The Cleanliness of Dirty Little Secrets
I (Nathaniel) am reflecting today in a similar way to what Christina did last week. I am now 11 years and 12 days into this marriage and loving it. We are not perfect, so do not let me give that illusion, but our good and great days outnumber the bad by a long shot.
I grew up in a church-attending-Bible-believing-family. I went to church and learned all the lessons and was held accountable for my actions by my loving parents. Somewhere in there I grew up on my own on one hand and found it was easier when I didn’t get caught. Did I do a ton of bad things, not really. The truth is though I knew and learned right from wrong and when no one was looking I felt content to do wrong. As long as I wouldn’t get caught I wouldn’t hurt anyone else right? I found the answer to this was wrong. I would hurt others around me, through my bad attitude and bad reactions when I felt guilty over things I’d done or my lack of sleep from staying up too late watching dirty movies. The guilt would often be a projection that I put on others because I was being judgmental of myself on the inside. I presumed those around me were judging me negatively too. Especially at church, because everyone at church is super judgmental right? Probably some, but not all. However, this was my issue because I was tired or guilty over something inside I’d presume everyone else would judge me also.
Three years and one month ago I finally stopped letting my secret control me. We went to church and they had, as my wife mentioned in last blog, a Celebrate Recovery weekend complete with mini testimonies that were heart wrenching and touching at times. I used to let this go in one ear and out the other because my problems and issues were not as bad as theirs, or so I told myself. My family wasn’t about to fall apart, my wife wasn’t threatening to leave me, I didn’t live through an I Can’t Believe I Survived This moment to share. This meant I couldn’t really relate to these touching stories. This time, 2012 was different.
A man, who would eventually become a close friend of mine, spoke on lust and how it controls the mind to be leering around and thinking of negative images of others so often during a day. I suddenly related.
I know what it’s like to be a guy that tries to sneak an extra peak at that woman walking by. I know what it’s like to be a guy that feeds so many images into my head each week that there was no way I could avoid thinking of it. I know what it’s like to be a guy that perhaps expects my wife to meet my imagination of what I want sex to be, while never once saying any of it out loud just presuming she knows from the movies I watch and keep in my head for replays. I mean don’t all women just know to act like that in the bedroom?
I feel pride kept me from being honest in all these avenues once I look back.
When we got home that afternoon I was firm in my mind. I was going to tell Christina. In the kitchen preparing lunch Sunday afternoon summer 2012 I let her know I needed to talk about something. “I have a problem with porn.” She looked at me and said, “okay, what are we going to do about it?” I was stunned. Let’s not lie, I expected what every other guy has always told me he got. I expected a tirade, judgement, condemnation, anger, resentment, bitterness, threats of cleaning myself up or getting out of the house and I got none of it. I got love and commitment. I wasn’t alone. I didn’t have to do it alone. She said, “we”. What are we going to do about it? She didn’t leave me alone in my misery to deal with my problem. She saw it as something we’d deal with as a team, as one. Whatever part she’d play she was willing to try and figure it out. At that point she didn’t know what it would entail but she was signed on. For better or worse and if this is one of the worse then she was willing to face it with me. Still stunned I hesitantly told her I wanted to go to Celebrate Recovery the next night (Monday) and she not only agreed but went with me holding my hand on the way in and dropping our kids in the child care room. She showed me God’s love when I needed it. He was always there for me and now also so was my wife. I cannot get the point across enough that I was not alone and that is what made the beginning of the journey to get clean and stay clean so much easier. Not being alone. Having a partner who would work with me and not leave me alone to deal with my problems while she does her own thing was important. She was with me and to this day still is and I am thankful. She didn’t show me anger in my moment of weakness she showed me compassion and empathy. This went a long way to helping my view of the relationship.
I remember the initial feelings of it all, the embarrassment of not having control of my-self overall, and the sadness of knowing I was trying to hold my wife, kids and family to a standard of life I was hypocritically unwilling to live by personally.