In those weeks following that disclosure, I WISH I had gotten online and typed in “Pornography Addiction.” I wish I had understood the gravity of what a porn addiction actually was. I really had no clue. It would’ve helped A LOT to put our life on pause as much as possible while he decided if he really wanted recovery or not, but I just didn’t know how bad it really was. So if you just found out about your husbands “little problem,” and you are reading this now, you are doing GREAT! Find out as much as you can. Rip off the band aid. It will hurt, but you will be better off learning about this quickly and all at once rather than peeling it off slowly and waiting for tragedy to tell you just what this really means in your life.
My REAL disclosure, (the one that was 5 hours long where he decided to tell me every horrible thing he had ever done that he could remember) was about 1 year later. The very next day I hopped on a plane to attend the first ever Togetherness Project Conference. I could hardly move. My husband had to finish packing for me and drag me to the airport because of the shock and trauma. That conference was the most beneficial thing that I could’ve EVER done. Surrounding myself with TONS of women in the SAME situation, with the SAME feelings, and the SAME heavy weight on their shoulders was absolutely perfect.
When I got home, I had phone numbers, blogs, and Facebook friends to call on anytime, anywhere. Through being there I was also able to learn about TONS of other resources that had worked for other people. Resources such as; LifeStar counseling, Addo Recovery, Sexaholics Anonymous (for the addict), S-ANON (for the spouses), and blogs. All these resources were absolutely essential for me to learn about what I and my husband were going through.
I would like to share with you the things that helped me the most in the first weeks after my husband’s MAJOR disclosure. It has been 5 months since the major disclosure, and I still need many of these things. Many friends would ask, “What can I do for you?” but I had no idea what I needed. If I could go back, these are the things I would’ve said to them, because these were exactly what I needed.
- Attending the Togetherness Project Conference and becoming an active participant on the online private Facebook group. Meeting and getting to know as many women in the same situation as possible was the most normalizing experience that convinced me that if they could do it, so could I. I have now gone to church leaders and counselors in my area and given them my phone number specifically so that other women in the same situation can immediately have a friend to say, “ME TOO!”. We need this love and relating SO MUCH.
- Discovering and developing my story. Because of the new friendships I made at the Togetherness Project, I quickly moved out of the denial phase and straight into owning my story because I was asked “so, what’s your story?” by every new friend I made. My “mess” quickly became my message, and I found my purpose in life again through these very yucky circumstances I found myself in. So, what is your story?
- Started my own blog. Starting my own blog, writing down “my story” and determining a purpose in my new existence gave me a reason to keep moving forward each day. Writing on my blog has been the ABSOLUTE best healing tool. Putting my story on something tangible and offering it to the world made it real, and gave it value. It is a way for me to make sense of all that is happening now and all that has happened in the past. I have always journaled, but blogging added a new level of validation that I have never experienced with a private journal. I write anonymously and I hold nothing back.
- Reaching out: I am a bit different from most WoPA’s (wives of porn addicts). I have told SO MANY PEOPLE about the damage in our family. The night I asked my husband to move out, I texted my 4 best friends. I needed to know that I was loved and I received JUST THAT. None of them have turned out to be my greatest support, but they have individually been there at different times of my recovery. Right away I also told my church support system. The Bishop already knew but I told our women’s leader (the Relief Society President), the Sister Missionaries in our ward, as well as my visiting teacher. Then as intuition led me, I told even more friends and family. Reaching out has been SUCH a healing tool for me. I have always been a very spiritual person but the months following the disclosure I felt SO FAR AWAY from God. It was just darkness everywhere. It was these angels in my life that became a tangible reminder of God’s love for me. Don’t get me wrong, some people criticized and bombarded both my husband and me with bad advice. But MOST were just wonderful. They dropped off notes, anonymous gifts, served us, took me out of the house, listened to me, checked in on me, brought meals, shared scriptures, arranged cleaning parties, cared for my children, and gave me time to just be alone.
- Working through Addo Recovery: this is a free online resource that outlines a 6 week program with Dr. Kevin Skinner. There is a lot of research presented in this program that made me realize that I was experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and that the response I was having (the ballistic, crazy woman that I had become…) was COMPLETELY NORMAL. This also gave my journaling a focus, helped me to define what I needed to do in the relationship to take care of myself, and helped me redefine what is important to me as an individual, aside from my husband.
- Hiring a nanny. I hired a high school girl from church to nanny for us 2 days a week for 2-4 hours a time and we paid her $5/hour. I needed that so much. The NANNY was crucial.
You can follow my story on www.chainsoflight.blogspot.com.