11 September 2012

The rascal got away with it, or did he?

There's a phrase in my head, or a few phrases.  They've been floating around in my conversations, comments and thoughts.

"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.

For example:

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. 


  1. I have similar feelings, but then I somehow find my self saying "then why do people get a divorce" If we can truly be happy despite our circumstances then why divorce? I am In no way judging people who divorce. I am just personally struggling with the culture that surrounds divorce and truly wanting to be happy but not knowing I can be when my husband doesn't choose to be In recovery and is continually crossing boundaries... when Is enough, enough? Is it ever?

    1. This is a totally legitimate question, and a hard one to answer by someone like myself and in this small space. I hope my friends will chime in too, but here's what I think.

      Enough IS enough at some point. Living with an addict who refuses recovery makes happiness extremely difficult. And I don't believe anyone requires or expects us (God included) to stay in relationships that are emotionally destructive. These relationships are usually lacking in trust (if the addict is the lying type) and true sexual intimacy, to say the least. And I think that leaving such a marriage could be the best opportunity for reaching our potential. But I do believe that a person, in spite of tremendous pain and heartache and with great courage, can achieve peace before a divorce. Realizing that the divorce itself won't be what brings happiness. Often in life's most difficult moments we have no power to change our circumstances. But often we do, and I believe God wants us to use our agency to choose happiness, whatever that may include.

      The choice to divorce is so incredibly personal I am reluctant to say much else. But should I ever come to that crossroad I know that I would have to make that decision with divine help.

  2. Jane, thanks again for the gentle reminder that he is hurting too! Sometimes it gets lost in my mind as I deal with my frustration, anger, & fear.

  3. Thanks Jane I needed this today! My husband and I had big discussion about feelings this afternoon and I had forgotten all about his, being too consumed in my own.

  4. In my time as a WOPA, I've had a lot of moments like this: "AHHH! This trigger (real or imagined in my head) will surely send him down the fast road to pornville!" Initially I silently agonized alone, later I started calling him to find out his emotional/sobriety status the minute I started worrying, but recently I just tell myself, "And if he does, so be it. He won't find happiness there. He'll get minutes of relief from his stress and then the depression and discouragement shows right back up, only worse. I am way better than porn. I will always be far superior and if he chooses that drug over a healthy relationship with me, he is the one who loses. Not me." Keeping my self worth and dignity are keys in my recovery. I think all of us have felt ugly when we compare ourselves to the porn images, but we are the real deal. No question in my mind that my husband suffers when he indulges. Nice post Jane.

  5. I just found out a week ago that my husband of 12 years has been using porn since before we were married and never stopped. He knew before we were even married that I see that as a former of infidelity. When I discovered links on our computer and confronted him, he denied it, but eventually confessed to years of this behind my back. I felt my heart break into a million pieces. I felt like my wonderful life was ruined in a split second. How could I ever trust him again, how could I ever kiss him again? I cried and we talked about it for a whole week, the went away for the weekend for a change in scenery and hopefully to try and start to move on. He's mortified and swears to never do it again. I felt so lonely and gave in to having sex already. Now I feel dirty and ashamed. And stupid to have never suspected anything. I feel like since I'm trying so hard to forgive him and he seems to be his old happy go lucky self that in effect..... He's got away with it. There were no real consequences other than me crying and crying for days. I'm the only one that seems to be suffering the most and its not fair. This blog spoke to me and I've read almost everything from the beginning, but I don't know how soon is too soon to try and move on, how come it seems like he's already moved on? I don't think I'll ever believe anything he says again. Mostly I'm so so sad and I feel betrayed and depressed that he cheated on me in his heart. Any suggestions? - A

    1. A- email me. I would love to be there for you when you need to word vomit. I am so so sorry. I could write pages and pages but for now I'll just say don't rush or force things. Take time to catch your breath. You are gonna be okay girl.

      Hisstrugglemystruggle@ gmail .com