Episode 3: This is So Hard...And that's Okay
Trauma told me the only way to survive was to see the whole picture. My higher power and the 12-step program told me to take one step at a time.
Today is gonna be a little different than what I originally thought. It's actually 12:30am. so late at night, and I was laying in bed and I was thinking about you guys. And I was wondering what it is that God is wanting me to share with you on this particular podcast. And as I sat there laid there pondering and thinking, I was kind of flooded in my mind with different experiences that I had had, basically, in regards to how hard this is, how hard it is to go through trials that are traumatic that have deceit and manipulation and where you are constantly trying to discern or figure out what you should be doing.
As I was thinking about these things, I realized that what he wants me to share is how hard this is. And that it's okay that it is so hard. It's okay, that you don't know what to do. And it is okay that you are not sure why he isn't answering your requests. Because there were times when I would be, I don't even know how many times I was in my closet, sometimes down on my knees sometimes laying down. And just so heartbroken. Just pleading, and crying and not knowing what to do.
There was this one particular time where I felt like I was so drained, like I could not even barely move. I felt like I might die. And I remember telling my husband at that time. I honestly am not sure if I'm going to make it. My heart was so broken. It was it was shattered. It was like I had never experienced anything so painful in all my life. And I had been praying by my bed. pleading with really, I was in a calm state of being just just kind of like, I honestly do not know what to do, I really do not know what to do. I ended my prayer.
I remember how it felt to climb in my bed. It was like I climbed in so slowly. Because even too big of a breath felt like it would be too much like I might not be able to breathe it in that big. And I got in my bed and I had my hands kind of over my heart and in the middle of my chest. And almost like I was holding my heart in. And I was breathing ever so gently. Like I cannot believe this. It is so painful and heartbreaking.
I honestly didn't know what to do. I'm sure you've been there before. I'm sure you have felt like you could die. Like you just couldn't even believe it. There were a couple different instances along the way. After finding out about my husband's pornography addiction, there were times where just some of the most crazy random things happened where I felt like this is this is this is almost like, What in the world like this just makes no sense. My life felt like it was a movie. I would think there cannot be anything else that's going to happen right now and it would.
This one particular time. 2012 was when I found out that this really was an addiction. And in 2013 there was another big discovery day but that's not what I'm going to talk to you about right now. I'm going to talk to you about that was in March that second discovery day but that summer, I was praying and pleading and I was in such a bad place. I could hardly even function. I was calling constantly in this swirl in my insides of anxiety and stress and trying to discern, and my husband was telling me that I had nothing to worry about that he was sober and that he was living in recovery.
At this point, we had been going to 12 step meetings for over two years. And I kept thinking, How are things getting worse? We are going to the meetings we never miss. I was facilitating mine for spouses of addicts, and he was facilitating his for those who struggled with addiction. And I thought, why am I not getting better?
I was pondering this, as I would talk about this in counseling, as I was praying about this, I felt like I needed a reprieve. I just needed a break from thinking about all of this for for so long. And I felt like my husband needed to leave, like, go somewhere. Not this wasn't like a separation. It wasn't divorce. It wasn't anything like that at this point. But more like, I needed him to go somewhere so that he could work on him self and I could work on myself. I didn't know how this was gonna work.
I didn't know how this was going to go over with him. I had no idea. So I brought it up to him. And I said, I'm not sure really what this means. But I feel like you should just go somewhere like your own sabbatical or something. So he agreed that he would talk with his counselor about it, that they would try to figure out a plan. So he was kind of on board and I thought, Okay, this might this might work.
Now, at this point, I felt like he was doing recovery, I thought that he was doing all the work and visiting his counselor and doing the 12 step meetings. So he came back from counseling, and he had a plan. And he's like, Okay, this is what I think we're gonna do. My two older kids at the time, were heading off to go to a church camp type thing out of state where we lived.
He thought, okay, we will go drop those two off. And then we'll put me in a remote, little cabin, where and I'll bring all my recovery books, and I will spend the week working on recovery. And then I'll pick up the kids head to somewhere where we usually go as a family, and we play tennis and stuff like that. And I'll go and well, you'll have two weeks away from me, and I'll have two weeks working on recovery.
I thought this sounded great. We made a plan, we decided that we would get a lockbox and he would put his phone in it. We bought him a gophone that would just have my number in it. We put the TV controller remote in this lockbox, and he was all set to talk with God, to work on recovery, and do his work. We were actually really excited about it. That happens, he goes there. And those first few days that he was gone, I was at home with my other two kids, and one of my children broke their arm. And it was to the point where they needed surgery on it. And so it was one of those things that I needed to call him.
I text him on the go phone, and he called me. When I answered the phone, I told him what was going on, He said, I am so glad I came to this place. This has been so amazing. I am just sitting out in nature, I am working on recovery. And he's crying. And he's telling me how great it is. And he's, he's talking about his prayers with God. And he's telling me the awareness that he's having, and all these neat things that are going on for his recovery.
I hang up the phone, and I'm like, Oh my gosh, this is so amazing. I'm praising God. And I'm like, you are unbelievable. This is so great. I'm so glad that he went on this, I'm so glad we're going to be okay. And this is going to be so good. And I felt on top of the world.
A year later, my husband ends up in rehab, a 90 day treatment facility for sex and pornography addiction. And there he had to write his disclosure, which has his whole history of everything that he has done in his addiction. And in that disclosure, this story came out. What I learned is that it's not the way I thought it was. Before we left on that trip, he went in my drawers and he found the code to the lockbox.
The minute we left he had access to everything. And none of that recovery work actually happened. Well, there could have been some. But instead, that week was acting out. That week was talking to and communicating with different people that he was having online affairs with. When I found that out, it was one of those things that like, It shocked me to my core.
It wasn't like I asked him how his recovery was going. I didn't say what books are you reading? I didn't say, what are you doing in prayer and, and what is working for you in your healing. I didn't ask him. He offered up, lie after lie after lie. And I felt shocked, disappointed, angry, nervous, fearful. And I turned to God. And I said, I do not understand. I was mad. I was upset. I cannot believe that he asked me to have him go on this sabbatical when he knew what was going to happen. And how am I supposed to come to terms with that? How am I supposed to trust God? What was I supposed to do with this information?
As I talked it out with God and told him how I felt, because that's really how I work with them. I tell them exactly how I'm feeling even when I'm upset with them. I tell him, and he can hear it, he listens. It doesn't matter to him if I'm upset. I mean, it matters to him that I'm upset, but he's not mad at me for being upset with him. He understands. He understands where I'm at. He understands what I've been through. He gets it.
As I'm talking to him about this, and saying, I feel so heartbroken that this happened, what am I supposed to do with this? He basically inspired me with different kinds of things. But the main thing that I got from it was, he was taking care of me. He knew that I could not take another day. He knew I wasn't ready to leave yet. I wasn't ready to totally see the truth. I still was so hopeful that my husband would choose into recovery, I still was trying to fight for the marriage.
But he knew that my husband wasn't sober. He knew he hadn't been sober the entire time since 2012. I didn't know that because he was professing his innocence. But God knew. And so God was giving me what I needed. I wasn't ready to, to find out the truth. I wasn't ready to end the marriage. But I needed a reprieve. And he gave that to me. He blessed me.
He couldn't make my husband not do that. Well, I mean, I guess he can. But he's not going to the majority of the time, he's not going to make somebody do something. He's going to offer them choices, he's going to offer them tools, he's going to offer them two different ways you want to go this direction or this direction. But he's not going to make any of us choose. So he was not going to make my husband not hurt me. He wasn't going to do it. But what he was going to do is walk alongside me.
He was going to show me how to get through it, and then out on the other side. And that was one of those clear moments when I could see his hand, where I could see that my husband wasn't going to be sober whether he was in my house or not. It didn't matter at that point. That wasn't what the issue was. The issue was, I was not functioning. Because I was living in a house that my partner was not being honest with me on a daily basis. And I did not know how to come to terms with that.
I didn't know how to trust what I was feeling, what I was thinking, what my gut instinct was telling me. I just didn't know how to do it yet. I still had things to learn. So as I was thinking about that experience tonight, when I was laying in bed, where God shared that he wanted you guys to know that this is hard. And he knows it is and he knows what you're going through. And he knows it feels like you could just die sometimes. And he knows you don't always know how to do it. And all he wants is for you to not know how to do it with him. Let him show you. Let him help you. Let him teach you. Let him guide you.
In my book, I share something about a puzzle. I wanted to see all the pieces. I wanted him to tell me what I was supposed to do and how it looked and how it would be okay in the end. Because in my mind, everything was going to be okay that's what I was fighting for. Well, it was okay just not in the way I thought. But I thought I was fighting for a marriage that was going to stay together. So what I wanted was him to show me the big picture.
During this time when I was pleading with him and begging him to please just show me the whole thing I need to see it. I felt from him that if he showed me the whole thing, it would be too much. And I thought, well, why would it be too much? Because if you just show it to me, then I'll know that's what's going to happen. And I felt like he was basically saying to me, you think that. You think you'll be okay. But you're still going to second guess everything because none of it will make sense to you. It's not going to make sense if I'm asking you to do these crazy things. And you don't, you don't necessarily believe that.
So instead, I saw this picture in my mind of a puzzle. And the puzzle had the bottom row kind of the edge done, and there was a, some of them going up the sides, and there was a middle middle section kind of going up. And all the pieces are laying on the table. And I'm supposed to put it together. But the problem is, is there's no box with the picture on it. So I don't actually know what it looks like. So I'm supposed to put this together. And there's all these pieces. And I'm thinking, well, how am I supposed to put it together if I don't know what it looks like? And he said, right, God inspired me with. That's exactly right.
You do not know what the whole picture looks like. So instead, I want you to take a piece, bring it to me, ask me where it goes, and how to put it in the right spot. I will show you, you'll go do it, and then come back to me and I'll give you the next piece. Step by step. One thing at a time.
What makes me so crazy, and it's so hard for me is when I take on the entire whole picture of what it is that I'm wanting to accomplish. It's like I'm gathering in everything I can hold in my arms, big out wide stretched out arms. And I am trying to hold it all everything I'm supposed to do. And I'm looking at it all holding it all dropping it, I can't I can't do it. Yet, I'm trying to solve all of it at once. So what he's trying to show me is, why don't we just take one piece at a time. That's it, just one piece.
Drop the whole big pile of it. And let's just do one piece. And that's kind of like with the puzzle,. Just do one piece, then come back to me. I'll tell you, you did a great job and I'm going to give you the next piece. It made sense to me. And I still work on that stuff today. And sometimes I forget because I look at a project and I take it on as a whole. And instead I just need to take it on one step at a time.
I find that when I'm taking things on as a whole, I tend to use all my own energy, to worry about it, stress about it, think about how it supposed to be done. And then I get myself all worked up and overwhelmed. But when I remember that God's in charge, and it's either his plan or mine, and his is always better than mine, then I can take a step back. And I can say okay, I'm using way too much of my own energy. And I can pray and ask him, Hey, this is something that you want me to do. This is something I feel inspired about. So I need help. And I need to use your energy instead of my own.
When I remember that, and I work on that, and I use that tool, it works. And the burden that's on my shoulders lifts, and I might have some anxiety or stress because of the unknown of how I'm supposed to get something done, but not near as much as when I take it on as a whole and try to do it all myself. Everything that I'm learning, every puzzle piece that I put in the right spot, gives me a greater perspective. My eyes are clear, I can see different things, I feel different things. And as I was able to learn those principles of one step at a time,
I started learning to trust myself as well. You can't really know what you don't know. And I can look back after I've learned a bunch of things and kind of be mad at my old self for not knowing. But my old self didn't know. It didn't have any knowledge. It didn't have any tools yet on how to make it through betrayal, trauma, how to see what addiction really is, how to learn when an addict is in their addict mode, and lying and manipulating and gaslighting or when they're talking to you, as the person that you know and love.
I had to learn to know what the difference was and see the difference. And it wasn't until I practiced and learned and made mistakes and didn't know what I was doing. It wasn't until I went through all of that stuff that I could change and become different. And those changes are what brought me through it in the end to know what to do and know how to do it. As I started Learning, I started to feel empowered. I started to feel excited even.
Even though I was still totally unsure and stressed out, I was also feeling like I was finally getting it. And that I could make decisions and I could set boundaries and do things that would start to change me and my life that I didn't have to do everything based on what my husband said or didn't say, or what he did or didn't do. Because at first, when I first found out about the addiction, and that first probably year or a year and a half, I felt like I was on a roller coaster with what he was doing.
If he was working recovery, then I was on this high, if I wasn't seeing him go to his meetings, then I was on the low and I was stressed and nervous. If he was talking with me loving and kind and sweet, the person who I married, then I would think okay, okay, all as well, if he was talking to me and mocking and having no time for me, then I was stressed that he was acting out. And I was constantly looking for ways to prove what he was doing or what he wasn't. And so I was making myself crazy.
The only way that I could get off of that roller coaster was to learn how to disengage from what he was or wasn't doing. I had to learn to be okay, regardless of what he was doing. And that was probably the most important thing I learned was, how to not take on or be emotionally attached to what he was doing. That was something that I came to later, I worked on doing the 12 steps for myself with the AA book.
I had a sponsor, and she walked me through it and and we'll get into that another time. But that was really life changing for me, because it was the first time that I was able to separate myself from the addiction. It gave me the power to be okay, even if he wasn't, and that was life changing. That just was everything to me at that moment. I thought, wow, I can actually be happy, even if he's acting out? That didn't make any sense. But it was true.
Working the 12 steps actually works. And it changed my life. If I hadn't done the work for me, I wouldn't be doing okay, now. It doesn't just magically go away. The heartache, the sadness, the chaos, the depression, the anxiety, it stays there, unless you do the work. And there were many times that I was faced with that choice, kind of like a crossroads. Are you going to do the work? Or are you going to basically just sit down and curl up in a ball?
Sometimes I did sit and curl in a ball for a little while. But it doesn't change anything. And so I would eventually say okay, okay, no, I'm gonna do the work. I know, it's painful. I know, it's hard. But I really want to get on the other side of this. And doing the work gets you on the other side. Every piece that I cleared, every new sunlight ray that came in through my eyes, was new hope, was another piece of healing, was another piece of finding myself again. I felt like I was lost. I felt like I was gone. I was no longer the same person that I was.
As I chose into doing the different work that was brought to my attention from other people or my counselor, it brought me this new found peace that I made it through something. And yeah, there was more, there was a lot more that I had to make it through. But as I did it, I found that me, the me that was buried under all of that heartache and shame and terrible experiences, and I came out on the other side.
That's why it's so important. That's why it is vital to your future, to your family, to your job, to whatever your goals and plans are in your life, to find you again to remember who you are and how worth it you are and that you are capable and strong enough to do this. And the cool thing is, is that you do not have to do it alone. There are so many resources. There are people who have gone before you and God is there for you.
Even if you're not ready to listen to him, he's still not going to leave you. If you are struggling with your relationship with him, if you don't know how to reach back out or tell him your feelings, just start with something simple. Start with something that you haven't done in a really long time. Maybe it is writing a letter to him. Maybe it's just a simple prayer. And as you're striving to gain a relationship with God, or trying to improve the one that you have, just remember that he will meet you where you are.
You don't have to be anything more than you are. You can give him just the smallest amount, and he's going to be there. And if you still can't feel him, just like we talked about in last week's podcast, he's going to send you people, he's going to send you quotes, he's going to send you podcasts, he's going to send you stories, he's going to send you a neighbor that comes over and says something or brings you something. That's him. That's him using other people to help you.
So even if you feel like he's not there, look around, notice what good things are happening to you, and who was showing up for you. That's his way. He's there. And I'm here, and I want to help you through this. And I want to be able to gift you the tools and knowledge that he brought me when I was going through so many hard things. And even though things are so painful at times, the pain I experienced that was so severe was between 2012 and 2016 before I got to the other side. For me, it took a really long time, to get through it and to feel peace and freedom.
But I can tell you now, I feel whole. I feel so good. I don't feel broken. I don't feel like I live in trauma. I don't live in chaos. Life isn't perfect, but I feel peace and happiness. As you choose in to the work that's ahead of you, you can also feel that same peace and freedom. We'll see you next time.