As a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach, our own Coach Gaelyn has gained the respect of many women. We want to give her a chance to answer some of your questions as the BTR Community. Take a peak into her thoughts and experiences, as Coach Gaelyn offers her candid insight and unique perspective.

A client in Wisconsin asks, “Can you share some of the ways being a coach impacted your decisions within your own marriage, and also the other way around? In other words, did you feel pressure to be an example of a ‘successful recovery marriage,’ because of your position within our community of women and couples?” 

Gaelyn states, “I found myself in a position that is many women’s worst nightmare. After 10 years of fighting for my marriage, just to have it end like this was bewildering. It was not so much pressure to be a “successful recovery marriage, but more like grief that I could no longer have that vision and gift that I cherished so deeply.”

Getting Personal Can Be Empowering

She goes on to add, “Living through this divorce really called for me to put my words into action and live the initial vision for my work as a coach couples relationships and divorce recovery. I wouldn’t prioritize the survival of a relationship over the survival of the woman within it. I could have made some ongoing desperate attempts to beg for my marriage, but that would have meant abandoning myself, my self-awareness, and my core needs within the relationship. And that would have defied and belied everything I chose to stand for as a coach. That would have been an outcome I’d have struggled to maintain in my integrity. 

Another Client asks, “What is one positive way your coaching work impacted decisions within your own marriage?”

Coach Gaelyn confidently answers, “I already mentioned the fact that I had access to incredible sources of education, awareness and expertise, thanks to my network of APSATS colleagues. Through my coaching clients, I had a lot of exposure to women surviving divorce from an addicted and abusive spouse. I knew it would be a hellish experience. I knew life was not easy on the other side of divorce—the grass wasn’t greener, and the trauma didn’t just stop. But I also knew that life DID GO ON after divorce. I knew it would mean picking up lots of shattered pieces. I knew I would never be the same again. And I knew I’d survive it—as have the army of women who’ve walked this path before me.

What About Personal Relationships?

Insightfully, Gaelyn adds, “One negative way my divorce impacted my coaching is that some of my friends, clients, colleagues and contacts have indeed distanced themselves from me. Sometimes it’s their pain, their fear, or their discomfort. Other times it’s just the reality of a shifting existence. Either way, I add that to the long list of painful changes involved in this experience. And I deal with it. Because, what other choice is there, really?” 

She also states, “One other thing that’s important to mention—and it’s a difficult thing for me to address—is the fact that my coaching work did seem to become hard for my husband to handle. Came down to a simple yet significant distinction between us. I wanted to make a small difference in the lives of a few people. My husband wanted to make a huge difference in the lives of lots of people. As he watched my career build momentum and blossom and grow, he saw me receiving opportunities that, due to his addiction and abusive behaviors, he wasn’t getting. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that if I had not launched my coaching career, my husband wouldn’t have relapsed or ended our marriage. I just think the fact that my growing identity and opportunities within this field became something difficult for my husband to tolerate. And, at least from my vantage point, he did everything he could (consciously or unconsciously) to try and sabotage it. 


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How To Get Personal And Maintain Boundaries

One women from the BTR Community asks, “Did your confidence as a coach get temporarily shaken? If so, how? What helped you the most to stay on track so you could continue to coach your clients effectively?”

Gaelyn replies, “The simple answer is yes, my confidence DID get shaken. While I was doing all of that internal processing, deciding what (if any) of my relationship had been real, I found myself questioning a LOT of what I’d accepted as reality—including my own qualifications for working with other partners of sex addicts. As for what helped me stay on track? The answer is simple: I surrounded myself with safe people whom I trusted (much more than I trusted my husband OR my own trauma-brain at that point) to reflect reality for me. And the reality I found reflected, time after time, indicated that I was indeed “coaching my clients effectively”—even when my confidence was at an all-time low. In psychology, this is often referred to as “reality testing.”And despite my lack of comfort and confidence, that “reality testing” indicated consistency that I was doing better than my perception suggested.

How To Know What Personal Information To Share

Here’s a followup question “As a coach, how much information (if any) did you share with your clients about what was happening? How did you know where to draw the line? How did your clients respond?”
Gaelyn states, “In response to the last question, I mentioned surrounding myself with “safe people” whom I trusted. Chief among that circle of safe people was my very own coach and therapist. Throughout this process, she was someone upon whom I relied heavily for advice about the intersection between my personal and professional worlds. She helped me clarify some ethical and professional boundaries that were important for me to respect as a coach—and to identify the ways those boundaries differ somewhat for coaches and therapists. Basically, for a period of time, I didn’t say anything to anyone without running it by her first. And as a testament to her amazingness, I never presented her with a question or challenge that she couldn’t answer. I basically developed a simple, clear and well-boundaried script that I spoke as needed with my clients during that period of time.

8 Ways To Remain Professional When Its Personal

Gaelyn describes her script of boundaries that she would share with clients during this time:

  1. I’m going through some difficult stuff in my own marriage right now.
  2. I want to show up for you and our sessions as presently and as authentically as I possibly can.
  3. What that means is that you might pick up on the fact that I’m not sharing as openly or as optimistically about my own past as I’ve previously done.
  4. I’m committed to keep our session time focused on you and your healing process, so I’m hoping you can join me in setting aside any concern you have for me and my stuff.
  5. Perhaps there will be a time in the future, outside of your coaching sessions, when you and I can talk about it further.
  6. But for right now, let’s get comfy and get settled into your agenda for our time together this afternoon.
  7. My rule of thumb was to directly let my clients know anything I didn’t want them to hear secondhand (accurately or inaccurately) from a third party.
  8.  I’m very well supported by my coach and my very close friends, and I’m getting the help I need to get through this rough patch. I want to let you know that.

Gaelyn adds, “My wonderful clients were actually wonderfully respectful of the boundaries I positioned between us. I have to say, one thing I’ve always stated is that as a coach, I need to demonstrate to my clients what healthy boundaries look like. Collectively, my clients did an amazing job of exercising back toward me the recovery skills I’d taught them along the way.

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Check out our daily support group schedule. You can also see the topics that our coaches cover, including Coach Gaelyn.

Until next week, stay safe out there.


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