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Thread: Addiction or Mental Illness?

  1. #1

    Addiction or Mental Illness?

    This post has the potential to be extremely long, so I'm going to give the short and dirty and if you'd like more details or more information please let me know and I can elaborate more on any one part. I've labeled each section as [Background] and [Main Info] so you can skip whatever parts you want. I know it's still long. I'm sorry.

    [Background] I grew up very, very shy. I had 2-3 very close friends and I almost exclusively hung out with them, and them only all the way through middle school. At school and around peers I was friendly, people were generally friendly to me, I wasn't bullied, I wasn't picked on, I wasn't necessarily a "loser" kid but I was certainly not the popular jock type. To sum it up I was simply invisible to everyone around me and I was so shy anyway that it suited me just fine. In middle school my peers all started to mature more, hit puberty, and started to find themselves. I started to find myself longing for more attention and friendship as I watched all the other boys in school start to mingle with girls, go to parties, and hang out on weekends. The innocent days of elementary when everyone just went home after school were gone and it made me start to stand out as someone with nowhere to go. Worst yet my 2-3 closest friends in the world found their popularity, and girls, and by the middle of high school I had almost nobody to hang out with anymore. I went through high school as the kid with zero fashion sense, zero charisma, and zero social skills. I did the best I could to get through it but I was nothing more than that random quiet kid nobody really knew and I found myself increasingly alone outside of a few close-ish friends.

    [Background] One night in December 2005, my senior year of high school, I was at one of those friends' house and two girls came over. One girl was one of my classmates, someone I'd never spoken to before in our 12 years of going to school together and one was a younger girl who lived directly across the street from my friend. Since I was so painfully shy I ignored the girls which gave the others in the room the idea to dare the younger girl to come sit in my lap. She did and I struggled through the night trying to look and sound cool to this beautiful girl. We exchanged numbers and that night we talked from 9pm until the sun came up the next morning. I was beside myself because she was COMPLETELY out of my league. She was tall, skinny, absolutely stunning by every measure. Girls that looked like her simply didn't talk to guys like me, EVER. She was far and away hotter and sexier than any girl I'd ever talked to and on top of that her personality was flawless. She didn't see me as a quiet awkward guy. Hell, she actually SAW me, she actually NOTICED me, and she talked to me like I was the prom king and actually listened to what I had to say. Two weeks later we began dating in January 2006, making her my first girlfriend I ever had at age 18. It was, and still is, the most euphoric time of my life.

    [Background] We continued dating through my last year of high school and after I left for college (she was 2 years behind me). In college I bloomed. I shed my shy personality, I started dressing well, I hit the gym and gained 35 pounds and hit campus with my chest puffed out. I became an elected executive member of a fraternity and quickly became the life of the party. I developed a persona, almost a character, of an all-out Animal House style alpha dog that exceeded anything I ever thought possible. Parties didn't start until I entered the room and when I did my reputation preceded me. I had f**king made it. I was the king I longed to be in grade school. I even ran into our star quarterback and prom king at a party on spring break...this time I was the one blowing him off because he couldn't interest me in any way --- okay...I know this sounds big-headed and arrogant as hell, but it's simply the truth. I became SOMEBODY and people loved me. I found myself denying girls almost every night asking me to go back to their dorms. Why deny them? I was still dating my high school girlfriend and I wouldn't dare to cheat, no matter what. No matter how much I'd dreamed of this life for my entire life.

    [Background] My girlfriend attended a different college 30 minutes away and was greeted as any gorgeous girl is in college - with the attention of every guy on campus. I continued to party hard 6 nights a week and she began doing the same. We talked less and less but never let the relationship die. Slowly I began noticing things online - social media posts from guys that were a little too friendly, pictures from parties that seemed a little too intimate, and she began missing more and more of my calls at night. One night in December 2009, I opened my laptop which automatically logged me into her Facebook page. Coincidently she was logged into her page as well from her own house and she was engaged in a private chat with one of her college classmates. She had no idea I was monitoring the chat (by accident).

    Him - "have you told Bryan about what happened between us?"
    Her - "god no...he hasn't even asked luckily"
    Him - "what about with Jake and Danny?"
    Her - "no...and I never will"
    Him - "good idea. just don't leave my boxers around your room when he visits"

    [Background] To put it lightly it was the single most devastating, and possibly life changing moment in my life. I'd never felt emotional pain that severe, I instantly started shivering cold (what I do when I'm scared or hurt), I couldn't breath, and I sat on the floor of my room and cried harder than I ever had for hours. Just typing this memory has me in a fog. I simply cannot describe that pain. The one thing I'd longed for my entire life - acceptance and assurance I was normal, wanted, noticed, and desired exploded in my face. The largest hurdle I'd ever cleared in my life - to stop being invisible and overshadowed by smooth-talking popular jocks was now being revealed to me as a hurdle I'd only cleared in my mind. I was still invisible. Replaceable. Forgettable. 18 years of growing up shy, scared, and desperate for attention came flooding back 10 fold. I cried in my room in a depression I'd never known before. The darkness of my own mind was overwhelming.

    [Main Info] Turns out while I was denying myself the guilty pleasured I'd long desired growing up she was fulfilling every fantasy, every desire, and every need/want with guys I though I finally had a leg up on. I thought I had something special, exclusive, and something everyone wanted but couldn't have because I had it instead. Turns out I didn't have sh*t. Turns out everyone had a piece of what I thought was so exclusive and special to me. I felt cheated, robbed, and played. As a college aged guy coming into the prime of my sexual prowess I had cut myself off for her, further denying myself the sex, love, and attention I'd been SO desperate for my whole life. It's shallow to say now, but I denied myself a different sex partner every night for her and she didn't think twice to cheat on me.

    [Main Info] Over the following years we were on again/off again. I loved her with all my heart still but the relationship never felt the same. She blamed her insecurities, feelings of abandonment (her dad left her when she was a kid and never called again), and her desperation to fit in (a lot of the same problems I had in high school). We reconciled, she quit partying, and her last 2 years of college were pretty quiet overall. We both acknowledged college got the better of us both and we moved on. We eventually married in 2011 and we currently have 2 children and a seemingly happy marriage.

    [Main Info] This leads me to why I'm posting tonight. I'm not okay mentally or emotionally. I still, after over 10+ years after that night in my room still have panic attacks and feel that pain all over again. It was a lifetime ago, we were kids, it was college, those versions of ourselves are LONG gone...but pain is still so real. I feel like that moment changed my psyche, it changed my personality, and it damaged me in ways I can't begin to describe. I am 100% fully confident she hasn't cheated since college and she's a great wife and mother, but this internal struggle has been brutal on me for years. I've tried talking to her about it but it goes nowhere because she doesn't want to re-live that part of her life, a time she says she's embarrassed by, disgusted by, and regrets every day. I ask her what happened with these guys and she tells me things I don't believe. I just feel like I was cheated of so much and there's still a hole there.

    Over the past two years I've been on Tinder and have met up with multiple women and cheated in an effort to "settle the score" or make things equal...flawed logic I know but I was desperate to stop the pain. I now find myself on Tinder every night, sneaking around the house and meeting up with women, even though I know I won't feel any better at the end. I feel like I'm addicted to sex now, risky secretive sex that can numb me of that hallow feeling. I'm so desperate to know every single detail of what happened back in college that I obsess over it every day. I'm posting on here because three days ago I found my wife's old college external hard drive and I've been secretly running data-recovery software on it to recover any deleted files, pictures, or videos in order to find those answers. I increasingly find myself wishing to find pictures or videos of her having sex with these guys, I want to see dirty texts between them, I want to hear sexually charged phone call recordings....in a weird way I find myself wildly turned on by her with those guys now and I very much want to find the footage to validates my pain and closes any holes I have. I just want to verify what I THINK happened so I don't have this pain of the unknown gaps.

    I now question if this sexual flood of thoughts and emotions are part of a sexual addiction or if my actions and thoughts are signs of mental illness? I'm increasingly scared of it being mental illness because I can't just cold-turkey that away and get back to my life. I hate this. I'm consumed by it. I'm just so tired of something hurting me that happened over 10 years ago! Getting Ready for a First Date

  2. #2
    Gold Member Skeptic76's Avatar
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    Prepare to have the schtuff judged out of you by internet strangers, lol; for posting real stuff and admitting to cheating on here, you will get an eyeful of some unvarnished opinions. Kudos from me for being honest even when it canít feel good to do so. If you canít tell the truth, then you canít really get to a genuine awareness of the drivers for the behavior which is making you (and others) suffer.

    Lots of men and women indulge in fantasies about their partners having sex with other people. Thatís not an addiction or mental illness, just a fantasy. Some embrace the lifestyle, live out those fantasies and swing and make it work. Some just keep it to themselves.

    I donít have personal experience here...so I couldnít possibly say why or whenceforth your obsession arises and continues to dominate you all these years later. Is labeling or categorizing it as important as getting free from it IN THIS MOMENT? Iím not particularly concerned about whether itís a Rottweiler or a mastiff thatís got ahold of me, as much as I am focused on freeing myself from the grip of the dog thatís biting me. Once there isnít a jaw full of sharp teeth locked onto my azz I can THEN analyze exactly what happened and how I got into that situation in the first place so I can do things differently moving forward, thereby getting different results...

    I have no suggestions for your situation because I donít feel qualified. I think your best bet (If you want to change your behavior and get to the bottom of this so you can find more liberty in your mental and emotional life) is to print your post out and bring it to a counselor or a psychologist to help you unpack it. Clearly youíre a smart fella and I hope you can find some inner peace for your own sake, as well as your wifeís. Donít justify hurting somebody by pointing out their perceived past mistakes.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    I can't diagnose you with a mental illness or addiction.

    I think you have difficulty managing your feelings of anger and resentment.

    But the real problem is that you have a sense of entitlement that allows those feelings to fester and grow.

    You don't move on because deep down you feel it is your right to hold these grudges.

    From what you've written about your childhood and college experiences, it sounds like you've always had this problem.

    It's gotten really bad now. I don't think you realize how bad.

    Your actions have finally outpaced your own sense of entitlement. You are now desperately searching your wife's computer for some way to justify your actions.

    You should really talk to a professional.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Only a doctor and therapist can evaluate this. It's time you seek help from both. These behaviors and thoughts could be both mental illness and behavioral compulsions (addictions). Why not educate yourself on sexual "addiction" and other related psychopathology, so when you go to the doctor you have a place to start instead of rambling..
    Originally Posted by AlwaysOnward
    I now question if this sexual flood of thoughts and emotions are part of a sexual addiction or if my actions and thoughts are signs of mental illness? I'm increasingly scared of it being mental illness

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  6. #5
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    I nearly thought that maybe this was a troll post....Ummm...where do I even start? Have you heard the saying "two wrongs don't make it right"? Clearly you haven't. What you should have solved by doing therapy, you decided to "fix" by excessive cheating and hurting your wife and your family. Also why now? It's been 11 years! I genuinely actually don't understand why you'd forgiven your girlfriend at the time and continued the relationship, and more than a decade later you are completely fixated on her cheating and you are now cheating yourself.

    Don't get me wrong, what she did was horrible and no doubt that really hurt you. But you CHOSE to forgive her and continue the relationship. You CHOSE to marry her. This is now your wife and you have two children. You made these decisions and when you forgive someone, you are supposed to really do it and to move on. You can't hold that anger and resentment for more than a decade. And how is cheating going to change anything that had already happened?

    Keep in mind that this is a very different situation now to 2009. Back then you were teenagers, just started college and you were having fun and partying. I'm not saying that was an excuse for your wife to cheat. But now you are actually married and you are a father. What are you doing going off and sleeping with all these randoms off Tinder! You should be at home taking care of your kids! I hope you're using protection...

    I think you should tell your wife about all this and you should definitely see a therapist.

  7. #6
    Tiny dance - read your first paragraph again and explain to me how this self-righteous approach is useful to anyone? Remember what this forum is, who itís for, and who comes here for help. Do you belittle fat people in the gym? A drug addict at church? I know Iím messed up, I know Iím wrong, thatís why I came here looking for answers and guidance from people who have maybe experienced something similar.

    Dismissing my pain as a potential ďtroll postĒ is exactly the type of behavior that has destroyed many lives that could have been saved with some basic compassion and understanding. I think if this is your answer to someoneís emotional pain and instability you need to look inward to why you feel this type of judgment has any place on a forum designed for those going through stuff in life.

    I hope and pray my life is as perfect as yours one day.

  8. #7
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    Regarding mental illness - it is just a label, what does it mean anyway? Certainly I would not call it mental wellness, so then it is a form of illness. Just like resentment, entitlement, inability to let go of something - they are all forms of mental illness, they are not wellness. I am saying this without any judgement. In fact, I've had such issues myself, and they cost me a relationship and a friendship with a person. Not to mention it is not a happy way to live.

    Perhaps what Tinydance is saying is not without usefulness. Don't look at it as a way to put you down, but rather to shake you up. My best friend tried to shake me up this way, to give me some "tough love" - not to dismiss my pain, she loves me dearly; but to point out things I did not see in myself, such as not taking responsibility for MY actions, holding on to some grudges for a long time to where it didn't serve anyone and only made things toxic. Perhaps someone else's action made it toxic in the beginning, but after that it was all me! for what? keeping the scoresheet? that was so immature and destructive.
    I wish I had a friend like her to counsel me before I made more mistakes.

    And yes, I can imagine that it is not as simple as flipping a switch and "stop feeling bad", I know how painful memories can affect someone (though I won't claim to feel your exact case, as everyone's path is unique). But I can see the same theme, of doing things that are really not good because of inability to let go of something old.

    At least don't act on your feelings. Feel them if they come, but don't act on them. Your feelings are there, you don't have to suppress them. when they come, sit and look at them, try to process them, don't run away, cry, punch a wall if needed. Just don't descend into the lowliness of settling scores, please!..

    God bless you and give you strength, clarity, wisdom, and healing.


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