Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hulky Bruce


I've been struggling for a while now to label my husband's shifts in attitudes.
Jekyll and Hyde?

So many times women have said, without knowing our situation, "If my husband had a porn problem, I would leave him.  THAT'S my line."
I always nod along.  I'm sure that IS their line, but when it comes right down to it -when that "line" is crossed, we start to really find out about ourselves.

I know a woman who raised a large family with her husband of many, many years.  While his daughter was in high school, he did prison time for having inappropriate relations with her.  He did his time, he is a registered sex offender, and he and his wife are still married to this day.
His wife is a very grounded woman.
He is a very somber, humble man.  There's not a lick of "I got away with it" in his countenance.

THAT is my line.  If you harm my kids, buddy, I'm gone.  But I've spent years hurting and healing and hurting and healing... my trust is broken, my faith in my husband wobbly, and something like that would definitely send me running for cover -running away forever.

And as I listen to women insist that if their husband has a porn problem they would leave, I wonder about myself.
Am I just not strong enough?
Am I just stupid?

But the thing is.  I know something about people with porn problems that they don't.
People with porn problems can still be nice, giving, warm, wonderful, funny, and repentant.
The porn doesn't define them until... well, until it does.  And even then, it isn't obvious to the outside world -it isn't even obvious to them.  I see it in my husband, and I've finally found a label for it.
My husband is my Bruce Banner.
He is also my Hulk.

He white-knuckles trying to control the beast -he tries, he hates his Hulk, and he uses all kinds of tools to right the monster.
But something will trigger it, and he will lose control.
And he really does smash.
Smash what trust he's built.
Smash my faith in him.
Smash the kids' little feelings when things get taken out on them that shouldn't.
Smash my bruised heart (sorry, there was no way around being sappily dramatic on that one).
Smash, smash, smash.

And then he comes out of it: he flies out of acting out into a pile of crap, exposed, naked, vulnerable, embarrassed, humbled, and resolved to shove his Hulk out of the picture for good.

The thing is: I can't leave Bruce Banner.  Who would?  No one with half a brain.
The other thing is: I CAN leave Hulk.  I don't freaking have to live with that monster.

I didn't always know that.  I didn't realize that I could take the Bruce and leave the Hulk.  I thought they were one in the same, marrying one meant marrying the other.
But I didn't marry the Hulk.
And whenever he comes around to smash, I'm leaving.  Or I'm barring the door.  Either way, there's no place for him here.
And guess what?  I'm AM strong enough.  I'm NOT stupid.
What's more: I've learned more about myself than I ever thought possible.  It isn't all good, but I'm grateful to be learning it.  I'm grateful a "line" has been crossed.  It's hard and it hurts and sometimes I scream and sometimes I cry and sometimes I write angry letters to women who wear skirts so tight I can see their thong line.
But it's also revealing, and everything I'm learning I get to take with me later on.
I've lived with the Hulk long enough to learn what I've needed to learn from him, and I don't need him anymore.  I don't WANT him anymore.
I'll stick with my good doctor.
For now.


  1. What a timely post for me! I've just been thinking about how my husband is like a guy who has a sleep disorder. A serious sleep disorder where he sleep walks and hits me with a baseball bat. He might wake up in the morning and cry about how he didn't want to hurt me, but the fact is, I still got hit with a baseball bat. So if this sleep disorder were really hapening, you can bet we would have in some clinic, getting to the bottom of the issue. And int he mean time, I'm pretty sure we would stop sleeping in the same quarters.

    And that's where we're at, I am telling him, "I will not let you slug me anymore. Even if you are asleep. You can get help and work to get better, or I WILL protect myself from you."

    1. It does feel like that, doesn't it? And I wish we could call the RS president and say, "My husband backed over me with a car. I'm going to need a few dinners..." but we don't. We just hibernate and feed the children Fruit Loops for dinner :)

  2. Everything Ive read says that this really is a disease just like drug addiction( my hulk). It seems mean to think you would leave someone because they had Cancer or MS or Diabetes. The reality is that divorce rates are higher in couples with life altering illnesses and in couples who have children with illnesses. The stress is too much sometimes.
    The people who suffer from those diseases are still good people. I think pornography is to men what Breast cancer is to women ( please, I know it sounds stupid) It affects more men than women but neither sex is immune. How tough are we and how long do we stick with each other?

    1. Your comment reminds me of this post:
      It really is a disease.
      "How tough are we and how long do we stick with each other?"
      I'm so glad I don't have to make that decision on my own. Ultimately, it lies with me to say "I'm out" or "I'm in" but I know I can't say either one of those things without my Savior backing me up. It's such a relief to know I don't carry the full weight of that heavy decision. Right now, I'm definitely IN :)

    2. I was just thinking about the treatment side of things and I like how the article addresses it. People like to compare addiction to cancer, but I know my husband isn't willing to do "chemotherapy." I wish I could get it into his brain somehow! He's convinced that the Savior is the master healer (very true) and so he'll just "go straight to the source." If he had cancer, would he think that he wouldn't need to see a doctor or have chemo treatments? No. But for some reason, he thinks he doesn't need any kind of outside help for this. It's hard to watch, knowing he is just going to let himself down again and again (and his family).

  3. my line was "if you cheat on me its over." Now look at me!!! enduring more than i ever thought humanly possible. weird what perspective does for us. I'm starting to see that it isn't just about me.

    1. Right? I had a friend once say, "I'd rather have my husband die than have a porn problem." She had no idea at the time that we were dealing with porn in our marriage. Ironically, her husband did die. And I can say with a surety: I'll take porn over death any day.

  4. This is such a great analogy.

    And one of my greatest fears is my husband harming our children (or any child for that matter). I'm hoping that isn't a bridge I have to cross.

    1. I hope you don't ever have to either. That would be so hard!

  5. Wow...The Hulk...brilliant Alicia!!

    I probably say this a lot, but "I love this!" What's funny is my husband acts out his dreams and sometimes he can be pretty aggressive in his sleep. Thrashing around!! I have to watch out! Once he punched the wall. He has luckily not hit me, but I can see his addiction, being like how Marlee described it.

    I am all for getting some RS sisters homemade casserole. I think my kids have had chili 3 nights this week. Ugh!

    My famous answer to what's for dinner?

    "'s cold outside...chili is always good!"

    1. I've been so lucky to have a member of the forum live right down the road from me. She made dinner for me last night, and I just LOVE her. It's so nice to have at least one sister in the RS who KNOWS, you know?