Never Have I Ever…

Over time, I’ve come to realize that a good number of my conversations with my husband regarding his years of acting out have seemed an awful lot like a sadistic round of the “Never have I ever…” game.

Absent a betrayer who vomits forth disclosures, we partners are left to ask question after question, trying to get answers. We have a million questions, and we also ask the same questions multiple times. Nonetheless, we only know to ask certain questions based on the limited sphere of information we have at hand. I, for one, cannot ask what I cannot even fathom I should ask. I’m left with seemingly random guesses or barely educated stabs in the dark. “Have you ever…?” or “Did you ever…?”

As an example, Handsome did not volunteer that he was pic collecting from the “massage services” section of Craigslist (which should really more appropriately be called the “prostitution services” section) from places clear across the country. In talking about Craigslist he happened to mention the word “massage” by accident, I think, and that led to me asking if he pic collected from massage services postings. Until that point he had always insisted that he only perused the Woman Seeking Men section of our local Craigslist ads because he was “looking for criminal activity” where he worked. (He had admitted that he would save some of the pictures).  When I asked, he admitted utilizing the massage services ads as well. Then I remarked “Really? It seems unusual to me that you would limit yourself to those postings in _________ [where we live], because there aren’t that many of them and I understand that many pic collectors search postings from all over the country.” He then answered casually, “Oh well, yes, I did that too… from basically everywhere Craigslist has a presence.” This statement was an admission that his pic collecting was a much more pervasive part of his acting out than I had previously imagined in that it included both the massage services and the dating/ hook -up sections of Craigslist (and probably Backpage), and he was in touch with women all over the country. It totally undermined his whole “I was mostly on Craigslist for work” BS – not that I ever bought that for a second.

Does he get a thumbs up for finally being honest? Sure. He could have lied and claimed he never did any of that. I’m mindful though that had I not done any reading or research on pic collecting, I never would have known to ask the question that I did. It might squeeze its way into the definition of an admission, but it sure doesn’t seem like rigorous honesty to me. I shouldn’t have to guess at what he’s done.  Otherwise, maybe I’ve got the wrong game in mind. Perhaps this disclosure process is more like Battleship, where I just randomly toss out the most hideous things I can think of that he might have done and see if any hit their mark.

8 thoughts on “Never Have I Ever…”

  1. “I, for one, cannot ask what I cannot even fathom I should ask.” Oh, how I can relate to that! Especially because I have a counsellor who felt it necessary to tell me I was very naive about my husband’s acting out behaviours throughout our marriage. But really, what was so bad about being naive?!

    However, after reading here about pic collecting my heart sank a little because I didn’t really know what that was and had to go google it. Which I did because I have previously found a folder on the computer of pictures my husband copied from Facebook and such of women I know in their bikini/beach/vacation and skanky Halloween costumes. But apparently that isn’t pic collecting, just bad behaviour. Lucky me.

    1. Cynthia, I honestly had no idea what pic collecting was until Dr. M told me that it was one of Handsome’s acting out behaviors. I had to ask Dr. M to explain it to me. He was very kind and I don’t think it surprised him that I didn’t know, but I still felt like a fool for having to ask. And yes, I had absolutely zero idea that gathering pictures of scantily clad random, skanky strangers on the internet would be a turn on for Handsome. Who would ever guess such a thing? 🙁

      1. It is rather bizarre. It seems like more work than porn, but less than the real thing. So maybe that’s the appeal. Reminds me of why my counsellor said not to ask my husband specifically about porn, but rather “sexually explicit or arousing images”. That all goes back around to knowing the right questions to ask. Ugh.

        1. Exactly. That’s not a question that flows forth naturally. A spouse who isn’t a therapist/ CSAT would likely never come up with that on their own. And, at least with with my husband (at this particular time in his recovery), he’s not going to answer a question that I’m not asking. *sigh*

  2. I think it boils down to it’s just so hard for SAs in early recovery to be completely honest about their acting out because of the shame they feel about it and the fear that this may be the admission that’s the deal breaker for the partner. I’m not defending SAs or their behavior, but I can imagine that they start to feel anxious or fearful when we start questioning. At the very least they have to be fearing a fight. It’s hard for us, too. I had lots of questions in the beginning. So much of it just didn’t make sense. When I would say to my CSAT, “It just doesn’t make sense to me” the CSAT would say, “That’s because you’re not a sex addict.”

    I believe that if both people are working on their own recovery there will come a time when the partner has less questions and the SA no longer fears the truth. It’s hard to say who will get to their respective points first. When I would talk about my husband’s past acting out and express disgust, anger, hurt, a recovery friend would say to me, “Quit trying to change the past, Maggie.” There’s nothing we or the SA can do about the past but learn from it. I do believe in recovery. The brain can change. It’s been documented. I also believe I can only change myself, so that’s where I put my energy. This can be done. I know people who are doing it.

    1. I agree that there’s a lot I’ll never grasp because I’m not the addict. Handsome will say to me “It seemed reasonable at the time,” to which I think “okay, you’re an addict, but you are not retarded. You have a brain.” We have to agree to disagree because I just don’t get it.

      I’m approaching the phase of fewer questions. I think I just have a few more things I need to try to get a grip on before I get there. Our CSAT warned me that he may not have more answers. I think it’s worth a shot though. As a part of my recovery I want to be confident that I at least tried to get the whole, broader story. I don’t need (or want) the lingerie/ sex position details. I’m more interested in being assured that I know the scope of his acting out behaviors (e.g. were there ever escorts or happy ending massages?) so I know what to be wary of… both for my health and well being and so I know what boundaries should be in place.

      It’s a work in progress. Like me, I guess.

      1. The challenge I have now is when some unrelated topic comes up about our life, our future and I find myself feeling resentful about his past bad acts. He brought whores to our home. Now, we live in a suburb that is a good 20 miles from the nearest red light district, so that meant quite a drive to bring a whore to our home. The reason he gave was that the whore had lost her apartment at one point so there was nowhere to go. No cheap motel? That charges by the hour? In the red light area? The whore wouldn’t know of a place like that? Right. I’m sure she has a list. I realize it was complicated and completely screwed up that he chose to take that kind of a risk. A neighbor could have seen him and told me, our son has a key and could have stopped by to borrow a tool which happens often, etc. etc. He fed off of the risk and wanted to show off to some pathetic, drug-addicted street whore. Really sick. I get that. I’ve worked through my feelings on that, We’ve worked through that issue. We have a security system now, and I’ve let the issue go. However, I don’t feel the same about my home as I once did. We are seniors, my husband is ill and has become disabled, I work at a demanding job that I love, which makes home maintenance challenging. Our son has his own home, a demanding job and a family. He does help, but that’s not fair to him. Basically, we pretty much have to hire someone to do everything. So, when I recently brought up thinking of selling the home, Husband balked, which surprised me. Every time I bring it up, he gets all nostalgic about how we’ve been here so long, how beautiful it is, how he will miss it, all our great memories, etc. etc. Well, he did that one time too many and I lost it. How could he think that way about our home and defile it like he did????? I became very angry. Angry about the past, but angry that he’s not supporting me now in this decision. So what could be an issue that any couple would fight about (i.e. selling the home to move to a condo) for us is colored deeply by his past actions.

        I know we have a hard time trusting them, but sometimes I wonder if they shouldn’t have a hard time trusting us? I mean, if I had betrayed someone like he betrayed me, I think I’d be watching my back around that person. LOL

        1. Oh, I know that “one time too many” scenario so well. Just the other day there was a horrible incident of child abuse on the news and Handsome started talking about how awful it was and how could someone do such a thing, and on and on. I just sat there and let the first few comments go by (after all, outrage at such things is the normal response one should have) and then he made some fairly righteous comment that was the “one too many” and I finally asked, rather forcefully, for him to change the subject. For a moment he didn’t get it, but then it clicked and I could see the light bulb come on. I didn’t have to say “But your main whore is a child abuser.” Or “But yet you willingly fawned over and pursued a child abuser.” Or “Imagine that you nearly gave up everything you have in this world… your family, your job, your lifestyle… for a child abuser.” I was angry too. Angry that when I hear such things on the news my initial reaction right now isn’t sympathy for the victim, but anger at my SA husband.

          And I understand how you feel about your home. Knowing that Handsome acted out in our both our primary home and our summer home has definitely tainted them for me. The fact that he has done little to nothing to remove or cleanse that taint is maddening. He thought it was overkill for me to feel as though we needed a security system (despite the criminal histories of his acting out partners and their more significant others, and not to mention their overall desperation). I have absolutely no idea how your husband or mine could feel nostalgic about their homes and yet defile them. I have asked and I just get “I wasn’t thinking about it.” I don’t believe that’s an answer.

          As to watching his back… well… I could write a whole post about that (maybe I will). If my husband managed to sleep the night of our DDay #1, he shouldn’t have. Not unless he slept with one eye open. 🙂

Please share if you've had a similar (or totally different) experience on your journey.