Stories of Hope – Ashleigh’s Story

My story of hope starts when I was young. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I never received the help that I needed as a young child, so there has always been a deep aching pain of self loath, and guilt.

My husband and I met shortly after graduation, and fell madly in love. We dated for a year and he left for his mission. He came home and we were married 4 months later.

After about a year of marriage the porn use began. It started with a few slips and continued to get worse over time.

The amazing driven man I married started to become degrading, mean, and I was blind to the manipulation.

I saw me as the problem. I was not giving him enough sex, attention, or serving him enough. I became extremely co-dependent.

He struggled with sexual addiction off and on for  six years and I always knew when he was acting out. I felt like an object. I would call him out, get him to confess sometimes, and we would do okay until the cycle started over again.

I felt no hope, and extremely trapped.

After having two babies I finally had had enough and the Spirit told me something was wrong. I needed to protect myself.

I sat him down, and told him I was ready to leave unless he was going to get help, and I was following through this time. I was really ready to leave. To be honest, I wanted to because I was sure I was stuck in the porn driven relationship for the rest of my life. But I made a deal with Heavenly Father that I would try one last time.

We completed one phase of a local addiction program, but it just felt as if something was missing. There was no connection with God.

So we tried the LDS 12 step. My husband enjoyed it, but I could not get over the “what is wrong with me? Why am I not enough?”

Everyone in the group was forgiving and moving forward, and I felt so out of place. At one point when it was my turn to share I asked, “How is this not about me? How can everyone sit here and believe that it is not about them?”

(I was so embarrassed. I never had the guts to go back.)

I was in a tailspin of pain, confusion and convinced that if I could just get my stuff together, lose thirty pounds of baby weight by starving myself, my husband would never be temped by porn again.

I felt like because I had experienced sexual abuse so many times in my life that it was not worth fighting. To me the evidence was all there that I was the problem, that I attracted and deserved all the sexual trauma in my life. The sexual abuse defined me.  

It became so hopeless I began to daydream about ending my life.

Why was my husband moving forward but I was moving back?

I worked up the guts and went to a therapist I happened to stumble upon online–she told me that she felt she could not give me the help to the extent I needed (talk about feeling rejected) and referred me to an in house center for eating disorders. I did the whole interview and they “highly recommended” I was admitted for in-house therapy.

After much prayer, it just did not feel right. At the time I had no idea the Lord was leading me down my perfect path to the help I needed.

My bishop was nothing short of inspired and got me in to Mindy Lundgreen who has forever changed my life. She explained that if one person is changing in a relationship and working, nothing can remain the same.

I didn’t see it at the time, but as I have worked harder than I ever have before, I can look and see how much change has happened in the last year. I started to attend WORTH group. My heart ached for every woman in the room. I felt a bond to women I had never met before, because we knew the same kind of deep ache of sexual addiction.

It was such a breath of fresh air.

I felt like I was in a safe place, other women felt what I was feeling!

At the time I didn’t understand how much emotional abuse was going on in the relationship, but with help from WORTH and one on one counseling, I am working to find the power of being true to who I am as a daughter of my Heavenly Father who deserves respect.

I am working on taking back my power, and working to respect myself.

Sometimes it feels like I am a professional at pioneer woman mode. I am practicing the tools of self care, which is the biggest thing that gives me the courage to fight everyday.

I can truly seeing Satan as the real source of ALL self degrading thoughts.

I can not control my husband’s actions, but that doesn’t mean I have to be a victim. I can look back at my journey and know that my Father in Heaven has MY perfect plan, and I KNOW he will continue to guide me and work miracles in my life.