Dr. Skinner a previous week someone asked about intrusive imagery, wondering exactly what physically acting out looked like, how it occurred, what was the conversation, etc. You recommended a full therapeutic disclosure, but in my case, and probably most others, these are the details that will never be known. My husband had a year long affair 12 years ago. It was emotionally superficial, but fully sexual, which he described as unsatisfying and awkward, but providing the attention he craved. I strongly suspected they were involved, but he denied everything for 11 years. I asked repeatedly. I was devastated and terrified. D-Day was close to two years ago. We’ve both done a lot of work and he is very empathic and compassionate taking full responsibility and doing whatever I need to help me heal. He is essentially a new man, the best husband I could ever want, truly, and for that I’m deeply grateful. He has disclosed everything to his best ability, but some pieces of conversation are forgotten and the looks, smiles, giggles, non-verbal communication and things like that are impossible for him to recall or explain.
Yeah. It’s because he’s not going to be able to. All of those things, when you get that granular, those are things and experiences that may be too much for your mind and too much for him to recall. Because you’re going to assume that whatever he was doing there, he was in that transated fix of what we would call an addiction, which is a lot like a cocaine high. And when a person is in that, they say and do things because everything inside of them, the standards, their lines they’re gone. That’s what it takes to have an affair or to cheat, those are the things that are gone in that trance, in that fix. So wanting to go in and dig at those things for both of you may not be beneficial.
What occurred, all of those granular details I would say, if possible, I would say, you know what, that information, it’s not going to help me in my healing. He is where he needs to be. He is working, he has done these things. Those are the things I would try to focus on, because looking at the granular part of it, when they’re in that fix, it’s like asking an alcoholic, what did you do while you were drunk? A lot of inappropriate stuff.
Asking your questions, did you laugh? Did you do this? Did you kiss? All of those things. Because he’s working on recovery, he’s doing those things, please understand it, the more granular you get there, it’s overwhelming to your senses, because those are images and memories that are just too much detail, and yet you want them. But what will that do for you? It doesn’t solve the fact that it occurred if it did. And more likely than not, in that trance, those things that were said and done, is that how he feels today? Again, I know this is not easy, but I caution people of getting too granular because it does not help the healing and recovery process when you get to that much kind of detail.
What occurred was wrong. He’s working recovery, as you say, he’s being that person, appreciate that person who’s doing that work. Not the trance fixed him that was in addiction, because if we keep going back there, it’s like he’ll never leave that place. I would encourage you to see what he is doing and focus on that part of it. Those parts back there in that addicted trance won’t help.
What do you suggest to grapple with them since there’s no real way to know? Just what I said. There are certain things that your mind doesn’t need to know. It won’t help you heal. I know that may not be the answer you want, but realistically, too much information has been harmful for some of the clients that I’ve worked with because they have these images forever seared in their mind. You just don’t want those memories, they’re too painful. And it’s like seeing a person in the middle of a fix, a drug fix, and oh, that’s who they are. He’s much more than that, as humans are. And as we go towards recovery, we build this character, we build this person and try to leave that one behind. I hope that helps.