‘We’re broke. We’re $100 thousand in debt.’ He sent it to an online ‘camgirl.’ He is a porn addict, and has been since before he met me. I sat stunned, staring at him.’

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“Our weekend had been a whirlwind with kids’ activities, a date night for us, and the usual weekend chores. It was normal for us though; this was how we’d done life for as long as either of us could remember. We were good at it too. From the outside, we had our life together and were cruising through life with relative ease. Sure, we hit bumps along the way, but we were the couple that others wanted to be. We met challenges together, we were generally on the same page, and even after a decade together we had only ever had one major fight. I thought we were among the lucky ones. The ones who find their perfect match in life and build a strong, happy existence together. I was right – we were – but unknown to me, there was also a dark underside to our marriage I wasn’t aware of.

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I walked into the living room with a fresh beer in hand while finishing up a phone call, and sat down on the loveseat across from the sofa where my husband laid. I was ready to relax, to watch a show, and make our way to bed to be ready for the upcoming week. As soon as my eyes looked up at him on the couch, however, I knew something was wrong. He wasn’t relaxed and waiting for me, he was tense and had his hands covering his face. I could tell something major was bubbling at his surface and about to change our lives in some facet. I ended my call quickly, took a long sip off my beer, and took a deep breath before asking, ‘Is everything ok?’ I was not prepared for all that came next.

‘I lent a friend some money and it’s gone. We’re not getting it back,’ the words escaped from between his hands, his eyes still covered and unable to look at me. I was frozen, this was not like him. ‘How much money?’ My heart was racing as I asked, trying to gauge the level of devastation we were facing. ‘Five thousand dollars?’ ‘Higher,’ he barely managed between sobs. ‘TEN thousand? Twenty five? Fifty?’ My guesses climbed each time he shook his head no and I started to feel ill. I couldn’t wrap my head around how this much money could have made it out of our house without me noticing, or how we were even managing to live at this point. ‘We’re broke. We’re $100 thousand in debt. We can’t pay it back.’

I excused myself to the bathroom where I began vomiting and hyperventilating. I wasn’t sure what to do. I was mad he did this without talking to me, confused as to why, scared about what this meant, ashamed we were going to have to lose our comfortable life, and just plain shocked. I splashed cold water on my face, dried it off, and reminded myself in the mirror that I needed to get the facts. When I returned to the living room, I thought we were at rock bottom so we could start sorting things out, but I was wrong.

Over the rest of that evening I would learn that my husband hadn’t lent the money to a friend, he had sent it to an online ‘camgirl’ that he had forged some kind of twisted, relationship with over the previous six months. I had never heard of a ‘camgirl’ before, so in case you are not versed in these things, it’s an online prostitute paid to do X-rated things and to have cyber/video sex with strangers. I would find out in the days following that he is a porn addict, and has been since before he met me. I immediately regretted my hands-off approach to our finances. I had no idea what had been going on.

I sat stunned, staring at him as he laid on the couch across from me crying into his hands. I wanted to destroy him and love him all at the same time. We talked into the night, with all my fears and insecurities growing as I learned more about this other woman. She is beautiful, thin, young; while I looked at my average, middle-aged body and quickly felt a wave of inferiority shift over me. I couldn’t compete. Who could blame him? I was mad at him, hating myself, and disappointed in us both. I felt sick and sweaty at the thought of him sharing himself with her, sobbing most nights and begging God to make it all stop. I stopped eating, barely slept, and fell into a deep depression. Everything seemed like a bad dream and I felt like life was moving in slow motion as I tried to navigate through. To his credit, my husband has accepted full responsibility for all of this from day one and supported all my efforts to heal me, regardless of the outcome for us. Thankfully, the loans and credit cards he ran up were all in his name so my husband filed for bankruptcy on own and we were able to keep our home without me being impacted or a part of his filing. ‘Fixing’ the money was actually the easy part. I dove head first into therapy and books. I talked for hours on end and journaled every feeling I had. I wanted all of it out of my body and off my mind as if that would somehow make the hurt disappear faster.

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I started to see that while his actions were not my fault at all, my response to hate myself, falling into depression and self-loathing, was being fed by far more than just his transgressions. The best advice I got that I believe is vital for anyone in crisis came from Glennon Doyle Melton in her book ​‘Love Warrior.’ She said not to make a major life decision in the middle of an emotional crisis. I vowed to myself that I was going to take the time to love me before making a decision. I started my blog to keep getting my ideas and feelings out of my body, which has created a small online support system. I have found purpose and growth in helping other women sort through their feelings while also working through mine. I pray for them, talk with them, and sometimes just cry with them.

It is freeing to express what I am feeling without worry of what others would think. I am finally being honest with myself. I found a women’s yoga class and began to find so much peace every time I rolled out my mat. Surrounded by women who all loved one another and were focused on finding a better life was inspiring to be a part of. Feeling my body move in peace, falling in love with my body, and calming my spirit to focus on what is actually happening instead of what I perceive to be happening changed my outlook. I changed my inner voice to be a loving voice that encouraged me to be better instead of pointing out all my failures.

So, we started building back up. I focused on my writing and yoga, along with being present with him. I have surrounded myself with truths and words that make me feel good. We make sure our life has more date nights, more weekends away, and more intentional actions to show us both how loved we are.

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Through many hard, long conversations, and arguments we found what we need together and on our own. Today is the one-year anniversary of the day my life fell apart. I woke up next to my husband who is flawed yet honest, and has shown me much patience this year. I drank my coffee, met friends for breakfast, now I am curled up with my favorite quilt sharing a bit of my journey, smiling that perhaps my words will help someone else grow into the person they want to be, regardless of what is going on around them. I’m choosing to stay. Life is getting better every day now that I’m doing the work. The worst thing that has ever happened to us, has led us to a place that is better than we ever were.”

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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Johanna of The Patient and Kind. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blogDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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