Dealing with addicts has been a common trial for me since I was a young adult. One failed relationship after another because of selfishness and betrayal. All of these surrounding and encompassing a pornography or other sexual addiction.
Sexual addictions are horrid. Far rougher for me than other addictions I've dealt with such as alcohol or substance abuse. For some reason, when my loved one was suffering from a sexual addiction it always made me ache at my core, it almost "made it personal" (Which I know NOW that it totally isn't and never had anything to EVER do with me.).
Since discovering my husbands pornography addiction shortly after we began dating, I've really had to dig deep and educate myself about this type of addiction. Don't get me wrong, for a while there was a period where I lived in my pajamas, cried endlessly, and wanted to just eat Oreos and ice-cream all day. How could this be? The man I LOVE, the man I CHERISH has this problem? I blamed myself from the beginning and it sent me into a spiral of isolation and depression. (You couldn't PAY me to go back to those days...)
Fast forward through the years of traumatic and aggressive recovery, and we've been together going on 7 years. We're in the best place of our lives together and every day it gets easier and easier to not only forgive him, but actually love him more because of what we've been through together.
Read my blog post: "Taking Care of Yourself When a Loved One Struggles With Addiction"
One of the most precious gifts that has come to me as a woman who decided to marry someone with a pornography/sexual addiction, has been the gift of empathy. This gift has brought more joy and blessings to me than I could have ever dreamed of. Being able to empathize with woman I meet on a daily basis has been enlightening and something I cherish.
When we are out in public just going about our daily activities, I often find myself in the presence of couples who I can just "sense" are going through an all too familiar scenario that my husband and I once faced. I often run into women with hurt eyes, walking around as if they are in a daze and who just radiate the pain they are experiencing. Sometimes I just want to hug them, and share with them the truths I've learned since my own discovery day. My husband makes a pretty bold statement when he walks around wearing his "Porn Kills Love" T-shirt, and it's a great conversation starter. We've had men tell Erick "you've got that right", and women who come up to shake his hand or give him a hug in appreciation of him being so fearless in the words written boldly on his shirt.
The grace you feel when you are empathic towards others is so powerful. Being able to stop, take a breath, and place yourself in another's position is truly a life-changing ritual. It creates a special bond between individuals and when there is empathy in the soul there is never room for hate or anger. Not only have I learned how to have empathy for the loved ones of addicts, but the addicts themselves. After all, Erick and I wouldn't have made it this far if my empathy stopped at others. I empathize with him on a daily basis to better understand where he's coming from in his recovery. It's been nothing short of awe-inspiring and enlightening, and I'm grateful for this gift of empathy that I was blessed with through our trials.