Pain and Truth

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 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 – 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.

Welcome to My Safe Place. You are NOT Alone.

It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. ~ Julius Caesar

Like too many men and women in today’s world, I have been crushed under the weight of a spouse’s “sex addiction” and all that entails – from discovery thru divorce and beyond. I don’t promise an orderly walk thru this personal hell, but I do promise it will get uncomfortably real as I let my hard-earned lessons seep out onto these pages.

I refuse to be tossed aside. My story and I have more worth than my ex ever realized or respected. My story begs to be told – both as a warning to those who haven’t yet put this “addiction” on their marital radar, and as a comfort to those who are trapped in their own whirlwind of confusion following discovery.

It is my wish that the betrayed partners who walk this lonely road  might find some courage and hope through my words. Without that, my dark time of intense I-can’t-breathe pain will have been in vain.

Thanks so much for joining my free-flowing journey that endeavors to be gritty, educational, and purposeful.

Note: I will usually use male pronouns for the “sex addict” and female pronouns for the spouse, simply because it’s more natural for me. Please don’t let that discourage you men who are linked to a “sex addict” – the pain, confusion, and damage are just as valid regardless of how society in general may discount your experiences.