Friday, July 20, 2012

Part 3: Accountability & Trust


Did I say that I'd be back Monday with a post about accountability? 
It's Friday. I'm sorry. 
And, you know, there are a few really great unanswered questions in the 
Ask Mr. Scabs file that have been ignored for weeks.  
It's summertime!  
And the truth is I often can't find the extra time to spend on my computer. 

Now, onto our discussion on accountability. 


I know what it's like to want to believe him.  To try and trust him.  

I know how it feels to be so lost and confused.  Betrayed.  Grieving the death of someone you believed existed.  Who you believed was your accomplice in life.  Someone who you believed would hold your hand everyday.  And who would wrap his fingers around your gray hairs while holding each other at the end of life.  

A love unbreakable.

I found myself hanging onto threads of trust.  Maybe we'd had a genuine conversation, he cried and showed emotion.  Maybe we spent some quality time laughing and being friends.  Maybe he'd told some kind of truth.  Tiny tokens of trust.  Easily broken threads.  

Sanity tells me not to trust him.  Insanity tells me to try and trust him.

I've learned to trust Sanity.  Sanity is my fairy god-mother.  She wears mint green skinny jeans and has the raddest jewelry collection.  She resides in my heart and in my belly.  I will always listen to her.  

Insanity is my anti-god mother.  She smokes unfiltered Camel Reds and her hair's a thin, ragged color of blonde.  Frizzy from poor nutrition and over-coloring.  We have a rusty relationship.  

Sanity told me to let go of trying to trust him.  And so I did.

As an unexpected residual, I was also able to let go of fear.  Fear held me so tightly.

I began to steer my own ship.  I disturbed the unbalance of power and control.  You see, he was sinking his ship.  Sure, it might occasionally come up and bobble for air but, no mistake, it was fading.  Soon to capsize and plunge into the frigid dark bottom of Hell.  Surely, the Devil had taken over the captains quarters on Mr. Scabs pimped out yacht.  I had to abandon his ship or my children and I would follow.  

This whole process began a natural progression into accountability.

It's a new discovery for me and I don't know a lot about accountability.  I have a feeling it's going to be one of my greatest discoveries.

Shame and embarrassment no longer disabled me.  I wasn't hiding, cushioning or taking blame for his messed up life, lies and unhappiness.  He became accountable for himself.  Setting my boundaries and limits, letting go of trust and fear, and steering my own ship left the responsibility to his shoulders.  Surprise, Mr. Scabs!  I dumped that burden on the deck of his yacht then paddled to a safe distance.  

Kinda like the day he ate too many chili flakes.  It's not my job to make sure his chili flake intake is the right balance and he's not sent into self-induced red-faced, fiery sweat convulsions.  Literally!  I wish you could have seen the pile of flakes he dumped on his chicken/mango wrap.  It was comical.

Do you think he'll ever over-do the chili flakes again?   The pain made him accountable for his overdose.

Sometimes it seems like sex or porn addicts get away with everything.  How is it that a man can travel the world on the hunt for sex and come home intact?  This is when Insanity speaks louder than Sanity or maybe they just both agree.  Through her ragged puffs of cigarette smoke she builds dark fantasies in my mind...

"Don't worry Scabs, fate's  got your back.  Right this moment, Mr. Scabs is entering a lair of hungry, Asian zombie hookers.  They only eat penis and balls with ketchup.  He will walk in a man and come out aphallic.  A few Band-Aids will be the only reminder of the man he once was."  (enter wheezy smoke-filled laugh)

I can't take any credit for that hallucination, that's Insanity talking (do you find it ironic that I'm not taking accountability for that tangent?).   It's terrible, isn't it?   But really, why do they seem to get away with lies, cheating, risky-behavior and all sorts of ridiculous sneakiness?

This is where accountability can take another form.  Instead of naturally occurring it can be impelled.  This happened when I had Tourettes, or when we'd attend therapy, or when he'd work the 12-steps and employ a sponsor.  

When Mr. Scabs decided to involve other people in his recovery this became more effective.  He became accountable to them.  He even feels accountable to all of you.  Secrecy feeds this addiction.

I've also needed accountability.  Especially, support in helping me follow through with my boundaries.  Accountability to help me moderate Sanity and Insanity.  Becoming accountable for my own actions and feelings.  Knowing when to ask for help.

The more accountable I am, the more accountable Mr. Scabs becomes for himself.  We have an evenly burdened teeter-totter.  My struggle to trust and believe his is gone. 

The responsibility to prove trustworthiness becomes his.


  1. The chili flake analogy is so brilliant. The codependent, co-captain in me tries so hard to protect him from himself, first by suggesting

    "That might not be a good idea"

    and then later by literally grabbing the wrap, and wrestling with him over it.

    Maybe you said "I told you so!" As he suffered in fiery agony over the chili flakes, but probably it was enough, it didn't need to be said, the lesson was learned.

    I'm totally rambling here.

    I just think you are totally on to something with this accountability thing.

    I don't think they get away with anything, there are eternal truths and laws about consequences, and although they may seem indifferent, when their ship is sinking they MUST be feeling exquisite fear, agony and despair. Because their choices aren't ours we can escape those terrible things. We don't HAVE to feel them. But they do.

    Rambling again...

    Great analogies Scabs. I think I'm with you,

    "It's a new discovery for me and I don't know a lot about accountability. I have a feeling it's going to be one of my greatest discoveries."

    1. Eternal truths. We'll all have to face that music one day, right?

      And for the record. I didn't say anything when his face turned red and fire spit from his ears. There was nothing to say, we just laughed. But, i think you're right. Lesson learned. About chili flakes anyway.

  2. Amen! 1,000x's AMEN! I was sitting in an S-Anon meeting and realized that when I choose to save him from his consequences I was letting him have "his cake and eat it too". I am working on accountability. I have found also that I tend to do the same thing with my kids and by doing so I am creating the possibility of little future sex addicts. NO THANK YOU! I will do what I can to change my behavior now, so we can STOP THE CYCLE and STOP THE MADNESS!

    1. right on! and you're right, that's exactly what it's like. We all know that when we threaten not to give a Popsicle because our kids haven't cleaned there rooms...and then later after loads of begging and whining and maybe they cleaned a little bit we find ourselves eating a popscile with them.

      Don't you think it's the same concept with our addicted spouses. Don't give everything away for nothing.

  3. I've been thinking about accountablity. I don't know who my husband feels accountable to. I hope he feels accoutable to his counselor, the bishop, himself, the men in his 12 step meeting (but let me be honest here-he is the only one that attends most of the time-and there isn't even a facilitator that shows up--so he really is the only one)... (he doesn't have a sponser)....But I do not trust him and he hasn't proven that he's trustworthy so I don't ask him to be accountable to me. I don't trust what he tells me and he hides things from me. So expecting accountablity from him at this point breeds craziness (insanity for me). Since I cannot expect accountablity from him (which is why he and I are separated)...I think about accountablity that I expect of myself. The things that come to mind at the end of a day: have I set boundaries, have I owned my actions and feelings and not blamed others, have I taken care of myself, have I been aware of what I'm feeling?. I do not know how to work accountability into my relationship with my husband -in terms of asking it of him or being accountable to him. But it seems that working accountability into a relationship damaged by a husband's lust addiction has to happen when a husband is in recovery and willing to accept responsibility for his actions and willing to work on a marriage. I too have a lot to learn. Thank you for your thoughts and honesty in this post Scabs. Peggy

  4. Scabs...just found this article after I read your post...trying to understand more about accountability in the face of an addicted spouse.

    1. great article and I got reading a few articles on the site. thanks! Have you heard the story about the wolf? Is it in the old addiction recovery manual?

  5. So let me see if I understand. It sounds to me that in essence you are saying that detaching and boundaries on your end really are the key to allowing him the opportunity (although he still may not choose it) to take accountability for his actions. As long as you try to steer his ship, you were essentially in the way of him learning through natural consequences. It also seems that if you draw appropriate boundaries, that can also allow natural consequences.

    I think there is another layer where the addict eventually has to choose to be accountable in appropriate ways that are consistent with recovery (e.g., going to meetings, getting a sponsor, talking to the bishop/clergy/religious leader, getting a therapist). In other words, not being codependent as a wife can be part of that. But then there is active choice on his part that is made for an addict to be accountable for his actions. But that kind of accountability is something you can't force. But it *could* be something that is a condition of a boundary, though, no? (I can't make you choose recovery, but if you don't then I will choose to ___________ )

    I also go back to something you said before that intrigued me, but isn't talked about a lot. "We just talked about the boundaries. I never wrote them down. Some boundaries we had our therapist or stk pres or friends witness. Setting a precedence for accountability." I thought that was another interesting aspect to consider with boundaries.

    I was talking with a woman who is writing a book about these topics and she talked about that -- how a wife/spouse/partner needs an advocate, someone to help with boundary-setting. I need to ask her more about that.

    1. I think that's right. There are natural ways to be accountable and impelled ways to be accountable. This all really started taking shape when mr scabs involved others in his recovery and he became accountable to them too.

      I'd love to hear what your writer friend has to say on the subject.

  6. I totally get that I have my own shipe to steer. I get that I am accountable to me. But there is always outside forces trying to sink you or take you off course and what happens if that ship is your husbands... because we are married and living under the same roof his actions directly effect me his conseqences are also mine right? how do i detach? this has been my road block for the past year and i just cant seem to get past it. please help!

    1. Everyone's situation is different and I don't really know what is the magic way to make this all work. I only share my experience, my mistakes and what has worked for me. Detaching was key...KEY to my Sanity. As you can read in the post above...I didn't want Insanity to take over. She's quite crazy.

      I understand detachment is so hard bring to reality. It sounds like you know what detachment is but not quite sure how to make it an action. Although Mr Scabs lived with me post d-day then was kicked out and then moved back in, I'm usually able to maintain and the right level of detachment. My relationship has required a range of detachment, from severe to mild.

      You're right, his actions may affect you BUT you have a choice on how you will respond to his actions. This is the basis of how you detach. You will learn to respond, protect and be prepared instead of reacting getting lost in emotions. That is how detaching helped me.

      Can I ask a few questions so I can better answer your question. And hopefully we can get some of these genius ladies out here to join the discussion too.

      What level of detachment do you think you need?
      Give me a few examples of how his actions are effecting you and lets see if we can find ways to detach.
      What have you tried in lue of detaching?
      When do you feel most vulnerable to him? and why?

      Sorry if I'm digging. If you'd rather email me we can keep it private.

    2. i saw this and thought of you: how to detach.

  7. Scabs,

    Great posts. I loved the imagery of insanity and sanity. I definitely have those moments when insanity tries to get the upper hand on me. Lately I feel G and I have made some good strides on boundaries. I found it very empowering to advocate for myself. To say, this is something I need to focus on my recovery. For example, I have major issue with G staying up late working on the computer. I can't relax, I stew over what he is doing, and so on. I didn't feel right about mandating that he can't work late because ultimately he needs to make those choices. I set the boundary that if he chooses to work late, then my bedroom door closes at 10:30 and he will sleep on the couch once he is done working. That way, I don't "wait up" by wondering when he will finish and come to bed. It's a boundary to protect me from my codependant tendency to worry about a situation that I can't control. We've talked about a few other boundaries and it opened up new conversations about how to satisfy my need for honesty and his need to be focus on the positive signs of recovery. We are working through issues that have been lurking for who knows how long. I'm so grateful for all your posts and the chatter in the comments!

    1. I like that boundary. I always think that spouses should go to bed together, for so many reasons. You staked claim on the bed and set your boundary. Anxiety eats away at so many of us. I never really felt the acid of anxiety until d-day.

      You know I've had you in mind on a few of these posts. Thanks for being here!

  8. SanityRegained is the nom de plume i took on while posting on various sites related to sex addiction.

    I have left the SA after a relationship of 8 years.

    I was cheated and deceived for the entire 8 years of the relationship.

    He was married and had started our relationship by telling me that he was filing for a divorce.

    There was a "mock separation" from the wife also that he threw in for my benefit.

    On discovery day i found that not only was the divorce story completely false but there was a history of "porn to prostitution" with everything in between.
    Once i realised that his marriage was on i decided to walk.

    It took me 18 months to walk away completely because i was completely emotionally dependent on him and totally in love.

    I asked my this it? i just walk away having lost 8 years of my life and he continues with his life at home and outside without any consequences?..its just not fair.

    He just said one word to me....KARMA.

    I walked out of the crazy world and into a real world.

    Hence "SanityRegained,".

    Scabs, so when you talk about Sanity and Insanity i get it , completely.

    1. The destruction of betrayal is unreal, isn't it?

      And it takes you to places you don't imagine possible, like Insanity. Every time I read the bits and pieces you share of your story I'm stopped in my tracks. My mind can not grasp any of the ludicrousness and abundance of entitlement someone takes on to go on with treating people so terribly.

      I imagine walking away from an 8 year matter how messed up it was, became next to impossible to do. But you did.

  9. Oh, I love this, Scabs. Love it. Sure, we all WANT to be able to trust our husbands/fiances/partners. But in reality, detaching and taking care of ourselves and letting them fix their addiction is so freeing. I can't even describe the freedom. Took me years to get there (and I'm still working on it). If only someone could have taught me that 5 years ago.

    1. Scabs , i was not the wife here but someone on the other side of the story.

      I have heard every single thing, a wife shares on this forum vis a vis her SA husband , from my SA vis a vis his wife..just his point of view.

      Many a times i feel like saying something or sharing something when i spot the phonisness in the SA husbands' words and actions post D day narrated by the women here.

      But i keep quiet fearing that i may offend someone or take away their belief in a healthy future.For 2 reasons..the first that i could be wrong and the second this is a journey which has to be made by every woman herself and she has to find out the truth on her own.

      I, too , had been guided and counselled and warned by many women in various forums who were quite ahead of me in their journey with their SA partners but i did not pay heed.

      It was a truth i had to discover on my own.

      Scabs i died a million deaths in the time it took me to break away.

      I could not openly share my story on any forums ,coz most women who posted there are wives and though i was completely deceived about the status of his marriage i carry huge guilt about my relationship vis a vis his wife and by proxy, other wives too.

      Scabs,i am greatly touched by the warmth you have shown me.

      And you are right..the sense of entitlement that he had was something i yet cant wrap my head around.

      Its crazy.

      Nearing the end when we just communicated as friends he opened up a lot about his marriage..his expectations from his wife were sky high and since they werent being met he was always very angry with her.Finally , i asked him how can he expect her to be a normal wife with the lifestyle he was leading..and would you believe it he said she doesnt know anything so why isnt she a good wife???

      He couldnt even begin to understand that he had spread himself so thin that there wouldnt have been anything left to give to his wife but he yet expected to have a normal marriage and since he didnt have one it was a justification for whatever he was doing.

      Talk about entitilement.

  10. I love this bit: "Sanity told me to let go of trying to trust him. And so I did.
    As an unexpected residual, I was also able to let go of fear. Fear held me so tightly."

    I'm working on setting up boundaries and detaching, but I want to trust him so badly, that it is almost like I can't let that part go. I know it is HIS job to rebuild that trust, but sometimes I find myself anxiously awaiting the bricks of trust like a puppy dog waits by the door for his master to return.

    1. isn't it kind of weird how much effort we will put into trying to trust them? It's like forcing something fully unnatural. When I clear all the fog, I can see that trust just isn't even in the picture. It's as if trust comes as the cherry on top after all the rebuilding and repair work. trust is the fruit of consistency.



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