I was sitting at my kitchen table, talking on the phone with a new friend. She had just discovered her husband’s pornography addiction a few days earlier. She said, “I feel so weak. I never thought I’d still be here after something like this.”
I was sitting in a church classroom with other betrayed women whose husband’s had pornography addictions. They nodded, asking the same things, “Am I weak for staying?”
I was sitting on my bed blogging that same thought months ago. Except I typed: “What the hell am I still doing here?! Am I just too weak, too scared, too confused, to leave?”
I’ll tell you why I’m still here. Because I feel it is right. And no, I am not weak.
I struggled immensely with this thought of “weakness” in the beginning. Mainly, because I was worrying about what others thought I should do. Would I look weak for staying? Would I look unforgiving for leaving? I so desperately wanted to do what looked right that I neglected my own power to choose what was right for me. I still had not come to that full realization that I had an inner conscience, common sense, intuition, the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I did, and always had, followed the Spirit. So, why would I think that Heavenly Father would desert me now? I can know for myself what to do, is the enlightenment that finally dawned on me. And I can have confidence in my choice.
I felt a little like Joseph Smith. I was going to man looking for answers. Which church should I join?! What is the right path?! he practically begged to be told the answer. But nothing sat well with him. It was not until he went to the Father and fully submitted to His will that he was told what to do.
At first, I too listened to the people around me. And almost all said, LEAVE. I was going to leave to shield myself from further heartbreak. I was going to leave to “get back” at my husband. I was going to leave because, well, didn’t people do that after infidelity? And isn’t that what everyone wanted me to do? I tried to make that decision. I decided to leave. And I felt immediately ill. It was not right.
So I “stayed.” But “staying” seems to be a dirty word after infidelity. Staying does not mean I accept what’s happened and then I just forget and move on. Staying does not mean my husband gets away scott-free. Staying doesn’t mean I am too weak to leave. Staying does mean I am simply seeing what tomorrow holds.
Can staying be weakness? Yes. I’ll tell you what weakness is to ME: turning a blind eye to the addiction and sweeping it under the rug, saying, “it’s ok” to the addict’s behavior, not valuing my own worth, not expecting full respect, not setting and keeping boundaries, not looking out for my own safety and well-being, and not accepting that I have choices. Every day I make a choice.
I choose to face the future with faith and trust in my Heavenly Father. I am demanding respect from my husband. I am not sweeping the addiction under the rug. I am proclaiming and acknowledging my worth. I am setting boundaries. I am giving a second chance. I am learning to forgive. I am not forbidding joy in small victories. I am following that prompting that says, stay.
So far, my husband is actively and sincerely seeking recovery. He is desperately trying to prove his remorse and repent. And so I stay.
And if I must, it will take strength and courage to leave. If my husband decides he no longer wants recovery, if his efforts are no longer sincere, if I or my children are put in danger, then I will have more decisions to make with the direction of Heavenly Father. Today, I stay. Tomorrow, I may leave.
Sexual Addiction is not cut and dry. I used to think it was. I used to be one of those women who scoffed at infidelity and said, “I would be gone if my husband ever did that to me.” Well, it did happen to me. Pornography, Addiction, Infidelity, Trauma all happened to me. And I am still here. I stay today because I feel, that for now, it is right. Should everything fall apart tomorrow, today it is right.
The Mormon pioneers when asked to once again build a temple (the Salt Lake Temple) did not think they should have to, nor that it would even work out. After all, their two previous temples had to be left to be desecrated. Why build again if it didn’t work out the last time? Why put in all this work if they happened to be forced to leave again? It seemed all so hopeless and in vain. Why risk it?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, gives us Brigham Young’s response to these weary and skeptical pioneers:
“Some will inquire, do you suppose we will finish the temple Brother Brigham? Well, I’ve had such questions put to me already. My answer is, I don’t know. And furthermore, I don’t care. I have never cared but for one thing: And that is simply to know that I am now, this day, right before my Father in Heaven. If I am this moment, this day, doing the things God requires of my hands and precisely where my Father in Heaven wants me to be, I care no more about tomorrow then though it would never come. I do not know where I shall be tomorrow. And I do not know whether this temple should be completed. But this I do know, there should be a temple built here. And I know it is the duty of this people to commence to build it.”
Holland continues in his own words:
“Do what you can do, when you have to do it, in the day that you have been given. And let the future take care of itself.”
The future comes one day at a time. Today is all we have. Today I stay. And I feel right before The Lord. It is courage. Tomorrow, I may have to leave that temple I’ve been building, and that would be courageous too. Living one day at a time is amazing faithfulness.
Heavenly Father’s opinion is the only one that matters. Stay. Leave. The choice is mine. God will confirm what is right. With Him, I am strong. With Him, my choices are strong.
“I do not know where I shall be tomorrow. And I do not know whether this temple should be completed. But this I do know, there should be a temple built here.”
Today, I build.
(the amazing address I referenced above can be accessed here. audio only.)