This post is part two of a 4-part series Overcoming Pornography Addiction
Yesterday we heard from Brandon about how he is fighting to overcome his pornography addiction. Today, we hear from his wife, Cherae. I think I’ve read just about every post on their blog, And So I Fight, and my goodness you guys- this woman is a FIGHTER! Read this post. And this one. So full of hope! So full of courage and grit. I’m inspired.
Even if your marriage is not facing issues with pornography, Brandon and Cherae’s words can be for us all. Every marriage has things worth fighting for, and sometimes it is a fight. And sometimes we need every ounce of hope and determination we can muster. But, as Cherae points out, even on our darkest days, we are never alone and there is always help out there. And hope.
Brandon and I were married in August 1998. Throughout the first two years of my marriage I always knew something was off with my husband. He would stay up late at night on the computer and would get up early to again to get on the computer. I would always question him about it but he had some excuse every time.
After dealing with those lies for two years I finally caught him and he did come clean (or so I thought) that he had been looking at pornography and had been since before we were married. We had one child at this point and as hard as it was for me to work it out I knew that I needed to for my son’s sake. We visited with the leader of our church and he gave my husband a few suggestions as to what to do to help better himself. Back then there were no programs for this type of thing so he did the best he could and I was convinced over time that he had overcome his ordeal with pornography.
Throughout the rest of our marriage there was again always something that was off. Again I would question him over and over. I would question him about pornography issues and relationships with other women and again he always denied it. This went on for another 13 years. He was caught a few times with some inappropriate material on his phone or texting with other females, and I even caught him involved in an emotional affair. Each time with lots of counseling I stayed with him thinking that it would be the last time.
Now let me interject here and say that I am a strong willed women who doesn’t need anybody’s validation to make me feel good about myself. I would be fine being single and raising my children alone, but I knew it was important for them to be raised in a home with their mother and father together. So I stayed.
Then on December 14, 2013, I was Christmas shopping alone and I received an email from him. It started off by saying that I should always trust my instincts for they have always been right. It was him that made me doubt how I felt about him. He then proceeded to tell me how he has been addicted to pornography since before we were married. His pornography addiction led him to having multiple affairs, and many other offensive and inappropriate things that no man should ever do. Unfortunately many of the women he was unfaithful with happened to be close friends of mine. I was horrified at the things I was reading, broken-hearted, devastated, angry, and betrayed, but at the same time I finally felt the relief and validation that all those years I thought I knew something was wrong, I was right.
My husband had finally hit his “rock bottom,” which had now become my rock bottom. And the only thing there is to do when you hit rock bottom is to fight.
And so I fight.
Each day I fight and each day my fight gets easier and easier. There are days that are difficult and those are the days I have to fight even harder, but I fight for my children. And I fight for myself. After all that my husband has put me through I stand tall with my head held high and my dignity in tact.
There is so much support out there. Not only for the addicts, but for the spouses as well. LifeSTAR is a great program for husbands, wives and individuals who are looking for hope, healing, and recovery due to unwanted compulsive sexual behaviors and addictions. This course was crucial for me in the early stages of healing. It helps to explain the addiction, how it works, what its doing to their brains, how to find the root of why they turn to this addiction, how the addict can learn new behaviors that are healthy to replace the addictive ones, and how to heal.
It also really helped me to understand that the addiction is not about me, my weight, or how I look. It taught me how to let Brandon “ own” his actions. What he does is not because of me. I’m not responsible for the choices he makes. LifeSTAR also has taught both of us a much healthier way to communicate with one another and those around us.
Self care is also stressed at LifeSTAR. Spending time on you. Making sure you are taking care of yourself. As women we tend to overlook our needs when we are in fight or flight mode. Whether it be something as little as five minutes, it needs to be done. When you are on an airplane receiving instructions on what to do in an emergency situation, the flight attendant tells the adult to first put the mask on him or herself, and then the child. You will be of no help to that child if you don’t ensure your survival first. Take care of yourself! Im not talking about being selfish, just enough time for you to step away from your troubles to just catch your breath.
Addiction Recovery Program/ ARP. This is the 12-step program put on by the LDS church. It is free and they are held at many different locations, at different times, and for different types of addictions. They have one specifically for sexual addictions. There are meetings for the addict and for the spouses of addicts. It is full of women who are looking for healing and recovery. It teaches how to apply the atonement in your life to forgive those who have wronged you. It is amazing how much healing comes when you realize how to apply the atonement in your life.
Life Changing Services. Maurice W Harker, LPC. Maurice specializes in marriage therapy (especially regarding sexual misbehaviors). He knows his stuff, and is very passionate about it. He has helped me progress beyond measure in my recovery. Life changing services also has a wonderful therapeutic group for women. Women Of Rebirth Therapeutic Healing (WORTH). They have in-person group meetings held throughout the week, as well as online group sessions. It is free of charge. It was very important and crucial for me to find a therapist in whom I trusted greatly. Having previously been to Maurice for marriage counseling I knew that’s where I needed to turn for my “professional” healing.
Even after all of the resources I have listed there is one more crucial piece to recovery and that is finding your own true happiness, self worth, and understanding that regardless of what the outcome in any given situation may be, you will always be taken care of from your Heavenly Father. I don’t rely on anyone, including Brandon, to create my happiness. I create it for myself, and in doing so I know that it is genuine. Its not borrowed, and its not fake. It is my own.
I have also gained a deep understanding of my own self worth and I will never let anyone take that away from me again. I allow myself to have bad days (they still happen frequently) and I’m ok with that. I embrace those bad days, and its because of those bad days that I can appreciate the good days that I have.
I know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me dearly and wants nothing but the best for me. He can’t control anyone’s actions against me, but He can reassure me that in the end EVERYTHING will all work out. I don’t know how, I don’t try to figure it out, nor do I let myself worry about it. All I can do is have faith, and that faith, to me, is worth far more than all the money in the world.
Love yourself, respect yourself, and know that you are loved. Please know that if you need someone to reach out to, you can email myself or Brandon at any time (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are here to help others further their fight!