Porn Kills Love
It Killed My Love

Those of you who know me have probably wondered why my husband chose to take his life. I have debated whether or not to share this story…because it’s intensely private and intimate. I want to be respectful to him. Just because he killed himself and had these problems doesn’t mean he wasn’t an exceptional man. He was good, loving, and carried so much brightness. I enjoyed him immensely!

I also fear your reactions. He told only a handful of people about his addiction and it resulted in some extreme ugliness. He lost a dear friend over this. That makes me gun-shy. I also don’t want to ruin memories or make you question your perception of him. I don’t want to undo any of the good he left behind.

However, this topic is too important to ignore. It needs to be recognized and talked about so that when it happens to you, you won’t feel so alone and, hopefully, when you come across someone with this problem, you will react with love and support instead of disgust and judgment.

pklFor those struggling with this issue, get help. I know it’s hard. You fear people’s reactions, you fear that you’re not strong enough to let go, and part of you doesn’t want to give up your guilty pleasure. In the meantime, you wear your shame like a noose – and trust me, both your shame and your addiction are a noose slowly choking the light from your life. Don’t let this ruin your life. Please. Find someone you trust and get help.

I will write another post about his problem specifically. For now, this is how the events of his final days played out…

*******

I remember the dread I felt coming home after spending the morning in the hospital that day, knowing I’d have to tell our daughter her father was in a coma and would probably not recover.

I found out a year earlier that my husband had been struggling with a pornography addiction since he was a teenager. He had spent that past year in intensive therapy and seemed to be getting better, when the police found him alone in the desert one morning.

He had been missing for almost 24 hours. He was hypothermic, hardly breathing, suffering from extreme rhabdomyolysis from lack of circulation and movement, and barely alive. Permanent brain damage was inevitable from extended time without enough oxygen.

When I got the call, I rushed to the hospital and spent the day with him. I came home that afternoon, hating the fact that my words would cause our teenage daughter’s world to implode, so I delayed them and tried to act normal as she put away her backpack, got a snack, and chatted with me about all the ordinary little things she would soon find meaningless.

I asked her to sit on the couch with me so we could talk. “I love you,” I said with more gravity than usual. I wanted this one fact to pierce her first, to glue something solid, stable, and good to her heart before the next fact ripped it apart. “And I’m sorry, because I know I’m not going to do this right.”

The tears I promised myself I wouldn’t shed poured from my eyes. I took a deep breath and said those horrible words I’d been trying to find a way out of. Short facts I had told myself. Short facts are what she needs right now. “I got a call today from the police. They found dad. He’s in the hospital in a coma.”

Our daughter’s eyes immediately widened. She screamed a sharp “NO!” of denial while searching my face to confirm I had told her the truth.

Her body contorted in fear, pain, and disbelief. A rough, raw, wordless scream echoed through the house as she bolted from the room, trying futilely to outrun the reality of what she just heard.

I sat on the couch waiting, not knowing what else to do, doing my best to hide my own grief and not add that to our daughter’s burden. I couldn’t help thinking how she would remember my words for the rest of her life. I had no way to make them okay. To not sting and cut to her core. To not slice her world into tiny pieces forever.

A few minutes later, she returned to the couch, distant and changed.

Stone-faced. Cold. Her heart protectively walled-in and unreachable.

Sitting on the couch, I calmly explained our options, feeling numb and detached, as I ineffectively tried to keep myself from crying.

He never wanted to be on life support. A vegetable. We discussed respecting his wishes.

She agreed.

***

I couldn’t bring myself to tell family until the next day.

These are phone calls no one wants to make. I didn’t want to make the bottom drop out of their world like it had for us. I hated giving them such trauma. I could not do that the same day I told our daughter. It was too horrific a task.

His dad tried to hold back his tears. He was unsuccessful. His voice grew swollen, as if he had tried to swallow a softball and he couldn’t talk around it as the pain of it choked him. Eventually his wife took the phone from him. He couldn’t believe this was real; even after he came to the hospital and saw his son lying there in the bed. I hated seeing the grief that buckled his face. He was so close to his oldest son. This event hit him like the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. It turned his world black and toxic.

His mother screamed unintelligibly. Not once in our call did I understand her words. I called her again later with the same results. I stopped calling. Her heartache made her speech garbled, unable to articulate. We could only communicate via text.

His family gathered at the hospital for the worst one and a half days of the nearly 20 years he and I had spent together. We took him off life support, then watched him slowly die.

We bought food no one ate. We watched him breathe in harsh, sharp gasps – death rales. We sat with him. We took turns saying our private goodbyes to him. I held the phone to his ear so those who couldn’t be there could do the same.

We watched the monitors telling us his organs were failing. We witnessed his body grow distorted with fluid retention. We talked to him, sang to him, stroked his skin and precious face. We felt guilt and our own shame when the reality became too much and we had to leave the room because we couldn’t watch this wonderful man, son, brother, father, my lover, die.

A year later, I still wake up screaming from the gruesome memories of the nightmare we lived through in those somber days.

Sitting with him. Watching him die. I would put my face in his arm and breathe deep, knowing the time would come very soon that I could never do that again. I curled his swollen fingers around my face, wanting to feel his touch one last time, and then one last time again. Missing the way he felt before he was even gone.

The time would soon come that my hands would never feel the part of his arm that was my favorite. The back of his neck where I used to smooth his hairline. The crinkles on his face from all the times we laughed and smiled about the myriad of impossibly rotten things life served up for us to digest and conquer.

He died at 12:56 a.m. We were all in the room. I sat by his side, holding his hand. Caressing his arm. Whispering the private words we only said to each other. Words no one else had ever heard us say.

I remember being amazed at how quickly he exchanged the sickly color he had worn for days for another, more grotesque, color. How his arm was cooler to my touch in less than a minute. Much faster than I was ready for.

And then it was over. We hated ourselves for feeling the peace and relief of not having to live inside those moments anymore. Then came the new moments to live inside, and we hated those even more.

We held onto each other and quietly sobbed. Everyone slowly left, leaving me to answer questions from the medical examiner. I sat by my love and held his cooling hand as I answered. I remember looking at my darling’s face several times, expecting him to answer the questions I couldn’t, momentarily forgetting he was gone.

Not wanting to be without him quite yet, I found a dark empty room and cried while the medics prepped his body for transport, then watched as they rolled my favorite person past me down the hall. Zipped inside a black vinyl bag.

I followed him to the parking lot and watched them load my love into a van.

They drove away and I sat and cried. Alone in my car. Truly. Alone.

I opened the door and got sick on the pavement.

My hands still smelled of him and I inhaled that scent as I kneaded them, knowing they would never hold his again. His short thick fingers. The part of his palm that was ridiculously meaty and strong. He had the toughest hands. Calloused and always cut or cracked somewhere from the way he refused to wear gloves as he chopped wood, tore cars apart, and gripped the ungrippable.

He was so hard on his hands. They were scratchy and uncomfortable on my skin.

I missed them.

It was the first time in days that I didn’t have to be strong for others. I sat in my car heaving my mourning into the bitterly cutting November night. I screamed and shook violently with tormented heartache for an hour or more until the cold numbed my hands, face, and tear-soaked shirt.

I wasn’t angry with him for taking his life. For taking himself away from us. I knew his reasons, his feelings behind this act, and I couldn’t fault him for feeling them. My husband, my love, decided to take his life rather than live with the consequences of his addiction. He thought this was the only way to take away the weight of porn in our lives.

He didn’t want to burden us with it anymore. He didn’t want to have to see the damage he had done. He couldn’t live with the way he had ruined our trust in him. He wanted to be a good man. He wanted to be a good father. A good husband. He hated the way he was responsible for porn destroying everything.

I knew his reasons and I accepted them without agreeing to them, yielded to their terms because I had no other choice. I wished it wasn’t the solution he chose. I did not love him less or think less of him because of his final act.

I only loved him.

I wanted him back.

He’s never coming home again. Our lives, everyone’s lives, are hollower without him.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Nancy C Waugh

    I don’t know how to Like this. So much love and so much sorrow. So much pain and again, so much love. Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry. Still. And Still . . . I have so much Love.

    I am grateful for understanding better, and do not love or respect him any less.

    Reply
  2. Heather

    My heart aches for you, as always. This is a beautiful tribute to the heart-wrenching last days of a wonderful man. I love you.

    Reply
  3. Cousin K

    I remember going to see your brother in addiction recovery as a child. I wanted him to know, and thought if I could just convince him how much I loved him he would be all right.

    I have felt at many times throughout my life that if I just loved _______enough he/she would understand eternity/covenants/the gospel enough to make the choices that would keep us together forever.

    I have seen the same contortions of love that I have felt on my son’s face. It happens when he knows I am beating myself up over my flaws and weaknesses, times when I am feeling horrible about myself and he just keeps saying, “But I love you.” Or “I want to be a family forever.” as if the power of his love would turn me into an angelic person or dissolve the anger that sometimes happens in our “happy” home.

    Sometimes I tell him,”Oh sweetie, I know you love me, there is just something wrong inside of me right now.”

    Then I fight those feelings and work on it and keep going.

    Right now I am studying 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. Our Stake President said that if we ask for our trials to be taken away and the answer is no, then we should turn it to God’s glory. I am trying to figure that out.

    When I read your story, I hear your love over and over. It is so important and true and real.

    I wish I could understand everything, but I do know that he didn’t die because of a lack of love.

    If it means anything, please know that I love you too. 🌸

    Reply
  4. Kathryn Dean

    I love you so very much! No one of us ever knows the secret sorrows of those we love most. We just look on and ache to be able to help, knowing we can’t. I am here if you ever want to see me again, but I will always love you and keep you in my prayers. I do not want to intrude in your life, just to be here if you want me to be.

    Reply
  5. dana

    I heard some things. Things I didn’t want to hear. I wanted to know the truth. You are amazing. Thank you for this. Bravery.

    Reply

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