Author Topic: Article on addiction  (Read 2098 times)

Gracie

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Article on addiction
« on: August 31, 2017, 06:32:27 AM »
I am posting this here as sometimes some SOs do not read elsewhere in the forum.  There is a great article about the science of addiction in the new September National Geographic.  It is very good.  You can recognize what happens in porn addiction.  It especially talks about triggers.  Good read.

Emerald Blue

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Re: Article on addiction
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2017, 05:57:29 PM »
Thanks Gracie. It's a very interesting article, even if it's not specific to porn/sex addiction. It would appear that all addictions including behavioural addictions share a similar process.

For those interested, here's the link to the article
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/09/the-addicted-brain/

I'd also like to let everyone know that there is a new podcast/online radio show, The Butterfly Nation, specifically for partners of porn and sex addicts. I've mentioned it before it started. There are now three episodes that are available for download via the iTunes Store as a podcast. You can also access all the episodes at https://www.thebutterflyhabit.com/#/the-butterfly-nation/

The two women who produce the podcast are both ex partners of porn and sex addicts and speak from a partner's perspective. In their most recent episode, Alison and Sandy said that they will be working through the 13 Dimensions of Sex Addiction Induced Trauma in future episodes. I posted a link to this study a few weeks ago but here it is again:
http://theinstituteforsexualhealth.com/thirteen-dimensions-of-sex-addiction-induced-trauma-sait-among-partners-and-spouses-impacted-by-sex-addiction/

The most recent episode dealt with Discovery Trauma. Interestingly, Sandy referred to Paula Hall's book for partners as being specifically helpful. I have to say, Paula's book was the one that really spoke to me during the aftermath of d day.

The Butterfly Nation is the first podcast that I'm aware of that deals specifically with the partner experience. There are some great podcasts for addicts (Sex Addictions & Porn Afflictions and Porn Free Radio) that occasionally focus on the partner's experience, and that's great too, but not as candidly as this one because after all, those excellent podcasts are geared towards addicts. And we're not addicts. Well done to Alison and Sandy for making something just for partners.
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

stillme

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Re: Article on addiction
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2017, 06:46:19 AM »
EB,
Thanks for the articles you posted. I particularly liked the one from the Institute for Sexual Health. I think that Dimension 5 in particularly is of utter importance. Part of it states:

Furthermore, it is imperative to note that because the addict is the “identified patient”, the partner or spouse often may end up “holding down fort” and being “the together one” in the early stages of the process.  This may result in a profound submerging of trauma, a form of extreme traumatic constriction based on survival.  It may only be when the conditions have stabilized, or there is actual increased safety or functionality in the sex addict or family system, and the perpetration and abuse (SAIP) stops, before a partner could ever contact or metabolize her traumatic fragmentation and dissociative experiences.  This SA-induced traumatic submergence is a characteristic of this dimension of trauma and needs to be accounted for in both conceptualization and clinical intervention and treatment.
The omission of recognizing the external and practical stressors that the injured partner may have to manage, such as “holding down fort”, while traumatized, often induces or exacerbates SAIT.  The seeming assumption that the partner is “functional and obligated” becomes disorienting in light of the partner’s subjective and actual experience of self.  This is often linked with ego-fragmentation, which both perceives and adapts to reality.  Thus, essentially, it is often during a critical injury of ego trauma, that the partner is then implicitly mandated to perform gender-based or parent-based obligations.  This can sometimes link to gender wounds in that often women are taken for granted for this “work” (gender-based trauma) and in the context of experiencing SAIT, this “normal work” can become a source of trauma exacerbation and/or include traumatic incidents and processes (Minwalla, 2012) based on external crisis and destabilization (Jason, 2009).

This, is honestly, the biggest issue that I have faced. Both in real life as well as in this forum when feeling attacked by others. The concept is this - when the shit hit the fan with porn addiction/sex addiction - all focus was on the addict. My husband was in crisis and needed to use the vast majority of his energy to actively fight the addiction. While he was doing that - I had to keep the ship upright. We have children, a household, and just 'life' itself. I didn't even truly, honestly get a chance to deal with my particular trauma in the moment. If we were both focused on ourselves, who would be raising the kids? Who would be helping with homework, getting people to soccer practice, making sure everyone is fed and clothed, making sure the house is clean?

Once my husband got through his first 90 days, then 180, then a year with no relapse, I could finally be honest about the truth of my trauma. The not only emotional and mental trauma, but the physical issues (headaches, back pain - like absolute severe pain with no 'physical' cause other than stress). But, at that point, he felt things were overcome, things were good. He couldn't understand why I was walking around now 'suddenly' bitter and angry and complaining of being tired. I thought I was finally going to be safe and have someone that was ready to carry the load, and carry me, the way that I had carried him. Unfortunately, he was ready to 'move on'. He was ready for fun and sunshine and rainbows. It was like, because I had buried the true impact of the trauma I experienced for so long, I should be 'over it'.

He wasn't mean, he was honestly just confused. He couldn't understand why I was being so sensitive. He couldn't understand why "all of a sudden" I was being emotional or frustrated or feeling overwhelmed. What was more, even on this forum - the focus was all about how we should be ready to forgive and one can 'hold a grudge for too long' and all other sort of dismissive ideals. It was like, people were extremely understanding of the porn addicts need to focus fully on recovering from the addiction. But, little account was taken with what a partner that had to take up the slack had to do. Yes, we talk about taking care of ourselves, but the reality is - someone had to come last when there are kids in the home. I carried my household on my back not only through my partner's addiction, but through his recovery. When I was finally ready to hand things off so I could truly, honestly heal - I found a man that had pretty much become a narcissist. Not in the bad, manipulative sort of way, but in the way that he really and truly cannot think of anyone but himself. Even when he tries to do something for me, it ends up being things that make him feel good about what he did, rather than something that I really needed.

I have gotten to the point where it has become clear that I am never going to get what I want and need out of the marriage relationship. He just doesn't have anything to give. I am glad that I stuck by him through his recovery, I would never let my children around an active porn addict that was starting to act out sexually with prostitutes and going on dating websites looking for hookups. He would have not been legally able to have a relationship with his children if he was still an active porn/sex addict. But, it has been hard realizing that there wasn't a 'happy ending' at the end of the rainbow for me. I am holding out hope that once my children are grown, I have finally have an opportunity to truly go out into the world and experience what life may have to offer. I am trying to keep myself healthy so that there will still be some life left for me to live once I have put in the hard work of raising kids.

This 'after trauma' is so real, especially for those that didn't get an opportunity to truly deal with their trauma in the beginning because they had to be the 'adult'.

Emerald Blue

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Re: Article on addiction
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 09:05:33 AM »
Stillme, you have worked so hard at everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. The discovery/disclosure process, supporting your husband, looking after the family and all the while unable to address your own needs, feelings, wants, etc, which are just as valid as everyone else's.

As much as this community has been an absolute lifeline for partners in distress, I also understand what you are saying about the less than constructive criticism we have at times been subjected to. I think the root cause is the lack of recognition of partner trauma and the impact that porn addiction has on a relationship, whether the addiction is known or not.

To say "it's not personal" doesn't address partner trauma. Dopamine theories and scientific explanations of addiction don't address relationship issues such as trust and communication. Flatlines and 'morning wood' aren't particularly relevant to partners especially in a marriage where there wasn't much sex anyway. Then there's 'forgiveness'. Yes, we can forgive but it's a slow process that happens in stages. It's not our duty to 'forgive' just because our spouse decides quit. Until we have full disclosure we can't forgive what we don't know about. We can forgive, but only when we're ready. It's OK to feel angry at being lied to. It's OK to feel angry when your partner's energies have been directed towards seeking cheap thrills in seedy places and then comes home and tells you the train was late.

Partners have some very difficult emotions to process. It's not just in the weeks and months after d day. A year or two later it's like you have to come to terms with post d day trauma. It becomes a significant and protracted period of trauma in its own right. You don't know the truth from the lies. Your gut tells you one thing, your husband tells you something else, and then you discover your hunch was correct and then your husband gets mad at you for not believing his lies... it really fucks with your head. My husband was no different from any other addict who got busted. Everything he did post d day was textbook. My reactions were typical for most partners.

This section should always acknowledge the specific needs of partners. Partners should be able to express their feelings about and experiences of being in a relationship with an addict without fear of criticism, judgment or ridicule. We certainly don't need to be told that our feelings and reactions to our situation are wrong. The partner experience is very complex and completely different and separate from the addict's experience. The recovery processes are very different. In some ways, we are the first generation of women to have become the partners of porn addicts in the internet age, and also in a culture which has become overly sexualised. Chances are, when we were growing up there was no access a free and endless supply of pornography in everyone's home. Our experiences have so far been unknown and undocumented. That seems to be changing. We shouldn't be afraid to express ourselves here.
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it

stillme

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Re: Article on addiction
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2017, 06:05:05 AM »
Thanks Emerald Blue!
I think it is hitting me a bit hard because my entire focus was on hitting that one year mark. Well, the one year mark has come and gone and while one year was what it took for my husband to fully and completely give up porn (I think, I stopped playing detective around the six month mark), what triggered me the most in these past four to five months is how little 'my' reward is for this terrible journey.

I have just never been a fake person. It is hard to admit that if I had known fourteen years ago, that this is what my marriage would look like today, I would not have married my husband. It is hard to admit that the efforts I put in to save this marriage just honestly don't feel worth it. I am glad that he was able to kick the porn habit. The marriage was failing badly as a result of the porn, so the only inkling of hope we had was for the porn use to be gone. He also would not have been allowed to freely co-parent if he was still using porn, getting sex acts performed by with prostitutes, and using real contact information on dating sites. That would have put my children in danger. So, thankfully for him - he had conquered that aspect.

What he has not been able to fully come to terms with is that - I was never attracted to him because of looks or money or athletic ability. What drew me to my husband was that he was a 'good guy'. They say that, 'girls like bad boys', but that honestly and truly wasn't the case for me. What I wanted was someone honest, someone I could trust, someone who had the same values and moral compass that I had. I had always said, from the beginning, that one thing I cannot tolerate is a liar. Lying is one of the most nasty, disgusting, harmful things a person can do in my eyes. It is the foundation of every single other harmful behavior. You can't do most other harmful things without first being a liar. To find out that not only was my husband a liar, but he was a GOOD liar. It wasn't until he moved to really acting out and it changed so many other aspects of his life did I even have a clue. He had told me when we got together he didn't even look at porn. Even though he had subscriptions to Playboy back in his college days, participated in lap dances and other such things in his college days. I am not a prude and understand young people have wild days, that would not have been a deal breaker with me. But, the fact that he just flat out lied about his life - for our entire marriage. Like, what play the role of the sexually innocent small town boy when you were getting lap dances at frat parties? And, lap dances at frat parties ten years ago would not have been a deal breaker with me at the time.

The idea that he could carry on an entirely other life, right under my nose, was traumatizing. Texting webcam girls while sitting on the couch with me. Rushing to put my kids to bed so he could have pre-scheduled virtual sex sessions with online prostitutes. Using medical appointments as cover to get a blow job from a prostitute - just a week after my birthday, just wow.

Now that his crisis is over, I finally have time to think. What he can't understand is that I didn't just need a guy who didn't use porn anymore. I was going to take a lot of hard work to overcome all the craziness he did with porn and sex addiction. Especially because, what I feel in love with about him was that fact that I could trust him. I felt like I could share my deepest thoughts, hurts, dreams, fantasies with this person. I thought I knew him just as deeply as he knew me. Then I found out, he had an entirely 'other' life. It is like I was living with a stranger.

His idea was for us to 'start over', without understanding that if we were starting over today, I would never pick him. He is trying desperately to get me to stay in the marriage, but doing all the wrong things. The truth is, the only reason he is still in the house is because of the kids. But, I think I am doing more harm than good by letting him stay. I want to show the kids a happy and healthy marriage and this isn't it. I think the best thing I can show my kids is that life doesn't require you to be a martyr. I did my part, I stuck with him through his lowest points. I supported him in his biggest time of need.

Now, I want my life back. I want to look forward to my days ahead. I am just not looking forward to a life with him at this point.

Emerald Blue

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Re: Article on addiction
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2017, 10:55:59 AM »
It's actually not so straightforward when you ask yourself what should your recovered, healthy relationship look like. You can look back to a time of 'innocence' in the early days but you soon come to realise that the addiction was present in an early or dormant phase, so there is no 'going back'. That would be unrealistic and unhealthy, not to mention the fact that we all are in different life stages now. Any future relationship has to accommodate the reality of what happened, the damage to the relationship and an acknowledgment that the addiction requires lifelong vigilance to avoid any repetition of all the things that contributed to keeping the addiction going. That's neither easy nor straightforward. Even if we choose to end the relationship, we would still have to heal from being in a relationship that undermined us on a very fundamental level. There is no 'do nothing' option and that's the salt in the wound — that it was a behaviour deliberately kept hidden and of someone else's choosing, but we're the ones paying for it.

Relationship recovery isn't straightforward. Most addicts seem to be running scared from the painful issues that have either driven their behaviour or have arisen from it. If they experience emotional pain they will gravitate towards escapism because that's what they've always done. If they're asked a difficult question they choose to lie as the easy way out because that's what they've always done. To them it's normal. It's almost as if they have no awareness. I've rarely seen the textbook perfect recovery in anyone's account. If it's too good to be true, it usually is.

There's working at recovery, and there's working at the appearance of recovery. My partner was naturally inclined to work on creating the appearance of recovery very early on but it soon became apparent to him that I was not prepared to go along with clever words and 'nice guy' routines. He made a big mistake by agreeing to be honest and then answering every question with a lie because that pretty much exposed him as a liar. After that, I had no reason to believe anything he said. In some respects, crazy as it may sound, it turned out to be the best foundation for recovery because it made me probe and question everything. It forced me to redefine trust. It probably pushed me into redefining my own values and helped me realise (eventually) that my own personal recovery was not about the relationship with my husband but about the relationship I have with myself. Right now, it's my personal recovery that matters. My partner has had so much of my focus and emotional energy for so long and I can't 'give' much more right now. I need to take some time for myself and it's only in the past two weeks that I've realised that I don't think much about my own quality of life, I don't do much of the things that make me feel good, I don't really nurture myself. Yet all these things are essential to my recovery.

Perhaps this is yet another 'stage' of recovery. It was only recently that I realised that I had to recover my sexuality from the addiction and the neglect that was a consequence of the addiction, and that it isn't defined or even allowed to exist in terms set out by the addiction, as was the case for years. Now I'm actually looking at other the areas of my life that fell by the wayside. Much of this recovery can only take place with a degree of healthy detachment from the relationship.

Recovery, whatever that means, is hugely complex for partners. It doesn't matter if we're in a relationship or out of one, it's something we can't avoid. In some respects I resent it because the addiction was something that existed outside of me yet here I am dealing with the damage it caused.
His porn addiction: you didn't cause it - you can't control it - you can't cure it