“Nobody recovers by themselves. Healing will always take place in a community.” (SOSA, p. 133)
My healing in part came from friends who cared and wept with me. They saw and heard my anguish, and often did not have words for me, but they stayed, and did not judge. I told my story and did not hold back on how the betrayal left me feeling lonely and scared. I researched what the impact of this could mean for me. I was not familiar with sexual addiction and didn't understand the ramifications of the damaging effects that perpetuates the cycle of rituals, tolerance levels, acting-out behaviors and disparity have on the addict and family. What I did know is that his behaviors had to stop if I was going to stay in the relationship. I needed to hold tight to my boundaries. Sometimes I felt out of control and it took the form of anger, and needed to express how hurt I was that he could keep a secret from me for so many years. My anger had its purpose; it kept me from minimizing, rationalizing any of his behaviors, and doing what I knew to be safety seeking. I insisted he install Covenant Eyes on the computer, an Internet accountability program. I knew I wasn’t crazy, and his addiction was not going to make me feel that way. I was experiencing the betrayal of the couple trauma and needed my support system for validation and support.
Group settings for partners can be re-traumatizing when you hear words such as “you’re a co-addict, addicted to the addict.” Partners have been wounded with words like, “lose some weight, have more sex, don’t you know you’re chasing him away? “This may come from friends, family and unfortunately, therapists as well. Even though Liz shudders at the word co-addict, which is regularly used in her group, she has developed relationships and has the support she needs from her local S-Anon group. Find the safe people; attend a group that supports what you are experiencing.
As a trauma model group facilitator, Hope for the Heart, I enjoy watching women grow at their pace, wherever they are in the process of healing from the wounds of betrayal, and having their feelings validated by one another is so encouraging to me. They are awesome women that have faced the courage to process their trauma and deal with the difficult changes that had to transpire for mobility and movement towards healing.