Friday, November 29, 2013

"Why is porn bad?" Part III: My Answer

Read Part I here.

Read Part II here.

I hate pornography. I hate anything that has to do with sex being misused.

Did any of you read Matt Walsh's post about pornography? Did you read the comments? Reading the comments proved to me, not that I had any doubt, that pornography and sex-addiction are running rampant in society.

Deep breath.

So many people think pornography and masturbation are okay. So many people think it's normal and justifiable to act in these things. It's not.

Let's start with the easy part: pornography in relationships.

When you get married, you make promises. Those promises include being faithful to your spouse. You cannot be truly faithful if you are lusting after other people, whether it's through: a) seeking out pornographic images to lust after, b) viewing pornographic videos [and with that, you're not just watching--you are lusting right along with the videos], c) masturbating [which includes the sexual fantasies], or d) any other lustful actions. I repeat, you cannot be truly faithful if you are lusting after other people. If you lust after anyone else, in any shape or form, you are not being truly faithful in your mind and heart.

That lust, no matter how it is acted upon, will cause a deep harm in the relationship. There will be a breakdown of trust: both in the marriage and in oneself. It's hard enough to not trust the person you think you should trust the most, but it makes it even harder when the situation causes a lack of trust in your own judgment (for me, that happened because of my questioning of my judgment in marrying Ben).

Along with the breakdown in trust will come a loss of love, high stress and anxiety (possibly causing emotional disorders), and a serious lack of peace and harmony in the relationship.

Pornography rips relationships apart.

Sometimes, couples view pornography to help their sexual relationship. It's really not helpful. Even if it's being viewed together, there will often be a breakdown in trust. One of the people in that relationship will wonder if they are being compared to what was viewed in the porn. They will even compare themselves to the porn. They will lose confidence in their own bodies and their abilities to have a satisfying sexual relationship. Tension will form during sexual relations, and soon enough, it will be less harmonious and satisfying.

Many times, those worries or cares go unsaid. Those worries are not voiced because the person feels embarrassed or rationalizes it out of their head. But they are there, and they eat away at the victim of the worries.

You may be thinking, "Well, I'm not married. So this doesn't apply to me." Oh, but it does. If you ever want to be in a committed relationship, pornography needs to be out of the question. It doesn't even matter if you want the relationship to be long-term. There are unspoken rules of relationships, and one of those is faithfulness. If you ever want to experience real love in a trusting, committed relationship, pornography has to be out of the question. You might not think you're addicted, and you might think you can stop whenever you want. Okay, try to stop. I'll bet you won't be able to. Because of the chemical happenings in the brain while viewing pornography (read this for specific information of the brain chemistry), it is something people become addicted to. When the time comes that you need to stop (for the sake of your other half) you will have a long, grueling journey full of ups and downs ahead of you. For both of you. And it will suck.

It's possible that you're thinking, "I'm not planning on ever being in a committed relationship. This doesn't apply to me." Don't close down yet. This still applies to you.

Pornography desensitizes people to human interaction. Over time, relationships will be diminished. I'm not talking about sexual relationships. I'm talking about relationships with friends, co-workers, and family. I'm talking about any kind of relationship you might be engaged in. Pornography-land is a fantasy-land, and maybe on the outside, it seems like a great place to be. Like the lands of other addictions, pornography-land produces a euphoria, and it's desirable. The problem is, you become dependent on it because of all the chemicals, or body-produced drugs, that engage the brain. Over time, the brain and body will desire more. And more. And more. Jobs become useless. Friends have no meaning. Family doesn't measure up to what you gain with pornography. Thus, relationships are lost. And then you feel lonely and maybe you turn to your best friend who is there for you through anything--porn.

Not only does pornography harm relationships and individuals, it harms society.

Pornography teaches that people are objects.

It perpetuates the acceptance of sex myths in society--rape myths. Pornography teaches that sex is what it's all about. It doesn't matter if someone says no--keep pushing them. It doesn't matter if someone says no--they really mean yes. It teaches that if people dress certain ways, they want sex. It teaches that everyone wants rough sex, and it further instigates abuse--emotional, physical, and sexual. Porn glorifies rape and objectification.

Me just telling you this may not convince you. But maybe a couple of examples will help seal the case with this part.

Example 1: The Steubenville Rape Case. Last year, a high school girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her peers. She was too drunk to do anything about it. Other peers videotaped and photographed what was going on throughout the night at various parties she attended/was dragged to. These documentations were passed around via social media.

Example 2: Massachusetts teacher sexually assaulted and murdered by a 14-year old student. As far as I know, they don't know his motive, but have the suspicion that he may have been infatuated with this teacher.

I would argue that this type of behavior is a direct correlation and result of society's open arms to sex, and specifically, pornography. I know males are more sexually-minded than females, but I honestly can't imagine how such horrific things could happen were it not for how accepted and prominent the use of sex and pornography are in society, especially with the prevalence of hard-core pornography.

Pornography is the world's sex-ed, and it's wrong. Children these days are learning at far too young of an age what sex is--through pornography. Pornography doesn't teach about safe sex. Pornography doesn't teach about the emotional bonds that are established through sex. Pornography doesn't teach the consequences of sex. It teaches that sex is, and it is highly desirable. It teaches that you should become an object to be desired for sex, and it teaches that you should desire others for sex.

Not everything is about sex. There is so much more to life than sex. Sure, sex can be pleasant and enjoyable, but it is even more so if used properly. Sex is a way to express love and appreciation for your spouse. It is a way of creation. It is a building block of families.

When used improperly, sex destroys families. As families are destroyed, society is broken down.

Improper sex cannot produce true happiness. It may produce a euphoria or type of high, but when used improperly, sex will be harmful and ultimately break down that happiness that people are searching for.

True happiness comes from relationships of love. It comes from dependence on our Father and Jesus Christ. It is hard to maintain a relationship with Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ when you are acting in ways that push the Spirit away. Living a life of casual sex, pornography, and masturbation harm your spirit. It harms your ability to be close to Their Spirit. It will become a wall separating you from Them, and you will never find happiness without Them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Why is porn bad?" Part II: Addiction

Read Part I here.

Because sex is so accepted in our society, the addiction part is pushed away or forgotten. Many people don't care to realize it's an addiction, or they don't treat it as a "normal" addiction. The abuse and deceit is behind closed doors, and when you are in public, it's all a big happy face. It's a show, usually by both the addict and the spouse. Sex-addiction is not talked about, so we pretend it's not happening. People have told us "They are just pictures", "Masturbation is normal", "You're concerned about that? That's normal. Grow up", or "You're the one with problems, not him." So many people don't understand or have become so immune to the normality of sex that it just doesn't matter to them. My friend Shay wrote a great post about sex-addiction in comparison to alcoholism. Check it out.

The majority of society seems immune to the reality that pornography and masturbation are dangerous. Because it's so socially acceptable, people don't realize that it is an addiction, and a dangerous one at that.

How? How is pornography dangerous? It's just images. It's just videos. It's normal. It's not real cheating or real relationships. How can it be harmful?

How can masturbation be harmful? That is even less than pornography...

First, let's talk about addiction in general. Addiction includes a disability to control substance use or behavior and a preoccupation with substances or behavior. An addict is dependent on the substance or behaviors they are engaging in. The addict may experience consequences and will still continue use of their substance or behaviors. The addict may be in denial of his or her addiction.

When a person becomes addicted to something, that person becomes a dependent. That person will become so dependent on the substance or behaviors that they fail to meet obligations to real life. Family life will become shot. Job responsibilities? Gone out the door. Friendly relationships will be diminished. These consequences won't happen right away. At first, the addict might not even realize or know these things will happen to them. The addict might not know their reality is going to fall apart. But, the addict just might not care because the most important thing, the thing he/she needs is whatever addictive substance or behavior he/she is engaging in.

Addiction is not light. Because the body becomes dependent on the substance or behavior, there comes a time when the tolerance level is not enough. The body is too used to that level and craves more. Pretty soon the body requires more to achieve the desired effect.

I recently had a conversation with one of my teenage sisters about addiction. Many kids at her high school smoke weed. Right now, they don't seem to be suffering consequences, and she was questioning the morality of smoking weed. "All that happens is they experience euphoria," is what she said, followed with, "So why is it wrong?"

When people first engage in addictive behaviors, they may not experience consequences. They may see it as an escape from the problems life has dished them, or they may see it simply as a way to experience euphoria. During this first stage of developing the addiction, they may not (they probably will not) realize the damage that can come--because the real damage and consequences aren't immediate. That's basically what happened with my husband. The fantasyland in which he lived was an escape from his reality. Pornography and masturbation provided him with a safe place to land when times got tough. There were no immediate consequences. He just liked how it made him feel. Eventually, though, the tolerance level increases as the body craves more. Eventually, there can be very serious consequences.

It's easy to see the consequences in drugs like alcohol, marijuana, meth, or heroin. Those drugs cause all kinds of problems. For example, a person could experience a simple lack of concentration, but that lack of concentration could eventually lead to job loss. These drugs could cause a person to become physically violent. They could cause memory loss, and a person might not remember what their actions were while under the influence of those drugs. And as a person developed a higher tolerance and dependence on the drug, violent acts and crimes could be committed to access the drug. Families are torn apart. Friendships are lost. These are the easy effects to see.

With sex-addiction, it's not as easy to see the consequences. The consequences that happen are either very private and not talked about, or they are ignored because "sex" is our society's way of life.

Sex-addiction and sexual behaviors are harmful and dangerous. Sex is something you can become addicted to, and the consequences are very damaging to individuals, families, and society.

Read Part III here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Why is porn bad?" Part I: The Question

I was recently asked by a close friend something like, "Why is pornography bad?" I wasn't asked this in criticism for the choices I have made with my husband or of my desire to fight pornography and sex-addiction. I was asked this because so many people really have no clue. The person who asked me this was picking my brain because he would not know how to explain to someone why pornography is bad if they didn't believe in God, had no morals, or just fell into society's trap of acceptance. It's something he has thought about a lot because he also wants to find a way to fight it (and E./N. if you're reading this and I just butchered this first part, sorry. I'm trying to remember this conversation as best as I can).

This brought on an hour-long conversation. When my husband arrived (we were eating dinner at this couple's house), I said, "Jump right in, we are talking about pornography." I love that these friends provide a safe refuge for issues like this to be talked about.

The issue of pornography and sex-addiction is tricky.

There are people who believe in God and see nothing wrong with pornography, masturbation, or being sex-minded. Some people who have an overall high moral fiber may think pornography or masturbation is okay. And then, people who don't believe in God may think sex in any form is okay.

There are also the very religiously-strong who believe and know that pornography is wrong and the misuse of sex is wrong. Even some people who don't believe in God may feel that pornography is wrong (I don't actually know anyone who doesn't believe in God, but I have hopes that there are people out here who don't believe in God and feels something wrong with it. That may be too high of a hope, though. Not sure).

Maybe it's just me, but I'm finding the group of people who find sex-addiction, in any form, to be wrong is small and getting smaller. Society is becoming more accepting of it. Not only are we more accepting of it in men, and women just have to deal with men's desires, but women are being tempted to sex-addiction even more. And it seems that everyone is okay with it. I know not everyone is, and there are people wallowing in the depths of addiction who are not okay with how accepted it is in society. I'm stereotyping society as a whole because it seems to me that in general, the misuse of sex is becoming more and more accepted. Except it's not even considered the misuse of sex. It's just sex. Using sex is becoming more acceptable. Sex seems to be our way of life.

Exhibit A: I teach high school. I hear and see things that show me sex is just accepted. Some students have talked to me about rumors going around about them and how hurt they are by the fact that people think they are sleeping around, but they are the minority. Granted, I could be completely wrong because I realize not everyone comes and talks to me about that stuff. But from conversations I overhear, I truly think it is the minority that keep themselves clean. And that is just from casual sex. I have no idea about those particular students' views on pornography or masturbation. Any reference I have heard, from both girls and boys, about pornography or masturbation has told me it's just what they do. It just is, and they seem to kind of welcome it in.

Exhibit B: I dated a guy in high school who was shocked that I had never viewed pornography, nor did I have the desire to. I also had guy-friends who slept around. I knew of people in my high school who filmed themselves and showed those videos to other students at school. And it was all for a good laugh or pleasure. It was weird to them that I wouldn't involve myself in that type of activity. And for some, it became a game to "corrupt me".

Exhibit C: I met someone at the Togetherness Project whose marriage counselor, who also counselled her husband individually, convinced her husband that the only reason his actions were wrong was [hold on to your hats here] because he was married. If he was not married, he could do whatever it wanted because that is how the single life is. So, he filed for divorce, and is living a life full of sex. It may not be an addiction to him, though, because that is just what guys do. Ever heard that one before?

Exhibit D: My husband's counselor told him that whenever he had the temptation to look at pornography or masturbation, to have sex with me. That would make me his own personal porn puppet, and the intimacy and meaning of our sexual relationship would be gone. My husband had the dignity to not even bring that up until I was talking to him about people I knew who had been scarred by things said/advice given by people they thought they could trust. Thanks, Ben, for knowing that would not be okay. The counselor, on the other hand, thought that was good advice. And that advice is probably "normal". He also told Ben that masturbation is okay and normal except for the fact that we are married, and our marriage is what made those fantasies and actions wrong.

These are just four examples. There are so many more I could give! Our society is changing. Some people think we are becoming more accepting and tolerant, and that is a good thing. It's not. Certain morals are changing or becoming the minority. People are losing the ability to feel the Spirit of God in their lives. It honestly scares me to think about where our society is headed.

So, with society being so accepting of sex in general, how do we explain that pornography, masturbation, or other misuses of sex are wrong?

Feel free to comment with your ideas of how to answer this question!

Read Part II here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reflections on a Sunday

Last Sunday, I was looking forward to the coming week with a little dread. It was going to be very hard, and I could NOT wait for Thanksgiving Break.

Every single day this week, I was incredibly blessed. I know without a doubt I was carried through the week by the grace of God. So many little things happened that showed me He had not left me alone and that He loves me. I had a lot of things in mind for a post today, but I feel it would be selfish of me to write about anything other than a testimony of God's love for each of us.

No one's trials are easy. Everything we face is catered specifically to us--to help mold us to become our best selves and to gain eternal salvation. We can take our opportunities of trial to draw closer to or farther away from God. No matter what we choose, He still loves us. At times, it's hard to recognize His hand through the thick fog of darkness. But then, sometimes it's easier to see His hand than other times. I've definitely had my fair share of weeks and trials where it was hard to see Him, and I'm so grateful for every opportunity that has been given me to draw closer to Him. I'm especially grateful for the many opportunities He gave me this week to count my blessings and express thanks to Him.

As we express gratitude, our ability to feel the Spirit and see clearly increases. I've experienced that many times in my life, and I certainly felt it this week.

We are never alone. Sometimes we feel like we are, and I truly think it is at those times, when life is at its highest level of difficulty, that He is carrying us. We may be so concerned with what is happening around us that we barely notice we are not, in fact, carrying ourselves. I know what it feels like to be alone. I also know what it feels like to look back and realize I was never alone. He is there. He really is. He loves me, and He loves you. If you can't see Him, keep your eyes peeled. Pray that you might start recognizing the little things. Maybe keep a gratitude journal. Whatever you do, have faith in Him.

He is there.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Post

I've written a guest post that is featured at Lights Along the Shore and Addiction Hope and Recovery today! They are currently doing a series of tips from women in recovery. Check it out on Tuesdays and Thursdays for more tips from women in recovery. So far, the posts have been very powerful and uplifting.

I can't wait to start my trek to Utah for Thanksgiving. We are leaving tomorrow after school. The past two weeks have been crazy busy. I've worked between 60-70 hours both weeks. I'm seriously looking forward to some down time, family time (aka nieces and nephews time), and blogging time. I have a lot of thoughts jumbling around in my head that are bursting to get out.

31 hours to go! Love you all! See you on the other side.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I've sat here for almost 20 minutes trying to figure out what to write. I had so much swirling around in my head, and I was so excited to write. I can't get anything out, though. I'm too sick, too tired, and too stressed to actually write any of the things that were jumping to get out. They just get jumbled and messy, and I can't even go back and read what I've written to make sure it makes sense because it just makes my head spin. I should have gone to bed an hour ago, but I couldn't. Too much to do.

Bah. I can't wait till Thanksgiving Break.

Just know, blogging world, I was thinking about you. And I love you.

Just know this too:

"Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior's own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead." --Jeffrey R. Holland

It's hard to trust in happier days ahead when the future looks so bleak. There are happier days ahead. I'm finding mine, and I know there are more to come. And even if things are so, so hard, remember there is opposition in all things. If you are feeling lonely and depressed, there must be opposition. I've found that the more intense my negative emotions, the more intense the opposite positive emotions. Things will go up.

And, if you're running on empty, refuel. Take time for yourself so you don't run out of gas at a busy intersection. That would really stink. Find what you need for you. I'll tell you what I do to refuel: I listen to my soul food playlist. I smell my favorite candle. I pray. I do relaxation breathing and fall asleep. I read. I talk to friends. I dance.

Have a wonderful night/day :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hell-Week's Disguised Blessings

Yesterday (well, this whole week) was impossibly long and hard. Thursday night/yesterday were my time to crash and burn. I almost cried at school. Luckily, it was during my favorite class (my catering class-nine students), and they are so amazing in there. I mean, it was a very awkward moment, but I just told them it wasn't them, it was me, and I was simply having a rough day. They love me, and they held me up. Then the rest of the day (I have one of those students three class periods in a row, and four others of those students two class periods in a row), they let everyone who was even remotely rude to me know that I was having a bad day and to knock it off. The rest of the day, all of my students were very protective of my emotional state. They fed me with compliments--telling me that I'm a great teacher, they love me, and that I'm beautiful. It was so amazing to feel that power and love around me. As a high school teacher.

I'm supposed to be in Branson this weekend. My friends are having a girls' weekend without me. That's a story in itself, and all I'll say is I had too much work to do, so I chose not to go as an act of self-care. Going was supposed to be self-care, but with progress reports going out Monday (and how backed up I am in grading and other things with school), the idea of going became pure stress. I decided to stay home so I could get as much as I can done because next week might be hell-week at school. I have so much to do. Plus I woke up feeling sick yesterday and worse today, so I'm glad I can just lay in bed doing my school-work and not be walking around outlet malls in the cold.

Last night I was at school until seven. SEVEN! On a Friday. Did I mention I got to school around 7:10 am? Right when I was feeling sorry for myself (around 5:15) two of my favorite students came in to say hi. They were setting up for the cheer competition today, and decided to take a break and see if I was still there...What kinds of students would expect a teacher to still be at school on Friday at 5:15? Inspired ones. Actually, they wanted some cookies that they were supposed to come get after school but forgot about. Nevertheless, I felt very blessed that they came to visit me and chat for a bit, and I do think it was inspired. About an hour later, a couple more students came to borrow my vacuum to vacuum turf off of something as they were setting up for the competition. These are my two funniest students (and I can never get enough laughs in, especially when I'm depressed that it's 6:15 on a Friday night, and I'm still at school), and it was another little blessing that I knew was from God.

I have stress hives. Not to mention the pain in my back, neck, and feet, which are constant. I wanted to do some form of exercise today, but I'm sick. So, I'll just lay here and do school stuff while I'm wrapped in blankets trying to keep warm. Things could look really down, but I know I'm so blessed. Throughout this entire week, which has had incredible highs and lows (Seriously. Insane amounts of tears, but insane amounts of joy too), I have been blessed. I'm sure later today I will get depressed again, but I'm just grateful for the moments of clarity I have when I know I'm extremely blessed.

Last night, we had pizza for dinner, made a fort with my 13-year old sister, and watched a movie with her. Today I might paint ( would be amazing if I could paint!), and I'll for sure do some ADDO and study my scriptures.

It's actually a tender mercy that I had so much to do that I couldn't go to Branson. I am getting some necessary time for myself. Everything I had to do was too much to do after coming home from Branson, but it's not so much that it's taking up my whole weekend. Well, actually, it was, but I crossed some stuff off my list. I'm simplifying for myself. Kind of like how I chose not to grade some assignments because it was too overwhelming. Anyway, right now I'm supposed to be at a Stake Leadership Training for Young Women's, but I skipped it for self-care. And I think God understands that. When I prayed about what to cross off my weekend, I felt very strongly that I need to take care of myself this weekend. What a blessing.

God sees me. He knows me. He knows exactly what to do for me. And I have the Atonement to lean on.

Christ has felt pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind (Alma 7:11). That means this kind. The kind I feel when I'm severely depressed. The kind I feel when I'm struggling with the responsibilities I have at school. The kind I feel when I'm stuck with the addiction in my life. The kind I feel because I'm not wearing my wedding ring, and the kind I feel when I put the ring back on.

He has taken all of our infirmities (physical and mental weaknesses) upon Himself (Alma 7:12). Because of that, He is filled with mercy, and He knows exactly what we need to be lifted up. He knows because He has felt it. He knows when I need merciful students to feed me with love and compliments. He knows when I need my husband to buy my favorite pizza and decide we're making a fort and watching a movie. He knows when I need my sweet sisters to make me laugh. He knows when I need my principal to email me telling me how great of a job I'm doing and that my work doesn't go unnoticed. He knows when I need my young women's president to ask me how my week is going and expect an honest answer (there is another person I opened up to about the addiction this week :) woot!). He knows when I need students to come talk to me about their own trials. It gives me perspective, and it also shows me that I am in the right place right now and am making a difference for them. I love my students. He knows when to prompt me to cut down and give me peace about cutting down on things in my life. He knows when to give me moments of peace and clarity. This list could go on.

He sees me. He knows me. He is always there for me. And, even though I know that, sometimes I still get a little mad and prideful because things are so hard.

But He is always there waiting for me with open arms. In the meantime, He sends angels to help lift me up.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


You know how much I love music. I have a special playlist called "Soul Food" that is full of my recovery songs. This one has been playing over and over in my head this week. It's relatively new, so I couldn't find a good version on youtube. The lyrics are inspiring and oh, so helpful.

(click on her name to read how she came to write this song!)

I was raised to be BRAVE 
To stand up & stand out 
To wear my name like I know 
The people I came from & who I am now. 

There’s a banner held to the sky 
Down through the ages it’s been held high 
And I’ve found fearless blood in my veins 
That makes me the lightning every time it rains 

I was born to stand tall 
I was born to face the wind 
I was born to feel heartache and heal again 
Born to open up my heart 
Raise my hands and sing 
I was born to fill the measure of my wings 
To be a light in the storm 
I was Born 

I want to live until I die 
Leave a fire in my children’s eyes 
So they can run through the fields 
And feel that sweet wind lift their dreams 

We were born to stand tall 
We were born to face the wind 
We were born to feel heartache and heal again 
Born to open up our hearts 
Raise our hands and sing 
We were born to fill the measure of our wings 
& be a light in the storm 
We were Born 

When your fire’s burned down to the embers 
Just recover and remember 

You were born to stand tall 
You were born to face the wind 
You were born to feel heartache and heal again 
Born to open up your heart 
Raise your hand and sing 
You were born to fill the measure of your wings 
To be a light in the storm 
We were born 
I was Born 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Slowly but Surely

I had a perfect moment today.

We were preparing to make a dessert that we would later take to my parents' house for family dinner. Ben turned on our Sunday tunes and started getting stuff out for the dessert. I paused for a moment and took everything in. I thought about the past week's ups and downs. I thought about his conversation with the bishop today--it gave us both a lot of hope and strength. I thought about our life together, what has been and what could be. I thought about my wedding ring tucked away in my school bag in case I decide during school that I want it back on my finger.

He stopped what he was doing and gave me a hug. And in that moment, I felt complete peace. I felt peace with myself, peace with him, and peace with my Savior. I felt hope for us. I felt pure love (which, right now, is the most important of all those feelings).

We hugged for a long while. Words can't even describe how it felt. Saying it was magical is kind of corny, but it was. It was a miraculous moment given the things we have experienced as of late.

The background music to this perfect hug moment was "Let Him Heal Your Heart." Maybe that was coincidental...except for the fact that I don't believe in coincidence. It was just a simple sign to me that healing is taking place for us both.

Now you can barf if you want. Sometimes mushy makes me want to barf (Ben is much more the romantic than I am). But I couldn't resist documenting this moment. It truly was priceless.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Feeling is Necessary to Healing

Against all odds, I have been happy(er) the past couple of days.

The thing that I think has made the most impact on my ability to be happy is allowing myself to feel.

I tend to push my feelings back or aside for many reasons. Sometimes that reason is fear: fear of the pain, or fear of addressing the pain and making Ben more depressed or suicidal. That may sound dramatic, but that is a real concern for me. Two years ago at Christmas, he told me he had been thinking of "making it easier on me" by killing himself (or leaving me. Two great options to make it easier). I'm always afraid that will happen if he gets depressed enough, especially if the root of his depression is the addiction and knowing how much he has hurt me. That was a downer, but I had to get it out. Sorry. Anyhoo...

Sometimes I push my feelings aside due to stress and lack of time: I don't have time to feel or don't want to take the time to feel and get depressed and have it throw off the other things in my life (mainly school--I can't afford for my groove to be thrown off at school). But mostly, I push my feelings back because they are painful, and I don't know how to cope with them very well. And, honestly? I don't want this to be happening to me. I think if I ignore that it's happening, it's not happening. Grrrrrr.

For the past two and a half years, I've allowed myself to feel for a short time, but then I tell myself to buck up and be a man. And I do. I'm the queen of bottling up emotion. I should have a crown. When I think I should be past feeling, I stifle the rest of the emotions that are there and get a move on. Then a few weeks or months down the road, I completely lose it and go crazy. It's a vicious cycle, my friends.

This time, I allowed myself to feel. I cried. I opened up to my bishop. I opened up to Ben. I took my ring off. I talked to my mentor teacher about things. I told some of my students (who expected me to have their tests graded the day after they took them. So not happening. I'm behind on grading) that I've been depressed and having some off weeks. I told the special-ed teacher (who is amazing and like a mom to me at school) that I'm depressed. And I ate a lot of homemade bread this week. I'm allowing the emotions to cycle through me, and I'm also doing things to help myself cope.

I'm taking my time. Because I'm not putting pressure on myself to overcome my feelings (I used to tell myself, okay, after a relapse, I should be willing and able to have sex, kiss, cuddle, etc within "x" amount of time) and am allowing my spirit to recover as it will, I'm actually feeling some joy. Two days after d-day. That is amazing to me!

I wish I could do more for myself, but I can't because I'm a first year teacher with four preps (next semester it will be five...), one of which is a catering class, and a club to run. I really don't have much time for self-care. But this week, I have made it somewhat of a priority (which has resulted in a lack of sleep, but I've been blessed to make it through that). I've written. I've studied scriptures. I've done some ADDO. I'm hoping to be able to paint a little bit sometime today or tomorrow.

It's still hard. I still feel an underlying sense of stress and anxiety. BUT I'm allowing myself to feel it when I need to. And that is making all the difference. I know I have to feel in order to heal, and I'm grateful for the blessings I have received while I have taken time to slow down and just feel.

Feeling is so important. It's scary.


Be brave.

Thursday, November 7, 2013



My husband's latest confession really sent me spinning.

For the past six weeks, I've been depressed. Depression has come off and on for me for the past few years, but the past six weeks have been really hard. That's because I have been trying to acknowledge my feelings, face the addiction, and hope in ways that I haven't before. I realized I have been still in denial, so I've been trying to just be.

I went through this funk (did I say went? I mean, I've been in this funk) where I realized my love is very minimal. I know deep down, I love him. But that surface, giddy love that I want to feel is depleting. And it has started tearing apart at the deep love. In a moment of panic, I called my Relief Society president and one of my best friends asking them marriage and love questions. I was reassured that it's okay and completely normal for a normal relationship to have times where love is feeling minimal due to normal stressors. So for someone in my position, where we are fighting sex addiction, it's even more understandable for me to feel this way. That really helped.

I'm telling you this so you can understand where I'm coming from on this latest relapse. We've been working on strengthening our marriage. I've been taking it slowly and not pressuring myself to fall back in love too quickly, but, you know, that's the ultimate goal. And things have really been looking up. I've felt moments of pure happiness, which made me hopeful.

I started letting my guard down a little bit as I felt safer in our marriage. I started taking baby steps closer to him. And then...BAM!

Deep breath.

I've had numerous tender mercies this week. For starters, the day I was informed of the "stuff-that-must-not-be-named" [haha that makes me laugh. I'm still giggling about it, even though I don't believe not saying the name somehow makes it better. I just really like Harry Potter. Maybe we should just start referring to porn/masturbation/everything else sex-addiction related as Voldemort. Just for kicks], I worked on a guest-post I'm writing. The topic I decided on was, in essence, "you have to allow yourself to feel in order to fully heal." It got me thinking about everything and the things I've been working on and learning about allowing and expression emotions, and I felt really light and happy after writing it. When I got home, however, I was hit with Voldemort, and then came the downward spiral. BUT I took care of myself. Even though I had crazy amounts of crap to do for school, I allowed myself to feel. I cried. I prayed. I studied my scriptures. I wrote a blog post. I prayed some more. I cried a lot. And then I worked on my school stuff. It all worked out. I got less than six hours of sleep, but I woke up feeling rested.

I felt like crying most of yesterday, but my students took care of me. They are some good kids. And even though I felt like I was going to pass out, throw up, and had a super bad migraine for half the day, I made it through. Tender mercy.

Then my bishop kindly agreed to meet with me after young women's last night. Tender mercy. We had a most amazing and productive conversation. Tender mercy.

I had the strength to go home and be vulnerable. TENDER MERCY.

Last night, I talked to Ben. I really talked to him. I honestly don't remember everything I said, but I remember it was the most open I have been about the effects of pornography in our marriage. I know it made him kind of depressed, and I was afraid of that. But, I knew I couldn't let the fear of hurting him stop me from expressing the damage that is being done because, guess what, folks? Damage is being done. No amount of me trying to save what trust is remaining, or anything else for that matter, is going to make much of a difference--other than make me crazy. In fact, I know in my head that it is for the best to be completely honest about this. It's just hard to follow through with something that has the potential to make everything worse for the time being. But I did it.

I told him something bolder than I ever have. Viewing pornography and masturbating is basically the same as him cheating on me. I mean, I know it's different, and I know it would hurt so much more if he really did physically cheat on me. But guess what? He is depressed, and he turned to a fantasy world where he Voldemorted (haha) with other women. That is not okay. It is not faithful. It is not honest to our marriage covenant. Viewing pornography and masturbating is adultery of the heart and mind. At least in my eyes. And I let him know it.

Boy, was that scary.

But boy was that helpful.

I felt. I spoke up. I'm healing.

Today was beautiful. Tender mercy. Last night helped seal for me the idea that this is really happening, this is really my life. Apparently, even though I've known I'm kind of in denial, I still haven't been able to cope with it all the way. I'm sure I still haven't. But, in talking with my bishop, I realized (he pointed out) that I'm still longing for the marriage that is not--the marriage we might have had right now were it not for pornography. I'm mourning. I needed him to say that so I could see it and try to deal with things as they are. So I am.

I took off my wedding ring today. It was halfway through the school day while I was making bread with one of my classes. I put it back on for a second after bread-making was over, but I had this thought come to my head very clearly: "You don't have to put that back on right now. Take your time. Let yourself detach a little bit." Taking it off with that mindset was like a breath of fresh air. I no longer had that constant reminder on my finger. Instead, I had courage and a clear mind. I felt freedom--freedom from worry, stress, fatigue, tiredly fighting for a marriage that has lots of issues, and pain. I felt peace.

Another tender mercy was what I discovered about the Atonement while studying my scriptures today. But this is already a long post, so I'll save that for another day.

I just want to say thanks to everyone who has helped lift me up this week. You know who you are, and I really appreciate it. I have the best of friends, and I love you. Even if you weren't one of those people because you don't know me very well or personally (yet), thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I couldn't do this without each and every one of you.

I'm making it. Some days I feel like I won't. Some moments make me want to collapse. But I'm making it. If you're fighting an incredible fight, I have faith that you can make it too. We will get through this together.

The good news is, my bishop was at a loss of advice for me. "I have no idea what to tell you. Everything a bishop would advise, you're already doing. You have the right mind-frame. I don't need to tell you it's not about you. I don't need to tell you you're strong and capable. You're forgiving, loving, and compassionate. So, just keep being you and keep having faith." Thanks, Bishop. That really made me feel good :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

And Thus is My Life

I hope you don't take this the wrong way. Because unless you keep reading all the way through my post, you might. Ready for it?

Lately, I've had a love-hate relationship with Christ. And God. And life. And the list goes on.

Phew. Said it. This is a no judgment zone, so if you're thinking something judgmental...[He can see you]

I feel really rotten saying stuff like that. It makes me feel bad. I don't really know why (okay, there are lots of reasons why), maybe because I just don't want Him to think I don't have faith. I do have faith. I think. Well, faith is tricky. Let's not go there. We'll just say I have faith. But, you know, things are just so HARD. And just when they start looking up...well...BAM! So long, sucker! At least, that's how I feel. Like right now.

I do know that Christ is there. Always. I think I just get mad sometimes and don't know where to direct my anger or frustration. And since I tend to get mad at innocent bystanders who love me, sometimes I choose Him (being mad at innocent bystanders is something I'm trying to overcome. I'm working on it). 

Sigh. Are you confused? Me too.

Let's try this again. So, lately, I've been struggling. It's been about five weeks since Ben's last relapse, and during these five weeks, things have not gone super smoothly. I've fought some serious depression. I've relived past experiences. I've visited crazy-town. I've prayed and felt like my prayers aren't being heard or answered. I've prayed and had beautiful experiences. I've felt lost, alone, and confused. I've felt God's hand in my life, and I've seen His works. I've seen light. I've felt darkness. I've felt Satan literally ripping me down. Annnnnd I've felt Christ literally carrying me. 

I don't really have a love-hate relationship with Christ. My life is just rough, and sometimes I don't know what to do. 

A recent comment on my blog talked about how in her Sunday School class, the teacher posed a question about how adversity makes you better. After all the typical answers in that discussion, someone stated that sometimes adversity feels like a big fight between better and bitter. That's how I feel, and that's the only way I can elaborate on how I feel like I have had a love-hate relationship with Christ recently. I trust that He understands. And I do try to show Him my love and recognize His hand in my life as much as possible. But I'm fighting the better vs. bitter fight, which isn't easy. 

About ten days ago, I made a choice. I chose to let adversity make me better, and I've been trying to stick to my dailies and self-care. Last week, I started working harder at studying my scriptures. I've had some beautiful experiences with that. 

Yesterday, while I studied my scriptures, I came across the sacrament verses. Christ said, "And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my spirit to be with you." That really made me think. As I've been struggling to see Christ and fight bitterness, I haven't really thought much about having the Spirit as my companion, just Christ. So I asked myself the question: why do I even want the Spirit as my companion?

This is why:

-Without the Spirit, my life would be empty. 

-The Holy Ghost is a cleansing agent to sanctify me from sin. It is through the Holy Ghost that I can be made pure and holy. The Holy Ghost helps me fight Satan.

-The Spirit knows all things. I can lean on the Holy Ghost for truth. I can receive revelation for myself and my family. I can take steps on the path that was meant for me. Without the Spirit, without the ability to receive revelation from God, I would be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. There would be no point, no purpose. There would be no direction. I would have nothing. [this is critically important for when I need some revelation in regards to the addiction, trust, honesty, and how to handle things]

-The Holy Ghost is the source of communication from God to my spirit. I can receive knowledge and direction from God.

-The Holy Ghost gives us gifts of the spirit. Gifts of the spirit are so important. They are my talents and spiritual abilities. Through these gifts, miracles can be worked in my life and the life of others. Through these gifts, I can see healing at heaven's fountain.

-He is the Comforter. 'Nuff said, honestly. I am almost always in need of comfort.

-He can fill me with hope and perfect love. And "perfect love casteth out all fear."

-He can teach me peace.

After making this list, I realized, man, I do want the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I can't live without the Spirit. The blessings of the Spirit's companionship are crucial to living a happy and healthy life. It won't make life easier, but it will make life more bearable. I need the Spirit with me at all times. I really do. So I made a little vow to work a little harder. Last night.

And then...

I was put to the test. Tonight. 

Today, I really tried to stay close to the Spirit and follow promptings. I acted on some promptings that prepared me and put me in the proper mindset for what awaited me at home.

Addiction pain.

It was a whirlwind of stuff that I'll probably write about later. I can't right now because I have two tests to write, tests to grade, and a lesson to plan. And I have to wake up in 9 hours... and counting down.

The main thing I want to talk about regarding the relapse is the love I felt for Ben when he told me. 

I felt pain, yes. I felt hurt and betrayed. I still feel pain and betrayal. BUT, I followed the Spirit. I was at least able to address Ben's depression (the trigger that led to the relapse) and express sympathy and compassion for that. I even expressed my hurt and said the words, "Turning to porn when you are depressed is not okay." I even accepted his apology. I really do know he is sorry. I did tell him, though, that while an apology is a great step, it does not make it right. I felt the Spirit tugging at me to direct him to Sidreis's blog, I told him to read a certain post of hers I read recently.  And then I cried. And then I got on my computer and watched Bible Videos, following my inspiration as to which ones to watch. And they made me cry again. I watched "I Am The Bread of Life," "Forgive 70 times 7," and "Jesus Declares the Parable of the Lost Sheep." During that hour of what could have been darkness and despair, I felt the guiding hand of Jesus Christ. I felt whole as I watched videos about His life. I felt light as I pondered my role in this life, and I felt light as I pondered His role in my life. I even felt strength of angels around me, which is what I fasted for this past Sunday.

I'm still kind of mad. And that's okay. But I'm also so, so incredibly grateful that I have been led to find things in the scriptures that have the perfect timing in my life. I'm grateful for all the tender mercies of the Lord. 

I love my Savior. That's the moral of my story tonight.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The "How's it Going" Question


Today after church, I was stopped by a man in my ward who asked me how school is going. My response was hesitant at first. I didn't know what to say because I'm constantly fighting depression, and honestly, school is hard. And saying that is being relatively optimistic. When I answered him, I chose, "School is great. (smile and pause.) But it's also hard and stressful." I thought that was a good answer. It was the truth, and I was not dragging on about the hard and stressful part. Then he looked at me and said, "So it's great."

"Well yeah, it's great. But it's also hard." Not really sure why I couldn't just leave it just at great.

"It's great." Why can't he accept the hard part?

"Yes, But hard too." Still not sure why I had to keep saying it.

"Well you only needed to say its great. I don't need to know its stressful."


Then he said, "It helps you be more positive if you focus on the great and not the hard." Good advice, I guess, but as I wrote in my last post, I've been in denial about things going on in my life. I don't think dishonesty with myself is the answer to being more happy. My final response to him was, "Well it really doesn't help me feel better about things if I have to lie to people about how I feel when they ask me how it's going." Then he laughed and said his job sucks, and that he keeps telling himself it's great in hopes that it will somehow change the situation, and he will convince himself it really is great. Hm... doesn't seem to me like lying to yourself is the answer to optimism. But we're all different, and maybe that works for him. I like the quote I found for my picture at the top of this post. "If you want to be happy, be." That's my philosophy. I can't force myself to be happy. I can only be and make the best of what is, and that is how I can become happier.

Okay, this conversation made me think about a lot of things that have actually been on my mind lately. Why do we have to be so closed?! Why is it not okay to say I'm stressed out? Why is there this societal phobia of saying anything negative in public? (Okay, maybe an exaggeration. But you have to admit, it is pretty bad. People don't want to hear negativity. Even if you aren't being negative, even if you are being realistic, people don't want to hear it.)

My issue isn't with this guy and the conversation I had with him.  My issue is with the fact that it's how society as a whole expects us to be. Closed. Tough. Perfect. No one should know about our inner struggles. We're supposed to pretend we don't have any.

I disagree. How much better would our lives be if we gave honest answers to the "Hi, how are you?" question? How much better would our lives (and others' lives) be if we actually cared to know people's honest answers?

In my ideal world, people would ask me those kinds of questions and actually care about the answer. I could say, "You know, things are kind of hard right now. But I'm holding on. I'm trying to make it work." Maybe I could even mention porn (gasp!). If they asked what they could do for me, they could accept a simple answer like "Please pray for me." They wouldn't need to solve all my problems--they would just let me cry, and they would cry with me. 

I think we could all be more compassionate and understanding. I think we should speak up. For heaven's sake, if someone asks you how you're doing, and you're not doing well at all, tell them. Okay, okay, you don't have to go into detail because that may be pushing it, but you could say something like, "I'm actually having a hard time right now, thanks for asking. It's nice to know someone cares about me. How are you?" And maybe, if they really do care, they will ask to know more about why you aren't doing well. And maybe you will feel safe enough to tell them. And maybe they would show some love and compassion towards you when they see that side of you. I think it's safe to say we would all be at least a little more compassionate if we knew what was really going on in people's lives. (And society could sure use a little more compassion.)

We all have stories. We are all living hard lives. Seriously, that is what life is. It's hard. We are here to experience pain and grow. We are here to live this life and become more like Christ through it so we can live with God again. It just makes it all the more hard when we have to put on that perfect persona and waltz through life like we are sitting on clouds and eating ice cream like it's a vegetable. No one is doing that. No one has that perfect life. 

People have mistaken me for having a perfect life. You know what I want to say to them? I want to word vomit all over them. I want to share with them every little detail about how hard things are and then say, now tell me how perfect you think my life is. But I don't. Because I am told that society doesn't want to hear my inner struggles. Those inner struggles are for me and those very intimately close to me. Like my husband, who is addicted to porn (not a jab, just an honest statement for effect). But as I've shared more with people, that has helped me develop more intimate relationships. 

Like I said, we all have stories. We have different abilities to carry trials and bear different burdens. Some people's trials may seem impossible. Our trials may seem impossible to others. Some trials may seem trivial, but to that person, it's HUGE. We all have stories, and I think there is power in coming together with our stories. I think there is power in letting people be open and share themselves. 

There is power in vulnerability. 

I wish society would let us be more vulnerable instead of saying, "I don't want to hear that. Just tell me how awesome and perfect your life is."

"If you want to be happy, be." Be you. Be brave. Be honest about your life. Let things be, and let them work themselves out how they need to.