New Group Starting in December

Just a quick note to let you know there is a new group starting December 2, 2015!  Can you believe it, December is two weeks away!  This is a fast-paced group that will be meeting every week.  Read on for more details!

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Who is this for?:  This is for any woman that finds herself struggling to heal after disclosure or discovery of her husband’s sexual integrity issue.  You might be married or separated.  You might be 30 years into the process or 3 months into the process.  Chances are, you are feeling alone and haven’t told many friends as to the reality of your situation.  More than anything, you desire to be healed and to find a safe place to share your story.

Start date:  December 2, 2015.

How often:  This group will meet every Wednesday from 9-10:30am, MST, via conference call. (This is slightly different than the other groups offered which meet every other week.)

Facilitator:  I am so excited to have Connie Spiegel facilitating this group.  You can find out more about her here.  This lady is amazing, you guys.  I can’t even begin to say enough about her.  She and her husband have counseled with Jason, she has been a part of one of my groups, she is a certified coach and APSATS trained – just to name a bit about her.  More than any of that, though, she has the biggest heart for women who share a similar story to hers.

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Format:  The group will do a combination of check-ins and curriculum.  The check-in is the heartbeat of the group where each participant shares from their soul in an effort to be fully known.  The curriculum we use (in workbook form) is a compilation of the material I have used with my groups for the last 5-6 years.

Price:  $200/month.  At this time, I do not have any scholarships to give away.  If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the scholarship fund, please let me know.

Number of spots:  The group is limited to 5-6 women.  You do not have to live in Denver to be apart of this group as the group will meet via conference call.

Initial Commitment:  6 months – I’m happy to explain further why I ask for a six month commitment.

I’m interested, what do I do?:  Please email me if you are interested in this group.  We will set up a time to chat over the phone and I can answer any questions you might have and get a better feel for if the group will be a fit for you.

If you want additional information about groups, head here.  If you are interested in a group but Wednesday morning won’t work for you, please let me know – as I have spots open up every couple of months!

Book Review – “Wired for Intimacy” by William Struthers

Jason brought home this book sometime late last year and told me he thought it was a decent read.  I decided I’d give it a shot even though I was still trying to steer clear of anything mildly triggering.  I had just finished Your Sexually Addicted Spouse and was able to keep myself grounded – so I decided to dig in.

I just flipped back through the book and oh how I wish I had written this review shortly after finishing it.  I almost decided to not write the book review – however, I feel like this book is an important one for any wife that finds themselves married to a husband with a sexual addiction or sexual integrity issue.

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So, I’m pressing on and writing the review.  Here we go…

Name of the book:  Wired for Intimacy.  How pornography hijacks the male brain.  By William M. Struthers.

Trigger level:  Low.  Of the books that I’ve reviewed on the website, this is one of the books with a lower overall trigger level.  (You can read a little bit more as to why I include the trigger level here.)

What I liked about this book:

  • The author’s no non-sense stance on pornography.  Here are a couple of quotes:  “Pornography is the consumption of sexual poison that becomes part of the fabric of the mind.”, “Pornography takes human sexuality out of its natural context – intimacy between two human beings – and makes it a product to be bought and sold.”, “I view pornography as an institutional evil that preys on the disaffected, wounded and desperate members of society.”
  • I loved the author’s explanation of what happens neurochemically when the male brain is exposed to pornography.  He likens the neurochemical release of dopamine with a sex addiction to the release of dopamine with heroin or cocaine use.
  • After explaining in great detail how pornography hijacks the brain, he then spends the latter half of the book discussing what it looks like, as a man, to have his needs met through intimate relationship with God and others.  This is more of a vision-casting, in a sense.  He also discusses his concern with placing too much of an emphasis on sexual intercourse.  He says it shouldn’t be “elevated” to a “holy of holies” but rather used as a “means by which a husband and wife can share the journey of sanctification together…and also the means by which God can give the blessing of children.”

What I didn’t like about this book:

  • Practically nothing.  This book was incredibly affirming as to the damaging effects of pornography use.
  • The second half of the book (the book is split into two sections) wasn’t as insightful to me – primarily because he spends a lot of time talking about masculinity in general.  So, if you are pressed for time – just read section I of the book.

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Additional Thoughts:

  • I wanted to end this book review with my favorite passage from the book:  “Men share with women the same basic needs of humanity.  The need for intimacy, to be known and to know, to be close, affirmed, loved; all are human needs.  The need for intimacy requires that we understand who we are and share that with those we long to be known by.  As we become more intimate, the other speaks into us things about ourselves that we could not possibly know from the inside.  We allow the one we are intimate with to discover us in ways we could not do on our own, and we do so with them.  It is a process that develops and deepens over time.  We know ourselves more fully because we are known more fully.  The intimacy that we have with God and with others enables us to move along the journey toward either sanctification or depravity.”  What a beautiful description of what is potentially awaiting each of us that has been robbed by a sexual addiction.

Have you read this book?  And if so, what are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear.  xo-Shelley

 

Book Review – Mending a Shattered Heart Edited by Stefanie Carnes

Happy Monday and Happy June!  Just want you to know that I care for each and everyone of you that reads this blog.  Would love to hear from you…

Okay, so here is the back story on this book:  I enjoyed reading Out of the Shadows so much that I came across this book when I was looking for others that Patrick Carnes has written.  This book is actually partly written and then edited by his daughter, Stefanie Carnes.

Here is my review:

Name of the Book:  Mending a Shattered Heart:  A guide for partners of sex addicts.  Edited by Stefanie Carnes

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Trigger Level:  Low to Medium.  You can read a little more about why I include the trigger level in this post.  The first half of the book had minimal triggers but the second half had several chapters with triggers.  Keep reading to learn more.

What I liked about the book:  The first half of this book was very clear and direct about what it looks like early on in the recovery process for a wife that has been sexually betrayed by her husband.  Below is a sampling of what I really appreciated:

  • I liked the conciseness of the definition of a sexual addiction.  Here it is:  “Sex addiction progresses, gets out of control, becomes a compulsive pattern, and takes over the addict’s life.  …it is an unhealthy relationship to any sexual experience (thoughts, fantasies, activities, etc.) that a person continues to engage in despite adverse consequences.”
  • I liked their explanation of what it might look like to have a sexual addiction:  “Typically sex addicts have high shame and remorse around their behavior, feelings of despair, and commonly a history of trauma…  They can be depressed, anxious and have difficulties with intimacy and attachment.  They can also have a high propensity for being suicidal.”
  • In regards to disclosure – “Addicts need to remember that in the long run, it’s the behaviors not the disclosure that led to the negative consequences.”  (I LOVE this.  So true.)
  • And check this out:  “One of the most common reasons addicts enter recovery from sex addiction is the potential breakup of a relationship.  This means you have more power than you think you do.”  (I see this time and time again.  When a wife finally puts her foot down, has had enough, demands change or else…  That’s when a husband gets serious.)
  • In regards to making big decisions or any decisions for that matter:  “Nothing major the first year.”

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What I didn’t like about this book:  This book is divided into two parts.  The first part consists of material for all “partners” of sex addicts.  The second half of the book discusses specific situations.  As I mentioned earlier, there were a fair amount of triggers in the second half of the book.  I’m not going to go into detail about my concerns with the second half of the book, but I will say that I felt like the book was taken too far and covered too much detail in certain chapters.  It’s for this reason, that I would encourage you to read only what applies to you in the second half of the book and leave the rest.  Also, proceed with caution with the second half of the book.  If you start to sense you are feeling triggered, it’s okay to stop.

Additional Thoughts:  The first half of this book was really insightful for me.  I highly recommend reading all of part one.  Keep in mind that this book is written from a secular point of view as well as with a strong 12-step influence.  With that being said, it might resonate more with some of you than others.

Would love to know if you have read this book and any additional thoughts you might have.  xoxo-Shelley

 

 

Book Review – Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend

I mentioned recently my love for books.  Although not every book I read is geared toward wives working through the aftermath after being betrayed by their husband – I try to read quite a few of the books out there that are relevant.

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Earlier this year, i re-read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.  This was a book that was recommended to me during the beginning stages of our healing process some twelve years ago.  I thought it might be helpful for me to re-read it as I was preparing material on boundaries for the groups I facilitate.  So here is my review:

Name of the Book:  Boundaries:  When to say yes, when to say no to take control of your life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Trigger Level:  Low.  You can read a little more about why I include the trigger level in this post.  If you are working hard at minimizing triggers, in my opinion, this is a very safe read.

What I liked about this book:  I’m so glad I chose to re-read this book.  I just flipped through it in preparation for this blog post and I can’t even begin to tell you how many sentences I underlined and the number or notes in the margins.  Here are a couple of excerpts that really stuck out to me:

  • “Remember that a boundary always deals with yourself, not the other person.  You are not demanding that your spouse do something – even respect your boundaries.  You are setting boundaries to say what you will do or will not do.  Only these kinds of boundaries are enforceable, for you do have control over yourself.” (p158)  {This is so much easier said than done.  But I appreciate what they are saying here and know I need to keep this close to heart.}
  • “The ability to use anger to distinguish between self and others is a boundary.”  (p70)  {I’ve never thought of anger as a boundary.}
  • “Don’t even try to start setting limits until you have entered into deep, abiding attachments with people who will love you no matter what.”  (p64)  {Ahhh…I love this, it reminds me of the importance of being in a healthy group.  A place where you belong and where you are fully known and fully know another.}
  • “The past is your ally in repairing your present and ensuring a better future.”  (p62)  {I think this is a great perspective.  It re-frames the mistakes I’ve made and the pain that I have endured.}

In re-reading this book, I was also reminded that boundaries are healthy for all of us to have.  Boundaries aren’t just important in the after-math of sexual betrayal.  Maybe I will brush-up on my boundary skills by reading this book once a decade or so!

What I didn’t like about this book:  It’s a little long.  I get antsy when a book is more than about 250 pages and this one is in small print and close to 300 pages.  Otherwise, well worth the time.

Additional Thoughts:  Ladies, listen.  If you are reading this and you haven’t read Boundaries, put it in your queue.  It’s a must-read.  Setting boundaries is rather difficult so learn from the experts!

To accept and then to love {An update on Insecurity – A 2015 Intentional (#2)}

I’ve been working through my insecurities over the last couple of months.  You can read all about it here and here.  As I look back, I believe my first big breakthrough was being able to name that the emotions I was feeling stemmed from insecurity.  Back to naming it and claiming it.  My second big breakthrough came when I realized that I didn’t need to cure my insecurity overnight.  Rather, I decided to give myself space to breathe, to think, to process the feelings within; label them as stemming from insecurity (or not), and sit in my awareness.  No need to quick fix at this stage!

So here I am.  Awareness is my friend.  I’m trying to accept me even when I feel insecure.  Even when I make mistakes.  This is hard for a recovering perfectionist.  And guess what – there is so much freedom in not having to be perfect!

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As I’ve sat in my awareness, I’ve conceptualized two other breakthroughs that I’d like toshare with y’all.  These two concepts intermingle together so hang with me while I explain:

I wrote in my journal recently that “insecurity isn’t so much about changing me but embracing, celebrating and loving who I am.”  (We’ll call this breakthrough #3.) There is relief in knowing I don’t need to change myself to live security well.  I don’t need to buy a new outfit.  I don’t need to work through my jealousy issues.  I don’t need to lose five pounds.  I don’t need to…  You get the point.  Living security well means not only accepting myself, both the great things and the not so great things; but also loving myself just the way God made me.

I have to say, it’s one thing for me to accept myself (which I believe I am working towards during this season).  It’s a whole other thing to love myself.  For me to love my freckles.  To love my eyes-that-are-so-sensitive-that-turn-red-so-easily.  To love my wayward hair.  And those are just the outward parts of me that are hard to accept much less love.  Then there’s the inside.  To love my sensitive heart.  To love my propensity towards jealousy.  (And I don’t even know that that last one is even Biblical, but you know what I mean!)  To love my desire to go deep.

The second recent breakthrough (otherwise called breakthrough #4) is this:  How is it that I can get so distracted thinking I need to look, act, be like someone else… all the while, when I sit in stillness, I realize that I’m quite alright with how God made me?!  How does that happen?  It seems I forget so easily my uniqueness.  And what would it look like to stay grounded in those moments when insecurity seems to be spiraling out of control.  How can I remind myself that I’m okay being just me.  Not anyone else… but simply me?

As I move towards not only accepting all the parts of me, but loving all the parts of me; I’d like to think that I won’t get so distracted with thinking I “should” act, look, be like someone else.

So here I am. Naming insecurity.  Sitting in awareness.  Working towards accepting all the different facets of me and overtime desiring to love all the different facets of me.

That’s my update.

What about you – those parts of your outward self or your inward self that you’ve never quite accepted – do you think it’s possible to not only accept them but to also LOVE them?  For me, could I start to adore my freckles?  My wrinkles?  My sensitive heart?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Book Review – Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes

I heart reading.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to love myself well.  About three years ago, I started keeping track of the books I was reading.  It’s been super fun to keep track of my reads.  It’s also really helped me stay engaged in my process as I continue to take steps forward in my healing, in my relationships, and in living a life that counts.

To that end, I wanted to start sharing with you guys some of the books that I think are worth reading as well as those that might not be worth it.  For a wife that is barely keeping her head above water, having a bit of direction in this area can be critical.  So be looking for more book reviews in the weeks and months ahead.

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I also think it’s important for wives at any stage of this process to be aware of the fact that books can be triggering.  Some more than others.  Just to be clear, a trigger is anything that reminds us of the past (childhood, disclosure, adulthood, etc.) and causes us to react.  With that in mind, I will rank each book’s trigger level:  low, medium or high; along with my reason why.

Okay, let’s get started!

Name of Book:  Out of the Shadows:  Understanding Sexual Addiction

Trigger level:  High.  Throughout the book, Carnes uses graphic details to describe the sex addict.  This is not a book that I would have been able to digest early on in our recovery.  I do not recommend this book to anyone that is finding themselves having trouble staying grounded or that is in the early stages of their healing process.

What I liked about the book:  This book brought me to a new level of clarity about my past as well as Jason’s past.  For instance, Carnes (2001) states that the abandonment is almost always a part of a sexual addicts childhood.  At the heart of abandonment is the feeling (whether perceived or real) of not being wanted.  Carnes (2001) also talked about negative belief patterns and the domino effect that comes from them.  He lists four negative beliefs for both a sex addict and a co-addict.  Although not every single one of them resonated with me, I did resonate with the third negative belief that basically states, “I don’t need anybody but me.”  This was so true for me pre-disclosure as well as six years into our process when I made a vow that I wouldn’t trust anybody but myself.  I wouldn’t even trust God.  If he had allowed this to happen to me, who knows what else he might allow.  All I needed was me.

What I didn’t like about this book:  I definitely didn’t like the graphic details that Carnes used to describe the sex addict and his/her behaviors.  I could feel myself tensing up reading some of these details.  I was also hesitant to read what Carnes would say about a co-addict.  I’m not a big fan of labels.  I must say, though, that reading his description of a co-addict with an open mind resonated with me and I didn’t feel completely defensive with his description of a co-addict.

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Additional Thoughts:  I think this book is very appropriate to read later on in the process once a wife starts to work through some of her wounds from the past.  This book isn’t necessarily a go-to book early on in the healing process, as I think the trigger level is too high for it to do a lot of good.  There are other books that can help educate a wife that aren’t near as triggering.

What about you?  Have you read this book?  Would love to hear your thoughts on if it was a helpful read.  xo-Shelley

 

Two new groups starting in March!

I’m so excited to announce that there are two new groups starting in March with two ladies that I dearly love!  Here are the details:

Group #1 will meet every other Tuesday starting on March 3, 2014.  It will meet from 6-7:30pm, MST.  (***Please adjust for your time zone, so this group starts at 8pm EST, 7pm CST, 5pm PST.)  This group will be led by Susan Finnefrock.

Group #2 will meet every other Tuesday starting on March 3, 2014.  It will meet from 7-8:30pm, MST.  (***Please adjust for your time zone, so this group starts at 9pm EST, 8pm CST, 6pm PST).  This group will be led by Maggie Cruise.

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Both groups will meet via conference call and will do a combination of curriculum and weekly check-in’s.  Click here for more information on the ethos of the group.

Susan and Maggie both share a similar story to mine and to yours.  They both have been a part of one of my groups from the past and they continue to regularly meet with their individual support groups.  I’m SO excited for them to join me in supporting women taking their next step on this journey.  Rest assured, you will love them and get a ton out of your time together.

Next Steps:
If you want to be considered for one of these two groups, please email me or leave a comment including your group preference.  If you want to join a group but this day/time does not work for you, please let me know so that I can put you on the wait list for the next opportunity.

These groups are first-come, first serve and are limited to 5-6 women per group.  I have about 5 spaces left between the two groups.

Cost
$75 per month.

I know it takes a lot of courage to reach out and ask for help.  Know that you are not alone!  I promise, getting support is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

 

2015 Intentionals

I heart fresh starts.  Whether it’s a simple as a new day or as complicated as when Jason and I chose to try to heal our marriage.  And maybe that’s really at the core of why I love fresh starts.  Because it reminds me of the fact that God can do anything.  He worked a miracle in my life when He paved the way for Jason and I to redeem our marriage.  I’m not saying it wasn’t incredibly painful or difficult.  Because it was.

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I see starting a new year as a total fresh start, too.  An opportunity for us to look back at the year we are leaving and think through what we loved, what we hated.  What we got right (and want to do more of) and what we got terribly wrong and need to readjust.  It’s also a time to reflect, practice gratitude and be thankful for the many blessings bestowed upon – us big or small from the year before.

I’m asking for you to carve out time, soon, to think about what you desire for 2015 as well as to reflect on 2014.  Use the thoughts in the preceding paragraph or the questions here to get started.

I mentioned here some of the things I’m grateful for from 2014.  And now I want to share some of the big things I’m planning to work on in 2015.

1.  Insecurity.  I thought I had nipped this a couple of years ago.  But just like most things, it’s a process and it’s dynamic.  Always changing.  I guess you could say I’m sitting in the ebb of the ebb and flow of security.  I haven’t done much about it other than to name it.  And know that it’s something I need to work through.  It’s a focus for me this year.  What about you, is God calling you to look at a core need, like security, and work through what it looks like to live it well?

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2.  Being Intentional with my time.  Primarily when it comes to my family and when it comes to media, specifically my phone.  This year, I want to make sure I am soaking in my little boys.  Jason and I won’t start the “momma-dadda clock” over.  We are done having babies.  With that decision, comes a reality – they are growing up before my eyes.  I’m not sure what exactly it looks like to be more intentional with them, but I know time is not on my side.  And that’s where my phone comes in.  I’ve already cut way back on TV, as in I probably watch an hour of TV/month.  (If you love TV, don’t feel bad.  Trust me, I could win an award for the amount of TV I’ve watched in my lifetime.)  This is simply my way of making more time for things that are more important to me like reading, writing, playing with my littles and connecting with Jason.  And yet, I think there is more time I can carve out for better things.  What would it look like to retire my smart phone and instead have a dumb phone?  What would it look like to not check my phone every 10 minutes?  These are questions I’d like to answer and hopefully in the process, find a better balance when it comes to being intentional with my time.  What about you, is there anything you’d like to be more intentional about in 2015?  Maybe related to relationships or related to how you spend your time?

3.  Loving me as much as I love my family and friends.  I was with Harrison and Norman yesterday and we walked past a Whole Foods.  I noticed on the window, there was a saying.  It said something like this:  “What if you chose to love yourself just as much as you love others?”  I loved it.  And I realized that it marries up with some of my intentionals for 2015.  What does it look like to put fuel in my body that will make my body skip for joy?  What does it look like to take care of myself just as much as I take care of the needs of my little boys?  What does it look like to encourage myself as much as I encourage Jason or a friend?  I’m pondering this right now and already have some specific ideas of things I need to do different this year to love myself well.  What about for you?  How can you love yourself just as much as you love your littles?  In what areas do you not love yourself well and what could it look like to love yourself well in those areas?

I’d so love to hear what specifically you are thankful for from 2014 and what you are working towards in this New Year.  And I pinkie-promise to keep you guys posted on how I progress as I focus in on these three areas of my life!

Heart,

Shelley