This topic is a sister to last week’s LoveLetter where I talked about how tired I am of how quick we all are (myself included at times) to blame the victim for their misfortune. The primary reason we do this is because we are so afraid that what happened to them could happen to us.
Therefore, it’s easier to think of all the reasons why the traumatized person (let’s stop saying victim, shall we?) is to blame for what happened. My guess is you have experienced this firsthand, am I right?
Maybe you were told that you ignored red flags early in your relationship. Or perhaps that your wounds were attracted to his wounds. Or that you didn’t trust your intuition. Or that you should have had more sex, less sex, or different sex.
These comments often come from people who truly care about you, but they are totally (I think) unaware that their “helpful” comments are actually placing the blame for what happened to you on YOU.
When I started dating my current husband, I had a few close friends who cared deeply for me and expressed great concern. They urged me to take things slowly and “not rush into anything.” Their concern felt especially painful because I had already been married three times, which I still struggle with shame about, but I’m working on it.
I know these friends were trying to “take care of me.” What they didn’t realize was that they were saying if I had taken things slower with my ex-husband, then I wouldn’t have married him, therefore, avoiding the trauma of later discovering he was a sex addict.
Here’s the thing though. I dated my ex for a year before we moved in together. Then we lived together for a year before we got engaged. Then we were engaged for nine months before we got married. Exactly how long was I supposed to have waited?
It’s fairly easy to spot outrageously inappropriate and blaming comments like, “You should have had more sex with him.” However, the ones like, “Don’t rush into your next relationship,” are more subtle but just as painful.
The other tricky thing is that sex addiction and betrayal are so shameful to talk about that you don’t. You don’t even feel comfortable sharing with your closest friends and family the details of what your husband did.
The result is that you end up being the keeper of his secrets and the maintainer of his image for the world at large. In fact, you may even be taking the blame and every time you have to pretend that your husband is such “a good guy,” it is like you are victimized all over again.
You are right – it’s NOT fair.
You didn’t cause this. Finding yourself married to a sex addict is not your fault. Do you have family of origin work to do or childhood trauma to heal? Maybe. But that’s not WHY this happened to you. There is time to focus on family of origin work later. After you are either no longer married to a sex addict OR he has a SIGNIFICANT amount of time in solid recovery — at least a year.
Have you been blamed or shamed for what happened to you? I’d love to hear your story and answer any questions that you might have. Feel free to hit reply to this email and let’s chat!
Until next time…