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. 


  1. I love the recognition that you can accept his apology and still need space. So often we equate "forgiveness" with "reconciliation," and that's not how it works. The Atonement applies to everyone-- the sinner, and the one that has been hurt by the sin-- and both are granted the space and time to utilize the Atonement. Just as he cannot expect to be instantly changed from his addiction, you cannot be expected to be instantly healed. It's a process. And it's a blessing. Thank you for pointing that out.