Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hope, Help, and Healing

My life over the last 7 months started out as quite a rollercoaster, but has evened out considerably as I have learned and applied recovery principles.

Healing from betrayal trauma takes time, and is something that is done independent of the addict and their choices.  This fact makes understanding recovery from betrayal trauma difficult.

When you are married and consider your husband your eternal companion and he makes choices that jeopardize eternity, as well as choices that hurt you personally, of course you will feel sad, heartbroken, and even devastated.  You will also have great fear. This is no way to live, and you do not have to continue to suffer with those feelings.

The question of recovery is what you will choose to do with your feelings. The beauty of recovery is learning to recognize that God is in control (and you are not, no matter how badly you want to be.)  You have no control over your husband or his choices, but you do have control over what you choose to do with the situation in which you have found yourself.  You can cast your burden at the feet of the Lord.  You can surrender your heavy, heavy load to Him. You are not meant to bear it alone.

You can base your happiness and your peace on God and Jesus Christ.  They alone are worthy of your trust.  Every human you know will let you down in some way or another because we are all imperfect and infallible by nature, but our God and Savior will never let us down.  In them we can confidently place our complete trust.

You do not have to suffer the isolation and shame of this trial.  Others stand by with open and supportive arms.  Seeking help from spiritual leaders, trusted friends, working with a qualified therapist, and support from 12 step groups that are specifically for the spouse suffering from betrayal trauma will all be essential to your recovery.  We have all been put on this earth to help each other.  If we suffer in silence, how can anyone help us?  If we share our loads, we find healing.  Let's stand together and help one another.

I bear my witness that the Savior of the world, and our Heavenly Father, know acutely the pains and trials we are experiencing in our mortal lives.  They weep over the destruction and wreckage that is sweeping over the earth through pornography addiction and all of the unspeakable evil that comes with the escalation of it.
They have not left us unaided.  There is a way out.  There is Hope.  There is Help.  There is Healing!

What we've learned about Recovery- In a Nutshell

Since July of 2015 my husband and I have been learning principles of true recovery.  We have learned that sobriety and repentance from pornography addiction are parts of recovery, but alone they are not true recovery.  We have learned that I too need recovery in order to heal from betrayal trauma in healthy ways.  We tried to narrow down the most important things we have learned about each so that we could present this information to the bishop's of our stake.  This is what we shared with them:

What we’ve learned about Lust Addiction (Sexual/Pornography addiction)

The root of sexual addiction is actually a lust addiction.  Pornography is just one drug of choice and is almost always accompanied by masturbation. Other forms of acting out are fantasizing and objectification, and in more extreme cases, infidelity, indecent exposure, strip clubs, or voyeurism. The addiction is always accompanied by lying and deceit. An untreated sexual addiction will progress to worse forms of acting out in order to satisfy the same urge.

Pornography is extremely addictive. It causes chemical changes in the brain similar to cocaine use.  We should not treat this addiction any less seriously than we would treat a drug addiction.

Addiction begins in the mind. An addict needs to rid himself of lust and fantasy in order to overcome sexual and pornography addiction. This involves a process of completely changing the way their brain thinks and learning to look at women as whole people, daughters of God, and not objects.

Repentance is not overcoming sexual addiction. Many addicts repent, fast, pray, attend the temple, and yet struggle with addiction for years.  These actions are valuable to building spirituality, but more help than this is necessary to overcome sexual addiction. Addiction is almost impossible to overcome in isolationIt thrives in secrecy and shame. Addicts are used to denying, minimizing, rationalizing, lying, hiding, and living in shame.  They lie to themselves and they lie and tell partial truths to their spouses and leaders.  Overcoming and changing requires outside help. Support groups such as PASG and SA, individual counseling (to discover healthy alternative coping skills and how to become emotionally aware), and working with church leaders are all essential to recovery.

Sobriety is not the same as recovery.  Simply refraining from acting out is not recovery.  Real recovery is an effort and focus requiring actions and change that must continue throughout the rest of an addict’s life.

Real recovery requires deep humility and a change of heart. An addict who is not in recovery will not want to talk about their addiction or recovery.  An addict who is in recovery will not stop talking about it.  Recovery requires complete honesty, openness, and accountability.  It is not just about stopping thoughts and actions.  It’s about a whole new way of being and complete change of heart.

Triggers and action plans/boundaries. Absolutely essential to recovery is identifying triggers- what takes place in the addicts life or day that leads him to acting out. All addicts have them and they must be identified in order to develop a plan to avoid them or address them when they arise.

The 12 step program is not just a one-time event.  There are many addicts who have been sober for many years and still attend.  One may question why they are attending the 12-step groups if they are sober.  The answer is that the attendance of 12 step groups is the reason they are able to remain sober.

Connection and Intimacy is the opposite of Pornography addiction. It is important to understand what leads someone to addiction. It is almost always due to a lack of human connection in their lives. The lack of real connection leads them to seek temporary or false connections that give them immediate release of stress or pain, only to cause that same stress and pain after the euphoria wears off, thus creating the addictive cycle. Sex alone is not connection or intimacy.  Sex should be the result of intimacy.  Sex addicts do not realize this.  They need to learn how to have true intimacy and connection in their marriage. Telling a couple to have more sex only feeds the addiction and does not help the addict or the wife.


What we’ve learned about Betrayal Trauma (Assuming the addict is the husband and the spouse is the wife)

Betrayal Trauma is real. When a wife of a husband addicted to pornography discovers his addiction (or discovers there has been relapses), she suffers betrayal trauma.  Especially in an LDS marriage, because of the betrayal of temple covenants, as well as the shock of the discovery of behaviors, secrets, and lies, the wife experiences trauma with effects similar to PTSD. The wife is dealing with a complete reversal of what she thought was true about her husband and her life.  This is shocking and takes a while to come to grips with.  Intense feelings of anxiety, heartache, fear, shame, confusion, and even guilt are normal.  Expect extreme mood swings. Many wives think their husband’s addiction is their fault.  They need to learn that it is not their fault.

Professional complete disclosure is crucial to healing.  She needs to know the truth.  A wife cannot heal if she doesn’t know what she is healing from. Complete disclosure of all of her husband’s actions is essential to her recovery.  This should be done in a professional setting. She needs to be involved in her husband’s recovery process.  Please include her in meetings and discussions.

Isolation compounds her pain. Betrayal trauma is an extremely lonely trial. There are not many people in whom the spouse can confide in, and of those people, not many understand exactly what she is going through.  Support groups and individual therapy can help the spouse express emotion, learn recovery principles (such as setting boundaries), and begin healing.  She needs to have a few people that she can trust in whom she can confide. Help and support will aide her to work through her emotions and begin a path of healing and recovery.  Reaching out from a bishop goes a long way in helping her feel support. Offering priesthood blessings is helpful. The best thing a bishop can do for her is listen empathetically, involve her, and provide resources for her to aide her healing. 

Setting Boundaries is crucial. A spouse must learn that she has no control over her husband and his choices, and that it is unhealthy to try to control him or his choices. However, she does have control over her life and choices, and she can protect herself through setting boundaries.  Learning about boundaries is the most crucial thing I have discovered in my recovery because they help me feel safe.  They help me protect myself and my family.  Setting and enforcing boundaries has been the most beneficial to my recovery.  Boundaries are excellently explained by Adam Moore with the Utah Coalition against Pornography (UCAP) and the video can be found on

Forgiveness is not the same as trust.  Forgiveness does not mean that what happened was okay.  A betrayed spouse can extend forgiveness to her husband- meaning she is letting go of the resentment and bitterness.  Forgiveness comes in time.  Being asked to forgive too soon is not healthy or conducive to full recovery. Allow the spouse time to feel the pain, work through the heartache and varied emotions, and then come to a place where she can extend forgiveness.

Trust must be earned and is re-gained slowly.  Spouses will have trust issues of varying degrees with men and priesthood holders as a result of her husband’s actions.  Spouses will probably forgive long before they trust again.


15 years ago when pornography entered my life, I do not believe that any of these resources existed. If they did, I did not hear about them.  I am so grateful that I have discovered so many things to both help myself and my husband on this journey of overcoming pornography addiction and its devastating effects!  I'm sure this list is not comprehensive- it is simply what I have discovered so far, and what has helped me the most.

Recommended Books/Websites
 “Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship” by Andrew Pipanne *Game Changer for addicts
-many essays also found on

 “What Can I Do About Me” by Rhyll Croshaw *Game changer for Spouses

“Love you, Hate the Porn” by Mark Chamberlain and Geoff Steurer  *Best for couples in our opinion

“Understanding Pornography and Sexual Addiction, A Resource for LDS Families and Leaders” by SA Lifeline Foundation

“Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” by Barbara Steffens

“Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction” by Patrick J. Carnes

“He Restoreth My Soul” by Donald L. Hilton

“Confronting Pornography” by Mark Chamberlain

Instagram account @thelightkeepers (where all my learning began)

Fortify- program offered by for recovering from pornography addiction. My husband does this program and it is really geared toward the younger generation.  *Good for youth.

UCAP (Utah Coalition Against Pornography). Many conference videos available online at – Online betrayal trauma healing program Website for Church Leaders.  Click on support for spouses of pornography users. - Bloom is a support group for women of sexaholics

Recovery Groups and Programs
PASG- LDS Pornography Addiction Support Group specifically for addicts

ARP- Addiction recovery program: LDS support group for spouses/family of pornography addicts

SA- Sexaholics Anonymous - 12 step support group for sexaholics
S-ANON- 12 step support group for spouses of sex addicts

SA Lifeline-( 12 step support group for addicts and spouses of pornography addicts

Bloom- online support group for spouses of pornography addicts

Sons of Helaman- Program for young men fighting pornography and morality challenges

Men of Moroni- Program for men fighting pornography and morality issues

Healing through Christ- phone in meetings for family members

The Togetherness Project- conferences and private online communities for women affected by a loved one’s addiction

WORTH Group- Women of Rebirth Therapeutic Healing- free support group for wives suffering from emotional injuries

Lifestar- Excellent intensive therapy and treatment program for couples

Saturday, January 30, 2016


One of the most influential books in my life, and certainly the most influential book in my recovery is, "What Can I Do About Him Me?" By Rhyll Croshaw.  Rhyll has survived some terrible experiences because of her husband's sexual addiction. The wonderful thing is that she has recovered, her husband Steven has recovered, and they now share their knowledge publicly. They founded a 12 step group called SA-Lifeline ( They have dedicated their life to fighting sexual addiction and helping others to do the same.

Rhyll's book taught me about the importance of my recovery.  I had to once again realize that I had no control over my husband or his choices and that it would be unhealthy for me to try to control him.  It is also not a good idea to base my happiness and peace on what my husband may or may not choose to do.  I needed to find myself and I needed to find God.  I could find myself and express my desires and gain control over myself.  The rest is in the control of God and I needed to learn to surrender to His will and trust Him. He is the only person I can fully trust.  He must be the source of my peace and happiness.

Enter boundaries.

Boundaries are about expressing my needs and wants and values.  They are about empowering myself and recognizing the fact that in any circumstance, I do have choices.  My boundaries are my plan of action in my recovery. They are my bottom lines of what I am and am not willing to live with.
The first boundary I set was this: I will not allow television in my home.

For a long time I was really bugged about the television watching that was going on in my home.  I hated the immodesty, the vulgarity, the darkness, and the dark feeling that was infiltrating my home through that box.  I'm talking about prime time television.  I'm talking about family game shows that couldn't stay away from inappropriate subjects.  I'm talking about widely accepted and popular TV shows that are full of sleeze.
I finally realized that I don't have to live that way!  I have the right to be comfortable in my own home.  I have the right to turn off inappropriate television in my home if it makes me feel afraid or uncomfortable.  I have choices as the mother and wife in my home.  If my family and husband want to watch TV, they can... but not in my house.  I am well aware that they can and might make poor television viewing decisions outside of my home, but MY house no longer has TV.  That makes me feel good.  That makes me feel a little safer.  That brings the spirit into my home, which is of utmost importance to me.  I am so glad I set this boundary! The spirit in my home has increased 10 fold and my kids don't even miss it (thankfully!).  However, it was a battle that I was prepared to fight if necessary. I was prepared to throw the TV on the ground and smash it with a hammer (and I sort of wanted to).  Luckily, we were able to calmly take it down and sell it ;).

Other boundaries I set included:

I have the right to expect 100% honesty and transparency from my husband. I have the right to feel safe in my marriage and not have to ask my husband how he is doing in recovery, therefore I ask for nightly disclosure of feelings and recovery work from my husband.  If he does not keep this boundary, I will ask him to sleep elsewhere until I am feeling safe in our marriage again.

I will not engage in sex unless I feel emotionally connected with my husband.  I will not use sex as a medication for his stress, thus feeding his addiction.  I will not use sex as a reward or withhold it as punishment.

I will not tolerate or live with active addiction in my home or marriage and I refuse to enable addict behavior.  If I am aware of slips or a relapse, I will ask my husband to leave the home.  If he will not leave, I will, because I recognize that slips and relapses (without increasing time between i.e., measurable progress) are a result of not working an effective recovery.  (I set this as a hard boundary because he had been sober for 6 months at this point).

I can expect to have a husband who is committed to recovery.  If I do not see minimal observable recovery behaviors in my husband including attending 12 step meetings, keeping my boundaries, and disclosing his recovery efforts, I will ask him to leave the home.

I give myself permission to listen to my gut, and to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.  I will follow what my instincts or the Spirit tells me to do.  I will be true to myself and what I know is right.

I will allow myself to forgive on my own timetable. I will work toward forgiveness as a gift to myself and let go of resentment that hurts only me.  I have the right to allow my husband to earn trust and I will only trust again as I see behaviors that are deserving of trust.

I will allow myself to feel the feelings that come during my recovery and work through them without rushing myself. I will allow myself to heal slowly and on my own timetable. I will choose not to blame myself for his choices.  They are not my fault, nor my responsibility.

I will take care of my personal needs including resting when I need to rest, and practicing regular self care.

These boundaries are not about trying to control my husband.  I have absolutely no control over his choices. Boundaries are about protecting myself from my husband's addictive behaviors. I do have a right to say what I will and will not live with.  I have the right to protect myself and the responsibility to protect my home and children.  I have a right to feel safe in my home and in my marriage.  That is what boundaries are all about.

 Knowing my boundaries and the consequences of breaking them, my husband was free to choose what he would do.  Thankfully, because he was very willing to do whatever it took to overcome his addiction, he was willing to keep my boundaries.  Many women that I know who are in situations similar to mine have husbands who do not keep their boundaries and who do not work recovery.  Their position is very difficult and I admire their strength as they follow through with their boundaries and consequences in order to keep themselves healthy and protect their homes and children.

Brandon also made boundaries for himself. Some that I am aware of included:

No television in the home.
No being alone in the bedroom with a closed door.
No attending swimming pools or going to beaches.
Daily scripture reading and prayer individually as well as leading the family.
Weekly attendance of 12 step meetings.
Finding a 12 step sponsor and working toward becoming a sponsor.
Daily reading from educational books on pornography addiction, recovery, or other uplifting material.

Thank goodness for boundaries!  They have empowered me and changed my life.

For more information on boundaries visit:

Two different people in two very different places

My husband hates his addiction.  He knows it is morally wrong to view pornography, to masturbate, and to give into lust.  It goes against his personal beliefs and standards.  He has suffered in misery and silence for years and years.  He has tried to avoid pornography white-knuckled.

For about 6 months- from January 30 until mid July of 2015- he had done a fabulous job of staying sober.  He had made some big changes in his life and had repented.  He was feeling forgiven.  In his mind he just had one thing left to do, and that was to confess to me. When he did confess, he felt much better.

I, on the other hand, felt stabbed.  Truly stabbed and bleeding.  I expressed to Brandon that it felt like he just took a knife and stabbed me with it three or four good times in the gut, then pulled the knife out and said, "I'm so sorry I just stabbed you.  I know it was wrong.  It's okay though because my stabbing days are over and I'm never going to do it again."  Meanwhile, I've collapsed on the floor in pain, bleeding.

Another sister expressed it well.  She said disclosure was like her husband had vomited all over her.  He felt so much better after purging himself of the filth that made him sick, but now she was left standing there covered in it.

I was so angry (among many other emotions).  I was angry that he was feeling good and feeling spiritual and wanted to move on. I was in darkness.  I didn't feel the spirit at all.  I was angry that he wasn't showing much remorse or suffering for what he was putting me though.  How dare he be so happy and relieved, especially in light of my misery?  He explained to me that he had been forgiven and he told me that I needed to use the atonement to help with my pain and sorrow.
Oh no he didn't.
He really did.
That did not go over well.
I stood up and pounded on his chest in absolute hysterics over that one and told him that he had no right to talk to me about my need for the atonement, truth or not.

It was time to call Landon.

This was when my husband received a much needed reality check.  Landon helped him learn empathy.  He learned to stop trying to be a fixer.  My pain was something he couldn't fix and frankly shouldn't be trying to.  That's not what I needed.  Landon taught my husband to stop and listen to my words. To digest what I was saying.  To put himself in my shoes and try to feel what it might be like if our roles were reversed.  To say things like, "I see why you feel that way", and "That must be a terrible feeling".  He told my husband to sit with me in my pain.

I pulled truth and honesty from Brandon over the course of the next two weeks.  An addict is so used to lying, even to himself, that telling the whole truth is difficult for them.  By asking questions and begging to know if he finally had confessed everything, I heard the truth of the past 8 years in pieces, and with each piece of information, my heart broke a little more.

Sometimes I allowed Brandon to hold me in my despair, and it was very healing. Other times I wanted him as far away from me as possible.  I told him not to touch me.  I told him not to say that he loved me anymore because it was too painful and hurt too much to hear those hollow words.  I showered and dressed with my door locked. I experienced bouts of painful agony where I laid on my closet floor having an ugly cry where I screamed and cried out to God with a great big towel in my face to hold all of the snot and tears.

I felt sad and hurt most of the time.  Then a wave of anger would overtake me.  I would be so angry for so many reasons.  Angry that this was happening to me again.  Angry at Brandon for having this problem.  Angry at the media, the porn industry, the world, angry at Satan.

Finally my husband slowed down a little and quit trying to rush ahead in his recovery.  He started reading books on addiction recovery and learned to be humble.  In the depths of humility he sat through whatever I needed to say to him and get off my chest.  It was not an easy time for either of us, but it was a time of great learning.

D Day #3

What is D Day?
Disclosure Day.
Discovery Day.
The Day the Devil Delights in because of the misery that is present.

In July of 2015 my husband partially disclosed to me a relapse in pornography addiction for the third time.  I didn't even realize that he was trying to confess at the time because it was truly the farthest thing from my mind.  He always told me he was doing well when it came to the temptation of pornography.  He was over that part of his life.
It was a terribly painful morning.  I felt so blindsided.  I couldn't believe that this was happening to me again!  I couldn't believe that I had been so deceived again.
It just so happens (in other words: not a coincidence and definitely a tender mercy) that my sister and brother in law had come to California to visit us and had arrived the night before.  It was Sunday morning and I asked my brother in law if I could talk to him privately after sacrament meeting.  I got ready for church and sat through sacrament meeting in absolute torture.  I was trying to act like everything was normal but inside I wanted to die.
My brother in law Landon is amazing.  He has a master's degree in social work and has been my go-to-therapist as long as I've known him... poor guy.  Landon knew about Brandon's past because I am very open with my immediate family.  So after sacrament meeting, Landon and I got in the car and drove back to my house to put his little girl, my niece, down for a nap.  No sooner did we get into the car before I began to sob.  I think I shocked him a little.  I told him Brandon had relapsed and I had just found out.  He really didn't need to hear more than that. He told me he was so sorry.  He talked to me for a while before the others came home from church, then he talked to me, Brandon, my mom, and my sister while all of the kids went to the park down the street.
Landon told us some important things right off the bat.  First, he told us that this is an addiction of relapses, and we began to understand that Brandon kept relapsing because he truly had an addiction- not just a little problem or a bad habit. Second, Landon told us that if Brandon really wanted to recover, then recovery had to be his #1 priority each and every day.  Overcoming would require no less.  He then told us that the people who attend addiction recovery programs and have been sober for 30 years are asked why they attend the programs when they've been sober for so long. The answer is:  The very reason they are sober is because they are attending those programs week after week, year after year.  And so we realized that this is a battle that we must face every day.  It isn't going away any time soon.  My husband will not just get over it and be "normal" again.  Our lives would need to look and be very different. We would now have a new normal, and it would include fighting relentlessly.  Landon then counseled Brandon to do something that I am most grateful for.  Landon told my husband that I needed to know how his recovery was going, and that I deserved to know as his wife.  He explained that when I have to always wonder how my husband is doing, it is very stressful.  Also, when I have to ask how Brandon is doing all of the time, it makes me feel like his mother and it makes Brandon feel nagged and controlled.  It would be important for Brandon to regularly be accountable to me and tell me how he was doing.  Later, when I learned about boundaries (that's a whole new post subject), I made a boundary that I deserve to know how my husband is doing and so I would like nightly disclosure of his feelings and what he has done towards recovery that day. I can say that for 7 months my husband has told me his feelings every single night, with the exception of two nights in the beginning.  As a consequence, he left our room and slept elsewhere per my boundary and he learned that I was serious.  He now tells me what recovery work he did each day. Sometimes it is a lot, other times it is listening to a conference talk on the way home from work.  He tells me how he feels about his recovery.  He shares with me his stresses and his victories (learning how to connect emotionally and develop healthy coping strategies in dealing with stress).  If I am gone or at work, my boundary doesn't go away.  He calls me or texts me.  This nightly disclosure and sharing of feelings has brought Brandon and I much closer, and helped us to connect emotionally. It has been such a blessing to our marriage that I think I'll keep that boundary forever!
Landon got us started off in the right direction.  It was the beginning of many changes and a lot of work for both Brandon and for me.  This was the beginning of real recovery for both of us.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Our Story

For me, our story begins in 1994.

My name is Jaylynn Bryson.  I met my husband, Brandon Bryson, on the first day of school at Ricks College in 1994.  We quickly fell in love and were married after we graduated from Ricks in May of 1995.  I was 19 and Brandon was 23 years old at the time.  I say that my story begins here because an LDS temple marriage was the culmination of all of my hopes and dreams up until that point.  I thought my story would now simply become happily ever after.

Brandon and I are Latter Day Saints and were married in the Bountiful temple.  We made sacred covenants to each other there, including promises to remain faithful in every way.  Brandon treated me like a queen and we had a wonderful marriage.  I felt like the "honeymoon phase" lasted for years.  We joyfully welcomed a daughter into our family on our one year anniversary.  Two years later we welcomed a son.

At this time, home computers were becoming popular and we purchased one.  Brandon was attending school at Weber State University part time and working part time.  I was working the night shift as a mother/baby nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital.  We were busy but happy.

One day, five years into our marriage, I vividly remember going into the basement bedroom of our house that we had made into an office, and turning on the computer.  A message appeared that the computer had not been properly shut down during its last use, and a pornographic image came to the screen. The image was burned into my mind.  I was shocked to see it.  My mind reeled.  Having only 2 small children, the only explanation was that my husband had a problem with pornography.

I walked upstairs and called Brandon, who was at work.  When he answered I asked him, "Do you have a problem with pornography?"  I'm sure it surprised him and he was silent momentarily. He then quietly said, "Yes".  I hung up the phone, dropped it, and began to cry.  I will never forget the despair, confusion, and pain of that moment.  I wasn't sure what to believe about my husband or my marriage. Everything that I knew to be true suddenly seemed to be in question.

I told Brandon that he needed to confess to the bishop.  He agreed and made the appointment.  He was relieved to have been caught and he wanted to repent.  As we sat in the dark hallway of the church, he told me there was more.  He then stated that masturbation accompanied his pornography use.  I was naive and I was shocked.  That confession cut me to the core.  I felt that he had truly cheated on me to the image of other women.  I couldn't stand the thought.

I remember the bishop giving us an article to read that he had printed from the Ensign, but I don't remember what the article was about.  Brandon had to refrain from taking the sacrament for a few weeks.  I don't remember any other follow up or help.

I remember telling my dad that I didn't know if I should get a divorce.  My dad told me simply, "That's not a reason to divorce."  I felt very unsupported and alone.  I felt that having no trust in my husband could very well be a reason to divorce.  Brandon was repentant however, and in time I forgave him. Our marriage continued in the same manner as before.  Brandon has always been a wonderful and kind husband and an excellent and caring father. Once in a while I would ask him if he struggled with pornography, but he would always say no.

When we had been married for 12 years, Brandon approached me one day after church.  I was sitting on our bed reading.  He sat next to me and was very nervous.  He told me that he had been meeting with our bishop because he had been struggling with pornography over the past several years.  He was very afraid I would leave him.  My initial response was shock, however, he was extremely down on himself and sorrowful and I remember telling him, "This addiction is not who you are. I know the real you."

Over the next few days, the reality of his confession slowly sunk in.  I began to grasp the fact that I had been lied to for years.  He had been living a double life and had deceived me.  I remember asking him, "So all of those times when I asked how you were doing, you lied to me?"  The answer was a reluctant and remorseful, "Yes."  The pain of being lied to, face to face, so many times by someone I loved and trusted was actually more painful than the knowledge of his acting out.

I began to "freak out" for lack of a better description. I now know that what I was experiencing has a name: Betrayal Trauma. I went to the hospital and quit my job as a labor and delivery nurse on the spot, without notice.  Luckily my boss was understanding and supportive.  I had been working the night shift and that is when he acted out.  I felt that I couldn't leave the home.  I had to monitor my husband, our computer, our kids, everything.

It didn't take long for me to realize that I could not live that way- in constant fear.  And so I did the opposite- I decided to not care.  My husband had hurt me deeply and there was nothing I could do about it.  He may continue to look at pornography.  He may continue to lie.  This could all happen again, and I had no control.  In order to protect myself from future hurt, I built up walls around my heart.  I determined that he would not hurt me again.  I stopped feeling love for him.  At this time, an old boyfriend from high school began to message me on Facebook.  I began to develop an emotional relationship with him.  Ironically our discussions began as religious and gospel based, but soon he wanted more.  I would never cross physical lines with him, but I was definitely pulling away from my husband and heading down a very dangerous path.  I pulled away from the gospel and stopped praying.  I very seriously contemplated divorce.  It was an extremely dark time in my life.  Brandon was aware of most of my actions and he became suicidal because of the relationship I had with another man.  We began marriage counseling with LDS family services. I feel that the counseling was mildly helpful in our marriage.

My dad was actually the person who helped me the most at this time. One night after my four children were in bed and Brandon had left the house in anger following a fight, I was sobbing and walking through the house closing the shutters.  I remember it was about 10pm and suddenly there appeared my dad. He walked into my house and asked me how I was doing and I told him, "Not good, Dad.  Not good."  We sat down on my couch and I told him everything.  He already knew about Brandon's addiction, but at this time I confessed my struggles and relationship with another man.  My dad was very compassionate and listened to me as I poured my heart out.  He then told me the story of his mother, my grandma, who was married to an alcoholic.  My grandma went through difficulties in her marriage and as a teenager my dad witnessed first hand the struggles of his parents.  My dad told me that one night he was talking with his mom and said, "You don't have to stay married to dad.  You don't have to live like this."  But my grandma chose to stay by the side of my grandpa, and she endured until the day he died.

The message to me was clear.  I had a choice- but I needed to make a choice and then stick with it.  I decided to fight for my marriage.  I ended the emotional affair, and Brandon and I struggled to repair our marriage. We got matching tattoos to symbolize all that we had been through- our scars that stood for the fight for our marriage that we were determined to win.

I saw my bishop and went through the repentance process for my actions.  However, I still felt very alone and had only a few friends and family members who knew of my struggles.  Brandon began to attend an addiction recovery program that the church sponsored. It was a general program for people struggling with any addiction. I attended one meeting with him.  He completed the 12 steps and learned a lot. He considered himself cured.

Our marriage was slowly strengthened and we pulled together quite remarkably through the next several years of financial ruin.  Brandon was fired from the job he loved and was unemployed for 7 months.  He subsequently began work as a truck driver and ended up losing that job the following year just before Thanksgiving.  We lost our home and our cars.  It was very humbling, but brought us closer as a family.

The years passed and things began to normalize in our marriage, although we haven't yet recovered financially.  Love returned and trust began to return to a great degree.  Occasionally I would ask Brandon if he ever struggled with the temptation of pornography.  He told me that the temptation was present at times, but that he did not act on it.

Around this time, my sister introduced me to an Instagram account called @thelightkeepers.  I began to learn a lot about pornography addiction and recovery from the personal experiences of a brave woman who shares her story.  I also began to learn about betrayal trauma. This is the trauma that occurs when the person whom another trusts significantly violates that trust or well-being. The spouse of an addict experiences this when she discovers her husband's deception through pornography addiction and infidelity- at whatever level it may have reached.  The symptoms are similar to PTSD. Looking back, it was obvious to me that I had experienced betrayal trauma in the past and had not healed appropriately. Little did I know that being led to this instagram account, and learning all that I learned would prove to be a great blessing.

After 20 years of marriage, in July of 2015, Brandon stood next to me one day as I got ready for work and told me that he had watched some movies that were haunting him.   I truly thought that he had watched an inappropriate television show or maybe a rated R movie and I was disappointed because I had been expressing my discontent with the fact that he liked to stay up and watch mindless TV at night when I went to work.  He also liked to watch shows like Survivor (which I detest because of the immodesty), and The Walking Dead (which I detest because of the violence and darkness), and I had been telling him how much I wished he would stop watching them.  I went to work after his "confession" and through the 12 hour night shift began to realize that there might be more to these "movies" then I thought.

Keep in mind that my husband was a very active LDS man at this time.  He held callings in church. He had a testimony of the gospel.  He was a very good father and husband.

After my shift I came home with dread in my heart and woke Brandon from sleep around 7am.  I asked him what the name of the movie was that he had watched.  When he told me the title, I wanted to vomit.  I had to flee.  I went to my closet and fell on the floor in physical pain and agony.  I could not believe this was happening again!  For the third time in my marriage I had been completely blindsided. I didn't understand how this could have happened.  The sorrow and despair was overwhelming.

Over the next several days and weeks I pulled disclosure from him that he had relapsed over the years and had again been lying to me about it.  It was horrible and painful, but this time I was prepared with knowledge and tools.  I knew the magnitude of the addiction that my husband was facing, and I knew that I was facing betrayal trauma again.  I knew what needed to be done.