Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Oh hi there, poor forgotten blog!

Every once in a while I remember that I have this blog. Hi blog! It's crazy how different my life is now compared to previous years. I used to spend several hours a week reading blogs by other wopas (wives/ex wives of pornography addicts). I don't remember the last time I sat down and caught up on blogs. I am a little sorry that I never took the time to write here regularly. I always meant to, but blogging rarely made it to the top of my recovery to do list.
Now that I've taken the time to remember my password and log in to say hi, let's talk about the Smiths in 2015.
Life is fantastic! We are still going strong in recovery. Mr. Smith is over 3 years sober from pornography, has had great success working on that progressive victory over lust, and has basically become a completely different man. I am so deeply, completely in love with him.
My recovery is also going awesome. My journey has taken a big turn over the past 2 months. I was sick for several months at the beginning of this year and to pass the time spent laying on the couch, I had been spending quite a bit of time online on various websites and support groups trying to educate myself more about addiction, recovery, lust, raising emotionally healthy children, etc. and to support other wives and mothers going through this battle. 
This fall I realized that the time I was spending looking through instagram, facebook and those groups, or thinking about all the different amazing women and their stories, was getting in the way of being the present mother I want to be, and had turned into my own compulsive habit, maybe even addiction. I started thinking about the famous "Good, Better, Best" talk by Dallin H Oaks and feeling the need to reorganize my life and priorities. Some of the messages in this October General Conference confirmed what I felt. Then in our Regional Conference, the talks urged us to simplify every part of our lives in order to make time to grow closer to God and strengthen our families. 
That was the push I needed, so I stepped away. Deactivated facebook, cut my instagram following to only family and the people I learn most from, deleted most apps from my phone, avoided any screen time that wasn't helping me towards my goals.
It has been wonderful! Sometimes betrayal trauma or recovery can consume your life and sometimes it needs to take up a good chunk of your time. It was interesting to realize that season of my life is over and its time to move forward in another direction. There are times you need to step away to make room mentally and physically for other important things. I hope we'll always take time to support others and spread our message about the harms of pornography, sex and lust addictions, but that GOOD is not going to get in the way of the BEST things in my life.

There have been several little miracles along the way, and some big ones as well. One of the hardest parts of my life as a wopa was the feeling that I wouldn't be able to have as many children as I wanted. The times I realized another layer of how deep Mr. Smiths addiction was always lined up with being right after I found out I was pregnant. 3 pregnancies clouded by disappointment and fear. The last time I caught Mr. Smith lying about his recovery, we had just decided to have baby #3, and I realized with a heavy heart that it would be my last, because I would not keep bringing children into a broken marriage. 
Last year I realized I trusted Mr Smith enough and believed in Recovery enough to have another child. I decided to put our future in God's hands and follow the promptings to grow our family. I knew I was taking a big risk of being thrown back into triggers and Betrayal Trauma and adding more stress to our lives. I went forward with as much faith as I could find. I kept waiting to be triggered and thrust back into the feelings of fear and it just... never happened! The pregnancy was quite difficult physically, I felt sick the whole 9 months, which brought me guilt about not being the best mom to my children as I needed constant rest. But I never doubted Mr. Smith. He took such tender care of me and the kids and I felt safer than I ever have. We welcomed baby #4 this fall. It is certainly one of the most beautiful miracles I've ever experienced.

This year Mr. Smith opened up to many of our people about his addiction. He surprised me by speaking about it beautifully in a Sacrament Meeting talk, and then he just kept telling people. He teaches teenage young men in our church and speaks to them often about his experiences. He has so much empathy and love for them, I love to see him take what once was such a shameful secret, and bring it out into the light to use for good. If people get nothing else out of it, I hope they know that Mr. Smith has a testimony of Christ and the Atonement, and that recovery is possible.
It has been an amazing year.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hey there

Life is so good. Mr. Smith is still sober. 2 years and counting. Trust is back. We are checking in with each other often. We are vulnerable and honest with each other. We make out a lot. Mr. Smith got a new job so we moved to Texas. He loves his job and it's really great for him, with challenges but very little stress and anxiety. We love Texas. I am surrounded by people who are very real, open, and genuinely loving in a way that was hard for me to find in Utah County.
I'm good with everything going on in my life right now. It used to be that when things were going well it made me very nervous, where I would not even be able to enjoy the good moments because I was so scared that something terrible must be right around the corner. Life can't possible stay this perfect, right? But I am no longer letting my fears stop me from living a wholehearted life.
Recovery is possible. It is real. The Atonement is healing my husband's brain, my trauma, and our marriage. Weak things are becoming strong. Christ is real and God is good.

I wrote this for a school assignment a few weeks ago:
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by birth and also by choice. My parents raised me in a very active LDS home where Gospel principles were taught by word and by example. As I grew up I knew that my parents were happy because of their choices, not their circumstances. I thought for sure that I would always live the same way I had been taught. I lived a life that was not perfect, but I tried to do my best to live a life worthy to enter the temple when the time came.
Soon after I got married I found out that my husband had not been honest with me before we got married, and that he was addicted to pornography. This discovery felt like learning that my entire life had been a lie. I could not imagine that someone as wonderful as I believed him to be, would be capable of such awful things, particularly taking me to the sacred temple when he had been so dishonest to himself, his church leaders, family, and me. I turned to God in anger because I felt I had no one else.
This trial turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. Because I turned to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, I became acquainted with Them in a way I never knew possible. I received much personal revelation as I was guided in how to handle my new reality. In pleading for permission for a divorce in my prayers, I learned more about repentance, forgiveness, and the Atonement. The gospel of Jesus Christ that I had always depended on became very real. There were times when I wanted to walk away from the church and never return because of anger. During those times, as I wondered if I could turn my back on what I had once believed with my whole heart, I felt encircled by unseen angels who protected me from destroying myself. 
My husband eventually chose recovery and we have found healing over the years, which I am so grateful for. But even if he had not, I know what I know. God loves me. He is mindful of me every second of every day. Jesus Christ is my Savior. His Atonement makes all things possible. He constantly gives me strength beyond my own. Because of Him, I can endure any trial that will come my way. Because of this knowledge, I will stay true to my church and my God forever.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Togetherness Project

If you are a wife or ex wife who would like to be uplifted, inspired, and find some seriously amazing friends, please come to the next Togetherness Conference! October 11 in Midway, Utah.

Finding this community and attending this conference last year has done more to help my healing than almost everything else combined! I cannot even explain how much it has changed my life. PLEASE COME!!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mr Smith Recommends

There are suddenly a TON of books and other resources about pornography addiction. When we started this 6 years ago I could hardly find anything! If you need help finding them, I can totally help with that.
I just want to pass on this book that my husband credits for helping him soooo much, but I never hear anyone else talk about. It's called Willpower is Not Enough by A. Dean Byrd and Mark D. Chamberlain. (Make sure you get the authors right, there is another book with the same title). It was printed in 1995 so it can be hard to find, but there are some on amazon right now and it looks like it is available for kindle.
It's not only specific to porn addiction, but any behavior you want to change. It really helped Mr. Smith understand why he could NOT overcome his addiction on his own, but that there is hope through Christ. It has helped me as well!

I also really liked another book by Mark D. Chamberlain, Love You, Hate the Porn. It really helped me see that I was not wrong for not agreeing with the detachment model that was being heavily pushed 3 years ago, which helps a lot of wives, but I did NOT find helpful at all. I really wanted Mr. Smith and I to be able to turn to each other instead of away from each other, and this was super helpful for me. When you are both ready for recovery, read it together.

An Update, Betrayal Trauma, and In Laws...

First of all, I am doing much better this week. Sorry to leave you hanging :). I started this post last week and then life just got crazy busy and I forgot about it until I got 2 emails yesterday-thanks ladies!! Just know that it is long and kind of all over the place, sorry. I hope it makes sense.
After my last post, there were a few hard days while I felt and processed and gave mr. smith the cold shoulder, and then I was able to let it go, and turn to mr. smith, and we are okay now. I'm sad because the small amount of trust my husband had earned back over the past 2 years was gone in an instant, and I am mourning that. But I am also happy because I was able to see how much progress we had made, and I have hope now that I know it is possible to have some trust again, even if it's only a small amount. We talked a lot and I was able to get my feelings across and he understood as much as he could and did everything he could to make it right, and we are still hurting but we are strong.
And actually I feel REALLY good about my recovery as well as Mr. Smith's, because we had a very interesting conversation that showed me, not just by his words but by what I felt and what I have watched happen over the past two years, that he is capable of NEVER turning to porn again. It's hard to explain, but I really think we might be done with it, as long as he keeps doing what he knows he needs to do. And for him, that doesn't have to involve 12 step groups, it doesn't mean constant therapy, it doesn't mean he needs constant contact with a sponsor, or even our Bishop. These things are all GREAT and I'm not discounting them at all... but I always was depressed that the rest of our life would be spent fighting this addiction and it seems very busy and complicated and hard to think about constantly doing everything people tell you to do for like, 60 years, right! And now I'm realizing that maybe some addict experiences and needs are different. And maybe all my husband needed was the tools to learn how to become emotionally healthy. And once he got emotionally healthy, spiritually strong, and learned what intimacy really is, he reached a point where porn barely even tempts him anymore, it was like the porn switch got turned off.
We realized that as much as ALL the information that we've been devouring can make addiction seem extremely complicated (which it is, in a way), overcoming an addiction like his all boiled down to 3 things: Turning to Christ, learning how to become emotionally healthy, and learning true intimacy with me.
I kinda hope eventually that he will become interested in 12 step again or other support groups so he can help other guys who are struggling, but, I've turned his recovery over to him and I'm so proud of him.

Back to the last post...
Betrayal Trauma is REAL and SO INTENSE sometimes!
My mind is all over the place this morning, so forgive me if I go off on a few tangents in this post...
A week and a half ago, mr. smith did something behind my back that really hurt. It involved his parents, which is a really touchy subject around here. My in laws are those people in the Utah world that appear "perfect". They must have done things right because they had a ton of kids who all excelled in school and sports and served in the community and went on missions and got married in the temple and appear to have perfect happy marriages, right? Except that at least one son was addicted to porn for several years while living at home and behind closed doors they are usually fighting and name calling and some of them pretty much hate each other even though they call it love and they are just sooo messed up without having any idea that they are messed up. Probably shouldn't get into the issues I have had with them or we'll be here for days. But basically, I was raised in a very happy, loving, affectionate home. He was not, but his family "appears perfect". Got it? My relationship with them has been rocky from the start because they did not want me to date their son and still do things that get me thinking I'll never be good enough for them.
If you've ever watched Everybody Loves Raymond then you  know a lot about us because my husband is totally Raymond, the absolute favorite who can do no wrong (despite a HUGE thing like a porn addiction, but mr. smith is a wonderful father/husband and Raymond is NOT), his mom is Marie, who dotes on Raymond and wishes he could be her little boy forever and tries to control him even though he is a grown man and uses "love" as an excuse for getting into his private business and uses awful tricks to try to control everyone in her life, and I am Debra, the woman who is never going to be good enough despite being amazing and putting up with all this other crap. Seriously.
Years ago I realized I am never going to be able to control them or change them and I also can't change the love that my husband has for the people who raised him, so I have tried to carefully teach my husband what is healthy, what isn't, and why we need S P A C E from these people (who in my mind, are to blame for his addiction, because he was not taught or allowed to become emotionally healthy growing up in their home. I really struggled for years trying NOT to blame them, but hey, facts are facts. And the fact is, the things that they did SERIOUSLY emotionally impaired my husband and he was not given the tools to cope or recover or learn what is healthy, and we have to accept this fact to learn how to parent our children and help other families to "porn proof" our kids as much as possible.)

Okay I better stop because this is depressing me. So now you know a little of the background. Basically, we have set limits on what can and cannot be discussed with our parents and extended family because they have no concept of privacy and little things turn into huge issues up for debate and gossip and their unending input.

So Sunday morning husband discussed some things with his mother over the phone while I was in the shower that are against the limits we set together. He mentioned a very small part of it to me and I instantly knew he was lying. His face looked exactly like it did when I used to confront him about porn. I was so hurt and confused I just went up to my room and starting bawling. He came up and lied some more while trying to comfort me. I figured out what was going on when I went to his phone to text someone from church and saw a texting conversation with his mom. It is amazing how those lies felt exactly like finding out he had been hiding porn from me. Betrayal Trauma is real and even when you think you're all better, something like this can happen and throw you right back into the trenches.

Oh, and in case you don't know, Betrayal Trauma is what many spouses go through when their partner has sexually betrayed them, it is very similar to soldiers who get PTSD after war. Pleeeease go to addorecovery.com and get free therapy for betrayed spouses. It is AMAZING!!

I was in full trauma mode. Barely able to function, let alone speak openly about it. Mr. Smith texted me from work to apologize again and to ask me what I needed and I pulled my thoughts together enough to respond "I need honesty. I need you to be my partner. I need you to think of me ahead of your mom. I know you aren't telling me the whole story and because of that, I feel scared about what you are hiding. I don't feel safe, and my mind is pretty sure if you're lying about this, you're probably into porn again too."

-------Sidenote- Mr. Smith has NEVER come to me to confess porn when I didn't already know he had messed up. He only comes to me when he knows he has been caught. This really hurts and I've told him a hundred times that IT ISN'T ABOUT THE PORN! JUST COME TELL ME WHEN YOU ARE STRUGGLING! STOP TRYING TO HIDE IT!!! So the big trigger for me is when he is hiding something and lying. I think I would seriously be so honored if he came to tell me he was struggling BEFORE he had a slip up/relapse/ whatever.------

He came home and looked me in the eye and admitted he was hiding things. He told me the whole story and apologized again. Then he said how relieved he was that it wasn't porn this time, and assured me he wasn't having any struggles in that area. We cried and then laughed at how this was so similar to porn. He wanted to take care of everything himself before he came to me with the whole story-- exactly what he does when he looks at porn. He wants to solve it himself so he thinks he will get in "under control" and THEN tell me that he had struggled but was good now. Of course, it never works, addiction doesn't work that way since Satan thrives on making us think we can take care of things ourselves and hide our shame. It always gets worse and I figure what is going on before he can get any better on his own.

I tried my best to explain that just like with porn, it wasn't so much about the conversation with his mom, it was HIM HIDING IT AGAIN!! Yeah. So, we worked through it and we are good now. But holy moly it sucked and it still sucks a little to remember that I just can't trust him with some things. It is really hard sometimes to think about being married FOREVER without being able to trust my partner. How does that even work? I can't figure out how we are doing so well (except for last week) despite that. Any thoughts?

Anyone else reached a point where you think you might be done with porn forever? Is it possible? Of course I know it is, the atonement is real and perfect and INFINITE.... it just kinda boggles my mind after preparing myself for a lifetime of this! We are also being careful not to let our guard down, exactly what Satan would love us to do.

Well the kids are ready to go play. Thank you for reaching out and especially for the support last week.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tonight really hurts.

We just had one of the best weeks ever. Lots of family time. Lots of adventures in the sunshine. Celebrating an anniversary and having really amazing conversations. Conversations that made me think, wow, maybe we are actually done with the porn stuff... maybe even forever! I seriously think I woke up happier than I've EVER been.
Then Mr. Smith did something really dumb. It wasn't anything to do with porn or sex. There are basically 3 difficult things in my marriage. 1 is porn. Mr. Smith's decision behind my back involved the other 2.
When I found out, it was surprisingly similar to finding out my husband had been spending hours and hours watching porn. I felt physically ill. I cried. I wanted to kick him in the balls and punch his face and run away. It hurt sooooo badly. It feels soooo personal. I wanted to stay home from church and just eat chocolate and cry. (I hope I'm getting lots of points for pulling myself together and going to church and staying there all 3 hours. It was painful)
I'm trying really hard to be loving and choose to be happy and deal with this instead of fall into depression and anger. I'm not very successful yet.
He is apologizing and I just want to throw up.
The hardest part is I saw a text message that tells me he hasn't told me the whole truth. And I was hoping he would at some point today man up. Nope.
This feels almost exactly like porn.
Today sucks.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I just feel like writing.

I just feel like writing.
My baby started crawling last month and now she is trying to walk. She leaves my lap to explore everything in the room. Every few minutes she comes back to me and buries her head in my chest for a snuggle, then goes off to conquer another corner of the room. She gets a little further and stays away a little longer each time. Today it felt like I was looking into a mirror.
I've been trying to find myself again, pardon the cliche. Ever since I realized I have almost completely lost myself while trying to survive my marriage, I work daily to either rediscover or recreate Mrs. Smith.
I go a little further each week, become a little more vulnerable to my family and others who are earning my trust (thank you Brene Brown!). I frequently run back to Mr. Smith for a snuggle, to make sure he still loves me and is proud of me. I am happy to report he is falling in love with me deeper each time.
I follow promptings that require me to be brave. Scary things like sharing my struggles on instagram. Talking about porn on facebook. Sharing very personal things with my Sunday School class. I run back to Heavenly Father and ask, "That was right, wasn't it? You still love me, right?" And He always responds with His love. I see His hand in my life through the trials and the blessings.
I really like this rising from the ashes stuff.

Gotta go-