Back in January we started a blog series which focussed on the partner of a sex addict. We covered many different aspects of the partner’s journey from discovery, management of self-care, understanding emotional triggers and setting personal boundaries through to thinking about the relationship – do you leave or stay and rebuild?
We wanted to finish the blog series with two real-life testimonies from partners who have walked the painful path. We hope the testimonies will give you encouragement that the thoughts, feelings and reactions you are experiencing are normal. We also wanted to give you hope that relationships can mend after the discovery of sex addiction or porn addiction. Please find below the first testimony. Our second testimony will follow next week. At the bottom of the blog is a link to some further help for partners.
It has been 5 years; I had a knock at the door from a lady from HMRC. She told me that she had come to assess the assets in our house after a long line of unpaid tax debt from my husband. As the day unfolded, the story that my husband put forward made less and less sense, and by the early hours of the following morning, I turned to his emails to desperately try to make sense of the fact that we were close to losing our home. It was there that I saw the first email about booking an appointment with two sex workers.
Over the next few weeks, I felt as though someone had unzipped my world and I was watching it fall apart around me. I felt completely out of control! I did not trust that anything was as it seemed anymore. My husband drip fed me a disclosure. Just when I thought I had found out all there was to know, I would discover something else. “That’s everything” he would say, there was always more. This felt incredibly cruel to me.
I felt shock, disgust, shame and horror both at him and myself; how could I not have known about this! I had been planning our babies first birthday one minute and then sat in a sexual health clinic the next. I think one of hardest thing for me to process was the grief. The loss of the husband I thought I knew and a feeling of losing who I was.
So how did I move forward? Well, my husband agreed to attend a rehabilitation programme as well as receive individual therapy with a trained sex addiction counsellor. We also attended couple counselling. The day my husband packed his bags to go into rehab, I remember feeling intense fear but also a sense of relief. I had been so swept away with the addiction that I was becoming more and more unwell. In a traumatised state of fear, I was trying to control the addiction. I became a detective and my husband’s personal rescuer! It was my personal one to one therapy with a Laurel Centre therapist that helped me realise two vital things; 1 - I did not cause the addiction and 2 - I could not control it. I had to learn to let go and take care of my own journey of recovery. The hardest part of recovery for me was looking in on myself. In order to empower myself I had to open a closet of childhood trauma and dysfunctional relational problems. By looking at my past, allowed me to find the control over my own feelings and gain the tools I needed to recover. I realised that the only person I had any control of rescuing was myself!
We gradually started to break down layers of defences in our relationship, we have become aware and respectful of our individual triggers. We have now found healthier ways to communicate our pain. The biggest issue that we both had was our fears. In facing the things that are holding us back, we are now able to communicate our fears and our needs to each other in a way that allows us to have a truly emotional and physically intimate relationship. And the best part is that we can now model these to our child and help break any cycles of shame going forward to our future generation.
Through a structured therapeutic list of boundaries that were constructed by us and our therapists, I started to learn to take small leaps of faith to enable me to trust my husband again. But most importantly I began to learn to trust myself.
If I could give you some advice from someone who has walked the path before you….it is this be kind to yourself; you are more than just a partner of a sex addict. Seek the help of a trained sex addiction therapist that really understands addiction and the trauma it causes a partner. Be willing to grow from this and not just stay a victim to it. If you have a desire to hear about details about your partner’s disclosure, do it in the safety of a therapy room if you can. I found that my husband was a professional in the art of denial. Trying to make sense of it was soul destroying and futile. Trying to reason with denial left me feeling crazy and that I was losing my mind. My therapist would gently remind me that recovery is a process, just trust in it one day at a time. It may sound unbelievable at this stage, but you will be ok (with or without your partner) and you may even feel grateful one day from the lessons it brings you.
Click here to find further support for partners of sex addicts and porn addicts