Dear Addi

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Internal scars

(her story)

On Monday night, the missionaries came over for dinner.  As is custom, they gathered our family together afterwards to share a message.  They shared with us a video from the Mormon Channel.  It was about Stephanie Nielson...the woman that survived a plane crash but is left with horrible scarring.

Anyway, I had heard her story before but I hadn't paid much attention to it...until now.  I realized something as I was watching her talk.  Her whole body is covered with horrific scars..the scars that will forever remind her of her accident and the trial and trauma she has experienced.

Despite the scars, she is a bright, vibrant, beautiful woman who has learned so  much from her trial and I bet, given the chance to have it erased and to never have had it happen would probably say "no."  She paid a heavy price to become acquainted with God...a price that in hindsight, she is probably glad of!

As I looked at her, I at first thought, "Well, at least THAT is not your trial!  At least you don't have to walk around with scars and be self conscious of them all the time.   She is certainly made of tougher stuff than you."  But, as I watched the video and thought about how I would handle being a plane crash survivor, I realized that I am no different from Sister Nielson.  

You see, I have survived my own plane crash of sorts.  I have been burned, wounded, ejected from the safety of the plane and left with an incredible amount of scars.  The only difference for me is that my scars are on the inside.  No one can see them.  Only those that know of our situation even know that they are there.  These scars I carry cause me no less distress than hers do.  They are a constant reminder of my trauma and of the greatest trial to come into my life.

There are days when I am hurting so badly and I just want to scream to others..."Can't you see my scars?  Can't you see how much I hurt?"  But they can't.  Those scars are on the inside and most days I do a pretty good job of hiding them. 

Here is what I took away from her story.  Her scars and the damage that was done to her have become a conduit for a better relationship with her Heavenly Father, an increase of testimony, a source of strength and an opportunity to help others.  I WANT THAT!  I hope I am acheiving that.  I am trying to acheive that.  So far, my relationship with my Father in Heaven and my Savior is stronger.  There have been undeniable times when I have felt them physically step in and lift my weight.  I have an increased testimony of the healing power of the Atonement to rescue not only the sinner but the sinned against.  I feel stronger for my scars though I know there is a lot of strengthening that needs to be done as more time passes. Finally, we have been able to reach out to members of our ward and have come across five other couples going through the same addiction.  (Only one has led to adultery like my husband's addiction did...thank goodness.)  We drive all of these couples to our 12 step meeting an hour away once a week.  So, I do feel like we are using our trial to help others.  I hope when my husband's priesthood is restored, we can do more.

The final thought that I had when I watched her amazing story was wondering what she would think of the trial that I am going through.  Would she read through my story of heartache and betrayal and think "I'll keep my own trial.  I would never want to go through that!"  I fully believe that our trials are not random.  I think the Lord knows what kind of adversity we need to endure in order for us to become who we need to become.  For her, it was a plane crash.  For me it was adultery and excommunication.  Would we want to trade trials, assuming that the other's trial would be easier?  Probably not.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Anniversaries, triggers, reminders and change

(her story)

I am in tough territory right now.  Starting with the end of October, I was officially in "anniversary" time.  You see, last year at this time, my husband was deeply involved in an affair.  It started on-line in October and began physically on November 1st.  To say that I am suffering is an understatement.  I thought I could walk into these months with my head held high and courageously face them with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.  After all, I have had ten months of healing right?  It has proven more difficult than I'd fact, at times, it's torturous.

Every thing we do is a reminder.  I went to Stake Conference on Saturday night for the adult session and was painfully reminded that last year at this time, my husband was standing up at the podium, giving the talk of his life as a member of the Stake Presidency, while, at the same time, having an extramarital affair.  I was so proud of him that night.  His talk was incredible.  How did he do that?  How could he mask the sin and guilt and betrayal?  (I hesitate to mention this because I don't want you sisters or brethren to questions your leaders' worthiness.  I think my husband's story is hopefully a unique circumstance.  Most of our stake leaders are NOT hiding a secret addiction or extramarital least I hope not.)

Every morning as I take my kids to seminary, I am reminded that last year my husband would tell me he was dropping the girls off at the church and then going to the gym.  Instead, he would go and endulge in his addiction.  The darkness, the all reminds me of last year and it brings back the ache.

I went to Time Out for Women this year, like I did last year. It is 2 hours north and last year, my husband stayed home and watched the kids.   I knew it was going to be a tough experience as I was going to constantly be reflecting on the fact that last year, unknown to me, my husband was communicating with his affair partner while I was out of town.  So, this year, when the opportunity came up for my husband to take a quick weekend trip to California with his brother in law, I told him to please go!  I could make arrangements for babysitters while I was gone.  For some reason, I just knew that not having him anywhere near where he was last year (in fact, in a completely different state) would  help me to not dwell on what he was doing last year  at this same time.  It worked and I had a relatively peaceful weekend with few worries or triggers.

So, we have a lot of November left as we anxiously await the "anti-versary" in January.  We have decided that instead of having a Thanksgiving dinner in town this year (like last year which brings up many painful memories as I was beginning to have some serious suspicions by then), we are going to rent a house and have Thanksgiving as a family far away from home and triggers. 

This year seems to be completely different and I feel the need to keep it that way.  This year I have an attentive, loving husband who is not constantly on his phone or hiding in the bathroom.  He is open with me and he listens to me when I cry..even though it is intensely painful for him.  He is home when he says he will be home and he ALWAYS answers his phone when I call.  When he knows I am having a nervous day, he offers to take one of our kids with him when he runs errands, just to put my  mind at ease.  Yes, things feel different.  

I know that with the passage of time, especially these months, the pain I feel with those memories will lessen.  I know that as we reach January and my husband gets rebaptized, the pain will decrease even more.  But until then, I have to survive these two very difficult months.  For me, that means completely changing our memories and abandoning our traditions so they in no way resemble last year.  Good idea?  Bad idea?  Who cares.  It feels right to me.