You have discovered your partner may be struggling with a sexual addiction. He may be asking you to keep your experience a secret. He may tell you his job or his reputation is at risk – and it may well be.
But this does not justify his request to require you to bear your burden alone. You are struggling with “betrayal trauma”.
Betrayal trauma festers in isolation.
In isolation you may begin to believe that you are alone in this experience, or worse, that there is something wrong with you.
There is nothing wrong with you. But you are struggling. You may be experiencing the most painful moment in your life.
There is hope. The pain of betrayal trauma, as well as its harmful effects respond to treatment. Treatment involves processing this painful experience to help you to move toward a hopeful future.
It may include working with a sexual addiction therapist with special training dealing with trauma. It may also include receiving support from a group of others who share your experience and who can relate to your struggle.
Help is avaialable, but only you can take the steps the lead to healing.
Your partner must make and his own decisions about seeking help. Do not to sacrifice your own healing to serve the interest of your partner whose words are influenced by the destructive power of his addiction.
You own pain may also be a barrier to healing. In the midst of such pain it takes courage to reach out and energy to seek help.
When threatened, your body triggers a “flight-fight-freeze” response. In some situations — where the danger is sudden and acute — this response helps you survive.
But when the danger is chronic and the pain persistent due to behavior typical of a person who struggles with an addiction, the fight-flight-freeze response undermines healing.
To begin to heal, move beyond the initial fight-flight-freeze response.
Be encouraged. You are doing so now. You have taken the first step. You are gathering information. It is important that you follow this up.
Your next step is to develop plan and accept help from others.
Only you can make the decision to seek help. You may have to work against an urge to isolate. Or, you may have to resist the idea that you are “betraying” the very one who is hurting you.
Resist the feeling to run into isolation. Make a different chioce. Run for help. You need not struggle in this challenge alone.
Image by: David Brossard