Vol. 2 No. 2
Why did I feel so ashamed even though HE was the one with the addiction? Why did it feel as if people looked at me like I was a bad wife? I could imagine them snickering and referring to me with an assortment of choice words. I may as well have taken out a public service announcement on the local news: "Woman embarrassed and humiliated by husband's actions as she believes they reflect negatively upon her."
At least, that's what I thought.
HE was a sex addict. HE checked out every woman who crossed his path, watched pornography, called 900 numbers and ultimately cheated. So why did I feel like everyone was judging me for HIS actions? Didn't they know I couldn't control him? How could I make him stop? If they knew, why weren't they telling me?
I felt completely alone. No one understood what I was going through. How could they? My own mother said, "You're not the first woman whose husband cheated on her!" In her defense, she wasn't trying to make me feel badly, but rather to assure me that I wasn't alone.
It did not work.
I mean, if my own mother couldn't understand that THIS was different, THIS was worse, THIS was an addiction, how could I expect anyone to? Even me ...
I blamed myself. I wasn't pretty enough. I wasn't smart enough. I wasn't kind, thoughtful or interesting enough. I wasn't funny enough. I wasn't witty, hardworking or devoted enough.
I JUST WASN'T ENOUGH. Period. End of story. That's what I thought.
I had to be more. More of what he wanted. I had to mold myself into whatever he conjured up when he fantasized. The problem was, I couldn't compete with an ever-changing dream; with an addiction. It won every time.
It took me years to realize that. No matter who he was with, he would STILL be an addict. He would act out, feel guilty, offer remorse and then repeat. It had nothing to do with me, and was solely his issue.
He was the only one who could make it stop. I had no part in any of it. REALLY. It had nothing to do with me. It had nothing to do with our marriage. And despite the fact that it felt SUPER personal because it was a sexual addiction, the fact remained that it was still an addiction and required treatment.
And, when I finally realized that he wasn't going to do the work necessary to change, I did the only thing I could for MY survival: I walked away.
I decided to step out of the shadows and quit hiding because of HIS issue. I refuse to be ashamed. I will no longer isolate myself and worry if someone is talking about me. I know "more" doesn't exist. And I'm okay with that Because I know the truth:
I did NOT cause his addiction. I am NOT responsible for his actions. And most importantly, I know that I AM enough.
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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.