Becoming, Coping, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Words that Kill the Soul

I saw this posted in one of my groups on Facebook. I didn’t write it. I don’t know who wrote it.  But I feel like it needed to be shared. I am looking for the author to give them credit.

Note:  The author is Tim Lawrence. He had a blog for the longest time called “The Adversity Within”.

This post is something I have felt for a long time, but I have been clumsy in knowing how to address these words that kill the soul:

Everything Happens for a Reason

I’ve heard religious leaders say it. I’ve had friends and family say it to me. I have even said it to others before.

Never again.

It’s not until you experience a life and soul shattering grief that you come to understand how painful and harmful these words are to hear.

I had many conversations with my therapist about this. She told me, “you didn’t need this to happen to you so that you could become a better person. You were already well on your way to doing that.” I agreed with her wholeheartedly! I was already into self improvement on my own. I made New Years resolutions, I set goals, and I worked to accomplish them. I worked on myself all the time. I still do.

What is hard for me to swallow is knowing that for everyone who does rise above tragedy, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, who are destroyed by it. How close I came to being utterly destroyed by this is truly frightening! I do suffer from survivors guilt. There is a very fine line where I could have fallen into the abyss of the destroyed at any point. I still could. There is nothing special about me that predisposes me for triumph over this evil that was thrust upon me. I still feel like I barely survive each day. I may always feel that way.

This post on Facebook resonated with me so much! Every word of it is true;

Saying ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’ Hurts Grieving People Instead of Helping

“I emerge from this conversation astonished. I’ve seen this a million times before, but it still gets me every time.

I’m listening to a man tell a story. A woman he knows was in a devastating car accident; her life shattered in an instant. She now lives in a state of near-permanent pain, a paraplegic, many of her hopes stolen.

He tells of how she had been a mess before the accident, but that the tragedy had engendered positive changes in her life. That she was, as a result of this devastation, living a wonderful life.

And then he utters the words. The words that are responsible for nothing less than emotional, spiritual and psychological violence:

“Everything happens for a reason”.

That this was something that had to happen in order for her to grow. That’s the kind of bullshit that destroys lives. And it is categorically untrue.

It is amazing to me that so many of these myths persist. These myths are nothing more than platitudes cloaked as sophistication, and they preclude us from doing the one and only thing we must do when our lives are turned upside down: grieve.

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You know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve heard these countless times. You’ve probably even uttered them a few times yourself. And every single one of them needs to be annihilated.

Let me be crystal clear: if you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

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So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:

“Some things in life cannot be fixed.

They can only be carried.”

These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on an increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante or a spouse cannot be fixed.

They can only be carried.

I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn’t. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we’ve replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.

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I now live an extraordinary life. I’ve been deeply blessed by the opportunities I’ve had and the radically unconventional life I’ve built for myself. Yet even with that said, I’m hardly being facetious when I say that loss has not in and of itself made me a better person. In fact, in some ways it’s hardened me.

While so much loss has made me acutely aware and empathetic of the pains of others, it has made me more insular and predisposed to hide. I have a more cynical view of human nature, and a greater impatience with those who are unfamiliar with what loss does to people.

Above all, I’ve been left with a pervasive survivor’s guilt that has haunted me all my life. This guilt is really the genesis of my hiding, self-sabotage and brokenness.

In short, my pain has never been eradicated, I’ve just learned to channel it into my work with others. I consider it a great privilege to work with others in pain, but to say that my losses somehow had to happen in order for my gifts to grow would be to trample on the memories of all those I lost too young; all those who suffered needlessly, and all those who faced the same trials I did early in life, but who did not make it.

I’m simply not going to do that. I’m not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive. I’m not going to assume that God ordained me for life instead of all the others so that I could do what I do now. And I’m certainly not going to pretend that I’ve made it through simply because I was strong enough; that I became “successful” because I “took responsibility.”

There’s a lot of “take responsibility” platitudes in the personal development space, and they are largely nonsense. People tell others to take responsibility when they don’t want to understand.

Because understanding is harder than posturing. Telling someone to “take responsibility” for their loss is a form of benevolent masturbation. It’s the inverse of inspirational porn: it’s sanctimonious porn.

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Personal responsibility implies that there’s something to take responsibility for. You don’t take responsibility for being raped or losing your child. You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don’t choose whether you grieve. We’re not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don’t get to escape grieving.

 

This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.

In so doing, we deny them the right to be human. We steal a bit of their freedom precisely when they’re standing at the intersection of their greatest fragility and despair.

No one—and I mean no one—has that authority. Though we claim it all the time.

The irony is that the only thing that even can be “responsible” amid loss is grieving.

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So if anyone tells you some form of get over it, move on, or rise above, you can let them go.

If anyone avoids you amidst loss, or pretends like it didn’t happen, or disappears from your life, you can let them go.

If anyone tells you that all is not lost, that it happened for a reason, that you’ll become better as a result of your grief, you can let them go.

Let me reiterate: all of those platitudes are bullshit.

You are not responsible to those who try to shove them down your throat. You can let them go.

I’m not saying you should. That is up to you, and only up to you. It isn’t an easy decision to make and should be made carefully. But I want you to understand that you can.

I’ve grieved many times in my life. I’ve been overwhelmed with shame and self-hatred so strong it’s nearly killed me.

The ones who helped—the only ones who helped—were those who were there. And said nothing.

In that nothingness, they did everything.

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I am here—I have lived—because they chose to love me. They loved me in their silence, in their willingness to suffer with me, alongside me, and through me. They loved me in their desire to be as uncomfortable, as destroyed, as I was, if only for a week, an hour, even just a few minutes.

Most people have no idea how utterly powerful this is.

Are there ways to find “healing” amid devastation? Yes. Can one be “transformed” by the hell life thrusts upon them? Absolutely. But it does not happen if one is not permitted to grieve. Because grief itself is not an obstacle.

The obstacles come later. The choices as to how to live; how to carry what we have lost; how to weave a new mosaic for ourselves? Those come in the wake of grief. It cannot be any other way.

Grief is woven into the fabric of the human experience. If it is not permitted to occur, its absence pillages everything that remains: the fragile, vulnerable shell you might become in the face of catastrophe.

Yet our culture has treated grief as a problem to be solved, an illness to be healed, or both. In the process, we’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. As a result, when you’re faced with tragedy you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people, you’re surrounded by platitudes.

What to Offer Instead

When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.

Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:

“I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.”

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Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you’re going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.

There is no greater act than acknowledgment. And acknowledgment requires no training, no special skills, no expertise. It only requires the willingness to be present with a wounded soul, and to stay present, as long as is necessary.

Be there. Only be there. Do not leave when you feel uncomfortable or when you feel like you’re not doing anything. In fact, it -is when you feel uncomfortable and like you’re not doing anything that you must stay.

Because it is in those places—in the shadows of horror we rarely allow ourselves to enter—where the beginnings of healing are found. This healing is found when we have others who are willing to enter that space alongside us. Every grieving person on earth needs these people.

Thus I beg you, I plead with you, to be one of these people.

You are more needed than you will ever know.

And when you find yourself in need of those people, find them. I guarantee they are there.

Everyone else can go.

 

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

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The Cupcake Warrior

Becoming, Coping, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

What I Have Learned…So Far

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Wow!  It has been 4 years in November since the second d-day of my, then, husband’s addictions.  Four long, horrible, awful, painful, nightmarish, years.  Had I known then what I know now I would have done a whole lot of things differently. Most of what I learned is bad news, but it might be of use to many of you.  Maybe this list ( in no particular order) will help you navigate the labyrinth of betrayal:

  • I learned addicts cannot tell the truth. EVER! NOT.TO.SAVE.THEIR.LIFE! They won’t. If their mouth is moving, they are lying.  It is ONLY in the DOING, not the SAYING that you will know if they are truthful or not. My Ex is STILL lying, hiding, covering things up.  That is how I know he is still mired in his addiction. Truth is the opposite of addiction.
  • I learned I could not, and should not have tried, to fix him.  He is the only one who can fix himself. So far, nothing has changed with him in four years.  And it won’t change, until he has hit bottom.
  • Betrayal is the WORST thing you could ever do to your wife and children!  It would be easier for the family if the cheater died.
  • After you discover your husband’s affair(s) you will probably not function for at least a year.
  • You will probably cry everyday for at least a year.
  • Your brain will be hyjacked into an endless loop of obessing over what happened, trying to make sense of somthing that makes no sense.
  • Your survival will be the only thing you can deal with for at least a year.
  • You will forget about all of the things you used to love, i.e., reading, crafts, hobbies, friends etc.
  • Your life will never be the same, but what comes up in its place will be good.
  • You WILL be happy again!
  • You will not begin to feel anything close to “normal” for 1-2 years.
  • You will have to work at your recovery from the trauma for, probably, the rest of your life.

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  • I still cry and get triggered even though it has been 4 years since the second d-day.
  • I will never be the same.  EVER.
  • I never knew I could withstand that depth of pain and anguish.
  • I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be.
  • I never knew I could feel that much hate for another human being.
  • I never thought I would be able to forgive any of it, but with a lot of work, I have.
  • I actually feel sorry for him for what he will face on judgment day.
  • I am only in charge of me. That is the only place I have/had any control.
  • I learned I should have left him sooner.  He had no intention of fixing himself or repairing his relationship with his family, probably from day one.  (He still doesn’t.) In the end he just walked away right into another relationship without so much as a backwards glance. We were all replace.  It was easier for him, I suppose, to get a whole new family than to fix himself, or his family.
  • Being discarded like garbage is the worst feeling I have ever experienced! Nothing comes close to ever being able to describe it.  I would have rather had cancer!
  • I have learned that porn and sex addiction is an epidemic and that I am not alone, far from it!  Thousands of women join the support groups I belong to every year.
  • Support groups are invaluable! (Send me a message and I will suggest some to you.)
  • This is NOT my fault.  This was never about me.  It had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with a character flaw in him.  Cheating on your wife is not normal behavior.  I did nothing to cause it. HE made the CHOICE to cheat and that is on him.

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  • There is NOT “two sides” to this problem.  The cheater is 100% responsible for cheating.
  • He is a coward.
  • He is selfish and self serving.
  • He can never be trusted by any woman.
  • He is not safe.
  • He is full of pride and self-importance.
  • He is fake.
  • His “repentance” is not real. Yet.
  • Friends and family do not have the bandwidth to understand you, or what you are going through.  I didn’t even have the bandwidth to understand what was happening to me.  Nothing in anyone’s life experiences prepares them for this.  This is why support groups and systems are so invaluable.
  • Most people blame the wife for being cheated on, even when the research says otherwise. “Oh she must have done _______ to deserve it.”  This is nonsense!  Cheating is a character flaw of the cheater!  Period!  If he is unhappy then he divorces his wife without all the drama of cheating.
  • Wives of narcissistic abusers, cheaters, and addicts are often shunned and not supported through their betrayal trauma by their community.
  • Wives and children of cheaters are expected to just “get over it,” even when there is zero research to support this belief.
  • The grief of betrayal is worse than the grief of death and lasts a lot longer.
  • Adult children feel betrayed too, more often than not, just as much as the wife.
  • Grandchildren also feel betrayed and do not have the maturity or understanding to be able to process it. At all.
  • The whole family is harmed and suffers for a really long time. Years, or even decades.
  • I wish I would have gone “no contact” sooner. Go “no contact” as soon as you can.
  • Going “no contact” will  probably cause him to turn his abuse on his children.
  • He cannot relate to anyone in his former family with anything that resembles kindness or compassion.
  • After his betrayal I was in serious mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual danger, and I did not know it!
  • Nobody will tell you the severity of danger you are in. Mostly because most people do not know.
  • The “reconciliation culture” will tell you it’s better to reconcile with your cheater.  There is no research to support this belief. You are welcome and encouraged to reconcile once.  After that, I would say its better to move on while you still have some self-esteem, and years, left.
  • I can’t find very many successful cases of a recovering sex/porn addicts that fixed the mess he made with his family. Not enough to warrant staying in an abusive marriage with an addict.
  • Divorce is not an easier solution, but it may be the only solution.
  • When an addict says, “I don’t have an addiction,” believe them, and walk away.  There is nothing you can do if they won’t even admit they have a problem.
  • Save yourself first. You can’t save someone from drowning if you are drowning too.
  • He is responsible for his own recovery.  You are not his support system!  Do not ever put yourself in this role.
  • If it comes between choosing your own life or your spouse, choose your own life!
  • Addicts are master manipulators, gaslighters, and destroyers of those they used to claim to love.
  • Manipulation tactics are many, and go by many names: gaslighting, turning the tables, crazy-making, projection, deflection, misdirection, shaming, lying, minimizing, personal attacks, blaming, just to name a few.
  • Addicts are abusers.
  • Cheaters are abusers.
  • Keep copies of ALL evidence of his cheating, addiction, and abuse.  This means to keep all phone records, emails, pictures, screenshots, texts, and, please, keep a journal.
  • Addicts are usually narcissists too. On the other hand, narcissist are not always addicts.
  • Addicts can also be a sociopath.
  • Study, study, study, everything you can about every topic in this list! (Topics are highlighted in blue.)
  • Narcissists do not seek treatment, it is their nature to believe they do not have a problem.
  • Addicts won’t change or seek treatment unless they really want to change, or hit bottom, or are forced to change through legal means.
  • The Addict’s number one goal is self-preservation. They will sacrifice everything to cover up their secret, that includes you, and the kids.
  • The learning curve of addiction is steep and nothing in your life will prepare you for it in advance. You will have to learn about it on your own, and usually the hard way. Seek help as soon as possible!
  • Nothing about betrayal is fair.
  • Cheaters/addicts have no empathy and cannot express empathy for what they have done to you or your children.
  • Cheaters expect that you just accept that they blew up your family without any serious consequences.
  • Cheaters often say they did this to you and your children because ” THEY deserve to be happy.”
  • Cheaters and addicts are inherently selfish. Addiction is selfish.
  • Addicts don’t know how to be sincerely sorry, and will refuse to make sufficient amends for the harm they caused you.
  • Addicts do not respect anyone, mostly, because they do not respect themselves.
  • Addicts feel entitled to expect their families to forgive, forget, and just move on as if nothing happened.
  • Addicts feel entitled to lots of things they have not earned, i.e, trust, forgiveness, support, kindness, etc.
  • Addicts do not take personal responsibility for the consequences of their own choices and actions.
  • Addicts will demand that you see they are repenting and you must forgive them with zero proof they are making any changes. You are expected to believe them solely on their word.
  • Addicts expect their children to accept their affair partner or othe other woman.
  • Lawyers and the laws do not do a good job of supporting or protecting the innocent victims of cheaters and addicts.  Even your own lawyer may not be protecting your best interests.
  • Courts don’t care if a spouse, or his affair partner, is mentally or emotionally dangerous for children.  Many children do not want to see the cheating parent, but are forced to comply by the courts.
  • Cheaters, amazingly, continue to abuse and torture their spouse and/or children long after the divorce is over, with no justification.  The only way to protect yourself from this is to go “no contact.”
  • Wives with children at home cannot go completely “no contact” and are subjected to continued abuse.
  • Women are often betrayed and abused over and over by their spouse, to the point that they end up with serious emotional disorders like PTSD, CPTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, and betrayal trauma.
  • Addicts will never give you closure. (See, they cannot tell the truth.) You will never know which parts of your life are true, and which ones were lies. They would rather you suffer than to admit to what you already suspect.
  • Most people do not understand the nature of sex or porn addiction even though porn addiction effects at least 1/2 of the population.
  • Porn and sex addictions are just as harmful and dangerous as drugs, alcohol, cocaine, or meth addictions. The difference is they carry these chemicals around with them inside their body to use “on demand” and without detection, for a long time before you are even aware of it.
  • It takes 5 years to fully recover from a sex/porn addiction.  And that is if the addict is fully onboard with recovery from the beginning and committed to stick with it for the rest of his life.  Every slip or relapses sets him back at least another year.
  • Less than 1% of marriages to a cheating partner have any chance of lasting.
  • 12-Step Programs are useless for victims of betrayal trauma!  You cannot be an enabler of something you never knew existed!
  • You need a therapist/group/support system that understands betrayal trauma.
  • The only people who will understand what you are going through are people who have been there.

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  • The “other woman” (OW) did not win a prize when she “won” your husband, she just inherited all of his problems and addictions.
  • The OW is more than likely clueless and stupid and has no idea what she got herself into since all she will know about him is what he told her, and he controls the narrative where she is concerned. She will wake up eventually.
  • The OW will rarely seek out the truth about why he left his family, that is, unless she was partly responsible, then she really doesn’t care.
  • Men who cheat do not change for the OW.  It’s only a matter of time before he cheats on her too.
  • The OW doesn’t have any special gifts or magic to change him, she is NOT better than you.  She isn’t kinder, more beautiful, or something more special than you are.  She is clueless.  That is her only superpower!
  • Men who cheat do not change.  Period.  They are not that self-aware or introspective. (Remember, real recovery takes 5 years!)
  • The OW is also a cheater, and in biblical terms, she is a whore.
  • A cheater picked the OW because he could no longer fool you about his addiction/cheating, but he knows he can fool her. That is why he is with her and not with you.
  • Cheaters will choose the OW over their own children. In this case, blood is NOT thicker than water when it comes to betrayal.
  • Cheaters will walk away from their family over the OW and never look back.  Many of them give up decades of life and history with their wives and children.
  • Addicts will try to engage you in something called “the pick me dance.” This is where they will expect you to bend over backwards trying to prove that you are better than the OW and that he should pick you over her.  They will try to get you to convince them that you really want them back, all the while coming up with stupid ass reasons why you don’t. This is ridiculous and should be avoided at all costs. It is designed to drive your crazy. He wants you to act crazy so he can justify cheating on you. ” My wife is crazy, she doesn’t love me or understand me like you do!”
  • Addicts and cheaters “want their cake and eat it too!” So they will lie and hide the OW so he can keep you both for as long as possible.
  • Trauma bonding, also known as the Stockholm Syndrome, is a real thing and will cause you to want your cheater back even though you know that would be harmful to you to take him back.
  • You will miss your old life and him horribly.  But you will also come to realize that the life you thought you had with him was a total lie, so you are missing something you never really had in the first place.
  • You will come to understand that your relationship with the addict was no real relationship at all, that you were the one who did all the work to keep the relationship going.  Everything you thought you had, was very one-sided.
  • You will spend YEARS recovering from the trauma of being betrayed.
  • Betrayal trauma recovery will demand that you make a lifestyle change.
  • The karma bus ALWAYS comes to visit the Cheater and the OW.  Always. Even if it looks like he got away with everything right now.  He didn’t.
  • Porn/Sex addictions are the plague of our time and is being called a public health crises.
  • Addicts and cheaters are not original in their behaviors.  They all pretty much do and say the same crazy sh*t, as if they were all given a “cheaters handbook.” When you learn this simple fact you are free to know, for a fact. when they are lying to you.  The lies are all the same! (see your therapist for a copy of the cheaters handbook.)
  • Likewise, men in recovery will also do and say the same things, but it is a much different list and comes from a place of godly sorrow, remorse, repentance, restitution and humility.
  • You won’t have to wonder if your husband is in recovery, you will know!  And if you don’t know, then the answer is that he is NOT in recovery.
  • There is a saying that goes, “you cannot get an addict to tell you anything about his recovery, but a man in real recovery will never stop talking about it.” That is how you know.
  • Addicts in recovery don’t hide anything!  They will tell you what you want to know before you can even ask!

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I am sure there are other things I have learned, but these stand out to me right now.  It has been a very difficult learning process, but I am grateful now that I know what I know. I never believed that this could have ever happened to me. Not in a billion years! I never believed that my ex-husband could be “this kind of man.” But I am grateful to all the people who have helped me through this so far!  My children have been a tremendous support!  I love them and I will always be grateful they were old enough to see what was happening for themselves.  I am grateful for my therapists and support groups!  I am grateful for the new skills I have learned because of this. I am always going to have a special place in my heart for a Bishop who “gets it!” And I couldn’t have made it this far without my Heavenly Father who helped me navigate this awful mess and brought people and  things into my life when I needed them the most. And lastly, I am grateful for this blog and the courage that it took for me to tell my story, it has helped me sort it out and make some sense of something that just doesn’t make any sense! This has been a huge piece of my recovery of me!

Someday… I will be grateful my ex did this to me….however, today is not that day.

What have you learned in your journey of recovery? Can you add anything to this list?

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

Becoming, Uncategorized

Choose Joy

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I am at the point in my healing where I am sick of feeling horrible. I want to stop thinking about him, what he is doing, how he is feeling, how he could do this to us.  You know what?  It doesn’t matter anymore.  I cannot change him!  He is a lost cause.  I cannot save him.  I need to stop trying.  I need to choose joy!

I came out of the crap storm relatively ok.  I still have my kids and they love me.  I still have my grandchildren in my life.  My friends and family support me.  I have the love and support of my church family.  Compared to him and what he has been left with (her), I have everything! I need to choose joy!

I need to stop focusing on losing him.  He is only one piece, and not a very good one, of a very blessed and full life.  He is not the end-all, be-all, of a my life.  He left. I need to let him. He made his choice.  I need to choose joy!  So JOY is the focus of everything I will do in 2018.  And in that spirit, my posts from here on out will be on how I am choosing to heal, things that work for me, and how I choose joy.  It’s time to move on…

 

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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Becoming, dating, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

10 Things I Love About You

I have been thinking a lot about dating lately.  I have been reading books and articles online about what I want to do in this new phase of my life.  It is scary to me to be back in the dating world.  I never thought I would be here again.  And after 38 years of marriage, its been a long, long time since I “dated.” I am really not looking forward to it at all to tell the truth. But as long as I am here in this place I might as well dream BIG! I can afford to be very picky.  One of the luxuries I have afforded myself is that I don’t NEED to get married again.  And I am not interested in getting married again unless I can find the right person.  But who is the “right person?” How would I define him and how do I find him?

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I was talking about this recently with a friend and she shared with me some advice she was given.  I thought it was pretty good advice, so good, that I wanted to share it with you now. The advice is pretty simple, but profound:

Make a list of 10 or so qualities that you want in a partner…and then go date.  30 dates in 6 months to be exact.  The idea is that you are dating with a purpose.  You want to find the guy who has all of your “10 things.” You can do that by dating a lot of different people and taking inventory.  Remembering as you date, that you are looking for something specific.  The list also allows you to let go of certain people before you get too attached to them if they don’t measure up. I love this idea so much that I have come up with my own list of “10 Things I Love About You.”

I have given this list a lot of thought and prayer.  It’s a good idea to tweek the list as you go when you figure out some things are less or more important than others. But the underlying idea is stop you from compromising what you need or want too much.  This is a critical point, espeically for an empath.  Being an empathetic person means that you are predisposed to acquiescing your needs for someone else’s. I know I have had this problem.  My ex-husband spent a lot of time an energy turning me into what he needed me to be, and very little time become the man I needed him to be.

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10 Things I Love About You

  1. Righteousness – He needs to be a righteous priesthood holder who honors his priesthood and respects and honors the role of women.  Holding a current temple recommend is require. He will take to heart D&C 121:34-40 and seek to put it into practice. He will pray with me, study the scriptures with me, and attend the temple often with me. I crave deep, meaningful discussions on gospel related topics. A spiritual connection is a must!
  2. Put’s Me First – “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it.” This says it all for me. I don’t want to be second, third or fourth behind work, church callings or anything else.  The only person who is more impotant than me should be God.  I deserve to be first.
  3. Has Never Cheated on His Wife or Girlfriends – This one is a deal breaker for me.  I need to be able to trust him and cheaters are just not trustworthy. (see #4) Being faithful is a big deal for me because I NEVER want to go through this again.  I can’t. I won’t survive it. I need this high level of integrity.
  4. Does NOT Have a Porn or Sex Addiction – Along with number 3 this can also be a deal breaker.  The only exception to this is if he is practicing recovery and has sustained that for 5 years. If he is a former addict he will need to demonstrate that he has had a complete lifestyle change, and has sustained that over time, and is committed to never returning to a life of addiction.
  5. Humility – He can admit when he is wrong, and is quick to apologize.  He is humble enough to provide me with the safety and trust I need, which means he will let me check his computer, cell phone, and social media to ease any of my worries.
  6. Communication – His communication style fosters connection.  He is easy to talk to and is straight forward in his intentions.  He doesn’t use tactics like manipulation, sarcasm, putting me down in front of others, or making jokes at my expense. His communication with me reflects his real feelings for me and his words are spoken from a place of love.
  7. Speaks My Love Language – My love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.  It’s important to me that any man who is interested in me knows how to speak these two love languages, frequently. Also, I am a hopeless romantic so that is very important to me. I want to be romanced. I want to be surprised and get flowers for no reason.
  8. Compatible with an INFP -INFP personalities are true idealists, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better. While they may be perceived as calm, reserved, or even shy, INFPs have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine. Comprising just 4% of the population, the risk of feeling misunderstood is unfortunately high for the INFP personality type – but when they find like-minded people to spend their time with, the harmony they feel will be a fountain of joy and inspiration.  INFPs do everything they can to be the ideal partner, staying true to themselves and encouraging their partners to do the same. INFPs take their time in becoming physically intimate so that they can get to know their partners, using their creativity to understand their wants and needs, and adapt to them. People with this personality type are generous in their affection, with a clear preference for putting the pleasure of their partners first – it is in knowing that their partners are satisfied that INFPs truly feel the most pleasure. I need to be understood! He needs to “get me.”
  9. Sense of Fun and Spontaneous – I have learned I really love doing new things, having fun, and being a little bit spontaneous.  One thing I really love is dancing.  I’ve missed it. I want that back in my life.  Spontaneous dancing in the kitchen is a must! If you can sing to me, even better! I also want someone who will go to places like Disneyland with me and not sit on the bench. Being engaged  and present during family activities is a must!
  10. Loves My Family – I was not the only one betrayed.  My children and grandchildren were betrayed as well.  The infidelity of my husband left a big hole in all of our hearts.  “New guy”needs to understand that when he marries me he gets a whole family who needs the healing that his love can provide.

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It goes without saying that I am committed to do these things too. I cannot expect something of anyone that I won’t also expect of myself.  I want these things to be reciprocal. Many of them were not in my marriage or lost somewhere along the way.  It’s time for me to be picky and to have what I want and need. And what if he isn’t out there?  I will be content to wait…into the next life if I have to…no more compromising for me. I’ve given up too much already.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet

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Becoming, dating, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Celestial Dating Rules

Now that I am single at this point in my life, and I am faced with dating again, I find it important to define my standards for dating.  This came to my attention when a man I was dating asked me to come to his house to watch a movie…alone.  The invitation made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure why but after thinking about it for a while I remembered these dating rules that I used to teach to the youth when I was an Early Morning Seminary Teacher for the church. Sure enough, rule #7, Never go into the house or apartment of the opposite sex alone.  So I shared these rules with the man I was dating.  It turns out that he had other things on his mind, because I never heard from him again, which is fine with me! I kind of feel like these rules will pull the weeds out of the dating field for me and help me to eliminate potential problems right at the beginning.

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Now, you might feel like these dating rules do not apply to “older people.”  I would like to direct you to rule number 17 – Never think you are the exception.  So laugh at me all you want for committing to dating on this level, but the kind of man I want to attract won’t have a problem with them at all.  After everything I have been through there is too much at stake to make stupid mistakes.

It turns out that many singles in the church struggle with remaining chaste.  It’s sad but true and I am not interested in being one of those.  So to any of my former students, I want you to know that I am dedicated to practicing what I preach and will abide by the same rules I taught all of them so many years ago…

Preface to the 17 Dating Rules

David of old, choice in the sight of God, allowed his eternal soul to fall into the depths of hell.  Can we say that God has been with us as much as He was with David in his youth?  Can we claim the faith in God that David showed?  Yet, David fell!  We can fall too, no matter how choice we are.  To fail to understand that is to have fallen prey to one of Satan’s biggest lies.

Why did David Fall?  He failed to obey his God.  In doing this he physically placed himself in a position which could allow sin to strike.  Had David turned away his head and not invited Bathsheba to his home, he likely would be exalted today.

I have looked into the tear-filled, sorrowful eyes of too many good latter-day saint youth involved in moral transgressions not to know how easy it is to fall.  I have asked myself time and time again why some fall and others do not.  Surely such a question would require a very complicated answer.  Yet, after many hundreds of hours of interviews, it became obvious that those who had fallen into transgression, had simply made some common errors.

Time after time, physical surroundings, circumstances, and activities were all repeated, and all seemed to set the stage for sin to seize young lives.  Bitterness, regret, sorrow, and a feeling of despair quickly replaced excitement and enthusiasm.

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The message of the following rules is plain and simple:  You CAN and must be the one to control your life in order to be free from sin.

Where you are, who you are with, where you are going, what you are doing, and what time you are doing it, are all controlled by you, and will help or hinder you.

Following many interviews, it became apparent, that the key to maintaining moral chastity was in preventive action.  President Kimball put it this way:

“The secret of the good life is in protection and prevention.  Those who yield to evil are usually those who have placed themselves in a vulnerable position.”

To help substantiate what I have written, I have used many quotes from President Kimball, but much of the counsel comes from hours of interviews with young people.  To follow these rules will require humility and spiritual strength added to a desire to be valiant.

Prayer, scripture study, church attendance and giving service to others are all necessary prerequisites to having the strength to follow the counsel.  These rules are strict, but, make no mistake, so is the Lord strict!  The rewards of a chaste life are far greater than the sacrifices necessary to follow this counsel.  There is hardly anything greater to assist you in obtaining the Celestial Kingdom than to be worthy to marry the right person a t the proper time in you life, in the Temple.

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Seventeen Rules for Celestial Dating

1.      No dating until age 16; no single dating until 18.
2.      Missions for boys before serious dating.
3.      Do not date nonmembers or unworthy members.
4.      Do not participate in kissing-hugging sessions.
5.      No French kissing.
6.      Do not park.
7.      Never, never go into a home or an apartment alone.
8.      Never, never go into a bedroom.
9.      No back rubs.
10.    Do not lie down by each other or on top of each other.
11.    Attend only wholesome activities.
12.    No immodest dress.
13.    Date in couples or groups most often.
14.    No late hours.
15.    Each partner should be responsible for his own actions.
16.    Discuss dating rules with partners.
17.    Do not think that you are the exception

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Explanation of the Seventeen Rules for Celestial Dating:

1.  NO DATING UNTIL AGE 16.
President Kimball tells us, “Any dating or  pairing off in social contacts should be postponed until at least the age of 16 or older, and even then there should be much judgement used in selections and in the seriousness.”  President Kimball goes on to counsel us that beginning the dating process too soon almost always brings young immature marriages or immorality and sin.  He says that early dating is often done with parental approval, “yet it is near criminal to subject a tender child to the temptations of maturity.” Remember,   NO STEADY DATING  until after missions.  It is an excellent idea to double or group date for most of your dating until at least the age of 18.  (Quotes in order:  Ensign,  Feb.  1975,  p.  4:  Miracle of Forgiveness,  p. 223)

2.   MISSIONS BEFORE SERIOUS DATING.
President Kimball advises, “Every boy should have been saving money for his mission and be free from any and all entanglements so he will be worthy.  When he is returned from his mission at 21, he should feel free to begin to get acquainted and to date.”  He tells us further that,  “. . . one can have all the blessings if he is in control and takes the experiences in proper turn, first some limited social get-acquainted contacts, then his mission, then his courting, then his temple marriage and his schooling and his family, then his life’s work,”  A word to you young ladies of the church:  You should always encourage a young man to fulfill his mission.  NEVER be the cause of a young man deciding to stay home for any reason, for you will be held accountable!  Missions for young men of the church supersede marriage in importance from ages 19 to 25 (mission age). (Quotes:  Ensign,  Feb.  1975,  p. 4)

3.  DO NOT DATE NON-MENBERS OR UNWORTHY MEMBERS.  NO MISSIONARY WORK ONE-ON-ONE WITH MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX.
I do not believe that the Lord would expect the choice young people of His Church to find their eternal mates among nonmembers or inactive members!  It does not make sense.  He would not ask us to go against both His Counsel through the ages or against the counsel of his prophets.  President Kimball tells us, : . . . clearly, right marriage begins with right dating . . . therefore, this warning comes with great emphasis.  DO NOT take the chance of dating nonmembers, or members who are untrained and faithless.:  Do not rationalize this by saying that you are doing missionary work.  The Lord does not instruct us to do missionary work in romantic relationships.  This kind of friendshipping should be done in groups.  Missionary work must be done without hazard of emotional romantic involvement that leads to conditions which confuse the potential candidate as to his purpose in investigating or joining the Church,  I am quite aware that we have faithful members of the Church who have joined as a result of exposure to the Church by their spouse.  We are grateful for them; however, for every success story, there are numerous tragic stories of members and nonmembers alike being hurt by such,  Have the faith to follow the prophet in this most important matter. (Quote: The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 241)

4.  DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN “KISSING-HUGGING” SESSIONS.
This is called “making out” or “necking”.   I am not talking about the serious sin of “petting”, but the lengthy make-out sessions that many feel are “okay” as long as you do not let it go too far.  President Kimball teaches us, ” . . . among the most common sexual sins our young people commit are necking and petting.  Not only do these improper relations often lead to fornication, pregnancy, and abortions—all ugly sins—but in and of themselves they are pernicious evils . . . “.   Necking or making out, the kissing-hugging session, is wrong IN AND OF ITSELF, not just because it may lead to something worse,  I am not saying that there isn’t a proper time in dating relationship to kiss.  There is a proper time and place.  President Kimball advises us, ” . . . kissing would be saved at least until these later hallowed courtship days when they could be free from sex and have a holy meaning.”  In an address delivered to RETURNED MISSIONARIES  (not high school-aged people, but those in the courting years),  President Kimball said, ” . . . a kiss is an evidence of affection.  A kiss is an evidence of love, not an evidence of lust—but it can be.  Don’t ever let a kiss in your courtship spell lust.  Necking and petting are lustful;  they are not love . . . I don’t mind your kissing each other after you have had several dates;  [remember who he is speaking to here–returned missionaries],  but not the ‘Hollywood kiss,’ not the kiss of passion, but the kiss of affection, and there won’t be any trouble.  Now remember these things.”(Quotes in order:  The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 65, Ibid; p. 231;  An address delivered by Elder Spencer Kimball Jan. 2, 1959.)

5.  NO FRENCH KISSING.
This type of conduct is far too intimate and is extremely suggestive.   A French kiss is the “Hollywood” kiss that President Kimball described above.

6.  DO NOT PARK.
Especially in the high school years, parking in an automobile has been the down fall of many choice young people.  The prophet, President Kimball, tells us that, “in interviewing repenting young folks, as well as some older ones, I am frequently told that the couple met their defeat in the dark, at late hours, in secluded areas …the car was most often the confessed seat of the difficulty,  It became their brothel.”  BEWARE.  Often I have found that a couple originally parked to discuss a problem or work out an argument—not to make out—however, after the problem was resolved, they kissed to make-up and things developed from there.  It does not matter the reason; DO NOT PARK.  After a date, GO HOME!  Once you get home, go into the house, ALONE!  Just don’t ever place yourself where something could happen.  Remember President Kimball’s statement, ” . . . those who yield to evil are usually those who have placed themselves in a vulnerable position.”

7.   NEVER, NEVER GO INTO A HOME OR AN APARTMENT ALONE.
I estimate that 80% to 85% of the young people I interviewed, who were involved in a moral transgression of any sort, got involved in a home or an apartment.  This is especially true of college age members who have their own apartments.  If you would live just this one rule ALWAYS, you would significantly reduce your chances of ever falling.  If you are in a home or apartment with others and they slowly all leave except for you and your partner, then ONE OF YOU should leave at that time also!  DO NOT underestimate the power of Satan to use your natural drives, if you place yourself in a vulnerable position enough times YOU WILL FALL.   Don’t give Satan a chance . . . that is all he needs!

8.  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GO INTO A BEDROOM.
Bedrooms are not for entertaining friends of the opposite sex;  not even to listen to records, watch TV, do homework or etc.  Do not let a bedroom become a familiar place to be with members of the opposite sex.

9.  NO BACK RUBS.
Becoming too familiar with each other physically offers liberties NOT entitled to single couples, and is wrong.  Back rubs hove too often led to more intimate acts.

10.  DO NOT LIE DOWN BY EACH OTHER OR ON TOP OF EACH OTHER.
I’m sorry to have to be so blunt, but lying down to watch TV, lying down in the park, on the beach or wherever, places you in a position that is not needed and is spiritually unhealthy.  When you watch TV, SIT UP!  When you go on a picnic. Sit up!  When you have a good night kiss (at the proper time in a relationship) don’t recline to do it.  ALSO, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER lie on top of each other.  This is absolutely wrong.  And, this advise applies to all young people – especially engaged couples.

11.  ATTEND ONLY WHOLESOME ACTIVITIES.
“X”, “R”, and most “PG-13” and “PG” rated movies are NOT appropriate to see on dates or at any time.   President Kimball advises us that, “… danger spots likely to have most appeal among the youth, and which should be shunned as one would shun a poisonous serpent, are undesirable movies and improper TV programs.”  I have had many Church members (young and old) tell me that they just “overlook” the filth in a movie and not let it affect them adversely.  That’s IMPOSSIBLE!  You cannot go to a movie or to any entertainment which portrays sexual, violent or verbal pornographic material, as do most movies today, and not be affected and spiritually hurt.  It affects you whether you like it or not!  In fact, if you find that this kind of material does not offend you, then this is a sure sign that you have already been spiritually damaged in your life and don’t even know it.   We should avoid drive-in movies for dates.  President Kimball, in talking of drive-in movies, said the following:”There in the car, in dark privacy, with suggestive, voluptuous acting on the screen, was Satan’s near-perfect setting for sin.  With outward appearances of decency and respectability, with an absence of holy immoral acts – acts which would at least be much less likely in the living room or in the formal theater on Main Street.”  Further, if you find yourself at a party where alcoholic beverages are being served, where the lighting is poor, where couples are making out in the corners, where drugs are being used, or anything else not conducive to maintaining the spirit, LEAVE!  When you are at dances be careful of your posture on slow dances (NO BEAR HUGGING AT ALL even though everyone else [Mormon’s included] are doing it), and be careful of your intimations on fast dances.  Now, please never go to bars – even just to dance or listen to the music.  If you frequent bars, you will fall into serious transgressions.  I HAVE YET TO FIND AN EXCEPTION TO THAT STATEMENT.  (Quotes in order:  The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 229; Ibid, p. 225)

12.  NO IMMODEST DRESS.
Dress that is modest and becoming a LDS young man or young lady is most important at all times and is most important when dating.  Girls, immodest clothing includes two-piece swimming suits or ones with low necklines and french-cut sides, halter tops, short shorts, tight-fitting clothes, short skirts, low necklines, etc.  Boys, keep your shirts on and buttoned up!  (Even in the summer)  President Kimball tells us that those who do not actively resist the evil influence of immodesty will “absorb and foster it.”  He goes on to say, “I see some of our LDS mothers, wives, and daughters wearing dresses extreme and suggestive in style.  Even some fathers encourage it.  I wonder if our sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered or dress in tight-fitting, body-revealing, form-fitting sweaters … We cannot overemphasize immodesty as one of the pitfalls to be avoided if we would shun temptation and keep ourselves clean.”  On occasions, I have found young ladies who wore things which were immodest and did not realize it.  ALL looked well in the mirror as they stood there with shoulders back and standing up straight.  What they did not realize is that they don’t stand straight all day – they sit, they stoop, they lean over, and their clothes become immodest.  Make sure all of your clothing is modest for all occasions. One of the most disappointing times I had as a Bishop was when I took the ward members swimming and saw the immodest suits the girls wore.  After that occasion, I had to announce for the girls to wear a T-shirt over their suits at future ward parties.  How unfortunate that any LDS girl would own a swimming suit that she could not use for LDS functions.  Girls, as hard as it may be, search until you can find a modest swimming suit or make your own! (Quote:  The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 226.)

13.  DATE IN COUPLES OR GROUPS MOST OFTEN.
Even after the age of 18, it is desirable to date in couples or groups.  Dating in groups is not only safer, but you will find that it is much more enjoyable.  You will also get to know things about your date that you could not find out any other way because with more people, there is naturally more conversation.  As we get older, we tend to think that we are “above” group dating.  This is a serious error.  Do not make single dating the largest portion of your dating.  Sometimes when we start to like someone quite a bit, we tend to single date almost exclusively . . . this is a dangerous mistake.

14.  NO LATE HOURS.  We should be in from our dates by 12:30 (college age) and 12:00 (high school age) or sooner.  Most proper functions will end in time for you to go straight home and be in on time.  Do not make it a habit to be out late or up late for that matter.  Not all moral problems occur late at night, but many, many do!  When we are tired and have become more relaxed with each other through the evening, it is very easy to let down our guard . . . that is all Satan needs.  Resistance seems to be lower at night, so make it a habit to be in early from your dates.  THIS DOES NOT MEAN that if you go to one of your homes you can stay up longer than this hour.  You both should be at your respective homes at this time.

15.  EACH PARTNER SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OWN ACTIONS.  Dating is a two-way arrangement.  You are each responsible for your own actions.  Never allow another person to control your actions.  Never say to yourself, “this young man or woman is so good that they could never do anything wrong.  Whatever they would do would be okay.”  Anyone can make errors.  You must have firmly planted in your mind right from wrong, and do not let ANYONE talk you into anything that would not meet the Savior’s approval.  Know exactly what you are going to do on a date before you go.  To go on a date without a plan may sound harmless, or even exciting, but it can lead to trouble very easily.

16.  DISCUSS DATING RULES WITH PARTNERS.  As you date, especially with those you really like, discuss these rules and your standards so that you each understand what you expect from yourself and your relationship with each other.  Set the stops now while your minds are clear and unhampered by emotions.  It is virtually impossible to set them in the middle of a passion-filled night.  If a dating partner is not willing to follow these rules or thinks they are too strict, DROP THEM FLAT!  Never let your standards relax . . . even for what may seem to be the best young man or woman you have ever known!  If you want the help of the Lord and his blessings, follow his counsel.

17.  DO NOT THINK THAT YOU ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THESE RULES.  Don’t say to yourself,  “Boy do I know so-and-so who needs these rules.”  The rules are for you!  To think that it could never happen to you is a major error of gigantic proportions.  IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU.   It can happen to you, to Bishops, to stake Presidents or anyone who places themselves in such a position.  Rules are for everyone.  I remember clearly a visiting general authority counseling the bishops in my stake to never interview a woman in the ward alone in the building, and to not give women or young ladies rides somewhere alone.  Why are there rules for bishops?  Because they too can fall!  I believe that, and I followed that advice.  On cold winter days, after interviewing a young lady in the Institute building, I would drive back to work and pass her on the road as she walked back to the dorm.  RULES ARE FOR EVERYONE.  Don’t ever think,  “Oh, I would never do that so it is okay if I go into an apartment alone, or park, or whatever.”  This is an open invitation to Satan to prove you wrong!  And, he will!  The biggest error of all is to think that you are an exception to one of these rules.

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Now these are not all of the rules we might follow in dating.  If you have good parents, they may have similar or other rules like these.  They may limit the  number of dates you have in a month, or require that you go out with a variety of partners rather than not just one.  But, I have never talked to a young person yet who has committed a moral transgression of ANY kind who has not broken several of these rules.

Remember, breaking these rules interferes with Celestial Dating and falling in love.  They DO NOT bind you down, but rather free you from the things that cause countless heartaches. . . things that have contributed to many a Celestial candidate falling to a lower kingdom.

By:  President Steven H. and Anita Satterfield, Pocatello, Idaho

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Becoming, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

If I Can Do It…Anybody Can

The following is a talk I gave in church two weeks ago on “Faith.”  I included it here because it is a part of my journey and my story:

Apparently, I have raised a family of highly competent and competitive children.  It is not uncommon for the simplest of family activities to turn into a full-blown competition, complete with lively and braggadocious conversations about how this one or that one is going to “out do” the others. These contests of strength and prowess can come up in nearly any conversation, and on almost any topic, “well, if Brent can do it, then I certainly can!”  We pick on Brent because he is pretty much accomplished at everything he does, and we love him, so we don’t want him to get a big head.  Plus, he is generally good-natured and self-deprecating about his abilities and accomplishments.  On the other hand, when it comes to me, I am the low bar standard of family competitions. In tones that are less than flattering it is declared, “Well, if Maaa-ggaahhh can do it…” (My Grandchildren call me Magah.) The grandkids even join in on that one! And that is ok. I am happy to be the low bar standard, if it is the best motivation to get them moving in the right direction.

In this atmosphere of good-natured ribbing and one-up-man-ship, we give each other the faith to try.  To pursue the unknown, and to go where no man, or woman, has gone before. I say, dream big.  “Go big, or go home” is my motto. If we turn it into a competition, we can generally get each other to do almost anything, including playing Nertz with the Bennett’s, wherein we KNOW we are going to lose before we even get started. And yet we continue to engage because we have faith, that one day, we will take them down!

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According to Joseph Smith in his Lectures on Faith, “faith is the moving cause of all action…in all intelligent beings. All accountable and intelligent beings have faith in this sense.  Such is part of life itself.  Because faith dwells in the hearts of all mankind, they sow with the assurance of reaping; they plant with the hope of harvesting; they exert themselves in the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and intelligence because they believe they can obtain them. Without this faith, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity and their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.”

Unlike, our family that uses competition and comparison for the faith to try, our Father in Heaven shows us in His character, attributes and perfections, a more excellent way.  We know from the scriptures the nature of God is that:

  1. He is an eternal being
  2. He is merciful and gracious
  3. He is an unchangeable being
  4. He is truthful
  5. He is impartial
  6. He is loving

And because we know He is these things, we can center our faith on him to lay claim on eternal life and salvation.

It is upon this sure foundation of the character, attributes and perfections of God, and his Son, Jesus Christ, that we hear prophets declare with unshakable assurance things like;

“With God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37

and…

“I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheth me.” Philippians 4:13

Because their character’s are unimpeachable, because their attributes are completely just, and because they are perfect, we can have absolute faith in them to do whatever is necessary for us to reach out to them and never let go.  And this faith allows us to move forward with the utmost confidence that they will do what they say, and that if we follow them, we can, through them, lay claim to salvation and eternal life!  I can even know that I can beat the Bennett’s at Nertz if I want it enough.

Brothers and Sisters, the way I see it, there is no downside to this arrangement!  We all can know with absolute assurance that we can, and will be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, no matter what else may happen to us!  And all because we know God and Jesus Christ are eternal, merciful and gracious, unchangeable beings,  who are truthful, impartial and loving. They have always been this way, they will always be this way, yesterday, today and forever.  You can rely on them 100% for forever! Once we grasp this about them, we will no longer wonder why we can do anything because of them!

So, yes, I may be the low bar standard to any competition in my family.  But am I really?   Most of you know I am having to endure a terrible trial, one that is so devastatingly challenging, that is has wrenched my gut, snapped all my heartstrings, and left me to cry everyday in a fetal position in the corner for the better part of two-years.  But even in this condition I had the good sense, like Peter, who was sinking into the depths of the sea, to cry out, “Lord, save me!” Why?  Because I know instinctively, who it is “who is mighty to save!” I know who I am, and whose I am.  So that in my hour of desperate darkness, I know where to find the light, however faint it might be to me at any given moment.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

As I mentioned before, I learned, though this experience, that my default button is faith.  It is what enabled me to cry out, instinctively, and desperately, in my deepest hour of need, “Lord! Save me!” But I did not know I would, or could, do that, until it actually happened.  I didn’t come here in a day, a week or a year.  It was a thousand little choices over a lifetime that led me to this place.  It was placing one foot in front of the other and moving along the path of my life, having faith in a loving Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ because I knew their nature, character, attributes and perfections.

Bruce R. McConkie stated:

“In order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality, what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path – thus charting a course leading to eternal life – and then, being on that path, pass out of this life in full fellowship….What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church – keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes…you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure.”

Brothers and Sisters, it really is just that easy, but you have to decide, today, which path you want to be on and who you will follow? You just have to make up your mind to give the Lord your heart, and let’s be honest, that is the only gift you have to give him, because everything else is already His.

So what exactly are the mile markers on the path of faith?  How do we train ourselves to have a muscle memory of faith so that when the storms of life rage all around us we instinctively cry out, “Lord, save me?”

Nephi lays it all out for me with such plainness that even I could understand and apply it:

“And now my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this straight and narrow path, I would ask if all is done?  Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for you have not come thus far save it were but the word of Christ with the unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

Wherefore, ye must press forward, with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting up the words of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father; ye shall have eternal life.” 2 Nephi:19-20

In order to understand this scripture and why the Lord was recommending it to me in my greatest hour of need, I spent the better part of a whole year, studying it, word by precious word.  I unpacked it, held up each nugget and gem to the light, and put it under a magnifying glass as I studied every facet, looked at the color, the beauty, and sought to understand how it applied to my life.  As a result I gathered a few exquisite gospel diamonds along the way.  This setting does not allow me to do any justice to what I learned over the last year, so I will share just a few of them with you in the hope that you will pursue a similar quest of your own.  Trust me, there is much there to explore!  For instance, there are over 100 General Conference Talks that reference this scripture alone.

Press Forward

Press Forward means leaning into the direction you are facing with all our might, mind and strengthen. Moving toward a new destination and successful conclusion.  To do this we must “set our hearts on the things that matter most” according to Elder Uchtdorf. He states,

“We have a tendency to focus on the insignificant and the expense of the profound…we know what matters most in life…our weakness comes in failing to align our actions with our conscience.  How you spend your quiet time may provide a valuable clue to what matters most to you. Where do your thoughts go when the pressure of a deadline is gone?”

When the pressure is on from people and things that would detract us from the things that matter most, what will our response be?

Steadfastness in Christ

Steadfast means to be resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering; steadfastly loyal.

Nephi said it best: “Oh that I might be like unto this valley, firm, steadfast and immoveable in keeping the commandments of the Lord.”  When it comes to the commandments we must be firm, steadfast and immovable. There is no wiggle room.  Commandments keep us safe!  They are the boundaries in our lives that keep the bad stuff out.  The idea that Commandments = Boundaries caught my attention because much of my recovery work centers around having good boundaries so I can feel safe and protected from further abuse, and just like a property line around our homes, our boundaries tell Satan, in no uncertain terms, this is where I will go and no farther. I choose to stay on God’s side of the line. I choose to be safe! I learned that when I am steadfast in my life:

  • I have very clear boundaries for myself and others.
  • I have a clear vision for my life – when I have a clear vision for my life, that allows me to make very clear choices, because I know, without a doubt where I am going and what I need to do to get there.
  • I pray and study the scriptures to know where the Lord wants me to go and what I should be doing to get there.
  • I am always abounding in good works because idle hands are the devils playground so doing good keeps me out of mischief.

When you know where you are going you will make choices that bring you to safety so that you will have peace.  Safety and peace are the fruits of good choices.

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Perfect Brightness of Hope 

Hope is hard for me, even of a good day.  But when your forever is destroyed, regular everyday hope is a challenge, but a perfect brightness of hope seemed unattainable to me.  Because of this, I almost skipped over it in my study.  I’m glad I didn’t.  Suffering brings with it a special understand, according to Elder Maxwell. Elder Maxwell and I share a kinship we didn’t have before. Suffering changes your very nature. My experience is no different.  Through the effects of my husband’s addiction and denial I developed betrayal trauma, also known to most of you as PTSD.  Through triggers, that exist almost everywhere I go, I am routinely thrust into fear, pain, anxiety and sheer panic.  I experience the most irrational onslaught of feelings when I least expect it.  Fun huh? I am told emotional, as well as physical torture does this to a person. I tell you these things not so that you pity me, but so that you will believe what I am about to say to you.  In this condition, I don’t feel very hopeful for my life or my future, like at all. Hope is not in my wheelhouse.  Yet even in this condition I found a way to hope and so can you.

In the immortal words of Jeffrey R. Holland:

“In the gospel of Jesus Christ we have help from both sides of the veil. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—we need to remember that if our eyes could be opened, we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see, riding at great speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.”

In the hour of my greatest need, I was given strength beyond my own to keep going. I learned later that a great temptation for someone in my shoes is to give up on everything they have ever know. Many of them say,  “If this could happen to me, when I have been good, and faithful, my entire life, what is the point?” Often the betrayed turn to an affair of their own to deaden the pain.  Drinking and drugs are also a very common response. I must admit these things did cross my mind, for a minute, but something else came into my mind, these word from Elder Uchtdorf;

“One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

These are just not pretty sentiments.  They are solid doctrine taught with power by one who knows both the challenges we face, and the Lord who makes the promises.  His words are power until salvation because he has it on solid authority, he has it on God’s authority!  Words that are mighty to save!  And indeed they are! These words gave me the hope I needed to find my faith when I felt like everything was lost and there was no hope.

Feasting on the Word 

This whole talk is the evidence of what can happen when you feast upon the words of Christ. Just do it! You won’t regret it. If you want to know how, come talk to me.

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Endure to the End

Enduring to the end is not my favorite.  I actually hated this phrase, until Elder Wirthlin got a hold of me. Prior to that, I felt like enduring to the end was like riding Screamin’ at Disneyland, hanging on for dear life, until it is over. No thank you. I’ll pass.

What I learned from Elder Wirthlin about enduring to the end changed me, and my perspective. He said;

“Enduring to the end is the doctrine of continuing on the path leading to eternal life after one has entered the path through faith, repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Enduring to the end requires our whole heart…and offering our whole souls as an offering unto him, and continuing in fasting and prayer.  Enduring to the end means that we have planted our lives firmly on gospel soil…those who endure are balance, consistent, humble, constantly improving and without guile.”

Enduring to the end is a bedrock doctrine. That means you can ground yourself to it and stand immoveable. It is not just suffering through our challenges. And it is not a white-knuckle experience.  Enduring to the end is actually the process of coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him! I cannot white knuckle it through life!  That is not for me.  But I can, and want, to Come unto Christ!

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Muscle Memory

Earlier in this talk I mentioned muscle memory.  That was for a reason.  We cannot get to the “default of faith” without consistent practice. Practice really does make perfect!

When my son, Brent was 4 years old, he told me he wanted to learn to play the piano.  I told him that if he took piano lessons that he would be required to practice thinking it would deter him, I made practicing sound horrible. After all he was only four.  But he was determined to learn to play so he agreed. Now we all know a four-year old had no idea what he was getting himself into, but nevertheless, I hired a piano teacher (Heavenly Father) who I paid to teach my son piano lessons. (Jesus) Because I paid the debt to the piano teacher, I could require something of my son in return – practice. But does his practice pay me or the piano teacher back?  No, not really.  Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for the indescribable gift of piano lessons. But it is still a debt he can never repay sufficiently.  I figured out that over the course of time I paid over $15,000 for piano lessons for my son.  If any of you have heard him play then you will agree that the price was well worth it!

By giving my son piano lesson I was also giving him the opportunity to live his life on a higher level and in this case, to earn some money in return by teaching others to play. For me, the joy is not found in getting repaid, the joy is found in seeing my gift being used and to watch my son improve.

In his talk, “His Grace is Sufficient”, Brad Wilcox says;

“But don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?”

“When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13).

And so it takes practice.  Lots of it. Playing over and over, until we get it right, until it becomes a part of us, until we are changed, and until it become second nature. This kind of practice creates a muscle memory so that when we are scared or distracted or hurt or suffering during the most important performances of our lives, we can keep going, because we have done it before, and because we have done it before, we know that, when it really counts, we just do it by heart.  It becomes our default button, because of consistent practice, over time.

So when the test is big and eternity hangs in the balance, and the afflictions come, as they surely will, our actions will respond by heart, because we practiced faith! So, even if you are only the low bar standard, you can still have faith to move in the right direction, step by step, because when it comes to faith, slow and steady does get you across the finish line.

After all, Brothers and Sisters, as my family will attest, if I can do it, anybody can.

Becoming, Coping, Trauma Recovery

Unpacking the Scriptures

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Scripture Journaling is nothing new.  However, it was new to me.  It is one of those “good things” that has come to me during this experience. The Lord knows what I need, when I need it.  I believe he sent this as a gift to me right now because he knew I would need it so desperately.  I have always been committed to serious scripture study, but like everyone, my dedication to it waxes and wains according to my circumstances. Sometimes I am just better at it than I am at other times.  Let’s face it, life sometimes just gets in the way.

But, right now, I am in a place that scripture study is vital and necessary for my survival.  It is as important for my spiritual and emotional wellbeing as breathing is to my physical wellbeing. Never in my life have I so desperately needed to feel connected to my Heavenly Father.  To hear His voice, to seek His will for me, and to feel Him near me, have never been so critical to me as they are now.

In the first year of this journey, I read my scriptures, but it wasn’t helping me.  I wasn’t feeling anything.  I was too panicked, too anxious, and too flooded with emotions that I couldn’t feel the delicate feelings of the divine. During my greatest hour of need, I felt totally and utterly abandoned, even by God.  Everything was so dark when I desperately needed to feel the light.

And then along comes Amy.  Amy is a long time friend that just seems to resurface when I need her the most.  She just seems to know.  Out of the blue she contacts me to attend a long weekend at a women’s retreat.  I will always be grateful for friends who listen and respond to promptings of the Spirit.  She told me that she was inspired to reach out to me and that I needed to go to this retreat.  The funny thing about trauma is how humble it made me, and desperate to feel better. I agreed to go even though my anxiety was on overdrive.  Meeting new people at that point was NOT in my wheelhouse. Even at my best, this is a struggle for me. But I was in a desperate place.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?  I went.

It was Amy’s class on how she studies the scriptures that impacted me the most.  Can I say, “It changed my life?” Is that too over-the-top?  Well it did!  I can’t send you to a retreat, but I can share with you what I learned.  I hope it will also impact your life the way it did mine. Nothing about it is revolutionary.  It’s not new!  But the way it was presented, that changed me. It connected me back to my Heavenly Father and gave me back the access to his Spirit and Power in a very dramatic way. If you feel disconnected and distant from God, this may be what you need.

“If you want to talk to God, pray.  If you want God to talk to you, read your scriptures.” John Bytheway

There are as many ideas and templates for scripture journaling as you could ever want. You will find everything imaginable under that sun. All you need to do to find what you need is to Google “LDS Scripture Journaling.” The method you use doesn’t matter.  It is the process.  So go find a method that speaks to you and use it. Really, all you need to get started is a notebook, notebook paper, pen and colored pencils.  I downloaded mine from The Redheaded Hostess (in case you are wondering).

I also started studying by topic.  That is what works best for me at this time in my life.  But you can study along with your Sunday School curricula or Seminary Class.  Study chronologically or jump around.  It doesn’t matter!  That is what I loved most about this – the flexibility to do what I NEEDED for ME. It’s not about the method, it’s about the process.

Set Aside a Sacred Time and Place

Once you have all the tools you need.  It’s time to get started.  The first thing that is important to set aside a time to do this.  Make an appointment with your Heavenly Father. It doesn’t really matter when, pick a time that works for you.  Amy suggested getting up early to study. Making this the first thing you do, shows Heavenly Father that He is a priority in your life.  She gets up at 5 am.  I can’t do that.  But if you don’t have time during your day to fit it in, going without an hour of sleep is probably your best option.  And as important as this is, it is a sacrifice worth making. If early morning isn’t your thing, don’t stress.  Setting a time, any time, will be acceptable to Him.

Remember, this is a sacred time, a date you have and keep with only Him.  In addition to a time, have a place.  Dedicate a space, with a prayer, to be a sacred spot that you connect with God. Once you have a place and a time, keep your appointment with Him. Everyday.

What is the price you will pay to know God?

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Start With Heartfelt Prayer

Just this one change in my study habits made a huge difference, but there is more! Start each study session with prayer.  Pray with real intent.  Pour your heart out to God in earnest prayer.  I have since added a meditation to my study that clears my mind to prepare me for prayer.  I close my eyes and focus on my breath.  Breathe deeply, in and out, count “one.” Breathe deeply, in and out, count “two.” And so on, all the way to 10. If I can get to 10 without my mind wandering, I am ready to pray.  If not, I start over.  Focus just on the breath, and clear your mind.

I also keep a prayer list.  I have a list of names of people and their needs. I pray for each one of them by name and for their need. I have also changed the way I pray for myself.  The scriptures teach us that God knows what we need before we ask it and that He is already working on the solution.  He is way ahead of us!  It occurred to me that if he is already working on sending me the blessings, shouldn’t I be grateful for that?  So instead of asking him for the things I need, I am already thanking him for the things I need, even if I have not yet received them.  Does that make sense? For example; if I am sick and need to feel better, instead of asking him to heal me and help me feel better, I say, “I thank thee for healing me from this cold and helping me to feel better.”  Because I know that He loves me, and knows what I need before I ask it, why shouldn’t I thank Him for the gifts he has already prepared for me that I have not yet received?  Isn’t this the very essence of faith?

Become His Disciple

Also, as I pray, I ask the Lord to help me be an instrument in His hands that day.  I want him to use me to bless the lives of those around me.  This is a mark of discipleship; to submit to His will and become His servant to bless those around me.  Praying to be an instrument to help others is also very healing for me. When I pray for this, I am listening to the promptings I get during my scripture study and writing down those thoughts that pop into my head in the margins of my journal.  I may not be studying anything that has to do with calling my sister, but if I get that thought, I write it down. Here is the key though – follow through!  If you get a thought, idea or prompting and write it down and then do nothing about it, the Lord will stop sending you the messages because He knows you are not serious about following through. Being a disciple means to have discipline.  Discipline yourself to be devoted and responsive to the Spirit.

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Unpacking the Scriptures

Now it is time to study.  I have to admit, my scripture study used to be boring.  I was studying, alright.  But I was putting too much pressure on myself. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t instructive.  I was my own worst teacher. I love this idea of unpacking the scriptures. When you open a box, a gift or a suitcase, you take things out, one by one. Sometimes you unpack these things taking everything out looking at it one at a time.  We turn some thing we find particularly interesting, over and over in our hands to get a better look at it.  We delight in some things, and pass others by, only to find them just and interesting later on.  Some things are beloved and familiar.  Some things are new and exciting. We can do this with the scriptures as well.  Slow down.  Take the time to really look at a verse.  If you need to spend more than one study time on one verse to understand it better, do it!  Here are some ideas for unpacking:

  • Look up words you do not understand
  • Journal about how a scripture touched you or impacted your life
  • Memorize a new scripture each week
  • Take time to ponder ways a scripture applies to your life
  • Draw a picture or doodle to help you remember an insight
  • Underline scriptures that have meaning and make a note of why in the margins
  • Use stickers to make a point
  • Use LDS.org or the LDS Citation Index app to search for talks that used a scripture you are trying to understand
  • Go deep into a topic or single scripture, spend a year on it, if you need or want to. When I was YW President last year I spent an entire year studying everything I could find that related to the theme for that year.
  • Teach yourself the way you wish others would teach you! Make it fun, exciting and interesting to yourself.
  • Share what you are learning with others.

Leave me a comment below if you want to share your experiences with scripture study and scripture journaling.

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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Becoming

Grounded: A Right to Be

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The element of the first chakra is EARTH.  Being grounded.  It is the ground that supports and nourishes you.  Without a solid foundation your temple will not be strong, without deep roots, your tree will not grow tall.

“All journeys begin with a single step.  You can only take this step by making solid contact with the earth.”

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So this journey of becoming starts at the very bottom, by going down into the earth.  The Sanskrit name for this energy center is Muladhara, which means – root support. There is the thought that you go down to rise up.  Think of what happens when you jump.  You bend your knees to gather the energy and power to  rise up.  This is the essense of the first chakra – going down to rise up.

This chakra is associated with the survival instinct and the will to live so it affects your basic health and vitality. It is also where you manifest all your creativity.  To be able to fully manifest you must be able to ground yourself and your energy into the earth.  If this chakra is in trauma (which mine is) you will find it difficult to feel safety or security.

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The truth is: I haven’t felt grounded for a long time.  For the past two years I have been living “up in my head” as my yoga instructor likes to call it.  I get that.  My head is a jumbled mess of disconnected chaos.  I am unable to connect to anything.  I am untethered.

Imbalances in Being Grounded

Some of the imbalances of the first chakra are: heaviness, sluggishness, resistance to change, workaholism, spaciness, vagueness, restlessness, overeating, overweight, anorexia, fear, anxiety, feeling disconnected from your body, restlessness, resisting structure, inability to manifest. Some of these things are polar opposites, which represent the excessive and deficient characteristic of having an imbalance here. You can have some of both at the same time.

When you are in balance, in other words, grounded, you will feel:

  • Grounded
  • Have good physical health
  • A sense of safety and security
  • Stability and solidity
  • Right livelihood
  • Prosperity
  • Ability to be still
  • Present in the here and now

Whoa!  I have some work to do.  I largely depended on my ex-husband to provide me with safety and security.  He wasn’t very good at it, physically, spiritually or emotionally, so it left me feeling insecure and threatened for the better part of our marriage.  The constant moving did not help as it kept me off-balance. I couldn’t feel settled or grounded because I was being constantly uprooted. It wasn’t all his fault.  I did not know I could provide these things for myself.  I didn’t need to rely on someone else for my own peace of mind, I had the power all along to provide myself with my own safety and security.  I didn’t know that then, but I do now.

Issues that have plagued me my whole life, overeating, weight gain, anxiety, fear, depression all stem from not having a root support to my tree.  It couldn’t grow because I was constantly being up-rooted.  I wasn’t grounded.

The Right to Be

The right of the first chakra is; the right to be here and the right to have. 

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The right to be here means being comfortable with the right to fully occupy your body and live your life, and to take up a reasonable amount of space for doing so.  If you are uncomfortable with this right, you might find yourself apologizing for just being.  Do you say you are sorry too much?  Do you find yourself apologizing for everything, including things you did not do?  Do you feel the need to apologize for existing? If so, you might need to work on being more grounded.

I struggled with almost all of these, thanks to my ex-husband! I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t apologizing for existing.  I felt so much discomfort for anything that I did that I was ALWAYS SORRY! I was even sorry for my successes!  This is NOT how our Father in Heaven wants us to see ourselves.  We should not be apologizing for being.  Along with the right to be we also have the right to make mistakes – to be human. I think having a right to be is a basic right that everyone has.  We have a right to be – without apology, for being who we are.

The only apology we ever need make is for the things we do that cause harm to ourselves or others, our mistakes and sins.  This is also known as repentance.  And repentance is different from feeling sorry for being.  repentance is a catalyst of change.  Feeling sorry for existing is shaming.  There is a difference. Otherwise, we have a right to learn and grow at our own pace.

My ex-husband shamed me for most of the things I did.  He shamed me for not being clean enough, smart enough, making small mistakes over and over, for my grammar, or the way I phrased things.  I wasn’t allowed to just BE. I had to BE what HE thought I should BE.  By his constant criticism, he taught me that he did not have the confidence in me to get it right, so I believed that too.  And because of that, I spent way too many years caring what other thought of me.  My sense of well-being didn’t come from within, it came from without. No wonder I never felt safe!

For me the first step in becoming is feeling a have a right to be-ing!

The Right to Have

The right to have begins with having what you need in order to survive, and rests on top of the right to be here.  Your right to have includes your right to have success, prosperity, time to yourself, pleasure, adventure, friends, or any number of other things.  You will know you have a problem with the right to have if you find it difficult to receive. If you have problems with money, housing, friends, or creature comforts, you may want to explore how you feel about your right to have.

Even though my husband was a good provider for our family, he lives his life in the mindset of scarcity.  No matter how much money he makes, his response to my asking for money or anything, was there wasn’t enough.  I was shamed, for the most part, for the things I needed and wanted.  Looking back, I realize that there was no reason for him to behave this way.  He could have had an attitude of being generous. There was no reason for him not to be generous. We never wanted for anything!  But his attitude portrayed an illusion of lack.  He lives having a million reasons why something cannot happen instead of finding a way to make it happen.  No wonder he is such a miserable and lonely person!

“Gratitude is the key to abundance.”

Sitting as a guidepost to the right to have is an attitude of gratitude.  Having an abundance of all that life has to offer is brought about by having a profound gratitude for what you do have!  I am sure our Father in Heaven has many blessings to pour out on our head’s if we will only show gratitude for what He has already given us.  Part of showing that gratitude is being free with what we have to bless the lives of others, especially our own families! No matter how much or how little we have, we should be generous with what we do have with those we love the most.

How to Root Your Feet into the Ground

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Luckily, many of the things I love doing are also grounding!  My inner core, my spirit, must have known all along how to heal from being so disconnected from myself because there are some things I naturally do:

  • Writing
  • Hobbies (creating)
  • Gardening

BUT there are other things I could and should be doing to help feel more grounded. I am starting to work on some of these:

  • Play more
  • Laugh more
  • Move more
  • Connect with Nature everyday
  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Yoga
  • Hiking
  • Biking

Anything that brings you closer to your basic need to be and have will help you to feel more grounded. And, of course, engaging in a yoga class will help with all of these.  I highly recommend one that teaches the principles behind it as well as the poses. I have taken yoga classes before, but I haven’t learned much from it until I got both the theory and the technique. If you want to know more about being grounded, search the internet for grounding techniques and exercises.  There are lots of them, so many that I couldn’t pick one to  recommend to you.

Nameste 

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

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Becoming

EMDR Therapy Intake Appointment

I took a break from therapy over the holidays. For anyone who is recovering from betrayal trauma you will understand why I would need a break. It’s grueling. I was doing something related to recovery every.single.day. I was just exhausted. I needed a break. So I went through the holidays, therapy free. It was glorious. And horrible.  I felt like all of my support was cut out from under me.  Cold Turkey. I did my best to pretend I was a normal person.  I wasn’t.

I quickly learned I still needed it. I was far from healed. And…I was out of money to pay for it.  I knew I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing either. I loved LifeStar but it had become painful to just walk into a building that reminded me of how much my ex did not love me. How awful he was to me. How he berated me after every appointment. I still can see the hatred and disgust he had on his face when he looked at me when we went to our sessions.  I now know that hatred and disgust was probably directed at himself…not me. He didn’t want to be there because he still had not given up on all his other relationships. (I found out later that he NEVER stopped cheating on me, not once.) But it felt like he hated me. In some ways, he did.  He hated me for reminding him how disloyal he was to me.

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During my 3 month-long retreat from therapy,  I started hearing about EMDR. It stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. The first time I heard about it what from the therapist at the ER a year ago when I was so distraught over my husband’s behavior it sent me to the ER. Yeah. There is that. The next time I heard of it was from Scabology, I follow her on Instagram and Facebook. You know how something God wants you to do will usually come up, over and over, from several different sources in a short period of time?  This was like that.  I know it was a God thing, a tender mercy. I started hearing about it  from other trauma survivors I knew in person, and those I follow on Instagram and Facebook. It seemed that this was actually helping them overcome their trauma! So I started to research it, because that is how I roll. Here is an awesome site to help you get a feel for it. You can read a FAQ here.

All I know is I do not want to feel like this anymore! I am tired.  I am exhausted. I am wrung out. I slug through everyday feeling like I am swimming in a pool with concrete weights around my wrists and ankles. It’s hard. Too hard. Nobody should feel this way because of something someone else did to them.

My angel Bishop agrees and so do my kids. So, together,  we are all starting on “Operation Recover Me.”

Friday I went to my first Intake Appointment at Addo Recovery.

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Here is me waiting for my first appointment, feeling small and vulnerable…again. I hate it when I have to tell the story all over again. I wonder how many more times I have to do this? As I think about everything that’s happened to me I start to cry again. I hate him for what he has done to me!

They are very thorough. I am impressed by their approach to healing – an overall wellness approach dealing with my entire life.


Before I ever got there they had me do a 48 page assessment online to measure my trauma.

Before I share any of the results, I knew my trauma was high. It’s nice to have that validated. I like charts and graphs and they had plenty of those. A stark picture of where I am now.  More importantly, they have a clear road map of where I need to go from here and how to get there! That is such a relief!  I can’t even tell you how amazing that is to me!

There are 8 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis according the DSM-5.  They can test for 7 of them in this assessment, the 8th one is evaluated by a therapist. I present significantly in all 7 of them. PTSD has the following 4 diagnostic clusters:

  1. Re-experiencing spontaneous memories of the event, recurring dreams, flashbacks, or other episodes of prolonged psychological distress.
  2. Avoidance – refers to upsetting thoughts, feelings or memories that are reminders or are associated with the upsetting event.  (See criteria C)
  3. Negative cognitions and mood represent and infinite number of feelings such as isolation from others, a marked diminished interest in activities, or a distorted sense of self. (See Criteria D)
  4. Arousal is marked by restlessness, aggressive, or self-destructive behavior; sleep disturbances; hypervigilism; or other related behaviors.  This is the “fight” of the body’s innate fight or flight response.

This chart shows how my ex husband’s addiction has affected the different areas of my life, past and present. Anyone who thinks that addictions only affect the person, need only look at these charts.  Addiction has a severe and profound impact on those who have relationships with the addict! The denial and blame criteria are how my Ex’s denial and blame impacted me.  What is significant here is the therapist says that this is so bad that it is what amounts to a prisoner being tortured.  I was tortured.  The lying, gaslighting, denial, minimizing, rationalizing, blaming that my Ex did to me amounts to torture.  Awesome.  No wonder I am where I am. I am messed up!  But at least I am smart enough to know it so that I don’t drag someone else through my crazy before I get myself put back together!

This next chart shows the impact on me in having an intimate relationship because of what my Ex did to me. Relational sexual difficulties is that I do not trust enough to be that vulnerable again.  As you can see, I am most impacted by issues associated with trust, body image, and I really, really want revenge!  I have always been a very trusting person, sometimes to the point of being a little naive.  Those days are long gone and I doubt they will ever return.  I fear I have swung too far the other way and I am not likely to swing back anytime soon.

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The part of the test that was most concerning to me is my stress, anxiety and depression scores. I will not show those results because they are not presented in a chart form.  However, 8 months after the divorce, my stress is still moderately high. I am not too surprised, because I have a lot of difficulty managing my stress.  I feel stress, even when there isn’t a reason to be stressed. But my anxiety and depression are still categorized as extremely high. Off the charts high. That concerned the therapist. She said people who present that high are a high risk for suicide. I don’t feel suicidal most of the time, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t cross my mind more often than it should. I have panic and anxiety attacks ALL.THE.TIME.  Sometimes, I have them because of a triggering event, but I also have them for no visible reason. Out of the blue something will just reduce me to a hot mess!  I don’t know what could happen to me under the wrong conditions. That scares me. But it’s also why I need to do this. My ex isn’t worth it. I know that now, more than ever. He is, well, not good enough to tie my shoes. The reason I divorced him was to save myself.  I best be starting that process.  It is past time.

This is why I am where I am now. The saving of me. Let “Operation Recover Me” begin! It’s time!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

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The Cupcake Warrior

Becoming, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Becoming

Each year since I separated from my husband I pick OneLittleWord to help me grow and progress for that year.

In 2015 my word was FOCUS. I learned to focus on me; Be kind to myself. I started getting regular manicure and massages, something I never did before. I found I liked selfcare! It was awesome to take care of me for a change. I spent a lot of that first year in my PJ’s, in my bed with the covers pulled up over my head, crying my heart out. But that is what I needed to do. Let the pain out. I discovered I was more accomplished that my husband would allow me to believe. There in my bed, l learned I am a strong, talented, capable, amazing woman with many gifts and abilities.

Learning to focus helped me take the blur of that first year and find the parts of me that have been missing and the parts of my life that are most important. God. Family. Peace. Me. I gained clarity and perspective. I realized I deserved to be treated better than I had been treated. I learned I was being abused. Badly. Nobody deserves that. Especially not from their husband!

In 2016 my word was FORWARD. I was learning who I was by focusing on me, but I was stuck. I couldn’t move forward because my husband had me paralyzed with fear. I didn’t know how to move forward without him. I didn’t want to move forward without him. I couldn’t move forward without him. But hanging on to him was making my life hopeless. To survive I had to move forward. He wasn’t making progress. He refused to change. He continued to cheat on me for the next year and a half without stopping. He dug in and declared he didn’t have an addiction. There is nothing I can do with that. A person who won’t even admit they have a problem is…a problem. So, knowing I had done all I could and given him every opportunity to change… Forward is where I went. Forward was divorcing him. He put down his end of our marriage yoke. I had to move on with the load of my pain alone. To do that I had to take him out of the yoke and find one fitted just for me. Alone. I was pulling him along and he had flung himself in the mud. It was too hard and to painful to go on that way. No one would expect me to.

I focused and moved forward through excruciating pain and anguish. There are days I didn’t think I would live through it. Honestly, I do not know how I am still here. But I am. I am broken. Beaten up emotionally.  But I am now ready to try on my new word for this year.

Becoming

Now that my husband is my ex-husband, I am free to become what I have always wanted to be. Me. Without a constant critic. What I always dreamed I could be. I had always hoped to do this with him. I thought we were finally in that space in our lives. I was. He wasn’t. He just never got the important things in life. Not enough to cause deep, significant growth and development.  I would chose that for him, I would have chosen that for us. But it wasn’t my choice to make. Unfortunently. I had to leave him behind. This is by far, the most difficult thing I have ever had to do in my life. Devastating. I almost didn’t survive it.

I am now free. My wings are no longer clipped by his criticism and sarcasm towards me. I can fly! I know I can! My inner voice has always told me so. It’s how I have come this far against all odds. Now that what was holding me down has been cut free, like chains wrapped arounnd my ankles, I can take off! Soar!

I am ready to become all I was meant to be! I am ready to cut free the remaining chains of my own self doubt and fear, and let the me I am on the inside! It’s long overdue and it is exciting!

It’s time to try my hand at becoming on my own!

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Stay Strong, Be Sweet!