It was during this struggle that I got a message from my mission president asking if I was offended by his comments because I had not responded to his letter. The truth is that I wanted to respond but, life had gotten so crazy that I hadn’t. So, I took a while and laid it out on the table for him. It was such a random stream of consciousness. I am surprised that he first of all read it and second of all that he didn’t commit me to a looney bin. 🙂
Here are those letters:
Dear President Stone,
I am sorry that I have not yet responded to your email. I am not offended in the least. In fact, I find your letter an answer to so many of my prayers. I have been slowly formulating my response to you and it seems that every time I sit down with that intention, a moment of
catastrophe happens. So please, forgive my rude behavior in not responding sooner.
I am so touched by your words and candidness with me. I appreciate so much how honest and your response was. I have been praying about this decision and have had a hard time making those final steps. Your letter came while I was at the temple praying as to what I should do. Although I know that I need to make my own decisions in this, I will say that coming home to that letter helped me think a little more clearly.
I took your advice and immediately emailed Courtney. I was able to call her the next day and we talked for an hour. She was my trainer on my mission and we were very good friends. She was very candid with her experiences and told me of her life. My heart aches for her because I know of the great woman that she is. It helps.
During this time I have also found a few journals that I kept from our courtship and marriage. I see the same pattern of manipulation happening back when we very first got engaged. Although I didn’t remember these incidents, the journal brought them all back to me. I recorded my feelings then and it is funny to me to see that things have never really changed.
Taking all of these things into consideration, I have prayed diligently and have been begging the Lord for guidance and inspiration. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders knowing how dramatically this will impact my family, my children and my future. It is not an easy step to take. When I have prayed about it I have truly felt that I am making the right steps in making the move towards divorce. Although I have not yet filed, I have visited with an attorney to find out what the process is, the cost, and the ramifications on my children. Harvey is unaware that I have done this.
I have however, been open and honest with him and told him that I was moving in that direction and he flipped out. I don’t know that I should have expected something different. It is a pattern of his where he hears something that he doesn’t want to hear, get very angry and manipulative, won’t talk to mefor several days and then pretend that there aren’t any problems and that life is back to normal.
I still care about Harvey. I love my children and I don’t want them to suffer because of these decisions. I also can’t help but go back and think of all of the ways that I might have prevented this. However, I do know that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. With looking backat the what our relationship has been, I can see so clearly how things have functioned and I don’t want those to repeat in the future. I don’t think that it is in any way healthy. I think of my children and I don’t want them growing up thinking that this is normal.
Harvey has been going to court mandated anger management therapy for the past 16 weeks. He now wants to start marriage counseling. Part of me is resentful because for years I asked him to go and he refused. I am still not sure what the right choice is when it comes to that one. He promises change but, he doesn’t recognize what needs to be changed besides his involvement in pornography. I know that he has the attitude that he wants to change but, I have heard it before, believed it before and accepted his terms before. It has led to where we are now. I want to believe that he can change but, when do you just call the cards at their face value. I will admit my fault in that I have yielded to this manipulation for our entire relationship and it has been a shock to both of our systems that I am finally standing up for myself.
He is visiting with the bishop on a weekly basis. However, the bishop has only met with me three times since our separation in August. I am trying to trust my bishop’s judgment and to be humble and obedient to what he is asking me to do. However, I am not sure that the bishop is able to fully see where I am coming from. When I have brought up concerns about Harvey’s lying, he mentioned to me that everyone stretches the truth a little bit. When I mentioned the passive aggressive, manipulative behavior, he has told me that I need to remember that that is how Harvey was raised and that he does come from a Latin background. He has asked me what my faults are and how I have contributed to this. I have told him that I am praying very hard to ensure that I am not making this decision for prideful reasons and that I am making it based on what is eternally the right choice. He did say that he has suspected the pride to be my issue. He has asked me to go to counseling before I file any papers. He is not supportive of my decision. It really gnaws at me that my decisions are not in sync with the church and that makes me question my decision. I don’t want to be prideful. I don’t want to deny someone the chance
of repenting and changing. On the other hand, I am trying to separate my feelings of pride from those that are becoming more resistant to the manipulation.
I don’t want to keep asking the Lord for an answer to a question that He has already answered but, I feel so bombarded by other issues that I often question to make sure that I am making the right decision. I am really struggling with that right now.
I want Harvey to get over what his problems are and I want him to be happy. I feel like I have been pushed to a point where I just can’t go back to the way that things used to be. It is hard for other people to see it because they see what is on the outside and not what is going on behind the scenes. Harvey is a likable person and many people do not understand why we are in the situation that we are in. Having said that, I want to be married to my equal where I am treated as an equal, not like a child. I also don’t want to have to drag my spouse through life and hoping that someday things will improve. When I get down to the bare bones of things, I just keep coming down to the same thought that I simply can not go back to the way that things used to be. I feel very strongly that things have happened for a reason and I need to see the Lord’s hand in it.
I know that you are not my priesthood leader but, I am glad that you are there to just read this and let me vent a tiny bit. I know that this is a very disjointed letter but I appreciate your being receptive of it. I am glad that I am able to just express my feelings to someone who is not in the thick of things. I can not express to you how much I love and appreciate you and Sister Stone. Thank you for being absolutely amazing examples to me.
Thank you for your letter. I am sending this with your letter below it, so you should have a copy. I am so sorry to see you going through such an trying and heartwrenching time.
People get into patterns of behavior, sometimes early in life, and it is very difficult to change those patterns. Psychologists have said that sometimes, in order for someone to truly change lifelong patterns of behavior, they have to have a climactic emotional upheaval. This, I believe, is one of the reasons that the Lord instituted the ordinance of baptism by immersion; something that would be emotionally impactful, and assist the person in leaving his previous life behind.
For a young man I have counseled, this happened when his wife said to him: “Choose; pornography or me. You cannot have both, and if you persist, I will divorce you.” That was the emotional turning point for him. I am happy to say that he has been able to resist the temptation, and is once again in full fellowship of the Church and in a happy relationship with his wife. Perhaps you and Harvey are past that point, because he has probably promised you that he would cease and desist, and then gone back to it.
But it is possible that the reality that you will divorce him if he does not change, might bring him to that point. I do not know. But from what you say, I do not think he is ready to change. I could be wrong, but it appears to me that the idea of going to counseling on his part is more manipulation.
I think your bishop is struggling to try to keep your marriage together, and I can understand why he would wish to do so. Whenever two people divorce, to an extent, there is no innocent party; both are responsible. But that does not mean that the fault cannot lie overwhelmingly on one side; and pornography and a pattern of lying are far more serious sins than any sin of pride that I have been able to detect.
Sometimes, Darci, we have to walk a lonely road; and in the end, rely on the Spirit to guide us. I think you are doing the right thing by going to the temple and praying about it. The Lord will guide you.
May He bless you through this difficult time.