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.
Jeffrey R. Holland, in this BYU sppech, The Will of the Father in All Things, has really helped me to understand what it means to submit to the Lord’s will–to willingly say “thy will be done.” My will (also know as my thoughts, feelings and desires) is this pain I carry, this broken heart, this sadness, this broken-ness, this bitterness, this pride–these are my feelings and I have every right to carry them as long as I want. I have been wounded, I have been crushed, I am entitled to feel this way, it is part of who I am right now–it’s my will. But God will never force us to anything we simply don’t want to do. Well I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I really do want to give it all to God but I simply didn’t know what that looked like. Until I read this:
….Education, or public service, or social responsibility, or professional accomplishment of any kind is in vain if we cannot, in those crucial moments of pivotal personal history, submit ourselves to God even when all our hopes and fears may tempt us otherwise. We must be willing to place all that we have…..our ambition and pride and stubbornness and vanity—we must place it all on the altar’ of God, kneel there in silent submission, and willingly walk away.
I get it now. I know what I need to do. And for weeks I have been doing this very thing. I have been reading Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and he talks about visualizing (Habit #2–Begin With the End in Mind). So that’s what I have been doing every day for weeks. Here’s the visual:
I visualize myself walking into a room, nobody else is in the room, this isn’t about my husband, it’s about me only. I walk over to an altar and on that altar I lay down all my negative feelings, my sadness, my crushed dreams, my pain, in other words, my will to hold onto those things. I kneel down, I say a prayer something like “I don’t know how you’re going to take this all away. I don’t know how you’re going to make this all better. It seems impossible to me, but I know you can.” And then I walk out of the room, quietly, without looking back. That’s it, that’s the exercise.
Then Elder Holland goes on to say:
I believe what I am describing here is the scriptural definition of a saint, one who will “yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit,” and “through the atonement of Christ . . . becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
Now I don’t believe for a second the Lord is inflicting any of this upon me, sin is never a good idea in his book, I am innocent, but I do believe the principle is the same. I need to submit to Him to be healed. And let me tell you, this realization, this exercise has meant everything to me. By far it is the best tool so far in my healing. I think about it everyday, I visualize myself unloading my will on that altar everyday. And that’s how I’m finally able to apply the atonement. God’s ways are always better than my way. So I’m doing it his way.
I met with my Bishop a couple weeks ago. That’s the 3rd time I have met with him in 5 months. It went fine. It’s tough because he is a family friend. It’s tough because he is business man by day and an ecclesiastical leader by night. It’s tough because he is a brand new Bishop. (My hubby went to see him about the porn problem when the Bishop had just been called 3 weeks earlier.) It’s tough because he is so gosh darn nice and yet my Bishop’s decisions have caused me trauma. I tried to explain this to him. I actually used the word “traumatic” when describing how it felt to see my husband get his temple recommend back after just one month of not having one. One stinkin’ month. That was a blow. A traumatic blow.
I told him there are two sides to every story and that he didn’t completely know my side. That even though he sees M who is completely repentant and going through a great change, I am still suffering. M is out of the hole but I am in the dark hole, scratching to find my way out. I told him that M has abused me–has taken advantage of me sexually–a daughter of God, and I feel like he has gotten off scott-free. He has lied to every single Bishop and Stake President for 30 years about his sex addiction. Bold faced lied. But that’s no big deal because he is just so dang sorry and willing to change. And he really is! I do not doubt my hubby is sincere but shouldn’t someone have to prove they can live the commandments for a little while before entering the house of the Lord? Doesn’t a person have to pay a full tithe? Doesn’t a person have to give up beer and cigarettes for a least a few months? Doesn’t the engaged couple have to get married civilly if they get too frisky before their wedding date and then wait a year to go to the temple? WHY DOESN’T ANY OF THIS APPLY TO A MAN WHO LIED TO HIS WIFE FOR 20 YEARS ABOUT PORN, MASTURBATION, AND LUST?
He only lost his temple recommend for one month and that hurts. I told the Bishop I think M should have had to prove that he could live a worthy life for at least a few months before he would be allowed to go to the temple. I think I gave him something to think about, and yet, he did stand his ground and felt strongly that giving M his temple recommend back a few months ago was a good thing. M was changing, was repentant, and that was good enough for him. I said, “fine but it is still traumatic to realize that worthiness doesn’t really matter”.
I have gone to the temple several times with my hubby in the last few months. And I am really okay with him being there with me because this is not my problem–if the Bishop feels my man is ready, that’s on his conscience not mine. But I will always be scratching my head over this one.
I have been in that dark place the last few days. I finally came out of it yesterday. When I am in the dark place I feel all over again, how can this be my life? I never did anything wrong. I feel nothing but sadness when he is away and sometimes anger when he is near. When I am in that dark place I feel like he needs to be punished but know that will never happen. When I am in the dark place I don’t exercise, don’t eat right, sleep a lot and lay around watching TV and spend loads of time feeling very sorry for myself. The house is usually messy too. Who cares about a messy house when your heart is broken? But last night I started to come out of it. I don’t even know why. I just kinda get tired of that dark place and want to leave it. So I’m out of it today but for who knows how long, I just don’t know.
One thing that contributes to that dark place is knowing that the Savior hasn’t healed me yet. I used to think the atonement was a gift in that it was something handed to me, no effort required on my part. Now I realize that is not the case. I suffer daily and really want that suffering to end. I pray, I plead, I beg. I have small teaching moments that come from the Spirit but is this as good as healing will get? Isn’t there more I am missing out on? Shouldn’t the Atonement take away all my suffering due to my husband’s choices? Is that even possible? I want it so badly. The last four months have taught me that that dark place is always there, always waiting for my visit. But I have faith that those dark days will end eventually. I have to.