Monday, December 30, 2013

Sometimes I'm like Lot's Wife

There are definitely a lot of differences between me and Lot's wife. However, I watched this video today, and there were quite a few parallels that made me think.

Lately, while muddling through the storm of addiction, I can't help but look back. I look back on personal revelation given about marrying Ben and I remind myself that we are supposed to be together. I look back on what we once had, or what I thought we had until lies penetrated our marriage. I long for things as they were or as they should be in my imaginary, fairy tale life. I look back and see the progress we have made. I look back and see how little has been accomplished in the grand scheme of things.

I look back and long for change.

I yearn to go back to what once was (or should have been?).

Isn't that what Lot's wife did?

As I yearn for what once was, I am in a sort of denial about things as they are.

I have to stop looking back. I know it's only normal in my case because of the betrayal trauma, but looking back won't make changes for the future. All looking back does is make me depressed and irritable. I have to look forward to the future. I have to address what is going on now and do what I can to make changes for a better future. I have to hope for what can be and do hard things now. I'm realizing now that things have to get harder before they can even remotely get better.

Things are way different than I ever imagined they could be. There are changes I'm considering making in my life that I thought I would never consider. But it's my life. It's all a result of what is going on now, and I can't change the now. I can't change anything to be like what it was no matter how hard I try or desire to.

All I can do now is follow the Spirit and keep Christ close to my heart. As I do so, I will be led to the Lord's will. I must follow His will and not look back. If I make some of the changes I'm considering (if they indeed prove to be the Lord's will), things will get incredibly hard. If I make those changes, do I have the faith to follow the Lord and not look back yearning for a time when things were seemed easier?

I know that this trial being a part of my life is not my fault. I'm just here, and I have to make the most of it. I have choice: I can accept this as the plan and use the circumstances to better myself and draw closer to Christ, or I can keep trying to live in the past while what is really happening creates a falling apart of life all around me while I live in la la land wishing for something different.

My mind keeps going to lyrics of one of my recovery songs, "Better Promises" by Hilary Weeks (from her album, Say Love):

I thought maybe you had forgotten me,
And I wondered if you listened when I prayed.
Seemed like everything I was asking for
Stayed hidden behind heaven's doors,
And I was losing faith.

I can see now as I look back,
Now that the tears have passed.

You gave me bread,
But I thought it was a stone,
And before you could tell me yes,
You had to tell me no.
If you had given me what I wanted,
I would not have seen
That you had better promises for me.

It took some time to convince me
To trust your plan and see things your way.
It was hard to trade what I wanted most
For promises that were still unknown,
And my heart was about to break.

Sometimes it's hard to recognize
The blessings that come in disguise.

You gave me bread,
But I thought it was a stone,
And before you could tell me yes,
You had to tell me no.
If you had given me what I wanted,
I would not have seen
That you had better promises for me.

And I can see now as I look back,
Now that the tears have passed.

You gave me bread,
But I thought it was a stone,
And before you could tell me yes,
You had to tell me no.
If you had given me what I wanted,
If you had sheltered me from the pain,
If you had let me settle for something less,
I would not have seen
That you had better promises for me.

**For more reference on Lot's wife, this speech is a really good one. Pray, read it, and let the revelation come to you for what you might be looking back on. I hope we can all be courageous to stand strong and look forward with a hope in what God has in store for us.

"The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind." --Jeffrey R. Holland, "Remember Lot's Wife"

Friday, December 27, 2013

Burning Lingerie

There are a few stories I could tell here.

One is about the trigger of lingerie.
One is about how I destroyed that trigger.
And one is how I opened up and allowed myself to be vulnerable in a situation that normally scares me.

All of these stories have something in common: I'm facing my fears, people! I can do hard things!

I'm not really sure where this post will take me. I might split these stories up into a couple of posts. We will see what happens as I write.

Oh, ps, it's possible that this post might be triggery. After all, I'm writing about a trigger (but then I destroy the trigger in the end--if that helps you make it through :P).


I remember the last time I wore lingerie. I went a long time without wearing it because of the trauma associated with the addiction in my marriage. I finally felt like I could handle it. I could handle wearing it. I wanted to feel sexy. I wanted that power and, dare I say, peace of feeling good in my marriage. I don't really know what I was thinking--meaning I don't know why I would think that wearing something calling for lust would be a good idea in my situation--because looking back I see that I was pretty much just setting myself up to be a lust object. Or, in the very least, to feel like an object.

After all the work I had done fighting the trauma and the addiction, I thought I could do it. I put it on and happened to look at myself in the mirror. I looked good (no, I don't ever use sexy to describe myself). I looked so good, in fact, that I had a panic attack about it. It stemmed from a lot of things, but the main thing I remember thinking was, "I could be in a porn video. I'm dressed for the part." [Although, to be fair, I'm sure my sexy-look is much more conservative than any porn video. But, I don't know. I've never watched one.] I kept the anxiety and panic to myself at first. I felt like I wasn't allowed to ruin sex when I had basically already told him that it was going to happen. So, I sucked up the panicky feelings and tried to go with the flow.

But I couldn't. And honestly, I don't remember what happened. That is how much it jostled my brain. Either I gathered my strength, stopped what was going on, and broke down sobbing, or I went with it and then broke down sobbing afterwords. Whatever happened, all I remember is the crying. The trauma.

I. could. not. do. it.

Ben, bless his heart, was very patient with me. I mean, he was to my face. I don't know how patient he was in his thoughts. Regardless, he seemed patient with me. I'm pretty sure we went a long time after that without sex again because that last time wearing lingerie was so traumatic for me. All I could think about when I thought about sex was lust, porn, and cheating. I constantly wondered if he was acting in love or lust. I constantly wondered if my body was a trigger for him of the other naked bodies he had seen. I wondered who he was seeing and who he was loving: me or some woman in his head?

Eventually, we packed up our belongings and moved across the country to good ol' Arkansas.

We lived with my parents for ten months, and all the while, my lingerie was packed away.

When we moved into our house, and I unpacked my lingerie, it all hit me again. Each piece had some kind of memory attached to it. There was the one from our wedding night--so full of innocence and naivety. And lies. There were the ones he liked and convinced me to wear the most. Because I was sexy in them. Barf. There were some that were just fun and reflected my personality. But sex was a lie to me. And there was one that I always wore when I dressed for myself instead of him.

The memories flooded at me as I  unpacked. And by memories, I'm talking about bad ones. Even the good memories had a sour twist to them because behind every good memory were lies and secrets.

I cried as I unpacked my lingerie. I felt like I could never wear them again.

And then I decided to burn them.

My idea of sex and intimacy in marriage has changed a lot throughout my marriage because of this addiction. It's not a bad thing. I think I'm becoming a better person. I'm learning more about the true meaning of love and how true intimacy works, and to me it's just beautiful. I don't need lingerie to make me feel rotten and dirty. When physically intimate moments happen, they just happen. They are becoming more perfect--in tune with God and the true reason why our bodies are built the way they are. I'm becoming one with my husband through intimacy, and I love how it is helping our relationship.

I don't need lingerie.

My decision to burn my lingerie was a solid two-three months ago. But then things kept coming up that caused me to push this event off. Eventually, I became scared of doing it and started rationalizing myself out of it.

Today, I thought long and hard about my lingerie. I asked myself what the purpose is in keeping it. I asked myself what would happen if it was destroyed. And then I felt fear and anxiety begin to overtake me, and I realized that I had to burn it. I'm not saying that everyone should take this approach to healing: I'm just saying I needed to.

You see, I've been fighting body image issues along with everything else. I don't write about it, and I rarely allow myself to even think about it because I hate it. I know I'm just fine the way I am. I actually really like my body, and I try to remind myself of that every day. But because of many factors that play into the anxiety and problems I'm experiencing in my life, I constantly have this underlying notion that I am not good enough. And I usually play that out through my body image.

Today, I hit a moment where I knew that something I needed to do physically to help myself heal in many areas was to burn my lingerie. So I did. The rotten stuff was so full of poison for me in so many different ways, and physically destroying that poison was one of the most healing things I have done (right alongside burning the addiction).

I started with Ben's favorites--the ones that make me look sexy. Blech. Need I say I hate that word? Then I just kept putting the other pieces on one by one. I ended up keeping one set of lingerie: the one that I wore for me. I kept it as a symbol of hope.

I know I'm not instantly healed just because I burned my lingerie. But I do feel like a piece of me is back where it belongs. I feel more peace, and I feel a little more hope. Or at least I feel like I can keep pressing onward a little bit longer.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Gifts

I haven't written on here in two weeks. I miss writing, but I just don't know what to write. I don't want to pretend things are any different than they are, but I also don't want to write a skewed, even slightly pessimistic post. I'm really working hard on being positive. Or at least not being unnecessarily negative.

This week, I've been trying to focus on what I can "give" Christ. Basically, I've been thinking about what I can do to make myself better. That means I've had to focus on my weaknesses and admit that they are there. That means I've had to admit that some of the damage being done in my relationship with Ben is happening because of me... (in case you were wondering, a lot of my weaknesses have to do with pride)

I tend to rationalize myself out of blame. Realistically, it's totally normal. I've experienced a lot of trauma and am still experiencing trauma. There is a large amount of damage being done that is in no way my fault. But, I can't change the circumstances of what is happening. I can't change what Ben has done or what he still does. I can't change the lying or hiding. I can't change his shaming. I can't control him. I have no control over him or what he does. I do have control, however, of me and what I do.

I have control over how I react. I have control over how much hope I hold out. I have control over how I treat others around me, even when I'm angry. I have control over how much I open up to people and allow others to help me.

I've been really sad. The trauma has hit me on a whole new level. I'm not more depressed than I have been. On the contrary, I think I'm a little less depressed (or falling into denial for the time-being--not sure which). I'm just feeling and dealing with things a little differently.

My dad showed me this video this morning. I don't know where he found it, but I looked it up and found it on youtube. For all you wonderful people who are struggling with betrayal of a spouse (or any tough trial for that matter), this is for you.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Understanding the Addict Perspective

God has given me countless experiences that have helped me understand things a little more from "the addict perspective." All in all, I'm grateful for every experience even though they sometimes just irritate the heck out of me. Sometimes I don't want to be compassionate: I want him to be compassionate and understanding and just stop it already. I know that can't be, and besides, I know that is way easier said than done.

So, in the end, I am grateful for the experiences God has given me that have helped me understand Ben's perspective a little more. They have helped me develop higher levels of compassion, patience, and humility--three strong elements necessary for working through this addiction together.

One of these experiences happened over the weekend. I started getting depressed about the addiction and infertility. I didn't want to open up to Ben about it because I was embarrassed about fretting over certain things (not that he isn't a complete angel when I'm caught up in my depression). And I seriously did not want to open up to God about it. I felt like He has to be tired of hearing me whine and complain about my trials. I know I will get pregnant when the timing is right, so it's pointless to keep complaining. I also know I can turn to Him and be healed from this pain I feel (regarding every trial I'm currently facing). The thing is, I just don't want to. I want to overcome this on my own. I want to be independent. I want to be strong enough on my own that I can conquer Satan and his demons bringing me down. I want to be the all-powerful Kilee. I just want to do this by myself. I don't like depending on others.

Sound familiar?

Sounds like what I have heard from my addict-spouse.

When I really sit down and think about it, I know all of that is ridiculous. I don't need to be embarrassed of the things that hurt me. And Heavenly Father is certainly not tired of hearing me cry out for comfort and healing. I know I will get pregnant when the timing is right, but I also know that if I keep leaning on the Atonement, I will be blessed in so many ways and have strength to face all of this: my physical medical issues, my depression, my husband's addiction, and my infertility. I know that as I give up my pride and focus on humility, I will grow in so many ways, I will be blessed tremendously, and I will experience peace and joy in the midst of my trials. My life will go on happily, and I will be able to work through these things.

When my husband sits down and thinks about it, he can also (sometimes/most-times) see the ridiculousness of his thought-patterns and actions. He knows what he needs to do, but it's a lot harder to follow through than just think about it.

The natural man is an enemy to God. The natural man craves independence, strength, and power. Those cravings are some of the ways Satan tempts me. When I get caught up in my pride, it's easy for him to creep in and bring me down. And naturally, everything feels worse.

Same goes for the addicts. They also want independence, strength, and power. They want to master this on their own.

I'm seeing Ben slowly turn to Christ. He is doing so more and more, slowly but surely. It's hard to see the changes, have the positive conversations, and know he knows what to do, but have everything happen so slowly. I get impatient, and when I get impatient, I tend to get angry. And then my spiral of depression comes and that is a whole other story.

My point is that God is giving me little moments where I get a glimpse of understanding of what it is like on the addict side because many of the things Ben faces, I face as well--just in a different way. I'm grateful for those little experiences because they do help me with compassion, patience, and humility. When I have the proper perspective, things work a lot better in our relationship. And that is ultimately what I want: a joyful relationship.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christ was Betrayed Too

I've had a lot on my mind over the past week. I've asked myself a lot of questions, and I haven't really been able to find the answers.

There are a lot of unknowns with this addiction, as I'm sure it is with any addiction. Right now, much of the unknowns are focused around his recovery. I hear people talk about "true recovery" vs. "white knuckling," and I don't think I really understand those terms. I also don't know where Ben fits in. Part of me feels like he is in true recovery--meaning that he really is trying. But, I know there is a part of his heart that isn't fully there, so does that mean he is white knuckling? I don't know, and it honestly doesn't matter right now. He is making steps towards recovery, and for that I am grateful.

I'm still experiencing some major trauma. I don't know why, but it bothers me. I think I've gotten accustomed to things, or I think I have forgiven certain things, but then they don't leave me, and I get in this cycle of ruts, pulling myself out, and peace.

Most of my trauma is regarding physical intimacy. Physical intimacy went out of the relationship for a season: about three months, maybe four. I'm not really sure. It got to the point where I just couldn't do it, and he didn't question it or pressure me (thank you). We worked on our emotional intimacy. We worked on healing. I took off my ring at one point. And all of that was NICE. I didn't feel the same disappointment every month with infertility or his relapses. I've been sad at not having children, but I've been more accepting of God's plan with that. During that time, there was no pressure for anything, just the desire to improve our marriage. Things would start going really well, and then he would mess up again. Tension would rise, and our relationship would take a turn backwards. But each time it became easier to recover.

Thanksgiving marked the day we started trying to have kids again (purely coincidental date btw). Things just flowed. It felt rewarding and beautiful. And then the next time...everything hit me. Questions. Trauma. Emotion. Everything.

What is he thinking about while we are doing this?
Will I ever feel fully secure in our relationship again?
How hard is he really trying to overcome his addiction?
What if I don't get pregnant this month? Again. Then we will have to keep going...having "scheduled" sex while fighting the trauma of his addiction.

Trying to get pregnant puts a strain on your physical relationship. I mean, I can't speak for everyone. I can only speak from the perspective of being married to a sex-addict. But it does put on a strain, and it is overwhelming at times.

Right now, I think my biggest fear is that we will try to get pregnant, it won't happen, disappointment will follow, we will start getting strained, he will fall back into old addiction patterns, and then we will have to take another break. The pattern and cycle is really getting to me. I just want to be happy.

I'm praying, praying, that we will be blessed with a child this month.

I've heard countless times that maybe God isn't sending us children because we need to work out the kinks in our relationship so the baby can be raised in a functional home. Or other things along those lines. It makes me sad, and I think that possibly adds to the trauma a little bit more. I see my wopa (wife of porn addict) friends and their families, and I wonder why not me? Because yeah, sure, we have problems in our marriage, but I don't think God is not sending us children just because Ben is a porn addict, and I don't think it's fair to say anything like that to anyone. I know having children won't solve our problems, and I know some things will get a little harder. But at the same time, I feel like we are ready and possibly even need that next step in our relationship. Ben is a really good guy. He is going to be a great father. We are going to be great parents. He is trying to recover from his addiction. He is trying to put God first. He isn't perfect, but no one is.

I've definitely grown from both of these trials (addiction and infertility), along with my other trials (physical trials such as back, feet, and neck, along with the stress of some other personal things) and if anything, I think I'm being prepared for something great. I don't know what that something is, but I'm growing a lot. I feel older than I am. I have faced so many HARD trials, all at the same time, and I feel like I have aged a ton in the past four years. It's weird to look back at when I was 20 and think of how silly I was. I'm 24, and I feel like way more than four years have passed. I think I've grown in ways that normal 24-year-olds don't.

After this week(ish) of trying to get pregnant and giving in to the physical intimacy side (which was only able to come after a lot of work on the emotional intimacy side), he struggled with his addiction again. He masturbated. I don't remember when the last time before that was, and it doesn't matter. It was long enough ago that I was feeling safe, but feeling too safe. I started getting the fears and worries of "When is it going to happen again? When is the addiction going to come back, whether in little pieces or in full force?" I started closing down. I stopped communicating to him, and solid, open communication is something that we have worked really hard to achieve.

When I found out about the masturbation, tons of questions swirled through my mind. I don't feel the need to go into those questions. The main question I came down to, after spending much time studying, pondering, and praying, was "How do I turn this over to Christ?"

I've found a lot of answers and helpful things in the scriptures lately, but something I read today hit me the hardest:

Christ was betrayed by one of his disciples. I'm assuming since Judas was a disciple, that they were pretty good friends. I'm assuming that there was a lot of love and trust in their relationship. I'm also assuming since Judas was a disciple, he had made covenants with Christ to stand as a witness of Him. I couldn't find that specifically in the scriptures, I'm just using my own thoughts and understanding of the situation.

By betraying Christ, which was the ultimate betrayal, Judas broke bonds of trust and love. Those bonds are similar to the bonds we have in marriage. Christ felt pain. He probably felt heartbroken. He even felt alone when he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46).

He has felt the betrayal. His betrayal was even greater than my own. Not only that, but He took upon Himself all of the pains we have felt, no matter the cause, when He was in the Garden. He has felt every bit of the pain I have felt, both from the infertility and the addiction. He has felt the pain of my unanswered questions. He has felt the pain of my trauma. He has felt it all.

He has felt it all so He would know how to succor me. He has felt it all so He would know how to lift me up.

And He can heal me. He can heal all.

He has promised to be with us always as long as we are faithful.

This gives me peace. I still have unanswered questions and pains. I still have fears, but I know as I turn it all over to Christ, I can be healed. I have a long way to go for healing. I also have a long way to go for complete humility and desire to do His will. But I'm working. And Ben is working. We are both imperfect, and I can't really expect more than hard work and steady progress on his part, even if the progress feels incredibly slow sometimes.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

We are Soldiers

"Waving the white flag is not an option." -Alicia

We're trudging through the heat of the battle--trudging onward till we drop. There is no looking back. There is no going home. We are in this for the long-haul.

We will fight until the war is won. We know there will be casualties along the way. We've seen some already, and they have broken our hearts. We only pray that we, and our families, will not be one of the casualties.

What are we fighting against? 


What will we win if (when) victory is ours?

Peace. Salvation. A better existence.The opportunity to live with God again. 

Satan is the master of cunning and evil. He is doing everything he can to rule and reign over us--to all the ends of the earth. He doesn't want us to follow God. He doesn't want us to be happy. He doesn't want us to experience true joy. He doesn't want us to feel peace. He leads us astray. He makes promises he won't keep. He will fool and trick us until we have nothing left but despair and emptiness. He will help us lose everything, and then he will leave us to fend for ourselves.

He targets our weaknesses. He uses trickery to create weaknesses so he can target us even more. He also leads us to target each other. How does he do all this? Through media. Socialization of sex. Our children. Our fears. He creates uneasiness. He creates doubt. He creates fear. He is the author of chaos and confusion.

He has no mercy. 

And he is relentless. 

My life has become a series of battles. As I have grown and gained experience, and especially as I have gained stronger faith in God, Satan has worked tirelessly. Sometimes, he has given me breaks of peace and composure (so he could sneak-attack), and I've let my guard down. It is then that he comes back working double time. As a result, I have lost some battles. But I have won more. And I have resolve. I am not losing this war. I will fight for the rest of my life. I will stand strong like Moroni and defend "in memory of [my] God, [my] religion, and freedom, and [my] peace, [my family]" (Alma 46:12).

This morning I studied my patriarchal blessing. As I studied, I was struck with how prepared I am to fight this fight. God has given me everything I need. It's amazing. As long as I use my agency the correct way, I will win. That's not to say it won't be hard. It will be hard. It will be exhausting. I've seen it firsthand. There have been many days when I didn't want to and didn't think I even could go on. But I can. As long as I have perception, perspective, hope, and faith, I can go on. I can do anything with God by my side, lifting me up, and giving me angels to strengthen me. 

I was instructed in my patriarchal blessing to find joy and happiness in this life, and that my attitude and understanding are the foundation of living a happy and healthy life. As I pondered that, I realized that true joy is a state of mind. Life could be awful all around me, but I can still find joy. I can hold on to that joy and make life amazing. It's the little things that count. 

Sometimes I struggle with my relationship with Ben. Even when he is being wonderful, I'm still recovering from trauma. And I honestly don't know when/if the full onslaught of the trauma will come back. I don't know what he will use his agency for. I don't know if he will start lying again. I don't know if he will keep secrets and live a life of adultery behind my back. I just don't know. That scares me. I have a lot to work through. Everything I just mentioned is only a small part. 

Despite how hard things can be, I can still find joy. I can live a full life, and I can grow to become a great woman who is worthy and ready to live with God again. I'm on the right track. I'm practicing the courage and strength it takes to choose joy in the midst of chaos. Life is journey to find joy and let it exist in you. 

The journey is hard. All along the way, Satan has been and will be fighting me. He doesn't want me to be happy, and he certainly doesn't want me to gain eternal salvation. But I'm not surrendering to him. I won't even let it be an option. 

For a while, I thought I was fighting this alone. I'm not. All along my path, I've found my fellow-soldiers who were lost as well. They went down other beaten paths, feeling alone or maybe lost or forgotten. Together, we're forming an army. We're fighting Satan. We're becoming more vocal in society. 

We are going to win.


We're trudging through the heat of the battle--trudging onward till we drop. There is no looking back. There is no going home. We are in this for the long-haul.

We will fight until the war is won. We know there will be casualties along the way. We've seen some already, and they have broken our hearts. But we will fight long and hard, and we will neither let ourselves nor our families become casualties.

"Oh you wounded fallen ones 
Close your eyes 
Hear the battle drum 
The cadence calling us 
March on 
March on 
Oh you wounded broken ones 
Still glinting in the sun 
Live trying `til we’ve won 
March on 
March on"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ben the Beast

Last week, I watched part of Beauty and the Beast at my brother- and sister-in-law’s house. I haven’t seen that movie in a very long time.

The part that was on when we arrived at their house was when Gaston tries to kill Beast. I recognized the look in Beast’s eyes: he looked like he had pretty much given up and was allowing himself to be defeated. He had no hope. Suddenly, Belle rode up on her horse, and yelled Beast’s name. When he looked up and saw her there for him, Beast gained the courage he needed to use his strength to fight Gaston and save himself so he could be with Belle.

While this was happening, I thought of the transformation that had occurred in Beast throughout the movie. At the beginning, he was rough and unlovable. He had been transformed into a hideous monster because of his selfishness, and the spell could only be broken when he learned to love and be loved. He thought himself to be unlovable, and it wasn’t until Belle came into his life that things started changing.

I discovered so many parallels in this story to my life. Because of the addiction, there have been times when Ben thought himself unlovable. He has been the beast. He has been angry and selfish and hurtful. He has done things in moments of selfishness that have broken my heart.

And yet, I see the prince inside him, and I stand by him. There are times that he and I are both stubborn and our relationship takes a wrong turn, but together, the good in him is becoming more dominant than the beast of addiction. During times when he is willing to give up, I am there. I hope that my presence will help him have courage and strength to fight off Satan and live a life of true love and happiness.

Let me be clear, I know fighting the addiction is not my job. I know that Ben has to find it in him to be healed through Christ and take the steps necessary to ward off Satan. I know that he has much work to do, and it is most definitely not up to me to make our marriage work.

However, I am discovering where my role is in his recovery. I am finding the difference between his nature and the nature of his addiction. I feel very lucky because when Ben messes up, most of the time, he has his own trauma to work through. That trauma usually has to do with his love for me and disappointment in himself for letting me, himself, and God down again. It makes him sick to know what he is doing to me. Yes, he still does it, and yes it hurts every time, but we are coming to the point where we are experiencing true intimacy again. Not physical, but emotional intimacy. I can open up to him and tell him how I feel. I can be open and honest about what the addiction is doing to me and to us, and he listens. I can accept his apology and still be hurt and need space, and he knows and accepts that. I can take my time and work through things, and he is patient with me as I do so.

I do have a role in his recovery. I am doing my best to figure out exactly what it is. Based on experiences in my marriage, I am finding what works and doesn’t work. I know I have to be firm, yet loving. I have to be stern, and forgiving. I have to keep myself safe, but I can still help him in some ways while keeping myself safe. Sometimes, it’s brutal honesty that is necessary for both him and me. Sometimes, I have to be more guarded and lean on outside support people. But I always try to be there for him when he needs to talk about things, even if it pains me—just as I appreciate him being there for me even when what I have to say hurts him.

While we work through this, I have this part of me that is full of hope for us. I’m always full of hope that I will be okay because no matter what, I have Christ, and I know I can be healed through Him. The part I rarely admit out loud is that I am holding out hope that Ben will be healed and our marriage will survive this. I’ll admit, divorce is almost always on the back burner. I know now that sometimes divorce has to happen. When we got married, I totally had the mind-frame that we would never get divorced, and I thought we could work through anything. I know now that some things might not be able to be worked through. We will see. But, I have this sliver of hope in the back of my mind telling me he will be healed, and we will make it through this. Then, after we get through this, we can get through anything. I mean, who knows? But, that hope is there.

I recognize that it could be a long while before he is fully healed and our marriage is in a great place. But, lately, we’ve been getting to a good place. When things happen that mess up the “good place”, I’m still able to reflect on the things I’m learning and use the strength I’ve gained (along with the Lord) to help me rise up and be resilient.

No matter what happens, like Belle, I’m ready to ride up in my horse and give Ben support when Satan is kicking him down. I think it’s when he is being kicked down that he needs my love and support the most (and then, when he is steady on his feet, he can support me while I collapse from the heat of the battle). Granted, that is when it’s kind of the scariest because I don’t know whether he will be in total addict-mode or hitting rock bottom and feeling humble. I pray that he will be humble and continue fighting Satan so our marriage can thrive. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Addiction: Is It About You?

This post is for those of you who have struggled with the concept that “this has nothing to do with you.”

I’ve struggled with that concept a lot since I started my recovery. Despite how that may sound, my struggle with it is not because I think the addiction is my fault. I feel very blessed to have only minimally thought about the addiction in those terms, and those thoughts were very quickly shut down in the beginning stages of my recovery. However, that phrase bothers me because I still feel like the addiction has very much to do with me.

People in my recovery groups in Utah, along with my previous bishop, constantly told me “it has nothing to do with you.” Everything seemed to be focused around not being codependent and knowing the addiction was not about me. I was instructed to lean on Christ and let Him heal me. That’s good, but it made me feel like I’m supposed to find a way for this to not hurt me because “it has nothing to do with me.” If it has nothing to do with me, I shouldn’t be hurt by it, right?

I think I’ve been waiting for that day in my recovery that the addiction doesn’t hurt me, or that I am so quick to turn it over to God that I don’t feel the pain.

That’s not how it works.

Ben’s addiction has nothing to do with me in the sense that I’m not the cause. I’m not at fault for anything he has done. He doesn’t turn to his addiction because I’m not beautiful or fulfilling enough (and if he did, I would say screw him because I don’t feel the need to change myself physically for anyone but me). He doesn’t turn to his addiction because I’m a failure of a wife. I know I’m not. In fact, I’m an amazing wife, and I have a lot of patience and love. It is in those types of instances that the addiction has nothing to do with me.

The addiction doesn’t stem from me, but it still has very much to do with me. He is my husband. He turns to his addiction rather than God or me. He breaks promises and does things that hurt me, and I’ve realized it’s okay and normal that they hurt me. Just because the addiction “isn’t about me” doesn’t mean I can’t be hurt by it. This is my life, and it very much involves me. This life I’m living is all about me. I can rely on God and still be very much hurt by the actions of my husband. It comes with the reality I’m living. He has made commitments, and I have hope that he will keep them. When that hope is crushed, it’s only natural to be hurt.

So, if this is a concept you have struggled with, know you’re not alone. The addiction isn’t about you, meaning it is in no way your fault. The consequences and pain of the addiction very much involve you, and that is normal. As you seek your own recovery, you will be healed and blessed to find the true joy and happiness you deserve even in the midst of addiction in your life.