Before I pick up where I left off in Part 1,I want to give a little history on where Brian’s separate, secret life of sex started….
Brian viewed his first pornographic magazine when he was 13 years old. He was hooked instantly. This led to watching pornographic movies and then found phone sex lines. He justified that this was just how he liked to spend his money. Not on his car, clothes, or dirt bikes like his friends, but on porn and phone sex. He remembers his dad catching him watching porn. His dad would yell at him and Brian would feel that he was angry and disgusted with him. Over the years Brian had gotten good at getting the mail and the phone sex bills before his dad found them, but occasionally his dad would and yell at Brian. There were never any conversations about this and Brian continued this behavior and trying not to get caught. Later in his recovery, Brian would learn that this is when he learned SHAME and HIDING, two major factors in addiction.
This continued over the years. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was addicted. He just never had any reason to stop, therefore never realized that he could not if he wanted to. He did not know God and wasn’t spiritual at all. He didn’t have any ambitions, dreams or thoughts of what he wanted to do with his life. This was just what he did. This was normal. This was who he was.
Over the years into his adult life, magazines, movies and phone sex weren’t as exciting anymore and he sought out more stimulation. In any addiction, you develop a tolerance to the “dosage” of whatever the chosen substance is. New things that provide stimulation to the brain produce floods of feel good chemicals in the one addicted. Brian’s “dosage” was not giving him the same rush anymore, so his addicted brain and flesh started finding other, new things that would provide that rush again. Seeking this rush took him to massage parlors as well. Over the years needing stronger stimulus would get him into more things that he never ever thought he would do. I will go into that later.
By the time Brian met me he was 25 years old and had 12 years of this being a way of life for him. Or at least part of a way of life. He learned how to have a seemingly normal, functional life aside from all the sexcapades. He had many friends, an active social life, he dated, held a steady job. He just had this other way of living, and only he knew about it…until I found out.
So back to our story….
As I sat looking at all the evidence, the receipts for massage parlors, adult video stores and phone sex, I was stunned. This could not be happening. I knew that something had not been quite right in our relationship for several months but this was shocking.
The shock turned into tears and the tears then to anger. I called Brian and told him to come home. When he arrived I showed him all that I had found. The details here are a little fuzzy as I was just not in my right mind. This had sent me into a whirlwind of emotions. I know I did some yelling and crying. I do remember that he did not say much of anything. I then left to go to my parents house.
I sat in my parents back yard just trying to wrap my mind around what just happened. I was thinking that clearly I could not stay with Brian and that I would stay with my parents for a while, then pack up my things from our place and go. But, as I sat there, my thoughts turned to trying to work it out, giving him a chance. But would that make me weak and one of those women who stay in relationships that were terrible but couldn’t leave? I just didn’t know what to do.
Brian was stunned with all this as well. He had indeed been leading a separate life. And he was terrified that I found it out.
Several hours later when I went home Brian was there. I don’t remember us saying much to each other. I just told him to go find a place to stay for a while. He went and stayed with a friend and I stayed at our home.
While Brian was away I was at home trying to process what happened and what I would do. I felt utterly alone, confused, angry, deeply hurt and sad. I was confused about how I felt about Brian. I hated what he had done, but I still loved him. How do you just fall out of love with someone?
After about a week, Brian and I talked and I told him he could come home. We didn’t have much of a conversation about what had transpired. I do remember him saying he was sorry, but not much else. I could see the remorse in him. I did sense that he was actually sorry and not just saying it. I told him he could stay in our guest bedroom and we could live as roommates until I figured out what I wanted to do.
We lived as roommates for several months. We got into a rhythm of trying not to be in the same room at a time. If we would pass each other, Brian would give me a sheepish “hi, how are you?” and I would usually just barely acknowledge him. He would make dinner for himself and leave me a note that I could have the left overs. Occasionally he would leave a note saying that he missed me, he was sorry and that he really did love me.
And Brian did love me. He cared very much for me and hated that he hurt me. He talks about being able to compartmentalize his relationship and life with me and his other life. It sounds cold, but that is the nature of this addiction. You can very much care about the others in your life, but the addiction takes over your ability to make sound judgment.
In May 2003 (a few months after the incident) a friend of mine was going on a business trip to New York and asked if I wanted to tag along. I didn’t hesitate at the chance to get away. While I was gone, I thought of Brian. I had a lot of time on my own, walking the streets of Manhattan. I remember loving the thought of being independent and starting my own life without Brian. But the more I contemplated, the more I really missed Brian. I missed who we were before things started going bad, before I found out about what he had been doing behind my back. He was my best friend and we were madly in love. Could I extend forgiveness and give him a second chance? It seemed worth it to try.
I called him from a noisy street in Manhattan (is there any other kind!?) and told him that I wanted us back. I loved him and knew he loved me and I wanted to make it work. I could hear the relief in his voice when I told him.
When I came home we had a long talk. I told him that I could not tolerate what he was doing and if we were going to make this work he was going to have to stop everything; the massage parlors, the phone sex, the porn. I told him it was cheating and he agreed. So, we started over in his promise that he would never do it again.
After this, things started to get back to normal…kind of. We were connecting again and laughing again. His personality shift and funk that he was in for a while was even better. But, our sex life had definitely changed. I was hesitant to sleep with him again and he said he understood and said it would just take time. But, I had more going on in my heart than just feeling a little weird about being with him after I knew about what he had done. I felt like I wasn’t attractive enough. I felt like if I had a better body or face then he would not have needed to do what he was doing. I had no idea, however, that this was going on with him for years before he ever met me. I became extremely insecure about my appearance – or I should say, more insecure.
I am going to rewind a bit here – stay with me….
Around the time that Brian and I started drifting apart (before I found out about his secret) I stared becoming overly concerned about my appearance. My own dark, dysfunctional issues were starting. What was once a healthy attitude toward nutrition and fitness (which I was studying in school) became an obsession to be perfect. Appearance became my identity. I started down a road of a body image disorder and eating issues that haunted me for some time. (A story all it’s own!) Deep insecurity about my appearance affected my wanting to be with Brian intimately.
At this same time Brian was getting deeper into his addiction. The combination of his increasing sexual debauchery and my insecurity started to dwindle our sex life a little.
The week after I found out about Brian’s secret I was in some serious emotional pain and to escape it, I numbed it with food. I thought it was just a “eat a pint of ice cream because men are pigs” sort of thing. But, this added to my eating issues the act of bingeing to numb the fear and pain of what was happening with Brian and me.
So, back to our getting back together — The sex wasn’t really there any more. We were enjoying each others company, and doing all our usual things again, but just not having sex. At least not often. When we did I would usually feel uncomfortable. On top of the insecurity I was already feeling about my appearance I had started to comfort myself with food and feeling like I was even more unattractive. I would be thinking about the massage parlors and not living up to the images and fantasies from porn that he clearly wanted. I felt ashamed of the way that I looked. I thought there was no way I was sexy to him anymore.
We both just thought it would get better over time.
Brian was able to keep his actions at bay for a while. He resolved to stop. He did have remorse over hurting me and knew he had a great thing in our relationship. Brian adored me and he just couldn’t lose me especially after I had taken him back. But, his will power only lasted so long and he was back into the same things. He learned how to hide it better in his demeanor with me so I didn’t suspect anything. He still did not know or think that this was a problem. He knew it was wrong and not fair to me, but the drive to do it was stronger. Since we were not having as much sex, he somewhat justified what he was doing. He pushed thoughts of me aside, and went right back into the actions and secrecy.
Several months after we had gotten back together, I found charges on his phone bill for phone sex. I sat on the couch and stared at it. Here we were again, it hadn’t stopped. When Brian came home I showed him the bill. I was angry and upset. He turned and walked away from me into the kitchen. I don’t remember exactly what I said but I clearly remember what his reply was. This 6’3″ man crumbled to the ground in the corner against the refrigerator, pulled his knees to his chest and buried his head in his knees. He was crying, hard. I knelt down to him and he was saying “I’m sorry, I can’t stop, I can’t stop” over and over. I grabbed him and hugged him, and we cried together. I had immediate compassion for him. The person who led this other life was not Brian and I knew it. This was Brian, the humble broken man before me who was deeply sorry and loved me and didn’t know what to do. I knew I would stay with him and support him.
From the time I met him, I have believed in Brian. I always knew he was better than I sensed he believed he was. And I knew he would get through this – that we would get through this, together. On that kitchen floor he said he had a problem and I could see in his eyes that he was scared and confused. This was the person I loved with all my heart, I wasn’t going to give up on him now.
I said earlier, we did not have God in our life or a community or even know that this was an “addiction”. We didn’t know how we were going to do this but I told Brian, we were going to be okay. It would be a long road to healing.
On this road Brian would come to know The One who would show him that this was not his destiny. That Brian was created for meaning and purpose, that this was not his identity.
….To be continued in Part 3.