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Last week I went to my therapist and went over the letter I’m going to read to my wife.  It describes what I know about her acting out and the pain it’s caused me.  They are things I have to say, but have been scared to, as (in codependent thought) it will cause my wife to be hurt and perhaps act out.

Writing things down helped and reading it aloud in the office felt OK, but I still am apprehensive.  I said I was worried how my wife would take it.  The therapist really pushed on me that I had to share the reality of myself with her.  He pointed out that she will feel shame, but that she has done shameful things, and that this is not about hurting her, it’s about healing me.

That night we went to bed and talked a little about the day.   The lights were out and were there together, in the dark.

My wife asked how things went at Dr. Xs (the therapist).  I told that I felt like I’d have a better weekend, but that it was still tough.   She asked what I meant.  So I told her.

I said that I needed to tell her how I really felt and what this all has done to me.  She said she was sorry.  I told her that I felt a lot of shame and that I felt like I was less of a man, and that this is what the Dr. was trying to help me with.  Again, she apologized and said it wasn’t about me at all.  I said that my mind understood that, but not my heart.  That’s the first time I told her about the shame I feel.

We talked a little more before going to sleep.  It was the open and honest conversation that needs to happen more.  I know that this is not easy for my wife and that she’s working on this.  She’d prefer to ignore everything until forced to deal with an issue, but in this case, she reached out toward me.  That’s a good sign.

The rest of the weekend was calm.  I didn’t melt into an emotional heap.  My wife was distant at times, but at other times connected.  It’s a step forward.

If only we had that honest talk everyday, it might be easier.  But forcing it won’t do.  Saying ‘ready, set, talk!’ just doesn’t work.  I did tell her that talking that night did help me out.  A little positive reinforcement doesn’t hurt.  :)

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Dealing with sex addiction is hard.

I still feel a lot of shame over my wife’s behavior and can’t conceive of being public about it.  That really limits how much I actually talk about it.  I think about it a lot, but it’s the not the kind of thing I bring up in casual conversation at lunch.

I only talk about it with a few people, my therapist, a male friend whose wife is an alcoholic and acts as my sponsor, and the ladies from the S-Anon meeting.  I haven’t been going to the S-Anon meetings very much lately.  It tends to conflict with other things in my life I feel important as well.

I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that I’m stuck in the Grief stage (per the Mending a Shattered Heart book) and am not able to move forward yet.  My recent breakdowns all point to this.  I need to get past his and it’s going to require me talking in detail to my wife about what I know and how it’s affected me.   The “pain list” that others have mentioned.

I still haven’t really told her how much pain I’m in and how terrible I feel.  I’m still caught up in that co-dependent thinking that if I tell her hard things, it’s going to MAKE her more depressed and act out.  I’ve come to grips with reality that I must say these things, out loud, to her to get past this myself and move out of grief.

This week I started writing the letter and parts of it poured out easily.  Other parts I struggled with, worrying about it’s affect on my wife.  I do feel relief as I get the ideas out of my head and out on the page, but I do feel fear about actually delivering it.

To get myself some help, I reached out to one of the ladies from the S-Anon group.   Being the only guy at the S-Anon group is strange.  The ladies understand my pain is real and I hurt the same way they do, but I know my presence changes the dynamic a bit.  Men & women discussing sex together always seems a bit awkward.  Hearing women’s views on sex & pornography are quite different than those that I know from men’s point of view.  I don’t argue or rebut anything said in meetings, but there is a little disconnect in my mind between our points of view.

Anyways, I reached out to one of the ladies that is in the group to talk about delivering the letter.  I won’t link or mention her for anonymity sake, but she’s been dealing with sex addiction for just a bit longer than me.  She recently had her disclosure meeting and delivered her letter to her husband.  I had questions about this and wanted to talk about it a bit.

And you know what, the talking helps.  I’m not a big mobile phone person and I don’t have a lot of female friends, so it feels a little strange.  But talking my fears and concerns and listening to her fears and concerns helps me feel that I’m not such a pathetic loser as I sometimes imagine.

She gave me a great tip last night about using the word ‘should’.  I had said “and I should have said something at that point” in referring to my wife’s behavior.  She said that using the word ‘should’ connotes responsibility for my wife’s behaviors and helps create shame in me over her actions.  She was right on.  I am not to blame for my wife’s actions.

We even talked about dealing with having sex with our partners.  I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this to another person, man or woman, before.  But just being able to talk about it and get my worries out of my head helped me accept some of the reality of the situation.

Talking things out really helps me.  And I think it helps others.  Even if it feels a bit awkward and embarrassing, it helps to talk with others going through the same thing.  People who aren’t going through it just can’t understand the feelings the same way as us partner’s of sex addicts can.

So to sum up this verbose entry, talk to others.  It’s easy to try to deal with things solo, but it’s easier to talk to others.

If your reading this and want to talk, my email is anonyhandle@yahoo.com .  To any guy that reads this and is dealing with his wife’s sex addiction, I know the shame and humiliation you feel.  You are not alone.  If you want to chat, I’m happy to be of service.

Sunday was an emotional meltdown.

My feeling had been very near the surface since Friday and my mind kept circling into the same patterns.  Pain and fear, loneliness and anger.

All Saturday I resisted the urge to drop an emotional bomb of some sort to get my wife talking and interacting with me.  She was a bit distant since the meeting on Friday.  I think she just doesn’t know what to do, so she does nothing.  Understandable I guess, but it makes me feel worse.

It’s not like she did anything wrong, but it’s almost like I’m jealous.  She can be affectionate and engaged with others, but it doesn’t feel like she can or wants to do that with me.  It’s the simple things like holding hands or other simple things that she almost seems scared to do.   She says she feels like she’s ‘failing me’ and her only way to deal with that is to keep me at even more distance.

All these feelings whirling around my head, all day Saturday.  I tried to keep positive and keep the painful thoughts away, but they wouldn’t go back behind the wall.

Sunday morning we were just waking up and I asked if she wanted to have sex.  She said no, she wasn’t in the mood.  Not an unreasonable response, but in my head something snapped.  

“Not in the mood?”  In my head I thought:  I’m not in the mood for dealing with your depression!  I’m not in the mood for having you fuck other people!  I’m not in the mood for you to talk about wanting to stop counseling!  I’m not in the mood for you say ‘I don’t know’ to every question!  I’m not in the mood for dealing with this shit for the last six months!

But I didn’t say a word.  I couldn’t control my emotions.  I felt myself falling.

I got up and went out to exercise immediately.  I knew I had to get out and get busy or I would fall apart right then.

Halfway through, I stopped, sat down on the road and cried a bit.  I said, “Cry here, now.  But don’t do it at home, it will just make things worse.”

When I got home, I showered and sat down to eat.  My wife came in and said, “Do you want to talk?”  This is a big thing for her, normally she would have just ignored everything.  I said I was having a tough time with my feelings.  She said, “Is this about not wanting to have sex?”  At this point I could feel all my emotions filling up, like water in a hose.  I said, “It’s about everything!” And then started weeping, unable to stop for a bit.

I said I didn’t want to ‘drop a bomb’ on her and I had gone out so I would settle down away from home.  She said it was OK and I could tell her what was going on.  So I did.  I told her about how hard it was with the distance between us, how I second guess myself, how when she says she wants to stop counseling it feels like a threat, how I feel like I come in second to everything else in her life, how she can work hard for so many others, but not for me.  I said I felt lonely and scared and angry and hurt.  I even said I felt weak for not being able to control myself right then.

I’m not sure how it came out between the sobs.  She said she was sorry.  She said “There’s no way for her to win”, I think meaning how to make it better.  She said she just doesn’t know what to do to make me feel better.  I think she’s being honest, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

I went to go wash my face and cried even more.  And I felt even more pathetic while doing it.

Nothing really got settled.  I didn’t expect anything to be.  She got yet another glimpse of what’s tearing me up inside.  She’s got her counseling session today.  I wonder if she’ll talk about it.

I’ve got to find a way through.  I’m completely drained.

So today was the day when my wife met with my therapist.  I was nervous and it was awkward after the kids went to school until we went off to the session.

My wife was pretty closed up before the session and we made a little small talk.  Once we went in, the therapist launched right into things.  After talking a little bit about the happenings of the week, they talked about me.  They discussed how I was holding back a lot of my feelings and my wife said I never expressed the amount of anger she would have expected.  The therapist concurred and described how I was trying to hold it all in, but that it wasn’t working and eventually it will come out.

At this point, I pretty much lost it.  I started weeping and couldn’t stop.  Both of them were there watching not saying anything until the therapist finally said, “I know you are trying so hard to control this, but the reality is you can’t.”  He’s right.  I need to get it out.

He discussed a process to do this that is basically going over my pain list to have us both share the same reality.  My wife was open to the idea, but not enthusiastic.  I can’t imagine anyone being enthusiastic. 

She was asked how she identified herself, meaning did she consider herself a sex addict.  At first she said no, then she said, “it wasn’t an affair or love, that it was anonymous, something different” and ” so I guess, yes, you could call it addiction”. I took it as a good sign that she’s not in denial.  

He made the point that individual therapy was important, but that that it was probably time for structured couples therapy since it’s been more than 6 months since the discovery.  At this point, I lost it again.  Coming to grips with six months of pain and disappointment just hit me like a 2×4.  I felt like crumbling to the ground in a heap.

The session was over and we walked out.  My wife had to go see her therapist right afterwards.  I was having a tough time with keeping my composure still.  She was comforting, but there was nothing she was going to say or do that was going to fix things.  I sent her off to her session.  It took me about 10 minutes sitting on a bench outside to get my head together enough to get in my car and drive to work.  I’m completely wrung out.

I got home from work a little while ago and we talked a little.  She was in a good mood and open to talking.  She liked the therapist and agreed it was a good fit for me.  She’s willing to keep at things, so it looks like an overall good thing.  

She doesn’t think he’s judgemental or solely focusing on her, her fears going into this.  I think she got a good glimpse of exactly the kind of toll this is taking on me that I normally hide from her.

Of course, since my emotions are running at full tilt and I started crying yet again as we talked in the bedroom.  I feel so out of control, but I guess I need to learn to be OK with that.  If I don’t get this pain out, it will just get worse.

I feel drained and wrung out, but hopeful.  I’ll take the hope and cling to it.

Tomorrow is a big day.  At least for me.  My wife will be meeting with my therapist for the first time.  My therapist is a “Certified Sex Addiction Specialists (CSATS) through Dr. Patrick Carnes”, meaning he understands and treats both sides of the problem.

I don’t know what to expect.  Part of me what’s my wife to see how serious things are and push a little harder on her depression and recovery.  Part of me wants to move toward formal discussion, not so much disclosure, but talking about my hurt via a pain list.  Part of me simply wants an arena to have couples discussion in a structured way.  

Who knows what’s going to happen?  Perhaps my wife will feel attacked and move away.  We agree that we need to find a way forward, but aren’t sure exactly how.

Feelign good that I’m not obsessing over things.  Keeping busy is helpful, but the drive over to the office tomorrow morning will be tense.  But tense is OK, it’s a difficult thing we are doing.

This is just rambling now.  Time to go have some lunch.

Last night I told my wife that I had been feeling bad all weekend and that I was finally feeling better about things.  She says she knew.  She asked what changed.  I told her maybe it was just writing it all down or that maybe it was just being distracted by work, but that everything didn’t feel so huge.

The rest of the night she was pretty distant, and this morning especially so.  I feeling pretty hurt when I left for work.  I started to think about how I might talk to her tonight when I got home .  All the gears and wheels and possibilities got rolling.  And then I said no.  No, I’m not going to spend another day in this kind of limbo.   

I pulled over the car and texted her.  I simply said, “I’m feeling hurt, let me know if we can talk”  She called back in a couple of minutes.  

I told her that I was feeling hurt and that she was angry with me.  She said she wasn’t angry with me, but that the distance between us is tough.  We talked for about ten minutes about various things, from her depression, to her seeing me do things to get a reaction out of her, to what we can do.  She feels like she’s being judged all the time and that I’m angry with her.  I told her, that yes, I still am angry about things, but that I’m not judging her, that they are two different things.  We agreed that the problem between is hurting us both, but don’t have a fix.

The talk doesn’t solve anything.  No decisions were made.  But we did talk, openly and honestly about our feelings.  I’ll take that for now.  Talking is better than silence.

Since last Friday, I’ve been having a hard time.   I looked in on the pain I have stored up and and I can’t get it out of my head or even back behind it’s wall.

My wife and I went out to dinner on Friday and she asked me how my session was.  I almost broke into tears then, on the way to dinner.  I told her I needed to since I was starving and not in a great mood.

We talked about various things during dinner, but on the short drive home I started to talk.  I explained about what happened and how I was feeling all this pain and that at some point I had to get it all out.  My wife asked what I had to get out.  I told her that I had a lot of pain and anger stored up, and that a lot of it was toward her.  By this time, we were in the driveway and I was crying, not able to stop.  She said, “You can yell at me if you want, I can take it.”  I could feel that she was honest and almost that she was expecting this to happen.  I told her I wasn’t ready and but sometime we have to get through it.

At that point I really couldn’t talk any more and just cried.  I think I must have been there for 5 minutes just weeping for 5 minutes with her rubbing my back as we sat in the car.  

We finally went inside and I walked to the bathroom to wash my face, and ended up crying even more there.  

I guess my pain does need to get out.  But I don’t know how in a way I’m OK with.  On one hand I did feel that she had real empathy with me that I was truly hurting and was open to a painful discussion, but I felt so un-manly crying in a car, completely out of control.

The rest of the weekend was hard.  My emotions were raw, and I couldn’t keep my hurt out of my mind.  I was snapping at the kids for little things and on the brink of tears all the time.  My wife kept her distance from me.  I can tell that she’s afraid to either set me off by talking and doesn’t know what to do, so she’s detaching emotionally.

Mother’s Day was OK and I think my mom and her had a good time.  But I was feeling worn out the whole day just wanting to get home.

The codependent part of me keeps pushing to drop a drama or emotional bomb to get her to interact with me and get back to that moment of empathy we had when I was in the car.  That part wants me to break down in front of her again, not for any other reason than to get her sympathy.  I resist.

This morning, I’m at work.  Trying focus on something else, but instead find myself writing here.  Hopefully typing this out will let me have some peace.

Missed the S-Anon meeting again.  I got home yesterday and was planning to go.  But I was pretty keyed up from the week and arrived to find my wife in a bad, non-communicative mood.  I felt the weight of obligations, to make my wife happy, to see the ladies at the meeting, to everything and began to stress even more.   I decided to go out and do my exercise, something just for myself.  I’m glad I did, but still don’t feel a lot better.

It took me a bit to figure out what was bothering me so much, but I got down to the core of it.  My therapist had suggested that he should probably meet with my wife to help my progress.  I had mentioned this to my wife over the weekend and she said she’d do it.  No drama.  We were having a good talk, both being open and vulnerable about how we were feeling.  She opened up a lot and it was good to talk to her without her walls being up.

Early in the week, I checked in with her about going to see my therapist this week.  She pushed back, and started to retract from her commitment to go.  Hurt, I simply said, “It’s your call, but it would help me if you went.” and left it at that.   Probably from that moment the tension got rolling.  She got more distant and I started to feel more and more resentment about a whole host of issues.  The frustration of not being able to shut my mind off ramped up quickly.

I tried to stick to plan and not try to trick or control her into doing things.  As much as that sucked, I didn’t want to revert to old behaviors.

This morning I asked if she was planning to go today with me.  Her answer shot out of her like a cannon, and I knew instantly she had been thinking about it a lot.  She said should couldn’t go today, but that she would go next week.   I was relieved and told her thanks.

After that, it was like the tension between us emptied out like a balloon.  She was talkative and engaged the rest of the morning.  It seems like wanted to get past this too, but simply didn’t know how.

So that’s a good thing.

The bad thing is coming to grips with something else.  This week my feelings of hurt and pain were creeping around the wall I keep them behind.  Ever the stoic soldier, I try to keep my pain away from plain view.  It’s simply too big.  The little pain of the day to day and my fear of letting my wife know how much I’ve been hurt will drive her even further away.

But the pain is there.  And it’s leaking out the edges.

My therapist talked to me about this and says I have to get it out somehow and I can’t sustain this.  I know he’s right.  But even as I type this, I’m overwhelmed by it.    When I talk to him about getting to couples therapy, I talk about it saying “there are things that need to be said”.  Meaning at some point I will have to confront my wife about what she’s done and the impact.

I know many partners of sex addicts get very angry and confront them regularly, but that’s not me.  In fact, I’ve never said how terribly I hurt to her.  I get too caught up in solving problems and making things better rather than being true to myself and allowing myself some feelings.

My wife is a good woman, but she has done some bad and hurtful things.  As strange as it sounds, I need to really come to grips with that and be willing to say it to her.   I have to stop being afraid to put some pressure on her to move forward in our relationship.  

I know this in my head, but in my heart I am scared to death.  But the wall is going to fall sooner or later.  Better a controlled demolition than an unexpected catastrophe.

Damn this sucks.