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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betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Untethered 

I have been working on becoming grounded practically everyday since my yoga class began two months ago, and with good reason – I am untethered from the earth. A thought that both intrigues and terrifies me at the same time. Don’t panic. I am not suicidal. I just have this feeling like the earth is no longer home to me. I don’t belong here. The earth has become my prison and it is holding me hostage. If I were to go to my heavenly home today, I would be ok with that, because I would be free of this pain. If I could choose it, I would not stay. But it is not my choice to make. So my mind and body are rebelling. It’s another coping mechanism of the brain to deal with intense pain.

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Today I discussed these feelings with my therapist, and I discovered I am not alone in this space. Floating above the earth and not feeling your feet touch the ground is not uncommon for women in betrayal trauma. Imagine all of the souls that walk among you who are untethered from this world because they feel indescribable pain. These are the real walking dead. Welcome to the world of the betrayed.

Imagine a pain so deep, so wide, and so vast that the earth is not large enough to hold it. That is what betrayal trauma feels like. Pain like that cannot be contained on earth. It is bigger than the earth.

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I discovered my disconnnect from all things earthly while doing a guided meditation of visualizing my chakras. Being grounded is the first chakra. It’s color is red and it’s location is at the base of the spine, the tailbone. In visualizing this chakra you should be able to see, in your minds eye, a bright red spinning disk at the base of your spine.

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I can see all of my chakras, but this one. The others are all present, to one degree or another. I can see them all but this one. Which is weird because I can normally, easily visualize the color red, just not in relationship to my chakras. Some of my chakras are vibrant and alive with vivid colors, others are faint. The red one is, well, practically non-existent. It is mostly gray, powdery, and dust, like a fire that has burned itself out completely. Periodically it pulses with the faintest red glow, almost imperceptible. An ember that  still burns hot, but is covered in ash.  So faint, and sporadic, that I almost didn’t notice it. I’m afraid to blow on it too hard, for fear I will blow it out completely. I only saw it because the fact that it wasn’t there frightened me. I kept searching for it in my minds eye long after the instructor had moved the class on to the next one. Once I saw it, I moved on too. But the experience left me shaken. So I finally told it to my therapist today.

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Her response was amazing. It left me feeling very validated and less alone. “How could you be grounded if the one thing you were grounded to, betrayed you?” Being grounded is a feeling of safety. It is your security. What happened to me was anything but safe. My whole world was blown apart! The life I thought I had was a total lie!  What was there left to be grounded to? Nothing! It is all gone! Being grounded implies I have something solid to be grounded into. The betrayal of my spouse is no small thing. It makes a mockery of everything I thought was real. With my reality called into question, how could I be grounded? And what would I be grounded to? This is what I now have to figure out. What is it that grounds me to this world in the aftermath of all this destruction?

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For now, it is my children and grandchildren. I stay here for them. They need me to be whole and grounded so that they have something to anchor themselves to as well. But I cannot put my exisitence and well-being solely on them either. That isn’t fair. In a fair world, the way God intended it, parents need to be grounded so children can ground to them, not the other way around. Their Dad betrayed them too. He left all of us untethered, and then he ran away. Now I am the one left behind to clean up after him, to make sure everyone else left behind will be ok. It’s not their job to make sure I am ok. It was his job. Does that make sense? Being tethered to them must be a temporary space for me to live in. I need a reason to stay that is greater than they are. A purpose for my very be-ing.

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So I work hard on feeling grounded everyday. For them. I found this chakra balancing meditation I do every night before bed. It’s a little weird, but I like that the first thing he does in the video is to have me imagine a strong cord attached to my tailbone that goes to the center of the earth and attaching itself to anything solid I can find. For me, it is the earth’s core. I wrap the cord around and around that glowing ball in the center of the earth. That is how committed I am to staying here; I ground all the way into the core of the earth!  For now, I am tethering myself here by an imaginary cord until I can find a more solid foundation for my life. It’s a place to start, until I can rebuild. With any luck, it will be something worth all this pain.

 

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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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!

Cupcake Warrior Logo

betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Everything Does NOT Happen for a Reason, So Stop Saying That!

“Well, everything happens for a reason.” My friend says with a sigh.

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I know she means well. The comment is meant to bring me comfort, and help her feel that she is connecting with my pain, on some level. It is the sort of thing people say when they don’t know what to say. But this is an assumption that doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t make someone experiencing the grief of a tragedy feel any better.

I recently read an article that more closely resembled my feelings that ‘not everything happens for a reason’ and some things are just senseless. I was able to codify my feelings in my therapist’s office last week so I will share them with you now. I told her how this comment really upsets me when anyone says it, to anyone. Her response both surprised me and helped me to connect with her. She gets me.

“I know! People used to say that to me too and it made me so mad! This did not happen for a reason!”

Yes! Bingo!

Someone cheating on you over and over doesn’t happen by some grand design meant to make you a “stronger person.” Like my therapist said, “I was a good person already, I would have ‘gotten there’ on my own! I didn’t need this to make me a better person!”

Yeah. Me too.

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Self improvement is my middle name. I am the sort of person who sets goals, and achieves them. I read self-help books. All the time. I want to be better, to do better, at my core. I believe in becoming. It’s in my DNA. It is who I am. I didn’t need some bonehead dumping my world upside down to accomplish what I was already in the process of doing. In many ways, he derailed me, and set me back…years. What I needed was a committed companion to take my hand and help me on my journey. I needed love and support. I needed to be nourished, not hit upside the head with a two by four. I needed to feel connected to my core foundation, my primary relationship attachment.  My husband. Not to suffer atrocities of his own making.

There is no doubt that I will learn some lessons along the way.  There are lessons to be learned in every experience. I do not want to discount this. But betrayal? Infidelity? PTSD? Shock? Grief? Are these the lessons I really needed to learn to grow as a person? Did I need this? Really? Was this somehow a part of God grand design for me? No. Absolutely not! I do not believe this for a minute. It is milarky.

Let’s talk about the suffering of the innocent. Shall we?

Every person on this earth will suffer needlessly at the hand of some careless idiot. Or worse. Someone who is evil at their core. We see it happen everyday. Mass shootings, betrayal, assault, abuse and exploitation, to name a few. All of these things are hideous and senseless. They should not happen. Ever!

But they do. The Lord knew this and he provided for it. Bad things happen because Heavenly Father values agency above nearly everything else. The freedom to choose is paramount to our salvation. We have to be FREE to CHOOSE HIM…or no. Because of this, some people’s choices hurt other people. Profoundly. But I do not believe these lapses in judgment are somehow part of God’s grand design. No. If it were so, I would be experiencing a crisis of faith, because that would mean that God is not loving, but punitive. He would be rightly accused of picking winners and losers among His children. Playing favorites. That is not the kind of God I could trust with my pain.

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But I have it on good authority that God is as upset as I am over the abuses I have suffered at the hands of my ex-husband. Alma teaches this principle very plainly in the Book of Mormon.

Alma and Amulek were missionaries who experienced great success. So much so, that the government rulers were angry at the faithfulness of the people Alma and Amulek converted. The rulers decided that if these new converts did not denounce their new-found religion they would kill all their wives and children, and throw scriptures in a fire with them for good measure. And to make it all the more evil, they would make these faithful men watch it all! How horrific. I can think of very few things that are worse than this. The Lord is very clear in showing this example how he feels. Causing others to suffer because of their wickedness is not acceptable to Him! It isn’t part of HIS plan! It is outrageous!

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Evidently, that is how Amulek reacted as well, and he wants Alma to stop this atrocity. He knew that the power of God could stop it! But Alma is restrained from stopping it by the Spirit, and he explains why:

“The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.” Alma 14:11

In other words, the Lord allow bad things to happen to good people so that He can justify punishing the bad people. It was explained to me this way –  If someone wants to kill their brother but never does it, they could say to God at the judgment day, “Well, I never actually did it. No crime was committed.” Even if God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, he has no proof of the desires of the wicked brother because he was never allowed to act on the intent of his heart. But, if on the other hand, the evil brother acts out his wicked desires, boom! He is so guilty! God is justified and his punishement is just.

So the awful things humans do to each other are not part of God’s grand design. They are the consequences of the agency of another person. AND it allows God to justly punish the wicked.

God did not do this to me to teach me some cosmic lesson. He allowed my ex-husband to do this to me so that He would be justified in punishing him, should my ex never repent. My ex HAS acted out the evil in his heart. Now his job is to turn away from what he did and REPAIR the damage – four fold. (See D&C 98:44-45) If he doesn’t, the consequences for him will not be pretty. Justice will be served up.  Eventually.

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As for me, Heavenly Father has my back. He is giving me all the help and comfort I need right now to get past this, not so I can learn some unfair lesson, but so I can heal from experiencing something I never deserved. Yes, I will end up being a better person for it, maybe, because that is how I roll. But too many people who go through things equally frightful, or worse, and they won’t  be better for it, because it destroys them. Utterly and completely destroyed. Being destroyed doesn’t make you a better person. Suffering at the hands of someone you loved so deeply isn’t a life lesson that improves you. It changes you. Forever.  And not always for the better.  Betrayal isn’t a classroom the Lord uses to school his children. So please, don’t say this to your family and friends who suffer at the hands of a wicked person’s heart. It’s not true. And it certainly isn’t helpful.

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Thoughts from UCAP

UCAPlogo_vertical_blue_320The Utah Coalition Against Pornography had their yearly conference this past week.  I decided to go…and then I didn’t…and then I did…and then I didn’t.  I wasn’t sure how triggering this would be for me, or if I could handle it.  In the end, I decided to go, mostly because my company was providing the text messaging for the conference.  This is also an issue I care about deeply, so I went.  I am glad I did. The theme of the conference was “The Hope Effect” and it turned out to be very hopeful, for both addict and trauma victim. I met lots of awesome new people and re-connected with people I already know.  All in all the experience was great!  I did have a few very triggering moments, I am not going to lie, but I was able to breathe through them and be just fine. Tears were shed, it was just that kind of place.

I came away with a few thoughts and epiphanies that I would like to share. They were profound enough that I wrote them down.

On Secrets

This first one is from therapist Jeff – Speaking to the addict, he said, “Secrets are love repellant. You will feel love to the degree that you don’t keep secrets. You will get better to the degree that you don’t keep secrets” The fact that my ex-husband kept so many secrets from me was a very strong indication that he was not going to fix the problem.  He never once came clean to me about anything he was doing.

Addicts build walls and they go up because they are afraid of rejection, but these walls have just the opposite effect, at least they did in my life.  I ended up feeling like the rejected one. These secrets color and damage every aspect of the relationship.  Addicts reject their spouses love because they think, “If you knew what I did, you would not love me.” But it is the addict who doesn’t feel the spouses, love so they end up blame the spouse.

I can attest to this.  It is exactly what happened in my situation.  I can imagine that my ex-husband felt so much guilt and shame for what he had done that he could not imagine that I would ever love him again.  But the opposite would have been true if he had done the hard work to just get INTO recovery.  I would have loved and respected him more than he could ever imagine, because he would be fighting to keep me.  There is nothing more loveable or romantic than a man who will fight for the woman he loves!

“It is a contradiction to say, “I honor the human person,” while treating the human body as separable from the person using it as a tool, devouring [pornographic] images of it…One cannot at once love the beautiful and desire to defile it. It is like loving the Pieta with an ax.”  Anthony Esolen

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The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

Therapist Tyler Perry talked about the importance of connection in preventing and overcoming addiction. The science is becoming so clear that people turn to addictive behaviors because they are not connecting to people in the real world. We live in an addicting world.  Everything from gaming, to cell phones, to pornography is addicting.  Even jobs and hobbies can be addicting.

Long term recovery cannot happen unless the addict has real life connections.

Addiction + Connection = Recovery

Sobriety is only achieved by a committed effort to a lifestyle change. This is something I worked hard to show my ex-husband.  But he was not convinced he needed a drastic change in his lifestyle to overcome the behavior.  The truth is, that unless there is a lifestyle change, these patterns of behavior will come back.  There is no doubt of that.  You cannot just white knuckle your way to sobriety on sheer willpower.  It won’t happen.

Studies are showing that there must be a connection to others and to your higher power.  And that connection to your higher power begins with daily activities that happen with intention. Things like, scripture study, prayer, meditation, going to church, being in nature, listening to good music and keeping a journal are all things addicts should be doing every day. Over time these “dailies” cause a softness to occur in the heart and we get a confirmation that we are worthy of love.  We gain perspective.  We become humble and that fosters safety and connection for the partner.

Recovery from addiction is very possible, but it takes work.  It takes a willingness to work. It takes humility.  My ex-husband did not demonstrate any of these behaviors.

While sitting in this conference I saw men who were in recovery.  I saw their light and humility. I saw their efforts and willingness to fight for their wives and children.  It was a stark contrast to how my ex-husband responded.  In that moment I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was right to divorce him.  He does not deserve me.  He does not deserve our children.  Had he fought for us, he would have been worthy of us.  But he didn’t. And because he refused to fight for us we were left with no other choice but to walk away.

On Goal Setting

Lastly, I was struck by what therapists are learning about setting goals.  45% of Americans set goals for the New Year, but 92% never achieve their goals.  And by February most people have given up on their goals altogether.  So researchers have tried to figure out why most people do not achieve their goals.

What they found is:

That if you write down your goals and share then with someone else it will decrease the motivation to achieve the goal.  This is because of something they call the “substitution effect.”  What this does is that if you tell someone about your goal, the brain will actually tell you that you have already achieved the goal and convince you that you are already making progress.  This cause the motivation to actually work on the goal to decline. Our brain gives us validation for just “planning” to do something. But if you do not have an outside audience then you are more likely to work harder to achieve the goal.

This is why setting a goal to not look at porn never works.  When your goal becomes white and black, sobriety or addiction, you will fail.  Every time. You are doing well, until you are not.  You become delusional in your thinking.  Everything is always bad or always good.  In this state you are delusional.

So forget about setting goals like this that will set you up for failure.  Instead, focus on the processes. Processes are not a destination. Processes act more like a road map.

Here are the main processes for recovery:

  1. Recovery Dailies – these help you stay emotionally stable, self-aware and grounded.  This is like providing routine maintainance to your car.  If you don’t take care of your car, it will go along fine for a while until you have a problem. By then the problem will be serious and expensive.  Dailies are routine maintainance.
  2. Curiosity – approach healing with a curious mind.  This is much different from evaluating everything that happened.  Slow way down and enjoy the journey.  Ask yourself important questions like, “I wonder why I feel this way?” or “That is an interesting cycle, why did that happen?” Observe your behavior and ask questions about it.  This will take a lifetime to master this shift in thinking.  But having curiosity is more important than intelligence when it comes to problem solving.
  3. Highlight Patterns – highlight your own part of the pattern first to your partner then ask, “what do you think your part of the pattern is in this situation?” This will start a healthy dialogue in identifying and fixing the pattern.
  4. Conflict is Diagnostic – When you have a conflict with your partner it is a chance to ask, “What is it about this pattern that got us back here?” Use conflict to find a diagnosis. Then check your own emotions to see how you handle conflict.
  5. Seek Personal Serenity – Do not let someone else control your emotions. This will take years of work, but it is necessary.  Do not hand over your influence and power to someone else.  Accepting hardships is the pathway to peace.
  6. Replace Fairness with Acceptance – Fairness is the enemy of serenity.  Fairness does not help you to grow. Learned helplessness is not acceptance. Acceptance is not wasting your energy  on things you have no influence over and spending time on the things you do. Accept things that are for what they are.
  7. Create a Recovery Narrative – Imagine your life as being narrated.  We value stories over random facts.  Create how you want your story to be in your mind. 12 Steps is critical to recovery because it creates a safe place for an addict to share their story. Your role in it is to not be overly critical or supportive of the addict in recovery.  Remember that we do not throw parades for ourselves or others until the behavior is changed, if we do this it undermines recovery. Praise decreases the motivation to keep going.  A better response for improvement is, “that’s interesting, it will be interesting to see if you can keep that up.”
  8. Breathe – Remember to breathe.  This allows us to reset.  Nobody can go at this 100% all of the time. Breathing is essential.

What stands out to me in these processes is how much I yearned for this to happen in my own relationship with my husband and how unwilling he was to make it happen for us. This kind of work would have been hard to do, but I would have loved it!  I would have enjoyed so much working to become closer and more connected as a couple.  This would have been fun for me! However, I also realize now how resistant he was to all of this.  It was never going to happen, not in a million-trillion years.  Like he told me over and over, he just isn’t into all that touchy-feely stuff.  It’s not him.  He is right.  He isn’t, wasn’t, even on a good day. This is the kind of connection I wanted and needed from him throughout our marriage and he is not capable of giving it to me.  And even the crisis of an addiction wasn’t enough for him to want it for himself either.

It’s better for me that I divorced him. I was really fighting a losing battle. He is a broken man with no desire to fix anything.

If you would like to view articles and videos from UCAP classes visit their website.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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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!

betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Phoenix Rising

As I mentioned in another post my ex-husband  burned our family down. He burned me down. He burned us down. There is literally nothing left of me or our family except ashes. Just when I think there is nothing more he can do to destroy our family any further, he finds another way. There isn’t any end to his nonsense.

no-contactSince I went “no contact” with him, he has turned his attentions to torturing our adult children. Our oldest daughter asked him to break up with his girlfriend so he could turn his attention and time to healing the damage he has done to them. It seemed to be a reasonable request to me because it is basically the same request I have been making of him for the past two years; to turn all of his attention and time to me to heal our relationship. This is what a normal person would do. They would gladly do everything they could to heal the breach, especially before “moving on” to ruin some else’s life. Someone who does this to their family needs serious counseling in how to develop healthy relationships. But apparently, he wants to move on now, keep his girlfriend and have his adult children be ok with it, not just be ok, but to give their blessing to his bad choices. (I don’t even want to discuss what kind of idiot woman wants a man who is this messed up?)

smore_card_covers8His insistence that our children be ok with his decisions was met with a strong boundary for him, “You need to spend your time healing the damage between us before you move on with any other relationship, or we cannot have a relationship with you. Period.” But rather than understand or respect the requested boundary his children gave him, he kept insisting that they do it his way.  It’s not unusual for him to want it his way.  Most of his responses in the past dozen years or so are very selfish. But this serves as an example of how Addicts do not respect boundaries. They do not respect what their loved ones need. Most of the time they don’t even have a clue how to figure out what their loved ones need! It’s all about them.  Wisdom and common sense would dictate that when someone destroys another persons wellbeing, they would want to do whatever was asked of them to repair the damage they have done. This is what healthy people do. And if they are not healthy they would, or should, want to GET HEALTHY! First. Before they do anything else.

I can only speak from my own experiences. It’s what I know. It’s why I write – to share my experiences to, hopefully, help others.  The purpose for sharing this situation is not to vilify my ex-husband, but the purpose is for a concrete, instructive situation that  both the addict and their family members can understand:

Unhealthy people with unhealthy relationships cannot form new healthy relationships without learning new patterns of behavior that allow the addict to repair and restore the damage they have done. First! There is no “moving on” until the addict chooses to act in healthy and responsible ways. These new patterns are learned in the 12 Steps Program. This should be a basic place for the addict to start to repair relationships.

Choices and accountability matter!

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In his present mindset, my ex-husband’s prospects for healing his relationship with his children seems as abysmal as his chances for his healing our relationship. He hasn’t made the choice to do the hard work of real repentance. He hasn’t chosen me. He hasn’t chosen his children. He hasn’t chosen God.  Until he makes the right choices he will continue to feel the adverse consequences of his choices.

And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. 2 Nephi 2:5

The consequences for his most resent choices are that his children now want nothing more to do with him until he can make better choices. His children want him to CHOOSE THEM!  Just like I wanted him to CHOOSE ME!! For now, he has chosen the girlfriend, not his children. I cannot fathom this choice! Just like I couldn’t fathom his choice to not choose me.  Somehow this seems worse to me though – they are his own flesh and blood! What kind of monster does this??? If I were in this same situation, of course I would choose my kids! Of course I would choose my family! I would have chosen our relationship in the first place. But that is me thinking with a non-addict brain.  Who the hell knows what he is thinking???

In order to come to this decision to have no contact with him, our adult children met with a counselor to get advice on how to handle this situation.  They discussed the disrespect their father has for them by refusing to honor their requests of him. They talked about when is it appropriate to cut off contact and for how long.   When does a relationship become so toxic it requires cutting off the relationship? (Google the ‘no contact rule’ it is a thing and it makes a lot of sense!)

What it boils down to is this: Hitting Rock Bottom

Addicts will not change until the pain of what they have lost because of the addiction becomes greater than the “high” they get from the next hit of chemical dependency. In bottomline terms; what does it take for the addict to hit rock bottom? Hitting rock bottom is different for everyone. Some can hit bottom just by being horrified at themselves for what they have done. For others, it will mean losing everything; job, marriage, children, family,community standing, religious excommunication, self-respect, and some go so far to lose even basic freedoms to live in society.

As it turns out, cutting off a relationship with an addict may be one of the best things you can do for them if they will not come to terms with their behavior on their own, because it requires them to face their own demons on their own. The enabling of the addict stops. He has no one to blame but himself. Hopefully, he will be forced to hit bottom faster. As the addict loses more and more of the things that matter most to him this serves as a wake up call. At some point the addict needs to wake up one day and say, “Gee, maybe I am the one with the problem!” Only when this happens will the reality of the addicts behavior begin to set in:

Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds. Jacob 2:35

What will it take for him to see the sheer magnitude of pain his choices has caused his family? Who knows. We can only withdrawal to a safe distance until he figures himself out. Nobody can do it for him. Helpless.  That is how we all feel. It is anyone’s guess how far he will have to fall to hit rock bottom.  After 3 years of hell, he still isn’t there.

The challenge we face now is to figure out how to rise from the ashes in spite of him. It is clear he doesn’t want to assist in the healing. So it is something we must do for ourselves. This much I know, we had a great family. He walked away from one of the best families a man could ever have. Our children are great! I was a great wife and mother!  If anyone can do this, we can. We can and we will succeed in our own healing. We will, like the Phoenix, rise from the ashes of our lives.

Upon completion of its life cycle, the famed firebird builds its funeral pyre. After setting itself alight, it burns until nothing but ash remains. From that ash and flame, the Phoenix Rises!

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Note: What do you think ex-husband’s reaction was to his children telling him that he cannot have contact with them for now?

It was blame.

It’s ALWAYS about the blame! He blamed me. (And I am not even around him anymore!) Never mind that our children are all grown adults who can think and act for themselves. But still…It was all my fault. I brainwashed them all against him. I love how he phrases it too; “I see you have decided to follow in ‘Your Mother’s’ footsteps and….” Doesn’t he know how offensive this is to his grown children?  He is outright discounting that they have a single brain between them and that one brain that they all share is controlled completely by me!  How offensive can he be???

What he should have said is, “Gee, I guess you are really serious about how you feel.  I didn’t understand that it meant so much to you that I break off this relationship with Girlfriend. I thought you were kidding, it appears that you are not.  So after rethinking things I have decided you are more important to me and I will break up with her, no contact at all for the next 6 months and spend that time just on you guys to try to rebuild our relationship.  I won’t even talk to you about her.  In six months we can revisit this subject and see where we are at that time.  Does that sound ok to you?”

This is just way too healthy a response for him though!

This is just another witness in a long line of examples that denial is alive and well and has found a home in him, a host parasite that sucks all the brains and common sense right out of him!  He couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it.

His denial disgusts me. I don’t want to feel this way, but there it is.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet! (Or try to, anyway.)

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

 

betrayal, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Trauma Response Rescues

Do you know what a “Trigger” is?

A “Trigger” is any event that brings up old feelings of panic and danger even if there is no danger around.  It is a PTSD response very similar to what war veterans experience.  One minute you are fine and the next you are not.  the emotional response happens immediately and without warning when a Trigger presents it’s self. Triggers can be places, people, times of year, events, holidays, weather, smells, sounds, music, memories; anything can be a Trigger. And because of this it is nearly impossible to avoid your Triggers! Triggers bring up past trauma unexpectedly and with such force that often it can feel like you are actually reliving a traumatic experience. This really sucks!

The part about my Triggers that angers me off the most is my ex-husband doesn’t give a flying flip that he has done this to me or his family.  He doesnt care in the least.  If he did care at all then he would be working to alleviate the triggers and the pain that comes with it.  Instead, he is off chasing his new girlfriend because he “deserves some happiness.”  I know I am not alone in this.  My kids suffer, and my grandkids suffer.  We all suffer the devastation while all he cares about is his own happiness.  So here we are having to deal with these difficult emotional responses without any assistance (even financial assistance) from the perpetrator. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I have a triggered response everytime I drive by the hotel where my daughter caught my husband in a hotel room with another woman.  When I drive by this hotel I burst into tears and re-live the whole ugly experience again and again.  Because of a series of business meeting I have had this week I have had to drive by this particular hotel 6 times this week. It has been brutal!  I could have gone out of my way to avoid it, gone another way, but I am determined not to let these experiences run me or my life.  So I chose to just power through it this week. But how do you do that?  How do you face something so painful head on?

dissociation-triggersI have learned that when triggers come it is because your pre-frontal cortex (thinking brain) has been hijacked by your limbic brain (emotional brain).  To beat back the trigger you must access the  pre-frontal cortex and put it back and charge.  As you learn to do this you can quickly disarm the lymbic brain, redirect the thought patterns, and put the pre-frontal cortex back in charge.  This works for any kind of panic or anxiety response.  The idea “control your thoughts, control your destiny” is really very true.  Gaining power over Triggers is getting back the power over your mind.  Triggers won’t go away, but you can lessen their effects, and with practice, stop them as they are happening.

 

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My ex-husband is a dementor. He sucks all the happiness out of his family members and leaves them for dead.

I was reminded of what triggers are like while watching Harry Potter with my daughter last week.  Triggers are like Boggarts, they are not real, they look real and they feel real, but they are just your worst fears manifest. The students of Hogwarts were able to fight them with a spell… “expecto patronum!”  The Boggart was vanquished and thrown back into the box by most of the students.  Except some Boggarts are scarier than others.  Demetors are the scariest. I have come to think of Triggers as Dementors, they suck all the happiness right out of you! For a while Harry had to have help fighting against the Dementors.  At first, he couldn’t do it alone.  It took practice!  But when he eventually needed to rely on himself to do it, he was able to becuase he practiced. Beating back Triggers, especially the scariest ones, is a lot like that, it will take practice and patience with yourself.

So here are a few tips and tricks for putting your thinking brain back in charge:

Breathe – deep, mindful breathing. Breathe in, hold it for the count of four. Breathe out slowly whild counting to four.

Affirmations – Repeat your affirmations over and over until the trigger subsides. Make sure you have a list of daily affirmations that support areas where you are struggling.

Count and tap – cross your arms over your chest and touch your hands to your shoulders.  Begin counting.  As you count tap every other shoulder.  Do this for a count of six and then start over.  Continue until the fear and panic subside.  It will usually take about 15 to 20 sets of these.  It also really helps if you deep breathe with tap.  Breathe in , 1, Breathe out, 2, and so on.

Count your blessings – it is surprising how simple this is and how well it works.

Prayer – Prayer is a powerful antidote to Triggers.  Use it to pour your heart out to your Heavenly Father  and ask for help in overcoming your Triggers. He will tell you what will work best for you!

Read an interesting book –Keep a book around for this purpose.  In times of triggers I often open up my scriptures.  Its the book that works the best for me!

Work on a project – keep a craft or other project handy you can work on.  Crocheting, knitting or cross-stitch are all great for anxiety because of the counting aspects to them.

Workout – working out does wonders for releasing endorphines that will lift your spirit and improve your mood and outlook.

Go for a Walk – Walking outdoors and breathing in fresh air does wonders for the mind and the soul!

Mindful Meditations – there are a number of Apps that will help you with this.  Search the app store for mindful meditations, self hypnosis and meditation.  You will find plenty of free and paid apps.  Some of them you can try before you buy.  I have used Surf City apps, Happify and Head Space with lots of success.

Call a friend – sometimes you just need to talk things out with a trusted friend.  Call her. It will help.

Call your sponsor – if you are in a 12-step program then you will have a sponsor you can call when you are having a tough time. She will be a great listening ear and resource.  Your sponsor often understands in ways a friend can’t because she has traveled the road you are now on.

You can see that these remedies for trigger responses are also self care.  As you make an effort to do your “dailies” of self care you will build up a muscle memory response to triggers.  Over time you will automatically start to respond to the triggers in more helpful and healthy ways.  This is one of the reasons that self care is so important to do everyday!

What are some of the things you do to help overcome your triggers?

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Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

The Cupcake Warrior

addiction, betrayal, My Story, Trauma Recovery, Uncategorized

Drowning in Sadness

Sadness Letter

Write a letter to your partner expressing you feelings of sadness and loss.  This should not be a place to express anger so if you feel anger go to you anger letter to add those.  This should be about what makes you sad.  Use phrases like, “It makes me sad that” or “I regret that.”

It could happen anywhere…in a crowded theater, or a restaurant, a meaningful song on the radio, or even when I hear the sound of a Harley in the distance…you are everywhere… and nowhere to be found…

It’s curious how a wave of sadness can engulf me in the middle of a  high desert.  Without any warning, I feel the wave rumbling in the distance before I can even see it.  The sound is almost imperceptible at first, but suddenly it is everywhere as it thrashes me with a force so powerful that it could compress my heart with a single blow.  Towering over me like a beautiful blue monster with it jaws gaped open wide to shred me to bits with its jagged white teeth.  It is a wave so mountainous in size compared to me, that even the most accomplished surfer quakes at the thought of even getting in the water.  Yet there I stand, desperately trying to brace myself for a devastation I did not see coming and cannot control.  A wave so massive that I am aware that I will be broken against the ocean floor as it propels me downward into the abyss. I am terrified.

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As a child, I was scared to death of being caught in a riptide.  Growing up near the beach it was something that was constantly emphasized. Nothing can come as close to sudden death as quickly as an unsuspecting swimmer caught in a riptide.  There is no way out.  Drowning is inevitable.

I’ve never lost anything so precious to me before!  I don’t know what to do or how to react. I can’t breath I am so consumed in grief.  Part of me wishes that you had just died rather than have this happen, at least that way you would still be mine.  If I couldn’t have you now then at least I would have you in eternity,  And now I won’t.  My sadness over losing you to other women is consuming.  I cannot, nor will I ever, understand why you chose them over me.

Drowning Over and Over…

It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just drown once and slip into a peaceful existence beyond with nothing to worry about anymore, for all of eternity, but this doesn’t work like that.  With each new encounter with my memories, I am instantly thrust back into the deep with another wave towering over me, ready to come crashing down on my head within seconds.  I can feel it, see it coming, hear it, but try as I might, there is no stopping it.  I hold my breath because part of me wants to fight back, part of me wants to live, but it is just too suffocating.  I don’t stand a chance against it.  I can’t catch my breath.  I can’t move.  Sometimes the instinct to breathe is so strangling that I cannot resist and and I succumb to the need for air.  Gasping to catch my breath, I inhale the salty liquid and feel it burn as it fills my lungs. I am sure that I have taken my last breath…but no…I am still alive, but just barely.

bride drowning

Sometimes I try to just give in, lay down and let it wash over me.  But it is relentless in its attack.  If I submit, I am just tossed around in the tempest, not knowing which way is the air…sky…safety.  It is the longing for air that taunts me with the realization that there is no safety.  This intense sadness with be with me for the rest of my life.  Oh sure, it will get better, or so they tell me. I will become stronger, they say, learn how to swim in it, but it will never go away.  When sadness came into my life 18 months ago, it decided to stay for good, sadness and grief do not ever leave.  They move in.  Like it or not, they are my constant jailers for the rest of my life.  They are not leaving. I have no say in the matter.  You are the one holding me hostage here in this silent, terrifying deep.  Your love, is my only escape.  But it isn’t coming. You took it from me, like a thief in the night and I have no chance of getting it back unless, you decide you love me enough to release me from my overwhelming, suffocating, ocean prison.  For me, there is no escape from sadness or grief.  Like I said, I wish you had died,  at least you would still be mine.

Living in Fear of Sadness…

How do you turn something so terrifying into a friend?  How do you survive in such horrifying conditions?  My life used to be so predictable.  I was concerned over the stupidest things like, what do I make for dinner, should I go to the mall or down to see the kids, or where are we going this weekend.  Now I am straddled with an emotion I cannot see coming.  It shows up anytime or anywhere without sufficient warning.

Sometimes I cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life because I am worried I will unsuspectingly walk into a room where sadness is lurking there, waiting to pummel me to the ground. How can anyone survive this feeling, and yet, this is my new normal? Fear of Sadness.

Sadness Is…

  • Realizing that I spent 38 years of my life loving someone who didn’t love me back. At least not enough to fight for me.
  • Keeping myself from speaking out about how you treated me because I thought if I told you how I felt you wouldn’t change for me. Now I know that I was right and that is the worst feeling,
  • Feeling so lonely even with you in the room.
  • Wanting to see you again.
  • Not wanting to see you again.
  • Knowing you do not care enough about me to provide me with safety and security.
  • Knowing you can’t put my needs before your own.
  • Finding out that you are not the person I thought I married.
  • Admitting my parents were right about you after all.
  • Feeling rejected and unloved every single day since I discovered your affairs. Sometimes multiple
  • Not being able to trust myself.
  • Not being able to trust you.
  • Feeling abused.
  • Knowing that you used to love me, but not anymore.
  • Knowing you don’t care enough about me to treat me as well as you would treat a stranger.
  • Having you talk to me as if you hate me. For all I know, you do.
  • Being told that I am not supportive or loving enough towards you.
  • Being told I won’t allow you to change, when I want is for you to change.
  • All I want is for you to love me again.
  • Realizing you feel that I am to blame.
  • Sitting in the temple all alone, surrounded by strangers.
  • Hearing the words of the covenants we made to each other and knowing they will never be fulfilled.
  • Losing my eternal family, the only thing that ever mattered in life to me.
  • Losing you. Maybe forever.
  • Knowing that I will never be able to ride on the back of a motorcycle and not think of you.  I will think of the times that you patted my leg or told me you love me, only to find out later that you were telling another woman you love her too at the very same time. Maybe on the very same day?
  • Looking into the faces of my children and see you there.
  • Going to bed at night, in the dark, all alone.
  • Knowing that my heart doesn’t  belong to you, only because you don’t want it.
  • Feeling used.
  • Not being able to tell you how I feel.
  • I can’t tell you how you shattered my life and have you understand.
  • Being unable to convince you that I forgive you.
  • Being unable to convince you that I still want you.
  • Knowing you didn’t trust me enough to tell me the truth.
  • Being ignored to the point I feel I never meant anything to you.
  • Never feeling your embrace again.
  • Never kissing you.
  • Or making love to you.
  • Needing to pretend that what you do doesn’t bother me.
  • Hundreds of smells.
  • Thousands of sounds.
  • Millions of thoughts.
  • A lifetime of memories.
  • All the places we have been together.
  • All the homes we have lived in.
  • All the friends we made.
  • The music of our lives together.
  • Losing the one person I love the most.
  • Feeling like I can never love again.
  • The taste of your favorite foods.
  • Our favorite restaurants.
  • Making dinner.
  • Not being a part of a team anymore.
  • Feeling all alone in the world.
  • Knowing you are my whole world, but you don’t believe me.
  • The sun on my face and the wind in my hair.
  • The rumble of pipes.
  • Pepsi.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream.
  • Eating out.
  • Chilies on Greenville Ave.
  • Music and the Spoken Word
  • Church, everything about church.
  • Baby blessings.
  • Baptisms.
  • Seeing you in my dreams.
  • Hearing your voice.
  • Holding hands.
  • Hugs.
  • Kisses.
  • The warmth of your arms around me.
  • The smell of your naked skin.
  • The sound of you sleeping.
  • Knowing I will never be the same again.
  • Feeling my life has been wasted.
  • Starting over at this point. It’s so unfair. What did I do to deserve this?
  • Being abandoned…again.
  • Never going on missions with you.
  • Not having you there when Brent and Ashley get married.
  • Wanting a blessing, but knowing you won’t ever give me another one.
  • Waking up and realizing you are not here.
  • Family pictures.
  • Home movies.
  • Listening to the children talk about “ the good old days”.
  • Denver.
  • Colorado Springs.
  • Westminster.
  • New York.
  • Kansas.
  • Los Angeles.
  • San Fransisco.
  • Hawaii.
  • Cancun.
  • Orlando.
  • Miami.
  • Dallas.
  • Fort Worth.
  • Texas.
  • Colorado.
  • Florida.
  • Family Reunions.
  • Driving in the Mountains.
  • Holding your hand in the car.
  • Skiing.
  • Hockey.
  • Ice Skating.
  • Sitting by the fireplace.
  • Christmas.
  • Easter.
  • Birthdays.
  • 4 of July.
  • Halloween.
  • Tulips can never be my favorite flower anymore.
  • Cards.
  • Presents.
  • Letters.
  • Watching TV.
  • Listening to the news in the car.
  • The color blue.
  • ….and on and on and on

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We have experienced too much of life together! Everywhere I go, everything I do, taste, see, smell, hear or touch has the potential of turning into a jumbo wave of sadness.  The list is too long to ever escape the potential for grief and sadness.  Even if I never leave the house again, there will always be something there to remind me of you. This is the sum total of what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life, because it is a life without you!  Why can’t you see the truth?  Why won’t you do what is necessary to fix our family.  Everything could be so good again.  The deepest sadness of them all is that you don’t believe me.