Thank you Ghostwriter, Kenzi and many others.

Discussion in 'Partner Support' started by neverthelessshepersisted, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. neverthelessshepersisted

    neverthelessshepersisted Fapstronaut

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    Hello, this is my first post. I wanted to say ‘THANK YOU’ to Ghostwriter, Kenzi and many others for their words of wisdom. I came to this forum over a year ago after googling symptoms of what could be wrong with my husband. It all became crystal clear (painfully so); your posts/replies have been my rock and at times, my sanity- you call it like it is and have reaffirmed what I’ve felt/thought/suspected. Without even knowing it, you have truly helped me. You’re perfect strangers, but I will ever appreciate and respect your guidance, honesty and knowledge.

    I’ve been with my SO for 20 years, married for 11. Lack of connection, sex that felt wrong and different, objectification, ogling, PIED & DE and his sudden onset of anxiety...all of the symptoms were there and seemed to show up at once. I worked very hard and very patiently to bring his addiction to light and while I know he realizes he is a PMO addict today, the red flags are still there (thank you Ghostwriter for continuing to point out the red flags that we may be in denial about). We did the 90 day reboot and for about a month of that time, I felt my husband was back, present and aware. We actually communicated deeply, talked about sex and how to rebuild our relationship. We were always sexually active, but the PIED was already improving and he seemed connected with me. He was touching all of me, not just zoning in. There were moments of empathy from him, vulnerability and openness. I realized this addiction hijacked those feelings from him and had for some time. I can relate to so many who feel this addiction has stolen their SO. He was indeed a ghost of my husband and while I found hope in early results, I don’t want to be naive, especially when it started to feel he was in his head again, avoiding and withdrawing. BUT all the while, adamant he has not PMO’d.

    I feel my SO has taken a huge leap forward however, I understand that acknowledgment alone is not recovery and feel he may be regressing. He says he quit and hasn’t gone back, no urges, no triggers, everything is ‘good’. My fear now is the ‘what if’. Like all others, the question of ‘if it were that easy why didn’t he quit a long time ago?’ How can I know if he’s truly serious as much as he says he’s 100% committed. With the lies, omissions and minimizing over the past year, I wish there was a way to know if it’s my intuition, paranoia or should I just put my faith in his word and continue to hope...

    I have barriers up where there shouldn’t be. Wondering what his intention is when we’re cuddling and hating the fact that between our friendship and sex, we have this huge intimacy void. I’m confused between wanting to share sexual intimacy and protecting myself from feeling used. I feel hurt that I have taken this on and feel lonely as a result. It is devastating to feel like I hardly know my husband after 20 years.

    There was a post by Ghostwriter a while ago that caught a lot of flack. It was questioning how PA’s hide and sneak their PMO. I wish there were answers to give insight, but instead it was more of an attack on the original post. I would like to know the red flags, signs, symptoms of relapse, how PA’s continue to hide etc. I need to know what to look for and while my instinct was right a year ago, when you feel hyper vigilant, you start to question your instincts. It’s an awful feeling of confusion. I’d like to have the resources and insight from PA’s and SO’s to guide me. Honesty is not something that’s been freely given by PA’s and the advice and openness from those who’ve been there is invaluable. Answering honestly may be a trigger, but aren’t coping with triggers a part of recovery? These forums (and NoFap Reddit) have been my bible in a sense - I know what I know because PA’s and SO’s have shared their experiences.

    I know my SO doesn’t want to disappoint me or hurt me anymore, but I can’t help but feel that he has/is struggling alone or fighting it himself. He has never been open emotionally and we’ve made progress in that sense which is awesome. I want to focus on the positive except I’ve read so often that it’s not enough to simply say ‘I’ve stopped’. I still catch him zoning out to certain actresses on tv and I can feel his anxious energy at times (restless, rubbing his face, moving arms a lot, sore arms and back). I tell him I can sense the anxious energy, but he says he’s feeling ok. It makes me question that gut feeling I’ve come to rely on and that scares me. I don’t want to question if it’s right or if I’m being overly sensitive. I also feel like a nag and needy when I keep asking and don’t want to push him away with distrust.

    We’re in a confusing place of when and how to initiate sex because we both want to show our intentions are right. I want the intimacy we lacked and can’t help but feel this is uncomfortable to my SO to have physical contact without sex. He will caress and be gentle, but no kissing or eye contact and there has been frustration when this closeness doesn’t lead to sex. I wonder if he doesn’t know how to anymore because of PMO or if his PA brain is actually healing. How can I help him with this? I don’t want to ‘withhold’ sex, but I want him to know what selflessness and control feels like and feel a natural build up of desire. He has been selfish for so long and I want this to feel right for us. I hate guessing what his motives are (closeness vs a need for release).

    I’m the SO who has done the work to bring the addiction to light while stuffing my own feelings down. I have talked to a therapist a couple of times when I realized how badly this affected me and I go through daily waves of emotions. I’ve researched, shared links and videos with my SO. My SO has not taken the initiative other than what I have presented. He assures me he will tell me if something is wrong, but I’m depending on him fully to be honest which isn’t easy. Should I feel secure in this? I’ve set boundaries (don’t lie, tell me if you have urges or triggers or a slip or relapse, etc.). At first he said he had no idea PMO could be an addiction and after a lot of work on my part, he admitted he was. But if he didn’t know then, how can he not want to understand more of how this affected him? Is this over confidence, denial or plain old BS?

    He still takes a low dose of anxiety medication and I feel the anxiety was directly related to PMO. He agrees, but doesn’t seem to question why the need if PMO is gone. How soon should one expect for anxiety symptoms to get better and get off meds?

    I’m sorry for the long post. I felt this was a good time to reach out, if nothing else but to say thank you.

    I’m over worried about relapse and how I can ever know. I’m worried about his nonchalant attitude of how easy this seemed to be to kick. I know every PA may have a different story, but is mine really that different - will he be the PA with no urges, triggers, relapses? Is it possible that time alone can bring back intimacy? Is it possible I’m just paranoid about his anxiousness and over worrying without cause? Are there clear expectations I can put in place like boundaries? Do SO’s typically need to lead the horse to water, or at what point can I say ‘you take it form here’!

    I’ll keep reading and learning because this is an unbelievably scary epidemic and it shocked me to the core to realize it was happening to me/him/us. I know it is ultimately up to him, I’m just so fearful of more years going by with me being a naive fool, thinking this was easy for him...I’ve been through a lot, but it pales in comparison to the feeling of your security and foundation being destroyed by the person you love and trust the most. I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone, but I also wish we weren’t victimized by those we love most. It is very, very painful, hard and confusing to understand and maneuver. I’m struggling between codependency (wanting to desperately fix him) and knowing that I can’t. I want to know what to watch for and when to step back or away.

    I thank you all for sharing and for your wisdom and honesty, from the bottom of my broken heart. I, like so many of you, want to get through this and come out a stronger, healthier couple, but it’s so important to know the facts and have an understanding of the process and timelines. I’m at a point of loss and confusion - are we at the right place, where to go from here, or have we (has he!) really even started the process at all?
     
  2. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    I find your comments mirror that of my own. The insecurity, self doubt etc...yup Ghostwriter is straight to the point and I too appreciate that.
    There’s a doctor who prescribed medication, Prozac I believe, to sex offenders . It
    completely corrected the brain imbalance. Stabilized all urges etc... He related the sex addiction impulse control issues to that of eating disorders.
    I’ll try to find the article, it was most interesting.
    Good luck on your journey, and ya you’re never alone in this journey, that’s for sure.
     
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  3. neverthelessshepersisted

    neverthelessshepersisted Fapstronaut

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    Thank you, Lostneverland. You too are not alone.
    I’m sure as more research is conducted in the age of the internet, we will continue to see the surge of therapists specializing in this particular addiction, as well as how treatment methods compare. I find it terrifying that brain changes from this addiction result in abnormal emotions, reactions and sexual tendencies. It changes personality and character. I never thought I’d be in this position in life, I never even knew the threat was there, and while I find the science both fascinating and alarming, the emotional toll it takes on the PA and SO is really frickin’ heavy.
     
  4. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    All you say in your above post is absolutely 100% correct. Like you I never saw this coming. When he told me of his porn addiction...I swear to God, it was like a boulder being dropped on a mirror...I literally shattered into a million pieces. I’m not sure how we will fair coming through this journey, but I decided I would give it a year,before I make any major decisions. In that time I’ll be getting specialized therapy. I need to make decisions based on what I desire out of life and although I love my PA... I’m not sure I can live with a suspicious mind. Meaning , my mind. I guess time will tell.
     
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  5. letter

    letter Distinguished Fapstronaut

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    Hey @neverthelessshepersisted!

    There are often more things at play than PMO-addiction alone. For your consideration:



    If he's in PMO-addiction, the chances are that his emotional-intelligence is insufficient to know how to handle his "inner-child" in the middle of where he is at now. Imagine that little, vulnerable, inner-child going to porn to seek relief from whatever inner-frustrations are there and you've got the picture of something horribly twisted.

    So, knowing that, I'm gonna share something with you from the perspective of a PMO-addict to help you understand what might be going on. Imagine him trying to find a way to say "I relapsed because when I asked you what shape you thought that cloud was, you didn't give much of an answer and which made me feel angry and lonely."

    It can be so difficult to be open about those thoughts because it can make it appear like they are blaming their addiction on you. The addiction can really twist things like that...and so maybe he's trying to not hurt you by not telling you these things. It's like his adult-mind knows such things are absurd and wrong, but his inner-child-feelings can't help but feel that way and he likely doesn't have a clue how to change any of that but try harder.

    Soo.....don't walk on eggshells for him k? It's up to him to express his feelings. You're in a partnership and he's gotta do his part.

    I hope understanding this helps you find a way to freedom that is healthy and safe :) All the best.
     
  6. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    Yup...that’s it EXACTLY... he has agreed to take time off work to work through his issues..intense theraphy and five SA sessions a week. He’s enthusiastic about both...but ya the emotional intelligence is lacking. Sometimes it feels like I’m reminding an 8 year old child what’s going on.
    He also doesn’t/hasn’t been able to acknowledge the sever abuse he has sustained as a child. The therapist is working with him on that. Im not sure what my role is in all of this. Maybe you can share your thoughts? I basically just listen and he reads his SA readings to me and then he shares his thoughts. I encourage the best I can.
    I’ll watch the video you attached. Thank you very very kindly.
     
    letter likes this.
  7. In my personal experience--and from what I have seen in many, many others--someone addicted to PM'ing for decades cannot simply stop, without diving deep into recovery materials, changing their routines, and getting outside help.

    * Diving Deep Into Recovery Materials
    Spoonfeeding the PA is a fine way to start..but they have to have the desire in themselves to learn more. There is a huge world of blog articles, YouTube videos, Ted's talks, etc. ALL ABOUT porn addiction and what the steps to recovery look like. There are great books about sexual addiction.

    A porn addict cannot just one day make a conscious decision to stop...they can white-knuckle it, sure. (I did that for 4 months after the second to last DDay., August 2016...I thought I "was cured" / had stopped.)

    The PA must drive him/herself into reading and learning and growing in all things related to addiction and recovery.


    * Changing Their Routines
    This is a very practical thing..but the porn addict MUST change their normal routines--especially in the beginning (beginning == the first 12 months). Where and When did the PA ingest their poisonous porn? For me, it was from 12 mid - 2AM .. about two times per week on average .. usually on the couch or in the living room while my wife and kids slept. After final DDay .. I made a commitment never to be on my laptop after my wife was asleep; and I committed to only using my laptop at the desk or dining room table--both out in the open.

    _I MADE_ that commitment to my wife. (she didn't suggest it or push it on me)


    * Getting Outisde Help
    This can mean lots of things...joining NoFap and BEING ACTIVE on NoFap is an easy and extremely helpful option. Starting a journal on NoFap is infinitely helpful...it helps the PA get their thoughts and feelings out, and they get the benefit of people reading and commenting and providing feedback.

    The ultimate example of getting outside help is telling someone else in real life: a trusted friend, a counselor, a pastor. I know this is a hard one -- but I cannot tell you how impactful this is. Porn Addiction grows in the dark, in secrecy ... its power starts to erode when you shed light on it and open up and talk about it, WITH OTHER PEOPLE besides your SO.

    Another option here is a 12-step program .. Or if you are Christian, many local churches have a Celebrate Recovery program which is a Christian-based 12-step-like program. Going to any of these meetings is a scary prospect for a newly-realized PA...but if they go, I promise you it WILL help them in their journey of recovery.

    ..

    I wish you the best -- and your PA. Encourage him to join NoFap and share his story and his path through recovery.
     
  8. RedeemedIowan

    RedeemedIowan Fapstronaut

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    Hi @Lostneverland ,
    Great post. Honesty is important for both of your healings. It seems really encouraging to me that he is attending SA and doing therapy. Not sure how long he was a PMO’er, but it can take years to quit. After about 14 years of PMO i managed to get clean via a Christian 12 step program (mentioned by @TryingHard2Change) that i imagine is similar to SA. Been clean from P and p-subs about 26 months and my wife knows every detail. She was key as was my faith.

    I think if he is ALL IN on his SA and recovery and he is honest with you about his slip ups there is plenty of hope. I think my wife and I would both say we are extremely happy now, by the grace if God.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
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  9. letter

    letter Distinguished Fapstronaut

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    Severe abuse as a child too? I suffered extreme childhood neglect, I'm just a few stone throws away from being the child who was raised by wolves.

    At least for me, it's taken decades to get to be where I am now. Share my thoughts? Ehh...that's just it...when you are this kind of broken, your thoughts get broken too. Even your feelings are broken. Nothing makes sense. Everything gets jumbled together. Your sense of self is completely shattered...

    Have you ever stitched someone's soul back together?

    How do the pieces fit together again? Does this one go with this one? Nope...ouch...try again...

    What is your role in that? Make sure you take care of yourself. If he is anything like me, it could be a long time. I've never been married, partly because I've known how damaged I was. One thing that really helped was just this once, there was someone who saw my brokenness and called me "brave"

    You know? There's a lot of weight that comes with just being a man, but so many of us are like me. We've got wounds that we can't even begin to explain, we don't know the words for the kinds of pain we go through. It can be that bad. It was for me... so having someone that sees that? Someone who sees past the broken mess and sees the good that's still in you?

    Ehh...'scuze me...I can't write much more on this without weeping.
     
  10. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    Congratulations on your recovery... yes honesty on both parts is esential. I’m so happy you’ve been able to stay sober. Yes , SA I believe would be very similar to your program. SA is based on A.A.
    My PA has agreed to attend 5 meetings a week and theraphy with a CSAT. To my surprise he’s thoroughly enjoying both. He has agreed to take three plus months off work to focus on his recovery and because therapy is $200. per hour he has agreed to lark his Harley for the year. His Harley was his alter ego, escape toy.
    So for all intents and purposes he’s trying really really hard. I commend him on that. It saddens me though for deep down inside is a very very traumatized little boy. That little guy needs a lot of healing and support.
    For the first time in his life he has like minded friends, guys he can talk to about his secrets and for that I am eternally grateful. He was totally accepted by the SAgroups and it’s like watching a little boy go out to play..he’s excited about going.
    That said...there is the addict demon that seems to be lurking at times..and I get scared .

    You guys are great for sharing so openly...I appreciate it . My PA is brave although right now as to be expected is in denial about the extent of the abuse. He was severely abused through child labour, religious/spiritual abuse, isolation, physical abuse and sexual abuse...and for some reason was the scapegoat of the family. When ever something went wrong he was blamed for it. In which case he was beaten severely. Church was six times a week ...just over the top in everything.

    Hey Letter...I’m so very sorry you had to go through what you did as a child. You most certainly didn’t deserve it...no child ever does. Your insight is much appreciated. And for what it’s worth I too think you are BRAVE...
     
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  11. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    Hey Letter...I understand what you’re saying about the role of being male in today’s society. For me the measure of a man is in his willingness to let go of society’s description of a man and to just be a deeply feeling person.
    I find the bravest most courageous men are often the most gentle and vulnerable. Being vulnerable isn’t an easy road though. That takes true courage...but the freedom afterwards is true peace and harmony.
    I truely wish you success in all your endeavours and I’m grateful that you corresponded with me...thank you.
     
  12. letter

    letter Distinguished Fapstronaut

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    Thanks @Lostneverland... it helps to know this life of mine can still help others, somehow :)

    I'll treasure your kind words. Hope something in mine helps you find peace in the middle of all the pain. All the best for you and your loved ones.
     
  13. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    Good day Letter...every time you share, offer support, disclose parts of your life , you are contributing to the greater good. That’s how people learn. You’re a great teacher/guide.

    There is no shame is a life lived...regardless of the mistakes made. There is always a question of WHY... why did the addict or SO choose the path they choose.

    Chances are they were a highly sensitive child who was deeply traumatized and that requires forgiveness NOT judgement.

    You’re a good person...
     
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  14. Strength And Light

    Strength And Light Fapstronaut

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    Hi @neverthelessshepersisted. I just wanted to thank you for creating this intelligent, thoughtful thread and welcome you to this community. :)
     
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  15. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

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    Thank you Kenzi very much and for your support
     
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  16. neverthelessshepersisted

    neverthelessshepersisted Fapstronaut

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    Thank you, @letter! Your perspective is so appreciated. I absolutely agree that PMO addiction is part of a bigger, unfostered emotional void, at least in my SO’s case. I empathize deeply with him and want him to heal. I’m bearing the painful burden of his porn addiction, yet I’ve remained calm, logical, non judgemental in my approach and communication because I can understand the psychology of the addiction and want him to feel safe and free, but so true - thank you, I needed to hear that I shouldn’t walk on eggshells. I’ve called him out when he gaslights and deflects, but I consider his reactions more important than my own and have ignored my emotions to protect his. I’ve definitely put him first (feeding a selfish nature) and don’t know why having expectations of legitimate effort makes me feel like I’m asking too much. Am I handling this with too-delicate gloves on given my codependent tendencies, should I put on armour and stay diligent or boxing gloves and be aggressive in my approach?
    You are right, he does have to own his role in the partnership and I feel I’ve excused that for him. I feel like I’ve been somewhat of another crutch that he relies on.
    In your experience, how did you come to acknowledge and accept the emotional aspect and what was helpful to you in confronting it?
     
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  17. neverthelessshepersisted

    neverthelessshepersisted Fapstronaut

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    Kenzi, thank you a million times! I PM’ed you.
    I trusted my instincts and intuition before and they were right. I trust now that my SO is white knuckling this process and also that denial is still very much alive. Thanks for the guidance with the anxiety; I understand everyone is different, but it helps to know that it doesn’t necessarily indicate regression back to PMO.
    Yes, we have to celebrate improvement and effort. I admit that my usual optimistic/dreamer disposition has been tested and worn, but I’m determined not to go down without a fight.
     
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  18. neverthelessshepersisted

    neverthelessshepersisted Fapstronaut

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    Thank you so much @Strength And Light! I truly appreciate it!
     
  19. neverthelessshepersisted

    neverthelessshepersisted Fapstronaut

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    @letter You are brave and you are worthy and you aren’t alone. We’re all broken in some way or another, but it is, in fact, your own amazing strength and courage that lifts you back up and puts the pieces back together. That is resilience and perseverance and I admire you for it. I wish I could stitch a soul back together. I’m still working on a few holes in my own, including this new one. I don’t want any man or person to feel crippling emotional pain. It has devastating, life changing effects that we see manifest in many destructive ways. We internalize and feel that no one understands because we are damaged beyond repair, our demons and fears and feelings of inadequacy are there because we believe these things about ourselves, likely through no fault of our own. I commend you for sharing and just want to validate your feelings as very real and very relatable.
     
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  20. Kenzi

    Kenzi Fapstronaut

    Thank you both,
    And white knuckling is a form of dry drunk ... Are you familiar with the term ?
    Is he, the husband, on NoFap? What is he doing for recovery exactly??
    simply abstaining isn't recovering... And he's sounding like he's setting himself up to fail, imo.
    Anyways hope today you all had a good day
    -Kenzi
     
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