Friday, November 27, 2015

Boundaries, Compassion and Trusting My Gut

As Thanksgiving winds down and we head into Christmas, I am at peace emotionally with where I am but I am struggling physically. I have been sick for over three weeks now and I just don't seem to be getting better. I think that my body has just had enough emotional stress and is trying to get me to slow down and recover a bit. I am doing my best to listen.

As I mentioned in my last post, I realized that my boundaries had been slipping and that I needed to reinforce them. I have done a good job at this and have been feeling a lot more peace the last couple of weeks. My amazing LifeStar leader said something in group a couple of weeks back to the effect of, "Boundaries allow us to have compassion." At first it took me a bit to accept and understand this, but it now makes sense to me. When I let my boundaries slide, I have no emotional room for compassion for B., I am too emotionally spent trying to stay out of trauma. However, when I hold my boundaries firm, I am able to look at things with a bit more perspective and realize that B. is struggling too. It doesn't mean I allow my boundaries to go more lax in order to make things "easier" for him. It means I am better able to cope with my trauma and not react to him. I am better able to cope and not go into victim, rescue or persecute mode. I am able to take care of me and allow my husband the room to take care of himself, or not take care of himself whichever the case may be.

I have also realized that my trip to the Temple and the confirmation from Heavenly Father that I need to hold on a bit longer, came at just the time I needed it to. I needed that sure knowledge that I was making the right decision to let B. stay and have an "in-house separation" to the best of our ability. Heavenly Father knew I needed that because it was going to be tested.

I have felt for weeks that B. has been acting out and lying to me about it. That he has been hiding things. I have told him this multiple times, I have asked him multiple times if he was acting-out and lying. Each time I got the response that no he wasn't acting out, and that he was sorry I felt like he was hiding something. Well guess what? I was right. He HAS been acting out for weeks and he HAS been lying to me. This has been going on for WEEKS.

I am so grateful for the increased faith I have found through this struggle. Without it I would never have had the strength to weather that confession. I think I would've crumbled if it weren't for the faith I have found in Heavenly Father and his timing. Don't get me wrong, it hurts. It hurts so much that at times I physically ache. My chest hurts and my stomach wrenches itself in knots. At those times especially though, I am still able to feel the love Heavenly Father has for me and it helps.

It's the lies that hurt the very most. I keep thinking we are past the lies and then *BOOM* here they come again. It's like being shot at just as the last wound is closing up. The thing that is so hard is that he hasn't just been lying to me, he has been lying to his LifeStar group, his personal therapist, and our couples therapist. He would sit in couples therapy and tell our therapist how angry I am and how bullied he feels by me. It hurt so much and was so triggering but I honestly took it as feedback and looked at and am working on changing my own behavior. The whole time he was acting out and lying to me and I could feel it and my trauma was running so high, yet he continued to play the victim.

I am continuing to lean on Heavenly Father's counsel and guidance. I am continuing to work my recovery. I am trusting my gut. I am holding my boundaries. I am finding compassion. I am strong. I am resilient. I am fighting. My husband's choices and actions do not reflect my worth. I am a daughter of Heavenly Father and because of that I have worth. I am learning to love myself, maybe for the first time in my life.

Holding strong,

T.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Aching

I've been visibly absent here for over a month. It's not that I have nothing to say, it's that I haven't been taking care of myself. I have slipped in my recovery. Tonight though, I need to write. I guess I should say, in the wee hours of morning I NEED to write. There is something inside of me that has to come out, I'm not entirely sure what it is, but I just have to write. Bear with me because my soul needs to be heard.

B. is not in recovery, he's not sober, maybe from pornography and masturbation, but he isn't sober. He is numbing out in other ways. Computer, t.v., sleep, hobbies. He isn't working on becoming sober either. He is hiding behind blame, anger, hurt and perceived rejection. He feels that this week he has finally found what the root of his problem is, and maybe he has. I hope so for his sake, but I am having an impossible time finding compassion for him. My heart is broken and my insides are raw, but all he can see is how poorly I treat him, which isn't entirely wrong. I don't want to be that person. I don't want to hurt him. I just can't take any more hurt either.

Tonight I was watching a Christian movie called The Song. It's about a man of faith who goes the way of fame and all that that often entails. Without divulging too much of the movies plot, at the very end he says to his wife, "You are enough." I cried. How long have I waited to hear those words and truly feel that they were honest? How much have I ached to feel that I am enough for my husband? Our entire marriage, that's how long. I have waited almost twenty-one years to feel that I am enough for the man that I chose as my eternal companion. I want to be done waiting. I asked to be done waiting, but His answer was, "Not yet, hold on a little longer." That was not the answer I wanted, it hurts too much, but it's the answer I received.

I have caused much of my own pain the last few weeks because I have slipped back into old patterns. I have let my boundaries slip because I just wanted to connect to B. I have rescued. I have compromised myself by being intimate because he wanted to, even though I didn't want to. I have done all of this in the hope that he would just see me. Why? Why did I do these things when they haven't worked for twenty years? I don't know. Okay, well I guess I do know. I desperately want my marriage to be happy and for my husband to love me. I want to feel that I matter to him. I don't feel that way and he told me himself that I don't. It was probably the most honest thing he has said to me, maybe ever. He didn't say it in a mean way, or in anger. He was right, I don't matter to him, because he is broken. My question is, how long to I have to wait to matter? How long am I supposed to stay in a marriage with a man that I don't matter to..."...a little longer." was the answer I got.

It's been heavy on my mind this week to ask for a separation, and for B. to leave the house. I have agonized over it. I have prayed about it. I have talked to my counselor and my group about it. I have prayed and prayed, talked to Heavenly Father and prayed some more. I felt that I knew the answer was that I needed to uphold some boundaries and "hold on a little longer." I knew that was my answer, and I went to the Temple today and received confirmation of that answer. Either way there wasn't a good answer for me. Either way my heart is breaking. Either way I am hurting. I have faith in Him and his timing, and so for now I am here and I am working.

I am enough for Him and for now, that has to be enough for me.

Achingly,

T.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just Be You, Flaws and All

I have to tell you that our Heavenly Father knows me. He is aware of my needs and blesses me often. I know this because of many witnesses in my life. One of the ways this is witnessed to me is through the people He has placed in my life. I am truly blessed with amazing friends and family that love me.

One of the most amazing women that He has placed in my life is H. Now, H. and I met at a book club we both belonged to over 10 years ago. We didn't know each other super well until she was pregnant with her last child. Heavenly Father prompted me to start calling her at least once a week and checking on her. It was through these phone calls that I came to know and love her. She is truly a gift to me. She has seen me at my very worst and she still loves me unconditionally. She loves me enough to laugh with me, cry with me, make fun of me when I fart in public, and most of all just be there for me when I have needed her.

I often feel like it is a very lopsided friendship. I feel like she gives me so much more than I ever give her. I am so grateful to her for her love and acceptance. She is truly one of the best people I have ever met. (Crap! I'm tearing up just writing about her. She is THAT important to me). I cannot imagine my life without her in it.

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks, because she shared with me a thought that really touched something deep inside of me. If you have read my last post you might be able to see why.

We were talking about being honest with our kids and open in talking with them. She recently found out some information that was hard to hear about her niece. She didn't try to hide it from her kids, she was open and honest and let them ask any questions they needed to. I so admire this openness, and it is something I am striving for with my own kids. I told her how much I admired this about her and how awesome I think she is for talking about hard things with her kids. She told me that she didn't get that awesome by luck, but by swimming through a sea of crap first (which is true, she has, but I forget those parts of her story because they aren't what defines her).  I reitereated to her how awesome she is, her reply was what I found so profound.

"...I'm also average in many ways and sub par in others and I accept that and try to be my best amazing/average self. I don't dwll on my failings anymore, but I also try not to deny them. They're all part of me and it's how I handle my weaknesses that matters - not that I have them."

See? Profound right? She is also kind, wise, beautiful inside and out and funny. She truly shines on the inside and out. She is also humble.

I would love to be able to have her perspective. To be able to see and acknowledge my flaws without letting them define me. I don't see her flaws, or if I do they don't really stand out to me the way her good qualities do. I want to learn to be like she is, confident yet always growing.

Heavenly Father truly IS aware of me and I am so grateful for this fact.

Broken and flawed but blessed none-the-less,

T.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Owning Our Stories

I am sure many of you have heard of Brene Brown and her research on vulnerability, if not look her up, she is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! She researches about shame and vulnerability. Her work on being ourselves and loving ourselves is very powerful. She just gets what it is to be an emotionally healthy human being.

"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do." -Brene Brown from The Gifts of Imperfection

I have been working on owning my own story for quite sometime now. Learning how to share parts of myself and be vulnerable. I'm getting much better at that. The loving myself through the process is where I'm really struggling. I really do love the person I am inside. I feel beautiful inside most of the time. It's my outside that I struggle to not loathe, let alone love. That is a painful realization for me and one that I do not share easily. I have started seeing my LifeStar group leader for individual counseling recently and just told her how I felt. It was so incredibly hard to admit it out loud. I'm not sure I have ever actually admitted it to myself until just the last couple of weeks. It is painful to know that my outsides don't match my insides. I've really evaluated why I loathe my body because I have been trying to reconcile the hatred I have for it for the new found love I have of my spirit and gifts. It's very hard to reconcile the two because they cannot be reconciled. What I came to the conclusion of is that yes, I do hate the way I look, but if that's all it was I think I could find a way to love myself in spite of it. I hate the fact that I feel like I have betrayed my health and body and that in turn now it is betraying me. I hate that I can't do the things I want to do because of my weight and health issues. I hate that I can't keep up with my family and friends. I hate that I can't ride roller coasters because I can't fit in the safety belts (yes, I know this for a fact because twice in the last year and a half I have tried and felt utter shame and humiliation at not being able to ride because I wouldn't fit). Even writing this is causing me so much shame and anxiety.

I have fought long and hard to believe that B.'s pornography addiction was not because of me. I used to always think, if only I was skinnier, if only I was more beautiful. I could've if only'd myself forever and it would only have caused me more shame. I do not believe that because I am obese and unhealthy that B. turns to porn. That is not something I will own anymore. His addiction is all about his mismanagement of his emotions and not how I look, act, behave, will or won't do. I still have to occasionally remind myself of these facts, but I now wholeheartedly believe them, before they were just empty words I was supposed to believe.

I want to lay out a disclaimer here though, I want to lose weight, badly. I can understand my husband's feelings of hopelessness surrounding his addiction. I feel hopeless a lot of the time about ever improving my body. The second part of the disclaimer is that I don't want to lose weight to get to be a certain weight or size. I have no intention of looking like today's underweight, big chested specimen that seems to be what is desirable. I want to lose weight to be healthy. I want to lose weight to be able to enjoy a long and active life. I want to be able to enjoy spending time actively and not feel like it is a monumental effort. I don't have unrealistic expectations or a certain end weight or size in mind. I just want to not loathe my body.

This is not at all where I planned this post to go, but apparently it's where I needed it to go. I hope by being vulnerable I can open some eyes and hearts. I hope those eyes and hearts include mine.

Owning my story,

T.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Togetherness Project Conference

For me the biggest part of my recovery that that truly set me on the path to healing is knowing I am not alone. I felt alone for so many years. I felt like there was this whole part of my life that I couldn't talk to anyone about, including God. I felt disconnected from Him and from everyone because I was hiding. When I was finally able to connect with others that DO understand and love me anyway, it was like this huge burden was lifted off my shoulders.

One of the places I was able to feel a big part of that burden lifted is at The Togetherness Project Conference last April. It was such an amazing conference where I was able to bond, heal, grow and learn. I have had to make the very hard decision not to go this time, but I hope some of you can and are going. It will be so very amazing.

You guys do not miss out on this amazing opportunity if you can help it. You will be amazed at the amount of healing and love happens. It's such a work of tireless dedication and love that the board puts into putting on the conference. Last year it sold out!

What do you get with your conference registration and how do you register?




Registration includes: 
  • A day of healing and connection with other women who, just like you, have found themselves searching for empathy and understanding
  • Six breakout sessions led by an amazing lineup of presenters and therapists
  • Inspiring keynote speakers
  • Lunch and dinner

Fearlessly,

T,

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Just Because It Brings Someone You Love Joy

Sundays are HARD at our house. Satan works so very hard on our family on Sundays. He works on each one of us in significant ways. He is trying so hard to pull us apart. I want to scream and rage at Satan, I want to punch him in the nose and say "Stay the hell away from my family!" See, he knows how to get me.

Part of the reason that Sundays are so hard is because it is the one day a week that we usually have a significant amount of time to spend together and we can rarely agree on how to spend it. I would be happy doing about anything if we were doing it together and really striving to enjoy it. That just never seems to happen. I often want to spend the day inside watching corny Hallmark type movies and playing games. B often wants to go out and go for a walk or hike or drive. The kids each have their own ideas of what would be fun that seem to clash with ours. B has told me several times recently that I try to force the issue of family time, that I try too hard. Maybe I do, I don't know. I just really really really want us to spend quality time together enjoying each other's company. I don't want to compromise on that, but either we are all miserable doing something together or I let everyone do their own thing. Either way I feel like I am fighting an unwinnable battle. Why should it even have to be a battle? Why can't I expect my family to be able to enjoy spending time just being together? It just seems like a half an hour or an hour and we're done, that's all we have to give to each other. Frankly, it scares me more than I want to think about. What if we can never heal our broken family?

I have learned recently that I can have an opinion and desires that are opposite those I love and it doesn't mean they won't love me. Well, I'm working on learning that anyway. However, something I have known my whole life is that I don't have to be doing something I like to do in order to have fun. I can be doing something that I really don't like doing and still have an incredible time. Why? Sometimes I do things I don't want to do just because it brings joy to someone I love. Is that wrong? Is it too much to ask of my family? I don't know. It seems that often times on Sunday it is.

All I want right now, from my family, is for us all to think of ourselves a little less and the rest of the family a little more. That doesn't mean we have to neglect our own needs and time and sacrifice our self-care. It just means that sometimes we do things just because it will bring someone we love joy.

Praying for joy,

T.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Redeeming Hearts Retreat

I have had the title written for this post for months, wanting to write it but being held back by my own fear. Fear of not writing the truth, fear of hurting other's feelings, fear that I might not get another opportunity to go to a retreat like this and fear that I will. I finally decided to face my fears head-on. This is so scary for me, because my biggest fear in life is saying or doing something to make others not like me. I am so very afraid that I will be disliked (even by people I don't like) that I often don't reveal how I really feel. Hell, I sometimes don't know how I really feel because I don't want it to be contrary to what someone wants me to feel. Wow...some of you just labeled me codependent didn't you? Please don't. That's a whole other post, let's get back to the post I started.

I was so blessed to be able to attend the Redeeming Hearts Retreat that was hosted by Harriet at A Wife Redeemed. It was back in the spring, and I have wanted to write this post since then and just haven't been able to. The retreat was AMAZING. We learned, we laughed, we grew, we ate amazing and healthy meals, we bonded, we meditated and we celebrated our sisterhood. Harriet planned an amazing weekend for us and graciously hosted us. I love the women that attended. I love the weekend away. It was beautiful and fabulous. I just didn't get as much healing out of it that I wanted to. This has nothing to do with Harriet, the retreat, or the women there. It has 100% of everything to do with me.

I went up there nervous and scared. I was nervous for several reasons, not the least of which was not fitting in the seat belt on the airplane. This may not be a fear most of you relate to, but it's a real fear of mine (on the way home I swallowed my pride and didn't try and squish into the seat belt, I asked for the extender...hmmmmm...maybe more healing happened than I realized). I was so scared of not being liked or accepted by the women there. It is a completely unfounded fear. They were amazing. They embraced me and included me and never once made me feel less than. Those feelings are all in my head. I was afraid of being embarrassed because I had to pack a giant size suitcase for one weekend because my clothes are big sized they take up more room and because I have to use a CPAP to sleep at night, so I had to pack that. I am fighting tears as I write this because I am realizing two things...#1 I have wasted so much of my life being afraid and #2 I don't have to be afraid, because I am wonderful. I don't always believe that I am wonderful, but today I do. Wow, I think I wrote this post at just the right time, I'm not sure I could've admitted or understood some of these truths in the spring.

Let me tell you a little bit more about the actual retreat, because if you get the chance to go you should. It was AMAZING! First off I have to tell you about the amazing friend that I went to the retreat with. You know her as Eagle Wings from her story on A Wife Redeemed, but I just know her as my friend. She is so amazingly supportive. She reached out to me early on last year when I was first starting to look for support. She has given her time and her love to me in ways that she doesn't even realize. I told her of my fear about the airplane seat belt when we were getting ready to leave, and she helped me through it. She doesn't give herself enough credit, but she really is an amazing person.

When we arrived we were picked up by two other WOPAs attending the retreat and we stopped to pick up snacks to share. It was as if I had known these women forever. There is a bond between WOPAs that doesn't even need to be spoken. We just understand each other. We understand on a level that isn't spoken and doesn't need to be. We arrived at Harriet's home and were greeted warmly and got settled in. She is such an amazing hostess. We had dinner and we had a guided meditation with a therapist. We visited and laughed. I know I am going to confuse the timeline, so I will just tell you about the activities. We watched a movie, had a class on essential oils and their emotional healing properties (I learned that I hate lavender because I need it...this is truth and I am learning to like it). We performed a kundalini yoga healing circle that was so powerful. We shared our stories. We ate delicious food. We played games. We went on walks. We journaled. We broke pots and put them back together again. We laughed. Basically we grew in ways that may not have been obvious at the time and made friends that will be friends for years to come.

I didn't realize until I wrote this post how much healing really did happen for me that weekend. I learned so much about myself and my insecurities. I learned about my own fears and how they are just that, mine. I hope that any betrayed spouse is able to attend an event like this (and if you can attend this one, I would highly recommend it). There is so much healing that comes from knowing you aren't alone. You are part of a club, one you never wanted to belong to, and one that accepts you wholeheartedly, flaws and all. I am learning to lean into my fears, but I have a lot of demons still to face. I am blessed to not have to face them alone though. I have my Heavenly Father and a WOPA army behind me.

A little less afraid,

T.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tender Mercies

Today was a day filled with tender mercies. It was a day where I was reminded again and again that my Heavenly Father is watching out for me. I felt His presence very keenly today.

I haven't had individual therapy for almost a month because my therapist had a baby. Today I was able to get in for a session with the therapist that runs my LifeStar group. It was a blessing. She knows enough of my story that it wasn't a full first time assessment, she let me lead where we went and what we talked about. On my way to the session I was pondering what I wanted to talk about, and some of my history was on my mind. I felt prompted to share that with her. She gave me some insight about things I had never thought about and I felt a few pieces of the puzzle click into place that hadn't fit quite right before. It was enlightening. That was a tender mercy.

Towards the end of our session she said a couple of things to me that I really needed to hear. She told me that about 15 minutes into our session two things really struck her that she felt she needed to share. The first was her observation. when I was talking, about what a lovely person I am, how lovely my spirit is and what a beautiful woman I am. I could feel the sincerity radiating in those affirmations. I felt how genuine it was and it thawed a piece of my heart. It's been a long time since I felt that kind of a sincere compliment. The second thing she shared with me she told me came from the Spirit (of note, she is not affiliated with LDS Family Services but is a private practice therapist). She said that she had the distinct impression that my ancestors are surrounding me, fighting with me, supporting me, even the ones that I have no knowledge of. She said that even though there are a lot of my ancestors that I know nothing of, that they know me and are there supporting me. I was heartened and buoyed by this. My grandma is my safe person, always has been and I have felt her presence many times through this journey. When my therapist said this to me, I could feel the support of many. This was a tender mercy.

When I got to my car, I needed a few minutes to cry. There was just so many powerful emotions fighting for my attention that I couldn't hold them all and they spilled down my cheeks. I didn't feel ready to come home. I needed some time for me, some time to process and to talk to my Heavenly Father. He guided me to the Temple Visitor's Center. I walked around for a few minutes until I came to the display of televisions that play short videos and commercials about families. Here I stopped. I watched some of the videos, but it was the television commercials that really grabbed me. I watched every one of them, all told maybe 8 of them, so it was just a few minutes of my time. The messages they shared were simple, but He knew that they were just what I needed to hear today. The simplicity of the messages was just what I needed to ground myself and sort through the turmoil. This was a tender mercy.

I still refuse to be grateful for this trial, but I am so grateful for the person I am being refined into. This refiner's fire is fierce, but I am becoming strong and whole because of it. This is a tender mercy.

My wish tonight, is for all who read this to feel the tender mercies in their own life. I pray every day for all those suffering this trial that they may find peace and healing through God. I pray that we will all be able to find joy again and that we will be stronger for having walked this road.

Gratefully,

T.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Self-Compassion

I haven't posted in a while and there has been a lot going on in our life. I will give you the highlight reel. B. acted out for about a month, and then lied to me about it. I had some hard decisions to make including whether or not I could stay in this marriage. We are now living in the same room and sleeping Lucy and Ricky style (same room, twin beds). Heavenly Father is in charge and I am taking direction from him. I had a major slip of comparison and betrayed the confidence of a friend.  I was accountable to both her and our group leader within hours. I still have to do some serious shame busting about it. It has given me some insight as to the amount of shame B. must carry around. That's the highlight reel such as it is.

I have noticed that so many of my warrior sisters (aka. Trauma Troopers or women with Betrayal Trauma) are so hard on themselves. I include myself in that. I know that for YEARS I thought, "If I was skinnier B. wouldn't look at porn."  "If I kept the house cleaner and didn't nag, B. wouldn't need porn." Insert your own "If only…" statement and you have the thoughts of most women I've met that have been betrayed. We blame ourselves a lot. It has taken me years to realize that no matter what I looked like, said, acted like, how much money I made, how clean the house was or what I was doing or not doing sexually…B. would still be an addict and turn to porn and masturbation when he couldn't handle his emotions. I am not to blame for this addiction. I wasn't there when it started. I cannot control B. or his actions. It is not my fault. That's not to say I'm perfect or that I don't have room for improvement, because believe you me, I do have a lot of room for improvement. I make mistakes on a regular basis. Some little and some meteor sized ones. The one thing I have realized I need and am starting to be better at, self-compassion. Realizing that I am an imperfect person trying in the best way I know how to work on being a better me. I have heard it often from my therapist that I need to be compassionate with myself and allow room for self-forgiveness and patience when I make mistakes.

Self-compassion is a difficult thing. I really struggle with thoughts of "If I don't do everything right then B. will use it as an excuse not to work." or "If I can't manage this then how can I expect B. to?" Both of these are completely FALSE. I have no control over what B. does in his recovery and whether he justifies his choices by citing my shortcomings. I have every right to expect my husband to respect and honor me and that he TRIES to be better and diligently works recovery even if I make mistakes. I deserve that.

Sisters, let me tell you this. Treat yourself with compassion. Look at the strong sisters that are by your side. Know that they understand this struggle and that they aren't perfect either. Know that each one of us makes mistakes on a regular basis. Keep trying and be gentle with yourself. Take time to reach out to Heavenly Father and turn your burdens over to him. Practice self-care. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect…and some days even less that just ok. You don't have to achieve perfection. Be nice to yourself. Don't use negative or defeating self-talk, especially if you wouldn't say it to someone else. Treat yourself with the kind of compassion and respect that you want your spouse to treat you with.  Love yourself and give yourself permission to grieve, this is a huge loss and will take some time to process.

Compassionately,

T.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Battle Wounds

I lay down my arms
I'm done with the fight
I'm not out of harm
And defeat is in sight

I've dug in my trenches
I'm dressed in my gear
My helmet's askew and
I'm shaking from fear

The loneliness crowds in
Despair hunkers down close
Hopelessness pushes through
Shame fills the holes

I drop to my knees
I whisper a prayer
I know that He hears
And has always cared

I hand it all over
Each fear, shame and doubt
I struggle to share
I am casting about

At last my heart slows
My words become clear
I share with Him
And I know He hears

I feel the peace
The shaking slows
The warmth permeates
The Spirit glows

At last I am free
My burdens have lifted
My cares and fears
Have now all shifted

His arms have upheld me
His love has sustained
The price has been paid
For all of my pain

I shed my armor
I climb from my hole
I am free from the burden
I am miraculously whole

T.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

On Forgiveness

I have so much anger lately that I knew that I needed to blog. I knelt tonight to pray and asked Heavenly Father what I needed to blog about. Forgiveness was the answer He gave me loud and clear. There was no hesitation or waiting for the answer. Forgiveness. Woo-wee! That is a subject that is hard for me to write about.

I have heard time and again that forgiveness is not about the person in need of our forgiveness but that it is for our own healing. What if the person in need of your forgiveness is yourself? I think this is where I stumble. I'm actually a pretty forgiving person, I've forgiven B. countless times and continue to work on that. When it comes down to myself though, I have a hard time forgiving. I beat myself up with past transgressions and mistakes over and over again. I remind myself of some of them frequently. I shame myself with them. I relive them. I know that isn't what He wants, it's not what I want either. I just can't always seem to find the self-love and humility to fully forgive myself, learn and move on.

This in turn feeds my feelings of failure (read about that here) which then starts the circle over again. Vicious. Dang. Circle. Mistake - Self-Reproach-Lack of Forgiveness-Shame-Feelings of Failure-Mistake.  You see how that works? Satan knows how to get me to give in and how to make me feel worthless. He taunts me with my mistakes and I allow him to.

I haven't been self-reflective enough lately to realize this lack of forgiveness I have for myself. It is something I am going to have to work on turning over to God. In the meantime I am aware of it, that's progress.

Attempting forgiveness,

T,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Couch Time: On Being a Failure

Here we are, in the therapists office…you're sitting with your yellow legal pad and a thoughtful expression while I'm laying on the couch crying about what a failure I am.



Ok so that's not really how it goes down when I see my therapist (whom I love and can't wait to see again next week)…but it IS something I truly feel. I feel like a failure. An absolute and complete failure at everything. This is the point I am at right in this very moment and I know exactly how I got here.

Part of me knows I'm not a failure…and loathes that word entirely. However, that voice has been silenced by the complete lack of self-care and recovery work on my part lately. I have fallen into that dreaded space of COMPLACENCY. It is something that I had hoped I would never become, yet here I am.

Early in recovery my recovery materials were always at my fingertips. I was working on workbooks or reading recovery books. I was blogging or journaling. I did my homework early most weeks. I saw my counselor weekly. I attended my LifeStar group faithfully every week. I reached out. I prayed frequently and meditated often. I attempted to read my scriptures or a conference talk on a regular basis. I attended church every week. I lived and breathed recovery.

Lately, I'm lucky if my homework is done on time. I haven't read my scriptures or a Conference talk in a while. I still pray at least once a day, but often times it's when I'm already in bed and not on my knees. I haven't blogged or journaled regularly. I can't remember the last time I meditated. I haven't seen my counselor in a month (I was sick at my last appointment and didn't realize I didn't have any more scheduled). I missed last weeks group (I was out-of-town so I didn't just skip it because I didn't want to go). I haven't been to church in three weeks and I won't be there again this week (going out of town). I have let my life get out of control. (Wow! Did you see all the excuses in parentheses?)

Here's the thing, I haven't wanted to admit any of these things to myself, because then I have to hold myself accountable. Another big wall of denial I have is that I don't want to admit any of this to B., because he already feels as if I'm not doing my part to heal our marriage and therefore he feels justified in not doing his. I want him to work hard, I deserve to have him work hard. He needs to fight for our marriage. I don't really have anything to give our marriage right now, and I may not for a while. None of these things justifies me being in denial about where my recovery is.

Step 1: Recognize there is a problem. Check! I am not going to add working The Steps to my list right now, because I'm afraid I'd throw in the towel if I added anything more to my plate, but Step 1 I have down. I definitely have a problem.

So, as I lay here and you continue to make affirming statements and ask probing questions to help me work through this, hand me a fork so I can dig into this big old slice of humble pie. The thing is, it's just what I need…a dose of humility and the willingness to accept it. I am working to open my heart up and let Him do his work while I do mine. If you get a minute to offer up a prayer, can you include me in it? I could sure use the power of strong prayers to open my heart and help Him work his miracles.

Humbly,

T.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Resigned

The words are running around in my head, but they just won't come out tonight. I have so much that I am struggling with right now that I want to put words to, but I just can't pin them down. I guess I should say, I can't pin down how to say what is in my heart without sounding like a complaining and naggy victim. Maybe that's my answer, but my heart is so heavy right now I just need to somehow unburden a bit of it. 

B. said something to me today that made me wonder if our marriage can ever be repaired. He said (I'm paraphrasing), "I guess that you just aren't what I want you to be." It really struck a nerve because that's what I have felt our entire marriage, that somehow I don't measure up, that I'm not enough. It hurts so much to hear him actually say it. 

I feel like what he would like me to be is a Stepford Wife. I feel like he thinks he would be happy if I enjoyed everything he enjoys, always wanted to participate in whatever recreation is his current passion, fulfilled his porn-fuled sexual fantasies, cooked his dinner every night, kept the house clean and worked to support him so he wouldn't ever have to. He denied that that's what he wants when I replied that way to him earlier, but it FEELS that way to me. That's all I have to go on, how I feel. 

The blame has been heaped on me pretty thickly this week. I am getting blamed for some of the most ridiculous things by the shovelful. I am having a hard time finding my way out of the pile of crap I'm getting buried under. I am so tired of getting blamed for not being supportive enough of his recovery. I'm apparently not making his recovery easy enough on him. 

After a session with my counselor last week and some prayer and pondering on my part, I turned control of B.'s phone back over to him. I unblocked some of the restrictions (like downloading apps and the internet), although I left the internet filtered. I also told him the passcode for the restrictions so that he can control them himself (which ironically is our wedding anniversary). He admitted to me yesterday morning that he has been very tempted to act out now that he has more access, which I wasn't surprised by. During that discussion it came out that part of the reason we had been sexually intimate the morning before was because he had been fighting the temptation to act out and had instead woken me up early on Saturday so we could be intimate. I was crushed. When I told him how hurt I am, his response was to ask me why I had given him back control of his phone. WHAT?!? He wants me to trust him, but then blames me because he can't be trusted? I am hurt and angry to say the least.

Earlier in the week I falsely accused B. of acting out. I was able to verify that it was a false accusation and I apologized. B. said he understood that I don't trust him because he hasn't been trustworthy in the past, that was HUGE. Let me repeat, THAT WAS HUGE FOR ME! He actually took responsibility for how his actions had impacted our marriage. I was so grateful and I told him so a couple of times. Before I was able to verify that it was a false accusation I had written him a letter telling him that he had basically two weeks to find a place to live and be out. This may seem drastic, but it wasn't for me and it felt like what I needed to do. It hurt. It still hurts to think that I may have to ask him to leave. I don't want that, but I can't live like this anymore. What I don't understand is why, when he knows the consequences of him acting out, doesn't he fight harder for himself and for us? Why is his own selfish behavior more important that we are?

The message that I keep getting from B. is that I don't matter, I'm not worth fighting for. That not only am I not worth fighting for but that somehow I am to blame for that fact. The "if only's" are ringing out loud and clear ("if only" I could do this, "if only" I didn't do this). His mouth keeps saying that that isn't the truth, but his actions scream loudly that it is. I keep getting bombarded with the message that I'm not enough and that I don't matter and then told that I have to work harder to make it easier for him and fight harder for our marriage. He has asked me repeatedly why he should work so hard to fight for someone that is so angry all the time. Why? I guess only he can answer that. I'll be honest, I'm about done fighting, I'm about ready to lay it all down and call it unwinable. I am about to admit defeat to Satan and congratulate him on being able to tear apart another family. 

Resignedly,

T.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Battle Fatigue

Battle Fatigue is what PTSD was known as during WWII. It doesn't fit exactly what I am feeling, but the words paint a picture for me of what I look like on the inside. I am weary to the bone of fighting this battle and I just want to go to sleep for a while and take a break from life. Nobody call 911, I'm not suicidal, just worn out. I am physically, emotionally and mentally worn out.

Right now where I am really struggling is to find that balance. How much recovery work can I realistically do and keep up on life. Right now I'm not being very successful at either. I know I'm not the only one trying to find this balance, I've heard others talk about it too. I also know that the balance looks different for everyone. I work full-time plus, I have kids and a house to keep up. I also try to find some time to do things for self-care and recovery. It feels like right now I'm trying to find that delicate balance between time for recovery and time for life…and a splinter can tip the scales.

The other thing I am struggling with right now is my utter disconnection from B. I have erected almost all my walls again and shored them up with new ones. It was done intentionally and with purpose. He is showing signs of working on and trying to be in recovery. The problem is that it is never consistent. He will be very contentious of my needs and will be thinking of things to lighten the load for me and work on connecting with me and being honest…for a couple of days. Then it's all too much for him and he withdraws and his needs come first. It is like standing on a rug that you love that is covering a concrete floor…it is so nice and warm and comforting for a couple days then all of a sudden it gets yanked out from underneath you and you end up on the cold hard floor with new purple bruises on top of the already tender yellow ones that are just starting to heal. It is more traumatic in a way than the last 20 years have been because I had those couple of days of connection and care. It's like I'm being robbed of that safety over and over and over again. Before, I never expected or hoped for it, so it was just was I was used to with zero expectations of it being any different. Now, I can see the changes and feel the difference SOME of the time. Mind you, I wouldn't go back to the way it was either. I could not live like that anymore.

When he checks in with me at night and relates how he is feeling relationally he always says disconnected. He will sometimes say that he doesn't know what he is fighting for anymore because I am so disconnected. I have told him every which way what I need to be able to start connecting more. CONSISTENCY. That's it. I need to see consistent improvement with more good days that bad. I'm not asking for perfection, just progress.  I need to be thought of more and my needs need to be as important as his own.

I want to connect with my husband. I want to have a happy marriage. I believe that those two things are possible. I just need some safety and consistency before they will happen. I believe that as we both get more recovery under our belts that our relationship will become our focus. Right now all I can do is concentrate on is my own recovery and being the best me I can be.

Weary to the bone,

T.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Surrender

Letting go and letting God is a concept I have read and heard about. I have heard that surrender isn't giving your will over but giving your heart over. It is about learning to trust that our Heavenly Father has our back. It seemed very difficult to me. Not hard to understand but difficult to put into practice. I don't trust easily and even though He is the one that I know I can trust completely, opening my heart up to trust is a difficult thing.

Two weeks ago in LifeStar our homework was to get a surrender box and put it into practice. It took me a couple days to decide what I wanted, but I found the perfect box I wanted (I'm working to eliminate words like perfect from my everyday conversation and save them to describe things that really are perfect, like our Heavenly Father).  It is beautiful on the outside and has a place for paper on the inside. The words of surrender are stored underneath.

I have really been working hard to align my will that that of our Heavenly Father. Sundays are rough for us. Satan seems to work extra hard on both of us on Sunday. Yesterday was no different, it was a rough day. Last night when I knelt in prayer, I had one of the most powerful experiences I can recall having.

I truly opened my heart and turned my concerns over to Him. I sincerely wanted to NOT carry them around anymore. I was risking a lot in my mind but He showed me it was no risk at all because He has already carried them. As I opened my heart up and surrendered my burdens, I literally felt a band loosen from around my heart. It was an actual physical sensation. As that band loosened I was able to take a deep breath. I COULD BREATHE! I didn't realize the physical tightness and pain I was carrying around. I didn't realize I hadn't been able to take a deep breath. It was incredible! I COULD BREATHE! Sorry I had to say it twice (I wrote it a few times in my journal last night so I wouldn't forget).

I didn't realize that my burdens were restricting me and that an actual physical sensation could take place when I chose to unburden myself to my Heavenly Father. I was left with a racing heart and a little anxiety because of the unexpectedness of it, but it was so freeing.

When you find yourself burdened with a load that you can't carry, or concerns that are weighing you down. Lighten your load, surrender it to the Lord. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, has already carried that load, he has already payed the price. He just wants us to stop trying to haul it around and give it on over. I heard this saying about learning to reach out and surrender (it may be from AA, I am sorry I cannot give the proper credit for it)…on your knees, on the phone, in the box. In others words, write your burden down and put it in a surrender box (I used to practice this by having a metaphorical surrender box, the real thing is actually much more of a powerful tool for me), get on your knees and ask Heavenly Father to take your burden away, you have to actually hand it over…then get on the phone and call a support person.

Nobody understands us better than He does. I will keep practicing surrendering because I have felt the evidence of it's power.

Breathing again,

T.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Letter To My Younger Self


Recently our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) released a series of videos through their addiction recovery services. The videos were of spouses reading letters they had written to themselves on D-Day (they day/approximate time they found out about their loved ones addiction). I know some of these amazing women and they are incredible and strong! If you would like to watch them (they are very powerful), they can be found here. I thought this was a fabulous idea, so I decided to try it. This is what I would want the younger me to know.


Sometime about 15  years ago

Dear T.,

I am sorry that your heart is breaking right now and that you feel like there is something wrong with you. I know the anger is boiling over and your ready to leave if he looks at porn and masturbates again. That is a normal reaction but don't get stuck there.

You aren't to blame, you didn't cause this. Your suggestion to watch porn together early in your marriage was not the first time he had viewed porn. You didn't introduce him to it. He was introduced to it at the tender age of eleven. This "problem" started years before you met.

This is not just a "problem" for him, it is an addiction. His brain is broken. He cannot "just quit", it holds too much power over him. He needs resources that are not readily available right now. There are some out there, but he isn't ready to search them out yet. You can't fix this for him, he is the only one that can fix it for himself. I know you want desperately to "fix" him and help him realize how much worth he has, but you just can't. Don't wast precious years of your life thinking that if he would just listen to you he will be fine, he won't, listen or be fine. He has to really hit rock bottom and want to get better.

Don't protect him from how you feel about him looking at pornography and masturbating. Tell him you feel like he is cheating on your. Don't wall yourself up behind anger, let your feelings out and don't shelter him from the sadness, hurt, pain, grief and yes, anger, that you feel about his behavior. Let him see those things. He won't be able to hold those things, you will have to have support, but he needs to see that his actions aren't without consequences.

You think you have to carry all the load because B. doesn't and that will overwhelm you and cause you to feel a great amount of resentment. Don't carry it all, you can't and you shouldn't have to try. Let B. have the consequences of not carrying his share of the weight. Make him responsible for his own "stuff". He needs that responsibility so that he can learn to take care of himself and not become completely dependent on you. It causes him a great amount of shame when you do things for him that he should be doing himself because he then feels incapable.

I know that at one point after yet another discovery of B.'s acting out, you'll want to say, "To Hell with it, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" Stop that thought right then. It won't help your marriage. It won't help you feel connected. You will only end up feeling shame and sadness. It will also start a battle you will have to fight against your own desires to look at porn and read pornographic books. Don't take one step down that road. It is not the answer.

Find your voice and use it. Stand up for your rights and learn to recognize when they are being violated. Have boundaries and do not let him cross them without consequence. You are worth more than being taken for granted and used. B. is worth more than being allowed to take you for granted and use you.

Your feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing won't just "go away" if he would "just stop". He can find genuine and lasting recovery and you will still feel broken. You need to find healing yourself. You have been betrayed and because of it you have a form of PTSD called Betrayal Trauma. This doesn't just "go away", you need support and good therapy…not to mention a lot of help from Heavenly Father. You can recover from this, but it will take time, years in fact. You can find happiness regardless of if B. ever finds recovery or not. It will be a battle, but you can do it.

The shame, inadequacy and self-loathing that you feel…they aren't true. You can share this part of you with those that you trust. They will only love you more and be there for you. You are not inadequate. You are not ugly. You could look like a Playboy Bunny, have the sex drive of a teenager and be at his beckon call…he would STILL look at porn and masturbate. When he wasn't, he would be using you to satisfy is addictive lust. He will use you if you let him, don't let him.

You are an amazingly strong woman. You can rise from this and be stronger than you have ever been before. You can find the power to believe in yourself again. Heavenly Father is there with you every step of the way. Don't ever lose contact with him. Don't let your faith waiver, do what you need to keep it strong. Heavenly Father is never far from you, reach to Him often.

Find other woman that have been betrayed, they are out there. You need them and they need you. Listen with an open heart. Reach out. Let them be your support, they have you! It will be a while until there are as many groups and resources that there will be in the future, but don't stop looking for them. They will be out there.

YOU ARE STRONG. YOU ARE FAITHFUL. YOU ARE COMPASSIONATE. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE LOVING. YOU ARE ENOUGH!!!

Lovingly,

T.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Cup Runneth Over

My Father in Heaven knows me and sees my trials. After the pummeling my spirit took over the last few weeks He knew I would need others. He has placed the most amazing people in my life. This week I was strengthened and uplifted by so many different people. Friends new and old, those I have met through recovery and those I have known for years. My group, my marriage counselor and my individual counselor have all played a vital role in helping boost me this week. My Bishop has been A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! He has to be the most kind and patient person I have met in a long time. I can only imagine how the weight of the trials in the ward weigh on him, but he never makes me feel like mine are any less important than anyone else's. I am truly blessed by the bounty of amazing people in my life. 

I have to give a special shout-out to two separate groups though, my LifeStar group and the local chapter of The Togetherness Project. Without these amazing women this week I would've been lost.

There are still a lot of things to work through and a long road to walk, but I am on my way again. I'm not dwelling on my problems but looking for solutions. Tonight I am grateful for the people in my life.

In gratitude,

T.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Shrapnel Wounds

It feels like target practice and I'm the target, or rather I'm being hit by shrapnel from the direct hits to the targets nearby (which keep moving). I feel like I could withstand a little bit of shrapnel, use my tools and take care of myself, but lately it feels like it has been coming at me too fast.

Remember this post where I talked about my childhood best friend losing her husband to cancer. That seems to have been the beginning of the shrapnel. I held up pretty good and was able to recuperate. Well the next round started with me stepping down as a manger at work. This is a GOOD thing for my family and for me, but it's still a change that takes getting used to, I still feel a bit lost. I know though that, I can do hard things.

The week after that they closed our physical office and set us up at home to work full-time (it didn't happen that fast, it's just when it was finalized). So now here I am, recuperating from shrapnel wounds, feeling a little lost and without some of my fellow warriors by my side. Ok deep breaths, I had a full week off after that for some R&R. I can do hard things.

When I came back to the battle (because right now that's what it feels like), I was more rested and healed and ready to work. I was less lost and had a permanent position in the field. I was ready. Then one of my dear sweet warrior sisters lost her preemie baby. This was her first baby and she was a miracle because she was growing next to a molar pregnancy. She lived a miraculous twenty days after being born at not quite twenty-four weeks gestation. On top of that, this warrior sister has to have chemotherapy to kill the molar cells that have spread to other parts of her body. My heart is breaking, but I can handle it, I'll just keep fighting, praying and keeping in touch with her. Fresh new shrapnel wounds, but I have other brave warrior sisters who know and love our miracle baby and her mommy as much as I do…we bind each others wounds and help each other survive to fight another day.

I was able to get a weekend pass after that battle to spend some time learning and growing at The Togetherness Project (I'll share more about that in another post).  I wanted to share that with you first, but alas, my wounds are too fresh right now to talk about the healing I received in the care of this amazing organization.

As I was driving home from this healing weekend the next bomb went off, this one the closest one yet. B. acted out while I was at Togetherness. I knew it in my heart on Saturday, but he confirmed it in a phone call on Sunday while I was driving home. I asked him to, I felt like I was going to arrive back to the battlefield too late to be given the intel and have any sort of debriefing when I got there that night. It was painful and hurt a lot, but I have a lot of tools to help me recover from this kind of shrapnel.

About half an hour later I received even more shrapnel wounds, this one was a direct hit though, so really not shrapnel but a bomb. One of my fellow soldiers that has been dispersed to other camps (aka. one of my coworkers that was set up to work at home when our office closed), called with some intel. One of my really good friends and fellow soldiers was killed in a car accident. I was speechless and if you know me well, you know that's pretty much next to impossible to do. I was heartbroken. This amazing woman was made for goodness. She loved with every fiber of her being and you knew she loved you no matter what. She was easy to talk to and had a heart of gold. She had her flaws, but you didn't focus on those because she was just too genuine and loving. I'm still a bit numb, the pain comes in bursts, but I have had to try to just let it out in increments otherwise it's just too much. 

That was Sunday, just three days ago. I'm having a much more difficult time healing from these last two wounds, especially the most recent. Then last night another bomb. Another direct hit. Due to some poor financial decisions and follow-through on both mine and B's part, they started foreclosure proceedings on our home. We had started a loan modification process but it is slow going, it was supposed to put the foreclosure on hold, but we found out that the bank filed a notice of default this week. The communication with the bank has been very difficult and I'm terrified of losing my home. I'm honestly not sure that our marriage would survive that. I'm just not sure I can heal from that wound enough to trust B. again.

I have amazing leadership, warrior sisters and soldiers fighting next to me. I have been loved and encouraged and aided. Right now though, I feel a bit like swiss cheese with each hit taking another piece of me. I just want to catch a break and have some good news. Part of the problem is that my house is a disaster and I just don't have the energy or desire to do anything about it and it seems that neither does anyone else around here. It's hard to find peace amidst chaos, but I really don't have the strength to tame the chaos and I have too much shame about the condition of the house to ask for help. It's rather humiliating.

The most painful wound of all, was the realization that no matter how much I want it, no matter how much he wants to provide it, B. just isn't capable of providing the support I need to recuperate from my wounds right now. Especially not the ones he inflicted. I want his support and he wants to support me, he just isn't capable of it right now. It's very hard to heal from a wound that just keeps getting reopened. 

I am going to go switch my fatigues to the dryer so I can put on the battle wear again tomorrow and try and heal and continue fighting. I will win this battle and heal from these wounds, but not without scars. I am learning though, that our scars make us stronger and are part of our story. 

Battle weary and wounded,

T.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Shame and Comparison

These last few weeks have been rough recovery wise…lots of growing pains. I am so grateful for the growth though, that I am willing to take the pain too.

I STILL have issues with comparison and shame over my story. I still have an overwhelming amount of shame because my husband's acting out behaviors were "just" porn and masturbation. I have felt that I hadn't "earned my seat" so to speak, at the Betrayal Trauma table. This isn't because of the way I was treated or anything that was said to me by the rest of the amazing women at the table, it is all just my own perception. I have felt like B.'s acting out could be so much worse, why should I feel so much betrayal? But here's the thing, I don't HAVE to prove that I have trauma to ANYONE, it's just there. Nobody, including myself, gets to tell me that my trauma isn't justified. My husband is a porn addict, he has been emotionally unavailable to me for the greater part of our twenty years of marriage. Plain and simple. Trauma is trauma and it happens despite our own best efforts to tell ourselves otherwise. What I DO get a say over is how I am going to deal with that trauma and it's effects on me.

I get to say  how hard I work my recovery. I get to say when I'm going to use my tools and reach out. I get to say how long I spend on my knees talking to my Heavenly Father. I get to say I have Trauma (with a capital "T") and own it. As BrenĂ© Brown says, there is so much power in owning our story. I am working on owning mine, Trauma and all.

Here's the other part of that equation, whether or not B. ultimately finds and stays in recovery, is NOT up to me. I have no control over his recovery. I hope he finds recovery. I hope he fights for our family. I pray for those things every day. I cannot, however, control them. He has made progress, significant progress in some areas, but regardless of what progress he has made, I still have to work through the trauma.

I think that's going to be a big dragon for us to slay together, the Trauma dragon. You see, I think B. and me both expect that when he finds recovery I should have found it too. I am realizing that isn't the case, that the addicts recovery and the betrayed's recovery are not usually linear and equal. I know this is going to be a struggle to help him (an myself) understand, but for now I'm leaving that worry where it belongs, in the future. We will, as "they" say, cross that bridge when we come to it.

No comparison,

T.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spiritualy Nourished

This weekend provided some much needed spiritual nourishment. The peace that has accompanied this nourishment has been a much needed balm to my tender soul. This edifying came through two things, a blessing given to me and participating in Temple Ordinances. I will share with you what I journaled the night I received the blessing, because it sums up exactly how I feel. 

Tonight I asked for a blessing. It was just exactly what Heavenly Father knew I was struggling with. My husband is not in a place in recovery yet that he can give me a blessing, nor would I feel like he was the person that could provide that blessing right now, so I asked my best friend's husband to do it. It was so amazing how much I could feel the Spirit whispering to my friend just what I needed to hear. I was reminded that my Heavenly Father loves me and knows me and the struggles that I am going through. I was also reminded that Jesus Christ personally understands and has felt the trials I am going through. He let me know that I would have the strength to endure as I turned toward Him and built my testimony and that I need to help my children and those around me understand and know the truth of the gospel and the restoration. It was not anything I haven't recently thought or heard, but tonight it was what Heavenly Father knew I needed to hear. 

I was blessed the next day to attend The Temple with my best friend and woman that was there shared this scripture with me. "Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation" - 2 Nephi 4:30. I am not sure what prompted her to share this with me, but It was just what I needed to hear…REJOICE! I am rejoicing in the peace that I have received from my Heavenly Father. 

The strongest impression I received this week, many times over, was that my Heavenly Father KNOWS me and LOVES me and is HERE FOR me. I needed this reminder, apparently over and over again, before it penetrated my soul. I am loved. I am known. I am protected. 

Peacefully Nourished,

T.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

What A Week

This has been one of those weeks…you know the weeks where your thoughts are challenged in a good way, you feel like there aren't enough hours in the day, you've felt every emotion in the book and you still feel blessed? Yeah, me either…but it's just what this week has been! I'll give you a quick run-down: 49 hours at work, individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy (LifeStar meeting), Book Club (at my house), everyday chores (grocery store, dinner, laundry etc), Church, head cold and NEDA Week (National Eating Disorder Awareness Week) which I supported because of my own eating disorder (compulsive overeating) and those are just the highlights. But as I reflect on this week, it has been GOOD. I'm exhausted physically, spiritually and emotionally, but I am counting my blessings and feeling content.

My therapist…I have NO words! She is just simply AMAZING! She can tap into what I need to think about and hear and do it while continuing to make me feel safe. I have no words to share the gratitude I have for this amazing woman. She is compassionate, kind, insightful, hopeful, encouraging, challenges me…and so many more words that I can't even list. She's just a woman like you and I, but she gets me. Well, at least it FEELS like she gets me. As I mentioned before I had some serious introspection to do about my "rescuing" behaviors. I have a LOOOOOOOOOONG way to go in that department, but for me being aware is a huge step. I have not been aware of a lot of those behaviors before. I wish I could see her more than every other week, there are weeks I could see her every.single.day and it wouldn't be enough. She's not a superhero (I haven't seen her darting into any telephone booths, shooting spider webs out of her hands or freezing anyone with her eyes), but to me she feels like one. She is MY superhero this week. I'm sure there might be times that I don't get exactly what I want out of sessions, but this week, it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear, despite the fact that it challenged many of my thoughts and beliefs about myself. They were thoughts and beliefs that NEEDED to be challenged.

Couples therapy was great. I tried really hard not to dominate the session (yes I am THAT wife…the one that NEVER shuts-up…working on that). We both talked. We both listened. Our therapist facilitated a great conversation. It was peaceful. We connected. It helped forward our healing.

LifeStar meeting. That's it. Just LifeStar.

Book Club is my favorite non-recovery activity. I love my book club friends and I love reading. I always joke "it's not about the book" because in reality, it's really about the friendship and chance to recharge. I do love reading though and it gives me a chance to read books that I otherwise wouldn't. I haven't finished a book club book in months and I am so glad that my friends forgive me for that. I was really embarrassed at first to not have read the book that I chose, but I let that go because, well life is busy and recovery is a time consuming job…so there's that.

My favorite part of this week was all the connection I had. I talked to my Mom about something important to both of us. I was able to connect with a few of my warrior women friends who are fighting this battle…I mean really connect! I was there for them to reach out to and they were there for me (love you Sway). I was able to connect with my daughter about boys and life. I was able to connect with my son and help him work through some fears. B and I had an entire day today of connection. I am soaking it all in, because I know this is not how every week will be…I just hope that the pattern holds and I get to connect more.

May this week bring connection for me and for you. My our Heavenly Father bless you and hold you.

Contentedly,

T.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Self Reflection is Painful

I went to see my therapist today. I love going to see her because she helps me gain so much insight. Today was no different, it was just a lot more painful than I expected it to be.

I am a rescuer through and through. I have been pretty much my entire life. This is something I am working on in all aspects of my life. Today my therapist asked me if I was rescuing others in group. I said "No" without hesitation. As we talked some more, she helped me realize that I was indeed rescuing during group (she probably already knew this for two reasons: a- she's a great therapist and seems to understand me and, b- they have staff meeting and are able to discuss how things are going in group with each other so it is probably some insight from my group leader). It struck a nerve. I don't want to be "that" person. The one that can see so clearly see (she thinks) what others need and talk as if they have all their crap together when in fact they haven't even scratched the surface of what is underneath all their own trauma. Ugh! I am that person though.

What really hit a nerve was when she tapped into the very root of all my insecurities. My absolute need to belong. We all need to feel like we belong somewhere. My need to belong isn't any more or less prominent than anyone else, we all have the need to feel like we belong. What is pathological about my need to belong is the way I go about helping myself feel like I belong. I feel like if people don't "need" me then I don't belong with them. I fuel this feeling of being needed by rescuing. If I make myself feel invaluable and needed then I belong there, because they won't be able to get along without me.

I can name you a multiple examples of this in my everyday life, but I honestly didn't see that I was doing it in group. I feel a little more broken about that. I feel like that was my safe place to just be me, but apparently I'm the one holding myself back from being free to be me. I'm the one who won't let my guard down. It hurts to be self reflective. It's a painful process. Especially when I'm not sure how to go about correcting what I didn't realize I was doing.

I think what really zinged my vulnerability nerve today was when my therapist asked me a question I should be asking myself, "Who am I if I'm not rescuing? What is my worth?" I had to look at her and tell her that I honestly don't know. Who would I be today if I wasn't "needed" by anyone? What value would I have to myself? I really, truly don't know the answer to that question. I need to be able to figure that out. I can feel the growing pains coming and they are already starting to hurt.

Please keep a prayer in your heart, if you can, that I will learn to be more honest with myself and find some reflection back of what I am really worth. A more clear reflection of where my value really lies.

Reflectively,

T.

Monday, February 23, 2015

What Would You Want To Share?

I have a list of things I would want to share with others about Betrayal Trauma and Sex Addiction. You can see some of them here, here and here. Actually I have A LOT of things to share, but I want to know what you would want shared. If you had an opportunity to speak to a group of your ecclesiastical leaders what would you want them to know?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Grief, Peace and Gratitude for The Plan

This has been one very long and emotionally taxing week…but it was also a week of peace. It seems odd to me that both can coexist so easily, but they did for me this week. Remember my last post? I was so angry and didn't seem to be able to let go of that anger. That's not the case today, the anger is gone and peace has taken it's place.

I was truly blessed to be able to grow up in the same house and with the same friends until I left home. To this day, those friends are some of my closest. I love these friends as if they were blood. This week I grieve with one of those friends. Her husband finally succumbed to the cancer that has been plaguing him for the last four years. My heart aches because this amazingly strong woman has to raise her children alone without her husband at her side. He has been at her side and making the most of the time he had. He had his faults just like anyone else, but he was there, active in his family life and being a companion to my friend.

He fought with all he had to beat the cancer, and he maintained the upper hand throughout most of that fight. He didn't let his diagnosis and prognosis rule his life, he just simply fought and lived the best way he knew how. He fought! That's what hit me so hard at the funeral. How hard he fought. It hit me right then that it was no different than what I want of my husband…for him to fight. I want B. to fight for our family because he does have a choice and he can use every weapon available to him to FIGHT! What was strange though was that I wasn't angry or sad about my situation when I thought that, it just was. It actually gave me a measure of peace and understanding to have an example of what fighting looks like.

The funeral was so incredibly challenging but at the same time there was such a feeling of celebration of my friend's life. He was truly a warrior in every sense of the word. I am so truly blessed to believe that there is a plan that will allow my sweet friend and her warrior husband to be reunited and live as man and wife eternally. It is often the only measure of peace that I can find surrounding death. The peace of knowing that life doesn't end here but continues on.

I also got to spend three days with my sister recharging my self-care batteries. It was exactly what I needed. I got to be there to love and support my friend and I got to recharge at the same time. It helped me find a measure of peace and perspective that has been lacking from my life for a while.

I also, unfortunately, brought a nasty virus home with me and I physically feel miserable. B. thought I was mad at him tonight because I came in and went straight to the bedroom to lie down. I reassured him that I wasn't angry just exhausted and feeling miserable. It was nice to be able to communicate that to him and clear the air so tension didn't grow from the unexpressed emotions. We're working on that communication thing!

I am still aching for my friend and I know she has many hard roads ahead. I am so blessed that I get to travel some of them with her. She is truly a strong and inspirational woman. I love you my friend! Thank you for letting me be there with you in your grief.

Finding peace in The Plan,

T.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Anger Is A Girl's Best Friend

I am angry today…frankly I've been angry all week. There are some HUGE things going on in my life right now (outside of the addiction and trauma)…at least they feel HUGE to me. I really have no emotional reserve right now and I have been snappy and peevish all week. I hate that I am so angry and that I have slipped back into that pattern. I need to find some healing again and use my tools to let go of the anger.  I can't change B, all I can change is me.  Sound like I'm trying to say it so I can make myself believe it? I am a little bit. I just want to shake B and say "Wake the hell up and SEE me!" I know it won't do any good, especially with the swear word thrown in there…but it's what I want to do at the current moment.

I really want to be SEEN, HEARD and CARED FOR. I really want to not have to carry this load alone. B texted me on Thursday and told me that he wants to be there for me through this and that's all I've ever wanted, for him to be present and help me through trials. I have been the one taking care of everyone for so long, I don't know how NOT to do that. I try to give him more of the load, but he drops it so often that I end up picking it up anyway. Most of the time it's easier to just carry it myself, but that turns me into a rescuer and leaves me feeling resentful and used.

I can barely keep my eyes open, but I wanted to get a few thoughts down.

Wishing I wasn't so angry,

T.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Finding Some Humility

I hate it when I let my trauma get the best of me…but I have certainly done that a lot lately. Tonight I made some strides in recognizing it though.

I came home tonight after a very long and taxing day at work and just snapped…at everyone…about everything. I tried to talk to B. about it, but it didn't go well because I didn't recognize my trigger and name it for what it was, so I reacted instead to it instead of coping with it.

I realized that when I come in the door from work if B. is looking at his phone or his computer, then I get triggered. That was the case tonight, only I didn't recognize the trigger. Instead I got mad and tried to bully everyone into doing what I thought they should be doing. Then when I tried to talk to B. I went into persecutor mode and he went to victim. It wasn't nice or pretty. I don't know what finally got through to me, but I realized that I was triggered and reacting to that trigger. It was a lightbulb moment for me (the kind I like) and I was able to be able to name it and start to draw on some tools to deal with it.

I eventually apologized to B. for reacting out of fear and lashing out in anger. I truly am sorry for acting that way. I don't like being that way. In fact I hate it.

I hope that now I have named the trigger that I will be able to better cope with it and work through it instead of reacting to it. We have a long way to go together and I genuinely hope that one day we will heal together as a couple. For today, I am grateful for one more piece in the puzzle that is my recovery.

I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for the Atonement and the chance to be forgiven. I am so thankful for the ability to converse with him through prayer and to find a measure of comfort and peace. I don't like that I have to find humility by acknowledging my weakness, but I am grateful none-the-less for that humility. I love learning and growing no matter how painful it is. I love that I am getting the chance to be the best me that I can be.

A little more humble,

T.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Scary Things

Today was a day of doing scary things…well scary to me in that it required vulnerability greater than I felt I was up to. Heavenly Father knew I could do it…but I had to be kicked pretty hard to get me there.

I'll start off by saying, I'm not generally shy about sharing my testimony (my faith, belief and knowledge of the truths I believe in for those of you out there that have either never heard of or understood that term before). Today was Fast Sunday (a day every month where we fast in order to bring ourselves closer to Heavenly Father and then we are able to share our testimony during our services), but I wasn't going to share my testimony as I have shared it a lot lately and our ward is huge so I felt someone else needed the time. However, during the Sacrament I KNEW I had to get up, and not only did I have to get up but He had specific things I needed to bear witness of. I was the first one up and my testimony was super short, but it was exactly what He knew I needed to say.

I wrote in my journal as soon as I sat down, and I would like to share that with you here.

"Tender mercies of the Lord surround me. I don't know how I would've made it through with out those tender mercies. He KNOWS me, He LOVES me, He GUIDES me and He is AVAILABLE to me. He has placed people in my life that I never would've otherwise met. These amazing women have taught me through example how to have faith and hope. These women have supported me and have given me the opportunity to support them. They have cried with me and have let me grieve with them. They have let me help hold their heartache and they have helped hold mine.

I have been given the opportunity to share my story so that someone else will know that they are not alone. They don't have to suffer in silence because there are others that understand and won't judge.

I won't say that I am grateful for my trial but I do acknowledge that I probably would not have found the strength I have in my faith without these trials. I am very grateful for the strength I have received. My faith and testimony are stronger than I can remember them being in a long, long time. I know that my Father in Heaven loves me. I know he cherishes me. He strengthens me. He answers my prayers. He blesses me beyond measure. I am loved."

My heart is just overflowing with the knowledge that I am loved by my Lord and that He watches out for me. I am blessed beyond measure with the outpouring of the love He has for me. A friend described His love as being tangible during an impossible situation today. That is exactly how I felt today, His hand was tangible in my life today.

The second scary thing He prompted me to do today was to be vulnerable to one of my favorite people in my ward. She is someone I truly admire. I shared a post from my blog with here back in the first part of December and had never heard from her. I felt the overwhelming nudge to ask her if she had seen it. She has and she hadn't responded because she didn't know how to say what she wanted to. I still don't know why I was prompted to share it with her in the first place, but we are going to dinner this week to talk. I am nervous, excited and scared all at once. It is so scary to just simply own my story for what it is and not carry that shame anymore…but I feel a tiny bit lighter each time I do.

My eyes won't stay open any longer tonight, but I have more great things to share about, so hopefully I will remember to tell you about them later.

Being brave,

T.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Irrational Thinking

I would be absolutely lying through my teeth to you if I told you that B's addiction hasn't affected my self-image and thinking patterns. Don't get me wrong, it's not the only source of my negative self-image but it has certainly contributed to it. Part of that negativity is reflected in my thoughts. I sometimes have very irrational and negative thoughts.

I had a bit of an a-ha moment about this yesterday that I want to share. My best friend lives about four hours away from us. We have been separated for about 6 1/2 years. We each have family and reasons to visit in each other's cities, so we get to see each other a few times a year. She came to town this weekend for a family event, so we tried to coordinate time to see each other.

It turns out the only time we could make it work was at 6:45 on Saturday morning. That is a completely unreasonable time to have to be up and about on a Saturday, but if it was the only chance I had to see her then I'd take it. 

As I was driving to meet her, the thought popped into my head, "She must have something bad to tell me. Why else would she be willing to get up so early on Saturday to see me?"

As soon as it appeared I combated it with, "Well of COURSE she is willing to get up to see you, she's your best friend!" 

I shared this with her while we were walking and visiting and she immediately put her arm around me and assured me that my second thought was the valid one and that the first one was silly. I already knew that this was what she would say, because well, she gets me and I get her. This is why she is one of my "safe people" and I know no matter what she'll still love me.

My a-ha moment came when I realized how destructive my thoughts have been in the past and how much my thinking is changing. I have a great deal of work to do still on my thinking, but overall it has improved. 

I used to constantly think things like, "If I was (insert any perceived desirable trait here: skinnier, prettier, better in bed, kept the house cleaner, etc.) then B wouldn't need porn." That is categorically untrue! I FINALLY believe that. It wouldn't matter what I looked like, what I was willing to do or how clean the house was, he would STILL have looked at porn and masterbated. His addiction and acting out is NOT my fault and I DID NOT cause it! 

I FINALLY BELIEVE THAT I AM ENOUGH! Will someone remind me occasionally though? I'm sure that I will still slip into that mode at times where I think that I can do something to make B change. 

If you are struggling with similar irrational negative thoughts, let me tell you right now that I know how you feel. I also know that YOU ARE ENOUGH! Your husband's addiction has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with your worth as a person. I read a quote the other day and I'm sorry I can't remember who said it or the exact words, but it was something to the effect of, "Your worth does not decrease because of anthers inability to see it." It is absolutely true. You are not at fault for your husband's addiction. You are enough!!!

Thinking more clearly,

T.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Survival Mode

This was a very productive weekend. I was a little apprehensive because we had very ambitious plans and that is often a recipe for disappointment around here. We got a lot accomplished though. B. finished a project that I have been wanting done for over a year! I don't normally post personal pictures here (to protect our anonymity), but I was so thrilled with how these shelves turned out that I just had to share. These are on the wall right next to the desk in our office space. All the canisters and containers have office supplies in them. I need a couple more baskets or boxes for paper but even if that doesn't happen, I LOVE THEM!



The other thing we got accomplished was cleaning out our closet. It's almost done anyway, a couple of shelves left to organize and my jewelry to put away and it's done. It was my commitment for the week to my LifeStar group. I'm not going to post a picture of that here. I'll be honest, it is embarrassing and causes some shame, it was THAT bad.

What does this all have to do with the title of the post…survival mode? Because while we were dejunking and editing, building and organizing, it made me realize just how much has gone undone since we moved into our home three-and-a-half years ago. I'll be frank, some of the junk has been piled up and unorganized since BEFORE we moved into our house.  I was contemplating this and it hit me, I have been living in survival mode for YEARS. All I was doing was just enough to get from day to day and accomplish enough to survive.

I didn't realize that I had been just barely getting by for so long. It wasn't until this weekend that I realized that not only am I doing a much better job of keeping up with the day to day things, but I am also getting projects and catch-up done. I'm no longer just surviving! I wanted to do a touchdown dance!

That is not to say that some days aren't rough and sometimes I have to revert back to survival mode. The trauma just gets to be too much for me and I have to revert. Those days are much farther apart than they used to be and I have tools in place to help me get through them. I really am making progress.

The other a-ha moment this weekend was about B. He helped me (a lot) with the closet and he researched, designed, bought the supplies for (with the exception of the reclaimed wood as I already had that), and completed the shelves start to finish in just a few hours. When I sent a picture to one of my friends she said, "I didn't know he was so talented!" I replied, "Neither did he, but I did!"

This is the man that is under this addiction. He is kind and thoughtful. He is talented and artistic. He can see the beauty in items that have history. He is methodical when working on a project. He is determined when he has a serious goal in mind. When our son got a headache tonight and threw-up all over his bedroom, B. cleaned most of it up (and for this I am profoundly grateful)! This is the man I know is is in there. This is the man I am learning to fall in love with.

If you are in survival mode, know that there is hope. Even if your spouse doesn't seek recovery, you can. You can learn how to do more than survive, you can find the strength and determination to have control over your life, instead of your life having control over you. It takes work and determination and a whole lot of help from On High, but it is attainable. Don't give up hope. If you want encouragement or a listening ear, email me at awifeprogressing(at)gmail(dot)com.

Not just surviving,

T.