The Emotional Rollercoaster & 10 Pillars of Emotional First Aid (Part 1 of 3)

Pircture of a first aid kit.
Emotional First Aid for Partners of Sex Addicts


Have you recently discovered your husband’s secret life of porn or sex addiction? Feeling stunned? Heart shattered into a million tiny pieces? Moving in and out of shock, anger, despair, fear? Are you in need of emotional first aid?

If you have gone through a recent D-Day — the day you discovered, your mate disclosed, or you put together the clues so it dawned on you that your spouse is struggling with a secret sex life — then you’re on the emotional rollercoaster of sexual addiction.

Although sex addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives for both men and women, the vast number of spouses who seek treatment for betrayal are women on the emotional rollercoaster of their husband’s sex addiction. The rollercoaster for partners of sex addicts is intense, exhausting, full of sharp turns and unexpected twists. It takes you from the depths of despair to white, hot rage, from agonizing confusion and unbearable shame to blessed numbness.

Your mind is probably on a rollercoaster of its own, plagued one minute by an obsessive-like need to figure it all out and an equally strong need to shut it all out the next. Uninvited thoughts, memories, or images may run through your head like a horrific slide show, often with no predictability of when the show is going to start or when it will end.

Your mind may be stuck on a replay of your D-Day trauma, or what you saw, heard or learned about your husband’s acting out. Worse yet, it may even be hijacked by your fears about what he has done. You may not have seen him in the act but you have seen thousands of sexualized movie scenes and television clips – and now your husband is in the starring role and it’s his face plastered on those unwanted images.

But what you are most likely haunted by are questions: What does this mean? Can he change? Is there hope? Why am I not enough? Now that I now, what do I do?

First of all, let me make this point very clear to you: you did not cause his addiction! You didn’t cause it. You can’t cure it, nor can you control it. Secondly, it won’t hurt this badly forever.

To some degree, the frequency, intensity, and duration of your rollercoaster is partly dependent on your husband’s response. If he steps up to the plate, owns what he’s done and takes concrete, consistent and committed steps toward recovery, then your ride will be easier. But you still won’t avoid the ride.

Unfortunately, you can’t forget the first point – you can’t control his addiction. You can’t control his recovery either. If you let the easing of your own rollercoaster to be completely dependent on what he does or doesn’t do, then you’re in for an extremely bumpy ride. However, if you step up to the plate yourself, recognize you are in need of some emotional first aid, and take responsibility for giving it to yourself, you’ll weather the ups and downs with more resilience and that ride will eventually smooth out.

See Part 2 for Partners of Sex Addicts: The Em Rollercoaster & 10 Pillars of Emotional First Aid

Dr. Janice Caudill is the founder and Clinical Director of McKinney Counseling & Recovery. MCR offers individual, couples, group therapy and multi-day intensives for partners of sex addicts and wounded hearts struggling with sex addiction, infidelity, love addiction or love avoidance, intimacy anorexia, or relational trauma in the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Richardson, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and surrounding areas.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, does not create a client-therapist relationship, and is not a substitute for care by a trained professional. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors, omissions, losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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1 thought on “The Emotional Rollercoaster & 10 Pillars of Emotional First Aid (Part 1 of 3)

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