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.
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.