Untangling From My Addict

I stood in the doorway of my bedroom watching my husband shaking uncontrollably on the bed. His pain and anguish was palpable. This was days after he came to an understanding and acceptance that he was a sex addict, his life had become unmanageable, and his marriage was falling apart. This was the moment he told me he felt suicidal.

I didn’t react immediately. God kept my tongue still until my thoughts and emotions caught up with each other. And then I responded, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I cannot help you. If you are truly suicidal please call our pastor or your doctor. You need help, but I have nothing I can give you.”

My words surprised me. But then they seemed right. I was in my own emotional turmoil and intense pain and somehow recognized that my first priority was looking after me. Not him. I cared about my husband as a person, as the father of my children. I did not want him to die. But there was nothing within me strong enough to pull him out of his darkness. I needed what little energy I had to keep myself functioning. I was barely doing that.

I was hurting too. For once, this was not going to be all about him. I would not comfort and console him. Try and make him feel better. That’s what our marriage had been for twenty five years. Me receiving and accepting the blame for everything at the expense of my own heart. This time would be different.

I was the one responsible for no longer allowing the invasion of pornography in our marriage. I was the one refusing to continue living in a sexless marriage. I was the one that said I am worth more than this. I was the one who shook up the status quo.

But he was the one who brought the addiction into our marriage. And fed it every day. It was he who caused this pain. Mine and his. I had finally found the courage within me to say “No more.” He was going to have to find his own strength. I had no intention of giving him an opening to steal mine away. I needed every bit of it for myself. Besides, the physical manifestation of my husband’s pain was evidence that God was breaking him. The best thing for me to do was stand aside and let God do His work.

This was a significant turning point for me. Looking back now, it was the unofficial beginning of Step One. I admitted that I was powerless over the sex addict and my life had become unmanageable.

I somehow intuitively knew that I was gaining back control of my life from the sex addict. I was broken, and the first step in my healing and rebuilding had been laid before me. I was valuing myself over the addict.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.                                              2 Samuel 22:17-20 and Psalm 18:16-19

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21 thoughts on “Untangling From My Addict

    • Thank you my friend for your affirming comment. When I sat down to write last night, I had no idea these would be the words to flow out. I am glad to hear they are meaningful to you.

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  1. Wow. This was like reading my husband and my story not that long ago. I just recently started sharing about this on my blog (post “Patient Love”). The serenity prayer is on repeat forever now in our marriage, and it gives me such Peace to read your words and know our story is one others share too. Thank you for sharing.

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    • Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. It really is amazing how alone we all have felt in our pain, but as soon as we begin sharing our story we find it is much more common than we knew. And that does bring peace and hope to ourselves and others.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, Cynthia! I appreciate your transparency. I relate to this an applaud you for your courage…it is comforting to know there are others our there who understand the day to day struggles and continue to move forward. Blessings<3

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    • Thank you Julia. Your words are very affirming. It is my desire to share the daily struggles, thoughts and emotions to help remove the shame of keeping them hidden and feeling alone. These struggles are valid and real, however, they don’t need to overwhelm us forever. There really is hope for wholeness and healing!

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    • Thank you for reading, commenting and your prayers. Yes, healthy detachment describes perfectly how I was able to remove myself emotionally and embrace my own healing and recovery. I had come to my breaking point a few months before. This was when my husband hit his bottom. He also jumped full force into his recovery. Neither of us has ever looked back. Each of our lives and our marriage have improved beyond anything I/we could have ever imagined. A new creation x 3. Our very own miracle.

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  3. When my husband felt suicidal (right after he divulged his secrets about prostitutes), he called 911. He was hospitalized into a locked psych unit. Then released after a couple of weeks. Then home for a few days. I knew he was “off” — he became very mentally ill — I know him better than anyone and his doctor really missed the boat. Within a few days of being released, he took off in his car the early morning while I was sleeping with 3 means of suicide. He didn’t want me to find him dead. Well — I went after him, b/c I had a GPS locator on his car after his disclosure (my safety – my body, and his suicidal ideations). It was a horrific, bloody scene. It wasn’t a gesture, or an ideation. It was the graphic real-deal. The police and EMTs told me he was about 2 minutes from death.

    You may find this interesting. The “spot” my husband chose to “hide” in his car to end his life was in a big parking lot behind a random church about 5 minutes from our home. We don’t go to church. While I was pleading for help on my cell with the 911 operator, I was pulling out a carbon monoxide hose and gaining access to the cabin of his car while he was cutting his groin to slice his artery.

    Then… the pastor of the church pulled in with his wife. He was strong enough to wrestle away the blade and I stepped on it to keep him safe. The pastor had to punch my husband in the face to get him to ease up on the knife a bit. I’m sure the pastor and his wife had know idea what they would be facing when they drove to work that day to open the church office. He helped save my husband’s life. My husband was having a “Major Depressive Psychotic Break” according to the psychiatrist who saw him when he was rushed to the ER once again.

    He’s alive. I don’t know (16 months later) if he is happy to be alive. He never really thanked me or the pastor. I thanked the pastor. Now I have PTSD. I have to admit — should I have gone after him? I put myself in danger. Yet, I knew my husband was really, really sick. I didn’t think; I just acted. My husband is a physician, so he knows more than the average person regarding how to kill himself. The reality is that we can never truly stop someone who may be hell-bent on killing themselves, but somehow, the stars aligned that horrid morning and he is here. He has never threatened again that he wants to die. I honestly don’t think I would intervene again. Perhaps that sounds horrible? My own life and safety come first now. New reality.

    I wonder how many men who suffer / suffered from sex addiction/compulsion end up suicidal? So. Much. Pain.

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    • (((Hugs))) to you. You are a beautiful and courageous woman! Thank you for reading and sharing your story and pain with me. I hope that in telling this part of your story today, the horror and images lose some of their power and become a little less overwhelming.

      You are so right that there is SO MUCH PAIN caused by sex addiction. It destroys the souls of both the husband and wife. I believe it is important to validate the pain and devastation of both partners. Us, as the betrayed wives, often tend to become so consumed in our own pain that we are not able to recognize or acknowledge the brokenness of our husbands. And our husbands often cannot see through their own anguish to understand the depth of the effects their behavior has had on us. Also outside parties who have not experienced or understand sexual betrayal trauma may minimize our pain and focus on the addict. We are both broken.

      I don’t think it sounds horrible at all to say you wouldn’t intervene again should your husband act on a desire to die. The only person we can heal is ourselves. The reality is that your own life and safety DO come first now. You are worth that. You matter. Blessings and love.

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  4. Yes — it is true that both the husband and the wife have experienced a great deal of pain and trauma. There are just not enough trained therapists to help the women with Betrayal Trauma (imho). There are more resources for the addict. We drive 3.5 hours to see someone when we can and we work a few days in a row.

    Thank you for the good thoughts. Yes, I matter. Yes, I come 1st for ME. Really, all we ever truly have is ourselves. We can be in relationships with friends, family, spouses, etc., but the only person I am responsible for is ME.

    Blessings and love back to you!

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    • I am glad you have found a qualified therapist for yourself. The drive and time is inconvenient for sure ( I have a 1.5 hour drive each way myself) but it is so worth it to be able to find someone who actually understands and can help with our sexual betrayal trauma. Just settling for any therapist close to home can cause more pain and damage than being helpful. Keep fighting for you!!

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  5. So true! I also felt the need to remove the label of “wife of a porn addict.” The label did it’s job, and it was time to move on. Both my husband and I got to a place where we have been able to shed the label. We are no longer “porn addict” and “wife of a porn addict.” We are entirely new beings, free from the pains of addiction that kept us bound for so many years.

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  6. Wow…
    Thank you Julia for sharing. I can completely relate to what you have experienced. We all should know that we are the strong ones…they will attempt to play the role of the victim while we are labeled the perpetrator. We have to be one step ahead of them and beat them at their own game. To those of us who can salvage your relationships and marriages, you all are very courageous! Julia, you are an inspiration….

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  7. Was the problem just the porn or was he physically cheating on you too? Honestly I struggle like hell with myself sometimes. I still and have always wanted my wife but she has not been there for me in that way, so I’ll turn to porn cause well I’ve got to take care of the urges somehow. Then we get into this back and forth of blaming the other for the problem. I watch porn because of no sex and she doesn’t want sex because I watch porn and so on. I’ve been to the edge of suicide, my son keeps me grounded here.

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    • I am glad that you have someone who keeps you focused on living life. The struggle is painful and intense but freedom is possible. Keep fighting for you.
      My husband did not cheat on me physically with a person. However, he was involved with porn and compulsive masturbation daily. A fantasy world that did not include me for his sexual needs and desires. That was completely his choice, as I have always been a willing partner. I pretty much begged for sex for many years but received nothing but rejection and shame for having my own needs. I did everything to get his attention. I was so desperate for love that I know I would have had sex with him even knowing about the porn. That is not an option now. As we struggle to rebuild a sexual relationship, it can only involve the two of us to fulfill each other’s needs. My husband has had to learn to retrain his brain to desire me. So that means not only no porn, but no sexually suggestive images, and no masturbation. Our sexuality belongs only to each other. It is a battle, but we are winning!

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      • I’m glad that you are winning. I don’t know why someone would turn down the real thing for porn. It baffles me really. I don’t compulsively watch it but I have urges that need satisfying a few times a week. Out of those few times a week I’m granted what I actually desire (to be sexual with her) about once every other month if I’m lucky. It’s so frustrating. I remember on Valentine’s Day literally quietly sobbing myself to sleep because I was rejected again.

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      • I don’t understand why anyone would turn down the real thing for porn or masturbation either. But he did for over 20 years. The rejection was devastating and soul crushing. I can relate to you sobbing yourself to sleep. I have many stories that I won’t write here that shredded my heart. I received no physical affection or touch whatsoever from him, and he also made it perfectly clear that I was not to give him any either. It is a rejection like no other. Which soon invades everything else in your life. I hope that you and your wife can break this vicious cycle before more damage is done to your hearts. There is hope. Hang on.

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  8. Sometimes is probably better to say. Because some days it’s not worth the effort. Then other times I’m like “hey I’m really trying not to do this can we do something about this?” While I agree, romance is a good thing but after 11 years it shouldn’t be a requirement every single time either. Sometimes you just want it to be about having fun and making each other feel good.

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