Get Over a Narcissistic Sex Addict?

“You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.”

~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler

And so it was when I discovered my husband was a deviant sex addict. I can never be the same. He broke something in my core. I can be repaired, but the scars will remain and reminders will come.

This wasn’t simple betrayal. It wasn’t “just” being lied to. And it surely wasn’t a little secret that “didn’t mean anything, I swear” – to quote my sex addict. It was so much bigger than all that.

At the exact moment of discovery, my life was ripped into two distinct pieces – before and after. As if that weren’t enough, each broken half was then sent thru a truth shredder, leaving me with giant piles of twisted wreckage.

Truths were intermingled with lies to the point that I had no idea who or what to believe anymore. I was trying to understand a situation that cannot be understood by normal people, all while my brain and body mounted a fight against the extraordinary trauma of it all.

At each phase of my now adult children’s lives, I witness their deep pain as they wrestle with an increasingly mature understanding of the truth about their father. One has chosen denial; the other, truth. Both paths have their own special kind of hell that grieves me daily as a mother.

There isn’t any ‘getting over’ what he did to us. The damage was too great. He opened a Pandora’s box that can never be closed. None of us can ever again enjoy the bliss of ignorance about the evils and the sick underworld he forced into our lives.

There is only moving on, rebuilding, and learning to trust the world again. Someday, I hope to no longer have nightmares. I hope to awaken each morning to a sense of joy and purpose rather than dread and remembrance and pain. This is the aftermath of marriage to a sex addict. This is PTSD. This is my life’s work.

 

 

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Angry at a Sex Addict? Damn Right I Am!

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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.

1. Embarrassment:

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.

2. Insecurity:

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 drift away 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.

3. Hurt:

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 a severe 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.

4. Shame:

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?

5. Vulnerability:

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.

Now What?

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.

 

Fatherhood and the Narcissist/Sociopath

As an emotionally vacant sex addict, my ex could not comprehend the magnitude of our children’s physical and emotional needs. Because he traveled for business every week and helped himself to little “distractions” like whores, he had no idea of the constancy of parenthood. Thus, to this day, he believes he was a great and active father.

To which I ask:

–  Did you take them to the orthodontist? pediatrician? school? parent teacher conferences? friend’s  houses? playground? ER? library? grocery store?

Can you tell me what they’re afraid of? their hopes and dreams? what hurts them? their nightmares? their favorite foods? how they react to vaccinations? what fabric softener makes them think of home? their favorites songs?

Did you hold their hair when they puked? teach them how to bake cookies or do laundry? show them how to safely cross the street? teach them to never walk out of the mall alone after dark? support them thru hair mistakes and prom dates?

Did you tell them they were beautiful, inside and out? cherish them? try to lighten their burdens in life? teach them how a real man treats women?

You never knew your kids because you are incapable of knowing another human intimately. You can’t know what wondrous things you missed and you’ll never comprehend the blood, sweat, and tears I poured into those kids – virtually alone in the hell you created.

It takes real balls to show up when they are adults, claim to have been a great father, claim to have only cheated once, and bash the mother who did the heavy lifting alone.

Denying your children’s reality and confusing them with even more lies is  abusive. It’s called gaslighting and it’s causing your children to doubt their own memories, perceptions, and perhaps even their sanity.

You, sir, are a bad man – and you will continue to be a bad man until the day you tell your children the truth. I suspect hell will freeze over first.

 

 

Every. Single. Exact. Word. Matters.

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My ex claims he never lied to me.

First of all, I’m sure that’s just another lie. But …. when he wasn’t actually lying, what he did was MUCH more sinister. It was gaslighting, which is a total mind rape.

Let’s lets look at an example of how this works. In this situation, I’d asked him to see his doctor for a particular medical problem.

  • Me: “Did you see your doctor?”
  • Him: “Yes”
  • Me: “What did he say?”
  • Him: “He said everything’s OK.” 

Innocent enough, yes? Not so fast. You see, I wasn’t specific enough in my questions. I was relying on underlying assumptions, which you can NEVER do with a sex addict.

Let’s re-examine that conversation now that we know how personality disordered people twist the truth.

Me: Did you see your doctor?

To normal people, this means “attend an appointment with” and “for the medical situation we are talking about”. With narcissists, sociopaths, and sex addicts things are often a matter of exact words.

The sex addict will say “yes” if he saw a doctor shopping at Home Depot or if he attended an appointment with any doctor at any time in his life, even thought he knows very well what you are asking.

Me: What did he say?

Again, to a normal person, this assumes we are still talking about the same doctor from our first question. But to a sex addict, “he” could be anyone – from a co-worker to an actor on TV who said, at any time ever, “everything’s OK” .

If you later find out that he did not see the doctor for the specified problem, he will claim – and believe – that he did not lie to you. And if he’s anything like my sex addict, he will then accuse you of poor communication skills because you didn’t play by the “exact words” rule.

Confused? Me, too. This is one tiny example and I’m exhausted.

In the aftermath of discovering his sex addiction, I learned that every conversation had a hidden meaning and that I had to carefully examine every single word he said.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t live that way.

Spouses of Sex Addicts – Good News: we’re all alike!

This is a must-see video by my new favorite, Diane Strickland, MA, of Sisterhood of Support. If you don’t have a lot of time, skip to 6:17 to hear how amazing we are, and why that made us a target for sex addicts. They chose us, we didn’t chose them!

In the video, this is how Diane describes wives of sex addicts:

  • “antithesis of co-dependent”
  • “strong”
  • “incredibly intelligent”
  • “capable”
  • “huge capacity for commitment”
  • “loving”
  • “many interests”
  • “lots of relationships”
  • “successful careers”
  • “good at managing families with passion and creativity”
  • “competent”
  • “independent”
  • “dependable”
  • “honest”
  • “loyal”

I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear that. Diane helped me to remember who I truly am at my core – who I was before being systematically abused by a very sick man for so many years.

It’s pathetic that they chose us for these wonderful characteristics, then spent years tearing us down to keep us confused and off their dirty trail. It takes a very sick person to do that to a woman. Very sick, indeed.

“I Never Lied to You” – and other lies told by sex addicts

With sex addicts, we don’t ever get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Of all the lies told by my sex addicted husband, these have to be my three favorites:

1.  “I never took off my wedding ring”

– has to be right up there in the top three. Let me get this straight: You stuck your penis in innumerable (hundreds?) living things, but I’m to believe you are a great family man because you kept your wedding ring on your finger? How about you keep your penis in your pants? Did that ever occur to you as a better idea?

– did leaving the ring on your finger seriously make your cheating feel less cheat-y?

2.  “I never lied to you”

– my definite all-time favorite. Let me wrap my brain around this: you sincerely believe, to your core, that you never lied because you never said “I screw men and women on the side” (or any other sick variation)? You sincerely believes that living a lie doesn’t count as lying?

-That’s some scary, pathological stuff.

3.  “I love you”

– really? Cause the last time I checked, love doesn’t abuse, lie, cheat, steal, deny, control, manipulate, or screw everything he can get his hands on east of the Mississippi.

– If you think that’s love, I’d hate to see what you do when you hate….. oh wait, I have seen it. I’m living it as you play the victim, blame shift, lie to my children, assassinate my character, and drag me back to court.

The Sex Addict’s Family Photo Album

Nothing is spared the sex addict’s carefully manipulated facade – not even the family photo album. I made him look really good; he made me look really absent.

On holidays he went to bed tired. Alone, I cleaned up from guests and prepped for the morning. In the morning, I wrangled giggling girls while I completed preparations, then grabbed the camcorder and camera. He showed up and I took pictures of him.

On birthdays, I planned parties, bought supplies, wrapped presents, and even bought him costumes to wear. He showed up and I took pictures of him.

When he napped, I lay a baby beside him and took pictures of him.

When we took vacations, I planned and prepped for weeks. He showed up, smiled, and I took pictures of him.

I was more than happy to do all these things and more because I was playing by the “we” rules. As far as I knew, we were a team and he was working hard for the family. I was more than willing to pick up the slack at home and document his “fatherhood” when I could.

There are very few pictures of me with our children. I now understand that he viewed parenthood as a competition. He had no respect for me or for motherhood. Motherhood and household duties were of no value, because he believed they were easy, endless days of leisure and reckless spending.

It no longer surprises me that he didn’t take pictures of me with our children. Why would you take pictures of something that disgusts you?

Only now do I have the luxury of knowing how carefully and patiently he works the canvas to paint a fake life – so I have to wonder if he knew what he was doing. Was the imbalance in the family photo album another skillful manipulation? Or was it simply the accidental result of only one parent being fully present in family life?

Therein lies the hell of life with a sex addict – you never really know what’s real and what’s an illusion. And when you look back on photos, you wonder what else – or who else – he did that day.