Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bring on September

This week has been hard. 

We'd planned on going to the temple today all month, and I faced some serious opposition leading up to today. Even this morning. Man, I've just been so overwhelmed with everything happening in my life that I started shutting down this week. It's literally been self-administered pep talks every day. I'm doing my best, but I've still been very discouraged. I've tried to give it to God, but that's been hard too. 

I've been MEAN this week. So many little things have gotten to me. I've restrained a lot (despite what some people close to me may think), and I know I've just been awful with some of what I did let loose. 

Today I went to the temple. I was blessed during the week to recognize Satan's attempts for me not to go, and I wasn't stopped by Him. I'm so glad I went to the temple because I got a lot of insight that I totally needed. 

During my session, I reflected back on this week trying to figure out what the real problem was. The real problem was not insurance (we had a few minor issues that I got rageful about). It wasn't him forgetting to close my water bottle after filling it up for me. It wasn't him giving me an anniversary gift early--despite my protestations. Nor was it him missing my school's pride night (although that was a big deal for me. But in the end it wasn't quite his fault). See how minor those things are? I see it. That's why I have been concerned and getting down on myself. 

The real problem comes down to the addiction. I've been in denial about how much I'm hurting from the last few weeks. In fact, I tend to be in denial about my pain a lot because I try so hard to not be codependent that I try to blame my issues on other things. Usually the small, meaningless stuff. 

I realized that I'm hurting. I actually think I haven't fully forgiven him for this one yet. It also hurts because I felt so unsafe that I couldn't bring myself to physical intimacy during my fertile time. That hurt. We couldn't even try this month because of my pain. Infertility is painful. Here's to another month, and this month it's because of choice. Sigh. 

On a brighter note, I also realized in the temple that I haven't given myself me time. I need to. I really need to. 

I also felt God's love wash over me as He  told me, "You made it. You made it to the temple. I knew you would come." 

The last big thing from the temple was the lesson I learned about waiting on the Lord. I've never caught that like I did today. From that, I feel more hope and strength for endurance. I can keep going. Even if I don't think He is there, He is. And He sees all. He has a plan for me that is much better than I could come up with. 

And on that note, bring on September! **fist pump!**

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That's Who I Am

I have a lot to write and no time.

I have felt a lot of stress and pressure lately, especially today. I almost had a meltdown at school about some things (half school related, half personal issues), but luckily I kept my composure. 

I've also been incredibly blessed. Even though I don't have much time to get on here and read blogs, or write my own for that matter, and even though I don't have much time to study my scriptures, I'm really working on my relationship with God. I don't do the greatest every day, but I do what I can. I've found myself leaning on the half hour drive to and from work as my alone time and my time with God. I rotate between listening to talks, listening to classical and piano music, and listening to inspiring music.  During the day, I try to listen to the Spirit. I pray when I can, and I try to see my students through God's eyes. I've had some amazing experiences. 

Today I have been blessed with incredible strength. And I was blessed to feel Christ carry me. I've been studying the talk "Of Regrets and Resolutions" this week along with the Atonement, and it has really helped me see things through clearer eyes. I can't really get into it now, but I really just wanted to express that He is there. I can feel it every day, even when I'm down. I also feel Satan attacking me, and I'm learning how to deal with his negative influences in positive ways and kick him to the curb. 

Lots of tender mercies have been thrown my way today. I'm thanking the Lord for every single one.

One was this song coming on during my drive home today. I put my recovery playlist on shuffle and told God to just hit me with the ones I need. The songs came in the most perfect order ever. And this is one that really lifted me up and strengthened me:

That’s Who I Am
(by Hilary Weeks)
I can feel myself breathe
Really breathe again
Gonna let myself dream
Really dream again
I won’t ever stop trying
This is my story
And I’m still writing!
I’m uncovering strength
I’ve never felt before
There is a fire inside
That’s never burned before
My fears are all dying
It’s time to spread my wings
And start flying
 This moment is mine
And I’m gonna take it
Today is a gift
And I will embrace it
I am strong
And I believe
That’s who I’m meant to be
Every step that I take
Is lifting me higher
Every corner I turn
The future is brighter
I am brave enough to face the storm
And still stand
That’s who I am!
It’s not about the race
It’s not about how fast I run
It’s finding out what’s inside
And who I can become
It’s all about letting go
And holding on
It’s about taking chances
And staying strong
This moment is mine
And I’m gonna take it
Today is a gift
And I will embrace it
I am strong
And I believe
That’s who I’m meant to be
Every step that I take
Is lifting me higher
Every corner I turn the future is brighter
I am brave enough to face the storm
And still stand
That’s who I am!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Things I've Learned From High Schoolers

It feels like it has been ages since I have written (minus the phone meeting post). It's been almost a week. And holy cow, what a week it has been! I don't even really know what to say about it. There is so much I could say.

I survived the first week of school! Apparently the principals have been hearing good things about me from my students (and hearing good things while they sneakily listen outside my door, as I've found out). The nervousness has completely worn off, and I just feel pumped and ready to go! Actually, that was a lie. There are still things that make me nervous, but not nervous enough to really get into the details right now.

I've learned some valuable things about myself this week.

First, I have a great capacity to love. I mean, it's not like that is really new news. I already know that I have a big heart. But my heart is even bigger than I realized. I think I've done a good job at reaching out to my students and showing them my care for them is real. Every day on my way to school, I think about them. I think about the things they have told me about their lives and families. Some of their stories are heartbreaking. Most of my students come from divorced families. One of my students was held hostage by her dad when she was about 8. Some of my students have never met some of their siblings. Some of my students haven't seen one of their parents in years. I have many students who are or have been in the foster care system.

On the first day, I gave them a questionnaire about themselves, and one of the questions I asked was, "What are your expectations from me as your teacher?" I was surprised at how many of them said things like not to pick favorites, be fair to all the students in my class, and be aware of what is happening in the classroom. Apparently the world needs better teachers? I'm going to be a great teacher.

I also learned that I have the power to choose to be happy. That is something I have struggled with. Sometimes I get down, so down, and I don't know how to get up. I have written about how I sometimes feel controlled by Satan and yes, I do think that sometimes he controls me and maybe I can't choose to be happy in those moments. But, I know I have the Atonement, and I know that through the power of the Atonement I can choose to be happy.

This week was EXHAUSTING. Emotionally and physically. After the weekend with the couch incident, I thought it would be really hard to be at school. I knew I wouldn't get much time to spend with Jack. I knew there would be many challenges, emotionally and physically. Jack gave me a blessing on Sunday night, though, and it helped put things in perspective for me as I started the school year. When my feet hurt like crazy, I chose to be happy. When I was so tired I could barely think, I chose to be happy. When I got in arguments with my mom or husband, I chose to move on and be happy. When the morning started out rough, I chose to be happy. I was happy every day at school. Every single period, even the ones with my challenging students. I have felt an incredible amount of joy, and I feel amazing.

Even when I have gotten down, I've done the things I've known to do to lift myself up. When I've gotten down, I haven't let staying down be an option. I've listened to Conference talks, religious music, my favorite instrumentals, and my recovery playlist while driving. I've prayed when I can. I've read quotes on my LDS Wisdom app (which is really great for a quick pick-me-up).

I'm happy :)

 (so happy, that I may or may not have just had a dance party by myself to this song. actually, it might have been with my dog)

The last big thing I've learned is how to use the power of the Atonement. I definitely still don't feel like I am a pro at that. I still have growing to do. I still have work to do. I have many questions to be answered, and I know there will be times in the future when I will feel like I have absolutely no clue and will have to start learning the Atonement over. But I've used the Atonement in so many ways. The Savior has helped me with my physical pain. He has helped me with my emotional pain. When Jack has had relapses (because, of course, that is still happening in the background of my other life at school), I've felt overpowering peace. He has helped me choose to be happy. He has been by my side. He has helped me see the divine nature of each of my students. He has helped me feel love. He has helped me want to serve Him. He has helped me learn, even when I only have five to ten minutes to study my scriptures.

He is amazing.

Oh yeah, I've actually learned another thing. There is still good in the world. Even though we are fighting some serious battles with Satan, there is still good. I sometimes forget that. But I was more than reminded of that when I read two classes' responses to the question, "If you could make any difference in the world, what would you do and why?" They had some amazing, moving responses.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Phone Meeting


Tonight my family support group is having a phone meeting! If you're interested, email me for details!

It's from 7-8 central time.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Carried Through Weak and Powerless

Today I woke up feeling weak and powerless. I've been so incredibly emotional the past few days.

The couch thing didn't turn out bad. Like I said in my last post, it made him think and realize the severity of the situation. Yesterday morning, he climbed into bed with me when my alarm went off, and we kind of clung to one another for a few minutes before we got up to go swim. 

After we swam, we went to my school where we spent seven hours doing stuff in my classroom (he is a trooper!). We had fun, and Jack did some incredible service for me. I couldn't be ready for school to start tomorrow if it hadn't been for him. 

After our long day at work, we went out to dinner. While there, Jack decided he wanted to see a movie. The problem is, by that time, it was kind of late and the only movies playing were high in sexual content or language. I really wanted to see a late show with him because he was so excited about going out to a movie. After looking up different movies to see why they were rated what they were rated and reading the descriptions, I told him I didn't think I could go see anything. In my opinion, most of the movies out right now are crap. Movies could be so much better without that one scene or that one word (and by that one word, I literally mean that one word--that really bad one that is suddenly okay to have more than once in PG-13 movies). We like watching  movies together, but lately, we've found ourselves watching Everybody Loves Raymond re-runs quite often. Seriously. [Today, he said he should change his name to Frank on the blog so we could be Frank and Marie. I suggested that originally, and he shot it down. He is in denial about the fact that he would shut something down that is so genius. But in reality, I wouldn't want to be Frank and Marie anyway. I don't really admire their relationship--I just think it's funny.] 

Anyway, we decided not to go out to a movie... and then the depression hit. With the crazy-busy day winding down and the realization that most of the movies out are ones we are probably not going to see, everything from the past few days caught up to us. First he got depressed. I'm not entirely sure what happened. I think he had been stifling it all day and then it just came out. After his depression came out, then came mine. I went to read my scriptures, but he didn't want to read his. That's a red flag for me, and it got my cycle to rolling. 

I started swimming in depression. Or drowning. I read in the Lorenzo Snow book about the Atonement, and it was really good. But then I fell asleep thinking--worrying and fearful. And here is the heart of my depressed state: I was afraid that his depression would beat him this time. I was afraid that he will give up and choose to live in his addiction. I faced the fear that he will give up on us and me. There is a downward spiral here that I don't want to finish writing about because I'm ashamed of it. I'm afraid of it. I still faced those fears this morning (even now if I choose to dwell there, which I will not choose because I am going to win this battle). I felt like I was drowning in my pain, and I know without a doubt I have been carried through this day.

We watched Return to Me last night. I bawled the whole time. When I watch movies like that, it's hard for me to not put myself in the characters' positions. I was already emotional, and that made the emotions hit me worse. 

I woke up still feeling in a funk. Like I said in the beginning: weak and powerless. However, this day has shown me so many blessings. Christ is very literally holding me up today. I know I'm not carrying myself. I first felt His lifting me up on the way to church when we listened to the songs "Emma" and "One Who Understands." 

I in no way compare my pain to Emma's, but I love this song because it does describe my pain almost perfectly. The situations are different, but I can totally feel this song. The video kind of takes away from how it relates to me because like I said, our situations are totally different. But I hope you get what I'm saying about how I can feel the song. You can listen to it for me, and then watch the video for her if you want.

"One Who Understands" is also one of my favorites. This song is from the Nashville Tribute to the Pioneers (Trek) CD. The power of the Atonement as described in this song, along with the pain, really hits home for me. One of my favorite lines is the part where she feel so helpless she wants to scream. Yes, been there. "Savior, the world was on your shoulders. For every drop of pain that fell in my name, I'm forever thankful...When I think no one could know, when no one else could know, when I think no one could know, I remember One who understands."

These are both in my recovery playlist. They bring me relief and comfort. They were among the songs that came on the other day while I was driving to work (tender mercy). 

I'm experiencing many tender mercies today--from these songs playing on the way to church, to the time I took to write during sacrament meeting, to the lyrics to the sacrament hymn, to the joy I felt teaching Sunday School to my kids, to the lesson we had in Relief Society ("Lord, I Believe" from General Conference). I know I'm being carried, and for that I'm so grateful. I know that all the fear I feel/have felt is from Satan, and I'm trying to battle it. I'm trying to cling to my Savior and let Him lift me up.

Today started out rocky. It's going well, though. This is one of those times I talked about in my Scaffolding post where God is holding me up so I don't fall down, but I know soon I will have the strength I need to do this on my own, and He will lift me up again when I face harder challenges. He is always there. Always.

"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."--Mark 9:23

And sometimes it's okay to drown your sorrows in fresh cookies :D

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Couch: A First for Us

Today has weighed heavily on me. I'm grateful for the strength I have been given through Christ. Without Him, tonight would be much different.

All day I've soul-searched. Yes, I've been at school. Yes, I have tons to do. But I have focused on the issue-at-hand as much as possible. After all, my relationship with my husband is of utmost importance. Processing the recent relapses are the most important thing I could have done with my day.


I've asked myself a lot of questions today. 

Am I too nice? Does my love and forgiveness help or enable him?

What should my expectations be? Is it too much to expect that he keep his covenants? Should I lower my expectations so I don't get hurt?

How do I make my expectations clear and throw out the money-changers without slipping into codependency?

I've learned a lot about myself as I've processed these questions. I've prayed. Oh man, have I prayed. I've pondered. I've found strength. I've seen the power I possess through Christ. It's been really really good for me.

I am a very loving and forgiving person when it comes to the addiction stuff. Thank you to my recovery journey for that. I am no longer the angry woman I once was. 

Usually when the relapses come, I stand strong and supportive because he gets depressed. I know he feels terrible, and it just feels so wrong to act in anger or harshness towards him. I don't want to hurt him more. However, when I got the text today saying he had done it again, I knew I had to be more harsh than normal. I could feel it coursing through me. Except I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to do anything that would seem angry or codependent. The strongest thought I had was of changing internet passwords for both our accounts so he can only access it when I'm there, which would enforce the internet boundaries we had set. There are ways around that, though, and I know if he really wanted porn, he would find it. However, even though I am wanting to be controlling for him, not for me, that still seemed like a codependent move. 

Eventually I came to the decision that he would be sleeping on the couch tonight. It was not an easy thing to do. In fact, I cried when I told him. I've never kicked him to the couch. That just seems so mean. But there's a first for everything, right?

Here are the reasons why I chose this course of action:

1) It's a boundary. It's not a codependent response to his actions--it's a consequence of his actions. He broke our boundaries. Boundaries can't be enforced if there is no consequence. This seemed like the least codependent response to enforce the boundary.

2) It shows that this is serious, and it's a statement of the lack of covenant-keeping and trust in our marriage right now. [Actually, there is a degree of trust because I trust his honesty. The lack of trust comes with the trust a husband has over protecting his wife. My emotional and intimate protection and safety is not currently trusted in his keeping. Because he has not been faithful in keeping covenants, which has emotional and intimate consequences.]

3) Sleeping together is something trusting, married couples who keep their covenants do. We do not fall into that category today, and thus, the privilege of sleeping together tonight has been removed.

As I told him all this, I tried to let him know that this is not an angry response. This is a loving response. I want him to understand the seriousness of his actions, and I couldn't think of any better way to do that than this. I don't want to control him. I just want him to take the consequences of his actions seriously. It had the desired effect. He sat and thought for a long while. When I asked him what was going on in his head, he said that it had done exactly what I needed it to: he was taking this way more seriously. I was actually afraid to move for a while, that is, until he basically told me I could go away so he could think alone. 

The beautiful thing about this is I feel healthy. I'm not angry. I'm actually hurting that he is not by my side right now and that I am sleeping alone (I HATE sleeping alone). But I feel strong. I feel empowered by my ability to think this through and enforce this consequence that I felt like needed to be in place. I feel good about my processing today. It truly has been for him. My motivation for all my processing and pondering has been to find something that will work for him. 

Now, as for my question I asked about expectations. I don't think it's fair to either of us to lower my expectations. He is my husband. I expect that he acts like it. I expect that he holds the covenants he has made with me in the highest esteem. I expect that he treats sex with respect and dignity. I expect that I'm the only woman he desires. I expect that he is the priesthood leader he is supposed to be. I expect that he works on developing a stronger relationship with God. I will not lower my expectations for him. BUT I do know that he won't meet my expectations all the time. At this point in the addiction, that is just not realistic. So, I'm figuring out how to use the Atonement. There is disappointment and sorrow that comes with unmet expectations. And Christ has felt that for me. He will be there by my side when I cry. He will be there when I hurt. He will lift me up and give me strength. He will help bridge the gap when my expectations go unmet. 

I feel good. I hope Jack is in the other room discovering the Atonement again too.

The sad part of this? We went on a really fun date tonight. :/ So, I almost chickened out of enforcing this. I almost felt too bad, or like we had too much fun and the relapse and my processing should just be forgotten about. I'm good at pushing the emotions from the relapse back [until I crash and burn and it all hits me a few days later]. After our date, and after some silence in the car, I asked him if we could talk about the addiction. I felt bad. But I think it was the right thing. 

Copendency and Relapses

I love daisies. They are my favorite flower.

This week I've been working on decreasing my codependency. I've realized that as much as I hate to admit it, I'm still struggling with that. It's not so much me hounding his every move, checking his phone, and creating passwords so he can only access the internet when I let him. It's more along the lines of I have attachment and security issues. They stem from failed relationships in my past along with the addiction problems.

My codependency is like this: we need to spend as much time together as we can. I'm kind of clingy and needy.  I mean, he is my husband, and I love him. I obviously want to spend lots of time with him. Plus, because of our problems from the addiction, I want to spend even more time with him because that's part of how I feel safe. Because I have attachment problems, it's sometimes hard for me to let go of him. It's like when a child has attachment issues with their parent, when their "secure base", the parent, is out of sight, the child can't function properly. I stress out when I can't spend the time with him that I think I need. It kind of drives him crazy sometimes but he is a good sport with my neediness. 

One character trait I am working on developing is the ability to just do our thing and be supportive. I don't like feeling so needy. For example, I really look up to the wives of general authorities. They are so selfless. They seem like they have such good relationships, and yet they probably don't get tons of time together. I want that. I want to be able to still feel solid in my relationship even if we are extremely busy. I want to be able to be supportive of where life takes the both of us and still feel totally in love and all that supportive wife stuff. 

Last weekend, I started stressing about the things coming up: mainly school starting. I have a lot of responsibiliies, both in regards to school and in regards to other things in my life. I'm afraid we won't get much time together. Let's be honest: we won't have much time together. Rather than allowing myself to get stressed and nonfunctional about it, I decided to put my brave face on and accept that we will both be busy. We will both be busy. And that is okay. Things are going to get really hard. And that is okay. I realized I have to have a change in attitude and perspective. So, I decided to take life head-on and just know it's okay. I didn't know I could make that decision. I didn't know I had it in me, but I do. Every time things have gotten busy and I've started dwelling on the things I think I don't have time for, namely the time I want to spend talking to Jack, I just remind myself it's okay. We didn't have much time to talk about our days today? That's okay--I'll tell him the important stuff tomorrow. I have been crazy busy this week with professional development and housekeeping stuff for school, but things have been pretty awesome overall, and it feels good to know that I made the decision that eveyrthing will be okay.
I've been really happy this week. I've learned tons at my professional development sessions and collaboration. I feel so excited and so ready for school to start. My change of attitude has been helpful, and I really can't wait for all the craziness to start on Monday! 

Last night, I was expressing my happiness, excitement, and all that to Jack. It's really been an amazing week. As I was pouring out my heart (it was the first time we had really sat down and talked all week), he let the bomb drop.

"Marie, I have to tell you something. It's bad." 

Multiple relapses this week. He had almost a month of sobriety going for him, and this week it came back. Yesterday was the worst day. He made the choice. He didn't even deny it or blame it on the addiction. When I asked what happened, he said, "I chose to do it."

What do you do? Does it happen that way for anyone else? That's how it happens quite often with me. I'm finally getting a hold on the peace and feeling good. I'm trusting again. I'm feeling happy. And then BAM! I find out things aren't as good as they seem.

I kept my cool, though. I was even supportive. I found the good in the situation and told him I was proud of those things (I really don't like being negative. I'm big on positive reinforcement). We kept talking. Went to sleep. I woke up and went to work. 

On my way to work, I pondered and prayed. I was listening to my recovery playlist, and I was strengthened by the messages of the songs I chose to put on that playlist. Through all of my pondering this morning, I asked myself, how do I pass over this burden? I don't want to deal with it. I don't want to feel depressed. But I don't want to ignore it. I can't deal with this right now. I have too much to do for school. I worry about him. I'm worried it will happen again today. I'm worried he will get depressed. I had all these thoughts swirling through my mind, and I didn't know how to let go. And then all of the sudden, this visual came to me of me just taking off my bags and literally handing them over to Christ. I've heard of that before, but whenever I try to visualize it, it doesn't work. It has never worked for me until this morning, and I physically felt myself hand it all over and Him taking it from me. It was amazing. And I felt peace and calm.

I've been writing this post on and off at school during my spare free minutes (during breaks when people are just chatting and we are waiting on the next thing). That peace and calm has stayed with me. Even when Jack texted me saying he did it again. Today was the same as yesterday. 

I feel strength. I know that I am strong. All I said to him in response is "We are going to have to defer back to throwing out the money-changers. Let's talk about it later." I don't know what I'll do. I'll definitely set boundaries, but I don't know what they will be. I don't know how much I should take control, either. If you remember that post, I talked about taking more control in a loving way, rather than codependent. I'm praying to find that line so I can do what I need to do out of love and not get caught in codependency.

So, I guess there will be an update after I figure this all out. Sorry if this seems choppy at all. Like I said, I've been writing it on and off at school all day.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Okay, I don't know for sure where this post is going. Another writing for therapy post (kind of). I have lots I want to write about, but I barely have time to think, let alone write and think and make sure this is all clear.

I made a goal on Sunday to feel close to God and increase my relationship with Him. I kept praying that He would help me increase my desire for a clearer understanding of my relationship with Him. I prayed that He would help me so I wouldn't give up. 

I was blessed. I was incredibly blessed on Sunday to feel peace from the craziness surrounding me. I felt a ray of hope that I am not alone despite how alone and neglected by God I feel (was feeling). During the sacrament, I related this trial of feeling alone to scaffolding. Scaffolding is a term used in education that basically means you give the student help and support for the things they don't know (like scaffolding on a building so they don't fall over), but for the things they do know and understand well, you remove your help when it is no longer needed. Then you provide scaffolding for harder concepts, and remove it again when it is no longer needed. And the cycle of scaffolding continues to increase learning. If that makes sense. In the sense of the trials I've been facing lately, especially feeling alone, I realized that God has always been there, not just there but right there by my side holding me up when I absolutely need Him to be. When I've "mastered" a concept, He has removed his scaffolding holding me up a little bit to see if I am strong enough on my own.

I think that's what happened last week. Despite my determination to have a fresh start after my last post, I didn't. I pretty much finished that post feeling high and powerful over my day, and then something happened that made me feel like crap again. I prayed and prayed and still felt my faith wavering a little. I felt like my tears and freaking out should have been enough for any little sign that God was watching over me. I prayed that He would send someone just to text me and say "Hey I'm thinking about you today" to know I was cared for. Nothing. Not a single thing happened to show me He was there (although in reality, plenty of things show me His presence every single day, but when you are clouded in darkness it's hard to see). I wanted to be angry, but I knew that was bad ground to tread, so I just felt miserable.

I kept holding on, though. I held on and kept praying. I prayed earnestly. I kept my eyes open for Him. And, He did grant me relief. At church. In the hymns. In the peace I felt. In the fact that I got to lead the music in sacrament and play the piano in Relief Society. In the talks I read during the sacrament. In the little things that answered questions and prayers I'd had recently.

I realized that these things were indeed, "but a small moment." I gained perspective. And I was reminded that I can't expect growth without trial. I can't be the person I want to be if I'm not given hard things to help me grow. I saw that God had been holding me up, but then He removed Himself from me a little bit to let me see what I can do and what kind of faith I have on my own.

I turned my will over to God. Again. I find that I keep having to do that on a regular basis. I was reminded that I do have a lot of built up stress, especially with school so close (and boy-howdy, I have to daily turn myself over to God so I don't have a panic attack that school starts next week. Every day I'm getting more ready--with His help. When in reality half the time I just want to cry about it.). 

Confession:I have a hard time dealing with stress. I have a hard time dealing with change. I have a hard time dealing with hard things. Surprised? Probably not. I tend to deny those traits about myself. Like how one time, I got a haircut that was a dramatic change. I almost cried, and my father-in-law said, "Well, you've never been one for change." I was mad. But he was right. I was just mad that my weakness was so obvious.

Right now, I think it's because I'm just feeling so exhausted with hard things. But when I remember that hard things are the price I pay for greatness, I feel empowered. And when I remember that Christ has felt all this and more, that He paved the way for me, I feel empowered. I have the knowledge. I have the faith. Do I have the faith to enjoy, not endure but enjoy, to the end? Yes I do. 

I have to face reality, and the sooner the better. 

Reality: Life is hard. Being a school-teacher is hard. Being a high-school-teacher when you are not that much older than the students is hard. Trials are hard. Financial burden is hard. Addiction is hard. Marriage is hard. Foot issues and back problems make teaching harder. Teaching Sunday School is kind of hard. Being a perfectionist is hard (I really need to loosen up). Being stressed about the fact that I'm so easily stressed out is hard. Relying on God sounds simple enough--but it's hard. My reality is that life is hard. And that is okay, because it is supposed to be hard. How else would we gain the knowledge and talents we need to return to our Father? 

I know I am where I need to be. I am supposed to be teaching high school at the school I'm at. I'm supposed to help advance technology and lead the older teachers to see the vision of paperlessness (that is hard, but I'm getting there). I'm supposed to be a leader and role model for these students. I'm supposed to be married to my man. We are supposed to live where we are. I'm supposed to depend on God. 

Things are hard, but I know for sure that I'm in the right place and doing the right things. 

My goal for myself (which I have been working on this week) is not to get down when things are hard. I will face my fears and hardships with my brave face on. I will not get discouraged when I think I can't do something. Instead, I will pray for strength. And eat cookies if that helps do the trick. I will accept that things are hard, and life is hard. And I will tackle the hard things like they don't even phase me.

PS, my Relief Society president made the most beautiful and heart-warming announcement about addiction recovery and the Togetherness Project on Sunday. It seriously made me so happy and fuzzy inside.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A new day, a fresh start!

After I wrote my post a couple nights ago, I started crying. Uncontrollably. Mostly because of the itching. Well, it was more than just itching. My legs felt like they were on fire, and the rash seemed like acid burning into my skin. I couldn't handle it.

I asked Jack to give me a blessing. It was all I knew to do because my prayers didn't seem to be working. I don't even know what I expected because, in my eyes, it was obviously not part of The Plan for the nasty itching to go away. I got to the point where I just knew I needed to rely on some source of communication with God, so I asked for a blessing.

A few things stood out to me. First of all, I was not blessed to be healed (not a shock at all. I've never been blessed to be healed), but instead was blessed to have the strength I needed to bear it all night and the next day until I could seek medical attention. That was actually a huge relief because the night before I had barely gotten any sleep because of the rash. And I couldn't see a doctor until after my Professional Development session at school the next day. I was told to rely on Christ. I was also told that many of my physical trials are a result of my stress. And then I was told I have the power and capacity to do all that is necessary for school this coming school-year. If I get overwhelmed, I am to turn it over to Christ and keep pressing on.

I know priesthood blessings are supposed to be full of light, and in many ways this was, but afterwords, I felt overpowered with darkness. I saw the blessings, but I saw so much more negative. Which goes to show that I haven't been in the best frame of mind this week.

First, let me say that being blessed with strength is beautiful. What better way to grow than to be blessed with the strength to bear something. If the trial was removed instantly, there would be no growth. Now, that being said, I don't always have that clear of thinking in the moment of trial.

The main reasons I became depressed were because I read into it too much, and thus became way too hard on myself. I was told to turn to Christ, and I was told that my physical trials are a result of my stress. I've been working so hard to turn my life over to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I've been working just as hard to release and manage my stressors in positive and appropriate ways. I've been trying to turn them over to Christ. I've been trying to take one day at a time. I've been using positive self-talk. I've been taking the time to meditate. I've been trusting that I will be taken care of. Granted, this week has been tough, and I haven't done my absolute best. And that is why I took it so hard. I thought well, I've been working so hard but hit a slump this week. Obviously, God expects my best and is not okay with my slump. He is punishing me with this awful rash to show me that I'm not trusting Him enough or managing my stress as well as I thought. He isn't cutting me any slack. I can't go on. I just can't. I felt like all my efforts were in complete and utter vain.

I cried for a long while. Those thoughts, by themselves, are depressing enough. So, combined with my other depressing thoughts, I was out of control.

All I can say now is that I feel pretty good. I feel blessed. The itching didn't drive me crazy at PD yesterday. We even ended early, and I got time to work in my classroom a little bit. I went to the doctor yesterday afternoon. Between the prescribed steroid cortisone cream and the Benadryl, the itching is at a minimum, and I slept soooooo beautifully last night.

I'm still a little worried [stressed, ironically enough] about the fact that I'm not managing my stress well. I thought I was. And it stresses me out that I have to figure out something new. I'm trying not to be stressed. School starts in one week from Monday. All the sudden, I feel like I am totally not ready at all. But I'll be okay. I just have to turn to God, and I know He will help me.

The stupid thing is that I kind of don't want to. I'm falling back into my stubborn self where I don't want help. I want to do it on my own. I don't want to do it His way because then I get back injuries, foot problems, and rashes on my legs. Not to mention the addiction stuff.  I want Him to cut me some slack. I want things to just be really good for a season.

And then I feel ungrateful and selfish because I know I'm blessed. Things are really good overall. I'm so excited for school to start! The closer it gets, the more excited I feel. The addiction is going well, and Jack was even recently called to the Sunday School presidency, which is a sign to me that God trusts him, so I'm trying to trust him more too. The itching has significantly gone down, and I was recently "released" from my back issues: I still go in for maintenance check-ups, but I could run and jump and dance if I wanted too! [However, I don't because of my feet, and that's another story.]

I'm too stubborn to repent for the way I have been acting towards God. It's so dumb. I will, though. I'm praying for a softer heart and perspective.

Today is a new day. I'm not going to give up or stay depressed because of all this stuff I just wrote about. I'm going to pray for peace and light. I'm going to keep Satan and his demons away from me. And I'm going to figure out how to live the way God wants me too. I'll call on my angels to help me.

A new day is a fresh start. Every day.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Writing for therapy


It feels like it's been 1,000 years since I've been on this thing. I just [kind of, almost] caught up on many others' posts I've been wanting to read but not found the time until right now. I've had a lot of things I've been wanting to write about too, but I've been so busy all week. Except for today. Today, I've just been approaching Depression.

I don't even know what I'm about to write. I just knew I needed to write. And write. And write until I feel better. I'm writing for my sanity--for therapy.

I woke up angry. I don't wake up angry that often, but I did today. The main reason is because I got some awful bug bites last week. The only anti-itch stuff I could find was some junk my mom gave me, and I had an allergic reaction to it. Thus, my itching was extreme with a crazy rash all over and around my bug bites. It's not going away. It's just itching like crazy and I want to chop my legs off. I've prayed and prayed, and still no relief. Actually, I guess I did find some anti-itch stuff in our toiletries box out in the garage on a sudden inspiration, but that was like two days after my initial prayer for itch-relief (it only works for about ten minutes, but I'll take that ten minutes of itch-relief). So, I guess that is a small testament to the fact that God hears but answers prayers in His timing. Anyway, I was angry this morning because I barely slept due to the continuous itching that kept waking me up. I couldn't sleep under the blankets because the heat made it itch worse, but then I would get really cold and wake up freezing.If I rolled over in my sleep, I woke up because of the irritation of the bed against my skin.

So I woke up angry [tired]. And late. We had no running water [that's a lie. it trickled out just barely. I didn't shower, though, because I was already late, and I was not about to spend 45 minutes in the shower]. There was a crazy storm last night that caused some major damage and flooding. There was a lot of backed up traffic and accidents on the way to the Professional Development I was going to be late for. I drove on some scary roads. Then I got there, and it was cancelled because the flooding was supposed to get worse. I listened to relaxing classical and Jon Schmidt music on the drive, which calmed me, and I saw the cancellation for what it was: a tender mercy. Because not only did I have a free day, but I was able to meet and trade cars with my husband, who was driving our car that seems to be on its last leg to work because I freaked out about its issues yesterday and refused to drive it today. I got to take it in to get looked at today, and that was a blessing. The fact that we should have money to make the necessary repairs is a blessing.

The anger and depression floated in and out today. I kind of freaked out about the guy I talked to at the car shop (he might not really be stupid, but he sure acted like it). But I got over it. I was going to blog this afternoon, but I fell asleep instead. I went to my chiropractor appointment feeling okay. I went swimming right after. My mom dropped me off at the fitness center [because our car is still in the shop]. The plan was to swim and then read my Ensign while waiting for Jack to pick me up on his way home from work. Don't worry. If you're thinking that's gross because I have a rash, it's not contagious. The cold water provided a little relief, and I was hoping the chlorine would kill the rash somehow.

I changed my clothes to swim and discovered I forgot my goggles. Horrific surge of anger. Then I decided to tough it out and swim without goggles. My eyes burned. And for some reason, my body was against swimming today. I kept choking on water and not being able to breathe [I seriously don't know why]. But I managed. I swam 150 meters short of a mile and decided that last little bit was so not worth it.

I skipped group today. I was feeling on the verge of exploding, and decided I needed personal time. To think. To write. To process.

I need to write about a trigger [trigger warning!]. I can't get it out of my head. It happened two nights ago. I wanted to write about it because I felt scarred, but I really had no time to write.

We came home from swimming on Tuesday pretty late in the evening. My mom was watching some law show on TV. While Jack and I made our dinner, I saw enough of the show to be intrigued. I used to be really into mystery novels and cop/law shows until I realized I did not have the stomach for the stories. Most of them have something to do with some type of sexual assault, and, you know, with this addiction in my life, I completely can't handle anything related to sexual assault. Not to mention the fact that my tolerance for anything sex-related in media has dramatically decreased (along with violence and language). Anyway, this story was about a girl who was in a coma because she had tried to commit suicide, and she had a school-teacher who had been killed. For some reason, that sounded like it could be interesting, so I sat down to watch it for a little bit. Turns out the teacher was one who traded sexual favors for good grades. This girl wouldn't give in to him, so he, through cyber-bullying, made her out to be a slut and ruined her chances of going to college because of the grade he gave her in his class. She tried to commit suicide because she was so embarrassed. There was a part of the show that, to me, was really graphic, showing the nasty teacher trying to get his way with other students. I. could. not. handle. it. I almost started crying. I wanted to get up and scream and turn the TV off. Instead, I quietly got up, said "This is disgusting," and resumed making dinner, trying to ignore the rest of the show. It triggered me majorly. I also kept thinking of my addict husband, who was in the room hearing/seeing (unless he was ignoring) the graphics on the show. I kept hoping he was ignoring and choosing good thoughts to block it out.

Ever since that incident, I have felt out of whack. I can't think straight. Not only did it scar me as a WoPA, but it scarred me as a teacher. I had a hard time at my teacher training yesterday, and every time I looked at my fellow [male] teachers, my stomach tightened. I felt like I could trust no one.

I've carried this trigger, unsuccessfully ridding myself of it, for two whole days. It's bringing me down, people! I feel like I'm going crazy. And the more crazy and triggery I feel, the more worthless I feel. I'm fighting it, though. I am so fighting this!

I hate triggers.I hate the feelings associated. I hate the disgust I feel. I hate the fact that I can't get the sick images out of my head. I hate triggers.

On a better note, I had the blessed experience to disclose all the important stuff about my WoPA-ness to our new Relief Society president. I have never done that before. Just telling my friend a few weeks ago was a huge thing for me. I told the R.S. president for a few reasons. First, because I felt really strongly that I should. I really want to be an advocate for this stuff, but I recognize that it's not appropriate for me to be public if my husband isn't ready for that. So I'm an anonymous advocate. I talked to my R.S. president so she could understand how passionate I am about the Togetherness Project (she is going to announce it and put a flyer in the R.S binders) and the LDS Addiction Recovery meetings our stake holds. She is going to announce those and the new phone meeting too. It was so refreshing and nice to talk to her. And the understands! I'm excited to have her validation and open arms when I need her. Yay!

This is kind of a weird post. I just really needed some serious writing time. If you made it to the bottom of this crazy post, congratulations! You're awesome! :D Say some prayers for me? So I can have peace? And itch-relief?

*sigh* my legs itch real bad. I can't handle it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Grace, Light, Love--Gifts from the Love Dare


It's been a while since I wrote a post just about the Love Dare. I've had a lot of things I want to share about the Love Dare forming in my mind, but I either haven't had time, or I've had other little things come up that I felt were more important on certain days. Today, I am writing about the Love Dare! I've done some reflection and introspection in my personal journals, but I'm excited to finally think and reflect in more depth, and I'm especially excited to share my learning and findings thus far with y'all!

I'm on day 32 of the Dare. If you look back at the date that I started, you will notice that it has been more than 40 days. The reason is because the Love Dare is hefty. I've had days where I physically could not do it. Some days were because of time issues--I didn't have time to study it out and make a real, dedicated effort to living the Dare. More than those types of days, however, were days that my wife-of-an-addict mind just couldn't muster up the love to attack the dare for the day. Some days, I felt like a failure because of that. I felt like a failure as a wife and as a lover because I couldn't gather enough love to do simple things like forgive, not be negative, fight fair, and the likes. Some days I felt like a failure because I forgot about the dare for the day, so I would have to re-do it the next day.  It's been a tough road to walk. But it's also been an amazingly beautiful road.

If you remember (or if you are new to this blog and haven't read my original Love Dare post), I started the Love Dare as what I feel was personal revelation, an answer to a prayer, about how to make "Restitution and Reconciliation" for the wrongs I have committed in our relationship. Even though I'm on step 9 and have made light-years of progress in my WoPA recovery, I still wrong him. That was evident as I went through my inventory, confession, humbling, and seeking forgiveness steps. I'm not perfect. I do things that bring us both down. Sometimes I'm really impatient, which is sometimes very damaging in our relationship. My worst attribute, though, is my selfishness. I've become very selfish as I've basically come to expect him to cater to my every need because of his selfishness. Over times, I've created expectations for him to make up for what he has done. I realized it's really not fair to him. Maybe if he had physically cheated on me rather than lustfully cheating on me, or maybe if he was not in working recovery, I would feel justified in my selfishness and make him my slave (does anyone else feel like doing that? maybe it's just me). However, he has done neither of those things. He is an addict in working recovery. He is my best friend. I chose him. It's been a rough road, but I chose to stay with him. And, through some soul-searching and recognizing those choices I've made and the choices I have in front of me, I realized that I really needed to step up my game.

Even though our move out of Utah has been really amazing for both of our recoveries and our relationship and healing as a couple, we still have trials and hard things that take a toll on our marriage relationship. We are living with my parents, which has an impact on our relationship. We are having problems getting pregnant, which is a huge trial that has an impact on our emotional and physical relationships. I have physical health issues, which is another big trial that carries emotional baggage. And then there is the addiction. Sometimes, I find myself closing off from everyone around me. I feel like alone will somehow make me safe (but, I have been clinging more to God and Christ through it all, so that's good). Despite our growth, I found myself withdrawing from everyone around me, while feeling depressed that I wasn't feeling any love from anyone. The worst part was when I thought to myself, "I don't know if I love Jack anymore."

When I got to step 9, the relationship I felt like needed the most healing was my relationship with Jack. I had been very selfish. I had done and said lots of things he didn't deserve. And I also knew that my loss-of-love feelings were more because of me than him. So, he became my target for restitution and reconciliation. I didn't know where to begin. The things I needed to work on were things I had already been working on as character weaknesses in the previous steps. I felt at such a loss as to where to turn for this.

The answer to my prayers was to do the Love Dare, and it was the perfect answer for me.

Hard days in the dare are to be expected when you are trying to increase the love for someone who has hurt you so badly. When I was faced with my first really hard day, I had to turn it over to God and ask for His strength to keep on going. He has given me that strength every time I've asked for it (or given me the feeling of peace that it's okay to just not do the dare for the day and try to do it tomorrow instead). At first, the whole thing was really exciting and I felt a dramatic increase of happiness in myself and my relationship with Jack. But then things started feeling old and tired because I felt like I was making all this effort and he wasn't, and it just wasn't fair. Those were kind of hard feelings to sort through, and it really helped when I got to the dare day about unconditional love.

One day that was really hard was asking him three things that make him irritated with me, without being defensive, and trying to work on making those things better. I didn't enjoy hearing that things irritate him about me (even though I knew there would be things, and the things were exactly what I predicted he would say)! I want to be the perfect spouse and let him be the irritating one! It helped me see that I do need to care about his feelings and do what I can to make things better for us.

The Dare has taught me a lot. I learned a lot about myself, such as why I get irritable. People usually get irritable for two reasons: stress and selfishness. When I thought about it, I realized that, yes, those are the main reasons I get irritable. I made a list of stressors, and that helped me recognize and get over the things that irritated me that day (the dare that day was to react to tough circumstances in loving ways rather than irritable ways).

I learned to cherish him and delight in our relationship more.

I learned that it's okay if he wins or I don't get my way all the time.

We set rules for "fighting fair." Sometimes we forget those rules, but they have been helpful.

I learned to honor him and treat our relationship as more holy.

I've learned to pray for him and us more.

I've learned to choose to love.

I've learned to be more forgiving and patient.

I've learned to live by encouragement, rather than expectations. And I've learned that where Jack doesn't meet my expectations, God can make up the difference.

I've learned to sacrifice more.

I've learned that my motivation to love comes from God and that I really can only love if I have His love in my heart.

I've learned to cleave to Jack more.

I've learned and understood the holiness of sexual needs and intimacy in marriage. I've learned to balance that aspect of our marriage better.

In reflecting back on the whole thing so far, I realized that the spiritual aspect is the part I actually have down pretty well. Of course, I'm learning new things and gaining new perspectives. But, what I struggled with most were the beginning steps: things like not being negative and going out of my way to be kind and do simple acts of kindness to show love and appreciation. Maybe the more recent dares have been easier because they are building off one another, but I do keep finding that it's those little simple things that I don't do very well and need to improve on. Those little things are what help soften both of our hearts.

One thing that has been amazing is the softening of both of our hearts. He has seen and recognized what I'm doing. It's making him more joyful, and over time, he has started acting and speaking with more love too. We have much better communication. We are both more humble and patient with one another. We both listen to each other better. And we both want to be around each other more. The Love Dare has done exactly what I needed: increased our love.

Another thing that has been amazing is how I have seen parallels between the Love Dare and what I've learned through the 12 steps and other things I have studied to increase my healing and relationship with Christ  The things I've strengthened are the character weaknesses I've been working on. It's just been a new perspective and fresh learning.

I know that this wouldn't work for everyone. I definitely couldn't have done this a year ago because of where I was in my recovery. It would have been way too hard. It was really good for me right now, though. The Lord knew it was what I needed. I'm grateful for my relationship with Him and the ability we have to receive revelation for ourselves.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A cause to fight for!

I'm getting into the war chapters in my personal study in Alma, and as I read, I find myself constantly relating that war to my war. I'm in a war against Satan. He is trying to destroy my land, my house, and my family. He is trying to destroy my rights and privileges, my liberty, and my agency (see Alma 43:9). He wants me to use my agency the wrong way. He wants me to be lost in darkness. He wants me to lose my rights and privileges as a daughter of God.

I don't want him to win.

This is a war I've been a part of since birth (before birth). The battles have gotten heavier in the past few years. Sometimes, I have days that I feel like Satan is beating me down. He will never win, though. Not if I fortify myself. My fortifications consist of prayer, scripture/gospel study, and meditation (along with spending time doing other things important to me and giving service).

Some days, he plants thoughts that make me question why I'm even doing the 12 steps. Or right now, why am I doing the Love Dare? He is the one who has done the serious wrongs. He is the one who needs the serious recovery. He should be love dare-ing me.

Lies. Lies lies lies! Satan wants me to think I'm not important. He wants me to think I have no role in this. He wants me to think that my healing doesn't matter, that I don't need healing because I haven't done anything wrong. We've gotten past the part where he wanted me to think this had everything to do with me: everything to do with my failures as a woman and as a wife. Now, he wants me to think this has nothing to do with. And nothing I can do will help. Nothing I can do will save our marriage. He wants me to think there is no hope. LIES! I'm important. My healing is important. And how I act has a huge impact on our marriage and the love and commitment level for us both. And there IS hope. With Christ, there is always hope.

The 12-step program is amazing. Without it guiding me to Christ, I would probably still not know how to manage my anger. I would probably still lash out irrationally. I wouldn't forgive. I would get sucked into the darkness and only see all the bad things going on in my life. Peace? It would be nonexistent.

The addiction causes trauma on the spouse. I've learned that anger is a masking emotion for that trauma. My anger happens because of all the emotions boiling up and not having an appropriate way to release them, or even a knowledge of what is happening. All the traumatic emotions have led to anger (they still lead to anger until I can evaluate and dig deep into the issue). When I've been angry, I haven't just been angry--I've been hostile, judgmental, and irrational. Underneath the anger is sadness, confusion, feelings of betrayal, and crazy (I just decided to make crazy an emotion).

There was a time when I did not know what to do. I studied my scriptures and prayed because I had the faith that I could be made whole. Other than that, I had no clue what to do. I was angry. I was inconsiderate. I was not understanding or compassionate towards Jack. Sometimes I was angry at God...

Eventually, Jack was okay with us going to the 12-step meetings, and through those meetings and my personal studies through the book, I've figured a lot of things out.

This is all in God's hands. Really. I'm drawing closer to Him and letting Him guide me. Right now, Jack and I are doing pretty awesome. That is because we have both used our agency to stay close to the Spirit and follow promptings. I know that if Jack chose to stop recovery and stop following the Spirit, things could go sour. I feel like there is always the potential of divorce in our future if there comes the time when he quits trying (if I felt like divorce was what was necessary and received that revelation, I would follow it). I also know that NO MATTER WHAT, I will be okay if I keep doing the right things: scriptures, prayer, following the Spirit. I have the capacity to receive promptings. Doing the Love Dare was a prompting, and following that prompting has really increased the love and intimacy in our marriage. There have been other promptings I have followed that have led to positive things in our marriage, and if I hadn't followed them, we would still be stuck in the same old rut.

I used to think this addiction was just his problem. And, in some ways, it totally is. But it's a part of our marriage, and I feel like I have the responsibility to do what I can to help him, to love and support him. I'm finding a balance between taking responsibility and not being unhealthily co-dependent.

Because of what I've learned through the 12 steps, I've found ways to make my weaknesses strong(er). Where I was impatient, I've discovered the ability and strength to be patient. When my anger caused me to do not-so-good things before thinking, I've been able to see clearly, think, say a silent prayer, and have the strength of the Lord to guide me to do something more healthy. Where I used to be so focused and wrapped up in myself and my pain, I've been able to look at the bigger picture and understand a little better what he is going through and his pain.

Because of these weaknesses being strengthened, I've learned how I can take responsibility. I've learned that I can't control him, but I most certainly can control me. I've learned that if I think his bad choices warrant bad choices on my part, things go very downhill. When I exercise patience, when I show him love, when I think before irrationally acting, it does us both good. It helps him feel more safe. It softens his heart, and he is better able to meet my needs too.

I don't take responsibility in the sense that I constantly spy on him and check up on him (believe me, it's always a temptation). I take responsibility in the sense that I try to nurture the good things. I hold him accountable to his responsibilities to me as his wife and as the patriarch of our family. I am responsible for myself--my actions, my thoughts, my intents.

I've taken responsibility of me. And because of that, I am healing.

Satan doesn't want me to heal. He doesn't want me to learn and grow. The closer I get to God, the more Satan pushes. Sometimes, he even lets off and then comes on really strong when I think I feel secure. He plants tiny seeds to cause doubt: doubt in myself, doubt in my God, doubt in my husband, doubt in the gospel. He tries to flip things around in my head and make me confused and give up.

I'm getting pretty good at deciphering Satan's attempts to destroy me. I'm learning to read him.

I will not let him win. I have a cause to fight for!

"In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our [husbands], and our [future] children" (Alma 46:12).

This is my serious battle face
This is my crazed battle face :)

Image credits: 1, 2

Thursday, August 1, 2013


If you haven't read about the Togetherness Project, read about it here.

Are you going? I AM!! I booked my flight last night! It's becoming real for me, and I'm so excited!

Jacy posted flyers on her blog today. Print them! Post them! Hand them out! Let's keep spreading the word! There are so many women who need this, but they don't know about it yet!