A “How are you?” Text and Book Devouring

It was a simple text, innocent enough. A very good friend was checking in with me to see how I was. Nearly all of my good circles of friends know what has happened to me. I felt it was important for their support. Especially after I found out the cheating was for the entirety of our marriage. I think before then I was able to keep it more contained, but given that the risk was going up for the end of my marriage, I really needed to make sure I was surrounded by people who love me.

I am so glad I did. There was one friend that couldn’t get past the first round of revelations and so she doesn’t know anymore, which is fine. I needed people who would support me staying or going. I have that and because my circle includes a lot of friends, I really to get support in some form daily. I’m extremely lucky. I love that they love me enough to keep tabs on me.

Anyway, back to the text. I received this text at just the right time, right place. I was in bed, The Player was asleep and I was reading a new sex addict book (rather good, actually) and really taking in a few things from the book that are really scary and really sad. The Player, while working on himself, isn’t even close to being where I need him to be for me and our marriage. There’s a phase the writer talks about that includes denial and resistance and all of the signs point to The Player. He’s got some serious denial about what true recovery is going to take and he has resistance to the process of successful recovery as outlined nearly everywhere for sex addicts.

I think in the last two days as I was reading it just hit me. It hit me I’m going to have to accept the fact that we are not working on us, we are existing and “we” are waiting for recovery to really kick in. I believe he has been faithful in all the ways we agreed upon beginning post no contact with last AP and pre full disclosure. I agree he is doing everything at his capacity. I just don’t think it matches up with what I need and before I couldn’t answer why. Now I can.

The writer says there are four phases:

  • Survival Phase
  • Stability Phase
  • Sustaining Phase
  • Freedom Phase

These phases laid out in the book are the shortest, best explanation of what one needs to do or as a partner expect to see in recovery for (presumed) sex addiction. Short, concise and relevant. In the phases there is a little wiggle room on timing, but if one is using a 12-step, CSAT (certified sex addict therapist), individual counseling, and marriage counseling, this is a good guide. I love that I finally have something that makes sense to me. I’ve been floundering around asking, begging, seeking information about where we are in the process of this and if it makes sense.

I’ve been asking because something has been “off” for me and I couldn’t place my finger on it. Over the recent weeks I’ve said that he isn’t “doing enough,” and not “doing what I need,” but I couldn’t articulate why that was and this book, Stop Sex Addition: Real Hope, True Freedom, gives me concrete points I can make now. It’s such a profound relief, I cried when I read it last night. The Player was sleeping right next to me.

It is also extremely sad because it shows me we are really so very far away from truly reconciling. I had somehow pictured the 2-5 years our CSAT talks about as being one giant process and I hadn’t considered there were little, measurable steps to judge his and our recovery. Now that I have that, I actually have less hope it can happen in totality. I say that because The Player is working very hard, but I don’t know if that will be enough, based on the book’s phases and requirements.

For example, the book outlines each thing that should transpire in each of the phases (roughly) by listing the “Hallmarks of Quality Recovery.” Just to name a few, The Player should have a “circle of 5” friends in recovery and reaching out to at least two per week and daily if needed, weekly contact with his sponsor, actively working the steps of recovery, attending two 12-step meetings a week and he will have fully disclosed (he hasn’t totally although I know and feel comfortable I know the body count of vaginas and behaviors through polygraph). These things are not happening.

The Player is essentially making up his own recovery plan and because of that I do not feel safe in this marriage as it stands. The more I read, the more I learn that detaching from him is the best thing to do. I’ve been detaching but not in all areas and I think I may start going towards that direction.

I am not ready to say this marriage is over because of our children and importantly, he has stopped acting out. I am hoping that as long as he isn’t acting out and he is doing something toward recovery (albeit slow) he can remain in the home. I am not willing to blow up my kids’ world on the situation as it stands. I am however, willing to pull back more than I already am and even though there isn’t much to pull back, what I do have to detach from is pretty significant.

If I do, I’ll have to quit going to therapy with The Player. I’ll have to quit our weekly talks in lieu of weekly 10 minute sex addict check-ins (where is he in his recovery and if there have been slips/relapses). The biggest and hardest thing for me to let go will be expectations. I’ll have to let go completely that he’ll ever progress to a point to have true empathy for me and take in truly what he has done to me and us and heal our marriage.

My big fear is that I am going to detach myself right out of this marriage being of quality and to becoming super friendly co-parents and roommates for the kids.

I can’t write about this anymore today.

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2 thoughts on “A “How are you?” Text and Book Devouring

  1. Wow, first, I have not heard of that book. I’m going to order it. I have stopped reading SA books for a while because it is so overwhelming. I read a lot last year and then realized the only work I could really do was for myself, but maybe it is time to intersperse another sex addiction book in with my other (less serious) reading. The trauma therapist got me to a place last year where I could leave if I needed to, for my own health and safety. It was a long and hard fought process for me. I felt like divorcing from my husband was losing some battle or contest. Sure, I love him, I have loved him for 30+ years, but could I continue to live with him if he didn’t recover? It took months and a lot of effort on the part of that therapist to get me to say “no.” I was willing to sacrifice my own health and happiness for my husband. That is insane! Our children are grown. They are not dependent on me, they are both boys, and they both know about their father, so staying for the kids does not factor into my story. Even my 22 year-old at the time was more mature than I could be. He told me, “Mommy, take care of yourself, leave if you have to.” It still makes me cry typing this. I know my husband has not acted out with another woman for nearly two years. I know he has been sober from masturbation and porn for over 16 months. But that actual acting out, is the least of my worries. I just said in couple’s therapy last week that I still do not think my husband actually understands what addiction really is, what it does to him on a daily basis, how it controls him and has controlled him for 40+ years (since long before I knew him). That is scary. I have no idea what “detaching” is, but we are now, 15 months post dday, finally practicing a prescribed period of celibacy (and I am going to say, I hate it!). My husband has been sick the entire week since we began the celibacy period. He is unstable, emotionally drained, physically falling apart. He is working his fourth step. He has a sponsor who has been down this road before with many men and who is nine years sober. Having a really good SA group and seasoned sponsor really helps the process. Seeing other guys still acting out, helps the process. It helps them remember how shitty they felt when they acted out and they had to orchestrate elaborate lies to keep everything going. Denial and rationalization will be their best friend until they really figure this out. They have to really want it, and really work hard every day. It is heartbreaking for those of us who see it all much more clearly to stand by and watch. I have known alcoholics and drug addicts. Addition is a bitch. Sex addicts seem to think they are different. They think they have control just because they are not acting out, but the acting out is A symptom (one of many), not the cause. Anyway, I feel your pain because it is my constant pain. The standing by and watching and waiting after having been betrayed, is agony. We will go to our couple’s therapy this afternoon (she’s a CSAT, too) and she will ask my husband if he has reached out to his “circle of 5” and he will say no and she will have the same exasperated look she always has. At least we can tell her we have been celibate for 8 days. Fuck it! The whole thing sucks. I wish you all kinds of strength and self care and I really really mean it.

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    • I’ve read all the books and this one is far superior in tactical/practical tips about what WE partners should be expecting. It also is a good roadmap for addicts. It kind of brings everything I’ve read together into a concise handbook, if you will.

      I feel your pain too. The Player hasn’t even passed the first step and he’s been attending meetings for nearly 6 months. Speaks rarely to his “sponsor” and while has created a list of people he COULD call, he doesn’t. It’s so clear to me now that I’m ready to look at it. I guess I just wasn’t ready and I was hoping real recover would kick in. Sad to say it hasn’t and I’m not sure it will. I think he has every intention of trying to truly reconcile, but I think he is on his own recovery plan, which isn’t what I need.

      He’s so broken, I’m so sad.

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