The “S” Angle

So what exactly is The “S” Angle, anyway? It’s my attempt to delicately reference the world of compulsive sexual behavior—issues that include addiction to lust, sex, pornography, masturbation, cybersex, phone sex, prostitution, emotional affairs, physical infidelity and more. By one interpretation, The “S” Angle addresses the person who practices these behaviors. It’s a legitimate inclusion, but that person is not the focus of my passion or my practice. Instead, I actively address The “S” Angle from its equal-but-opposite perspective: I speak to the women who discover “S” issues in the men they know and love.

Here’s the truth that I cannot ignore: Very few women make it through life unaffected by “S” issues. (If you’re one of them, I’m deeply happy for you. I’d love to hear more!) But for the rest of us, we tend to keep “that stuff” to ourselves, isolating from even our closest friends and family. We aren’t always sure how to handle these situations, but we tend to acquire tons of emotional baggage about men, sex and relationships. I know how heavy those burdens of shame and secrecy can get, and I know how quickly they morph into a soul-sick way of life.

As a woman who cares, I wish that I could prevent the pain of “S” issues altogether. I obviously can’t do that. But as a professional coach, I strive to do the next best thing: I work with women to help them sort through their emotions, pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next.

If any of this strikes a personal chord, I invite you to be brave! Perhaps it’s time to risk being vulnerable, to share about your own brush-ups with sexual compulsivity—for the sake of your own serenity, dignity and emotional wellbeing. My proverbial door is always open, and I’m willing to discuss “that stuff” with you at any point. I’ve worked with countless women facing “S” issues, so your reality won’t shock me. In fact, your story is likely more common than you realize.

In closing, I’ll leave you with three thoughts about The “S” Angle: (1) If you’re in “that spot,” you are NOT alone! You’re actually in the company of many others—some of the most beautiful, intelligent, spiritual and successful women you’ll ever meet. (2) No matter what you’re facing, your feelings are important. Your emotional needs are valid, and your experience is legitimate. (3) The concept of “healing” is NOT an empty promise—it’s actually a very possible, very practical and very attainable reality.

In the interest of self-disclosure, I relate to The “S” Angle with firsthand experience. I’ve encountered “S” issues in both of my significant relationships: once in the marriage that ultimately ended, then later in the marriage is currently thriving. (I won’t write in too much detail here, but I’m willing to share more with you one-on-one. Email me to schedule a conversation!)

What do I hope to accomplish by telling you my own “S” Angle story? Bottom line, I’m committed to honor the ways “S” issues have affected my life as a woman, and to authentically reflect the ways those experiences inform and influence my work as a partners coach.

My “S” Angle story started with the disintegration of my first marriage, circa 2002. I know this sounds melodramatic, but I honestly thought I might die from the pain of that rejection. As a young woman of faith, divorce was my worst nightmare, something that I honestly never saw coming. As one might expect, I experienced deep feelings of betrayal, abandonment and personal loss. But what caught me off guard—what I didn’t anticipate, even as I began to accept the inevitability of our divorce itself—was the traumatic process of slowly uncovering my husband’s hidden sexual life. Those “drip-drip” discoveries compounded my original wave of shock and grief, introducing me to a reality I struggled to comprehend.

Fast-forward a few years. Emerging from that experience, I received “a second chance” at life and love. I engaged my next serious romance older and wiser, with different needs and expectations. I chose a man who wouldn’t leave me (he hasn’t), someone committed to emotional intimacy (he absolutely is), and someone who would fight like hell for me and our relationship (he has and does, every single day). We knew that our marriage wouldn’t be easy, so we both committed that when things got tough, we would pursue whatever support we needed to make it work. Before long, I realized that “S” issues were once again threatening to implode my most intimate relationship—and even though these new behaviors were notably different (less serious, less shocking) than the ones I’d discovered in my first marriage, I found myself tweaked into a keenly familiar emotional dynamic, one I now recognize as compound trauma (C-PTSD). This time around, I was lucky enough to have a husband who humbly acknowledged his personal “S” issues, willing to seek solutions to a problem that had haunted him for decades. Together, he and I reached out for help, desperate to avoid the breakdown of our beautiful-but-struggling romance.

The powerful part of this story—and the reason I consider it a legitimate part of my coaching website—is the fact that my husband and I HAVE found help, both independently and together. We connected with a network of knowledgeable professionals (therapists, coaches, educators, authors, clinicians) and non-professional support communities. These people quickly recognized our self-defeating behaviors and intimacy-killing disorders, a long list that included sex addiction, emotional trauma, family-of-origin issues, codependence, fear, anger and clinical depression. Our support team never labeled us or put us in a box. They didn’t dictate our decisions, or tell us what we “ought to” do. Instead, they gave us tools to repair our relationship and heal ourselves. Those resources gave us a concrete foundation, and we use those tools daily to build a resilient and satisfying marriage.

The “S” Angle is my primary niche coaching specialty. Hands down, it’s the most challenging (and rewarding) work I do, and it’s the topic that most closely integrates my personal and professional experience. In addition to my relevant training in Divorce Recovery, Couples Relationships and Family Addiction Dynamics, I’ve been educated via APSATS (The Association for Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists), completing their signature M-PTM training program (Multi-dimensional Partners Trauma Model). I’m currently an APSATS CPC-Candidate (Certified Partners Coach), formally consulting under three of APSATS supervising board members.

Within this niche specialty, partners’ coaching provides many of the same goals, concepts and features of basic life coaching. You can read more about that at Women Ever After. When I coach clients around their “S” Angle experiences, my job is to champion them in meeting THEIR needs, goals and priorities, whatever those may be. Sometimes, a woman seeks coaching during the process of divorcing her sex addict husband. Other times, she wants tools and resources to help her stay (safely) within that relationship. As a partners’ coach, it is NEVER my job to make that decision on behalf of my client, and it’s not my role to devalue my client’s decision, no matter what decision that might be.

When I’m working with “S” Angle clients, I do engage a unique set of skills and training, one that addresses the very personal (and sometimes very complicated!) world of betrayal trauma. Most importantly, I’m trained to practice a trauma-sensitive approach to coaching partners. This means that:

  • I will NEVER blame my client for her partner’s compulsive sexual behavior.
  • I will never label my client as codependent, co-addicted, or co-enabling.
  • I will respect my client as someone who loves a sick person, not as someone who is sick simply because she loves him.
  • I’ll never hold a client responsible for healing her partner’s compulsive sexual behavior.
  • I’ll never expect my client to sacrifice HER own wellbeing (physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, psychological, sexual, financial, relational, vocational) to facilitate HIS recovery.
  • I will support my client as someone who’s been caught in the crossfire of her partner’s harmful behavior.
  • I will suggest healthy resources to help my client understand infidelity, pornography and sex addiction—for the purpose of processing how those things impact HER.
  • I’ll help my client discern what “healthy choices” look like within this “new normal.”
  • And when it comes to healing the trauma she’s experienced as an “S” Angle partner, I will MAKE SURE my client is well connected to clinical sources for therapeutic support when needed.

When I coach “S” Angle clients, there ARE a few themes that surface, more commonly and more consistently than in general life coaching. These partners often seek specialized coaching, specifically for support in these relevant areas:

  • to clarify their internal and relationship realities;
  • to discern between known facts and unknown factors;
  • to protect themselves physically, emotionally and financially;
  • to identify their own needs, then take healthy action to get those needs met;
  • to strengthen their own voices within their relationships;
  • to explore, understand, establish and enforce healthy boundaries, both internal (personal) and external (interpersonal)
  • to reconnect with their own intuition, honor their gut instincts, and trust in THEMSELVES;
  • to learn what is “normal” for sex addiction and recovering sex addicts;
  • to establish self-protections against denial or gaslighting;
  • to exercise new ways of coping with triggers related to their partners’ acting out;
  • to find courage when facing acute emotions like fear, pain and anxiety;
  • to experience grief within a safe and solution-oriented environment;
  • to rediscover (or redefine) their own concepts of sex, intimacy and womanhood;
  • to measure and validate their own personal progress;
  • to explore new resources for self-support, especially those that directly address sex addiction, trauma, rebuilding and (sometimes) relationship restoration
  • to define what acceptance, forgiveness and “moving on” mean for THEM
  • to reenvision their future lives, with or without their partners, in the aftermath of their “S” Angle experiences
  • to practice ABUNDANT, LEGITIMATE and absolutely NECESSARY amounts of self care!!!
Scarlet Sisterhood is a twelve-week phone coaching support group. Its purpose is to validate, educate and empower women throughout their experience of intimate betrayal.

Click here for more details.
NEXT Scarlet Sisterhood Group: Spring 2017

In the world of social media, I offer two active sources of support for women impacted by their partners infidelity, pornography, secrets and/or sex addiction.

One is a PUBLIC PAGE. Anyone can find this page, follow it, like or comment on what I post there. By keeping this page public, I ensure that people who need support can find it and/or share it with others. To view or follow this FB page, click here: https://www.facebook.com/SAngleSupport

One is a SECRET GROUP. Nobody can find or join this group without an invitation from me. The content I post to this group is nearly identical to what I post on the public page. But as a “secret group,” members can share here in an insular and intimate environment, one that is fully protected from view by members’ FB friends and family. To join this private “S” Angle Support discussion group, email me at crystalmor@mac.com or message me via www.facebook.com/crystal.morrissey.58