Episode 166: Part Three - Darcy and Zach's Story - Getting to Thrive Beyond PornographyNov 07, 2022
166 Part Three - Darcy and Zach's Story - Getting to Thrive Beyond Pornography
But hey everybody and welcome to another week of thriving beyond pornography I'm your host Darcy and I have Zach with me today hey we are super excited to have this conversation. We. Love you guys and we're grateful that we get to do this podcast again. For the third time this exact podcast. Yeah, this is the third time we're recording this for technical difficulties. Ah, so last week we talked about the really difficult time that Darcy and I had in making progress at eliminating pornography from our lives. We tried. Everything you know I did 12 steps I did counselor Emdr’s Cognitive behavioral theory or therapy I don't know what it is cbt I talked to Bishop Lds family services. We worked with somebody at Lds family services a couple of times we did couples, therapy. Book after book after book like we've read and read and read while I often found valuable information in worthwhile connections in each of these processes, I really just wasn't getting the lasting results that I was looking for and it seemed like something was always missing I wasn't getting to the underlying issue. What was going on for me, it seemed like everything these processes were designed to do was just about stopping the one habit that they were missing what was missing for me was that they were not addressing my reason for choosing pornography and they were not giving me the actionable steps.
To deal with that underlying issue directly so pornography would stop being something that I would choose to cope and it was very focused on pornography as yeah you're fine it's fine and it was people hear that stuff all the time and it was very focused on pornography and yeah porn was the problem, yeah and it wasn't really focusing on really the dynamic in our relationship and how all of this came to be and. Was a great environment for this porn struggle to just yeah like it was like yeah we could talk about porn all day long. But we're not creating an environment. We're not creating you know a structure that allows you to. Move beyond pornography and really succeed at not just stopping 1 particular bad habit but being a person who can actually grow and learn through this process I really believed that if I were you know more righteous or doing better in 12 steps or simply not so broken sexually that my porn struggle would just go away. And I really believed that too, I thought if he was more righteous if he was doing more of the things if he was loving me better and if he just loved me enough. You know all of those kinds of ideas that porn would not be a problem.
And it was really frustrating because doing all of that was not helping. Yeah um, I also did all of those above things that Zach mentioned, and the only thing I did differently than Zach was I joined some betrayal trauma groups on Facebook um. And I read books on codependency and betrayal trauma. And yeah, all of that good stuff. Well so back to that night in September of 2012 when I had come home and Darcy was like hey listen, I need you to stop going to these meetings because she really desperately needed my support at home my help at home. I knew that even though she was like don't go to these meetings anymore. Don't go like we don't need you to go do all that stuff because it's not working really was why she said that but she also needed my help and I just I knew that I wanted to figure this out anyway, even though she was. Fine with me not going so I began taking a look inward and I was deciding that this is something that I wanted to resolve for myself forever and even though Darcy asked me to stop spending my time going it out and doing all those things. That we were supposed to do to get the help that we were supposed to have I didn't want to stop trying to overcome this habit even though all that stuff that we had been doing just wasn't making it better.
Um, yeah for me one of the most impactful things that I I if I look back and I think that sorry for me 1 of the most impactful things. I did that I believed helped me move from where I was in an angry bitter victimized position to ah the path that I jumped on was learning um, just what was going on in those betrayal trauma groups. And deciding to leave those behind when I first found out about Zach's porn struggle I believe those groups brought me value right? They helped me to know that I was not alone in this struggle and they gave me a place to hear other women's stories and share my story. Getting lots and lots of validation and so much validation felt good right? like it felt so great to have all these people all these women validating my experience and helping me ah, feel heard which is valuable to an extent. Yeah, I think very much so at the beginning. Ah. At the time most of the women in the group were a good 20 years older than me, but there was 1 other mom. Ah that was around my age and we connected outside of this group and we both started to realize that the environment of these groups became very negative and most of the conversations, ah turned to ah.
Husband bashing and rants about how horrible their husbands were, I noticed the more time I spent in these groups the angrier bitter victimized, and hopeless I became we both came to the conclusion that these groups were not helping us become the people that we wanted to be and to create the solution to the problem. We found ah ourselves in those first few months after we stopped going to all the meetings, I don't recall changing a whole lot on my side ah especially surrounding pornography. Was pretty bogged down with newborn twins and our 4 other kids were 3 5 6 and 7 so that was a lot of kids. Yeah, as you can imagine. My life was crazy busy and I also decided I'm doing homeschooling so that was the first year that we started homeschooling. So. Just a lot going on. Yeah, that was a very busy time. Um, I decided I was going to stop putting all of my mental focus and energy on solving Zack's porn problem and I started to strive to create a life outside of this struggle. Ah, my energy went homeschooling being more present with my kids, and working on our marriage outside of pornography for so many years I just looked at Zach and was like porn written all over him and that was pretty much it.
Ah, such a great. When I saw him as right it was like it was really hard for me to see him as the real person that he was outside of that porn struggle and I think that was really something that changed you when it came to interacting with me is just like. It was very hard for you to see me as anything other than someone who is struggling with porn and in that time when you started to shift from you know porn is the only problem, we have to I got to be the mom of these kids and doing homeschooling and really starting to focus back in on yourself. Think that changed you dramatically and gave you I think a sense of purpose that was beyond just this one problem. So, for me after deciding that. Ah you know I'm not giving up I started to spend a little bit of time observing myself more closely I started to begin tracking the patterns of my choices and I started. To understand that my pornography problem and the struggle that I had with pornography didn't start with just this temptation of viewing pornography. It wasn't like out of the blue with nothing going on my brain would be like hey man look at porn, right? like that just didn't happen what I was learning was that I was not very good at dealing with my unwanted. Uncomfortable thoughts feeling sensations and urge that was the start so that realization was the start of learning how to really deal with me in a more honest and effective way that was also the start of learning to let go of trying to manage Darcy's anxieties
And she had anxieties not just around pornography but with all sorts of things that I had been working to manage her around so whether it was when I was out of town on business or I was just saying yes to things that I knew would make her happy in the short term but that would be something I would regret in the long term I started to give that sort of thing up. I’m learning to manage myself and deal with myself more directly I stopped managing Darcy and I found that a lot of my difficulty in not choosing pornography became less and less of a struggle I also became more capable of confronting. My. My own discomforts and dealing with them in a direct manner rather than trying to get around them which is what I was using pornography to do I could see that Zach was making big shifts that started to pull me along with him I could see that he was changing and I didn't want. To be left behind. That's probably what was going on. Really yeah, that isn't to say that if your spouse is viewing porn. They have to be the ones to make the first move. Um, it. It could have been me that made those first moves all those years ago. Ah. But I didn't have the skills and to be honest I was really clueless back then. Um, I didn't have a lot of self-awareness. Ah, I began to notice that Zach was interacting with me differently in the past, and in the beginning, do as yeah.
You started to notice how I was changing my interactions with you. Why did it put them in the past that he was interacting with me differently than the past than he had in the past you're right? Okay, I began to notice that Zach was interacting with me differently than he had been. In the past and in the beginning, it was really hard for me because it was so different, I was very used to Zack accommodating me and giving in to whatever I wanted all the time because he was trying. To make up for his shortcomings I was trying to atone for how bad a person I was because I viewed pornography. Yeah, and I very graciously or not so graciously accepted the role of I'm better than you because I don't struggle with porn and. Kept us in that dynamic where I no matter what he did was always higher than him I was the good I was the righteous one and he was less than me and so I think in a lot of ways you can correct me but I'm wrong Zach was trying to earn. His worth and earning his value in our marriage and all these other ways so that I would see him differently than the way I was currently seeing him. Totally this became something I had to grow up around and learn to accept.
Also became very apparent that Zach was no longer going to sacrifice his own happiness in an effort to try and make me happy because no matter how much he sacrificed. It was never really going to make me happy. Um, as much as I wanted to believe in that fairy tale. I was going to marry this perfect man and he was just going to fulfill me and make my life just so beautiful and dreamy and I would be the happiest person on earth with all these beautiful babies and we would live happily ever after that was not what we were experiencing Disneyland's calling they want. Do they want their plot back? Yeah. So, I had to live in the present moment more than living in the past or in the future when I was living in the past right? I would get angry and resentful and when I was living in the future, I would get fearful or I would get anxious and worry about it. What's going to happen in the future? What are you know What's going to happen I had to find new ways to address my anxiety and calm myself down I depended a lot on Zach to comfort me and make me feel okay and um, what's the word I'm trying to look at? Like to ah make me feel safe. Ah so that I could be okay and he wasn't doing that I stopped doing it I stopped trying to anyway I never was able to do it. But I stopped yeah trying.
So yeah, I mean that's really important I think for anybody who's on this journey like to get to a place where if you’re so if you are the one who's making the move whether you're the spouse who has a husband who views pornography or you're the spouse who is viewing pornography. Whoever makes that move has to be willing to kind of step into a new space where you're not more concerned about yourself than anybody else, but you are clear about what you can control and what you're responsible for, and what you can actually change. And that is you I think a good example of this would be my need for him to tell me that he was not going to look at porn again. Yeah, right? I like it just tell me you're not going to do it again right? Even though like. Subconsciously I didn't actually believe him that he was ever going to ever, in the beginning, but it helped at that moment. Calm me down. Yeah, um, I began to question my beliefs about pornography. And what I was making it mean about Zach about myself about our marriage. What was going to happen I recognized the story. My brain was offering me more about what was like going on in our relationship and what might happen in the future and all of those ideas that would come.
Stopped being the victim of Zach and porn and I started to face it head on it became ah Zach and me versus porn instead of in the beginning it was Darcy versus Zach and porn was in the middle of us and had. All the power is on both ends. Yeah, that was brutal. Um you know I just look at marriage and just trials that we go through in life if we can face our trials together. We are so much stronger than if we were fighting against each other to try and solve our problems. It. So I think you're not more likely to succeed too. Yeah, I mean no matter how you shake it together. We can resolve whatever yeah ah real progress started to happen for both of us things began to feel lighter and our progress was. Visible right? My friends were noticing a change in us and they noticed a change in both me and Zach and just our overall dynamic. Yeah, I questioned what role I played in our dynamic and began cleaning up my side of the street. I was not to blame for his porn struggle or the lying that had taken place but with love and compassion in my heart for both myself and Zach and really digging deep I was able to see the ways in which my behavior was sorry that I'm a start over. Okay.
Do whatever you want I started to question what role I played in our dynamic and I began cleaning up my side of the street I was willing to see what was going on in this dance that we had created. I was not to blame for his porn struggle or the lying but with love and compassion in my heart for both myself and Zach, I was able to see the ways in which my behavior contributed to our current situation and I think that's a really good point. You're making that you're not to blame. For the choices of your partner your spouse. Whatever that looks like you are, however, capable of engaging that relationship differently than you have in the past to allow for change to occur meaning like. You know if instead of it being the person who's viewing pornography making the changes first. It's the spouse who doesn't want pornography in their relationship but is saying okay I can start to recognize how I'm contributing to this and I'm willing to make a change around that regardless of whether my spouse. Stops viewing pornography I can make a difference in this relationship and that may result in your partner overcoming pornography but it also may just result in you becoming a better person creating the person that you want to be and maybe your spouse will come along and the person that you're happy with.
Say 90% of the time. Yeah, the best part of ah the best part about seeing my part even though it was way easier and way more comfortable to just blame all of our struggles on Zach, right? it. It was easy I genuinely could blame everything that was going on in our relationship every trial that we were having every argument every fight I could blame it essentially on Zach and everybody would agree with you. He struggled with porn and I could get an army of women. To stand behind me and support me as yes, he is the problem here and for a lot of years. That's what I did but it didn't ever create the results that we wanted in our marriage and it didn't. Give me any power to create change when I was willing and able to see my faults and the areas in which I could improve I started to grow and mature in real and tangible ways and just like Zach had to stop trying to manage me I had to stop. Trying to manage him I had to stop trying to control his behavior I had to stop you know always saying yes to sex in a way to eliminate his pornography struggle or make it easy for him and that's hard it's hard to give up.
That false sense of control that we think we have by trying to manage our partner. Yeah, I really appreciated it when you stopped managing me and part of that for me was taking back control like not seeding control or management to you when I felt like it. I didn't want to you know those things where I thought you might be overstepping and trying to manage me I would I would have to step in and say okay I'm not really willing to allow that anymore and it's not an unkind conversation. It's just an I'm in charge of this and this is mine and I'm going to take care of it. And as I stopped viewing pornography I so I started to see better where I was not showing up in our relationship and I was able to more capably choose to be the person I wanted to be because I wanted it and that was. Not because I was supposed to or that I had to fulfill this role or my wife wanted me to be or the church wanted me to be or whatever it was. It wasn't this like here's an obligation that you're not meeting and you have to meet it. It was who I actually want to be and how I live in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling. And honestly, this was kind of a place where we got stuck for quite a while you know it didn't get that much better. It was like Darcy and I was just kind of re-founding our relationship and we had to learn a new way of thinking about porn I had moved ah beyond pornography to start over what we had to.
Learn um, start here again. No um, you know we had. We had learned a new way of thinking about pornography I had moved beyond pornography as a daily habit and a weekly habit there's a habit in general and Darcy had moved beyond betrayal and being the victim and staying in that space where everything was happening to her and we were recreating the relationship from the ground up. We had six kids which meant lots of responsibilities. And we had the desire to love each other which became the platform on which we founded ourselves and started to create the change 1 story that stands out in our shift from the old us to the new us. When I stopped accepting duty sex. So, Darcy had to stop saying yes to it and I had to stop saying yes to it for many people out there. Some of you are like wait. Don't say yes to sex that sounds like a bad idea I might never get it right. I might never get sex again. And for many of you like any sex is better than no sex and duty sex is just fine in my transformation from where we had been to where I was, I didn't want to be assured that Darcy just needed to check and you know check off her task list I didn't want to be someone that she just dealt with I wanted to be desired I wanted to be wanted.
Every time we had sex and she was just doing it to manage anytime we had sex that she was doing it to just manage me or solve my nagging I did I would feel gratified at the moment. But ultimately, I would feel unsatisfied with who I had been. What our relationship looked like and it was just not ah it was not a fulfilling activity in the in that broad scheme of things. So, I stopped saying yes when Darcy just wasn't fully present and into our intimate sexual interactions and that was not easy. It was actually quite painful each time and I would. Having to actively observe me going through the feeling of rejection and then choosing close to this with Darcy for me, wasn't easy either because for so many years that was something that I did, right? Weather was always conscience conscious. Ah. I would have sex with Zach because part of it was like that's kind of my job, right? like that's my role as a wife you know I've been told like don't ever turn your spouse down because they might choose to go look at pornography or maybe even worse right? And so. In the back of my mind, I had this idea that it was kind of my job to have sex with my husband and at first when I would say no I would be like are you sure? is it? Ok, you know.
Are you? okay, are you mad at me, right? like and I would have to say and well I didn't have to say but I would say yeah, I'm okay, I'm not mad and that wasn't because I was trying to manage her it was because I was working through the sense that she didn't want me I was internally going through the process of. Understanding my own emotions understanding the feeling of rejection dealing with that feeling of rejection and recognizing first of all that when she was saying no, it wasn't about me and when I was feeling rejected that wasn't about her either. It was about my own sense of self. You know I was never mad but occasionally I would say I'm disappointed I would also say with that that I didn't want to have sex unless we were both into it and we were both willing to participate and fully create something that was for us I was never that articulate at the moment. But. The truth was that was what it was about us coming together not me getting something that I wanted and I had really grown to dislike the idea that sex was just for me because I had quote-unquote needs that were a long time coming and I wish I had someone who could have guided us there and like more quickly given us. The process that you know we went through and a roadmap maybe to see where we were going because we had no idea and I realized that we you know would have had to go through that process ourselves regardless because you really can't make these changes without earning them and it would have been really nice.
However, to it would have had I will say however that it would have been really nice to have an ally whom you know had been to the top of the mountain and was willing to show us the way as we worked through that and a lot of different issues like that. It. It started to create this momentum and over time something really miraculous I think began to happen Darcy became free in our relationship to be herself to engage with me from a place of love and trust. And then she began to desire me. It's amazing. How when you take sexual intimacy out of your checklist your job duty and create a space for it to be a place of freedom and love and self-expression. How amazing. It can be and how rewarding and how fulfilling it truly is and that didn't come easy. No, it took a lot of work on both of our parts, right? Yeah, for me, it. It really was I had to go through those emotions of being strong enough to say no and in the beginning, you know that created some hard feelings for Zach and he you know in the past he would have.
Posted about it and been grampy and he would have poked me all night and tried to get it going right? and bug you and Buggy and bug you yeah come on hey start this. So, let's start this all already now. Yeah, you've been asleep for an hour. Are you ready now like right that kind of dynamic? The growth that occurred in this area of our life was huge. Yeah, and you know we started to become the couple that we wanted to be. We started to become a couple that was choosing each other we learned how to disagree differently. We stopped trying to. Manipulate each other to get what we wanted an example of this was Zach would give me a message and I knew when he was giving me a saw massage exactly what was going to happen next and I could feel that and it became a pattern. Of. You know it. It was almost like an agreement of like okay fine. You give me what I want a massage and then you take that what yeah get and here's what you want? Yeah, and when we it's funny because I look now and I think okay now we can do the same exact actions. He could give me a massage and then we could have sex but the feeling behind it is amazing and it's not taking and it's not coming from this ah entitlement this like a selfish drive. It's.
Giving and it's caring and it's amazing. Well, and I had to stop giving massages for a while, right? I like there was a period where every single morning before Darcy got out of bed, I had to rub her feet. It was like I'm not doing that anymore. You know I had to get to a place not because I was being selfish. But because I was like why am I doing this? What's behind this and am I using this to create a sense of obligation in Darcy that she's going to need to meet something some need of mine or desire of mine later instead I'm now choosing to do that only from a place of. Do I actually want to do this? Is it 100% about me being the person who wants to choose closeness with Darcy and I'm not obligating her to anything in any way later well, and now it's like if you give it, and now if you give me a massage I don't automatically think so? Now I know what's coming now I know what I have to do I can now receive that gift from him without feeling obligated. Yeah, to do whatever he wanted in return? Yeah, and this is us engaging more fully with our own sense of what we want and still choosing. Whatever that is while maintaining the connection and intimacy with each other and I think we so, we see each other more clearly you know we're willing to share ourselves with each other in ways that we weren't before emotionally and mentally and I think we've.
Worked to become the couple that we used to see and be like oh yeah, they're so amazing. We want to be like them when we grow up and that's who we are. That's why we are trying to be clear to recognize that this is an ongoing process. This is not like oh we arrived and all of a sudden, you're done. These are skills and tools and processes that we utilize every day and every week and things change. So, I said this the last time we recorded it but that right now we're in a growth process, and growing is hard. It's uncomfortable. It's frustrating and takes a lot of effort. You know creating tense this new program of Thrive Beyond Pornography and shifting our focus to work with couples together to help them create the success that we have taken, a lot of. Energy and a lot of focus and a lot of our time and it's uncomfortable. Yeah, and it has required us to be willing to reassess and reevaluate and realize oh you know I could probably step in more effectively in this part of our lives and. Maybe I can step back in a different part and Darcy and I have differentiated more clearly and we have stayed as close as we can with each other while doing this process another thing that is really clear to me is that we're more capable of hearing truths from each other and not become and not.
Um, and both not becoming overly emotional or feeling devalued. You know there are times when Darcy comes to me and she says listen this is a real problem and I don't like it and I don't like seeing you in this light and that. Is a struggle for me and instead of me saying oh I'm a terrible husband and I'm a terrible father and like you're devolving into this like a pile of mush on the floor that Darcy has to come rescue and tell me that I'm good enough and like draw me back up or on the flip side get into the. You know self-righteous blaming right? or deflecting. Yeah, right? like oh well you blah blah blah or you know yeah, I can if you would do this? Yeah right, right? I can take that feedback and look at it objectively and allow myself. Space to process it and sometimes I agree and sometimes I don't agree and so that's another part of this component which is you know I can come into that openly and honestly and sometimes I can say yes, I see what you're saying and I can see that I would like to adjust this for myself. Also. Can come into that same conversation and say I don't really agree with what you're saying here and this is why I don't agree and I'm willing to be wrong if I can find some additional understanding here. But I'm not necessarily willing to change at this point based on where I feel I am and it.
It's this difference between you know, a lot of us feel like we have to conform and we have to always be on the same page and this is a sense of not only am I capable of not necessarily agreeing with everything that Darcy says but I can choose intimacy with her. In spite of it and she can choose intimacy with me in spite of that disagreement which is like this totally different plane which I would say is you know why we named this podcast thrive beyond pornography is that that is a place of thriving. I know it seems maybe for some of you that might be in a different place and you're like wait. You guys aren't always on the same page. You guys aren't always 100 % liking each other you guys aren't always you know in that storybook fairy tale life that we all think that we're supposed to have because Disney showed it to us. In whatever you know version of the movie that you watched the first time. Yeah, that's a place where you can thrive and love and grow and be more than you've ever thought of and that's what thriving beyond pornography has done for us, we've gone through every step of the way we've started it. Working to reframe and rethink. We've stopped pornography viewing. We've stopped feeling betrayed. We've moved into a place where we re-founded a relationship and now, we're growing and thriving together it's such a beautiful place that we want to share it with you. That's why we do this. This is why we have changed.
The name of the podcast. This is why we have come to this place of we are working with couples. You know we'll still work with individuals Darcy will still work with wives I will still work with men but more than that when we work with couples. We know that they are capable of so much more than they are alone. And that's why we've done this and so I hope that we've given you some hope I hope that we've given you a vision I hope that you can see there's this direction that you might want to go and if you do want to go. We'd love to have you. You know you can sign up for a free consult bring your spouse go to zaxpaffer.com/. Work with Zach I know it says only work with Zach but the truth is if you come together. There will be something for each of you in this process and we will help you not just solve a pornography problem but we will create a thriving amazing relationship. In the process Amen can I get an amen from the seats in the back? Ah, all right? My friends. We love you guys. We're so grateful that we get to do this and we will talk to you next week bye.
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