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My Story: I was married to a sex addict.

**Trigger Warning: My story will be told in a very honest and upfront manner. Please take caution if you are newly finding out about any betrayal.**

 

"Every man watches porn."

 

This sentence was what I was told after I found an indecent photo on my ex-husbands iPod.

 

When I confronted him the shame and guilt was so palpable. His red face and burning ears were so colored in red I could have sworn that I felt red too! In our society, we hear this a lot, it may be true, it may be "normal" for most BUT have we spoken about the negative effects?

 

According to Fight The New Drug (https://fightthenewdrug.org/ )

 

most kids today are exposed to porn by age 13, with 84.4% of males and 57% of females ages 14-18 having viewed porn.

 

In my case I learned porn was used by my ex-husband as a gateway to fetishes that then led to paid escorts. Porn is becoming more and more of an issue, but it's not spoken about nearly as much as it should be. Do you ever notice when you speak about this type of addiction in public, you check to see who's around? You lower your voice, why is it that there is such a shame and guilt around this certain addiction, so much so that it leads us to "keep our voices down?" No more, it's time to raise awareness about this. Many people are hurt in this addiction.

My story is just one of the many where a partner discovers betrayal. The effects are devasting and long lasting. In 2012, I had been dating my ex-husband and I had no clue of the double life he was already so indulged in. The first thing I remember when I pulled up that photo was hmm, this looks odd. This looks like a picture, but it's on a website. I had to go inside and confront him. I learned that this was no normal porn website, it was a website that had ads within it that solicitated sex. After feeling his shame and guilt I remember my emotions rising, feeling confused and my heart began beating so loud. He said: "I really don't watch regular porn anymore; I enjoy looking at this because it's more real. It's like these are real people, porn hub is not my go to anymore." More questions in my head. I couldn't even compile my thoughts; I just needed the anxiety to stop. I started to comfort my thoughts and believed what he was telling me. Him, now in tears. "I promise I will never look at that again, I don't need it anymore." Another sentence that many of us betrayed partners have heard and believed.

 

We continued dating and I continued falling for this man that he perfectly pretended to be. Sex addiction is a compulsive sexual behavior, that also creates a need to lie and cover up the constant shame and guilt they fight in their minds ( https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/compulsive-sexual-behavior/symptoms-causes/syc-20360434 )

This truly explained how he became an expert at telling me lies in order to protect his secrets. During this time, I fell in love with a sweet, caring, funny, handsome noble man. I knew I'd marry him one day.

 

"D-Day"

In recovery we have a term called "D-day" this is our discovery date or the times we discover they're acting out. We discover that this is not the person we fell in love with. In my story I have had about 20+ D-days during our dating period alone. Multiple times of "walking in on him" in the shower, bedroom even in my parents' home. It seems like no matter how intimate I was with him; it was never enough. Welp, surely marriage would fix this problem... right?

 

Looking back now I wish I could have paid attention to these red flags, but I am happy to report that I have grown a lot since this relationship. My ex-H and I were engaged on Valentines Day 2014, during this time we had made a special promise to remain celibate as we were both trying to make our wedding night special. We remained intimate free for about 6 months prior to our wedding day. Correction, I remained celibate. Not only was I celibate, but I was loyal as well.

 

Married

We were married on May 28th, 2016. Our family and friends were gathered to celebrate with us, and our ceremony and reception could not have gone any better. There were a couple a hiccups with the wedding preparation, but at this point nothing mattered. I was ecstatic to have a new husband. However, our wedding night was another huge D-day for me.

 

Arriving to our beautiful location, we settled in for the night. This was meant to be an exciting and loving time, but I experienced a nightmare. Upon pouring out some wine and looking outside at the view, we had quickly gotten into an argument. I was to be in lingerie but I wasn't. I had planned a wedding from states away, and I had forgotten to have put that on, and let's be honest how uncomfortable! We fought for 2 painful hours, before I gave in knowing that this was the only way to get to sleep. During the rest of my honeymoon, I was brought to Adam and Eve stores so that he could pick out his preferred outfits for me to wear. I was already experiencing trauma and fear from this, but I ended up taking the blame and apologizing.

 

Worst D-Day

As I describe my worst D-day yet, I want to remind us all that we define what is acceptable in our relationships. If it hurts you, it hurts you. Nothing else needed - no data, research of proof is needed. At this time, we are now married for one year. We had quite a normal morning and both headed to work. On this particular day, he had gotten home before me. I saw his car in our parking space and thought it was weird, but nice to have him home early. I walked into a dark ominous room. Lights were off. It was dark, so dark. I remember a dim light from our backyard was turned on and somehow, I felt stupid for feeling more comfortable at the moment. My two cats were in the living room with us, and they were even confused at the darkness around us. He waved me over to our couch and asked me to sit, "I need to tell you something, its serious and you may have questions. I just ask you to please wait for me to finish." I was trying to swallow, but suddenly forgotten how. My brain immediately went to 'Oh my gosh, he lost his job. Someone died. He must have cheated." Re-adjusting myself on the couch I finally gestured to him that I was ready to hear.

 

"I have two types of STDs, but I did not cheat."

 

Again... why can't I swallow?! What did I do wrong, why have I caused this? more and more questions arising. facing him I said "I don't understand." He looked at me and for the first time, I really felt I was looking into the eyes of a stranger "I have a fetish with women under garments and sanitary napkins." Stomach. My stomach, I was nauseous, and the room was definitely spinning. I ran to the restroom and was sick. Upon my return, he was in the same position I left him. Crying now, a reminder of the past D-days where he was apologetic, red in the face and embarrassed. "I know this sounds insane, but It's true this is how I contracted the STDs; I used those items sexually to..." Throwing up my hand I asked him to stop. I knew what he meant at this point.

 

The Day After

The next morning, I went to an urgent care alone. During check-in I was unable to verbalize, so I was given a piece of paper and wrote: "My husband has STDs, I'm still confused how. I think I do too...?" Til this day, I still shed tears over this memory. I cry for that Stephanie that was not yet educated on what to do.

 

"It's okay, it was not your fault, and you did not cause this."

 

is a truth I tell myself as a reminder. During my visit I was tested and requested the full blood panel. It was confirmed that I did indeed have the STDs and also pelvic inflammatory disease (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pelvic-inflammatory-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352594 ) I was horrified. The very kind staff was there to make me feel safe at the time, they were wonderful. The NP sat down and held my hands as she explained that the only way to obtain the things was through intercourse. I pleaded and explained what he told me. I told her how he got them; I told her that she was wrong. She repeated the same thing to me. I defended him and said that it was fine, and I was ready to leave. I was not ready for anyone to see him in a bad light, I was not ready to accept this reality. I was not ready to face the facts. I was not ready. When I got home I was asked how it went.

"See isn't it great that it's curable with a shot now!"

A huge smile on his face. I was in agreement but asked for time to be alone. At the time I had not noticed that he had controlling, and manipulative behavior. He was skilled at using the behavior of love bombing, expensive gifts and distractions to keep me from thinking about everything I learned. Not knowing any better and wanting this too to disappear, I followed his lead and fell into a world of distraction and "digging my head in the sand."

 

2018

Another year goes by since that horrible night and the STD testing. I have been living by using distraction and ignoring my emotions. A weird thing has also occurred, I now was protecting his secrets as well. I have not spoken to one soul about all the things that have happened prior. I had moments where I wanted to cry out and vent to my best friend, but I just couldn't. It felt safer to pretend it was not real. When my mind felt like it needed an outlet, I would shut it out and just continue to watch TV, eat snacks, spend money, accept meaningless gifts from him, etc.

 

Another heartbreak, another discovery.

I was right, he has cheated. It was physical acting out, it wasn't "just porn!" Anger. Shock. Sadness. Depression. Worthlessness. Confused. Pissed. Just a couple of emotions that I was feeling. Before my life shifted again, I was sitting in our home watching TV and eating take out, while he was an hour away for work. The door started to be unlocked and I was terrified, I thought "could someone have a spare key?!" He stood there, again with the same look of shame and guilt that always shows up on his face. This time I faced him and said "you did cheat with another person didn't you? You have been lying and you have been cheating, right?" He broke down in tears and replied "you knew it the whole time, why did you believe me? Why did you fight the NP last year?" He didn't deny my question. I knew it. My guy knew it. My heart knew it. He has been sleeping with other people. I asked him "why did you come back? drive the hour to do this tonight on a work night?" He stood there almost wondering the same thing, "I was in a hotel; I was feeling like I needed company and God was on my heart and I needed to tell you. I also think we need to get tested for STDs again." Next was a traumatic response of "asking all the questions" asking the where, what, looks, smells, locations any and every detail you can imagine. My life was even more forever changed after learning every single detail. This is highly not recommended and not helpful. When you feel the urge to ask everything, do anything else. Please. Self-care, self-care, self-care.

 

Thinking back now I always feel enraged, he tried to look holy and amazing, but the truth was: both times he had to tell me because his doctors made him. It was never because of his selfless personality. This time it was harder on me. It was the hardest moment of all the moments. I made him leave and asked him not to come back until I said. I am saying this next sentence because you ARE NOT ALONE. That night I struggled with suicide. I am happy to report I came out on the other side. This is a real problem, please speak to someone. 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Dial: 988.

 

2019/2020

We had been trying to attend church, be more intimate, watch things together, talk more. I noticed that my body and mind did not feel safe at all to connect on a sexual level anymore. I felt so horrible about my self-image, about other women around me and about all aspects in life in general. When betrayal happens it so rocks us to the core. All normalcies have now been tainted. Going to the grocery store, pool, rivers, lakes, gas pumps, stores, online you name it - now requires preparation. You may need days to be ready to go grocery shopping, just asking yourself "do I really need food right now?" Although this sounds a little weird, about 75% of the women I speak with daily confirm this new lifestyle that was forced upon us. This doesn't happen to all of us, but many of us can describe the "triggers" we deal with on a daily basis. Pre-betrayal, we were able to "run out real quick" and pick up toothpaste.

 

Aside from the sexual addiction, he also developed Intimacy Anorexia (https://intimacyanorexia.com/ ). He was willfully withholding ways I like to be loved. Whenever I needed to connect, he would be too tired, too sick, working etc. Another common trait about this is, many IA's never want to look bad to others, however they do not care or mind how they look to you. "Can we cuddle on the couch together?" his reply became like swords furthering the sting and cuts that were already there. "Not tonight, this is my couch, and you have your own. I'm tired." Soon it became too common, so I had stopped asking. The infidelity wasn't enough but now my husband barely is affectionate towards me.

 

I was in complete shock now. Dr. Barbara Steffans Founder of APSATS (https://www.apsats.org/) speaks about how to assist the betrayed spouse. "We don't put her in a co-dependent box, but we respond to her pain and her hurt." In another interview Dr. Steffans talks about PTSD in betrayed partners. Unfortunately, a common majority. If it's not full blown there are many trauma symptoms that are present. During a study in 2005, 70% of the women met all the criteria. To summarize Dr. Steffans more, once the shock hits, we perceive this information as a threat. This fuels a trauma response in our brain. Our fight, flight or freeze kicks in. WE BECOME REACTIVE. We are responding to this information that was thrown at us out of nowhere. We are just trying to stay afloat after our whole life just deflated. For the record we are not "crazy, delusional, insecure." We opened our hearts to someone that promised our family members (or asked hand in marriage) that they would protect us, love us and forsake all others.

 

To have your childhood dreams crushed in such a disgusting way should be just enough to respond in the ways we do. We never signed up to be married, just to be divorced or betrayed. This certain trauma is also painful because, we made the decision to open our hearts to them. We do not choose our biological family, but we choose our spouse. We become vulnerable and share our most deepest moments and secrets with them. All this and in return we are shattered.

 

Breaking Point

I have been in recovery for partner betrayal trauma since July 14, 2020. The particular group I attend is for females only, this is how I feel more comfortable. I feel so blessed and honored to be a part of a great healing community. I have learned that we all have different "breaking points," we never tell one another what to do (stay married or divorced, etc.), and we practice sharing our story. The more you share the more you heal, it's so true! I cannot count how many times I have shared, and each time the sting has lessened and lessened. I now share in hopes that it inspires others to recover out lout.

 

My personal breaking point was late 2019/2020. I have found out that he was purchasing items from one particular women across the country. She would mail it to his work. These were used items of all kinds. He had sat down on our bed and told me that there was something he needed to admit. "I have been chatting with this other woman for 2 weeks. It's going well, and I don't think I can stop." This was another blow, and to my surprise it hurt just the same from finding that photo in 2012. Something was slightly different this time, I had concrete evidence that I can look through. When I scrolled through the messages, I noticed similar behaviors he did with her, just like when we first spoke. The emojis, the selfies, the laughter... It hurt. He "tried" recovery for 2 weeks and "broke up" with this person one time. I caught him back on that app and speaking with her. I then created a boundary I never thought about, I made him leave our home so that I could think.

 

"Maybe I can keep her as a girlfriend for just a short while, and we can see if we should work on our marriage."

 

I decided that he needed to leave and get himself an apartment for good. Deep down, I knew that once I told him this I may never be with him again and I may never see him again. This was my breaking point, this was my last straw, this was it! I have had it. I was okay with these two realities. A powerful part of this day was when I beg and pleaded God to save my husband, I quickly learned that it was me who was saved. I let go and read Psalm 35 until I was soothed and asked him to leave our home.

 

Stress hit my body very hard during this time and I have also suffered a miscarriage. This was an important time in my life because I have gained my faith back. I felt the presence of God back in and I was able to meditate and pray on my favorite bible verse: Psalm 35. During recovery it's very beautiful to have your higher power, and the best part is you can decide what that is! whatever you are comfortable with.

 

In the end

He had spent about 2,500 on this person the first 2 months of speaking with her, he had moved across the country, he had been with both genders, I was diagnosed with PTSD and other disorders, I had to continue STD testing, I was financially unstable, I had the guilt of divorce, I had severe depression. Although, I had even more disclosures than I needed and the most painful moments of my life I STILL WON. I now have a testimony; I share with other women and have started to coach others. I learned a lot about self-care and self-worth. I am more educated about sex addiction. I have attended wonderful retreats and met amazing women who also share this journey. MOSTLY I have grown and healed a lot! For me, recovery is an ongoing choice and I truly enjoy growing more and more each day.

 

Today

I was remarried on March 10, 2023. I have met someone who is real, caring, loving, sweet and proved he wants to protect me. Before marriage he provided me with a passed polygraph following a full sexual history disclosure. This is part of our lifestyle, and if he ever needed one in return, I would take one in a heartbeat. In today's world this may sound extreme, but after the pain and trauma we have felt many of us can require this to continue a relationship. We would rather trust a 85-93% accurate machine then a possible sex addict or addict. I have created a checklist and workbook exercises (created when I started to date, post betrayal) that is now used in my coaching sessions.

 

To the betrayer: If you come across reading my story, please remember your partner has their own story to tell. You may have been traumatized, hurt in the past, but you have a choice. Recovery is possible and you do not have to keep living a double life. This hurts yourself and another innocent person. Please remember that past trauma is not a reason for "hurt people to hurt people." This is an opportunity to receive support. How awesome that you can choose recovery!

 

Thank You

These are the major parts of my story; I have other things that I have experienced as well as I'm sure many of you betrayed partners can relate to. You deserve to heal, too. 🙌 Thank you for taking time to read my story. I hope it gives you strength on your journey. 

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