Thursday, March 23, 2017

It’s Not Personal



I’m continuing with my series, After Disclosure. My previous post was on Compartmentalization. If anyone would like to suggest a topic, please feel free to post it in the comment section or send me an email and rest assured, you will remain anonymous.

This week I’m going to try to tackle a topic that was very hard for me to wrap my head around: It’s Not Personal.

Sex addiction isn’t about the sex. That’s what they tell you when you go in and meet a C-SAT (Certified-Sex Addiction Counselor) for the first time. It’s an intimacy disorder. Um, what? It’s got the word sex in the name, how can it not be about sex? Was this doctor we were seeing off his rocker? Was he really certified in this crap? Then, to top it off, my husband was telling me it wasn’t personal: the porn, the online affairs, the chat rooms, even the two encounters he had with women in person…none of it meant a thing to him.

How was this even remotely possible? Because I had been stuck in such a state of hypervigilance for so long (I don’t recommend this for anyone because you can’t un-see what you find), I knew that some of those online affairs had lasted for a year or more. How was that not personal? Yet, he insisted he had no feelings for any of the women he’d been involved with. Of course my immediate reply was B.S. You can’t talk to anyone for that long, in that way, and not feel something.

Still, he continued to insist he felt nothing. That the women were merely objects to him. It wasn’t until I sat down with him one day and we went over what I dubbed, “The List.” It had all the women’s names and information on an Excel spreadsheet. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly in a healthy place after disclosure. I mean, who would be, right? I had Relational Trauma. I had PTSD from this mess. 

Each cell on the list contained what transpired between the woman and Devin. When a question popped into my head, out came The List and the interrogation between us began. And Devin put up with it because he was doing anything to try to repair our broken marriage.

During one such discussion, I asked him about a woman he’d exchanged emails with for a few months. The emails were pages long. I felt he must’ve invested hours thinking of her while he composed them. When I asked about her, he couldn’t remember her name at all. We were at a point after disclosure where there was no reason for him to hold back anything. I already knew the worst of everything, so I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t be forthcoming about a person’s name. Then, I gave him her email address. Light bulb moment. That’s how he remembered her. Her email address. Just another email in his inbox. And he didn’t spend a ton of time on the emails. They’d been cut and pasted from somewhere.

Now it was my light bulb moment. He really didn’t put any emotional investment into these women. They were a means to an end. A way for him continue to numb his emotions the way I numbed mine with drugs before I got sober. It started to make a bit of sense that this disease truly was an intimacy disorder despite the name it had been given.

It allowed me to start to see the things he’d done in our marriage in a new light. Yes, the pain was still there, but it helped me gain a better perspective on his disease. The escalation of his addiction had caused him to do some damaging things, but now it was time to learn how to heal from that betrayal.

Have you ever had a profound light bulb moment?






30 comments:

  1. That would be a hard one to wrap your head around. It's like the two leads in a romantic film - how can they spend months filming and their relationship not grow and escalate?

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    1. What a great comparison, Alex. I often wondered the same thing. Especially on long running television series. They spend hours upon hours filming together. I guess it goes back to compartmentalization too.

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  2. Very interesting! And oh yes, I've had plenty of my own lightbulb moments too. Always such a revelation!

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    1. Thank you, Debra. I love light bulb moments. Well, most light bulb moments. ;)

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  3. I've heard/read stuff Tiger Woods has said about his sex addiction and that he doesn't see anything wrong with it when he has no feelings for the woman, 'It's just sex'.

    I did have a lightbulb moment in college. I was young and naive, and while I really had nothing against gay people, my parents used to say they were 'sick' and were to be pitied. I went to a Catholic college for 2 years and homosexuality was not tolerated. Then I transferred to Emerson College in Boston, which is a performing arts school. The gay men didn't bother me but I was uncomfortable a little bit around the lesbian students but I tried to play it cool. But one day I was sitting on the steps with my friend Wendy, just shooting the shit between classes. A girl walked by on the street and Wendy said, 'We used to be best friends....till she found out I was gay'. I didn't know Wendy was a lesbian up to that moment. It hit me, she's my friend & I enjoy her company...why would I stop liking her now just cause she's gay? I said to her, 'I guess she wasn't really a friend then.'

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    1. If what I'm reading what you're saying Woods' said correctly, than I'm not digging that at all. To me at least, it seems that it shows a lack of a healthy recovery. Hopefully, he said that when he was in the beginning of his recovery or he's in a better recovery now and has better insight. Then again, I only know his story from what I read in the news. Maybe I have it all wrong?

      Thank you for sharing your story about your friend, Wendy. I'm so glad you were able to have that light bulb moment and be there for her, especially because that was probably during a time when it wasn't easy for her and she probably needed your support. Such a feel good story.

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  4. If he didn't remember her name, she didn't rate as very important.

    It's it amazing and sometimes scary how the human brain deals with things?

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    1. Agreed, Diane. None of them did. That's what was so hard for me to understand. I just couldn't wrap my head around it because of all the trauma/PTSD I was going through at the time. I agree, the brain is fascinating. If I didn't have migraines, I'd go back to school and get my degree in psychology :)

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  5. Sure shows that things aren't always what they seem at first glance. The brain sure goes in many a way. Most of my light bulb moments have been "duh, idiot" moments when I realize something simple that I thought was a pain.

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    1. The brain really does some wild things during the throes of addiction. Oh my gosh, that's so funny, Pat, most of my light bulb moments are like that too. Face palm moments.

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  6. I commend you for your forthrightness and patience. I am not sure I could do it....probably couldn't. I have had light bulb moments for sure and it literally felt like my brain exploded and a light beamed in.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. This whole experience taught me how strong I truly I am, only because I had no other option. I feel we each have that strength within when we need it. Those light bulb moment can be quite powerful!

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  7. Intellectually, it's something I can understand. But from the other side, even when we weren't a couple anymore, but "my guy" moved onto (and, uh, into) someone else, I was ready to commit atrocities. Of course not really. While it's easy for the betrayer to say it wasn't personal, it's not easy to hear and work through. You're an exceptional wife, woman and friend. Love ya.

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    1. Intellectually and emotionally are two very different things. Also I feel, there's a big difference between a person who cheats and doesn't have a sex addiction and a person who cheats just because. Love you too, my friend.

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  8. Very enlightening for me ~ I appreciate the honesty and courage to face this Elsie ~

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    1. Thank you, Grace. I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

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  9. Hi Elsie - you are putting these ideas down so well for us to at least get an understanding of the view points - I'd certainly never have thought this way ... thanks for sharing with us - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary. Thank you for your kind words. I hope to help others who are going through what I did understand it a bit more.

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  10. There are some people I wish would have some light bulb moments.

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    1. Yeah, unfortunately it doesn't work that way. People have to find them on their own.

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  11. There have been light bulb moments for me too, just wish that with some people it happened sooner.


    www.ficklemillennial.com

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    1. Light bulb moments can be such great teaching tools, it's always good when they happen for us.

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  12. Elsie you are an amazing woman. I honestly don't know how you do it. I have had many light bulb moments. Some Aha moments and other moments when I guess I am lucky that I haven't had to deal with something of this magnitude in my marriage. In addiction I have read many stories of those in recovery. Recovery is staying clean and/or free of our compulsive or addictive behaviors. Recovery is one big room we've entered called healthy living. Your posts give others facing sex addiction hope.

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    1. I appreciate the kudos, although I don't see myself as amazing at all. I'm a chick who was given an opportunity to turn things around in my life and my marriage, so I took it. Finally. Things could've gone many different ways: I could've chosen not to recover, Devin could've chosen not to recover, but we each did, and it worked out for us. I wish it did for everyone. It takes a ton of work and it's really scary too. Who wants to be vulnerable and feel stuff? I sure didn't for far too long but it wasn't working out well for me and I knew things had to change and I was the only one that could make that change for me, not Devin and same for him too. Blessed is a better way to describe it. I agree with you, it is a lifestyle change for sure, it's all about living healthy. Well said.

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  13. Let's see.. a profound light bulb moment... I guess I stopped believing in heaven at the age of 7 when my Grandpa died and I realized people loved themselves so much they believed the entire universe revolved around them. That was my light bulb bursting, actually.

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    1. The death of a loved one is a profound light bulb moment for many people. I'm so sorry for the loss of your Grandpa. I only had one grandmother, but wasn't close to her for various reasons. My kids were devastated when their grandfather passed. They were very close to him. It was the first time I saw my middle child sob uncontrollably and I saw how much it changed their life going forward. It's bittersweet I think, isn't it? To love someone so much, it pains you so deeply when they are gone. I'm sorry you went through that at such a young age.

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  14. Your blog helps me see things differently, like most people who know jack shit about additions of any type let alone a sex addiction I would not have known it wasn't about sex or that it wasn't personal now I do you have enlightened me and I thank you for that

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    1. Thank you, Jo-Anne. I sure thought it was all about sex. I mean, c'mon, it's in the name of the disease!

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  15. I think some things we fixate on are not actually much to do with something deeper within us. And then there is the matter of pleasure for pleasure's sake. It's probably like eating just for the pleasure of the act and some indefinite expectations regarding the act and nothing to do with the food itself.


    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I agree, Arlee. I think for each individual, the act itself and the reason behind it will be vastly different. Some things are done for pleasure, others are done out of habit, others boredom, and still others may stem from addiction.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.