- Sandy discovered her husband of 34 years had been having affairs
- Even though Sandy is a registered psychotherapist, she couldn’t fully care for herself.
- She found the help and support she needed through support groups and personal therapy
- Now she is making a huge different in the lives of other partners.
Partner of Sex Addict Shares Her Secret
I am excited to share this transcript of my interview with Sandy.
She is an incredible woman who has overcome some challenging things in her life and is now helping people all over the world with this problem.
Sandy: Thank you, Craig, for having me.
This journey of finding out about porn and sex addiction began technically, discovery day, was July 20, 2016. Innocently, he received a phone call from his sister and she wanted to talk to me. He gave me his phone. We were actually driving down the highway. He gave me his phone so I could talk to her. When I hung up his phone, just as I hung up, an email came through from Forbidden Fruit and it said Monday again and I knew right then and there he was having an affair.
The email was from a real person.
I asked him who she was and he grabbed his phone out of my hand and put it on his left side.
I asked him again, who is she?
He said she was a supplier. But he works for a company that would not have fruit at it. It has building supplies.
I said, “What kind of forbidden fruit is she supplying your company?”
He didn’t say anything.
When we got to our destination he then said, “I have a confession to make.” He told me that he was having two online affairs but later admitted there were more. Then, three days later, I find out that he actually had two in-person affairs.
He went into treatment for almost six weeks, a few days shy of six weeks.
Craig: Let me stop you there, Sandy. What did that feel like when you finally discovered something?
Sandy: I was just in shock. If somebody had asked me the day before or said to me my husband was having an affair, I would tell them they were f-ing crazy. There was no way that my husband would be having an affair. Bear in mind we were in marriage counseling for almost two and one-half years, right up to this point, because of other intimacy issues.
Craig: I mean, what a fraud, right? I mean, here you are getting counseling. Here you are moving forward. You guys listening, you’ve been there before. Right guys? You’ve been in that place, the hiding the phone, the freaking out, the nervousness, the anxiety. Guys, it’s time to come clean, brothers, because that’s no way to live. Not only are you betraying your partner but you’re making yourself sick on the inside carrying that stress around.
Sandy: He had given up all those things that he had passion for.
He would start watching a game and he couldn’t stay off the computer, so he would leave the living room and go back to the kitchen where his laptop was.
His phone was always on, always in his hand because he was emailing and messaging these people.
He gave up music. He stopped playing his guitars.
He just was not engaged in anything.
He wasn’t engaged in us.
I felt completely and utterly invisible. While we were in counseling, I kept asking:
“What’s wrong with me?
What am I doing wrong?
How can I change?
What is it that you don’t want me anymore?
What is it that you don’t find me attractive, that you don’t desire me?”
He kept saying, “I don’t desire anyone.”
I kept saying, “I know you do because I see you looking at other women. I see it and you make comments about other women. You make sex jokes. You cross the line. You flirt with other women. When I tell you it’s disrespectful to me, it doesn’t matter.” That was what was coming out of our therapy. He kept saying he resented me for how much time I spent on my Masters degree.
Craig: Let me ask you a question, Sandy, because there’s that initial shock I find from partners where if someone asked them the day before they’d say “you’re crazy,” but then, once the dust of that shock settles, they realize this should never have been a surprise. He was disengaged, disconnected, out of it. Is that your story as well?
Sandy: Absolutely. Then it all made sense. And as odd as this sounds, there was some relief.
Relief that, you know what? I didn’t do anything. I couldn’t control him. I couldn’t control his actions. I can’t control his behavior.
As we went through marriage counseling, we had a rule ,tthat by 7:00 at night no phones, no laptops. It would last one night. One night, and then he would be back on.
Craig: He couldn’t stay away.
Sandy: He couldn’t stay away. Then it would be, well, I have to return emails for work, but it wasn’t. He wouldn’t show me. The way his laptop was, you couldn’t walk by and see what was on his screen. You had to go behind him which was the patio door. You had to purposefully, and he would have had to move out of the way. If you came close he always just changed his screen. He always did something. I’m assuming it’s change his screen. He could never stay away.
I found emails eventually. He had a secret email account himself and plus an old email account that he was using that I didn’t have the password for. He wouldn’t give me passwords. He had passwords for everything of mine and I didn’t have passwords for his email. I didn’t know about some of the email accounts he had. I had no clue, and I never would have thought.
Craig: How lonely were you when all of this was going on?
Sandy: Devastatingly lonely. Some of my most lonely times was when he was sitting right beside me and his phone was in his hand.
I can’t describe the feeling. I was starting to change in the closet or in the bathroom because I couldn’t stand to change in front of him. . . he would always look around me or he would never look at me.
The pain of that was so incredibly great – what is so wrong with me that he can’t look at me as his wife, as his partner, as his lover?
It was because I did nothing for him.
I did nothing for him.
Craig: So, there came a time, Sandy, where enough was enough. How long were the two of you together?
Sandy: Thirty-four years. I was 20 years old. We first met when I was 17, but when we first got together I was 20 years old.
Craig: There came a time when something had to change; when you knew that you couldn’t continue moving in this direction any further for your own well-being. Describe for me that moment, or was it a moment? Tell me about it.
Sandy: I’m a registered psychotherapist and I’m a trauma specialist. But, it doesn’t matter how much education or training you have, when you are going through a traumatic event, a traumatic situation, all of that goes out the window and you need just as much support as anyone else.
Because I’ve had friends say, “Well, good thing you do what you do because you know what to do for yourself.” I don’t. I didn’t.
I was on autopilot.
I was a mess. I wasn’t eating. During that first month, I lost about 20 pounds. After he got out of treatment I gained some of that back, but in all of this I have lost about 40 pounds now because I just can’t. I have a hard time with eating. I make myself eat. I try to make myself eat healthy.
Craig: Self-care is the most important piece when someone is in that place. How did you honor your self care, Sandy?
Sandy: One of the things, again, I did my research, and I found The Mindful Habit. The manual from your wife, Michelle, was my lifeline.
I didn’t feel alone. I felt she’s reading my mind. Everything that I was thinking and feeling was right in that manual. So, I felt a connection.
I was so happy when the Partner Empowerment Page on Facebook came up because it was – oh my goodness, I have this connection with these other people. So, that’s part of my selfcare, and I went on that page every single day. That’s part of selfcare. The other is that I made myself go for walks.
Craig: Hold on. I want to break this down so people paying attention don’t lose this. Partners, we have a Partner Empowerment Group. It’s free. You can sign up to connect with other partners who are going through what you’re going through. It’s a secret group. None of your friends will know.
Sandy: You can’t keep it inside. Just so everybody knows, it’s not about bashing your partner. It’s not about taking down your partner and saying what an f-ing person that person is. It’s about this is what I’m going through. Help me please.
Craig: I have found that when I was going through something I wanted to find someone who’s been there, who’s been through it. I don’t want anybody who reads about this in books. So, you made the decision to advance your education and training. You became a certified Mindful Habit coach and now working with partners all over this great planet to help people, help partners become the best versions of themselves. What do you want to say, Sandy, to those partners?
Sandy: I am one of the most honored and grateful people to find The Mindful Habit, and I am honored and tremendously proud of the fact that I am a Mindful Habit Certified Coach. Helping others through this time and helping others navigate discovery and disclosure and all that goes along with it.
I want the partners to know
A) You are not alone. You are not alone. There are so many who have gone through very similar things that you’re going through right now.
B) I want to describe the butterfly. I know another coach, another colleague uses the butterfly as well, The Empowered Butterfly.
I use the analogy of the butterfly. It is during our deepest, darkest, painful time, just like a butterfly in a cocoon, in which our power grows. It is during that time that we develop and we get our wings just like the metamorphosis of a butterfly. We can’t have somebody rip open that cocoon and fix it for us because our wings will be clipped. It is through our own development, our own journey of that darkness and that loneliness, when we emerge from that cocoon we have our freedom and our independence and I’m not for a second suggesting that you need to leave your partner. I am not suggesting that at all. Your freedom is about you. Your freedom is about your independence and your growth as an individual and you’re empowered, and in that darkness is where that empowerment is developed and that’s what you can get through this dark time. You will be, I promise, you will be stronger for it.
Craig: What does the future hold for you, Sandy, because I am so excited to see your career blossom. I’ve already started to hear stories of the people that you’ve helped and people experiencing this incredible change. What does the future hold for you?
Sandy: The possibilities are endless. I’m working with a colleague, Allison, The Backline Nation, on a radio show at BlogTalkRadio called ButterflyNation. Every Sunday, we’ll do a process talk and ask for call-ins on that. Our next show is about discovery day, what that’s like, but it’s going to be about empowerment.
I am starting a blog and podcast for The Empowered Butterfly. I’m giving talks about the trauma since I’m a trauma specialist – how this affects us in a traumatic way and what that does to our whole physical system, our brain and everything, but how we can get through that.
It’s going to be all about empowerment. That’s why I’m Empowering Counseling. That’s why it’s The Empowered Butterfly. It’s about your work. It’s about growth. For me, this is all the silver lining. The other thing I hope to do in the future is I want to give talks in high school to both male and female students about the possibility of porn addiction.
Craig: That’s beautiful. It’s about empowerment. Saying that almost to distinguish it from other programs. You keep saying that word. Why is that so important to you?
Sandy: Because, I went to one of those other programs as the partner, and what I found is that there were many other partners there or ex-partners there who had been going for years and years and years.
So, when there’s stories that go around, you share your story, when people break down and cry after 2 years, after 5, after 10, after 15 years, to me, and this is as a professional, that person is still stuck.
They may talk that they’re empowered and reached their God or found their God, and I’m not saying anything – we can find our God. You can find your God and you can have your God help you. Please know that is not what I am saying. What I’m saying is some of these programs keep us stuck and powerless and our God can’t pull us out. Our God can be there to support us if you have that faith, but our God can’t pull us out. You, you and only you can pull you out.
That’s where your empowerment is. That’s where your growth is. That’s where your change is. That’s where you start to love yourself and care for yourself is in that empowerment, but you have to be the person of change.
Only you can change you just like your partner who has this affliction, only that partner can change himself or herself.
Only you can change you!
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