I remember clearly the day I discovered his secret.
The keys my husband had always so closely guarded were on the kitchen counter, and he was asleep upstairs. I contemplated on whether or not I should take them. Eventually I did.
I slowly walked into our guest room and turned the knob on the closet door. There it was … his huge gun safe. To my knowledge he didn’t own any guns besides the one he needed for his job as a police officer.
I put the key in the lock, not sure what I was expecting to find. I turned it slowly, wondering the whole time if I really wanted to know what he was so protective of in that safe. The lock clicked open and I slowly opened the door to the five-foot-tall dark gray gun safe. I looked inside. After several moments of trying to comprehend what I was looking at, I slumped to the floor and could not pull my eyes away from the collection that filled the huge safe.
A massive collection of porn videos. There must have been 50 or more of them at my guess, hidden in a safe that was made to conceal dangerous things that could potentially harm people. It was interesting that that is exactly what it was concealing, just not the guns I expected to find.
I stayed slumped on the floor sobbing for some time, feeling betrayed, confused, feeling ugly, angry and unattractive. A million emotions rushed in and overwhelmed me. I left the door to the safe open, fully aware that he would find it that way sooner or later. When he discovered it he came to me. He said “So you discovered my secret.” Yes, yes I did.
Unfortunately, we were not good at communicating so we didn’t talk much about it … hardly at all, really. I don’t recommend that approach. He was not willing to go to counseling, so things did not end well for our marriage. It wasn’t just the porn and the lack of his willingness to work through it together; there were other things that I won’t go into here.
I did not tell anyone, not even my closest friends or family, for years about this experience. Even after finding a storage tub full of pornographic magazines in the garage.
Even after our divorce. I lived those years in silent shame with feelings that I must not have been enough for him. I wasn’t attractive enough. I wasn’t skinny enough. I wasn’t sexy enough. I wasn’t kinky enough. It was a lonely place—a lonely place that I left after many years with the guidance and grace of God.
I am not a doctor, a psychiatrist or even a licensed counselor trained to deal with this subject. I AM, however, someone who has been affected by it in a big way. When something like that happens to me, I dig in and do research. I want to know why and how. God led the way to information that helped heal me.
Here are some of the things God revealed to me through my research and His still, calm voice speaking to me:
- In most cases pornography isn’t about relationship. Many people are actually drawn to it because of the LACK of intimate relationship required.
- My ex-husband’s addiction to pornography had nothing to do with me—if I was or wasn’t skinny enough, was or wasn’t kinky enough, etc. It was nothing personal towards me.
- Pornography can actually distance the viewer even further from those they claim to love and want love from.
I am not sharing all of this to bash my ex-husband. Why not? Because God tells us “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). The only perfect person I know is my savior, Jesus Christ. I prayed for my ex-husband. I will be honest: It took me awhile to get there, but I eventually did. His addiction doesn’t make him a terrible person. His addiction did not mean he didn’t deserve to have me pray for him to be delivered from it. He is the father of my daughter; I should be praying for him.
The thing that surprised me the most by praying for him, was not what it did for him, but what it did for me. By praying for him and his addiction, I began to see and realize I was being healed from all the ways his addiction made me feel. It freed me of all of it. I had been free of it for many years until I began to write this article. I cried a bit while writing it. As I was wondering what was happening to me to make me cry, I realized that I was crying tears of joy because I am free from all of those feelings. God is good. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
My hope is that if you have experienced something similar to my story, you will be encouraged to seek help if you need it to get through it.
Know that you are not alone.
Know that you are not the reason for your loved one’s addiction.
Pray for God to show you how to pray for that person. Journal your feelings if that helps you.
I will leave you with saying one strong thought: There is hope. I am grateful to God the Almighty Healer. He is the healer of emotional hurts, of broken hearts and crushed dreams.
He can make you whole again.