If you could write a letter to yourself back when you first learned of the addiction, what would you say?
I'd encourage everyone reading this to write their own letter. It's a very healing experience. Mine could have been longer, but I submitted it to something and it had to be less than 500 words. This isn't the first time I've written a letter to myself, though, and I know it won't be the last. Every time provides a little bit more healing.
Here's my letter:
When you were married, you could never have imagined the betrayal and hurt Ben could cause you. You thought you were both on the same page and on the path to the celestial kingdom together. Now, in just a few seconds, your world has come crashing down.
You are so young, and you are embarking on the journey of a lifetime. Right now, you can't imagine it getting worse. It can. But it will also get better.
More will come: pain, darkness, heartache. At times, hope will seem completely lost. You will ponder the idea of divorce and even the possibility of taking your own life to escape the hell of the addiction.
There is more than darkness in your future. There is bounteous light and hope, and you will make it through the dark periods every single time. As you and Ben embrace recovery together, you will learn to love each other in ways you never thought possible. You will discover your greatest strengths and weaknesses. You will see the compassion and love you are both capable of. And you will start the rest of your family.
Through recovery, you will make friends you would have never known otherwise. You will learn lessons about friendship, vulnerability, and service. You will learn to love others and see them as Christ does.
You will learn about the Atonement, and you will be cradled in the arms of your Savior. You will learn how to follow promptings of the Holy Ghost. And you will be able to share a message of hope with others you come in contact with.
Ben will get into recovery. Eventually, he will acknowledge this is an addiction and he can't do it on his own. You will seek help together and become one in the fight against Satan and his efforts to destroy your family. You will be given knowledge and resources to help you understand the addiction. You will learn it's not your fault. You will learn you can't control the addiction. And eventually, you will turn it all over to God and trust in His plan.
You will go through hell on earth. But you will come out stronger and more beautiful. Four years from now, you will be welcoming a baby boy into your home, and you will be so grateful for the efforts you have put into your marriage and recovery. Things won't be perfect, but you will have hope and be grateful for the recovery path you are on together.
This addiction won't exempt you from other trials. So many hard things will come your way, but your experience with the Atonement will teach you that you are never alone. You will become a strength to your family and friends, and you will have a sense of gratitude for all the blessings God has given you.
Don't give up. You can do all through the power of God.
You are beautiful and strong. You can do hard things.
When I wrote this, along with a little bio for my submission, something hit me. Hard. I mentioned in the letter that we will be welcoming in a baby boy four years from the time I first found out about the addiction. Well, that's awesome. But what's even more awesome is that we will be welcoming him into our family exactly one year (to the month) after things hit rock bottom in our marriage. Our son will come a year after we could have given up on our marriage but chose not to. So much healing has taken place this year, and I am so grateful we get to celebrate that with the entrance of our son into this family.
Three months to go!