Trauma Symptoms and You



When I found out about my then husband’s sex addiction, it wasn’t because I was looking for it.  I found out when the police came knocking on my door and told me he had been arrested at the airport as he was heading back from a business trip.  That started my journey into a very dark time of trauma, flashbacks, deep grief and loss.  

Just like you, I lost my own sense of self-worth, identity and grounding.  We lost so much that year.  In fact it was about 3-4 years after  that experience that I connected to Marsha Means.  She had heard about my journey through a dear friend of mine. Marsha called me and asked me to share my story with her.  I did with great anxiety and pain.  For those of you that have talked to Marsha, you know her tenderness to our pain.

I shared the highlights of my story, and then she shared with me something that has profoundly changed my life.  She said, “Katherine, you’ve experienced such horrible trauma, I am so sorry.”  She said much more, but hearing words like “trauma” and “Post Traumatic Stress” was such a breath of fresh air.  I felt like someone had just spoken truth into my life.  Up to that point, I was labeled co-addict and codependent from pastors and others.  At that moment, talking to this kind woman, I wept on the phone with her.  I knew at that moment I was talking to someone who truly understood and cared what I was going through.  

Marsha was literally in the midst of writing her book, Your Sexually Addicted Spouse, with Barb Steffens.  She then asked if she could share some of my story in her book.  What a privilege to see this book come into fruition during a time that we wives were labeled something that was not accurate.  This book changed my life because now I understood what I was dealing with.  I’ve used this book since to help other women understand what they are going through is normal.  Painful yes, but normal for what they are experiencing.

I want to share a bit from this book that has touched so many lives of spouses of sex addicts. 

We have the great honour at Journey to Healing and Joy (A Circle of Joy) to hear stories of so many partners of sex addicts as they describe their pain upon discovering their spouses’ addiction.  I will be honest; it can hurt to hear these stories.  As the book states, we could fill thousands of pages with partners’ words alone but we share only a few here.  Did you experience these when you found out about your spouse’s sexual behaviours? Or are you experiencing them right now?

  • It left me shell-shocked.
  • I threw up, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and cried constantly.  I felt horror, anger, rage, terror, fury at God.
  • I loved my husband and I wanted his comfort, yet he was the source of my searing pain.
  • I frequently had disturbing dreams and nightmares.
  • I couldn’t read; nothing made sense.  I totally lost my ability to concentrate.  I got lost a lot.
  • My initial reaction was to shake uncontrollably.  I’ve had this reaction before to someone’s death.  It was a death.
  • It’s hanging upside down, trying to right myself.  Its’ being stabbed in the back and trying to find solid ground under the slippery pool of my own blood...most of the time it’s lying in a shallow grave as a part of me dies.
  • It was like someone ransacking my house and I was left with all the pieces.
  • I’m cycling through emotions like crazy.  This is worse than when my mother was killed in a car accident.
  • I never felt so betrayed in my life.
  • It was devastating; traumatic.

Do you remember the time(s) whenyou heard your spouse’s disclosure? Or perhaps it was yet another discovery of his sexual behavior?  Can you identify with feeling assaulted by the information and/or images that you saw?  These feelings can be described as life-changing, world-shattering events in our lives.  Which of these feelings or experiences do you identify with?  Can you add to this list?

The symptoms experienced following emotionally traumatic events may vary from person to person but here are some that you may recognize in your own life:

  • Hyperarousal                
  • Helplessness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Immobility
  • Reliving the event
  • Hypervigilance
  • Anxiety 
  • Nightmares
  • Intrusive images
  • Panic attacks 
  • Oversensitivity
  • Dissociation
  • Health problems
  • Withdrawing
  • Phobias
  • Depression
  • Inability to eat
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Avoidance
  • Flashbacks
  • Restlessness
  • Overeating
  • Immune-endocrine system problems
  • Mood swings
  • Denial
  • Confusion
  • Rage 

 Which of these symptoms have you experienced as you’ve struggled to deal with your partner’s sex addiction?

These symptoms are serious.  We need support and helpful resources in order to heal and avoid long-term chronic trauma symptoms.  Without it, trauma can weave its way throughout your life and create patterns that can have crippling effects.

We at Journey to Healing and Joy understand this.  This is why we exist.  To help you move through the symptoms of trauma to find a healthier you in a community of support..  If you've struggled to do life because of this trauma, please reach out and ask for help.  Come and visit us and fill out our assessment and a coach will contact you to set up a time to talk for free. Click here:

We provide private, one-on-one coaching with trained, experienced coaches who have walked through their own personal hell because of their partner's sex addiction.  Our trained team  also offers small, safe telephone or Skype support groups with a few other women. In this sisterhood you can begin your own healing journey. Please join us and start your journey to healing and joy.

With your healing heart in mind.

Coach Katherine
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Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Marsha Means and Barb Steffens pgs 7, 18-19