All Pain Hurts – No Measuring Stick Required

When I first received an offering of hope and the opportunity to heal from sexual betrayal trauma, I desperately grasped the branch being held out to me, not knowing if it was strong enough to rescue me, or would snap from the weight of my despair. The answer didn’t really matter because I couldn’t imagine hurting more than I already was anyways.

Although I had experienced the soul crushing effects of my husband’s porn addiction and a sexless marriage for twenty five years, I was astoundingly ill informed about these topics. I was not in denial as much as I was ignorant and naïve. Which was not bliss. But did allow me to survive and function at a level that no one ever suspected the magnitude of emotional and sexual abuse occurring in my marriage. Not even me.

It’s not that I didn’t know something was very wrong with my marriage. It was just that I did nothing to gain a better understanding of the cause of the dysfunction. I lived with the symptoms without seeking a diagnosis until the pain became unbearable and numbing my emotions impossible.

And then wondrously, the mystery, the underlying cause of my shameful loneliness and sexual rejection was identified. My husband chose and preferred a fantasy world of pornography and masturbation over me. As hurtful as that revelation was, this new awareness was enlightening.

My husband met the criteria for both a sex addiction and intimacy anorexia. The intimacy disorder made sense. But I was confused that a man who intentionally shamed and berated his wife for having sexual needs and desires could be addicted to sex. I felt desperately alone.

Through counselling, reading recovery material, and attending a support group for partners of sex addicts, I received information that propelled me into a healing process. Although my pain was being validated, and the knowledge I gained was empowering, I still felt distressingly isolated in my abnormal situation.

The ache in my heart longed to find similarities to my story in the voices I read and heard. But it was rare. I needed to know that there was someone else like me. Someone who shared and understood that approximately 9,125 days of being sexually rejected by your husband was traumatic and a form of both sexual betrayal and sexual abuse. Someone who had found healing of her own damaged sexuality. But I couldn’t find her.

I began reading books written by women who had traversed the healing journey from the crippling effects of sexual betrayal trauma. I found encouragement, support and practical ways to navigate through the pain and chaos. I found beautiful testimonies of healing and restoration. I found evidence of God’s supernatural strength, love and guidance. But I didn’t find the details of their husband’s destructive behaviour and betrayal. I didn’t know what their husbands had specifically done. I didn’t find a way to compare and measure atrocities, to mark off behaviours on a checklist that would rate my experiences against anyone else’s. There was no ranking and winner in the pain department. All pain hurts.

I vowed that if I ever wrote my story, I would write with complete vulnerability and transparency. That every wound and scar would be open for the world to see. My motivation was not for sympathy, but rather to fight the darkness of isolation. There had to be another woman like me. And if I couldn’t find her, maybe she would find me.

And then I healed. And understood why the graphic details were missing. They weren’t important to the story. Or to my story. I have borne the consequences of the sinful behaviour inflicted upon me, but I did not cause it. Thus, the offenses are not mine to confess and recklessly proclaim to others. It is the journey from Point A to B that matters. The starting point need only provide a reference and introduction.

That doesn’t mean the many facets and layers of sexual betrayal are insignificant. For me, there were many specific words spoken and acting out behaviours from my husband that I needed to process to be able to heal from them. But the best place for that was with a counsellor or my husband. I chose to clean up the poison rather than spread it further.

There have been times, and will continue to be, when I share certain offenses of my husband’s betrayal and abuse with someone. When the generalities and vagueness just isn’t enough to break through the suffering. When one of us just needs the assurance that there is another person who “gets” it.  But I have found that those are the times God has connected two hurting women together with the purpose of bringing further healing and restoration to one or both of our hearts. When we are led by love, grace, forgiveness and compassion.

The most important part of my story isn’t what happened, but what I have learned from it, and how I allow God to use it to make me a better person.

I am learning to live my life with a new vulnerability and authenticity.  For me, that also includes this reminder from Neil T. Anderson – “Don’t forsake love in your eagerness to be honest.”

And in the words of Solomon:

“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9

17 thoughts on “All Pain Hurts – No Measuring Stick Required

    • Thank you for your feedback. I always appreciate your comments and the insights you provide into the porn addict’s mind. I am continually learning.

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  1. Build it and they will come. Or in our world write about it and they will find it. Other women who need this will find it. You may become apart of their journey and vice versa. A much needed ministry you have Cynthia.

    I agree that your husband’s issues are for him to share, if God calls him to do so at some point.

    This sums it up…
    The most important part of my story isn’t what happened, but what I have learned from it, and how I allow God to use it to make me a better person.

    Great post 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for the affirmation. Sometimes I question what I write, or how it will come across, and this was one of those times. So your comment is especially meaningful to me today!

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  2. Beautifully stated, as always. Your story is so much greater than just the sum of your husband’s actions, and you have found the perfect blend of relatable honesty and graceful respect. I am always appreciative of your writing and what you share and the way you share it.
    ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your comment has blessed me immensely! Beautiful words of affirmation of my heart, writing, and the message of hope I aspire to convey. Thank you. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have often felt the same way, “if only I could find another woman with the same story as me so we could relate.” It takes much maturity to be able say as you did, “the most important part of my story isn’t what happened, but what I have learned from it, and how I allow God to use it to make me a better person.” The lessons you have learned and shared from your painful story have been a great blessing to me, and likely many others.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have finally come to understand that there is no other woman with the same story as me. Or as you. Each one of us has had our own set of experiences, good and bad, since childhood and into our adult lives and marriages, that make us uniquely us. What we can relate to, and understand, is the pain and emotions suffered as a result of the addiction, betrayal, intimacy anorexia, and the overwhelming recovery process required to heal from the myriad aspects of it all.

      I also have been blessed that our paths have intersected in this part of our journeys. I have found comfort in finding someone with a similar recovery program as mine using many of the same resources. I can even imagine us being in the same teleconference support group! Wouldn’t that be interesting?!

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  4. Amen, Cynthia! ❤️
    God allowed you to go through all that you have so that your life can be a witness of His healing power and so you can comfort others who are experiencing something similar. You are fulfilling both missions beautifully and with the “perfect blend of relatable honesty and graceful respect” (as blackacre02631 so eloquently put it in the comment above) that only God could give in your situation.
    Dragging your husband through the mud by exposing all his dirty deeds would do nothing to further your calling in life and in fact, would only lessen your witness for Christ.
    Keep up the good work, because there’s others who need to ‘hear’ what you have to say! Even though I haven’t been through anything similar to you, I have still been blessed by your insights on more than one occasion 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Amy. I greatly appreciate the affirmation. This has lifted me at a time when I have begun questioning my writing and its purpose and comparing myself to other bloggers/blogs. I think I can keep on keeping on like I am doing 🙂

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