Monday, June 13, 2011

"And My Soul Hungered" ...For Peace!

(One Women’s Struggle With Her Husband’s Pornography Addiction)

Shortly after WOV posted “Pornography and the Ones we Love,” A friend of WOV submitted her story to be published. Names of those involved have been changed for privacy concerns.

Claire’s Story:

Jerry and I met under perfect circumstances, the principle location and the ideal time. We were both students, one serving on the Primary Presidency and the other as the Elders Quorum President (a). Jerry was a returned missionary and attended the temple every week (b). We wanted to be married in the temple for time and eternity (c); that was the ultimate goal. I made it, all is well. Everything from here on out is going to be uphill, or so I thought naively.

Marriage is hard. It’s a continual work in progress with hurdles to jump and mountains to climb, but it makes it all the easier when you are together, reaching the peak hand in hand. What happens when that crumbles right beneath you; when everything you worked so hard for is gone in an instant? That’s what the effect of pornography does to self and family. It destroys.

I returned home after a very long day at work. Jerry was distant; my words just weren’t reaching him. I felt disconnected and isolated from him somehow. I didn’t understand. He’d just failed his degree and the aftermath was soul destroying.

“God doesn’t exist! Why would He allow something like this to happen? I did everything right. I served a mission (d). This career is what I wanted to do! I’m not going to church anymore.” Jerry fumed.

I tried everything I could by finding answers in the scriptures and from the prophets to explain to him why this had happened. But he had an answer to everything. I agonized over it constantly, it was the only thing I could think of, and everything else had no meaning. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep. Hopeless, I decided Jerry needed time, perspective.

A month or so had passed since then, but it felt like a lifetime. The situation couldn’t get any worse or so I prayed that it wouldn’t. One day I sat at the computer to continue with my studies. Countless numbers of pornography sites appeared in the search engine.

“How could this be? This must be wrong. This has to be some kind of error.” I thought. I clicked and investigated. I felt the beating of my heart in my throat; it was ringing in my ears. I wanted to vomit. My first instincts were right, pornography. Not just one or two sites, but a number closer to twenty. This would explain the icy shoulder he’d been giving me, but how could it be pornography? I felt paralyzed. I sat on the bed and waited. I knew I had to question Jerry, but I just didn’t know how. We’d made covenants (e) that protected us from this if we lived worthily, but he hadn’t. He’d not been to church for over a month now. And his countenance had already altered and the spirit (f) no longer directed him.

Jerry walked in after being in the bathroom, my palms were wet.

“What are these sites?” I probed him.

He walked over leisurely. As he saw what I was looking at his expression changed. He paused and I felt a canyon appear between us.

“Let me take a look.” Jerry innocently offered.

After examination he declared it must be a virus that had attacked the computer. I persisted.

“What virus does that?”

“‘I don’t know I’m no computer geek. How did you find this anyway?”

I knew instantly he was lying. I explained and asked him outright.

“Have you been looking at porn sites?”

Angrily, almost betrayed by my even asking, Jerry said “No.” I couldn’t let it go. Every fiber of my being was telling me I was right. I continued to ask over and over again, with each query came back the same answer, “No.”

I could no longer look at him, let alone sleep in the same bed as him. I decided to sleep on the couch. I couldn’t bear to be near him. I felt like I was going to suffocate. Downstairs on the couch I just laid there. Time seemed to stand still. Questions raced around my over processing mind.

“Maybe he didn’t do it; maybe it was a virus. He couldn’t have done this; he wouldn’t do this to me. He loves me.” I tried to convince myself. But this overwhelming feeling of infidelity kept sweeping in. I heard Jerry’s footsteps. He walked down the staircase and entered the lounge.

“Come to bed, please. I haven’t done anything wrong.” Jerry pleaded.

I didn’t even turn around and the silence grew. He left and eventually I went back upstairs to sleep, clinging to my edge of the bed. The thought of him even accidentally touching me turned my stomach.

Night seemed to quickly turn into early morning. It was summer so the sun rose early. I don’t think I slept a wink. I tried as quietly as possible to get out of bed, I didn’t want to face him, but as I arose Jerry called my name and it pierced right through me.

“It was me, it wasn’t a virus.’ He confessed, ‘It was a onetime thing, just one slip up, honest. I didn’t want to tell you, I didn’t want to hurt you. I’m sorry.”

I tried desperately to keep my emotions in check. I felt split with emotion. One part of me felt like my heart had been broken into a thousand pieces and he’d just come and danced on the remains. The other part wanted to scream and yell and cry with anger and betrayal. The latter got the better of me.

“How could you think that this wouldn’t hurt me? What excuse do you really have? You hold the priesthood (g)! You are endowed (h)! And to top it off, you are my husband! Am I not good enough for you? I don’t look the part enough for you? I don’t satisfy you? What is it, because I sure don’t know?” My blood boiled as I yelled at him.

The hurt, anger and disloyalty were just too much for me. I could feel myself almost screaming through the fountains of tears which rolled down my face. He didn’t have an answer; Jerry never did when he knew he was wrong. The severity of pornography weighed heavily upon me. It had always been an addiction I’d detested and he knew that. I had to get out. I dressed as quickly as I could, grabbed the car keys and headed to the door.

“Where are you going? Are you coming back?” Jerry asked.

I didn’t know the answer to either one of his questions, so I left without another word.

The early morning rush hour traffic hadn’t begun yet so the roads where still fairly quiet as I drove around endlessly trying to find some meaning, any purpose to the colossal situation which I found myself in. My eyes were red and sore from the continuation of tears. Questions kept firing round, sometimes vocally and others quietly.

“Was it truly a onetime thing? When did this happen and why? Was it me? Am I not enough for him? Do all men do this?” With each new question I could feel my self esteem weaken. I felt totally alone. I didn’t want to see anyone or speak with anyone, I felt completely humiliated.

Eventually, I found myself driving to my Mum’s house, by this time the traffic was starting to build and I’d had multiple missed calls and texts from Jerry wanting to talk. I tried to pull myself together as I approached the house, but as I made my way through to the kitchen, I broke down. I sat there for a number of hours crying, trying to make sense of it all, whilst my Mum just held me. She reassured me of my self- worth, my divine nature and the love my Father in Heaven (i) has for me. We sat and discussed what had happened and she asked questions which I needed to answer for myself before I saw him again.

“Do you want to leave him? Can you trust him again? Was it just the once?” I didn’t want to leave him, I’d made sacred covenants (j) and I didn’t take them lightly. I loved him, but the thought of dealing with this addiction was unbearable. If I was to make this marriage work though, I had too.

Twenty-four hours had come and gone since I sat at the computer the night before. I finally decided it was time to go home and face Jerry. Unlike the morning before I had become somewhat calm and willing to listen to the answers he had for me. I felt a rush of sickness as I walked toward the front door.

“What were his answers going to be? Did I really want to know?” It wasn’t so much about curiosity. But I wanted honesty, complete trust from him, and understanding. I no longer trusted him and it was going to take a lot of time, effort and love to regain what we once had.

I entered the house; the air could’ve been cut with a knife. Jerry looked relieved to see me come back. He stood there ready to embrace me, but I walked passed him to sit at the other side of the room. I didn’t know how to start this awkward conversation; it’s one I never ever thought I would have had to have with my eternal companion (k).

“Why?” I began.

He told me he didn’t know why. He had been on the computer late one evening and something popped up and he followed it, then he just continued. Jerry’s answer didn’t clarify anything for me. I continued to think that it was me, that he was bored of me. I felt like I had been doing something wrong that made him turn to pornography and that he was just saying those things to protect me from anymore pain. He again reassured me of his onetime error and his love for me. He promised to never do it again. I had my doubts, but I wanted so badly to forgive him and move on. I tried to articulate into words how I was feeling, how his actions and choices had made me feel. How disgusted I felt and how the thought of him looking at other women like that filled me with jealousy and anger. And how little trust and faith I had in him now. I expressed my concerns with him staying up late, being secretive with the computer, and watching inappropriate TV. Jerry acknowledged all of my worries and agreed to work on all of them. I felt a little at peace, but something still haunted me.

The days went by, the weeks and even months. I had pushed the pornography to the back of mind, or at least tried to. Everywhere we went though I felt like pornography was all around me. I had never noticed it before. The advertisements, billboards, newspapers, songs and even what people wore. I battled constantly trying to overcome what had happened, but I felt myself checking whether Jerry noticed these things all around us. I couldn’t bring myself to watch anything with sexual references in it, or listen to lyrics which were degrading to the sacredness of intimacy. I felt like he still didn’t understand how much this affected me. I would demand that the TV be turned off immediately if something slightly pornographic came on and he would be outraged.

“I’m enjoying the film, its good. Plus it’s only for like 30 seconds and it’ll be off in a minute.” Jerry reasoned.

I physically couldn’t bear it though. To me it still felt like pornography, even with clothes on. The same feelings still ran through me as he sat and watched the screen; the same insecurities and jealousy. Many times I tried desperately to make sense of it, “Was I now an utter prude? Did I over think everything? It’s just fun, isn’t it? No! I’m right, I knew I was.” The sanctity of marriage was being mocked and ridiculed for the world to laugh at. My own marriage felt like a mockery.

With time I wish that I could say it healed both of us, but it didn’t. With each passing night Jerry began to stay up later and later. I didn’t sleep while my stomach filled with knots. I would get out of bed and stand on the landing listening to the TV trying to make out what he was watching. “Was it something pornographic? Was he doing it again?” I’d ask him questions when he eventually decided to come to bed.

Why didn’t you come to bed? What were you watching?” Jerry automatically thought I was accusing him of breaking his promise. The icy looks began again. The silence, distance and guilty expressions appeared again. I knew it was more than a onetime thing, he had an addiction whether he wanted to believe it or not. I wanted to know for sure so I checked his email account. Dozens of pornographic websites and group emails were still there dating back from before his mission (L). This had been going on for years. All along he had been lying to me. This was out of control and I could no longer stand back and let it happen. I was emotional drained and it affected everything I did. I waited for the opportunity to arise to try and discuss the matter with him. But it never came, so I had to create it openly and boldly.

“Was this really a onetime mistake?’ I began whilst Jerry looked at me shocked by my question. ‘Or have you had trouble with pornography for some time?”

By the time I had finished he no longer made eye contact with me. Jerry raised his head a little and I waited patiently for his response.

“I don’t want to talk about this. I’m sick to death of talking about it. It’s time you let it go! It was a onetime slip-up and you just won’t forgive me! Is this going to continue to be an issue for you because I can’t handle it anymore?” Jerry retorted.

I was totally gob smacked. Not only had he just lied to me, again, but he was twisting this around to be my fault.

“You are kidding me. You’re blaming your lack of self control on me? I know for a fact you are lying to me. I know this is bigger than what you are making it out to be, why do you insist on lying to me? Tell me. I want to work this out, I want to help you, but I can’t unless you first acknowledge you have a problem with pornography.”

Livid by my remarks, Jerry looked me straight in the eyes and told me he didn’t have a problem and the way I was trying to make him sound like an addict was downright wrong. He never wanted to speak of this again. I could feel tears appear on my face, I fought them back. I didn’t want to cry for him any longer. Jerry didn’t want to help himself and he sure didn’t want any help from his wife. I was completely frustrated. I wanted to scream and yell at him and shake some sense into him, but I didn’t. I grabbed the closest thing to me, which happened to be the remote control and threw it as hard as I could against the brick wall. It shattered into tiny pieces and I walked upstairs, slamming the door as I left. That was the last I spoke of it.

Almost eighteen months went by before I eventually decided I needed to leave my husband. We didn’t speak to one another anymore unless it was essential. We both lived separate lives, but in the same vicinity. We attended church, family functions and events together, trying to play nice, and the happy newlyweds. But it took its toll. People began to notice the misery I tried to conceal within me. And I tried to write them off, but deep down I knew they knew how tired, depressed and unhappy I had become. I couldn’t stay like this; I needed to find peace and comfort. And as unfortunate and heart breaking as it was, that wasn’t with my husband.

A: Primary/Elder’s Quorum: The LDS Church is organized to perfect and bless the lives of its members. It gives opportunities to teach one another the gospel, fellowship and serve one another, and support one another in their quest for salvation. To be a president of Primary or Elder’s Quorum is to teach other members by age group. Primary is ages 3-12. Elder’s Quorum is 19 and older.

B: Temple: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates 161 Temples worldwide for religious worship among its active members. The Lord’s people are a covenant people. Inside the temple members receive ordinances (sacred ceremonies) by covenant. When we make such covenants, we promise to honor them. Baptism by immersion is a sacred covenant made in preparation for further covenants made in the temple.

C: Temple Sealing: In the Temple we can be married for time and eternity, thus making it possible for families to be together forever in God’s presence.

D: Mission: Young Men (age 19-25) and Women (age 21 or older) may choose to serve a two year, or 1 1/2 for women, service mission to Invite others (not of the LDS faith) to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.

E: Covenants: Is an agreement between God and His children. We do not act as equals in the agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and we agree to do what He asks us to do. God then promises us certain blessings for our obedience.

F: Spirit: The gift of the Holy Ghost or Spirit can come only after proper and authorized baptism, and is conferred by the laying on of hands by proper authority. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge.

G: Melchezidek/Aaronic Priesthood holder: To be a Priesthood holder is to have been given the power and authority to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. Melchezidek is the higher order in the priesthood and Aaronic is the lower.

H: Endowment: After at least one year of membership, worthy adults may be eligible to receive from their ecclesiastical leader a recommend to receive their own endowment. During this ordinance (sacred ceremony) members are given endowed with, or are given, a gift of power and knowledge from on high. After receiving their endowments, married couples may be sealed or married for eternity.

I: Father in Heaven: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the separate, distinct personages of the Godhead; namely God the Father or Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit distinct and separate from God and Jesus Christ.

J: See E

K: Eternal companion: Usually the spouse of one’s choosing is referred to as an eternal companion in the LDS Church. This terminology stems from the LDS Church doctrine on eternal marriage, not “death till we part.”

L: See D

According to Dr. Victor Cline in his article “Pornography’s Effects on Adult and Child,”

Any individual who regularly masturbates to pornography is at risk of becoming, in time, a sexual addict, as well as conditioning himself into having a sexual deviancy and/or disturbing a bonded relationship with a spouse or girlfriend…A frequent side effect is that it also dramatically reduces their capacity to love. Their sexual side becomes in a sense dehumanized. Many of them develop an ‘alien ego state’ (or dark side), whose core is antisocial lust devoid of most values. In time, the ‘high’ obtained from masturbating to pornography becomes more important than real life relationships…The course of this illness may be slow and is nearly always hidden from view. It is usually a secret part of the man’s life, and like a cancer, it keeps growing and spreading. It rarely ever reverses itself, and it is also very difficult to treat and heal. Denial on the part of the male addict and refusal to confront the problem are typical and predictable.”

In Jerry and Clair’s case this pattern of denial and refusal to admit there was a problem was also present. In some cases women will find out about their significant others addiction or “one time thing” and they themselves might find themselves making excuses for their spouse/boyfriend because they love them and they really are a good person. These excuses may very well be true, but what these women don’t realize is that they are escalating the problem by allowing it to continue and falling under what is termed a “Codependent.”

In Donald L. Hilton Jr.’s book, “He Restoreth My Soul,” he describes what happens to codependent partners.

“As the addicted person’s life unravels, those close to him are affected. Frequently, wives become codependent as they either try to control his behavior, thus becoming consumed in his addiction or acquiesce and allow their own values to change. (Patrick) Carnes defines nine processes common in codependent behavior in his book Don’t Call It Love. In this book he presents his results from working with over one thousand sexually addicted people and their spouses or partners.

1. Collusion. Many cover up for the addicted person by keeping secrets or lying.

2. Obsessive preoccupation. It is difficult for them no to play detective and neglect others in focusing on fixing the addict.

3. Denial. Ignoring the reality and keeping busy with other things can cause them to overextend in other areas.

4. Emotional turmoil. Codependent behavior causes people to ride an emotional roller coaster and have a hard time stabilizing emotions.

5. Manipulation. Some use sexuality as a tool to manipulate their spouse.”

Mary Anne Layden, Ph.D. testified before the United States Senate of the effects on the wives of men addicted to pornography by stating: “Some wives will resort to plastic surgery, especially breast implants. Research indicates that women who get breast implants are four times more likely to commit suicide as other women are.” Recent studies are calling us the NIP/TUCK generation and finding that plastic surgery is closely connected with emotional trauma/approval of one’s spouse and pornography. Such in Claire’s case women feel that they are not measuring up to their spouse’s fantasies and addiction. How can real women live up to the sculpted bodies made in the doctor’s office?

6. “Excessive responsibility. They are extremely tough on themselves and blame themselves for getting into the relationship in the first place and for not being able to stop the addictive behavior.

7. Compromise or loss of self. They may find they are giving up their own interests and even their values or morals in their attempts to accommodate those who are addicted.

8. Blame and punishment. Some have affairs or act out in other harmful ways; they may shame their spouse by telling intimate details of his current or past behavior to others.

9. Sexual reactivity. The predominate impulse was to close down sexually, although some might become hypersexual to hold the addict in the relationship.”

Or in the case of the overcompensating girlfriend they might marry the addict by mistakenly thinking that sexual intercourse within marriage will fix the person they love addiction. To that reasoning Dr. Victor Cline states:

“Being married or being in a relationship with a willing sexual partner did not solve their problem. Their addiction and escalation were mainly due to the powerful sexual imagery in their minds, implanted there by the exposure to pornography. They often preferred this sexual imagery, accompanied by masturbation, to sexual intercourse itself. This nearly always diminished their capacity to love and express affection to their partner in their intimate relations. The fantasy was all-powerful, much to the chargin and disappointment of their partner. Their sex drive had been diverted to a degree away from their spouse. And the spouse could easily sense this, and often felt very lonely and rejected.”

So what is the conclusion or answer to overcoming pornography addiction? Unfortunately, pornography is an unusual addiction with lasting effects on the lives of those who allow themselves to become involved in it. While talking with a man who had several addictions such as heroin, alcohol and pornography, he stated that pornography was by far the hardest to overcome and even though he had overcome his heroin addiction he had yet to conquer his pornography addiction.

But there is hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whose confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” –Proverbs 28:13. Through constant nourishment and humility one can overcome or at least keep his thoughts controlled. It’s a lifetime pursuit.

Additionally, in Donald L. Hilton’s Jr.’s book “He Restoreth My Soul,” he gives 10 steps to help those addicted and those in connection with them.

1. “Treat pornography and sexual addiction as a full addiction and not from a behavioral/spiritual perspective alone. We have not accorded pornography the respect and weight needed to take into account the tremendous effort required to save even one. To assist in the recovery, 12 Step support groups specific to pornography addiction must be available to all.

2. Individuals struggling with pornography and sexual addiction must understand that because this is a true addiction, they will not be able to stop unless they seek help from appropriate sources. You can’t resolve it privately with God!

3. Disclosure of each incident of viewing or sexually acting out is essential to obtain both repentance and recovery.

4. While we have emphasized prevention in the past, and should continue to do so, we must also recognize that virtually all of our young men and many of our young women are already seriously exposed, and are therefore already in need of treatment.

5. Understand that the majority of young men returning from missions are slipping quickly into addiction, and we must be ready to support them with 12 step support groups specific to pornography addiction immediately upon return from their mission.

6. Recognize that many married men are secretly addicted, and have support groups ready to help them emerge from addiction.

7. We must provide support groups for the spouse who has been harmed by the pornography/sexual addiction.

8. Realize the importance of educating young women as to the prevalence of tenacity of pornography addiction, so they will understand and be fully informed as they enter the world of dating. In this sobering environment we should counsel our young women to prepare to support themselves financially, as marriage is likely to occur later than in previous years, and divorce may be more likely. They must also be carefully nurtured themselves, as addiction to pornography and masturbation is increasing among young women.

9. Educate and train leaders to understand addiction and the importance of addressing both repentance and recovery.

10. While therapy and counseling are integral for many, 12 Step support groups should be the backbone of recovery, as not all will have access to therapists experienced in treating sexual addiction.”

Women, and Men, let us not be ignorant to the plague of pornography abounding in our lives today. If you or someone you know is experiencing similar situations, seek help from professionals. There is hope through humility, but never through justification. Take a stance against pornography and


1 comment:

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

thank you claire for sharing your story. I feel horrible you had to go through something like this. having something like this happen to me was one reason why I was so worried about getting married. ANYONE can fall.