Monday, March 19, 2018

My B-Day

Gavin and Shipton helping me put the demo boxes together.  It has been about a 6 months process start to finish, but we were given the go-ahead to assemble care packages for the women in our stake battling betrayal trauma from a spouse's sexual infidelity! Each item was clearly meant to be included (check out Mark's video HERE to see what they are like). I was expecting a request for maybe 20, but the bishops asked for 60 (so we did 70 to have a 10-box-buffer). My family could help me do a few of these, but 70!?! I quickly realized this was bigger than us, which is how it should be. As I considered possible dates, I realized my B-Day was coming...I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my life than by making others' lives brighter! With amazing connections that were truly God sent, everything arrived on time. As we made our final preparations for these, it has been a beautiful experience for me. There is healing in paying it forward, making the path smoother and clearer for others, and pointing others to Christ. It doesn't change what happened, but at the same time, it softens the experiences from the past and allows even more love into my own heart. I believe one reason we go through difficulty is that God can use us to reach His other children; we would be unable to do so without our experiences.

Sennika helping to carefully measure, cut, and heat seal-the ribbon. The care packages came together with our entire family working together on the prep work. I appreciate their love, support, and interest. I didn't remember to take a single picture or movie clip of my "B-Day party" (our care package assembly party), but it was incredible. It gave me goose bumps seeing all of the beautiful boxes lined up against the wall, knowing they represent women who will hopefully have a smoother healing process because of our efforts. I cannot fully articulate what it meant to me that night. As my life was completely shattered, I was alone and had no idea where to turn. We had already been working with therapists for about 6 months previously and things had only gotten worse. I felt like I was the only one in my situation and I had no idea where to start, let alone what to do. But to have an entire roomful of people coming together to support these packages plus easily double that who couldn't be in two places at once, did something to my heart. People care! They really do! These people were there because they care about me...but they also care about women facing betrayal trauma. I have no idea what the chances are that any of the women who receive one of these packages will see this post, but if they do, I want them to know that they are so loved. Complete strangers love you. Your friends, family, and leaders love you. God loves you. You are known, even in moments of darkness, despair, and darkness. I am kicking myself that I didn't film it for you so you could experience that, but know that you aren't alone!
A woman in my self-reliance group made me a birthday basket. It was so thoughtful!

Mark scheduled my B-day off, which was a nice surprise. We snuck away for lunch together.

My beautiful roses aren't as fresh today as they were when Mark gave them to me, but their fragrance has filled the house.
It was a wonderful celebration surrounded by those who love me. I appreciate family and friends who couldn't be with me in person, but still reached out on my special day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

My Name is Sally*

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality.

My Story

Hi I’m Sally and I’m a recovering addict, recovering codependent, sexual trauma and betrayal trauma survivor. I’m also the wife to a recovering addict.  My life has been steeped in addiction in one way or another from all angles. Not only am I a recovering codependent due to addiction, but a generational codependent.  

    From my first paragraph, I am certain pictures of dark smoke filled rooms, alcohol, needles, like we see in the movies, would fill the minds of most.  Actually though, I’m that sister sitting next to you in church who has filled numerous callings, holds a temple recommend, in fact we have served together often. I’ve been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my whole life. I have gone to great lengths to make you think I’m as normal as the next person, yes, I’m a recovering perfectionist too. I feel like I should just state, “Hi I’m Sally and I’m in recovery period.” The truth is, we all are.  We will be recovering from many things in this life because we were sent to experience opposition in all things. I am 47 years old, and this last year was the first time I embraced my whole story and that is when true healing began. No one should have to struggle alone. So, I opened up and told my story in effort to educate, reach out, and help others. I have been richly blessed as I have been tutored by the hand of my all-knowing, loving Savior, Jesus Christ through His recovery plan. I had no idea when I began this journey that I would find the peace I now enjoy. I pray my words will bring comfort and lead many to the Savior where they too can find solace in His healing balm.

My Youth

     I was introduced to the world of sexual type addictions at a very young age. My first encounter was 4 years old. I hadn’t even been taught yet about the dangers. I carried a lot of anger over this fact for many years. My innocence was robbed so early on. Once I was given those God given sexual feelings, it became very difficult to put them away. A little at a time, in my home and the homes of other children, I was taught things no child should be taught by other children. They had all been hurt by someone else, unfortunately mostly family. Some were sexually abused by adults, some by teenagers. The last piece placed in my path was pornography. By 8 years old I had a full blown sexual addiction and soon after, I was addicted to pornography. Almost everything that happened to me happened while parents were home and often behind closed doors.
If I could share one thing that would prevent anyone from crossing into the private hell of addiction, it would be this experience I had at nine. At this point my parent’s eyes were partially open to the seriousness of the struggles I was having. I’m certain there were many tears and much pain as my parents prayed for me. I’m sure there were many prayers that went out in my behalf. I, however, denied having a problem and continued to struggle.
I am able to trace this experience I’m about to share back to the exact age because I received a very special gift at this time. A favorite Aunt and best friend, was preparing to go to Seminary and had received a new set of scriptures. I adored my aunt and we spent much time together. I attribute much of my healing to her example and unconditional love. She was much like an older sister. She had this beautiful Book of Mormon that was in a cream colored zipped pouch. I felt the book was special and desired to have one for myself just like it. When she received her seminary scriptures, she gave it to me.
I recognize now that this was a pivotal time in my life as the feelings of the Holy Spirit prompted me to begin reading on my own. I don’t remember what I read only how they made me feel. Oh, how I loved those scriptures. After I started reading the scriptures, I started to have nightmares.  It was the same dream and it only happened when I was reading my scriptures and praying.  The dream began with a heartbeat that got louder and louder, then I saw a man, and he just sat there laughing at me.  I was completely frozen and couldn’t move my body at all. I went to my parents and told them what was happening. They told me that if I prayed and kept reading my scriptures, they would stop. Only instead of stopping, what happened is, the more I read and prayed, the more it happened. This went on for several weeks and was to the point that I was terrified to even go to sleep. I had the same nightmare each night I read my scriptures and prayed. It wasn’t until my father laid his hands on my head and gave me a priesthood blessing that the nightmares finally stopped.
Step one in the LDS Family Service 12 Step Program reads, “Honesty: Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions.” This describes my experience perfectly. I was powerless against the destroyer of souls, even with reading my scriptures and praying, because I was bound in the chains of addiction. This is what addiction does to you. It freezes you, binds you, and keeps you stuck as the Adversary, the Father of all lies, laughs at you. Though prayer and scripture study are vital parts of the recovery process, because I was lying about my addiction, I was literally bound. I, myself, was completely powerless to overcome my addiction and my life was in the control of the adversary.
As I grew older, attended church, participated in Family Home Evening and Scripture study, I continued to have experiences with the gentle feelings of the spirit. I was still struggling, still keeping most of my struggles to myself and still very much personally steeped in addiction. Somewhere between the age of 14-16, I remember attending a fireside by our Stake President. He was definitely called of God for my generation in our area.  I remember bits and pieces of what he taught, but what was most life changing for me was when he invited us to read the “Miracle of Forgiveness.” I also remember him sharing his own failings from his youth. This really made him relatable for me and filled me with hope that perhaps I could become something better.
My parents had a copy of the book in our library, and I began to read from it and allowed myself to become tutored by the spirit. This book helped me take an honest look at myself. It wasn’t an easy book to read, but was pivotal in helping me recognize what I was doing was a sin and taught me what I must do to repent. I finally went to my mother and fully disclosed all that I was going through and struggling with. She handled it beautifully and I felt of her love. We talked about what I must do and she helped me gain the courage to go talk to my Bishop. I went and talked with him, but relapsed shortly after visiting with him.
I continued to struggle of and on. I felt the weight of my burden and felt so much shame. I felt because I am a woman, that it was somehow worse. I attended seminary, kept trying to overcome, but it was difficult. After graduation, I received an unusual calling. I was called to be in a musical production with the assignment to play the lead part of Cindy, a drug addict, in the play “It’s My Life” by Carol Lynn Pierson and Lex De Azevedo. I really feel this was another piece to my personal healing. I was taught so much about addiction. I marvel to this day that I was called to this assignment, it was a tender mercy for me, one who was struggling with not drug or alcohol addiction, but sexual addiction. I had a full testimony of the gospel by this time and desperately wanted to be rid of the addiction once and for all. I went and spoke with my Bishop and explained the situation, my prior attempts to stop, and asked if he could give me a healing blessing. I had done all that I could do to overcome. After my blessing, we met a few times. I was able to report to Bishop that I was finally doing well. I was in a state of recovery. The Savior stepped in and made the difference.

Marriage & Divorce

I wish I could say I lived happily ever after, but my life only got much more difficult. A year and a half later, I was married in the temple to my high school sweetheart.  A year later after that I got pregnant and found myself in the midst of divorce. My divorce was finalized just under a week from the birth of my first daughter. I am not at liberty to share the details of all that happened here. What I can share is that even though divorce is not of the Lord, I was carried in my adversity. This is when I learned for myself that the Lord can lead us into other paths when necessary for our own personal salvation.  I was blessed with dreams that helped guide me in all of my decisions, it was during this time that I learned to lean on my Savior at a whole new level. My heart was broken and I never thought I was ever going to recover, but I did.
I had three dreams during my relationship with my then husband, one was a pre-warning of what was to come, the second one was telling me it was time to change my course, and the third came when I was considering reconciling my marriage due to confusion, after much prayer the Lord showed me some things that were taking place that had been hidden from me. Later, after the divorce, everything was fully disclosed to me, that added another witness that my dreams were in fact from the Lord. Even at my young age, and with all my imperfections and difficult past, I had indeed been blessed with a spiritual gift.  


My second husband and I started dating when my daughter was just a few months old. It wasn’t long before I received a witness that we should marry. He loved me and my daughter. He was sweet, kind and gentle. We were married by time she was 8 months old. Together we have a family of four. One daughter (He adopted her) and three sons.  When we first got married it was difficult, we didn’t know it then, but I was still struggling under the weight of my prior marriage. It made it a bit rough.
My husband is a convert to the church and didn’t join until 12. Growing up he was constantly subjected to pornography because his grandfather left magazines laying around. My husband’s past is much like my own. He too went through the steps of repentance and served a mission. As we were raising our family my husband had a relapse with his pornography addiction. The signs were there, but he denied having a problem. He was afraid if I ever found out, that I would leave him too because of my prior divorce. Satan was using fear to keep him silent. I suspected his problem and kept feeling like I was going crazy, then one night while lying in bed I had an impression to go check on him, but to be really quiet as I approached. This is when I caught him. He still denied the severity of the problem, but did go into the Bishop.
It was at this point that I really began struggling emotionally.  I was in full blown betrayal trauma. I became depressed, withdrew from friends and was overwhelmed by what I was being called to go through. I started having symptoms of PTSD, which included panic attacks, nightmares and horrible anxiety. I was so depressed that at the end of each day, often the only prayer I could offer was, “Heavenly Father, I need help!” Which was always answered with, “It’s on its way, hang on.” I was afraid to talk to anyone about what I was going through and suffered in silence for five years. Only a few were aware.
To make matters worse my sweetheart’s dad died leaving us with the responsibility to care for his aging mother who was ill. Our son while serving a mission got really ill and ended up with a life-threatening illness at the same time, I was working and my own health was going down fast due to stuffing all the emotions from what our family was going through. The only thing that got me through was I was serving as a Seminary Teacher and studying the gospel daily. It’s the only thing that kept me from sinking completely into a state of despair.
I finally called and made an appointment with a counselor. I knew I was having an emotional breakdown and was trying to do more than I could handle. I decided to get away from the family for a bit and I took a class at the Salt Palace called “Master Your Influence” by Kirk Duncan. I loved the class so much that I signed my husband up for the next class. He loved the class and really helped us strengthen our relationship. We then attended another class called “Royalty and Romance”. Kirk, our teacher, touched the heart of my husband and gave him back to me. On our drive home after this class, my husband pulled over, and I received an honest disclosure of his past. He had been free from his addiction since the time I caught him.  He was so affected by how much it had hurt me that he never dared go back. He scheduled an appointment with the Bishop and gave an honest disclosure of his past and completed the repentance process. At this point I was being mentored and taking mentor classes.  We took many classes together as a way to bond and strengthen our relationship. On the way to Salt Lake and back home we listened to Brene Brown on CD and I read her books out loud.  We spent a year strengthening our relationship taking these frequent trips and classes. It was absolutely necessary to the healing of our relationship. It was the first time we had something we were doing together that we both loved. It truly saved our marriage.
My husband and I began to talk about opening up about our story in an effort to provide support for others, however, fear of what others would think kept poking up its ugly head. Instead we stayed quiet until I read an online post where a Mormon author came out with a blog post about men needing to stop breaking the hearts of their tender wives. The way he presented it, and the notion that men can just quit addiction cold turkey, though some have, woke something up in me. I knew at that moment I had to open my mouth and speak. There was simply too much ignorance on the subject to be quite any more. At the moment, “Inside to Empathy” was born, and I began to blog my story in hope of educating people how to be a better help and support. As I blogged, I ended up hitting a wall. In opening up and being so vulnerable about my life, my PTSD symptoms started to surface again. I had to take a break from blogging and just focus on healing. I ended up hiring a personal mentor who specialized in overcoming the struggles I was having and I am still working with her.
While opening up and blogging, I fell in love with the LDS Family Services 12 step program.  I was going to group on a regular basis and actually visited my past experiences while going through it and found additional healing there.  Not only that, I started studying in depth the Spouse and Family program put out by LDS Family Services.  I have such a strong testimony of this program and love the podcasts that are available to listen to. I have experienced some amazing healing experiences as I have been focusing on my recovery. As I studied the LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program, I felt so close to my Savior. I recognize daily that there isn’t anything I have or currently experiencing that my Savior hasn’t felt first.  
I also fell in love with the books, “Strengthening the Family” and “Strengthening Marriage”. These were also put out by LDS Family Services and have a lot of clinical work in them. Between all my training as a mentor, my favorite reads, including “Overcoming Codependency” by Douglas Dobberfuhl, I have found so much help and healing. This last book mentioned helped me understand the gospel perspective of Codependency and helped understand how to work the 12 step program in a more spiritual sense. It is here, that I learned for the first time that codependency is actually the opposite of Charity, the pure love of Christ.
This last General Conference, after listening to the men’s session, I began to start praying for Charity.  As I have started doing this, the spirit has been tutoring me. My heart is changing in ways I have longed for, for many years. I truly have a testimony that a study of the gospel will change behavior quicker than a study of behavior will. I have witnessed this personally in my life repeatedly.
With my love of the gospel and the Church’s inspired programs I found myself desiring to become an ARP missionary.  A few weeks later, my husband and I were called into the Stake President’s office and were called to be ARP Missionaries.  We absolutely love this calling and have such a strong testimony of the program.  I testify that the Savior is truly the master physician to recovery. I love the people we work with and am looking forward to seeing the miracles of the Savior unfold in their lives like it has in ours. This call has added so much healing and strength to our marriage.
I have learned that sometimes the answer is to leave a companion, but most often the answer is to stay. This is a personal decision that must be made prayerfully. I have received both answers in my life time. My own experience with addiction from my youth has given me a perspective that has blessed me in being able to extend empathy to those who struggle and relapse. I get it.  I owe everything to my Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, I would not be who I am today.

Monday, February 26, 2018

You are invited to my B-Day party!

Come join us to help shape other women's futures: Saturday, March 17th from 6:30-7:30 pm at the Diversity Dance of Utah dance studio.  The owner is so kind to donate the use of her beautiful building for this event.  No gifts please!  Just COME and bring your wonderful self!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Righteous Desires

ANY Righteous Desire

I read that verse over and over again until I had read it probably a dozen times in a row.  "Does it really say that?" I kept excitedly asking myself.  Because it was such a familiar verse, I usually just skimmed it, but this time with new eyes to see, an unexpected message penetrated my receptive heart.

"And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another" (Mosiah 4:21).

The other times I had read this verse I had zoomed in on the parts about being charitable and recognizing how dependent I am on God for everything He provides for me.  For the first time, however, I read this: "...God...doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive..."


Yes.  And then just a few nights later my daughter and I came across almost the exact same words:

"And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you" (3 Nephi 18:20).

I could not believe I came across these words twice in only a matter of days!  I had some pretty big righteous desires...namely, Mark and I would love to continue to add to our family.  We have only dipped our toes into the world of adoption, yet already, there have been up's and down's.  At the time I discovered these words, it was at a low-point with adoption.  I felt like it was requiring more vulnerability than I could maintain and it felt like it would never happen.  With fresh vigor from these verses, my hope was renewed.  God said "whatsoever" and what could possibly be more right than adding another child(ren) to our family?

Since my first exposure to righteous desires in this context about 18 months ago, I have tagged 31 other verses or words from prophets and apostles in my LDS gospel app.  God will give us whatever we desire in righteousness and faith.  Whatsoever. Period.  Listen to a few others:

"Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it" (Enos 1:15).

"Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothings, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth" (Mormon 9:21).

"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).

"If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14).

Now with more life experiences, :) I am learning that there is a deeper dimension to this than I caught at first-glance.  Let me explain...

Not Shrinking

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation...And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good---yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit...And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive" (D&C 11:8, 12, & 14).

A new righteous desire has grown in my heart: the desire to make the way better for other women.  As I have counseled with God about sharing hope and light in this way, I have been reminded of who I was before I came to this earth---of who I truly am.  I have desired this with all my heart and have caught small glimpses of the beautiful possibilities as God has prepared the way and opened up doors.  It has been humbling and amazing to watch the ways God has empowered me to "be the means of doing much good in this generation." Just like with adoption, however, things haven't come together how or when I have expected they would. :)

I have tackled this desire with eagerness, passion, and urgency.  Women needed better resources years ago and so everything "has to" come out as quickly as possible.  As seeming road-blocks, dead-ends, or delays have popped up, it's been easy to become frustrated, discouraged, or to doubt myself or the unique ways God needs me to play my small part in His plan.  I didn't understand why everything wasn't happening quickly or smoothly when it was such a "straight shot."

And then it clicked!  God has blessed me with numerous opportunities to trust Him, His wisdom, and His timing.  These opportunities have always come with a bitter cup, though.  It has been those life experiences where my initial reaction has been to turn away from them and fight against them.  It's these Divinely designed experiences that have shaped me into who I am and becoming---He has needed me to not shrink back from them.  They were the experiences that were necessary for me to pass through.   Some of these life experiences have been difficult to become willing to accept, but it is a surrender process that has become more and more familiar.  Trusting Him with righteous desires is new territory for me, but once He gently helped me make the connection to not shrinking here either, it is actually a familiar process. At its roots it's the same thing---a deeper dimension of not shrinking.

Just as we can choose to pass through heartbreak with grace and patience, we can also choose to wait patiently on the Lord as the most righteous desires of our heart gently unfold.   We can choose not to shrink away from the ways God sees fit to allow this process to take place.


How many of our righteous desires will God bring about?  This far into this process, I still believe it's 100%.  That may come as we get better at tuning in more fully to His will.  Sometimes we desire things for righteous reasons, but that doesn't automatically make it right.  That is our first task---to separate from our own will as we (an individual AND God) prayerfully design our intentions.

I believe that 100% also comes as we allow God to work in our lives---how and when He needs to. This, again, requires the detachment from our own will as He takes our deepest intentions and most righteous desires and begins to work with them.  Things may not look like what we were expecting...AT.ALL.  Because we are acclimated to living in a fallen world, we may be constantly casting judgement. ("That is a loss or a set-back.  I cannot believe that just happened!"  Or even the opposite! We quickly assume that we "have it in the bag" by assigning "good" or "gain" labels to circumstances or events.  How do we even know what is actually going to propel us forward or send us in a better direction with our limited mortal perspective?!  Isn't that amazing to consider on?  It's easy to cast hasty judgement that is so far from God's view of our lives.)

After our intentions have been sent Heavenward, we need to learn to just be.  Whatever is in this moment is.  It's this moment...not what has happened or what is going to happen.  Just because something is before us right now doesn't mean all is lost! We can trust that if we have counseled with the Lord on what is right and set those intentions as righteous desires then it is enough.   "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us:  and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him" (1 John 5:14-15).

Sometimes the seeming "delay" of these righteous desires can be challenging as well.  Satan may find it the opportune time to taunt or mock us.  If we are not careful, we may begin to actually believe the lies he offers and back down from our intentions.  "Delays" are Divinely guided...even those "delays"that mean our righteous desires are not brought about in this life.

As I got the second rejection letter from the publishing company for my book, I couldn't understand as easily as the first rejection.  Just like I have spoken about already in this post, beautiful and incredible things have happened as I can now see more of the picture of how and when things need to come together for this righteous desire.  I can't speak of these details yet, but hopefully soon.

That night as I read the second rejection letter, it was harder to take.  I reached out to a wise friend who has been there too.  Her loving words pointed out that for those who seek to actively participate in preaching the gospel in the ways that I have felt called to do, it is a path that requires deep, deep refinement.  I believe our desires to do good and serve those around us with our Savior naturally unfolds the sanctification process. We must be better than we have been in order to assist in Christ's work...we must become more and more like our Savior and our Father in order to be on Their errand. Most mortals can only tolerate this as a process...that is why God teaches us "line upon line." We cannot immediately jump from full-blown natural man back into God's presence. :)  We need more practice.

In the few months since the correspondence with my friend, I have had a tiny glimpse of the truthfulness of her words.  She is right.  There is so much refining of me in order to be the instrument of light that God intends for me to be.  What would it be like to speak with such power "...that [it is impossible for those in my circle of influence to] disbelieve [my] words, for so great [is my] faith on the Lord Jesus" (3 Nephi 7:18)?!

I have a long, long, long way to go!  And so, as I have set my intentions according to God's will and the righteous desires of my heart, why become impatient with the twists and turns that this process requires?  I may not understand why, how, or when, but God does.  If we have aligned our intentions righteously with God's will, we can trust, wait patiently, and choose to not shrink from the ways and times He sees fit to bring our righteous desires about.

One last passage.  This verse is one I have shared before, but let me share parts of the surrounding verses too this time:  "Trust in the Lord, and do good...delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.  And He shall bring forth they righteousness as the light, and they judgement as the noonday.  Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself...Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself...Those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth" (Psalm 37: 3-9).

I can trust God even more---more than I ever have before---knowing that He has heard the desires of my heart and will bring them to pass according to His wisdom and His plan...not mine (thankfully!).  

Friday, January 26, 2018

D-Day + 6 years

Can you spot all 4 kiddos in this picture?  They are lining up for Super Man rides. :)
This Trauma-versary wasn't like the one in the Fall.  It didn't creep up and slowly paralyze me.  Instead, it suddenly exploded out of seemingly nowhere.  I can't decide if it's good or bad to not remember the exact date of D-Day (Discovery-Day, or the day you discover your partner's addiction).  I am pretty sure it is neither good nor bad...It just is.  We know it was the 20's something of January 6 years ago, but neither Mark nor I can remember the exact date.  So, out of the seemingly blue today the trauma hit me hard.  Just like the Trauma-versary from the Fall, it wasn't with the same force as previous Januarys, yet it still effected me.  I am thankful for Heavenly help; I was able to make connections relatively quickly.  It made sense why certain recent behaviors with a few of my children were really bothering was hitting close to the traumatic events that lead up to D-Day.  It looked completely unrelated on the surface, but upon examination, it is so clear why I was reacting the ways I have been. I needed to examine the present situations and look past them in order to discover the unresolved trauma, fears, coping mechanisms, lies I had picked up, etc.  I am thankful my feelings brought it to my attention and through merciful grace I hope to go to sleep in peace tonight.

Sometimes it's hard being public about all of this because I think people expect Mark and I to never struggle or for me to have somehow worked through everything in only 6 short years.  The honest answer is no.  We are both far from perfect and I have trauma and triggers that still pop up.  Although we have come so far, there is an eternal expanse yet ahead of us.  I have moments of darkness and even Dark Days (notice the plural in day-s!).  They don't happen as often as they used to and I can usually pull out of them more quickly (the better way to say that, is allow myself to be pulled out).  Although the trauma isn't as raw and the battle isn't as constant as it used to be because of the big stuff that has already been addressed, the most noticeable difference between today and 6 years ago isn't that the trauma is magically all gone.  The biggest difference is that I know what to do.  I know how to fight without caving in to the lies or the despair.  I have tools that can usually blast right through any attempts to smother me in blackness.  I know how to hold on when things don't instantly release or resolve.  Plus, I know that if I do what I know will bring in light, it will come (even if it comes "eventually---" it will always come as I hold out for it; and in the "meantime," Christ will uphold me through His grace and His love). As I type that right now on a darker-than-my-usual-kind-of-day, it refreshes my own hope.  God is with me!  I do not walk this path alone; I never have and I never will.  He was with me on one of the darkest days of my life 6 years ago.  He was with me in all of the events leading up to that day that changed me forever.  He has stayed by my side ever since...and He has always been right there as I have allowed Him to be.  At this time when things are a bit fuzzy, I know that I can trust God.

A tricky thing about betrayal trauma is that although it was caused by someone else's choices, I still have a choice.  I don't have to remain victim to its effects.  I can act rather than remain acted upon (2 Nephi 2:13-14, 16, 26 and 2 Nephi 10:23).   It's difficult to put a trauma response into words.  The closest I think I can come to explaining it to someone who hasn't experienced it is that when I am triggered like this, I am literally re-living the past...not just "thinking about" it, but literally back in it.  (and from an Anatomy & Physiology stand-point, that is exactly what happens in a person's brain, nervous system, body...and obviously mind). Although my body is physically here in this moment, my mind is back in the past as real as if it is this present moment...I am literally there again.  Although in this moment I am safe, my life is stable, and my husband is in recovery, when I have a trauma response, I am thrown back into a time when my life wasn't that way at all.  The interesting thing about trauma responses is that a person can have them and be unconscious to what is happening.  That was me for a long time.  I didn't know that I was being triggered like this until I was taught. Rather than allowing my mind to run wild, I have had to learn to train my mind and create new paths of thoughts and patterns (neuro-pathways).  I have had to become aware of what is happening in this moment, as well as using what is happening in this moment to uncover the unresolved past. Although it seems it is the past that haunts me, it isn't actually the trauma from the past that has me gasping for light.  It is the choice I make in this moment for either misery or happiness---the ways I continue to turn towards the illusion of lies before me instead of sources of light.  I can't change my past, but in this moment I can reach.  With every new breath, I have the fresh choice for this moment. And as my heart continues to beat and my chest rises and falls with each breath, I can re-commit again and again.  This moment I choose Light.  I know my Savior will do for me what He had done for me countless times before; I know He will walk me through the details of reframing and softening the parts of the trauma that I am reliving today.  I don't have to do it myself, but what is necessary to this process is for me to reach out to Him and let Him in.  And so I will...over and over again...from moment to moment.

Below are a few things just for fun.  I'm not saying this is a magic formula for Trauma-Versaries because every person is different and every Trauma-Versary will be different.  There is no "magic bullet" because even though Christ is the answer, we all access His grace and strength differently.  It's just a list of a few extra things I felt drawn to in order to get through today that maybe will help somebody else, too.

*Yogi Tea: This is my favorite recipe, but I omit the black tea; it strengthens the nervous system, purifies the blood, and pages of other good stuff! :)
*Pittra Kriya:  This Kriya is an ancient one.  It has been offered beginning in India to those who are grieving.  In my own personal experience, there has been a good amount of grieving associated with betrayal trauma. They would go down to the river to do the first part (there are 3 parts to this Kriya).  The effects of this Kriya are intensified the longer it is done (40 days in a row vs. once).
*$0.89 ice-cream cones at Burger King :)
*Introducing the kids to The Belly Laugh Game
*Bubble bath with lavender essential oil
*Being present in the moment: Mark playing "rough" with the kids (the picture at the top of this post)

Monday, January 15, 2018

I still get in the way...

Sometimes I fall for the illusion that enlightenment is the goal, but I am learning that there is always room to grow.  It's not a destination, but rather a becoming that we must seek for.  Even though the challenges may be different at new levels of spiritual development or higher levels of consciousness, there are still potential pitfalls.  Just when we think we "have it," Christ peels back the next curtain and shows us there is still more---rough edges still needing to be polished, chambers of the heart holding yet unseen desires for the things that ties us to this world, and, fortunately, deeper dimensions of His love.

It has been challenging to have the desire to do good burning inside of me!  I didn't initially see it as a challenge, but I have begun to see the flip side to it. I have felt so called to take a stand in the past 6 months, yet easily frustrated when things haven't happened how or in the timelines I was expecting.  Then I read this in M. Catherine Thomas's powerful book called, The Godseed: "Always on the alert for the purity of a desire, we should note in passing that it is possible to want even good things too much, and then the wantings become ego-desire" (page 178, emphasis added).  Ouch!  She then goes on to explain how desire can be a defilement!?...  Healing from betrayal trauma required me to also own my own "stuff" and not just Mark. It led me to the discovery of the connection between desire and addiction. Although I wasn't turning to the same things as my husband was when he experienced the reminders of spiritual death, I too was turning to things/people/emotions in order to feel better when I felt powerless, anxious, sad, angry...but I hadn't personally considered the implication of righteous desires becoming a defilement as well until Thomas's book.  And as if that hadn't already hit uncomfortably close to home, she next launched into a section on "Aversion."  When we intensely desire something and those desires turn into ego (or self) driven, we run up against aversion, or not liking the way things, people, or circumstance are.  Double ouch!  I have been wanting to do good, yet only on my terms.  Instead of desire or aversion, Thomas says, "There is a resting place, a refuge from eh toxic energy of defilements.  There are energies that we can deliberately cultivate in our being that bring us peace and wisdom.  Among these are contentment, generosity, and humility.  These energies form a still point between desire and aversion.  These still points are worthy of our meditation time; we can feel their energy and stabilize in them" (183).

So, there it was, staring up at me from the page.  With honesty and humility, I can recognize the urgency and even aggression with which I have tackled the past 6 months.  As the manuscript for my book came together so quickly and relatively easily, I expected the rest of this journey to follow suit. And it isn't just with my desires to do good with betrayal trauma.  This same pattern has shown up in my righteous desire to welcome more children into my home, raise my children in righteousness, in friendships and relationships...once I spotted it, I can see it showing up everywhere. I am learning to slow down even more, to re-visit my intentions, to accept what is (or isn't), and let God lead.

As I have stepped more into this still point, interesting and unexpected (to me) things have happened.  I can't talk about everything just yet, but I can share two of them right now. First, is my opportunity to go through another yoga teacher training program.  I was planning to go to Atlanta in January to start training for QNRT (Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy---a protocol that releases trauma by resetting the nervous system).  I was feeling frustrated, confused, and discouraged because things weren't coming together like they "should" be.  Mark and I were planning on the Kundalini Yoga teacher training program in SLC this fall because even though I went through a teacher training program already 4 years ago, it wasn't one that certified me. However, God had different plans. Instead, I just started a teacher training program, and it is a completely different style of yoga than I have ever taught or experienced myself regularly before.  The change in timing (now instead of the fall) itself may have significance that I don't fully recognize yet. I can at least see a hint of the "why," though;  It is with an instructor who has the best experience, background, and teaching skills for betrayal trauma in a yoga context in my area!  It will be 200 hours of training spaced out over the next 8 months.  I will continue to offer Kundalini Yoga classes and additionally offer Hatha Yoga classes this fall.  QNRT opened up additional dates, so I am still hoping that it will be possible to become a practitioner. I need to wait and see, though. I never dreamed such an opportunity was possible, yet here it is and God orchestrated all of the steps to get me here!  I'm so glad that things work out His way instead of mine!!!

Second, I will start teaching kids yoga this week out of a children's gym here in Brigham City!  There will be classes for kids age 3-4, 5-7, and 8-11 (see the side-bar if you are interested in details or registering).<3  This is seriously my dream job!!!  I love kids and I love teaching yoga!  I wasn't even looking for this job; I didn't apply for it either, but I got an interview lined up when I called upon a friend's referral (then was actually offered the position during the interview).  I want to eventually offer trauma-informed yoga for kids, since families need to heal from the effect of sex addiction.  I expected that would be years down the road.  Nope.  It's kids yoga now and what a HUGE step in the direction of trauma-informed yoga for kids!  The gym is seriously 2 min or less from my home.  It's only 5, 45 minutes classes a week, and Mark can flex his schedule around me to work from home during my class times.  PLUS the gym and employee's philosophies about children and the fact that they are starting yoga because they want to offer more than just physical exercise opportunities for kids.  They wanted something that would instill mindfulness and self awareness.  When they said that in the interview it had me jumping up and down!  Just like the teacher training, I never dreamed such a perfect fit was even possible.  But here it is.  And I feel incredibly humbled and blessed!

Things are not happening how or when I expected they would when I first set out on this journey.  It's okay now. I still have no idea what will happen with the book I wrote.  Even though I have had 2 rejections from publishers, the refining process of me has definitely been a huge part of this experience. Maybe that is the sole purpose of it...? I'm learning to be okay with what is (or isn't) happening when it does (or doesn't) happen and simply flow around the "road blocks." More accurately, I am being given experiences to have my thinking gain new become a different person in relation to desires, even righteous be okay with what is rather than desiring something different or turning away in aversion.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Jealous of My Friend, the Widow-

This powerful piece is written by a brave guest Author:  #Myhusbandisaddictedtopornography. Please contact me at or through social media if you would ever like to guest post, even if you need complete anonymity in order for your voice to be heard. I would like it to be as "tasteful" as possible; however, I don't believe we do anybody a favor by assuming that means we must omit the rawness or realness of betrayal trauma (so I am looking for something more in the "middle." Freely expressed; however, focusing as much as possible on the solutions.) XOXO ~Katy

Jealous of My Friend, the Widow-

At 4 am a few months ago, I sat on the edge of my bathtub scrolling through Facebook, hoping to not have to think about my own worries for a few moments. As was often the case, sleep had failed me. Grief hit quickly, however, when I came across a post for an obituary for my dear friend’s husband. I ached, cried, and prayed for her, but there was something else. Something that I couldn’t quite figure out for a few minutes, but finally recognized. Plain and simple, I was jealous. I let this realization roominate for a while, but when I truly grasped that I was jealous of my friend, who recently found herself to be a widow, my grieving turned to myself. Laying on my bathroom floor with torrential tears of anguish, I ached for what I had wanted all my life, a marriage that would last into the next life. I was already experiencing trauma from discovering that my husband had been viewing pornography… again… for the past year and a half, and this realization seemed overwhelming. To the best of my knowledge, my friend’s husband had always been faithful to her. He had fulfilled important church responsibilities, been a good provider, and she was treated with kindness. Yes, she suffered a tremendous loss, but to me, she had gained the gold mine, the piece de resistance, even an eternal reward in her husband’s arms. Her marriage seemed like a sure bet, where as the eternal state of my marriage is questionable.


My husband has been addicted to pornography since he was about 10. I found out 9 months into our marriage, and had no idea how deep the roots of addiction were for him. When I first found pornography on the computer, I said something like, “I forgive you. Go talk to the Bishop, and don’t do it again.” But he did do it again. If he had slipped for an episode, then quickly repented, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but that was almost never the case. We would go years where things just weren’t right. Frequent and unexplained raging anger over tiny things, mixed with an inability to connect with him were filled with loneliness and discouragement. Once or twice he white knuckled it through a couple years of sobriety, but when things got rough, pornography was what he turned to. It would typically take years before I found out. Therapy had been helpful for a short time, but when I couldn’t hide the pain his addiction caused me, shame reared his ugly head. My husband stopped talking with me about anything uncomfortable. With one fell swoop, he cut the ties that bridged our communication about anything that might cause him more shame.


A few months ago things got bad. Really bad. My husband fell into a bad depression and simply wouldn’t get a job. His anger was so out of control that my children and I were afraid. Although he never physically hurt any of us, I was beginning to fear that he might resort to that someday soon. Things weren’t right, and I knew the signs, so I asked the hard questions. He was well practiced though and looked me in the eye on many occasions as he calmly promised that he wasn’t viewing pornography. Even still, I wondered. I remember a particular prayer that went something like this, “Heavenly Father, things are really hard right now, and I don’t have any answers. This might be wrong, but part of me wishes that he was suffering from addiction. If he was struggling with addiction then I could encourage him to go to counseling, Addiction Recovery Meetings, and we could access other resources. Right now I have no answers and no direction.“ About a week later as I was praying, I was prompted to look on my husband’s computer. My husband saw me looking, but wasn’t worried; Likely because he assumed that he had deleted everything related to his secret, but the Holy Ghost knew better, and now, so did I.


All previous times of discovery, I had handled things pretty well, but this... this was different. It was as if the panicked thought, “I can’t do this again,” kept repeating itself over and over in my mind. I couldn’t seem to do normal, daily activities, like laundry or cooking, and I was struggling in a severe way. Questions like, “Has he been unfaithful with someone,” “Could I have an STD,” and the painful thought, “I’m not even his type,” brought terror to me. His dishonesty brought fear and worry to me at a level that I had not experienced before. I recognized that our marriage, in its current state, was not one made for eternity. I didn’t know everything, but I knew one thing: Either he would have to really change this time, or I would have to leave.


Our story is too fresh to guess the ending, but I am glad to say that my husband has successfully completed one program for his pornography addiction, is going through Lifestar with me, and has been faithfully attending the 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program. (Side note: I have been attending the meeting for spouses and love it.) I wish that I could give you a glowing report, but the fact is, I don’t know. I do, however, have hope. As long as hope glimmers on the horizon, I will gladly walk towards it, even if I have to walk through knee-deep mud that slows my progress. On the other hand, the knee deep mud is what has made me plead with Heavenly Father in frequent, mighty prayer on so many occasions that I have come to know my Savior. I can even praise Him for this trial. No, I don’t want my husband to have an addiction, but for what I have gained I am truly thankful. I’ll save that story for another day though.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE (for the spouse)

In the meantime, if your spouse is suffering with some sort of sex addiction, know that you are not alone. Know that there are resources. Know that you can come out of this stronger and happier. Sometimes we need help to heal. I will write more on healing another time, so stay tuned to Katy’s blog.


If you are struggling with addiction, can I give you piece of advice? Tell your spouse. Be gentle, and perhaps consider disclosing it to them with a bishop or therapist, but don’t make your spouse find out like I did. Don’t make your spouse feel traumatized and fearful of things that they don’t know because you have been less than honest. Yes, it will be difficult, but love them enough to not live a secret life that will make them feel like they are crazy. Love them enough to care about their healing. Give them hope for their eternity, and don’t make them jealous of a widow. Contrary to what you might think, your spouse is suffering. Even if they don’t know that you are struggling with addiction, they likely feel that something is not right. Resources are improving for you, and you can gain the courage to access them. You hold the key to their recovery. Well, you and the Savior, of course.
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