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Topics - stillme

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Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / What I wish I knew day one after d-day
« on: September 12, 2016, 12:09:20 PM »
I am "writing my way" through my own recovery as a partner of a recovering porn addict. One thing I like to do is reflect back on where I am. The reason is because, on bad days I can be hard on myself and it really takes me looking back on how far both my husband and me have come. So, I thought I would talk about those things I wish I knew the day after d-day. I would love for other partners to chime in. These are the things I wish I knew the day after d-day that I have come to realize:

1. Extreme emotions are okay. It is perfectly okay to be feeling HUGE feelings. Confusion, fear, frustration, anger, disappointment, desperation, despair, and more are okay. I am allowed to have all my feelings.

2. Extreme emotions are normal. There is nothing mentally wrong with me for feeling huge feelings. I am not going crazy, not going over the edge, and working through confusion and frustration takes time - extreme emotions are normal.

3. It is okay to not know what to do in the beginning, there is no need to make decisions quickly. While I am not quite sure of the "levels of porn", my husband never did anything in his porn use that would put our family in jeopardy. So, there was no need to make a quick decision. It is okay to not know if you want to leave or stay, fight or run.

4. Mourning the loss of what I "thought" our relationship was is okay. I was deceived. The person I thought my husband was - it wasn't quite accurate. I can mourn and be sad about all those times I thought I was loving one person, and it was someone else.

5. It is okay to still love him - deeply. Yes, porn addiction is bad. However, that isn't all that my husband is. He is an amazing person with many really great qualities. Is continued porn use a deal breaker for marriage? Absolutely and thankfully stopping porn was a top priority for him. But, even if it wasn't - he still wouldn't be all bad. I fell in love with a human being - not a perfect robot. Of course there would be flaws, but overall he is a good guy.

6. Porn use can be deal breaker. I am allowed to walk away based on porn use. I have that right. It isn't a small issue.

7. I would be more hurt than I ever imagined. Wow, that one is probably the hardest. Feeling ugly, feeling jealous, feeling rejected, feeling unloved - all happened. It's normal, it hurts deeply.

8. Rebuilding trust takes time - LOTS of time. I didn't know it was possible to love someone you couldn't fully trust. It is possible. You have to decide for yourself what level of trust is acceptable and how long you are willing to wait for trust to be rebuilt.

9. I have a lot less friends than I thought I did. Okay, this is actually the hardest thing I had to come to terms with. There was NO ONE that I could tell. No one who it felt safe disclosing what we were going through. I thought I had friends, but no one I knew could be trusted with this truth. It has been a lonely recovery.

10. It gets better. Now, better is relative because I got pretty low. But, I don't cry all day now and I find myself truly laughing - it is getting better.

11. It is okay to be the wife you want to be, even if it is a better wife than he deserves.

12. There is a time to be selfish - this is it. Get what you want out of the relationship or get out. You can't hold him up forever and forget about yourself. Allow him to rise to the occasion and be a better man and a better husband than he thought he could be. Sure, you will need to be his support through a lot of his recovery. After some point - it is your turn. You get what you need.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Questioning decision to stay
« on: September 06, 2016, 06:19:57 AM »
Anyone else question their decision to stay in the marriage? My husband has, for all intents and purposes, kicked PMO. He wants to be in this marriage and is trying the best "he" can. However, I am struggling with the scary realization that his fives years of porn addiction (including interacting with cam girls) has truly changed him. The problem is, he seems to have become emotionally stunted. At times, I feel like I am dealing with an emotionally awkward teenager in his first "real" relationship and he is trying to find his way. The problem is, I don't want to be in a relationship with a teenager - emotional or otherwise.

I thought when he kicked the porn habit, he would recover to the man he was before porn - creative, interesting, full of life. Nope - he is pretty much the guy he was for the last five years, just without porn. I don't want to settle into a marriage in which I am frustrated, but the only way for me to not be frustrated is to compromise. I thought there would be some great reward for staying by his side and supporting him through recovery. No - not talking about a big new house or a shiny car. I thought if I supported him through the hard act of recovery, he would be there to help support me, help build me up, provide me with a real relationship - one in which we both get our needs met.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that is going to happen. Porn use and the objectification of women has completely zapped him of the skills needed to give in an emotionally mature relationship. He has admitted that he knows he should be doing more to show that he loves me and to make up for the hell he put me through with his porn use, but - he doesn't know how to make it up to me, so he just does nothing. Yes, his answer is - I don't know what will make it up to you, so I just do nothing. He has guilt and shame and is now wallowing in self pity. Again - how long to a sit around on this roller coaster? My fear is by the time he gets out of this post porn fog I will be old with no desire for anything other than sitting on the couch and watching television. I discovered his porn use because I was tired of the life we were living and I was ready to call it quits. I stayed with the hope that once he quit porn, we could go back to a fulfilling marriage, I even read stories of a marriage "better than we had before". I was hoping against hope. So, what do you do if what you are presented with is not a marriage "better than you had before", but one that is "more of the same, just without porn"? What happens if what you are presented with is worse than you had before? Do you stay and admit porn won? Do you pretend to be happy even though you are lonely, bored, and angry that it seems porn took your good husband and left you with the tired shell of the man you once knew?

Maybe it is just an emotional time for me. This past weekend was one a big disaster - should have been a happy experience and he readily admits to not knowing what to do, so he did little to nothing. Imagine "Happy Birthday, I didn't want to mess up and get you the wrong gift - so I pretty much got you nothing." This is my life? This is our future? This is what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life? I don't want this  :'(

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / Colorless days - forever?
« on: August 01, 2016, 07:34:22 AM »
Yesterday I thought I had a "eureka" moment, I even posted about it. Today, I think I have found my absolutely lowest moment in the entire process of being married to a recovering porn addict.

I have studied about porn addiction until my eyes were about to fall out of my head. I learned all about rebooting, rewiring, dopamine and other chemicals and today - something hit me like a ton of bricks. What I have, all of my life, thought was love was simply - chemical reactions. My husband and I had been talking openly about things such as "rewiring the brain" and this morning, it all came rushing in. All those things I thought were magical moments of mystery - butterflies in my stomach when he caressed my shoulders, my heart feeling like it skipped a beat when he walked into the room, looking into his eyes and feeling safe and warm and loved - all just chemical responses.

I rewatched some of the reboot nation videos on YT as well as videos and articles on YBOP and a common thread was, "You need to rewire to a real person." No particular person, any old bag of flesh and bones will do. All men needed was a 'real person', not their wife, mother of their children, person who stood by them though thick and thin - just someone to fill the void of 'real person'. Now granted, I am glad my husband chose me as his 'real person' to 'rewire' to, but it feels so machine like.

All this time I have been thinking love was something special, romantic, beautiful - its just chemicals and brain 'wiring'. I used to wonder how people could cheat on someone they 'loved' or how they could 'fall out of love'. Now I see, love is just the name we give to dopamine rushes attached to an individual to whom our brains have been wired.

This discovery has been one of the most heartbreaking, most devastating things I have ever experienced in my entire life. All those years of fantasy, of belief in love and romance and magic and - its just science. It feels like when I was a kid and found out Santa Claus wasn't real. I feel like all the color had been drained from my world and everything is just black and white. I mean, even color isn't real - its just science. Color is simply, "The property possess by an object of producing different sensations on the eyes as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light." It's just a trick of the brain, telling us something is there that really isn't. And now I find that what I thought was 'love' is the exact same thing - just dopamine and endorphin releases and 'wiring' the brain to one particular person or another.

I knew porn had taken a lot from me - the trust I had in my husband, much of my self esteem and feelings of self worth, the reality that I thought was my marriage that turned out to be a mirage since he was slipping out of bed at night to jack off to porn. I had come to terms with the loss of those things. This one, is different. What kept me going with this process of supporting my husband's recovery was my perception of love. I thought I was helping us hold on to something special, to something real. I was going full speed ahead because of this belief in the magical and mysterious the beautiful and exciting power of LOVE. But, the more I learn about porn addiction, the more I learn about 'rebooting' and 'rewiring', the more I see this isn't magical or mysterious or even particularly beautiful - it's just science. Porn has taken away from me even the magic of love itself. Its just stupid chemical reactions and the brain telling you there is something there, just 'wiring' you to this person or that person in almost random fashion.

If I never hear the word 'rewiring' again it will be too soon. Who the hell wants to be 'wired' to their husband. Who wants to know their husband stopped being 'wired' to them only to be 'wired' to the computer and having to go through a 'reboot' to get back 'wired' to you again. This entire conversation speaks of it all like its just a computer, like were are nothing but bits of data covered flesh.

I knew my husband's addiction to porn had taken a lot from me, but today I finally saw just how much it took. While he might be waking up to see beautiful colors again - I see what they are, nothing more than just the brains interpretation of reflection of light. There is no color, just my brain telling me its there. My husband is 'rewiring' to me and falling in love again - I see what it is, nothing more than the brain's reaction to chemical releases. Porn has taken everything - all the beauty and mystery and magic. It has reduced it all to just mundane chemicals and brain wiring.

Guys on this site talk so openly, so freely about "rewiring to real person' without even realizing how sad and depressing it all is. I mean, my gosh - my husband fell out of 'chemical connection' with me to be wired to a freaking computer screen! And now he has to go through some process of 'rebooting' his brain so that he 'no like computer, like real wife'. That's it? That's all this is? No mystery, no magic, no cosmic connection or fairytale or true love that I have been dreaming about since I was a little girl. It was all just shots of dopamine and endorphins and hormones and other chemicals! Nothing special about us, or me - heck, he proved that humans can 'wire' their brains to computer screens.

Porn has taken away something I can never, ever get back - blissful, beautiful ignorance. A belief in the power of love, in love being special and mysterious and magical. It's funny - my husband got addicted to porn because of the fantasy of it all. Porn took away my fantasy about love and romance and what it meant to be human. Porn has robbed me of everything I ever thought as a little girl, everything I fantasized about as a young woman, every thing I hoped for as a bride, everything I missed when my husband was addicted, and everything I thought we were fighting to regain from his recovery.

So, love is just as real as Santa Claus I guess  :'(

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / My "Eureka" Moment
« on: July 31, 2016, 12:34:10 PM »
I have been feeling frustrated today and I didn't really understand why. But, I think I finally figured it out. While my husband is recovering from porn addiction I realize that my role is not so much 'wife', but for all intents and purposes - caretaker. I watch what I say, I watch what I do, I watch how I respond to him - all to ensure he has the best possible environment for recovery. I am doing everything I can to help set him up for success.

I was reading up on the role of caretaker and found that for some areas, 70% of caretakers die before the patient they are taking care of when the patient is terminal. Now, of course our partners are not suffering from some terminal illness, but it really helped me better understand what I have been dealing with. Everyday he gets a little bit better, and everyday I lose a little bit more. Of course, the hope is that his recovery goes quickly and by the end, I am still able to enjoy life and love and happiness.

While I wasn't able to find any information on 'caretakers' of individuals with PA, I did find some information on what happens to caretakers of drug addicts, and since PA affects the brain the same way drugs do, I decided to take a look. Some negative impacts were stress and social anxiety. OH MY GOSH. Yes! I will admit I constantly stress about what will happen in the case of a relapse. And social anxiety - yes. Why? Because this is his secret and I don't want him to be shamed by friends and family. As a result, there is literally no one I can talk to. I don't need a counselor, I need a friend. I don't want some professional sitting in a chair to tell me about "taking care of myself" or "not blaming myself for his addiction", I need one of my good friends to let me lay my head on their shoulder and cry and we eat chocolate together. I have friends that would do that, but they would also think less of my husband for causing all of this stress and anxiety for me. So, to protect him, I sit there with no one to cry to except for him. And, of course, I don't really cry to him for fear it will cause a relapse. So again, I sacrifice things that would be helpful to me to take care of him.

Caregivers are found to have increasing rates of stress and depression. Again, guilty. Most of my 'depression' comes from feeling guilty for being angry. Just like addicts have to fight the fleeting images of porn that pop into their head, I have to fight the fleeting images of my husband viewing and jacking off to porn. When those images pop into my head I get angry and then I feel bad for getting angry and then I get angry for feeling bad because of something I didn't do, it was done to me. It is a constant cycle.

Of course, the recommendation is for caregivers to 'take care of themselves'. What does that mean? When I entered into this partnership, this marriage - it was in sickness and in health. I want to hold up my end of the bargain, even though my husband didn't hold up his end. At this moment, recovering from porn addiction rules our life. I realize that today, I am angry because I am tired. I am tired of the reboot and recovery. I long to look into my husband's eyes and not see his porn addiction, not question is love for me, allow myself to believe his words and trust his actions. But I can't. Not now and I don't know if I will ever be able to. I admit that I feel about sometimes about how I view him - small and feeble, weak and insecure. I wonder if I will ever be able to truly stop 'taking care' of him and enjoy an authentic relationship where we are equals and and I not trying to be some force field of protection against some ills and society. I have to monitor what I watch and what comes on the television. We don't even flip through channels looking to find some good show because I am scared some random hot woman will pop on the screen and lead him to relapse. We workout together and I have to put in only the most mundane videos for us to workout to because the women are too hot and scantly dressed in the other videos and again - I am trying to help him avoid relapse. It is exhausting and times and I wonder how long I can keep this up.

Oh well, at least there is a name for what I am dealing with - caregiver burnout.

I have to say, reading the various stories throughout the website has me feeling absolutely grateful for my husband's attitude and progress. He was in to porn for five years and not really sure "when" he became an addict. However, as soon as we read about PA he saw his symptoms, admitted his issues, and sought help. It all happened so quickly that I felt a bit "rushed" through my own grieving process. I didn't have months or even weeks to be angry and bitter - he sought help for his addiction immediately.

So, what do things look like for us?
1. I originally put together a list of 13 "rules" and my husband agreed to all of them. They included things like if he needed to get on the computer at night, he would use the one in our bedroom and only while I was in there with him.
2. We go to bed together every night. We also sleep naked, which really helps with reconnecting.
3. We are going through a marriage course and it has taught us a lot about how to avoid the conditions that made an "escape" to porn possible in the first place. The course is intense and yet - we are loving it.
4. My husband gets counseling to help him seek out and address any underlying issues that made him vulnerable to a pull to porn in the first place.
5. We talk openly and often about how his recovery is going. I think this was one of the reasons he was able to recover from his first (not sure if there will be others) flatline quickly. We talked about what it was and that is was normal and I prepared myself to not get into my feelings and assume his body was rejecting me when really it was part of the resetting that needed to take place.
6. He is openly and aggressively working to win me "back". I wasn't going anywhere physically, but he understood just how much I was hurt by his turning to porn in the first place and then the systems of the addiction - which pretty much make your partner feel like the scum of the earth. He has taken seriously the fact that part of how my self esteem was torn down was by his actions, he is aggressively pursuing me the way he did when we first met. He is like a teenager trying to win the heart of his first love and it is nice being pursued.
7. The number one thing he has done is demonstrated that he completely understands just how much he hurt me. I think this is one of the things I am most grateful about, because sometimes when I read the forum I see many PA do not realize what they do to their partners. I have been get going with my recover because I am not stuck at "angry". Believe me, I have been angry - very angry. But, I have been able to move on from that and get to reconnecting and rebuilding.
8. The number two thing he has done is worked hard with me to help protect our children from falling into the rabbit hole of porn. We talked with our tween about what porn is and why to avoid it, we put filters on the computers, we are focused on openly showing them a healthy marriage so they don't get caught up.

For those PA that are wondering what they can do for their spouse I would say:
1. Acknowledge just how much your PA affected your spouse. Addiction doesn't just hurt you, it hurts them. On some levels, it can hurt them even more because they got all the bad stuff with none of the shots of dopamine or other "happy" feelings. It is one thing to suffer from an addiction that at least made you feel good part of the time. Your spouse is suffering and never once was able to feel "good" during the process.

2. Be aggressive in your recovery. It isn't just about avoiding porn - if you had a partner/spouse you also engaged in lying, deceit, and other negative traits. Avoiding porn does nothing to deal with deception and lies.

3. Be open about the recovery process. When you are married, this isn't just your recovery - this recovery affects your partner as well. Hiding the recovery process and what goes along with it (the highs and the lows) can look/feel exactly the same as when you were hiding porn. It again goes back to stopping the deception and lies.

4. Be open about what your triggers are/were that led you to porn and actively and openly figure out what to put in place of those things. If frustration is what led you to porn, what are you going to do when you get frustrated now? Tell your partner and if it is something that doesn't sit well with your partner, find something else. For instance, a PA might say, "I used to turn to porn when I got frustrated, but now I am going to go to they gym." Guess what? To your partner, you will still be doing the same thing - going off to a secret place whenever you get frustrated and they are supposed to just trust that you are really at the gym instead of jacking off to porn in a park somewhere? If the trust is not built up yet, a different frustration solution might going for a run with your spouse or working out at home in a room with the door open so your partner can see that you are doing what you said you were.

5. This leads to the next thing - realize that you will need to win back trust. In the early days of recovery (and early might mean different things for different people depending on how long the addiction was) - you don't get the benefit of the doubt. Your lies and deceptions cut very, very deeply. Many people say (me included) the lies hurt worse than the porn. We trusted you and you completely took that trust and threw it away. Be ready to start over in regaining that trust, and trust is only gained by being trustworthy. Being trustworthy only happens when you say you are going to do something and your partner checks and confirms you actually did it. Your word alone is not good enough anymore and that is a consequence that you have to be ready to accept.

6. Support your spouses recovery. I get that recovering from porn addiction is hard. However, I cannot even begin to express just how important my husband supporting my recovery from betrayal has been. Think of it like this, the more support you give your partner in their recovery, the more your partner will be better able to support you in your recovery. I see many people complain about their partner not being very supportive - maybe it is because they can't support you right now. They are so broken and battered there is nothing left with which to help you. Support them and help to build them back up and they will be able to support you more fully. Supporting your spouses recovery includes a lot of things. The first is being open and honest about your recovery. The second is showing them openly what you are doing to avoid going back to porn. Another is building back up their self worth. Give them honest compliments on the little things. Try to re-establish intimacy without sex. Hold them in your arms, cuddle with them, smile at them, blow them kisses, flirt. Them move on to gentle kisses and build from there. Yes, absolutely have sex, but don't forget to talk about the sex afterwards. Your partner will be self conscious about sex as you recover. Let them know what went well, "Wow, I felt so much more sensation than I have before." or "It felt so good to just be with you and sharing this bed and this experience again. I look forward to every time getting better and better as I learn to love you more fully." They want to know that you enjoyed it, because as you are recovering you may still have ED/DE systems and those things can really do a number on your partners head. Show your partner you want to see them satisfied sexually as well. This should just be about "you" enjoying sex again, your partner was deprived of good sex during you addiction too. Do what you can to satisfy them and show them you are dedicated to making sure their needs are met.

7. Apologize. You can't really do this until you truly understand just how deeply you hurt them. You may be apologizing more than once for various things. Apologize for all the years you all missed being intimate and connected while you were using porn. Apologize for making your spouse feel unattractive or unloved. Apologize for leaving them in bed lonely while you looked at the computer. Apologize for making them find out by becoming a detective what was really going on. Apologize for trying to get needs met outside the marriage. There will be dozens and dozens of things you can and should apologize for, but only after you truly realize what those things did to your partner.

8. Actively work to make the relationship better than it was before the addiction. My spouse turned to porn after we were married when we hit a rough patch. We both realize that we needed a better way to deal with the up and downs or relationships. Some people were addicted to porn even before they got married. Whatever your situation, there was something in the relationship (not the partner, the way the relationship worked) that caused porn to have a place. Work to actively fill the relationship with good, healthy, fun aspects so there is no place for porn. Learn about your partner, learn about yourself, see how both of you can be fulfilled and happy by making the relationship fun, interesting, and exciting for both of you.

9. Thank your partner. They could have left you, they might even feel like they should have left you. Thank them for staying by your side instead of leaving. It was a hard choice and you need to show your appreciation.

10. Win them back.

Partners of Rebooters and Addicts / 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.

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