I am 23 years old, and I am a female member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Let me tell you my purpose before I begin my story. The LDS church has a 12-step addiction recovery program that is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. This program is set up for all types of addiction recovery, and they even have family support groups as well. You can find a group near you here. This program has changed my life.
If any of you are struggling with addiction, or have a loved one struggling with addiction, I'd highly recommend it. It has helped me hugely. It has helped my relationship with my husband. And most of all, it has helped my relationship with Christ (which, ultimately has helped everything else straighten out as well).
I'm not an addict. My husband is. He is addicted to pornography.
I didn't know that when we got married. In fact, I made sure he wasn't addicted to pornography before we got married. I never thought he was, but I made a promise to someone that whenever the opportunity came to get married that I would ask that awkward question, "Are you by chance addicted to pornography?" just to make sure. And let me tell you, asking that question was awkward. He said no, we laughed, and then we decided to get married.
Six months after our marriage was when I discovered the lie.
It hurt. A lot. An indescribable amount.
I cried. A lot. More than I ever wish to again.
I thought, why me? Why us? Why him? Him?? My husband, who I thought was perfect? My knight in shining armor? He has this disgusting addiction? Of all people, and of all lies to come out... this.
It was HORRIBLE. I thought something was wrong with me. Every fear I ever had from every boyfriend I have ever dated came out. I didn't date good guys. I never had good luck. I always thought they were good, then the lies came out. The worst was the guy who dated me for the "game" of corrupting the Mormon girl. And then I dated around a lot in college because I didn't want attachment. I didn't want to get married yet. Then I met my husband and after dating him, after praying about it and making a very spiritual decision about it, I KNEW he was the one for me.
So, after my dating experiences, and just being a girl (come on, girls, your dream is to be good enough for that perfect man, am I right?), what was my biggest fear? My biggest fear was I'M. NOT. GOOD. ENOUGH. Right? That's why God would punish me with this. Obviously, I'm not good enough to have what I want, that precious eternal marriage. Because obviously, our sealing would not work out unless he could overcome this. And guess what? He has had this addiction for more than half. his. life.
I can say now that my husband didn't lie to me. I felt like he did for a long time, and when I get depressed and trapped by Satan, all those negative feelings come up. But really, he has tried for so long to overcome his addiction. He tried and tried and tried. And when we got engaged, he had been clean for long enough that he thought he finally conquered it. And he never wanted me to know that dark side of his past because it was gone. And he didn't think it would come back. I respect that.
Why did his addiction come back after we had been married for six months? Actually, three months. He told me after six. Well, I had some serious health issues come up, which caused me to get depression, and because of those health issues, we couldn't be the first-year honeymooners anymore. Our physical intimacy went down the toilet for a while until the depression and those health issues could clear up. So, I felt like it was my fault that it came back.
This is the first lesson I learned from recovering from the emotional and mental toll I have had from my husband's addiction, and I want all of you who have a loved one suffering from addiction to listen. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT. There are lots of chemical things going on with the brain, and no matter how much fault you think you have in this, it's not your fault. At all. Period. I have a bishop who told me that every Sunday to thank for helping me understand that.
You might be wondering why I am writing all this. Well, I have been through the addiction recovery program 1.5 times so far, and I am still working on it. It has changed me. It has changed my husband. Where six months after we got married, I contemplated the freedom/escape from this situation that divorce could bring, that is now replaced with a complete dedication to the gospel and my marriage. It's still hard. But I am healing. And I want to share my experiences so if I can touch someone, anyone, with my story, my hope, my healing through Christ, it will all be worth it.
Even if you're not in the face of addiction, I'd still recommend you try out the program, or get your hands on a manual and work it yourself. In my group, we joke about it being called "Using the Atonement: For Dummies." We all could use some help bringing the Atonement into our lives.
So, in this blog, I will talk about the 12 steps. I will even take you through all 12 steps and describe how my learning has taken place. I will tell you about my husband and our relationship. I will tell you what I have learned and am learning. Please, please, share this link on facebook or twitter or whatever. You never know who needs this. I only have 1 very close friend knows that this is happening in my life. So I can guarantee you that you don't know if your friends or family are struggling with this. Share!