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#63158 - 08/25/02 01:17 PM So many questions...need answers
jab Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/25/02
Posts: 9
Loc: Texas
hi!
please excuse my ignorance as i have just a few days become exposed to this problem for the first time. my husband has been going through something for the past few months. he finally opened up to me revealing that he had been molested several times during his childhood. he is says he is very confused about his feelings and what he wants. he has flashbacks and sometimes has thoughts of other guys.

my questions for any of you who have gone through this,
1) are these thoughts and confusions normal for this type of situation?
2) is there a chance for our marriage to survive this?
3) will he ever want a normal sex life with me?
4) what can i do to help him get through this?

i am many, many more questions, but i will not bombard you with them. if anyone can offer advice to me, i would greatly appreciate it...thanks!


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#63159 - 08/25/02 09:11 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
jab Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/25/02
Posts: 9
Loc: Texas
Matt,
Thank you for answering some of the many questions going through my mind. Just as you suggested, I plan to be patient and give my husband time to heal. I am wondering how much time it take though...months, years, lifetimes??? We have been together 8 years, married almost 4. Throughout this time, he has never expressed any signs of being gay. How can he go from being a normal heterosexual husband to being gay? Is this common for SA victims?


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#63160 - 08/26/02 10:53 AM Re: So many questions...need answers
searching Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/00
Posts: 21
Hi, jab.

I really feel for you. Just a few years ago, I was exactly where you are now. Full of fears, doubts, totally cast adrift. It felt like the rug had been completely pulled out from under me.

My husband was also abused for several years as a young boy. He struggled with many issues, the primary ones being anger/rage and sexual identity. There were plenty of side issues too--figuring out his/our relationship with his family (he was abused by his brother), coping with parenting our kids during this crisis, dealing with the financial impact of therapy, etc.

For me, the toughest thing to deal with was wondering if he was gay. I don't think this is cut-and-dried. He kept telling me he was absolutely not gay, while admitting that he had continual fantasies about guys. Our worst crisis was when he actually had an encounter with a guy (this is commonly referred to as "acting out"--that is, acting on the recurrent sexual fantasies in an almost involuntary way). At that point, it became clear that the somewhat casual therapy he'd been having was not going deep enough. It was also obvious that I needed help too--I was so completely caught up in his stuff that I was ignoring my own issues and needs.

Things have gotten much better for us. My husband is involved in therapy with a wonderful woman therapist. She works with him on his past, but also deals very concretely in cognitive issues and coping with right now. His anger problems have become so much better. We are closer and kinder to each other than we had been in years.

I also saw a therapist for about a year, and got to the root of many of my own problems. It was necessary for me to understand what parts of this crisis were just his--things I couldn't change or help with--and what things belonged to both of us, as a couple. It's important to come to an understanding about your boundaries as well as his.

The whole problem of sexuality is very tough to deal with. It took both of us a long time to recognize that what he was really yearning to do was reenact the abuse, for two reasons: 1) because that specific form of pleasure had been imprinted on him from a very early age, and 2) he somehow felt that by reenacting the abuse he could control it and become the "powerful" one in the scenario (instead of the completely powerless child he had been).

This sounds pretty simple, but it's actually a very emotionally charged, painful, excrutiating process. I spent months--no, years--worried about him, what he was doing when I wasn't there, whether he was "escalating" the fantasies again, etc. Rebuilding trust took a very long time, and I don't know whether I'm completely there yet.

You asked whether your marriage could survive this. Well, I guess that's like asking the same question about any crisis--could your marriage survive one of you having cancer, or being in a terrible accident, or having a serious affair. Your marriage can survive anything if you're willing to work at it, and if he is too. If only one of you is working, it probably won't survive. If you blame him for everything that's wrong--or if he blames you--it probably won't survive. If you decide that you can only stay married within a very rigid definition of love (he can never think about anything except sex with me, etc.), your marriage may not survive. If you don't take care of your own needs and issues, your marriage may not survive.

If, however, you are willing to keep working, if you find therapy and help and support together and separately, if you can go through the inevitable crashes and fights and breakdowns but still pick yourselves up, recognize your love for each other, and work through another day, your marriage may not only survive--it may become stronger than ever.

I know that the crisis my husband and I went through did give us some gifts. I know that we can get through a crisis together, maybe not perfectly, but pretty darn well. We managed to stay true to our belief in being good parents, and our kids seem to have come through this pretty well also. We've learned to take life on its own terms, instead of demanding that it be exactly what we expect. We're more grateful for each day, and each moment.

I've also learned that my sense of self-worth doesn't just rest on what my husband thinks about me. I've enriched my life with doing things I always loved, things I hadn't done in years. My husband has done the same. So new roads opened up, when it seemed like only roadblocks would come our way.

As I said in my first sentence--I really feel for you. Going through this is so difficult. But if your husband is everything that I'm sure you believe he is--everything that you married him for--then you can find your way through this dark night of the soul.

If you read some of the posts on this site, you'll realize that survivors can be very amazing men. They have gained, very painfully, an incredible sensitivity to the hurt of others. Because they are often struggling to discover what makes a "real man," they can turn out to be better men than most.

One of my husband's therapists spoke to me when things were really awful with us, and she said something very simple but, I think, very profound. She said, "This may sound trite, but I really believe that love can conquer anything, and I think you two have an amazing amount of love for each other."

Best of luck to you both.

Lynda


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#63161 - 08/26/02 06:43 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
jab Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/25/02
Posts: 9
Loc: Texas
it is comforting knowing that others have gone through this and survived the turmoil. as you said, i feel that my world has been turned upside down. i know that i will soon need to get help for myself. my husband has yet to get help, but he is planning to in the very near future. i am hoping this will take away some of the horrible pain he is feeling.

my husband was the most loving, giving, and affectionate guy i have ever known. over the past few months he has turned into an angry, cold and irritable person. it is hard for me to understand the change in his attitude. i feel our marriage can survive because we love each other so much. of course this all depends on what he decides he wants, whether he determines he is gay or straight. he is so confused and says he has demons that he has not yet revealed. time and therapy will tell whether our marriage is meant to be. i plan to stick by him and be a friend for the time being.

a couple more questions for you >>>
was your partner ever at the point where he did not want to go on, he didn't feel like he wanted to live any longer?
if so, how did you cope with this and convince him otherwise?
will there be a time when life returns to normal, a time when i am not constantly worrying about his life?

thank you so much for all of your advice and words of encouragement. i think this site has been a life saver for me. if you have any other words of advice to lend, please post them for me.

thanks again!


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#63162 - 08/26/02 07:37 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
jab
I think I recognise your husband, he's my long lost twin ;\)

It's what we do, what we've been driven to do.
The confusion in our sexual history doesn't go away until we make the decision to confront it and get help in confronting it.
He's a long way into that scenario, he's got your support and is starting therapy.
The important thing is he's making a concious decision to get help soting it out, I bet he's spent many years thinking he could "cure" himself.

For 31 years I believed that all I had to do was tell myself to stop thinking these fantasies and they would go away - fat chance !! all I did was think in circles. Therapy and my wifes support taught me new ways to think, gave me new angles on my problems, and for the most part the problems have subsided to being manageable in about 5 years.
But I must stress this isn't always the case, my wife is simply astonishing in her support, even when confronted with my acting out and suicidal thoughts.
But Like Matt and Lynda so rightly say, just let it happen, if he feels like telling you things let him, encourage him to talk yes, but find your own level of asking questions - be careful, he might not be ready to disclose certain details at just that time.
And my therapist is the best ( for me anyway )
So time scales and the level of recovery are impossible to predict, but a good life is a reality.

Ok, our sex life is sparce, but we're close and intimate and the level of trust and understanding between us is so much more than before.
The first 25 years of our marriage went downhill slowly, she thought I wasn't interested in her and was having affairs etc, I've never been unfaithful with other women, so telling her about my past a few days before our 25th anniversary turned out to be a better present than a new diamond ring.
We both think so now, and she treasure the ring I promise you, but we both treasure our new rapidly improving life together even more.

So I guess the answer to your questions are
1. YES
2. YES
3. YES
4. Love him, trust him and work WITH him.

Keep bombarding us with questions, we love helping helping victims become survivors.

Lloydy \:\)

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#63163 - 08/27/02 03:50 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
searching Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/00
Posts: 21
Hi again, jab.

To answer your two questions:

1. Yes, my husband did go through a brief period when he felt that he'd rather be dead than go on. He had always told me, before, that he would never consider suicide, especially because we have two young children. But at a certain point I think he felt so lost and depressed that he became suicidal. I did my best to tell him all the reasons why his life was worth living, that "this too would pass"--but, having been a depression sufferer myself, I knew that I couldn't solve this for him. I did what I knew had to be done--since I'd been through it, too. I made sure he was never alone during that time. I asked him whether he had a "plan" to end his life (he didn't). I insisted that he see a therapist immediately, and threatened to leave if he would not. This sounds harsh, but it was life or death and I knew he would respond to this threat. I would have taken him to the emergency room or called an ambulance if I had to. I called his therapist myself to tell her what was going on and ask her advice. He was put on antidepressant medication. While I don't think this solves all or even most problems, I do believe it is helpful during the worst part of the depression and pain that can accompany the early stages of recovery.

We got through that period with both medical and therapeutic help. I can't stress enough how important it is for you to gather your support systems together now:
1. a good therapist for each of you, and perhaps one who can see you both;
2. medical (psychiatric or family doc) help if he (and perhaps you also) needs it;
3. trusted family and/or friends in whom you can confide (but be careful how you discuss this--there is, unfortunately, a huge stigma to be overcome, and you need to be sure you can truly trust those in whom you confide);
4. good books on dealing with his AND your issues (Mike Lew's books, especially Victims No Longer, are my personal favorites, and Patrick Carnes' book Don't Call It Love, about sexual addiction, is also very helpful);
5. sometimes, just something to help you escape from these overwhelming issues--a good and uplifting video or two, good books, visits to church if you're so inclined.

You need to start thinking about these things now, because when things are awful you'll have less energy and clarity to do so.

You also asked whether life would ever get back to normal. That's a tough one to answer. Here's how I feel, about four years after we started recovery and two years after our biggest crisis (his betrayal of our marriage vows by acting out): Normal has changed. I had to let go of some unrealistic beliefs about what was "normal." I had to work through enormous amounts of anger, loss, and betrayal. Lots of "why me???" stuff. I also had to work VERY hard to stop--and stop wanting to--checking up on his every move, what sites he was going to on the Internet, etc. I had to realize that I can't control him (Patrick Carnes' book, especially the part about codependents, was a huge help on this). I had to work hard of letting go of the constant concern about "what was he thinking." And, hardest of all, I had to realize that there was a very real possibility that our marriage might end. Of course, at first this seemed very likely--and then recovery begins and you start saying "Great, it's all going to be okay!!" And then some backsliding happens, and pain and loss all over again. Through this process you start to realize that the only person you can really control in life is yourself. You learn to refocus. You learn to actually start loving and stop clinging. Sounds easy, but I'm only partway there. Some days I do a great job. Some days I suck at it. But I'm working.

I will say this--there have been times in the past couple of years where I truly felt grateful for the process. We gave up drinking during this too--it was important to let go of ALL addictions so that we could move forward. And there were some nights and days when reality felt just fine. When it was okay to know that he was flawed, I was flawed, but what we had was real. No longer both of us pretending to be something else but hiding certain painful truths.

Gosh, I do ramble on, don't I? I've gotta say, too, that I never really thought I'd be sitting at this end of the room, giving help to others. It scares me a bit--seems to be tempting fate!! But there were folks who were so wonderful when I needed help (not that I still don't, often!). And I want to give some of that back. It also makes me feel good to write this down and realize how far we've come . . . even though we've still got far to go.

Keep posting. Keep visiting. Ask questions. I'll try to help whenever I can.

And, Lloydy, just wanted to say that your posts are some of the most inspiring things for me. Thanks for being so honest and, really, just downright decent. By the way, my husband and I have a somewhat "sparse" sex life too--but it seems, now, that when we DO get around to it, it's nicer, closer, maybe more honest. Hope I'm not kidding myself . . .

Best to you both.

Lynda


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#63164 - 08/27/02 06:26 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Lynda
thank you so much for that, I might not know what I'm doing, but I know what I've done.
And what I have done is moved on from the awful life I led, thankfully Sugar ( my wife ) has pushed me, led me and kicked my arse all along the way. Alone I'd be a bum...

What you say about your husband "betraying your marriage vows" is interesting.
I have never looked upon my acting out as infidelity, to me infidelity is a concious effort of looking for something better - or at least different, it at least needs some attraction to the other person. I never even got their names !!

I think that even at the time I subconciously realised I was out of control.
I have often said that my abusers took me by the hand and led me into the stinking toilets looking for sex, I now firmly believe that to be the case. I didn't go voluntarily.

Does that sound like a cop out ? I'm sure it would to someone outside the SA community, just as it would to a partner who discovered her husband acted out either very early on in the disclosure / recovery process or, even worse, accidental discovery of the acting out without knowing about the partners SA.

My wife discovered accidentaly, but a couple of years into my recovery, it hurt at the time. But not nearly as much as I thought it would.
I had everything written down in graphic detail and she read it, so she knows EXACTLY what I've done. ( she actually felt so guilty about betraying me for having read my story, believe me that was one confusing night )

But I also think I was about to tell her soon anyway, which reinforces the point of not pestering the survivor for answers and details.
The whole deal with SA is based on secrets, we keep them an awful long time and they become so hard to give up all at once. I still have some, and the stupid thing is they're not as "bad" as what she already knows, so why keep them ?
When I'm ready...........

Sex ??? well it's sparse as I say, but maybe it is for most 50 yo couples if you believe the crummy newspaper surveys. But we deal with that, my priority was to stop acting out and to rid myself of the fantasies that dominated my life.
I've nearly done that, I certainly haven't acted out for over 4 years, or been close to it for about 2 yrs.
So a regular sex life is the price we've paid, but in return I have my sanity, a fairly normal life, I have my life. My best friend who went through the same as me at school doesn't, they took it away from him, and nearly took mine too.

We're working on getting our sex life back, and when it happens it's getting better.
The main reason for me not enjoying sex with the woman I love was the intrusion of the fantasies, for me it's the last great hurdle.

I'm rambling on as well, but I hope it gives Lynda and Jab some idea of how it affects us men.

"We do crazy things when we're wounded." ( Tom Waits )

Lloydy \:\)

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#63165 - 08/27/02 09:06 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
searching Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/00
Posts: 21
Lloydy, as always it's great to get your point of view, because I can listen to many of the same things that my husband has already said (the things that you're saying now)--but without all the specific pain of having it come from my husband!

It's interesting that you say that you never thought of your acting out as infidelity. My husband said that also--he said "It had nothing to do with you." I guess if it had been with a woman, it would have been standard infidelity in his eyes. But to me, it was a betrayal of our marriage vows either way. We both promised to only have sex with each other--that's part of the contract. So it hurt like hell. And sometimes it almost seems scarier than it might if it had been a woman--because this is so much more compulsive and, let's face it, I can't ever compete with it. I can do a lot of fun things in bed, but I can't grow new hardware . . . \:\)

I will give me husband credit for one thing (well, for lots of things, but this one in particular)--he didn't wait for me to find out about it on my own. He told me what he had done, and it was horrible but I knew that he wanted us to stay together, that he knew it was time to get more help. So I felt a bit less betrayed because of that.

Like I said to jab, for me (and, I'll bet, for many partners of survivors) the two toughest issues are the acting out/fantasies, and the anger/rage/withdrawal. When things with my husband were the worst, I felt like he hated me and might do any crazy thing at any moment. He would lash out at me because, as he said, he hated himself so much, and I was just unlucky enough to be there at the time . . . he never hit me (he's really not that type, for which I'm grateful), but he certainly said some of the most wounding things I could ever imagine.

And yet, somehow, I knew that he wasn't really angry at me. Some might call that denial, but after years of dealing with this, I think I know what I'm talking about.

I'm glad to hear that you feel more able to control some of the compulsive stuff that's held you prisoner for so long. I work hard to understand that my husband is not CHOOSING to have these thoughts, it's more like they are having him . . . although I won't deny that there are times that I just want it to stop!!!! I don't say that, I just quietly think it, and try to move on . . .

Well, enough of my stuff. Like I said, Lloydy, reading your posts helps me a ton. Please keep posting. And, jab--keep hanging in there!

Lynda


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#63166 - 08/28/02 03:09 AM Re: So many questions...need answers
Roy Offline
Member

Registered: 08/02/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Los Angeles
To Lynda and Lloydy:

Thank you both so very much for being there, for yourselves, your partners, and for all of us. These last few posts in response to jab are the most inspirational and loving I've read here, and I've read some pretty good stuff! Both of you give me a great deal of hope for the future. This is what its all about.

And to jab:

I have a feeling you are ultimately going to emerge from this crisis an even stronger person with a bountiful life. As you know, it will be a bumpy road at times with plenty of twists and turns, and will probably take longer than you want it to. It sounds like you are approaching this situation with a loving spirit, an open mind, and a certain amount of humility. That will serve you well in the long run. My heart goes out to you and your family.

Roy


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#63167 - 08/28/02 12:46 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
jab Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/25/02
Posts: 9
Loc: Texas
i am finally starting to realize that my life will no longer be as it once was. this whole process is going to take years, if not a lifetime. it is just so hard to deal with this angry person everyday. i feel so alone and emotionally empty. i no longer get love or affection or comfort from my husband. i start wondering why i should deal with all of this mess for the rest of my life. my husband is so confused right now that he doesn't even know whether he will want a wife once he gets a clear head...he said it might be three years before he decides that. should i stick around for 3 years wondering each day when he is going to decide whether he wants me as a wife???
also, we had so many dreams, such as having children (before all of this came to light, we had planned on trying this month). is that now out of the question? should i not even think about starting a family?

i try to remain positive and strong and supportive, but it is nearly impossible to do that 24/7. although i have no reason to be, i sometimes get angry at him for the way things have changed. again, i just can't understand how he went from the most loving man to the most angry, cold man. did it just all come to an end where he could no longer cover up his pain or hide his flashbacks? all of this just hit me out of the blue....

many thanks to all of you who have responded to my post. your words of encouragement and advide have gotten me through all this so far, so keep it coming!


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#63168 - 08/28/02 04:12 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Cement Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 740
Loc: Southern California
To answer just a small portion of this last post, let me say to you, Jab:

Yes, this did sudenly scome up for your husband, but, with proper love, care and therapy, the effects will diminish over time and may even subside completely.

Searching:
Wow...I think I will print out your post and give it to my wife. It is profound and beautiful and so encouraging, even with your disclaimers! Thank you , especially for putting into words what the reality of acting out is - a reliving of the abuse, either to claim power over it or because the abuse is imprinted. My experience was imprinted almost as deeply as the genetic sexual urge. WEhat a fucking bummer.

Just please remember, as I think you do (just being here shows sensitivity and interest), we are trying to do the best we can.

_________________________
And let the darkness fear our light.

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#63169 - 08/28/02 05:39 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
searching Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/00
Posts: 21
Thank you, Cement, it helps to know that maybe I'm on the right track.

And I do try my best to see that my husband (and all of you) is trying the very best he can. He says that to me sometimes--"Can you see how hard I'm working at this? Do you think I'd do all of this if I didn't care?"

We're all so wrapped up in wanting and needing our own things. What I've been trying to do, over time, is take the advice that I found in a wonderful book by Pema Chodron (a Buddhist nun--her book is called When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times). She says that, at the worst of times, we have to learn to "Lean into the sharp points." In other words, stop trying to escape from the pain, whether by denying it or acting out or using other addictions. Just learn to sit with it, and gradually learn to see that, like everything else, good or bad, it will eventually pass.

So, best to all others who are leaning in as best they can . . .

Lynda


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#63170 - 08/28/02 07:59 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Betrayal, that I understand completely.

I betrayed myself, my wife and those friends I hold dear to me.
And I still feel that I am doing it, every time I masturbate I feel it, when the fantasies creep in I feel it. And sometimes when tell a little white lie and say I'm better than I actually am I feel it.
But it lessens with time and effort. Nobody ever offered me a cure, much less an instant fix.

I felt very guilty, when my wife found and read my story. I had got into a pattern of Wed night therapy, Thurs night writing and Fri night talking. I couldn't talk after therapy, I needed time to sort out all the ideas, and writing was the way I did it ( still do ) well, it was Fri early evening when she found it. I think I would have told her what happened, but nobody needs the full details that I needed to excorcise through my writing.

She says she accepts it wasn't "me" that did it, but I couldn't begin to imagine how difficult it must be until I read what Lynda wrote

Quote:
I'm glad to hear that you feel more able to control some of the compulsive stuff that's held you prisoner for so long. I work hard to understand that my husband is not CHOOSING to have these thoughts, it's more like they are having him . . . although I won't deny that there are times that I just want it to stop!!!! I don't say that, I just quietly think it, and try to move on . . .
Do I detect a little white lie there Lynda ?
We all try desperately to protect one another, and it's the right thing to do I guess, it shows we care, it shows we are having responsible thoughts about our partners. So it works both ways, we all gain a little bit.
Sugar doesn't need to know exactly what I did with who and when, and I want to believe she's a tower of strength behind me. It's a huge act of trust for both of us, I have to trust that if she hides some of her feelings for my benefit she would eventually tell me if it got to much.

It's a hell of a fine line we walk, and it's getting wider for me by talking to partners who aren't mine, thanks girls.

Jab, you're right to think in years, and also lifetime, we can't make ourselves forget, we wish we could.
But a few years can see dramatic improvement, but it does take commitment. And I think you have that already.

It's going to be tough, and you have to look after yourself, because we're usually more concerned with our problems when we're in the thick of it. Bang goes affection and intimacy, welcome to forgotten birthdays and anniversaries, it was like that here anyway. I'm still having to make a concious effort to hold the hand of the woman I love when we're out walking !! It makes me mad.

If your husband hasn't yet acted out the chances are it's just a fantasy developed from the abuse.
he sounds just like me, but I kept my secret so long I made the fantasy happen.
As he works through it it'll become clearer to him, sooner rather than later with the right help and support.

You're obviously a lot younger than us if you're thinking about a family, something I denied us. Although we now realise it was my abusers that stopped me.
I never believed I was capable or trustworthy enough to be a father. I was terrified of repeating the cycle, although sex with - abusing -children NEVER entered any fantasies. But I didn't understand how it worked back then.
It's only now, when it's too late, that I know different.
And that's the biggest thing the bastards stole from me and Sugar.

Work at recovery, it's an achievable goal.

Lloydy

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#63171 - 08/30/02 10:44 AM Re: So many questions...need answers
searching Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/00
Posts: 21
Lloydy, I kept thinking about what you wrote in your last post:

Quote:
We all try desperately to protect one another, and it's the right thing to do I guess, it shows we care, it shows we are having responsible thoughts about our partners. So it works both ways, we all gain a little bit.
Sugar doesn't need to know exactly what I did with who and when, and I want to believe she's a tower of strength behind me. It's a huge act of trust for both of us, I have to trust that if she hides some of her feelings for my benefit she would eventually tell me if it got to much.
Here's one tough thing that I deal with--I do try to tell my husband when it gets too difficult for me to deal with my feelings of betrayal, loss, and fear about possible behavior. But sometimes I hold back because I know he starts to feel "interrogated," and also I know sometimes that my curiosity is morbid, that I want to know but I don't REALLY want to know what he's thinking.

I wonder if there's a way for us to feel safe about this, without pushing it too far. I asked him once if we could have some kind of check-in on how things are going (that is, are his fantasies becoming overwhelming again, is he spiralling into the stress/shame/secret life cycle that wreaked so much havoc on us before) without him feeling like I'm shining a harsh light on everything in his psyche. We still haven't found the solution to this. I know he still struggles with on-line porn use, and he doesn't lie to me about it (or at least I don't think so). He tells me that he still sometimes loses the battle, visits the sites, and then feels like s**t about it. That is scary for me, but I try to be understanding and not shut down our communication.

I have been firm in saying that, if he acted out again, I would see that as the end of our marriage. That was a boundary that I had to set, because I couldn't go through that pain again.

Anyway, just more ramblings.

Lynda


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#63172 - 08/30/02 01:19 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Lynda
for sure the acting out has to be a boundary, it certainly is here. But I suppose some couples tolerate it if they feel it's worth it.
But it's too high a price for us. That's both of us, the boundary works for me too.
We need goals, and that was the first and biggest we set. Other goals might seem easier, not looking at porn is classic. But the "easier" part of it also applies to how easy it is to access, and at times the unseen hand that leads us is as persuasive in pulling us to a keyboard as it is in pulling us towards sex with strangers, but the logistics are a lot harder.

The communication between us - survivors & partners - is never going to be easy, we're scared shitless of saying too much and scaring you away, and I dont doubt you're as equally scared of asking too much and scaring us away, or back into our old ways.

Sugar and I have settled into a fairly regular routine of when we talk.
I hate talking to her about it in the house, our home. I look upon it as violating our precious space. I'll sit here and visit this site and others like it, I've sat here looking at porn - feeling guilty etc. But very rarely will I talk here, and almost never in any depth.

So on a Friday night ( tonight, I'm dressed and ready to go ) we go for a curry and a drink. And as I get towards the bottom of the bottle of St Emillion I talk, thankfully I dont have a problem with alcohol - just relaxing - so this loosens my tongue. Ok I've had strange looks off the waiters as I've cried in my curry, I have been asked if it was too hot !!
But it works for us, a kind of neutral territory, and we don't find it restricting surprisingly. The resteraunt has booths which are private and cosy.

It mighn't work for everyone, but maybe the neutral territory regular talk sets a pattern, it does for me. I like the certainty of the talking at that time, I have, we both have, time to think. And it doesnt leave me in constant fear of being pounced on.
Dont get me wrong, it isn't entirely rigid - we do talk at other times, more so now as I get better. And it was never planned this way, it just fell into this routine, now when we walk in the waiters just say "usual order sir ?"

We're off for our curry \:D

Lloydy

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#63173 - 09/01/02 02:14 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
WorriedFriend Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/23/02
Posts: 7
Loc: New Jersey
Can I join in on this conversation? My head is spinning right now and I don't know where else to turn... it's really helped reading your threads...

I have been dating a guy for a few months... almost a year... he is wonderful, sweet, smart, sensitive, funny, kind, passionate... he has a good heart! He told me almost in the beginning that he was abused as a child by a male neighbor, and I don't think he has told anyone else... for *anyone* to have to go through this is awful, and for him to be such a decent person in spite of it is awesome... I don't know if I would have dealt with it as well... although he definitely has intimacy issues... a while back he stopped seeing me for 3 months, he felt it was going too fast, but never really gave me an explanation, just cut me off cold turkey... one of my thoughts was he was trying to protect me, and protect himself... but then he called me out of the blue... now he "doesn't want any commitments" but we talk lots, see each other lots, and he keeps saying stuff like "when you meet my dad..." or he'll say to the dog "you like her huh? you want her to come around more huh?" one thing I was told about survivors is "always believe them" and i do - i know he doesn't want a commitment and i also know he has deep feelings for me... as for me, i absolutely love him and am in love with him... i just don't tell him for fear of scaring him off again... and i actually enjoy finding ways of showing him i care...

it's weird though - it's almost like he picked someone who is "respectable" i am well educated, i am a social worker, i volunteer at the local animal shelter, i love to play scrabble, i come from a nice, intact, close-knit family -- i have this almost square "good girl" image which i guess isn't so off base, but i can also be very sexy and crazy... meanwhile he has this "bad boy" image, whereas in reality he is so sweet and decent and responsible... but i am very sexual - at least i thought i was! sex with him has always been pretty great, and pretty regular - 2 times a week... the thing is we aren't just casual sex friends... we care about each other *and* have excellent sex...

i'm hoping i can be a little graphic here? this is the latest... the other night we went out, got drunk, went to a sex store, and got a double sided dildo... we then went to a motel and used it on each other for 36 hours... i was kind of nervous about doing this with him, but he seemed to enjoy it... he says he's never done that before - but has done it to himself... but then he told me he wanted to have a 3some, but not what i thought: he wants to give a man oral sex, and have me watch... he said it's a power thing... i didn't flat out object, but i am not sure i could handle any kind of 3some... it took a lot for him to tell me this, and i did the best i could but boy i sure wasn't expecting that!

so i just don't know what to do now... we haven't really spoken about it yet... i love him and want to help him, even if it means not being with him... and i know what amount of trust it must have taken for us to do the anal sex and for him to tell me his other fantasies, and i don't want to make him regret telling me... it seems to me that the fantasies are fairly common... but that just as each abuse is unique so are the reactions and repercussions... but should i help him act them out his fantasies? or is that a slippery slope - where eventually he'll want to just be with men? am i being too codependent whatever that really means? he likes anal sex and wants to give a man a blow job?!?! is he gay? i don't see how that could be since he is so passionate with me... is he bi? i worry that he may be denying it all... but i compare myself to his parents who love him but weren't there to help him... am I someone who loves him but will let him be self-destructive? does he want me to be the one to hold him back? these past few days have been terrible - i can barely breathe or concentrate on anything ( i can't imagine what it's like for him!) and i just don't know i am up to the task before me... but i adore this guy and don't want to let him down... please help!


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#63174 - 09/01/02 04:43 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Roy Offline
Member

Registered: 08/02/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Los Angeles
Wow, that's a lot to deal with on both sides of the equation. Congratulations on finding a partner with whom you share so much. That's great! Lucky for him, too, you sound like quite a woman. The combo of bad boy (but he's really sweet) and good girl (but she's a wild thing) sounds like the basis for some really great chemistry. Here are some thoughts I have.

I, too, am a social worker and I think most mental health professionals either now or in their past have had some problems with codependency. That whole "wounded healer" thing. So I urge you to remember what your needs are, maintain your boundaries, and to be his girlfriend not his social worker. As the survivor of traumatic experience(s) he will naturally have major difficulty with trust. The fact that he trusted you with some of his sexual stuff is a pretty good sign of how he feels about you. (36 hours?! Yikes.) Hard to say about the blow job thing. It might be just another expression of his broad ranging sexuality, could be acting out on imprinted sexual ideas or desire to regain control over the situation, or a subconcious desire to act out some repressed shame stuff. As for his being gay, I personally think its unlikely if you both enjoy hot sex together that feels mutually satisfying. As a gay man myself, I know that many gay man can function sexually with a woman, but the key word here is function. If he were just performing to prove something to you or himself I think you could tell intuitively something was missing. Sounds like your sex has that elusive chemical element that means you are both fully present. He may be bisexual to some degree but aren't most people when you get right down to it?

If I were you, which I know I'm not \:\) , I would be cautious but open minded when it comes to indulging in sexual fantasies. Some things are better left as fantasies, others are great when explored. Sometimes you just have to try it and see. Be careful not to go against your better judgement out of sympathy for him or because you are afraid of losing him. Also, I would feel more comfortable about it if I knew he had explored these issues in a therapeutic setting so he's clear on the difference between sexual desire and sexual acting out.

Lastly, don't be afraid to have real open honest discussions about this stuff. Or to have conflict about it. He is definitely taking risks with you, maybe more than he has with anyone, so that says a lot. He may need some reassurance that you're not freaked out and getting ready to run away screaming. Sounds like you guys have good communication so just talk about it. Having a conversation about something is almost always better than not. And be patient about commitment. Men generally take longer than women to get there and he might take longer than other men due to trust factors. It sounds like things are proceeding nicely. Hope this helps.

36 hours, huh? You straight people are so sexual and everything! ;\)


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#63175 - 09/01/02 06:48 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Worried Friend
I recognise a lot of what you say about your feller. The fantasy stuff is exactly what I dreamed of, right from the time my abuse stopped at 15 yo until today at 49 yo.
the difference being he's actually saying this stuff to you while he's still young, I said nothing to anyone until I was 46 and been married for 25 years !
In the first years of our marriage I was very sexual, but it faded away big time ( my fault entirely ) as the fantasies took over until I acted out with other men.

I agree with Roy, I doubt very much that he's gay, I'm sure you would have had deep suspicions before now, so the alternatives are bisexual or acting out. Many of us thought we were bi, it's very close to acting out, but I think there is a difference. I believe that gay, bi or hetero sex is normally based on attraction to the other person, not solely on sex - or lust.
And given an abused background I'd go with acting out which brings with it loads of guilt and shame, but I'm no expert or therapist.

I personally would be extremelly cautious about joining in, you could end up deeply hurt.
And he could also, the guilt and shame could be massive.

If you think he's the one for you I'd steer him towards getting help for any abuse problems he might have, a good therapist and support from someone who loves him would be a good start.

Take care
Lloydy

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#63176 - 09/01/02 09:28 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
WorriedFriend Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/23/02
Posts: 7
Loc: New Jersey
I can't tell you how helpful this website has been... and i absolutely appreciate your comments... Roy when I read your comments I smiled for the first time in days! I honestly didn't mean to brag about our 36 hours, but it is true - we got maybe 5 hours sleep over 2 nights, no food, and even though it was totally new and scary to me, it was definitely fun! (Would it be OK to send you a private message, Roy? I have some logistical questions about what i was actually doing...) And you're right about the wounded healer... I definitely want to save him - but I know I can't... it's almost as if I want to be the one decent thing in his life (he's had other terrible things happen to him, including the death of his young child) and when I tell you this guy has a heart of gold, I'm not lying! Of course he keeps telling me he's not special... I've told him he should be in therapy, but I am not sure that will ever happen... Lloydy, I have read many of your postings and I have found you to be very honest and sensitive and to the point... so I was thrilled when you responded to me! Although I should tell you that my guy isn't a spring chicken - he is in his early 40's, and to my knowledge has never revealed this to anyone else... He even has to see this guy sometimes cause his parents still live nearby! Sometimes it is so overwhelming to me - that this happens and to such a degree! I guess I have lived such a sheltered life and feel very lucky/guilty for that... the sad thing is, I don't see much support out there for male survivors - even with all this with the Catholic Church - there isn't much said about the survivors and what is being done (other than monetarily) to support them... I had to really search to find this website! again, thanks...


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#63177 - 09/02/02 12:47 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Worried Friend
Well if he's early 40's the chances are he's acting out, we tend to work our way up to it as time goes on, so although he might still have issues and comfusion about being gay or bi I would doubt it.

But if he's finding a release for his fantasy and acting out with a partner who's willing to be adventurous then maybe the problem is a whole lot less.
I would say to you be very aware of where his problems lie, where they come from. Watch out for guilt and shame, we can still feel it when having sex with someone we love, even "normal" ( whatever the hell that is ? )sex, so throw in some fantasy stuff, especially involving someone else, and it might become a huge problem for him.
The guilt of asking you, someone he loves, to participate in a fantasy thats evolved from something that traumatised him could be huge.

I suppose lots of people have "different" sex lives, and many do so succesfully, but the emotional risks are bound to be higher.
Maybe the rest of us should get out more... ;\)

I wouldn't let him forget his past, or the chance of dealing with it. There must be resources around N.J. somewhere, but don't push him into what he doesn't want to do. When he's ready he'll do it.

Be cool Friend
Lloydy

PS. logistics ??????? \:o \:o

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#63178 - 09/03/02 12:43 AM Re: So many questions...need answers
WorriedFriend Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/23/02
Posts: 7
Loc: New Jersey
Yes - logistics ;-) if I am going to do something, I want to do it right, and I simply have no frame of reference for it... although who knows if it may happen again?

It is just so hard... I am so sad for him, for anyone that has to go through this! and I can't talk to anyone about this - other than you all here! I don't even want to tell my therapist about it... which I guess means I need a new therapist... but my immediate problem is this: this happened last week, and while he has spoken briefly to me... he hasn't wanted to see me or really talk about what happened... needs to deal with his "demons" he says... i am trying to be patient... i simply call and tell him i am thinking about him but i would love to (need to!) see him and just hold him, look him in the eyes and tell him everything is OK... (but is it?) i am sure he is dealing with guilt and shame and confusion... i just don't think he should have to deal with this on his own... he is so damn independent... he even says he is like a robot... and I totally understand why he'd be like that - why depend on anyone only to have them hurt you or let you down? why expose himself to me and have to deal with all this shit? and when we do talk about it, should I mention the abuse? we haven't even mentioned it in relation to his fantasies... i gather that the consensus is to let him deal with it in his own time and not to rush him, but damn i just wish he'd let me back in... i think it would be good for him...


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#63179 - 09/04/02 12:01 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
JamesMichael Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/24/02
Posts: 134
Roy and Lloydy,

Your responses to WorriedFriend are incredible. I'd love to get your read on my story, but I can't write right now. I really respect what you've honestly offered here. Thank you for your insights.

WorriedFriend,

I'm just glad this place exists. Maybe your guy-friend will join us here one day.

JM


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#63180 - 01/27/03 05:23 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
crushed Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/27/03
Posts: 4
Loc: FL
LLyody,
You have some wonderful and encouraging words for us family. Thank you for your posts.


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#63181 - 01/27/03 07:01 PM Re: So many questions...need answers
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Crushed
Thanks so much for that, I like coming onto this forum and trying to help.

I know from experience how much difference support and understanding means to us survivors.
And I'm lucky that my wife gives me that totally.

But I have seen, and she's told me a bit, of how my struggles and my past affect her.
And that hurts me a lot. To think that 'they' affected not just my life but her innocent life as well infuriates me.

So I appreciate all her help, and if I can return that help to her - or you and the other survivors partners, then I'll try my best.

'later
Dave ;\)

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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