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