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Telling grown up children about SA?

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Posted

Hi, I wonder if anybody has any experience to share about talking to grown up children about partner’s SA? I discovered my partners addiction last September, and to be honest I went into ‘crisis managment’ Mode. Found all the info I could, sought an appropriate councillor for him and he went to SAA. It was only after full disclosure in November that I went into shock and felt devastated by what I heard. I understand that this addiction predates me (we have been married for 26 years), and is not related to me in any way, but I am still finding it difficult to come to terms with all this. We have two children aged 25 and 22, neither live at home. So far they know nothing of what is going on (although they are not stupid and probably have some idea that something is amiss). What they have been told is that my partner was repeatedly sexually abused as a child and that he is in therapy to deal with resulting issues. However, since the new year I have been signed off from work with stress related issues. I am studying for a PhD and both children think I am off with stress relating to my studies. (THis makes sense as I had big difficulties with my supervisor and decided to complain and get somebody new - all of which happened in December ). We have been discussing telling them the truth, as it doesn’t feel right that I should be covering up for his addiction in this way. However, the thought of telling them and potentially shattering their good relationship with their father makes me feel physically sick. I worry particularly for my daughter who I think idolises her father, and she has just come out of therapy for anxiety, is about to move abroad for six months as part of her training at work and is just getting herself into a good place. Our son is at uni doing a Masters course and I don’t want to rock the boat for him either(although I believe he is in an emotionally stable place. So my question is, do we tell, when should we do it and how? Any advice/personal experience of this would be welcome. 

Sorry for long winded post! 

Thanks for reading

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Posted

Hi Florrie, there is such a burden on partners to have to cope with all the fall out and emotional wellbeing of the family on top of their own personal despair when this happens. I hope that one of the councillors can respond to your post soon as they are probably best placed to help. Stay strong. 

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Posted

Hi Florrie,

First of all - I am sorry that you are one of the many women who are having to deal with this.  There are so many of us, and we each have a different story to tell, and are finding different ways to cope with this situation.  I also have adult children, a few years older than yours, who are no longer living at home.  My partner's addiction has been present, to a greater of lesser extent, throughout our marriage, and so throughout our children's lives, but the extent of his addiction had been hidden until the last couple of years. These are my thoughts, and are in NO WAY meant to be advice - this is just to share what I have decided to do in my own life.

I decided at the beginning that the children should be told if I ever suspected that either of them had ever been exposed to, or harmed by, his addiction.  As far as I can tell, this is not the case.  They are both extremely loving towards their father, and he has been (and still is) a great and devoted Dad to both of them.  I know how agonising I have found this whole situation, and I see no reason to put them through the same misery.  I am not sure how either of them would react, but I know that they would find it devastating.  We all keep some things from our kids (as they keep things from us) - in this situation, I think that disclosure would only cause harm.

I have also spent a lot of time getting to a place where I truly understand that this is my partner's problem, and it is his responsibility to fix it, and to put right the damage he has caused.  If I ever felt that the children should know, then it would be up to him to tell them, and not up to me.  I am not going to be an intermediary in this; I am not going to apologise for or excuse what he has done; and I am not going to put myself through the agony of telling my children.  That may sound selfish, but I think when we are coming though this situation, we need to be putting ourselves and our recovery first.

Finally, 18 months on from 'D' day, I am getting into a better, happier place, and my relationship with my partner is beginning to heal.  If I had told my children early on, I am not sure I would then have been able to stay with my partner - I suspect once the information was out there, it would have pulled us all apart.

These are just my own thoughts, but I hope you may find them useful.  Thinking of you and hoping you get some good advice and find the right way through this for yourself and for your children.

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Posted

Cowslip - thank you for your insight. I, like you, felt that the children need not know about this, but various different literature talk about not 'covering up' and not keeping anymore secrets within the family, one book in particular had a whole chapter on telling children and made me feel we had made the wrong decision, and that my 'covering up' was a sign of co-dependant behaviour. It pleases me to know someone else made the same decision as me and that I am not necessarily doing the wrong thing. As you quite rightly say - we all keep things from our kids, as they do us, and this doesn't have to be any different, I guess. The whole thing has caused such confusion and I think I just looked to the 'experts' who write about it as having the 'right answers' in order to try and clear the mess that is my head. But of course, each story has its own context and it can't be a 'one size fits all scenario'. Thus, from now on maybe I will go with my first instincts and not get hung up on 'shoulds' and 'oughts'. After all, we all have to tread our own path in the end, in a way that is comfortable for us.

It is also good to hear that 18 months down the road, things are looking brighter for you and your partner. This gives hope to us all here that things can get better :)

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Posted

I think part of the recovery process for me has been learning to trust my own instincts and my own judgement again.  My confidence hit rock bottom after 'D' day - I could not believe I had been so blind as to not realise what was happening with my partner, and I spent quite a lot of time beating myself up for allowing myself to be deceived (as I saw it at the time).  It took me a year to get past that point.

I am luckier than many partners on this site in that my partner's addiction was 'only' to porn (I am not sure we would be where we are today if sex workers or chat rooms had been part of the problem), and he had come to the decision that he needed to quit (and tried to quit) long before I became aware of how severe his addiction had become. 

I am hoping that he continues to be able to defeat this, and that we can continue to move forwards, but I realise that a relapse is always possible, and I am prepared for that, and now feel that, if it happens, we will face it together.  I can see a difference in my partner now - he is happier, his mood is more even, and I can only think this is because the addiction is no longer dominating his life.

Through this whole process, I have found the words of other partners on this site to be so helpful, so encouraging and so supportive.  Long may it continue!

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