Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Releasing Trauma Requires an Experience...


I was so nervous I almost walked the other direction, out of the building, instead of walking into the Recital Hall for my audition!  As my legs somehow moved me forward to the audition room and I fumbled with the door handle, I clung to the thought Mark had wisely planted into my mind, "You have a 0% chance of getting it if you don't audition.  If at least you, your chances increase by 50%... simply by being brave enough to try."

It was my turn to audition for the BYU-Idaho performance of "The Messiah."  I'm still not entirely sure how, but I was selected as one of the soloists.  It was a very special section of the music to me personally.  I sang the part announcing the Savior's birth to the shepherds and lead in the heavenly choir that filled the sky that sacred, holy night.

Even now typing this nearly 10 years later, my eyes still fill with tears.  That electric moment is forever etched in my mind: an entire orchestra accompanying me, utilizing my full soprano range, and testifying of Christ through music.

3 years ago I was in the middle of the Trauma Egg assignment (I have written about this before; it was the capstone project for my group counseling program).  My heart was heavy with the reliving I was constantly experiencing as I dug deeper and deeper into my past.  The assignment was to catalog every traumatic event from earliest memory to most recent experiences.

I found out our community was going to be performing "The Messiah" and they were looking for soloists.  This time I wasn't nearly as timid because innately I knew that I needed this experience at that challenging time.  I was honored to be selected as a soloist again for this same thrilling passage.

As I inhaled the moment during my performance with the same exhilarating combination of orchestral vibrations flooding into my entire soul, my heart opening wide with the music, and love for my Savior filling every cell of my body,  something marvelous happened to that heavy trauma.  This experience helped to release some of that burden and I felt lighter.

I feel like such a fledgling writing this post tonight because there is still so much to learn and understand.  I am right in the middle of further research and will probably be able to come back later and articulate more eloquently or clearly.  Yet tonight I need to write this. It is enough to lay this out as simply as possible.  Although there are many things that can support the release or resolution of trauma, the actual release is often beyond words.  Talking about it cannot touch it.  Even an awareness cannot crack it open to free it.

This been true for me throughout the process of releasing and healing.  Working with good professionals individually or in group therapy was not a waste of my time.  Attending 12-step meetings were also helpful.  I didn't understand it at the time like I do now.  For me, I did those things to bring clarity, to help me peel back the layers of complexity, and to lay it all out so I could figure out what needed to be accomplished.  But the actual changes in me: in my mind, and my heart (and my body too---ie nervous system especially) have not come by talking through it.  These changes have come through experiences.  

Some experiences have needed to involve my physical body like singing that night or through yoga as I have shared quite a bit about recently.  I have told you about other examples when the experience has happened on a Spirit to spirit level as the Holy Ghost has powerfully taught me what is actually True through scriptures, prayer, and journaling. Other times the necessary experience to release the trauma has come in moments when I can simply bask in my Savior's love.  We will all need different experiences to release, resolve, and heal.  There is no "magic bullet" to heal from trauma.  Even within myself, what works for one release may not be what is needed for another release.  The important part that I have learned (and continue to still learn) is that I can take my Savior with me into the details of healing.  He is the Master Healer and sometimes He will heal me directly.  Other times He works through means and will direct me to the experiences that can offer the release. Ultimately, I believe, it is still His healing power. I don't want in any way to make light, but think about when we are baptized.  We are cleansed.  Is it the water or the fact that we are being obedient to God's commandments that brings about the cleansing power?  No.  We are cleaned by water, fire, and blood.  Although water is a natural cleansing agent, it isn't the actual water completely covering us that does the cleaning.  Even though The Spirit acts as a sanctifier as we are baptized by fire, it isn't the fire that cleanses us either.  It is Christ, and through His blood, or the Atonement, that we are cleansed.  It was the same with the Law of Moses.  Redemption didn't come by following the points of the Law with exactness, nor was it the bull/dove/lamb that was sacrificed.  I believe releasing trauma and healing also comes by and through (and only in and through) Christ regardless of how it appears on the surface.  Everything good come from God and while in mortality we access God through Christ.

I don't need to say anything more about this for now, except to remind you that God knows.  He knows you.  He not only knows you by name, but He knows the details of your life. He knows your past.  He knows what you may not even be aware of inside of yourself yet.  He has already given you everything you need (or it will come) to be able to release, resolve, and heal from trauma.  So if you feel like you have been walking in circles and are ready to try something different, put your trust in Him or trust in Him more fully.  Learn to re-trust Him if trust has been shattered from betrayal trauma.  Allow Him to direct you and guide you.  Also learn to trust or re-trust your own ability to follow Him and to discern Truth.  It's okay if you can't leap from point A to point B in one step and heal from your entire past through one experience alone.  It's okay if you mess up or even completely blow it.  Keep going! There is always a way forward.  And if even these things feel like a leap to the other side of the galaxy, Christ can help you with your first shaky step...and then the next...and the next...He will draw closer to you as you seek to draw closer to Him.  We may not be able to release and resolve everything during mortality, but over the course of a lifetime, Christ can work wonders! Christ will help us with all of these details as we allow Him to.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Top Three Ways my Husband has Re-Grown Trust...

Mark holding Shipton, just minutes old.  This is one of my favorite pictures from his birth.


This first story I am going to tell you about my husband rebuilding trust is the only one that isn't directly-related to addiction; however, it was so important in re-growing my trust in him.

Almost 4 years ago, we were planning for the birthing time of our third little guy.  I wanted to have a different birth from any of our previous births and, together, we began to plan and formulate the details.  At the time I was a Hypnobabies instructor and so we literally spent 6 date nights with me teaching us the course.  I had used the home study course for our second little guy.  His birth was relying more on my own skills because Mark hadn't learned how to directly support my Hypnobabies training (not offered through home study).  This time, Mark read me hypnosis scripts every night and we practiced and prepared together.  And when it came to my actual birthing time, we were an awesome team.

I had a growing list of requests from a water birth to burning the cord rather than cutting and clamping it to a placenta smoothie. Go check out Mark's recipe clip on my youtube channel...haha Part 1 & Part 2.  He even sampled it before serving it to me. :) He is such a good sport!  I had big plans and was really excited to set up my dream birth as well as the connected birthing time Shipton needed.

He asked me where I envisioned setting up our "birth nest."  I told him honestly that the basement seemed like the most cozy, private, and spacious place to do it; however, it wouldn't be possible.  "Why not?"  He wanted to know.  I explained that without a bathroom on that level we would run into problems.  This may be TMI, but he committed to use our emergency camp toilet (a bucket with a toilet seat for the lid) and promised to empty it as I used it.  He also figured out how to run a long hose all the way to the basement with an adapter attached to the sink in the half bath to fill up the birthing tub.  He did test runs to see if the sump pump could handle emptying the tub and it worked!  He not only said he would do those things so I could have the place I wanted the most, but he also followed through with all of them.

And since I lost so much blood giving birth, and I was at home, he was my nurse. (One of the placentas---Ship was a twin---or part of one detached before the other or the rest.  The midwives gave me two shots of Pitocin and eventually I had enough pressure waves----contractions---going to birth the placenta, but not before I lost a good amount of blood first.)  The first night the midwife ordered me to stay down.  TMI again?  That meant I had to use a bedpan.  Guess who did that for me?:)  Mark.  The first few days I needed more care and he was right there to do whatever I needed.  He did it tenderly and respectfully.  He was never impatient or annoyed about it.

Writing it out like this sounds a bit silly.  But for me, this was a huge, huge experience to rebuild trust.  I needed him...I needed him during my birthing time to support me in my hypnosis tools, to read my cues, to catch my baby...I needed his patient and gentle care during the recovery time, especially where my body gave so much this time with the extra blood loss.  There were times in the past that I needed him and he wasn't there.

But this time he was there---to support me in huge ways and in the roles that nobody else could fulfill like he could as my husband.

1. He rebuilt trust by doing what I needed in order to feel safe at this vulnerable time.

The second time was almost 3 years ago.  I had, what seemed to me, the oddest experience.  One day it hit me hard that the holidays were coming up.  I would be seeing individuals who I had been interacting with for almost 3 years since D-Day ("Discovery Day," or the day Mark told me about his relapsing).  I had gone to gatherings and events and interacted with these individuals as if nothing was wrong and I had felt okay to do so at the time.  However, because of my feelings being turned back on through the recovery work I had been doing and painful things were up at the surface and really raw, I was suddenly not okay to interact with these people.

Have you ever been half-dressed when the doorbell rings?  That is exactly how I felt.  I was left with the awkward decision of do I: 1. hurry and just grab any piece of clothing and throw it on and race to answer the door? or 2. do I ignore the doorbell and finish getting dressed?  I knew that I wouldn't respond to others like I had in the past.  In particular, when I was met with shame I would shut down and freeze. I knew I wouldn't freeze any more, but, like the split-second decision of whether or not to answer the door, I only had one leg in my recovery pants so far.  I knew I wouldn't respond in old ways...but what would I do?  As I thought it over, I could honestly see myself clocking somebody instead of freezing!  I had reoccurring dreams of yelling at people, swearing at them, and flipping them off!  What if that happened in real life because I hurried myself along and stuffed myself back into whatever I could find available in order to go and answer the door, or go to the holiday gatherings and events?

This time I wasn't as sure what I needed.  I didn't have a neat list like I had in my birth preparations.  I wasn't even sure what I was feeling because it was the first time I hadn't been able to just bounce right back and face everyone.  Thanksgiving was only a few weeks away, so I was also feeling pressure to get my crap figured out and together! I took this experience to my counselor.  She was a fabulous sounding board and we concluded the session by empowering me with directions.  My assignment was to figure out what I needed in order to be able to go.  What would I need Mark to do to create safety for me in this situation?

Together we discussed my list and we tweaked it and he committed to it.  Then a few days later he came home with bags and bags of groceries.  "What are you doing?"  I asked him.

He smiled his gentle smile as he replied,"I bought us everything we need to make Thanksgiving dinner at home.  I want you to know that even if you decide last minute that you can't go, I support you.  You need to do whatever you need to do.  If you don't feel like you can go, then we can't go.  So the turkey will be in the fridge just in case.  If you feel up to going then we will just fix it another time."

I ran into his arms and kissed him as tears ran down my cheeks.  He understood me!  I felt so validated!  It completely took the pressure off of me to have to decide ahead of time.  I knew that if we went that he would follow through with the safety plan I needed.  I knew that if we stayed home that he would be supportive of me too.  Just the fact that he was willing to do whatever I needed  made me feel safe (even though he hadn't even followed through with it yet).

We ended up last minute deciding to stay home that time.  I didn't feel safe that year to go.  I actually didn't feel safe to go to any holiday gatherings that yea. And it's okay.  Especially when I realize that because I took the time to get dressed right (I didn't rush the healing process for myself), I can now interact with those same individuals that I was dreading and felt complete fear and panic about doing so previously.  I am secure in my shame reactions now and I haven't ever punched anybody, flipped anybody off, or sworn at them either (except a cuss word here and there, but usually at my kids). :)  At first I felt bad that it meant that my husband and kids didn't get to go to any holiday gatherings that year; however, in the long run, it was better for me and us.

2. He rebuilt trust by discussing my needs without defense.

This last one is probably the most difficult for me to talk about.  I want to do so carefully, acknowledging that everyone involved did the best they could.  All of us were doing what seemed right to us in order to keep Mark afloat---some days that was even just alive!  We all made mistakes.  I don't hold malice or blame.  It's just part of my story that I have finally come to terms with.

There were discussions Mark had with other individuals where he only shared half of the story (his half).  I was painted in the blackest of hues and as a crazy, controlling wife.  Yes, I contributed to the mess.  Yes, I was pretty controlling at times; however, my life was in shambles and I was trying to help Mark and protect myself and the kids.

After the private time to myself over the holidays, I realized I needed something more from Mark.  It felt too much to ask at first, but finally I had the guts to tell him what I needed.  We were sitting in the temple parking lot having just gone on a temple date.  "Mark, I need you to go to those certain individuals and tell them what was actually going on.  And with the few who knew generally about you acting out on your addiction, I need you to take responsibility.  Right now if feels like those few who know are still blaming me.  These conversations were left off with me framed as a B-word. :)  All they know is that we didn't get divorced, but they have no idea why we were even that close in the first place. They don't understand the choices that I have made to stand by your side through this.  I need you to explain to them about the addiction and take responsibility for your actions.  I need you to go back and reconcile what you said to them about me. I need closure like this in order to heal."

That one didn't come as easily, but over the course of a few weeks, Mark roughed out a game plan to tackle building safety for me here too.  Some individuals he met with in person.  Some he attempted to call and didn't get return calls.  So he finally e-mailed the rest he had been unable to meet with in person or over the phone.  He didn't share details, but generally explained the untold other side of the story.

As he read me what he had sent to them, I felt validated.  The ways he spoke of me were reflective of the dignity and respect that I deserve as the wife of a sex addict.  The responses were varied, but that isn't what I needed in order to feel safe and heal.  I needed Mark to show that he was willing to go to any length to stand up for truth, and particularly with the ways he had defamed me through these interactions.

I read some pretty amazing examples that reminded me of this in the book Your Sexually Addicted Spouse.  One woman found out her husband had been having affairs in his truck.  She realized that in order to feel safe, she needed him to sell the truck (and he did).  Another woman discovered that their home held too many painful memories.  So they decided to sell their home and build a brand-new dream home together.  The point of me sharing this last story is that it's okay to ask for whatever we need in order to feel safe.  It isn't about punishing him or making him feel bad.  If it is necessary for us to be able to heal and move forward, than nothing is too great to ask of him.

3. Mark built safety for me by being willing to do anything I needed---even the big things.

I know it probably seems like I only share the happy parts most of the time.  Really now there are usually more happy than hard or difficult or sad parts any more.  Don't get me wrong though.  There have been plenty of times Mark has blown it and dropped me.  There have been times that I have been difficult to interact with too.  The amazing thing about all of this, though, is that when there are two individuals who are both willing and both trying to do everything they can, I believe marriages can heal and trust can grow again.

There have been times that tiny and slow progress has been made over the course of weeks or months; however, in a moment of impatience, harshness, or Mark saying my name in a certain-triggering-tone-of-voice, all of that careful progress has been shattered again.  It's been slow going, especially at first.

But there is hope!  And as we give our whole heart to God through Christ, He gives it back and we are able to be a better spouse for our husband or wife.  We don't have to try to rebuild trust in our own strength!  We can make a wonderful team as we reach heavenward in the painful re-growing process.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Trauma-versary



Trauma-versary

I'm in trauma, but
it isn't rage---white and hot.
Nor is it panic or even fear.
Instead this time it's a grayish funk
...a mind-numbing mist.

It's faint enough that I am aware of it,
yet too strong for me to remove it.
I have felt this way before.

Every Fall this fog sets in.
Each year with less power
than the year before.

Every Fall, I've learned to wait
for I am not navigating this alone.
Although Christ's miraculous grace
has broken through the darkness
immediately before,
That's not the kind of miracle
He has in mind for this.

And so I fight and plead.
I pray.
This haziness doesn't change 
what I already know.
I know my prayers are piercing Heaven!
I know I'm not alone!
I know God loves me too!
And so I beg for strength to hold on.

And just as instantly as Christ can break through,
this time it's instant as well.
It takes more time to recognize
His grace is always there!

He acts as my bouy 
and although it's not my 
first or second choice,
He holds my head above the water
until He can rescue me.

Sometimes He sends help through the scriptures
as I read words just for me.
Sometimes it's a loving friend who knows what I need.
Other times it's on my yoga mat or other body work.
My body, mind, and spirit all know
that today is my Trauma-versary.

Each time it's different, yet every time
His love is in the message.
"You'll be alright,"
"I'll help you through,"
"I will visit your pain with compassion."

For without compassion there is no grace.
But I know in whom I have trusted.
And so I wait through the dark days
knowing Christ's grace is sufficient.

Friday, October 20, 2017

What I was always meant to do...


Mark has been encouraging me to sit down and write for a few minutes all week.  I think he can tell that my mind is just exploding with excitement and big things.  Right now every day honestly feels like 100 days because there is so much to take in, experience, learn, and do.  And it feels like everything is happening so fast!

I spent a good month researching the most up-to-date information available on betrayal trauma for my book. It's been a heavy few months. How would you feel spending every spare minute researching topics related to one of the most rigorous experiences of your life?!  But God has been gracious to me and I have been carried to do it (and my family has been patient with me too).  I have been back to writing again this week---adding in the research, honing in tighter to a target audience of wives of sex addicts, and fine-tuning the message.  I am taking what I wrote before, but putting everything we talk about into a betrayal trauma context AND what Christ can do about it.  I am at the half-way point and will finish it all in the next week or two.  Thanks to a good friend, I have been put in contact with another interested publisher, so we will see if it goes through this time. It's amazing what I can get done if I don't clean my house or sleep! Ha! :)  Seriously though, the time has had to come from somewhere and there are certain places I am more willing to rob it from than others.

And because of everything that I have been exposed to in my research and all the big thinking happening in my mind because of it, I know clearly what I was always meant to do!  Kevin Skinner said this, "...there is growing evidence that trauma cannot be 'talked out' through traditional talk therapy" (from Treating Trauma from Sexual Betrayal, 177).  It's time for me to step up and support other women (and anybody else who wants to be included) to release and resolve the trauma.  Trauma is beyond the reach of words.  Being aware in't enough either.  It requires an experience.  

And so, I need to offer experiences for the releasing and resolving trauma: physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

I'm thankful for the past 2 1/2 years to live a slower-paced and purposeful life.  I think it was necessary for me to soak up the big changes and allow them to settle deeply into my heart and my mind.  So much shifted in a few short years!  I'm also grateful for the healing that has happened with my children because they have been given my focus. And I am thankful to understand more clearly and  between understanding more clearly and the past few years of a change-of-pace, I am able to come back with a passion, purpose, and drive I didn't have before I stepped away from working with others outside of my own home.

I will be setting my website back up soon.  Once it is up, I will have yoga classes available to purchase. I am back teaching yoga regularly live in-person and live-online and plan to continue every other week for now. Hypnobabies won't be coming back this time.  It's sad, I know.  Although pregnancy and birth are fascinating to me, my true passion for it came in the mind/body connection.  I want to focus on different ways to offer that.

My 2018 goals are to go through teacher training for Kundalini Yoga and become a certified yoga instructor (right now I have only been through a training to teach; however, it wasn't a program that certified me).   Technically that will spill over into 2019 to complete.

Also, with my RN license, I will go through QNRT training (Quantum Neurological Reset Therapy) and will start working with a light client load once I complete the training and certification process (probably June-ish). That covers the physical and mental healing.  As far as spiritual healing, I'm not entirely sure yet where I will be needed in that capacity.  As soon as I can secure a publisher for the book and rein in a few other projects, I would love to have speaking opportunities.  For now, I will continue to preach my guts out and testify of Christ with every breath!  For truly, He is the ultimate healer and experiences with Him can instantly change any trauma from the past.

I am so excited!!!  I am thrilled to be able to do something that I am passionate about at a pace that is comfortable for me and my family long-term.  I love that what I will be offering is something that literally changes the world by holding the space for one person at a time to heal.

I have "turned my light on" and I am calling you to join with me in coming to know Christ as your personal Savior. I am ready to engage with my entire heart in His work. I am ready to do my small part in changing this world! I am eager to help those around me become deeply rooted and well-grounded in Christ by releasing and resolving trauma and becoming aware of their bodies and minds. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My Name is Ashley



My name is Ashley and I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my story with you.  If you are dealing with this addiction or supporting a spouse with an addiction, I hope it helps you feel some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. If you aren’t dealing with this particular issue I hope that this will give you some insight and maybe some compassion for others who are.



I met my husband, Brandon in January of 2005 at BYU-Idaho.  He was fresh off his mission to the Philippines and I finished my high school credits early so I went to college.  We have one of those crazy BYU-Idaho stories where we met, were engaged and married all within 5 months.  The night I met Brandon I knew I would marry him and the more I prayed about it the stronger those feelings became.  I remember asking him about pornography before we got married.  He told me that he had seen it but it wasn’t a problem anymore.  That was it, that was our whole discussion on the topic.



The first year of marriage was hard but great.  A year and a month after we got married we welcomed our first son.  He was born with a heart condition and had open-heart surgery at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake. We spent a month down there while he healed.  Brandon missed a lot of work but thankfully we were home in time for him to start another semester.  This is when things took a turn.  Being new parents with a child who needed a lot of medical attention was taxing to say the least.  There was so much stress between school, work, our marriage, and our healing baby.  So much stress that Brandon started acting out again.

Our first disclosure was in August 2007.  Brandon left me a note under the TV remote to find sometime during the day.  In the note he told me that he had been struggling with pornography for some time and it was eating him up so he had to tell me.  I had no idea.  I remember turning on our laptop and looking at the history, this was before he figured out that you can clear it, and I was devastated.  When he came home from work we got into a huge fight and I was done.  I was packing my bags and leaving.  I called my parents and told them that I wanted to come home.  They gave me some advice and calmed me down a bit.  They told me that if I loved Brandon even a little bit, and not just because he is the father of my child, then I owed it to myself to stay and at least try to work it out.  They told me that eventually I would regret just giving up and not fighting. I decided to stay but also that I needed some space, so I went to Utah for a week to spend time with family.  While I was gone he acted out more.  The guilt caught up to him and he spoke with our Bishop.  The bishop’s advice to him was to read his scriptures and pray more but to also tell me everything when I got home, everything but the fact that he had also been masturbating.  When I got home Brandon ended up telling me everything.  After that I refused to speak to the bishop about it and we began our decline from being active in the church.  (I do not blame this bishop; I recognize that this was our own choice.) Nothing about addiction was ever mentioned up to this point.

Over the course of the next 4 years we had 2 more disclosures.  One where he came to me, and one where I found him looking at things.  We didn’t go speak with bishops or therapists at either of these times.  We basically swept it under the rug and went on with life.  Looking back on it I have no idea how we lived like that.  After each disclosure, he would promise me that he wouldn’t look at it anymore and I would believe him.  I would periodically ask him how he was doing and he would tell me that he was doing really well.  From 2011 to 2016 I believed that we were the happiest we’ve ever been.  I found no signs of pornography use and felt comforted by that.  By January 2016 we had 5 kids, had bought a home, had become active in the church again, and he had found a job that he loved.  I felt like things couldn’t get any better!

Around the middle of January 2016 some friends in our ward “went public” with their story of addiction and recovery on Instagram and Facebook.  I was blown away by their story, it sounded so similar to ours.  For the first time I heard about betrayal/relational trauma and it resonated with me so deeply.  I sent their pages to Brandon and he read through this brother’s story.  For the first time he felt that there was hope for him, he didn’t have to take all of his secrets to the grave, he could live a life free from pornography and masturbation.  But of course, that meant he would have to tell me about his secret life and crush me again. He did some research on recovery programs and then came to me with our 4th disclosure on the 31st.  While I shouldn’t have been, I was shocked.  He had become a master manipulator and was so good at lying that I had no idea that he had been acting out for the last 5 years.  Looking back on those years, I can tell that we weren’t as happy as I thought. Sometimes it felt like we were just roommates, it was just about work and the kids, there was no real connection happening.  I felt crazy because whenever I would bring up the fact that I wasn’t feeling connected, he would get defensive and put the blame on me. (I now know this is called Crazy Making and a lot of addicts use it.) I felt like the disconnect in our marriage was my fault because I wasn’t skinny or pretty enough, maybe if I kept the house clean or had homemade dinners ready every night he would be happier, my depression was keeping me from being happy, we weren’t connecting intimately as much as we should. I came up with so many reasons why it was all my fault. (I realize that I wasn’t blameless in our marital issues and I take full responsibility for my part.)

For the next couple of weeks, we researched and dove head first into this new-found recovery world.  It was overwhelming to say the least.  Brandon started to attend the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program and I read every book I could get my hands on because I wasn’t quite ready for support groups.  My favorite book was “What Can I Do About Me?” by Rhyll Croshaw.  I felt so much validation from her book! Another amazing book that helped us understand what we were really dealing with is “Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship” by Andrew Pipanne. (you can find most of the book online at rowboatsandmarbles.org) From this book we learned that the problem isn’t just pornography use but lust. Lust is the root of sex addiction. We also met with our bishop and he was extremely supportive of both of us. Having help from him has been a great blessing. We also found the LifeStar group therapy program and felt like it was the right thing for us.  Group therapy isn’t for everyone but it was a great thing for us! We met so many wonderful people and made lifelong friends. At LifeStar we learned some valuable tools to help us deal with addiction and trauma. We learned about the addiction cycle, the fear cycle, boundaries, providing safety, expressing anger, and many other helpful things.  We actually didn’t finish the program because we felt that we had gotten what we needed and our children needed us to focus on them.  I eventually attended a couple of support groups for spouses (the Church’s and SA Lifeline), I honestly never felt comfortable there and decided that they weren’t a good fit for me.  The best advice I’ve ever received about recovery is that everyone does it differently so find what works for you and don’t feel pressured into doing things a “certain way”.  One of the biggest helps for me has been sharing my story on Instagram.  I made an account that started out as anonymous, @FightingForEternity. (Brandon also shares his story @Truth.Set.Free) I found a whole world of women sharing their stories as well and felt an instant connection with each of them! I have had the privilege of meeting some of these women in real life and have become friends with them.  I hold their friendship dearly, they understand me in a way that no one else can, they’ve been there for me in my darkest times and have helped me pull out.  Finding “my tribe” has been one of the biggest blessings! Brandon currently attends SA Lifeline 12 step group and he is loving it! But it did bring about one of the hardest things we’ve ever done, his 1st step inventory.  This was a written out inventory of everything he did in his addiction.  It took him a long time to write it and it was heartbreaking to hear.  I didn’t know that this addiction had such a strong hold on him.  While hearing these things was one of the most painful things I’ve experienced, it brought us closer together! It was all out there, I knew his deepest and darkest secrets and I still loved him.  I saw him for who he wanted to become and who I knew he could be.  He is one of the strongest people I know! Our relationship will always be a work in progress and I have no idea what the future holds for us, but right now we’re fighting it.  I see the most amazing changes in my husband and I’m so proud of all that he’s accomplished.  I’m also proud of the things that I’ve accomplished.  I still have bad days, I have days where depressive thoughts take over.  I allow myself to have those days, I don’t wallow but I let my feelings present themselves.  It’s easy to feel like my husband has this addiction because of me, I’ve gained weight since we were married and don’t have the greatest self-esteem any more.  But the more I’ve been learning the more I know that his addiction wasn’t my fault.  He saw a movie at a friend’s house when he was 13 and things got progressively worse from there.  He was deep in this addiction long before I came along.

We’ve had our ups and downs on this recovery rollercoaster and certain things are still a daily struggle but we have faith that we are on the right path for us.  We were led to our ward and brought back with the guidance of our Heavenly Father.  I can see His hand in bringing us here at the perfect time to begin this recovery journey, and for that I will be eternally grateful! Without Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ I’m not sure where we would be.  Learning to lean on Them in our times of need has been instrumental in our healing.  It’s been a great source of comfort for me to know that the Atonement isn’t just for repenting of our sins but also for emotions and healing.



I would never wish this trial on anyone.  It sucks and I hate it.  But if I’m being really honest with myself, I would never give it back either.  Being married to an addict has hurt me deeply but it has also shaped me into the woman I am today.  Being married to an addict isn’t easy, but if both of you are really willing to work on yourselves and your marriage then there’s hope. There is hope for a life free of pornography! On October 2nd, Brandon will be 2 years sober! We realize this isn’t a very long time but it’s the longest he’s ever gone without it, I am incredibly proud of him! Recovery is not an easy road but we share our story to help others in the way we have been helped, if one person hears it and feels some glimmer of hope then this will all be worth it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Does Betrayal Trauma Effect a Woman's Physical Health?


These words are exactly how I feel!!!  I am sitting in a really good place with my own recovery, but how can I turn a blind eye to those who are still struggling?  God has blessed me with a compassionate heart, life experiences that give me the ability to empathize and validate others easily, AND the knowledge and tools to rise from the wreckage.

Three really cools things that need to go down on the records that hopefully you will see are actually related.  1.  This week I connected something huge, huge, huge.  I already mentioned this on my Instagram account, so just skip #1 if you don't want to read it again.  My dad gave me a priesthood blessing when my husband and I were separated.  The only thing I still remember from it is that I was blessed to avoid the health struggles so common to women in my situation.  Between the priesthood literally acting as a shield to my physical body and the tools that immediately began showing up in my life (thanks to God's goodness), I have remained in wonderful health despite my battle with betrayal trauma.  Although my experience isn't entirely unheard of, it is not the "norm" for my circumstances.  As women began to respond to my question with their own lists of health issues because of betrayal trauma, I began to weep.  It is simply heartbreaking! All of this time I had no idea how God had completely spared me from these painful experiences related to recovery work, nor have I been aware of the effects on other women's bodies because of the trauma.

2.  Because of the rejection letter (for the first draft of my book) I have spent my time researching and reading rather than editing.  I knew yoga has been part of my recovery, but now I have words to explain to you why it has been important.  In the movie clip below I spell out the patterns of trauma as it relates to physical health for your own recovery work as well.

3.  I had 4 people ask me in one week shortly after my free yoga class if I teach regularly and if I plan to teach regularly again.  The first 2 got a quick, "nope" response. The 3rd was a bit harder to say no to.  By the 4th, I knew we needed to revisit this as a couple and decide if it is something we can do again.  I will spare you the 20 minutes of awesomeness if you don't have time to watch the entire clip below.  I WILL BE COMING BACK TO TEACHING AGAIN!!! We have known for a few weeks, but I have been excitedly preparing the details to make the announcement.  The dialogue on my Instagram account yesterday was a big kick in the pants to finalize everything.  How can I not teach...knowing what I know?  Yes, it needs to be at a comfortable pace me and my family can commit to, but how can I continue to keep what God has given me to myself and my family?!




Here are the details for classes:

~These are Christ-centered yoga classes taught by a trauma-informed instructor (yours truly). :)

~Do I have to be the wife of a sex addict to take these classes? No.  Even though they will absolutely be beneficial to women in that particular situation, every body (and mind) benefits from Kundalini Yoga.  The experience and content of the class is universal.

~Classes will be every other Saturday night from 8-9pm.  You can come 15 minutes early if you want your feet rubbed with essential oils.  The first class with be Saturday, October 7th.

~Cost: Punch cards for 10 classes will normally be $50, but if you purchase yours before October 31st, you will receive a 20% discount (so $40).  You can pay per class if that works better ($6/class).  I am open to discussing trades as well.

~I will be teaching out of my home in Brigham City.  I can accommodate both in person and online options. I will be recording them, so you can still join the class even if Saturday nights don't work for you by doing any classes on your own (or re-do them too).

~How can I sign up?  For now shoot me an e-mail: willis.katy@gmail.com

God bless you on your journey! xoxo

Sunday, September 17, 2017

An Ambassador for Christ...


Isn't that beautiful?!  I found this verse on Friday and have been pondering on it all weekend.  At my hubby's suggestion, it's another "brain dump night."  I think my tossing and turning next to him with an active mind makes it challenging for him to fall asleep too. :)

One week ago I received my first rejection letter for my book.  Although I was a tiny bit disappointed about it (because honestly who wants to purposely go through rejection?) I am actually relieved and not entirely surprised.  There is still so much to do! It would have been a pretty thrown together job and basically cranked out in a few month's timeline to go from rough draft to published book. The 3 blessings Mark gave me before receiving the e-mail had an underlying theme with things like, "You need to learn how to run a marathon with all of this rather than just sprinting."  "God will need you long-term, so go at a pace that you and your family won't get burnt out."  "The timing is important.  There is more to learn and experience.  Be patient and you will understand what God has in store."  After getting the rejection letter I was ready for another blessing. Mark talked again about the importance of the timing and said, "Think about how much you learn and experience in just 24 hours right now with your active mind, your willing heart, and your eagerness to learn.  There is more to learn and experience, so be patient."

The past week has been unreal! Just completely unreal.  So many doors have unexpectedly opened and others are poised and at the ready.  I did not anticipate so many doors and for them to start opening all at once.  I am blown away by the opportunities God is giving me to be an ambassador for Christ!  In this week I have been powerfully reminded once again that God uses the willing.  As we seek to assist in Christ's work to bring hope and to save souls, God will use each one of us in unique ways that are fitting to our experiences, abilities, and sympathies...and the rest will come.  Some of these doors opening are obviously the means of providing the knowledge and experiences God has promised me.  Some of these doors will prepare me to be an even sharper instrument and bless me with those skills, abilities, and spiritual gifts that are needful to perform the work He is inviting me to participate in.

The past few months I have felt stretched nearly beyond my capacity to bear it, yet Christ has strengthened me to be able to courageously stand as one of His ambassadors---to boldly testify of God's perfect plan and His perfect Son.  Although there have been challenges, this has been a beautiful leg of my recovery journey already.  I am grateful for the blessing of courage and the opportunities to stand boldly and testify of Christ and to defend truth in the ways it relates to marriage, family, and the reality of Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.

I am learning the patterns of making things happen with my faith.  I know full-well that my faith does not rest in my abilities or prowess, but in Christ's.  My faith is in Him.  So why should I not stand up boldly and confidently as His ambassador?  Why not stand fearlessly and add my voice to the discussions?  It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.  So why not rest my faith completely and wholly in Him and His ability to command the elements and see to the details of God's children and their lives?  Why should I not have fearless faith that He will take my feeble offerings, amplify them, and in His perfect ways allow His words to pierce through the excess and the noise to touch hearts?  He knows how those words can reach receptive and willing hearts in ways that allow for those precious words to sink deeply and grow strong roots of conversion.  So why not have faith?

I invite you to take some time to ponder on this powerful statement, for we all are ambassadors for Christ.  What can YOU do?  What does God need you to do?  In quiet or obvious ways, with subtlety or with boldness, how can you be His ambassador?  Remember He simply needs the willing.  He can work with that offering.  He doesn't need the talented or the articulate or the able.  He will take care of all of that. He just needs the willing. And if you don't yet feel willing, He can help you with that too. :)  Take your pondering to God and open your heart to the possibilities.  May God bless you as you seek to testify in your own voice and in your own ways of Christ as His ambassador publishing peace.

"...How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings unto them, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings unto them of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion: Thy God reigneth" (3 Nephi 20:40)!
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