Friday, October 28, 2016

Ten Stupid Things I did to Screw up my Marriage (Part 1)

If you've been following my blog, you know that I just came through a pretty rough 4 month separation from my husband of 21 years. If you are closer to the situation, you know that he was the one who initiated the separation. I've had so much amazing support and truly learned some fantastic lessons that have forever changed me.

I know that our separation came as a huge shock to everyone who knew us, because we were the "perfect" couple. We had the "perfect" family. We live in a lovely home, drive nice cars, go to church together every Sunday, go on date night every Friday, eat family dinners together, and do all of the other things that happy families do. But the truth is, its not always as good as it looks.  

I have talked to too many men and women over the last few months to believe that our situation is totally unique. We are not the only ones suffering and I feel compelled to share in a really authentic way what part I played. The breaking point did not come because of a drug addiction or marital infidelity, or any host of BIG issues that people suspect in situations like ours. It came because of seemingly innocuous practices that built up over years.

This is why I am so passionate about HEAL MOM FIRST. If you are not happy and healthy, neither is your marriage, and neither are your kids. It's that simple.

1. I relied on him to make me happy.  'You are my Everything!" "I don't know what i would do without you!" "You make me so happy!" These are all phrases that we hear daily and they sound great on the surface. Who doesn't want to hear someone say those things? But being in charge of someone else's happiness is not a burden anyone should have to carry. In my life, this simply meant that if He was having a good day, I was having a good day. If he was having a grumpy day, I was having a grumpy day.  I have learned that one of the most important skills you need to develop is the ability to CREATE JOY for yourself.

2. I used my family relationships to define my value. I felt like I had value because I was a good Mom. I had value because I was a good wife. We had value because we were a happy, forever family. My worth as a person was completely wrapped up in these roles, which are important, but had become TOO important in my life. I have value because I am a daughter of God, because I am alive, because I can serve and make a difference in the lives of everyone I touch. My family are some of those people, but those relationships are not the only thing that defines me.  When we define OUR value based on someone else, we feel the need to control how that person shows up and that is not cool. 

3.  I was a perfectionist.  I really love to stretch and grow and develop. That's a good thing, and I believe a God-given desire to become more like Him. Perfectionism happens when your desire to be better, which in perfectionists is fueled by a deep innate fear of not being enough, becomes more important to you than your own health and happiness or the health and happiness of those around you. Another key component of perfectionism is that no matter how hard you try, its never good enough. I chose a lot of good things. I chose exercise, and reading and mentoring, and homeschooling, and clean eating, and the list goes on. Those are all GOOD things. But somehow I was never good enough for myself and that meant that I had to keep trying and pushing in a never-ending cycle. Thats no fun to live with.

4. I allowed other people's expectations of me (us)  to dictate my actions, and I expected my family to go along. You know how this looks, because most of us live it every day. The neighbors lawn is literally greener than ours, so we need to work on our lawn so we won't bring shame on the neighborhood.  The church choir needs more members and everyone knows we sing, therefore we must join the choir and attend practice every Sunday. The school needs volunteers and good moms always volunteer, therefore I must volunteer. It's not that taking care of lawns, singing in the choir, or volunteering at school are bad things, but when you are drowning in the requirements of everyday life, they are not essential things. The truth is that when we over commit ourselves because we feel its required or expected of us, we are giving our power away to people who don't deserve it.

5. I was blinded by pride. I am a super spiritual person. I study my scriptures every day. I meditate and pray a lot. I attend church faithfully and I try really hard to live a good life. It is amazing to me that in the case of my most important relationship, I was blind. I couldn't see that I was so fixated on what I thought was best for our family and our marriage that I didn't allow any room for him to have a different opinion. I didn't see it at the time, but it really was "my way or the highway". This shows up in small things like how chores are done and what movies we choose to watch and big things like what standards we set for our kids. The truth is that in marriage, there must be total humility and total willingness to submit in both partners. There can be very few absolutes in a successful relationship. 

This may be uncomfortable for you to read. If you see yourself in some of these behaviors and you want to "do the work", I invite you to join our FB group Heal Mom First-Becoming Healthy Happy Moms and find a supportive group of women in the same boat. For more structured support,  message me for information on my upcoming group mentoring program where I will coach a  small group through some really powerful tools that will help you develop personal habits and practices to Create JOY, shed guilt and shame and learn to manage your emotions so you can be the person you want to be.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

On Strike for JOY

I've been on strike for the past 3 months.  It was the best thing I ever did. For me, it took a major life crisis to open my eyes to the fact that I was on a rat wheel. I was running endlessly from one task to another, one appointment to another, one goal to another, for what? For the kids! For my family! For my husband! For my team! All of those activities are what held our family together, or so I thought. Our identity was made up of a million things like choir, homeschool, church, healthy eating, essential oils, entrepreneurship, and a million other things and they all depended on me and on my schedule. I HAD to do those things because If I didn't, surely something would explode.

And then one day it did. It was a day just like every other where I woke up at 5am to read my scriptures so I could leave at 5:45am to work out so I could be home by 7:15am to shower so I could be ready for devotional by 8:00am and I could slow dance with my husband so he could leave for work right at 8:15am. But when I got home from the workout, he asked to talk to me and right there in our bathroom, it all fell apart. He was leaving. He wasn't happy in our marriage and hadn't been for a long time. After years of working to overcome our personality differences and trying to keep up with my unrealistic schedules and expectations, He was done.  Done? What do you mean Done?  I couldn't wrap my mind around it. Sure, we had struggled, but done? And in that moment, my whole world felt like it was breaking apart, and I thought I would die. I wished I could die. I had never conceived of a life as a single mom. The words were poison on my tongue. Divorced.

My whole identity revolved around being a wife and a mother, and if those weren't ME then who was I?  Did I have any value? Could my life have meaning and purpose if I failed at the very thing I valued most? Was there hope to ever be happy again? I knew that my life depended on me finding the answers to those questions.

So I went on strike for joy. I hadn't allowed myself to do anything just for the joy of it for years. Everything I did was done because it was right, productive, healthy, educational, spiritually uplifting, good for the kids, or character building. On that day, I decided that I wasn't going to do anything If I couldn't do it for joy. If JOY is the purpose of my existence, I was determined to figure out how to feel it. And I did. I found the greatest joy I have ever felt in the middle of the most painful experience of my life. And because of that, I am changed. I am different. I am better. I am stronger than I was before. I am a better woman, wife, and mother than I was before.

My message to you today is don't wait for a crisis to start living your life for joy. Go on strike now. Stop doing all of the things you are doing because you think you have to. Because other people expect you to. Because that's what good mom's do. Clear your plate and your schedule of all the activities and obligations that drain our cup instead of filling it. Just stop. 

Ask yourself this question: What brings me JOY?

Reading a romance novel? do it.
Eating ice cream for breakfast? great!
Sitting under willow tree and staring? Perfect
Paint your bathroom purple? Sweet!
Holding your baby all day and letting the laundry sit? bravo!

I know that some of you are shaking in your boots right now. It sounds scandalous. If you allowed yourself to do those things, what would become of your family? Your children might starve! The house will be a mess! If you allow yourself this kind of indulgence, you may never want to go back to being responsible again! It's possible, but what is the responsible life giving you? Is it giving you joy? Or is it creating a bunch of resentment, discouragement, and overwhelm deep down in your gut?

Going on strike for joy allowed me to Choose in by Choosing out. It allowed me to intentionally add those things back in that were filling my cup and say goodbye to some things for ever. It turns out that I actually do enjoy making dinner for my family, about 3 times a week. The other nights, we are fine with eggs. I really do love to exercise! But not 6 days per week. I really get JOY from attending church and worshipping my God.  As it turns out, making my bed every day is overrated. Going to bed with a clean kitchen every night is not that important. Watching Poldark with my girlfriends-Pure JOY!

I dare you to take the challenge. Go on strike to whatever extent you can. Promise yourself that you will not say yes to anything unless you can do it with joy. When the phone rings and someone is asking you to take a meal to a sick person, ask yourself if you can feel joy about it.  When your child asks if they can sign up for one more sport, ask yourself if you can joyfully support that. When your neighbor insists that homeschooling is really the best way to educate your kids, ask if homeschooling will bring you joy.

Once you learn how to create JOY for yourself, you will naturally spread that to others. Your family, your community, and the world. Lets start a joy revolution;) I wand to hear about your Joy strike! Join my FB Group Heal Mom First- Becoming Happy Healthy Moms and join the discussion.