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The future depends onwhat you do in the present
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Sexual Addiction: Acting Out Partners, Partners and Couples

African American couple arguing

 

Are you hurting enough and are you willing to change in order to become a better person? Once broken, a life now beautifully restored.

 

ACTING OUT SEX AND LOVE ADDICTS

"You Are a Good Person Who Has Done Bad Things"

There is hope, there is a path through all this carnage you have created through your sex addiction or love addicition. The work will be hard, you will have to face your darkest side, face the harm you have done to others and to yourself, I know this place well professionally and personally. You will have to find the courage to face all the damage you have done, to be accountable, to expose your sexual addiction or love addiction to the light. In your shame you have hidden it in the dark far too long. You are a "good person who has done bad things!" And if you don't address this issue, it will only get worse! By the way, if you think you can do this alone, you can't, you have tried and it didn't work. Your resolves never held.

I have seen and helped in the restoration of individuals who are prepared to face their dark side in order to have a better second life, we worked hard together. If you are committed, I am commited, but let's not waste our time with quick fixes. Don't come to me if you think there is a magic bullet. Quick fixes are only a bandage, given time it will fall off and you will return to your compulsive out of control sexual behavior. You most likely have an attachment disorder, possibly a secondary co-addiction and you probably do not know how to self sooth in a healthy manner (you perhaps don't even know what that means). I have worked for 30 years in this field, 15 years in the field of sex addiction and love addiction or as some call it, out of control sexual behavior. There is a reason that all of this happened, that is what you and I will be doing, should we work together, examining "the reason" and then we will begin fixing "the reason". Insight isn't enough, that is why I use EMDR, EFT, and Gestalt therapy to address and clear "the reason". We will look at your family of orign and how you came to believe "you are not good enough" or "that there is something wrong with you". Partrick Carnes in his research of sex and love addiction, discovered 85.6% of individuals living ith sex addiction or love addiction come from families of sexual and/or physical and/or verbal abuse and there might also be an "attachment disorder". One's negative beliefs can become the driving force in sex addiction and it (the negative belief) has been with you since you were a child or adolescent. I use the program of recovery, laid out by Partick Carnes of IITAP,  Tara Brach, Noah Levine and many others. I may suggest testing (SDI, Sexual Dependency Inventory) to determine if you have a sexual compulsive disorder and discern how serious your sex addiction is. I will give you my professional knowledge, books to read, workbooks specifically for sex addiction, practical resources to actively use, tools for the days your dark side might take over. We will examine why you can't "self-sooth in a healthy manner" and why you are unable to attach. And then you will learn how to "self-sooth in a healthy manner". We will explore your co-dependency, "your being such a nice person through taking care of the needs of others to the detriment of your own well being, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, and/or financial" and explore the rage under it all and the justification to take care of your needs through your sexual acting out, love addiction, out of control compulsive sexual behavior,  through porn, fantasy, hook-ups, multiple affairs, intriguing, sex workers, sex clubs, sex "chats', etc., the list is endless. 

"Sexual addiction is the inability to self sooth in a healthy manner" Patrick Carnes. I would like to go back to that very key comment by Dr. Carnes. The phases I often hear from the partner of sex addicts is, "No one will believe me, he is such a nice guy, he is so ethical, such a great father, so loved by friends and family, admired, they work so hard, are such a great parent...!" Partners are in shock, they are suffering from PTSD because of the discovery of your out of control sexual behavior, they don't know this you. And now that you have been snapped out of your trance, by your own actions, you have been forced to to wake up to the reality of your dark, secreative, conniving, cunning, trickster self. You never thought you would get caught, because you thought you were so clever at hiding it. You justified your actions by saying, "I work so hard, I give so much and now it is my time and I deserve this!" Acting out clients often say, how relieved they are that they got caught, that it became hard trying to remember all the lies, scared that their the partner would see the charges on the credit card bill or get a sexually transmitted disease because you began to have unsafe sex, that they (the partner) would pick up the smart phone and realized it is a double or see on the screen an intimate and loving text message from someone else, discover your Tinder account, the list is endless. You know what you have done to hid your addiction. As your addiction progressed it became harder to maintain the two sides, the sex addict became bolder and greedier all the time. You were ignorant about the tsunami you were creating, until it all came crashing down!

Your integrity is gone, your believeability is gone and you are a mess. Do you have the strength to face all that you have done, do you have the courage enough to tell the truth about all your lies, your secrets, your acting out history, how you duped your partner (if you don't, your partner will find all your dirty secrets, if they stay), are you able to be accountable? You have no idea, because you have been in a trance of your sex addiction or love addiction, of all the harm you have done.

Please read the section on partners of sex addicts, it will enlighten you about what their reality is like right now. 

And yet, I believe and have seen it, been a part of it, that you have opportunity to turn this second half of your life around, only if you are committed and hurting enought to intentionally choose to become a better person. Your sex addiction/love addiction is a coping mechanism because you did not have the ability to "self sooth in a healty manner". Nor were you taught, in your family or in our society,  to "self sooth in a healthy manner". Your compulsive out of control sexual behavior indicated something is terribly wrong with you. Your acting out is the weeping wound in your heart, that is calling out for repair. Patrick Carnes named recovery from sex addiction as a "hero's journey" in which you return from a epic journey, a changed, authentic and better person. You have the opportunity to decide and choose that your broken life is worthy of repair so that you can live to your full potential. To love fuller and be kinder, to know discomfort and not run away from it, to learn humility and ruthless honesty, to live with integrity, to accept fully who you really are and stop hiding yourself from others and from yourself, to not be defined by your past or your resentments. This is an opportunity to take all the shattered pieces and with artful repair and golden joinery, by your own hands and others, to turn your ugly breaks into beautiful fixes, I have seen it happen! Never give up on yourself

If you look at the last section of this page, you will see the specific steps I recommend that we will begin with, should we work together. This first section has been about my understanding of sex addition, love addiction,and out of control sexual behavior, based on my experience of 15 years of working directly in this field, along with my extensive training to become a Certified Sex Addiction and Trauma Therapist with Patrick Carnes of ITTAP (foremost researcher, therapist, educator in the field of "out of control sexual behavior" otherwise called sex addiction/love addiction). Let's add to this mix, 30 years experience as a full time, private practice psychotherapist, my specific training as a trauma therapist for 20 years (EMDR, Level I and II), Couples Therapist (Gottman, Level I and II, Harville Hendrix), 30 years as a Gestalt Therapist (3year training at the Gestalt Institute of Vancouver), training in Compassion Therapy (Kristen Neff), Relapse Prevention Training (Sue Nuefeld), and on it goes. My training never stops, that is the beauty and challenge of this field that I work in. I completed my training in EFT (Tapping) because it is a useful tool for clients to use it in their daily lives, along with Mindfulness Meditation. I do not come to this field naively or lightly. I know suffering and I do not want others to be alone in their pain like I was. I want my clients to have a safe place which I did not have until I was a client under the professional and compassionate care of my therapist who also taught me how to be a good therapist.

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"That place of true healing is a fierce place. It's a giant place of monstrous beauty and endless hard and glimmering light, and you have to work really, really, really hard to get there, but you can do it." (Cheryl Strayed, Betrayed)

 

PARTNERS OF SEX ADDICTION AND POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Get help immediately, it is like you have been hit with a car while crossing the street and the walk light was green. If this had actually happened to you, you would go to emergency, it is the same in this situation. You have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). You need help right now.

Your life has shattered into a million pieces and will never be the same. You probably discovered your partners sex/love addiction and you most likely don't even know the whole story. You are in shock and disbelief, you feel like you don't know who your partner really is. You don't know where to turn to get help. You are confused, not sleeping, can't eat, your emotions swing from anger to deep, deep hurt, to sadness, depression, and back to anger again. You are scrambling to find out the whole truth, horrified with each revelation. They tell you, they have told you everything and then they tell you something more which is even worse. It begins to feel like torture. You wait for the next blow. It is like a hurricane has struck and nothing is left standing and you don't know where to start. "Do I stay or do I leave? Who do I tell?" You might be filled with revulstion, disgust and shame. You compare your body, your face to the images on the internet or to their acting out partner/s. You have become someone you don't recognize in your anger and accusations.You hide your body from them, become very private, that is new, you can't bear to sleep next to them.You have never felt so alone, so afraid and stupid, asking yourself over and over again, "How come I didn't know?" Shocked at the discovery that they duped you so well, they convinced you into believing there is something wrong with you to keep you off track. You feel rage when you discover they didn't have safe sex and when you learn about the extent of their out of control sexual behavior. Your relationship as you knew it is gone, your first marraige is gone. You can't stop from ruminating. You can't stop investigating or questioning, your rage at times is out of control, as is your contempt. You may even hit them, you do things you never thought you would do. Searching on their electronic devices, fighting on the phone and then hanging up. You consider face lifts, botox, three-somes, anything, out of your insecurity. You are vigilant, cross-examining, watching his eyes and where they turn, checking if they are where they said they are, tracking them on the Smart Phone, trying to control their lives. Your new reality is  living in a constant state of fear, anxiety, despair, rage, helplessness and shame. Perhaps you realize as deperate as you are to control them, you can't, and they may outwit you and that is terrifying!

All trust is gone, you don't know if you can ever believe them again. Your home, car, (if it was used in acting out) your life, your love feels contaminated. You never know what will trigger you, pictures in magazines, T.V. shows and movies, the news, articles in the newspaper, a certain smell of perfume, clothes, etc. These are all symptoms of PTSD. You are vigilant, sleepless, irritated, angry and jumpy Your emotions are out of control, you are always waiting for the next bomb to drop,. You are mentally and physically exhausted. Let's not forget the deep shame you eperience and the fear of judgement from others, should they know. They (your partner) knew all along that they were betraying you, they knew about their double life, their recovery is just beginning. Your discovery is just beginning, you are reviewing your life, trying to remember what you were doing when they were acting out. Your life as you knew it has ended. And now you too are keeping secrets!

Dear One:  I would like you to pause, right here (you have been reading the stories of many of my clients). Now ask yourself, "How am I feeling right now?"  Feel your feet on the ground. Are you afraid? Take a few deep breaths, check in, listen to yourself, put your hand on your heart as a sign that you too deserve compassion and kindness. Are you sad, are your crying, do you feel hopeless? I apologize for telling you the truth, and I can't sugar coat this terrible dilemma that you find yourself in. I want you know that you are not alone. I know I have been there.

HOW DO YOU RESTORE YOUR LIFE AS A PARTNER OF A SEX/LOVE ADDICT

GET HELP! MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY, YOU NEED CARE IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT ABANDON YOURSELF. YOU NEED TO WORK ON YOUR SENSE OF WORTHINESS WHICH HAS BEEN STRIPPED AWAY. YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO BE COMPASSIONATE TOWARD YOURSELF. YOU NEED TO ADDRESS THE PTSD. PLEASE, DON'T GIVE UP ON YOURSELF! YOU ARE SEVERELY INJURED.

YOUR MUST FIND A PATH OF SELF COMPASSION FOR ALL THE SUFFERING YOU ARE GOING THROUGH AND YOU MUST LEARN HOW TO DO IT NOW. YOU WILL DISCOVER THAT BEING ANGRY AT YOUR ACTING OUT PARTNER FEELS VERY POWERFUL AND MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE IN CONTROL, IN THE LONG TERM IT DOESN'T WORK. IF YOU CONTINUE USING ANGER AS A VEHICLE FOR POWER AND PUNISHMENT, BITTERNESS AND RAGE WILL BECOME YOUR PATH IN YOUR LIFE AND RELATIONSHIP IF YOU STAY. IF YOU CHOOSE SELF COMPASSION, CLARITY WILL EMERGE.

THIS EXPERIENCE WILL CHANGE YOU FOR BETTER OR WORSE. IT WILL BRING UP OLD WOUNDS FROM CHILDHOOD, OLD INJURIES, ALL THAT WILL COME FLOODING BACK. PERHAPS YOU WILL NEED TO FORGIVE YOURSELF FOR NOT KNOWING ABOUT THEIR OUT OF CONTROL SEXUAL BEHAVIOR.

You need a safe place to be supported for all that you are going through right now, to be with someone who can hold your suffering, who will not shame you while you decide whether to stay or leave your relationship. You need the following:

1. Stop trying to fix your acting out sex partner, I know you are scared that if you don't, they won't take action.

2. A safe place in which someone will hold your shattered heart in their hands with compassion, go find that person.

3. You need an explanation of what sex/love addiction is or what out of control sexual behavior is, from someone who is qualified, trained and certified in this field, a certified sex addiction therapist (CSAT). They will tell you what your partners path of recovery needs to be if they are to become healthy and sober.

4. Resources for this difficult journey you are on (books, knowledge, tools to rebalance and restore yourself (meditation, Tapping, self-compassion...).

5. Full disclosure, should you wish it.

6. Healing for your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

7. Grief counselling.

8. Couples counselling.

 

 

couple holding hands and running on beach

 

"Our most meaningful relationships are often those that continued beyond the juncture at which they came closest to ending."

 (Cheryl Strayed)

 

HOW DO WE RESTORE OUR RELATIONSHIP AFTER DISCOVERY OF SEX/LOVE ADDICTION (OR OUT OF CONTROL SEXUAL ACTING OUT)

Your first marriage is gone, it will never return! Restoration from sexual addiction in a marriage will take much time, all trust is gone, all rules have been broken and need to be re-examined and  reconstructed. Full honest disclosure will need to addressed. The partner of the recovering sex/love addict will need to express the damage done to them, as will remorse from the acting out partner in order for some possibility of healing of the relationship. It is absolutely necessary for both partners to learn new communication skills, the old ones no longer work in this horrendous crisis.. The first year of the coupleship, after discovery, to put it frankly, will be hell. The tools I will be using in couple's therapy is from my training with Patrick Carnes, The Gottmans' and Harville Hendrix. Courageous, ruthless honesty is absolutely essential for any possibility of recovery for the couples living with sexual addiction. I will provide eductational materials through websites, reading material, tools to navigate this difficult time period and information to how to link up with other couples in recovery. If you are going to make this relationship work, you absolutely need new communication skills, right now the two of you use words as a weapon to stab each other, manipulate, express unleashed and contempt. I will give you those communication skills. I know this path well.

I have worked therapeutically with couples who intentionally created a second marriage which is a very rich, never stagnant, brutally honest, alive and a painfully truthful relationship. What was key and what cleared the path of the creation of "the new relationship", was that each person committed to work hard in their indivdual therapy. The acting out partner attended 12 step meetings (Sex Addiction Anonymous, Love and Sex Addiction Anonymous), the partner of the recovering sex addict also went to their own individual therapy, and possiby attended a 12 step group for partners. It is a very painful process, the first year is chaos, as the couple walk individually and together through the duluge of their relationship.  Staying or leaving is constantly at the forefront of the coupleship, the only thread that keeps the relationship going is the commitment to give it a year to see if there is any possibility of restoration. The partner is very reticent to not get duped again, doesn't know if they can trust their partner again. The longer the acting out and the longer the relationship, the longer the recovery of relationship. And yet I have seen a new beautiful garden emerge from the wreckage of the old.

In all my work as a therapist, I use my compassion, professional and personal knowlege, training, and knowledge from 30 years of actively working in the field of providing therapy and  a safe place, together with my experience of being a client, in working with couples.