Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Road Less Traveled

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This poem has been in my mind the last couple of weeks, particularly the last verse. I feel like Heavenly Father has led me to where two roads have diverged, and that I have chosen the one less traveled by. The divergence He has led me to, is two different paths to a graduate degree. In the back of my mind for months now has been the thought that I have graduate school options, and I have fought those thoughts a lot. I honestly had no desire to go back to school. None. Now, it's all I can think about, and I am excited.

It always amazes me that I can feel inspiration from Him so clearly, when just a few years ago, I had done my best to cut myself off from God. That is a story for another time, or you can read it on my Instagram post form earlier this week (@leavingnothingunsaid on Instagram). Like I said, I've had thoughts about graduate school in the back of my head for a few months, but in the last two weeks, He has brought them front and center. He has shown me that I need to take a new road, one I have not traveled before. I have had two major choices in fields of study in my mind, and logically, one makes a lot more sense than the other. It is directly related to my undergraduate degree, it probably has a higher earning potential, and it has a high demand. The other degree, is not directly related to my undergrad degree, but I can move right to it, it is definitely the road less traveled for me, it makes the least logical sense of the two choices, and yet I feel called to take it. I always knew what I was meant to do growing up, from the time I was little. I never wavered. I have followed that path for 21 years, this would be a completely different career. It is, however, a career that I am deeply passionate about and feel called.

I give all the credit where it is due, my Father in Heaven. He has guided my life. He has lead me through the worst trial of my life. He will continue to bring me through. As I have taken steps down that road less traveled, it has felt peaceful and right. It's not going to be easy, but it is what I am meant to do.

Travelling,

T.

*poem from poetryfoundation.org

Thursday, February 15, 2018

One is the Loneliest Number

Heavenly Father has truly blessed me to have amazing people in my life, I have felt His love so deeply through the people He has placed in my life. In the last few months though, hard and amazing events have happened in the lives of a lot of my support people that have pulled them away. I don't blame any of them, everyone has to know their limits, and everyone deserves to focus on their own needs, hopes and dreams. My sister has had a lot going on, working full time, building a house, going to school, so she hasn't had a lot to give me. One of my closest friends has gone back to school, and another one has had to put her mom in assisted living and has bought a house. My LifeStar group ended abruptly and with a fair amount of emotion. My parents just moved into a new home, so they have been busy. My sister and parents already live a few hundred miles away, so that limits in person support any way. The relationship with my "sisters" that I had through marriage has changed with the divorce (which is to be expected). All these things have happened in the last few months.

I still have some amazing support in my life. I have some amazing friends that I reach out to daily, and they allow me to be there for them. I have a therapist that knows me so well and is helping me navigate all this. I have a group of friends that I am able to video chat with.  I have friends at church. I'm not without support, but I AM lonely.

I miss having someone that I could talk to at the end of the day. Someone to share the joy and burden of parenting with.  I miss having someone to sit on the couch with and watch tv. I miss having someone to hold me on a hard day and just let me cry. These things were largely missing the last few years of my marriage, but there was still the hope of having them when B and I were married.

Maybe my loneliness is partly grief for what I dreamed and hoped to have in my marriage and never did on a consistent basis, and didn't really have at all the last few years. Maybe I am grieving the loss of a partner. That feels true. Sometimes I need to start typing or writing in order to get the feelings out. I am grieving the loss of the marriage I always wanted I think. I don't think I am grieving that loss of my actual marriage, I am grieving the loss of the marriage I always wanted. I never gave up hope that we could have that marriage. Clear up until a few weeks before our divorce, I still has some hope that we could rebuild and have an even stronger marriage than we had ever had. Hope is so hard at times.

I don't have unrealistic expectations of marriage. I know that every marriage has challenges and that it is by working through those challenges that growth happens and strength is gained. I want to put in the work to build a relationship of trust and understanding. I want a partnership.

I keep getting the message that I'm not ready to date and/or have a relationship. It's coming from all over, including from myself. I know I have growing to do. I know that I have trust issues and body shame. I know I lack confidence and love for myself. I know that I'm probably not ready for a relationship. That doesn't diminish the need I have for connection. It doesn't ease the loneliness, or decrease the desire to have a partner. I know that I need to learn to surrender these feelings to my Heavenly Father. I know that Christ has already carried this burden for me. I have true faith in the power of The Atonement. Right now I am having difficulty accessing it. The loneliness is so bone deep right now that I literally feel like I have a hollow place in side my chest.

I also know that every single day I see Heavenly Father's tender mercies in my life. I see His love for me in both little and big ways. I feel his care and concern for me. Because I feel and know these things, I know that I will be able to get through this. I am not hopeless, just weary. I know that what is happening right now, this bone deep loneliness, won't stay forever. I know that I will be able to access Christ's loving atonement for me again. I know that this is just a temporary stopping point on my journey. I will get through this. I will find joy and connection again.

I can't predict the future, or see when or if I will have another relationship or marriage. I know that Heavenly Father's hand is in my life. I have faith that I will continue to be blessed by him. Just writing this has helped lift some of the loneliness and allowed some hope to sneak in.

Less lonely,

T.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trusting Touch Again

One of the hardest things for me about Betrayal Trauma, is that touch became unsafe. Anytime B. touched me I felt he had ulterior motives. I always wondered what he "expected" from the touch. Was I going to get used again? It didn't matter what his intentions were, because he had touched me in unsafe ways, all touch started to feel unsafe. I hated it, because I am a very physically affectionate person, although because I felt I couldn't trust B's touch, I didn't want to touch our be touched. It hurt. I have found that I have learned how to trust touch in vulnerable situations again though.

If you are just learning to trust again, this may seem unfathomable to you. It certainly felt unfathomable to me for a while. I was introduced to a massage therapist we will call C. Well, I actually won a massage from her about fourish years ago. I was terrified the first time I went. It was scary to get naked on a table and let anyone touch me. I wanted to have a healing person touch me, but I was scared. C. was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G at putting me at ease. It took me a long time to be able to completely relax and let go though. She was patient with me and her character and energy are innately soothing, so I gradually started to trust that she could help me relax by using therapeutic touch. I started to trust someone to touch me for my benefit. 

She has been using a modality called Myofascial Release Therapy on me for over a year now. It's a gentle touch that stretches and lengthens the fibers that cover all of our muscles and bind them together in a continuous sheet. Our entire body is covered in fascia, and by releasing the fascia the muscles relax. It is far more therapeutic for me than an actual massage. For more information about Myofascial Release Therapy click here

I'll admit to being a skeptic at first, how could such a gentle touch relax my muscles which are often in knots. I will very willingly admit, I was wrong. This gentle touch has done more to help me relax and heal both physically and emotionally than any other form of touch has. 

It wasn't until my treatment a month ago though, that I realized what an amazing gift C. had given me. I had learned to trust touch again. I had learned to allow another to touch me when I am most vulnerable in a safe and healing manner. It was seriously one of those lightning bolt moments. I realized as I was getting dressed that I trust C. completely, and in turn have learned to trust other touch. I implicitly trust that she has my healing as her focus when she is working on me. I have learned that touch CAN be healing. My body and my heart realized this a long time before my mind did. I thought back and realized that I let my guard down with her a long time ago. I trust her to intuitively know what my body needs and provide it (and she never fails to do so).

To lay there naked, in that vulnerable state, and know that I'm being protected (she keeps me modest and comfortable), and be able to completely relax, is remarkable. It is literally the only time all month that my brain "turns off" and finds peace. It is someplace I can be physically and emotionally vulnerable that I never feel judged, and I know I will never be taken advantage of. In fact, C. has gone above and beyond in making sure I get treated and that I am healing. 

I know that Heavenly Father has given me the gift that is C., so that I can learn to trust that touch is safe again. I know that she is an angel here on earth. My respect and admiration of her is deep. She has truly been a gift in my life that I feel I can never repay, but that because of who she is I will never feel I need to. Thank you C., for teaching me to trust that touch can be healing and safe again.

Sincerely,

T.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

An Update

I realized that I haven't journaled here since February, and that I have three posts started that I never finished, so I will give you an update.

I haven't gone back to review anything I have previously posted, so I am sorry if this is a bit of a surprise.

First thing, B. and I are divorced. We made the decision, filed, and was finalized in about five or six weeks. It was surreal how fast it moved. It was a relief in a lot of ways too though. It was a weight lifted to know that there was an answer, and the answer was that I had given all I could and that it was ok to be done. It was a relief to know that I am no longer on constant guard in my own home. That I have the space to heal and grow as I need to, without so many triggers and emotions on a daily basis. It was hard. We were married for twenty-two years in March. We have two amazing children that are affected by this. There were financial repercussions. I took all those things into account when I told B. that I wanted a divorce. I still have complete peace knowing it was the right thing for all of us at this point. Not the easy thing, but the right thing.

Many may thing that divorce is the easy answer, and in some ways maybe it is...but it wasn't an easy answer for me. It was difficult and drawn out (it took me nearly three years of working recovery to get to that point).

I have also seen some incredible growth as a result of the divorce. I have become much more independent. I have tackled home improvement projects I never would have before. I rarely worry about what others think of me, and when I do I can generally surrender them pretty easily. I have so much less anger in my heart. I have learned wholeheartedly how loved I am by my Heavenly Father. I am proud of the woman I am becoming. It's not all easy street, in fact none of it is. I have several days that I just want to crawl in bed and hide from everything, but overall, I am happy. I am learning. I am growing. I am loved.

Learning and growing,

T.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Two Very Dangerous Words

IF ONLY

This are two of the most dangerous words in the english language. They are also two words that are common in my vocabulary. I had gotten to the point where they were very infrequent visitors to my thoughts, but lately they have crept back in again. I found myself thinking, "If only B would do what he tells me he is going to, I could keep up better." "If only I had some extra money to buy some new furniture, my home would feel more peaceful." "If only I had something to watch on tv, I would be motivated to fold laundry."

Why are these statements so dangerous? What is wrong with thinking of things that you wish would happen? If only, robs me of the peace and joy I could have right in this moment, because it takes the responsibility for my happiness away from me and puts it on something or someone outside of me. Happiness is not to be found from things or people. There is only one source for happiness, God. I need to surrender my fears, shame, lack of motivation, anxiety, and control to Heavenly Father. I need to put my trust in Him. He knows what I need. He knows that I am imperfect and flawed, yet He still loves me. 

I am loved, and the only way to fight through life and find happiness is by surrendering to God's love. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Big Changes and Unexpected Emotions

half empty closet
This weekend is bringing about big changes for us. B is moving out. For now this is just a separation, we don't know what will happen, it is a long separation though. B has signed a lease on an apartment and we will reassess where we go from here in the future. This isn't a spur of the moment decision, and it hasn't come quickly. I just haven't posted about it here because I wanted to wait until we had told those closest to us. Then time got away from me, so here we are on the eve of the move.

Because I don't want to forget how this came about I am going to share it here. It was almost two months ago now that B and I were having a heated discussion and he said some incredibly hurtful things to me. I had a very strong feeling that it was time to be done. This was a super emotional argument and so I put the feeling aside until I had time to take it out and look at it. For the next several days I earnestly thought and prayed about whether that prompting was the path the Lord would have me take, or whether it was my own emotions taking over. I felt nothing but peace about making a move towards divorce. I also spoke to my therapist about it. I went to see my Bishop and he and I talked about his concerns and questions. He gave me a beautiful blessing that spoke of my willingness to follow the Lord's direction in my life. I then spent time in the Temple in prayer where I had a deeply moving experience. I knew that the decision to proceed towards divorce was the right decision. I don't pretend that Heavenly Father wants to see my marriage fail, but I also don't think he wants to see me continue to live in Trauma and pain. I felt that it was the decision that would bring me the most peace.

I proceeded to tell B that I felt it was time we made preparations for separate lives. He was shocked. He was angry. Then he pulled out a Hail Mary. He worked hard at recovery activities. It was then that the doubt started to creep in. Was I really sure this was the right decision? I felt confused and angry. I was mad that he waited until I was ready and at peace with the decision to move towards a separate life to try and work on recovery. At least more earnestly than he had since the beginning of our journey towards recovery over two years ago. I had all these mixed emotions and I was so unhappy. I had anything but peace.

I was so torn. I didn't want my marriage to end, at least not when it still had potential to be great. It was during this month of indecision that I saw my therapist and she said the words I needed to hear. "You need to get honest with God and with yourself." Those words were the tiniest shove I needed to get of the proverbial fence. I took a deep breath, looked at my heart, said some raw and vulnerable prayers, and knew that separation was still the right answer. I told B. He actually agreed. Our home is not a happy place to be. Neither of us feel that this is a healthy environment.

We agreed on December 1st as the actual move out date, and then I told him he could have until this weekend so he wouldn't have to move out during the week. Then he did basically nothing at all until 2 weeks ago. He finally started looking in ernest and has packed and moved some stuff. Tomorrow he will have help to get some furniture moved over. It still doesn't really feel like this is my life.

This last ten days or so I have exhausted me emotionally. I did not expect to feel so many painful emotions. The overriding one has been grief. I expected to be sad, mad, anxious, relieved, and afraid. I somehow did not expect the ever present grief I have had. I am not mourning the loss of THIS marriage. I am mourning the loss of the marriage we could have had. I am mourning the loss of the man I feel in love with 22 years ago. I hurts so much to feel like we really could have had a healthy and happy marriage, and no that dream is ending. Maybe not forever, but for now it is. I know that we could have been happy and truly had a great marriage, and I am grieving the loss of that potential. Our marriage hasn't been all bad, please don't think that. It has been incredibly unhealthy for a long time though.

Tonight I took our son out for some fun so that B could have some space to pack and move some stuff. He was at his new place when I got home. I walked in the bedroom and felt like I had been sucker punched. I literally lost my breath and started to shed some tears. The first thing I noticed was the missing bookshelf. Then it was my framed bridal portrait that had been on top of the bookshelf resting on the floor against the wall. Then another picture frame turned face down caught my attention and I picked it up to see a picture of us on our wedding day. That was the moment that it really hit me that this was happening. The empty hangers in half the closet looked so lonely. I did not expect to feel so raw. This hurts so much more than I thought it would.

I still have peace knowing that this is the right decision for us. I know that we both need the space from the toxicity that has surrounded us. It is so hard though. I know that Heavenly Father will continue to sustain me. That He is aware of me. I know that I will be ok. It's just going to take time. I don't know what the future holds for my marriage, but I do know that I will continue to follow my Heavenly Father's guiding hand in my life. I know that as I lean on Him I will grow stronger. I know I am loved and cared for.

Achingly,

T.

If you would like to know more about my faith please click here. I would love to share more about what I believe with you, because it has been the only thing that has helped me truly find any healing. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me at awifeprogressing@gmail.com for anything you want to say or ask.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Letter To My New Bishop

We recently got a new Bishop (he is our lay clergy, you can learn more about that here). He called B in to his office to talk to him, and they discussed B's addiction. B came home feeling loved and cared for, and he told me that the Bishop wanted to learn about Betrayal Trauma, as he hadn't heard of it before. I have felt prompted to share that email here. I hope it helps someone else.

Note: I have edited it to include the hyperlinks, and I have removed some of the personal details for anonymity sake.

Bishop,

Thank you for your willingness to learn about the impact of sex addiction on a spouse. I have attached a packet put together specifically to share about this for Bishops. It has some good information, but it is a lot, take your time and read it. I will also include other resources that can help you. 

Part of understanding about Betrayal Trauma, is learning about sex addiction itself (pornography addiction is a form of sex addiction, pornography just happens to be B's drug of choice). There are some great resources for this. Each website that I am including has a lot of information, the particular page I am linking is a good starting point, but don't stop there.



Then of course there is the Church website about addiction recovery (this has information for both addicts and family members)


For many years I thought I was alone. I lived in shame. Why would my husband need pornography if I was enough? I have learned through my recovery that I AM enough, and that his addiction is not caused by me. His addiction began long before he ever met me. 

I have a form of PTSD called Betrayal Trauma. Basically what it means is that I get a trigger, that causes me to react physically (I have to be on medication for panic attacks), and it affects the way I process and interact with life. It sounds hokey to some, but for me, and many others like me, it is as real as a soldier's PTSD. I am learning through therapy and recovery work how to handle these triggers and what I need to do to keep myself safe and healthy. This has been a long road for me. B has been betraying me through lust, pornography, and masturbation for our entire marriage. His addiction has affected every aspect of our lives. We have had happy times, it's just hard to remember those through all of the unhappy times. 

Here are some resources for Betrayal Trauma, again, these are just jumping off points:

LDS Addiction Recovery Videos  (I am blessed to call some of the ladies, in these Advice To My Younger Self videos, friends)


The woman that writes the following blog is also a friend, and her blog was instrumental in helping me start on (and continue) my recovery journey.


This is an organization that has also been instrumental in helping me find the connections I need to heal:


This is the scary one, I write a blog myself. B actually wanted to start it together, but he hasn't written on it in a really long time. Feel free to read it if you'd like. (I shared the link to the blog with him, but I figure you don't need it)

I will share a little bit about our story with you. We have been married 21 years (22 years in March). We were friends for 6 months, dated for 2 months, and engaged for 7 months. We were sealed in the  Salt Lake Temple. The first time I found out about B looking at pornography was about 5 years into our marriage, and I was upset and told him that if it happened again I would divorce him. That led to years of lying and deceit, along with many discoveries. By this point I thought, "If only I was skinnier, prettier, kept a better house, made more money, wanted to have sex more, looked like a super model, whatever it was...he wouldn't need porn." The truth is I could've done and been all those things, and he still would have turned to porn. His use of porn and masturbation was not about me, it was about his mismanagement of his own emotions. He does not know how to sit in his own pain or deal with hard emotions, and so he numbs them in the easiest way he knows how. Some choose alcohol, drugs, staying busy, overeating, tv, video games, whatever it is, B chooses pornography and masturbation. The thing that is different about sex addiction, is that it undermines the very foundation of marriage. It erodes the trust that should be the foundation of a marriage. Not only is the wife being betrayed but there is a significant amount of deceit that goes along with it. The shame that accompanies the addiction is debilitating, that, and the deceit make it very difficult to find recovery. It's an addiction that is so rooted in shame that people will go to astonishing lengths to keep it hidden.

I know that recovery is possible, but it takes being cracked open and letting the will of God pour into you. Letting His will be stronger than the demons that are in control. This goes equally for the spouse. We have to learn that unless we surrender our own will to His, then we will continue to live in this cycle of never-ending trauma. We will continue to feel inadequate, try to control our spouses actions, have feelings of worthlessness, and live in chaos. I have chosen not to live that way any longer. I have no control over my husband's actions, nothing I do, say, don't do, or don't say, can change his will. He has his agency, I can't change that (as much as I admittedly would like to sometimes). The only thing I can do is chose to live close to Heavenly Father and follow his guidance for me. He has been with me throughout this journey, and I am learning more every day about listening to Him.

I have worked really hard to try and stay in this marriage and work hard at saving it, I have listened when Heavenly Father distinctly told me to "Hold on a little longer", when I was really seeking His permission to be done. I have stayed. I have continued to work on my own recovery and as hard as possible on my relational recovery as possible. I have had to keep my heart protected as I have traveled this road, because every time I start to hope the things are getting better because B is making an effort at recovery, I would act on that hope. I would relax my boundaries and let him back in as completely as I could, only to have him take me for granted again and relax his recovery effort and act out again. His cycle of acting out has escalated from years in our early marriage to around a month now. That means he will work really hard for a week or so at recovery, he will let things slip for a week, he will end up in a mode of "everything is terrible, and I am a victim of life" and he will act out for a couple of weeks. Then the cycle will start all over again. Sometimes the cycle can be 2 months, but that just means everything is twice as long. 

I am finally at a point where I have realized I am stuck in my own healing. I don't know what the future holds for us, I am not going to try and predict that. I can only stay true to the guidance of Heavenly Father and go on from there.

Thank you for your open heart and mind, and your willingness to learn about this plague that is tearing so many families apart.  Your loving reaction and openness to learning is already a balm, you have obviously learned to listen to the Spirit rather than reacting as a man. I appreciate that more than I can say. 

Humbly and lovingly,

T.

p.s. The packet of information I attached with my email to my bishop can be found here: Owning Our Stories, and the link is in the right hand column