The key principle is, “Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.”
All of the steps require humility in some form, but in step 7, humility is the primary focus. I am so excited for this step!
First, I want to reflect on the journey. So far, we have admitted that we are powerless to heal on our own (or overcome our own forms of addiction—co-dependency, anger, anxiety, depression, etc). We have believed that the power of God can restore us to complete spiritual health. We have made the decision to turn our will and life over to Heavenly Father. We fearlessly made an inventory of ourselves. We have confessed our sins to a trusted person. And we experienced a change of heart and become ready to ask God to remove our weaknesses.
We have come a long way.
If this is your first time through the 12 steps, think of how you felt at the very beginning. If you were like me, your heart might have been completely filled with anger (with a little room to breathe?). You might have experienced so much rage that you forgot what it felt like to feel trust and peace. You might have been in so much pain that you contemplated leaving your loved one with the addiction, or you might have contemplated suicide. Do you still feel that now? I’m sure you do—but in phases. I do. It comes and goes as a cycle. And over time, and through healing, the cycle has had less negative and way more positive. Overall, I am happy. I feel peace. I feel joy. I feel love. Yes, this is my second time through the steps, but even during round one, by the time I had reached the halfway mark through the 12 steps, I was on a spiritual high (if you aren’t, don’t be afraid. Healing comes at different speeds and in different ways for everybody. Keep pushing forward with faith and trusting God. I promise, healing will come). I no longer blame my husband for everything bad that happens to me (I still do sometimes—but it’s a habit I am trying to break). I no longer break down or wallow in self-pity when my husband tells me he masturbated or viewed pornography. Rather, I feel pain for him. My primary concern is for my husband, not for myself. Whoa.
I have come a long way.
Two years ago, I was considering ending my marriage because I felt lied to and tricked. We even decided before we were married that divorce would never be an option, which made me feel worse for considering it. That also made the pain of feeling tricked worse because I felt like maybe he wanted us to make that arrangement because he knew I would have reason to want to leave him.
Now, I don’t consider ending my marriage. Even if it gets really bad again (which I hope it won’t, but really, who knows), I am dedicated to making it work. Even when I go to the temple alone. Even though I have to keep secrets from everyone I know and love. I love my husband more than the trials that come because of his addiction. Until he is ready for people to know this is one of our trials, I am okay keeping it to myself. I do hope that one day (soon? kind of?), he will feel comfortable enough to say, “Yeah, I struggle with this. But I am trying to heal.” He could be a great strength to people, I just know it.
At this point down our road to recovery, I would like to share with you a few of the big things I have learned. And, if anyone would like to add to this list, email me, and I will post it J
1. Addicts can change. So often, I hear really judgmental statements about addicts or former addicts. It breaks my heart when I hear such negative things. Yeah, some people don’t change. Some people may not be willing to change, but everyone can change. And we really don’t know what is in an addict’s heart. My husband is having a hard time letting completely go of his addiction, and he still messes up, but have I completely let go of my addictions? Have I completely let go of my anger? Am I perfect? No. So, I feel that my job is to be compassionate and loving. Supportive and encouraging. I don’t condone his behavior, but I also try not to judge him. I try to listen and love. Really, through my recovery process, I have found myself trying to be more like the Savior. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (John 8:7).
2. My husband’s addiction is not a reflection of how poorly I fulfill him. I am not at fault for his actions regarding his sexual addiction. I think many people with a loved one who struggles with addiction blame themselves for whatever reason, but we are not to blame. It is something that the addict has struggled with for a long time, and it is way beyond us. So, if you are struggling with the self-blame game, turn it over to God. Let the Savior take that pain from you.
3. The addict already has a Savior. I don’t need to try to be his savior. I do need to bear my testimony of the Savior and help my husband see the light when he is clouded in darkness. But, it’s not my responsibility to carry his pain. The Savior can help me with that.
4. The Savior can change me.
So, like I said, we are approaching step 7, which is humility. Are you ready? I am (next post).