I actually told someone just 2 months after D-day “I am beginning to feel happiness again.” And I had it planned out one Friday night to tell my husband that I had forgiven him! (Thankfully I didn’t.) That was shock, not happiness and forgiveness.
I believe now shock was a gift from God. Spencer W. Kimball taught that God “will not ask us to bear more than we can bear nor thrust upon us that for which we are not yet ready“. Once I was ready to absorb the enormity of my husband’s choices the shock went away. In some ways this trial has gotten worse, the gravity and enormity of it has sunk in slowly as I have been given more tools to handle the problem. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I was not ready those first few months, but slowly with added tools and knowledge I became ready.
Had shock not been present I would have kicked out my husband, hands down. In some ways I wish I had, at least for a few weeks but I didn’t want to scare the kiddos so I let him stay.
Had shock not been present I would have called my husband worse things than ‘you lying bastard’.
Had shock not been present I would have taken a baseball bat to his car or to him. (Shock was a gift to my husband as well, ha ha!)
Had shock not been present I think I would have run away.
Had shock not been present I think I would have followed through with the revengeful thoughts I had–betraying him because he betrayed me.
But luckily, or rather blessedly, God shut my body and brain down. I laid on the couch all day watching TV, reading novels, eating bad food, and no exercise for months. I was able to function in my busy calling and even show kindness towards my husband. When the shock ebbed and anger and confusion took over, that’s when I was ready to ask for help, get counseling and begin my education on addiction and what I would personally need to heal. God is indeed merciful.
It’s been a whole year now. A year since my amazing life was shattered like a vase dropped on concrete. The shards of glass went everywhere; some pieces may be gone forever and I am not sure yet if the vase will ever be like new again.
My husband knows better to approach me with a celebratory smile and say “I have a year of sobriety!” He did that at month 10 and it ruined my day and led to a fight. I told him that would be like me coming home and saying “I haven’t robbed a bank in year!” He would rightfully look at me and say, “You shouldn’t have been robbing them in the first place. This is no celebration, it’s a time for quiet reflection.”
So on the eve of my husband’s year of sobriety, here’s what I am “celebrating”.
1. It’s been a whole year of tears. Tears on my bathroom floor, tears in the shower where I can wail and my children won’t hear me, tears on my pillow, tears on my knees, tears of anger towards my husband’s lies. Tears at church, tears at the temple, tears as I told my parents, tears as I yelled at my Bishop for letting my husband off Scot-free.
2. It’s been a whole year of waking up and remembering, “Oh yea, this is my life now.”
3. It’s been a whole year of education and learning a whole new vocabulary to words like boundaries, triggers, betrayal trauma, etc.
4. It’s been a whole year of going to church and trying not to cry at all the lessons on sin, priesthood, and forever families.
5. It’s been a year on my knees pleading and begging God to please heal my heart now and wondering why healing is so very slow from one who is perfect and omniscient and omnipresent.
6. It’s been a year of making up excuses for the kids as to why dad is gone so much every Tuesday and Wednesday night now.
7. It’s been a year of mourning the loss of my marriage. The marriage I thought I had for 19 years has been replaced by a broken one.
8. It’s been a year of mistrusting my best friend.
9. It’s been a year of praying for the gift of discernment, telling God that obviously my liar meter is broken so I need discernment, I need a spiritual gift, if I am going to stay in this marriage.
10. It’s been a year of avoiding most friends and acquaintances and slowly deciding to confide in a few.
11. Its’ been a year of crying with my new friends, my fellow sisters whose hearts have been broken as well. The “sobbings of their hearts ascending up to God against (their husbands.)….hearts dead, pierced with deep wounds.” (Jacob 2:35)
12. It’s been a year of looking in the mirror and saying “I’m still standing, I am strong.”
13. It’s been a year of realizing that true peace comes from trust in God and in his timing and knowing that my future is bright, no matter my husband’s choices.
14. It’s been a year of counting my big and little blessings. From realizing I have amazing supportive parents and siblings to thanking God for a jacaranda tree in all its glorious purple blooms.
14. It’s been a year of realizing that as humans we can sure mess up our lives and the lives of innocent and knowing that Jesus Christ is our only hope. Only he can fix the messes we make.
I have decided that I simply don’t understand addiction and I never will. I do not understand the desire/need/urge to do something compulsively, day after day, year after year, for one’s entire life.
In my “regular” brain, addiction seems so foreign because who wants to eat cereal for breakfast every day, year after year? Sure you can vary between Cheerios and Cornflakes, but I can’t imagine the compulsive need to eat cereal everyday. Give me scrambled eggs! Give me pancakes! Who compulsively wants cereal everyday? I’m sure this is a totally flawed analogy thus proving I just don’t understand addiction.
More specifically, here’s what I don’t get:
1) I don’t understand the need to look at naked people, or to imagine people naked. I really don’t think there is anything that beautiful about a naked person. Now a woman with a crisp button down shirt, a cashmere sweater and colorful scarf, leather boots and a handbag? That’s beautiful! A man with a finely tailored Italian wool suit? Handsome! Everyone looks better with clothes. Everyone!
2) I don’t understand the fetish with breasts. A friend of mine caught her husband ogling another woman’s chest. She would say to him, “You know they’re just milk producing mammary glands. Half the population has them.” Bingo! I mean I don’t have a fetish looking at a man’s butt or crotch. Or elbows. Or knee caps. (My friend is now divorced by the way.)
3) I don’t understand the need to masturbate. In fact, I had no idea porn and masturbation were linked together until a few months ago. Yea, I know, how did I not know that. Naive! I’m 40 years old for crying out loud! In my defense, nobody talks about it. (My hubby sure never mentioned it!) I never heard it mentioned at church as a teen, I was never asked by a Bishop if I do it, I don’t talk about it with friends when we’re at the park pushing our kids on the swings. Why would anyone do that? I’ve heard all the jokes about it on sitcoms but they always refer to masturbation as something you do when you don’t have a significant other to be sexual with. Not that it is ever okay, but I never thought married men (or women if I am being fair) do such a thing. I told my husband when he finally started confessing his double life to me that I would rather chew glass than touch myself sexually. I can’t even give myself a foot rub or a shoulder rub–it just doesn’t work, I would be doing all the work, I wouldn’t enjoy it. I simply don’t get masturbation. I never have, I never will. I can’t even type about it anymore. Foreign!
I don’t think my failure to understand addictive behaviors affects my ability to be a supportive spouse. At least my husband hasn’t said so and we communicate about everything these days. I love his guts and even though I didn’t ask for this problem, I am sticking it out, helping him, as best as I know how, through this very enigmatic addiction.