Neylan McBaine and the Mormon Women Project

Neylan McBaine is a recurring guest at By Common Consent. See her earlier posts here and here.

One year ago today, I sent out an email to a few hundred contacts, announcing that I had posted 18 lengthy interviews with interesting Mormon women on a new website, http://www.mormonwomen.com. On the first anniversary of the launch of the Mormon Women Project, Bethany’s interview represents the best of what the MWP offers: authentic, comprehensive insights into the lives of women whose life paths deviate from our stereotyped ideal (either by choice or by circumstance) but who treasure their relationships with their Savior. Bethany was confronted with her husband’s pornography addiction four years ago, and has since gone through different stages of hurt and healing which she shares openly in this interview.

As Melissa Hardy, Bethany’s interview producer, points out in her comments below, Bethany’s interview is about her reaction to having something thrust upon her that she didn’t expect or deserve. Not every woman would respond the way Bethany did to the announcement of her husband’s addiction, which Bethany readily acknowledges. Some would have left their marriages, some would be dogmatically dedicated to standing by their men. What I admire most about Bethany’s response is that it is neither black nor white, neither selfish nor selfless, neither wholly optimistic nor pessimistic. Bethany, like so many who are emotionally honest with themselves, occupies a murky emotional gray space where anger, commitment, love and distrust play themselves out on the mundane stage of children, housekeeping and daily tasks. Bethany is a poster child for the Church’s official recovery programs — she’s participated in them and credits them for much of her healing — but she’s also reached out to therapists and engaged in periodic separations from her husband as part of their mutual rehabilitation. Ultimately, Bethany reaches for the Atonement not as a perpetrator of sin, but as the victim of another’s choices. It is not the only tool in her kit, but it is the one most consistently applied.

Our hope in publishing this interview and others like it at the MWP is that this sort of emotional honesty from our interview subjects will open the doors to emotional honesty in our other church forums. When we as a people acknowledge the ability for love and anger, dedication and betrayal to coexist, we are then better prepared to implement our toolkit of doctrinal panaceas in an increasingly complex world.

From Melissa Hardy, Bethany’s interview producer:

“I initially sent Bethany an email to confirm her interest in sharing her story, since she had nominated herself to be interviewed for the MWP. To be honest, I pushed “send” thinking I’d never get a response. After all, this is a highly personal situation: a husband addicted to pornography. I assumed her willingness to share had wayned. I was wrong. Not only was she willing, but she was also courageous in exposing the wounds of an addiction.

Bethany opened my eyes to the widespread problem of pornography in Latter-day Saint homes. For me, however, the awe in her experience is her faithful approach to healing. In my conversations with her there was no sense of bitterness, anger or hatred. Instead, it was clear she had chosen to look up and within; asking God to be her guide.

Bethany’s faith reminds me of a common mantra in life that it’s not what happens to us but how we react that is important. Further, she proves that peace can be found in following God’s will, realizing His perspective and love is perfect.”

Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    Wow, I need to go check that out.

  2. Neylan,

    Thank you so much for such an informative and beautiful forum for Mormon women. I applaud you on your one year anniversary!

  3. I loved Bethany’s interview because it was so honest and compelling, and it wasn’t one of those “Name Withheld” stories in the Ensign–she put her face and name to a sad story. Keep up the good work, Neylan!

  4. It took a lot of courage for Bethany to share her story with such candor and openness. I assume her husband supports her in this decision, and I think that takes some courage on his part too. My hat is off to both of them, and I think this openness will help others who have similar struggles. And thanks to the mormonwomenproject for producing and presenting it.

  5. A great interview on a very difficult subject. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Bethany and her husband for the very forthright and courageous way that they appear to be working through this. Bethany is a sterling example of how to deal with really any difficult problem.

  6. Thanks to Bethany and the MWP for sharing this story.

  7. Great work, Neylan.

  8. Wow, I had no idea one could be excommunicated for pornography addiction. Thanks to Bethany for sharing her experiences on such a personal topic.

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