Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Next Best Thing

Most of us are familiar with the phrase 'the next best thing'. A generally negative phrase, it sounds as iif we are losing out. As though If we can't get the actual best thing, we have to settle for the next best thing.

But in recovery, the next best thing actually means something entirely different  
Something beautiful.
Something hopeful.
Something progressive.

There are so many times in our addiction that we get stuck in a rut. Whether it be acting out, stinkin' thinkin', denial, or any other form of addictive behavior. It can feel so hopeless, like we can't get anything right or ever change.

We might think; 'I have to start somewhere', yet have no idea where 'somewhere' actually is. 

The thing is, 'the next best thing' is where we start.

It occurred to me the other day...

I was having a pretty blah day and didn't feel like the greatest human being. 

My house was a mess. 
I'd been impatient and snappy with my children. 
I didn't get much work done, and I felt pretty low.

But as I lay in bed at the end of the day, I looked to my left and saw my scriptures. And I thought; 'the next decision I make is how I start. I just have to choose the next best thing that I can do for myself.'

It really is that simple. 

A Rigid Hag?

This is a difficult post for me to write. It's vulnerable. It's raw. It's real. And it's honest. But sometimes I don't like to be those things about this particular topic, because I feel like there are so many opinions out there that just want to 'fix' me. And I'm just not sure I want to be, am ready to be, or even need to be said 'fixed.'

This is another intimacy post about my marriage, so if that is of no interest to you, no hard feelings.

The thing is, although my husband is now doing really well, there were a great many years that he sexually and emotionally acted out in his addiction on me. And although we have both begun a beautiful journey of healing from that trauma, there are still things I don't feel safe with.

I don't feel safe when he touches me, especially when he touches me with his hands.
I do feel safe when he hugs me, but only from the front, not from behind.
I don't feel safe when we lay in bed and his leg, hand, arm, or anything else, bumps against me.
I don't feel safe when his hand is laying on the blanket next to me, but I can feel the resultant push from the blanket into me.

It is really difficult for me to feel physically safe around him.

That is not to say that we don't have sexual intimacy. As explained in my previous blog post , we aren't perfect in that category, but we are progressing. 

The problem comes when sexual intimacy ends, I just want it to end. I don't want to get lovey dovey or touchy feely. I just want to go on with life until the next time we connect on that level.

How horrible does that sound? Really, I feel horrible for saying it, but it's my reality.
And I feel the weight of obligation, like there is something defective about it and it's my responsibility to somehow fix myself.

I have been conditioned to know what physical touch leads to sexual touch. So, I avoid physical touch to avoid the foreboding sexual tough that I perceive will follow.
I really don't know if it WILL follow.
He often promises me it won't.
Believing him is hard.
But what if it's not just that. 
What if I just don't want to be touched?
Is that not OK? Is that not my right?

What if I don't want to be fixed?
What if I don't want to be touched in that way, ever?
What if I want to keep the two full sized beds we bought when we separated, instead of buying one king?
I don't mind then smashed together to make one giant bed, so long as he understands they are still separate beds and I need him to respect my space.

And now I feel the weight of disappointment.
Disappointing him, because I know what he wants.
And I think what he wants is righteous and good.

He wants to be physical.
Hold my hand
Snuggle
cuddle.

He wants it all..... but I want none of it.
And I don't know if I'll ever want it.
So what does that make me? 

A rigid hag?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dear Stake President: You Told Me Otherwise

Dear Stake President,

I have kept these thoughts and feelings to myself for quite some time, for sometimes when one is so hurt by another's comments, they tend to go into hiding, like limping off to lick their wounds.

That is exactly what I did.

It's been months since I have spoken to you. I've seen you a few times at various church functions, but always from a distance. I still don't know what I would do if I came face to face with you. I think I have forgiven you, but I'm really not sure. I can't tell if it's true forgiveness or if the wound has just scabbed over.

I'm not sure I'll really know unless we talk again.
I'm not sure we'll ever talk again.

I do know this, however.
I don't trust you.
Not one bit.
I don't think I will ever trust you again.
And I am confident that trust is not the same thing as forgiveness, so there is no conflict there.

The things you said to me in your office were not only unexpected, but completely inappropriate. I was there, simply to share with you a struggle that my husband and I had faced the previous week. I actually didn't really need to meet with you, but I'd already made the appointment with you on the advice of my bishop whom I'd visited in the thick of it all. But I was worried that if I canceled, you'd be worried. And so I wanted to come in, even if just to reassure you that all was well in the world again.

Our meeting started off well enough. Because I'd previously worked with you, I'd already established a pretty strong link of trust. I was happy to see you again and you, me. We chitchatted for a bit and then I spoke of why I was there.

Toward the end of my recount of the week's events, you asked me how my husband was doing. I replied honestly, saying I felt he was distant. Strangely, you then asked how our sexual intimacy was fairing. I was taken aback by the question, but answered honestly anyway. I shared that considering the struggle I have with my own sexual addiction and striving to heal from the sexual abuse at the hand of my husband, things weren't exactly great. I wasn't ready to be sexually intimate. I just wasn't ready to be that vulnerable yet, but things were progressing, even if slowly.

We sat a moment in silence as I felt the energy in the room completely shift from light and carefree to... something else.

Then you said it.

You looked me square in the eye and told me it's my responsibility to have sex with my husband. You told me that if I didn't, he would eventually stray, because men need sex.

Horror washed over me.

Everything felt so surreal, like I was in a dream, because I couldn't believe that my Stake President, the man that I'd already established so much trust in, this man of God that holds keys for me and is supposed to receive revelation for me, would actually be saying these things.

I repeated several times in my head; "Is he really saying what I think he's saying?"

And I still couldn't believe it. So I asked; "So you're saying it's my job to service my husband?"

You hummed and hawed about the terminology, but in the end, confirmed that yes, it's my job to provide sexual relief for my husband. I sat there in silence, my usual witty responses in just as much shock as I was. So, in order to fill the silence and attempt to satiate the shock on my face, you kept going, and the following conversation ensued;

SP: "It even says it in the church handbook."
Me: "Where? I want to see it. Show me in the church handbook where it says that."
SP: "Well, it says something like that, that one of the purposes of sex is to bring couples closer together."
Me: "I know that one of the purposes of sex is to bring couples closer together, but don't you think after all that I have shared with you that there may be extenuating circumstances in my marriage?" 
SP: "Well, the brethren also mention it in conference talks."
Me: "Really? Who? I want to see that, too."
SP: "Well, they don't just come out and say it. We have to read between the lines."

By this time, a war had begun to rage within me. Part of me was screaming to tell you to shut-up. The other part was telling me you're my Stake President and I need to respect you.

Be quiet. Nod. Agree. Be a good little Latter-day Saint.

Gratefully, through the help of the Spirit, I found a middle ground that, to this day, I am still happy with:

Me:"I'm sorry, but I don't agree. I don't feel God placed us here on this earth to be slave to our sexual drive, but to rely on our Savior in order to rise above it, and master it."

You didn't hear me though. All you seemed interested in was getting me to believe what you believe. So I grabbed my purse, rose, said I couldn't listen to it anymore, and walked out.

Just as I burst out the door, I burst into sobs.
Painful, heaving, racking.

Due to the depths of my sexual addiction, I have felt like a piece of meat for most of my life. Just a body, ripe for the taking for anyone who wants it. Since starting recovery, I have fought these feelings, truly striving to see myself as the beautiful daughter of God that I am. Divinely worthy, and valuable far beyond the function of my body.

And then, somehow, you stripped me of all that work in a matter of moments.

'How COULD you!?'
'How could YOU!?'
'HOW could you!?'
'How could I let you?'

Gratefully, it's easy to not meet with you. People can go their whole lives without meeting with their Stake President, so it won't be difficult to avoid you. But I now find myself reluctant to even meet with my bishop. Rational or not, I fear I cannot trust him; the person I said I'd always have a good working relationship with in order to keep my recovery strong. Worrisome thoughts about him invade my head;

What if you talked to him about what happened?
What if you made me out to be crazy?
What if he takes your side just because you are the Stake President?
What if he believes the same things you do?

As much as I am fighting it, you have managed to instill doubt within me:

'Maybe you are right... simply because you are my Stake President.'

But, you aren't.
I swear it on everything I hold close.
My value does extend farther than the function of my body.
This I know, because my sweet brother, my Savior, has born witness of it.

And I will keep fighting to heal far passed when you told me otherwise.

Sincerely,

A healing daughter of God

(Continued, here.)

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"