Fine?! I was terrified! I was living in a state of anxiety. What was going to happen to my marriage? My family? Would my husband lose his job? Would he ever change? Would life always feel as uncertain and scary as it did right now? What did my future hold?
I had known since the first couple of months of our marriage that my husband had a ‘porn problem’. But it wasn’t until about 7 years in that it hit -- the understanding that this ‘little problem’ had squirmed its way into every part of our lives. That he’d repeatedly almost lost his job because of his compulsive porn use. All the times he’d lied to me, all the hiding, minimizing, the shame, the resentments. How I’d trusted him so completely that I’d lost my trust in myself, my instincts, my gut, my connection to God -- all those times something felt off, I’d shoved it down and made myself learn to ignore those warning signs. Now I was standing there left with the feeling that my past had been robbed from me -- I couldn’t orient myself in my memories. I looked back on our life together and each happy memory was now a big question mark -- what didn’t I know when I was so happy? What was actually going on when I thought things were perfect?
But mostly, I felt alone. The rug had been pulled out from under me and I had nobody to talk to about it. Everyone thought we had the perfect marriage -- I had the perfect little family with adorable children and a doting husband. I felt like I couldn’t just spill my guts and cry out, “I don’t know what’s going to happen to my marriage! My husband has lied to me so many times I feel so unsafe in my life! I’m lost and depressed and scared and alone!” Instead I kept showing up at PTA meetings, bake sale fundraisers and Church events, with as much of a smile as I could muster.
But sooner or later I couldn’t keep it up anymore. I was shutting myself off from those around me. I found out later my sisters and sisters were whispering words like “postpartum depression” and “breakdown”. Loved ones were becoming concerned. My husband was beside himself with worry and guilt.
Very few people in our lives knew the ‘whole truth’ of what was going on. A couple leaders at Church, my husband’s parents -- but nobody to tell me that I needed to seek my own recovery -- about 12 step groups or group therapy. In fact, nobody had mentioned ME needing anything at all. The focus was on him. He needed help. He needed support. I needed to be supportive. If he just got into a good place, everything would be all better . . .
One day I was reading a blog post, and one of the comments was from the admin of the Hope and Healing forum, mentioning a place for women affected by a husband’s porn/sexual addiction to come together online. There were people talking about this online?! There were other women feeling like I did?! I signed up immediately and found myself at the door of a world of blogs and stories and compassion and empathy. A part of my soul healed that day.
Over time I got to know the other women blogging anonymously, or posting on forums with pseudonyms. They guided me to support groups and recovery resources that started to transform my life. But I truly believe the turning point in my healing came when ‘Faithfully Jaded’ emailed me and said, “Hey, a bunch of us are getting together in Salt Lake at Jacy’s house to meet. Do you want to come?”
I remember that night like it was yesterday. I sat out in my minivan, with my sleeping newborn and I debated whether I was really going to walk in to some stranger’s house and meet a bunch of women whose first names I barely knew. Would I walk in and would they look at me and think, “Well, no wonder HER husband looked at porn! She’s lame/chubby/boring/frumpy/weepy/dull!” It took me twenty minutes, and I almost drove away a couple times, but I eventually gathered my courage and walked in. I was met with a warmth and a love that I can’t describe. Women were hugging and introducing themselves -- though it felt like we’d know each other for years. We were telling our stories and crying, and sharing and laughing. I was struck by just how amazing they all were. Each of them were fantastically gorgeous and smart and funny and charming and sweet and amazing. Was I really one of these women?
And, though I’d told myself this many times, I truly began to believe it that night -- my husband’s addiction had nothing to do with me. This was an issue that had built up inside him long ago, and it did not demonstrate any lack of worthiness on my part. I walked away with two new truths burned into the depths of my soul:
I AM NOT ALONE.
I AM ENOUGH.
My entire life changed course that night. I’ve had the privilege and amazing opportunity to be involved with The Togetherness Project from its inception. To help other women realize that they are not alone, and that they are enough. To give women a safe place where they don’t have to just answer ‘fine’ when they’re having a bad day; and where they get to fill their lives with empathy, acceptance, love and understanding the way my heart was filled that fateful night when I was reassured of my inherent worthiness and found a home in the most amazing sisterhood.
I’ve found healing and recovery -- and some of my deepest friendships. As my husband and I walk this path of recovery, we live with an open authenticity that is a breath of fresh air that I had never even known I so desperately needed. We are constantly finding ourselves in positions to reach out and to tell someone else that they are not alone. That we’ve been there too. And that there’s so much hope.
I am no longer alone. And I don’t want anyone else to be either.
Together we rise above.