The Lady in Green Heels

It was a small cafe with a view of the water. Like the few other dining patrons there, my husband and I were dressed in casual shirts and blue jeans. So, when she sauntered in wearing a tight dress and green heels, it was hard not to notice her. We stood in line to make our order at the rustic wood counter. She eased up behind us.  She made a friendly wave to her friends who were already seated at a table. She turned toward the counter again, let out a high-pitched laugh and yelled, “If I were a bottle of beer, how much would I cost?” She tossed her hair and laughed again.

By this time, the lady in green heels had caught the attention of everyone in the dining area. I tried not to stare, but I have to admit, I was mesmerized by her presence.  She was at least 30 pounds overweight and wore too much make-up. Her long blonde hair was in stylish but messy curls.  She wasn’t very pretty, and yet, there was something about her that captured my attention. What was it?

green heels

Suddenly, I was on high alert. I quickly realized the captivation I had with this woman was that she reeked of sexuality. It was subtle, but undeniable. This woman was a seductress on the prowl.

My heart beat fast as I remembered encountering women like this before. My husband would interact with them and join in their loud conversations. He would never allow anyone to upstage him, especially a lady wearing cute green heels. I shuddered at those foul memories and searched my husband’s face for his reaction.

He was quiet. He was obviously uncomfortable.

I watched the male servers behind the counter. She was still addressing them in a loud voice, but they didn’t smile or oblige her in any way. She was nothing to them. A thought came to me, “Those guys behind the counter . . . not sex addicts.” That thought was followed by “Your husband . . .  SEX ADDICT!”

In a panic, I studied my husband’s face again. By now, he was at the counter trying to stutter through our order. He was upset by something and I knew it was that lady. That lady in the green heels.

He drew me close to him and whispered, “Can you please find us a table where we are facing the water? There’s one over there where our backs would be turned to everyone else. I like that table.”

I nodded that I understood. And I did. I understood more than my husband realized. I placed our soda cups on the table to mark it as ours. Then I hovered near my husband at the counter to be sure he was safe from the green temptress. The lady in green heels smiled and raised her eyebrows as my husband nervously walked past her while balancing our lunch in his hands. He didn’t acknowledge her. In the past, my husband would have responded with a clever quip to keep her attention. At the very least he would have given her a long glance and a knowing smile.

Recovery has changed him.

I felt a sense of relief.

Then an impression came to me that felt as heavy as a ton of bricks. It crashed on me with a thud. I waited for the right moment, then asked, “The ‘other woman’ . . . was she like that? Was she really forward and obvious with her  . . . her . . . sexual intentions?”

“Yes,” he answered. “And I don’t like how I’m feeling right now. Thank you for getting a table facing away from the other people in here.” When he said “other people” I knew he meant her, the woman in green heels.

I felt sick inside that my husband actually used to fall for such obvious and ridiculous sexual advances. I could imagine the lady in green heels as the “other woman” who teased and tempted my husband. I don’t blame the other woman for my husband’s choices, but I feel like I have unraveled some of the mystery about her allure. My husband said the other woman wasn’t that pretty. I get it now. She wasn’t pretty, smart, or amazing in any way. She was simply . . . available.



Emotional Sobriety and The Necklace

necklace beadsAs part of his recovery from sexual addiction and sexual compulsive behaviors, my husband has been learning to identify and feel his emotions. For me, this stuff is incredibly easy, but not so for my husband. He spent 50 years trying to numb his pain from his childhood sexual molestations. As a result of his pain-numbing, he actually buried nearly all other emotions, as well. It has been an interesting journey for us both as my husband discovers his emotions.

Let me share a story that illustrates what happens as my husband works on his emotional sobriety.

We live a bit of a distance from the temple, so I brought some casual clothes that I could wear after an early-morning temple session. I changed my clothes at my husband’s office and got ready for shopping while we were still in the city. I took off my nice long beaded necklace and draped it over my husband’s office chair. We were in a hurry and I guess I forgot to pack my necklace for the return home, so it remained on the chair over the weekend.

My husband didn’t report to his office until late afternoon when he discovered my necklace. He thought it would be a good joke to wear the necklace around his neck as he used FaceTime to contact me. I did have a nice laugh when I saw this big burly husband of mine with a dainty little necklace adorning his rugged plaid work shirt. After enjoying our little silliness, we discussed some mundane details for the rest of the day for several minutes. Then we ended the FaceTime call.

You’ve probably already guessed what happened. My husband forgot the necklace was still around his neck! He finished his office tasks and then left to pick up items he had ordered from one of his vendors. This particular vendor is one that my husband has done business with for many years. The clerk that assisted him was someone that knows my husband well.  As they finished the transaction, the clerk smiled and said, “Nice necklace.”

This is when the miracle in the story begins. Later in the day, my husband described to me how he felt this weird emotion when he realized he was wearing the necklace. “I think I was embarrassed!” he explained. “I don’t remember feeling embarrassed before. I used to just get defensive and lie, but instead I simply explained to the clerk  the truth about how I ended up wearing your necklace!”

I know, it’s seems like a really small thing, but in my world, this is really big. This is a sign of true recovery, not just the ability to abstain from lust and sexual compulsions, but the ability to connect with emotions. According to Dr. Ingrid Mathieu, “Sometimes emotional sobriety is about tolerating what you are feeling. It is about staying sober no matter what you are feeling. . . . It means that you don’t necessarily need to do something to make the feeling go away” (Psychology Today, July 2011).  My husband used pornography and lust to make his feelings go away. Now, he is learning to feel and deal with his emotions.

Beauty for Ashes

Provo City Center Temple

I love historical buildings. I love the musty smells and the creaking floor boards. I like to imagine the human stories and events of the past the hardware and walls may have witnessed. Who touched and turned the doorknobs? What sounds reverberated off the high ceilings? Was there singing? Laughter? Crying? Old buildings have stories and I love stories.

When I heard the old Provo City Tabernacle burned down, I was disappointed. I had never been inside the building, but numerous times I had seen the striking exterior. It was a historical icon and I hated to think of losing a building of such magnificence along with its stories. Regarding this event, in October of 2013, Sister Linda S. Reeves recalls the following:

Almost three years ago a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”

Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.

My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally (October 2013 General Conference. “Claim the Blessings of Your Covenants”).

As my husband and I went through the open house tour for the new Provo City Center Temple, we appreciated that such care was taken to replicate many unique architectural details of the original building. Exquisitely carved railings and wood trim adorned the stairwells. Light filtered through colorful stained glass windows. Detail after detail in each room resonated of times past while at the same time presenting new flourishes and designs.

We felt a reverent awe as we walked hand in hand through each divinely-purposed room. It was our first time together in a temple building since my husband was asked to give up his temple recommend. I was prepared for some emotional triggers, but there were none. Instead, I reveled in the symbolic nature of our experience. We were standing in a holy edifice which portrayed the beauty of its purpose; an edifice that, from blackened rubble, was renewed to something even more glorious and beautiful.

During the early days of betrayal trauma, I felt like my marriage had been totally destroyed. The fragments of memories that were left all seemed to be tarnished by the sooty blackness of deceit, addiction, and broken covenants.

I’ve spent 18 months sifting through the rubble of my marriage. I have found things worth keeping. I have found the foundation to rebuild. And like the magnificent Provo City Center Temple, I hope to work with my husband to create something even more glorious and beautiful than we had before.

I thought we had a great marriage before D-Day when our marriage was gutted, but the Lord knew differently. I have changed. My husband has changed. As Sister Reeves said of our Heavenly Father, “He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally.” The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the coming Messiah would “comfort all that mourn” and “give unto them beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:2-3).  I’m still brushing off some of my soot, but I can see the possibility of a beautiful life rising before me in the future.