How your soul is affected by the discovery of sex or porn addiction
This is the final blog in a series of three where we have focused on how the mind, body and soul are affected by the news of your partner being addicted to sex and/or porn. This blog will focus on a hidden part of ourselves – our soul – our identity. Discovering your partner has a sex addiction or porn addiction attacks the very core of your being. Your world has been completely turned upside down. This blog will look at the broken pieces of your identity and how to rebuild your sense of self.
If you missed the previous blogs, then you can find these on the Laurel Centre blog page.
- Blog one in the series focused on how the mind is affected by trauma and battling against triggers and negative thoughts.
- Blog two looked at how the body responds to shock, how to deal with difficult feelings and how to keep your body healthy.
Repairing your broken self
“Partners often feel that they have lost the solid ground on which their life was built. Their relationship is not what they thought it was, their spouse feels like a complete stranger, the world is no longer a place they recognise, and even the person in the mirror every morning does not look the same”.
This is a quote from Paula Hall’s book on “The Partner’s Perspective”. This quote sums up the complete devastation that partners often feel. The world that they knew has completely changed. How do you begin to rebuild your self-esteem and sense of who you are?
Finding other sources of comfort
While you grieve for the loss of the partner you thought you had, take time to focus on other areas of your life that can be a source of comfort. Write on a sheet of paper other key areas in your life, such as : friends, family, hobbies and pastimes, employment or voluntary work and personal development. Review these and decide which ones can strengthen you at this time.
It can be tempting to hide away from the world when we are grieving. Isolating ourselves can allow feelings of despair to grow and overwhelm us. Pushing yourself to get out of the house, allows the feelings of despair to subside for a while. Plan time to see friends, book an exercise class or find a support group to share your thoughts and feelings. The key is not to isolate.
Who am I?
It is common for partners of sex addicts to feel like they don’t know themselves anymore. Thoughts such as “why did I not notice?” or “how can I love a sex addict?” start to eat away at their self-esteem and self-identity. One exercise to help reclaim your self-identity, is to draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper. Then draw petals around the edge of the circle to create a flower. Each petal will represent a separate relationship or role that you have e.g. sister, swimmer, dog walker, friend, mother, baker, wife etc. This will help you see that you are not ‘just’ a partner of someone with a sex addiction.
What am I worth?
Our self-esteem will have been damaged by the news of sex addiction and therefore, will take time to repair. One way to help repair our confidence and self-worth is to think about our strengths and abilities. Return to the flower that you drew, look at each petal and write down words to describe the qualities that you bring to each role. E.g. swimmer – fit, strength, friend – loyal, funny, supportive. Identifying these strengths will help restore your self-esteem.
Our sexual self
Being sexual with another person is a very trusting and vulnerable act. You are giving permission for the other person to be close to you in a physical and emotional exchange. Our bodies were designed to connect in a sexual way. When we orgasm, our brains release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin makes us feel close to others and promotes attachment. Sex connects us to the other person on many levels : emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual. Therefore, you can see why the discovery of sex addiction hurts so much. Rebuilding your sexual self is important, whether you stay in the relationship or not. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough space to focus on rebuilding your sexual self in this blog, but we have covered sexual intimacy in a previous blog a few months ago. Please click here if you wish to read. Paula’s books for partners and couples both have chapters on reclaiming sex and sexuality.