We use an analogy of being hit by a truck to illustrate what a woman experiences and her healing process, upon discovering of, or a spouse’s disclosing of his sexual addiction and/or mis-behaviors.
In this analogy, the husband is driving a big truck down the road, but the windows are foggy, and he isn’t able to see out of them clearly. Because of this, as he drives, he careens down the street.
As his wife sees his erratic driving, she runs alongside trying to help him, shouting out, “honey, a little more to the left, you’ve just gone over the curb!” and “oh, no -watch out for the neighbor’s flower bed!” and “oops, watch out! You are going to hit the kids who are playing on the lawn!” As she runs along shouting instructions, she tries to help him, to keep him safe, and protect others in his path and around him.
And then, in the process, he swerves and doesn’t see her there – because his windows are foggy (addict fog or addict brain) and she gets run over by this truck.
For the wife, this is usually D Day – when she discovers or he discloses his addiction/mis-behaviors. Unknowingly, she had been running along, trying to help him – knowing something was off or not quite right, but not knowing exactly what.
She may have shared articles, and books or information with him, that could be helpful to whatever he was dealing with, and oftentimes, throughout the journey, she would think it had something to do with her – if only she were thinner, prettier, smarter, more accomplished etc… then he would be interested in her, or wouldn’t act that way. And so she has spent a lot of time questioning herself and her worth …but in the end Disclosure/Discovery day hits, and she is hit by this big truck that her husband is driving.
After D-Day, as her husband gets out of the cab, he wipes his forehead and says, “Phew! I am SO glad to be out of that truck -that was crazy. I can’t believe it…I couldn’t see anything… it was so foggy. I’m so glad I can see clearly now!”
Everything is finally out in the open – now he doesn’t have to hide it anymore…what a relief! And so, as he jumps out of the cab to the ground, he looks around for his wife. He may be relieved that everything is out in the open now and be ready to start working with the Bishop and with his support group – working on his recovery and repentance.
As he looks for his wife, he and others may show some frustration.
Where in the dickens is his wife? Why isn’t she here helping him?
At a time like this, she should be there by his side helping him! Others may also ask why she isn’t there by his side, helping him – she’s his wife, can’t see understand how much help and support he needs? He needs to talk to the Bishop and it’s going to be hard, and he needs her to hold his hand and help him while he goes to this meeting – he needs her help and support while he works on his recovery, because it is going to be really hard, and he isn’t sure if he can do it without her help.
When he finally finds her, he discovers that she is on the ground, lying in a heap, with every single bone in her body crushed and broken.
Even though he has an important meeting to go to, he and others may not realize that she needs surgery – and she can’t help him. She has to focus on her own healing. It will take a long time, and she will be in the hospital, in a full body cast for the next several months.
She’s in no place to be able to help him, because she has been so painfully crushed, and she will need to use all of her strength, energy and focus to work on her own healing. She may not be able to function, or even get dinner for her kids for a while. She has a very separate journey of healing that she will need to take, and while she would love to help support her husband in his recovery, she is incapable of helping him.
Part of her recovery will be learning to deal with the Betrayal Trauma and the accompanying PTSD type triggers and symptoms caused by his disclosure and actions. She may experience anxiety, intense emotions, self-questioning and doubt, depression, triggering, and she will go through a grieving process.
As she heals, she will need to be able to share her story with other trusted individuals, so that she can process through her pain and emotions, rather than having to bury and hide her emotions in secrecy and shame. This is often most effective in a therapeutic group setting, where she can find validation, express her pain, and learn to set and use appropriate boundaries, through which she can create safety for herself and her children; honor her emotions with dignity, and the importance of self-care – connecting to Heavenly Father every day, and taking care of herself physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally each day.
If you would like to participate in one of our free therapist led support groups for women working to heal from betrayal trauma please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 801.923.3026. The Worth Group provides FREE, therapist led, LDS principle based support groups for married and divorcing women experiencing betrayal trauma due to a spouse’s pornography use, sexual addiction and/or sexual acting out. Weekly meetings are offered online and in-person.
Article written by MaryAnn H. Michaelis, MSW
If you reside in Washington state and are interested in finding understanding support in your personal healing journey, please contact me at email@example.com.