In the weeks following our separation, I started discovering so many things about my life that were so much better and ways that I felt so much safer. I shared a couple of them with my therapist, and she said, "I didn't know that these things were part of your marriage. Do you know why you haven't mentioned them before?" I didn't know, of course. I just told her that I had never really thought about them before now. She then told me how important it would be for me to explore this further so that I could identify these things for my own personal understanding and growth.
I took her words to heart, and I started searching some more. Finally, I came across a whole list of different types of abuse with examples to clarify understanding. Finally, I had names for the things that had felt so wrong from the first hours of our marriage. Finally, I started to have some light and understanding. It was so freeing and so empowering to learn that I was not crazy after all. I was actually allowed to not feel okay about all of these things!!!
Just a quick note here: this is not a blog meant to convince women to divorce their sex addict husbands because they are all abusive and horrible or anything like that. I actually don't feel that way at all. I think that every single addict, addict's spouse, and every single couple is vastly different, and so the amount of abuse will be different in every circumstance. The route to safety is also unique to each situation. However, I have learned so very much from other fabulous WoPA (Wives of Porn Addicts) blogs that I want to see if I can help pass that kind of light and support on to others as well. I hope this blog will be the blog I so desperately searched for all those times -- a resource to let spouses know that yes! Infidelity (physical, emotional, or virtual) is abusive. No! Just because porn use and masturbation are common does not make them acceptable. And No! I am not crazy, no matter how much my spouse makes me feel that way.
Here is the description of various forms of abuse that I came across that day, courtesy of Joyful Heart Foundation:
Know the Signs
This information was like the sun suddenly burst forth from behind the clouds for me! I was not crazy, in fact, that feeling was part of my abuse. This information set me on the path of healing I am currently trying to walk. I have a growing belief that the Savior truly has power to heal all our sorrows through the Atonement. I am learning about the helps available to any of us in an abusive relationship: there is help through therapists, support groups, crisis centers, and numerous other resources, and I am learning how Jesus Christ can help me heal as I access my resources in faith. It doesn't always feel like it, but I am not alone.