Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Step 1: Honesty (Part 1/4)

It's normal to be angry. If you have been hurt by someone, anger is a normal emotion. Anger is also a masking emotion, as I have come to find out. Anger is an easy emotion to hide behind. What are you really feeling? Is it anger? Probably not just anger. In my case, my emotions were hurt, stress, sadness, anxiety, fear, and yes, anger. I felt weak. I felt powerless. All of those emotions were bottled up. I tried to suck it up for my husband because I didn't want my emotions to make him act out in his addictive behaviors. I wanted to be brave, and I wanted to be strong. I felt like emotion was weakness. But, keeping those emotions locked up caused them to explode. And when I say explode, I mean EXPLODE. I can't remember what my specific behaviors were, but I remember how I felt. I felt like Satan had taken hold of me and wouldn't let me go. I felt like I was drowning in the depths of despair gasping for breath. I stupidly thought the only thing that could help me was to be angry. Then, the more angry I was, the more lost in darkness I became, and I couldn't find my way out. I felt like the anger had bottled up so much inside me, that it would explode and kill me inside. Then, when I would recover from the explosion, I would feel so bad for how I acted, that I would bottle it all up inside me again. And then it would explode. Again. That was a cycle I went through for months.

When I realized that my anger was completely uncontrollable, I knew I had a BIG problem. Priesthood blessings helped. I distinctly remember the peace I felt when I was told in a blessing that God understood how I felt. He understood how I felt that Satan had taken hold of me and I couldn't find my way out. And He promised that if I turned to Him, I would be able to overcome my anger in time.

The Key Principle for Step 1 is "Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable."

Admitting that could make you angry. Realizing that you need help and that this is out of your control could make you so angry. Or maybe not angry. Maybe you're not an angry person. I felt relief when my husband finally wanted to get help. Most of my anger was dedicated to him, but I had such relief when he finally said we needed to go to support group meetings.

I felt kind of cautious too. I came into this circle of women who were laughing and talking with one another, and it amazed me. How could all these women, who are probably experiencing what I am experiencing, seem so happy? When I went to my first group meeting, they were actually on Step 2, which is called Hope. And that was exactly what I needed that day. Hope that my life would come back together. Hope that we would have a celestial marriage one day.

Step 1 is crucial. I had to be honest about a lot of things. For me, the biggest part of honesty was admitting that my marriage wasn't the fairy tale I wanted it to be. It wasn't as happy as I thought it was, and a lot of bad things had happened behind my back during our first 6 months of marriage. It was hard to admit that. It was hard to admit that we needed God's help. And it was kind of a slap in the face to realize that without God's help, our marriage was becoming nasty. And it wouldn't get better.

Step 1 also helped me understand my husband a little better. You see, he also had to experience Step 1 when he started recovery. After all the years he had tried to conquer his addiction on his own, he finally had to admit that he needed help from God. Can you imagine having an addiction for 13 years, trying to manage it, denying that it really was that bad, messing up your marriage really bad, and then finally, after years of heartache, having to admit to someone (wife, who you love and don't want to hurt) and God that you need help? That must have been so hard.

Here are a few quotes that I love from this chapter, and they really opened my eyes.

"Through chemical means, one can literally become disconnected from his or her own will." My husband's will was to overcome this. He really did want to give up his addiction. But he couldn't because of the chemical things that happen in the brain and the sexual stimulants his brain had produced to deal with his own stressors. I couldn't blame him for his addiction. It was out of his control, and his will had already been compromised years ago.

"As our powerlessness over our addiction increased, many of us found fault with family, friends, Church leaders, and even God. We plunged into greater and greater isolation, separating ourselves from others, especially from God." This struck me for two reasons. One was that I realized I was isolating myself from friends and family members. Especially my husband. I was turning away from everyone around me, and as I was doing so, I was also turning away from God. I didn't know who to trust. I had some serious trust issues with God for giving me this trial. The second reason this struck me was that I realized that was also what my husband was doing. He was isolating himself. As we isolated ourselves from each other--we, who had been inseparable best friends for months before we were married--we were ruining what little emotional and physical intimacy we had left.

"We realized how much our addictions had damaged relationships and robbed us of any sense of self worth." For me, addiction meant anger, anxiety, etc. (all those negative emotions I had become addicted to). And, yes, they had damaged the most important relationships to me: my relationship with deity and my relationship with my husband. And, yes, I didn't have a whole lot of self-worth. Association with a pornography addiction can do that to you. But, I also realized that the addiction was taking an even larger toll on my husband in this same way, and that he had been feeling that way for years.

Step 1 really helped open my eyes to many things. And it helped me start unifying myself with my husband so we could be a team fighting against Satan and trying to save our marriage.

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