PARTNER: I felt that I had the whole story and had been given the chance to ask for detail and clarification in a safe way. It was like a line in the sand. I was no longer being deceived and knew what I had to deal with.
I was finally an equal partner. I wasn’t being ‘protected’ from the truth. If I continued in my relationship, it was with informed consent.
I felt trusted by my partner and closer to him than I had in a long time. I don’t know how but I felt that rebuilding trust in our relationship could actually be possible now.
My husband definitely healed during the process. He became less shameful and I was able to talk to him about my feelings and what had happened without triggering a huge fight or flight response from him. This meant that I was able to turn to him for support and he was there for me. We felt like a couple again. I saw the man that I had fallen in love with come back again. This was hugely supportive of my healing.
The more accountable my partner became for what he had done and the effect of that on me and us, the more I was able to feel compassion for him and gratitude for what he was doing now. That was way better than the anger, fear and confusion that I had been feeling.
ADDICT: I managed to lose my overwhelming shame. It had cloaked me for many years and stopped me from really living. I had been a walking empty shell, you know “the lights are on, but there is nobody home” type existence.
For the first time in many years, I started to feel like I was an honourable man. What do I mean by that? I mean that an honourable man tells his loved one when he has done something wrong, he doesn’t make excuses or tries to justify, he accepts his responsibility, he says what he is going to do about it in future — and he makes sure he does what he says.
My wife told me she thought I was brave and that she was proud of me. I almost believed her (I do, fully, now). That felt so good, I never thought I would hear that.
It enabled me to be honest about the relatively little things. No more “I won’t tell her I am frightened about X in case she thinks I am not masculine / tough / capable” and so on. And no more “I won’t tell her about that as she’ll be upset and so I’ll avoid it to take care of her”. I now realize that nothing takes care of her more than having an honest and available spouse.
We relaxed as a couple. We both knew and fully sensed that there were no more secrets. For the first time in years we had a solid foundation for our love and not one with a massive crack running right through it.
I have started to realize there are trees in this world! Really, I had started to just look at the ground when I walked along. I felt ashamed, useless and basically unpleasant. But now I look up, I am not ashamed to be seen. I am, after all, an honourable man.