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The Compassion Project: No. 2

Dear Heather,

It's December of 2003.  You've just been plunged into a hole of darkness.  You just recently discovered pornography on the computer after the website was auto-filled in.  The extent of it was horrifying to you.  The bishop suggested that thinking about the problem, bringing it up and discussing it, will only make matters worse.  He also suggested that this is an issue in your marriage because you are not enough for your husband and aren't adequately fulfilling his needs as you should be.  I know you feel so very confused by this.  Even Billy is telling you that is a lie and he has an addiction.  But who do you believe- the person you've just caught lying or the bishop who is your Priesthood leader and supposed to receive inspiration on your behalf?  Oh it hurts!  That's okay.  You swore you weren't going to marry someone like your dad and this wasn't going to be a problem in your marriage.  Billy told you about succumbing to its temptations prior to his mission, but he went to the bishop, repented and took care of it.  You talked about it, he knew how you felt about it, so this wasn't supposed to ever comeup again.  Not for the two of you.  So painful.  Listen to your gut, because it's the Spirit telling you that the bishop is wrong.  It's hard to hear that your husband is right right now, because you think that equates to trusting him or letting him seemingly appease you.  He is trying to be humble, but there will be many more setbacks ahead.  You will lay a good foundation, but now is simply not the time.  That's okay. 

But now this.  You're pregnant.  You're thinking 'How could God do this to me?!'  The worst possible timing.  It's like He is taking away your agency so you have to stay in this marriage and figure things out.  I understand why you feel this way.  Later, you will come to see He didn't inflect a pregnancy on you and that you could have chosen to leave at any given point in time.  It seems cruel to have a baby conceived at a time when the sex was a lie, when you were trying to fix your broken husband and he was using you.  Cruel to have that reminder.  and so it's all gone dark.  You have a six month old baby.  How hard to be pregnant and exhausted from the pregnancy when you are still exhausted from an infant! It doesn't help that Billy's hours at work are getting shorter and shorter.  You can trace the lack of financial blessings & security to when he started seeking out porn, even if he didn't pay for it.  Of course there would be consequences for his sinning, and you're paying them.  So how are you supposed to make it if you're pregnant now, with a baby already at home?  You're too sick to work anymore.  Too foggy to do much of anything really.  That's trauma.  I wish I could let you know that this is a traumatic period of your life- and that that is okay.

Go ahead and feel mad at God, because He can take it.  You're wrong, and He didn't inflict these things on you, but that's okay.  He doesn't care.  He doesn't particularly care about whether you're wrong and He's right, because He knows how much you're hurting- and how much of that is actually because of the trauma in your marriage, the grieving of it as well as your mom- and not the baby. 

You resent this pregnancy right now, but I think it's really that you resent your life being so difficult again.  My goodness, mom died less than five years ago.  It feels like forever and no time all at once.  Here you are dealing with missing her more, or again because you're a mother now and she isn't there to be your mother.  As if that wasn't hard enough, that pain is compounded by the grief of not being able to turn to her with your first major marital problem- one you know she would understand.  Oh, you tried to reach out.  You told Christy about the pornography, hoping to have a bonding moment and figuring she'd know about dad and thus have advice.  She didn't and dad was furious.  I know he yelled at you and accused you of blowing things out of proportion & being unforgiving.  That hurt.  You really didn't have any malice in sharing that information.  He may have been right about being unforgiving.  It's hard to forgive someone of something they haven't actually apologized for.  It's harder, still, when they are going to be continually defensive of it.  I've learned that's how addicts are.  I'm speaking from 12 years down the road, and it's still hard to think dad is an addict who has never admitted as much & that I still need to forgive him.  Either way, those hurtful things he said to you were not about you- they were every bit about him.

Heather, you have a lot of things going on.  You have a husband trying to juggle working enough in low-paying jobs for you to stay home with your baby- on top of going to college.  You are trying to make sure he gets help with what he says is a pornography addiction.  You are managing the shock of it and searching for answers when there is very little literature to yet be found.  You are tired because your baby is teething.  You are scared about how you are going to pay the bills because there never seems to be enough.  Sometimes you don't eat.  You miss your mom and now everything seems to remind you of that.  Some days you just lay in the hammock downstairs, in the dark.  Often.  You sleep there too.  It's ok.  The bedroom won't always feel so traumatic or scary. 

I need to tell you something.  You feel like the world is just too heavy for your shoulder.  You look and look, but you can't find the light.  You know God is supposed to help you here, but it feels like He thinks forcing you to stay is somehow supposed to be helpful- like you're supposed to be grateful that at least he took care of that decision for you.  But you're not grateful to feel stuck and burdened and like your life is just all about trials.  Not right now.  This darkness is real and consuming.  But it's temporary.  That craving you have for the sunlight? That is your body trying to help you with the depression.  God is still there in the wings, letting you be in your pain but holding you still.  You won't remember a lot of this period of time.  A blessing and a sadness.  You might feel robbed of the joy of your firstborn and all their firsts, and the joy of expecting that baby girl you thought was coming first.  You won't remember later, but take comfort in knowing you are a good mother and you did enjoy the moments with Will as they happened.  So he watched more tv than some recommended guideline.  You were right there with him when he did- and more so than with future children.  Also, he turns out ok.  Perhaps it's a blessing to not remember much of the pregnancy anyhow.  It's a pretty uneventful one as pregnancies go- particularly in light of ones ahead.  Maybe that's intentional.  It I think it's okay.  It's okay to feel unsettled by all these unexpected changes.  It's understandable to feel angered by your lack of control.  It doesn't make you a bad mother, wife, or woman.  It's because you are a person frustrated by your mortal experience.  It's because you've had a lot of life showing you that you aren't in control, and you've equated that with pain because you haven't yet learned better.  God has a beauty to His timing and the people and circumstances in your life are not yet the best they can be for your growth and healing.  So, instead, He will grant you quickly the gift of forgiveness so that you can feel the peace that will bring.  Then, because He understands that forgiveness does not remove or absolve pain, even if you don't yet, He will allow you to stay in that so that you can learn to accept it and become reacquainted with feeling.  His grace will abundantly make up for your shortcomings as you navigate this new reality.  It will do so without judgment, with only love.  People will be placed in your path to offer help and truth, because He loves you and knows you cannot help yourself right now. 


This post is part of a series I intend to do, based upon my experience with the Letters to My Former Self project.  I invite you to participate by writing your own letters of compassion to your self at points in time in your life, to parts of you with which you struggle, to individuals with whom you struggle.  Write as it comes out.  I believe that compassion can wash over us in a healing way, as cool water over sun scorched skin.  You do not have to share your letters with anyone, but if you feel so inclined I would love for you to send it to me at therealhala@gmail.com for inclusion in the series and possible future projects.


The Compassion Project: No. 1