My Sunday


She was sitting directly in front of me during our church sacrament meeting. She usually kept to herself, sort of quiet. Her hair was colored blond and styled simply. I don’t remember her walking into the chapel; all I remember is how the back of her head looked.

It was fast and testimony meeting day when members of the congregation are invited to go to the pulpit and share their testimonies of Christ. We do this once a month, so it’s kind of a routine thing. The meeting was spiritually up-lifting. It felt good to soak up the inspiring thoughts, stories, and testimonies of others.

I looked at the clock. It was time for the meeting to end. I picked up my hymnal and prepared to sing the closing congregational hymn as the bishop approached the pulpit to close the meeting.

That’s when it happened.

The woman in front of me stood and walked toward the pulpit. She raised her arm up toward the bishop, gesturing for him to wait. The bishop nodded his acceptance of her request and sat back down. I thought she was brave to hold up the meeting like that.

She walked to the steps that would take her on the raised platform where the pulpit stood. Then she stopped. She just stopped there. She didn’t move. She was frozen in that spot.

It didn’t take long for others to notice that there might be a problem. In one graceful motion, the Women’s Relief Society president, left her seat and approached the woman from behind. She gently rested her hand on the woman’s back and then came to her side, whispering in the woman’s ear.

At the same time, the organist quickly left her bench with an understanding smile. She was facing the woman when she moved toward her, all the while trying to reassure her with a confident “you can do this” kind of nod.

There they were in a small huddle. Three women. One was in need, and two were reaching out. The huddle lasted at least two minutes, a long time when a large congregation has nothing to do but wait.

After whispers and reassuring smiles, the two women moved aside while the other woman found her intended destination at the pulpit.

She was crying. She was embarrassed that she was crying. She didn’t want to cry and so she had stopped at the steps hoping to manage the tears. “The tears keep coming out,” she said as she broke down again.

And then her story unfolded. She used all the couched and coded messages of a betrayed wife: “alone” “family in crisis” “pain” and “hurt.” Her final statement was emphatic and her voice rang clearly through the chapel. “I am strong and I will be ok! I know I will!”

As she returned to her seat, I found myself looking at the back of her head once again. I wondered if she knew the stories of the women that came to her aid. I wondered if she knew that our Relief Society president was betrayed by her husband years ago and she now lives a life that is exemplary of the power of forgiveness. I wondered if she knew that the organist has battled depression and anxiety as she works through marital and other family issues. I wondered if she could ever guess that the sister behind her, looking at the back of her head, is also a betrayed wife. I wondered.

I tapped her on the shoulder. I swallowed the lump in my throat as I leaned forward  and whispered in her ear. “You are not alone.”

We, none of us, are alone. We are in the company of many good women that have walked through the refiner’s fire and come out on the other side with more resilience and strength. We can stand together with confidence. We are strong and we will be ok.


Post-Trauma Growth


Was I asleep during the lesson on post-trauma growth, or what?

I’ve been traveling through this healing process armed with a load of information on post-traumatic stress disorder. I have done my homework for LifeStar and I’ve added additional work for my individual therapy. I’ve had a laser-like focus on kicking betrayal trauma in the butt and not letting the sinful behaviors of one individual, my husband, destroy who I am. Honestly, if I hadn’t worked so hard, I would have ended up in a mental ward somewhere because I was a big terrible mess. No exaggeration. The sudden discovery that I had been deceived for thirty-seven years hit me like a nuclear bomb. It’s been two years and there’s still some fallout from that nuclear mushroom cloud.

nuclear mushroom cloud
Photo Source: US Dept. of Energy/

Maybe my focus was too narrow. I don’t know. There were many times that I read how people were blessed and found even greater happiness after trauma. I had faith that what I read was true, but it all seemed so subjective. At times, I thought the promises of a better life were reserved only for the recovering addict. After all, he was finally free from the prison of his secrets. It seemed absolutely possible that his life would be much better after finding recovery.

I, on the other hand, thought my life before the nuclear bomb was pretty awesome. So, maybe the promise of a better tomorrow, for me, meant that I would finally live with more clarity and a better understanding of who my husband really is. I would finally live without his emotional brick wall that so often separated us.

In the end, it didn’t matter. Regardless of  the potential for “better tomorrows” or an “improved and better marital relationship,” I just marched forward on my focus of becoming healed and whole again. Post-trauma life seemed like a far-away land that existed in some faint dream. I operated on pure faith that my post-trauma life would be worth the work I was doing. I operated on faith because I didn’t have enough concrete evidence to do anything else.

So, what the heck? There IS concrete evidence, folks! There’s actual scientific research on post-traumatic growth or PTG. Hey, if it has its own acronym, you know its legit! Maybe the dark fog of trauma caused me to ignore this stuff. For whatever reason, as I begin to step into a post-trauma life (I like to call it “the after-life”), I’m now bumping into all kinds of verifiable and credible research on the subject of PTG.

For all of you that are still trying to find your way out of the dark hole of trauma, the hope for a better after-trauma life is real. Keep clawing your way out, because the light and sunshine ahead can actually be brighter than you’ve known before. You have to walk through a sometimes fiery path to healing before you will understand how this can even be possible, but it’s true. I’m beginning to see a new brightness of hope and joy. And . . . studies give some proof that this is possible. Check out Google Scholar for the research like this one from Jenna Van Slyke, M. S.

Although traumatic experiences can sometimes result in severe psychological distress, they can also result in positive psychological changes as a result of the trauma survivors’ struggle with the trauma. Also known as post-traumatic growth (PTG), these positive changes may include the development of new perspectives and personal growth. Current studies have shown that 30% to 90% of people report some positive changes following trauma.

. . .  One of the better known scales, the Post-traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), measures five broad domains that comprise a significant amount of the variance in PTG: a greater appreciation of life, closer relationships, identification of new possibilities, increased personal strength, and positive spiritual change. Greater appreciation of life following a traumatic event can be represented by a shift in priorities and taking pleasure in aspects of life that were once taken for granted. Trauma survivors may also experience increased compassion and empathy for others, which allow them to cultivate deeper and more meaningful relationships. Identification of new possibilities and increased personal strength can also be seen in trauma survivors who display high levels of PTG. For example, an individual may display higher levels of self-efficacy or a stronger belief in his or her ability to overcome obstacles. The same individual may experience a change in values post-trauma and find that he or she is able to identify a more fulfilling path for the future. Finally, trauma survivors may also experience a positive change in spirituality, perceiving themselves as being more capable of connecting with something greater than themselves (God, the universe, nature, etc.), regardless of religious affiliation.

I will now keep a summarized list from the PTGI on my bathroom mirror. New work. New life. New focus.

post trauma growth new

Click here for printable PDF of Post-Trama Growth seen above

The Comfort of a Little Workbook


I’m not even sure how I found out about the Healing Through Christ Family Support Workbook. Maybe I was desperately searching the Internet to find anything, ANYTHING, that would make me feel better. Maybe it was a resource on a blog. I don’t remember. I’m just so, so glad that I discovered this “Christ-centered approach to the 12-step program.”

I do remember that I downloaded a PDF version of the workbook and then read the first 40 pages over and over again. I had just found out about some of my husband’s online activities and I was devastated. I would read a few paragraphs from the workbook, then cry, then read some more, then feel empowered, then pray, then cry some more. At first, the words just floated around in my brain in a blur. Nothing really fit or made much sense to me. I had a hard time accepting that I needed to read this book “for those who have a loved one in addiction” because my own husband was a sex addict! It was all so surreal!

I kept reading because I really had nothing else to help me at the time. And then, something happened. I actually felt a tiny bit of peace as I read from the HTC book. I tried to imagine a soft comforting voice reading the words to me:

“Keep perspective. . . rest the burden in the hand of the Lord . . . The Lord opens doors of opportunity and provides the strength each of us needs at difficult times in our life” (Elder Richard G. Scott quoted in HTC Workbook, pages 12-13).

Another time of reading, I saw a small faint glimmer of light through my darkness when I read:

“There is hope built within all of us. There is always hope. On the other hand, the thing Satan cannot fight is one who is full of hope – for he is then full of the Spirit of Christ  – and when that hope is perfected or full, Satan has lost completely” (Elder John H. Groberg, quoted in HTC Workbook, page 21).

I already felt battle-weary and scarred, but this quote helped me see myself as a warrior woman. My mighty sword of hope was created and polished through Christ.

With my sword of hope and truth in hand, I asked my husband to leave our home for a few days so I could have some time to heal and think things through. This was the week following his disclosure of adultery. I was so sick at heart. I didn’t know if I ever wanted my husband to return home. Then during one of my many sleepless nights, I read these words from President Thomas S. Monson:

“At times there appears to be no light at the tunnel’s end – no dawn to break the night’s darkness. We feel surrounded by the pain of broken hearts, the disappointment of shattered dreams, and the despair of vanished hopes.  . . . We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. If you find yourself in such a situation, I plead with you to turn to our Heavenly Father in faith. He will lift you and guide you. He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face” (HTC Workbook, page 29).

I needed my Heavenly Father to lead me and guide me through this storm. So, at 3:00 in the morning, with no sleep, and still wondering what to do about my situation, I finally felt some tiny promptings in my heart. I was exhausted physically, but invigorated spiritually. I felt prompted to send my husband a text. I let him know that he had value and worth, that I loved him, and then I invited him to come home when he felt he was ready.

He was ready. He was repentant and his defensive walls started to come down.

I believe my text was God-inspired. It changed the direction and course of my relationship with my husband. Indeed, Heavenly Father “will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.” A little workbook gave me the words of counsel I needed at the very moment I need them.HTC

I continue to use the HTC workbook. I keep it with my other recovery work materials and my scriptures. If I have difficulty working through a trigger, I usually start working through my HTC workbook before reaching for any other resource. I love reading the scripture verses quoted in HTC and often mark them in my own set of scripture books. Sometimes, I look up quotes in the workbook and find the original sources so I can read the entire talks.

You might be wondering who helped write this book that contains scriptures, research, quotable quotes from church leaders, and personal stories from others. I assure you the writers are extremely credible. From the HTC introduction:

All those who have contributed to the writing and compiling of this workbook, including the licensed therapists and psychologists, know first-hand the chaos, anxiety, fear, guilt and shame that can be present  . . . when a loved one is trapped in addiction. We know what family members are feeling because we have lived it ourselves (page iv).

The Healing Through Christ Institute has other resources, as well. I invite you to visit their website and take a look. I have no vested interest in this non-profit organization. I am simply grateful for all I’ve gained from the work of the dedicated people who put this book together. Bless them for sharing the tools and practices with others that helped them find peace in their own lives – the long-lasting peace that comes when Christ is at the center.



Hope and Healing


I’ve been off my blog for a while and for good reasons. I’m happy to be part of this incredible movement:

Women married to men with porn addictions find help on blog, forum |

Here is the story from the link above:

SALT LAKE CITY — Women who are married to men recovering from a pornography addiction can find help at the Hope & Healing blog and forum.

Michelle Linford, administrator of the blog and forum, said she created the Hope & Healing blog and forum in 2012 as a place for women in need to obtain information and connect with other women.

“I had a friend reach out to me who … had walked this path, and I asked her if she would help create a forum,” she said. “So she got some of her friends who’d been through this, and they helped write some of the questions that they had when they first found out about their husband’s addiction, and as I did research, I became like a resource manager in the forum. And it just grew from there.”

About 700 women have signed up for the forum since 2012. Linford said the forum is a place for women to come that is private, anonymous and free of charge. The blog is public and provides information about sex addiction and recovery.

“The blog is there to share information and resources, but the forum is really what Hope and Healing is about,” Linford told in an email. “Only women who have personal experience with a loved one in addiction (or someone struggling with unwanted sexual behaviors) are allowed to join. As admin and resource manager, I am here to help keep it all running.

“The forum is a place where women can first know they are not alone and are not crazy for feeling so devastated by the addiction. … Women need healing support as much as addicts need help recovering,” she said.

Linford said she hasn’t been able to post a lot of content on the blog over the last few months, and some of the women in the forum wanted to bring some of their experience out to help other people.

After one of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Face to Face events, where someone asked what they should do if they are dating someone who has had a problem with pornography, some of the women in the forum wanted to be able to bring their experience to the conversation, Linford said.

A handful of women who wanted to carry on the conversation that was started at the Face to Face event started a series on the blog the first of April, she said. So far, there are nine blog posts in the series, which address “education on and recovery from pornography addiction and betrayal trauma,” according to the blog.

One of the women writing the series, who would like to remain anonymous, said she first discovered a problem with lust in her marriage just after her first baby was born.

“We discussed it. He said he was sorry and that he wouldn’t do it again. We got some outside help and then he said that he was cured,” she said. “This was a pattern that we followed over and over again for 28 years.”

When she learned of the problem again a few years ago, she asked him to move out, which was one of the hardest things she has ever done, she said.

“We don’t learn how to ask our husbands to move out in young women’s or in relief society,” the blogger said. “Asking him to leave went against everything I believed in or had been taught about having a strong marriage but being married to an addict is a unique situation and doesn’t follow normal ‘How to Have a Strong Marriage rules.’”

Her husband moved to a nearby city and joined his family for church, Sunday dinner and holidays, she said.

“During this separation, I gave up on the idea that it was my job to save my husband and I started working on saving myself,” she said. “I went to a professional therapist, LifeStar, I started attending a 12-step group, and I wrote up some boundaries to keep myself safe. It was a sacred recovery time for me where I was able to detach from the craziness of my situation.”

Her husband found that he had to choose between having a wife and family or having his lust experiences. He began working on his own recovery by journaling, going to a professional therapist, attending LifeStar and deciding to go to 12-step groups for as long as he lives, the blogger said.

About six months after the couple separated, he moved back home.

“Being in recovery from the effects of addiction has been a miraculous process for us both. I believe that many times people are attracted to addictions because they are seeking intimacy and the addiction feels like intimacy, at least temporarily,” she said. “Now that my husband has given up the lust, there is nothing in the way of him having true intimacy with me. This is lasting and deep and it is what his heart was after all along.”

The blogger said she would advise anyone who has a loved one struggling with addiction to find some close friends or family members to confide in, write up some boundaries to keep themselves safe and find a certified sexual addiction therapist.

Anthony Hughes, Ph.D., owner of Covenant Sex Therapy, would advise women who are married to men who currently struggle or have struggled with a pornography addiction to understand they are not accountable for their partner’s recovery, to address enabling or codependent behavior and to participate in their own trauma recovery if they need, he said.

The blogger said the Hope & Healing blog and forum was one of the first places she felt she could share her secret story and be safe and understood.

“At Hope and Healing we understand each other, we strengthen each other and share the latest and best resources with one another so that we can continue to build each other up,” the blogger said. “There are a group of us there now that have had solid recovery for a while, and so we’ve decided to share what we know by writing blog posts together with the hashtag #hopelds.”

2015: Things That Got Me Through

The past year of 2015 will go down in my books as the toughest time period of my life. It was especially challenging to get through those early dark days of trauma. Fortunately, I landed on some blogs and websites that helped me get through sleepless nights and anxiety-filled days. I could create an endless list but here are some of my favorites.



  • The Hope and Healing Blog and Forum is one of my life-lines. I love being able to ask questions and get advice from other brave women on the forum who have already walked this path. This site also has countless resources for women affected by a loved one’s sexual addiction. This site was created as a pure act of love to serve women who often feel alone in this trial.
  • I was a bit cynical about trying self-compassion meditations but I am now convinced that this stuff works. Self Compassion by Dr. Kristen Nef has guided audio self-compassion exercises that are easy to follow and very relaxing.
  • During a desperate moment, I tried this fun science-based site called Happify. There are inspiring stories, memes, and articles. It’s just full of happy things!

hope is a function of struggle

  • Brene Brown is one of my favorite writers right now. Her website, Courage Works, offers online classes and inspiring stories. I recommend her free online course The Anatomy of Trust.
  • The very first site I encountered while researching LDS sex addiction was Rowboat and Marbles. This is a must-read site for any LDS member dealing with sexual addiction issues. I keep extra copies of the book Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship at home and have already shared it with family and friends who are struggling. I’ve also given copies to some of my Priesthood leaders. Thank you, author Andrew Pipanne, for your courage and forthright discussions.