As we have pointed out, anger is a way for sex addicts to feel in control and, when addicts act in both a passive-aggressive and an aggressive manner, their lives become double-edged swords. The passive side allows for a secret life of lies, betrayal, and intrigue that, fragment by precious fragment, steals trust from partners, bosses, children, friends, and family, until the addict's lies and betrayals are exposed. The aggressive side builds and builds until it heedlessly takes what it wants, with little or no regard for the consequences, either moral or physical.
Andy climbs the steps outside the church. His seven-year old legs have to stretch like a track star hurdling each gate. Holding his father's hand provides physical stability. However, his emotional state is fragile as Belleek china.
Andy's mother died three days ago. She had been the center of his world. A car crash stole her away.
Dizzy from the day's activities and shocked by the reality of life, Andy feels bewildered and lost. Lying on the window seat, he watches the black-clad mourners mingling in the living room. Closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep, he feels a gentle touch. In his groggy state, he thinks of his mother, her loving and comforting nature. He wants to say, drifting in the comfort of her memory, but he is jolted out of his haze by his father's voice.
"Son, Grandma and Aunt Kate want to talk to you, so sit up and listen up, okay?" his father says, more like a coach sending out his star quarterback than a dad comforting a son's loss.
Andy sits up to face what feels like a firing squad: His grandmother and aunt, both difficult and demanding women, are crouched over him like a double-barreled shotgun ready to explode.
"Andy, you have to be strong," they begin.
"Your dad has been through an awful shock, and you need to help by being his right-hand man. You know he travels a lot, and you will need to help your younger sister. You'll need to be the man of the house while he is gone. Do you think you can do that?" they ask with a pause that hangs in the air.
Andy's family's reaction to grief involves a no-talk, no-feel rule, which demands that Andy stuff his feelings. He will be shaped into a robotic caretaker who simmers with resentment and anger.
As Andy stumbles down the hall to the bathroom, he can hear voices from his parents' room. At first, Andy's heart leaps, as he believes he hears his mother's voice. Pushing open the half-closed door, Andy is jarred awake by seeing Aunt Kate entwined in his father's arms, laughing and giggling. Abruptly they stop, hearing the creak at the door.
"Go back to bed, son," Andy's father bellows from the bed, "GO!" he calls out in a firmer more panicked tone.
Andy suffered an earth-shattering betrayal that will haunt him and his relationship with women for the rest of his life. His mother's death, although an accident, will crush his ability to trust women. Aunt Kate's behavior will teach Andy the sordid dynamic of triangulation, a web of lies and secrets between three people, which will cement the cornerstone of Andy's sexual addiction.
Andy, unhappy in the marriage but afraid to leave his wife, has aggressively pursued what he believes is a "relationship" with a prostitute named Angel.
"She is in love with me," Andy say with conviction.
"Umm... really?" I reply.
"Yes, she IS," he says, emphasizing the "is" as if that will convince me of the validity of his delusional fantasy.
Andy is in therapy because his wife has given him an ultimatum, not because he wants to give up Angel. Either he becomes emotionally available and spends more time with her and the boys, or she files for divorce.
Andy sits slumped on the couch, his suit wrinkled, his glasses tilted off-center, looking as if he has just rolled out of bed. Andy is a boiling pot of resentments and repressed anger. He feels trapped in his marriage and pretends to love a woman for whom he feels only obligation. Andy has little desire to change his avoidant behaviors.