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Libbi: Activist & Former Partner of a Porn Addict

By October 1, 2019 October 2nd, 2019 No Comments
EPISODE 7

Libbi: Activist & Former Partner of a Porn Addict

For this episode of Consider Before Consuming, we sat down with Libbi (name changed to conceal her identity), an anti-porn activist and follower of Fight the New Drug, to discuss her experience of being married to a porn addict. At first, Libbi says she and her ex-spouse were working on addressing his compulsive pornography habit, but later decided to go their separate ways after he revealed that he was never sexually attracted to her—and believed he might never be. Listen to Libbi’s vulnerable story as she opens up to our podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, about life with a porn addict. Libbi is just one of the over 4 million Fighters worldwide who have recognized the harms of pornography and have pledged to do something about it. To learn more about how you can get involved in this movement for love, visit ftnd.org.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Garrett: What is up, people? I’m Garrett Jonsson and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug. As those of you who are familiar with Fight the New Drug know, we act as an aggregate sharing science, research, and personal accounts to help others make informed decisions about pornography.

On this episode we sit down with Libbi, and she shares her own personal account of being married to someone who suffered with an addiction to pornography. Libbi’s experience is unique to her, and she’s chosen to share her experience to help others learn from it.

FTND would like to note that we continually encourage couples who are experiencing the impacts of pornography in their relationship to make decisions that are best for them. Sometimes, that means they choose to go their separate ways, and sometimes, that means they choose to stay and support each other through the struggles porn brings. It all depends on the individuals in the relationship and their unique circumstances—and we respect the decisions people make for themselves.

If you have been impacted by the harmful effects of pornography and/or other forms of sexual exploitation, we encourage you to seek help when needed, and do what is best for you and your unique situation. During our conversation, Libbi displays some raw emotion, which is understandable due to the trauma she experienced—listener discretion is advised.

Please note, “Libbi” is a pseudonym used to honor her desire to remain anonymous. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

We want to welcome to the podcast. Libby. Libby, welcome to the podcast.

Libbi: Thank you, Garrett.

Garrett: You’re welcome. Thanks for being here. Um, we know each other a little bit, right? But not very well.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: How many hours do you think we’ve actually interacted? [laughter] I’m just trying to give our audience an idea of how..

Libbi: I feel like probably two hours.

Garrett: Yeah. Total. Total, right?

Libbi: Yes.

Garrett: We first met in DC.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: So that was cool.

Libbi: Yeah. Very cool.

Garrett: And now we are, where are we?

Libbi: We are in the jungles of Guatemala.

Garrett: That’s kind of a weird thing to realize actually because we’ve only known each other for, I mean we’ve only interacted with like a total of two hours, but we’ve been in two cool parts of the world.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: So that’s kind of interesting.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Well how did that happen? I guess we should give our audience a little bit of like background. Why were we in DC Why are we here?

Libbi: Yeah,

Garrett: Why were you in DC like a month ago?

Libbi: Well, I mean, in general, we were there for the, um, coalition to end sexual exploitation summit. Um, which was amazing and very, very cool. And I was going just because I wanted to kind of meet other Fighters and kind of get more involved and find my place in the fight. And I knew I was going to Guatemala with Fight the New Drug. I had already signed up for the trip. And so I was really excited to meet you guys and see if anyone was going.

Garrett: That’s cool.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And we were there the coalition as well and sexual exploitation because that’s a right in line with our mission statement. Um, I remember when you came up and said hi to us at the booth and you’re like, ‘I’m doing this and this and this and I’ve done this and this and this.’ And it was cool to see kind of your passion for the movement, for, for love and for ending sexual exploitation. And so I thought that was cool.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Um, yeah, the goal of the podcast is to talk about the harmful effects of pornography and also kind of help people consider, consider a life free from pornography.

Libbi: Okay.

Garrett: …using science facts and personal accounts. Um, well jumping into kind of your personal account, I think a lot of people will benefit from hearing your experience. We want you to share as much or as little as you want.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: But I think that the, the, the, uh, some of the stuff you’ve told me, I think that a lot of our listeners will feel catharsis and, and they’ll be benefited from hearing it. Um, can you talk to your personal account a little bit, your personal experience as to kind of why you’re passionate about fighting for, um fighting for love and ending sexual exploitation?

Libbi: Yeah, yeah, of course. I mean, Gosh, let me think about where to start cause it’s such a multifaceted thing for me. Um, well I guess the easiest place to start as my marriage cause I feel like it’s probably the most tangible thing for most people. Um, so… well, before my marriage, I guess I already kind of had a bit of, um, a drive to end sexual exploitation. Um, and I hadn’t had any really personal experiences or encounters or anything. Um, but it had always just been on my heart.

Garrett: Yeah.

Libbi: Um, I ended up getting married at 22, um, and two years in to the marriage, my husband, after some prodding came to me and, um, told me that he had an addiction to pornography. Um, and…

Garrett: so, um… when you were asking him questions, you mentioned like with a little bit of prodding, I think that’s the word you used.

Libbi: yeah.

Garrett: um, and he told you about his challenge with pornography.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Um, what was, what was your response to that, your initial like, in the moment response?

Libbi: Literally, well, let me tell you a story. The first time he told me, so the buildup to give you a little background was, um, he was in a band and he was on a national tour with them for, I don’t remember, maybe three or four months, and he’d only been gone for probably about a month, I think. And I had started having really, really, really bad like anxiety attacks and like just really struggling with depression, which I’ve kind of always had a little struggle with depression, but this was like very different. Um, and I was at home by myself in LA and I, um, I think we were texting one night actually, and I just kept pushing him and I was like, uh, like something is wrong. Like I know something is wrong. You like tell me like, what’s going on? And I started asking him really weird specific questions about, um, like girls on the tour and like what his habits were while he was on tour and little things kept coming out. He was like, Oh, you know, giving me little details here and there. ‘Oh yeah. Okay, okay. I did this.’ Or ‘Oh, okay, okay. I did this’, but nothing really major came out.

Garrett: You’re getting a vibe that something’s up.

Libbi: Yeah. Like just something in my gut was like, just wrong, like very un more than uneasy, like uneasy as an understatement. I was borderline suicidal. Like something in my soul was like breaking and I didn’t know why, cause everything was fine, you know?

Garrett: It appeared to be fine.

Libbi: Yeah. Interesting. So I told him, look, I’m going to Seattle tomorrow cause I was doing here in Seattle. I was, I’m going to see al tomorrow. You need to meet me. Like I’m, I can’t do this anymore…

Garrett: We need to have this conversation.

Libbi: Yeah. We need to have this conversation face to face like, and so he did, he flew to Seattle. We met, we actually went to go see our premarital counselor just for one session and um, saw him, I don’t really remember the session at all, but then the next morning I was, we were staying at my parent’s house. I was getting up, getting ready to go to have coffee with an old friend. And literally I was walking out the bedroom door and he was still sitting in bed and he just sat up and he said, “hey, I need to talk to you.” And so I kind of turned around and I was like, “okay, what?” And he was like, I think the exact words that came out of his mouth were, “everything I’ve told you is a lie.” And went on to tell me, you know, that he thought he had a pornography addiction and I don’t remember all the details he gave me in that moment, but basically it was probably five or six minute conversation of just, I have a problem. Everything I’ve told you is a lie. Everything I said in our session yesterday with our counselor was a lie. I’ve been covering up all of this and etc. Etc.

So, and I kind of didn’t have a reaction cause I was on my way out the door. I was,…

Garrett: Were you kind of numb? Like emotionally numb?

Libbi: Yeah. Because I was shocked, but I was also like not shocked at all.

Garrett: Were you kind of relived, that the truth finally came out?

Libbi: Yes. Yeah, yeah. There was a bit of like, oh, okay, this makes sense now. You know, like of course not relief. Like, ‘Oh thank God my husband has a pornography addiction’, but just relief that I’m not crazy. I don’t feel crazy.

Garrett: I can understand why that would be relieving.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Interesting. And so, so you’re hurt in that moment feeling a sense of relief because of the truth coming out.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Even though it’s truth that hurts.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And it’s betrayal, and…

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: I wonder if you felt some betrayal?

Libbi: Totally.

Garrett: And then also acknowledging his side is like, wow, he told the truth.

Libbi: Yes. And I, I think about this relatively often, but I have always been so grateful for that moment because I didn’t to find out, I didn’t have to catch him. I didn’t have to find anything. He was able to just on his own,… mostly. Yeah. Come to me and just finally take that weight off of his chest.

Garrett: Yeah. You know, one of my favorite quotes that comes to mind as you talk about this is like tell the truth even when it hurts, you know, it’s like so important for us as individuals and for our relationships. Interesting.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: So how long did you stay numb for in the sense of like the six minute conversation?

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: You leave?

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And then what was the, what was the duration of time where you kind of took a step back to analyze this?

Libbi: Honestly, I don’t really remember. Um, not very long because once he told me that, I don’t remember if I demanded it or if we decided he was not going back on tour, he quit the band. Um, and we went back to LA to just figure it out.

Garrett: Yeah.

Libbi: To just start working through things. So we found, um, an amazing marriage counselor down there. He was very, very helpful. Um,

Garrett: One thing that I want to acknowledge is like you guys sought help.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Right?

Libbi: Oh yeah. So much help.

Garrett: and you know what’s interesting is like, I think him telling the truth was him reaching out to you.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: In a way.

Libbi: Totally.

Garrett: It sounds like based on the way you’ve explained,

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Where did you go for help? Was the therapy your type of, was that your…?

Libbi: Yeah. Yeah. Really the, the therapy was my, my…

Garrett: Almost like, um, life jacket, like in that analogy?

Libbi: Yeah. Yeah. And I did. I had one friend in La that I really leaned on for a little bit and then, um, gosh, if I remember, I think I did go to my parents, maybe not immediately, but they were actually, even though it was an awkward conversation to have or many conversations to have, I did end up really opening up and it totally transformed our relationship. But that was another part or another…

Garrett: Aspect or another way you reached out for it.

Libbi: Yeah. Yeah.

Garrett: Did you feel, because when someone gets married, there’s this, there’s, there’s this contract, like the social contract. Yeah. And you’re both agreeing to treat the other person with respect, to love that person, to help that person, to work. Did you feel betrayal when you found out that…

Libbi: Oh, absolutely.

Garrett: Cause it’s like unfortunately because of his situation, he betrayed the contract. He broke the contract, that social contract.

Libbi: Yeah. Yeah, totally. I felt very allied to and betrayed. Absolutely. Yeah.

Garrett: So you guys start going to counseling and all this and I’m trying to, I’m trying to think like what advice, going back to that initial, that initial conversation when he told the truth.

Libbi: Yeah.
Garrett: Would you have done anything differently or would you wish that he had done something differently? Because I think some of our listeners will be in a situation where like they, they still haven’t told their significant other.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And then there’s going to be some people who just recently found out that their significant other has a challenge.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: So I would like if you can give some advice as like, cause your experience is valuable.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: First starting with him, would you, what do you wish he would have done differently to tell you about his challenge?

Libbi: If I’m being a hundred percent honest, nothing. I, um, because of the nature of everything. Like there’s no, there’s no way he could have told me sooner. Do you know what I mean?

Garrett: Because it was his timing?

Libbi: Well,…

Garrett: Like those things had to unravel in that way?

Libbi: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. And he, he offered that to me and I have always felt like that really, really was a gift.

Garrett: It’s a vulnerable spot for him.

Libbi: Yes.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: Yeah. So no, I honestly wouldn’t change anything.

Garrett: Cool.

Libbi: Of course. I mean it would be nice to know before we got married.

Garrett: Yeah. Well I guess maybe that is part of the advice in, in regards to an ideal situation

Libbi: Ideally it would be before you made a commitment.

Garrett: Yup. Or as soon as you can.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: If you’re in a position where you’ve already made that commitment special, so contracts, it’s like do it now.

Libbi: Now immediately. Like the sooner the better there is no, there is no too soon.

Garrett: There are no good time.

Libbi: No.

Garrett: Now’s the best time.

Libbi: Yeah, absolutely.

Garrett: What about for your side? Looking back, would you, I mean hindsight’s 20/20, but it’s like, would you have done anything differently? Would you give advice to someone who’s going through this?

Libbi: Okay. But here’s the thing is that the reactions lasted a really long time. Like that initial, that initial reaction, I wouldn’t change anything cause there was no, there really was no emotional reaction. There was no kickback. There was no, ‘how could you?’, you know, it was just, ‘I can’t talk about this right now’. Yeah.

Garrett: And the one thing that I want to acknowledge is like when you said like there was no, how could you or this or that. Some people react that way and that’s, that’s them though. Like it’s, you are an individual and you have your freedom of choice and you can react however you react. It’s like this new territory.

Libbi: Yes.

Garrett: How are we supposed to know?

Libbi: And I mean if I’m being totally honest. So after he did tell me and we went back to LA and we started our marriage counseling, um, we went through a disclosure process where he, with our counselor, he had to at any time, um, in instance of betrayal, if you will, popped into his head, he would have to tell me immediately or write it down and tell me that night. And so that process took basically four months, maybe a little more of almost every single day. New disclosures.

Garrett: Oh shoot, the only thing I, the only problem, I mean I’m not a therapist, but I’m just looking at your side and like shoot.

Libbi: Right?

Garrett: That’s like some ongoing trauma.

Libbi: Yes. And I, and I know that’s kind of everyone’s reaction to it and I totally understand that. And I, I, I do obviously agree, like I feel traumatized still a little bit, but it was so much easier to forgive him when I knew everything.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: I never had to wonder about anything. And when he told me a disclosure, I was supposed to be able to ask any questions I wanted to about the incident.

Garrett: Cool, so you get to put him on the hot seat a little bit.

Libbi: Oh, totally. I mean, come on. [laughter]

Garrett: [laughter] Cool.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: So it helped you?

Libbi: Yes, it did.

Garrett: It may help some, it may not?

Libbi: Yes.

Garrett: And you kind of decided that with your therapist?

Libbi: Yes. Yeah. And I would say, do not do this by yourself, a disclosure process like that you need to have professional help.

Garrett: He or she, because every situation’s unique.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: But to put that betrayal, to put those circumstances on you, just between you and him, that would have been an entirely different thing.

Libbi: Oh my gosh, yes.

Garrett: That wouldn’t have been tolerable.

Libbi: No, it wouldn’t have been. I don’t think it would have been healthy and we wouldn’t have known how to handle it.

Garrett: Yeah, and process that information.

Libbi: Yes, exactly. And so for us, we were only seeing our counselor once a week. So we would go seven days with new disclosures all week long and then we would go to see our therapist and process anything that needed to be processed.

Garrett: Wow. Why I admire you two, because that takes some strength and some patience.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Oh my goodness.

Libbi: But again, the trauma was real. You know, I was, I was bedridden basically for two months, like could hardly get out of bed, like not, it was not a good place to be. And I like though, I am grateful for it and now and I am grateful for the ability to be able to forgive him and walk away from the marriage feeling, okay. I, I would not wish that process or pain on anyone, even though I know it is necessary for a lot of people.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: So you guys are taking, I mean you’re working with a therapist.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: The process, like four months of going through this?

Libbi: Just the disclosure process. Yeah. And then we stayed, we were in therapy for about eight months total before we left LA with this particular counselor who was wonderful. Um,

Garrett: And at this time are you considering, are you guys moving forward with your relationship? Or are you considering divorce? Are you,…

Libbi: I don’t remember specifically, but I know the topic of divorce had come up of course. Um, button. We were not really seriously considering it. Uh, we, we stayed in LA for those eight months and then at, at some point we just decided, look, la is too much for this.

Garrett: For you, it wasn’t a good place to handle it.

Libbi: No. And for me I was very triggering because all of those instances that he disclosed to me, a lot of them did take place in LA.

Garrett: So you wanted a new setting.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: New surroundings.

Libbi: And for him as well because those triggers were also there for him. So it was a very…

Garrett: That can make it more challenging.

Libbi: Yeah, exactly. So we decided to leave. Um, there were a lot of different options. We were kind of looking at upstate New York for Awhile, which, I dunno why, but we ended up back in the Seattle area a couple of hours north of Seattle to be kind of close to family, close to our support system and just kind of in a small town again to kind of try to find our relationship, find ourselves. Um, and I don’t know if I’m jumping ahead, so I’ll ask questions if you want to. But we were home. We bought, we bought a Condo, so we were definitely on the marriage path. Yes, we were very, we were committed, um, even though, you know, separation and divorce had been brought up, but we were very not going that direct friend. And so we bought a condo and we moved up to Bellingham, which is where we were. And I think we’re home for about a week. Like we moved home at the beginning of December and it was right around Christmas because we were driving home from our family’s houses in Seattle and we had a very real conversation in the car. And we were, I think the words sound really horrible when they come out of my mouth now. But the conversation we had was just very real and very honest and very, very vulnerable.

We had gone through so much together at that point. We had, like, I had gone through so much with him, um, and he had seen me through so much in that disclosure process and through that therapy.

Garrett: At that point, you knew each other at a whole different level.

Libbi: Totally. And the thing for me, when, when you say we, like we knew each other on a totally different level, I would say I was getting to know him for the very first time.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: I never really knew who he was because as we were going through therapy, we, um, we’re coming up. Well, he had quite a big realization of this very, very deep co-dependence that also kind of, um, fed the lies because he wasn’t really ever able to voice his own opinion of what he wanted or needed in any given moment. And so even if we were, let’s say, ordering dinner and we were like, what do you want for dinner? And if I said, hey, what do you want for dinner? He would never just say, ‘I want pizza.’ He would think in his head, oh, I think she wants Indians. So I really want pizza, but I’m not going to tell her what I want because that’s not what she wants it. So I’m going to project what she wants and say, let’s get Indian.

Garrett: Interesting, so you were learning his thought process?

Libbi: Yeah, totally. And so I started learning things that he did and didn’t like, which I honestly had never known before. So like very deep seated codependence, which again was like very damaging to our relationship. And I mean every relationship that he was in really. So through this disclosure process, that was a huge part of it. Um, and something I want to touch on for the listeners who might be in this kind of situation, um, especially for the partners because this, if somebody is going to be going through some sort of disclosure process, whether it’s, um, facilitated or not, um, I just want to validate the partner’s feelings during this process because it’s such, um, what’s the word? Dichotomous? Like…

Garrett: I actually don’t know that word and we don’t have service on our cell phone.

Libbi: Okay.

Garrett: I’m going to use it because it might not be the right word. I’ll look it up and then realize we’re in the middle of the jungle.

Libbi: Okay. Nevermind. Okay. So let me explain what I’m trying to say with many less words. Um, every time a disclosure came out, my husband would say, this happened, I did this at this time. You were here. I would ask all my questions. He would get it off his chest, in this moment of, of disclosure, where he’s getting this huge weight off his chest or like a bunch of little weights every time. Right? And in those moments, you as a partner are having this, this, this,

Garrett: Do you feel like, do you feel like he, cause he, let’s use the analogy of a backpack full of little weights.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And he’s taking this weight off and is he putting it in your backpack?

Libbi: Absolutely. That’s exactly what is going to say was like, he’s taking this, what do the cinderblock off his own shoulders and he’s throwing it at your chest. Like it’s not even like, ‘oh, here’s the weight’

Garrett: Here, catch this!

Libbi: It’s like this expletive expletive, you know, like just like crushing your, your heart. You know what I mean? In those moments, even if it’s a little thing, it’s still like, that betrayal is so real in that moment.

Garrett: So to him it’s like maybe he’s pulling out this little weight, it’s like this little comment or this little idea or this little betrayal and he, it’s like, it appears to be little.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Maybe to some people, right? Then he throws it at you and it’s like this, it’s a real thing.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And that hurts.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And it’s not little.

Libbi: No, and it doesn’t feel a little.

Garrett: Because it’s not little.

Libbi: Really, yeah. Yeah, totally. But so just that, that, that contrast of he’s getting better and standing taller and, and discovering himself. And in that same moment you are like, like crumbling under this weight that is unbearable shoot. Right. And so…

Garrett: This is the whole process and like I admire, where are you at today; I’m like shoot. Anyway, keep going.

Libbi: Okay. Well in the, the last little bit of like kind of observation and validation is in those moments, um, the, the partner who has been using, if you will, is in this weird place of, um, I don’t want to say pride, but kind of pride. You know, like, “Oh, I’m so proud of myself. I’m finally doing it.” Which is legit. That’s legit. But you as a partner in that moment, you’re also kind of supposed to and really would like to be able to say, “Honey, I’m so proud of you for, for telling me this.”

Garrett: Celebrate some of those wins?

Libbi: Yeah. I, and I, and you want to encourage them because you want everything else to come out. You don’t want to shame them. You don’t want to, you don’t want to, um, deter them from continuing this process and being honest with you and learning more about who this person is. But it’s in that moment of being crushed under this weight. Sometimes it’s so hard to, to play that part, you know, to be able to say, “I’m proud of you.” Because you’re kind of in the moment. You’re like, “Are you f***ing kidding me?”

Garrett: Right.

Libbi: Excuse me. But, um, and again, I’m going to say I was not good at it sometimes I was great. Sometimes I was like…

Garrett: Well the thing is, you don’t have to be good at it.

Libbi: No.

Garrett: That’s not your job.

Libbi: Right. You’re right.

Garrett: It’s an unrealistic expectation.

Libbi: Yeah, you’re right.

Garrett: So you don’t have to be good at it.

Libbi: No. And there was…

Garrett: And your, the things you were feeling were one hundred percent valid.

Libbi: Absolutely. No, absolutely. Yeah. And I, I mean, I would be dishonest if I said there were no like screaming or shoe throwing or, you know,

Garrett: Right. Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you said that because those things can be embarrassing cause we act that way as human.

Libbi: Oh my gosh. I’m still embarrassed at like I have a specific moment in my head of when I just, I snapped, I lost it. And he told me one thing. And in this moment, again, I’m trying, I’m thinking, Oh my gosh, if I freak out right now, he’s never going to tell me anything again. But I literally cannot control myself. And I don’t even remember what I threw at him, but I just started screaming and threw something at him and I was crying and just going psycho. Right?

Garrett: Well not psycho.

Libbi: Which is legit.

Garrett: No, I don’t think you’re going psycho, I think you’re going sane.

Libbi: Yes, you’re right. No, you’re so right. Thank you.

Garrett: You know what I’m saying?

Libbi: Yes.

Garrett: I think you’re going sane.

Libbi: I mean, it’s not an ideal situation.

Garrett: Exactly.

Libbi: There is no ideal once you’re there. Yeah.

Garrett: That’s cool that you’d say that.

Libbi: So I just wanted to, I just wanted to touch on that because I want…

Garrett: I think a lot of people will feel validated in their experience.

Libbi: I hope.

Garrett: Because like you said, we’re dealing with sometimes unhealthy situations and what do you do?

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: So from there you guys buy a condo.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: There’s some progression. He’s still, he feels like he’s progressing. He’s throwing weight to you.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: You’re carrying that weight.

Libbi: Yeah. But processing through it really well with a very helpful counselor…

Garrett: So you’re still meeting with a counselor?

Libbi: Well we, yeah, we were up until like basically the day we left first Seattle. Yeah, no, we were, and then actually when we were in Bellingham, once we moved we did go see another counselor. But it’s harder to see another counselor after you have like a nugget of gold.

Garrett: I think that, like part of that process is just building a relationship.

Libbi: Yeah. Yeah. It was. Yeah. And that wasn’t great. I think we saw him twice maybe. And it was not, it was not a good fit and it was, it was a really difficult thing. But at that point we were not really on the marriage path anymore.

Garrett: How did those conversations start and was it, was it challenging to consider divorce for you?

Libbi: Um,…

Garrett: Did you feel shamed?

Libbi: Oh my gosh, yes.

Garrett: For having those conversations or those thoughts?

Libbi: I didn’t feel like shamed because I didn’t really tell anyone immediately, but I was like anticipating shame.

Garrett: Right. So you repressed those emotions, right?

Libbi: Yes. Yeah.

Garrett: If you had these thoughts but you didn’t know how to talk to anyone about them.

Libbi: Well, and also the thing is though, there were a few mainly in my family, but there were a few people who were already throwing the divorce word towards us before we even were, you know, um, that were like, “Maybe it’s time to consider this.” you know, “Maybe, maybe this isn’t a healthy place for you guys to be.” Um, nobody was really, like, “You should get divorced!” But people who cared about me especially were definitely wary of me staying in the marriage.

Garrett: Yeah.

Libbi: Not everyone, and especially not like distant friends or acquaintances. I’ve, there were a lot of people who were not supportive. And of course, it’s not something we wanted and it’s not something any of our families wanted. And it was uncomfortable. Um, so that, that was, that was difficult going to our you know, our, our, …

Garrett: Now it’s almost like, it’s almost like now it’s your time to tell the truth, even though it hurts.

Libbi: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, I guess. It really,…

Garrett: Because he… sorry, go ahead.

Libbi: It wasn’t that hard to finally say we were getting divorced because for me there was so much relief in finally saying like,…

Garrett: “We’re going to go our separate ways.”

Libbi: “We’re going to go our separate ways.” And so for me to finally realize like, no, my life, like my heart and my soul is worth more than keeping this marriage together that is destroying me and really both of us. Like it’s not healthy. It’s not good.

Garrett: So in your experience, do you think divorce was healthy for you guys?

Libbi: Absolutely.

Garrett: Cool.

Libbi: Yeah. No, I have no question about that.

Garrett: That’s good.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Um, fast forward to today. How long has it been since you guys got divorced?

Libbi: Um, four years ish.

Garrett: Nice.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And do you, we’ve talked about this a little bit in our two hours of conversation before this conversation.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: But um, you guys stay in contact?

Libbi: Yeah. Relatively. We’re not like best friends.

Garrett: Yeah.

Libbi: But we catch up every few months.

Garrett: Cool. And do you think it’s been healthy for him as well? I mean I should probably be asking him.

Libbi: Yeah. Right.

Garrett: In your opinion, do you think it was healthy for him as well? The divorce?

Libbi: Um, I hope so. I really, I don’t know cause I, I don’t at some point, like when we first got divorced, we did talk a lot about, um, more intimate things because we were kind of still on this like vulnerable therapy path that we’d been on together for so long. And so when we got divorced, we still kind of process the divorce together. We even went to divorce, like divorce recovery classes together.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: Like, so we continued processing the divorce through afterwards. Um, but a couple years into it, I guess maybe a year into it, I, you know, there’s boundaries and those boundaries kind of came up naturally and I don’t really want to broach that subject with him.

Garrett: I actually liked that a lot because, do you know who? I talk about her too much, Brené Brown?

Libbi: Okay.

Garrett: One of the things she talks about is boundaries. Like part of being vulnerable isn’t just that,… you have to have boundaries.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: That’s part of vulnerability.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: Yeah. But also I want to just before I forget, make sure again, especially for the listeners who are on this path, um, everybody is different. Like every relationship is different.

Garrett: One hundred percent.

Libbi: And I truly do believe, um, sometimes divorces very necessary and very healthy.

Garrett: And the reason why you believe it, one of the reasons is because you experienced it.

Libbi: Yeah. Well my divorce that I’m, I will forever be grateful for. Interesting. Um, but the end, the, the, the kind of cherry on top, if you will, like the end of our marriage story was that we were driving home from Christmas to our new apartment. We lived there for probably a week to our new condo and we had this very vulnerable, honest conversation. And what came of it was, my ex husband had had this realization in his own therapy cause he was still going to his own individual therapy and he had had this realization that he, because of the addiction or compulsion and combined with his codependence, his whole entire life, he realized that he never had loved me. He had never really loved me and he didn’t think he was ever going to be able to love me. And then on the same side of that, he realized, which was probably the most traumatic thing he’s ever said to me, even on top of all of the disclosures. But he told me that he was never sexually attracted to me and that he didn’t think he would ever be able to be sexually attracted to me. And that I think that was kind of where the, you know, the straw that broke the camel’s back of like, okay, then why are, why are we fighting so hard? Because I don’t want to be in a marriage that I’m not loved. So that being said though, we did stay married for almost a year after that, after that was said.

Garrett: So that attraction to the lack of attraction for him, there’s millions of people that would find you attractive, you know?

Libbi: Well thank you.

Garrett: So it’s like, I just wonder, we don’t know cause he’s not here.

Libbi: Right.

Garrett: But I wonder if porn perpetuated false expectations.

Libbi: I think, um, I think that’s the conclusion we came to really was that he didn’t think he was ever going to be able to be sexually attracted to me because of the amount of pornography that he had consumed. He just wasn’t able to see me as attractive. He wasn’t able to be aroused by me. He wasn’t able to, he wasn’t, he just wasn’t attracted to me. You know?

Garrett: You know that’s interesting because there’s scien…, I know we’re talking about a personal account right now. But there’s science and research that this can happen because of pornography.

Libbi: Yeah. And I will say too, because I know, well, little awkward but also necessary cause I think a lot of people like, um, um, will kind of equate that with erectile dysfunction. And that was never an issue. It was literally just, I guess, expectations and sexual attraction.

Garrett: So some people are affected by like a porn-induced erectile dysfunction.

Totally.

Garrett: Or porn induced like arousal disorder.

Libbi: Absolutely. Yeah.

Garrett: But you’re saying in his case it was more just,…

Libbi: I think it’s along the same lines. Definitely. But it wasn’t just like…

Garrett: Different.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Well I think that’s sad. Has He ever verbalized regret to you? Because…

Libbi: Oh,…

Garrett: I wonder in his heart if he feels regret.

Libbi: I mean he’s, he’s apologized for everything of course, but…

Garrett: because one thing that I’ve learned with my wife, which is very cool, and I had this aha moment, is that I realized that porn, even after three years…

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: … of addressing the challenge and moving forward, even three years later, I just realized that porn had perpetuated another false expectation.

Libbi: Oh.

Garrett: And that’s another story for a different day. But it’s like, I just learned that.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Five months ago and I’m so grateful that I learned it.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Because now it’s like our relationships better. Even better.

Libbi: Yeah. Oh, that’s so good.

Garrett: I just wonder if he has some of those moments anyway.

Libbi: I hope so. But again, we don’t really talk about those things anymore if we do talk, which is very rarely now. Um, but if we, if we do I, mmmm… Something like that might come up, but probably not just because of the boundaries that we have up at this point.

Garrett: Yeah. Which are healthy.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: So how did Fight the New Drug helping this whole thing? Did it help?

Libbi: Um, well I didn’t find, Fight the New Drug until later, like much later and at that point, after everything ended with my marriage and I, um, I dunno. I, I think because my ex husband handled his recovery and the disclosure process the way that he did, I’ve just developed a really, really passionate, like, uh, I guess I’ve a lot of passion to help other men however I can,

Garrett: And women.

Libbi: …which I don’t know how, but yeah. Help other, other couples.

Garrett: One question that just came to mind,…

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: … way off topic, but do you know when he first was exposed to pornography?

Libbi: Um, yes, I do. Let me think. I think he was 12.

Garrett: Interesting. And year was… I’m just trying to put a timeline to this. Like what pornography did he have access to at age 12 was he with a cell phone in his pocket at that time?

Libbi: No.

Garrett: Or was he looking at like a magazine or VHS?

Libbi: He was at a sleepover with a friend and his friend showed it to him. I think he, his dad has friends. Dad had found his dad’s stash or something and so found it and showed it to him.

Garrett: Okay, the reason why I asked that question is because I’m just grateful for conversations that we’re having now and trying to change the conversation because it’s almost like, because if a person is exposed to pornography,…

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: … before the age of 18, but even into the mid twenties, like when your frontal lobes, getting into the science side of it was like the frontal lobe is like the decision making area hasn’t fully developed.

Libbi: Right.

Garrett: You’re at a disadvantage.

Libbi: Absolutely.

Garrett: To finding true love and true human connection.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Because you’ve, you’ve interacted with the counterfeit.

Libbi: Right, and the other thing, um, that kind of speaks to our society and the kind of pornification of our society was that a lot of the things he looked at as a young kid was he, he would find like swimsuit catalogs if he could like in his neighbor’s mailboxes and stuff like that. And that’s what he would use as his form of pornography.

Garrett: Right.

Libbi: Which isn’t really pornography.

Garrett: So he sought it out.

Libbi: Yeah. He sought it out, but it wasn’t really, he didn’t,…

Garrett: Well just fast forward to today and it’s like we have these powerful rectangles in our pocket- the cell phone.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And it’s like 12 year olds today. That’s why it’s so important to have these in these conversations with young people because they need to know what a healthy relationship looks like and it can’t come from like, you can’t go to pornography…

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: … to learn about the healthy relationship.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Um, does, does that, knowing that he was exposed, does that give you like a little bit of compassion for him? Being he was exposed at a young age? Like he started to rewire his brain at, since 12?

Libbi: Yeah. Yeah. And I think, I think, yeah. Yeah. I think I’ve felt, even if I was angry or felt betrayed, I still always felt compassion for him because I knew he wasn’t really, I mean, of course he was in control…

Garrett: Right.

Libbi: But…

Garrett: He was making decisions, but…

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: But there’d been a gradual process of rewiring the brain. I mean just on a scientific level.

Libbi: Yeah, totally. And any where he was in control, but there was a little bit that was out of control.

Garrett: Yeah.

Libbi: He had never been taught otherwise.

Garrett: Interesting.

Libbi: You know, he never really had the chance to rewire his brain or why, or his brain correctly the first time.

Garrett: Yeah.

Libbi: You know, he, because it wasn’t really talked about as a kid, you know, it, it was just, it was exciting. It wasn’t, it was taboo, but it wasn’t talked about. It wasn’t, there were no conversations around it except for shame. You know, if you see this, you’re a bad person, don’t look at this. There was no space to talk about it. So for young kids, especially in his generation at his age, when he was exposed, there was no one he could really go to and say, look, I have a challenge. I saw this and I don’t know what to do.

Garrett: Yeah. Well, Libby and now, today you’re in Guatemala…

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: … with Fight the New Drug and we are so grateful that you’re here.

Libbi: Thank you. Me Too. Like more than I could ever verbalize. So grateful.

Garrett: Really?

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: Cool. That gave me the chills a little bit. What have you enjoyed most about being in Guatemala with Fight the New Drug? Is there something that has stood out?

Libbi: I mean, yes, aside from the amazing jungle and howling monkey, that are around everywhere? Um, really I have really, really valued, enjoyed. Again, I don’t really think there’s like a strong enough word, but I’ve just really valued the conversations I’ve been able to have with a few people here.

Garrett: That’s how I’ve felt.

Libbi: And it’s just, I don’t know, I feel like it’s like a therapy trip.

Garrett: [laughter] It is! It’s so cool.

Libbi: Yeah. Like, just having even a conversation like this or like, you know, like you and I are able to talk for our little two hours and you know, I was able to connect with a couple other people on the trip. There’s just something really special about this group and this place and this setting, not necessarily Guatemala, but just this Fight the New Drug trip together, kind of being here,…

Garrett: We kind of come out and learn and grow and have fun.

Libbi: And talk vulnerably.

Garrett: You’re right.

Libbi: You know? Like talk honestly and again, there’s no shame, we’re just having this really, really important conversation.

Garrett: Oh my goodness. I love it.

Libbi: Like, and I don’t know, I just think it’s priceless.

Garrett: It is. I hope that,… because when someone’s vulnerable, it strengthens both parties, you know?

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And I just want to say thanks to you for sitting down and having a conversation with us on Consider Before Consuming. And I just encourage our listeners to take everything that Libby’s talked about and consider them.

Libbi: Yeah.

Garrett: And hopefully,… I know that many listeners are gonna appreciate. I wish that we can have some system where they have like a direct line to you and they can call you and be like, “Hey, thank you so much for helping me and for telling the truth. And even though it hurt and being vulnerable.” Because you’d get, you’d have to have like a second cell phone.

Libbi: I mean, but for real, I will, I am okay with that. Like if there’s ever a, I don’t know if anybody ever asks you for someone to talk to?

Garrett: Just a resource of someone that’s like, hey, I need someone to reach out to.

Libbi: Just a listening ear or just someone to talk and validate and, and question. I don’t have answers.

Garrett: Yeah.

Libbi: But I have, I have compassion and for both parties and I’ve been through it and I get it. And I would love to talk to anybody who needs someone who’s been there.

Garrett: Cool.

Libbi: Cause that’s something I did not have.

Garrett: Yeah.

Libbi: And that’s something that I think I really want to be able to offer to other people. So, Hey, if anybody asks you for my number, okay, I give you my permission.

Garrett: It is 735-… just joking. [laughter]

Libbi: [laughter] Not even close.

Garrett: I don’t even know your number. Um, anyway. Well, Libby, thanks again.

Libbi: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Garrett: We appreciate it.

Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming, Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious, non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography and sexual exploitation using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

If you or someone you know struggles with pornorgraphy, we invite you to check out our friends at Fortify. Fortify is a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography.

Fortify offers a free experience for both teens and adults, allowing you to connect with others in order to better understand your challenge with pornography, and track your journey toward recovery. Learn more at ftnd.org/fortify

OTHER RESOURCES FROM FTND

A three-part documentary about porn’s impacts on consumers, relationships, and society.

GET THE FACTS

Fifteen research-based articles detailing porns negatively impacts.

FIGHTER GEAR

Tees to support the movement and change the conversation wherever you go.

A CONVERSATION BLUEPRINT

Successfully navigate conversations about porn with your partner, child, or friend.

A database of the ever-growing body of research on the harmful effects of porn.

AN OVERVIEW

An interactive site with short videos highlighting porn’s proven negative effects.