My first task in working with the partners of sex addicts is to address three major emotions they are grappling with: shock, blame and hurt. Each of these emotions has the ability to shake you to your foundations, and we must work through them early on in the healing process.
A betrayal tears apart everything you believe in. When you discover that your husband has a sex or porn addiction, when you discover that he has had affairs, it calls your whole life into question. “Have I been living a lie?” “Is this my fault?” “Have I really built a life and had children with a person I didn’t truly know?” These are all normal thoughts to have after going through relationship trauma, but they need to be worked through in a constructive way.
Remember That You’re Grieving
When I meet a woman in my practice for the first time, she is often drowning in self-doubt, self-blame and anger. And why not? She’s grieving.
Not many realize that when you’ve been through an intimate betrayal, you mourn the loss of everything you believed you had. Your perception of your life has been stolen from you suddenly. Everything has been overturned, and you can no longer be sure of anything. It’s a huge loss.
In fact, you will go through all five stages of grief in their turn: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I tend to meet women who are deep into the “anger” phase, because by the time the denial has passed, they realize they probably do need some help getting through everything that lies ahead.
I’ll say now what I say to many women I work with: Give yourself permission to mourn. The sense of loss you’re feeling now is okay. Cry in the shower if you have to, but allow those emotions to come out.
Many women come to my office determined to just put their heads down and get through the recovery process. They want to get over their sadness and hurt so they can get things back to normal. They want to continue to be there for their families, their jobs, and their communities.
However, I’ve noticed that time and time again, there is someone important missing from that list: themselves.
Perhaps the hardest concept to address with betrayed women is finding value in themselves. When they come to me after their worlds fall apart, they find that they can’t think in terms of who they are as individuals, what they want, and what they deserve. All they can think about is what happened.
I’ve spoken before about how important self-care is, and a woman mourning her relationship is especially at risk of not seeing to her basic needs. She may not be eating enough, she may be losing sleep, and she may be isolating herself indoors. When her physical needs aren’t being met, her emotional needs become neglected as well.
This is why it’s so important to seek help for you. Yes, your partner is the one with the addiction, but you deserve a safe space to work through your own issues. You deserve to prioritize your healing, so that you can get back in touch with yourself.
If you’re hurting now because you have suffered an intimate betrayal in your relationship, remember that this isn’t your fault. As I always say: you didn’t cause his addiction, and you are not responsible for stopping it.
The biggest responsibility you have right now is you. Reach out to us here at Compulsion Solutions, and we can begin focusing on working through your complex emotions, and rebuilding your self worth. You deserve this.