Thursday, January 22, 2015

Journal entry, 12 years old

By chance I found this old journal today.   I had a moment of quiet tonight and decided to open it up.  The only entries are from the summer of 2000 when my dad got cancer and I went to girls camp with my Mormon friends, ended up having to move in with my Aunt and Uncle and say goodbye to my dad.

"Dear Journal,
From now on I am going to keep this... My dad has cancer and there is no treatment for it.  The only way he'll be able to live is if a miracle happends... and it's really hard to keep faith in something that don't seem real.

My dad is the only one who keeps me running, morning noon and night. Without him and God I probally would've already killed myself by now.

My mom...  Well I don't really have one.  Yes she is alive, but she is abusive. I cannot end up living with her.

My daddy will spend his last days, trying to get anyone else than her to have custody of me.

My dad can't have any more fun in his last days... He is too miserable, and in  pain, and stress over me and my mom.

I love daddy so, so, so, much that if he dies I could just give up  too.  Infact, I would like to before then."

My next entries were about the girls at camp.  It just occurred to me today that girls camp probably saved my life that year.  There was drama, I was right in the middle of it. Of course I was, I needed the drama to keep my mind occupied so I didn't have to think about my life.  The next page was my activity sign-off.  I learned about fire, knots, singing, cleaning up, cooking, and first aid.  The next page is a drawing of the testimony hand (oops correction, testimony GLOVE).  I learned:
God is our loving Father in Heaven.
Jesus Christ is our Savior.
Prophet Joseph Smith translated the book of Mormon.
The LDS church is Gods church.
Prophet Gordon B. Hinkley (of the time) receives revelation.

These teachings were the only hope I had to go on. This is completely amazing to witness!

My next entry included a quote that I glued onto paper from camp.  

and another quote about standing strong.  How much I needed  that inner strength in the following year.  Who am I kidding, in the following....REST OF MY LIFE!!

The last entry was about the girls at camp.  That is it. The rest of the journal is blank. 

I remember that camp.  The part I remember most was testimony meeting.  My friend I went with was born and raised in the church, a middle of 9 kids.  She was shy and wasn't too sure about bearing her testimony.  After several girls had gone up finally I asked her,  "Hey, what is this?" She said,  "Oh it is a testimony meeting.  People just get up there and talk about what they know is true, or what they believe." I sat there for what felt  like forever with my stomach in knots, I wanted to bear my testimony too!!!  Finally I decided, I was going to do it.  I stood up  by the fire, took the microphone when it was my turn and told the whole camp that I was really glad to be there.  That it was a hard decision to come because back at home my dad was dying from cancer.  But I knew I should be there, and that I believe in prayer and God and Jesus and we were praying for a miracle. I didn't cry. I just said it all.  I remember my best friend who brought me, she always admired how bold and unafraid I was.  After that people treated me differently.  They were nicer to me.  But I didn't like it, because it was a reminder that my dad was dying back at home.  

The day of daddy's funeral I had planned to speak.  I asked the same best friend to come and stand with me while I read my talk and be willing to read it for me if I got emotional.  She had a really hard time committing to anything and wouldn't give me a yes or no answer until the day of the funeral. And her answer was "no" out of fear. So, I got up and read my speech alone.  I felt so utterly and completely alone from that-time-on, 12 years old, until just last year.  The wopa's taught me I am never alone.  I had learned to rely on Heavenly Father as well, but I couldn't understand His love until I felt it tangibly through my Wopa sisters.   

I have so much compassion on my younger self.  My goodness what she had to endure. She did the very best she could with the cards she was dealt, and she continues to do so now.  She tried to be a wise woman, she just did the best she knew how.  But now, I am learning, I have a real wise woman within me.  She knows how to care for herself and her children.  And the little girl doesn't have to try so hard anymore, she can just play and laugh and feel and its okay for her, she is safe because she has the wise woman to protect her and care for her. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

negative emotions = freedom

I've been talking to a lot of people lately about what I have learned through my trauma and through yoga about negative emotions.  I've never put all these thoughts together and decided I need to!

1.Our negative emotions serve us:
  Through doing my step 4 inventory I saw how each negative emotion that I had as a child in extremely painful situations, was actually there to serve me in some form or another.  The sadness came to teach me about myself and about my family and to bring me closer to God.  The feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and neglect were there to teach me to care for myself.  The insecurities were there to get me to question my worth and begin to define my worth to myself.  The confusion was there to alert me to always be aware of my surroundings.  The paranoia and distrust were there to keep me safe.  The anger was there to help me to take a stand for myself.  They mean different things to us at different times but really God gave us emotions for a reason.  If we look deep enough, we can find how they have served us.

2. Emotions are just energy.  We can't see them, we can't hear them, we can't smell them, but we can feel them.  They wash over us and we FEEL them, they are not imaginary.  They are energy. But as a child dealing with serious trials, I had emotions that I had NO IDEA what to do with.  So I just pretended that they weren't there. It was the only thing I knew how to do.

3. Stored energy doesn't sit still.  Heat up a bunch of electrons and anyone who ever took basic chemistry in school knows that they move faster and faster.  Cool them down and they still float around. They are constantly moving.  So is the negative energy that I stored up inside myself.  Constantly moving.  Which is why painful memories surface frequently, while I may be going about daily, ordinary, life, some painful memory just pops into my head.  And there are those emotions again.  And I think, and contemplate, and then for years I would just store it all away inside myself again.  Trying to pretend the negative emotions were not there, for fear that if I saw them, maybe they would consume me.  That protective mechanism also served me.  My body became flooded with negative emotions and therefore I developed all these nervous ticks and addictive habits just to have a release of energy out of my body.  Those nervous tics and addictive habits also served me.

4. Accept them. Also called, "letting the emotions flow through you."  Negative emotions are not to be feared, stored, harbored, coddled, they are to be identified, acknowledged, felt, accepted and released. Its like a warm sweater. We put it on too keep us protected from the cold weather.  We use it, and when we are done, we take it off.  So today I put on my anger sweater.  I wore it around, then when I was done with it, I took it off. When I am wearing that sweater, it doesn't become a part of me.  It just sits on my skin.  But it is not me.  So when I feel a negative emotion, I try to remind myself that I am not this negative emotion.  I am a divine spirit daughter of God with divine attributes and divine potential.  I am who I am.  And I am FEELING an emotion. (or I am wearing a sweater).  The feeling is like the sweater.  I put it on, I allow the energy to flow through me.  Then I identify where I feel it in my physical body.  Like a nauseous feeling in my gut, or tightness in my shoulders, or tightness in my chest, or low back pain, etc. It is there, so I find it.  Then I have a little talk with it.  "hello anger. Thank you for showing up to serve me.  I feel you,but I no longer need you." Then I take in several deep breaths and imagine that the air is rushing to the place where I identified the emotion in my body, to make MORE SPACE for the emotion to be there.  This is an act of acceptance and surrender.  We can't fight our negative emotions, we can only accept them and feel them. Then I tell them, "there now there is more space for you.  You can stay as long as you want."  If I truly mean what I say, and I have fully let go of trying to control the emotion but am now willing to learn from it, and even love it, it will go. That's when I get to release it.  Its counter-intuitive, I know.  But this goes along with the idea of keeping our hearts open, when we are open, we are humble, surrendering, accepting and energy is flowing freely.

5. Don't let your heart close.  This one has actually been very, very challenging for me.  I never had realized what a deeply ingrained default habit (called "samscaras" in sanskrit) I had created of just closing off my heart.  Sometimes when the trauma hits and there are so many negative emotions all at the same time, it can be all but impossible to keep my heart open. I just do the best I can.  When I let it close, I forget who I am, I think that the emotions define me and everything around me.  I can no longer see life through a clear lens and I am trapped in a prison of sorts until I am able to get it to open again.  And the emotions ARE in a prison, they are trapped and can't come out until I open my heart again.

6.  Letting Go.  Old stored emotions can now be processed and released.  With an open heart, and the ability now to let emotions flow through me, those random painful memories that pop into my head now become beautiful opportunities to let them go.   They continually popped into my head because the energy of the emotion was just trying to get out.  Now I know.  So when they come up, I go back to my steps for identifying and accepting. It is very freeing.

I am certainly no expert on much of anything really!! I am just a humble grateful student and it seems like Heavenly Father is doing all the teaching.  All these things have come to me through other people, resources, books, etc at various times that seemed completely random but ended up really serving me and helping me to manage the jungle of emotions that we all get to experience.  Our society is so anti-emotion.  I am sure it is out of fear (which protects them from the pain of feeling) but we don't NEED the protection.  We need to be free, like God intended us to be.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

~heart open~

Today my Yogis told me something:

never close off your heart

And of course I was thinking "this is insane." I was even thinking "if only you knew what I'VE been through." -like im the only person in the room who has ever experienced suffering.... I was also thinking, "I'm pretty sure closing my heart at times has really served me".

Were reading the book The Untethered Soul, there is a whole chapter on keeping your heart open. It talked about how energetically when you close off your heart you close off your energy and it makes you feel lethargic and also depressed.

Is that why I often feel I have no energy?

It even said that no matter your age, you have the same spring of energy welling up within you, but you can only access it with your heart open. This energy is accessible wether you've gotten enough sleep or enough food, its independent of those factors. Its the energy to be at peace, to accept, and to surrender with gratitude to your surroundings at all times (by doing so, surrendering to the Father). To have passion about life. To have deep abiding joy. And it claims that feeling this energy is almost entirely dependent upon keeping your heart open.

Have you ever felt that way? I have, and the prospect of living life like that again, sounds so incredibly beautiful.

So then I asked the group exactly how do you keep your heart open?

It's very simple,
 just don't let it close.

So you breathe you pull your shoulder blades down your back so that your chest is open and you say to yourself open heart over and over, in every place, situation, circumstance we find ourselves in.

But hasn't this mechanism served me, even protected me at times?They said we close off because we feel like it protects us but it actually only HURTS US.

 So last night I tried it at my in laws which is normally a painful place and instead of shutting down because of the pain I just kept saying in my mind.... open heart, open heart...and breathing... and letting the emotions just pass through me with the thought of acceptance.

I felt so much more peace and nothing else changed besides just more peace.

The few in laws who judge me or criticize me, remained the same. The in laws whose beautiful lives often bring up feelings of jealousy, still brought up feelings of jealousy.
The 14yr old who freaked out at my 3 yr old still caused feelings of anger, followed with feelings of compassion and understanding.
I felt, I didn't stuff or ignore. But I kept my heart open. Everything just passed through me and I came out a better person for it.

So try it.
Say to yourself
"Heart open, heart open"
Breathe deeply.
Imagine your heart open and shining with lots of energy.
Acknowledge the emotions, and then go back to "heart open".
And never stop.
Just never let it close.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

To be delivered October 10, 2013
Dear Lovely,
Today you have come to understand EXACTLY how an addict can fit the description the Savior gave when he says, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me…” (1)  Your knight in shining armor, the Patriarch of your home, has just confessed to his double-life. This truly is the very depth of betrayal.  It feels as though the earth has literally fallen out from beneath your feet.  The Prophet Jacob said to husbands and fathers, “Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children… and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you…” (2)  I know you can relate when he tells them, “many hearts have died, pierced with deep wounds.” (2) The Lord knows the depth of your wounds, he has felt all your pain before you did.  Looking back I can tell you, the Lord has prepared you for this very time of your life.
You’ve devoted everything to your husband, children and Heavenly Father as a stay at home mother with 3 children, one just an infant.  You don’t deserve what you have received. I know you don’t feel like Heavenly Father is close, I know that the feelings of the Spirit seem so far away. You can’t help but replay in your mind all the horrible things your husband has told you.  Right now you are truly in the “mists of darkness,” (3) just like Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon. But Lehi was led by the Savior, and so are you. If there is anything I could tell you, it is this; I know God loves you, he is guiding you, and he hears and answers your prayers, even though you can’t feel Him.  I know you feel betrayed in your covenants, but Heavenly Father has never betrayed you. When you don’t know where to turn next, look to your covenants, you will find answers.  One step at a time, you will know what to do.
This isn’t the end, this is the beginning of a new chapter of your life.  You will discover a beautiful, strong, brilliant, and gifted woman within you. You will also discover the power of your story, you will help so many women because of your wounds.  Only you hold the power to take your life back.  So, cry, kick and scream, pour out your heart to the Lord, really feel all your feelings and as you do, you will learn to trust yourself.  You will find renewed strength as you “wait upon the Lord.”(4)  Your own healing will take all you’ve got, but you are worth it.  You are enough. With or without your husband, you will “mount up, with wings as eagles.” (4)  I love you, and this is not your fault.
Sincerely, Lovely

 1. Matthew 15:8
2. Jacob 2:35
3. 1 Nephi 8:23,24
4. Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

His true character

I was taking with a good friend today.  She said, "but every time he gets mad his true character comes out, he is just a mean person."  

I've been thinking and thinking about this. I used to feel this way.  

When he would be sweet, I would think "sure, put on a nice show. Who are you really?"
I would do anything I could to get some sort of reaction out of him.  I would push all  his buttons just to see his "true character" come out.  

I felt that deep down he resented me and always would.  Why did I feel this way? Because every time he got mad, he would turn to this deep resentment for me. It seemed to be a common thread.  The common thread that he held to tighter and tighter, that he tried to hide, but that he couldn't always keep concealed.

His "true character" it seemed was this deep resentment for me. It came out all the time, of course it was his "true character".

But as he found deeper recovery, little by little, the spaces in between these bouts of resentment became longer and longer.

Even then, I thought, "he has just learned all the tricks from the counselors and he is just better at smooth talking."

It is terrifying not to really know the "true character" of your spouse.  One moment he is a hero, embracing repentance and sweating like a valiant warrior fighting for his life.  The next moment I may be lying next to Satan himself.

One day, in the raging storm of trauma, my sponsor said to me, "Just believe in his goodness.  Just believe that when he is doing nice things, THAT is who he really is."

What? Like a son of God? Like he came from the pre-existence? Like he has a divine destiny? Like he is actually the man that I thought I married? 

But as I tested it out, a little here, a little there, it became easier and easier because he became more and more consistent in his support and love and honesty and recovery... (Helping Her Heal by Doug Weiss probably saved our marriage, just throwing that out there...)

On the movie Secondhand Lions, The old uncle, Hub, gives his "what every boy needs to know to become a man speech". In it he says,

" Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honour, courage and virtue mean everything ; that power and money ... money and power mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this.... that love....true love never dies! Remember that boy ... remember that. Doesn't matter if it is true or not, a man should believe in those things , because those are the things worth believing in...... got that ?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

sacred things and know like you know like you know~

I am learning so much in my yoga teacher training. We are going through the "yoga bible" The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  The first book talks all about meditation and how to still your mind.  This is the real purpose of yoga, to still the mind.

Then, when the mind is still, you will see yourself as you really are.

For me, this means I will see my divine spirit, the one with all the potential, the one with all the righteous motives who came straight from being raised by Heavenly Parents, the one who is not tainted or stained by the world, the one who is already, well, just like God himself.

And so we are led through a yoga class full  of poses to end in Savasana.  Why? Because the point of all the poses, though as an added benefit they help with physical strength, flexibility, mental endurance, emotional health... the point is to exhuast the body in ALL ways, getting the mind completely still, so that at the end,  in meditation, you can see who you really are.

I've thought and thought about this. It seems so easy right?  Much of this first month of training I was thinking,

"Ya but I already KNOW who I am." 

But this weekend I realized something profound.  I know in my Head and in many ways I have a testimony, and therefore know in my heart through the Holy Spirit, who I am.

I am a daughter of God. 

He sent me here to gain a body, accepting my Savior and His Atonement every step of the way as I live His divine plan.  He guided me to His true church upon the earth.  He has given me strength and help and opportunities for growth. I am to follow His plan and make sacred covenants and receive sacred ordinances. I am to form eternal bonds with a family and with my husband, give other spirit  children the opportunity to come into this life. I get to be with these children forever.  Based on agency, I get to be with this husband forever, throughout all eternity.  And together He and I, as we follow God's will, relying on the Savior, grace by grace we become like Him and get to receive all that He has. We get to return to live with Him and we fulfill our potential.

We become Gods.  It's who we are.

But perhaps, because we (we, meaning members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are just handed this knowledge on a silver platter, we take it all for granted.

Because even though I know these things intellectually, and I know them in my testimony, meaning the Spirit has confirmed them to me, I don't really know who I am.  I have never met her. I have never sought to know her, or see her,  or really UNDERSTOOD WHAT this means for me and for my life.

Have you?

I mean really, how would I act if I REALLY knew?
How would my life be different?
 How would I perceive all my problems?
How would the "eternal perspective" really come to play in my life?
How would I view others?
How much better would I treat others?
How much more would I think of others and not myself?
How much less frustrated would I get with my children?  
After all, if I am THIS, then they, and everyone else are THIS also.

Years ago when I was about 2 years in  to the 12 steps, I sort of got a  glimpse, I think.  Based upon my behavior and feelings towards life,  I think I knew a bit more who I was... It was the first time that I really understood and knew for sure that God, as the Father of my Spirit,  really knows  me. It was the first time that "I am a  child of God"began to hold any weight.  Before that I didn't really know why it mattered. Well intellectually I knew why, but now it began to come to life for me.  But as I gained a more solid relationship with Him through admitting my total dependence on Him, submitting my will completely to Him, and experiencing the hope that comes from really trusting Him... I think I got a glimpse.  I remember the day that I felt no desire to curse the driver on the road who just cut  me off. And the day that the spilled cereal, for the 5th time that day, didn't phase me.  I remember that transformational time. Life was beautiful. That was when things with my husband were completely unknown to me.  I had rosy colored glasses to the extreme.  I was pregnant with our second child.  We had just graduated college, he didn't know "what he wanted to be when he grew up" and we moved out to the desert to work-in-exchange-for-rent.  I had no idea what our future held, but I was full  of hope and humility. Ready and willing to submit to all thing that the Father had for me.

My husband was impossible at that time.  He was hopeless and depressed,  but still pretending everything was awesome. He would make mindless, thoughtless decisions and I often found myself frustrated with him and his choices, so I took them to the Lord in prayer and happily gave them  to Him.  But I worried about him too.  I knew something was wrong, something was off.    He was lost. One day after going to the temple, I prayed and prayed for him.  I wanted to be able to

"See him as he really is"

I had prayed for this many times, but on this occasion, the Lord gave me a vision.  I saw my husband in the preexistence. I saw his desires, I saw his joy, I saw his confidence and his love for the Lord. I saw how capable he was, and how much he just shined.  It was truly a miracle.

Because of that vision, I changed.  How I saw him, how I felt about him, it all changed.  I treated him differently because (in the words of my yoga teacher), "I knew, like I knew, like I knew!"who he REALLY WAS (IS).

As I pondered this experience with relation to yoga and trying to see myself as I really am, I wondered...
Why did God show me  HIM? Why didn't God show me ME?  Why wasn't I asking to see ME?

In the Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali he says,
"Many people do not have that much confidence in their own hearts.  "Oh, how could I have such a wonderful heart with all this rubbish inside?"  In that case, you can think of the heart of a noble person....If you can't imagine that your heart is full of that Light, at least you can imagine it in his or her heart."

I had no confidence in myself.  In my mind, I was the screwed-up one, a convert from a broken home that was hopeless as a mother and wife and could hardly function from day-to-day.  But not him.  He was the Returned Missionary, the Gospel Scholar, the Father,  the Patriarch, the Leader of our home, the bright and shining star, the valiant knight on the white horse. I could see him, as he really was, because I believed in him, with all my heart.

I could have never been shown at that time,who I really am. I had no belief in myself.  I  would have mistaken the vision for a silly day-dream.  A vain prideful wish.  A conceited desire.  I was trash, in my own mind and heart.   Even God couldn't have shaken that from me over night. It was ingrained since childhood.

Well, as we all know, my husband fell off his white horse that he never really was on to begin with.  And with that, my hope in all of humanity went crashing to the ground.  All of a sudden, it seemed no one was trustworthy, everyone must be out to get me, and I was completely alone (so I thought).

My rosy colored glasses were gone, and all the hope that came to me in that vision, was also gone.

Also, all my hope in my Heavenly Father was gone. All of a sudden, spilled cereal was completely overwhelming and made me raging mad. People on the freeway were enemies to be damned to hell.   My own children existed just to make my life miserable.  Everything frightened me and I was on edge constantly.  I LOVE P.T.S.D. Betrayal Trauma! seriously guys?!?!

Who are we?

Why are we here?

Why do we have to suffer?

What is the friggin POINT!?

But what was borne from that terrible tragic D-Day, was a new hope in myself.   It came slowly.  It came as I just did what people told me to do to find peace.
It came as I did self-care.
It came every time I was on my knees, ready to give up, but then didn't.
It came in the anger.
It came in the resolve.
It came in the boundaries.
It came, as I reclaimed even a portion of my life back.
Slowly, it comes in all these times.

And now, I think more than any other time in my life, I would greatly rejoice to  really know who I am.  I would believe it. I wouldn't take it for granted. I wouldn't shame myself.  I would cherish it. I would hold it close.

I want to "know, like I know, like I know," who I really am.  

I want to know so that I can see my kids more clearly. I want to know so I can treat others more gracefully. I want to know so that I can make positive choices for myself. I want to know so that I can maintain an eternal perspective in my trials.  I want to know so that I can serve the Lord.  I want to know so that I can give away my selfish and shameful nature, and replace it with  me. The real me.
So the quest begins.  To know myself.  To really know who I am.  To get a glimpse of my Spirit.   The Me that God made me to be.  I know I can't do it by myself. But when God wills it for me, it will happen.

For today, I am still just trying to survive to the next day. 
(Did I mention how much I love betrayal trauma?)

Friday, October 17, 2014

mourning emotional trauma

Last night we went to a couples group forum, from a "Lifestar Alumni".  The couple spoke of their story, they had been in  recovery for 3.5 years.  The man was introduced to porn in his early 20's, struggled a few years on  his own, then worked with his Bishop, told his wife, joined lifestar, and is now happy and sober.  It was a dream story.  I understood from the moment he started speaking that this story was going to be VERY different from our story.  But to my surprise, this morning, it hurts.

One of the first questions out of my mouth to her, once their story was finished, was "Did you ever feel like he didn't support you in your trauma?"
And her answer was "NO."

"You mean he never got mad at you?"
Then he piped in, and with all sincerity, and over the course of the evening, with tears in his eyes he said,
"I knew I had caused it."
"I made this bed, now I need to lay in it."
"I would come home and just immediately ask what she needed of me.   A  break from the kids? Time to get out and exercise? To just be there with her and hold her."
"I did worry that she would never want to be intimate with me again, but I knew I had to just be there for her."
"We talked about sex quite a bit, but I never got upset that she didn't want to have sex."
"I knew that she needed time to heal."
"Sometimes I would ask what she needed and she would say, just ride this wave with me, so I did."
"I called every day at lunch."
"I  checked in every night."
"I learned to tell her I loved her all the time, with all the reasons."
"I knew she felt worthless, so I tried to build her up."

It took her 2 years when she finally looked around and felt "normal" again.

And his whole recovery involved supporting his wife to help her heal.

In fact, they overcame his addiction together. She was his greatest support, and he was hers.

And today, I am mourning that THAT never was us.  Never could have been us.

The porn, the addiction. It brought so much trauma.
But the blaming, the defensiveness, the cruelty,  the impatience,  the pressure  to be intimate or sexual before I was ready, the general lack of understanding of my feelings, the big "WHY ARE YOU STILL FREAKING OUT?" that loomed over my head in  just about every interaction over the last year, it hurt worst of all.

His actions sent me a message that said, "My actions really weren't THAT bad." Which caused me to question everything I thought our marriage was founded on, all over again.  I even remember asking him in the very very beginning, right before I kicked him out, how he would feel if he found out I cheated on  him. He responded with saying; he wouldn't really care, which was why he couldnt understand why I was freaking out.  That was his addict brain talking. Barf. It makes me feel like I want to purge.  What about our temple covenants? What about this church that we belong to, and have made covenants to REPRESENT the Savior? What about our eternal family?

Today, I am mourning all the pain that came AFTER the disclosure.  Pain that doesnt include relapses. Pain that doesnt include porn or lust.

Pain that just came  from a broken boy, who had never really stepped  into  his man shoes. For the worst year of my life, he wasnt really there for me. He spent the year recovering so that he could BEGIN TO TRY, to be there for me.

My theory, about the gentleman from last night, is that he DID learn how to be a man.  But, in his manhood, he was caught off guard, complacent, and searching for something.  So Satan craftily gave him porn.  When his covenants hit him upside-the-head, he listened, and stepped up, stepped back into his man shoes, which were worn and familiar. And took care of his shit.  He never relapsed again. He crosses his every thought, action, glance, interaction, just like every man should. He needed very little emotional support, he needed  a very shallow "low" to  have the point drilled into his soul.

For most of our poor husbands exposure came between 8-11 years old and they have no clue how to be a man to their wives. They have tried, they have "pseudomatured". But they have never really awoken their wise  man within them.  They never knew how.

A boy, stuck in the body of a man.

My life right now is very different. Which is why I am mourning.  It is now safe for me to mourn this aspect of our recovery.  My husband has been MORE man and LESS boy, for 3 months. He feels like this stage of recovery is the stage where he can see humans as humans, not objects.  He sees women dressed immodestly as daughters of God, with a face, with a whole soul.  He sees his our children as real people. He sees his business clients as human beings, and responds to them quickly and with respect. He even cares about his home-teachee.  But most of all, most important to me,

he sees me.

Really sees me. 

His knee jerk reaction is to objectify me. For instance,when I got home from Togetherness Project last week, I was in trauma.  I warned him before I got there. I was low, and struggling.  It was mostly because of my relationship with my mom, not my relationship with him. I told him that. But it did affect him because I didnt want to be close to him.  And his knee jerk reaction was to get mad at me.  After a few hours, he changed.  He stopped, and he started loving me, and he started listening to me to  hear me. And of course by then I was deeply traumatized and it took about another 24 hours of him repeating over and over how much he loves me and wants to support me, calling me back quickly, asking me how I am feeling and seeming genuinely interested, before I was able to get my guard down and be close with him again.

But just three months ago, he was so mad at me. I was "emotionally abusive" he would say.  I  was "a hypocrite" he would say. I felt like everything I said or did was twisted and used against me in some form or fashion.  He was sober, but he resented me in almost every thought, word and action.   He was trapped there and didn't know how to get out.

I don't wish I had married the man who spoke last night.
I just wish the boy I married knew how to be a man sooner than he did.
There is lots of room for forgiveness here.
But I certainly am not going to force myself to move on and forgive. Just earlier this week I was so full of fear that he would just return to his old ways and stay that way forever.  He is still working on it.  And I am glad he is.  It isn't fair or right to have to deal with anything else.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Whole New Kind of Hard

I didnt write what was actually going on here, on my blog, for a few months. I felt kind of crazy. H was on the couch, off the couch, on the couch, off the couch, until finally I gave him his own bedroom.  I would get triggered and dark and awful, but the trauma would last a shorter amount of time.  And then when things were good, things were REALLY good. Better than ever before. Truly the entire summer was an up and down roller coaster like that. On both sides of the extreme.  Part of it was the fact that I still was trying to decide if he was actually serious about this whole recovery thing, as well as helping me heal and restoring our marriage.  Every day, I never knew.

When I was just beginning the recovery journey, I wrote this blog post. I couldn't understand why some people just STOPPED using their blog to process their life just because their husband was sober!! I concluded that things must be going SO WELL in their life and in their marriage that they just don't have time, or the need, to get on their blogs any more. I thought things must just be SO GOOD that no one is writing because none of us, wallowing in the depths of hell, want to read post after post about how life is sooo good.

I think I was wrong. First of all, I would love to read post after post about how recovery has paid off.  But unfortunately, I can't write that for anyone. Because my husband has relapsed only once in the last year and that relapse was over 6 months ago, but we certainly have NOT experienced only bliss.  All the times he was on the couch didn't have any thing to do with pornography, or masturbation, or infedelity, or sexual objectification, or lusting. But really once sobreity begins settling in, there is this whole other can of worms that is open and spilling out that finally the sober addict and I can begin to work on.  Up until this point, I would constantly come to my husband tryong to get him to address this nasty can of worms but he wasnt really able to see it clearly, EVER, because he was so numb from his addiction.  Now we are here, we are both addressing the can of worms, but H's brain is still broken. He has all these false connections in his mind. He has all these defaults that cause him SO MUCH added pain. And honestly,

THIS period of our lives requires more humility from him than the initial embarking on recovery.

It requires more humility than admitting he has an addiction.

It requires more humility than spilling every horrible deed committed. to his wife, on D-day,

 It requires more humility than the day he submitted and moved out of our home.

It requires more humility than the countless, hundreds upon hundreds of hours that he has spent attending groups and counseling.

This period of our lives requires SO MUCH humility, and without it, we get stuck, we cannot move forward, we literally CANNOT see solutions.

It requires a day by day humility, and that is the real difference.  And sometimes, for a broken addict brain, the humility just can't be found right away!

And from me, this period has required MORE patience.
Patience while he figures things out.
Patience while he tries on different "shoes" to see if they "fit".
Patience while he figures out who he is.

Its one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

Because let me tell you, patience was wearing really thin the day I kicked him out, a year ago. Patience was wearing really thin the day I received the full disclosure.
Patience was beginning to look more like submission to abuse there for a while in my life.
So to ask any one of us wopas to just be more patient, is seriously asking us to stretch farther than we are able.  And yet, some how we do it. For me it has come through the grace of God, and the little glimpses of hope I receive when things are going really well.

It has also required lots of introspection, vulnerability, and humility on my part.  I have had to find room for forgiveness.  I have had to make lots of room and time, almost giving all my daily effort, to feeling my emotions which have continued to be overwhelming and extremely dark. I have had to accept that trauma takes longer to heal from than addiction takes to recover from.  I OFTEN lag behind my husband right now.  And when H is acting like he is annoyed with my trauma, or is being "a hurry up guy" as Doug Weiss calls it, then I begin to just feel resentful and more and more pain and it feels impossible to heal with that kind of negativity and pressure!!  It is in these times that I would start implementing boundaries and putting him farther, and farther, and farther away from me... All in an attempt to just HEAL!

However, on the flip-side, when H is open to feeling the pain of the fact that he has caused me pain (because of course it pains him), and sit with me in my pain, and do loving things for me when he knows I am in pain then sometimes he takes the pain all away.  Men really like to fix things, and if they are in a hurry to make our pain go away, to "FIX" it, then it hurts really bad and makes it all worse.  But if they do these loving, empathetic, Christlike things, then really,
they can fix it! 
MOST of the time!  
And we end up feeling SO close, closer than ever, literally EVER. I feel closer to him than ever.

My pain is one thing, but the thing H has often struggled with in the past was my fear and anxiety.  This has taken a lot of effort and fine tuning for each of us, and introspection on my part, but we have made these into connecting moments as well.  It requires, a lot of times, that he read between the lines a little bit, and me too. What I mean is that, initially, my fear/anxiety about the future, about him, about what he is going to do today, about how this or that action could lead to a relapse, etc.etc.etc. it would all come out basically as lashing out at him.  I would begin grilling him about his recovery, or trying to get him to see how this or that action is really a BAD idea and should be avoided. He would listen to me and begin to feel really bad about himself and his decisions and begin to doubt his recovery. NOW we are both able to recognize these times as bargaining (as Doug Weiss describes it).  Here is what I really want in those moments:
I want him to recognize what I am doing, sit down, look me in the eye, and lovinging and sincerely say, "Lovely, I really did do all those things that I said I did.  My addiction really was that bad.  I own it, and I also am working and changing it.  I hear your concerns.  Tell me more about how you are FEELING." <Insert me, beginning to cry, HERE> I share my feelings, not "I feel like you...." But the deeper, underlying feelings, like "I feel scared" or "I dont want the pain of the past" or "I'm so sad about ...." and I am able to find what is going on underneath my anxiety-attack-on-him.  And then, he just holds me, and tells me everything is going to be okay.  He reassures me that he loves me, and that God is with us.  And he is COMPLETELY okay with my tears.

Sometimes, I help him in this process by being introspective as I am talking and recognizing when I am going into a fear spiral.  Then I can say, "Can you just tell me everything is going to be okay? Can you tell me what you are doing to reassure me? I just feel....." And begin going into my deeper underlying emotions.  It works so well for us.  But it never works when his default is to blame me, when his addict mind is taking over. I'm telling you its humility to the DUST.

They say emotionally maturity stops when the addiction starts.  I have talked about this a million times on here and I feel like it comes out of my mouth almost every single day when talking to support friends.  So my husband has been a 9 year old trapped in a man's body, accepting a man's responsibility, for years and years.  I saw him mature with no longer running to porn and lust as a coping mechanism, first.  Then, I saw him mature with our finances as well.  I saw him mature in many of his relationships with his family members.  But when it came to me, he was still a 9 year old boy.  A child who couldn't hold my pain, couldn't sit with me, thought only of himself and his own needs (as is the natural way for a child), and wanted to blame me for everything.  The wise man in my husband KNEW the RIGHT thing to do, but he couldn't hold it consistently because his little boy within him would want to take over and default to the blame etc.  So he would be supportive and loving and then leave for work, or wake up the next morning, let some time pass, and he was full of resentment towards me.

He has really learned how to be a man.  I mean that phrase in the most loving sense, let me tell you what I mean. I have seen it more consistently than ever before.  He has had to really listen to his deeper, painful feelings and honor and validate them in order to mature out of this.  It hurts him to know that he has hurt me, so he has to deal with his own pain in a healthy, self-love way, that allows him to:
be a man with me and hold his wife.  
Be a man who isnt afraid to FEEL his emotions.
Be a man who restores his relationship.  
Be a man who commits and follows through with his word.
Be a man who admits his weaknesses.
Be a man who asks for help, and humble receives it. 
Be a man who says "sorry" or "I apologize."
Be a man who puts God and his recovery first.
Be a man who does whatever he has to to fulfill his roles and responsibilities.
Be a man who is sensitive to his wife and her needs.
Be a man who is willing to talk about his needs, and his wants, and his feelings.
Be a man who is willing to be transparent, and really honest in all things.

This is not the man I married. I thought for a time, that I was working towards getting back to the man I married.  But no, this is not him.  This is a better man, than the man I married. I am experiencing the best time of our marriage, ever.

Certainly a part of me (did I mention that fear has been my annoying best friend for like a long time?) feels like I am dancing, prancing, through a beautiful sunshiny field collecting flowers in a basket in a sundress.... and eventually I am going to skip right into a trap and fall straight through the earth slamming straight on the concrete... finally waking up from my fairytale dream to reality.  Because this feels better than reality.  But I try to honor those feelings, speak to the little girl within me, and just love myself and be gentle with myself.  Then I try really hard to live in the present moment.  Because if this IS just a fairytale, I don't want to miss a single second of my fairytale.  I want to experience it. I hope it lasts. 

is anyone gagging yet ;)
I'm in love! I'm in Love! and I dont care who knows it!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Part 2: how my little girl gives me the best self-care

So you will remember from my last post, that I am talking to myself :) I Listen to my little girl within me.  Once I have identified how I am feeling, I also need to validate my feelings. I talk back to the little girl, out loud if I can, repeating the emotions she is feeling, feeling empathy with her, being compassionate with her, and telling her that I love her and that her feelings are important. After experiencing negative emotions it is important to do self care.  So then I ask, with my hand on my heart:
"What do I need to feel cared-for?"

When I am in touch with my little girl, this opens more doors to self-care.  Sometimes she wants to throw mud, (an anger-releasing activity)
 or play dolls with my 5 year old,
 or look at old pageant pictures,
 or create,
 or sleep on rose petals.

She helps me get creative. Don't you hate it when you go to do self-care, and you can't figure out what you need?! Nothing sounds quite right?! This helps a lot. 
Also, when I am in touch with her, I am more willing to do whatever it takes to really feel cared for. It's not a chore.   I am no longer doing things to "fix" myself or to "save" myself.  It's an act of love, an act of self-love.

Sometimes I am needing connection:
*Connection with God: 
-scriptures, watching a Mormon message, listening to / playing hymns, singing, going on a nature walk, prayer
*Connection with friends:
-I call people. I have every wopa in my phone with an "R" in front of their name (standing for "Recovery" so that I can easily go to that section and call on people until someone answers...) I invite people to meet me at the park. Sometimes I tell my friends, "I really need validation and support. Can you please tell me I am awesome?"  There are so many people who love you. How do I know? because The WORST lie ever that our "bad guy" tells us is that no one cares, no one would want to talk to us, we have no friends, no one knows what we are going through.  This was one of my worst lies that I believed forever!!! Its just not true. We are humans. We are hardwired for connection and I GUARANTEE there is someone waiting to hear from you, wanting to connect just as bad as you do. (heck, if you know me, then CALL ME!!!)
*Connection with a mother:
-A lot of times my little girl within me really wants to connect with my mother.  Its a natural, divine feeling planted within me by God.  But most of the time, my mother really isn't available.  Physically she is, but in every other way, she is not.  So I have learned to look for "mothers" in my life.  Wonderful women in my ward, and in my community who are older than me, who are willing to love me, and who seem lovely.  I have several.  And sometimes, I call them.  I tell them, "I just really needed a mother to talk to about this." Its not the same.  It will never be the same as having my real mother reach through and fulfill her role as mother in my life.  But it helps me, A LOT.  And in the meantime, I form sweet relationships with older women who probably need someone in their lives to appreciate them.  Heaven knows I DO appreciate them.  And no one would deny a little girls need for her mother...

*Physical needs:
-My little girl within me is really tuned-in with my physical body.  Just like I watch my 5 year old go CRAZY when she has to wait 5 minutes for dinner to be ready (she is hungry)... Or when I watch her climb around and rough-house like a roaring wild animal just before bed-time to only 30 seconds later find her sound asleep in her bed (she is tired). Or when my little 3 year old comes to me to show me his "owie" the tiny red spot on his skin barely visible to the eye (he is hurting).  My little girl within me can tell me what I need.  When we are adults, we get all these mixed emotional and mental signals.  But a little child knows what they need.  Sometimes its exercise, MANY times for me it is FOOD (I have an eating disorder).  She almost always chooses healthy foods because she is needing real nourishment.  Not that hand-full of chocolate chips that I would have gone for, had I not consulted her.  And sometimes, it is sleep.  

*Emotional needs:
-Sometimes my little girl within me wants to make decisions.  You've heard this before:
Don't make a permanent decision for your temporary emotion.
-Boundaries:Sometimes I have to reassure her that I care.  Especially when my husband is talking to me.  Now that she has gotten some confidence in me, as wise woman, sometimes she will say, "See you are listening to him again and he is manipulating us.  You are letting him kick me again." To which I will evaluate what is happening, and many times will respond with, "your feelings are important to me. But you are safe.  We will go and do self-care after this talk is over because you are important to me. However, I have also committed to be in a relationship with this man and supporting him is important to me." I have also formed boundaries around certain forms of emotion abuse. Manipulation, blame, victimization, or lying, just to name a few. I just leave the conversation. It is my way of protecting her.  I am really ACTUALLY doing a lot to take good care of her.  Sometimes, she would have me just leave the marriage. Not because she is bad, because she is so very hurt.  But its not her decision.  I accept her input, I listen to her, I validate her.  My wise woman adds her thoughts. The Holy Spirit adds God's thoughts. And THAT is when a decision is made.
+So I have boundaries on her:My little girl does not make decisions for my life, but I accept and appreciate her input.
+I have boundaries to protect her: I will not allow other people to ____,____,_____.
+And I have boundaries to preserve and love her: I do self-care after negative emotions and after hard conversations with my husband and after I feel triggered, and I at least do 2 self-care items every day.

-Validation: Sometimes, when she is screaming within me... You know, when my tears are literally waiting to be spilled at even the slightest thing, all day long, or my heart feels like it is going to burst within me, or every single thing around me makes me boiling mad and I am clenching my fists trying to keep my cool... (those are all her... screaming... "HEAR ME!!!!!! HEAR ME!!!! Like an out of control toddler who can't get any attention from anyone but NEEDS to be HEARD...) Then I have to take time out to hear her.  That may look like journaling, blogging, talking to a trusted/safe support person, praying to God, putting my hand on my heart and just really really listening to her.  She doesn't ever misbehave unless she is ignored or hurt. Seriously.  And I have spent most of my life shoving her into a dark corner and telling her to shut up.  So I try really hard to identify when I am doing that and stop right away!!! Most of all I want to send the message to myself that my feelings are important, and are deserving of my time.

Before getting to know my little girl within me, I used to think I was so crazy. Literally. Sometimes I would be overwhelmed with my depression and felt so afraid of my emotions because I had no idea what they were, how to control them, and how to control myself!! I would often think, "What is wrong with me!?" I would try to FORCE "let go and let God" without any self-validation or acknowledgement.  It never worked. Now, I listen, I do validate my emotions, I feel. And I still pray. I still give things to God.  And I sometimes have to do that over and over!! But that is real, that is authentic, that is human.  

I will finish this post with a reiteration of how much this is blessing my life.  I have learned there is a beautiful sweet little girl there inside of me.  She is good. She is God's masterpiece. She is sweet and perfect just as she is. Its is her job to enjoy the stars, feel the sand on her toes, play with dolls, play with my children, curl her hair, swing on the swings, play dress-up, and FEEL, just feel.  She is wonderful.  And she is worth listening to, protecting and taking care-of.

What have you learned about the little girl/boy within you? Will you join me in having multiple conversations with yourself? ;)
If you're searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Part 1:step by step meeting "my little boy/girl within me"

I have been working on this post for a very long time.  I have picked it up and put it back down again and again.  I have ran into several road bumps while writing it.  But I know this needs to be posted.  I know this tool/understanding/exercise, whatever you want to call it, has helped me tremendously and I am not going to allow any more road bumps to hinder this from getting to you.  Whoever "you" are.

I am going to do this whole thing in the feminine and in first-person for the sake of continuity and the flow of the post.  But don't be fooled that this is only an exercise for women. My husband has used this as well and it has been invaluable in both of our individual recoveries, as well as the beginning to communication and understanding each other in the recovery of our marriage.

This piece has been one of those major "aha" moments for my healing.  I'm sure you will read through it several times before you get the guts to do it, I get it, its not the norm to have conversations with yourself.  But I can tell you, it has been a game changer for me. I understand myself so much more clearly.  I am beginning to know and love myself for the first time....ever......

Place 3 chairs in a circle facing each other.
I sit in one.
The other two are for me also......
We are going to deconstruct parts of me that I probably already knew were there, but I never fully acknowledged their presence.

So we will say, 
I sit in the white chair.
My little girl within me sits in the blue chair.
For now, not to complicate things, we will leave out the red chair but we will get to it later.

I speak as myself, I am an adult, I am a "wise woman".
So, me, sitting in the white chair, as the wise woman.
I say to my little girl within me (who is sitting in the blue chair):
Then I think. I ask myself silently,
"What would my little girl say back?"

Now, I know what you are thinking, this feels forced. This feels a little strange.  Its hard. how do I know what she is saying? maybe you are rolling your eyes, or just reading this and thinking I am a crazy nut. That is okay. Just do it anyways :)
*It may help you to grab a picture of yourself as a little girl and hold it, look at it, or place it in the chair designated for your little girl within you.
*It also may help to place your hand on your heart.  Your little girl within you represents all your pure emotions, the innocent, wonderful you, the playful child version of yourself.  She lives within you, and she influences you.  
It is time to meet her.

So, I said 
And what did she say back?
Speak it out loud.

I say, "its nice to meet you."
She says something like, "I know you very well."
(It all comes out of my mouth. In other words, speak everything that is said in this conversation.  This is a conversation between myself as my wise-woman, and myself as my little-girl within-me.)

Now I talk to her, I have a conversation with her.
Maybe at first I ask her ice-breaker questions.
"What do you like to do?"
"What is your favorite color?"

Everyone loved my post about my experience meeting my little girl within me.  Just as it changed my life, it gave many people food for thought.  Especially the line that my counselor gave me,
"We parent OURSELVES the way WE were PARENTED." The truth is, my wise-woman AND my husband both have beat-up on my little girl for years. (If you haven't read that previous post, click the link above. It will help clarify what is going on in THIS post.)

Maybe now, I get a little deeper.
Was I neglected as a child, was I abused? Was I loved? Was I cherished?
How do I do those things to my little girl within me? 
There is no judgement here, I have done the best I could.  This is my chance to connect with her. This is my chance to rekindle a relationship of love and trust with her; this is just the beginning.
Can I talk to her about it?
My conversation went something like this,
"You had to grow up too fast. You were so sad, so alone, but no one ever gave you a chance to feel your emotions. How do you feel now?"
She responded with something like,
"Thank you for acknowledging me. I take whatever love I can get since I know it won't last."

It took me about 30 minutes before I could really hear what my little girl was saying. In fact I was in the car on the way home from my counseling appointment before I heard it.  Her response shows a major loss of trust in the wise woman. In other words, I don't trust myself.  How can I possibly move forward and triumph in life when I don't even trust myself?
Also, my counselor said in her first conversation with her little girl, she said to her, "you can trust me now, I am going to take good care of you." And her little girl said, "F*** you! You've never been there for me!"

If my little girl within me was crying out one thing, what would it be?
What is the one thing she always tries to get me to hear?
How do I, my wise-woman, respond?

Am I surprised at her voice? 

She is real.

Am I surprised at her emotion? Is she mad? Is she hurt? What is she saying to me?

An invaluable truth I have learned: I don't HAVE TO parent her, the way I have been parented.
"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." -Maya Angelou
It is important to re-establish trust in this first conversation, and in most conversations with my little girl.  So I often say to her, "You can trust me now. I am trying.  I will keep you safe. I will take care of you."

Now lets bring in the third chair.

The third chair represents that voice. You know, that one.. It can be ED (eating disorder), it can be Ms. Perfectionist, Mr. Naysayer, the Addict, Mr. Satan's-voice, Mr. Shame, Mr. Liar, Mr. Not-good-enough.  Whoever it is, it is the voice of lies. But it needs a name, and occupies space in your head.  Its time to meet him. (I will be referring to mine as a male, because mine is usually my Eating Disorder and his name is Ed so he is male...)

This is Mr. Liar     (insert the name that best fits this voice for you, here)
Mr. Liar is really really hoping that I don't see him. All the time he is hoping that I don't see him.
If I don't see him, he has more power over me.
He whispers things to me, and I think they are coming from ME! I think they are true! When I can see him for what he is, and recognize another source that is feeding me these lies, then I have power to recognize them as LIES and not truth.

I say hello to him:
"Hello Mr. Liar. I do see you."

What does he say back to me?
Maybe he says, "This is a stupid exercise. You look like a fool. If anyone saw you doing this, you would never be loved."
Maybe he says nothing.

I begin to question, is he even there? Maybe I am making this all up.  
I try to remember the last really mean thought I had in my head about myself...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Oh! There he is, found him.
(women, If you're really struggling to hear his voice, take a look in the mirror.  He seems to always be standing by our sides letting us know where he doesn't think we measure-up....l.i.e.s.....)

He says, "You are a terrible wife.  Waa waa waa you are always in trauma.  You are not good enough for a better man.  You are not good enough for a real man who keeps his covenants. You are too ________,___________,____________."

This is where I REALLY get to know my little girl.
Before I let my wise-woman speak back to him, I put my hand on my heart, I look to the blue chair and I ask my little girl within me,
"how does this make you feel?"
I really listen to her.  I really look at her.
This is the most powerful form of empathy: Empathy with MYSELF.
Are the things that he is saying true about this sweet innocent little girl?
Now, how do I respond to her?
Maybe I say, "I am so sorry he has talked to you that way.  What he said is not true.  I am sorry for your pain, I am so glad you told me."
Then I look at Mr. Liar and as my "wise woman" I tell him, 
"Those are lies. I have believed your lies in the past, but I won't anymore. I am going to protect my little girl, I am standing up for my little girl."
How does he respond?
Now, how do I respond?
Now, how does my little girl feel?
And so on...

At this point I would like to say a few things.  This conversation does not need to be so structured every time. I have never pulled out chairs before, but I do that in my counselors office and it helps especially when I get out of touch with "WHO" exactly is saying "WHAT"
Another tool she gave me is to simply write out on a piece of paper in columns:

My Little Girl             /               Wise Woman                       /                   Mr. Liar

And hold the conversation that way, on paper. My counselor warned never to put the little girl next to the "bad guy". Made sense to me, so I never asked exactly why.

I don't need to do any seeking to figure out the negative talk in my head, from whoever it's coming from.  The negative voice seems to always scream so loud it's the only thing I can hear.  So, when I recognize it or feel a little "off" I will go to a quiet place, put my hand on my heart, and ask the little girl how she is feeling.  Often the emotions that surface are much deeper than what I would've realized if I had just asked myself how I was feeling.  Sometimes I am able to identify a specific false belief, and my wise-woman will step-in again, to protect my little girl and defend her, because she is worth it.  Often identifying the negative talk and then stating the truth is very helpful, and increases trust between my little girl and wise-woman.  They can work together beautifully.  

This leads into self-care:
Once I have identified how I am feeling, I also need to validate my feelings. I talk back to the little girl, out loud if I can, repeating the emotions she is feeling, feeling empathy with her, being compassionate with her, and telling her that I love her and that her feelings are important.  Then I ask:
"What do I need to feel cared-for?"

(Wait for Part 2, on how meeting my little girl within me has allowed me to really tap into the best self care formula.)

I have learned there is a beautiful sweet little girl there inside of me.  She is good. She is God's masterpiece. She is sweet and perfect just as she is. Its is her job to enjoy the stars, feel the sand on her toes, play with dolls, play with my children, curl her hair, swing on the swings, play dress-up, and FEEL, just feel.  She is wonderful.  And she is worth listening to, protecting and taking care-of.
yep, this is really me ;)

What have you learned about the little girl/boy within you? Will you join me in having multiple conversations with yourself? ;)
If you're searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror.