Monday, December 19, 2011

Catching Smoke

I’ve been told by many that writing is great therapy when you’re going through a hard time in your life. You would think that I would know this better than most since I am a writer after all. But two things happen when I’m writing about my hardships.
            Number one; writing down my feelings brings to the surface all the pain and despair that I am so desperately trying to bury. And number two; somehow when I put my feelings down on paper they seem so trivial and meaningless. If I keep them locked down inside my heart and in my mind I can keep myself safe from the regurgitation of the perpetual misery that accompanies my broken heart. Maybe I’m subconsciously protecting the broken heart itself from healing… who knows. But… and there’s always a “but” isn’t there?… no matter how hard I try to bury the pain it’s always going to be there… haunting me and defining me, dictating my thoughts and actions. Until finally it takes on a life of its own, continually growing and feeding off of the darkness and the despair that constantly surrounds me.
            So I guess the real question is how do I get rid of it, how do I beat it? Does anyone know how? Can someone help me please? I’m growing ever so desperate…
            As a child I once had an unimaginably pure faith in God and the good of the world around me. But over the years that faith has faded, its beautiful light smothered by the ugliness of life itself and the selfish, dark hearts of people that came and went in and out of my life. It took many years before I found the faith that I had once lost. And it didn’t come back without a fight. There were still many forces that tried to keep that faith from finding its way back home again. But once it did that beautiful light that had been so mercilessly extinguished flooded back into my heart with triumphant victory.
And that was a good day.
            But Faith, as with anything worth cherishing in life, is very fragile and must never be dismissed or neglected. The smallest wound can take the life from it without any effort if we don’t watch over it and continue to nurture it as we would our own children. And before we know it the light is gone again, leaving us to stumble around in the dark that we have once again created for ourselves, trying to catch it again only to have it slip through our fingers like translucent plumes of smoke.
            Now we find ourselves in quicksand, sinking ever slowly. We desperately grasp on to anything within our reach just to survive another day, suffocating on our own fear and despair as we struggle to keep our head above the surface.
            After my husband left me for another woman I thought… and still think… that I’m never going to make it through this heart ache. I have never in my 42 years of life ever felt anything as painful and bitter as this. The consuming anger of being betrayed and thrown away like old garbage by the person I’ve loved so dearly and devoted my life to cannot be described through the simplicity of mere words.
I took care of this man when he was sick; I bathed and dressed him after his surgery. I changed his bandages and fought with insurance companies to make sure he was taken care of. I worked and supported him while he stayed at home and did nothing for three years… only to have him come home one day angry at me in a futile attempt to justify the affair that he had just started with a married woman from his work. 15 years of a beautiful life, although a struggle at times… but beautiful none the less… was over in the blink of an eye. This life together now discarded with no more thought than you would give a random scrap of paper blowing along a busy street in the wind.
            Never once has he faced what he’s done like a man as he continues to blame me for his affair. Rationalizing in his mind that dirty laundry and fast food is a justifiable reason to hate your wife and have an affair with a married woman. For more than a year I’ve looked in the mirror day after day and wondered what was so wrong with me that it would force my husband into the arms of another woman. I thought that maybe if I was prettier or thinner he would still love me. Maybe if I was a better cook or made more money… maybe if I kept the house spotless 24/7 that would have saved my marriage. Maybe… just maybe. But the simple truth is that no matter how much my husband tries to convince me… and himself… that what he did was my fault there isn’t anything I could have done… or been… to change what he did.
            He did this… not me! He is solely responsible for the choices he has made that have torn apart the lives of so many. Including those of his own sons.
            But even when I say those words out loud… or write them down on a piece of paper… I still can’t help but blame myself for the failure of my marriage. So often we push the blame for the problems in our life; or the terrible choices we have made on the adversary. Even though there is no doubt in my mind that he plays a role in all the darkness in this world, when do we look at ourselves and take responsibility for who we are and what we’ve done? When do we admit to ourselves that we are solely responsible for the actions we take and the choices we make?
            If we believe in God then we must surely believe in the Devil. There can be no light without darkness and there can be no good without evil… of this I’m sure. Everything we experience in this life is a test, a test of our faith and our ability to give ourselves completely to Him. But make no mistake… this is no easy task. Whether it’s the adversary guiding our journey, or our own need to control what happens around us, the simple act of giving our yoke to Heavenly Father to bear for us can be more difficult than we will ever hope to realize.
It’s so easy for us… imperfect as we are… to lose sight of the precious light He gives to us when we are in pain. We feel so isolated and helpless, unsure of where to turn. Many days and nights I would humble myself, dropping to my hands and knees with my face buried in the carpet, begging God to take this burden from me. Pleading with Him to save my marriage and bring my love back to me.
But He did not.
Desperate from the pain and tormented by my failure I would cry to Him… but still no answer. With no relief in sight, only more pain was brought down upon my heart until I reached a point where I no longer prayed. At one point I even told God that I hated Him… and what’s worse is that I actually believed it in my heart. He had not helped me. He continued to let me suffer. I BEGGED Him to let me come home if He wasn’t going to save me… but again, He did not.
My faith is now on the brink of extinction. That precious light barely flickered now; the slightest breath of despair threatening to blow it out forever.
With my family now in pieces… my husband gone and my children torn between two parents that still love them terribly… I go to church alone. The pew that once seemed too small for our family now stretches on for a mile. I scrunch myself tight into the far corner against the wall so no one can see me sitting there… alone like the pathetic, thrown-away wife that I am. I look around at the families filling up the chapel and my heart starts to bleed. I see dads holding sweet little babies while moms are attending to busy, squirming toddlers and I feel more isolated than I could have ever imagined.
All eyes are upon me now… looking at me… the woman who lost her family because of the horrible wife that she was. She couldn’t even keep her husband happy; now look at her sitting there all alone. It’s what she deserves. She’s been replaced by someone else… someone who won the ultimate battle for the man she loved with all her heart and soul. Reduced to nothing more than a mere shell of the woman she used to be.
Now, rather than face who I am and what has happened… I hide. I stay inside my cave of solitude trying to protect myself from further pain, but only managing to feed the bitterness that now resides inside my heart. My friends and family call out to me in desperation… pleading with me to come out and play… to live my life again; trying to make me understand that one man’s toxic opinion does not reflect the truth of who I really am. Yet I continue to hide… building an impenetrable fortress around my heart in a vain attempt to keep out the pain. Never realizing that the walls I have so meticulously constructed have only succeeded in protecting the very thing that I fear… that ever consuming emptiness.
But I cannot change this… I don’t know how. My faith lay dying… nothing more than a smoldering ember of the brilliant light that was once a beacon of my salvation. I can no longer catch it… that elegant smoke now slipping through my fingers. I can see it, but I can’t hold on to it. So I watch it swirl around gracefully in the ever dimming light, hoping that I can once again grasp it… and hold on tight…
To that beautiful faith that continues to elude my heart.
There is a scripture that was given to me by a friend that is very dear to me. I taped this scripture to the cabinet above my desk so that I can read it over and over again… day after day. It gives me great comfort in knowing that my pain will not last forever. In knowing that someday peace will once again flood my heart and my soul. I can only hope that God has a plan for me greater than the one that I lost… often that hope is the only thing that keeps me going each day… each hour… each precious minute.

My Children
Peace be unto thy soul;
Thine afflictions shall
Be but a small moment;
And then, if thou
Endure it well,
God shall exalt thee
On high; thou shalt
Triumph over all
Thy foes.
Doctrine & Covenants
121: 7-8

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