Finding Myself Again
Shortly after I became engaged to my husband, he confessed he had battled a pornography problem in the past. He was aware it might break off our engagement, but he wanted to be completely honest with me.
After thinking and praying about it, I decided to continue with our engagement. I had been taught in my youth about the Atonement and forgiveness and felt his problem was in the past. I knew it wasn’t my job to judge him for something he had already repented of and did not feel pornography would be a problem in our marriage.
But five short months after we married, the addiction came back. As his wife, I determined that I had to help him fix his problem. The equality in our marriage was suddenly altered. We went from being husband and wife to Mr. Sinner and Mrs. Saint. I felt I should save him because it was my duty. However, five years, two children, and one move later the situation was still the same.
The failure to overcome my husband’s problem did not make sense to me. I had given him books, articles, and scriptures to read, songs to listen to, and advice on how to handle his problem, yet he was still actively viewing pornography. What hurt the most is that he began to lie to me about it. Feeling alone in my grief, one night I locked the bathroom door, crawled fully-clothed into an empty bathtub, pulled the curtain closed, and cried uncontrollably. My prayer that day was not a reverent heart-felt expression of my feelings; rather, it was a rage of unfiltered emotion pouring from the depths of my soul.
My mind raced with questions: Was this the end of my marriage? Was this what I had kept myself virtuous and pure for, to live in a marriage infiltrated by pornography? Was I strong for sticking it out this long or just incredibly stupid? Who could possibly help me?
My stream of thoughts slowed down just long enough for my Father in Heaven to tell me exactly what to do—get a Priesthood blessing. I was scared to share what was going on in my personal life with others; but that day, sharing my pain seemed like a welcome relief. I knew it had to be done.
I soon after asked my brother for a blessing. As I returned home from his house, I felt a need to find a success story of my same situation. I told myself, “If I could just find one story, one person who had overcome pornography, I could make it through one more day.” Luckily, I did find one that night. I actually found more than one. I even discovered books written by an LDS couple about their experiences as a pornography addict and a spouse who tried to manage his addiction just like I was doing. I immediately ordered both books. The day they came in the mail, I devoured the wife’s book.
At first, it was hard to accept the fact that my husband had an addiction. I willingly admitted that he had a problem, but not an addiction. The thought made me shudder. The more I read, the easier it was to accept. I was living with someone who had a pornography addiction. I also learned that I could not expect myself to fix my husband. My mind screamed to me that the book was wrong, but my heart felt the truth of it.
In my reading, I read about the importance of attending a 12-step meeting. Again, my mind told me the book was wrong. I felt that therapy and meetings were for emotionally damaged people. Opening up to the idea of attending meant admitting that I was emotionally damaged. I wanted to believe I wasn’t, but I knew deep down that I needed help.
After reading the final chapter in the book, I wrote a letter to my husband and had him sit next to me while I read it out loud. I explained to him that I was putting up some boundaries, and the first thing I needed was to take myself out of his addiction by physically removing myself. I spent a weekend alone in a motel a short mile away from the temple. I started the weekend with a temple session and then spent time pondering. I prayed for hours and read my scriptures, writing down everything I felt. I attended one more temple session before returning home.
Once again with my family, I had a clear view of what I needed to do. Through the Addiction Recovery Program, I found a support group for wives of pornography addicts and drove the 45 minute stretch each way so I could attend the meetings weekly. Although I still found it hard to function on a normal level, each day seemed to get a little better. I relied heavily on my Savior in a way I never had before. The program worked miracles for me because it brought me to my Savior. My Savior helped me to grieve and understand addiction.
As I neared the year mark of that dark day I had pled for help, I found myself on my knees with a smile on my face. I thanked my Father in Heaven for my trial. It had brought me closer to the Savior than I had ever been before, and I was sincerely grateful.
Thanks to recovery, I have found myself again. I have rediscovered my talents and have found what truly makes me happy. While I was busy being Mrs. Saint, I had let myself get completely lost in my husband’s addiction. It consumed me as much as it did him. Today, through the Savior and the principles taught in the Addiction Recovery Program, I am able to move positively forward.
I am still in recovery and bad days still come, but now I am emotionally equipped to handle them because I know where my support system is. I’ve learned great lessons about hope, faith, and true Christ-like love. Because of my experience, I can love deeper, live fuller, and smile brighter.