Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What does it mean to be healed?

I didn't realize I was super struggling today until I started writing in my journal. Then, all the thoughts and pains slipped out in the form of tears.

I had no motivation to do anything this morning, but then this little feeling kicked me out of bed and led me to grab my Healing Through Christ journal and read through everything I've written for step 2.

Step 2 is "Come to believe that the power of God can restore us to spiritual and emotional health."

At first, that was really comforting. But then, I was like, WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

What does it mean that I can be restored completely, to be healed?

I'll tell you what it doesn't mean.

It doesn't mean I will be never feel this pain.

It doesn't mean I will forget what I have gone through.

And it certainly doesn't mean I will not feel pain every time Ben acts out in his addiction. It doesn't mean that.

I think it means that God will strengthen me and give me resiliency so this doesn't keep me down. When I am healed, I will have a firm faith in Him. I will be able to use this pain for good. I will be stronger. I will have scars, but that's all they will be: scars. They won't keep me down. When I am healed, I will be at my fullest potential, and I will be able to do anything because of Him.

Healing takes time. It's a process, a journey. There will be stumbles on the way, so I have to be patient on the journey.

I have to believe that eventually, I will be restored to spiritual and emotional health. I will be healthy. I will be resilient and beautiful, and I won't live in a state of depression and fear. I'm on my way there, I know it. I don't know when I'll get there, but I will. I can be healed.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Someone has already paid."

Sometimes I'm doing just fine. Other times, not so much.

Yesterday morning, I felt anger. So many things ran through my head, and I was just SO ANGRY. I hurt for lost innocence in my marriage and everything I have suffered because of the addiction. When that happens, my thoughts sometimes wander to, "I want him to pay. He needs to really understand what he has put me through. It's not fair that I am feeling this pain." It's not a very Christlike attitude...But it's reality. I think when we get hurt or offended, we all go there sometimes.

In the most recent General Conference, President Packer gave a talk on the Atonement. I'm reading it today, and this paragraph stood out:

I recently received a letter from a woman who reported having endured great suffering in her life. A terrible wrong, which she did not identify but alluded to, had been committed against her. She admitted that she struggled with feelings of great bitterness. In her anger, she mentally cried out, “Someone must pay for this terrible wrong.” In this extreme moment of sorrow and questioning, she wrote that there came into her heart an immediate reply: “Someone already has paid.”

I reflected on the moment I had yesterday, along with many other moments of anger and justice-seeking. I don't need to seek justice because justice has already been met. And just like I can't carry the burden of my pain alone, Ben wouldn't be able to carry the burden of what he has done alone. Christ has paid for what Ben has done. Because He has met the demands of justice, Ben and I have both been extended the mercy that allows us to be able to heal. The Atonement covers all pain--the pain of the sinner, and the pain of the hurt.

This doesn't mean I have to heal quickly, but it means I can heal. Healing takes time and that is okay. I'll just try to be patient and remember that I CAN be healed. (And so can Ben.)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sometimes I get lonely

It's true.

I don't know if that's hard for people to imagine because I am a fairly bubbly person. I like being around people (though I'd say I'm more on the introverted side than extroverted). I like making friends and spending time with friends. And heck, I'm open about the hard things going on my life. Or at least I am on this blog. But talking about it on the blog is much different than talking about it in person.

This year has been really hard for me. It's also been a huge blessing in a lot of ways, but right now I'm dealing with the hard.

It's been hard because of the hell in February.
It's been hard because I was severely depressed when I moved. And I wasn't able to have a counselor to help me through that.
It's been hard for me to make friends because it's hard for me to really open up in person. I feel like I don't know how to relate to the "real world." I feel safest in my recovery bubble, and I'm kind of afraid of people who are not in that recovery bubble.
I am pregnant, which has definitely been the highlight of my year. But my pregnancy has been really hard, physically. I was really sick the first 18ish weeks. And now I'm on bed rest (temporarily).
I'm still dealing with porn in my life. That's hard.
I'm even more afraid to open up to people in "real life" because of an event that happened with a friend who I was open with.
Ben works a lot to support us. Because I can't work right now. I feel lonely all day, and even sometimes at night when he is home because his mind is elsewhere.

So that's part of it.

Sometimes I get lonely.

As I studied my scriptures and wrote in my journal today, I wrote about figuring out how to use the Atonement right now. I know I'm supposed to be constantly learning more about the Atonement and learning how it applies to me. I want to draw closer to Christ because I know that it is only through Him that I will be healed.

For today, this is what I came up with as I was writing in my journal about the hard and the lonely.

Christ felt lonely too. He led a perfect life and then suffered in the Garden and on the cross. While in the Garden, He asked His disciples to stay awake. When He came out and they were asleep, I imagine He felt lonely. All He asked is that they would be awake with Him while He took on all the pains and sins of the world. And they fell asleep.

But at that time, He had angels strengthening Him. However, on the cross is where He felt the loneliest. We see that when He cries, "My God, why has thou forsaken me?" Through His entire journey, He felt the presence of God except at that time. At that time, He had to do it alone.

So He knows how I feel. And because He has felt loneliness in a way I will never feel, He knows exactly what I need to help me through mine. And He really has been giving me little things to help me through. So I guess I'm not as lonely as I sometimes feel.

I have felt angels lifting me up. I know I'm never truly alone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Loosening Boundaries?

Boundaries are tricky for me.

I think it's hard to enforce them because there is always this part of me that is in denial that this is my life. I don't want to have to enforce them because I don't want this to be happening. There is a place in my heart where I hope I'll wake up and realize this has all been a dream. I'll wake up and get married, having had this dream that will totally prepare me for my future. And my life will ROCK.

My life does rock though. And even though some days really suck, I feel really good about my life overall. Don't ask me about that on a bad day, though.

Back to boundaries.

Boundaries are specific to everyone and every circumstance. After last week's relapse, I had to really dig to figure out exactly what my needs were to help me feel safe. Part of me wanted to have him sleep on the couch indefinitely, but that was more out of punishment than my own safety. I wanted to punish him (and our couch is unbelievably uncomfortable to sleep on) and really make him feel sorry for what he has done.

That line of thinking just made me sad. I don't want to be an angry, vindictive person. But I have felt unsafe and insecure, so I knew I needed something. That something ended up being physical space in the time of trauma (asking him to leave the room while I thought and processed and had me-time) and emotional space in the form of reduced physical intimacy. I knew I still needed his physical presence in general, so asking him to sleep on the couch indefinitely would really just be an unnecessary punishment for us both.

Part of my boundaries also include safe, emotional communication. I need him to be a safe space for me. Thus, we had a long conversation (and multiple conversations) about how I was feeling and how everything was affecting me. Over the years of this stuff, he has learned how to be a safe emotional space for me, and I am grateful he listens and absorbs what I am trying to say. He also gets a chance to talk and I try to listen and absorb what he has to say. This practice helps me feel like he really is in recovery and is remorseful, rather than just going through the motions so I don't leave. And when we are able to be a safe space for each other, I feel like we are making true progress, even though there are bumps in the road.

Right now I'm getting to the point where I'm trying to figure out how and when to lessen these boundaries. Things are going well enough that I may not need this huge wall up. Sometimes I want to kiss him, really kiss him. Because of all the things that make me love him. But then the fears roll in, and I don't want to go through the emotional battlefield I faced last week again. It's happened too many times, and it's always painful and hard.

I'm not really concerned about figuring out this boundary thing. I'll do what I always do, which is to take it one day, one moment at a time. Our relationship will progress and things will fall into place as they should.

I guess the tricky thing is am I ready to put my heart fully on the line again? Because when I take that jump, I'm putting myself in a position to fall again.

I'm a believer in being vulnerable and taking risks. If I don't fully live, I won't fully love. And with every painful experience, I see how deep that love can be. I don't want to lessen my ability to love because of my fear of the pain. Unfortunately, pain and love go hand in hand.

But I'm also a believer in being smart and safe. I won't take unnecessary risks. I'll take the risk when I feel like it will produce something of great value.

So at this point, it's all about timing, safety, and security. Eventually I'll get back to where I want us to be. Maybe it will even be later today. Maybe it will be next month or next week. I'll throw some caution to the wind as I start making my way up to the place to jump.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Power of Choice

I have a document where I post my favorite recovery quotes and scriptures as I come across ones that hit me on a particular day. Today, I started reading through it and was struck by one word in a particular scripture:

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)

Let implies that I have some kind of power--that I have the power to let my heart be troubled or to let my heart be afraid. On the other side of that, I have the power to let my heart be filled with the peace that Christ offers, which would replace the troubles and fears.

Let is a powerful word.

As I pondered this idea, I thought of a lot of things. So many times, I've let negative emotions hang with me. I've gotten to the point in my recovery where I do recognize my own conscious choices to stay angry or negative because of certain things. Granted, there was a time when I felt controlled by my emotions. And sometimes I still feel controlled by my emotions. But there is a huge power in my relationship with Christ and my recovery. Because of my journey to healing, I really can identify my emotions and choose how to deal with them. That's something I've learned how to do.

Sometimes I choose to be angry and bitter. And I will admit sometimes that choice is to make Ben suffer because of how I have suffered. But sometimes that choice is simply because I can't find the light at that time (or possibly refuse to see the light?).

Sometimes I choose to process my emotions in healthy ways rather than letting myself be bitter and angry. When I process and take the time for self-care, I am much happier. And I'm finally getting to the point where I would like to choose to be happy rather than wallow in self-pity and anger (that place is wobbly for me--it comes and goes).

This week I've been swallowed in many fears. I know deep down, however, that no matter what, Christ has my back and I will not be miserable for eternity. I also know I will be happy no matter what--no matter the outcome of this addiction in my marriage.

Christ has given me peace and light so many times. Sometimes I choose to ignore that (and like I said, sometimes I do just feel controlled by emotion because of the situation), but I also know I can choose to  "let not [my] heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Bullets Won't Stop!

I've thought of writing this post all day. And every time, I just can't click the button to write a new post. Part of me is avoiding feeling what I'm about to feel as I write about this. But I'll feel it whether I write it or not, so here goes. It's also just really vulnerable and raw. So I hope for validation and love.

Yesterday was horrible. I survived, though, so I felt like a rock-star. Minus the crying. Crying always makes me feel a little less than rock-star status, hence the reminder that crying doesn't make me weak. 

Because we moved and I'm pregnant, I decided to substitute teach this year rather than get a full-time teaching job. Subbing yesterday proved to be very challenging and was the base of my horribly hard day. After I finished the school day, I was grateful to go home, and I looked forward to the evening with Ben. I was counting on him to be a strength and comfort to me as I unleashed some of the trauma I experienced yesterday at school. And he was. Until he confessed some things.

Fast forward through the hours of tears shed last night to the point where I was actually able to process my feelings and get to the root of why this relapse impacted me so much worse than any have since April. 

I'm raw from telling my story at Camp Scabs. I've recently revisited all the pain I have suffered our entire marriage. That pain has come from acts of infidelity, countless lies, and a breakdown of trust and love. And now I'm feeling all that pain again. I'm sitting in it. Because I've been let down in a major way that has let the trauma rush back in. Everything has come cycling back, and I can't get it to leave.

I've been feeling so much joy from the past six months. I've felt hope. I've seen his potential as a husband and father. I've seen our potential as a family. 

We "started over" back in April. I allowed the past to be put behind us. I chose to let our relationship continue to develop rather than shutting it down. I chose to open my heart back up to trust and love. I gave him everything and am now carrying a baby with Ben's blood running through him. 

I trusted Ben to work as hard as he could to find recovery. I trusted him with my heart and my child. I took a huge leap of faith, and I feel like I have been shot in the heart again. And again and again and AGAIN. The bullets won't stop coming. And they are getting closer and closer together. I'm afraid I might actually die. [Okay, not literally. But I'm certainly breaking.]

For a while, the relapses were growing farther apart. It's not ideal, but it gave me hope that real changes were happening. But the relapses are now growing closer together, and I can see that real changes are not happening. Or at least, they aren't happening as fast and as well as I thought they were.

Sometimes I can handle this well because I remind myself that it's an addiction and he needs help. And that the addiction won't just go away overnight. And that it's not about me, and it's not about infidelity. It's about addiction.

But when it comes to sex-addiction, you can't leave the infidelity out of it. It's an integral part of this addiction, and addiction plus infidelity SUCK SO BAD.

Porn doesn't just happen. And masturbation doesn't just happen. Little things trickle in and build up. Lust happens. I know it's not really about me, and I don't ever doubt Ben's love for me. But all the fantasies and lusting while watching porn is certainly infidelity

And even if you're not sold on the idea that porn is infidelity, porn certainly leads there. With addiction, one level is never enough. It will grow worse and worse until there are physical acts of infidelity. [also, I'm really bad about minimizing because so many people in "the world" think porn is not a big deal. the struggle to validate myself is real. that is why this paragraph even exists. shut up, stupid brain.]

Most of my current trauma level stems from fear. He has said things to me in the past that make me afraid for our future. The fact that porn is creeping in more and more with less time in between each viewing worries me. I'm afraid he will give up and leave. I'm afraid he will become so hopeless that he is suicidal. I'm afraid it will grow from fantasy and brain work to physical affairs. 

I'm afraid for our future family. I've seen families ripped apart by the effects of porn. THAT'S NOT IN MY PLAN! But I'm afraid it could arrive there by his choices. 

I honestly feel a little ridiculous because I'm sitting here thinking of all the worst-case scenarios when the fact is, I still see hope. But I've had hope for so long... And fear feels natural. 

The thing is, I still have hope. I still love him. I still see his potential as the father and husband he should be. And I am truly, deeply grateful for the healing that has taken place this summer because earlier this year I was almost ready to give up. Had we not experienced what we have, I would be ready to give up again. But I'm not. Because I love him, DANGIT! And I still have hope. And lots of swear words are running through my head right now. 

It's not fair. It's just not fair. I can do everything "right" and still end up in a crap-hole because of someone else's agency. 

But I do know this: I am not alone. I've been in so much pain the past 24 hours, but I've never felt alone. I've felt God circling me with His love, and He keeps showing me hope. So I guess I'm grateful for that. 

Monday, October 6, 2014


Sometimes I have to remind myself that crying doesn't make me any less.

Crying doesn't mean I have "lost."

Crying doesn't mean I am weak.

If I cry after doing something hard, that doesn't mean it was any less of an accomplishment. I can do hard things, and the hard thing was still done even if it made me cry.

I may have cried today. But that's because today was one hell of a day. And I am one amazing person who can do hard things.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Living While Broken

Since Camp Scabs (well, even before, but I've just been avoiding this), I've been thinking a lot. Mainly, I've been thinking about Ben's addiction, our lives now, and the baby coming.

Hearing everyone's stories was both beautiful and triggering. Rehashing my own story was also both beautiful and triggering. I am not fully recovered, nor do I know if I ever will be. The pain I have felt will always be a part of me. Thus, feeling pain through empathy with others' stories along with my own is, well, painful. It serves as a reminder of what we've gone through--the lies and betrayal that have made up our marriage--and it causes me to question things right now. I have so many fears about the present and the future. And if I think too hard, those things totally bring me down.

When Camp Scabs ended, I was terrified to come home. Ben hadn't confessed anything, but I had this paralyzing fear he was omitting details. When I finally straight-up asked him if he acted out while I was gone, he said no. That means this was the first time in a long time, possibly ever, that we had been apart and he hadn't acted out. Another proof of the progress being made (or the lies being told, but really, I believe in his progress. My doubts, however, are a sign of the trauma and pain I have suffered).

I'm trying to think/process/deal with the emotions and fears that I'm experiencing. Things are not perfect. We are broken, but that is a consequence of living this life. We are all a little broken. Learning to live while broken, along with learning how to mend the pieces, are blessings I am discovering. I know pushing away the hard emotions only causes them to build up and explode. I'm coming out of a darkness and numbing period and finally learning how to live again. I occasionally numb again. But overall, I'm dealing and living, which is huge progress on my part.

I want to take a moment to say overall, things are really great. Because of the past, we still have struggles. I think that is an obvious consequence of the actions that have taken place in our relationship. We are both working through things and striving to make ourselves and our relationship better.

It's kind of amazing to think about where we are now versus six months ago, nine months ago, a year ago, two years ago, or three years ago. I have grown up a lot since we were married four years ago and since learning of the addiction three and a half years ago. So has Ben.

Because of the changes I have seen, I have true hope for our futures. I also love him in a way I never have before. We have laid everything on the line in our relationship. We know pretty much everything there is to know about one another (of course, we are still learning and discovering things, as one does in marriage). I know there are still trials ahead, although I secretly believe God could maybe take into consideration that we have possibly met our trial quota for life. Okay, just kidding. But seriously.

We are both a little broken. We both experience negative emotions and triggers. But we talk about those things. We are learning to be transparent with each other. We are learning how to support each other and be on the same team--a marriage--rather than fighting addict vs. non-addict.

I see the fears I experience and try to remember they are not of God. The hope and light I feel--those are from God. Of course, the fears and insecurities I feel are natural results of choices made by my husband in our marriage. However, he is currently making big changes, and I can't ignore those in the name of fear. The primary thing I see in our marriage right now is hope and light. THAT is from God. Balancing the fears and hope is tricky. But I'm trying to do it. I have some better days than other, but holy cow, we are making progress. I am so grateful for that.

I was given the book Carry On, Warrior for my birthday. I'm only 38 pages in, but I'm in love. Glennon's story validates me. The things she writes validate me. Starting it this week, after the vulnerability of last weekend and the pain of Ben's most recent relapse, has helped me see a little more clearly. While we are both broken, together, and with God, we can make this work. It's hard work, but doable. And isn't that what life is about? It wasn't meant to be easy. If it were easy, it wouldn't be worth it. We wouldn't grow. We wouldn't feel. We wouldn't learn. We would just be, with none of the greatness of being.

Life is an adventure. With God, there is more peace to be found and guidance along the way, but life is still hard. We can do hard things. We are warriors. And now we have each other. Working together is beautiful. Seriously. I'm grateful Ben and I are now working together rather than against each other as we have in the past. That's one thing I am not taking for granted and feel incredibly blessed to have.