Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guest Posts About Pornography and Sexual Addiction

This is the last day of my series on Pornography and Sexual Addiction. I had an overwhelming response to my call for submissions and feel badly I can't publish them all. I've tried to pull from different view points and spots along the way to recovery. I hope we've done some good here these past few weeks. I know it's changed my life. I am deeply grateful for all the stories I have read and the important discussions that have followed--including all the surrounding viewpoints.

Six Sons
by Anonymous

I raised six sons.  Six.  That means six eagle projects, six gigantic pairs of Adidas to trip over in the front hallway, six sets of mission papers.  Six junior proms, with me ordering the corsages because they were excited and clueless, and six times weeping when they walked out the door in their first tuxedos, weeping when they wheeled their suitcases through the MTC door and out of my life for two long years, and weeping in the temple when they knelt at the altar, remembering when they said as toddlers that I was "bootiful" and they would marry me one day if I was still alive by then.

I also wept when three of the six were caught viewing things they shouldn't on the family computer, while they were in high school.  I was infuriated.  How could they sully our home in that way?  They knew better.  We taught them better.  They knew what the Spirit felt like.  They were planning on missions.  How could they?  So there were lots of parent-to-son discussions, and off they went to the bishop, and it broke my heart when they couldn't take the sacrament, much less bless it.  But they did feel genuinely remorseful and they repented and served honorable missions where they turned from boys to men, and when they returned they were married, and as far as I know those three have left that challenge behind them.

But then.  To get the call five years ago from the one son -- the one I never had to worry about.  He was the one who did his homework without being asked, who didn't have to be nagged to get his merit badges, who got straight As, who volunteered first for the Young Men service projects.  The one, still, who gives the tightest hugs.  Who does the dishes at family gatherings.  Who has the most brilliant smile you can ever imagine.  The perfect son.  Of course he wasn't one of the "three."  Or so I thought.

He called, and talked, and as his words poured over me -- well, that's what happened, they poured over me and off me because I couldn't accept them into my brain.  Not only did he have a very serious addiction to pornography, he was in trouble with the law.  His wife was taking their child and moving in with her parents.  He was beside himself.  "I don't know what to do, Mom." 

I didn't know what to do either. 

Somehow I found words to say.  We will help you.  You can change. We will always love you.  Help us to understand.  And words I never thought I would say to a child: We will find you an attorney.

Talk about weeping.  For a year I could have filled a swimming pool with my tears.  People at work knew when I had a certain look on my face, not to approach me because  I wasn't capable of conversation or coherent thought.  I thought I knew what unconditional love was, but during that year I had it seared into my soul.

You know there is going to be a positive ending to this, or I wouldn't be writing to you.  My son squared himself with the law.  He counseled with his bishop weekly.  He worked as hard at the church's addiction recovery program as he has ever worked at anything.  And he can work.  He reconciled with his wife.  They had another baby.  They bought a home.  He has a good job.  He gained back everything he had lost, one agonizing step at a time, except for his innocence which is gone and I have to accept that in this life he won't get that back.  I got up the courage a year ago to ask how the addiction recovery is going.  He still goes every week.  It is a long time since his last "slip" and he recognizes this is a lifetime challenge that he won't ever really put behind him.  But his progress is very good.  Without the atonement, good bishops, a wife whose value is beyond rubies, and the LDS church addiction recovery program, I can't say where he would be.

What have I gained from this?  Another trip through the refiner's fire, perhaps my hardest ever.  And I understand the issues of addiction recovery so much better than I did before.  Boundlessly better.  I don't feel disgust when I learn of another mother's son who carries this horrible burden.  I feel sorrow and love, and hope that they can find a way forward, battling this demon all the way, so that they can love themselves again.

Porn Angel
by Monica Rai

I don’t want to talk about porn. Or email accounts where his verbiage is lewd and someone completely different than the man I married. I don’t want to talk about infidelity. I want to live it even less. But yet, I am. He confessed as I sat with my legs on his lap during family visit at the Ranch. I had found the accounts before this: the Myspace and Yahoo and Hotmail and the numbers in his phone. But now, he looks at me and cries and tells me of how he cheated on me while he was high last summer. Only a couple times, and then it stopped, he says. I looked down at his hands, and focused on the wedding ring that just moments ago I had taken off from around my neck and given back to him. Because I thought he deserved it. A moment can change your forever, I have decided. The lies unraveled like the yarn of a bright red scarf. Now my hands are full with string that winds its way around my body and constricts my breathing, covers my eyes, and ties my ankles together as I trip and fall…
And I can’t get up. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up (I say in the sing song voice)…I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
This time, though, there’s no audience to laugh at the appropriately timed jokes. I am the butt of the joke of my own life. Aren’t I supposed to be the beautiful, ever-evolving-towards-perfection-likable-protagonist? Apparently I was mistaken. Or am not good enough, worthy enough, loved enough to fulfill that role. No one will come to see this movie…
I cannot reconcile the man whose screen name is Devlish Ass Licker, with the sweet words he said about the first time he laid eyes on me…
which was December 5, 2003
“I went back to the kitchen to help them clean up, and as I was loading up my plate, I turned around and ran into the most beautiful, stunning girl that I had ever laid my eyes on. She had these facial features I had never seen, I thought she was from some exotic place; long wavy brown hair, and these big huge lips that I wanted to kiss right off the bat. And her whole facial structure, looked like she was from some exotic place under a waterfall. She just had these really round, big hazel, green and brown eyes that just looked right into my soul, just piercing me. Her countenance, she had angels flying around her. If I had looked down at her feet, they would have been six inches off the floor. She just looked at me with this big huge smile that made her whole face light up, and perfect white teeth. And just as I was about to spit out one of my world famous pick up lines, my teeth stopped my tongue from talking, and my heart pounding out of my chest, and after a few non-verbal grunts I finally got out a shaky, ‘…uhhh, what’s your name?’ She told me her name was Monica, and I said ‘I’m Brent.’ Then I took off. But I didn’t go far…”
Putting those two truths together defines the irreconcilable existence of what I am breathing today. Nothing makes sense. How can he be so perfect and so cruel? Apparently, I am the Porn Angel. I feel like my innocence is gone. He once called me an angel, he once saw one. My wings have been clipped and I flutter along the ground, the stubs where my feathers once were now bleed and seep their pain wherever I go. Where is the purity that once lay between us? Where is the clarity that I saw through the mirrors of eternity? Singing, “Where, oh where has my little dove gone….where oh where can he be?”
I don’t know how to deal with adultery. I know something about addiction; there was some pocket of information and knowledge in my brain that I pulled experience from, that guided me in these darkest of days with a vague idea of how to go about life and recovery. This, though…this new monster has me by the throat and I do not know the magic words to make it let go. My only experience with this is horrific, and I cannot pull on those memory strings for fear it will drag me under again. I am lost, I am unmanageable, I am unable to do anything but stand here and weep, twisting innards and metal blasting, shrapnel through my heart. I don’t know how to stop my own bleeding. I do not have the skills for this. I cannot stop the bleeding…
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up
* cue the audience to laugh, they’ve forgotten how

To Love Again
by Anonymous

To love and be loved was the dream of my young, romantic heart. And when I fell in love I did so with all my heart. To know and be known became my next dream. I gave myself completely. It seemed as though he couldn't get enough of me. He wanted to know everything about me just as I wanted to know everything about him. We talked and talked and talked. It felt like magnetism between us: a constant pull to be closer and closer. It was like coming home. All the past hurts seemed nothing but a distant winding path leading to him.

So we were married. And then we had two years of newly-wedded bliss. And then real life caught up to us or so it seemed. There was always some excuse for the distance that seemed to be lurking between us. I often felt like I was swimming upstream. I tried and tried harder to live a “perfect” life. Somehow it never seemed like enough. But mostly we were still young and in love.

About seven years into our marriage, a nagging feeling and a tear-filled prayer led me to find pornography on our computer. How could this be? I confronted my husband. He looked right at me with big innocent eyes and lied.

When his “little problem” finally came out, I was devastated and also relieved. I was so ready to have a name to that feeling of inadequacy--so ready to do battle. And battle I did. There were passwords and articles and meetings with the bishop and a therapist. Until I realized that the “little problem” wasn't so little. He was addicted to lust. And his addiction was just a mask—a cover-up of deep wounds, pain and shame. It seemed to attack me right in my core and threaten everything that was most sacred and dear to me—my family, my faith, my love, my very being. All those past hurts and childhood wounds broke free, mocked me and said, “It's true—you are not worth it.”

Four years and an excellent therapy program later, we have done some serious battling. My husband is conquering lust. I am healing. But now that I finally do know him and everything about him, he is like a stranger to me. I fell in love with an ideal. And now, I ask myself if I can fall in love again? Can I know and be known by the real him? Do I believe in second chances and happily ever afters?

He is Not A Monster
by Anonymous

It was like every other lesson, discussion and/or talk I had heard about pornography in the past.

Yet, completely different.

It was different because for the first time in my life, we weren't talking about some faceless man who had a "horrific" addiction. At least I wasn't. Even though no one else in that room knew,  to me, we were talking about a man I loved. Completely. And entirely.

I remember our Church leader asking the room full of 100 women to describe a man who was addicted to pornography.

A young woman rose her hand. "Disrespectful and aggressive," she said with disgust.

Her words were like an undeserved slap to my face - because she was wrong. Dead wrong.

And because of it, my heart raced. I knew I could not let her disillusion be left as truth to everyone else in that room. They had a right to know the truth. And I knew it was my responsibility to provide it.

I rose my hand. And told that room of 100 women the description I knew intimately of a recovering porn addict.

He was the most respectful man I had ever met.

He was the most tender.

And the most gentle.

He was kind.

He was thoughtful.

He never failed to make me feel like I was the most important person to him. 

He was funny.

He found joy in serving others and making others happy.

He was adored by all children I had ever seen him interact with.

He was honest. And open. He was truthful about his addiction, his life-long dedication to overcome it and the times he had setbacks. 

He wouldn't allow for secrets about his problem. 

He loved God.

He loved me.

He made me happier than I could have ever imagined being. 

He was the man I wanted to spend all of my life with.

He was not a monster.

He was not disgusting or gross.

He made me want to become a better person, a person more like he was

He was a man I could only hope, all men could aspire to become like.  

He, WE,  would have given up anything to rid himself of his addiction {and try everything he did}.

He was successful, yet at times had setbacks.

He wasn't going to give up on that success and I wouldn't either.

He was not defined by his pornography addiction. And neither was I.

He was a good, good man ... who just sinned differently than you and I.

That was the man I knew recovering from a pornography addiction.

That was our truth. Which tells me it can be the truth for other men who do not want the secrecy and lies that pornography can lead to if they let it. 

This is our truth and I will continue to declare it to all who will listen for that man I love and for any other pornography addict out there like him ... and most importantly for everyone woman out there who loves that man.

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.


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.


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


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Walking on Eggshells: A Guest Post About Pornography Addiction

by Anonymous

At 19, I thought I had it all figured out.

I had fallen in love, I was working on career goals, and had everything mapped out in my mind. We would get married, I would finish school, we’d have kids, and live happily ever after.

While we were engaged, he told me he had problems with porn when he was 14. I brushed it off without too much thought. I assumed most if not all teenage boys experimented with that. I didn’t really know anything about porn other than that it involved naked pictures and my church leaders counseled that it was wrong. I told myself it had happened a long time ago, and that the man I was marrying was not the same person he had been as a teenager.

My parents didn’t want me to marry him. I said they were being overprotective. My best friend at the time was his cousin and she told me things about his behavior that I chose not to believe.  He pushed me to do things physically that made me scared we wouldn’t be worthy to get married in our church’s temple. I barely held my boundaries. We fought so much during our engagement. But I loved him, in my codependent way. He needed me, or so I thought. My love would be enough. I would rescue him from all the bad. We’d prove everyone wrong. I prayed about my decision, and felt like I was making the right choice.

So we got married.

A few months into the marriage, things started spiraling downhill. He stopped doing anything spiritual or religious, with me or by himself. I was concerned because my religion was very important to me and I thought it was important to him as well. I told myself it must be a phase he was going through, and ignored the pain it was causing me. Past experiences had taught me not to confront him. It was easier to pretend everything was okay than to “make him mad” and deal with the abuse.

So I walked on eggshells.

Time passed, and nothing improved except for my ability to avoid confrontation. I took everything out on myself instead. If only I was a better wife. If only I had dinner ready for him every night when I got home. If only I lost some weight. If only I was more willing to do whatever he wanted in the bedroom. Between the pressure and blame I put on myself and the pressure and blame he heaped on me, my self-worth was crumbling quickly.

We had been married for a year when I finally admitted to myself what I had been seeing signs of for a long time – he was into porn again. It took me another six months to ask him about it. He immediately denied it and then I felt terrible for my accusations. A few weeks later, the confession came. He had been struggling with porn since he was a young teenager; it hadn’t just been that isolated “age 14 experiment.” He assured me that he would “take care of it.” I said okay, because I didn’t know what else to do or say. I did the only thing I knew what to do – pray.

The next year and a half consisted of more of the same vicious cycle. He would seem to be doing better for a little while, only to plummet soon after. Repeat, repeat, repeat. My hope would spark only to be dashed and I was left feeling betrayed, worthless, and not enough. Again.

I prided myself that no one knew anything about our problems. I kept it all inside, a disease that was eating both of us from the inside out. I was so very terrified. If I told anyone else then that made everything that much more real.

Finally, in desperation, I confided in a church leader. I wanted him to tell me what to do to “fix” my husband. Instead, he told me to do things that would make myself happy. He told me to find peace within myself instead of spending all of my energy trying to find peace for my husband. I began to spend time with friends. I joined a book club. I started a graduate degree. I found new hobbies and started a business. I found the path to becoming myself and finding an inner peace.

In the meantime, my husband’s behavior continued to get worse. Hardly a day would go by without abuse. I knew what he was doing with his computer wasn’t homework. More of his secrets came out. Eventually, I found the courage to stand up for myself. I wasn’t going to continue to live like this; to let myself be treated this way. We could go to counseling and get help, or I would leave. Sadly, he was so deeply entrenched in his addiction that he couldn’t see. He refused counseling. I refused to stay.

It sounds so simple when I write it out, but trying to make that decision was the hardest thing I have ever done. Little did I know that it was only the beginning of a very difficult journey. It only got more complicated when three weeks after I left, I discovered I was pregnant. I started going to counseling and 12 step groups. Over the past few years I have dealt with my shame and trauma, gradually healing and finding forgiveness.

My life now is by no means easy. I am a single mom. I work full-time and go to school. I still struggle with trauma from my marriage and my own codependent behaviors. But I have found peace through discovering what it really means to trust God and give all control to Him. 

More information on Pornography Addiction:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Little Weekend!

Feeling good here at Retro House this morning. It's snowing. Ever is playing with an noisy app of mixed oriental sounds making me pine for Japan even though I've never been. I feel goofy and a little foggy--I had a mixed bag of dreams last night from anxious scenarios to a nightmare so intense I screamed myself awake. Anson and Ever decided to rendezvous in our bed somewhere around 4:30--the hour no human should be conscious--and then it was musical beds until sunlight.

But here we are.

I am thinking a lot about this speech coming up at BYU. I am excited to be involved in this project with my friends, Carina, Caitlin, Amy, Sarah and Megan. So many smart, educated, talented women in my life. They are good examples to me and I look to their support as fellow women, mothers, wives, artists, community activists and spiritual sisters. So here is this:
 photo womenandeducation_zps6e6572a4.jpg

Maybe after I give this speech I'll stop having dreams where I'm picking through the toys at the pediatrician's office--trying to find the ones I threw away before Anson had grown out of them. (I do that in real life--give away toys too soon, but not re-collecting at the ped's office . . .)

Happy weekend everyone! If you want to connect in other non-snowing, non-blogging worlds:
email: cjanekendrick @ (but I'm galaxies behind in keeping up . . . GALAXIES.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Came To Believe We Could: A Guest Post On Porn & Sexual Addiction

by Anonymous

"Please God don't let me lose my family."

It was the first words I'd directed heavenward in two years.

But in this moment, it came so instinctively. I had no other option. My husband had left the house and I didn't know if he was coming back.

So this was the rock bottom I’d heard about in those 12-step meetings.  My affair with my friend’s husband had just been discovered.

My husband returned later that night and the months of crying and praying began.  The God that I had once eased out, filled my heart with love the moment I sought it.

Even with this strength, the road back was excruciating.  I still had to face how I’d gotten here.  I recalled standing in the grocery store line years earlier, and realizing that I was lonely.  This was a pivotal realization for me because for the first seven years of my marriage, I was fighting to change my husband. All of my energy was directed towards him, so much so that I didn’t recognize that I was very sick.

Immediately into my new marriage, my husband drastically changed. He lost his motivation and zest for life.  He began to gain weight and seemed to always be angry with me, demeaning me in front of family and friends. I tried to stop “criticizing him so much”- his reasons for the anger.  This just led me to stop talking about any concerns I had about our finances, our relationship, or our kids.  We stopped communicating. He had no interest in me sexually so we were roommates in every sense of the word.

One evening, I discovered he had been searching for “nude adult pics” on a search engine. I could barely understand him confess, through choked sobs, that he’d been excessively looking at these things since he was 12. That night we held each other and I knew that my love would save him.

I was wrong.  How could I anticipate the next several years we would spend in 12-step-meetings, the months I'd fume in women’s support groups, and the meetings he’d attend just to appease me but with a stubborn refusal to truly change?  I’d threaten to leave, convinced I couldn’t take one more day of this pain.  And then I’d feel like a weakling as my threats grew emptier and my resolution grew weaker.

After seven years of this, I was done trying to fix him. I had given up on him. I would endure until my last child turned 18, the “12-Year-Plan” as I coined it.

Then one afternoon at work, shortly after my grocery store realization, a small box popped up in the bottom right corner of my computer.  It took me by surprise, as I had no idea that Facebook had a chat function.

“Good Morning!”

It was from a man I vaguely knew but who was the Sunday school teacher of a past church congregation.  I would sit in his class and recognize something that I saw in my husband- a broken man in need of someone to fix him.

Since saving my husband was futile, I was game. His interest in me awoke a dormant desire in me for emotional connection. Our chatting very quickly turned into sexting. At first I was guilt-ridden but the excitement of our exchanges outweighed the shame.  Pretty soon I was typing things that I never thought myself capable of thinking. I became that naughty girl, completely proficient in pleasing a man- the same type of girl that my husband had been replacing me with all these years. Sometimes during our chats, it felt as if an electric current was running through my body. I was lightheaded and my hands shook.

But what I soon realized was that I was just part of this man’s own addiction. He could be downright cruel at times and the lows were some of the deepest I’ve known. In those moments of solidarity, in the middle of a lonely marriage, I realized I was strung out on this man. A feeling of crazy possessiveness entered my heart. I understood those ex-girlfriends who stalked and slashed tires. I wanted him. I needed him.

I couldn’t take one more day of the drastic highs and lows and ended it, but saw no hope in fixing my marriage.  I white-knuckled through my life. 

Enter new friends from our congregation who liked to live on the wild side. I was still going to church for the sake of my children, but was getting drunk and smoking pot in my free time, recreation that contradicted a major tenant of our faith.  These new friends did the same things and still managed to go to church each week and flawlessly keep up the facade.

My husband and I started spending every second with this couple. We would group text about what our next fun adventure would be. Our kids and their kids became fast friends. One day at work, I got a text from my friend’s husband about the weekend. This wasn’t a group text, it was just to me.  We randomly texted about innocent topics at first.  And then it slowly got out of hand.

I was back in the throes of my love addiction, feeling the validation and excitement.  But this time, I had to face my friend as we spent time together.  I’d see her text pop up succinctly after her husband had texted me. The intense remorse of my betrayal ran through my mind incessantly and led me to find solace in my love addiction. It was a dreadful, dark spiral.

We quickly allowed the texting to turn into meeting up with each other. At this point I was completely out of touch with my consciousness. My better angels had grown silent. The moments we were together, I felt as if I was in a dream. My heart was racing, my entire body was shaking, and I couldn’t relax.  I never really enjoyed the actual physicality of the moment. I was at the highest point of my sensory threshold, but completely absent in my cognitive reality. I was truly a junkie.

We tried many times to stop the bad behavior but our families were still spending so much time together that it became too difficult and the desire for our addiction intensified.  I didn’t see a way out- the truth was never an option.  I was trapped in my downward spiral and I wasn’t strong enough to pull myself out.

The day we were caught, it was my worst nightmare but my only salvation. The truth was out. I had to accept who I had become. I picked up my husband’s 12-step-workbook and did the whole thing in two weeks. I wrote a fearless moral inventory of all the people I had hurt. My heart repeatedly broke as I watched my husband learn and accept the things I’d done. I held my children when they cried that they couldn’t see their dear friends anymore. I absorbed the judgments of people at church who knew what I had done; of mutual friends we had who would no longer look at me. I sat at the end of a long, wooden table around which twelve men sat from my church clergy and confessed my ugliest choices. They loved me and prayed for me.  God’s warmth was in that room, healing and renewing me.

My husband recognized his struggles in me and eventually forgave me.  My actions were his rock bottom.  We fought our way back up, all the while surrendering. But what a cost to us both, to my friend, my children, and my reputation. I’m no longer the perfect wife who had to deal with his addiction. When life gets difficult, I start thinking about the distraction my addiction gave me. It’s in these moments, I remember that I’m still an addict. I again look to God to buoy me up and the strength I’m given sustains me. Our addictions saved us because they broke our hearts open to each other and to God. 

Learn more about internet porn addiction here and sexual addiction here and how these addictions change our brains and cause us disconnect from ourselves and others.