Sunday, March 24, 2013

What Might Have Been


How many times have I been triggered by "what might have been?"  Countless times.  How many times have a shed tears thinking about the marriage I thought we should have had... how many times?
I was triggered by this a few months ago and ended up in the Mother's Lounge with tears streaming down my face.
Triggers are so slealthy.  I wish I could plan my bad days so they wouldn't coincide with things like church and mascara.
I'm sure I'll still be triggered by it sometime in the future.
The time that passes between each trigger is getting longer, and the lessons learned between each meltdown are getting more poignant, more sacred, more precious...

I appreciate all of you so much.  I wish we weren't separated by miles and anonymity.  And I even wish we could all meet up and just look into each other's eyes and feel the love and concern we all have for one another... I'm not talking just about the spouses of addicts -I'm talking about the addicts.  The addicts that blog have given me so much.  I've learned so much and felt so much.  Their honesty has made my heart swell with compassion.  Their anger has widened my sense of empathy.  I KNOW anger.  I appreciate honesty.
I feel like the ugly blue Avatar people, "I see you..."

In a recent post by someone battling addiction, he wondered if it were necessary for wives to go through this (being married to someone with a sexual addiction).  And I walked away from the computer wondering.  I can't tell you how much some of your posts make me THINK, people.  I start digging through my soul, picking at my brain, asking question after question after question and coming to all sorts of starting realizations.

Have I mentioned how badly I'd like to hug you all?
I would.

When I first hit my rock bottom, I felt prompted to talk to my oldest bother.  At this point, I hadn't told anyone in my family though I live within a few miles of a bunch of them (parents included).  The thought of opening up to someone seemed extremely daunting, but at the same time, it also felt extremely imperative.  Once my Father in Heaven whispered the name of my brother in my ear, I got out of that empty bathtub, wiped the tears off my eyes, and walked out the front door.
My husband stood behind me, hunched and scared.  "Are you coming back?" He asked, softly.
"I don't know," I answered.
My brother wasn't home, but it was Sunday afternoon so I knew where he was.
Grandma's house.  I pulled into her drive, walked in the house and prayed that the acting skills I'd honed in high school would kick into full gear.
"Hey, there's something going on with my car," I said to my brother, "Would you mind taking a look really quick?"
"Sure," he followed me outside -it wasn't an untoward request. He's a mechanic, just like Dad.
Once we stepped outside, my voice began to shake, "There's nothing wrong with the car, can we go somewhere and talk?"
I'd never talked to my brother like this before -ever.  I mean, I don't think we'd ever hugged or said, "I love you" more than MAYBE 5 times... it just isn't how our family functions.
We went to his empty house, and I melted down.  I told him everything.  I didn't ask my husband's permission to talk about it.  I just DID because I needed to.  After 6 years, I had to talk to someone for ME.

My brother is an amazing man.  Most men are amazing in their own way.
He testified to me about the Atonement, about the power of change, about the miracle of the Savior's sacrifice.
And he cried.  He broke down and cried.
My brother never cries.  The last time I saw him cry was the month after he lost his 9-month beautiful blue-eyed daughter (who looked SO much like him) to a heart condition.  Before that?  Well, he cried when he read Arizona law and found out it was illegal to own an armadillo in our state.  He was 12.
But that day, he was crying.  He wasn't crying about his sweet baby girl, but he was crying because he'd seen the power of real change -the power of change of heart -in a man he'd taught on his mission.  And then he said something I'll never, ever -in all my eternal life -forget.
The tears were gone from his eyes as he said, "I'm scared to think where my testimony would have been if I hadn't lost my daughter."
That's exactly what I said, "What?"
"I thought was I doing good," he said, "We did scriptures every night, church every Sunday, Family Home Evening every week, I prayed, we prayed as a family, I served a mission... but I wasn't anywhere near where I needed to be spiritually.  I used to be afraid of death, of losing my wife of kids -but I'm not anymore.  It happened, and I'm fine.  It's given me more to live for.  If my wife dies, I'll be okay.  If another one of my kids dies, I'll be okay.  It won't be easy, but it will be okay.  I know that now.  I wish I could transfer what I know to people, but I can't.  They have to feel it for themselves to know it."
And then he gave me a blessing that carried me through the next few months of my life.
Obviously, I DID go back home...

And since reading Warrior's blog post, I've been wondering to myself, "WAS this necessary?  If so, why?"
My answer -I'm certain -is personal to me.  It's not a blanket answer that applies to everyone in this situation.
But my answer is -without a doubt -YES.

I could have gone through life without being married to an addict, but I would have never discovered the overpowering effect of fear in my life.
Do you know how disgusting it is to look back on 27 years of life and chalk SO much of my negative experiences off to FEAR?
Fear of others.
Fear of failure.
It makes me want to tear my hair out!  But I'm AWARE now.  Fear will NOT rule the rest of my life.  It will not ROB me of living!
I would have never learned that without my husband's addiction.  I would have never learned myself, come to discover my core, my center, myself...

I would have lived a half-life, content to medicate with chick flicks and brownies.  I would have lived a Life of Coping.

I would have spent my days living as a victim -no matter the situation -because that's how I've always lived my life.

I would have spent my life unable to expand my ability to love: love myself, love others, love the Lord.  Mine would have been a life of sarcasm, criticisms, jealousy.

Could I have been brought to these realizations another way?  Sure, probably.  But I can't envision a trial so all-encompassing so as to bring each of these to my realization at once.  They would have come slowly, through several different trials, and thank GOODNESS they came right now.
I'm 27.  There's still time for me to have children without fear, to teach my children to live without fear... to show them how to experience life without shame, without victimization...

This is the trial I want.  This is the trial I am grateful for.

Because of this trial, I was able to take my lanky, white farm girl self to a zumbathon on Friday night and dance with about 40 other people and truly enjoy it.
I went in my track pants (which were covered in spots of flour from the sugar cookies the kids and I made).  No make-up.  My hair was thrown into the messiest mess of a pony tail... and I had a blast.
I took my kids with me -one bounced around will all the confidence in the world.  The other?  Looked up at me with his big, fearful eyes and said, "Mom, I just want to watch."
Oh, how it made my heart ache.  I KNOW that feeling.
And now I know that the only thing worse that putting yourself out there is the feeling of regret that comes when you sit on the sidelines.
"The rule is... you have to try," I said to him, "You always have to at least try."
Thirty minute later, he was down on the ground doing kick spins and making laps around the ladies trying to dance.
As we drove home he said, "Mom, I fink I have mad skills."

And I smiled.
I felt the exact same way... I had danced with almost no inhibitions, no thought of what others were thinking of me and old tennis shoes and stiff country limbs.  I'm usually plagued with overwhelming fear and worry and so I just... don't participate.  don't go.  don't LIVE.

Fear is losing power in my life.
My "What Might Have Been" Life is looking less like a glorified missed opportunity and much MORE like a bullet dodged.

Does it hurt?  suck?  make me cry?  Yes.
But I WANT it.
Maybe I'm a masochist at heart?  Maybe we all are to some extent... except we don't enjoy the pain.  We just enjoy the sweet, healing, miraculous powers of the Atonement.
It makes us want our trials.

It makes us scared to think where we might have been without them.


  1. VERY nice post!! Without this trial in my life...I would not have been forced to recognize/address my own addictions. Just two days ago, I thought to myself how thankful I am to be addressing my anger my kids get any older! Using the Atonement (in a new way to me) has given me a boost of much needed confidence and calm!

    1. confidence! YES! I'm so glad you said that. That's been one of my greatest blessings through this all... not the cocky kind of confidence, but the comfortable kind: the kind that makes me okay with me and lets me go get the mail without worrying about what everyone thinks of my hair/outfit/car. You are soooo right!

  2. Great post Alicia! You caught how I feel about this trial that I have been asked to face. Does it suck? You bet! But I am also coming to know my Savior, not just know OF him. I am learning to love--real, pure love--for others, myself, and the Lord. I am learning compassion and empathy. I am learning more than anything that I am in need of my Savior and His grace just as much as my husband. And everyone else.

    Thanks again for this post!! *hugs*

    1. Your words ring so true to me. I want to reach out and hug you! You understand me!
      Learning about love has been SO sososososo amazing. It's overwhelming. I'm already getting excited about Valentine's Day next year, haha :)
      Thank you for your comment -it warms my heart.

  3. Wow, what a post. I don't think I'm at that point yet. But it's definitely something I need to think about more, and your post definitely helps give me the courage to do so.

    1. I never, in all my married life, thought I would be grateful for my husband's addiction. I still remember laughing when I caught myself saying in prayer one night, "Thank thee for my husband pornography addiction..."
      It seemed so unreal. But there it is! And my gratitude continues to increase in so many ways -ways I never, ever thought possible.
      I still have bad days (who doesn't?) but the gratitude helps shorten and ease them for sure.

  4. You are awesome!!! This is so beautiful and I felt the Spirit so much while I read. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Just shut up and come visit ;)
      But really... when can we hug in real life?

  5. LOVE this post!

    I am not quite at the point where I am grateful for this trial, but I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned so far. I'm sure the rest will follow suit with time. I can see gratitude for this trial on the road up ahead.

    And I fink we all have some kind of mad skills...


    1. YES! We all do -mad skills are a must in this life, haha :)

      You're wonderful. It seems unreal to think that we'd be grateful for a porn addiction (lust addiction). The Atonement is such a miracle.

  6. You do have mad skills! Thank you so much for this blog. I needed it today.

    1. I love you, woman. I just love you so much.