My favorite theory of anger is that it arises out of embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability – all of which we have in abundance when we discover our partner’s sex addiction.
I learned to hide the real reason for my divorce after being blamed, dismissed, and even ridiculed. I endured stupid questions and suggestions born of ignorance, and I quickly learned the difference between curiosity and concern.
Even my physical body took a humiliating turn – I lost a lot of weight unintentionally, my hair fell out, and my eyes looked hollow and dead. I seemed weak and appeared to be handling divorce much more poorly than “normal” people – when in reality I was doing exactly as could be expected under such heinous conditions.
I was embarrassed by what I’d become, and felt a deep need to explain who I “used to be” and why I’d become a shadow of my former self.
I was at the mercy of attorneys and judges who, on a whim, would decide my financial future.
My relationships became tenuous, dependent on others’ willingness to ride my unpredictable waves of raw emotion. I feared I’d become a burden so I kept to myself. I had friends self-righteously abandon me because I couldn’t “get over it” on their timetable.
I became very negative. I canceled plans repeatedly. For a long time, I could barely converse – I was so overwhelmed by my own grief that I couldn’t bear anyone else’s seemingly trivial concerns. I felt utterly alone and hopeless that anyone could ever truly understand what I’d been through.
The intense, physical pain in my chest sometimes made me worry I was having a heart attack. When that pain became too intense, my body swooped in and replaced it with a numb gaping hole.
Two years after discovery, I was diagnosed with 4 new and different heart defects and an autoimmune disease. He really did break my heart and damage my body.
That, my friends, is what these men can do to us if the professional help we get is inappropriate or inadequate. I’d love to see a study on the health of sex addicts’ wives in the years after discovery – and the differences in health of those women who stay and those who leave immediately.
That’s to say nothing of the emotional pain.
Am I the only one who feels, at times, that I did this to myself? That I chose him? That I made poor decisions that worsened his addiction? That I failed my children? That chosing him to father my children means that I passed on his genetic personality disorder?
I married because I wanted a partner to share the good and bad in life. I wanted to help carry his load, and he mine.
Instead, I was introduced to the dark underbelly of society. That knowledge became a burden I couldn’t put down, and it destroyed my ability to trust myself and others.
Deep down I know I can never withstand another blow like the one I’ve been dealt. I live with the uncertainty that anyone, at any time, could betray or abandon me again. I detest vulnerability because a bad man took advantage of mine, and used it to control, manipulate, and attempt to destroy me.
Through hard work and (finally!) a fabulous trauma counselor, I’ve learned to open my heart again. I have fewer people in my inner circle, but those allowed in are precious – and my relationships are more emotionally intimate than ever.
This is not a path I’d have chosen for myself or anyone else, but even this path has some strange lessons and gifts along the way. You just have to dig through mountains of shit to find them.