Monday, April 28, 2014

The Togetherness Project

A month or so after my husband moved out, one of my friends from high school messaged me on Facebook with some supportive words and a link to a blog post that she thought might help me.

Pioneer Woman was a post that changed my perspective and helped me feel like there could be support in the decisions I was making. I was feeling backed into a corner and I wasn't sure whether to fight or flight.

I felt an instant connection to the words on Jacy's blog and I spent some time reading posts upon posts upon posts to learn more about this Brave Warrior Woman who I had never met.

Gathering from her blog posts, I assumed Jacy lived in Utah so when I emailed her to tell her how much her blog had helped me in my journey, I was surprised when she emailed back to tell me she lived literally 20 minutes away from me. What?!?

I kept on reading Jacy's blog and she would sometimes refer to The Togetherness Project and I was a bit intrigued by what seemed like a community of women who had been in similiar situations as myself. But I was nervous. Oh so nervous. I knew NO ONE besides my friend and at the time, I wasn't sure if she was going to attend the conference.

But through Jacy's blog, I came across an incredible post written by Tc and from there, I reached out to her and met her in person...kind of by force. :)

What I'm trying to say from all of this blog tagging and name dropping (because in my world, these people are famous) is that I feel like my connection to The Togetherness Project was a bunch of tiny little pieces that created a completed puzzle.

So I finally signed up. I did it. It was a step of bravery for me and this is my year of BRAVE so I did it.

Weeks upon weeks before TTP (The Togetherness Project) and I started to look forward to this band of amazing women who were very supportive of me. Countdown had begun. I had hope that I would find new friendships and a healthy amount of support and also that I would be able to support other women and love them.

My vision of TTP was almost spot on. Support, love, friendships---it was all there.

Mark Bell started the day off with a bang, teaching us about empathy vs. sympathy. "Sympathy drives disconnection. Empathy is feeling with people. When does an emphatic sentence start with, "At least."?" I connected to this message because having gone through a few crappy things in my life (infertility, divorce, etc.), I've heard a lot of these messages. At least you have two kids. At least your husband didn't die. At least you get breaks from your kids every other weekend. For the most part, I could understand that when people would say these "At least's", they were trying to help me feel better but once in a while, those sentences just plain hurt. The phrase "at least" seems to minimize the pain I'm feeling because at least I don't have it worse.

The other message I wanted to touch on was a class taught by Marilyn Tenney. If you've known me a long time, you might know her as well. Marilyn was a youth leader in my church growing up. I was so excited to attend her class just to see her and her class ended up being my favorite! I really related to the things she spoke about regarding "Codependency as a Trauma Response". I have had a hard time in my outside world (my world outside of TTP and the women who get this trauma) explaining how traumatic this has been for me. I feel like I get a lot of weird looks when I refer to my divorce as betrayal trauma because it's not like he did anything to me. I wasn't abused.Abuse is outwardly traumatic and everyone agrees but it's hard to recognize trauma that is all emotional. There is no proof and it's harder to understand. I felt shame for even feeling like I had suffered trauma because I felt like maybe I'm just overreacting. One of the first things Marilyn taught was, "If it affects how I see my world, that's trauma." Then she went on to explain that I need to, "Identify the truths and lies of my shame." Why am I feeling this shame? What are deep-rooted feelings behind all of this?

I could go on and on about codependency and what I have learned from those feelings. I had a late night/early morning talk with a great friend (you know, the night before the conference when we pulled an ALL NIGHTER) about how I hate myself when I start feeling codependent. I can hardly stand it! When I start feeling lonely, I get angry at myself because I WANT TO BE INDEPENDENT!
My friend taught me that there is a difference between being codependent and lonely. They are not the same thing. When I'm lonely, it isn't because I'm weak, it is because we, as human beings, want to feel connection with other people.

Honestly, I'd pull an all nighter all over again, despite the effects on my body from 2 days post-all-night, to learn what I learned that night---and that was BEFORE the conference had even started!

There were so many other amazing speakers and classes that I attended. I learned so much about myself, about my situation, and about the strength I CAN have in any situation!

Not only can we do hard things, we can do AMAZING things! As human beings, we have the power in any situation to come out on top.

Together, we can rise above.


tkme2mts said...

Hi Suzanne~ I loved your post!! Thank you for sharing things from TTP, especially since I couldn't go this time. (I went to SLC last October.) I'm so happy you found all of us, and LUCKY you to live so close to Jacy and Tc!! ~Shauna (on FB)

Kilee Marie said...

BAH! LOVE IT! LOVE YOU! Holy capslock :) I'm so glad I met you. You're amazing.