Friday, August 21, 2009

Thinking Aloud at 4 a.m.

I rarely sleep through the night and I often awake with thoughts I think it is important to write down. Occassionally they will be things I want to say to others - perhaps in an e-mail, and sometimes they are things I need to say to no one in particular.

What I need to say this morning may need to be said to someone specific in the future, but for now, I'll just put my thoughts down to words here.

Last night I shared with my sponsor and with my face to face group about my slip. I cried in the meeting and I felt like an idiot, but was thankful for the support I got. My sponsor was also supportive and offered some good suggestions. But it is a statement by my certified sex addiction therapist way back in July 2008 that keeps coming to my mind.

When I told her that my husband knew of my sexual addiction, but not the specifics of my acting out, she said, "Until there is full disclosure, you have a sense that you can get away with something. There is no accountability." As I look at other people try to control the information their spouses get about their acting out and how closely they protect that information, I see myself in them. I also see how their sharing has opened the doors for more intimate and loving partnerships with their spouses. These people have found they don't have to face their demons alone. Not only do they have the support of their group, and sponsors, they also have the support of their spouses.

I certainly have the support of my husband. He supports my recovery, and he knows that I am a sex and love addict, but he has no idea the extent and content of my triggers and behavior. And I wonder how I could tell him -- "Hey honey, while you were away, working 12-15 hours a day, I felt lonely, vulnerable and afraid and had sex with a few other guys to numb the feelings. And, while I'm at it, I might as well tell you that I've been numbing every uncomfortable feeling I've had the same way for about six years."

Have I even tried to change, he might ask. To which I could respond that Yes, I had. In fact, I had made some great progress. At least I hadn't used the same hotel key more than once in at least five years. Oh yes, and did I mention that what was once a rabid sex addiction seems to be more of a search for the allusion of love these days? And isn't it true sweetheart, that our own relationship has changed, I might ask.

The AA Big Book says we must be willing to go to any lengths to get sober. We must take off the masks. So the question becomes how willing am I to destroy someone else's life in order to save my own? How long can I stay sober when the voice in the back of my head says ... "What he doesn't know isn't hurting him." When will the "next time" be the time that all this luck -- no STDs, no pregnancy, no fatal attacks or obsessive stalkers -- runs out?

Sobering thoughts at 4 a.m.


vicariousrising said...

I think it's true, that the things we don't tell are things we are able to not be accountable for. It's one of the reasons that when I went to rehab, I decided to out myself to everyone (including my closest local liquor store -- uh, I was kinda drunk at the time and on my way to check into detox. I'm not sorry I did it, but it did embarrass my husband a little. I think it's kind of funny).

For you, however, it is no simple task of revealing how you hurt yourself. I'm so glad you have realized how much support there is out there no matter what sort of mistakes you make. I don't know what experience any of the people you know have, but I wonder if talking to your husband with a sexual addiction counselor present might be helpful for both of you. I'm sure he would benefit from knowing more about what you are suffering from and it might help him understand that it is not a reflection of how you want your marriage to be.


Keep writing, whether it's on the blog or in private journals. I think it's good for you to get it out.

MargauxMeade said...

Rae--I think it's all how you look at it. You mention that you're worried about "destroying" your husband's world by disclosing, but the truth is, not being fully honest is more destructive to the relationship than speaking the truth. The relationship is slowly being destroyed every day that the lie remains. Telling him gives you the chance to really rebuild, whereas not telling him means it will continue to slowly break down.

That's not at all to say that I don't empathize with how scary the prospect of disclosure is. My husband and I never got to the point where he disclosed to me, and that's a big reason why we're separated now, so I don't have any advice. However, it could help to ask a few partners of SAs who have been through disclosure for some tips on how to do it as gently as possible.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. If they truly were "sobering" thoughts then recovery would be a heck of a lot easier than it is.

I couldn't stay sober without full disclosure but it really is cruel to do this to a spouse without the help of a qualified therapist. Sexual betrayal is in an entirely different league from drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, or any other ways people compulsively try to self medicate. It's a deep, deep wound.

Not every relationship survives the trauma of disclosure, just like not every relationship survives the trauma of addiction. But disclosure can be the beginning of a new relationship, while addiction is a dead end.

I really admire you.

MargauxMeade said...

I love the way GentlePath put it:

"Not every relationship survives the trauma of disclosure, just like not every relationship survives the trauma of addiction. But disclosure can be the beginning of a new relationship, while addiction is a dead end."

This was what I was trying to say, but she said it much more succinctly. I didn't separate from my husband because of anything he'd done in his addiction, I separated from him because he chose to keep living the lie.