A Personal Update

It’s been about two years since I discovered everything. The devastation I initially felt has completely dissipated as life has gone on. Looking back, I can say that I already felt a lot better after three months had gone by, compared to the initial trauma. Nine months out, I was still worried that there might be more to find out — waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. One year out, my therapist told me I didn’t need to see her regularly anymore, because she felt I was in a comfortable place. Hearing her reassure me that I was handling things well and hadn’t internalized anything from his adultery made me feel strong.

Now, about two years after everything happened, I can admit that I rarely think about it anymore. The betrayal I once thought would haunt me for the rest of my life barely figures in my consciousness in the day-to-day. (My husband’s betrayal was small compared to what many partners face, and so the timeline for your recovery into peace of mind may take longer than mine has, and there’s absolutely no shame in that.) I was so worried about my kids going through a divorce. I was ashamed to tell family and friends what had happened. Today, I’m confident that my husband actually is the person I thought he was when I married him. He had serious, serious issues that should have been dealt with decades ago; he lied to me and absolutely, I am angry about that; he hurt me more than any person ever has. I’m not “over it” in the sense that it doesn’t matter anymore. But it’s true what they say — time heals all.

My husband, on the other hand, thinks about what he did every day. He still fights not to drown in unproductive shame, which only contributes to the self-loathing that caused him to act out in the first place. If he “acts out” again, I’ll deal with it when it happens. It doesn’t scare me like it used to, because no matter what, my life will go on and I’ll be happy. But it terrifies him. He is frequently triggered by a name, a date, a place — to remember what he did and feel crushing guilt. The idea of even masturbating again fills him with dread.

I recently raised my eyebrows at him for mentioning to a cashier that he was in a career that is considered prestigious. Privately I asked him whether he felt he needed to mention that to get an ego-boost, since he was having a bad day. He promptly misunderstood me. The cashier had been a young woman, so he protested repeatedly that he hadn’t meant to be flirtatious, which was not a concern of mine. (We did talk about whether he would have had the same interaction if it had been an older woman or a man, and he said he wasn’t sure.) I feel this incident shows how much sex addiction is always on his mind, even though it’s not something I worry about or think much about.

We are still working on a healthy relationship. We need to share more, and more consistently, with each other about how we’re feeling. I get frustrated with him when he holds things in, and he still feels scared to talk to me because of how I may react. He has the same insecurities he had before, but I see improvement every week in his openness and his confidence. He continues to go to therapy twice a week, but currently isn’t attending 12-step meetings, and I respect his preference not to, as they aren’t research-based and seem fixated on symptoms instead of root causes.

We are back to living like a married couple. We sleep in the same bed. We have sex when we want to and can get some privacy — probably about as frequently as the average couple with young children — once or twice a week. In the first several months after discovery, I worried that I would think about his lewd phone calls, the explicit sexting conversations, while trying to have sex with him. But that has never once happened. I am glad we waited as long as we did — about a year and a half — before resuming marriage, because I think waiting helped ensure I was comfortable and in a healthy frame of mind.

Now I know that for someone who is going through the initial trauma of finding out your partner is a sex addict, reading this would be so much more reassuring if I was saying: “It’s been 50 years since I found out my husband was a sex addict, and he was never unfaithful again for the rest of his life. I buried him yesterday and he never once acted out again or caused me pain. The story is over, and I can say with certainty that after that low-point, everything was a happy love story.”

I remember wanting to know if it was even possible for a person to be “cured” of sex addiction for the rest of their life. I scoured the internet and found depressing pseudo-statistics about relapse. I devoured blogs written by people whose sex-addict-partners were staying healthy, and panicked when I realized that after a period of time, the blog was never updated — what could that mean?

I understand how badly you may want to know that your partner is never going to do this again, and I wish I could tell you he or she won’t. I can’t, of course, but I can tell you that there is every rational reason to hope that he or she won’t. It is possible to get healthy. It is possible to stay healthy. If the sex addict wants to change, he can. She can. In the last two decades, understanding of sex addiction has advanced and treatment plans are more on-the-money. There’s more awareness and more resources available.

Two years isn’t that long, and I have no way of knowing what could happen in the future. But what I see right now is that the man I’m living with is a man who no longer wants to “act out” in any way, and who is working hard to take care of his mental health and be a good husband and dad. And so far, he’s succeeding. The best friend who I thought was as good as dead is still here with me.

Sociopath or Addict?

When I first caught my husband in his second round of infidelity in the course of our six year marriage, I was convinced he was a sociopath. It wasn’t merely that he was selfish, or that he didn’t love me. I kept asking myself, What kind of person cheats repeatedly on a spouse while simultaneously acting “in love” and professing to be happy in the marriage?

You see, while some sex addicts and their partners have relationships that feel empty and distant, that’s not always the case. In other cases, like mine, the partners might spend time cuddling, having quality conversations, making love, laughing together — seemingly connecting.

It was the idea that all of this interaction had been deception on his part — a long, calculated act — that made me think he was a conscience-less sociopath of some kind. Sociopathy and addiction share common traits, or so it seems to me.

If you’re worried that your partner is a sociopath and waiting around for “recovery” to happen is a waste of your time, which is a totally legitimate possibility, two questions may help you see things clearly:

One: is your partner actually trying to change? After being caught, did he seek help? Did she respond to treatment?

Two: is your partner this self-centered in general?

As always, Dr. Linda Hatch is far more eloquent on this subject: “Why Sex Addicts Seem Sociopathic.”

First steps after discovering possible sex addiction in a partner

It feels like your whole life is ending, your head is spinning, and your heart is broken. You are so badly shaken that your body may even have gone into a state of shock, your temperature dropping until you shiver no matter how many layers you wear. Someone you trusted has been lying to you about everything, and it feels like the man or woman you loved has died and been replaced by a monster.

If you suspect (or are certain) that your partner is a sex addict, this is what I think you should do. Keep in mind, I’m no expert. Just a person who went through something similar to what you’re facing right now.

First, tell someone. Find someone to confide in, in real life. Choose a person who can be trusted to keep a secret, respect your choices, and who you would not mind knowing about your partner’s sex addiction, whether you stay together or decide to separate. (This probably means that your mother and father need to be off the list.) If you don’t have a close friend or family member you can comfortably share this burden with, get an appointment right away with a therapist. Let them know it’s urgent.

See a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist who treats partners of addicts and follows the trauma model, if possible. If you cannot see a CSAT yourself, try to find a therapist who has experience treating trauma victims.

If your partner is willing, have him get into treatment with a CSAT right away. 12-step groups may be helpful, but a CSAT is crucial for your partner if he is to succeed in freeing himself from this addiction, and seeing any other therapist can be more harm than help. Find one here.

Get STD testing. It doesn’t matter what you know he has done or what he says he has done, even if he swears there was no physical sexual contact. Get tested anyway. You can get medical help or you can get peace of mind or you can end up with both, but you have to find out whether he has risked your health and life.

Learn about sex addiction. I recommend starting with this book — Living With a Sex Addict: The Basics from Crisis to RecoveryThe more I learned about sex addiction, the more I healed. Hopefully you’ll feel the same way.

Be hopeful. Don’t love the addict? Can’t wait to get away? You have a happy life ahead of you. This doesn’t define you.  You do love the addict? You want him to be the person you thought he was? Well, he’s definitely more broken than you knew, but chances are good that he’s broken and not, well, evil. Sex addiction and sociopathy are by no means mutually exclusive, but being a sex addict does not automatically make him a sociopath. Also, recovery is definitely possible. There is a lot of misinformation about recidivism. Addiction is an issue of science, not ethics, and the science of addiction is continually improving. A full recovery is absolutely possible.

Put off permanent decisions. Wait six months to a year before you finalize a divorce, but do talk to an attorney about your options if that’s what you want. Once you tell someone else, you can never take it back, so be careful and consult with a therapist about telling your children and other people who love the addict, no matter how angry you are.

Let yourself grieve. You have suffered a tremendous loss, like a death, yet worse in some ways, because the happy memories you would have treasured if you lost your partner have all been corrupted by his lies and betrayal. Be patient with yourself. You’re allowed to be angry, scared, and hurt. You’re allowed to have days where you feel like it’s not a big deal, and days where you don’t want to get out of bed. You are not crazy, no matter what you’re feeling.

Keep enjoying life. I understand that this is not going to be possible in the beginning, and maybe not for the first several months. You have been dealt cards that no one should ever have to cope with. But do not withdraw from your commitments, your family, your friends. Try to stay as connected as possible with others, and remember that your relationship with your partner, while an extremely important aspect of your life, was only one aspect. He does not define you.

Please write to me if you need someone to talk to.

Sex addiction is rooted in family dysfunction

When my husband and I first started dating, I didn’t notice anything amiss about his parents and sisters, or his relationship with them. He told me they were a very close family. Within months, I discovered that appearances can be deceiving.

From the outside, it might appear strange that my husband ended up a sex addict. He was never sexually abused. His parents would not be considered physically or verbally abusive in a court of law.

But growing up in his family, my husband was forced to emotionally parent his own mother. For example, she frequently ran sobbing from a room, because an opinion expressed by one of her children had hurt her feelings. My mother-in-law is a narcissist, and everything was always about her and her feelings, which were “hurt” quite often, requiring her children to rush to her comfort and protection. Guilt-trips were (are) her primary tool in any relationship.

My husband’s father is a tense person, easily irritated. He started spanking his kids when they were as young as one year old, babies just budding into toddlers. He yelled frequently, lashing out if his kids were too noisy while he tried to drive the car or watch television, the latter being his primary activity while at home.

My husband’s sisters tattled often, and as the only boy and the oldest child, my husband was blamed whenever they were upset. The sisters continued this behavior into adulthood, calling mommy whenever brother was not doing as they thought he should.

And of course, my husband was also bullied in middle school.

This all sounds less than ideal, but you’re probably wondering: Is this really enough to cause someone to grow up to become a sex addict?

Yes, it is enough to cause someone to become a sex addict. But no one “grows up to become” a sex addict. Sex addiction is already firmly rooted long before adulthood. Usually, sex addiction has already begun as the child transitions through puberty and discovers that the new sensations of arousal are a respite from personal unhappiness. Arousal and orgasm are pleasurable. While any adolescent may experiment with his or her body and discover sexual pleasure, for some children and teens, the pleasure of sexual activity — whether with self or others, or both — is the only safe, or comforting, or pleasant part of their lives — or perhaps, the only part of their lives where they feel free to do what they want, instead of having their choices and thoughts dictated for them by an overbearing parent.

Neural pathways forge in the brain at the young age of eleven or twelve, in most cases, as the brain determines that this, this sexual pleasure, is reliable and comforting. Nurturing, even. Life might suck. Maybe no one in the family has cared for this child as he or she deserved. But, the sex addict’s developing brain decides, “sex will always be there for me, to make me feel better.”

Experts have written far more eloquently about the causes of sex addiction than I can. I would like to point you in the direction of some excellent articles.

Linda Hatch, a renowned sex addiction therapist, wrote “The Myth of the ‘Normal Childhood:’ Why are you a Sex Addict?”  Dr. Hatch discusses relational trauma, disengaged family systems, narcissism, enmeshment, role reversal, and emotional dysregulation in parents.

“The bottom line is that childhood trauma of one sort or another is evident in the lives of most sex addicts if we look carefully enough.  Often the addict needs to cut through the fog of childhood and look at their early experiences with new eyes.  Re-interpreting the formative events becomes the key to understanding their power.”

— Dr. Linda Hatch

In her article, “More Underpinnings of Sex Addiction,” licensed clinical social worker Dorothy Hayden asserts that a dysfunctional family or traumatizing experiences with one’s peers can cause sex addiction. In my husband’s childhood, of course, both were present.

 

“…they may use sexual behaviors to achieve a sense of adequacy, competence, safety and power. Consequently, they feel an (illusory) sense of admiration and recognition that was missing from his childhood.”            — Dorothy Hayden

In another article, “Sex Addiction as an Intimacy Disorder,” Dorothy Hayden again goes into detail to explain why a person might become addicted to sex.

“If the child’s need for attention, soothing, stimulation, affection, touch, discipline, validation, and so on goes unmet, or is met with feedback that is punishing, invalidating or rejecting, the consequences are woven into the structure of the developing personality. Such children may turn into themselves and disconnect from others, regulating their emotions through the use of substances or process addiction, like sex.” — Dorothy Hayden

You can find all of Dorothy Hayden’s articles here for further reading.

Our Christian pastor gave sexist, misogynistic advice on sex addiction and infidelity that still has me fuming mad

My first step after I caught my husband sexting with a stranger was to confide in some friends, and I’m so glad I did.

Not only did they enlighten me about sex addiction — I had never heard of it before — but they also gave me other advice. Therapy with professionals was already on my must-do list, but these friends also suggested that husband and I should meet with our pastor as soon as possible.

I figured more helpers couldn’t hurt, so I scheduled the appointment right away. It was a horrible experience, and this week I am putting a letter in the mail to our pastor’s supervisor.

During our meeting with him, the pastor rambled about male sexual needs, told us that “all men masturbate,” that men need to orgasm approximately every 72-hours (yes, that infamous and completely outdated myth), and actually told me that my husband was unfaithful to me because I did not have sex with him often enough.

“Men need sex. Women don’t need sex,” pastor said.

The pastor repeatedly referenced Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus —  a pop psychology book from the 1990s, which I certainly don’t think qualifies as an acceptable pastoral guidebook.

It feels like you’re in the twilight zone when your unfaithful, barely-begun-treatment, sex addict husband has to explain to your Christian pastor that this is a load of nonsense.

My sex addict husband told the pastor that he was wrong; that I actually have a higher sex drive than he does and that we had sex plenty, but that this is irrelevant because sex addiction has nothing to do with sex drive; and that he — like other sex addicts — acted out sexually because he wanted to escape depression and self-hatred, and regulate his moods. He explained to the pastor that it wasn’t arousal or libido that would lead to sexual acting out. It was the other-way-round: negative emotional states would cause him to seek out arousal in order to avoid the negative emotional states.

I won’t be turning to this pastor for help, ever again. His victim-blaming and condoning of sexual infidelities could be so harmful to any couple that may come to him in the future for sex addiction or any type of infidelity, that I feel I have to let his supervisor know about this. I choose to forgive him, but I need to do something about this before another woman is hurt. I feel sick every time I see this pastor and have begun attending services on Sundays elsewhere so that I can spend my time at church thinking about God, instead of thinking about how hurtful this man’s words were. (We belong to a large denomination, so it’s easy for us to switch to a location in another town.)

So much harm can come from this type of misogynistic thinking, which is also quite insulting to men, of course, implying that they have no control over themselves while also insisting that women are to blame for men’s every sexual misdeed.

What if I didn’t know better? What if I was inclined to blame myself anyway, and this confirmed guilt and made me feel it was all my fault? What if my husband was emotionally abusing me by placing all the blame on me, and this pastor aided him in doing so? What if I did not have a clear idea of healthy human sexuality, and did not know my value as a person? What if I did not know that I am never a sex object for anyone’s use, including use by a spouse?

Sadly, I am certain that my experience is not an anomaly. I have seen enough so-called “Christian” advice columns and opinions to know that there is a prevailing belief that it is somehow divinely ordained that women exist to fill the sexual needs of men and that a holy marriage is one in which the wife is some sort of domestic servant and sex slave, never permitted to say no and obligated to appeal to the husband at all times in a frantic competition with the lurking dangers to the man, whose male sex drive is supposedly ever-ready to strip him of free will, force him to break his vows, violate his own integrity, and treat other human beings as objects.

I have heard horror stories of counselors, even professional, secular ones, advising women to have sex with their cheating partners more often in an attempt to control the situation.

If you were raised in an atmosphere that embraced this toxicity or a version of it, or if you have been confronted with this as a hurting adult, please, please know that you are a person in your own right. You don’t exist to be used by or to please any other human being. Your needs matter. You were right to say no when you wanted to say no, and to say yes when you wanted to say yes. And there is nothing you could have done differently that would have prevented your partner from being a sex addict. He was a sex addict long before you knew him, regardless of when his addiction escalated. This is not about you. This is not your fault. It’s not even about sex.

Have you had a bad experience with a pastor or other authority figure? If so, did you address it?

Sex addiction disclosure was a positive experience with no surprises

Last night was my husband’s therapeutic sex addiction disclosure. Honestly, it feels like no big deal. I think there are enough horror stories on the internet and from the other people in our support groups about shock and grief, sitting in a therapist’s office finding out that we’ve been exposed to more STDs than we ever thought possible. So I’m sharing this in case there’s someone reading this who has been told as I was, that there’s always more to the story. It doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe your partner’s disclosure, too, can be no big deal.

If the disclosure process was painful for you and you think it might trigger waves of resentment and anger toward your partner to read this, feel free to skip this post, and please know that you have my deepest sympathy.

Brace yourself, friends told me, when I caught my husband sexting with a stranger seven months ago. There’s always more.

So a few days after “D-Day,” I gave my husband an ultimatum. “I know there’s more, and I understand that you’re scared to tell me what it is. But I would rather find out anything than be lied to anymore. I can’t promise I’m going to stay with you or try to save our relationship in any case. But I can promise you that if you continue to lie to me about anything, it’s over. And the truth will eventually come out. Your best bet is to start being honest.”

Of course, my husband was a sex addict. So his response to me was a lie. “I swear, there’s nothing else!”

Bull.

“Don’t answer me right now! I know you’re lying to me,” I told him. “Think very carefully about this. You have two weeks. When you’re ready to be honest, let me know. As long as you make the decision to tell me the truth by the Saturday after next, I’ll listen calmly and keep an open mind. But if I find out there was more after that date, it’s over.”

That Saturday arrived, and when he came home from his second Sexaholics Anonymous meeting, he asked me to sit down. I felt extremely anxious and my hands and knees were shaking, but I just breathed deeply and didn’t say anything, as he told me various things he had done.

From age eleven to the present day: Masturbation, sexting, flirting, phone sex. “Soft porn” from Google images. Calling a prostitute once shortly after college, but cancelling. Going to a strip club once in college, but deciding not to go in. That was it. No in-person, physical sexual acting out that would carry the risk of disease or be an even higher layer of betrayal and infidelity, except for sex one time with a then-girlfriend, years before he met me. Most of his acting out was fantasy-based and took place alone or over the internet. The worst of it, to my mind, were the things he has done while married to me (flirting in a non-sexual way with a woman by facebook messenger; sexting and having phone sex with two women, also over the internet).

And he told me the exact same catalog of offenses last night at the formal therapeutic disclosure. His therapist believes he is being honest.

I’m not minimizing the pain of what he has done, and my reaction will always be anger and disgust that he used other human being as sex objects. But in the greater scheme of things, I guess it could have been worse.

So last night, I met his Certified Sex Addiction Therapist for the first time, and after checking that I was ready to listen, my husband pulled out a piece of paper and read the list above with dates and time periods. It took about two minutes.

I didn’t have any questions really, as I’ve had seven months to process everything already. I’ve asked innumerable questions, usually a few times over. We’ve had so, so many conversations about why he acted out, where all of this came from, and how it makes me feel.

For me, the things he’s done ceased to eat at my peace months ago, as soon as I understood the “why” of it all.

The rest of the forty-five minute session, we talked about the outlook for recovery, how to make sure the cycle doesn’t repeat with our children, how toxic his family of origin is and how they caused his mental health problems, what my husband needs to change to become trustworthy, and steps toward healing our relationship.

It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The therapist said that especially since my husband hasn’t had trouble maintaining sobriety for the past seven months, he doesn’t anticipate that he will ever act out sexually again. Maybe he says that to everybody, but it was encouraging to hear.

The therapist said that if he continues in therapy and recovery programs, my husband will likely be free of the underlying mental illnesses (depression, self-hatred, suicidal ideation, anxiety) and can be considered fully recovered by about the five-year mark. Again, very encouraging to hear.

I’m left feeling hopeful. Life goes on as usual today. All in all, the disclosure feels like no big deal. I have a therapy appointment for myself tomorrow, but I don’t even expect to talk too much about this, as other things going on in my life right now are on my mind more.

My husband still has a very, very long way to go in becoming healthy. He needs to develop integrity, practice self-care, continue to become assertive, exercise empathy and so on. But as I started to feel a few months ago (not sure when exactly), a sex addiction diagnosis really isn’t the end of the world.

 

Not Really Married

I refer to my husband as my husband on this blog because we are legally married and because I don’t want to use his real name, as this blog must remain anonymous.

But my husband is not really my husband.

wedding dress

You see, in order to marry a person, you need to be able to give informed consent. If that person is deliberately concealing something about himself or herself — perhaps because he or she knows you would not want to marry him or her if you knew  — then no matter how sincere you were when you made your vows, or how in love you felt, you are not really married. Because you did not truly know who you were marrying.

Or, suppose you had the intention of marrying someone who possessed a certain integral quality, and only found out later that all along, your partner actually did not possess that quality. Then you would not be married, because when you made your vows, you intended to promise marriage to a person who was secretly unlike the person actually standing before you.

And of course, if your partner said the words to promise exclusive commitment and lifelong fidelity but either did not really mean it at the time or was not capable of keeping that promise because for some reason, he or she was incapable of fidelity — then those vows would also be null and void.

In my case, my husband did not realize at the time we married that he had an addiction. So he was not deliberately concealing that from me, but he did conceal details of his sexual history and did lie to hide the fact that he masturbated compulsively. He claimed not to have engaged in masturbation for the past several years, whereas in reality, he masturbated all throughout our engagement.

I definitely intended to marry someone who was both honest and sexually “sober;” a non-addict. Had I known the truth about the man I was marrying, I would not have married him. At the very least, I would have insisted on therapy and treatment prior to marrying, which would definitely have involved postponing the wedding, if not outright canceling.

And my husband, although he says he truly intended never to be sexual with anyone besides me ever again, was actually incapable of fidelity at the time he made his vows, because he was a sex addict who was not in treatment. And sex addiction cannot be overcome without professional help.

If I decide to divorce and I apply for an annulment in my church, I will almost definitely be granted one. An annulment means that my marriage does not exist, and never existed. All these years, both my husband and I thought we were married, but I am certain that we were not.

My husband has now been in treatment for about seven months, without a single relapse, according to him, his sponsor, and his CSAT.

His therapist says he does not need to abstain from sex with me. But we have not and will not be having sex anytime soon.

In the beginning, my friends cautioned me to be careful “before you’re intimate again,” and my reaction was: “Are you kidding me? I will definitely get STD testing, but don’t worry — I’m never touching him again!”

As time has gone on and I’ve learned about addiction, about sex addiction, and about who he is as a person, it’s been a tremendous relief to realize that he is not what I originally thought — a bad person, a sociopath, my enemy.

He’s just a broken person addicted to the only means of self-medicating he could find as a young, abused, neglected preteen child.

Dr. Patrick Carnes would no doubt accuse me of “withholding sex” to punish him in an attempt to regain power and control the situation or to bolster my flailing sense of self-worth or some other nonsense. Because that is, definitely, nonsense.

I love my husband. I miss sex with him. But I do not trust him. And one of my personal boundaries is that I only have sex with people I trust.

Actually, I only have sex with the one person I trust and am married to. And there is no such person in my life right now.

That person disappeared as the illusion of normalcy evaporated in a shocking burst seven months ago, the moment I saw a stranger’s name and picture attached to a sexually explicit message arrive in my husband’s cell phone.

My husband has never blamed me, never blamed circumstances, never sought to excuse his behavior, and never stopped apologizing and trying to empathize with my grief and stress. From the moment I told him his behavior and the ways he described his state of mind sounded like something called sex addiction, he’s embraced treatment. So far, I have every reason to believe that he will someday make a full recovery.

I am no longer just counting the months until it is prudent to seek a divorce. But until I can trust him, we’ll continue to live together only as friends and co-parents.

I know that in order to have a valid marriage, all we need to do is make our promises to each other and have sex again now that I know who he really is.

But in order to trust him again, I feel I need two things:

First, I need some kind of proof that he is now telling me the full truth. I still wonder if I’ve learned everything. Are there more behaviors, or more instances of the same behaviors, that I don’t know about yet? While I do get the “gut feeling” that he is telling the truth now, a therapeutic disclosure (coming up in a couple of weeks) and a polygraph test will offer the closest thing to proof of this that has yet been invented.

Secondly, once I know he has been and is being truthful, I’ll need to see him growing in self-control and integrity. And that is going to take time, consistency, and continued openness and vulnerability.

I have a right to feel safe in my primary relationship, this relationship with my supposed husband and the father of my children. A relationship of lies and repeated infidelity is an emotionally abusive relationship. Even if I did not believe my marriage was invalid, I have the right to a separation or a divorce. I am not obligated to stay with this man and try to “fix things.”

And neither are you. No religion or legal system has the right to tell you that you have no choice but to stay. Least of all does this addict to whom you are attached have any right to tell you not to leave. Please don’t let anybody (including Dr. Carnes) convince you that staying is necessarily the “right” thing to do if you don’t want to.