Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I am important!

Things have been going really great lately. So, this morning when I was overcome with stress and felt the Darkness coming in, it freaked me out a little bit. I was trying to piece things together in my head and push it all away for another time while I studied my scriptures and read through my love dare for the day, when Jack, who was getting ready for work, came to give me a hug. He felt something was wrong, and asked if I was okay.

I always want him to notice and ask me if I'm okay. I always want him to notice without me telling him. He's a guy, though, so he usually doesn't or just doesn't know how to approach it. It kind of caught me off-guard, and I didn't know what to say, especially since I had been trying to hide it all until after he left. He had to leave in ten minutes, and I felt like any explanation I could give him would require more than a ten-minute discussion. After a moment of silence and hesitation, I said, "The Love Dare is hard." [and that is a post for a different day.] In my frustration, I cried a little. The real reason I was being weird was not the Love Dare. That was only a small part of it, which was indeed making it worse. But that wasn't the root of my issues this morning.

After another moment of hesitation, I released the real issue: "I'm really stressed about the Togetherness Project. I really want to go, but I just don't think it's do-able. The flight is too expensive for us, and I don't know how it will work with school. I don't know what will be happening at that time, and maybe it's a time when I won't be able to leave. [ps we are living with my parents right now because of our financial woes. My parents are not in on the addiction secrecy... Jack doesn't feel comfortable with anyone in our families knowing] I don't know how I will just leave for a weekend without having to have some explanation for my family, either. And I don't know how I can spend a weekend in Salt Lake without your family knowing, and I miss your family so much! I don't feel like it's even fair to go for the Togetherness Project and not visit your family, but then we would have to explain why I'm there without you. Plus, we need to get into a house. This will set us back, and it makes me feel so selfish." I buried my face in my hands and started crying.

He came and sat by me on the couch, took my hands, looked me in the eyes and said, "You know what I think is happening?"

"Satan?" I whispered.

"Yeah. Whenever you've talked about the Togetherness Project, you light up. You really want to go. And it will be really good for you to go. Satan knows that, and he wants to make it seem impossible. He wants to overwhelm you and make you feel miserable about it so you won't go. Don't worry about the money. We will figure it out. We both have jobs now [even though I don't get my first teacher paycheck until the end of August], so we can afford it better than you think. And it won't set us back very much in moving out of your parents' house and into our own. It will be okay. Don't worry about it."

I kept talking about the things stressing me out about this. I followed him around while he finished getting ready, and we kept discussing it. Finally, right before he left, he said, "Just remember that you are important. This is important. It's a priority for you to go. Satan wants you to feel like you aren't important, that your recovery and healing aren't important. He doesn't want you to feel the peace and validation you are going to feel while you are there. You are important. Apply for the scholarship, and we will make it all work out."

I love him. His being in tune with my needs this morning was amazing. He said exactly what I needed to hear. He validated me. He gave me perspective. He saw the root of my feelings, and that was darkness from Satan. He knows how it works. I know how it works, but sometimes I second-guess it when it's happening to me.

I'm grateful to have such a thoughtful, smart husband. I'm grateful that he cares and is willing to make the financial sacrifice to ship me off to Utah for the Togetherness Project.

Amen, sistas! I'm applying for that scholarship!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Day

Today is Jack's birthday!

We aren't really that big into birthdays. I mean, we celebrate it a little, but it's never anything huge. I personally don't get why birthdays are such a huge deal for some people.

However, I am happy to celebrate this day, even if we don't make a huge deal out of it, because it is a day that I get to show how much I care and how grateful I am that he is was born. Had he not been born, he wouldn't be mine. He is mine, and I love him--even with all our ups and downs :)

Happy birthday, Jack! I love you!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Beautiful Heartbreak

I have so much hope and so much peace. I'm grateful for the strength that my Savior has given me this week especially, but throughout all my trials. Sometimes I can't even begin to think I'll make it to the next week, month, or even year. But I do. It's because I turn to Him and He lifts me up.

I want to share a song. It's one of my favorite recovery songs. I can't watch the video without crying (I'm emotionally high-strung these days), but that's okay. It's a peaceful, grateful cry. I hope you watch it because the video is powerful and amazing.

Beautiful Heartbreak--by Hilary Weeks

The first time I really listened to these lyrics, I was wowed. I already owned this song because I loved it when it first came out, and my dad got me the CD for Christmas. But, when I really listened, it put my whole life, all my trials in perspective for me.

When I got married, I had a plan. I had a map of my life, and I knew exactly where I wanted to go (I think we all got married with a life envisioned that was not quite God's plan). The plan was changed when I found a mountain (addiction, infertility, depression) in the middle of my road. I thought there was no way to get over it, so I tried to find a  way around it. Alas, I had to make the terrible climb. When I got to the top, my breath was taken away. The view was beautiful! Actually, I know I haven't made it to the top, but my pit-stops along the way are beautiful. I can't wait to get to the top where I will find that "every fear, every doubt, all the pain I went through was the price that I paid to see this view. And now that I'm here I would never trade the grace that I feel and the faith that I find through the bitter-sweet tears and the sleepless nights. I used to pray He'd take it all away, but instead it became a beautiful heartbreak."

That's how I feel today. I've experienced so much. We all have. Even with this same addiction, each of us has different experiences, and I imagine that I'm not the only one whose plan went a little crazy. I've made friends through this blog who experience similar emotions, but their trial is a little different. The one thing we all have in common is a Savior who loves us, and we are on a journey to find Him.

When I first learned about the addiction, my heart was torn in pieces. There went my plan! I didn't know what to do, and I certainly wasn't sure how I could forgive him for ruining my life. As I've drawn closer to the Savior, I've found forgiveness coming more naturally. Actually, last night was a perfect example.

Last night, we went out to dinner to celebrate Jack's birthday (he feels old, and he is a little stressed about the fact that he is a geezer and doesn't have kids yet. Really, though? He's only 27. It's going to be okay :D). This week has pretty much been all about me: my pain, my sadness, my lashing out at him because he is my punching bag sometimes (I know--not nice of me). I wanted to talk about him. I felt like I should ask him how the addiction stuff was this week while I was emotionally unstable. Annnnnd...there was a little slip-up one night. I could tell by the way he was cautiously telling me what happened that he was afraid of the anger that had the potential to come up and possibly be embarrassing at the restaurant. However, I was not angry. Not even a little bit. In fact, I was grateful that he didn't tell me on Tuesday when it happened because I probably could not have handled that along with my hormones this week (remember what my PMS stands for?). Lately, when he has told me about his slip-ups, I've felt almost immediate forgiveness. Granted, there are times when I hold a little grudge. That doesn't happen very often, though, and I know I need to forgive. I really try hard to be forgiving. After all, he is working so hard (I think). He is trying to rid himself of this addiction, and I know there will be mess-ups. My realistic expectations are that he tells me when he messes up, he tells me about his temptations, and that I can see growth (usually through remorse and dedication to Christ).

I've been very protected and strengthened by peace this week. Last night when he told me about his slip-up, I felt immediate forgiveness. I felt peace, and I felt free of the emotions that I would have experienced two years ago. I could tell Jack was remorseful. He also expressed his concern with not telling me right away and how he didn't know which would be worse: to tell me while I was struggling with the pregnancy thing or not to tell me until I was more in control. He made the right choice in this scenario.

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness today because of what I read in the Love Dare: Love Forgives.
I'll admit, I was a little tempted to skip this one. The chapters lately have been things that either don't apply or I'm already doing. I'm already forgiving, so skip it, right? Not really. I learned a lot about forgiveness today. Really, I can see the progress I'm making, and it makes me so happy!

The author relates unforgiveness to a prison. When we don't forgive, we imprison and torture ourselves. My freedom--my emotional freedom and freedom from co-dependence--is dependent on my ability to forgive. That totally makes sense to me, and I hadn't really thought of it in quite that way before.

The other thing I learned about forgiveness is that ultimately, forgiveness clears us from worrying about how to punish the person who wronged us (and that is kind of a prison too). When we forgive, we aren't turning them loose, necessarily, we are just turning the situation over to God. Isn't that amazing? Forgiveness allows me to have peace and be free of the prison. It allows me to turn it over to God. And it takes away my responsibility to do anything other than love.

So many things are clicking for me right now. I'm still struggling with my trials, but I'm finding peace and strength, and it's balancing out the pain. I'm grateful I can look back over the mountain and see the glory and beauty of what I have traveled. I'm grateful for my Savior who stands by my side. I'm grateful for the ability I have to forgive and cope in healthy ways. I've come a really long way. I'm excited for what life will continue to bring me!

Friday, July 26, 2013

I don't understand, and that is okay

Minus the pride part. Because I'm trying to be humble ;)

 I need a little soul-dumping session. Bear with me.

In the past three years, I've experienced a lot of heartache. Looking back, it's all been a crazy whirlwind. The dating/engagement stuff was a whole other story with heartache. That's not where I'm beginning today.

Just after we got married, there was the car accident, which was traumatic for me (I'm still struggling with the upper back and neck injuries). The real, deep heartache started with my first D-Day, about two and a half years ago. Just a couple months after that, though, as I was still sorting through everything regarding the addiction, I had the prompting that we should start our family.

We had already decided we weren't going to start trying until at least our last semester of college. So, first, I was a little shocked that I felt the prompting to start trying to get pregnant because I (we) still had over a year left of school. That wasn't really that big of a deal though. I wasn't about to let school stop me from following that prompting. Besides, it's not like it's that abnormal at BYU to find young mothers finishing up school. The real reason I was shocked was because I was dealing with the damage of finding out my husband is a sex-addict. And, I mean, you know...when you're trying to get pregnant, you have sex a lot. And it's kind of scheduled. And as the wife of a sex-addict, you don't really like feeling like you have to have sex, which was how I felt while we were trying to get pregnant.

A few weeks after the initial prompting, I talked to Jack about it. He had been feeling it too (we actually figured it out that we received the initial prompting on the exact same day. cool, huh?), so we decided to go for it. While trying, there were days that it was hard, and there were days when I didn't want to have sex, and there were days that I just refused because I emotionally couldn't handle it. But overall, we tried really hard to get pregnant. I had God on my side, and He helped me find peace and healing. I had faith in Him and His plan and following the promptings He had given me.

Ten months later...I was still not pregnant. I know ten months is really not that long in the grand scheme of things, but I felt very infertile and let-down. I had followed the prompting. I tracked my ovulation. I scheduled sex. I was dealing with the emotions that come with the pornography and masturbation. I was having faith. And I was still not getting pregnant!

It was so frustrating!! Then came the time when we had to choose to keep trying or not because if I got pregnant, the baby would be due during my student-teaching. We didn't know what to do, but after fasting and prayer, we decided to stop trying to get pregnant for a few months (just in case. You can't really give birth while you're student-teaching. And we felt like me graduating later was wrong for us...which, as it turns out was absolutely the right decision because we followed the Spirit to where we live now, and this move was right after graduation).

We stopped trying for a few months. I still always wished I could be pregnant, but the emotions weren't as high-strung because there wasn't that disappointment every month when I started my period. Then, we felt the prompting to start again. So we did, until my lower-back went out. After that, it became physically impossible to have sex, much less carry a baby. That has been the hardest part of the trial with my lower-back. I just want to be a mom. I love teaching, and my students are like my children. I love them. But still, I want to be a mom!

So, here is the reason I'm writing all this. That was just the backup story for what I'm really getting at. I wrote on here a few months ago that we were going to start trying again. Then, addiction stuff got in the way, and I felt like we couldn't try anymore because of my emotional instability. Something beautiful happened, though, and God gave me the ability to see things clearly (not that what I am about to say applies to everyone. Because it doesn't. Somehow, I have had the strength to do all this in the midst of addiction hurt. Just a blessing because this is how it's supposed to be for us, but my way isn't for everyone. Just so that is all clear). I have been able to separate my husband and our relationship from the addiction. I've been able to be loving and supportive (and I've been doing the Love Dare), and I've been putting a lot of effort into our relationship. We've been trying to get pregnant. And I've been enjoying it. It's been much less emotionally painful than when we were trying two years ago. We are drawing closer together, and the pregnancy-trying process is much more beautiful than it was before. It's been really good for us.

Earlier this week, my body was telling me all the signs of pregnancy. That's happened a few times before, though (fake-outs), so I was trying not to think about it. I didn't want to even think for a second that I might be pregnant because when I think that, it's so much harder when I start my period. But, on Sunday, I finally told Jack my little secret--that I actually think I am pregnant this time. I told him why. And then I started crying and told him I couldn't handle it if I wasn't. I promptly pushed all thoughts away. Except they didn't go away.

My period was a day late. I started spotting. When it got heavier than spotting, though, I was crushed. I turned it over to God, and I felt so much better. I felt peace along with the pain. The pain was still real, but the peace was so overwhelming that I couldn't even feel any anger at all. No anger for the feelings I had that maybe God was playing with my body and tricking me. None at all. Just peace and the knowledge that He had it under control.

Usually day two of my period is SUPER heavy--and it wasn't this time. It was still just a little more than spotting. Thought: implantation bleeding. I started crying. I told Jack what was going on in my head, and my thoughts started going warp-speed. Long story short(ish): all week long, my body has still been showing me signs of pregnancy. My period was only half as long as normal, and it NEVER got heavy like it usually does. Yesterday, while I was depressed and studying my scriptures, trying to find peace, I had this overwhelming feeling come over me that said, "You're pregnant. You'll see. Don't stress." Which of course, stressed me out. I kept trying not to think about it because I wasn't sure I could believe it.

Talking to Jack last night, as I told him all these things and the feelings I had (it was more than just that simple thought. It was a very spiritual experience for me, and a lot more was going on than just that one thought), I expressed my fear that I would take my pregnancy test in the morning (I had an x-ray for my lower back scheduled this morning, so I had to take the test) and it would be negative. And then I would have experienced those feelings of peace and "it's okay you're pregnant" stuff in vain. As I was talking to him, the scripture, "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief" came to mind, and I felt peace. So, I prayed and asked God to help me trust Him: I so wanted to trust Him, but I was scared. I fell asleep. I slept fitfully.

This morning I took my pregnancy test, and it was negative.. And then, I felt peace wash over me as I thought, "I knew that would happen." I felt peace, but I was a little angry (anger is my mask for really sad) and could have used a hug. I basically pushed myself away from my husband, who probably wanted to help me, but I didn't invite him (and I wish he wouldn't always wait to be invited because sometimes us women don't want to tell our husbands hey hug me right now. We want them to just know!).

So, what is going on? I don't know. But I have some thoughts.

As I drove home from my chiropractor (after my x-ray. getting that x-ray is one blessing of not being pregnant. I can physically see how my back is doing on Monday, and maybe I will be released to return to normal activity! There is always hope for something!), I reflected on all of this. All of the heartache I have experienced:

Jack's addiction: emotional damage
Infertility: it's been over two years since we first started trying. That's two years of really wanting kids and all of that stuff that you really only know about if you have experienced it. Emotional pain.
              Grand total:15-16 months infertile; 10 months incapable
 Addiction + Infertility = PAIN

First of all, I feel like my trust and faith have been challenged, and I've lived up to the test. Check-mark for me! Yesterday, as I studied my scriptures, I asked myself the question (that I often ask when I am depressed), why do we have to submit to God? Why do I have to be humble? (Sometimes I get a little too close to the bitter line.) In reality, we don't have to, we aren't forced, and I know that when I do submit to God and am humble, I experience joy beyond imagination. It's only through God that I experience true happiness. I felt peace in my submission to God.

I don't know why I would have those experiences telling me I am pregnant and then not be. But I'm not mad. Maybe it was to show me my true colors. Maybe it was to show me my strength. Maybe it was to challenge me to turn to God in faith. Maybe it was to help me find the only way to peace and healing.

I kind of want to be mad. But I'm not. I feel a little numb, and I definitely feel sad and heartbroken, but I have peace. I have faith.

I had this thought earlier this week about infertility: maybe I need to prepare myself spiritually, and maybe there are things I need to experience before I have children. And no matter what, I'm receiving fantastic growth because of this trial, especially since it overlaps the addiction trial.

I had this thought yesterday about infertility: maybe part of the reason women experience this is because they are ready, but their children aren't. When I have fake-out months, maybe I have a spirit-child who is going to come to earth, but then "chickens out" (for lack a better term). Maybe my children are sensitive spirits, and they see this scary, immoral world they are coming into, and they get scared. My infertility is preparing me (if I choose to learn and grow from it) to be a better mother, which would be even better for sensitive spirits.

I had this thought this morning about my infertility: Maybe the timing on all this (how the promptings to try to get pregnant coincide with hard times in the addiction) is to give us both hope for our eternal family. For me, it helps me see the bigger picture, thus treating Jack better and trying harder to be happy in our marriage. And maybe it gives him motivation for addiction-recovery so he can be a worthy patriarch and priesthood holder in our family. Maybe when we are actively trying to get pregnant, it helps him see beyond the addiction and what joys lie in store in the eternities.

I don't know. Those are just thoughts. All I know is this: I'm not pregnant, and that is okay. Along those lines, my husband has an addiction, and that is also okay. My life is hard, and that is normal. It's okay! It's all okay! I have a Savior who has felt every single pain I feel. He has felt all of this already. He knows how I feel. He knows how to comfort me. I have a Father who loves me. He doesn't want me to be unhappy. He doesn't want me to turn away from Him. I also know this: if I choose anger in my trials, I will ruin my happiness. If I choose to turn away from God because of my trials, I will lose out on so much beauty in this life and in my life to come.

I really don't know what just happened to me this week with the whole pregnancy fake-out. Part of me thinks I imagined it, that it was all in my head and I'm crazy. But, I can't deny what I have felt. I'm not crazy, and I didn't imagine anything. I don't understand it, but maybe some day I will. Right now, I feel okay just trusting and having peace.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We are pioneers!

Hi, my name is [Marie], and I'm a modern-day pioneer.

In the Utah and LDS communities, today is a holiday called Pioneer Day. Today, we celebrate our ancestors who moved across the globe to follow the prophet's call (and Utahns who aren't LDS may just celebrate the fact that Utah was settled by pioneers who paved a way across America). Today, I celebrate their strength, their devotion, and their desire to follow Christ.

I know pioneer stories. Women gave birth on the trails travelling west. Women lost husbands and children. Families lost fathers, mothers, grandparents, siblings and dear friends. People starved. People froze. People were killed by threatening mobs. Our pioneer ancestors endured so much. Their stories give me hope and strength, and I am proud to honor them on this special day.

When I hear/read/discover stories of our pioneer ancestors, I can't help but think how I don't think I could do that. Their trials sound impossible. Many of them probably thought the same thing. However, they did it. They made it through because of the grace of God. They had hope and faith. I know many of them were grateful for their sufferings because it brought them humility, gratitude, and closer to their Savior.

When I think of my own trials, I sometimes can't help but think how impossible they seem. I have many examples, though, that show me nothing is impossible. I have God on my side to lift me up and give me strength. I also have the ministering of angels to lift me up and give me strength. I've seen examples in my pioneer ancestry, and I read of examples in the Bible and Book of Mormon, that show me how I can be lifted. They show me that through my Savior, I can have strength to bear all things.

The world is still full of pioneers. I am one. I am a pioneer fighting sexual immorality and fighting to save my marriage. I am a pioneer trying to help others understand sex-addiction and not be so judgmental about it. I am a pioneer trying to help others come unto Christ and find the healing they need.

You are a modern-day pioneer. If you don't think you are, you can be. Today.

Today is pioneer day. Do something to honor our ancestors. Find a cause to fight for! Share the good news of the gospel with others! Befriend someone who needs it! Serve someone today! Share joy! Share love! That's what it's all about!

And if you are a pioneer fighting sexual immorality and finding healing in your marriage (or something else that is just really really hard), celebrate yourself today. Eat some brownies or something! I know I will!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I have a few things to post about.

First, my addiction recovery group (well, for me, family support group) is getting a PHONE MEETING! As of right now, it's supposed to start August 15. We don't have a phone number yet (that I know of) though. We should get it soon. It is every Thursday night from 7-8 central time zone. If you want to be a part of this, email me at, and I will make sure you get the details!

Next, Jacy put together something called The Togetherness Project. It looks AWESOME! Read the details here.

Last, Victory had a cool idea of how we can celebrate Pioneer Day. "We are pioneers." Check her blog (and this awesome idea) out here!

That's all :)

Love all of you!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Strength in the Temple

 The three months before we moved, and before my back injury, I went to the temple every week. It really helped give me strength during an insanely hard time. When my back crashed, I was unable to attend the temple. Then we moved, and the temple became a four-hour drive away. Sitting in the car for eight hours and in the temple for however long was out of the question for a while. So I went from going every week for three months to not going at all for about four months in a row. I really missed the spiritual power you get from going to the temple.

When we moved here, Jack was able to get his temple recommend after a few months. It has been amazing to attend the temple together again. 

We made a trip to the temple today. It was beautiful. 


1) I learned a lot about Satan, covenants, addiction, and the Atonement.  The things I learned gave me perspective and strength.

2) It was so amazingly peaceful

3) In the celestial room, I felt serenity and joy that was [almost] beyond belief. And, after the craziness this week, I envisioned that feeling as similar to how I will feel after the chaos of this life and I am finally in God's presence again. I can't wait! 

4) I felt such a strong love and tie to my husband. I felt renewed strength to battle Satan and his destructiveness. He will not beat us. 

Today has been full of serenity, beauty, and joy. I'm so happy and grateful for these moments and the spiritual power I have gained today. I'm grateful for the trials of life and for what awaits us, if we are faithful, on the other side. I saw a small part of that today, and it gives me such strength.

I've mentioned strength a lot. It's true. And I know that strength comes from my Savior and Father in Heaven. 

As I reflect on what I felt today, this verse keeps coming to mind. I think it's beautiful. 

Enos 1:27:

"And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father."

I imagine that would feel a little like what I felt today. And I hope He says that to me. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Beauty and Light


 Just a couple of hours after the post I wrote last night, the darkness started coming back. This time, I could not shake it. There was no choosing to be happy.

As I knelt down to pray, I had this simple prompting: ask Jack for a blessing. I said my prayer then asked for a blessing. By this time, I was crying. I felt physical pain and that freezing feeling. These bouts of darkness and pain have continued to get worse daily for the last few weeks. Sometimes I think something is wrong with me. Or that if I told people I think Satan is taking over my body, they wouldn't believe me. I can't really describe how it has felt. Just completely and utterly awful.

I've felt crazy. I have had moments where I feel happy. I feel light. I feel joy. Then I have had my moments where I instantly switch to darkness. Despair. Trapped. Frozen. It's day and night how opposite those feelings are. And it's insane how fast the switch between the two comes. I actually had this thought yesterday that maybe I am bipolar. Except for the fact that I have never felt this way before, at least not to this extremity.

Last night I asked Jack to give me a blessing. It was the most beautiful and powerful priesthood blessing I have had in a while. He even started with those words I'm always longing to hear, "You've requested a blessing for comfort, but this will also be a blessing of healing." I felt this powerful surge of faith--and I felt like He is recognizing my faith and blessing me for it. Oh man, it was just so awesome, and that's only the beginning. I just want to share a little part of this blessing. I was told that Satan has been trying to take over my body, and recently I have felt a small portion of the misery and darkness that Satan wants me to feel for eternity. Then, Satan was commanded, in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave me. With those words, I felt him leave. I felt a huge weight lifted, and I felt peace. Oh, blessed peace--a calming and refreshing peace like I have not felt in weeks. It was amazing. I feel amazing.

I was given instruction and warnings of him coming back. I was given a lot of specific instruction for many trials I am struggling with right now. It was so beautiful. The Spirit that was in the room was so powerful, so strong. It was a testament to me of God's love for me, along with the power of the priesthood.

I have so much to be grateful for. Despite the pain of the blackness I have felt recently, it's helped me draw closer to God. My patriarchal blessing warns me to be wary of the things of the world, so I always try to be. My patriarchal blessing also says something to the effect of as I increase my understanding of my relationship with God, I will be blessed with a happy and healthy life. While I have been being closed-in by blackness, I've seen that I always have a choice. I can choose to get angry and separate myself from God, or I can choose to remember my knowledge I have of the plan of salvation and my relationships with my Father and my Savior. I've been choosing the latter. And while the darkness has been scary and terrifying, I feel so much closer to Them--something I am beyond grateful for.

Something I have struggled with in the past that I've been working on is the idea of loving God. I know we are supposed to love Him. I know He is my Father. But I haven't felt like I have a relationship with Him where I can actually love Him. A couple days ago while I was praying, I realized that I really, truly, deeply love God. It was a beautiful feeling.

E., my friend to whom I recently disclosed the addiction trial, asked me if I'm grateful for it. I told her yes. I am. I am so, so grateful for this trial, along with others, because I'm learning things that I have no idea how I would learn otherwise.

I'm learning how to love.

I'm learning how to stay close to the Spirit.

I'm learning humility.

I'm learning trust.

I'm learning patience.

I'm learning to find beauty.

I'm gaining a stronger love for the scriptures.

I'm gaining a better understanding of the Plan.

I'm gaining a stronger relationship with God and my Savior.

I'm learning to recognize others who are in need.

I feel stronger. I have faith. I have love. I have God on my side. Always. I have my Savior to lift me up. Always.

I'm so full of joy and gratitude. I'm so grateful for everything right now. Hallelujah!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

From dark to light


Yesterday I was scary. I was so angry and so depressed that I scared myself. At one (extreme) low point, one of my parents' dogs (we are watching the dogs while they are on vacation) was really annoying. I couldn't handle it anymore, so I just ran up to him, got down to his level, and screamed as loud and long as I could (don't worry though. He is a very non-judgmental dog. In fact, he seemed to think it was funny). I can't even describe it other than saying it felt very out of control and desperate. The feelings tied to it were terrifying. 

I prayed a lot yesterday. I studied my scriptures. I did a lot of good things to help with my depression and anxiety. Even though I felt out of control almost all day, by the time I was supposed to go out to this girl's night I helped put together, I was doing okay. And by the time I woke up this morning, I was happy

I have been happy today. HAPPY! I have had my moments where the bad tries to creep in, but I made the choice today to be happy, and I was. And it has been beautiful. 

I'm grateful for the sweet peace the gospel brings. I know this peace is from my Father and my Savior. I feel so incredibly blessed today. And, looking back, I am grateful for the darkness so I can relish the light even more. That's one good thing about trials.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I feel frozen

I feel frozen.
In blackness.
A lovely gift from Satan. Yes, I know the way he works on me and my body.

I started freezing yesterday.

By frozen, I mean, my body wants to shut down. I can barely communicate to different parts of my body to work. Like my fingers to type. Yesterday, it was my arms to stroke and my feet to kick while I swam. Then it was my legs to move when I walked. My mouth to work to explain to Jack what was going on. Tears barely even came out while we chatted last night. That is so not like me. I can usually at least cry.

All I can see about three feet in front of me is blackness.

I recently made the decision to tell a close friend about the addiction. I felt the prompting to tell her for a couple of weeks before I actually did. I was scared. I didn't want it to ruin our friendship. I didn't want her to freak out. And I wanted Jack to be okay with me telling her. That's what he fasted for on Fast Sunday, and then I waited to find a good time to talk to her about it. I'm so glad I told her because she just gets it. She may not completely understand everything about it, but she seems totally with it. And she is encouraging. I can't even describe it. But, in talking with her, she has said some things that I completely needed to hear.

We had a really good conversation yesterday. I felt light. I felt free. I felt loved and understood. I finally feel like I have a true friend in this place we are living.

We didn't just talk about the addiction yesterday. We talked about other things too. I could talk to her for hours. But eventually, I had to leave. As soon as I left, I started feeling weighed down. The feeling got worse and worse. By the time I arrived home, it took almost every ounce of energy I had to walk inside. To change my clothes to swim. To tell Jack about my day. To drive with him to the fitness center. We were going to swim for half an hour. I lasted 17 minutes then just couldn't do it anymore. It took all I had to shower. To stretch. To come home and make dinner. To watch the All-Star game (I slept through the All-Star game, actually).

My body was tensing up and shutting down.

I'm glad I'm at the point where I can really evaluate what is going on. I know that this horrible feeling is not me. It is not God telling me I'm doing something wrong. It is not because of the addiction. It's darkness surrounding me from Satan. I even know what triggered this, and I can see all the consequences of that one trigger.

It was triggered by a training I went to yesterday for school. The training all but completely overwhelmed me. Well, okay, it pretty much overwhelmed me. I have to go back to school in three weeks. For new teacher orientation. Then four days of learning about the new teacher evaluation system. Then four days of whatever else before school starts. Summer is almost gone. I don't feel ready. I'm finally getting over the stress and tension school caused in the spring. I'm not ready for that part of it to start over again.

Don't get me wrong: I absolutely love being a teacher. But the stress of 1) being a first year teacher, 2) having seven different preps, 3) trying to go paperless, 4) creating and implementing a new class 5) being in charge of a club--on top of financial burden, the addiction, back and feet issues, and some other things that I don't even want to get into is... um... HARD. Like really really hard. I have a thousand mixed emotions. I don't want to feel this way. I don't want to dread going back to school (the real me is so excited and can't wait to see her students again and do fun things with the club I'm in charge of and go to sporting events to support my beloved students). I don't want to be afraid of losing my few friends I do have here because of the fact that I won't be able to spend much time with them. I don't want to feel the guilt of not being able to be a good visiting teacher or not being able to give much service to my ward or not being a good member missionary. I have so many guilty feelings just beyond the darkness that I keep trying to push back. And then I'm afraid of not having enough time for anything. Time to study my scriptures and write in my journal. Time to process. Time to think. Time to meditate. Time to ponder. Time for Jack. Time to walk/play with my dog.


Anyway, the training triggered me yesterday. Just that simple overwhelmed feeling triggered all kinds of stuff (as you can tell from my last paragraph). I feel guilt. Darkness. Fear. And the list could go on.

Whenever I start doing really well, Satan attacks me. When I decided to marry Jack, things got really hard. There were times when I questioned it, even though I knew it was 100% right and the decision to marry him was a decision I took very seriously and made with God. When I went home to visit my family, my old young women's advisers threw me a bridal shower. My ex-boyfriend's mom came and made a scene. He was just about to come home from his mission, and she said that this shower was supposed to be happening in her house, and I was supposed to be her daughter-in-law. Thus came the darkness. That's just one example. With every big decision I have made, or with every great thing happening in my life, Satan attacks me. He tries to make me shut down. He shoves depression down my throat.

I can see that happening now. I finally have someone who can offer me support and fantastic insight, and Satan is trying to take that away. He is trying to make me shut down and withdraw. He is making me afraid. Jack and I are finally at a really amazing point in our marriage, and Satan is trying to draw me away. He is trying to get me to withdraw. He wants me to be miserable.

The Love Dare has been amazing. My scripture study lately has been amazing. My testimony has grown so much. I've learned amazing things about myself, my husband, God, and life in general. I have so, so much to be grateful for. I have friends and family who love me. And I have students who love me awaiting my return (as their real teacher and not just a sub!) in a few weeks. Life really is good. I am truly blessed. I'm blessed to have the gospel. I'm blessed to understand what I do about the Atonement. I'm blessed to have faith in my Savior. I'm blessed in so many ways.

But Satan doesn't want me to see that.


Jack and I recently read this article together for companionship study: "A Time for Faith, Not Fear." I loved this quote:

"I have found that usually when we face our most difficult tests, the Lord is there ahead of us to prepare the way through them.

"My wife and I were a bit anxious about going to Russia when called to serve there in 2006. We had never been to Russia and did not know a lot about it. The responsibilities of the call seemed challenging, to say the least. In a meeting in his office, President Packer gave us wonderful counsel: 'Remember, the Lord will have been there before you.' He then reminded us of the Lord’s promise, 'For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up' (D&C 84:88)."

I am continually reminding myself that He has felt what I feel. He has felt more than I could even possibly imagine. He knows exactly what to do to succor me, and I will be okay through Him. If I rely on Him, everything will be okay. Everything will be okay.

And He sends me angels to lift me up.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Love is honorable

Today I was reminded of honor and holiness.

1) We should treat our spouses with honor. After all, when we married our spouse, we thought he/she was special and of great worth to us.

2) The marriage relationship is holy. Our spouse is holy--set apart for a higher purpose. "A person who has become holy to you has a place no one can rival in your heart. He or she is sacred to you, a person to be honored, praised, and defended" (Love Dare p. 72).

Really, I just loved this quote and wanted to share it.

"But when your attempts at honor go unreciprocated, you are to give honor just the same. That's what love dares to do--to say, 'Of all the relationships I have, I will value ours the most. Of all the things I'm willing to sacrifice, I will sacrifice the most for you. With all your failures, sins, mistakes, and faults--past and present--I still choose to love and honor you.' That's how you create an atmosphere for love to be rekindled. That's how you lead your heart to truly love your mate again. And that's the beauty of honor" (p. 73).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Whirlwind This Week

This week has been a whirlwind. I don't even know where to begin.

I've experienced extreme highs and extreme lows.

My chat with Bishop last Sunday gave me a whole new perspective on things. I'm glad I took a slight break from the Love Dare because resuming it with this fresh attitude has been amazing for me. I feel love on a whole new level. That love has helped carry me through the week, and it really has been pretty wonderful. I've enjoyed doing little things for Jack during the day, and I have a more joyful attitude about everything in general.

I've come to some conclusions about our relationship that I hadn't realized before. Day 10 of the Love Dare is "Love is unconditional." As I read the chapter, I realized that maybe when we got married, my love for Jack was based on more "qualifications" than unconditional love.

Here is why:
I loved that he had a strong testimony of the gospel. I loved that he treated me and my body with respect. I loved that he gave service to people quite frequently, and I loved that he is a very  genuine and caring person. I loved that he was adorable when playing with his nieces and nephews. I loved how he treated his mom and sisters. I love that he took his little sister on a date. I loved his passion for basketball and running. I loved his desire to be fit and healthy. I loved how much I was attracted to him. I loved him because he was my best friend. And all that good outweighed the little things that did bother me (like the fact that he is half an inch shorter than me). I loved him, but it was kind of a little on the side of does he meet my checklist? (not entirely that kind of love, but hopefully you will get the point I'm getting at.)

During this chapter (Love is unconditional), it asks the question, "Why do you love your spouse?" Most people would list qualities or characteristics of their spouse. Then it asks, "What if over the course of years, your spouse stopped being those things? Would you still love him/her?" Based on the reasons listed, the logical answer would be no. You wouldn't still love your spouse if he/she changed if your love was solely based on those certain qualities. And I realized that is part of why it's hard to see love in my marriage: because I've realized my husband isn't all that I thought he was. Is my love for him strong enough and dedicated enough to try to make this work? Yes. Because I have unconditional love. (**NOTE: due to the situation, though, there are some things that are conditional, and that is okay. Boundaries related to the addiction, if broken, could be cause for contemplation of and possible carry-through of divorce. I definitely do not judge anyone who has gone through or is going through a divorce, especially if you've given all you can, and double-especially if addiction and abuse have been involved.)

I'm working on building a stronger unconditional love. I'm also working on cherishing my husband more. I'm working on letting stubbornness and pride go. I'm working on being more considerate and loving. I'm learning to take delight in my relationship with Jack.

My love is growing deeper. It's more pure. I can feel it, and he can feel it. My heart is being softened, and so is his. I feel so much hope and joy!

But like I said, this week has been a whirlwind of emotional highs and lows. With the excitement of my love increasing, I had extreme high points [beautiful]. But Satan is also attacking me, and that's where the lows have come.

Both Thursday and Friday, I was just plain depressed. Then I had things that triggered me, and both nights I cried myself to sleep. Gut-wrenching sobs. Hyperventilating sobs. Like the time when we broke up before we got engaged,or when I discovered the addiction. Yesterday, I was just so sad. I just kept clinging to God and relying on Him to carry me through the day. He did, and today I feel much happier. But it's crazy how swamped in darkness I felt. Jack didn't even have relapses this week. It was just things that triggered me. I've also realized that just because he isn't relapsing doesn't mean I shouldn't be feeling pain or fear. I have a lot of wounds to be healed. Maybe they will open up and bleed sometimes, and that's okay. I just need to treat them.

I still feel that darkness creeping in. I feel it ready to break into my soul at the first moment it can. I'm trying not to let it. Because "the darkness inside...can make [me] feel so small."

The song "True Colors" has helped get me through this week. It's my current favorite song. There is so much depth and meaning, and it describes perfectly so many things in my life. And it has hope.

I love The Voice. Michelle's version of this song was simply beautiful and amazing. It's her version that I listen to on repeat. And yes, it makes me tear up every time.

You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh, I realize
It's hard to take courage

In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you

So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
Your true colors 

Are beautiful like a rainbow

Show me a smile then
Don't be unhappy
Can't remember when
I last saw you laughing

If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
See your true colors
And that's why I love you

So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors

True colors
Your true colors
Are beautiful like a rainbow

If this world makes you crazy
You've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you

So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
True colors are shining through

I see your true colors
And that's why I love you

So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
Are beautiful

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Christ. I love Him.

If you're reading this and you're not LDS, you might see the word Book of Mormon and want to click off the screen. I'd say keep reading because what I read today in the Book of Mormon is beautiful. It's about Jesus Christ, His role on earth, and our relationship with Him and His sacrifice.

I'm doing a Book of Mormon challenge with my Sunday School class. I didn't want to at first because I really kind of hate BoM challenges. Jack and I felt inspired to assign it to our class, but I was hesitant because I, myself, did not want to do it. I like doing topical studies or turning to where I feel like I should study. Or I like taking my time and not having a deadline as to when I should finish the Book of Mormon. But I have been doing it, and I'm beating all those 14-year-olds! (haha)

This challenge has been so good for me. For one thing, my testimony of the Book of Mormon is getting stronger. My testimony of Jesus Christ is getting stronger. And I keep finding scriptures at the perfect time I need them. Like today.

Today I read Alma 7. This is one of my favorite passages of scripture ever. In this chapter, Alma describes the Savior's ministry here on earth, and he also tells us what our obligations are to our Savior.

-He suffered every kind of pain, affliction, and temptation. Every kind! He knows exactly what I'm going through at all times. No matter the pain. No matter the heartache. No matter the temptation. He has felt it, and because He has felt it, He knows exactly how to help me.
-His sufferings allowed Him to be filled with mercy, and He knows how to succor (assist/support in times of distress) us.
-He loosed the bands of death. We can be resurrected and live, body and spirit, forever.
-He took upon Himself all of our sins so we can be completely forgiven. He, who was completely innocent, took upon Himself the burdens of our sins. Because of that, our sins can be blotted out.

A lot of times, people think the Atonement is just for our sins. We forget that it covers everything--pains, afflictions, infirmities, and temptations. I love that in these verses (11-13), it talks about the other stuff before sins. For me, someone who experiences a lot of pain, that is so healing. To realize that those other aspects are just as important (or more-so?) is beautiful. And He can succor me.

-To put the Atonement in effect for us, we have to repent and be born again. We have to be baptized so our sins are washed away.
-We have to have faith in Him and fear not! I feel like fear not is especially for me. I fear a lot. My faith in Christ should help me overcome my fears. I also recognize that fear is of Satan, not of God.
-We are told to be humble, submissive, gentle, easy to be entreated (approachable to for someone to ask us for help), patient, long-suffering, temperate, and diligent. Each of those traits are things I have been working on in my marriage. To have charity. To have a loving relationship with my husband. To exemplify Christ. When I read that today, I was like BOOM! I'm on the right track :)
-We need to ask God for the things we need--both temporal and spiritual. And we must remember to always give thanks for what He gives us.
-And, we must have faith, hope, charity, and remember to serve (good works) others. Look beyond ourselves at others' needs.

Christ gives us so much. He provides the way for us to be healed. He provides the way for us to be made whole.

As I've written, I have been in a lot of pain lately. I know many of you have too from what I've been reading on others' blogs. Christ provides peace. I know I can always turn to Him for my needs to be met. On the days I feel like life is unbearable and unmanageable, I can turn it over to Him. He has given me strength to get through the day. And the next day. And the next. He carries me until I have the ability to carry myself, and then He walks by me. I'm grateful for that because I stumble and fall a lot, and He is there to pick me up (if I let Him).

Christ gives me so much. And I'm not asked nearly as much in return. Besides, all that I'm asked to do makes me better and more receptive to peace and healing.

I love it. I love Him.

I can't express that enough. I. LOVE. HIM.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Answer to my Fast: Throw out the Money-changers


Yesterday, I fasted for Jack. Nothing specifically, just for him. For strength, for hope. Maybe for me to have strength and hope for him. Maybe for our relationship. I just fasted for him and asked God to take care of whatever he needed.

I got some answers. And I can already feel the strength in me and in our relationship.

While waiting to meet with Bishop, I started reading a chapter from the strengthening marriage and family manual in the gospel library on my phone. The chapter I read was nurturing love and friendship in marriage. The things that stood out to me the most were attributes of charity, cooperation, drawing together in trial through selflessness, and understanding how hard you have to work to keep a marriage strong. I learned a lot. I just wrote brief words here, but the depth and meaning behind what I read and learned was intense. I felt strength in facing our trials, especially the pornography trial.And it prepared me for what I would hear from Bishop.

I've been in a lot of pain lately. Maybe it's because I am finally facing/admitting the truth that the addiction is always going to be a part of our lives. I didn't realize I had kind of been in denial about that until, well, today, as I have been writing. I've hoped and prayed. I've forgiven and been accepting and loving. I've done a lot. I've been very selfless. I've held on to the hope that he would overcome, and I think I've been secretly hoping it would be quickly. I've been hoping it would just be a phase and he would heal soon.

I've known that the addiction could last our whole lives. I just haven't wanted to actually admit that. I haven't really said it out loud. So here I am. In all my vulnerability. 

It's been most of our marriage. I have known for over two years. He has been addicted for over half his life. This isn't going away any time soon.

I have hope that he will overcome it, but it probably won't be very quickly. That scares me. Because anything could happen. I know he "loves" his addiction. He has said that. There is this part of him that truly loves it, no  matter how much he despises it. He isn't ready to be fully free of his addiction. Because he doesn't want to be yet. He has said that to me, and he has said that to our bishop. And Bishop reminded me of that yesterday.

When will he be able to give it up? Will he be able to give it up? How hard is he really trying? He says he is trying, and I'm sure he is trying sometimes, but is he really trying? All the time? Will this break up our eternal marriage? 

I feel more at peace with the fact that maybe I will be on my own after this life. Maybe I won't. I don' t know how it works. I do feel more at peace with the idea of not clinging to him, though. You know, not stressing over the fact that maybe we might end up in different places after this life. And no matter what happens, I'll be happy because  I'm dedicating my life to get to God. I'm not really afraid of being alone in eternity. The idea just makes me sad. It's a painful kind of sad.

A question I need answered for myself  right now is do I want our marriage to work? Bishop said that I have shown myself as Christlike and forgiving. Many women in my position (whom he has seen) would have already given up--separated or divorced. And quite frankly, it's getting harder. I know the pornography and masturbation aren't every day. But it's there. It's frequent enough. It's infidelity. It's adulterous. 

It's hard. It's really hard. 

That chapter I read yesterday, about nurturing love and friendship in marriage, was really motivating. I understand better how much work I have to put in to our marriage. I wish they would teach you these things before you get married. I wish someone would have said, "Hey, Marie, you're in love. You think your husband is perfect, but just imagine for a second that he's not. Imagine that he has some horrible traits. Let that image settle for a second. Are you willing to stick to him?" They should teach something like that in the marriage prep class.

It's not easy. It's not going to be easy. I can't be in denial anymore about it, though. My life is hard. It will be hard for the rest of my life. He isn't going to overcome his addiction as fast as I want him to. There is the possibility that he might not ever. Do I want this marriage to work? Do I want to give up and quit, or am I ready to give it my all, holding nothing back? If I hold nothing back, I'm setting myself up for big emotional battles. I'm preparing myself for all kinds of opposition and negative emotions. Am I ready to face that? Am I ready to give it my all?

Bishop pointed out what he observes as my characteristics in dealing with this (and he was spot-on): I'm very involved. We communicate well. I communicate my needs and emotions well. I want to know things, and Jack tells me. But I'm also really hands-off. I work on my healing, and I encourage Jack, but I'm not forceful. I'm not demanding. I don't set expectations. (Because I'm trying not to be co-dependent.)

Bishop told me that through my actions, I have definitely shown my ability to be Christlike (which made me feel so good. Christlike is what I'm always striving for). I have shown compassion and forgiveness. But, he encouraged me to expect and demand more. And I know my motivator needs to be love. If I really love Jack, I will expect more. Because I am seeing him through God's eyes. And God expects more.
What he said made me think. I've gone back and forth on the expectations thing a lot. I've found it's easier to have no expectations because then I don't have to deal with the intensity of the emotions. I've definitely had my fair share of all the negative emotions that are wrapped up with a sex-addicted husband. And I do have expectations. I just haven't been forceful about them. I've been angry. I've sure as heck been angry. And I've tried to get away from the anger. I've tried to steer away from co-dependency. With all the talk about co-dependency and how bad it is, I've tried hard to let things be and work on my healing and separating myself from the addiction (if that makes sense). I've tried to be confident without him. I've tried to make our marriage work, but I've also, in a sense, removed (or at least tried to remove) myself from the addiction. To avoid pain. And to save myself.

When he confesses something, I am strong. I know he is hurting, and I know he is hurting me, so I hold solid for a few days. And then my walls come crashing down. Sometimes in private, sometimes to him. Sometimes I tell him things to express how much it hurts, but I usually try to be strong. For him. So he doesn't experience more pain himself. Because I can only imagine how much it must hurt to be addicted to something that causes so much pain to the person you love more than anything else in this life.

I have to find a balance. Yes, he is addicted, but he sins. He knowingly sins. I have to have expectations for that. After all, we made covenants. 

Having high expectations, dealing with the pain, and trying to be forceful and controlling is not going to be healthy. I don't want to slip back into codependent mode. I don't want to lose what I have gained in my recovery already. 

Peace. I don't want to lose peace. I don't want to turn into a crazy, psychotic, controlling woman. So, how do I establish the expectations and boundaries in a non-controlling or threatening manner? How do I establish the expectations and boundaries in a way that shows I'm doing it out of love for him, not because I'm cautious or scared for myself and our relationship? Because ultimately, I have shown forgiveness. I have shown compassion. I have let him try to do it on his own (with God), but he needs me. He needs me to help him adhere to his expectations for himself, my expectations for him, God's expectations for him, and our boundaries. He needs me to be his cheerleader. He needs me to show him my love and care, he needs high expectations but also high emotional response and support.

That sounds to me like a democratic parent. I teach about democratic parents in Child Development, Parenting, and F.A.C.S. Democratic is the best style of parenting. Permissive is what I have been: high emotional response, but low demand. That's better than just plain neglect (no response or demand), but not the best. The best is to have high response and high demands. People need expectations.

I need to find a balance for myself. Obviously, I'm not parenting. I'm partnering. I'm loving. I talked about that with Bishop too. He asked me what my goals are for when Jack and I are parents. Do we want to be partners? Of course we do. Do I want him to be a priesthood leader in our home? Of course I do. If I want those, I need to treat him as such now. We are partners. He has made covenants. He isn't the priesthood leader he should and could be. And I can't expect him to make any changes on his own. I have to put more effort into helping him recover rather than just sitting on the sidelines cheering him on. I have to help him. I have to set expectations. And I will expect in the most Christlike manner possible. 

Bishop recommended that we make rules. If Jack is using the computer to access porn, then his computer-use needs to be restricted (I got the impression that he would be perfectly okay with me destroying my husband's computer. That sounds kind of fun... but it's my computer, actually. His laptop broke, and we haven't been able to afford a desktop. When I told Bishop that, he then suggested I restrict Jack's access to my computer). I told him, I'm afraid that won't help with a change of heart. Destroying the source is just bandaging the problem, not actually helping it heal. He said he can see my point, but sometimes we need to make a change in behavior first to cleanse us and prepare us for a change of heart. You can't have a change of heart if the actions aren't changing. 

I haven't really heard it put that way before. But it totally makes sense to me. In the 12-step guidebook, there is that quote about Christ taking the slums out of the people and then they take themselves out of the slums. I used to think it only meant you have to experience a change of heart first, and then you can make changes of behavior. That quote has new meaning to me today. It could mean that we take the slums out of Jack (take the porn out. Take out what is giving him access) in order for him to truly take himself out (change of heart). And then when he has taken himself out (when his heart is truly changed), he won't want to go back in. 

Whoa. What a new perspective. 

Bishop also told me it's okay to just throw the money-changers out of the temple. Christ didn't ask them nicely to leave. He said get the heck out right now. He overthrew the tables. He cast them out. Christ had expectations for his temple, and when those expectations weren't met, he became the change that needed to happen. Our marriage is like that. I can throw the bad out. I can say, "Hey, I have expectations. These are my expectations, and if you are going to look at porn, I'll get rid of the source." I can throw the money-changers out.

Of course, I have to do this with charity. Love. Christlike love. It's not about me being angry or irrational. It's about me loving my husband enough to throw the money-changers out of our temple--out of our marriage. It's about me saying, "Yep, this will be hard. But I'm going to do what's best for you, even if you don't like it right now." That is true love, true charity. 

Bishop commended me for being so Christlike, so forgiving. But, from our conversation, I felt him encouraging me to become even more Christlike. Really act with love. I need to do more than just forgive and tolerate. I need more than compassion. I need to put forth effort to make our home better and to help make Jack better.

So, that's what I'll do. It's kind of hard for me to be strong (forceful?) about boundaries or expectations. But I know I need to be. And I guess this is the next step towards my recovery and healing. So I will set expectations and boundaries. I will define my needs and my goals for our family. I will share them with Jack, and we will both be stronger.

Now, it's time to get back to the Love Dare. I've taken a few days off. But now I think I can resume and do all these nice, wonderful things for Jack because I know the work I need to put in. And I know that I still need to act with service and love. I'm not in denial about the work our marriage takes anymore. I'm ready and willing to work hard. I won't give up on our marriage because there is still hope. And I've made covenants with Jack and with God. And I'll do what I can to keep those covenants and help Jack keep his.

**I know that what my bishop is encouraging me to do is not for everyone. Everyone has their own way of healing and dealing with this trial. I have a testimony that my bishop is a man of God. I could feel God's presence in that room while we talked yesterday. I know the counsel given to me was of God, and I am preparing myself to make changes in the way I handle this trial. As I make changes, I will be prayerful and really try to do things the way Christ wants me to. And I really am trying to make my motivator love. Which, is what the Love Dare is trying to get me to do too. Funny how that goes hand-in-hand with everything else... 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

He Knows It Hurts

Today I prayed and tried to express my pains and feelings to God. Prayer is sometimes really hard for me, but I'm trying to make it better and have better communication with Him.

As I poured out the pain of the addiction and the recent relapses, I found myself expressing, "It still hurts" over and over. Like a broken record.

Jack had a minor slip-up yesterday (minor can be relative--minor compared to normal). I know it has nothing to do with me. I know it's not because I'm fat, ugly, or a failure as a wife...Or at least that's what I  keep telling myself. No, I know it's not those things. I like myself, and I do know his relapses are not because of me but because of the addiction. The brain. The dopamine.

But it still hurts. It still makes me emotionally guarded. I'm still in pain.

When I tried to explain that to Heavenly Father and begged for relief, a feeling of peace washed over me as I felt the Spirit whisper, "Marie, I know it hurts. It hurts me when my children are unfaithful to me and turn to other means of fulfilling what only I can give. It's okay to hurt. And I'm here for you."

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Burning the Addiction

We burned the addiction today.

We burned the addiction on Independence Day! (Happy Independence Day, y'all!)


Yesterday, my dare was to get two pieces of paper. On one, I was to write all the positive things about Jack. On the other, I was to list all the negatives. Then, I was supposed to hide them in a safe place for later purposes in the Love Dare.

I didn't write the list of negatives. I didn't want to. I don't like dwelling on the negative, and I was afraid that making a real list of them would trigger me. Besides, I don't have many anyway. Other than the addiction, everything else is just human. They are small things that I know aren't important. Plus, I only dwell on the negative when I am depressed (and I don't really feel like being depressed). So I decided to skip that part and when it came back up in the Dare, I would see if I could somehow get around it.

The list of negatives came back up TODAY.

The chapter was about overcoming jealousy/envy and becoming my spouse's biggest fan. The dare: "To help you set your heart on your spouse and focus on their achievements, take yesterday's list of negative attributes and discreetly burn it."

I'll admit, I was tempted to dwell on the negative just so I could burn it. What fun that could be!

Then, a better idea hit. Why not just write something about the addiction on a piece of paper and burn the addiction together?

I was so happy about my idea that I felt like skipping. I rushed out to find Jack and said, "Let's burn the addiction!" I explained to him what was going on. He got matches while I wrote, "The addiction tears our marriage apart" on a sheet of paper.

We took it to our fire pit.

I wanted to be the one to burn it, so I struck the match, touched a corner of the paper, and put the match out. It burned for a second then quickly went out.

Jack said since it didn't work, it was his turn. So, I let him. After all, it's his addiction.

His match burned that paper to a crisp.

I pointed out the irony (only he can destroy the addiction, not me). Then we held each other tight and watched the smoke curl up into the sunlit sky. It was a perfect moment (that could only have been more perfect if we had done some kind of ceremonial dance around the fire. But, alas, I can only ask my husband to be so weird with me. There were people around.)

Happy Independence Day! Let freedom ring!

(someone sing a freedom-hallelujah-chorus!)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Learning from the Dare

There have been a few times that I've been tempted to quit the Love Dare. The main thing that keeps me going is the fact that I felt inspired to do this, and I know that God wants me to do it for a reason. 

The thing that makes it so hard is how selfless you are supposed to be. I've never thought of myself as that selfish of a person, but I have felt selfish as I've done this Dare (even though much of the selfless acts come naturally to me). I thought a lot about that yesterday, and I think I figured out my main issues with the Love Dare. Knowing these issues really helped me yesterday, and I think I can move forward more peacefully.

I am the wife of a sex-addict. I've experienced a lot of hurt. I've experienced my fair share of selflessness. The reasons I'm selfish are mainly for emotional protection. If I'm not selfish, if I give of myself too much, I risk being trampled on and hurt even more. I'm almost always on guard because of an inner self-protection. I've lived emotionally on guard for the past three and a half years (before we were married for different reasons that are a whole separate story). Things were only calm for three weeks between the wedding and my car accident. Then, the emotional trauma got worse from my brain injury and other results of the accident. Our relationship hit a bad spot with our lack of intimacy due to my  injuries and his turning to porn and masturbation during that time. When I first learned of his addiction, my self-protection kicked in even more, and I've been on an emotional roller coaster ever since.

I've been hurt badly. The reasons I'm selfish are for my sanity or because of a developed reaction to things. Looking at it all, it's no wonder that it's so hard to give up selfish and become selfless. It feels physically painful at times to make that change. I've had my days during the past week of the Love Dare where I have wondered if he even realizes how much I am giving of myself and if he will notice and follow my example and do something nice for me (selfish, but we all enjoy being served and feeling appreciated). When you are already hurting, it's incredibly hard to only think of the other's well-being and ignore your selfish wants or needs.

I decided that in this book, some things are a little extreme. Or maybe I'm just reading into it way too much. Either way, I've made some realizations and changes as I've gone through the Dare that help me do it better.

I'm not ignoring my wants or needs. I can't be so selfless that I forget to take care of myself. I don't think that's healthy. We all have needs. We all have wants that feel like needs. We all experience emotion. It's not healthy to push those off and ignore them. At least, it's not healthy for me. When I am pushing things away to just focus on Jack (or anyone else), I experience some major anxiety, stress, and overwhelmedness (I just made that word up). I physically can't just not let my needs be met. I can't. Or else I turn into Monsterwoman. I like to serve, and I like being selfless and turning to Christ's way, but I can't ignore what I feel. I have to be validated. I have to let myself feel. It's just a matter of what I do with those feelings--if I handle them appropriately or not.

Through all of these dares (love is patient, love is kind, love is not selfish, love is thoughtful, love is not rude, love is not irritable, love believes the best), I've been able to reflect a lot on things and learn about myself. The things I do that harm our relationship the most are 1) my tone of voice or how I talk to him when I am hurting, and 2) my actions when I am hurting.

Just because I'm hurting doesn't give me the right to lash out and do or say things to drag him down with me. Besides, he's already down. He's already wounded. He's already seeking healing and trying to overcome the devil, so why should I make it worse?

As I have sought to be less negative and angry, more patient and loving, more selfless and caring, and less rude and irritable, I've found more positive and constructive outlets for me and my relationship with him.

On the days I couldn't say anything negative, I had to leave the conversation for a time, pray, and really turn it over to God so I could come back. When I came back, I was able to address the problem in a more constructive and positive way--with communication that didn't just make him shut down.

On the day I focused on selflessness, I did something that really made him happy, and it made me happy.

Yesterday was "love is not irritable." This was the best self-reflective day for me. The chapter broke down reasons why people are irritable. As I pondered the chapter and Bible verses, I realized that the main reasons I do lash out or get irritable really easily (such as when the noises his throat makes when he eats really annoy me and other stupid stuff like that) are from STRESS.

About a year ago, I made a list of stressors because I realized that my stress was playing a huge role in our relationship and my ability to cope with things. I put that list on my nightstand and looked at it every day to remind myself that those things were stressing me out. It sounds weird, but it put things into perspective for me to see that those were my stressors and that most of the things that made me mad in our relationship were really because of a build-up of stress. I worked on balance and peace. Those were topics I studied a lot in my scripture study, and I was able to be okay.

Yesterday, I made a new list. My stress list is 15 ITEMS LONG. 15! Those aren't even little things. Those are HUGE things that really have an impact on my sanity and peace. No wonder I feel like I'm falling apart at the seams sometimes.

I was able to take that list and ponder the Atonement. I prayed and gained strength. I thought about where I can add margin and breathing space. I prioritized. Throughout the day, whenever I got irritated, I reminded myself that my stress level is causing negative reactions and that I'm working on balance and being positive.

At dinner, something happened between Jack and me that really made me mad. After just a few minutes of trying to deal with it there, I just got up, threw my dinner plate in the sink, and stormed off to our room. While I laid on the bed fuming, I thought. I thought about my stressors. I thought about the decision I had made that morning to turn everything over to God. I felt stubborn pride and unwillingness to turn the issue over. Eventually, I prayed. I cried and told God how silly I felt, and I told Him that I desperately needed His help so I could quickly forgive and our night wouldn't be ruined. I felt peace. I forgave. And then I came out, we talked calmly about what had just happened. I calmly and peaceably explained why it had hurt me. He sincerely apologized (which was nice. Also, he did all the dishes while I was mad, which was also nice), and then we ate cookies and ice cream, played games, and watched Sherlock on Netflix. By the end of the night, the love was back. And it was strong.

I am really glad I'm doing this Dare even though it's hard at times. It's teaching me a lot about love and a lot about myself. I'm learning how to allow myself to balance feeling emotion and acting positively and constructively. I'm learning how to strengthen some of my weaknesses. I'm learning to turn myself over to God more often. I'm learning better communication. I'm learning the ins and outs of myself, and I feel like I'm starting to become the me I want to be. And I have more hope.