Discovering the Power of Connection
…we are hardwired for connection…Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment. – Brene’ Brown, Daring Greatly
Sue Reeve’s Note: Today’s post is the third in a series written by my friend Bethany (a pseudonym) in which she describes her journey of healing. (Note: To read the original stories, go to www.suereeve.com, and check archived posts, April 11-April 28, 2016, “The Little Girl Inside Our Story.”) In today’s post, Bethany discusses what she has learned about the power of connection in a recovery/support group.)
A couple years ago, my husband told me he’d joined a Pure Desire group because he’d been struggling with a sexual addiction. I was overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy. His news took me right back to one of my core lies:
I AM NOT ENOUGH!
Not enough for him to stay true to his wedding vows.
Not enough to have his undivided love and attention.
Grudgingly, I joined the Betrayal and Beyond group for wives of men who struggle with sexual addiction. At first, I was angry because ‘his problem’ made me take time out of my life to go to a group to learn about how his addiction affected me.
Despite my irritation, I showed up each week, did my homework, dragged the kids to childcare while I went to my group, and spent an extra night alone while my husband attended his group. I felt smug—such a good wife I was! He had wounded me, and I was going above and beyond to help fix his problem.
Surprise! Turns out I was just as broken as he! I learned my family of origin was affecting every area of my adult life. While we move on from childhood, our family of origin follows us. I began to see the emotional neglect, sexual and physical abuse I suffered as a child had caused me to put up walls, affecting my views of God, my husband, my children, how I interacted with others, and even my thought life.
Walls I’d built to protect me were like walls surrounding a prison. Razor wire at the top kept unhealthy thoughts in and healthy ones out. I sat in the guard tower, waiting to snipe anyone who got too close.
In my group, I learned the home in which I grew up was not safe. Emotions, considered signs of weakness, were not permitted. If we showed negative emotion such as anger, sadness or frustration, we were sent to our rooms until we could come out with a happy face.
When I got married, I assumed my husband wasn’t interested in what I was feeling, and even if he was, I didn’t know how to show him. I had numbed honest emotions for so long, I no longer felt much of anything.
I prided myself in being strong and independent because that helped me survive when I was growing up. I despised the thought of being viewed as weak or of being pitied.
The first couple times I sat in my group, listening to women share, I was in denial.
I didn’t have the same problems.
My story is boring.
My childhood wasn’t THAT bad.
My husband hadn’t slept with a prostitute.
I wondered, what am I even doing in this group?
So many lies flooded me. If it hadn’t been for relationships I started building in the group, I probably would have quit.
But, these women were so beautiful to me.
They were honest and vulnerable.
I had never in my life heard women speak so openly and honestly about
wounds they had caused others,
hurts experienced not just from spouses but from childhood.
Conversations were open. There was no judgement. This was like nothing I had ever experienced. Needing people was new and scary for me, but slowly, I started to open up. Instead of feeling weaker, I felt stronger! I was facing my fears head on, and the feeling was awesome!
One week the homework was to write our story. It was to be written in the third person and was to begin with the words:
Once upon a time there was a little girl…
I hope you’ll return and join me when I’ll tell you about my experience writing my Once upon a time… story in the next Listening on the Journey… blog post.
This pod of pelicans, which I’ve entitled, ‘Together we are better’ speaks to me (Sue Reeve) of community and is one of my favorite photos Ron has taken. Several Listening on the Journey… readers have recently complimented Ron’s photos, saying he has a real gift. I agree! If you’re interested, some of Ron’s photography and woodworking is for sale at Fresh, a shop featuring local crafters. Fresh is located at 317 Coeur d’Alene Avenue and is open Thursday through Sunday. If you’ve never been there, I encourage you to check it out.