A few weeks ago, we received an e-mail request here at Posarc like the many we receive weekly for help in starting a PoSA Support Group. After corresponding with the young woman from Singapore who made the request, she sent us the following letter, which we’re reprinting in it’s entirety (with permission from her and her husband) because it will break your heart and cause you to think about…well, many things.
Jasmin’s story so viscerally conveys the pain every partner of a sex addict (PoSA) is all too familiar with, as well as perfectly capturing the jagged terrain of early recovery from sex addiction. She also paints a harrowing picture of what we call the Sexual Exploitation Industry, which incurs colossal devastation to everyone involved.
Everyone here at Team Posarc was moved to tears reading this and I think you will be, too:
Singapore, June 2012
Thank you for your e-mail! After reading it I have this incredible urge to just tell you everything I can about myself – so bear with me as I’m sure you’ve heard my story many times before.
I tried attending a CODA meeting here (no COSA or S-Anon currently in Singapore) and found it did not relate to me at all. I had trouble saying. “Hi I’m Jasmin- I’m co-dependent” because I’ve always told my husband that I didn’t agree with that label. I can’t say, though, that I never knew about his addiction.
In fact I always knew there was something horribly wrong with my husband from the outset but I just thought he was a handsome serial cheat and that marriage would help him change his ways.
Of course, looking back (we’ve been together 21 years now) it got worse if anything – but that was just the progression of the disease.
We married in 1997 and it was slightly over 2 years later that I found out he was having sex with my live-in domestic helper (in Singapore it is common to have one, so I’m not a rich person by any means). His explanation when I found out was that he was doing that because it was cheaper than going to prostitutes!
Devastated, I kicked him out of the house and during that time scoured the internet and came across a book by Patrick Carnes which I purchased through Amazon and sent to him. He told me later he threw it away without reading it and rubbished any suggestion that he had a “problem” (I will later explain why men here think this is not a problem).
Three months after this incident we “reconciled”. The following years were a series of heaven and hell and I always believed him when he said he had “slipped” just once and was going to stop doing that.
In 2006 I could no longer bear the ups and downs and I asked him to take a test for sex addiction which I found on the internet. The results startled even him and he agreed to do something about his “problem”.
We found an SLAA group here. There were about 5 members back then, no program and none of them were sober. Somehow, my husband on his own, with no step work or sponsor managed a year of sobriety in 2008 after attending those meeting for almost 2 years.
That was the most loving and peaceful year we had in our entire relationship and I thought everything was behind us. How wrong I was since the worst was yet to come. When he broke his sobriety, he went into a downward spiral.
I knew things were turning bad and this time I could not face it so I went to a psychiatrist for help and he gave me 4 types of medications that kept me doped up and numb – which is exactly how I wanted it since I could not cope with the situation. I worked very little, slept a lot but the “best” part was that it was hard to cry with all that medication.
After a year on it I realized I could no longer afford the monthly cost of the psychiatrist and the medication so I just stopped taking them. This of course was also not a good idea because I became all too aware of the situation and became filled with all kinds of emotions, especially anger.
By this time my husband had spiraled so badly downward that his business took a dive, he was maxed out on credit cards and was totally uncommunicative with me except when we were arguing.
Cutting the story shorter, my wonderful brother who had witnessed all this over the years came to visit me one evening. My new apartment was about to be ready (we had waited almost 7 years for it to be built) and my brother asked me to think if this was what I wanted.
He said that all he wanted was the best for me and that he would take good care of me, I didn’t have to work and could just take things easy but take a separation from my husband so I could see if this is the life I wanted to continue living. Somewhere from deep inside me came the words “I don’t think I know what’s best for me anymore so I will do as you suggest”.
When I suggested the separation to my husband he was more than agreeable and told me not to worry, that “he’d make a come back”. It became very clear that he had no intention of reconciling with me and a couple of months into the separation he asked me to get out of his car and leave him alone – he told me he had given up on himself and was resigned to his fate of being a sex addict.
This time I knew that I had done everything I could for almost 20 years and all that was left was to walk away and stop doing anything at all for him.
I went on a little trip so I could grieve but I also found it impossible to move on – I was in a kind of limbo – no going back and no going forward either.
A month later, he came to my door and asked me to let him move in. Deep in my heart I knew it was because he just needed someone to take care of him and all the bills. Yet, all I wanted to do was to scream with joy and say yes but instead I collapsed in tears and a small voice from inside me said “no”.
He later told me that was a turning point when he decided to do something about his addiction. He found a place nearby mine and visited me everyday after work. We could barely speak as we didn’t know what to say and he seemed to be in a fog. He was definitely not the same person I once knew.
On one of the days he came by after work, he walked in on me lying on my bed crying. He had seen me cry plenty of times before so I don’t know what was different about this time but he said in that moment seeing me on the bed, he told himself he could not do this to me anymore and that if he could not do it for himself, he wanted to do it for me. He said something inside him turned, and he wanted to really change.
We had just started going back to church and he had signed up to sing in the worship team. He asked his music ministry leader for help and she got us a church counselor as by then he could not afford private counseling. He started attending SLAA meetings again – this time it was different. There were people sober and so he got himself a sponsor.
He did many things (this time I did nothing because I had already tried all those things before and I realized they had to be at his initiative rather than my suggestion). Once again cutting this long story short – today he is exactly 17 months sober – he just got back from a meeting when he received loud applause for his 17th month anniversary.
Yes I am happy today. But today I am also still aware that this is one day at a time. I know I am happy because he is doing well and I am also aware that I will be devastated once again should he slip or relapse. This is why I really want and need to set up the group and work towards healing the past as well as trying to work on being a whole person, regardless of how the marriage turns out.
Lili, I am full of hope – it’s true. I’ve never seen my husband so happy and so present. He is now sponsor for 3 others and every meeting more and more people ask him to sponsor them (but he can’t take them all or he will dilute his sponsorship).
However, there is still that little voice in me that says “what if” and the thought is horrifying if I’m being honest.
Throughout the time of my struggles, especially during the separation, I tried to seek counseling and there seems to be a marked lack of good help here because of the very poor understanding of this problem. I called the centre where the SLAA meetings were held and they referred me to a counselor there. During the meeting she interrupted my story to tell me her thoughts which were “Why are you so angry? In fact I think you are the angriest person I ever met”!!!
The next counselor I went to see was an American male counselor who was a recovering co-dependent/alcoholic (20 years sober). After 3 meetings, which I did not find were of any help, he asked me who I confided in or I could talk to.
I said I no longer kept in touch with friends because I felt I was being judged and anyway most of them were in happy, solid marriages and I could not bear to watch that since mine had crumbled in a pile of ruins. I said I talked to my live in domestic helper (of course this is a different one from the one who had an affair with my husband).
He then told me instead of paying him $200 an hour to talk to him, I could just talk to her for free! I was not sure then if that is how counseling works but I thought I must be such a hopeless case that even counselors think they cannot help me.
Eventually I just started reading anything I could over the internet and I gained some understanding. 12 years after first seeing the book, I have just finished reading Out of the Shadows. I will next order a copy of Your Sexually Addicted Spouse as it’s been recommended a few times now!
I had always asked my husband if any of the wives wanted to meet and he raised it at the meetings but one of the senior members was not in favor of it because he thought it might become a “bitching” session if there was no structure. I told my husband, “Well first we have to meet, then we can form a structure right?”
Eventually one of the guys approached my husband privately and said his wife was in pain and asked if he could arrange for her to meet me. We met and shared for hours and hours – and it felt really very good to finally have a chance to speak to someone who’s going through a similar experience.
Then another 2 ladies joined us. All the other 3 have only recently found out about their husbands addictions so I feel a bit odd that I’m the only one who has “always known”. In fact at counseling my husband once said he could not understand why I seemed to know “everything”. Our counselor called me the marriage barometer!
He took me back to the place where I went to grieve the loss of our marriage so he could “change the memory” – another idea of his which is that when we go somewhere that holds bad memories for me he will do something lovely to change the memory. It’s been very helpful actually, especially at the beginning.
Yes, Singapore is an exciting city. It is also a candy store for sex addicts. You see Lili, prostitution is legal in Singapore. We have licensed brothels that are openly available. Men can go in to these place and choose a young Asian girl from the many cubicles they sit in and for as little as US$35.00 will get a shower and sex. This is just one part.
We also have something else here called “4 floors of whores” where prostitutes from all over Asia work illegally (and in full view of the law, mind you) in various bars in a place known as ——. The men go in and watch the dancing and can pick up the girls and take them home.
This does not include many other areas which have similar bars where men can have sex inside these places either in a private room or in full view of others.
Then there are online brothels which are a thriving business – this avenue started when the anti-vice squad decided to clean up the street walkers off the area where the licensed brothels were operating.
Of course I should not forget to mention that in many shopping malls and just regular suburban shops you can find massage parlours and ‘health centers’ where you can have a massage and any form of sexual service you want. We are not called SIN-gapore for nothing!
So many people come here to work and live with their families thinking this is a clean, green and safe country. Many expatriate wives are unaware of the darkness here and are quite shocked that such places even exist.
I don’t know where else in the world you can go to a “full-service” massage parlour in the same building as you work (and some of these are prestigious buildings right in the heart of the central business district). Orchard Road, famed overseas as a shopping belt is crawling with such places side by side with places that sell clothes and shoes!
It is unfathomable that this goes in full view of everyone. Most local women know about this but turn a blind eye- but there are many unsuspecting women who come here without even realizing what really goes on in the midst of normalcy.
Culturally, prostitution is very much a part of every day life here. I think, of late, there have been some high profile cases of addiction exposed, such as Tiger Woods, so sex addiction has gotten a little attention here and there in the press.
Recently, my husband tells me that at least 2 new people seek to join his recovery group every week. When he first went back to the group over a year ago there were maybe less than 10 members. Now they are at least 30 strong and their meeting room is becoming too small to accommodate them.
They started with just one meeting and now are up to 4 well-attended meetings every week. I believe we will see more men coming forward as people become aware of the devastating effects of this addiction. Currently men who get caught for indecent acts or sex with underaged prostitutes are just called perverts here. It’s like back in the 80’s with AIDS where ignorance was the order of the day.
I have written to ministers and newspapers and write in forums about this but I’m mostly laughed at or ignored because most men here feel there is absolutely nothing wrong with paid sex so long as you don’t flaunt it in your wife’s face. Many of my husband’s “friends” tell him their wives know and accept that “boys will be boys”.
Lili, I really want to thank you & Posarc.com for all your help – just imagine, we live in different countries, have never met and yet our lives are connected through a shared experience. We are very humbled that you have reached out to us to help us along so that we can grow into a group that can bring not just relief but healing to others as we ourselves seek to heal.
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We’d like to thank Jasmin for so generously sharing her story with us and we’d also like to invite our readers to share their responses to this blogpost here in the Comments section……Thanks to all…..