Bill of Rights

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Moving Forward

I don't know if I was brave or stupid.  I felt both emotions, and many more as I sat in the Stake High Council room Sunday morning.  Both H and the Stake President were a little hesitant of my being there as well.  I already knew in my gut and heart what the out come would be, still I asked if I could be allowed to be included.

I sat through it all anyway.  
I sat through it to support H.  
I sat through it for closure.  
I sat through it to hear what H would really say and how he would tell his side of the story. (Maybe I wanted to be sure it was told correctly.  Not that it would matter.  I would never be brave enough to speak out in a room full of men -- 16 of them.)

I sat through it and cried while H cried. 
I sat through it and all sounds of silence so thick around the room as the men listened.  (Maybe it was the spirit.   It was such a sad and heavy feeling that it was hard for me to not notice the pain in it.  Maybe the Holy Spirit has a sad side too when the deeds of the children of God have offended Him.)

In the end, the Stake President told me three times how right it was for me to be there.  H said the same thing over and over throughout the day.  Several of the High Counselors mentioned being grateful for my presence and for my words of faith and encouragement.   The sweetest compliment came from the 1st counselor to the SP, he said as he shook my hand on the way out the door, "I didn't know you very well before, but now I feel I know you very deeply and see what a beautiful and tender soul you have."  

The kindness was so touching.   Not just what was offered me, but what was extended to H as he walked the room at the end of the council to shake each man's hand.   It was the piece of this whole disciplinary thing that I wanted to experience.  I told H before we left the house Sunday morning one of my reasons for wanting to experience the whole process with him was so that I could feel that sweet piece of kindness and brotherhood.  I would need to know it for those rough days that are surely to come.   I would then be able to remind him of the good, of the love and acceptance, of the compassion.  I would be able to remind myself too.

H managed the whole experience fairly well.  He's brought up a couple times in the past 24 hours how heavy the outcome has been on his heart.  He said he knew it would be hard, he just didn't expect the loss to feel so deep.  

Now we go forward.  Me a member, H not.  We start over.  H gets a second chance.  Its good for him.  A new beginning.  An opportunity to make right years of ugly wrongs.  One day he'll come to the  Lord cleaned of all of this.  It is such a wonderful gift God gives to his children.  The Lord will remember no more.

I'm trying to find the words for a wife to hold to in this whole thing.  I do remember.  It isn't that I can't get it off my mind.  It is more that the effects of repeated trauma follow me.  It makes me mindful of behaviors or words that might indicate a return to old behaviors.  I need to be aware of signals and clues.  I never want to go back to this anymore -- back to more pain,  to more infidelity.  I have had enough.

For H, the prodigal son has returned, he's welcomed with open arms.  As it should be.  Wondering souls need love and acceptance so very badly.  They need hands to hold as the walk the rocky mountainous path back to full fellowship.  So many people will sit with H's pain as he walks from the dark back into the light.

But what about the wife?  As the husband is worked back into the fold, counseled with, visited, encouraged, challenged, the wife is in the background.  Parts of that are a little sticky in my mind right now.

Will re-baptism clean up all the ugliness that landed on her?

Please don't read bitterness in this.  I am not in anyway bitter.  I am so very relieved to watch H willingly go through this very humbling process.  With all my heart I want him to feel the Savior's love and know his own worth and to know he is not his mistakes.  

I'm just looking for words to sink myself in to for the wife's part.  I need a book on this.  I've got tons on addiction and betrayal trauma.  Each one has been so helpful.  Is there not anything to help me with this spiritual side?   Hasn't some amazing LDS writer written on healing a wife damaged by her husband's sexual addiction?   I need one on that topic.

I'm grateful for time to work on processing my part of it.  To work to apply the Atonement for each of the different levels of this trial.  Working back from excommunication takes time.  At least a year before re-baptism and at least another year before the First Presidency can be petitioned for a restoral of blessings.  

Time will be our friend.  

Prayers will be more constant as this phase brings on a new set of tests.  

Please help me Father to trust your plan and to have the ability to thwart the Adversary as he works on me and H to keep him from returning to Thee.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Processing Trauma

I suck at this right now.  I'm hurt and angry, yet I'm expected to act kind and loving when those are not the emotions I feel at present.

Marilyn Tenney said this at today's Togetherness Conference held in Phoenix, Arizona; " Relational Trauma overwhelms the coping strategies and can define the relationship as a source of danger rather than a safe haven in times of stress.  Because we are wired to connect with others, the closer the person who hurts us, the more traumatic the experience."

I've mentioned betrayal trauma as a PTSD-like condition.  PTSD defined is, a condition created by exposure to a psychologically distressing event outside the range of usual human experience, one which would be markedly distressing to almost everyone, and which causes intense fear, terror, and helplessness.

Yeah, I've got that.

Right now, there has to be a way to balance the emotions.  A method I can apply to feel the emotions of the recent disclosure and while not diminishing the pain still be present emotionally for H.

Easier said than done.

I spoke with the stake president this past week in conjunction with H's church disciplinary council.  He mentioned that I might have  'some difficulty' dealing with the issues H has brought into the marriage.


Did he really listen to ALL  of H's disclosure?

This week in group we worked on part of step 2.  Some of my take-aways that I'm using to help me process this current disclosure are:

1.  Adversity does not happen to us, it happens for us.
2.  We can become whole throughout Christ even if we currently feel broken
3. Many of you suffer needlessly from carrying heavy burdens because you do not open your hearts to the healing power of the Lord.
4.  "Hope is not knowledge, but rather the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promise to us" Elder Uchdorf
5.  Gratitude diminishes the power of the problem
6.  When He says to the poor in spirit, "come unto me, ' He means He know s the way out and He knows the way up.

I really need to work through that #3.  If that holds any truth for me, that I'm suffering 'needlessly' then I have to figure out how to give more of this to the Lord.  Why put myself through more suffering that I need to when I hold a key to prevention?

I'm challenged though.  All of the focus from locals who know is directed towards H.  He's a returning 'lost soul.'  He needs them to reach out to him and help catch him, save him, point him back on the path.  While I don't want to minimize the great need for this.  It does leave me in a forgotten place.

Even the SP didn't bother to ask if I was ok.  Just told me if I have difficulty with any of it to read and pray more.    (insert little snicker here  -- but please don't take that wrong.  I know the scriptures are a valuable resource.  They just are not the only part of good betrayal trauma healing.)

Tomorrow is our big day, or at least H's.  I'm thinking this is a lot why I stink at not letting go and letting God.  The end result of the disciplinary council will have a big effect on our lives.   I need to trust in who holds the future and who knows what both H and I need to grow and become who God wants us to be.

I know its ok for me to struggle with this.  I don't have to be good at it -- I just have to keep trying.  Once foot in front of the other every day.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Know More Than 17 Names

Warning:  Please know, if you are reading this post today, I am purging.  If my truths or my story are too much, know that I understand.  Thank you for reading and commenting in the past.  I hope if you skip this post you'll be back again one day.  Your comments and support are huge to me.

I have been sitting down at this blog every day for the past two weeks trying to get the words to flow in a way that expresses my feelings without disrespecting H.  I want, no,  I need to tell my story.  This is my life.  The things I write about happened to me.  These experiences are the ones that are tearing me down, or hopefully, helping to build me back up.   I find that I am often locked up in the telling.  This story is difficult.  Pieces of it raw and painful.  I don't want my healing to cause H more pain.   Keeping it locked away, as if it didn't really happen has been hurting me.  I'm not going to recover until I can hear me tell my story.

I know more than 17 names.

In the past four years H's acting out has exacerbated to the extreme.  He's lived double lives with other women while I believed we were progressing well, and living a life together -- just the two of us.  We've taken trips, held new grand babies, purchased a second home, all while he has lived a life with another women.   And this is not the first time this has happened in my 25 year marriage.

H has had multiple sex partners.  Sexually "seeing" several women at the same time.

H has entertained bi-sexual women.

H has lied. And lied some more.

Through all of this, H returns and leaves so often from my life, and my home, I feel like a revolving door.

Here I go again.

Two weeks ago H began texting me frequently throughout the day.  The two weeks prior had been pretty silent.  When H left with his venomous words of 'I won't be back this time.'   I was grateful for the silence and distance to help heal from those stinging words.

These texts sounded engaging, pleasant.
He wanted something.
I didn't trust them.
I don't trust him.

When H came back in February, it was with the promise that he would come clean with everyone he'd been with and to what extent.  He'd show me the email, the instant messages, texts,  phone numbers.   I wanted to see it all.  He promised.  He lied.

I saw nothing.

We spent the next six weeks avoiding each other.
I wanted disclosure and truth.
H wanted to hide his crimes in the shrouded lies and duplicity.

The anger got worse.
The nights at work longer.
With all his electronics password protected I had no proof.
Still, I asked for the truth again,
H left.

H left and went back to a woman he'd initially been with when all this started four years ago.  How does that work?  They just wait around for him?   For two or three years?

I don't get this lifestyle or the mindset of these kinds of women.  I try not to judge and pray God will forgive me when in my pain I have judged them.  I've called them names.  Words I have never ever said before.

H's place of preference has become hookup sites. I'm amazed,  no, shocked at the amount of women who are married or looking for a married man to 'hook up' with.  In the last four years he has found plenty of opportunity to explore a side of sexuality that doesn't work with me.  That language disgusts and repels me.  It makes me feel used and dirty.  I hate what this addiction has turned my husband into.  He is not the man I once knew.

When H and I are separated he turns to those places to fill up the void and the hurt.   Knowing this makes me cry.  It also makes me want to hit him.  I don't, but I recognize those twin emotions.  I'm grateful they are both there.  I'm grateful that in all of this I've not be consumed by hatred.  I easily could have.

I know more than 17 names.

The more women I know who share this trial, the more I realize how different we all are when it comes to the amount of information we need at disclosure.  Because H is a liar and skilled at a duality of lifestyles I dig until I feel confident I have the truth.

This time, I have been even more relentless in my queries.  I would not even consider H's return without his willingness to answer every one of my questions.  Even if I asked them over and over.  I also wouldn't tolerate any anger or defensiveness.  When the 'grilling' became too much, we took a break.  I didn't want to shame H as he disclosed.  I hoped the truth would set him free like the scriptures teach.  I hoped that having everything out this time, not February's 'everything' or January's everything, or December's, but the everything that should have come out before it ever came to separation.  The everything kind of truth that God knew.

H cried as he answered my question.

I paced the floor like a caged animal and the stories unfolded.

I know more than 17 names.

I'm sure there are some I don't know.  I'm confident that there are truths that still have not been told.  I'm not sure I will ever know everything.  I'm confident that H doesn't even know the truth.  He has lived a life of deception for so long that the falsehoods are mingled into his reality making one big, unravel-able knot.  Only the Savior can undo this part.

For now,  I'm trusting in that kind of grace and mercy, for H and for me.

I cannot think of a more difficult test than to be constantly forgiving an unfaithful spouse.  No matter the depth of the infidelity, betrayal is a miserable and painful trial.  Women, like myself, who deal with repetitive betrayal have a very difficult and often lonely recovery to get through.

This isn't like job loss, or surgery.  You don't go around your neighborhood or ward talking about your husband's addictions or how he sexually acts out.  You wear this trial in silence.  All the hurt and broken-ness invisible to those around you.  And if, in a moment of desperation, you are brave and share,  shunning happens.  It happens in the form of doubt or justifying or even blame.  Words like 'all guys do this, its no big deal.'  Or, "you should have been more available to your husband so he wouldn't have strayed."  Some of the most painful remarks come from ecclesiastical leaders who tell you to pray harder, study your scriptures more, attend the temple more regularly.

No one knows that I know more that 17 names.  No one, but this page and a few brave supporters who have made it this far.  (If that is you,  know that I love you and have survived only because of the support I have receive here and in my private recovery groups.)

In the past two weeks since H came home, again, it is a constant battle in guiding the thoughts that come into my mind and set my physical body into turmoil.  I often want to throw up.  I often shake uncontrollably.   Betrayal does this to the soul.  The battle is not only emotional -- it is very, painfully, excruciatingly physical as well.

In the past two weeks I have also felt joy.  Having H home completes me.  That should sound unbelievable (and maybe insane)  on the heels of my 17 name revelation.   I've known this man more than half my life.  I've loved him longer than any other human being, aside from the familial love I have for my parents and siblings.  I've been through more trials and more joys with this man than with any other human being.  We've planned and executed more dreams.  We've survived more failures.  We've born and buried children together.

These are the reasons H keeps coming home even though I know more than 17 names.

Last week H went to see the bishop.  He made that appointment on his own.  Tomorrow he sees the stake president.  Also an appointment he set on his own.

Two more reasons to hope.

I have to compel myself to believe what H says to me right now.  Every word runs past that filter of doubt.  I'm constantly asking myself if these are words he said to woman #5 or number #12 or even to all of them.

I'm in a numb stage right now.  I'm scared to death of the anger that has to be breathing down my door.  H has never been able to see anger as stemming from hurt.  He sees it as rejection -- which then causes  him act out.

I hate this vicious cycle.

For the first time, in 25 years we talk about my emotions.  We talk about my right to get mad and what H can do to allow those feelings without him absorbing them and feeling that rejection.  H has never been able to go there with me.

He told me yesterday, in one of my low points, how surprised he was that I haven't struck him.

Is it believable that he can actually see how ugly this is for me.

Two weeks ago I added more names to my list.  Its more than 17 now.  Its more pain than any one soul should ever have to bear.

But I do.

I'm not sure why.  I'm not even sure how I am able to.

I am furious.  To say otherwise would add my deception to all of H's.

I hate this life.  Those 17 names.  Even sometimes this man I'm married to.  I hate this addiction.  I hate how it tears down the soul and damages the core of the addict and his wife.

I try not to be angry at God though.  I try to hold to my trust in a loving Heavenly Father, and in his divine plan.

I've been told all my life that losses will be made right.  How can God give me a marriage of fidelity?  That is my loss.  How can God take away more than 17 names from the list of women who have shared this marriage?

I have no answers.  Just faith.

It is that faith that has gotten me out of bed each morning the past 14 days.  It is that faith that keeps me from crumbling on the floor of the shower as I try to start yet another day with all this heavy weight on my heart.  It is that faith I'm holding on to right now for dear life.  For fear if I let go, the grief and anguish will wash me away.