Bill of Rights

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Husband Is Not the Enemy!

I want to go on record with this statement -- from the get-go here.

My husband is NOT the enemy!

I know what is causing all the chaos and strife in my home and in my heart right now.  I know the source of the pain and grief.  I know the source of relief and deliverance.  It's just not coming together as I would have hoped.

I've been having discussions about the difference between recovery and healing.  It's been interesting to get different perspectives on these two terms.  Often they are used interchangeably. To me, they are very different.

One friend used these definitions

Recover:  Return to a normal state of health, mind or strength; to find or regain possession

Heal:  To become healthy or well again; to restore to original purity or integrity

I loved these definitions.  Actually I loved her whole take on this topic.  I found it interesting that we have been working on similar posts.  Great minds?  (Maybe I can get her permission to link her post here.  I think you'll enjoy her thoughts.  When she's ready to share them.)

Over the past few weeks the topic of healing and recovery have run a continual thread through the discussions between H and I.  We are not on the same page -- at all.  I feel like I'm no where near where I need to be to give to him what he is looking for.  He on the other hand feels like I need to be there.  In a similar way, I need H to be in a place he isn't and doesn't feel he's ready to be.

This makes me feel crazy.

It frustrates H.

I often feel like the rat in the wheel.  I go round and round and get no where.  

Right now, the only thing I know to do is to go back to the beginning and start again with the process.  I know I'm not healed.  I know there are gaping holes inside me. There are pieces of me yet to be found, knowledge still unlearned.  I've heard it said that recovery isn't an event, it is a process.  

There's a great article here where I read this comment:  "Healing from the impact of betrayal is not a linear experience that starts out with the pain of discovery and then automatically feels better with time. Instead, it’s a unique journey for each couple based on several factors such as the unfaithful partner’s willingness to tell the truth, previous betrayals, duration of the affair, and other factors."

Several key points jump out to me here:
 1. Not a linear experience
 2. Partner's willingness to tell the truth
 3. Previous betrayals
 4. Duration
 (and there's that last one:  'other factors')

My story wraps around each of these points, several times. 

For me, it feels a lot like"   

Shell Shock (noun) psychological disturbance caused by prolonged exposure to active warfare, especially being under bombardment

Or maybe this:
Stress breakdown: is a psychiatric injury, which is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation

This seems to fit too:
Trauma, which means "wound" in Greek, is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one's ability to cope or integrate the emotions connected to that experience.

Which ever term we go by, it is going to take some time to work through.  And on a good note here, time is what we have going for us.  

Alma 34: 37 "And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God, ..."

However, Elder Joseph B. Worthlin warned us about our time here: "The days of our probation are numbered, but none of us knows the number of those days. Each day of preparation is precious."
While my precious pieces of time pass with each moment and each experience, I'm trying desperately to heal that wound caused by the trauma of betrayal.
In a talk by President Thomas S. Monson made these two points regarding grief:

What Is Grief?

Grief is the emotional, and often physical, response we have when we experience loss. The more profound the loss, the more profound the grief will be. Grief can involve virtually every emotion or can leave us feeling numb and disconnected from the world around us.

Grief Is Painful, but Do Not Avoid It

Grief hurts, but it can be the salve that helps us heal when it is allowed to do its work appropriately. The first step in handling grief is to recognize that the pain is a normal part of the process. It needs to be acknowledged, not avoided.

My questions is how do I get through this ^^^^^ to feel more like this vvvvv??

A marriage, eternal in duration and God-like in quality does not contemplate divorce. 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said; " Under the law of the Lord, a marriage, like a human life, is a precious, living thing. If our bodies are sick, we seek to heal them. We do not give up. While there is any prospect of life, we seek healing again and again. The same should be true of our marriages, and if we seek Him, the Lord will help us and heal us."

A particularly favorite message of mine is found in 2 Nephi 2: 1-2: " And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.
 Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
I love that promise:  "Thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for they gain."

I know how awesome and great Father in Heaven is.  I know that he can take my afflictions and turn them in to goodness (gain).  That 'gain' of healing and hope would be a consecration of the afflictions of this marriage.  I know this comes through the healing power of the Atonement.  
As I stated in the beginning,  my husband is not the enemy.  Though maybe in years past I saw him as such.  I know that the struggles we face currently come in great measure from the workings of the Adversary who would like nothing more than to see H never return to full membership.  He'd like nothing else than to see this marriage and family dissolve once and for all.  In my mind I know why this struggle is so very hard.  If I could just get my heart and my head to align this struggle might feel more conquerable.
Too often I feel stuck.  Too often I feel the broken-ness of our communication.  The effects of addiction on the brain are real.  Every day feels like a battle to get past the gas lighting and blame-shifting to what is the truth and then to navigate the issue at hand with truth-based principles.  
Too often my method of 'managing my safety' looks to H like I'm controlling everything he does.  It is difficult to speak the same language here making conflict resolution feel impossible. 
I find myself constantly asking how do I take the knowledge I've mentioned above into the difficult and often explosive battles of day to day life with a recovering addict?

That question brings me back full circle to: what is recovery and what is healing?  

The only answer I have is that recovery is my process to find that healthy state of heart and mind.  Healing will be when I feel restored to my original purity and integrity.  When individually I feel restored and our marriage feels restored.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Things I Do Not Like

Now that recovery is my way of life H and I spend a lot of time frustrated with each other. Even though H has been working the ARP recovery program, we are still on vastly different pages.  

I used to grin and bear, stuff, pretend, hide, ignore, forget, and even go without so much of my own emotions that finding them, feeling them, sitting with them long enough to even recognize them has taken tremendous effort for me this past year.  Years of blocking my truth and my story because H couldn't cope with it has trained me to not feel.  At All.

I don't want to blame it all on H though.  I have a huge span of my childhood I have no memory of.  Why I blocked it I do not know. I just did. I don't think I was hurt, physically, or abused.  The only thing I can figure is that it must have been traumatic -- to me-- at some level in my childhood home. I didn't have the coping skills to process whatever it was.  Blocking became my go to safety technique.

As I look back now, maybe it was good that I had that skill down pat. I'm not sure how I would have coped with the past few years without it.  

Now, though, I'm trying to not stuff, pretend, hide.  H doesn't like it. It isn't the way I used to be and he's having to change.  We spend a lot of time not liking each other.  

I decided this morning as I was working my recovery that I wanted to make a list of things I don't like. Maybe there are some here that are out of line. If you feel brave enough, and love me, you might gently point me in the right direction.

Here's my list. In no particular order. I'm hoping writing this will help me get to the emotion and to the resolution.

1.  I do not like H to tell me that he's "babysitting" when he stays home with D. 

What's with that anyway?  He is her father for crying out loud.  Babysitting, really?

2.  I do not like H to correct little D.  

The two of them have anger management issues badly.  They are fire and gasoline.  It's horrible.  I often find myself in the middle of a combative situation that I struggle to resolve.  When H corrects he often says hurtful things, derogatory things.  I've asked him to back off from correction for a time while he works his recovery and we give D time to heal from her hurt a bit.  Maybe then she and he will be able to work issues out in a more reasonable and Christlike way.  

3.  I do not like H to have unaccounted for money in his wallet. (Are you calling me controlling?)

This is a hard one for a lot of people to get their mind around. You'd have to know my story to understand where this comes from and what is underneath all of it.  You'd have to know how H hid money from me.  How he lived double lives, more than once, for long periods of time.  You'd have to know what deception and fear of not being able to provide for your children does to you that would make this a real issue.  And yes, H and I argue about this one.  And no, its not that he doesn't spend money.  It is more that right now, while I am trying to feel safe with him, I've asked him to not ask to have money he doesn't have to account for.  (One other point for this issue; we are the poor owners of two homes.  Every dime has to be accounted for to keep both those mortgages paid. Neither of us has the luxury of having go to heck money right now.)

4.  I do not like H to be on his phone. Period.

That's bad huh?  If I had my way he wouldn't have one.  Except that we don't have a landline and it would be difficult to communicate with one another these days without one.  I just hate it.  During the past three years, when H was acting out so badly, and had another double life he carried on behind my back he was on his phone all the time.  We couldn't eat dinner together without his face in his phone.  He had it when we sat to watch a movie.  He took it to the bathroom (and he was in there a ridiculous amount of time).  He'd go upstairs to the bedroom and be gone for hours in the evening with that $(^&$@#$ phone.  What I naively thought was mostly a game addiction, I later learned was a instant message ap he had hidden in another ap where he talked to other women.  Right  in  front  of  my  face.

He was like that with his work laptop too that I never had access to because of all his work securities.  He would sit at the kitchen table (because we had that family rule -- no electronics in bedrooms or behind closed doors) and he would get on Craigslist or dating sites and talk to other women while I was sitting across the room from him in plain view, and set up hook-up dates or look at porn, or do whatever he did right under my nose.  If I got up from the couch and walked across the room to get a drink he had plenty of time to just close out that window and open up one that looked like he was doing school.  

I hate H having electronics. Period!

5.  I do not like H being in my home when I am not there.  (yup, I'm that messed up, huh?)

This is just another of my triggers.  When H went back to school to finish his degree he was working a full time and a part time job. The only option for him was distance learning through an online program.  It was during this time that he began wandering off of his class website and school assignments and onto some of the most despicable websites on the internet.  It was during this time that scenario above was a nightly condition.  He would also lie to me and tell me he was at his night job.  Well, the lie part was that he wasn't working, he was physically there, but he'd go into the break room and get online there where he wouldn't get interrupted and have to close windows and end conversations because the kids and I were home and passing by his laptop or sitting at the table when he was trying to get on his dating sites.

But why don't I like him home alone you ask?  Because each Sunday when little D and I were attending our church meetings H was in my home with his, I don't know, you pick an appropriate name for them...either online, or in person, or by text or whatever he could get...and I would sit in church knowing exactly what was going on behind my back, but pretending that H was doing school and not cheating on me or looking at porn. All I could do was sit there, trying not to squirm and pleading that the Lord would help me out of it or find a way to show H a way to stop.  This went on for 3 years.  It was three years of hell.  Three years of torture.  My home was violated.  It was almost impossible to worship or even stay half way present at church.  Leaving H alone in my house is like giving him an open invitation to act out.  Especially on a Sunday.  He knew exactly how long he had before he had to clean things up and pretend he'd been doing his school work the whole time.

6.  I do not like H to touch me.  

Do you think I'll ever get past this issue?  H feels rejected more than empathy for why I am like this right now.  It is so maddening.  I hate addiction.  I hate what it has done to him and to me.  I don't want to be married sometimes.  I stay, but it is a battle I fight every day.

7.  I do not like that H can't seem to figure out how to communicate. 

Even with little things like, 'can you please text me if you plan to stay after group to talk so that I don't have to heat your dinner up 3 or 4 times trying to keep it warm for some unexpected and uncommunicated arrival?'

8.  I do not like how hard this is for me or for H.

The truth is, trying to recover from trauma is very difficult.  I can spend hours in my step work and still run smack dab into all these issues I listed above.  They still trap me.  As hard as I try to apply the principles of the Healing Through Christ.  I struggle.   

Today I started step 6 "Become entirely ready to have God remove all our character weaknesses.  Maybe it will help me with some of these issue I have listed above.

In a couple weeks I'll be leaving on a trip. Just me and little D.  H will stay behind to run our business.  I'm scared to death to leave him here.  I want to lock the door behind me and send him somewhere else for two weeks so that when I come home I will still have my  home, my world, the way I left it.  Unviolated.  So I won't have to wonder if I've been lied to while I was away.  I won't have to go look through cupboards to see if things are as I left them.  I won't have to worry if H honored the agreements we will make about money or food or the business expenses.

It stinks when you can't trust the person who has the greatest ability to damage you.  If I don't do this H won't ever have an opportunity to prove to me and to himself that he's changing.  

The question I'm afraid of -- what if he's is still the same?  What will I do then?  What will I do if I return home and find out he did not keep his word?  So much of my future, our future depends on this turning out right.

I don't like that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

If I Could Write a Letter to Me

I heard this song on the radio the other day.  (warning it may have a triggery line in the beginning.)

It hit me, as I was listening to the words how I wish I could have had a letter to read (over and over and over) during some of my hard, lonely days.  I'd wish it was from me too.  After all, who knows me better?

Here's some of the things I would write:

Dear Younger Me,

Right now you are at the beginning of what should be an exciting journey into adulthood, marriage and children. You probably don't want to hear what I have planned to say.  One day, you'll need this letter and these words of hope.  Hang on to this and remember hind sight is always 20-20.  When you are young you think you can conquer everything, or that your love will.  It will be hard to hear warnings and cautions that your young self would rather ignore.   I don't want to burst your bubble of excitement as all the hopes and dreams of childhood begin to be your reality.  Still, one day you will be sitting where I am today, wishing like anything that someone would have taken the time to be real with you and tell it like it really is.

As you read this, picture the older you sitting beside you hugging you, reminding you -- You can do hard things!

1.  Marriage is not going to be what you see in movies, read in books or heard about in YW classes.   Sure there will be fun days, good days, but a lot of them are going to hurt and be very, very hard.  There will be a few wake up calls, reality checks, and moments you wished like anything people had been more upfront with you growing up.

2.  Sex, no lie, it will be great -- but it will also suck.  Your husband will be a jerk sometimes.  Sometimes it will be all about him.  It will be confusing and take some time to figure out.  Be patient.

3.  At some point you are going to discover secrets and lies that will cause you to wish you could just disappear -- literally.  Life and marriage will seem hopeless.  You'll wonder if anything at all was ever real.  You'll get through it, after a lot of tears and days curled up in a ball on the floor of your closet.

4. Your children will be your greatest allies during these rough days. Don't ever ignore them or take them for granted.  They will hurt too because of this trial.

5.  Because of these horrible lies and secrets, church will be very difficult.  You will bear a invisible trial that will test your faith, and it will test your patience with priesthood leaders more than you will ever imagine.  In time you will come to see what matters and what doesn't.  You will learn to attend your meetings because you deserve to be there.  Sitting alone will give you time to ponder and pray uninterrupted. Those hours alone will become a time of peace in spite of the loneliness.

6.  After years of loneliness and heartbreak you will finally be ready to hold the truth and fight your way though the damage that occurred while you were just trying to live your life.  About this time you will be drawn into a very special association of women that will help you sort out the lies from the truth.  They will help you find the strength to set boundaries and stick up for yourself and slowly walk your way out of the chaos.

7.  In the middle of healing and recovery, you'll have to bear one more huge test.  The final act has not yet played out.  In the mean time, I've compiled a list of thoughts and quotes to lean on when your spirit is worn thin.

* 'Rely upon him who is mighty to save.  Hold on to the assurance that God has promised to answer your prayers, to give you rest, and to keep you safe, even in the midst of your most severe turmoil.  He will bring healing consolation to your soul.'

*In the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "I promise you He is not going to turn his back on us now.  When He says to the poor in spirit, 'Come unto me,' He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up.  He knows it because He has walked it.  He knows the way because He is the way. He is saying to you...'Trust me, learn of me, do what I do.  Then, when you walk where I am going, we can talk about where you are going and the problems you face and the troubles you have.  If you follow me, I will lead you out of darkness.'  I will give you answers to your prayers.  I will give you rest to your souls.;"

* 'Remember the adversary uses despair to bind your heart and mind in suffocating darkness' -- fight him -- hard!

*For every affliction..the Savior has a remedy of superior healing power.'  

* Be thankful.  Gratitude can be a healing balm.

*'Heavenly Father does not want us to minimize our reactions to life. He asks that we accept what He gives us and the take to Him our feelings and the truth about our lives whatever they may be.  If we can go to Him with absolute openness and say, "This is what is happening to me right now and this is what I feel', then He can use that openness as a conduit to teach us how to heal,  how to repent, and forgive and love.'

*Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."

In your wildest dreams you cannot imagine the you then from the you now.  Trust me when I say,  in the dark days ahead, when you feel alone, you won't be able to do it on your own, but you will be able to do it with God.  Only then, will you will like what you see and be grateful for who you've become.


The Older You

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Today's Random Thoughts

I'm preparing for my weekly Healing Through Christ meeting.  I've had a rough couple of days so I'm really looking forward to today.  I'm praying we'll be well attended.

While I'm waiting for the meeting to start and some inspiration to come to me.  I've had a few random thoughts and experiences as I've gone through my day.  I'll share what I have so far -- and then I'll be back to finish this post.

First:  Time Out For Women

Next week I'm praying to be able to attend our local TOFW.  I've been on the publicity committee for the past several months.  I'll have assignments to fulfill, however, the weather on the home front (read H and little D) has been very stormy.  I'm afraid to leave.

Today this came in my inbox from my pub team.  Reminding me that its getting close.  I've been a fan  of Hilary Weeks for years.  She speaks the words of my heart.  Today it was fitting that they linked this video in the email.  I needed both her tender spirit and the beautiful words of her first song.  I hope you'll be touched by it.

Second:  A beautiful picture

This picture is called "The Comforter"  I picked it up this past weekend on a flash trip to Nauvoo.  I've been avoiding that place for years because of all the triggers there.  I had the littles with me the past 8 days and needed to get away.  I headed north.  When we figured we were on path for Nauvoo and doing ok -- we forged ahead.  We got there late, with no time to do anything but circle the small little town and remind ourselves why we love it so there.  The spirit is so strong.  Even riding down the street in the car with littles hollering in the back for 'waa-dur' or 'nack'.  

I was able to get into the Fudge Shoppe for a few minutes, where I snagged this photo.  It spoke to me.  Both the title and the image of the Savior with his hand on the shoulder of a woman.  In a flash of a moment I wanted to purchase hundreds of them to mail to all my WoPA sisters as a reminder of how close the Savior is to them each day.  

Third:  Step 2: "Come to believe that the power of God can restore us to spiritual and emotional health"

I will be beginning step 2 for, I don't know, maybe this is my 10th or 12th or more time.  I just love this step.  (I love them all, but this one is so necessary in the healing process.)  I greatly need this reminder today.  I'll go into more detail why when I return.  

Watch the video.  And watch a few more of hers too like this one ( say love )  I promise -- it will make your heart sing.