When I first learned about my husband's addiction, I was in denial. I didn't want to admit that this was happening to me. And I fell into one of the falsehoods about addiction. I believed that my husband could just stop if he loved me enough. Doesn't that make sense? If he loved me enough, he could just picture my face and just stop. It should be enough to prevent him from slipping up (again and again), right?
Well, that didn't work. Of course it doesn't work that way! There are so many chemical things going on with the brain of someone who has an addiction. And there are so many triggers, that after 13 years of addiction, they can happen subconsciously.And you can't just stop, no matter how hard you try, and no matter how much you love someone and don't want to hurt them anymore.
I quickly learned that my role as a wife is so much more than I expected. I'm not just a wife (no one is). I'm a supporter, comforter, example, strength, anchor, and much more. And I was no longer the same. At times I was bitterly depressed. Other times I tried to escape and pretend it wasn't happening. I tried to deny the truth. But deep down, I felt like my marriage was falling apart. I felt like my marriage had been a lie. I felt like there was no hope.Then, at times, I felt so bogged down with how much I had to carry, to be the spiritual strength to us both, that I wanted to crawl in a hole and sleep till he was all repented and forgiven and free of this evil.
At some point I realized I had a choice: I could either live to be depressed and blame everything on my husband or try to live to be me, and I am not a depressed or bitter person. So, I chose to try to be me again. I chose to try to trust my husband and be happy and make our marriage work. I had to keep choosing that because he kept slipping up. And lying to me about it. And then came more anger and depression and lack of trust. But by making the choice to trust him, and he knowing he had to earn that trust, eventually the really hard phase passed. (and today, I trust him fully. We have a very open relationship about it. I can happen!)
Granted, I realized that choice after a long time. Until I realized that (and even after, as I said above), we suffered. A lot. And those hardships are between us and the Lord. But guess what? The only thing I think of when I look back on all the pain and depression is how incredibly blessed I am to have experienced it. Yeah. :) Because of all the things I have learned, the strength I have gained, and how much closer I am to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
At times, I really struggled. I was mad that this happened because it was so hard and so painful, and I didn't understand why it happened to me. I also didn't understand why God would give me the spiritual confirmation to marry my husband when He knew this was going to happen. Why not tell me he was not worthy of me so I could be spared all this grief? So many questions like that ran through my head. All the time. For a long time. Well, I have news for all of you who may ask yourself those questions too, for whatever reason. God knows the plan. God knows the end from the beginning. God knows what our divine potential is, and He gives us experiences to help us achieve it.
I read somewhere that one of the blessings of a fiery trial is the development of a Christlike compassion and ability to see and help others in need. That is definitely a blessing I have received. And I have learned so much more.
Did you know that not all of our trials happen because of someone's agency? There are two kinds of trials (maybe more, but these are the two I have discovered): one type is the trial that happens because someone used their agency stupidly. Like getting hit by a drunk driver or something.The drunk driver used agency to drink and then drive, and you getting hit would the direct result of that person's poor use of agency. I'm glad that hasn't happened to me. The other kind is the trial that happens just because it's life, and God wants to see how you can handle it. He will never give you something more than you can handle. But if you think it's more than you can handle, that is when you have your agency to handle it well (or not well). Do you turn to God and the Savior to get through it? Or do you become bitter and hateful because life isn't fair? Life is so fair. Why? Because God gives us exactly what we need to become exactly who we need to become. It really wouldn't be fair if I had all these hard trials and opportunities to grow stronger but you had an easy life, would it? Because you would never grow strong like I get to, and that really wouldn't be fair. Because with the strength from this trial, along with the others I am facing (which is a whole other story), I am growing. I am becoming more like the woman God wants me to be. And, really, I wouldn't trade this trial, or any of my trials (I have to keep telling myself that when new ones pop up), for the world. We are all faced with fiery trials. What may seem like a fiery trial to me may not seem so to you, but what may seem fiery to you may not seem so to me. God gives us what we need. We can't choose what happens to us, but we certainly choose how we react to any situation. And God, in his fairness and mercy, extends fiery trials to each of us, so we can use our agency to come back to Him. That is the ultimate goal.
Speaking of fiery trials, I met a woman who came to my support group because one of her friends told her how amazing it is. This woman's husband had passed away, and she became so depressed that she was suicidal. Something she said really hit me and made me change my perspective about my fiery trial. I was attending a support group specific to female spouses of pornography and other sexual addicts. She said, "I'd give anything to have my husband back with me, even with a horrible pornography addiction." Talk about perspective. One of my biggest fears is my husband dying. And when she said that my heart stopped, and I was like whoa. Heck yes I'd rather have him here with me, alive and kickin', than dead.
I met this woman while she was suicidal. And I saw the growth and changes that happened in her life as she drew closer to Christ and attended the 12-step program in my support group. It was beautiful, the growth I saw her make. And the growth I have made is beautiful. I feel beautiful. I feel like a daughter of God. I feel like everywhere around me, I see beauty (except when I am depressed, which still does happen sometimes, but not nearly as often). I see beauty because I have gained beauty within as I have drawn closer to Christ, and I am better at seeing things as He sees them.
I am excited to continue sharing my life with you, whoever is reading this.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.