I remember being in grade school gym class and when the teacher picked Captains, who then got to pick their team, everyone who wasn’t the classroom jock looked horrified. Nobody wants to be picked last, in fact, we don’t even want to be close to last because that means we are not good enough and everyone in the class will know. Growing up if a sibling got something the others didn’t, kids assume that means their parents love them more. Applying for a job and when the interview happens but the job offer doesn’t. All these things trigger the same feelings of ‘I am just not good enough to be chosen.’ When the wedding day happens and your person says ‘I Do.’, it is a public declaration that he chose you. FINALLY. We have our person that will always choose us. Unless there is a sexual addiction.

Sexual addictions hurt so bad because they just didn’t choose us.

The heart of a sexual betrayal cuts so deep, deeper than most wounds it seems but it isn’t even the sexual things that hurt the most. While we often end up focusing on the sex and think removing anything sexual outside the relationship will cure all ills, the truth is it isn’t even about the sex. It isn’t the hours he spent watching porn, it isn’t the sex he had with himself, It isn’t about the time he spent trolling disgusting websites looking to cheat or the girls he watched on cam, It isn’t the nights we spent lonely and starving for physical affection. It isn’t the time, money and attention he wasted on someone or something else. It isn’t even the sex he had with other women or men, it’s the fact that we were not chosen and were optional.

Really, what hurts the most is knowing just how optional we were to him. He didn’t choose us. 

Invisible.

Optional.

Replaceable.

Disposable.

 

Those words are really what is behind our tears, our venomous outbursts of anger, our walls around our hearts to prevent him from hurting us again. The sex part is usually irrelevant. Yes, sex is sacred, or it should be. Yes, knowing the details cuts to the bone and causes mind-altering thoughts and visions we cannot control that often drive us almost to the brink of insanity. The feelings behind that though, are the things that cuts deeper than anything imaginable. When the one person who is supposed to be your person, your other half, your partner; when that person makes you optional, the world and who you are in that world changes.

We all need to matter to someone. It is a survival instinct and sexual betrayals show us that we just don’t matter to the very person that we are supposed to matter the most to. Of course, the reality of addiction makes things more complicated than that but that is how it feels isn’t it? An infant needs it’s parents to love it enough to still feed it when it screams all night. Adults need someone to have our back and be standing by our side. Choosing us.

When your spouse sexually betrays you and doesn’t change, effectively repeatedly NOT choosing you, despite your obvious pain, righting that wrong becomes a mission for many of us. In our quest to right the wrong, to make ourselves visible to him, many of us protest like an infant being ignored. That survival instinct, displayed in a grown-up is often not pretty. The destructive ‘pick me’ dance begins. We turn into shells of ourselves and women we no longer recognize. We often fight so hard for someone we would never choose now, knowing what we know. Yet we self-destruct to get him to choose us. On the quest to becoming visible to him, many of us make ourselves invisible, to ourselves. We cease to exist in the journey to right the wrong. For many of us, all that matters is we find a way to make him see us and to pick us. That will fix this blinding pain, right?

Once we enter our own recovery and are there for awhile, we eventually realize just how lost we have become. The fight to make ourselves a priority shifts inward. Really at the end of the day, if we know our worth, we stop tolerating being invisible. We muster up the courage to quietly scream “NO! I am worth more.” and that stance changes things. We realize that we cannot force someone to make us a priority but we can make ourselves a priority. We realize we cannot force someone to see our value but we can see our own value. We can’t force someone to have us matter to them but we can matter to ourselves.I don’t think that can happen until we process quite a bit of the mountain of grief that comes with a sexual betrayal but we really can decide for ourselves, that we matter.

Even if we don’t matter to him, or don’t matter enough for him to stop the destructive behaviors.

The two greatest lessons I learned when I really got into my own recovery was that recovery doesn’t happen in a bubble, it takes a tribe and that I do not need anyone else to tell me my worth. Well alright, sometimes I need my tribe to remind me of my worth but my world didn’t end when my ex-husband didn’t choose me. In fact, I would dare say that is when it began because that is when I chose me. I still struggle with the feelings of rejection sometimes. I am well past wanting my ex-husband to choose me but those feelings are still pretty intense to this traumatized heart at times. When I do the ‘choose me’ dance now, it is different, it gets directed at myself and I am the only one I can control so I always win. I choose me. Everytime.

You are not invisible. You are not optional. You are not replaceable and you are not disposable.

He may be choosing porn, but you can choose you.

 

 

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