“I need to be transparent with you,” my husband said. And I froze.

Those dreaded words. Those honored words. Those words that I’ve heard time and time again.

I’ve heard them at times in my life where my neatly stacked house of cards would wobble and threaten to completely come crashing down. I have heard those words at times when I didn’t know if I even had the strength and courage within me to get through that very moment.

Those words, genuine and vulnerable as they are, honest and gentle as they may sound, always felt like a punch in my stomach, almost taking my breath away as I would wait for the rest of the bomb to fall.

“I gave in to my craving and watched porn,” he said.

Silence. What exactly is one supposed to say? “Thanks for being so honest and transparent with me”?

All I wanted to do was scream and yell like a child, “Nooo! It’s not fair!”

“I need to be transparent with you." Just a few words and my entire world felt like it was caving in. Crushing me.

Again.

My hopes, my dreams, my trust... shattered. Anger. Sadness. Loneliness filling its place.

I was married for 4 years, with two children when I found out about my husband's porn addiction. I didn't think we stood a chance to pull through the storm.

I was 24 years old, married for 4 years, with two children in tow and I was pregnant with a third when I found out about my husband's porn addiction. My world turned upside down and it became very dark at that time in my life. In my extreme pain I miscarried the baby I was carrying.

What was the point? I assumed that we did not stand a chance to pull through the storm.

I sat in front of rabbis and therapists and begged, pleaded, for an easy way out. It would be easier to throw in the towel on our marriage. After all, I didn’t sign up for this!

It’s been almost two decades now. Two decades of this life of mine, being married to a porn addict. An addict in recovery.

Day in and day out I have chosen to stay. And that has been the best decision I've ever made in my entire life. I’ve been through all the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Yes, of course my situation comes with the pain and discomfort of holding onto fears, trauma, and uncertainty... I constantly need to keep my anger and ego in check. It takes work. And loads of faith.

Working on myself to do what I can do and let go of anything else that is not in my control. “Let go and let God” as is famously often quoted from the 12 Step Program. My husband quotes from that program often; it's his second bible. Learning what I can do to be a support to him, trusting myself in knowing when to ask questions, when to be involved, or when to turn a blind eye. Learning to practice self care and compassion with myself was and still is crucial. Learning how to live a beautiful and full life within this reality of mine.

Learning how to fully trust again. Live again. Respect him. Love him. It is possible.

Learning how to fully trust again. Live again. Respect him. Love him. It is possible.

The worry never completely goes away but at times it fades into the backdrop of life. And sometimes, even for a few moments, I can almost forget all of these woes of mine and feel even ‘normal’. Yes, it is a life that I never signed up for. A path that I had no interest nor expectation to venture down. But this package that God gave me was by no means a mistake. It has been a path filled with tremendous opportunities for growth. Laughter and tears. Pain and joy. Growth and evolution that I never would have expected was possible for myself, and that I wouldn’t give back for anything in the world.

Seeing firsthand the hard work involved in the recovery process, I am filled with complete awe and admiration for this man and for anyone taking their recovery seriously. I have so much respect for his path to recovery. I am proud to stand by my husband's side and walk humbly next to him. We’ve been through a lot together, the ups and downs of life. We are raising a strong Jewish family side by side and I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else in the world but him.

Our sages have told us that you cannot judge someone until you’ve walked in his shoes. I can never understand the strong desires he has towards things that may harm him. It’s beyond my scope of understanding. I have weeded out all the judgment I once carried, and throughout the years of watching him work so hard on his recovery work I have replaced the judgment with support and respect.

We all have our issues. We might each have our own “addictions” or drugs of choice that we turn to when we are not in our best emotional place. It’s part of the human condition. We all have our work cut out for us in the years that we've been allotted. We are all works in progress.

I think I reached a turning point this past Yom Kippur. I was praying to God, asking Him to grant me another year. I looked at my husband who was standing in front of me, deep in prayer, and my prayer took on a different direction. I said, “God, look at him and how far he has come. He works so hard on himself. He never stops fighting the battle of his yetzer hara, the evil inclination. He has years of sobriety under his belt. He is your devoted servant in every way. You, God will give me another year of life, not because I necessarily deserve it on my own account, but because he deserves happiness and we deserve each other.” And I never felt so confident in any prayer I have prayed in my entire life!

For all those people who are living in this utter despair: Don’t give up. There is hope. Stick to the program. Believe in the process. It works.

If you work it, it can work for you.

Believe in the devotion of changing one's behavior and straightening one's ways. It is possible. God never gives up on anyone and neither should we.

Recovery is a process. It takes time, it takes patience, it takes everything you’ve got... one day at a time.