Tag Archives: SOB syndrome

Today’s e-mail conversation


I love fried chicken. I love skiing. I love my cast iron skillet.

Those are all incorrect uses of the verb.

I like fried chicken more than I like other foods. I like skiing more than I like other activities. I like my cast iron skillet more than I like other cookware. I liked you more than I liked other people. I liked my children. I liked self-indulgence and flattery.

I do not love fried chicken. I do not love skiing. I do not love my cast iron skillet. I did not love you. I did not love Son1. I did not love Son2.

Then I learned what love is, and devoted significant time and energy to practicing it. I’m still working on it.

I love you. I love Son1. I love Son2. I love Dog.

I do need to control my frustrations. This has been a difficult topic for me to understand and to articulate.

Thank you for your patience.

TL: I’m not sure you even liked me. I certainly didn’t rate as one of your three favorite things.

MC: I liked you.  I am sorry I let that get lost in a mountain of jealousy, resentment, anger, and self-pity.

TL: You didn’t treat me like someone you liked.

MC: I know.  I was like a kid who does not take care of his toys, and then cries when they are broken or lost.

TL: Changing the word “love” to “like” doesn’t make it any more true.

MC: I disagree.  It’s what I’ve been trying to say all these years.

TL: Treating a human like a toy does not equate to loving or liking a human, only to liking an object. There is no relationship with an object. It is all one sided. I’m not an object.

MC: I know.  That’s one of the many problems I had.

TL: If you know, how can you claim to have even liked me (a person with my own thoughts and feelings). You only liked an image of me as an object, you never liked me.

MC: I guess that’s what I’m saying.  It was wrong of me.  I am sorry.  I am working to correct it.

TL: You didn’t like me. You didn’t love me. You only had occasional like or love for an object-like image of me that was actually never really me. And, then you spent years being angry at me for being me, not your object-like image. You liked fried chicken, you really did. You liked skiing, you really did. Not an image, but the reality of those things. You cannot say the same of me. In fact, you hated the real me.

MC: That’s basically true.   I am sorry.



SA or philanderer?

Just to be clear, though I think Sex Addiction (SA) is over diagnosed, I am not saying it is not a possibility. Still, as Peggy Vaughan pointed out, even Patrick Carnes said that in cases of infidelity, SA exists about 7% of the time. And, yet, it seems that the world around us has tacked on another 90% to that total. That being said, like Peggy Vaughan indicated, if a program requires stepping up and taking responsibility, addressing the issues at hand, then who cares the label, accepting help and following through is what is important.

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, who does recognize SA, still had this distinction to make:

“Sexual addicts are compulsively attracted to the high and the anxiety release of sexual orgasm. But such release comes with a price — feelings of shame and worthlessness. In contrast, philanderers who perceive extramarital sex as an entitlement of gender or status take advantage of opportunities without guilt or withdrawal symptoms.”

MC fully admits it was the later. That is very scary for him to admit and for me to know, but denying that truth helps nobody. An “I deserve” attitude fueled by a desire for ego kibbles, a sense of injustice, self-pity, a victim mentality or whatever the case may be can be addressed once admitted to by the cheater. Like SA, it is also a brokenness, but one that has to do with character weaknesses and a foundation of mysogynistic ideas that must be addressed.

The success or failure of our path forward, says absolutely nothing about the success or failure of anyone else’s path forward. That does not mean we cannot each share thoughts, ideas, and exercises from our own paths that we have found useful, that others may also find useful. I think that any exercises, from any source, that helps the cheater face their demons, and the betrayed work through their trauma, can be useful. Drawing from a variety of sources, listening, sharing and helping each other, with different perspectives and exercises that can get at core issues, promises greater understanding of ourselves and each other. We look forward to those conversations.




We talk of how MC suffers from SOB syndrome. Yes, partially it is making fun, but it is also reality. He was a Selfish Oppressive Bastard and we have a very specific description of what that means that is foundational to his recovery. We talk of how MC was truly sick. Not a sickness as in a disease, but sick because he was spiritually unsound and morally corrupt. He was a morally corrupt coward. This was his reality. Some may say that I lack compassion for discussing his reality in this way. I say that facing reality is a necessary part of recovery. Coddling MC, hiding from these truths, simply would enable a continued ignorance of these core problems, these core realities. These discussions are not weapons to hurt MC. In fact, these discussions are based on his descriptions of his motivating factors and fears throughout his life. We openly discuss these factors and fears, for him and for me. We are learning to walk by each other’s side through each of our pain, but ultimately each of us is responsible for healing our own pain within. And, I think this is the difference between compassion and enabling.

A compassionate person is neither a martyr, nor a messiah. Compassion walks with another in their pain, if and when they are ready to take that walk, but understands that they are not capable of fixing that pain for the other.  Compassion does not push, pull, or carry another into walking into their pain, but rather offers to walk by their side if they are willing to do so. Compassion does not allow the other to avoid natural consequences of not wanting to take that walk. Compassion does not sacrifice one’s own mental, emotional, spiritual and/or physical health and well being to do any of this.

Loving with an open hand by Ruth Sanford

A compassionate person, seeing a butterfly struggling to free itself from its cocoon, and wanting to help, very gently loosened the filaments to form an opening. The butterfly was freed, emerged from the cocoon, and fluttered about — but could not fly. What the compassionate person did not know was that only through the birth struggle can the wings grow strong enough for flight. Its shortened life was spent on the ground; it never knew freedom, never really lived.

I call it learning to love with an open hand. It is a learning which has come slowly to me and has been wrought in the fires of pain and in the waters of patience. I am learning that I must free one I love, for if I clutch or cling, try to control, I lose what I try to hold.

If I try to change someone I love because I feel I know how that person should be, I rob him or her of a precious right, the right to take responsibility for one’s own life and choices and way of being. Whenever I impose my wish or want or try to exert power over another, I rob him or her of the full realisation of growth and maturation; I limit and thwart by my act of possession, no matter how kind my intention.

I can limit and injure by the kindest acts of protecting – and protection or concern over-extended can say to the other person more eloquently than words, ‘You are unable to care for yourself; I must take care of you because you are mine. I am responsible for you’.

As I learn and practise more and more, I can say to one I love, ‘I love you, I value you, I respect you and I trust that you have or can develop the strength to become all that it is possible for you to become — if I don’t get in your way. I love you so much that I can set you free to walk beside me in joy and sadness’.

I will share your tears but I will not ask you not to cry. I will respond to your need, I will care and comfort you but I will not hold you up when you can walk alone. I will stand ready to be with you in your grief and loneliness but I will not take it away from you. I will strive to listen to your meaning as well as your words but I shall not always agree.

Sometimes I will be angry and when I am, I will try to tell you openly so that I need not resent our differences or feel estranged. I cannot always be with you or hear what you say for there are times when I must listen to myself and care for myself, and when that happens I will be as honest with you as I can be.

I am learning to say this, whether it be in words or in my way of being with others and myself, to those I love and for whom I care. And this I call loving with an open hand.  I cannot always keep my hands off the cocoon, but I am getting better at it!

I have absolutely no respect for the MC that I now know existed prior to d-day, that is true. But, I have an immense amount of respect for the person, for the man, he is working to become now. But, it is his work to do. And, when I really think through why I sometimes want to gently help the cocoon along, I can see that it may have more to do with my wanting a sense of control in the chaos, a sense of control over the future. It is hard to embrace uncertainty. But, in the end, keeping my hands off that cocoon is healthier for us both. I work hard to remember that, though admittedly sometimes it is easier said than done!

September 13th

Sunday, September 13, marks the 3rd year since I found out everything. It has been a hard week for me, maybe that is why. I don’t know? Really, that day marks the beginning of MC really getting his head out of his ass. But, it also marks the day that I found out that my blind faith trust in him was completely misplaced for many years. He has done a shit ton of work. I do see it and feel it.

Rosh Hashanah will begin on the evening of Sept. 13 this year. How appropriate, as it is a time of reflection. Reflecting on it all, it is clear that MC had an addiction to anger, resentment and self-pity stemming from his misogynistic view of gender roles and experiences that life just did not match. Before d-day, he spent his life on a “quest” to “right those wrongs,” while at the same time protecting his fragile ego from rejection and conflict at any costs.

Prior to d-day, he had absolutely no desire to change his ways. He didn’t regret his behavior, he didn’t think consequences would apply to him, and he thought he deserved experiences that he had been “denied” by the world around him. Unfortunately, it took d-day for MC to want to change, to want to become a man instead of a little boy who thought the world owed him something. And, I think it took the complete devastation of Sept. 13th, 2012 (ultimate d-day), to really start digging deep and rooting out the weeds, one-by-one, with professional help.

I do believe that whether we are discussing sex addiction, self-pity addiction, compulsive behaviors, OCD, ADD, SOB syndrome and/or something else, serial cheaters need serious outside professional help. I am a researcher by nature. I like numbers, facts, and results backed by peer-reviewed studies. Ultimately, as I reflect, I want reassurance, you know? And, yet there are no guarantees; that is the one fact I know in all of this and it drives me nuts. So, I look, I research, I look and research some more.

I found an interesting NIH study. Project Match studied 806 clients in five outpatient treatment centers, who were randomly assigned to three treatments: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), and 12-step Facilitation (TSF). Researchers also interviewed and assessed clients to rate them on relevant attributes. The most interesting point of the study to me, is that it found that of the 21 client attributes, two were the most powerful predictors of long-term success: readiness-to-change and self-efficacy. And, these by far, were more predictive of long-term success than the actual treatment model used. Overall, TSF, MET and CBT have had similar success and failure rates.

I do see his readiness-to-change and self-efficacy in his belief in making those changes to his thoughts and behaviors. I also see those weeds being pulled-out by the roots one-by-one over the last three years. I can see his dedication and work to develop and practice empathy and do feel the difference in his relationship with our children and with me. I want to recognize how far we’ve come, how far he has come. I don’t want Sept. 13 to represent horror, I want it to represent reflection and rebirth. Still, the horror of that day is a part of my psyche and no amount of research takes that away. Sigh. . .

Our steps, part one of many. . .

We say I have Selfish Oppressive Bastard (SOB) syndrome. Selfishness was clearly a problem for me, extending beyond the realm of sex and relationships.  “Oppressive ” refers to my misogynistic tendencies, so deeply ingrained in me that I didn’t recognize them until very recently.

TL and I have worked together to support her through the trauma and to work on my problems very intensely, with professional help, for nearly three years now. Our first therapist recommended Cairns.  After reading Out of the Shadows and some other work of Cairns, we discussed with our therapist the many things that did just not add up for me.  Cairns spent a lot of time describing men who just could not control their actions regarding sex, a process that included preoccupation, ritualization and despair that are an overpowering part of the addiction cycle. That wasn’t me. If opportunities presented themselves, I took them. But, I did not look at every woman as a potential opportunity. Though, I certainly have obsessive-compulsive tendencies and a history of impulsiveness, each time I cheated or lied, I did so based on a conscious decisions with little regret for the behavior, nor desire to stop.  For me, it all boiled down to the fact that when opportunity was there, I was willing, ready and able. Hence, why we call it Selfish Oppressive Bastard (SOB) Syndrome.

So, here’s the steps we’ve taken so far.  Step one was a system-shock.  With D-day, all the consequences I had spent years ignoring came to full bloom instantly, right before my eyes.  TL was deeply hurt, my actions caused her to be traumatized and she almost left me.  I could no longer hide the consequences from myself.  They were real.  It felt the same way I might feel if I stepped out my front door and saw a vampire.  Vampires are not real, right?

But there it is, standing in front of me, staring me in the face, and refusing to go back from whence it came.  The only thing I could do is learn to live with the vampire.  But, I did know exactly why the vampire was there, exactly which of my choices summoned it into existence.  I knew, at least, that I didn’t ever again want to do, say, or think anything that might summon another vampire.

Selfish-Oppressive-Bastard (SOB) syndrome

Not all serial cheaters are sex addicts, some are simply SOBs! What is an SOB? We use the term “Selfish Oppressive (Obsessive would also work) Bastard” (SOB) Syndrome to describe MindlessCraft’s addiction to self-pity, entitlement and using those as a weapon not only to justify and rationalize his inappropriate thoughts and behaviors, but as a weapon against me, against us (and what he realizes with sickening clarity now) against himself. It is not only because the actual acronym we all know and love is actually accurate. But, because SOB syndrome indicates a pathology of selfishness, self-pity, entitlement and oppressive behaviors in an attempt to build ego. And, bastard, well that is just fitting for someone who made choices based on the previous motivations.

I shared everything about myself with my husband before we married thinking he was my best friend, only to be blindsided with his obsessive insecurities after marriage. I thought sharing things that happened before our relationship was about the desire to share all of ourselves openly, safely and freely. MC turned that against me, thinking he had a right, an entitlement, to have obsessive destructive thoughts about my life before him. He did not just compare himself to me, but to others as well. He looked outside of himself for validation. He used a metric that was misogynistic, constantly comparing himself to others, never counting his blessings and letting his life choices be fueled by these sick obsessive comparisons and the resulting self-pity. To MC, the glass of his life was not just half-empty, but it was cracked and leaking too.

He used to badger me about my past. When we would be intimate, he would badger me about how I knew to do this or that, I wasn’t doing ANYTHING. If we didn’t have sex, he would badger me about not enough sex. It was a lose-lose, no matter what I did. Our sex life suffered. I ignored so much. The fact that he would get pouty if I would do anything mechanical. I had grown-up helping my dad fix the car. I was a wiz at wiring any electronics, stereos, etc. . .I liked to use my hands. I loved to solve puzzles, I was great in math. I liked to be a free-spirit, but was also exceptionally focused and logical. He felt threatened. He started exercising excessively as a tool to aide his mental health, that is what he told me. It seemed to help. His emotional outbursts died down, though I now know he was just seething internally, with anger building day-by-day, year-by-year inside of him. And, regardless, the damage had been done. I was scared of doing anything that might bruise his ego.

SOB syndrome is about self-pity, selfishness and entitlement thinking. SOB syndrome is about never counting your blessings, always comparing yourself to others who you think have more and/or better. SOB syndrome is telling yourself “I deserve at any cost, any expense,” “if it is not automatic and easy, there must be something wrong,” “G-d, the world, etc., owe me” and ultimately, blaming everything and everyone else for your life not being enough. It is an addiction to self-pity, selfishness and entitlement. An SOB is constantly looking for outside forces to fill his/her glass and refuses to ever recognize anything positive, nothing is ever enough. An SOB is constantly looking for ways to fill his/her leaking glass and never recognizing that the crack in that glass is of their own making.

MC has and is doing a lot of work on himself to overcome his selfish ways, to combat and let go of his self-pity and to appreciate all the blessings he has in his life. Part of that process is to make me and our kids feel safe, to be vulnerable with and to us, to freely show love and approval, to give-up his false humility and be lovingly authentic, and to encourage and be proud of our strengths, even when such things might be his weakness. The other part is for him to act with courage, face difficulties and not run away from conflict.  It is not an easy road. It is a lot of work.

I think one of the hardest things in all of this is seeing just how much of myself I let die to protect MC’s ego. This too is one of the things for which I am learning to forgive myself and to heal. I am now working on my Master’s degree. I am now working on regaining myself. He is supportive, loving and kind. He now counts his blessings. I no longer worry about his ego. And, if I ever start to worry about his ego again, I will end the marriage, because I will never again sacrifice who I am for anybody.