Overcoming Betrayal and Entering Therapy
For so many partners of addicts, entering into therapy can seem so overwhelming. It feel like you’re just trying to hold the fabric of your life, and maybe even your family together. The idea of participating in therapy can be so overwhelming. It can feel like this will prevent the wounds from healing over. It can also seem like your partners addiction problems have now unfairly become your own.
Addiction can be traumatic for the partners of an addict. This is especially true of sex addiction. This usually involves some discovery or disclosure of cheating. It also usually involves some level of withholding sex and even intimacy and connection from a partner. This doesn’t even include all of the lying and gaslighting that can go with all addictions.
I almost always recommend that partners of addicts engage in therapy. However, I also understand the resistance for those who are reluctant to enter therapy. Many have learned to live with the trauma that they have experienced in their own way. Unfortunately, this usually means that there is some level of avoidance. This can be with entering back into a connected relationship with your partner. It can also mean trusting your partner with the vulnerability of sex again.
We are built for connection. So for those who feel like it’s unfair that they have to participate in therapy to be with a partner who is an addict, you’re right. It isn’t fair. At the same time, it doesn’t erase the potential benefit from participating in therapy.
When people participate in therapy, they will often report that they notice an increase in trust, a decrease in anxiety and resentment, and a return of closeness. In all honesty, this isn’t an easy process. It takes time, and can take a lot of work. However, with the right help, you usually can find a place of peace and reconnection.
Trauma therapy is key
I truly believe that you want to find a therapist who has training in trauma. This person can help by offering validation for your experiences. It’s important to heal from the gaslighting process and validation of your reality is one of those things that can help you heal.
There are also other types of trauma therapy that can be effective as well. Two of the most well-known types are EMDR and Somatic Experiencing. Both of these processes can help natural reactions and responses to finish through, so that the energy isn’t held in the mind and body anymore.
Boundaries are also key
In order to move forward with reconnection, you have to know where and when you’d leave this relationship. This can be scary. It can also be empowering to realize that this isn’t a relationship that you have to remain in.
Identifying your boundaries can help you communicate them. A wonderful book that can help you identify your boundaries is Moving Beyond Betrayal by Vicki Tidwell Palmer. This is one of the most clear guides to boundaries that I have come across. It can help you with identifying your “deal breakers.”
I recognize and respect reluctance in participating in therapy if you’re a partner of an addict. Look for someone who you feel like you can have some safety with. This will be key in your healing, and opening up as well. Take some time to appreciate your own bravery, as well as the hope and energy you’re giving to the healing process. It’s so important to take care of yourself.