On the importance of connection

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

I have another confession to make (oh goodness, seems like I’ve been making a lot of these lately!).  Jason and I have done a great job at connecting once the littles go to bed over the last several years of our journey together.  But lately – oh lately – we have allowed other things to come between that sacred space we’ve worked so hard to create.

Writing deadlines, a kitchen convo series that we’ve yearned to get out there into the world, extreme exhaustion, littles that want extra cuddle time – you name it and we’ve allowed other (oftentimes well-meaning) things to creep in.

connection

So last week, we both decided – no more.  We are reclaiming that precious time.  We needed to get back on the couch and connect with each other at the end of the day.  The end. 

And so, we carved out 60-90 minutes in the evening to connect.

By the end of last week, we both agreed, we were back on track.

This week has been more of the same – sitting down on the couch, connecting, sharing our hearts.  And it’s been good.  Deep, sacred, fully knowing one another.

We sat there at the end of last night, staring eye to eye, feeling so proud of ourselves – realizing that this is how we really want to live.  And that it might just be worth having a messy house, not writing as much as we want or saying “no” to an invite in order to make sure we are connected to each other at the end of the day.

Because connection is top of mind for us right now and because of the importance of it – we are going to be talking about connection and what it looks like to live in community with one another all. month. long.

fireplace2

Connection – this is where it goes down.

Connecting with God, ourselves and others as we walk through the painful and glorious parts of this journey is critical.  This connection, or living in intimacy is the antidote to so much.  It’s the antidote to acting in, to shame, to acting out.  It’s the silver bullet.

With that being said, it’s important for us to ask ourselves – how are we doing connecting with God?  Connecting with ourselves?  And connecting with others?  If we are lacking in any of these areas – it puts us at risk to isolate even more and that’s exactly where Satan likes us to be.

We start to believe the lies about ourselves.  We start to feel the weight of shame.  And we start to think that we are worthless, not enough, and unlovable the way we are.

Dragging whatever it might be that we are hiding into the light is the best and only way to live.

I’ve discovered that there seems to be this cumulative effect – the more I connect with God, the more I connect with others, and the more I connect with myself.  Likewise, if I’m feeling a disconnect with myself – I tend to struggle to connect with others and most likely, I’m not feeling connected with God.

So take a moment and reflect on this question – when you are feeling pain – do you isolate?  Or do you comfort yourself and allow yourself to feel.  Do you reach out to someone you trust to share your heart?  Or do you push others away?  Last, do you press into God when you are feeling pain or do you push him out?

Here is the thing – relationships are dynamic.  As soon as we think we have this figured out – life throws us a curve ball and we’re scrambling to put life back into order (think:  what I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post about Jason and I falling out of our connection routine).

So know that connection falls in the life work category.  We will work toward connecting for the rest of our days on this earth.

In the next post, I’m going to discuss what it looks like when connecting with God, ourselves and others doesn’t put salve on the wounds or help the pain.

xo-Shelley

 

7 thoughts on “On the importance of connection

  1. Michelle

    November 3, 2016  |  01:57 pm

    This is awesome Shelley. We are 19 months into recovery.

    My hubby has been doing everything I ask, he went to crisis counseling at first, He went to EMB and is in Sustained Victory, he went to an intense 8 week bible study at the church we go to and I work at and he is in individual counseling. He is still trying to find a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting that is a fit for him. He has tried two so far.

    I tried a support group after first meeting with the therapist leading it. However, it only made me realize how fare we had come on our own with God. I decided that it might be more detrimental to go to a group and relive it over and over. I am moving forward in my faith and restoration, I don’t want to get stuck back in the junk.

    This post about connecting and re connecting really hit home for me. We have also found that we need to “check in” to stay on track with our communication. I decided that instead of trying to find a group that might hinder my healing, we as a couple could do some bible based bible studies on marriage. I mentioned it to my hubby and of course he went shopping and came home with FIVE new books. We looked through them together and decided to do a couple weekly and one daily. We will hold the other two and use them later. I think that is more what God is calling me to do right now.

    I don’t want to “hide” our past but I also do not want it to dominate our lives. I feel like his counselor and the one I went to, seem to want to have him reading about sex addiction daily but that seems to not let him heal and grow in Christ and move forward. I just don’t think that is healthy. I also realize that understanding sex addiction is a fairly new area of therapy. I am not in denial, I am into healing and restoration.

    I don’t want my husband to live in shame and guilt, I want us to grow together in Christ. If we all had to dwell on all our sins and read about them all day everyday how would we ever feel God’s love and forgiveness? We would be living the shame over and over. I just don’t see that as healthy for my husband. His addiction started with events out of his control at age 5. He needs to work on dealing with those events through therapy but the sex addiction which is a symptom of all that should not be held over his head. I am fine paying for the therapy if it helps him to heal and restore his self esteem and relationship with God and me. I am not fine paying a therapy that sees this as years of income by keeping him in a cycle of guilt and shame.

    We are so much better at communicating and God really walked me through the revealing in pieces. God spoke to me during those terrible days and helped me realize this was not about me. I do battle satan on a daily basis with his lies but God is my shield. God helped me to realize that yes, I could get out of the marriage with all the crap that my husband had done. However, God also told me that I may be the only thin rope that is keeping my husband from totally losing his faith and eternity. God needed me to hang in there to help my husband to get his relationship with Christ back on track. I was hurt. I was angry. However, I knew I was a vessel that God needed to use to help my husband. If I got caught up in what was done against me, to me, etc I could justify in human terms why I deserved to strike back or leave. That is not of God and that is not what he called me to do. In sickness and in health, for better or for worse….. God does not promise roses without thorns. God does not promise that this life will be easy. God does promise to walk beside us through it all. He has been with me all my life. It has not been an easy life but I know He has been here when I grieved or rejoiced, when I laughed and when I cried. He held me when I sobbed in the shower and when I sat in my car paralyzed by fear.

    Tell me if I am wrong and everyone needs to go to continuing therapy and support groups. I just don’t think it is productive for me. I feel like in regular bible studies I am holding back because they cannot handle my story and I feel like in the support group it is a gripe session, entitlement session, just negative. The support group knows where I have been but they are hurting in their own grief. I cannot help them and they cannot help me. Our help is in the Lord. He brings us joy and he protects us . He listens without judgement or agenda.

    OK, I am done now. Thanks. Let me know what you think. Am I on the right track? Isn’t our healing to be moving forward? We have a new story and the events are part of our story but we can move onward with Christ.


    • Shelley Martinkus

      November 3, 2016  |  02:27 pm

      Michelle,
      I hear you. I appreciate hearing your perspective. It gets me excited that you were brave enough to share your thoughts!!!

      I agree that if a support group or counselor is not ultimately allowing you to move forward in your healing, it probably isn’t a good fit. I think it could be hard to determine this after just one session but I also think sometimes we just know when something isn’t a good fit and not going to work.

      I think where my perspective is different is that I think we need to connect on all three levels – God, self and others. Others does include our husbands and it also includes girlfriends that can speak life into us and speak the hard truth to us in addition to giving us heaps of grace.

      Based on what you shared, I would want to make sure that you are connecting with girlfriends on that level as well. And for women that share a similar story, I have found it healing to journey with them. Because they get it!!!

      This is not to say that you will continue to talk about the betrayal until the end of times – I’ve been in a group for seven years and although betrayal is our common thread – our discussions have a completely different texture today – my group meets this evening and one of the things I asked them to hold me accountable for is finding a life coach or counselor to help me work through some insecurity issues. A month ago, I confessed to them that I was feeling duplicitous in life and what that looked like and how I could be okay being me and not trying to change for certain groups of people. Hopefully this gives you a flavor of what our discussions are like.

      You might already have a group of girlfriends that breathe life into you, btw, I realize that!

      I do NOT think support groups and counseling are for everyone. And it might just be that you are one of them. That is okay! I’d just encourage you to be open to the idea that if you get stuck doing what you are doing or if you find that you have some unresolved anger, etc. – that you know there are options out there for you.

      xoxo-Shelley


  2. Brianne

    November 6, 2016  |  06:37 am

    Michelle, thank you for your openess. Talking to one another no matter what form, does help…you just helped me. Thank you Shelley for the reply. I’ve learned 2 years past disclosure I am still on a roller coaster and just want off. That maybe I don’t need to beat myself up and think my healing won’t come until I’ve gone thru all the support groups and read all the books, but that God is meeting me right where I am at and I need to keep close to him and believe he has a plan and I am the vessel, no matter how hard the days can be, and can they ever, then I feel weak and the devil slips right in. My husband and I have lost connection several times which leaves me feeling unsure and scared, connection is so important. I can’t wait till the next blog.


  3. caroline

    November 9, 2016  |  05:12 pm

    What a great conversation. This is actually the very type of connection that can heal!

    Another important thing to remember is that connecting is not just for us and our healing, but those OTHERS we connect with.

    Even in the middle of my betrayal mess, God is using my story to tell His story of redemption. The gospel is played out in the stories of God’s people. He is using my most horrible days to let someone walking just behind me know that horrible days do happen but will also get less frequent as we move toward healing.

    As for counseling and special support groups, many professional counselors see clearly that a lot of paid therapy is actually just a concession to the fact that we are such an UNCONNECTED society. Most of us just don’t have the strong relationships in place to sustain the level of destruction that can come into a life. Not just talking sexual addiction and betrayal here, but all kinds of brokenness.

    If we look in the scriptures when it’s describing the church, you see this weird stuff about weeping with others, giving encouragement for those who are down, confessing our sins one to another, and humbly going to a brother caught in a sin. These behaviors indicate a deep level of honesty in relationships. Not everybody has this. I’d say few do.

    So, unfortunately, the only place many Christian people will ever be this honest is within counseling and therapy circles!

    This is especially true with addiction, because it masquerades as relationship and tends to crowd out any possible connection with God, others and even the self.

    Maybe we need to work harder to normalize the entire concept of recovery, see it as a much broader work than it is usually considered. RECOVERY: not just for freaks anymore.


    • Shelley Martinkus

      November 12, 2016  |  04:13 pm

      Okay, this is such a good point Caroline! Jason and I have these conversations wondering – what did we do before there were counselors? How did people work through things? Not to say counseling is bad – my husband is one after all and it’s how we put food on the table – but is there a better way? Would being in community, being bold and honest about where we are at with those closest to us be that better way? Risky, yes but also possibly the best healing work we can do.


  4. Godspeach

    November 22, 2016  |  09:06 pm

    You said it! The earlier Church was so much more intimate than the Church of today. It’s like so fake. I hate saying this, but we should be able to pray for one another, not spread issues like gossip, confront in love, and even help a broken member be restored.
    This was before counseling.
    We need community. I believe that’s why we have addictions and afflictions running rampant. Sin grows and flourishes in secrecy and darkness.


  5. Godspeach

    December 6, 2016  |  06:35 am

    I had some additional thoughts. We as spouses of men with sexual addiction must remember this: They may go back to their “vomit.” We cannot be so into mutual recovery that we have no place or no one to go to for Our Recovery.

    I believe we must put our own recovery first. I cannot save my husband, and lose my mind or my life to his recovery or the marriage. They have lived a duplicitous life for years, and lies are the lady to go.

    So, they can be the best actors. My husband seemed to be doing well for a long time, ( groups, church, bible study, therapy, doing things with the kids, talking to me) but I discovered he was still hiding very important things about his life.

    We did devotions together, too. It amazes me with the lying that they can continue to do.
    I’m just being real. Because I was already suffering from betrayal trauma and PTSD, and now Adrenal Fatigue issues.

    From this I realized how deeply intrenched sin is! My own struggles with disordered eating shows me this truth.
    God is powerful enough to help us look “All the Ugly” of addiction in the face without the denial. Shame and guilt serve a purpose. They alert us that we have done something wrong and we need to address it. We have to get to the core of what we have done, and confess that to God and some one safe, and get support to transform our lives.
    I realized I cannot be God to my husband no matter what he decides. I just don’t believe he will heal without other healthy men or good resources such as books, videos, or intensives, and a counselor who gets it. If he could, we would not have been here today.
    Bible Study is so important, but it doesn’t focus on an Addicts issue. I see it as a necessity, but alone…I see relapse or no sustained growth, or real healing.
    Just some thoughts from Another one who has been through it…


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