I didn’t expect this to be a 4 part series, but here we are nonetheless. Honestly, I could probably pick this story up for another part 5, 6, 7 and 8… But we’ll wrap up this series with the overall happenings of the last 2 years…
October’s Second Major confession in 2016 took us both down quite a challenging (and beautiful) path. I’ll be honest, the details are kind of fuzzy from the end of October to December of 2016. I know following the Second Major confession, I withdrew into myself quite a bit. I pulled back and tried to realign my focus to just me. I think I was preparing for our breakup, but I also know this is a coping strategy of mine.
We co-existed over the next month or two while my heart tried to build up a wall of protection. We had quite a few “missed high fives” in the connection realm. And as I retreated into myself, I just internally confirmed over and over again my belief that men just couldn’t control themselves when it came to sex/porn. I just saw it as a hopeless situation – one in which I would either have to deal with in any relationship, or resolve to remain single. But during those next 2 months, I studied pornography addiction. I listened to podcasts and read any article I could get my hands on, trying to find answers and solutions from other couple’s experience with this. But? I’ll be honest – my outlook was bleak. And he would make one final confession around December 19th.
We were headed to one of his friend’s Christmas parties. On the way there, we stopped to grab some barbeque at a restraunt. The past 2 months, there had been quite a bit of emotional distance between us, and after we finish our meal, we head to the car, turn on the ignition and sit in the vehicle as it warmed up. Kind of silent, I couldn’t handle the lack of authenticity and disconnection anymore… so I ask again.
The answer was as I suspected. Yes, another relapse had occurred a few days prior, and he was so ashamed again. His head hung so low in the car as he acknowledged his behavior. My reaction this time, however, was completely different. Instead of crying, anger, and panic…I was calm. Almost too calm. I think at the time, I knew this was the end. I think at the time, I had internally committed to dissolve our partnership and move on if it happened again. I hated to think this was it, but I knew deep down this wasn’t a healthy situation for me to remain in any longer.
He turned and looked at me, with tears flowing from his eyes he whispered, “I need help.” I wanted to hold him and comfort him. The inner advisor in me also wanted to start coaching him on all the research I had done, how he could battle it, what others have done, etc… But, I pulled myself back. This wasn’t my problem to face. This wasn’t my giant to slay. This wasn’t my fight to fight. I am sure my eyes began to leak some quiet, calm tears at this point, but something in me knew I couldn’t steer nor influence this. I had to put the control, completely, in his hands. Part of me deeply hoped he could do this, but I’ll be honest – I just wasn’t sure he could. However, ultimately I knew it wasn’t my call to make. I had to completely surrender the control, and the fate of our relationship, over to him. And that was fucking scary.
I gently told him in the car that night, that I understood he was struggling. However, if he wanted help, it couldn’t be something I did nor a plan I created (or even helped create) for him. I explained that he was responsible for his life, and he would have to know or find out what would and wouldn’t work for him. I urged him to be deeply honest with himself and to really think about what he needed and what path might be most effective to get the help. “You say you need help, but what does that actually look like? ” I layed out, “You’ve tried cold-turkey, and that didn’t work. I don’t know if its counseling, a book you might read, or some kind of support group – I don’t know. Only you know what you might need to address this…But you have to make your plan” I did offer to let him hear a podcast by Dear Sugar on pornography if he would like – it is an interview with Noah Church, a recovering porn addict (If interested, that podcast can be found here). He said yes, that he would like to hear it. We put it on in the car, and drove to the Christmas party. After hearing it, he seemed like he knew what he wanted to do, to which I was supportive (but secretly thinking, “lets see if he really does anything…”) – But, we were definitely much more deeply connected at this point. And I had a little thread of hope.
Over the next week, My guy researched and found a counselor (on his own). One night, he came home with a book for me – Facing Heartbreak by Stefanie Carnes, Mari Lee, and Anthony Rodriguez. He had a deep realization of the pain that all of this had caused me, and it overwhelmed him. In an effort to help me out with my own pain, he would give me this book and suggest I seek a counselor to help me heal. This would be such a beautiful and powerful suggestion – to which I jumped on board with, working through the workbook, and began seeing my own counselor (which ironically, she had used the same workbook for many of her clients).
He did a lot of reading online about pornography recovery. He started asking me to help him by taking the internet modem with me every day when I would leave for work. He began to take his homework to a coffee shop so he’d be forced to utlize their internet in public…. He would regularly see his counselor. And I was regularly seeing mine. We would do some reading together. He would initiate regular “check-ins” with me. (Thank God… No more asking…) We would eventually begin to see my counselor together as part of my healing process. He was really doing this. He was really doing this.
His counseling sessions were incredible for him. It was there he would learn that he was using pornography to soothe and cope with lonliness and a desire for connection. It was there he would begin learning how to identify his emotions, take ownership of them, and communicate them. It was there he would start learning how to be vulnerable and ask for what he needs. No, he’s not an expert at this now, but my god, what 2 years of practice can do…
We talked about this over this past weekend on a recent day trip we took to go see family. We talked about how he feels so much more now. Without pornography, he can feel such a wide range of emotions that he was numbing before. And that’s the thing… when people use something to soothe or numb emotions, they may be numbing the bad emotions, but they also inadvertantely numb all the good ones too…He explained how he appreciates so much now just being able to feel…
He’ll be 2 years sober on December 16th and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He has no one to credit his recovery to, except himself. And while we still have our moments of being “off,” and certainly our fair share of fights and/or disagreements, I am so god-damned proud of him. And I stand corrected (and rejoicingly so) – men can control unhealthy sexuality when they are ready to. They can.
So, is this my Doomsday? Well it has certainly felt like it at times… Healing in areas like this definitely takes you through some emotional deaths and re-births… But overall? Maybe it’s not my Doomsday.
Maybe it’s just the process of building something great…