Q: How did your family react to your disclosures? My husband and I have been in recovery quite a long time, but our children and grandchildren are pretty sure their father and grandfather hung the moon. When I even think about “coming out” my heart just sinks. How did you do it? Has there been a change in the relationship between your family members (especially grandchildren) and your husband?
A: Dear Mother and Grandmother,
Thank you for your honest and humble email. This addiction is so shaming to husbands and to us as wives that we do not want to face it head on because of the fear that it brings to our hearts.
Fear has controlled and paralyzed me at times. I know that fear and faith cannot coexist so I really try to have faith and push away fear but…occasionally it comes back.
Our children (7 of them and their spouses) all know my husband’s story. They learned it 7 years ago when my husband came out the last time. He felt that it was best for his recovery, which required total honesty, and for the potential recovery of our family, to let them know. And so he choose to tell them appropriately about his history and his desire for recovery. Pornography use affects the way individuals view the world and everyone around them, so though our children did not know about my husband’s behavior before his disclosure, they always knew something was wrong, and they knew that they did not feel emotionally close to their dad.
They now know that there are no secrets, and they understand better their relationship with their father. That honesty has helped other family members come forward and find help for problems that they probably would have never disclosed, without our example.
The recovery work that you and your husband have done can further bless your family in so many ways. If you choose to disclosure past behaviors to your family, this would be recovery sharing or sharing your testimony of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice and love in both your lives. It would not be a detailed confession. One religious example to me comes from the Book of Mormon, the Story of Alma the Younger. In this story after he has repented of his sins and “moved on with his life,” he could have hidden his terrible sins from his sons, but instead he often told his story. He used his story of recovery to testify of the Lord’s great love in his life, and he continued to remind his sons to rely on God’s Grace. His example was critical to the success of his sons in their missionary work. That has been the case in our family. The power of the God’s Atonement is very real in our lives.
As far as our grandchildren go, things are a bit different. We have 15 grandchildren 11 and younger. The two oldest know that I have written a book, and only our oldest granddaughter was aware enough to read the title and recognize what it meant. So… her parents sat down with her and explained the basics that Grandpa used to have a problem with pornography but now he has worked very hard to overcome it. She knows that we go to meetings and try to help others. I then talked to hear briefly and expressed my love for her and wanted her to know that as her grandmother I never want to keep secrets from her. I told her that Grandpa and I love each other and we work hard at recovery and Grandpa no longer does those kinds of things and works every day to be honest and help other people.
Her response was very comfortable and she said that she knew all those things and believed them. My feeling is that this information will bless her life in the future as her testimony grows and she learns more about repentance, forgiveness and the enabling power of the God’s Grace. She has always loved her Grandpa and me and this new information has not seemed to change that in any way.
Near the end of my book I wrote a short chapter entitled “What About the Kids”. In my experience and research, I believe that what I have written there is truth and critical for parents and even grandparents to understand. As a grandparent I believe that we must always respect the wishes and inspiration of our children who are parenting their own children.
I believe that my recovery has been a great blessing to my entire family. Grandchildren included. I am more available for loving relationships and fear rules my life less than it used to. I am a more relaxed, less controlling, more faith filled mom and grandma. And working at it one day at a time.
Thanks for writing.
Let me know how you feel after reading “What Can I do About