What I’m learning these days about forgiveness

On Sunday evening, Jason was sharing his heart with me. He was talking about a recent hurt and all the feelings it brought up when he saw this person that had hurt him. Listening to him opened up some wounds that I thought were fairly healed and even while I was on my run this morning, I recognized the bitter weeds taking up space in my heart.

After rolling my eyes and thinking – this is unbelievable that I’m here again – does the pain ever go away?! I said to myself – I have forgiven (this person) and I will forgive again.

Forgiveness is one of the most mysterious, most fascinating, most gut-wrenching and also freeing experiences I’ve ever endured. (Can I get an Amen?!)

I have to confess that I didn’t have much experience in the forgiveness arena until life blew up some 16 years ago. I really thought back then that forgiveness was what we used, as Christians, to circumvent the healing process and to move forward and not look back. In essence, I adhered to the “forgive and forget” mentality.

While I look back and am in some ways horrified by what I once believed, I’m equally as horrified that this notion – of forgiving and moving on – is still what a lot of folks adhere to. For real – it is 2019. Back in the early 2000’s – maybe we didn’t know any better but today?! Come on!

I wrote a post on myths about forgiveness for Focus on the Family last summer that you can look at here. Since then, God has given me more opportunities to work on forgiveness – enter: my convo with Jason on Sunday evening + this morning’s run. I am grateful for the school-of-hard-knocks-forgiveness-training that I went through with J and all that I have learned. And yet, I find that it is still hard work.

If you are reading this and grappling with forgiveness with the one that betrayed you, or maybe with someone else in your life – I first want you to know that I see you. This forgiveness work is tough stuff for most. I’m on the journey with you and I get it. I hope my recent findings are a source of comfort and strength for you as you keep plowing ahead.

  • Recognizing that there is a need to forgive might mean there is more grief work to do.

Ladies – I am oftentimes shocked at how much grief is inside of me. I’m a feeler, this is true. And – I am also beginning to truly appreciate that grief might just take a life time.

Before you start to get truly petrified by my last statement – let me just say that I believe grieving evolves overtime. Early on, grief is all-encompassing, right under the surface, and it feels like it just might take us down for good. However, if we do good grief work early on in our processes – it starts to become more manageable, more contained. Not all the time contained, but more often than not. Then the time comes when we feel like – yep, we have grieved all we needed to.

And yet, what I have found is there are still pockets of grief that I haven’t worked through. I don’t realize this until I move through life and encounter new experiences – some of which force me to grieve something in a whole new way. (Case in point, my conversation with Jason on Sunday evening and how what he experienced and the hurt he was feeling caused me to see that yes, I still had some hurt to work through as well.)

So what I am working on in real time, today, is giving myself space and grace to recognize that when I start to feel hurt over something from the past – it means there is a pocket of grief that needs to be tended to. Instead of giving myself a hard time for needing to forgive again, I am working on giving myself space to grieve. In other words, even after all the grief and forgiveness work I’ve done in this particular situation, I am allowing myself to grieve and forgive a little more. And I’m expecting it to be much speedier!

  • Jesus commands us to forgive and while I used to think this was really bad news, I now see it as good news.

I read an article a while back that talked about how forgiveness is an imperative. It’s a commandment to forgive others.

I have to admit – I have never liked this. I don’t like being told what to do and especially when it comes to something as downright difficult as forgiveness!

But the article also stated that if Jesus tells us we must forgive others – that means he has given us the ability to do so! In addition, there are no time constraints given to us about forgiveness work.

This is good news – we can do it and we can take our time.

  • Forgiveness work cultivates a posture of humility

I have to tell you that almost nothing draws me closer to God than recognizing my need to forgive. I go through life feeling like I’ve got a handle on things and then wham – out of nowhere – I start to sense the bitterness and resentment and it takes me to my knees.

And that’s what humility is all about. Literally it means to bend the knee or to be lowly. When I realize my need to forgive another – I realize that I can’t do it without God’s mighty hand. I can come with a willing heart (and a lot of resistance) but his supernatural power must intercede on my behalf and make the impossible something truly possible.

Ladies, freedom awaits you on your journey toward forgiveness. Take your time, grieve as much as you can, know that you are capable and also remember that it will draw you closer to God.

xo – Shelley

This is YOUR year – Part 2

In the last blog post, I gave you a quick tool to use to work toward saying hasta luego to 2018. Closure is a really really good thing and for myself, when I can look back on a year and see what I’ve accomplished (as in – the places where I have thrived) and then also recognize the places where I have survived (and sometimes just barely) – it really helps me move forward.

As a side note – Jason and I have realized we are terrible celebrators so putting pen to paper on the areas where we have thrived is good for us.

Once you’ve said good-bye to 2018 – it’s time to start looking ahead to 2019.

As I’ve said before – I take the entire month of January to jot down ideas pertaining to what I might want to accomplish, where I want to spend my time, and some areas where I think I might need to improve.

I’m not going to share all of my ideas – that would be way too exposing for me and I wouldn’t want you to hold me to them just yet (I’m still in exploratory stage) – but I at least want to give you a couple of ideas as to what is on my list:

  • take a weekend Enneagram course – here is the one I am eyeing
  • explore holding a RLFW retreat in the Fall in the mountains
  • dining room re-do
  • Sunday evening Bible Story + dessert with the littles

With that in mind, here is what I want you to do – take a page in your journal (or in your calendar or just a plain ol’ sheet of notebook paper) and write down – “thinking about 2019” or “potential goals for 2019” (just make sure it’s something non-committal at this point). Then start dreaming and jotting. If you need some help – you can use these questions:

  • What is something I could do this year that will fill me up? (Think: self-care)
  • As I look at my calendar and my to-do’s are there any areas where I need to say “no” in order to make time for other things (OR in order to make time to simply create white space)? (This one is SO hard but SO important.)
  • Is there a subject matter that I’m interested in learning more about? Could I take a class or a course? (I found this website recently that could fit the bill for all sorts of interests.)
  • What is one way I can improve my parenting? (This can be simple or complex, depending on how you look at it. To give you an example – last year, what I wanted to improve upon was connecting with my boys at night by lying with them in bed and reading, cuddling, and/or scratching their backs and talking.)
  • Something I could do to make my space (home, office, yard) more comfortable? (For me – the focus will be two rooms that I really want to be more cozy and relaxing for our family.)
  • What’s an area where God is asking me to surrender? An area where He is calling me to risk? (Again – SO hard, but also SO important. Is there an area where you feel like God is tugging on your heart to either release or to pursue? If so, what would it look like to take steps in that direction?)

I’d love for you to take some time for the rest of this month (and on into February if need be) to dream. And just jot away whatever you might come up with. Just this morning, as I have been working on this post, I have added 3 more things to my list.

Looking Ahead

Once I feel like I have a rather complete mess of a page, I then try to narrow down my focus. Last year, for instance, I came up with six categories of focus –

  • community
  • work
  • boys
  • house
  • supporting Jason’s pursuit of adventure
  • miscellaneous

This year it will look different. I’m not there yet so I can’t say for sure.

Listen ladies, it’s vulnerable to dream and to think about where we want this finite life to go. Sometimes I feel silly thinking that life could be better or more than it was the year before.

BUT I encourage you to hush those voices and assure yourself that this can indeed be YOUR year. It can be the year you pursued healing with all your heart, the year you chose to embrace self-care to get you through, or even the year you decided you were going to make your bed (because in my life, a happy bed = a happy heart).

And it doesn’t have to be perfect. Of the 18 or so intentionals I came up with for 2018 – I accomplished 8 of them. And I am thrilled because that’s better than none and that’s better than a life with no direction.

I’d love to hear what makes your short list if you’d be willing to share. And I also want each of you to know – you can respond to this post and keep your name anonymous. Would love to hear from you here.

xo – Shelley

I’m a better person when…

Hey Y’all – before I get into this short and sweet blog post for today – just three quick things I want you to be aware of. 

First – there are two new groups starting in November.  If you are interested at all in one of these groups – I would love to hear from you. 

Second – the Restore Workshop is just around the corner!  Would love for you to join me there – it’s a packed weekend and I promise you will walk away with so much hope and clarity as to your next steps to move forward toward wholeness and freedom!

Third – I enjoyed being on this podcast a couple of weeks ago.  If you listen to it – you might notice it sounds like I am running around during the first 5-6 minutes of the show.  And that’s because I WAS.  I was on my land-line and the battery was low (and beeping) and I was literally running around the house from room to room looking for the 2nd phone which took me a loooooong while to find.  Oh my goodness – talk about terrible timing.

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It was last Sunday at church that I thought these 5 words – “I’m a better person when…”  I found myself actually looking for people I knew to say “hi” to in the hallways after church versus my usual – keeping my head down, collecting my kids and flying out the door.

I thought to myself – I am a better person when I actually make an intentional effort to connect with people I know.

Another reminder that while isolation is always easier – it’s not in any kind of way better.

And then I started to wonder – what else makes me a better person?  So I started compiling a list and here is the start of it –

I’m a better person when…

  • I get up before my kids and have even just 5-10 minutes to connect with myself and God before my day gets underway.
  • I carve out space to exercise.
  • I call the mail lady by name and say a word or ten when I see her at my door or on the street.
  • I have food in my pantry and in my fridge.
  • I have clear boundaries and expectations with my children and I stick to what I say.
  • I make my Friday morning date with Jason a priority.
  • I reach for a vegetable instead of a slice of cake. (Which I just indulged in and loved every bite!  haha!  Maybe I should remove this one from my list.)
  • I carve out time at the end of the day to cuddle with each of my boys once they are in bed.
  • I map out my week by Sunday evenings – just so there are no surprises.
  • I have margin in my day (which I haven’t had in the last 10 days or so – eeks!).

That is literally the very beginning of what could turn into a long list.  I’d love for you to join me in thinking this through as you go about your day and then sharing with me – what are the things that make you a better you.

And then – let’s go do them (minus subbing the veggies for cake) – ’cause we all need a little cake in our lives!

xo – Shelley

Saying “no” so that we can say “yes”

Alright ladies, it’s official – I now have 16 whole hours each week without my littles.  {I can barely STAND it!!!}

It’s bittersweet, this is true, AND… I must say – this momma is really really happy about it.

It really couldn’t have come at a better time – I was at the tail END of my ever-lovin’ rope last weekend.  All I wanted and needed was a BREAK!!!!!  I even started crying one night because I was so. tired. of being. a mom.

With that said, I have a TON of items that I want for us to discuss here on the blog this Fall that I’ve just been storing up in my head all summer long.  So many, that I’m going to have to organize my thoughts or else I’ll be ALL over the place.

Since we are all transitioning from summer to fall, for today, I thought I’d talk about a little project I’m working on.  It’s a very small project and one you might want to take on yourself as you reorganize your life after a summer of chaos. (Or was I the only one living in complete and total chaos this summer?!)

Do not fear, ladies, this isn’t a big project.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite and it was all inspired by this podcast.

It’s called – a yes/no list.

In effect, it’s me deciding what I’m going to say “yes” to and what I”m going to say “no” to.  Because again, I only have these 16 hours of completely free time.  So I want to maximize as much as possible.  (To be clear, the yes/no list isn’t just so I will maximize my alone time, it’s really to fully live every day and make time for the things I really want and need to do.)

Honestly, I consider this to be essential when it comes to self-care which is something I harp on a LOT in my groups.  We are all incredibly busy and when we are in the thick of this process of restoration, whether we are separated, divorced, or remain married – self-care is CRITICAL.

Along with that self-care, it’s critical that we learn how to say “no”. As a very sweet and sassy and oh-so-wise woman in one of my past groups would always say, “no, no, no, no, no…”.  She had it down!

Just to give you a flavor of what is on my list – here are a couple of items in the “yes” category:

  • Exercising 4 times a week.
  • Reserving Friday mornings as a date morning with Jason (this is a new thing that we are starting this week – I’m just hoping and praying we can keep from fighting… why is it that we tend to fight when we go on dates?!).
  • Waking up early so that I can have a little quiet time before the boys start to rumble and roar.

But I can’t do these things unless I say “no” to some other things.  So here are some of the things on my “no” list:

  • Facebook (total time robber and makes me feel like the biggest loser after spending any amount of time on there).
  • Not working on the weekends.
  • Hustling with friends that aren’t that interested in me (I realize that hustle has a very negative connotation and thus I find it fitting for the things we do that we don’t need to do anymore!)
  • Limiting my email time to only 2-3 time blocks per week (’cause I think we could email forev and forev if we allowed ourselves to!).

I’d LURVE for you to join me in creating a yes/no list so that you have more time for the things you want {and need} to do and also so that you have clarity about the things it’s really okay to say “no” to.

It is SO hard to say no.  And it’s too early to tell if this yes/no list will help me say no with confidence.  But I have to tell you, I already feel more empowered as I look over my list and continue to add to it as the days tick by.

Would love for you to join me!  And I’d also love to hear – is it hard for you to say “no” to the things that you really don’t speak to your heart?  If that’s the case, know that boundaries might also be hard for you.  That’s a topic I want us to really dive into this fall, so stay tuned.

xo – Shelley

 

 

On What I’m Learning About Worthiness – Part 3

Alright ladies, I wanted to loop back to a topic I’ve mentioned several times here recently on the blog, that is oh-so-close to my heart – Worthiness.  If you need a quick refresher, you can read this blog post as well as this one and you’ll be ready to go.

Before we dig in to part three of worthiness – I want to make sure each of you knows about the Restore workshop in Orange County, CA in just over three weeks.  This is a workshop specifically designed for women desiring healing after betrayal.  There is an incredible team of women there that have walked this journey and are ready to support you as you take your next step toward healing.  Speaking of worthiness – you are worthy of whatever it might take to get to this workshop.  There is so much healing, hope and encouragement awaiting those that attend!

Okay, so here we go:  I shared in the last worthiness post about one of the lies that I repeat to myself over and over again. The lie is – “I’m a pig”. I shared about where this lie came from – really the situations in my past that gave this lie a place to reside in my soul.

Remember, these situations are born out of sin. Not just others sins but my sins as well.

When we begin to believe these lies, we also begin to isolate ourselves and self-protect. Because let’s get honest – do we really want others to hear what we really think about ourselves? Absolutely not. The lies represent deep hurts and fears. They represent our shame.

So we start to hold onto them and protect them. We start to change how we present ourselves to the world in order to make sure they stay our little secrets. We’ll call these changes we make the masks we wear.

This, my friends, is quite the opposite of living a vulnerable and authentic life.

Do you see how crafty Satan is? Scary, huh.

As I’ve stated many-a-times here – the antithesis to shame is intimacy. Remember, intimacy means fully knowing another and being fully known.  Intimacy is how we discard the masks and get real about ourselves, our lives, and who we really are on the inside.

I want to make sure we are all on the same page – the lies we hear in our heads lead to shame, isolation and insecurity. With that being said, the best way we can work through them is via intimacy and connection with God, self and others.

So guess what it’s time to do – it’s time to drag those lies into the light and share them with others. You can do that here (as I did in the last blog post) but I also want you to do it with a trusted friend that knows you well.  Put on your brave pants ladies!  You can do this!

Jason is working on a book and as I was proofing it last week, I was shaken by something he shares.  He mentions faulty core beliefs which are the same as the lies I talk about in this post.  Here is what Jason says:

The point here is that these faulty core beliefs will be resident as adults, and thus incorporated into a marriage. As you can imagine, sexual betrayal then does a number on these beliefs, further engraining them into our consciousness. In my opinion, this is the most acute, most insidious, most tragic damage done by sexual betrayal. As husbands we are called to create a space where our wives’ deepest hurts and the most scarring wounds on their souls can be healed, covered, smoothed, and renewed….Instead, betrayal accomplishes nearly the exact opposite.

I believe this is a really poignant reminder as to why we must work through these lies.  Unfortunately, betrayal does do the exact opposite of what God intends to occur in marriage.  Instead of the marriage being that safe place to work toward sanctification; when betrayal strikes, it becomes the unsafe place where the lies satan wants us to believe become cemented in.

So here is your homework:  What I’d love for you to continue to do with me is to work on these lies.  Share them here.  Confess them to God and to someone you trust.

Also, don’t forget to look backward from the lie and identify what experiences caused you to believe what you believe (think the origin of the lie or the wound).  In addition, see if you can identify how you’ve changed who you are (think:  the mask you wear) in order to make sure people don’t start to pick up on the lies you believe about yourself. (And if you are super nerdy like me, you can come up with a table where you keep track of all these things – the wound, the lie and the mask.)

One of my groups has gotten quite good at naming these masks – here are a couple to choose from:  perfect christian mask, all together mom mask, the tidied house mask.

We talk ALL about this at the Restore workshop as we walk toward tapping into our God-given worthiness.  I’d love for you to join me there if you want to learn more.

Once you have exposed your lies, the final step is to change them into empowering beliefs.  I’m going to loop back to this in part four of the worthiness series and share with you exactly how to do this.

xo-Shelley

 

 

On the road toward true intimacy

Yesterday evening, Jason was trying to talk to me.  I was busily finishing a photo gallery on one of the walls in our living room.  (I decided to spend my free time in the month of May redecorating our living room.  One of the rooms I had never really decorated since we moved into our home three plus years ago.)

picture gallery

Jason was wanting for us to make some decisions about a couple of potential trips we would be taking.  I didn’t want to engage in the conversation.  So I kept giving him vague answers.  He ended up calling me out.  Telling me I was being ambiguous and he couldn’t continue to have a dead end conversation with me.

And I realized, I was afraid to tell him what I really felt.  What I really thought.  What I might need.  And what I wanted.  It was obvious my feelings, needs, thoughts and wants were conflicting with his, I knew this already.  And I didn’t want to engage in this emotional intimacy with him because I was afraid.  I was afraid to be vulnerable.  Afraid to disagree.  Afraid of what Jason might think of me.

Does any of this sound familiar?

As I started to share with Jason what I really thought about these upcoming trips and all the emotions they stirred inside of me, I recognized that it felt so much better to get it out.  I actually felt relief.  I also recognized that I still do it – I bottle up my feelings.  I don’t let them out.  And this, my friends, has gotten me into serious trouble in the past.  It’s called a breakdown.  And I’ve had one.  It’s no fun.

I recently read a book entitled Mending a Shattered Heart.  As I was flipping through it earlier to prepare for the book review, I came across four key questions that the author believes are the essence of intimacy.  Just to be clear, the success of a relationship isn’t about physical appearance, social status, or career; as most of us think.  The author proposes its more about this:

  • Does my partner freely admit his or her mistakes?
  • Do I feel safe enough to readily admit my mistakes?
  • Can I share the darkest part of myself?
  • Can I hear about the dark side of my partner?

These are the extremes – talking about the darkest parts of ourselves and admitting when we make mistakes.  What about just expressing how we feel?  What we need?  What we think?  What we want?  (These are known as The Four Questions with my go-to girls.)  It seems to me that the former (sharing about the dark parts of me) are much more difficult to share than the latter (sharing about my needs, wants, feelings).  And for me – these latter still prove to be difficult at times.

For most of you reading this blog, you might not feel safe enough yet to share exactly how you feel and what you need.  I’m twelve years into this process and my husband has been in active recovery for twelve years as well.  And it’s still something I struggle with.

I need to land this blog-post-plane and I’m going to do so with this:  ask yourself – are you able to freely express your needs, wants, thoughts and feelings to your husband?  And likewise, does your husband do the same with you?  In addition, are you freely able to share the darkest parts of yourself as well as your mistakes?  And likewise, does your husband do so with you?

If the answer is no – it might be that you aren’t to a point in your relationship where you feel safe enough doing this.  If that’s the case, ask yourself what you need to feel safer.  If you are feeling safe in your relationship, why have you chosen not to engage at this deeper level?

And whatever your answer is – know that I’m still on this journey, too.  Figuring it out, day by day.  I’d love to think that some of this stuff becomes second nature.  But after living three decades of my life in a non-intimate sort of way, I can’t expect it to all of a sudden become easy.  Not yet at least.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.  xo-Shelley

 

On what we lose when we are married to a sex addict

You might think this blog post is all about the many things we lose when we are married to a sex addict.  There are so many, it would take me all day to list them:  our self-respect, our voice, our security, our safety, our significance, our trust for others, our trust for God, our health, our power, our dignity, our faith in the human race, our family, our house, our comfort…  The list goes on and on.  (Feel free to leave a comment and add what you’ve lost.)  Rather, what I want to do is focus on one of these things:  Our intuition.

I know for myself, I started to slowly close the door on that inner voice early on in my relationship with Jason.  Well before I married him.  I had no idea that I was even doing it.

Maybe it’s because I admired him.  Maybe it was because he covered the biggest of gaping holes in my heart and soul.  You know, the hole that said “Shelley is unchosen”.

Yes, it was Jason that finally chose me.  And it seems because of that, I allowed a lot to slide.  Including those feelings deep within that were telling me something wasn’t quite right.

And at some point, I shut the door, locked it, and threw away the key.

intuition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I started to pick up the pieces of the betrayal…  When I started to see that I wasn’t going crazy…  I realized I had completely lost my compass, my internal notion that helped me know which way was north.

And it seems that twelve years into this recovery, I am still working on opening the door wide.  Trusting my intuition.  Trusting my instincts.  And being obedient to what God might ask me to say or do.

I read recently that there is a connection between our enteric nervous system (the part of our nervous system that controls our GI tract) and the emotional center of our brain.  Here is what I read:  “Evolution has placed part of our emotion-generating circuits in the gut, an area where you have major mechanical influences such as contractions and a direct interface with the environment.”

Wow, isn’t that amazing?  And it totally makes sense.  So how, after all we have been through, do we learn to trust our gut?  To trust our intuition?  The Holy Spirit.

For myself, the first step to taking back my intuition was demanding to know the truth about my life.  I kept thinking there must be something I was missing.  And there was!  The more I swept the evidence under the rug, the crazier it made me feel.  It wasn’t until I knew the truth.  That my husband was committing adultery.  Which led me to recognize that I wasn’t going crazy, that I was able to find the key and unlock the door.

Even still, it would be months or years before I was able to trust my intuition.

Other ways I have worked to learn to trust myself again:

1)  Sharing with trusted friends about what I am thinking and processing.  Yep, it’s living in community.  Usually, my friends have words for me that I might feel but can’t say.  They help clarify, validate, and dissect my feelings.  I typically walk away with more clarity.

2)  Being more aware of my feelings.  I’ve spent many a years staying very busy.  My busyness became a buffer for me in that it prevented me from dealing with the feelings within.  Over the last three years, I’ve started to let go of the busyness and be more intentional with my time and commitments.  It’s been through this intentionality that I’ve begun to take the time to feel how I feel.

3)  Learning to take Risks.  When we start to trust our instincts again.  And trust the true voice in our heart and soul, we might find that we are faced with taking risks.  It’s through risking that we learn to trust ourselves and trust God even more.  In fact, Jennie Allen, in her book Anything, says that “the only exercise that works works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God, is risk.”

What about you – what has it looked like to reclaim your intuition?  That inner voice that God has given each of us through His Holy Spirit?  And what else might you add to the list?  What have you lost being married to a sex addict?  I’d love to hear from you.

xo-Shelley

Being perfect. A no-win situation.

It seems a big part of my process over the last year is giving myself grace.  In particular, grace to make mistakes.  To admit when I am wrong.  To say “I’m sorry” and to genuinely mean it.  To humbly acknowledge my humanly-flawed-self.

For the most part, I have walked away feeling lighter.  Feeling freedom.  But sometimes, sometimes – i still feel the shame.  I still feel like I’m so broken.  And not in a free way, in a hopeless way.

beingperfect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter perfect:  Lately, the word “perfect” has been bubbling to the surface.  It’s in what I read, it’s in conversation.  I recognize that a part of my eating disorder had to do with perfectionism.  I thought (and I will stress thought) that by having the perfect body, the perfect grades, being the perfect friend….I thought these were the reasons I was accepted, loved and chosen.

I’ve never allowed this concept I have of perfectionism and this journey toward giving myself grace – I’ve never allowed the two to meet eye-to-eye.

And so it seems, the next step in my process is to be able to name the part that perfection has played.  To allow myself to dissect perfection out of my heart and out of my soul.  So that there is even more room for grace.

Because the truth is, I don’t have to be perfect.  And the truth is, I don’t even want to be perfect anymore.  It’s pretty boring.  It’s overrated.  And for myself, it’s a gateway to shame.

And here’s why:  when I do feel shame after making a mistake, it’s almost always connected to the lie that I have to be perfect to be okay.  To be chosen.  To be loveable.

Nobody wins when I expect myself to be perfect.

I will never win because I can’t ever be perfect.

Nobody else will ever win when I expect myself to be perfect.  Because when I put pressure on myself to be perfect, I also put pressure on those around me to be perfect.  So unfair.

So where do I go from here?  I’m not sure.  But I can tell you, something has shifted.  Being able to name my shame and its roots wrapped up in this false belief that I have to be perfect…well, there is freedom in that.  I feel lighter.  I feel like I can breathe.

Goodbye perfectionism.  Hello more freedom, more healing, more wholeness.

What about for you…do you hold onto this false belief that you have to be perfect?  Perfect in some way in order to be loveable?  In order to be accepted?  In order to be chosen?  I’d love to hear from you.  xoxo

 

 

 

 

On what I’ve been learning about triggers

Triggers have been a hot topic in my groups over the last couple of weeks.  It’s been really good to have these conversations about how to recognize a trigger and how to work through them.  It seems with each group, I’ve learned something new about these triggers and I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned here:

1)  Everyone on God’s green earth is triggered, none of us avoid them.  And in the aftermath of sexual betrayal – they are ugly.

2)  I defined a trigger in this blog post as a “any situation, thought or feeling that causes us to feel fear or decreased safety within our marriage.”  Although this is accurate, there is more to the story.  A trigger is also something that reminds us of the past.  Whether it be a situation from childhood or from disclosure or anything in between, remember that a trigger is connected to our past.

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Photo source

3)  I believe it’s important for us to recognize how we respond to triggers.  I typically don’t even realize I’m in the midst of a trigger until hours or days later.  The quicker I am at pin-pointing that I’ve been triggered, the quicker I can work through the trigger.  I’ve found for myself that my “reaction” tends to either look like getting angry or withdrawing.

4)  Piggy-backing off of #3, keeping a close eye on our emotional reactions to interactions with others is also something we can use to help identify our triggers.  Think of these reactions as a litmus.  If there is a high emotional charge after an interaction with someone, it might be a trigger.  (Thank you Heiti for pointing this out!)  Go ahead and work through the process and see what you come up with.

5)  Figuring out what we need to feel safe can be tricky.  Remember that you might have more than one need. I’d encourage you to split these needs into short-term needs and long-term needs.  Think of a short-term need as something that you can do for yourself (as in self-care) in the moment.  It could be taking deep breaths, going for a walk, or reading a book.  Long-term needs are probably a little more complicated.  And you might have to try something before knowing if it helps.  For instance, a longer-term need might be this:  Not driving by a certain area of town that reminds you of what your husband did when he was betraying you.

6)  And finally, working through a trigger shouldn’t be done alone.  Reaching out and processing these triggers with others helps each of us learn more about ourselves and learn more about what we need.  Ultimately – these terrible triggers have the potential to refine us.

I have a five-step process that I use to work through triggers.  If you’d like to look at it, feel free to leave a comment (you can do this anonymously if you’d like) and I will send it your way!

xo-Shelley

 

On Working through Insecurity {A 2015 intentional (#1)}

This year, part of what I’d like to do here is share about how I am working through my 2015 intentionals.  You can read more about them here.  Specifically, I’d like to focus on working through my insecurities, being more intentional with my time, and loving myself just as much as I love others.  In some respects, these intentionals go hand-in-hand.  I also know that insecurity, in particular, is something we all struggle with at times.  I’d propose that I was most insecure in the months following Jason’s disclosure; so I think the topic is well suited for us gals that share a similar story.

This past weekend, Jason was away working at the EMB workshop.  I was home with the litttles and my dad came to help out.  On Saturday evening, I had committed to attending a birthday party for a sweet neighbor at a local bistro.  I realized I wouldn’t know a lot of the people there.  In addition, the party was compromised of couples.

As the evening approached, I started to feel more and more reluctant about attending the party.  Would I know anyone?  Would I fit in?  Would anyone talk to me?  What would I wear?  What if all the women were more dressed up than myself?  (This is after I did a total wardrobe overhaul and currently, I don’t even own a dress!)

I started to process this further and realized that it was my insecurity causing me to second guess attending.  I’d feel more secure if someone went with me.  Then I’d have an insurance policy against feeling alone, invisible and ultimately rejected.

(As a side note, I’ve decided for myself, step one to overcoming my insecurities is awareness.  The art of being able to stop, identify and process the feelings within, and label them as insecurity (or not).

On Saturday afternoon, I decided that this experience could serve as a chance for me to work on my insecurities.  So this is what I transpired:

First, I asked myself, what is the primary reason I am attending the party?  Knowing my motivation and intention beforehand may help me focus in on what’s most important  (because I’m pretty sure my appearance wasn’t what was most important).  The reason I was going was to honor my friend and hope that she felt cherished by my presence.  So what mattered was that I greeted her, wished her a happy birthday, and engaged in conversation for a bit.

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Then, I started to work on the “should cloud” infiltrating my mind.  For example:  “I should wear a skirt, everyone else will be wearing a skirt.”  “I should go purchase a nice outfit.  Everyone else will be wearing something special.”  The list goes on.  Instead of “shoulding” in regards to my wardrobe, as I had been doing all day, I thought about what I love to wear.  What I’m most comfortable in.  Not what I felt like would allow me to feel more accepted around others.  I landed on a pair of destroyed jeans and a simple top with a necklace.  Yes, this was my style.  This speaks to who I am.  (Casual, tomboyish flair with a feminine pop.)

Next, I started to recognize what was a lie circling in my head and replace it with Truth.  For example, I kept hearing:  “I’m not going to know anyone.  I’m going to feel invisible.”  Instead, I reminded myself of the reason I was going – to cherish and honor my friend.  I told myself that I could meet new people and engage in conversation with them.  I wasn’t invisible.  I’m a whole person.  A human being.  I matter.  I have worth.

And last, on my drive over – I called a good friend for encouragement.  She is single so I knew she’d understand my uneasiness.  She gave me a couple of suggestions and empowered me to walk in that bistro all alone.

The evening went better than I had expected.  I chatted with people I knew and met several couples that I’d never met that lived in the neighborhood.  I let loose on the dance floor, not really caring what others thought of my moves.  I was there for three full hours and I can say, it was worth the time investment.  And you know what, it also served as an opportunity for me to intentionally take another step towards becoming a secure woman.  And for that reason, I am  truly thankful.