It can happen to anyone

So this bomb dropped yesterday.

Being from New England, this news is pretty big. And being a partner of a sex addict who visited his share of sleazy strip mall “spas”, this news is, well, triggering.

I allowed myself about half a day to imagine my husband in a similar place and to feel angry, disgusted, hurt. Then I felt lucky and relieved that the places he went weren’t under surveillance and that he wasn’t arrested and publicly humiliated. Then I felt grateful for my husband’s recovery that has kept him from doing this kind of thing and more for almost 3 years.

OK maybe it was a full day.

This morning I thought about Kraft’s girlfriend, who is about half his age and just beautiful. And I thought about the bottomless pit of money Kraft had at his disposal. Certainly enough to have saved the lives of those poor sex slaves rather than exploit them. With that considered, I wonder why he chose to visit this particular place for paid sex.

The risk? The thrill? The chance to step out of the spotlight and get his fix like a regular guy? To have something in his life that was secret? Is he a sex addict?

Who knows.

I’m not a football fan, so it doesn’t really matter to me if the team feels disappointed or disgraced. I don’t care about what punishment is doled out and whether it is a misdemeanor or whatever.

For me this incident was a reminder that my husband’s sex addiction and double life was about something that was missing in him. It wasn’t about me.

I can’t imagine what Kraft thinks is missing from his incredibly charmed life. But I hope he takes the time to dig deep and find out. Hopefully Patrick Carnes is booking a trip to Jupiter, Florida, right now to have a little chat.

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Super Bowl Ad

Did you see the commercial for Devour Foods? If not, watch it on You Tube. It uses porn addiction as a creative platform to sell frozen dinners. Even the product packaging has sexual references to prostitutes.

I’ve been following comments on Twitter. The votes are split on whether the campaign is good or bad.

I find it offensive and frankly, triggering. Am I being overly sensitive?

Check it out and please post your thoughts in Comments.

Cat Calls

Most women have experienced cat calls by strange men on the street.  Having worked in a big city when I was younger, it happened a lot.  I hated it and always picked up my pace, keeping my eyes forward whenever approaching a group of men.  It was sometimes scary and never felt like a compliment, regardless of what they were saying.

Since my husband has been in recovery for sex addiction, I have learned about objectification.  That is what those cat calls were.  Men were looking at my body and not recognizing that I was someone’s daughter/sister/wife, etc.  I was a collection of body parts and not a person at all.  My husband has disclosed that he has a long history of objectifying women – through porn and other behaviors such as staring at women at the beach and other public places.  He has been working on changing his behavior and retraining his brain to see women as human beings with feelings and families.  It is heartbreaking that this does not come naturally to him.  But I respect the fact that he is trying.

So it is concerning to me that he often objectifies me.  Whenever he walks into the bedroom while I am undressing, he feels compelled to make a comment about my body.  I make special effort to undress in the bathroom in order to avoid this situation.  This morning I asked him to help me with something.  He said he would – he hugged me and said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back….and your front!”  (while grinding up against me).  And I pushed him away.  I asked him not to do that anymore.  I don’t think he gets it.

I have brought this to his attention several times and asked him to be mindful of objectifying me.  I told him that I don’t find it sexy or funny, and it is not the way to get me into bed.  I have specifically asked him to work on being emotionally intimate with me, to be open, authentic and caring.  Those are the behaviors that make me feel close to him, to trust him enough to want to make love to him.  Sometimes he does, and it is very nice.  But when he makes a comment like he did this morning, I feel sad and hopeless.  And I don’t feel any desire to have sex with him.  Quite the opposite.

It is disheartening that I need to keep reminding him that I am a person – I am his wife, a daughter, a sister, a mother.  I have feelings and hopes and dreams and opinions.  I want him to care more about that than the way my body looks.  I want him to get to know me better.  I want him to feel empathy for me.  It is hard for him, and that makes me feel very sad.

I wonder where men learn that cat calling is the way to get a woman’s attention.  I wonder if that approach has ever worked for anyone.

It’s clearly not working for my husband at the moment.

 

Are you talking to ME?

“I miss you.  Please come to {town where I work}.”

I received this text from my husband while he was at work one day.

And it chilled me to the bone.

cell phone

For much longer than I should have, I wondered whether he intended to send this to me, or was it meant for someone else.  I froze.  My stomach tightened.  I didn’t know if I should answer it or how to answer it.  My mind spun out of control, wondering who he could have been texting.

After about 100 deep breaths and a return to logic, I responded.  I said, “I miss you too.  Wish I could be there with you.”

I have no reason whatsoever to think that message was intended for anyone but me.  I have seen zero evidence that he is up to his old tricks.  Not even the slightest hint of it in my gut.  Our relationship has been on solid ground for some time.  So why did I have such a strong reaction to that text?  Yes, I have been traumatized by my husband’s past electronic communications with other women.  But  I have worked hard to move past that history and be present in my marriage.  Will this terrible past continue to haunt me from time to time?

Do we ever really “get over” the things that have happened to us as a result of this cruel  addiction?

I really hope so.

In Defense of the Man

First I need to say that I can’t believe it’s been over 2 months since I have written anything here!  I suppose that is a good sign.  Writing is always my go to place when I have too much crazy swirling in my head.  When the noise has quieted, I don’t feel the need to write much.  Life has been good.  However, today is Christmas Eve.  And my brain is chatting non-stop.  So I need to empty it out in order to fully enjoy the holiday.  Here goes:

Today I have been thinking about the relationship between my husband and his step-mom.  My father-in-law passed away about 2 1/2 years ago, and since he was the primary person in my husband’s life who abused him and caused him to feel shame, their relationship was complicated.  His wife is a warm fun, lovely person who has always been wonderful to our family.  After more than 25 years in relationship with my father-in-law, she knew how difficult he could be.  She often caught glimpses of his dark side and was frequently the victim of his verbal abuse.  But she was the peacemaker (aka codependent), which allowed everyone to get along as well as possible.

What I didn’t realize until about 6 months after my father-in-law’s passing was that she harbored a huge amount of hostility towards my husband and, to a lesser extent, his brothers.  She has told me on more than one occasion that she did not appreciate the way all the boys spoke to their dad.  She felt that it was disrespectful, and it hurt her to hear them take shots at him.  What she didn’t realize was that for this emotionally dysfunctional family, life generally resembled a guys’ trip to fishing camp.  Lots of chummy backslapping, drinking, burping, talking sports, and endlessly ragging on each other.  It’s just what they did.  It was the only way they knew how to communicate with each other.  It wasn’t perfect, but it worked for them.  She said that my father-in-law never complained about it, but she believed it hurt him terribly.  But she never felt comfortable bringing it up to him or to my husband.

Until now.  Now that he is gone, she has made it her personal mission to verbally lash out against those who she feels wronged the man she loved.  During the past 2 years, she has taken some pretty hard shots at my husband, picking fights over dumb little things, just to have the satisfaction of attacking the attacker.  My husband cannot make any sense of this.  Shortly after he returned from his first rehab, he sat down with them to make his amends.  It was his first one, and it was awkward and difficult for him.  But he did it.  He took responsibility for his part in his relationship with each of them, and he apologized for everything. Since then he has changed his life in countless ways, becoming a better man than any of us ever imagined possible.  He has earned new respect from all who know him and care about him and understand the true nature of addiction and recovery.  Somehow though, it’s not enough for her.

My husband has kept his distance since their last altercation in May of this year.  Tomorrow is Christmas, and we will spend a little bit of time with her before she heads to Florida for 4 months.  The last time I spoke with her, she admitted that she went too far in the way she spoke with my husband the last time she saw him.  She said it came from her grief and some frustration from biting her tongue for so many years.  But she didn’t apologize; didn’t say she owed any apology to my husband.  She didn’t even say that she would stop doing it.  So I am somewhat apprehensive about seeing her tomorrow.

I would love nothing more than to point out to her the errors in her thinking and her behaviors.  I want her to know that I am also hurt by the rude and disrespectful way that she spoke to my husband.  I want her to see him as the man he is today rather than the cocky younger version of him who often drank too much and said all the wrong things.  I want her to acknowledge his hard work of the past 6 1/2 years in rebuilding his life and his relationships.  I want her to make amends, just the way my husband did.  Because I am the peacemaker (aka codependent) who wants to see everyone get along.  Biting my tongue and staying out of things is hard for me.  I understand her feelings.  We are the same in our desire to defend the men we love from those who aim to injure.  But I am different.  I know that this is not my fight. I don’t have the power to make or keep peace among other people.  I can only make peace in my own relationships through my own actions.

In anticipation of a difficult time with her tomorrow, I have been drafting a letter/speech to her in my head.  I thought that if I could only show her the man my husband has become and remind her of all he has done to repair the past, she would change her attitude and own her bad behavior.  I know, though, that this will not happen.  As I write the words in this post, I have come to realize that I am powerless over that whole situation.  I don’t know if there will be any kind of incident tomorrow.  If there is, it’s none of my business.  If my husband and his step-mom want to find a way to move forward more peacefully, they will have to figure that out together.

Either way, I am off the hook, and that is my gift to myself this year.

Merry Christmas to all, and here’s to a happy, peaceful 2019!!