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Ann Hedonia

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Ann Hedonia last won the day on September 2

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  1. Hi Hec, being sober is not the same as recovery at all. The acting out behaviour is a symptom of much deeper issues and, in my experience, if those aren't addressed, they will come out sideways elsewhere. I agree with Kaykay, it isn't unreasonable to expect your partner to work at your relationship, if he wants to be with you. Last week, I read a letter that I had sent my partner a month after I discovered all the things he was doing in secret. I was soooooo encouraging and reassuring and I could practically see myself jumping up and down with pom-poms like some over-enthusiastic cheerleader. Reading this letter a year later, I was struck by how little energy he had put into meeting me in the relationship. I felt ridiculous putting so much energy in, whilst he went through the motions but has yet to make the commitment to really working his programme, and to really working our relationship. So, I've stepped back. I'm still there to support him, if he will step up and support me too. Much to my surprise, he noticed that I had put the pom-poms down and was quietly getting on with my life. For the first time ever, he initiated a conversation about my feelings and about our relationship. He said, "I hate to see you so sad. What can I do to help?" This is completely new for him, and I know it wasn't easy. My partner too has to work on himself, but our relationship can't sit on ice while he does this. I have been the mad cheerleader for over a year now; I'm not doing it any more. I know his initiating a conversation is a tiny baby step. I don't know that he will continue to put the effort in, but I know that if I keep repeating my groundhog day, there is no space, nor need, for him to put effort in too. Every couple is different, but I think what this forum shows me is the similarities in the pain we feel when our need for emotional and physical intimacy isn't met, and when our love and support is betrayed. It also shows me how devastatingly damaging shame is and makes me sorry for the addicts that flail about stuck in their shame and doing so much damage in the process. I don't know if your partner can step up into your relationship (hell, I don't even know if mine can!), but I do know that whether our men can be there with us or not, we need to look after ourselves. We are no good to them or ourselves if we get sucked into their shame and pain too. Ann x
  2. This thread is very timely. I spent all yesterday afternoon in tears, trying to explain to my partner how soul-destroying it is to live with someone who is sexually anorexic as part of his addiction. He swears that he finds me attractive, but I have to take his word for it, because he shows nothing more than a sisterly affection for me. I give him credit for actually joining in the conversation, even though he wanted desperately to run away (and probably act out, for all I know). It became apparent that at 56 y/o, he has never had a physically and emotionally intimate relationship. I think that is really sad. So when I say I want a normal healthy sex life, he has no model at all for what that is. He says he wants to learn how to do that, and I honestly believe him, but the task seems, frankly, insurmountable. I likened it to wanting to be fluent in German; sure, he knows enough German to get by, but how realistic is it that he would become fluent at 56, and how much work would it take to do so? How motivated is he to put in the effort and really, what does it do for my self-esteem to have a man who has to put in effort to show me that he loves me? Where does this leave me? Like you, Long-Suffering, I have contemplated finding another man, but that isn't what I want and, to be honest, my sexual self-esteem has been destroyed by my partner. His ex-wife and I had a conversation last year where she told me that for 26 years, she thought that she was too ugly for him to want sex with her! Poor woman! I assured her that it wasn't her, but I know exactly how she feels. Or do I take matters into my own hands, so to speak, and end up satisfying my needs without him, which is the very thing that I get upset at him doing? And that does nothing to satisfy my need to be part of a loving relationship. Very occasionally, we both let down our guard enough to make love, and it's wonderful. I stupidly think that we have turned a corner, and how can he not want more of this closeness and good feeling; then he sabotages it with acting out in some way and we are back to square one, with me feeling like a fool - yet again - for hoping that things could be different. We are in couples therapy, so I am hoping that this will help us break the cycle, but I have been here so many times that not only do I feel stupid, and unattractive, but hopeless too. I work with a lot of people with addictions, (for a long time before I met my partner) and while they all hurt their loved ones, I don't think any addiction takes down a partner's sense of self like sex addiction. While my head knows that there is nothing wrong with me, my heart is so crushed by the repeated rejection, not to mention the betrayal, lies and secrecy of the behaviour I discovered last year, that if I were to start over with another man, I think my sexual self is destroyed now. I never thought I would be in this position, and I don't know how to change it. I think it is tragic that there are so many of us who evidently have been hurt in this very personal way. I can't explain this, even to my close friends, because they just wouldn't get it. I am grateful to you all who are willing to share your similar experiences. Ann x
  3. It never ends does it? Just when you think you have got your head around it, so another revelation appears. I know it is so easy to think that our partners' behaviour is about us; it isn't. Some of the acting out behaviours of my partner baffle me, as well as deeply hurt me. When I talk to him about it, he says in a frustrated and exasperated tone, "It's not about you!" Just as I appear not to understand that his choices weren't a comment on me or my attractiveness, he can't understand how his choices impact me. Over the last 18 months, I have learnt that the acting out sex goes in a different box in their heads to real life. It is the secrecy and fantasy that is the lure. Real life is exactly that - real, and I have learnt that most sex addicts can't deal with the intimacy and vulnerability that comes with a real relationship. As I realise that his decision to act out in the ways he did aren't about me, I am sadly realising that he has had these thoughts, feelings and behaviours for many years before me. (I was lucky enough to have a frank conversation with his first wife, which was helpful to us both, I think.) I feel for you Kaykay; you want to support him, and you want a sex life with someone who loves you. That's not a lot to ask, unless the person you are asking it of is as terrified of true intimacy as a sex addict. Only you can decide what to do with this stark reality. Personally, I am trying to come to terms with the vanishing chance that my partner, who I love very much and who tells me he loves me, will ever be able to express that love in physical and emotional intimacy. Right now, I don't know what to do with that reality. I hope that you find a way forward that is right for you. Ann x
  4. Welcome Long-Suffering. You are amongst friends here in this club that none of us wanted to ever be part of. x
  5. Yes, KayKay, the whole thing is so unfair. We have similar one-sided conversations; or at least, we do when he isn’t working the programme. When he’s on the wagon, he’s open and reflective and engaged. He thinks he can hide when he’s fallen off the wagon, but it is the feeling of disconnection that I pick up on. It is hard work. I keep reminding myself to do nice things for me. Keep your head up sister! Ann x
  6. Welcome Jen to a club that nobody wants to be a member of. It sounds as though your b/f has the will to recover, and appears to be trying to be open with you about what it feels like to be an addict. You mention that he has had therapy; have you? These are the kinds of thoughts, questions and feelings that a good therapist can help you with. It might also be a consideration to have therapy as a couple, as it sounds as though he is trying to communicate really difficult feelings to you. That's really hard to hear, and probably hard for him to say. A decent therapist can support you both in having those kinds of conversations with support. Most of all, look after yourself. Ann x
  7. Whether you continue to be in each others' lives, or not, you still need to heal, build your self esteem, set and maintain boundaries, and feel ok about yourself - as does he. At the moment, you don' t know if or how he is doing on those measures, and either way, it is out of your control if/how he does this work. All you can do is make yourself the healthiest and most grounded you can be. That will stand you in good stead, regardless of what he does about his recovery. Some days, it will be harder to do this than others, but each step forward is a step towards a healthier you - wherever you decide to go in life. Ann x
  8. Hi Freddiebear, I'm so sorry you have had such a rotten time of it during this period. Firstly, you don't deserve this; none of us do. I don't think there is any other addiction that makes the partner lose her sense of self in the same way that sex addiction does. The way I deal with it, is to keep reminding myself that with him or without him, addict or not, I have to take care of myself. It's not always easy, but I do things that make me feel good about me. I go to the gym, I read poetry, I do my knitting, walk the dog, and spend time with people who make me feel good about myself. I especially enjoy spending time with my children, who are all adult now. The things that make you feel good may, of course, be different, but those things work for me. If I have chosen to live with an addict, I know I need these things in my life to help me deal with that. And if I choose not to live with him anymore, then I will need these things in my life too. I still feel unattractive, spurned and foolish many days, and I doubt my choice often, but the more I do these things for myself, the easier those days are to cope with. I'm only a couple of years younger than you. I know that my body is not what it used to be, and while my health is good now, I know that that is not guaranteed. I'm not going to spend the rest of my life dependent on this man, or any man, to make me feel good about myself! I'd like him to feel good about me too, but I can't rely on that, although I hope that a better expression of that will come in time. You aren't a headcase! You are having a normal response to an abnormal situation, one that you could not possibly be prepared for. Just reading the entries on this forum will tell you that, sadly, you are in good company. As for protecting him from suicide, you can't do that. Firstly, it's not fair of him to make you feel responsible for his continued life. Secondly, if someone is really determined to commit suicide, they will find a way to do it, regardless of the vigilance of those who love him/her. Pull back your energy into taking care of you, and let him learn how to do the same for himself. I wish you well as you regain your sanity and poise. Ann x
  9. Thank you Feeling Fragile, that’s really helpful. I like the very concrete nature of your plan. You sound much more organised and clearer in your thinking than I was at 3 months. It’s so bloody hard isn’t it?! I don’t want to be his mother or his jailer or his therapist; I want us to tackle this together, drawing on each other for support, as we do for the rest of life. Thank you for helping; I’m so grateful for this forum where we can be open without the pitying or horrified looks that come from friends. Ann x
  10. Hi KayKay, I ask myself these same questions every day. I keep saying I will draw the line at such and such date, but then I see him getting back on the wagon and working the programme. A big lapse would be straightforward to deal with; the end. But the incomplete or evasive answers, the refusal to share his experience of recovery, his clamming up when I want to talk about the impact on me, all of these things chip away at my confidence in my own judgement and make me feel a fool. I've set myself the promise of looking after myself better this year, because I’ve spent the last year holding him up. I might end up looking after myself so well that the need for a partner -an addict partner-becomes redundant. Look after yourselves ladies, and know that here is a community where we will look after each other. Ann x
  11. Hi Kay Kay, it sounds like you are feeling the pain of one of the biggest casualties of this whole mess, at least in my experience, and that is the obliteration of one's confidence in one's own judgement. I too have stood by my partner, but I doubt myself most days, particularly when I talk to my friends, none of whom have sex-addict husbands/partners, and see the look of pity in their eyes. I am a competent professional woman who has raised three children as a single mum overseas, has multiple post-graduate degrees and who has single-handedly bought a small but nice house and a good car, after being homeless with two toddlers back in the 80's as a teen mum. People come to me for friendship, good sense and support and value my opinion. So how come I doubt my own judgement? I am just over a year post-discovery. I spent the last year figuring out how far to trust him. This year, my focus is going to be learning how to trust myself. Thank you to you Kay Kay, Feeling Fragile, Chrissy, and all the women on here who share your experiences. The recognition I read in your entries reminds me that I am not insane and that I am not alone. Ann x
  12. Thank you Feeling Fragile. For some reason, I only just saw your reply. x
  13. Yesterday was a bad day. My partner slipped, not in a major baby and bathwater out the window kind of way, but he broke one of his bottom lines. I know that this will happen, and while it's not great, we have talked in advance about all the tools he has at his disposal from his therapy and SLAA, which he attends regularly. One of these pre-prepared plans is to talk to me about it. Did he use any of his tools or follow his post-slip plan? Of course not! He assures me that his addiction is nothing to do with me and pre-dates our relationship; all of which I know. I know it's not my addiction and as they say in alanon, I didn't cause it, nor can I control it, nor can I cure it. All of that I whole-heartedly accept. I don't expect, nor would want to do any of those things. (Well, I'd love someone to find a cure for addiction!) But I am his partner, and to me, that means giving and receiving support. He is happy to come home and tell me about his day at work, with no expectation on either side that I would cause, control or cure any of the office politics, etc. Similarly, he shares with me the nightmare of trying to co-parent with his ex. And I do the same in return re my life. However, when it comes to his recovery, it is his recovery, and he is as guarded about this as he was about his acting out. I have asked very explicitly, both in and out of our therapy sessions, that he shares with me his thoughts and feelings about recovery, about his slips, and about the impact of addiction and recovery on our relationship. In the non-crisis moments, he fully agrees with all of this, but when it comes to the slips, not only does he not talk to me, but he doesn't do any of the things in his plan. Making an outreach call to a fellow recovering addict is part of his post-slip plan, but yesterday, he decided that only one person could be his outreach buddy, and it just so happened that this person was busy with his family. I see the phone ping all day with requests from other men for outreach calls, so I know that there are many other men he could connect with. I'm interested in how those of you who have chosen to support your addicted partner/husband see your role in his recovery. How do you respect his privacy, yet be his support? Similarly, how do your partners support you when you are reeling from a slip? It's probably unrealistic for me to expect him to support me when I am angry and hurt, but it is natural to want to pull together at difficult times; isn't that the point of being in a relationship, so that you don't have to do life on your own? And while he has the fellowship of other SLAA members, I have those of you who are reading this. Some of my friends know about what we are going through, but none of them lives with a sex addict. We are just over a year post-discovery. We have just started couples therapy, in addition to his individual therapy, and I know there is much ground to cover. After wanting to throw him out immediately when I discovered what he had been doing, I chose to be guided by the love I feel for the non-addict part of him, and by compassion for the addict part. I have been patient and supportive, and I am proud of the work he has done over the last year; but the last year has been all about him, not us, and certainly not about me. To those of you who are further down the line than I am, is it unrealistic to expect the narcissism and secrecy of addiction to be replaced with the honesty, openness and willingness that he espouses twice a week at his meetings? I'd really value your thoughts on this. Ann x
  14. As a partner, it is so encouraging to read this. All power to you, whoever wrote this. It’s pretty hideous being the partner of a SA; I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but if all of our partners had this much openness and willingness to recover, there may be fewer broken relationships.
  15. I would endorse everything that Tabs said, and I would add that it is so important to take care of yourself, like really really take care of yourself! One year on, I am only now realising how much time and effort I have put into holding my partner up as he is dealing with his addiction. I still intend to support him, but this year, I am taking care of myself better and asking more of him. You will find a lot of understanding and support on this website. Sending you big hugs, Ann x
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