Recovering From My Husband's Sex Addiction

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Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer Syndrome In My Marriage

I just received a pingback (a direct link from someone else’s website referring to one of my posts). What a huge gift that was for me.

I wrote a blog about the addiction cycle and how it worked in me and my life. The link back I received was a blog called There’s a Chip in my Heart who writes from the Al-Anon perspective. She had a blog about unmanageability. The blog was a huge eye opener for me for many reasons. She talked about Blame Shifting. What a huge concept that was for me to hear. That is exactly what I am living with.

My husband blames down the line to the first person who is there when things go wrong, unforseen, uncontrollable or too stressful. Guess who is first down the line? I get blamed for everything. He blame shifts so much that he can’t even see it. It all makes such perfect sense to him and his mind that he can’t see or hear anything wrong with his blaming me. It CAN”T be his fault, so it has to be blamed somewhere and if it has to be blamed somewhere than it makes only perfect sense that the one who he sees has all the control has to be blamed.

Her blog brought me to another blog that she quoted – Should I Stay or Should I Go? She is a doctor who talks about problems in marriages not necessarily about addiction. This blog talked about rescue marriages and it was like reading my history.

Every time someone asks me why I married my husband my answer is always that I thought I could love him whole. I didn’t know where, why or how he was broken but I knew he was an injured soul. I thought coming from an alcoholic background that I was also an injured soul. I thought love could heal us both. I knew he was an intelligent, kind and ambitious man, I thought with my love and support that he would blossom into his full potential.

Instead of blossoming, he shrunk.

The more he shrunk and became smaller and less than he was (the addiction stealing his soul, his confidence, his self-worth) the more I thought that I just needed to love more, give more, understand more. If I could only do it right then not only would he be healed so by osmosis, so would I.

This blog talked about the Karpman Drama Triangle theory from Stephen Carpman. That was another eye opener for me. It is another cycle that exists in my marriage.

The Karpman Drama triangle includes a Victim (My Husband), a Rescuer (Me) and a Persecutor. As I read this theory it occurred to me that the persecutor role in our relationship is the role that is always shifting and changing. I believe that the beginning of our marriage the persecutor was the addiction and the addict ego. It was a part of my husband that wanted to punish the world for all the wrongs that had been done to him. The more that I tried to rescue him, the more the addiction wanted to persecute me. It seemed that all the wrongs of the world could be traced back to me – attach the Blame Shifting Theory in here as well.

What is fascinating to me is that the Victim role also changes between my husband and I but the Rescuer role does not. We will take turns feeling like victims, blaming each other for what is wrong, we both persecute the other, the addiction or someone else.

But only I take on the role of the Rescuer. I am the one chasing him, wanting to heal him, wanting to make him, us and everything all better. It makes me appear like a control freak.

But in all honesty, I yearn to be rescued. I yearn for the fairy tale ending of Prince Charming sweeping me off my feet and taking me to a far away land where we can live happily ever after.

And I never get that feeling. Nobody is coming to rescue me.

It sets me up for resentment, unresolved feelings of doubting my self-worth (if nobody will rescue me, there must be something wrong with me). It sets me up for a whole host of my own destructive feelings.

No wonder our dance is so complicated. No wonder we are walking wounded.

I am left to wonder how the break this cycle. I believe it begins with healing the addiction and then healing us individually and our marriage.

I have stopped, as much as I am aware of, rescuing my husband. I catch myself when we are triggered and I can see fairly quickly in hindsight that I was back in that role. I am hoping the more that I catch it, the faster I will catch and the quicker that I can stop the action all together but I am aware that is a process that I can’t control.

I am wondering if I start rescuing myself, will that be just as destructive or will it be healing? Can I undo my part of this dance, this syndrome if I only concentrate on myself and healing myself, regardless of what I think he, our family, our marriage or anything else needs?

How can I do that and not be selfish and destructive like the addiction is?

This has been a huge eye-opening experience. I have just started to process the thoughts. I am waiting for an appointment for my own therapy to begin. I think I will take these insights and awareness to my therapist and see what she thinks.

In the meantime can I say how amazing these sharing of blogs, ideas, experiences has been for me. Without someone reading my messed up thoughts and connecting her thoughts and experiences to mine, I would never have been made aware of these cycles working in my life. I am truly grateful and awestruck by the power of sharing.


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9 thoughts on “Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer Syndrome In My Marriage

  1. I know how you feel, I am also glad that you liked my post about unmanageable. My husband and I took a marriage 911 course at a church in our home town and it helped out a lot. He had been clean and sober for about 2 months at that point. . I am so thankful for my Al-Anon home group and my husbands AA home group. Al-Anon meetings should be open to anyone and some AA meetings are open to everyone, its worth a visit if you have never been.

    • Court,

      I have been to a Al Anon group but feel best served in my S Anon group. I grew up in alcoholism. I have lost many to addiction. I am determined to break the cycle. I thank you for sharing. Your sharing is helping me and probably more than you could ever know.

      I wish you all the best. Keep posting. Keep healing.


  2. Candida Abrahamson PhD on said:

    You sound very self-aware. I assume from your insight that you’ve had either counseling or group support. If you haven’t, I believe it can make a huge difference for you, since these patterns can be changed, allowing you a healthier, freer life. Candida

    • Candida,

      Thank you for the compliment. Yes I believe that I am self aware and on a path of continuous growth. I have been a part of counseling, group support within my RCA and S Anon groups as well as someone who is continually reading, researching, growing and trying to understand myself and my world better. My issue is not in the understanding why or how but how to actually implement change that will stick and not have me revert back to old patterns.

      I will continue growing and with your site as part of my ongoing path, I am sure that it will happen.

      Thank you for providing me with some insight.


  3. inertia on said:

    My therapist recommended that I look for a S-anon meeting online but have been unable to find anyone to talk to or gain insight from..and somehow I was led to your blog. First I thank you for your blog as it gives me a point of departure- someone to talk to, someone to share my experiences with.

    I left my therapist’s office upset that my life, the one that seemed to be fine and happy is once again turned upside down but now I realize it’s not her, it’s me..and these problems are real. They just sit there in hiding, waiting for their next chance to come out and sabotage my life.

    I’m tempted to go wake up my husband- who seems too happy, too content and too “okay” with himself despite all the shit he put me through with his sex addiction and dump my anger out on him to make him pay for all the pain and tears he brought into my life but instead, I choose to find solace in this online space hoping to connect with other women who understand what I’m going through.

    I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who is now married to a SA. I battled alcoholism and depression my entire life. Yes I was once a victim and I continued to trap myself in the victims role by marrying someone like my husband. But today I’m making a conscious choice to get out of this painful cycle and get on the road of healing and recovery. I think I will make my own blog about my own experiences. Will reconnect again. best wishes my friend.

  4. Thanks to your blog, I finally gathered the strength to begin my own healing journey. It’ll mean a lot if you can be my first reader. I look forward to connecting with you and sharing our journey together.

    p.s. please delete my previous post as I would like to keep my identity anonymous.

    best wishes.

    • Dear Inertia,

      Thank you for your kind words. I am thrilled you found me. I am sad that you had to. I know the pain and isolation of sex addiction only too well. You will find if you continue to read that ups and downs of my recovery path. I hope that creating a blog is just as healing and magical for you as it has been for me. Something truly miraculous happens when you share your deepest, darkest thoughts, feelings and experiences in this great big anonymous meeting. There is something truly healing about being heard.

      That being said, I highly recommend that you find a S Anon meeting either in person (preferable), there are phone meetings daily and an online support group as well. You can get all the information you need by contacting S Anon World Service office. We only know what we know and we need to grow to outgrow the effects of the addiction. Therapy has proven to be wonderful but nothing replaces the sharing of experience, strength and hope of those who KNOW intimately what you are going through.

      I am here for you. I will read your blog. I encourage you to connect to those who can help you heal. I wish you all the best but this is not a smooth easy road. Please be prepared to stay the course when it gets scary and hard as hell.


      PS. I would love to publish your first comment. It was so open and honest and so many people can identify. I have removed your private email address and only left your name as inertia but I will not publish it unless you give me permission.

  5. Thank you for your reply. Yes that is fine as long as it just has my pen name inertia.

    I will continue to read your blog and share my story. I plan on attending S-Anon meetings but still a little wary..I’ve been to AA meetings for myself and always felt something was “missing” in the puzzle. Perhaps my own reflection and writing are what were missing.

    I’m so glad we found each other. Thank you for your courage and wisdom.

  6. I will soon begin therapy looking into the Carpman’s triangle. I found out a gentleman living with me was a sex addict and abusive–into power and control.
    The real eye opener was that I have played all three positions and had behaviors that were unhealthy. No wonder my relationships have been a disaster. Trying to reach out. pen name-Mountainsprite

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