How to get out of an abusive relationship and STAY out

One night at work, my coworkers and I were sharing crazy stories about our partners/spouses and I shared a very ‘edited’ version of the chip story. (Click here for the full story) They all kinda laughed until I mentioned that he was furious and didn’t talk to me for the rest of the night when I wouldn’t do it. They became kind of hushed and a coworker and good friend of mine said with slight hesitation, “Robyn, that’s not okay.” That’s it. That’s all he said. And I remember feeling like I had just taken a giant breath of fresh air! I literally thought to myself in shock, “RIGHT??” I knew all along that it didn’t feel okay but my abusers reaction had me thinking I was the one in the wrong. For the first time in two years, I had been validated. I knew right then and there I had to get out. For good this time.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t tried. In the two years I was dating my abuser, there were a handful of times I had called things off. It was over. I was done.

One of the times, I even went through the effort of packing a bag and moving in with my sister for a few weeks. Another time I tried to break it off, he convinced me to continue to live and share a bed with him but we would date other people. We would just tell our future dates that we were just roommates.

Every time I tried to end things, it never went as planned. This time had to be different. I had to get as many ducks in a row as possible to make sure it worked out in my favor for once.

want to share with you a few things I did (and a few things I wish I had done) to make sure I actually got the results I wanted.

First, I want to emphasize that the steps I took are not a one size fits all solution. I realize that everyone’s situations are vastly different and what worked for me may not work for others. What’s important is that you figure out what WILL work for you. What steps do you need to take?

These are the steps that worked for me.

Do

  1. Set up a place you can move into. I went apartment shopping, signed a contract and made a security deposit before I breathed a word of breaking up. It was a dang good thing I did too because if I hadn’t I KNOW I would have gone back. Not right away, but eventually when it got hard. There were several times I almost moved back in with him and the only thing that stopped me was knowing I was already paying for my own place and I had signed a year contract. This was probably the most affective step I took.
  2. Start packing things up and moving them out – start with the inconspicuous things. There’s a good chance you won’t get anything that is left once they are made aware that you’re leaving. Ideally, be completely moved out by the time they’re home from work so you don’t ever have to set foot in that house again. By the time he got home from work, my car was packed with all of my stuff and I was ready to go.
  3. Be firm and short when you tell them you’re leaving. Don’t be apologetic or sound undecided. Don’t leave any room for conversation on the matter.
  4. End ALL contact with them. Don’t even think about trying to “stay friends”. They abused you. They manipulated you. That was the relationship you had with them and that’s the relationship you will continue to have with them if you allow it. This is one of those things I wished I had done. I absolutely failed at this part and that made it so much harder than it needed to be. He continued to manipulate me and guilt me left and right.
  5. Surround yourself with a support group. People who know what you’ve been through. Who love and genuinely care about you.

 

Don’t

  1. Tell them where your new home/apartment is. I initially didn’t tell him but I eventually caved. Looking back, I wish I would have changed my phone number so he had no way of contacting me.
  2. Try to explain yourself, help them feel better, or any conversation more than “I am leaving”. They know why. And if they don’t, let them figure it out on their own. They are the masters of manipulation and they will only talk (aka guilt) you into staying once again.
  3. Go back to their house FOR ANYTHING OR ANY REASON. It will be really hard at first. You’ll miss what you once called home and no matter what terrible things happened between the two of you, a part of you will still miss that life. This is normal. It does not mean you made the wrong choice by leaving.
  4. Respond to any kind of contact they try to make. No matter their reason, no matter their plea. Again: Clean cut. Picking up the nice baking pans you accidentally left behind aren’t worth going back for, I promise.
  5. Have an “in between” friend. Someone who gives you the dish on them and guaranteed gives them the dish on you. One last time: CLEAN CUT!

 

Again, all of these steps won’t be a great fit for everyone. Take what you can and adjust it to your needs. Remember, you are strong and you can do hard things. You are worth it.

 

With much love,

Robyn

 

*Please subscribe if you’d like to receive an email each time I make a new post! If you’d like to know more of my back story and why I’m choosing to share this part of my past check out this post. 

It’s Not Your Fault

When I was in the thick of my abusive relationship, what helped me more than anything was the day I became aware. Aware that the way he was treating me wasn’t okay, that it wasn’t justified. I knew that it didn’t feel okay but, like most abuse victims, I had been led to believe that the way he was treating me was my fault. May I share a personal experience that illustrates this? It’s not pretty and frankly, it’s vulgar. But abuse is just that.

I don’t remember what led up to it but one night, he put a potato chip between his bare butt cheeks and told me to get it out of there with my mouth and eat it. I thought he was kidding so I laughingly said, “No way!” He continued to push it and I kept refusing. The possibility that he was actually serious never even entered my mind. He eventually said, “If you don’t do it, no sex for a week.” He was obviously irritated that I hadn’t caved yet. I was disgusted by the demand and I responded with, “That’s just fine. There’s no way I’m doing it!” He was furious. He stormed out of the kitchen and into the TV room, fuming.

My disgust was instantly replaced by overwhelming regret. I had obviously just done something very, very wrong. So many thoughts went racing into my mind all at once:

“You idiot!!! You should have just eaten the chip! It wasn’t that big of a deal. You are so stupid! This wouldn’t have happened if you had just done it. Now the night is ruined and it’s your fault!”

I started crying out of fear and frustration. How could I be so stupid? I had learned from experience that he wasn’t to be bothered with my emotions so I did my best to compose myself before heading into the TV room. We both knew how this worked. He would lie on the couch, stone cold with his back to me and I would assume position on my knees next to the couch and beg and plead for forgiveness. I would apologize for everything and verbally tear myself apart by saying how stupid and how wrong I was. This was the first step to gaining his “forgiveness”. After he felt I had done enough groveling, he would turn his body towards me, ever so slightly. I knew this meant that he was ready. Ready for me to initiate sex. Beg for it. Plead for him to be with me, despite my apparent wrong doings and unworthiness. That was the second step. After all was said and done, step three was to thank him. Thank him for his patience and forgiveness. Thank him for accepting me despite my constant foolishness and idiotic mistakes.

This is a perfect example of believing that I deserved the way he was treating me. Again, I knew that the way he treated me didn’t FEEL okay. I was far from happy. I was hurt, I was scared, I was often times incredibly frustrated and discouraged. I never knew how he would react to anything I did. Because of this, I was constantly walking on eggshells, trying to anticipate what I would unknowingly do wrong next.

Over five years later and I’m finally realizing that I wasn’t the problem. For two years, anytime he would get really mad I would instantly start looking for what I did wrong. What did I do wrong? 

Abso-freakin-lutely nothing. 

The questions running through my mind should have been more along the lines of, “What is upsetting him?” or “Why is he overreacting about this?” It wasn’t me that was the problem, it was him.

I currently have a two year old and as we all know, two year olds are known for throwing tantrums for the most ridiculous reasons. It helps me to think about abuse like that. When my two year old is throwing a giant fit because he wanted the green cup NOT the blue one I don’t stop and tear myself apart because HE is screaming and yelling. I don’t think, “Oh my gosh what did I do wrong?? I’m so stupid! I should have known that he would want the green one (even though blue was his favorite yesterday). This is all my fault!”

No.

I don’t get upset with myself at all because I did absolutely nothing wrong. Just because my two year old is losing his crap doesn’t mean I have to take responsibility for his negative emotions. He’s two and he’s emotionally immature. The same goes for the abuser. Their reaction is due to their mentality and NOT your actions.

You are not stuck and you have options! These are truths that I didn’t realize when I was in the thick of it. I think one of the huge reasons I stuck around for so long is because I felt like I had “made my bed and now I had to lie in it”. I had made the decision to be his girlfriend, move in with him, etc and now I had to deal with the consequences. Well, newsflash!! You don’t have to keep lying in it! Just because you possibly made some poor choices doesn’t mean you deserve the way you’ve been treated and it most definitely doesn’t mean you have to stay there!! Trust me, you’ve already suffered enough and you know it. Stop blaming yourself for your circumstances and get out and let yourself be happy! Please, please, please remember that I DO know how hard this is! And I’m telling you it’s worth it.

You are worth it.

So fight. Fight for yourself again. I remember thinking so many times in that two year window, “I don’t know if I can take this anymore” and “I’m so afraid this will never end.” I was right, it never did. My life was hell until I made the choice to get out. Believe me when I say that from the second I walked out that door, I have only found more peace and more happiness. No, it most definitely wasn’t easy but it was worth it.  Honestly, the hardest part was making the decision. I had tortured myself for so long on whether I had the courage to leave or not but the second, the second I decided to leave (and knew that I actually meant it this time), I felt so incredibly free.

In a way, I am grateful that he tried to make me eat that chip. It still makes me sick to think about but it was because of that experience that I got out. I’ll be sharing more about how I got out of my emotional and sexually abusive relationship next week! Subscribe below and you’ll receive an email when I make a new post.

Love to you all,

Robyn

Diary of the Abused: Don’t Lose Hope

Journal Entry: October 12, 2010

“I really don’t know if I can take this anymore? I feel like he’s looking for any excuse to be mad at me. Today I’m babysitting and he was going to come help me after he got home from work at 8:30 but I got a call at about 8:15 and he was pissed. I felt like it came out of nowhere. He was pissed because I apologized to (my ex boyfriend) about everything. What I don’t understand is why it’s okay for him to keep on adding his ex wife when she is always saying mean things to him and about me. He said she apologized but so did (ex boyfriend). He then told me that he wasn’t going to come over to help me babysit, he now had different plans. He didn’t tell me what they were and I didn’t dare ask. I really am scared of him sometimes. I texted him and said that I loved him and he never responded. It hurts a lot. I feel like crying again. He made me cry three times the other day. It was on Sunday and we took a trip to Ogden and then to Cabelas. He yelled at me twice because of the way I was driving. The worst part is that one of the times he yelled at me was because I didn’t see the V8 fusion on his grandma’s back porch and we had to turn around for it. He then apologized for yelling at me about something that wasn’t that big of a deal. Not even 15 minutes later, he yelled at me again for pulling over at the wrong spot. I can’t even go 3 days without making him mad at me about something. Sometimes when he’s mad at me, I feel like he is scolding his child. He told me to text him when I was done babysitting but a part of me just wants to text him and tell him I’m not coming home tonight. I would do it if I thought there was even a small chance he would say, “No Robyn, please come home.” But I know that won’t happen. If anything he’ll say, “K, I’ll stay somewhere else tonight too then.” Cause he knows I would worry and stress over where he was staying. I’m done babysitting now but I’m scared to text him. I have a feeling I’ll text him and tell him I’m done and at home, he won’t respond and then won’t come home for a few more hours. I’m not gonna lie, I really am worried about what he is doing right now. I’m worried he’s out getting drunk and doing who knows what with who knows who. He says he’ll never cheat on me, and I believe him most of the time. I just don’t believe it when he’s mad at me. I almost feel like he’s just going to go out with some girl and do stuff with her kind of just to spite me and show me that he can get any girl he wants. Honestly though, if he were to ever to do something like that, I would leave him. Or I would at least try. The only thing is that I don’t know if I trust him to tell me something like that if it were to happen. I really don’t understand him. Just this morning he sent me a text that said, “Some days I just want want to marry you so bad!!! Today is one of those days. I LOVE you Robyn.” Like an hour before he called me, we were joking about him going to a friends wedding in Vegas instead of helping me babysit. I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. I’m so afraid this will never end. I’m so afraid that he’s going to keep hurting me like this. I just sent him a text saying I was done babysitting but I seriously doubt he’ll respond for a while, if at all. My guess is that he won’t even be home till midnight or later, even if I am done. I wish I could just not care. I feel like he gets mad at me for a lot of things I really don’t even understand but every time he does, I just want to cry. He makes me feel like a bag of **CENSORED** sometimes. What should I do? I keep waiting for things like this to come to an end but it never does and in the back of my mind I really don’t think it will ever end. Every time something like this happens, I think he just waits for me to go crawling to him and begging for forgiveness. The worst part is that we both know it will happen. I would wait for him to say sorry for hurting me, but one, I don’t think he even knows or cares if he’s hurt me, and two, I don’t think he’ll ever be the one to come to me apologizing first. I wonder if that’s why he does it. So that he can see someone is in love with him enough or needs/wants him enough to do whatever it takes to keep him. Another thing is that I know that if I were to ever leave him, he would do whatever he could to flaunt his new girlfriends and make me wish I had never left him. I’ve learned that it’s really best that when he hurts me, to just act like I’m not hurt. Because if I do, he will get all mad and it only makes things worse. If he’s mad about something, even if I don’t understand it, I have to just go apologize, beg for forgiveness, and wait for him to not be mad at me anymore. I don’t want you to think things are always this bad. Most nights are full of laughing, teasing, wrestling 🙂 and are just great in general. I really am in love with him so very much, I just wish stuff like this didn’t have to be a constant fear in the back of my mind. Even when things are going great, there’s always that fear that I’m going to say or do something that is going to ruin the whole night. Well, gotta go home now. I’ll probably write some more while I’m waiting for (boyfriend) to get home but who knows. I might just go straight to bed.”

When I wrote this journal entry, I was 18 years old and had been living with my 26 year old boyfriend for two months. To say I was unhappy is a serious understatement. I didn’t know it then but I was in an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship. I felt stuck. I felt like it was too late for me to ever find happiness and I was only 18 years old.

Getting out of that place was really hard and scary to be quite honest. It took a long time but with immense help from family, friends, and my Savior, it happened. More on that in a later post. Fast forward to September 24, 2013. Not only had I faced my fears and gotten out, but I had met the man of my dreams! The following journal entry was written at age 21 when I had been married to my husband, Brent, for just over two months.

“Yesterday was a rough day for me. I was feeling super emotional and hormonal and was crying over everything. Brent and I had been sick for the past week and yesterday was the first day I was feeling well enough to get some much needed cleaning and errands done. I’m obsessed with to do lists so I had written up this giant list of things I wanted to accomplish that day, one of which was to finally get the name on my drivers license changed to Homer. Long story short, I went to the Drivers License Division, stood in line forever, filled out paper work, got my new picture taken. . . and then I was informed one of the 700 forms/proof of identification I needed to update my DL was wrong. I brought the 1040 and apparently I needed the W2. I don’t know why but I was so frustrated. So I ran home to find my W2 and it was no where to be found. I literally just sat down & cried in defeat. I have now been Robyn Homer for over 2 months but according to everything else (but FaceBook) I’m still Robyn NewMyer. There are sooo many things I have to change my name on, all of which require so many other documents that prove you are who you say you are. It’s such a big hassle and it’s been sitting on my to do list for the past 2 months which absolutely drives me crazy. That and writing thank you cards. . .I really need to do that. Anyways, I tell this story not to complain but to show how truly amazing my husband is. When I saw him, I told him how frustrated I was about the whole ordeal and he just wrapped me in his arms and told me how much he loved me. Then later that night, we just had cuddle time. I was about to start working on the rest of my giant to do list when he got in bed and told me to just come and cuddle with him for a little bit. It helped me immensely. Afterwords, I started working on homework while he cleaned the room, without me asking! I didn’t know husbands like that existed! I’m pretty sure I snagged the only one. He folded & put away the laundry that had been sitting since the week before, took out the garbage, and was sure to come give me kisses every few minutes. Despite all his sweet acts of kindness, I had yet another breakdown. I didn’t understand how I was supposed to do the homework assignment I was working on and I was ready to be done with it. He came over, wiped the tears away, and told me that if I could get through the first half, he would wake up early with me the next morning and help me finish it before it was due. Isn’t he incredible? And this isn’t just him on a good day. He is this sweet and selfless everyday. He truly treats me like a queen. I never understood the meaning of that phrase until I met Brent.”

I wish I could shake you by the shoulders right now!! Are you getting this?? I was in your shoes only a few short years ago! And now I am married to the most selfless and loving man I have ever met and I have two beautiful children!  Don’t lose hope. My life still isn’t perfect but man oh man, it sure feels like it when I remember how bad it used to be. I’m happy beyond anything I could have possibly imagined 6 years ago. The man in my life now buys me flowers and jewelry because he felt like it instead of because he cheated on me. My husband holds me even tighter when I’m crying instead of walking out of room so he doesn’t have to hear it. When we argue, he sticks around to talk about it instead of storming out of the house and disappearing for hours. My husband is not perfect and neither am I, but he treats me like a queen regardless. I know you’re in a bad place right now but it doesn’t have to stay that way. There is hope for you! It’s not too late for you to be happy. You just have to make the choice. I know it takes courage but that’s okay because you are courageous!

I have so so much I want to share on this topic. My vision is to spread hope to those who are in a similar situation and make others aware of how they can help those who are hurting. Please subscribe by entering your email below and you’ll receive a notification each time I make a new post! No spam, I promise 🙂

 

Much love,

Robyn Homer

Diary of the Abused

 

 

Journal Entry: September 2010

“MY LIFE IS SO BORING! I hate looking at everyone’s status about how fun college life is and how much they love their roomies. Don’t get me wrong, I love my roomie 😉 but it gets pretty boring around here by myself. He kinda makes me sad a lot too. Sometimes, I think he does it on purpose but sometimes I don’t think he even knows he’s hurting me. Sometimes I think he does but he doesn’t care. It really bothers me cause I feel like he’s always trying to make me feel bad. Even when he’s the one who hurts me, he always finds a way to make me feel bad for him and make it so I’m the one who is comforting him. Sometimes he makes me feel really stupid and like I don’t know anything. Maybe I shouldn’t say HE MAKES me feel this way cause no one can control your emotions but yourself. I am sad a lot. I want to cry a lot. Sometimes I wonder if I’m depressed or if it’s just because of the birth control I’m on. Maybe it’s because sometimes I feel guilty for the life I’m living.”

This is an actual word for word journal entry I made when I was 18 years old and living with my 26 year old boyfriend. It was a relatively new relationship. We dated for a couple of months before we became exclusive and I moved in with him. I had only been living with him for about a month when I wrote this. I was only one month in and, to some extent, I already recognized that something was very wrong. I didn’t leave for two years.

I didn’t know it then, but I was in an abusive relationship. In my mind, abuse was when someone physically hurt you. He never laid a hand on me so. . .no abuse, right? Wrong. But 18 year old me didn’t know that. All I knew was that I cried a lot and lived in constant fear. My life’s purpose was to avoid doing or saying anything that might make him mad. I never knew what that might be.

Even when things were going well, I was terrified of what might set him off. He was like a ticking time bomb. It was just a matter of time before I did something that ended with him yelling at me and either storming out of the house, or giving me the silent treatment. I was left in a puddle of misery for hours on end, most of the time not having a clue what I even did wrong. When he saw it fit to allow me in his presence again, I would beg and beg for forgiveness. Often times, the only way to gain his forgiveness or get him to talk to me again was to have sex with him.

I was in an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship and I didn’t have a clue. All I knew was that I felt worthless, unwanted, and scared.

Why am I choosing to share this? Believe me, I fought it. Heaven knows that, for so long, anyone finding out was literally my worst nightmare . But I’ve realized that my biggest darkest secret needs to be shared for two reasons.

One: To help others who find themselves in abusive relationships. If you’re one of those people, first let me say that I am so sorry. Sorry you’re hurting so much right now. I know you may feel so utterly alone at this time in your life and feel like you have no one to talk to. No one who would understand. I know exactly how you feel and I remember all I wanted at that time in my life was for someone to tell me I wasn’t crazy. I felt like I was going insane doing everything I could to make him happy and nothing was working. It was maddening. Well, I’m here to tell you: You are not alone, you are not crazy, and you are not to blame.

Two: To help me. I’ve spent a good amount of my life trying to pretend this part of my life didn’t happen. I have always been embarrassed and ashamed of the choices I made that put me in this situation. I was afraid of being judged and criticized. I made a lot of mistakes and I did a lot of things wrong and it’s really hard to face those things. But it’s time I helped myself and faced my past. It’s become very apparent that it’s not going away on it’s own, so I choose to share what I learned from it and hopefully find (and share) some healing along the way.

I will be sharing much much more on this topic weekly, so if you’d like to read more, subscribe by entering your email below. You’ll receive a notification when I make a new post, and no spam, I promise 🙂  Soon, I’ll be making a post that will help those on the “outside” gain a little bit more understanding on why it can be so hard to leave an abusive relationship. I was incredibly unhappy from month one and I stayed for two years.

 

***Let me be clear that I am in no way blaming this person for the mistakes I made and, believe me, I know I made plenty of them. I was at fault in many ways too, but I now know that in no way, shape, or form did I deserve being treated so poorly and so harshly. No one does. That’s the message I hope to share.***

 

Much love,

Robyn Homer

How to be a Perfect Mom

I am a perfect mom. It’s true. It may shock and even disgust some of you that I would dare make such a claim, but it’s true. Read on and I will share with you how I do it.

It’s quite simple actually. It doesn’t require your home to be tidy or children to be bathed. You don’t have to be a certain size or weight. You don’t even have to be showered or wearing a bra. Heaven knows I’m not 80% of the time. I have a four week old baby and a two year old. . .those things dropped off my priority list long ago.

I am a perfect mom because I care. I am a perfect mom because I am trying and I give my 100% everyday. Somedays my 100% looks like this: It’s 7 pm and I’m still in my pjs. I haven’t fed my two year old anything more than milk and goldfish all day long, he’s watching his 8th (or sometimes 15th) episode of Curious George and I’m literally “airing out” my cracked and bleeding nipples by recommendation of my lactation consultant. Oh, and I’m crying because I’m so so tired and everything feels incredibly and impossibly hard right now. It doesn’t sound pretty, does it? Well, it’s not. In fact, it straight up sucks some days but, even still, I’m a perfect mom. Why? Because, even on days like this, I’m still giving it my 100% and that is enough.

My 100% will always look different than someone else’s 100% and so will yours. AND THAT’S OKAY. Somedays, I’m a freaking rockstar! I put on a bra before noon and my kid actually eats some vegetables. Regardless of what kind of day I’m having though, I’m still a perfect mom.

Guess what?!? You’re a perfect mom too! Don’t believe me? Well, are you trying? Are you doing your absolute best right now to love and provide for your children? Are you giving your 100%, whatever that looks like? I know you are! So, you too, are a perfect mom.

Some of us make the mistake of thinking that we have to be a perfect human in order to be a perfect mom. Flawless body, spotless home, perfectly behaved children, etc. Well, that’s a lie and you don’t have to believe it anymore. In fact, stop believing it! You don’t have to be a perfect human in order to be a perfect mom. You just have to be doing your best and own it. It’s as simple as that. You already are a perfect mom, all you have to do now is believe it.

Foreboding Joy

I have a perfect life. No, really I do. I am honestly and truly married to the best man on earth who treats me like a queen, I have two beautiful healthy children, we are financially secure, and there are no crisis’ going on in my life right now, big or small. Isn’t that wonderful?? It is! But this perfect, beautiful life of mine used to terrify me. Crazy, right?!? My life was just too good. . .too good last. Something terrible was right around the corner, I just knew it! Something tragic and life altering was going to happen any day now and my perfect world was going to come crashing down around me.

Have you experienced moments like these? Where everything in your life is going so perfectly that your chest suddenly swells up with the fear of “what must be coming”? Or maybe you’ve found yourself staring at your sleeping child in wonderment and love and in an instant that joy was ripped from your chest and replaced with an overwhelming fear of a long list of unbearable tragedies could take them away from you. That, my friend, is called foreboding joy and it is robbing you. Foreboding joy is when you don’t allow yourself to fully enjoy the good moments in fear of what bad thing could happen to take it all away from you in an instant. And I used to be a pro at it. It was a defense mechanism for me. Anytime I was experiencing a beautiful heart-swelling moment, I was quick to catch myself. It was like I was trying to keep myself in check, slapping myself on the wrist for letting my guard down. It sounds crazy, but I thought that if I truly felt overwhelmed with joy in those moments, I was inviting something terrible to happen. I was tempting fate. So instead, I imagined every worse possible scenario. As Brene Brown puts it, I was “trying to beat vulnerability to the punch. We don’t want to be blindsided by hurt. We don’t want to be caught off-guard, so we literally practice being devastated or never move from self-elected disappointment.” I was so sure that if I was expecting it, then somehow that terrible tragedy I had imagined, would be more bearable.

I can tell you from personal experience that foreboding joy doesn’t work. It doesn’t help soften the blow or make it any easier when that terrible event you “prepared” yourself for actually happens. In just 2 days, it will have been a year since I found out about my ectopic pregnancy. And it was incredibly hard. It was crushing. So much more so than I ever could have rehearsed in my mind. And trust me, rehearse I did. I was only about 7 weeks along but that gave me plenty of time to 1) stop myself from getting too excited about my pregnancy before I was out of the danger zone aka the first trimester and 2) to imagine how hard and devastating it would be if I did lose the baby. I was foreboding joy. When my worst fears became a reality, not for a second did it feel easier, nor did I thank myself or feel like I had saved myself any amount of pain because “I was expecting it”. It still hurt. It was still an unbearable feeling of loss and sadness. It wasn’t easier. It didn’t feel more bearable in the least. In fact, it just robbed me of the joy I could have had in the few short weeks I did have with my baby. And that’s what foreboding joy does! It robs you of the joy in the good moments with a false sense security that it will make it easier when tragedy does strike. That’s not how it works. In fact, we need to let ourselves fully enjoy those moments because it’s that joy that helps carry us through the hard times when they do hit.

Those of you who did the opportunity assignment from my “Ordinary Does Not Equal Meaningless” post, did you find yourself foreboding joy? You are not alone, in fact you are far from! In “Daring Greatly”, Brene Brown shares that 80% of all parents she has interviewed have experienced the same thing. So, what do we do about it? The best way to combat foreboding joy is to practice gratitude! Brown specifically uses the word “practice” because actively showing gratitude is much more powerful than having an “attitude of gratitude”. I make an effort to practice gratitude in two different ways.

The first is by having a gratitude journal. This week, make a special effort to take just a few minutes each day and write down five things you’re grateful for. You can go out and buy a special gratitude journal if you want or just write it on a sticky note, it doesn’t matter. What makes the difference is if you actually do it or not 😉  This is a super simple technique that has helped me a lot. I found that, as I was doing this, throughout my day I was constantly on the lookout for things I could write in my gratitude journal. Your brain finds what you tell it to go looking for. If you’re looking for the bad or the negative in your life, it will find just that. If you’re looking for things to be grateful for, it will find them. So you decide. What do you want to focus on? What do you want to find? I want to find joy so I practice gratitude.

The second way I practice gratitude is to make an effort to replace my fear with gratitude. When I find myself foreboding joy, I do three things. First, I stop myself by saying in my head, “No. This is not helping” and literally stopping that train of thought. I just don’t let it go on. I then recall the joy and love I was feeling and let it sweep over me once again and this time, I don’t let my fear stop it. Finally, as I let myself soak up and enjoy that wonderful moment I practice gratitude. I say in my head or out loud, what it is exactly that I am grateful for in that moment. Whether it be my warm cozy home that provides a safe haven for my family or my two year old doing his best to sing twinkle twinkle little star with me as I’m putting him to bed. I let myself just soak it up. This takes some practice, so don’t feel like you’re doing it wrong if it’s not super easy to switch from the place of fear to a place of gratitude. Keep at it though. The joy I feel on a daily basis has grown so much now that I practice gratitude and have learned how to better control my fear instead of letting it control me.

I am by no means perfect or all knowing in this subject nor am I happy go lucky all of the time now but doing these things has most definitely helped me find more joy in my life. I hope it does the same for you 🙂

Ordinary Does Not Equal Meaningless

Today was a great day! Though to be quite honest, it didn’t start out all that great. I now have a 4 day old baby girl that I love so much it often overwhelms me. Well, apparently this little girl loves me just as much because last night she did not want to sleep unless she was being held. Come 2 a.m., I gave in and just got her out of her bassinet. My master plan was to use my boba wrap to strap her to me so I could fall asleep holding her without dropping her and FINALLY get some much needed rest. After spending a good 15-20 minutes trying to figure out how to put the stupid thing on, Navy (my baby girl) decided she was ravenous and had to eat NOW. I finally had the boba wrap on and there was no way I was taking it off and starting on square one so I just left it on and worked my way around it to feed her. In the process of changing her diaper afterwards, my night took a definite unwanted and unexpected turn for the worst. At this point it was 3 a.m. and I made three very big mistakes. One, I changed her on my chair with no changing pad, two I was sitting on the footrest right in the potential line of fire and three, I didn’t put a fresh diaper on her IMMEDIATELY after removing the soiled one. I’m a mother of two now, I should know better. After removing the soiled diaper I turned to grab a fresh diaper and I heard a toot. I only had the hallway light on so it was fairly dark so I leaned in close, praying it was just a fart. At about the same moment I sighed in relief, straight liquid came shooting projectile out of my sweet baby girl. It shot out at least a foot and I was right in the line of fire. It got in my hair, all over my chest, and was quite literally dripping down my arm and my leg. Momma reflexes kicked in (2 seconds later than I would’ve hoped) and I grabbed the clean diaper and kind of just shoved it over the firing hole as my own personal shield. Needless to say, poop was everywhere. All over me, all over my chair, all over Navy, and worst of all, all over my one and only hope of getting any sleep that night. . .My boba wrap. As I went over to grab the diaper wipes, a quote by Marjorie Hinkley popped into my head: “You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.” So, much to my surprise, I laughed. I really wanted to cry but I laughed instead.

As I was in the shower, literally scrubbing my daughters feces out of my hair, I was racking my brain trying to figure out what has made the biggest difference in my ability laugh instead of cry. I REALLY felt like crying! I had every reason in the world to cry and break down. But I chose to laugh. I wasn’t happy by any means, don’t get me wrong. I don’t need anyone to think I enjoyed that experience. But it didn’t break me. It didn’t ruin the whole rest of my day.

Not too long ago, I read a book by Brene Brown titled “The Gifts of Imperfection”. In it she says, “We seem to measure the value of peoples contributions (and sometimes their entire lives) by their level of public recognition. In other words, worth is measured by fame and fortune. Our culture is quick to dismiss quite, ordinary, hardworking men and women. In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless.” This really struck home for me. It helped me make sense of my “fear” of being just a stay at home mom. I didn’t want my life to be meaningless and unimportant so I felt like I had to reach outside of the home and do something more! We all know there is little to no public recognition, fame or fortune in being a stay at home mom. In fact, I feel like being a stay at home mom is the perfect description of “quite, ordinary, hardworking”. And that was always scary to me. It was scary to me because I had accepted that an ordinary life was a meaningless one as truth. But that is so far from the truth. Ordinary DOES NOT equal meaningless. Say it with me now: ORDINARY DOES NOT EQUAL MEANINGLESS. Being a mother is chuck full of incredibly ordinary moments! And that’s what I used to find so discouraging. Every day was just like the last. But once I was able to change my definition of ordinary, that all changed. I started to look at the “ordinary” moments differently. Brown says, “I think I learned the most about the value of ordinary from interviewing men and women who have experienced tremendous loss such as the loss of a child, violence, genocide, and trauma. The memories that they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments. It was clear that their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring.” And that’s exactly what I’ve done and the results have been amazing and so I want to invite you to do the same. “Stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring.” Doing this alone has helped me immensely in finding more joy in every ordinary day as a mother. It’s a big part of why I was able to stay calm and not lose it at 4 this morning despite being covered in a little persons feces and not having had any sleep yet that night.

I like to think of this like it’s filling my “mommy tank”. You guys have heard of Steven Coveys emotional bank account, yes? Or some people know it as keeping the love tank full. Same idea. You are constantly making deposits (good/positive emotions) and withdrawals (bad/negative emotions). If you’re making more withdrawals than deposits then you will have more negative experiences and vice versa. As I go throughout my beautiful, ordinary days I am constantly on the look out for ordinary moments that bring joy to add to my mommy tank. For example, last night I was gently putting my sweet 4 day old baby in her bassinet and after doing so, I gently slipped her beanie on her tiny little head and just stared at her in wonder. As I did this, I made a conscious effort to stop and be grateful and soak up the joy of that ordinary moment. I let my heart soar over that one simple thing! It was not extraordinary by anyone’s definition but it doesn’t have to to be extraordinary to be meaningful. I am constantly making deposits (finding joy in ordinary moments) so that when a withdrawal happens (temper tantrum, blowout, etc), my mommy tank doesn’t go into overdraft mode and I lose it. As I do this throughout my day, my “mommy tank” stays full and it makes the unavoidable hard parts or withdrawals of being a mom doable. They don’t turn your world upside down anymore or completely unravel you because when the hard parts come up, you’re mommy tank is already overflowing with all of the wonderful moments you’ve captured throughout the day. You’re mommy tank can afford to make a “withdrawal” when your kids are less than perfect. But you have to make a conscious effort to keep filling it! It’s not going to fill on it’s own. You have to be on the lookout and when you do recognize those moments, let your heart overflow with gratitude and joy.

So, here’s your opportunity assignment: Find gratitude and joy in at least 5 ordinary moments everyday for the next week! This should be easy because remember, our days are chuck full of ordinary 🙂 You’ll be surprised at how quickly things begin to change if you’re diligent with this! Please feel free share your experiences, I’d love to hear how this works out for you and what you guys think! 🙂

Finding Joy in Motherhood

It has always been my dream to be a stay at home mom and from the day my first was born I was blessed enough to do just that. I’ve now been a stay at home mom for just over two years and I love it! People always say being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do and they’re absolutely right. What I’ve never heard anyone admit to (and I know I can’t be the only one) is that it can also be the most mundane, nothing to look forward to on a day to day basis, thankless thing you will ever do. It gets hard to look forward to each new day when every day feels just like the last, minus a blow out or two. And it’s hard! It’s really hard to feel enthusiastic and excited about the next twenty years when you already know exactly what they look like: feed, clean, feed, clean, bathe, feed, clean, put in bed, put back in bed, put back in bed, put back in bed. I’ve only been doing this for two years and there are a lot of days I feel burnt out by 10 am and am literally counting down the hours till nap time, today being one of them. It’s incredibly discouraging! I want SO badly to love every second of being a stay at home mom, heck even every other second would be great! But I don’t. Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, I found myself not feeling super fulfilled with mom life. Anyone else been here? I felt like what I was doing wasn’t enough. I wasn’t contributing enough to society, I wasn’t contributing enough to my family. Yes, the laundry was getting done and the fridge was stocked with food but there was more I could be giving! But what?? There had to be more. Please oh please, there had to be more. I started exploring the other hobbies I could try out on the side, and heck, extra bonus if I could even make a little money doing it. All from home of course, because I didn’t want it to take away from my time as a stay at home mom. . .Logic my friends! Let’s see. . I could do photography. . .except I’m terrible at it. What about crafting? I enjoy that. A distributor of sorts, maybe? So, I started on this journey. Let’s call it my “I’m a stay at home mom and a _________” journey. My new goal was to fill in that blank! This journey took place over a period of about six months and it was incredibly discouraging. I was so sure there was something else I was supposed to be doing to contribute to the world but I couldn’t find my niche. Nothing was coming. After months of searching, pondering and praying I was given my answer through two incredibly simple questions: Why do I feel like I’m not enough as “just” a stay at home mom? Why does there have to be more? These questions made me, for the first time in months, turn my intense search from looking for something bigger and better out there to looking for something bigger and better in myself. I hadn’t even realized it but these little minions, these negative voices in my head had me convinced that being a stay at home mom wasn’t good enough. The adversary had me convinced that motherhood wasn’t worthy of me. That motherhood wasn’t worth dumping all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my efforts into. I have taught and I honestly and truly believe that the work you do within the walls of your own home is the most important work you will ever do. I know this, I’ve always known this. It’s just so freaking hard to remember when you’re picking squished grapes out of your carpet for the third time that day and watching Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas for the 20th time. Literally. So even after having this wonderful ah ha moment, there still begged the question: how do I find love being a mother as much as I want to then? How do I find more joy in motherhood? I want to wake up excited about each new day even if it is does look exactly the same as yesterday and the next 7,300 days. I want to love everyone of them. So my new journey began, my journey to find as much joy in motherhood as I could. I’ve learned a lot already and I want to share with you what I’m learning as I’m learning it. The simple changes I’ve made in just the last few months have made a huge difference already and I’m excited to share with you and I hope they can help you as much as they’ve helped me. Thanks for reading and be sure to check in next Wednesday for my first tip in how to find more joy in motherhood! Love you all and here’s to empowering mothers everywhere!!

Find Someone Worthy of You

The other day a dear friend of mine and I were catching up and I asked how she and her boyfriend were. Her eyes immediately welled with tears and my heart instantly dropped. She then shared that she had broken up with him a couple of days earlier. As she shared the details of why, my heart just broke for her. She wants SO badly to be married and she, like other times before, hoped that this guy could be the one. She was feeling very discouraged and hopeless and I can’t say I blame her at all. Break ups are so hard, even when you know it was necessary. I would love to share some of the same thoughts and feelings with you that I was able to share with someone I care so much about. Why? Because everyone deserves happiness in the end. Hopefully these tips can help you find that happiness sooner than later. Here are a few things I shared with her.

Don’t lose yourself along the way
Don’t turn into the person you think they want you to be. Be who YOU want to be. Be who Heavenly Father wants you to be. My friend mentioned she felt like maybe the relationship didn’t work out because she cared too much. That maybe she scared him off because she was more invested in the relationship than he was. I told her, “Good for you!” Give it your all! The world today is in desperate need of more people who are too caring, too kind, and too loving. These are some of the most Christlike attributes one can possess. Hold on to your best qualities even if someone your dating doesn’t appreciate them like they should.

Play at 100%
If you are dating to marry, you need to play at a 100%, regardless of what percentage the one your dating is playing at. If you’re both not playing at a 100% in your relationship then you won’t be doing so in your marriage. Marriage is a beautiful and sacred thing, and dating is how you get there so you better be giving it your all. I know it’s hard and scary and vulnerable, but pretty much all things worth obtaining are. When you’re playing at 100%, you’re becoming the best version of yourself. And when you’re doing that, you’re creating the life you deserve.

Be careful of dating those who don’t share your same values
People are on their best behavior when they’re courting someone. If they ‘accidentally’ swear in front of you, there’s going to be a whole lot more swearing after there’s a ring on your finger and the I dos have been said. And guess what? At some point, you will be swearing too. You may not believe it, heaven knows I didn’t. When I was a senior in high school, I started dating this guy who was several years older than me. On our second date, he rolled his four wheeler which caused a lot of damage. As he was driving me home he slammed his fist on his steering wheel and said a curse word I had never actually heard anyone say in real life. I was shocked and embarrassed. He immediately apologized followed by a promise that he never swore, he was just really upset and frustrated. And naive 18 year old me believed him. People will always show you who they really are. Don’t make excuses for them. I told myself that it was a super crappy thing that happened and I could understand his frustration. I ended up I dating this guy for two years. And guess what? He actually swore a lot. Like -several times in a sentence- a lot. But guess what else? Eventually, I was swearing just about as much as him. And that awful, awful word that he said in front of me on our second date, it was no longer shocking. It no longer embarrassed me. It was just a word. A lot changed about me in those two years and none of it for the better. Don’t forget the old adage, “You marry who you date”. So be careful about who you’re dating. Only date those who make you want to be a better person and with whom you share the same values.

There is no such thing as being too picky.
If there is one thing you take away from this, I hope it’s this: there is no such thing as being too picky when it comes to choosing your eternal companion. Heavenly Father will never ask that you lower your values for anyone. Ever. Especially to fulfill such a righteous desire as finding an eternal companion. You know this is true. So, please, please, PLEASE stay strong! Don’t you quit. Keep searching until you find someone WORTHY of YOU!
(Side note: there’s a difference between trying to find someone perfect and trying to find someone perfect for you. Don’t expect perfection from anyone.)

To my happily married friends:

Remember what a blessing it is! There are so many people out there who want exactly what we have more than anything. Don’t take it for granted. I did. At least until this talk with my friend. I needed to be reminded that my marriage is a BLESSING! I prayed that I would find someone as wonderful as my husband for what felt like forever. Recognize your answered prayers. Tell your spouse tonight how grateful you are for them.

Thank you for reading! Do you know someone who’s been through a tough break up? (AKA anyone who’s ever dated;) Please share! You may be able to reach and help someone I can’t.