Jump to content
Lulu18

New here - traumatised and confused. Is this my fault?

Recommended Posts

Hi Everyone - I’ve been reading the messages on here for a few days now, trying to get some perspective on SA and some answers to the raging storm in my head. Can anyone help please?  I fear this story will be rather a long one so I apologise but the background is necessary.  

 I found out about my husbands sex addiction just over three months ago and I feel devastated but cant help wondering if it is my fault and the guilt is overwhelming. We’ve been together for 23yrs, married for 15 of those and have one 13yr old daughter.  When we met I was a confident, bubbly and outgoing person and I had a good job, lots of friends and a close family. A couple of years into our relationship my partner got a new job and expressed an interest in working abroad in Holland. I agreed, as I thought it would be an adventure for us both and he encouraged me that I would get plenty of support from his Company, but as soon as we moved I was left at home to fend for myself, with no friends, family or ability to speak the language. I tried hard to fit in but inevitably fell into a terrible depression.  At first my husband seemed worried but then he just seemed to change towards me, avoiding me all the time and working later and later.  Eventually though, I persevered, things picked up for me and I got better. We married and I got pregnant fairly soon after but then, 5 weeks before the birth, I was told we were moving again.  Although, I went back to the UK this time, the pressure on me so soon before the birth caused me to have difficulties and the birth did not go well. Afterwards, I again experienced a short post natal depression and the reaction from my husband was exactly the same. He just seemed to resent my illness and treat me with disdain. I felt totally alone and miserable and I just couldn’t understand why the person who once seemed so kind and supportive could change so much toward me.  Eventually, I got better again but just after my daughter’s second birthday my husband was posted abroad to South America and this time I just felt I couldn’t go through with it. I begged him to say no  or let my daughter and I stay in the UK but he told me that if I didn’t agree he couldn’t take responsibility for what would happen to the marriage. I just felt trapped and powerless to refuse. Once again we moved, and once again I experienced a deep depression but this time I also had a young child to look after and my husband worked away from home for half the week.  I was left alone in a country where I couldn’t speak the language, had no friends and no family to fall back on. My husband worked all the time and barely paid attention to me when he was home. It just seemed he couldn’t deal with my depression at all and I felt dreadfully alone. By this time, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I was also beginning to resent him too. This feeling, coupled with the effects of the anti-depressants I was given, led to a pretty poor intimate relationship and the marriage was really suffering. Nevertheless, I loved my husband and thought that we had a strong relationship worth fighting for.  Fortunately, after three years we were posted back to Amsterdam where, this time, I managed quite  well to find work and make friends and then, again after 3 years, we returned back to the UK.  I was so relieved to be home and was determined to get back to my old self and my old life and I really wanted to show my husband that I could be strong and independent again.  

I was utterly devastated therefore when I found in 2013, only three months after moving into our lovely new home that my husband had cheated on me. After a business trip abroad I discovered  that he had visited a brothel and when I confronted him he confessed.  He pleaded with me to understand and said it was the first and only time and he felt sick to his stomach about it. My world just fell apart and all I could think was that I had given up so much for him and tried so hard to support his career and this is how he had repaid me. I just felt like such a mug. However,  he begged for forgiveness and agreed to counselling and so I relented and we began with RELATE.  The problem was that my husband always got so angry and defensive that It became unbearable for me to go as it seemed to make things worse. As a result, the sessions just tailed off and we went back to how things were. I tried very hard to understand and to take responsibility for my own failings in the marriage and eventually I was able to forgive and forget. Unfortunately, three years later, I then discovered he was using internet dating sites and this time I came to the end of my tether. I threatened divorce and he agreed to go to counselling but this time he asked to go alone as he felt that it was his problem. He told me that he loved me dearly and couldn’t understand why he felt the need to look elsewhere. For my own part, I should have realised by then he had a problem but I guess I just loved him and wanted everything to work. This time, he went for about a year. Things did get better and we seemed a lot happier on the whole so, again, life moved on. 

And so, here we are, now up to May this year and my D Day finally came.  After again finding some unprofessional e mails to work colleagues I confronted my husband and I could not have been more heartbroken by what he then confessed. That, in 2013, when he told me of his  one and only visit to a prostitute it was actually one in a long line of many. He had also regularly used pornography, strip clubs and massage parlours, visited dating sites and used sex phone lines. My world just fell apart, and while I was still only just comprehending the enormity of it all, he disappeared a few days later to a clinic to begin a residential rehab programme.  Whilst I admire his enthusiasm and commitment to get better I was again left alone to deal with my own feelings and those of my now teenage daughter who is devastated by her fathers behaviour. Not only that, but since he has come home he appears to have a whole new lease of life,  a new set of friends, a great support network and a sponsor to fall back on. I almost feel that he has moved from one secret life to another, I, on the other hand just feel like my world has ended. Once again, he barely seems to recognise the impact his actions have had and he says I need to take responsibility for my own recovery from this!  I simply can’t share any of this with my friends; and family just don’t seem to understand the enormity of it all and the shock I am experiencing.  Guilt, embarrassment, shame, anger, betrayal, rejection, shock - everything is consuming me and I don’t know how to  deal with it.  I’m experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks and have been put back on antidepressants- which I resent and hate.  Worst of all, from the very little my husband has shared with me of his recovery, I am now beginning to feel that he would not have become a sex addict were it not for my depression. That I was not there for him when he needed my support and love and so, he took to looking for it elsewhere.  He tells me all he ever wanted to do was make me happy and the stress of not being able to do so was just too much.  I feel so much guilt and shame for this I don’t know what to do .  

Please can anybody tell me how I should respond to this?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is never the partners fault, addictions usually develop as a result of underlying reasons which are nothing to do with a relationship and have usually happened at a much earlier stage. Recovery does give the individual hope that they can change, meanwhile you are left dealing with the pain, hurt and trauma of discovering and not knowing whether this will happen again. Partners need to gain their own understanding of the addiction and consider how they themselves recovery from the knowledge this new reality which is traumatic, all of what you are feeling are normal reactions and responses to this trauma. The Laurel Centre run a one day workshop that helps the person in recovery understand what and why their partner responds and reacts in the way they do, it also helps the partner with the addiction to understand their responsibility and think about the impact of their behaviour both the impact of the addiction on the partner and the need for openness and honesty in recovery. You can go to the website and book directly onto this course. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Christine - thank you so much for taking the trouble to read my post and give me some guidance on a way forward. I have signed up for the 4 day partners intensive course at the end of October and am looking forward to getting help and support from that experience. Please could you tell me the name of the one day programme - and is it designed for both addict and partner to attend together?  I am very interested as my husband is taking no interest in my needs or feelings at all.  He says that by just going to meetings and working through the 12 steps he should be doing enough and showing me enough commitment to make things work. Whilst I agree with that in part, it doesn’t help to restore any of the broken trust or repair the damage to the relationship in the past.  Since coming out of rehab he is almost self obsessed with his own feelings and recovery.  I just want to know that I still matter☹️.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Lulu 18

So pleased to hear you are already booked onto the 4 day intensive - i'm sure this will help.

The one day workshop is for your partner only, it is called "Understanding Partners Needs" have a look at the workshop on the website I believe the next one is coming up very soon, you could print off the information for him to look at.

Perhaps when you have completed the intensive you could think about having couples therapy in the future. 

You need to give each other time. 

Take care

Christine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

“I  am now beginning to feel that he would not have become a sex addict were it not for my depression. That I was not there for him when he needed my support and love and so, he took to looking for it elsewhere.  He tells me all he ever wanted to do was make me happy and the stress of not being able to do so was just too much.  I feel so much guilt and shame for this I don’t know what to do “

Lulu18, your husband’s sex addiction was not caused by you. The roots of this behaviour probably go back a very long way, and very probably before he knew you.  The reasons are often complex and individual but there tends to be common elements that make someone vulnerable to developing a sexual addiction  

Your story is heartbreaking. If anything, I would say that your husband wasn’t there for you when you needed him  You were isolated and living in countries where you didn’t know the language, you had a baby to care for, and meanwhile your husband was paying for sex and happy endings in massage parlours, watching women remove their clothes for money, and listening to women talk ‘dirty’ to him on the telephone  He did not do all of that because you were depressed or not sexually available to him. At some point he made a deliberate decision to do those things and eventually he became hooked on his own brain chemistry — that is, he became a sex addict.

 I have no doubt that he loves you and your child. Nor do I doubt that he’s a decent man in every other respect. Sex addicts typically have a dual identity — the decent guy everyone knows and loves, and his addict self, cloaked in secrecy and shame  Sex addiction is rarely about sex either. There is an excitement ‘high’ when acting out, or anticipating his next ‘fix’, but it’s often used as a way to self-medicate feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, depression or stress because he never developed the skills necessary to deal with these feelings. The irony is that these feelings become more acute because often the addict feels dreadful shame and self loathing after acting out, and eventually he will cycle round to the very feelings he was trying to escape from — where he once again finds himself acting out again. 

The effects on partners can be devastating, and you will definitely need to work on your own healing to come to terms with something so awful as this. Many  partners have no clue and their world is turned upside down  Your own healing is separate from healing your relationship and from your husband’s recovery. It’s great that you’ve signed up for the partner’ course. I hope it helps  

Paula’s book for partners was my lifeline. I recommend it, but I’d advise you to stay away from Paula’s book for addicts, at least for the first 6-12 months whilst you come to terms with this awful situation. You’re in the worse phase right now but I promise you that you will get through this with the right support and information.

Edited by Hannah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Hannah - thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me. I really appreciate your explanation and your empathy. I know in my heart of hearts that what you are saying about “fault” is true and I have, of course, thought this myself but I guess when your self esteem is so low you can’t help but believe that you must have done something terrible for someone to want to treat you so badly. 

You’re absolutely right when you describe an addict as having a split personality.  No one would believe even half the story about my husband if I tried to tell them. Everyone thinks he is a warm, friendly and charismatic guy - and he is for the most part when he isn’t playing Mr Hyde.  I also truly believe that he does love me and our daughter.  The problem I have getting my head around is the conscious decision he made in the beginning to “throw me under a bus”.  I’ve also now discovered that he was already displaying some addictive behaviour at the age of 15.  This makes me feel so angry as I have given up so much to support him in his career and happiness and I just feel so used. I now have to make the decision whether to walk away and lose everything I have spent the last 23 years sacrificing my own happiness for; or stay with a man who I can never truly trust again and with whom I will find it very difficult to rebuild any kind of intimate relationship.  As for my poor daughter, she didn’t ask for any of this and shouldn’t have to put up with either situation.  I sincerely hope that the Partners Course will help me with my decision and I will definitely take your advice and read Paula’s book.  Let’s hope that this all  helps to make some sense of the appalling mess I’m in.  

If you don’t mind my asking - what was your ultimate decision?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi LuLu18,

please please please do not blame yourself for your husbands SA!!! They all look for an excuse for there behaviour and you are not anything to do with it!!!! It  is a very lonely place for the partner of a SA, not being able to talk to friends and family on not only a delicate subject but one that is not recognised by everyone as an addiction !!  plus finding someone you can trust to confide in.I can see you have suffered enormously, but believe me it is time to put you and your daughter first. The hardest part is walking away , but believe me it does get better!! I don't doubt that your husband loves you and your daughter but you have to think  how emotionally drained you are and you need to build your strength up for you and your daughter she needs her mum right now too!! if you decide to walk away you will be ok!! you will have your life back!!!

I speak of being married to a SA for the past 16 years , i have had depression, self harmed ,panic attacks ,anxiety, and very low self esteem,  plus all the stress on top and it has made me so ill.

I to had a 13 year old daughter from my first husband at the time of finding out about this husband, and I wish I had left there and then being honest  as it was so heartbreaking  and emotionally draining for my daughter to watch her mum crumble  and become weak ,but I somehow  carried on believing that the many therapists  he visited  and we visited together would help but they didn't . we just spent huge amounts of money to add on to the huge debts that he had incurred with the addiction. it never got better it got worse.

 

I am now only just free of it all  and have a long way to go to rebuild my life and yes it is heartbreaking  but there is light at the end of the tunnel...............ADDICTION is a selfish disease and it shatters lives .

good luck with your partners course I hope it helps you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Lulu18,

Your story is very familiar to me, and I feel your pain. I discovered my husband/partner of 29yrs has had affairs during our marriage, a unhealthy habit with porn and then sleps with numerous sex workers in the past 3 yrs, his SA was spiralling out of control. When i discovered what was going on (caught on his phone), last Oct (one year soon) I was utterly devastated.

It is a very lonely place. I have told nobody. My 3 teenage children know about one incident with a working girl via his self help notes (we have discussed his issues as a family, without details), we all love him and are motivated to help him get better. However, he is their father for life (and a good one) but I have choices. I love him and we seemingly have a better marriage now than we have for years.

It is very hard, as he is my trigger and I am often making him feel shame and guilt, but we talk a lot, cuddle and cry, we are doing our best.

I have thrown myself into podcasts, hypnosis apps (wow, not me at all!!) and many books, now I need to start living again! I also torture my husband with podcasts about relationships (Relationship Alive) and we are more intimate in our sex life - sex without orgasm is all about being close and intimate.

My husband has been given a chance - and only one chance. I have a good job, great kids, lovely friends (however, they I believe would not understand, its just too risky, another thing to worry about for me!) and so much to live for (did feel suicidal initially, for 6 months I recon).

Good luck with the Paula Hall course - my husband went and thought it was excellent.

Look at PartnerHope website - also good for us partners.

I hope this message is helpful, you are in my thoughts.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely not your fault the 3 partnering C's of addiction. 

 

I didn't Cause it

I can't Control it 

I can't Cure it

 

I suggest you read Paulas book for partners if you haven't already. It really helps also you need therapy together if you can afford it that will help tremendously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lulu18, I hope you’re feeling somewhat better now that you have some information about what you’re dealing with and that the course is going to help you. 

In answer to your question, I have stayed with my husband. His addiction was mostly pornography, but there were other behaviours like strippers that I’m aware of. I don’t believe I have ever had full disclosure but like all partners I have had to learn to live with the possibility (or probability) of the undisclosed, and that I may never know the whole story.

My husband’s behaviour has been easier to forgive than if it had been escorts and massage parlours. What I found most difficult was the deception and the betrayal of our relationship. His behaviour resulted in a sexless marriage and gradually he became emotionally distant. Of course I believed it was all my fault, and I felt very rejected and alone for many years, and that had a disastrous impact on my emotional health resulting in a total loss of libido, an eating disorder that was like a late-onset anorexia and depression. I was so detached from my feelings that I couldn’t actually recognise that I was not in a good place. I became worse and worse and had some sort of breakdown, and that was when I told him his behaviour was hurting me. In fact, it  was actually making him unhappy by that time and he wanted to quit. So that was another factor in my decision to stay, that he was motivated to do so.

Coming to terms with the reality of his addiction was not easy. In fact, it was horrible. He lied to me over and over, he gaslighted me, he had angry rages, he would be angry at me for asking questions or discovering things about his addiction. Meanwhile I didn’t know how to tell the difference between when he was lying and when he wasn’t. But he stayed committed and he kept away from porn, and I guess we both knew that we had to think long term. I arranged counselling for myself and eventually for both of us. None of this was easy. It’s been devastating.

Staying isn’t an easy decision. It involves accepting that the past happened, that my husband is a flawed individual who had a ‘secret’ self, and that in some ways I colluded with the addiction by not challenging it sooner — actually, I did in the past but nothing changed. I also have to accept that I may never know what really went on. I have had to take the risk that I may be living with a huge lie. I don’t know if that’s a consequence of what we’ve been through. One thing I can say is that trust never feels the same again. My husband remains committed to avoiding his past behaviours and he is committed to the relationship. He’s not perfect. He still lies about stupid things and that undermines my trust. Our communication, though better, remains difficult  at times. Recovery is tough . 

I hope this helps. I know you are going through the worst of it now but I promise you will feel better eventually.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you to all of you who took the time to read my post and offer support. It is very much appreciated. I try not to come on to this site so much at the moment as I find that it tends to trigger my feelings of pain, self loathing and total despair. Maybe I am burying my head in the sand a bit but, at the moment, I find it easier to get through each day if I don’t immerse myself too much in the subject of SA..   Of course, I am attending the partners course at the Laurel centre in just over a week and a half and I’ve no doubt this will force me to face my demons again and maybe start to think about how I can move forward.

My husband also attended the one day course on on understanding the partner’s perspective but, I am sorry to say, I’ve found little change in his behavior towards me since,and he hasn’t really made any mention of the day or what he learned from it. I had hoped it might lead to some more honest and open discussion.  I don’t think that this has anything to do with the quality of the course, just that he isn’t prepared to take responsibility for his recovery or repairing the relationship at this moment. This leads me to wonder if, after so many years of giving him my absolute trust and support, I should not just move on alone with my daughter. I think he clearly still has a way to go and I don’t seem to figure in his priorities at the moment 😢.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MLulu18, by all means yes, you need to give yourself a break. In the early months practically everything was triggering me — people standing at bus stops, people in the supermarket, TV programmes, adverts, newspapers — it was as if I was seeing the world through SA goggles and threats and reminders were coming at me from right and left. Things that were once enjoyed innocently and at face value became triggering. It really feels horrible, but again, it gradually becomes easier. I’m still recalibrating. I tell myself that I’m not going to be controlled by my husband’s dysfunction, and I do my best not to fall into the cycle of reaction (as described in Paula’s book). 

I can remember expecting my husband to open up and show more understanding and empathy after I went to great lengths to educate myself on sex and porn addiction, and that I understood his vulnerabilities at particular times in our relationship, and communicated all of this to him. I wrote it all out and read it aloud. For me it was a major shift in how I saw his (and our) situation. I really expected some kind of reciprocal understanding. I expected a new level of openness and honest discussion. I was so disappointed when it didn’t happen. So I get what you’re saying about seeing no change in how your husband communicates.

All I can say is that my husband’s ability to communicate has improved very, very slowly but I had to let go of the idea of openness, just as I had to let go of the idea of full disclosure. The difference between now and the past is that I know what I’m dealing with. I chose to stay because I believe his recovery has been sincere but during the first year I did consider ending the relationship. It’s also part of the recovery process, to know that you have that option. Staying then becomes a choice rather than drifting along with a situation that you didn’t consciously  create. Of course, some women do end the relationship. Sometimes the acting out and the betrayal has gone too far, and again, it’s something I’ve had to consider — what might have happened in the past, especially something that wasn’t disclosed when I specifically asked — where do my boundaries lie? I accept that I cannot change the past, but I won’t accept certain behaviours after d day. Always remember, your boundaries exist to protect you. I have learned that my husband doesn’t respond to ‘rules’ or even agreements. So I establish my own boundaries and I don’t necessarily have to tell him. If I discover he is acting in ways that are detrimental to our relationship, I will respond appropriately. It’s always a choice. I can also choose not to respond. Some boundaries are internal and involve a shift in behaviour or attitude in myself, but still acting in my interests and not being passive. 

Good luck with the course. X

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×