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

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shame and Self Worth



While meeting with my therapist today she asked me to journal about some of the things we talked about in our session. I had just typed this in my personal journal, but felt prompted to share publicly.

I told her about the huge shame I had while attending The Togetherness Project conference two weekends ago. We were in Midway, UT, which is a much higher altitude than where I live, and I struggled physically. I was short of breath and sweaty with the slightest bit of activity. It caused me to feel so much shame. I felt like I was a burden on my friends. I didn't want them to have to wait for me or be embarrassed by me. I am sure that none of them felt that way, but I felt that way. They have never behaved in a manner that led me to think anything but that I am loved, it is all my own shame talking.

I feel like a failure when I think about how much I struggle physically. I fight my own food addiction every minute of every day. I am not active because it's embarrassing and painful how out of shape I am. This in turn makes it harder to become more active. It's a cycle that I struggle to break.

My shame about this is debilitating sometimes. I will retreat from others at times, or I will overcompensate at others. With those closest to me, my family, I will react in anger. Really these are all reactions to my own shame. This shame feels so suffocating it's as if I am covered in tar, only it's elastic tar. It clings to me and if I am only able to pull part of it away, if I am not able to completely break free, it rebounds back and envelopes me again. Shame is a physical as well as emotional barrier for me.

As we talked, I also told her about my recovery triad. I feel like my recovery is a triad, and a piece of it is missing so I am stuck in the other parts as well. To me recovery is a triangle or triad of the emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of life. I feel like I have worked hard on the emotional and spiritual aspects but that I have neglected the physical aspects. Because of this neglect I have been losing ground in the other areas of recovery. It's the missing piece to truly being able to recover. For me it's also the most challenging.

My therapist had me notice how I was feeling and acting when I was talking about my shame, and how I was feeling and acting when talking about my triad. It was visibly different. When talking about my shame I spoke in a monotone and was more slumped down, it felt dark, oppressing, and hopeless. When I talked about my triad my voice was more animated, I used gestures to explain what I was talking about, I felt lighter and more hopeful. When I talk about my triad the physical component seems doable, rather than hopeless.

As we were talking about my relationships and my sense of emotional and physical abandonment, I was talking about my nephew. I have a great amount of love and protectiveness regarding him because of some challenges he has. When I was speaking about him she pointed out how empathic and compassionate I was regarding him. She also noted that I am that way with most people. I am. I have a heart that was made to love and accept others. It is one of my gifts. Why then, can I not turn that empathy and compassion towards myself? Why can I not be my own best cheerleader. The answer is both complex and simple. I do not feel worthy. That's what it all boils down to, I lack a sense of self worth.

I have learned over these last couple of years to find things about myself that I love. I am getting much better and recognizing my strengths. I also have had great moments of seeing myself as God sees me, as a woman of unchanging worth. My worth does not change in his eyes no matter what, and sometimes I believe this. Underneath it all though, I really struggle to see my worth and remember that it cannot be diminished. I am of value just because I am. That has yet to penetrate my inner core. Because of this lack of self worth, I am out of touch with my own body. I use it as a shell and often even as a hiding place, because I don't connect to it. It's as if it is a separate piece of me. This compartmentalization is because of the shame I feel about it.

I have made some commitments to aid in my physical recovery to myself, my therapist, and a couple of my friends. These commitments are small, and to most would seem simple and silly. To me they are BIG, they are scary, and they are powerful. I have made them knowing that I probably won't be 100% great at them all of the time. That's okay. There's where compassion comes in. I don't get to excuse myself from my commitments, but I get to have compassion with myself if I am putting in the effort and doing the best I can.

My physical recovery is going to be an uphill battle. It's going to require diligence and perseverance. It isn't however, hopeless. It is possible. I can do it if I surrender my shame and fear to my Heavenly Father. If I remember to see my worth through His eyes. I could write a novel about self worth, but until I truly take it in and make it part of me, it's only words. I am working to believe what I know is true, I have undiminished worth just because I am me.

More hopeful,

T.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

I Was Wrong, Honesty Isn't Enough

I really, truly, HATE to be wrong, but I am admitting right here in black and white that I was wrong. I have frequently told B. that I need honesty ALL.THE.TIME. I am NOT wrong about that I DO NEED honestly all the time. I had told him that we could work through this as long as he was honest. I'm just not sure that is true anymore. I don't know if I continue to "work through" this trial, if the honesty doesn't also come with humility and accountability. I also know that I have absolutely NO CONTROL over whether I receive any of those things. 

My current mood has also shed some light on where I am personally...not in a good place. I have slid backwards and returned back to being angry all the time. I don't like angry me. In fact, I pretty much LOATHE angry me. She is not someone I want to be around, let alone someone I want to be. Regardless of not liking angry me, I have invited her back in. It wasn't a direct invitation as much as it was an invitation by omission. Omission of active recovery work. Omission of church attendance (I have a valid excuse, but I could've found a way to attend most of the time). Omission of reaching out. Omission of heartfelt prayer. Omission of self-care. I allowed angry me into the pity party and I am the only one that can un-invite her. 

I guess I need to back up a bit and tell you why I had all these forehead smacking moments tonight. Well, they haven't just been tonight, they have been in the back of my head niggling, tapping, pounding, and finally breaking their way through. The trigger itself is probably a microscopic gnat that I allowed to become a macroscopic bird of prey, but tonight it FEELS like a bird of prey. It is preying on my peace and that's unacceptable to me.

Our daughter is home from college this weekend (she is studying culinary arts), and decided to make us dinner. It was a delicious dinner and after a couple of crazy busy weeks and a jam packed weekend so far, she was exhausted. It all just hit her at once. She asked me to clean up dinner and put the leftovers away. I begrudgingly agreed (I hate cleaning up anything, it's one of my major shame points). While cleaning up I asked B. to help me. He asked what needed to be done, when I told him, he told me that he thought we could do it tomorrow. I told him that the food needed to be put away and some dishes needed to be rinsed tonight not tomorrow. He was laying on the couch watching a show on Netflix with headphones on. He looked at me and said, "I don't want to do it." I looked back and said, "None of us WANT to do it." That was the end of the discussion as far as he was concerned and he went back to watching his show.  He knew I was upset, the whole block could probably feel the anger and resentment radiating from me.

Shortly after that we all went to get ready for bed. He climbed in the bed and closed his eyes to go to sleep. Not one word to me about not helping me. In fact he acted (as he often does) as if I wasn't angry and resentful and said some sort of off the cuff goodnight. I told him that I needed to come out and journal because I was too angry to talk to him about how I was feeling. He said "Sorry", in a tone of voice that clearly implied that he was only sorry that I was angry, not that he was sorry for his actions or behaviors. When I asked him why he thought being honest about his feelings was enough, he replied something to the effect that I had told him I need him to be honest and that he could've made up some lame excuse but he didn't he was honest. I told him I do need him to be honest, but that it isn't enough to just be honest. His response was something along the lines of him being "in trouble" either way. He's right, I am upset, but I can guarantee that I would've seen through any excuse and been more upset if he had tried to lie to me. 

This is where I have to admit, my thoughts need  revision. I need more than honesty. I cannot accept anything less than honesty, our relationship is doomed otherwise. I do however, need that honesty to be accompanied by humility and accountability. I need to see that he is willing to and wants to change. He doesn't. He has told me point blank that he has no desire to work on his recovery right now. That is evident every single day.

I have to decide how I am going to react to that. I have to decide that angry and resentful T. can't be around here, she isn't invited to the party. I have to decide to do the things that help me heal. I have to hold my boundaries. I have to disconnect in a healthy way. I have to own that I need help to improve. 

I have been feeling a lot of things lately. Grief and anger being two of the most prominent. The grief is something that I have carried for years. The anger is something that I have carried for years but that I have worked hard to let go of in the past. I have been able to get healthier and work through some of that anger. I have been able to dig beneath that layer and see what is really driving it. Lately I haven't even had the desire to dig down. I hurt too much to want to take off that protective layer of anger and resentment. I have to let that mask go, I have to feel again. I can't numb with food and anger, it's my emotional kryptonite if I do. I am accountable for that. I have to change it. 

Here's me taking a step back. Admitting I was wrong. Shame busting and truth telling. Owning my story for myself and my healing. I am not sure I'm up to facing this, but I have to be. I have to face this and work on what I need to move forward. I am in charge of me.

Humbly eating my slice of pie,

T.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Daring Greatly...A Textbook for Life

Sometimes I feel like I'm back in school. I have homework and reading. I have notebooks, art projects, highlighters, pencils and discussions. There have been times in my recovery that this has all felt like too much for me. Too much time and energy spent on recovery. Too much knowledge and new patterns that I'm trying to fit in my head, heart and life. There have been times when I have had to take a break. I'm just coming off one of those "breaks" and getting my recovery back on track.

I have thought and prayed long and hard about whether a break is necessary or even good for me in recovery. I have come to the conclusion that it depends. It depends on what I'm taking  break from. Some of my recovery behaviors have to be innate and included everyday, otherwise I slip back into old patterns and behaviors. I can however take a break from reading, eating, breathing, and sleeping nothing but recovery.

I'm not advocating that this works for everyone, but it works for me. There are times that I have to let what I have learned settle in and become incorporated in my life. I have to figure out what my "new norm" looks like. What works for me and what doesn't. Then I can start to learn and grow more. That's not right, or not how I see it. I am always learning and growing, it's just sometimes I voraciously want more knowledge and sometimes I have to let the new knowledge I have gained help me to grow. I'm not sure that even makes sense, but it's how I see things in my own life.

This last break was a little too long and I let too many of my everyday recovery behaviors slip. I fell back into some of my own habits of enabling and letting my anger control me. No where near the degree as before, but not where I want to be either. I am glad to be back on track and getting those behaviors back in my daily life.

This month for my book club we are reading a book I suggested and have wanted to read for a good while, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  Since I am leading the discussion, I need to make sure I get it read. I sat down today and started it. I'm in love! I mean I already loved what I have seen and read from Brene Brown, but I am even more in love. If you have never heard her speak or read anything by her, I have linked to her Tedx talk in this post. Watch it! You'll be glad you did.

The things I am learning are life changing. Well ok, life affirming. I am learning the importance of and the way to be vulnerable and fight shame. These two things are vital to recovery.  They are skill that if everyone had, we would have so much more open communication and so much less criticism and blame.

This post is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Brene Brown or Daring Greatly. I just wanted to share something that was helping me be a better me.

A little more vulnerably,

T.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hyper-Vigilance and Shedding Light

Self-reflection can be such a painful thing, especially when you don't see what you expected to. I have not been very self-reflective lately, I have been outwardly focused. Shame is an ugly monster that has me held ferociously in it's grip. I have started down the slippery slope of trauma, and I am hoping by bringing my shame into the light I can battle it. 

B. just can't find recovery, he doesn't even have the desire most of the time to recover. He is so focused on the fact that he doesn't have a happy marriage to recover to, that he has no desire to recover. That has been a heavy load for me to carry, and one I shouldn't be carrying. I have not been great about surrendering that load to Heavenly Father. I have carried it on my shoulders and let it mire my own recovery. My husband's recovery is not my job to carry around. It is B.'s job to carry his recovery, more accurately it is his job to turn his heart over to Heavenly Father. It is my job to turn my own heart over to Heavenly Father and listen to His guidance.

I have been so hyper-vigilant about B.'s actions recently. Wanting to always know what he is doing, who he is texting, what they are talking about, why he is on his phone. See where this is going? I am being sucked into my trauma cycle. I am letting his actions control me. I am not focused where I should be. My focus is on my husband and not on God. When I lose God as my center my trauma takes over.

I want my husband to find recovery. I want to be able to trust him. I want our marriage to survive. Right now though, I'm at the end of my rope. I am done fighting for my marriage, at least in the way I have been fighting. Now, I feel like I am in a holding pattern. I need to just turn it over to Heavenly Father and let Him guide me. I need B. to step up and show me he wants our marriage to succeed like he keeps telling me. I need to put my faith where it belongs and know that none of this is truly in my control. God has always guided me the best direction for my family and me, when I allow Him to. I need to allow Him to guide me. 
 
I am fighting hard against my trauma, and just writing this has freed up so much anxiety in me. It has allowed me to shine light on the dark parts and start to root them out. 

I love my husband but I cannot fight for this marriage alone. I can only fight for me right now. I can only work on pulling myself up out of the mud I'm covered in. I can only work to clean up my own recovery and keep walking. I can only do these things by allowing Heavenly Father to reach down and help me up. 

Lighter, 

T.