Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Smallest Chance: A Guest Post About Pornography Addiction


by Anonymous

This is a story of hope.

My husband’s addiction to pornography was the world and I was Atlas. See me, a young, shaking wife and mother. I’m standing on a tight-rope, holding the world on my back, gripping for my life and everyone else’s, the ropes that hold me upright.

I’m alone. It’s black as night all around me. I know that if I let go, even for a second, the world will drop, everything will be over. Oh, and I’ll fall too.

This isn’t the story of my husband’s recovery; even though he did recover. But my recovery never depended on his anyway, did it?

I only realized that fact when I saw him, smiling in the Celestial room of the LDS temple in a country far away from here. I sat beside him disgusted that he could smile. How could he, who had repeatedly broken promises to me and to God smile? Yes, I had seen the change in him; the heart that had been black and small and defeated, emerge strong and true and full of honor. The little card that allowed admittance rightfully reinstated.

But still.

This is a quick synopsis.

I dreamed a dream and all that. Like many of you I went through the utter heartbreak, the pain both physical and spiritual and oh so emotional. I went through the fake recoveries, the indulgent promises, the monk-like retreating from the world that he claimed would rid him of his “little issues” forever. Like many of you, I had a bag packed and a toddler bundled up, ready to brave the world on our own. And like many of you, it was on the eve of our leaving, the night that we would say goodbye to him forever that I saw a glimmer in his eyes. A sincere tear. I saw my pain reflected in his face and I felt this:

If you leave, I will go with you. I won’t leave your side. Your burden is so heavy. But if you stay, there is the smallest chance that you could find joy beyond anything you’ve ever known.


The smallest chance.

I looked at my husband; the pride that had encased his skin was cracking and peeling away. He was raw beneath the bravado, the shame, the denial. I thought of the freckle in the crease of his lip; so small, only I knew it was there. I used to love the man he used to be.

The smallest chance.

I shrugged my shoulders. The world shook. He took me in his arms and I retreated away from him. I stayed like that for months.

He woke up early every morning – earlier than our child who was part rooster, calling for the world to awake at dawn. He studied the Book of Mormon in those early hours when the sky was still dark. He read the words of our modern prophet and apostles during his breaks at work. He shuddered away from movies and TV and even music. He didn’t trust himself. Not one bit. He had been so entrenched in his addiction that he didn’t even know what “triggered” it, so he stayed away from everything and anything worldly. He prayed. He prayed in the early light of dawn when he thought I still slept on my small corner of the bed far away from the warm spot where he had been. He shook as he prayed, his lips quivering around the words he was forming. He prayed at night after I rolled over. I would sometimes drift off before I felt the weight of his body climbing wearily into bed.

He met with our bishop weekly, he attended the Addiction Recovery Program every Thursday like it was the life raft on an ocean that stretched for miles.

He looked me in the eyes.

He touched my shoulder softly, he invited me to go for a walk.

He held our son and really held him and I could see that he was broken. I fell in love with him, broken.

But this is about my recovery, not his.

Fast forward two years and see me. I’m on a tight rope. I’m small and shaking beneath the world. It hasn’t gotten any lighter. I haven’t gotten any stronger. My hands grip the ropes so tightly that the knuckles are white and the muscles may never release properly.

I had become a ball of nervous energy. I had fallen so in love with this new man – this true man, this sincere man that I never wanted to lose him again to the throes of addiction or anything else, for that matter.

It may sound ridiculous, but here is me:

I wake up, pray, feed the child, send the husband to work, clean the house from the top down because cleanliness is next to Godliness and heaven knows that if this house isn’t clean that we won’t feel as close to God as we should and then who knows maybe something will happen maybe something will trigger maybe it will all be lost forever maybe maybe maybe so I scrub the anxiety away and I shower and do my hair and look pretty because I want my husband to be attracted to me and I play trains for a few minutes with the little boy that I wish I had more time for but I need to read my scriptures so that I can have the Spirit with me so I do and I do and I do until my eyes are tired and then I pray pray pray pray pray pray and then I play with the son, worrying that Daddy might never come home because it’s a few minutes after five and what if something happened and he isn’t coming home and he fell in love with someone else or he messed up and is too ashamed to come home and –

And what? Back off, okay? This is my life. This is what I did. This is what I felt I had to do. This was the world on my back, encased in sugar glass about to break and shatter into a million pieces if I didn’t hold it all together. And somehow in the psychosis of a broken hearted woman who didn’t take the time to heal, it all made sense.

It made sense until the day my husband brought me a copy of the Addiction Recovery manual. And I read the line “My life has become unmanageable” and I couldn’t breathe.

My
Life
Has
Become
Unmanageable

Look at it. Look at me. My shoulders were in a constant state of spasm. My heart was fluttering like a hummingbird. I was a cleaning maniac with no time for anything I loved.

And that was on a good day.

On the bad days I woke up with a pit in my stomach. I knew. I knew that something had happened. He had browsed something on accident he had seen something and it had triggered it all back and it was over. And he’d roll over, oblivious, say good morning, kiss my nose. And then the worry would crease his brows and he’d hold me and whisper into my ear that it was all okay until my body went slack.

Are you okay? I guess. You guess? Brookie, talk to me. Please. I can’t. I can’t. I don’t know if you’re with me or not. I’m with you.

I’m with you, he’d promise. And if he held me long enough and if I let the light creep in to my heart past all the dark demons, I would know.

He is with me. The smallest chance.

My life was unmanageable.

This is when my recovery began. I knew a few things in the beginning:

            1.      It was, in part, my fault that my husband had been an addict. I hadn’t done everything that I could do to keep the spirit in my home.
            2.      I was not as attractive as I should have been to keep my husband’s attention.
            3.      My husband’s love for me was not great enough to fix his addiction

I knelt down, the day that I was to go to my first spouse-support addiction recovery meeting. I prayed. This is what I know. I don’t know if I’m wrong. If I am, help me to be humble enough to learn. If what I know is true, help me to deal with it. Make my life manageable again.
And the doors of heaven opened and I was flooded with love and learning over the next few weeks as I attended the meetings and read the manual. I continued to pray and read my scriptures, of course, but with less fear and more faith.

I learned that there was truly nothing I could have done to make my husband’s addiction come or go. I learned that even if I had provide the worst environment for an addict – even if I had been an addict myself and I had begged my husband to view pornography with me – even if even if – it would not have been my fault that he had chosen to become a pornography addict.

I learned that it was not the act of viewing pornography that had made him an addict. It was his heart. I learned that I did not have the capacity to change anyone’s heart. Only one did, and that was the Savior, who would soon change mine. I learned that I would rather have my husband, now, with his changed heart, in a room full of naked women than my husband before with his addicted, dark, dishonest heart in the most sacred place on earth.

 I accepted this truth: my husband’s love for me was not great enough to fix his addiction. And I accepted this truth as beautiful. Accepting it set my heart free. He did not love me enough, but someone loved him enough. And that was the Savior. He loved my husband enough to lift him when he was ready to be lifted, to change him when he was ready to be changed, to break him when he was ready to broken.

Would He do the same for me?

This is the story of my recovery.

It was painful and long. It depended on no one but the Savior. And when I learned to depend on Him, I knew that I would be okay.

See me, changed.

My grip, the grip that I was sure had permanently damaged the bone structure in my skinny little hands, loosened. Slowly, I straightened my back. My legs still shook. My eyes, pinched closed, slowly opened.

I blink.

The room is light and my feet are bare. The tightrope that I had so precariously balanced on was coiled up and tossed away into the deepest ocean. I stretch and realize how much stronger my arms are now, my back, my neck my legs. I am a woman with a new heart, much stronger than I ever would have been.

I panic for a moment – where is the world that I have been carrying for so long?

I become aware of strong arms, holding me upright. Arms that I now recognize. My world is being held up by someone much, much stronger than me.

But why now? I ask. Why not before, when I really needed you? I carried that heaviness for so long. I was all alone.

He shakes His head. If you had let go, just for a second, you would have known that I was here the whole time.

This is the story of my husband’s recovery, my recovery, your recovery. It begins and ends with the love of one man.

Him.


 Tomorrow ends this series on Sexual and Pornography addiction. Thank you for reading!