Books that Don’t Go on the Shelf

There it is, sitting quietly and inconspicuously in a corner of my garage. It’s a blue tinted storage bin with a dusty dark blue lid. I hid the bin there in the garage so my house guests wouldn’t find my secret stash of self-help-for-healing-and-recovery-after -discovering-my-husband-has-a-sex-addiction collection of books. These aren’t the kinds of books you display on the living room bookshelf!


Most of the books are also on my Kindle reader, but there’s something about being able to smell the musky paper of a book, to make handwritten notes in the margins, or double underline with a variety of colors and pens. So, while waiting for appointments or for the mechanic to change my car’s oil, I pretend to be on Facebook but I am actually reading the electronic versions of my sex addiction books. When I get home, I do my underlining  in the paper version then I put the real book away in my really well-hidden blue bin.

I didn’t intend for this post to be a book review but it’s sort of ending up that way.  I was simply pondering over the many things that have changed in my life. Little things, like where do I put the book I’m currently reading? I used to have a variety of books strewn on top, under, and around my night stand.  Having books nearby makes me feel like I’m surrounded by friends. Lately, however, I feel the need to hide what I’m reading. Maybe I should wrap each book in a brown paper bag and discreetly pull each one out while I consume its contents.

Well, let me introduce you to some of my friendly books that I keep hidden from view.

He Restoreth My Soul  by Donald L. Hilton was the first book I read. It is rich in research, real stories and examples, and offers a Christ-like perspective to sex addiction. I spent a lot of time in this book and gleaned some small glimmers of hope from it while I was in the early stages of trauma.

I always have extra copies available of What Can I Do About Him Me?  so I can share with others. I like to put a copy of  this book in a pretty gift bag and give it to a devastated wife rather than tell her to download the book or buy it for herself.  I think Rhyll Croshaw, the author, will always be my hero for 1) being courageous enough to share her experiences, 2) having the intellect to figure out effective ways to deal with a sex-addicted husband. If I ever feel fear creeping back into my thinking, I go back and review Rhyll’s practical tools and suggestions.

I also have several copies of Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship and I’ve shared this book with both men and women that want to know the basics of sex addiction or as Andrew, the writer of Sitting in a Rowboat, calls it: lust addiction.  Andrew has a knack for describing sex addiction in simple and understandable terms. If you want to crawl inside the mind of a sex addict, this is a must-read!


The newest published book in my collection is Life After Lust by Forest Benedict. This is a straightforward book with practical helps and strategies for those struggling with pornography addiction. Though it is written mainly for addicts, there are fresh cutting-edge ideas and explanations that can also help spouses understand sex addiction. The emphasis is on mindset, mastery, and mission (finding purpose) in recovery.  This book might become my new favorite.

Here is a list of other books I’ve read that won’t be on display in my house:

Boundaries in Marriage (Cloud & Townsend) 

Codependent No More (Melody Beattie).  I also recommend Beyond Codependency (Melody Beattie)

Getting Past the Affair (Snyder, Baucom, Gordon).

Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts (Vicki Tidwell Palmer).  Excellent resource for creating and keeping boundaries! I prefer this over the Cloud & Townsend book.

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal (Steffens, Means).

Worthy of Her Trust (Arterburn, Martinkus). Your husband needs to read this!

I’ve also read all of Brene Brown’s books along with several Christ-centered books written by LDS authors.

Everyone must find their own process for finding healing and peace. Some people focus on their physical health and fitness. Others might find solace in service or volunteer work. Music brings comfort to many people seeking healing. For me, reading is my tool for finding safety and my source for knowledge. I’ve got to have my books, even if I have to hide them somewhere!



Morning Walk


Owls often perch in this old oak.

I have to say that there was a time when I would have titled this, “Mourning Walk” because I often tried to use my walks as a time to mourn and grieve, but I discovered something in the process of trying to simultaneously walk and grieve. It was difficult to do both.  I would leave my house with intentions of being alone so I could cry, but the tears usually disappeared ten to twenty minutes into the walk. For me, taking a walk can do miracles for creating a bit of peace in my mind. Sometimes just a tiny “bit” of peace is enough.

Unless I have an appointment or need to meet a deadline, the purpose of my walks is not to reach a specified destination. The purpose of my walks is to deliberately take in each moment, to let my senses soak in the scenes, and to let my mind and soul connect with God’s grandeur. Sometimes I have to slow down my brisk pace in order to let the experience go through me. I enjoyed one of my recent morning walks so much; I wanted to share the experience with others, so I slowed down and took a few photos (Please don’t judge the photos. They were taken with my phone!).

I have many walking routes that I enjoy, but none of them have sidewalks or busy streets. I walk in the woods. I walk where I can hear the rustle of quail as they fly from their hiding places. I can smell the pungent fragrances of wild grasses that leave my walking shoes wet from their dewey blades. A breeze might gently move a wisp of hair over my face, tickling my nose. Overhead, in the soft blue cloudless sky, I often hear the shrill cry of a hawk looking for prey.

A rare close-up encounter with a vulture!

The glorious sensory experiences fill my mind and nudge the pain and realities of life into  faraway back-corners of my thoughts, giving me a bit of peace from the noise of trauma. And that is why I go on a morning walk.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

-Henry David Thoreau


Two Years


It’s been two years since D-Day when my husband made his initial disclosure about his secret life and sex-addict behaviors.

Looking back over these two years, I realize that I have worked dang hard on my healing. I experienced it all: panic attacks, snot-bubble cries, a new ability to cuss, curled-up-on-the-floor cries, visions of a cast-iron skillet hitting my husband’s head, pulling-the-car-over-to-the-side-of-the-road cries, a new ability to throw things in my husband’s direction with (his luck) inaccuracy, and the propensity to cry while shopping, eating at a restaurant, in the middle of a completely innocuous discussion, or any random moment.

I still revert to some of those behaviors, but I’m changing. It’s been a long, slow process, but I was determined to not let my husband’s betrayal define me. I just couldn’t let myself stay in the bitter and heartbroken stage of trauma. Stages of trauma? I don’t know if there’s any science behind this, but let me share what I experienced as phases and stages of my own healing.

Dark Days: I am a survivor and I am becoming a thriver after experiencing betrayal trauma. The trauma is real, folks. And it’s really, really ugly.  I call the time following my husband’s initial disclosure, “the dark days of trauma.” I couldn’t see any light or hope. Everything I thought I knew about my life was stripped away. The darkness even invaded my sleep with fearful dreams and restlessness. I simply existed. I didn’t feel like praying, but I did it anyway. I prayed every morning that somehow, some way, I would get through the day. I prayed every night and thanked God that I got through the day. Day by day, with  panic attacks, uncontrolled sobbing, and absolutely no hope, that’s how I lived.

Finding Light: Then, I began to see little tiny glimmers of hopeful light through the dense darkness. I felt the small flickers of hope were like tiny bread crumbs that could lead me on a path back home to a life of hope and happiness. I was on a constant search for my small snippets of hope and considered them gifts from God. I began noting these gifts in a gratitude journal and my outlook, though still clouded in trauma, began to lift a bit.

light from sun

Discovering Gleaming Hope: Slowly, with a lot of work on my part, the light emerged and I could see the possibility of healing. I could feel the positive affect from the work I was doing, so I amped up my research, self-care, daily habits of healthy living, personal therapy, and reached out to God and others. The small snippets of hope turned into big miracles that were undeniable, real, and gleaming with God’s love. I was changing. I was becoming more resilient and able to put my faith in action. I was hopeful.

Discovering Bright Joy: I am here. I am still in the process of learning about living an open-hearted and joyful life. I am learning that I can create my own joy. Instead of reacting to events and people around me, I can process my emotions and find a peaceful place. For me, the ability to find peace brings a sense of calm and joy. I feel the brightness of joy on the horizon. It’s something experienced in moments but the memory can keep a heart warm for a long time. My heart is almost healed enough that it can hold the warmth of these types of memories without filtering through the holes left by wounds. I am almost there. Almost.

sparkle heart

I don’t know what happens next in my life. Living with a sex addict, even a recovering one, can be uncertain. I just know that each day is a new day. I know that I’m a wiser and more resilient person than I was two years ago so somehow I’ll be able to manage whatever the next thing is. My goal-driven and ambitious life of the past has been quieted by God’s constant and gentle reminder to surrender my life to him. Let go. Feel the peace. Find the joy.



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.



Peace on Earth

%22Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men%22

I’ve been thinking about peace. We often hear the phrase, “peace on earth, goodwill to men.” I’ve always thought of those words to mean something more global and bigger than anything that has to do with me personally. This year, however, these words have new meaning.

I believe that God wants us all to have our own individual peace. Imagine how the world would change if every one person could find their own peace. Why, we would actually experience goodwill toward all men and women!

Marion D. Hanks alluded to something similar when he said, “How to make the season wholesome? Why, by glancing healthfully inward for a moment. By seeking to bring ourselves more nearly to that measure of wholeness, of integrity, of unity with loftiest desires, of congruence with richest spiritual feeling, of harmony with that person that I would fondly like to be.”

Elder Hanks then said, “The angelic message was “Peace on earth, goodwill to men.”  . . . There is something we can do about peace in our lives and peace between us and our families and our neighbors—something—but we cannot control an insatiable world and the decisions of many men . . . .”

We can do something about creating peace in our own lives. That is what I would like for myself and for the many others who are working on healing from trauma. Peace. Peace is the ability to be in “harmony with that person that I would fondly like to be.” I think that sums up the healing path very well.

And after finding peace, let us share it with others. That’s called goodwill!



The original source of Elder Hanks’ talk (BYU Devotional, 11 Dec 1973) can be found here. It’s a great talk to read before Christmas!