Category Archives: Blog

Meeting Yourself Where You Are

13 May 16
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Melody Jackman NWCHI

Melody Jackman, MA CMHC

“Meet your clients where they are” is a common catchphrase in today’s culture. Business professionals talk about “meeting customers where they are”. Educators discuss “meeting students where they are”. Budding therapists are taught a similar concept.

When a professional meets the client “where they are” the professional is willing to let go of any personal agendas and truly seek understanding and acceptance for where the person is on their personal journey. It means letting go of comparisons, ideals and what we think the client “should” be thinking, feeling, or doing. It is embracing where and who the person is in their individual process of forward movement and cheering on the efforts of the individual – no matter how small the steps forward are. The client is the one who knows what the end goal is and whether that goal has been reached.

When thinking about “meeting clients where they are,” I started exploring the challenges and benefits of meeting myself where I am. I started asking myself some revealing questions:
Do I allow myself to be in the space where I am without wanting to change it?
Do I allow myself to grow at my own pace, in the right way for me?
Do I cheer on my own small efforts and accomplishments in my forward movement?
Do I become bogged down by comparing myself to where others are?
Do I hold on to a list of ways I think I “should” be thinking, feeling, and behaving that are unrealistic?

When I think about “meeting myself where I am,” I feel a sense of freedom and acceptance for life as it is. I can more fully embrace the beauty in every moment. When I meet myself where I am, I appreciate that every second in time has value – victorious moments, flat-on-my-face moments, angry moments, and redemptive moments. No matter where one is on their journey, meaning and purpose can be found in every moment. But when meaning and purpose seem out of reach -or hard to find in the darkness- sometimes all one can do is cling to hope.

man in a dark forest

Comparisons are an easy quicksand for a soul to get stuck in. They seem innocent enough, but once you start in the trap of appraisal of self to others, it is hard to get out. Liberation from the grip of comparison comes by shifting our focus to the joy of our individual growth. At the end of the day, can we say that we are better than we were yesterday, last week, last month, or last year? Comparing ourselves to ourselves is the only legitimate way to gauge our growth. Responding to ourselves with self-compassion in our down times facilitates and fosters growth – and can be considered “growth” in and of itself.

Growth - Melody Jackman - NWCHI

We are surrounded by “shoulds”: constant messages of who, where, and what we “should” be. It is easy to erroneously try to meet the never-ending demands of some abstract “ideal”. But most of what I consider the “ideal” isn’t even realistic. My personal “ideal list” can become an unnecessarily heavy burden I choose to carry around because I believe the lie that I will somehow become more lovable when I reach “ideal” status. I have to remind myself that I am lovable in my averageness – just the way I am. The glimpses of oneself as enough -even when falling short- breathe sweet grace into my journey.

I would love to take up a permanent residence in the land of Meeting Myself Where I Am. This is a land of acceptance, understanding, self-compassion, progress, restoration, and wholeness. But I suspect that “meeting myself where I am” is more of a process than a place where I arrive. And so, for this moment, I choose to breathe in the moment and embrace the place where I am on my journey. Will you join me?

10 Years into My Husband’s Recovery: 3 Things I am Grateful For

11 Jan 15
anonymous
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hand holding an empty business card

10 Years into Recovery: 3 Things I’m Grateful For

My husband struggled with sex addiction for the first 10 years of our marriage, but it has now been 10 years since he relapsed. Along this journey I have had bad days, really REALLY bad days, worse days than even that, moments of joy, peace, and now a profound gratitude for the journey. I admit that I used to hate women who said they felt grateful for the journey. I would shoot daggers at them with my eyes. How dare they use words like “grateful” when my life was falling apart? Yet, as I sit and reflect on this whole journey I have to admit that I have actually turned into one of those “grateful “sorts of women. Here are three things I learned on the journey that I am grateful for.

1. I am grateful for hope.

At times it seemed like my life was destined to include one disastrous event after another. However, over the past few weeks I have been stunned by how much life has changed in the past year alone. I don’t think I could have imagined 10 years ago the life I am living now. It would have been mind blowing. I couldn’t have imagined being almost two years into a graduate degree. I couldn’t have imagined that a struggling teenage son would turn his life around and start to thrive. I couldn’t have imagined how much better the relationship with my husband would become. Many of the things I despaired over have turned out much better than I could have ever foreseen. Knowing this gives me hope that no matter what happens, there is always hope for a brighter future.

2. I am grateful for my imperfections and the imperfections of my loved ones.

I haven’t always felt this way. There was once a time when I wanted everything in my world to be perfect. Perfection meant I was doing everything right and therefore could be lovable. Now I know that love isn’t earned through being perfect. It is about allowing my weaknesses to be seen, and in that process know that I am loved even with my weaknesses. I’m learning that one really doesn’t love fully until they love both the strengths and the weaknesses of another person. Imperfection doesn’t take away from our beauty; it is what makes us beautiful. We are all a wonderful combination of both strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of my own weaknesses has helped me to be more patient with the weaknesses of others. I’m not perfect at letting go of trying to be perfect, I still have my moments. Yet I see the beauty in all of my life’s landscape because I know that it makes me who I am and is making me into who I can be.

3. I am grateful that there are challenges in life.

I know it sounds crazy, but the very thing that I thought was destroying my life – was actually trying to give me my life. I definitely didn’t see it that way in the beginning. At first I believed that I must have done something horribly wrong to deserve a husband with this addiction. Having hard times meant that I was somehow not enough as a person. I had this belief that if I was good enough then life should be smooth sailing.

I don’t believe this is true anymore. Instead of wanting a life of smooth sailing, I want my life to be one of constant growth. Unfortunately, growth comes from unpleasant circumstances and lots of discomfort. Challenges are like a gift that gives us the chance to move to the next level, they are not a curse because we are not doing all the wrong things. It’s not that I like going through hard times- I don’t. But during these hard times I am learning to anchor myself in the knowledge that this is something I can learn from, and that someday I will be able to see the trial with a new perspective.

The Importance of Talking about Healthy Sex with your Kids

19 Dec 14
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family 1

Last summer in a human sexuality course, the professor started by discussing how awkward it is to talk about human sexuality. One student asked the question, “Why is it that something as basic to our human nature and survival as a race is so uncomfortable to talk about?” There was a long and lively class discussion about religious sexual shaming, the mystery of human sexuality, and how the dark side of sexuality makes us reluctant to talk about any sexuality. Then one student raised her hand and said, “I’m more worried that our culture and media talks about sex too much!” Then it hit me. Unhealthy sexuality is flaunted all around us, and yet we are embarrassed about talking about healthy sexuality. This paradox struck me as absurd and really sad at the same time. We can’t combat unhealthy sexualization if we don’t talk about what healthy sexuality is.

For many, honestly addressing sexuality at an individual level is scary, let alone discussing sexuality with someone else. Whether it is comfortable or not, we are all sexual beings. We pay a high price when we don’t talk about sex because being able to talk about sex is crucial in couple relationships as well as helping children navigate the journey to sexual maturity.

We’ve all seen those awkward moments on TV, and in the movies, where a child asks their parent a question relating to sex and the parent, taken off guard, comes up with a vague funny answer. We laugh at these scenes, but the reality is miscommunication in teaching children about sexual health is no laughing matter. John Chirban stated that, “The fact is, sex is one of the most important, but least talked about subjects in parenting” (2007, xiv). Some parents do not talk sex with their child because they are afraid that discussing sex will make the child more curious about risky sexual behavior. However, Jill Manning, a therapist who specializes in pornography addiction, suggests children who have not been taught about sex by their parents are MORE likely to experiment with risky sexual behavior (2010). Manning also suggests that children prefer to hear about sexuality from their parents over other resources (2008).

When parents choose to not talk about sex with their child they are leaving their child to interpret sexual information outside of the context of their parent’s value system. And unfortunately, much of what is conveyed in the media objectifies human bodies, places too much value on visual stimuli, devalues human nature, and promotes selfish sexual behavior. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual health as, “. . . a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity” (2006, para. 4). If parents do not teach their children about sexual health, who will?

Recently, I ran across some research by Drs. John and Julie Gottman concerning couples and their sexuality. They suggest that couples who can comfortably talk about sex with each other are significantly more satisfied sexually than couples who are not able to talk comfortably about sex (Gottman & Gottman, 2013). I couldn’t help but think that learning how to discuss sexuality comfortably in a couple relationship starts with whether or not sexuality was comfortably discussed within the homes of each partner in the relationship. Children need to know that their parents are at ease when talking about sex and comfortable setting boundaries on what appropriate sexual behavior is. This helps children develop into sexually mature adults.

Convinced that you need to talk about sex with your children, but are not sure where to start? There are many books on the market to help aid you in the task. Most library systems and bookstores have several books on this topic on their shelves. Skim through the content of the books to see if there is a good fit for your belief system. It is also a good idea to talk with other parents in your faith system or school or play groups about resources that they have found helpful. I like What’s Love Got to do with it: Talking with Your Kids about Sex by John Chirban. Chirban does a good job addressing not only the physical aspects of sex, but also the spiritual, social, emotional, and relational aspects of sex. However I also understand that this book may not be a good fit for everyone. It is important that as a parent you use resources that fit your value system.

References:
Chirban, J. (2007). What’s love got to do with it: Talking with your kids about sex? Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Gottman, J., & Gottman, J. (2013). The art and science of lovemaking. Seattle, WA: The Gottman Institute, Inc.
Manning, J. (2008). What’s the big deal about pornography?. Ann Arbor, MI: Shadow Mountain.
Manning, J. (2010). Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Audiobook. Deseret Book.
World Health Organization. (2006). Defining sexual health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/sexual_health/sh_definitions/en/

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart Of The Matter

29 Oct 14
anonymous
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The Heart Of The Matter: AKA Sometimes God “Taketh Away”
So That You Learn To Give More

Many thanks to NWCHI for hosting a screening of my documentary film, The Heart of the Matter, in September 2014 and also for allowing me to guest blog and plug my wonderful film to you all. I am going to share with you a little of how this film came to be.

It was October of 2011. Despite being in conversations with a cable station for months, I had just found out that my production company was not going to be hired for a regular series. I had been so sure that I would be getting the biggest contract of my career, but my concepts were ultimately rejected. I’d been so blindly confident that I’d be heading up a new show, that I literally had no plan B.

Weeks later I was lamenting about it all to my wonderful sister-in-law and expressing to her that I had NO IDEA what to do next. And she said to me, in effect, “You know what, maybe it’s God’s plan. Maybe he wants you to start working on your documentary.” Then it hit me – hard – Yeah, that’s what I am supposed to do. So Holly is really to thank for getting me off my whiney butt and in gear pursuing a project I’d had in mind for over 2 years.

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

As early as the fall of 2009, the seed was planted. I was sifting through footage for my job, repurposing old content. (Good times :).) It was here that I came across a few programs that mentioned pornography addiction and how it was affecting marriages and families. Although I didn’t know anyone who struggled with a pornography addiction (Or so I thought.), it got me thinking and eventually researching on the topic, because I had heard frequently in church that it was a problem.

I read books, blogs, and research papers; watched videos; and listened to many personal accounts. During 2010, I began talking about the issues out loud with people. I’d learned enough to know that shame was the biggest roadblock to healing and prevention. So just talking about it in casual ways opened my eyes to how much it did affect people I cared about. A few male co-workers allowed themselves to admit that they “struggled in the past”. A few of my college girl friends began talking about the real reasons their marriages had ended. Eventually, I began to see the red flags in people’s behaviors and know that several of my own family members were struggling with pornography in their lives.

But my drive for this project got lost in 2011 because I had plenty of contract work. It wasn’t until I had ZERO WORK on my plate did I think to pursue the film again. My work and income had to dry up in order for me to push myself down a new path – and become an independent film producer and director. I’ve had this gut feeling that I would not get any lasting work until I made this film. And it’s been hard. Really hard.

Over the 3-year process of working on this film, I’ve continued to be stripped down and humbled. I’ve gone from having an over-inflated view of my talents to simply trying to rely on God to make things work the way He wants them to. I lost my home, a dear friend, and my savings. But I gained a lot of valuable knowledge on the issues, met a host of amazing new people, and continue to learn some hard but important life lessons. I feel like God took me down to almost nothing, so that I could be in the right frame of mind to make something truly useful for Him and for all of you.

And here it is. It is finished. I am so pleased with the final product. I could not have done it without God, Holly, Jordan, my parents, Nathan and so many others.

I hope you watch this amazing film. It could save your life or the life of someone you love. Sadly pornography is tearing apart our families and marriages, but here is a film that in just 75 minutes brings a remedy by finding honest, vulnerable, and non-shaming ways to talk about a difficult subject. There is hope. There is healing.

Purchase your copy here.

May God continue to bless all of our lives.

A Wife Redeemed

07 Feb 13
anonymous
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My Recovery from my Husbands Pornography Addiction