Stories of Hope – Emily’s Story

D-day was just over two years ago. 

My husband and I had planned to go to the temple that morning, but instead he woke me up early to tell me that he was addicted to pornography, and then sent me off to the temple alone. 

I was in shock that whole day.  It wasn’t really registering. 

My initial reaction to him had been to love him, comfort him and tell him we would work through it together.

The next day the questions started rolling through my mind.  What did this mean about him?  Us?  Our relationship?  Me? Did this mean all of our covenants were worthless?  How far had his addiction gone?  How many times in our marriage, had I been deceived?  Was I just an object to him?  Was this a factor in some of the most painful and difficult fights we had?  Why had God told me to marry a man with an addiction?

He wanted to talk to the bishop, but felt no-one else should know.  That would just be “airing dirty laundry.” 

I was feeling sick to my stomach, weak and achy.  I needed to talk to someone, too. 

Finally, he agreed I could talk to my sister, whose husband we knew had had an addiction, but we assumed he was “recovered.”  She took me to a park and we walked and talked and she held me while I cried.  She told me her husband was not healed yet.  She told me of the pain, and difficulties it has caused her marriage. She stayed with me until she had to be somewhere else. 

I was such a wreck at that point, I didn’t want to go home to my children and husband.  So she took me to my in-laws.  I knew they loved me and my husband.  I knew they would have calm wisdom.  They did.  They were totally shocked and heartbroken, but gentle, loving and hopeful.  Eventually I was calm and went home.

The next day I started researching.  There had to be help, resources to help us.  Jonathan’s mom called with a suggestion that I encourage Jonathan to check out Men of Moroni

I looked up the website, and while on it, was offered a chat window asking if I needed help.  I told them I had just learned of my husband’s addiction.  She recommended I visit with Jennifer, the counselor for wives at Life Changing Services, as well as have Jonathan come to Men of Moroni that week.

I wanted healing and relief from the intense pain, and Jonathan wanted to be free. So, although very nervous, and at my pleading, we did both.  I took every recommendation for a book given me and read it, and tried to apply every instruction I was given. 

I was writing profusely in my journal. We started both attending L.D.S. addiction recovery.  Jonathan for the addicts, and me for the family of addicts. 

We had many fights and breakdowns, especially after classes or reading.   I had days where I completely didn’t function and stayed in my room or asked Jonathan to take the children so I could leave and think and get away. 

Jonathan was trying hard, I could see that.  I struggled not to police him.  He struggled to give me the space I needed.  We had many a “discussion” about crazy-making that turned into my calling a boundary after both of our emotions were peaked and hurt.

I asked him hundreds of questions, wanting to know about his past.  Had his addiction cost us money?  Had there ever been real women besides me that he was involved with?  Had he looked at child porn?  Where and when and how did he access it usually?  Sometimes he was defensive – which I now see as the root of crazy-making, and sometimes he was strong, yet humble as I pried and cried.  Usually he was apologetic. 

I went through a long period of needing to find myself again.  I asked Jonathan to move out of our room and stay in the basement.  – He did reluctantly.   I asked him to please tell our 5 children that he had hurt me and that was the cause of my not being available to them.  He did, reluctantly. 

We struggled to find boundaries and then to keep them.  We had very good and close conversations, and very gut-wrenching conversations where I would eventually ask him to leave me alone.  He always did, but sometimes I had to ask several times or walk away and lock myself in a room.   I wanted a period of abstinence in our intimacy and then when we felt close I also wanted to be held and loved – I was inconsistent, and frustrated at myself for my fickleness. 

It took time for his defensiveness and the layers of bad habits to wear off.  But they slowly did. 

It took longer for me to find forgiveness and healing.  I remember wondering if his healing would be complete and he would move forward powerfully in life, and I would be left behind, a used and broken piece of his past. 

I struggled to understand how much of my years of deep depression was caused and triggered by his hidden addiction and the way he had treated me because of it, vs. how much was just me and my lack of mental stamina.  I wanted to blame him for all my ugliness. 

As I read through years of journals and then questioned him, I could see a very strong pattern of his addiction and my depression.  Most of my depression spills had be triggered by a fight with him, and the worst of those had been about intimacy, and my saying I didn’t feel loved or respected or a part of our love-making. 

Twice I had been suicidal, and both times as I read back through my journals, I found it was triggered by fights about intimacy.  So I felt justified in blaming him for my depression.  But I also knew deep in my heart that justification meant I was not being humble, nor owning my own responsibility for my choices – choices of thought and action.  If my happiness was dependent upon Jonathan and his words and actions, then I was in bondage. 

I was co-dependent. 

I was denying my gift of agency.  I was listening to Satan’s lies, and I knew it.  But I needed the Atonement and the power of Christ to help me change.  

I received the powerful gift of healing and a forgiveness for Jonathan as a very clear and powerful personal revelation. It came on a morning shortly after Christmas, 3 ½ months after D-day.  I was at the funeral of a good friend who had died of cancer.  I was made whole, by a power beyond my own.  

From that time on, triggers have been few and far between, and when I am triggered, the intensity is less and I know solidly in my mind that Jonathan’s recovery is still intack, and that it is an effort of the adversary to make me miserable. 

Sometimes he succeeds and I am miserable for a while, but there is never any doubt that Christ took my pain, and gave me the power, or ability to forgive as a gift beyond my own capacity. 

Things that made a difference: Jonathan started his Men of Moroni class grudgingly, reluctant.  I begged him to try it because his mom had felt inspired to share it.  He came back the first week hopeful that it was a tool that could help.  He had read the entire 12 step manual a few times on his own, before disclosing his addiction to me, so he was unsure if it would be powerful enough to help him change.

He also attended ARP for several months. And both were good. 

Men of Moroni offered him a set of new tools.  He started his MAN PoWeR immediately and never once has missed a day in the last two years.  He has not once had a relapse.  He tells me he still has dude moments – temptations occasionally – but he is repulsed by the idea of going back to where he was, and they are much more infrequent than they used to be. 

He leads a Men of Moroni group and now helps me teach Eternal Warriors classes so that we stay focused on the fight and going the same direction.

I went to WORTH and the L.D.S. Addiction Recovery Program for about 4 months.  Both were super helpful.  Then I took the Eternal Warriors training and started my own GiRL PoWeR.  I have continued to teach classes since then, to keep me strong and motivated and focused, as well as to help others.

In that time, both Jonathan and I were working diligently to learn, understand and apply the principles of repentance and change and healing.  We both knew it was up to the Savior.

Lots of books were helpful.  Read everything.  Learning and study changes our thoughts and paradigms.  This helps us change.

Two+ years later Jonathan is on day 751 of putting on the Armor of God.   Our marriage is stronger and closer than it has ever been.  I still fight the demons of depression sometimes, but I know what they are – demons, not me.  Jonathan still gets grumpy or inward sometimes – though not nearly as often, and if I confront him, he soon becomes contrite and quick to try and serve our family.  He is alive and motivated and incredibly strong in his willpower – he now is focusing on improving his health and has made some miraculous strides.

The hardest, but most crucial pieces of recovery for us have been humility and going to God.  We both needed to change.  We needed the Atonement of Jesus Christ for healing, strength, and cleansing.  We both have changed.  We both have a long journey of changing yet ahead of us.