Giving all our Emotions a Seat at the Table (not just the pretty ones)

I was walking home from school this morning and I was thinking about a relationship that I think has permanently ended.  It made me feel super sad.  I don’t remember exactly what I said to myself – but essentially I shut down giving myself space to feel sadness, disappointment and frustration.

My default setting is to try to talk myself out of my emotions, at least the negative ones and if I’m honest, sometimes the positive ones as well.  Not sure if this is programming from childhood or part of my DNA (I’m a one on the Enneagram and sitting right next to the nine – I have to admit that I thrive when there is harmony) or maybe it’s something else.  But it’s there and active and alive and something I have to continually be aware of.

When the negative emotions start to surface – I hear – “you shouldn’t feel this way” or “be grateful for what you do have” or “you really just need to move on”.

As I rounded the bend and headed down my street – I realized that I needed to give the sadness, the frustration, the disappointment a seat at my tableEach one of these emotions deserves space to breathe, space to have a voice, space to be heard and seen.

I’ve been using this metaphor recently and when I am feeling overwhelmed, I will literally walk out to my dining table and sit at the head of the table. (I know, I’m weird.)  I will then look at the empty chairs around the table and acknowledge that there are emotions and feelings that I am experiencing that all deserve a space.

Sadness – you sit here.  Frustration – come on over.  Disappointment – I see you – sit there.

At this point – it’s less about solving the overwhelm and more about acknowledging the overwhelm and experiencing it in order to work through it.

And this is the harder work – to acknowledge the emotions and feelings and sit with them versus to shush them and push them away  Pushing them away leads to isolation, loneliness, despair, stress.  Acknowledging them leads to connection, clarity, authenticity.

Depending on where you are at in this journey of betrayal – your table might be a 6-seater.  Or – if you are like me in the early days – I was looking at a banquet sized table – many many emotions and thus many many chairs.

Own your table and make space for those emotions!


So I gave the emotions this morning a seat at the table.  I saw my disappointment.  And then I explored it.  I heard my frustration.  And then I looked at what about the situation was causing me to feel frustrated.  I felt my sadness.  And acknowledged the reasons within that were causing the sadness to bubble up.

Fast forward to this afternoon – nothing has changed in the relationship.  Nothing has been solved.  But I feel more whole versus segmented.  Seeing and hearing the emotions has allowed me to be more deeply connected to myself.  I feel authentic and can breathe.


I’d love for you to try this exercise next time you sense that there are some heavy emotions bubbling up.  Give them ALL a seat at your table.  See them, hear them, give them space to breathe.

Then explore the emotions.  Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

What is causing this emotion to rise up?

What about this emotion scares me?

What would be the benefit of seeing and hearing the emotion and not doing anything else about it?

And for those of us that are ready to fix:  what does this emotion say about a next step I need to take in my journey?

While it’s true our emotions shouldn’t always be the predictor for the next decision we make – our emotions are there for a reason.  They are God-given, apart of our heart and soul.  As Proverbs 4:23 says –

Above all else, guard your heart.  For everything we do flows from it.

Let’s remember this as we go about our days.  Let’s honor and guard our hearts as we acknowledge what we are feeling, give the emotions a seat at the table and allow them to be seen and heard.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts.

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here


An encounter with a porta-potty and how it was a metaphor for the week I barely survived.

Do you ever have a week that you just want to end because it’s kicking your behind?

A week where you feel like you can’t, will not, no matter what you do – get ahead?

Forget about get ahead – a week where you just want to maintain?  But can’t even do that?!

That was me this past week.  Between intense discussions with Jason that wouldn’t end (aka a fight), not so nice texts and emails, painful conversations, and getting ready for family to come into town – let’s just say that I felt like I was getting beat up.

I have never been so happy for a week to end – and end with a bang it did.

Jason and I went for a run on Friday morning (bonus) and as we were nearing the end of our run, behind us came a truck with a porta-potty on a trailer.  There were a lot of small bumps in the road so the truck was hauling the porta-potty quite slowly.  Since we were going in the same direction and because we are such speedy runners (just kidding!), the port-a-potty, it seemed, stayed put right beside us for several minutes.

Unfortunately – this particular porta-potty was full of you know what.  This was obvious because it didn’t take long before the WORST stench filled the air.  It was so bad that I almost started gagging.

You would think that we would have just stopped, or even turned down a street and gone in a different direction.  But none of that we did.  We just kept right on running right beside it as we groaned, punched the air with our fists, and started laughing.

What a perfect metaphor for the week I’d had – a week that left me feeling like poop.

We finally started thinking straight and stopped running so that the truck could take that port-a-potty far, far away from us.  And shortly there after, it pulled out onto a busier street and that was the end of the porta-potty full of poop.

When I’m having a poopy week – one of the things that is of utmost importance is connecting with someone that I trust and being able to just say it like it is.  (To be clear – there are many things I need – a moscow mule, a good book, an all expense paid for vacation, a shopping spree, time alone with God….)  But back to connecting with someone – I need a safe place to vent and get it all out.  If ALL I do is vent and feel heard – that in and of itself works wonders.

What it comes back to is connection and leaning into being intimate with others.

I was reminded of this last night as I was talking to one of my groups – we were talking about how with men that struggle with sexual integrity issues – the issue is an intimacy issue – not a lack of sex issue.  For these men – they don’t know how to be fully known (intimate) with others because of the very real risk of rejection.  Oftentimes us wives find ourselves struggling to be fully known, too.

But wait – we were created to be fully known.  We are commanded by God to love him with all of our heart, mind, body and soul.  We are also commanded to love others as we love God (Luke 10:27).  That means we love others with our heart, mind, body and soul, too.

It’s innate for us to live from a place of fully known.  But in this world we live in – it’s always going to be a challenge.  Take media for instance – we feel a little bit connected as we watch our favorite show – but it’s not intimate or real.  Then there’s social media (don’t even get me started!) – we might think we really know the gal we follow on Instagram – but in all seriousness – how well do you fully know her from a photo of what she ate for dinner last night?

All that to say – we are not set up in this life to be fully known and true and real – quite the opposite in fact.  But when we are having a poopy week (Ralenda – I want you to know I am really trying to behave with my words!) – the antidote is intimacy.  It’s being fully known and fully knowing.  It’s understanding that there is a very real risk of rejection – but showing up anyways and taking off the mask and saying – this is what’s really going on.  This is who I really am.  And this is what I’m struggling with.

So that’s what I did.  I talked to a friend poolside and told her all about my difficult week.  I then called two different friends this week and vented to them.  And let me just tell you – while it was hard to lean in (it always is) and risk with what I was really feeling – as always – it helped.  Sure, there are no guarantees but I know that I know that this is the answer – to be real and true with myself, with others and also with God.

What would it look like for you to lean in as this week comes to a close?  What could you do today to work toward being fully known with someone else that you deem safe?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

xo – Shelley

A half-gallon of ice cream versus connecting – it’s a hard choice.

About a month ago now, I had one of the most painfully awkward sessions with my life coach to date.  I could have thought of a million things to do besides chat with her for fifty minutes.  I was in such a terrible funk – the LAST thing I wanted to do was to TALK.

I don’t know if any of you can relate to this – but when I’m feeling not just down but in the dumps – it is incredibly difficult for me to reach out.  Tillamook chocolate chip ice cream and my bed covers sound much more appealing.

However – this is quite the opposite of what I “preach” to the ladies that come along side me via support groups or at speaking events.  This journey of healing from betrayal has shown me that it’s being fully known (intimacy) with those that I feel safe with that will actually help me move through the down-dumps with grace; not isolating under the covers with a half-gallon of ice cream. {Although seriously?!  That sounds really nice in the moment!  Can we call that some self-care or what?!  All kidding aside – the problem is – after the ice cream is downed – and I come out from under the covers – I’ve done nothing to move through the feelings.  I’m back at square one.}

And yet, the default setting is broken and my flesh will always want to hide and isolate more than the desire to reach out, connect and share it like it is.  Yes, I point to Adam and Eve for part of the explanation – because what did they do in the Garden of Eden?  They hid.

There is a residual level of this desire to hide in all of us.

But why else might it be so hard for me to reach out when I’m in the spiral?  A couple of other reasons come to mind –

The fear of not being loved or accepted if I’m not happy.  Not sure when or where this fear developed but in a world where we put on a mask when we walk out the door – it’s no surprise that I fear I won’t be accepted if I’m down.

Lack of control.  I talk to so many women that say they have control issues.  Me too!  It’s just I like to put a different spin on it – I’m a control enthusiast!  Being down and sharing it with others – the ugly cry, the darkness, the hopelessness – it’s pretty out of control.  And that’s not a comfortable place for me.

The fear that if I actually allow myself to go there – I’ll stay there forever.  Oftentimes I believe if I can just stay on the edge of a complete melt-down, I’m doing myself a favor.  Because if I do melt – there is no turning back and who knows HOW long it will take to climb back out of the hole.  Taps into the powerlessness mentioned above.

The list goes on and on – the point is – there are some real reasons that I move toward complete isolation and withdrawal when I’m starting to spiral.

Back to my session with my life coach – I realized I’d never truly allowed anyone (except Jason) to see me the way I presented to her that Thursday afternoon in April.  I was convinced by the end of the session that she’d fire me.  And if she didn’t fire me on the spot – certainly when we met again – she’d give me the axe.

But girls – two weeks later when our next session came around – she started our session by saying this – “I have more admiration and respect for you because of how you came onto the call and sat with me on the call two weeks ago.”

I wanted to fall out of my chair (but thankfully was firmly planted in it).  She didn’t fire me.  In fact, she did quite the opposite.  She loved me even more.

The TRUTH is – when we show our brokenness to others – they love us more.  When we confess our shortcomings, when we share our fears, when we look up with tears in our eyes and say – I’m a mess – that’s when love comes a-pouring in.

I KNOW this because I see it happen in my groups, I’ve seen it happen with Jason, and I experienced this big time one month ago with Dale.

AND… I also know, that there will probably never be a day when this comes easy.

So I’m closing with this – I’m begging you to show up by being you.  If you are down, say it.  If you feel hopeless – express it.  If you feel angry – get it out.  Let’s all commit to bringing our full selves to the table.  Not what we think others want to see, but how we actually feel.  Right now.  Today.  And every day.


When the pain just won’t go away

{Pssst – I’ve been talking about connection all month long.  Read the first two posts here and here if you haven’t already!}

Connecting with God, self and others is at the heart of this recovery process both for husbands and for wives.  And to be clear, we need all three.  God created us for connection not just with Him but also with ourselves and with others.

And yet, the reality is, sometimes even this connection won’t take away the pain we experience.


Less than twenty-four hours ago, this is exactly where I was at.  I was feeling emotional pain and I knew I’d better buckle up because the work was about to begin.  I connected with Jason, I went on a run, I journaled.  These things no doubt helped but it didn’t take away the pain completely.

This morning, I woke up and although I felt lighter initially, it didn’t last.

So I knew I was in for the wait.

And in that wait, I knew I had choices to make.  I could ruin my entire day with the belly ache I’d be dealing with if I helped myself to heaps of my boys’ Halloween candy sitting in the pantry.  Another poor option: on-line cyber Monday shopping but I knew I’d deal with major regret if I chose to spend our hard earned money on things I don’t even need by shopping on-line.

Yes indeed, I have choices to make – and that in and of itself is a bit scary because my track record is certainly not pristine clean!

So I {for once} made a positive choice – I reached out to friends.  I then tried to connect with God by listening to two Flatirons podcasts that I missed recently.  I loved myself well by going on a run in the freezing wind and making myself warm soup and sourdough bread for lunch. (I’m giggling as I proof this – maybe I’ve been reading The Little Red Hen a bit much to my little lately but it might appear that I made soup and bread from scratch so just to be clear – canned soup and bread toasted in the toaster from the grocery store.)


And yet, the pain is still here.

So I wait.

It reminds me of Psalm 40:1 where David says,

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

In this passage, the Hebrew word for wait is qavah.  Qavah also means “to hope”, “to strengthen” and “to expect”.

So this waiting that we do – we want to do it well.  We want to continue to connect with God, ourselves and others.  We want to love ourselves well and do our best to make good choices.

And in this wait – we choose to have an expectant hope.  A hope that at some point, God will lift us out of the slimy pit and set our feet on a rock.  In the wait, He will refine us and we will be stronger for it on the other side.

That is our hope.

Do you know what this means?  It means we put a teeny tiny bit of faith in God.  We lean into trusting Him.  And this, my friends, can be oh-so-difficult.

Waiting is hard work.  It’s life work.


Come on girls, I know I’m so not alone in the wait I feel today.  Let’s do this together.  Let’s wait with hope.  Let’s expect God to lift us out of the slimy pit.  Let’s trust in Him.  Let’s believe that there is more strength in store for us on the other side.




The refining work of connection and when connection simply doesn’t work

I have to laugh – this month I wanted to talk all about connection here on this blog.  And the last two weeks have been quite the whirlwind.  So my plans to connect over connecting – well – they failed.

But that’s okay, I’m picking myself up, dusting myself off, and assuring myself that there is still time.

In the last blog post on connection, I wrote about the importance of connecting to God, self and others.   It’s all about pressing into being fully known and fully knowing others.

As simple as it sounds, it’s actually quite hard.  So let’s discuss some of the key character traits that we must refine on our journey toward connecting well:

First is cultivating a heart of acceptance.  Not only when we work toward being fully known but also when fully knowing another – one of the biggest challenges is to accept ourselves and accept others right where they’re at.  Awareness is key here and I want to point out a couple of areas where we will have to work at acceptance.


For instance, when we are allowing someone else to be fully known – be it our husbands or our friends – we might be challenged to accept them fully right where they are at.

I know I love to go around fixing others – so when just the thing our husbands or our friends need is to be known right where they are at (versus fixing), accepting and listening are key.

Another reason that acceptance is difficult is because when we do choose to listen to others – we might find that their perspective is different than ours.  It’s always, always, always easier to rub shoulders with people that have similar views.  When we really start to get to know others – and realize that our views are different which is likely the case – it forces us to really think through why we feel the way we feel.  And then work toward accepting someone else even if their views are different.  This can be super challenging.

And last, when we are the ones working at being fully known, it is so much easier to do so when we are confident and accept ourselves just as we are.  However – and it’s a big however – we usually can not get there until we’ve shared our story, our hopes, our failures with someone else.  So acceptance is a hoped-for-gift but we have to jump off the cliff and risk in order to get there.

With that said, next up is cultivating a willingness to risk.  There is absolutely no guarantee that we will be accepted for who we are when we show up and allow others in to the deep places of our hearts and souls.  Risk of rejection comes with the territory.  So we have to be okay with allowing others in and then facing that risk of rejection.  This is SO hard.  And I think that very first time we dip our toes into the pool of intimacy and see if we will be accepted is the scariest.  After that, we start to gain such a deep satisfaction in the bottom of our hearts with being fully known that this risk is less – (yet still there).

And last, we must work toward getting comfortable with pain.  Although connection is the antidote to so much – acting out, acting in, and even shame – we must also embrace that there will simply be times when connection doesn’t work.  God feels like a million miles away, our friends just don’t get it, our husbands aren’t safe and we’ve tried every tool in the bag to comfort ourselves and we come up to the surface feeling the same old pain.

Sure, those negative coping strategies that we’ve used time and time again would work – but only temporarily.  And after that temporary fix, we’d be deeper in our pain hole than we were before.  So we know that isn’t the route we want to go.  So what do we do?

We sit in the pain.

For as long as it takes.

We open our hands wide, and allow our hearts, our souls, our bodies to feel the pain.  We assure ourselves that relief will come in the morning.  And until then, we wait it out.

It reminds me of birthing my three precious baby boys.  I chose to do it naturally because I’m cRaZy like that.  Nothing was really going to take away the pain.  And yet, I knew it would come to an end and the greatest gift would be awaiting me then.  At least that was my hope.  True, there was no guarantee.

It all came down to hope.

In the next blog post, I’m going to talk more about waiting and hope and how the two are connected.  And as always, I’d love to hear from you.  Is sitting in pain something you are familiar with?  What I mean is – have you ever tried to just sit with it versus coping with it or covering it up?



On the importance of connection

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.


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.


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.



Intimacy is the antidote

Jason and I have been working on a little {big} project since the Spring of 2015 that we are about to see to completion.  Last weekend we worked hard on shooting videos and adding questions to the on-line workbook.

As we were chatting about one of the videos, we were talking about how intimacy is the antidote to so much that we as husbands and wives deal with in recovery.


It’s the antidote to shame.  It’s the antidote to acting out.  It’s the antidote to our brokenness.

You see, when we choose into vulnerability and share the parts of ourselves that we fear others knowing, shame has no place to hide.

When we start to talk about our brokenness and be fully known just as we are – we realize we aren’t alone.  Not only do the barriers that isolate us (like envy, comparison and competition) begin to crumble but we also begin to realize pretty quickly that we all know pain, we all know grief and really, we aren’t so different after all.

So this intimacy, this being fully known – why then is it so hard?

There are several reasons we shrink back and don’t take that leap of faith.  For starters, it’s risky.  There is a real risk of rejection when we show up and be fully known in the presence of others.  And for {all} of us that have dealt with rejection – it’s painful.  It hurts like none other.  So sometimes it feels easier to isolate, to self-protect, to not show up.

Second, it’s an active process that takes intentionality.  Hiding in the dark is so much easier to do as compared to showing up and letting the light shine down on the innermost parts of our soul.  In a world where we are all hurried and rushed and busy – no wonder we choose the easy road more often.

And last, it’s awkward, especially at first.  I guess if you grew up in a home where emotions and feelings were validated and discussed, loved and affirmed; maybe this wouldn’t be so awkward.  For those of us {most of us} that didn’t have this luxury, oh boy, does it ever feel as awkward as a middle school dance.

{Or as awkward as that time in middle school when my mom dressed me up as a bag of jelly beans for the popular girl’s, Halloween party.  Yep, you know where this is going. 

First awkward part is – I couldn’t sit down.  But did I try?  Oh yes, I did.

Second and most dreadful part – the jelly beans (that were balloons) started falling out of the very clear AND very large plastic bag (that I somehow was wearing with small holes for my neck, arms and legs).

My mom is SUPER creative, people, I still don’t now how she got me in that thick plastic.

Whew, I’m sweating just thinking about it.

Well, talk about awkward when I started seeing the balloons jelly beans throughout popular girl’s house.  I didn’t even realize I had a tear in my bag!

And then third and most horrific was witnessing the awkward 7th grade boys trying to pop the balloons by jumping on them.  Oh my gosh, I want to hide right now!!!}


All laughter aside, here’s the deal y’all – intimacy is key.  And I’m not talking about sexual intimacy.  I’m talking about fully-known, I know you, you know me, from the inside out and we will work toward accepting and loving each other right where we are at, kind of intimacy.

Even the really embarrassing and awkward parts of our story – like Sunny’s 7th grade Halloween party.

How’s that for being fully known?

I’d love to hear from you – why is it hard for you to be fully known?  And what are some of the road blocks you are running into along the way? And as a bonus, if I hear from a lot of you, I don’t know, let’s say 25 women, I’ll post a photo of myself from 7th grade in my jelly bean get-up!


A little about where I am at today…

I’ve desperately wanted to write a blog post all week.  I started one last week (it’s a book review!) and I contemplated trying to wrap it up real quick.  Instead, I want to share a little bit about where my heart is at today.

The last two days have been a little harder me.  I’ve felt the stress mounting.  Jason was in Laguna Beach taping shows for New Life Live and I was here holding down the fort.  He was due home by 7:30pm and at about 6pm, I recognized that I simply couldn’t do it anymore.  I’m not sure exactly what I “couldn’t do” but I knew that I didn’t feel good about the pace of the week.

Once the boys were tucked into bed, Jason and I sat down on the couch.  We started to talk.  He asked what was going on (because when I greeted him, I told him I was frazzled and needed to talk).  I started to unload, people.  I’m talking I backed up that dump truck and dumped it all out.

155223959_68d80cf01e_zPhoto Source

I talked and talked about the things swirling in my head.  When I stopped talking, Jason asked, “so what else is bothering you?”  And I’d either land on another situation deep within me or continue to lament about whatever it was that I just spoke of.

Y’all, I couldn’t believe how much was inside of me.  How much needed to come out.  I ended up crying as I poured more and more of my heart out to him.  I was probably a little dramatic with some of the things I said, but it felt good to get it out.  All of it.

Here is what I realized as we were talking:

  • I was letting Jason completely and totally in.  This is a big deal for a woman recovering from intimacy aversion.  It’s called being fully known.
  • Jason didn’t judge me or try to fix me.  He listened and agreed with everything I was saying.  He literally just sat there with me.  It reminds me of the beginning of Job.  Sure, Job’s friends got it all wrong once they started talking to him.  Yet they started out just right.  Job 2:13 says, “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” 
  • I felt so much lighter by the time we were done.  Were the problems solved?  Absolutely not…but I got them out.

So how might this apply to you?  Well, there are a couple of key take-aways here:

1)  Don’t underestimate the importance of having a safe place to just get it out.  To back up that dump truck and dump-it-out in all its glory.  Whatever it might be.  If your husband isn’t a safe person {yet} for you, find a group of girls that can be your safe place.  If you are still stuck in this area, contact me and I’ll see if I can help.

2)  I want to give you, my beautiful readers, hope that one day, your husband just might be a safe person for you to share the crazy, the messy, the ugly with.  If it’s happened for us, let me tell you – it can happen for you.  Isn’t that at the core of this process for our husbands (and thus for us, too)? 

Going from not being fully-known and finding intimacy (albeit false) through sexuality to being fully known and finding true intimacy in knowing and being known with sex as a coveted, exclusive, only-for-the-one-we-married kind of thing?

3)  If you are feeling totally stuck in this area with no hope on the horizon for a group of gals or your husband to provide a safe place for you to dump – ask yourself what can you do to ground yourself today?  Maybe its going outside (one of my favorite self-care activities) or journaling.  Maybe it’s doing a craft or making a feel-good meal.  Whatever it is, I think it’s important that you have something you can go to when you start to feel like you are spinning out.  (As in, if you are reading this and can’t think of anything, it’s time to do some work in this area!)

I can’t begin to tell you how calm I’ve felt today.  This being fully known.  Dumping the dump truck.  And allowing others to sit in it with me – it’s good.


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