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

chocolate cupcake warrior

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!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

Coping, Uncategorized

3 Reasons to Meditate

It’s More Than Just a Stress Reducer

Meditation came into my awareness because it was suggested to me as a way to quiet my mind and body once I found my way to Addo Recovery.  Shortly after I found out about my ex-husbands affairs my body went into such a high level of panic that I entered the ‘fight, flight and freeze response’ almost immediately, and because of his lying and gaslighting me, I stayed there for nearly two years.  I blew out my adrenals and my body was just in a constant state of panic. I was flooded with adrenaline and cortisol. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t function, and I could not get my mind to shut up as it tried desperately to make sense of what had happened to me.

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Addo Recovery suggested I take a yoga class to learn to quiet my mind so that I could give my body a rest from the flooding of chemicals I was experiencing.  I learned that, over time, this constant state of stress was dangerous for my mind, body, and spirit. Intuitively I knew all of these things, but I did have the knowledge I needed to pursue a solution and had no idea how to make it stop. Meditation was the solution. It was a solution that was so profound that I began practicing meditation twice a day, morning and night, almost immediately.  I have been meditating daily for almost two years. In the very beginning it was the only peace I got during the day. But, over time, I learned to bring my meditative mind with me through the day, and into a peaceful, restful sleep at night, with no medication.

The reasons we meditate are as varied as the many ways there are to meditate. In America, most people are drawn to meditation to quiet the internal chatter of the brain and to reduce stress. Meditation is, indeed, a very effective stress reducer, but its benefits – sometimes mysteriously hidden – are far more plentiful.

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According to the Chopra Center for Meditation there are 3 reasons meditation is not only good for us, but it is necessary, especially for those who are suffering from betrayal trauma:

1. Because It’s Good for Our Bodies

According to Scientists gathering data on meditation have found that a consistent practice not only boosts the mind, but it also bolsters the body. Studies bear out that meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain, and support the immune system, better enabling it to fight disease.

The mind-body connection between stress and disease is abundantly apparent as science is finding that meditation can lower production of the stress hormone cortisol. This means meditators are better able to adapt to stress in their lives and its common physiologic responses, which can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • Skin conditions

2. Because It’s Good for Our Relationships

Paradoxically, while meditation helps us tune in and turn inward to our true essence, it also helps us detach from our own egos to connect with others in more meaningful ways. Couples counselors have found when they assign their clients meditation, the couples become less angry, more self-reflective, and more loving.

When we become aware of – and honor – our interconnection with other beings, we are able to recast our perspectives, see our worries in a different light, and embrace gratitude, which is the heart’s memory.

3. Because It Can Change Our Lives

In a world rife with never-ending fast fixes, crash diets, and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s nice to know there is a proven practice that really can change your life (or at least bring about dramatic effects) in just a little time each day.

Yogis and doctors both agree: meditating – even just a few minutes of deep breathing – relaxes the brain, reduces anxiety, and decreases depression. When we feel as though we can’t afford the time to meditate, the truth is we can’t afford not to.

I can attest to the deep breathing thing.  Learning to breathe deeply and properly was life saving for me.  I was so stressed out in the beginning of this journey that my resting heart rate was over 100 beats per minute.  It was as if my body thought I was running, even if I was sitting still!  I literally felt like I would climb out of my own skin.  I was jittery and nervous and I felt scared…all…the..time. This was the state of my body and mind for 2 years without a break. I even started to wear a device to measure my heart rate because my doctor was so concerned about me.  She told me that if I could just take deep breaths and count them I could lower my heart rate and calm my mind. Breath in, 1, Breathe out, 2, Breath in, 3, Breath out, 4, and so on, until you get to 10 and then start over.  After a couple of minutes of this I could lower my heart rate down to 80 beats per minute, a more acceptable rate, still too high, but better.  At least it gave me a little bit of control over my mind and body, something I desperately needed because my whole life was out of control. It helped. Breathing became a saving grace. I took a breathing timeout all day long.  Now I am so in tune with my body I recognise the signs of stress immediately and I can just take a minute to stop and breathe to bring it all back down before I spiral out of control.  But it takes practice. Everyday.
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What I can tell you is that there is no fast fix for betrayal trauma.  It will take you making some permanent changes in your lifestyle to feel good again.  There is no way around it.  So just wrap your brain around the idea that you will have to do some things differently, probably for the rest of your life.  Meditation is one of those things. But I have found that isn’t a bad thing necessarily.  I know that if I skip a day of meditating, I pay for it the next day.  Heart rate goes back up, anxiety drops by for a visit, and I quickly find myself not in a good place. So I agree, with what is at stake, we cannot afford to not meditate! I am happy to report to you that there is hope to be found, a quiet mind is possible again, and a calm body is within your reach. My resting heart rate is now somewhere between 60-70 beats per minute.  That is physical, hard evidence that mediation and deep breathing (which is part of it) works! It works for me, and it will work for you too. And the good news is that you can get started… right now, today.
You do not have to take a class to learn to meditate, although I highly recommend it in order to learn from someone who is experienced and knows how. However, YouTube is a wonderful place to get tons of guided meditations for free.  Some of my favorites are:
Jason Stevenson (has a cool Australian accent.)
Joe Tracey (his voice is very calming.)
Kenneth Soares (is Norwegian, and I like his voice, some people don’t though.)
Check them out. See if you like them, if you don’t try someone else!  It will ruin the meditation if the person you are listening to has an annoying voice.  Find one or two that work well for you to start with and explore more options.  Many of them have meditations for anxiety, letting go, fear, and sleep. You can start there. I recommend that you do the 21/90 rule.  21 days to form a new habit and 90 days to make it part of your lifestyle. Most of the meditations are 20-45 minutes. So it’s not a huge time drain. Start out small.  I will warn you though,  I have loved this so much that I now will frequently do 1-2 hour meditations. Once you are able to do well with guided mediations then you can branch out on your own. There are a lot of ways to mediate and the internet is full of good information on this topic.  Just google “beginner meditation.”
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I can give you suggestions but if this is something that interests you then it is best to go on your own journey of discovery and enlightenment. At some point I will write about my personal meditation practice, but I would rather you do you.  It will be more helpful to you and more fulfilling if you find what works for you.  For example; I really, really like Tibetan Singing Bowls, but it took me forever to find a video that I loved.  Some of them were too high-pitched for me, some of them had drum beats I couldn’t stand, others had certain Binaural Beats* that made me feel more anxious. Until one day I found one that really is perfect for me!  I love it!  But the point is, you may not love it, you may hate it, and it could cause you to hate mediating as a result because I told you that you should love it, and you really hate it.  So go find what works for you, trust me, there is something on YouTube for everyone! Find what speaks to your body, mind, and spirit. Meditating is deeply spiritual and personal. If you don’t like something, don’t give up, find something else that works better for you.  I save videos all the time that I end up deleting a week later because they just were not as good or helpful as I thought they would be.
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I usually meditate sitting up in the morning and lying down on my bed at night. At night I use mediations that are meant for sleep so I don’t feel like I am missing something if I fall asleep, because that is the point.  So do what works best for you.  That is the great thing about meditating, you don’t have to worry about getting it right, just do it.  I also mediate with my headphones on so that I can benefit from the sounds many of them use in their mediations.  Here is some information about the sound frequencies and beats.  I love the idea that different frequencies can entrain our bodies to resonate with that frequency and helps our bodies to heal.  I need all the healing I can get so I opt for the headphones. There are meditations that are meant for deep healing with the Rife Frequencies**.  Some of them get on my nerves, but I learned from reading in the comment that listening for 10 minutes a day was enough to reap the benefits.  So read the comments too, it helps to learn from others who are also in the process.
Here are some of the meditation YouTube Channels I subscribe to:
I have also found this meditation program that is not very expensive from EOC Institute. They have a list of 141 Benefits of Mediation  to show meditation is a very good thing.
I hope this will get you started on your own mediation journey.  It is something that has made a life or death difference in my life and that is not an exaggeration.  It is one reason I chose to start with sharing mediation, it is something you can do immediately and see tangible results in a matter of days, or even hours, depending on how much you do it. All I can say is try it, you’ll like it.  You will like how you feel, and it will give your mind and body a break so you can cope with the un-cope-able.
Share with me in the comments your own experiences of meditating. I’d like to know what works for you or if you have any cool tips, tricks or meditations you have discovered.
Stay Strong, Be Sweet
chocolate cupcake warrior
The Cupcake Warrior
* “Binaural Beats” is a term given to playing one sound frequency in one ear, and another sound frequency in the opposite ear, creating a two-tone effect in the mid-brain that is actually perceived to be one tone. This causes an “Entrainment” effect in the brain that has a variety of results depending on the frequency.
** These frequencies are based on the work of Royal Raymond Rife was a 20th century inventor who through frequency was able to cure many ailments of the body, including most common illnesses that we seek medical assistance for today.
Coping, Uncategorized

The Struggle is Real Ladies!

I have been kind of silent the last few months because I have been working very hard at my own recovery (I hate that word) coping skills. I have also been busy writing a book for you!  I have been trying to come up with a healing plan that works for me, and possibly, it might work for you too.  I am still trying to figure it all out, but I think I have it figured out well enough to start sharing what I have discovered. So from now on this journaling blog is going to have a different focus….

The focus on coping.

I was talking to my therapist the other day and she said something interesting. “I still have to get up every morning and start over in my recovery work. Sometimes it feels like sleeping undoes everything I did the day before.  I wake up feeling anxious.” My question to her was, “even now, after 7 years?”  “Yes,” was her reply.

Depressing.

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It’s depressing, but, oh so true! Recovery coping after betrayal trauma is something you will probably have to deal with everyday of your life for the rest of your life, at least on some level. Sorry to be the one to break the bad news to you.  It’s the truth, and the truth will set you free.  Just know, you will have to deal with this…for…the…rest…of…your…life.  There is no complete and total healing from this.  You will never wake up one day and say, “Yay! I’m healed!” It’s not going to happen. Ever. This is not like having someone die, a break up, losing your best friend, or even a “normal divorce.” In those cases you can go through the steps of grief and move on, eventually. The only way back from something that is so devastating and life changing like a soul destroying trauma is through COPING.  You can call it “recovery” or “healing”  or whatever you like, but what it really is, is just coping.  You have to learn to COPE with what has happened to you in the same way you would have to learn to cope with, say, losing an arm.  You would never be the same if you lost your arm, you could never grow your arm back, you would never recovery from losing your arm, you would never heal completely from losing your arm, but you would learn to cope with it.  Betrayal trauma is the same thing.  You don’t ever heal from it, you don’t every recover from it, but you do learn to cope with it.

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What our selfish, mean, lying, cheating, gaslighting, unfaithful, Ex husband’s did to us changed us. Forever.  You are forever changed.  Your brain changed, your body changed, your emotions changed.  You were changed at a cellular level. Betrayal trauma is, for the cheated on, the equivalent of PTSD or C-PTSD.  Do you ever hear of war veterans “getting over it?”  Nah, me either.  What can happen is that you can choose to fight it, and learn to lived with it, or you can die, roll over, and succumb to a complete and total breakdown of epic proportions.  Those are your only two options.  But, I am not going to lie, it will be a struggle to overcome it.  I know it will be.  I struggle with it every damn day of my life!  Even today; after 3 therapists, two recovery centers, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness classes, energy work, EMDR, and countless books, I still woke up with a giant panic attack. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen everyday, not anymore, but most days I wake up with a sense of foreboding, like something bad is about to happen to me.  I feel unsafe, insecure, and anxious…for no particular reason whatsoever!  Welcome to PTSD ladies!  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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Now for the good news.  You can learn to cope.  Coping is very do-able.  It’s hard work, I’m not going to lie! Lot’s of hard work.  It’s like exercise, nobody really wants to do it, but it makes you feel better if you do.  Coping skills are like that. What I resent the most is being MADE to do it, by someone who did not even stop to think of what he was doing to me. I resent having my life changed to this degree through the choices of someone else!  I cannot live my life the way I want to, on my terms, because of the choices of someone else. Because of what was done to me I have to get up every morning and go through a routine that takes me hours, just to feel “normal.” I lose precious hours working on something most people never have to deal with.  And then there are the things I cannot do anymore.  I cannot watch anything on TV like I used to do, I cannot listen to the radio anymore like I used to do, and I cannot participate in politics, which I loved, like I used to do.  All these things and others, too numerous to mention, bring me added stress, anxiety, and pain, which I cannot afford to bring into my life when I am working so hard to remove all stress and anxiety that I can.  It just doesn’t make sense to add stress, when you are trying to decrease it.  So I spend my days trying to achieve a “zen like” state JUST TO FEEL NORMAL! My kids think I am turning into a hippy, and they are right.  Meditation, yoga, tai-chi, qi-gong, prayer, scripture study, affirmations, and others, are my new best friends.

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Ladies, welcome to your new normal, whatever that is for you.  What you thought was your normal in your old life will probably never be your normal, ever again.  But a sense of “normal,” can be achieved again. It just won’t be that same normal.  It will be different.  Not necessarily bad, just different. I just want to help you set up realistic expectations for yourself.  You have been through a war, of sorts, you are traumatized and your systems have been compromised or even shut down.  It’s hard to wrap your brain around the severity of it because, physically, you are the same. You LOOK the same, you may even ACT the same, but you are not the same emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or even physically, to a certain extent.

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Frankly, it would be easier if you had been hit by a truck (because emotionally you were).  If you had been hit by a truck you would have been taken to the hospital, you would have probably been put on life support for a while, had surgery, maybe several of them, you would have spent time in the ICU, and maybe even sent to rehab after you left the hospital.  Family and friends would have come to see you, taken care of you, helped you recover, and been there for you. Everyone would see that your recovery was going to take a very long time.  They would have stood by your side as you learned to walk again, and helped you find new ways to cope with your new normal. Nobody is going to do that in this case, because nobody can see just how badly damaged you are. You look fine, so you will be expected to act fine long before you are ready. It’s not fair, but it is reality.  That is why you have to find other systems of support for your recovery coping. Unfortunately, you will have to set up your own triage, nobody else is going to do it for you. Under different circumstances it would have probably been your husband who helped you cope with this horrific experience!  But now he is the one who did it to you! He is the one who hit you broadside by an emotional 18-wheeler! It’s not fair, but it is what it is, as my Ex used to like to say to me.

Think about it, did you have any idea how hard this was for other women until it happened to you?  Did you have any clue? No, you did not, because nothing in any of our life experiences could possibly prepare us for the impact of betrayal! Nothing!  You cannot fault or resent your family and friends for not understanding what, you yourself, could not have understood either. It’s not their fault they don’t “get it.” They can’t.  So it is up to you to go find places and people that do get it.  Support groups are everywhere, you just have to find one that fits your needs. Clinics that deal with betrayal trauma are popping up like dandelions! Let your family and friends love you the way they have always done.  Let them tell you that “you should be able to move on by now,” and then go to your support group and complain to them about how they just don’t “get it.” Surround yourself with women who do “get it.” Unfortunately, there are way too many of them. Because of pornography and sex addiction there is an epidemic of men who cheat, abandon their families, and ruin their marriages, leaving a path of devastation and destruction in their wake!  You are not the only one!  There are hundreds, or even thousands, of women just like you in your city.  Trust me.  And WE get it!  We are banding together in support groups all over this country to help you.  And if you cannot find one in person, there are groups online.  I personally belong to two facebook groups that deal with just this topic. Find one. You cannot do this alone! And you cannot expect your family and friends to do what they are incapable of doing.

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This is what I am trying to tell you about a “new normal.” Being betrayed takes your whole world and dumps it on its head. You are left reeling and nobody is going to rescue you.  You hope someone will come and rescue you, after all you are in pain so excruciating that you feel like you just might lay there and die! But nope, you have to get up and rescue yourself. It doesn’t seem fair, and it’s not, but knowing the alternatives, what are you going to do? So you have to ask yourself the following – are you just going to lay there and bleed out and die on the spot, or are you going to get up and fight like hell to rebuild your life? At one point in my journey I was suicidal. I did just want to die! I even ended up in the hospital.  When I told that to one of my therapists, he said to me, “Well that would have been convenient for your Ex wouldn’t it?”  His words shocked me!  He then explained to me that if I had taken my life that it would have made my Ex’s life a whole lot easier.  He would not have had to pay alimony or deal with me at all.  If I took my life, the Ex would have been on easy street, and he would be silently rejoicing at my demise! Well ladies, it is not your job to make his life easier! It’s not your job to give him the satisfaction of ruining you.  It’s your job to get up and to fight for your life! Nobody is going to do it for you. It’s hard. I know it’s hard.  It’s not fair.  It is a struggle for me every day! It’s true that your life will probably never be the same again, but it is also possible that it can turn out to be something better. There is a popular video going around where Will Smith explains the difference between fault and responsibility.  This is not your fault, not your fault at all!  But it is your responsibility to deal with it! That is the straight up truth! I wish my Ex would see what his actions did to me and the kids.  I wish everyday he would Be 100% Responsible for his actions (like Elder Lynn Robbins describes in his talk), but he’s not going to, he could care less! I can wish for justice (the karma bus WILL pay him a visit, it always shows up, eventually) all day long for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t make my life any better, it just makes me bitter.  I can either remain in victimhood, or I can thrive.  I choose to thrive! “The road to power is taking responsibility!” It’s time to take the power back!

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I can tell you now, after 4 years, the struggle to learn to cope with my new normal is worth it!  It’s hard!  But oh so worth it.  Four years ago I never thought I would be where I am today.  I still have a long way to go, but I am finally finding myself again. I like who I am again, life is worth living again, and coping is possible.  I can finally see the light at the end of a very long tunnel. I have peace again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort.  I have happiness again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort.  I have joy again, I have to work for it everyday, but it’s worth the effort.  Every good thing in life is work, it always has been! And, ultimately, it is worth it! I may have to work for it everyday for the rest of my life, but if that means I get to live a life of peace, joy, and happiness, then it will have been worth it!

Over the next few months I am going to document my personal journey of coping; what has worked for me, what doesn’t, how I am healing, what my daily routine looks like, etc. I am going to teach you my own healing modalities and how to do them for yourselves. Everything I have learned, I will share with you! This is ground breaking stuff!  The journey through betrayal trauma is so new that the healing from it is also new. First of all, I think recovery is not the right name for it.  Coping is what it really is. It is like learning to live with losing an arm – you learn to cope without that arm.  I have learned some things that have really helped me cope.  So I want to share them.  My own journey through betrayal trauma becomes significant when I can turn around and share what I have learned with others who struggle to cope with their own lives. Suffering becomes meaningful when you can use it to help others.  It helps me to feel like I didn’t suffer through this for nothing. So join me on my journey to of healing, of coping, of finding my our new normal…

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

Coping, Uncategorized

I’m Fine…After All

People will ask me how I am doing these days. I usually just say “l’m fine.” It’s been more than 4 years since I discovered my husband’s betrayal. We divorced 2 years ago today. I should be fine by now, right? And I am fine. But fine doesn’t mean what you think it means…

“…in a satisfactory or pleasing state; very well.”

For what I have been through, and where I have been, I am doing fine. Sort of. It has been worse after all. Being fine it seems, is a relative term.

I thought my perfect life was fine. I thought my perfect marriage to the perfect man was fine. I was just starting a new business that was going to be more than fine. Our children were fine too. We were all doing well at life. I felt we had made it. After all the trials and struggles in life, we had made it. Retirement and a life of bliss and church service was just around the corner. Life was more than fine, life was good. We were living downtown in a fancy apartment, hubby was driving a nice car, we had two Harley’s, and a good job. Life was just fine. I was in denial.  I’m not anymore so that makes it fine, I guess.

Son was about to enter his last year of college. He was taking finals when his life exploded that left him unable to finish school. He just lost his drive. That’s fine, right?

Daughter #1 was the mother of 4 small children who was navigating her new role and feeling overwhelmed with life, but her Dad’s choices left her fine, didn’t they?

Daughter #2 was starting a new career and living on her own after years of struggling with her own disabilities. But she was going to be just fine too, right? How could all this devastation possibly derail her?

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Then our lives blew up. All of our lives blew up. Not just mine. Our children suffered at least as much betrayal as I did, if not more. But in the fallout, I was shattered so badly I couldn’t help my kids, no matter how much I wanted to do so. They say when you are drowning in the depths of the sea or on a plane careening towards the earth that you have to save yourself first and then go back for the kids. Put on your own life vest first, or put on your own oxygen mask first. It seems like a good idea, in theory. In practice, not so much. I never knew what it would be like to be so broken that all you could think about was your own survival and how much it would hurt to watch you children struggle and be able to do nothing to help them, while the parent who caused the damage just runs away from the scene of the devastation.

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I am fine now, because at least now I can be somewhat helpful to them. I can do things for them, finally. And that is important because I’m all they have for the moment. Dad has dug himself in so deep with his children that he may never find a way back to them. His choices left everyone with hardly any choices in response except to be estranged. Anything else isn’t safe. But we are all fine.

I hope my kids will be fine. We think we will all be fine, eventually, but at what cost? Almost nothing in life for the last 4 years happened like we thought it would. While our perfect lives were being blown apart, so were our dreams. Not just once, but over and over again. Just as we would get our footing, some other bad choice was being made for us and our lives, while we had to stand by helplessly and watch and pray for a miracle that never came. It was a struggle for any of us just to get through the day without dying inside. But we are fine, we are all still alive. The dreams we once had are gone. But we are here. We’re fine.

We all struggle to make ends meet in every way possible. So we do what we have always done, we rally together and support one another. Sometimes I help out, sometimes I can’t, so the kids pitch in. It’s what families do. Sometimes I feel like I am the one being helped more often than not. While the Ex drives a fancy sports car, lives in an expensive apartment downtown, this time with someone else, she rides in my spot on the back seat of what used to be OUR Harley, and he goes out doing all the fun things with his “wife-stress” he used to do with us. We have been replaced by a better model, she must be, because he didn’t even bother to fight for us, he just walked out of our lives without even a backwards glance, so he must be doing fine too. He doesn’t give us, or our lives, a second thought. How does he reconcile any of this? Yeah, he’s just fine.

I would tell you how all of us are doing just fine now four years later. But it doesn’t sound fine to most people when you say it out loud. We are fine by all outward appearances now, and that’s what matters most, doesn’t it? The watered down version for public consumption is that we get up everyday, we go about the day in much the same way we used to, and we have developed new dreams and goals. The difference now is that there is a very big hole where our hearts used to be, and it is covered over by a very tender, very large, somewhat healing, scar. But we are all fine. We are not on emotional life support anymore. Healing is happening. Finally. Slowly.

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All my life I have been able to dream in sleep. Very vivid dreams. I used to be able to recall at least one dream a night most of the time. Then after the discovery of my husband’s affairs I stopped dreaming. It was as if there had been this whole inner life of beauty, fantasy, and imagination one day, and darkness the next. I was to learn later that my brain couldn’t process what happened to me, which was one reason I developed PTSD. It seems my brain couldn’t process it in sleep either. So the dreams just disappeared. Something else taken from me. Last night, I had my first real dream in 4 years. It was horrifying. Now I know why I wasn’t allowed to dream, my brain was protecting me from myself.

Like most dreams, not everything makes sense, dreams are spoken in the language of symbols and are usually a metaphor for something that is far more significant than it appears at first glance. We dream to process the events of the day. For the first time in 4 years, here is how my brain was able to process the madness of what can only be described as a sociopathic act…

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I had just found a taxi to take me home, from what must have been a trip because there was luggage. We were heading down the beautiful palm tree line coast towards home when all of a sudden there was a traffic jam just minutes from home. I could even see my house from here.  We were the first car stopped in the traffic jam. So I had a front row seat to what we were all about to witness. I looked up from the back seat of the car to see my house begin to slide off the edge of the cliff it was built on. It was a gorgeous house, perfect in every way. Large and beautifully landscaped, with a view I had longed for all my life of the beach and the crystal blue ocean below.  It seemed to be my dream house. I sensed that it was something we had worked all of our lives to build together. But it seemed to be on rollers. Easily moved. And it was moving now towards the edge of the cliff, ever so slowly. As the house was sliding towards the edge of the cliff the outer wall gave way to reveal my children inside the house. They were scared and clutching each other, I couldn’t tell for sure from how far away I was from them, but their body language told me they were sobbing.  I screamed for someone to save them! “Please save my children! Oh God! Do not let them die!”  As I was screaming, emergency vehicles suddenly appeared out of no where, and they all seemed baffled about what to do. Nobody seemed to know who, or what, was causing this disaster, which kept them all paralyzed from knowing where to start to help.  My children were terrified. Finally, a hook and ladder fire truck lifted a fireman up to them from below. I was relieved as I saw them being rescued! But as he was loading my children on to the ladder to save them, more of the house was now being pushed over the edge on top of them, burying all of them alive. I was crying hysterically at this point. I tried to get out of the taxi but the doors were locked and I was forced to watch what happened next as friends, family, and neighbors all came to help save my children and my house. Everyone who tried to help was either driven over the edge by the moving house or buried under the rubble from below. My husband was nowhere to be seen. Was he missing? Was he in the house? Did he die in this disaster too? I kept trying to get out of the taxi, my hands were now bleeding from the attempt. I watched helplessly as each and every person who mattered to me was buried alive by my house as the last wall went over the edge on top of them. When the dust settled I saw my husband standing at the edge of the cliff with his hands on his hips. It was so chilling to that he would do such a devastating thing to so many people. I just stared at him in disbelief  for a few seconds and then I passed out.

I startled awake with tears running down my cheeks. It was the first time I had cried in my sleep for over a year. And then following wakefulness, came the familiar pain gripping my heart that I had felt everyday for at least two years. I thought I was having a heart attack again. No. It was only my heart breaking in two…for the millionth time.

Then I remembered it is the 2nd anniversary of the finalization of my divorce from him. It’s funny what the body remembers when the mind would like to forget. I don’t know if I love that my dreaming has returned. But I am grateful.  It’s a sign that healing is taking place. It will be interesting to process this dream and trying and figure out what it all means. I am sure you can probably guess some of it. At least my brain is finally healing enough to process the terror I have felt over the last 4 years. At least my brain thinks it’s safe enough now to dream and to process. I have, at least healed that much. Maybe that does mean I am fine after all. At the very least, I am headed towards “fine” so maybe when someone asks me how I am, now I can say, “I’m fine,” without feeling like its a lie.

To celebrate my healing, I think I will have a cupcake for breakfast. And that is fine!

Stay Strong!  Be Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

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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betrayal, Coping, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Walking Away…for the Last Time

Please tell me I am not the only one!  Here I sit, almost 6 months after my divorce, still renumerating over the last two years of my life.  I wanted it to turn out so much differently.  I never wanted this!  I keep going over  and over and over it in my head, trying to pick up every piece of my life, I kneel down, see a new shattered aspect of my life, pick it up, and turn it over in my hand searching for a new clue to what happened to me.  What could I have done better?  What did I miss?  Was it really my fault, like he tells me it is? Why doesn’t he love me enough to get himself into recovery?  How did I find myself here…alone.  The things I do to myself in my head are excruciating.  My mind is my own best instrument of torture.  I carry the instruments of torture with me, everywhere I go.  This is not where I am supposed to be at this point of my life!  Why me!?

3a130e1702bb214d8924617f73a5d659I live in this space of pain everyday.  Often, sleep is my only escape.  Even then, I sometimes wake up, only to realize I was crying in my sleep. Tears spill out of my closed eyelids and down my cheeks before I wake up.  My face bathed in tears while I am sleeping!  How is that even possible?

Walking away from an addict, I am finding out, is more difficult than I thought it would be.  It is hard to understand it.  It’s a whole other level of crazymaking that I had not even anticipated.  He spent two years driving me crazy with his crazy making, now I will finish myself off with mine.  Whoever said that addiction doesnt hurt anyone but the person doing it is lying!

Silly me, I keep thinking he would or could get a handle on himself to repair his relationships to a minimum level of civility so we could at least be in the same room.  Alas, that is not to be.  At least not for a long time.  My kids keep telling me its going to take their dad years to come back to himself, if ever.  I try to wrap my brain around this.  This man who had it all together for decades of marriage, is such a mess, he may never come out of it.  How is that possible?

So here is the dilemma.  Do I keep torturing myself with all the what ifs, could have beens, and shoulds? Or do I move on with what only I have control of? Me.  Me? I divorced him to save me, after all!  And here I am, still stuck in the prinson of abuse of my own making.  Why do I do this to myself?  What would make a perfectly sane person succumb to the insanity of another person?

It turns out that this is a thing!  I have become addicted to the addict!  Crazy! Right?  In this article, “Your Brain on Love, Sex and the Narcissist” I learned much about my own baffling behavior over the past 6 months.

Many survivors of narcissistic abuse are confounded by the addiction they feel to the narcissist, long after the abusive relationship took a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Make no mistake: recovery from an abusive relationship can be very similar to withdrawal from drug addiction due to the biochemical bonds we may develop with our toxic ex-partners. Shahida Arabi 

It is important to understand that women in relationships with addicts are battling so much more than just the behaviors of the addict.  It is also the same as being held hostage and tortured emotionally. No wonder so many of us end up with PTSD!  We are literally on the frontline of a battle for the health and survival of the family.  Many women willingly put themselves in the line of fire for their husbands, children and families. That is what women do! It is in our natures to protect our family. But being in the battle, especially if we have been battling without the right equipment for our protection, leaves us vulnerable to being injured, and even, captured by the “enemy.”

Understanding why we are addicted permits us recognize that our addiction is not about the merits of the narcissist, but rather the nature and severity of the trauma we’ve experienced. It enables us to detach and move forward with powerful knowledge that can propel us towards greater agency and healthier relationships than the ones we’ve experienced in the past. In addition, it challenges the victim-blaming discourse in society that prevents many abuse survivors from gaining support and validation for the traumas they’ve experienced – validation that would actually help, not hinder, these survivors in leaving their abusive relationships. Shahida Arabi 

I was able to escape my abuse.  But the lasting effects of PTSD keep me reliving the experiences, and that isn’t healthy.  What was a relief is that I am not crazy.  This is a thing!  A real thing!

I had a long talk with my son about this over the weekend.  I just need to walk away.  The only way to healing for me is NO CONTACT with my ex.  I need the time and space and time to shrug off the effects of my own addiction to my ex.  Like my son told me, “You do not want him the way he is now. So why waste anymore time on him? If you met him for the first time today you wouldn’t give him another thought. You might not go on a first date with him, and certainly not a second date. So why are you wasting your time on him now?” All of these are fair questions and something I have been seriously thinking on now for a few days. It is time, no past time, to get serious about going no contact if I am going to really survive the last two years.

What is NO CONTACT?  How do you do it?

It’s difficult to go NO CONTACT with an addict/abuser. However, when you are in the situtation where NO CONTACT is necessary, here are affirmations to help you to stick with it.

I want to make one last point, something that will end this on a more spiritual note.  My faith has been really suffering since my divorce.  In many ways I feel as if the Lord has abandoned me.  I feel, completely, utterly, alone, spiritually speaking, more often than not.  This weekend I dedicated my study efforts on the General Conference talk  “What Lack I Yet?”  by Larry Lawrence.  I have committed to ask the Lord each day what I am Lacking that is holding me back and keeping me from moving forward.  The answers have been interesting and helpful and have served as a witness to me that I am not alone!  I am seen. I am heard.  And I am loved by the Lord.  He is here, willing and ready to help me if I will turn to him. Here is my example:

I was praying fervently this morning about why I am having such a hard time getting my Ex out of my head.  Why do I think about him ALL.THE.TIME? I can’t seem to break out of this cycle no matter how hard I try. What is wrong with me? I asked the Lord for help in getting him out of my head.  I am really sick of this.  It isn’t fun for me and I do not enjoy it at all.  I want to be happy! Please, Lord, help me to be happy!  The answer came.  It came quite quickly and forcefully, but ever so kind:

Debbie, why do you spend every waking thought on David? He is not your Savior, I am! Your every thought should be on me, not him. In this way, are you not betraying me also?

Whoa! I think this is a breakthrough moment for me.  The way to stop obsessing on the Ex is to put all my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and attention on the Savior.  He will then be able to save me.

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

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The Cupcake Warrior