To My Friends and Family, What I Wish You Knew…

This blog post was submitted from a friend working SAL recovery. Thanks to her for putting her heart into this post and being a voice for so many women. Please offer your comments and gratitude for her share as well.

Dear friends, family, parents, church leaders, children, siblings, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances and anyone else in my small circle: What I wish you knew…

I desperately need you to see me because I am silently drowning. I repeatedly tell you that “I am fine” whenever you ask, but there is so much more going on than meets the eye, so much I want to tell you. You may have known me for a long time: you may think you know all there is to know about me. That simply isn’t true. There is a part of me of which you have never caught a glimpse. There are things I secretly wish you could read in my eyes without me having to say anything. I don’t want you to know my story, but I longingly wish you could see the real me, including the invisible, shattered pieces of my soul. You will most likely never hear my story, but perhaps I still need to tell it.

I wish you knew that I am much more fragile than you realize, and I am also so much stronger than you might have guessed. If you knew my story, you might see me as a victim, but I feel as though I am a survivor. I am hurting, but I am getting stronger every day. I am one of the quiet ones who easily fades into the background. However, I wish you knew that I am fighting a hidden battle every moment of every day.

I carry a secret, but it isn’t entirely my secret. My husband of 31 years has been living two separate lives, one of which you would never suspect. You see, I am married to a recovering sex addict. This doesn’t mean that he is a sexual predator, but it does mean that he has been viewing pornography and acting out sexually since childhood. This addiction took on a life of its own and led him down a difficult path which ultimately led to marital infidelity. No, he never told me any of this before we were married. No, I had no suspicions, no inkling of any kind. I was absolutely blind-sided. Yes, he put me at risk for sexually transmitted disease. Yes, he finally came clean two years ago and revealed his hidden life to me. No, we didn’t tell you. Right or wrong, we thought it was best to keep our journey private. Yes, this makes me feel very lonely when I am with you. You see the same “me” you have always known, but that woman is gone. The person you see smiling back at you is the shell of someone pretending to be who you expect me to be.

I wish you knew that my journey isn’t as simple as deciding whether to stay in the marriage or get divorced. I wish you knew that it is not about choosing to extend forgiveness. Well, it is that, but it is so much more than that. I wish you knew that I was devastated, completely shattered. I have questioned everything I ever believed- about myself, about my husband, about my religion and about God Himself in the last two years. This has all taken place while I’ve continued to live my life in a world that never knew. The robotic pretending, the “going through the motions” has been most difficult.

I wish that you knew how alone and isolated I feel underneath the facade you see. I wish you knew that I am terrified of being alone while at the same time I am pushing myself further and further within my personal cocoon of safety. I do not want your pity. I cannot fathom coping with your reaction because I am still figuring out my own. I am not trying to change the view of the man you know. I don’t want you to see him differently. I am not looking for drama. I simply wish I could share this part of my life with you. I don’t know how to be authentic when there is so much unsaid. I don’t want you to “take my side”. I don’t want to throw around blame. I do not want to privately or publicly humiliate my husband. I do wish you understood that the lens which I see life through has changed. I wish you could see a slice of this world that I now live in.

I wish you knew of the silent tears I shed at night when I am alone. I wish you knew how often I am consumed with gripping fear, with anger, with despair, but I simply cannot tell you. So, if you ever wondered why I wasn’t who you needed me to be on a given day, it was because I was simply trying to survive the tsunami of emotions that come my way. I wish you knew the strength it took me to walk into my first support group. I wish you knew the distaste I felt when I first heard the term “sex-addict” and tried to make sense of what that meant. I wish you knew that the best friends I have ever met were women I met at the same support group that I resisted attending with such conviction. I wish you knew that those meetings are the only place where I feel whole, where I can at last be “me”, where I can be heard and embraced. I wish you knew how many times I wanted desperately to attend a meeting, but was unable to because you had other expectations of me. Explaining that I need to go attend a Sexaholics Anonymous spouse support group meeting never invites itself into normal conversation.

I wish you knew how many women from all walks of life are living this silent nightmare as well, women you know and respect and think have the perfect life. I wish you knew how desperately we want to talk about it, how ashamed we feel when we wonder what you would think of our family if you knew our secret. I wish it was safe to talk about sexual addiction and betrayal trauma. I wish you knew that there is not an expiration date on the pain that spouses feel. I have no desire to wallow or play the victim, but I wish you knew that even after two years, sometimes I still feel paralyzed. Unexpectedly, out of nowhere, I find myself again blindsided, enraged, broken, frozen in fear. I have irrational responses to everyday occurrences that don’t make much sense but are nonetheless real. I wish you knew about relapses, triggers and “surrendering” so we could talk about the thoughts that are constantly running through my mind.

I wish you knew that I feel incredible internal and external pressure to “get over it” and to forgive. I wish you knew how hard it is to get out of bed some mornings. I wish you knew how hurtful, how triggering some of the things you unknowingly say to me can be. I wish you knew that I am just doing the best I can. I wish you knew the tremendous guilt and shame I feel during our seemingly ordinary conversations because I know I am not being honest with you. I wish you knew that I wanted to say something so many times but I have kept it to myself.

I wish you knew that I stood next to my husband during church disciplinary hearings where the verdict was “excommunication” from the church I love so dearly. I wish you knew that while I was promised I would be married to my spouse forever, I no longer know if we will still be married a year from now. I wish I could share the pain. I wish I could share the joy. I wish you could have been there on the day he was re-baptized. I wish I could tell you how we made it a whole 28 days after that baptism before another extra-marital sexual encounter took place. I wish I could explain how the longer we go on in recovery, I feel equally hopeful and terrified.

I wish you knew that this problem most likely exists (to some degree or another) in your family as well. I want to tell you that my eyes have been opened to a world that I didn’t know existed. I wish that I could live in the world you see, but my world is much different than yours. I wish you knew that while this is the toughest life experience I could have ever imagined, it is also the catalyst I needed to finally “find” myself, to discover the beautiful, amazing, hidden parts of myself that I hadn’t noticed before. I wish you knew how many times I repeat the words of the serenity prayer in my mind every day and how often I do find serenity.

I wish you understood that while I have walked through this painful refining fire, I have experienced deeper peace than I thought was possible. I wish you knew that all of this that I desperately cling to (the 12 steps, support groups, tears, prayers, therapists, self-help books) have changed my life, given me hope, empowered me, and taught me how to walk with God. The Savior I always believed in has extended me mercy. God’s grace saved me and became very real to me. I talk to Him often, and even though you don’t see me, I know that He does. I wish you knew that in a complex way that I can never explain, discovering that I was married to a sex-addict not only temporarily broke my heart but ultimately healed my whole mind, body and soul.

17 thoughts on “To My Friends and Family, What I Wish You Knew…”

  1. This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing your soul. So many of these experiences and feelings are similar to the journey I have been on as well. I appreciate you putting it into words.

  2. This is everything! All of the words are treasures that I so relate to and have felt often. Thank you for sharing your soul.

  3. Thank you so much for such a powerful way of explaining your story. I can relate and validate a lot of what was said. I am so grateful for the tools and resources I am aware of since being an SAL member for over 5 years. My life has changed because of my my experiences and I am so glad God has my back. You are beautiful, thank you for your vulnerability.

  4. This touched my very core. You verbalized feelings and thoughts that I think we all feel to one degree or another.
    While this past year has been the most difficult of my life, I am so grateful to know I share in the support of others who are walking the same path. Thank you for this beautifully written blog.

  5. It’s so very true that there is no expiration date for the pain the spouse feels. Thank you for your rawness and vulnerability.

  6. Thank you! We are many years into our journey and still had a conversation last night where my husband said,” maybe we are both so broken we can never heal”. All I could do was sit on my bed and sob. Your gift with words is beautiful, vulnerable and spot on. Your closing sentence gave me much needed hope just for today. I can “surrender” my heartache and know I am heard because you shared! Thank you and bless you!

  7. Oh my goodness! How brave you are to share this. It is perfect💙 Although those previous responses are heartfelt and true,i have trouble with the last line. Perhaps because i am early into recovery. I have been with my husband 50 years and one year ago discovered some truths. Like others i. suspected some things…while positively knowing others. However, i was still dropped into a tumultuous sea.. This hurt i cannot seem to rise above. Honestly, I’m like a fish in a dirty bowl gulping air. After rereading your post my future may end ok. Hopefully on this side of the veil. Now that fear has been acknowledged, i realize i am not a crazy “B”. I can trust my gut and one day i will find my lost soul. I hate it that i was always a good girl. Not that i wish i was bad. My parents were right. I was determined to make them wrong and my children and I suffered because of this.So 50 years of accomodating his behaviors is really on me. I should have left him years ago so i had a better chance for happiness.But here i am. God bless you for your sharing and for listening to me💔

  8. This pretty much sums up everthing I’ve felt, experienced and wanted to say to my friends and family after discovery and disclosure.
    Thank you for sharing. Its the hardest and most painful thing I’ve had to go through.

  9. Far too many similar experiences. And yet, as you write, this is what bonds us. How I wish his family could understand that I am not at fault for his choices. How I wish my family could understand why I am still with him. Most of all, I wish that everyone in my circle of friends could understand the depth of brokenness that is a part of a life when the man you love simply cannot love you in the way you hoped or desired. God is my only hope and I so often lose that connection because of all the trauma. There is no easy path, but sharing experiences and recovery with other women has given my life some meaning and purpose. It makes me get up and, somehow, function. Thank you for baring your soul and sharing not just your experience, but mine as well.

  10. It’s been 4 years since my D-day. Last week, my friend announced she was moving because her marriage was struggling (her husband was diagnosed with love addiction). She named her crisis honestly and I helped her pack so she could enact her boundary. Seeing her courage, for the first time I named out loud to another person that my husband watches pornography. What sweet relief, and what empowerment. And thus, I found this organization. Perhaps it’s important to talk out loud to those who we trust. For years now, it would have benefitted both my friend and I. I am indebted to her that she did say what she wished her circle of support knew.

  11. wow! while not the same situation (sexual addiction), i totally share and feel your feelings. Thank you for showing me it’s ok to feel how i feel

  12. Hi everyone I just would like to say that If I could take all of your problems and pains from you I would ,I can’t even think what some of you been threw,If you ever want someone to talk to I would be more that happy to.I hope that you all find peace,I will try my best to put smile on you face I can’t promise this but I dont mine trying ,Have a wonderful day .🙋‍♂️

  13. Thank you for beautifully putting into words what many of us are not able to express. I wish every church leader, men and women, would read and see their flock through your words and our eyes. God bless you in your day to days! We are in a club that we never envisioned we would be in. But I am grateful and honored to be associated with women like you. ❤️

    1. S L, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. You are right: we didn’t choose to be in this “club” of sorts. So grateful that beauty comes from ashes. Wishing you well in your continued healing.

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