Multiple challenges, recovery, love. Seeking advice and stories.

It was hard to decide where to post because I am a partner of someone with a whole host of problems. I could write 10 pages. He is adopted and grew up thinking he was given up because one parent died (recently discovered that isn't true but it's too late, damage was done 30+ years ago), has ptsd, severe social anxiety, depression, and as a result of those has developed an internet/texting addiction. It was sexting but he has managed to keep the content more PG after being caught several times. The messages have continued however because it was never about sex, it's about his confidence and insecurity and the validation he gets from messaging these girls.

I also have anxiety which was severe and I was in treatment on medication and weekly to monthly counselling for 4 years. Because of this I can see what the cause of his actions is and I can understand his state. This has made me a pretty hard core enabler.

We have been together for many years. We own a house together though I make more than twice what he makes and so the house is in my name and he feels invaluable. He constantly calls it my house, not ours for example. He works an "unskilled" blue collar job that he doesn't feel is important and I make more than double what he makes, he grew up in a traditional stay at home mom household where his dad would sometimes work two jobs for the family so you can imagine how our situation makes him feel about himself.

I have caught him with the messages many times over the years and he says he wants to stop and he will stop etc but then I catch him again. Often I suspect or know that it is going on for months before bringing it up because I am tired, it's hard to keep dealing with this, and also a few years ago things were really tough and (as an enabler) I could see that he was just trying to feel better about himself. Recently our life has been good, our relationship has been good, my income has increased 30% in the last year. We live somewhere very expensive so we still can't afford proper vacations but we want for nothing else, for the first time. Life has been good.

But in Nov I caught him sending messages to someone and I confronted him fairly quickly this time because I was done, I just couldn't deal with it anymore. We agreed to phone checks and he seemed to understand that my trust was broken. I felt better though I didn't trust him, I did trust that we were on our way to finally healing from this problem.

Then this week when we went back to work after holiday breaks I saw that he was sending messages. Not just a few, a half dozen girls each day. And he was deleting them the moment he sent them so that I would not see them when I spot checked. I saw this because I logged into his accounts on my phone and kept them open and watched in real time as he sent a message and deleted it.

At that moment my trust was not broken it was gone. He was actively hiding them so phone checks were no longer a valid way to rebuild trust. Without trust there is no relationship. Yesterday I left him a note and did not come home after work. The note said I was watching and saw this. You obviously did not stop sending them at all. I can't be in a relationship with someone that lies to me and actively deceives me no matter how much I love them. I'm leaving for a few days to think. When I come back things either have to change or you need to leave. Please don't text me, only call if you are ready to talk.

So he texts me he knew I was watching. There is something wrong with him. He does want to stop. He's sorry. I ignore it. He calls. I send it to voicemail. He starts breaking down as I ignore him. I message "I'm not ready to talk". He continues to break down...this is your house, you shouldn't have to stay away, I'm bringing the car to your work so you can come home. I want him there, I don't want to come home, I need space right so I tell him I want him to stay there otherwise I don't know if he is showing up at some girl's house and he needs time to think too. So he stays. Sends me a few more messages about how he doesn't need to think, he's a piece of shit, etc.

Thing is he's said most of this before so at this point his words are no comfort for me. In the past I would think it was a breakthrough and he was ready to heal but this time...meh. I have been with an addict before, a drug addict, and I remember that these things he said, they were true, but the addiction was stronger and usually covered these kinds of thoughts over. So having these thoughts means nothing. I should also add I don't really think he has cheated physically but who knows, right? He's been lying to me so much for so many years there is no way for me to really know at this point. But I figured that would hit home and he would listen and he did, he went home.

One of the first messages I got from him was actually that he deleted his instagram account. This is significant not because it's where he was sending the majority of the messages but because in the last couple years he found a love for photography and he is really f'ing talented, and that account was his one outlet to the world that made him feel like he had a valuable skill, that he himself was valuable, worthwhile. I felt horrible when he told me that but I didn't respond like I normally would ("you didn't have to do that! oh no" etc). Instead it took everything in my power to simply say "that is a nice gesture but not the root of the problem."

That was last night. Today I am going home. I haven't really had much time to think and I hope that someone on this forum can give me a bit of guidance. He needs counselling and we, as a couple, need couple's therapy. He has his own shit to deal with but in our relationship I am maybe not equally at fault but I hold a pretty large share of the blame for our problems. There is so much love between us, we actually have this great relationship, but some things are simply broken. I have become a caretaker in a way, I do everything for him. The language I use is not right but I don't know how else to talk to him. I feel like that instagram example from last night was the first time I've said something that wasn't enabling. We've been together so long I don't remember how I would interact with other partners in the past. Not only that but I am incapable of just doing stuff -- anything. I think constantly about how it will affect him. Every decision I make it with him in mind and not with myself.

For his part he yells and lashes out verbally when he is feeling challenged at all. I feel this comes from his personal insecurities where being wrong equates to being a bad person so he has to either defend himself or create a hostile situation where instead of being upset about being wrong he can just be angry at the person and "F- them!" kind of thing.

So when I see him tonight I am going to tell him that my trust is gone completely and without trust there is no relationship. He needs to go to counselling on his own and we need to go together. From here I really need some help. These are the things I have thought we could do/say but I'm not sure:

- Going to counselling is ultimately his choice and if he chooses to yell about it and get angry and accuse me of whatever and not go that is the choice he is making and at that point he can leave because I'm not going to be his keeper and it's not my responsibility to make him want to go. He should want to go even if he is anxious about it because it means repairing our relationship and that should be something he wants to do
- I am afraid that we will go back to the same routines. I am afraid I will not want to rock the boat and the counselling will not happen. I know that will be the beginning of the end of our relationship. The only way I can think for the same routines to not happen again is if the relationship is not the same. And truthfully I feel like continuing as we have been will be a farce and I need to be strong and put some distance between us. Not a break but some emotional distance. For example we carpool to work and honestly I often hate it because he is in a bad mood or if he is anxious and I have had a long day and I just stare out the window relaxing after work he gets mad that I'm not talking. I think I should start taking the bus. Another thing I thought is that I will not tell him when to expect me home anymore when I am out and we will not have dinner together by default anymore, we will not be a slave to that schedule. If I want to stay at work until 9pm I will stay at work until 9, get home eat and collapse into bed without worry about how it affects him.

My thinking is that if we can have some space between us we can let counselling close that gap. This is hard for me because he gets very very very depressed when he is alone. I don't go away to see my family in nearby cities because when I do he breaks down and I get all kinds of angry or depressed messages. It's very traumatic for me. He has too much anxiety to come with me and so I haven't seen my family in years.

I would really value any suggestions you may have on how to create that separation and any other advice you can share. We will stay in the same bed, I've never sent him to the couch, we don't have that kind of relationship. And we love each other, it is the trust that is broken (and as a result the relationship), not the love and not the friendship.
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