Monday, March 21, 2011

A Story of Addiction

I am a wife.
iStock_000003691772XSmallI am a mother.
I am a wife dealing with my husband’s pornography addiction.

When I first found out I just sat there staring at the computer screen. My mind reeled as I took it all in. What did this mean? Surely it was just a mistake…but what if it isn’t? I can’t describe the pain I felt in my heart. Truly, it was breaking.

After I got over the shock I went into planning mode. What was I going to do? Did this mean divorce? Separation? Counseling at the very least? I informed my husband that we would be going to see the Bishop as soon as possible to sort things out. My husband very willingly made the appointment, and spent the ensuing days walking on eggshells.

Here I am thinking this is a big enough deal to even consider using the “D” word, as we walk into our Bishop’s office. As I sit there I am amazed to hear words like, “oh, it’s not that bad.” “It could be a lot worse” “I’m proud of you.” Did I really just hear the word proud? I was in complete shock. Our Bishop told my husband to keep on trying to do his best, feel free to partake of the sacrament and attend the temple, and then gave me a little nod and let me know how great it was that I was being supportive.

Five minutes later on the short walk home from the church I decided I had completely overreacted and that it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Fast forward almost 2 years later to a sketchy phone call from my bank about cancelling our cards because of some fraud use. Something just didn’t feel right about it. I knew the spirit was prompting me to do some checking out myself. Sure enough, that measly $2.38 that was suspicious was to a pornography site. My husband actually came to me before I could get to him and let me know what he had done. I packed my bags. How could I live with this? Didn’t he understand what he was doing to me? I had never felt uglier, more undesirable, or just plain slimy in my life. How come he didn’t love me enough? How come I wasn’t enough for him?

“Aside from abuse, I know of no other marital issue that affects the very soul of women more than pornography consumption by a spouse.” -Jill C. Manning, PhD, LMFT

That night was the longest night of my life. I yelled, and cried, and begged. I went through every emotion in the book, finally settling on numb. I called my aunt to let her know I would be there tomorrow with the kids and I didn’t know how long we would stay. It was the middle of winter, and a horrible storm was coming that night. She didn’t think that the 7 hour drive was a good idea, and started prodding about the reasoning behind the trip. I broke down and told her everything. She listened and gave words of encouragement. After I got it off my chest she said, “You know he is a good man. You know he loves you. You know he wants to be better. So you need to stay and figure things out.”

She was right. I owed it to myself to work on things, and that would be impossible from 7 hours away.

Again my husband willingly made the appointment to see the Bishop, and we said very little to each other through the day as we waited for our evening appointment. As I sat in the same Bishop’s office, I had a great confirmation from Heavenly Father letting me know that our Bishop is called of Him. That he knows what he is doing, that he loves us, and wants only the best for us, and that all counsel he would give us was truly from Heavenly Father.

This appointment was different than the last. Only because I made sure to stress to him just how serious our situation had become. Our poor Bishop had no idea what I was feeling the last time we talked because I didn’t tell him. As we discussed the situation, his advice was much the same only this time I knew he was right. My husband needed the sacrament and the temple to get through this. He really was doing “pretty good” compared to some other situations the Bishop made us aware of. What was different was the support he provided for me. He set up some counseling at LDS Family Services, and strongly encouraged us to attend the 12 step meetings provided through them as well. For my husband there was the group for the addicted, but for me there was the support group for the spouse of an addicted loved one.

I can’t express what this particular addiction did to my self-worth. As I sat in my first support group meeting I realized that I was surrounded by strong, courageous, beautiful women. All of whom were experiencing the same thing as me. Through these meetings I have come to understand who I am, and that my husband’s addiction has absolutely nothing to do with me. I have come to think of this trial as an opportunity to grow in ways I never thought possible. My relationship with my Heavenly Father is better than it’s ever been, and it’s only going to get better. I have come to truly believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ, and to know that I can find hope and healing.

Are things perfect now? No. Is my husband 100% recovered? No. Do I still have days that I feel utterly lost and hopeless? Yes. But those days are getting fewer and farther between as I come to understand the power of addiction, and the infinite beauty of the atonement.

Due to the sensitive nature of the subject and to protect their privacy, we are publishing this anonymously. However, she really feels that sharing this story is something she needs to do.

“I feel strongly that this is a story that needs to be told. When starting this journey I really thought I was alone so I was naturally very surprised to realize that I'm not. This is happening in more homes than we know. I heard that on average 11 families in each ward are dealing with pornography addiction, and the very sad part is that most of the wives in those homes are in the dark. This subject needs to find it's way to the light. Satan's greatest tool is keeping things hidden and secret, so I think one of the best things we can do to protect ourselves is to get it out in the open.”

For more information and statistics on pornography, visit this website.

For resources on combating pornography visit www.combatingpornography.org or call your local LDS Family Services to find a support group near you.

*Edited to Add. I came across this message and thought it was appropriate to include with this story. -Alicia

5 comments:

Jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roxie said...

I was dating a guy once when he came to me and told me he was addicted to pornography and went to topless bars. He went once right after he dropped me off from a date. I felt absolutely ugly and slimy like you described. I felt like I was a fraud. We went our separate ways, which is much easier since we were only dating. There are still moments, even now years later, when it haunts me though. The peace of the atonement is real. And it can heal all wounds and scars.

Morgan -Ing said...

What a brave woman you are! So many women struggle and never ever find help or peace. Good for you for standing tall. You are brave and amazing. :)

BrightFam said...

Wow. I'm glad you felt better the second time around. There's no way to know how to respond until it happens to you. I think it would be easy to judge, and even harder to forgive. I wish you and your husband true happiness.

Carolina Nightingale said...

Iwish we could comment anonymously, not because I'm ashamed of our experiences, either, but because I truly understand, and wish you well and hope for the future. I cannot write all that I would hope to, therefre, but hope you understand when I send love and understanding. love-T

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