Category Archives: You’ll Be Ok

The Magic of Faith & Showing Up As Our Best Version

There’s a fascinating magic that happens when we trust the Universe. This magic works best when we place our energy onto showing up in every moment as the best version of ourselves. When we diligently commit to this (even when were crushed, beat, and have zero hope or motivation) we start to see an inspiring progress in our mind, bodies, and souls, that just makes us feel good about who we are and what we’ve become. Each time we do this, our heart muscles grow stronger, making each new challenge in life a little less overwhelming or scary.

This grace lovingly prepares us for what’s to come. Many of us have been broken and bruised so badly that we have zero faith in the beginning; all we have is this strong desire to feel better, and sometimes it is only this desperation that gets us to actually do the work. At least that’s how it worked for me.

After trying various methods of “life management” including some truly shameful and horrendous techniques like trying to manipulate, lie to, or control other people, the Universe had a special gift for me: crush that belief by taking everything away until I was completely lost, alone, and powerless. You see, it turns out, people don’t like being manipulated, lied to, or controlled by anyone. People like being loved, accepted, and valued. It took me way too long to figure that out…

Being a control freak was all I knew. It was the tool I used to protect myself from abuse and emotional traumas as a child. Giving up this sense of power felt like a threat to my existence. Only now can I laughingly admit that I used to think that I knew what was best for myself (and others). But as I slowly let go and surrendered to the Universe, I was pleasantly surprised at how my life unfolded in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined, and in so many positive ways. Life was actually starting to feel “free” and lighter for the first time; and that required letting go of my desire to control the outcome.

Ironically, the only way to get this faith, is by taking that one step forward. One step at a time. One day at a time. Eventually, we make a little progress, which builds upon our faith: faith that we can trust the Universe, and faith that without grasping and clinging and attaching to our need to control the outcome of our inevitably changing, uncertain life, everything is going to work out just fine.

As we courageously move forward, our faith becomes equivalent to unwavering confidence, and this confidence is priceless. What we come to see is that focusing on just showing up as the best version of ourselves in every moment and trusting the Universe  life doesn’t get better; WE get better at living it.

Of course when we are in a state of anxiety, or worry, we cannot see or think clearly. But when we remain focused on just being and doing the best we can in each moment, we begin to see more clearly. We think more clearly. But we never forget that we will always have more to learn, and that our vision is never going to be 100%. We begin to love more boldly. We are braver and more courageous. We become curious about these mysterious gifts (i.e., learning opportunities). We have unwavering faith and confidence in ourselves and our ability to overcome and pull through.

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We begin to understand that it’s about being grateful for, and finding meaning in ALL of it. We know very well that life is NOT about being perfect. We learn to embrace and love ourselves completely, and in turn we learn to embrace and love others completely as well. Through this new-found clarity and love, we understand and trust that everything in our life is unfolding exactly as it is meant to be, exactly when it is meant to be.

This brings a sense of calmness and peace, even when our life is inevitably experiencing ups and downs, and because of this faith and peace, we have so much more energy to put into the more important things in life, like truly loving another person, and being of service, helping others, bringing hope, joy, and just living in the moment, because that is the only thing we actually have control over: how we are living right now in this moment. So make this moment a good one.

On Feeling Lonely

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A sinking feeling in my lower gut.
A dull feeling, almost that of feeling tired, sluggish, slow.
A lack of appetite.
A lack of feeling at ease.
A desire for distraction.

Run!
escape
Where is my phone? What’s on Facebook? Instagram?
Nothing.
Should I text someone? Start up a conversation? Will they sense my desperation?
What else can I look at, read, or do to take my mind off of things?
I know! I can work! I can bury myself in work. It makes me feel productive…
I’ll check email. All five accounts.
I’ll look at old pictures and re-read old texts.
Ugh, I feel worse.
Should I take a nap?

No matter where I ran, Lonely was right behind me. I couldn’t escape it.
The more I ran from it, it just got faster and bigger than me.
The more I hid from it, the louder it got.
The worse I felt.

So I decided to stop running from Lonely, look at it right in the eye and say…

“hello”

I was surprised at what I found:

Lonely was… me.
Not all of me. Just a part of me.
And she was beautiful.

She wasn’t the monster I had envisioned.
She wasn’t angry. She wasn’t crying. She wasn’t desperate and ugly.
She wasn’t weak and pathetic.
And when I looked at her right in the eye, she didn’t even make me feel any of those things I was feeling when I was running from her.

Lonely didn’t cause those feelings I was feeling.
It was running from her that caused them.

I asked her, “why were you chasing me? I was scared!”

She said, “why did you abandon me?”

Loneliness is an important part of us, and it is NOT the opposite of Joy. It’s a PART of Joy. You see, without Lonely we wouldn’t know Joy. Just like without Sad, we wouldn’t know Happy.

Joy expresses herself when we are with those that we cherish; Lonely expresses herself when we lose someone. It’s a beautiful part of us that tells us so much about ourselves. We aren’t “just Joy”, we are ALL of it on that spectrum.

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Lonely, in its hidden beauty, reminds us that we are human, that we are capable of and desire love, and that we care. It reminds us to keep our hearts soft, flexible, and open. It reminds us to say “sorry” when we make a mistake, and to forgive when we’ve been hurt. And that requires a tremendous amount of courage.

But the difference between Lonely and Joy is that Joy embraces us. Lonely requires that we embrace it.

There’s a fundamental rule in all relationships: that we can’t just take, take, take. We gotta give a little too. If all we do is sit and expect Joy to embrace us, Joy will leave us. So be brave and embrace Lonely. Don’t run. Just like you, all she wants is a hug and to be acknowledged.

The Ability to Flow Through Hard Times

A friend of mine reached out to me in despair after being dumped by his girlfriend of 7 years. Worried she was seeing someone else, his life suddenly went from successful world-famous dancer to “I want to quit everything and move far away.” He suddenly lost all focus on his upcoming dance competition and drank himself to oblivion every night for several months. His nights were filled with hatred and bitterness, suddenly painting an evil picture of the woman he had loved for so long. In his mind, she was a monster. Underneath all that pain and anger, we all knew, was sadness for the loss and pain from disappointment. He said it was easier to drink away his sadness than to deal with the pain of being left by the woman he loved so much. He called a few months later and said he realized he was an alcoholic and needed help. I suggested therapy and recommended an amazing AA group in the area. He went a few times, but he quit because the work it took to heal was exactly that- WORK. I do love my friend dearly, and sadly, sometimes inner work isn’t for everyone. He suffers even to this day. Drowning his sorrow in distractions, anger, and alcohol. This story is far too common, and it breaks my heart to see my loved ones suffer so much.

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Flowing through hard times is hard, and the reason it is so hard is because our instinct is to run from pain. No one wants to feel pain. An angry tiger coming after us is certainly a realistic fear of possible pain. To not run from that would be insanity. But what does the pain from heartbreak feel like? Does it tear into our skin and make us bleed to death? Does it sever limbs from our body as we lie helplessly on the ground? While in a moment of emotional distress, we may be convinced that that is definitely what it feels like, in reality if we really took an honest inventory of the actual pain from heartbreak, it is (fortunately) much less physically painful than being torn to shreds by an angry tiger.

Unfortunately, however, our mind perceives heartbreak (or potential heartbreak) the same way it perceives a vicious lion attack: DANGEROUS!! We are so afraid that the feelings that come with heartbreak will literally KILL us that we run as quickly and as far away from it as possible (and sometimes we even turn around and attack those that we feel are breaking our heart). Instead of processing our feelings, we stuff, drown in addictive behaviors, deflect and deny all those feelings of sadness, loss, grief, and unrequited love, burying them deep inside a dark pocket called “unforgiveness” thinking that we have escaped the threat of pain. In reality, packed up inside our hearts, it slowly eats away at our hope, joy, trust, and inner peace. Whenever we sense those feelings of loss, sadness, or anger creeping up, we repeat the process: drown, deny, deflect. These unattended feelings and emotions end up making us weaker and less able to handle “hard times”, eventually killing us slowly over time. Instead of getting stronger, better, happier, we get weaker. To put it bluntly, it’s a self-inflicted wound.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone out there, but the thought of me being the main cause of my suffering is very unsettling. Who wakes up in the morning and says, “Ya know, today is a great day to suffer. I think I’ll  make myself suffer just a little more today than yesterday!” But we all do it, and it comes so naturally, because to do the inner work it takes, to hold the pain and unwanted feelings from being hurt by another, is inconvenience, uncomfortable, and undesirable. It doesn’t give us the immediate satisfaction and sense of accomplishment like counterblaming, deflecting, or distraction. This is where delayed gratification is so important. We can either put off our immediate need to escape discomfort for the sake of obtaining inner peace and lasting joy, or we can take immediate gratification by pointing the blame and hating, but suffering long-term consequences, which typically include heavy emotional burdens and a negative energy that permeates your body and soul and follows you around in all your relationships (professional and personal). It’s all a choice.

So instead of thinking, “is this person deserving of my forgiveness?” think, “how do I want to demonstrate inner strength in handling my own life?” Think, “do I want to prove how resilient I am, demonstrating my skills in flowing through  all kinds of life situations? Or do I want to allow  all the worst parts of life to take up a large portion of my livelihood, clouding my sense of happiness and purpose in life, causing me much emotional baggage that will end up pouring over into all of my relationships?

The truth is, you can cope with a  lot more than you think you can, so long as you resolve to. You have the capacity to handle all kinds of situations. Be brave. Someone once told me: “The degree to which you have forsaken your own drama is the degree to which you are available to others.” So be the change you so desperately want to see in this world. How is anyone going to learn how to overcome life struggles if no one is willing to model it?

So flow… it’s the best gift you can give yourself and others. It takes work, but it takes so much less work than the alternative.

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Sending Love…Instead of Hate

I came to realize that when I held negative feelings or thoughts toward another person, I began to suffer. I felt pain. Heartbreak. Sadness.

Yet nothing inside me wanted to feeling anything more than that, toward the person that had hurt me the most.

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So the longer I held on to those negative feelings, the deeper they grew inside me. The sadder I felt. The lonelier I felt. But what was worse, was that his behavior never got better. In fact, it got worse. And the worse he got, the more bitter I got (you can see where this goes, right? Nowhere.)

I began to take a step back from my own personal experience and thoughts toward this person and tried to put myself in his shoes. This man was clearly suffering. Yes, I too, was clearly suffering. That meant we had something in common. If we were both suffering, was I contributing to his suffering in any way? I definitely could identify how he was contributing to my suffering. What I hadn’t realized was that a lot of my suffering from his actions was the beliefs I had about them. I thought they were personal.

What would happen if, instead of seeing his behavior as personal, saw it as a “lack of skill in dealing with his suffering”? What would happen if, instead of muttering hateful words about him, I said a small prayer for him? Dear God, bless his heart. May he know peace, kindness, compassion…

It didn’t take away the fact that he was responsible for dealing with his suffering in a more skillful way. It didn’t justify his behavior or make it “ok”. What it did was to help me take it less personal.

If I were him, with all his experiences in life, would I make the same choices? Would I feel the same? I don’t know, and that is a fact. All I did know was that he was dealing with it the only way he knew how.

Why do we do the things we do? Why do we choose the way we choose? I believe it’s because all of us, no matter how good or “bad” we are, simply don’t want to suffer. So we make choices daily, hourly, and sometimes by the second to avoid suffering in search for joy.

Sometimes our choices hurt others. Sometimes our escape from suffering comes at the cost of other’s pain. We, too, are just as guilt of causing others pain.

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We will never have the ability to make people change, or learn better coping mechanisms so that they can stop doing what we don’t like (and if you try, you will constantly subject yourself to more suffering, which is insanity), but what we can do, and where our power lies is directly in how much negative energy we put into ourselves and onto others based on circumstances that are completely out of our control.

When it is raining, you can curse the sky, but the rain doesn’t care. It still rains. How you feel about it and what you choose to do in the rain is your choice.

Shame: When We Feel Unworthy of Love Only Because We Don’t Feel Loved

Shame: How has it impacted your life?

That was the question on my homework for one of the classes I was taking. When I first started the class (specifically focused on shame) I have to admit I was always angered at the word. I had no shame. Shame was bad. My husband, yes! He must have a ton of shame! But not me…

And then I began really working on myself. Shame took on a whole new meaning. I couldn’t identify it still, but shame slowly started to show itself to me in small things like, “how could I have been so stupid to not know he was cheating and lying to me for so long!?” to “I am a horrible mother for allowing this person in mine and my children’s lives.” I started seeing shame in my value as a person. Maybe I’m not sexy enough? I’m not fun enough. I’m not pretty. Do I smell? Am I too bossy? Do I expect too much from him? Am I a control freak? Maybe I caused this? Maybe I pushed him away. I should try harder. I don’t do enough for our family. I don’t appreciate him enough. I don’t make him feel loved enough. I need to change…”

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And every time I changed to meet his needs, he stayed the same. More acting out. More lies. I would tell myself, “I must have not tried hard enough.” So I would knock down every healthy boundary possible, ‘hoping that this time he would change. He would stop cheating and lying. He would get better in his addictions. And the more boundaries went down, the more acting out occurred. I nearly went mad to the point of extreme hypervigilance.

That’s when I hit rock bottom. I knew I was full of shame. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. It all happened when he left me and the kids. I knew he was acting out and I was set on stopping him. I sent texts to all his friends, family, Facebook, even the police. I tried exposing him for the sick person he was… And then it hit me… If he is sick, what does that make me?

I spent 3 whole days desperately trying to locate him so that I could get him to come back home, thinking that I could somehow convince him how wrong he was and how much he needed to change.

It didn’t happen.

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What started out as 3 days missing turned into two and a half months of separation – and two and a half months of me getting enough space from the insanity to clear my head and focus on what the real issue was: Me.

But not “me” in the shameful sense I had before – thinking that I was flawed or not good enough, but surprisingly realizing that I had subconsciously tried to take on the role of “God”. All my step work – all that powerless stuff, turning my will over to God…all of it never made sense until that moment.

My life, I realized, was perfect. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was perfect. I realized that “perfect” didn’t mean “to my liking” but “according to God’s will”. As I slowly started to release my tightly clenched fists from the outcomes of my husband’s choices and opened my hands, mind, and heart to my “higher power” I finally felt a sense of peace.

Instead of manipulation, passive aggressive communication, and threats, I used prayer. As I began developing a relationship with my Higher Power, I came to realize I was worthy. I was good enough. I deserved the best.

I also realized that I didn’t need my husband to prove I was worthy of love. I had all the love I needed, in so many forms, in so many ways, and from so many people. And although it would be ideal to have my husband be the man I wanted him to be, he is perfectly the man he is.

I’ve learned that shame leads us down a dark path of constantly hurting ourselves and others. Shame leaves us feeling lonely and desperate. Shame leaves us confused about who we are, and rips from us our identity. It leaves us grabbing desperately for anything to fill our emptiness.

My husband reaches out sexually. My parents turned to drugs and alcohol. I reached out for external things like…my husband, codependent behaviors, and hypervigilance/control.

I came to understand that we are not our behaviors and what happens to us does not define us, nor does it put a value on us in anyway. God is working in my life, in my husband’s life, in everyone’s lives, perfectly. We make mistakes. We alter our direction. But the moment I try to steal the wheel from God’s hands, I know I’ve fallen back into my codependent behaviors.

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“Shame” is creeping up again telling me I need to fill an emptiness by forcing someone else to make me feel better about myself. Realizing I am whole, valuable, and loved helped me let go of the false notion that someone had to do or be something or someone I wanted them to be in order for me to be happy.

Has my husband changed? Nope! But I have! And my happy days far outnumber my sad days now.

How to Deal With Shame: Identify it. Own it. Process it. Let it Go.

Playing Bad Cards

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We are all dealt our own unique cards in life. Some people get a good hand. Some get a crappy hand. But in the end, when the game is over, we all end up in the same place (dead). So how do I want to spend my time until then? I.e., how do I win with the crappy cards I was given?

Pissing and moaning about the dealer? Holding resentment towards those that seem to have gotten the better hand? Steal their cards? Cheat? Drink myself to oblivion or dive into other addictions so I don’t have to feel as bad about my crappy hand?

What if I have fun and play my best, no matter how crappy it may seem? I might not beat the others by wiping them out but I will win by finding joy that AT LEAST I can play.

I might find joy in the game simply by learning, growing, making friends, sharing our “secrets” to the joy-finding approach.

IN the end, I might even realize it wasn’t a game of me vs you or even me vs the cards. Maybe it wasn’t even a game.

Some people like to stay sitting at the table, hoping for a better hand. I admit, I was one of those people thinking that if I stayed in the game long enough, maybe my luck would change. Now I’m starting to realize there was only one player at the table and it was me! Life is too short to stay there!

Who is making all these rules anyway? Who assigned the value of the cards? Who decides if the cards in your hand are even crappy or not?

It’s time to live!

Am I a Failure…?

Often, I feel like a total failure. I look in the mirror and see “FAILURE” in my reflection. I loathe around wondering how I got myself into this mess? Why did I make certain choices? Why can’t I make better ones? My life is a mess…

And then I remember… that’s the most selfish thing I could ever think. I look at my children and see the greatest, most magical miracles of the world. I did that… These little miracles came from me! These truly powerful, loving, good human beings… they call me “Mom”.

Yes, I have made more mistakes than I care to admit to. I continue to make mistakes I’m not proud of. But I’ve shown them that making mistakes should never keep you down, but push you to strive for better. Each and every day.

I took another look in the mirror and I saw…courage.

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It Will Get Easier (or not…)

I once confused “things will get easier” with “things will eventually change to your liking”.

Now I understand that as we go through the inevitable disappointments in life, as long as you are growing through it, your ability to overcome them gets stronger. That’s why things get easier. If your heart was a muscle, it could only be strengthened by working it out. Trying to find compassion or a loving response to something we want to violently strike down takes some serious heart strength!

When we run from, deny, avoid the inevitable disappointments (or stay resentful) we don’t learn anything. I.e., the heart never gets a work out. It’s equivalent to sitting on the couch eating junk wishing you were fit.

Things get easier, for sure, if you are learning and growing from your experiences. Problems don’t disappear (and unfortunately they never will- that’s life) but their affect on you might!

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Lost and Found

When going through healing and recovery, they recommend making a list of all your losses as a result of being married to an addict. It’s important to acknowledge them so that you can grieve and process them (as opposed to ignoring, denying, or being oblivious to them). What they don’t tell you when you’re making this list is that you will eventually have to then list how all those perceived losses could, with time, be restored. This exercise was an extremely powerful tool for me, and I thought I’d share my experience with you:

Outside of my freedom from the STDs I got, I was unsuccessful in identifying any of my losses that are unable to be restored, at some point, in my future. Of note, my personal power is the biggest. I may have felt like a powerless victim, but the fact is I always did, and still do have a choice in everything and every situation. In victim-mode I was more focused on not having a choice in the things that were out of my control. This is true and remains true. I do not have a choice in his behavior and acting out. I did not cause his addictions, I cannot prevent his addictive behavior, and I cannot cure it. I do not have a choice in how he does his recovery. But the fact is, I never lost that control because I never had it to begin with. Although it was occasionally surrendered, I had, and continue to have, a voice and a choice in my marriage. That was never lost.

I could argue that I “lost” my husband, but if I were to be brutally honest, I never “had” him in the first place. He was, and still is, his own person. And although I could say I “lost my partner”, even that would be untrue. When he left, every night in my anguish, shock, and pain, I fell to my knees and prayed. I am not a religious person, nor do I ever pray. But this got me on my knees praying and I prayed for him. I prayed for us. I prayed for our family.  Through the time I spent in prayer (and not getting any of those things I was asking for) I unexpectedly fell into a new partnership – a partnership with God.

Another perceived loss was my hope in my marriage, my relationship with men, and in my ability to trust myself and my intuition. While I still do not have “hope” in any of these, I do know that they can be rebuilt – even the marriage- if that is in God’s will. My hope right now, as I have slowly learned, is that, one day at a time, my Higher Power is walking with me and giving me the courage and wisdom I need to make it through these difficult times. This gives me hope for my future. I know I will make it out alright. My perceived loss of “hope” has developed into a new found “faith” and my “faith” has been strengthened exponentially all because of my initial loss of hope.

Some things that appear lost, apparently,
transform themselves into new bigger and better things.

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I also thought I had lost my smile, my inner light, joy, and brightness. I have found that I may have lost it at a moment, but that moment was not the first time. I have lost it several times in my life and through time got it back.

This too, shall pass.

Interestingly, I also listed that I had lost my friends, family, and people that matter most. I had put the spotlight on my husband as having this role as all of those people, not realizing that there are tons of other people that fill those roles in my life. Not only that, but I’ve come to find that they have always been there for me, even in my darkest moments, even when I’ve made bad decisions that could have sent them running. I don’t know where my husband falls into this equation yet, but I do know that I never lost my friends, family, or the people that matter the most. If anything, their commitment to me through this whole ordeal has been a sign of their unconditional love, acceptance, and importance in my life, as well as my significance in their life.

I thought I had lost my ability to trust, but I realize that I actually trust a lot of people. In fact, there are some people that I didn’t trust at one time and trust them now. I realized that trust comes and goes. It is lost and gained again. It is possible that my trust for my husband is gone now and can come back later. It is also possible that my trust for my husband will never return. The reality is I don’t know. I never questioned or worried about him or his behavior in the past and now that is all that I do. This may last for a while and go away, or it may stay forever. I don’t know. The truth is, though, that I never lost my ability to trust. It’s largely dependent on time and the relationship evolution. I also realized that although I don’t trust him on some things, there are things that I do trust him on: he’s a hard worker, he loves his son, he has the capability of being honest, good, and genuine (he just chooses not to be sometimes). So while it is true that I lost trust in him, I have to admit that it hasn’t been lost completely. Is that enough to stay in the marriage? Of course not! But I’m not going to blind myself with this false belief that he is completely untrustworthy, because that simply is not the case.

I also thought that I had lost my confidence, but that, like trust, was not completely lost. I may have lost confidence in how my husband feels about me, but I never lost confidence in how I feel about me. I really like who I am and what I bring to the table. I see my flaws, know I’m not perfect, but still feel that I am a person worthy of love, admiration, affection, and loyalty. I believe I am valuable, beautiful, and wanted. I believe my opinions matter, that I am smart, and worth fighting for (even if he chose not to). I believe that I am capable of doing anything, even if I have to do it alone. I believe I have it in me to overcome any hardship and that I am resilient and wonderful. I have no confidence that my husband sees that in me, but I see it in me, and I think that’s all that matters. Maybe one day he will see it. Maybe he never will. But that, apparently, was never enough to affect how I see myself.

I thought I had lost the ability to protect my baby, my kids’ future, and my ability to do good parenting. I thought that my choices had caused such irreparable damage that I had somehow scarred their adulthood. My hypervigilance and controlling behavior for sure, had gotten the best of me, and took my attention and energy away from them, and that has definitely affected them. But my ability to right the wrongs and turn our lives down a different path, for sure, has not been lost.

I thought I had lost the ability to feel comfort, security, and peace in my own home. Everything had become a trigger: our bed, our T.V., etc. After the separation, however, I moved some things around, changed a few rituals and rules, made some space for myself and am starting to feel at home (maybe even more so than before). My sons and I enjoy the space and the loss I felt was only there because I was connecting my marriage to my home. A home is just a physical place- it was the meaning I put on it that made me feel suffering.

Finally, I thought that I had lost my belief in love. I thought that everything I thought about love and marriage had been wrong. After the betrayal I began to believe that maybe there is no such thing as “real love” and that maybe every man cheats on his wife and every marriage will suffer these wounds. I thought that love meant being loyal and honest and committed. I began to believe that the past we had was all a lie. I have since learned that our past was not a lie. I do not know how he really felt or even how he feels now, but I do know that my love for him was true. I also have learned that love is still what I thought it was, but it’s also something MORE. Love is freedom. I have learned that it is not easy, as I had believed, to love another. Love is very difficult because it means allowing the person to be free to make his/her own choices, to walk his/her own path, and to find his/her own way in life. It is the greatest sign of love, to let go of another and let them be free. Anything else would be selfish, and selfish is the opposite of love.

At the end of the exercise, I learned I lost nothing but gained everything.

So what’s up with all these sad crappy feelings and emotions? It’s called grief. It’s normal, it’s good, and will pass.

Fear and Insecurity- How It Lead Me to Being Fearless and Less Insecure

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When I was six years old, I remember getting the training wheels off my Rainbow Bright bicycle and riding alone for the first time. The feeling was exhilarating and the fact that my bike was Rainbow Bright made it magical. What a glorious moment for a six-year old. I was fearless.

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Needless to say, the bike apparently wasn’t that magical as I fell off and scraped my knee. My father ran to me, scooped me up, and took me to the house. Although I was hurt, I hadn’t cried until I looked down and saw the blood. The blood horrified me. Just the look of it made the pain grow exponentially. “The blood! The blood!” I screamed. The pain, not from falling, but from seeing the blood, was unbearable. My father never let me live that down…

Now I’m 34 years old and still sensitive to the sight of blood, but it doesn’t intensify the pain. I’ve since learned that neither blood or riding a bike equals pain. I can enjoy a bike ride without fear of falling off. I can see blood and not feel immense pain.

But when we are traumatized with other horrific events, such as being betrayed by a spouse’s infidelity, everything that is connected with the infidelity becomes the “blood” that intensifies our fear. Now, whenever I pass a massage parlor, I feel pain. My emotional pain increases and I experience tension, anxiety, fear, sadness…(the list could go on). Whenever I hear my husband’s phone go off, I experience the same feelings. Whenever I am triggered (my triggers are numerous!) I fall into great despair. My emotions go into a downward negative spiral and my creativity peaks as I start envisioning all the times he acted out and was unfaithful. I create stories that may have never even happened, and somehow manage to make it the worst possible scenario imaginable. I then relive those events in my mind and heart, over and over. While the betrayal was real, and the emotional turmoil and trauma I experienced was real, the pain wasn’t something I needed to hold on to. It is natural to grieve and feel “broken-hearted”. All those feelings are natural and should be appreciated. You’ve been hurt! Hurt hurts! It’s supposed to! But it doesn’t have to last, and it doesn’t have to be recreated or tightly held on to. Even now, as we pick up the pieces of a shattered dream, there are days when I feel paralyzed by my fear of him acting out again, of being betrayed again.. and I am totally justified to feel that fear. I could even let that fear control my entire day.

It’s fear. Fear of the unknown.
Fear of ambiguity.
Fear of being hurt again.
It is insecurity.

The feeling is real, for sure.
But it doesn’t have to affect me unless I let it.

I could have decided, at six years old, that considering the pain involved, riding a bike was way too risky and not worth the effort, but I didn’t. My desire to experience life and all it had to offer- especially on an awesome Rainbow Bright bike (did I mention the rainbow streamers on the handle bars?) with the wind blowing through my hair as I rode down the street- was stronger than the fear of experiencing that pain ever again.

It took me a while to finally understand that massage parlors, prostitutes, other women, porn, and sex were not my enemy. They were doing what they were supposed to do. They were doing their job. It’s a reality I could not fight. To deny their existence would be a battle I was sure to lose, every single time. Every time I tried to fight that battle, I would feel more pain and more fear.

What I did learn was that not even my husband was my enemy. He was just doing what he does. He was “doing his job” too. That was his reality at the time, on his path in his life. It was his choice and there was nothing I could do to prevent that from happening, and nothing I can do to prevent it from happening in the future. In fact, even if I decided to get a new husband, lover, or partner, there’s still nothing I can do to prevent it from happening again. People will make their choices whether or not I like them, because that is reality.

Emotional and physical pain sucks. Betrayal sucks. Infidelity sucks. Lies suck. Liars suck. Reality can really suck. But in the end, it’s still reality and whether or not I fear all of that, it’s still a reality.  I can choose to remain resentful, mad, angry, sad, depressed, insecure and fearful, but the crappiest reality about that is that it will only affect me in the end. Me staying resentful, mad or angry and depressed won’t affect anyone else but me. And why would I want that? Life will still play out in unpredictable ways. It will bring joy and it will bring sadness.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of bikes and I’ve fallen down a lot as well. I chose to ride again, despite the numerous crashes. I’ve learned that some falls I could learn from and take certain measures to prevent similar crashes. But there were other falls that were completely out of my control.

I can let that insecurity ruin my day, month, year, and even life. Or, I can let it go.

I’m  not saying don’t feel your pain. I’m not saying don’t process your pain or deny your pain. I’m saying don’t dwell on it.

Feel it, acknowledge it, AND…MOVE…ON.

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