Monday, April 20, 2015

Letter To My Younger Self

Recently our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) released a series of videos through their addiction recovery services. The videos were of spouses reading letters they had written to themselves on D-Day (they day/approximate time they found out about their loved ones addiction). I know some of these amazing women and they are incredible and strong! If you would like to watch them (they are very powerful), they can be found here. I thought this was a fabulous idea, so I decided to try it. This is what I would want the younger me to know.

Sometime about 15  years ago

Dear T.,

I am sorry that your heart is breaking right now and that you feel like there is something wrong with you. I know the anger is boiling over and your ready to leave if he looks at porn and masturbates again. That is a normal reaction but don't get stuck there.

You aren't to blame, you didn't cause this. Your suggestion to watch porn together early in your marriage was not the first time he had viewed porn. You didn't introduce him to it. He was introduced to it at the tender age of eleven. This "problem" started years before you met.

This is not just a "problem" for him, it is an addiction. His brain is broken. He cannot "just quit", it holds too much power over him. He needs resources that are not readily available right now. There are some out there, but he isn't ready to search them out yet. You can't fix this for him, he is the only one that can fix it for himself. I know you want desperately to "fix" him and help him realize how much worth he has, but you just can't. Don't wast precious years of your life thinking that if he would just listen to you he will be fine, he won't, listen or be fine. He has to really hit rock bottom and want to get better.

Don't protect him from how you feel about him looking at pornography and masturbating. Tell him you feel like he is cheating on your. Don't wall yourself up behind anger, let your feelings out and don't shelter him from the sadness, hurt, pain, grief and yes, anger, that you feel about his behavior. Let him see those things. He won't be able to hold those things, you will have to have support, but he needs to see that his actions aren't without consequences.

You think you have to carry all the load because B. doesn't and that will overwhelm you and cause you to feel a great amount of resentment. Don't carry it all, you can't and you shouldn't have to try. Let B. have the consequences of not carrying his share of the weight. Make him responsible for his own "stuff". He needs that responsibility so that he can learn to take care of himself and not become completely dependent on you. It causes him a great amount of shame when you do things for him that he should be doing himself because he then feels incapable.

I know that at one point after yet another discovery of B.'s acting out, you'll want to say, "To Hell with it, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" Stop that thought right then. It won't help your marriage. It won't help you feel connected. You will only end up feeling shame and sadness. It will also start a battle you will have to fight against your own desires to look at porn and read pornographic books. Don't take one step down that road. It is not the answer.

Find your voice and use it. Stand up for your rights and learn to recognize when they are being violated. Have boundaries and do not let him cross them without consequence. You are worth more than being taken for granted and used. B. is worth more than being allowed to take you for granted and use you.

Your feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing won't just "go away" if he would "just stop". He can find genuine and lasting recovery and you will still feel broken. You need to find healing yourself. You have been betrayed and because of it you have a form of PTSD called Betrayal Trauma. This doesn't just "go away", you need support and good therapy…not to mention a lot of help from Heavenly Father. You can recover from this, but it will take time, years in fact. You can find happiness regardless of if B. ever finds recovery or not. It will be a battle, but you can do it.

The shame, inadequacy and self-loathing that you feel…they aren't true. You can share this part of you with those that you trust. They will only love you more and be there for you. You are not inadequate. You are not ugly. You could look like a Playboy Bunny, have the sex drive of a teenager and be at his beckon call…he would STILL look at porn and masturbate. When he wasn't, he would be using you to satisfy is addictive lust. He will use you if you let him, don't let him.

You are an amazingly strong woman. You can rise from this and be stronger than you have ever been before. You can find the power to believe in yourself again. Heavenly Father is there with you every step of the way. Don't ever lose contact with him. Don't let your faith waiver, do what you need to keep it strong. Heavenly Father is never far from you, reach to Him often.

Find other woman that have been betrayed, they are out there. You need them and they need you. Listen with an open heart. Reach out. Let them be your support, they have you! It will be a while until there are as many groups and resources that there will be in the future, but don't stop looking for them. They will be out there.