That is how I feel right now.
I just finished watching this video. I'm so glad to see this #12stepstochange series that was released today by the church to which I belong. I hope it creates the conversation that they are hoping for. I feel like it's one that I (and many other valiant women I know) have been trying to shout for years.
I could only watch this first video so far, because it left me in tears. Tears for that wife. She is me. Her reaction is the same as mine was. I realize that as I feel so full of sadness, love, compassion, heartache... I am feeling those things for my self. I didn't expect to be so quickly taken back to that time five years ago (or the many smaller times before that). I must not have thought it through much, because I certainly know that reality from my experiences in grieving the loss of my mother.
I was also in tears for the addict. My heart bursts with compassion at the pain and despair felt by the addict. I hope that people will watch these videos and realize that these are real people and accurately portraying real experiences. I hope they will pull their heads out of the sand and realize the prevalence of these addictions. I hope they will realize that church-going members are not immune. In fact, they frequently get hit worse as addiction feeds on shame and many a church member is good at [accidentally] feeding shame. I am so grateful for the information and resources being put out that combat that.... that remind us that churches are hospitals for the broken and sick, not places where people are perfect.
In the video, the man talks about being triggered about 20 times just in a 5 mile drive to work. To some that may seem extreme. They may think that the people who struggle with pornography or some other vice surely don't have thoughts come to them that often. I recently had a conversation with my husband about the frequency with which he feels triggered. I felt disheartened and alarmed when he told me that he has thoughts every couple of days. Every couple of days! He was proud of this and I was saddened. I thought 'here is a man who has been in recovery for five years and displays real recovery behaviors and attitudes... a man whom I have actually grown to trust again and who is a good man... and he is still pushing away thoughts every couple of days?!' I felt bad that my reaction was not that of a pat on the back as he was focusing on. It made it more clear to me why he does not believe in the term 'recovered' and acknowledges this as something he will always struggle with. That makes me sad for him. And honestly, for me too. It's tiring fighting a plague that comes at you all the time. Of course he still gets triggered regularly! He can only avoid so much, and he is really good at self-regulating those. The good news is, recovery has given him the tools to use and the strength to not feel tempted when those thoughts come to mind. He explained to me that most often those thoughts are actually very fleeting. The appetite isn't there and neither is the desire to dwell on the trigger. However, he knows firsthand how very cunning Satan is and sometimes he is more persistent than others. How grateful I am for a Savior who also knows my husband intimately and is willing to be there and fight for him! Watching this video reminded me just what a big deal my husband's progress is. It reminded me to focus on the gratitude for that as he has tried to. It is painful to be reminded of just how hard it has been. I believe it can also be encouraging to take that and see how much has been won. It doesn't matter whether it's been won with what someone else would see as a 'proper' attitude or response, or if it's marred with sweat and tears and setbacks and stumbling blocks. It's a progression and a journey. A difficult one at that. I applaud those brave souls who are willing to step into the arena and fight.... the ones who do so in silence and the ones who shine a light and risk their vulnerability so that others may see they are not alone. This is how Satan's grasp will be weakened. This is how hearts will be softened, judgments lessened, compassion developed, understanding increased, and hope given.... one by one.
12 Steps to Change video (sorry, I can't get it to embed right now)
*One final note: I just want to make sure it is clear that others understand that sex or pornography addiction isn't always the same from person to person. Also, that it affects often those whom you would least expect and begins at young ages (we're talking 8 or 9) with exposure and inadequate conversation and/or cultures of shame & perfectionism. In the video, the man talks about paying for sex. Not all sex addicts act out in that way. Sex addiction comes in many forms of acting out, and it is often progressive, though that progression can be sneakily subtle and over the course of many many years: prostitutes, affairs, adult bookstores, s&m, coercion in the bedroom (and often outside of), compulsive lusting, compulsive viewing of pornography (soft or hard core), using fantasy as an unhealthy escape rather than dealing with the stressors of life, masturbation, seeking massage parlors (the not good kind), not respecting a spouse's body as being their own (believing it to be the property of the addicted spouse to grope or use however and whenever they want), and reading suggestive literature especially for the purpose of arousal (often masked as 'to feel good').