I Wish Someone Had Told Me...

I have been a part of a small group of wives and partners who challenged the prevailing treatment model and its practitioners through online forums and blogs, as well as in my free videos on YouTube. The more I researched the model, the more disturbing it all was. Some of the key spokespeople were stunningly limited in critical thinking capacity, and others flogged their wares as “Christian” programs while having no credible results to justify any claims. In fact, when you put all the players together it was like what I sometimes referred to in congregational ministry as “bad church”—a free-wheeling outfit of unaccountable self-justifying “specialists” who promised a gospel they couldn’t deliver, took your money, and blamed you if you didn’t get what you expected out of it. In the face of this travesty of care for both partners and the men called sex addicts, how could I stay silent?

But what I wish someone had told me wasn’t about this godawful industry or about my “from the start” doomed marriage. I wish someone had told me that saving myself would be the loneliest thing I ever did. Were it not for a small crumpled heap of women I met online who were in similar circumstances, I could have rented my life out as an airplane hangar. No one was interested in what I was doing or how I was doing, even though it would turn out to be the singular most important thing I ever did.

Family and friends kept a polite distance. Colleagues disappeared me. I was discussed but never a part of any discussion. When I tried to connect, to share, to break through, most often I was met with suspicion, criticism, and even accusations that I was doing things that I wasn’t doing at all. I had absolutely no idea that saving myself would be as offensive as it turned out to be to people I thought cared for and respected me.

The point is that I learned women are not allowed to save themselves without paying a social fine. Still. Even when they’ve lived a life in service to others. Even when they’ve practiced honesty, compassion and respect in their relationships—albeit in context of human frailty and imperfection. Even when they've been a good mother. Even when they’ve played by all the rules. I wish someone had told me that saving myself was going to change every relationship I had; some for the better and many for the worse. 

And although I wished I had known this, knowing this would not have changed my choice to do it. In spite of what I lost, I gained my life. And it’s hard to live your life without it. So, instead of sacrificing myself to save him or the marriage, I did the opposite. I honoured the sacredness of my life. I valued myself. I wrapped my arms around the only life I would ever have, and loved myself well again. And if my marriage could not be sustained because I did that, then I had not married someone who loved me, cherished me, or honoured me. And if other relationships could not be sustained because I did that, then they were not relationships that could sustain me.

Has saving yourself crossed your mind? Or, has it never even occurred to you?

You should not have to pay a social fine for requiring truth, honesty, safety, respect, fidelity, love, and loyalty in your primary relationship. And you should be celebrated for saving your life when those who could have, didn’t. Misogyny isn’t a game. It’s a purpose. And if you go off-purpose, you will pay. But you will have your life back. And, as it turns out, it’s the only one you get and you are, in fact, its steward.

If you want to talk about what it means to save yourself, your story is safe here.

With you,

Diane

Diane Strickland