Actress Playwright, & Betrayal Trauma Survivor
Maddie Corman started her career as a child actor in the 1980s, growing to become an American film and television actor appearing in over 25 films. But Maddie’s world was rocked when her television director husband was very publicly arrested for possession of child pornography. Maddie has since found healing through the one-woman show she wrote and stars in that explains her true story of discovering the new normal when her world fell apart. Listen to Maddie Corman talk to podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, and discuss how she faced betrayal, shame, and eventually forgiveness in this must-hear episode. Listen to Maddie’s one-woman show, Accidentally Brave, on Audible or learn more at AccidentallyBrave.com.
FROM THIS EPISODE
- Check out Accidentally Brave on Audible
- Learn more at the Accidentally Brave website
- Follow Maddie on Instagram
- Article: Tech Companies Reported Over 45 Million Child Porn Images and Videos On Their Platforms in 2018
- Article: What Tech Companies Could Do to Slow The Spread Of Child Porn Online
- Article: Apple Fights Child Porn By Scanning Users’ Uploaded Icloud Photos
- Article: How Porn Can Become Addictive
- Article: How Porn Can Affect Sexual Tastes
- Article: Why Consuming Porn is an Escalating Behavior
- Need Help? Learn more aboutFortify
Fight the New Drug Ad: How can pornography impact you, your loved ones and the world around you? Discover the answer for yourself in our free three part documentary series brain, heart world in three 30 minute episodes. This docuseries dives into how pornography impacts individuals, relationships and society with witty narration and colorful animation. This age appropriate series shines a hopeful light on this heavy topic. In each episode, you’ll hear from experts who share research on porins harms as well as true stories from people who have been impacted personally by pornography stream the full series for free or purchase an affordable screening license at brainheartworld.org.
Maddie: My healing looks like sometimes just playing and letting go. My healing looks like sometimes doing really uncomfortable research and learning about the brain and learning that, um, pornography is a drug. It can hijack the brain and make some really good people, do some really crummy, terrible things, or at least look at some really crummy, terrible things. Um, and for me, there are days where it’s still hard to get out of bed, the pain and the shame are so great.
Garrett: My name is Garrett Jonsson, and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug.
And in case you’re new here. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some- you can refer to the episode notes for a specific trigger warning. Listener discretion is advised.
Today’s episode is with Maddie Corman. She started her career as a child actress in the 1980’s, and she’s now appeared in over 25 films. Maddie experienced an earthshaking moment when her husband was arrested for possession of child pornography. During this conversation we talk about betrayal trauma, shame, and what she’s doing to help promote love, healing, and hope.
With all that being said, let’s just jump into the conversation, we hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Garrett: How are you, Maddie?
Maddie: Doing well. How are you?
Garrett: Doing great.
Maddie: Oh, this is so cool. I love technology.
Garrett: For sure. It is a nice to have.
Maddie: Do I sound okay?
Garrett: Yeah, it sounds like you have it all set up.
Maddie: Okay, look at me.
Garrett: Yeah. Look at you. Cause oftentimes I have to go through and help people set up, but it sounds like you’ve done an interview or two or been on television a little bit or something.
Maddie: Yeah. Plus I have three teenagers. So that helps. [laughter]
Garrett: [laughter] They’re they’re your Tech Crew?
Garrett: Cool. That’s awesome. Well, I’m glad you got it all set up. Any questions for me before we get started?
Maddie: No, I’m uh, I’m nervous. Excited and ready.
Garrett: Yeah. You know, I kind of feel the same way because I know how big of a thing it is for, for you and your family.
Maddie: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.
Garrett: One thing before we jump into the questions regarding your experience in your play, I saw on your social media, on your Instagram that a, you recently pitcher or posted a picture of a tree that had fallen on top of a car.
Maddie: [laughter] Yes.
Garrett: And so I just wanted to know if that was on set or was that real life?
Maddie: [laughter] No. That’s real life it 2020. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving. We had a really big storm here in New York and I’m in the city and everyone in the suburbs lost power. And I thought, look how smart we are being in the city. And then I went out to take a look at our car and a tree had fallen and smashed the car it’s and then the, I think the photo I posted was two of my three children, uh, sitting on the tree on top of the car. They thought it was hilarious, um, has been removed and the car is driving. So… miracles happen.
Garrett: Yeah. And thank goodness for insurance.
Garrett: In a situation like that.
Maddie: Yeah. You know, I’ve been through some things, so a tree on a car is, uh, not the worst of what I can, I can manage that. [laughter]
Garrett: For sure. Um, well, like I said, Maddie, we are grateful that you’re joining us today. And I also mentioned that I’ve listened to your play three times. Um, I’ve listened to on audible and each time that I listened to it, I honestly feel like I’m living the experience a little bit, which is kind of emotionally draining to be honest, but also at the same time inspiring.
Maddie: Well, good. I mean, when I was doing it live eight times a week, uh, people would say, how are you doing that every day, twice a day, some days. And I said, well, I lived it. This is not anywhere near as hard as actually living it. And uh, in some ways it was, um, less lonely as well, but it was, it was also draining and I’m really, I’m really proud that and happy with the way the audible came out, that it hopefully shares that experience.
Garrett: Yeah, I think it does. Um, this is your chance to kind of give us a 30 sec summary before we jump into your experience and your play. Can you give us like a 30 sec elevator pitch about accidentally brave?
Maddie: You know, I have a friend who’s a playwright and he says, if I could have wrapped it up in 30 seconds, I wouldn’t have written the, you know, 90 page play. [laughter]
Maddie: Uh, I’m not great at that, but it is my story of what happened to me within my family. About five years ago, my husband was arrested, um, on child pornography charges. And it really, um, was devastating and shocking and uh, completely out of the blue to me and two or three kids. And, um, it’s really the story. I try to focus on myself. I’m already messing up the 30 sec pitch, but I, I try to focus on my story and not, um, and tell how it affected me within a marriage and, um, being a mother and being a human being. Um, and it really does focus on the early days of trauma, but up until the point where believe it or not, I start to see some light and some gifts and spoiler alert.
I am with my husband, we are together. Um, and that is part of the play as well or the story. And it’s called Accidentally Brave because, um, you don’t, I really don’t see myself as a brave person. I hate roller coasters. I, um, don’t like horror movies. I’m really happy to be home watching other people do things. Um, and a lot of people have called me brave these last couple years, but I really had no choice also. Um, because my husband and I, um, are in television film theater. Um, our story was very public very quickly. So again, some people say I’m brave because I talk about it, but it was already in the paper. Um, in every social media, it was everywhere within 24 hours. So, um, so that’s, that’s a really sloppy, messy description, but that’s me. I try to tell the truth mess and all.
Garrett: I like that. And I like that early on in your play, you mentioned that boundary of speaking for your experience, you don’t really talk to the experience that your husband had or those details are regarding your children, just about your experience. And so I like that approach. Um, I think one of the things that was interesting to me as we started, as I started listening to your play was, and I quote one of the very first things you say in your play. It says, if I tell the truth, you might not like me and I really, really want you to like me. So I wanted to ask you, why did you decide to lean into that discomfort, um, and be open your experience?
Maddie: Well, um, this whole experience has really brought me to my knees, um, metaphorically and literally, um, I can’t control this narrative. Um, it, and if there has been any lesson for me, it has been, I have to, uh, stop. I can’t make everyone like me anyway, but in this case I really, really can’t and I’ve had to get really small, do my homework, do my research, make sure my family is safe, um, and stop worrying so much about what other people think. And it’s been a really interesting thing because, um, in sharing my story and sharing my feelings and sharing, uh, the mess of it all and, um, learning about pornography addiction, sex addiction, um, I have actually a lot of people, a lot of people ask me, have you lost friends? And the answer is yes, but what people don’t usually ask me is have you gained friends?
And the answer is yes, absolutely. And the friends and family that have been incredibly supportive, it feels like a very authentic friendship and love when people know everything about you. Um, I’ve also gotten to see that with my husband. Um, so I’ve leaned in only because I had no other choice, but I’m glad that I have, and you know, sex addiction and porn addiction and all of it. And I say that, you know, I want to just be really clear right up front. I understand that illegal pornography is different. I understand that there are absolutely victims and understand that child pornography is a terrible, terrible thing. And no one in my family thinks anything other than that. Um, I just want to be really clear,
Maddie: That being said, as I learned my husband’s very secret porn addiction was a porn addiction. Um, that went in a very dark way. Um, but I, I think that even if we weren’t talking about the illegal part, the underage girls,
People have so much trouble talking about pornography alone. I mean, even if I go to, I get a lot of help, um, I hope I give some help, but I also receive a lot of help. I, um, and I speak to a lot of men and women and the shame that goes along with talking about this, whether there was anything illegal going on or not is it’s enormous and it’s crippling. And so when this happened, I didn’t hear anyone else who had gone through this and it felt already terrible, but it felt even more terrible to experience this alone. Um, I didn’t see any books. I didn’t have any friends now, PS, it turns out I have had friends who have gone through things like this. It’s just, nobody talks about it. And once you share your secrets, it’s amazing how many other people start sharing theirs.
Garrett: Right. Yeah. That’s interesting. I’ve heard that said before that each of us have these chapters in our lives that we don’t want to read aloud. Right?
Maddie: I haven’t heard that. I liked that.
Garrett: And I think that you’re an example where you had to read it aloud. You were kind of forced to, because of your, um, because you both are public figures and well known. So, um, well, has it been therapeutic for you? You have helped a lot of people. Um, but has you said you were doing this eight times a week, you were doing the play?
Maddie: [laughter] Yeah, I was, um, yeah, you know, more exhausting than doing the play was meeting people in the lobby after which I did every night plays one act. And I kind of think of that as the second act. Um, and I think it was and is really important. Um, so that was exhausting, but in the best kind of way, um, someone said to me the other day, because I’m going to God-willing when, um, when things clear up COVID wise, I will do the play again. And we’re talking about filming it and we’re talking about, um, kind of exploring different ways to tell the same story, maybe on TV and a really good friend who loves my family said to me, “Maybe it’s time to stop. I mean, do you really just want to live in this moment and maybe it’s hard on your kids and do you really want to think about this every day?”
And, um, of course I was like, “Oh my God, she thinks I’m a terrible person. And maybe…” I really rethought everything that I thought I knew because I hate when people point out that maybe I’m doing something wrong, but then it took a breath and they also talked to some other people who’ve been through some things like this. There is not a day that goes by that. I don’t think about this.
Maddie: There’s not. So whether I’m doing a play, whether I’m writing about it, whether I’m doing a podcast, whether I’m just sitting at my kid’s soccer game, it’s in my life and for better or for worse, I, I don’t want to say I enjoy it, but it feels, um, purposeful and useful and good to, um, to say it out loud. And, um, and things are different than they were five years ago. And I’m sure I did the play. I wrote the play at a certain time. I performed it at a certain time. And if I do it again, or somebody else does it, it will be a different time in my own healing, but those early days and that trauma doesn’t go away. It just, um, changes.
Maddie: I don’t know if that answered your question.
Garrett: Yes, absolutely. You mentioned that it’s part of your own healing.
Garrett: Um, and I want to give you a chance to explain to our audience how you’re doing now. Um, I loved one of the things I loved about your play right off the bat is you talked about how you’re “Not Okay.”
Maddie: [laughter] Yeah.
Garrett: Can you talk to that a little bit? Cause I think we’re all in a similar position, right?
Maddie: I would say this is not one of those shows where I talk about how I was okay. But then I wasn’t okay. But now I’m okay. Um, I’m not, I’m not okay. I like to say I’m okay-ish and I have really good days and I have really crummy days and sometimes they’re the same day. Um, yeah, I think that, and I love what you’re doing. I love your show. I love your whole mission. Um, and I think that there’s a whole group of people who are really struggling, um, silently and valiantly, and those are partners of sex addicts, partners of porn addicts and, um, they’re men and women who are amazing. Um, I am in awe of people that I speak with sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes a couple times a day, and seeing what these people do on behalf of their children and their partners and themselves.
Um, for me, I would say that my healing goes, uh, in waves and sometimes it goes backwards. Um, progress, not perfection. I have to work really, really hard. Um, personally, I’m really down with people who don’t or who find something that works early on. I tried everything and anything to stop the excruciating pain that I was in and what I found works for me, our meetings, um, you know, we don’t talk about a lot because 12 step is anonymous, but I’m barely anonymous. So I’m going to say, I go to, um, S Anon meetings. Um, I go to Alanon I, um, I am in a group therapy group run by a CSAT the therapist who specializes in sex addiction for partners of sex addicts. Um, I, my husband, um, is in recovery. He goes to during this time maybe six or seven meetings a week, and this is five years in, um, that’s an important part of my healing is that I choose to be with someone who embraces recovery.
Um, I’m not a martyr. I don’t have any interest in saying no matter what, here I am. Um, my healing looks like sometimes just playing and letting go. My healing looks like sometimes doing really uncomfortable research, um, and learning about the brain and learning that, um, pornography is a drug. It can hijack the brain and make some really good people, do some really crummy, terrible things, or at least look at some really crummy, terrible things. Um, and for me, there are days where it’s still hard to get out of bed, the pain and the shame are so great, but, and I have a family that is intact and, uh, not that I judge anybody for leaving, staying together, you know, um, at all, this is just my story.
Maddie: And, um, we have had some really great days. We have some really difficult conversations and we have some really awesome conversations and I would not wish what happened to me or my family on anyone, but we definitely have a level of honesty in our family that was not there a level of spirituality that I treasure. And, um, and I have kids that are thriving except for days where they’re not.
Garrett: [laughter] Yeah, for sure. That’s a beautiful thing. One of my favorite sayings and I actually have it tattooed on my body and it’s that “moments of bliss are not free.”
Garrett: And I think that your story is a good example of that and all of our stories really.
Maddie: Yeah. For me, I mean, I definitely, uh, feel like my heart got cracked open and some light crept in, um, it’s, it’s, it’s so different for everyone, but, um, I was in, uh, a group the other day, you know, on zoom and, um, it was a parent talk and one of the dads, a bunch of people, I knew a bunch of people, I didn’t know, and this was not, um, anything to do with pornography, um, or my story. It was just a, a meeting, um, something to do with my kids and, um, uh, dad un-muted himself and said, “You know, I just…” we’re talking about marijuana and said, you know, “I have four years clean and sober” and everyone kind of clap their hands. And I wondered to myself, I did not say this aloud in this particular meeting, what it would be like if, um, if my husband un-muted and said “I’m five years, um, clean and sober from my sex and porn addiction.”
And, um, I don’t know what would my, my gut would say, “Oh God”, it would stop the meeting cold. And people would be uncomfortable and start Googling. And, um, us and, uh, another part of me would like to think that maybe people would go, “Oh, good for you.” You know, I really think that we need to start talking about it more. And, um, I told my kids that I was going on this podcast, um, and their reactions are always interesting to me. They were like, “Don’t say our names.” Um, I said, “listen, if any of your friends are listening to Fight the New Drug, then good for them.” And then, and, um, and I, I said, you know, what is it that I think, you know, teenagers tend to think anything their parents do is annoying. I don’t want to, I don’t want to bring shame to my kids.
I don’t want to hurt them.
Maddie: Of course. So that is, I do struggle with that, not with this podcast, but in general telling the story and, and causing them any kind of pain.
Maddie: But I also, I think that one of the things they feel is shame. And I think that telling our stories can blow up shame and can make it better for the next kid who’s involved in something like this or struggling themselves. Because I know from all the work I’ve done and doctors I’ve seen that younger and younger kids are struggling with pornography addiction and it’s affecting our entire culture. I think for my kids, especially maybe my sons right now, um, it’s not so much that they’re ashamed of their dad and that story because they love their dad and they know that story and there’s no secrets, but I think they’re like “Now, do you have to be the person who tells people not to look at pornography? God, mom, stop.” Um, although didn’t say that they just kind of rolled their eyes and walked away. So I made that. That’s what they’re thinking, but I think, um, we do talk about it in our family and we talk about it the way some other people might talk about drugs and alcohol. Um, and in a way that I never would have talked about five years ago because I honestly was oblivious. It wasn’t that I was embarrassed. It was that I was completely oblivious.
Maddie: On my bad days, I would just say I was an idiot, but right now I’ll say I was oblivious.
Garrett: Yeah. I think that’s a healthy way to put it. Um, well, a couple things, Maddie. I just want to say how much I admire you and your family. Um, I, I love the title Accidentally Brave because it’s so fitting. And I also think that you are intentionally brave.
Maddie: [laughter] Thank you.
Garrett: Um, I saw a cool thing the other day that someone on my social media feed, he got his first tattoo and it said “WE ARE THE THEY”. And the meaning behind that, “WE ARE THE THEY” is that he’s a person who is engaged in fighting sex trafficking. And his family has his, uh, his partner was saying, “Well, do we, should we really go into this?” Like, “Do, are we sure we want to be the ones fighting this, they can take care of it.” And his answer was like, “We are the they.” And, um, I think that, um, if at any time you decide, you don’t want to publish this episode, just let us know, and we will not publish it cause we want what is best for you and your family. Um, and if you guys decide that it’s what you want to publish, then we, we love that as well. So, um,
Maddie: I want to say thank you, first of all. And you’ve been incredibly respectful and kind, and I appreciate it when I hear “WE ARE THE THEY”, what it says to me is it reminds me of why I tell the story and why I actually did include some, not in the audible version, but in the stage version, I did include some family photos. My family is not other, I mean, we are, and we’re not. We are the day. You know, I, when you picture the person that this happens to, the image is not my husband and me. And that’s why I like telling the story. Because when you just read a headline, you go, well, I probably was one of the people who made giant assumptions about a person, a marriage, a family, and that’s dangerous. And it’s dangerous in many ways. Of course, selfishly it’s dangerous for me.
And I want you to know that my husband is awesome and funny and a feminist and a good dad and all those things. And sometimes a jerk,
Garrett: [laughter] Yeah, we’re all human.
Maddie: You know, all of those things, he’s a human being and his addiction did start to show, not in any kind of sexual way, but in irritability and depression. Um, but, but really why another reason I want to tell the story is not just so you go, “Oh, look, I like him. I like her.” No, it’s that? It’s where you, it’s not that different. And this is, you know, um, addiction hits families all over and porn addiction is something that is lurking. I mean, it’s free, it’s easily accessible and you can get it. Yeah. I mean, you can get it on your phone and you can look at it anonymously without anybody knowing. I mean, or you think nobody’s knowing, and it doesn’t cost anything to look at some really dark things. So I just think that telling the story
I hope it helps in a lot of ways, because again, if there’s also, I know now spending a lot of time talking to my own husband and believe me, there have been nights in the middle of the night where I wake up and go, “Why didn’t you just tell me why didn’t you just tell me that you needed help, that you had a problem that this was happening” and you know, the deep, deep shame and the deep fear are so real for so many men. And maybe also by sharing this again, like I’m not some stand by your man, you know, little lady I’m a real, full, flawed, awesome person as well. And maybe knowing that a family can get through this might help someone come out as it were and share their story and go get help before the police show up at your door and traumatize your kids. Before you start looking at something that goes against every moral that you have, that, you know, every core belief, but somehow what you were looking at wasn’t enough. And, um, so I do hope because I do go, “My God”, we are not super religious. We are not. Um, we are people who I thought could talk about certain things and my husband felt he could not talk about this. Um, and again, I’m not even talking about the illegal part. I’m talking about even saying “I’m watching a lot of pornography. I don’t like it. I’m struggling.” Um, it was a really big secret and, um, secrets make us sick and they make a whole family sick. You know, it really infiltrated our family, um, dynamic our marriage, dynamic, our family dynamic. And, um, and yet we had, we looked pretty good from the outside and we were pretty good in a lot of ways. So I guess that’s the, “WE ARE THE THEY” that I’m talking about and it’s easy to dismiss stories that are sensational and go back. I would never, and even when I have done certain interviews, um, I’ve had, you know, I went on the view and you know, it, wasn’t easy to hear Megan McCain say, “well, I would never stay with that person”, you know?
Maddie: And, um, maybe she wouldn’t, but walk a mile in my shoes. And I want to tell you the whole story, not just the sensational story and not just the worst thing my husband ever looked at, but I want to tell you about a family, about a man and a woman and three kids and a life. I think it’s important. And, um, and that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect or easy now, or that there’s not a lot of consequences now that we deal with, but we’re still a family struggling and figuring it out and then struggling.
Garrett: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t think we’ll ever know, um, the scope of someone’s trauma cause we just aren’t into them. And I also don’t think we’ll ever know the scope of someone’s betrayal trauma. Right. So it’s like, we don’t know the scope of your husband’s experience and his shame and his past traumas and all that. We don’t know the scope that, of the betrayal trauma that you’ve experienced.
Maddie: Yeah. And thank you by the way, for saying that, um, betrayal trauma is real and I experienced it personally and I also witnessed bear witness to people who I’ve come to know and, and deeply love. And, um, and it’s unique. Um, you know, there’s a part of me that always wants to say, well, our story is, you know, “Addiction is like cancer and sex addiction. Porn addiction is like alcoholism or heroin addiction”, but everything has its that’s a silly game for me. But the thing about, um, my story is that there is betrayal trauma, and it is a real thing. And there is some real, um, PTSD involved. And you know, I got a lot of really negative feedback online and other people saying, you know, “What about the children that are abused?” And of course, of course they have trauma. And I, I weep my heartbreaks.
I pray, I give money. Um, I do whatever I can for those victims.
Maddie: And that does not take away that partners also have trauma and betrayal trauma, and it’s a real thing. And um, and it comes up and it comes up whether you leave your marriage, it comes up. Whether you stay, it comes up, whether you do a lot of work, um, or no work. And, and it is there’s, it’s just a population that is under underserved. You know, I had people come to see my little show at a beautiful small off-Broadway theater. People flew from different countries. People wrote me who didn’t get to come from Australia. I mean, there are people who are in so much pain and they’re so lonely. And um, and so time’s the only person that they can talk to about the betrayal trauma is the person who betrayed them, which I know is a tough, uh, is a tough thing.
Maddie: And, and it’s okay, it’s real. And it’s there. And by the way, I’m here to say five years in, it’s so much better and it doesn’t go away. And I sometimes feel some shame that I’m not quote unquote further along, but you know, doing the best I can. And, and I stand in awe of partners who have, who have been all kinds of, uh, there’s all kinds of betrayal. Um, but I think with pornography also, and I know that’s somewhat the focus of your show and your mission and some people, it it’s, um, it’s either thought of, if you cross the line, then it’s, you know, unforgivable, but if you don’t cross that line, it can be almost a joke and it’s not a joke. And it, there, um, are marriages that really get destroyed because of it. And, and it’s not funny and it’s not nothing and it’s not, “well, everybody does it.”
I I’ve seen the scars. And, um, and I really appreciate, you know, it sounds like a funny thing to say, but I appreciate someone recognizing that and saying that even the, even the fact that it’s a betrayal, um, you know, some people would say, “Well, you never touched anyone.” Um, and that’s, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean there’s not betrayal. And that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel like there was a third party and a lot of women, I know whose husbands struggled with pornography, um, have felt like there’s another person in the relationship, even though it’s not a person, there’s another thing. And there, it interferes with that intimacy. Um, and if it’s not talked about, and it’s secret, it can start to make you feel a little bananas.
Garrett: Right. Cause you’re introducing deceit into the relationship. Huh?
Maddie: Right. I mean, for again, I know I get a little global, but to talk back to my experience, um, I would say to my husband, you know, “Are, are you having an affair? Are you not attracted to me? What’s going on?” Because I felt something when I say I was oblivious. I didn’t know. I really didn’t know. But looking back in the flashbacks that go through my mind, “Oh, why didn’t I…” I mean, it’s so clear to me now, but it never occurred to me to ask about my husband’s relationship with pornography. Um, I asked if he was having an affair and he looked me in the eye and said, “I am not.”, which was true. Um, but there was something, there was something and I couldn’t grasp it. So I did start to feel a little bit crazy and that’s gaslighting. Um, but that, um, now that I am with someone who is present, I can see what I was missing, but it sneaks in it’s slow.
And, um, and so even though I call myself an idiot, I know I’m not an idiot. And I know that other partners are not. And I know that my husband didn’t want me to see, you know, he didn’t want me to feel, feel betrayed. No… I don’t think any, any of the people I know ever wanted to cause pain to their families or to anyone. Um, and that’s one of the saddest things about having to build this back, build our family back is there’s so much pain and neither my husband nor I ever, our, our one gig was to take care of these kids. Like that was the deal. And I feel like, um, that’s my deep pain. Um, when I feel like I blew that.
Garrett: Sometimes I think that your experience can help your kids be better off.
Maddie: I, I mean, I, I definitely think that my kids have an understanding of, um, they’ve seen a person they love and admire very much fall down and get back up. They’ve seen, um, recovery. Um, they’ve seen friends stand by, uh, a family in trouble. They’ve seen their parents now reaching out to try to do service and make something out of an experience that was not so great. So, um, I hope so. And I, and I do think, I mean, you know, again, questions I get asked, I, I, I love being asked, you know, how, “How has this helped your kids?” versus like, are your, you know, “How messed up are your kids?” Um, and I do see my kids as being incredibly resilient and knowledgeable. My, my, uh, I don’t think she’ll, well, I think she’d be okay. It would be telling the story, but my daughter went and saw a doctor.
Um, and she’s, um, she’s over 18 now. So she went in without me. And she came out and said, “I didn’t like that doctor.” And I said, um, “Why not?” And she said, “Well, she asked me some questions…”, family background, “… and did I have any mental illness or addiction to my family?” And I said, “Yes.” And she said, “Which?”, and she said, um, “I have addiction.” And she said, “Okay, a parent?” And she said, “Yes.” Um, and she said, “Alcoholism, drug addiction?” She said, “Um, sex addiction.” And my daughter said “Sex addiction.” And my daughter said, the doctor looked at her and almost kind of gasped. And, um, and my daughter didn’t like that. And I, on the other hand was beaming going, wow, good for you. Like, this is how the world moves forward is that we stop not talking about it. And I would never force my kids to talk about something, but I hope and believe that people will reach out to them because people know our story and for better or for worse, I do think that’s how healing and change happens. Right. And, and again, so that the, ultimately none of us want there to be sex trafficking or any kind of child pornography or children being exploited. But if we just say “That person who did that is bad.”, we’re putting, we’re never talking about it. I don’t think that will change or go away.
Garrett: Right. Yeah. We’ve talked a little bit about AA and that 12th step is to help someone else.
Maddie: Right. I considered the play is kind of like, the 12th step.
Garrett: Yeah, that’s exactly what I was just going to say.
Garrett: I think it’s a beautiful thing. And I think that, um, your, your kids are you in your play, you talk about an angel and I think that you, if I’m remembering correctly, you talk about really, there was probably several angels quote unquote in your life. Right?
Garrett: Um, but one in particular really helped you. And I think that your kids can be an angel for someone else right. Someday, or maybe it’s already happening.
Maddie: Absolutely. I hope so. I really do. And it doesn’t have to be loud. It can be quiet. Um, but yes, and my angel, if certainly I have many angels, but the one that I refer to who kind of came into my life by the way, only because my story was in the New York post, a sensational, um, horrific headline. And she saw the humanity behind that. And, um, through her own experience found me and reached out. And yes, it’s one of the first things she said to me was “Your kids will be okay.” And that was the kindest gesture, um, and sentence I have ever received. And at some point I did say to her, “How can I ever repay you?” And she happens to be, um, very successful. Um, so she doesn’t really need anything. I mean, I can’t really buy her a sweater that would make there’s no gesture anyway that I could do.
Um, there’s no gift I could give, but I said, “How can I ever repay you?” And she said, “Just do it for somebody else.” I don’t think she meant for me to write this.
Maddie: But she, uh, she has seen the show and, um, and she’s, she’s proud of me. And, and that is my way of saying, because I would not, I, I don’t know that I would be, uh, sitting here speaking to you and not in a ball on the floor. I really don’t know that, that if somebody hadn’t reached out who had a little bit, her story is different from mine, but similar enough that she was able to say, “I see you, it’s going to be okay.” And I, and I believed her. And even the times I didn’t believe her. She had it, she held it for me, you know, and I had no hope. She held onto that hope and I, and she let me borrow hers. And, um, and that is really necessary in, in this world, even just that when you’re really down and really scared that someone is kind enough to reach out and say, and she did share her story with me, and it was really helpful. Really, really helpful.
Garrett: Yeah. You mentioned briefly that you couldn’t buy her a sweater or she doesn’t need anything, I think is what you said. And I think that the reality is, is that the real thing that she needs is that connection, right?
Maddie: Yeah. Sisterhood.
Garrett: And so that, that’s a beautiful thing.
Maddie: Yeah. And she’s become a really, um, you know, it’s so nice to sometimes take a walk with her and talk about, um, I don’t know, talk about baseball,
Garrett: [laughter] For sure.
Maddie: You know, to talk about socially that has nothing to do with this. It’s like a miracle. I never ever thought that I would be able to, to, to have that and to have some, some delight in my life. I also felt like, and I still feel a little bit, like when I talk about it, like, am I allowed to, you know, am I allowed to have that? Um, am I supposed to be the one? And, um, and I think it’s, I’m becoming more comfortable talking about that part too, that, um, that we do have some delightful days.
Garrett: Yes, absolutely.
Maddie: And I really thought that was done. I thought maybe my kids will be okay. Um, uh, you know, when my husband did not go to jail, I thought, okay, well, there’s that, but I never, ever in those early days, thought we will sing together. We will laugh together. We will be silly together. We will have family dinners together. And, um, we are.
Garrett: Honestly, Maddie, my, my heart right now is full of joy, which is kind of weird. Is it?
Maddie: My heart is full of fear.
Garrett: Oh, okay.
Maddie: I just want to be clear that even when I say that I’m like, “Oh, not only…” So I’m kind of a fraud that I say, I don’t care. What other people, I still care what other people think I’m like, Oh, people are going to, so, but I’m glad that I feel way.
Garrett: Oh yeah, I do. It fills me with joy and hope because it’s just a beautiful thing. And I think in your play at one point, you talk about your last Halloween, right?
Garrett: And so I don’t know if you guys are, I don’t know what the situation is with that particular holiday, but I just think it’s a beautiful thing that you and your family are able to connect and have these very cool and special experiences. Um, and you’ve worked through so much, like you’ve put all of your family members, you included I’ve put in the work. So, …
Maddie: I mean, just to be clear yes. And thank you. And we have, and then there are days where if my husband forget, this is somebody else’s story, but it applies to me because I have a friend who, the other day, her husband forgot to bring the blueberries. You know, she wrote a list and it was like, it was like we were back today what she was back to day one. And I really feel that like, in my family, like we’re having these great moments where, you know, honest and where we’re here and we’re, we’re progressing. And, and then, you know, my husband will bring home the wrong olive oil and it is like…
Maddie: There’s something that snaps in me. So I there’s, and I can see the humor in that and I can see the, that there’s still work to do.
Maddie: And yeah, it’s, you know, my husband’s on probation and that, so his, his behavior and his porn addiction is not just his own, um, to, to deal with and to recover from like the consequences affect where my family lives and what we do.
And I try to keep it away from my kids, but it does affect, I mean, they’re just, they’re just restrictions that we live with, but that’s part of the choices that I made. And, um, and so I try not to be too punishing, um, to him with that. And some days, some days I am some days I’m not, but yeah, it’s, um, it’s, um, we have a real family with, with all of ’em and, and that’s the other thing that I think when I hear you talk about an, ask the questions there is nuance, you know, it’s not black or white. And, um, and I went, when I discovered this along with the whole world discovering it, I, it just felt really black. And, um, and now there’s definitely a lot of gray. And what you were saying about my kids before is I think that they are people who see the gray and when they hear someone being maligned or somebody, uh, I think they just see that humans are complicated people.
And I hope that that translates to other areas of their life. I think it does. I mean, they’re very, um, compassionate people. They’re also hilarious, which helps.
Maddie: [laughter] Um, it helps to get through some times, and that was it. That was a big moment for my family. When I think when we started laughing again, there are certain things that are not funny, but when you’re in, when you’re in the gallows, uh, together, when you’re in the darkness together, sometimes you need some laughter. And, and, and it’s really hard for me when people look at me with scorn, but also with pity. Um, partly because I like to be funny and light, and that feels like there’s not room for that in, in certain worlds. So hopefully if you listen to my show, there’s actually some funny, like people were like, is it’s very serious, but it’s funny because there’s some absurd things that are just… funny.
Garrett: Right. And they say that time and our stress plus time equals comedy. And then you can look back to the tree falling on your car. Um, I’m sure that your first thought was not to laugh, but now with your kids on top of it, taking pictures and posting it to social, you can kind of laugh about it.
Garrett: So, well, I wanted to say, um, that you’re honestly, you’re one of my many heroes I look up to you. I definitely, once the COVID thing is over, I would love to come see your show at some point with my wife. That would be really cool.
Maddie: I would love that.
Garrett: Um, we would love to, to make that happen at some point, if possible, and I have loved this conversation. I wanted to get your opinion. If we should jump into more questions regarding your play and your experiences, or would you rather end the conversation and encourage people to go listen on audible?
Maddie: [laughter] Oh gosh. Um, I’m going to defer to you. I am a pretty decisive person about certain things, but I’m down to talk more and I’d love people to download it and listen to it. Or you can read it, you can order it on. Um, I think it’s called DPS is the publishing. Yes. DPS, if you wanted to order the actual, uh, printed version of the play, but I’m happy to answer more questions too. Um, it feels really good to talk to someone who understands and, um, it’s why, it’s why I wrote the play. And when I wrote it, I didn’t know why I was writing it, but I kind of not kind of, I had to, I didn’t know if I’d ever perform it, but I did feel, um, truly that something higher than me was moving the pen. Um, so I’m happy to have an opportunity to talk about it.
Garrett: Yeah. Um, I don’t like that you deferred it to me. I wish that you were the one to decide.
Maddie: [laughter] Let’s go another 10 minutes.
Garrett: Okay. Let’s do it. Um, one of the most powerful moments in your play for me, when I felt like I was living this experience was when you got the phone call from your kid.
Garrett: Um, can you talk about that event, what you were doing and what happened?
Maddie: Yeah, that was actually in terms of the play. It was the hardest, um, thing to rehearse. It was the hardest part for me to learn, I think, because it was the hardest moment of my life. Um, but for some reason I felt like it was important to put there because there are times in certain people’s lives where one moment changes everything. Um, and I was driving to work. I’m an actress and I was doing a guest spot on a, I say, a semi-terrible TV show. Um, I had a couple of days left of work. It was really early. Um, which for anyone who has kids? No, there was actually kind of a delightful thing because I was the one that was leaving first for work. So I didn’t have, and I was leaving so early that I didn’t have to get anyone breakfast or, um, walk the dog or anything.
I was like the five, I think it was like the 4:00 AM leave. Um, and I was in my car. Um, my boys, I have twin boys and a daughter. They, the boys were 11. My daughter was 16 at the time they were all asleep. It was summer. And my phone rang and it was, you know, I have caller ID and it said my daughter’s name. And I knew it, something was up because it was five or something. It was way too early for her to be awake. Um, normally, but I still, of course, didn’t think. And then I picked up the phone and it was just a piercing scream. And I think any mother knows. I mean, I, my daughter is, um, was a 16 year old. I’d certainly heard her upset many times through the 16 years of parenting her, but I knew immediately that something was really wrong, that this was not, um, a dramatic teenager, that this was not that I had never, ever heard my daughters scream like that.
My daughter, apostrophe S not that I have daughters and okay. And the next few minutes were just, um, if I were to film them, rather than perform them that way, it would be like, I was just underwater. Like everything was just, I even saying it now, my stomach is tightening. My chest is tightening. My head is throbbing. It was, I was trying to put it together while driving, while hearing. And then I, I hung up with my daughter and called my husband and the police were there. I could not understand why the police were in my house. Um, no one could really explain it to me by the grace of God, my brother, who I’m very close with and who adores my children and my children adore him. And, um, he was staying two houses from us and he was able to come and get my kids.
But anyway, that was, that was the moment. And to be honest, I still didn’t quite understand what was happening even as I was calling, uh, my dad to ask him to come over and take my husband to see a lawyer. I, it was still like, “What is this a mistake? Is this an…” until later that day, I actually went to work and I did fill my scenes. I, I don’t remember. Um, there is a story that I didn’t tell in the show, cause I didn’t know it when I was doing the show. Um, the New York times did an article about it. And, um, and the guy who was the assistant director of this particular television show, who I’ve worked with a bunch of my husband is a TV producer and director, or he was, he hasn’t actually worked, um, in that field since. Um, but he, um, this Ady also knows my husband very well cause my husband worked a lot.
And um, and he’s known me for many years cause I’ve worked on and off for many, many years. And he said it was interesting. Cause when he read the story in the times he said “I was the A.D. on that semi-terrible show. And I pulled into the parking lot right before you did.” And he said, “You didn’t see me, but I saw your car pull in. And I saw you sit in your car, put your head down and sob. And then I saw you lift up your head, take a breath and get out of the car.” And I had already called him and said, “I’m having a family emergency. Could I possibly, um, get off work early?” And he said, when “I saw you, I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew something. And I saw this person…” , you know, I was a kid actress.
Like you keep going and you do your job. I still don’t know almost why or how I did that. But, um, and I’m sure some people judge me for that. But I, I, I, the end of this long story is that until my husband got into my car a few hours after that, I really didn’t think this could be true. And it, I still didn’t… listen, there are some days I wake up and I still go, “Wait, what?”
Maddie: So, um, but that moment in the car, my, my, um, my whole life changed and some would say my whole life was ruined, but I don’t see it that way anymore. I, uh, I don’t about this and the show either, but like, I’ve gone back to work, um, not just, you know, on the play, but I I’ve done television jobs. And when I see someone on a set who was on the set that day, um, I still have a certain feeling and I’m less so, but initially it was a real, like, you talk about betrayal trauma.
That was just fear and terror and, “Oh my God, am I going to talk about it? Am I going to think about it?” And then, um, I did job. I’ve never told this story, but I did do a job on a TV show and, um, you know, a lot. Yeah. The people I would work with were new, my husband. And so therefore knew the story and I was kind of angry, not kind of, I was very angry because I was like, I don’t even get to go to work and forget about this. You know, it’s, it’s every, it just, it’s everywhere. It’s on me. And I just want to go and forget, you know, part of the fun of being an actress is you get to go pretend to be somebody else. And it just felt very heavy when people would say, “How are you?”
And they’d look at my ring finger to see if I was wearing. And they wouldn’t ask about Jace. I said my husband’s name, but that’s okay. They wouldn’t ask about him, which felt worse than if they did ask about him, but that also felt bad. I’ve come a long way. I mean, now I actually lead with, if someone says, “How are you?” I say “I’m doing pretty well. And, and my husband’s great and the kids are great.” You know, I give them permission because we were, everybody was tiptoeing around, but I did this one show, I guess. And, um, an actor that I didn’t know before, um, was talking to me and said, I don’t know, I had a friend in common, he was talking about an actor. And I said, “Oh, I love that guy. I worked with him on a show.” Um, and I said the name of a show that actually my husband had directed and he goes, “Oh, I know that show.
Did you hear about what happened to that guy? That, that Producer/ Director?” And I said, “Yes.” And he goes, “God, can you believe it? What an, what a creep!” or whatever he said. And I, I had this moment of going, all right, you can just go into your dressing room now, or you can. And I said, “That’s my husband.” And it was, I am a person who actually is a pretty, um, nice person. So I actually felt bad that I had made this actor uncomfortable, but he said, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow, wow. Oh, well, I mean, are you, you’re not still together.” I said, “Yes, we are.” And then we, you had to go back to filming the scene. And I went back to my dressing room and he was a regular on the show. I was just a guest. And I came back and I will say this at the end of the day.
And this was long before I had written the show. This was early on. And it was, I felt pretty brave, you know, to have done this and I, I didn’t start crying or anything. And, and at the end of the shoot, he said, “You know, you seem like a really, um, smart kind good person. And you seem like a good mom.” Cause we’d been talking, his kids were on the set and I was nice to them and talked about my kids. And he said, “So I want you to know that I’m going to rethink the way I think because I met you.” And, um, and I, I held it together. And then I got in the car to drive back and I wept all the way home because it felt really heavy that that was, and, um, and I felt really good and I felt really bad and I got home and I was really angry at my husband and I held my kids tight. And like, that is that story. And then I wasn’t angry at my husband, but that’s kind of the…
Garrett: It’s a beautiful thing that it’s just a small example of someone learning…
Garrett: Like that, that person, it sounds like that person was able to maybe increase their curiosity a little bit more, which allowed them to maybe increase their empathy.
I hope so. And I think that’s what, you know, being a person, not just, I spoke to someone the other day who said, yes, um, we’re going to talk about pornography. Um, at this symposium that we have this doctor and that doctor and this doctor, and I said, “I’d like to come. I’m not a doctor, but I’m a, I’m a person.” And I think that as we put humanity to, um, situations, it can help people. It can. And that’s of course, what good theater television film can do. And I know I told my story, but even fictionalizing stories where, you know, we look at it in the world today where, Oh, all the bad guys used to look a certain way. Um, that’s not great for racism. That’s not great for anything. You know, we have to show people as people. And, um, and, and I think that I was surprised and delighted by how many people in my artistic community embraced me and my family and said, “We understand nuance. We understand process. We understand humanity.”, but I was really surprised by how many people in my suburban mom and dad, coaches, teachers, community have been incredibly kind and accepting and saying, “We also understand, you know, you don’t, you don’t have to go to the fringes of society. We, um, we have darkness too.” And we have, we, we see people who, who see us see that we’re trying and we’re working and trying to, um, to heal and hopefully to heal some, some others as well.
Garrett: Yeah, I think that, um, I love hearing you explain your experience and some of these details that aren’t included in the book or in the play, um…
Maddie: My Director kept it when I had to cut a lot of things to make it, you know, 90 minutes, which is basically what people can sit through. Um, even I think it’s even a little shorter, but when, when we cut things, she’d go “Save it for the book.” There is no book. Save it for the, for the podcast.
Garrett: Yep. Well, um, we would love for there to be a book someday. And also talking about that 90 minutes when I started it, I didn’t know that it was only 90 minutes. And then I got to the end of the 90 minutes and I was like, “Wow!”, like it was just so good and so helpful and so powerful. Um, so I was gonna originally, sorry, go ahead.
Maddie: Well, I was going to say one of the coolest things for me was when couples came to the show and you could feel them. I think a lot of, um, men were scared to come to the show, their partners.
Maddie: And you could feel during the show that it really is a love story in some ways. And so midway through the show, you’d feel people kind of like coming together together. So, but go ahead. What were you gonna say?
Garrett: Yeah, I was going to say originally when I, when I sent you the list of questions, when I was trying to think, what, what should we cover during this conversation? I had a lot of questions, specific questions that are covered in your play, but I think that we should probably just encourage people to go and, um, use their audible credit to listen to the play.
Maddie: Yeah. [laughter] It’s free. If you have an audible credit, I would love that. And, and please let me know what you think. Um, even if you have difficult things to say, um, I’m, I’m, I’m open to it. And, uh, I hope that it’s just my story, but I hope that it’s helpful. And, um, I hope that people can feel, and end one thing that I’ve learned is that people relate to the story. I thought people would come because it was sensational and they want to know what the hell happens when “this lady’s husband gets arrested”, then what, um, and I’m sure people did come because of that. But there were so many people who said, you know, my sister struggles with addiction or my child got hit by a car, like the stories that have nothing to do with my story, but entail, um, loss and shock and…
Maddie: Mourning, grief, and, and life changing from, you know, one thing I, I still say on my not so good days is “This isn’t what it was supposed to look like.”
Um, and I think right now with, um, the world being a little bit upside down, um, a lot of my friends who’ve been through, um, betrayal or other kinds of things feel somewhat equipped for this time because they’ve already had their lives turned upside down. They’ve already had work taken away or love taken away or, um, connection taken away and had to, to rebuild, to, um, come up with plan B, C, D.
Maddie: So, yes, I hope. And I will say, I remember when I was doing press for the show, my producer would always say, “Tell them, it’s funny.” [laughter]
Maddie: Because it sounds so dark. And of course it is dark and there’s some real, like dark night of the soul moments, but there also is humor in, in, I think going, uh, the, the biggest, it was interesting to see what I thought was funny versus what the audiences would just really laugh along when I’m just talking about what people say and no one had any, I don’t think anyone who reached out to me had any intention… This is pretty, you know, people who reach out to me online sometimes have, uh, the intention to hurt me, but, but these were friends and family reaching out. Um, but some things people say are so ridiculous and horrifying. And I, those were some of the things I cut cause the list was too long.
Maddie: I did have a friend. I had a friend say to me very soon after. I mean, very soon after, “How are you?” You know, and that’s always a difficult question. “I am not good.” Um, but, and she said, you know, I won’t say the name. Um, I have “My husband and I were devastated when we heard the news and we stayed up all night and we prayed together and we chanted together and it was actually one of the best nights of our marriage. And I have never felt closer to my partner.” And I was like, “Well, you’re welcome.” [laughter]
Maddie: That was not helpful. And it was certainly not what I was feeling about my partner. There was no chanting or…
Garrett: The chanting might have sounded a little different. [laughter]
Maddie: [laughter] Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, I did,
I think, “Well, I’m glad I was able to bring you and you’re perfect husband closer together. Damn it.” Um, but I love by the way, this is a person who I love very much and who, nobody knows what to say. Nobody knows what to say. And I now oftentimes on the other side, cause everybody calls me or tells their friend to call me or tells their sister in laws therapist to call me. And there is no right thing to say, except I am a person who can feel sorry with you and not just feel sorry for you. I get it. I’ve been there. And now I can be the person who goes, “I am telling you that your kids will be okay, that you will be okay that believe it or not, you might be even way better than okay. And stronger than you ever knew that you were.” So I, I just, you know, I’m, I’m happy to talk to you. I’m happy that you’re doing what you’re doing.
Um, again, I think there are certain people who don’t know the nuance of my story who think that I’m, um, I’m okay with certain things and I’m not, and my husband’s not. And that is part of my, I don’t even want to say a mission cause it sounds very lofty, but I feel like it’s part of my purpose is to say it can really pornography can really blow up a person’s life. And, um, and it, it’s not only happening to other people it’s happening to people just like you and just like me and good people, good people with good hearts, good fathers, good husbands, good men.
Maddie: Um, and, and the collateral damage is real. Um, and the betrayal trauma that partner’s experience in various ways is real. And when we talk to each other, it can just be great. And, you know, I go to, um, like I said, some meetings with partners, some daughters and sons, but also mostly partners.
And there’s laughter in those rooms because there’s just common experience. And uh, and a sister and brotherhood and that’s healing too. And most people have been on both sides. Most people have been abused and are experiencing betrayal. Most people who in my, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a researcher, but in the many, many, many people that I’ve been in contact with most people who have any kind of sex addiction, compulsion, porn addiction/ compulsion have had their own trauma, as you said, their own abuse. And that’s another thing that is kept really secret. And so if we criminalize, um, people then that healing can’t take place and more addiction will happen. And, um, so that’s why, even though it’s uncomfortable and scary, I do keep talking about this stuff. Um, because I do think that that’s the way to heal.
Garrett: I thought back to your play, your life play and people coming up to you after you said that the second part of the show is having conversations in the lobby or whatnot. And you said that several people will come up after each show. And I would imagine that for every person that comes up, there’s probably 10 people that didn’t, that weren’t ready to come up and talk about it, but kind of wanted to, do you get that feeling?
Maddie: I, I do because I also had that experience where people wrote me, uh, letters like old fashioned handwritten letters and emails and things and said, “I couldn’t, um, I left the theater. I couldn’t even, um, not during the show, but you know, I couldn’t, I had to catch my breath. I had to compose myself.” Um, I did have one woman who I saw on the street after who had an experience like that, where she didn’t stay in the lobby, but I went out to get something to eat and I was walking back and she said, “I just saw your show.” And I said, “Oh, um, I hope you liked it.” You know? And she said, “I just went back and bought tickets for tonight.” And I thought “That’s a lot. It’s a lot for me to do it twice. I can’t imagine you want to see it twice.”
And she said, told me her story. And she had discovered some stuff on her. Um, her husband died and she discovered just a whole, um, collection of a certain kind of pornography. And, um, she was just, she never told anyone and she didn’t have her husband around to work through it with her. And, and she never told anybody and she just read about the show and she came and yeah, so that was, it was very moving to me. And, um, and there were people who didn’t tell me their story, who just hugged me after and cried. And I kind of felt that too. And like I said, there were people who I know very well that came to see the show who then told me things that I never knew about themselves, about their fathers, about something. And, um, and it helped. And I didn’t get any negative feedback from people who actually saw or heard the show.
I only got it from people who didn’t, who just read about it. Um, so that felt good too. And I, um, I’m sure there are people, but they, for the most part, it was, um, there’s a lot of love and, uh, understanding. And, um, and there was a nice feeling among the audience. Like some people who saw it by themselves, so they would just clutch the person next to them at certain times. And so that feels good. That felt good. And, um, and I hope that’s, I hope I can keep doing that. And I hope other people feel encouraged that I did get that response because when I would get really, um, nasty things written on Twitter or whatever, um, I was, of course I be lying to say it didn’t upset me, but I was also upset thinking my kids would read it, but I was also upset thinking about the women men thinking about coming forward with their story and going, “Oh no, that’s exactly what I was afraid of.” And so I think it’s important for me to share how much love and support I have received from all kinds of communities, religious, um, addiction, just normal people, whatever that is. Um, but really, I I’ve been really surprised. I knew that other partners I hoped and knew that other partners needed to hear this, and that was why I wanted to do it, but I was surprised at how many people understand that this is a real issue. Um, okay. Yeah. Talk to your ear.
Garrett: No, I, I love it. I want to encourage our listeners to, if I hope it’s okay that I say this to get your play on audible and then also to leave a review, is this,
Garrett: Um, because I think it’s important too, to share those positive thoughts with you. And, um, so the last, …
Maddie: Oh, I’ll just say this. I did have couples come and I think a lot of couples may listen to your podcast. And one of the things that was helpful for me, um, and I hope is it, I think that when this happens to people it’s, so we want our partners to get it and understand our pain. And so the couples I know that have listened together or shared this, um, it’s not punishing, but it is somehow like, “Oh, I see. I see, I see, I see that…” because I know men in recovery are doing there and some women, but mostly I know men are doing their own really hard work and it is hard work, but this story, my story can kind of remind people that there’s somebody also struggling sometimes very quietly, sometimes very loudly,
Maddie: But just, um, just recognizing that, um, that I see your pain, I see what I did and I’m here and I’m taking accountability and that was, um, I say it in the play, but that was the beginning of my marriage. Being able to heal was really at that moment where my husband kind of stepped out of his own pain and shame and said, “I know that I, I know that I hurt you in a way that is hard to describe.” And I do describe it in the show. So I do encourage, um, couples to listen together because, and then at the end of the day, it’s, um, it is a love story and love being partly that a love story about a family.
Garrett: I love that. And yeah, I think that’s one of the things that your book did for me. Cause there were times during your play that I laughed, there were times where I was like really shocked, like, “Oh my goodness.” And I think that was, that was it. I think you hit it on the head when you said that, basically it allows me to understand the scope of your experience. And so I, yeah, I just wanna encourage our listeners to check it out. Um, Accidentally Brave. We will link it to this episode so that you can find it easily and consume it. I listened to it three times. So you know that it’s good. [laughter] I wouldn’t have wanted to listen to it again if it wasn’t. Um, but I do want to leave you with the opportunity to have the last word during this conversation. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before ending?
Maddie: Oh my gosh. Um, just, I would, I guess try to speak to the people out there that are struggling, that are feeling shame and pain and just say, I see you. I feel you go where it’s warm, take it day by day, and know that you’re absolutely not alone.
Garrett: Where did you find warmth? I guess I had one last question based on your last comments.
Maddie: It’s a good questions. I mean, I love that expression go where it’s warm. Um, and I think that I, I was confusing warmth with familiarity and familiarity with warmth. Like what seemed like warm was just familiar, but nothing worked that usually worked for me. Um, so for me, warmth is people who listen without judgment for me, warmth is my kids. For me, warmth is getting really quiet and checking in with my version of a higher power. Um, that feels warm. What’s not worm is checking what every person I’ve ever met on Facebook thinks about something. Um, it’s not warm to beat myself up. It’s not, it wasn’t warm for me to be around certain friends and family early on. Um, I needed, I needed a S and, and certain friends and family were great and others who I love very much. It just didn’t. It felt too, um, too judgmental and I needed, I needed softness early on. Um, and, and so, yeah, I guess for me, warmth is just shared vulnerability and, and it really important to me to create a community. It didn’t have to be big. It’s grown to be pretty big. Um, and the people who, who are loving and interested in growth
Garrett: Before this conversation, I knew that you were a strong and smart woman, but I’m leaving the conversation I’m even more inspired. So, thank you for joining us today and thanks for showing up day in and day out.
Maddie: Um, thank you for doing what you’re doing and, um, I really appreciate you having me on, um, it’s been a real pleasure.
Fight the New Drug Ad: Talking about pouring can be tricky. That’s why we created an interactive conversation guide called Let’s Talk About Porn. Simply select who you’d like to talk to your partner, child, friends, parents, or even a stranger and select the type of conversation you’d like to have. We’ll walk you through a healthy way to approach this taboo topic in a productive conversation. Let’s Talk About Porn is available for free both in English and Spanish. So you can be prepared to talk when someone asks “Why are you listening to a podcast about the harms of porn?” Access to the guide and start talking at FTND.org/blueprint. That’s FTND.org/blueprint.
Garrett: Thanks for joining 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 and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links attached to this episode.
Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.
MORE RESOURCES FROM FTND
A three-part documentary about porn’s impacts on consumers, relationships, and society.
Fifteen research-based articles detailing porns negatively impacts.
Tees to support the movement and change the conversation wherever you go.
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 interactive site with short videos highlighting porn’s proven negative effects.