Tuesday, May 13, 2014

SA Lifeline Conference Report

Two weeks ago today, I was standing in the parking lot of the Snowflake Temple, freezing in the late night breeze.
I was also doing nothing.  Nothing at all.
While I was busy doing nothing, my visiting teacher was on the pavement with an elderly brother, pulling a spare tire out of her minivan.  Another elderly brother was jacking the van up.
Earlier that day, my sweet visiting teacher -who had recently become made aware of our story -had called and offered to take me to the temple.  She offered her daughters as free sitters for my children and bought me dinner.  I sat in the Celestial Room and prayed that night... prayed so long.  Longer than everyone else.
SO LONG, in fact, that when we got out of the Temple and noticed we had a flat tire, we couldn't get back into the Temple to ask for help.  It was locked.  Eventually a few bretheren noticed us and came to help.
As they did, I saw the situation and couldn't help but feel it was definitive of my life right now.

Everyone else is doing everything.
Feeding me, caring for me, helping me get to conferences I need to be at, taking care of my kids...

And I'm standing.  Still standing.

Getting to the SA Lifeline Conference was an act of God.  It was absolutely an act of God put into motion by his mortal children.
Words aren't enough.  I don't have enough thank you notes.  It is too much.  God is great and miraculous. 

Danny and I sat next to each other and listened with eagerness, our eyes only sometimes filled with tears... the tears that pain brings.

To those of you who I met at the Conference: THANK YOU for sharing yourself.  THANK YOU for your phone numbers.  You've been in my heart since I walked outta that room. 

Summing up what was talked about seems so impossible.  I will try.  I will.  But I feel so strongly that it will not be enough and will not do justice.  There will be future conferences, though none are yet planned, and I can only encourage you to ATTEND.

We started with a prayer, a talented woman sang a touching song about grace, and messages were shared from then until 2 pm.
There were messages about how pain turns into shame. 
How there's five different types of pain (physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, and relational) and how we manage that pain makes a world of difference.  Turning inward is so dangerous (I'm lookin' at you, addiction).  Turning outward (to God and others) is healing and healthy.
As a wife, I turned outwardly with my pain in this addiction... and when I turned to my husband, I was met with more pain.  I was met with double messages.

 Danny seemed to be two different people entirely.  Sparkling and wonderful on the outside but messy and dark on the inside.
Feels pain.
Sees pain.
I felt powerless.  Sort of like I was in a starry night, screaming... while my placid husband pushed me away with his pitchfork.
I mean really:

The lack of intimacy caused a great deal of trauma.
I learned that I have feelings but feelings are not emotions.  HOWEVER, I need to emote my feelings because I was not built as a vessel to hold feelings.  No one is... no one but the Savior.  The Savior took on all the feelings.  I need to emote my feelings to be healthy.
Healthy goes something like:
Feelings in, emotions out.

Unhealthy goes like:
Feelings in, in, in, Netflix, frosting from a can, numb.

I am meant to depend on Danny, to work with him as a TEAM, and codependence isn't something I am... it's behaviors I've taken on as a result of trauma (though I do still battle codependent behaviors outside of the addiction).

Intimacy is healing, but intimacy can not exists without honesty.  Intimacy doesn't involve sparkling, glossy men with pitchforks behind their backs.
Intimacy isn't about sex.
But sex addiction isn't about sex either.

Intimacy is about SEEING each other with no glossy sparkles around us... intimacy is seeing the real, the raw, the TRUTH of the person you live with.
Intimacy is the relationship I have with God, IF I WILL LET MYSELF. 
Intimacy is a choice.
Intimacy is part of recovery.

10% of recovery is filters and prevention and sometimes (a lot of times) white knuckling.  We call this PHASE ONE RECOVERY.  In this phase, we don't like discussing recovery much.
90% of recovery is feeling pain, reaching outward, being vulnerable and intimate, honest and transparent, humble and repentant!  We call this PHASE TWO RECOVERY.  In this phase, we simply can not shut up about recovery.  In general, this involves a Step One Disclosure.

And here's some graphs and charts that you'll understand because you're living this.
For those dealing personally with addiction:
The SELF is in the center in the first graph.  God is in the center of the second.
For those who live with and love those dealing with addiction:

 The center of the first chart is the ADDICTED LOVED ONE.  AGH!  Have you been there?  Have you LIVED THIS?!  I have.  Yes, I have.  And the trauma goes 'round and 'round.  And the over-scheduled wife throws herself into ANYTHING that will offer her some sense of validation, some sense of being seen and valued.

But God is in the center of healing: education, spiritual guidance, therapy, working the steps!

And one more for the marriage:

THIS is the stuff we can sink our teeth into, my sweet fighters.  This is action and healing and it is NOT easy. 
The pathway to progress is painful.

But I am SO READY for progress.  I am so ready to do whatever it takes to heal. 

Did you know it takes honesty? 
Did you know it takes me saying, "I'm not okay.  I'm not safe.  I'm uncomfortable.  I will not allow..."
Did you know it takes me being BRAVE and scarily courageous with my words and actions?
Did you know I'm doing it?  Because I know now I can not live any other way.

There were classes on talking about this addiction in the home with our children.
There was a panel of therapists.
There was so much RECOVERY that it fairly seeped out the door and onto the pavement outside.

I can give you a taste -a glimpse. But I encourage you to sign up for the next one (date forthcoming). 

And now I'm logging off to watch Frozen again.  Because I've been gone for FOUR DAYS and I miss my kids.

If you have any questions or want more information about a certain topic addressed at the conference, please leave a comment or contact me.  There's a lot more information, but I don't feel like it should all be here on my blog.  But if you want more, ask away.


  1. Thank you for taking pictures! It helps me recall more. You have, again, put into words much of how this conference positively impacted my life. I look forward to the next one.

    1. I only wish I could come to every single one! AH!

  2. So wonderful! I love eye-opening, heart expanding, nurturing experiences. Can't wait for the next one!

    1. I wish we could all car pool up together!

  3. I nearly wept at turning inward vs. turning outward. How often are we told to keep things to ourselves? Thanks for sharing your wisdom, lady.

    1. Conceal, don't feel. Don't let it show ;)
      Except DO!

  4. This sounds so awesome!!! Wish I could have been there! Thanks for sharing.

    Also, I feel like you are a celebrity because you have a REAL LIFE photo with the Croshaws! :)

    1. I wish you could have been there as well. I wish you could meet Rhyll because she's very much real and doesn't have a celebrity feel at all.

  5. This makes me REALLY want to go to the next one!!

    1. I WANT TO GO TOO! Can we just have one here in AZ?!