Kelly says things like “Oh I’m fine…ya know you just have to do what you have to do.” Kelly often seems angry and exhausted but forces a smile.
When she plays with her kids she’s thinking about everything else she would rather be doing. How nice it would be to get some time alone to read, to think, to do something fun…
She notices that she will be “fine” for about 2 weeks then all of a sudden she’ll snap and goes on a rampage. She yells. She shouts. She says harsh things. It’s not until the rage has subsided that she realizes what she actually said and how hurtful it was. Kelly admits only to herself that she actually meant what she said, but doesn’t like the anger and venom that delivered her words. When she has an outburst her husband takes the kids out for a few hours and she feels ashamed and promises to stop getting so angry. But about two weeks go by and it happens again.
Kelly feels the best when she gets a night out with her girlfriends. She drinks too much but gosh it feels good to let loose. She and her friends don’t go anywhere local for fear that she’d run into someone she knew. For a few wild hours she forgets how trapped, bored, and scared she feels. She numbs to the reality that she doesn’t even know who she is or what she’s doing with her life. When the night is over she goes to bed feeling ashamed because she shouldn’t dread going home.
Kelly and her husband rarely have sex. When they do it’s because he has made several requests and she doesn’t want to deal with his frustration or disappointment any longer. They rarely talk about anything other than the necessary tasks of the day. She avoids eye-contact with her husband and finds reasons to scurry about when the kids are asleep.
Kelly is afraid to be alone. So much so that she will tire herself out with activities with other friends and kids. Her feelings scare her.
Kelly goes to church with a smile on her face. Kelly says “yes” to people at church. She has begun to hate Sundays because she feels she has to help with the kids or cleaning or planning. But she dutifully takes meals to new moms and seniors. Kelly sends cards to express her love and care for others as they are in pain and suffering. Words of kindness ring hollow for herself.
Kelly wears beautiful clothes, does her makeup, and takes great family photos. She hashtags #Ilovemyfamily #momlife #myheart. She means it but what she really wants is to be seen for what she hopes is still underneath the growing despair inside.
She often cries quietly at night or stares numbly into the distance.
Kelly has heard that Jesus loves her for her whole life but never feels good enough for him. Her faith consists of singing and distracted listening on Sundays at church. When she prays its feels hollow but she figures she should.
How many of you know a Kelly? Maybe Kelly touches a part of your heart?
Kelly wanted something more for her life and bravely made decisions to honor this desire. In our work together it became clear that she’s not important, not to God, not to others, not to herself. One of the ways this shows up in her life is the belief that her feelings don’t matter, what she wants or needs doesn’t matter, and no matter what she does it’s never good enough anyway. She would imagine scenarios where someone would come in and rescue her from her life. She wanted so badly to be taken care of. The truth is that Kelly so badly wanted to believe she was worth taking care of herself.
She’d say things like I just need to work on my low-self esteem. Maybe if I worked out more I’d feel better. Maybe if I was just more grateful I’d feel better. Maybe if I took some medication or try a new wellness product I’d feel better. The thing is about managing symptoms through behavior modification or medication (only) is that she wasn’t addressing the center of the problem…the core issue.
The first step she took towards healing was to begin tuning into and paying attention to what she was feeling and then identifying the thoughts she had about her feelings. She began to give voice to what was already going on within or behind the curtains. Kelly began to discover that right away in the morning she felt scared about being alone for the day. She thought, “it’s so lonely. I’m trapped. My life is about diapers, play dates, cleaning up…” She started to befriend her emotions. She would say to herself, “I’m not fine…I’m scared. She began to question “fine” and identified new emotions…longing, curiosity, and disappointment. Slowly with practice, Kelly began to find her voice.
This wasn’t easy for Kelly. It was one of the hardest things she had done in her life. She was convinced for so long that anything she wanted, needed, or felt didn’t matter. What did matter, was what she thought everyone else wanted or needed from her.
She had created an empty life out of people pleasing. She was more concerned about others than about what God said about who she is.
With practice, Kelly learned how to identify what she felt and track her thoughts. She was able to voice what she needed. “I feel exhausted. I need to rest.” This took courage and challenged Kelly. It’s one thing to say I really need a nap or a break and another thing to then believe it and work to make it happen. She learned the skills of being creative, making requests, setting boundaries, and communicating honestly with her husband.
With intentional focus to take care of herself she began to experience joy. She could enjoy playing with her kids and discovered that she was really into design and fiscal management. She began to remember that she likes adventures, trying new foods, going for walks, gardening and she began to make time for these things.
Her husband noticed that she was joyful. He was able to help her meet her needs. And he had a voice to make requests of her too when he needed space for rest and fun. He began to dream again.
As Kelly discovered her voice she began to hear God’s voice! She could hear him say that he loves her. He delights in her. He will give her rest. He’s proud of her…
Instead of thinking she was worthless, she began to know she was lovable. She began to walk in deep friendship with Jesus and experienced the satisfaction of knowing her purpose and her unique way of loving people around her. Turns out she didn’t enjoy cooking for people. But she loved helping people create concrete plans for budgeting and getting out of debt.
The direction of Kelly’s life changed when she decided that she wanted something else more. The ripple effects of her growth began to affect her family, friends, and community. Kelly’s voice inspired others to find theirs!