Dear Addi

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Addiction Story - Part 8 The final piece (or is it Peace?)

This is it...the final piece to my story of addiction and ultimately, rescue. Thanks for taking the journey with me. I am so happy to be on this brand new journey of honesty and faith. This post shouldn't have too many triggers in it I hope!

She sounded desperate. She was crying and barely able to speak through her tears. I sat for a moment and then simply said to myself, ”It’s over.  Its all over.  You have finally been caught.   You did it.  You lost it all.” I did not know how she had figured it out or what she knew exactly but whatever it was, it was enough to bring everything to the surface. I could feel it.

I was about  to lose everything that was important to me in the world. I went through a quick inventory in my mind of all that was about to be lost: my wife, my kids,my calling, my membership, and probably my business.
But then my deceptive side kicked in. "Wait," I told myself..."maybe you can lie your way out of it. Don't panic yet." So I called her back and she didn't answer. I called again and there was still no answer. Over and over again I called and the phone just kept ringing so I just sat in my car, waiting, panicking, calculating my loss and trying to figure out how to share everything that needed to be said. I was convinced that even if I could find a way out of this mess, I was about to become a very lonely and hated man. After waiting for a time, the phone finally rang and I picked up.

“Victoria?” I said. “ What is going on .. whats wrong?”

“Jason?” she answered, “are you having an affair?" She screamed it through tears…

" Why are you even asking this?” I asked.

“Jason, I found something in your office.“

I froze. I thought I had been so careful and cautious. But had I? The truth is, I had become so confident over 17 years of lies to her that I simply felt I was invincible and so I had gotten careless. Satan has a way of filling you with a false sense of confidence. It's almost a belief that he will keep you from getting caught. But my wife had already noticed the hours I spent on the computer, the texting on my phone, even right in front of her and the family. She saw receipts for purchases and excuses that just didn't pan out. But she never pushed the issue. She never confronted me even with my obvious lack of covering up.

“I found a note on a piece of paper talking about gift ideas for someone named Alice.”

I obviously had been careless. I had left something out. I remember thinking, "this is it. This must be what it feels like to get caught. This must be the fear and panic I was expecting to feel when this finally happened." And then, my well rehearsed, well practiced lying mind kicked into gear. I told her that what she found wasn't what she thought.

“What is it then?" she asked in a voice strained with agony.

“I have a client,” I lied. “He shared with me some things about his courtship for a job I am doing for him. He wanted me to weave some of the details from their dating life into the project I am doing for him.“ Knowing the kind of work that we do, that sounded believable and maybe she would buy it.

Really?” She asked, “There is no Alice?”

No, of course not,” I continued to lie. I was lying so effortlessly. It just rolled off my tongue as if it was a prepared story waiting to be told if this exact occasion should arise. Except it was not prepared. It was concocted by a mind that had become so accustomed to half truth and cover up that it simply slid out of my mouth and into her ears.

She was immediately relieved, but of course she was.  The nightmare she had been worried about for the last 2 months had just been delayed. Her hope in me had been restored and her life was not about to be turned upside down.  If only that were the case.

She began to apologize to me for jumping to conclusions, apologizing for accusing me of such a thing, for losing faith in me. My shame was full. The idea of leaping from that run away train floated through my thoughts again. I told her that it wasn't her fault and that she had no reason to apologize. I told her to meet me for lunch at the mall and that we needed to spend some time together.

She sounded so relieved. So happy to know that her worst fears about me were wrong. As she agreed to meet me for lunch I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, you actually got away with it.  How did you get away with it? You had just been caught red handed!"

But I knew how. She was so eager to believe that I would never do such a thing to her that she was willing to overlook the weak story I had presented….. for now. As I drove home I was filled with more fear and panic than ever before. I vowed to myself that everything would have to stop now.

No more emailing.

No more visits.

No more Pornography.

No more Lying and deception.

It all had to stop. I was changing everything starting now.

I met her for lunch and we chatted and held hands and I told her how much I loved her. At that moment I realized that this quite possibly could be the last lunch I ever have with my wife.

That night was the beginning of the real guilt and hollowness. It grew continually. I felt that this was all going to have to come out… but maybe not. Perhaps there was a way that I could keep it hidden. I had already vowed to never tell. I already committed to take it to my grave. If I could just get out of this jam and never tell then I could keep my wife and my kids.

The next day I tried to tie up any and all loose ends with Alice. I told her I would stop by Thursday morning while she was taking the kids to school and leave her key and she would never see me again.

As I drove home from work that night, I got an email on my private account. It was from the woman I had started emailing the prior week, Kim. In my last email to her I sent another photo of me. Her email simply said, "I have some bad news. I do recognize you. I'm sorry, I cant do this any more. Kim."

I began to panic again. How could she recognize me? I quickly jumped on facebook and plugged in her email and to my horror, there she was, standing with her arm around the 11 year old scout leader from our stake. She and her husband were not just members of the church, they attended the same building as we did. They were active weekly attending members! For some reason she felt the need to  explore outside of her marriage. Maybe it was just to chat or maybe it was for more but it didn't matter. My web of lust had been cast far enough to entangle another member of the church. My lust driven desire had allowed me to drop my guard and ultimately led me to be discovered.

I began to feel the walls caving in on me. I had no idea if there was a way out of this but I shifted into auto pilot and my mind of deception and lies began working over time This email came while on my drive home so I pulled into the driveway, shared a quick and nervous hello to my family and said, "I really need to use the bathroom. I'll be in there for a bit and don't bother waiting for me to eat dinner." Then I disappeared and locked the door.

I feverishly began concocting an email that told a story of a scorned person that had high jacked "Jason Arnold's" Facebook pictures in an effort to get revenge. Then I signed it, and deleted the account.

I did not feel confident that I had done a very good job with the email or that it was believable at all and I began to feel that if she chose to go to her bishop I could be exposed and left with nothing. By tomorrow, all would be out and I would be hung up as the dog I knew I was. My shame, guilt, and now fear were in overdrive. I felt it was inevitable. My world was spinning out of control and my ability to manage it was too.

That evening Victoria asked me if I wanted to go on a walk. I agreed and we left. She was hurting and I was in my own little world. I felt that at any moment all could come crashing down.
We walked in silence for a bit and then Victoria mentioned that she was feeling very anxious and unable to get control of her fears and worries as of late. I did not ask her what those worries were about but I had a pretty good idea. She then asked, "Jason, do you think you could give me a blessing?"

I was hollow at this moment as guilt, shame, and fear were coursing through my veins. I thought this may be the moment that I confess but I quickly had second thoughts. So instead I said, "Victoria, I can't right now. I feel empty and disoriented. I don't feel I have it in me to do that right now." I can't remember what my excuse was but I do know it made her panic. For the first time in our marriage I was denying her a blessing.

She knew I was under some extreme stress or that something was wrong in my life but she left it there. I was so anxious and so worried. Again I had the thought… this could be my very last walk with my sweet Victoria. I wanted to put her mind at ease and so I said, "please… just give me a couple weeks. All I need is a couple of weeks to be back to normal." I thought that with just a little bit of time and without any interference I would be fine. I would at least be able to perform my part the way I had before. We finished our walk and had a quiet evening.

The following morning, I got up early and told Victoria I was going to drop the kids at the middle school and then go to the pool for a swim. I dropped off the kids and then went to the pool. I sat in my car. You see this was to be the morning that I returned the key to Alice. I had to wait until 830 before I could head over to ensure that she wouldn't be there when I showed up so I had a few more minutes to wait.

As I sat there in my truck waiting at the pool, I decided to take the time to start deleting my account that Alice used to contact me. I was still struggling with the emotions of the last couple days and still concerned that I might be outed. I sat there looking at my phone when my wife pulled up next to my car and got out. She opened my door and sat in my truck and then asked, “Jason, are you OK? Aren't you going to swim?”

I am sure I lied about why I didn't swim that day. But I felt so empty.. so on edge.. so certain that it was all about to be discovered that I told her that I just didn't feel like swimming. In honesty, I felt like every moment with her was going to be the last so when she asked me if I wanted to stay home that day I said, "Yes… I would like that." I think that was the moment that I knew today would be the day. I was filled with a weird combination of both fear and relief.  I don't know who suggested it, but we decided to go on a bike ride.

We loaded our bikes and headed to the park where we liked to ride. As we pulled into the park to unload the bikes from the truck, my phone rang. It was one of the high council men from the stake. He asked if he could stop by and see me today.I put on my Stake presidency hat and said “Whats it about? Is it something we can talk about on the phone?" He said, "I would really rather talk to you in person." I said "maybe later today?" I could think of no reason we would need to chat in person.

I hung up and the uneasiness of my inevitable exposure became crippling inside. Why did he want to chat in person? He is on the high council and he knows the family of the woman I met online from the other ward. In fact he is in the same ward as her father.  Did he know? I felt that one way or another, this was going to come out today.

We went on our bike ride. Still in total panic, I rode in silence… and way ahead of my wife. All the while I was thinking of how I would continue my lies. Could I possibly cover it up? Could I play off of the fact that I made some people upset at me as a bishop? Could I convince them that I was an innocent person in the middle of it all? As the tires turned against the pavement the lies kept churning in my mind.

We rode 4 miles without a word to each other and reached our destination. I was still in no mood to talk. I was so fragile right now. I was certain that I wouldn't be able to mask my shame and worry.

After a very short break, We turned around and began the return trip. The way back was a different experience. I knew that when we returned to my truck we would have to talk. I did not want to talk. Talking would betray me now. I could not possibly cover up the mountain of lies that might be exposed and so, my thought process started to change on the ride back. Instead of lies, I began to consider truths.

The truth was, that this was coming apart and my ability to hide things was becoming impossible. The truth was, I hated myself and everything I had been doing and wanted out of this darkness and deceit for good. The truth was, I had wanted to confess for so many years and could not find the courage. The truth was that I was so tired of lying… about everything.

So as we approached the end of the ride and I looked back to see Victoria behind me, I decided to call out to her, breaking my self imposed silence. “ You doing okay?” I called out. I could see the pain on her face and I knew. I knew she was not doing okay.

In response to my question she looked at me and said, "Jason...Do you promise there is no Alice?”

My response was knee jerk and instinctual. My lying mind began to spin a tale as I said… “um.. Victoria… Its not what you think.” But in truth, it was exactly what she thought and suspected.

We were getting closer to the truck and I could see she was starting to cry. I could see she was breaking down. I just needed to get her into the truck. This wasn't supposed to happen on a bike path in a park. We needed to be in the truck.

Then She asked me point blank, “Jason are you having an affair?”

As I loaded the bikes, she began breaking down.

"Jason, are you about to tell me the worst news in my life? Jason just tell me now, are you going to destroy my life?" she wailed.

I finished loading the bikes and we got into the truck and sat there a moment. Finally, she said, “Jason, tell me… Who is Alice?”

And then, I lost complete control. It all started flowing out of my mouth….. word after word of my deceit, betrayal and addiction.  It continued to expel from my mouth like the bile that it was to her ears. It filled the front seat of the truck and entered into the emotionally fragile and tortured woman next to me.

I spoke of the years of pornography addiction and the inability to get free,  the path it had led me down, the darkness I had been surrounded by, the performance I had played in living a double life,  and finally,  I told her of the 2 month long affair.

Next came a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life. She began a slow, long, painful, life ending wail that carried on and on. It was far too much for her too take. I let her cry in agony for several minutes and then came her first words. ”No No No No No No No No!” With head in her hands she began rocking back and forth in the front seat. All I could do was sit there in silence, watching her cry while my own tears streamed down my cheeks.

I can't remember the last time I truly cried before this. It may have been years… perhaps decades. But this day, as I sat there watching her heart shatter and scatter into a million fractured pieces, I wept.  In that moment I felt her incredible pain and I saw the enormous weight of truth that began to weigh her down deeper and deeper into her seat as she collapsed without strength against the dashboard,  her face streaked with tears.  Unable to verbalize the hurt and betrayal,  I sat in silence as I listened to the aching guttural sounds of one who has just received the most incredibly hurtful news of her life. The ache of her voice became a distant sound as I found myself sinking into my own guilt, shame and despair. I silently slumped into my seat as she poured her heart out in agony, and I, unable to bear her pain, discovered myself escaping into my own empty, worthless hole.  It was all over. I had destroyed the heart and trust of the woman I loved most in this world. I had stripped her clean of all self worth and left her naked to suffer the most unimaginable and destructive news she could ever have expected to hear. 

I became lost in my thoughts. I was numb, contemplating how I let things get to this point.  How did I become so self obsessed, so selfish, so blind to the pain my action would cause those closest to me? In that moment of self reflection and disgust,  I realized I was feeling another emotion…. something I had not anticipated as I had practiced this scenario playing out in my mind.

The feeling I was experiencing was a sudden lifting of 25 Years of weight. Unexpectedly, I felt a burden of lies and deceit lift from me. My 25 year old secret had finally been exposed. Finally, after years of hating and self loathing and promising and swearing to stop, after years of filth and degrading images and actions, after convincing myself that I would never have the opportunity to take advantage of the Atonement because I would never confess, therefore it would never be available to me….. after all of that weight……. I suddenly realized that I was free! I was free of the grip of Satan,  free of the non stop lies, free of the personal hate.  I realized that I just did something I thought I would never do, and so I had a sudden feeling of gratitude and a spark of joy as I discovered that perhaps now I do have access to the Atonement after all.

As I was considering these thoughts and feeling the weight of my darkness and lies lifted and lighten just a bit,  I was pulled back to reality as I physically saw the weight shift from me directly on to my weeping wife.  That is when she began repeating over and over,, “I want to die… please just let me die….. Please… I can't do this…. It hurts too much…. Please let me die….”

My momentary joy was shattered in the cries of the one who I knew I could not live without. As Victoria began screaming her death cry,  I understood the true reality of my situation.  I may have begun the unexpected repentance process with my confession,  but now I was about to witness the loss of everything I held dear. Now would be the moment when she asks me to leave.  Now would be the time when she tells me she is taking the kids and heading to her parents' house.  Now is the moment when everything in my world comes to an end.

I braced myself for the words that I had prepared myself to hear.  I knew they were coming… and after all I had done… I deserved them.  I was ready for her to hate me.  I was ready for her to kick me out. I was ready for divorce.  I was ready for my life to end.  I was not ready to begin slipping back into my self made darkness.  However,  I knew very well that that is exactly where I would find myself if left to battle my disease alone.  But these were the words I deserved and so I braced myself to hear her say that all was over and that I should leave.

I was not ready for what happened next. I poured out my apologies and told her in all sincerity how much I loved her and how I could not live without her.    Knowing that the ball was completely in her court I simply said, "what do you want me to do? Do you want me to leave?"

Through her tears,  through the hurt and pain, she simply said  “No… Jason, I am so completely hurt and destroyed right now. I want to tell you so many things but here is what I know. I did not marry to get divorced. You don't get off that easy. We are going to work this out. We are going to fix this.”

I was caught completely off guard by her words. I was stunned. Shocked is a better way to say it. Everything was lost and suddenly I had been given a second chance. I always knew my wife was an angel.  I always knew I had married someone far more spiritual than I. She is someone who tries to live her life in line with the Savior, but until now,  I didn't understand her capacity to love and forgive. In that moment I felt rescued.

She said…” Jason, this hurts me. This is painful to me because I Love you. I love you. I hate what you have done but I am not going to throw away our 17 years together.”

I began weeping uncontrollably. I can not express to you what those words meant to me. In my mind I was to be lost and alone. I had so many times envisioned the way my confession would be handled.. I had imagined the loss of my family, my membership, my friends. I never considered that she would be willing to forgive. I never dreamed that within the first hour of my confession, she would be able to look at me and tell me she would stand by me and together we would get the help I needed to beat this once and for all.

I fell into place and said,  “Victoria… I will do anything… whatever you think we should do… I will do it. I want to prove to you that I love you. I want to show you you can trust me.”

She then began laying out a list of her requests. First and chief among them, we had to go and see the stake president Immediately. And so we did. That was the most devastating day of our lives.  However, we both felt the Lord step in and rescue us.

It has been 15 weeks now since that horrific day.  I have been 100% clean in all aspects of my addiction.  We are closer then we have been in 17 years of marriage.  It is amazing what honesty can do.

In the past 15 weeks I have shared almost every aspect of my deviant and addicted lifestyle. We have begun attending Addiction recovery program meetings and we find ourselves talking about strategies for the future all the time. There have been many tough days. There have been several mornings where I have found her curled up in a ball on the floor as she has once again contemplated how this has happened to us. There have been thousands of questions and thousands of answers. Many have been very hard answers. I too have been incapacitated by the guilt and shame of my actions and selfishness.

But the Blessing of all of this have started to be made clear:
1. We have never been more close
2. We have never been more spiritual
3. We have never had more heartfelt prayers
4. I have never… in 25 years… felt so free…..

I know we have a long way to go and we are aware that we have upset the balance in Satan's plan to destroy our family. But we are so focused now.

I was excommunicated 2 weeks after my confession. I am hopeful that within a year I will be able to be baptized.

Satan tried so hard to make me fearful of my confession, to be afraid of all that would happen if I did come forward.   I believed the lies.  I made them my doctrine to never confess.  But now,  If I could go back in time, I promise you, .I would have confessed years ago. I would have shared it all to avoid the pain and misery I have put my sweet and wonderful wife through.  I Love her so much.  

Hey all.... this is Victoria! I just wanted to thank you for reading our story. It wasn't really my story but it has become my story. We have had so many wonderful moments as a result of this trial. We have also had some horrible moments. I have no doubt that we have been lifted and carried by many unseen angels over the last fifteen weeks. I have felt the Savior remove much of the pain. I sometimes think about all that has been lost (my husband had three affairs, 17 years of pornography and lies, countless on-line conversations with women, an excommunication, loss of his calling in the Stake presidency, the loss of our temple sealing and the loss of some levels of trust) and I wonder how it is that I am not a pile of goo on the floor? The truth is, I should be. But the Savior is helping me. He is taking some of those losses and carrying them for me. He is taking away the hurt. I rely on Him daily to just make it through. I still worry, cry, have nightmares, writhe on the floor in agony, worry and cry some more. But, it is getting easier as I see our path clearly marked before us.

Jason has been so willing to answer every single question I have, even if it is for the 100th time. He holds me when I cry and tells me that he loves me. He prays with me and reads scriptures with me and bravely goes to all of his meetings, despite the embarrassment. I am proud of him. I am proud of myself. I have a lot of healing to do but I can do it with the Savior's help!

1 comment:

  1. Wow and yikes and thank you. My husband and I are at the very beginning and reading your story Jason helps me get a glimpse into the thoughts of my husbands. As you know, the wife just wants to know WHY WHY WHY. And even with answers we still ask why because we can never understand. But thank you for doing your best to explain. I hate pornography! Best of luck to you both.