Our Real Life Story

Our Real Life Story

I have tossed and turn for several months about this. Part of the reason
 why I started this blog was to share our life experiences. I am a firm 
believer that everyone has a story. Some stories are sad while some 
stories you learn about strength, love, kindness, and more compassion
 than you ever knew thought was possible. So I am not writing this so 
that anyone feels bad for me. I am not writing this so that people can 
criticize my family or my choices. I believe whole heartily that not all 
trials are meant for only us. So I am writing our story
 for the people who are secretly suffering, with  someone else's
 addiction or their own.  

 I pray that you let go of that shame of carrying that secret.  Its in 
sharing that we find healing.  Here's ours  story.

Part 1: MySpace
My husband is one amazing man. He is super funny, genius smart, 
and a huge Star Wars fan. But when addiction takes a hold of 
someone’s life, they change. They become withdrawn, depressed 
and  withdraw from others. They can be down right
 mean or angry for no reason. Addicts are selfish and very 
manipulative. Addicts are also very good at hiding this all 
which is what happened when I first met Mike. But he’s no
 longer any of these things just so you don’t get the wrong
 idea while you continue to read this.

Mike is born and raised in Utah; the middle of 7 children.
 He was raised in the Latter Day Saint faithHe went to
 church up until he was around 16. But then fell away from
 the church. I was born in Illinois and moved to Utah when 
I was 13. In 2006 I was 22 and a newly divorced single mom 
of 2 living on my own for the first time. I was trying to grab
 hold of my world again when I was blessed to meet 2
 LDS missionaries who taught me the gospel in which
 I chose to be baptized at the age of 23.

But the day I first seen Mike's face I was looking at a
computer screen. I was surfing the Internet looking
 for some new  friends back in January of 2008. 
While on MySpace I was clicking through the “suggested 
friends” who were local and I seen his photo. I still 
remember the white pull over jacket, gel hair, and
 the phone to his left ear.

 I clicked to be his friend…..Hey he’s super cute!

Over the next 2 weeks we exchanged emails several 
times a day. I remember running to my computer to see
 if he emailed me back. But we were both dating someone
at this time  but there’s no rule that says men and women
 can’t be friends. Our emails upgraded into phone calls. 
Which I remember our first conversation we talked about 
pharmaceutical  cover-ups.  Not the most promising 
conversation but when he called me the next day he 
explained that he was nervous. So we talked a few more
 times but at this time my 24th birthday was approaching 
and  I was planning on going to a local dance club with a few 
friends to celebrate. I invited him along but he declined.
He had visited his uncle earlier that day and was
 tired from the long drive. So I made a joke that if he
 was ever in need of a nurse he could stop by the hospital
 I worked at.I was working as C.N.A. at a major new
 hospital.) But that was the end of our phone conversations.

The next day his MySpace status went from “Relationship”
 to “Single”. Happy day for me! I tried to call him later that
 evening while I was working but I received a call over 
my walkie talkie that I had a visitor in the hospital waiting 
room. I was racking my brain on who would visit me at a 
hospital 10pm on  a Friday night. As I walked that 
long hallway I adjusted my scrubs, tried to fix my messy
 ponytail but when I seen him….that’s it- I fell for him ♥

We dated for 3 weeks before we were married. Which I have
 now learned was something that both addicts and co-dependent
 people will do. I knew I wanted Mike in my life but didn’t 
know how or as what. So when he told me “I love you" after 
3 days my heart just burst with happiness. When he
asked my mom for permission to marry me
(he’s old fashion like that) she said sure as 
long as we wait alittle longer. Which we did….
we waited another week.

A part of addiction and co-dependency is we'll think the 
irrational is rational. So getting married might seem 
romantic  like Dharma and Greg but to rational people
this was completely crazy. Which can explain why our 
parents tried to stop us from doing this.

But after years I have learned that addicts can only
 hide their addiction for so long before it starts to
spill over to the point that they are caught red handed. 

From that first night Mike and I met while at the 
hospital he later went and indulged in his sex addiction.
 He had a one night stand with someone he just met. 
This was not my husband. This was his addiction leading
 him down this road. It’s taken me years to recognize
 and learn how to separate Addict Mike and Sober Mike. 
During those 3 weeks of when we met and were married I
 know this was my husband’s true self.   

However back to our story I was pregnant 
with our daughter Lily shortly after we were married.
  And this is where things started to show themselves.

Addicts truly believe they can handle 
things themselves. Mike didn't even know he was addicted
 to pornography until 2011. He thought he could stop
 whenever he wanted to which is NOT the case.

While I was pregnant with Lily I started to notice
 behavior changes in Mike that I never seen before. 

Part 2: Ugly Face
While I was pregnant with Lily things started out fine. Mike was sweet and
 kind during all my mood swings. He knew what I craved so everyday he
 came home with a McDonald’s Large size Coke. But during the second
 trimester he’s behavior started to change. At this time we've been married
 for 4 months.  
The addiction was starting to white knuckle itself.
Mike started to get angry a lot. We fought about little things
 but now these fights were louder and frightening. He would
 scream at my 2 other kids for little things. He started to push
 me away. He stopped communicating with me. My
 co-dependent self would push, poke, threat, or praise him in order
 for him to open up to me which only fed into his shutting me out.  I 
would tell him that I felt there was something “Off” in our home. That I felt 
there was something he wasn't telling me which he denied up and down. 
The addiction's manipulative skills started to blame me for this gap. I was
 at a loss trying to figure out what this “Thing” was that was distancing him
 from me. I was trying to hold it together for my 2 kids and the baby that
 was growing inside me. But it wasn't until the next month that I
 finally found out what the “OFF” thing was…pornography. I had caught
 Mike looking at it on our home computer.Here I am a mother to 2,
 pregnant with Lily, and completely confused, lonely, lost, and guilty
 that I was not able to stop this from happening.  At this time I was wrapped in my 
own addiction and didn't even know it.

I believed everything the addiction said to me;
that this was my fault since I was 5 months 
pregnant and my sex drive was low. That he had to do this because
 he has needs. This was his way of justifying it and avoiding 
the shame that comes with a pornography, or any addiction.

We prayed to Heavenly Father to help cure Mike. We prayed to
 take this temptation away from him. We prayed that through his
 powers he could remove this addiction from Mike so we could
 be happily married and prepare to bring this wonderful baby into
 our lives. Heavenly Father did answer my prayers just not the way
 I was expecting.

During this pregnancy we went on our honeymoon. We planned
 a belated weekend away due to my college finals and he started 
a new job so we planned a weekend getaway to southern Utah. 

My co-dependent self was trying to rescue  Mike from this addiction.
 I was going to love him so much that he would never do it again.

So while on this weekend honeymoon we went to fancy 
dinners, went shopping, swimming, etc. But it wasn't
 until the evening when his addiction showed it’s ugly face again. 

Pornography addiction changes the way the addict sees 
women. In pornographic movies woman do unthinkable things which
 actually changes the addicts brain to not recognize healthy intimacy 
and lustful intimacy.

On this weekend the difference in intimacy was shown
Mike apologized for the misunderstanding that lead to 
 things getting out of hand and he expressed his
 love towards me. I accepted the apology and never wanted to
 talk about it again. I was in major denial of what happened.
The rest of the weekend he was super nice to me. Spoiled me rotten 
maybe to compensate for what happened. I accepted it all since I 
felt I deserved it for all I’ve been though. Which fed into his addiction
 as well, that buying me things will make everything OK. (he'll continue
this trait for 3 years) When we returned home things were fine.This
 addiction was fed so it was good for a while. My husband laughed
 again, we went on dates, ate candlelit dinners, etc. In  November 
of 2008 Lily was born. Perfect little girl in every way. When we went
 back home things between us were wonderful. He was helpful 
with the baby. Did dishes for me.Cooked dinner on occasion
 but then.…Mike's behavior started to change.

I now know that addicts have cycles. Mike’s cycle is that he's 
sober from this addiction then things start getting too much for 
him. A way for him to self soothe is he'll start obsessing about 
women which lead him to checking out women which then went 
to the next step of looking on-line for lingerie gifts for me
 ( side note Mike’s never purchased lingerie for me so this was
 his way of rationalizing it). When he was at this point I would 
see the anger, the distant, the depression but soon after all of
 this he would start watching the porn videos. He’d binge usually
 for a few days but I have always caught him during this time.
 There’s only for so long that an addict can hide his behaviors.

But the addiction was fighting for survival at this point 
so this addiction broke me. I believed it was my fault.
 I carried with me the guilt that I failed as a wife (my
 co-dependent self again) I believed that because I was
 pregnant and now nursing that I drove my husband to look 
at porn. But then something unexpected happened….

I got pregnant again.

 I was so fearful that this pattern would happen again . 
So my addiction to co-dependency showed itself by trying to control
 Mike. I monitored the computer, showered him with so much love that
 cupid would have been jealous, and guilted myself into having sex in efforts
 to keep his eyes only on me. None of this worked. Addicts make their 
own rules and once I learned it’s rules the addiction changed it 
all. And my fear did come true. He relapsed while I was pregnant with
 our youngest Ducati. So this entire story was set on repeat.

All the while I still prayed but not as consistent. I prayed when I 
needed help. We went to church sometimes. We paid our tithing 
sometimes. But even though I was inconsistent in my relationship
 with Heavenly Father he still heard and answered my prayers.
 He gave us so many tender mercies that I am so grateful for 
his love towards me. Now looking back to this time in our
 lives God was giving me what I needed. He knew that Mike 
needed to be sober but he needed to do it for himself
 and no one else. Heavenly Father was teaching us that we
 needed to rely more on him than ourselves. I am just so grateful
 that Heavenly Father blessed us with so much love especially
 when we least deserved it.

Part 3: Sealed

After our youngest was born we wanted our family to be sealed
 in the temple . We worked with our bishop to prepare and Mike
 met with our bishop to repent of this sin.  I love bishops. I know
 they are men called from God. I know their faith is louder than
 their fear. And in my experience bishops  have all the right advice
 about the Atonement and how to move forward; I'm just not in a good 
place to hear their counsel.Anyways we prepared  to be sealed in the temple.
 And since this was a big deal for both of us-we went all out. A new
 fancy wedding dress, great reception, decorations, photographer, etc.
This was a very special day for our family. We faced all these trials and 
now here we are vowing to be together for time and all eternity. 
That’s something that even addiction can’t take away.

Wrong! (At least that's how I felt at the time.)

 Over the next year Mike continued to struggle with his addiction. 
 I had reached the point in mine where I was so exhausted of trying 
to save, control, punish, threaten, cry, ignore, yell at, poke, prod, 
catch him in the act, rationalize, and enable him that I 
was completely shut down.  He was repeating his cycle every few 
months.  Anything he did set me off, and anything that I did set him
 off.  It was volatile.But we made a commitment that we were going
 to make our marriage first priority.Mike was seeing a therapist for
 his anger/depression.( which was actually addiction spilling over). 
We were reading self-help marriage books (which I don’t advise 
it just makes things more confusing if there's an addiction involved)
We started dating again which was nice but things were still not healthy. 
Although we looked happy I still didn’t trust him with a computer and
he was still internally struggling with this false core beliefs that 
addictions feed off of.

But on July 8, 2011 Mike relapsed again. I remember vividly waking
up from being too hot. I got up thinking that Lily, now 3, must of switched 
on the heater. So when I got up I caught Mike AGAIN! 
This time I was so numb I just asked him, “Are you looking
 at porn?”.  He nodded. I pointed to the door suggesting for him to 
leave then went back to bed. I laid down not feeling a thing
 but also not hearing the garage door opening. So I got up and 
seen Mike in the garage shaking from shock of being caught again. 
He then told me that he thinks this is an addiction.  I said he could 
sleep on the couch ( this co-dependent Angie had no boundaries)

But I know that Heavenly Father helped me through this stage. 
I called LDS services to make an appointment to speak with
a therapist. Not only from the effect of this addictions  but 
I also was confused on what do. I loved Mike (and still do… )
but didn't want this life. What about my daughters? What am I
teaching them? What about my son…how can I stop it from 
happening to him? The day I called LDS service the receptionist 
suggested a therapist who has experience with pornography 
addiction (which I later learned that her husband’s been in recovery
for the past 10 years) and she was available the next day. When I 
went to the appointment she told me about a program that her and
 her husband went to years ago that helped them. The program is 
called LifeStar. She gave me a pamphlet then 
heard me vent for the rest of the hour.When I read over the 
pamphlet I hoped it would be a program that cured Mike within
 7-10 business days. But I didn’t share that little desire with Mike
when I returned home from my session. When I showed him the
pamphlet he was fully committed to trying this program. He was 
desperate to do something to get rid of this addiction.

Part 4:In Recovery

When I called the number on that pamphlet the therapist explained
that LifeStar was a couple recovery therapy group. He also said the
 next class starts the following week (one of God’s blessings) so we 
could sign up for it. We talked with our bishop since we needed
 help paying for it. He looked into the program for us since neither
of us ever  heard of it but he later told us that he's heard great 
things about it and agreed to help us. Since July 2011 Mike and I 
have gone to class every single week. Some weeks are harder than 
others. But we've made it to class. We've done the homework. We've 
talked about  things that we just swept under the rug for so long.
 We were finally being  honest. But half way through the program we
 felt that we were unique from the other couples because I was willing
 to let it go. I actually was denying and minimizing the situation in order to
 be in control. So when Mike and I started to be better we stopped
 going to group. It took 3 weeks of a horrible downward
 spiral of every button to be pushed that we prayed and
 accepted that we can’t do this alone. We needed Heavenly
Father, the Atonement, and LifeStar.So we went back to group and 
this is when I learned about my Co-Dependency. I didn’t 
cause Mike’s addiction, I can’t control it and I can’t change it. 
 I can still love him; AFTER I learned to love myself. There are some things
 that we disagree with regarding this program but it’s mostly been very 
helpful. Our recovery is one of the many miracles that we have
 been blessed within our lives. I recognize that all those years 
ago when I prayed to my Heavenly Father to take Mike’s addiction
 away he really wanted to. But Mike needed to be in a position to
 where he wanted to give it to God. Mike and I are not perfect. 
There are moments  where our old habits try to resurface and 
sometimes they briefly do. But the difference today is that 
we know in our hearts that Christ can redeem us and with all 
the tools that we have learned, we are able to redirect our old 
thinking patterns so we can both stay sober. I don’t know
what will happen with Mike and his sobriety. And honestly with
my sobriety either. But I do know that on our own we can’t; but 
with Jesus Christ with us we can do anything.

Mike has been sober since that night in July. And he is moving 
towards the man I seen those first 3 weeks when I first met him.
He’s kind, happy, and funny. I am wrapping up in my program to 
help with my healing and recovery. After that I'll be solo in my steps 
but I know that as long as I rely on Heavenly Father he will
help me through any bumps that I may experience.
Mike has a little bit longer in LifeStar. But for the steps
he’s taken lately I can see a change in him.  We are working hard
at our marriage to make this a fresh start. I have forgiven him 
for those moments of hurt. He's forgiven me for those moments
where I've hurt him. We're focused on the bond that not only we have
with eachother but also with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 
I pray that by sharing our story you will find hope both for the
addict in your life but also for yourself.

Your friend,


UPDATE: 11/2012
Mike and I have finished the Life Star program and have been enjoying our 
marriage. I finished my therapy in the early spring. And to be honest it was an 
adjustment for me to be out of group therapy and into the real world. 
I found myself slipping, tripping, and made several mistakes the first couple of 
weeks. It had nothing to do with Mike and his sobriety. It was my doing. I learned
so much within that year that now I needed to remember everything without
anyone's helpful reminders. But through God's grace and guidance I was able to
lean on him more those days to help me walk again. 

Mike has been doing wonderful. He graduated the program at the beginning
of the summer and since then he's been working hard in his recovery. He's been
sober since that day in July. So this makes it over 1 year sober! 

And for us- we're doing great. We are happy and kind to one another. We still have 
disagreements and misunderstanding from time to time.
A couple of times our old habits crept up on us and things get alot louder than we 
wanted. But through Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's atonement we are able to 
stop, pray, take a breathe, change our thinking pattern,and talk things out.

During these past few months Mike and I have really rekindled our marriage. 
We truly trust each other. I know that I can be open and honest with Mike and tell
him anything because he's shown me that I am safe. Something we 
haven't experience most our marriage. We have a stronger bond between us which
leads into a more passionate and affectionate marriage. Love notes and hallway kisses
are not uncommon in our household. :-) We have a much more softer and kinder
interaction with each other than we had before.

And for this change in our lives we show much appreciation for the blessing of LifeStar.
Mike and I know that if this trial didn't happen we would not have healed from the past 
hurts of each other and others. This pornography addiction actually lead us to the road 
of healing ourselves and our marriage. 

I once told my friend years ago that I feared being called, "The wife of an addict".

Today I want to say I know that Heavenly Father loves me. He's shown me many times 
including during this time of difficulty. He's shown me how to forgive, let go, and above all
I love my husband. I love our marriage. I love the face that we've overcome this huge obstacle 
together. I love being The wife of Mike  :-)