An LDS woman shares what she has learned from the Church’s 12 Step group for the wives of pornography addicts.
Not so long ago, I imagined a 12 Step meeting for the loved ones of addicts as a group of whimpering, self-pitying women. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that that actually sounded good to me. I was feeling very sorry for myself and desperately longed for empathy. What I encountered when I started going to meetings was so much more than that. I definitely found empathy. More importantly, however, I found hope and strength. The women at the 12 Step meetings were not pathetic victims. They were my loving allies as they worked to improve their lives by finding peace in the Savior.
I was absolutely petrified to attend my first meeting. I drove to the LDS meetinghouse that evening with my husband. He went to the Church’s Pornography Addiction Support Group (PASG) in the room next door. Many of the women in the spouse’s group attended alone. Recovery was important enough to them that they were willing to work at it even if their husband’s weren’t. My husband and I were both extremely nervous. What if we saw people we knew? Would everyone stare at us as we walked in? Would the other women see my husband as a pervert?
Although those fears were very real to me at the time, I now see how unfounded they were. No one in that room judged my husband or me for anything. No one stared. They only smiled kindly. Although I didn’t know anyone, I felt so much love from these other women that first night that if I had seen someone I knew, I would have been more inclined to give her a hug than to be embarrassed.
Before attending the Church’s 12 Step meetings for spouses, I didn’t know what it meant to be a co-dependent. In fact, I was positively sure that I wasn’t one. With the help of the program, I’ve since come to realize that as long as I let my husband’s behaviors, choices and addiction control my happiness, I am a co-dependent. Today, I can say that I am a recovering co-dependent. There’s a huge difference.
The Church’s 12 Step program uses gospel teachings and principles to help me find the tools I need to cope with the struggles that come with having an addicted loved one. The 12 Steps themselves are healing. I believe them to be not only inspired but also very effective. The camaraderie I feel with the women of the program gives me strength. I am inspired each week as I hear them share–in safety and with honesty–their progress as well as their setbacks. There are naturally moments when one of us in the group feels despair, frustration or hurt. Still, the underlying theme is one of encouragement and hope. The individuals who attend vary from week to week, but there is always someone in the group who is further down the recovery path than I, and she inevitably lifts me from my low places by her example.
I’m so grateful for the Church’s 12 Step program for the spouses of pornography addicts. I am grateful for a weekly opportunity to study the principles of hope, gratitude, humility, and so forth, all of which continue to heal my broken heart and help me feel joy in spite of the difficult trial of living with an addict. The beauty of this program for loved ones of addicts is that happiness can be found regardless of the addict’s progress. In ideal circumstances, the addict can use PASG to aid in recovery as well. But either way, the benefits are real for the wife even if she attends alone.