“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.

Cognitive Dissonance and the Narcissist/ Sociopath/ Sex Addict

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Now that my kids are adults, he’s shown up again, riding in like a hero on his “great guy” image, denying his actions and sewing confusion anew.

Narcissists (NPD’s) and sociopaths are like that. It’s easy to be the great guy when time is limited to holiday photo ops and lunches. In their wake, however, these personality disordered individuals leave people with the uneasy feeling that something isn’t right.

Most of us readily dismiss that feeling because we like our belief systems to match our reality. When confronted with information that conflicts with our beliefs, values, or ideas, we experience emotional pain called cognitive dissonance.

When the difference between the new information and our beliefs is huge, so is the pain. The greater the pain, the greater the desire to deny the new, disturbing information.

There are only 2 ways to reduce the pain: changing our beliefs (very difficult) or denying the new information (much easier).

No wonder spouses of sex addicts experience such trauma. The truth is directly opposite our supposed reality. It takes intense trauma therapy, and enormous courage, to quiet the war waging in our brains and face the abuses perpetrated against us.

Cognitive dissonance explains why his version of the story – “I cheated once 15 years ago because my wife was such an angry crazy woman” – is much more palatable to his family and our children. Who wants a dad, or a son, or a brother who is a sexually deviant serial cheater?

They’ve never witnessed the deviancy, but have plenty of experience with his carefully crafted false image. Talk about cognitive dissonance!

I won’t ever win by engaging in the war of words, so I have zero contact with him. He will continue to lie/deny and sew confusion wherever he goes, and I will be portrayed as crazy.

He has to have it that way, just in case his worlds collide and any of his victims speak truth to his new prey.

But, all hope is not lost. I have a secret weapon called truth. It always wins, just not on my schedule!

One Shot at Truth

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” ~ Winston Churchill

From talking to dozens of wives of sex addicts, I’ve come to a conclusion: you are likely to get exactly one shot at truth. Even then, you must remember that this “truth” has likely been decorated like a Christmas tree – all shiny and pretty, but underneath all the glitter, the tree is actually dead.

I remember insignificant details from that day; it was midday -cloudy and cool. He wore a blue plaid shirt and a tan jacket. I sat alone on the sofa. He sat across from me on the leather chair I’d purchased with my tiny inheritance from my mom. I worried that if he cried he would stain the chair with his tears, and it made me mad.

I wanted my dad, who had died when I was young, to hold my hand and look this man in the eye. I felt so very small and alone, and would later come to understand that it had been orchestrated that way – there would be no witnesses to his truth.

And so it began. He read, without emotion, a long list of his deviancies, starting from early childhood and cruising thru to the present. I went numb. My head buzzed and I couldn’t move. I didn’t cry; I just sat there. The depth of the betrayal was beyond anything I could imagine – he’d been playing in an underworld I didn’t even know existed, then coming home to perfect his hypocritical role as “Godly man”.

I asked only one question: “How do you find these people/places/things?” to which he replied “I just have to show up.” Those words chill me to this day. He left quickly, taking with him his notes – and leaving behind a traumatized woman with a broken soul and no trace of his having been there.

I instinctively knew I hadn’t gotten the whole truth, but I mistakenly thought I would get another chance. I thought once he opened up, he would continue to be honest. I  was wrong. I also knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, that I was married to a very sick man.

You, too, may only get one shot at truth. Here’s what I wish I’d have done:

  • Have a witness, preferably a counselor trained in PTSD and knowledgable about the damage done to spouses of sex addicts. I could never have imagined that he would spill these truths, then later call me a liar for even saying he was a sex addict. I had no idea he could and would, for years, confuse my children by denying even the simplest of truths.
  • Consider a lie detector test. Remember, these men are gifted liars, and you will need the test administered by someone who knows the word games played by sex addicts. They often use the old Bill Clinton “it depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is” and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” thing.
  • It is his responsibility to tell the children, appropriate to age and with counselor’s help, that he broke the marriage. It’s part of owning what he’s done. If he doesn’t do this in the immediate aftermath of disclosure, don’t expect it ten years later. Ain’t happening. To take this responsibility on yourself is to cast yourself as the whistleblower – and if history has taught us anything, it’s that whistleblowers don’t fare well. I should know, I am one.