How To Rebuild Confidence In Your Marketable Skills

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. I have Brittany Larson with me today. She’s an experienced communications professional with an extensive background in crisis communications and public relations. She leads the public relations department at the Summit Group. Brittany recently launched Livlyhood, a community for women who work. She’s going to cover some topics today for women who are thinking about getting back into the workplace.

Anne: Brittany, let’s start off with your advice for women who are getting back into the workforce, either after a hiatus because they’ve been raising their children, or they’ve been too traumatized to work, or women who have, perhaps, never been in the workplace in the first place.

Brittany: Just in general, I think it’s a really exciting time to be a woman. Flexibility has never been more on the table, or more expected. It’s a really exciting time to get back into work if you’ve been raising your kids, or maybe you want to try something new and different. There are so many barriers that we don’t face that even our mother’s generation faced.

How Joining The Workforce Can Help Self-Confidence

My number one piece of advice for women who, say they’ve been raising their kids, and they’ve decided to go back to work, or maybe they need to supplement their income, or they want to completely change their direction is to balance patience with determination.

We often talk about the stereotype of women being told no, or they are too afraid, or shy or concerned about figuring out what they’re worth. You have to find that balance between being patient, but also being determined. If you’re coming back into the workforce after years of not building up your résumé in that way, you’re going to have to be patient. If you are determined, you’re going to be rewarded.

The way I think of it is like a scale. One side of it is your employer, and the other is you. When you first start out, either at a new career, or you’re getting back into things, or you’ve just graduated from college, the scale is tipped drastically in your employer’s favor. You maybe have a coin or two, because you have a degree or a trade skill, or something like that.

How To Handle Negative Emotions About Self-Esteem

As you gain experience, those scales can slowly start to shift. It will take time. You really can make your own way now, and that’s something that I find really encouraging, as a woman.

Anne: Many women that listen to this podcast are not wanting to work. They are forced to work because of their situation. There are some really negative emotions around that, because they have been, for example, abandoned or they’ve had to file divorce because of their husband’s abusive behaviors. There’s a lot of extra baggage that comes along with being forced to look for a job when you don’t want to. Really, you want to take care of your kids, or because you’ve been enjoying a job that has a really low pay, and you’re like, “Oh, this job’s not going to work anymore, because now I have to support my family.”

There’s another scenario here, which is many addicts are not very good with jobs. They get fired sometimes, because they’ve been looking at pornography at work or because their social skills are very poor. There may be women listening to this who have always been the primary breadwinner and their husband has had difficulty with jobs, or women who have always been in poverty because their husband’s jobs have always been terrible, or they’ve been switching jobs a lot. I just wanted to put that out there about the serious negative emotions that can surround work when a woman is in trauma.

How Your Passion Can Build Your Confidence

Brittany: I got married later than maybe I had originally anticipated and really had to figure out how to provide for myself and support myself through college. I think that a lot of it is about lowering your expectations, which sounds so negative, but when you’re going into it and you’re not doing it because you’re passionate about it or you love it. Which I will tell you, I don’t really think that’s a thing.

I’ve always resented that part of my millennial upbringing that work is to be enjoyed and it’s supposed to fulfill you. I really, truly think that work should be a piece of your life. Whatever trauma that you’re recovering from or, like you said, if you’re being forced to work, and you’re having to do something that you don’t want to do, I would try as much as possible to focus on what it’s enabling you to do.

Your eight hours on your shift may not be the best thing that’s fulfilling you, but if it’s enabling you to provide for your family, if it’s helping you to heal, if it’s giving you an identity outside of your home, or maybe your specific situation that you’re going through, if you can focus on those things, that’s what I’d suggest.

Increase Self-Esteem Through Skill Development

Anne: As women are looking to come back into the workforce, or thinking about it or considering it, let’s talk about how they can develop skills in nontraditional ways.

Brittany: There’s so many ways to gain knowledge that you couldn’t get access to even just a few years ago. I would suggest if there’s something that you’ve been interested in, start educating yourself about it, whether it’s learning a new language or developing a craft skill or going on YouTube and learning about design.

There really is no limit to what you can figure out and train yourself to do. There are so many options for women to develop skills that don’t cost a lot of money whether it be classes at your library or finding a woman who’s willing to mentor you. You don’t have to be limited to having a four-year degree. Actually, trade skills are increasingly going to become more important. Maybe you’re going to school for six months instead of getting into debt and going to school for four years.

I think that there’s a lot of different ways to attain that knowledge that used to be very limited. Figure out what it is that you want to learn then find someone who’s doing what you want to do. Find someone that can help you do that.

Being Marketable Is A Self-Esteem Builder

Anne: I frequently have women who message me who would like to volunteer for us. The cool thing is they’ve been developing amazing marketable skills. For example, one of the women who volunteered for us is now able to be the social media director of another non-profit because of the skills she learned through volunteering for us. Right now, I’m actually looking for a volunteer to find grants. Grant writing is a wonderful skill to learn and it’s actually marketable. Through the mentoring that we do here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we’ve been able to train many women to have marketable jobs, which has been really exciting for me to see them grow and learn.

Also, good for them, because when women are in trauma, at least at the beginning, a lot of times they want to work on something like this, because their whole world is revolving around their healing at the time. Then, when they’re healed it’s more and they feel like, “Oh, you know what, I could take two grant writing classes at the university, or I could take this certification and be a professional grant writer.” Then they can apply for jobs elsewhere.

If you’re interested in social media or grants, or anything involving non-profits, reach out to a non-profit that you appreciate. Volunteer for them. Gain some skills through that. Be mentored that way. That’s another way to gain skills in a nontraditional way, but also to gain, I would say, nontraditional skills.

Being A Valuable Part Of The Workforce Can Bring Self-Worth

So many people are looking for people to run their social media nowadays, or their blog, or website editing, or other things that many companies need. A lot of women, once they get those skills and they’re really good at it, they can put an ad up on KSL, “I can run your social media.” If you’re not in Utah, KSL’s the most popular classifieds. What suggestions do you have to gain confidence in the workplace? I think confidence is so important as women are looking to join the workforce again.

Brittany: This is something that I struggle with. I can usually fake it ‘til I make it. I would say that’s the same with this. If you become the cheerleader of the people around you, it only does good things for you. It will open up doors and, if anyone has something to say about me, I build confidence up in other people on my team of 12.

I really try hard to be an example of building them up publicly. I have a little bell in my office, so when they do something awesome—and they all think it’s really cheesy and annoying, but I ring my bell, because I just want them all to hear about this awesome thing that their team member’s doing. I compliment them in really specific ways. I try not to be superficial about it, “You really did a good job of presenting to this client,” or, “I can tell you’ve really improved in this specific way.”

Your Self-Confidence Is Contagious

Another thing that I’ll say is to assume that you’re going to fail, especially if you’re coming into a new position, or you’re working, and you don’t want to be. You always have something to learn. Having that attitude will actually give you more confidence. It may seem counterintuitive but owning that you always have something to learn will only help other people around you feel more confident in what you’re doing, because nothing makes me more nervous than someone who’s overly confident who shouldn’t be.

I think, when you’re humble about it and own that you’re not perfect, you help other people lift you up, and then you can do that in return. Then, the last thing I’ll say is to always ask. I love what Sheryl Sandberg says in “Lean In,” and that is that women just need to raise our hands more.

I could say, again, if you’re coming back into the workforce and that’s not an environment that you’re used to, ask questions. There really are no stupid questions. Be prepared for rejection, be prepared that people might think that it’s a weird or a different question, but you can bounce back from that and gain confidence along the way.

Volunteer Work Can Build Self-Confidence

My favorite saying from a blogger, I’ll give her a shout out, her name’s Emily Ley, and her trademark saying is, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” That runs through my mind all day long.

Anne:  With Betrayal Trauma Recovery, everyone who works for or volunteers for Betrayal Trauma Recovery—so all of our coaches have experienced it themselves, they’re well into their healing process. Me, I’m still recovering from an abusive relationship that was really, really intense and super traumatizing, all of our volunteers are.

I was talking to our board chair, and I told him it’s kind of rough, sometimes, one of the volunteers has a really bad day. She had to file for divorce that day, for example, or she got a legal notice. We all have to be very flexible to work around the trauma episodes that might happen or the very difficult things knowing that many of us are single moms. I said, so that’s probably our main weakness. He said, “No, that is your biggest strength.”

How Your Skills Can Help Others With Self-Esteem

You understand what it’s like to be an abuse survivor. Everyone in your organization does. Even if you say the wrong thing, or even if you make a mistake—one of our coaches is amazing, she is so on the ball, and so responsible. One morning, she accidentally set her alarm for 4 p.m., rather than 4 a.m., to get on one of our groups. She missed the group, and she felt terrible. The night before, she’d been through some awful things. We are all working together to provide both the people that work for us and volunteer for us, and also our clients so much grace. Our non-profit culture is amazing that way.

Brittany: I don’t think I have a single friend that has a traditional career. I have some friends who are teachers, but then, in the summer, they do crazy cool stuff, or they’re doing research on the side. I have a bunch of friends who work in public relations, because that’s what I do. A bunch of them do freelance on the side. There’s just a lot of different ways that you can either supplement your traditional 9 to 5 job.

Being Flexible and Resourceful Is Essential To Self-Sufficency

Cool examples that I like to share, I have a friend who makes really good money selling designs on Amazon. She is a stay-at-home mother. She’s got three kids under four, and, basically, put her husband through grad school by selling on Amazon. She completely figured out how to use Adobe Illustrator through YouTube videos. I think that’s one of the coolest examples that I’ve heard. She was so determined to do it during naptime, and whenever her kids went to sleep.

I have another friend whose husband was diagnosed with cancer about three months after they got married. They’ve been married for years now, and he’s still going through treatments. It’s really hard for her to have a traditional job. I just think this is really neat. She’s got a coloring book Instagram. Coloring book companies pay her to film adult coloring books. She’ll do the mindfulness ones, she just did some for Star Wars a few days ago. She’s actually supplementing their income by making these really fun and creative videos.

How Life Experience Can Increase Self-Confidence

Another really, really cool example, there’s a ton of women who teach English to children in China online in the morning before their kids are even awake. I have a few friends from church who are doing that, who are in the single mom, trying to figure out what’s next group. It’s been a really good bridge to their next thing.

There aren’t limits. I don’t think this is probably the best thing to do if you’re trying to put food on the table, because it’s really, really tough to find consistency in the beginning, but I will say that I can name off the top of my head five friends who quit their 9 to 5 jobs because that side hustle ended up giving them more flexibility and more money in the long run.

Anne:  Yeah, and there’s so many different ways to do it. So many women who are in trauma, they’re recovering, and so their reading books about abuse, or reading books about porn addiction, or sex addiction, and they’re just so immersed in it. I get a lot of women saying, “Oh, I want to be an APSATS coach.” I tell them get a lot of recovery down, two to three years first, and then see if you’re still interested in it.

Working Can Help With Healing And Self-Worth

I have been in this field, in this industry, for seven years, working for other organizations and then starting my own organization, so I know this is my calling. I’ve found a lot of women, once their out of the crisis stage, and they’re two or three years into recovery, they start thinking, “Wait a minute, you know what, my true love is interior design. I’m sick of talking about recovery.”

You might’ve volunteered for Betrayal Trauma Recovery, for example, or another non-profit that you’re interested in during the interim, and built up some skills, maybe design skills, maybe social media skills, whatever they are, but then, once you’re feeling peaceful, you’re stabilized, you’re safe, then start to think, “You know, if I had to talk about this every single day for the rest of my life—”

I know a lot of women, once they’re stabilized and in recovery, they might want to schedule a support call once every six months if something happens, but, other than that, they’re on their way. They’re looking to the future. If you’re still in trauma, or still trying to heal from trauma, you don’t want to make major life decisions about the whole career track that you’re going to go on, or whatever. You want to be stable before you make giant, life-changing decisions like that.

The Workforce Can Be Empowering For Self-Esteem

Right, yeah, that makes total sense.  I think what’s nice about something like this is you can experiment. You can see what you’re drawn to. You can always adjust and figure out what you enjoy, like you said, after you’ve healed.

Anne: It’s always a process, and that’s okay. We need to enjoy the journey.  In terms of women in the workplace, what can women do to set themselves apart?

Brittany: Again, one of the reasons I started Livlyhood was because I feel like women are either known as being passive and not asking for what their worth, or their the other extreme and they’re intense and they’re crazy and other words I won’t say. To set yourself apart, removing emotion from your work, I actually think is really important.

I don’t mean don’t be a woman, and I don’t mean don’t have passion in what you do, but I’ve always found that really focusing on the task at hand sets you apart. I’ve had a lot of female bosses who, unfortunately, I think let emotion rue the day, and you didn’t even get to see through that to get to the great work that they were doing.

Skill Building Is An Essential Part Of Self-Confidence

If I was coming into the workplace after going through something really emotional, I would try really hard to separate those things as much—like I said earlier, focus on what you’re getting out of your job. Is it to put food on the table and help support your family? Is it to develop a skill that you hope will be a long-term career?

Then just to be a beacon of positivity. I know we talked about building up other people around you, but I think one thing that can be tied to that negative emotion, or maybe being too intense, or on the flip-side, where you’re passive, you’re not pushing for what you deserve, is to be positive. Be positive about how you react to getting a last-minute assignment. If you have to cover for a friend’s shift, be positive about it.

It’s crazy how that is so rare, and how often I am told, when I really have to work on that. That’s not my natural disposition at all. I’m quick to try and solve problems, so I like to point out problems. I’ve been surprised, especially this is something I’ve worked on over the last couple of years, when I react positively how well that’s received.

Forming Healthy Connections At Work Can Help Self-Esteem

I actually got a note from my boss a couple months ago, after I did a public shout out to a team member. He said, “This is why people love working with you.” I really needed that that day. I think that that’s one way that we could really be different is to be positive.

That doesn’t mean you have to be Pollyanna. That doesn’t mean you have to fake it. I really hate the like, “Just smile and everything will be okay.” That’s not at all what I’m saying. I think if you can find the good in other people, they’ll find it in you.

Anne: I’ve had serious trauma triggers. Just a simple work thing, could turn into a really big trauma trigger. You could have a really intense work thing happen, like a boss betray you, or abuse you, and your trauma could be really intense from that. If you have to work now, which many women do, or they don’t have to but they choose to, still making sure that they’re working on their recovery.

Learning Marketable Skills Can Increase Self-Worth 

Brittany: That just made me think that I am very, very sensitive and I care a lot about my work. I think, in most cases, I lean too heavily on it being so much of who I am. One thing that I keep learning as I get older is that it’s not personal. I think that could be really helpful for someone who’s healing from trauma that it’s going to feel personal.

The way my mom describes it, which I think is kind of funny, is if you slowly build up your armor, protecting yourself in the sense that you’re not vulnerable, but you just know, “This isn’t about me, this is about the bottom line. This isn’t about me, it’s about my co-worker.” Being able to get to that place, it’s hard for anyone, but the sooner that you can get there, the more productive you’ll be.

Anne: I agree, and it takes a while to heal from that. When you’ve been traumatized, everything is personal. When you’re suffering from PTSD, it is so painful and difficult just surviving.

Thriving In The Workplace Starts With A Healthy Self-Outlook

Brittany, I appreciate you taking the time. Brittany’s website is It’s with a Y, so it’s L-I-V-L-Y, hood, We encourage you, if you’re interested in workplace issues, to check out her website and message her, you can ask her questions. If you have comments, you can also comment on our website. Go to, and you can find us there.

I would like to publicly thank the woman who runs our social media. I can’t say her name on the air, but she is amazing and wonderful, and she works really hard. Also, the dedicated volunteers that help with Betrayal Trauma Recovery and our coaches who work tirelessly to help women all over the world through one-on-one coaching and support groups.

Gain Confidence Through Developing Skills In The Workforce

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club is going strong. You get access to an APSATS-facilitated session every single weekday, and two on Tuesdays. We did that so that women can get as much support that they need for a very low cost, because we know that many women going through trauma are also having financial difficulties.

Coach Rae is partnering with Dr. Jill Manning to do How Do I Protect and Heal My Children? Dr. Jill Manning will help her facilitate that group. We’re also going to be starting the groups Workbook Study Facing Heartbreak and Healing My Self-worth and Self-image and, also, Understanding and Managing Triggers. If you’re interested in any of those, we already have women registered, and those will run as soon as they’re filled.

If you register, please make sure that you link to that description page in your secret Facebook groups and let other women know, “Hey, I’m taking this. Join,” and we will start that group as soon as it fills. I appreciate everyone who tries to help get the word out about BTR.

I just have a quick story. One of my friends recently went to a church training on this topic. The gist of the training was that both the husband and the wife are hurting. This leaves out the fact that the woman is a victim and that the husband is a perpetrator.

Working Can Be Empowering For Self-Healing

We know that men are hurting from their addiction and from their sad choices, but just because they are making sad choices doesn’t mean they need to be held accountable. Part of that, “Oh, I need help,” kind of a thing is also manipulation that they do to keep the women and to keep other people from holding them accountable.

This training was by a really good therapist, apparently, who doesn’t have training in abuse. Please help get the word out about BTR. Abuse is so misunderstood and so frequent with men who use pornography, that women really need to understand the abuse piece, in order to heal and make sure that the emotional abuse has stopped, and the trauma has stopped.

Thank you to all of you who are donating, who are posting about BTR on Facebook or other places to let people know.

One other bit of exciting news, we’re in the process of building an awesome new website, so if you see some weird stuff going on on our website, please excuse it for now. Or if you see typos, please let us know so that we can change it and get ready. I just wanted to let everyone know that you might see some kind of weird stuff. If you can donate to help us upgrade the website, we would really appreciate it. Until next week, stay safe out there.

Surviving & Thriving Through Divorce

12 Sessions, includes original materials
Led by Coach Rae
The group will start as soon as it fills.
Limited to 6 participants (minimum 3)

Surviving & Thriving Through Divorce is a four-month program for any woman whose marriage does NOT survive the trauma of sexual betrayal. Unlike other programs that support all partners of sex addicts (regardless of their relationship status), this group focuses exclusively on the needs of divorced, divorcing and separated women. With advanced training in grief and divorce recovery coaching, Coach Rae seeks to help women heal from the multi-layered impact of this experience: first, from the underlying horror of betrayal trauma, then from the secondary (sometimes deeper) trauma of divorce itself.

During our safe and supportive group sessions, participants will utilize original material written by Coach Rae, to address 12 key topics of divorce recovery for partners of sex and pornography addicts, including:

  • Discovery Day: The beginning of the end
  • Decision = The “D” Word: How did I decide to divorce?
  • Disintegration: How do I now relate to my ex husband?
  • Detailing the Damage: What have I lost in this whole experience?
  • Death Spiral: How am I experiencing grief in response to my divorce?
  • Divorcing Homes, Divided Hearts: How is this divorce affecting my family and social relationships?
  • Does Divorce Equal Failure? If my marriage failed, what does that say about me?
  • Deconstructing Sex, Intimacy and Womanhood
  • Date Night? Where am I at with the idea of future romance?
  • Discovering Me—Who Am I, Anyway? What’s my identity in the aftermath of this experience?
  • Designing Our New Lives: What kind of post-divorce life do I want?
  • Declaration Day: How will I say goodbye to my once-married life?

For more details, email Coach Rae at

I’m Anne. If you’re wondering who I am and why I do this, I’m just a regular woman who is recovering from her ex-husband’s sexual addictions and related emotional and physical abuse, and subsequent abandonment and divorce.

Coach Rae is here today to talk about what it takes to thrive before and during a divorce from a sex addict.

Divorce Does Not Cure Betrayal Trauma

When we discuss a topic like divorce, I need to pause and say something that is really important to me. Here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we’re very supportive of marriage. We do not want to suggest that divorce is a way to solve or resolve or heal from betrayal trauma. On the contrary, we know that some relationships do recover and we proudly support sheroes who experience healing within safe and stable relationships.

We also know that some relationships do not recover for a variety of reasons. We are equally as proud to support those sheroes who heal from separation and divorce.

Anne: Coach Rae, as you interact with women who are both in relationships of divorce or are divorcing, how do you see the trauma expressed in both of these situations?

Coach Rae: What I have concluded, Anne, in working with women who are in relationships and those who are healing from the aftermath of a relationship, is that it is an equal but opposite proposal–so there is healing to be done, regardless. Some women are able and successful due to some circumstances not in their control to heal within their relationship.

The reality is that women who do this healing for their own sake whether they are in a relationship or outside it, it is still healing and trauma and requires a great deal of support from others along the way.

Anne: What are the three most common challenges women have in dealing with the trauma during and after a divorce from a sex addict?

Coach Rae: Without a doubt, the number one most common challenge I encounter with the women I work with is grief. Grief is a really enormous issue. It’s multi-faceted. It’s complicated. Even under the best of circumstances, divorce involves a lot of grief. Divorce by itself is an independent trauma. So when you take the trauma related to a divorce and layer it upon sexual betrayal trauma, it further complicates the ways that grief can and does show up in any given woman’s life.

One of the things I mention when talk about grief and divorce, even with those who are anticipating or who have initiated divorce, or in situations where divorce is the healthiest option available, that divorce or end of marriage can feel like an amputation – a part is cut off; even if it’s a choice or a situation that you may know will save your life, it’s still bleeding, it’s still hemorrhaging . . . you may have needed it to save your life, but you know that it is still going to include major life changes and major impact; it’s going to change your life no matter how you look at it.

One of the things I often tell women is that when you know someone is dying, you can predict or figure out how you think you will feel when that person is gone. Ultimately, however, you don’t know how you will feel until it actually happens. It is similar with grief and divorce. You may anticipate what it might be like to go through it. Dealing with this in addition to all of the transitions you are going through with a divorce can be, without question, one of the most difficult things women face as they go through a divorce.

Another one is that everything is in a state of transition: relationships are changing; roles in relationship with others are changing; the boundaries that define and function in these relationships are changing. This is another thing that women don’t necessarily anticipate.

For example, if a woman who has reached a point of divorce, either through his choice or hers, and she has done a lot of recovery up to this point, if you take a topic such as boundaries and she already knows how to set boundaries with her husband, now she has to take a look at the relationship and figure out what boundaries look like in regard to her now ex-husband.

The third biggest challenge – which actually makes me cry the most because it is so incredibly hard, yet such an incredible breakthrough when a woman actually exercises this on her own – is self care. We discuss self care a lot in these circles, whether it is women healing in a divorce or in a relationship and it is difficult in all circumstances.

However, it becomes more challenging during the process of a woman extricating herself from a sex or porn addict. The additional financial strain and work and parenting stress are increased, while at the same time reducing the opportunity for self care. I find that women need to be really strategic and intentional when it comes to making this a priority. Sometimes we have to learn it the hard way. I remember during my own divorce 15 years ago and how I was burning the candle at both ends.

Even though I didn’t have kids, I was working full time and going to art school full time and I was completely and utterly exhausted. My wake up call that finally got through to me and made me realize that self care was no longer an option was when I ran a red light and stopped within inches of broadsiding a van full of kids. I realized that burning the candle at both ends might have felt valiant and successful, but there was a high cost coming with it as well. So self care has no substitute and a lot of women struggle with it.

Anne: I’m struggling with this the most, in addition to the financial stresses. All of these things you mention – the grief, the changing of roles in becoming a single mom – I have definitely experienced them.

What Betrayal Trauma Symptoms Do You Experience?

To our readers, what trauma have you been experiencing in relation to your separation or divorce? What is the most surprising thing and what is the worse thing? Please go comment on the bottom of this post. Tell us about anonymously your experience. We would appreciate you sharing things that maybe you are embarrassed to share, such as: do you miss your abusive husband?

Other things that are socially unacceptable such as something like people expected me to be relieved when my divorce was final because I had experienced abuse, but I was not relieved at all. I was extremely grief stricken because my ex had not made different choices. I was sad for him, for me, and for our children. I would really appreciate your feelings and thoughts about what you are going through with this.

Rae, how can women find some degree of peace even during a divorce process, as opposed to thinking that healing will only come after or as a result of the divorce?

Coach Rae: One of the things I really encourage women to do is to accept whatever emotions come up in them as authentically and in-the-moment as they can. Divorce is a huge learning curve – a dizzying curve that goes so fast there isn’t time to catch up or keep up. Emotions have an odd way of creeping up at less than ideal times! Remember how I just spoke about grief being unpredictable?

When I was going through my divorce I remember one moment when I felt more grief – pure sadness and loss – than at any other time. It was the moment when I found an email that his then-girlfriend sent to him saying she was going to call him the next morning at 7:00AM to wake him up. Somehow I had given all of my crap that I had found about his hidden sexual life less emotion than finding this little, silly, everyday intimate exchange.

This has been a good example to me of realizing that something so “small” compared to the bigger things still needed to be felt. I needed to feel all of the emotions. My advice in helping women through a divorce instead of waiting until the end is that whatever you are feeling, when it comes up, there is probably a reason you are feeling it in that capacity, in that moment. It is probably far more normal and healthy than you may tell yourself. Divorce is full of tough stuff. It’s full of tough challenges.

When those tough things happen, no matter how tough it is, put on your big girl panties, stare it down with whatever support network you need to make it happen, and get it done and then celebrate! Holding your own in court, finding a job that will pay you well enough, moving a dead rat from the garage – whatever it is, make it happen! Just yesterday one of the women posted a story that I got her permission to share with you. It really exemplified this in my mind.

She wrote: “I did something I detest this morning. It’s the worst chore in the universe and I didn’t ask for help! I cleaned my hair out of the shower drain! It was nasty, wet, and smelled like rotting sulfur. I almost puked repeatedly. Maybe I’ll be okay without a man to do the gross things for me.”

I think this crystalized how good women really are at surviving and thriving through this yucky, tough stuff, and maybe we have less reason to be afraid of those things than we might think. The last thing that may have a little different manifestation for everyone is understanding that a key to getting through a divorce and healing through the process is leaning on whatever degree or form of spiritual connection and support you possibly can.

Just as divorce is a time when we have to learn to do so much new on our own, by ourselves and for ourselves, it is also a time to learn to lean on others in ways we have not before. Going back to my divorce, I know there is no way in the world I could do it without feeling supported by God, without believing that despite the incredibly intense pain I was feeling, I knew that someone bigger and stronger was taking care of me and would make sure I would survive the experience.

During my divorce I remember watching a movie with a mom and young child who had been living with child’s dad who was a drug addict and dealer. It was a very unhealthy situation. The mom was pulling the kid out of the home and taking him away so he would not be exposed to all of the dad’s stuff.

The poor little kid was screaming bloody murder as the mom was pulling him from the home and putting him in the car. All he knew was that he was being taken away from his daddy. He was yelling and crying and kicking at his mom. I remember watching this movie when I was in the middle of my own brutal and excruciating pain and feeling like this little kid. I was so stirred up by all of the hurt. The only thing that really made me tolerate all of this was that I had someone like that mom–someone who was looking out for me and actually doing what was in my best interest even if it felt so completely, totally wrong to me at the time.

Anne: That example hits the nail on the head for me. In fact, the past even three days, I have been telling God that I want to listen to what he has to say, that I love Him, that I want to do what you want, but why aren’t you listening to ME? Your story is one I can use. Thank you for sharing it.

Luckily in my experience I have been able to have a lot of support.

How Does A Support Group During & After Divorce Help Women Deal With Betrayal Trauma?

Coach Rae: When dealing with betrayal trauma, medical research proves that for trauma survivors to speak openly, and in many cases, over and over, actually helps to repair the very real psychological and physiological injury the brain sustains due to the trauma it has experienced. When we bring these women together in these small groups of 3-5 women, it is safe.

We invite them to have focused time, space, and attention to give them the opportunity to share their experiences. It is a unique combination in divorce recovery of letting go of the old and letting in the new. Sometimes this feels like it’s going to split a person in two, in opposite directions.

But within this small group environment, that experience of amputation–like something has been cut off and life is different and hemorrhaging from what it used to be–serves to stop the hemorrhaging. The healing is cohesive and communal. Ultimately, it puts power back into the hands of women who are truly trauma survivors and allows them to navigate the divorce process within a safe, structured community of survivors. There is really no better way to heal from the experience of betrayal trauma or divorce trauma.

I’m so happy women are getting the help they need through this coaching group. Our next Surviving and Thriving Through Divorce group begins April 11, 2017. We only have one spot left.

Coach Rae, after a woman register for BTR Surviving and Thriving Through Divorce Group, what happens next? Is there a particular structure and what topics do you cover?

Coach Rae: Over the course of four months we cover 12 topics related to the experience of divorce or separation from a sex or porn addict. I won’t go into a lot of detail because they are listed on the BTR website. Within each 2-hour session, I make sure that in addition to having a designated topic for that night, we build in time to get to know each other’s lives and experience to give women a chance to ask a variety of questions.

A lot can and does happen throughout a divorce and it’s important to be able to give updates or share developments and checkins. We ask and answer questions like, “What is one boundary I have honored this week” or “What is one risk I have taken this week?” or “How have I enjoyed my singleness this week?” or “What is one sign of healing I have observed in myself?” or “What is one vision of my future I have explored this week?”

Through these conversations in addition to our topic, we make commitments to one another for things like self care and action steps that actually help us move through the process instead of sitting in the grief. One thing that is my favorite at the end of my individual and group coaching is asking each woman to complete this sentence: On the topic of ___________, I’m proud of myself for______________.

We end each session knowing we dove deeply into things that may have been uncomfortable, perhaps intense, and that may have really stretched someone is important because it helps women to recognize that within a particular area there is something that they can be proud about.

Anne: Is being divorced any easier than being married? I think people look at sex addiction in one of two extremes: you need to get divorced or stay married and ignore it. I personally have felt more comfortable in the middle, setting healthy boundaries and waiting to see what my spouse would do because I believe in marriage and I had no intention or desire for divorce. What are your thoughts? Does divorce stop the hurting?

When those papers are signed, how was it for you? For me, betrayal trauma was pretty the same before and after the papers were signed. In fact, in some ways the trauma got worse so I knew that divorce in and of itself was not the solution to my trauma.

However, I did know my no-contact boundary was super important for my healing. I needed to stop the trauma from happening in order to heal but the trauma never stopped. It kept coming every time I had an interaction with him it was another traumatizing event–where he was abusing me, withholding money, blaming me, claiming he was the victim. Because I held the no-contact boundary I was able to see him for who he really is.

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If you’d like to schedule a Support Call with Coach Rae or any of our other coaches, click here.

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