Addiction does not only affect the user. It affects SO many people. People that love and care for them. People that look up to them. People that rely on them. People that trusted them. People that only want the best for them. Husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters..........SO many are affected.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Challenges Can Be Overcome.

It has been five years since my divorce was final. After being divorced, I only wanted to focus on school and my kids. I needed to figure out how to be the sole provider in all ways; financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically. I was all about my kids. They were all I did. They needed me and I needed them. Once I started teaching and they were getting older and more independent, I started to slowly feel that I was losing who I am. I still had zero desire to date. I NEVER thought I would have to date again in my life. I hate dating. Didn't date a lot in high school or even after I graduated. I am more reserved. I don't have a lot of confidence in myself that way, and I continually think in my mind, "why would anyone want me". However, aside from all of that, I was genuinely happy. I felt like I could go the rest of my life just being a mom. I didn't need anyone by my side in that way. I was in a good place as far as J went. I didn't miss him, I didn't want him back, I didn't hate him, I wasn't angry, and I didn't even feel hurt anymore. I was doing great. I had this. I was getting my life back...or so I thought. I still haven't dated a lot, but as I have dated a bit, I realize just how broken I am. Trauma was happening in my life EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. If you have read my story on here, it really is just the surface of all that went on. Everyday I was scared, hurt, confused, and felt like my life was out of control. I saw things I NEVER thought I'd see. I heard things I NEVER thought I'd hear. I experienced things I NEVER thought I'd experience. I hurt like I NEVER thought a person could hurt. I felt like I was ok after all was said and done with the divorce. I didn't need anyone to help me get through anything, because I felt I was already doing great despite the previous 7 years. I was so foolishly wrong. I went to a couple of counseling sessions after my divorce. That is it. I felt I didn't need to go anymore. I had a testimony and the strongest relationship with my Heavenly Father I had ever had. I felt I was over everything. As I have tried now to have relationships as I have been seeking and feeling as though I need an eternal companion, I realize that I have SO much work to do. Five years later and now I feel as though I am more of a mess than I was right after my divorce. Again, I am being extremely vulnerable here, but I am ok with that. I realize I don't trust. I don't feel there are any decent men out there that aren't already married. I feel (as I mentioned in my last post) that there are always ulterior motives. I have triggers. I have flashbacks. I have emotions that have been buried so deep within myself that need to be healed. I push people away. I feel that they are going to leave my life anyway, so I just try to hurry the process along. I feel unlovable as far as a relationship with any man goes. I feel unworthy. I feel not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not strong enough. Not fun enough. I feel I don't fit the "mold" of the women that surround me that men are wanting. I am broken. I sound pretty pathetic, and really, I am. But what I am trying to convey is that when we face trauma of any kind, we need help. We need guidance. We simply CANNOT get through it on our own as much as we feel we can. I KNOW that through The Atonement, we can be healed in all things. I know that there are people that are trained as professionals to help us heal. I am finally seeking the help I should have sought long ago. I have a lot of work to do. I have a skewed mindset. I am so incredibly grateful for the Gospel. Without the knowledge that I have, knowing that I am NEVER alone, that I can get through ANYTHING with an all-knowing Heavenly Father and Savior. I am so grateful for professionals that have been trained to help by giving me tools to work through the trauma. To help me not react out of triggers or fear. I know that the first step in all of this is to be, as my counselor says, "my own best friend." With the Savior by my side all things are possible. I will trust again. I will feel of my worth again. Nothing is too broken that the Atonement and hard work can't fix. Nothing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Healing Takes Time

 I "unpublished" my blog about two years ago. For about two months I have been prompted to re-publish it, and kept pushing that prompting aside. Recently I have been experiencing major PTSD. I thought I was fine. I thought I was in a good place. I thought I could get over all the crazy experiences I have faced on my own. I was wrong. I went to counseling a few times here and there, but never consistently or for very long. It was almost too painful. As I wrote my story on here, I was in the midst of all of the turmoil that was going on. It was therapeutic to write and I felt that maybe my story could help someone else. I didn't know why, but I did. In the past year, I have come to realize that going through any type of major trauma is NOT something that can be dealt with on your own. I am going to make myself really vulnerable right now. I am admitting SO many flaws that I have. Things that I have not dealt with in a healthy way...I have triggers. MAJOR triggers. I don't trust. I feel like there is always an ulterior motive going on when it comes to any sort of relationship. I feel like I will never be able to really trust again. I live with a very guarded and closed mind thinking that the only upright and trustworthy males around my age are already married. I literally have flashbacks and uncontrollable behaviors. All of these things have surfaced in just the past year. Before, I thought I had this. I didn't need help. Oh was I wrong. I am completely broken inside. It has been officially five years this month since I have been divorced. FIVE years and I am just BARELY starting my path to healing. Before re-publishing this blog, I went back and re-read it. There were so many things I didn't remember. So many memories I tried to bury. It was painful. It was emotional. However, it was necessary. Necessary because I can't heal without digging deep to pull out all the yuck deep down and really rid myself from it. So many things that I have tried to just put a band aid on instead of really letting the wounds heal. It is as if Heavenly Father is allowing these feelings to re-surface so that I can truly be the person I want to be. So I can really feel the "pure joy" I refer to in the title of this blog. I have felt so much peace where I am with my feelings for J. I don't miss him. I don't long for him. I don't hate him. I don't love him (other than loving him for blessing me with my two greatest gifts). I feel like I have completely forgiven him. It has been such a great feeling. Even after reading these posts on here again and almost feeling as if I was re-living that nightmare, I didn't feel any ill feelings toward him. I was sure I had forgiven him. Little did I know, I am still hurting. I am not feeling complete forgiveness. Something happened this past Friday that helped me realize why. Koleman and I went to Costco to pick up some pictures I had printed. We decided we would go and see if we wanted to get anything for his lunches for school. As we rounded the corner after getting the pictures, I nearly ran right into J and his wife. In the five years we have been divorced I have NEVER seen J out of context (meaning unless I saw him in passing if he came to get the kids). He and I made eye contact. My heart felt like it stopped. He quickly turned away. Didn't acknowledge me. Didn't acknowledge his son. So many emotions surfaced. Luckily Koley didn't really see him. We quickly left. I took Koley home and after he went in the house I sat in my car and sobbed. He has someone by his side. He is at Costco shopping when I have been asking him for help paying for medical bills, contacts, drill team expenses, dresses to school dances, school fees, school clothes, etc. on a teacher salary it is extremely hard to provide for two teenagers alone. He tells me he is sorry but doesn't have any money to spare. So seeing him at Costco buying things stung. Buying things for his family. His wife and her children. What about us? Your OWN children? Now this isn't a post to diminish his character (even though it may look that way). This is simply to show why I know I am not completely where I thought I was. I didn't feel pain in the fact that I want him back, it was just a reminder that we seemed to be so easily tossed aside. More specifically, me. He does try to make more of an effort with the kids than in the past. It made me realize that I have a lot of work to do to TRULY heal and be where I need to be. I have been on what seems to be on a downward spiral with feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, depression, and fear. All feelings that I have felt I have worked so hard to overcome. Well, I haven't. I only put a band aid there. Writing helps me so much. I don't know why, but I have felt so prompted to start writing on here again. I am going to publish this. Not to try to become "internet famous" (because let's be honest, maybe only two people read this. One of them being my mom), not to make money, or to get pity, but sincerely to help myself heal, and hopefully help someone else that may need to feel as if they are not alone.

Having the Label of "Divorced".

I remember listening to a talk about twelve years ago during our semi-annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of our amazing Apostles gave a talk entitled, "Divorce". At the time, I remember thinking about how horrible it would be. I thought about close friends and some extended family members who had to go through divorce. I felt sympathy for them and remember feeling so grateful it wasn't me and that I was raised in a home with parents that loved, respected, and honored the covenants they made to one another in the temple when they were sealed. I felt so grateful that "divorce" was not a word that frequented my thoughts or vocabulary. It was a foreign word, but a word I knew brang heartache to so many. Little did I know what just five years down the road would hold for me... I started marriage off in a devastating way, not initially being sealed in a temple of God and having to wait a year for that privilege. The moment I knew I would not have the opportunity to be sealed for time and all eternity in the house of the Lord like I always knew and dreamed I would, was the most devastating thing that I had to deal with up to that point in my life. Twelve years after we did have the opportunity, I remember sitting in the attorney's office signing a document that had the title of "Divorce Decree... Hadley vs. Hadley". I signed with an extremely heavy heart. I NEVER dreamed in a million years I would be one of those people that had the label of "divorced" to describe my marital status. It was bad to be divorced. It isn't part of Heavenly Father's plan. People would look down on me. I now had the title of "single mom". I was supposed to do all I could to stand by my husband. Divorce was NOT acceptable. What was I doing? I pulled up Elder Oaks talk after coming home from my attorney's office. I read it with the attitude that I gave up too easily. I was a horrible person. No matter how miserable I was, I made sacred covenants. I wasn't supposed to do this. I then came to a part in his talk where he said,
      "There are many good Church members who have been divorced. I speak first to them. We know that many of you are innocent victims--members whose former spouses persistently betrayed sacred covenants or abandoned or refused to perform marriage responsibilities for an extended period. Members who have experienced such abuse have firsthand knowledge of circumstances worse than divorce.
        When a marriage is dead and beyond hope of resuscitation, it is 
needful to have a means to end it."
That was it. Exactly what I needed at that moment. It was as if the Lord Himself was saying, "You gave it all you had. You did what was necessary for you, for Addie, and for Koleman. You are their protector and because of choices being made, they were not safe and secure. You were putting every ounce of energy into trying to save something that was "beyond hope of resuscitation", and in turn were not being the mother they needed and deserved." Although I felt much peace in knowing that I did do the right thing, the thing necessary to be healthy and happy, I still had the labels of "divorced", and "single mom". 
When I was young, I always looked at divorced people and thought they did something bad. Not because I was told/taught that, but I WAS taught that marriage is sacred and the main reason we're here to have families. I don't necessarily feel that people think I'm a bad person because I'm divorced, but I do know that I am looked at a bit differently than I would be if I were married. I got to a point after our divorce was final, where being a mom and a teacher was all I wanted to do. I was content and had plenty of fulfillment in my life from these two amazing callings. I was being the mother I wanted to be, that I needed to be. Divorce is most certainly hard on the two people that are divorcing, but I dare say, it is much harder on any of the children that are involved. Watching my happy, full of life, confident, care free daughter transform into someone that is unsure of herself, scared of having close relationships in fear of being left, unhappy with how she looks (which is crazy because she's beautiful in every way), feels like many people automatically don't like her. It has been heart breaking to witness. She's still so amazing and does all she can to stay close to her Heavenly Father, but isn't the same happy girl I once knew. Then my sweet son who is overly obsessed with having to know where I am at all times, afraid every single second that something is going to happen to me. Who doesn't easily trust. I know they know they are loved, but it's not the same as having a complete family. Watching Addie's face drop every time a friend or someone talks about their dad and how much they love him, is almost more than I can handle. Or trying to explain to Koleman everything will be ok as he is hysterically sobbing saying, "I just wanted a dad" because someone he only knew for a couple of weeks, but apparently thought would fill that role wasn't going to come around anymore. I wish I could take their pain, their fears, their worries, and their heartache. I've prayed to just give it all to me. Don't let them suffer for something they never asked for. They deserve to have a complete loving family just like anyone else. As I prayed for that, I knew it was something that couldn't be. I can't take their pain. So I then prayed to help me know how to help them. 
I have a very close friend who lost her dad in high school to a long battle with diabetes. That was nearly 20 years ago and I remember her telling me just last year that although it's been several years, people don't understand that not one day goes by where she doesn't think of him or miss him. After the funeral, other people just move on and don't realize the battle those directly affected fight to heal, grieve, and move forward. Although my situation is far different, I can relate in the same way, as I watch my kids deal with the effects of divorce. Sure, it happened nearly three years ago, but the repercussions although a bit weaker, haven't gone anywhere. 
Being divorced makes me feel (completely from my own insecurity) that I'm looked at as though I am not worthy, or good enough at times. I know that is not the case, but it's where my crazy mind goes. All of that being said, I am grateful beyond words, for the trial of not only being divorced, but all other trials as well. It has caused my once sheltered, close minded way of looking at things, to broaden. I am much slower to judge. Much quicker to give the benefit of the doubt. I love with much more ease and understanding. It has made my idealistic way of thinking, completely transform. Instead of only thinking that everyone should get married and live happily ever after in bliss, I now see there are many trials and that no matter what your marital status, it doesn't make you any less. I'm still a daughter of God. I still try to do my best to stay close to Him and try to teach my kids to do the same. We are so blessed to have the gospel. I know that I'll have the opportunity to live with He and His Son again as long as I keep the faith and strive to live in such a way to stay close to Them. Divorce is not easy. It is one of the hardest things I feel there is to endure. Not just the actual divorce, or what led up to the decision to divorce, but the after effects as well. However, like I said before, I now see situations and life in a much different more loving and non-judgemental way. We need not feel hopelessness from the repercussions divorce can bring. President Uchtdorf said, 

  "If only we could glimpse for a moment what the Lord has in store for us, not only in the next life, but in this one as well, our hope would be unshakeable and despair could never overcome us." 
 Hope is a powerful thing. With hope and faith, we CAN endure such trials and come out on top. I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father SO much! With the knowledge I have, I know despite my circumstances, everything will be ok and we can overcome anything through Them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Marriage...An Eternal Partnership.

I was recently called in my church to teach Relief Society (women ages 18 and older). I thought, "why would they want me?". However, as I have been preparing for my first lesson, I believe that this calling (unfortunately for the sisters in my ward) will be more for myself than for them. I think I was meant to have this to humble myself, stop feeling sorry for myself, and to reach outside myself more. That as my preface to this post, I was given the schedule of lessons I am to teach. What are the odds? My very first lesson is titled Marriage-An Eternal Partnership. I enthusiastically (although hesitantly inside) told the counselor in the Relief Society Presidency that I could handle teaching it, no problem, as she was kind enough to ask knowing my circumstances. Just because of my circumstances, it doesn't mean I don't believe wholeheartedly that marriage is ordained of God and truly a partnership with Him. It is the HUGE reason for us coming to the earth, to have our families, and to learn and grow together in this sacred partnership. As I have began to prepare for this lesson and the direction I want to go, as I read the lesson outline by one of our former beloved Prophets, President Howard W. Hunter, I had a rush of emotions come over me. I have felt sadness, joy, discouragement, peace, and confusion all in one reading.
 I recently went and spoke at a different stake's girls camp. As I spoke to these beautiful girls, I told them that as I was growing up when I was their age, I always just assumed I would be married to a returned missionary, someone who cherished the gospel as much as myself, in the temple, we'd have four kids, and live happily ever after. Well, life certainly doesn't always turn out like we want or expect. I don't know that it ever does exactly. I did marry a returned missionary. He was only three days fresh off of his mission when I met him. So I just knew he would have the strong values and morals that I was seeking. I was sure he cherished the gospel principles and honored his priesthood with the utmost respect. I mean, he did just get home from his mission! I believe he did have a testimony and believed the same as me, however, his choices weren't always in line with what I had always pictured the man I'd marry to be. We didn't marry in the temple initially. It was devastating. One of the worst things I have ever been through. That was a choice that I made also. A choice that was life-changing. We were sealed almost exactly one year later, which was amazing, but not what I had expected. We had two children, and then dealt with four miscarriages. Not what I wanted or expected. And we didn't end up living happily ever after together. Our eternal marriage shockingly ended officially on October 3, 2013. It was a nightmare. It was not what I EVER would have imagined. I remember sitting in the attorney's office in June of 2013. He had left for the last time a month prior. I couldn't believe where I was. I couldn't believe I was actually going to sign a document that would end what was supposed to be for eternity. I couldn't believe the man that told me he loved me would make the choices he did. How could someone do that to someone they loved? I really believed he did love me when he said it. How could I ever trust again? I remember the reactions of people that knew us when they found out we were getting divorced. They were shocked. I had several people tell me we were the last ones they would ever expect would be getting divorced...well I was right there with them.
 Satan is relentless at destroying families, and he is doing a very good job at it. I remember even when I was growing up, divorce wasn't super common. Now it seems divorce has affected more people than not in one way or another. It is so heartbreaking. It actually makes me sick that I fall into the "divorced" category. Satan uses many different tactics to destroy families. There are so many temptations that he puts in our pathway. They only become temptations, when we are the ones to allow them to be. I have firsthand experience of the effects of a spouse giving into temptations such as pornography and infidelity. It not only affected myself, but my children. I feel we can never be too careful when it comes to "cleaving" unto our spouse and our spouse only. Now this doesn't just mean in regards to the opposite sex. It means our spouse should come first and foremost before anything or anyone; that includes hobbies, work, even our church callings and our families we were raised in. They should be our first priority, along with our children. In the Doctrine and Covenants section 42 verse 22 it says, "Thou shalt love thy wife [or husband] with all thy heart, and thou shalt cleave unto her and none else." In Matthew chapter 19 verse 5 it says, "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh." Like I mentioned,  there are many tactics that the adversary is using to destroy families. These different temptations I speak of, again, don't only involve infidelity. I have seen people that are VERY close to me suffering in their marriages due to a spouse being putting video games, work, sports, friends, and even their parents or siblings, before their husband/wife. Marriage is definitely not easy. It is a growing experience where there is a lot of lessons to be learned including, patience, sacrifice, humility, selflessness, having an open mind, and many more. Although not easy, if both partners in a marriage are doing all they can to implement these qualities continually and consciously, they most likely will have a very successful and loving marriage. Marriage, along with parenting, is the hardest, yet the MOST rewarding commitment you'll ever make. It truly is ordained of God and the purpose we are sent to this earth. We are sent to have families of our own. To work together as husbands and wives to help one another reach the ultimate goal of eternal exaltation.
 In the lesson outline I'm using to teach this, President Hunter says, "Just as baptism is a commandment of the Lord, so is temple marriage. As baptism is essential to admittance to the Church, so temple marriage is essential to our exaltation in the presence of God. It is part of our destiny. We cannot fulfill our ultimate aims without it. Do not be satisfied with anything less." There seems to be a lot of both men and women that are choosing to not get married for many reasons. Some look at it as it hindering their "freedom". Some are more interested in a career path than having a family. Maybe to some it's too much of a financial burden that causes them to not have the "fun" life to travel, buy expensive things, or just to do as they please. Some may just be waiting for the "perfect" person or the "perfect" time. There is never going to be a "perfect" time or person! I love what President Uchtdorf said in the last general priesthood session, "My beloved brethren, may I remind you, if there were a perfect woman, do you really think she would be that interested in you?
In God’s plan of happiness, we are not so much looking for someone perfect but for a person with whom, throughout a lifetime, we can join efforts to create a loving, lasting, and more perfect relationship. That is the goal." From personal experience, it most certainly is vital that we find someone that has the values and standards that are most important to us and that will provide a means to help one another reach that goal of eternal happiness and that of living with our Savior and Father in Heaven together with our eternal families. Obviously, there is not a perfect person on the earth, and even a "perfect" person for any one person to marry. We all have flaws, downfalls, different views on certain things, etc. What is awesome is we will inevitably marry an imperfect person, but as we are all imperfect, together with your spouse, you can help each other, complement each other's weaknesses, and strengths, by cheering one another on and supporting one another in the way that would be in line with keeping the commandments and living in such a way to return to live with our Heavenly Father again.
 As I have now been "officially" single for nearly three years, however even five years prior to that I remember as our marriage started failing, watching husbands involved with their families. Watching them sitting in church with their arm around their wife, helping wrestle the kids. Watching husbands and wives play happily at the park with their children. Watching husbands and wives out on little dates. I am not going to lie, it's hard. I get envious. As our marriage started to fall apart (not even realizing that was what was happening) I remember longing for those things. After our divorce, I remember feeling completely happy and content, FINALLY! How would I ever be able to trust again anyway? I just wanted to be a mom, and my kids were all I needed...or so I thought. Just in the last few months, I again, have felt that longing to have someone to talk to about my kids. Someone to confide in. Someone to share things with. Someone to fill a void that only a spouse can provide. It just goes to show how natural it is. That we were sent here to get married for eternity and to have our own families. It's extremely hard for me to hear people degrade their spouses. I know that marriage also brings frustrations, and we ALL get frustrated at times. We're human. But to hear others talk negatively about their spouse, it makes me cringe. Not that I didn't voice frustrations. I wasn't perfect. However, going through all of this, has made me realize how vitally important it is that we cherish our spouse. We don't speak ill of them. We hold them with the utmost respect. Sure, it is not always easy when we are annoyed or frustrated, I get that. I am saying that having been married, and now being a single mother, I would not ever want to take for granted again the beautiful thing marriage is. I certainly didn't realize how important these things were when I had them, like I should have. Not only do I long for that companionship, but I want so badly for my children to have that male role in their lives. Someone that will love them and be there for them like a dad should.
 I want to end with one last quote by President Hunter, "I pray that the Lord will bless us that we may realize the reason for our existence and what we must do to find our way to exaltation and eternal life. Part of the eternal plan is the marriage we hold sacred."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Not Necessarily "Picture Perfect"...

 I seem to write about the same redundant things. I guess the reason being is that writing is my out. I feel I can get out all that I am struggling with, and not really necessarily bother anyone (unless someone actually reads this). This afternoon I took the kids to the dentist. We are switching to a new dentist and so I got the fun job of filling out all the paperwork for all three of us. I handed the receptionist my insurance card. She then asked, "Are you married?", to which I of course replied, "No, I am divorced." It still stings every time I say that. Not necessarily because I miss who I was married to, or because I want to be married to him again, but more so because I NEVER thought those words would come out of my mouth. We were called back to see the dentist. First, the kids had their teeth cleaned. As the dental hygienist was cleaning their teeth, we were talking. She asked me where I was from. Then she said, "Oh is your husband from Pleasant Grove too?" Once again, I had to say the dreaded words, "Oh I'm divorced." I have just been struggling so much lately. I don't understand why. I have EVERY reason to be happy. Then today, having to say that awful phrase twice within an hour, it just solidified how I'm feeling. I recently read an awesome article called What We Cannot Afford to Live Without. The author talks about all the struggles that surround us. She then says flat out, life isn't fair. She was feeling discouraged with all of the turmoil in this world, when she received a phone call from a friend. This friend was struggling in her marriage. She writes, "She never imagined that their “for time and all eternity” marriage would mean time apart on earth. She never imagined that the priesthood holder in her home would question the reality of God, question his love for his high school sweetheart, and question whether or not a forever even exists. She never imagined she’d be getting her kids ready and out the door on her own. But here she was. Alone. Living a life she never saw for herself." I felt as though in some ways, I was reading about how my own life panned out to be.

NEVER in a million years did I imagine this life I am now living. Now don't get me wrong, it is an AMAZING life, but a life I did not foresee being mine. I have said this a million and ten times, but all growing up, I just KNEW I would marry in the temple, have four or so children, and live happily ever after. I had this vision intensify as I reached the Young Women age and I sat in on lessons painting the "picture perfect" way our lives should end up being. Of course that is how we want them to be, how our Heavenly Father hopes they are, but He also knows that the idealistic life of marrying perfectly, doesn't always happen. He knows that some of us need such growing experiences, as I did/do. My "picture perfect" life of marrying in the temple was diminished right away as I was married civilly, and had to wait to be sealed a year later. I was devastated. I jumped that hurdle, and life seemed to be right as I had always imagined. However, my "picture perfect" husband wasn't exactly what I had envisioned for myself. Although very patient and loving toward me, the gospel wasn't as important in the same regards to him as it was to me. I always pictured my husband being the one to head up family prayer, scripture study, family home evening, etc. He was always willing to join in happily, but if I wasn't the one to head it up, it most often wouldn't have taken place. Yet again, another hurdle that I was able to work through. I wanted to honor and respect him no matter what. So I prayed for patience through this, and realized that he, himself, didn't have the male example in his home to reiterate the importance of the priesthood power he held. Still not "picture perfect", but we were happy. He was a great dad. 

Fast forward a few years to when Addie was in kindergarten, Koleman about 3. I was wanting so badly to have another baby. I was going to have at least four in my "picture perfect" life. After four miscarriages, it wasn't so picture perfect. It was extremely difficult for me, but yet again, I jumped the hurdle and finally realized how blessed I was to have the two I did, instead of not being able to have any children at all.

I NEVER imagined I would have a child that would have special needs. That wasn't ever a thought in my "picture perfect" life I always imagined. So when I heard the words, "he is autistic", I was scared, confused, sad, and felt a sense of despair. How was I to do this? I didn't know about autism and how to help him.

As time went on, not only was my envisioned "picture perfect" life not panning out at all as I had imagined, it seemed to be crumbling to pieces before my eyes. My husband was living a life that was entirely different than I thought. I felt that something was off for many years, but always buried those feelings because, no way was that going to be my life. My husband would never make those choices. 

When he left to work out of state (after I told him I didn't want him to). I felt sick. The day he left I miscarried the last pregnancy I had. Not in my "picture perfect" image. He very rarely called, and when he did, he always had to hurry. Something wasn't right, but I wasn't going to let there be something wrong (since I have so much control over that). 

A few months after he left I was talking to him and he said, "I think I should tell you that I drank last night." My heart dropped to my toes. Ok, not "picture perfect" but we all make mistakes. At least he told me. Thank goodness for repentance. I can forgive him. I can help him work through this, I thought.

Fast forward nine months later to when my world was crashing before me. I was talking on the phone to a friend that worked with him after I was worried sick after talking to him and he sounded terrible. I had his friend go check on him. He informed me that he was "just drunk". My heart sank, yet again. He then said, "Do you have a minute? I think there are many things you should know..." The rest of the conversation felt as though it was a living nightmare. "J drinks all the time. He is drunk more often than not." I couldn't do this! He told me he drank once. "He also has been smoking and abusing his pain medication." Are you kidding? This is a joke right? This couldn't be happening. "The other thing I think you should be aware of is he has been communicating with another female." Ok, now this guy is jumping to conclusions, I thought. It's probably just some girl he is friends with. He would NEVER be unfaithful to me in that regard. "They communicate almost all day, everyday either through text or on the phone." No, he is mistaken. This would never happen. I hung up the phone feeling almost paralyzed. This wasn't happening. This isn't what I signed up for. I was supposed to have four children, married happily to a righteous priesthood holder that not only honored his priesthood, but cherished it. When it was confirmed that in fact, he did have a relationship with another girl, I literally wanted to die. The drinking, the smoking, even the prescription drug abuse, I could work through those things with him. I could help him. We could conquer those. But the affair...I thought I was his everything. I thought he loved me. We were sealed for not only time but for all eternity. He told me I was the "girl of his dreams". He told me he loved me. He told me I was his world...but I wasn't. I saw hard evidence of the relationship he was having with another girl. I dry heaved all night. I plead with my Heavenly Father to take this from me. I literally couldn't keep living. This wasn't ever supposed to happen in my "picture perfect" life. I couldn't do it.

I wanted to try to work this out. It was the hardest decision up to that point. How could I ever trust him again? How could I feel my worth again? I had to try. We were supposed to be an eternal family. We had two precious children that deserved to have a dad and a mom that cherished one another. I HAD to I did.

Everyday was a battle. I knew he was not doing things he should, but couldn't prove it. He would tell me it was ok. He was doing all he could to repent and be the father and husband he should be. I believed him until the next day. Day in and out, I knew he was doing something. Everything was off. He wasn't the man I married. Far from it. 

Finding out, yet again, with hard evidence, that not only was he abusing pain medication, but illegal street drugs, and being unfaithful to me with a different girl this time, I couldn't do it anymore. I had to protect my children. I had to be the mom they needed. I wasn't being the mother I should have been. I was consumed in being a detective instead. Always trying to make sense of things, searching for answers. I couldn't do this to my children anymore. With the choices he was making, I didn't even know that they were safe. I had to be done. 

As I sat in the attorney's office with a document that was about 1/4 inch thick with the label Hadley vs. Hadley and Decree of Divorce at the top of it, it was all I could do not to run to the bathroom and vomit. I had to do this, but this wasn't "picture perfect". You don't get married to get divorced. What was I doing? I was tearing our family apart. At this point, I no longer had a choice. I reluctantly signed the documents. It was done. It was final. My "picture perfect" marriage that I had always dreamed of, couldn't have been further from what my reality now was. It was now up to me. I was the only one to provide for my two children, not only financially, but in every other aspect as well. I didn't have a husband, a partner, a teammate. It was solely up to me, and me alone. 

Two and a half years later, as I reflect on the events that have transpired in the last 15 years, I sit in awe. NEVER, EVER would I have imagined this to be my life. A now single mother with two children that depend solely on me for everything. Not having someone to confide in, to give input on decisions concerning our children, not there to watch Addie dance with me, or to laugh together and enjoy the pure happiness they both bring. 

Going back to that article, the writer goes on to talk about her friend and despite her huge challenges, she realized that she needs to do all in her power to have the spirit to be with her as much as possible. Pray more meaningfully. Study the scriptures more intricately. To hold meaningful family home evenings, prayer, and scripture study with her children. This is truly the only way I was able to find ANY sense of relief when I literally just wanted to die. I felt so hopeless at times that I couldn't even get myself to get out of bed. I would pray so fervently, and each time, I was able to feel some peace, some comfort, and some hope. That is the only way to happiness. Doing all in our power to have the spirit to be with us as much as we possibly can. It has to be a conscious effort as we are surrounded by so many vices that tend to take the spirit away whether it is the media, or even just trying to have the perfect glorified look that everyone seems to be seeking. 

Life certainly isn't "fair", but if it were, what would our purpose be for being here? How would we grow and become who we were sent here to be? How would we be refined and prepared to live with our Heavenly Father again? Trials come no matter what. Our choices could always be in line with the commandments, but adversity will be there regardless. Maybe we make choices that take the spirit away, and in turn cause major heartache, pain, and hopelessness, but again, we can always turn to Him. He is there regardless of how unworthy we are or feel to have His help. Despair is real. It is scary. But the great news is, we ALWAYS have Him to turn to before reaching that point. I am so incredibly grateful for the gospel. For my Savior and all He did and does for me. For a very loving Heavenly Father that knows all, and will NEVER turn His back on us. Yes, life isn't going to always be what we expect, but regardless of what transpires in our lives, we can always have joy, peace, and hope. We can because He will never leave our side.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

14 Years Ago...

Fourteen years ago yesterday, I felt excited and nervous as I was dressed all in white. My tummy was so big I couldn't see my feet. I was so grateful that my precious baby girl that was to arrive soon, was going to be born in the covenant. She was going to be mine forever! That day was the beginning of what I thought would be eternity... Last night as I sat in the temple, I reflected back to that day. I remembered feeling her kick almost excitedly as though she knew what was happening. She knew that we were being sealed as an eternal family. Little did I know that only three short days later she was going to join our family. I thought about the time line of events from that day to today over the course of fourteen years. NEVER on that special day 14 years ago, would I have ever guessed in a billion years, that the events that played out in the next 14 years would take place. Little did I know just 19 short months after Addie was born, Koleman would join our eternal family. When Koleman was born, I knew he was special. EVERYONE is special, but this was a different kind of special. I felt he needed to be tested. Something was different. Not a bad different, but different nonetheless. At the age of 3 (almost 4) he was diagnosed as being on the Autistic Spectrum. Although I never thought I would have my own child with special needs, I can't ever describe in words what a gift he has been. He teaches me daily. He is so full of insight. He is truly a blessing that I never imagined I'd have.

I didn't know that three years after Koleman was diagnosed, I would have the strong feeling that I needed to enroll in school, to become a teacher. I NEVER wanted to be a teacher, or at least I never thought of that. Addie in second grade, Koley in kindergarten. I was LOVING being a stay-at-home mom. I spent a lot of time in both of their classrooms volunteering. I loved it. I distinctly remember the night I had that feeling. We didn't live far from the elementary school that they attended. One night I took them on a walk to the school to play on the playground. I remember watching them play and then looking over at the school, seeing doors decorated with artwork done by the students. I can't explain the feeling, but I had a thought come into my mind, "You need to go back to school, and you need to be a teacher." I almost had an argument in my head with myself. I didn't want to go back to school with my kids being so young still. And a teacher?! What in the world?!! There is no way I could amount to that!! But the feeling of me needing to go back was so strong, and so clear. I couldn't deny it. I almost wondered if my husband was going to die prematurely and I would have to be the sole provider for my kids. The next week I enrolled for the coming fall semester to finish my generals. After finishing them, I applied and was accepted into the Elementary Education program at Dixie State University.

 Little, did I know on that day 14 years ago as I was sealed to my husband, that it wasn't going to be for eternity with him. As I was going through my schooling, it started to become apparent as to the urgency of me needing to go back to school. The reason I needed to obtain a career that would be ideal for a mom. Especially a single mom that actually was going to be the sole provider for her children, but not because of her husband dying prematurely like she thought maybe could possibly be the reasoning behind the urgency she felt to enroll in school. 

NEVER would I have thought that to be what my life would end up as. It is absolutely crazy what life brings. Although things have happened that truly were as if I was living a nightmare, I am grateful. Through all of these unexpected, extremely hard events that have taken place in the last 14 years, I can't begin to describe the lessons I've learned, the strength I've gained, the faith I was actually forced to lean on to make it through, and most important to me, the relationship I have now with my Heavenly Father and the testimony I have obtained. There were days I literally felt as though I couldn't even function. I felt as if I were in a hole of despair and pain that I couldn't get out of. I felt alone. I felt like I couldn't go on. Those days were when I literally could do nothing to ease the pain so I would pray. I would pray for what, at times, seemed like hours. The only thing that brought any relief was to pray. This is where my faith was forced to be strengthened. This is how I gained the relationship that I don't know I ever would have or could have in this way, with my Heavenly Father.

It is inevitable that we are going to all have days when we feel down, overwhelmed, maybe even hopeless, or a sense of despair. When such days come it is almost vital that we have something to ease that pain, something to look forward to, or something to give some hope. The awesome thing is, Heavenly Father knows all. He knows best. He knows our fears, our doubts, our pain, our desires, our weaknesses, and our strengths. He knows what we need when we need it. He will willingly provide a way to obtain the things we want and need. He WANTS to provide that way. The only thing He requires is that we ask. We put our faith forward. We lean on Him. He gave us the most incredible gift that has EVER or will EVER be given. He gave us His Son. Our Savior, gave His life for us. He suffered, he felt ALL that we feel. EVERY heartache, every pain, every ounce of anger, distress, fear. He WILLINGLY felt these things, and then gave His life for us. He did this so that we could have the opportunity to repent. To come unto Him. To place our burdens at His feet. To never feel alone, as He has felt all that we feel. He is the ONLY one to feel everything we have and will. All we need to do (and I say this to myself more than anyone) is to willingly place every ounce of our faith in Him, in our Heavenly Father. My favorite talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland is entitled, "An High Priest of Good Things to Come." In this talk he says, "Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. But even as the Lord avoids sugary rhetoric, He rebukes faithlessness and He deplores pessimism. He expects us to believe!"  
He expects us to believe! He wants us to believe in Him. He does know all. He does know what is best. The key to obtain hope, happiness, and peace is to allow Him to take our burdens. Believe in Him and have the faith needed to know that He will provide a way for us. He will give us all that we need. This has been the most valuable thing I have gained the past 14 years. This knowledge. To actually have no choice but to rely on Him. I wouldn't trade the last 14 years for anything in this world. Nothing. Not even the heartache, the pain, or the despair. I am beyond grateful for this gospel. I am beyond grateful for the plan of salvation. I am beyond grateful for the temple and the opportunity I have to live with my two angels once again for eternity. I am beyond blessed.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Faith...the ONLY Way to Endure and Find Joy.

Almost 14 years ago exactly, I remember holding my brand new baby girl in my arms. I was in awe that she was mine. That my Heavenly Father entrusted me to hold such a sacred and beautiful calling. He trusted me to be the one to raise one of His precious children. To teach her, to guide her decisions, to be a righteous example. I was feeling so much joy, yet a bit overwhelmed at the same time. I specifically remember that at that moment, I looked over at my husband and felt grateful that I had a partner in this calling. Someone to pray with me for our precious daughter, and little did I know that just 19 months later we would add to our prayers, our sweet son as well. I felt grateful that he held the priesthood and could be there to bless them. I was blessed to be able to be home with them as it was extremely important to me. I was so grateful for that privilege. However, I remember one specific day as they got to be a little older, Addie just 4 and Koleman almost 3. I was feeling overwhelmed. In a matter of maybe an hour and a half, they had got into a box that had Styrofoam in it broke it up into millions of tiny pieces and were throwing it all over the living room pretending that it was snowing, "painting" my bathroom mirror with toothpaste, and drew a beautiful picture with permanent marker on my brand new couch. I remember when their dad got home how relieved I felt to see him. I was happy to let him take over for a bit! It felt like one of the hardest days ever! Oh to only realize what a matter of seven years would bring, I would go back to that day in a heartbeat!...

I NEVER fathomed I would one day have to take over the role of being both mom and dad. That I wouldn't have someone that I could talk to when I needed help making a parental decision and getting input and guidance from a spouse as well. I didn't realize how hard it would be to feel the weight of providing solely on my own for the two of them. Knowing they only have me to be the one to provide the physical necessities of life. They solely rely on me to be there when they are sick, to listen when they are sad, to comfort when they are scared, and to help when they are stuck. This recent school year has been one of many, many ups, but even many more downs. I don't mean to sound pessimistic, and I am sure at this point that is the way this is looking, but I really am heading somewhere with this that is positive. :) It has been almost three years since I have been officially divorced, seven years since we have really been a functional family unit. Just in the last five months have I seen the effects it has had on Addie. She is a normal teenager. Struggling to feel good about how she looks, where she fits in with friends, and dealing with the pressures that come just from being this age. However, this past little while has been extremely difficult as she has displayed fear, anger, and sadness that I have never seen from her. She was SO confident, and now is so hesitant to be herself. Always afraid she's not going to be accepted or that people will up and leave her for something better. There have been nights that I haven't been there for her like I should be because I am at school trying to be prepared for the next day. Many days when she texts me from school saying she can't face being there and me not being able to even call her to comfort her as I am with my own students. Many times when she has needed me to just be there to hold her and give her my time, and I didn't because I was trying to do the best I could to provide and to be a success in my new career as a teacher. I didn't say I couldn't be there for her... I simply wasn't. I would weigh what I should do. Not sure if I should risk not having a job to support them so I could run home and be there for her, instead of just talking to her on the phone. I have been so consumed with making sure that I am providing financially, trying to figure out my own emotions and feelings as another wrench has been thrown in the mix with me personally, and in turn, not being even a fraction of the mom I want to be and should be for my children. Not there like I should be to make sure they are getting their homework turned in. Not there to make sure they are eating healthy. Not there to give them my undivided attention. Not there to monitor their phone and iPad use like I should be. Not having family home evenings that are really meaningful, or discussing the scriptures, only reading them. Some days when I get home from school, I am so drained not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well that I can barely even carry on a conversation. As the last day of school was just this past Wednesday, I have replayed this year in my mind over and over. I have had a nightmare twice since then about being the absolute worst parent that ever lived. They not only lack a father, but have a mother that isn't near where she should be in providing the emotional support they need. I have literally been pleading with my Heavenly Father to help me. I feel like I have failed in all aspects as a mother this past nine months. I feel that I have been pulled in a million different directions, so instead of persevering and relying on the Lord to support me, I just have shut down. It has been a lesson that I have certainly needed to learn, and unfortunately, not only have I learned the hard way, but my kids have had to endure me getting to this point as well. I have not been the example I should be of putting complete faith and absolute trust in the Lord. I was able to jump some of the most difficult hurdles that have EVER been placed before me because I did put my faith in Him. Why I haven't had that same faith these past several months, I don't know. Actually, I do know. I have let so many distractions all around me take over that I haven't ALLOWED the Lord to step in. I haven't turned to Him like I should have been. I haven't placed my trust in Him and put this at His feet. He knows what I need. He knows what is best. He has been waiting for me to allow Him to help. To ask him with more fervency and to trust in Him more fully. Without Him, I couldn't do this single parenting. I haven't done it without His help. I testify with every ounce of my heart that the only way to get through ANY trials that we face, is to turn to Him. Sure, we are going to make MANY mistakes (me probably millions) along the path, but I have sincerely learned that if we are doing all in our power to do those things that not only will bring us closer to Him, but that will help us place our complete faith Him, we can get through anything. We can not only get through anything, but we can enjoy the journey through whatever it is we are enduring. We can be happy. We can feel peace. We can find the strength we need to hold tight to the iron rod and not let go even for a second.