There is power in empathy, in understanding. And nowhere else have I felt that power so intensely as among my WoPA (wives of porn addicts) sisters. They know exactly how I feel -- or at least close to it. They understand my deepest fears, my biggest struggles. They get it. They are the first ones to climb down into my deepest pits with me and help me find my way out. Because they get it -- they've been there too. And together, we find out way out. Together, we rise.
My experience with my husband's porn addiction lead me to some of the most incredible women I've ever known. I met some WoPAs and due to some force beyond me, I bared my soul to them. I told them all of the things I couldn't say to people in my "normal" life. I said words I'd never said aloud before (sex! masturbation! penis! oh the horror!) and I shared with them the feelings that I had hardly dared admit to myself.
Now I realize that these are not people who I would naturally open up to. If we had met under other circumstances I would never have dared bare my soul the way I did. To borrow a phrase from the fabulous Brene Brown, I would have "hustled for their acceptance". I would have danced and performed and tried hard to be everything I thought they wanted me to be.
But they were people I wouldn't just run into in my normal life, so I guess I had nothing to lose. I could be totally raw and if they were horrible and mean and picked on me and made fun of me and shunned me, it would be the most awkward moment of my life. But then I'd move on and never associate with them again. I'd learn my lesson and stop opening up. I was good at faking. I could do that some more. I could just cut them off and run the other way pretending it never happened and put the whole experience in my overcrowded box 'o shame.
But instead of adding to my box 'o shame, I somehow emptied it. I dumped it all out on the bed for everybody to see and left a lot of it behind. And because they were kind and met my vulnerability ounce for ounce, I left feeling lighter instead of heavier.
Those people mean more to me than I can explain. As that group grows I hear a bit of hesitancy in the voices of those coming.
"If my experience isn't exactly with being a WoPA can I still come in?"
"What if I'm the one doing all of the hurting? Am I invited?"
"It's not as extreme as some stories I've heard, I'm not sure this is the place for me."
Bottom line, we all want to know "Do I belong?"
I'm here to tell you YES! Of course you do.
You whose husband never looked at porn but you got divorced not really knowing why.
You whose husband had sex with random people of all genders from craigslist.
You who look at porn to cope with your own negative emotions.
You who feel shame.
You who have shamed someone you love.
You who are trying to work recovery.
You who are trying to survive.
All of you belong.
Because if this wasn't a group with an open door policy,
none of us would be "in" it.
And its wide open door is exactly what makes it so beautiful.
Contributed by Buffalo Gal at onerecoverystory.blogspot.com
By many standards, seven weeks is not very long.
But for me -- it was seven weeks of depression, confusion, confinement, secrecy, darkness, fear, sorrow. It was hell.
Seven weeks of hell that felt like a lifetime.
I couldn’t reach out. Not about this. No one would understand anyway. They’d think my husband was a monster and that I was worthless. I knew he wasn’t a monster, but I didn’t know if I was worth anything anymore.
And then: a small ray of light. A blog post about an organization called Addo Recovery. There were others like me? Really?! So many that an entire organization was devoted to helping them? There’s help for this?! For hours I watched and re-watched all the videos Addo had on their website. Beautiful women who were speaking directly from my heart; who told my story. They KNEW. They KNEW what this felt like! I’m not crazy! I’m not worthless! They know my husband is not a monster. They KNOW!
Light and hope poured into my soul. I privately reached out to one person through Addo. I was quickly added to the Togetherness Community. Suddenly, I was a member of an elite sisterhood. My healing heart is a gift from my Savior; a Savior who has graced me with this priceless sisterhood. Here I am understood. Here I am validated. Here I am loved. Here I am able to find the courage to trudge, walk, and then run on the path to healing. Togetherness gave me my sanity back. Togetherness gave me hope and showed me that my future could be even brighter than the past I thought I was living.
Togetherness means I’m not alone anymore, that none of us have to be alone anymore. Togetherness is “to-get-her”, to get me, to get you, to get every woman who has been affected by betrayal trauma, on the road to recovery.
Togetherness is supporting one another as we walk that road. Like the African Proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.
Togetherness means I can heal. Togetherness means I can recover. Togetherness means we are stronger together than we would be alone, and with that strength we can do more. Which in turns allows us to help more women rise above the devastating effects of betrayal.
She shakes, anticipating the outcome. It is here. The tornado has arrived. Her legs quiver with each sign of lightning. The earth beneath her cracks and the sky is full of grey.
Life as she knows it is over. Everything she has trusted to keep her grounded is now uprooted. The steps she will take will determine parts of her outcome but it is not all up to her. Forces cause her to tremble, to fall, to move in directions she never planned on going.
She runs. She walks. She crawls if she has to. Determined not to let this hell engulf every part of her, she continues on her journey. She will make it. She has to make it.
The only other choice is to give up but she is a warrior.
Her army rallies around her. They can see that she is struggling to find a path around the tornado and she needs their help. And help, they will. They have been there before. They know what this tornado feels like and they know how to find a way. They provide her with flashlights, food, a first-aid kit, and water so she is prepared to make her journey.
She is never alone. Some days, she stands tall. Other days, she lays down on the ground. The tornado lasts longer than anything she has ever experienced. She wonders when it will end. She wonders how it will end.
Can her marriage survive? Will her children survive? Does her soul survive?
She braces for the storm and she prays. With everything she has, she prays that she is strong enough to handle the outcome.
Suddenly, the tornado has wrapped around her. She couldn't get past it, no matter how hard she tried. In the middle of the tornado, she remembers all of the hurtful things her husband has done and said, all of the insecurities she has about herself, and all of the ways she has failed as a mother. She falls to the ground and tries to come to grips with her ending. This must be how it ends. Nothing this painful can possibly be endured by one person.
But when she looks up, she finds her warrior sisters fighting to make their way to the middle of the tornado. They have come to be with her. They realize they cannot rescue her. They cannot pull her from the middle of the tornado. But they can wait with her until it is all over. They can make sure she isn't alone.
The storm finally ends. She is bleeding but not completely broken. Her arms are filled with cuts and bruises and her heart is still aching. Her sisters gather her in their arms and help to heal her. The process is slow. She doesn't fully believe she can ever be healed from the trauma of her tornado. But she lets them in anyway.
She trusts her warrior sisters, for they have been there when no one else would come. They have taken on her heartache and empathized with her pain. They have given her tools she couldn't find on her own.
She used to look at tornados and wonder how anyone was able to survive them but now she knows. She has done it. She has survived the very thing she thought was unsurvivable.
She will make it. There may be other storms that come her way but she will make it.
She is a warrior.
Originally posted at suzescorner.blogspot.com
This space was originally created to share ideas and tools, and bring together women whose lives have been affected by a loved one's pornography addiction and/or infidelity. As well as those who support and love them. And all those who wish to become better educated about the issues of pornography and addiction in our society.