I live my life in fear.
When did this scaredy-pants take over?
I think it comes down to the various pains I have suffered, and an inner protective wall I have set up for myself.
I have suffered physical pain: horse accident, resulting in back injury; bone spurs, torn tendons, and foot surgery; concussions; broken elbow; a severe form of mono; car accident, resulting in back and neck injury; herniated disc in lower back. The list still goes on.
I have suffered emotional pain.
This list is more complicated, but I think it starts with an incident in elementary school when I was super made fun of for wearing flip flops and not painting my toe-nails. And having HUGE feet. I know. It sounds so dumb, but that really impacted me. From that point on, I didn't want to get made fun of. I wanted to fit in. I wanted other girls to like me (I had just moved to that school and had no friends). Through middle school, I always wanted the hippest clothes. The coolest shoes. I wanted to be part of the "in crowd."
When I started high school, I liked what was going on. I had lots of friends, and boys were noticing me. I was far from being super popular, but I was in a good place in the social network at school. Throughout high school, I became more and more involved in the activities and clubs at school, and I developed more friendships. Well, more superficial friendships. I gained some true friends, but I lost friends who were dear to me in my efforts to be popular.
In high school, I had boyfriend after boyfriend. I thought something was wrong with me if I was single for too long. Those relationships started out carefree and not very serious, but they grew to become more serious as I got older.
I didn't even date good guys. Even some of the Mormon (LDS) guys treated me like crap. I was stood up for Mormon Prom. By my first boyfriend. Thank goodness for the good guy friend who was going stag with our group and made me his date until my date was forced to show up (thanks to my best friend who called him and yelled at him over the phone. We broke up after that night anyway). My next Mormon boyfriend was a druggie. He went to jail while we were dating. After those two, I decided it didn't matter who I dated. As long as I could uphold my standards, it really didn't matter if they were LDS or not. I dated a guy on the basketball team. Who was known for sleeping around. Who liked to "corrupt" good girls. Who slept with one of my good friends while I was on vacation during spring break.
I told him I wasn't the kind of girl he wanted. He said he wanted to clean his life up, and that I was special. So... we dated. I'm grateful to say that he did not succeed in his quest to corrupt me. But, once again, he was trash, and my self-esteem suffered from thinking that the only guys I was capable of attracting were losers, after all. I thought I had no real chance at the type of guy I wanted. I wasn't even sure what I wanted. I guess I had opportunities for better guys, but the bad ones were more attractive. I ended up breaking up with this guy after he tried to convince me to watch pornography with him, and was completely blown away by the fact that I had never tried it nor wanted to. The thought of him still disgusts me.
The next guy was pretty good. We dated for almost 2 years, and then he went on a mission. He played a crucial role in helping me realize who I am and what I can become. He really loved me, and he really cared about me. I was going to marry him.
Dating him was an emotional roller coaster too, though. When you date that long, there are lots of fights. There were also mishaps that scared me. When something did happen that I wanted to talk to the bishop about, he didn't want to. He convinced me not to.
Looking back, I found lots of reasons not to marry him, which helped me make the decision to marry my husband.
My college life was much better than high school. When I came to college, I was more than ready to start over. I left my high school experiences behind me and became someone new. I became the girl I wanted to be. I was fearless. I asked guys on dates. I went on lots of dates. I didn't get into anything serious for almost two years. I partied (Mormon style). I had fun. I stayed up all night during finals week, both studying and having fun. I grew spiritually. I gained a better sense of who I am. I LOVED MY LIFE! I loved who I was.
And then I met my husband. (Haha that sounds bad. I still love my life, and I love my husband. Just in case you were wondering.)
I met my husband. He really liked me, but I was still in my noncommittal party stage. I loved everything about being single. I loved crushing on guys, but then when I got them, I couldn't commit. He stuck around. He was okay with being my best friend. Eventually, his persistence paid off. After many "I don't want to date you"s and "I'm not attracted to you like that"s, I realized I couldn't live without him, and we started dating for serious.
Before we got engaged, I asked him if he struggled with pornography (question, thanks to my bishop growing up who made me promise to ask the guy I considered marrying). He said no. We laughed that I would ask such a silly question to the man who treated me like a perfect queen...
I was prepared to live happily ever after.
You know those lists you make in young women's? Or those letters to your future self about your dreams. Then you read it ten years later and see if you realized your dreams came true? I wrote one about my future husband. I had finally turned my life around and was marrying the man of my dreams.
We got married. I was in a car accident. Intimacy faded during the "honeymoon stage." Yeah, we didn't get that blissful newly-wed honeymoon stage. Things got really hard. We fought a lot. It seemed like there was always tension. Words can't even describe how painfully hard that time was for me (well, both of us). Physically and emotionally.
And finally, when things are looking up, I find out that he has been addicted to pornography for most of his life and has been struggling with it for half of our marriage already.
I felt cheated.
I felt lied to.
Things definitely got worse before they got better. I'm just glad he told me that right before General Conference. There were many inspired talks just for me at that conference. I'm also glad he told me, rather than me finding out.
Since then, we have had many ups and downs. Right now, we are on a really good up cycle.
But, with my other physical and emotional trials right now, I am living in fear. Of everything. I'm afraid that my mom is going to die. Or one of my sisters. Or my dad. Or my brothers. Or my husband!
I'm afraid that I will suffer another back injury after I fix this one.
I'm afraid that my feet and back won't make it through teaching next year.
I'm afraid that my husband won't overcome his addiction.
I'm afraid that I could have married someone without this addiction.
I'm afraid of spiders. I'm afraid I will get bitten by a poisonous one. And die.
I'm afraid that I will never be able to have kids.
I'm afraid when I do have kids, my dog will get jealous and attack them. Or they will get kidnapped.
I'm afraid of loss. But I'm afraid of gain.
I'm afraid of change.
I know I'm a little dramatic. But I'm afraid if my husband goes somewhere, and I am mad at him when he leaves, then he will die and the last thing I would have said to him in this life would have been mean or angry.
I hate being afraid.
I miss the old me. I miss who I was when I was five and wasn't afraid of anything. I was the yellow ranger. I was an explorer. I saved my friends from pirates. I saved the bad guys from sudden death so I could keep fighting them. I played outside. I ate brown leaves to see if they tasted like chocolate. I tried to nurse a bird back to health. I tried to hatch an egg. I was a mermaid. I was a power-puff girl.
I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a basketball star. I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to be a teacher. I knew I could be anything I wanted.
And I was afraid of NOTHING. Nothing stopped me. Anything that could stop me was a challenge, and I loved figuring out challenges.
So, to the girl who tried to hatch an egg, saved her friends from pirates, danced in the rain at 3 am in her bra and underwear (if that triggers you, come on. stop it), asked guys on dates, drove around BYU campus blasting "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and picking up random guys to serenade then dropping them off wherever they wanted, there is no need to fear! The time to stop being afraid is now.
I spent my scripture study yesterday learning about fear. The fear I experience is not the good kind of fear (which I knew). It's been thrust upon me by Satan, the evil spirit who wants me to be full of hatred. He wants me to be scared. Because he can't stand to see me happy. Oh, and guess what? I've been letting him win! Ugh.
He wants my husband to have low self-esteem. He wants him to keep falling.
He wants us to fight. He wants to destroy my family. And yours.
He doesn't want me to follow God's plan. So he places fears in my path to try to stop me. He doesn't want me to be successful. FEAR is his best weapon against me. It works. Sometimes, I let myself get so wrapped up in fear that I lose sight of what is true.
Here is the truth:
I love my husband. I know without a doubt that we were meant to be together, with his addiction or without. But I have a strong feeling that his addiction is part of the reason we were meant to be together.
My husband is my dream-guy. He is everything I want and need. And more.
If someone I love dies, it will be tough, but it will be okay. I understand the plan of salvation. I'll know they are in a better place. I can't let my fear of dying, or my fear of someone else dying, make me a wimp. I need to just live and have fun. After all, "you only live once!"
God wants me to teach. He wants me to teach at the school where my job exists. I know that. I have had it confirmed to me in numerous ways. So, my feet and back will make it. And I will love it. I already to love it (from my long-term sub experience).
My husband will overcome his addictions. Maybe it won't be this year. Maybe it won't be in ten years. Maybe it won't be in thirty years. But he will. He will because he is a good man. He is trying. He is struggling, but he is trying. We have both caught glimpses of what our life can be like addiction-free. And I know he can do it.
I will have children. My patriarchal blessing tells me so.
Change is good. I embrace change. I embrace change because it helps me practice dealing with it better. And I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. Any change that happens is because there is something to learn or gain from it.
The last bit of truth I want to share is based off of something I heard at group last night: I love my trials. If this life is for me to prepare to meet God, and the only way I can really prepare is through these experiences that will humble me and help me draw closer to Christ, why would I wish them away? That is basically like wishing life away. I love life. I really, truly do. I love life! With all its ups and downs. I would not change my situation at all. Everything I have experienced has helped me become the woman I am. I would not change a single thing.
I just want to finish this post with a letter to Satan.
I don't like you. You are a ruiner.
You are here to take over our bodies and ruin our lives. You are trying to ruin my family.
You are evil.
You don't care about me. I don't care about you.
Don't think for a second that I can't see through you. You may be dark, but the light of Christ helps me find my way.
I'm glad God didn't choose your plan because you were going to take away one of the most important things I have: AGENCY.
And with that agency, I am now kicking you out. Out of my house. Out of my marriage. Out of my brain. Out of my heart.
No more fear. No more anxiety. I'm done with it! I'm done with you.
I know it won't be easy. I know we will still struggle, but I am going to do everything in my power to bring more light in so the darkness will be shut out.
I will make sure my husband and I pray together every day. I will make sure we have meaningful scripture study together. I will make sure we have FHE.
If you are threatening him, I will be his protector. I will karate chop you right on out the door.
And guess what? I overcame my fears about the future, and we are going to start building our family. It might take a while. With my medical history, it is likely to take a long time to get pregnant. But we are going to start trying. And when we do have kids, we are going to teach them the ways of God. You will not stand in our way.
Your worse nightmare.
I'm ready to sanctify myself to God. I'm ready to consecrate myself more than I have before. I'm ready for life. I'm ready for purpose. I'm ready to begin being me again!
***POST EDIT: In case you were wondering, we have spent a lot of time this week trying to decide if we should start trying to have children. Again. Yesterday, I made a list of reasons holding me back. They were all fears. Fear of the emotional roller coaster. Fear of my health problems getting in the way again (they aren't all the way healed, but they are getting good enough). Fear of more frequent sexual intimacy... even though our relationship is doing really well right now. There is a whole lot on my list. And it all boils down to fear. I initially started writing this post about something different, but I couldn't stop thinking about how ridiculous all my fears are and how irritated I was about it. Along with other things. So, I hope that explains a little bit where this post came from.