Reporting To You From the Trench

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

My plan was to talk a bit more about self care in quarantine but as I was writing away – I realized it was feeling inauthentic because right now – I’m struggling.  So here goes…

I wrote recently about getting back on my feet after making some mistakes early on in this quarantine life.

Welp – it appears I have taken some steps backwards and I’m lying flat again.  Are any of you there with me?  It’s called quarantine fatigue and it’s a real thing.

I was driving to our office yesterday to shoot some videos with Jason and I was reflecting on all the balls I am dropping – I was thinking about all the roles I play and how I am feeling like a failure – as a wife, mom, friend, teacher, daughter… the list goes on and the voices were loud.

This post is challenging for me to write because I truly feel like I am in the thick of being down in the trench.  It’s so much easier to share after we are back on steady ground versus from the depths of despair.  Especially in this over-edited world we live in.

As I literally process this all out loud here – I am trying to sort through – what isn’t working?  What happened?  How did I end up here yet again?

Maybe this is a good place to start – reflection – and from there we can create a plan for how to work our way back out of the trench.  This isn’t the time to fix – rather, this is the time to explore and listen to ourselves.

Identify How The Heck We Ended Up Here

(Do you like how I am saying we versus me?  Maybe I feel more comforted knowing there are others out there in my shoes.  I also think I am desperately needing community and to know I’m not alone.)

#1 – So as I look back over the last 2-3 weeks, one of the things I am identifying as a challenge has been not having some rest and reprieve over the weekend.  Over the last two weekends, 3 of the 4 weekend days has been taken up with good things (Jason did an on-line EMB, Mother’s Day, Jason’s birthday) – but things that prevented me from really being able to rest and recoup and have white space on the calendar.

#2 – I’m also noticing this need for in-person connection with others outside my little family.  I am desperately wanting to socialize with friends.  I see photos from before quarantine and I see the way people are close together, without masks on, and something in my heart pauses and yearns for those days to return.  I don’t just want this, I need this.

#3 – This is WAY personal – but I decided a couple of weeks ago to taper once again off of my anti-depressant.  (I have slowly been tapering off some meds for the last couple of years following this lovely episode.)  I usually take it super slow when I start the taper but I didn’t go so slow this time.  I know this is playing in.

#4 – Margin – I didn’t honestly have much margin prior to March 13th when this all started impacting my day to day.  Instead of intentionally taking things off my plate – what did I do?  I ended up just adding on-line school and full-time parenting (versus having 30 hours a week of space) into my already packed schedule.  This is causing the days to run together because of the constancy.

#5 – Another vulnerable area for me to share – body image.  I really didn’t think I would be impacted by the quarantine-15 but I’m afraid that’s not the case.  This is week 11 in quarantine and let me just tell you – it’s impacted me physically.  Because of my history with an eating disorder; crash diets / fad diets / almost any diet doesn’t work for me.  And while I have done a lot of work to heal in this area – there are still times when it will rear it’s ugly head.  And this is one of those times.  I’m feeling frustrated, flabby and powerless to change it right now.


I’m thinking about Joseph’s life right now – specifically the time he spent in prison.  In my mind, the prison was dark, musty, cellar-like – a place where he truly had little to no information as to when his time there would end.

He was in the trenches.

And it’s scary in the trenches because we don’t have that 360 degree view.  We have less control and can’t see what’s around the corner (or in trench speak: he didn’t know what was coming from up above).  I hate this.

What I love, however, about the story of Joseph is that even while he was at his lowest point – God was with him.

In addition, I love what Kelly Minter says in her Bible Study – Finding God Faithful – she says – We can’t always see what God is doing, but just like Joseph –  we can choose to be faithful and trust in Him (p53).

This is my hope for all of us – that we would remain faithful and continue to put our hope and our trust in Him.  God will show us the way.

As always – I would so love to hear from you!  We are in this together and if you are standing on level ground – I want to celebrate with you.  If you are in the trench or making your way down (or back up), know you are not alone.

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

28 thoughts on “Reporting To You From the Trench

  1. Holly

    May 23, 2020  |  12:51 pm

    Oh Shelley, how I love your transparency and vulnerability Thank you for sharing where you’ve been! I, too, have been in the trenches. Def needed encouragement today! Amen!! We are not alone and we can CHOOSE to to be faithful and trust in Him.
    Hugs to you

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 3, 2020  |  09:22 am

      Hi Holly – Thank you so much for stepping out and coming into the circle with me and saying – “me too”. I love what you said about our choices – I have been thinking that will be my next blog post (over the last week, as I have been contemplating where I am at) – we shall see. But want you to know that I am grateful for your comments – they mean the world to me! xoxo – Shelley

  2. Karlee

    May 23, 2020  |  01:17 pm

    I haven’t been on your blog in quite some time but today I saw your email pop up with this post and it was exactly what I needed. I have been in the trench all week with this being the week of the anniversary of finding out the truth. Plus all the added stress of the world. My triggers have been out of control and all of your recent blog posts are identical to how I am feeling. I feel in the trench. I feel trapped. I feel like things are going no where after 3 years of recovery work with my husband. I feel like I can only see the negatives. I feel like I have no purpose. Just lost and hopeless. What you said about anti depressants has been on my mind too. I tapered off mine in February this year and I always feel attacked about it. I didn’t like being on them- didn’t want to feel like I had to rely on something else to heal me. Now since I’ve been off them and the triggers are so much higher I just feel insane and I’m constantly wondering why I can’t function like a normal human without them. Why I can’t let God heal my mind instead. It’s comforting to see you are struggling with similar things like me. You are not alone. And I’m so thankful for you and your ministry! If I didn’t have one of your support groups I wouldn’t have gotten through this week. So just remember, you matter!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 4, 2020  |  12:24 pm

      Oh Karlee – You are brave to share your heart here. I love this community of women! I just want to say – it’s okay for you to need medication. You are going through so much and there are a lot of women that need them to get through. It never takes the place of healing – it can however help. I’ve never been opposed to meds – but just never thought I would need them. And now I know differently. While I would love to get off of the final med I was put on 6 years ago – I also know I might have to be on something for the rest of my life. Wishing you peace today and that you are able to figure out what is best for you. xo – Shelley

  3. Joy

    May 23, 2020  |  01:30 pm

    Love the Joseph reference, Shelley. Such an apt analogy, and as tired (and confused, and grieving, and angry) as I am of all the irregularity and uncertainty, surely he was in a worse situation …. and although the Bible only records his faith and trust in God, surely even he occasionally despaired. But ultimately he chose trust, and so can I.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 4, 2020  |  12:27 pm

      Ah!!! Thanks Joy for what you are saying here. Yes, surely Joseph as well felt a lot of despair! It IS a choice. That has really been something I am continuing to remind myself of – what do I have control over? What choices can I make? Thank you for your response! xoxo – Shelley

  4. Suzi

    May 23, 2020  |  01:44 pm

    Love this and love you! Whew, way to go for being vulnerable and transparent! “Trench speak”…what a great comment there. He is with us, before us, beside us, all around us. Immanuel=God with us…will we be with Him? That’s His invitation every day. Praying for you, dear one!


    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 4, 2020  |  07:24 pm

      Thank you Suzi for your encouragement. xoxo – Shelley

  5. Jessie

    May 23, 2020  |  03:58 pm

    Youer willingness to be vulnerable in real time is such a gift to others in the trench. I was just telling someone yesterday what a shame it is that so often in recovery we only share our struggle to rise once we’ve sanitized it and made an inspirational story of it like Brene Brown talks about. But what is equally if not more powerful are the people brave enough to share while they’re actively right in the middle of the struggle to rise. Be it a small struggle or a big one. Something related to betrayal or not. Because that’s relatable. And so encouraging to others looking for someone to relate to when they’re not able yet to relate to the sanitized inspirational complete story. When it seems like that sanitized story could never be their own story. You do vulnerability and relatability so well Shelley. You’re a beacon of realness and hope in a fake sanitized world. I salute your messy, frustrated, flabby feeling, isolated, overwhelmed self. I see you.

    ~Currently Laying Amidst Laundry Mountain In My Unmade Bed Feeling Like A Human Trash Heap

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 4, 2020  |  07:47 pm

      I love you Jessie! I love your wit, your humor, the way you write. I love that you were laying in a laundry mountain and feeling like a human trash heap! Bahaha!!!!! Here is to the non-sanitized version. ‘Cause we are all just trying to make it at this point. I don’t know anyone that is on a floatie in their pool sipping on a pina colada. But boy, do I ever dream of that moment… xoxo – Shelley

  6. Debra Harris

    June 1, 2020  |  07:03 am

    Thank you so much for this. I was talking to a friend yesterday who reminded me (after I shared that I’m not sure how much more of this I can do) that this whole situation is just not normal. It’s not normal for kids to be with parents this much, not normal for wives to quarantined with husbands, not normal to not have access to the various things I do for self care and sanity and healing. It helps to be reminded of that…and yet I still really struggle to hold on to the “this too shall pass” (because it seems so relentless and with no clear end).
    I think of my recovery community and my other communities as a sort of insurance policy…one day where i am at the end of my rope someone else may not be and can help pull me up just a little…or if they are also frazzled we can understand each other and feel less alone. But it takes for us to be vulnerable and honest to share what we really have in our hearts and I’m grateful you did that here. All those phrases like “we are only as sick as our secrets” or “the only way out is through” are so true and yet it’s hard for me to not feel the pressure to be “further along” than those who are newer to recovery.
    Sometimes it’s because I want to be a model of that it gets better,…sometimes i just want to help… sometimes i am fighting the deep knowing in my heart that it’s hard to know i will forever have good days and bad days, good years and bad years. Sometimes I’m afraid I’m not up for the journey. And I love that you use the Joseph example to remind me it’s ok if I’m not…I can just keep doing the next right thing (which sometimes is serving noodles and string cheese as a meal and going back to tv watching!). I don’t have to be ok. I don’t have to have the answers. I can surrender my lack of understanding and just try to be gentle with myself. Melody Beattie talks about the inbetween spaces not being without purpose. I have to remind myself of that.
    I have tried to reinvent self care -including guided meditations from youtube (I like progressive muscle relaxation ones among others), making a few meals at a time (and doubling them!) and then serving left overs for a few nights, and really trying to meet friends (10 feet apart) in parks or driveways or yards. Because this loneliness is killer. And there is no substitute for time with a supportive female friend who understands what this time is like for moms. I send you a big hug and thank you for sharing in a way that opened me up too.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 4, 2020  |  07:51 pm

      awe! Debra!!! Your response brought tears to my eyes. Yes, yes yes. I hear you. I hear the uncertainty, the holding on – wondering when it will end, the acceptance of the pain. I love that you are reinventing self-care (that is so awesome) and I love that you are finding ways to still connect with your friends. Thank you for not running away when I bring my messy to the table but rather saying – me too girl, me too. xo – Shelley

  7. caroline

    June 2, 2020  |  04:39 am

    Have hope my friend, the sun will shine again. Our state has opened up and most people are acting very normal , only perhaps a bit cleaner.

    I am with you on losing all margin, and not knowing what to do next. I’m putting self care on my Christmas list…and I’m probably being optimistic.

    I knew many people in my various circles who were dealing with the double grief of losing loved ones during a time where you could neither visit hospitals nor have funerals. And now I have joined in their wailing. My own mother checked herself out after 15 days alone in the hospital and now she has come home to die. So grateful so be able to hold her hand again, but my heart is broken and I am drowning in guilt.

    “…when sorrows like sea billows roll…”

    Joseph is a good one to look to as he had so much loss and so many reasons to despair. But in knowing how his story moves, we can hope in that day when we too can look back and say what was meant for evil God has used for good. God is with us, and He does not forsake.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 4, 2020  |  07:56 pm

      my friend – your mom… no. I want to protect you from any more hurt and pain – haven’t you done your share of grief these last few years? Thank you for being you and sharing about your mom and allowing others to join in your sorrow. Your heart is broken – I wish I could hug you tight and look you in the eyes and just tell you that I see you. There is a time for everything and for now – it’s wailing. My heart is with you. xo – Shelley

  8. caroline

    June 2, 2020  |  04:53 am

    for us

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 4, 2020  |  07:57 pm

      beautiful Caroline. I am listening to it now. Thank you.

  9. Melissa

    June 6, 2020  |  08:28 am

    I totally feel this too. I’m slowly navigating my way through the fatigue and feelings of powerlessness. It’s a constant work but I’m so glad that our God is good and he’s always faithful. And the feelings of flab are real too! I had to size up my clothes recently. In complete honesty it’s making me hate my body. Which affects way more of life than I like. Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing. You’re not alone!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 13, 2020  |  08:26 am

      Melissa!!! So great to hear from you. And thank you for what you are saying – I told Jason last night that I have some body hate going on and I really need to reframe this flab situation and see how amazing my body is: carrying and then pushing out three babies, healing from post-partum depression, heck – healing from betrayal! It’s a LOT for one body to take and it’s so much more than what we see. #continuingthework. xo – Shelley

  10. Teresa

    June 8, 2020  |  01:10 pm

    Thank you for the reminder about Joseph. Sometimes, I also feel trapped in a prison, wondering if there will be freedom from this pain. I’m trying to take care of myself, while also recognizing that my husband is medicating his pain and can’t seem to stop. Such a mixture of emotions; love, sadness, defeat, hope. We are still working on recovery. I will count my blessings and focus on our hope in Christ. This verse came to mind.

    “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3 KJV

    I’m going to focus on this verse this week. Thanks you for sharing your victories and struggles with us. You are such a blessing.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 13, 2020  |  08:23 am

      Teresa – It’s great to hear from you. Thank you for sharing the verse and also sharing more about what you are grappling with. I know others will resonate with what you have said. Know you are loved. xo – Shelley

  11. Julia

    June 8, 2020  |  06:30 pm

    Shelley, I started reading a book you had written probably the years ago already and stopped because the pain of my husband refusing to accept responsibility for his actions made my heart she’d in pieces every time I heard of a husband choosing humbleness over the blame game.
    I read some other things and worked with my counselor, had a brief period where I led myself to believe that I could move on in spite of unresolved trauma. But the last month has been an emotional hell including double the visits to my counselor. Some of it is from unresolved issues between my Mom and I (she passed away Dec 24, 2019) but mainly because I look at my prospects for the future and all I see is continued emotional distance from my husband who still refuses to get help because he doesn’t have a sexual addiction, he just thinks like all men think (according to him).
    He went to couples therapy and briefly individual therapy a while ago, but he stopped once he began being held accountable for changes he said he could work that never happened.
    My guilt and shame from having been married twice, both times to men exactly like my Dad is eating me from the inside out.
    I haven’t been able to find a group of Go-To Girls because of my fear of not being understood and having a history of trusting the wrong people (all professing Christians) and relationships where I can be understood ending in me always being the “strong one”.
    One day maybe I can live in victory, now has not been that day…..

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 13, 2020  |  08:21 am

      Hi Julia – Thank you for sharing your heart. I hear you. So many layers it seems and hurt digging up the pain of hurt from the past. Sometimes it can feel like it will never end. I just want you to know that there is no condemnation here. We all need Jesus and we all have our suit case that we are dragging behind us packed with our stories, our losses, our choices that we don’t even understand. Please know that we all have those regrets – like divorce or maybe it’s something else. All that to say – you are not alone. The antidote to shame is intimacy – and that’s exactly what you did by sharing your heart here. Great work. xo – Shelley

  12. Muchalone

    June 8, 2020  |  08:40 pm

    Thanks for your honesty…I continue to wonder if I can possibly win this war, since I lose so many battles…
    This is a long haul…so many needs in this house and never a moment to just be…because there is too much need and I cannot ever get it all done.
    Total lack of privacy means I can’t even grieve without an audience…and grief does not want to be on stage.
    How is it that I need more time and yet I have too much time here?
    Too much and not enough…alone and altogether…maybe the opposing feelings are exhausting me as much as the perpetual neediness of my clan.
    Thank you for being real…and including us…inviting us to be present.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 13, 2020  |  08:14 am

      Isn’t that so true – grief rarely if ever wants a stage. So difficult for those that are in the depths of grief. And I am SO with you on the alone time and then feeling alone. I realized last night that I just want to be alone – I feel like I haven’t been alone since March! And yet, I as well feel more alone right now than I usually do. Whew, this is a lot. Thank you for your words. xo – shelley

  13. Erin

    June 10, 2020  |  09:46 am

    me too. me too. me too. You put words on things I sometimes struggle to articulate myself. THANK YOU!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 13, 2020  |  08:12 am

      You are so welcome Erin! You are not alone! xoxo

  14. Teresa Schoeneman

    June 15, 2020  |  03:55 pm

    This week has been better. Thank you for this resource where we can come for encouragement on those nasty trigger days (and non trigger days)! Joseph is such a great example of endurance. I’m hoping that our experience can be used for good as well.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 27, 2020  |  03:03 pm

      Teresa – I am so grateful to hear that this week is going better for you! That makes my heart happy. I feel like the last couple of weeks have been better for me, too. xo – Shelley

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