Sunday, September 29, 2013


This week has been hard, happy, exhausting, crazy, and blessed. I've fought anger. I've taught impatience. I've felt unloved and not special. I've felt very loved and very special. I've experienced many moments of pain and many tender mercies. I've felt alone and seen God's hand. There is much I could write about, but I'll just simply say I have a testimony of God and Jesus Christ. They live, and they love us. 

And now I will skip anything I wanted to say about this week (except for the fact that we moved out of my parents' house yesterday!!) and get to the heart of what I'm thinking and feeling today. 

Yesterday, Jack and I were mad at each other for a good chunk of the morning. While I was driving home from getting the moving truck, I had an angry conversation with him in my head (so I had arguments ready if I had to defend my mood). It was during this time that I realized I had this unsettled feeling that he wasn't telling me something. I had that feeling a lot this week, but I never addressed it because I didn't want to deal with it. Plus, I didn't have anything other than the feeling that he wasn't telling me something. 

He wrote about it on his blog. On Wednesday. My birthday. He thought I would read it. He hoped I would read it, but I didn't. I rarely have time to read any blogs except on Sundays when I catch up. Last night, we were finally alone in our new house, finally feeling some peace, when he asked if I read his blog. I hadn't, so I read his three-day old post. Old news for the rest of the blogging community, but fresh to me. He struggled all week. 

My first reaction was crying because all the tension I felt about him not telling me something finally disappeared. And it validated my feelings. Then we both just sat and thought. I'm sure he was wondering what I would say/do and was a little afraid. 

I feel so torn. I feel sad, a little mad, a little hopeless, but still full of hope. Yesterday, during the RS broadcast, I decided to turn over my anger, impatience, and fears over to God. That was before this discovery incident. That decision was based on all the negative feelings I had suffered all week long. Since then, I've felt much more peace and hope, and I felt more prepared to take in this fresh pain and turn to Christ. 

But then I'm torn because I kind of want him to feel what I feel. I want him to understand what this is doing to me. And I feel sorry for him. I feel sad for him. He is really struggling and is afraid of what could happen to our marriage, and I really can't be encouraging right now. There is a line. I don't know what it is, but there is one. I am dedicated to keeping our marriage intact and upholding my covenants, but really how hard is he trying? I know there are victories for him in fighting the addiction, but the losses are what will destroy us and him. 

He told me last night he doesn't want the addiction to define him. I told him it doesn't have to, but he has to choose that. Right now, he seems to be letting it define him. He has to fight hard. I have to fight hard. And we have to fight together. 

Addiction sucks. It really does. I'm trying not to let this bring me down, but it's exhausting. Week after week. Day after day. When will I completely go crazy? It's bound to happen, right? I guess not if I can keep turning to the Atonement. 

This is just hard. While I am grateful for how we have grown and the beauty that lies in our relationship, I do miss the innocence I thought we had. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Catching Light

Today I am filled with light. It's a light that has been barely out of reach. I've been chasing it, not allowing myself to give up.

My life is kind of crazy right now. It's not crazy in a bad way, well except for the house-hunting part, which is a totally separate story. I will say this, though, I've felt anger and craziness from the house hunt that I've only felt from the addiction being a part of my life, and it is miserable. It's nowhere I want to be. So, along with that kind of crazy, there is school, my students, the Miamaid calling I just received, the school club I'm running, and a class I'm in charge of that requires a lot of work and outside of school time for both me and the students. And the living with my family thing... I just feel crazy.

I barely have time to read my scriptures. I'm trying to fit it in every day. I'm making sure I pray morning, night, and everywhere in between. I'm trying to be aware of my blessings and express thanks to God every chance I get. I'm seeking light. I'm seeing light, but I haven't been able to feel it envelope me in a few weeks.

Today I did. I caught it, I let the light swallow me up, and I'm trying to let that light wash all the hurt, pain, crazy, and stress away. Right now, I could be grading papers (some might say I should be grading, what with how far behind I am from being sick last week and having no energy after school). However, I felt the prompting to do some cleaning for my mom. I pushed it aside for a second, then remembered that I am really trying to act on promptings. So I did what I felt prompted to do. Then I felt prompted to read my scriptures right now, and that the grading and lesson-planning for next week would fall into place when I get to it today. So I prayed and asked for guidance on my scriptures, and I picked up to read. As I was reading, I felt like I should backtrack a little bit, so I did. Then these verses hit me (Helaman 12: 7-8):

"O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God."

These verses (and the verses that follow that are so beautiful and poetic) hit me in a way that they never have before. I was reminded that everything I'm dealing with right now is nothing. All of this compared to God and what He can do is nothing. My trials? Nothing. My pain? Nothing. My stress? This house hunt? NOTHING! God can make up for all of it. He can command things to be moved. He can give me strength. He can lift me up. He can do everything I need Him to when I feel like nothing. He will do everything I need Him to. And He will guide me to do the things I can do to grow and become more like Him. 

As I pondered these verses and my nothingness, I was reminded of all that He has given me. Even though my life feels crazy and I have to fight for my peace, my life has been so amazing. I have been blessed with courage and strength. I have been blessed with the ability to face fears. I have been able to see myself touch lives. I have been given strength to use my talents and gifts I've been blessed with to reach out to others. I have seen myself blooming. I am finally pulling out of the self-hatred I've been fighting and seeing beauty in myself. I'm seeing the godliness, the queen that is within me. I'm seeing things in a better light, and that is a tender mercy.

My life has been hard. It's been bumpy, but I'm so glad God has been making me fight for it. I'm so glad He is not removing this all from me. He is giving me strength when I absolutely need it and giving me a guiding hand, but He is letting me work for myself. And the result is absolutely beautiful. I'm not even there yet, and I can feel it.

I recently discovered Katherine Nelson's latest album, Born Brave. The songs are fantastic. The message and the intent of the album is beautiful. Look it up.

I'm completely in love with a few of the songs on this album. I've listened to them over and over this week. They have given me strength and lifted me up. I want to share one with you. It's sad, but it's perfect for me. It puts a lot of things into perspective. 

The others I absolutely love are Soldier Girls, Born, Brave, and Good for Me. Just in case you were wondering :D 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I'm More Than a Conqueror

The feeling of God's love I felt during April 2011's General Conference will forever stay with me. It was just the week before Conference that I learned about the addiction and my world came crashing down around me. I guess it was good timing because at the very least, having General Conference right after that episode was a great tender mercy.

I remember crying a lot. But, this time, it was good crying. I felt hope. I felt strength. I felt like I could do this. After feeling miserable and hopeless for a better part of that week, these feelings swirled within me and gave me wings.

Whenever those good feelings buckle and weaken, I go back to that conference and re-read my favorite talks. We all know the addiction is a roller coaster. Times may be good. Times may be bad. Emotions may be joyful, and emotions may be angry and bitter. I haven't really been angry and bitter this week, but I've definitely been feeling a little hopeless and a lot depressed the past couple of days. It really hit me when I realized that the relapses are becoming less like relapses and more...just...habit.

My favorite talk ever, the one that always gives me strength and hope through anything, is from this conference I've talked about. When my world came crashing down, the Spirit taught me that I am more than a conqueror through Him that loved me. I'm more than a conqueror. I'm beautiful. I'm amazing. I'm a princess--the daughter of a king. I will conquer the horror that is threatening to destroy my marriage and my life. I will not be separated from the love of my God and Savior.

I read this talk again today. I find it amazing how at different times and aspects of this trial, different parts of the talk speak to me. I can't even describe what I love and what I have learned from it. I can only encourage you to read it for yourself and let the Spirit whisper to you what God wants you to know.

Happy Sabbath!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sex is Sacred

Today, while driving home from work, I called my husband to ask him a brief question. Upon learning that he wasn't even at home, I asked him where he was (I thought he had gotten off work at least an hour before...). He had a visit with his counselor that he started seeing recently. I asked him how that went (and was a little annoyed that he didn't tell me he was going today, but that's not really relevant. And I guess it's possible that he did tell me and I forgot), and he started talking about things he was learning from his visits, specifically today.

Did you know it's possible that my husband has viewed child pornography? I hadn't ever thought of that before, but it is very possible. Just like it's possible that a 22 year old male could unknowingly have sex with a 16 year old female (who lied about her age and said she was 19 at the party they were both attending). True story. I learned it from my husband's counselor. He didn't name names, obviously, but told this very real story about one of his clients who is currently in jail for that very incident. Because the girl was a child.

Then it hit me, I wonder how often both parties know they are being filmed or photographed (because, in my mind, a child wouldn't agree to be filmed having sex. But, my values are different than most of the world's these days, so I'm only left to wonder). I wonder if he has viewed pornography where maybe the man or woman involved didn't even know they were being documented and that others were seeing them. Another very real possibility. I brought that up in our conversation, and he started talking about how most of the time they probably know. "Well, isn't that weird?" I asked. "Isn't it weird to just do that and know others will watch you?" "They probably don't care. They are probably getting paid, and they probably barely even know each other," was his response.

I let that sink in. They are probably getting paid and barely even know each other.

It's infuriating.

Yes, I know I'm naive. I know I'm new to this stuff. It's all infuriating.

So many thoughts rushed through my mind, and I finally settled on one: my spirit is offended. I couldn't really figure out why that offended me so, but it comes down to this--sex is sacred. Sex is very sacred to me. And the sanctity of sex is being trivialized. Many people would say that it shouldn't matter--what other people do with their sex has no impact on me, so it shouldn't matter. But it DOES MATTER. It has a very huge impact on me because what other people do with their sex has an impact on my husband and his actions and our relationship. It has a huge impact on the value and sanctity of what happens in my relationship with my husband.

I do realize that the things impacting my relationship do stem from his choices and my choice to stay with him. But still. Sex is sacred. The way society is turning sex into something of little value, making it casual and meaningless offends my spirit. Not in the "I'm offended so I hate the world" kind of way. It's just a little dagger to the heart. My spirit is sad at how the world is turning.

And...that's all. Sex is sacred and my spirit aches for the wickedness that is invading the world. Well, and my heart aches for my husband who has had yet another bad week. I'm really worried about him, actually. Addiction and depression are getting him down, and I'm afraid of the downward spiral that hopefully will not come in full force.

I also got a confession out of him tonight about more relapses lately. It was a small instant pain, but then I felt it swallowed up by the power of the Atonement with the other things I've been trying to turn over to Him lately. Small victory for me. I hope the peace I felt lasts and that I don't break down in a few days. But, hey, at least if I break down in a few days, it will be over the weekend and I won't have the fear of breaking down in tears in the middle of school :D

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Accountability to Godly Principles

I think I've needed a break from "addiction recovery." I put that in quotation marks because ultimately, this addiction recovery experience is to bring me closer to Christ and be able to live a full and happy life. That being said, I've needed a break from so much concentration and energy being spent specifically on addiction recovery and healing. I've been focusing more on qualities and attributes about myself--characteristics that need to be made better and feeling peace and joy in my life--on my own, rather than through the 12 steps.

I've had a lot of responsibilities on my plate. I've experienced a lot of stress this year. I'm a stresser, you guys. A STRESSER. Life stresses me out, and I allow things to prevent me from feeling peace. I've felt a lot of peace through my 12-step journey, but at the same time, feeling like I'm focusing so much on the addiction and my recovery stresses me out because I feel like the addiction is ruling my life. As if the addiction dictates what I'm studying and I HAVE to make sure I'm including my 12 steps in my studies.

So I stopped for a while. I finished step 9 and didn't move on to step 10 because I didn't want to add that extra pressure. I knew what step 10 was (daily accountability), and I kept that in the back of my mind. I've thought a lot about the things I've been working on as a result of my inventory and the following steps, and I've just been trying to make them better. I mean, it really all comes down to being more like Christ.

I picked up my 12-step manual again this week. I felt ready to move on in the program.

I love how perfectly the steps fit together. The first nine are learning and growing steps, and the last three are maintenance steps. All the principles the first steps teach are the things that I need to now base my life on. Now, I'm holding myself accountable for all of those things. I'm holding myself accountable every day so I can see my progress and how close or far away I am from my goals. Every day is a constant process to bring me back to Christ.

I've tried to develop a change of heart. To maintain that mighty change of heart requires effort. If anybody knows that, I do (and I'm sure you do too). Holy cow, it's HARD to maintain the things I've learned. Sometimes I have my own relapses. I have a difficult time refraining from anger. I have a difficult time speaking with love. Sometimes it's hard for me to say sincere prayers. Sometimes it's hard for me to feel the love of God for others around me. It's also sometimes hard to give service and look outside of the things I'm struggling with.

Of course, my own personal relapses tend to coincide with Jack's, but still. Do I want the addiction to rule me? Do I want to be angry and cold just because I'm hurting? NO! Of course not! I want to be the best person I can be. And I'm trying to be. Sometimes, it's just hard.

I'm learning to forgive myself and move on quicker. When I do get down and mad, I've finally discovered my agency. I have the choice to stay that way or make efforts to move on. It's not easy. It's so much easier to just be angry when I feel those temptations of Satan roaring around me. But it's so much more joyful to find the way to move past that. When I can forgive myself for the little things I've done wrong, when I can forgive myself for dwelling on the anger and move on, I've found so much more happiness.

It takes work to stay spiritually fit. 

I'm an athlete. I know how hard it is and how much work is required to keep the body toned. I know how much work it requires to win championships. I know how much work is required to be a top-notch athlete.

I'm also a learner. I worked really hard in college to earn As. I had to be at the top of my game to spit out information for my tests, especially in my really hard classes. To really do well, I checked myself every day. I studied information. I quizzed myself. I did checks for accountability to make sure that I knew the necessary information to do well on the test.

That same amount of work is required in my spiritual athletics--games, championships, fitness and conditioning--and learning. I need to work out daily. I need to hold myself accountable. I need honest, prayerful self-appraisal. I need to ask myself searching questions about my feelings, thoughts, motives, and conduct. I need to watch for signs of pride. I need to take my weaknesses to God. I need to take my pains to God and allow Him to give me rest. I need to keep my heart set on the Savior and remember His teachings and love. I need to serve.

But just like any athlete, I need to know when I've reached my limit so I don't injure myself. I need to make sure I'm taking care of my spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. I need to seek out balance and serenity. When necessary, I need to take time-outs and breathe. I need to check myself in stressful situations and see where I'm being triggered.

I've been trying to hold myself accountable, but now it's even more important. I know the principles. Of course, I don't know them perfectly, but I know enough to make changes and hold myself accountable. The biggest thing I'm working on is letting go. Letting go of my pains. Letting go of my stress. Letting go of my desire to control everything. The next biggest thing is counseling with God and accepting His plan. I'm trying to really understand what He wants me to do. I'm trying to follow my promptings. And I'm really trying to accept His will. Sometimes it's really hard because when I look at all the responsibilities I have in all aspects of my life (church, school, family, group), it completely overwhelms me. But, when I look at it all through God's eyes and see things with perspective, it gives me motivation to keep going.

This week was really stressful. I didn't go to bed before 11 any day, and I got up around 5:30 every day. Not terrible, but after basically two weeks of that, I felt completely exhausted by the end of the week. This weekend I had a big thing going on for a stake assignment I have, and that completely wore me out too. But, every day I saw tremendous blessings. Every day I asked God to help me see things with perspective and to give me strength to keep going, and He did. I have seen many reasons why He has asked me to do the things He has asked of me. I have seen growth, and I've seen my specific talents at work. I have felt a tremendous amount of joy in serving Him and His children.

I know I've been able to have such clear vision this week because I've been holding myself accountable to the things I've learned through my trials. I've been holding myself accountable and not allowing the nasties to creep in and stay. I feel so blessed, and I also feel like I know I can do hard things.

My wise bishop told me a few months ago that my life was about to get much harder and the responsibilities would only pile on even more. He was right. But because I decided to embrace things and lean on God, I've been able to have hope, motivation, and strength in doing all that He has asked me to do.

And I'm holding myself accountable every day so I can keep that proper perspective and be an instrument in His hands.

This song speaks to me. Beautiful music in the hands of beautiful artists.