“I realize for the first time that my partner is carrying much emotional baggage as a result of my addiction. I am not certain if my recovery and her counseling will have any real impact on removing this baggage. My empathy towards her is overwhelming.”
“(The material presented) is 100% correct. Virtually everything described applies to me/us. My wife ha said, almost verbatim, all that you presented. You are definitely correct in the model and theory. It applies.”
"(I realized that) lying creates an environment where true consent is not possible..."
"Let me first re-iterate some awareness that came to me during the session that is very valuable to me personally and to my work to recover a trusting intimate relationship with my wife. As background, I have been confused and frustrated by my lack of comprehension of my wife's feelings as genuine. This is exhibited by my lack of empathy, and my automatic reaction of discounting my wife's feelings when she has tried to express them to me. I had determined that it was basically a fault in me, or a bad character trait that I was not willing to change. This added to my shame and feelings of unworthiness, I thought that I should be able to change if I was just willing.
During the seminar I came to understand:
1) I was not aware that abuse could be the culmination of several events over time, instead of discrete obviously abusive events. I have experienced abuse in the former category, but was not aware that is could be the same as "normal" abuse or of what the resulting symptoms were.
2) As I heard the sexual symptoms of sexual abuse, I was struck with how many I related to. This made me uncomfortable and doubt that I was there for the right reasons. I thought I should not feel these feelings but just be learning how it affects my wife.
3) Later, in small group sharing I came to the conclusion that I may have some abuse issues to deal with that I was not aware of before. This in turn led me to understand that I may have been discounting my wife's feelings as a way of unconsciously avoiding dealing with my own sexual symptoms and sexual disfunction. Before, I always thought that if I could just learn to talk about sex with my wife, things would work out on their own, but I could never get any comfort or relief from the stress I feel about talking about sex and other symptoms. So, now I have a hopeful feeling that there is help out there for me, and that it is OK for me to accept my wife's feelings, thoughts and reactions without reservation and support and affirm her in healing.
I wish that I had not been so ignorant of sexual abuse and sexual symptoms of sexual abuse before the workshop. In all the time I have been in therapy (10 years) with two different counselors, I was never referred to any reading or study on abuse, abuse sypmtoms and how they affect relationships and sexuality. I look back now and wish this kind of education was part of the sex addict recovery model I have experienced.
Honestly, the workshop gave me so much to think about and work on that I am truly excited about recovery more than I have been for the past year. I have felt at a stand still and frustrated. I now have more hope, I have more resources (as in the W. Maltz book you recommended), and I have more understanding of my wife's possible feelings and sexual symptoms as a result of both my behavior as an addict and possibly some previous sexual trauma experiences in her life. I feel good to now be willing and feel able to have empathy for my wife and her feelings.
Keep up the good work, "God speed" to get this into the mainstream treatment of addicts and coaddicts."
"I did not recommend this workshop to my sponsorees, as I was not sure of the content, intent, or results. Should you offer it again I will recommend it to my sponsorees, and I might attend a second time. Thanks and good luck."
"That was a very thought provoking workshop. Thanks again for coordinating and host it."