Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hold on to What You Know

My heart is so filled. I don't really know what I was expecting with my last post and hitting "share" on Facebook, but the response has been overwhelmingly beautiful. Thank you to everyone who was courageous enough to share my post. Thank you for everyone who was courageous enough to reach out to me (or others) and Ben. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are fighting with us!


Yesterday, I talked to a dear friend on the phone for a very long time. It was the first time in years that we have been able to talk with so much vulnerability. I was brought to tears as I expressed my love for her, talked about my story, and the reasons why I hadn't been able to tell her. She, like many other people who have contacted me in the last couple of days, spoke of how my faith has been so touching.

Here's the thing. I don't feel like I am outstanding in any way. I don't feel like my faith is exceptionally strong, either. In fact, I want to tell you something:

I have really struggled with a faith crisis because of this. I have especially struggled over the past month, specifically since my episode with my bishop. That happened after the Togetherness Project, and while there, I had heard other horrible stories about church leaders. It all shook me to the core. How could men of the church be so cold and not understanding? And how could God let this happen to us? We didn't ask for this. My life is full of beautiful women, struggling to keep their life together because of this plague. Why can't God make this a little easier on us? You can see a little bit of my faith crisis coming through in this post, but it has run even deeper than just this.

So many times throughout this experience, I have been completely clouded in darkness. And you know what? I now understand why people would choose to leave the church, any church, and choose to not believe in God. It almost seems easier that way. It's so easy to forget the light and just sit in an angry fit of rage (Believe me, I've done it. And it's also made me miserable, and it's been that much harder to reach for the light again when I realized darkness was not what I wanted. Once you sit in darkness, the hole gets deeper. And maybe you don't want to crawl out. Or maybe it's just hard). And then, it's easy to just move on. I have seen so many women who have left the church or chosen not to believe in God, and they say they are so much happier. I have envied them little bit.

But I can't do that. Last week I thought long and hard about this, my faith crisis. I have a friend who found out just after the Togetherness Project (which she attended because she really connected with all of us, and I thank God that she did) that her ex-husband was addicted to pornography. It sent her spiraling. As we talked on the phone about it, and she was really struggling, I said, "Wendy, hold on to what you know." I'm so glad I said that to her because she has now said that to me several times, and it keeps me going.

Because of revelation I have received, because of the light I have felt, and because I feel that I truly know God and Jesus Christ, I just can't choose to leave my church or God. I know too much.

I know that God lives. I know I have a loving Father in Heaven who is just as distraught as I am that this is happening to me. He doesn't want to see me in pain, but He is letting me work through it and find my path to Him. He has given me tools to get there. He has a plan, and I am trying to follow it. As I follow His guidance, I will find joy and happiness in the process of returning to Him. Most importantly, my Father has provided me with a Savior. I know this. I know I can lean on Jesus Christ not only to repent when I do wrong, but also to protect me, guide me, and give me healing for the pains I am suffering.

I am holding on to that. I am clinging to what I know.

I also know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. Reading it has changed me, especially this time around. I finished it earlier this year and immediately started over. And since I started over, I have found so much to be applicable to my life and my journey to find Christ (and since I started over is when all hell broke loose in our marriage, so it was even more crucial for me to find the stuff I'm finding in that book). I can't deny that. I can't deny what I know. And that is why I can't let it go.

I have been able to see through this pain to know that God has a plan for me. I have tried so hard to stay close to him (except for when I haven't). Going "public" with my blog was a really scary thing. But, like I said, it's been beautiful. I feel truly humbled. I have incredibly seen how God has, in fact, been guiding me to this point. Had we not followed the prompting to share our stories, I wouldn't have met so many amazing people. And those who have come to me in complete gratitude would not have been touched the way they were.

I'm sincerely not saying any of this to brag. I am just completely in awe of how God has allowed me to be His servant and a hand of light for Him. Because of all of you, I feel even more inspired to continue staying on the path that I am walking. I am grateful to YOU for how you have touched my life.

I know what I have said in this post could be controversial to some. I wouldn't want anyone to think I am being self-righteous or judge those who have left the church (any church) or chosen to not believe in God. I respect everyone's ability to choose for themselves, and I certainly don't judge anyone for making choices they have made in efforts to come to peace with their life. This is just my story and my testimony. Please respect what I have to say as much as I respect what you have to say.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hello World

I have something to tell you. Some of you know this, but many of you don't. I'm going to say something that might shock you and will very likely cause some discomfort. I'm not one to beat around the bush. I've learned from experience that I prefer straightforward honesty. So, that being said, I'd encourage you to read this through rather than just shut down because of the discomfort you will feel in about two seconds.


I'm married to a sex-addict.

I know, right? Ben? Yeah right. Haha, me too. I almost couldn't believe it when he told me three years ago.


I'm not going to go into the details of our story. You can find that by reading my blog, if you so choose. I want to focus on WHY I'm telling you this. Because that is the important thing.

I know it may be shocking that I'm announcing this to "the world." Have faith in me that I've put a lot of thought and prayer into this decision.

I do also ask that you be respectful of the fact that I just invited you into my space, a space where only select individuals have been invited before. This is my place of healing. Most of the people who have been reading my blog previous to this moment are addicts or spouses of addicts. If you do choose to go read my story or previous blog posts, keep in mind that I'm on a journey of healing. There are ups and downs. Feel free to leave comments or ask me questions, but know I reserve the right to delete any comment I feel is inappropriate or discourteous of me and my journey.

Here we go.


Pornography in Society

Back when I thought Ben was perfect, I never would have suspected this. And I never would have understood or knew how to handle it if one of my friends came to me and said, "Hey, my husband is addicted to looking at porn and masturbation," or any of the other things I've heard my friends say about their sex-addict husbands (affairs, strip clubs, brothels, etc.). My eyes have been opened up to what is going on in the world in a major way since sex-addiction became a part of my life.

Let's talk about statistics. Here is a good resource. Here is another resource.
  • At the time I am writing this post, porn has been searched over 867 million times since the beginning of 2014. (I started writing this last Thursday. That number has now become over 891 million as of Monday.)
  • On mobile devices, one in five searches are for pornography.
  • One quarter of smartphone users admit to having porn on their phone.
  • 51% of pastors say pornography is a temptation.
  • 50% of Christian men, and 20% of Christian women admit to being addicted to pornography.
  • 51% of boys and 32% of girls view porn before age 12.
Do those statistics make you squirm a bit?

Pornography is plaguing society.

People don't want to talk about it. Pornography is gross. People who look at porn are gross. Well, guess what? If statistics are accurate, if your husband isn't addicted to porn, then your best friend's husband is (statistically speaking. I'm definitely not accusing anyone here--just making a point). Yeah. Is your husband gross? Is your best friend's husband gross? Is my husband gross?

The answer to those questions could be maybe, or even yes. But my point is, just because someone is addicted to pornography doesn't mean they should automatically be shunned. Nor does it mean the spouse is a fool for staying and should be shunned. It means this is big.

Sex-Addicts and Their Spouses Need Help

Sex-addicts need help. Some of them don't consider it an addiction--just a problem they are handling on their own. Some are in denial that it's even a problem. But research shows that pornography isn't just harmful because of Christian or moral values. Pornography is harmful for many reasons. For more info, click here.

Spouses of sex-addicts need help. We experience what is called Betrayal Trauma, which has symptoms similar to or the same as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This trauma is real. And it doesn't go away quickly.

Help is hard to find for the spouses. It is, however, becoming easier to find than it was a few years ago--thanks to people who are speaking up and taking action. Click here and here for a couple lists of resources. 

Unfortunately, much of society doesn't like to talk about things that are uncomfortable. I've been told by multiple people that this is something we just don't talk about. And, sure, not everyone needs to announce this on their Facebook feed or to the whole "world." Here is why I am:

I want you to know about this part of my life because I lived in silence for so long.

Silence is a Killer

Addiction thrives in silence and secrecy. I'm learning that depression does too. I have to be fake around so many people because talking about my depression is uncomfortable (Maybe for me, maybe for them. Either way, being vulnerable is scary. People can react and have reacted in so many different ways). People don't know what to say. That's okay. I don't know what to say to myself half the time either. What's not okay is the fact that I, we--the other beautiful women I know who are in this situation as well--are told not to talk about it.

We are told not to talk about it by many people:
  • Our addict husbands, who are embarrassed, full of shame, and pretending to be perfect to everyone around them.
  • Church leaders, parents, and friends.
  • Sometimes counselors.
  • Ourselves--through negative self-talk.
We need to talk about it. And we need empathy and love.

Guess what? You probably know someone dealing with this (other than us). You just don't know they are dealing with it.

Guess what else? Everyone you know has a story. Whether it's this kind of story or not doesn't matter. We all have stories. We all suffer pain in some kind of way, but we don't talk about it because we live in a society that stifles vulnerability.

We need vulnerability. We need realness. We need compassion.

When that lady at the grocery store doesn't seem to be handling her two-year old very well, don't judge her. Show compassion. Maybe her husband just confessed his most recent relapse and she can barely even breathe.

If your friend stops shaving her legs. Or showering. Or she wears the same outfit every day for days on end. Show some compassion. Her mind might be reeling because her husband just disclosed something awful.

If you notice your friend feeding her kids cereal and ice cream for dinner on a regular basis. Her husband might be a sex-addict.

If your friend is wearing shoes that don't match. Or two bras. Or no bra. Her husband might be a sex-addict.

If your friend's house in a state of constant disarray. Or her kids put themselves to bed often. Or her kids eat crackers for dinner often. And she can't remember the last time the kids bathed. Her husband might be a sex-addict.

If your friend is starting to seclude herself from social activities and stops answering her phone or receiving house-calls. Her husband might be a sex-addict.

If your friend's kids miss way too much school. Or if they watch way too many movies during the day. Her husband might be a sex-addict.

Now, granted, none of those things mean that person is married to a sex-addict. Remember, I said might. But they could certainly be a red flag for some kind of life crisis. Each of those things have happened to me or someone I know who is married to a sex-addict. We, the wives of sex-addicts, know crisis. We know survival. We eat, breathe, sleep survival. Each item on the list above is a sign of survival-mode. We all need compassion to get through survival mode.

When I was stuck in my silence, I felt dead. Then, I found ways to reach out. Slowly, over the past three years, I have found more support. That support has come because I was brave enough to be vulnerable with people. That courage has helped both me and Ben progress in our healing. It has also allowed us to be a support to other people.

Ending the Silence

And now I want to say to you: If you or your spouse struggles with sex-addiction (masturbation/pornography/other sexual behaviors), you can get help. And you don't have to be alone. There is a tremendous community of support just waiting for you. There are hundreds of people to love and help take care of you. There are tons of resources that can help you. Books, counselors, therapy programs (even free ones), 12-step groups, websites with oodles of information. You don't have to be alone and shrouded in darkness anymore!

No one can overcome this on their own. We need each other.

If you need to find support, feel free to contact me. I have people. My people have people. We will take care of you.

Whoever you are, you are loved. You are loved by God. You are loved by me. You are loved by my friends and support people.

Maybe you've been going through hell. Me too. Hang in there. We want to help you.

Even if you think this does not apply to you, please share this post. You have no idea who might be struggling with this.

Ben and I are going to start talking about this more openly. Like I said, silence is a killer. We both need to be able to talk about it. There is a twofold goal with this. One is to find those in need of help and give them a place to go and reach out. Three years ago, had we had all the resources we have now, we would probably be in a much different place (though I wouldn't trade this journey/healing/learning process for anything). The other is to help ourselves so we can continue on our journey to healing. It's not over for us. Our recovery and healing will be a life-long journey. We are just opening up now so we can serve and heal more fully. Because this is an issue that needs to be talked about in society. Ideally, everyone should feel safe enough to open up.

And last, whatever your story is, I want to share this with you:

"Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do."

"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness."

 --Brené Brown.

Thanks for reading. You're welcome to continue following My Walk.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Why I Stay

Read the first three posts: 1, 2, 3.

Back when we were dating, I remember asking God to help me love Ben if I was supposed to. When you're dating, there are big decisions ahead. The big decisions could be things like wondering if it's time to break up or to more forward in the relationship.

For me, dating was all a confusing mess. I was dealing with a lot at the time, both in my dating life and my personal life. Ultimately, I had pure motivations. I wanted to follow God. I didn't know what God had in store for me, I had faith that God knew the plan. I had faith that He would guide me, and I had faith in following His plan. I knew if I did what He directed, I would live the life that could bring me the fullest joy and bring me back to Him.

Dating Ben was complicated. Here I had a man who I knew loved me, but for some reason I couldn't love him back. It took me a while. I've since learned that I had suppressed trauma and that led me to have a hard time forming serious, committed dating relationships. At the time, however, I just felt craziness and confusion spinning around in my head. So I prayed. I felt like it wasn't fair for Ben to love me so much. I felt like it wasn't fair for me to put him through everything I had (dating him, not dating him, dating him again. not dating him again). So I prayed, asking God what to do. I asked God to help me love him if that was what I was supposed to do. I knew if my plan included Ben, God would help me love him.

I find it ironic that I did that while we were dating. I had no obligation to love him. I just felt like we had been through too much, and I cared about him too much, to think that nothing would ever seriously happen between us. It's kind of weird. But, looking back, I see that I learned a valuable lesson about turning to and trusting God through that whole dating experience.

Let's talk about now.

When I manage to pull out of the depression and anger to really evaluate what is going on, I know that now is not the time to leave my marriage. I've seriously contemplated separation. We were separated in February and March--February with minimal contact, and March with more frequent contact. I've contemplated separation again, but right now I don't know if that's right. I think it would be more of an escape rather than a boundary. I feel like right now, we are supposed to be working together. Together, not separated.

Whether or not I ask for a separation, I'm not planning on leaving the marriage for good (at least not right now. I do know it's a possibility in the future). I'm choosing to stay. This is why:

1. I feel like God wants me to. And no matter what, I will try to have faith in that and follow God's plan for me.
2. I have hope. While things are certainly hard and trying, I have hope that Ben will be healed, I will be healed, and our marriage will be healed.
3. I am growing. If God wants me to stay, at the very least I can see that I am growing and developing strength and faith that will help me, and help me help others, throughout my life.
4. I love Ben. Sometimes I hate him, but deep down, I love him. I'm not ready nor willing to give up everything we've fought for. Right now, I won't accept no as an answer from him. He will be in recovery, and he will be healed. (We'll see how that goes. I, in reality, have no say over his being in recovery.)

My love for Ben and my love for God are driving me to stay. I really do have hope that Ben will be healed because I have hope in the Atonement, and I have hope in light's power over darkness. It helps that Ben has made a lot of progress in the past few years. Even though his progress can be fickle, I do know that if he weren't making progress, we would be living a whole different story.

As we uncover more and more how the addiction has harmed our marriage, sometimes my life feels empty and dark. But, I have hope because the only reason "we" are uncovering more and more about the addiction is because of the work Ben is doing. He is in recovery. He isn't perfect, but he is progressing.

Ben isn't always honest, but he is much more honest with himself and me than he used to be.
He is also getting better at communicating icky, emotional things that are uncomfortable to discuss.
He loves me too.
His empathy for me is ever-increasing as he realizes the impact the addiction has on me and on our marriage. And he tries to empathize and understand me.
He is getting better at shame-busting.

He does a lot for me, too. I don't want to get all sappy and talk about all the cute things he does. But, if he didn't have the addiction, I probably couldn't imagine a life any different or better. So, he's got that going for him. Now, if only we could get rid of the stupid addiction...

The moral of the story is I have hope. And I'm grateful for a husband who is trying. I keep telling him, as long as he tries, I will try. If he stops trying, and I know there is no hope to get the real Ben back, that is likely when I will stop trying as well. That is when we should be really worried for our marriage.

Right now, I'm staying. Even thought it all sucks. The light I feel from hope will conquer the darkness I feel from the crappiness of my situation. Lately, I've had more dark days than light. But I'm trying to turn that around. Light is supposed to win.

And I know things. I know God. I know Jesus Christ. I know with them, I will win, whatever winning is. I will win because of them. That's what I'm holding on to. Faith and hope.

I started writing this little saga on Monday. It was supposed to be a post about the irony of my life right now. But then I started getting into more detailed processing, which is why it has turned into four posts. I just want to say thank you for loving and supporting me as I've processed my hurt and anger right now. I was stuffing it inside instead of dealing with it. I'm glad I could finally attempt to deal with it. And Wendy, don't worry. I'm holding on to what I know. Thanks for keeping me in line :D

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I'm mad. And tired. And blessed.

Read the first two posts of this particular part of my story: Dating Ben and The irony.

I've had our story on my mind so much lately. I'm hurting. I'm hurting for what has been lost because of the addiction. I'm mourning the life I had, or thought I had, and desired. My life will never be the same.

I got a big disclosure back in February. It's taken many steps to gain trust back. Ben entered "real recovery" and was doing so well. We even decided it was time to start trying to have a baby again (Personal decision. Don't ask. Don't judge.).

Last week he masturbated.

Part of me is like, "it's just masturbation." Seriously, how desensitized can I get? And how desperate to believe that my life isn't falling apart?

Here is what I think about "just masturbation": Go to hell, stupid thought.

Okay, here is what I really think about masturbation. I think I deserve better than someone who "self-pleases". I also deserve better than someone who will fantasize about having sex with another woman. I recognize that this is an addiction, and these behaviors aren't necessarily about sex (though I think they are sometimes), but about an improper way of dealing with life. For a while I rationalized masturbation with him because I didn't understand it (and I'm sure I still don't). And he always said that I couldn't expect him to be perfect because he was addicted. Well guess what? I can expect full fidelity from him. AND, if things are triggering him, I can expect him to talk to me about it. Especially when I ask how things are going. And if he has fought the fight with all his might and still acts out, then maybe I would be less mad at his actions because I know his heart was in the right place and he was trying. But last week, I asked him how he was doing. I was out of town and knew it was hard on him. He kept telling me he was fine. He did not once let me in to even have a clue that bad things were happening in his mind and his fences were being torn down.

So I'm mad. I'm mad at much more than just the masturbation.

I'm mad at infidelity.

I'm mad at lies.

With his relapse has come a lot of dark thoughts. Among them is the only-too-familiar "I've thought about leaving you and living in my addiction." That, above all else, makes me the most angry. He can't freaking leave me. If anyone leaves, it's me. I'm the one who gets to leave. He doesn't deserve to leave me. He is lucky he still has me. We are fighting to overcome this addiction and the ruin it's caused our marriage. I've given so much. I've sacrificed so much. And now, after already having worked through this before, I'm living (again) with this fear that I won't be enough. That his love for me won't be enough. That he will choose porn and sex over me.

So I'm mad. I'm angry. I'm furious and fuming.

I'm mad that my life will never be the same.
I have hope that one day it will be great, but right now it sucks sometimes.

And that's okay. Because I'm learning and growing.

I realized this week, that in all my anger lately, I have been stepping away from the Atonement. I'm just tired of trying. It's such an effort sometimes. And sometimes all I can do is get by. Those times have their place in life, I think. But right now, I need to start reaching out to Christ more. Even if all I do is try to survive, I know I need to reach out to Him to help me survive. It's only through Him that I will get through this. I know that, but sometimes I forget because I feel worthless and broken.

I read this talk by Elder Holland this morning.

I was struck by so many things:

I was reminded to have compassion (I'll say for myself, for the addict, and for those around me. I need to start being more aware and reaching out in compassion to others who need service.).

I was reminded that I am in the pursuit of godliness. My trials will either bring me closer or farther away. I have a choice right now, and I'm going to choose closer to God.

I was reminded that my faith in Christ will lift me up.

I need to seek the spirit and choose not to harden my heart against God.

I was reminded that I'm not alone in my depression (hey, guys, I suffer from DEPRESSION). And the things I'm feeling as a result of my depression are REAL.

I was reminded that "if things continue to be debilitating" I need to "seek the advice of reputable people with certified training." (which I will discuss with my bishop relatively soon)

I need to be patient. And mindful of and grateful for small victories.

"...if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead."

I am more than my limitations and afflictions. 

I also read this verse--Alma 14:24: "How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound."

As I read that verse, I was reminded of the cords that bind us in our marriages as we fight this addiction. Sometimes we feel stuck and bound. I know Christ gives us strength to break those cords. It may be in setting and enforcing boundaries to keep us safe. It may be in walking away from a destructive marriage. It may be in breaking the cords that make us feel like Satan is controlling us and dragging us to hell. Whatever it may be for our individual situations, I know God can and will give us strength because we are precious to Him.

So, while I sometimes hate what life has given me, and I hate this addiction, and while I sometimes feel that life is super ironic and I'm no longer lucky like I thought I was when we got married, I am grateful for the blessings I have. Every day I find little things that remind me God is watching out for me. Yesterday it was a fun day at Six-Flags, with little emotional pain or trauma to bother me. Today, it was what I learned as I studied that talk and that chapter in Alma. Hopefully there will be more little blessings. It's only 11:30. I still have much of the day ahead of me.

Follow-up: Why I Stay

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I had no idea. Oh, the irony.

Preface: Read about our dating experience here.

When I think about our dating experiences and my decision to marry Ben, and when I think about where we are now, I often wonder why I married him. Did I actually love him or was I just in a rush to get married and start that fun, exciting phase of life? It's kind of hard to discern. And it's kind of hard to remember that far back when there is so much trauma fogging up the memory. Of course, I made the choice to marry him, but were my answers to prayers a type of cop out from making the actual decision myself? So many questions. So much trauma.

I think those thoughts are just trauma response. I think I know I loved him when I married him. I think I trust myself enough to know I wouldn't have made that decision lightly. But you can see how the pain of Betrayal Trauma runs its course.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I had no idea what I was getting into when I got married. Of course, I knew being married wasn't supposed to be a piece of cake. But we had a traumatic dating experience for a variety of reasons, so I never expected in my wildest dreams that he would be a source of trial in our marriage. I thought we were a team. I thought we had great communication and could work through anything. We've suffered through my back injuries. We've suffered through infertility. We've suffered through grandparents on both sides passing away. We've suffered through a car accident. We've had financial trouble. We've moved to two different states. We've dealt with crazy bosses. We've handled my unexplained physical ailments.

But nothing compares to what he has brought to our marriage. Nothing. 

Being married to a sex-addict is by far the most painful trial I've experienced. Now, put that on top of the other trials, and it's even more heavy. 

And put it on top of our dating relationship. All the questions. All the "I don't want to date you"s. The breaking-up. The "not being friends." The prayers begging God to help me figure this out--to help me figure out what the purpose is and to help me follow His plan. The thoughts I had of backing out. 

I have so many questions now. 

Mainly, is this right? Is this really what you wanted for me, God? Did I make up my spiritual experiences? Did I make up my answers to my prayers? Did you know Ben would do this to me? Did you know when I chose to marry him that we wouldn't even make it through our first year in bliss and harmony? Did you know he would one day talk about leaving me to live in sex sin? Did you know the addiction would come back to haunt our marriage? Did you know I would wonder about the sanctity of our marriage? Did you know I would be afraid I will be alone for all eternity? 

Of course He knew all of that. He is God. 

God sees the end from the beginning. I don't know why I felt so strongly that I should marry Ben. I'd like to think that we do have a divine mission to fulfill, as I felt after many prayers begging God to help me out. I'd also like to think it's because God trusted me with this, with Ben. And that maybe Ben needs me. And maybe God needs me to be a voice. Maybe He knew I could handle it. Maybe He knows we will make it through. Or maybe He knows we won't, but we will both gain eternal progress form this. I don't know. That's just all speculation.

I've spent a lot of time fighting being mad at God.

God is not the one to whom I should direct my anger. God didn't do this to me. It's part of life. It's all a result of agency. Ben's choices. Sometimes our trials are the result of another's actions. That is the case with me right now as I face this trial. I can't control it. It's happening, and I just have to work through it. It's also a result of my agency. I chose Ben. I choose Ben every day. I choose to do my best to follow God, and right now, I truly think God wants me to stay. So I stay. I choose to stay. And it's hard.  

I can trust God. He has truly been with me through all of this mess. While it's been hard and painful, He has not left me comfortless. I can [almost] always see the ways He is helping me.

This trial has definitely brought me to a faith crisis. I struggle in a lot of ways I didn't think possible a few years ago. A few years ago, I thought I was solid. But I know God is real and Christ is my Savior. Those two things are the most important. Those are the things I hold on to for now.

I know this is somehow part of the plan. I know I can learn from this. I know I am being made stronger. I know that God knows the way out. And I know that darkness is a part of life. Without darkness, depression, and despair, we would not be able to truly know the light. 

Ben messed up last week. 

The addiction ran its head through our door. 

Satan is running amok in both our heads. 

Sometimes, I don't feel so lucky.

I look back and wonder. God, what were you thinking all those times I prayed for help loving Ben? Is that what I'm supposed to do now? Will I only love him when I'm praying for love? 

I look back at all those times I felt so lucky. Oh the irony. He was so honest. So pure. So clean. So respectful. So patient. So wonderful. 

What. The. Hell. 

I hate addiction. I double hate sex-addiction. I hate pornography. I hate masturbation. I hate Satan. He needs a junk-punch. [ps. I do know Satan doesn't control us. I know Ben's choices are his choices. But I can still hate Satan. I'd rather direct my hatred at Satan right now.]

I hate that I've been robbed of innocence. I hate that I've been robbed of security and trust. I hate that I wonder if he will leave me to go live in sex sin--to sleep with hookers, go to strip clubs, and do whatever else. 

I hate that with a simple act, all security and trust I've built up can be robbed again. 

I hate the love-hate relationship I have with my husband. 

I hate that I want to scream and cry. All the time. Or most of the time. 

I hate that I want to punch holes in our walls and break every picture frame in our house. And burn all his stuff. 

I hate that my reality sucks sometimes. 

And I hate that other women can relate to me. I hate that they have gone through this too. [But I love you for the support you have given me. Thank you for being able to relate to me and reaching out to love me.]

Hatred is exhausting. But it's part of my life right now. Don't worry, it will pass and I'll move to another part of the process. But for this moment, I will allow myself to be bitter and angry, at least while I write this post. Getting it out and working through it will allow me to move on.

Remember all those times I felt so lucky? Oh the irony.

Read the next post here

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dating Ben: I'm so Lucky

We had an interesting dating relationship. Ben really liked me for a long time, but I didn't return the sentiment. Looking back, I've wondered if my feelings of not wanting to date him were some sort of warning. I don't know. I don't think so. On the contrary, I thought he was great. Perfect, even. But he was short.

The first time we spent time together, it was because my best friend was on a date with his best friend, whom I had a major crush on. All my roommates had dates that night, and I was alone in my apartment--feeling sorry for myself because my crush liked my roommate instead of me.

I was doing laundry, and as I walked across the complex, I saw into Ben's apartment. He was sitting on the couch with the TV on, doing something on his laptop. I knocked on his door.

"What are you doing?" I asked.


"That's stupid. It's Saturday night. Want to come watch a movie with me?"

We watched Dan in Real Life. We sat on completely opposite ends of the couch.

He charmed me with his smile and innocent humor. The only problem is that he was shorter than me. Half an inch.

Ben really liked me and kept asking me on dates. I would go. And then later I would shoot him down and say things were getting too serious and I just wanted to be friends. We would be friends until he couldn't take it anymore and we would not speak to each other for a while. Until one of us couldn't take that anymore, and we would agree that being friends was better than nothing.

That went on for months. We were friends. He asked me on dates. I went on dates with him. Things would get too serious. I would say I didn't want to be tied down. We would stop talking. It was miserable. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I didn't want to be serious with him. He was too nice. He lacked self confidence (ahem...addiction). He was a total pushover and would do anything I wanted. He never had opinions. He always agreed with me. It was so frustrating. I felt like he had a spineless personality. [He is really not spineless. He was just trying to impress me by being agreeable and everything. He is, in fact one of the most opinionated people I know.]

Eventually, he gave me an ultimatum. We could not be just friends. He loved me, and we either dated or didn't interact with each other at all. I chose the latter, and I tried to move on with my life. It was the most miserable week of my college experience. He had become my everything. Even though we weren't "dating", we did everything together. I talked to him about everything. And, as it turns out, our whole ward thought we were an item anyway, and I hadn't been on a date with anybody else in months. Because even though he had a spineless personality, something clicked, and we spent all our time together. He was really fun to be around, and he genuinely cared about me. He didn't use me as a object. He was really respectful. And he was funny.

My friends referred to me as the "living dead" that week we weren't friends.

My dad thought something "bad" was going on because I was a complete wreck. He thought Ben was emotionally/sexually manipulating me and told me to stay away from him.

I went on a date with an old crush. He just used me. And he thought it was funny.

I can't remember how it all happened, but in the end, I think Ben texted me around midnight on that Saturday night asking if we could talk. I met him outside, and we walked around and talked almost all night. It was beautiful. I was afraid. Obviously I couldn't live without him.

The idea of dating someone who I knew loved me so passionately, while I was just trying to figure my life out, was terrifying. All I knew was that living without him was not an option.

I remember praying, "God, if I'm supposed to love him, please help me to. I've put him through so much, and I don't know why. I don't know why he loves me when I clearly don't return that. So, please, help my heart to be softened if it's supposed to. Or please, get us out of this mess if we aren't supposed to be together."

We dated for a couple of months, and I started loving him. Then, I felt very strongly and clearly that we needed to break up. For three weeks in a row. On a Thursday night. I pushed it off because I was so afraid of hurting him again. I felt like such an awful person for putting him through so much. On the third prompting, I finally did it. I told him I didn't know why, but that it just needed to happen. We needed to break up.

In that week, I tried to move on. I tried to figure out what God wanted me to do. I had no idea, but I was putting myself in God's hands.

During that week, I worked through a lot of personal things going on. And, eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was going to marry him. You know, if he would take me back. It was scary. My family hadn't really been supportive of me dating him anyway (because I had a missionary whom they LOVED, and at this point in time, he would be coming home in about 7 weeks). I had no idea how my family would react to me dating Ben again. Especially after everything. My parents weren't very thrilled with our off/on relationship and the impact it had on me. And they especially weren't thrilled about me dating him after all the negative things I had said about this guy who just wouldn't leave me alone and had no spine.

I thought a lot about that missionary. I wondered if things would have changed between us when he came back. I wondered if I would still love him. He knew I was dating other people, but deep down, we both wanted me to wait for him. I actively waited. I dated, but always had him in the back of my mind.

I was also scared of commitment. I wanted to serve a mission. I wanted a lot of things that being married would change.

I was scared of being tied down to a guy shorter than me...

But maybe it wasn't the shortness. I don't know. All I know is that I was scared but excited and doing my best to follow what God wanted for me. 

I put a lot of prayer into the decision to call Ben and ask if we could talk.

I knew when we started dating again that we would be married.

I remember praying, "God, what is going on? Why did you ask me to break up with him? Why do I now feel like I need to date him again? God, I can't date him again unless I'm going to marry him. This is too much. Please, if I'm supposed to marry him, help me to know. If I'm not supposed to marry him, please don't make me date him again. It's painful for both of us. If I'm supposed to love him enough to marry him, help me to feel that."

I felt this really strong feeling that we were meant to be together. I felt like we had a divine mission to fulfill together. I KNEW I was going to marry him. I knew that's what God wanted for me. 

When I eventually met with Ben to talk, I told him everything. He also had powerful spiritual experiences that he would marry me.

I felt so lucky. So lucky that he had waited. So lucky that he was patient enough and close enough to God that he would follow the Spirit when I was telling him things should be otherwise. He just waited.

When we were talking about becoming engaged, I asked him if he looked at pornography. He said no, and he just looked at me with so much love and humor with how awkward I felt asking the question when of course the answer was no.

I felt so lucky. So lucky that he was so pure and innocent. So lucky that after all my bad relationships and horrible guys I had dated in high school, I finally had found someone who would take me where I wanted to go. He was so respectful and so nice. So pure. I was so lucky.

On the day we were married, I felt so lucky. So lucky to have him. So lucky to have put all the hurt behind us and move on. I smiled so much my face hurt. I was giddy in love.

I felt so lucky.

My friend said, "Ben is amazing. Have fun being married to a general authority."

I felt so lucky.

Read the next part of this story here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Moment of Clarity

This morning as I was driving home from lap-swimming, I was caught in a very pleasant moment. That's a big deal because I feel like the past 3 weeks 3 months year has been full of highly unpleasant moments. Pain, depression, yada yada.

As I pondered in that moment, I thought about everything I have experienced with this trial. Well, not only the things I have experienced due to this trial, but this trial on top of everything else (medical issues, infertility, financial woes, etc). And then it all hit me.

I am grateful. 

Not the kind of grateful where I am "counting my blessings" looking for reasons to be grateful, but an actual gratitude for these trials. I was really grateful. I felt it deep in my soul.

But it's not that I'm grateful that my husband looks at porn or masturbates. Or that he lies and deceives. I had a moment of clarity where I saw my divine potential. I saw what I am accomplishing as I face this [torture]. I saw growth, beauty, and hope.

I realized I'm grateful that I was trusted with this trial. I honestly don't know what other trial could bring me to God in the ways this one has. Maybe any other trial could help me grow. I don't know. What I do know is this morning I had a feeling that this trial has been fitted for me. And I am being given divine strength every day. Even on days that I feel weak, ugly, and lost. I am still being given divine strength to make it through.

Then I remembered a priesthood blessing I received a few months ago. In that blessing, I was told that before I came to this earth, I saw the trials I would face, and I rejoiced because I knew they would be the only way I could draw close to God and come to live with Him again. \

I felt that in a moment of clarity this morning. And I'm sharing it with you so maybe you can feel some hope too. It doesn't make it any easier. And I know I'll still have plenty of bad days in the future. But for now, I'm just grateful for what I'm learning and becoming.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Presence of Angels

I've had a hard time being motivated by anything lately. Last week, I allowed the whole bishop thing to push me into a trauma-depression--well, that along with some things regarding Ben and our relationship. I fought for a couple of days to not go into depression, but then I gave up. I think I needed to just wallow in some pain and allow myself to do NOTHING with my life for a few days. Nothing, except survive. And I did.

Sunday, I fasted for me, Ben, and some of my Warrior Sisters who have also been having a hard time. My fast (or possibly my change of heart about some things) helped me rise above the depression. I was literally carried by Christ. I know it.

When I went to group Sunday night, I wasn't sure what to share. It was the first time I ever considered just not sharing. But, I decided to share a little about my week. As I rambled about the bishop thing and my depression, I realized the point I needed to share: God never lets us alone.

Sometimes I feel alone. I definitely did while I was in that dark, lonely place called depression. It wasn't until I started having really ugly thoughts that I reached out to make sure I was not spending my days alone and possibly become a danger to myself.

But I wasn't alone. I was sent angels in the way of friends to lift me up. People to make me laugh. People to call me and make sure I was okay. People to invite me to come over (and play with their kids). A husband to help me with dinner. Scriptures that fell open to the exact verses I needed.

I was given angels to give me strength to go on. Especially Sunday. I thought Friday was bad--that is until I got to Saturday. Then I thought Saturday was bad. Until I got to Sunday. Sunday was BAD (in the morning). It took every ounce of energy to go to church. To stay at church. To fulfill my calling (nursery). To attend our weekly meeting with bishop... But I did it. I did all those things, and with each thing I did, I felt more brave and more strong, and after church, I felt so much peace. (By the way, our meeting with bishop did not go super well...I didn't address the issues I already had. I just couldn't. It was too raw. I just tried to speak as little as possible. Long story. But anyway, the visit validated my dislike for him. Which I hate saying. But I'm glad I went because I feel validated, and I wouldn't have felt that had I chickened out and not gone in to the meeting.)

I was given strength to make it through Monday. And Tuesday.

I can feel the depression and despair lurking under the surface. I'm allowing myself to acknowledge that they are there (because if I don't acknowledge them, they will fight their way to the top and make sure they are acknowledged--in a very bad way), but I am not allowing them to rule me. I feel fear and anxiety threatening, but I'm not allowing them to dictate me either. I made a list of things that need to get done this week, and I'm slowly working my way down the list. If I need chill time, I have books to read while I curl up and chill. But other than that, I'm hitting my to-do list like a fat kid hits a buffet.

I know God hasn't left me. I've left Him hanging a bit, out of anger and not really knowing what else to do, but I know He hasn't left me. I know He is heartbroken over the situation I'm in. I know He wishes He could change it, but if He did, that would require Him to take away some people's agency, including mine. He is letting me work through this mess and heal, and He is giving me things that will help without taking away anyone's agency.

I know God has given me angels. And strength.

I know there is a purpose to all of this trauma and depression. I'm discovering it little by little.

I know I'm not alone. I'm never alone.

Sometimes it's hard to hold on to those truths. There are definitely things I'm questioning that I thought I would never question. But, the important thing for me is to hold on to what I know. If I can hold on to what I know, no one (ahem...Satan) will wreck me, and I will be okay.

Lots of my fellow warrior sisters had a hard week last week. And are still having a hard week. I'm praying for you multiple times a day. Just so you know.

This song came on my recovery playlist the other day while I was feeling depressed. I felt like it was dedicated to me from God. Now, here's to you:

Thursday, May 1, 2014


I wasn't going to write about this on my blog. But I can't get it out of my mind, and I feel like I need to process it to death. I'm still grieving and feeling traumatized by it.

I asked my bishop for financial help this week. Because I need a counselor. And we can't afford that right now.

I don't like asking people for help. Last year when I wanted to do this intense therapy program for my back, I had to ask my parents for help. And it wasn't easy to ask them. Not easy at all. We are still in debt to them, but we are paying it off.

I don't like being dependent on people. That's why I don't like asking for help. Heck, it's taken me a while to feel comfortable and confident in asking God for help with this addiction trauma stuff. Because I want to be independent and rely on me all the time. Yes, that's pride. I know it and am working through it.

So, knowing that little bit about me, you can see why it might be hard to ask the leader of my local congregation for some help. I was so scared. So afraid. I even told Ben that, and he said, "He is great. It will be fine." So I said a little prayer for comfort, picked up my phone, and called him.

I don't really know how I could have avoided that traumatic situation. I guess my husband could just not be a sex-addict so I wouldn't have to make phone calls like this.

The bishop was well-meaning, I'm sure. But when his initial response was, "Well, we definitely can't help you long-term with that. But we can talk about short term I guess", (I guess?) or when he led with questions like, "Why do you all the sudden need a counselor?" (ahem: a question you should never lead with when you know the woman you are talking to is the wife of a sex addict and just came back from being separated from her husband for two months. Why would I not need a counselor?) and cut me off while I talked about how Betrayal Trauma is like PTSD, I started feeling really small. Then when he asked if I had asked for help from my parents (I'll answer that question, but is it really your business?), we had to get into all my medical issues too (and is that really your business? You don't want to help out financially anyway). And then he wanted to talk about Ben and how he is doing (excuse me? I did not call you to talk about him. I called to talk about me.). So now he knows more about me. I just opened up about problems I  discuss only with those closest to me to this man I barely know. Because I need financial help.

I even told him I was kind of suicidal a few months ago and that I had to reach out to a friend who is a counselor in Arkansas to help me find a counselor and get my feet under me. I told him I have a history of unhealthy thinking patterns. I told him I need help. In my soul, I was pleading. Begging. For some saving grace that would allow me to see a counselor consistently--because the things going on in my brain are not small issues. They need to be addressed.

With every single question or statement he made, I felt a little smaller and a little more hopeless.

By the end of the conversation, he agreed that the church could pay for half of one month, and I was instructed to sign up for the Obamacare stuff to pay for everything else I might need in the future (but I shouldn't need much help in the future because after one month of counseling, I should be solid). Oh, ps, that Obamacare stuff is almost as expensive as a month of counseling. And doesn't cover it. So...

I'm not writing this to call him out. I'm not writing this for pity points. Or financial help. I'm writing this because this is my life. This just happened. And it needs to be heard.

I feel that he did not react appropriately nor offer enough compassion or concern for my situation.
I feel that the leaders of the church, to whom we are instructed to turn in times like this, need way better training than what they are given. Not necessarily for this financial aspect I'm struggling with. But for dealing with a woman in trauma. For dealing with a sex-addict. This whole situation is delicate.

Don't just say, "Thanks for confessing" and send him on his merry way. (That happened.)

Don't tell the wife, "This is very personal and needs to stay between you two. If Ben doesn't feel comfortable with you discussing his issue with anyone, you need to respect that and keep it within the marriage." (Oh, that happened too.)

And when the wife is crying because of her pain and is asking for help so she can see a counselor, don't ask why she needs to see a counselor "all of the sudden." Don't suggest that marital counseling is more important than individual counseling. And certainly don't insinuate that her needs are not worthy of spending church money on, especially when she has been consistently faithful in paying tithing and generous fast offerings. Don't turn the conversation to talk about her husband instead of her. And don't tell her she needs to be on another insurance. Just don't. At the very least, if you have no clue what to say, you could say, "Wow, this sounds like a very painful situation. I will look into the matter and see what my options are for helping you."

I love this church. But the church leaders are human and make mistakes. The unfortunate part is, we are instructed to turn to them so often. They don't know how to handle this situation. They aren't equipped to handle it.

Granted, I've had amazing experiences with church leaders. But the horrible experiences can outweigh the positive at times. And this is one of those. All week, I've had to stop the train of negative thoughts, "Maybe I'm not worthy of help. Maybe I'm blowing the addiction too out of proportion. Maybe I shouldn't need a counselor. I must be crazy. Maybe I should be able to manage it after one month of counseling. Oh my gosh, I can't believe I would sink so low to ask for help. I'm so unfit of help. I'm supposed to be stronger." All of those thoughts are completely untrue. But, that's what was fed to me.

And I'm still feeling traumatized. Three days later.

The good news is that Ben was empathetic. I love it when he gets it. So thanks for that.