Recognizing our Limits

Before I get going on this blog post – I want to let you know I sent out a survey in my most recent newsletter.  I would love for you to take the survey (it’s only seven questions) so that I can begin planning what I want to talk about here on the blog moving forward as well as for other things we are developing – courses, the podcast, curriculum, etc.  Your thoughts and your voice matter and I would so love to hear from you!   You can subscribe to the newsletter and blog posts here. I might even make a printable with the steps below and include it in the next newsletter – let me know if that would be helpful!

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Hi Ladies!  Happy Summer!

I just love this time of year.  I love the warm weather, the water, the laughter, the refreshments.  I love seeing my kids run around with smiles on their faces – playing and being creative!

One of the things that goes along with summer is that people come out of hiding after a long Colorado winter.   It’s fun to see everyone again – for the most part.  I had a “situation” come up a couple of weeks ago where someone wasn’t too happy with me.  Without going into all the details – suffice it to say that after the interaction, I threw myself on my bed, crying and feeling so raw – and as I was lying there, I realized – within me was a little girl that was heartbroken – and this is what made the situation so very painful.  The little girl within.

{As a side note – we all have the child within us that we are continuing to help “grow up”.}

I ended up fairly quickly recognizing that I didn’t stand up for myself during the interaction – I froze.  This happened a lot as a little girl, too – I didn’t know how to use my voice.  I made sure everyone else around me was okay.  And when I did use my voice, it was often met with resistance.  What precipitated my cry on the bed was a reenactment of what I would go through as a child.

So as I pulled myself up – I knew what I needed to do and what I could do – I could use my voice.

What followed was a back and forth interaction between me and said person and I was able to put into practice a lot of what I teach to the ladies that are in my support groups, the ladies I do coaching sessions with, and my team of women that help me help even more of you on a weekly basis via groups and 1:1 support.

I want to share with you the steps I put into practice as I navigated yet again a wonky interaction with a fellow human being on planet earth.  Here is the play by play-

1 – I started with just recognizing that I wasn’t okay with something and sitting with it.  I know this might sound super elementary – but a lot of women struggle to just recognize – “I’m not okay with this” AND THEN – pausing.  We don’t HAVE to do anything  else yet – all we need to do is recognize it, say it and pause.

I’m sitting here contemplating – why has this been so hard for me?  My MO for years has been to half recognize I’m not okay with this or with that and then I just tell myself “oh well” and then I move on and my “circle” continues to grow smaller and smaller because I’m not protecting myself.  For myself, I haven’t been able to comfortably sit with the awareness of having a limit (and the discomfort that brings) so it’s been easier to ignore my limits.

Thank goodness – we are always given opportunities to learn and grow – and as I have been working on limits and boundaries and taking up space – I recognized I was not even close to being okay with the interaction and then I said it out loud (well, actually via text) – “This is not okay with me.”

2 – Next, I asked for what I needed.  In this particular situation – I needed to have a conversation.  In this conversation I wanted to make it really clear that moving forward, I would be fine to talk as long as we could both express our points of view. {Boom!} Unfortunately, it became really clear that this person wasn’t interested in a follow-up conversation.

This is where it can become complicated.

3 – I needed to pivot and set a boundary or series of boundaries to protect myself.  So I thought through what I needed to protect ME.  This can feel empowering and truly is how we can take our power back when someone doesn’t respect our limit.  I looked at this from several different viewpoints.  Specifically:  relationally, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Here is what I came up with:

Relational boundary – I don’t need to engage in small talk with this person at this point.  (This could get awkward given we see each other several times a week outside.

Physical boundary – I can’t walk by their house – feels too vulnerable right now.  If I am biking or running, I feel safe but if I am walking I will go a different way.

Emotional boundary – I am going to be careful not to give this person power over me or my feelings.  (What this means is – I will be really aware of my feelings and if I start to feel insecure or scared or like this person isn’t going to treat me nicely – I will acknowledge those feelings but not compromise what I am doing out of fear.)

Mental boundary – I am going to be really careful to not make up stories in my head about what this person might be saying about me, thinking about me, etc.

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Keep in mind that these boundaries are pretty personal in nature – they aren’t so much about the other person but rather they are about ME.  Also – it’s important to remember that the closer the person is to you – the harder it is to set the boundaries.  It will affect you more.  Since I don’t live with this person – this is actually much easier (but still a challenge for me).

By doing this work – my circle (or all the things that makes up who I am and what I need to protect) is getting bigger.  And that’s a good thing because ladies – it’s important that we take up space.

This betrayal process does a number on the amount of space we take up – we can explore this another time if you would like, just let me know in the comments.

Bottom line is – There is a systematic way we can go through this.  It starts with recognizing our limits, stating we aren’t okay with xyz, figuring out what we need, and if we can’t get protection there – setting boundaries.

As always, I would so so so love to hear from you. I make it a point to respond to every comment these days.  Sometimes it takes me a while,  but I do it!

xo – Shelley

photo credits here and here

 

Taking Advantage of the Trench Experience

Hey girls!  Real quick – Restore will be on-line this weekend (Saturday June 20th) and I’d love for you to join me for this one day event.  Especially if you haven’t been able to make it to an in-person workshop – this is a convenient option.  More details here.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago what felt like one of my more vulnerable posts and after I wrote the post, I honestly wondered if everyone would hide for cover.  Instead of hiding – you girls showed. up.  I love this community and I love that we can pour our hearts out to each other and know that we aren’t alone.  Thank you for making it safe for me as well to share.

I felt a weight lift off my shoulders after I wrote the post – almost as if all I really needed to do was dig a little deeper, be authentic and that in and of itself was what would help me feel like I was digging out of the trench.

Don’t let me confuse you – I am still in the trench.  And I might be here for a while.  It’s not that I’m setting up my house in the trench and starting to decorate (haha!) but rather that I know it’s going to be a marathon and there are things for God to show me while I am down here.

And that brings me to what I want to share with you today – the importance of when we are in the thick of it, when we are in the trench – that it’s important to take our experience and allow God to continue to work on us, heart and soul; and move us closer toward sanctification.  We need to take advantage (did I just say that?!) of our trench experience.

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Let’s head back to the story of Joseph where in Chapter 40, we find Joseph still in prison (he had been a slave and in prison for approximately 11 years at this point).  He was put in charge of attending the cup bearer and baker (he had purpose!) and he noticed them looking sad one morning.

I am in awe that Joseph was clearly still holding onto hope at this point.  I say clearly because I think to have hope is to look outward and not inward.  To see more than ourselves.  Not only that but to keep getting up and doing what we can – to have purpose.  He put his faith and God and chose to believe at some point, he would be rescued.

Most of you know this story – so I won’t belabor it.  Fast forward to the end of Chapter 40 and we see that Joseph was forgotten.  Again.

“The chief cup bearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” – Genesis 40:23

The next thing we read is – two full years had passed.  Two.  Joseph waited another two years.  Not only was he forgotten, but he waited, waited, waited.

I’m sorry but 13 years as a slave and in prison sounds like a really cruel punishment for doing something really really wrong.  I used to have this mindset – that if I was “good” – my life would be easy.  But if I made mistakes or poor choices – I deserved punishment.

Joseph’s story clearly shows us that none of us are immune from life’s hardships.  And in fact – it’s the hardships that have the potential to refine us and purify us and make us even more like Him.

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So I have a question for you – what good is coming out of your trench experience?  Can you name one or two areas where God is refining you as you wait?

CS Lewis says that when we are in pain – that is when God speaks the loudest to us.  What is he saying to you?

Below are three areas of growth that I believe God is shining a light on for me to dig into deeper:

1 – To rely more heavily on Jesus’s power.  While I have been in the trench – I have found myself getting to the end of myself, again.  And what I have said in my head (and out loud) is this:  “Jesus help me.”  There is something in this posture that is new for me.  Truly recognizing at a deeper level my limitations and recognizing anew that I need Jesus’s strength and power to get through the day.  “Jesus, please help me.”  I am realizing I haven’t relied on His strength and power as much as is possible.

2 – This one is never fun for me – but God has revealed to me just in the last weeks that there isn’t just one but there are two people that I need to forgive.  Eww.  Being in the trench has actually allowed me to recognize some bitter weeds growing and I know it’s for my good to allow Jesus to pull those weeds out.  Have I made my big yes of forgiveness yet?  No.  But I am working the process (similar to what I share in Rescued) and know there is work for me to do here.

3 – Boundary work.  This actually goes along with the forgiveness work (as we separate in healthy way from others (boundaries) we are more readily able to forgive).  But I am also realizing at a deeper level how important it is for me to recognize my limits, use my voice and be clear about what I am okay with and not okay with.  In addition, I am realizing (just yesterday in fact) that I have some false beliefs about boundaries to dig into a little more.  In short – that I’ve judged people (in my head) for having strong boundaries because I’ve operated with the MO that it’s best to be accommodating and bend over backwards in order to salvage the relationship.  I clearly have some more work to do here.

What about for you – where do you see God working in you and through you this season?  I don’t want us to miss what God is trying to teach us in this trench experience.

As always – I would love to hear from you.  Yáll teach me so much and keep me going.  Know that your voice and your words matter.

xo – Shelley

photo credits here and here

Reporting To You From the Trench

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identify How The Heck We Ended Up Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was in the trenches.

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

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

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

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

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

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

Getting Back on My Feet

Well girls – I shared in the last blog post about my not so ideal reaction to this COVID-19 situation.  It took me three weeks to fully crawl back onto my feet  (and when I wrote the last blog post, I was on my knees) – you can read briefly about that in my latest newsletter.  (And if you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter – you can do that here.)

What I was reminded of, once again, is that I am a very slooooooow processor.  It takes me quite a while to fully work through changes, especially stressful ones.

I realized three different things that played into my wipe out and I want to share them with you in hopes that it might help you get back on your feet if you are still on your back. (And can I just say – for those of you that might be on your back or on your knees – be there.  I was there again yesterday – this is truly one-day-at-a-time-kind-of-work.)

1 – Acknowledging loss.

I don’t know what you might have lost during this quarantine.  But we have all lost something.  Part of me shifting from stunned, barely breathing on my back to a place of grounded, firmly planted and aware was to acknowledge the losses.

Here is a partial list of what I lost:

1 – time to be creative (I love developing content, writing, working on the boundaries course, shooting videos; not to mention decorating my house and dreaming up how to make it more comfortable and more of a home).

2 – three coaching courses that I was scheduled to take in April and May – cancelled.

3 – a May retreat that I had signed up for in Lake Tahoe (part of my quest to not accept crumbs anymore and to love myself well) – rescheduled.

4 – quiet time in my home to actually think.

5 – I feel like I lost 11 critical weeks of planning for the summer (’cause summer causes me some major stress).

Now I realize that my losses might look differently than yours, and that’s okay – it’s so important to name the losses, whatever they might be.

Once I was able to acknowledge and grieve the losses – I was able to give myself space to reflect on the benefits and celebrate them – but I wasn’t able to do that until I had acknowledged the losses.

2 – Old coping mechanisms and behavioral patterns.

It’s like the flip of a switch, it’s so automatic in me.  Stress and danger cause me to go back to the old patterns and old ways of doing things.  For those of you that are familiar with this book – I’m an Avoider.  What that means is – my default setting is to restrict my emotions and needs and to be independent.

To be clear – this old way of coping isn’t effective; it might have been growing up (at least in some ways it worked back then) – but it isn’t anymore.  The key is to be aware of the old coping mechanism cropping back up and to course-correct as soon as possible.

Think about what your old coping mechanisms look like.  It could be isolation, eating your feelings, procrastination, making sure everyone else is okay and forgetting about yourself, numbing out by watching too much media, etc.

It wasn’t until I cried it out in vulnerability and asked for what I needed that Jason reminded me – we are a team.  And he can help.  He can give me the much needed quiet that I was so desperately wanting (and he did just that by taking the boys on a 4 hour car ride to nowhere the very next day).  Game changer.

Some of you, I realize can’t cry out to your husband.  It would do no good.  It’s still important to cry out to someone – to God, to a trusted friend, to a therapist or coach.  Take that step.

3 – When stressed – the trigger threshold is lower.

About six years ago, I started getting migraines after I would exercise.  It was pretty dreadful.  I was desperate to get rid of them and I came across a book that helped me conceptualize migraines in a different way.  What the authors postulated was that we are all susceptible to migraines.  For some of us – our threshold for getting a migraine is lower (as in, it’s easier to get them) and for some of us our threshold is higher (as in, it’s harder to get a migraine).

The key is to do whatever we can to increase that threshold level so that we stay further away from activating a migraine.  (So I had to stop eating tomatoes and peanut butter and almonds.  It was sad.)

Back to triggers – know that the exact same principle applies.  Remember, triggers find us – we don’t have to find them.  And – when we are stressed (think: worldwide pandemic) – our threshold for getting triggered is going to be lower (as in – we are going to be more apt to get triggered).

Simply put: more stress = more triggers.

So during those first three weeks of quarantine – I was more hypervigilant.  I was watching Jason – and found myself being super sensitive to certain things he did or didn’t do.  My trigger threshold was lower and even small things were sending me into a state of panic and distress.

Again, awareness is key.  I needed to do what I could to decrease the stress I was experiencing in order to increase the threshold for getting triggered.  I also needed to communicate to Jason what was going on.  I needed him to partner with me in navigating the triggers.

I shot an off-the-cuff quick little vid for you to watch just to make sure I explained this properly. I have to be honest – it’s hard for me to post it – why couldn’t I have at least put on some lip balm and nose powder?!  Nope, not even. #keepingitreal

I will post the video soon – stay tuned!

As always – let me know if you have any questions, I love hearing from you!

xo – Shelley

 

 

 

What not to do during the quarantine

Weyal Girls.

I’m not sure as to exactly how we got here – but here we are.

Feels to me like I’ve been in the twilight zone since March 12th when we were notified that school would be cancelled until April 7th (now April 7th feels like a dream).  Something I know about myself – and have been reminded of lately is this:  it takes me a looooooooong time to process things.  I get overwhelmed easily and stepping away and getting grounded is critical.

The thing is – I don’t know that I ever really landed since the 12th.  And here we are – March 28th.

While I want to share with you some things to look out for specifically to the recovery process as we navigate this social distancing and shelter in place (I promise to do that in the next blog post) – in this post, I’d like to just share what NOT to do to make your life easier during this time.

And if you think that I’ve been doing these things over the last couple of weeks – well, you’re right.

So in the spirit of authenticity – I share with you what hasn’t been my finest of moments:

#1 – Look at the COVID-19 news right before your head hits the pillow.

#2 – Look at the COVID-19 news the second you wake up.

#3 – Eat a whole bag of tortilla chips every. single. day. of quarantine.  Possibly while reading the news.

#4 – Feel resentment and anger toward your sweet children for being born.

#5 – Get really angry at your husband for scheduling your email upgrade for the busiest work day of the week.

#6 – Get even more mad when said email upgrade doesn’t work and all the emails you send land in the recipient’s junk folder.  Three days later, the problem still hasn’t been fixed.

#7 – Get super annoyed at all the people on Insta for saying this is the time to live your best life by cleaning closets, organizing drawers and starting a new exercise regimen.  (Do these people understand what is going on here?!)

#8 – Get sick.

#9 – Did I mention the bag of tortilla chips?

#10 – Weep over the number of Rival Nerf darts you find in your kitchen, lying on the floor, in your sheets, and under the couch.

Speaking of Nerf Rival – this morning, Jason and I decided to conduct a business meeting in the living room and while we were having our very important discussion – our children were in the middle of a Nerf war.  I think I got shot in the back of the head and all we could do was start laughing.

This. Is. Our. Life.

So whether you are hitting it out of the park and living your best life stuck in your house – organizing, cleaning and making the most of it – Or whether your life looks more similar to mine – feeling so very thankful to have this past week in the books and thanking sweet baby Jesus that we will never ever have to repeat that week again – I do want you to know:

We are going to make it.  It might not be glamorous or glitzy.  In fact, it might look a little ugly at times (see above) – but we will make it.

Would love for you to share how you are really surviving these last couple of weeks.  And to be clear – I read every single one of your replies and try my best to reply back.  So share below – I would so love to connect with you.

xo – Shelley

Photo Credits here and here

 

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!

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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.

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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

 

Strategies to go into Thanksgiving with Confidence

I’ve talked to a handful of women in the last couple of weeks begging the question – help me with Thanksgiving!!!  What am I going to DO?!

I hear you.  Navigating extended family and recovery work is freakin insane.  Some of the strategies Jason and I used early on in our process we still use today.  If I’m honest – which I will be – I still struggle with the holidays.  #workinprogress  It isn’t nearly as difficult as it used to be but it still takes intentional effort on our parts and a lot of conversations before, during and after.

Before I get to the strategies that can help us navigate the holidays with greater ease – let’s talk about why the holidays can be so hard.  I’ve narrowed it down to four big reasons and I want you to see if any of these hit home for you.  I know there are others out there and would love to hear what they are in the comments section below –

The pretend factor – Questions abound for us women as we are working through the early and middle stages of betrayal – Will what has happened to me be the elephant in the room?  Who knows what?  Will someone say something that will either embarrass me or send me to my room crying?

The space factor – Will I have space to grieve and to feel the emotions I need to feel with so many people around and so many activities going on?

The little boy factor – Will my husband assume the role he played in his family of origin once we are with his family?  Will he become enmeshed again with his mom while we are there?  Will he do whatever it takes – even throwing me under the bus – to get love and acceptance from his dad?

The we are changing factor – Just because we are changing (and aren’t we so glad that we have the capacity to do so!) doesn’t mean that anyone else around us is changing.  Unfortunately when one person changes in a family system – it can cause a disequilibrium and others in the family will react (for better or worse) to this change.  I hear a lot about negative reactions to the positive changes women are making which can be confusing for women that are working so hard to set boundaries, understand their limits, use their voices, etc.

As I tell the women I work with in my groups as well as in the one to one sessions I do – Having the insight and awareness is half the battle.  Being able to name what is going on is HUGE.  So if none of these factors above hit home – think about what might be playing in.  Name it.

So now for the fun stuff.  Let’s talk about what we can do to go into Thanksgiving week being grounded, more confident and less stressed.

Strategy #1 – Honor your feelings + name your reason.  Be real with yourself and at least one other person that you deem safe (preferably your husband but depending on his recovery work and where you guys are at in the journey – this might need to be one of your go-to girls or a friend or mentor, etc.) as to how you are feeling.

I am not saying that you are going to base your every move on your feelings.  No.  But I want you to stay connected with yourself.  Honor what you are feeling, name it, and share it.

Sometimes we go to a holiday gathering not because we are excited and looking forward to it.  Instead – we might feel scared, dreadful, sad – but we do it anyways.  And there is a reason.  Name it.  It might be that your kids get to spend time with their cousins or grandparents.  It might be that you want to honor your parents or his parents.  Keep the reason in mind and continue to honor how you feel as you walk through the event.

Strategy #2 – Ask yourself what YOU think, want, need and feel.  I talk about this briefly in the Rescued workbook in the self-care chapter.  I think it’s important to put everyone else’s needs and desires in a box when we do this exercise.  All we are doing is exploring what we think – want – need – feel.  And then after we explore – we can start to piece together the best way to move forward.

For example – recently I was talking to someone that shared she and her husband are separated and she didn’t know what to do about Thanksgiving and navigating his extended family and her extended family.  As we talked – I asked her – what do you need?  And what she really wanted and needed was permission to not have to go to her in-laws.  She knew it would be too difficult for her heart.  What this meant was she would have her littles with her family for part of the day and he would have them with his family for part of the day.  Oh the grief that she felt.  No momma wants to be without her kids for thanksgiving – and she also knew what her heart could tolerate and heading to the in-laws and faking it – not tolerable this year.

Strategy #3 – Have a plan.  Before the gathering (or before you leave for the trip or before your guests arrive for the week) – sit down with your husband and talk about the best way to stay connected and work as a team.  Jason and I still do this before every trip or holiday – whether it’s going to be just the 5 of us or the 5 of us plus the rest of our crazy family.

For instance, we plan out good times to step away and do a check-in (for us, it’s usually on a morning run).  Jason likes to get away for some alone time (introvert alert!) almost every day and I step up and watch the boys.  We talk about how we might need to protect ourselves emotionally and what our limits are in conversations, etc.

My hope is that each of you can approach next week feeling empowered, connected to yourself and more confident than in years past.  You can click here and here for some other posts that I’ve written in the past as you prepare your game plan.

You got this girl!

And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts or answer your questions – just comment below and I will respond.

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

Manna

Well Ladies – I am officially on a roll.  I have three littles in school and have a total of four hours to myself, five days a week.  Last week was the first week of this new schedule and I have to laugh – the day before my youngest started preschool – I was worried I would have too much free time.  I was slightly concerned that I might just roll around in bed all morning long and eat potato chips and watch “As the World Turns” or something similar.  Jason just laughed and shook his head when I told him my deepest worry for the Fall season.  How could he?!

Then – last week happened and it was a mixture of frenzy, glory and tears.  The words out of my mouth by the end of the week – “Four hours isn’t NEAR enough time!  No!!!”

I’d like to say that this is more of the perseverance that I spoke of in the last blog post – but I’d be kidding.  I am thankful for my small allotment of time.  It flies – but it’s filling my soul.

I’m listening to some different podcasts while I tidy the house (which how in the world could the 5 of us make such a mess in the morning that it takes me 90 minutes to pick up once everyone is up and running?! – does anyone else experience this?).  I’m starting to work on some projects that have been sitting on the shelf for far too long.  And I’m working hard to wake up before the boys for those 20 magical moments so I can read, journal, reflect, and pray.  Ladies – for real – this last part is so hard for me – but it is filling my soul.

Recently, I came across this devo that I had tucked into a rickety chest of drawers next to my desk until I finished this study which took me forev to do!  The devotional was given to me by a precious woman in one of my groups and in the introduction – the author, Nancy Guthrie talks about a horrific time in her life and her search for what could possibly get her through the next day, what could possibly fill her soul.  It was the author’s sister-in-law that answered – “manna”.

Just as the Israelites depended on God for food to get them through the day for 40 years – we as well depend on God to nourish our souls so that we as well can get through our days.  Especially when we think we might not make it.

And just as the Israelites couldn’t store up the food (except for the Sabbath) – nor can we.  As Nancy says – “every day, we need a fresh touch, a fresh word to nourish us and sustain us.  Yesterday’s manna, yesterday’s insights may inform us, but every day we need something new to keep us moving forward toward healing” (p.xvi, Nancy Guthrie, The One Year Book of Hope).  LURVE that!

These fresh touches, fresh words – oftentimes they do come in the still and quiet of the morning while my feet hit the pavement or while I am sitting in my cramped office, that also serves as a catch-all, reading a study or journaling to God.  But other times these touches and words come from my community – family and friends that know me.  And then there are those sweet times when it’s God disguised as a stranger.

Yesterday – the manna for my day – the thing that kept me moving forward toward healing was in the midst of a conversation I had with a fellow group facilitator.  We were processing something that came up in her group and she asked – when we choose not to show up – is it because we can’t accept ourselves right where we are at?

Her question gave me pause.  I’ve thought of all the times when I choose hiding over showing up.  When I lurk into the shadows instead of bravely walking into the light and saying – here I am – pain, hurt, ugliness and all.

It also had me wondering – what comes first – accepting ourselves (in isolation) before sharing the ugly with others?  Or sharing the ugly with others (in community) and then learning to accept ourselves as we see those around us accept us first?

I believe it’s the latter that is the more likely way we experience healing.  And that is a hard pill to swallow.  I’m reminded of something I re-read recently – We get hurt in relationships.  And – we heal in relationships.

As you continue on your journey toward hope, healing and wholeness – what is the manna that is getting you through today?  It could be words of truth in a conversation (like my example above) or it could be encouragement or grace or love.  I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

xo – Shelley

 

 

our wedding anniversary – 2018

Just a couple of days ago – Jason and I passed the 18-year mark in marriage.

While most couples would celebrate this with a card to each other at a minimum and a dinner and night away at a hotel at the other end of the spectrum – Jason and I did none of the above.

In fact, it wasn’t until I was driving to Red Rocks for an early morning workout that I realized…. it’s our anniversary!

As Jason and I went through the day together – we started to be silly and hug each other – then look at each other with one eye brow raised and say – Happy Anniversary.  I know what you are thinking so I’ll just say it out loud – this was the most non-glamorous anniversary imaginable.  No cards, no gifts, no nothing.

At least that is what it might look like from the outside.

However – on the inside there was so much more happening.

For starters, we talked throughout the day about how grateful we were to be married to each other.  And how innocent and naive our 23-year-old selves were on that day as we walked down the aisle.

I realized that – at least for the day – I had much less bitterness toward Jason than I had in the past on our anniversary.  In the past – I’ve felt so much hurt on our anniversary.  Because our wedding was a big fat lie.  What a waste.

Yet fast forward to this year – and I felt more grace than ever before for our younger selves.  More grace for Jason – knowing he was in a vicious cycle that was trying to forever take him down.  More grace for myself – that I wasn’t stupid or ignorant or blind but that I truly loved him and saw the best in him, not the worst – and certainly not his sexual integrity issues.

Second, I was able to take the day to remind myself that I have no regrets in staying with Jason.  Sure – there are no promises – I realize he is always one step away from blowing up our lives again.  I also realize that I’m one step away, too.  We are simply not the best CEO’s of our lives.  That’s why we need Jesus.

This – in fact – might be one of my biggest take-aways from this journey to date – we are all just one step away from blowing it up.

I used to think I was about infinity steps away – because I would NEVER hurt Jason by being unfaithful to him.  But as God has chipped away at my hard outer shell of arrogance and pride throughout this journey – I now see my faulty ways, too.  I need Jesus every. single. day.

Maybe I haven’t hurt Jason in the same ways he has hurt me – but I’ve hurt him nonetheless.  I am broken too.

(One caveat I need to mention here – you don’t need to look at your brokenness at the on-set of this journey.  If you are new in this process – you work on grieving – which includes a lot of kleenex, tears, snot and anger.  You’ll know when it’s time to work on you – but this is not the time and you are not the cause of your husband’s choices.)

And last – I was reminded of how much more I like myself today than ever before.  Girls – this one is just as HUGE.  Because when my marriage started to blow – I was convinced I was ruined.  My heart would never repair.  My soul was damaged for good.  Heaven come quick.

My biggest fear was I could never get the images, the stories, the experiences that my husband had without me – out of my mind.  I was tainted. Ruined. My life was over.

I am SO grateful to sit here in this coffee shop today as I type this post and tell you this – that has NOT been the case.

Sure – it has taken years to get to an inner peace in my heart and soul.  It’s taken a TON of grieving – more than I’d like to admit.  It’s taken going round and round with God and with Jason to get that repair work done.  Dang – it’s been intense.

And it’s been worth it.

So if you’re down and out and wonder – how will I ever get there – know that it’s one small step at a time.  It’s about the process.  Whether your marriage makes it or whether your marriage goes down in flames – know that YOU can and will make it.

Don’t stop fighting.  Never ever.

What is God calling you to do next?  Step out and do it – for yourself, for your marriage, for your children, for the legacy that you will leave behind.  Don’t wait.  Go now.

xo – Shelley

 

 

 

When God feels a million miles away

I mentioned in the last blog post about the most painful of sessions with my life coach.  I’ve continued to look back on April and wonder – what the heck was that and how did I get there?  So glad that month is over.

I genuinely think I was dealing with a situational depression of sorts.  I know a couple of the factors that played in – parenting being one of the biggies for sure.  And I’m also more than surprised that instead of clinging to God – I started to pull away from Him (why this takes me by surprise every time, I’m not sure!).  Pulling away from God did not help matters one bit.  In fact, it made things worse.

My daily alone time to read some of God’s truth gave way to hitting snooze on my alarm three to four times.  My desire to stay connected to God throughout the day with a skip in my heart gave way to wondering where He was and why He wanted to make my life so hard.

The gap started to widen.

It reminded me of the downward spiritual spiral I experienced just three years into my healing journey.

I wanted a break from recovery.

What I didn’t realize was that recovery and God were closely linked.  We had just moved to Denver and I was struggling to connect with other believers.  My heart started to slowly distance from God.  And before I knew it – I started wondering why would God allow the pain I had endured in my marriage.  That little break from recovery turned into a full-fledged spiritual crisis that lasted a good three years.

So back to last month – I knew deep down that the one thing I DID NOT want to happen was for my relationship with God to suffer.  And yet – how could I be true and real in the midst of my difficult season?  Could I even say I was struggling spiritually?

In some ways – I felt like that wasn’t an option.  “I mean come on now, I thought, people are counting on me.  I’ve got to be strong!  I’ve got to persevere.  And even if I need to fake it – I better do so.”

Stop the press – this is completely antithetical to what I teach and preach and emulate in my day to day.

What was I thinking?!

Someone wise proceeded to tell me – just because I’m questioning God and in a season of distrust with Him doesn’t disqualify me from helping others!  So to even think I needed to fake my relationship with God – no way.

At about this time – someone mentioned feeling distant from God in one of my groups and it opened up the door for me to say – “Me too”.  The heavy weight started to lift.  It wasn’t just me, it wasn’t just her – there were several of us.

I realized – although for some of us on this journey – our faith is what keeps us hemmed in – for others of us – there is a real spiritual crisis that we find ourselves walking through.

The latter can be down right scary.

Note to self – this is a critical part of the process if you find yourself here.  To have the space to question God.  To say things like – I don’t understand God’s timing.  I don’t understand His ways.  I don’t think He hears me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure He is a million miles away.

It’s hard stuff to say.  And hard stuff to hear.  Especially when there are no answers in the moment that can offer much reassurance.

I’ve noticed for myself that feeling and being heard can sometimes be the best medicine.  Not necessarily an answer but rather someone simply saying – “I hear you and you’re not crazy.  It makes perfect sense.  Me too.”

So if you’re finding yourself strong-arming God and questioning His goodness (for instance, you might be reading this and asking – what goodness?!) – I want you to know you are safe here.  You are not alone.  This is incredibly common for women walking this journey of betrayal.  I’d love to hear more about what you are struggling with.  I might not have the answers but I can tell you I get it.  I’ve been there.  And surprisingly (or not!), I’ll be there again.