Quote of the Day


Trust me when I say that I know how it feels to cry in the shower so that no-one can hear you.

And having to wait for everyone to fall asleep so you can fall apart.

For everything to hurt so badly that you can’t see a way out.

I know exactly how it feels.

But I also know that there is always hope and that the tide always turns.

Hang in there, and know that you are not alone.”

– Ella Hicks


Beautiful words.

Take them to heart.

Hold on to hope.

You are not alone.

Betrayal and the Dark Night of the Soul

but somehow the page stayed empty

Learning that you’ve been betrayed by your partner plunges you into a painful cycle of loss and grief.

Often the discovery comes as a shock, and the losses are more than you can even calculate.

– To begin with, you can no longer trust your partner or spouse (as they deliberately deceived you, and lied to your face.)

– Also, you feel you aren’t able to trust yourself (because you didn’t see the signs, and you experienced gaslighting.)

– And there’s the loss of the relationship you thought you had (which now feels like a lie and a fantasy.)

– Plus there’s also the loss of the future you expected, and had planned (as you cannot think ahead; and the whole of life has changed.)

Kubler-Ross and the Grieving Process

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who studied death and dying, has identified five common stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are experienced in betrayal trauma, too.

Note: These stages are experienced a number of times, and are neither discrete nor linear. Also, grief follows its own schedule, is unpredictable, and often hits us unexpectedly.

For example, if betrayal is related to a sexual addiction, you might attempt to reduce the shock by telling yourself that at least your partner didn’t have sex with a real person (This relates to bargaining and denial).

But later you remember that he used webcams, and he paid real women to take off their clothes. Your response to this might be rage and disgust (which could also be equated with experiencing anger).

The next day, you feel too worn out and sad to motivated yourself to do any work (a sure indication that you’re feeling depressed.)

Then, as time goes by, and you start to find out more about the changes in the brain of a sex addict, you might have days when you feel you understand why your partner had succumbed, and done all those awful things. (This is the acceptance stage.)

Note: A crucial point that should be made related to acceptance is this doesn’t mean excusing what your partner has done. It will never be OK – and should never be OK.

Instead, acceptance is more about coming to terms with the fact that reality has changed for you.

It is also about starting to rebuild your life.

This is not possible in the first stages of grief, when time stands still, and you cannot think at all. With acceptance there’s a movement. We feel there’s been a change.

The Reality

The grieving process takes time. A lot of time. It takes much longer than you think it will take. It takes a lot longer than you want it to take. The losses are like tree roots that spread out underground. The roots go down so deep.  They’re extensive and wide.

How to Treat Yourself when you are Grieving

First, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel the pain and sadness. Let the tears flow. Allow yourself to rant and rage. Allow yourself to be antisocial. You’ll also feel exhausted a lot of the time.

And be patient with yourself. Grief and loss are terrible.

But it won’t go on forever. The pain will subside. You’ll emerge from the tunnel, and eventually you’ll feel those positive emotions you cannot picture now.

 

What you Need to Know About a Sexual Addiction

flowers grow back

Sexual addiction is extremely complicated. It’s a powerful addiction and one that’s hard to break. To understand what’s caused it in your partner or spouse, it takes a lot of deep digging with a therapist.

Some underlying issues which have likely played a role include:

1. There’s a significant change in the brain over time. Hence, their neurotransmitters now compel them to engage in the destructive, compulsive addicted behaviors.

2. They had formed a dysfunctional attachment style – first with their parents, and then with their spouse. This caused them to detach and pull back (unconsciously) from relational connection and intimacy.

3. The shame that they experience – because of the addiction – pulls them back into cycle, as they seek for some relief.

4. Unaddressed emotional pain, and sometimes PTSD, has created a drive towards self-sufficiency and a drive to isolate, and put up walls.

As the partner or spouse, it is absolutely crucial you understand your role in their and your recovery.

So, here are some important things you should know.

1. If you feel disconnected in your relationship, there’s a very good chance that your suspicions are real. Don’t ignore or downplay them. It is likely they’re red flags. Your partner might even be gaslighting you. In fact, there are very few addicts who volunteer the truth; they need to be discovered to admit what they have done.

2. It isn’t about you and isn’t your fault. This is easier to accept intellectually than it is to believe on an emotional level. After all, they “chose” us for specific reasons – so if they’re choosing someone else it means we’re lacking in some way. Right? Wrong!

In almost all situations this behaviour began long ago, before you were a couple, and had formed a life together. This is really a connection and an intimacy issue. It isn’t about you – not in any way at all. Don’t take the blame for his choices. Don’t let this define your value. Also, he can only recover if sees things properly, and he willingly accepts full responsibility.

3. We can’t manipulate our partner into choosing faithfulness. There are always ways around accountability devices. And spying or reminding him of how he needs to change will only increase your own anxiety levels. He has to want this for himself. And that’s a scary place to be. But you can take care of yourself – and you can also require that he gets professional help, and is accountable to someone.

4. Treat your feelings with absolute respect. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t downplay them. Don’t ignore them. Don’t repress them. For you owe it to yourself to experience all the pain … and to process all the feelings that the trauma has unleashed. It’s going to be a long, hard slog, and there’s no way to escape it. But self respect begins by honouring all that you have suffered. You’ll also need support, and your story must be heard.

5. Remember you are powerful – though at times you might feel broken. You have the power to enforce boundaries. You can choose to stay or go. And you can also take your time – as you think through all your options. Don’t bow to any pressure. At this moment, you come first.

Let’s Talk About Sex

cheating isn't an accident

Betrayal leads to trauma, and betrayal shatters trust.

And … after the explosion, when the shock wave has moved on, the radioactive fallout still contaminates our lives. We’re talking endless triggers, and PTSD.

And like lingering radiation, these create a serious threat. They taint and disrupt life, and they corrupt relationships.

And this radioactive fallout … it takes ages to disperse.

One area that’s affected – but less openly discussed – is how we view and feel about our sex life afterwards. Betrayal complicates this in so many different ways. For example

  • Usually, sex is viewed as special to our relationship. It’s deeply intimate and meant to represent our love. It’s not an itch you scratch. It’s sacred, and it’s meaningful.
  • It’s meant to be exclusive. A commitment you both made.. You’re not just one of many. It’s only you and him. Also, you likely weren’t told that the parameters had changed.
  • Your sex life should be private. We don’t take off our clothes for anyone who asks us, or wants to be aroused. It’s meant “for your eyes only” – at least that’s what we thought
  • The kinds of things you do and say to turn each other on, to make you each feel wanted, desirable and loved feel sordid, trite and empty once they’ve been shared around.
  • Sex feels like a performance, commodity or act … if he moves on to others because he wants a change. You feel used and discarded – like something he’s outgrown.

Has sex now changed forever? Can we feel desirable? Can we ‘make love’ together, or is just some act? Can sex feel truly special? Can we believe today that sex is an expression of what we mean to him?

Are We There Yet?

trauma shatters our most basic assumptions

One of the awful things about betrayal trauma is it feels like the symptoms just never go away.

They plague you in the night-time and they interrupt your sleep.

Your heart is pounding loudly and you find it hard to breathe.

The sweat is pouring off you and you’re shaking like a leaf.

Your mind and thoughts are screaming – God, I need to find relief.

And that’s just the night terrors.

Days are filled with landmines too.

Who knows what triggers wait us.

There’ll be something, that’s for sure.

Yes, there’s breathing exercises, and some talking therapy.

And there’s always meditation – if you’re able to do that.

At times these can be useful. But recovery is slow.

You’re living in a time warp.

It’s a long and torturous road.

The Knock on Effect of COVID-19

you have no idea how easy it is

I normally write for the spouses and partners of those who struggle with a sex addiction. However, I wanted to highlight a post that was shared this morning by Joshua Shea recoveringpornaddict.com  It’s very realistic and practical.

Usually, an addiction first takes hold when we’re bored, at a loose end, when we’re feeling a bit down, or when we’re anxious about things. Hence, we’re looking for distractions that will help us pass the time … maybe lift our mood a bit … and take the edge off feeling blah.

So, with continents of people stuck at home and out of work, away from their routine, and cut off from all their friends, it is likely that more people will use pornography. I think we must accept that this will likely be the case. And it means a lot more people will become addicted, too.

Also, this doesn’t bode so well for people fighting the addiction. They’re in their homes alone, with powerful triggers everywhere. This is going to make the struggle very difficult for them.

Perhaps there’s little we can do. This situation is unique. But we need to be aware of the real dangers that exist. If you’re partner’s been addicted maybe talk this through with them. It’s much better to be honest and face this thing head on. It could make all the difference to your relationship.

Quote of the Day

I learned not to trust

Claire’s married to her sweetheart. They had met when they were students. They dated for eight years before they chose to tie the knot. Then they built a life together full of love and happy memories. A marriage made in heaven; all their friends were envious.

But then a few weird payments, and some unexpected voicemails, revealed another life – a life she knew nothing about. A life of deep dark secrets, of addiction and betrayal. Was this the man she’d married? Claire was unconsolable.

We’re primed to love our partners, to believe that they’re safe people. Our instinct is to trust them; to accept they’re as they seem. We shouldn’t have to doubt them, or to wonder if they’re lying. Society can’t function if we question everything.

Yet some of us have learned that it is harmful to be trusting. We’ve learned to stop believing those we love are truly safe. We’ve learned we must be careful; and we can’t take things for granted. We need to pay attention. Anyone can be deceived.

What, You Too? I Thought I Was The Only One

friendship is born

I usually find statistics a bit of a turn-off. They just feel too impersonal and detached to me. But I read these figures[1] in a blog recently and I felt they really captured how betrayal impacts us.

In summary, the statistics reveal that:

  • 75% of betrayed partners feel indescribable fear – This is a sudden gripping fear in the pit of your stomach; being overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety; being wakened by night terrors, or adrenalin rushes, and being hit by thoughts or images that seem to come from nowhere. This is frequently a symptom of PTSD.
  • 85% of partners have feelings of being helpless – They don’t feel they’re in control, or they can change their situation. Bad things are going to happen, no matter what they do. They feel they have no power, that their life and destiny are in the hands of others, and especially their partner’s. This may appear illogical or foolish to onlookers; but it debilitates the partner and it kills their will to fight.   Why do we feel so helpless? You’ve been lied to and deceived, and told to doubt our intuitions (gaslighting). We know can’t do anything to make our spouse be faithful. And even if looks as if they really want to change, we know it might not last – so we could be at risk again.
  • 62% of betrayed partners relive the traumatic memory of what their partner has done – This is disturbing and distressing, and it resurrects the pain – for you’re transported back in time to when you first learned of betrayal. You experience the same horror, the same shock and disbelief, the physical reactions and, perhaps, dissociation. You also feel abandoned and utterly alone.

The research also indicates that many of the spouses will experience these symptoms for years – not weeks or months. They are unwanted reactions that are common to most partners. They don’t mean you are crazy – they mean you’re traumatized.

So welcome to the club. Take a seat. We understand.

[1] These statistics can be found in addorecovery.com

 

A Case of Tarnished Haloes

there is no greater trauma

In Canada, people are reeling from the news that one of her most loved and respected citizens has also been guilty of sexual abuse. Jean Vanier was the founder of L’Arche International, the son of a highly esteemed governor general, and honoured with the highest awards in this land.

And nobody is doubting he did tremendous good. He invested his time in enhancing the lives of people who were born with serious disabilities. He provided a safe place where these people could feel loved. A home where they belonged, and experienced dignity.

But today the accolades are being hastily replaced by disbelieving comments like the following:

It’s so shocking when a person you believed in does these things. I never would have thought it. There were no apparent signs. It shakes your understanding of what people are like.”

This behaviour is so awful.  I can’t start to imagine how much these women suffered, and what they have gone through – especially when everyone was praising Vanier.”

This is a particularly hard as it’s betrayal by a friend.”

News like this calls into question the way you see the world. You don’t know who to trust. You don’t know who you can believe.”

Of course, we’re talking of abuse here, not betrayal by a spouse. Even so, there are some parallels that aren’t lost on us. For instance, both situations raise some painful questions like:

1. How do reconcile these very different sides … that someone who does great things also leads a double life?

2. Are all failings equal, or are some things worse than others?

3. Is it ever right to cover up a person’s shameful acts, simply because they are sexual in nature? Why is there pressure to keep these things a secret?

4. How can we determine who is trustworthy and safe, when betrayers are such experts at deceiving us?

I don’t have any answers – just some personal thoughts and views. But I’d really love to hear what any readers have to say.