abuse, betrayal, Emotional, healing, infidelity, Mental, Narcissist, PTSD, Self Care, Trauma Recovery

Where Focus Goes Energy Flows

Are you having obsessive thoughts? What are obessive thoughts? Why are they related to betrayal trauma? These questions, and others, will be addressed in this post to help you better understand the connection between betrayal trauma and obsessive thoughts, how to handle them, and the best ways to get past them.

Obessive thoughts happen as a result of being betrayed by your primary relationships. This is the one person you always thought you could count on for safety, love, and survival. And now you can’t. This causes a trauma so deep that it is difficult, but not impossible, to recover from it. Betrayal trauma mimics the symptoms of PTSD, and for good reason! Being betrayed by your primary attachment relationship is dvastating!

Thinking. Girl solving a problem. Conceptual image.

Dr. Randi Gunther, PhD says, “The partner who has been betrayed is emotionally tortured and humiliated when knowledge of the infidelity emerges. They are clearly in trauma and experience the same array of symptoms that professionals now describe as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Similar to any others who have suffered threats to their physical or emotional well-being and security, they are disoriented and confused by what has happened.”

Many women that I talk to have a similar experience to the quote below;

“Ever since I found out about the affair, I can’t stop thinking about what happened. I have repeated nightmares. My faith in trust and love is demolished. The person I believed in most in the world betrayed me without seeming to care. If I’d known something was wrong, maybe I could have stopped it before it got going. I spin between being devastated and being enraged. I can’t seem to find any peace, knowing that there is probably more than I will ever be told. I feel like a fool, humiliated, and broken. How could my partner do this to me?” 

Also, if the affairs and lying go on for months or years without any improvement in the behaviors of the betraying spouse it is abuse! When this abuse continues, it results in trauma bonding. It is also more than likely that the addict is exhibiting narcissistic behaviors resulting from his sex or porn addiction. Being in a relationship with a narcissistic partner is also abuse and can cause long term damage to you, and your children. It is important to name these experiences for what they are so you can reassure yourself that you are not over reacting to the affairs,ifidelity, and behaviors of your partner!

When your primary attachment relationship partner cheates on you, it is abuse! When he hides that affair from you, it is abuse! When he lies about it, it is abuse! When he continues to do it after the affair is discovered it is abuse! And when you endure this abuse over long periods of time you will likely develop betrayal trauma and PTSD. I wish someone had told me this, because had I known what was happening to me, I would have left immediately. Just the obsessive thoughts is enough to make a person feel crazy and nobody wants that!

I became aware of my obsessive thoughts very early on in my Cheaters betrayal. In the beginning it was obsessing about what he was doing, who he was with, and how I was going to help him get over his addiction. Later on, the list of things I could obess about over him grew exponentially. What is he doing? Where is he going? Who is he with now? Why did he leave me? Why didn’t he love me enough to fight for me? Why did he destroy our family? …and on and on and on, to infinity and beyond!

Why? Why? Why?

And almost always the thoughts centered on him! Not me! I was suffocating in the thoughts of him and completely ignoring me. At first I thought that thinking about him would help me. But it did not help me. It still doesn’t help me.

It is important to understand that obsessive thinking isn’t a pathological response to trauma. It is a normal response. Until you take steps to grapple with shattered assumptions and construct a story about the affair that makes sense to you, you will be prone to obsessing. In other words, obsessive thoughts may intrude throughout the process of recovery until healing is complete. But how do you heal from something that is so all encompassing and consuming?

A turning point in gaining control of my obsessive thoughts was when I was listening to a guided mediations, and the voice said, “focus goes, energy flows.” Later in the same meditation the same thought was reframed, “what you focus on grows.” A light bulb when on in my brain! I was allowing him to be the focus and center of my attention, and by doing so he was growing in power and energy in my mental and physical world. I decided then and there that this had to stop!

Energy flows where attention goes.

Compass with needle pointing the word vision with blur effect plus blue and black tones. Conceptual image for immustration of company or business anticipation or strategy

Later, in my healing journey a came across the idea that my thoughts create my reality. I became aware that what I was thinking about really had a tremendous impact on my outer world. Did I really want him and his betrayal of me to become the focus of my world. This thought process is what made me stop writing this blog as much. I knew I had to focus more on healing to be able to continue to help others heal. “Where focus goes, energy flows.”

I have to explain two things here before we begin;

  • This doesn’t mean you have to ignore all the hard emotions your are experiencing! In fact, it will be important for you to address them, so you can heal from them. I will talk about how to do that more in future posts.
  • Mastery of your thoughts takes time! So please be patient with the process. It takes a lot of work to master your mind! Do not think that you are a failure because it doesn’t happen overnight. Depending on how pervasive your trauma and abuse were, it could take years to overcome it. Don’t be discouraged by this, anything worthwhile takes practice. Healing from this is worthwhile! It will bless you and those around you for generations.

So lets get started!

Many traditional therapy modalities have great tools for overcoming obsessive thoughts, and I use, or have used, many of them. for example, journaling is very beneficial. There is much good that happens from putting all the thoughts you have down on paper, or in a blog, to get them from living in your head. Also, I loved the idea of giving myself permission to obsess for a determined amount of time, sort of like getting it out of my system! EMDR was also a lifesaver! I was so disturbed by what was going on in my inner world that I was willing to try anything to get some relief from my own mind! But in my healing journey I wanted to go deeper. I felt that I had only scratched the surface in healing with regular therapy. There had to be more! Enter energy healing

So to the list of traditional therapy tools for obsessive thought I add a few of my own;

  • Grounding – this is a great tool to get your thoughts out of your head and push all that energy down into your lower chakras, specifically the root and solar plexus, where it can be transformed into positive actions. When you take the time to ground, you will be better equiped to take action and complete tasks.
  • Get out in Nature – Along with grounding, there is something very healing about being out in nature! Take the time to just be outside. I have a patio surrounded by trees and bushes. I planted flowers in pots and it has really become a natural oasis. Sometimes I just like to sit out there and read book. (Reading is also a great way to redirect your thoughts!)
  • Meditation – Meditating is critical for developing healthier thought patterns! I meditate now for at least an hour a day. If I don’t meditate then I feel the difference. If I do mediate it helps everything else in my day go better. I have tried meditations apps that I love and work for me I like Insight Timer the best. I also use lots of free YouTube videos, here are some of the channels I subscribe to .
  • Prayer and Scripture Study – Also critical to controlling obsessive thoughts is connecting to God. It’s important to daily remind yourself what He thinks of you and wants for you in your life. There is a quote that fits perfectly to explain why this is important. “If you want to talk to God – pray, if you want God to talk to you – study your scriptures.” Nearly every single day I get an answer to an important question that I have been searching for, just by studying my scriptures.
  • Exercise – I’ve learned that there is no better way to get out of your head than to get physical. I am not a big exerciser. I don’t love it to be honest! But I have to do it, to stay in my own recovery. Everyone can find some way to physically release energy! In the process of healing I found that some of the Eastern exercise modalities where very beneficial to me and very doable. If you don’t love exercise then check into the more meditative forms of yoga, Tai Chi, and QiGong. Recently, I came across the videos of Misti Tripoli and her dance system called Body Groove. It’s exercise through dance! I used to love to dance in my life before marriage. So I thought I would go back to that time and renew an old love. This is a paid program, but you can find many free videos on YouTube to get you started. I have provided links to some of the videos I like. Even if you can’t exercise there are things you can do to get physcial. Some idea are; exercising from a chair, walking, or working with your hands in clay.
  • Affirmations – Change your thoughts, change your life! It is really true! Scripturally speaking “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” What do you think about? In the beginning of my trauma healing I would listen to affirmation videos on YouTube for hours on end. I just put my headphones in and listened while I went about my day. I listened in my car (Don’t mediate in the car while you are driving!) Affirmations are not mediations. These are positive thoughts that will help you reprogram your mind to think in a more affirmative way.
  • Gratitude – I must admit, I didn’t feel like I had much to be grateful for! The love of my life betrayed me and destroyed my family, it was hard to find gratitude! But then I learned about the energetic frequency of gratitude. It turns out that gratitude vibrates at about 900mhz and God is at 1000mhz. Gratitude is really, energetically speaking, the quickest way to get close to God, and I wanted to be close to Him more than anything. So, as the angels would have it, I found a gratitude practice. It literally fell in my lap! I know now that when things come to me, it is for a reason, so I set about doing a 28-day gratitude practice. It not only changes my thoughts, but also my outlook on life in general! Give it a try!

These are all tools that you can use for yourself without any special training. I used them when I was in the middle of my traumatic responses, I still use them today. You may find is that trauma changes you in profound ways. I cannot tell you how much it has changed me and my life! I have had to completely reinvent myself and my life, particularly how I do things on a daily basis. Many, if not most, of these tools I listed above I MUST do daily, or at a minimum, weekly to keep my mind in balance. It is imperative that you start a daily self-care routine and practice it just like you would practice as sport or musical instrument. I still have to quiet obsessive thoughts, not as much as I used to, on a regular basis. I had to come to terms with the idea that this may be my new normal. However, a life of meditation, grounding, scripture study, prayer, exercise and affirmations is not a bad thing! Being traumatized will change your life, whether those changes are for your healing or destruction is totally up to you!

Change your thoughts, Change your life!

If you find that these tools are not enough and you need more help ask to join my private facebook page Empowered Healing where I go over more in depth tools I use for healing.

Coming Soon! You can also book a session with me for one-on-one coaching. I never want you to feel like you have no place to go or no one to help you!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

The Cupcake Warrior

Becoming, Coping, Spiritual, 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?

prayer

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.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

abuse, betrayal, Coping, healing, My Story, PTSD, Self Care, Triggers

Anxiety and Panic

These last few weeks I have been experiencing an unusually high level of anxiety and panic. I am not sure why. I have spent a great deal of time in my head trying to figure it out. I am anxious about a lot of things. I have been for the past two years. That is one of the big things my Cheater took from me – peace of mind.

anxiety

I don’t know what will become of me. That is my biggest worry. Can I make it on my own? Will I heal? Am I always going to be broken? Can I ever be happy again? How do I find peace in my life when everything is in chaos? And then there is the financial piece. Don’t even get me started about how much this whole mess destroyed me financially. I. Worry. About. It. All. The. Time!

He took away my security, my hope, my peace, my joy, my safety. So much loss. And the infuriating thing about it is he does not care! 38 years of my life was devoted to this man, and he can destroy my life, walk away, and just not care. That is obvious from how he just remarried 5 months later. Is it proper to not spend even a minute mourning a 38 year marriage? I don’t know. Nothing he did, has done, or is doing makes any sense to me. But I digress.

He left me broken, shredded, and bleeding out. No wonder I am anxious and panicked. Who wouldn’t be?

My days are spent in panic. My nights are spent in panic.

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When morning comes and I wake up my first thought is – I am alone. Abandoned. Then the tears come. Every damn day I cry! When will it stop? I have started to try and negate some of this by dropping to my knees in prayer. Desperate prayer. Please God help me! I cry out to find the strength to make it through the day. Most days I feel abandoned, even by God. How long must this agony go on?

I feel like my legs and feet are encased in cement blocks. It makes it so terribly hard to make it through the day.

Then I spend an hour in scripture study. And I do mean study! This is the only hour of peace I have everyday. It’s the only time that my mind doesn’t wander. That I don’t wonder about – him.  When I study the scriptures I feel peace, comfort, safety. It makes so much difference I wish I could study all day. But I can’t.

The rest of my day is spent doing those things I must do interspersed with the things I need to do just to stay upright. I work at recovering from betrayal trauma all day! I work at it -HARD! It’s exhausting. Never ending. I resent needing to do this because of what someone else did to me. It isn’t fair. I did nothing to deserve this. But I am the one who has to work hard to fix it. He, of course, does nothing. Typical of a coward.

Here is what a “normal” day looks like for me:

  • Wake up in tears
  • Try to get out of bed, it usually takes me an hour
  • Take the dog out
  • I don’t eat because I am never hungry in the morning
  • Study the scriptures for an hour
  • Do my “dailies
  • Cry again
  • Then I am too exhausted to do anything else so I soak in the tub with epsom salts for 1-2 hours
  • Get dressed. By now it’s noon
  • Maybe I eat something and can hold it down without barfing
  • Take the dog for a walk and pick up the mail
  • Write in my journal
  • Cry some more
  • Attempt to do something productive, laundry, cleaning etc.
  • Start dinner
  • Eat dinner
  • Watch TV with my daughter while I dread going to bed
  • Go to bed and cry

Sounds great, doesn’t it? I’ve been reduced to barely existing.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong