Monday, December 29, 2014
Despite being in the "happiest place on Earth," I did have a full meltdown on our third night there. It was a doozy and I feel kind of ashamed that it went so far. (We're talking a rolling around on the ground, screaming, crying, begging for death kind of relapse.) What triggered it? It is surprising to me how sensitive I have become to being in public amidst other beautiful women...women that far surpass me in beauty. Let's face it, Southern California is full of them. For four days I was walking around a theme park filled with skinny, busty, beautiful young moms with no hair out of place, no fat on their hips and perfect nails and makeup. It was torture for me! I came home each night with thoughts like these: "It's no wonder my husband had an affair or two. He is married to such an unattractive person. It's only a matter of time before he realizes it and starts searching for a younger, skinnier, prettier model." Or, "I wonder if his affair partners looked like these women? Why on earth would he want to stay with me when he has already proven to himself that he can attract much better looking women?" Friends, it was torturous. I won't mention the other thoughts that popped into my head but those weren't pleasant either.
So, it all came to a gruesome, painful embarrassing head on our third night. Jason got angry with me, I got angry with me but I just couldn't pull myself from the pain. Good heavens, will this pain ever go away? After a few hours of tense words, we both calmed down and apologized and then restlessly slept. Thankfully, I didn't have another "episode" for the rest of the trip but I had to really watch myself. There was a show on our cruise that had some dancers with very revealing costumes. I forced myself to look away and think of something else. I hope Jason did the same. I tried not to "people watch." (a pasttime that I have always enjoyed but I have found lately to not be able to do without having bad, bad thoughts.)
I did have a revelatory experience while on the ship. We were in a room filled with people and I was feeling small and inadequate. The thought came to me very clearly, "If you were in this same room full of people and you could strip away these mortal bodies to simply reveal everyone's spirit, the entire room would look to you and marvel at the beauty that is your spirit. You would stand out as the most beautiful in the room." I am not sure if this was the Lord talking to me or just me trying to make myself feel better but it worked. I carried that image around with me for the remainder of the trip. I think that is true of all of us that are facing immense challenges with faith and testimony. We are powerful, beautiful souls that are to be admired for what we are enduring and for our grace, courage and strength.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I wanted to share this because it touched me so and I don't know who else to share it with but with you good folks...people that "know." My husband had this poem waiting for me at the office when I got in this morning. He wrote it for me to remind me that I am his "Hero." Yeah, many tears may or may not have been shed. :) Anyway, here it is:
My choices led to danger
As I was so far off the trail.
One small step to either side
And I would have found myself in hell.
I let myself get pulled in,
My defenses I left down,
Till the mire I was standing in
got so deep, I almost drowned.
I saw my happiness slipping away,
And thought my bondage was complete
As I gave in to my selfishness
And prepared for my defeat.
And at the moment of my total loss,
when I had no right for hope,
That's when you stepped up to the mire
And tossed me out a rope.
A rope you didn't have to throw,
you could have easily turned away,
and left me there to fend for myself,
with my own beast to slay.
Nobody would have judged you,
Not one soul would have questioned why,
if you had simply turned your back
and said a blunt goodbye.
But that was not your impulse,
when you came across this liar.
Instead you dug your heals in,
And you pulled me from the mire.
I don't think you understand
the gift you gave that day.
And now my drowning's turned to healing
Thanks to the price you chose to pay.
You will forever be my hero,
you have chosen to pay the toll
that rescued me from filth
and begun the saving of my soul.
And now the work is mine to do
and the road ahead is still unknown
but I am so grateful you are by my side
And I'm not traveling it alone.
I was so touched by this today. I instantly thought of you ladies here and what heroes you each are..no matter what your circumstance. With the Savior's help, you are standing fast in your testimonies, you are strong and determined...even when things seem hard. You have all helped me so much in my healing and you are all my heroes!
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
As I have posted before, November of 2013 was when the longest of my husband's affairs began...the one that sent him over the top and finally forced a full disclosure. I have tread very lightly this month, trying to do things very differently than last. I still felt those triggery thoughts from time to time as the air got cold, the mornings and afternoons turned dark and Thanksgiving approached. Those simple things sent my heart back to last year's pains and hurts and suspicions.
But, I SURVIVED! Yes, the tears came a little more readily, the conversations were a little more painful and heated, and the bad memories a little more easy to recall this month. I knew that would be the case and so did my husband.
For Thanksgiving we decided to not celebrate as we usually do (and as we did last year) and we abandoned all family and traditions and left for the beach. We live about an hour from the coast and so we rented a house there for just our family. My in-laws were surprised (we always spend the holidays together) but understanding. I truly believe that this decision was inspired. We had an amazing time just "getting out of Dodge." We leisurely made dinner and ate when we felt like it. We walked the beach (through a rain storm), and we did a 1000 piece puzzle that took us 3 whole days to complete. We got fudge at the local fudge shop and shopped for ornaments at the Christmas store. All the while, I was rejoicing in the "newness" of it! I had very few triggers over the Thanksgiving weekend and it was like balm to my soul.
So, now I am facing December..the month when the affair was in overdrive. (And a second one occurred in the middle of the first.) If you haven't read my husband's story, here is what was going on last year at this time. My addiction journey part 7 In order for us to face it and not be driven mad by the memories, we are once again getting away. We are not putting up a tree, we are not sending out cards, we are not baking any holiday goodies. We are not giving many gifts or attending many Christmas concerts. I know we sound like a bunch of Scrooges but this year, we had to mix it up. Instead, we are leaving in two weeks to take our family to Disneyland and then on a four night cruise to Mexico. Crazy huh? The money we would have spent on "things" is being spent on memories that will hopefully replace last year's memories of despair and addiction.
We are focusing on the Atonement this year...and rightly so as we have never felt its' power more than we have in 2014. Once we get back from our trip, we will hit our one year anniversary of D-day and from then on, we can officially say that all of this garbage happened "over a year ago." That just sounds so nice doesn't it? By the end of January we hope to reconvene a church court and hopefully have a re-baptism. Good things are happening here, despite the pain that we have felt and still feel. So, we are celebrating Christ's birth in a different way...and that's okay. We feel like He has been leading and guiding our every footstep this year and that this trip was an answer to a very heavy prayer.
With His help, I know we will make it through 2014 with all of it's revelations, surprises, hurts and anniversaries. And to tell you the truth, the year hasn't been all bad. We have learned so much and grown so much and had some beautiful moments together as a family. Will I be glad to see 2014 slip into history? YES! I will rejoice on New Year's Eve like I have never rejoiced before! Here's to new beginnings, new friends, new understanding, new memories and a new year!
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014
Since my husband's disclosure I have felt the immense weight of so many burdens being hoisted onto my back. I have carried those around for almost ten months now, hoping to shed a few as time goes on. One of the burdens that I carry is the guilt of knowing that I am stretched so thin mentally, physically and emotionally that I am not giving my best efforts to those that are the most important in my life...myself, my husband, my children. I have had to redouble my efforts to be a good mom and wife, despite my gloom and despair. The one member of our family that I have not been able to make time for is our dog. She is a great dog who we love but who has become terribly neglected in the last ten months. (She is still healthy and fit, she just doesn't get the time and love that she used to.) I carry that burden of guilt around with me every time I come home from work to see her lonely face.
My brother in law and sister in law breed these dogs and they sold her to us seven years ago. When my mother in law disclosed our situation to them (without our permission and against our wishes) they told her that if we ever needed help with the dog, to just call. Well, the time had finally come for me to call on them for help. I needed them to take her for a while or perhaps even help us find a new family for her that could give her the time she deserves. I was hoping that with the knowledge that they had been given of our situation, they would be compassionate and race in to help.
Instead, in a phone call last night, we got yelled at and abused. We were called "children" for not being able to handle the responsibility of having a dog. We were told in not so nice terms that we were terrible dog owners (even though we have shown this dog great care for six of the seven years) and that they would never have given this dog to us in the first place if they had known what horrible owners we were going to be. My sister in law has never liked my husband and, just like we feared, she saw his mistakes as license to punish and judge. Oh, how I wish my mother in law had kept her mouth shut.
Anyway, while I listened to the screaming match over the phone, I started to wail. That now all too familiar weariness began to set in and the burdens that I was carrying got even heavier. I felt betrayed. I came to my family for some help, remembering that they had professed to promise aide whenever we needed it, and instead was made to feel like I was less important than a dog. I am so tired of the people that I love making me feel that way.
Why do family members do that? Why is this kind of disclosure a license to look down upon or belittle? Why do family members suddenly feel like it would be too awkward to reach out and help so instead, they stay silent? This trial is so incredibly lonely. I feel like it's my husband and me against the world and I really can't count on too many other people...at least not the ones I am related to.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
I was about to lose everything that was important to me in the world. I went through a quick inventory in my mind of all that was about to be lost: my wife, my kids,my calling, my membership, and probably my business.
But then my deceptive side kicked in. "Wait," I told myself..."maybe you can lie your way out of it. Don't panic yet." So I called her back and she didn't answer. I called again and there was still no answer. Over and over again I called and the phone just kept ringing so I just sat in my car, waiting, panicking, calculating my loss and trying to figure out how to share everything that needed to be said. I was convinced that even if I could find a way out of this mess, I was about to become a very lonely and hated man. After waiting for a time, the phone finally rang and I picked up.
“Victoria?” I said. “ What is going on .. whats wrong?”
“Jason?” she answered, “are you having an affair?" She screamed it through tears…
" Why are you even asking this?” I asked.
“Jason, I found something in your office.“
I froze. I thought I had been so careful and cautious. But had I? The truth is, I had become so confident over 17 years of lies to her that I simply felt I was invincible and so I had gotten careless. Satan has a way of filling you with a false sense of confidence. It's almost a belief that he will keep you from getting caught. But my wife had already noticed the hours I spent on the computer, the texting on my phone, even right in front of her and the family. She saw receipts for purchases and excuses that just didn't pan out. But she never pushed the issue. She never confronted me even with my obvious lack of covering up.
“I found a note on a piece of paper talking about gift ideas for someone named Alice.”
I obviously had been careless. I had left something out. I remember thinking, "this is it. This must be what it feels like to get caught. This must be the fear and panic I was expecting to feel when this finally happened." And then, my well rehearsed, well practiced lying mind kicked into gear. I told her that what she found wasn't what she thought.
“What is it then?" she asked in a voice strained with agony.
“I have a client,” I lied. “He shared with me some things about his courtship for a job I am doing for him. He wanted me to weave some of the details from their dating life into the project I am doing for him.“ Knowing the kind of work that we do, that sounded believable and maybe she would buy it.
“Really?” She asked, “There is no Alice?”
“No, of course not,” I continued to lie. I was lying so effortlessly. It just rolled off my tongue as if it was a prepared story waiting to be told if this exact occasion should arise. Except it was not prepared. It was concocted by a mind that had become so accustomed to half truth and cover up that it simply slid out of my mouth and into her ears.
She was immediately relieved, but of course she was. The nightmare she had been worried about for the last 2 months had just been delayed. Her hope in me had been restored and her life was not about to be turned upside down. If only that were the case.
She began to apologize to me for jumping to conclusions, apologizing for accusing me of such a thing, for losing faith in me. My shame was full. The idea of leaping from that run away train floated through my thoughts again. I told her that it wasn't her fault and that she had no reason to apologize. I told her to meet me for lunch at the mall and that we needed to spend some time together.
But I knew how. She was so eager to believe that I would never do such a thing to her that she was willing to overlook the weak story I had presented….. for now. As I drove home I was filled with more fear and panic than ever before. I vowed to myself that everything would have to stop now.
No more emailing.
No more visits.
No more Pornography.
No more Lying and deception.
It all had to stop. I was changing everything starting now.
I met her for lunch and we chatted and held hands and I told her how much I loved her. At that moment I realized that this quite possibly could be the last lunch I ever have with my wife.
That night was the beginning of the real guilt and hollowness. It grew continually. I felt that this was all going to have to come out… but maybe not. Perhaps there was a way that I could keep it hidden. I had already vowed to never tell. I already committed to take it to my grave. If I could just get out of this jam and never tell then I could keep my wife and my kids.
The next day I tried to tie up any and all loose ends with Alice. I told her I would stop by Thursday morning while she was taking the kids to school and leave her key and she would never see me again.
As I drove home from work that night, I got an email on my private account. It was from the woman I had started emailing the prior week, Kim. In my last email to her I sent another photo of me. Her email simply said, "I have some bad news. I do recognize you. I'm sorry, I cant do this any more. Kim."
I began to panic again. How could she recognize me? I quickly jumped on facebook and plugged in her email and to my horror, there she was, standing with her arm around the 11 year old scout leader from our stake. She and her husband were not just members of the church, they attended the same building as we did. They were active weekly attending members! For some reason she felt the need to explore outside of her marriage. Maybe it was just to chat or maybe it was for more but it didn't matter. My web of lust had been cast far enough to entangle another member of the church. My lust driven desire had allowed me to drop my guard and ultimately led me to be discovered.
I began to feel the walls caving in on me. I had no idea if there was a way out of this but I shifted into auto pilot and my mind of deception and lies began working over time This email came while on my drive home so I pulled into the driveway, shared a quick and nervous hello to my family and said, "I really need to use the bathroom. I'll be in there for a bit and don't bother waiting for me to eat dinner." Then I disappeared and locked the door.
I feverishly began concocting an email that told a story of a scorned person that had high jacked "Jason Arnold's" Facebook pictures in an effort to get revenge. Then I signed it, and deleted the account.
I did not feel confident that I had done a very good job with the email or that it was believable at all and I began to feel that if she chose to go to her bishop I could be exposed and left with nothing. By tomorrow, all would be out and I would be hung up as the dog I knew I was. My shame, guilt, and now fear were in overdrive. I felt it was inevitable. My world was spinning out of control and my ability to manage it was too.
That evening Victoria asked me if I wanted to go on a walk. I agreed and we left. She was hurting and I was in my own little world. I felt that at any moment all could come crashing down.
I was hollow at this moment as guilt, shame, and fear were coursing through my veins. I thought this may be the moment that I confess but I quickly had second thoughts. So instead I said, "Victoria, I can't right now. I feel empty and disoriented. I don't feel I have it in me to do that right now." I can't remember what my excuse was but I do know it made her panic. For the first time in our marriage I was denying her a blessing.
She knew I was under some extreme stress or that something was wrong in my life but she left it there. I was so anxious and so worried. Again I had the thought… this could be my very last walk with my sweet Victoria. I wanted to put her mind at ease and so I said, "please… just give me a couple weeks. All I need is a couple of weeks to be back to normal." I thought that with just a little bit of time and without any interference I would be fine. I would at least be able to perform my part the way I had before. We finished our walk and had a quiet evening.
The following morning, I got up early and told Victoria I was going to drop the kids at the middle school and then go to the pool for a swim. I dropped off the kids and then went to the pool. I sat in my car. You see this was to be the morning that I returned the key to Alice. I had to wait until 830 before I could head over to ensure that she wouldn't be there when I showed up so I had a few more minutes to wait.
As I sat there in my truck waiting at the pool, I decided to take the time to start deleting my account that Alice used to contact me. I was still struggling with the emotions of the last couple days and still concerned that I might be outed. I sat there looking at my phone when my wife pulled up next to my car and got out. She opened my door and sat in my truck and then asked, “Jason, are you OK? Aren't you going to swim?”
I am sure I lied about why I didn't swim that day. But I felt so empty.. so on edge.. so certain that it was all about to be discovered that I told her that I just didn't feel like swimming. In honesty, I felt like every moment with her was going to be the last so when she asked me if I wanted to stay home that day I said, "Yes… I would like that." I think that was the moment that I knew today would be the day. I was filled with a weird combination of both fear and relief. I don't know who suggested it, but we decided to go on a bike ride.
We loaded our bikes and headed to the park where we liked to ride. As we pulled into the park to unload the bikes from the truck, my phone rang. It was one of the high council men from the stake. He asked if he could stop by and see me today.I put on my Stake presidency hat and said “Whats it about? Is it something we can talk about on the phone?" He said, "I would really rather talk to you in person." I said "maybe later today?" I could think of no reason we would need to chat in person.
I hung up and the uneasiness of my inevitable exposure became crippling inside. Why did he want to chat in person? He is on the high council and he knows the family of the woman I met online from the other ward. In fact he is in the same ward as her father. Did he know? I felt that one way or another, this was going to come out today.
We went on our bike ride. Still in total panic, I rode in silence… and way ahead of my wife. All the while I was thinking of how I would continue my lies. Could I possibly cover it up? Could I play off of the fact that I made some people upset at me as a bishop? Could I convince them that I was an innocent person in the middle of it all? As the tires turned against the pavement the lies kept churning in my mind.
We rode 4 miles without a word to each other and reached our destination. I was still in no mood to talk. I was so fragile right now. I was certain that I wouldn't be able to mask my shame and worry.
After a very short break, We turned around and began the return trip. The way back was a different experience. I knew that when we returned to my truck we would have to talk. I did not want to talk. Talking would betray me now. I could not possibly cover up the mountain of lies that might be exposed and so, my thought process started to change on the ride back. Instead of lies, I began to consider truths.
The truth was, that this was coming apart and my ability to hide things was becoming impossible. The truth was, I hated myself and everything I had been doing and wanted out of this darkness and deceit for good. The truth was, I had wanted to confess for so many years and could not find the courage. The truth was that I was so tired of lying… about everything.
So as we approached the end of the ride and I looked back to see Victoria behind me, I decided to call out to her, breaking my self imposed silence. “ You doing okay?” I called out. I could see the pain on her face and I knew. I knew she was not doing okay.
In response to my question she looked at me and said, "Jason...Do you promise there is no Alice?”
My response was knee jerk and instinctual. My lying mind began to spin a tale as I said… “um.. Victoria… Its not what you think.” But in truth, it was exactly what she thought and suspected.
We were getting closer to the truck and I could see she was starting to cry. I could see she was breaking down. I just needed to get her into the truck. This wasn't supposed to happen on a bike path in a park. We needed to be in the truck.
Then She asked me point blank, “Jason are you having an affair?”
As I loaded the bikes, she began breaking down.
"Jason, are you about to tell me the worst news in my life? Jason just tell me now, are you going to destroy my life?" she wailed.
I finished loading the bikes and we got into the truck and sat there a moment. Finally, she said, “Jason, tell me… Who is Alice?”
And then, I lost complete control. It all started flowing out of my mouth….. word after word of my deceit, betrayal and addiction. It continued to expel from my mouth like the bile that it was to her ears. It filled the front seat of the truck and entered into the emotionally fragile and tortured woman next to me.
I spoke of the years of pornography addiction and the inability to get free, the path it had led me down, the darkness I had been surrounded by, the performance I had played in living a double life, and finally, I told her of the 2 month long affair.
Next came a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life. She began a slow, long, painful, life ending wail that carried on and on. It was far too much for her too take. I let her cry in agony for several minutes and then came her first words. ”No No No No No No No No!” With head in her hands she began rocking back and forth in the front seat. All I could do was sit there in silence, watching her cry while my own tears streamed down my cheeks.
I can't remember the last time I truly cried before this. It may have been years… perhaps decades. But this day, as I sat there watching her heart shatter and scatter into a million fractured pieces, I wept. In that moment I felt her incredible pain and I saw the enormous weight of truth that began to weigh her down deeper and deeper into her seat as she collapsed without strength against the dashboard, her face streaked with tears. Unable to verbalize the hurt and betrayal, I sat in silence as I listened to the aching guttural sounds of one who has just received the most incredibly hurtful news of her life. The ache of her voice became a distant sound as I found myself sinking into my own guilt, shame and despair. I silently slumped into my seat as she poured her heart out in agony, and I, unable to bear her pain, discovered myself escaping into my own empty, worthless hole. It was all over. I had destroyed the heart and trust of the woman I loved most in this world. I had stripped her clean of all self worth and left her naked to suffer the most unimaginable and destructive news she could ever have expected to hear.
I became lost in my thoughts. I was numb, contemplating how I let things get to this point. How did I become so self obsessed, so selfish, so blind to the pain my action would cause those closest to me? In that moment of self reflection and disgust, I realized I was feeling another emotion…. something I had not anticipated as I had practiced this scenario playing out in my mind.
The feeling I was experiencing was a sudden lifting of 25 Years of weight. Unexpectedly, I felt a burden of lies and deceit lift from me. My 25 year old secret had finally been exposed. Finally, after years of hating and self loathing and promising and swearing to stop, after years of filth and degrading images and actions, after convincing myself that I would never have the opportunity to take advantage of the Atonement because I would never confess, therefore it would never be available to me….. after all of that weight……. I suddenly realized that I was free! I was free of the grip of Satan, free of the non stop lies, free of the personal hate. I realized that I just did something I thought I would never do, and so I had a sudden feeling of gratitude and a spark of joy as I discovered that perhaps now I do have access to the Atonement after all.
As I was considering these thoughts and feeling the weight of my darkness and lies lifted and lighten just a bit, I was pulled back to reality as I physically saw the weight shift from me directly on to my weeping wife. That is when she began repeating over and over,, “I want to die… please just let me die….. Please… I can't do this…. It hurts too much…. Please let me die….”
My momentary joy was shattered in the cries of the one who I knew I could not live without. As Victoria began screaming her death cry, I understood the true reality of my situation. I may have begun the unexpected repentance process with my confession, but now I was about to witness the loss of everything I held dear. Now would be the moment when she asks me to leave. Now would be the time when she tells me she is taking the kids and heading to her parents' house. Now is the moment when everything in my world comes to an end.
I braced myself for the words that I had prepared myself to hear. I knew they were coming… and after all I had done… I deserved them. I was ready for her to hate me. I was ready for her to kick me out. I was ready for divorce. I was ready for my life to end. I was not ready to begin slipping back into my self made darkness. However, I knew very well that that is exactly where I would find myself if left to battle my disease alone. But these were the words I deserved and so I braced myself to hear her say that all was over and that I should leave.
I was not ready for what happened next. I poured out my apologies and told her in all sincerity how much I loved her and how I could not live without her. Knowing that the ball was completely in her court I simply said, "what do you want me to do? Do you want me to leave?"
Through her tears, through the hurt and pain, she simply said “No… Jason, I am so completely hurt and destroyed right now. I want to tell you so many things but here is what I know. I did not marry to get divorced. You don't get off that easy. We are going to work this out. We are going to fix this.”
I was caught completely off guard by her words. I was stunned. Shocked is a better way to say it. Everything was lost and suddenly I had been given a second chance. I always knew my wife was an angel. I always knew I had married someone far more spiritual than I. She is someone who tries to live her life in line with the Savior, but until now, I didn't understand her capacity to love and forgive. In that moment I felt rescued.
She said…” Jason, this hurts me. This is painful to me because I Love you. I love you. I hate what you have done but I am not going to throw away our 17 years together.”
I fell into place and said, “Victoria… I will do anything… whatever you think we should do… I will do it. I want to prove to you that I love you. I want to show you you can trust me.”
She then began laying out a list of her requests. First and chief among them, we had to go and see the stake president Immediately. And so we did. That was the most devastating day of our lives. However, we both felt the Lord step in and rescue us.
It has been 15 weeks now since that horrific day. I have been 100% clean in all aspects of my addiction. We are closer then we have been in 17 years of marriage. It is amazing what honesty can do.
In the past 15 weeks I have shared almost every aspect of my deviant and addicted lifestyle. We have begun attending Addiction recovery program meetings and we find ourselves talking about strategies for the future all the time. There have been many tough days. There have been several mornings where I have found her curled up in a ball on the floor as she has once again contemplated how this has happened to us. There have been thousands of questions and thousands of answers. Many have been very hard answers. I too have been incapacitated by the guilt and shame of my actions and selfishness.
But the Blessing of all of this have started to be made clear:
I know we have a long way to go and we are aware that we have upset the balance in Satan's plan to destroy our family. But we are so focused now.
I was excommunicated 2 weeks after my confession. I am hopeful that within a year I will be able to be baptized.
Jason has been so willing to answer every single question I have, even if it is for the 100th time. He holds me when I cry and tells me that he loves me. He prays with me and reads scriptures with me and bravely goes to all of his meetings, despite the embarrassment. I am proud of him. I am proud of myself. I have a lot of healing to do but I can do it with the Savior's help!
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
This summer has been both great and difficult. Despite the fun and excitement of vacations, bbqs, and endless sunshine, I was so happy to see August slip into September for a couple of reasons. First, it marks the homestretch. We are only four months away from hopefully getting permission to see my husband be rebaptized. Our Stake President seems to think it should all go smoothly and as scheduled as long as my husband stays clean. Second, October 1st marks the anniversary of my husband's three month relationship (one month of on line affair, two months of physical affair). I am strangely excited to get into those three months, not because I want to relive those feelings and triggers but because with the passage of october, november and december, I can finally say that the affair was "a year ago." Not days ago, not weeks ago but a year ago! That is huge for me. I am currently bracing myself for the onslaught of triggers that might come as the weather changes and we engage in traditions that we did last year while the affair was ongoing. I hope I can be strong enough to face it and win.
One area where I am not winning is in the forgiveness battle. When everything first came out, I told my husband within an hour of his confession that I could forgive him for this. Within one day I was writing a heartfelt letter to Alice (the affair partner) expressing my forgiveness and my desire to see her happy. When lost in the fog of D-day trauma, it just seemed like the right thing to do so that I could take the initial steps to move on. Now that I have almost reached the nine month mark, I realize that that "forgiveness" was not complete at all.
I have found myself doing two things. First, I LOATHE Alice. I have taken to calling her Public Enemy Number one and I am now seeing her almost daily as she takes her child to preschool in our neighborhood. She, more than anything else, represents the evil of this addiction and she is the one that has hurt me the most. Second, in my need to express my grief, I almost daily punish my husband with a laundry list of the sins that hurt me. In my tortured and crazed mind, I figure that if he is never allowed to forget the hurt he has caused and the damage that has been done, then he will never, ever be unfaithful again. How is that forgiving?
Because I have been unwilling to really and truly forgive (I am not even sure what complete forgiveness means or feels like), I have allowed my mind to find itself in the most hellish of places. The images of my husband and Alice having sex haunt my every waking moment. They send me to a place where I just want to escape the nightmare of my own brain..even if that escape means leaving this world. (don't worry, I am not suicidal...I just wonder if sometimes I might jump at the chance to spend some time in Heaven given the opportunity...wouldn't we all?) It almost feels like a mental illness. The worry, fear, anger, loathing and grief are suffocating, debilitating. (Those feelings seem to have escalated as the summer has ended and I have started seeing her more often)
This Sunday, my sweet husband pulled the Stake President aside as he was visiting our Ward and pleaded with him to give me a blessing. I was so grateful that he did. The blessing contained an endowment of "power" given to me to shake off the adversary, get control of my life and dispel the darkness that has been consuming my every waking moment. With that power I should be able to feel my Heavenly Father's love for me and His desire for me to be well and whole again. After the blessing, the Stake President sat with me for ten minutes as I sobbed about how hard this whole process was and how tired I was of fighting it. He reminded me that I needed to endure because the blessings at the end of this refining would be great. I told him that the only thing I wanted at the end of this was my eternal marriage restored. He smiled and simply said, "It is coming."
That blessing gave me some added peace. That peace allowed my Father in Heaven to remind me that in order to "endure it well, " I needed to forgive completely and that I had the power to do it. There can be no more half measures...no more holding on to the hurt. I know, it's easier said than done but for my own mental health and the health of my marriage, I have to do it.
Of course the now all too familiar questions still exist. "What if I am betrayed again?" "What if I allow myself to heal and forgive and that wound gets reopened?" "What if this addiction is stronger than the both of us?" "What if it comes back?" The truth is, those questions don't matter. I need to forgive for me...not for my husband, not for Alice, not for anyone but myself. If I get hurt again, so be it.
But what if I don't? What if my husband can hold on to this recovery? What if Christ really and truly can change a person's heart? What if this whole trial is just leading up to some wonderful blessing and a brand new life for the both of us? I have confidence that that is what the Lord wants for us. He doesn't want me to hurt. He doesn't want me to continually punish my husband by bringing up sins that are being repented of. He doesn't want me to have a meltdown every time I pass Alice in my car. Forgiveness is hard...especially when you have been hurt as badly as I have but it is necessary and healthy.
So, I will now plead daily with my Heavenly Father to help me forgive both my husband and Alice. I am going to write a real letter of forgiveness to Alice...with nine months of perspective this time. (I probably won't send it, but I need to write it) I am going to truly try to refrain from using my husband's "sin laundry list" to hurt him or make his pain equal mine. I am going to have faith that despite the hurt I have suffered, that total and complete forgiveness is really the best medicine of all. I know it will take time and I know it won't be instant...but I need it and I have been endowed with the power to do it!. Wish me luck!
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Dear 'Addi'....I fear my friends will desert me when I need them the most.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
So much chaos has resulted from this addiction. So much breaking. The breaking of our temple covenants. The breaking of my trust. The breaking of my self esteem. The breaking of associations with others as they now don't know how to interact with you. The breaking of the Laws of God. The breaking of my sanity as images and worries torture me day and night. The breaking of me, and ultimately, the breaking of my husband. We have both been utterly broken as a result of pornography, sexual addiction and adultery.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Hey friends! I just got another question from a good brother that is facing his church court in a few weeks. When I wrote him back, I decided that this might make a good "Dear Addi" post. It is in three parts. Hope this helps anyone out there going through the same process or the spouse that is watching her loved one go through the process.
Monday, August 25, 2014
It's been almost eight months. Eight months since my world fundamentally changed for better and for worse. We have been through so much in eight months....an excommunication, the loss of blessings, the gaining of other blessings that we hadn't anticipated, hours and hours of painful conversation, a re-routing of our life's path, a few separations (vacations apart due to work), happy reunions, tears and laughter. I knew going into this year that it was going to be an up and down one and I was right. I wake up each morning and wonder what I will be feeling.
I feel like I am at a decision point right now in my life. I CANNOT go back and change what has been done. I can't erase the lies. I can't erase the affairs. I can't somehow magically erase my husband's mind of the intimate encounters that were not with me. I wish I could erase my mind of those self created images but I seem to be unable to. I can't go back and do those 17 years over again without the secret addiction. Though I wish I could, I can't. So, where do I go from here?
I am tired folks! I am tired of waking up with images and thoughts that hurt me to the very core. I am tired of crying out to my Heavenly Father to just "take me Home." I am tired of hurting my husband with the same questions, hoping that somehow, this time, his answers will make me feel better. I am tired of wondering how, if he really did love me, he could do this to me. I am tired. I gave a talk yesterday in church and I used something that Job said. He said, "My soul is weary of my life." I feel that way. Though my body is healthy and strong, my spirit is tired and wounded. It is weary. Sometimes I feel like if I see one more raunchy billboard or hear one more vile swear word or see one more sex scene on TV, that my soul will shrivel up and die.
But, I can't leave. I can't go "home." I have a husband that is really working hard to make things up to our family and restore what's been lost. I have innocent children that didn't ask for any of this and deserve a happy, two parent home. In my good moments, I feel like I have a mission to perform still on this earth. Though returning to my heavenly home sounds so wonderful, I can't.
So, knowing that I have many, many more years here on this earth, can I really allow myself to feel this miserable for the rest of them? Why can't I just allow myself to heal and let go? I plead every day with the Lord to just remove the hurt. That is the only thing that I can change about the situation. I can't remove the acts and the memories but I can change how I feel about them. That is hard to do and quite frankly, I think I'm afraid to do it.
What if he betrays me again? What if he comes to me someday and tells me that he has never rid himself of this addiction but has just hid it from me better? What if, what if...what if? If the wound is still opened and bleeding, then another wound won't hurt so bad right? If my wounds are all healed and just scar tissue remains, to reopen those wounds with further betrayal will destroy me. So, why not leave the wounds open, just in case?
The problem with that way of thinking is that it makes me continuously miserable. It makes my children miserable because mom's not happy. It makes my husband miserable because he hurts when I hurt. None of us can truly heal unless I can. So I NEED to. I need to stop allowing my thoughts to run wild. I need to stop deliberately creating visions of my husband with his affair partners. I need to stop reliving the past and start looking to the future. I need to stop feeling inadequate when my husband and I are intimate. I need to stop trying to make myself something that I am not to try and "compete" with his affair partner. I need to continue to ask the Lord to help the pain lesson. I need to trust that even if this all happens again (which it probably won't), that the Lord will take care of me. I need to remember that the Lord wants my family to be eternal again just as much as I do. I need to trust that He is watching over us and is helping. There is so much I need to let go of.
I know....all of that is easier said than done. When you are sorting through a trauma that is the magnitude of the one that I have been given, it is hard. I find myself wanting to feel the pain of each and every act. I want the details of each and every act. I want his thoughts about each and every act. Though that may be normal, I am finding that it is not helpful. It just prolongs my pain. If I can't go back in time and change it, why obsess about it? I need to allow myself to feel better. I am tired of hurting. I am tired of the ache. So, here I sit...at eight months post DDay...finally deciding that it is time to heal. I know it is going to take time. I know that healing will not be automatic or painless but I need to start. I need to let those gaping wounds finally close. I need to stop the bleeding. I'll always have scars. I know that. But, thankfully, scars don't usually continue to hurt. I can live with scars.
If any of you women that are further along in this process than I am have any advice as to how to finally allow yourself to heal, please comment. I am not sure how to go about it, I just know that I need to! Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
We are now working on 8 months since "D" day. I have never been more focused on anything in my life. Being busy helps. Down time can be dangerous for an addict. It has also been 8 months of sobriety. That is something I am very proud of. In the past 8 months I have made my weekly sojourn to the Addiction recovery program provided by the LDS church. About an hour north of where we live, there is a class specifically geared to addicts of Pornography. So, once a week we drive an hour north and an hour back to be a part of a truly inspired program. Going to this class recharges me.
In our last visit to the stake president we were told that he sees no reason why we wouldn't be able to reconvene a council at exactly 1 year. For this I am grateful. I won't go into all the reasons for my gratitude, as I plan to write a post soon about life as an excommunicated member but, let me simply say.... the next 4 months can not pass quickly enough.
We have spent a lot of time talking about the passage of time. We often say time heals. We watch the clock wishing it would move faster. Sometimes we just want time to leap forward. We have been promised healing with the passage of time and we anxiously wait for it to finally arrive. Emotions and feelings are still raw. We are each fighting different battles. Mine for the longest time has been to fight the flashes of thought or memories or temptations. On this front I can say that time has helped them to greatly subside They have been replaced with flashes of guilt and shame and anger at myself. It is a different kind of pain and a different kind of guilt then before. It is a heavy hurting guilt. A guilt for what i have done to my wife. It is the guilt of my own betrayal.
Somehow I have managed to lock it down inside when it comes up. I prefer feeling nothing to feeling the shame from my past. I am fairly good at blocking out those shameful feelings but the question I have now is.... should I? My wife sometimes feels hurt because her pain is still so present, still so magnified and her flashes of thoughts are dangerously vivid. The betrayal is so real to her and then, she sees me and I seem to be simply taking it in stride. I appear to be handling it with ease and it causes her to question if I am really hurting at all.
I am learning that I need to allow myself to lift the wall I have built and to actually feel all the hurt and shame... and not just in my secret private moments, but in her presence. I need her to see that I am battling hard and that the pain is real for me too. Mine is the pain of one who wishes he had never caused any of this hurt while hers is the pain of one who is dealing with the most intimate betrayal of her life.
This is a really hard process.....
However, we are both dedicated to it and despite everything, I feel closer to my wife, my children, and my Savior than ever before. I hate the way we got to where we are. I hate to see her suffer and I hate being the cause of her pain but I know that it's only hottest in the middle of the fire. I know that the refining can't happen if I am sitting on the side line and so, through the fire we walk hand in hand.
I also know that there is a point during the process where if you leave the precious metal in the fire too long, it begins to lose value. There is a perfect point when the master smelter knows that the precious metal has reached the exact heat needed and then, He pulls it out of the fire, leaving it pure... and refined. He will not ask us to suffer more than is necessary and so, with hope and faith, we press forward into the heat.
Speaking of time, we have decide to take the terms that are reference to time and change them. We all know that BC typically means "Before Christ," and AD stands for "Anno Domini." (The year of our Lord) We have decided to use those same Abbreviations in relation to my Addiction and recovery. BC still stands for, "Before Christ." It does so because I was living my life without him. I had no relationship with him. I was lost and wandering and seeking the Shepherd but I placed a chasm of sin and selfishness between us. If I'm being truly honest, I went out of my way to avoid Him for I knew I could never come to Him in sincerity... not with all the sin I was carrying and hiding.
AD Stands for "After Deliverance" because that is what happened when I finally turned it all over to Him. My confession and repentance has helped me have a true change of heart and opened the door for my Rescuer and Deliverer to step inside. He has shown me that healing can happen. He has helped me see that the lies and despair and loss that Satan threw in my face day after day were nothing but half truths and manipulation. He has set me free from my self imposed chains.
So again, I return to time. It is our friend as well as our enemy. I have wasted so much time on worthless damaging habits. Idle time can truly be a curse. Time wasted in secrecy and deceit only serve to tighten the chains with which we are bound. However, the successful passage of time can be our hope and strength. Time spent driving 2 hours each week for support in a 12 step group, time spent helping my family to heal, or time spent inviting others to come unto Christ help to keep the conduit to the spirit open and accessible. Time is of course one of the sacrifices that he requires from us. But if time spent in the refiner's fire as an offering, can help me and my family find healing and strength, than it is a sacrifice that we are willing to give. Of course the blessing that comes... the true reward.... is that we will eventually come to a place that is no longer defined by time at all but simply referred to as eternity. That is our focus. That is our Goal.