Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Humble Pie

In my last post, I talked about an experience through prayer that I think will help me finally move past the anger.

Here is what happened:

After my amazing experience at group on Sunday, I came home and Ben acted like a complete jerk because I got home later than he expected and the little man really wanted his mama to help get him to bed. So, he was screaming, and Ben was stressed and maxed out and couldn't handle it anymore. We've since talked about it and things are okay now, but Sunday night and Monday morning "Ben is a jerk" was in my head. So I was, um, really mad. To put it nicely.

I had a really good Monday, though. I went out with a friend from my group. We went to Babies R Us and Joann's. By the time I got home, I was feeling much better about life. My back was achy though (remember how my back completely went out about a week and a half ago?). But I took a nap with the little man, and by the time we were done with that, Ben was done with work. Awesome. I had big plans to clean and start getting things ready for our trip to Utah.

Ben said he had a headache. Not too long later, he said his whole body was achy. Then it escalated from achy to "I really don't feel good at all. Everything hurts." And I kind of flipped.

I've been really angry for the past five months. I've been struggling to love him and feel dedication to making things work in our marriage. I've kind of just been passively floating. So I did NOT feel like I had it in me to take care of him. Or do anything without him, for that matter. I was angry that he felt sick because that meant I had to do dinner, clean, and keep the little man entertained (he gets pretty fussy at night) ALL BY MYSELF.

It wasn't Ben's fault. He felt sick. I knew he wasn't faking it, but I was still just SO MAD that I really wasn't very nice to him. Then I felt guilty because when I get sick, or like when my back went out, he has always taken very good care of me. Why couldn't I return the favor? Because I have been mad at him for basically five months.

I was so irritated at myself for feeling so mad about Ben feeling sick. But also irritated at God that He let Ben get sick. So I put the little man in his bouncer and went into another room to pray. I started sobbing uncontrollably and just repeated over and over that I couldn't do this, that everything had been so heavy for so long, and I just couldn't handle Ben being sick and me having to be nice and compassionate to him.

My prayer went like this:

"Please, God, make him better! I can't do this!" *cries*

God: "Yes you can. I'm right here, it will be okay."

"No it won't! I can't do this! Please don't make me do this tonight!"

God: "You can. You just don't want to."

"You're right. I don't want to! Please don't make meeee!"

He told me during my prayer that He was helping more than I realized, that He was answering my prayers to help me love Ben more. Love is developed through charity. And He was giving me the opportunity to selflessly love and serve Ben, just as He has always served me.

You can't really argue with that. So I gave up arguing with Him and just accepted His embrace. Then I got up and got to work. Thankfully, the little man was pretty happy in his bouncer for a while, so I did some major cleaning. When he started getting fussy, we went for a walk, and that helped hold him over for a bit more so I could keep cleaning after we got back. Ben had taken a nap, and when he woke up, I was able to humbly apologize for being such a stink about him being sick, and we had a really good evening together.

I had a real change of heart last night. I went from irrationally angry to peaceful and loving because of my communication with God. I felt Him by my side the whole night, just like He promised. I felt my love increase a lot as a result of my prayer and understanding from my communion with God.

Lately, I've had this thought about our relationship: Ben is the one ruining things. He has to be the one to make it better. It's not up to me. I've done all I can do. Remember that time I did the Love Dare? I did the Love Dare even though I'm not the one destroying our marriage. It's his. effing. turn.

That's not very Christlike. Obviously, I'm not going to do anything stupid, and I'm really going to make efforts to have boundaries and stuff so I'm not enabling his addiction. But I've been begging God for help, and He told me that the answer is Christlike love. Service. Charity. 

So I'll take a little slice of that humble pie and press onward.

And I do feel way less angry than I did last week.

Satan is already attacking me. So I'm working on keeping an eternal perspective and keeping Satan's attempts at destroying us at bay.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Memory Lane, Anger, and Now

Sometimes when things are hard and it feels like everything is piling on, I start living in the past. Asking myself how I got here and wondering what life would be like if I had made different choices.

This happened on Sunday. I can't remember what happened Sunday that put me down that road of thinking. Maybe it was the fact that this time of year has been triggery for me because I'm living where we were engaged. And we were engaged this time of year five years ago. And I just attended a wedding reception for a friend, and her theme of her engagement and wedding has been "happily ever after." Not to be rude, but *gag me*. It's triggering to me because when I was younger, I loved princesses, fairy tales, and happily ever afters (still do). But sometimes I don't feel like I have a happily ever after...and that trigger is not the point of this post. Moving on.

On Sunday, I was reflecting on our initial friendship, dating, and engagement. He really pursued me. I had no interest in dating him for mostly superficial reasons, but he kept pursuing me. Eventually, I told him I would not date him and if that meant we couldn't even be friends, then he needed to move on. And it was when he was completely removed from my life that I realized I couldn't live without him. That was when I started thinking about dating him, and shortly after we started dating I knew I was supposed to marry him.

But here's the thing. Our friendship and dating experiences were a roller coaster. Major ups and downs. It was crazy. I remember how completely broken and alone I felt during the point where we cut each other out of our lives completely. I remember feeling so confused and asking God what the heck was going on. I remember being on my knees, sobbing, because I didn't understand why I felt such a powerful connection to Ben when I also didn't really want to date him. And then I remember saying, "Heavenly Father, I don't know what is happening here. But I do know you see all. I refuse to date Ben unless it is to marry him one day because the roller coaster is ridiculous. So if I'm supposed to marry him, help me to develop the romantic feelings I need and the strength to bring him back into my life."

I asked God to help me love Ben. And He did.

So as I thought about this on Sunday, I asked myself WHYYYYY I did that. Why didn't I just let him move on with his life without me? Why didn't I just be grateful that he finally left me alone and move on?

It's kind of confusing to me because when I think about all of this, sometimes I think, "I didn't really love him. So why the hell did I marry him?"

But then I start writing about it in my journal or here, and as I write, so many flashbacks hit me and I remember HOW MUCH I loved him. And even though our story is confusing and had so many ups and downs, I can reflect back on everything and see exactly how God prepared me.

I wanted to marry someone else. By the time I started dating Ben, the ex was supposed to come home from his mission in four months. FOUR. But I felt very strongly (and trust me when I say that I was so confused that I leaned on God for every single decision I made at the time) that I was supposed to date and then marry Ben. And I can't deny that.

I went to my local LDS PASG group Sunday night. After all the things I had been feeling (and have been feeling for months now, because let's be honest, I've been in a pit), being at group Sunday was exactly what I needed. Every single woman there said something in the discussion or their shares that I needed to hear.

I volunteered to share first, and I shared all my conflicting feelings about dating and marrying Ben and how I had been questioning everything. Two other women then shared very similar experiences, which was incredibly validating. Then, one woman talked about her dating and marriage experience. She said she didn't know why at the time, but she took the matter to God multiple times, asking His guidance on marrying her husband. She said, "It brings me great comfort now to know how many times God gave me guidance and approval to marry Husband. I didn't know why I kept asking for reassurance at the time, but I can look back now and know I didn't make a mistake. I didn't know about the addiction, but God did. My husband is the same as he was when I married him, I just didn't know all of who he was. But God did. And I know that things will be okay. Whether or not we divorce one day, things will be okay."

That really hit me. I felt so many parallels to my own life.

Life with an addict is HARD. So hard. Sometimes I think really violent thoughts towards him. Sometimes I wish I had never met him. BUT there has been so much good in our relationship. And I can't deny the good.

I think the thing that is the scariest for me is that after everything we have been through, what if we don't actually end up together for eternity because of his choices? I didn't marry him to end up not together. And I don't want to waste my time on this earth trying to make peace in our relationship and dedicate so much of my life to him here only to end up alone there.

I really do love him. Sometimes I block myself from feeling because feeling is too hard. But last night, in my prayer, God reminded me of everything. And as I've been writing this post, so many memories have hit me. I'm looking at all the pictures on the wall of our living room, and I see so much light and happiness in our past, and I see the hope for our future.

Sometimes I just get really mad at God and Ben for being in this situation. Anger is addictive and hard to move past. But I had an experience last night in prayer (that I will share in another post)  and Sunday night in group that I think will help me to finally move past the anger I've been feeling for the past five months.

When I left group on Sunday, I had a renewed dedication to my marriage. I felt a sense of strength towards sticking to my Safety Plan so I and our Little Man are safe. But I also felt a sense of commitment to my marriage and specifically dating each other. We did the whole "starting over" thing last summer and it was great for us. Granted, he was doing really well in recovery and not acting out like he is now. But as I rethink my boundaries and discuss things with him, I'm hoping that SOON, he will reach a point in his recovery where he is sober. He does have to prove his recovery to me. And then we can rebuild.

I'm terrified he will never have sobriety. But I'm trying to have faith, not fear. I know what God wants me to do with my life right now. So I'm taking the reins and doing what needs to be done for MY recovery and healing right now, and I'll let him figure out his.

I CAN heal, even if he is still active in addiction. His acting out should not determine my happiness.
I CAN heal. So I'm going to.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Meeting with Stake President

I met with my stake president on Sunday.

So. Many. Emotions.

I was really nervous. I felt that I needed to reach out to him at this point in my life, but how awful would it have been if I left there feeling invalidated and uncared for? That was a real fear because I didn't have a good experience with my bishop. And I didn't have a good experience with my LDS counselor who had stellar reviews from what I could tell (and the referrals I was given to him). So I was very nervous to meet with my stake president, but it exceeded expectations by far.

The meeting was exactly what I needed. I was heard. The things I was struggling with were not taken lightly, and he did not use them to make me feel foolish for not having some kind of blind faith in things I was struggling to understand. He listened. He heard. He taught. He spoke with love, kindness, and empathy. I could feel from him something I've been yearning to feel for a long time now in my current ward. The spirit and light I felt in that room with the stake president were simply undeniable, and I was reminded of the love my Heavenly Father has for me, for all of us.

At one point, he told me, "You have been dealt a very unfair hand." And he mourned with me. How validating is that?!

I'm so grateful I had this opportunity, and I'm even more grateful I didn't chicken out of my meeting. I gained so much, and it gave me strength. We had a really beautiful discussion about the Atonement, and reflecting back on this meeting has made some of my other trials this week that much easier.

So many of us have had poor run-ins with church leaders. I pray that we can all have an experience like this where you leave feeling understood, edified, and light.

Saturday, July 11, 2015



Two days ago, I was doing my Jillian Michaels workout and had all these positive thoughts about my life. I was feeling a little sore and achy, so I was trying to listen to my body and not push too much. At the end of the workout, she says something like "It's not about the crunch, it's about being strong physically so you can be strong in every aspect of your life." That rings so true to me. When I can't/don't exercise, or when my body doesn't feel physically capable of life's challenges, it seems that all the emotional challenges are that much more tough (and this element of my life will make more sense a couple of paragraphs down).

As I stretched, I thought about her statement, along with some metaphors relating to knowing how to push my body without pushing past its abilities, and I thought, "I want to write a blog post about this. There is so much depth here to write about and the parallels with dealing with the addiction trauma."

But alas, somewhere during that workout, I injured my back and in a fit of rage, I thought, "Screw this. Screw everything. Apparently nothing I think or do is right or good because God keeps letting this crap happen to me."

A week ago, I was pretty deep in some depression related to the addiction trauma. I finally, FINALLY worked through it on Monday and the week went way up. One of my friends said something to me about not remaining a victim and finding a way to be happy despite the addiction rearing its head in my home. I took that to heart and thought, "You know what? I have been in victim mode." I think I sometimes like being in victim mode because I want to bring my husband down. I want him to realize what he is doing to our family, so I pout and remain a victim, hoping his eyes will be open to see what is happening. But there is a time and place for hurting and working through the pain, and then there is a time for it to be done and for me to stand up and keep pushing onward.

Once I realized I had it in me to step out of victim mode and re-engage in my "real" life, everything seemed so good (except my relationship with Ben--that was still suffering, but that's okay). A lot of things started clicking and I felt really happy. I was listening to my body and mind and doing what felt right every second.

Then this back thing happened.

Thursday night, I really struggled. I mean, I couldn't walk very well at all, and I couldn't even hold my baby. I had some moments where I felt completely abandoned by God because I've been trying to do everything right, and He let this happen to me. I struggled for a lot of reasons that I'm not going to get into because it would make this post a lot longer than it needs to be. The main thing I struggled with, though, was feeling so incredibly dependent on Ben AND not being able to care for my baby. Because we were trying to avoid an ER bill, I took some strong medicine that made it so I couldn't breastfeed (not that I could hold my baby anyway...but still...I couldn't try even if I wanted to), and the poor child had a rough 24 hours. I was also worried about Ben being able to care for the little guy without me because of some past impatience he has demonstrated that has left a lot of unresolved feelings in me.

I've had a lot of time to think and pray over the past 48 hours. And here is what I have learned:

Sometimes things just happen that are completely out of our control. When things like that happen, we have two choices. We can either mourn it and live in the past (what could have been done so this didn't happen to me?), or we can accept it and move on to the best of our abilities. I think it's healthy to have a little bit of both in there. I think it's normal to go through a period of anger or mourning when a major trial hits. But there is a point where you have to be able to accept it and move on if you want to remain emotionally healthy and not let the trial totally drown you. I've spent a lot of time in the anger and mourning period when it comes to this trial of addiction in my marriage. A LOT of time. But I can't change it. No amount of pleading with or anger at God changes it. I have to just grasp what is in my control and move forward.

I have a lot of theories about how/why this back injury happened. I also had a lot of anger about it happening. But none of that matters. What matters is what I see now.

I'm grateful for a husband who has majorly stepped up his game and not emotionally abused me to make me feel like this is somehow my fault or that I am a financial burden to this family (this is the second time I've gone to the ER this year...and because of various health issues I have, I've gone to the ER on average about once a year since we have been married. So...yeah.). I'm also grateful that he understands and has empathy for my frustrations regarding this injury and all that comes with it.

I feel like I've had a good perspective on this whole thing. It sucks, but I can't do anything about it. All I can do is the little things that can help me recover. Walk when I feel up to it. Rest when I feel like my body has had all it can handle. Practice doing things on my own (sometimes Ben still has to help support me as I sit down or stand back up). Study my scriptures (every day this week I have read the EXACT verses I needed, as if God is speaking straight to ME from the Book of Mormon). Pray. Call on the Atonement.

For as hard as I've worked to maintain a balance between being married and keeping distance over the past few months, I've had to let go of all of that and depend on Ben for so many things. And as much as this trial sucks, it's been really good for our marriage.

Every once in a while, I still get a twinge of anger. But I'm letting myself feel it and let it pass through me. It's okay to be angry, but it's not okay (for me right now) to let it fester and become ugly. The best thing for me is to allow myself to feel, accept the situation, recognize the good, and keep moving forward. And really, I'm making efforts to use the Atonement every day. Sometimes every moment. It helps keep the crazy in check. I love the Atonement. But that's another post for another day.

But don't get me wrong. Sometimes A lot of times, this is how I really feel...

And that's okay.