I thought I could just figure out how to stop on my own and Linz wouldn’t need to know. It made her so upset that one time; I wasn’t going to put her through that again. And I’ve heard all of her comments through the years about other husbands who have struggled with pornography. I knew she disapproved, didn’t understand, thought divorce was justified sometimes, was disgusted.
I’ve been successful at so many other things in my life, I’ll be successful at this. As true as that may be, approaching it alone, the same way, over and over, was giving me the same results. I thought I was going to hell. I thought I wouldn’t be with my family in heaven.
I met with my bishop and lied to Lindsay about what it was for. Bishop told me to consider talking with Linz. Everything I had read about success stories said the same thing.
7 years after starting dental school, it was time. I thought there was a good chance she would kick me out of the house, totally withdraw from me, want a divorce. I could lose everything, my kids. I decided to tell her. I was terrified, full of dread. Thought I would explode. I told her.
She did not kick me out of the house, divorce me, or yell at me. To me, it was a familiar, tremendous weight lifted. To her it was new and shocking.
Danny texted me and asked if we could talk that night after the kids went down. I remember thinking I was in trouble. We got the kids down and he delivered the news: He’d been looking at porn behind my back for years without telling me.
I trusted this man implicitly. So implicitly that I felt like my foundation had been rocked. If I couldn’t believe him, what or who could I believe?
He was crying, sulking at my feet and I couldn’t muster up the ability to hold or console him. I remember feeling so torn “I love this man. He is suffering, but he lied to me?” I had so many conflicting thoughts. He went to bed.
I stayed in the living room and bawled. Bawled, and bawled some more. He gave me ‘permission’ to talk to one ‘approved’ person to get support. I reached out to that person crying. I felt so alone. In my head the timing couldn’t have been worse, because I had just had a baby. My third. My body was still recovering, and now my husband was looking at other people’s bodies? I felt ugly, unloveable, and incredibly ashamed. “Something must be wrong with me if he’s looking at other women. I’m not good enough. I’ll never look like them and I’ll never be enough.”
Part of me thought I was just lucky she didn’t divorce me on the spot. I thought something was terribly wrong with me and wished I could disappear. Self-loathing did not help and it never has helped at any point through my learning process. Developing self-compassion has been one of the most crucial pieces of my progressive healing.
Expecting Lindsay to be able to comfort me did not work. And, ultimately, it came down to me wanting someone else to help me feel better instead of me figuring out how to do that for myself (another important part of my progress). Truthfully, no matter how many times someone would tell me I am good enough, worthy, or accepted, it would never be enough if I did not believe it myself.
Being honest with Lindsay worked. Lying does not help and never helped me or our relationship progress.
Asking Lindsay to keep me accountable did not work. I thought that was something that could help me stop looking at pornography. Lindsay was not in a position to do this while working through her own stuff, and it affected our relationship negatively. She would feel like she had to hover or act controlling and I would not give myself space or ownership to really work the problem.
I felt like my heart had been torn into a thousand pieces. That may sound unreasonable to some but this was my experience. One thing that I can say worked was that I didn’t make any huge life-altering decisions in the moment from a place of fear (this worked for my situation).
What worked here is that I remained surprisingly calm (not the only way) throughout the conversation and had enough of a boundary that I chose not to hug him or console him even though he was at my knees crying. This may sound callous to some, but I see it as having enough awareness of what I wanted, which was to protect myself.
With Danny’s permission, I reached out to one “approved” person to share my thoughts/emotions with. At a certain point, I decided I needed professional support. This worked.
I also made his actions mean something about my lovability and worth, which is simply not true.