Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just Be You, Flaws and All

I have to tell you that our Heavenly Father knows me. He is aware of my needs and blesses me often. I know this because of many witnesses in my life. One of the ways this is witnessed to me is through the people He has placed in my life. I am truly blessed with amazing friends and family that love me.

One of the most amazing women that He has placed in my life is H. Now, H. and I met at a book club we both belonged to over 10 years ago. We didn't know each other super well until she was pregnant with her last child. Heavenly Father prompted me to start calling her at least once a week and checking on her. It was through these phone calls that I came to know and love her. She is truly a gift to me. She has seen me at my very worst and she still loves me unconditionally. She loves me enough to laugh with me, cry with me, make fun of me when I fart in public, and most of all just be there for me when I have needed her.

I often feel like it is a very lopsided friendship. I feel like she gives me so much more than I ever give her. I am so grateful to her for her love and acceptance. She is truly one of the best people I have ever met. (Crap! I'm tearing up just writing about her. She is THAT important to me). I cannot imagine my life without her in it.

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks, because she shared with me a thought that really touched something deep inside of me. If you have read my last post you might be able to see why.

We were talking about being honest with our kids and open in talking with them. She recently found out some information that was hard to hear about her niece. She didn't try to hide it from her kids, she was open and honest and let them ask any questions they needed to. I so admire this openness, and it is something I am striving for with my own kids. I told her how much I admired this about her and how awesome I think she is for talking about hard things with her kids. She told me that she didn't get that awesome by luck, but by swimming through a sea of crap first (which is true, she has, but I forget those parts of her story because they aren't what defines her).  I reitereated to her how awesome she is, her reply was what I found so profound.

"...I'm also average in many ways and sub par in others and I accept that and try to be my best amazing/average self. I don't dwll on my failings anymore, but I also try not to deny them. They're all part of me and it's how I handle my weaknesses that matters - not that I have them."

See? Profound right? She is also kind, wise, beautiful inside and out and funny. She truly shines on the inside and out. She is also humble.

I would love to be able to have her perspective. To be able to see and acknowledge my flaws without letting them define me. I don't see her flaws, or if I do they don't really stand out to me the way her good qualities do. I want to learn to be like she is, confident yet always growing.

Heavenly Father truly IS aware of me and I am so grateful for this fact.

Broken and flawed but blessed none-the-less,


Monday, September 28, 2015

Owning Our Stories

I am sure many of you have heard of Brene Brown and her research on vulnerability, if not look her up, she is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! She researches about shame and vulnerability. Her work on being ourselves and loving ourselves is very powerful. She just gets what it is to be an emotionally healthy human being.

"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do." -Brene Brown from The Gifts of Imperfection

I have been working on owning my own story for quite sometime now. Learning how to share parts of myself and be vulnerable. I'm getting much better at that. The loving myself through the process is where I'm really struggling. I really do love the person I am inside. I feel beautiful inside most of the time. It's my outside that I struggle to not loathe, let alone love. That is a painful realization for me and one that I do not share easily. I have started seeing my LifeStar group leader for individual counseling recently and just told her how I felt. It was so incredibly hard to admit it out loud. I'm not sure I have ever actually admitted it to myself until just the last couple of weeks. It is painful to know that my outsides don't match my insides. I've really evaluated why I loathe my body because I have been trying to reconcile the hatred I have for it for the new found love I have of my spirit and gifts. It's very hard to reconcile the two because they cannot be reconciled. What I came to the conclusion of is that yes, I do hate the way I look, but if that's all it was I think I could find a way to love myself in spite of it. I hate the fact that I feel like I have betrayed my health and body and that in turn now it is betraying me. I hate that I can't do the things I want to do because of my weight and health issues. I hate that I can't keep up with my family and friends. I hate that I can't ride roller coasters because I can't fit in the safety belts (yes, I know this for a fact because twice in the last year and a half I have tried and felt utter shame and humiliation at not being able to ride because I wouldn't fit). Even writing this is causing me so much shame and anxiety.

I have fought long and hard to believe that B.'s pornography addiction was not because of me. I used to always think, if only I was skinnier, if only I was more beautiful. I could've if only'd myself forever and it would only have caused me more shame. I do not believe that because I am obese and unhealthy that B. turns to porn. That is not something I will own anymore. His addiction is all about his mismanagement of his emotions and not how I look, act, behave, will or won't do. I still have to occasionally remind myself of these facts, but I now wholeheartedly believe them, before they were just empty words I was supposed to believe.

I want to lay out a disclaimer here though, I want to lose weight, badly. I can understand my husband's feelings of hopelessness surrounding his addiction. I feel hopeless a lot of the time about ever improving my body. The second part of the disclaimer is that I don't want to lose weight to get to be a certain weight or size. I have no intention of looking like today's underweight, big chested specimen that seems to be what is desirable. I want to lose weight to be healthy. I want to lose weight to be able to enjoy a long and active life. I want to be able to enjoy spending time actively and not feel like it is a monumental effort. I don't have unrealistic expectations or a certain end weight or size in mind. I just want to not loathe my body.

This is not at all where I planned this post to go, but apparently it's where I needed it to go. I hope by being vulnerable I can open some eyes and hearts. I hope those eyes and hearts include mine.

Owning my story,


Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Togetherness Project Conference

For me the biggest part of my recovery that that truly set me on the path to healing is knowing I am not alone. I felt alone for so many years. I felt like there was this whole part of my life that I couldn't talk to anyone about, including God. I felt disconnected from Him and from everyone because I was hiding. When I was finally able to connect with others that DO understand and love me anyway, it was like this huge burden was lifted off my shoulders.

One of the places I was able to feel a big part of that burden lifted is at The Togetherness Project Conference last April. It was such an amazing conference where I was able to bond, heal, grow and learn. I have had to make the very hard decision not to go this time, but I hope some of you can and are going. It will be so very amazing.

You guys do not miss out on this amazing opportunity if you can help it. You will be amazed at the amount of healing and love happens. It's such a work of tireless dedication and love that the board puts into putting on the conference. Last year it sold out!

What do you get with your conference registration and how do you register?

Registration includes: 
  • A day of healing and connection with other women who, just like you, have found themselves searching for empathy and understanding
  • Six breakout sessions led by an amazing lineup of presenters and therapists
  • Inspiring keynote speakers
  • Lunch and dinner



Sunday, September 13, 2015

Just Because It Brings Someone You Love Joy

Sundays are HARD at our house. Satan works so very hard on our family on Sundays. He works on each one of us in significant ways. He is trying so hard to pull us apart. I want to scream and rage at Satan, I want to punch him in the nose and say "Stay the hell away from my family!" See, he knows how to get me.

Part of the reason that Sundays are so hard is because it is the one day a week that we usually have a significant amount of time to spend together and we can rarely agree on how to spend it. I would be happy doing about anything if we were doing it together and really striving to enjoy it. That just never seems to happen. I often want to spend the day inside watching corny Hallmark type movies and playing games. B often wants to go out and go for a walk or hike or drive. The kids each have their own ideas of what would be fun that seem to clash with ours. B has told me several times recently that I try to force the issue of family time, that I try too hard. Maybe I do, I don't know. I just really really really want us to spend quality time together enjoying each other's company. I don't want to compromise on that, but either we are all miserable doing something together or I let everyone do their own thing. Either way I feel like I am fighting an unwinnable battle. Why should it even have to be a battle? Why can't I expect my family to be able to enjoy spending time just being together? It just seems like a half an hour or an hour and we're done, that's all we have to give to each other. Frankly, it scares me more than I want to think about. What if we can never heal our broken family?

I have learned recently that I can have an opinion and desires that are opposite those I love and it doesn't mean they won't love me. Well, I'm working on learning that anyway. However, something I have known my whole life is that I don't have to be doing something I like to do in order to have fun. I can be doing something that I really don't like doing and still have an incredible time. Why? Sometimes I do things I don't want to do just because it brings joy to someone I love. Is that wrong? Is it too much to ask of my family? I don't know. It seems that often times on Sunday it is.

All I want right now, from my family, is for us all to think of ourselves a little less and the rest of the family a little more. That doesn't mean we have to neglect our own needs and time and sacrifice our self-care. It just means that sometimes we do things just because it will bring someone we love joy.

Praying for joy,


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Redeeming Hearts Retreat

I have had the title written for this post for months, wanting to write it but being held back by my own fear. Fear of not writing the truth, fear of hurting other's feelings, fear that I might not get another opportunity to go to a retreat like this and fear that I will. I finally decided to face my fears head-on. This is so scary for me, because my biggest fear in life is saying or doing something to make others not like me. I am so very afraid that I will be disliked (even by people I don't like) that I often don't reveal how I really feel. Hell, I sometimes don't know how I really feel because I don't want it to be contrary to what someone wants me to feel. Wow...some of you just labeled me codependent didn't you? Please don't. That's a whole other post, let's get back to the post I started.

I was so blessed to be able to attend the Redeeming Hearts Retreat that was hosted by Harriet at A Wife Redeemed. It was back in the spring, and I have wanted to write this post since then and just haven't been able to. The retreat was AMAZING. We learned, we laughed, we grew, we ate amazing and healthy meals, we bonded, we meditated and we celebrated our sisterhood. Harriet planned an amazing weekend for us and graciously hosted us. I love the women that attended. I love the weekend away. It was beautiful and fabulous. I just didn't get as much healing out of it that I wanted to. This has nothing to do with Harriet, the retreat, or the women there. It has 100% of everything to do with me.

I went up there nervous and scared. I was nervous for several reasons, not the least of which was not fitting in the seat belt on the airplane. This may not be a fear most of you relate to, but it's a real fear of mine (on the way home I swallowed my pride and didn't try and squish into the seat belt, I asked for the extender...hmmmmm...maybe more healing happened than I realized). I was so scared of not being liked or accepted by the women there. It is a completely unfounded fear. They were amazing. They embraced me and included me and never once made me feel less than. Those feelings are all in my head. I was afraid of being embarrassed because I had to pack a giant size suitcase for one weekend because my clothes are big sized they take up more room and because I have to use a CPAP to sleep at night, so I had to pack that. I am fighting tears as I write this because I am realizing two things...#1 I have wasted so much of my life being afraid and #2 I don't have to be afraid, because I am wonderful. I don't always believe that I am wonderful, but today I do. Wow, I think I wrote this post at just the right time, I'm not sure I could've admitted or understood some of these truths in the spring.

Let me tell you a little bit more about the actual retreat, because if you get the chance to go you should. It was AMAZING! First off I have to tell you about the amazing friend that I went to the retreat with. You know her as Eagle Wings from her story on A Wife Redeemed, but I just know her as my friend. She is so amazingly supportive. She reached out to me early on last year when I was first starting to look for support. She has given her time and her love to me in ways that she doesn't even realize. I told her of my fear about the airplane seat belt when we were getting ready to leave, and she helped me through it. She doesn't give herself enough credit, but she really is an amazing person.

When we arrived we were picked up by two other WOPAs attending the retreat and we stopped to pick up snacks to share. It was as if I had known these women forever. There is a bond between WOPAs that doesn't even need to be spoken. We just understand each other. We understand on a level that isn't spoken and doesn't need to be. We arrived at Harriet's home and were greeted warmly and got settled in. She is such an amazing hostess. We had dinner and we had a guided meditation with a therapist. We visited and laughed. I know I am going to confuse the timeline, so I will just tell you about the activities. We watched a movie, had a class on essential oils and their emotional healing properties (I learned that I hate lavender because I need it...this is truth and I am learning to like it). We performed a kundalini yoga healing circle that was so powerful. We shared our stories. We ate delicious food. We played games. We went on walks. We journaled. We broke pots and put them back together again. We laughed. Basically we grew in ways that may not have been obvious at the time and made friends that will be friends for years to come.

I didn't realize until I wrote this post how much healing really did happen for me that weekend. I learned so much about myself and my insecurities. I learned about my own fears and how they are just that, mine. I hope that any betrayed spouse is able to attend an event like this (and if you can attend this one, I would highly recommend it). There is so much healing that comes from knowing you aren't alone. You are part of a club, one you never wanted to belong to, and one that accepts you wholeheartedly, flaws and all. I am learning to lean into my fears, but I have a lot of demons still to face. I am blessed to not have to face them alone though. I have my Heavenly Father and a WOPA army behind me.

A little less afraid,


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tender Mercies

Today was a day filled with tender mercies. It was a day where I was reminded again and again that my Heavenly Father is watching out for me. I felt His presence very keenly today.

I haven't had individual therapy for almost a month because my therapist had a baby. Today I was able to get in for a session with the therapist that runs my LifeStar group. It was a blessing. She knows enough of my story that it wasn't a full first time assessment, she let me lead where we went and what we talked about. On my way to the session I was pondering what I wanted to talk about, and some of my history was on my mind. I felt prompted to share that with her. She gave me some insight about things I had never thought about and I felt a few pieces of the puzzle click into place that hadn't fit quite right before. It was enlightening. That was a tender mercy.

Towards the end of our session she said a couple of things to me that I really needed to hear. She told me that about 15 minutes into our session two things really struck her that she felt she needed to share. The first was her observation. when I was talking, about what a lovely person I am, how lovely my spirit is and what a beautiful woman I am. I could feel the sincerity radiating in those affirmations. I felt how genuine it was and it thawed a piece of my heart. It's been a long time since I felt that kind of a sincere compliment. The second thing she shared with me she told me came from the Spirit (of note, she is not affiliated with LDS Family Services but is a private practice therapist). She said that she had the distinct impression that my ancestors are surrounding me, fighting with me, supporting me, even the ones that I have no knowledge of. She said that even though there are a lot of my ancestors that I know nothing of, that they know me and are there supporting me. I was heartened and buoyed by this. My grandma is my safe person, always has been and I have felt her presence many times through this journey. When my therapist said this to me, I could feel the support of many. This was a tender mercy.

When I got to my car, I needed a few minutes to cry. There was just so many powerful emotions fighting for my attention that I couldn't hold them all and they spilled down my cheeks. I didn't feel ready to come home. I needed some time for me, some time to process and to talk to my Heavenly Father. He guided me to the Temple Visitor's Center. I walked around for a few minutes until I came to the display of televisions that play short videos and commercials about families. Here I stopped. I watched some of the videos, but it was the television commercials that really grabbed me. I watched every one of them, all told maybe 8 of them, so it was just a few minutes of my time. The messages they shared were simple, but He knew that they were just what I needed to hear today. The simplicity of the messages was just what I needed to ground myself and sort through the turmoil. This was a tender mercy.

I still refuse to be grateful for this trial, but I am so grateful for the person I am being refined into. This refiner's fire is fierce, but I am becoming strong and whole because of it. This is a tender mercy.

My wish tonight, is for all who read this to feel the tender mercies in their own life. I pray every day for all those suffering this trial that they may find peace and healing through God. I pray that we will all be able to find joy again and that we will be stronger for having walked this road.