Developing Our Internal Power

After a really rough morning getting the littles to school – I trudged toward home in the snow and truly believed that it was only me and no other mother in the neighborhood that struggled so much to make life happen and it wasn’t even 8:15am yet!  (I hate it when I start to believe those lies that simply aren’t true!)

I sat down and put pen to paper and naturally started to figure out how to “fix” my woes.  I’m a one on the Enneagram (love this book if you want to look more into it!) so looking at things and trying to improve upon them – well, that’s my specialty!

I started with my little that was giving me so much trouble – crying and whining all morning long.  Then I moved onto Jason.  Then someone or something else.  Before I knew it – I realized that my “problems” had so much less to do with them and so much more to do with me.

I couldn’t fix anyone but me.  I held the power, not them.

(I hate it when I realize this!)

So often we give others power in our lives that only belong to us.  Sure – other people’s actions affect us.  We experience a lot of emotions – all across the board – based on our interactions with others.  This is a given.

But when we start to operate from a mentality that everyone around us needs to change in order for us to be okay – that’s when the slope can get slippery.

* To Be Clear *

Because most of you reading this have a similar story to mine – one of betrayal, lies, deception and manipulation from the one that was intended to protect you the most – I need to insert a caveat.  I am NOT saying that you should just ignore or move on or only work on yourself in the midst of your husband’s betrayal.  Not even close.

The absolute best way to work through betrayal is when he goes first and leads the way on doing the *hard* work of repairing the marriage.  You are working hard, too.  Grieving, finding your voice, grieving some more.  He is the one working on fixing the damage done.  His choices are not your fault and you don’t need to even begin to look into yourself for why he did what he did.  Absolutely ridiculous.  He can look into himself for those answers.  You are an innocent bystander to his choices.  (Don’t even get me started, I feel my heart pumping just typing this out.)  This is the way we have done things at Redemptive Living for the past 13 years and we stand behind the methods we use.

– Back to the Story –

What I am speaking to is more from a 30,000 foot view in the way we operate with others.  In our day to day interactions.

As I continued to journal – I realized that it was me and only me that could enforce what time my boys go to bed.  Clearly part of the morning melt down was lack of sleep and the boys going to bed too late the night before.  It was me that needed to change the bedtime routines and push them up by about 60 minutes.

I realized that I couldn’t change Jason’s demeanor and the heaviness he brought into our house this week (did I mention he is a four on the Enneagram?!).  Can I care about his heart and where he is at?  Absolutely, I can and I do.  But at what point do I need to separate myself from the heaviness and weight that he is carrying and not allow it to take me down?

These are the questions I have been pondering this week, my friends.

If you are into psychology – there is a word for this – it’s called internal locus of control (versus external locus of control). It’s something that I talk about ever so often in my groups and it’s a great way to conceptualize figuring out what we can own and have agency to change.

With that said – here are three practical tips to help cultivate and strengthen our internal power (or internal locus of control):

Get Grounded

First and foremost when I start to circle the drain in this way (think:  me freaking out in my head and thinking I am the only mom that ever struggles in the morning) – the first thing I have to do is get grounded and get some perspective.

This oftentimes mean wading through the situation and then stepping away from it to breathe a bit.  Getting outside and walking can help, expressing my feelings by getting them out of me (writing them out or processing out loud to a friend or to Jason) is also super helpful.

Vision Casting + Implementation

Don’t let this scare you.  We can set a vision for the small things just as much as the big things in life!

Once I am grounded mentally – it’s important to think through where I want to be.  For myself – I realized that I really needed to set myself up for success in the mornings.  While I can’t control if one of my boys spins out – I can control managing my time better.  I can either get up earlier to give myself more time for the hiccups or I can take a couple of tasks off my plate by making lunches the night before, having the boys set out their clothes, etc.

It’s important to note that tweaking just one or two things can often make a big difference.  I’d encourage you to start there (with just one or two tweaks) else you might risk becoming incredibly overwhelmed and aborting the entire mission – then you’ll be back where you started.  No bueno.

Detachment + Visualization

I talk a lot about detachment as it pertains to setting boundaries and also in regards to self-care in the healing process.  Think of detachment as an intentional buffer or space between you and someone or something else.  It doesn’t mean you don’t care but rather that you’re going to need (for your sake) to move forward with your day even in the midst of the crazy (with your husband, someone else, or even the crazy you might feel in your head).

Lately, I have used visualization to help myself detach.  Case in point – as I was starting to lose my internal power because of Jason’s heaviness – I imagined myself walking down a road.  There were beautiful old oak trees on either side of the road reaching their arms over the road like a canopy shielding and protecting me (I like my visualizations to be pretty, ladies) and there is also a yellow painted line on either edge of the road (not so pretty but important).  As I am walking down the road – taking the next step in my day and in my journey – there are all these distractions and things that keep crossing the yellow line.  I then mentally and visually push those things back to the other side of the line with my hands to make way for me to move forward with my day.  I then I take a bunch of deep breaths.

What About You?

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts as to how you help develop your internal power.  I would also love for you to join me at Restore which is in just two weeks in sunny California.  You can get more details here.

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

Fan the Flame – Part 4

Hello Lovely Ladies!  Here is the fourth and final installment of the Fan the Flame series.  In part one – we looked at some of the things that hinder our confidence and then in parts two and three – we looked at strategies to start to rebuild our confidence. 

As you read what Erika is sharing below – I want you to look for how she is using some of the strategies I mentioned in parts two and three.  Specifically – investing in herself.  You will see other things as well – subtle maybe – but there.

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As truths tumbled out of his mouth, I felt like the stitches were being ripped out, and the crocheted blanket that was my life began to unravel rapidly. Through the process of trying to put my life back together over the past 6 months, I am now starting to gain clarity on the lies I had bought in to.

Lie #1: I have to take care of myself because God may fail me
When I was 7 months pregnant, my husband asked me for a divorce. He said he never loved me. He denied having an affair and blamed me instead. I stayed and worked on myself. I found out much, much later that he lied.

If you had asked me at the time, I would say I relied on God.

I still think that is true to a degree.

But after my husband’s recent disclosure, I remembered a long-ago (18 years!) conversation I had with my sister. It went something like this… “I have done everything God has wanted me to do. I was an obedient child, neglected, and thrown away by our parents. I am a good wife and mom only to be rejected and blamed again. I need to have a backup plan.” (As in – I need to take care of myself because God isn’t getting it done and has disappointed me).

My backup plan was food. It was there to comfort me tangibly. Every time my husband would gaslight me (manipulate, blame, lie), act in (stare at me blankly, sleep versus connect, avoid being home), act out (although I did not know any of these terms at the time) I turned to food. Living in a world not understanding what was really going on ratcheted up my anxiety level. Food was like a warm cocoon, making me feel safe and secure. The problem is, its positive effects were short-term while doing long-term damage.

My physical health declined.

I have learned over the last couple of months that my vow—the backup plan—was harmful. That despite how it may look, God was ALWAYS there waiting to tend to my broken and wounded heart. I had to be willing to trust Him MORE than trusting the comfort of food. The short-term benefits of turning to food to numb my feelings pale to the long-term damaging health effects. Not to mention that food can never fill the hole that only God can.

Lie #2: If I were thinner, my husband would not have had affairs.
My husband repeatedly told me if I was thinner, he would be more attracted to me. He even went so far as to buy literature that supported the claim that men are designed by God to desire a thin wife.

I bought into it.

I spent many years using unhealthy techniques to lose weight to make him happy. I would lose significant amounts of weight for a while, only to gain it back, especially as my husband became increasingly absent in our marriage.

When I found out about his numerous affairs in May, I was sucked into the lie again, but thankfully not for long. This time, I realized that my weight is NOT a source of his addiction. No matter what I weigh, my husband would have still made the same choices.

I went back and looked at photos from the time that the first affair began, and I was shocked. In the photo was a young woman not who he had conjured, but a woman who was healthy and fit.

Seeing that picture and knowing how many times he (falsely) rejected me, sent me down a path of freedom. No matter how fit I have been (or not been), my spouse has never been satisfied. I was able to separate his unrealistic, unhealthy, unattainable lustful ideals from my intrinsic value as a person God lovingly designed. I no longer feel pressure to chase after my husband’s skewed vision and am able to stop berating myself. The figurative weight of trying to measure up was lifted.

Two months ago, I began a weight loss journey with the assistance of a weight loss coach. It is NOT for my husband. It is for ME– to be a healthier ME, and to honor and trust God completely. It has been challenging. I am learning to manage stress better, get more sleep, drink more water, only eat what my body needs, and telling my emotions to take a back seat (more on that in a minute).

This requires INTENTIONALITY.

There are times I fail, but as I make more successful decisions, it gets easier to make the better choice.

Telling my emotions to take a back seat does NOT mean stuffing them for good. It requires me not to eat at that moment and set aside time to work through the emotions. Using tools such as digging deep and identifying where the feelings are coming from, praying, journaling, listening to praise music, exercising, talking with a friend or accountability partner, and recognizing success.

When I crave carbs to cope, I choose to eat a radish instead. Radishes work for me because they are crunchy, and the process of chewing is satisfying. The peppery flavor wakes up my taste buds, unlike the mindless swallowing of ice cream that leaves me feeling drained.

For me, using food to cope results in weight gain and muscle aches. I have not entirely done away with carbs; I just do not let them reign my daily food intake. Most importantly, I have learned that no amount of cardio or kale or carbs is going to heal the pain. Only God can do that.

What about you? Have you ever felt that God has disappointed you? Have you struggled with Him not showing up the way you expected? Like me, have you believed the lie from your spouse, society, friend, or relative that if you were thinner, your partner would not have had an affair or struggle with addiction?

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A little about Erika – she enjoys listening to audio books, working on jigsaw puzzles, and mentoring people with cerebral palsy.

Fan the Flame – Part 3

Hello All – Hope you are enjoying what seems to be the laziest of days between Christmas and New Years!

Let’s jump right into our deep dive on the five things we can do to build (or rebuild) our confidence after betrayal.  The first two I mentioned in this post (part 2) and if you missed part 1 – you can read it here.

#3 – Developing your Skill Set / Finding your niche outside of your family

In the first blog post, I mentioned that one of the threats to our self-confidence is when we feel financially stuck.  This might be because we have sacrificed our careers for our families (such a noble thing to do by the way!) or this might be because we are in a career where what we make barely gets us by.  In the latter case, tacking recovery work on top of barely making ends meet can make us feel even more overwhelmed.

So what to do?

Re-prioritize and make the time to invest in yourself.

I can imagine some of you now – saying “Shelley, you don’t understand.  It’s going to be impossible.”

Listen girls, I get it.  I have those same thoughts running through my head for myself!  I have wanted to take some courses for a couple of years now to help me be able to help women better – but I come up with a bazillion legitimate reasons as to why it can’t be done.

I’m finally at a place where I am ready to make the sacrifices to move forward with the courses.  Why you might ask?  Because I believe that the confidence that will come with empowering myself in this way will be worth it a year from now. Painful in the present but worth it in a year.

There is something powerful – no matter if you need the money or not – when we use our gifts and skills and get compensated for it.  I truly believe this is a huge way to restore dignity and confidence.

What is a service that you can provide that you can also get compensated for?  Is there a particular skill set that you feel like you need to develop by taking some classes?  I have seen advertisements for this on Instagram and while I don’t know much about it – I do find it inspiring to see all the different resources we have at our fingertips to learn and grow!

#4 – Changing your Mindset from “Victim” to “Empowerment”

I’m going to get a little personal here – and I really hope you can hear my heart because this could get dicey.

A couple of months ago, I was driving in my car and reflecting on how frustrated I had become with feeling like everyone else (which is so not true) has trust funds or an inheritance, or their kids’ college paid for by their wealthy extended family.  I recognized on that drive that I had been complaining about it a lot to anyone that would listen to me.  It got to the point where I was tired of hearing myself talk about it.

Tired of hearing myself talk about it?!  That’s a problem.

As I continued to drive down University Blvd, I realized that I was owning and operating from a victim mentality.  Poor me, it’s not fair, why isn’t this my story, why have we had to work for everything, where is our family legacy.

Typing this out makes me want to find the nearest coffee table and hide under it right away!  But I’m not going to do that.  I’m choosing to be fully known and sit in it.

Something shifted in me and I came to realize that I had a choice to make – I could keep complaining and wishing that the generations before me had done it differently.  OR – I could stand up, straighten my self up, and get to work.

I’m doing the latter – being proactive to do what needs to be done to plan for our future.  Getting real about what it’s going to take.  Taking my head out of the sand.  It feels empowering to take ownership.

And I want to caution you – just because we take ownership and tweak things to do it differently doesn’t mean we can’t feel the feels.  It’s important to recognize that we might feel disappointed or overwhelmed or defeated.

Acknowledge it.  Validate it.  And then ask yourself what your choices are and what you can do to turn the tide.

Is there an area where you feel like you have a victim mentality?  If so, what might it look like to shift from a posture of powerlessness to one of power?

Girls – we have agency to look at our situations, get honest about where we are, and then figure out the small steps we can take to do things differently.  I believe that as we do this – we are able to move toward confidence.

#5 – Connection

Y’all know I couldn’t land this plane without looping back to connection.  Because this is the wellspring of life. (And also why we are supposed to guard our hearts.)

Connecting with God, connecting with ourselves and connecting with others is at the heart of our journeys.  We could spin our wheels doing all these other things but if we aren’t working on community and connection – we’ve completely missed the point.

There is something so tangible and so magical about being fully known with others and then with ourselves – that can help bolster our confidence in ways that we never even imagined.

Oftentimes – I would go into my support group feeling defeated and dejected.  Insecure and without hope.  And 90 minutes later – almost like magic – I would leave feeling connected, empowered and confident.  And it was because I showed up in a safe place where I could be fully known.

Adding a little more to this fully known – I was also accepted in my cRaZy.

If you are looking for one of these places – just know there will be several new groups starting in February and March 2020 and I’d love for you to consider one of them.  Email me if you want me to add you to the wait list.

What about you?  What has helped you start to grow your confidence?  I’d love to hear!

xo – Shelley

ps. You won’t want to miss the last installment of this series where a former group member and now dear friend shares a little bit of her journey and how she has done some of the things mentioned here on her journey toward finding wholeness, confidence and dignity. 

Photo credits here and here

 

Fan the Flame – Part 2

In the last blog post, we talked about three things that can be a detriment to our self-confidence.

I’m interested in this topic right now because ladies – it’s something that I struggle with.  As I said before – while I do think the light within us might dim – I am confident (get it?!) that it will never go out.  We truly must fan the flame.

And fanning the flame is one of the things I am focusing on these days.

There are a total of 5 things I have identified which can help with this rebuilding of confidence.  Too much for one blog post so I am sharing the first two here today and the final three here shortly.

#1 – Investing Your Heart In Something Valuable to You

For several years now – I have wanted to do a boot camp at the exercise studio I’ve gone to for the last eight or so years.  I’ve always felt like I didn’t want to spend my money on it and I also felt kinda awkwardly vain desiring to do so.  What would it say about me if I chose to invest more than a regular exercise studio membership on my physique?

After discussing this with Jason – he encouraged me to give it a try.  (To be clear – his encouragement wasn’t coming from a place of wanting my body to look differently.  If that had been the case – I would probably have done something that I’d regret.)  Jason knows how long I’ve wanted to do this boot camp and he also knows how hard it is for me to spend money on things that aren’t imperatives.  Well – the opportunity came up right before Halloween this year and I enrolled in the 4-week boot camp.

I went in with some pretty high expectations.  I really thought I would see a radical transformation.  While that didn’t happen – something else did that I see as even more important and beneficial.  It gave me confidence, empowerment and I felt better.

The reason I walked away with more confidence was because I did something that was hard.  I challenged myself and made the boot camp a priority.  I wasn’t sure if I could swing it – but I did it.

It also gave me confidence because I made myself a priority.  I invested (time and money) in ME.

It got me thinking.  And I realized that part of restoring my dignity is investing (heart, soul, time, money, etc.) in things that I value.

I want you to think about what you value and how you can invest your time and money in those things in order to start to rebuild dignity and confidence.  If you aren’t familiar with values work – it’s super fun.  Email me if you would like some resources.

#2 – Doing Something that Helps Your Body Feel Well

Just so you know, this does not have to be exercise.  The end.

I have been sick this week and boy, does it affect me.  We were supposed to get professional photos taken at our office for my new website and I had to reschedule because I wasn’t feeling well.  Since then, I’ve gone from bad to still bad.

I was telling Jason last night that getting photos taken while sick sounds like the worst idea ever.  We want to feel at our best when we get photos taken – we want to feel alive and beautiful!  Not close to death’s door with scabs around our nostrils. Sigh.

When my body doesn’t feel well – my confidence is in the toilet.  Which begs the question – what can I do to help my body feel well?

I think the easy answer is exercise and eat well – and I agree that these things help.  But there is so much more than this.  Here are some other, sometimes more important things that help me feel well in my body –  listening to my gut, acknowledging how I feel, sharing my heart with those I find safe, recognizing my limiting beliefs (or lies) – and also – laughter.

What about for you?  It could be dancing or listening to music.  It could be brushing your teeth and doing your hair (I struggle with the latter of these). Think about what helps you feel well in your body.

Because confidence comes from within – it’s important that we are nourishing ourselves with the things that will help us feel well.

As we enter the final weekend before Christmas – I want you to hold tight to point #2 above.  Listen to your body.  Don’t ignore your gut.  Do what you can to help your body feel well.

Would love to hear your thoughts on these first two and stay tuned for the next three!

xo – Shelley

Fan the Flame – Part 1

Confidence.  It’s near and dear to my heart these days.  Confidence is defined as a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgments.

I was reminded recently as to the importance of confidence and being proactive in my own life to grasp more of it (more on that in the next blog post).

Confidence is stripped from women (along with dignity and honor to name a few) when they are betrayed.

I have worked with women for more than a decade now and while there are some things I expect to hear that are right under the surface – the level of grief, trying to understand the why behind his addiction (or sexual integrity issue), grappling with trust and forgiveness (the list goes on) – there are other deeper and more insidious effects that sometimes we don’t think about at first blush.  I believe these deeper effects can really rattle our self-confidence.

Unaddressed Shame –

Early on in our recovery – we spent a lot of time focusing on the shame that Jason experienced, starting in childhood, that eventually became triggers that led him to choose to act out.

I as well was dealing with shame – and my shame had layers.  There was the shame of coming to terms with the fact that I married a man with sexual integrity issues.  The shame of this being my story.  This caused me to hide and not want to share my ugly truth with anyone.

I also experienced shame because I really thought Jason only had eyes for me.  And he was the first boy that I finally felt chosen by.  Grappling with the fact that he chose me and many others caused me to feel unloveable and worthless.

The layers of shame look different for each of us.  Sure, it almost always surfaces because of his choices.  But it also can come up as women try to figure out if she should stay married to him.  There can be shame in choosing to stay with someone that treated us this way – and even more so if he isn’t doing good recovery work.  “Am I this pathetic to stay with him after all he has done and he is still treating me this way?”

Confidence wanes as the shame layers start to mount.

Financially Stuck-

While this wasn’t so much the case for myself (we didn’t have children yet and I was the bread winner) – this is a massive issue for most of the women I support.

Working recovery is oftentimes a financial hardship. I remember stressing over how we would pay for the therapist that we were seeing twice a week.

Women affected by betrayal already feel powerless.  If finances are tight – it limits the choices available and can cause her to feel even more stuck and powerless.

In addition, most women that reach out to me have sacrificed their careers in the name of their families.  Some women could go back to their careers but have young children at home which makes the choice feel really hard.  Others have been away from their careers for decades and would have to do loads of training to return to their professions of choice.  It’s a hard call to make.

Feeling stuck from a financial standpoint can have massive effects on self-confidence.  When we have agency – we have confidence.  But without that agency – confidence can plummet.

Intuition Violations –

I know for myself – deep down I knew something wasn’t quite right when I was dating Jason.  This persisted on our wedding day.  I loved him, I knew I wanted to spend my life with him.  But something deep down didn’t feel right.  Ladies – our intuition doesn’t lead us astray.

During the first 3 years of our marriage – I continued to dismiss my intuition.  I continued to experience an unsettled and nagging feeling that something was amiss.  In order to stay sane – I either had to trust my gut and insist something was off or I had to divorce my gut to keep the peace between he and I.  I chose the latter.

Once the ugly truth fully came out – my confidence in trusting my own judgement was completely shattered.  How could I have done this to myself?  How could I have married someone that would treat me this way?  How did I not know?

My self-confidence crashed to an all time low.

Ladies – it’s not all bad news, though.  Why, you ask? (I’m so glad you did!)  Because I truly believe that each of us can walk through betrayal and toward our future with more confidence than we ever thought was possible.  As Maya Angelou said – “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”  As I think about this quote – with all due respect – I’d like to revise it.  The light might dim, for a season, but ladies – it will never go out.  We must fan the flame.

I’m curious if you can relate to any of these three areas that affect our confidence post betrayal.  I’d also love to hear what else comes to mind for you that has made an impact on trusting yourself.

Stay tuned for some strategies to help us start to rebuild the confidence we so desperately need to repair.  While this might be life work – I do think if we are intentional – we can make huge strides in this area rather quickly.

Love you ladies!

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

Strategies to go into Thanksgiving with Confidence

I’ve talked to a handful of women in the last couple of weeks begging the question – help me with Thanksgiving!!!  What am I going to DO?!

I hear you.  Navigating extended family and recovery work is freakin insane.  Some of the strategies Jason and I used early on in our process we still use today.  If I’m honest – which I will be – I still struggle with the holidays.  #workinprogress  It isn’t nearly as difficult as it used to be but it still takes intentional effort on our parts and a lot of conversations before, during and after.

Before I get to the strategies that can help us navigate the holidays with greater ease – let’s talk about why the holidays can be so hard.  I’ve narrowed it down to four big reasons and I want you to see if any of these hit home for you.  I know there are others out there and would love to hear what they are in the comments section below –

The pretend factor – Questions abound for us women as we are working through the early and middle stages of betrayal – Will what has happened to me be the elephant in the room?  Who knows what?  Will someone say something that will either embarrass me or send me to my room crying?

The space factor – Will I have space to grieve and to feel the emotions I need to feel with so many people around and so many activities going on?

The little boy factor – Will my husband assume the role he played in his family of origin once we are with his family?  Will he become enmeshed again with his mom while we are there?  Will he do whatever it takes – even throwing me under the bus – to get love and acceptance from his dad?

The we are changing factor – Just because we are changing (and aren’t we so glad that we have the capacity to do so!) doesn’t mean that anyone else around us is changing.  Unfortunately when one person changes in a family system – it can cause a disequilibrium and others in the family will react (for better or worse) to this change.  I hear a lot about negative reactions to the positive changes women are making which can be confusing for women that are working so hard to set boundaries, understand their limits, use their voices, etc.

As I tell the women I work with in my groups as well as in the one to one sessions I do – Having the insight and awareness is half the battle.  Being able to name what is going on is HUGE.  So if none of these factors above hit home – think about what might be playing in.  Name it.

So now for the fun stuff.  Let’s talk about what we can do to go into Thanksgiving week being grounded, more confident and less stressed.

Strategy #1 – Honor your feelings + name your reason.  Be real with yourself and at least one other person that you deem safe (preferably your husband but depending on his recovery work and where you guys are at in the journey – this might need to be one of your go-to girls or a friend or mentor, etc.) as to how you are feeling.

I am not saying that you are going to base your every move on your feelings.  No.  But I want you to stay connected with yourself.  Honor what you are feeling, name it, and share it.

Sometimes we go to a holiday gathering not because we are excited and looking forward to it.  Instead – we might feel scared, dreadful, sad – but we do it anyways.  And there is a reason.  Name it.  It might be that your kids get to spend time with their cousins or grandparents.  It might be that you want to honor your parents or his parents.  Keep the reason in mind and continue to honor how you feel as you walk through the event.

Strategy #2 – Ask yourself what YOU think, want, need and feel.  I talk about this briefly in the Rescued workbook in the self-care chapter.  I think it’s important to put everyone else’s needs and desires in a box when we do this exercise.  All we are doing is exploring what we think – want – need – feel.  And then after we explore – we can start to piece together the best way to move forward.

For example – recently I was talking to someone that shared she and her husband are separated and she didn’t know what to do about Thanksgiving and navigating his extended family and her extended family.  As we talked – I asked her – what do you need?  And what she really wanted and needed was permission to not have to go to her in-laws.  She knew it would be too difficult for her heart.  What this meant was she would have her littles with her family for part of the day and he would have them with his family for part of the day.  Oh the grief that she felt.  No momma wants to be without her kids for thanksgiving – and she also knew what her heart could tolerate and heading to the in-laws and faking it – not tolerable this year.

Strategy #3 – Have a plan.  Before the gathering (or before you leave for the trip or before your guests arrive for the week) – sit down with your husband and talk about the best way to stay connected and work as a team.  Jason and I still do this before every trip or holiday – whether it’s going to be just the 5 of us or the 5 of us plus the rest of our crazy family.

For instance, we plan out good times to step away and do a check-in (for us, it’s usually on a morning run).  Jason likes to get away for some alone time (introvert alert!) almost every day and I step up and watch the boys.  We talk about how we might need to protect ourselves emotionally and what our limits are in conversations, etc.

My hope is that each of you can approach next week feeling empowered, connected to yourself and more confident than in years past.  You can click here and here for some other posts that I’ve written in the past as you prepare your game plan.

You got this girl!

And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts or answer your questions – just comment below and I will respond.

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

Course Corrections + Encouragement to Keep Going

There are days – few and far between – when I wake up and I am on it.  My boys are being little angels, I’ve gotten up early and had some alone time, I even include veggies in my breakfast.

And then – there are the other days.  Yesterday was one of them.

Two of my boys were having it out with each other, the third was complaining of a tummy ache and didn’t think school was a good idea.  I finally had to sequester one of the first two until it was time to go to school – it was a mess.  And it wasn’t even 7:30.

Once I got them to school – I realized that I forgot to pack their inside shoes.

I had them stay in their snow boots and jogged home to grab them.  I then shuffled in the snow back to school to drop off their tennies.

By 8:15, I was drained, weary and reflecting on what I needed to change.

Mentally, I went to a place of hopelessness.  I started to think of all the things that were going wrong.  My boys need to go to bed earlier – then maybe they wouldn’t be so cranky in the morning.  My boys need to learn to be more chill and not run around the house like crazies – then maybe I could think and actually remember important items like shoes.

After venting to Jason – I realized I had a choice to make – was I going to let the morning ruin me?  And ruin the day?  Or was I going to take a small step in the right direction in the hopes that I could get back on track.  Several small steps = one big step – right?

It’s these course-corrections that become defining for us on our journeys.  It can take a day that appears to be going down the drain to a day filled with purpose and hope.

I ended up pushing my to-do list to the side, bundled up, and drove my car to a trail close to our house.  It was about 15 degrees outside and there was a good 8 inches of snow on the ground (but a cleared trail) – not the most ideal of running conditions but I was determined to course correct and felt a run would be the thing to make that happen.

I slowly got out of my car and couldn’t believe what I was facing.  I reticently took off my coat.  And started down the trail.  It was cold, it was uncomfortable, and I had to keep telling myself that it would be worth it in the end if I could just get a little further down the trail.  Make it to this tree, make it to that sign.  Initially, that was my goal.

It’s the things that we work hard for, the things that we dig deep to move through even when it’s uncomfortable – yes – these are the things that God can use to teach us, refine us, and cultivate in us character traits that are priceless.

I realized on that run that I wasn’t going to be able to change everything all at once.  But also that change needed to happen.  So I picked one thing that I could do different.  And it was this – get my boys in bed at an earlier time.  We all know the definition of insanity and that’s exactly what was happening – I was doing the same thing but expecting a different result.

I’ve been a runner for 29 years – so I know on those cold mornings that if I can just push myself to engage in the pain of the cold – it will get better.  My body will heat up, my toes and fingers will start to thaw out, and I will actually enjoy the process.  But it’s never enjoyable initially.

My run yesterday morning in some ways resembles the recovery process.  The recovery process is painful, unnatural and completely uncomfortable, especially at first.  It brings up a host of insecurities and frustrations – it feels never ending.  And oftentimes, it’s all we can do to just do the next little thing.

I know many of you are sitting here reading this and asking yourself – is this recovery process even worth it?  Will there be an end in sight that is more beautiful than what life was like before?  You’re sitting in the uncomfortableness of it all and you don’t know if it will be worth it.

I finished my run and I felt like a warrior.  Nothing could stop me.  I was out there on a blistering cold day doing the thing I love.  But it wasn’t easy, especially at first.

The same applies to this process of transformation.  You WILL look back and see the good.  Sure, there are tears, there is grief, there is pain – it’s not easy.  We will wrestle and struggle our way through – looking for the hope.

It’s coming.

Keep going.

You got this.

xo – Shelley

Staying in my Lane

I was reminded of a clip from the 1987 Blockbuster – Baby Boom as I wrote this post. In the movie, Diane Keaton plays this high-powered corporate executive in New York City. She happens to inherit a baby girl from a distant cousin and I remember at one point in the movie – she is trying to keep up with the other women power walking to work.

As I recall, for a moment, she tries to keep up with the other high-powered exec’s but then realizes – she can’t do it anymore. So she slows down and this look of resignation comes over her.

It’s crazy that I remember that clip so well from a movie that I watched when I was just a kid. Maybe because I find time and again that I’m that woman. Trying to keep up, to be the same, and then realizing I just can’t.

Case in point, I’ve been on the treadmill lately. Running around like a crazy mama to sports practices and games like no. body’s. biz. It occurred to me a couple of days ago that we have 11 sports practices and 10 games this week ALONE. And my 2nd half is headed out of town. Oh my.

With the marathon that has been my life over the last 6-7 weeks, I have slowly started to slip away from some of the habits that continually keep me grounded. Namely spending time reading my Bible (being connected to God), journaling (being connected to myself), and working toward staying connected emotionally to Jason (being connected with others).

This fraying of the cord that anchors me has started to infiltrate other areas of life. I have started to feel pressure “to be the same”. To do whatever it takes to “fit in”. The problem is – fitting in changes with every situation.

I’ve also started to get super caught up in what other people (both near and far) are doing with their time (I hate social media in this way) while I have just gotten more and more frustrated and disappointed with how much I am NOT doing. Discontent is the word that comes to mind.

And this, my friends, is NOT how I want to live.

So on Sunday night – after a day of feeling pretty much anxious and powerless – I took some steps in the right direction. I ran a couple of errands to better help me be ready for the week (self care people). I wrote Jason a note and left it by his keys. I dusted off my Bible on Monday morning and picked up where I left off months ago.

Then yesterday, while I was prepping for this talk – I picked up this book that I read a couple of years ago – and flipped to a page speaking to what I have been struggling with. He mentions differentiation and this is what he says:

Differentiation involves the ability to hold on to who you are and who you are not. The degree to which you are able to affirm your distinct values and goals apart from the pressures around you while remaining close to the people important to you helps determine your level of differentiation. People with a high level of differentiation… can choose… how they want to be without being controlled by the approval or disapproval of others.

Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality p 82

Ironically – out in the margin, written in my hand writing from 2017 – it says “I think I have some work to do.” (You don’t say!)

This, my friends, was exactly what I needed to be reminded of. I need to get in my own lane and stay there for a while. I need to get super clear with God on what my next steps look like. I need to go back to my values and what makes me unique. I need to think boundaries and seeing myself apart from others while also being connected to God, self and others. I’m not running someone else’s race. I’m running my own race and God hasn’t forgotten about me.

Here is the deal – I know I’m not alone in looking at others, seeing what all they are doing or not doing and wondering – what went wrong. {Heck, I was texting with a sweet soul yesterday and we were talking about what we thought this season would look like versus what it actually looks like. I told her – and I’m serious – I thought by now I’d have another book in the world (um, not happening), I’d have a well-thought-out designed home (bahaha), and I’d have time to take a shower and wash my hair on a daily basis (for the love). She as well was sharing where she expected to be by now, but wasn’t.}

We all have big plans. And for a lot of us – those plans went into the porta-potty when life blew up before our eyes. (And for some of us, we had big plans and then we had a baby.)

Either way – know that God hasn’t forgotten about you. Know that if you are in a season of barely keeping up, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and exhausted from recovery and from life – He is doing a good work in you and through you even in the wait.

Let’s stay in our lanes. Let’s be ourselves, be different. Let’s encourage one another, support one another and cheer each other on. And let’s take a lot of pit stops – preferably with comfy restrooms and not porta-potty’s.

On the journey with you – Shelley

On Belonging

Back in May, I did a number on myself by over-committing primarily at my boys’ schools. Summer came and I needed a break from civilization. I checked in with myself toward the end of June and nope, I still felt like I needed a break. So I plodded along, keeping to myself (well, let’s be honest – keeping to myself + Jason + my boys + my work + well, you know…)

Fast forward to August and my balance was off once again, but in the other direction. I felt alone and lonely. I was reminded of the sacredness of having a place to belong. I was reminded of the fact that it’s HARD for me to belong – I have some serious roadblocks to getting there (see below). I was reminded that belonging is a value of mine and one that is important for me to nourish.

I started to wonder – who feels like they belong? Who feels like they have people in their corner that they can count on? The ones that will pitch a tent and keep it warm inside, the ones that will see us and hear us and do life with us? Isn’t that something we all yearn for? And yet, it seems so few of us truly have that.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Roadblocks to Belonging

Before we can make progress toward belonging, I think it’s important to identify what holds us back. This might look different for each of us – maybe it’s the pain of betrayal that holds you back – not wanting others to know what is really going on behind closed doors. Maybe it’s shame from past experiences that hold you back – thinking it’s safest to keep them all tucked inside. Maybe it’s fear of rejection. Maybe it’s the pace of your life and all the things you are working to accomplish. All valid reasons for not being able to fully press in to relationships and belong.

I’d say for me, while this list changes, depending on the season, there tend to be two things that consistently hold me back from belonging. One of those things happens to be the limits I have on my emotional bandwidth. Between raising these sweet littles (turning into bigs), running a ministry that helps those that are hurting, and trying to keep my marriage to Jason a priority – my tank tends to run low.

Second, and probably more of a problem, is this fear that I won’t be accepted if people really really knew what I was like – aka – a fear of rejection. While I realize we live in a culture of covering up and while I realize the importance of taking off masks (I preach on this) – I STILL struggle with this.

It’s like there is that little girl, still inside me, that so badly wants to be liked. No. matter. the. cost.

Unfortunately – that cost is high and not worth it.

I have been very very aware over the last month of how I have been tempted to be who I think people want me to be, versus firmly grounding myself in ME. I’ve had several fails where I have walked away and realized – I have some work to do.

And – the good news – I have also had a couple of successes. Where I have walked into a situation or experience (I can count two recent times) and I committed to myself to be me. No matter the cost. It was hard and scary and freeing.

What about for you? What do you see as the things that hold you back from belonging?

The Key to Belonging

What I have realized as I look back on these experiences – is first, I have to belong to myself. What I mean by this is – I have to truly accept myself – my quirks, my differences, my opinions, my fears, the things I love, the things I hate. All of me (hmmm…this is beginning to sound like a mix of boundary work + self care) or as much of me as I know – has to be acknowledged and accepted – in order for me to belong to myself.

As we begin to accept ourselves and find belonging from within – we are then able to show the true and real version of ourselves to others. And when we share the real and true with others – this my friends is when we will start to experience belonging.

So Who are You?

There is something about the death of a marriage that forces one to figure out who they really are. We are all handed this {opportunity} as we face the heartache of betrayal. It’s been a big part of my journey and a big part of what I do as I walk with women via groups and one on one.

And it’s also super scary to dig into who we really are. The pain of betrayal can in the short-term cause us to fit more tightly into our masks and what we *think* we need to look like, act like, be like. If you resonate with this – know that it’s a big part of the the healing process. We don’t want to be hurt again – so no wonder we self-protect with the masks.

The masks we wear, however, lead to isolation, loneliness and death at a soul level.

Below are some simple suggestions for getting to know you. Think of this as gently peeking out from under the mask.

You can look in the Rescued workbook in Chapter 3 and start to explore the things that fill you up and the things that deplete you. You can also start to explore your healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Both of these things are simple ways to start to get to know yourself better and what makes you unique.

I love the Enneagram and here is an inexpensive test (click on the RHETO) you can take that will help you figure out your type. I also like this book and this book which will help you explore the Enneagram even more.

Know that if you struggle to accept yourself, to know who you really are, to belong – you aren’t alone. I am on this journey with you and I’m figuring it out, too. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xo – Shelley

Restore Workshop – won’t you join me?

Ladies – I want to personally invite each of you to join me at the next Restore workshop. It’s less than two weeks away in Dallas, TX and I am so so excited to come sit with each of you that is attending and talk you through the highs and the lows of this journey!

It’s important to remember that this workshop is not only an excellent way to gain support, which I believe is one of the most critical components for success when it comes to recovering from betrayal. But it’s also a place to learn and grow. You will leave with tools and hand-holds to help you as you move forward in your journey. And you will also leave a different person than who you were when you arrived.

Restore is an experience and the ladies that lead the break-out groups are phenomenal at what they do.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions. Would so love to see you there.

xo – Shelley