For the sake of anonymity, let’s call him John and me Jane.
I’ve got divorce papers sitting on the desk in front of me next to a bottle of klonopin. You can’t make that stuff up. Believe me, I wish I could. But I don’t want to go giving the ending away. It’s catharsis I’m going for here, and awareness. So let’s start at the very beginning.
My heart is so riddled with holes caused by porn addicts that it’s beginning to look like Swiss cheese. There was my uncle, whose lifelong porn addiction resulted in a string of affairs and one of those slow-motion car wrecks of a divorce that indelibly shook my whole family. I was 12 then. Then my sister. She was married for 10 years before she got tired of the pathological lying, objectification and emotional abuse of living with a porn addict. By that time I was 19. Then in college, the man who was for several years “the man of my life” was a heavy-using porn addict.
I thought when I walked away from that incredibly formative relationship at 21, that I had decided once and for all that no love could be worth living with such an emotionally destructive addiction. I had chosen that I deserved better. That I wouldn’t be the doormat kind of woman to put up with that treatment.
Then I met John. John’s one of those guys with bright, shiny eyes and a face that you just trust instinctively. He’s got the personality of a puppy dog. He wants to be everybody’s friend. So when we started dating, and we got to the point at which I had learned to ask every guy I dated about his porn usage, I expected him to say that it had never been a problem for him.
John admitted that he’d struggled with it in his teens. He even used the word addiction. But he assured me that it was all in his past, and that it hadn’t been a problem for a long time. When I pressed him, he admitted it had only been a couple months since his last relapse.
I was stunned. He wasn’t the type. And trust me, I can usually spot a porn addict in a crowd. The way they look at and speak to women, something in their eyes. It’s not usually hard to see. But John didn’t have any of that. So I told myself, it must not really be a part of him, or he would be like the other addicts I’d known. When he told me how committed he was to never look at it again, how disgusted and ashamed he was of his past, and when he promised me that he was done, I couldn’t help but believe him.
He would look into my soul with these enormous green eyes. They looked like an owl’s eyes. And when he looked at me like that, I knew I could trust him. I couldn’t believe that such a sweet, caring, loving man could really be addicted to the violent, degrading filth that is pornography.
I believe in God and I believe that He tried to warn me. He knew the choice was mine, but He warned me of the pain that was in my future. The greatest pain of my life. When we got engaged and John relapsed just a few weeks before the wedding, I felt like it was God warning me. But at that point I was too crazy in love, too far committed, the dress, the venue, the invitations. And I still believed John when he promised me with tears in his eyes that time would be the last.
“I’m done,” he told me. “I swear I’m done.”
On my wedding day, as I walked toward the alter, I heard a voice in my mind say,
I was horrified at the thought and I shook it off, telling myself it was just my overly-cautious-bordering-on-pessimistic attitude, or maybe it was Satan trying to ruin what was in every other way the happiest day of my life. But unfortunately, it has proven to be quite prophetic.
The tragedy in this story isn’t really all the pain and anxiety and darkness that has come from John’s addiction. The tragedy comes from what might have been. Our love was (is?) so beautiful. So beautiful that typing those words makes me break down in tears. Because how do you describe all the beauty and light that exist between two people in love? The sweetest treasures of my life are the moments of true love that we shared together. In every other way I believe that John and I were absolutely made for each other.
That’s where the tragedy is. It’s in the death of that beauty. The destruction of purity and innocent hopes and trust. Two people committed to one another in bonds of love, trust and mutual respect is a sacred thing. That is the loss that I mourn now.