She is just a toddler – whispy hair and a pretty little smile. She’s sweet as can be and she adores my husband. I put a new dress on her and she beamed looking down… More
In brief, here are our surrounding circumstances.
The soul of a porn addict’s wife is troubled.
I doubt myself. I don’t trust him. I wonder if we’ll ever be free.
It’s a terrible weight to bear for us both and we have to face the pain. He’s an addict who cheated on me with his mind, heart, and body. “The other woman” isn’t real, which makes her difficult to compete with.
But it’s not my job to compete with “her.” It’s my job to love him. Christ never relents in his mercy and love and because I made vows to to the same, I will continue, knowing I can only do so if I draw close to Christ and imitate him to the best of my ability.
I’m navigating these waters with spiritual direction and online courses on coping and reacting. (as of Aug. 2015)
I need a safe place. An anonymous place. I am one of countless who live ashamed of this secret in their marriages. I need Jesus.
Every Sunday, Bloom sends out a journal question.
Write about the hardest thing you have ever done or been through in your life. How did this “hard thing” influence your life?
Hands down, the hardest thing in my life has been coping with my husband’s addiction. Or not coping, rather. It wasn’t until last year that I began to address my own behaviors, realizing that the snooping was wrong, how prevalent the PTSD was, how I hated him. It’s like I stood back and saw the wreckage of my life brought on by his pathology as well as my own response, and tiny piece by piece tried to set my heart aright.
Before this I just made it harder for myself. Yes, it’s always been hard knowing about the pornography and the fact that he was poisoning his own mind and being so terribly and repeatedly unfaithful to me; and though detaching and stepping out of the way of porn’s wrecking ball isn’t something I couldn’t wrap my mind around or even begin to practice for a while, it’s the way to healing.
And I wonder if I postponed our shared recovery because of my own behavior. Would we have gotten better sooner if I had let myself get mad (because neither he nor I had allowed it) or blatantly told him that I wasn’t going to live with his addiction anymore? If I had been brave sooner?
Of course I can’t course I can’t sit here and torture myself over the What Ifs, but I suspect if the Addict’s Spouse were to push through fears and hesitations, then he/she would be set on the road to healing.
In our case, God’s timing was perfect. Is perfect.
I totally lost it about a year ago and shaken from a horrible PTSD episode, I reached out to my spiritual director. I started taking Bloom classes. I let myself feel royally ticked. off. after years of digital infidelity on my husband’s part. I got brave enough to be my own advocate and stand up for myself and ultimately for our marriage and him, too in a way. He went on a retreat and had a miraculous conversion. We are healing. We’re honest. He knows me fully now and everything I swore I could never, would never tell him, I’ve told him. AND he received it all with grace.
Could we have healed sooner? Maybe. But we’re healing now. And I’m so grateful. I love him and we know and see each other more deeply in our vulnerability.
It’s really easy to blame him for all of my problems. Too easy.
But the truth is, I have a whole heap of crap to deal with. Problems I’ve had my whole life that, true, when mixed with his porn addiction just exploded and turned me into someone I never wanted to be – but at what point do we stop pointing fingers and realize our choices have always been our own? At what point will I stop being a victim to his addiction and realize I’ve had the power to control myself the whole time?
I’m not a very trustworthy person. I’ve spent my life disappointing others and disappointing myself.
Follow me for a second –
I used to fantasize about my husband’s future sobriety, knowing for certain that peace would reign and at long last I’d be able to trust him.
I’m terrified to trust him. I want to. Desperately. And I’m fairly sure that I can. But I keep waiting and waiting for something to click; some kind of switch to flip that will give me the peace only trust can. When will I really believe he’s not looking at porn and lusting after every woman in sight?
So I signed on to Bloom and started the “Speed of Trust” class because I’m all about fixing myself as fast as possible. Check a box. Be healed.
The third or fourth lesson of the class emphasized that trust begins with the self. How trustworthy am I? Do I have the character and competence it takes for someone to trust me?
And I don’t. I let things fall through. I renege. I fail to follow through. I don’t do the things my husband asks like calling the electric company, etc. Sometimes it’s because of fear of facing something difficult. Sometimes it’s because I’m lazy. Sometimes it’s because I have an anxiety disorder. Other times it’s because I fear the inevitable responsibility that will come when people learn they can consistently count on me. I fear success because I know I’ll eventually disappoint.
And then I spend quite a bit of time coming up with excuses and making them look like reality, when really what I lack is accountability.
So I think – and here’s the point – once I start becoming a trustworthy person to myself and to others, it will start healing my trust toward my husband.
Y’all. I wish I could articulate how impossible this seems. The Lord is going to have to break lifelong habits here, defense mechanisms, and thought processes; and I’m terrified.
But more than terrified, I’m tired of being half the person I want to be.
Change me, Lord.
He was on a weekend retreat, gone to pray with a bunch of men and grow spiritually.
I sincerely encouraged him to sign up several months prior, knowing it would be good for him.
By the time the retreat weekend rolled around, I couldn’t wait for him to leave. I needed space. The sight of him alone was a trigger to anxiety and anger. While he was away, I broke down. I have three people who can hear me and be a safe place. No one was available and at last I got a hold of one person.
I hate him! I shouted into the phone. I’m leaving.
Dark clouds fell over my heart. I’ve never been in a more desperate place. I knew I hated him. I hated myself for marrying him. I hated him for fooling me and exploiting my love and innocent sweetness.
For a second, with crazed, wild bliss I allowed myself to entertain it. What if he weren’t in my life anymore? What if I took the kids and moved out? I have enough professional experience to feed us, stand on my own feet, and be rid of him and his awful addiction enough to feel sane. I wasn’t going to kick him to the curb, but I wanted to show him I didn’t have to stay. Our marriage is valid and there wouldn’t have been any hope of an annulment; we’ll be sacramentally tied forever, but that doesn’t mean we had to live together.
And it was amazing. For the first time, I could breathe. I felt calm. There was amazing relief in the idea alone.
For just a moment I pieced things together and made a small plan. If this can’t be fixed, I’ll do it.
I can’t comment on anyone else’s situation but mine, but I’m glad I never went through with it.
He came home from the retreat and our kids were at my in-laws’ to play. He sat on the couch and held his hand out for me to take. I placed mine – cold and limp – in his and waited. Whatever amazing experience from the weekend he was going to tell me about, I didn’t care. It didn’t take away from what he was consistently doing to me, us, and the kids.
“I realized you’re afraid of me,” he began.
Without a hint of emotion on my face, I nodded slowly. I was afraid of him. I still am. I’m afraid of him continuing to hurt me. I’m afraid of losing him. I’m afraid of disappointing him. I’m afraid of him looking at me with disgust because I pale in comparison to some hot, naked thing on a screen.
“I don’t want you to be afraid. I want you to feel safe. I’ve hurt you and I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”
So it was out. We talked and I cried. He told me he wanted me to be open and tell him my feelings, what I thought of, and have experienced.
And regularly since then – for nearly 4 months – we’ve been open and honest about everything. I’ve had a running list of things I never thought I could tell him about – this blog, the fact that I wanted to leave him, the few people I’ve told about his addiction, hurts in my past.
He’s not a different man – he’s a man made new. I asked him what happened, why he’s suddenly open to me. He told him that Jesus came to him when a priest led him through meditative prayer. “Engage in your vocation,” Jesus commanded.
And for the first time, he’s seeing me. He wants to see me. He wants to see my heart and though I’m scared giving it to him, I’m trying. It’s so hard to trust after years of being hardened against him, but our days are brighter.
My anger resurfaces and despite his sobriety and eagerness to share his own heart with me and receive mine, the pain comes back. My doubt drives me mad. My PTSD is triggered and I become hyper vigilant and triggered by every pretty girl and every span of time he spends alone in our room.
Jesus Christ, son of David, have mercy on me! You are saving us and I see it. I’m so grateful. Please help me to be a good steward of his heart and mine, of our marriage, and our gradual healing. Help me to be kind and generous to myself. Please heal me of anxiety and PTSD. Help me to bear all suffering with grace and eagerness to invite you into it. I ask this in your Holy Name through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen.
I was boiling, ready to burst and break down when my spiritual director called me. Then hope. Talking things out is so painful because it’s in mulling everything over that old wounds and long-felt anger surface. It was in talking to him that I realized I feel alone. But praise the Lord I had a healthy place to release the tension, an ear to listen to me when no one else can, and offer holy guidance.
What makes me so sad is recalling who I used to be and who many believe I still am – I was a bouncy, happy little thing. Full of life and joy. Ever the optimist. Happy to clean. Happy to journal. Happy to anything. Now I’m a mess. I cry daily. I tip toe around my husband, never sure if he’ll be warm and affectionate or standoffish. Sometimes he’s cold because he fell that day. And he thinks I can’t tell. I’m not that dense, Baby. After years of reading your book, I have you somewhat figured out.
I swear we’re a pair of teenage girls. Or cats. Moody and unpredictable. Ridiculous.
Life feels a little implosive. My small children overwhelm me and I have a hard time being the kind, nurturing mother I know I need to be. I snap at them. I dismiss them. I’m at home but emotionally unavailable.
There is no safe place in my husband and I’m caught between desperately wanting to trust him – for him to hold me and tell me this is all in the past and we can be brand new together – and just hating him. Really hating him. I’ve gotten to the point when I’ve said it out loud – not to him, to myself; I don’t want to do that kind of damage – and even though it’s not where I want to be, doing so gave me the chance to validate myself. But Jesus, oh Jesus, help me to love. Help me to love You through this.
Another safe place cracked recently. Innocently done; but my secret was leaked. Chances are it won’t go much farther, but I feel foolish for trusting.
And my third safe place wasn’t available.
Brow furrowed and jaw tight, I cast an almost irritating gaze above. I don’t want to talk to You. But with nowhere to go, God really has left me no choice. “Talk to me or lose your mind,” He says. Fine.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the desert,
and speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14)
By His very Nature, Christ is my refuge. I know that in my head, but it’s so hard to make that heart connection when He has allowed this. I suspect, however, that he allows this because in His Perfect Will, he knows that this will draw me closer to Him.
It’s really hard to trust the Lord when you feel like you can’t trust a soul on earth. But it’s not my earthly experience that is the measure for my relationship with God, but the other way around.
Jesus Christ, have pity on me, a confused, stubborn sinner.
How to maintain secrecy: If you don’t want anyone to know, then don’t tell anyone.
I listened to a talk recently and a priest advised, “What is the hardest part of your life? It could be another person. It could be yourself. What’s the hardest part?”
And immediately I knew – his addiction. It’s the most horrible, difficult, wretched part of my life. I hate it. Sometimes I hate him.
“That is the part of your life where God will make you saint if you allow him,” the priest continued.
And it’s true. I’m no saint now – I snoop from time to time when I’m weak and can’t stand the secrets. I harbor resentment. I hate him. I fantasize about kicking him out and finally being free of someone who only partially loves me. Do you know how easy it would be to breathe and be happy? Even if it were just me and the kids, I could totally do it. My life is spent trying to please him and I never will. I’ll never be enough. My efforts amid incessant fatigue are a far cry from where they’d be if I had my full energy and full, supportive love from my husband – so what he sees is a withered bloom failing to raise her head. I’m overwhelmed easily. I’m fearful. But the thought of achieving sainthood by overcoming all of this, by offering it to God in supplication of his grace, knowing this suffering of mine is my ladder to heaven, is a hopeful one.
I feel alone. I don’t talk to anyone who can identify. There are thousands of us wives of porn addicts, but no network to my knowledge because it’s just shameful all around. The spiritual director I see is hard to get in touch with. He’s so busy and his work is important.
I need to get back on the Bloom train. Bloomforwomen.com has been a blessing to me.
God help me.
I haven’t written in ages, mostly because my work has increased and I just feel taxed, spent, and exhausted.
This area of our marriage has crept to a back burner and hides in the shadows, mostly forgotten in the moment. But I still have reminders, little cues that this is a problem for him, which in turn reminds me that I can’t trust him. I feel so foolish sometimes.
Some days I’m not sure how or why we got married. We think so differently. It’s clear that he resents me sometimes. I feel stronger and more self-assured when he’s not around. Is it because of this? Am I more confident in his absence because I don’t feel like I have to make him happy or try to impress him? We’ll never separate or divorce because we made vows and it’s a given we’ll stick with them.
Time for bed.
God help us.
I approached him and told him that I needed to tell him how I feel; that I was writing it out in a letter and that part of my recovery is the need to be heard by my husband.
This…might have been a bit much for him.
Regardless, he told me that he’s been “struggling” and he’s found his way around several blocks we’ve established; BUT, he told me, he’d been sober and was feeling fantastic.
This is great news for him, for us; but I’m still bleeding and reeling from the last 7 years.
Over the course of a few days, I calmly laid out everything that I wanted to tell him: the PTSD, the intense fear, the feeling like I’m married to a stranger and I don’t know who he is. Neither do you know me, I told him, unless I make myself vulnerable to you this way. For years and years I’ve been stuffing and silencing and growing in anxiety and fear from all the accounts of infidelity I’ve learned about, and even those I’ve not.
I told him I’m seeking spiritual direction for this particular problem, namely for the issue of being a porn addict’s wife.
He’s remained civil, but unmoved. He thinks my issues are rooted elsewhere. The words he offers are such intense, intelligent denial that there’s no breaking through.
I love him. I vowed to stay with him. And I will. But sometimes I really can’t stand him.
Jesus help me – this post is so emotionally charged. I’m hurt that he’d throw me to the wolves and that he secretly mocks and doubts me and my suggestions. He is not my teammate. In this, I feel we are at odds.
Kyrie eleison. Holy Queen, help me to imitate you!
I’ve stopped reading my Al-Anon book and it’s showing. My coping and self-control is shot and all I want to do is control and manipulate my husband into sobriety.
Which is not the way to go about this.
I’m realizing that I would prefer being simply released from obligations and general good behavior. Maybe to just be a child and have the excuse of extreme youth to absolve my attitudes and tantrums. But here I am – nearly 30 – with kids and a life to manage.
From now until I hit the sack, I will focus on myself and my own wellness and sanity. I will not dwell on my husband’s actions, but consider what I can do to make myself stand a little taller.
St. Bartholomew, pray for me!
It’s amazing now, having a little more self awareness, what I can see are triggers to my panic. I am far more fragile than I realized and it seems that my poor coping habits are deeply set.
I had a panic attack this morning. My kitchen was (is) a disaster and I realized there weren’t the usual components for my husband’s lunch, which I usually make. Because we didn’t have one of the key ingredients (making his typical lunch impossible to make), I immediately felt like a failure. I tried to hide it. I can’t recall what, but I forgot something else, too. And then I was testy with the kids. I needed to take a shower, but couldn’t squeeze one in before we had to be somewhere mid-morning. That kicked me over the edge. Paralyzed by my own failures, I felt part of me die. I felt depressed and incapable. I was confused and lost in a whirlwind of emotion.
To be honest, the idea that I might have PTSD scares the living daylights out of me. PTSD – it sounds so weighty and significant. The idea that I need a full screening, need a conversation with my husband about it, need help terrifies me. I hate, HATE the idea of being a burden. I don’t like to take up someone’s valuable time. I don’t like to cost our family money because of my own dysfunctions. It occurred to me this morning, am I making this all up? Am I just acting out in my own way – allowing myself to be emotionally charged in order to get attention? I want to hush those thoughts because I know I need help, but I also want to entertain them because what if?
I emailed him at work, asking for prayers. I briefly stated I was having a mild panic attack and felt paralyzed. I needed his support, but didn’t want to draw him from work or burden him with my stuff. He called me right away – and I felt horrible. My explanation was scattered and vague – I haven’t told him about the possibility of PTSD and I didn’t in our conversation.
In short, he was super supportive. Told me to get out there and do what I can, but that I’m free of obligations for the rest of the day. After getting out with the kids for a few hours, driving through for lunch, and now letting them intake far too much TV, I’m trepidatious again. I have things to do tonight that require my mental presence tomorrow. I haven’t felt shaky for so long before and I’m not even sure I know why.
I worked out. Day 5. Planks are killer, but the last few seconds I grunted out “I can do this” over and over.
I went to a live Q&A through Bloom and gained some insight from a professional SA counselor. It was helpful.
How do you drink the ocean? One sip at a time. My recovery, self-discovery, and struggles are overwhelming, but I can only do what I can do.
I listened to a podcast yesterday entitled “Am I Crazy?” – it covered the wild emotions and thoughts a wife endures and then at the end, the doctors advised their listeners to take a PTSD assessment and proceed with the results, whether positive or negative. I found an instrument and was surprised at how many boxes I could check to the affirmative. Insane.
No – actually, not insane.
I’m not sure where to go now. The conclusion of the assessment suggested I see someone for a full screening and that the symptoms I reported were in line with PTSD.
Insomnia. Hyper vigilance. Can’t go too long without thinking about it. Emotional responses. When I’m triggered I feel as though I’m looking at a stranger.
And you know what? It makes sense. We’ve been married for a good while now and over the last few years I’ve wondered why my sensitivity has just gotten worse. Why my fear has deepened instead of subsiding with the “security” of added years? It’s because I’ve developed this reaction to his addiction, having never before been familiar with how to cope with this in a healthy way.
I worked out again today. Day 3. I worked out around my kids and they watched me lift 5 lb dumbbells. They were so hilarious, “Wow Mommy! You’re so super strong!” I smiled. “I am!” I said, “Watch this!” and I’d do more reps. I was trying to do as many push ups as I could in a minute (the number is mildly embarrassing…) and at one point I just dropped to the ground out of sheer exhaustion. But I knew they were watching so I got up and kept pushing myself. They need to see me try, fail, and keep trying. My own parents covered up their failures, which in the long run ended up making me feel like a failure when I didn’t succeed.
This isn’t much different. I will have horribly difficult days. I will want to withdraw. I will want to leave or want him to leave. But I won’t. I’ll get back up.
The PTSD, if that’s what I have, is not his fault. It’s my reaction. I’ve been approaching his addiction the wrong way and it’s time I learned how to get up.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph help me!
St. Monica, pray for us!