I could not tell you the day or even year that I completely lost myself. I didn’t know that I had lost myself. It was gradual.
It started when I began dating my husband, and bit by bit in the name of love, I gave pieces of myself away. First, it was my affections, then my discernment – including my views and opinions. Then my dreams, goals and values slipped away – and eventually, my soul. It’s been a journey of 40 years. I met my husband in college and I quit for him. It was in the late 70’s. We married in the 80’s and the sexual betrayal has come in different forms and different seasons. There was actually a phase of 8 years where our home was free of it. We all flourished during those years, only to have the use of the internet to revive my husband’s drug of choice. The gas-lighting and discrediting started all over again in more force than ever. There would be times when I felt good and ok – when I was with my family of origin or my children, when I was alone and eventually developed a more intimate relationship with the Lord, with friends or in books or music I enjoyed. But as time went on and traumas were not attended to, those things became even more obscure.
It was not until just a few years ago when someone asked me what I wanted and what my desires were that I realized I felt selfish even answering that question. I didn’t have any desires anymore. Life for me had lost its colors, its tones, its music, its words. Living in a blur of gas-lighting left me confused, weary and hopeless.
I needed to realize first of all that I had lost myself. So in essence it is a prerequisite to rediscovery. Then I needed the power of the Holy Spirit to demand- yes, demand – that I be looked at as a holy daughter of the King of the Universe.
Rediscovering myself was a type of resurrection. It’s like dormant spring bulbs that hold life but are buried unseen under dirt and snow, seemingly dead. Yet, even before I have shed my winter coat in the early spring, they bravely shoot their green stalks through the dirt promising a display of beauty in the days to come.
At one time or another, I need to rediscover myself. So much in life brings on loss, burials and the need for resurrections and rediscoveries. However, since betrayal trauma destroys the sense of reality, it brings on a toxic brand of disorientation. It makes you second guess yourself and your faith. It consumes energy to recover and to prevent the pain from happening again…only to have it happen again. Meanwhile, everyone else is moving on leaving you in isolation, shame and in need of resurrection.
There are many components that have played a part in my journey of rediscovery. I can’t possibly be comprehensive here but would like to share a few things that have been fundamental:
- Knowing God. Over and over in different phases of rediscovery I have gone back to focusing on the attributes of God. He is my creator and knows me best of all. He created me in His image, to reflect Him. This gives me a starting place and a foundation when everything else in my world is imploding. There are plenty of good books on this topic, but I like to jot God’s characteristics down as I discover them as I read the Bible in my devotions.
- Finding my identity in the Word of God. I write down the statements about God’s view of me and His truths as I study His Word. Sometimes I meditate on one phrase for a day or even a month. One year, I meditated each day on being rooted and grounded in love . . .the breadth, length, height and depth of the love of Christ.
- Journaling. This gives me a place to process and validate my emotions. Sometimes I need to just write and throw it away.
- Exercising (and being ok with not being athletic or competitive). My gentle yoga instructor always opens the class by reminding us, “There is no judgement here.” That has been one of the most freeing statements for me.
- Going outside. Every day, even if just for a few minutes. It reminds me of my Creator and opens my eyes and mind.
- Saying “no” to things I don’t like or have the time for without having to explain or apologize.
- Saying “goodbye” to seasons of my life. Sometimes we must get rid of things that don’t fit anymore to make room for new things. There are things that I have abandoned like old projects or hobbies. There are friends that I just don’t see anymore because our lives don’t intersect. And that is ok.
- Revisiting things I used to enjoy but haven’t done for a while. My first step was to make a list of all the things I wanted to do without thinking about the challenges of putting these things in my life.
- Spiritual Retreat. This saved my sanity in a very dark time. I went to a retreat center that allowed for silence and solitude.
- Coaching. I have had counseling and that was a good place to start but it only took me so far. Coaching has enabled me to look forward.
Rediscovery is a journey. It has seasons of starts and stops. The Lord inevitably brings something into my life to refresh me on my journey. This is where my journey intersects with Hope Redefined. I heard Lyschel on the Braveful Summit and was inspired to call and pursue coaching with Amy Nagy. As I have been working on skills to work through the ruts, I have found freedom in my day and clarity in my thoughts so that I can recognize myself and embrace the joy of rediscovery.
Here are some additional resources in this season that helped me on my way:
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller
J Curve by Paul E. Miller
Anything by Sharon Garlough Brown
Many Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise
Podcast: The Next Right Thing by Emilie P. Freeman
Every journey of rediscovery is unique. May you live in the freedom to explore your own path.
The sole purpose of HER Voice is to provide an opportunity for those who have walked in our shared experience of betrayal to tell their stories and open their hearts. These stories are meant to be personal testimonies from women who are still unpacking pieces of their hearts and looking to the one who is the ultimate Healer. Our God is creative and no two journeys look the same. These posts are authored by women at various places in their journey towards healing and hope, so please understand they are in process like all of us.
We encourage you to use self care when reading other’s testimonies. These blogs are not meant to “tell you how to do it,” but are meant to encourage and provide hope for others, wherever they may be in their healing process.