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.)

24 comments:

  1. Good grief. He was soooo wrong. And good for you telling him you don't agree. And keep listening to that inner voice "Moroni tells us For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
    16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil;

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yes, it took a ton of courage for me to actually speak out. I'm so glad I did, though!

      Delete
  2. I'm so sorry you had to experience that. It just goes to show that while our leaders are often inspired, they are also human. I'm glad you were able to listen to the Spirit and receive your own guidance in this.
    I wouldn't necessarily say that you have extenuating circumstances, rather that sex can only bring a couple closer together if there is also emotional and spiritual intimacy; otherwise it is just sex and the sacredness, specialness of it, and its ability to bring a couple closer will be nonexistent. Which holds true in any marriage, not just when one or both of a couple have an addiction. I hope that makes sense!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right. It can apply to just anyone. I think I was just trying to get him to see the error of his thought process even in our circumstance. If he doesn't there, then I feel there is little hope for him seeing the truth in regards to the 'regular' folk. Sadly.

      Delete
    2. Totally understandable. I think you handled it a lot better than I would have.

      Delete
  3. I appreciate your vulnerability and the courage you displayed by pushing "publish."
    As a woman who has been in a similar situation in recovery I know and have experienced the above scene.

    The reason that I felt prompted to write is because I am desirous to invite you to a place of peace with your story. To leave the fear and the doubt behind.

    In the last three years it was common for me to return to a place of fear with my story. My biggest fear around lust addiction was that of "some other woman." I didn't know her personally but knew she was out there. I knew some other woman would be traumatized in the bishop's office in the same way that I was. I feared that some other woman would no longer believe the prompting of the Spirit and start to doubt herself because she believed she was being obedient to the counsel she received in the bishop's/stake president's office.

    I feared that because of the irresponsibility of a church leader that some other woman's husband would then be enabled and that she would go on in the darkness, pain, and in the unmanageability of being a woman married to a man struggling with lust and sex addiction. I was worried that some other woman with a story similar to mine would find herself experiencing a crisis of faith.

    What would happen to some other woman's testimony, her children, future generations, etc, if she became lost because of more trauma inside the bishop's office?

    I would worry, and fret, and try to understand. Then I would push forward motivated by my story making sure not one more woman had to endure the same level of pain that I did. Surely if I would spread the information that the stove burns, it is hot, I got burned, and this is how, others would be able to avoid the same pitfalls. I could control it so not one more woman would ever hurt again.

    Right?
    I was motivated by love, compassion, and an empathetic heart.
    I told myself I was doing the work of the Savior and I was justified.

    It wasn't until this summer where I began to mend and truly heal. As I found healing the Lord was able to speak words of truth and counsel to my heart. He was able to show me my value through His eyes. I've known it for a while, but I've finally began to internalize, not simply believe, that my value no longer comes from the lips or opinions of men, but that my value is divine, eternal, and cannot change.

    I was able to go inside and meet the amazing soul within and see the power, magnitude for good, and beauty; seeing myself in my creation being endowed with all that God is. I have a knowledge not that I will be Goddess some distant future day, but that as an eternal being it exists already. It's my reality right now. Not in a day far from today in the future after my life is over. Right now.
    It changes my experience.
    It changes how I hold my trauma and the experiences that happen to me.
    It changes how I see others.
    I allow them their own experience and journey knowing they may not be able to see from my lens.

    I used to let a bishop’s/stake president’s inability to see what I've seen and know what I know come in and tell me stories about my worth or value. These men would tell me I needed to provide more sex and satan would be right there to help me interpret my worth and value. Instead of taking the moment to stand and bear witness of my value and the things I know, he would tell me that somehow I must be wrong, because a man with a mantle from God was telling me things contrary to what I had learned in recovery.
    This summer the Lord witnessed to me that the recovery I learned was from Him and that I needed to know that it was His will to help women heal and to be in safe marital relationships.

    Before the summer, I was hurting in a deep place for the women experiencing so much pain and the Lord let me know that I had been deceived in the way I was holding this pain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanted a pain free life for my friends. Because of the pain I lived through, I wanted NO ONE else to experience it. Not ONE MORE woman. No more tears. No more betrayal. No more deception. The list of the "no mores" went on and on.

      I didn't see it. I was controlling (or feebly in the illusion of controlling) the recovery of others.

      It was very subtle.
      My plan was no more pain.

      Do you see the deception?

      That was Lucifer's plan.
      No pain. No sorrow. No heartache. No hurting.

      My plan of no more pain was inline with his.

      My Savior's plan:
      For behold, I God have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent...which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit - and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink - D&C 19

      It was the plan to have pain. It was the plan to hurt. The plan was intended to show us our own weaknesses
      Through these weaknesses we desperately turn to our Savior.

      Jacob 4
      6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
      7 Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.
      8 Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore brethren, despise not the revelations of God...
      Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.

      It is in learning and hurting and being shown my weakness that I have connected to God. If it is the plan for the Savior to suffer for us, is it not okay for me to find Him through my own suffering?
      If this suffering brought me to Him, isn't it reasonable to trust Him with the lives of my fellow women and friends affected by their loved ones addiction?

      Why is it that I can trust Him with me, and to direct my life, and to show me all of the wonders of heaven, but not my friends?

      My witness to you is that you are valuable. Eternally divine. That value never changes. It always exists throughout all eternity.
      The stake president can not see.That is sad for him. There is a place of compassion for the deception and lies he is believing. I would invite you to not internalize his deception. It does not take one ounce of grace from you. It does not take any of your light or diminish you that he cannot validate you. It is sad for him.
      You are in a position to witness and to stand firm and immovable with the testimony within you.

      Let the Lord validate you. Let Him hold your pain. The amazing truth is your soul and your spirit and your eternal Goddess were not harmed by this man's inability to see.

      I wish you well. You are a wonderful person, full of light. You are a great and mighty example to so many women. I pray for your speedy recovery and a beautiful walk in the Light with the Lord. All my love.
      Margareta

      Delete
    2. This was absolutely beautiful Margareta. Thank you. And, I do feel that healing will come eventually. I also felt that writing about it and sharing it was a step toward that healing. So I'm coming along!

      Delete
    3. Margareta, thank you for sharing. I felt such peace and a confirmation of Truth as I read your comments. This is something I'm working on these days as well. Brene Brown calls it a "hustle for worthiness". I find that many times, I get caught in a spin where I think of all the ways I can "convince" somebody that my opinion is right. Or that my decision is right.. Or that I'm ok. Or that my point of view is ok. It comes as a conversation in my head on a continuous loop. But I find that when I stop and ask
      The Lord if I'm on the right track, and He confirms it, "hustle for worthiness" stops. When He tells me I'm on the right track, then it's the only thing that matters. The only opinion that counts. And I stop having to prove myself.

      Delete
  4. Jesus Christ has redeemed me from that curse . His blood shed to free me from that slavery and bondage , into a relationship of love and truth .
    This makes me me so mad !
    UGH
    UGH
    UGH
    I think I am shaking for you !!
    You do not have to ever trust this man again ,
    unless he fully and completely repents , apologizes and expounds on how and why his statement is 100 % wrong !!! ( even then you don't ! )
    I am sorry you went through this , and thank you for your bravery writing about it !
    Purple heart to you :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow. Wow wow wow. Go you for leaving respectfully but boldly and not backing down. Maybe he needs to watch Chelom Leavitts session on Bloom about healthy sexuality. 😉 How sex can be DAMAGING if we allow it to take place in an UNHEALTHY environment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. My greatest desire at this point is just hope that he can somehow see a different perspective. :/

      Delete
  6. This still makes my blood boil, but I think you reacted in the proper way. If there's one thing I've learned from my experiences, with my parents' divorce and being single over 30, is that people will have opinions and beliefs and it does not mean they are coming from the Spirit. But I'm a member of the Church because I know it's true and I continue to attend to increase my relationship with God and my Savior. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still am so proud of myself for the way I acted. I can take no credit though, because it's so not my personality to stay so calm. I'm a blaring red. Normally I freak out. But the Spirit helped keep me seated until I really decided that I couldn't take it anymore, and then pretty much gave me the words to say as I exited. So grateful for that. Truly, I did not and do not want to disrespect my Stake President, but I've also come to a point where I won't disrespect and dishonor myself in order to preserve someone else's lack of respect. Does that make sense?

      Delete
  7. HO-LY COW! How incredibly courageous you are to share this. Your attitude is also so good that you are just stating facts and not "reading between the lines". You are not blaming him for other things, you are only addressing the issue as it stands. My hope is that he will be touched by the spirit to recognize that there are some things that need to change for him. I think that it was important that you asked to be shown where it was written. Hopefully he will go back and read so that he can have accurate information. I know that our leaders aren't perfect. None of us are. There are so many ways you could have addressed this, but you did it with kindness and respect. Not to mention that you didn't let it shake your testimony. I am honored to know you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Susan. That means a lot coming from you. I really appreciate your thoughts!

      Delete
  8. Wow Sid, thanks for sharing. Again, you inspire me. I'm so sorry those words were spoken to you and so many other women. A woman should never be made to feel it is her job to become an object to be used. It is crazy making and reminds me of the tender, broken hearts spoken of in the Book of Mormon. The mentality a woman can save her husband by becoming his vice and excuse to act out in lust is hurtful. No where it the words of God does it say it is EVER ok to lust, not even after a spouse. How quickly we forget when we place one individual's desire over another soul's worth. You are so much more. I know you know that, I just wish every man and woman on Earth knew. Sex as a means of salvation was never part of the plan. And when either person is in any form of lust, that's all you get. I hope you find resolution with your Stake President. And if not, please don't let it taint your faith. God is doing so much good through you. Keep shinning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, amen, AMEN! You said it sister. Love your guts!

      Delete
  9. Thank you so very much Sidries. This came to me at a very important time. Just 3 days ago i had a similar experience and have been feeling trauma by the whole thing with my bishop. Your brave comments have given me confidence again. I woke up this morning feeling down because of what my bishop said to me. My husband is a sex addict. Its a long story so I will just get to the point his sex addiction got so far that last year at this time he lost his job because his choices escalated to more than pornography. This year had been difficult and have not looked into geting help from my bishop because he hasn't been to much help. My husband has not treated me well during this last year and has blamed me for many things. I chose not to have sex during this time. He actually was disfellowshipped for his actions he had done at work and still is. With the help of a dear friend i had the guts to go to my bishop and ask if he would help pay for some therapy for me. He had me pray about it in his office. I felt uncomfortable about how he responded to my request but he said he would pay so i was grateful. I have been going to therapy with addo recovery since August and my therapist validates me. He sees its not my fault. My situation is so bad that when my bishop had the both of us in his office three days before i was ther by myself and when asked by him for an up date on our marriage, my husband was honest and told him he was seeking a divorce. I told the bishop at that time that if my husband wanted out it was okay. He talked with me a little and found out that I would stay if things changed. He asked us to make separate appoint ments and told us maybe thats for the best to divorce. When I cam back to see him I was prepared for him to help us get divorced because in the previous meeting he had told us that we each will have different needs and that he cared about all of us. He told me he was shocked by what my husband said and he wasnt planing on telling us what he told us and so he proceeded to tell me what he wanted to say. He wanted us to start doing nice things for each other with out expectations. That is what he was going to say. I told him I don think that is going to work. He said to me that he is a representative of the lord and he knows that i would want to follow him. I was shocked by his comment. I was already in trauma that he chanced his mind and still am. I proceeded to try to tell hi how i feel about my husband's recovery and that i didnt feel he was doing the right thing by seeking a divorce and saying to me he is working on the marriage at the same time, hoping the bishop would help me by at least telling me that that my husband needs to be totally committed to his marriage. He didnt. He told me that my husband might need to look for apartments in case he does need to get out. I said to him that I dont know a man that does that. Thank you for giving me the courage to do what I feel is right. For those three days after he told us that divorce might be the right thing i was praying to know if it was the right thing to do because he told both of us to do that. He told us both to do that because that would give use the strength to divorce. My husband had already told my bishop he prayed about it. Margerette, thank you also for caring about your friends and standing up for what is right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear sister - I am so very sorry that you have been faced with this struggle with your bishop. The inconsistency can really be so confusing, and can really damage trust. The back and forth, this way and that. It's crazy making. - I'm so glad you are finding stability with ADDO, though. They are such a good company to work with. Do you have other means of support? I happen to be tapped into quite a few resources that I could share with you. If you are interested, just email me at bythelightofgrace (at) gmail (dot) com. No pressure. - Anyway, thank you for being so open and vulnerable in your response. I applaud you!

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep hearing stories like this and keep asking myself why? Why do good men in these powerful leadership positions keep saying things like this to daughters of God? It makes me furious. It makes me frightened for these beautiful souls who have not the courage to get up and walk out and even more angry they are in that place of having to. A stake president's office should be a safe place. A place to be vulnerable and receive tender Christlike empathy. I don't have the right words for how this makes me feel for you. I'm sorry feels so lame in this situation. You amaze me.

      Delete
  11. How uneducated and mistaken your Stake President is. I would have read the scripture that says to bridle your passions to him. So many people in the church feel this way. Not long after D day I was in relief society and it was a lesson on marriage. The topic was hard enough, but then a sister proceeded to say how men have needs and that we as their wives need to fulfill them. It was insanity! I wanted to comment so badly. I was shaking. I stood up and walked out. My shock and trauma didn't allow me to speak. But I wish I would have. I wish I would have shared with the sisters what I know. We are precious daughters of God. Our feelings matter. We are not objects meant to satisfy the carnal cravings of men. Sex should only be a result of true intimacy and connection within marital bonds – nothing else. There is no room for selfishness. I really want to write your stake president a letter!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

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"