How the body is affected following the discovery of sex or porn addiction

The shock of hearing about your partner’s sex addiction and/or porn addiction has a devastating effect on the mind, body and soul.  This is the second blog in a series of three.  The previous blog focused on how the mind is affected by the discovery of porn and sex addiction in the relationship.  This blog will look at how your body reacts to trauma, coping with feelings of anger and rage, as well as keeping your body healthy throughout this period of extreme uncertainty.

Shock and Trauma

Finding out that your partner has a sex and/or porn addiction is traumatic.  When we experience a shock, the brain releases adrenaline.  Adrenaline pumps to our vital organs to give us the energy to either fight or run away.  Once the initial threat has passed, the adrenaline leaves our body.  This can leave our bodies feeling tired.  Unfortunately, tiredness is not the only physical symptom that can be experienced following a shock.  Other symptoms can be:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Feeling sick and having an upset stomach
  • Change in our appetite
  • Feeling shaky or jumpy
  • Walking around in a fog
  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Breathlessness
  • Heart racing

It can take a few weeks for your body to recover from the initial shock.  To help in those early days after discovery we recommend that you find someone that you trust who can listen and support you.  If you can’t think of anyone, then there is the Laurel Centre forum and counsellors who specialise in sex addiction that will understand what you are going through and help you look at what you need.

Anger

Once the shock starts to wear off, other emotions will start to flood in.  Anger and rage being the most dominant.  It is very tempting to vent your rage on the person(s) that have hurt you.  However, it is found that acting out that rage or revenge doesn’t make you feel any better.  It generally makes you feel more miserable and regret what has been said in the heat of the moment.  Here are 3 strategies to letting out your anger in a more constructive way:

Develop an early warning system

Become aware of your body signals that tell you that you are getting angry.  These can be tightness in your chest, shoulders or jaw, clenching your fists or grinding your teeth.  You may be pacing up and down.  Along with these body movements, notice your behaviour, are you slamming doors, huffing, snapping at the children, silently stewing or yelling at slow traffic.  Finally, notice any negative and angry thoughts or conversations that are going around your head.

Let it out

Once you have noticed that your anger is starting to build, it is time to let it out.  This can be done either by talking to a close friend, your counsellor or writing the anger down on paper.  Alternatively doing exercise, such as running or punching a cushion can help release pent up frustration.

Chill out

So, you have had a good rant with a friend, or you have been punching the living daylights out of cushion, now is the time to focus on calming down and reducing your heart rate.  This can be done by listening to calming music, doing a breathing technique, stroking your pet or shaking your body to loosen up your muscles.

Anger can also become internalised.  Instead of directing the anger at your partner, you turn the anger on yourself.  You blame yourself for not seeing this sooner, not trusting your intuition or wondering why you believed all the lies.  This internalised anger can manifest itself in the form of self-harm or even thoughts of suicide.  If you find that you have internalised your anger, please seek help from your GP or another professional.

Sexual health check

If you have discovered that your partner’s addiction involved having sex with other people, then it is advisable to get yourself checked out at a sexual health clinic.  The staff at the clinics are very kind and supportive, as well as another avenue for support.

Maintaining a healthy body

Living with a rollercoaster of emotions is exhausting.  Therefore, it is important to take care of your body as this will help you have the energy to make decisions about your relationship and what you need in the future.  Try and do the following for yourself:

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Maintain a fitness routine
  • Keep to a regular sleep routine
  • Keep seeing friends and maintaining hobbies

For more information on how to take care of yourself mentally and physically, then read Paula Hall’s book “The Partner’s Perspective”. 

Final blog in the series focuses on how your soul / spirit is affected by grief and how to start rebuilding your life.