19 April 2013

Is Deliverance nigh?


I get to write about hope.  I get to write about hope!

Both Pete and I rememeber hearing or reading somewhere

How will I know if my husband is in recovery? 

He won't shut up about it.

I went through that phase.  Over a year ago I went through my zealous recovery where I felt like I couldn't get enough.  I talked about it to Pete non-stop.  Pete hated it.  He felt like it defined our lives.  He was still reluctant to acknowledge that the "problem" in our marriage necessitated the response I was giving it.  He resented all the attention, even obsession, I had with all things recovery.  He usually just listened quietly while I pontificated about my many insights and epiphanies.  But once in awhile he expressed his frustration that he felt like it was all I ever talked about.  I didn't really care, I was in it deep and loving it.  Eventually I backed off from sharing everything with him, and eventually I backed off of recovery in general.  It was discouraging and my initial flame of enthusiasm and motivation was burning out.

Last night Pete and I had a conversation that was the antithesis to the horrible, repeated conversation we've been having for months.

In place of blame-shifting, minimizing, victimizing and a general lack of empathy, there was empathy.  And personal responsibility.  And genuine remorse.  And honesty. 

Gun-shy and nervous, in the dark of our bedroom, I tentatively expressed an idea.  I was still unsure if any minute the conversation would turn and he would go back to being defensive.  But I timidly tested the waters.

"I feel so relieved that we both understand that the sexual problems in our relationship aren't my fault."

"I'm sorry" was all he said for a minute. 

Pete used to say he was sorry all the time. Until at some point along the way either I screamed at him that his words were hollow, or he just realized that those words were grossly inadequate as consolation to my pain.  Regardless, he quit saying it.  When he said it last night it was the most genuine and profoud apology I've heard in years. 

We talked more.  He owned more.  I was relieved of a huge burden.  I couldn't stop smiling.  I fell asleep smiling.

Last Friday night Pete and I went to dinner.  Across the table from him I started to chuckle. 

"What's so funny?" He asked. 

"You won't shut up about recovery." I said. 

I'm not even going to put any disclaimers about what the future may hold on my hope. I'm just going to let it shine brightly before me. 

But you don't have to take my word for it.  Read about Pete's recent and raw recovery here.

17 April 2013

Utah Coalition Against Pornography

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?  I've never had a guest poster before, but Vauna reached out and I feel confident in her preventive efforts against pornography as well as her efforts to assist those whose lives have already been afflicted.  Here is her bit.

The corruption of the best thing is the worst thing.

This is why we despise porn. God gave us a natural desire to love and be loved totally, to have a committed relationship that satisfies both spouses emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Pornography twists that hope into the opposite experience with no place for love, but only using others for self-serving physical gratification.

Pornography turns bodies into commodities for sale and sex into a spectator event for entertainment.

It is alarming to see how perfectly pornography is designed to divide men from women, husband from wife, parent from child, and people from God.

This incredibly destructive tool of evil causes family ties to disintegrate and isolates people with selfishness, secrecy, and shame. It creates loneliness, not love and friendship.

Pornography changes how people think about others and how they treat them. Everyone in society is affected.

These are some conclusions that motivate my efforts to push back. I work all day with two anti-pornography nonprofits, Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP) (link: www.utahcoalition.org) and Women for Deceny (link: www.womenfordecency.org). People ask if I get discouraged being involved in this issue. Pauline Kezer explained how I feel: “When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”

In spite of the dark power of pornography, I feel bright hope that we can beat this in our own lives and homes by working together and sharing what we learn. I found inspiration when I attended the last two conferences sponsored by UCAP, and recently became personally involved as the director. On May 18, 2013 we will gather together and hear from some engaging and expert therapists and anti-pornography activists. Several of the sessions will focus on pornography issues in marriage.

There are many online resources and conversations going on about the destructive nature of pornography, but every once in a while it is so great to meet with others who care in person, and feel that connection and support. I invite anyone who is near Salt Lake to join with us at the conference. You can learn more and register here (link: http://www.utahcoalition.org/content/?page=98).

Everyone who is touched by pornography in any way experiences a loss of love in a world where only love brings happiness. I believe that ultimately the power of love will overcome the pain of pornography.

Vauna Davis, Director of Utah Coalition Against Pornography and Communications Director at Women for Decency.

15 April 2013

Use Your Voice


The FCC is considering a policy change that would relax it's enforcement of "female frontal nudity" on network television. 

While I feel strongly that it is my responsibility to moderate my children's tv exposure and I am obligated as a parent to be aware and involved in their tv viewing, I am concernced for the millions of children whose parents aren't fulfilling that responsibility, and for the times when what my children see on network tv is simply out of my control.  Heaven knows I don't want to see a generation of sex addicts who began as innocent kids bombarded with unsolicited images of women's breasts.  (#feartactic, #fallaciousargument, #idon'tcare)

Anyway, the FCC is taking public opinion through the end of the month.  Submit your complaint here or read more about it here.

14 April 2013

The Cycle

Ordinary Time:

In the Catholic church there are two seperate periods of time made up of several weeks, that in fact constitute the majority of the year.  These periods are called "Ordinary Time."  They are the weeks in between the celebrated parts of the year. (Easter, Christmas, Passover, Lent, etc.)  They are seasons of neither feasting or penance. 

The largest part of Pete's (and mine by association) addictive cycle is ordinary time.  It is chaotic dinners with our young brood, Friday night dates with sushi or mexican.  Our ordinary time is full of conversations about how to handle our six year old wetting the bed or if its time to buy a new minivan.  We work together on mediocre landscaping and refinishing furniture.  We laugh and watch Neftlix with bowls of popcorn.  We have sex and I talk to him late into the night until he can't keep his eyes open. 

Scott P. Richert says

"Many people think Ordinary Time refers to the parts of the Church year that are unimportant. But nothing could be further from the truth."

So goes our ordinary time.  It is the brick and mortar of our marriage. 

PRT- Pre-relapse Tension:

Another, less used, term for PMS is Premenstrual tension. We are all familiar with the atmosphere of PMS. 

"Say or do the wrong thing and I'll bite your head off." 

Ordinary time evolves into PRT time for Pete.  It's walking on egg-shells and general grumpiness.  It's during this time that Pete and I have that same bloody conversation that has become a fixture in the cycle.  Pete used to get really angry during this time.  But he's made progress, and even though the same elements are there (blame, victimization, minimizing), he rarely raises his voice at me. 

I thought this quote about PMS was appropriate.

"PMS is better thought of as an aggressive messaging service, our body’s way of trying get our attention to make changes and get rid of things that don't sustain or suit us anymore."       

(Yes. I just compared my husband's addictive behavior to PMS.)

It's during this time that I find myself thinking

"Oh just do it already.  Just get your fix so we can move on to the good phase."


I don't mean fixing like repairing, I mean "fix"-ing like indulging in an amount or dose of something craved.  It's a made-up verb for a slang definition of the noun "fix." (That was a waste of your time. I should have just called this phase "Relapse.")

Call it whatever you want.  Slipping, acting out, lost battles, lust-fest, binge, all of the above. 
This phase isn't pretty either.  Pete is discouraged, irritable, anxious, physically distressed.  It's ugly.

Then, like how Scabs describes eating all the crap you want the night before a diet, so the next morning you feel so sick you are motivated to start fresh, he hits bottom. 


This is the good phase.  Or at least it used to be.  Now I'm jaded, and rather than being genuinely grateful for this period, I exploit it, and turn Pete into my humble and subservient slave. 

Let me be clear that Pete is not violent toward me. But my counselor pointed out that he lives out the Honeymoon phase similarly to the way an abuser does. 

During this time Pete is extra helpful around the house, remorseful and kind, patient with the kids.  He does dishes and changes diapers with enthusiasm.  He attends group meetings, works recovery steps, visits with the bishop and reaches out. 

According to the cycle of violence, the honeymoon is an opportunity to compensate for the misbehavior.  But Pete explained it to me differently.  He says during all the other phases, he feels emotions building up, but does not cope with them appropriately.  Acting out with pornography and masturbation is his way of releasing, purging and medicating his feelings.  Totally unhealthy and inappropriate? Yes.  But it does get him to a place where there are no more bottled up resentments or festering frustrations.  It makes him emotionally capable of being compassionate and unselfish, where he isn't capable of being during the previous two (three?) phases. 

But, this story is no mystery.  Ordinary time ensues.  And then tension.  And then more medicating.  'Round and 'round.  Each phase can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.  It is totally unpredictable it its consistency.  It makes me crazy. 

11 April 2013

Crisis of Faith: Part III

I can always count on Clive to put me back on track. 

Start from what you DO know they say. 

"Hold the ground you have already won" says Elder Holland. 

I am absolutely certain that I am more than the sum total of my parts.  I am more than flesh and bones.  I am a soul.  I am also certain that there is a divine creator of my soul.  A Heavenly Father.  The architect of my being.  My doubts lie in my connection to my creator and my understanding of his involvement in my life.  I realize that if I want to communicate with him, I have to communicate on the level of my soul.  Spiritual communication might be an appropriate term.

Despite my effort to gain an intellectual understanding by carefully gathering indisputable scientific evidence to irrefutably prove that God is real, I have missed the mark. 
“The idea that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue.”

I’m going to have to acquire a knowledge of the reality of God, through spiritual means.  This is both discouraging and frightening, because I don’t trust my spiritual capabilities. 

But if God is going to speak to me, and teach me, and give me sure knowledge, it is going to be through my soul.  My brain and intellect can help me sort through and discover truth, by it will be my soul that confirms it.  This means that I can do what I want to do most, I can read and study. That is where I am good.  But it also means that I must do what I do least, where I am weak, and that is listening.  Listening with my soul. 

“God is and can be known only be revelation.  He stands revealed or he remains forever unknown.”

There can be only one source for the answers to my questions.  Personal revelation.  Period.  Bam.  That’s it.

10 April 2013

Blogging late at night is not a good idea


Nothing good happens after midnight, my dad would say. 

I would add to that, nothing good happens after midnight particularly after watching four hours of tv drama.  An overdose of TV sitcoms makes me start to think of my life in terms of plot lines with characters full of angst and turmoil. 

To top it all off, I got on Facebook and read a few "real life" blogs.  My nephew is a few months younger than my oldest, and he is thriving in gymnastics and taking piano lessons, my sister reports on the family blog. 

I've done a pretty good job of avoiding self-pity the last few months.  (It's all relative.)  It used to be one of my biggest vices but I'm working on it.  Tonight I crawled in bed and tears of self-pity rolled down my cheeks. 

"Are my kids missing out on life because I've hunkered down? Am I so totally absorbed in my recovery, or lack thereof, that I'm depriving them of extracurricular activities?

Why do I have to deal with this, and my sister doesn't? Why does she get to spend hours at meets and recitals but I'm determined to isolate myself because I'm trying to find some emotional safe ground?"

As you all know, another vice of mine is validation.  And here I sit shamelessly seeking validation. 

It's hard. 

It's hard to drop all the fun stuff in life to try to save your marriage. 

It's hard. 

Now I'm going back to bed, and hoping that things look better in the morning. 

08 April 2013

Crisis of Faith: Part II


I try to just tell the obnoxious voice of Cynicism to “get thee behind!” 
It’s Satan for sure, planting these thoughts in my brain. 
But now that the doubts have really settled in, and I am wondering if God is real, that answer is not satisfying.  If there is no God, there is no Satan. 
So how does one go about discovering if God is real?  The quandry that most haunts me is what exactly is "divine intervention?"  If God is real, does he intervene? And if he always intervenes, if he takes control of all things, what IS he point of prayer? Or does he selectively intervene? And if so, how can I know when he HAS intervened?

The idea occurred to me to write a gratitude journal, to recognize God's hand in my life.   But this is a frustrating effort.  It is easy enough to make long lists of my blessings.  I have many blessings for sure.  But where is the proof that they come from God?

One night I was talking to Pete about all this.  “Just ask” he said.  But I know I can’t.

I can’t ask because I’m terrified about what it will mean if he doesn’t answer.  It’s not that I think that if God doesn’t answer me, it means he isn’t real.  It just might mean that he isn’t really involved in my life. 

So for now I don’t ask.  Or I ask half-heartedly, hoping for some answer but being able to quickly explain it away if he doesn’t answer.  In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, I sit in the dark room, waiting for someone to flip on the switch.   

What I do look for are signs that he is real.  And I see them sometimes.  I see them in faces.  I hear it in the lyrics to a Disney song. (Because people, that's the Pandora station we listen to around here.)

"I can show you the world, shining shimmering splendid.  Tell me [Jane], now when did you last let your heart decide?"

Heart? Decide? No way.  All important decisions are made with careful intellectual consideration after extensive study and adequate research.  Heart? Do you take me for a fool? I want PROOF!!!

A guy walking down the street falls into a dark and deep hole.  The walls around him are steep and high.  He calls out for help.

A doctor walks by and hears his plea.  The doctor writes a prescription and tosses it down into the hole. 

The guy calls out for help again and a bishop walks by.  The bishop writes a scripture on a paper and tosses it down the hole.  The guy is discouraged and hopeless.  He calls out for help again.

A friend walks by and hears his cries.  The friend jumps down into the hole.

The guy says to the friend "I appreciate your kindness, but you're an idiot.  Now we are stuck in the hole." 

"No." says the friend.  "I've been in this hole, and I know how to get out."

05 April 2013

My Crisis of Faith: Part I

Yarn Bombing in Germany

One night I went to bed a devout Christian. The next morning I woke up an agnostic.  Without inviting it, disbelief has entered my very being.  I feel like it is peering from behind every corner. 

I am being stalked by cynicism.  Cynicism is sly and stealthy.  He might run in the same crowd as The Fog and various clones of Insanity.  He's here to ruin my peace and rob me of my faith.   

I do not want it. I willfully dismiss it, and yet skepticism creeps into my every thought.  Moments that should be spiritual and inspiring have become negative and suspicious because Cynicism hovers nearby. 

“If God wants me to have a girl, He will send a girl.”  My pregnant friend and mother of two boys says to me over fro-yo. 

“That’s dumb” comes the unsolicited opinion of Cynicism in my head.  “You’ll have a girl if the sperm with two X chromosomes meets up with one of your eggs and fertilizes it.” 

I feel annoyed at the voice of my stalker.
Does God really answer prayers? Suppose my friend prayers for a girl.  And she gets a girl. “ Yay!” She says.  God answered my prayer.

Suppose she gets a boy.  “That’s okay" she says, "God wanted me to have a boy. He still answered my prayer with the baby that was supposed to be in my family.”

So what was the point of the prayer?

Someone tells me that my friend has misconceptions about God, and maybe I have misconceptions about God too. 
Out of nowhere Cynicism crashes my parties and disrupts my prayers.  I feel a little panicked.  Rebellion doesn't suit me.  I've always walked the straight and narrow.  The idea that God isn't real both fills me with horror and shame.  Am I foolish for doing things I've always done, believing things I've always believed, trusting people I've always trusted? 
It has me totally freaked out. Feeling disconnected from God is not just frightening but lonely. 
And yet.. there is a sort of pseudo-freedom that comes with apathy.  Singing songs at the top of my lungs and shouting the cuss words without guilt is all cool if God isn't real.  Right? 
One thing is for sure.  I'm going to find my way out of this, and I'm never going back. Glossed-over, superficial answers will not satisfy me.  I want the real deal.  I want the truth. 
A friend sent me a link to this blog post which contains the following words. 
"In the broken down moments, the moments of previously unfathomable distress and despair, in the moments where all our best selves can think to do is pray more earnestly, we have a choice. We can ruminate on what a well intended teacher spouted off in a thoughtless moment that now seems sickeningly saccharine. We can delve into the areas we all have of our testimonies that are yet green, perhaps dark, underdeveloped or unexplored. Or, we can reach for light, for truth, for stability and safety. This is not some desperate act of a delusional, wounded being to lie his way into a false sense of security. It is an act of clarity and incalculable courage, commendable and brave. We can reach for God and watch brilliant truth resonate it's way into our souls, one moment at a time, luminescent and satiating."
I'll be damned if I don't get there. 
(Haha. That was kinda funny.)
And I'll be damned if Cynicism survives the journey, weak and pathetic as he is.   

03 April 2013


Warning: Impulsive and explicit material.  Don't be suprised if this post is gone tomorrow when I regain my senses.

They're building a breastaurant in a city nearby me.  I want to sit outside at the construction site and chat with the women applying for positions.  I would say

"Hey.  I know you are smart, kind or funny. I bet you are sensitve, strong or clever. You are not just a pair of boobs or a sexy body whose purpose is sexual stimulation.  Do you really want to serve beers and erections for your livelihood?

Maybe you're just like me.  Maybe you look for validation at every turn.  You feel like your beautiful body, your God-given (or surgically enhanced) breasts feel like your best quality.  But they are not.  Let's go to lunch.  Let's talk about what we really are.  Let's talk about our femininity and our insecurities.  Let's talk about what we have to offer the world, and the men in our lives, besides just a vagina.

But don't let them reduce you to an object.  Don't let them perpetuate the myth that you are only as valuable as your bra size. Don't let them use you and don't check the best parts of you at the door."