Vol. 2 No. 3
I learned relatively quickly that my ex's addiction was a master. It ruled our marriage. It consumed my life. And, for years, it even destroyed me.
And the isolation made it even worse. You have to understand that this was the early 90's. The Internet wasn't even live until the Fall of 1991, and pornography wasn't as accessible as it is today. Playboy, Hustler and other adult magazines were the go-to. Men casually joked that they subscribed for the articles and their spouses or partners tolerated it as "what men do." Calendars with women in scantily clad outfits were kept way past their expiration. Back rooms in VHS video stores became a popular way to view more than just nudity.
And, although coined in the 80's, the term sexual addiction wasn't well-known until (then 35-year-old) Tiger Woods brought it to the forefront in 2009-2010. So, I was essentially combating something I (and everyone around me) knew very little about ... ALONE.
All I really knew for sure initially was that my husband had wandering eyes. Anytime a large busted woman entered his line of sight, I ceased to exist. He seemed to devour her with his exaggerated glance, attempting to etch every detail into his memory for later recall. Of course at the time, I had no idea that's what he was doing. All I knew was that while holding my hand, he was checking out another woman. It drove me mad.
Houston we have a problem (I-V) details the first time I actually caught him masturbating. That led to a complete cleansing of our home. I wanted every pornographic magazine, video, calendar and everything else I could find GONE. I was clueless and thought it would solve the problem. If there wasn't anything around for him to look at, he'd stop right?
Nope! Despite the fact that we could barely afford our rent as college students, he charged thousands of dollars on 900 numbers. The first time I saw a bill. I cried in rage and horror knowing that I was working three jobs while going to school full time so he could pay to hear another woman tell him things his wife wouldn't even ever say to him. I was disgusted. But, I figured since this option was outed too, he'd surely stop now ...
Wrong! It only created more of a need in him and fueled his addiction. He started having affairs. I forgave him again and again, and we tried to move forward in our marriage. Things would seem okay for awhile, but, this addiction thing was a master, remember?
We had a word processor, not a computer. (Remember that this was the early 90's.) When we finally got a computer, it didn't have a modem. It wasn't until years later when we finally began to navigate the world of dial-up. And, with each significant technological improvement, his addiction became more and more insatiable. The easier it was for him to access it, the more of it he had to have.
Addiction experts indicate this behavior is known as chasing the elusive high. It becomes more challenging as the "chase" perpetuates the addiction. In an effort to replicate the first-time sensation, acting out increases. Unable to numb whatever the sex addict is fleeing from, he has to find new ways to self-medicate. His hunger for sensation and new experiences drive him to escalate his behavior.
Left untreated, this master will continue to escalate. Eventually it and everything in its path will likely implode. A spouse or partner has zero power, zero say, zero impact.
Traci is a Betrayal Recovery Specialist and the owner of Healing Betrayed Hearts. She has almost 30 years experience recovering from a relationship with a sex addict.