15 August 2013

The Power I Possess

Back in February C Jane had a series of guest posts about pornography addiction. Some of the comments were misguided at best and cruel at worst.  But I appreciated that she was giving blog time to the issue and so I submitted my own story that I wrote with the help of a friend. (Who turned out to be a demanding editor.)  C Jane didn't use my story, but I felt grateful for the experience I had writing it. 

Recently I've found myself seeking refuge behind my glass window again and I thought back to the strength I felt when I wrote these words.  Scabs taught me about writing less like a text book and more like a human.  Today when I read back through it I am reminded of the ability that authentic writing has to empower and validate self. 

Anyway, I thought I'd publish it today in an effort to recommit myself to its principles. 

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Credit
It takes an act of courage to write a post like this.  For someone in the throes of pornography addiction, it takes an act of courage to read the comments of such a post.  It is easier to protect myself by keeping my story on my bathroom floor, where I sit when I cry, behind a glass wall observing instead of healing.
So much is misunderstood.  Our paths are the result of experience and consideration that an outsider can’t begin to imagine.  A cynical and judgmental voice once belonged to me, and after nearly drowning in the shame of his sins and my shame by association; I was rescued by the idea that we are all flawed human beings. 
He’s an addict.  But I’m not going to write about him.   I want to write about me.

In the beginning I tried controlling him with passwords and filters. I persecuted and shamed him with religious fervor. I begged him to stop with shoulder-shaking sobs.  I tried to compete by being my prettiest, sexiest self. I created the ideal environment in our home and comforted him after each relapse. One night, sensing he was in a bad place, I tried staying awake to protect him from himself.  Silent and still beside him in bed I waited, sure the minute I fell asleep he would bolt upright and grab his smartphone.  My eyelids became too heavy and in the morning I awoke to his confession.  It was so predictable and STILL I could not stop it.  I failed.
My efforts were futile.  They were resented by my husband.  My well-being and sanity were compromised.  There was finally relief in the idea that I could not control him.  After reading, studying, praying and reaching out for support, I began to see the freedom and power I did possess.  It is the power to define and live my own life despite my husband’s choices.  I gave myself permission to heal and forgive. (See Step 1, here.)
One day while feelings of anger and injustice hovered over me, I was reminded of the advice of a friend.  She said, “Have the day you were going to have before he ruined it.”  So I did.  I played with my kids, went for a run, and even laughed. My husband isn't the one who pays the price when I dwell in bitterness. I pay the price because my attitude of indignation is manifested in all my relationships.

Refusing to heal is like living behind a glass window.  On the outside the world is going on without me.  People are kind and happy. But behind the window I nurture hate and fury.  Betrayal justifies anger and resentment.  My bitterness isolates me.  The window protects me from feeling.  Like a foul odor, my anger ekes out into the way I treat my children, other men, other women, everyone. Hateful and negative thoughts become consuming.
"Forgiveness is a gift that I give to my soul. Without it, I have no peace."  (Rhyll Croshaw.)

The place behind the glass window is miserable and lonely.  My time in that place is a dark and painful memory.  Occasionally I seek refuge behind the glass, in some effort to feel control and safety, but it is not the place for me.  So I return to the world on the other side of the glass, the place where I define and live my own life. 

The decision to stay or leave is so intensely personal I hesitate to even discuss it. In one ear I hear voices shouting about how I deserve better, how I'm crazy to stay. In the other ear, equally intense voices ask me if I'm really willing to ruin my children's lives over pornography.  I hear a voice of reason that tells me that I don’t owe anyone an explanation.  I hear a voice of compassion that reminds me of his goodness.  I hear the voice of my insanity that screams with ridicule that he will never change.
I stay because I view my husband's addiction like an illness. The analogy isn't without its flaws, but I've turned him over to the proper professionals, a counselor, a trusted confidant, and the healing power of the Savior, to help him recover. I can't cure him, and while he is humble and willing to accept treatment, I will honor my marriage vows. My husband is a wonderful man.  He is ambitious and successful in his career.  He is a gentleman to me and takes time to let me know I am appreciated.  He makes me laugh, and he finds ways to execute even my most outrageous plans.  I love him. This is only a small part of why I married him and why I remain with him, and says little of the memories and life we have built together.

There are no guarantees in life.  But, I can live a happy and fulfilling life with a compassionate and empathetic heart, not just in spite of my husband's addiction, but because of it.  The victim is not the part I want to play, emerging from the fight weak and disabled.  It is the heroine I want to be, emerging with strength and confidence.  Not worse for the battle, but better.  
I am empowered and liberated by the knowledge that I am strong. Even though I’m tempted to avoid stepping out from behind the glass wall, I’ve learned not to live in fear.  I am courageous and I’m okay with vulnerable. 

13 comments:

  1. I think that is amazing. Truly.

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  2. This is so beautiful. I'm so glad you shared this on your blog. Thank you.

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  3. Thank you for posting about C Jane's series and sharing your beautifully written story. I wonder if the Ensign would be interested in what you have so eloquently shared? I will be letting others know about this post as it hits a personal "hard to explain only those who have experienced it spot". Warmly, Kandee

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  4. I always love reading your ideas. Thanks for sharing your soul. I will be back to retread this one on hard days.

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  5. I'll be borrowing bravery from your writing and your story. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  6. Beautiful words Jane :) Thank you for sharing you heart and soul!

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  7. Wow Someday I hope I can become like you! Your words are powerful and very inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing them. I started my own recovery 2 years ago. I started going with my sister in law as a support person. Her husband and mine are both addicts to pornography. She was attending the Unhealthy Eating Behaviors ARP meeting. In going with her I discovered my own addiction to food. Little did I know that 1 yr into it she would be the one to tell me about my husbands addiction. Wow....I started this program for myself went through all 12 steps. Now I am starting to go over again for my Co-dependency, and then conquer and submit myself to help my husband. I can't control his addiction, but I can control mine. Mine is triggered by his.

    Again Thank You for sharing. I loved your post!

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  8. Praying for you Jane. "When you look for me, you will find me. Yes when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change you lot" (Jeremiah 29: 13-14). Peace of Christ be with you, dear.
    Yours in Christ,
    V

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  9. I stumbled upon your blog after googling for help from my husband's newly revealed porn addiction. He has been hiding it the entire 10 years of our marriage. I look forward to continuing to read your heart felt words.

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  10. This is so beautifully written! For 9 years I've wondered what the right reaction to his confession would look like - I feel like you've just given it to me. I agree so completely with what you said about your decision to stay or go. My husband has always been willing to work on it as best he can; otherwise he is a wonderful, loving, honest man. And that is why I stay. He is not his addiction. And as long as he is fighting it, he is winning. Thank you for sharing!!

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