"I Can't Do This Without You"

Most wives and partners of men called sex addicts have heard it at some point in the wake of discovery and his panic to put Humpty Dumpty back together again quickly and quietly. Just when his secret life is screaming he doesn’t give a shit about you (or your children, for that matter) he gets all serious, puts on his best “sincere” face, and makes his dramatic confession of need, “Babe, I can’t do this without you.”

 Meanwhile you sit there being destroyed from the inside out as you process each unimaginable truth that is taking shape. You can’t breathe. You can’t speak. Shock has taken over your life and will own you for quite a long time. Words and thoughts fly around but won’t land. You are nauseated, dizzy, crying with no sound coming out. Terror creeps in as dots are connected. You start to worry about what he’s done and what it means. You need to get to a doctor. You need to find out what exactly he’s been doing and who’s involved.

Where did he get the money? Are the children in danger? Will he lose his job? How could he do this to me? How could he not care about the rest of us? I supported him all these years. I gave up my career. I gave him the best of who I am, and this is how he used it.

 Still, there he stands, feeling very sorry for who? ….himself! And the first thing he wants you to know is what he needs from you.

 So, what do you think a compulsive-abusive sexual-relational disordered man (Dr. Omar Minwalla’s clinical name for these guys) means when he says “I can’t do this without you?” Let me share a few possibilities.

Let me trigger your natural instincts to look after me first.

In this case he has gone back to what he knows best about you, and probably a reason why he chose you in the first place. You are selfless in your priorities. If he can just get you to land in that familiar place and devote your energies to his wellbeing, you will set aside your own injuries and needs and see him as the victim instead of yourself.

Let me seem to make you the most powerful person in this crisis.

Here, he pretends to put you in the driver’s seat. That’s supposed to make you feel like you have the antidote for feeling completely disempowered and disappeared. You alone have the power to save him. He will have to trust you. Now, bear in the mind he knows there’s no risk to trusting you. You are trustworthy. He’s the one who can’t be trusted.

I’m actually telling the truth—if you don’t co-operate I can’t get this situation back under my control.

It’s also possible that he is saying exactly what he knows is true, except his idea of what “this” is when he says “I can’t do this without you” is not at all what you think “this” is. You think “this” is all about him righting the wrong done to you, addressing his behaviour, undertaking all the therapy required to remedy the problem, ensuring he will change, etc. He thinks “this” is about overcoming this setback in control of you by giving the appearance that something is happening and he is changing.

 

Let me introduce you to the new improved “me”—truly broken and changed by this experience, and suitably humbled by how much I need from others—especially you.

In this instance he is trying to demonstrate he’s already a different person than he was. His arrogance has been wrestled to the ground. The new “him” is exactly who you want as a life partner—he’s vulnerable and honest in his need, and grateful for your belief in him. He wants you to believe this is going to be a brand new beginning for your relationship.

 

You are responsible for whatever happens—the good and the bad.

This is the really sinister underbelly of the statement in question. He intends to make you the fall-guy(woman) for his recovery. He laid out the terms of his success. It all depends on you. So, if he doesn’t succeed, it will be because you didn’t give him whatever he needed from you.

 

I’m terrified I’m going to lose everything I’ve worked so hard to create (my fake life with you and my secret life with myself) but the danger turns my crank!

This is as close as he’s ever going to come to actual panic. He’s terrified, but he’s also loving the adrenaline rush. It’s the thrill and satisfaction he got from his secret life of taking risk after risk right under your nose, but it’s multiplied many times over. He’s taking it to the next level and he can’t wait to see if he can pull this off. And yes, it’s another glimpse of the really sinister underbelly.

 

I don’t care what it’s like to be you right now. I only care about me.

Again, it’s really sinister. But it’s also the simple fact that his complete focus is on himself. He truly has no interest what the impact is on you or his children. He has no interest in what kind of help, support or medical attention that you need. He feels no call to make you and your needs a priority. And luckily for him, the sex addiction treatment industry will reinforce this sinister impulse of the compulsive-abusive sexual-relational disordered man, and ensure that the experience of, and impact on wives and partners will never become anyone’s priority for attention.

 

I expect you might be able to offer other versions of what he means when he says “I can’t do this without you.” The point I’m making here is that the con isn’t over with discovery. It just transitions to the next level of con. He’s always working it. He’s that damaged. No circle jerk group will address his psychiatric injury, and the industry-trained practitioners will be incompetent to diagnose that injury, never mind treat it. It doesn’t’ even matter if he is able to crack through his own disorder briefly and show himself. Nobody will be in the room who can help him, and that includes you.

You are not the critical ingredient to his recovery. The critical ingredient is treatment informed by more than the self-interests of treatment models, trainers and practitioners working with no researched results of any statistical significance to warrant their practices or their fees.

But isn’t it possible that when he says “I can’t do this without you” he honestly does want a new start in his life and wants you to be by his side in recovery for the best possible reasons of repentance reality and reconciliation hope?

Anything is possible. But what is likely?

The delusion of these men is something we often overlook in understanding the things they say. Delusion is about how psychologically committed someone has become to a reality frame that is contradicted by facts, or simply not impacted by facts. In other words, these men sometimes completely believe something that is not true. They are deluded by their own psychological need for it to be true. This is how some of these men are able to successfully pass lie detector tests. There is no physical indication of lying because these men truly believe they are telling the truth. Unfortunately for their wives and partners, the lies continue to be discovered afterward. This usually causes serious trauma because the supervising therapist with whom the test was conducted also believed him and urged the wife or partner to live into trusting him again.

In the case of a statement “I can’t do this without you”, the delusion is based on his belief that he is truly repentant, able to change his behaviors that have damaged you, and wants you beside him on that journey. It sounds good. But his sincerity is actually part of his participation in the delusion.

And finally, for folks who might just think I don’t give these men enough credit and I’m too negative, etc. let’s ask the remaining questions, “What if he really is repentant? What if he really can change? What if he really wants to change? What if he is asking me to stay with him on that journey so that we can have a brand new life together that is better than ever?”

Here’s the acid test. Tell him that you need to spend your energy on getting skilled treatment for your traumatized self so you can begin to heal in heart, mind, body and spirit. You may also have a priority for ensuring that any children you have are also receiving the love attention and skilled support that they need. Set a budget for having all these needs met. Tell him when you are well enough yourself, you will consider how much involvement you can have in his recovery. You also may need a separation to provide the safety your healing requires and you don’t know how long this will take any more than he knows how long his recovery will take 

So why is that the acid test? What you propose is reasonable. It allows the most seriously impacted victims of his actions to seek good care and support.  It also allows him to focus on his recovery knowing that the people he has injured are looked after properly. What else would we expect him to do?

It’s the acid test because even though it is the obviously correct and fair approach, it goes against the default setting of compulsive-abusive sexual-relational disordered men and their so-called sex addiction treatment industry. Their default settings will not make wife or partner care a priority, and rarely pay any attention to uncovering harm done to children in the home. So, if his remorse and commitment to change are real, he will be seeking these care priorities for them. If, on the other hand, he can’t even entertain your and your children’s needs as a legitimate priority for immediate attention and financing, and expects you to make him the center of your attention in recovery, you will know he has not really changed at all.

“I can’t do this without you.”

What are you really hearing when you hear this? If you want to talk about it your story is safe here, and you can book a special discounted trial session here:  https://www.yourstoryissafehere.com/coaching/  If you have further questions, contact me: Diane@yourstoryissafehere.com

With you,

Diane

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Diane Strickland