Friday, July 22, 2011

To A Group Who Feels Invisible

Let's talk about pornography.

That was a great intro huh? Some of you are about to click off this blog because you are turned off by this topic, but please don't. I hope you will keep reading and open your mind and heart to what I have to write. (I didn't even try to make this one short - I knew it would be impossible. Read in shifts if necessary) :)

Some of you (actually a lot of you) may be dealing with this in your own home but no one would ever guess how much you are suffering. Am I right? I've talked with enough of you to know that there are many, many of you out there hiding in plain sight. I have seen the deep, deep pain in your eyes.

Even if you are not dealing with this, someone you love is (whether you know it or not.) That person is silently dying inside. Please read so that maybe you can offer love and understanding to someone who is smiling on the outside but is convinced they are all alone on the inside. What I am going to write will be in very general terms. I am aware there are varying degrees within this addiction and not everyone has this exact same experience but I'm thinking that what I'm about to write is probably the norm, rather than the exception.

This is not a post written about or to the one who is addicted - there is plenty of that, as well there should be. I'm writing to a different group affected by porn addiction - a group who is often overlooked or just patted on the shoulder and told to "hang in there"...

I am going to write to those who are married to, or are parented by someone who is addicted to pornography. You see, pornography doesn't just destroy the one addicted - it can DESTROY the whole family on an individual basis and as a whole. (My comments will be toward wives, but let me say that there is a growing number of husbands who are dealing with a wife who is addicted to pornography. I have never personally spoken with one so I do not know exactly how they feel but I'm guessing it is somewhat the same - maybe worse.)

You are all so different, yet you have so much in common. You are young. You are not so young. You are newly married, or married for 40 years. You are a leader at church and in many other areas or you are someone who keeps completely to yourself. You have several children or you don't have any. You are rich. You are poor. You are highly educated or not. You could be any woman, because this addiction is so accessible and so easy to hide and it doesn't care what one's educational, socioeconomic, political or religious views are.  It is a heat seeking missile just looking for a warm body to destroy.

I have come to see pornography as a highly contagious disease which will pass from the one addicted to the spouse and to the children. It is a silent, deadly killer - not just for the one who looks at the porn. If you are dealing with this, you know that what I'm writing is true. And it isn't deadly for the reasons most people would think. It isn't necessarily about you feeling like you can't compete with the unrealistic view of a woman's or a man's body. I don't even really know what it is, but it is so much more than that. It is one of satan's craftiest and most deadly weapons. It hurts!!!!!!! Like your heart has been ripped out of your chest, stomped on and then rung till it's dry! And a person can only take that so many times before their own heart becomes sick and they start demonstrating their own symptoms.

You don't want to tell anyone, because you are afraid someone will misjudge your spouse and you and your family. You don't want to tell anyone because you are afraid someone will point fingers at you and say one of the following:

 "Well, you married him. Make it work."
"Are you making sure ALL of his NEEDS are being met?" (you know what I mean)
"He's a guy. Guys do that!"
"This is not that big of a deal. At least he's not having an affair."
"Well you're not perfect either."
"Why do you stay married to him? If it's that bad get out."

The list goes on.

If your husband was a scum bag, it would be easy to "get out" but for the most part, those men (and women) who are addicted to porn are good upstanding individuals and no one would ever, ever pick them out as a porn addict. This is what makes porn addiction such a silent, deadly killer. Not even all those who are addicted realize how they are being destroyed.

There are good times and bad in this addiction. Sometimes, when the bad is really bad, your husband tells you he is going to quit. You want to trust him. You want to support him and it seems for a while that things are different. He is happy and kind and your heart thinks everything is going to be okay. But then you start noticing the tell tale signs in his behavior - the grumpiness, secrecy, irritability, depression and you know, he doesn't even need to tell you, you know he has been looking at porn again. Your heart sinks lower than it was before - which you didn't think was possible.

You don't trust your husband to be alone anywhere. You are suspicious every time he gets on a computer or goes out alone somewhere. You don't want to be a babysitter. You are aware he is an adult and he has the agency to make his own choices but some of the choices he makes with his agency hurt you, terribly. So you feel like you have to keep track of his every move - even if just to protect you and your family.

You feel so alone. So alone.

People go on and on about getting help for the one addicted. But you feel so unnoticed, so invisible in the mists of darkness surrounding the addiction. You are told to support and encourage and forgive and if they only knew how much you already do all of that.

Is there anyone out there to support and encourage and uplift you? Anyone who recognizes your own wounded heart? Anyone?
The answer is a resounding YES!!!

In the Garden of Gethsemane the Savior suffered ALL things...

"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of EVERY kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people" Alma 7:11

Your addicted spouses are not the only ones who need Jesus Christ. He did not just suffer for them. Somehow, in the Garden of Gethsemane, for a brief moment, He became you. He discovered what it was like to feel your pains and your heartaches. He thoroughly comprehended you and His love and understanding of you became perfect. He is your dearest, truest most loyal friend.

He sees you through those mists of darkness that surround this addiction. He hears the silent groanings  of your heart that you dare not share with anyone. He hears you cry yourself to sleep at night. He notices you comfort your children or even your husband when your own heart is the one who needs the comfort. And although you may feel like you are forcing yourself to make it through one day at a time on your own - He is the one holding you up and will continue to hold you for as long as is necessary. 

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and  ye shall find rest unto your souls.
"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

He doesn't have to be the only one there for you.

There are so many different ways we can be wounded in the battle for our souls. Sometimes we are the ones helping the wounded and sometimes we are the ones wounded. If someone you know is fighting this very private war, do not judge them. Just love them. If you are someone who is being fired upon with the fiery darts of pornography - pray to find someone to trust...and then trust them. I know that is easier said than done but trust me when I say that satan loves nothing more than to see you trying to endure this in silence. 
he knows it will be near impossible for you to do this without your wounds becoming so painful that you develop your own destructive behavior as a way to mask the pain.


Safe Harbors
Michael McLean

There are refugees among us
That are not from foreign shores;
And the battles they are waging
Are from very private wars.

And there are no correspondents
Documenting all their grief,
But these refugees among us all
Are yearning for relief.

There are refugees among us.
They don't carry flags or signs.
They are standing right beside us
In the market check out lines;

And the war they've been fighting
It will not be televised,
But the story of their need for love
Is written in their eyes.

This is a call to arms,
To reach out and to hold
The evacuees from the dark.
This is a call to arms,
To lead anguished souls
To safe harbors of the heart.

Can you see through their disguises?
Can you hear what words won't tell?
Some are losing faith in Heaven
'Cause their life's a living Hell.

Is there anyone to help those
Who have no where else to flee?
For the only arms protecting them
belong to you and me.

This is a call to arms,
To reach out and to hold
The evacuees from the dark.
This is a call to arms,
To lead anguished souls
To safe harbors of the heart.
Can you feel the pleas of the refugees
For safe harbors of the heart?

A while back I wrote that I feel a need to tackle some tough topics on this blog and show how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can help us overcome anything. My first "tough topic" was about infertility. You can read that post by clicking here.

Infertility is a painful issue and one that is hard to talk about for those who struggle with this problem. I was recently talking to a friend about this. She mentioned that she knows a woman who longs for children but she feels like this friend doesn't want to talk about her feelings because she never brings it up. My comment was, "She does want to talk about it, she just doesn't know what to say and she is probably afraid of either crying her eyes out or saying something she will regret and she doesn't want anyone to pity her. So she just doesn't say anything."

That comment could be said of so many private issues, including pornography. The difference is, and I hope this makes sense, infertility is one of those problems that people see as "heroic". When your name is brought up in friendly circles, the comments made are "She has so much faith!" In a kind of twist on things you are admired because of your strength. But for some reason living in a marriage where your spouse is addicted to pornography doesn't seem as "heroic". If comments are made (which they usually aren't because it is soooo private) the comments are not glowing with admiration,
rather there is disbelief, judgment and never a
mention of how strong and courageous the woman is.

The truth is, it is heroic. It is extremely heroic as you hold your family together despite the unrelenting battle that is being waged against your family.

You are as a lioness at the gate - protecting and preserving your family!
(Julie B. Beck, BYU Women's Confernce 2010)

You are incredible and I'm not the only one who thinks so!

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