There is one truth that for the longest time I never believed for myself. But now I believe it, and I want everyone who suffers on levels such as this to know:
HEALING IS POSSIBLE. HEALING CAME FOR ME, AND IT WILL COME FOR YOU TO!
Healing is not something that occurs in one swift motion. Healing does not come in an instant, and healing isn't an easy process. Healing is a cleansing process. A cleansing process of one's mind, heart, and soul. Healing is a choice. We are NOT a result of what happens to us in our lives. We are a result of how we REACT to what happens to us. There are things that will come that are completely out of our control, but how we choose to react to those things will determine our destiny. If we choose wisely, we can experience healing along the road that at times will seem relentlessly long.
And here's the good news: WE ARE NOT ALONE ON OUR PATH TOWARDS HEALING! Isn't that a glorious message!? We have a loving and merciful God who is there for us every step of the way. We have a Savior who knows EXACTLY what we are going through because he suffered all of these pains we feel long before we felt them. And we have angels that we cannot see who are there to love and support us and they are fighting our battles with us. You see, we are never truly alone on our painful journeys. That was something I had to learn before I was able to get up, overcome the initial shock, and move forward in faith.
Healing doesn't come through choosing to be the victim in any certain circumstance, and for me I had to push past the agony that was taking place in my mind and heart, and make specific decisions and take action towards healing. Small choices I made back then made a massive impact on the state of my heart as time passed. These are action steps that every single one of us can make. And no, making these decisions doesn't make the heart-stopping pain hurt less, and it doesn't induce instant healing, but it teaches and heals one step, one second, one minute, and one day at a time.
These are the things I had to experience in order to reach healing:
1. I had to decide right away that I wasn't going to let this destroy me. Throughout the course of events I resolved to be strong even if I felt like the weakest person on the face of the earth. For so long I felt like a little girl that couldn't control her feelings or emotions. I felt insane and I figured that my sanity was out of my control at the time. To a point it was... there were things I couldn't control. I couldn't control the deep ache that settled in my chest for weeks. I couldn't control my inability to sleep, or my lack of appetite due to the nausea that seemed to follow me everywhere. I couldn't control the horrific nightmares I had when I did sleep, and I couldn't control feeling overwhelmingly heavy all the time, almost as if an elephant was constantly sitting on me.
So, I took hold of the things I could control. I controlled how often I fell on my knees and talked with my Heavenly Father. I controlled opening up God's word and reading to find peace and wisdom. I controlled the fact that I wouldn't allow myself to be left alone at any given time for the first little while. I controlled who I spoke to and who I did not. I controlled which texts and phone calls I answered and which ones I did not. I was constantly seeking for peace. Hidden in all of these little insignificant choices was my deep desire to not let this tragedy destroy me. I wanted so desperately to be strong, and I learned along the way that all of us are blessed with that strength inside of us. God is more powerful than pain, and He can bless us with extra strength if we so choose to develop it.
2. I decided to find myself by losing myself in the service of others. One wise teacher, mentor, and friend once told me that "you find yourself by losing yourself in the service of others." I figured in this case I didn't have anything else to lose so I might as well distract myself at least. I expressed at one point my deep and painful feelings to this friend who offered me the opportunity to come volunteer as his TA for a semester at a local high school. I'd be working with high school seniors, and for whatever reason I felt a desperate need to except his offer.
Without going into great detail about that glorious experience, I have to admit that it was a MASSIVE blessing at this time in my life to get to know those high school seniors. Being greeted with "Good morning Miss Dalton!" every morning brought such joy to my soul for a time, and my heart felt full with love for those bright and beautiful teenagers that I was working with. Serving others played a tremendous role in my healing process, and it can in yours too. It's all a part of opening up your heart again to be able to love. Love is the greatest healing power in the entire world, and when I let a small piece of my heart love again, it meant the beginning of that small piece being mended and restored little by little.
3. I had to purge my past and forgive. Forgiveness was one of my more difficult tasks on my path to healing. I wanted to believe that I had forgiven him from the beginning. And I had reached forgiveness to a point, but I hadn't let it all go. I spent so much time being angry at him for destroying me. I spent so much time agonizing and reliving those moments of horror. I spent so much time feeling terrified of the people I came in contact or with, or afraid that maybe I didn't have a future past this experience. Honestly, I had to experience those difficult feelings in order to truly forgive and surrender my past in a way that doesn't let it define my future. Along the way I learned some things about forgiveness.
First, forgiveness does not mean putting yourself in a place where your heart keeps breaking. It doesn't mean reinserting yourself into someones life who has hurt you tremendously. Sometimes we have to love and forgive people from a distance, and that's okay. Second, forgiveness is not the same as excusing. We do not have to excuse someone's wrongdoing in order to forgive them. In fact, the more we allow ourselves to experience and recognize the damage that has been done, the greater our capacity to forgive, change, and move on. And third, forgiveness creates a safe space to allow God to heal your heart. Restitution for me came from my Savior, and it came in the form of healing and restoration of my heart and mind. Once I achieved forgiveness with the help of the Savior, I was able to feel free again which opened my heart up to be healed and purge the negative emotions I had towards the one who had wronged me. We all have that power to forgive. And if we don't have that power in the beginning, pray for that power. God will bless you with the innate power to forgive and move on.
4. I had to give all of my pain to my Savior. I remember a very specific time in the course of events where I learned this crucial life lesson. I had just moved with my parents, I was in a new place, and I had met some new people that I was terrified to open up to or think about to much. I was sitting on the edge of my bed one night in horrendous emotional pain. I felt panicky and weak and my heart hurt tremendously. I felt confused and angry and I sobbed uncontrollably for the loss of my peace of mind. It had been months... I should be over it... I shouldn't be hurting so much. In that moment I wondered if I would ever feel peace again.
At the time a thought came to mind that I had read about how the Savior is just waiting to heal us of our wounds and misfortunes, but in order for us to allow Him to heal our hearts, we have to ask for healing. It occurred to me at that moment that I had not yet simply asked for Him to take my pain. It seemed impossible for one moment of inquiry to heal such a wounded and broken down heart. But I had to try, and I had to muster up enough faith for healing to occur. I retreated to my knees and pleaded with the Lord to heal me. To take my pain. And I remember clearly stating, "Please... I don't want this anymore!"
At the conclusion of my prayer I felt stillness, and I felt an obvious lift in my heart. I felt anger melt into the floor, and I felt peace fill my soul as the tears flooded down my face. I knew in that moment that my prayer had been heard, and that I was currently in the process of having it be answered. My merciful Heavenly Father was going to take all my broken pieces and build them into something beautiful. I just had to excersise patience, and after that moment, my grief and pain in the days to come was less intense, less excruciating, and more bearable. It was nothing short of a miracle and I know it's because when we lay our burdens at our Savior's feet, He heals us.
5. I had to recognize that I still had worth. I was broken, wounded, damaged... I've used those words to describe myself so many times. I knew that to most men I was "damaged goods," and in my mind I didn't disagree, and I didn't believe that I had anything to give or offer anymore. But in order to experience healing, I had to learn differently.
Nobody is ever just eternally broken or damaged unless they choose to be that way. I have so much worth, and so much to give in my interactions with others. I may be broken, and I may have some scars, but my brokenness has transformed me into something beautiful. It's ironic because in the midst of it all, in the past year my capacity to love others has grown. I know now that someday when I discover the man who I was meant to be with, my love for him won't be any less because of the love that I had for the man who hurt me.
You're not broken! You're not damaged! You're not worthless! And in the sight of God, you have infinite power and ability to love and be loved, and continue on your path towards success and happiness. That was something I wish I would have understood faster, because it's so crucial when we are healing to know who we are, and by knowing who we are, we can take back our power that God blesses us with to prosper and live life to the fullest.
6. I had to be thankful. Gratitude is essential for healing. Either I was cursed because I lost who I thought was the love of my life. Or I was blessed because I was saved from being put in a situation that would have destroyed me so much more if it would have gone on longer. I've come to know that I was gloriously blessed, and I thank my Heavenly Father every day for saving me without me even knowing that I needed to be saved. When we express gratitude, we open our hearts to healing and happiness and let go of things that we no longer need to hold on to. It's not easy to find gratitude after such horrific experiences, but it's possible to find it. We simply start by seeking for the desire to be thankful. After that, it will come if we exercise faith.
6. I have to keep striving. Stop crying. Get out of bed. Put one foot in front of the other. And continue on in faith doing the things you know you should be doing, and the rest will fall into place. You don't get anywhere in life if you spend it crying in a bed or a chair. You experience peace and healing by living and moving forward. And I will be the first to admit that it is not always easy. There will be days for a long, long time where you grieve and cry. There will be days where you will feel like you cannot continue. There will be days where all of your feelings come to the surface in the form of tears. And there will be days you just want to scream because you cannot avoid the prickly parts of healing from trauma.
But I promise you that there will also be days where you find unexpected smiles creeping across your lips. There will be days when you'll meet new people that you're meant to love and be loved by. There will be days when you find yourself laughing again. There will be days when you'll experience joy in the moment, peace for the past, and hope for the future. These moments are what make the painful moments completely worth it.
Healing is possible. It doesn't come instantly but IT DOES COME. There are still days that I hurt and struggle. There are still days that I have to relive the past. There are still days that I experience longing and hopelessness, but they get less and less the more I strive for healing. It's important to remember that you are always loved. And there is ALWAYS help and happiness ahead.
Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you as He continues to turn your ashes into beauty.
What people are missing in these comments, is that he was an addict. Does it matter what he was addicted to? IWould you same the same thing if he was addicted to poker machines? Such as, "Poker machines are harmless, I play them all the time. You're a prude and the one with the problem" No.
So while I understand the commenters’ knee jerk reaction of “no porn is normal”, the porn isn’t the issue. It’s the lying. And I completely understand the trauma caused by someone you love lying to you. One of my exes cheated on me with one of my sorority sisters, and it turned out, had also been seeing men on the side, and never breathed a word of any of it to me till he just....called me and told me, Christmas Eve several years ago. I’ve never had a word to describe those two years of pain until now, so honestly, I’m thankful for seeing your post, even if it was originally shared by someone mocking it. I hope you’re able to find someone who is as honest with you as you deserve.
I came across your article on facebook and had to respond. First, don't let the people on here make you feel as if you made a bad decision. They don't walk in your shoes so they have no idea how and what you're feeling. I also understand the pain of what porn can do to a marriage. I have been married for 20 years and really thought I knew my husband. Several years into the marriage, I also found out what he was up to as far as the porn goes. Now I'm no prude but there's something about watching others perform sex acts that just doesn't seem right to me. Almost like an invasion of privacy. Not only that, it's so unrealistic that it's almost comical. But, it can and does destroy relationships. When I found out my husband watched this stuff whenever I wasn't around or even when I was around and he was on his computer, it made me sick. It hurt also. I'm in my mid 50's and enjoy having sex with him, until the porn started getting in the way. I started to notice him not wanting to be with me sexually as much until it came to a point where he didn't want to at all. He enjoyed pleasuring himself with the porn more than he did having it with me. Now that really hurt. Porn gives him a distorted representation of what sex is. Believing that what they are doing on the screen is what should be done in real life. Having a diluted idea that fantasizing about these people is much more gratifying than having an actual human that you can touch and feel right beside you. I couldn't and can't condone it. My morals and values won't allow me to. It makes me sick to think that the man I have loved for so long does this. We no longer have a sex life. Why? Because it has come to a point where he can no longer perform unless porn is involved. It saddens me and hurts deeply. Honestly, I want to have sex, yearn for it at times, but the thought of it being with him is not desirable to me anymore. I've thought about divorce. But do I walk away because of this? Do I try to convince him that we need help with this? Will help even work? What if it doesn't? I'm afraid to find out. So I put up with it. No I am not happy, not at all. In fact, I am quite miserable in my marriage. He seems not to care as long as he can do what he wants to do. If I had found out as you did before we married, I would have also left. It isn't as simple as people think to just change what you believe to be good and right. Yes there are many couples that watch it together and enjoy it. I'm glad for them. I just can't accept it in my own life. So now I'm stuck in a sexless, unromantic, non intimate marriage. Divorce would be an easy out, a quick fix. But I guess a part of me is hoping he will change or my way of thinking will. (I don't see that happening). You did the right thing. You would have been miserable, just as I am. Mid 50's and wondering why I didn't know this sooner so I could have changed things. Why didn't he tell me before we said I do? He knew my feelings about it yet failed to tell me. Such betrayal. So hang in there. There will be someone out there for you that will respect you enough to only want to be with you, tell you the truth and love you with their whole being. Good luck and take care!
Lot of the comments on here are saddening. Only someone who has been through this horror can understand. You did the right thing by walking away right after he lied the very first time. It would have always been an issue in your marriage and it would have gotten worse. I found out 7 years in my husband was addicted to porn. I knew something was wrong the whole time. I just did not know what. He happily let me blame myself for his disinterest is sex. I stuck by for two years and absolutely destroyed my self esteem and self worth in the process. I put up with the lying, blaming, minimizing, denying, gaslighting and even violence for two years. Then the real problem emerged. He was addicted to child porn. I am still trying to process that. I walked away a year ago utterly broken from that experience. Even a year later I find it hard to trust and find meaning in the entire thing. The sheer amount of emotional pain is just too much to even acknowledge at times. I unfortunately made the mistake of jumping right into dating and I pretty much attracted his clone. So here I am. Back at square one and not dating at all. . Just trying to find ways to heal the wound which lead me here. Thank you for writing this. Gives me hope.
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