30 October 2011

Insight part 1

I am fortunate, even in this difficult experience, that my husband is anxious for recovery and his addiction has not developed to infidelity or other painful manifestations.  But many other women dealing with this or other issues have chosen the path of divorce, and today I had an insight regarding this choice women must make.  I have a friend recently divorced and today I imagined her saying this to me.

"You want me to tell you what awful things my husband did to cause me to leave him.  You want to understand, or perhaps you are just nosy.  And I know that if I told you the sources of my pain, his hurtful behavior, you would feel sorry for me, your heart would be filled with compassion and you would understand.  You would treat me with kindness, you would be supportive and you would proclaim your friendship and love. 

But it is not fair of you to expect me to tell you.  Even though I no longer wish to be married to him, I still care for and respect him enough to not share his weaknesses/problems/sins with the world, or you.  Your love and friendship should not be conditional upon knowing the evidence so you can be sure for yourself that I've made the right choice.  Can you not support me without forcing me to disclose all the details of my broken marriage? 

Furthermore, suppose there were no awful things.  Suppose I left him because I am selfish and unforgiving?  Does this give you license to with-hold your love and friendship? Perhaps your heart will not be so full of sorrow and compassion for me, but are you not still commanded to love me the same? Treat me the same?"

28 October 2011

Addiction Recovery Group Meetings

I attended my first addiction recovery group meeting this week.  The meeting was for loved ones of addicts, and we met in the room next to the group meeting for the addicts.  It was a life-changing experience for me, and I don't use that term lightly.  I feel like I've learned a lot about judgement and criticism through this whole process, but this meeting took me to a new level. 

In this room, with these women there was no pride, and therefore no shame.  There was no comparing, no criticism, no judging.  No one bothered to pretend they were happy if they weren't, or save face or hide their hurt.  It was real women, totally genuine and exposed.  Instead of insecurity, this room was full of compassion, unity, humility, kindness, acceptance, understanding, empathy and most importantly charity; true Christ-like love. 

Every once in awhile during a relief society lesson or a testimony meeting I have tasted of this love.  But during this meeting my eyes were opened to the way God wants us to view each other and my whole heart was truly full of His love.  The wonderful part is that while the feeling was strongest with the women in the room, I have been able to carry a part of it with me and draw upon it when I feel compelled to form opinions about the choices of other people around me. 

There were many other great things about the meeting and the program.  There is much for me to learn and the program offers many tools and lessons to help in recovery.  If you haven't attended a meeting like this, and one is available to you, I highly recommend it.  I was honestly so nervous I was shaking, but that fear departed so quickly and I am anxious to go back.

Have you been? How did you feel?

25 October 2011

to the young ladies

Dear Young Girl-
I saw your profile picture on Facebook today.  You are 19 years old, you are attractive and your world revolves around boys.  I know you want them to be attracted to you, so you have chosen to wear clothes like this.  Your outfit is just skimpy enough to be provocative, but not over the line, not too immodest for a mormon girl.  You feel "sexy" when you dress this way.  But this is what I foresee for you.
You will meet a handsome young man who likes the way you look.  You will marry and a have a few adorable children.  Then you will discover that your husband is addicted to pornography and lust.  This will break your heart, and suddenly you will loathe "sexy."
You will realize that you are not "sexy", not like the women your husband feels compelled to look at.  And for that matter, you will no longer desire to be "sexy."  You will desire to be loved by the man you chose, just the way you are, with the body you have now after bearing his children.
Protect your virtue.  Respect yourself and demand the boys you date do likewise.  Perhaps then you will attract a young man who does not want "sexy."  Or even if you do, you can be confident that he married you for your true worth and not for your sexual appeal.  Perhaps you will spare yourself this heartache, and you will not look back with regret at the way you advertised yourself as a young woman. 
This is my advice to you.

23 October 2011

press forward

We met again with the stake president and it was another great experience.  I really felt the spirit and I could tell that Pete felt humble and willing to do whatever the stake president had decided.  He extended the calling as elder's quorum president to Pete, and he accepted. 

During the nearly two weeks that this process took place I prayed and prayed for humility.  I've realized my attitude about callings has been so misguided in the past.  A calling is no indication of righteousness.  Of course there is worthiness involved, but God has plans for his children that are deeply personal and individual and forming general opinions of people based on the way they serve in the church is unfair and just plain off-base.  Pete and I were both so taken back by this turn of events, but at the same time there were conversations, events and feelings that made us both realize God is aware of us. 

With the encouragement of the stake president, my husband agreed to attend the 12-Step group meetings.  A group for the spouse meets at the same time and I plan to attend that as well.  We are both apprehensive, but hopeful.  The last few days since our meeting with the stake president I have felt like perhaps this is a turning point for us. 

While it is tempting to think that this is the end of Pete's struggle, I resist the urge to do so.  I feel more like it is another beginning.  The road ahead is still long, but I am praying for fewer obstacles and bumps than the road behind that we have travelled to get here.

18 October 2011

leadership and love

Over a week ago my husband got a call from the stake secretary to set up an appointment with the stake president.  We both were pretty sure it was for a new calling and since Pete was out of town we didn't get to meet with him until Sunday.  It was a painful week.  I felt embarrassed and ashamed that my husband had issues with worthiness.  Pete was anxious because he knew he needed to disclose his struggles.  Our nervousness was compounded by the fact that our stake president is a stern man. 

We met with him during Sunday school.  He called in my husband first, to ask privately about worthiness, and then he invited me in.  As soon as I saw his face I felt comfort and knew that he was going to be kind. 

He was more than kind.  We talked briefly about my feelings and how I was coping.  He said he felt strongly that the Lord wanted Pete to have this calling but needed to pray again in light of the new information.  He asked if he could meet with us again in a few days.  At the end of our visit he became emotional as he warned my husband that he had a good wife and not to "lose" me.   

To be honest, during the visit I was confused why HE was the one who was weeping.  But later on as I thought about it my heart was filled with love and appreciation.  I realized how he really does care about the people he meets with.  His heart probably aches when he hears about more and more couples struggling with this, because he has probably seen firsthand, marriages destroyed. 

It was such a touching experience.  I didn't feel judged, I felt loved.  I didn't feel criticism, I felt concern.  It was a good example to me of how I should be treating others.  It has given me humility as I prepare for whatever the Lord has in mind for my husband.  It is hard not to be disappointed when I think that he might not be worthy to serve in the calling.  And if he does still get called, how is that possible given his proclivities? Either way, it will be another learning experience in this journey.

01 October 2011

Slight Consolation

Although we learn many lessons from our trials, they don't make us saints.  Nevertheless they change us, and give us an opportunity to think more deeply and feel more acutely than we otherwise would have.   At moments this doesn't seem like a blessing when our acute feelings are pain and anguish.  But sometimes I look at others with pity, who can not really taste the sweet because they haven't known the bitter.