This morning has been a bit off for some reason. I had a pretty good sleep last night, Becky and I did the routine of AEIOU’s, but when I woke up today I felt off.
I don’t think I had any weird or scary dreams.
What I think is happening is I’m either fearful or shaming myself. Part of this is due to a new baby: I’m afraid I’m not doing enough or am not doing what Becky wants/needs me to do (getting up with the baby, changing the baby, things like that). I’m afraid she’s mad at me or that I’m not meeting her expectations, whether voiced or not voiced.
I’m afraid she seems different. It’s natural that she is acting a bit different – she just had a child and is tired, sore, and probably feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel these feelings of difference are directed at me – that she’s mad that I should know what I should be doing something.
I think I also get a bit nervous when her mom is here – what will she think about how I do things, especially since I don’t have the “standard” job working for the man. I know her mom probably doesn’t think too much about that but it’s a feeling I think is embedded in my limbic mind.
I want to connect with Becky, but I feel that first I need to connect with God. I need to tell Him what I’m feeling through writing and through prayer. I need to look for answers in the scriptures and words of the prophets. I need to have faith that things are ok with Becky and me. I need to talk to her about my feelings when the time is right. And then I need to get to work, pray in the moment I’m feeling off, and then not look back.
I went to LDS.org and typed in “don’t look back” in hopes of finding something about Lot’s wife and that story. What I found was so full of great advice, that I feel almost overwhelmed with all I could “copy and paste” from the talk. The talk is titled Remember Lot’s Wife and it’s by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
If I can summarize, it says that I shouldn’t look back too much at the past. Looking back, remembering where I’ve been, and not forgiving myself or others, shows a lack of faith. Faith is about putting my trust in God today and believing that He has great things in store for me. Lot’s wife lacked faith. She resented the fact that God was leading her away from what she thought was the best thing she could have. She doubted that what was in store could ever be better than what she’d had.
It’s important to not forget what I’ve learned from the past, but it’s more important to live today and look forward to all that Heavenly Father has in store for me and for my family.
One of the purposes of history is to teach us the lessons of life. George Santayana is best known for saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Reason in Common Sense, vol. 1 of The Life of Reason [1905–1906]).
Luke 17:32 says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” What are we supposed to remember about her? That she looked back; that she doubted; that she wanted more what she felt was “secure” or “comfortable” than what God had in store for her and for her family.
“Escape for thy life,” the Lord said, “look not behind thee . . . ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17; emphasis added).
Elder Holland explains what was wrong with Lot’s wife looking back:
…what was wrong with Lot’s wife was that she wasn’t just looking back; in her heart she wanted to go back.
It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We certainly know that Laman and Lemuel were resentful when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.
One of the best things I feel I’ve written as part of my recovery this time is my letter to the addict. As a reminder of what the purpose of the letter is, I went back and re-read it just now. This is the purpose:
…to state your intentions to free yourself of an abusive relationship that has been going on for many years. This letter should address the lies that the addict has told you in the past, the broken promises, etc. It is a statement of your intentions to no longer be a victim of your addict. It is the beginning statement of resolve to live a healthier and more productive life.
So what did I say? What do I want to leave in the past and never go back to? Do I still long for the past or am I willing to leave it behind and look forward with faith?
I decided to share it again here because I feel it’s a good reminder of where I was and where I want to be today:
Dear Carnal Nate,
I’m sorry we’re no longer friends. Honestly, I’m not sorry at all. You’ve been in and out of my life since I was in about 6th grade. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, nor do I know why or how we were even introduced. However, our relationship has brought nothing but regret, remorse, and has practically ruined my family.
My intent with writing this letter today is to wish you an indefinite farewell.
I don’t want to hang out any more. I don’t want to associate with you. I don’t want to even entertain the idea of having you come visit from time to time.
I think, in the past, I’ve convinced myself that “just a little visit” would be ok. But I’ve learned through study and prayer that that’s not the case at all. You’re “just a little bit” is Satan’s way of getting in and stirring things up. Your “just a little bit” has proven year after year to be a hole in my spiritual armor: once you’re in, there’s no telling where you’ll lead me.
Our relationship has only hurt me. I’ve wasted time, I’ve lost the trust of my wife and children, I’ve disappointed my parents, and most importantly, I’ve broken covenants I made with Becky and God. Repairing these mistakes has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and frankly, our “friendship” just isn’t worth it.
I might as well tell you what I’m going to do, or continue doing, to sever our ties. I’m burying my weapons of war – here’s how:
- I’ve blocked the following sites and only use them on rare occasions with permission from my Spiritual Nate and Becky:
- Instagram (never)
- I’ve installed Covenant Eyes willingly and like the protection it gives me and the trust it helps build with Becky
- I’ve eliminated critical thinking about Becky completely – I’m just happy that she’s still with me and has given me one last chance after all the HELL I’ve put her through
- I flee from thoughts about what’s in it for me or when am I going to get what’s due to me: these are selfish thoughts and do me no good – EVER
- I’m committed to not staying up late; instead, Becky and I have a good routine where we read together, talk about the AEIOUY’s and connect emotionally
- Cell phone usage: I’ve eliminated all games on my phone and am working hard to limit my phone usage, especially at night.
Unfortunately, I feel you’ve been lying to me since I was young. You’ve told me things like, “It’s not that bad, sin a little,” or “you’re completely justified and no one will know”. You’ve lied to me so well that I’ve believed it and fell into the darkest traps. I’m sick of these lies and how they ultimately make me feel about myself and about others.
I have chosen today, and forever, to not associate with you any more. I am submitting my will to God through personal prayer, through scripture study, and through writing in my journal. I’m aware of my Super Ego, which at times has unrealistic expectations of myself that causes me to fail, feel shame and then swing to the other side to hang out with you (the ID in my life). My goal is to balance the two sides – expect to do well but not push myself so hard that I give up, quit, and turn to pain prevention and pleasure seeking as a way out. These are YOUR strategies and not the way I want to live my life anymore.
Today is the day I’m living a more healthy and productive life. I’ve felt it already in my relationship with Becky, in my relationship with my kids, and in my relationship with God. I can actually feel again. I recognize the difference between the bitter and the sweet, and the bitter is no longer even something I want to dabble with.
By more healthy I mean that I am exercising, I’m reading, I’m writing, and I’m feeding myself spiritually everyday because I WANT to, not because I have to. By more healthy I mean that my relationship with God, with Becky, and with my kids is the most important long-term relationship I want to strengthen. By more healthy I mean that I’m letting go of things that will only pull me down and invite you back into my life, even if it’s “just a little bit”.
So, Carnal Nate, this is good bye. This is the end. I’m grateful I now recognize who you are and the capabilities you have to bring we down to levels I never thought possible. I’m grateful that, through the Atonement, I’ve been able to free myself from your chains. But most importantly, I’m grateful we won’t be associating today or ever again.
May you die and endless death!
The Nate I’ve Always Wanted to Be
I’m grateful today to be willing to live in recovery.
I’m grateful today that I’ve been able to put my step work, my spiritual study, and my faith in God’s hands.
I’m grateful that today I’m going to make the most of my time and work hard to support my family.
Today is going to be a great day.