging the soul to feel better, or to think long and hard about upsetting the relationship by revealing the truth, what if it’s the partner who is actually proactive in seeking the truth? Is it ‘right’ to lie? Is it fair on the partner to expect her to believe lies, even if she asks for honesty? 
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  7. Hannah added a post in a topic Partner of a porn addict and my own painful history   

    Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate that you have taken the time to do so  
    To my knowledge, my partner didn't watch violent porn, but he certainly developed a compulsion to use porn to the exclusion of our sex life. People would consider it strange that a couple didn't have sex for years but that's what really happened. It was a gradual process that happened over time, years not months. Initially I thought his internet porn use was just from the novelty and curiosity of being able to access it online for the first time but it became a regular habit very quickly and had an almost immediate effect on our sexual relationship, although it was subtle at first. What killed it off was his perennial loss of interest in having sex with me. 
    I actually believe that the roots of his porn addiction go further back Without going into too much detail, he was primed for it to happen as soon as he had access to an unlimited supply. 
    I sought counselling for myself as well as a course of CBT on the NHS, but it's really difficult because my recovery encompasses so many aspects. There's ageing, poor body image, low self esteem, loss of identity, a collapse in the trust I had for my partner - especially when I discovered how easily he could lie about it, loss of the ability to communicate openly with each other and the shame of being rejected for porn. 
    Something else I want to say about porn: The normalisation of porn makes it very difficult for women to speak out about their partner's  porn use.  The most common reaction is "all men watch porn" and the reaction is either to get over it and don't be a prude, or alternatively or that we should pornifying ourselves to please our men, or watching it with him.  It's almost always about accommodating what the man wants.  But what about the man accommodating what the woman wants?  I didn't one porn as the third-party in my relationship, because that's effectively what it was,  but my husband didn't respect that. 
    My objection to porn isn't necessarily on moral grounds, although I find the extent of objectification of women in modern-day porn absolutely abhorrent. Nor is my objection of porn because of my what happened in the past. It's because of the very negative impact of porn on my relationship. 
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  8. Hannah added a topic in Partner Concerns   

    Partner of a porn addict and my own painful history
    My partner quit porn last year after many years of porn addiction. I just couldn't deal with it any longer. I was at the point of emotional breakdown and self harm. My husband was shocked to discover me in such a state. He quit as much for his own reasons as he was suffering in secret and had tried to quit but found that he couldn't. He has been successful so far but I've had a lot of trouble coming to terms with how we ended up in such a negative rut.
    Reading through Paula's book for partners I have had to face my own sexual history which began with a very traumatic sexual assault at the age of 12 by a group of youths aged about 14-17 years old. The grabbed me, stripped me, and intended to rape me one by one, telling me they'd kill me if I told anyone. Someone must have tipped off the police or witnessed it because two policeman came running past and the boys ran, with the police in pursuit. The two policemen ignored me, which at the time I was glad about because I feared my parents finding out and my school too. I thought I'd get into trouble. This was in the 1970s and I know from campaigns in the 80s that rape was not taken seriously and victims were not treated with respect in those days. I was not raped. There was no penetrative sex but I was sexually assaulted. Most of all I remember being in a state of shock. I went to my friends house and told her what happened, although I didn't quite remember that clearly because I was numb with shock. The following day I didn't go to school. I stayed at home whilst my parents were at work. I never told them. All I remember was that I was still in shock that day. I was just 12 years old. 
    I grew up with this shameful secret. I've never told anyone in my adult life. My husband doesn't know. 
    I have never liked porn. I have always considered it abusive, the gratuitous objectification is disturbing to me. I was really upset when I learned of porn categories like "teen porn" and "gang bang" and "rape" for obvious reasons. Even in social media, the abuse directed at women in the public eye, with threats to rape and murder is disturbing. 
    My husband says he didn't watch "abusive" genres of porn, but to me, that whole realm of watching and objectifying and consuming women as commercial products is horrible anyway. Not only do I dislike porn for its objectification of women, I dislike the male attitudes to viewing consuming porn, and the normalisation of this porn culture. As a 12 year old, although this was before Internet and hardcore videos, I felt that I was reduced to the level of entertainment when I was sexually assaulted by that gang, a lot like being the subject of a "teen rape" genre of porn video.
    I watched a documentary on sexism and "lad culture" which included references to online rape threats directed at women on social media. I found myself crying by the time the programme ended. I couldn't believe how violent sexual threats towards women were just like "hey, it's ironic" and complaints about sexism were dismissed as just humourless feminists who should "get over it". 
    How what happened to me at the age of 12 ties in with my difficulties in overcoming the effects of my partner's porn habit on my self esteem and self image, I don't know. My reaction to his porn videos was visceral, like a physical blow to the stomach, and I felt traumatised by it too.
    I don't know what to do now. I just want to cry. I can't make sense of my experience as a 12 year old and my experience as the partner of a recovering porn addict. 
     
     
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