Thursday, January 29, 2015

Body Healing

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about Pressure.

I struggle with holding tension in my body.  My shoulders have been tight for the better part of my 29 years.  I'm pretty sure I stressed out when I took my first bites, first steps, and first few swings at my older brothers.  I've spent YEARS holding expectations, shame, disappointments, confrontations... in my BODY.

It's gradually falling apart... the doctors keep taking things out of it and handing me papers with the words, "chronic inflammation" on them.  Tonsils?  Gone.  Gall bladder?  Gone.
My body is on fire. (Stop singing Alicia Keys.  Once you start, that power ballad never quits.)

My first counselor asked me to begin paying attention to my body -to the way I physically react and feel when I felt the trauma of my situation.  I began to notice that I felt my head sort of spinning, my heart pumped faster.  I began feeling the need to FLIGHT... FLIGHT my way into the bathtub and fill it with hot, hot water and big, fat bubbles.  When it's really bad, I find myself picking at my own skin nervously.
But the most prominent symptom: tight, tense shoulders.  I began to notice that my shoulders were tense constantly.

I felt tense in Sunday School when there was silence.  I felt tense when I talked.  I felt tense when I crocheted (must. finish.  must. finish.) and I felt tense when I watched television (maybe because I felt shame for watching?  I don't know).
I felt tense at the grocery store.
I felt tense when I went running (must. burn. calories. be. skinny. wear. leggings. boots. with. fur. cute. hair. bun. be. adorable).
I felt tense when I did yoga, when I ate.

As I've made a conscientious effort to release tension, I've felt calm and peace.  I've felt freedom that comes from letting go of finishing, performing, and perfecting.  And I've begun investigating WHY IN THE CRAP I've been this way for so long.

Looking back on my life, I see that I was raised to make good choices out of fear.
I jokingly say, "I did what was right not because I was afraid of God but because I was afraid of Dad."
Putting someone other than God in my center is an issue I've had long before I'd ever laid eyes on Danny.  Ironically, while I was being raised out of fear, I was also being taught that being afraid was weak... something to get over.

I want you to take a second and imagine -if you will -how much mental wreckage that all adds up to.

I have a lot of healing to do.  Marrying a porn addict took my "sickness" and BLEW IT UP.
I am so scared.  I am so scared all of the time.
I recognize that I am scared.  so scared all of the time.  and I HATE myself for being so weak and scared.

I feel shame for being scared.

It's a whole lot of crazy running rampant.
In a BYU speech given by Elaine Marshall in 2002 when she was the dean of BYU's College of Nursing, she says:

healing is active—you have to be there. Your friend or your husband or wife or your mother cannot do it for you. You have to face the problem and the pain. To begin healing, you must acknowledge and feel the hurt. Only those who don’t feel, those without conscience, cannot heal.
My mother once told me of an experience she had one winter morning as she drove down to check the cattle in the lower pasture. She noticed a car off the side of the road. Inside she recognized a young mother and three children. When my mother asked if they needed help, the woman tearfully reminded her that this was the place of the accident two weeks earlier that had killed her husband. She answered, “We are just here to feel the hurt.”
On that first day as a nurse, I assumed cure, care, and healing to be synonymous. I have learned they are not the same. Healing is not cure. Cure is clean, quick, and done—often under anesthesia. The antibiotic kills the pathogen; the scalpel cuts out the malignancy; the medication resolves the distorted chemistry. Healing, however, is often a lifelong process of recovery and growth in spite of, maybe because of, enduring physical, emotional, or spiritual assault. It requires time. We may pray for cure when we really need healing. Whether for cell reconstruction, for nerve and muscle rehabilitation, for emotional recovery, or for spiritual forgiveness, healing needs work and time and energy.
Healing cannot happen in a surgical suite where the pain is only a sleepy memory. Cure is passive, as you submit your body to the practitioner. Healing is active. It requires all the energy of your entire being. You have to be there, fully awake, aware, and participating when it happens.

I spent a few hours with a close friend last week.  She called me the next day and voiced her concern over my health.  Because she's been in a similar situation, she knows the toll trauma can take.  Her advice to me was simple and full of concern.
"Alicia, your body is hungry.  Feed it.  Feed it good food.  As women, we get caught up in eating salads, and salads are good... but your body needs more than that.  Cut out anything that is causing you extra stress -anything at all.  Your body can't handle more stress.  Drink lemon water in the morning and do stretches -not more than your body is willing to do, don't push it. Sleep is so important.  Get a lot -get enough."

I've been so busy working on my emotional healing, that my body has gone by the wayside.  Rhyll Crowshaw once told me, "This addiction literally KILLS women.  We have to take care of our bodies.  It is VITAL."

Does this mean a program?  Work out DVDs?  New Running Shoes?  Cute Yoga pants?
No -all of those things add up to more tension and pressure for me.

This means me writing out every day step-wise what I will do the next day for self-care.  This means tapping into the self-love I've babied into existence through recovery work.
This means walking the full-sized puppy and running only when his contagious energy touches me and I can't help but break into a sprint with him galloping into my path.
Together, we are Grace Personified.

 This means turning tension into acceptance.  Accepting silence, accepting myself, accepting the cold air and the time spent waiting for the children to finish eating, the sun to finish setting, the dust to settle.

This means more naps.
This means more real food and less fake food.

This means more meditation, more yoga, more calm, more peace, more perspective.

And as my mind clears and my life simplifies, I will find another facet of healing -one my Savior has had in store, waiting for me to be ready to choose it.

I begin to see that everyone around me -EVERY one -is sick in their own way.  They are all struggling.  They react not because of me and my illnesses but because of THEM and THEIR illnesses.

Healing pulls me OUT of myself and opens the world up -I begin to see what I was too sick to see before.

I see beauty in my mind, in my heart, in my white skin.
I see love.
I live from this.  I accept this.
I offer this to God, broken and serene -and I ask, "What would Thou that I should do?"

And then I walk and trip with my big puppy.

Or I eat something grandly filling -oatmeal with blueberries, a pat of butter melting deliciously into the grain.

Or I read Dr. Seuss out loud.
Or I plug myself into Massenet's "Meditation" and allow myself to just... BE for a little while.

And I find within myself a solid sense of SAFETY -an solid inner-chamber wherein fear and shame can not penetrate, where true love for God and self resides.

My shoulders relax and serenity sweeps tension into the other room.

THIS is healing.

It is work, there are no pain killers for this kind of healing... but there is immeasurable recompenses for the pain.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

More Important Than Staying Together

Whenever I mention our separation to anyone, I see fear flash across their face. 

Could this be the end of our hero?!

It's true.  It COULD BE.  Endings scare people, I'm finding.  I don't know why exactly -maybe it reminds us all of a ultimate ending?  of life ending? 

Having to defend my separation makes me feel crazy, so -I have found out the hard way -I don't.  The thing is: GOD is okay with Danny and I not sleeping in the same bed, and I am okay with it and that's that... as the quote written above my piano says, "Trust in God and Thyself."

It does bother me -really it does -that it's seemingly more accepted for a wife in an emotionally abusive situation to STAY LIVING IN IT than it is for her to GET OUT OF IT.  But here's the thing: a separation *can be* the key to healing a marriage scorched by addiction.  It can be very healing.
As my intuitive Bishop put it, "You aren't handling things in the conventional way, but I would go so far as to say your marriage won't survive if you don't do this."

Sweet validation.  Nectar, nectar, nectar.

In my time apart from Danny, I have shred fear.  I have found myself AND FOUND that -contrary to what I once thought -I actually like myself.  Always?  No, not always.  But "I like myself most of the time" shows 95% improvement over where I was in 2012.  Two years ago, I hated even looking in the mirror.
I frequently struggled with my faulty image beliefs.  Today, I can look at a woman with fake boobs and polished abs and NOT automatically believe that I am less than, ugly, and worthless. 

Today, there is hope.

I find in my life a creation cycle -similar to those held by God as he created the very Earth I stomp every day.

For a long time, I was in this dark, scary place... it was in it's very beginning phases when, without light, the Earth tossed and turned and heaved and exploded.  Something very important was taking place, something called TRANSFORMATION, but in the thick of darkness, all I could see was just that: darkness.
So scary.

Then, slowly, the heavings slowed and illumination took their place.  LIGHT filled every darkened crevice, and God was seen.  I was able to see what the darkness had produced, and it was beautiful.
"Could it be?" I asked myself, looking across the variety of canyons, rivers, lakes, pastures.  My own complexities amazed me.

After the light came the seeds -beautiful seeds planted every dang where.
After the seeds came LIFE.
And after LIFE?  Came a new woman.

This is God's creation cycle.  This is the cycle that repeats itself over and over and over in my own life -lately, it's been one VERY VERY BIG AND GIGANTIC creation process.  The darkness could have won.

But right now, I stand illuminated.

This is what my separation has given me.
LIVING WITH emotional abuse was very, very dark.  God didn't want me to stay there.

There can be wholeness in marriage.
More importantly, there can be wholeness in SELF.

I believe strongly that individual healing comes BEFORE marital sticking-it-out.
For me, individual healing could not take place IN my marriage, and I'm okay with that.  God is guiding me and letting me know what is okay, when it's okay... maybe not always WHY, but that's His way.

As light surrounds and fills me, I can say that I am on my way to becoming a new woman filled with fresh life.  In the meantime, God is taking care of everything else.
Fear has no place in the creation cycle.

And when the new woman steps bravely out into her new world, perhaps God may initiate a new creation cycle in my marriage
Can I handle more darkness?  More tumult?  More tossings?

I can't.
God can.
I will let Him.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I feel a sort of disconnect from the recovery world vs. real life realm.
In truth, my recovery world and real life are meshing together so naturally, the Me Of Two Years Ago is peeing her pants a little, but the Me Of The Present feels so natural about it all that she wonders why everyone doesn't discuss the physiology of masturbation over a round of Ben & Jerry's (Karamel Sutra, anyone?)

In the way of updates, Danny worthily baptized our daughter -this is important, folks and friends, this is pivotal and important.  Her baptism day has always been this sort of unknown -a Future Event looming over our heads, neither of us knowing if she would be able to be baptized by her own father or not.
The day has come, and she was.  It was touching and highly emotional for our highly emotional and easily touched family.

I'm still wearing my ring, though we are still separated.

It's weird how this separation is working out.  While I wish I could transfer what's going on in my head to the confused heads of those around me, I know that GOD KNOWS what's going on and that's enough for now.
I like Danny.
But I can not commit to living with him right now and sleep peacefully at night.  God knows it's not time for me.  I need more healing.

My trauma is like a bad batch of hormones -they aren't predictable, I don't understand them, and they pop up fully without welcome or warning.  I have NO CONTROL.

While I should be great friends with the idea of NO CONTROL by now... I'm not.  I'm getting there, and we have our moments... but true bonding hasn't occurred.  Not yet.  I understand the beauty in embracing a lack of control, but there are still aspects of it that really BUG me.
Trauma is one of those aspects.

I hate that trauma hits sometimes when Danny comes home 20 minutes late.  Logically, this is should only be mildly irritating IF THAT.  But for me?  It can be cataclysmic.
I hate watching trauma dovetail around me in rapid succession... faster than I can surrender it and find peace again, it hits, hits, hits.

I feel controlled by trauma, though I know that isn't fully the case.
It FEELS true sometimes.

I keep thinking of the war in heaven.  I keep thinking about Satan's plan to force my hand.  I keep thinking how, when Danny was in the thick of his addiction, I thought Satan's plan was pretty genius, actually.
I keep thinking how the person I truly am in my core of cores refused Satan's plan because it employed a tactic I balked at: control.

I don't remember exactly what I felt, but my core does.  And my core balks at control.
It balked when I felt it in my marriage, and it balked when I tried to employ it toward my husband's addiction.

I'm feeling a cleansing of control in my life, so when trauma pops up and takes over, it just pisses me off in a big way.

It's good for me.  I'm learning from it and growing and finding out WHO I am and what I'm made of and in the meantime, I'm popping in to say that this blog -this super secretive blog -doesn't feel so secret anymore.
I'd love to get to know my readers more in real life and I'd love to send you a link to my other blog -the one where my recovery life (meaning my LIFE LIFE) is bleeding out all over the pages.
So reach out, if you want to, and come and meet my family.
I'll send you the link if you email me at

Wishing you serenity in the present,