*Don't settle. Ever. For anyone.
*You are braver than you believe.
*Your beauty comes from deep within you.
*Don't buy off-brand toilet paper or trash bags.
*When someone compliments you, look them in the eye and say "Thank you! I appreciate that!"
*Trust your gut.
*Don't be afraid to leave the house without makeup.
*Don't leave the house without makeup on a daily basis.
*People will remember how you make them feel.
*Learn how to say "No."
*Pay attention to the little things that make you smile.
*Make a bucket list.
*Do the things on your bucket list.
*Feel your feelings.
*Learn how to set and keep boundaries.
*Two words: menstrual cup.
*Always wear great shoes.
*Nothing that anyone else says or does can change your worth.
*Nothing that you do or say can change your worth.
*Listen to a huge variety of good music.
*You are responsible for your own happiness.
*Order a cheeseburger on a first date if you want to.
*Don't make Ariel your role model.
*Marriage won't fix your problems.
*Neither will having children.
*Don't bite your nails.
*It's ok to cry.
*You can tell me anything.
*Even if you are tall, wear the damn heels.
*Dance in the rain.
*Learn how to be a good gift giver.
*Learn how to cook and clean.
*Know when to order a pizza and leave the dirty laundry on the floor.
*Find a man who has more balls than you do.
*There are few things in life that candles, good music and a hot bath can't fix.
*Let go and let God.
*Know when it's alright to temporarily throw classy out of the window.
*It's ok if someone doesn't like you.
*Learn how to pee outside.
*Don't just Facebook your life--live it.
*You can do hard things.
*You are stronger than you seem.
*Everything is going to be ok.
In the after effects of being married to a sex addict, i searched out support groups for those in relationships like mine. i found S-ANON (Hope and Help for Family and Friends of Sexaholics) as well as amazing people through blogs, and the Togetherness Project and Camb Scabs. Now i have so many relationships with all of these beautiful supportive women in various stages of "Recovery" (recovering from the affects of living with a sex addict and the codependency and shame that develops).
With these women, i have been able to share my story. And i have heard their stories. Stories of pain and betrayal and hope and recovery. The more i have heard, the more i realize how many people are struggling with addiction or struggling through a relationship with someone who is addicted.
Many conversations have happened now with friends outside of my recovery groups asking questions about what i have learned. The two questions i hear the most are:
"Wait, porn addiction is the same thing as sex addiction?"
"Do you really think looking at porn is cheating?"
My answers are yes and YES!!
We all know how prevalent pornography is. Those in the industry (and those consuming it) would like to make society believe that looking is normal and that it isn't cheating on your partner to watch.
Let me speak as the voice of a group of women who KNOW from experience (many of us having experienced both) that porn and cheating hurt the same. It is betrayal and it is infidelity whether it is a video, sexting, a strip club or an actual body.
Someone asked me once to explain HOW porn is cheating. i couldn't ever figure out how to explain it more than "it hurts the same." Then i found this article on the blog for Fight the New Drug. Please read it. It isn't very long and it explains so simply and so perfectly WHY pornography is cheating. (And then, if you want to learn about porn addiction being the same thing as a sex addiction, check out their incredible facts page).
My favorite paragraph from the post says:
"...When someone is viewing porn a hormone is released in their brain called oxytocin. Oxytocin is known to increase feelings of attachment, connection, and trust. Studies show that couples in a healthy and well-adjusted relationship exhibit much higher levels of oxytocin than those in a distressed relationship. Because the hormone is naturally released during sex, watching porn triggers the release of oxytocin as well, effectively bonding the person to that experience. Over time, the bond becomes stronger and stronger until it seems unbreakable.
So call us crazy, but when you are sexually bonding to something other than your partner, we would consider that cheating."
i am grateful to people like Fight the New Drug, who aren't afraid to get the facts out there.
New Year's Day is a fun holiday--an excuse to stay up late and play, a day to look forward to after the post-Christmas slump, a great chance to get new calendars, a perfect time to reminisce and a great opportunity to look towards exciting things coming up in the year.
But then there are the resolutions...which i despise. As you can see on my past "New Year's posts" (here, here and here) i'm not one for setting a long list of resolutions. i'm certainly not opposed to setting goals and making lists of them (my 30 in 30 which i'm still working on!) But there is something specifically about New Year's resolutions that irks me. Perhaps it is the connotation surrounding them of never following through and setting the same goals year after year. And that feeling of "Dammit! i just swore. i guess i will have to wait until next year to remake the resolution "Thou shalt not swear.'"
What i hate the most about resolutions are the "resolutioners." These are the people who clog up the indoor track all day long for the first three weeks of January. They are resolved to "lose that weight...even if it means sacrificing sleep!" Blah blah blah.
i just want to tell them all to give up and go home now because they won't make it anyway and will give up themselves not too long from now. All they are doing is making it hard for those of us to whom running ISN'T a resolution but a way of life. i have had to dodge them all 26 miles that i have run on the track since January 1st.
Hurrah for yesterday and a stint of warmer (36 degree!!) weather that enabled me to get in my miles outside with no resolutioners in the way. And i had the most gorgeous end to my run.
i just finished "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" by Brene Brown. i was floored by this book; it was incredible.
A brief blurb on her book from Amazon: "Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness."
Brene talks of the power of connection and how in order to connect, we need to be vulnerable and not hide behind shame. So i am going to be vulnerable today and talk about my fear of vulnerability...
i am working on processing my ability and willingness to be vulnerable. Last week was choked full of anxiety--i fought it fiercely. In looking back, much of it came because i was struggling with being vulnerable. Part of me still believes that if i am vulnerable then i am not strong or independent. If i am vulnerable then i have to open the door to being hurt or feeling pain. When i feel pain, i feel weak.
And when i am vulnerable and someone hurts me, my self worth becomes shaky. Shame comes in and says "You aren't worthy of Love! You aren't good enough!" So my default is to throw up a thick wall in order to avoid the hurt. The problem is that when the wall is there, there can be no connection either.
Saturday night, after an incredibly hard work day, i opened up, was brave enough to be vulnerable and i was shot down. In the aftermath of the pain and craziness of the day, i took some time for me and "stillness."
i sat on my living room floor with all the lights off except for my Christmas tree. Some quiet music was playing. i was in leggings and a sweatshirt with no makeup and my wet hair pulled up in a top knot. My Belle bird was cuddled against my neck for comfort.
i just started crying.
As i looked at the lights through my tears, i had the overwhelming feeling that my Heavenly Father thought i was beautiful. In fact, that i had never been more beautiful in my life as i was in that moment after opening my heart...even if it meant that i had been hurt. And that the light within me was shining so bright, it outshone my tree.
i received a confirmation that i was loved and worthy of it...that it was ok for me to be vulnerable and ok for me to hurt and cry. The tears did not make me weak. On the contrary, it took much more strength to do what i had done than to avoid the pain completely.
"Yes, i am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that i am also brave and worthy of love and belonging." -Brene Brown