Hi Prue What a sense of sadness I pick up. What hopes are being dashed, especially with a baby on the way. Your question is very specific, I hope someone answers it. As someone who had this addiction (probably still have but not actively) I can give some reflections that might be helpful. My first reflection is that addicts are v. selfish. They are very focused on getting their 'needs' met and will, if they are far they are down the addiction road, go to any length to get their fix. Much of the literature describes it as a feeling that they will die without it. I don't remember that conscious thought but as I look back, one of the most helpful phrases was 'you won't die if you don't get it'. There is often a sense of desperation about it. The other reflection is that addicts are often very conflicted. There are almost two sides. There is the original goodish side, and then there is the imposter addict side. The original side often has moral values, they can genuine love, they can be loyal, devoted, selfless. The imposter addict side is selfish, uncaring, etc. etc. Usually, when one is far down the road, one has to hit rock bottom for the original side to really overcome the addict side. So the answer to your question is 'depends'. It is too early to say. I would say: that I agree with your friends who tell you to look after yourself. You need to keep shoring up your dignity, self-esteem etc and find ways to soothe the pain. Maybe get some counselling yourself? Paula's outfit has counsellors specifically trained for partners.fix some boundaries don't beg him to come back. Sure reach out to him, but he needs to know there are consequences.I too believe in second chances. Maybe third chances. But at some point you need to draw a line. Personally I would tell him you love him, offer him a second chance but ensure there are some consequences (my wife withdrew any sex for 90 days) and lay down some firm boundaries (him going to SAA, computer filters etc). I would encourage you to read Paula's book on addiction and her one written specifically for partners. Hope that helps.
Hi Victoria I will try and answer your question - but the mind is a puzzling organ and addiction is 'cunning' as SAA describe it. I will try and answer your question but to be honest it is puzzling and I don't quite know where to start, but I will try. 1. For me, it crept up on me and it became a slippery slope. For me, I used porn/masturbation/sex workers to anesthetise pain. The tragedy of addiction is that it erodes your self-esteem and so the more you get into it the more you need something to anaesthetise your pain. Sex addiction isn't so much about sex as finding something that makes feel good - but it is an addiction so you become tolerant and need a bigger hit over time. I could have become addicted to alcohol or drugs, gambling etc - the causes and dynamics would have been the same. 2. Paula talks about splitting. I think what that means is this. Addiction is usually secret and shameful. Why? Because it goes against your values. Your partner might genuinely say that it is wrong for people to watch porn/see sex workers AND do it himself. He is doing it secretly and in shame because he believes it is wrong. If he didn't he would be brazen about it, he wouldn't be in an exclusive relationship (rather he would be in an 'open relationship' or none at all). The mind somehow manages this contradiction by 'splitting' (I think that is correct - don't quote me). 3. Addicts become deceitful as a result. Which means that they are not only dishonest with others, they are dishonest with themselves. e.g. 'This isn't such a big deal - others do it' or 'I need sex, I am not getting it...', or 'it's just biology' etc. To regain their self-respect and have any hope of recovery, they have to recover their honesty. But it is difficult - we don't like pain, and being honest leads to a whole load of pain! And we feel crap about ourselves anyway, without needing others telling us we are shits. Shame is a big hindrance to recovery. 4. For me - I knew it would be so very painful for my wife, so couldn't tell her. I didn't know where to go for help. I couldn't beat it on my own. So I felt I couldn't get off the tramlines. There were no other options but to keep acting out, which I hated. That is the strange thing - you hate what you are doing. I eventually found help after a few false starts over the years, and it took some persuasion to tell my wife. The clincher was when Paula told me that my recovery had to be more important than my marriage. I realised that if I didn't beat this then I wouldn't have a marriage, that the only hope was honesty and if I was honest with my wife, I might, just might save my marriage. 5. In the addiction cycle, there is a point when you get obsessed. It becomes very very consuming. At that point, you will do almost anything to get your fix - hence 'risky behaviour' - whether it is doing something illegal, getting found out etc. You and your partner may or may not have a future together. What I can say is from my experience, and from other couples who have survived this, is that we have learnt more about yourselves, we have both grown personally through this crisis and our marriage is now stronger, better and closer than it has ever been. My wife would agree, although it wasn't so long ago that she told me that she still feels the pain most days - I presume that is still true. I am not sure whether that helps. This stuff is now nearly 3 years old for me - so I am struggling a little bit to remember - but it is good for me to remind myself just how awful it was. Addiction is horrendous - once it has taken over, one feels like a slave who cannot escape.
A partner on this forum once asked what advice I could give to help him recover. This was my answer - I hope it is helpful. Please remember though every situation and every person is different. I can talk from my own experience and perhaps draw out some essentials? 1. I reached rock bottom. I decided that the road I was on lead to destruction. I wanted find a way out. Your husband is the only one who can decide this. It is up to him. He has to be desperate to get out of addiction. On my course, which I will tell your about, Paula said, 'your recovery has to be more important than your marriage' - I took that to mean it had to be more important than anything and everything. It makes sense - if you don't recover, you won't have a marriage (in normal circumstances), and if you do, then you might have a marriage. 2. I contacted Paula and had some counselling. That was good but she really sees the intensive recovery as the most effective therapy, and I now see why. In fact, just a few weeks before my intensive I saw two sex workers despite something like 8-10 sessions with Paula. Since the intensive I haven't looked at porn, seen a sex worker etc etc. I would make sure he/you get specialist counselling from Paula or one of her associates. 3 I did her 5 day recovery. It was amazing - I had wanted to recover before, but on the course I finally had the tools to recover and I made the decision that I would recover at all costs. I also decided to tell my wife of 20 years. Her courses are advertised on her website. 4. I told my wife some weeks later - it was awful. It was a strange path we then took - I was feeling a whole load better because I was beginning to recover into a vaguely normal person, she was devastated, and that is an understatement. She had specialist counselling with one of Paula's associates and went on the partners course a few months later. 5 My wife was amazing for a number of reasons. Firstly she didn't pretend it wasn't important. She didn't collude in any way. Many partners of addicts are 'co-dependents' which means they collude and compensate. My wife didn't. If she could have done she would have thrown me out of house for some time but for various reasons that wasn't possible, but she did kick me out of the bedroom. In other words she asserted boundaries, and I needed them. You need to be uncompromising with him. To do otherwise won't do him any favours. 6 Your husband will only recover if he is honest, brutally honest with himself and with you. Eventually I came to tell some of my friends and my employer - they were all great but I could have lost my job (I didn't and that was a miracle). i did this to recover my integrity - to become the same person on the outside as the inside. I would be very surprised if your husband wasn't also addicted to porn. He needs to be honest about this - indeed about everything. Paula/her associates can help him and you to go through a full disclosure of everything and that is important for you both. 7. This addiction isn't about sex and it isn't about you or your sex life. It is about deeper stuff in your husbands mind/soul, pain etc. that it is eased by the sex. It could have sought solace in alcohol, drugs or gambling it. It is important for you to hear that. It isn't about you or your sex life. 8. I abstained from masturbation/sex etc for 90 days (recommended by people in this line of business). When I told Clare, she then asserted a 90 day period of abstinence. Addicts think they can't live without their hit, but the truth is they can, they won't die. They refer to this 90 days as a reboot - it worked very effectively for me. It was like a system reboot. Weird. 9. I have continued in my recovery using a local Sex Addicts Anonymous group (SAA) - this is recommended after an intensive recovery course although Paula now runs post course groups too now. 9 I am 2.5 years in - I haven't masturbated, looked at porn or visited a sex worker since. For me, intrigue is a big enemy - they talk about it quite a lot in SAA. I still have cravings, and sometimes I watch stuff on terrestrial tv that comes close to porn but haven't gone any further. I have discovered that I need to pursue serenity as much as anything else. (c.f. serenity prayer of the 12 step movement), if I do that then my cravings diminish. I hope that helps.
Hi Disconnected I am a recovered addict so can't speak from the perspective of someone who has been in your shoes, but I have watched my partner go through the trauma of my disclosure to her about my addictive behaviour - porn, sex workers etc. For my partner it was devastating and she had symptoms of ptsd subsequently. At one point she very nearly stabbed me with the kitchen knife - a near crime of passion! It sounds like you are in shock, that your emotions have shut down. I would encourage you to see a counsellor who is specialises in sex addiction. My partner saw one of Paula's counsellors who counsels the partners of addicts. She was brilliant. Both of Paula's books are worth reading too - the one about the addiction and the one for partners. I hope other partners post something that might help you further. Don't underestimate the emotional trauma this puts you through. Take care of yourself - seriously.
Hi Joy Your situation sounds very hard. In reading your post, what came across is that he is minimising his responsibility in all this, and putting most of it on you. It sounds like the pressure is on your to change and he doesn't understand his part in how you are. If he did, he would give you time, kindness, space, love, encouragement. I am tempted to ask you to give him a message from me, a recovering addict, 'get real'! When we act out, when we hurt our partners with our unfaithfulness, it is devastating. DEVASTATING. It results in devastation. Some partners get PTSD, it is so traumatising. It is entirely understandable that you are finding it difficult, he needs to hear that he bears responsibility for this. I have done the 12steps with SAA over the years. They talk about making amends for our wrong doing. Making amends for him would be to give you what you need, not to highlight your faults. I wish you well. Let us know how things go.
Hi Sunbeam Yep - that sounds tough, and it sounds like you hate the place you find yourself in - at the same time you don't want to give it up. In fact, if you are anything like me - there is real fear about having it give it up. It is easy to feel trapped. In profound conflict. I suspect it all feels so big to deal with. I think you might find it helpful to take a step at a time. The first step is to get some help. You won't be able to beat this on your own. I would encourage you to either try Paula's therapists/courses and/or a 12 step group. There are 3 that focus on Sex Addiction. I use SAA. The groups vary enormously even within the same organisation - so if one doesn't work, try another. And I would go several times before you make a judgement. I would also encourage you to use the many on-line resources. This page is very helpful; http://paulahall.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/505-online-resources-for-addicts-wanting-help/ I wish you well.
Hi Essex addict Sorry to hear your addiction has got you into such a mess. What support are you getting? There is hope. You may feel it is hopeless but it is at rock bottom that we have the greatest chance of recovery, and in recovery we can rebuild our lives. I would encourage you to use this rock bottom to do what has to be done to get free from this stuff. Keep coming back. PJ
Hi WW Thanks for this. I wonder if it might be helpful to say the forgiveness isn't the same as how you work through your marriage - at least as I understand it. There is a common saying that 'Unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die'. In other words one forgives another as much for your self, maybe more, than for the other person. It is to escape the damaging effects that the hate and bitterness have on you. If you don't forgive, his wrong doing has an ongoing damaging effect on you. As I understand it, forgiveness isn't: Approval of the wrongExcusing the wrongLegally pardoning themReconciliationRepressing the emotional impactForgettingPretending we aren't hurtI think of it like a debt. When someone has hurt us, they have taken something they shouldn't have. Our self-respect, our reputation, something material etc. Such a concept crops up in our language around this area e.g. "I'll make him pay for that" or "He owes me for that". Forgiveness is simply cancelling the debt - deciding not to make him repay it. Making him repay, has of course the sense of punishment. That's another way of seeing it - deciding not to punish him. But forgiveness isn't reconciliation and it isn't trust. They are different. You can choose to forgive (not that it is easy or necessarily heart felt to begin with) but not to trust the person again (sometimes that is very wise!) or you can choose to forgive and yet walk away from the person. Desmond Tutu talks about those two options v. well in his book. I do hope that is helpful. You are right to look after himself and as an addict I think it is extremely important that partners set boundaries and for you to look after yourself in all this crap. Don't deny yourself. Look after yourself. Addicts in addiction are extremely selfish. It is a mistake to collude with them in their selfishness.
Hi Crisper Well done on reaching out on this website. It sounds like you have reached rock-bottom which whilst very unpleasant is an opportunity to take concrete and effective steps to recover from this addiction. I would encourage you to go to a 12 step meeting - SAA have some in Surrey - there is a big one in Guildford, but also other places like Slough and Twickenham. They are free and you will find friendly like-minded people who can help you. You can find there list of meetings here: http://saauk.info/en/meetings I wish you well.
Hi WW I am so sorry to hear of the damage his addiction has done to you and your marriage. This addiction is so damaging. I remember Paula saying to me that the best way marriages recover is if the couple can externalise the addiction, identifying it as something external to you both, so that you can image it as an object before you both - something that you both work in partnership to overcome. I think the road you probably need to explore so you that can lessen or even stop hating your husband is by forgiving him. No one says it is easy and there is a lot of confusion around forgiveness. As I understand it, it isn't about excusing or justifying his wrong doing in anyway. Nor is it about minimising how serious and damaging it was. I have personally found Desmond Tutu's book very helpful on the subject, but I am sure there are others that might help you along what will no doubt be a long road. I hope you find a way through this.
Help!!! You are right to be encouraged. Many people find recovery a slow process - 2 steps forward, 1 step back. You did well not to binge. What do you need to do differently Help!!! to reduce your chances of acting out in the until she gets home? e.g instead of a chat room, when you get an urge, why don't you facetime/skype your wife?
Farnorth I think you have made the best start - and that is honesty. In my experience, being honest with others helps us to be honest with ourselves and for me that has been the most powerful tool for recovery. The 12 step programme says that honesty is a pre-requisite for recovery. I too looked at the road I was on - I realised that if I stayed on the road I would be in even deeper trouble. The problem with addiction is you need a greater hit to get you as high as the previous time. So for most it just gets worse and worse. I have a mate in Sex Addicts Anon who is very serious about how it is a matter of life and death. This addiction can lead to death - and therefore is a matter of life and death. It sounds dramatic but the logic is sound. I go to 12 step meetings and we regularly get people who have just been caught by the police for illegal stuff and end up in prison. This stuff can get us into deep trouble - it is worth throwing everything at it at this stage. Don't hold back - do everything you can and need to, to kick the addiction. I wish you well. PJ
Hi Help!!! That is good news - no slip on 3 weeks. I would be interested in knowing what you have planned for the next few days. Two things that might help. 1. The AA "Just for Today" card. You can find it here: https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/download/1/Library/Documents/Newcomers starter pack PDFs/Just_for_today.pdf . The goal addicts give themselves is: Can I go through today without turning to my addiction? We can deal with such short term goals much more easily - taking a day at a time. 2. The second is, rather than spend time on thinking about sex, spend time learning about your addiction. Rob has put some very useful resources on this website here: http://paulahall.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/505-online-resources-for-addicts-wanting-help/ . I found Recovery Nation very good, but there is a loads of stuff out there that will strengthen your motivation. Obviously loneliness is a big trigger for you - your wife being away is a going to be a big test for you. I wish you well. PJ