Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sharing the Journey

Journey to Elizabeth

Journey to Elizabeth's, by Rose Datoc Dall, portrays the virgin Mary journeying with determination to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  These women were drawn together and shared a unique burden.  Both would mother men destined for greatness; both births were miraculous; both mothers would mourn the loss of their sons.  Both women were chosen vessels of the lord.  Beautiful wonderful women-- with intense, heavy burdens to carry.  Each needed the strength of the other to be able to fulfill their tasks.

I love the peaceful determination depicted on Mary's face.  She is walking confidently despite the uncertainty in her life-- would Joseph still marry me?  What will my life be like now?  No doubt Mary's burden was a substantial one to carry.  Yet she walked forward, seeking solace and comfort from one who could understand.  She faced her journey and shared it with a friend.

A dear friend gifted me this beautiful piece of artwork for Christmas.  She has been a friend and confidant as I have journeyed toward healing.  A journey and a friendship that began long before Edmond confided his addiction. This dear friend has loved me and listened to me for years.

She carries a burden too.  Hurt and pain that penetrate the soul.  That's what I am learning.  We all carry unimaginable hurt and grief and process it in our own ways.  But the beauty of life is in the journey we share with each other.  A journey where we move toward peace, together.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Work in Progress

My sister has a quilting blog and on Wednesdays she posts her WIPs- work in progress projects.  I love the idea of it.  Put it out in the open that even a highly accomplished tradeswoman has a pile of personal projects that are still in progress.  Still working on them-- slowly but surely.  Some stay at the bottom of the pile longer than others (she revealed one week a project that she has been working on for several years)  There are days that she is just not interested in delving into that mess or something else is urgent.  Projects get re-prioritized every day.

The longer I've been at this "recovery" business the more I realize that I have a list of  "WIP"s that get a little attention here and there as I have time.  Sometimes urgent matters take me away from the deep healing and mess at the bottom of the pile.  Sometimes I have plenty of time, but no emotional energy.  So I plug away at what I can and recognize that I may just always have a WIP pile and that is ok.  Some days I know it is time to process and then I work on it.  Healing and hope always come.

Are you dying to know my WIPs.  Some of them I hope to address in the New Year-- thus keeping me accountable for actually getting work done!  Some of them are just daily keeping me healthy things.

Dealing with Doubt- how to react when those icky, nagging, doubts rush into my mind.
Actively Working on Relationships vs just being in a passive, habitual roommate relationship
Remembering Who I am and Whose I am- the key motivator in my day (at least I want it to be)
Seeing the Beauty of Life
Learning to Love

I'll keep working on these things and frankly, just keeping up with life.  I am a work in progress- and that's ok.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Addiction is Hell

This is something that has been in the back of my mind for several months. Addiction is hell for everyone who is touched by it. Those who are in the addiction are suffering physical, emotional, mental and spiritual trauma that cannot be understood until you start to try to find a way out. The loved ones of those in addiction suffer trauma in the same areas. They have experienced and do experience pain and heartache that I can't even begin to imagine.

As humans, we all want to feel like we are in control of our lives. Addiction brings our lives completely out of control. When we are in this state, we sometimes like to point out the faults in others to help us feel better about ourselves. I see it sometimes in the comments on the addiction recovery blogs. "I don't think it's appropriate for ..." "You should have ..." "You shouldn't ...". I'm sure I have done this myself, but I'm starting to realize that everyone affected by addiction needs support and encouragement more than critiques of their choices or circumstances.

With that being said, I would like to use the rest of this post to offer what I hope to be words of support and appreciation.

To those who have been fighting addiction for a long time and have now achieved great periods of sobriety, I say thank you for your example of what is possible. I know it is not easy and takes a consistent day-by-day effort, but because of your example, I know it is possible for me to achieve a level of awareness that will allow me to manage my thoughts and actions in way that will help become the person I was meant to be.

To those who are in the midst of the struggle, I admire you for picking yourselves back up every time you fall. It is not easy to admit when we have made mistakes, but you are willing to do that and then get back to work to make sure it doesn't happen again. You inspire me to want to continue on when I feel like all hope is lost and I can't go on.

To the wives of addicts, I admire your ability to love someone even when they have and continue to hurt you tremendously. I am working to develop this attribute for myself. I am also amazed at your determination to do what you believe is right even when you don't see how it is all going to work out.

I think you all are wonderful people for the things you do despite the challenges and struggles.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Supporting a loved one after a slip

Recently, Haydee has been conversion with a friend who is a former wife of an addict. This friend has had some questions relating to her healing. One of her questions was how can someone best support a loved one who is recovering from a pornography addiction when they have a slip? Haydee passed this question on to me, and I thought I would post my answer here.

The first thing I need to make clear is that each person is different. The answers for how to show support for me will not be the same as how to show support for someone else, but there may be some similarities and that is why I am posting this.

Just like each addict is different, each loved one is also different and will have their own needs and things they are comfortable with. If something that would be helpful to me would make Haydee uncomfortable, I don't expect her to do it. I'm just stating that it would be nice if that happened.

Another thing to understand is that no one can help me recover except for the Savior. Giving support to a loved one with an addiction is not the same thing as trying to "fix" them or make their issues go away.

Now that all of the caveats are out of the way, how can a loved one best support me when I have a slip?

First, don't try to belittle or punish me. Nothing you can say is going to make me feel worse than I already do, but it may trigger my fight or flight mechanism. This leaves me in a more vulnerable state as I have spent many years turning to pornography when that is triggered.

Second, let me know that you still love me. I need to see this in actions as well as words. For me to feel love, I need physical intimacy. This does not mean sexual intimacy, but a hug or a touch on the arm can do amazing things to help me feel that I am OK even if my behavior has been less than what I would desire.

Finally, let me know that you appreciate the efforts I have been making. This will help me to see the progress I have made. Sometimes when I slip, I fail to look back and see how far I have come. It is important for me to remember that the person I am today is not the person I was before. The difference is in the efforts I have made. Help me remember this when I am feeling down after a slip.

I also want to mention that these suggestions are for supporting someone who is actively working on recovery. Someone who is actively pursuing the addiction will probably take these as license to continue in the destructive behavior. In that situation, please do whatever you need to protect yourself and your family.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Still Here and Still Working

It has been several months since I last posted. I just wanted to post a quick note to say that I am still here, and I am still working on my recovery. There are good days, and there are bad days. Thanks to the Lord, there are many more good days than bad.

I would like to share a thought from my recent scripture study. I have been studying in Isaiah. In Chapter 43, the Lord says to the House of Israel, "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine." At this time, the Israelites have turned away from the Lord and are worshiping other gods. Still, the Lord calls them by name and calls them His. We have all turned away from the Lord in some way in our lives. I turned away from the Lord in a big way, but He still comforts me. I am still His. I have been redeemed by Him, and I have no need to fear.

You also have no need to fear. The Lord is there for you. He will help you and comfort you.

Monday, November 10, 2014

All My Heart, Might, Mind And Strength

It has been a while since either Edmond or I have posted.  Life has been good- and bad and all the things that life generally is.  We have fantastic days and horrific days and busy days and lazy days.  I haven't felt much inspiration for writing.   Nothing until last week.

I was at a YW training meeting and the speaker was discussing the theme from this year and how it ties into next year's theme.  In case you're not familiar with the themes here they are.

This year's focus was to come unto Christ and be perfected in him.
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
--Moroni 10:32
In 2015 we will focus on serving:
Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
--D&C 4:2 
We must come unto Christ and allow his atoning sacrifice to become real in our life before we will be able to serve and love as He did.  This has been my focus recently.  Recognizing when Christ's power and love has enabled me to do more and be more than I am or could ever hope to be on my own.  I have seen those little moments, feeling calm when I would naturally want to yell;  finding that my loooong to do list is done, and I still have time to relax before kids get home from school; the moment of peace as I stand in the sun and let its rays warm my skin and feel joy, peace, and love.  All gifts of the Atonement in my life.

Another beautiful truth I found in these scriptures was the injunction to first "love God" then "serve him [God]" with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.

I tend to be a doer.  My tongue in cheek motto is: If a task is worth doing it is worth over doing.  Thus I tend to do (fill in the blank with primary, YW service, recipe creation, cleaning, exercise, or whatever my fancy is at the moment) with ALL my heart might mind and strength--sometimes to the detriment of other things in my life.

But the command is clear.  We are to love and serve GOD only with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength (H.M.M.S.).  There is no benefit to God when I serve the YW with all my H.M.M.S. to the detriment of my family.  Interesting point for me to ponder on.

As the wife of an addict, this phrase gave me so much comfort too.  Just as the Lord asks us to Trust Him-- and doesn't command me to trust anyone else, he asks me to give my H.M.M.S. to the most trustworthy and loving source of strength known to man or woman-- Himself.

The words of a primary song echo the feelings of my heart today.

I know He lives!
I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him.
I know that my Savior loves me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Feeling the Pain

I am a parent of kids, thus I hear complaints.  Life is not fair.  This is too hard.  But I don't like this.  I am constantly reminding my kids that discomfort is part of the process of life.  Deal with it.  Feel it.  I modified this popular saying with my kids in mind:

"Life is rough; life is tough;
then you grow up and get whiny kids of your own.
Then you die"

Whiny kids really aren't that tough.  But learning to feel, embrace and cope with feelings is something I am still learning.   I have learned more about pain than I ever wanted to know.  I have learned what pain feels like; and the extent to which I have worked to avoid feeling pain.

Allow me this random, rambling story.  It has a point, I promise.  I have an awesome mom-- the type of mom that invited me to sit on her lap and rock in the rocking chair as I cried on her shoulder about classic teen tragadies.  I sat on her lap when I came home from college and cried about missing my friends.  I would cry; she would listen.  Then we'd go to the kitchen for milk and cookies (I always took my cookies minus the milk, thank you.)

I grew up and moved away and the situtions changed, but the cookies stayed the same.  Cookies help me feel better.  Stress, anxiety, deep sorrow.  Cookies, brownies, oh and ice cream fix it.  That became my modus operandi.  Emotions that were too big to feel, or maybe it was just that the feelings felt bigger than me, either way, I would ignore the feelings and hide in my sweets.  I sought escape in something that could only mask the problem and make it bigger.  (Sound familiar-- it is the same situation addicts find themselves in--porn, sugar whatever- escape is escape.)

I gave up sweets around Christmas time last year but I have watched and wondered and thought about my new escapes.  Facebook.  TV.  Books. Facebook. Someone else's problems.  I turn to these "friends" when I can't seem to deal with my own reality.  It doesn't work.  I can tell you that right now.

Allowing myself to feel pain has be a hard, but necessary part of my healing.  The feelings of deep sorrow, sadness, hurt all wash over me.  I am helpless, buffeted by a storm I did not seek.  But in my deepest sorrows I have not been left alone.  My Savior sends me comfort; He speaks peace to my heart.  The waves come and go.  Some waves feel strong enough to knock me off my feet.  My Savior lets me feel that.  At other times He calms the storm around me; a respite before heading back into the storm.  I am grateful for a loving Savior who knows and feels my pain with me. He continues to lead me and help me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sister To Sister..

Recently I was asked by a friend to share with the sisters in her ward any tips for navagating the healing process when a loved one is addicted to pornography.  Just sharing the letter I wrote, From one sister to another...

Dear Friend,
Last year I learned that my spouse had been dealing with a sex addiction most of the 16 years we have been married.  This last year, as I have traversed the mountains of adversity, I have felt a sweeping range of emotions.  Pain and loneliness.  Hope and joy.  Comfort and sorrow almost in the same breath.  I wanted today to share a few things that have helped me on my journey.
1.  I can only fix me--  Nothing I do or say can fix my spouse/loved one.  He must choose to allow the Savior to heal him.  I had to let go of the illusion that I am the center of the universe and that I have power to solve his problems if only I.... (fill in the blank).  I can only work on me and my issues.

2.  I have just as many issues as my spouse.. just not addiction issues.  My path to healing and forgiveness was just as important as my spouses'.  I needed the healing balm of our Savior's love just as much as he did. I need to rely on the Savior to guide my path just as much as my addict still does.  Don't deny yourself the blessings the Lord has for you because you feel like your pain is less important than getting someone else well.  Your loved one being  free from sin won't be enough-- it won't heal your relationship--  if you haven't done work to make the atonement a real part of your life.
3.  Even if things aren't fine, I can be fine.  In the midst of turmoil and distress, my Savior's love can send peace to my heart.  His love for me, and you, is infinite.  As I tap into His love, I know that everything will work out, even when it seems like everything is falling to pieces.  I can live righteously, raise a family in the gospel, and feel the power of the priesthood in my life through my reliance on the Savior no matter what anyone else chooses to do.
I do not doubt God's love for me.  I can not doubt God's love for my spouse.  I feel His love and His peace as He teaches me what forgiveness looks like and how charity suffereth long.  I feel joy in the knowledge of Christ's perfect love.  His love has cast out all my fear, pain and sorrow.
May Christ's love lift and strengthen you and your loved ones too.

Your sister,

Monday, April 28, 2014

His Grace is Sufficient

I am continually amazed by the love my Savior has for me. No matter how often I fall, He is always there to help me back up and remind me of His love for me.

Over the past few days, I have had a desire to work on increasing my faith. This has involved studying Ether chapter 12 in order to understand more about faith. I have gained some valuable insights I have been studying. What I learned this morning, was not directly related to faith, but it was a powerful lesson for me.

Today I read verse 26:
And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; (Ether 12:26, italics added)
The phrase "my grace is sufficient for the meek" really stood out to me this morning. I pondered this phrase for a few minutes. Then, I felt a desire to look up the definitions of a couple of words to see if I could gain any deeper insight.

I started with the word meek. I didn't find any surprises, but the definition of "humbly patient" was a good reminder to me of the necessity for me to practice waiting on the Lord.

Next, I looked up the word sufficient. The first listed definition was exactly what I expected "adequate for the purpose; enough." The second definition is what really struck me "(of a condition) such that its existence leads to the occurrence of a given event or the existence of a given thing." This is amazing to me. The mere existence of the Lord's grace leads to eternal life for those who are humbly patient.

I often get caught up in Nephi's phrase "we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23). I look at this verse and think I have to be perfect and then Christ's Atonement will make up for the mistakes I made along the way to becoming perfect. That just isn't true. His grace is sufficient. My responsibility is to turn my life over to the Lord and wait on Him with humble patience.

I will never reach this goal of complete reliance on the Lord in this life, but that is ok. HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Blank Page

It's been a while since I wrote anything. The past 2 months have been difficult for me. I've had several slips over that time. At times I've wondered if I would ever get to a point where I am so immersed in recovery that every temptation or trigger would be seen for exactly what it is.

I find it easy to get down on myself whenever I make a mistake. I have a tendency to look back to the mistakes I have made in the past and think that I can never overcome them. The truth is I can 't overcome them on my own, but I do have the ultimate support system. I have a Savior who loves me and is deeply concerned with my individual welfare.

This point was brought to me again this morning. As I was preparing to do my daily planning sheet, I thought about all of the sheets I have filled out over the last months and how I still slipped. I noticed that my daily planning sheet was empty; a blank page. The thought came clearly to my mind that my life was like that. Each day is a blank page. I get to choose today to be who I want to be. Who I am today is not determined by what I did yesterday. I know I've written about this concept before, but evidently I still need to learn this lesson.

I know I can make it through today. That is all that matters. Tomorrow my page will be blank again.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Coming To Trust

I found a profoundly interesting scripture the other day.  I had been looking up scriptures about trusting the Lord, something I am continually working on, and found one in an unexpected area.

You know the story as well as I do.  Ruth and Naomi.  Ruth leaves her homeland to accompany Naomi into the land of Israel so that, "thy people shall be my people and thy God my God."  Ruth supports the two women by gleaning in the fields of Boaz.  After learning her history, Boaz treats Ruth kindly, extending the offer to drink and eat with his workers, and even to harvest among them.  Ruth questions his generosity and Boaz responded with words of commendation. (This is even before Ruth asks for his hand in marriage...)

The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. (Ruth 2:12)

I love the imagery of that blessing, "under whose wings thou art come to trust."  Each leap of faith, each hardship endured, each prayer for guidance is a step leading us to full and complete trust in the Lord.  Trust is a process.  Each day our trust in the Lord can grow as we walk in His ways.

I love Nephi's lament-- have you heard it called that before?  Nephi is stressed out because he and his followers have to abandon their land and property to flee from Laman and Lemuel; his parents are dead.  Nephi lists his issues, struggles and problems then defers to the Lord:

I know in whom I have trusted.  My God hath been my support; he hath led me though mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.  He hath filled me with his love....
Oh Lord, I have trusted in thee and I shall trust in thee forever.
(2Nephi 4:19-21,34)

The more I look, the more I see this pattern.  List of all my problems; testimony of the blessings the Lord has poured out to those who trust him. Paul recounts the blessing and miracles received when people trusted and had faith in God (Hebrews 11).  Alma testifies to his son Helaman of his personal witness of the Lord's miraculous hand in healing his heart and leading him in the path of apostleship as he learned to trust the Lord (Alma 36-- I love verses 3 and 27).

Maybe I need to write my own account.  Here have been my problems and here is how the Lord has delivered me as I put my trust in Him.  I'm still coming to trust in His ability to deliver me, but even in that process of coming, I am learning, becoming, and growing.   His wings protect and cover me in my storms and guide me to the highest mountain peaks.  I shall trust in Him forever.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Woman Who Arranges Things

One of my favorite musicals begins with the heroine describing herself, in song of course.

I have always been a woman who arranges things,
for the pleasure--and the profit--it derives.
I have always been a woman who arranges things,
like furniture and daffodils and lives.....

Just leave everything to me!

Dolly and I, we share a bond.  I like to be needed, to be doing, arranging and organizing.  Honestly, though, I  juggle way too many balls at once and I am always frustrated when I trip on some unexpected life event and one (or ten) balls come crashing to the ground.  So then as I pick myself back up and brush off the dust and gather up all the balls that went helter-skelter and start juggling them again.   I begin to worry about the other pebbles I might trip on.  So then I pull out my trusty map (a feat in itself with all those balls in the air), arrange/organize the path to avoid and circumvent all other pitfalls and chaos and continue on my way.

Really arranging or organizing or whatever you call it, is my coping method.  If it (meaning everything) is planned out then I can brush the worries aside and continue on my merry little path to perfection.  If I have wrapped my little brain around all the details and planned for contingencies, I am good to go and I can enjoy the ride.

The reality of life though is that I can't control it.  I can't plan it.  I can't organize it.  I keep trying to, but life-- and the lives of my family can't be systematically formulated to ensure the smooth sailing that I really, REALLY want.

When I melted down about not being able to plan, control, or formulate minute details as a child, my mom would smile and in a grim tone offer the only suggestion she had, "Give it up for Lent."  Give up my worry, give up my control.  Give it to God. Let Him carry the load and the burden of worry and stress.  Be present, aware and let it go.

I've practiced that recently.  My family is at a crossroads right now.  Employment, housing, and life change is imminent-- or maybe not.  I wanted to see my path; to plan and organize and prepare for the changes that are (or maybe are not) coming.  The stress was eating at me-- what was the path?  which one to take?  where?  when?  I wanted to yell at God and say, "Just tell me how high and how far and I will jump, leap or even pirouette, just TELL ME!!!!"

In His loving kindness He was silent.  He let me choose to wait and trust.  He patiently waited for me to kneel and hand him my juggling balls.  He is carrying my load, my stress, my worries.  My task is to wait patiently for his hand to be made manifest in my life.  I kind of like not having to multi-task while juggling all those worries.  I am at peace.  I am content with today.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Advice for a Teenager Struggling with Addiction

I had a meeting with my Bishop last night. During the interview, he asked me what advice I would give to a teenager who is struggling with pornography and sexual addiction. I was not prepared to answer that question. As I though about it, the first thing that came to mind was that the teenager needs to talk to someone about what is going on. After all, we all know this addiction thrives on secrecy and lies.

As a follow up question, the Bishop asked if I would advise them to talk to their parents. I really struggled with this question. Looking back at my teenage years, there is no way I would have told my parents. Knowing myself, any negative reaction at all from my parents would have driven me further into the addiction. I would have felt I could never tell anyone again about what was going on. On the other hand, a loving response from my parents may have helped me to find recovery earlier in my life and may have kept the addiction from sinking so deep.

As an adult, I would definitely say the dealing with any possible anger or negative reaction from my parents would be better than the years of silent suffering on my own. I'm not sure I would have understood that as a teenager though.

The more I think about it, the more I think my answer would be to seek the guidance of the spirit. While all of our stories are very similar, each individual circumstance is unique. I don't think there is a single answer that fits every situation.

The one thing that is common is that we all have a Father in Heaven and a Savior who love us. They want us to be happy and to return to them. They will always respond to us with love and kindness and encouragement as long as we are striving to put our lives in accordance with their will for us.

I'm sure others have thought about this question, so I'm going to put it out here for others to answer also. What advice would you want to give to a teenager who is struggling with pornography and sexual addiction?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Manipulation and Lies I Tell Myself

I felt a new (to me) emotion the other day.  Nausea, icky, dirty.  Need to run to the shower and clean myself.  It wasn't stomach flu, it was a reaction to the realization that I was being manipulated.  I had felt the something is not right, icky stomach before, but never my whole body feeling ill, emotionally distressed, and frankly not ok.

I work with kids with special problems-- kids who can not and do not fit in the regular school system.  One child in particular is very charming.  I knew that and thought my boundaries were up, but he got in and little by little started pushing my limits, with smiles and witty comments and more eye contact than usual.  My head said, wow he is really practicing good manners today.  My emotions said, wait, why, what is going on.  I looked back on the day and time after time he had broken minor rules and all I had seen was the smile.  I felt ill, used and manipulated-- and frankly nervous to go back and work with him the next day.

So I have spent the past few days working out my feelings about being manipulated and why that is such a huge deal for me.  I grew up being manipulated.  I grew up knowing that life -- even family life -- is a game and if you want anything you have to play the game and be what someone else wants you to be.  Then they are happy and life is easier.  It doesn't matter what you want or what you feel, just do what it takes to keep peace.  Even now I feel the pressure to be what I am expected to be.  Perfect.  And by perfect, I mean what someone else thinks perfect is.

What I am learning from this...  The voices in my head aren't real.  They are programming put in place while I was growing up telling me what is real, correct and good.  I can choose to accept or reject this scripting at any time. They only define me as much as I choose to let them.

On the other hand, my feelings are real.  My feelings are a reaction to what is happening in my head and around me.  Sometimes they conflict with the voice in my head.  Anxiety is just my heart telling my head something and my head not accepting the feeling as real.  Stress is my head and my heart arguing about what I ought to be doing with my time and my head telling me I need to be/do more. 

I'm not quite sure what will change with this new realization.  Maybe acceptance of who I am.  Hopefully acceptance of those around me who are just playing out the script in their head.  The ability to discern what really is.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One More Day

Recently, Haydee, reminded me that we are coming close to the one year anniversary of my confession to her. She asked me if I wanted to do anything special to celebrate the progress and healing that have been found in the past year. My response to her was "No, I don't want to do anything special to celebrate that day." I wanted to take some time to explain some of my reasons for not wanting to celebrate.

First, confessing to my wife and then to our bishop was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I had to bring myself to total humility in order to make a full confession of all I had done and the damage I had caused. This was the day I finally turned to the Lord and said, "I don't want to fight this alone any more. I am too weak to do this on my own. I will do whatever you ask of me, but please help me." The love and strength I received from the Lord that day, and that continue today, are more than I could have ever hoped for. The experience is much too sacred to me to celebrate in any ordinary manner.

Second, I have come to more fully appreciate the power of today. I have come to understand that I can easily fall back into the trap of pornography by dwelling on my past mistakes. At the same time, dwelling on past successes can lull me into a false sense of security. The only way for me to stay in a state of recovery is to focus completely on today. I can look back to remember the darkness and remind myself why I don't want to go back there. I can also look forward with a hope in the future, but my focus and energies must be on today and the things I need to do right now.

Finally, the only way I have been able to make it to the point I am at now, is through the power of the Atonement of Christ. The only thing for me to celebrate is the glory of my Lord and Savior. I have done nothing to merit any honor. I will celebrate the mercy of my Lord for pulling me out of the abyss into which I had cast myself, but I can claim no privilege in the rescue.

So, with that, here's to one more day in the Lord. May it be a day that finds all of us engaged with the Lord in the work of salvation for ourselves and those around us.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Relying on the Lord's Love

I happen to be a terrific, fantastic and wonderful person-- or at least I remind myself that I am-- and that is the image I try to present to the world-- an amazingly accomplished woman.  But really on the inside I feel afraid of others' judgments, afraid of being insignificant, afraid of being wrong and doing wrong, afraid of disappointing others.  Afraid.  I reaffirm to myself that I am "good enough, smart enough, and gosh dang it, people like me!"  But offered criticism, advice or even an opposing opinion, my natural reaction is to do a complete internal self-evaluation and to second guess my judgment or actions.

Through Edmond's addiction recovery, I felt profoundly God's love for him.  I know that God loves Edmond, a wonderful man who has sinned, so why do I doubt His love for me and believe the put-downs I tell myself.  In my meditations I state, "I am a powerful witness of God's intense and enduring love."  Do I remember that His love is for me as well?

Reflecting on this pattern,  I remind myself I am relying on the arm of flesh and not on my Redeemer!  (Even that feels like a slap in the face... Man I have got to be better, do better...)

I have been thinking a lot about what it really means to rely on the Lord.  What does healthy reliance look like; how does one act if one is relying on the Lord.  I loved the suggestions of Edwin Crozier in his sermon 5 Ways to Rely on God's Strength to Beat your Giants.  The idea that resonated with me was to walk in God's presence, by inviting the Lord to walk beside you each day.  Talking to the Lord about all that you are doing and how you feel about it.  The constant prayer in your heart to keep His presence in your memory.  He says,

Talk with Him while you go through your day. Share what you are about to do. Ask Him to help with the decisions you are about to make. Follow-up with thanks for blessings that occur. If you fall, talk to Him about why it happened. This helps because it’s hard to gossip about your co-worker if you begin by asking God if He thinks it’s okay. It’s hard to look down a woman’s flapping shirt if you first run it by God to see what He thinks about it.

I would add as a reminder to myself, talk to Him about why He loves you.  Talk to him about why you feel down about yourself.  Talk to him about your plans, your diet, your choices, your failures (cooking and otherwise) and ask him to reassure you of his love.  God's love, charity, never faileth.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Trust in the Lord

One thing I struggle with is allowing others to help me. I am naturally a person who likes to do things myself. This trait was reinforced as I was growing up because I never really had anyone I could turn to for help when I needed it. My family was constantly moving. We were never in one place long enough to develop any kind of relationship with teachers or church leaders. I never even felt like I could go to my parents for help.

One of the tragic consequences of this mindset is that I also never learned to turn to the Lord for help when I needed it. I always felt like I had to do everything on my own.

As part of my recovery, I am trying to learn how to rely more on the Lord (I say trying because I'm not sure it's fully sinking in yet). I have had this on my mind over the past few days. As I have been thinking about it, a couple of scriptures have come to mind.

The first is the response of the people of King Benjamin to his teachings:
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. (Mosiah 5:2)
 The people of King Benjamin did not change their hearts. It was the Spirit of the Lord which did the changing. The people had to allow the Holy Ghost to work in their hearts for this change to take place. They could not do it for themselves.

The second scripture that has come to mind is the account of Christ in Gethsemane as recorded by Luke:
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. (Luke 22:41-43)
Even Christ needed a little extra strength and encouragement. If He could not do it completely on His own, what makes me think that I can do anything on my own.

The reality is that I can't do it on my own. I need the strength of my Lord and Savior. He is the one I must put my trust in. I cannot trust in myself.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pain and Comfort

This past weekend was exceedingly difficult for me. I was completely overwhelmed with everything that I have to do. I felt completely inadequate to be able to keep up with work, school (I'm currently working on a Master's Degree), church callings, and family responsibilities. Add to that counselling and group therapy sessions, and I just couldn't see how it was possible to do everything. I also know that I can't really cut out anything from this list. I have to work to be able to support my family, I know that finishing my degree is something the Lord wants me to do, church callings are important in blessing my life and the lives of those I serve, I need to develop better relationships with my wife and with my children, and counselling and group are essential to my recovery.

I know these are not uncommon, and many people have much more on their plates than I do, but for some reason I was completely overwhelmed to the point of feeling excruciating pain and how much I have to do and how incapable I am of doing it all. This all added up to emotional pain such as I have never felt before. I can't even begin to describe how much this hurt.

I think that pretty much covers the pain part of this post, but what about the comfort part?

Through this experience, I received two types of comfort. The first comfort came in the realization that no matter how bad I felt, I would rather experience that pain than try to mask it with my addictive behaviors. This is a huge breakthrough for me because one of the major components of my addiction was using it to dull the pain I felt from life. Through this experience, I learned that I would rather feel pain in the moment than try to mask it and deal with the consequences of addictive behavior on myself and my family.

The second source of comfort came as I was finally able to come through the pain I was feeling. This comfort came from the Holy Ghost whispering to my hear that I can't do everything I have been asked to do on my own, but I was never asked to do it on my own. I have been asked to do these things by a loving Father in Heaven and He will provide the help I need to be able to complete them. Just like I spent many years trying to overcome my addiction on my own and was never successful, but once I was humble enough to allow the Lord to help me, I started to have success. This is obviously a lesson that I need to learn again. I am not capable of doing anything on my own, but in the strength of the Lord, I can do all things.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Taking Time To Be Well

I has been almost 2 months since I sat down to write.  Crazy, wonderful, insanely busy months where I learned so much about myself.

I learned that I need to allow myself to truly rest-- mentally, physically and emotionally.  That pushing myself did no favors for myself or my family.  I need to rest and reset my mind multiple times a day.  It is ok to not accomplish something (workout, dinner, cleaning, reading) and instead find peace in my mind.

I learned that what I put in my mouth affects my mental and emotional stability.  Choosing to only eat really GOOD FOR ME food allows my body to function optimally.  Functioning optimally allows me to love and care for my family and myself better.

At the gym, I heard a coach compliment a woman saying, "she treats her body like an athlete," and I understand it now.  Athletes use extreme care in nourishing and exercising their bodies-- their body is their livelihood.  My body is worth caring for.  My body is the tool with which I accomplish my life's mission.  My body is the tool my Heavenly Father uses when he needs to serve someone.  My body is worth the effort of eating well.

I am worth the effort.  My health and wellness is worth finding time to be silent.  My health and wellness is worth making time to be still.  My health and wellness is worth the effort is takes to say no to cookies and yes to spinach.

I am worth it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On to the Victory!

I have been struggling the past few weeks with what to write. I've had a few ideas but nothing seemed to feel right. Then, this morning it came to me.

First, a little background. Recently, I've been feeling the need to work on my family history. I haven't really worked on it for several years. Along with that, as I was trying to decide what to study in the scriptures this week, I really felt impressed to study Doctrine and Covenants section 128. This is a section specifically talking about baptism for the dead.

In my study this morning, I came across a verse encouraging us in our efforts in redeeming the dead, but I also saw an application to recovery work:
Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing ... for the prisoners shall go free. (D&C 128:22)
Is not recovery from the plague of addiction for ourselves and our loved ones a great cause? Should we not be going forward in this work each day? We should rejoice and be glad because we will go free from our prisons.

I know I have been in prison. I have been in a prison of my own making due to the choices I have made. Now, I am breaking free from this prison. I am not completely free, and I may never be completely free in this life. I still have struggles. There are still days when it is incredibly difficult, but those days are not holding me back from my progression. Those days are a reminder of where I have come from and where I am right now.

My challenge each day is to go forward and not backward. I can learn from the past, but I cannot change it. Change only comes by moving forward.

With this in mind, we should all be prepared to move on to the victory!