addiction, betrayal, Choices, My Story

My Dad Can Stop Watching Porn Anytime He Wants…Right?

This article was first published on Fight the New Drug Webstie in 2016 and republished in 2018.  It was sent to them annonymously by my oldest daughter.  Back then she was interested in protecting the guilty, and the innocent in the hope that he father would get his act together and come back to us.  Since that time life has change for all of us, drastically, as this blog has thoroughly discussed. Being annoymous isn’t as important anymore.  Most of our friends and family know what happened to us.

What the article doesn’t say is there was more too this than was written.  Not only did my Ex come into town to celebrate our youngest’s birthday, he came into town to “celebrate” our anniversary only 2 months after d-day. Understandably, I wasn’t ready to spend time with him whispering sweet nothings in his ear.  So this is what he chose to do instead…

Today, January 23rd, would have been our 40th Wedding Anniversay. And these events were really the beginning of the end.  This is the point when he showed us all that he had no intention of fixing his problem, repairing our family, or making everything up to us. How sad that he allowed his addiction to destroy a long term marriage and family!

Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

We recently received a story that shows that the harmful effects of porn don’t always revolve around romantic partners like boyfriends/girlfriends or husbands/wives. Some stories, like this one, show how porn can isolate, consume, and eventually even destroy families.

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True Story

My dad doesn’t have a porn addiction. He can stop any time he wants.

At least that’s what he likes to tell my mom. Frequently.

Almost eight years ago, my dad was compelled to look at a website when someone confessed to him that a particular website was a problem for them. He didn’t tell any of us because the confession been shared with him in confidence. But it was only a matter of months until my brother caught my dad in a compromising situation, video chatting with a woman that was not our mother.

Related: Is Porn Addiction Even A Real Thing?

Soon it came out that he had created a profile on that website and was befriending other regular porn consumers. He had also started up an inappropriate texting and video chatting relationship with that other woman. My mom moved out for a few weeks because of this but eventually they worked things out and seemed to grow closer than before. Until about a year ago.

My mom received a text from a random woman claiming to have been in a texting relationship with my dad for over a year. She had the texts and pictures to prove it. She had been blackmailing my dad for a while, threatening to tell my mom unless he sent her money every month.

He can stop any time he wants.

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The Secret Relationship

Eventually he got tired of paying her off, and even gave her my mom’s phone number, daring her to go through with it. That’s when she first texted my mom. Even after she had blown his cover she still thought she could get money out of him. When he refused to pay her any more money, she started a blog devoted to his infidelities. She posted screen shots of their texts. She posted details about my brother, sister, and myself. She knew things she should not have known about all of us. And then she emailed the link of this blog to my brother, my uncles, and my grandpa.

Mom decided to separate, still wanting to give him a chance to get help and get better. My siblings and I supported her in that decision. She got her own apartment, which she shares with my sister. Dad got a new job in a different state with the plans of visiting to work on his relationship with us.

Related: Why Isn’t Pornography Addiction An Official Diagnosis?

The first time he came back to visit was to celebrate my sister’s birthday. But my sister wasn’t sure she was ready to see him. So I offered to spend time with him instead. He came over in the morning to drop off a birthday card for my sister, but as soon as he walked in the door he was making excuses for why he needed to leave. He said he needed to pick up a prescription he hadn’t yet transferred to his local pharmacy, he was planning to take an old friend to lunch, and he wanted to stop at the outlet mall to look for some new pants. We were surprised that he didn’t want to spend time with us but we weren’t going to force him to hang out. We didn’t hear from him for the rest of the day, despite reaching out to him. Later that evening I asked my mom if she had heard from him at all, and she hadn’t.

Something Was Up

I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going on. So I got in my car to just drop in on him at his hotel. My mom was worried that maybe he’d had a heart attack and didn’t want me to go alone. I told her I was fairly certain he hadn’t had a heart attack but that I had other suspicions. But she met me there anyway.

I didn’t know what room he was in and since hotels don’t give out that information for security reasons, they called his room for me. No answer. Mom called his cell phone. Twice. No answer.  The hotel staff called his room again and he finally answered. They told him we were there. It took him a really long time to come down to the hotel lobby and when he did he acted very strange.

Related: How Porn Can Become Addictive

After talking to him for a while I suspected he had someone in his hotel room. He swore that he didn’t. I told him to prove it. He jumped up out of his chair and said that he would do just that.

Halfway down the hall he turned and said he wasn’t going to take us up to his room, that he did have someone up there, that nothing was going on, and that she didn’t deserve to be confronted like that.

He can stop any time he wants.

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His Secrets Revealed

He pleaded with us to leave and promised he would drive her home. I wasn’t about to let that happen. I suggested he call her a cab. He wouldn’t. I begged him to let me call one, I’d even pay for it. He didn’t. I insisted he take me to his room. He refused. He protected this woman at every turn.

Eventually I convinced him to take me up to the room. I’m not exactly sure what I was trying to accomplish. Maybe I thought she’d be reasonable and let me call her a cab. Instead, I was forced to stand in the hall while she and my dad whispered to corroborate their story. Once I was finally allowed in the the room I knew that there was definitely something going on there. The woman hid in the bathroom the entire time, but the bed wasn’t made and her clothes were folded on the couch. I picked up her phone and my dad lost it. He begged me to put it down. When I wouldn’t, he tried to physically pry it from fingers, blocking my every move. I was scared by that behavior, my dad had never before been physically confrontational with me in my life.

He can stop any time he wants.

Losing Control

I thought that I could wait there in that room until one of them came to their senses and let me call a cab. But she told me, through the door, that my dad is a grown man and I should let him make his own decisions. And he threatened to call the cops on me if I didn’t leave.

Related: When Porn Wasn’t Enough For My Partner, He Turned To Prostitutes

I left that hotel that night with a broken heart. My dad should have been protecting my mom and myself in such a crazy situation. Really he never should have put himself, let alone us, in a situation like that in the first place. But the love he has felt for his family has been replaced by something else. Something cheap and fleeting.

Can he really stop any time he wants?

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If he really could stop…

I refuse to believe that this is not an addiction and that he can stop whenever he wants. I refuse to believe that this shell of a man is the father I have known and loved my entire life. I refuse to believe that the dad I know and love is a figment of my imagination and that this is the real him. I refuse to believe that instead of choosing to stop, he would consciously choose to continue this behavior that is only hurting him and those that he supposedly loves most.

If he could really stop any time he wants, I wish he would have stopped a long time ago.

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What YOU Can Do

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The Cupcake Warrior
addiction, betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

Thoughts from UCAP

UCAPlogo_vertical_blue_320The Utah Coalition Against Pornography had their yearly conference this past week.  I decided to go…and then I didn’t…and then I did…and then I didn’t.  I wasn’t sure how triggering this would be for me, or if I could handle it.  In the end, I decided to go, mostly because my company was providing the text messaging for the conference.  This is also an issue I care about deeply, so I went.  I am glad I did. The theme of the conference was “The Hope Effect” and it turned out to be very hopeful, for both addict and trauma victim. I met lots of awesome new people and re-connected with people I already know.  All in all the experience was great!  I did have a few very triggering moments, I am not going to lie, but I was able to breathe through them and be just fine. Tears were shed, it was just that kind of place.

I came away with a few thoughts and epiphanies that I would like to share. They were profound enough that I wrote them down.

On Secrets

This first one is from therapist Jeff – Speaking to the addict, he said, “Secrets are love repellant. You will feel love to the degree that you don’t keep secrets. You will get better to the degree that you don’t keep secrets” The fact that my Cheater kept so many secrets from me was a very strong indication that he was not going to fix the problem.  He never once came clean to me about anything he was doing.

Addicts build walls and they go up because they are afraid of rejection, but these walls have just the opposite effect, at least they did in my life.  I ended up feeling like the rejected one. These secrets color and damage every aspect of the relationship.  Addicts reject their spouses love because they think, “If you knew what I did, you would not love me.” But it is the addict who doesn’t feel the spouses love so they end up blame the spouse.

I can attest to this.  It is exactly what happened in my situation.  I can imagine that my Cheater felt so much guilt and shame for what he had done that he could not imagine that I would ever love him again.  But the opposite would have been true if he had done the hard work to just get INTO recovery.  I would have loved and respected him more than he could ever imagine, because he would be fighting to keep me.  There is nothing more loveable or romantic than a man who will fight for the woman he loves!

“It is a contradiction to say, “I honor the human person,” while treating the human body as separable from the person using it as a tool, devouring [pornographic] images of it…One cannot at once love the beautiful and desire to defile it. It is like loving the Pieta with an ax.”  Anthony Esolen

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The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

Therapist Tyler Perry talked about the importance of connection in preventing and overcoming addiction. The science is becoming so clear that people turn to addictive behaviors because they are not connecting to people in the real world. We live in an addicting world.  Everything from gaming, to cell phones, to pornography is addicting.  Even jobs and hobbies can be addicting.

Long term recovery cannot happen unless the addict has real life connections.

Addiction + Connection = Recovery

Sobriety is only achieved by a committed effort to a lifestyle change. This is something I worked hard to show my Cheater.  But he was not convinced he needed a drastic change in his lifestyle to overcome the behavior.  The truth is, that unless there is a lifestyle change, these patterns of behavior will come back.  There is no doubt of that.  You cannot just white knuckle your way to sobriety on sheer willpower.  It won’t happen.

Studies are showing that there must be a connection to others and to your higher power.  And that connection to your higher power begins with daily activities that happen with intention. Things like, scripture study, prayer, meditation, going to church, being in nature, listening to good music and keeping a journal are all things addicts should be doing every day. Over time these “dailies” cause a softness to occur in the heart and we get a confirmation that we are worthy of love.  We gain perspective.  We become humble and that fosters safety and connection for the partner.

Recovery from addiction is very possible, but it takes work.  It takes a willingness to work. It takes humility.  My Cheater did not demonstrate any of these behaviors. He doesnt exhibit them any more today than he did 5 years ago.

While sitting in this conference I saw men who were in recovery.  I saw their light and humility. I saw their efforts and willingness to fight for their wives and children.  It was a stark contrast to how my Cheater responds.  In that moment I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was right to divorce him.  He does not deserve me.  He does not deserve our children.  Had he fought for us, he would have been worthy of us.  But he didn’t. And because he refused to fight for us we were left with no other choice but to walk away.

On Goal Setting

Lastly, I was struck by what therapists are learning about setting goals.  45% of Americans set goals for the New Year, but 92% never achieve their goals.  And by February most people have given up on their goals altogether.  So researchers have tried to figure out why most people do not achieve their goals.

What they found is:

That if you write down your goals and share then with someone else it will decrease the motivation to achieve the goal.  This is because of something they call the “substitution effect.”  What this does is that if you tell someone about your goal, the brain will actually tell you that you have already achieved the goal and convince you that you are already making progress.  This cause the motivation to actually work on the goal to decline. Our brain gives us validation for just “planning” to do something. But if you do not have an outside audience then you are more likely to work harder to achieve the goal.

This is why setting a goal to not look at porn never works.  When your goal becomes white and black, sobriety or addiction, you will fail.  Every time. You are doing well, until you are not.  You become delusional in your thinking.  Everything is always bad or always good.  In this state you are delusional.

So forget about setting goals like this that will set you up for failure.  Instead, focus on the processes. Processes are not a destination. Processes act more like a road map.

Here are the main processes for recovery:

  1. Recovery Dailies – these help you stay emotionally stable, self-aware and grounded.  This is like providing routine maintainance to your car.  If you don’t take care of your car, it will go along fine for a while until you have a problem. By then the problem will be serious and expensive.  Dailies are routine maintainance.
  2. Curiosity – approach healing with a curious mind.  This is much different from evaluating everything that happened.  Slow way down and enjoy the journey.  Ask yourself important questions like, “I wonder why I feel this way?” or “That is an interesting cycle, why did that happen?” Observe your behavior and ask questions about it.  This will take a lifetime to master this shift in thinking.  But having curiosity is more important than intelligence when it comes to problem solving.
  3. Highlight Patterns – highlight your own part of the pattern first to your partner then ask, “what do you think your part of the pattern is in this situation?” This will start a healthy dialogue in identifying and fixing the pattern.
  4. Conflict is Diagnostic – When you have a conflict with your partner it is a chance to ask, “What is it about this pattern that got us back here?” Use conflict to find a diagnosis. Then check your own emotions to see how you handle conflict.
  5. Seek Personal Serenity – Do not let someone else control your emotions. This will take years of work, but it is necessary.  Do not hand over your influence and power to someone else.  Accepting hardships is the pathway to peace.
  6. Replace Fairness with Acceptance – Fairness is the enemy of serenity.  Fairness does not help you to grow. Learned helplessness is not acceptance. Acceptance is not wasting your energy  on things you have no influence over and spending time on the things you do. Accept things that are for what they are.
  7. Create a Recovery Narrative – Imagine your life as being narrated.  We value stories over random facts.  Create how you want your story to be in your mind. 12 Steps is critical to recovery because it creates a safe place for an addict to share their story. Your role in it is to not be overly critical or supportive of the addict in recovery.  Remember that we do not throw parades for ourselves or others until the behavior is changed, if we do this it undermines recovery. Praise decreases the motivation to keep going.  A better response for improvement is, “that’s interesting, it will be interesting to see if you can keep that up.”
  8. Breathe – Remember to breathe.  This allows us to reset.  Nobody can go at this 100% all of the time. Breathing is essential.

What stands out to me in these processes is how much I yearned for this to happen in my own relationship with my Cheater and how unwilling he was to make it happen for us. This kind of work would have been hard to do, but I would have loved it!  I would have enjoyed so much working to become closer and more connected as a couple.  This would have been fun for me! However, I also realize now how resistant he was to all of this.  It was never going to happen, not in a million-trillion years.  Like he told me over and over, he just isn’t into all that touchy-feely stuff.  It’s not him.  He is right.  He isn’t, wasn’t, even on a good day. This is the kind of connection I wanted and needed from him throughout our marriage and he is not capable of giving it to me.  And even the crisis of an addiction wasn’t enough for him to want it for himself either.

It’s better for me that I divorced him. I was really fighting a losing battle. He is a broken man with no desire to fix anything.

If you would like to view articles and videos from UCAP classes visit their website.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, repentance, Spiritual

“Sorrowing of the Damned”

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

As a member of the LDS church I have sat in Sunday School class and heard some short-sighted soul lament about the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. “Why do we have so many war chapters in the Book of Mormon?? I don’t get it??”

Anyone who has had to struggle with a loved one addicted to sex or pornography gets it! This is a war we are fighting! A war for the very hearts and souls of our loved one! We need the strategies of war to know how to fight against Satan and his insidious weapon! Be grateful for the war chapters! Read them as a guide for spiritual warfare and you will find great hidden treasures of knowledge in them.

Case in point:

The phrase “sorrowing of the damned” appears in the scriptures exactly once. In the Book of Mormon, Mormon: Chapter Two. The place that it appears is just as telling as the scripture itself.

Mormon was all of sixteen years of age. Very young, but he tells us he was a large youth and very strong. The scriptures also says that he was extremely righteous. So much so, that the people appointed him to be their leader, and the leader over their armies. At least the people had the good sense to recognize his capabilities.

These are the winding up scenes of the Book of Mormon. A great battle is about to take place between the Nephites, traditionally the good guys, and the Lamanites, traditionally the bad guys.  And the Lamanites are about to kick the Nephite’s butts, all the way to the seashore. They are losing, and losing badly. Driven from 3 cities, they are literally with their back to the sea, with no place to go.

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Mormon explains in Chapter 2:

“…and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land.”

The King of the Lamanites comes against them to do battle with 44,000 men. Moroni has 42,000 men. But he is able to pull off a win despite being out numbered. They were spared, for a short time. So the Nephites begin to repent! Mormon sees their sorrow and he is so encouraged because he knows the Lord will help them in battle, under any condition, if they are righteous. He is hoping his little army is having a change of heart! I’m not talking little sins here. They had been very wicked as a people:

“…for behold no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land.”

But it is not to be. The Nephites are sorry alright, but they are only sorry that they are dying! They are not truly repentant! (Does this sound like anything you are going through yet?)

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This is Mormon’s account in Chapter 2:

“12 And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.

13 But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.

15 And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.”

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What is the “sorrowing of the damned?” I became very curious to understand this phrase. So I turned to the words of the prophets. It appears 6 times in General Conference talks. Most of these talks deal with  the subject of Repentance and most of them are talks by Elder Maxwell. God Bless Elder Maxwell! He was a modern-day Mormon, and our addicted loved ones would do well to follow his counsel!

Sorrowing of the Damned Is…

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A Proud Heart – “In this rigorous process, so much clearly depends upon meekness.  Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing.  Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ’s image in their countenances! (Alma 5:14) Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. Unsurprisingly, seekers after cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation. Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry.” Repentance, Neal A. Maxwell, October 1991

False remorse and taking happiness in sin – On a larger scale, for instance, the prophet Mormon at first thought his people were sorrowing unto repentance (see Morm. 2:12–13) Yet he soon discerned that theirs was not actually the sorrowing unto repentance but the “sorrowing of the damned,” stranding them in a “no-man’s-land.” Compare that episode to the prodigal son’s solitary working through of his own repentance; since his sorrow was real, he truly “came to himself” Luke 15:17 Sometimes we learn “by sad experience,” but sometimes not! D&C 121:39 Neal A. Maxwell, April Conference 2000

“Recognition is a sacred moment, often accompanied by the hot blush of shame.”

After recognition, real remorse floods the soul. This is a “godly sorrow,” not merely the “sorrow of the world” nor the “sorrowing of the damned,” when we can no longer “take happiness in sin.” 2 Cor. 7:10 Morm. 2:13  False remorse instead is like “fondling our failings.” In ritual regret, we mourn our mistakes but without mending them.” Repentance, Neal A. Maxwell, October Conference, 1991

Repenting because we got caught -Mormon teaches us that there will always be suffering and sorrow in sin, but to repent only because we feel bad or because we have suffered or because we are sorrowful does not show that we understand the goodness of God. (Robert D. Hales, April Conference 1992)

Losing the desire for righteousness  – “The absence of any keen desire—merely being lukewarm—causes a terrible flattening (see Rev. 3:15 William R. May explained such sloth: “The soul in this state is beyond mere sadness and melancholy. It has removed itself from the rise and fall of feelings; the very root of its feelings in desire is dead. … To be a man is to desire. The good man desires God and other things in God. The sinful man desires things in the place of God, but he is still recognizably human, inasmuch as he has known desire. The slothful man, however, is a dead man, an arid waste. … His desire itself has dried up” (“A Catalogue of Sins,” as quoted in Christian Century, 24 Apr. 1996, 457). Neal A. Maxwell, According to the Desires of Our Hearts, October Conference, 1996

Desensitization towards sin – “…fearful of the dawn, evil cannot stand the steady scrutiny of bright truth, nor can it endure the quiet reflections of soul-searching!

Thus the drumbeat of desensitization deadens the taste buds of the soul by responding illegitimately to the legitimate need for belonging and for love, as predators and victims sadly become “past feeling” (1 Ne. 17:45Eph. 4:19Moro. 9:20).”  Neal A. Maxwell, The Seventh Commandment: A Shield, October Conference, 2001

Conflicted feelings about sin – In its extremity, murmuring reflects not only the feelings of the discontented, but also the feelings of the very conflicted:

“Their sorrowing was … the sorrowing of the damned, because [they could not] take happiness in sin.

“And [yet] they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.” (Morm. 2:13–14.) Neal A. Maxwell, Murmur Not, October 1989

Men who are caught in these examples must beware! They are in danger of losing their souls. Bishops and Stake Presidents who counsel with them must be very discerning or they may, unwittingly, let these men fall short of godly sorry and true repentance. Addicts are used to lying. The conditions of their hearts cannot be seen simply though the addict’s words. Their hearts must be discerned by the Holy Ghost.

Wives need to be very discerning when it comes to their addict husbands, because they lie…a lot!  We trusted them throughout our marriage.  We want to trust them now!  But being too trusting can be very painful, especially on the wife of an addict stuck in denial. The lying they do is so difficult to deal with.  They don’t care if it hurts you. They are protecting themselves FIRST! The sad reality is the wife is on her own. This is why wives need counseling and support.  They cannot wade through this new swamp of deception alone.  They need a guide. For most of them, this will be their first encounter with chronic liars.

A Note to Bishops & Stake Presidents:

Bishops and Stake Presidents MUST be educated on the issues of addiction and pornography. They cannot sufficiently councel an addict without a basic understanding of pornography & sex addiction, especially when the tactics of denial are being used by the addict. Denial causes excessive lying so it is particularly important that priesthood leaders are in tune to the Spirit. More often than not, the addict needs to be referred to qualified, professional help. Please don’t think you can just handle this on your own. Trust me, you can’t. And chances are good that you will do more harm to the addict and his family if you try to handle this by yourself.

If you cannot readily recognize the difference between godly sorrow and the “sorrowing of the damned” you will need  some basic education. You can find resources to help you here and here. I have found that most men, as leaders in the church, are clueless when it comes to dealing with this issue. There needs to be better training, especially in meeting the needs of the spouse. Spouses are often overlooked in issues of addiction. And they shouldn’t be. The Church should be doing a better job in educating church leaders in the strategies on how to fight this new drug and help addicts find their way to godly sorrow and away from the sorrowing of the damned. Otherwise, they will end up like my ex-husband; faking his way through repentance. He was in leadership positions in the church his entire adult life. He knows what to say to sound convincing. He knows the buzz words. But if you listen with the Spirit, you will know his heart isn’t in it. Unfortunately, his lack of sorrow is also damning to his family because he can’t even see the damage he has done and no one is holding him accountable.

The Cupcake Warrior

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Stay Sweet, Be Strong!