Susannah's Going to Stop Trying to Control Things .....Tomorrow

Discussion in 'Significant Other Journals' started by Susannah, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    It's somewhat different for us porn addicts. Overcoming this addiction forced me to do a lot of honest and active introspection, what we might call 'recovery work'. That work taught me about myself. I honestly believe I've matured enormously in the last few years as a result of the work I have done to overcome my porn addiction. Does that mean I am lucky to have been an addict? No, and yes. I wish I could have found a way to put in that work earlier, so that I had the strength of character to not get into porn in the first place. "But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears" to quote Yeats.

    I look back now and there are so many moments I made a fool of myself or did something stupid or nasty. I fantasize about how I would play them now with all I know about myself (and about others and the world). But if 17 or 25 year old me had the maturity and self-understanding of 53 year old me would I have made the same choices, even the ones I need now? Would my wife have fallen in love with me and me with her?

    Have you read The Unbearable Lightness of Being? We only live this life once, so we will never know how things would play out if we had made different choices. That is a very scary thought and therefore many of us like to narrate our lives so that the choices we made to bring ourselves here & now were good ones (or at least forgivable bad ones!)

    Am I remembering correctly that when Candide finally rejects Pangloss's 'it's all for the best in the best of all possible worlds' philosophy he decides instead to tend his own garden? That also seems interesting. You only need to watch the news for 20 seconds to know that all is not for the best and this is not the best of all possible worlds, but how do we work to fix it? On thing that is wrong is the pornification of society, and one action I can take is to fix myself. For me that is both a personal and a political action.
     
  2. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    I saw my husband last night. I went over for dinner, to get the pool in order (another thing that was “my “ domain), and to catch up with him on the Tour de France. We are cycling fans and had a ritual of checking in together every morning of the three cycling grand tours. (La Vuelta is my favorite by far!) He had been complaining that he missed this bit of togetherness, and I too, have noticed the Tour just hasn’t been the same without him. In the past we would sit with coffee, previewing that day’s stage route, picking who to root for (it always seemed to be Quintana), cursing the ass-grabbing Peter Sagan, etc. So last night we set out to catch up, but I think both of us were caught off guard by how bittersweet it was. We gave it a solid try, but both ended up in tears. He asked if I would listen to his painful feelings, something we have been doing a lot of. Since I was in a good frame of mind to do it, I agreed. He expressed a lot of pain and frustration about me “not understanding” that he loves me. This has been a common complaint from him and one I confess I don’t fully understand. I am trying. I swear. I think this might be a future topic for this journal if we ever sort it out.

    In any case, I had several thoughts about and reactions to his pain. Some are valid, one I’m not proud of, all are understandable. When we were in the thick of trying to acknowledge and come to terms with the addiction, I spent so much time trying desperately to figure out how to hurt him as much as he was hurting me. This was not because I am cruel or vindictive, but because in my own pain and denial, some part of my brain was screaming, “If he could only know how it felt, he would surely stop doing it. The ONLY reason a man who loves me would hurt me this way is because he just doesn’t know. Telling him in increasingly frantic voices has not worked, so maybe if I SHOW him….” I even posted here, asking addicts to please tell me what would make them feel pain equivalent to the pain they were causing their SO. What would inspire empathy? Several addicts in recovery said, in a word, “Nothing”. A feature of the disease is that the addict doesn’t feel – can’t empathize. It had never occurred to me, but now seemed obvious. AVOIDING EMPATHY/FEELINGS IS THE POINT. Other SOs told me stories of their own PAs, who, while in the throes of their addictions had even encouraged their wives to go out and sleep with other men. I was utterly deflated by the responses I got. Asking, reasoning, pleading,and crying had not worked. Trying to inspire empathy had been my last, frantic hope and now I had to abandon that path. He was still hurting me and could not/would not stop. Fast-forward a number of months and now I am at a place where, although I hope he has/will be able to eventually develop empathy, I no longer have the emotional investment in that outcome that I once had.

    So as I was listening to him relate his feelings of pain last night, I felt, at different times, the following:

    Deep compassion for his suffering, especially since he was now bearing it without the aid of his favorite coping mechanism - “Poor sweetie. I wish it would stop but I don’t have the power to make it. Just go ahead and cry. I have you.”

    A kind of cold detachment - “Yes, my dear. It is a pity that you could not address your addiction before it led to this regrettable but entirely predictable outcome. Asi es la vida.”

    An acknowledgement of the therapeutic potential of the pain - “Perhaps the memory of this moment will help inoculate you from future complacency.”

    And the one I am not proud of – “NOW do you know how it feels?! Now how ‘bout I lie to you and toy with you so that you feel like this every fucking day until your mind is gone and your body aches?”

    As he described his suffering, I cycled (no pun intended) through all these. Happily, I didn’t dwell or act on the last one. It's good to know that, even though I have come out of this a different person than I went in, at least I haven't developed the stomach for that.
     
  3. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    Wow...you are incredibly resilient. Good job.
     
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  4. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    That sounds hard, well done for not being vindictive, despite your pain.

    Side note: we're watching the tour too! And the Giro Rosa is available this year on http://www.voxwomen.com/voxwomen-tv/ (though the coverage is done on a shoestring budget)
     
  5. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    Thanks! I have been checking in on it because I want to be a fan. But I never got hooked because my husband and I couldn't watch it together -too triggering for him.

    Also....they have Podium Women. What the ever loving fuck?! "Hello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to to this celebration of women in sport. But just in case you forget what women are really for....."
     
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  6. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    YES! What is that for? It needs to stop. It just makes Italy look backward. Some great stages though, van Vlueten on the 'Queen's Stage' or Vos pipping Kennedy to the line. Amazing cycling.
     
  7. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    Okay. I'm convinced. Maybe I can get hooked and watch on my own.

    Why can't every race be like La Vuelta? Last year they had no Podium Women and instead had the cyclists' parents along with aspiring kid cyclists holding stuffed animals on the podium. Totally different atmosphere and one that did a lot to combat the somewhat sordid reputation of pro cycling, in my opinion.
     
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  8. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    A strange thing happened to me this afternoon. I was in a grocery store, feeling melancholy to begin with, and was suddenly overcome with a desire for a food from my childhood that I hadn’t eaten for ages. So I decided to buy some, go to the local cemetery (always quiet and cool) and sit on the grass and eat lunch. But no matter where I looked, I could not find this food in the store. I was becoming frantic. Then it hit me. I am a native southerner living in New England. They don’t eat this food here. I won’t be able to get it. Right there in the store, the tears started. I just could not stop crying and I didn’t care who saw me.

    I'm tired. I want to go home. Right this minute, I want to be sitting on the porch with a glass of iced tea, playing gin rummy with Granddaddy while Grandma is in the kitchen cooking blackeyed peas and fried okra. I want it to be so hot that you would never think of going inside (unless you were Grandma) because nobody has air-conditioning. And I want a baseball game on the radio that you can’t even hear because the locusts are buzzing so loudly. I want to go home. Not the home I shared with my husband. Home home.
     
  9. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    When a relationship ends due to a catastrophe, it can be difficult to look back on it with clear eyes. It is easy to idealize the relationship, thinking about how perfect it was before the onset of whatever calamity befell it. It is equally easy to disparage it, as a kind of aid to moving on. “Oh, things were never right between us. He/she was always doing ‘fill in the blank’. This is all for the best. Good riddance!” As I have been performing the post mortem of my marriage, I have tried to avoid succumbing to either of these errors. And in trying to assure any readers that I have gone into the exercise wearing neither rose-colored nor mud-colored glasses, I hope I have earned some credibility, because I’m now going to insist I thought I had an excellent marriage. We loved each other the very best way we knew how; we loved each other’s company (still do); felt like best friends; were very compatible in important ways; until the addiction progressed, had frequent and what seemed to me to be mutually satisfying sex; spent much more time together than most couples; and rarely argued.

    This is why I was so blind-sided by the discovery of the addiction. It’s a cliché, I know, but I really did feel as if I had been completely mistaken about every firm conviction I had ever had about him as a person and our life together. He, of course, knew “the truth” all along, so never suffered the total disorientation I did. To this day he does not understand or acknowledge the profound power imbalance that resulted from his complete control and ownership (through deception) of “the truth” about him and our relationship. This imbalance between us existed while the addiction was hidden, and it persisted even in “the light of day”, due to my disorientation. I admit that for a while I was not in full possession of my faculties (or rather, my faculties were laser focused on one thing). And due to the gradual erosion of my self-confidence and the constant second-guessing that can be a by-product of living with an SA, I still don’t quite know if I am. Dismantling my self-confidence is, by far, the cruelest thing he did to me.

    Once I did know “the truth” (or enough truth anyway), the next phase of our relationship was characterized by me trying to “rebalance” things. With a vengeance. Knowledge is power and I wanted more and more information. It has come to my attention that this approach is not universally endorsed, either by SOs or addicts. I was always on an information expedition. These variously took the form of research, snooping, requests for disclosure, and close observation. For all of them, I remain unrepentant. I maintain that I needed the information I got and I needed the empowered feeling that came from getting it. In addition, I maintain that seeing all the evidence of his illness collected and laid out in front of him resulted in him finally understanding and admitting how sick he was. Did I always draw the correct conclusions about what I saw? No. Did I ever mistake something innocent for something evil? You bet. But that does not bother me. I was almost always dead on. And for every one of my mistakes or misperceptions, I gave him 100 undeserved benefits-of-the-doubt.

    I know I’m rambling here. What is the point? I guess I wanted to say that my hyper-vigilance was a major source of misunderstanding between us that we could never correct. He accused me of always looking for trouble – of looking for evidence of his failure. He decried the “adversarial” assumptions behind my search for knowledge. (Strange that he never considered his using deception to deprive me of power “adversarial”.) But he could not have been more wrong about this. What my mind needed more than anything, what it desperately craved, was not yet more evidence of his addiction, but a day when its search would come up empty. It wanted the coast to be clear for once. It wanted to rest and be calm. I was not looking for evidence that he had failed. I was looking for evidence of his success. And when I found evidence of his success, (which never amounted to anything more than absence of evidence of failure – never anything proactive on his part. I am shocked now, at how low I kept the bar for success. THAT’S how much I wanted to believe.) when I found lack of evidence of misbehavior, I would collapse in a heap, slacking off, grateful for the rest, the normalcy of the illusion of closeness between us. But this illusion was always shattered. And it was this cycle that wore me out.

    Why can't he believe me about this? Maybe it's a convenient excuse. Maybe he needs to blame his failures on my "adversarial assumptions" so that the blame will rest outside himself. Maybe it comes down to a difference in perspective between addict and non-addict. For him, feelings (albeit false ones) of ease and calm come from successfully hiding things for one more day. For me, feelings of ease and calm come from living in the truth.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
  10. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    There are a whole bunch of first sentences I want to type. One about how proud I am of you. One about how powerful your journal is, hence how powerful you are. One about how much I relate to your approach to fairness and honesty. One about how I can't believe this situation happens to people (really though, what is it like for couples never caught up in this affliction?). There's even one where I mention tearing up while reading your posts, then mention you tearing up at my journal yesterday and I make a joke about comin' to Alabama with a banjo on my knee :rolleyes:. As I read through the post, I kept shifting what I wanted to say. As I neared the end of the entry, I knew that what I wanted to convey needed to be something about "the truth". But then in the final sentence you sliced up and served exactly what I would have wanted to say anyway, what I would have hoped my words could help you do: find peace in the truth.

    Susannah you are the living truth. Your composure is astounding. Your attitude impeccable. You are a leading example, not just to the SOs but to all the PAs. I know I'm buttering your bread pretty mightily here but so be it. In your entry earlier today you were wanting a taste of home home. Of course I can't deliver that. But I can deliver the love and support that I know your family back home would give to you in this moment today. You are an awesome person and I can speak for the good people of this community in saying you have our ears and our hearts. Thank you for inspiring us. What you do in illustrating your thoughts, actions, motives and situational tones is a blessing here.

    I just used a bunch of words to try to form a verbal hug of support. I hope you are able to feel pride in yourself and have a space of peace while grieving your marriage. There is no clever closing line. Just wishing you all the best.

    Dang it, I was hoping for some magic in writing this. Another time maybe.
     
  11. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    I have that problem all the time!
    Thank you. I'm not perfect at this, by any means, but I experience a sort of terror at the idea of falling short in these areas, so I work hard at them. And just a cursory glance at your journal reveals you share my commitment to these ideals.
    I think about this all the time. I was driving home tonight and passed a hand-lettered sign on the side of the road that said "Farm Stand" with an arrow underneath. I pictured a mom and pop farm stand and wondered what it would be like to be able to do that? Hell, what would it be like to even be able to GO to a farm stand without the addiction? I look, in amazement, at couples who are just doing stuff. What is it like to be a couple who is able to just move through the world - go to a movie, have a picnic in a public place, shop for groceries, drive down a busy street, go to the airport excited about a vacation? The addiction traveled with us everywhere, impacted all our decisions, restricted so much of our movement. It was part of the atmosphere that surrounded us - oxygen, nitrogen, addiction.

    Thanks S&L. I got that hug loud and clear.
     
  12. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  13. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    The above posts are a breath of fresh air and a reprieve from the emotional turmoil.
    Yes the longing for a simpler time and place...watching couples doing the simplest things together. The connection and validation.
    You guys are excellent writers...thank you
     
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  14. Queenie%Bee

    Queenie%Bee Fapstronaut

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    So , my therapist told me to think of the good times ( she was seeing if I could )

    We travel out of country twice a year , have for 8 years . Mostly just us as the kids got older .

    So I said , I love to travel with him ! Oh wait that loving stopped , it became more of anxious triggers 2016 and on .

    We go to some really great restaurants I love that ! . Oh wait , now because he became so objectifying he had to face the wall not the entrance since 2016 and on .

    Oh we love to go to sporting events .
    Nope not anymore , too many 18-23 year old girls wearing nothing .

    But I do remember the BEFORE . Before I knew everything. We went EVERYWHERE together . Siamese twins . But now , like you I wonder what it’s like to just do things together not having to scan the room and get this “glue” unstuck .
    ❤️❤️❤️♥️♥️♥️
     
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  15. HonestyMatters

    HonestyMatters Fapstronaut

    I relate to every word you write here. I was exactly the same for years and years on end. And as tiring and exhausting as it was I wanted to prove myself wrong and discover that he was succeeding this time. So many times he would say “I want him to fail” but he couldn’t have been further from the truth, like you I wanted my digging to come up empty, so I could feel some sort of peace or relief. It was more about needing to prove to myself that I’m not just living in a cloud of deception, time and time again (in effect taking my power back) And like you, if I hadn’t been so hyper-vigilant and been able to lay everything out on the table, I truly don’t think he would have ever got out of his denial. The enormity of discoveries and uncovering of his lies and deceptions got to a point he could no longer deny it anymore. But as you say too, even coming up empty in the end at times eventually proved not enough and that he’d probably only got better at hiding, which was eventually uncovered as the truth. It’s only through him working recovery every day that I see him being more successful now. The recovery work was what he really fought all along or couldn’t remain consistent or committed too. He’s been working daily recovery for a year now and I don’t delude myself that he could still be deceiving and lying but I know it’s a hell of a lot more effort to keep up the charade if he is, by doing all the work daily and deceiving at the same time. The only hope I hold out now in him beating his addiction and our relationship improving is directly proportional to how proactive he’s being in his recovery. That’s all there really is and I know that’s not even full proof...

    On another note I want to say how inspiring I find you. How strong you are and how far you have come. I remember when you first joined NoFap and where you were at and how far you have come in that time. You have gone from feeling so weak and incapable to truly finding yourself again and then building from strength to strength. You are an inspiration and give so many SO’s like me hope of truly finding oneself in the “cesspool of shit” this addiction finds us in, and the importance of really honouring ourselves and putting ourselves first by doing what we need first and foremost, and by practising self care and self love. ♥️
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
  16. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    I’ve spent quite a bit of time with my husband this last week. Lots is happening in the garden at the house, and I really wanted to be there. The raspberry harvest is wonderful this year, and as it will likely be my last summer with my beloved berry patch, I really want to soak it up. I’m trying a technique of, as I go through the rows picking, saying goodbye and “thank you” to the berries. It’s sad, but realizing how much suffering non-acceptance has caused me in this whole debacle, I’m trying hard to cultivate acceptance these days. Even if the resulting peace is mixed with profound sadness, it is still not anywhere near as bad as the internal "railing against" I used to go through.

    I have been spending mornings keeping track of the bike race with my husband (what a Tour this year!) and afternoons going through all my belongings, decided what to keep and what to jettison. I have always been an unrepentant packrat and am very sentimental, so I have been surprised to find how little attachment I now feel to so many things. I have been tempted to have someone else come in and just take everything away. I want to be free of encumbrances of all kinds – things, relationships, even ideas that I have long cherished. Many days, my mind feels like a blank slate. But I’m afraid this word choice gives a wrong impression – it’s more like a state of clarity than of emptiness. Is this good or bad (or even “real”)? I don’t honestly know. It “feels” right for now, but it is also possible I am in a profoundly hurt place and have “turned myself off” in order to bear it. I am thinking of putting all the things in storage and waiting a while before deciding.

    So after a long week of that, we decided to go kayaking yesterday. We had been wanting to go for a couple of weeks but it has been ridiculously hot and humid here. We had one 97 degree day and another few almost as bad (for my friends outside the US, 97 Freedom Units = 36C) The heat finally broke, so we went to a beautiful, quiet pond and paddled around for an hour or so. We did a few sprints, which is fun and feels good in the muscles. The whole thing was lovely. Then we decided to go for dinner in a nearby town. It felt so good to make a spontaneous decision like that. It’s a simple thing we could never do before, when deciding when and where to go out to dinner would sometimes take hours. How busy is the restaurant? Is it a ‘young’ crowd? How young and pretty are the waitresses likely to be? Let’s look at photos of the place online. Are there large TVs? Are there plate glass windows with a busy street scene visible from inside? How easy will it be to get out of if I feel PTSD symptoms coming on? How quick is the service, because waiting around too long is a recipe for his failure? What kind of street do we have to drive down to get there? How has his work week been? Stressful week = more compulsive ogling. And on and on and on. Needless to say, we very rarely went out.

    But yesterday, it was even my idea. I said, “Hey, let’s go get something to eat. I saw a place back there.” and he said “Okay!” Just like normal people. And in fact, it turned out to be “just like normal people”. We went, ordered food, chose a table outside, sat and ate and talked and laughed. We tried to think of the names of songs stuck in our heads, tried to identify flowers growing on a nearby hillside, complained about the food, reminisced about a trip we took to England last summer, remembered good food we had cooked together, talked about the crazy Tour de France Stage 19. It was lovely. There were triggers but he did great and I did great. Afterward in the car, he reported to me (without me asking) that he had been aware of hazards there, but had not “scanned” for them upon going in. In addition, he had not felt urges or ‘habit pulls’ to look at or fix his gaze on anyone. He said it felt great and attributed it to a mental preparation process similar to grounding, followed by a conscious decision to keep substituting a behavior of “deliberately not looking” for his usual habit of scanning. Then he said something I found interesting. He said he also engaged in a conscious process of “giving the women space”. He said he wanted to give them space to move around “without the weight of eyes on them”. Could it be the beginning of empathy? Could it be the dissolving of his hatred for women? Could it be the coldest, shrewdest attempt to manipulate me yet? (He's capable)
    I can never know.
    What I do know is that I cannot take a chance and open myself up to that manipulation again. If I did, and the worst happened, this time it would be entirely on me because I know better. And this, boys and girls, is why you don’t lie.
     
  17. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    Interesting that at a time of good connection (with you), he feels less inclination toward compulsive behavior. IMO this is not coincidence.
     
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  18. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    Isn’t that the whole thing...connection verses control...attachment verses detachment..love verses hate...acceptance verses anxiety.
    Susannah I am in a similar situation as you...saying good bye to things of the past, not knowing what to keep or give away. Does any of the “stuff” really have any value. Like you it’s a bitter sweet time of saying good bye to everything that once seemed so important.

    Your posts resonate, thank you...
     
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  19. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    Remember my entry from last Saturday morning? The touching story of former lovers enjoying a bit of recreation, closeness, and fun – free, for a moment, from the ravages of addiction?

    *record scratch*

    Well, then came Saturday afternoon. Due to a previous commitment too difficult and boring to explain in full here, my husband and I had to go help out a neighbor that lives down the street. This is a woman I have known for a few years. We are not what I’d call “girlfriends” – more like casual, friendly acquaintances. We serve on a couple of town committees together, so we see each other with some frequency. My husband had met her once before. We got to her house and began the task ahead of us. Everything was going swimmingly, when she came out of the house and walked over to say hello. It was then that my husband gave her what I refer to as the “USDA“, a complete up and down body scan. (Isn’t it charming that we had to develop a shorthand language for his ‘behaviors’ ?) She moved closer and bent around the corner to see inside the garage where we were working. I looked at my husband and his eyes were glued to her chest area, obviously trying to see down her dress. Yes, I am married to a 13 year old boy. She backed up and folded her arms across her chest, a defensive move every woman has employed consciously or not, at one time or another. It was then that the flirting began. Chatting, laughing, joking, and oh my god, the explaining. “Well, what I think we have here is a blah, blah, blah. In my experience, that is usually caused by blah, blah, blah. Of course, it’s up to you, but I recommend blah, blah, blah. When you are ready to do it, just give me a call. I’ll be happy to help. I insist – call anytime.” It was about then that I puked into the nearby hedgerow. Okay, I admit the part about puking isn’t true – but I could have. Then I watched as he gave her ANOTHER USDA. Full up and down eye raking. At this, she shot me a sideways glance that can only be described as a combination of withering, embarrassed, and disgusted. Honestly, I don’t know how I can ever face her again. Intellectually, I know that I did nothing wrong, but I still feel dirty by association. It’s kind of like when your baby spits up on your mother-in-law’s velvet upholstery – you didn’t do it, the baby couldn’t help it, but you still feel somehow responsible.

    What happened next? We went home and had a “discussion”. I find it interesting to look back and see how he and I, over time, built up little communication routines around his addiction and the associated behaviors. “Routines” seems the wrong word, but I don’t know what is the right one. Maybe rituals, protocols, habits, templates? Oddly, I think “superstitions” might be the most accurate. We could never discuss it completely openly. Things had to be done a certain way, in a certain order, using particular words guaranteed to not "send him into shame”. In the past, after an outrage like the one described above, I would gently approach him, and ask him if he noticed anything “off” about the incident. This was our agreed upon shorthand for “Look at your behavior and see if you acted out, please.” He would close his eyes and try to remember what happened. Almost all of the time, he would deny any awareness of the behavior in the moment, then “remember” what he had done, express remorse, promise never to do it again, etc. He would then go sit for a while, promising to “think” about it. After a while, he would come back and present to me, with great fanfare, an “explanation” for why he did whatever he had done. These “explanations” would alternate between stories that directly conflicted with the explanation he had given the previous time and well-worn, re-warmed excuses presented as new material. It all always ended up with him giving vague descriptions of hidden pain, suppressed trauma, and fear – always fear of losing me. Frustratingly absent was any explanation for how this fear of losing me translated into him pursuing other women. Requests for further explanation of this baffling phenomenon would result in his immediate shut down. Then would come sometimes hours of repair work, with me trying to coax him out of his shell again.

    For me, the whole atmosphere was permeated with fear. I was terrified that to confront him directly about his behavior would launch him into defensiveness, terrified that this would “make him” use, terrified that I would say something “not helpful” to his healing. Sometimes I would express my anger, but would eventually calm down and tell him to remember that he was not the addiction and that he was a worthy person, etc. I admit I was also sometimes afraid of hearing the real truth. I accepted explanations no reasonable person would accept, with my inner voices howling in protest all the while. I accepted absolute crap and laziness from him because I was too afraid to do what I knew I would have to do in order to hold him accountable.

    Thank god those days are over. No longer burdened by my love for him and a commitment to our marriage, I was able to do things differently this time. This is certainly not the first time he has embarrassed me or himself in public, but this might be the first time I didn’t try to make allowances for him and I didn’t participate in our little “dance” about it. This time, I just described what I had seen, told him that it was offensive and disrespectful to everyone present, told him that he should apologize to the friend and to me, and that he needs to get some help (he has still not found a therapist, support group, or developed any systematic plan for recovery). The ball is in his court now.
     
  20. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

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    I’ve been living apart from my husband for a few months now and have been thinking a lot about the similarities between addicts and SOs. I’m not claiming that I have figured things out, and can only speak for myself, but there do seem to be some interesting similarities. One such similarity is the presence of the “brain fog” that lots of addicts talk about. I saw it in my husband, but now, with the benefit of a little temporal and physical distance, I can see that I was in it too, and that it seems to be lifting now. I feel I am finally able to look back on my experience and see it more clearly. Maybe it is the absence of fear that allows this. For me, there is no more fear. The outcome I most feared for so long has happened, and I didn’t die – nothing to be afraid of anymore. Now, without the fog, I look back and the journey that felt like a black, oppressive, swirling tar pit while I was in it, increasingly seems foreign and far away. The fact that it has taken on this ephemeral feel increases the urgency to look at it and mine it for all it has to offer before it fades. So here goes.

    My introspection has revealed that, as with my husband, denial and compartmentalization (or outright dissociation) figured large in my “foggy” days. (I’ve posted a bit about this over on @kropo82, Tim's journal.) My denial began in the pre-Dday period, when I would sometimes clearly see signs of trouble, but was unable to “admit” it to myself. For me, this usually took the form of second-guessing my perceptions and interpretations and squashing my intuition. After D-day, I denied the truth about (among other things): how serious the problem was; how committed to recovery he was; my own degree of power and control over the situation; how much I could take (I believed it was more than it really was); how ill he was; that I was being abused; and on and on and on. As for compartmentalization, I lived in that place so many SOs inhabit – “He’s a good man! If it weren’t for this one thing.” As if “this one thing”, or more importantly, the underlying causes, were somehow separable from the man. In addition, I was hungry for and tried frantically to engineer moments of normalcy and calm, when I could “forget” the real circumstances of our life and pretend the addiction and the lying and the abuse were not there. Even after repeated deceptions, I continued to have sex with him. THAT’S some compartmentalization, right there. But it got worse. I graduated to compartmentalization’s big sister, dissociation, defined as : “a detachment from reality when faced with stressful situations or ideas. Active addiction causes an impaired sense of self, which in turn generates behavior that is baldly contradictory to the addict’s core beliefs and values.” That went double for me. I tolerated behavior from him that went against everything I believed in and had always lived. I was a strong, capable person who spent two decades running her own business in a male-dominated field; I was highly educated; I was a life-long feminist; I had spent two years in college answering calls on a rape crisis hotline. Now I found myself looking in the mirror at bruises sustained from sexual encounters in which he had to have his hands around my throat in order to orgasm. And as an illustration of the degree of his porn-induced dissociation, he thought those bruises were a sexy reminder of a “hot” sex life. Was I a doormat? A pathetic, weak, bundle of "pre-existing" pathologies? No - not any more than he was/is a monster. Some might disagree, but if he is a monster, considering the ubiquity of porn and the cultural pervasiveness of its “lessons”, he has a LOT of “monsters” for company. Of course, the prevalence of those attitudes doesn't excuse them, but I think @kropo82 has a good point when he says,
    Does this mean my denial is still firmly in place? I don’t know. I guess that’s the nature of it.

    I originally pictured this post leading up to an answer for the question, “What took you so long to leave?” but I’m exhausted and depressed, so I’ll have to leave that for another day.
     

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