You have just discovered your partners betrayal and you are devastated. You feel like you have been sucker punched in the gut and you can’t catch your breath. Whether you have been married one month, one year, 10 years, or 40 years, it is devastating, because the illusion of what you had … has changed forever. You must be asking yourself, what can I believe, and more importantly what can I do to regain a feeling of safety and stability. APSATS clinicians and coaches have worked with thousands of partners of sex addicts and believe that it is so important to take care of yourself by finding a therapist, coach, or support group who can get you through this incredibly difficult time. And just like this picture, you can feel the calm after the storm, but you need to access the right supports to insure your safety and your sanity.
Maybe you saw his phone come up with some texts that were totally inappropriate. Maybe you had something come up on your computer that absolutely floored you. Maybe somebody called you and told you that your husband was acting out. You are likely going through a lot of emotional reactions as a result of finding out that your partner has cheated on you. You may be experiencing panic attacks, generalized anxiety, or intense anger. Your heart may be racing, you may be trembling, you may not be able to sleep. When this kind of information is discovered, your central nervous system goes into overload, which then sends all sorts of chemicals to the brain. Then you go into self-protection. Am I going to fight, am I going to flee, not fight, or am I going to freeze and not do anything, because I don’t know what to do?
You want to tell the world, you want to tell all his family, you want to let everybody know how he has betrayed you, yet there is a part of you that doesn’t want to talk about it to others, because you don’t want them to hate him too. So, you’re protecting him, and you’re wanting to expose him at the same time. It is normal to feel this way. This is the dilemma of discovery. You experience so many paradoxes of what to do. It can make you feel like you are going crazy when in reality it is your amygdala going into hyper drive. That is why it is so important to slow your down and seek safety. It’s important for you to do self-care and find supportive people, because you can’t do this by yourself.
There is much you can do to navigate through this ordeal. There are great resources. There are plenty of books. There are many programs out there to help you with the discovery of your partners addiction. But first, you must find the experts in the field.
The first thing you can do is get yourself to a certified partner’s therapist. “APSATS,” which stands for The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists, is an organization that has made it their mission to help you through this crisis. They certify people who have been specifically trained to work with you. They know that you did not contribute to your husband’s addiction …. your feelings are the byproduct of his sexual addiction. This shouldn’t be happening to you, you didn’t ask for it, you didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, and you certainly can’t control it, but you feel as it is controlling you.
You are likely asking yourself,” What do I need to feel safe again and who can I talk to that won’t judge me or my partner, and will stay neutral and just hold my feelings for me
APSATS clinical and certified partner trauma therapists or coaches, help you to develop good boundaries, to develop your voice, to keep yourself safe, and to allow you to know when it’s time to make the next move. Maybe that is a therapeutic separation, maybe your partner moves upstairs and you stay downstairs, maybe you both go to marital counseling or seek your own individual counselor or coach, maybe you go to your pastor and talk with him or her, but we help you to make that next move based on who you are, how you feel and what you need.
What we know is nobody should be telling you what to do. That needs to come from your own sense of self, yet right now you’re so flooded with feelings and emotions that you are on overload. You are “shell shocked” and you need an expert to help you unravel your feelings. APSATS is here to help.
Written by Carol Juergensen Sheets LCSW, CCPS, CSAT, PCC
APSATS Board Member