addiction, betrayal, My Story, repentance, Uncategorized

A Mighty Change of Heart

Tomorrow is it two years to the day that I learned my husband was having multi-affairs online.

Remembering this day fills my heart with pain so intense that it feels like my heart is in a vise grip.  Just typing this is giving me a full-blown panic attack.  Heart pounding, hyperventilating, and hot tears forming in my eyes.  I still can’t believe this is my life.  I had to file for a divorce I never wanted because he would not or could not choose me over his addiction.

Giving love

The choice of my heart will not choose me.  At this point, I shouldn’t care.  Why should I?

Nevermind that my Patriarchal Blessing practically describes him, our courtship, family life, and marriage. It might as well have his name written there.

When I was engaged to him, my parents, especially my mother, did want me to marry him.   (They listened to gossip about him from his teenage goofiness.) After having another argument with my mom over marrying him, I asked her if she had prayed about it.  She had not.  I told her I didn’t want to talk about this until she prayed about it.  A few days later she came to me with a strange question, “What does Scott’s mother look like?” His Mom died when he was sixteen so I never met her, but I had seen pictures of her. I described her to my mom.  It was then that the tears started.  My mom then told me that Scott’s mother had appeared to her in a dream and told her that she had “hand picked” me for her son and then she asked my mom to please allow me to marry Scott.  So you see.  I can’t say this was a mistake.  Our love. Our marriage. It was meant to be! It was not a mistake. Remembering this brings a flood of tears to my eyes. My heart can hardly stand the pain.

This is why I pray every night that my Ex will have a mighty change of heart.  It is excruciating to be so helpless over the choices of another person.  Especially one you love so much.  I can do nothing.  Just pray.  So I pray he will finally come back to himself and then come back to me.

Praying hands on an open bible

“Therefore, repentance means more than simply a reformation of behavior. Many men and women in the world demonstrate great willpower and self-discipline in overcoming bad habits and the weaknesses of the flesh. Yet at the same time they give no thought to the Master, sometimes even openly rejecting Him. Such changes of behavior, even if in a positive direction, do not constitute true repentance.”  Ezra Taft Benson

I believe in miracles. I really do.  But sitting here, two years later, the miracle seems to be so far out of reach.

This week I learned that he isn’t even going to church now.  The Bishop hasn’t even heard of him. In a strange way, this is somewhat comforting to me.  He has lead me to believe that he was working to repent and get back in the church so he could move on with his new girlfriend. It hurt me so badly to know he didn’t want to change for me.  After spending 37 years of our lives together, he couldn’t be bothered to make any changes for me. That hurts. I guess he doesn’t want to change for her either.

This is an important lesson for me.

It’s not about me.

It’s about him.

The kind of change that needs to happen in his heart to make him a new man must come from within.  He can’t do it for me.  He can’t do it for our kids or grandkids.  He can’t do it for her or for any other person.  He has to do it for the Savior. He has to do it for himself.  A mighty change of heart happens with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It can happen in no other way.

I have been praying for this for two years.

I guess I will just keep praying.

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Alma 5:

 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.

 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.

 10 And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?

 11 Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them?

 12 And according to his faith there was a mighty changewrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.

 13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.

 14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

 15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

 16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

 17 Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you?

 18 Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?

 19 I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

 20 I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?

 21 I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.

This is what a mighty change of heart looks like.  Anything else is just smoke and mirrors.

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Stay Sweet, Be Stong!

addiction, betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

I Accept…

Acceptance Letter

Write a letter telling your partner the things that you accept about your life as it is now.  This doesn’t mean you agree with it or approve.  It just means that you accept the way things are at this time.

Acceptance is a difficult concept.  It means to acknowledge, yield, and surrender to present circumstances. To accept this I must respect your choices, become resigned to learning to live with life the way it is, not the way I want it to be.

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I had learned to accept all of you, faults and all.  I have loved you as unconditionally as I knew how, even when I was ignored and hurting.  But accepting this, is the hardest thing I have ever done, or ever had to do.  The road to acceptance is long and difficult.  I feel it is more a process than a destination. I am not sure I really can accept everything that has happened to me, but really, what choice do I have?  If I do not accept this, then it just hurts me further, and one thing I cannot live with is more hurt.  Acceptance, by definition, comes in layers of respect, acknowledgment, yielding, surrendering, submitting, and finally, being satisfied with the outcome. So here is what I accept…

Respect

Respect is a feeling of understanding that encourages you to value someone enough to treat that person in an appropriate way. From this definition, I can truthfully express respect for you.  I have loved your for more than 3 decades.  I value you and respect you enough to move out of your way so that you can pursue the decisions that you have now decided to make, without input or demands from me.  You are free to make your own decisions and I respect that.  Learning to live with it, will be what is the most difficult for me.

I understand and respect myself enough to know that I cannot live with your current reality.  I must walk away until you figure this out.  I deserve to be treated better, so until that happens, if it ever does, I cannot be with you. It’s has been the most difficult thing I have ever done to put myself first and to believe my needs matter enough to meet them, no matter how difficult that is for either of us.

I respect you enough to let you make your own choices. And I respect me enough to do what I need to do for me because of your choices. I have come to accept this.

Acknowledge

When someone acknowledges something it means they are able to recognize the existence, truth or facts of a particular situation and to express the realization that they recognize the authority and validity of the facts.

I acknowledge the truth, facts and existence of your addictive and compulsive behaviors that cause you to act out sexually in inappropriate ways. I had to acknowledge this so that I could find peace and healing for myself. I also acknowledge that you do not agree with this truth because you have not yet learned it for yourself.

I understand that when you do, finally understand, that it will be very difficult for you to accept. But, your family will be here for you to help you through that when the time comes and you are humble enough to recognize it.

I have had to come to accept this for my own sanity.

Yield

Yielding means giving into or going along with the demands, or will of another.

You have always had a very strong will.  One that is very difficult to go up against.  I have often said, you could convince anyone of anything you wanted them to believe.  Your will has been so overpowering that I have often yielded to you just to keep the peace.  It’s much easier to agree with you than to oppose you. Taking the opposite view from yours puts me in a line of fire that is more than difficult to defend or survive.  So, being in opposition to you has always come with a cost.  The price I have paid is losing myself, my needs, my wants, my goals and my values in life.  You do not value me or respect me enough to let me be my own person.  I gave up so much for you.  Yielding to you has been the story of my life. You do not take opposition well.  Your response to it is oppression.

Another word for yield is, to defy.  I knew I could never defy you without serious consequences.  So it took something very serious for me to summon the courage and strength to do that – you broke a core belief. Which is complete fidelity in marriage.  However, I also believe in forgiveness and repentance.  To repent means to change.  So far, that hasn’t happened, so I am forced to acquiesce to you, or betray my core foundational principles. Those were my only two choices.

I cannot betray my belief system.  So, for me, this choice wasn’t easy, but it was the only choice I could make.  You forced me to sacrifice “us” for my core foundational principles.

I cannot yield to you.  I must yield to God. I have come to accept this.

surrender

Surrender 

Surrender is a lot like yielding.  But in this context it is yielding to a higher power, control or demands.  While I cannot yield to your power, control or demands, I can surrender my all to God.

I could not surrender to you, nor could I surrender to me.  Both of us are flesh and blood and we make mistakes, but Heavenly Father does not make mistakes.  He can guide us perfectly through the storms and vicissitudes of life if we surrender our will to His. It became clear to me, early on, that His way was the ONLY way. My one true path. The rock of my foundation. The only way I was going to make it through this in once piece.

So I made a very critical choice – to surrender to Him.  It was the best and most important thing I have ever done.  The only way I could navigate this was to say, “thy will be done!”

There is no other way for me. I have come to accept this.

Submit

Submitting to these truths have been the only way for me to find peace so far.  I don’t like or love any of it.  But there is nothing I can do to interfere with your agency, no matter how much I wish for it.  Our Heavenly Father has declared agency to be a bedrock right.  We were sent to this earth to learn, by our own experience to distinguish the good from the evil.  The only thing that allows that to happen is our agency, there is no other way. I cannot force you to make better choices, no matter how much I may want to do it. I can’t. So rather than be angry at you for making what are, in my opinion, the wrong choices, the best thing I can do for myself and you is to withdraw  to a safe enough distance for me so that you can figure this out for yourself without causing me further damage and so that I can heal regardless of what you do or do not do.

Heavenly Father’s plan is truly merciful for both of us.

sunset in heart hands

Satisfied

Full acceptance mean to be satisfied with the current situation. The mind is at rest, the soul is at peace.  Accepting means that it will suffice for now.  It is good enough.

Is my life the way I want it to be?  NO!  Everything I ever believed has been challenged.  My life, how it was, has been taken from me, along with all of my hopes and dreams.  Accepting what was done to me has been the hardest thing I have been ever asked to do. There was a time, when I believed it would be impossible!  Difficult? Yes!  Impossible? No.  But it does take time and effort.  Healing from deep wounds is never quick or easy.

But I am satisfied that, in time, I will heal.  I will find peace.  My mind will be at rest. And my life will be restored by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. I have already come so far!  Much farther than I ever believed I could, all because of Him, who is mighty to save!

Until then, I am satisfied that I will recover.  I am satisfied that, eventually, my life will be better than I dreamed it could be. I am satisfied that God’s got this. With or without you, I will be ok.

I accept this.

addiction, betrayal, My Story, Uncategorized

Abuse, Dressed in a Suit

I used to think that because my husband was in leadership callings in the church that he should have, would have learned how he was supposed to treat his wife.  He should have known better by osmosis, I guess. I believed because he kept all outward appearances of a good, active member of the church that eventually his inward feelings and behaviors would change to match.  Because he lived in this space where his thoughts and actions were disconnected most of the time, I believe this set him up to become more abusive over time. Let me explain:

I don’t feel that my husband was particularly abusive to me during our 38-yer marriage. He was somewhat critical, kind of sarcastic, a little controlling, sort of demeaning, and maybe he tended to be distant and disconnected at times.  I mean, really, how connected can you be when you travel 50 to 75% of the time?  I think our marriage worked well because he was gone so much.  We really only saw each other on the weekends, and Sunday he was gone most of the day taking care of church responsibilities. With the limited time I had to spend with him, I didn’t see these darker sides of him all that often. Until…

About 15 years ago he started going through a series of job losses.  One right after the other.  Every two years he was either losing a job or just looking for another one.  Just because.  He was restless. Bored. Or so it seemed.  The worst sides of him also came out, or I saw them more often, because he was home more often.  Sometimes for months at a time.  Sometimes for a year or more.  He was with me 24/7. That is when the trouble really started. He couldn’t control his world, so he decided to control mine. Before, what seemed to be a character that was just a little off, became full-blown awful.  I wanted to run and hide from him, most of the time.  Somewhat critical, became critical to the point of meanness.  All his other character flaws intensified as well.  It got to the point that I couldn’t stand to be around him.  So I withdrew. Would you want to be around someone who criticized and nit-picked your every move? No. Me either.

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I am not sure when the cheating began.  I am not exactly sure why it started, or who caused it. All I know is the dynamic between us became the perfect storm. Was he more critical, controlling and sarcastic to me because he was already cheating, or because he was without a job?  I won’t ever know.  He has been less than forthcoming about what he has been doing with other women, and when it started.  So I won’t ever know for sure. But, now, after years of therapy, counseling, and reading about addiction, I can make an educated guess. Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say. He certainly had enough opportunity to cheat.  And chronic job losses is a symptom of addiction.  Before this turning point in our lives he was very stable. He stayed with the same company for over 20 years.

Why am I telling you this?  The reason is simple.  Nobody, and I mean nobody should ever have to put up with being put down…ever.  Husbands are not allowed to talk down to their wives, make fun of them, be critical or otherwise subtly abuse them. Even if they are a fine, upstanding member of the church who has important callings and wears a suit to work.  Abuse doesn’t just happen in low-income families or among blue-collar workers. He may never have to hit you to do you harm.

The sinister side of emotional abuse is that it is rarely seen as abuse.  In order to discount this sort of behavior, it is very easy for a spouse to say to you:

“I was just teasing/joking.”

“Can’t you take a joke?”

“You are too sensitive.”

“I can’t say anything to you!”

“This is just the way I am.”

“Why do you take everything so personally? I didn’t mean it that way!”

As I’ve observed sarcasm in social interactions, I’ve noted that those who use it tend to underestimate its negative effects because they assume that what they say is humorous instead of hurtful. People who use sarcasm often think their targets are too sensitive or naïve when feelings get hurt.7 “She just can’t take a joke,” they say. In more disturbing cases, sarcasm communicates contempt for others and gives people the “dishonest opportunity to wound without looking like they’re wounding.” If someone feels hurt by such sarcasm, the one who made the verbal jab will often respond with something like, “I was only teasing! Lighten up.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Seems benign, right? Not if it is long-term, chronic, on going. Emotional abusers get away with the abuse by manipulating the person they are abusing into believing that they are the problem.  It’s your fault, not his.  He will insist that you believe it is ok to be treated disrespectfully, and that you are the problem to boot!  Not cool!

The Greek root for sarcasm is sarkazein and means “to tear flesh like dogs.”1 One dictionary defines sarcasm as irony designed to “give pain.”2Sarcasm has many uses in our communication: it can convey aggression and insult,3 it can be used to dominate others,4 and it can communicate contempt and anger.5 Not all sarcasm is intentionally sinister, but it has a hypocritical edge because it requires us to say the opposite of what we mean. Some use it for humor, but it often damages our relationships because it leaves our friends and family doubting our sincerity and confused by what we say.  ~Gordon B. Hinckley

I allowed my husband to treat me this way. I admit it. Mostly, because I couldn’t how to articulate how his constant talking down to me caused me to feel in any meaningful way, at least not in any way to that would get him to stop.  Because I didn’t set good boundaries about how I expected to be treated at the beginning of our marriage, I sent unspoken messages to him that it was ok for him to talk down to me.  Familiarity breeds contempt.  So when life got tough, and his behavior got more critical, I had nothing in place to protect me from the effects of addiction on his previous flaws. I learned that when there is a disconnect in the integration between words and actions, there is going to be problems when life brings deep challenges. Does this make any sense?

“I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Standing up for yourself, setting boundaries, and expecting respect, are all healthy for a great marriage!  NO ONE, deserves anything less that the best from their spouse. Don’t accept anything but the best from your spouse.  Anything less, is abuse.  Being married does not give a spouse the license to treat the other one badly!

Everyone has bad days.  We all make mistakes.  There are times we say mean things.  This should be the EXCEPTION not the RULE.  If it is the rule in your marriage, you are probably  experiencing abuse. If your husband is treating you in a disrespectful way, over a long period of time, then it is up to you to set some boundaries and raise expectations for how you expect to be treated.  Don’t allow anything less, even if he is active in church, holds leadership callings, has family prayers and scripture study, or keeps up appearances.  Abuse is abuse. Even if it is dressed in a suit.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

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