Jeff said that his behavior accelerated and got more risky over time. This was part of the thrill. And, just like an alcoholic or a gambling addict, he'd have almost immediate regret afterward. He had the insight to admit that much of his behavior was not physically gratifying, but a means to release anger at the female abuser of his childhood. When you think of it that way, I guess his leaving me celibate for weeks at a time was a blessing in disguise.
When he finished his confession, I was in shock. Slowly, I started to feel anger, and then incredible sorrow. But there was another part of me whose heart broke for the little boy who had been hurt so long ago and had spent his entire life trying to exorcise those demons.
I read about sex addiction and discovered that there was a chance for a "cure," and even hope for the marriage if he would commit himself to serious therapy, three times a week. I prayed that he would try to get well for both our sakes, and for our children.
When my oldest daughter started to notice that something was wrong, he finally agreed to go to a psychologist. He went once a week...and I waited to see if the man I thought I knew would come back to me.
In the meantime, however, it took a different kind of betrayal to shake me out of my denial for good. Our youngest daughter went to the hospital in Sweden, and doctors diagnosed her with a serious illness. I thought for sure that Jeff and I would put our other issues aside and pull together for her sake. But he couldn't acknowledge that her life was in jeopardy, and was prepared to go back to work the next day. A sick child was simply more than he could handle. As he turned and walked out the door of the intensive care unit, his face told me everything I needed to know. Although he hadn't left me yet, I was already alone.
In that moment, I could see Jeff clearly for the first time: He is a man who would have continued to conduct two parallel lives if I hadn't caught him. In his reality, a difficult childhood is a good enough reason to run roughshod over someone else's heart. That reality is where he lives to this day. I am relieved to say I no longer live there with him.