Using Anonymous

This morning was really interesting.

I put my son in his stroller and we rolled our way over to BYU campus where I treated myself to a freshly squeezed orange juice. On our way home I passed a newspaper stand with free copies of the Daily Universe (BYU’s resident paper). I love old fashioned pastimes, so I picked myself up a paper to read in black-and-white (no scrolling).

When I returned home I found that my baby was deep into one of his newborn sleep patterns, so I read the paper as a drank my juice. I scanned the latest headlines, the comics and then the sports. And when that was over–and the stroller snooze continued–I headed over to the Letters to the Editor.

There were some letters defending Obama (wait, at BYU?) and letters about the war (are we still talking about that old thing?) and then there was a letter that caught my attention immediately. It was from a woman who admitted she had a pornography problem that was ruining her marriage. Before I finished the first extremely-personal paragraph I glanced down to see if the letter was penned by Anonymous.

No, there was a real name.

Like, Lisa.

And, underneath that, an italicized location.

Like, Portland Oregon.

I was so stunned that I didn’t read on for awhile. I just sat there thinking of how brave this woman was to just admit to the free-copy-taking world that she had a marriage-wrecking pornography addiction. I hated her sin, but loved her confession.

In my naive youth I returned with righteous glory from a mission, looking for love in all the right places. In that day and age (we read newspapers) anti-porn was just starting to be actively preached from the pulpits. It was called “smut” and other filthy names and apparently it was a big problem churchwide. It didn’t affect me, so I didn’t pay much attention . . . . until I hooked up with a boyfriend who, after much reluctance, admitted to me that he was addicted to porn.

His problem manifested itself much like the prophets said it would. He had a hard time keeping a job, focusing on school and lived a hopeless life. As we dated, I had to make decisions based on his addiction. Did I really want to marry his problem?

Most of all, I felt really alone. Though warning of porn came to the men of the church at every priesthood gathering possible–leading me to believe of it’s widespread mania–I didn’t know one other friend who had a porn-addicted boyfriend. Or husband. Or father. Or anybody. Because, who wants to share that information?

Of course, admissions of sins are for the Lord (and a few others) to hear and not the public. But I wanted to have anonymous discourse with others in my same position. I wanted wisdom and encouragement from women who lived, and loved, men who had the same weakness. Was there hope? Was there use in trying? How hard could it be? And if this problem was so widespread, where was everybody?

At that time there was no such anonymous forum. I couldn’t confide the situation to those close to me because there was the issue of disloyalty to him. And what if I did marry him? What would they think of him for the rest of our lives?

You know what I needed? I needed a blog community where I could write under a pseudonym and ask questions of a equally private public. Like Segullah’s Ask Nine Women feature or an online RS mini-class entitled, “Yours Does Too?” except you don’t meet next door to the “Frozen Dinners in a Flash” class. I needed a place where my fellow saints could read my thoughts rather than hear them. A place where my face wasn’t needed to be viewed for discourse. Because if there is good in blogging, it is this: your identity isn’t as important as your message.

As I returned to Lisa from Portland I sadly realized that she was only being sarcastic (at BYU?) in her response to some previous Letter to the Editor. She didn’t actually have a porn problem that was ruining her marriage. Though I was glad for her, I couldn’t help but think about those who actually do.

Then I finished my juice.

50 thoughts on “Using Anonymous

  1. I loved this, “your identity isn’t as important as your message.”

    There are so many aspects of the human condition that leave us feeling isolated and alone (whether it is ourselves or loved ones who are afflicted by them) even when we are not really so alone. I too crave such a forum on occasion.

    But are we truly anonymous?

    Is “Specific IP Address” from San Diego, CA that far removed from “Lisa” in Portland, OR?

  2. Glad for Lisa too, but I can’t help wondering if there are others who’ll read her letter who will wish she was being real rather than sarcastic, because they do crave that discourse you described and haven’t yet found their way to it.

    We have so many more healing tools to use now, don’t we? It’s an incredible time to live.

  3. As I head to group counseling for ‘partners of sexual addicts’ this morning I, of course, totally agree with you. I have wondered if there is a blogging community where people can talk openly and anonymously about how the ‘smut’ is ruining their world. Glad for Lisa but for those of us who are suffering there is a need – and maybe it exists I just haven’t heard about it.

  4. I like the theory of “anonymous,” as long as we live in a community where it’s hard to share problems like this openly (esp. for the reasons you list, like, how will people act once the repentance is done, etc).

    One problem I’ve seen recently with sharing our trials, experiences, etc with other (IRL or online), is that we never can (or should?) share the entire picture with another person, and so when we try to comfort someone else by sharing a story from our own or another’s life, it’s tempting to compare, but impossible, because each life is so unique. Although, I know that esp. with addictions, there are patterns of behavior, etc.

    My sister and I were talking about what were good grounds for divorce — e.g. what if you spouse refuses to take depression medication? I thought that was a very gray area, so knowing that so-and-so left or so-and-so didn’t isn’t very comforting (or helpful), because I’m sure there were other issues.

    I don’t know if I’m making any sense, so I’ll just stop there.

    Enjoyed the post!

  5. Hooray for honesty and open discussion (and I was so disappointed that Lisa from Portland was being sarcastic). Of course pornography is a big problem, but there are many, many other things that women keep hidden, thinking they are the “only ones” who struggle with this trial or that addiction. And nothing is more exhausting than shame, nothing more taxing to the spirit than pretending.

    I agree, too, that blogging is a great way for conversations that normally don’t blossom in your average Relief Society lesson to be given room to grow and breathe. It helps if you don’t have to show your face or use your real name (or deal with the knowing glances from Sister So-and-so down the street.) Sometimes I wonder, though, if blogs also contribute to the “All is Well in Zion . . . In Everybody Else’s House but Mine” problem that many LDS women seem to suffer from. So many personal blogs are like extended family Christmas cards with photos of smiling children and exclamations of joy and delight at every turn. Blogs can take a person’s natural inclination to put her best foot forward and ratchet it up a notch (with the help of Photoshop and emoticons and specifically chosen tales of family cuteness.)

    And I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a blog like that. Many people use blogs as a way to communicate with family or to have a public record of their family’s lives, and since the record *is* public, I can see not wanting to hurt a family member or embarrass someone with gritty tales of real life. But I do think that sometimes, peeking in on another person’s blissful blog can be a bit of a punch in the gut to women who assume that the blogger’s life is like that *always*. It can make that feeling of being the “only one” even more pronounced. Like almost everything, the blogging phenomenon is a double-edged sword.

  6. Okay, so here’s the deal with that letter.

    A week or so ago, a person wrote into the paper complaining,saying that the Twilight series were like porn for women.

    Of course, that is ridiculous, and spawned so many satirical responses.

    “Lisa’s,” was one of those. That is why she had no qualms about putting her location down. Of course, on first read I would think the same thing, but she’s just talking about Twilight.

    : )

    I’m such a dork. I read that paper everyday. Blame it on the fact that my office in the HFAC is cold so I go outside to break and end up perusing the Universe…

  7. I have to say that having a blogging community is a great resource for lots of us. I know that with my experiences with both adoption and Down Syndrome, the online support and help and love has been something that I would NEVER trade. I was jsut commenting to my husband last night that I don’t know how people did it before. How did they feel that same support and sense of community?

    I also know that for me personally I have some experience in a few situations where I would not/could not ever be “public” about it because I need to protect the parties invovled. But I WISHED and NEEDED someone that had been there before me to help me know where I was in the universe. It can be tricky. Blogging has helped me with that too b/c I did find people who shared with me, people that were “public”. It makes me want to put a stamp on my head and list the things that I have lived thorugh so that if anyone I know or pass on the street needs a hand, a hug or support, they can know where to come…. blogging is a form of that..

    Great post. Love the pictures of little man on the family blogs..he is sweet and getting so big already!

  8. Thanks for the thoughtfulness of this post. This problem presented itself in my life shortly (very shortly) after I got married. It was devestating and caused MANY problems of trust and anger in our relationship. I have been married (to a good man) for the last 8 years and we have been able to weather the storm and have come out stronger. I still worry, from time to time.. and we still have to talk about it.. from time to time, but I know that it is a storm that CAN be weathered. I would love to be able to share with other women out there who are just now trying to deal with the heartbreak that discovery causes. But, currently, I don’t know how. Of course, I would like to maintain some kind of anonymity due to the implicaitons to my husband, but still, I am willing to share my experience and the attempt to overcome the issue. If there IS a forum for this, or if Segullah would be interested in having one, I would be interseted in sharing that there IS light at the end of the tunnnel.

  9. Angela,

    I agree. We have a blog that is for our family to see and for my kids families to see progress.It is the longest Christmas letter update ever. The very few times I have covered something contriversal (usually adoption stuff, but also recently about the DS stuff here at Segullah) I got strange, hurtful, angry and even rude feedback. It was strange. It doesn’t offend me b/c frankly I am putting it public, but it can be off putting. The reason that I am not willing to blog about ALL of the things I have learned is for that reason. Not for public consumption as well as fear of reprisal… Though, there have been several times that I shared struggles that I was having with one of the kids and I had a multitude of women/men come support me and give me ideas or just a laugh.

    Good point though. I know someone that has two blogs. One is the family blog and one is real. :-)

  10. I wish I had some other women to talk to about how a husband’s porn addiction affects our lives. I know the Ensign has had some good articles about it lately. It is just so widespread yet nobody knows exactly who is struggling with it. I feel like the people in my ward don’t need to know my husband’s struggles but I wish there was some way I could connect with someone. Such is part of the trial of living with this kind of sin.

  11. Annon, I couldn’t agree more with you.

    We have also weathered the storm in our 10 year marriage, but with us it was an affair, not porn. We are still together. We have spent countless hours in therapy and conversation and tears and humiliation and all that goes with it trying to put ourselves back together. I will never forget the feeling that I was breaking into a million pieces. I will never forget how it felt to have to rethink EVERYTHING we had ever done together. It was horrible. I will be forever grateful for a good therapist and for the brave women who have walked this road before who talked me through things and who extended love and support and EMPATHY.

    I have often wished that I could have something to offer other women who are going through this so that they can know that they aren’t alone. It isn’t something you get up and talk about it church. I also feel that with people that know us in real life ( and know the situation) I have to be on the defensive because I am trying to SAVE MY FAMILY. But, there are some hard truths that need to be said/heard and it is nice to have someone to be a sounding board to…for when you are just angry or confused but don’t know who to talk to about it…

    It is very easy for others to see these kinds of problems and think “I would never have to deal with that” or “if it was me, I would do XYZ”. We never know what we would do in these situations. We do the best we can for our family and the spouse that we love, issues, sin and all…..

    I had spoken to someone at Segullah about writing my experince as a wife who stayed and had been very hestitant. Who wants to get hung out to dry with the icky comments on the blog…I got enough of that in my real life from people who don’t agree with my choice. This makes me think it can serve another purpose.

    There are more of us out there than many would like to think. The sin might be different, but the same feeling of broken trust, betrayal, and needing to deal with the problem at hand, whether it is an addiction to substance, porn, an affair, etc, it all comes back to having to rebuild the family and teach the offender a new way of coping. It is hard. A bit of annon suppport could be a great use of the blog world…

    Great post to get us all thinking…

  12. Very thought provoking. I know many people who have struggled with addiction, but finding help is hard. Finding support is hard. Isn’t Satan trying his hardest to isolate us from each other so we can’t overcome these problems? The very nature of most addiction is sneaking, shameful, private, darkness. There DOES need to be someplace for those struggling to drag their problem out and expose it to the light of day. Air it out. Shame keeps us all from separating the sin from our self worth. But it’s a great point that we aren’t as private online as we may suppose with our IP Addresses and city, state info. available through stats, etc.

  13. Awesome, awesome, awesome post! (and comments) I love reading someone’s post who is being “real” and honest and completely open whatever the subject. And even though I might not have experienced it (yet), I get to see it from someone else’s perspective before I really stick my foot in my mouth or worse, hurt someone’s feelings. I’ve learned a lot. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that we often think we’re the only ones when really there is a lot of support and help to be found when we are willing to be honest and feel safe enough to do that.

    I cannot express how much I have been helped, comforted, uplifted, laughed, cried, and felt supported by reading other blogs. Because of that, I have found myself being more and more open on my own blog just in case someone might accidentally land there and feel the same. Now my worry is the picture I must paint of myself to people who read my blog as I swing between the Christmas card of what I’m knitting,cooking,reading, cute kid pictures one day to my sometimes not entirely wholesome feelings on infertility,adoption,faith,lack of faith, and rants in general the next.

  14. I hate to see that so many struggle with problems such as these. On the other hand, it is comforting to know that we all have struggles. They are not the same, but, they evoke the same feelings of sadness, frustration, and hopelessness. On these levels we can relate. I struggle with many other things where conversation about them would be a sweet release. There really is something about talking to other women and relating to their problems.

  15. I’m also disappointed that her “confession” was about Twilight. Pornography is such a widespread problem in our culture and in the church – and common sense would dictate that that must include some women as well as men (although you would never guess that based on General Conference talks.) At our BYU married student ward, our stake president visited and gave us a combined priesthood/Relief Society lesson on pornography and told us that 1 in 3 brothers in our stake struggled with it. 1 in 3.

    I can understand the desire for anonymity, but I do worry that it leads to those who struggle feeling alone. So much of the addiction cycle comes from shame. I wonder if we were more open about these things if the desire to hide and self-punish might dissipate a bit.

  16. This topic and comments had me i a reading frenzy, hoping with each new comment i could learn how to help myself to deal with a spouse who struggles from time to time with this sin. I didn’t get my answer, and maybe i wont here. We have been married 2yrs and had @4 “episodes” of pornography. He tells me each time b/c he feels so guilty. A geed sign that he doesnt hide it form me. So my question is: When and how am i ‘supposed’ to get over the feelings of distrust and betrayal? It has made for a rocky first 2yrs. I want so badly to put it behind us and trust again. I have a hard time wanting to be intimate b/c i am still so grossed out by this sin. It has been almost a year since the last time he gave into this sin. Any thoughts or encouragemnt?

  17. I’ve always been totally open with my thoughts and behavior. Which means that my blog is me complaining, talking about things I don’t like, and general things that irk me. i really have no other vent for this, so it must just read like I’m a completely negative loser. But I’m about keeping it real.

    My husband, on the other hand, is horrified by my honesty. He is all about keeping everything looking good for others. So if hypothetically (wink, wink) he ever had a porn problem that he was able to overcome, I would be strictly forbidden to ever mention it. And since he is my eternal companion, I have to respect his feelings.

    But if I ever had a porn problem I would write a letter AND sign my name. I have found that when you are honest most people are incredibly supportive and kind.
    There are always people who are entirely lacking in empathy and compassion who have something unkind to say, but I think they are the exception. Most people find honesty refreshing. To a point. It can get weird fast. It’s a fine line.

  18. Paige, you can seek out some counseling for yourself for the help and answers you need. Either with or through your bishop or through your health insurance plan. If you are near BYU, I know that they have a support group for spouses of porn addicts. Dealing with your dh’s porn problem is a BIG trust issue and a big wrecking ball to your self-esteem. Start pursuing the help you need.

    The reason you don’t hear about women who are struggling with a spouse’s porn problem is because we can’t bring it up, because it’s not our sin or problem to be admitting. If I told my RS that I was just having such a hard time because of my dh’s porn problem, then I have just confessed his sin to the ward. Not really something you can do. There are other similar situations like this (for example, my dh’s disenchantment with the Church, tho still attending). For this, I LOVE the internet and blogging world. I can find anonymous support from people who don’t know my dh, so that *I* can still get the support and help I need, while I wait for him to own up to his problem publicly (or as publicly as needed).

  19. I am back… I was the first Anon poster and I have been so inspired by everyone’s desire to share and I am sure the thousands of other women who are looking for a place to find support. I started a blog.. yep.. a blog.. Just for you. You can visit at

    http://overcomingit.blogspot.com

    As questions, share, help, love. That is what it is there for.

  20. Wife who stayed–I have been working with another wife who stayed to do such a post here as well and have had the same concerns.

    Here is the link to our commenting guidelines. Please be assured we have a number of staff members at Segullah ready to moderate comments as needed when such sensitive topics are discussed. I hope you will feel safe enough here to share your story.

    Thanks to Courtney for today’s post and discussion and to anon for starting a blog support system.

  21. I too, have dealt with similar issues in my marriage, and have spent the last nine years bitter, angry and somewhat lost. I feel I have let my husbands addictions ruin me. There have been many times when I have desperately craved other women to share with, who know what I am going through. I wish in the blogging world we as women could be a little less “perfect” and a little more honest with the true lives that we are living. It is nice to know that you are not the only one going through something, that there are people who have been there before. Thank you to the brave women who have shared here today.

  22. cjane, great post. again.

    A long time ago, as an undergrad service learning scholar at the U, I was asked to do some writing for the Utah Coalition Against Pornography. I worked closely with a man named Rory Reid who directs the Provo Counseling Center and specializes in porn addiction in marriage. While I have no personal experience with this brand of bad weather in my own marriage (and thank goodness, cause my man might not survive the beating he’d get), if I did I would hoof it from way up here in Moscow, Idaho to Rory’s front door. His knowledge and compassion are UNBELIEVABLE, and he firmly, expertly offers hope. So if anybody’s anonymously looking for a reference, there’s one I can vouch for. Also, his book CONFRONTING PORNOGRAPHY is a super useful guide. And good luck to all you strong, beautiful ladies trying to rise to the occasion of true Christianity in marriages made rough by this total trash. I’d like to think I’d have the grace to forgive, but dang, something like that cuts your heart out. At least for a time. And sometimes all the forgiveness in the world doesn’t make the situation better. Why does this stuff gotta be so hard?

  23. Kind of a long comment, probably, but here goes. A few years ago my husband wrote a personal essay for a class and it ended up being published in Dialogue. In it he discussed his struggles as a man who is gay, but was (at the time) trying to be active in the church and married to a woman (he’s not active, but we’re still married). He published it using his real name and my real name. A little while after that we appeared in a newspaper article and a TV segment about gay men who choose to marry women. So I’ve had experience with talking about personal issues in a very non-anonymous way.

    I think this is a two-edged sword–on the one hand we have received a lot of positive feedback. We’ve made good friends with a few other couples in similar situations that sought us out due to the publicity. We’ve had opportunities to get involved in helping others in very positive ways. And I do think we sometimes need to be more open and honest with others about the issues in our lives. On the other hand, there is nothing worse than seeing people, mostly online, say horrible, hurtful things about you. To have people call you stupid, deluded, ignorant, opressed, etc. It was really hard, and we’ve actually pulled back a little from the spotlight. Especially since we’ve had some struggles over the last year or two and my husband has stopped attending church.

    I think we do need more specific stories from people about their struggles, and I feel like every personal experience adds up to a picture that is much more nuanced than any stereotype. I can think of at least 5 people I know who are active Mormons, gay, and married to a spouse of the opposite gender. And yet they are all very different and you probably wouldn’t be able to pick them out of your congregation. I do wish there were more real stories out there and fewer “anonymous” ones, but I also wish the world were a safer place for people to share their struggles.

  24. This was such a great post. I’m also saddened that in the end the letter in the Universe was about Twilight. It mocks those who deal with real issues not having their favorite book criticized.

    I come at this from a different angle. My father deals with pornography addiction, has for decades. His ‘habit’ has effected the lives of everyone in the family, not just my parents’ marriage. My older sister is the only immediate family member I’ve spoken to about it, we both candidly admitted that his pornography around the house started our own curiosity about it at a young age which turned in to future problems that had to be overcome with great difficulty. Although that was ‘old school’ hard copy pornography, don’t fool yourself into thinking this problem doesn’t effect everyone in the family.

    That said, as a daughter of someone with a porn addiction what do I do? My father is not active in church and we see many ways he is unhappy. My sister and I want to talk to him about it but how uncomfortable is that? Talking to your own Dad about his porn, is it even our business? And trying to talk to our Mom about it, she’s in her happy place- denial.

  25. I agree about the double-edged sword of anonymity. I know in my struggles with PPD and run-of-the-mill depression I’ve felt so alone it made me want to leave the church. However, I did find that once I started talking about it so did a bunch of other women. Just today at the park, with all our kids running wild around us, we talked about the fine line between anxiety/depression and OCD. I’ve also found that by blogging about being depressed and LDS it’s created an important support system for me. I hope other people can do the same.

    Oh, and I did a little googling. For those who need support in regards to overcoming pornography or dealing with a spouse with a porn issue check out this website:

    http://www.ldsar.org/

    Hope it helps! There is a balm in Gilead and we most often find it through each other.

  26. Well, I feel like I should chime in on this one. There is no way I would ever ever tell anyone our secret that my husband struggles with sex addiction. It is sad that we can’t talk and help one another but it is just too personal.

    But I’ll share it anonymously here just in case it might help someone.

    I knew about my husband’s problem a little bit before we got married but he promised he had stopped and I had NO idea what addiction was and how it was actually impossible for him to stop on his own without help for any length of time! I had NO idea. And it’s a good thing I didn’t know or I wouldn’t have married him.

    It popped up over the years when he would confess, we’d go to the bishop, I’d bawl my eyes out, he would too, he’d promise to stop, he’d apologize over and over, and I’d check in with him over and over and over. Then he’d mess up and start lying again. Then awhile later confess again. It was a vicious cycle. I just didn’t understand it all then. Now I do. Now I know they can’t quit on their own.

    See, my husband is a wonderful, wonderful man in every way except Satan just had a powerful hold on him in that area and he couldn’t get away from it. No matter how much he wanted to, and no matter how much he tried – he just couldn’t do it.

    Finally 2 years ago he confessed for the last time. I called LDSFS and got him into a counselor and that counsellor made him promise to go to the 12 step group nearby. He went and still goes one night every single week.
    It has changed his life and mine. He’s been sober now for 2+ years and it is a miracle!! The group and working the steps helped him turn himself over to Christ and rely on Him completely to save him.

    God blessed me with peace through it all- I felt his comforting hand so much and a sure knowledge that my husband is a GREAT man with a weakness- just like we all have weaknesses. The point is, he is working on it. I admire him so much for the effort he has to put forth on a daily basis. I would never ever leave him because he has a weakness. Would he leave me because of my weakness? no way. We are just trying to be better and work on things together. Yes, his weakness is extra hard and could cause problems if it got out of control. But with Christ, and my help and the 12 steps group it won’t get out of control again.

    Sometimes we sit and talk and he just can’t believe after 30+ years he is finally free. I feel so sad that he suffered so much up until now but it taught him so much and he is a better man now because of it.

    The 12 step program for pornography is the way to go!!! Working through the steps and turning to Christ to heal my husband has saved his life and our marriage. I am so thankful for that program and for our Savior who can save us.

    I really wrote too much and I’m sorry. Hope it helps someone. There is hope!! It is not the end of the world! We are not perfect we just have to be trying our very best and Christ makes up the rest.

  27. This is my second marriage. My first broke up over porn addiction. I found out last year that my current husband suffers from the same.

    I’ve read Confronting Pornography but I (personally speaking) would only recommend it to the addicted spouse. For my husband, it read as though someone had followed him his whole life and helped him understand that he’s not a bad person, he suffers from an addiction and it can be beat.

    In my own quest for discovery and truth I came across the book Codependent No More. This helped me see my own devastation and reactionary behavior in a more compassionate light. I’m not a bad person and am not destined to be miserable, but I cannot live my life with the perceptions I’ve had. I cannot perceive myself the way I perceive that someone else see me (read that a couple times to make sense). I’ve had to realize that I’m not in control of certain things and that the one thing I can control is me: my reaction, my self-esteem, my personal worth and my relationship with Heavenly Father. Once I hand those over to anyone, including my spouse, I’m no longer in control and am set up for an inevitable fall.

    Trying to understand sexuality in a more spiritual light, I ran across And They Were Not Ashamed by Laura Brotherson. (I was sexually abused for 11 years as a child and nearly raped twice by two men I had once called “friend”.)

    This book opened an avenue in my marriage which I’ve not known was possible. It’s so personal and difficult to articulate that I’d just have to ask you to buy it and find out for yourself. Once my current husband and I were able to discuss our intimate relationship more openly, once he understood his sexual nature to be a boon in marriage rather than a necessary evil which fed into a porn addiction, he was able to open up emotionally, spiritually and intellectually to me. No matter how hard I tried to encourage him beforehand, reading this book was what he needed and showed me how to gain the testimony of sexuality that I so desperately needed also. It’s truly an inspired book and is the catalyst for much healing in our marriage.

    – So, this is the longest comment ever, I know, sorry. –

    We attend the church’s Addiction Recovery Program. It’s based on the twelve steps and is completely anonymous. We also see a professional counselor individually and as a couple. Though we are in the middle of this mire, I can see a light at the end of it all. It’s small and I try to ignore it sometimes but I see that we can make it through this and yes, come out of it stronger than ever.

    Our spouses who suffer from these addictions (and they do “suffer” in the worst ways) are not bad people. They are wonderful and the adversary is blitzing them double-time because of it. Once I as the affected spouse realized that I’m not in control of his addiction and once he realized the same and that he’s not a bad guy, we are able to move forward.

    Pornography is everwhere…billboards, mall advertisements, television, the newspaper, you name it…and he has to learn to live in this world with this issue. I cannot shield him from it all nor is it my place. That would make me crazy… and at times I’ve been close. :) The statistics on this stuff are astounding. It is everyone’s issue whether directly or indirectly. We need to be in this together, openly.

    It’s a long road and we all tread differently but it can be overcome.

    Someone remind me of that tomorrow when I’m upset again…k? I’m not always happy or accepting of it…you just caught me at a good moment.

    I, too, am weary of being anonymous. Secrecy only breeds shame for us all. It’s not my fault, nor is it yours. I’m proud of my husband. He works hard to overcome this terrible addiction and I am working just as hard on my own self esteem issues. He is a good man and is not a pervert or any other manner of names which might be given him for so suffering. I love him and I know what I love…a son of my Father in Heaven. I’m not deluded or stupid either.

    I’m trying my best as is he…as are all of our spouses. Let’s be honest with one another.

    I sign using my identity with the blessing of a good man…my hubs.

  28. I have absolutely nothing important to add here except to say that I love you women. I love my community of strong, committed, loving women. I don’t even know how to say it strongly enough. I love you women.

  29. Wow. I have to second anon’s endorsement of Laura Brotherson’s book, And they were not Ashamed. http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com. It changed my life. My husband had porn problems before we got married (17 years now). I haven’t talked to him about it for a long time, but I am pretty sure he’s conquered it. (time for a talk?) Laura teaches how to think about sex in a positive way. It is a gift from our Heavenly Father that Satan tries desperately to destroy.

  30. I don’t know exactly what to add to what has been said. But I would like to second Lindsay’s comment about how secrecy breeds shame. Most of you reading this don’t know me…but the Segullah board members do (some of them). For some crazy reason I feel like saying it here.

    My husband has a pornography problem.

    There, whew. It is hard to be a secret keeper about this, because pornography is so misunderstood and it’s hard to be judged when you’re going through something so difficult. That is why I have never told anyone. But my husband never reads this blog, so I feel free to say it here.

    Thanks for this post Courtney.

  31. Reading the comments had me crying. I am so impressed at the strenth of the women who wrote and shared their stories.

    As for the initial topic of the post, using anonymous, I wish that we could be more open at times. But I guess we’ve all been in situations where people we hope would be compassionate were cruel or judgmental.

  32. For those of you who are living the secrecy that breeds shame, what do you wish the rest of us would do to help you? Would you like us to ask you how you are doing – how you are really doing – and then to listen to whatever you have to say? Or would that feel like prying?

  33. What we want IS to be able to talk about it without attaching our HUSBANDS names or our FAMILY name to it. It is difficult because we don’t WANT to be alone because it ISN’T OUR SIN, but BECAUSE it ISN’T our SIN, we can’t share it. I don’t think people are crying for attention here, or saying, wo is me….I think we are just caught in the middle and frustrated, and want to share but don’t know how, and don’t feel safe. For those of you who have shared their names, great, good for you. I am sure there will be a time and a place where others feel like sharing too. But, lets be understanding of each other and not condemn people for NOT sharing thier names. We have had a wonderful response at http://overcomingit.blogspot.com. Thank you for coming there and amongst the group of women there, I can feel loved and supported and people feel safe there and feel like they CAN share and it doesn’t matter who they are. For someone who has never been able to tell ANYONE, THAT is a miracle to me… :)

  34. This is such an important and touching thread. I am loving what is happening here. Thanks to cjane for posting it, and for you brave women who are sharing your stories. The more we all realize that we are not alone (because we all have our struggles, even though they come in different ways) the better life can be…all the more so with struggles that involve charged issues like addictions.

  35. Wow. I just wrote something great and so profound and it vanished! You’ll have to settle for what I can remember of it. Oops!

    Addictions come in many forms. There are addictions to food, sex, shopping, alcohol or other drugs and pornography. I’m by no means a psychotherapist so someone please correct me should I err. Any of those listed are typically used to fill a void, self-medicate and otherwise distract the “user” from painful issues and happenings in their life both past and present. Any substance which is “needed” or “used” to face life’s stressors is, by definition, an addiction.

    Pornography is especially virulent as it is easily accessible, affordable and anonymous. And, by my own personal definition of what constitutes pornographic material, it is everywhere and, at times, overlooked or dismissed as harmless or minor.

    As the wife of one who deals with this addiction, I have felt particularly shamed. I’ve questioned my attractiveness, intelligence, spirituality, judgment and ability to make correct decisions for my family. I’ve run a line of questioning to include my abilities as a wife, friend and lover. After all, I felt like I made the same “mistake” twice. But it’s not about me at all.

    This was brought into my marriage by my husband. He’s dealt with this issue since he was a small boy and was not even aware that it was an “addiction”. He could go for years…YEARS…without “using”. He would return to the habit when once again faced with a major stressor that taxed his capabilities. This had been a crutch since he was very young. Low self esteem brought him to it, he “used”, then felt worse and felt further injury to an already low self-esteem. The cycle would go on. In the case of my first husband, he was introduced to material in his teens. I’ve read of others who developed their addictions in mid-life. It can happen anytime. Vigilance and education are key to fighting these dysfunctions. The adversary hates few things more than an educated people.

    We have found Laura Brotherson’s book, And They Were Not Ashamed, most helpful of all. It has saved our marriage. We have learned, together (even though he’s deployed), of the wonderful gift that is the loving, intimate relationship shared by husband and wife. As we have been able to communicate this part of our relationship more effectively (and it was he who had the most inhibitions spawned by lack of education, shame and not wanting to offend me…as if!) we have experienced a healing elsewhere. The emotional, spiritual and intellectual facets of our marriage have also been healed and encouraged to develop. We weren’t aware of some, now smaller, issues which were and had developed but which time would have eventually revealed.

    This has been our miracle.

    Angie, to try and answer your question, I would say just be there. Just be a friend and listen. I don’t need advice but I do so desperately need a sounding board. All marriages have problems. If I had my druthers, I’d request Micah be addicted to power tools instead – and he comes close to that too. Such is a more palatable and socially acceptable dysfunction. I worry that by saying something to another I would subject myself and worse, my wonderful companion, to criticism and judgment. It’s hard enough to stay and work on things much less have someone outside magnify it for me. Wondering if someone to whom I confided thought I was deluded or silly for staying only further isolates me and compounds the problems in my marriage.

    Sometimes people sin as a way of thumbing their noses at the Lord and His standards which they consider to be restrictive of their personal rights. Sometimes people sin from an emptiness and a pain so great they cannot bear to face until they are assured of the loving assistance of another. It’s just too hard to face alone. They most certainly deserve our love and the utmost compassion. We’re all beggars of the same mercy, are we not?

    What I have to remember, especially on Sundays, is to not judge in the reverse. I cannot compare what is going on inside of me and my marriage with what I see on your outside and the interactions I observe between you and your spouse. We all have our problems and are in this together.

  36. As an aside, I hope what I’ve written doesn’t come of as harsh. It’s tough to adequately communicate these feelings through writing. There’s no voice or tone to written words and I’m such a rookie. I know I’m making tons of grammatical errors and such.

    I just feel like I’ve set down a very heavy burden and am finally asking for the help and understanding I’ve needed.

    It’s a relief, really, and I’ve needed / wanted to do it for such a long time. Thanks for listening.

  37. Lindsay, I don’t think what you wrote was harsh. I feel for you and want to reach out and hug you.((())) : ) I can empathize just a little as my husband had problems with porn before we got married. It caused some problems, but he had mostly conquered it before we got married. Still, the problems persisted in our physical relationship until we read And They Were Not Ashamed. I always give it as a wedding present–is that tacky? It truly improved my life. I hope others with marital struggles will read it too. The whole idea of becoming celestial is tied up with learning how to love our spouse.

  38. To all those who suffer:

    My heart goes out to all of you who are the spouses of sex addicts. I, too, have suffered with the KNOWLEDGE of my husbands addiction for nearly 10 years (he has been an addict for 30). We have 5 wonderful children. We are very active in the church and other people admire our family for the great example we are to all (if they really knew the truth???)….

    Since I found out, my husband has always assured me that he “has things under control” when in truth he’s just an expert at hiding it and lying about it (which included never telling the Bishop unless I told him first). I always felt unsettled and uncertain. I felt that he was still acting out but I had no proof. I couldn’t trust my feelings because I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and I believed his lies. After finally catching him in a lie (with proof), I gave him the ultimatum to get professional help or we were finished. He always refused to do so before because he couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else knowing about his problem. In order to save our marriage he did it. We are currently enrolled in an incredible program called LifeStar…

    http://www.lifestarnetwork.org/index.cfm

    LifeStar has a therapy program for spouses like you and me.

    I always thought that I was OK. All I needed was for him to get help and I would be fine. But, I have found out that I, too, need help dealing with all of the trauma that I have been through.

    Ladies, we have been betrayed, we have been lied to, our eternal companions have broken our trust. We have erroniously felt responsible for his addiction. We feel that we are not attractive enough or sexy enough. We have survived. Some of us have endured abuses. We are forgiving or trying to forgive. We need help, too. We carry a HEAVY, SECRET burden that we don’t share with anyone out of respect for our husbands privacy. Our husbands get all of the attention and consideration. What about US? You need to think of yourself and your sanity.

    You need to tell someone and get help for yourself so you can be healthy, too.

    TELL someone that you trust to keep a confidence. I shared my secret with a trusted friend (thanks m&m) and I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to be able to finally have someone to talk to. She not only gave me the support I needed but she didn’t judge or treat my husband any differently, which was very important to me.

    I used to feel that I was tattling if I told the Bishop. I have learned that it is very important to talk to the Bishop for my own sake. I have been traumatized to the point that I need spiritual counseling. If telling the Bishop traumatizes your husband so be it. Look at how his actions have traumatized you. You need your own spiritual guidance.

    There are 7 very special women out there that I talk to every week in group therapy. They have similair problems. It means everything in the world to me to be able to listen to and share our heavy burdens with each other. I am finally starting to get over the numbness. I can feel and start trusting my feelings again. I have already been the “wife that stayed” and I have confidence I will continue “to stay.” I also know that I am a special daughter of God. I deserve to be loved and treated kindly. I deserve a husband that honors his priesthood, fulfills his family responsibilities, and is morally clean. I have given years to my husband. I love him very much and I will give him more time. If he choses not to recover from his addiction I will be OK without him, too. If I need to be the “wife who left” I will survive.

    I was so excited to see the articles in July Ensign the one about the Milk Jug and the other about Addiction. They are specifically tailored for us! We are finally getting some attention. Hurray!

    I hope this helps someone out there that’s suffering. Hang in there Paige and get help now before you are 10 years into it like me. You are an incredible person Lindsay. Angie you are an angel, Thank you for wanting to help. You will be one of those special confidants one day.

  39. Val, amen, you’re amazing.

    for anyone interested, my husband says krcl ran a FANTASTIC discussion on radioactive this week. the topic, of all things: a very frank critique of pornography, “Pornography and the end of Masculinity.” he recommended that i throw the link up here, so here’s the blurb and link:

    SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (2008-06-25) Is there an ethical place for pornography in our culture? Gena welcomes Robert Jensen, author of Getting Off. They discuss the social impact of pornography in a sex for sale culture.

    http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/krcl/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1307534&sectionID=1

  40. Val, I have actually spoken to many of my friends about their struggles – some as serious as the ones mentioned here, some just the everyday challenges. I used to be a high school counselor, and now I’m a SAHM. I really miss talking with people about their struggles, their dreams, their triumphs, their failures and disillusionment. In a weird way, I feel most comfortable when wading through the mud and muck of real life with someone. Secrecy and pretending confuse me – I prefer honesty and the down-and-dirty struggles of real life.

    I truly believe that we are all in this together, that if we help lift each others’ burdens, that all will become lighter. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I love it when we help each other find them.

  41. Ladies,
    I don’t know if my comments are welcome here, however, since one of you was very complementary of my work with patients struggling with pornography problems, I just wanted to say how inspiring your suppport of one another is. You are truly fortunate to have each other in your various marital challenges and trials. I continue to work with individuals whose lives are negatively impacted by pornography. Their journies are difficult, but it is amazing when people truly desire to change how many things come together to support them in their righteous endevors.

  42. There have been a lot of comments about dealing with the addiction of a spouse. It can also be quite lonely dealing with the addiction of a child.

  43. I’m sad, I’m horrified, I’m mad, I’m baffled.

    I am so sad for those of you who deal with such overwhelming issues. You break my heart.

    I’m horrified at the numbers. 1 out of 3 in an LDS Stake??? I have a few friends who have confided such problems–one whose porn issues led to propositioning a “13-year-old” in a sting operation and jail time–but I have always hoped there weren’t more in my circle of friends.

    I’m mad. I’m so mad that so many LDS men have ignored prophetic counsel by indulging in porn that they became ensnared in–with such great harm and pain to their wives and children.

    While I love the Brotherson book (my kids will all get a copy before they get married) I’m baffled or sad or whatever to hear that it was this book that taught so many the amazing things about intimacy with our beloved spouses! We can’t let our children grow up NOT knowing this!

    c jane/Courtney K., if you have a stroller-age baby and live near BYU, I’m guessing you are significantly younger than I (I’m 44). There were anonymous online forums around when I was in college (I graduated in 1987). I’ve never been anonymous anywhere, but I have seen the benefit provided (as well as the problems presented) for decades now. I’m not sure if the good outweighs the bad overall, but I do know that aspect of discussion has been helpful for many.

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