This book came in the mail yesterday. It wasn't a surprise - I ordered it. "Your Sexually Addicted Spouse" is written by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means and based on research Barbara did on disclosure as trauma.
If I could copy the whole book right here I would, because simply quoting it is not enough. Before this blog I frequented forums, and I went to Al-Anon and S-Anon meetings, and I found myself repeating over and over that what I was feeling didn't feel at all like the symptoms of codependence or co-addiction. After all, I had lived through being married to a binge drinker and my own son had battled with his alcohol/drug demons so I had experience with addiction before.
I suffered other various abuses and abandonments in my lifetime, but nothing shook me or hijacked my life so much as being in partnership with a sex addict.
I tried to make myself believe in the codependent/co-addict model because it was the only model there was. Yet I would find myself questioning the analogies and -isms during meetings. Most especially at Al-Anon which I had to attend before there was an S-Anon meeting in my area. Eventually I felt like a broken record and I felt the disapproving stares as I would repeat my "problem" with the codependent/co-addiction party-line.
Sure I had a pattern of getting into relationships with addicts. Sure, it must mean something. Sure I've got my own "issues". For sure I wasn't at the top of my game when I met Roi and got involved having already been weakened by the then two years or so of wrestling with Kyd's behaviors.
But the pain I was feeling was distinctly different than anything I had previously experienced. It was so shearing, so ever-present, and it was so radically altering my own behaviors and ability to function that I knew in my heart I was experiencing something wholly different from "codependence".
Barbara and Marsha are working diligently to give voice to the trauma that partners of sex addicts experience, and I am so deeply, deeply grateful that there are not proper words to express it.