Don't feel any pressure to be working the steps as fast as I am talking about them, if you are still on step 1, that is perfect. Take your own time, and move on with your studies when you are ready. If you aren't even working them and are just wanting to read what I have to say, awesome. I hope what I say on this blog helps you.
I absolutely, positively, with all my heart, LOVE Step 2. Why? Because it gave me hope at a time that I didn't have much.
Did you read the post my husband wrote? If not, it's right here. Well, he mentioned how he has thought about killing himself to so I could have a better life. I've always thought that the worst thing that could happen in our marriage is him dying. Even now, I still feel that way. After everything. I just love him so much, and the thought of him dying and me being alone scares me (even though, yes I am a stalwart member of the church and I know we have eternal families, and I know I would heal if he died, I still don't want him to die any time soon). So, when he talked about suicide, well, I'm pretty sure that probably gave me a panic attack. Because our lives were so hard, and quite honestly, him killing himself would make it harder because then I would be alone with all my pain from his addiction and his death. Wow, this is sounding like a morbid post.
Basically, what I mean is we had some really hard times. His suicidal-thoughts confession was in December of 2011, and I didn't start group until April or May of last year. During those few months, we had lots of ups and downs, mostly downs. Sometimes I had hope, but not consistently. I didn't have real hope that I could actually hold on to until I started Step 2. Lucky for me, when we went to group for the first time, they were studying Step 2. That was perfect for me, and I think for him too. I gained hope and felt lots of love at group, then I went home and could start Step 1. Honesty wasn't what I needed to hear first (I did work the steps in order, and it was amazing), and I was so so incredibly grateful to have started my group meeting attendance on Step 2. I just needed to hear Step 2 first.
I am so excited to share with you what I have learned from Step 2, especially for those of you who need hope as much as I did, or more. I know some people have worse experiences and less hope than me.
The key principle is: "Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health."
That statement alone gave me hope. In the honesty step, we admitted our need for God to help us overcome our whatevers (addiction, weakness, anger, anxiety, you name it) and became more humble. Humility allowed us to let God in. In Step 2, we could build upon that foundation to open the door to receive hope.
I gained hope that my emotional scars could be healed. That I could overcome my anger. That my life wouldn't suck. AND I gained hope for Ben. He worked on the exact same steps as me. He also had to come to believe that the power of God could restore him to complete spiritual health. Having that hope for Ben gave me even a little bit more hope for our marriage.
I know that some of you may be in this recovery process alone and you are trying to find your own healing without your spouse or loved one. Maybe you are going through divorce and you are stuck alone with all your pain and heartache of what your husband's addiction has done to you. Maybe your marriage hasn't failed and you are holding on and trying to recover emotionally, but your spouse won't join you in that process. YOU CAN STILL FIND HEALING. I know it's different for me because my husband is trying to recover from his addiction, but there were times when he wasn't quite sure he wanted to. Giving up his addiction means giving up his coping mechanism for everything that has gone wrong/stressed him out in the past 13 years of his life. That's a lot to give up. There were times that he lied to me so I thought he was recovering and he was still hiding it. His recovery process is happening, but not as fast as I wish (or as he wishes). There have been many times where I felt alone in this, even though ultimately, he has been recovering.
People in group talked about co-dependence a lot. I didn't know what it meant, so I looked it up one day. I just googled the term and studied the top 3 that popped up. This article really helped me understand it better, and it opened my eyes to how co-dependent I was. I'll let you read the article on your own time, if you want. To put it simply, one thing I learned is that I was co-dependent. I still don't think co-dependence is entirely a bad thing, but it depends on how you handle situations like this. I was losing myself, and that was bad. I was so caught up in the pain of what was going on in our relationship, and I was so caught up with the fact that I might end up alone in the celestial kingdom, that I wasn't doing anything for myself. You have to do things for yourself. You have to heal.
I needed to open my heart up to God. I needed to develop my relationship with Him better. You know in church when they ask you to prioritize your life/relationships and you make that list (am I crazy? I hope you have all done that at some point)? Well, this is my list, in order of priority: God, husband, family, friends, other people. God should always come first. That's the first commandment, to love God. As I started trying to come closer to God, then I was able to gain even more hope and healing. Through the 12 steps, I have discovered the power of the Atonement, and I have much hope for the future.
It's important to be dedicated to your spouse. You made covenants. That's the only part of co-dependency that I think is good. The rest of it, not so much. You should have a strong relationship, but you shouldn't depend on that person so much that you can't function yourself. That was me sometimes. Sometimes, I didn't feel co-dependent, but that was when I ignored him, and that isn't good either. You have to find the balance between putting yourself there for him and keeping yourself up too.
I love this step. It really brought me closer to God. I have so much I want to say, so many thoughts running through my head right now. But the last thing I want to share today is a scripture, and I'll talk in more detail about step 2 tomorrow.
The scripture is Alma 7:11-13.
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death , that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
Christ knows what is going on in your life. He suffered your pain. He suffered your afflictions. He suffered your temptations. Yours. Mine. His. Hers. All of ours. Personally and individually. He specifically felt yours. He specifically felt mine. He took upon himself our infirmities so he could be filled with mercy towards us. He shows us mercy and blesses us with tender mercies every day. He knows us. He loves us. We are not alone. We are never alone, even though we feel like it sometimes. He is always there, waiting with open arms to hug us and help us through. He is always ready to pick us up and carry us if necessary. He has given me so much strength through the hardest times of my life, and I know I would be nothing without Him. He has given me hope, and He is helping to restore me to complete spiritual health.
If you have not let Him in, start doing little things to start letting Him in. He really is there. I promise.