Even though I put this as its own step, it is really the combination of all the steps I’ve described so far – safety, self-regulation, support, sisterhood and spirituality – that become your own personal roadmap for surviving his sex addiction…for finding your way as a Woman in the Desert.
Each woman’s story is different and, therefore, each women’s strategy is different. You get to decide what you need. However, your personal strategy should include the boundaries that you have begun to identify and asked for; your support team, which you are beginning to identify areas where you probably need more; your sisterhood so that you have peers to rely on for empathy and strength; and, tools for regulating your nervous system so that you can learn to get yourself out of fight, flight or freeze.
You will probably also want to consider a therapeutic Disclosure and a polygraph. I know that it feels terrifying to receive further, traumatizing information. However, until you have all the information about your husband’s behavior, it will be difficult to make a safe and informed decision about the future of your relationship. On the other hand, a Disclosure can provide you with answers to the questions that you’ve desperately been seeking.
Disclosure must be facilitated by your partner’s sex addiction therapist and I also recommend that you have your own partners’ coach or therapist in the room as well. Working with them in advance can help you determine the amount of information that you wish to receive during the Disclosure.
My real goal in creating these steps, which will be formalized in a forthcoming free guidebook, was to provide you with the roadmap that I never had.
If I can shorten your path to finding the support that you need, then my job is done! I also want to mention again that like all healing, this is not a linear process and you won’t likely move through the steps in sequential order. You can be working on one or more or all of the steps at the same time.
Hopefully, I’ve been able to provide you with some basic information and tools to get you started. Unfortunately, you most likely still have a long, long way to go. But even you may hate me for saying this, being a Woman in the Desert may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
I totally get that you cannot see how that could every possibly be true, but it is 100% true for me and for many of the other partners and ex-partners of sex addicts that I have known and worked with.
Something magical happens when a woman goes into the desert. There is something so special about this time in your life when it feels like it has all been destroyed. I am not trying to discount your pain by focusing on your future. Be in your pain. Feel it. Grieve. The only way out is through.
But also know that in your heart, which by the way, the “desert” is the symbolic representation of, that you can rebuild a new life out of this seeming wasteland. You have the opportunity to rebuild your life on your terms and become the woman that you always wanted to be.
Strong. Fierce. Independent. Wild. Compassionate. Resilient. Free.
This can be true whether to choose to stay in your relationship or end it. Regardless of which you choose, this is your opportunity to say, “Yes” and to never settle for anything less than your heart and soul desires. There is always more love for you. There is always more life for you.