Saturday, December 5, 2015

Like A Toddler

I love working in the Primary at church.  Oh happy place.  Singing, joy, light, simple, peace.  A few years ago Edmond and I got to work in the nursery together.  We had three or four kids who were just terrified to leave their parents.  Even after weeks of mom and dad playing with them happily in the nursery room, and fun bonding moments with the nursery workers, they were still afraid when mom or dad left the room.  These sweet kids were used to the continual love and constant nurturing of a loving parent- and asking them to trust another adult was SUPER SCARY!  Would mom and dad come back?  Would they be left alone forever?  Could these strangers meet my needs and comfort me when I cry?  It was a hard transition for some of them.

With that image as a backdrop, I have been evaluating my life recently.  After a couple years of comfort and nourishment and feeling God's love powerfully, he left me.  The scriptures had told me that I was only commanded to trust in the Lord, and instructed me not to rely on the arm of flesh- I was safe with that.  I felt good.  Then God sent me to nursery class.  He left me with a man who had broken my trust and hurt me and I was scared.  I was so mad- at God.  Really you command me to trust you- and now you are asking me to extend that trust to someone else?!?  I wanted to scream, "WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING!!!!"  And then God walked away-- he was probably outside the door watching me kick and scream, tantrum, then when that didn't work, lay in a heap and cry for hours at a time.  As a parent I know how hard it is to watch my child experience that heart wrenching pain, disappointment and fear, but I also know that it is a step that will help them forever in life.

Practicing trusting Edmond has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.  I can't say I have learned how to do it.  I am still practicing... I still have to gird up my courage and face my doubts and fears every time I ask or say something that actually means something to me.  As we were working through this, Edmond asked me a question that has haunted me since.

I was wanting to ask him to come to counseling with me.  He has done his therapy, I have done mine, but I wanted to do some together. But I was so afraid he would feel like I was judging him, that he would feel that I was just doing this to fix him, that it would be perceived as an attack against him.  I was so pathetically afraid-- I started by inviting him to come with me, you know if you want.  He didn't get that hint.  Then I said, do you want to try my councilor, (his had just left private practice) you know, you haven't had someone to talk to for a while.  Didn't work.  Finally, weeks later, I just asked.  It would mean a lot to me if you would come with me.  I want your support.  Edmond's response was classic.  Sure, if it is important to you I'll  be there.  When I was brave enough to tell him that I had been wanting him to come with me for weeks and weeks his statement stung.  "What kind of monster do you think I am that I wouldn't be willing to do something that meant so much to you?"

Love is what has prompted Edmond to get clean and work to stay there.  Not just love for me, but because he loves God and loves himself too.  Edmond would never really want to or intentionally try to hurt me.  He is not a monster.  He is my nursery leader- someone who has promised to do their best to love and care for me.-- Like any nursery leader he will not succeed at meeting my needs at all times.  He is learning, just like I am learning too.  He is practicing responding to my cry for help, attention and love.  I am practicing asking for it.

I'll be honest, my favorite times in nursery were when a child would come up to me and ask me to play with them.  They may give me a baby to love on, or feed me with their pretend food, or ask me to knock down their tower with them, or just race cars or roll a ball together.  They trusted me and wanted me.  I was needed and wanted- and they were loved and supported.  Win-Win. What better way to show my love and trust for Edmond than to invite him to be with me- to see me, to help me, to play with me.  Inviting him to meet my need is a gift of love I can give to him.  Practicing....

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Continuing the Journey

It has been a long while since I posted and so much has been happening.  Edmond is still in active recovery.. a place where I am sure he will be for years, relearning how to handle stress, disappointment and hurt in positive ways.  And while he is learning I am learning too.

Honestly, the last six months have been so hellish for me.  You would think that the first six months would be harder, but I was surrounded by God's love and buoyed up and comforted in way that I just felt peace. Two and half years into recovery,  I began to feel the weight of it all.  You could see that in my posts in the spring and summer.  Just heavy, weight, darkness, despair.  I couldn't write, I couldn't feel hope.  It was all darkness.  It was an existential crisis.  What was real?  Did God exist? Could I trust anyone?  I can't even trust myself!  I can't tell truth from lies.  I honestly didn't know what was real anymore. My reality shattered.  All that was left was pain and sorrow.

I was working with a therapist who encouraged me to check out the LDS recovery site for addicts' families.  I read through the first article and sat and cried- then I paced, then I wanted to throw things.  Why?  I was so angry.  The list of feelings addicts loved ones may feel were so trivial. Temple covenants, financial concerns, criminal charges. Sure, issues to address.  But I didn't know who I was anymore.   All of those concerns seemed so far away.  How can I deal with that, if I don't know what I believe, think or want anymore. I had no belief that I would feel joy or light again. I had no belief that I would feel loved, safe or protected.  I worried about and waited for the next disclosure. The next time my heart would be ripped out and stomped on.  How could I even begin to deal with those issues.  My therapist was shocked and stunned that the site would trigger me so much.  He carefully avoided LDS recovery after that.  But I still didn't find peace.

Finally a good friend found an article that explained to me that I wasn't crazy.  That I wasn't off my rocker.  It spoke to me in a way that logically explained why I felt all the things I was feeling.  Finally I was seen and understood  by someone, and I wasn't just CRAZY, or worse an over-reacting, hyper paranoid female!  So this article is long... and very technical/academic.. but is worth the time. 13 Dimensions of Sex Addiction Induced Trauma

After I understood me, I had to be super brave.  I asked Edmond to read it and ask me which aspects applied to me currently.  (It took a couple weeks of wanting, wishing and some hints before I was able to say clearly, aloud, it would mean a lot to me if you would read this and talk to me about it... Sweet man that he was, he asked why didn't you tell me sooner you wanted this-- sheepish grin. I'm learning to trust you with what I really want.)

It was a beautiful way for me to feel validated and seen.  Edmond even asked what he could do.  The answer was just to see me, to understand where I am and love me anyway.  I had felt so much guilt and yuck about all I had been feeling, and having a person I care about most understand me meant so much.  I feel hope.