If you have been in a relationship with a person battling an addiction, you know exactly how difficult it is to cope with this situation.
If you didn’t know about the addiction, it makes you question everything about yourself, the other person and your relationship. Addiction thrives in secrecy and addicts will go to great lengths to conceal their behaviours. Part of your healing will include regaining your sense of trust in others and of course, your own intuition.
If you were well aware of the problem however, then chances are that you will have been subjected to the harsh realities of addiction. Addiction can drive an individual to perform unspeakable acts, even if it means hurting the people they love the most.
How can counselling be of help to you? If you are supporting someone through an addiction, it’s important that you seek counselling yourself for a number of reasons. If you are the partner of a sex addict, please ensure to read the additional information at the bottom of the page.
How do you support someone with an addiction? There is no right or wrong way to show your support but counselling can help you to do this in a way that will aid the addict’s recovery.
In many relationships, where one partner is battling an addiction, the other person more often than not becomes the enabler. It’s essential that you try and draw a line between supportive behaviour and enabling behaviour. Making excuses for harmful, abusive or dangerous tendencies can send the message that you’re willing to accept your partner’s dependency. It also impacts your life in a negative way as your are busy focusing on the addict and his / her behaviours which stops you from focusing on your own needs and self care.
It’s only when you put a stop to this that the addict will be able to “hit rock bottom” (this concept needs to be discussed) and then build themselves back up again. It can be very hard to watch somebody do this to themselves which is why professional support can help.
You will know what to expect from the recovery process. Recovery is all about taking baby steps. It’s a slow process and although it is not true that relapse is inevitable, they certainly can happen. This can be difficult for the partner who may become frustrated and feel like there is no hope. Having support during this time can be the difference between falling apart and being able to continue to manage your life.
How do you heal from the pain that an addict has caused you? You may be experiencing intense feelings of hurt, anger and even shame. It’s important not to isolate yourself however and to seek emotional support so that you can move forward. It may feel painful or even humiliating to speak to others but it will help you to recover.
It’s especially important for partners who have experienced trauma, neglect or any type of abuse prior to their relationship with the addict to seek counselling for themselves. This is because it’s highly likely that any pain or trauma they experience due to their present situation will be significantly compounded due to earlier unresolved experiences which are stored in the implicit memory system.
Living with someone who has a sex addiction is one of the hardest things you will ever do. You probably feel traumatized, devastated and confused by your partner’s behaviour. In addition the previous information on this page, it’s likely for partners in this situation to experience any or all of the following:
Shock – you may have an initial paralysis where you don’t know what to think or feel
Emotional Dysregulation – you may feel extreme distress and struggle to regulate your emotions
Anger – this is extremely common and very understandable. You might even act out against others because you are overwhelmed
Depression and/or stress – you may feel overwhelmed both emotionally and physically
Isolation – it can be hard to seek help and you might try to cope on your own
Denial – again this is very common because it’s hard to believe that someone who is supposed to love you could hurt you so much
Preoccupation/isolation – you may find yourself unable to think about anything else
Hurting yourself – as much as you never thought that you would come to this, you may be engaged in self harm or having suicide ideation.
PTSD – as a partner of an addict you might experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Reach out for the support that you deserve. Healing is within reach for anyone that wants it.