Monday, January 26, 2015

Journal: Plot Twist Part 1 - Separation

I've been avoiding blogging.

I'm actually scared to, a bit, because to do so requires me to talk about scary, vulnerable things. But as I lay in bed this morning, a feeling kept coming to me that it's just time.

As I've started writing this blog post, I've realized there is just too much to put into one, so I'm splitting it up into parts. I have no clue how many parts there will be in the end, but this first part is just to acknowledge that my life isn't perfect and that things are rough right now.

::: sigh :::

So here I am, my husband and I currently separated and living in separate bedrooms.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

The 'B' Side of Phone-Sex

This is an exposure post, of sorts.

I had a conversation with someone a day or two ago regarding phone sex. More specifically, what the whole interaction really looks like.

I was reminded of an old co-worker of mine, Filamer. I know, strange name, but awesome woman. Kind of like me. Haha, just kidding.

Fil and I worked together at the Coco's in Torrance, California. We worked so well together, in fact, that the manager would schedule just the two of us on Monday nights, leaving each of us to man a full half of the restaurant on our own. Some nights were crazy busy, but other nights were slow; giving us plenty of time to talk and get to know one another.

On one such slow night, I noticed Fil studying some papers and asked her what she was doing. She said that she was memorizing scripts for her second job. Not knowing she even had a second job, naturally, I asked her what the job was. Half laughing, she said she was a phone-sex operator.

Keep in mind, this was long before I started recovery, so instead of being shocked, I was actually quite intrigued. So much so that I asked to see the scripts myself.

Now, they shocked me.

EVERYTHING was scripted. NOTHING was allowed to be ad-lib'ed.

I'm dead serious. It was like this...
  1. Operator greets caller and works to determine what caller 'likes.'
  2. Depending on what caller responds, operator chooses one of a number of different scripts at their disposal, and begins the role-play.
  3. Throughout the interaction, operator is scripted to respond a, b or c in response to caller's direction of conversation.
  4. Rinse and repeat as many times as possible in an effort to keep caller on the line.
  5. If caller does not stay within the boundaries of the script, operator responds 'd' in order to get caller back within written (and legal) boundaries.
I just sort of stared at her, marveling that phone-sex is nothing like it is advertised.

She laughed again, and agreed, and even continued to tell me that the 'stereotypical' phone-sex operator more matches the actual truth of things, rather than what the advertisers would like us to believe.

Women behind the scenes who are:
  • Kicked back with their feet up, filing their nails
  • Working on homework
  • Watching TV
  • Listening to music
  • Crocheting
  • Reading 
And sadly, even:
  • Putting callers on mute; mocking and laughing at their requests

The operator is not emotionally or even sexually invested in the call. It's just words to them. Their goal is simply to keep the caller on the phone as long as possible in order to increase sales which, in turn, means more money for them.

It's very real and sad how both participants can get sucked into the false world of lust. One feeding their lust by way of sexual encounter, the other feeding their lust by way of making money.

The adversary has honed his cunning; telling the operator that they are not being immoral because they are not 'physically' participating with the caller, and that they can make easy money doing so because they will never lack for callers.

On the flip side, he tells the caller the same, that they are not being immoral because they are not 'physically' interacting with the operator, while also telling them that no one will ever find out because 'it's just a phone call.'

To both of them, he whispers; "It's OK, you are not hurting anyone."

The truth is, everyone effected by such a callwhether knowingly or unknowinglyis harmed; starting with both parties participating in it.

This is not the life the Savior wants for them, for me, for us, or for anyone.

It's simply a big fat trap.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do As I Do, Not As I Say

So, I learned something today.

Let me first back up a bit, before I share what I learned.

I was visiting with a friend of mine a week or so ago, and she shared with me a struggle she was having with someone living with her. The person was not being responsible, not contributing to the household and basically being a nuisance. My friend was frustrated because they allowed this person to stay with them for few weeks only, just to help them get on their feet. Also, the person was not on my friends lease, which disallows extended visitors.

The situation was really stressing my friend out, and she wasn't sure what to do.

As a complete joke, I blurted out; "You should totally write a fake letter from your landlord stating that she is aware of the unauthorized tenant, and that you have only a few days to get them out or everyone will be evicted."

Today, I found out she did just that.

My heart dropped when I heard she'd done it, because I knew that I had given her the idea.

It taught me that even the slightest whispering of actions without integrity can lead to dishonest behavior.

It taught me that both the Spirit and the adversary are gardeners of sorts, each patiently waiting for me to plant seeds with my words so they can, in-turn, nurture them to grow.

On the plus side, the note worked and the squatter moved out.
I might be just a little bit happy about that,.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some Thoughts on Sobriety

So I want to talk a bit about being sober, or sobriety, and what it means, or can mean.  

Most of us relate being 'sober' to Webster's definition: "not intoxicated or drunk."  Over time this definition has also come to encompass drug abuse, and even more recently has come to include a multitude of behavioral addictions.  When sobriety is announced at the beginning of a recovery meeting, it is generally referring to how many days one has not acted out in their addiction.

But, what does it mean to be sober?

1 Thessalonians 5:5-10
5 Ye are all children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

D&C 6:19   
19 ...Be patient; be sober; be temperate; have patience, faith, hope and charity.

Winning the War Against Evil - Elder James Hamula
"Being sober means being earnest and serious in assessing your circumstances and careful and circumspect in weighing consequences of your actions.  Soberness therefore yields good judgement."

So, why is it important to be sober?

1 Peter 1:13
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 5:8, 10  
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
10 But the God of all grace , who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that which ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

So, what does it really mean to be sober?  
  • It means keeping our body free of all chemicals and behaviors that will inhibit us from doing the work of the Lord. 
  • It means girding ourselves up with the armor of righteousness and doing all in our power to not offend those Heavenly beings who desire to protect us.
  • It means keeping our minds clear of all worldly noise so that we may hear the sweet promptings of the Spirit.
  • It means knowing our adversary and keeping ourselves aware of all his tactical advantages over us, and acknowledging that only in the protective fold of our Savior are we safe from his destruction.
  • It means to strive to refine our virtues by constantly connecting with our Father in Heaven, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • It means constantly striving to remain humble, for the quality of our recovery is directly proportionate to the quality of our surrender.
  • It means finding gratitude and hope in all things, and above all it means constantly fighting with all determination to get home to Father.

It means to never, ever give up.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Warm, Godly Hug




hug [huhg]
verb (used with object), hugged, hugging
1. to clasp tightly in the arms, especially with affection; embrace
2. to cling firmly or fondly to; cherish
3. to keep close

*         *     *     *        *

What does it mean to hug? No, really. What does it genuinely mean to hug?

A hug is one of, if not the utmost expression of the purest love.
It communicates...
... compassion
... kindness
... charity
... affection
... understanding
... empathy
It presents as a courageous expression of actively listening to the needs of others, as well as our own needs.

Sometimes we don't realize that a hug is more than just giving. In fact, it is much more, because we receive so much in return:
  1. Hugs are warm; physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
  2. Hugging builds trust and a sense of safety; nurturing open and honest communication.
  3. It also boosts oxytocin levels; healing feelings of loneliness, isolation and despair.
  4. If we hug for an extended period of time, our serotonin levels elevate; resulting in increased happiness.
  5. Hugging boosts our self-esteem, showing us that we're special and worth loving. The associations of self-worth and touch sensations from our early years remain embedded in our nervous system as adults, therefore the cuddles we received as children remain imprinted at a cellular level; connecting us to our ability to self-love.
  6. Those hugs that are especially tight help relax our muscles; releasing built up tension in our body. They can also take away pain and soothe our aches by increasing blood flow in our soft tissue.
  7. Hugs teach us that there is equal value in giving and being receptive to warmth; connecting and sharing. In essence, hugs teach us how to flow love both ways.
  8. Much like meditation and laughter, hugs teach us to be present in the moment. They free us from our circular thinking patterns and connect us with our heart and feelings. They allow us freedomif even for just a momentfrom the weight of the past and doubt about the future.
  9. The energy exchange between participants results from the deliberate emotional investment in the relationship that the hug represents. It encourages empathy and compassion; two of the most powerful emotions for good. 
  10. Hugging is also synergistic; meaning the whole is more than the sum of its parts. 1 + 1 no longer equals 2, but 3 or even more!
Hugs are absolutely delightfully delicious!

Lately I have been thinking about the day that I will, again, see my Savior...
Oh, how I long for that day.

I want to...
...see Him
...touch Him

I want to...
...feel of His warmth
...feel His strong arms around me

I want to...
...hear Him say my name
...hear Him say 'well done, thy good and faithful servant'

But mostly, I want to hug Him.

I want Him to...
...wrap His strong arms around me.
...pull me close to Him.

And, I want to...
...grip His robes
...and, never let go

In that one Hug, we would each communicate so much to one another:
  1. Warmth
  2. Trust, safety, openness and honesty
  3. Healing, connection
  4. Happiness, joy and belonging
  5. Self-worth, self-love
  6. Comfort, relief, satisfaction
  7. Giving, receiving, sharing, and flowing love both ways
  8. Pure enjoyment of the present
  9. Transparent willingness to live in empathy and compassion
  10. A bold claim to the absolute abundance the hug will surely create
Unfortunately, there are times when my longing for that day erodes my gratitude for my present, because I fail to acknowledge that I actually have access to this very relationship with my Savior right here and now, in my present.

Accessing the many powers of Grace acts as a virtualyet tangiblehug from our Savior. Each time we do so, we increase in love for Him, loyalty to Him, and connection with Him.

Each time we do so...
  1. We feel warm
  2. We trust, and therefore are able to be courageously open and honest
  3. We become healed, for He is the great Physician (no need for a 2nd consultation)
  4. We experience the utmost and unabashed joy
  5. We come to accept, embrace and even love ourselves
  6. We are validated, comforted and calmed
  7. We experience a flow of love both ways, strengthening our bond with Him
  8. We not only feel satisfied, but actually happy, in our present
  9. We gain the ability to feel, express and receive empathy
  10. We are granted the courage to boldly approach His throne of Grace
Ultimately, we become more like Him
We become love

All, from a hug...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Drop of Oil

The experience I am about to share, I do not share out of pride or bragging, but in an effort to document the feeling I received afterward; the whisper from the Spirit that what I felt was the very preparedness I'm striving for when the bridegroom comes.

A couple of Sundays ago, my Relief Society President approached me at church and gave me my visiting teaching list. Admittedly, I wasn't in the best place when she handed it to me. I'd just spent the past hour and a half wrestling my youngest in Sacrament meeting, leaving me irritated and on edge.

It got worse when I glances at my list.

Six.
Six people on my list.
SIX!?!?

I begrudgingly thanked her and rushed off before my face revealed my feelings.

I steamed over it through the rest of church, until later that day my companion text me and said she didn't think it would be as tough as it looked.

She was right.
  1. Two of the sisters live together, and welcome visiting teachers.
  2. One is my companions mother, who is on a mission.
  3. One is my son's primary teacher, and also super easy to visit.
  4. One isn't active - and we aren't sure how to handle her - but we are making contact.
  5. One is on the the edge of inactivity, but I've already spent a number of hours in her home and text her all the time.
Due to my companion being out of town the latter part of this month, we quickly got to work and visited all, but number 4, within a week.

It sure feels great to get my visiting teaching done. Not for the numbers, but to actually be in the home of our sisters and see them, feel them and strive to identify their needs.

The lesson, however, came a few days after we'd visited #5.

I was recently invited to organize this year's ward Christmas party. We are a newly organized ward so none of the organizations were assigned to this particular event. In preparation for it, I was invited to the most recent Ward Council, in an effort to employ the help of each organization in the ward. We spent thirty minutes or so working through the food, decorations, set up/take down and entertainment.

As my time was coming to a close, I asked if anyone had any further suggestions or questions. In response, the ward mission leader raised his hand and said:
"Tell me about the #5's" (he said their last name)
I was a bit surprised with the gear shift, and fumbled a bit over my thoughts and words. But then it just spilled out of me.

I'd recently spent hours in this sister's home and was able to communicate and express how she is doing, what she has gone through, what she is feeling, why she is struggling with activity, and what her needs are.

It was a bit whirlwind'ish at the time, but later when things calmed down, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace.

I felt grateful that I'd actually gotten my VTing done. That's I'd fought through the fear of walking over to this sister's house to knock on her door, and grateful that I'd taken the time to listen to her; really listen to her.

I felt peace because I'd been prepared. When the ward mission leader asked me about the family, I was sitting before the bishopric and the president of every organization. How embarrassing would it have been if I'd had to respond:
"I don't know, I haven't visited her."
In that moment, I knew I'd tasted a bit of what it means to fill my lamp with oil; that I'd experienced a bit of what it feels like to be prepared at the last day.

And it's not like I did something over-the-top, huge and grandiose.

I just did what the Lord asked me to.
I just did my visiting teaching.

Friday, November 7, 2014

If I Could Just Buy a House

I've been thinking a lot about belonging...

What does it mean to belong?
How do I belong?
Who do I belong to?
What do I have to do to belong?
... and
Where do I belong, if anywhere?

Feeling like I don't belong is something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember.

I think being so transient through my younger years has severely contributed to these feelings.

Let me map it out... these are all the places I have memory of living:
  1. Mission, South Dakota (I could have lived in multiple houses here)
  2. Libby, Montana 
  3. Troy, Montana
  4. Glendive, Montana (house 1 - Nana's backhouse)
  5. Glendive, Montana (house 2 - Apartment)
  6. Glendive, Montana (house 3 - Trailer)
  7. Glendive, Montana (house 4 - Sargeant Street)
  8. Helena, Montana (house 1 - Church farm)
  9. Helena, Montana (house 2 - Government housing)
  10. Adelanto, California (house 1 - Dad's roomate's house)
  11. Adelanto, California (house 2 - Rental along the highway)
  12. North Edwards, California (house 1 - Dump that we stayed in for a month)
  13. North Edwards, California (house 2 - Better house than the previous)
  14. Boron, California (Nicest house we ever lived in)
  15. Lindsay, Montana (Left home at 16, living with friends of the family)
  16. Glendive, Montana (house 5 - Lived with  a member of my ward)
  17. Glendive, Montana (house 6 - Lived with another member of my ward)
  18. Glendive, Montana (house 7 - age 17 - my first apartment)
  19. Acton, California (Back with my parents, living in the bus)
  20. Glendive, Montana (house 8- Living with my boss from Hardees)
  21. Torrance, California (house 1 - Living with my ex boyfriend)
  22. Torrance, California (house 2 - Same circumstance, different house)
  23. Torrance, California (house 3 - Split with the ex, moved in with a ward member)
  24. Torrance, California (house 4 - Moved in with another ward member)
  25. Orem, Utah (house 1 - Moved in with a woman from a conference I attended)
  26. Orem, Utah (house 2 - Moved in with another friend and her family)
  27. Orem, Utah (house 3 - Married now, moved in with the inlaws)
  28. Lindon, Utah (house 1 - First apartment together)
  29. Orem, Utah (house 3, again - Living with in-laws in-between moves.)
  30. Lindon, Utah (house 2 - First house together)
  31. Orem, Utah (house 3, again - Living with in-laws in-between moves.)
  32. Orem, Utah (house 4 - Legacy apartments, where I found recovery)
  33. Price, Utah (house 1 - current)
Seriously... where do I belong?

When people ask me where I'm from, I jokingly respond 'everywhere,' but really, where do I belong? I claim Montana, because it's where I have lived the most; where I spent most of my childhood, but do I belong there? Does Montana claim me in return?

I just don't know.

I've had a very painful memory recently come up for me regarding belonging, or lack thereof.

I was about 10 years old. I was visiting my biological father and his new family in Mission, South Dakota while my family moved from 'Helena, Montana (house 1)' to 'Helena, Montana (house 2)'. I remember feeling really excited to spend time with him because I hadn't seen him in a very long time. I was also anxious to spend time with my brothers, whom I'd never met.

The plan was for me to spend a month with them, the first week of which went just fine. I spent most of each day at the swimming pool, taking full advantage of the summer pass they had purchased for me. After that week, though, I got tired of the pool and communicated to my stepmother that I'd rather stay home that day.

It was at this point that her true beasty colors came out...

She became incredibly nasty; sequestering me to the younger children's room where I spent every single day of the rest of my visit. I was made to sort the pieces of multiple Smurf puzzles that were strewn all over the floor; pieces that to my young eyes, all looked exactly the same. I spent my days struggling to sort each piece into piles representing each puzzle. I would leave that room at night with the floor covered in little piles, hopeful that I'd be able to finish the following day, only to wake to the floor in such a state that there was little to no evidence of there ever being any piles. I do not know if it was the kids who destroyed the piles, or my stepmother herself.

Regardless, I was made to start over.
Every day.
For weeks.

I didn't tell my biological dad what was going on because I feared he'd side with my stepmother. And I also didn't tell my mom because I feared that my stepmother would find out and retaliate.

The only happiness I experienced during that time was the occasional phone call home to my mom. I longed to hear her voice, and began asking to call home more often. Each call brought comfort; helping me pass the time until I could return home.

I survived well enough on those phone calls, until the day I called only to be met with the dreaded beeps, followed by the words; 'We're sorry, the number you have dialed is no longer in service.' I eventually learned that the disconnect was due to the move; a lapse between one phone being shut off and the other being connected.

But I didn't know that. I panicked.

I called that number again, and again, and again, only to be met with the same result.

I felt defeated.
I felt alone.
I felt abandoned.
I felt scared.
I felt forgotten.

I prayed, begging the number to work.
I tried again.
Nothing.

I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing.

After dinner, I asked if I could go to the park.
The beast agreed.

I walked to the park and sat in a swing.
No one else was there.
Just me.
Alone.

I sat there, and let the tears roll like thunder down my face.
I felt hated.
I felt despised.
I felt like a burden, even disposable.

I remember looking in the distance and seeing cars on a highway. I wondered if I hitchhiked, if I would be taken to a place where I would be loved, cared for, cherished.

No child should feel like that; like they will find happiness on the other end of a highway hitchhike. I shudder at what could have happened if I'd acted on that impulse. I was obviously being watched over.

Transience has always been a huge part of my life, and I feel that because of it I was not able to establish essential healthy relationships with others. I also feel that on some level I actually began to fear making those connections, because as soon as I did we would move, and they'd be torn away from me.

One major realization that I have recently discovered, is that if I had made healthy connections, I would not have the giant hole in my heart that I'm continually tempted to fill by acting out in addictive behavior.

So, what does all this have to do with buying a house?

I've recently realized that I'm living in somewhat of a desperate state. I'm extremely anxious for my husband to get promoted to the next level of management, because that will provide our family with a level of geographic permanency that I've never experienced.

No matter where we land with that promotion, we will likely be there for a very long time. Knowing we would be there for a lone time, we would buy a house. And it would be in that newly purchased house that I would feel physically and emotionally safe enough to open up and establish all of those connections I have longed for my entire life.

If I could just buy a house, I would feel like I belonged.

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"