Friday, February 15, 2013

From A Daughter: A Guest Post About Pornography Addiction

by J.G.

I remember I think it was around the age of 6 when I first noticed it.
My father's frightened face when I came into his "office" in the house without knocking.
Yelling quickly ensued.

I thought all father's hated being disturbed by their children.
After all, he was always busy with work.

My mother often cried, little did I know that it was from loneliness.
I thought it was from the babies and the depression that often came along with them.

It was when I was 14 in Florida on vacation to Disneyworld with my father and two younger siblings.
My father had a room to himself.
He was often grouchy.
He lied.
Often.

My sister had finally told my mother what she had found on that office computer
And with her courage, so did I.

I told her of the videos I'd seen but quickly shut the door in denial.
The father who taught be to be righteous was watching and looking at that?
Never.

My mother confronted finally, after years, of what she already knew all along.

I couldn't look at him for days.
I didn't want to bring friends over.
I was disgusted, my father had turned the human body--
something beautiful and sacred--
into the grime you find in the gutter.

I was in a city of angels. Utah children rarely spoke of such things, and if we did it was in the sacredness of our 16 year old cars.

My father and mother did attend therapy.
And for two years everything seemed great and fine.
My father's personality had changed, no longer feeling the intense weight of secrets.

It was a day I came back from school, senior year my father yelled at me in that same tone for leaving my shoes on the stairs.
I knew it was back, he left to his high paying job, I again checked the computer, and in fact found what I was looking for.
My heart sank deep.
I kept it to myself.
I had seen my mother's eyes when I had told her the first time.
It was not a look I envied to see again.

My brother came home that same night, my older sisters long moved out.
He told me he had stopped by my father's work, my father was not there, and he had found the same.

He cried. He had no knowledge of this happening before.
I did not.
It was up to me now to tell my mother.
And I did.

My mother was hurt.
And I hated that I felt like it was my fault for making her so.

I told her that this time, she needed to tell him the truth.
It was the children who had found it.

My father cried to my brother and I begging for forgiveness.
My brother, disappointed and angry said nothing and left.

My feminist side wanted to yell in disgust, leave and never speak to him again.
He turned to me trying to make excuses for why he did it.
I'd heard it all before.

I hated him for hurting my mother.
For hurting my sisters.
For hurting my brother.
For hurting me.

He sat there expecting the sentence for forgiveness.
But forgiveness does not come that easy.

I told him the truth.
I was tired of being the parent and mediator in his home.
It just wasn't fair to be put here. This subject shouldn't be my business. And instead, I'm always finding myself here anyway.

And it was at that moment something more than what I thought I had in me settled.

My father needed help.
He was a proud man.
He only attended therapy a couple of times and then quit.

My father is a man.
Not a God or something more.
And this is what women and men do.
They mess up.
And yes, sometimes the situations are messy and confusing and you hate the people involved so much it hurts.
It hurts to love.

But as everyone was giving up on my father, I couldn't.
Redemption is one of the few precious gifts we are given here on earth.
I got my mother back on board to help him again.

I left and traveled the world.
I saw the love of Paris.
The brutally honest Italy.
The whimsical London.

More countries in between.

And last, but not least, India.
A place where I found my soul again by helping souls of others.
I found my faith again.
Faith in the imperfections of people and earth and how we as humans are always and constantly evolving.
We must always be forgiving.

I arrived home.
And my father had changed once again.
This time for the better.

Will he ever go back?
Maybe, but that will come and eventually go.
It always does.

Since then I have moved far away from Utah.
A place I felt had too many secrets, I wanted to live life out in the open.
Open about sin, and righteousness.

This story is for all the daughters.
Let us forgive our fathers.
(and mothers, women have pornography addictions as well.)

26 comments:

mere said...

"Since then I have moved far away from Utah.
A place I felt had too many secrets, I wanted to live life out in the open.
Open about sin, and righteousness."
this is what i like about this series.

Bri!!! said...

Wow!

Giulia said...

This is a GREAT post. Great message. I am Italian and I can be brutally honest. :) On this subject and on many others. I love the whole post and specifically that you, at the end, emphasized that porn addiction has no gender. Sometimes we forget about that. I also love the strength of your love which comes from your inner confidence in who you are.

Eat My Scabs said...

beautifully written. life can be incredibly hard and unfair, especially when you are a child.

And I love the way you described that there is no way to pass through it without living in the open.

My daughter has taught me it's all about love and compassion and honesty.

Thank you for your courage.

and to cjane, thank you...this series is being passed around in our community. you are helping other live in the open too.

Rebecca Hunt said...

"Since then I have moved far away from Utah.
A place I felt had too many secrets, I wanted to live life out in the open.
Open about sin, and righteousness."
Best part of this whole post... Why is our culture so secretive?

ClancyPants said...

i agree with mere and rebecca, even though I live in Idaho. it's not a utah thing but a mormon thing, the secrets. Why can't we live from authenticity without fear of our peers?

Hope Sparrow said...

Beautiful post:) You are so brave! It's hard being vulnerable when it comes to breaking the silence about addiction, but it's a necessary for healing.

Thank you for sharing your story of forgiveness.

carla thorup said...

i love the idea of living life out in the open. thank you for sharing from another daughter.

Smile said...

Thank you for this one! I have been that daughter as well, and have seen my father struggle for 25+ years. His addictions have destroyed 2 marriages (and families...which incldues 12 total children) it wasn't until recently that it is something we have been able to communicate about, though I have known since I was 5. So thank you for talking about it.....it is a real problem and there are many victims.

Dawn Paine said...

When I read the lines starting with "My father is a man..." and through to the end, a feeling of such spiritual intensity swept over my entire body that surprised me and left me almost joyous--because the spirit is always such. I felt the love you offered your father and the love our Father and Brother offer us. I have hated and hated the boys/men in my life that have been addicted to pornography so much--so much. Your compassion helped me to see this degrading, destroying disease a little differently. I feel so blessed to have read this. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was a horrifying story, beautifully told.

And C-Jane: thank you for providing the forum for these stories to take place.

Kelli Anderson said...

gut-wrenching and beautiful.

Dre + Drew - Pacific Northwest Living - DuPont, WA said...

The more people share the more people will get comfortable with sharing. Last Sunday in Sacrament a man have a talk with his family. There talks were amazing because they shared their stories. The father told the ward he had been excommunicated and how became back. My father was excommunicated this past year and I have only told a few people. I commended this man for telling his story. He touched people's lives for sharing. We help others when we share our stories, the good, bad and the ugly. Thank you for these series thank you

Carolina Nightingale said...

Beautifully written, truthfully written, heartwrenchingly old. Thank you for sharing a portion of your soul with us. So many in the gospel either have suffered under a similar story, or know someone very close to them who has, and from all of them, or us, I am so garetful for your courage in saying things that need to be said. One of the great secrets of pornography addiction is the pretend life of normalcy, even while the hearts of the mother and children are cracking into shattered pieces. This story is not told, and every time it is not told, those shatters of the former life, the lost dream, embed themselves in greater and greater pain in those who are grieving. Through the telling, this is how healing can begin for others. So thank you, from those who do not yet have the words to share their own stories, as well.

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Creole Wisdom said...

Another beautifully written, well done piece. I think this one rings differently from the others simply because it is from a unique perspective, an adult/young adult child of an addict. To whoever you are, anonymous, thank you for sharing your story.

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Why can't we live from authenticity without fear of our peers?

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This! This! There are many things I love about the LDS church, but (in my experiences) authenticity is not really there.

I believe God's commandments are so that a) we can show obedience b) we can simply live a better life. I found many times that people weren't following them out of their heart (and I've been there, and I respect that-- fake it until you make it), following them and then living secret life or else unable to follow them and thus were judged by the community. There needs to be more grace.

The LDS church community I dream about/hope for is less concerned with a check and balances of obedience resulting in callings/missions/recommends but more so with the whole person and who they are in Christ. I get it that "no unclean thing" can enter in the presence of God/the Temple, but it begs the question- aren't we all unclean to some degree? Obeying the law of chastity, but racking up credit card debt and living beyond your means? The lack of authenticity is frustrating.

chalice said...

i'm one of those daughters. thank you for posting this.

hopeandhealingadmin said...

"Why can't we live from authenticity without fear of our peers?"

I think the answer is in another comment:

"The more people share the more people will get comfortable with sharing"

These are hard topics. People don't want to admit they struggle with hard things. And that is also part of how addiction works. The lie is that you can kick it yourself. So it stays in isolation.

I'm so, so grateful to cjane for giving people a voice so that more talking can be done about this topic.

But I think we ALL have a responsibility to help our culture be less shame-based. It's easy to suggest that "others" should be more open, but I think we each need to decide we will do our part to be vulnerable. How many of us really choose to talk about our own weakness?

God bless those here who are being vulnerable.

BTW, to the author of this post, it was powerful and moving and, as someone noted above, a much-appreciated perspective. So many children suffer in silence and because they are children, they have no one to be their voice. May we all be sensitive and watch out for children who may be crying out for help.

Also, adult children of addicts need support, too. (That's why there's an Al-Anon for adult children (and loved ones) of alcoholics. There's also S-Anon (or S-Ateen) and the Church's family support program for loved ones of those who struggle with sexual addiction. FWIW.

hopeandhealingadmin said...

I'm also going to put another plug in for the documentary, Shamed. If you have a few extra dollars to spend on a worthy cause, you could help tackle the culture of shame that often surrounds this topic in Christian communities.

http://vimeo.com/45676200

http://www.shamedthemovie.com/

marnee said...

thank you!

Brian said...

Beautifully expressed thoughts. There is so much guilt, shame, humiliation and embarrassment associated with pornography addiction that family members can either add to or help the addict overcome. Your attitude will help.

I'm also grateful that you pointed out one of the consequences of all pornography viewers: an increase in agner towards others. The resulting reduction in the capacity to love combined with the self-hatred that comes from viewing always increases anger towards others.

By the way, help for porn addicts is increasing all the time. In addition to the 12-step programs that are commonly known, many other programs are helping.

Thanks for sharing,
BKB, author, Power Over Pornography

http://www.amazon.com/Power-Over-Pornography-Overcoming-ebook/dp/B008RCDDCA

Dre + Drew - Pacific Northwest Living - DuPont, WA said...

I wanted to share another story that touched me. A sister in our ward has been a member her entire life, one of the only members in her family. She comes to church on and off. My visiting teaching companion is her friend and visiting teacher. My visiting teacher was telling me a little about this sister and her struggles. The sister struggles with smoking. When my visiting teacher went to her home one day she was smoking on the front porch. The sister felt ashamed and quickly tried to hide and put the ciagrette out. My sweet visiting teacher said, "don't put it out on my account. I love you. I am here to visit with you not to judge." The sister felt so loved and relieved. She mentioned how a lot of the others sister from the ward tell her to put it out and preach about not smoking and how she feels so judged. When i heard this it saddens me. My sweet visiting teacher said we all have things we struggle with. Her struggle is more present and on the outside, others struggle on the inside and they are not so present but they are all things that keep us from God. That is why we share and love unconditionally and SHARE with each other our experiences.

Cathy said...

My friend married and later found out about her husband's porn addiction. They have gone on to develop a program for it.Their website is settingcaptivesfree.com. I personally don't know a lot about it, but perhaps it will be helpful to someone.

Brandi Melton said...

My husband and I went through this and it's very hard on the spouse as well as the person and it almost ended our marriage. My husband still to this day has some problems, but I'm there for him to get him and us through it. I also blame myself for what happened to us b/c I went along with him b/c I thought that would make him happier and in turn would make us happier, I found out that just wasn't the case It made me very unhappy. It also ended up in an affair on his part. But I made my stand and told him "It's me and the kids or that stuff" and gratefully he choose us and it's been a little rocky at times but getting much better. So if you hve this happen to you. Pray and ask God for guidance.

T said...

Thank you J.G.! I am so deeply sorry that you and other children have to even consider these issues, let alone experience such heartbreak and disappointment. Pornography hurts. People who argue otherwise would have a hard time doing so after hearing how it has affected you and your siblings. It's an inexcusable shame, and I am so sorry you have been hurt in a way no child should ever hurt. I am so sorry that your innocence was stolen from you and for the very adult issues that were cast on you at such a young age. IT JUST ISN'T RIGHT...I can say that with 100% certainty. We need to stop intellectualizing pornography and look at its real victims. You have shown a light on pornography that illuminates it in raw clarity. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

delilas said...

I love to read C.Jane but when this series started I almost called it quits. I think mostly because it scares the crap out of me. ..but I have read all the posts and this one really touched me of how a family works. I am not a CJane quiter, :).
Life is messy!!! Mormon or not, resident of Utah or not, male or female, *crap* happens. Why are us humans so messy and we want to hide our mess?

Shawna Faye said...

This is great series! Why is it such a taboo subject amongst church members? Especially here in Utah?