Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Your Sexually Addicted Spouse"

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.


  1. I'm glad you like this book and have found it helpful for you. So, it addresses the reason for your pain as a reaction to the past traumas?

    (Btw, thanks for pointing me to the right place re: the PTSD discussion we were having. I couldn't find it! I guess I was only half losing my mind!)

  2. Kelly, no, the opposite. Instead of repeating the co-addict/codependent model of "you must have already been sick", this book and the studies address the trauma as something distinct and new. It doesn't ignore that there may be past traumas, but it addresses the new trauma as its own force.

  3. Briar - I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. It was truly the turning point in my recovery process. I was attending COSA meetings and wanted to fit in so badly so I wouldn't be so damn alone in my world, but I just left depressed week after week. I came across this book and found the list of symptoms and could put a check mark next to almost every one. I was so lucky to have found it so early on.....what do you think so far?

    I find myself going back to it all the time. I heard a rumor of a workbook to go along with it at one point on Recovery Nation, have you heard that too?

  4. SS - I haven't heard anything about a workbook, but it would be good if there was such a thing in the works. :)

  5. Oh man--more to say, but I SO wish I had known you didn't have this!!! It was my lifeline, for months. I would've mailed you MY copy. But glad you found it. So glad.

  6. RJ - Here's the weird thing. I think I DID have it at one time. I TALKED about the first couple of chapters a couple of years ago. But it's gone now, disappeared, and I wonder if in all the hub-bub of much bigger traumas I misplaced it, forgot about it, what-have-you, or even if Roi didn't like the look of it and squirreled away into the garbage.