Tony talks about processing betrayal trauma with Brannon Patrick. Brannon Patrick is an expert in the field of Betrayal Trauma, and he plays the role of "the Expert" in the popular podcast "The Betrayed, The Addict and The Expert." His podcast follows the recovery journey of Ashlynn and Coby, a couple who have been able to move forward as a result of the pain of betrayal and addiction. Brannon has developed several group systems and programs for addiction recovery. He has specialized training as a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) which has helped him learn how to treat sexual addiction and betrayal trauma. Brannon is also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Brannon is the co-clinical director and owner of TherapyUTAH and he has developed several programs to help individuals, and couples, heal from betrayal, as well as addiction.
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Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.
You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.
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[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to a very special bonus episode of The Virtual Couch. I'm your host, Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist. And the very quick reason why you're seeing this bonus episode is it really did kind of come out of nowhere. And it's because I'm a couples therapist, a marriage therapist, and at any given time, I'm working with several couples or individuals who are working through betrayal or the concepts of betrayal, trauma or a recently discovered addiction or infidelity, you know, acting out sexually outside of a marriage. But often when I get this new couple or a new person and they come into my office and they open up about what they're going through, they they often feel so alone. You know, they feel broken. They feel ashamed. They feel embarrassed. If it's the spouse, the the betrayed, they can feel so angry and blindsided and like their entire world has been just ripped out in underneath their legs, then they are trying to make sense of things. Sometimes they go back and look through their entire marriage and they wonder if if anything has been true. You know, they feel these intense feelings of shame or feeling like they are less than or and all of these are such normal feelings and addictions that people are going through. And on this side, excuse me, of the person that is, is the world safer, the betrayer, they're they're really excuse me. There is a deep need to try and control the situation. I mean, psychologically speaking, that is something that we we do a little bit as humans as we want to maintain control.
[00:01:26] We're so afraid that if we don't have control that that, again, our entire world is going to fall apart. And and on that note, I mean, how does it feel when you're under somebody else's control and it doesn't feel good? And this is the thing I talk about often, the concept of reactance where, you know, it's really the desire to do the opposite of something that's been prescribed to us by others or something that we're told that we're supposed to do or should do. Yeah, nobody likes to be shown on. For example, if you attempt to control your spouse's diet, you might be met with a, you know, increase the consumption of unhealthy food just to spite you. And and I was reading and putting some pieces together for a future podcast about control. But really coming up on this concept, this is why in adult relationships, you can either have control over others or you can you can have love, but not both. And in love. It is such a fundamental need, this desire to connect, this desire to love. It's such a fundamental need to us that. So then being overly controlling isn't isn't good. I mean, there's there's not really anything that we can pull from that that is going to be healthier, productive, yet we continue to do it so often. So anyway, back to this bonus episode. So I just I often refer to this episode and it's now been a couple of years since I did this episode with and Patrick on the trail trauma. And and I thought it just needed a little bit of a refresh and needed to get it back up into the list of the podcast so that I can refer to it a little easier.
[00:02:49] But the podcast, BRANOM Patrick is a pretty amazing therapist. He's a good friend. He's the host of the podcast The Betrayed, the Addicted and the Expert, which has done so much good for so many people. If you happen to be a listener of that podcast, you'll know that they've they've been through some pretty big things recently. The couple, Ashley and Kobe. And I'm mentioning this because you'll hear of the podcast and those names mentioned, I think, in the beginning when Brandon and I are are given out his background. But they they've gone through a lot similar fact that went to their show notes. And here's here's what they had shared in a recent episode. They said that when we started this journey, we had no idea where it would lead. And although we've never taken a stand as to what should happen with a relationship after infidelity, they were striving to keep theirs together. And they've done years of this podcast. And they said today's announcement was incredibly difficult, highly concerning for you, our audience. And we feel it was time to open up with a most intimate challenge that they've reached a place to share. Finally, they say that they still believe in the principles they've taught in the podcast. But on this recent episode they had led Kobie had led by saying that he has decided to, quote, uncouple from Ashlynn.
[00:03:55] So I just want to put that out there because I will mention the podcast with Brandyn. And it is about betrayal, trauma. And it just shows you that that, you know, relationships can go in a lot of different directions. But the the concepts, the principles that Brandon and I talk about in this episode of how to work through or handle betrayal, trauma and how to truly try to use all of these things to be for your good to be able to say, OK, that's almost like some acceptance of here's what we're here's where we're at. Here's what we're dealing with. And it doesn't work to tell somebody to not worry about it or just get over it or, you know, the person who often is the one that discloses or who opens up. They may feel a sense of relief of being able to get that off their chest. But you've got an entirely you've got a different person. You've got another person that is part of this equation. And they're the ones that are now dealing with some of these intense feelings, these feelings of betrayal. And you'll hear and hear we talk about how betrayal, trauma really does have a lot of similarities of PTSD. You know, this complex post-traumatic stress disorder, there's triggers. There's. They are staying very much in their midbrain and their amygdala and reacting to the fight or flight response, so we're going to cover all of that today. And I feel like that's the main reason I wanted to do this bonus episode. And so just kind of get right to it.
[00:05:27] His name is Brandon Patrick. He is the host of the very popular podcast that betrayed the addicted and the expert, and he does play the role of the expert on the podcast, along with Ashlynn and Coby. And I have been I've had many, many clients. That is no exaggeration. Ask me if I was familiar with their podcast and I go into a little bit of this with Brandon, but I first did the thing where I was a little bit jealous. I was like, hey, I've got a podcast to you know, we sit right in front of me and realize that it's not all about me. And their podcast is incredible because it is on the subject of betrayal, trauma. And speaking of these, Instagram Q&A is one of those that I get often is can you please do an episode on betrayal trauma? I have done some certification, some training in the world of betrayal, trauma, but it's not something that I am doing well, I really am doing every day. But but it's not something that I'm doing eight clients a day. And so they do enjoy working with betrayal, trauma. I feel like a pretty knowledgeable in the world of betrayal, trauma, but I really wanted to bring someone that is an expert in betrayal, trauma on to talk about this. And that expert is Brandon Patrick. So he is a dynamic leader in the betrayal, trauma, addiction recovery community. And he has some online programs. And he's also the co clinical director and owner of Therapy Utah. And in his bio, he talks about this and he says that he's treated almost every kind of addiction in every setting. And he started by working on an inpatient psychiatric unit, spent years gaining experience in an intensive outpatient setting. And so he's received a lot of specialized training in addiction, recovery and betrayal, trauma, recovery.
[00:06:54] And so I really do feel like you are going to enjoy this interview. It's dealing with a heavy subject material, the concept of betrayal, trauma. But but Brandon is just a is a really easy to talk to person. That's why I said I got a new best friend. Now, he and I turned the mix on a little early this morning. We recorded it pretty early and it was twenty minutes later. We were still talking. And I realized, man, I got to start recording because I had a client coming up a little bit later. So I feel like we we could have talked for days and I can't wait to have him on again. But he's also developed a lot of groups and programs for addiction recovery. He does have specialized training as a certified sexual addiction therapist assistant. And and he also is trained in MDR, which is eye movement desensitization, desensitize, easy for you to say, desensitization and reprocessing, and as well as dialectical behavioral therapy, DBT and cognitive behavioral therapy. And those are significant. I would love to get him on and talk about MDR, DBT. Those are both very important therapeutic modalities for different things that come up in therapy. But today we are going to talk about betrayal, trauma and and we talk about this at the end. But if we didn't answer your questions or if you have questions from the podcast, please send them to Contact@tonyoverbay.com. And I would love to use those to have a chance to get them back on the podcast, and I highly recommend visiting it. Go listen to their podcast. He is the expert on the betrayed, the addicted and the expert. All right.
[00:08:15] Without any further ado, let's get to my interview with Brendan Patrick.
[00:08:25] So, yeah, I will
[00:08:26] Just send incredibly nice things about you, by the way. So I would love to give a little bit. First of all, you're in Utah, correct?
[00:08:32] Yeah, yeah. I'm in Highland
[00:08:35] Highland, so I grew up there. Did you did you go up there? High school?
[00:08:38] I grew up in Sugarhouse.
[00:08:41] So a high school. Do you go to
[00:08:42] High school,
[00:08:43] Highland? All right. I was an alcoholic.
[00:08:45] Oh, really nice. Yeah.
[00:08:47] But I think I'm probably old enough to be your dad, so I don't know if that's.
[00:08:49] I doubt it.
[00:08:52] So I would love to get in. First of all, I'm a big fan of your podcasts and and I feel like it's one of those things where I kept having people ask me if I had heard about your podcast to the point of where at first I was little bit annoyed. I was saying I would be like, hey, I got a podcast too. And I'm like, OK, fine, I'll listen to the Brands podcast then. It's OK. I'm hooked now. So podcast is a betrayed the expert. How long have you done the podcast and how did you what led to that.
[00:09:16] We've done that for two and a half years. It was really interesting how it started. I met Ashley and Coby. They were just starting off in their recovery journey. They had done a video that went viral about their story. They're just really open. And I had been treating betrayal, trauma for a while, maybe eight years. By then. I had worked under people. I had worked so many different places. I knew what worked and what didn't work. I could see it working with Ashton and Kobe. And I just thought, man, we need to come together and I can bring my expertize and talk about recovery and what really works for healing for a couple through them, they can share their story. So people will connect to that, really relate to it. And we we didn't know what we were doing. We had a little snowball mike on an island. We started that way. And really we didn't need fancy technology and stuff. The story held its own. And yeah, we just we hear things like, you know, your podcast has been one of the most instrumental things for our recovery.
[00:10:17] And I like what you say, too, when you're talking about you saw their video and you did you recognize things that they weren't doing that would really help in their recovery?
[00:10:25] Yeah. So it's interesting when I talk to ASIMCO because I'm not their therapist, OK, which I think is a good thing. I'm actually really good friends with their therapist. But as we talked, I could tell early on they were learning stuff from what I was saying as well. OK, it just goes to show recoveries. It's not a thing where you arrive one day. They were further along than a lot of couples. They were out of the crisis mode. They were moving forward in terms of connection and intimacy. Yeah, they still have some work to go and yeah, they'll always have work to go. And yeah, they were learning a lot from me and we can recapture that on the podcast. You guys talk
[00:11:05] About you talk about difficult subjects too. And I'm really curious. I want to get to the betrayal trauma part. But is that hard or do you guys have planning meetings of OK, do we want to touch this one or is anything off limits or are you excited about the difficult topics
[00:11:17] The week we want, the difficult topics we gravitate toward, that we really try hard not to plan too much. And the reason is because because we're all about authenticity and vulnerability and so we don't have it scripted out. It really is a conversation. We throw a topic out there and we just break it down. And yeah, there's some interesting topics that we hit and we've gotten some backlash. What? Yeah, let's talk about there's a I think there's a battle within the battle when it comes to betrayal. Trauma. If I can give you just a little history, please do. That'll be great. So there is so when I first started treating this years ago, it was this codependency model, the Coatex, the. And it really felt blamey toward the spouse. Bahbah Steffen's came out with her book, You're Sexually Addicted Spouse, which was really important. And then just a way it started happening of we're not going to call it codependency. That's not what it is. It is betrayal, trauma. And I really appreciated that because it took the blame away from the spouse. But there's another side to it and it's gone to this place. But there's betrayal, trauma, and then there's this abusive, horrible monster addict. And know, Tony, I've been called a man hater and I've been called somebody who doesn't sympathize with the betrayed. And I'm neither I think we can have compassion for both sides. And so when Ashton and Kobe talk action, Kobe and I talk about things like we did an episode about what do you attract to your life, like the law of attraction.
[00:12:55] Yeah. And we got a lot of backlash about that one because they're like and we were talking about the betrayal and we're saying we want you to self reflect, to really look at how is how have you attracted certain things into your life. And we're not blaming, but what we do want is to empower them to really move forward with the power that they have and not just stay stuck in a victim place of I've been hurt. I've been betrayed. That that. Pain is real, that the hurt is real, the betrayal is real, but and this is it's like I was running a group and this woman I'd worked with for a long time and I had a lot of rapport with her. And then she said, well, am I just supposed to forgive my husband? I said, you could. And I realized forgiveness isn't something I throw out there, like, so quickly. Yeah, I said you could. That's up to you. And she said, oh, he did all these things to me. And I'm just expected to forgive him. And I said, look, I'm not telling you what you should or shouldn't do, but if you want more peace and happiness and you want to move forward, then that's up to you and that's your responsibility to figure out how to forgive him. And there are some. There are some therapists, there's some platforms out there that really drive home, stay the victim if you're betrayed and consider him a monster as the addict and doesn't help a couple move forward through.
[00:14:28] I did. I don't go on often. I did the things I did his Instagram post on positive regard toward your spouse. And I was just I was quoting Brene Brown and saying, look, the life you blessed the most when you have positive regard toward other people is your own. And I got all of these. It was interesting because on my Instagram, I have a lot of people who follow me because of betrayal, trauma. And I have a lot of people who follow me just because they like the relationship stuff that I do, the the people who don't have the betrayal, trauma, they thought, that's awesome. Yeah, I appreciate that positive regard to the people who have been indoctrinated. And I'm not saying everybody with betrayal, trauma indoctrinated with he's just a monster. I hated that post and they said that's really dangerous for you to to say to have positive regard toward my spouse. And my response to that was I'm not going to back down. Positive regard toward your spouse is a good thing. It doesn't mean that you don't have boundaries with him. It doesn't mean that you're at risk of getting hurt more. So, yes, you can approach your recovery and recovery with your relationship from a place of compassion for yourself. First and foremost, have your own boundaries and then for your partner. And that's what actually works for healing for a couple.
[00:15:49] So because you don't like when people the betrayed and that example, you feel like the fear is that if I then give him positive regard or I say, OK, I forgive you, what I hear often is then the betrayed feels like, OK, so now he's off the hook and he will go back to doing whatever he was doing. And all of this was for nothing. And it doesn't matter anymore. Do you hear
[00:16:09] That it comes down to the the fundamentals of real recovery, which it because. Absolutely, Tony, what you just said is the fear. If I if I don't control this through my anger and I fear here, then I'm worried that I'm going to get hurt again. Yeah. And the thing is, I get this question like, how do I know what when he's in recovery? And I just say, you know it, if you let him off the hook, he still needs to man up and work his own recovery. He still needs to create that trust with you and your anger and your fear in no way is driving that recovery. Let me drive. That recovery is his internal motivation for change. And that's what will get him into solid recovery. And when you know that that's there, then you can really back off of that that anger and that fear, that anger, that fear. It's interesting, Tony, because I don't want to say you shouldn't have it, because I what I do want to say from anyone who's been betrayed is having is totally normal and valid and and anybody would have those feelings. But what I hope is that whoever is listening can understand is having it is something you need to process and work through and learn from and solidify your own self so that you can become stronger. It's not something that that works to to turn into force for his recovery. Yeah.
[00:17:43] Oh, it's so good. And I do feel like I don't want to I want to hear your I wanna hear you more. I don't want to. I feel like I want to echo but I feel like I often say that. And I'm a big fan of acceptance and commitment therapy. And that acceptance part is the all of the situations in your life that brought you to that moment, caused you to feel the way you feel. And if you didn't feel that way, then there would be something off. And so perfectly OK to feel that way.
[00:18:04] Absolutely. I always say don't shoot on your feelings. Every emotion is valid. Every single emotion that any person has ever had in this universe is valid because it's real to them. And so absolutely, if and the first stages of recovery for somebody who's been betrayed, if they've been isolated and alone and those feelings are really important that somebody says we get it and it's OK that you feel that way.
[00:18:33] Where do you I like where you're going with the kind of talk more about what do you do when you go fundamentals of betrayal, trauma, or when you have somebody that comes in for the first time, or are there some things that somebody is going to be listening right now? They've heard the term. They aren't doing anything about it. What do you say?
[00:18:47] Yeah, so first thing is what I just said is to let them know that what they're feeling is OK, validated and validation comes through empathy from the therapist part. It also comes through education when you educate them and they're like, oh my gosh, that's us. That's me. That's yes, yeah. Education, empathy also validation comes from. Support from other people, so things like group. I'm a huge believer in group, especially for the betrayed and the addicted, but both that's the first thing. So through that education, then we start to really outline what real recovery is. And what's interesting, Tony, is most people come in and they think he's acting out pornography and masturbation or he's had an affair or whatever it is, and that behavior needs to stop. So we need to stop that behavior and we dig in and there's symptoms like acting out everywhere, but there's roots to that. There's real problems there. And the women who decide to work their own recovery, they go through a process of self discovery and change and healing unlike any other. And what they realize is that his addiction really has propelled them. And it's a huge blessing in their life. They learn how to. Rework their relationship with God. They learn how to really know who they are, have healthy boundaries, learn how to be authentic, learn how to deal with conflict, they learn how to be empowered in doing what they want to do with their life and be more honest. And why do they learn all this? Because he had an addiction, because the best way that they can protect themselves is by being as healthy as they possibly can be. And so, Cindy, I'm sorry, that was my daughter.
[00:20:48] So when I feel like that's that part where and I've said this in the with couples therapy as well a lot, where you can't wait almost to get to that point where no one ever wants something like betrayal, trauma to be in their marriage. But then at the end, it is almost hard to say, man, are you in a better spot now?
[00:21:06] Yeah. And you know what? It doesn't require both people working recovery for that to happen. Some of my divorced women say that very thing. It led them to their work, led them to their divorce, but their divorce was a result of them getting healthy. And it's awesome when both people work their recovery and they're both equally committed to their own individual recovery. And then the relationship just thrives. The intimacy becomes so much more than it ever was because they're both so getting so healthy.
[00:21:39] Before we get too far off of the support, too, can I just ask you your theory? Are your opinion on. Because I love when people they find a group and they get their individual help. But I do refer to I call the peanut gallery. I mean, do you find that a lot of they go to a friend and then the friends are giving this? Here's what you need to do kind of advice. What do you see that and what do you do with that?
[00:21:58] Yeah, so there's a difference between good support and bad support. And one of the main differences is this is bad support will feed and fuel a victim mentality and and they'll fuel they'll encourage you to stay stuck and but still supportive because it feels so validating and you get me and he sucks and these horrible and I'm just stuck and this is awful and good support will totally empathize. Hear you out and reflect back your emotions, explore them with you, allow you to feel what you're feeling. But good support will also be honest with you and push you and hold you accountable and care about you moving forward. And so some groups you go to can be really detrimental if they feel that victim mentality. Some groups can be really awesome if they if they are honest with you and will push you to move forward. So, yeah, that definitely exists. The peanut gallery thing. Absolutely.
[00:22:59] So do you find that most of the people that you work with are people where the the addict is willing to be a part of the treatment? Or do you find that you're seeing a lot of people where the addict is a you can go get help? But I told you I'm not going to do it anymore.
[00:23:14] I'd say just off the top of my head. I'd say about 70 percent, the addict is willing to engage in treatment as well. Now, there's a difference between I guess let's talk about willingness. Sometimes that's compliance and that's really destructive to the relationship. OK, what that is, is I'll go because you want me to go. I'm only here for you. My heart's not in this. I'm just trying to avoid you leaving me. So I'll go as compared to I'm going because I like I'm into this, I'm healing. This is I'm proactive in my own recovery and I'd say maybe 50 percent. But it goes both ways. I have some couples I work with where he's totally engaged and she's resistant and she doesn't want to move forward, which sounds crazy, but it's just such hard work and there's a lot to face. And and so she's caught up in fear and blame and she doesn't want to work moving forward. So I see both sides of it.
[00:24:14] Yeah. You feel like in those scenarios, that one you just described, when she feel when there comes the disclosure, the day, the moment where she finds out there's such that shock that it's that, look, this isn't my problem. This is your problem. Why would I need to do anything about it? You run into that.
[00:24:29] Oh, absolutely. And there's there's some truth to that. But it's one of those things. If somebody took a sledgehammer to my leg like they did, that they need to fix that. But now I'm now I'm stuck with a shattered leg. And so I'm going to need to do some rehab on that leg. But, yes, I hear I hear that all the time. I also when I run but trail trauma groups for the first time, sometimes women will come in really eager and ready to go, like, yes, I'm ready for this. A lot of times I'll come in and before I even say a word, they'll start crying or be really emotional. And it's like, oh, my gosh, I can't believe that I'm here. I can't believe this is what our marriage has come to. And so it's that they want to stay in hiding because it's a hard thing to face and tell them whether they're like it. Good for you. It took so much courage for you to come today, and then I make it safe for them there. But absolutely, it's hard. It's hard for them to engage sometimes.
[00:25:30] Do you think that some of the fears are around? They don't want to hear that their spouse try to blame them, maybe the addict or they don't want to hear that they were I don't know, whatever is going to come out. I am saying you are missing signals or I felt you were withdrawn or that you feel like that could be a problem.
[00:25:46] Well, sometimes, Tony, the truth is a lot of the women have been to therapists or church leaders or really do push back the blame onto them. Yeah, they don't want to hear that anymore. They're told that they haven't had sex enough or they've been there like that. That's the last thing I need from a professional or somebody who I don't trust help. And so why would I go get help?
[00:26:08] I'm going to isolate, isolate that audio clip. That one has got to be played over and over because I feel like nothing is more detrimental than having someone come into my office. And you do sense that hesitation and you find out that they have sat with a bishop or someone that said, well,
[00:26:21] Well, what what was your
[00:26:22] Role and or how long? How many how often were you having sex? Or and it just as a part where I want to pause the session, go
[00:26:30] That or story. It was like two weeks after D-Day. This bishop was talking to this couple and he turns to her and he says, hey, have you forgiven him? Two weeks, two weeks. There's no. And he says, well, then I'm going to need your temple recommend for her. For her, that's an extreme right. But stuff like that. Come on. And yeah, they're a little reticent to come in and have somebody tell them what is and tell them it's.
[00:26:59] I feel like that's that speaks to and I love that people are going to hear this and that they're going to resonate. They're going to say, OK, I don't know. He told me he's not going to do it anymore. I'm probably OK. I'm listening to a couple of podcasts and I'm good. But what do you say to them? And I totally want to meet the client where they're at. Don't get me wrong. Absolutely. But what do you say to the people listening right now? They kind of feel like, OK, good advice. Noted, but but I think I'm OK.
[00:27:20] Right? Well, and again, if that's where you're at, that's where you're at. And at least you're listening to this and. Yes, but such a crucial part of recovery is connection, OK? And it's just so powerful when when you can connect with other people who are in your similar situation. And I think the reason why it's so powerful is because it takes so much resiliency and vulnerability to go out and do that. You get a benefit from it. And so connection and education are really important. And so you can get your education behind the curtain, so to speak. Yeah, connection. You got to put yourself out there a little bit. And so I would highly encourage that. Yes, you do. You do go to a group, you meet with a therapist, you find a mentor or a sponsor, somebody that that you can talk openly with about where you're at.
[00:28:11] So, again, somebody that knows what betterhelp.com is not somebody that says, no, I'm sure I can figure it out or I'll Google it or.
[00:28:17] Absolutely. Somebody who really understands the trail from
[00:28:20] Yeah, and now I feel bad cause I feel like we're about to jump now. I have a I don't know, I have a zillion questions. So are you OK if we call this the all over the map section?
[00:28:28] Ok, good.
[00:28:29] So a couple of things. You said it and I don't even I was going to frame this with here's a hard question, but it's random, so I don't even have to. These are lay offs for you, I'm sure. But do you have advice for for D-Day, for disclosure and where and I'll frame it very quickly with I will have people that will they get caught or they finally decide, OK, I'm going to tell my spouse that I'm addicted or I've had an affair. And they may be Googling and it just says, hey, tell them everything. And so then then they go in and. Right. I'm going to be open about everything. And then it just causes this concept of staggered disclosure. The guy feels so relieved that he confessed or give advice. What do you say about that disclosure?
[00:29:06] A couple of things. So there's a difference between day and and like a formal disclosure. Yes.
[00:29:13] Ok, what about that?
[00:29:14] So day is when it just busts open, she finds something. It's like I was meeting with recently. I met with somebody and they found condoms in the backseat of his truck. And it just led to this conversation, to that boom. All of a sudden her whole world was different. Right. That's a formal disclosure is when you sit down and you lay things on the table and it's a chance to just flush it all out. And so if I were in the position of having a big thing to tell my spouse and knowing that it needs to be disclosed, this might sound a little weird, but I would go to a therapist first. I get some guidance, talk through some things. The way you disclose is really important and you can do so much damage to the foundation and the trust in your marriage, not because of the act. Now, the act itself did damage. Yes, yes. But the way that you come out with it and this is staggered disclosure, this trickle out effect, justifying it, rationalizing it, minimizing it in any way, it creates this thing where she feels like, well, thanks for telling me, but now I just don't know what I don't know.
[00:30:22] Absolutely. So I'm going to ask a lot of questions and I'm going to think about it. I'm going ask more questions. And and then if you weren't consistent with your story, then you must be lying. And now how do I trust you on anything?
[00:30:31] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, exactly. And the thing is, is the natural thinking, I think, for most people is this I'm going to tell her enough. So she thinks I'm being honest, but not too much because it's too uncomfortable. Yeah. And this is really tricky. And this is why working with the therapist is important, because the other side of it is telling her every last detail is also not good. And so. Well, are you telling me there's a difference between telling her what is what happened, what you can say? Yeah, I've looked at pornography five days a week for the last two years. That's one thing going and saying. I've looked at pornography with this type of woman and this size in this hair color and now you're just planting so many triggers in her head. I've had an affair is different. Then I met with this woman at this restaurant and we ate this meal. And now you're just planting triggers in her head. So don't avoid scary hard things, but also don't overdo it and plant a bunch of triggers in her head. Is that that makes sense?
[00:31:44] Yeah, it does. And I love it. And it's funny that you say so that I want to and I would love to spend some time on triggers and the whole kind of PTSD symptoms. And that's why. But I met with somebody recently who it was a guy who was struggling with marriage and thinking of divorce and that sort of thing. And then that one, of course, I say go meet with the divorce attorney and get all of your data and have questions and get everything together before you present. This is I want the divorce or so what you're saying. We need to get that in our field of going meet with a therapist and have a list of questions and have your game plan. And it's not for me because I want to manipulate her or I want but it's I care about her and I want to do this. Right.
[00:32:25] Absolutely. I love that. The thing is, it's not to manipulate her. It's for you to to gather information because you care about her.
[00:32:34] Yeah, because I like what you're saying. It can come from a great place when a guy finally said, OK, fine, I'll tell her everything. But and this is what I love about your podcast, because you guys talk about this stuff real. And I do find at times that I'm kind of still on the you know, well, I want to have people come to these conclusions and things on their own. And I don't want them to feel like I'm shooting on them or. But what I love what you're talking about is I'll go. The one I hear often is objectification, for example. So if a guy is just dumping everything I like where you're saying there's these specific triggers and that he's planted it, then I'll hear a woman say, wait, have you ever looked at my friend and thought about her? And then he's like, OK, I just Googled. I got to be super honest. Yes, I have, you know. What have you ever looked at this girl and this one? And then it's like now she is living in a. World of triggers, and he felt like he was doing the right thing, right? Don't you ever get those?
[00:33:23] Well, Tony, here's the thing that I this is a hard topic. Yes. When I when I meet with the couple, there's a couple. She would flip through Facebook and pull up pictures of their friends and say she's attractive. Right. You see attractive. Right. And so you came in to me and said, be honest with her. And so she goes in. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so she goes out in their small town and sees all these women. And and so then he's like, well, that didn't work. And so she does it again and he's. No, no. And so she comes in, it's like he's lying to me. And I said to him, let's be honest with her. And he looked at me like, what are you talking about? Be honest with her. And he's like, well, I have I tell her if they're attractive and what he's not honest with her because the reality is when she's triggered like that. Yes. His honest truth is, honey, I'm not comfortable with this right now. This doesn't work for me. I'm happy to be honest with you. But if you could go talk to Branon or if if we could work through this before we go down the list of attractive women on Facebook. Right. That's that's what I want to do. So it's a boundary for him. And now it might look to her like, no, you're just avoiding this. Then you're just and in a way it's true. But if he can own it and step into it and say, look, I care about us, I care about our safety, this isn't something that's healthy for us right now instead of being way too compliant. Yes. Way to avoidant and lying about it. He's not going to create safety that way.
[00:34:55] I love that because now I throw my couples hat on and we're really trying to that's one of those where I say, OK, we got to trust the process a little bit. We got to secure the connection, the old cliche. We got to work on the roots and then the leaves maybe aren't going to feel as triggering or as heavy. But right now, if we're just picking out those, it's going to be yeah, it's not going to be pretty. So you're up that connection and then it's kind of I then maybe. Yeah, she's cute. And then the wife told me not. I thought you you're nuts. But we're not having that conversation at the beginning.
[00:35:21] Absolutely. Yes. It's the example I always give is my wife made this dish and it was like she spent all day making it was like she puts it in front of me and I eat it. And she's like, how is it? What am I supposed to do, Tony?
[00:35:37] It was a great misbranded, whatever it was, even if it was tuna fish casserole. Oh, man, that was good.
[00:35:42] Yeah, right. And the truth is. So I tell her something like this. Like, hon, like I so appreciate your hard work. I love you. Thank you. It's not my favorite. I wouldn't I probably wouldn't put it on the menu. And she's a little disappointed. But for me to maintain trust in my relationship with her, I need to be able to tolerate her disappointment and have the strength enough. To be honest with her, I can still be kind and loving. And so then when she makes dinner the next day, it's and it's good and I'm like, heck, yeah, this is amazing. She knows. I mean it. Yes, it's the same, it's the same thing between a couple. Right. For him to be able to be authentic and honest about who he is and know who he is. That's what we'll build trust in the relationship brand.
[00:36:28] I'm very open about my ad on my podcast. What was that? What was that dish? I'm dyin
[00:36:33] Here. It was chickpea curry.
[00:36:35] Oh, I do like a good curry.
[00:36:36] Yeah, but it was vegetarian. Just I don't know like coconut in it and.
[00:36:43] Ok, all right. Well I love that though because even and again, back to couples mode. I'm a huge emotionally focused therapy and EMT fan and we do want to be able to share our truths. And I one of those underlying principles is it's OK to have a differing opinion. And our goal is not to destroy the other person's reality.
[00:37:00] It's one of the old like when I was trained, I was trained a lot under some people where I learned a lot of what not to do. One of the things that I learned was at the beginning of recovery, the addict doesn't have a leg to stand on. He needs to shut up and he needs to comply and he needs to not have boundaries. There couldn't be anything further from the truth. Does the addict need boundaries? Absolutely not just for him and his recovery and understanding who he is, but also to rebuild the trust in the relationship. Not being boundary for him is not being honest. And the last thing she needs is for him not to be honest. And so it's not just hunkering down and just like trying to do everything you possibly can to make her happy. The thing that's going to make her happy is when she feels integrity there from you and strength there. Right.
[00:37:54] And I feel like that's where the individual work becomes so important. I always when I'm working with men, for example, I do that right. I hear you and I want to hear your truths. But where does that come from? And is it being worked through a manipulation filter if a guy is being really, really honest? I love that. I love to tell the story of how a long day and driving home and feeling down and realizing halfway home that, OK, what's my goal here with this feeling down? And it's wow, I want to come. And everybody go, oh, man, dad, you work so hard, and I was like, I don't want that. I want to bust the door, open everybody dad's home and I'm pumped. Am I being manipulative, lovingly manipulative, unaware, manipulative.
[00:38:29] Right. Well, and that's what's so tricky with addiction is denial, drama, manipulation. It's so automatic and run so deep that a lot of times if you've been if you've been stuck in your addiction for so long, you don't really know your truth. Exactly. Those through this denial thing. And and it's hard to trust it. And that's where a good support system can really help, is to bounce things off of of a buddy in recovery or a good therapist who can be like really feels manipulative. Yeah, right. Who are you really what really is your value, your truth here with this thing.
[00:39:07] Ok, can you do you mind talking triggers and talk about how you feel. What is a trigger. Do you do you encourage this one. We'll say the woman is the better way to express triggers. What is the addict is supposed to do with triggers? This is the part I feel that can get tricky and I know what I feel is the right thing. But you are the expert literally. It says it on your podcast. So this I'm excited about this.
[00:39:28] Right. So triggers are just anything that triggers your midbrain, your survival response, your SO triggers that emotion, triggers a behavior to react. So it can be a smell. It can be you see something, an event, something happens and you go into your emotional mind, you're ready to to do something, fight flight or freeze. And so with betrayal, trauma, it's trauma. They have trauma triggers and things that aren't really based in reality can end up triggering them like crazy. It's like my buddy in Hawaii blasting off a bunch of fireworks and he went in and just stuck his head under a pillow and was shaking. And the he's a combat veteran who was on the front lines. And so it makes total sense. But if you look at it, it doesn't make much sense. We're just firing off some fireworks. He has that trauma response because of his life experiences. So he's going into a survival mode with betrayal, trauma. Trauma is real. So if you get home five minutes late from work and she's freaking out, it makes total sense that she is OK. I love her. And her triggers are one of the best opportunities for the addict. But if he can see it, is that. Yes, because usually he'll take it personally or he'll be really uncomfortable with it when when she's triggered. If you can hold space for her, if you can be an asset for her to process through those emotions, if she wants you to, when you become somebody who connects to her in her scariest moments, not somebody who adds on to her scariest moments, it's an opportunity. I mean,
[00:41:10] It is a opportunity to connect. And that's I love what you're saying that I want God. I can't imagine how hard that would be for a guy. But to. Right. I want the woman to say, all right, I drove by the store or I saw this girl or I smelled the smell and I was triggered. I because I want the guy to turn to and say thank you.
[00:41:25] Yeah. Tell me about it. I want to I want to know how you feel and who you are. And there's little tricks and techniques. You probably won't get into those today, but things that he can do to help her process that trigger. But first and foremost, he takes his own shame, resiliency that triggers usually probably about him, like, why are you a cheater? Why did you do this to me? Why? I was wondering if you're going to hurt me again, are you? And for him to say, no, I'm not. No, not. Or for him not to say when are you going to get over this, but for him to just be like, oh, my gosh, you're freaked out right now and I want to hear your pain. I had a good buddy of mine, actually, an old client, good buddy of mine. His wife woke up three in the morning and he was on his phone at the end of the bed. And she's triggered I mean, duh, I think that and his history is acting out on his phone with pornography. And so she's telling him like, hey, like, what are you doing? And she freaks out. And the old him would have been like, oh my gosh, I've been sober for two years. What's wrong with you? Can't you believe? And he just stopped and thought, oh my gosh, I can't imagine with what you've been through waking up in the middle of the night and seeing on the phone like this. Yeah. She's like, I bet you're freaked out right now. And that's you're not in your head, Tony. That's and that's what you're looking for, is to get them to nod their head. Oh, yeah. You get me. Yeah. You understand me. And I'm OK to to feel this trigger. And that's what will kill the trigger. Absolutely. If in that moment he says you're crazy or just get over it or that's not what I was doing, it'll amp that trigger up. Right.
[00:43:08] Go to the more. And I always feel like that. The left, Sujan says is attachment injury apology. You've really those right. And it's that man I'm sorry I put you. A spot where you feel that way when you see me at the end of the bed and I'm sorry for the times that I'm not even aware of, that you probably go to that place and wonder and sit with that, which I know can be so uncomfortable.
[00:43:28] Yes, absolutely. So the relationship has a lot of opportunity to heal because of the pain and because of the wounds. And it's a silver lining, I think, that God gave to help repair things. When what I'm saying is when there's a lot of pain, there's a lot of fear, there's a lot of emotion, which means there's a lot of opportunity for connection like that. Yeah. And if the addict can see it that way and and learn how to step into that with her, then they'll start to strengthen their bond. And it's a beautiful thing.
[00:44:00] But I had I had a client share a quote with me and I'm drawing a blank right. The second on the author. But the end of the quote says, Jumping through the abyss and finding out on the other end there's a featherbed. And I feel like.
[00:44:11] That's right. That is the concept. Yes. Yeah. But Tony takes the opposite of what an addict has done his entire life, which OK, which is avoid vulnerability. Right. Is to learn how to isolate and disconnect and go into denial. And so it takes learning how to do the opposite of that. That will really help her, will help the relationship and help him strengthen his own recovery.
[00:44:35] Brad, do you recommend that women in this scenario express triggers as often as they can, or do you feel like hang on to those or.
[00:44:44] Yeah, I, I do think expressing triggers is a good thing. I would encourage a support system for her. So I might call a sponsor a group member and just say, hey, I got to surrender something over. And that sponsor might say, yeah, you're really standing in it. The facts are just this. Let's just stick with the facts. Let's surrender it over to me and you're good. And as long as she's good, great. But every last little trigger I I've worked with a couple where they go out in public and they can even go out in public because it's trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger. Right now I'm not saying she shouldn't have those triggers, but she needs to have some tools and work through those triggers outside of him sometimes because she's always turning to him to say, you're good, you're safe, you're OK. Then her safety completely depends on him, which is nice.
[00:45:35] Yeah. And I like where you go back with that, where the importance of the individual work as well as I do feel like if individual work's being done and the point of the triggers is to this opportunity for connection. And then I feel like when she gets to the point where she knows if I bring a trigger to him, I know now he is going to be there for me. He's going to own this. So maybe now it's time for me to do a little mindfulness or work through this.
[00:45:57] Exactly. Exactly. It's interesting because sometimes the men that I work with or the the addicts that I work with, they're like, when when is she going to do her own work? And and what's interesting is when they've done their own work and they focus on them and they learn how to empathize, the light reflects back on her where she's oh my gosh, he's there for me. He's honest with me. He's empathetic. This is my stuff. Now, I got to figure this out, right? Yeah. Yeah, OK, we
[00:46:23] Can talk all day and I feel so bad, I feel bad that I have this this so this time for sure. But I think in the perfect world though, it's perfect to say, man, if there are questions that we didn't answer today, first, I would love to send them my way and I would love to see if we could do another episode at some point in the near future. I'd love to, but even more so. Go to your podcast, because I almost guarantee that if you go to your podcast, you guys are probably covered because I would love to talk about things like intimacy and talking about sex and all of those kind of things. And I know you have episodes on there about.
[00:46:51] Yeah, yeah. Like like you said, we don't avoid the hard topics, which is we just we just finished sex. Temba So we talk about sex all during sex. Temba OK, and yeah. Check us out the betrayed, the addicted and the expert. Yeah.
[00:47:07] Or I say my new my new best friend brand is the expert. You play the role, the expert, which is an absolute pleasure to talk with you. I love that we talk about authenticity and stuff. The reason I don't have as much time as I had wanted to is because when we got on when we started talking to each other before the recording, I know it was it's nice to talk to you and I feel like we could have talked for days. Well, I get that same sense on your podcast, and I think it's very relatable. It's conversational. And so my jealousy has now been replaced with admiration. And so, I mean, I highly recommend that people go check that out. And I would love to have you again on in the not too distant future.
[00:47:37] Awesome. Thanks, Tony, and
[00:47:39] Thank you so much. I'm going to stop here, but I.