This is a guest blog post, written by Lili of PoSarc in response to a partner describing the impact of her loved one’s pornography use on her self image. This partner told Lili that even Helen of Troy would not be “enough” for her husband. This is a common feeling by partners- that feeling of being “less than” or “not enough”- and Lili speaks powerfully about the LIE that we are not enough! I hope this is encouraging to you and/or your clients.
“Dear aka “Helen of Troy”-
And Dear millions of other women out there who may have internalized the messages conveyed by their partner’s pornography use-
You well describe this deadly symptom of a partner’s porn use that leaves us at enmity with ourselves, split off and divided against ourselves- Sadly, we believe (wrongly) that if we were only more of this or less of that, he would not have “had” to develop this most selfish of all habits, the compulsive use of pornography. Tragically, in looking for what’s wrong with us, we overlook all that is beautiful and right with our magnificent bodies.
Am I the only one who is enraged at this insidious wearing away of women’s self-esteem the world over, thanks to the virus called pornography? I think not…
I am sure that since so many PoSAs (partners of sex addicts) have experienced this kind of devaluation of self-esteem, there are many ways they have learned to negotiate this particular pain….and hopefully we’ll hear some ways that some have found healing.
Here are some of my own hopefully helpful pointers:
1- Anger can be essential here in helping you restore the boundary that your husband violated. Please don’t allow yourself to be talked out of your righteous outrage by well-meaning friends, family members, 12-step “support” groups for partners of sex addicts, by religious leaders or even by therapists who don’t understand the particularly powerful impact this kind of soul wound carries.
Anger can be what ultimately helps you say, “No” even as society is saying, “Yes! Sure, why not? No harm is done with a man looking at pornography, a man isn’t really cheating when he worships his favorite porn idols” and other nonsense like that. Keep your “No” strong as it will help you determine and then enforce what you need to feel safe in your relationship and valued.
2- Don’t bother wasting a minute of your precious time trying to compete with the objects of his attention. It’s not you he wants when he’s searching out “the perfect girl” online, it’s a chimera. And competing by trying to change your looks or act more seductive ultimately only reinforces in you your own belief that somehow you weren’t enough for him.
3- Experiment with whether you feel differently when you take the focus off the fascist beauty standards that say you might not be “hot” enough (I really do hate that word to describe anything other than my stove when I’m cooking or the weather right now).
If you don’t possess perfectly X, Y and Z physical attributes and aren’t X age (insert ridiculously low number), then congratulate yourself for having broken allegiance with the painfully narrow societal norms for beauty.
You are a goddess, a Helen of Troy no matter what. Here’s what’s important to remember:
The body isn’t designed to be ornamental, it’s designed to be functional!
If you’ve given birth to children, you have extra knowledge of just how miraculous your body truly is. If you’ve overcome illness, if you wake up feeling refreshed every morning, if your body carries you where you want it to go, and even if it doesn’t, it still houses the incredible being that you are.
I love what the powerhouse Oprah had to say in the especially wonderful May 2014 issue of her magazine:
“I’ve spent way too many years resisting, neglecting and negating my body.
Wanting Diana Ross’s hips instead of my own.
I can tell you for sure: Those days are over.
Every morning when I wake up, before I steep my first cup of chai, I stand in front of the mirror in my pj’s and bless my body- starting with my feet and legs, which allow me to keep standing, and ending with my head, which gives me the brainpower to execute my vision of empowering others.
From my beautiful perch atop the mountain of 60, I can see clearly how futile it is for any of us to have anything but praise and awe for these vessels that house our humanity.
All the years I dieted, complained, and was less than satisfied with my shape have yielded to a new perspective, an appreciation for the body that’s brought me this far.
These days, it’s wonder I feel each time I get my annual physical and, during the stress test, hear the swoosh of my heart pumping blood.
It’s a reminder that, whatever age you’re at, life has its own rhythm.
My goal is to stay in step and not take one beat of it for granted.”
And might I add: every moment of your life is so precious, don’t waste too much of it trying to argue a porn addict out of his obsession.
You already gave him your past, don’t let him rob you of your future by worrying you are not enough and allowing his actions to demean you further.
You are worth so very much more than that.
As is every PoSA in the world- Helen of Troys, each and every one.”
Lili B. PoSarc