When I started my first website a decade and a half ago my mission was to offer women who were in a relationship with a Sex Addict the information and resources that I did not have when I made my Discovery. Information that would have helped me decide if I should stay or go.
I made decisions (mostly bad ones) without facts or reality, decisions that would have been very different if I had been allowed all of the information I deserved and had a right to know.
As time went by and the staggered disclosures, and my trauma continued along with the misguided advice from tens of thousands of dollars worth of professional counseling, I swore that I would do everything in my power to give as much and as many facts and resources that I could find to women who found their lives shattered by Sex Addiction. Facts and resources that would help them make informed decisions about their future.
It turned out to be many years for me, struggling with concepts that had no name, dealing with continued staggered disclosures, being fed hope after blind hope by counselors who did not understand what Sex Addiction was, in fact most had never even heard the term.
I remember my first encounter with a therapist over Larry’s behaviors. This happened before we were married. For a second time I discovered his online chats with numerous women. Sexual discussions, suggestions to meet and arrogant bragging about his ‘abilities’. We were living together at the time and I told him to leave and I moved on with my life.
He started seeing a MD psychologist. He contacted me, told me of his new understanding of his ‘problem’ and asked me to come with him for a joint session to see the psychologist. It was here that I first mentioned that I thought Larry had some sort of ‘addiction’. I had never heard the term Sex Addiction, but it only seemed logical that if someone was doing something harmful to a relationship that they swore they wanted, and yet could not stop, that it must be some sort of uncontrollable compulsion or addiction.
Well, that idea was poo-pooed right out the door. The psychologist had all sorts of reasons for Larry’s behavior, and convinced me that Larry just adored me; had just gone through a ‘bad phase’ and that we should resume our relationship. Larry’s adamant pleading and promises of never ‘doing it again’ swayed me into compliance. Several months later, during a second trip with Larry to the psychologist’s office, I was told that Larry had worked through his issues and was ‘just fine’. This psychologist told me that I could not ask for someone who was more devoted to me than Larry and that I should ‘put all this behind you and marry this man’.
The rest is history.
I eventually realized that Larry lied to the psychologist and was seeing prostitutes during the entire period of counseling and throughout our engagement and after our marriage.
How much different would my life have been if I had all the facts?
How much different would my life have been if I had the option of a full disclosure with a polygraph?
What would my life look like today if I had been allowed to make an informed decision about the rest of my life instead of being dismissed and deceived? What would my choices have been then?
My choices would have been very different.
That’s why I started my websites. The first one, almost 15 years ago, languished and was finally retired after a year of loneliness on the web. Thirteen years ago I started the Married To A Sex Addict site and now the Sisterhood of Support site, with the private forums, eBooks and Wellness Coaching has been online for almost eight years.
So, what do we need in order to make an informed decision about our lives and our future? I think it varies from woman to woman, but I also believe that we have certain rights that have been, and still are, ignored and violated when it comes to hiding information from us. Not simply personal rights, but legal rights.
A legal contract is not binding unless the parties signing it are doing so with ‘informed consent’. That means exactly what it sounds like. Without all the information we cannot make an informed (or legal) decision and if we do enter into a contract, written or implied, that decision is null and void.
I think we need to know all the ‘facts’ first. Some women may choose to not hear or know all the sordid facts. They may not want all of that information and that is their choice. But these women must understand that they will always live under that fog of denial, never quite seeing the relationship clearly and never knowing what may be lurking beneath their veil of false security.
The facts, using my journalism background, are the What (what behaviors did he engage in?), Where (where did these things happen?), When (when did they happen–yesterday, last year?) and Who (someone you know, a family member, a minor?). You may or may not want to the the How.
Forget the ‘Why’. Asking why is futile, and, when you think about it, it really doesn’t matter why.
Seriously, can you think of any reason, any reason at all, that would justify this type of manipulation, abuse, hurt, trauma, betrayal and deception?
It seems as if we only start to make excuses for it when we start to doubt ourselves. When we start to listen to the counselors and therapists who tell us to give it a year. When we start reading all of those books that minimize, rationalize and paint glowing pictures of recovery.
What really matters is that it did happen and it did impact us and we can only make decisions about what we want to do if we have all the facts.
Understanding the behaviors and why they occur will help to distract us for a while, and it may be important to some to understand why someone we thought was trustworthy and deserving of our love and our lives, was someone much so different.
But, understanding why, or thinking that we understand why, does not change the what, where, when and who.
Only when we know all the facts can we make solid, informed decisions. It may take us months, or even years to make those decisions, and we may change our minds once or several times, but we will be coming from a point of truth and our decisions will have stability and soundness. We will know that we made our decisions based on reality rather than building our future on the slippery slope of fantasy and fiction.
And, we may decide, after having all the facts in front of us, that we want to stay. There certainly are compelling reasons for many women to stay. And, if they have made an informed choice, and have all of the facts–the real facts–not fantasy, then they will be at peace with their decision.
In that case there should be no expectations about who their husband can or cannot morph into, or that he will never lie or betray you again. There should be no expectations that he will ever be the man you thought he was or could or should be and there can be no expectations that your life will not blow up into physical, emotional and financial chaos at anytime.
The real fact is, he is who he is.
He is not who you desperately want him to be. He is not who you thought he was. And, he is not who you have been told he will magically transform into after a few weeks or months of intensives, counseling, 12 steps or after reaching that amorphous ‘rock bottom’ .
He is who he is. Nothing more. Nothing less.
If you stay with expectations of anything else you will be disappointed. I guarantee it.
If you have all the facts and can live with reality, you will not be blindsided when you see that his spots have not changed. Yes, some men may be able to stop jerking off obsessively to porn or spending the family’s retirement savings or the kids college funds on hookers. But, most cannot or will not. Either way the underlying reasons for the behavior will always be there.
If you can live with that, then all is well. ~ JoAnn