Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier. ~ Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Nothing in my life has rivaled the instantaneous yet seemingly eternal pain of that night. My kids were away at camp when my world fell apart in the dark, previously safe haven of my master bedroom as my then husband revealed “I might be a sex addict”. Nothing would ever be the same.
That night, he admitted to several extramarital partners over the course of our marriage and, with incredible lack of self-awareness or empathy, spun even more lies. Little did I know that more tidbits of truth would eventually come, and each time they would roll over me like a freight train, decimating yet another level of safety, peace, and predictability of my world.
My personal favorite lie from that night is his tale of falling innocently into sex addition at the hands of a wily masseuse. I should have recognized then his uncanny ability to sincerely believe himself to be the victim in this hell he created. I guess when someone has lied to cover deep shameful secrets long enough, lying becomes as natural as breathing.
The problem with his continued lies was that my truth compass had been shattered, so I had no way to get my bearings. With each new lie, he further raped my mind. I no longer trusted anything or any one, least of all myself. If I could fall victim to a man who systematically hid a double life while I raised his children, what else was being done to me without my knowledge?
With each passing month he lightened his own load by revealing more and more sick, illegal, and deviant acts. Needless to say, with each new tidbit of supposed “complete truth”, I sank deeper into the abyss, my reality again shaken. Each time I had tried to grieve and understand, a new level of hell was released upon me.
Eventually, it was as if my brain gave up the fight – I could no longer process any more revelations. It took years to fully grasp and accept the truth of what he had done, though I long ago gave up trying to understand it.
I spent that first year bouncing unpredictably between a complete numbness in which I mechanically went thru the motions, and a pain that enveloped me completely. At night I often lay awake sobbing – sometimes so hard that I vomited – literally groaning in emotional pain. During the day, it was as if I was watching myself walk around with a gaping hole in my chest, struggling to function in a world I no longer trusted.
I lost weight and withdrew into a world of pain, eventually driving away 2 very dear friends as they simply couldn’t watch me come undone. By then, I was using wine to kill the pain and try to sleep, as I’d gone months with little sleep; what sleep I did have was interrupted by nightmares so intense I would wake up screaming.
I felt utterly alone, and without appropriate professional help I was drowning. Not only did I not have any idea how to help myself come up for air, the trauma based life raft had not yet been created for the spouses of sex addicts. I felt completely isolated from anyone, as I could not convey the depth of my despair in a way that could be understood.