Because of the very nature of what I do, I often have the time, opportunity, and privilege to work with some of the most remarkable women in the world; notwithstanding my wonderful colleagues that I routinely work very closely with (don’t let that go to your head).
I first met Daisy in September, 2018 like so many of her predecessors that came before her, herself, and subsequently many more that will come after her. I don’t write about anyone’s story unless there is an important lesson to learn from it and I have explicit permission (in writing) to do so. With her permission, her name has been changed to “Daisy” so as to protect her identity, as well as that of her story and our relationship which is that of a coaching one.
When I first became aware of her story, I went through it sentence by sentence, broke it down, and picked it apart as I often do because it reveals something about a whole lot more by what isn’t said rather than what is. And more often than not, their story generally doesn’t rise to the surface until D-Day.
Now, D-Day from a historical perspective refers to the Allied invasion on the beaches of Normandy in German occupied France on June 6, 1944 called Operation Overlord. But it is also commonly referred to that Day of Discovery (which is common terminology) when a Partner discovers a betrayal in the relationship that rocks their world to the very core. What immediately follows is a core meltdown as I talked about in Critical Mass: Core Meltdown (Hers).
KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS
Well before any discovery at all, all of the WARNING SIGNS were there. A virgin at age 19, having deliberately and meticulously saved herself for her husband, she married her high school sweetheart.
“I’ve spent the last 7 years DEEPLY regretting my decision to reserve my body for one man.”
Marrying your high school sweetheart isn’t altogether that uncommon, but marrying one that is a virgin is.
The first WARNING SIGN was a lack of interest in having sex with his bride. In fact, there was no initiation by him, rejection of any initiation efforts by her, and he had a very hard time getting and maintaining an erection; another WARNING SIGN. She, like so many other newlyweds anticipated and expected to have sex almost non-stop with her husband. That wasn’t to be the case.
As you would imagine, so many thoughts of inferiority went through her head:
“Why was I only having sex maybe once every 2-3 months?”
“Am I not attractive enough to my husband for him to want to have sex with me?”
“Maybe I’m just not any good at having sex.”
All of these thoughts of hers couldn’t be further from the truth. These are the lies she believed of herself over time in an attempt to rationalize in her own mind why their sexual relationship was so dysfunctional.
This is the common truth I tell every single woman because almost unanimously, it is the woman who is betrayed in the relationship and must endure their Partner’s dysfunctional sexual behavior:
“You are beautiful in body, mind, and spirit.”
“Nobody can ever make you feel inferior unless you let them.”
Add to that a healthy dose of Gaslighting, and what you have is a recipe for disaster and imminent failure of the relationship.
Daisy did what so many other young brides do in her situation. She embarked on a mission to fix it, only unbeknownst to her, fixing it was actually enabling him.
As she blamed herself, and her self-esteem plummeted, she begged to learn his sexual desires, she spent thousands and thousands of dollars on lingerie, sex toys, setting up romantic weekend getaways, became extremely fit, breast augmentation, all to “pornify[sic] myself as much as possible” as she put it.
She made significant changes in herself all to appeal to her husband in order to become the object of his sexual desire, even permanently altering her physical appearance with large breast implants. That’s another WARNING SIGN.
His lack of interest in sex stemmed from headaches, stomach aches, exhaustion (too tired), “I’m more in the mood during work hours”, “we are out of condoms”, and whatever other excuse du jour was prominently on display. That’s another WARNING SIGN.
His bride resigned herself to crying herself to sleep, often masturbating herself once he fell asleep. As the problem continued, so too did more excuses like “I don’t know”, “I have a low sex drive” and “I have anxiety” just to name a few of literally dozens.
Several years and several therapists later, Daisy continued down this path of marital destruction. He, like so many other addicts, sought medical attention, only to tell the physician what he wanted him to hear and to tell her what he wanted her to hear. All of the time, tests, and examinations were a waste of time and money most likely because his physician didn’t ever get to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from him. It is impossible to properly treat someone when you don’t have all of the necessary facts and information to do so. Also:
“It is difficult to get someone to understand something when their addiction depends on them not understanding it.”
As Daisy became more desperate, she searched and researched to find information and answers. He often engaged in odd behavior, only that behavior is all indicative of one who is harboring secrets and not being very transparent in the relationship. Things like preventing access to his phone, emptying the recycle bin on his computer, and deleting browser history are just to name a few. These actions and behaviors are all indicative of the WARNING SIGNS.
As I walked Daisy though all of these WARNING SIGNS she brought to bear, like all unique individual pieces of a puzzle, what began to emerge and unfold is a picture that the puzzle pieces revealed. I talk about this very subject in My Partner Betrayed Me: “Am I Enough?” (Part I).
Of course, whenever Daisy decided to address any of these WARNING SIGNS, she was greeted with overwhelming Gaslighting. I could go into all that transpired between discovery, the realization, and where we are today, but it would take up volumes to tell her story.
What you need to understand is that all of the WARNING SIGNS were forever present and always there. What you need to know is that her journey continued down a path of destruction with his consistent persistent failed promises to stop (because addicts can’t stop no matter how much they think they can go it alone), his continued acts of betrayal watching pornography, masturbating, and subsequent orgasms which yielded the dopamine an addict seeks, and all the lies and deceit necessary to cover it all up. He never once embraced recovery, and instead continued to lie, cheat, and steal her heart away from her.
THE JOURNEY OF RECOVERY
As I began to walk Daisy through her own journey, I designed and laid out a plan for her to not only work on herself, but to also establish a program for her own recovery, and hopefully, that of her relationship. I reminded her that I love her too, yielding empathy, compassion, understanding, and validation to her pain (something he should have been doing). She longed for it all. He should have longed to provide it for her. As a beloved Partner, that’s his job.
I’ve learned through this addiction the necessity of unconditional love; for the Partner, for the Addict, and for the lives of all of those they have touched. It’s important for them to know they are loved. Besides, from my perspective, spiritually and religiously, we are called upon to love one another unconditionally.
One thing that really bothered Daisy was this (paraphrased):
“It’s not fair. I am in my prime, and I have to go without sex for months at a time”.
But as I told her, “If you want fair, I’ll buy you a ticket and you can go to the fair.”
The harsh reality and fact is, life isn’t fair. We only get to play the hand of cards that life deals us. As I spoke of Operation Overlord before, I’m quite certain all those men who died on the beaches of Normandy also found themselves in a situation that to them wasn’t fair. It is incredibly unfair. It is why Boundaries & Consequences become so monumentally important.
As Daisy continued on her journey, her Partner appeared to be getting better. He appeared to be doing the right thing; mostly at least. He was treating her right. But like all addicts, those are usually short lived in a state of addiction. Old habits die hard. It doesn’t take too long for them to find their way back to the surface again, especially when there is a genuine absence of recovery tools being sought after and utilized.
And maybe he did stop for a period of time, as short lived as it was. I’m always very optimistically cautious when one seems to be in the midst of a remarkable recovery where there is little or no therapy involved, there is no accountability partner, or means of accountability. There is no group program participation. The problem, one he has had for what amounts to most of his life, just mysteriously fixed itself? If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Actually it is too good to be true. Pine Grove, a very well respected sexual addiction treatment facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Therapists will advise their patients:
“The Partner you have to worry about is the one who appears to have reconciled their resentment, animosity, and unforgiveness in the earliest stages of their Partner’s addiction recovery and their own betrayal trauma recovery, for more often than not, they haven’t.”
These facilities are geared and targeted toward helping patients by treating them (training actually giving them the necessary tools to do so) to learn how to heal their addiction, and in doing so, hopefully their relationships as well. I will encourage any action that improves the overall situation. But I always remain cautiously optimistic under these circumstances endured by Daisy in her relationship.
There is always a window of opportunity, or opportunity cost, associated with addiction and betrayal trauma. Essentially, there are three components:
- Addiction Recovery Work
- Betrayal Trauma Recovery Work
- Relationship Reconstruction Work
You must do every component that applies to you. Make no mistake, if you need to do Addiction Recovery Work, you most definitely have Relationship Restoration Work if you are in a relationship. You cannot ignore one at the expense of the other. If you put in the very minimum amount of work, you can anticipate and expect minimum results. If you put in maximum effort, you can expect maximum results.
Nonetheless, you must always prioritize your own recovery ahead of relationship reconstruction because you can’t possibly be in a position to help the relationship when you can’t even help yourself. I use the airplane oxygen mask analogy to demonstrate how you must first place the oxygen mask on yourself before placing a mask on anyone else. Otherwise, you both will die.
Daisy’s story isn’t finished yet, but it evolves to a place that I’m sorry to say causes me great sorrow. When an addict chooses to continue their addiction, continue to lie their way through it, hurting their Partner over and over again, it yields such devastating consequences for both of them. As long as Daisy is getting angry, and I mean genuinely pissed off to the point of intense rage, that’s a good sign. It’s good because she still has a vested interest in finding a way to heal the addiction, heal her betrayal trauma, and heal the relationship.
If she weren’t, she, like Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind” would simply say “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”, and turn around and walk away. Sadly, that’s where she is. She doesn’t care anymore. Now all her Partner has is a wing and a prayer, and even then that may not, it likely will not, be enough. He continues to follow her around the house like a little lost puppy that he has lied to her all along, promising that he will change, that he finally gets it, and “give me one last chance.”
Whoa, is it that he finally gets it this time? That is different than the previous time how? That is different than the time before that? And the countless other times he made promises he knew he couldn’t and wouldn’t keep? Those promises? If you have ever heard the expression “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” how many times does her dear husband get to fool her without long term ramifications and an end to his foolishness? I think, perhaps, he has played all of his chips, and Daisy has called his hand. He doesn’t have any more chips or hands to play.
WHAT HAS DAISY LOST?
She lost her faith in marriage. She lost what she perceived as her own sexual gratification as she was continuously deprived of it.
“I had many boyfriends who couldn’t keep their hands off me and I swatted them away, and ended up married to the one man who didn’t want to touch me at all,” she said.
I can only imagine what that must have felt like for her as loyalty was so important to her and so trampled on by him. She lost intimacy with the one man she fell in love with. Actually, I don’t think she ever had it. She lost her virginity, and questions having saved it, for the man she gave it up to. She lost her faith in spirituality, religion, and God. She lost insurmountable self-respect buying objects specifically to become more of a sex object just to attract her husband’s attention for she was starving for it; even begging for it.
She found herself engaging other men in very inappropriate dialog, reaction to his actions, or lack thereof as the case may be, as she was starved for attention. And while she feels a lot of embarrassment, guilt, and shame for her actions, they were purely reactive and from a betrayal trauma standpoint, understandable. She lost her sexual prime to his addiction. She lost her safety, security, and sanity in the one place she needed it the most; her own home and environment. She lost all hope for her pursuit of happiness, and all of her dreams, values, and goals. She lost the sanctity of marriage only to suffer the undignified betrayal of her one true love. She lost all five of the love languages; affirmations, service, gifts, time, and touch. She lost her family unit of oneness. She lost her faith in humanity. But most importantly, she lost herself.
She gained an entourage of betrayal trauma and the necessity for recovery work that goes along with it. She has to exhaust emotional real estate on that, along with time, expense, and all the sacrifices that go along with it too. And there are physical consequences; health consequences. And she gained some very beautiful children; a set of twins. I do not want to take away from the gratitude she must have for the positive things that she did gain, but she lost a whole lot more than she ever gained. She once lost her self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-respect, but she is rapidly gaining those things back as she figures out the dynamics of his versus hers versus our roles in it.
So what happened between the time that her story began and her story now? There was a whole lot of wash, rinse, and repeat. That proverbial definition of insanity, “repeating the same thing over and over expecting a different result” is finally coming home to roost. It’s coming to an end. Eventually, the mechanism at work producing that despicable cycle finally wears out and it generally doesn’t end well for the party perpetuating it. Actions have consequences, and for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Reciprocity is something we all want and expect in a relationship. A day of reckoning is upon us.
IS THAT THE END?
Is that the end of the story? Maybe! Maybe not! I can guarantee you it is the end of the story if he continues to patronize, manipulate, and try to control her. She is now in a position of power and authority, and will make decisions that affect her own safety, security, and sanity in her environment. I suspect she will never again allow another human being to be able to do that to her. That becomes her own bitter root expectations solidified by her bitter root judgments.
“What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” I say that all the time.
She has become quite a force to reckon with, and I’m glad to have played a part in empowering her to rise above, make the hard but necessary choices, even if they aren’t necessarily the desired outcome, they are positive ones. I’m proud of the incredibly strong, resilient, and confident woman she has become.
Divorce is very highly probable and inevitable now. He hasn’t expressed much of any interest in genuine recovery, nor has he pursued it except for going through the motions. Whether divorce is the consequence, the seed planted, to yield total brokenness remains to be seen. All of his proverbial “Rock Bottom” moments, where the only place he had to go was up, proved fruitless and inconsequential to him. He managed to yield so much control over her life, that she was poised to live a life of betrayal and disappointment. Now she’s armed and equipped to take full charge of her own destiny. That makes it possible for her to actively engage in her pursuit of happiness. And for that, it really makes my heart smile.
- Don’t ever change your outward appearance to suit another person. If pure straight up nakedness isn’t enough excitement for them, no amount of fixer upper garments or augmentations is going to last more than ten rounds.
- If he is under the age of 55, and is having issues of erectile dysfunction absent a Urologist’s assessment and diagnosis of a physical condition, it is PIED (Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction). As his Urologist determined, his test results, including testosterone, were all normal. He asked for, and received, a prescription for sexual anxiety which he didn’t take anyway which is indicative of knowing he received the prescription that was solicited under false pretenses.
- Don’t ever engage and participate in any outside of the box activities that your Partner does in a state of addiction. It’s like playing with matches while standing in a lake of gasoline. Your Partner has already fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole. Don’t go down there to keep them company.
- Set your Boundaries, Rules, and Consequences, execute and enforce them.
- Pay close attention to your “gut instincts”, “women’s intuition”, “sixth sense”, or whatever you want to call it. It usually is almost always right. Don’t ignore it. Compile a list of it, and watch the puzzle appear right before your very eyes.
- Generally accepted guidelines by most therapists is to wait a full year post D’Day before making any major life decisions.
- I wholeheartedly embrace couples that are and can depend on one another. But always make certain that in a state of dependency, you maintain a healthy balance of independence such that you don’t become stuck, held financially hostage, trapped if you will, and your dependency cannot be used against you.
- Don’t spend a whole lot of time, energy, and effort speculating on trying to figure out what you don’t already know when what you already know is enough. When a history of lying already persexists[sic] (I created that word by combining “persists” and “exists”), go ahead and assume that anything said will be a lie as a preponderance of the evidence suggests. Instead of embracing “I just wish I could go back to the days where I didn’t know what the problem was and live in my ignorant bliss” embrace “Tell me what secrets, if any, that you have been keeping from me?”
- Trust is a balanced equation with words on one side and actions on the other. Continuity and consistency over time is paramount to rebuilding it.
- Resentment, animosity, and unforgiveness are a detriment to personal recovery.
- “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”
- “Animosity hardens your heart and softens your mind”
- “Forgive others, not because they deserve it, but because you do.”
I’m proud of you Daisy. I wish you nothing but the very best on your next phase of your life journey. I love you, and I know you will rise from this like a phoenix out of the ashes, and I’m so humbly proud to know you and witness the woman that you have become beneath that frightened little girl you once were. Always remember; TAKE CARE OF YOU FIRST!
*Writer’s Note: Daisy (her alias) granted permission for me to tell her story.