I was flooded with memories this weekend—things I had shoved back over the past few years. These memories are all related to my betrayal trauma, and it actually felt good to remember. It felt good because I was embracing, not shoving away. It was validating, and facing these memories was an important step to helping me heal. I was reminded that the things I am feeling right now are natural consequences of the trauma I have experienced.
I remember feeling crazy—literally insane—during the months after the car accident, which happened three weeks after we were married. I had back and neck injuries. I probably had post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of the physical and emotional injuries I suffered, it was hard for me to be intimate. It was hard for me to open up to him because I felt like he didn’t truly care. Something was off. It seemed like he was frustrated with me constantly, which made me feel all the more crazy. I felt pressured into sex because he needed it. I gave in, despite the pain in my back. We had problems. We had just gotten married, and we had some serious issues. It scared me, and I took all the blame. I thought I was a terrible wife. I thought all of our problems were my fault.
I remember the pain I felt when he told me about his addiction. I felt betrayed because, well, that is the natural consequence of discovering your husband watches disgusting things and looks at disgusting pictures. I felt betrayed because that is the natural consequence a woman would feel upon learning her husband had sexual fantasies about other women. But I also felt betrayed because of all the time I thought I was crazy, when in fact, he was the one with the problem.
I remember the blame I felt when he told me about his addiction. I thought I drove him to it because I couldn’t be intimate after the car accident. I felt like all of my crazy had taken its toll, and he was just done with me. I felt blame because the car accident was, in a way, my fault. If I hadn’t driven down that road at that time, the lady wouldn’t have hit me. She would have run the stop sign and hit no one because I wouldn’t have been there. It wasn’t a road I normally drove down. I went a back way home from where I was coming from that morning. So, naturally, everything was my fault.
I remember him telling me about the “porn problem” and thinking it was an addiction. I remember doing research, but to no avail. I remember finding out about the 12-step meetings and wanting to go, but he told me no. He told me he could conquer it: after all, he had conquered it before. I remember feeling so much trauma that I didn’t know I could disagree. I thought I had to do everything he said to save my marriage.
I remember considering divorce. We had only been married six months.
I remember the lies.
I remember the hurt.
I remember the forgiveness. Then more lies. More hurt.
I remember the times I wanted to trust. I even put myself out there, only to have the trust broken. Again. And again.
I remember feeling alone and not understanding why I couldn’t tell people. I remember being frustrated because my bishop even told me that if my husband didn’t want me to tell, I shouldn’t because it is deeply personal and could cause more problems in our relationship. This is something most people don’t talk about openly, and if my husband didn’t feel comfortable with it, it needed to stay between us. I didn’t want more damage to our relationship, so of course I kept it hidden between us.
I also remember my bishop basically just giving him a pat on the back because “he had confessed” and that was a good start. It didn’t seem right, but he was the bishop, so I went along with it.
I remember feeling like a babysitter, using filters and passwords to keep him clean. I didn’t think that was my responsibility, but, as my bishop pointed out, taking it away was the first step to him being clean. Not that he didn’t find it in other places anyway…
I remember broken promises.
I remember getting rid of movies, but not being able to explain to friends and family why we couldn’t watch certain things.
I remember moving into a new ward. When we told our new bishop about the problem or addiction or whatever we called it at that time, he let me know it was not my fault. He let me know it had nothing to do with me. He let my husband know it was sinful and wrong. He let my husband know he was not fulfilling his duty as my husband or keeping his covenants. It was a very different change in counsel, and it made for a great change in our lives.
I remember when we moved to our current ward, and our bishop told us he had hope for us. We came in to our first meeting with him holding hands, and he said that meant we had something that could make it through the damage that had been done.
So much damage has been done. I’m finally realizing that it is totally, 100%, okay for me to withdraw. It’s okay for me to need my time. It’s okay for me not to trust. It’s okay for me to be impatient and emotional. It’s okay for me to feel betrayed. It’s okay for me to open up. It’s okay for me to cry. It’s okay for me to live in the present.
It’s also okay for me to love and trust. It’s okay to have hope that we will be healed. I have hope that my love will one day be perfect. I have hope that I will trust again.
The journey has been long and painful. But I wouldn’t change this for the world. We are learning and growing, and our marriage will be more precious later on because of this trial, the beautiful heartbreak.
PS, I have good memories too. My favorite is the look I see in his eyes when he really sees me and his heart is full of tender love. Just thinking about that look makes my heart skip a beat. My other favorite is the times he has broken out of his comfort zone to dance with me and be a goober.