In the Dark: Healing Sexual Intimacy After Porn and Infidelity

(Hi Girls!  Today I’m thrilled to write for the amazing women over at MOPs.  It’s the first of a two-part series on what it looks like to heal some of the most broken pieces of my marriage.  Let me just tell you, I feel SO vulnerable sharing…)

I’ll never forget the first time Jason and I had the opportunity to speak together to a group of couples at a retreat deep in the mountains of Colorado.  We were there to share our story and more than that, how God was saving our marriage after porn, affairs and everything in between had taken us down for the count.  I could barely sleep the night prior and my heart’s strong beat was a constant reminder – as I lay there sleepless – of my real fear of talking in front of others.

in-the-dark

When I think about that event, my most poignant memory is of the tall woman standing in the back of the room with her arms crossed.  As she catapulted a question my way, her tone revealed my story had hit close to home.  Sternly, she asked, “After everything Jason has done, and given your struggle with anorexia, how can you possibly have sex with him?”

{Head over to the MOPs blog where this post was initially published to continue reading}

 

Video response for you…

Hi Girls!

I so loved some of your comments from a post I recently wrote – I decided to respond to some of them via video.

In case you are wondering, this IS what I look like most days.  And I really wanted to be a cheerleader in high school (you’ll see my cheer in the video) but I didn’t make the cut.  I still wonder why…

xo-Shelley

 

A Rant…

Do y’all remember when I wrote that blog post where I was ranting and raving about what we need to see from our husbands in order for us wives to heal?  Maybe I’m listening to too much Dave Ramsey or something but I think I have another rant in me that I need to get out today.  Buckle up – it’s going to be a ride.

I’m so sick and tired of how much control some husbands {whom have made some really terrible choices} have over their wives.  Please note – this isn’t directed to every one of you.  Some of you are doing a fantastic job of allowing your wife to grieve.  Answering her questions.  Holding her pain.  Others of you – not doing so hot.

These are the husbands that need to read on.

Countless women, whom should be given permission to grieve that their life as they knew it was a complete lie, was nothing like what they thought it was – aren’t even given the space by their husbands to start to grieve.

rant1.001

Instead, these husbands are so busy blame-shifting, manipulating, criticizing, withholding love – all this both before and after disclosure – that these wives can’t even focus on grieving.  Instead, they have to focus on the continued craziness.  It’s killing me!

I sit back and think – these wives – they are capable and willing to forgive what many believe to be the unforgiveable.  They are willing to do the necessary work to repair the marriage.  But they can’t even start the repair work (which, just to be clear, starts with a 1)  full disclosure, 2)  grieving, 3)  turning over the puzzle pieces and asking a ton of questions and 4) grieving some more) because their husbands continue to resist giving them what they need.

So the focus for these wives looks like this – “Why won’t my husband answer my questions?”.  “Why won’t my husband respect my requests to have physical space from him?”  “Why won’t my husband give me the diginity of hearing my pain?”  “Why is my husband so defensive and angry?”

It’s as if these husbands – they 1)  caused the pain.  And then 2)  are the biggest road block to working through the pain.

Are you with me?

Husbands, do you not get it?  You have stomped on your wives’ hearts.  You caused her terrible pain that she would never wish on anyone.  Not even you.  And then you proceed to be the biggest road block to her healing?

I do not understand.

If you want to save this marriage, if you want to give your wife dignity and healing – let me tell you what you can do:  Hold your wife’s heart with more care and concern than ever.  Let go of the pride.  Let go of the entitlement.  Ask God to give you the courage and the strength ( ’cause that’s what you are going to need) to hold your wife’s heart.  To cocoon it and protect it with everything you’ve got.

And let. her. grieve.

Let her see that you hurt for her.  That you are so sorry.  Not just with the words that come out of your mouth but with the tears that fall down your face.  With the fact that you will drop everything and come running if she needs you.  With the respect you give her by asking before embracing her.  By being intentional and asking her what she needs to process with you today about her new reality.

rant2.001

Shall I say more?

By answering her questions.  By giving her back her dignity by always telling her the truth.  By allowing her to use her voice.  By validating her feelings.  By giving her nothing but your best.  From this day forward.  And when you trip up, you get right back up.  Because God is sanctifying you and ain’t nothin getting in your way.

It’s only when you are doing these things that your wife can actually start to feel she is safe enough to grieve your past – her present.  You hear me?  She is grieving her present reality.  Her truth.

So please, that heart that you stomped on over there?  Take it in your hands and treat it with more care than anything else you’ve ever cared for.  Do your part to sew up every wound.  You be Jesus’ hands and feet to your wife.  Allow God to work through you.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

 

A Little Christmas Eve Pep Talk

Hello Ladies!

I’m so excited to start working through your burning questions that you have asked me from the last blog post.  Such great questions and I’m excited to dig deep with you guys.  If you are new here, it’s not too late to add your question.  Go here to do so.

I was actually planning on answering one of those questions here today.  But as I sat down to write, I realized my heart was leaning toward talking to each of you about what you might encounter over the next 24-48 hours with your family.  With your husband.  The craziness of Christmas.

ichoosegrace

Think of this as a pep talk.  I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now and if you were sitting across from me with something warm and yummy in your hands, this is what I would want to tell you:

1)  Some of you might be experiencing your first Christmas without your husband by your side.  It might be that you are separated or newly divorced.  This probably wasn’t the way you thought it would go.  Know that I’m proud of you for not putting up with his shenanigans anymore.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to love ourselves enough to walk away.

2)  Some of you might be experiencing your first Christmas with a man that you never thought would break your heart as badly as he has.  He might be working hard to repair your heart or he might be flailing in the background.  Either way, I want you to know that it does get better.  It won’t hurt this bad forever.  I can’t guarantee the outcome of your marriage but I’m here to tell you that we are all guaranteed to have Jesus by our side as we walk through this ugly mess.

3)  Some of you might feel like you are in the thick of a wait this Christmas.  It’s not your first Christmas knowing his ugly truth.  You might not have clarity yet on which way to go.  It’s okay to camp out there.  To take your time.  This is your choice and nobody else’s.

4)  Listen, sweets, you are not responsible for your husband’s actions.  If he chooses to (insert a number of behaviors here, but for example – ) disconnect and sit on the couch on his phone all Christmas day, it’s not your fault.  Will it effect you?  Absolutely.  Do you have every right to feel disappointed?  Yes ma’am.  Does this mean you can’t enjoy the day with your family or friends?  No, it doesn’t.  This is where healthy detachment comes in and we choose into focusing our energy elsewhere other than our husband’s choices.

5)  This Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect.  Release yourself from the pressures that might be building.  This is a time to connect with those you love.  To celebrate Jesus’s coming to save us from having to be perfect.  Do you see?  We don’t have to be perfect anymore because of Jesus.  Now that’s something to celebrate!

6)  Give yourself grace over the next couple of days.  Heaps and heaps of grace.  Remind yourself that you are worthy and you are loved because you are a Daughter of the King.  This isn’t anything that you’ve earned.  It was given to you.  There is no need to prove yourself worthy with the meal you make or the gift you give.  No way.  So your turkey ends up being dry.  Big deal.  Turkey is overrated.  Give yourself grace.  (And as far as I’m concerned, be proud that you know how to make a turkey.  I have no clue.)

7)  As you are working toward being fully known and loving yourself well remember that the best thing you can offer yourself and others is honesty, grace, and love.  It’s when we do this that we move closer to Jesus.  That we comprehend His love for us.  Unconditional.  And this being fully known and loving is really. hard. work.

8)  And some of you might be pinching yourself this Christmas because your husband is changing before your eyes.  You can hardly believe it.  He’s working really hard.  And maybe you’re watching and waiting OR maybe he’s inspired you to work really hard, too.  Either way, take a breath and thank God for the progress you see.  Know that it’s real and it’s okay to feel the joy.

I’m glad we could have this talk.

xo-Shelley

 

 

 

what’s breaking my heart today…

I feel really fortunate to come alongside women with a similar story to mine and give them a safe place for them to process their pain and take the next step on their journey.  It’s certainly not easy – I still {and always will} deal with triggers, I still {and always will} carry their stories with me.  Speaking of stories – these women’s stories – they are precious.  Each one of them is a fighter with a heart of gold and enough courage to blow your mind.  Their lives have been far from easy.  And if they were easy, they aren’t anymore.  Many of them have sat in silence for months and even years while their husbands have been unfaithful to them.  These women – they feel tossed aside.  Many of these women have been told to spice up their sex lives, have a hearty meal on the table, try not to fuss or nag.  This will fix it, they were told, but it didn’t work.  It won’t work.

So they reach out for help.  Slowly but surely.  They wave the white flag.

And here is the thing – these women want nothing more than for their marriage to not only survive but to also thrive.  They are willing to put in the hard work, to do whatever it takes to heal.  They understand that they’ll have scars and they have all the hope in the world that they will use their pain for good in this life.

What they are asking for from their husbands isn’t too much to ask:  They want honesty.  They want respect.  They want the dignity to know the full truth.  They want integrity.  They want faithfulness.  They want empathy.  They want emotional intimacy.  They want conversation and connection.  They want to see that their husbands are sorry not just in their words but also in their actions.  They want humility.  They want Godly leadership.  They want to see their husbands be all they know their husbands can be.

I see these women give their husbands 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances to do this recovery the right way.  I see these women bend over backwards trying to make sure that their husbands have every possible chance to redeem themselves.  To allow God to start to change them.  They hand their husbands over to God and trust Him with the one they love the most on this planet.

Now I understand that I’m a little one-sided since I work with women and not their husbands.  What I’m having trouble understanding is why, as a husband, you’d prefer to continue to hurt your wife.  Why you’d choose to blame her, criticize her, and defend yourself.  When all the while – you, mister {don’t make me say buster}, you are the one that can be redeemed.  You are the one that can live a better life.  You are the one that can move past your shame and guilt and live life full and change your legacy for generations to come.  I’ve seen it happen.  It IS possible.

Because here is the thing.

When you, as a husband, start to chase after God.  When you let go of your selfish ways and run with a reckless abandon toward who He is calling you to be – chances are, your wife will follow.

She knew this person was in you.  She saw it from the moment she met you.  She won’t want that man to pass her by.

And a beautiful thing begins to happen.  She will start to chase after that same God as well like never before.  She will start to pursue what He has put on her heart.

She has the freedom to do this because you have led.  She isn’t expending all her energy dealing with you anymore!

So it starts with you, mister husband {aka buster}.  And this is exactly what’s breaking my heart.  Because not only have you wrecked your wife’s heart – but you also are the one to ultimately decide – will your marriage thrive?  Or will your marriage be a casualty.  Because even if it stays intact and you do nothing to move toward sanctification – the marriage is dead.  It’s a casualty.

I hear Jason in my head because he always says – very rarely will a wife leave her husband because of what he’s done.  No, most often, a wife chooses divorce when her husband either 1)  chooses not to tell the truth or 2)  won’t allow God to change Him from the inside out.  Not just from a sexual integrity stand point but from a character stand point as well.

Because let’s face it.  You, mister husband, you are NOT the best CEO of your life.  If you were – you wouldn’t be reading this blog post, now would you.  If you were, your wife wouldn’t be reading this blog post either, now would she?

So what’s it going to take for you to let go?  To acknowledge that you need help?  That you are destroying your life as well as your family’s?

Know that there is hope for you.  I’m married to a man that has changed.  I know other couples that are living a life of grace, peace, honesty, and love.  It IS possible.  So go.  Do it now.  Whatever it takes.  Godspeed to you.

 

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!

RLFW_Rescued_Cover

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.

CSpiegel-bio pic

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.

bookreview2015

 

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.

wiredforintimacy

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

 

Full Disclosure – The Beginning of Healing

I hear time and time again about one of the most painful things a husband can do to their wife early on in the healing process.  In fact, “healing” can be removed from the last sentence because I don’t believe what I hear about is healing at all.  It is the opposite of healing.  It’s damage.

What I’m talking about is this dribble, dribble, drip-drip of truths and half-truths.  It’s bits and pieces here and there, whenever the husband so chooses to share a little bit more.

full disclosure image

It doesn’t work.  So to all you husbands out there that are thinking this is the best way to go about helping your wife heal – forget about it.  It’s a horrible idea.  You are doing more damage than good.

What you are doing is leaving your wife to die on the vine.  You are allowing her to stay out at sea, day in and day out, without a life vest or a rope or any sort of hope to get to shore.  It’s selfish for you, yes you, Mr. husband to think that sharing tidbits with your wife here and there is best for her.  Because it isn’t.

The pain I hear about is excruciating, its unconscionable, it’s inexcusable.  It must end.

So what does a wife do in this situation?  What does a husband do?  I’m fired up and ready to give you some insight as to what you should do.  Here goes…

First, remember this:  whether your husband comes to you and shares a little bit (or a lot) of his secret life with you or whether you stumble across evidence that allows you to peek into his secret life – either way – in order to start the healing process, a full disclosure must be done.

A full-disclosure looks like this:

  • Your husband will take some time to think through and write out his sexual history from as early as he can remember.  Nothing will be left out.
  • Your husband will share this disclosure with you (as in, he will read it aloud) in front of your counselor.
  • If there are any details that you’d rather not hear about, your husband will not share those specific details.  This is 100% up to you and not your husband as to how much you want him to share.
  • If you suspect that he might not be telling you the full truth, you have the right to ask for a polygraph.  Typically, it’s the threat of the polygraph versus the actual polygraph test that forces resistant husbands to come clean.  You can request this polygraph prior to the full disclosure or after.  There are different schools of thought out there on polygraphs.  My opinion is as follows:  it’s your right to request this if you feel you need the safe guards it potentially can provide.
  • You have the right to take the disclosure letter and review it on your own.  You have the right to ask as many questions as you’d like.  In fact, if you desire to ask the same question over and over again – you have that right.
  • When you are ready, you can respond to the full-disclosure with your own letter to your husband.  This might look similar to an anger letter.  It’s an opportunity for you to put pen to paper and share with your husband exactly how you feel about him and his actions.  This is not a forgiveness letter.  Rather, this is a letter for you to be able to process your grief, your pain, your disappointment, your disbelief.

Although your husband might feel better after he has told you the whole truth and nothing but the truth, for you – it’s as if the poor choices he made just happened.  Today.  It’s your day one.

What this means is – the hard work has just begun for him.  He doesn’t just sit back and tell you he is sorry, tell you he won’t do it again, tell you to just forgive and trust him.  (I’m feeling nauseated just imagining this and the sad thing is – for some of you reading this – it isn’t imaginary.  It’s your reality.)  Instead, he will continue to take time every day to ask you about your pain.  Ask you about how you are processing what he has shared.  Ask you if there is anything from the disclosure that you need clarification on.

It’s when our husbands do this.  When they give us a full disclosure and then open the door wide to allowing us to process that the healing begins.  Begins.  Begins for you.  And for him.

Husbands, if you are feeling at all resistant to what I am saying here… I’m going to share something I read recently:  “Addicts need to remember that in the long run,  it’s the behaviors not the disclosure that led to the negative consequences.”  Got that?  It’s your behaviors that caused the pain.  That caused the separation.  Not the fact that you did a full disclosure.

Ladies, if you don’t think your husband is capable of giving you a full disclosure – I want you to know that it is possible.  Sure, it may involve a lot of begging and pleading on your end and white-knuckling on his.  Don’t give up.  Your healing is worth it.  After all, how can you forgive him for things you aren’t even privy to?  You can’t.

 

Break. Down. Part 3.

This won’t make sense unless you read the first two installments here and here.

As I mentioned in the last post, God has used the post-partum depression I experienced and my ensuing breakdown for my good.  Here is a quick snap-shot of what I have gained in the last year:

1)  Breakdowns are no joke.  Our minds are fragile and should be handled with care.  (Just to be clear, what I have gained here is a perspective shift.  No more can I say I don’t understand breakdowns.  Instead, I say – “me too”.  I’ve been there.  If this can happen to me, this can happen to anyone.  Our minds are fragile and deserve to be handled with care!)

2)  Self-Care is critical.  Think of it as a antidote to anxiety and depression.  Identifying my needs and asking for what I need is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of health.  Caring for myself is necessary and of vital importance.  Kinda like on the airplane when we don our oxygen masks before putting them on our children.  I must take care of myself first.

3)  It’s when we are in our darkest moments that God is closest.  It’s not in the calm and comfort that God does his best work.  It’s when we are on our knees.  When we are uncomfortable.  When we have nowhere else to go but up that God refines us.

4)  Trauma and triggers are no jokes either.  We will not be defined by our trauma, but trauma is real and it must be dealt with.  Validation is huge here.  We aren’t crazy people.  What has happened has made us feel crazy but we are NOT crazy.

5)  God can use me even when I am weak.  I don’t have to be perfect to be used by God.

goddoesn'twaste

I am grateful today that God doesn’t waste anything on us.  Indeed, it’s when we go through the dark times that we are refined.  I’ve been there – more than once.  And it might just be where you find yourself today.  If that’s the case – I want you to know that you aren’t alone.  There are many other women that are in a similar place.  I connect with them almost daily via email, text and phone.

If you find yourself connecting with this blog post or the previous two, I want to share with you some of the things I did as I started to work through this breakdown of mine.  Maybe, just maybe, one of these things will speak to you as you start to figure out how to climb out of the hole.

1)  Ask for help – for me, this was really difficult.  I’ve always equated “needs” with “helplessness”.  But I was desperate and was willing to do anything.  It involved going to my physician and asking for medication (and for this drug-free-push-the-baby-out-momma, it was oh-so-hard to ask for).  I asked my parents for extra support.  I needed more help with my three little ones during this time.  And they were glad to come running.  I asked my friends to walk this scary road alongside me.  (and this, I didn’t do perfectly.  I look back and recognize that I could have leaned on my Go-To Girls a little more than I did.  Did I say it’s hard to have needs?  I’m still a-learning!).  I asked Jason for comfort.  I don’t think he realized the depths of my anxiety and fears until he walked in from EMB last July.  Please, ask for help.  Let others know your situation.  Allow them to pick you up and carry you through.

Today I know that having needs is a very vulnerable place to be.  It’s also how God intended.  Having needs allows us to live in community.  To break down the shame we build around ourselves.  To recognize that we are not alone.

2)  Get it out – I just needed someone to listen to me.  I needed to get out all the unwarranted fears circling in my head.  I was fortunate that Jason became this person in my life.  And I know for some of you reading this – as you are reeling from all the trauma your husband is putting you through – your husband isn’t going to be that person you can get it all out with.  That’s when having a group of Go-To Girls is terribly important!  A place where you can say anything and everything.  And the response will be, “I get it.  Me too.  I’ve been exactly where you are at.”

3)  Self-Care – Taking care of me became top-priority.  Kinda difficult when you have three littles under foot, no family in town and a husband with a cray-cray schedule.  But let’s get realistic.  Can’t we all give reasons it’s difficult,no matter the stage of life?  It’s hard to take care of ourselves.  Especially when your world starts to implode.  I had to choose every day to take good care of me.  It consisted of going back to the basics.  What fills me up?  And what depletes me?  And how can I make sure I’m doing something every. single. day. that fills me up?  It involved trying to put good food in my mouth as I tried to love myself well.  I started juicing, for instance.  It involved exercising as often as I possibly could.  Even when I didn’t feel like it.  It involved getting outside.  Something about the outdoors – I feel free, I feel calm, I can let the tension go even if just for a bit.  It involved being around others.  The less time I had alone, the better.  I devote an entire chapter to self-care in my new book.  There’s a good reason for this – it’s important!

My prayer in sharing about this breakdown of mine is that you would realize that you aren’t alone.  We all go through terrible-horrible seasons.  It isn’t necessarily about doing something to take the pain away.  But rather sitting in our individual circumstances.  Taking a deep breath.  Loving ourselves well.  Doing what we can to help ourselves.  And waiting on God. A tricky balance for sure.

I’d love to hear – for those of you that can relate to going through a terrible-horrible season (and I’m thinking that includes everyone), what helped you the most?  Would you share it here?

And last, thank you for loving me exactly where I’m at.  For covering me with your words of encouragement.  It means so very much to me.  This won’t be the last you hear about what it has looked like as I’m recovering from a horrible-terrible season.  And I thank you for allowing me to start to share about it here.  Love – Shelley