How I really feel!

I am open to the ideas of others and try to set aside my filters to truly listen to other view points. I do know that it is not easy to do, for any of us. Still, trying to predict what filters may be in place for others, trying to write to ensure that such filters do not get in the way of understanding, is too big of an expectation to put upon myself. After all, an important component to coming through this shit storm is that authenticity needs to be the guiding star on this journey. So, with that being said, here is how I really feel.

I am not a fan of the prevalent idea in the reconciliation community that most, if not all, serial cheaters are sex addicts (SA) and that such a diagnosis, accompanied by twelve-step, is the only path forward. In MC’s case, to make such a label fit would require too broad of a definition, overshadowing specific issues that needed to be targeted and addressed, specifically his (a) victim mentality, (b) excessive desire for external validation, (c) complete inability to self-validate, (d) fundamental misogynistic attitudes about what it takes to be a man and what is acceptable and desirable in a wife, (e) obsessive focus on himself, (f) obsessive focus on his self-pity and (g) avoidance of and cowardice toward conflict.

I do also see, time and again, those in SA twelve step programs being encouraged to, or at least not being discouraged from, using their shame and addiction as a shield from the anger of their spouse, as well as the potential of being guided by people who themselves are not healthy people. SA twelve-step and being there for the betrayed spouse do not have to be mutually exclusive, and yet, too often that is exactly what happens. Still, I also recognize that there is value to be found within a group setting.

As long as it doesn’t turn into another mechanism for reinforcing self-pity, a continuation of a victim-mentality, conflict-avoidance and self-absorbed pursuits, I can see value to a group dynamic to treatment and therapy. In fact, I think a sense of community and belonging to combat the isolation of both the cheater and betrayed is THE positive element of twelve-step.

But, I am bothered by the mantra that “AN SA DIAGNOSIS AND TWELVE-STEP ARE A MUST FOR RECOVERY.”  Sex addiction and twelve-step are one path, but not the only path. Why is that so threatening to some? We too want a sense of community to combat the isolation. It is part of the reason for this blog.

 

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9 thoughts on “How I really feel!

  1. After attending six SA meetings, H and his therapist agreed that H is more likely just a very troubled, selfish asshole than he is “addicted”. He is still working weekly with his therapist and I see him making effort to change, even though he says things that set me off sometimes. Not that I think going through the 12 steps would hurt him, but as long as he realizes he has to make the change, and he’s accepting help, I’m not sure it matters how he does it. Well anyway, he knows the consequences for more acting out, so he can either change or not change.
    ☀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sunshine, thinking of you and hoping your husband truly gets his head out of his ass for both of your sakes!!!

      I think you are right that the method is not as important as the will, motivation and actions to get their head on straight. I do think community is important and not feeling isolated on the path forward. I guess I just get a bit frustrated with the lack of support out there, unless you go the SA/12-step route.

      Ultimately, whatever the route, it is up to them to change. Sending good thoughts and lots of support your way!!! TL xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband, (4 long term love affairs, 40 women over ten years of schmoozing on his coffee,drinks lunch dinner list) you think how can he not be a sex addict? Something is certainly wrong with him! A psychologist, a psychiatrist, his long term therapist and now his new family therapist ALL say that they doubt he fits into the sex addict criteria. Could be that in Australia there is a different view on this and I find it confusing and at certain times frustrating. Husband went to sex and love addiction meetings for a couple of months but did not like the fit. They were disorganised. Now he is going to sexaholics and doing his steps. At step 4. He finds this group a better fit in being organised. So, why is he going to do twelve steps? His long term therapist discharged him. Said he was in a good place and understanding of his immaturity and selfishness etc . In fact this therapist warned him about joining the 12 step programs because of the type of people he would associate with there and did not think they would be a good influence. His new marriage therapist also dismisses the sex addict and suggests a diagnosis of immature selfishness that was brought to light with discovery and knocked him to his senses.

    What path should an arsehole bastard with an immature egocentric character take then? Therapy? Marriage therapist says that doing 12 steps won’t do him any harm as it certainly knocks off the selfish validation he had leftover from childhood.

    I know I needed him to look at himself a bit more in depth and not have the attitude that trauma of discovery has brought him to his senses.
    Then again, what about a husband who has had a few ons and maybe a brief love affair? Does he just get a smack on the hand and all is ok because he had a tiny mid life crisis?

    I think any partner who cheats and lies needs to have a good close look at themselves . I don’t think sex addiction treatment is the way to go for everyone and every situation is going to be so different. A comment was made to me that a man who had a similar history to that of my husband was in 12 steps recovery and then had gone on to cheat on his wife again and therefore it was likely my husband would do that. He might and he might not but that opinion was certainly unwelcome and not based on anything concrete except a similar history of deceit.
    It is certainly an interesting topic for discussion but at the end of the day and in my husbands situation I think it is a case of doing what fits best and what feels best for everyone involved. Xxxx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. LAA,

      That’s just it, isn’t it, there are no groups for those trying to recover from being a Selfish, Oppressive/Obsessive (pick your ‘O’ both worked for MC), Bastard (SOB). There needs to be!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mmm, should be!

        There are certified arseholes and situational arseholes (borrowed from Sutton, not my words, don’t blame me). The first have a personality disorder and are not willing to change as they are perfect. We won’t see them in counseling as they only come when sent or court ordered and they come only once when their therapist is not in awe of them. They stay when they manage to manipulate their therapist. Needless to state that therapy is going to enable them rather than challenge them in that case. The latter, are reactors. They will want to change as the issue is situational (state and not trait). They act “out of character” and as a kneejerk response to a bad situation or to toxic people. We all are temporary arseholes at times, except for the saints. Different groups for different people. Do we give up on the certified ones…? maybe not, even if it was only purely for damage control.

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  3. Thanks! Great post!

    There is a WordPress blogger who looks critically at the 12-steps programs and who offers alternatives as he puts is so eloquently “it [the falling of the wagon thing] becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy” . I do not have the Blog name handy, but it made an impression.
    Although helpful to a large group of people with addictions such as drugs and alcohol, sex and eating is something different. Both are considered needs and statements such as to promise not to “lust”…might not be so helpful as it is all a matter of degree, boundaries and choices. AA and NA and related programs are not for everyone. similar as therapy, there has to be a connection and a approach need to be consistent with someone’s worldview.

    Elisabeth

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    1. Yes, learning healthy habits towards food and sex are essential. These are things that cannot just be eliminated from one’s life. It does seem that further research is needed to identify underlying diagnosis and treatment possibilities for such behavioral compulsivity. If twelve-step helps some, I certainly do not begrudge them that option. It just does not fit for us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a very good topic that definitely deserves more research – not only from us sufferers / bloggers but the true scientific community (I say true because I want to exclude those self-nominated recovered SAs who now think they can miraculously heal others without much history and training in psychology – there are just so many wankers out there!). So your husband might not be an SA, only an SOB. And there I say, my husband fits the SA criteria, BUT, isn’t he also just an SOB? Is sex addiction real at all? Or rather, is addiction the best way to describe it? Doubtful – it is not yet proven that it causes a physical addiction, it is more like behavioural problems. That’s why many question if the SA groups are the right way attack this condition. (1) the SA group approach basically took the AA and NA method and applied with not much change to sex addicts – without any significant research into the comparativeness of those conditions (2) the ‘sick leading sick in recovery’ is a real problem – my husband chose a sponsor who told him it’s normal to lie so he is using that to rationalize. Now, my question to him is, if his sponsor tells him it’s normal to slip / relapse (just like lying), will he do that, too – which is the same as you said: self fulfilling prophecy. There is such chaos in this field which is astonishing, considering what a super exciting subject this would make for any researchers. Plus, there is so much money in it, geez. I wonder why scientists don’t focus on this much more?!

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    1. I certainly encourage others to find the help that best targets their issues, their ability to heal, their ability to be supportive of their spouse in the trauma caused by such horrendous actions. I encourage spouses to find what works best for them as well. And, while that may very well be an SA diagnosis and twelve-step for some, it just isn’t for all. And, I think it is a bit isolating for those of us trying to heal the wounds and move forward on a healthier path to be told that our path must be wrong because it is not their path. I think you are so right MWS, more peer-reviewed research is so needed into potential diagnosis and effective treatments, including SA and 12-step.

      Liked by 2 people

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