"Moments in time" is a phrase that keeps popping up in my head. I'm trying to get better at listening to myself, so I must think it's an important phrase for me right now, and right now I'm trying to do what feels right and what is best for ME. October 6th has always been a special day for my husband and I. It's the day, in 2012, he asked me to marry him. We went to the little town where we had our first date and he proposed at a picnic table right by the waterfall. It's an unforgettable and beautiful moment in time that I can recall with perfect clarity because it was the start of something new, exciting and wonderful. I still believe that to this day. But October 6th, 2019 is also a day I won't be able to forget...for a much different reason. It's the day that I finally and REALLY confronted my husband about his problem. Is that what everyone calls a D-Day here? I'm not sure what that means yet..maybe discovery day? In any event, I want to go back over the past, so I can see where we both ended up on this website. Because if you had told me on October 6th, 2012 that 7 years later I would be here, I would have told you that you were crazy. That's how arrogant I have been..is arrogant the right word? I don't know..That is my downfall, probably... thinking that after everything we've been through together that nothing could ever touch us or make me question that @Browns4life loved me..but this has... I want to write about everything that has happened but everything is jumbled in my mind. I'm afraid it won't make sense. I have to go back, before I can move forward. I want to go over our story so I can pinpoint those moments in time, both good and bad, that have lead us here. It feels weird to be here. Because it doesn't exactly feel real. It's not my husband, I keep wanting to say.. it's not B4L. He wouldn't and couldn't hurt me. But the truth is that he has and I will definitely explore why and how that happened but for right now I can just say that this hurts. It hurts to think that your best friend doesn't care about your feelings. It hurts to think that I asked him to stop doing something that I said would hurt me and US and he couldn't. And I know that it is the addiction and I want so desperately to separate the two things in my mind. B4L is the man and IT is the PA. I want those two things to be separate..Again, probably my arrogance in thinking that nothing should be able to shake the foundation of what we've built. Cause I gotta be honest with y'all, I really never thought there could be something that could do that. We are the couple that have people coming up to them saying, "You two look like you're so in love!" More than once over the years this has happened. I mean for Christ sake my maid of honor at our wedding started off her speech saying "B4L and Ash make me sick". lol. Meaning because we are so in love and we show it and don't care who sees it. It's been a running joke with our couple friends that we have, but if they could have seen us recently, maybe they wouldn't be making that joke... You see when I met B4L we were both broken people. Neither of us really understanding how broken the other was at the time.. But meeting him was like..it's like finding your way out of a cold, damp, darkness,and into the warmth of the light that is so bright and warm and peaceful... I know now, and he does too, that when we met, we should have not started a relationship. Both of us coming from the endings of our first marriages to each other was both beautiful and kind of dumb. Lol. But in the end, maybe necessary....I read someone on here saying that love is not a feeling, it's a choice. I don't know if I agree. I don't have a choice in loving B4L or not. I have a choice to stay married to him, but I have no choice in loving him. I love him. It's kind of like breathing to me. I have to do it. When B4L and I met, we fell in love, and like I said it just an awful time in our lives, and we made it work. It was hard work, no doubt, but worth it. He's worth everything to me. Even now, even all of this, it's still worth it. We've been through our crazy ex's and all of the crap they have done to us, seeing each other through the legal process of both of our marriages ending, custody issues for both his kids (his ex tried to move far way to marry some dickhead..another story for another day) my mother getting cancer and dying, his father dying, us building an addition on to our home together to fit our new blended family. I have 2 boys, B4L has 2 boys (who I consider very much my own children) and my much younger brother and sister came to live with us after my mom passed in 2014. We've seen each other through a lot and despite our crazy ex's, our crappy timing at starting our relationship, issues with the kids, and just life in general kinda sucking a lot at "moments in time", I found myself more deeply in love with B4L everyday. We had (and still do have) so much fun together. Finally, I found someone who wanted to sing songs with me in the car, to dance around like a weirdo, lol, to talk about politics and books and movies. We were both big into the sports teams of our big city near by, we both love action movies and sci-fi, and I save the best for last, we both love sex!! Which was a huge change for us both when we met. I should give background on us both, but especially B4L because I want to go over his history so that I can see that HIS problem is not about ME! There, I said it. This is not about ME. I'm fun, funny, smart, pretty cute, sexy, I like sex, I'm a good mother, I support my husband, I take care of all of our children, this house, the dogs, and I even try to leave some of that time to take care of myself..which I will be exploring more later in other posts hopefully. I don't deserve this, but quite frankly I don't think B4L does either because I know the real him and if anyone can beat an addiction it's my husband. Because if he can't then we can't be together, and I don't accept that. A little background on B4L, he grew up in a blue collar neighborhood with nice parents but they had him late in life and I know that affected the way they raised him. He has much older brothers than himself, as he is 43 and his brother is 20 years older than him. His mother was and still is very Catholic. The story that he has said is that when he was 12/13 he found one of his dad's playboy magazines and that started the PA. I think what propelled it further was when his mother discovered that he had been looking at them and she didn't handle it well. He has spoken about the shame that he felt over looking at nakedness and of course that is associated with touching himself and I believe it's just a whole shame cycle that started then. Later on he said as he got older he never felt very confident around girls. He was always their "best friend" and the "nice guy", which I think may have further fueled his PA because he wasn't they guy that girls wanted to be their boyfriend, just their friend. But I think I understand that porn was a way for him to feel like he wasn't being rejected and therefore the cycle continued. Furthering his issues with porn and sex was the fact that one of his older brothers was gay and contracted HIV and then got full blown AIDS. As a young man coming into his sexual awakening, I know that that suddenly made sex seem like a scary thing to B4L. My husband is 5 years older than me so in the earlier 90's I was still a kid but he was almost graduating high school and did have a girlfriend, but whether it was because he was shy and sweet or just because he was frightened of what real sex could mean, he didn't have sex with her. I maintain to him that if your parents teach you abstinence before marriage and you have a gay brother who dies from a sexually transmitted disease and you already feel awkward and shy around women..well, lets just say that I can understand how he could become a PA and why porn might have felt like the safe route to go. I'm not condoning, just trying to understand. More of his story is that after his brother died he met his first wife in college. He said she really wasn't that interested in him nor really he in her, but he wanted a girlfriend and she (sorta) liked him,so he went for it. His brother had just passed and he was trying hard to have new experiences and he pushed for the relationship to go further. From what he has told me (And I've met his ex so I can confirm how she is in person) she was as cold in the bedroom as she is in person. But he married her and had two children with her and stayed with her for 15 years (10 married, 5 dating). Then he met me... If you want to read more of his story he has his own journal in the over 40 section. Although, I guess I have put in a lot of details so you might not need to.lol So, now comes the part where MY story with my husband begins. As I stated before, the timing was really crappy, lol, but we were pretty much madly in love from the moment we met. Neither of us knew at that point really how broken the other was. I was coming from an emotionally abusive, sometimes physically abusive marriage and his was a sexless, loveless and friendless. He describes him and his ex as roommates.. After getting to know her a bit myself I can see that. I know she has her own issues and their marriage broke up because BOTH of them did not really try to make it work, but I do feel sorry for her..but more on that later,probably. The first time I think porn became a topic of discussion between me and B4L, I probably brought it up. I'm fun, flirtatious and sex doesn't scare me. I've had mostly healthy sexual relationships in the past. My first husband doesn't count for much so I won't count him here, but I would say that 95% of everyone else I've ever been intimate with has been fun and pleasurable experience. I didn't love them but I liked them and, like I said, I wasn't afraid of sex or showing affection. I will try to talk more about my feelings about sex and porn later, I think. But anyway, when I talked to B4L about it, I tried to keep the conversation casual. At that point, I hadn't found any porn or anything but we talked about his porn use in his first marriage. He admitted to feeling ashamed of it but I told him, what choice did he have? He had a cold wife who he couldn't have sex with and (if you go read his journal) did not make sex fun in the least. I told him that I didn't care if he did watch porn and that I wanted him to explore his sexuality. Again, obviously looking back now, I would have done that conversation differently but at no point did I ever want him to feel like I thought he was disgusting. I thought, and I think,rightly so, that it was a coping mechanism from a repressed childhood and first marriage. Again, not condoning because there are obviously other ways to cope with those things, but I was trying to be understanding and if I can admit that I was trying to look cool and fun. Besides, I was just arrogant enough to think "Well, he needed that with her, but not with me. I have sex with him, I love him, I touch him..he just does that for fun or when I'm not around him." But I didn't know then what I know now...I'm so sorry for my part in this. I did not try to enable his PA. I only ever wanted B4L to feel good about himself. At this point I had NO idea that he was addicted and that he secretly hated himself. Ugh and more ugh. ;( To finally get into the heart of this story, after B4L and I talked about porn use and I told him it was "no big deal, everybody does it, I just kinda want to set some guidelines for us as a couple." My guidelines, or what the hell, they are rules (lets not kid ourselves here) were that I didn't want him talking to anyone online. Looking at a video, eh, it bothered me but I was trying to be supportive, so I said it didn't and that I just didn't want him to talk to anyone. The second one was I didn't want him to pay for porn. Cause, really? It's free and we have 6 kids that need stuff so seriously, dude, not necessary! I also asked what he was into. Porn was new to me and I didn't know anything about it really. I think I had just gotten a smart phone and was a little too busy with two little boys to raise to think about using it. So, I thought maybe we could talk about it together. I thought if everything was out in the open that that would mean we were a super healthy couple. I guess I was half right. Lol. And I thought to myself, how cool I was being? (My arrogance again!) I wasn't going to be like his first wife. I was not about to sexually repress the man I loved. The man who had been through a loveless, sexless marriage and an overbearing Catholic mother who made him feel like he shouldn't express that side of himself? Um, nope. I was going to make him feel comfortable, no matter what the cost or toll it took on me. Honestly the porn addicted part of his brain must have thought I was a godsend. I do want to take responsibility for my part in this journey that we are taking together through addiction. I basically handed him some crack and said, "Have fun!" Yeah, I'm stupid sometimes. Getting into when this started to be a problem I would say that at first it caused minor fights. For example, I found an email chain conversation with him and some woman that he had been in a chat room with long before he even knew me and then I saw that they were friends on Facebook and I lost it over that. He unfriended her, no problem, apologized profusely and we pretty much went on our merry ways. After that it would be me finding something and maybe teasing him about it a little and him being embarrassed because at that point I was still trying to get him to be comfortable in his own skin. Or at least I thought that is what I was doing because I had no idea it was a real problem. But as I would find more and more things, (ie. like actually doing PMO in bed next to me when he thought I was asleep!) the arguments would become more frequent and he would say "I'll just stop", which would in turn make ME feel guilty. Yeah, makes sense, right? Ugh. There were signs that it was a problem along the way but I think we were both happy to ignore them because we were in love, we had great sex, we were best friends and everything seemed like it was under control. In fact B4L has even mentioned that recently. That he thought he had it under control and, for whatever that means to him, I think that he tried to. He tried to keep me and the PA separate. But inevitably, like most things, worlds collide. If I think about what caused the biggest problem it was really two bigger incidents. The first was that I had been asking him if we could go away together. Just a weekend away, nothing big. We have a schedule set up so that our kids are all with our ex's on the same weekends so we do get kid free weekends. I asked and he said he didn't think it was in the budget. At this point I felt resentful of that but did try to understand. Right after that though I found more porn on his phone and not only did I find more porn but I found that he was paying it for it!! It was $300 in videos!!! So, I confronted him and told him that it was a bunch of fucking bullshit that he could pay 300 bucks for naked people doing yoga (yeah, really tame, actually, I know, but I didn't give a fuck) but not think to save money to spend time with his wife. He was mortified, agreed with me and immediately set about trying to get his money back(which he did) and also suddenly found some money to take his wife on a weekend trip to the city. We did try reconnecting on that trip and he said he would give it up. I know I didn't believe him and he didn't believe himself but for that moment in time we were okay. That was in 2016 and that's probably when the addiction was really starting to take hold. During that time his ex wife had met some douche bag that she said she was going to marry. He lived 60 miles from us (we lived in the same town as her, and the kids all went to the same school) so she was going to just up and take their kids with her. That is when we had a custody battle on our hands with her. We won, btw, but at the time it was a real possibility that our family that we had worked so hard on was going to be broken up and it was a very stressful time for both of us. Instead of turning to me, I know that B4L turned to the PA, because as he said in his post, porn was always there for him and I'm pretty sure IT had him convince that I couldn't be. So, I guess that was D-Day 1? D-Day 2 was in 2017. I really went through periods of time where I didn't look for anything. We were happy and in love even if the doubts about him stopping the PA crept in my mind, I think I just tried to brush them off because I love him. That's pretty simple. I love him... Anyway, D-Day 2 was not only finding more porn, videos and things like that but finding that he had joined Patreon and was paying a monthly fee for videos and pictures of some girl on there. That was a big fight when I confronted him with that. I remember sitting in the truck as we were driving to pick up our youngest at school and he knew something was wrong so he asked. Something to know about me is that even though I do hold in feelings a lot (going to work on that) normally if you flat out ask me what is wrong then I'm going to tell you. So, I told him what I found and I cried and screamed and yelled and when I was done I softly said "I hate you"...which makes me cry right now just writing those words... Because I did hate him at that moment in time. I hated him because I was trying SO hard to let him be comfortable with sex/sexuality and just his own body but he couldn't fucking follow a simple rule like "don't pay for it?" Oh, and I also forgot to mention that he was writing to the girl who was selling her pictures and videos asking for them because he hadn't received them yet. Now, rational me gets that if you pay for something, you should get it and I get that that is why he was talking to her. He did not tell her that he thought she was beautiful, do not compliment her in any way but I gotta tell you that I just didn't give a shit about that!! To me it looked like he was a pathetic old man begging some stupid chick (who was NOT prettier than me, btw, lol) for her naked pictures and videos. I don't think, up until that point, that I felt more anger and hatred for anything. Because I felt like @Browns4life had broken me down and I was REALLY starting to hate MYSELF!!! How fucked up is that? I felt like how dare you make ME feel like shit? I have sex with you, do pretty much whatever you want, we have sex, we make love, it's intimate or at least it was up to that point. But after that, after me telling him that I hated him, it stopped being intimate for me. I started to really resent him. This is new for me to admit to, but it's true. He IS still the same guy that I married that I love with all my heart, but the trust that I had for him was gone as I thought that he no respect for me or my feelings anymore.That time he did actually quit and made it 14 days without PMO but it called him back and we settled back into our old routine again. He had apologized, told me that he hated himself, wanted to stop and that he only loved me..I believe all those things. I really do, but he still didn't stop. So, I guess that brings us to October 6th, 2019. Our engagement anniversary...We didn't really celebrate because we had the kids and we did our normal going to grandmas house on Sundays that we do. At his moms, I picked up his phone to check the score of the game while I was making dinner and I saw there was incognito tabs open.....ugh. I did NOT find porn but I did find an app that was clearly a spying type app that you could put on someone's phone. Just to be clear there had been times when I had found apps that were like webcams to things and it looked like to me that he was checking out how to use it. I don't know why, because it clearly wasn't porn, but to me it freaked me out. Because I thought he could be using it for anything and it REALLY triggered me. Turns out he was trying to see if we could use it on the kids phones because, they are getting older and we like to see what they are up to. So it was innocent but he was downloading "spying" type apps without telling me and it reminded me of all of the issues we had had. I just started yelling at him, saying, "Just once I'd like to pick up your phone without finding something" and then I said "I don't trust you" I never thought I would say that him. Understand that when I told him that I hated him, it came out very small and not really believable. When this happened, I looked him right in the face and said "I don't trust you." Clearly that had an impact because a bunch of things on his end spilled out. That he knows why I don't trust him and that he is going to stop PMO. And this time, he says it is real and that he needs my help and that is why we are both here. So, I guess that brings me to today with the phrase "moments in time" stuck in my head. It's been 2 weeks since B4L has PM'd (seems like a dumb phrase to me, btw, because I always will see that as private messaging. lol We are keeping the O part because we need to. More on that later too.) It's been a very bumpy roller coaster ride. Lots of really high, highs and low, lows. Some of these moments in time, I've been thinking of have lead me to recently tell my best friend, partner and lover that I couldn't give him the answer that he wanted when he asked "You're not going to leave me.., right?". I wanted so desperately to say "Of course not. What are you talking about?" But I couldn't.. It felt terrible to say but also freeing in a way. I told him that I can't be in a relationship where I am not respected and also where I don't trust him to be honest with me. Difficult to say and difficult for him to hear but he said that he needed to hear it. But other moments in time, recently, remind me of how much I love him and how much that I know, in spite of this addiction, that he loves me. I can see him REALLY trying to get a hold of himself (really bad pun, but he likes bad puns ) and I'm seeing that he is understanding that this has caused damage. We've talked every night about everything and are going to continue to do so because we both know what is at stake here... Those moments and all of the other moments that we have yet to create will help carry me/us through this journey we are on with this addiction. I'm not giving up and I won't give in. Because when I add up all of our moments in time together, I see something that I think is very much worth saving. I'll try to write when I can. We have 5 kids at home so time for myself can be tough in general but I'm working on that and ME too. Thanks for reading if you made it this far! -Ash PS. I don't really know if swearing is acceptable on these boards but sometimes it's necessary. I also can swear like a sailor when I'm pissed off so just a warning for anyone in the future in case it bothers them. I write like I talk. Lol.