Friday, December 26, 2014

Blingish

A few weeks ago, I was struggling emotionally -I don't remember exactly why -and I asked Danny for a blessing. 
In it he said that this Christmas would be the best Christmas yet, that there great blessings coming, and that as I continued to simplify my life, I would find more peace.

Hearing that great blessings were coming helped me get through that day.  As I climbed through the passenger side door of our broken Jeep to sit myself in the driver's seat, I remembered... great blessings are coming.  It probably would have helped to chant, "If thou endure it well..." but I didn't.

This Christmas season, and yes -even Christmas day! -have turned out to easily be the BEST I've ever experienced.  There's so many reasons why, but I wanted to stop in today and write about one particular reason.
Yesterday, I experienced a great deal of hope for my marriage and circumstances -more than I have had in two years' time!

Danny has been off work, and while I was concerned about that -how and where he would spend his time, I took things day by day.  Each day he has slept not only in the house with me but next to me in bed.  Each day I gave myself permission to ask him to leave, and each day I made the decision that he could stay.  We went on a date, shopping in the city, and I couldn't believe the peace we felt.
Was it perfect?  Eff no.  I had a meltdown in the middle of Target over spending so much on needed clothes for the kids.
We had agreed to simplify Christmas this year, use no credit cards (though we were fully broke because we'd used all of our fun money to take the family to Disneyland for our 10th anniversary in order to avoid that pain and triggers at home.  Healthy?  I don't know.  Successful?  You betcha.) and stay focused on what really matters.
Anytime I felt myself getting worked up or overwhelmed, I'd re-center and ask God, "Okay, what now?  I'm trying to control today, so forgive me and tell me... what's next?"
It was usually a nap.

The first holiday meltdown was had in the middle of the Target aisles, and this is remarkable for one good and solid reason: I usually don't allow myself to be honest and melt down -especially not publicly.  I was Queen Shove-It-Down!  and I was so proud, so very proud to be so very composed at all times.
But I'm not now.  I'm honest and real and more true to what I'm feeling, even if it's a meltdown over panties and socks.

A few days ago, I was triggered and I melted down again.  Danny gave me space to take a hot bath and then asked, "Did I upset you?"
The answer was yes, and I said it.  I said the word that I KNEW would bring confrontation.
I realize this isn't big for other people, but for ME -it was huge to be honest.
It was beautiful to feel that there was no other agenda for Danny other than LISTENING.
He wasn't formulating a plan to argue back, he wasn't becoming defensive.  He was simply listening to me.
You might call it an absence of the drama triangle, but I like to call it, "seeing Danny get outside of himself and connecting."

As we drove home from the city, I felt that hope and happiness that came from being on his arm, to visiting with him, talking about everything and laughing about nothing.
And then I said something I haven't said in 18 months, "I think I'm ready to wear a ring now.  At least, today I am."
In October, I picked a ring out in an etsy store -it was very dainty, very simple.
I fell deeply in love with the tiny pearl and thought of Anne of Green Gables -how she'd looked forward to seeing a diamond her entire life and when she finally was able to, was disappointed.  It wasn't all it was cracked up to be.  She had a pearl ring instead.
I love that it wasn't trying to impress or prove -it was happy simply BEING.  It seemed to embrace the spirit of simplicity, something I'm finding at my center.  I'm a simple being.
The ring sold soon after I'd found it, and I was grateful I'd screen-shot it on my phone.
"If you'll text me that picture," Danny said, "I can get a hold of the lady who made it."
On the 24th, I woke up and hugged him.  I said, "Too bad I didn't come to the realization earlier that I'd be ready on Christmas day to wear a wedding ring."
"That's what I was thinking," Danny shrugged and we both laughed because life is funny.

Thursday morning, we all gathered around and opened up simple gifts.  I gave Danny an iTunes gift card, some wireless headphones, homemade hair pomade (for his stubborn cow lick) and a personalized sign I designed that made him happy cry.
His gifts from me were wonderful: a porcelain shoe to add to my collection, a moon necklace with sentimental meaning ("what do you want, do you want the moon, Mary?" ~George Bailey).
The last gift under the tree was for me -it was a small box, and inside that small box was a ring box and inside that ring box was THE ring... the beautifully simply ring with a beautifully simple pearl!  I couldn't believe it!

As it turns out, the DAY after I'd found the ring back in October, Danny BOUGHT IT.  He has had the ring for two months, and the timing just happened to be perfect.


I wept, wept, wept and then I beamed the rest of the day.  I had the moon AND the world.

Snow fell last night, and as it sent us all off to sleep, I expressed my feelings to Danny the best way I knew how: wordy, wordy, worderson.
I told him how wonderful it was to see a transformation taking place inside of myself, inside of him, and inside of our marriage, how we were OKAY even when we weren't okay!
I feel at home with Danny -a sense of wonderful safety that I created within myself that somehow birthed this wonderful gift of CONNECTION.
Last night, we picked up a million tiny rubber bandaloom bands and put the 2 year old back in bed 50 million times and I couldn't help but give voice to what I think the Lord might be trying to show me:

I never would have thought that I'd find so much peace and pure joy in living in a broken mess -a broken messy home, marriage, and body.  It seems that all around me is swirling in broken, messiness... and last night I felt so peaceful and grateful.
Would I trade that peace for a newer car?  No.
Would I trade that peace for a bigger home that I actually own?  No.
And would I trade this pearl for a diamond?  Hell no.

I think of Anne and her tribute to her own pearls:

“But pearls are for tears, the old legend says," Gilbert had objected.
"I'm not afraid of that. And tears can be happy as well as sad. My very happiest moments have been when I had tears in my eyes—when Marilla told me I might stay at Green Gables—when Matthew gave me the first pretty dress I ever had—when I heard that you were going to recover from the fever. So give me pearls for our troth ring, Gilbert, and I'll willingly accept the sorrow of life with its joy." -Anne”

Our life is one of accepted failures and joyous victories, of tears of joy and tears of sorrow!  Our life together will be built from mutual respect, no other agenda but to individually ask God what He would have us do.
Will we do it perfectly?  Of course not, that's the most beautiful element to our tapestry.

My life has become about the present -leaving the future to God, I can honestly say that today I'm proud to wear a ring symbolizing my loyalty to Danny.  Today, I feel peace.  Today, I feel joy.  Today I feel fear.  Today, I feel human.  Today, I feel -I FEEL HOPE and JOY -and I will not let the future rob me of my present.
Tomorrow I might, but today I will not.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Sea of Tender Mercies

I read my Step 4 to my sponsor today.

I expected and anticipated a gigantic vulnerability hangover, and what I got instead was... a big, gigantic bear hug from God in the form of a tender mercy.

My counselor likes the apostle, Peter, and I do too.  I really relate to Peter -He loved God so much but was still mortal and still messed up even though he hated screwing up more than he hated Satan (which was a lot.  Is a lot?  I don't know how this all work, tense-wise).

My counselor showed me a picture of Peter in the water he so infamously fell into (I wonder if Peter ever gets fed up with having his screw ups published in the Bible FOREVER and ALL TIME) and he said, "When we have the courage to step out of the boat, God has tender mercies waiting for us."
That's a brave statement.
Because what if I let go of fear and then FALL FLAT?  What if God forgets about me and I drown?  It's completely possible.

But hearing Jed say it... I don't know, something MOVED inside of me and I thought maybe I could give it a try.  You know, LATER.  I took it slow, but as I put my pen to paper and began writing out my Step 4 for the second time in my little life, I found that my Step 4 was already done.  I'd been thinking about it, God had pointed things out to me without me really realizing it in the moment, and my Step 4 poured out of me.  It's kind of gross writing out weaknesses because then I NOTICE them all of the time.
Oh, look, I'm being selfish again.
Oh, look!  I let fear be the boss again.
Dang it... there I go, feeling like a victim and strategically planning manipulation tactics...

But I showed up and I DID IT.  It took an hour and a half of phone time, and a lot of multi-tasking because of a little toddler repeating, "I NEED YOU!" and "HONEY, HONEY, HONEY!" over and over (seriously irresistible, okay?).

After it was done, I went right into teaching a piano lesson and then I read a book to my daughter.  We played with stickers.  I helped my son.  I relaxed a little before attending Enrichment, and you know what?  I didn't THINK EVEN ONCE about my inventory or what my sponsor thought of me, and that's a huge miracle in my life.
Enrichment ended up being surprising sacred tonight.

I had a sacred experience that taught me and reminded me about Christ's love for me.  Please listen as I report:

My husband was my God.  I LOVE other people, and it is SO EASY for me to make them my center.  I, Alicia, needed someone to RIP that trust to shreds, to sabotage it so fully that I didn't turn to any other mortal.  I needed to turn to God, and since I would not do it voluntarily (I thought I had been and in so doing had allowed my pride to blind me to reality.  A sort of, "I'm all good and OTHER PEOPLE need God now" attitude), I had to be compelled.

I know now that Christ's love is beyond words.  I wonder if there are emotions in heaven that mortals simply aren't capable of -and I feel as if Christ's love holds secret emotions that have no mortal word to do them justice.
Christ's love for Alicia is patient... endlessly patient.  His hunger and passion for me will wait for as long as it takes -a lifetime and more.  He DESIRES me.  He SEES me. He sees me in my entirety: my potential and my weaknesses, my character and my temptations, my worries and my joys, my likes and hates.  He takes it all in and accepts it ALL, loves it ALL, embraces me WHERE I'M AT. He is gentle with me because He knows me intimately.  He knows I'm sensitive.  And He guards me FIERCELY.  His love is protective.  Is it possible to be loved like this?  To be loved by a warrior for peace?
Am I worthy?

I'm logging on tonight (this morning?) to simply report that

I AM WORTHY

Because I AM.

Someday I'll look into Christ's eyes and I will match His passion for me with my passion for Him and stand mystified that a love so remarkably deep can be void of sexual inclinations.

In S-anon we read that in our faulty beliefs, we felt sex was the most important sign of love.  And in my faulty belief system, I still fight that old pattern.  It's infuriating and confusing to have my heart at war with my head, but it is necessary for change to occur, and I need change almost more than I need air.

I stand all amazed for me.
I stand all amazed for you.
I stand all amazed that there can be such a love as Christ's.

May this Christmas season bring about a taste of that love in your life is my prayer this very early morning.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

No Filter

I have to be fully honest here about what's gone on the last few weeks.

I've had to log off online media because it's triggering my hopelessness in mankind. 
The sweet girls who just graduated high school and who attend church faithfully who are living double lives they don't think anyone else can't see... but we can.  On facebook, I can see a double life.  When you're checking my groceries and I look into your eyes, I KNOW.  I know about the pictures online, the offers to make videos, the sexting.  As much as I learn about sex addiction, I'm surprised that I'M STILL SURPRISED at who this addiction is touching.

I read articles that really downplay the spouse's pain -as if we simply need to forgive or get divorced.  Sex addiction is not cut and dry.  It isn't clear or easy.  It's predictable, so I'll give it that.

I can't read another article about loss or death right now -there's SO MANY painful stories.  There's so many in need of money, love, time, and help.

I don't want to see Kim Kardashian's oily butt on my newsfeed.

I don't want to see articles about how schools are teaching safe sex to 5th graders.

I don't want to be enraged or hit with pain or cry over situations I can't control anymore.

I had to log off.  I HAD TO.  I feel things SO DEEPLY I exhaust and annoy myself.  My counselor suggested I look into gaining education on being a highly sensitive person, and while I definitely am highly sensitive when it comes to FEELING EMOTIONS, I am not sensitive in any other way.  I thrive with noise and crowds.  I don't mind smells (when I'm not pregnant).

I'm needing a lot of help these days, and I hate that.  I've spent SO MANY YEARS just being TOUGH.  I've dealt with this addiction for TEN YEARS.  I've handled it.  I've managed.  I've been treading water, keeping my head just above the surface -taking on the world and doing it well, then feeling immediately resentful of everyone asking me to do ANYTHING.  I turn from empowerment to victim repeatedly.  It's a dysfunctional cycle that serves me well, and I'm productive and fruitful from the outward glances.

But GOD DOESN'T WANT THAT ANYMORE.
God doesn't want me treading on the water.  He wants me walking on it -toward Him, toward everything that is serene and calm... rising above the murky water.

He's taking sweet care of me, and it's overwhelming.  I feel like a starving, freezing pioneer out on the plains in the throws of a sacred rescue effort.  My life and salvation JUST MIGHT be saved simply on the prayers of those faithful, amazing people who love and care deeply for me. 

I've been given food, house cleaning, clothes, listening ears and love.  God has POURED out support and all at once I feel grateful and weak -I've never been such a charity case before.  I pray that God will call on me to send out to rescue someday that I might use whatever means necessary to build up and support those who have NOTHING left in them but the will to do The Next Right Thing that God has for them to do... to be able to serve them, feed them, and help them fully without judgement.

God is taking special care of me.
I don't know why, and as I do my step 4 inventory and make a list of my weaknesses, I REALLY don't know why.  I am prideful and undeserving.

Surely I don't need the turkey my neighbor gave me -surely if I just managed my own life better I could provide for MYSELF and someone else MORE IN NEED could benefit from the turkey *tread tread tread*
Surely I don't need house cleaning help.
Surely I don't need a box full of gifts for my children from a Secret Santa. 
Surely?
*tread tread tread*

I have taken, taken, taken.  God has given, given, given. 
I am not worthy -I have done NOTHING TO EARN THIS, and God has taken me in His arms and simply said, "Alicia, you don't have to manage the world's pain anymore.  You don't have to read articles that hurt, you don't have to serve the world... you just have to heal.  And you are hurting deeply right now.   But you're being brave.  You're choosing to hurt on the way to healing because THAT'S what healing takes... it takes you putting down your Cape of Toughness and putting on my cloak of meekness and letting yourself FEEL, HURT, and HEAL.  So heal, daughter.  I'm patient.  I love you simply because you are mine.  Your worth is beyond measure simply because you are you.  Rest.  Let me furnish your turkey.  You have healing to do.  Come, follow me."

You guys, I am speechless and overwhelmed.
God is so good and He knows me.  ME.  And I am small! 

So don't give up.
Keep going.  Keep reaching for The Next Right Thing.
Thy pain and afflictions shall be but for a moment.

Stop treading and rise above the water.  Christ is there, waiting for you to choose Him.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Once Upon a Dream

A few nights ago, we cashed in a free rental and watched Maleficent.  I've been dying to see it (not dying enough to drive to the theater, apparently), and I loved the lines in the movie that matched up with the classic -by far my most favorite Disney movie.

My grandmother loves to remind me how extraordinary it was that a four year old girl could quote movies and do all of the voices.  She swears my Maleficent was a dead ringer for the real deal.
"You wore my Sleeping Beauty VHS out," she chuckles.

During those years, I lived blissfully sure of myself.  My cheeks and life were full of juicy color.
Each day was a gift of possibility: I could make of it ANYTHING I WANTED and make ANYTHING I WANTED.  I picked dandelions and made crowns, followed cracks in rocks as if they were treasure maps leading to an ancient treasure left by an ancient pirate, danced when I felt the urge, sang when I felt I should sing, and cried when my insides needed to come outside.

Life wasn't perfect, but I didn't try and take care of it.  I was too young to bother with cares and worries.  I couldn't control anything or anyone but myself, and I was content with that.  I let my parents fight the dragons.

In my teenage years, I began to doubt my parent's ability to take care of my life.  They faltered and broke my trust because they're human.  That was the worst realization of my entire childhood: my parents were mortal.  My core flickered and nearly extinguished, but I brought it to life in time to take it to college with me.  When my core -my gut, my heart, my soul -spoke, I listened.  When I listened, I would GLOW.  There was an inner light that could not be kept hidden.  It drew my husband to me.

After marriage, mixed messages were sent -it was like walking the halls of my high school again.  I had been SO SURE of what I thought was right, but messages were sent from every angle that made me doubt myself.  In time, I began to believe the doubts.

FEAR is the ultimate Core Slayer.
The more fear I felt, the dimmer my core burned.  One day I woke up and couldn't access myself at all.  I could feel something missing -a hunger -but I had lost touch with myself to the extent that I couldn't even decipher what my own soul was calling for.

Other people's compliments were like the bread crumbs back to the cottage.  If they said my shirt looked nice, I wore it more.  If they liked my hair styled a certain way, I used that style more.  I began doing something I hadn't done since my core flickered in high school: copying other people.

While my core slept, jealousies took over.  Pride, fear, and hurt reigned.  Danny's addiction hurt me SO DEEPLY but I didn't know what to do about it, so I asked other people.
I felt pressured: pressure to be beautiful, clever, witty, skinny, stylish, fit.  I felt pressure in my marriage to be more... everything.  As I wrestled in turmoil, my core rested peacefully in the background.

Outer validation took the place of inner confidence, and the only time I glowed was at the compliments of others.  Blogging became my best friend, and I blogged incessantly.  I thrived as much on comments as I did on milk and bread.

As the addiction got worse, so did my appetite for performance.  I wanted to perform better sexually, be a better housewife, and I CRAFTED THE ENTIRE WORLD OVER.
I made sock monkeys and people loved them.  I crocheted and people loved it.
People loved what I DID and I felt validation, so I performed more and more and more...

My core still rested peacefully in the background.



I was afraid that if I WERE to look beyond trying to be sexually acceptable (whatever that means), I would lose the ONE thing I based my worth on: outer validation.

I would say that I didn't care what others thought, but I DID, no matter how badly I wanted not to.
I looked at magazines and wanted to believe I was reading lies, but they all felt true to me... photoshop was reality to me.  If anyone told me it looked fake, I'd agree... but only because I wanted to believe it.  My heart ached and wanted to burst when busty women with clear skin smiled at me at every register and I knew I wasn't enough... and if I wasn't enough sexually, what was the point of life anymore?
The success of my marriage seemed to hinge on my ass, and I hated and believed it which usually meant I stress ate my way home from the grocery store.

Each time my desire to be accepted for my sexuality and looks was validated, it deepened my faulty belief that I was only worth so far as others said so.  Each time I felt discarded socially, I blamed it on my lack of sexual acceptability.  And the belief pattern ran deep, deep, deep... making my cattle trail to the sewer pond.

Breaking that cattle trail has taken YEARS.  There have been times I've gotten off and wandered back on without realizing it.
Working outside of my home has been a real testing and training ground, and I've had to face this faulty belief A LOT.  I've had to call my sponsor and give voice to it, tell her I spent an afternoon wondering IF I was enough because the men that come into the shop decide I should be so.


A breakthrough is happening in my life right now. 

Those magazine covers have lost their luster, and I beamed with glee when my 7 year old daughter pointed to cosmo last week and shouted, "LIES!  Legs aren't that skinny really!"

Having Danny out of the house has really opened up a new freedom for my new life.  I shave WHAT I want to WHEN I want to IF I want to.  I dress how I want, without wondering if I'll be pretty enough to be noticed and loved.  I don't work out unless I feel like it needs to happen.  I do housework when I feel it needs to be done, not because I'm afraid that Danny will think I'm lazy and unproductive if I don't.

Life is beginning.
There is a world of LOVE flourishing under the upper-crust of fear.

And as I uncover my core and realize and embrace my individuality -I am breathing life into my own Sleeping Beauty.  My sleeping core has been dormant, and God is giving me true Christ-like love.

True love is given to me from God, and it is evident in the quiet, still moments that surround me daily.  

The color is coming back in my cheeks.

I can see deeply now -I finally have access to the world where women know their true worth and can access their own truth and stand firm in it.

Knowing my worth means I can perceive when others know my worth as well -when I'm seen as opposed to judged, regarded or ignored.
I don't feel like I need to fight for Danny's attention, love, or approval.  What a stark difference to the life I was living two years ago.

I do feel like being honest when I feel disconnected -when I don't feel seen.  I ask for more space when I need it, and I stand up on my own two feet and move forward with surety.

Today I need to ask God about some stuff and then I'll ask myself about some stuff.
After that, I'll move forward.

I've been sleeping for too long.  Much too long.  Time to join those who are living full and juicy lives full of children and blankets and bare feet and s'mores around a fire fueled by cosmo magazines.

True love is the greatest spell-breaker.

Today I can hand life back over to God -just as I used to trust my parents with my life when I was running amok on the dusty ranch trails in pink footed PJs with a crochet tail pinned to the back (I was the pink panther, thankyouverymuch).
Today I can be whoever I want to be and trust God with the dragons.  For though coming to grips with my parents' mortality was one of the harshest experiences of my life, so is uncovering God's immortality -His unfaltering and unfailing loyalty -one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.  My hope is as great as my loss.
The fairy tale that I once latched onto as a small child has proven to be a sort of type and shadow for the life I'd yet to lead.  Seeing it play out in front of my own eyes is surreal and comfortably familiar all at the same zany time.

I know now how precious my core is, how brave it is to trust God with the evil surrounding me, and how an entire nation rejoices when a woman realizes herself again.

True love is the greatest force on earth... imagine my surprise finding it within.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hard to Live With

As a kid, I was thrilled about school.  My heart would start pumping faster when the teacher would hand out exciting assignments -seasonal coloring pages, art projects, history reports.  I loved my teachers, library time, and recess.






In fifth grade, all of that changed.  While I still found a thrill in learning new concepts and discovering history, my teacher hated me.  During Parent/Teacher Conferences he said to my parents, "I feel for you -she must a difficult one to live with."

My mom was confused.  Difficult to live with?
"She's our easiest one," she replied.
Hearing my mom tell me (years after it happened) that I was easy to live with surprised me.  I'd never stopped to think about it, but hearing her say that I was an easy person to live with brought me immense relief.
The truth is, I love giving. LOVE it.  I love making things and giving them away.
When I was dating Danny, I gave him small, thoughtful gifts.  When he was dealing with a cold sore and canker sores, I made him a "Happy Mouth Kit" full of Lysine and Carmex and all kinds of goodies -I wrote a poem to go with it, and he saved it.  He still brings up how awesome his kit was.

I gave my all in my marriage.
We know what happened there.

And now?  I'm really difficult to live with.  Right now, I'm short-tempered and vocal.  I don't give Danny much of anything except meals and hugs and kisses... and a hard time.

I'm truly giving him a hard time.  I'm not trying to.  I'm just DIFFICULT right now.

I'm working on being accepting of myself as I behave in ways I used to judge people for.  It's humble pie and crow all in one terrifying dinner.  It's super gross.

I am finding that I'm less apologetic -not in a prideful way, but in a "I don't need you to be okay with me" kind of way.  I guess that means I'm officially in the "Ice Castle" phase of my Queen Elsa transformation.

The bright side of this is actually giving me a lot of hope: despite how hard and confusing things are (and scary!), I am spending MUCH LESS time gossiping, worrying about OTHER PEOPLE, and wondering what they think of me.
While I still occasionally grapple with feeling like people think I'm the village idiot (or thinking rather harshly that THEY MOST CERTAINLY ARE), I'm starting to find myself naturally more interested in bumble bees, new ideas, and hauling bits of nature into my house to decorate. 
I'm decorating my house in the way my gut tells me to, and I'm so happy with how it's coming together.  I'm planning a Christmas stripped of crazy and full of simple.  I'm bringing back my natural gift to GIVE.  I ordered a ukulele and some jungle bells.  Our family gathers around the piana to sing Christmas Carols -we're practicing for our big caroling night... we're tossing out the idea of perfectly pretty cards and goody plates. Because
1) No family pictures this year for reasons I think you'll understand and
2) I'd rather give something like a song than a cheeseball

I feel like my gut is in a training circle.  It's sensitive and borderline bratty -speaking up about the smallest things.
It wants the turkey with no tomato but extra lettuce, even if it irritates the chef.
It wants less clutter, even if it means upsetting the kids.
It wants more space, even if it hurts Danny. 

Right now, I'm difficult to live with.
But GOOD THINGS are happening.

So pray for Danny as his wife comes back to herself and asserts her individuality by tearing the house apart and making him sing Christmas carols in early November.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Kraken


My battles -my most hard-fought and bloodying battles -are fought with my fears. I have one gigantic fear that rules with an iron fist: The Mother Fear. She has babies that sprout from her like long tentacles. I can whack and battle the tentacles whack-a-mole style, and it doesn't bother me much. But when The Kraken itself is awakened, I know I'm in for at least 3 days of warfare.
I am so afraid.
SO SO AFRAID.
That at some point, I'm going to make a mistake. In this instance, I'm afraid of staying married (it might be a mistake!) and I'm afraid of getting divorced (it might be a mistake!).

What if I mess up? 
What if I do this wrong? 
What if?

Monday morning, a trigger awoke the Kraken and I spent all day wondering about my current state of limbo. I received crazy amounts of outside advice from people who usually only speak to me to find out what time of day it is.

"Make a decision and go with it. God doesn't want you in limbo. Staying AND going could both be right -just pick one and GO."
"Be compassionate for him. Try and forgive."

These voices only compounded my fear that I was IN FACT totally and royally screwing this all up.

I prayed to God for help.
Pleaded.
Screamed.
The violent sea grew more treacherous by the hour, and I knew God could calm it and me. But there was nothing in those prayers -just silence. A silent God, dangerous water, and a sea monster.

I only want to do what God wants me to do.
Please, GOD, what is the answer? 
Silence. Fear. It was ripping me to shreds.

 I kept very busy with work and teaching lessons and mothering and feeding everyone, and in one "quiet" moment, I opened my browser so I wouldn't have to THINK about the Kraken. As I scrolled through the names on my wall, one popped out at me.
Call her, the thought came. Did I even have her number? I did some digging, and YES, I did. I'd never spoke on the phone with her. We'd exchanged emails before, and though she wasn't well known to me, I'd always felt this woman to be kindred -no hint of Stranger Danger on my end. I texted her, asking if we could talk. We set up a time, and I went back into battle mode until that time crept around.

When I heard her voice, all sense of etiquette went out the window. Instead of niceties, I poured my yuck-ities into the phone.

Should I stay or should I go? 
I'm going to make a mistake, right? 
I'm so scared. 
God is silent, no direction. 
Is He waiting for ME to just MAKE a choice -both ARE right and God is waiting for ME to choose?
Am I doing this wrong? 
AM I LIMBO-ING WRONG?!?! 

Her voice was calm, something I craved amidst the tossing water around me. She spoke truth from experience, and though I can't remember her exact words, I remember her message:
You can not selectively numb. If you are numbing pain and fear, everything -including the good and God -is being numbed as well. God is not silent. 

She confessed to me that she'd felt prompted to call ME a few days earlier but hadn't on account of us not "knowing" each other. "God put your name in my head," she said, "He has not forgotten you, and He isn't silent in your life." Numbing. YES. I've been numbing. I work three hours in the morning and come home to shove lunch in my mouth and take a nap before teaching lessons, and then it's homework, dinner... and inbetween times the house is always dirty, so I can always, always be cleaning.

I don't have time or space to FEEL.
The next day I shared this insight with my dearest piano student -one who is old enough to be my mother and wise enough to be my grandmother -and she said, "Alicia, you have been betrayed.  Your trust has been betrayed, and you. went. numb.  You have to go numb to survive."

My mind flashed back to three years ago, before I became pregnant with my now-toddler, and I was PERFECT.  I was fit, my house was clean, there were freezer meals and fresh linens.  I worked out every day and wore my skinny jeans and aired the house out with PERFECTION.
But really?  REALLY?  I was fully and completely numb.  I was in total control of my own life, and I didn't NEED God because.
I got this.

Danny's life was chaotic and spinning out of control under the surface, but on the outside?  He was RIGID and in control.  My perfectionism lined up perfectly with his agenda.
Clean house.
Warm dinners.
Routine.  Regime.  Rigidity.

I was finally enough.  And yet, I couldn't feel anything.  I didn't care if he looked at porn.  I didn't care if he didn't.  I didn't write much of anything.  And while the house sparkled and shined, my music became dusty and forgotten.

"It's like being in a snake hole," my friend continued, "You're perfect and doing your best.  You look just right and act just right and eat just right and know that SURELY the snake that lives in the claustrophobic, dark hole will never strike at you because you're GOOD and sweet.  But the snake always strikes.  And you always get bit.  The hole is dark.  There is no light and no hope."
My heart wanted to beat out from it's rightful place and fall onto the piano in front of us.
She knows my pain.

In ALL of the outside voices, God had sent me TWO OF HIS OWN VOICES to let me know that
1) I am numbing
2) It's natural
3) It isn't His way
4) He is here for me
5) When I'm ready
6) It's okay that I'm not
7) BE GENTLE with myself

In all my years of being rejected, controlled, manipulated, and lied to, I never ONCE lost it.  I never yelled or screamed or broke or threw anything... because in my broken thinking, ANGER is a mistake.
And I'm PETRIFIED when it comes to making mistakes.

I have a (growing) pile of things I want to burn -ready to scorch them out of my life.  I have a poster covered in my idea of what I've lost in this addiction.  I want to burn in.
I have phrases that trigger deep resentment and pain -I want to write them on a plate and SMASH them.
I want to beat a tree with a baseball bat and swear and shout and shake my fists at God and Danny and say, "THIS. HAS. TOTALLY. SUCKED."

But if I'm too busy, I will never do it and I will never feel it and I will exists in survival mode where things aren't felt or feeled and everyone swirls around me in comfortable chaos.

I shared this with Danny and he offered to get some defensive training gear from work.  He said he could wear it while I beat him with my fists and feet.  I know that isn't conventional, but I do believe it would be healing for me and quite possibly for him.

Most of my dear sister who I would love to have by my side during a big fat burning session live hours and/or days away, but this last week God put someone in my path who lives just minutes from me, and who offers no judgement, only love.  And she approves of fires.

I gathered up my intense week and brought it to counseling Friday morning and dumped it on my counselor.
"Can you just listen for a while... while I talk?" I asked.  He nodded because he's nice, and I shared it all.
The Kraken, the fear, the outside chatter, the monumental phone call, the snake hole, the tactical gear, the fire.
I cried and sputtered out, "I can't feel this.  I can't be angry.  HOW do I let myself LET IT OUT?  Even thinking about it makes me feel awful."

He said, "When someone is physically injured as deeply as you have been emotionally injured, they are put into A COMA so they don't have to endure pain.  Your numbing is natural.  There is a better way, but don't shame yourself for becoming numb.  It makes sense that you did."
He showed me a picture of Peter, the apostle.  Peter had fallen in the sea and Christ was lifting him up.
"Peter didn't like to make any mistakes," my counselor said, "He was asked to step out of his own safety boat and into the unpredictable water.  He succumbed to fear instead of faith and Christ IMMEDIATELY lifted him up.  He didn't wait and let him flail around in the water to teach him a lesson, he IMMEDIATELY saved him."

I stared at the picture and saw my fear in Peter's eyes.
"And Alicia," my counselor said.
"Yeah?"
"The Kraken is imaginary.  Don't forget that part of your metaphor."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

That One Time I Wrote a Poem About Loss

The Buddling

"I see a pretty flower!" The young child cried.
Pointing at a beautiful bud on the road's side.
Down she stooped to pick it up, to claim it as her own.
But her father, intervening, said it wasn't fully grown.

A new day dawned, fresh and full without blight.
The buddling was forgot, put out of Child's sight.
Left to it's own, it thrived and blossomed anew,
Bringing light and joy to all who passed by and through.

When ready to be plucked from it's mothering limb,
The flower was discovered by the young child again.
Eagerly toting home her most beautiful treasure,
She vased it all alone with childlike pleasure.

The day went by and the flower gave display.
Not one petal brought disappoint or dismay.
Though if scrutiny were given on said flower,
There would be found a luster lacking by the hour.

The hours linked arms, giving way to a new day.
The life-giving sun now brought on wilt with it's rays.
Silently it came and touched a stray petal.
It fell overnight without sound, without meddle.

The child awoke and was loathed there to find
Her precious spring flower locked in death's bind.
"Father!" she cried out in panic and in fright,
"Father, my flower began to wilt in the night!"

The Father remarked on the early demise
Of a flower that should've lasted out sunrise.
He studied the vase, hoping to find a cause,
And found in a moment what the trouble was.

"You've filled this vase, with water poor and tainted,
It's little wonder our flower's gone and fainted.
Lift it softly from the poisonous water,
Treat it with love, and careful! dear Daughter."

The flower was lifted and carefully cleansed.
The vase purified as the child made amends.
"I'm sorry, my lovely," she softly repeated.
'Til Father returned with the vase now repleated.

The crisp, sparking water was still and alive.
Our tender, scared flower placed there in to derive.
The child stooped to pluck up the petal now lost,
Realizing her mistake -though mending -came with cost.

But hope was found as the tired flower drank up
Living water that filled it's purified cup.
A new morning dawned and found a new life:
Our Flower stood tall despite the darkness' strife.
 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Reminders

I don't have to physically SEE hurt to allow myself space and time to heal.

I do not need to numb my pain away because FEELING PAIN means I AM HEALING.

I don't have to heal perfectly or fear the set backs that come from making mistakes as I go.  At least I AM GOING.

I need sun.

I need to laugh.

I need simple.

Rest is as much as verb as it is an attitude.

Feed the neighbor's pets tonight.



Monday, September 29, 2014

The Nie Bed

Two weeks ago, my soul was dark.  My life felt dark, and though there was an undercurrent of peace, the top waters of my life were chaotically tossing and heaving.

"I don't want to be married like this," I told my counselor, "I can't be married like this. I am so alone, especially when he's here."

Admitting it out loud is always painful and real.  Hearing words I've only thought is harsh.  Why?  Because I've never been honest like this.  I've never THOUGHT harsh and hard things and then SAID them.

My counselor listened to me and suggested as I work on my own healing, I channel Stephanie Nielson's journey through her change and shift in perspective.
And since I was on an honesty kick, I told him I really, really, really didn't want to read Nie anything.
Ever.

It isn't that I hate HER.  My reasons really have nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.
Stephanie's plane crash happened on my birthday, less than 2 hours away from where I live.  St. Johns, Arizona is about 90 minutes from Joseph City, Arizona.
I read about her story the next morning in the news.  I opened her blog and binge-read with the rest of the world.
I cried a lot. 100% for Stephanie and her pain.
Days went by and I read more.

As a stay-at-home Mormon mother -7 months pregnant with a boy and chasing a 20 month old girl around -her words touched me deeply, and I found myself looking at the world wildly different.
I found myself questioning my priorities and wondering how Stephanie would handle my life.  I tried to be like her, see my life as she saw her own.

But there was one difference between her life and my life.
And it wasn't the plane crash.

My husband is a sex addict.

While I was about to give birth to our second child, I was also enduring daily porn usage by my husband.  My son was born and I found myself reading less and less Nie.
My tears became 70% for Stephanie and 30% for me because her blog had glossy descriptions of her husband's unfailing ability to SEE her.
The ratios gradually flipped, and I quit reading Nie because I didn't want to hurt so much anymore.

When my counselor suggested I turn to her and study her story and life, I felt an old twinge of sadness and I told him I couldn't.  I wouldn't.
But his suggestion never left my mind.  I put my toes in the Nie water by asking a few friends if they'd read her book.  They had.  They liked it.  They weren't a puddle of tears.
I sat on the idea for a few days, and then when I fell sick over the weekend, I jumped into the Nie water.

One-click buy and 60 seconds later, I was curled up with my iPad reading, "Heaven is Here."
I cried a lot, and I cried hard.  I read the book in two days, and it took me over a week to recover.

I hated my counselor for suggesting it.  I hated that my pain wasn't visible.  I hated that Stephanie's husband was patient.  I hated that Stephanie had overwhelming passion for her husband.
I found myself jealously craving her hospital bed and the opportunity to just REST while my family took my kids because I CAN'T MOTHER LIKE MY CHILDREN NEED ME TO.

In the 6 years since my son was born and I'd quit reading Nie, I'd gone from a woman who devoted herself to marriage and home to a mother who worked part-time to save money up in case she had to support herself.
I'm separated from my husband.
He lives in the camp trailer I've affectionately named Dog House and I live in the manufactured home next to him.  Our kids have cried hard tears of fear, and my house isn't clean.
Like, ever.

You can't see my scars, but they are there.  I see them everyday, even if no one else does.

In the week following the reading of Nie, I cried a lot and couldn't WAIT to get my words on my counselor.
WHY?
WHY had he asked me to read about Stephanie?!

What could the wife of a SEX ADDICT possibly gain from reading about a woman with a devoted husband?  Do I have the safety of knowing my husband would stay by my side if I were burned?  I don't.  I really don't.  What I DO have is years upon years of struggling with image to keep up with what kept my husband's interest... a losing battle, and devastating losses have been sustained there.
Christian calls her darling.
He loves her for HER, not what she has to offer.
I cried so hard for myself when I read that book, and the trauma felt was harrowing.

Six days later, I watched a movie about a man and a woman that belonged together but could never QUITE make the connection.  There was always a boyfriend in the way or a pregnant girlfriend or an alcohol problem.  When they finally come together 15 years after they SHOULD have, she is hit by a bus and dies.
DIES.
The movie ended with thoughts about how things could have gone differently if the man had simply made different choices early on, and as the credits rolled at midnight, I found myself just fuming.
I was shaking and angry.

Fifteen years is too long.
So much is being missed.
Stephanie and Christian.
Building lives and homes together...
More kids.
Memories we never made and can't get back.
The FUTURE felt in those first kisses.
Pissed away, pissed away, pissed away.

Before I knew it, I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, pulling my hair back with shaking hands.  I pulled a sweater on and marched myself out to The Dog House.
I woke my husband up and for the first time EVER, I took the honesty I'd tapped into with my counselor and I let it shake all over my husband.
Did I yell?
No, but I didn't feel like I needed to.
Did I cry?
Some.
Did I swear?
Once.
Did I shame?
No.

I told him how mad I was... how OF ALL HE HAD MISSED IN OUR MARRIAGE,
I
ME
ALICIA
was his biggest loss.

I could see my own worth in Stephanie and the fictional woman who'd been hit by a bus.

AS I AM, I HAVE SO MUCH TO OFFER.  Just by being, I brought a WORLD of AWESOME to my marriage and relationship. 
I deserved better.
I unleashed my own self-hate for not standing up for myself sooner, for coddling what I thought was just a little (and natural) porn habit.


I might not have passion for my husband right now, but I have stumbled upon something more important: passion for myself.

Stephanie's painful story taught me how a woman healing from wounds should be treated.  She taught me that it's okay to be irrational and say things you wouldn't normally say.
It became clear to me that my husband could and should be patient with me as I heal, and if he isn't... he needs to go away.
I can't clean my house and teach my toddler Chinese while the homemade gluten free noodles boil on low.
I can make sure we pray.  I can make sure we're honest with each other about how we're doing and what we're feeling.  I can hold my daughter while she tells me about her fears of Daddy not coming back home.
I can listen to my son tell me about the latest Power Rangers episode he watched while I sat through my weekly s-anon meeting online.

In short, I can give myself permission to see the hospital bed I'm in, even if others can't or don't or won't.
What's more: I can begin to see past hurtful words said by others to their own invisible hospital beds.
And like Christian was patient with his healing wife, so to can I work to be patient with those healing around me.

I can stand up for myself as I heal, and love will begin to seep through the cracks made by fear.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Handling the Hurt

I can handle hurt.
Everyone can handle hurt.

There are hospitals filled with people handling hurt. There are bathroom floors littered with people feeling, enduring and processing hurt.

I remember the first time Danny hurt me with sex addiction. I even remember the second time. But the third time? I don't remember a third time.
My self preservation had kicked in.

It was a fool me once, fool me twice scenario.
The first time, I was mad at him.
The second time, I was mad at myself.
The third time I started busting my flat butt to make sure he would never hurt me again. Meaning? I did everything in my power to control him.
If I could just keep him from pornography, I wouldn't hurt anymore.

My need for control had nothing to do with DANNY and everything to do with my intense, overpowering fear that I would feel pain again.

I didn't know it, but I was on a hospital bed continually being infected while trying to simply bounce back from the last infliction of pain.

Losing battle.
Losing, losing battle.
Loss is truly prevalent in sex addiction.

I grappled for years on that figurative hospital bed. I fought and fought and fought to control the infection injections.
I tried policing Danny, giving more of myself  sexually than I was comfortable with being more everything... Skinny, interesting, hot...

And I lost myself, my bloom, my youth, my self integrity.
I lost sight of beams in my own eye, and I lived to find motes among my family, especially with Danny.
Not because Danny isn't good enough.
But because I couldn't handle anymore hurt.
I could not.

I knew deep down that I was about to break, and I was desperate to prevent it. I tried to prevent more hurt, more pain by lining up everything around me to be more gentle, more posh, more accommodating.

I didn't understand how to set or carry out boundaries.
I didn't know that it IS within my power to help myself feel safe, to get myself off the hospital bed o' pain.

Boundaries.

Speaking up and saying I wasn't safe,
I couldn't handle more pain.
I could protect myself from addiction by walking away from it.

I tried SO hard to wrangle addiction like a baby calf, waiting to be branded... Control it, muscle and master it, best it, beat it, and then sell it off for petty cash.
Well, almost like a baby calf...

All I was doing was engaging it.

It was never about Danny hurting me.
I can handle hurt.
Right now, it's about learning to get off the table and let the squirming calf loose while I walk away to somewhere safe, use my tools, and find peace with God.

Fear makes me crazy.
God makes me Alicia.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

War Time Tea Time

On Thursday, it will be 10 years.
Ten years since we said our eternal yes.

Because I've spent the last few years fantasizing about a super fun awesome ten year anniversary celebration, the thought of staying home just seemed like hell.
Going to the temple seemed like hell.
Going away as a couple to celebrate seems fake.
And fake is hell.

So we are packing the kids into a small rental car and driving to Disneyland.

And inside I feel exactly like this:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chasing Son

I wake up with a rejuvenation hangover,
Taking comfort in the ritualistic nature.
Early morning ache.
Sore legs, stiff arms.
I reach my arms to the sky, bring them to my heart.
Namaste.
I reach up to heaven in prayer,
Read words from ancient prophets.
I open my bedroom door.


The white rays of new sun energize.
My capable shoulders take on the world.
Layer by layer.
Wake them up, feed them, pack lunch. Prayers, kisses, frustrated hissing:
GET SOCKS AND DO NOT WAKE THAT BABY.
They board the bus.
Layer.
Breakfast, shower, dress.
Layer.
Baby time. Feed, fuss, change, play, laugh, Lock the door.
Layer.
Babysitter, kisses, worries.
Layer.
Work.
Layer, Layer, Layer.
Phone rings, texts come in.
Layers.

The yellow rays of mid day sun encourage.
Pick up son, finish work, pick up baby.
Lunch, rest, clean.
Bus comes, hello daughter.
Piano lessons to teach, snacks, homework, kids. Homework. Seriously. Kids. Home. Work. Or. Else.
Dinner.
32 layers.
I trade my day clothes for lightweight.
Already the layers feel lighter.
I open the front door.

The golden rays of the sunset cleanse.
They land on my skin,
I absorb them.
I breathe in the gold.
My feet hit the pavement with an eager hunger.
I walk toward the sun.
My steps pick up speed.
I break into a run.
It isn't neat.
It is free.

The layers are falling off.
They so willingly travel to my feet.
I shake them off,
Leaving them in the cracked pavement.
They fall as sweat into the Arizona heat.

My body wants to burst, so I walk.
The golden rays cleanse me.
I breathe.

What I would give! to follow it forever.
I fight myself and turn for home.
Don't want to run now.

I listen, pensive.
Crickets, highway, soft wind.
I inhale deeply.
Wild sunflowers, desert rain.
I feel clean.
Light.

I sleep soundly,
Waking to my beautiful hangover,
Brought on from chasing Son.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Restored

Life is messy. It's rocky. It's confusing and foggy and downright beautiful.

It's supposed to be that way.

The past few months have been all of those things for me. Danny and I are not in a great place. This addiction is horrible. It's a plague, sweeping the nation, the world, families, souls, hearts, minds...

But you already know that.

Because of that, it's time for me to start writing again. It's time for me to tell you that I'm being restored to myself. God is weeding out, weeding, weeding. I'm finding a relationship with my true self.
Danny and I are navigating the confusing world of separation, and it's a bucket of mess.
A great, big bucket of mess.

I'm finding sources of strength within me that I didn't know existed. I'm finding a hunger for fresh air,  for quiet mornings, and music that makes me dance out loud (it's totally a thing, I promise).

I'm decorating my house which seems small.  It does.
But it isn't small.

After separating from Danny, I asked God what I was to do next and He simply said...

Decorate your house.

So I am.  As I pull down pictures, throw out old, and bleach corners, I'm finding something of a canvas.
And as The Lord so pointedly put it in the Temple as we talked last month... I will be restored.
A promise from One who never breaks trust.

A little taste of what I'm up to:



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In the Silence

Right now, I need total clarity -as much clarity as I can get.

I'm dialing down outside noise: less blogging, less reading, less VOICES.

I don't know when I'll be back.  I'm not putting precise limits on myself -I'm letting God do the guiding.

I'm relying on the words of Emily Woodmansee:



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Not in my Hands

Years ago, I gave my husband to God -I'd kept him for years, audacious enough to somehow believe that he belonged to me.
It's all very 50's doo-wop and romantic-sounding... with *just a hint* of maniac control.

Now that I've done my best to dust that kind of mentality on my mom jeans, I still find myself running into situations that are
FULLY

out of my hands.

It's one thing when porn isn't looked at.  Sobriety on the part of the addict somehow mandates my being MORE okay, right? I mean, not 100% ship-shape, but... better?

I somehow feel like asking for SOBRIETY AND RECOVERY is too much.  It makes me high strung and mean and impatient... unkind, lacking compassion.

But the truth is: Danny never was in my hands or my power or control.  He acted as he would.
And when I finally, finally, FINALLY accepted that and let go completely... I found that trust is something I had to let go of as well.

He may be sober, but there is no trust.  Will there ever be?

Who can know?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fightin' For My Own Hand

Last year, I typed up a list of my boundaries and read them out loud to Danny.
My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking... I was terrified.

What would he think?
What would he SAY?
What would his reaction be?
What if he didn't approve?

I had prayed about my list and been pretty thorough as I typed it out.  I'd combed over it time and time again before printing it.  We won't even TALK about how long it took me to tell Danny I needed some time with him to TALK about SOME THINGS.

But I did it.

That piece of paper was my permission slip -my training ground.  I fell back on it when my gut told me something was off. 

My boundaries kept me safe.

I HATE NOT FEELING SAFE.  As a Beehive, I wrote the infamous "What I Want in My Future Husband" list, and THE FIRST thing on it?  Security.
As a blinking 12-year old, I wanted to be safe more than I wanted anything else in a man. 

In Addorecovery, I learned that in the course of being married to a man with an addiction, I'd been slowly trained to ignore my gut.  The truth of that statement hit me hard and fast -like a blow.  The realization was at once shocking and hair-raising.  I couldn't believe it, and yet...

For YEARS, I would operate under Danny's thumb... ever submissive, ever resentful.  I felt his hold on me and I didn't quite know what to do about it.  I loved him deeply, and I didn't want to upset him by arguing or making a fuss -neither of which I actually really knew how to DO anyway.

My boundary list was my baby step into those waters.

They let me make a fuss when I felt controlled, manipulated, or scared.
They let me argue when I felt unheard, unseen or brushed aside.

I followed my boundaries with the courage of a shaking, late-summer leaf.  Barely hanging on, but HANGING ON.

Fear was my constant companion, as always.  But I began to find that each time I stood up for myself, the fear had less power.  I slowly began gaining courage.
I found myself needing my paper less and less as boundaries became a natural part of my life rather than an awkward ritual carried out each time I felt tightness in my chest or a knot in my stomach.

I came to find out that instead of RESENTING DANNY for not keeping me safe, I could MAKE MYSELF SAFE by listening to my gut and the Spirit and SPEAKING UP. 

God meant for me to speak up.  That's why he gave me this voice, this spirit, this fighting soul that refuses to buckle... that senses and feels every emotion so deeply. 
I can put words to what I feel.
I will put words to what I feel.
And I will HONOR what my soul is telling me with complete honesty.

No more will I calculate and plan HOW to say it, how to bring it up, how to lessen the blow.
No more will I shake and shiver and avoid.
No more will fear of other people -husband included -keep me squashed in a tired, damp corner where only rats remind me that -once again -I've allowed myself to be beaten down.

I am not aggressive, but I can be assertive.
I can be fully honest, as the Savior would have me be, and as He is.
I can take His advice and give no thought beforehand to the things I might say, but I can simply open my mouth when I feel so moved and let the words come, let His truth pour forth from the depths of my soul.

I can let His light come through when the darkness threatens to pull me under.

I can surrender what others may think or say about my actions because I know -I KNOW NOW -that my words and actions, when honest and unflinching -belong to the Lord. 

If the Lord be with me, who can be against me?  Or rather, what does it matter if they are?

No more will I control my own voice, try to put it where I believe it ought to be (which -honestly -I sometimes believe IS in that dark, ratty corner)... but I will give my voice unto God.

For He will uphold me when I feel fear, and He will carry me through those awful moments when I don't think I CAN SPEAK MY TRUTH... because I usually can't.  But HE CAN if
I
WILL
BUT
OPEN
MY
MOUTH.

"There are times when we have to step into the darkness in faith, confident that God will place solid ground beneath our feet once we do." #freeprintable

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy 5th

Did you make it?

Did you make it through one of THE most triggering holidays of all holidays?
Did you make it through the short shorts?  The bikinis? 
Did you make it through feeling less than because your yard doesn't look like the pictures in Country Living?
Did you make it through seeing other families together?  BBQing?  Laughing?
Did you make it through the disconnect in your life?  marriage?
Did you make it through seeing others seem perfect?
Did you make it through wanting to scream a little?
Did you make it through wanting to cry a lot?

Maybe you didn't deal with any of that.  Maybe you only dealt with some.  Maybe you dealt with all.

Either way, I'm just popping in to say:

It's FINALLY the FRIGGIN' FIFTH.  And you -you, wonderful you -MADE IT THROUGH.

It's a whole new kind of freedom fighting when you're fighting to be free from the trauma that travels with addictions... fighting to not let baggage rule the holiday.  Fighting to be free from manipulation, control, and drama.  Fighting to be free from the hostage of our own minds who convince us we're less than or better than.

Fight to be FREE to LIVE.

B'cuz it's patriotic, that's why.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

In a Million Little Pieces

Maybe I've said this before.
It's entirely possible.

When the Lord has something to tell me, He reiterates his message over and over... because my skull is THICK and I have small children.  If there's a message He feels I need to hear, I'll find it texted to me, emailed to me, quoted in lessons, posted on random facebook walls.

AND THEN I go, "Oh, wait... WAIT.  I think something's coming through..."

Sometimes its a song, sometimes a poem, a quote.
This time around it's an idea... a word, a symbolic word.

Stuff all around me is breaking, breaking, breaking.  Toilet chains, car doors, gall bladders, MY MARRIAGE (things escalate quickly around here).
I've been moping and murmuring... moaning and groaning, "God, would be it be too much to ask to just have the toilet flush?  The sink to drain?  The car door to shut?" Each small, stinging reminders of the bigger broken issues in my life.
I broke a vase this morning, a beautiful bowl two weeks ago.
Shattered shards flying,

 My soul prays: God, this is ridiculous.  I've longed deeply for security and safety and all I'm being served is broken EVERYTHING. I. am. TERRIFIED.
I'm financially broken.
Physically broken.
Spiritually broken.
Emotionally broken.

Depression reigns my brain making me feel like a stranger here.

God, this is ridiculous.  Can't you see?!  Am I to be The Eternal Service Project?  The Girl Who Used to Contribute but Somehow Just BROKE Somewhere Around 2013?

A few weeks ago, as I was getting ready to meet up with Bishop to check in, a woman approached me and asked if I'd help her in her Relief Society lesson a few weeks out.
"I need someone to read their scriptures every day right when they get up -before they do anything else -and journal their thoughts."
I took the challenge.
I've been reading a chapter each morning on my Gospel Library App and I felt like writing my thoughts would really challenge me.

Forgive me for being IRRITATINGLY OBVIOUS, but THIS HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE.  Actually doing it isn't hard, but trying to have thoughts worth writing right as I wake up?
Forgeddabboudit.

Some mornings I wrote deep things like, "I think I'm doing this wrong."
Some mornings I wrote honest things like, "Checked facebook first out of habit."
Some mornings I had insights like, "I AM THE LOST SHEEP, not one of the ninety and nine."
And one morning, I learned what I already knew:

The Lord had been simply sending me a message the only way He knows to get through: repetition.
I read in Luke 20 verse 18:

"Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken..."

Verse 17 references stone to ROCK.

What does this mean to me?  That when I fall on the Lord, I am broken.

God has let me know that I'm doing His will.
There is beauty in the breaking and the broken.

While my heart aches and my soul longs for trust and safety in my broken marriage and heart, the Lord has shown me truth.
Letting go of control and turning it over to God IS NOT easy, but IT IS what I want to do. 

I know now that because my entire world is broken, I AM FALLING ON GOD.

Peace has come, all is well -because all is broken.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Seen Trials and New Guidelines

I'm truly sick.
Two days ago, I was balled up in a blanket on the couch watching (yet another) version of Jane Eyre and wanting to just disappear.
My surgery date is still pending, but I go in to schedule it on Wednesday.  I'm getting rid of my gall bladder because it's not working.  I mean: every dang day IT ISN'T WORKING. 

But this is common.  It happens to lots of people -mostly women.
I know this because I personally know SCADS OF WOMEN walking around without gall bladders.  Factor in those I don't know?  Sheesh.  Gall bladder issues are rampant, folks.
The great thing about it is I can hop onto facebook and get great answers and advice in seconds.  The unprecedented great thing about it?  People show up. 
My visiting teacher brought food TWICE.  Children are picked up and whisked away.  Phone calls, texts... I didn't realize that would happen when I asked for quick, "what do you do before having a knife stuck in you?" advice online.

Being sick has deepened my depression.  When I can't do anything or think clearly, I just sink. 

I'm so grateful for seen trials.  So grateful.
Seen trials bring pure love to your doorstep.

We live in a wonderful age where we can talk about bodily gas out loud, online, over the phone... and we're all pretty much okay with it.  We can say things like, "hey, make sure you abuse stool softeners two days before the surgery" and laugh ourselves silly.

Years ago, that wasn't the case.
Years ago, you didn't talk about stuff like that.  It was only to be handled behind closed doors.

I hold on to the hope that someday in the future porn addiction can be and will be talked about and addressed as openly as dead gall bladders.

Someday... maybe porn addiction will be a seen trial.

As awareness of it grows, the church has come out with new guidelines which I haven't fully read yet (I've read #1,2, and 11 so far).
So far it seems wonderful.  No replacement for my 12-steps, but a wonderful resource.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some Wal-Mart brand Slim Fast to nurse.
Want some too?  Tea time tomorrow at 2?  Anyone?  Anyone?  I promise probably not to fall asleep.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Are We Human?

This last week I had such an awkward trigger.

You know what my triggers are like?  They're little events that flip on a little switch that illuminate an ENTIRE ROOM FULL of related bologna.
After I double-sneezed a few days ago, my 5 year old son raised his eyebrows, "Mom, do you have issues?"

Yes, son.  But you'll learn more about that when I pay for your therapy in 15 or 20 years.

I want so desperately to feel safe in my marriage.  I want so desperately to feel safe... period.  I don't want to stifle my hunger for safety and security because I believe it's natural and wonderful to need it.  A life without that desire seems kind of, well, scary and cold and something that creeps in the alley of a Tim Burton film.

The thing is: when I'm around other men I feel safe with, my brain takes hold and goes to places I seriously hate... I hate that they're there, I hate that I feel them, I hate that I GO TO THEM.

I just kneel and say, "God, I have these feelings where I WANT safety with this person, and I ended up listening to that old song and facebook searching for that old boyfriend, and although I hate that I'm feeling and thinking these things, the fact of the matter is... I AM."
I then call my sponsor who says, "You're human."

HUMAN.

What a thing to be.

I can deny it all I want, but at the end of the day -no matter what mirror I'm looking in -I'm human.  I'm a hurt human, a funny human, a human who hurts other humans, a flawed human, a lovely human with lovely imperfections, a human with needs.

And I need safety.
My body needs safety.
My brain, my soul, my ME needs security.

I can find it all when I turn myself over to God which is both exhilarating and terrifying, one of those "so glad I did it even though I didn't want to" kind of experiences.

Like cliff jumping?

be brave

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Oxygen Shortage

A little over 18 months ago, I was rolled onto my side, clinging to a hospital bed and ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that death was a breath away.
The pain.  Oh my gosh, THE PAIN!  It was the most intense physical experience of my life. 
Danny was standing next to me, but he wasn't on the bed with me.  He wasn't feeling what I was feeling.  In short, he didn't know.
"My body is breaking," I cried out, desperate for someone -ANYONE -to realize and see!  SEE!
"Your body isn't breaking," Danny said.
I hated him in that moment.  My brain went into a tail spin.  I realized that everyone in the room THOUGHT I WAS FINE.
But I wasn't.

I knew I wasn't fine, but no one else could feel it.  In fact, they were certain I was fine!
"Your body isn't breaking."
The contractions weren't letting up.  Before one would let go, another would start.  There was no break, no rest, no regrouping, no recentering... there was a shortage of oxygen getting to my brain.
I couldn't THINK straight.

My body responded to the pain and that was that.
"I'm dying," I told my husband, desperate for him to TRULY SEE that I was -in very fact -DY.ING.
"You're not dying," he tried to soothe me.
Again, I felt crazy.  No one that wasn't me didn't seem to realize the seriousness of the situation.  I bypassed my husband and looked at a nurse.
"CAN'T YOU GIVE ME ANYTHING FOR THIS PAIN!?!"
She seemed surprised.
"Oh!  Yes!"
Apparently when I'd said a few months before that I wouldn't be having an epidural while I was in the hospital that I was one of those women who was against pain medication while birthing babies.  But I wasn't.  I just strongly felt I should have an epidural.  It was a gut feeling, so I went with it.
The hospital staff was obliging.  TOO obliging.
The nurse ran out of the room to order and get me some relief, and THAT'S when it happened.
That's when the baby decided maybe she ought to debut.

The nurse came back in, her hands filled with magic vials, "What happened?  I was gone for a minute!"
The baby happened.
Calm, serene, plump, quiet.  They placed her in my arms, and still.  STILL.  The pain was fierce.  I begged for medication.
"It will interfere with your bonding," the Dr. warned.
Oh my gosh, WHAT BONDING?  I was hurting so much I could barely focus.
It wasn't until a few hours after she came that I finally felt bonded to my baby and her cute little elf-like skin tags on her ear.  Her imperfections were just perfect to me.  I breathed her in.  I'd had two babies before, but this one?  Something was different.  I knew her.  I'd known her before.  It was a sort of foreign kind of "you're HERE" kind of reunion.
The pain -the seemingly lethal pain -brought me an immeasurable gift.

The trials in life right now seem to be just like those contractions.
Marriage broken.
Cousin hit a bus the same day Alicia starts job.  Dies twice on helicopter, makes miraculous comeback despite brain trauma.
I leave my full-time Mommying in the past and fully underestimate how hard it will be emotionally.
Grandpa in hospital.
Dad works shop and Grandpa's ranch.  Overdoes it.
Dad in hospital with viral infection.  Nearly loses the fight, transfers to ICU down int he Phoenix area. 
Alicia fields job without training because her boss (Dad) is in the hospital.
Dad comes home.
Danny leaves for 2 months to train for his new position (K9).  He's home on weekends.  The break is very timely.  As much as Alicia needs help, the marriage is just so fragile.
Mom goes into the hospital -knee surgery.
Thanksgiving comes -family tension causes a boundary Alicia hated enforcing.
Baby turns one -Alicia forgoes a baked cake and instead sticks a candle in a ho-ho.  Ole!
The next day, Danny and Alicia sit in front of the computer where Brannon is "present" as Danny reads his full disclosure.  Everything addiction related.  Alicia listens.  The session ends.  Alicia leaves town with cash and writes a very angry letter in a bed and breakfast while entertaining a fantasy about cancer... the kind that kills you.
Christmas.
Holidays.
Sicknesses.
Mom gets her other knee replaced.
Alicia starts to realize something is OFF and realizes she's going through depression.
The depression wreaks a strange sort of havoc in her life and Alicia struggles to understand what the eff is going on.
The baby begins walking and Alicia gives up on any chances of being able to sit on a clean floor.
Behind the mess of the depression and the actual literal mess of the house, the marriage situation is confusing at best and straining and worst.
But we work hard.  Counseling, group therapy, weekly meetings -both online and in person.  Sponsors.  Talking, connecting, honesty.
And then the group therapy ends abruptly.
As does counseling.
Danny's boss puts pressure of holy pressure on him.
Alicia's gall bladder begins assigning her a seat on the bathroom floor.
Each day she's sick -nausea follows eating.  Rinse repeat.  Surgery in July.

And guess what?
I'm at the "MY BODY IS BREAKING" point.  I can't breathe or see clearly anymore.  To everyone around me, I'm not breaking.  I'm fine.
But I'm on the table again.  Looking around for a blessed nurse with magic vials.
So many nurses are thronging me -food is brought in now and then, children are taken from time to time, house cleaning help both hired and volunteered is given.  The Lord is taking sweet and precious care of me as I cling to the hospital bed and cry out in desperation, "I AM DYING."

I used to wonder at people who couldn't seem to get enough help, who still despite seemingly having their basics needs me still struggled to just SMILE.  I judged them. 

And the Lord -in His sweet wisdom -is stripping me WHOLLY of that judgement.

All things will work together for our good.
I'm grateful for the suffering -it's setting a course for the way I will live out the rest of my life.  My priorities are shifted (and shifting), and if anything... if NOTHING else... the Lord is preparing me to serve His children with pure charity, unmarked by judgement.

I feel ungrateful writing these things.  I feel like a whiner.  I feel FEAR that people will hear my words and judge me because my basic needs are met and I'm still crying out from the bathroom floor, "Can't you give me anything for this pain?"

Today and everyday I will simply do the next right thing.
Living one day at a time?  When things are good.  Today I will live one moment at a time, one situation at a time.  One hour at a time. 

For when the oxygen returns to my brain, I will behold a mysterious, miraculous gift... imperfect and perfect, grand and small, a sort of birthing experience in it's own right.
And I know at that point -I will bond with it and look back on this laborious treachery as a worthwhile investment.

But for today, I'll just do the next right thing.