Disclosure Nightmares #1 - Lying
Disclosures come in all shapes and sizes. When they are controlled by a sex addiction treatment practitioner they are especially dangerous for wives and partners of men called sex addicts. This is because what we need in order to be safe and to heal is of no concern in the addict-centred treatment model. The disclosure serves the priorities of his program first and foremost. He is protected, affirmed, coddled, coached, and given permission to diminish the facts of his sexual and sexualized activities—often under the false pretence that “it’s in her best interests”. His therapist and/or program ensure the disclosure does not include any truth that could be used against him in court or other legal proceedings.
This brings us to lying. When the whole truth is withheld from wives or partners, when it is diminished, embellished or qualified, and when it is outright denied, lying is present in the disclosure.
While packing for my impending move this week, I stumbled upon the journals I kept through the worst years after discovery. My journals record how I held onto myself when his sex addiction therapist tried to beat me down into submission. I began reading from the period when my now ex-husband and I were trying to set up a disclosure event about a year after discovery. I had concerns about him lying to me in that event and wanted his sponsor there for the litmus test instead of the therapist. I was trying to stop being set up for more traumatic discoveries later, either by surprise or as further disclosure event that were deemed important for his recovery (without regard to me at all). I thought the sponsor would have a better nose for the lies than the therapist would, since he had lived in lies the same way my husband did. Lying would also indicate my husband was not yet taking responsibility for his actions and their impact on me. But when he brought my concerns and suggestion to his therapist (who was trained in the prevailing treatment model that has no publishable statistics to commend it) she responded, “You don’t lie.”
Now that, in itself, is a lie. But hey, get used to it.
Then he reported that she further protested, “But you don’t lie to me.” At this point I laughed right out loud, thinking for all the world that her sarcasm suggested a great deal of progress must have been made in his treatment for her to make jokes about it. Of course, I was very wrong. She was actually insisting that he did not lie to her.
This foolish arrogance is common. These therapists actually believe they are so special and so smart that these men don’t lie to them or can’t. Whether true or otherwise, however, it is actually an irrelevant argument for her to make, since disclosure wasn’t about her relationship with him, but about his relationship with me. And THAT relationship was based on lies upon lies upon lies---good grief it was just turtles all the way down over three decades! She should not have been confused in this regard—unless, of course, disclosure was actually about her relationship with him and not mine.
Guess what? It is about their relationship. Disclosure is usually about the two of them, not the two of you. This is especially true when his new secret life is about the one he has with the people in his treatment group. That is then weaponized against you and against the integrity of your ongoing relationship. It’s all about the codependent relationship they are cultivating and nurturing with the baseless treatment model. Wives and partners are props. Diminish, abbreviate, withhold, embellish the truth! That’s what disclosures are for! Jump through the hoop and soon he will be pronounced “all better” and if it you don’t buy in then the problem is you.
If we were considered real people in this fake treatment psychodrama, any concern we had about lying would become an important point for consideration, planning, and further understanding and discussion. If a trauma approach to caring for the partner was more than a marketing tool to suck partners in, the potential for you being re-traumatized by lying would be a well-thought out part of the preparation, execution, and follow-up. After all, this is the wound that wives and partners say is the worst one. So maybe, just maybe, it’s important.
Enter the polygraph.
Yes, in a desperate attempt to bring something that looks vaguely like scientific results to this farce (and shut us up at the same time) some disclosures include polygraph testing. Your relationship has been reduced to this. Just think about that for a bit.
In preparing for the polygraph, wives and partners may discover that their questions will be limited, qualified, and re-written as directed by the therapist or treatment centre staff. So, in the end, you will be asking the questions that work for them. In other cases, wives and partners have no idea what questions should be asked, and receive no practical help in this search for the truth. Often, wives and partners may struggle to do this kind of critical thinking task because of their ongoing trauma symptoms and end up asking questions that don’t serve their trauma care needs the most.
It is also true that the men taking the test are not amateur liars. Most often they are disordered people for whom lying has been a decades-long strategy for survival. It is not unusual for men to pass these tests and later on be proven as liars. Lying isn’t an option for these men. It’s a way of life. If lying is that deeply embedded in their lives and you cannot expect it to changed, then you need help doing risk assessment to determine if that’s a risk you can continue to absorb.
The heart of our trauma experience is his lying. This is what held together his secret life and perpetuated harm against us over years, often decades. It is a core level betrayal of disrespect, contempt, humiliation, and cruelty. Dealing with a disclosure is difficult enough. We should not have to convince his treatment practitioners or program centre that lying is legitimate concern for our re-traumatization and reconciliation sabotage. It should be a top priority for how wives and partners are cared for and respected in this process. And any inability to overcome lying should lead to a realistic discussion of his operational values and your ability to live abundantly with that person.
I abandoned the plan for disclosure with my ex-husband. The deck was being deliberately stacked against me without any concern for what I needed or what I deserved as a human being, never mind his wife. I wasn’t going to play the “but he doesn’t lie to me” game with his therapist. If she wanted him that badly, she could have him. They deserved each other. And I deserved something so much better than this shit show.
Lying. If you are in the midst of disclosure plans and don’t know how to protect yourself or get the information you need most (and that differs for each of us), send me a message. Your story is safe here.
P.S. in the end, I did get something so much better. I got me and a life that is good. But that’s another story.