I'd known for quite awhile about his 'occasional porn problem'. But when my world fell apart, the day I found out about all the lies, all the minimizing, all the financial consequences, I felt truly broken. And my life would never be good again until he figured out his life.
But, here's the thing. He dived into recovery. Really, truly worked recovery. He started LifeStar (I didn't, this wasn't 'my problem'.) He attended multiple SA meetings a week (I didn't work 12-steps, I wasn't the addict.) He went to therapy (OK, that I did too. I was drowning and pretending, and pretending to have it altogether while drowning is exhausting and scary, and I needed someone to talk to.) Lo and behold, balance and sanity and peace began to be restored in his life. He was not only sober, but actively working on himself, and becoming a better person who was not afraid to dig deep and figure out how to get untangled from everything that was holding him down. Meanwhile, I was still drowning, pretending, and being exhausted from pretending while drowning. And scared. Anxiety like I'd never known before.
I was so baffled -- he was doing better. Didn't that fix everything? Didn't that mean everything in my life could go back to normal? Why didn't I feel better?
I had a great support group of women who knew and understood me as I connected online and in person with WoPAs (wives of porn addicts) around the country. I wasn't alone. I felt validated and understood. And yet, I did not seem to be 'getting better'.
My stubbornness was eventually hit hard enough against the rocks of my pain and anxiety to crack open and let me finally realize that what I had heard from other women in recovery was true -- sitting back and waiting for him to get healthy would not fix my life, or make me happy myself. Even finding love and connection among my WoPA sisters wasn't enough. It was time to get to work. To dig deep. I started attending 12 step groups, and fortunately at the same time learned about Addo Recovery's free 6 week course for women suffering from betrayal trauma. A light went on, and so much of my life started to make sense as someone compassionately taught me about betrayal trauma. I began to heal as I shed the shame of 'why is this affecting me so much?' 'why does this hurt so bad -- what is wrong with me?' and 'am I enough?' and began to see how I'd ended up afraid and hurting and seemingly unable to move forward. It was life changing.
Now I felt supported, safe with my husband, and compassionate to myself for where I was at and how I'd gotten there. I had tools to dig out. I felt empowered, understood and loved. And I started to heal.
The interesting thing for me was for a year or so, this was good. I was happy, joy and peace and returned to my life -- but the longer I am in this recovery world, the more tools I'm introduced to, I'm realizing the ongoing nature of improving myself and maintaining peace. After working through my trauma progressed, I uncovered more and more about myself that I was not totally happy with. My judgmentalness softened as I learned compassion in recovery, but it was still easy for me to 'judge the judgers' and make unfair assumptions. I could be manipulative or even dishonest when I wanted to get someone to see things my way. I hung on to past hurts and held them too closely, to feel justified in my own behaviors and judgments. I still worked hard to project the 'right image' to those around me. The more I learn about myself, the more I understand that life is a work in progress. My recovery progressively becomes less and less about him and his issues and where they brought us, and more and more about me becoming who I am meant to be -- who I am capable of being. There are beautiful things about me that I didn't learn about until I actively worked recovery, and there were less beautiful things that I would've never recognized or worked to change without recovery.
I don't believe that recovery is ever wasted. It is the trek inside ourselves. The work of digging out that which we wish to rid ourselves of, and the beautiful work of coming to know and love who we are, recognizing all the gifts and strengths we've been blessed with. I would not be who I am now without recovery -- and I can't wait to see who I become in the future as I continue to progress.
Contributed by a member of our Togetherness Community private facebook group. To find out more about our Togetherness Communities, click here.