Grief & Joy

One of the most unfair things (damn there are a lot to choose from, hence me saying one of the most…) about moving forward with a cheater/liar/sex addict in true recovery is the difference in our worlds of healing. 

The Player gets more joy. In fact, he has stated several times in recent weeks he has never been so happy in his life. 

I get to process grief and pain. I have never felt such pain in my life. 

The Player gets to celebrate freedom from a life shame and secrecy. 

I get to figure out how to live without shame and the knowledge that the person I trusted most put my emotional and physical well being at risk. 

The Player gets to feel pride and accomplishment at his progress, growth, and newfound insightfulness. 

I get to figure out how to end my suffering, accept what he’s done  so I can move on and heal and let’s not forget, to keep the family together. 

The Player feels better about his life. 

I feel worse about my life. 

The Player points out that now though, I get to have a partner who “is happy and more engaged with life.”

Well, okay then. I feel so much better. 

Why He Did It More

So, last I left you with a vision on the home life of The Player. Like I said, the parents took very good care of The Player. They provided nicely and weren’t abusive by today’s standards. People would even say he was raised well.

There was, I believe, resentment against him by his father probably for the love and attention his mother bestowed on him. It’s one of the reasons he wasn’t called by his family name but by a name that was his father’s favorite hunting dog. Never the mind that the dog happened to also be a gift given by the father’s last girlfriend before he married The Player’s mother.

I bet you’re thinking, “Hey Played, WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SAY? Did you say The Player was named after his father’s favorite hunting dog given to him by his last girlfriend before marriage?” I would say yes, yes he was. So as The Player has relayed this story over the years, it’s been with laughs much to my horrified looks.

So, let’s recap. The Player was the last surprise child born to an older couple and youngest of an all sister family. Dotted on by his mother, treated a little more than a field hand by his father, not given a bedroom growing up in a large house with enough space for a bedroom for their only son. When given private space at probably age 14 it was like a prison cell. Named after his father’s favorite hunting dog, he grew up equating Providing with Love.

There are a few key phrases his parents said that The Player has repeated all these years and one is “If you don’t do ______, you’ll grow up to pump gas at a gas station.” His parents also never supported any sporting endeavors. If The Player could figure out how to go to and from practice several miles away, then he could play whatever sport he wanted. When he did, they didn’t come to any games. None. Nada.

I would talk about these things, the dog naming, the lack of support for activities, and no bedroom as a child when there was plenty of room and he would say, “I knew they loved me, that’s all that matters.” He was so closed off to the possibility of these things impacting him negatively he never connected his lack of confidence (that he tried to never show or even feel) to how he was raised.

When he was through college that they paid for in full – remember, Provider = Love, he moved to the city nearby to begin a career. Over the 10 or so years he lived in the city his parents didn’t visit him once. Not once. They visited his sister who lived in the same city, less than 10 miles from The Player, but not him. He would tell you they were a close family back then, celebrating all of the holidays together and birthdays. He’d always travel home instead of the other way around. Imagine The Players surprise (and hurt) when we ran into his parents at a local mall with his sister during the holidays.

So, you can see the resentment building.

When The Player made investments they would often tell him it was wrong. They wanted him to invest in the security of a bank, just like his father. They wanted him to tuck away his money for safety instead of look at aggressive investments or property. Luckily he didn’t follow their “advice” because he has been successful in those endeavors. As an example, he and his sisters ended up with an inheritance of about $100,000 each in shares of a bank and he immediately transferred the money to a trading account with our financial planner. He was ridiculed for making that choice. Much to our satisfaction (and we felt bad too), the bank stock went down and the stock was worthless three months later. Validation.

There’s more in there, like the time his teacher in 8 or 9th grade, in front of everyone in class, said he needed to learn how to read, that he was horrible at it. When he was a teenager, crushing on a girl, she knew it and told him he should try to ask So and So out because they might go out with him, that he could get that girl and not her. When he was in college he was a bit of a player and it’s when he had his first success with attracting women and having them pine after him. He especially loved it when there were other men involved with the women that he would “win” over. By then the fun was over and he’d move on to the next woman. This cycle of fun (and making him feel confident) in getting the woman and having her dangle there for him in the future began in college. It continued through our marriage, obviously. It was covered in a cloak of “friends” just like during our marriage. He just left out – or maybe didn’t even realize it – that he was getting fed by these women with attention.

The sex he had with them was just a by product to get and keep the attention from them. Sometimes it was to keep them interested, sometimes because he felt he couldn’t back out after they got to a certain point towards sex for fear of what they would think of him and most importantly, for fear they would lose interest in him, he kept doing it. There are also those times he couldn’t perform, so he felt he had to have sex with them to show them he could. I know this because he didn’t have sex each time they could have because just seeing them and having their attention and focus was enough. In fact, most of the sex with these women happened in the last 7 years before dday and the sex relationships had started to overlap. In a few cases the sex fizzled out but he remained friends with them with the same flirting intensity because for him the attention was the drug. Hence the reason Sex and Love Addict Anonymous speaks to him for his journey.

It’s also why I had heard of and met many of these women, because they were “friends.” I’ve met several of them, the ones he fucked and the ones that were in the queue to maybe, hopefully be fucked, or at least to feed the attention he “needed.” It’s why he’s ended a few “friendships” he originally said were not a risk to him and his sexual sobriety.

He had some fucking brokenness during this time and now as he analyzes his life and his choices. When I think of how he became like his is, I have compassion, like I would for any human because shit, that a lot of what happened to him is really sad. Then I think, what an asshole who was also bold as fuck mutherfucker.

 

 

Why He Did It

I’m fairly certain we’ve spent the better part of $25,000 for The Player to answer this question. It’s pretty insightful actually and it’s been some hard work for The Player to dig and find the reasons he did what he did. You know what fucking sucks about this though? I knew it was these reasons all along but you can’t tell someone why they are fucked up (no matter how hard one tries) and have it mean anything to them. They have to go through their own pain and path for them to get it and have their own insightfulness to the why and how.

Before I continue, let me tell you that I believe him. There’s some fucked up bullshit that was in his head. It was stuck there. There were dick things done to him. These things stayed with him and changed him into a scared, self-worthless, unconfident, and validation-seeking person on this inside, while he projected the opposite to me. These fucked up bullshit reasons are at the core of his sex addiction. They lie with his bad judgement, his lack of understanding and wanting to understand. They lie with his unwillingness to change a long time ago and with his setting aside his morals and character to shove down his own pain and self perceived inadequacies so he could just feel better.

I will also tell you that while I am compassionate about what he had to go through, sometimes I think, “Really? That’s the reason you fucked around on me for two decades? That’s the reason you broke your vow and shattered me and our relationship? Our family?”  Then I think something about him being a dick and a stupid mutherfucker, then I think I don’t have as much compassion as I thought I did. Then I realize I do have compassion and grace and if I didn’t I sure as hell wouldn’t have stayed this long to see the transformation he is going through.

He grew up in a what looked like a typical family. Hard working, community-driven father with sisters. They lived in a rural area where dad was a town leader. Dad provided for his family well, had good savings, land, and paid for all the kids to attend college. They were a church going family all of The Player’s life. There were Sundays it would only be he and his father and the preacher singing acapello. At one time he considered going into the ministry, which makes me laugh honestly because, yeah, being a sex addict would have gone over well with his bosses. Also, his youth minster at the time told him, “No, this isn’t for you, go do something else.”

His mother doted on her only son. He was a surprise baby thinking she was too old at 42 and told she could have no other children. She welcomed him into the family because all points of attention and affection from The Player’s father was given to the girls in the family. To me, that is when Dad’s resentment of The Player’s and his mother’s close relationship started. Dad didn’t treat mom so great, often joking about her weight, her being not so bright, not a good cook, but you know, in a playful, “loving” manner, that no one ever questioned it. Saying something and questioning a husband’s behavior just not what you did in the 50s and 60s. You just didn’t question your parents – especially your father – about his behavior, which now The Player sees as abusive.

The Player wasn’t treated with an equal amount of affection as the daughters. He didn’t have a bedroom in their comfortable home with plenty of bedrooms if a couple of sisters doubled up, so he had a twin mattress in the family room. When he was in his early teens he was “gifted” a cinder block storage room off the family room that was about 5 feet by 8 feet, that looked a lot more like a prison cell, holding only a twin bed and a small dresser, than a growing young man’s bedroom. Even as his sisters got married or went to college, he remained in the cinder block bedroom, the girls’ rooms remaining shrines to them in case they returned home. The Player’s room remained in the cinder block prison even as empty bedrooms remained in the home.

That was a story he shared early on in my dating him and very much to my stunned and horrified look. He explained it was just how it was, and through the years has said, “I know my father loved me even though he didn’t tell me. He provided for me.” I knew The Player equated “provide” with “love.” When I explained to him that wasn’t normal and that I felt that could cause pain and resentment and he’d probably benefit from therapy to work that shit out, he always made an excuse about how that was just how you were raised in the country, how it didn’t impact him because “I know my father loved me,” and even back 25 years ago to my aforementioned horrified look, not wanting to face the pain of a father who couldn’t show his son the kind of love he needed. The Player spoke of the rough life his father had, basically being born to work in the fields, he reasoned that his father was better than his father and did the best he could.

The mother did her best to even out the unfairness by the doting, by cooking The Player’s favorite things, by showing affection towards him. The Player can be kind and caring because of his mother, thank god for her. The more his mother tried to make right the unbalance, the more The Player was treated like he was property by his father. To be fair, that is how the father’s father treated him, but a good dose of field worker treatment towards his son.

All of these things, I knew must have impacted The Player. After a while I gave up trying to get him to deal with these issues because he buried the pain so deep. I knew this. But you really can’t make someone deal with their childhood pain. Having been through a lot of therapy with my family and alone in my early 20s, I knew this had an impact on him. But he was so very good at hiding the pain and suffering he was feeling, just burying it not realizing all of this played into him seeking th e admiration and affection from other women and setting him up for sex and “love” addiction and me up from the worst trauma of my life.

Sadly, this is just the introduction into The Players’ “Why He Did It” manifesto. Next, I’ll tell you about the time he was named after a dog by his father.

 

 

Progress?

Is progress really just not having flashes any longer of a woman and your husband kissing in an elevator on the way up to his hotel room right after he tells you goodnight and he loves you on a business trip?

Maybe progress is your cheating, lying, sex and “love” addict husband passing his second polygraph in a row! Well, to be fair, it was only his second polygraph of two so, I guess we could say he’s passed them all!

I guess progress could be not feeling traumatized any longer by the disclosure and months after that you kept learning one awful and more awful thing.

I have made significant progress. I don’t connect it to him. I’ve been in some form of self care for two years and in many instances I’ve done several things at a time. I feel like hypnosis brought it all together and peace washed over me.

The Player has made significant, real progress and I’m happy for him. Finally, I think, he’s turned the corner and the insightfulness is oozing out of him. We’ve talked about that a lot because it’s his way of showing he’s changing and growing (in absence of working 12 step) because he knows measurements are important to me. He went on new medication for depression and it’s like the light turned on. Since September he’s been able to work on very hard issues and keep his head up instead of spiraling into darkness.

He’s recently said even though he was trying to work on the marriage last year, he realizes now that he was doing it without really understanding why he is the way he is, that he was trying to have a new marriage with the old him. 

His inability to deal with my pain was why I would pull back all the time and he’d pull me back in out of fear of losing me. Over the last several weeks we’ve made a lot of progress because of his hard work and my willingness to listen. I’ve been willing to listen because I’m past the trauma. I’m no where near healed and our marriage sure as fuck isn’t, but we’re moving in the right direction. For now. I guess. 

So. Progress. I’m all “meh, whatever,” which is odd, right? Or maybe this is it. The new normal. 

Nothing says love like…

a (former) cheater’s polygraph during the month of Valentine’s Day, am I right? Good thing I don’t give a shit about that day anymore. A damn trickle truth – a very large one – came out on that day with great gusto.

At the end of the year we had a great therapy session with The Player’s CSAT. Very good. My hypnosis had worked, The Player had made a lot of progress with connecting the fucked up dots from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and why he sought sick, surface relationships with broken women, or “vaginas” as is my current term. Don’t worry, I’m equal opportunity, I’ve called him a dick many, many times. I can even say it cute, when we’re joking around, The Player might say, “I have to go to the store to get some milk and bread.” I will say, “Well don’t be a dick!”

We’re adorable aren’t we? It’s a coping mechanism we’ve used through the years and it works for us. Our CSAT has remarked about it several times. We think the dry/dark humor banter makes him uncomfortable but he respects it too, because we have a way of dealing with hard shit but then using our humor for each other and ourselves.

Anyway, we had a great session. It was toward the end of December that I felt noticeably better about moving forward and letting go of some of the trauma. It was a great way to end the year. We had plans to stay in a cook an wonderful meal and just be together as a family. We got something on the menu that each of us and each of the kids liked and we were set to play games and watch a ball drop somewhere and just be together.

 

He said something, I remembered something, I asked about him telling a lie, he immediately admitted he did lie and confessed another one. They are what I used to consider a “white lie” but no longer. Every lie is suspect for covering an addict or asshole behavior. I was pissed. I said, “This is how it’s going to be isn’t it? There will always be something for me to find out, something for you to reveal!”

Because he had recently signed a boundaries agreement between us, and it had clear consequences outlined, I feel I have to move forward with a polygraph. I don’t even care to do it. I believe him in where he is right now in recovery, but if I don’t do this I really feel like I’d be sending the wrong message. After midnight I said I didn’t want these to stop us from progressing.

So, I spoke with our polygrapher (fuck I can’t believe I am typing those words and I still can’t believe this is my life) and we have the questions ready. The Player said he was happy to do this to prove the truth, and hopes his willingness to do this shows me his sincerity in what he wants and that is to create a new life with me.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! Nothing says love like a passed polygraph.

Another White Chip

In SLAA I guess whenever a sex addict realizes another behavior that they want to extinguish they can pick up a Day One white chip for that behavior and add it to their bottom line. That’s the thing about AA vs. SLAA, you can always be adding things to the bottom line as you identify problematic behavior you once saw as, “no big deal.”

The Player recently picked up a(nother) white chip because there was a woman at the SLAA meeting he was at and he learned something about himself when she spoke of her situation. I guess she was the only woman and when that happens they do small groups and she has to go with one of the groups, and it was The Player’s group. Early on he avoided women at the meetings and even went to men-only meetings.

Know what? I feel a little bit like women being at SLAA/SA/SAA meetings is like having an alcoholic anonymous meeting at a bar, but he assures me that women are fucked up just like he is and looking to recover and it’s not like a dating club. While he didn’t attend meetings with women early on or would just leave if a female was picked for his group, he’s “fine” with them being in the meetings and small groups every once in a while now. It doesn’t happen often that there is only one female, but did the day he picked up this chip. He picked it up because she mentioned something.

She talked about the inappropriate flirting she does with all men and how she wasn’t able to stop it with her boss, who was married (she was not). She said she lightly mentioned maybe they should tone it down and it’s like he turned it up a notch. She said it was hard because she doesn’t want to behave like this anymore and she was starting to try to avoid him and told of probably needing to find another job because it was so uncomfortable now.

The Player realized he did that with all of the women who have worked and do work for him. They would be inappropriate with each other back and forth. In fact, over the years I’ve mentioned he shouldn’t do that with them and he always played off like it wasn’t a big deal and called it “harmless,” and said that he “could tell if they were uncomfortable and they weren’t.” When this SLAA attendee told of her situation The Player said a light bulb went off and he decided it was completely unacceptable and made him wonder how many women felt pressured to flirt back because he was their boss. He’d venture to say a lot of them. He felt badly about his behavior with these women.

The same week as the boss/employee “flirting” realization he called me from the office and told me that on at least three occasions he had clear thoughts of something inappropriate he would have said if he were still doing those behaviors. He said, “Now that I’m conscious and thinking about what I say, I notice how many times just in one day I did it, even with women in passing, women I didn’t even know!”

If he’s playing me about this I’d be surprised. Well, that’s not true, I wouldn’t be surprised surprised because I’m not as fucking clueless as I used to be. But for this, I do think he is sincere. I guess he is making progress.

Huh.

I’m all, “Good for you!” except with zero enthusiasm and more exhaustion and not any exclamation points and possibly a double eye roll.

I guess this is what moving on looks like. For now.

PS I’ve recently decided even with acceptance – and I have a fair amount of that right now –  I can still fucking question the validity of sex addiction being a real thing. What can I say? I’m hardheaded.