I've learned that there are so many of us struggling silently together. We feel so alone, but there are more of us going through this than we realize.
Some are newlyweds. Some have been married for 20 years. Some have kids. Some don't. Some knew about their husbands' addictions before they were married. Some found out when the problem started a few years into marriage. Some found out after years and years of secrecy. Some husbands only look at pornography periodically. Some husbands are so deep into their addiction that they have have cheated on their wives. Some husbands are loving and kind and trying hard to stay sober. Some are in denial. Some are emotionally abusive and blame their wives for their problems. Some women have been left by their husbands. Some were the ones who did the leaving. Some are still walking alongside their husbands in the battle to beat this problem.
Our situations are all different. There is no one right or wrong way to get through this. We are different, yet we are the same in so many ways...
- It hurts. IT HURTS. I didn't know before this that you can actually feel emotional pain. It hurts in my chest. It's an emotional and physical pain you can't describe. But we don't need to be able to describe it. Our sisters in this struggle understand. Oh how it hurts.
- We are concerned about the future. We wonder if it will every really go away. Will we be able to fully trust again? Is this my life? What if things get worse? When do you fight with all your might and at what point do you call it quits? Just the thought of those questions makes our hearts heavy.
- We want it all to go away. Forever. We wish this didn't have to be part of our lives.
- We feel so alone. For most of us, our closest friends and family have no idea. We tell people we're doing great even when our hearts feel like lead. We reach out to our religious leaders and to our therapy groups and to our online friends. But we long to be honest with our friends and family and say, "No. No, I'm not okay. I'm struggling. I need you."
- We are strong. Some of us may think we aren't cut out for this kind of battle, but look at us.We're fighting it. We can do it, because we are doing it. We are strong.
I want so badly to send an email out to all of my friends--every last one of them--and share my story. There is no way I'm the only one of my friends struggling with this. If only we could find out who is struggling without having to tell everyone. If only we could all secretly throw our names into a hat and magically know which friends are going through the same thing.
We're not silent to protect ourselves. We are silent because we love and respect our husbands. This is their problem. We were caught in the storm by association. We keep the secret out of love. Their struggles and dealings with God do not need to be out on the table for everyone to gawk at. So we do our best to support their efforts and find our own support system (whether that be a few close family members and friends, a therapy group, or solely anonymous support groups online). But we don't publically divulge their sins. It's not an easy thing to go through.
But we're not alone.