"Doesn't it seem like they are getting away with it?"
"It isn't fair that he can just repent to the bishop and be forgiven and I'm still hurting."
"He gets to have his cake and eat it too. I don't think he feels any consequences or cares about hurting me."
I hope that I can articulate the way I feel about this in my soul.
Way back when... when I wore rose-colored glasses, I figured I was happy. Yeah, I had some serious issues with self-pity now and then, but it never really occurred to me that I could be happier. The depth of my feelings, both joy and grief, were equivalent to a mountain spring. Little pebbles and twigs had defined my character.
Now, I feel like the depth of my joys and griefs are equivalent to the grand canyon. And I had to fall off a cliff to get here.
I think sometimes we imagine that men encompassed in addiction are going on their merry way. Feeling happy, or at least content. And while I think it would give us great satisfaction to know that they were suffering inside (and many are) I think most are just unaware how unhappy they are. Or they attribute their unhappiness to outside sources rather than taking ownership for their misery.
We might suppose that a porn addict lies in bed at night thinking
"What a day! I got my jollies online, pleased myself in the men's room at lunch, and then made love with my wife. I'm the luckiest man alive. And I'm getting away with it all!"
I don't believe that there is a man out there who thinks that way. It goes against fundamental truth and universal principles. Wickedness never was happiness.
What we HOPE they are thinking:
"I've really screwed up. I have a good wife, and I've betrayed her. My kids look up to me and I am failing them. I made bad choices, I have power to make good ones and I deliberately chose not to. I am pathetic and I need help."
Some men get to this point, eventually. But it takes a lot to get them there, and more often than not they are more like this
"What a crappy day. I can't believe everything that went wrong at work. I am so tired of all the nagging at home. I could't help myself from getting distracted online, and what's the big deal if I please myself now and then. It's not like everyone else is perfect. I have needs too."
Unfortunately there is a definite lack of personal responsibility there. Is it the ideal? No. But tell me this...
Are those the thoughts of a man who is escaping pain and suffering? NO. Abosolutely not. Is it the pain and suffering we WANT them to be feeling? No, not really. But are they happy? Even content? Not at all. Their thoughts and lives are chaotic, confusing, frustrating, frightening, embarrassing.
Not to mention, living a life of constant justification must be exhausting.
I guess my point is that we think that they are free. We think that they aren't feeling remorse and that they are getting away with it because they are avoiding the pain of their choices. But we know better.
First, we know that eventually, for them to find true happiness, they will have to face that pain. And it will be utter anguish. And they WILL suffer.
Second, we know that they ARE suffering. They ARE miserable. They may not make the connection between their misery and their behavior, but they are not living in peace and serenity.
Lastly, in recovery, with healing, we have the power to be happy. REALLY happy. A new kind of happy we never knew existed. A liberating freedom from addiction to codependency that changes everything.
I think about this often when I look at others. It's not just addicts that appear to get away with living a superficial and indulgent lifestyle. All around us are people who are choosing the easy way, and therefore sacrificing the amazing power and strength that comes when we pay the price of pain and humility.
Maybe some people are okay with mediocre relationships, with low self-worth, weak character. And that's their choice. But they aren't living up to their potential, and it is therefore impossible for them to enjoy the fulfillment, superior relationships and pure joy that come when we live up to our potential. Maybe they don't know what their missing.
But we do.