Beyond His Porn Addiction
Resurfacing and Reclaiming hOMe
I Have Thought of You A Million Times
Over the past few months in quarantine, I have been so grateful. Grateful for having a home that is my sanctuary and a soft place from which my daughter launched into her first professional job. My college aged son and I helped her move across the country, during a pandemic, to a brand new life where she knew no one. The process of packing, researching and deciding on an apartment, then making the three day drive together felt like a journey, marking both an ending and a beginning.
I reflected back on her childhood during the weeks leading up to this move. I had mixed feelings, you see. While I am incredibly proud of her resilience and confidence to even dare such a move, I felt regret that her early home life was painful. Given my own childhood, that was the last thing I had wanted.
Both of my children’s lives were greatly impacted by their father’s porn and sex addiction. My process of discovering and then responding to his addiction led me to eventually divorce him when they were 8 and 4 years old.
My days used to vacillate between feelings of shame, minimizing, denial, hope, fear and anger, all kept underground to try to spare my young children. I tried everything to reach him, even making it all ok by joining him for awhile, until I just couldn’t live the lie THAT much.
I kept it all underground by focusing on parenting, researching how to help him, venting to my best friend, working out and drinking.
It took my mother’s death at the age of 64 to wake me up. This was no way to live, and life is way too short. So I left and began the process of divorcing him, assuming he would give me primary placement, as I had been the stay at home parent.
Instead he fought that and I found myself trying to find professionals who “got it” about porn and sex addiction, as it relates to child safety. Back then, this addiction wasn’t as well known, so the reaction I got to my concerns was less than informed.
It felt so unnatural to want to protect my children, using my voice to advocate to prevent a crisis, only to be told we had to wait for something bad to happen and hope it would be enough to convince a judge. WHAT?!?!
Once I exhausted all my legal and therapeutic options, which consumed several years and thousands of dollars, I railed at the world.
I outlined part of this process in my previous blog and wrote a book (which I am updating and releasing this Fall) to help other women in a similar place. That was 10 years ago.
And life moved on.
In the middle of this crazy circus, I made a new life for me and my kids. One sane parent would have to be enough, as it was all I could influence. I let go of if he ever will get better, which was a tough one. Particularly as we still had joint placement.
Life kept throwing me wake up calls. As our children grew, my contact with their father slowly diminished. I could hear my own voice again, not filtered through his perspective or my reactionary one.
Through it all, I got clear and established healthy boundaries, once I learned what the heck that meant. I prioritized my own healing and care- not his. And slowly I resurfaced to life in a way I had never been.
I got present. Through practicing yoga and mindfulness I learned to recognize I am not what happens to me. I found a place of peace and clarity from which I can respond to life, not react.
Over the past few years, I honestly rarely thought about porn addiction, him, or all my kids and I had been through “back then”. My blog went by the wayside and my book went un-promoted, eventually going out of print. It was all in the past, where it belonged.
Then as CoVid-19 lock down continued, and people started talking about how isolation, domestic violence, addiction and abuse is increasing, I started thinking about my past self, wondering how I would’ve handled all this on top of all that. And I thought about you, wondering how you are holding it together.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine reached out looking for resources for a friend. Her friend’s husband is addicted to porn, and she is starting to surface out of the feeling stuck.
I have learned to trust what I refer to as spirit- the gentle nudges, coincidences, knowings, signs. Whether she is my soul, higher self, God/dess, matters not. What matters is that life has gotten infinitely better as I have started to hear/feel her, and then follow where she leads. This call was one such nudge that I chose to follow.
I shared a local therapy center that our family had used, as well as a few online resources, including FighttheNewDrug.org. When I searched, I found there are a few more books available now, then there were 15 years ago when I started my surfacing. Some are written by professionals, some by other wives. I am glad to see that, and also sad because I know how the resources are still just a drop in the bucket in comparison to the need.
And the need is growing and growing. Depending on which source you read, 40 million Americans regularly view porn and the age of first exposure is getting younger- currently 11 years old.
I can only imagine how those pre-Covid quarantine statistics have skyrocketed, as isolation and stress has increased.
Which brings me to you, now. I have been concerned but compassion without action is simply observation.
My heart has been stirred to open up that part of my life again so, it is from this place that I extend a hand of hope to you.
I live on the other side – I know with every fiber of my being that leaving and choosing me, was the best decision for me and my children. I don’t pretend to know what is best for you or your situation. I only know it’s important you have the space to find that answer yourself.
If you have wondered if porn is a problem for your relationship, if you know it is but feel stuck or if you think you can’t change anything and are just resolved to stay together “for the kids”. I get you.
If you don’t live with, but still co-parent with a porn addict and wonder if you will ever exhale, I get you too.
In case you haven’t heard this before, you get to matter. Really. You get to be the biggest factor in all this. For you and for your kids.
You are strong and can start again, or stay and claim your space. You are not a victim and don’t need to be silenced.
I am not sure where this journey will lead. I only know I was nudged by spirit to begin writing again.
Yogic philosophy teaches us that, with each breath, we begin anew. And so it begins, again.
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