The Gift of Forgiveness
Decades of my life were unknowingly spent in a home with a person addicted to pornography—first with my father and then with my husband. Both were outwardly active in the Church, and their secrecy and deception fostered condescending views, comments, and actions toward women in general and toward me in particular. The depth of confusion, betrayal, and scarring that occurred in my life from both of these situations is indescribable.
When I married my husband, he had recently returned from a faithful full-time mission and attended the temple weekly. Even with these faithful behaviors, his treatment of me during our courtship was, at times, not what it should have been. I later realized that because of the situation of my family while I was growing up, I thought that his behavior was normal and acceptable.
After suffering through years of job losses, undesired moves, and periods of unmet needs of my family due to my husband’s pornography addiction, I came to realize that a change was necessary. I had often heard that you marry your best friend, but I had lost that friendship with my husband. I finally recognized the deception and betrayal present in my marriage and knew that a true friend wouldn’t treat me like that. At this time, I also began to experience domestic violence. I knew that my growing up years in a home with my parents’ marriage tainted by addiction had caused me much confusion, pain, and doubt, along with long-term repercussions. I wanted my daughters to have a different experience than I had so that they could know that they could expect and have a better life. The Spirit testified to me that for my family it was vital that I break free from the chains of oppression that arise from pornography both for myself and for my children by divorcing my husband. My children were the biggest motivation in my life to get out of the situation we were in.
Knowing what I had to do meant stepping into the unknown with small children (one a tiny infant) and without a good way to support myself. I had been out of the workplace for over a decade, and daycare would cost more than I could possibly earn. During this time of uncertainty, I was strengthened by the Lord’s presence and comfort in my life. I know that Heavenly Father placed people in my life who could offer me comfort because they had been through similar experiences. I learned to value and appreciate my relationship with Heavenly Father more than ever.
In an effort to develop some understanding and sympathy for addictions, I began attending the LDS 12-step Addiction Recovery Program meetings. At first I felt resentful about the problems in my life that had been caused by someone else’s life choices. However, as I attended the ARP meetings, my whole perspective changed because I saw the effect of the Atonement in the lives of people who were recovering from addictions. I learned that the Atonement is great enough to match the pain of addiction and to heal those suffering from an addiction. I felt that same power in my own process of healing.
After I had worked the steps for some years, read many self-help books, and spoken with several counselors, my bishop counseled me to become involved in Church singles activities. I found a single-parenting class and began attending. I met the most wonderful man in the class. We were married, and we have spent the last several years together building a life of love, beauty, peace, prosperity, and fun. Because he has safe-guarded himself from pornography, he is able to love me fully, communicate effectively, and exercise his priesthood honorably. He even washed most of the dishes and laundry for a few years so I could graduate from college. I am now gainfully employed to help provide some of the necessities of life for all of us as we work together side by side to blend two families.
One of the greatest gifts I received during this time was the gift of forgiveness. I wanted to forgive those in my life who had hurt me, but I didn’t know how. Through the help of inspired resources, I began learning how to forgive. The forgiveness I now feel is only possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness was something that I believe I came to earth to learn. I value that aspect of my trials. I know that Heavenly Father loves each person on this earth and I recognize that we can each only navigate our own path on this earth.
I am a changed person because of what I learned through this painful experience. I’m a different teacher, a different spouse, a different parent, a different friend.