Saturday, March 29, 2014

His Recovery: Part 1 of "Our Recovery"


We are in a hard place right now. We are in desperate need of some "real" recovery--for each of us individually and within our relationship.

To experience the fullest healing, there are three aspects of recovery that must be addressed: his, mine, and ours. I've learned through this whole journey that without each of these elements in recovery, healing won't come in its fullest capacity. These three elements all depend and build upon one another.

If he is not in real recovery (or at least attempting effort), my recovery (and I know that sounds co-dependent) is at stake. That is because of betrayal trauma. If he is not in recovery, or attempting recovery, the relapses, lies, and disclosures will become too much. I know they make me feel crazy, even when I am really working on my healing. Think of it this way: it's hard to recover from any kind of injury when someone keeps re-breaking it every time it starts to heal. Once re-broken, the wound becomes fresh. Thus, the process of healing must start over. With that perspective, it seems to me that no matter what, an addict's lack of recovery will have an impact on the spouse and their relationship together. That doesn't necessarily mean if the addict isn't in recovery, the spouse can't find healing. But it may delay her healing, cause strict boundaries to be put in place, and possibly prevent the relationship from healing.

The same thing goes for if I am not in recovery. If I am not recovery, even if he is, it will have a huge impact on him and us. If I decided not to work on my healing, despite his own recovery efforts (for whatever reason, although I'd probably claim anger and resentment as a main cause), I wouldn't be able to forgive or trust again. Forgiveness and trust are key elements for healing in a broken marriage. And I'd certainly classify my marriage as broken right now.

With that said, I will now begin a three-part series about each aspect of recovery: His Recovery, My Recovery, and Our Recovery.

His Recovery

His recovery is vital. I could in no way describe what the addict's recovery entails, so I've asked Ben to take over this part of my post. And now I step down and let him do the talking.

The basis of my recovery must be the antithesis of the life I have lead thus far. Pride, selfishness, shame, and dishonesty all have to go--and not just pertaining to the addiction. Recovery must become my way of life. For example, being honest about when I relapse is an essential component of my recovery, but if I am dishonest with my wife about how I spend our money, I am not living in recovery.

The same goes for pride, selfishness and shame. If I’m not seeking to be humble, selfless and forgiving of myself and others in every aspect of my life, I’m never going to reach my goal.

This is something that has, sadly, taken me years to realize--but learning it has made all the difference in how I approach recovery. While attended an ARP group in Arkansas, I heard over and over again from one of the missionaries that every member of the church should be working the 12 steps, because the pattern of the 12 steps is really the pattern we must follow to come unto Christ.

Each step, though the wording is directed to those in addiction, is indeed essential to the repentance of any one of us, whether our sins be great or small.  

Another important aspect of my recovery is the motivation behind it. Am I doing this for my wife? Am I doing it because I know it’s bad? Or am I doing it because I love the Lord and am desperate to live my life in a way to show Him that? I have tried all three approaches, and the only one that has had any lasting effect on me is the third. The reason is because that is the only motivation that actually leads me to seek healing for the underlying causes of my addiction. It’s also the only one that has the power to give that healing.

That being said, I am still motivated to overcome this for Kilee’s sake and for the sake of our marriage. I have learned, though, that if I do this for the Lord, He will take care of our marriage as long as we are both working recovery.

Knowledge is another key to working true recovery.

In order to start a true recovery, a thorough understanding of the addiction, as well as your relationship with Heavenly Father, are completely essential. Step 4 gives you a chance to do an inventory and go back in time and dig deep into the root causes of your addiction. You come to know what triggers you emotionally and why. For me, the physical and emotional triggers began when I was only 6 or 7 years old, long before I could cognitively understand the consequences and effects of my actions. It’s hard for me now, then, if I am being completely honest with myself, to allow the shame cycle to go too far, because this is definitely not something I voluntarily started into with full knowledge. And even when I had full knowledge of the consequences of my actions, it was still years before I finally had the proper tools to work recovery.

You then come to understand the physiological aspects of addiction--the things that go on inside your brain that have been repeated so much that it’s no longer a matter of willpower to overcome. This has also been a huge weapon for me in combating my addiction because I know much better now what I can do to overcome it. If I give in, I can trace back to why and I can put things in place to prevent it from happening again.

Beyond those basics, it is difficult for me to prescribe a certain set of rules to live by while working your own recovery. In my experience, each and every one of us is different. I have read that the only common attribute among those who have overcome their addiction is that they never gave up.

There are some things I do in my recovery that other people don’t think are necessary. However, there are also things I don’t do in my recovery that others wouldn’t be able to survive without. So the most important thing, in my mind, is that you strive to make your recovery Christ-focused and that you base it on the principles outlined in the 12 steps. In all of this, honesty must reign supreme. Honesty with your spouse is important, but even more important is honesty with yourself. Are there some things you aren’t doing because they don’t help you? Or is it simply because you don’t want to? Are you really working recovery to the best of your ability? Or are you holding back? Are you living your life conscious of what’s at stake? Or are you trying to fly by the seat of your pants?

Recovery is powerful, but it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are times when I feel like I want to give up, but in those times, I am grateful to have the Spirit whisper truth to my heart, and that truth is that I will never find joy in the same capacity as I can know it through recovery. I will never find the happiness I know is available for those who keep God’s commandments if I give in. This weakness is something that has pushed me to my emotional and spiritual limits, but it’s also the one thing that has brought me closer to God than anything else in my life, and the more I work recovery, the more that becomes apparent to me.

Read Part 2: My Recovery, here
Read Part 3: Our Recovery, here

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


For the past--I don't know how long--I've lived in a state of chaos and stress. Being stressed out must be one of my natural talents because I can't imagine or remember a life where I didn't feel like a ball of stress. Today is my first day off-the-job, and I'm trying to unwind. As I told a friend last night, I think it will take a while to fully calm down and feel whole because I don't know how to live without stress.

Because of the seemingly-impossible-but-totally-not-impossible-even-more-constant stress I've felt over the past six weeks, and where it started landing me, I contacted a counselor to get help. I haven't sought out a counselor before now because I didn't feel like we could afford it, but now it had to take priority over my feelings of not spending money on that because I was in a ditch.

I've been thinking about stress a lot lately. Stress and numbing. That's because I'm so tightly wound right now that I don't know how to live without stress. And the more stressed I become, the more I numb. I recently realized that I haven't figured out how to balance my life without numbing, which is part of why I think I had to quit my job and move now--so I could focus on what is really at hand and stop numbing through my dedication to my job. My numbing tactics have been working so well that they have started causing me to care less about Ben and my relationship with him because I'm just surviving and numbing--not caring.

I want to share an exercise my counselor had me do with her a few weeks ago.

She created a three-column chart on a sheet of paper. The far left column was titled, "Things that make me want to numb." The middle column was titled, "Ways I numb." The right column was titled, "True comforts." I spent the next bit of time really thinking about what belongs in each column.

I learned quite a bit about myself, so I'd encourage you do to something like this, especially if you are in a really low-spot like I was. Some things I do to numb are also true comforts, but the difference is in how I use them. A brownie can be truly comforting. A pan of brownies is a numbing and repressing tactic (not to mention that it makes me feel worse to eat that many brownies). Reading can be a comforting technique. Reading a whole series in a very short time-period while ignoring all other responsibilities and people around me is a way I repress and numb (and then I hate all the time that has been wasted and feel worse about myself in the end, anyway). There are quite a few of my comforting and numbing techniques that cross like that: painting, playing the piano, listening to music, exercise, facebook, and sewing.

My counselor had my put a star next to things that will always be a true comfort, but never (or rarely) a way to numb. For me, those were prayer/meditation, writing, and giving service. These are things I need to turn to always. And when used in combination with my other comforting techniques, I will achieve the best response to the things that make me want to numb.

It's really hard to face the emotions that come with being married to an addict. It's so much easier to numb--except for that fact that the repressed emotions come back with even more intensity than they would have if I had just addressed them from the beginning. So I'm working on using real comforting techniques to face my life head-on. I've even discovered things I do to numb that I didn't realize were numbing until recently (such as the above-mentioned job dedication as numbing).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm on a search for wholeness. I'm learning to offer myself compassion and self-comfort. I'm learning to rely on God and recognize all that He is giving me, especially when life is unbearably hard and it's all too easy to slip into a state of feeling isolated. Achieving wholeness is so important to me: I want to feel like I'm whole, no matter what. That means I need to move from a state of numbing to comforting. And that means I have to face everything head-on--with all its yuck and unpleasantness.

My counselor told me "We have the light of Christ in us, so when we self-comfort, we can use God's power." That gives me so much hope. Self-comforting is hard. Embracing the unpleasant circumstances that make up my life is hard. But I have the light of Christ in me, so that means I get to use God's power. I'm really not ever doing this on my own by my own power. I always have Him.

Onward to wholeness!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Am Broken

I recently made some big decisions that are potentially life-altering.

What it comes down to is this: after much thought, consideration, weighing, and prayer/personal revelation, I have decided to quit my job and move to Texas. I will move sometime in the next 10-14 days.



If you're new to this corner of the world, I'm a teacher. I teach high-school in a very small town. Not only does this decision have a huge impact on me and my life, it is going to have a major impact on my students, the kids I hold dear to my heart. They are my babies. I love them with a love you can only know as a teacher. I ache for the ones I know won't adjust well. I ache for the sub who's life may feel miserable for a bit until my students trust her more and miss me less.

I've received a lot of negativity about leaving. I've been told I'm being irresponsible and inconsiderate to break my contract. I've been told that I'm not trying hard enough to make it work, and that if I tried hard enough, I could last until the end of the school year. I've been told that I'm letting my students down. I've been begged by students to stay here. I've been told that "husbands are overrated anyway", in joking of course, but the message still stuck.

I've also received a lot of positive feedback about my decision. For most people, I've just explained it simply: "Well, my husband started a new job six weeks ago, and we are experiencing some family crises right now and after much thought and prayer, I feel like I need to be with him to help take care of my family." It's a simple answer that most people respect and/or admire. Even my students respect it. Some students have seen through that story, though, and have realized that it's not just "family issues" or "family crises." I've confided to a few people (the students who have seen through me, along with some faculty members) that it's not just "family stuff"--it is, in fact, marital stuff. My marriage is at risk. Only two people at school know the real issue comes down to porn stuff.

So, I'm moving to Texas, right now, in the middle of the school year, for what feels like a true effort to save my marriage (that "save my marriage" part stems from recent developments/disclosures/trauma since he moved to Texas).  

My marriage is at risk. I hate saying that. But I'm trying to embrace it, I guess.

My marriage is at risk. My marriage is at risk. My marriage is at risk. [Betrayal trauma is real.]

I know I am not in control of what happens here. I know there are so many factors that are completely not up to me. I know I can only do so much, and I know I can't control his addiction. But, I do feel that I need to go to Texas. I have received spiritual confirmation, and no amount of people criticizing this decision or thinking of the alternative will make me change my mind. Sure, it adds stress, but I know this is the right move on my part.

I'm making a lot of sacrifices to do this.

I also have a lot of fear. There are so many what-ifs. [Betrayal trauma is real.]

I'm a little angry that I feel like my marriage is in such a desperate state. It's not fair. This was not supposed to be my life. And, heck, I've only been married for three and a half years. I'm too young to feel so much pain and heartache.

I keep learning new things about my husband's addiction.

I also keep having panic attacks. Like with chest pains and breathing difficulty. [Betrayal trauma is real!]

Sometimes I don't know if I can go on. But I do (and I realize that I have literally been carried by God for more days than I can count. He has certainly not left me alone).

I took some time tonight to list in my journal questions that haunt my mind:

Do I believe in love?
What is love?
Is love even attainable?
Will I be able to trust Ben again?
Is my marriage capable of being saved?
Will we ever have what I thought we had, or will we ever have something even close to that, or even better?
Can we make it joyfully?
Will I love him?
Will I desire him--and receive a good version of him in return?

As I pondered these questions, all I could think of was, "All can be made right through the Atonement." There is hope. If there was no hope, there would be no Atonement. I know Christ performed the Atonement. Therefore, I have hope.

Just because I have hope doesn't mean I'm not broken right now.

I am broken.

But I can be made whole.
So can Ben.

ps, I have a recent obsession with Christina Perri. I've always liked her, but her recent songs just speak to me so much right now.

So, in case you're interested:

"I've had enough. I'm standing up. I need, I need a change...I'm setting fire to the life that I know. We start a fire everywhere that we go. We starting fires, we starting fires, till our lives are burning gold."

The next video resonates with me because it's kind of desperate. And I feel like I can relate to the pain and desire to just want to love. 

This one is dedicated to the lonely ache that takes the place where love and trust was:

I could list way more. But maybe I'll save them for my next post. Ha.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gathering Your Bearings After D-Day

Three years ago this month was my first d-day. Happy death day, everyone...Just kidding (did you laugh? I laughed just writing it). I believe d-day gives the power for a re-birth. It's not the end. It's the beginning.

Whether d-day to you stands for "discovery day" or "disclosure day", the effect is about the same on any spouse in this situation:

You are devastated.
You feel broken.
You feel used and violated.
You feel like your life has been a lie.
Part of you has died.
You are lost in despair and hopelessness.
You are angry--so, so angry. And sad.
You are disgusted--both with yourself and your spouse.
You feel lost.
You feel alone.
You are confused.
You feel worthless.
You feel abused.
You feel empty, desolate, and bleak.
You fall into a state of shock.
You are traumatized--the post-traumatic-stress-disorder kind of traumatized.
Your life has been cut-off--murdered to a certain degree.
You are in a state of chaos--flailing, drowning.
You cry. A lot. Maybe you add in some throwing and breaking things. And possibly punching, kicking, and screaming.
Your trust has been shattered. And when trust goes...well, it seems that everything else goes along with it.

To sum it up, it is HELL. Discovering your spouse is a sex-addict is hell. It's the darkest that hell has to offer. Facing the consequences of that fact day after day is hell. Fighting the battle against Satan, even as a team with your spouse, is hell.

When this hell is thrust upon you, there are two directions you could go. You could search for hope and healing, or you could allow the despair to swamp you, lose hope, and fall into a state of depression. I've done both at different times in my recovery and after different d-days. Despair, hopelessness, and depression are not my ideal.

Three years down this road, I've learned a thing or two. There are so many things I wish I could say to my six-month-newly-wed self to ease the burden and the pain. However, when it comes down to it, this has been a beautiful road. I've learned and grown a lot. I can look at myself in the mirror and say, "Wow, that is a strong woman. Look how beautiful you are." and that is a dramatic change from this time three years ago. Three years ago, I was in a state of hell, as listed above. And I didn't know what to do.

So, how do you get your bearings after d-day? How do you get your head to stop spinning? How do you get your feet on the ground?

1) Know that your life isn't over. I know the feeling. It's oh-so-hard to pull out of the despair and think even for a second that everything is not over. It's not. This is the beginning of a new you. You have the power to choose whether or not you heal, and if you choose healing, you will become polished and strong. You will shine with light that you have never felt before, and you can become a beacon of strength and light for others around you.

2) Understand that healing takes time. There is a whole process you have to go through to fully heal. I'm not there yet, but I'm on the road. I no longer feel controlled by my emotions. I am discovering ways to allow my emotions to work their course and then let go of them. It's been three years. I'm on the road to true healing. I'm not there yet, but I'm discovering hope and strength along the way, and I know that in time, I will find true healing.

3) Reach out for help. It's so easy to slip into isolation: from friends, family, and God. I was silent for too long. I didn't tell anyone for over a year because I was convinced by church leaders that it "had to stay in the marriage." That is absolutely not true. Have a support network: you're gonna need it. That's not to say run out and tell the whole world. As you explore this idea, you will be led to a network of "safe people" that you can turn to in times of need. They don't even have to know everything, but at least having someone to go to will be a tremendous help.

 In reaching out for help, finding a counselor will be crucial. I waited too long for that as well, thinking I could manage this by my own methods. Having a professional to confide in, who can give me tactics to manage my stress/anxiety/depression, has been one of the best choices of my recovery.

 Other ways to reach out include joining forums, blogging, connecting with other women (through blogs/forums/12-step groups), and talking to your "safe people."

You are not alone. You may feel so lost and alone, but other women are in the same situation. As you reach out for help, you may find others struggling too. As you engage in forums or blogging, you will find that other women are there too. And you always have God. He is always by your side.

4) Allow yourself to feel. If you "tough it out", you will break sooner or later, and it will likely be worse than just facing it head-on from the get-go. Feeling comes before healing. Allow yourself to mourn. Let the grieving process cycle through you. If you allow yourself to feel the emotions swimming around in you, you will feel validated and be able to move on. If you constantly shove it away, it will add pressure on you internally, and that pressure will eventually explode in the worst way.

5) As you feel, be compassionate and gentle with yourself. Try not to minimize what you are going through. It's hard. And it's okay that it's hard. Being mean to yourself won't help. Practice self-compassion.

Remind yourself that this isn't your fault. One of Satan's greatest tools is to make us believe that we somehow are to blame for this--that we aren't pretty enough, sexy enough, or fulfilling for our husbands. This is not true. When those lies come into your brain, be gentle with yourself and remind yourself of your worth. The addiction doesn't define you. And it is most definitely not your fault.

6) Do research and find resources. Learn about addiction, especially sex-addiction. Understand what is going on with the brain, and realize that your spouse is not addiction. He (or she) may be an addict, but he is also more than the addiction. Finding resources, both for understanding the addiction and to progress your own healing, is so important.

Here is a brief list of online resources:;;; There are also great books and CDs out there to help with healing.

7) Set boundaries. Setting boundaries allows you to have the space you need to heal. Boundaries keep you safe from the volatile mess you live with when you are dealing with an addict.

8) Take time for self-care. To put it simply, self-care means doing the things you need to do to promote your overall wellness. Take care of yourself. It's critical that you do so! Don't lose yourself because of the addiction.

Some ideas: painting, exercising, stretching, eating healthy, eating treats, smelling yummy candles, shopping, praying, meditating, taking a hot bath, and listening to healing music.

9) Recognize your divinity. Your worth is not based on your husband. It is not based on your appearance. It is based solely on the fact that you are a child of God. He loves you so much, and He will help carry you through this.

10) Look for God. It's so easy to fall into despair and depression. It's easy to think God has abandoned you and to take your anger out on Him. One thing I've learned is that He is always there. Sometimes I am blind to it, though, because I don't open my eyes. I am so consumed with my grief and depression that I choose not to see Him. When I choose to see Him, I always find the ways He is blessing me, and that helps me feel light and hope.

Throughout my journey as I've fought sex-addiction in my marriage, I've had multiple d-days. Every time is a new learning experience. I don't know that I'd change my experience, as it's brought me to the woman I am now. But if I went back in time to give the "little"-me tips on how to manage and tread through the aftermath of d-day, this list would help pull me through.

Remember, this isn't the end. It's the beginning.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Atonement Case Study

Hi friends!

One of my readers invited me to participate in the Atonement Case Study. It's a project that has been created with the goal to help people understand how the Atonement works. In the end, the creators of this case-study will be coming out with a book that discusses what the Atonement is and how we can access the power of the Atonement in our lives.

I'm sharing this on my blog to help them get more people to take their survey. It's a really interesting project. Please check it out!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

An Unexpected Lesson Learned

On Thursday night I went visiting teaching. If you aren't LDS (Mormon), I'll give you a little background. If you are, feel free to skip this part.

In our church, we have a women's organization called the Relief Society. There are three purposes of this organization: 1) Increase faith and personal righteousness, 2) Strengthen families and homes, and 3) Seek out and help those in need. As part of fulfilling those purposes, we have what is called visiting teaching. To put it simply, we are assigned a companion (there is power and strength in numbers) and are asked to visit specific women in our congregation each month. As we visit these women, we focus on meeting their needs (physical, emotional, etc.) and being a spiritual strength to one another. Ideally, we become friends who really and truly care about one another. When visiting teaching is done right, it is a very fulfilling and uplifting experience on all sides and a truly inspired program.

This month I was assigned a new companion and my list of people to visit changed. I went with my companion to visit a lady who hadn't had visiting teachers come in a long time, and she also hasn't come to church in a long time. We were a little nervous to visit her, but we had an amazingly fantastic visit. I could write tons about what I learned just about the process of visiting teaching that night, but that's not what I'm writing about. I want to write about what I learned about hardships, strength, and vulnerability from this particular visit.

In this post, I will refer to my companion as Ashley and the lady we were visiting as Melissa (not their real names).

As we chatted and to get to know one another, Ashley said, "Melissa, I want to know what has been your hardest trial along with your greatest success in the past month." Melissa thought for a second, but she didn't come up with anything right away (and let's be honest, she probably felt very on the spot). Ashley asked me if I would start. I thought for a second, and then I felt the Spirit burn within my heart, and I shared a very recent story that I will summarize here:

You all know that I've had a hard time lately. Ben recently moved to TX to start his new job, and I've been back in Arkansas fulfilling my responsibilities at school (and learning about more porn, more lies, and having very uncomfortable disclosures, so...). To say it has been hard is minimal. The past month has been among the most hellish of any month since I've been married and have faced the world of porn and infidelity. I didn't go into details with Ashley and Melissa about what is going on in my marriage other than simply saying we are having a really hard time, and he has done some pretty bad things to our relationship, and I would be warranted in getting a divorce if I really wanted to right now. So with that and everything that has happened recently, I've put a lot of thought and prayer in making a HUGE decision. That decision was to resign from my teaching job. Teaching has been my dream since as long as I can remember. But because I've been so depressed this whole school year, and I've given so much time and energy to my school and my students, and because my relationship with my husband is suffering so badly (along with other stressors such as finances, medical, infertility, and so on), I feel that I have to quit right now. It's brought a lot of heartache and mourning (but as my counselor-friend pointed out just yesterday, I need to mourn this stuff and also realize that mourning is different from regret. I don't regret my decision, I'm just mourning my losses right now). Making the decision to quit and move to TX at the end of this month is one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. Telling my principal was one of the hardest things I've ever done. And I'm anticipating something even harder: telling my students. They will be heartbroken because, not to brag or anything, they love me. I'm a great teacher, and I have a way with teenagers. I love them, and they love me. So this is just really hard.

But this exhaustingly hard experience has also been my greatest strength this month. I feel strong in the process I've taken to make this decision. I feel strong in my faith in God and my ability to follow His plan and give my will over to Him. I know I'm doing the right thing for God, my future, my relationship with Ben, and my mental/emotional health. I know I need time right now, and I don't have that time while I'm giving my all to my students.

I feel strength surging through me. I know God is giving me strength and peace as I take these baby steps closer to Him. I know without a doubt I am doing the right thing even though it is scary and hard.

As I talked to these women about my hardship and strength, we all felt the Spirit very strongly in the room. As Ashley and Melissa both told their stories, I discovered something. I've already known this, but it was  very validated by the Spirit that night: Our hardest times can lead to our greatest strengths and the greatest blessings. Both Ashley and Melissa's hardest trial and greatest strength were related, just as mine were. I thought it was amazing how each one of us were thinking of two stories to share--one hard and one strengthening--and we all three ended up sharing one story that incorporated both of those elements.

It's true that our hardest times can lead to our greatest strengths and blessings. Haven't I seen that over and over? Because of this trial (the porn crap) in my life, I have gained strength I never knew was possible at my young age. I have a strong testimony of and strength in the Atonement. I have strong faith and ability to understand the Spirit and follow God's will. I'm not perfect by any means, but I know I have grown in insane amounts over the past three years. This trial has also given me great blessings, not only in my strength, but particularly in the friendships I have formed as I have sought healing. And a stronger vulnerability in my marriage. Stronger hope in my marriage. Stronger understanding of the gospel. Everything good is directly related to the bad and hard. I can't hate this experience because if I hated it or wished it away, I wouldn't have all the good I have now.

I said at the beginning of this post that my visiting teaching experience on Thursday taught me about hardships, strength, and vulnerability. Here is what I learned about vulnerability: Vulnerability is crucial. It's simple, but listen to how I learned it.

As I said, Ashley and I didn't know Melissa at all. She hadn't been to church in a long time, and she hadn't had any visiting teachers visit her in an even longer time. We started with small talk and asking the usual questions. But then Ashley boldly expressed very real things. She talked about her "pet peeves" with visiting teaching and promised Melissa that she would not be that kind of visiting teacher to her. As she talked, she said, "We are now officially friends. I'm not ever going to ask you what we can do for you when we visit you. Because we are friends, and when friends are in need, we tell each other. And when we think our friends are in need and they haven't told us, we act on it anyway." As she talked, both Melissa and I cried because of the spirit and light Ashley carried as she was vulnerable with Melissa. With that vulnerability, we all had an instant bond and an increase in trust.

The other part that taught me about vulnerability was the question Ashley asked during the "getting to know you" chatting: "Tell me about your hardest trial and your greatest strength in the past month." That opened up a very honest, vulnerable, and spiritual conversation. We got to know one another on a much deeper level than I have ever experienced on a first visiting teaching visit. I left that house feeling a bond with both Ashley and Melissa. I left feeling trust, not only in them, but in God.

I'm working on vulnerability in my marriage. It's hard because my trust has not just been broken, it's been shattered. But I'm finding as I am vulnerable with my husband, even in the smallest ways, it mends something broken in our relationship.

There is power in vulnerability. Granted, it's hard. It's so hard to be vulnerable, open, and honest when your husband has been a liar and a sneak. There are many levels of vulnerability, and it works best when both people are vulnerable with one another. Right now I'm being a surface level of vulnerability with my husband. But I know that our relationship can't grow stronger without that vulnerability. As we are both vulnerable, I feel things mending and strengthening, and it gives me hope for my marriage in the future.

This visit taught me a great lesson. Sure things are hard right now, but I am counting my blessings. And sure, sometimes I have no clue what to do with my relationship with Ben, but I have tools to use, and I'm learning the power of vulnerability. Things are good. They are hard, but they really are beautiful.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Constancy and Hope

The strength in my relationship with God is growing.

When we are faced with tough trials, we are given two choices: we can draw closer to God, or we can decide He doesn't exist or doesn't care, thus creating distance between ourselves and God. We may even experience a combination of those two choices. There are many reasons we might withdraw from God (and many reasons I have withdrawn from God on occasion), but the joys of coming closer to Him are tremendous.

I remember a time when anger was a constant in my body. I was angry with God for encouraging me to marry Ben. I was angry that Ben had betrayed me on so many levels. I was angry that I couldn't see the future and know what would happen. I was angry that I felt so lost and alone. I was angry that I was living this reality. Because this anger was in constant existence in my body, I started having panic attacks and losing the ability to cope with anything, really. I also stopped reading my scriptures and saying heartfelt prayers for a time.

I couldn't tell you how long that phase lasted. I just remember it being there, and it was a growing experience for me. When I look back and think of where I was versus where I am now, there is such a shift. Yes, I still have panic attacks, and I'm not that great at dealing with stress and change. Yes, I feel angry, lost, alone, and confused sometimes. And yes, I have the worst depression I've ever experienced. BUT, I see God every day. Despite all the negatives in my life, God is now my constant, and I find more joy and peace than I ever have before.

Without a doubt, I know God lives. I don't know how He works, and I don't understand everything (or anything, really), but I know He is there. As I study scripture and gain a strength in my understanding and security of my relationship with Him through prayer, it is becoming easier to recognize that He is there, and He always has been (even when I withdrew). When bad things happen, I no longer question the plan (well, okay, I question the plan. But I no longer try to change the plan or think God isn't mindful of me just because things aren't going according to my plan). Rather than questioning His plan, I am trying to embrace it. I am really trying to turn my will over to Him and let things happen as they should.

I'm finding that God knows best. He's always known best. Occasionally He gives us little glimpses into eternity so we can see that His plan is working. On those occasions in my life, I see and feel that things shouldn't be happening any other way, and I see how beautiful His plan really is.

I know that no matter what, God is with me.

I know that salvation is free.

I know that it is His grace that enables me and gives me strength.

I know that the mercy and love of Jesus Christ are what is healing me. I know I could do nothing without Him.

I know that this same grace and mercy allows my husband to repent and me to forgive him.

I know that I will be raised up in immortality if I keep true to God: if I emulate Him, seek His will, and live with charity in my heart.

I have so much hope. I know that divorce is an option now, but I have hope in my marriage. I really do. Because I have hope in the power of repentance and forgiveness through the Atonement, I have hope in my marriage. But even if my marriage doesn't work out, I have hope in the power of healing from this trauma through the Atonement. I have a general hope for my own personal peace and happiness in the future. I have hope that I will enter God's presence again, and for that moment, I jump for joy.