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.
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.