I'm struggling...


bl8tant
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This is a complicated topic, so expect a long post. I am really struggling, though, and after all the help I've seen other people receive I'm posting here to get advice and feedback.

Summary: I've grown disinterested in the church and everything to do with it. I am profoundly unhappy. My efforts to regain my spiritual strength have borne no fruit thus far.

Maybe a timeline will help:

1982-1989: carried on an off-and-on, long-distance relationship with a woman I'll call C. We met in 8th grade, saw each other semi-regularly, broke up a few times.. typical teenage stuff.

1989-1991: dated, then married, a woman I'll call A.

1997: joined the church.

1998: sealed to A and our two (at the time) kids.

1998-2010: faithful service as husband, father, priesthood holder. Baptized all three of our sons; ordained the older two. Semi-regular temple attendance with A. Completely faithful, both emotionally and physically. No porn, gambling, neglect, etc.

Christmas 2009: A's old boyfriend, S, contacted her via e-mail. She told me about it, and I wasn't unduly concerned. S turns out to be a militant atheist, the kind that is continually proselyting others to abandon their faith.

Apr 2010: returned from a business trip to have A tell me that she wasn't in love with me, wasn't attracted to me, didn't want to be married to me, and had felt this way for nearly 10 years. We went to a counselor (at my insistence) but A was not interested in trying to fix the relationship, so that effort went nowhere.

May 2010: A files for divorce (which in our home state is no-fault, meaning I had no recourse). The divorce requires a 181-day waiting period, so it would be final in Nov 2010.

Jun 2010: in a burst of frustration, loneliness, and stupidity, contacted C via e-mail. She was in an unhappy and abusive marriage, so she was glad to have someone to talk to.

Jun 2010: On a trip to visit friends, A visits S, with our kids. She is at first evasive about it but then admits it, saying they are "just friends" and that S counseled her to do everything possible to save her marriage.

Jun-Nov 2010: C and I speak a couple of times daily and texted each other frequently. Our discussions covered a huge range of topics-- she eagerly asks questions about the church and its teachings, gets her own copies of the "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church" manuals and quizzes me about them, etc. We talk about our married lives, our goals for the future, our jobs, our kids, current events, what was on NPR that day, favorite travel spots-- you name it. Nothing lusty or inappropriate.

Jul 2010: C, who had already been investigating the church, is baptized. Later in the month, her 9- and 10-year-old kids choose to be baptized as well.

Aug 2010: C and I saw each other for the first time since 1989. We met for dinner and spent the night-- completely chastely-- together. No kissing, touching, or anything like unto it.

Oct 2010: C filed for divorce, something she says (and I believe) she would have done anyway. We begin making plans to see each other again after her divorce is finalized in December.

Nov 2010: A finds out that I've been communicating with C, and that we had plans for her to visit me after her divorce is finalized. She loses her cool, becomes verbally abusive, hits me several times (very uncharacteristic), threatens to try to take sole custody of our kids away if I continue my relationship with C. A said a lot of things during her ranting that stick with me: that I had failed to live up to the standards of a priesthood holder, that I was unworthy to take our sons to the temple (I'd been on two youth temple trips with the older boys over the summer), that there would be no way to ever explain to my kids or C's how we had met, etc. I think the thing that upset A the most was that I had shared details of our divorce process with C, but it's hard to say, as she was terribly upset overall.

I wrote C that night and told her that we could have no further contact. I ignored her texts and phone calls over the next week or so until they stopped. I told myself that cold turkey was better and that, in time, she would forgive me.

That's where things stand. Since then, I have little to no interest in church. During the nearly 18 months I've lived in my current ward I have never felt connected to it, but that feeling has worsened since the divorce, as many of the members seem at a loss in understanding how to relate to ZOMG HE'S DIVORCED QUICK GET AWAY IT MIGHT BE CONTAGIOUS!!!1! However, since cutting off contact with C it's been worse. I don't feel like communing with the Lord. I stopped wearing my garments, have skipped church several times (something I never did, even once, during my previous membership), and, in general, have no interest in continued membership (though I am still a full tithe payer, yay me.)

I feel like my testimony has blown away like a puff of smoke, and I don't know what to do to get it back, or even if I want to.

On the advice of my best friend (a member of his stake's presidency) I renewed my efforts to study the scriptures and pray, but that has availed me nothing. I still feel disconnected from the Lord; I still feel unfairly punished despite all my previous efforts to be a righteous husband and father, and I still mourn for the relationship I was hoping to have with C. I miss her every day.

I recognize the symptoms of depression in my daily behavior: lack of interest in normally-enjoyable activities, lack of motivation, frequent periods of profound sadness. I know these things will pass, because they're already episodic. Some days are fine; others, I feel like I've been wrapped in leaden chains. I can still function on those days, but it's a great effort.

I'm not really sure why I'm posting this. I am confident, however, that all my friends here will be able to make helpful, and actionable, suggestions to help me figure out how to solve this problem.

A few notes for those who made it all the way to the end:

- we just had a change in bishopric. I haven't spoken to my new bishop about any of this situation. His day job is as a marriage counselor, so I feel odd about going to him with all this unless I'm paying his normal hourly rate.

- I've had one appointment with my previous counselor, right after I broke off contact with C. I didn't find the discussion with her terribly helpful.

- my kids have no idea, I think, that any of this is going on. A & I are still outwardly cordial and are able to work together effectively as co-parents.

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Sad to say, but divorce is one of the worse things for a person's testimony. I remember after one year of marriage, my first wife decided she was bored and wanted a divorce. I fought it for several months, but finally gave in.

I was in a new ward (just joined the Air Force when she left me), where the bishop was afraid of dealing with anyone having difficult struggles, like me. He did not know what to do with me, nor how to handle me. In a temple recommend interview, just over a year after my divorce finalized, a counselor in the stake presidency chewed me out for not being married (I was 25 at the time). I did not feel like I was a part of that ward or stake. It was hard to sustain my own testimony during that time. Many times I wanted to quit, give up.

But I'm glad I didn't. Instead, I thought back on the spiritual experiences I'd had previously, and held onto those moments. I also thought of how much I wanted to return to God's presence and have a fullness of joy.

Over a period of a few years, I regained my spiritual strength, my faith in myself, etc. Focus on the things that are central to your happiness. Do not engage in relationships until AFTER your divorce is finalized. Perhaps send C a note telling her that you'll contact her after both divorces are over, but not before. In the meantime, focus on your sons and your own spirituality. You cannot control what others do or think, but you can control what you do and think. Pray daily and intensely. Study deeply the scriptures and drink in the living waters daily. Meditate on the blessings God has given you. Practice counting your blessings daily. Keep the commandments, and repent as needed.

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Oh, so sorry bl8tant that you are going through all this!

I have to say, it seems like a natural reaction (I've done this plenty of times before) that when you need God the most, you run away from Him. It is at the lowest moments of our lives when we really need to cling to Him. Immerse yourself in love and service to God and your fellowman to put positive things back into your life.

About C... I see this as a "rebound" situation. You are down and out for the count so you naturally found comfort from someone else. You are C's rebound guy too... she was down and out for the count and you were handy. I believe that your "pining" for C is the pining of a guy who is becoming emotionally dependent on someone else. This is not healthy. A stable relationship cannot start off like this. Heal yourself first. Give yourself time to grieve your marriage. Analyze it for lessons learned and things you could avoid. Give your kids 100% - they need you.

When you are emotionally stable, then reach out for C if you still feel the same way. Then maybe, if she is emotionally healed herself, you can start a relationship together. A marriage must be built on a solid foundation - not because you cannot emotionally support yourself and you need her as a crutch.

Love God, love yourself. The challenges you are going through is not because God is not there. But then, I'm sure you know that.

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bl8ant, I am so very sorry you are dealing with this. You are one of my favorite people here and it hurts to see you hurting.

You recognize that you are depressed. Just because you have some good days does not mean that you are not depressed. You are grieving a loss. It is a natural and expected time to be depressed.

Some things to do to help with the depression are to eat healthy, get exercise, think positively. I recommend the book (I can't remember the name of it, I'll find it when I get home) to help with the chaninging of thinking patterns.

Please consider going to therapy for the depression and/or taking something for it. St. John's Wort is an OTC pill you can take that may help. If not, get help if necessary. Certainly try doing things to help the depression, but do not rule out therapy. Even short term therapy can help tremendously.

As far as your spiritual side, ram gave a lot of good advice. I had a friend who went through clinical depression for many years. She said that during that time she absolutely could not feel the Spirit. At all. She relied on her memory of her testimony and feelings of the Spirit during that time. I encourage you to do the same. Continue praying and reading scriptures--even if you don't feel anything while doing so. Because I can promise you that you WILL feel something at some point.

Again, please seek help. Talk to a friend, a relative, counselor, someone. We do care about you and we are here to help as much as we can.

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After my fiance's divorce, he was less active. Never lost his testimony, but he said he did feel bitter with God. Getting married in the temple and then divorcing cannot be a pleasant experience.

My suggestion... maybe not focus quite so much on being interested in the church right now. You are going through a tough time. Take this time to focus on God instead and work on your personal spirituality, but don't be afraid to use the social support of the church.

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Yep bl8tant..you have been one of my favorite people on here too. I wish you the best in whatever decision you make. If you need anything or just want to talk..shoot me a message.

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Bl8tant, I know a bit of what you are going through. It was about a year and a half ago that I was going through the difficulties and situational depression that you are in. It hurts, I know. It is hard, I know. It wasn't my idea to divorce, and I felt that the relationship could work. Just hold on, it does get better.

I look back now, and realize that despite the pain and difficulties, it was probably the greatest blessing of my life, aside from my testimony of the Gospel. It is true, that sometimes when one door closes, it is because the Lord is seeking our best interest, and is attempting to bless us. It can be a blessing if we only let it be so.

I wish I had power to covey what I'm thinking/feeling in relation to your situation. But I feel wholly inadequate to do so. What keeps coming to mind is a talk by Elder Holland. I feel the whole talk is applicable, and have to resist the urge to copy the whole text here. I would strongly urge you to read or listen to the entire talk - several times. Below are a few excerpts.

"But tonight’s message is that when you have to, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in any situation you are in. Indeed, let me say that even a little stronger: You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced.

"Now let’s talk about those propositions for a moment. Every one of us, in one way or another, great or small, dramatic or incidental, is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail—spiritually speaking. We will face things we do not want to face for reasons that may not have been our fault. Indeed, we may face difficult circumstances for reasons that were absolutely right and proper, reasons that came because we were trying to keep the commandments of the Lord. We may face persecution; we may endure heartache and separation from loved ones; we may be hungry and cold and forlorn. Yes, before our lives are over we may all be given a little taste of what the prophets faced often in their lives. But the lessons of the winter of 1838–39 teach us that every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through that difficulty. These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples—or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace. . . .

"everyone, including (and perhaps especially) the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times. When that happens we can sometimes fear God has abandoned us, and we might be left, at least for a time, to wonder when our troubles will ever end. As individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, probably everyone has had or will have an occasion to feel as Joseph Smith felt when he asked why such sorrow had to come and how long its darkness and damage would remain. . . .

"whenever these moments of our extremity come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry “Where art Thou?” it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us—where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for a time our prayers are not heard and that God has somehow gone away. He is there. Our prayers are heard. And when we weep He and the angels of heaven weep with us.

"When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist. That was the Savior’s message in the parable of the importuning widow (see Luke 18:1–8; see also Luke 11:5–10). Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. He is your Father, and you are His child.

"When what has to be has been and when what lessons to be learned have been learned, it will be for us as it was for the Prophet Joseph. Just at the time he felt most alone and distant from heaven’s ear was the very time he received the wonderful ministration of the Spirit and wonderful, glorious answers that came from his Father in Heaven. . . .

"When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple." [bold emphasis mine]

Lessons from Liberty Jail - HTML

Lessons from Liberty Jail - mp3

Jeffrey R. Holland

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I know how you feel when it comes to losing interest. I've been trying so hard to go to my singles ward the past few weeks but I end up leaving before sacrament is even over. I hear all these members testify of feeling the spirit but I feel absolutely nothing as I sit there. I have zero interest in attending any activities and feel as if I've arleady become an outcast and am no longer welcome in that ward.

Depression is the absolute underlying cause of all of this I'm sure. I cant take my own advice; But just try and stick with it. Don't give up easily.

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Bl8tant,

He is the strongest when we are the weekest. Pray. Go to Him as a hurting child would go to thier loving Father. I know this sounds so simple, and I would imagine someones already mentioned this but for me it works. It worked when my wife left me for another man in 1994 and it has worked many times since then. I went through a time where I withdrew from everything and everybody and finally my oldest brother came over after I called him and he prayed with me. That night I got down on my knees and asked for help. He provided enough strength to pick myself up going one day at the time I starting my life over. This time I've worked very hard to keep Heavenly Father in the center of my everyday life. I pray and pray and pray and He grants, provides, sends His Comforter to help me. Heavenly father loves you more than you'll ever know, no matter what. His promise is to never ever leave you. That is a promise that no other person can truly do even though they may say it with words. For some they are able to hold to thier promise but for so many others they just can't. Try to put your focus on the one you can truly trust. Once you are able to get back in close relationship with Him all of the other things like church attendence will work out better. Just don't give up. These things take time patience and faith. You also have us Bl8tant. We're not perfect but many here love you and are here for you. Just take and focus on one day at the time and remember......"and this too will pass."

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Well first of all it is not your fault. Your wife inability to love you is not your fault but her's. "Unconditional Love" is a giving Love. And as a person thinketh so is he® in their heart. She could love you if she put her mind to it. True Love is first an act of will until the heart is converted ...then one has true love for the Spouse. And your wife is saying that she doesn't love you is her problem not yours. She is still looking for Conditional Love which GOD has called darkness. Every spouse is deserving of "Unconditional Love" simply because that person is our spouse no matter what they do. Now for you the Spiritual consequences will not be as severe as for her. And men are allowed to have more than one wife if God permit's it. Earthly Divorce even by government decree is not an automatic Spiritual divorce in heaven. It is Ironic that today many Christian men condemning LDS Polygamy...are living in a polygamous relationship and do not know it. How's is that possible? They may have received a divorce by law..and have re-married since. But they did not understand that we are divorced only when GOD says so. First of all, A Spiritual divorce in heaven is not based on what government decree's here on the earth. A legal divorce is not a spiritual divorce. God said let no man put asunder what God has joined. This includes decrees of government. These woman divorce their spouse because they have let "Unconditional Love" die in their heart are the foolish and do act like Israel who have put Idol before their Lord. It is of these women of whom is written if they re-marry they commit adultery. GOD is not a marriage broker. The Term UNTIL DEATH DO US PART....is a very real application of marriages but today seems to be lost to this generation whom no doubt GOD calls..wicked and adulterous. That still does not solve your problem. If you do not receive the Good News...which gladdens the heart. Grief and Sadness over time can bring on some really negative health problems such and as depression. Jesus is not just God...He is also our Helper (David) Counsellor (ISaiah) Comforter NT. Any Marriage where the two spouses live unconditional Love towards each other cannot fail...and Satan will try very hard to break up such marriages..but they cannot fail. This type of Love in a marriage is the greatest threat to Satan's kingdom. Understanding why marriages fail is the first step to healing even if we are divorced. Because "Unconditional Love" is also a very powerful way to live...since it is a giving love and the more we give the more the stream of living waters within us grows to accommodate our giving. It does not matter if at first a man has only a trickle..with practice over time...that little trickle can grow into a mighty river and such is pleasing unto GOD. Why? Because such person's fulfill the gospel of Love in every way. That kinda of love passeth knowledge, teaches patience, forgiveness and mercy. bert10

This is a complicated topic, so expect a long post. I am really struggling, though, and after all the help I've seen other people receive I'm posting here to get advice and feedback.

Summary: I've grown disinterested in the church and everything to do with it. I am profoundly unhappy. My efforts to regain my spiritual strength have borne no fruit thus far.

Maybe a timeline will help:

1982-1989: carried on an off-and-on, long-distance relationship with a woman I'll call C. We met in 8th grade, saw each other semi-regularly, broke up a few times.. typical teenage stuff.

1989-1991: dated, then married, a woman I'll call A.

1997: joined the church.

1998: sealed to A and our two (at the time) kids.

1998-2010: faithful service as husband, father, priesthood holder. Baptized all three of our sons; ordained the older two. Semi-regular temple attendance with A. Completely faithful, both emotionally and physically. No porn, gambling, neglect, etc.

Christmas 2009: A's old boyfriend, S, contacted her via e-mail. She told me about it, and I wasn't unduly concerned. S turns out to be a militant atheist, the kind that is continually proselyting others to abandon their faith.

Apr 2010: returned from a business trip to have A tell me that she wasn't in love with me, wasn't attracted to me, didn't want to be married to me, and had felt this way for nearly 10 years. We went to a counselor (at my insistence) but A was not interested in trying to fix the relationship, so that effort went nowhere.

May 2010: A files for divorce (which in our home state is no-fault, meaning I had no recourse). The divorce requires a 181-day waiting period, so it would be final in Nov 2010.

Jun 2010: in a burst of frustration, loneliness, and stupidity, contacted C via e-mail. She was in an unhappy and abusive marriage, so she was glad to have someone to talk to.

Jun 2010: On a trip to visit friends, A visits S, with our kids. She is at first evasive about it but then admits it, saying they are "just friends" and that S counseled her to do everything possible to save her marriage.

Jun-Nov 2010: C and I speak a couple of times daily and texted each other frequently. Our discussions covered a huge range of topics-- she eagerly asks questions about the church and its teachings, gets her own copies of the "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church" manuals and quizzes me about them, etc. We talk about our married lives, our goals for the future, our jobs, our kids, current events, what was on NPR that day, favorite travel spots-- you name it. Nothing lusty or inappropriate.

Jul 2010: C, who had already been investigating the church, is baptized. Later in the month, her 9- and 10-year-old kids choose to be baptized as well.

Aug 2010: C and I saw each other for the first time since 1989. We met for dinner and spent the night-- completely chastely-- together. No kissing, touching, or anything like unto it.

Oct 2010: C filed for divorce, something she says (and I believe) she would have done anyway. We begin making plans to see each other again after her divorce is finalized in December.

Nov 2010: A finds out that I've been communicating with C, and that we had plans for her to visit me after her divorce is finalized. She loses her cool, becomes verbally abusive, hits me several times (very uncharacteristic), threatens to try to take sole custody of our kids away if I continue my relationship with C. A said a lot of things during her ranting that stick with me: that I had failed to live up to the standards of a priesthood holder, that I was unworthy to take our sons to the temple (I'd been on two youth temple trips with the older boys over the summer), that there would be no way to ever explain to my kids or C's how we had met, etc. I think the thing that upset A the most was that I had shared details of our divorce process with C, but it's hard to say, as she was terribly upset overall.

I wrote C that night and told her that we could have no further contact. I ignored her texts and phone calls over the next week or so until they stopped. I told myself that cold turkey was better and that, in time, she would forgive me.

That's where things stand. Since then, I have little to no interest in church. During the nearly 18 months I've lived in my current ward I have never felt connected to it, but that feeling has worsened since the divorce, as many of the members seem at a loss in understanding how to relate to ZOMG HE'S DIVORCED QUICK GET AWAY IT MIGHT BE CONTAGIOUS!!!1! However, since cutting off contact with C it's been worse. I don't feel like communing with the Lord. I stopped wearing my garments, have skipped church several times (something I never did, even once, during my previous membership), and, in general, have no interest in continued membership (though I am still a full tithe payer, yay me.)

I feel like my testimony has blown away like a puff of smoke, and I don't know what to do to get it back, or even if I want to.

On the advice of my best friend (a member of his stake's presidency) I renewed my efforts to study the scriptures and pray, but that has availed me nothing. I still feel disconnected from the Lord; I still feel unfairly punished despite all my previous efforts to be a righteous husband and father, and I still mourn for the relationship I was hoping to have with C. I miss her every day.

I recognize the symptoms of depression in my daily behavior: lack of interest in normally-enjoyable activities, lack of motivation, frequent periods of profound sadness. I know these things will pass, because they're already episodic. Some days are fine; others, I feel like I've been wrapped in leaden chains. I can still function on those days, but it's a great effort.

I'm not really sure why I'm posting this. I am confident, however, that all my friends here will be able to make helpful, and actionable, suggestions to help me figure out how to solve this problem.

A few notes for those who made it all the way to the end:

- we just had a change in bishopric. I haven't spoken to my new bishop about any of this situation. His day job is as a marriage counselor, so I feel odd about going to him with all this unless I'm paying his normal hourly rate.

- I've had one appointment with my previous counselor, right after I broke off contact with C. I didn't find the discussion with her terribly helpful.

- my kids have no idea, I think, that any of this is going on. A & I are still outwardly cordial and are able to work together effectively as co-parents.

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