Hello! Please remember that my response is for information only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.
It is painful to be in a relationship with a sex addict.
It's helpful to think of a sex addict in the same way as you would someone who is a drug addict or alcoholic.
They need to admit they have a problem AND be committed to staying sober.
Part of sobriety will be honest.
being honest, I'm sorry
No wonder you can't sleep or thing of anything else!
So, where is he at with all of this --does he admit that he is an addict? Does he accept the diagnosis?
is it unreasonable to expect him to be honest already, if he has only just now started treatment/recovery (he is in private therapy, couples therapy with me, and attending group meeings)
yes -- he does accept it
and he says that his eyes have been opened
I want him to be completely honest with me for several reasons:
OK, that's a good start. However, it can be a process before the addict realizes that they MUST be honest at all times. They are so crafted at lying, that it's a hard habit to break. So, the need to be honest is part of the therapy. So, I'd say most people are not instantly honest.
It's been something new disclosed every day, after swearing up and down that this is the absolute truth, only to have that change the next day
and I learn something else
each time I learn something new, it rips me apart again
The question is --does he have the potential to be honest --and you may not know the answer to that if he's been an addict the entire time you've known him. So, he's still in the process of telling you all there is to know then....
That can be daunting for both of you.
he is still in that process
Yes ---so how patient are you?
or, he was. I kicked him out today because he disclosed the intimate details of the hotel room encounter
I was patient a few weeks ago. Now I am impatient, and angry, and hurt
No one would blame you for leaving him. You need to decide if you can tolerate this process.
I know that it's a shame cycle, so I don't want to berate him if he doesn't have the capacity to be honest
but I need to know what it is that I am dealing with, and for the disclosure to stop so that I can start healing
I am going to look at apartments all day tomorrow.
I made the decision to leave him, but it's difficult
It seems like you don't know that yet ---and you don't know how much more there is for him to tell you.
Yes, I bet!
I have no idea what could possibly be left, but I suspect that there is more
Do you even want to hear it?
I already know details, and can't get them out of my head
I am not sure that i can bear to hear anything else
Yes ---it's such a betrayal. It sounds like you've had your fill of details.
I think so. Do the visions go away? What does it take? I can't sleep, because as soon as I stop moving or doing things, it all comes flooding back. I can't lay quietly enough to sleep.
Keep in mind you are in the middle of it, the worst part. It's all new, and I'm sure, traumatizing. I imagine it's even difficult to process it, and there's so much to process. You must be in shock, angry, sad, a whole bunch of emotions all at once.
Your life is in upheaval...looking for a new apartment, etc.
It's going to take a little time to sink in.
yes, but I am happy about that. I am a PhD student, and moving closer to school
Not to mention the grieving process
I am afraid that I won't be able to concentrate on my studies, though
When do you start back to school?
but I am not sure for what I am grieving -- our entire relationship was seemingly a lie
I start back on august 21
At least that's a few weeks. Well, even though a lie, it's still a loss. A loss of what you thought you had. What you should have had.
I'm NOT saying you will be over it in a few weeks, by the way.
I'm saying that maybe it won't be quite as intense.
I understand that. It is nice to hear 'what you should have had'
I hope not. I am supposed to take my first written qualifying exam in September, but I may have to push it back a year because I can't concentrate enough to study.
Yes, I'm imagining that you invested a lot of yourself into this relationship! That might be wise, to push back the exam.
what about narcissism, selfishness, and lack of empathy?
can those be overcome?
that is more of a curiosity question -- I am not sure that I am interested in sticking around to see
You will recover from this, but it's important to allow yourself time to do that. If he truly has a narcissistic personality disorder, that's extremely difficult to overcome. Many narcissists don't enter therapy, let alone stick with it. It depends on how severe it is.
the counselor said she doesn't think it is as severe as a personality disorder, only that he's had the trait for most of his life (he's 41, and thinks he's been this way for his entire adult life)
One one end --all of us are self absorbed and selfish ---however many of us see the need not to be! On the extreme other end, the worst narcissist don't even see the need.
he said that he knows the difference from right and wrong
I never quite got the answer as to why he doesn't act upon it
is it possible to tell whether 'sex addict' is just a cover for bad behavior?
Traits are not as severe, so there's more hope, but it still take work.
his go-to answer for everything now is that it was a compulsion that he couldn't control, and he has no other reason for it
That's an interesting question that I think is complicated. Sex addiction appears to be as strong as any other addiction, however, there's obviously not a physical dependence issue like there is with other substances that cause severe problems withdrawing (like DTs with alcoholics). However, and addiction is not an "excuse" to engage in the behavior. It's possible he couldn't control it, BUT he didn't take steps to get into treatment either.
And, a common consequence of such an addiction is losing a significant relationship --- like you!
yes. I wonder if he ever really cared about me
I'm guessing that he did ---but he didn't care enough about himself or you to take the steps to deal with his problem.
that is a good answer -- thank you
He didn't realize what his addiction was going to cost him.....
we have a wonderful intellectual connection, and that is what I am sorry to see go
and that is what made me try to stay for these few weeks
Yes. That makes sense. It's hard to just let go of such an investment of your life, I bet.
it is. I was living in a fantasy world of my own, I think. I thought we were going to start talking about marriage soon.
Thankfully you didn't get that far ---marriage, I mean.
that is true :)
is there any way to calm myself now so that I can sleep? or will it just be another night like this until some time passes?
I can give you some instructions for abdominal breathing. It might help, I'm not sure --it seems like overwhelming emotion. But, maybe it will help just a little bit.
I would appreciate anything
This is called the 4 by 4 breathing exercise because you should practice it for 4 minutes 4 times a day to learn to do it well. If you are able, do this with your eyes closed, imagining a pleasant place. This is calming and designed to help you manage stress. There are two important things to learn about breathing:
1. Learn how to breathe from your diaphragm (from your tummy area) and make that pattern a part of your daily life.
2. Become skilled at shifting to diaphragmatic breathing whenever you begin to feel stressed.
1. Gently and slowly inhale a normal amount of air through your nose, filling only our lower lungs. Place your hands on your tummy so that you can feel it rising and falling with each breath. Count to 5 slowly as you do it.
2. Exhale slowly through your lips, counting to 5 as you do so.
3. Continue this slow, gentle breathing with a relaxed attitude, concentrating on filling only your lower lungs.
4. As you breathe, slowly repeat the word “relax” or “calm” or some other word which means the same to you.
If you have difficulty following the above instructions:
1. Lie down on a rug or your bed, with your legs relaxed and straight, a book on your tummy and your hands by your side.
2. Let yourself breath normal easy breaths. Notice what part of our upper body rises and fall with each breath. Rest a hand on that spot. If that place is your chest, you are not taking full advantage of your lungs. If the book is moving up and down, then, congratulations, you are doing it right!
Deep breathing is an extension of this normal process. With one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen, take a slow, deep breath, filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. When you exhale, let your upper lungs go first (causing your upper hand to drop), then your lower lungs (causing your lower hand to drop).
Reminder: Too many deep breaths, instead of natural breaths in a row, will produce a sense of lightheadedness. This is not harmful; just return to natural breathing.
Natural slow breathing and the deep slow breathing several times each day. Practice natural breathing for a period of at least 4 minutes, 4 times a day. The object is to train yourself to breathe from your diaphragm most of the time.
thank you so much, Dr. Fee
I'll give you the Progressive Muscle Relaxation instructions too...at least that will occupy you for a little while.
that would be excellent
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Rationale: It is not physically possible to have a feeling of warmth, well-being, and relaxation in your body while experiencing emotional/psychological stress.
What it does: Progressive muscle relaxation reduces pulse rate, blood pressure and decreases perspiration and respiration rates.
Who should use it: All of us can benefit from a lifestyle that involves more relaxation. However, Progressive muscle relaxation is particularly useful for the following problems: Insomnia, depression, anxiety, muscle tension, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle spasms, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, phobias, and stuttering.
Time to Truly Master: Two 15 minutes sessions per day for one to two weeks.
Which Muscles? Do you know which of your muscles are chronically tense? Some do, but most people don’t. One thing Progressive Muscle relaxation will teach you is how to tell the difference between the sensation of tension and the sensation of deep relaxation. We will cover four major muscle groups:
Basic Instructions: You need 10-20 undisturbed minutes. You can sit or lie down. You might play some soothing music or have complete silence.
You will be quickly tensing each muscle group for 5 to 7 seconds, quickly releasing and then relaxing for 20 to 30 seconds. You might do abdominal breathing in between muscle groups, focus on a pleasant scene, and/or recite a self soothing statement or comforting Bible verse (i.e. “The Lord is my Shepherd….”)
Example: Clench your two fists as tight as you can, hold it, hold it, hold it, notice the tension in your wrist. Quickly let it go. Feel the looseness in your hands and wrists, notice how different it feels from when you had it tensed. Repeat one more time.
One disclaimer --if you have significantly low blood pressure, you shouldn't do the PMR.
You are welcome. I'm sorry that you have to deal with this.
thank you. it is helpful to have someone to talk to, especially late at night
I really appreciate your time and the exercises
Yes, I understand! I'm a bit of a night owl, which is why I'm often on at night!
I am glad that I caught you
I'm glad it helped. I hope the exercises help.
I hope so, too
I will definitely give them a shot
Take care Dr Fee
and thanks again