Author Topic: First post - a down day  (Read 1896 times)

stillme

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First post - a down day
« on: June 16, 2016, 03:02:14 PM »
I thought I would go ahead and share my first post. It has been helpful reading the stories and experiences of other partners. It helps to know what is normal and what is to be expected in this recovery process as the partner of a PA. Thankfully my husband is currently going through a reboot after our "d-day" I guess it is called. I am still getting used to the emotional ups and downs. I almost feel bipolar during this process of his recovery. Some days I am so excited about the future and what life is going towards I think I can fly. However, the down days - like today, come out of no where and seem to hit me like a ton of bricks. The doubt, the frustration, the not knowing if I can truly trust, the wondering if staying in this for the long haul makes me stupid or dedicated.

I don't know, I guess I just wanted to reach out to others who can understand what I am going through. There really isn't anyone for me to talk to. There seem to be lots of resources for the PA trying to recover, but not a lot is out there for the partner. I can't really reach out to anyone in the real world because I don't want to taint their view of my husband, especially since we have committed to staying together and working things out. But, sometimes I feel like I really need a safe place to vent.

Anyway, thanks for this forum.

Emerald Blue

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Re: First post - a down day
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2016, 06:00:31 PM »
Welcome to the forum, stillme. It's not so good that you have had to come here in the first place, but it's good that you've found somewhere for the support you need because as you are finding out, it's a very difficult and confusing time. You are absolutely right about there being no tried and tested routine for the pattners' recovery experience but there are some books that you might find helpful. What works for you may not be the same as for another person as some resources are faith-based, some are based on the 12-step programs for addiction, and some are secular and based on behavioral psychology. Love You, Hate Porn is written specifically for partners. I recommend Sex Addiction: The Partner's Perspective which covers the entire spectrum of sex addiction but is very relevant for porn addiction. There is also The Porn Trap and Always Turned On. Out of those books I have found Sex Addiction: The Partner's Perspective to be the most helpful. All are available on Kindle.

Addiction - it can happen to anyone. It happens to good people. It can happen to people with underlying emotional issues and unresolved childhood trauma. Or not. It can happen because it's always there and it's easy to find. It happens because it takes over the pleasure seeking/reward pathways in the brain creating a "need" and a craving for the biochemical high that happens in the brain. That's what they mean when they say "it's not personal". But it certainly feels personal to us.

As partners, all we get is loss, absence, withdrawal, deficit. We can't see it, we can't touch it, sometimes we don't even know it. But we always feel it. What we don't know DOES hurt us.

My experience: I felt like nothing. He seemed to have a higher opinion of pixels on a screen than he did with me. He certainly gave what was nothing more than digital data more care and attention. He had dates with pixels, not with me. He certainly had more sexual desire for his pixel stash because he has no interest in me whatsoever. After years of no interest and knowing that he was interested in looking elsewhere for his sexual kicks, I was living in some sort of emotional drought. It wasn't just the sex that was absent but emotional intimacy and connection. I was depressed. I felt alone and isolated. My self esteem was non existent. I had internalised all those "you're not good enough" feelings that arose from his lack of interest and neglect and believed them. I thought I was ugly, old, undesirable, the "wrong" shape or size, etc etc. I was at the point of breakdown. If he hadn't quit when he did I'd have been on a psych ward. It wasn't just "I've had enough" it was "I can't take living like this more because it has destroyed me". He feared for my life. That's when he woke up. 15 years too late as far as I'm concerned.

I never want to see another woman go through what I did but I know many will. But one thing for sure, I have no intention of repeating that scenario. Rock bottom doesn't come close.

I had no idea of what an emotional roller coaster it would be when he finally quit. I had tried to put a stop to his porn use many years ago and failed. I had no choice. He was going to do it anyway. He blamed my lack of availability but the truth was it was always me initiating and getting turned down. He was the one who was never available because he'd always have been watching porn. Eventually the sex got so infrequent, although mostly he was turning me down, and then it was PIED, and after that initiating anything became utterly soul destroying. That was the end of my initiating anything and he never did. Never. And so he was using porn exclusively for 6, 7, maybe as long as 8 years. As far as I know. He does not admit to any infidelity.

The worst of it was that I had to know the extent of his porn use. I had questions and he lied. So I had to do my own investigations that told me more about the true extent of his porn use. If I had relied on his account I wouldn't have known at all. He says he lied out of shame. Whatever his reasons the lies made everything worse. Trust was fragile anyway and lying damaged it further.

Forgiveness doesn't happen all at once. It's a gradual process. I have forgiven the PMO and eventually some of the lies but not all. Some lies really hurt, and some lies have only created further suspicion. Do I believe I have a full and accurate picture? No. I think I know a lot but I don't believe I know the full story. Am I likely to learn what has been left out of his account? No. He disclosed very little voluntarily. He corrected a few of the less relevant lies. That's all. But I know it's all I will get.

It's hard work. The first 6 months are the toughest. The next 6 months are more calm but speaking from experience I still have doubts.

As partners we need to work on building our own self esteem and working on other areas of our lives. We have to remember that our relationship with our addict spouse is only part of who we are. We need to recover our own sense of who we are and our personal strengths and positive qualities. Try one of the partners books. We must look after our own needs as a priority. So get help and support from wherever you can. Including here. Good luck. xoxo

His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

stillme

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Re: First post - a down day
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2016, 06:36:55 PM »
Thank you so much for your kind words! I have been reading your posts an learning a lot.
It has definitely been a confusing time. My husband has been really trying to overcome things since I found out and confronted him. He honestly didn't see the PMO as an issue until all hell broke lose when I confronted him in a letter. I didn't even know what was going on honestly, I just knew something wasn't right. I thought maybe he was gay, then maybe he was having an affair. I never guessed it was a set of digital affairs with women on a screen. When I confronted him he admitted to PMO for the past five years. Wow - talk about shock and awe, I was floored. I never, ever would have guessed he viewed porn. That he was also M and O to it and even chatting with some of the women, oh my gosh - I felt so absolutely low, like trash on the street. How embarrassing for your husband to rather pleasure himself looking at a computer screen than actually get in the bed with you. I felt like the most rejected person on the planet. It was only through my tears that he realized all those little private viewing parties were like affairs happening right under my nose - daily, weekly, monthly - for years.
He feels like trash and is honestly committed to getting better. He is going to counseling and finding support and doing all the "right" things. I feel bad for not being able to jump all in with enthusiasm and total support. I am honestly trying, hard. I know he is trying. But...... that damn betrayal. Five years of rejecting me for the screen. We have been married for over a decade and he turned to porn when dealing with a stressful time in our marriage rather than focusing and working things out. Now, we have to deal with him overcoming a crazy addiction. I want to throw myself on the floor and kick and scream and yell and have a massive tantrum like a two year old. But, every time I get angry and feel guilty - because he really is trying to "reboot". He really does want this to work, he really does want to save our marriage. I know he is committed to changing. But - I am still hurt and unsure and angry. Even though I have spent time learning about PA and know his loss of desire wasn't really "me", it was the addiction - I still feel like an ugly old hag that lost her husband to a computer screen. I mean really - he actually chose pixels on a screen and his own hand to me. How can that not crush me? I am trying to support him and his efforts, but I have to admit that I am angry that we have to dedicate all this time and energy and effort to dealing with his mistake. I mean heck, I could have been having an affair for the last five years and getting my own emotional and physical needs met! Here I was trying to work, take care of the house, take care of the kids, deny my own desires and needs while he was getting his kicks. And now, we both have to stop and pick up the pieces. It is like he dropped a 10,000 piece puzzle and I have to help him pick up and place back each and every piece. I have to go in with blind faith that once these 10,00 pieces are picked up, there will be something in it for me. That the puzzle, when put back together, will be as fulfilling to me as it is to him. My fear is that we will take weeks, months, years putting this puzzle together and in the end - I still won't have what I need. What if in the end his is made whole and I am still a broken mess?
I want to trust him, but he kept up this charade for five years! I mean, I knew something was wrong, something was amiss. I knew there was something wrong in our marriage. We were having sex maybe once or twice a year - clearly something was wrong. His addiction led to DE, so even when we did have sex he couldn't O - and that made me feel like an even bigger failure. He tried to hide that he didn't have an orgasm, but women know. When I found out he could orgasm just fine - just not when having sex with me - yikes.
The funny thing is - in my heart I know he is going to beat this. I just don't have confidence that "I" can recover from the pain of feeling like I am just not good enough, not attractive enough, not woman enough - to satisfy my own husband. I hate to think I am will forever feel like I can't compare to mere pixels on a screen. This is the absolute toughest thing I have had to deal with thus far in our marriage. 

Emerald Blue

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Re: First post - a down day
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2016, 10:00:22 AM »
stillme, I have had EXACTLY those feelings you describe. Worth less than pixels sums it up. I felt like  the mud sticking to the soles of his boots. Less than mud because he'd pay more attention to it. He seemed to be willing enough to take the time to make sure his porn videos were well looked after by hiding them in all sorts of clever and ingenious ways rather than spend that time doing a little something for me to let me know I was special to him. That's how it feels for the partners of a porn addict.

It's worth making an effort to learn about the addictive nature of porn. There are some videos on YourBrainOnPorn.com and lots of articles. Porn affects the brain and creates this craving/reward cycle. It's something I don't understand because I'm not a man, I don't respond to pornographic imagery in the way a man would, so I don't get to be a porn addict and I haven't had my responses and expectations conditioned by porn "training". Even though there isn't any experience from my own life that I can compare with porn addiction, it has helped me enormously to understand the addicted brain. My husband has been very helpful because knowing about it has helped him understand why he was so compelled to do it and couldn't quit. I didn't realise that the other side of acting out is the feelings of self-loathing and shame that follow and provide the fuel for the next session – because addicts act out to escape the feelings that are caused by acting out. Yes, I know it sounds crazy but that's part of the addictive cycle. It helps us, as partners, to see that it's not all a reflection on us and our perceived inadequacies.

I too experienced the DE problem and he'd lose his erection. By that time sex was such a rare occurrence and after that I just couldn't bear the thought of going through another half hearted ritual that ended badly. I had known for years he was using porn regularly but there was nothing I could do about it. It seemed to me that he could not leave it alone. Early on I thought his interest in it was unhealthy and was going too far. He thought if he made sure I couldn't find any evidence then he could pretend it wasn't happening. Of course I knew! For a man who hardly ever had sex, he wasn't showing any interest. So where was he getting his kicks? The closed door at predictable times was a big give away. I even tried walking in on him and I caught him in the act. We rowed. I said no more, or seek help. So he just made sure there was no more "getting caught". The closed doors and finding him in his bathrobe with a pile of used tissues by the computer was very suspect, but mostly he set things up to hear me coming well in advance so he could "pretend" he was doing something sensible on the computer. I knew. But I also knew I couldn't "catch" him. That's why it went on for all those years.

He tells me there was no 1-to-1 cybersex, no cams, nothing like that. I am inclined to believe him. I turned over his computer and found no evidence. The best I can do is that on balance I believe it is unlikely that he did, I don't rule it out. I don't rule out ANYTHING, however unlikely my rational mind says it is. He wasn't truthful with me after d day. He knowingly lied to me, and it took several attempts to get what I suspect was a minimized version of "the truth" and the partial truths that hid more than they revealed. And for those reasons, I cannot rely on him to be honest and transparent about ANYTHING. I have learned to live with accepting uncertainty. I believe that he is as honest as I can reasonably expect, and probably more honest, on balance, than many other men. But do I suspect he has "secrets"? Do I suspect he has compromised his own values and personal morality? I think it's possible. Probable? No. Possibly? Yes. Not just a theoretical possibility, but a small chance of realistic possibility.

This is what "trust" looks like in recovery. It may always look like this. No more blind faith. No more believing that what he says is true. I can't afford him that privilege any more. That's because he lied. I've told him that he has the opportunity to correct any lies or tell me about anything that he had "forgotten". I knew WHY he might have lied but he always has the opportunity to correct it. So far, he has not taken that opportunity to tell me anything else. Either there is nothing else or he is lying. It's up to me to choose what I believe based on what I know and how I learned. I trust him as much as any partner possibly could in this situation, but I'm a realist. There may be things he has chosen not to tell me.

It's a very, very tough journey to get to this point. I have to make it clear - as much as to myself as to anyone else – we must take care of our own needs and build our own self esteem. We certainly can't depend on a porn addict to give us a sense of identity or agency. I can't stress that enough. Of course we want a loving relationship with our spouse to but to get back there each partner has to go through a lot of pain, loss, grief, soul-searching etc to heal, to pay attention to each other's needs, to agree on what is or isn't acceptable. It's a bereavement for what we have lost, it's building something new, it's one huge healing and recovery process. At least you're making a start now v
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

stillme

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Re: First post - a down day
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2016, 10:46:00 AM »
Your words resonate with me quite a bit. We are VERY early in our recovery. I found out, confronted him, and he vowed to change. It was a few days later that I happened upon the "Yourbrainonporn" site and we could finally put a name to what he had - porn addiction. After that, he really went full force in trying to recover. He has 1) stopped looking at porn, 2) stopped PMO, 3) sought counseling, 4) purchased a journal to log his feelings. He comes to bed at the same time I do every night. He put very specific plans in place for how to have success when he was home alone for a night. He really is all in with trying to recover.
I, however, am stuck in the "meantime". Figuring out what to do with myself while he works on his recovery. I know I need to work on my own recovery at this point. I believe I will get there, I put a very specific plan in place.
I think the hardest thing is dealing with just how much porn changed my husband. Never, ever in a million years would I or anyone else imagine he to be one that didn't just consume porn, but consumed hardcore porn. It was so vastly different from who he is as a person. It was like having a stranger in my home. It was been hard to wonder that if he was able to keep this such a deep secret for so long, just how much else is he keeping secret? I wonder how he can ever find normal sex satisfying after spending year and year viewing some of the most deplorable things I could imagine. The other thing I struggle with now is believing he loves me. My husband is, aside from the porn addiction, a good guy. He will stay in this marriage because it is the right thing to do. So, I have been fighting off thoughts that maybe he is sticking around as a punishment for his porn use. Kind of like, he doesn't really love me, isn't really attracted to me, doesn't really want to be here - but since he feels so guilty about what he did, he is willing to stay in his own private hell to atone for his hurting me.
The mountain I am dealing with, that feels like it will be hardest to climb - is my want to be wanted. He wanted porn, so he did everything and anything he needed to do for five years to get his fill. He put more into this addiction than I have seen him put in anything because, like you said, he worked so hard to hide it. I kept creating in my head the scenarios I needed to see to believe he truly wanted to be with me, rather feeling obligated to stay with a woman he had no desire for. Of course, because he is an addict in recovery, he has not been able to do anything of those things. Just little things - like stop what he is doing, look at me, and tell me I am the most beautiful woman in the world. I wanted him to call and say, "Don't cook tonight, I am taking you and the kids to dinner, then later tonight I just want to hold you." I wanted him to look at me and say, "You know, I have always loved seeing you in those earring or those jeans or that shirt." But, he can't give me that. Right now, all he can do is try to recover from his addiction.
So, the most I can hope for at this point is that he is as miserable as I am in some ways. I am still in a marriage with no intimacy or attachment, the same as we had when he was using the porn. The only different now is that he isn't using porn. I know in the back of my mind this is temporary. We were doing well the first couple weeks of his recovery. However, he has hit the flatline and there is just nothing. My reaction to the flatline was feeling once again like a failure and unable to turn my husband on. Again, I realize this is a part of the process, but those thoughts just take hold. When I found out the flatline could last for years, oh my gosh my heart broke into a million pieces. You mean I am going to be lying in bed next to a man with absolutely no desire for intimacy for a couple years - ANOTHER couple of years? So, while he is "getting better" I get the exact same relationship that started this whole mess to begin with?
In complete honestly Emerald Blue - I want a prize. I want a big prize. I want a payoff for going through the hurt and the shame and the pain. Right now, it appears that the best I can hope for is a restored marriage. That's it. No restitution, no extra reward for for staying faithful and enduring the pain. I know it sounds selfish and a bit absurd, but I feel cheated. I know on television when a woman finds out her husband cheated and she stays by his side, he feels deeply indebted to her. My reward seems to be that my husband will "try" not to look at porn again.
I am sure this feeling will subside. Honestly, sometimes I feel stupid for behaving relatively calmly when I confronted him. Maybe I would feel better if I punched a wall or left with the kids for a few days or ran out and had an affair of my own. I didn't, I just cried. I did make demands and he agreed to them all, but they were simple and reasonable - no more porn, showing me all bills, not using the computer at night unless it was in our room. No demands for a new and better wedding ring, or maid service, or a trip to the beach. Just a simple, "Please don't hurt me again." It feels cheap, five years and all I asked was, "Please don't hurt me again." I fancied myself to be a tougher cookie than that. I alway thought if my husband violated our marriage I would absolutely make him pay, he would feel my wrath. Nope, just me crying like a toddler, curled in the fetal position, wondering what the heck was wrong with me that I couldn't even compete with a computer screen. I wonder if maybe I have sold myself short, did I devalue myself so much that he will wonder if I am really worth it after all. The is something in the pursuit that men do enjoy and I just caved.
I am trying to focus on my own recovery now. I can see it is going to be a lot harder than I imagined. I can't even think about my marriage at this point because I am such a broken mess. That is the part of this that just seems so unfair. I was sitting there all this time being faithful even when things weren't great, ready to make changes and do things differently and help him get what he needed to find happiness. And here I am, stuck picking up all the little pieces all by myself. And at the end of the day, the biggest "reward" I can hope to gain is a husband that doesn't prefer jacking off to the computer over having an intimate relationship with me. This is going to be a longer recovery process than I imagined.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 10:53:02 AM by stillme »

Emerald Blue

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Re: First post - a down day
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2016, 07:33:13 PM »
I've been there too. In some respects I'm still in a strange place with it all. Recovery is a work in progress and believe me, it is WORK.

I might have known he was using porn all those years but I was in a kind of wilful denial. I was lying to myself by pretending it didn't hurt like hell. But what choice did I have? Actually I chose to do nothing. I realise now I could have said I'm not going to tolerate it but if he was choosing porn over me, what would he do if he was denied the porn when it seemed obvious that he wasn't interested in me any more? That's what I believed my options were. My husband using porn or my husband having extramarital relationships. I believed that because my thinking was skewed. He was a porn addict and I didn't know about porn addiction. He said he was not going to destroy our marriage by having extramarital affairs. I have to take him on trust on this one but of course it has crossed my mind. He says not. Is that true? Only he knows. But I do know about the porn because it was going on in our shared home and on our shared internet connection but without shared consent.

After d day he rediscovered his desire for me. He admits to being foolish. He admits to taking me for granted. He sees his own stupidity in masturbating secretly, alone in a room with a laptop, and ignoring his "beautiful wife". He tells me he wouldn't change a thing about me. And yes, he says I look good in those jeans, and tells me how great I look. I suppose some of the novelty of his rediscovery has passed but he says he was foolish. Why have "that" when he could have better (me)? Yes, he has actually said that to me! In some respects he woke up with a jolt. I'm sure that your husband will wake up to reality too. It doesn't all work like magic straight away.

Rebuilding trust and intimacy takes time especially when you are feeling vulnerable and wondering if your presence is being swapped for a porn fantasy or substituted for another woman or having your body compared to some unrealistic fantasy body and found lacking. Yes, I've been there. You are far better off exploring each other's bodies without sex being the goal. Exploring and rediscovering through touch is worthwhile. Lovemaking doesn't have to be full on sex. Be prepared to feel upset, confused, sad, or whatever. The important thing is to make sure you have some regular physical contact. Not necessarily sex, but full body hugs or touching instead.

I too felt cheated for being "good". I was fully committed to my relationship. I was never going to have an affair no matter what. Of course there are men who would be interested in me, but it would never enter my head to be unfaithful. Besides, my husband's porn addiction, the DE and his long term lack of interest in me made me lose interest. Sex meant sadness, and I didn't want sadness. An affair would only add to that sadness. I'm not stupid. I know these extramarital situations inevitably end in tears. So no thanks, life was challenging enough without adding to it.

The best way to feel good about living by your own values is to reward yourself for doing so by treating yourself well and doing one act of kindness every day, just for you. Even if it's playing a favourite song, or drinking coffee from your own special cup, no matter how small the reward, you are telling yourself that YOU matter. If you can afford to buy yourself a treat now and then do so, just as long as you don't end up overspending to comfort yourself. I'm sure you know all this, but I don't want anyone to develop a shopping addiction to compensate for the lack of care and attention that partners of PAs have lacked for so long. We are vulnerable too!

I think you've made a great start. I know you're in the early stages of recovery and it IS difficult. Very difficult. But you're doing well so keep it going.

His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it