Sunday, December 29, 2013

Quick lil recap

I know that I haven't posted in far too long.  Suffice to say, it has been an up and down few months....pretty standard for life I think.  I did relapse for a bit I think but I was able to find support again and all is well.  Satan tried to get into my head and make me feel helpless, but I knew that wasn't true.  I know I'm not broken.  I know I'm not beyond help.  I know he just wants me to think that way.  My coach basically stopped coaching and my challenge group had ended and I felt like I was trying to coach some others while I was in desperate need of saving myself.  You can't help others and save others until you've helped yourself.

All is well now.

In fact, I'm pretty darn excited for 2014.

I'm starting up P90X3 and I'm beyond stoked to do this (30 minute) program and to complete it.  I have missed the structure of a program laid out for me.  I could have done better and stuck to another actual schedule after finishing ChaLean, but I used my triathlon training as an excuse.  (Oh yah.... I need to post about THAT.... I finished IronGirl!!!!!!!!!!).  In any case, it's going to be awesome and I'm ready to bring it.

I did the following post on FB tonight and felt it would be nice to just have the little recap here as well:
I wrote this in Feb: "Maybe these lousy results will help me be more focused and motivated with the prospect of being in a swimsuit at the end of this next month. It's either that or I feel it's pointless and doing no good and I should accept this really is the 'new me' from now on (these are the mind battles I have with myself). It occurs to me that this is how an addict feels- that their efforts are pointless, that they are defective human beings, that they can have a little bit of leeway and it won't make a big difference but they get upset when it adds up and does."

Then this at the end of April: "Today was the first day of the new challenge group I committed to participating in. It will be really great to have the accountability of a group to report to each and every day. I can't tell you how positive I feel about this...about it being 'right' for me...about having all the tools I need to have this be 'it' and the last time. "

I posted this in May:

Wrote this in June: "There is a mental power to feeling physically strong... especially when you feel like people look at you and see someone who is weak. Do you do that when you see someone who is overweight? You don't know what's really in there. "

I wrote this to myself in August: "These things do not define you, and yet they are you. Being a new and better person doesn't mean that you were a bad person before. It doesn't invalidate or lessen the worth of your self at any given stage in your life. You are simply at a different point in your life now. You are here because of what you've been through but you might have been here even without them. You might not be here without them. You could be in a different place, a much worse place, because of all this. You needn't feel bad. You are strong. You are a survivor. You have hurt and you have tried to take care of yourself and you have tried to protect yourself...all the best you could and the best you knew how with what you had at the time. You really did try your best with what you had and what you understood and where you were in your life."

and this: "I feel so empowered when I think of this. I think how just such a short time ago I was acting upon just a glimpse of a desire. I wasn't sure that this Beachbody thing would work but I had a small enough desire to give it a change. I was afraid of admitting to and facing an eating disorder, but I had just a glimmer of a hope that the change I saw in my husband could happen with me.

I haven't lost a ton of weight and yet I am finally able to envision that other me. The fit and healthy and unstoppable me. I see her again. I couldn't find her for a long time. I don't feel that it's like I'm some suddenly different person. I see it more as having been in a place of light for so long that my eyes had adjusted and I didn't see just how much brighter it could be.....I didn't realize not all the lights were on, until they were on. It's tasting that delicious fruit of the tree of life and wanting to share it with others because you didn't realize how much you were missing out on."

and I haven't really written on my blog since.... BUT I feel EXACTLY THAT WAY there at the end still. THAT's how I know this works and is going to keep on working. THAT'S why I am doing what I am doing.

You know what's funny? At a friend's suggestion, I started trying to come up with a single word to be my focus for the year. This year the word I chose was NOURISH. Man, I had no idea where that would take me. So awesome!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sexual Abuse signs and symptoms

I was looking for some information I wanted to share with someone when I came upon this.  I am grateful that someone took the time to type up this information from our SOLE handbook.  I wanted to save it here so I didn't lose it and so others might be informed if they needed this information.

Sexual Abuse- Adult 
I. Most victims of sexual abuse suffer as children or youth tend to react in one or more of the following ways:

Feel guilty and almost totally responsible for having been a victim.
Feel isolated from their family and peers.
Have held it inside and told no one or only a very few people.
Have become confused about their identity and goals in life.
Have been depressed for a long time and don't understand why.
Are plagued by many fears, especially about men.
May have turned to intellectual, religious, or other pursuits to escape or cope with life.
May have been promiscuous at some time in their life.
May have thought extensively about suicide or may even have attempted it.
Have not been able to separate their responsibility from the perpetrator's responsibility.
May have run away from home, gotten married early, or have been involved in drugs, etc. feeling this is to be their "only way out".
Crave love and affection from a father figure.
Have become bitter, angry, and resentful towards Church leaders, other male authority figures, even God- or may have gone in the opposite direction.
May have developed multiple health problems.
Have become a frustrated, unhappy, depressed housewife with sexual problems in marriage.
Have become a vulnerable target for someone else to abuse, such as a spouse, or other males.
Developed a hysterical approach to life and situations.

II. Most Adult Victims Feel:

Confused about identity, angry at self and others, guilty about everything they have ever done, thought or had done to them.
They can't separate what's been done to them and what they've done.
Afraid of men, doesn't trust other woman.
Frustrated and confused about life and goals.
Depressed but doesn't know exactly why.
Doesn't trust own judgement.
The world would be better off without me.
Hurts all the time- exhausted.
Can't keep up with everyone else.
Everyone is looking at me and can see right through me.

III. Most Adult Victims:

Can't make decisions.
Allow others to abuse them further.
Always take the blame, accept guilt.
Try to be "Patty Perfect".
Have sexual problems in marriage- frigid, disinterested, or over interested in sex.
Seeks affection inappropriately.
Have many health problems.
Afraid to let men in close.
Cranky, angry, abusive, afraid.
Repulsed by sexual activity.
Very active in Church.
Very compassionate with other people.
Service does not build self-esteem.
Can't accept compliments.
Able to sacrifice anything for kids or husband- yet won't take time for self.
Husband may be non-supportive or self-centered.

IV. Symptoms:

Many of the symptoms are similar to adolescence.
Usually behave in a dependent helpless manner when it comes to solving every day problems.
Feels victimized by normal life happenings.
Sees the world as fear-filled.
Has many exaggerated fears.
Anger and fear towards men.
Many can't remember the good times of childhood- some even block out all childhood memories.
Anger towards mothers for not protecting them from abuse.

V. Indicators of Sexual Abuse as Adult Women for Priesthood Leaders:

Overwhelmed continuously by family responsibilities- stress overload.
Depression (deep and/or excessive).
Guilt (for everything).
Doesn't feel loved.
Feels scriptures apply not to self but to others (those pertaining to forgiveness and love).
Feels scriptures (negative) apply to self (those pertaining to repentance, Heavenly Father's disappointment, etc.).
Difficulty in communication.
Constant need for approval.
Any rejection can be devastating.
Chronic physical ailments.
Very Emotional.
Lack of self-esteem.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I need YOUR help

First.... I've been slacking.  I lost my mojo.  I blame end of summer.  I'm just over it.  I'm ready for the kids to go to school and stop picking on each other.  I'm ready for routine.  I'm ready for fall temperatures.  I'm ready for holiday fun.  I'm sure my tune will change in a month when I'm overloaded with homework help and juggling roles.  ;)  I also realized I let my mojo go.  I slacked on my personal development and self-care.  Then I let myself slack some more.  No fear...I'm bringing it back though.  I have been spending the last week or so organizing like crazy and cleaning out junk and just getting things in order around my house.  Things I've wanted to get done for a while I have gotten done or am in the process of.  I feel like those are important for my success as well.

That's not the reason for this post though.

I was approached by a member of my bishopric recently and he asked me for information on the addiction recovery program.  I realize how very blessed I am that when we were dealing with DH's addiction we were in a ward with a bishop who knew about the program and who 'got it'.  Newer bishops especially just frequently aren't trained in it.  Even when I met with my bishop currently to air out some 'step 4' stuff, he needed me to explain to him what step 4 was.  Any of you in the ARP world know what that means.  So how can we remedy this?  There needs to be more education.  You and I can start in our little circles and create a ripple effect.  Help me in mine.  Send me your 'Dear Bishop' letters.  I know the bishopric members are so busy and overwhelmed.  They don't have time to read the "He Restoreth My Soul" and countless other books that will really help them understand addiction.  They don't have time to regularly attend ARP meetings to get a feel for what they are like and how they change people's lives.  So how can we make a concise explanation for them in a way to make it possible for others to become more aware of the tools and resources available to them?  

The best way that I know to explain the 12 step program provided by the church, especially the Healing Through Christ manual that we used as part of our PASG group, is that it is a step by step practical application of Gospel principles.  It is making the Atonement personal and creating a relationship with Christ that you didn't even realize you were missing out on.  It is making the Atonement a healing balm, not just a relief from sin.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In defense of my former self

Dear Self;

You lived a life that many didn't see.  One that even you didn't fully come to terms with and allow yourself to see until you were almost 30.  It's time to let it all out and see that it is okay.  Everyone has baggage.  Everyone has skeletons in the closet.  Some have more than others.  That's okay.  It doesn't mean you were bad or deserved any less.  It doesn't meant that you had to learn lessons the hard way or that you were a tool being used by God to learn a lesson you could share with others.  You suffered the consequences of other's agency for many years and didn't realize that's all it was.  You took it out on God, not fully trusting Him, because you thought He was using you.  You were happy to submit to Him.  At least He loved you.  You wanted to do good and be good and so you willingly became His martyr, His victim, His tool to help others because you knew that you would share and be empathetic...because that's who you are.  This was the only reality you knew.  This was how you understood things and thus how you lived your life for decades.  You know what? It's okay.

You were molested.  More than once.  By different people.  They told you that 'you asked for it' and 'deserved it.'

You were forced to watch explicit pornography as a kindergartner by your friend's dad.  The same friend who you used to have sleepovers with and where you developed a nervousness for sleeping with the door closed and waiting for someone to come in.  The same one you would hide in the berry bush with.

You grieved the sudden loss of your grandma that you adored when you were in 6th grade.
You didn't understand how to process the pain.  You didn't want to be sad because you didn't want to make your mom sad and have her hurt more.
Two years later you grieved the sudden loss of a boy you had a crush on that lived near you and rode the bus with you.  You were confused why you hurt so much again.  You were tired of feeling like an inconvenience to those who were supposed to love you unconditionally and tired of feeling like something to be used by everyone else.  You took more pills than you were supposed to of a drug that you reacted badly to in a half-hearted attempt to end your life so you could be with your grandma in a happy place again.  Your friend, bless her heart, told on you and dragged you to the school psychologist...who told on you to your mom....who thankfully wasn't mad or even overly sad.
Two years later you grieved the loss of another schoolmate in an accident you saw from your house.

Two years later, you buried your mom a month after graduating high school.
You wondered what lesson it was that you were missing that you kept losing all these people in your life.

You were nearly raped.  You still aren't sure how you got out of that, only that you remember the boy's friend watching and laughing and the boy saying "this is what you came here for anyway isn't it?" and you thought it was punishment for lying to your parents about where you were going.  You thought maybe this was just how boys showed they like you and maybe you should just learn to like it.  Except that other boy standing there laughing was a big red flag and you somehow came to your senses and got out.

You spent many years having dreams that haunted you and made you feel dirty and guilty.  They were out of your control but they controlled how you felt. It wasn't until your late teens that you recognized it was a replaying of those scenes you saw as a kindergartner.  It wasn't until your late 20s that you understood it wasn't your fault.

After your mom died, you had night terrors where you dreamed you or some other family member killed her.  Your brother accused you of causing her brain aneurysm because the day before you had pulled her over in a low-lying lawnchair as part of a family joke and she hit her head.  You wondered if he was right.  You wondered if other people thought the same.  Even after 2 neurologists told you it was a ticking time bomb and your actions wouldn't have set it off any sooner.  You wondered if she 'left' because you told her in the hospital that day (not that you even know if she could hear you) that you understood she missed her mom and you would take care of things on this end so she could go and that you'd understand and it would be okay. Would she have stayed if you had been more willing to fight?

Your dad didn't talk to you for years because he was upset that you said he didn't love you in an upset middle-schooler fight.  He thought you owed him an apology for your disrespect.  You thought he was just confirming your accusations and should try to make you feel loved.  You were a middle-schooler after all.

The boys in 5th grade made fun of you during the pledge of allegiance, saying you were grabbing yourself because you were already developing.

The boys in 8th grade cat-called you if you ever wore a skirt or low-cut shirt.  It made you feel important.

The boys in high school apparently said you were an amazing kisser and talked about you.  So you found out later from a friend who had kissed you, and then told you that was why.

You caught your 2 best friends in high school trying on your (size 9) pants and dancing around laughing at your 'clown pants'.

You overheard your parents fighting about you being in summer school PE, which you thought was just so you would be able to take art class during the school year instead, and there being ice cream in the house.  You heard your dad liken you to a whale and say that the ice cream shouldn't be around.
In your anger and hurt, you called a friend and decided to try pot to see what all the fuss was about and to really piss him off like he had hurt you.  It was a one-day, one-experience kind of thing but the effect was that he again no longer spoke to you except during choir practice- because he was the choir director and you were the pianist....even though that was the only time he went to church, or at least anything more than the occasional Sacrament meeting.

In high school, you got a concussion so bad that you couldn't remember how to do simple math and couldn't read a page in a book without falling asleep.

You saw your best friend get attacked by a dog right next to you when you were 4 years old.  You felt bad that it was her and not you because you didn't want her to hurt like that.

People told you that you shouldn't be sad.  People told you that you were being a victim and should stop.  People told you that it was all your fault.  You didn't even know you were sad. You didn't even recognize the pattern of victimization.  You thought it was your fault.

It wasn't true.

Self, you were victimized.  You were used by others and not by God.  You had hard things in your life.  More than many can understand in such a short time.  It doesn't mean you were deserving of those things.  It doesn't make you special.  It means you were strong.  You survived.  You, and God, have turned these things for your good.

These things do not define you, and yet they are you.  Being a new and better person doesn't mean that you were a bad person before.  It doesn't invalidate or lessen the worth of your self at any given stage in your life.  You are simply at a different point in your life now.  You are here because of what you've been through but you might have been here even without them.  You might not be here without them.  You could be in a different place, a much worse place, because of all this.  You needn't feel bad.  You are strong.  You are a survivor.  You have hurt and you have tried to take care of yourself and you have tried to protect yourself...all the best you could and the best you knew how with what you had at the time.  You really did try your best with what you had and what you understood and where you were in your life.

I know, because I am you.
And it's okay.

Don't worry about what other's judgments have been or what they may be.  Don't worry about those who've been unkind.  Don't wish these things on them either.  Don't think you willingly took these things upon yourself so that you would learn or so that you would get others to feel sorry for you in an attempt to feel loved.  No, that's not the way.  You've let it go and given it over.  You are a new person but loving yourself now doesn't mean not loving yourself then.  There is someone who gets that, and in the end He is all that matters.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

a little history lesson

I've been contacted recently by a few people who have wanted some more background on my relationship with my husband and the struggles we have gone through.  There is some of it on this blog in further years back, but I realize not everyone reads older posts and even still there are a lot of holes there because I wasn't writing regularly at the time.

Although this happened a few years ago and although some of you may know some who are involved, I am sharing it out of a greater concern for those who I know need to hear this.  Those who know my husband and his family, I trust to respect the privacy of those involved and to withhold judgement.  This is the story of 'the situation' (as referenced in earlier posts) as I have told it to some recently.  This was a major turning point and I feel that all of us involved have improved and found blessings since:

The Situation
AKA When I got my impression that divorce was okay

First, you have to know the background....The nature of living in Las Vegas and being in the air conditioning industry means sometimes early mornings and late hours, especially during the summertime. So sometimes he'd tell me he was going to be home late or sometimes he'd go in early to unload a truck or get some things done before things got crazy once they opened.

Well, it turns out that's where he was 'using'. My husband is different than most in that his primary porn source is actually literature. That's a whole lot harder to block with a filter. It's also a lot easier to disguise at work. It isn't that the pictures don't do it for him or that he never looks at them...but it is something about the living vicariously through the stories....

So at the warehouse my kids sometimes run around and dad gives them rides on the forklift and that sort of thing. I don't recall how far into the whole recovery thing we were when I was walking around the warehouse while my boys played and came upon a sort of desk area that the warehouse workers (2 guys that he is over) had set up. There was a desk covered in pictures. Not the worst I've seen but the kind you'd find in GQ or Maxim.

To say I was livid would be an understatement. Here he was telling me he was doing so good, going to recovery meetings, trying his best....and there is THIS at work? And I'm supposed to believe him?! How is he EVER supposed to be ok while that is there? Why is he, or his dad or ANY of the other LDS guys he works with okay with letting that be there? How do they expect the business to be successful (economy hasn't been so great here) and have the blessing of Heavenly Father while they allow THAT? How did he expect to build any kind of trust?
And my son, who was turning 8 in a few months, had seen it all. So I was doubly livid.
Pretty sure I kicked him out again at that point. I could go ask him but he'd probably say "I try to block all that out of my mind."
This caused me major trouble. On the one hand I felt like he was doing well and he was choosing to go to meetings, saying how they help, doing steps and making personal changes I could see. On the other it felt like asking an alcoholic to work in a bar.

I felt like every day was this battle with Satan in my head. Like a full blown exhausting war was being waged within me and I hated it.
So he promised me that this desk will be gone. For weeks and months he tells me he has bugged this person or that person about needing to get rid of it. One person or another claims that they will but then they don't do anything. At that point he's still dealing with being major shame-based so he is having a hard time with how to say what but I say 'too bad, you better figure it out.' How was I supposed to believe that he was even saying anything to anyone anyway?
I kept trying to put my foot down, and being a situation involving others I didn't know at what point to draw what line. I had already drawn a boundary that no early or late hours or after hours weekend calls would be allowed and I was immensely grateful for the support received on that and lack of any fighting back about it.  The company was moving their warehouse and he assured me that he was assured by the guys that the desk would not be making the move. So I opted to wait and see. He told me after the move that he was so mad at them because there it was and he was upset that he wasn't respected (which has been his issue at work and part of his background with his addiction) and nobody would take him seriously etc. I didn't know whether to believe and trust that he was genuinely as upset by this as I, or if he was trying to cover his tracks because he knew I'd look for it as soon as I visited him at work.
I continued to let it go for a little while after it but it was a serious thorn in my side and I needed it out. After praying I finally I needed to take matters into my own hands. I might not have any right to do anything at his place of employment, but I do have the right to say something to his boss if his boss is his father and I wasn't okay with letting that stay there. So I wrote a letter to both of his parents. I explained to them what he had told me of his version of the story, and my feelings about it. I told them how he needed to feel that he was supported by his family and that this was a way that could be done. Then I told them my feelings- that I was prepared to give him an ultimatum: me, the job, or the desk - and that I hoped that as his parents they would not want him to be in that position and that I did not want to have to find out the answer.

His dad got rid of the desk and my husband was FURIOUS with me. Seriously, I have seen him mad at other people but I have never seen him mad at me like that- before or since. He felt I went behind his back and was completely out of line. I refused to apologize. He quit talking to me. Of course this only fanned flames of doubt in my mind. If he was really making good choices then why would he react in such a way?That was when I went to the temple out of desperation because I was so confused about how to act, react, interpret...everything. I got a very distinct impression that I had 'done my part' finally- made every sacrifice possible to show my personal humility and willingness to put things in the Lord's hands and stood up for what was right...and that if I did not see changes in DH it would be okay to get a divorce because the Lord said I had made every effort on my end.
I was shocked, scared, and relieved to get that impression. And it sent me into a tailspin where I gained 10 lbs in less than a month but that's a different story.

What's interesting though is that the very next week we went to the counselor together. I told him about the feeling I got at the temple. He finally talked about how my actions with the letter made him feel. We still didn't come to an agreement but it was as though my eyes were suddenly opened and I could see the broken man that he was who was just trying to do his best. It wasn't good enough in my book but it was all he had at that point in time. And that is why we are not divorced. I needed to be willing to completely give it all over (in my tailspin I had to finally reach the point where I accepted and acknowledged that inspiration and felt truly willing to take that next step even with all the fears and uncertainty- and judgement from others- that would come with it) I think now that I needed the Lord's validation of my feelings and path in the prompting I got at the temple. Feeling that validation scared me to death (like I was afraid of my own power or control of the situation) but led me to self-examination that led me to humility that allowed my eyes to be more fully opened

^THAT actually was the point at which I realized *I* had a problem. It makes me sad that it wasn't enough for me to change then but I accept now that it was and is a process. There have been bumps along the road for me personally since that time and I needed those experiences to teach me to help shape me to who I am now.
Something interesting that I learned is that we sometimes 'pad' ourselves. Quite frequently those who have eating disorders (on both ends of the spectrum) are unconsciously (or even consciously) trying to make themselves 'disappear'. The anorexic wants to become so small that she isn't noticed so nobody thinks to hurt her. The overweight wants to become undesirable so that nobody hurts or uses her anymore. I would add that the married to a porn addict or struggling with a marriage wants to make herself undesirable to her husband so that she doesn't have to deal with his advances while trying to detach or while trying to figure things out. OR she wants to 'feel stuck' as though no one else would want her because she feels like damaged goods or feels afraid of her own empowerment. Those are all feelings that I have felt.

90 Day Results

I finished ChaLean Extreme and I won the challenge group I had been participating in that just ended (I'm in another one now and doing Les Mills Combat).

My results?  Not a lot of weight lost.  A lot of inches shed.  17+ in fact.  Dropped about 5% body fat as well.

More than that?  The confidence that comes from sticking to something through the end.  The ability to see a new me in the future again.  A belief in self.  No more inflammation.  Improved allergies and reflux.  Glowing skin.  Stronger hair and nails.  I think I might be able to beat someone at arm wrestling.  A great group of wonderful, supportive women who don't judge me because they realize we are all on the same journey in one way or another.  Better habits.  WAY fewer cravings that have made it easier to make good choices and conquer an addiction because my agency is being restored and I have the support I need- emotionally and physically.  A sense of purpose and a feeling of gratitude for a way that this weakness and challenge in my life can be turned for the better.  Joy from helping others make changes as well and motivation from them as they become my supporters too.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

dreaming big

A year ago my husband and I had this dream.  We decided to open up a shop on Etsy as a way to hopefully pay for our hobbies and, if we were lucky, maybe even earn some extra money for Christmas and paying off debt and fun stuff etc.  See, DH had gotten into woodworking as an alternative healthy habit instead of turning to his pornography addiction.  It was a healthy outlet and he found he was actually pretty good at it.  He always thought of me as the creative one in the family (since I've been involved with art since my elementary school days) but now he was finding he was good at this and it provided him immense satisfaction and joy to make things for other people that they found joy and appreciation is.  All our tools have been hand-me-downs though so we hoped that we could at least earn enough money to be able to buy him some better tools and to fund his doing this hobby just for fun.  Same with me and doing art.  It's a difficult thing when you know that there is a healthy and useful outlet and even a talent you've been given that you long to improve and share with others...but you feel guilty because there is an associated cost to it and money is tight and the kids come first.  You know.  Anyway, so we started an Etsy shop and a FB page for it a few months later, for those reasons.
I haven't thought much of where we wanted to take this until recently when goals and aspirations have been on my mind a lot more.  It has always been our hope to at the very least be able to utilize it to come up with extra cash for Christmas and family vacations.  I am happy to say that we were able to do both this last year.  It was a tremendous, and miraculous, blessing.  Additionally, even being able to do this- to have this shop up and running- is a direct results of having lost our home, of my husband's addiction recovery, of many trials that have now been turned for our good.  Our new home has a extra room off the garage that is perfect for him.  There was a girls' camp fundraiser shortly after we moved in that gave him the idea to try making a few things to donate.  Those were so well-received that it gave him the confidence and encouragement to make that next step.  See how the Lord works?  He is amazing.

So the Heavens have opened lately.  That is how I feel.  I feel overwhelmed and blown away at how blessed we are.  I believe wholeheartedly that my Heavenly Father has been wanting to bless our lives but that because He too is also bound by law, He has been unable to do so to the extent He has desired so long as we were still in addiction.  As we have worked to improve our relationship with Him, to more fully turn our lives over to Him, to do the hard work of facing our weaknesses and trying to make them our strengths....He blesses us!  He blesses us so much!  I feel like I am still so far from perfect- like in the simple stuff of daily scripture study and prayer every single day- and yet He blesses me!  All I can figure is that He knows where my heart is and he wants me to run to Him.  He wants to show me that He really is there, He really does love me in all my imperfectness, and He really does want awesome things for me and is willing to help me have those if I am willing to work.

I feel so empowered when I think of this.  I think how just such a short time ago I was acting upon just a glimpse of a desire.  I wasn't sure that this Beachbody thing would work but I had a small enough desire to give it a change.  I was afraid of admitting to and facing an eating disorder, but I had just a glimmer of a hope that the change I saw in my husband could happen with me.

I haven't lost a ton of weight and yet I am finally able to envision that other me.  The fit and healthy and unstoppable me.  I see her again.  I couldn't find her for a long time.  I don't feel that it's like I'm some suddenly different person.  I see it more as having been in a place of light for so long that my eyes had adjusted and I didn't see just how much brighter it could be.....I didn't realize not all the lights were on, until they were on.  It's tasting that delicious fruit of the tree of life and wanting to share it with others because you didn't realize how much you were missing out on.

I have this way secret desire for my husband to be able to follow his dreams and passions while supporting our family.  Secretly he has always wanted to be a helicopter pilot, and he loves working with his hands.  Wouldn't it be amazing if he could actually be a woodworker and a helicopter pilot?  Wouldn't he be that much more amazing by feeling that much more fulfilled?  I can actually see that happening now.  I don't know if it will...but I do believe it can if he really wants it.

Why the change?

Those blessings.
God makes anything possible.  Gratitude makes more possible.  Humility allows God to work through us and pour out Heaven on our heads.

And because we have changed.
We have struggled for so long.... health and finances in particular.  I see a light at the end of that tunnel at last.  I heard it all.... I was blamed for our health struggles.  I was told I was a hypochondriac.  I was told it was my fault that my kids had allergies or asthma and that if I just was a better mother, or more clean or fed them better then we would all be better.  We were blamed for finances beyond our control.  Were there decisions we could have made better?  Were there bad choices made?  Absolutely.  Was it our fault when the job market crashed and a second job wasn't to be found?  Was it our fault when DH unexpectedly became too sick to hold a second job?  Were we responsible for the housing market crashing just as we were selling our house and moving into another that we had already calculated an appropriate amount of debt according to the income that was supposed to be coming in soon?  Nope.  Could we have done that differently?  Sure....but we wouldn't have had the trial of our faith and learned the lessons we did in those years that followed.  When DH's problem very first came out, many many years ago and before I realized it was an addiction rather than a problem, he had just lost his job and we were living off our savings.  I couldn't understand why we weren't blessed with a job or this or that when we were trying so hard.... and then when I found out about that I blamed him.  How could we expect blessings when he wasn't living worthy of them.  Sadly, it is often the consequence of life as an addict or as one married to an addict.  It is the consequence of being married to someone breaking their marital covenants.  It is a sad fact that we suffer the consequences of another's actions in a way that other's see without seeing the whole picture, without seeing the backstory that we know.  So it is.  It is also a beautiful and miraculous thing when the Lord is able to use those things for our good as He has for us.....over a lot of time and difficulty.
Please be aware of that when you are making observations of another's, finances, happiness, trials and joy.  You just don't know.  

DH received a message from a customer yesterday.  This is someone whom he had made this beautiful journal for them to write letters to their child in.  A friend from high school (who I admittedly had sort of mixed feelings about because they'd been really close when we were starting to date and I had some jealousy issues there).  That's beside the point though. ;)  She apparently visited a local Vegas attraction where some wooden items were being sold that were somewhat similar to items she knew we sold.  She asked to speak with the gift shop's buyer and then told them about DH's wooden journals and other wooden items as well as his history as a LV native and more.  According to the message received from the customer, the buyer is extremely interested in DH's stuff and wants to talk about carrying it in the gift shop.  Are you serious?!  Dream big people.  Dream big.  Things can happen.  Put it out there.  I have long since admired a friend of mine who is making a living as an artist.  I remember just a few years ago when she made her first sale on Etsy.  Watching her success (she now has artwork being used as signs at Target and has designed makeup packaging and been featured in magazines etc) has encouraged me to dream ... but I've still always sort of seen that as happening to 'other people' and not us.  Our life was destined to be 'this way'.  Nope.  That was a lie Satan was telling us to rob of us our hope and blessings from God.  Why do we put limits on ourselves.  Limits are not there until we put them there.  Children do not know limits until we tell them.  God works the same way with us.  Dream big for your own sake.  Don't judge the smaller dreams or seemingly smaller successes of others.  You don't know what's underneath.
not sure the source on this one, sorry. was shared in my challenge group today

Sunday, July 28, 2013

struggling with forgiveness

I know that maintaining a clean heart is essential to my well-being on all levels.  I know that I need to forgive to be forgiven.  I have forgiven some pretty big things in my life.  So when seemingly smaller things come up that I struggle to forgive, I wonder why.

I am stuck.

I wonder if I don't really want to let it go.

You know that quote about anger (or lack of forgiveness) being like a hot coal that only burns the person holding it?

Having gone through the 12 steps in one form or another enough time, I know that there is that step about forgiveness looming before me.  I know that I need to do it.  But it is so hard.

My heart aches to heal damaged relationships....relationships that I believe cannot be healed because I do not believe the other parties desire what I do.  I wonder if my heartache is a desire for the healed relationship or really just a desire for validation.  That would be a codependent speaking.

Both I know have been weighing heavily on my mind because of circumstances arising that means I might see these individuals in the temple soon.  I want to be able to see them there and have no ill feelings toward them.  I know that if I were to go tomorrow and do so then that would not be the case.

Help me out here.

The first individual is the friend who said many unkind things about me last year and had a ripple effect on many of my relationships and friendships.  It has been for the best as I have realized how I had allowed myself to be held back by fear of judgement from others.  However, it has still hurt.  I feel like I should have been able to let it go by now.  Especially having found some good from it.  I think I hurt because I will not get an apology.  I haven't sought one, but I don't know that I should.  Feelings and opinions were expressed and though I do not agree with them, that does not invalidate the fact that they felt them.  Still, it was my character that was assassinated.  Why do I feel ill will toward this person?  Or is it hurt?  Or sadness?  I do not know.  All I know is that I am still not in a place that I feel like I could see them in passing in a store and be as all was before- letting bygones be bygones.  I feel like that makes me a terrible person.  Perhaps it is simply that I sought this person's approval to give myself validity for so long that I'm only now seeing it... that it is hard sometimes to really feel and remember that I don't need it.  Another person's view of my worth does not define my worth.  Especially when I have confirmation from the Lord.

The second situation involves my family.  I struggled with whether to write it here or not because I don't know if any of them read this or whom.  I need the help though and this has been weighing on my mind.  My brother will be leaving on his mission soon, which means the endowed family members attending the temple together.  My father remarried about the same time that I got married.  My relationship with my stepmom has been.... I don't know how to describe it.  It seems fine and then suddenly it is not.  And I never seem to know quite what to make of it.  I know we have both been on learning paths and experiencing things and growing in different ways over the years.  The whole blended family is not something either of us have experience with and me getting married and starting my family meant that I was not on the same path as she.  Anyway, I thought things were finally in a good place and that we had established a friendship and understanding.  We have different views on many things but I felt maybe that was finally allowed to be the case.  Then last summer I arrived for a visit with my children, as I had done the previous summers, and a rather large misunderstanding ensued.  I was put in a very awkward situation and felt backed into a corner.  This is how confrontations have frequently been with my dad and stepmom together... a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere situation where I feel like some helpless child in a corner.  I was confused.  Direct lies were being told about things I had supposedly said or not said and no one was hearing me.  I could not believe that such blatant lies were being said by her.  I truly believe she believed what she was saying.  I am still confused by this.  Being that my children and I were not welcome and that my experience over the year previous had taught me about boundaries, I stuck to my boundaries and left the following morning.  I cannot tell you the heartache of packing my children up to leave their grandparent's house after having driven 6 hours to see them for any amount possible.  Trying to determine how to explain it in a way that was truthful but that would not make them feel like it was their fault or color their view of their grandparents.  As no one was home when we left, I left a note explaining myself (rather kindly I felt) and we left to make the best of things- staying with friends off and on through the week until I just couldn't take living out of the car any longer and went back home.  The only response I received from that encounter was a negative one saying that I was in the wrong and owed them an apology.  I still have not figured out what it was that I was supposed to apologize for.  I don't know if any of this makes any sense really.  I don't want to go into details because I don't want to rehash it all when it should be in the past.  And that's just it.... Nothing has been spoken of it since but she has hardly spoken a word to me since.  I feel I should have an apology if nothing else for the lies said about me directly to me.  For saying that I sent or did not send messages that I have proof otherwise of.  I made a boundary that I, or my children, would not linger in a place where we were not accepted or wanted.  Feeling like a burden has long been a trigger of mine.  I don't know why but I recall being concerned with that even as a child.  So I know that it is in my best interest and safety to not allow myself to stay in a situation where I have to wonder or worry about that.  I am sad that my children are paying for this.  I am sad that their grandparents don't seem to care enough to repair this.  I am sad that when my daughter was baptized a few months after this happened and we held off on it to a three day weekend just so these grandparents could come down and make a real weekend of it and spend time with them, that they came for the baptism and pretty much turned right around and left.  I am sad that my kids have asked me all summer long when we are going to go up there to visit like we have every other summer, and I have no answer for them because we will not go until we are welcome....and I certainly do not feel welcome in a home where the person who lives there barely says hello to me...and I won't take my children somewhere that I, as their mother, am not welcome.
And that brings me to the next thing..... As I posted recently, my great-grandmother recently turned 100.  All the family came down and family pictures were taken.  They were really cute.  A couple weeks ago we had the family reunion and it was announced that the pictures from the birthday party were available for purchase.  My dad (whom everything seems 'fine' with, at least when it's just us) commented under his breath that he and my stepmom were upset that they couldn't get the digital file of the picture because they'd planned to photoshop it.  I asked why as I couldn't imagine MIL had snapped a picture of it with my phone so I'd seen it and thought it a very good picture.  I asked if they planned to edit the background or the stools they weren't happy to be sitting on or something.  No, that wasn't it.  It was my brother's hairstyle.  They didn't like his mohawk and plan to photoshop it out.  I was dumbfounded by this response.  I still am.  I think all I said was "are you serious!?" and the reply was "well, if it's going up on the wall in my house" and "we don't want to be looking at that and other people looking at it".  Really?  I feel like as family members we should love and accept one another regardless of the choices we make.  We can set boundaries to protect ourselves but to alter the appearance of someone for the way it will make your family portrait look???  How is that representative of God's love?  How is that setting a Christlike example?  I feel so angry on my brother's behalf and I don't think anyone but me even knows about this.  What if he goes to visit and sees the altered image on the wall?  What message does that send to him, someone who already feels that church members are so hypocritical?  Someone who is already so cynical and who struggles with their self-esteem?  (then, admittedly, I selfishly had the thought of wondering if they would photoshop me if I was 'too fat' or had some other visible 'blemish' that they were embarrassed of- which of course then led me to wonder if all my being upset was really just a reflection of my own insecurity).  As I was talking this out with my mother-in-law, trying to get the perspective of an older person and of a parent, I think she got to the heart of the problem with both situations.... She said "It's like they don't accept you as a part of the family if you don't behave, act, and look according to their perfect mold of what is acceptable.  Since you aren't perfect like her kids seem to be then you must not be a part of the family and so they don't treat you as such."  How do I fix this?  Do I even try?  We cannot change others.  This has been an ongoing pattern it seems....and it is so below the surface that the average person outside the inner circle would not see it, which seems to make it doubly frustrating.  It's like a secret wound that can't be talked about because it only fuels the fire that is burning you.  I pray for my heart to be softened.  I pray for theirs to be softened.  I don't know whether to say anything.  I don't know if saying anything would do any good since it seems I am so often not heard.  You know how quickly others tune out anything you say when they are quick to be defensive?  That is how every conversation with them has ever seemed to go in regards to any confrontation of any type.  It seems that I have always been in the wrong and never they... and that isn't right.  It isn't just me being prideful or feeling victimized.  That would be true of any relationship.  It just isn't possible for one side to always be completely in the wrong.  Not where any love or respect is involved.  Do I chalk it up to they have the right to make the choices they want and leave it be?  I am trying.  I am trying to just let it go.  I am trying to just let it all go.....but maybe I'm not trying hard enough....?  I don't want to dread getting to go to the temple with my baby brother.  Right now I do, because I dread that feeling of being in there with family, and having bad feelings toward any of them.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

challenge group and 12 step program

I'm working on a project this week that I've been wanting to work on for a while.  One that I've felt was 'meant for me'.  Something I might even feel 'called' to do.

In our FB fitness challenge groups we do daily mini-challenges.  These are generally geared toward personal development.  There are some physical challenges, but the majority are related to personal development.  They have been wonderful, and key to the change I have experienced in the last nearly 90 days.

I knew that they could be better.

I've done the PASG/Healing Through Christ program (please do it even if you think you don't need to- you will grow closer to your Savior in such a real way!) and even helped in writing the manual for it.  I've done the ARP program (I'll be real with you... I have some to be desired on actually doing every single step thoroughly in regards to myself...but I promise to! that's another post...).  I've also done something called SOLE (Survivors of Life's Experiences).  It was truly life-changing and involved sort of a different version of the 12 steps and a lot of hands-on application of steps and working through things.  It was a program done through LDS Family Services on a referral basis and I feel incredibly blessed to have had the experience that I did, even if I resisted the referral at first.  This has a good little rundown of some of the steps and information that are found in the manual from that.  To my knowledge, the program is no longer in effect.

So my project is to combine all these things that I have experienced and learned and grown from, with the mini-challenges used in this last group I participated in, to develop a new set of challenges and things to ponder and apply etc.  I do this with some other coaches as well (which is really great because we all have our own strengths and weaknesses but all want each other and our challengers to be successful so everyone is better helped and served this way) so it will be up to them in the end to help me tweak what gets used for this group that starts on Monday.  However, I've wanted to combine the 3 programs for quite some time now, even just for my own benefit.  I'm looking forward to the challenge of it and the way I know it will really help me and others.  I have had the whispering to do it for quite some time.  I think I just needed the excuse to finally sit down and take the time to act upon that.  I pray I will be guided in doing so.