Many of us have heard the story from Greek mythology of the phoenix. As the story goes, at the end of it's life, this bird lays in it's nest which then brutally burns to a pile of ash. And what does the phoenix do after it's been burned alive? It rises from the ashes, triumphant and strong, reborn and renewed.
I've experienced something similar from the whole world this past week. I've read all of your comments, messages, and emails. I've been burned and scourged, beaten and stoned, bruised and rubbed raw by the words of critics all over the world. Whoever first said that everybody's a critic was right, and when it seems like the whole world speaks against you with blow torch-like power, what does one do?
Well... in this case one arises from the ashes just like the phoenix. At this point, if I keep silent and wallow in my ashes, then that says to all of these incredible people I've connected with that they should give up too. So... I'm not giving up because my story is simply a representation of the thousands of people who have similar experiences.
"Woman reveals she CANCELLED her dream wedding just a week before the big day... after discovering her fiancé watches porn."
"Fiancé dumped over porn habit..."
"Woman cancels dream wedding to her "best friend" after discovering he watches lots of porn."
"Internet slams woman who dumped her fiancé because he liked porn."
"Bride dumps porn-addicted fiancé a week before the wedding."
It's officially everywhere and everyone seems to each have their own take on it. Overall, it seems as though I've hit a chord in the hearts of the men and women who have experienced great pain because of pornography. And I've struck a nerve in the men and women who indulge in and enjoy pornography. The internet is seemingly enraged and the fires in the hearts of the people are blazing as every person and their dog debates whether I did the right thing or not and other various opinions about me.
Again, it seems like a lot of people are missing the point. This isn't about me. This isn't about my ex-fiancé. This isn't about me trying to make everyone feel bad. This is not about me wanting to become famous (I do not want to be famous.) This is simply a representation of all the suffering going on in the world and a reason to stand strong and say that we don't have to live in a way that brings pain to others or ourselves. Among all of the mud slinging going on, I want to address the side of it that I've seen. I want to address the heartbreaking reality that has made itself very clear to me in the past couple of days.
Throughout the past week I have received a MASSIVE AMOUNT of emails and Facebook messages from women ALL OVER THE WORLD. These women have reached out to me and shared with me their stories of heartbreaking suffering FOR YEARS because of ongoing pornography in their relationship from their boyfriend, fiancé, husband, or any other man in their lives that they love and put their trust in. Clearly, I am not the first woman to leave or call a wedding off due to pornography. I want to reiterate now why I wrote this series of articles in the first place: I wrote them for THESE WOMEN!
"While we may not be cut from the same cloth, we share the same experience and pain."
"I have lived years of hell because of my husband's porn addiction."
"This happened that was similar to me and I never knew."
"I abhor porn and was deceived for years."
"Your story is my story."
The comments above are echoes of hundreds and thousands of women with all kinds of different religions and backgrounds who have expressed to me that they FINALLY have found some validity and hope. They finally feel like somebody somewhere understands the cries of their hearts. Are we (as a society) really going to mark every single one of these women as though they are "insane" and "delusional" just because pornography is such a widely acceptable thing? Maybe everyone else will... but I want to take a minute to address THESE WOMEN.
To the women who have reached out to me in the past week:
I want to thank every single one of you for your comments, your support, and your vulnerability as you've worked up the courage to share your personal heartbreaks with me. I want you all to know that I have read every single one of your messages, and I wish that I had the time to reply to each and every one of you individually. Given such large numbers of messages I've received, I can't respond to every single one. But I want you all to know that you are clearly NOT ALONE in your feelings and your experiences. I wish that I could wrap my arms around every single one of you and weep with you and talk with you. Know that my heart is now connected with yours. What we've done here is we've created an ARMY of women whose hearts are connected and who stand as witnesses that pornography is a threat to true love and to the family unit. We've created a voice that has power and hope behind it. We may not be able to solve the worldwide plague of pornography, but we can help fight this drug one person at a time.
I've also had the unique opportunity to read the messages of a few men who have fought the fight of porn addiction in their own lives, and have overcome it and no longer choose to indulge in such things. THANK YOU for sharing your story! Thank you for proving that not "all men do it." Thank you for expressing the truth that is repentance and change. Thank you for being the amazing men that you are. It's clear to me that these men still exist, and it's possible to overcome. These men may seem few and far between, but I know that there are more out there, and in light of that I want to send a worldwide message to the men:
To the men who do not indulge in pornography... to the men who once indulged in those things and no longer choose to because they have discovered deeper happiness and a deep cleansing made possible through our Savior, Jesus Christ: I KNOW THAT YOU ARE OUT THERE! PLEASE HAVE THE MORAL COURAGE TO SPEAK UP AND SPEAK OUT. PLEASE REACH OUT. PLEASE HELP US WOMEN TO KNOW THAT YOU STILL EXIST. This is the conversation that needs to be happening in order to make a difference. As Edmund Burke once stated: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Please don't do nothing.
As a woman, it's so much easier to keep quiet. It would be so much easier for me to "disappear, shut up, and stop writing." It would absolutely be easier for me to do nothing. But sometimes doing the easy thing that everybody is telling you to go do is not always the right thing. And when someone decides to do the right thing and nobody stands by her... it can be very difficult to endure. So feel free to reach out through comments and messages. If the only way that a woman or a person can earn respect is by keeping her mouth shut then I'm not sure why we're all put on this earth together. This conversation is so important, and we can all find the moral courage to refrain from doing nothing.
It's time for society to WAKE UP! Your women are grieving! Your children are grieving! And as far as I'm concerned, your men are grieving as well!
I want to take a minute to clarify something: My religion has never taught me that "sex is bad." As a large amount of people seem to think that's what I believe, let me explain what I actually believe: I believe that sexual relationships are so GOOD that they are sacred in which they should be held within the boundaries that God sets. This means within the bounds of a man and a women lawfully wed as husband and wife. This excludes anything outside of those bounds including pornography. This is what I BELIEVE. You do NOT have to agree with me. But I just want to express that living this way has brought ME great joy and happiness. The kind of joy and happiness that I wish all of you could experience.
The widespread use of pornography is a heartbreaking reality. But all of us can play a part in crushing that reality and striving to create happier families and healthier homes. The idea that everyone watches it and it's normal and healthy is just not true. We are CHILDREN OF GOD. We are not just sexual animals that need lust and sex the same way we need food and water. In a world filled with instant gratification, we've forgotten what really matters. LOVE. FAMILY. HOPE. LIFE. If love is truly what matters, then why are we all fighting for porn? Instead of fighting against each other, we can ban together and fight against the thing that is destroying those higher powers and higher levels of happiness.
I wish the healthiest and happiest lives for all of you, and I hope that we can all move forward with hope for healing one person at a time. We can all arise from the ashes, just like the phoenix.
In light of the massive upheaval that has arisen since my last series on betrayal trauma, I feel the need to make a general overall statement, mainly because it would take years to respond to the thousands of comments, and some of them I don't feel are worth responding to anyway.
I've officially been bashed by the internet for my religion, my personality, my values, my mind, my writing, my experiences, my dreams, and anything else that people could manage to find wrong with me and those articles. Congratulations, you've officially covered all of your bases. I suppose most of you who made the rude comments, (if not all of you) feel like they're deserved, and you completely have a right to your own opinion. But if you feel the need to write any more nasty comments on my blog, they are now immediately deleted on Chronically Beautiful simply because as the author of my own website, I have the freedom to choose what is shared and what is not, and I don't write things for the purpose of spreading hate.
The things that people are willing to say to a complete stranger are quite shocking, and make an overall general negative statement about our society. I find it ironic that for a society that is big on #noshame, everyone seems perfectly okay with shaming and harassing innocent people on the internet. It's okay to have differing opinions than mine. In fact, it's more than okay. But there's certain class, civility, and eloquence that anyone can demonstrate when stating their different opinions, which some people showed in their comments. You can absolutely state how you think or feel without brutality. Nobody deserves to be treated in such a way, including myself.
I want to take a minute to address the religious aspect of the argument. Most of you have figured out by now that I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I love my religion, and it brings me great joy and happiness. No, the "Mormons" are not a cult, and just because someone is religious and believes in God does not mean we automatically belong to a cult. It does mean that I believe in a most high God who loves ALL of his children, including my ex-fiance, and every single one of you. It means that I value chastity, which means abstinence from sexual relationships before marriage and complete fidelity after marriage. You do not need to agree with my values to respect my values. And just because I have a high-value system does not mean that I'm "self-righteous" or that I believe that I'm perfect. Of course, I have my flaws... but there is a major difference between making mistakes, and sexual promiscuity.
One thing I want to point out is that true love does not and cannot exist unless it is governed by God's law. This includes chastity, fidelity, loyalty, and honesty. Without those things, TRUE love does not exist. And those who proclaim that it does are usually not very happy themselves. Of course, marriage is hard and there's no perfect marriage. But overall, marriage was created to bring more joy and happiness than pain and heartache. But to those who think I "jumped ship," you're right... I did. Because when someone in an engagement decides to violate God's laws, honesty doesn't exist. And neither does love. At that point, because we were not yet married, it was not my job to "fix him." (When has a woman ever tried to "fix" a man and it's actually worked anyway!?) It's his job to fix himself. That doesn't mean I can't offer love and forgiveness. Which I did at the time and still do... but forgiveness does not equate to sticking around where I can be hurt multiple times over. You don't reach repentance and change by being coddled every step of the way. Leaving was an act of love because I care more about what happens to him in the next life than I do about having a "picture perfect wedding" in the here and now. No woman should ever be guilted into marrying anybody.
I also want to state that I think a large majority of people are missing the point of why I wrote these articles. I was completely aware when I posted these that I would get some backlash. But those people that are whipping me with their tongues are not the audience that I wrote this series of articles for. So honestly, if it makes you that angry, there is literally no reason why you have to read what I write. I didn't write them to shame men, women, or porn addicts. I didn't write them to shame my ex-fiance. I didn't write them to get attention (why on earth would anyone actually want this much attention?).
The reason I wrote these articles is because there are hundreds and thousands of women out there (and I'm sure some men too) who have been through similar things. Some of these people that I have met personally have continuously told me that they have experienced so much pain from their loved one's pornography addiction, but they can't talk about it precisely because of the social backlash that I have received from this topic. I write for these women. I write for these women that finally have a voice now (as you can see from the comments on LOVE WHAT MATTERS). I write for these women so they can see that despite the men or other people in their lives who betray their trust, they still have worth and there is hope that their hearts will be healed.
I also believe it's quite appalling that anybody invalidates anyone else's pain. Everybody feels and expresses things on different levels, and just because we live in a society that is insanely numb, does not mean that everyone has to be numb and emotionless. Nobody would ever laugh at someone who was in a car accident and lost an arm. So why is it okay that we mock other people's emotional pain? If the shoe was on the other foot and it was YOUR emotional pain caused by someone close to you betraying YOUR trust, it wouldn't be so funny now would it? I also want to point out that I suffer from a chronic illness called Chronic Lyme Disease. The nature of Lyme disease itself is that it can drill into your nervous system, and therefore it causes a heightening of the senses. This is usually accompanied by deep negative emotion, anxiety, or depression. So when a Lyme patient's life is thrown a hardball, it is extremely hard to process at first. So to those who think I'm "immature" and "overly dramatic"... That's not exactly a card you can play if you don't live in my own skin. I simply wrote what I was feeling at the time, and if you actually read the other two parts you would find that the conclusion was that I'm happy with the decision I made, and that I did overcome the pain I was feeling.
Okay, let's address the pornography issue for a minute here...
First of all... to those who think I just destroyed my ex-fiancé's life... Let me clarify: We already had over 300 invitations to our wedding sent out. We had to call every single one of those people and tell them what happened to inform them that the wedding was off. Pornography addiction does not just affect you. Pornography addiction affects the people around you, and it's only so long before the truth is going to come out. Because of the nature of my situation, it's not a secret among our friends and family. It never was. I didn't write the articles to bash my ex-fiance. And the things I did write simply stated what happened, and how I felt about it. That's it! I forgive my ex-fiancé, and I hope the best for him and his life.
I recognize that pornography addiction is a massive struggle for some people, and I want to point out here that my heart goes out to anyone who is caught in the grasp of it. I do NOT feel hatred towards the people who struggle from addiction. I feel sad because I know how much it destroys love, family, and happiness. But I don't feel hatred. If you read the whole post, you would have read that eventually I had to stop seeing myself as the victim in the situation because that's part of moving on and healing. Similarly, the people who are addicted to porn need to stop seeing themselves as the victim too. Because if you say that a porn addict is a victim, you're not giving them any hope to overcome the addiction. Clearly, there needs to be MORE HOPE in this world.
Pornography addiction is a very difficult plague. I will never claim that it's not. And whether you believe that pornography addiction is an illness or not is irrelevant, because the problem is that so many people use the word "addiction" and "illness" as a way to justify their actions, in which case they will never overcome it. There are two roads you can take when you find yourself in this place. One road will always lead back to the addiction. And the other road leads to Christ who paid the price for ALL pain. One road leads to shame, isolation, and other sexual addictions, and the other road leads to repentance and change. Christ paid the price for those struggling with pornography. Does it take some stretching and some difficulty to overcome? Of course, it does! But it isn't impossible. It's possible with Christ's enabling power. You don't have to live life with a serious sexual addiction. There is life without porn addiction, and believe it or not, there can be life AFTER porn addiction depending on how YOU CHOOSE to get help and how YOU CHOOSE to help yourself.
I also want to take a minute to address the people who claim "it's just porn." There are HUNDREDS of statistics on how harmful pornography is on the brain, relationships, and the world. If you don't believe me, you can visit fightthenewdrug.org where it outlines and explains what pornography does, and why it's so harmful. There is nothing natural or healthy about indulging in pornography. To say that "all men look at porn" is to say that all men care more about self-gratification and sexual desire than they do about their wives, daughters, sons, and the other people they love in their life. I don't believe that all men are like that... In fact, I know some incredible men who are not like that, and porn is not a part of their lives, or they're trying incredibly hard to eliminate it from their lives. Kudos to those men. Kudos to them for valuing greater things in their lives. The reason why pornography is such a massive epidemic in society is because it's so socially acceptable. There is nothing wrong with hoping for a greater future for our world than one filled with porn, addiction, and adultery.
I want to conclude this post by thanking all the wonderful women and men who have positively reached out to me in the past few days, and I want to offer tremendous love to all the people who have given support and banned together on this issue. Keep on keeping on and stay strong! There is always hope and happiness ahead!