It has taken me a long time to own this story. Part of my problem is that I don’t quite know how to separate my story from my ex-husband’s story. It is not my job to tell his story, only mine.
I was married for almost 20 years, during which time my ex struggled with a worsening pornography addiction. I experienced many facets of emotional abuse and gaslighting. I was led to believe that his addiction was my fault because I wasn’t skinny enough, or I didn’t keep the house clean enough, and my behavior was what kept him in the addiction. (In case you don’t know, another person’s addiction is NEVER your fault!)
I was introduced to the WORTH program by a good friend who has faced the same trial. In my therapist-led support group, I learned many helpful tools. I learned about the importance of setting boundaries: rules about how other people can treat me. I learned about the importance of self-care: caring for my spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional health. I learned how to let go of my anger. But mostly, I realized that I can live the life I want to live no matter how he lived his life.
I began to stand up for myself. It felt so good! I spent a lot of time envisioning how I wanted my life to be. It began to feel like I was finally starting to live the life I wanted to live. I slowly began building habits and spending my time doing things that made me happy. I stopped waiting for him to come along. The day finally came when I received spiritual confirmation that it was time to end our marriage. I remember the day with distinct clarity. It was a tough day.
Since then, I have taken even more steps to live my ideal life. Now I am working almost full-time in a middle school, going to school part-time, leading support groups, and coaching. (Along with being a Mom, homeowner, and so many other things.) It is not easy. Life is still hard, but it is a different kind of hard. It’s a welcome kind of hard. I had learned as much as I could about being married to an addict. It was time to learn new things. It was time to learn how to financially support myself. It was time to learn how to rely on God. And I have. And it feels incredible!