Thursday, January 22, 2015

Loss of Trust vs. Betrayal

Loss of Trust vs. Betrayal

This has been a hot topic on my mind for---oh---the past 7 years of my life. It started out as something I didn't understand and wanted to learn about. But somewhere down the road, I started to figure out how these particular labels are applied to my own life. How does loss of trust affect me versus being betrayed by someone?

When someone is dishonest, our first reaction is to lose trust in them. This seems like the obvious reaction, no matter how long it may last. I think of this as a chain breaking. One of the links snaps and the chain separates.
Although it takes some work, a broken link of a chain is fixable. Depending on how many links have broken, it may take a while but it isn't hopeless.
You can reattach links and even work hard to make them stronger than the last time.
But betrayal is different. Betrayal is taking that same chain and placing it on top of a bomb. When the bomb goes off, the chain is broken into a thousand tiny pieces and some of them hit you. How do you put that chain back together? How do you fix the wounds you now have?

Betrayal throws reason out the window.

Betrayal always involves a loss of trust. But a loss of trust does not always involve betrayal. 
Betrayal is an action, a verb. The dictionary defines it as "to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to". According to the dictionary, betrayal goes far and wide beyond lying. It is deceit. It is telling someone you're going to be loyal and directly contradicting your words by your actions.

A few months ago, a friend was asking me a series of hard questions, most of which I refused to fully answer. Questions like, "Should I stay? Should I go? Do you think there's a betrayal 'point of no return'?" Each of these questions has individual answers---not individual to the question but individual to the person asking.

Should you leave him?
I don't know. 
That all depends on how much you can handle. If you've lost yourself and are miserable, maybe you should. But maybe you have hope that you can trust him again if he is willing to make changes.

Betrayal seems like the definition of GREY. It isn't black and white ever. Ever ever.

Everyone who has felt a form of betrayal has their own unique experience.

For me, betrayal caused anxiety. I had never dealt with anxiety of this magnitude ever before in my life. Betrayal caused me to need medication to function for a while---which I am completely ok with. In fact, I'm grateful for it.

I can remember a time at the beginning of this past school year when I was waiting in the pick-up line for my daughter. It was the first time of the day where I had a quiet 20 minutes to myself and each day, as I would dwell on things I needed to get done and people I needed to see and places I needed to go, a surge of anxiety would take over my chest and I would have to close my eyes and take deep breaths.
Most of the time, I would tell myself, "Suzanne, calm down. You know nothing is wrong right now. Nothing bad is happening. You shouldn't be getting anxious." but every once in a while, I'd get impatient and angry with myself.

As I was telling my counselor this last week, kind of proud of myself for usually being patient but also recognizing that I wasn't always dealing with it very well, she asked me if my words were self-honoring to my anxiety.


She said those words and for a while, I wasn't focused on anything else she said (Sorry, therapist...) because those words were the perfect label for what I was trying to make sense of in my head.

I wasn't honoring the fact that I am dealing with a lot of betrayal trauma. I wasn't allowing myself to feel anxious without trying to shut the feelings down as quickly as I could.

I have a strong belief that betrayal trauma is real. I am trying to be more accepting of the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart---the good and the bad---because each thing I think and feel has a purpose. Each reaction I have, even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else in the world, is a part of my reality.

And it's ok.

It's ok to work through trauma and act super crazy sometimes. It's ok to have fears and anxiety. Because I have been betrayed and I understand why those feelings come and go. I understand why I get anxiety. If I looked at my story as someone else's, I'd tell that girl, "Give yourself a break. Don't get upset when you get anxious. You have been through a lot. It is scary. And you're doing the best you can right now."

Because I am doing the best I can. I am hanging on by a thread sometimes and thriving other times. I stay up until 2am and I go to bed at 8pm sometimes. I cook my kids a healthy dinner sometimes and other times, I hand them a piece of bologna and a banana and call it a night.

Each and every day, all we can do is try to do the best we can---not the best our sister or neighbor or best friend can---just the best we can be.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


 I'm trying.

I'm trying to remember who I was as a carefree little girl who didn't have a clue that I'd someday equate my worthiness to my weight, to my marriage, to my whole outward appearance.
Sometimes I try to dig deep and remember her but often times, I find it impossible.
She seems impossible.
Did she really even exist?

I've thought so much about all of the events in my life and how they've shaped me, good and bad.
There is a lot of bad, friends. 
Because the world told me that unless I was skinny, I wasn't pretty. The world told me that without money, I would never be happy. The world told me that unless I had a boyfriend or a husband, I must not be good enough.
This didn't come from one source. It seemed to come from every corner I would turn. Magazines. Commercials. Movies. Even the Disney shows I watched seemed to be telling me my best plan for happiness was to be skinny and always have a boy to love me.
I believed those things. 
Hell, I still believe those things...

I remember in high school, I liked this boy. We were in marching band together and during football season, we would spend hours on Friday nights together, either on a bus or in the band room. I would think about it all week and hope that this was the week---the week he would cuddle with me or kiss me or something! I just wanted him to show me my worth! I wanted him to prove to me that I was beautiful!

It never happened.
Instead, he dated my best friend and I got to watch from the sidelines, as my heart felt like shattering.

This was my real life in high school. Not very many other things mattered. I didn't really care about my school work---I just wanted to feel loved. I was searching for worthiness. And might I add, I was searching for worthiness in all of the wrong places.

I wasted so much of my high school experience, waiting for someone to love me---never realizing that the most important thing would be loving myself.

I never found my worthiness in high school. I don't even know if I can say I found my worthiness after high school.
In fact, I think I can confidently say that I didn't find my worthiness after high school.
I got married, had two babies, became a stay-at-home-mom, and suddenly, I found myself divorced.

Divorced. Overweight. Worthless.

I think I had convinced myself that I knew my worth when I was married. But the thing is, I was married---I had a man who automatically proved my worthiness---and when that was over, I found myself struggling all over again---and even more-so since the rejection hurt so much worse this time.

I don't think I've ever really taken the time to think about my worth as an individual daughter of God. I've seen glimpses but I don't know if I've ever had the opportunity to really grasp it before.

A part of me finds this concept to be foreign and highly unreachable. But then there is the part of me filled with faith and hope, yearning to feel as loved as my God intended me to be.

I don't quite know where to start, to begin this healing journey of my worth. I feel like I've taken so many different roads and each one of them has taught me something but I still doubt. I'm still so afraid that without marriage and weight loss, I won't be able to reach my full potential as the woman I want to be. I still feel somewhat worthless and abandoned and fearful of the future. I still question whether the people who say they love me really do---or whether they're just in my life because they feel sorry for me.

I'm at a point in my journey where I'm confused and as much as I hate being confused, I think this is where I'm supposed to be. I think I'm going to let myself stay confused until I can learn in my own time what my individual worth is.

I think it's ok that I don't have all the answers right now.

They'll come when I'm ready for them.

In the meantime, I'm going to hold on.

I'm going to try not to freak out over how busy life is and how much time I lose every day with my kids and my friends.
I'm going to continue on in school and get myself one step closer to my end goals.
And I'm going to try to love my life as much as possible. Whatever that looks like to me.
Some days, it might be only five minutes and other days, it'll last hours.
But I'm going to enjoy the moments where I'm not anxious and scared and angry.

I'm going to try to be authentic to myself.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Anchor to the Good

 Sky high and fearless---that is a real picture of me when I was a little girl. I used to climb to the top of our incredibly tall swing set and feel the wind on my face and just breathe. I'd sit on the top metal bar and watch the cars go down the streets and the people walking on the sidewalks.

That was my place.

Very few times did the fear of falling come to my mind but it never stopped me from climbing up to the top and feeling like I was on top of the world.

As a young girl, it was a fun place to climb. As a teenager, it was a place I would go to escape my pain.

My kids play on that swing set now. I watch them from my parents' kitchen window and imagine I am the young version of myself again, the little girl who needed someone to understand her a little bit better.
Sometimes I mourn the parts of my childhood that were sad. Other times, I smile because I love that little girl so much. I love 'young me'. Maybe that seems weird but whenever I see things in my children that remind me of myself as a child, it makes me happy.

Because I am her and I know what she needs. I know how she felt. I know all of the genuinely compassionate things she felt as a little girl. She is incredible to me.

Last week, I had a super rough night---or couple of nights. I wish the hard nights would stop but I guess that's never going to happen. But as I laid in my bed and wrote in my journal, I was thinking about everything that has happened and I was starting to blame myself all over again.

This is what anxiety does to me. 

I was worried that my divorce was too fast and that I had jumped into this new life without waiting for a fourth or fifth answered prayer that this was right---as if the first three answers were no longer valid. 

I started to second guess my friendships to some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I couldn't believe that they really love me. I started to think that I was probably just a girl with a sad story who everyone feels sorry for so they invite her to hang out.

I was crying while messaging a friend about my pity party and she stopped me right in my tracks and said, "Ok, I'm stepping in now! No No NO! Now you're making that up in YOUR head because you anchor to all of the self critic talk, instead of anchoring to what you know is true. You're amazing. You have awesome friends who are trying to protect you. You have been through hell and back and you don't give yourself enough credit for the amazing amount of crap you've been through and have to deal with. Let yourself feel those feelings of hurt but don't anchor to them. Anchor to the good."

Anchor to the good.

That phrase really spoke to me. Anchor to the good. I like simple messages that carry deep meanings. They are easier for me to remember and apply.

The next day, I went straight to my white board and wrote that beautiful message on it.
I pass by it multiple times a day.

When my friend first said those words to me, I thought they would be easy. I am a generally optimistic person and I've always felt like I can pick the good out of the situation and focus on it most of the time.

But it has been harder than I thought! Because I've been dealing with so much anxiety and shame that finding the good isn't always easy.

Often times it bothers me that I haven't yet figured out who I am now. I am a different person than I used to be and sometimes it's hard for me to understand myself. It's hard to understand the anxiety or the anger or the shame because even though I have felt all of those things in my life, I didn't recognize them as much as I do now. They weren't as debilitating as they are now.

And a huge part of me resents that. A huge part of me gets angry with this new person because I just want her to calm down and stop being so scared of life.

I want her to trust. 

But if I take a step back and look at her as if she isn't me, I can see why she is scared and why she doesn't like to trust. I can see why daily activities can give her anxiety. Because the day she was hurt the most was just a normal day with normal activities and it changed her life forever.

I hope that someday I will be able to overcome my fears. I hope that I will be able to live more freely and trust and love and commit.

But today all I feel like doing is climbing back into bed and never coming out of my room.
Because at least my bed is safe. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Beautiful Heartbreak

When I was diagnosed with infertility in August of 2011, my world seemed to come crashing down. It was on that day, August 17th, that I found fear knocking on my front door.
I spent those first two months crying most of the time and shutting myself off from my friends and family. I didn't know how to be around anyone without feeling so incredibly awkward.

My mom, sisters and I headed off to Time Out for Women after one of my really hard weeks. {I blogged about that here.} I wasn't sure what I would get out of it. I wasn't sure I wanted to be there and have to see people and fake a smile.

It was at that conference, in November of 2011, that I heard Hilary Week's new song, Beautiful Heartbreak. I remember watching the video and sobbing uncontrollably next to my sister. I had already learned about the beauty of infertility. The friendships I made, the empathy and compassion I learned---in only two months, although I was struggling so much and prayed daily for another child, I knew deep down in my heart that my trial was filled with so much beauty.

Beautiful heartbreak.

Those words would genuinely become my mantra for the next 3+ years.

As each trial would hit {oddly enough it was every August for three years straight}, I would go through a period of grieving and pain but almost immediately, I could also pick out the beauty involved.

I would listen to that Hilary Weeks song on repeat, laying in bed, feeling so heartbroken and alone. I would pray that God would show me a glimpse of the beauty ahead and each time, He would. Sometimes there was so much beauty that it confused me.

I thought going through a divorce couldn't involve so much beauty mixed in with the heartache. But it could and it did.

For the past few years, my sisters and I have been trying to find a feasible way to record a cd for my parents. My mom had asked for one in the past but between finances and time, we couldn't make it happen.

This year, we decided to push forward and make it happen. At times, it didn't seem like we would get it done. It took a while to find a studio within our budget and since we have a sister who lives in Virginia, scheduling was a little tricky.

But we did it. We each recorded a solo, a duet with a sister, and 2 songs with all four of us---and a bonus track of a song we sang with my brother.

The day I went in to record all of my songs, I wasn't really that nervous. I felt good about the song I had picked and was excited to sing the other songs I'd be recording.

The first song went well. The second, third, and fourth songs I recorded went well. And then it was time for my solo. I had practiced for weeks and knew I could do it well but the second I got in the booth, my heart started pounding. I don't think it was really nerves---just emotions. I knew this song was perfect for me. I had known that for years. I wanted it to be perfectly sung but instead, it was perfectly felt.

Every time I listen to it, I remember what it felt like to sing it that day. It means so much to me to have this recording forever. It means so much to me to have the entire cd of recordings. They are all beautiful.

But this one contains more than beauty. It represents a huge part of my journey.

And although my journey is far from over, I am grateful for the beauty I have been able to witness in my life up to this point.

Some of my favorite posts about my beautiful heartbreaks:
The Tornado
My Messy Beautiful
No One is Youer than You
Fearfully, Faithfully, Beautifully

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Messy Transitions

Four days in.

This year has been a whirlwind already.

I spent the night before New Years in the hospital with some ovarian cyst problems. The next day, I worked a full day and spent the night at Brian Reagan with my family. On January 1st, I started cleaning and purging things we don't use and organizing the things we have.
These past four days I have organized room after room after room in my house.

Two of our bunnies have passed away. One on Dec. 29th and one on Jan. 1st. Princess Seal is still going strong and spends her nights in the kitchen so she doesn't freeze.

The kids were gone for 5 whole days. I spent most of that time working and cleaning but I was able to squeeze some friend time in there too.

I spent eight hours of my Saturday at traffic school due to a red light ticket. Am I the only one who didn't know that if you get a red light ticket and you pay the ticket, you STILL have to pay for and attend traffic school? So $400 later, here we are. Here. We. Freaking. Are.

I just got my kids back last night and today, our ward made an announcement that the boundaries would be reassigned.

I get it. I'm dramatic. I recognize that. I was immediately worried because I don't live on the same side of the neighborhood as my best friend and geologically, it seemed like we might be split right down the middle.

We weren't.

Instead, our ward was made even bigger and we now have a whole new subdivision of people to love.

That news was very welcome because I just wasn't sure how I was going to reign in my emotions if I was thrown into a new ward right now.

I get that I'm not always going to be here. I'm even ok with that. But right now, as I struggle to belong and find who I am within my Mormon roots, I am grateful for the friends at my side who are patient with me, who call me if I'm not at church and ask about me, who sit by me and have helped me through this year of messy transitions.

Because that's exactly what this is.

It isn't that I don't have a testimony. I do. It isn't that I don't like my ward. I do. It isn't even that other people make me feel secluded. They certainly don't. This is just a part of the grief and trauma I'm working through right now. I haven't decided what I want. I get confused a lot. I worry about what my future should look like and whether I'm doing everything the right way. I struggle without the Priesthood in my home. I find myself avoiding prayer. My safety net is the other 2 people I share my home with, my children. I often feel like we should just never leave our house to go into the world because it feels so uncertain.

But I don't want fear to run my life. I want to find peace. I want to understand the lessons in church. I want to be able to apply them. I want Sundays to be an exciting day for our family.

Right now, they aren't, and I'm trying to be gentle and patient with myself, instead of shaming myself.

Right now, it's ok that Sundays aren't my favorite. Sundays have been hard for over 2 years. Sundays have been a day I used to dread, as I toted my young toddlers to church by myself. At that time, I felt all alone. I remember how scary it was to be by myself and look out at the congregation and not feel like anybody understood.

It's different now. My ward is my second home. It is a place filled with people I love. Sundays aren't easy but they are easier.

I think the reason it's been such a messy transition lately has a lot to do with life calming down. I know---confusing. When life was crazy and I was hyper-focused on just making it through each day, I didn't have time to worry about church. We just went. But now that I'm getting used to being a single mom, life started to shift and in plain view were my fears about church. My fears of being single at church.

It feels like it's been a lifetime since I've had a partner to help wrangle the kids at church. I look around and see the majority of the families around me, a mom and a dad, both working together to keep their kids quiet. I can't remember what that feels like. I don't want to say that it's easy for them because I know it isn't. Kids and church are a hard combination. But it often hurts my heart to feel a loneliness that nobody at church can fill.

I'm tired of being alone.

Loneliness is an exhausting feeling.

It's hard to find my place during this messy transition that I'm in. I know I'll eventually find it. I know I'll eventually push my way to the top of this mountain and see the valley on the other side.

As I knelt down to pray last night, for the first time in a while, I had a long conversation with God about how shaky everything feels right now. It has been such a beautifully messy year and I want to understand it all.

People say there must be something better out there for me. Some days, I believe them and other days, I don't.

I have faith in my Heavenly Father's ability to help me. He has done it many times. Although these busy days have left me confused and sometimes anxious, I have given myself one goal to build my relationship with my Heavenly Father. One simple goal to pray once a day.

I don't care if it seems small or if people don't quite understand my struggle. That's ok. I don't even quite understand my struggle. But I am trying. I am pushing forward through this mess because I am worth fighting for.

I am precious to my God.