Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Searing Light that Keeps Us in the Cave of Addiction

As men who struggle with pornography, we are blinded by a glaring feeling: that it would be all wrong to deal with this problem openly with a spouse. It's such a relief when we decide to hunker back into secrecy mode.

However... that brilliant light coming from the mouth of the cave won't incinerate, it will heal! Here are three reasons why:

1. Her measuring stick is horizontal, not verticle. I want to measure up in her eyes. However, when she measures, it's to see if we're close. It's her deepest instinct. More than whether I'm doing well or poorly in life, she's concerned with whether we're in it together.

She wants to know what's going on inside for me. She wants to be one, collaborating as partners. She wants me to let her in. Shame and pride can rule my inner world, but that doesn't mean it's the lens she sees me through.

Over and over again in my office I hear women tell their men: "Even more than your struggle with porn, I have a problem with your secrecy. You kept me out of an important part of your life. I can take working together on anything; it's feeling apart from you that kills me."

2. An unseen need for support can't be met. I'm going to reach for something when I'm in need--my wife or my addiction. If I hold back from revealing my struggle, how is she going to know that I'm in need?

Touch and talk are healing salves that can be applied once the everyday wounds are revealed. I know, I know, they seem like weak medicine compared to solo sex, but they truly start the healing process instead of just temporarily numbing the pain.

3. Our vitality depends on being real. When I let down my guard, I'm vulnerable. Vulnerability is a two-edged sword. I may feel anxiety when I go to a sexaholics annonymous meeting and say, "I'm a sex addict," but I also experience the exhilleration that comes from everyone there seeing me exactly as I am... and still embracing me!

Vulneability--being real despite the risk--is not just a way out of addiction, it's a key ingredient for a fulfilling life.

A double life ends up being half a life--or less. Between the highs of the acting out, we feel phony, disconnected, insincere, divided. 

So when you feel the light on your face and you're about to lose your nerve, keep walking! You're headed in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is EXACTLY as I would say it!:

    "Even more than your struggle with porn, I have a problem with your secrecy. You kept me out of an important part of your life. I can take working together on anything; it's feeling apart from you that kills me."

    How do you get to this point to be able to say this to him at a time when he is receptive?
    Right now we are at the beginning of him realizing that I'm here to help him. When I had discovered the porn about 9 years ago and we we're dating now married 6 yrs, I felt all those feelings described in your article "She's Been Hurt..." Because I didn't know what to do, I handled it soooo wrong. Poured shame after shame on him, I didn't understand, I was very immature esp. on this topic and why my "perfect" guy would do this. I know I damaged a lot of trust and trashed all opportunities at the time to use this for healing. Again, I was very naive and immature.

    At this point, I hope I'm beginning to build trust with him. I told him I don't blame him for not opening up to me on this topic. It was handled horribly by me in the past. I understand why he'd be afraid and completely leave me out. Now, I desperately want to be to the point where we can talk openly. Any suggestions?

    I also do not really know his position entirely on pornography. I wish he'd tell me. Honestly, I don't even know if he feels like it's a problem. Maybe he feels like he's got it under control or that pornography really isn't that big of a deal. Maybe he thinks I overreacted (which I know I did then) to natural urges that were placed inside men and he manages by escaping through pornography sometimes. Maybe he feels it's casual and occasional that it isn't an addiction or a problem. Something he feels he can keep in a box separate from our life together... but I fear the future. How will it manifest itself later? I'm scared it will be unfavorable.
    It's hard for me to believe that this is a struggle that I just need to see is between him and God only and doesn't involve me.
    Any thoughts or suggestions to my thoughts and questions?