Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bravery: 2014

At the beginning of 2014, I wrote this post where I chose my word for the year.

It's a funny thing, the words I choose. Every year, I pick them and every year, they end up applying to my life even more than I anticipate.

I can count numerous times this year when the word bravery was directly applied to a decision or action in my life.
There was this post where I shared my views on divorce and how it hasn't changed my belief in marriage. Getting used to openly talking about divorce wasn't an easy thing. I was fearful of the judgement. But I did it anyway because I needed my voice to be heard.
This year, I made hundreds of new friends---some I've met and some I hope to meet in person someday. I might have forced myself into some of their lives and trusted my brave heart to lead me in the path I needed to go and my goodness, it turned out so incredibly sweet in the end.
I have learned to fight this year---I went from slowly killing myself daily to putting myself in recovery from my eating disorder, I have learned to openly talk about pornography and share my views on the effects of it's entrapment, and I have slept in my bed alone for over a year with only minor middle-of-the-night freak outs.

I have dated. Oh what a fun and seriously stupid world the dating world is... I really don't have much to say about it but for me, dating has been extremely brave.

School. I have completed two semesters of full time school this year and gotten through one of the most triggering classes I've ever had to endure---and I raised my hand and spoke my mind about why I don't agree with mainstreaming pornography.

I was chosen to be a recipient of the Bright Effects day and I completed a photoshoot of just me...no kids...just my beautiful insecurities, all wrapped up into one mold of a warrior.

I started working again---and it was all sorts of messy for a while. Juggling work, school, and motherhood was not very fun for a while. Ninja would say the same thing if you asked him. It was hard. I was constantly getting anxious and running from one place to the next, trying to devote my attention to whomever needed it the most in that minute. Luckily, we have fallen into a groove and things have gotten so much better!

My bravery took us on two trips, one to California and one to Utah. I also took a trip to Las Vegas with friends, where I bravely wore my "Porn Kills Love" shirt on the LV Strip.

There have been so many moments this year where I've questioned myself. I doubt my abilities a lot. I worry about whether this blog is the right thing, whether my parenting is good enough, and whether I'm acting with authenticity. I want to be real and allow you to see the messy mixed in with the beautiful.
I struggle to find who I really am. I have changed so much this year and although so many aspects of that are beautiful, some of them aren't as great. Sometimes I surprise myself with how much anxiety can take over within seconds or how my fears cause me to believe really ugly things about myself.
Other days I surprise myself with how confident I am.
But mostly, it's just been hard trying to figure out who this new Suzanne is. I battle that one out in my mind often---way too often.

There have been so many reasons to celebrate my bravery this year. I've done a lot of things I didn't believe I'd be capable of doing.

Which brings me to 2015:
I have thought about what word I should pick to represent this next year of my life.
Most of the words I wanted to pick were synonyms with bravery: courage, strength, etc. They all seemed like decent words but I knew none of them were the word I was looking for.

I was looking at this new family picture yesterday and the word seemed to be staring me in the face...

With all of my pain and struggle between divorce and my eating disorder, I have tried to focus on my own healing but it has never received enough attention.

This year, I am putting more focus on my own personal recovery. I'm going to figure out who I am and who I truly want to be.
I am going to fight for myself so that I am able to fight for those two beautiful children of mine.

The past 3 years, I've tried to make it a goal to go to the temple 12 times (which would equal out to once a month) and each year, I get somewhere between 6-9. Not this year. This year I surpassed my goal and although I am not going to put a specific number on my temple attendance this next year, I have seen what going to the temple does for my life and I am going to continue making it a priority.


I have so much faith that healing my heart is possible. I have faith in my ability to figure this new life out.

To end my year of bravery, and to start another year of bravery, I recorded a song that I heard for the first time tonight---because I'm really good at winging things around here. This is my last post of 2014 and I really wanted to share something special with all of you, my warrior friends.
I want to leave you with a thousand disclaimers but I think the bravest part of posting this is just leaving this video for you to listen to and judge for yourself. No disclaimers. Just me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

 I knew this Christmas was going to be full of magic. It just had to be.
This is most likely the last Christmas I will ever spend with my kids on Christmas Eve AND Christmas day because of our parenting plan.
I had all of our presents bought weeks ago. It was small but small is ok. In fact, I liked small this year.
On Christmas Eve, the kids opened their new pajamas and both of them were overjoyed. We had spent most of the afternoon/evening with my parents, taking family pictures and eating delicious food, so by the time we got home, it was already past bedtime.

As soon as the kids went to bed, I got started on my Santa duties.

I thought it would take longer to put Ninja's drums together but they actually weren't too bad. I got it all done within the hour and I headed to bed for the night.
 The morning was, as expected, all sorts of magical. The kids were both full of gratitude that Santa had listened to their requests. We were wrapped up in happiness and family time for most of the time.

And then 2pm rolled around and my kids left to their dads house---and selfish me, I started to ache to have them back. And not only did I ache to have them back, I started to feel sorry for myself that I was single. My sisters were planning a date night with their husbands to the movies and I didn't want to go. Instead, I headed to my best friend's house and spent the rest of the day with her family.

As I was contemplating the afternoon of Christmas, I struggled with a few things. I felt guilty for not wanting to be around my family after my kids left. I wasn't sure they would understand. I wasn't sure they would be happy about it.
In the past year, I've learned some things about myself and one of those things is that it's hard to be around my nieces and nephews when my kids are gone. I find myself missing them more. I still spend time with my family when my kids aren't there but I avoid it sometimes. I've also found that it is really hard to go on "dates" with my sisters or friends and their spouses. I feel like a third or fifth or ninth wheel.

But guilt aside, it was a great afternoon. I'm so grateful my friends are so welcoming. They get it. They love me. I am a part of more than one family these days.

Along with Christmas day came the thought that I'd actually get Christmas cards out this year.
About that...
They're currently all printed and sitting on my desk. They just haven't left my desk. And I'm not sure if they will ever leave my desk...

But it was the first year I've ever printed Christmas cards so maybe next year will be the first year I mail some out.
 I jotted down some highlights of 2014 for our family.
And filled the other side with pictures...because I LOOOOOOOOVE pictures.

I'm sorry you may not have gotten a card from us and if you did, you should feel extra lucky because you're probably one of three people.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Am Enough

Why is this so easy to forget?

The words look so simple on paper.

You are enough.

12 letters full of truth.

I have been on a struggling roller coaster through hell lately and I'm trying to swim up for a breath of air.
It's been quieter this time, slowly seeping through the cracks of the warrior walls I've been working so hard to build. It wasn't a sudden change but I may not be telling the truth if I said it wasn't expected. I think somewhere deep down I knew my work wasn't over. Deep down, I knew I didn't believe my own recovery words.

But although my fight hasn't ended, I haven't given up. In between the really low moments, I take a deep breath and become more authentic and empathetic. I learn new things. I am able to understand more.

I find myself longing to just be home with my children and realizing just how important my life is with them in it. I find myself wanting a marriage that will last through eternity and trying to work toward whatever that will look like when the time comes. I find myself reciting affirmations in the mirror every morning when I get up.

I've come on here to write this post five different times in the past few weeks and each time I try to finish it, I am pulled away by children or I get frustrated because 'authentic me' is afraid of this blog. Authentic me doesn't know which learning experiences to share and which ones to save for face to face conversations. I'm pretty much an open book. I try to be that way because I believe God gave me experiences that can help others. I want to share my life with whomever needs to hear it. Sometimes I just struggle with what that looks like.

My life has changed so much in the past 2 years. I went from struggling to find friends to having so many friends that I want to spend my time with. I went from married to single. But most importantly, I think the reason I would never in a million years change these past few years is because of how much I've learned about life and love and happiness.

I struggle every day of my life with the thoughts that "I'll be happy once I'm married again". I thought that marriage is what made me worthy. Marriage meant somebody loved me. But although I genuinely still struggle with those beliefs, there is a part of me that knows it isn't true.

First of all, sadly, marriage does not guarantee someone loves me. A good marriage is made up of two people who are willing to be authentic with each other and strive to meet the needs of their partner. I wish I could say that is the case with all of our marriages but it isn't.

As a young 19 year old girl, I thought marriage was going to fix all of my past problems. I was marrying a returned missionary in the temple. He was supposed to be perfect. We would have five children and I would stay home while he finished school and provided for us and LIFE WOULD BE GRAND, DAMNIT! I know...it's quite laughable now. Now that I am on the other side of my fairy tale life, I can see how detrimental that kind of thinking is. Because life isn't some fairy tale and I think if we could all learn from our experiences the way I find myself learning, we wouldn't want it to be a fairy tale. 

Marriage doesn't fix problems. Ugh. Groan. Sigh...
I feel like I've heard that message a million times. Suzanne, getting married won't fix your problems. And yet, I find myself arguing, "Well, maybe marriage doesn't fix everyone's problems but surely it'll fix mine..." because I'm all sorts of stubborn and I like to argue with reality.
But the reality is that marriage doesn't fix problems. This is something that has taken me a while to really grasp. Because if marriage gives me worth, it certainly would fix half of the problems I currently have. I've fought with these ideas time and time again but what I've learned is that the above statement is true.
Although marriage can be beautiful, it isn't going to fix your problems.

This is one of the reasons I still fight for myself and my recovery. I want to be married and I know a marriage would fail or at least be much harder if I step into it still entrapped by an eating disorder. I understand that...and so I fight.
I fight for myself and for my future. 

I was talking to a friend about this the other day---about how I believe it's possible to love my life without loving myself. It seems kind of backwards. You would think if I'm not happy with who I am, I wouldn't be happy with what I have but the truth is, that is my life most of the time. I struggle to look at myself in the mirror and believe that I am enough. I spend a lot of time thinking about the "if only's". But I recognize the good all around me. My friendships, my family, my children---each one brings so much light into my life.

I want to believe that I am capable of greatness. I want to believe that I can love myself fully someday.

It has been a long journey and I expect it to continue. But I often think about the future, when I'm old and gray and am looking back on the past. I imagine it will be truly amazing to be able to see the whole picture and realize that I never gave up on myself.

Because warriors don't give up.
And I am a warrior.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


I am not going to sit here and tell you that it is always going to be ok.
Because some days will be really crappy.
I don't care who you are or what your life is like, you will have bad days.
So it isn't necessarily a matter of making every day amazing---it seems like the heart of the matter is making sure we are strong enough to handle the days where we are punched in the stomach over and over.
We can choose our safe places. 
But sometimes our safe places are compromised.
We build them. They seem like they're strong. And then someone finds a way to destroy a piece.
We have to learn to rebuild them over and over again.
Because we are going to have to.
This is life.
Although we can find safety in outside sources, I think safety needs to generate from within.
Because "What can I change about this situation?" seems like a much stronger question than "Will you protect me from this change?"
It shouldn't be about what life gives or takes away--it should be about what we put into life and what we take away from the experiences we are given.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that everyone will love you.
They won't.
You will find that even on your most genuine of days, people will judge you frontward and backward. They might do it behind your back or they might do it to your face but it will happen.
Your job is to love you.
Your job is not to judge them.
Two wrongs don't make a right. But if you take one wrong and one right, you can feel peace knowing that you made the right decision.
People will call you ugly, horrible things. They will think you are someone you are not.
Life will knock you down.
Get back up.
You need to get back up.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that this rollercoaster ever ends.
I really don't think it does.
What I do think is that when we face the bad days, we get braver. And when we bask in the goodness of the good days, we have more gratitude.
Be your authentic you.
Love the you that you already are.
People might tell you it isn't good enough. But you're here. You're breathing. You're trying. You are good enough.
"As I began to love myself, I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today I know this is "AUTHENTICITY". -Charlie Chaplin-

Today this is my favorite quote.

Today I believe that authenticity is what keeps me going.

Sometimes I fight the feelings in my heart that tell me I don't hate people. Sometimes I want to hate people that treat me wrong. But I cannot and will not become a person that I am not because of the actions of someone else. I will not hate others because that is not who I am.

I fight to be authentic. I fight because I do not want to forfeit who I am for who someone believes I am.

We cannot rely on the actions of others to determine our lives.

I am going to get up tomorrow---and the next day, and the next day...---with genuine intentions to be me.
Although this looks different every single day, being authentic to myself is what keeps me able to empathize more openly and sort my feelings more efficiently.

I will not believe the negative things said about me because for every negative lie, there are a thousand positive truths.

Today I believe the truths.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Be The Good

I question my intentions a lot.

A lot. A lot.

This has so many pros and cons. On the one hand, I want to be secure in who I am and the choices I make. On the other hand, I want to make sure my intentions are accurately sincere.

Because what I really strive for is sincerity.

I am not a 1950's housewife who has the table set every night at 5:00pm and a perfectly tidy house. I am perfectly capable of being me without having a companion by my side. My sarcasm is thick, I'm often obnoxious, and I'm also one of the most compassionate people you will ever meet.

These aren't things I was taught. These aren't things that society or my parents have engrained in me from a young age.

My experiences have shaped me but they didn't create me. They molded the already existing me; the me who curses often and loves to dance and is sometimes so awkwardly open that it makes people squirm.

I was me before any of this began.

I may not always be confident but it only takes a small amount of courage for me to become a lion.

A friend and I were discussing this today---sincerity and so many things that encompasses. We started talking about Relief Society, which is a program that was created within the LDS church when Joseph Smith was the prophet. My favorite description of the Relief Society can be found in the church handbook and it states that Relief Society was established for "...the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan...".

The destitute.

Not the perfect. Not the "have it all together".

Relief Society is for those of us who don't have it all together.

Sometimes I just don't understand it. I don't understand why it isn't ok to sit down on Sunday and when the person next to you asks how you are doing, you say, "My husband is dealing with an  addiction right now and it has been really hard on me." and be able to talk about how life is hard and everyone has unique challenges and we are all in this together---no judgment---just unity and a whole lotta love.
Because in the above situation, the response might be, "I have been feeling worthless and I don't always believe the people in my life really love me." Or maybe the response might be, "I can't even imagine what that must feel like. Can I take you out for ice cream tomorrow so you can get some things off your chest?"
I have been LDS my entire life but through some of my most destitute times, I have seen this world in a completely different light.
And it is a light. It isn't a darkness.
I have seen beauty where most people would claim only dark clouds reside.

I used to struggle to have faith in humanity when I would catch glimpses of the news or experience hostility in various situations. I mean, hello...Ferguson? I didn't even have to be a news watcher to see the anger and hatred that can cause people to make horrific decisions. I wondered if maybe my broken-but-still-slightly-intact rose-colored glasses were just my imagination.
I wanted to see the good.

It took me a while to realize that instead of looking for the good, I have the ability to be the good.

I can restore someone else's faith in humanity instead of waiting for someone to come hand me my own dose of faith. And when I pass out smiles to the people I come in contact with, my faith in humanity is equally restored when I experience the majority of them smiling back.

All it takes is a tiny dose of bravery and a whole bunch of love.

I know we are getting there. I can feel it. I have experienced so many real moments in my own church and within my every day relationships. It is possible because we are capable.

Love wins, my friends. It takes love to battle the evil we are exposed to. Hate doesn't conquer hate. Love conquers hate.

I look forward to the day when judging each other holds no weight. I believe it will come. I believe the harder life gets, the more beauty we are able to recognize. Instead of focusing on the wrongs in the world, let's choose to be the rights. Let's choose to create a life we can be proud of individually---not a life we live because we feel pressure to be a certain way or fit a certain mold.

There are no molds. If there were, God would have created us all with the same exact physical features and identical life experiences.

I have realized that I don't have a mold. There is no one I need to be other than the person I already am. When I fall down or make a life decision that most people wouldn't agree with, I remind myself that this is who I am. People don't need to understand it. Honestly, I would never expect people to understand every decision I make.

You don't have to understand someone to love them.

We all have the capability to get acquainted with our own sincerities. Don't hide who you are out of fear.

Be you.

And I'll be me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Just Try Harder

I remember when I first became a stay at home mom back in 2010 and my kids were 2.5 years and 9 months old. I remember thinking to myself that I had it all.
I had a husband who was in school and working. I had gorgeous, healthy children. I had friends. I loved church.
Money didn't matter. We weren't ever rich but I didn't care. We payed our bills. We fed our children.
I was happy.
I had everything I had ever wanted.

It's been 4 years and 3 months since then. Everything has changed. Most of the things I loved don't feel existent right now.

I miss out on so many things with my children. Parties at school, playdates, moments when they just want their mom, etc. I'm not always there. I can't always be there.

I hate it.

I don't hate my job. I don't hate school. But I really, truly find myself resenting divorce because of the many changes.

A lot of the times I can get through the hard moments, trusting that there are also many beautiful moments ahead. I try to stay positive. I try to forgive and not judge and love the people around me.

But I don't always succeed. Today I didn't succeed.

Today it wasn't possible to be tough and hold back the tears like I normally do. I couldn't handle the stress.
I couldn't handle the thought of one more day where my kids would have neither of their parents at a school program to cheer them on.
And then I got a call that Ninja had an accident at school and I cried thinking about everything our divorce has put him through. He isn't as emotionally transparent as his sister but the scars are still there. The accidents and the finger-sucking and the baby talk---they are all signs that he is hurting and scared.

The guilt was weighing heavily on me. And along with the guilt, I was angry at the decisions that placed us all in this position. I thought I had let that all go or that I was at least getting better about letting it go but today it all came back.

Today it felt like a punch in the stomach.

All of these things I didn't choose that have effected my life in some of the most heart-wrenching ways just seem so unfair and messy.

When my heart feels this way, it's really hard to not question God. When everything first went down a year ago, I seriously wondered if He had made a mistake in allowing yet another hard thing into my life. Although I know He doesn't make mistakes, I still doubted my capabilities.

Let me rephrase that---I still doubt my capabilities. I do. It isn't a constant doubt but it shows up from time to time.

I used to wonder why certain people didn't seem as engaged at church or didn't attend every Sunday. I used to find myself wondering and maybe even judging people who were less active. Although I was a defiant teenager, I had never truly experienced those feelings {until this past year} and my lack of understanding caused me to think they must've not been trying hard enough.

It sounds so simple. Just try harder.

I love my church. I have a strong testimony and know that Jesus Christ died for me. But I struggle to feel like I belong. I often feel alone when surrounded by some of the most incredible people in my life who are there for me at church. I hold babies and make comments and sing hymns but it isn't always easy. In fact, a lot of the times it is really hard.

I struggle to keep my children in sacrament meeting. That has always been a challenge with my son. I try to stay patient but we usually end up in the hallways or we go late so I don't have to deal with it.

I struggle to stay in Relief Society---especially when we talk about eternal marriage or families. It is really painful to know you don't have what so many people have. It's hard to feel like people don't understand why you're single. It's hard to hear those lessons and feel like a piece of you is missing because your family is broken. You are no longer the "typical Mormon family".

I struggle to substitute in Primary callings. Because after that first hour of "heaven and hell" all I want to do is drop my kids off and breathe for two hours...and then go home and take a nap.

But I should just try harder, right? That's what I would've told myself a few years ago. I should go to church and set the example for my kids and practice more patience.

There are days I don't want to go to church. There have been moments in the past year where I've decided I wasn't going to go back. My testimony has always gotten me there but it doesn't take the struggles away.

It is possible to have a testimony and not want to go to church.

It is possible to feel an aversion to prayer or scripture study and not be a horrible Mormon.

It is.

I know what I want to teach my children. I still fight most weeks to get us all to church. But it is hard. Being a good Christian no longer looks the same way that it used to in my mind. Being a good Christian means trying---sometimes failing---but getting up and trying again. It means fighting for peace when peace seems nonexistent. It means trying to love myself the way my God loves me---and that includes not beating myself up for missing church or falling asleep without praying.

Although I often have an easier time talking about things "after the fact", I want today to be real. I am staying afloat. I am not swimming like a champion and I am not drowning. I am just struggling to float and not fall any further.
I don't necessarily doubt that we will get through this divorce and stand strong like the warriors that we are but somedays, like today, are just so hard.

I know my kids will see my sacrifices someday. I know they will understand when they are older. I'm just so done with missing out on so many things and feeling so exhausted from trying to be their mom and provide for them and giving myself time to be me.

It's probably not impossible---but it seems impossible today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I am a Child of God

 Tonight was a night of reading old blog posts.

I was reading through the posts of when our separation began and when that separation turned into a divorce.

It was hard to read because I can remember the feelings I felt as I wrote. Even on the most uplifting posts, I know how scared I was in those moments. I know how raw those feelings were.

I read through a few posts about my kids. I was reading about how it wasn't fair for them to have to share their parents and go through these trials. I was so worried about them. Their sweetness had turned to anger and sadness that seemed to last months. Some of the ways they react to situations now are things I noticed had started after their dad left.

But I think of all the ways they've grown.
They were so little back then. I felt so guilty putting my 5 and 4 year old through a divorce. It didn't matter that we were extremely amicable in front of them or that we talked positively about each other when the other wasn't around. Scratch that, it did matter. But they could still feel the changes and the stress and the anger.

I keep thinking about how much I've learned this past year. I am a different person than I was. I am a better person than I was. I am more resilient and less judgmental.
And then I think about my babies. Physically, they look so much older than they did a year ago. But they have grown much more than that. They are different. They are wiser. They are closer to their Heavenly Father.

Often times, instead of giving my kids answers to their every day challenges, I ask what they think they should do. Then I ask them what they think Jesus would do. At ages 6 and 5, they are grasping the concept that they are children of God so strongly.
Every day, as they each leave the house for school or babysitters, I tell them, "Mommy loves you. Jesus loves you. You're a child of God."
One day, as Ninja hopped out of my car for preschool and my mind was thinking about the fact that I was running late and had a busy day ahead, all I said was, "Goodbye. I love you." and a few seconds later, he poked his head back in the car and said, "I'm a child of God, mom!"
I haven't gone a day without saying it since then.

Two days ago, my little Warrior Princess came in my room and handed me a piece of paper.
As I read the words "I have worth. I am worthy of love.", I couldn't keep myself from smiling and giving her the biggest hug.

She sees that message every day of her life when she walks in my room and for some reason, those are the only two sentences on my 'whiteboard of positive messages' she reads outloud to me almost every day.
These same messages have been on my white board for 6 months now. They all apply and help me. And in turn, they help her.

I remember the first day she read "I have worth" and asked me, "Mom, what does that mean?". I got to sit on my bed and explain to my little 6 year old what true worth is and where it comes from.
I pray every night that she always remembers.

We aren't a perfect family. They are not perfect children. I am far from being a perfect mother. But I don't think perfection is the ultimate goal on earth. Perfection is something we attain when Christ makes up where we fall short.

Every day, I try to become like my Savior and every day when I fall short, He sends me reminders that I am still worthy of Him. I always will be. Whether He has to make up 10% or 80% for me, He still loves me.

I'm so proud of my children. I am proud that I am their mother and that we are together for eternity. I am proud of the choices they make and the love they show toward other people.
I love who they are. I love being able to witness who they are becoming.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

 "There's no one alive who is youer than you."

A month ago, I was trying to come up with ideas for my birthday post. I wanted something different and more vulnerable than the things I normally post---and might I add that I feel like I post a decent amount of vulnerability here.

When I woke up that morning, the only thing that seemed to fit was to thank God that I have been allowed 27 years of learning and growing on this earth. Whether 27 sounds old or young to you, it is such beautiful thing that 27 has brought me to this particular point in my life.

With 27 years of bravery under my belt, I realize just how many incredible things I can do.

A few months ago, I was working hard to get my ariel. I know, weird, right? I used to be able to tumble back and forth but never in my life had I successfully done an ariel. I decided 27 is going to be the year. So there you have it. Sometime this year, I'm going to be able to do an ariel. Impossible is not really a word I believe in.
Twenty-six was a huge testing year for me and I'm ok with that. Without this past year, I wouldn't be the Suzanne that I am.

Although there has been pain, I have gained confidence in my ability to be a single mother, a working mom, a student, and a good person. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of the things I have done.

I've hated myself a lot of this year. I remember days where looking in the mirror and seeing any kind of beauty seemed impossible. I remember thinking I'd never love myself or be loved again. I remember looking at my stretch marks and all of my imperfections from having kids and wondering how anyone would choose to marry someone like me.

But this year, I've learned that whoever ends up with me will be lucky because I have worth. For every negative thing that can be said about me, there are ten positive things to counteract it. I have the ability to love and be loved. I was a good wife. I will be a good wife again someday.

I am doing the very best that I can and that's what matters.

The other day, I was at the doctor's office and I had to be weighed. You guys, I was panicking! I have not weighed myself since I started eating disorder recovery because I'm working so hard to see my worth without a number attached.
Anyway, I saw my weight. Hmm. Ten pounds heavier than a few months ago.
A few months ago, that would've sent me into a spiral. But a few days ago, it didn't. Instead, I was grateful. I was grateful what that ten pounds represented. It represents strength and recovery and health and happiness. It represents becoming whole again.
I was surprised at my own reaction. I was surprised that any amount of compassion was able to be focused from me to me.
I was able to see straight through that number and find beauty. I was able to love the person that I am right now instead of panicking and wanting to change everything about her.

I'm a warrior. I've said that a lot this year. Sometimes I've believed it and sometimes I've said it because I wanted to believe it.
Today I believe it.

Instead of fearing the future, I plan on punching fear in the face and showing life what I'm made of.

So for my birthday post---a month late---I wanted to share a side of me that you may not see very often. I love music. In fact, music is definitely in the Top 5 of things that helped me through divorce. So many times I would be driving and crying and a song would come on the radio that comforted me and reminded me that I am going to make it.

In some of my darkest hours, the place where I turned for peace remained the same.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Today I Watched Porn

 I'm assuming that title caught your attention. And I'm glad it did. Whatever reason brought you here, I hope you'll stay and hear me out through the end.

Because today I did watch porn. I wish I could have prepared more for today or been "sick" during my Philosophy of Sexuality class but I don't have the best grade right now and I can't afford to miss any assignments.

So I went---knowing we were diving into our chapter on pornography.

I figured I would have the chance to reiterate my feelings about pornography use and that our discussion, although uncomfortable for me, would give me an opportunity to stand up for what I wholeheartedly believe in.

None of those things happened.

I got into class and our teacher was holding a dvd. I couldn't make out the title other than the phrase "feminist pornography" I prayed it would be a documentary like the last one we watched. I squirmed as I waited for class to start. And after taking attendance, he announced we would be watching a video and would have to write an essay on it before next Tuesday. And then he pushed play.

It wasn't a documentary. Or maybe it was. Yeah, I guess it would be considered a documentary since there were interviews mixed up between vulgar scenes. I tried not to look up after the first exposure. I knew I had to keep my composure so I started taking notes on any of the interviews I heard and tried to let my mind wander when the interviews weren't playing.

I guess I just don't get it. Now having been exposed to mainstream pornography, I am even more at a loss as to why some people don't think pornography is dangerous.

Among my anxiety, I felt a lot of sadness---that some women are treated poorly, that some women feel suppressed and choose this lifestyle, that some people can't feel satisfied in a loving relationship with just one other person.

I don't get it. I don't want to get it.
I believe in physical love, love between a man and a woman who have vowed to be with each other for eternity.

Today brought back pain. A lot of pain. And feelings of inadequacy.

I wish that pornography wasn't available like it currently is. I wish there wasn't a chance that my very own son or daughter could stumble across the videos I watched in class today. I wish that people viewed sex as more sacred than the media tells us it is.

Because when a person becomes addicted to pornography, they start to lose the real love in their life. They have a harder time differentiating between what is real and what is completely fake.
Pornography seems equivalent to selling your soul to the devil.
I felt Satan in that classroom today. I felt the darkness that came and I felt it leave as I left the class, praying to overcome my anxiety and finish my next classes.

If there is any truth to saying that pornography can "spice up your love life" and is healthy within a marriage, I would counter by asking, "Why take the risk?"

Why risk what you have for something that could possibly harm you and your relationship?

The people you love are not worth that risk. They aren't. Real love is more powerful than anything you will be able to find on a computer screen.

Real love will always be greater.

In case you're wondering how I reacted in class today, I didn't raise my hand a single time. I couldn't. My mind had shut down and I couldn't even stand up for my values because my brain was busy focusing on getting through the class without a meltdown.
I don't exactly know why my teacher would expose our class to that material. I think he thought it was necessary but I can assure you, it wasn't.
I'm not angry. I'm just sad.

Because I think my bubble had been holding on by a thread and today, it was completely popped. Today I was exposed to so much harshness that surrounds us.

Pornography is real and it is dangerous.

Protect yourselves. Protect your families.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What I Wish I Would've Known: Divorce

 I've been thinking lately about my divorce and how the last year {or even two years} played out. I made it through some pretty awful days but there are things I look back on and think, "Wow...I could've handled that a lot better than I did."
Because trauma can cause you to do some pretty crazy things and feel some pretty crazy feelings.

So I wanted to talk about that today; what I wish I would've done differently in my divorce.

I wish I wouldn't have yelled so much.
I wish I wouldn't have yelled at my husband and my parents and my children and myself. I wish I wouldn't have projected my anger at the people I love the most. Maybe my husband could understand why I was yelling because of the pain his choices were causing me. But my family members? No. Even if they understood and were patient, I could have dealt with my anger a little more healthy than I did. I could've smashed plates or thrown rocks at the wall or punched my pillow over and over instead of stuffing my anger until it exploded randomly at whoever was nearest.
I wish I wouldn't have gone numb for so long...and I also wish I could've stayed numb longer. Because right after he left, I went into fight or flight mode and I chose to fly away as far as I could go and pretend like everything was fine. I convinced people I was amazingly strong and that I wasn't lonely but the worst part was that I convinced myself I was amazingly strong and didn't need to grieve like a normal person.
So when the numbing went away, it was horrible. Instead of feeling the pain and heartache in the moment, I was flooded with it all at once, months after the fact.

I wish I wouldn't have doubted myself.
When my husband left, I was firm in my belief that my ability to cook and clean wasn't the reason he left. It didn't matter that he had told me those exact words, I knew it wasn't true. But after the numbing went away, I started to doubt my ability to be a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, and really, I just doubted my ability to be a good human being. I felt like I was worth nothing. My husband had never in our marriage said anything negative about my weight or my looks but because it was an insecurity I already had, I projected that as "the actual reason he left". It was the only thing that made sense to my broken brain. I didn't love my body so I just assumed he didn't love it either.
 I wish I would've asked for more help and felt less guilty when I received help.
Help during divorce is necessary. It just is. There were times I would be crying and a friend would stop by and just take my kids---no questions asked. I had so much help in some of my darkest times. But there were times when I needed help and should've let someone else into my home when I wouldn't. I felt guilty asking for more help but because of this, I had days that were harder than hard but that didn't have to be as hard as they were.
 I wish I would've thought about me more.
I thought about how divorce would affect my kids, how people would judge me, how people would judge my ex-husband, how my family would accept everything, and how unworthy I was. What I didn't think about was how much I was hurting and how much compassion I needed to have for myself. It was so easy having empathy for the hard things my children were going through and I even got to a point where empathy for my ex-husband became possible. But empathy for myself was non-existent. Instead I spent all of my "free time" at the gym or obsessing over my food intake or dreaming about dating and feeling anxious that no one would want to date me and making sure I was still spreading my time among my friends and dishing out time to new friends or numbing my mind with television.
I wasn't thinking about my heart and empathizing with the pain. I was beating myself down for all of the reasons I wasn't good enough. Self-care was non-existent even when it looked existent because I was doing things all for the wrong reasons. I was punishing myself, not loving myself.
I needed my own empathy. I needed to give myself compassion. And I didn't do it.
 I wish I wouldn't have gone off my anti-depressant.
Yup, it's true. I take drugs! I was on anxiety medication the day we separated because I had been getting anxiety for months leading up to the day that huge bomb was dropped on me---I now refer to that as my psycho-good intuition because there wasn't really any proof that things were really wrong. But I was worried that the numbness I was experiencing was as a result of my medication and I was worried that I'd go off the medication a year or two later and all of a sudden, I'd have all these pent up feelings from my divorce. So I went off of them right after our separation started. Weird. And the worst part was, it took me a while to realize how much that affected me during that time. I felt like the same old Suzanne but inside, I was going crazy. I was feeling crazy. I was experiencing anxiety that felt like what PTSD is described to feel like.
In case you're wondering, I no longer feel shame associated with my medication. My goodness, who freaking cares what people think of me swallowing a Zoloft every night? I get to choose what is best for me and I am choosing to help myself have a better life! So I'm sorry if you don't agree with that---actually I'm not really sorry but I do respect your opinion.
The main thing I wish I would've learned a year ago is that people make mistakes and that's ok.
A year ago, I was angry and I wasn't ok with the imperfections of others and my own imperfections. But it's ok that I made mistakes. It's ok that my ex-husband made mistakes. It's ok that my parents made mistakes.
Everyone does it.
We don't have some guide book to help us through our rough times. We figure it out on our own and sometimes, that includes a little trial and error {or a lot of it}.

Although there are things I wish I would've done differently, I've accepted that I can't change the past.

And the greatest part is, we've made it out alive so far! And not only are we surviving, most days we are thriving.

Divorce isn't the end of all happiness and peace.

I am happy. I have found peace.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fearfully, Faithfully, Beautifully

Once upon a time, there was a scared young woman who didn't like not knowing the future. She knew that the future could bring happiness but it was also full of uncertainty.

She was afraid to look in the mirror because she didn't know if she liked the person staring back at her.
She was afraid to be alone because the horrible stories in the news made her feel vulnerable to the world.
She was afraid to date because she knew what rejection felt like and it didn't feel good.
She was afraid to be herself because what if people didn't accept the real her?

Amidst her fears, friends would randomly say things like, "You are such a strong woman.", "My husband and I were talking about how any man would be lucky to have you as their wife.", "Thank you for helping me through that." and she wondered..."Do they see who I really am? Do they notice my flaws?"

The answer is yes, they do.

And they loved her anyway.

Because somewhere among the loudness and the lack of a filter and the short temper, they saw who she really was. They saw the good.

It was because of them that she continued to fight. It was because of what they saw in her that she began to notice some of the goodness too. She began to realize she isn't worthless or stupid or ugly.

She is loveable and funny and compassionate.

She couldn't have done this by herself. Even brave people need help. Two years of therapy, anti-anxiety medication, prayer, and love have helped her to be as brave as she could be. I don't believe God gave her this life because she was strong enough to live it. I believe He gave her this life because He knew He would help her live it. She isn't stronger than the average person. She is stronger than the girl she used to be.

And it's ok to not do it alone. It's ok to rely on professional help or need medication or some homeopathic remedy or friends and family. It's ok. It doesn't mean we aren't strong. Asking for help is a sign of strength. It takes bravery to know you cannot do this alone.

Some days, she wakes up and just feels so much compassion for herself and other days, she has to rely on the things people tell her. She has a list of compliments people have given her this past year to read on the days she has lost all faith in herself.

Today she is ready to fly.
Today she doesn't fear the future.
Today she trusts God's plan and knows that whatever happens, she is a fighter.
Also, she sees beauty today. In herself. In the world. In her future.

Friday, October 24, 2014

About A Boy

 I feel kind of bad that I slacked on the birthday posts this year. I'm usually blogging about my kids' bithdays the day after it happens because I'm so darn excited to talk about how special they are.

But work...and school...and being a single mom...and getting sick...you know, life happens!

So my Ninja boy turned FIVE! Have I mentioned he's my BABY?! And he's FIVE?!

It's true...

{Also I never mentioned I changed my kids' names on the blog. But I did. I let them pick because this is a blog about bravery and strength and my kids emulate that every day of their lives. So Spidey's name is now Ninja.}

Ninja is my favorite boy in the whole entire world.
He learned to crawl at 6 months old but refused to walk until he was 14 months old.
 He was born a climber. He could climb on my kitchen table at 9 months old. Hello, heart attacks!
 Ninja was a tiny baby. He was full term but weighed only 6 lbs 6 oz.
 That "small" thing changed quickly. At 2 months, he was over 12 pounds and by 6 months, he was close to 20 pounds. He was the squishiest baby and I loved to squeeze his arms and legs.
Around age 2, his chub turned back into teeny tiny and he's stayed there ever since. At his four year doctor's appointment, he was in the 4% for height and 6% for weight but this year, at his FIVE year check up, he went up to the 8% in height and 20% for weight. A small victory for a small boy. :)

Ninja is "the baby" and I guess I'm realizing I did that to him. He is my snuggly boy and I've let him get away with acting younger than he is. It's a HARD habit to kick but we are working on teaching him he is capable of chores and big boy talking and all that jazz.
 Ninja is a momma's boy. I love it. Lots of people told me I would LOVE having a boy because he would be a momma's boy but I didn't quite get it until he was born...and then I've loved every second of it. He has such a sweet heart and is so good at showing me he loves me.
 This FIVE year old is so quirky. His red hair and freckles are perfect for him because he is so silly and he love to be the center of attention.

He is a firecracker and often says the most random things.
 At FIVE years old, Ninja can write the first letter of his 8-letter name, he loves drawing pictures but usually they're scribbles, and he loves loves loves video games and Netflix.

Ninja is really intelligent and he learns things really well but if he doesn't want to learn it, he just won't do it. He likes to tell people, "I am in charge of me." and that is so true! It's something I've taught him over and over again. But he kinda uses that sentence to his advantage when he doesn't want to do things. {Sneaky boy...}
My ninja boy really thinks he's a ninja. That's why he picked that name. He is often found karate chopping the air or run at "super speed" around the house. Active is kind of an understatement when describing this boy. He is FULL of energy.

We had a great birthday for Ninja this year. It was so much fun going to Castles N Coasters and spending the day doing things he wanted to do. I look back on the past FIVE years with this boy and I can't imagine life without him. He has been such a blessing for me. He has snuggled up to me on my hardest days and made me laugh when I needed to laugh.

I am the luckiest mom in the world to have this little guy in my life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Power of Letting Go

Remember that overused song, "Let It Go"?
Oh, you do?
Yeah, me too.
I kind of wish that song wasn't overdone on every Youtube channel and Facebook page and meme on Pinterest because I actually really love it.
When I sing it around the house, I belt it as loud as I can.
Because I know.
I know what the power of letting go can do for a person.
I have been the recipient of some pretty painful experiences brought on by the choices of others and although it hasn't been easy, I have seen the power of letting go of anger and turning that into empathy.
And I don't use the word power lightly.
When you are able to let go of the anger you have toward another person, you start to see them as a person who has faults, just like you and I. You start to recognize that the hurt they have caused is probably due to a more deep rooted problem and wasn't specifically directed at you.
I know for me, the person who has hurt me the most is a person I can relate to now. I understand him. I see the choices he has made and I could've been the one to make those same choices if I had been in his situation. I understand the fear of losing everyone you love. I understand the fear of shame and judgement. I get it.
I hate that I get it.
I hate that he felt that way.
I hate that so many people endure these same fears on a daily basis.
The second I let go of my anger, it became clear why this past year played out the way that it did.
I still don't love it. And I still wish I could've done something to change it.
But it wasn't mine to change.
The only thing I can do now is try to understand the situation and have empathy for everyone who was involved---and for me, that includes my ex-husband.
It includes the heartache my children have faced.
And it includes having empathy for myself.
When I make a wrong choice or I say something really stupid, I am going to try and have empathy for this imperfect person that I am.
She needs my love.
She needs my empathy more than anyone else in the world.
The hardest person for me to love is the person typing up this post. It is hard to look past every imperfection and see what other people can see. It is hard to process the thoughts in my head and realize they don't make me a bad person.
The power of letting go has allowed me to show empathy to the people around me who have hurt me.
When I let go, I am unstoppable---which is ironic since I have an eating disorder and OCD, two places where letting go is ESPECIALLY hard and where I feel like I'm in control. But the reality is that letting go means letting go of the reins and saying, "God, I may not understand all of this but I'm going to trust you anyway."
"Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway."
I have seen the middle of some pretty dark storms but with the help of my Heavenly Father, I have been able to endure them and find empathy for the creators of those storms.
{Warriors don't give up.}

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fearfully Brave

I shared this picture on my Facebook last Sunday because I was struggling to figure out how I was going to make it another day.
Last Sunday, I was so defeated. I had been parenting alone for over a week with only one 4 hour break. I hadn't had an overnight break from my kids in a month. My house had been hit by a tornado of messy, sticky children and I just didn't feel like I could keep up. And that Sunday night, I had found out that I was most likely going to be parenting alone for another 7 days.
It doesn't seem like a lot. It's just 7 days, right? But between work and school and meetings and homework and cleaning and parenting...I could barely stand the anxiety I was feeling.
I layed down on my bed and cried.

But after some sleep and snuggles from the children who make my life full of ups and downs, I took life one day at a time.
{And I do have to say that the kids' dad ended up taking off two days of work to help out}

The thing is, I will always be a work in progress. Divorce didn't come with some handbook on how to do everything correctly. I've gotten so darn angry sometimes, I've felt so defeated sometimes, and other times, I've felt immense amounts of relief and happiness. This isn't something I worked into my life and thought, "Well, that looks like it might be fun to try out!" I didn't birth two children with the intentions of raising them 75% of the time on my own.

So there are days I fall so far down that I'm not sure I can crawl my way to the top. There are days I get anxiety about really simple things because I'm afraid that my life could be ripped out from under me once again.

This life I live wasn't some dare. It wasn't about two stubborn people who weren't willing to work on their marriage so they just decided divorce would be easier. On August 23rd, 2013, divorce wasn't something I would've thought we would be facing and yet, a day later I was staring the possibility of divorce right in the face.

I deal with the backlash of divorce every day. My daughter still cries a lot that her dad isn't there to tuck her into bed most nights. Yesterday she told me that she will never be ok from all of this.

I got through this week because my friends and family carried me. I got through this week because I prayed and my Heavenly Father sent me miracles. I don't need these things every week but this week, I did. I needed extra help and it was there for me.

Life is just one challenge after another, mixed with a lot of beauty to make each challenge worth it. This week didn't disappoint. Along with the anger and the anxiety, I was filled with joy throughout each busy day. I was able to smile and laugh and be a mom and work and go to school and be successful. I was able to buy a new pair of shoes and take my kids out for a birthday dinner at Red Robin (Did I mention my little guy turns FIVE this week?!!). I was able to read scriptures with my kids before bed two nights and listen to General Conference with them this weekend.

It isn't all bad even though sometimes the bad tries to consume me and convince me that my life sucks.

Although I'm exhausted and I often feel unable to take another step, I've kept going so far and I plan to keep going from here on out.

I'm going to make it. You're going to make it.

The future I had hoped for has burned to the ground but in it's place, I can choose to rebuild a new future.

I'm going to make it.

It doesn't matter what I face. I have faith that with the help of my family and friends and my God, I will be able to wake up to a new tomorrow each and every day.

When I am consumed with fear, someone always seems to be there to remind me that I am worth it. I am worth every ounce of love another person is capable of giving. Although I was abandoned and heartbroken last year, I am still worthy of love. I am worthy of someone's eternity.

I am worthy because I am a daughter of God and I believe He has a plan for me.

I am brave because I chose to wake up and live today.

I am breathing through my fears and that is brave.

Being brave does not mean never being afraid.

Monday, September 22, 2014


 Raising children is hard.
Going to school is hard.
Working is hard.
Keeping my house clean is hard.

Trying to do all four of them as a single mom is hard.

And lately, I feel like I've been failing in at least 3 of these categories at a time. I've been so overwhelmed. My eyes start to droop around 7pm because I'm just so exhausted. I don't know if I've ever felt this exhausted, not even as a mom of a newborn. But maybe I just forgot what that felt like.

I've had so many nights where I lay in bed and wonder how I'm going to get everything done the next day. How am I going to have time to sweep the floor and fold some laundry and do two homework assignments and give my kids quality time with their mom?

And the thing is, I don't have time for it all. That would explain the sticky floors, the sink full of dishes, and the laundry that's been sitting in the washer for a few days. It would also explain the amount of tv my kids have watched in the past week.

I've felt like a failure so many times in the past week and most nights, I'm so close to tears when I think about the times I told Petey she had to pack her own school lunch or get her and her brother breakfast because I just couldn't do it.
But we've pushed through. When I feel like I can't keep doing this, I keep doing it anyway. I just focus on one small step at a time.

Today as I was thinking about one of my favorite motto's, "I can do hard things", my mind went back to 17 year old me.
 This is her. Her name is Kissing Sun Firefly and she spent six weeks of her summer learning how to make fire out of wood and a piece of rope, cooking with a tin can and dried foods, hiking 20+ miles a week with everything she had on her back, and sleeping under the stars every night.

Out there, I learned what it means to do hard things. There were so many nights I would cry myself to sleep because I was so lonely out there. I often felt misunderstood by my parents and even by my group of youngwalkers and trailwalkers. That first week was physically exhausting and I got so dehydrated that I was vomiting uncontrollably during one of my first big hikes.

I remember feeling like I would die out there. I remember being so embarrassed that I had gotten dehydrated and I wondered how I would ever make it. But I kept focusing on one more step and then one more and one more until finally, I had made it to our week's destination. I remember the tall grass, the ants all over the dirt, and the girl with the curliest blonde hair I'd ever seen reading her Book of Mormon to me to calm me down. I layed there under the sun, wondering how I had gotten from point A to point B without dying.

I felt like I had accomplished something so incredible that day.

A few weeks later, we were hiking through a dried up river bed and I had my hands through my sleeping bag/backpack and all of a sudden, I tripped and my hands weren't able to catch my fall. But my face did. I could feel my lip swelling as the blood ran down my chin. I couldn't do this anymore! Hiking was too hard. I couldn't handle being out in the middle of nowhere and getting hurt. But I kept going that day. I cried a lot because my battle wound really hurt but I kept hiking and we made it to our destination. That afternoon, I walked down to the dried creek bed and sang, "For Good" from Wicked over and over again. I cried. I sang. I listened to the wind. I felt peace. I knew I could finish this hard thing. I knew I could work things out with my parents and believe in myself.

I knew I could do hard things.
ANASAZI taught me lessons I still apply in my life. It was a turning point in my life. I was strong before ANASAZI but when I came back from those six weeks, smelling worse than death but feeling happier than I had in a long time, I was a warrior.

And I'm still a warrior.

I have felt so much failure recently that I have to take a step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes the small picture doesn't show me what I've accomplished because it emphasizes all of the things I'm doing wrong.

But the big picture---the big picture shows me how far I've come and how much I am capable of enduring.

So tonight, I'm not going to focus on my messy house or my children that went to bed in their school clothes. I'm going to focus on the fact that I worked five hours and came home and did homework with my daughter while babysitting two extras, and then I took 3 online quizzes and got all A's and wrote an essay.

And now I'm here and it's ok that I'm still not choosing to clean. I've done enough for today.

I can't do it all but I can do enough.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Breathing, Living, Learning, Growing

I am a huge fan of music. Music helps me cope with a lot of things in my life, especially this past year.
Lately, I've been going back to the same two songs most days.

Colbie Callait's 'Try': I have been listening to this on repeat as I sit in the carpool pick up lane at my daughter's school and start to feel anxious because that 20 minutes in the carpool lane is often my only quiet time to think about life. I turn it on when I look in the mirror and realize I was brave enough to fight my eating disorder and get myself in recovery months ago and now I'm here---and it seems like just yesterday I was there. And then I start to worry because am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I smart enough? Am I a good mother? Am I worthy of someone marrying me and taking on the responsibility of my children? Will I be wonderful enough that a man would choose to do that when he could marry someone who doesn't have kids and an ex husband?

These are real thoughts and they run through my head a lot. A lot.

"You don't have to try so hard. You don't have to give it all away. You just have to get up. You don't have to change a single thing."

I feel so unworthy of dating. I feel so unworthy of love. But Colbie helps me remember how hard I'm trying and how I don't have to do that. The right guy and the right friends will love me not for how hard I try but for who I am---for who I am right this very moment.

Christina Perri's I Believe is also at the top of the list. Everytime I hear the last line of the chorus, I can feel in my heart the exact words being sung.

"I have died so many times but I am still alive."

Because I have died. I have felt loss and abandonment and insecurity times a thousand this year.

But I am still alive. I am still fighting. I am still moving on with my life.

I'm trying to be the mom my kids need and the provider they need and still be me and do things for myself.

If you're wondering how well that's working for me, refer to my mention of anxiety above...

But this is life and I'm fighting through it. I'm still breathing. I'm still waking up every morning.

These past few weeks have had a lot of hard moments intertwined with the normal busy chaos. I was planning a trip to Las Vegas with some friends and in that same week, Spidey started having meltdowns that I was leaving him so much.
I tried to spend quality time with both kids before leaving but as I drove away that night, I felt so much guilt. Because although I knew I needed some time to myself, I felt like the worst mother for walking away at the worst possible time.
I was having an incredible time. The days were some of the best I've had in a long time. But each time Spidey would call and cry, I would feel so torn between relaxing and just getting back to him and holding him.
Each day, I was laughing and relaxing and having some of the best conversations with some of my favorite people and each night, I prayed so hard that Spidey would feel comfort and that he could just enjoy his time with his dad.
Just leaving on this trip was brave for me. I have never been on a girls trip that didn't involve family members. I knew that when we started planning this, it would be tricky. Because although I have a few friends I tell everything to, I have so very many friends who mean so much to me and I've never been a fan of "clicks".

But it ended up being totally fine and I'm grateful for that because I worried about it. And I'm not the only one who worried about it.
These girls have been through a lot with me. Three of them spent the evening at the temple with me the night my husband left me. The other two have been equally incredible this year. I know this trip wasn't just planned by me and it definitely wasn't for me alone but it certainly was a perfect way to remember where I was a year ago and look at where I am today.
These friends were some of the first to know what was happening as my separation turned into divorce and they have checked in on me, even when I just wanted to stay in bed all day and cry.
Visiting the Las Vegas temple was high on my list and I'm so glad we fit it into our weekend because it was one of the highlights. I had the opportunity to really feel peace and relax and I stopped worrying about the kids for a while and think about what I needed in those moments.
Did I mention I was brave enough to wear my Porn Kills Love tshirt as we walked down the strip of Las Vegas?

The second we decided to go to Vegas, I knew I wanted to wear this shirt because this subject is something I believe so strongly in.

This is something I will never back down from. Ever.

As fearful and intimidated as I get around people, I just cannot take a back seat when the subject of pornography is brought up.

This week, in my Philosophy of Sexuality class, we watched an amazing video by the XXX Church about how porn kills. It was powerful and yet, I already knew what most of my class would think about it. As the video started, so did the snickers. The girl in front of me kept whispering to her neighbor, "That's so dumb. Porn kills what?!" and I wanted to shout, "PORN KILLS LOVE! IT KILLS MARRIAGES AND FAMILIES AND CAREERS!"

I could feel my heart beating all the way from my forehead to the tips of my toes. I felt like the video was going on forever and I wanted it to end because I knew what would happen next.

When it finally ended three hours eight minutes later, my teacher asked what our thoughts were and without another second, my hand shot up in the air. I took a deep breath and said something very similiar to this:

I know that my opinion won't be very popular among this class. I could hear the snickering and the confusion of what porn kills. I could see the eye rolls and the shaking heads. And I get it. Before last year, I didn't quite understand what pornography was capable of either. But my marriage was ruined because of pornography. My husband left me last year and my kids have had to endure our divorce and all of the pain that comes with their feelings of abandonment. Porn kills love and even if you think that statement is dramatic, I am living proof that it can be a true statement.

Pornography addiction has caused enough trauma in my life that I no longer am willing to sit in a room and not share my opinion if the subject is brought up. I knew I would not have an audience of people who understood what I have lived through but I will never regret that opportunity I had to share a part of my story with a room full of young college students.

I used to view pornography as bad mainly because of my religious beliefs but I never really knew what an addiction to pornography is capable of doing to an individual, to a marriage, and to a family.

There were some hard moments, walking around Vegas and seeing pornography and a lot of other things that made my heart so sad. This really is the world we live in.

I guess if I could just have one wish come true from all of the things I've learned it would be that each and every one of you who decides to click on my posts and read my words will do whatever you can to protect your families from pornography. And also that you'll love the people around you and have compassion. We can't understand everyone's situation but we can make a goal to try and remember that everyone has a story and everyone has trials. Try not to be hard on the people around you.

I am still alive tonight, friends. Although I've been so broken for so long, I see healing and the possibilities that come with moving on. When I look back on everything I've done this past year, I am hopeful that this next year will be full of even more growth.

God stretches me and teaches me and I am trying my hardest to learn what He wants me to learn.