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!
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 :)