It is pretty well known that wives of Alcoholics learn to behave in certain ways, in fact the word "Enabler " was coined (by some "mental health professional" no doubt) to point out the part wives learn to play in their continuing attempts to cover up "the Problem." I have come to see that as a sex offender's wife, I too "Enabled" even though I clearly did not understand just What I was "Enabling."
Even after we recognize our betrayal some of us continue to "enable"
As "Wives" we don't want our husbands/ our family exposed, fired from their jobs. W e dread the loss of social standing. We say it's unfair! Society is "unfair" And it's true, we don't want our children pointed out, our family ridiculed, pitied or God Forbid, reported to the police, for any reason. "Good" wives know, we are expected to be eternally supportive, Not matter what the family "problems" we think if we just try harder. We think we should be able to fix it...and if not we blame ourselves. .
We may make make every effort to avoid facing "the problem" in our relationship whatever we think "it" is, we don't want to think about it. To wish to avoid having the family Exposed as "different." we minimize (He's not a drunk. He just drinks a little too much. or in the case of sexual abuse: we tell ourselves "Pornography isn't really a sexual offense. etc. Sexual addiction is a disease and it's no one's business if my husband...We say It's "Family Business" just keep quiet. ... Whatever..".it" was, it's just... . We fool ourselves. "I'm not really the sole support of this family, I'm only helping out a little.Just until...this court stuff blows over...he works/ed when he could....We tell ourselves "The others lied/ the child lied/ he says he didn't do "it" He's not really a drunk, not a sex offender, not unfaithful etc etc It's all just SO unfair we tell ourselves..."It was only once...)
For whatever "reasons" as wives and girlfriends (mothers) we worry, excuse, attempt to cover up the extent of the damage that "Alcoholism" (or those far less mentionable "problems we do not even want to "imagine") are wrecking/ have wrecked, upon our marriage or relationship or children, upon our whole family even before the knock on the door, the police. Even when "our alcoholic" "Our Offender" the "til death do us part" "the love of our life" goes to jail (for DUI or fighting ...or a Sex Offense) We think we must be Ever faithful. As good wives,we keep on keeping on far longer than love, /marriage vows or even reason would seem to require. We Enable. We blame ourselves...My mother did. I certainly did.
The label "Enabler" (like "good wife") is well earned. Yet we do not see that we have been conditioned as good wives and mothers to put forth such efforts. And because we continue, due to our efforts to fix to "love away" the problems the "Harm" goes on much longer, In the process the entire family which we as wives and mothers try so hard to keep together becomes infected, learns a family pattern of enabling . Our children learn these toxic patterns of behavior when they are abused, molested, witness domestic violence and /or Alcoholism. But what about the wives of sex offenders? As wives and mothers, I believe, that we too, all too often assume the role of fixer/enabeler. to minimize the guilt in not having "fixed" whatever relationship "problem" infests our family.
Even when we don't exactly know what the "problem is", when we have been all too effectively lied to, we assume blame fearing that "it" must be our fault because we never "fixed" what ever "it" was. But never fear, now we will, even while our husband continues the process, lying and betraying and taking advantage thereby mentally, emotionally and even physically continuing to abuse not only our children but us as well... But we "forgive."
We continue to minimize, to believe the power of our love will make everything "All right." We even learn to feel Pride in our own endurance in the strength of our love, in our faith which keeps us keeping on. We are after all "good women" We pride ourselves in being "good/faithful/and forgiving" . We ,tell ourselves now he's been arrested (unfair as it is) we now know the problem and he says he'll change so, true to our marriage vows, here's our chance to "fix" everything. We still have a chance to be "good" wives etc etc etc...even standing in line outside the prison on visiting day ...don't we feel a certain pride.
Sound familiar? We wives of sex offenders seem to behave in much the same way, before and after their betrayals are exposed.. In much the same way, as wives and mothers who don't even yet realize the harm being done our children, we continue to pride ourselves, upon our continuing love and support for husbands (who are/were betraying the very vows we once imagined they too held sacred.) We all want to imagine that we can (unilaterally) "fix things" unilaterally love everything back together (even if we don't, quite yet, know exactly what went wrong.)
The problem is that even if we choose divorce we,(much like the exhausted wives of alcoholics) as wives were conditioned to meet unreasonable demands, We learned to need to be needed. Much like the wives of Alcoholics, we are all to prone to run our and marry another "Strangely Familiar" man who offers us the opportunity to (this time) successfully "Fix" another "Strangely Familiar Relationship" so that we can, at last, live happily ever after.
The wives of Alcoholics have a place to go, to listen and learn from others affected by alcoholism. It's called Alanon. Adult children of Alcoholics attend (you guessed it) Adult Children Meetings.
AA has been active for nearly 100 years and meetings can be located n every town.
As the wives and children of sexual abusers, we could learn a lot from Alanon. In fact in Alanon, some women and children are able to see family patterns of "abuse" across all the spectrums of pain and harm injected into their own lives. Some are even mentioning in meetings that they were also sexually abused in childhood, They too witnessed domestics abuse etc etc.
I am not suggesting that every prornographer, every sexual abuser is in fact and alcoholic, nor am I suggesting every alcoholic is an abuser... I am saying, Just saying, that we all have a lot in common. Child sexual abuse like alcoholism is a Family disease....
Just Saying,... In such families, we w omen and children learn early that its secret "Family Business' that it's our responsibility to "fix" Family situations, however DIS-separate the cause of our own harm. These Family "symptoms" seem to be much the same. Once learned in what ever abusive family, we all may learn to react in similar ways, in addition to the harm caused during the commission of child sexual abuse...families all learn to feel guilt, to believe that we shoulda/woulda/coulda prevented/harm. We think we, abused and betrayed as we often are, we must /fixed our families... So we all learn similar patterns and we carry into our next "relationship"
Just saying. There are Family Patterns... After all I was molested as a child, My mother was not molested as a child but she learned early the role of good wife and enabler and fell for a man, my father, who molested me and my bothers. AND THEN, having also learned the lessen of good wife and I fell in love and married a man, (molested as a child ) who was himself "strangely" like my own father. My husband then sexually abused my children...
I tell you this because I believe there is an underlying pattern and unless, or until I (like the women in Alanon) see my own conditioning as a wife and mother there is nothing to stop the harm spreading..even to the next generation. We say Alcohilism "runs in families." Many wives of Alcoholics divorce one alcoholic only to marry another.
I have come to believe that if as the wives of sex offenders, we continue to hope for another/ better/safer marriage without ever understand our own ingrained conditioning ( "NOT seeing" "Not knowing" pride in the power of our love to "fix" our family," belief in a wife's "supportive" role in marriage.)...As wives (especially as wives of sex offenders) we will continue (consciously or unconsciously to accwept even seek out the role of Enabler. We will continue to be attracted to strangely familiar men attracted to a woman able to "enable" him at the expense of her children.
As the wives of sex offenders, we can't keep "just not thinking about it", We betray ourselves and our children when we depend upon "luck" to decide whether the next man who seems to "fit our expectations", the next one "who feels strangely familiar" the "good" one who wants to help us "Rebuild" seems strangely familiar because he stoo, somehow "fits." an already established family pattern. bling.
Just saying...In "I don't want to think about "it" just "not identifying, not examining "strangely familiar" patterns in our own lives ...will not protect us or our children...
Fo In"Not thinking" the unthinkable... don't we just re-expose our selves and our children, expose even perhaps future generations who pass along broken family patterns
Even thinking such thought is terrifying.
What do you think?