Ben has been out of town. Normally, when he goes out of town I get bitter and angry, which I think has to do with insecure attachment, triggers, and trauma. However, this time was different. I didn't feel that same anger or bitterness. I just accepted it and was determined to make it a good week.
Of course, that went to pot on Tuesday. I should've known the more I accept things, the more I will be challenged.
Tuesday night I found out Ben had relapsed. This hit me harder than I actually thought it would.
For one thing, we are experiencing a trial that we haven't experienced before: He is currently not allowed to exercise the priesthood. At all. Not even in the home (in the past, when he has been asked not to exercise the priesthood, he has been encouraged to still exercise the priesthood in the home). I can't remember when this happened, but it's been months. And I feel like our family has suffered from not being able to have Ben exercise the priesthood. For reasons I don't really want to explain right now, it's hard for me to reach out and ask someone else for a priesthood blessing, for either me or the little guy. I do when I feel like it's really super necessary, but if I think, "Well, maybe I'll pass this time," (which I have been thinking way more than I used to since I can't actually ask the man in my home), it turns into a lot of opportunities passed on.
Our bishop set certain dates/goals for Ben to help him work full activity in the church again. This Sunday (like, in two days) was supposed to be the one where if he could remain sober till this Sunday, he could start partaking of the sacrament again. He was so close. So close! And he next mark (I can't remember the spacing though) was for Priesthood, and the next one for the temple. I was way more devastated by the fact that this was a setback in him being able to exercise the priesthood again than by the details of acting out.
Anyway, it took a few hours to sink in. But then, when it did, I was a mess. A MESS. I reached out to my bishop, who happens to live across the street, asking for a blessing (I'm not sure I would have reached out to our home teachers in this circumstance, but I didn't have that option anyway because I have no clue who they are). It was pretty late, 10:00, so I decided if I had no response by 10:15, I would just go to bed. At 10:15, I had no response, so I sent him another text saying I was going to bed and not to worry about it.
That night, Baby Boy slept terribly. When he woke up at 12:15, I managed to get him back to sleep fairly quickly, but when he woke up at 4:30, all hell broke loose. No joke. We both spent much of the next two hours crying. And then two more hours crying/drugging ourselves with Mother Goose Club.
I asked God for strength to deal with it. But when I felt that strength waning and Satan starting to take over, I started begging, pleading with God to just let me get this kid to sleep. He needed sleep, I surely needed sleep. And I felt like I just knew that if I prayed/begged/pleaded enough, He would intervene. At 8:30, baby fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, and I did not feel like it was an answer to prayer. I felt bitter, angry, and violent (I did not do anything violent other than punch a wall. But I'm sure you have felt violent anger before...), and I felt like I was just an inch away from Satan taking complete control over me.
I didn't understand why God had abandoned me. Maybe He didn't, and when the kid fell asleep it was because of divine intervention. I didn't feel that way, though. I felt like I had done everything I could, and here I was with a fresh disclosure weighing me down and a child who wouldn't sleep (and I had been sick, so generally tired anyway). I felt like I knew my own limitations, and when I prayed for strength, I was doing okay. But when the strength faded and I prayed for sleep, I needed that help right then. Why it took two more hours for that prayer to be answered, I don't know. But I felt abandoned. I felt on the verge of Satan taking over, and I didn't understand why God had let it go that far when so much pain could have been avoided if He had helped when I called out.
And then, my bishop never reached out to me. He knew about the disclosure, and he knew Ben was out of town. I just thought, surely he would reach out to me to check on me and make sure I was okay after the text I had sent him the night before. And I thought, if God loves me, He will prompt my bishop to come visit with me. But nothing. He has told us multiple times to reach out to him any time, and many times, our reaching out has gone completely unanswered. So, that felt like yet another way I was abandoned by God. I was too hurt to reach out to him again.
Some other ridiculously stupid stuff happened on Wednesday that made me feel like the day was just hilariously terrible (but I was smiling by the end of the day), and I had worked through my feelings so I no longer felt bitter, angry, or abandoned. Confused, yes, but okay. I seriously went through a period of thinking I should just go inactive because maybe the bishop would pay more attention if I was an inactive member of the ward who reached out. I also considered this option just out of pure spite. But, in the end, I knew that would be a poor choice and I just tried to accept the week's happenings and move on with my life.
Yesterday (Thursday), so many things happened that showed me God had not abandoned me. I just felt strong, capable, and loved. I sent up a lot of prayers of gratitude.
But what happened tonight is the sole purpose of everything else I have written.
This week has been exhausting, to say the least. Beautiful, but exhausting. Tonight, I got the little one in bed and sat on the couch wondering what to do first. I had promised myself earlier in the day that I WOULD do gospel study tonight, but the time came and I just felt so exhausted that all I wanted to do was veg. But, I chose to read a talk from general conference entitled "I Am A Child of God" by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom (read it here). I didn't get to pay enough attention to conference last weekend, so I've been studying the talks throughout the week. And this one, well, this was perfectly timed to come across today.
Words cannot even describe how beautiful this talk is. I highly encourage everyone to study it and let the Spirit speak to you in whatever way you need. But I want to share a couple quotes that particularly spoke to me:
and the last verse of "How Firm a Foundation"
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
These words spoke to me. They reminded me that I cannot see all, but God can. I don't know why I'm going through all the trials I am right now (there are more than I have just written about). Sometimes I feel like I am suffering so much in so many different ways, and I wonder why I can't just have a "normal" life--whatever that is. Why do I have to keep trying so hard all the time? Why can't I just have some peace...like my husband could go out of town, sure, but even if he had to relapse, couldn't I just have a baby who slept through the night he relapsed instead of waking up and being crazy when I'm exhausted and in trauma? Can't I catch a break?
But the reality is, after the 24 hours where pretty much everything went wrong, I had chosen God's path. And I felt peace and the knowledge that things were okay even though I didn't understand why I was experiencing what I did. And, two days after that first 24 hours, I have seen so much more light. We truly can't experience the light until we have experienced the darkness. I caught myself expressing gratitude for my trials on Wednesday. I didn't even know why I felt grateful, but I knew there had to be a divine purpose. There is. There always is.