Since learning my marriage was built on a foundation of love, bound by lies and deception, I have faced a challenge beyond all that is imaginable. Emotional devastation zipped neatly in a duffle bag filled with evidence of sex addiction. That bag would hold every waking thought captive as I tried to decipher it’s meaning and the consequences yet to come.
"Every guy does it!" That’s what I told myself when porn made an abrupt entrance into my life. Oh, there had been a picture here and there, the presence in our computer history once in a while, and the random, sexist comment about women on television or those seen in public, but that’s normal, right? Since I have been accused of being too sensitive, I dug deep to explain each instance away. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the day I discovered his Holy Grail of porn. Holy Grail is the nickname I gave that bag filled with hundreds of hours of barely-legal babes’ ready to make my husband…Well, you know! In addition to the, ahem, professional, hot and horny babes, there were videos, of the homemade variety nonetheless.
My hands trembled as I read the names my husband had carefully inscribed on the label of each video tape. The names were familiar to me; some were ex-girlfriends; one I didn’t recognize, and one that I’d heard only weeks before when we ran into a former co-worker of his at a department store. Former co-worker? The urge to vomit intensified as I thought back to how casual the introduction had been when I met one of the women featured in the reality portion of his extensive collection.
Call me old-fashioned, call me prude; I had found the place where I would draw the line. I
could not, would not, live under the same roof with a man who felt the need to keep such a hefty collection of smut. A Playboy is one thing. Browsing the shadier side of the Internet occasionally, may be understandable. What I stumbled on, was a small sampling of what lurked in the days that would follow.
Thrust into a world where trust did not exist, I began to follow eyes. I watched the eyes of attractive women to see if they were watching my husband. I watched my husband’s eyes to see where they would wonder. I compared myself to every woman that scored a second glance or lingering stare. Those comparisons became a personal and physical shopping list of sorts. A shopping list of clothing styles, hairstyles, hair color, makeup technique, plastic surgery and essentially, anything else I could change to make me someone else.
I became a domesticated version of a double-0-seven agent, uncovering phone numbers, addresses, Facebook accounts and email addresses. I kept a list tucked away on my computer, for quick reference. After researching computer software, I installed a program that would track his online activity. Studies have shown that porn addiction increases the risk of infidelity, and that was one risk I was not willing to take lightly.
Self-medicating and Healing
Through investigation and discovery, I learned addictions are usually a way to self-medicate, even an addiction to pornography. My attention shifted.
What could my husband be hiding?
What inner-turmoil could he be trying to mask or suppress?
There had to be some reason for this addiction because no one would go to such incredible lengths to protect DVD’s or sneak around to watch skin flicks if it were “just a guy thing.” No one would hurt and objectify another without cause, right? The quest for answers was exhausting. My husband has had many years to master the art of lying and learn to hide his addiction. There was no way even the sharpest mind could compete with such expertise.
The co-dependent part of me wanted to dig deeper to find the cause and fix it. The survival part of me had to find a way to cope, heal or muster the courage to leave. Divorce is not an option, at least not now. By the grace of God, I have found remarkable communities around the Internet. The power of reclaiming life is mine – whether my husband chooses recovery and a happy marriage or addiction and a deep sense of divide.
I am learning to separate my own healing from his recovery (or lack of). I am learning to regain control of what is mine and to develop a certain level of stability. And most of all, I am learning more about this addiction that needs only a pair of hungry eyes and a willing mind to thrive.