Saturday, December 28, 2013

365 Days Ago

365 days ago I married the most patient, loving, and devoted man (read about our disastrous, beautiful, hysterical wedding here). Of course I knew it then, but this simple truth has been manifested to me continuously over the last 12 months and I can't help but feel like the luckiest woman in the world.


If I may be honest here... I really don't love the mushy, gushy, over-the-top lovey dovey posts that so many people publish. It's like some parade of perfection-- who has the best husband, who has the best life, who has the most stuff, etc. and I totally understand that blogs are a perfect habitat for such flaunting. My blog--this blog-- is not exempt from that. However, I try to post honestly here (as honestly as I can given that some things I simply cannot post considering my situation) and discuss reality. So while this may seem a bit lovey-ish, I hope you'll bear with me and get to the bottom because these are things I can't NOT say this very beautiful day.

You see, Seth and I have been through a lot in our first year of marriage. I don't think I can say "harder than most" or anything as blanket statement as that, but I do think it's safe to say that we have endured much together.

Becoming an insta-family is not easy.

Stepping into the role of insta-step-dad takes patience and a TON of love.

Taking on a divorced woman with baggage (for lack of a better term) is no simple task.

Learning to be vulnerable and trusting again proves to be extremely difficult at times.

Recently I sat on an airplane and was headed back home to Arizona. I sat in the window seat and gazed out the pane for almost the entire flight home. Tears welled in my eyes... I looked at the sun.... I saw the snow covered red rock... I thought about the man I had by my side... I thought about everything he had done on my behalf.... everything he has sacrificed for me... the solid rock and companion he has been..... and then something dawned on me. It's something I already knew previously, I just don't think I grasped it as clearly as I did in that very moment.

This man must really, really, REALLY, love and care about me... because I can't think of very many men who would knowingly take this on- take me on.

But there he was. After all of this. Next to me. Loving me. Supporting me. Wanting to build a life with me, even amidst the not-so-ideal parts.

Words cannot express how much love, admiration, respect, and care I possess for this special man in my life. Because of him, I want to be a better person. Because of him, I have grown in ways I'm not sure I would have otherwise. He is not perfect. I am not perfect. Together, we are far from perfect. But together, we make a really good team- one that is always striving to become better and stronger and for that, I am overwhelmed with a grateful heart this very meaningful day.

Today is a day full of love.

365 days ago I also married into the kindest and most compassionate, loving and supportive family.




















As I sat on that same airplane, overlooking  the Grand Canyon, my eyes dropped a stream of tears while thinking about how much I truly love and appreciate my new family. There is nothing but absolute goodness in this family and I am honored, humbled, and very grateful to be a BOYACK. It's pretty spectacular to feel love on this sort of level from people who have opened their home, their hearts, and their arms to Little Dude and I. Nothing compares to that kind of genuine love and I am so blessed to have it.

So while this Christmas holiday was an absolute blast, I must tell you that for me, it was not about gifts, or rings, or guitars, or who has the best-looking Christmas card, or who has the best hair, or who has the bigger, better, nicer house, or who went on what amazing trip. It honestly wasn't about any of that for me because, in the end, none of that really matters. Those things are fun in the moment, sure, but if you really think about it, it's all just fluff. Fluff that goes away and never lasts.

Instead, this season I have clung very closely to, and am celebrating and rejoicing, WHO I HAVE, not what I have. And when I really ponder who I have, I cannot deny that I have the most stellar of who's! I am surrounded by the most beautifully inspiring people; all different people, all for different reasons.

To my husband, my son, my family and my friends (new and old).... in real life, in blog-life, on Facebook, near and far.... you know who you are.... thank you for being part of my life. I feel your love. I hear your love. I see your love. And I hope you know that I love you, too.

This has been the BEST year of my entire life and that is because of WHO I HAVE.

My heart is bursting today.

One year down.

Many, many, many more to go.

It's a great day.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Quite Possibly the BEST!



It's over. I cannot believe how fast this season (rather, this year) flew by. We have been so busy these last few weeks I haven't had 5 seconds to sit down and write... but it has been  crazy and AWESOME! We spent the most wonderfully MAGICAL holiday with those we love most!

Christmas Eve was at my folk's place. We had a delightful dinner of citrus cornish game hens, roasted glazed carrots, creamy potatoes, salad and the yummiest fruitcake you've ever had in your life (even if you don't like fruit cake).



Then Grandpa and Papa packed up their stuff and came over to our house for a Christmas Eve sleepover. We wrote a letter to Santa, we got the cookies and milk ready, we read The Night Before Christmas, we sprinkled reindeer food in the back yard and then we nestled in our beds for a warm winter's nap and waited for Santa to come.

Christmas morning was a blast! Because I haven't had Little Dude since 2010 for Christmas, we didn't do much on those years... and we won't do much next year (as we get him every other year), so we figured it'd be fun to go all out THIS YEAR ;)

And we did!

Santa brought Little Dude a gaming system. I'm still not sure how I feel about it... ;)

I surprised Seth with his dream guitar.

And Seth surprised me with two gorgeous wedding bands. It said on the tag "To: JJ  From: It's Official" and they were wrapped within a box, that was in a box, that was in a box, that was in a box. So sweet.

Then we had a delicious breakfast and the rest of the family began to trickle in.

We spent the rest of the day playing cards, cooking, setting up the XBOX, cooking, having an indoor snowball fight Arizona Style, cooking, talking to our loved ones on the phone, cooking.

Seth and I hosted about 15 people and we had a delicious dinner with family and friends.

Overall, it was quite possibly one of the best Christmas's EVER. We were too busy preparing dinner to take pictures, but it really was great!

By 9:30 PM, after all of the dishes had been cleaned and put away, after the treats had been devoured, after lots of mingling, everyone began fading out. Then, Little Dude came into the living room with his hands on his ears, crying, and fevered. It was bad and I knew exactly what it was.

Red, bulging, dual ear infections. 

We had no other choice but to go to Urgent Care on Christmas night. He needed an antibiotic and quickly. Thank GOODNESS for the medical professionals who sacrifice their holiday for people like us.  Poor Little Dude.

So, we ended a fantastic day at Urgent Care and Walgreens. Can I tell you, though, how surprised I was with how many people were actually just roaming around Walgreens? It was CRAZY! The store was packed! 

After we got Little Dude some meds, he felt better and slept in until NOON the next day. 

WOWZERS!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, as well! I've been surfing through Facebook and Instagram today and with everything I'm seeing, it looks like everyone did.

Love you lots and lots!

p.s. I have a special post planned for tomorrow. I hope you'll check back. Our Christmas wasn't just about gifts and Santa-- there's so much more I'd like to write about... and so, there will be a continuation tomorrow.

And once the New Year sets in, I'll be back to writing A LOT more :) 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Bawl Baby

Hi friends.

I'm sorry I have been so distant lately.

I think it's safe to say that I'm a bit stressed.

Between juggling work stuff, holiday stuff, and personal stuff, I'm feeling frazzled. And it all seemed to surface yesterday during a mini-melt down. I was stressing over the gifts I've bought. I was crying over... well, I'm not sure why I was crying.... but I was crying. I'm not sure if I was triggering or what, but I took my frustration out on Seth and he patiently listened to my pathetic wallowing and told me that "everything was going to be okay". After I wiped my tears, I decided to chipper up and wrap some gifts.

As I was tightening the curly ribbon on the last package, I sneezed and my back sort of popped. It froze almost. Sharp pain in between my shoulder blades. Weird. After work, Seth came home and was in the kitchen rummaging around. I stiffly walked into the kitchen and as I looked down, I noticed a plethora of my receipts just laying there on the counter-- wide open for everyone to see. Everything we had purchased for Seth for Christmas was exposed. I scrambled and grabbed all of the receipts and shoved them into my purse and then I walked into the other room and cried all over again.

It seems like the visions I have created in my mind of how Christmas "should be" never come to life.

Am I setting the bar too high?

This is our first married Christmas together and I have not had Little Dude for Christmas since 2010. I want things to be magical and perfect and instead, I'm finding myself feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

I laid in bed last night grumpy and could hardly move (my back, what the heck?!).

I woke up this morning feeling a little better, but not much.

Then, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, something caught my eye. A video a friend of mine had made.

I watched the short film and I cried- but these were different tears. These were humble tears.

It put everything back into perspective.

It was the perfect solution to my woes.

It was the exact reminder I needed.

Everything I'm spending my time worrying about is not worth worrying about. Sure, giving good gifts is fun, baking the perfect gingersnap cookie is fun, ensuring Christmas is everything I think it should be is fun.... but that's not what the true meaning of Christmas is.

Like said in the video:

"This Christmas, let how you celebrate reflect what you celebrate."




Monday, December 16, 2013

And the Winner is....





























And the winner of the Kind Deed Christmas Giveaway ($100 TARGET GIFT CARD) is.....

ANNETTE BRADSHAW!

This was her entry:

"I volunteered to paint faces at a Christmas party for children with developmental disabilities. Painted about 70 adorable little kids faces."

I loved this Annette! I bet this was the experience of a lifetime and I can only imagine how sweet those little face were. Oh, the joy of Christmas in the eyes of children!

Email me your address at jacyleeclemons@gmail.com and I'll get this out to you :)

There was so many WONDERFUL good deeds this year! Thank you so much, ALL OF YOU, for sharing the kindness you spread to others this season. Your words brought smiles to my face and tears to my eyes all week long. In fact, it was so touching that I couldn't help but just leave the post up, uninterrupted, for the whole week. I hope you enjoyed reading the comments here and on Facebook as much as I did.

Thank you for being such a wonderful community!

And now I'm off to start Christmas shopping this morning. Yes, I said START! I am sooooo behind it's scary.

Are any of you procrastinators like me? :)

Happy Monday!

XOXO


Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Giveaway: $100 Target Gift Card!





























I just love this time of year!

I love the hustle and bustle. I love the excitement. I love the cool crispness in the air. I love the gift of giving. I love celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

This year, we have been ever-so blessed. Both Seth and I have had life-changing opportunities and we could not be more grateful for everything we enjoy. That being said, I wanted to say thank you to all of you.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for supporting me/us.

Thank you for reading, commenting and being part of this little community.

I have been inspired and enriched by you.

So, as a little thank you, and for the holiday season, whoop de doo!, I wanted to do a little something fun.... a giveaway!

On the line is a $100 gift card to TARGET.

Because who doesn't love Target? And who couldn't use an extra $100?

HOW TO BE ELIGIBLE TO WIN:

1) LIKE My Name is Jacy on Facebook HERE (if you haven't already)

2) Leave a comment telling me the last act of service you did for someone else. If you can't think of anything off the top of your head, don't worry! You will have one whole week to do something nice for someone and come back and comment. And don't be afraid to brag about the kind thing you did, either :) That's the point.

The winner will be picked at random and announced next Monday. Final entries will need to be in before Sunday night (December 15th) at midnight MST. Yay! Now, I suppose someone could be dishonest and just make an act of kindness up but that would be really lame and not like the readers that participate here.... so, honesty is the best policy please :)

And in the spirit of giving, if you share the giveaway on Facebook, you'll get TWO entries in the giveaway, so let me know if you share it, too! Here's the link to copy and paste:

http://www.mynameisjacy.com/2013/12/christmas-giveaway-100-target-gift-card.html

Good luck!

p.s. yes, you can enter if you know me personally :)

p.s.s. if you don't have Facebook, you can still enter the giveaway. Just leave a comment telling me so along with your kind deed.

** For the sake of shipping, only residents of the United States are eligible to win.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up





























"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

~Nelson Mandela

The world just lost a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful man, but heaven is one star brighter as of yesterday. 

In case you're interested, I was asked to participate in an internet series for women called Tips for Women in Recovery. I titled my article "This is NOT a Reflection of You!" Check it out HERE... I'd love to hear your thoughts!

And for some other exciting news.... next week I am doing a national webinar with Netnanny. If you'd like to participate and listen in, you can register HERE. Seats are limited so hurry up and secure a spot! Here's a blurb of what they shared on their website ;)

 Guest speaker: Jacy Clemons Boyack, founder of The Togetherness Project. 

Women are drastically affected by the sexual addiction/infidelity of their husband or partner and experience significant trauma. Often, they are overlooked, which leaves feelings of isolation, humiliation, guilt, despair, anxiety, and great sorrow. Learn how to navigate through this uncomfortable and foreign territory with your loved one.  Based on her own personal experience, Jacy will share essential tips for helping shoulder the burden women are forced to carry. Discover how you can rally around and best support women who are enduring the devastating reality of sexual betrayal.

Wishing you all a very wonderful weekend! I love the holiday season, don't you? ;)

xoxo

Image: Jan Perkins

Thursday, December 5, 2013

For The Young Women Who Are Dating: Pornography Addiction is SERIOUS!


As I was cramming every single item I'd ever owned in the back of my cherry red Honda Civic hatchback in 2002, not only did scrunchies, photo albums and Lifehouse c.d.'s spill out of the cardboard boxes, but so did every ounce excitement that existed within me. For the first time in my life, I was about to embark on an adventure as an adult. I was, after all, heading for college as a young, naive, immature, 18 year old who knew exactly what she wanted. My hopes and dreams and plans for life could not have been any brighter.

Looking back to that monumental day full of innocence, nothing- no one- could have ever convinced me that 8 years later I would be a single mom, divorced, basically education-less at the ripe age of 26 years old. Nothing- no one- could have ever forecasted what I was about to experience.

If you've been following this blog for quite some time, you know that I've already written much about all of that. I find that when I am trying to help others who are in my same boat, I continue to heal. That's why I write. But somewhere along the way, I've missed writing one very important post. I have yet to write to me: the 18 year old Jacy, whose dreams were unbreakable. But this post isn't for me because I've already lived it. Instead these words are for the young women who are getting their college degree's, who are building their professional resumes and who are looking for that very special person with whom they'll share their life with, grow their family with, and build their home with.

This is for you if you are dating now, are currently dating someone seriously, are engaged, or if you are a newly wed.

***

Dear Younger Version of Me,

Isn't this part of your life just amazing? The vast opportunity that your future holds? It's very exciting, I know. I've been there. Finding your true love and the thoughts of beginning a life with someone is so wonderful! It's a time like no other before. But in between all of the butterflies of being on cloud 9, in between all of the cutesy wutesy text messages, in between the fun dates that you never want to end, there is a very troubling actuality that MUST be discussed. There is something BIG that is threatening marriages and families everywhere. There is something that you and the man you are dating are up against.

Oh, how I wish I was writing you because I had some out of this world fashion advice that would enhance your confidence. Sometimes I wish I was the one behind the successful beauty, crafty, or cooking blog as they offer so much excitement and energy around the newest craze. People are drawn to them like magnets because it's fun. I understand why- because those blogs are lighthearted and usually avoid the things that are "difficult to talk about"- but someone has to talk about the crappy stuff. Someone has to talk about what often happens behind the smiling "picture perfect' family photographs.

Welcome to My Name is Jacy: the blog about a woman whose life unexpectedly fell apart. The blog about how a woman lost her hope, her love, her faith, her home, and her traditional family all in one blow. The blog about a woman who is trying to rebuild all of those things with a broken, confused, traumatized heart. The blog about how two words that most people cringe when they see or hear changed her life: sexual addiction.

Believe me... I don't like the words either. And the hundreds of beautiful women I've come to know because of those two words also despise them. Sadly, these two words have become a difficult reality we are forced to face. The words aren't just uncomfortable words anymore, these words have created significant challenges in our marriages, these words have squashed our self esteem, and for many of us, these words have created the dissolution of our marriages. These words have changed our lives.

Looking back, hindsight is always 20/20. I cannot tell you how many people have asked if I would go through it all again, knowing what I know now. I have answered this question many times and the answer has always remained the same: YES! The answer is actually a million times YES! Because if I said no, I wouldn't have my son, I wouldn't have this new found compassion, understanding and perspective, I wouldn't have the amazing friends I've met on this journey, and I wouldn't have the beautiful marriage I have with Seth. So, no, I would never change it.

BUT!

Please know.... that it is not easy. No part of it. In fact, it sucks sometimes... (and I hate the word sucks as I think it's quite classless and immature).... but there is no other way to describe it. I cannot stress enough how brutal it has been. I cannot stress enough how real it is. So even though I would never go back and change it, I can use my experience to help others. That's the point of this whole journey I'm on. To share my story so that maybe, just maybe, one person out there won't have to experience what I have. Or at least that person might be more prepared than I was.

So, I've created a guide for you. This is what I would adhere to if I were in my young single adult hood again. This guide is not perfect, it won't solve your problems, it won't keep pornography away forever, it's not doctrine but I think it's a powerful place to start.

A Guide For The Young Women Who Are Dating: Pornography Addiction is SERIOUS!

(Pornography addiction is sexual addiction. Sexual addiction is pornography addiction. Don't let the words scare you off or make you think it doesn't apply to you. It's all the same and as such, I refer to both in this guide.)

1) DO NOT TURN A BLIND EYE

Sometimes ignorance can be momentarily blissful. Sometimes ignorance seems like the easier route. If I pretend like it's not an issue, it'll just go away. Well, that only works until it all comes crashing down and the problem surfaces and rears its ugly head. Do not avoid the problem. Don't avoid this issue. It is real. It is prevalent. It is bad. Recognize the seriousness of it and get the conversations rolling, even if it's really really really weird and awkward to do so.


2) DO YOUR RESEARCH

Be brave and be smart by getting educated. There are websites, blogs, books, recovery programs of all kinds that offer education and support. Even if you don't think sexual addiction would be in your stack of cards, learn about the real threat it is and can be to not only your marriage, but your family, and even possibly your own health.

New research is saying that first exposure to pornography is happening between 8-11 years old. Hard core porn. So yes, the man you are dating, engaged to, or are married to has seen it. How much? How often? I can't tell you.... but he has most likely seen it. Which is why NOW is the time to figure out how often, if it has become something he can no longer control, and how it will affect your relationship moving forward.


3) ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

I never liked asking the questions when I was back in the dating world as a single mom, but I made myself do it. On a date, over pizza and root beer, I asked one fellow this question:

"When was the last time you looked at pornography? And when was the last time you looked before that?"

He about choked and he looked at me like I was crazy. But I don't think it's a matter of IF anymore, it's WHEN.

I know it's very blunt and I know it can be scary, but if you find yourself getting into a pretty serious relationship (or are possibly thinking about marraige) ask the hard questions!

4) LEARN TO DISCERN

Once you've asked the questions, instead of only listening to the words in his answer, listen to your gut.
I know this can prove to be really difficult because you're so in-love (and understandably so! This is the best time of your life- I get it!), but try your very hardest to listen to what your gut is telling you.

Now, if you're anything like I was 10 years ago, my gut felt great because I didn't know the first thing about pornography addiction. I had not the slightest clue as to what I should be looking for. And if someone would have showed me this guide then, I'm not sure I would've paid a lick of attention to it. I didn't give this sexual addiction mumbo jumbo two seconds of thought. As far as I was concerned, it was never going to infiltrate my life.

Please listen to me.... don't be ignorant and naive like I was! Learn from those who have traveled before you and have learned the hard way.

So, back to discerning.... how do you do this when you're madly in love and not really sure what you're looking for?

Trust what you feel in his presence.

Do his words feel too good to be true? Like to the point that it feels almost impossible for it to be this great? Does he answer every question about sex, masturbation, pornography with a "never"? Does he tell you everything you want to hear? Has it never ever ever been a temptation for him?

I would view these types of responses as red flags. My gut screams that this is not accurate. Is it possible that he's never viewed porn or masturbated in his life? Seth and every other man I know would say absolutely not and he is lying. While it's not really fair to make general blanket statements, is it possible there are some who never have? I suppose so. Is it probable in this day and age? I'd go ahead and say no. It's possible, not probable. That's the way I see it.

On the flip side, does he get defensive and weird when you ask the difficult questions about pornography and masturbation? Does he shy away from talking about it? How does he respond to your genuine concerns about the issue? Does he react defensively and say "I cannot believe that you don't trust me!" Does he blame you? Does he call you crazy, controlling, or prudish for asking these types of questions?

When it's not all butterflies in your belly and make-out sessions on the couch, how does he respond to the not so pleasant parts of life? Discern how you feel. Watch closely to see his reaction. I've found that you can learn a lot about someone by how they react. In my very humble opinion, if a man is being honest and open and is non-defensive when being asked these challenging questions, it usually means that he is somewhat sexually healthy. To what level? I could not tell you. But non-defensiveness and a willingness to actually engage in the hard conversations is a great starting point and a positive sign.

5) PROCESS HIS ANSWERS BUT DON'T FREAK OUT!

However he responds to your questions, be calm. Even if you are burning inside, try listen to what he says before you just blow up, react and accuse. Let him answer the questions as honestly as he can, as they are hard for him too.

If he responds with:
a) "I've never done it!" 
This concerns me. "Never" is typically a very unrealistic response in this day and age. Perfection does not exist. 
If he responds with:
b) "I look at it a few times a month maybe, but don't worry... I've got it under control. It's not a problem." 
This concerns me because every one's definition of "frequent" and "problem" is different.
If he responds with:
c) "I've struggled with it before or I'm struggling with it now"
This concerns me for obvious reasons: addictions have the potential to cause harm.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Every response is concerning to me. Call me paranoid, call me Debbie Downer but from my perspective, it is all concerning at this point. Now, this by no means means that I think every man, no matter what his answer is, is an addict. But I do think that it's worth exploring the conversation more beyond a simple "never", "I've got it under control" or "it's been a struggle before".

So, what do you do? Don't freak out quite yet. Don't break up an engagement. Don't try to play therapist.

6) DON'T TRY TO FIX IT YOURSELF- SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP!

I would schedule at least one appointment with a sexual addiction specialist and I would go, together. YES! I am being 100% dead serious. When you've seen the thousands of tears I have seen, when you've heard the hundreds of seriously sad stories from women just like me and just like you, and when you've witnessed dozens of family's falling apart because of sexual addiction, it is SERIOUS. This is not a game. This is not a joke. This is your life.

By booking an appointment with an in-tuned therapist, they will be able to offer support to you both. And depending on how severe the usage is, the therapist will help you navigate moving forward. And perhaps you'll discover that pornography is not a serious issue, there is no harm whatsoever in addressing the very threatening problem. This, alone, will be worth the 60 minutes of your time and the $100 it will cost you.

7) THOUGHTFULLY (AND WITH HUMILITY) STUDY THE REALISTIC SITUATION

Acknowledge what exactly it is you are dealing with.

Is this a problem now?

Given the past, could this be a problem in the future?

If addiction is admitted, ask yourself if this something you want to take on?

"Do I understand what marrying an addict really means?"

Now I want to tread on this very carefully because this is by no means an attempt to attack people who struggle with addiction. I know such people and many of them are really smart, wonderful, caring, loving, and successful people. In fact, a few of my most cherished friends have struggled or currently struggle with addiction (both men and women). To me, it's not the person with the addiction that's the threat. It's the addictive behaviors that accompany addiction because addiction, no matter what type, is HARD. And the crappiest part of addiction is that it hurts so many more people than just the addict.

So, again, ask yourself: "Is this something I want to knowingly marry in to?"

If after you've very thoughtfully considered all of the above and your answer is YES, promise me that you'll go back to the therapist. Seek help, seek recovery and gather as many of the tools as you can and get started on it now. Therapy can help you cope with the feelings you're already experiencing about the frequency of his pornography use, and they will also help you to understand and navigate through what a marriage with this type of addiction will entail. The other crucial part of this is ensuring that your partner continues to go back too, as a therapist will guide what recovery/sobriety will look like for him.

Don't assume that it won't or can't get worse. I promise you, it can. It does. It happened to me. It happened to hundreds of women that I know personally. Some addictions only go as far as occasional online usage. Some addictions get into more interactive stuff: cyber sex, chatting, dating, etc. And some addictions turn into physical infidelity: affairs, sexual encounters, prostitutes, strip clubs, STD's. Yes, it happens; to the best of women and men. It happens all the time. It is happening right now. And it usually always always always starts with pornography addiction. It is not an easy path, no matter how severe or not the addiction is... it ALL hurts the same, that I know to be true.

It doesn't mean that it can't work, or that there isn't healing, recovery, and happiness. Many of my friends have stayed in their marriages. They are making it work. Their husbands are in working recovery. There is such profound love and honor in that. But if you were to ask any one of them on any given day if it's easy, I am most certain they would all tell you that it is one of the hardest things they've ever had to do.

On the other end of the spectrum, if after you've very thoughtfully considered all of the above and your answer is NO, you do not want to knowingly marry in to addiction, please know that it is okay. You are not a failure, nor does this mean that you are unforgiving or unwilling to love. Too often we think that we can save people. Or heal people. Or change people. This is erred-thinking. People have to want to change themselves and we are only responsible for our own choices.

Being sexier won't make a sexual addiction go away.

Having sex every single day for the rest of your life won't make a sexual addiction go away.

Avoiding the problem won't make a sexual addiction go away.

As weird as it sounds, sexual addiction isn't about sex. It's about so much more and it takes a lot of time, energy and therapy to get to the root of the problem and work real recovery. You are not responsible to fix him, you CAN'T fix him and you are not a loser for walking away.

So, if you decide not to marry someone because of addiction, promise me that you will also go back to individual therapy. I cannot tell you how many women I know who have been traumatized just in the dating world. It's a big deal, don't ever minimize it. Get the proper help you will need to heal yourself.

8) REMEMBER YOUR WORTH

In this process, along with the many negative emotions that comes with sexual addiction, one that seems to almost always happen to the woman is a loss of self love and confidence. I think that just might be the most painful part of it all- how worthless we feel. But after 4 years of the most painfully beautiful experience, I've realized that it has nothing to do with me; it never did and it never will. I cannot control the choices anyone else will make but what I CAN CONTROL are my OWN choices- one of those being how I see myself, how I love myself, and how I care for my own wellbeing.

No matter what happens in your life, there is hope and you can rise above. Don't lose hope if you're not married right away; take your time and be selective.  Don't lose hope if your fiancé admits to addiction; feel blessed that he was willing to admit it to you beforehand so that you can reassess the situation and go in EYES WIDE OPEN. Don't lose hope if you're a newly wed and you've just discovered secrets; yes, it stinks, but there is help for you both and there is so much hope.

I've seen women successfully fight for their relationships/marriages and it's amazing, I've seen women who have fought so hard there is no other choice but to leave, I've seen women who wanted to fight but have been left. No matter who they are, or what the outcome is, each of these women are all so resilient, courageous and absolutely beautiful. They are the most beautiful women on earth, I think.

If I can sum it all up, I'd ask that you press forward in this sexually charged world we live in with awareness, wisdom, and confidence. By following these simple tips, you'll be far ahead of where I was when I was your age. It's so important to understand how real and destructive sexual addiction is and hopefully this will give you some basic tools that will help you journey down this foreign path. Listen to the women who have blazed the trail before you- because we were young like you once and for most of us, we never thought this would be our reality.

We are here to help you... and hopefully make it a little bit easier...

You can do hard things. Never forget that.

All my love,

Jacy

*For the sake of clarifying, I've gone in and edited/added a few things that I did not express as clearly as I would have hoped to. I know some will not agree with every word in this post and that is okay. Again, this is a guide coming from my personal experience, which was life changing for me. That's the beauty about writing and sharing our stories; we can pick and choose the parts we like and disregard the points we may not agree with.



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our Relationship Part 4: Tempering Unrealistic Expectations






























For all of my life, I've had expectations of precisely how my life would play out. I had an idea, this picture perfect idea, of what it looked liked. The picture was so clear that I could almost touch it. I could smell it. I could feel it. The visions in my mind were nearly tangible. And they were carved in stone, making them a permanent imprint of my life sketch. My life was destined to be flawless.

That all changed in one day. In those moments, I knew without a lick of uncertainty that my dreams and reality had been drastically changed. I didn't grasp the magnitude of how it would change for quite some time, and even then, my dreams were still somewhat intact. Sure they had changed, but I held onto how my life would be/should be moving forward with an iron first. I tightly grasped onto what I "deserved" and never planned on settling for anything less than a perfect life with a perfect man. After all I had been through, I believed that the stars would align and I would be blessed with my "picture perfect life". I expected that everything would pick up exactly where it had left off and the transition would be so smooth that there would be absolutely no evidence that there was ever any kind repair work done.

That's the hauntingly beautiful truth of hope, as Seth has talked about in another post here. It will build you up time and time again, and it will smack you down harder than you could have ever dreamed it would time and time again.

I hoped for and sought out perfection so much so, that the realistic parts of life were slowly fading away. I began to overlook the good things, the good people (more specifically men), and the goodness because I was so focused on what my life wasn't, and found myself wasting quality time dreaming about what it "should be". 
In a moment of pure frustration about how parts of my life weren't going as smoothly as I had hoped, a wise friend said to me as we were standing on an escalator in Macy's "Jacy, whatever it is you thought your "traditional family life" would be, I very seriously invite you to flush those ideas down the toilet and say goodbye. Never look back. Those days are over."  When she said those words, I remember my heart just sinking.

What do you mean flush my ideas of what life "should be" down the toilet? You mean, give into mediocrity? Or settle for something less than ideal?

I spent much time fighting against this seemingly negative advice about letting go of my "expected life" as best as I could until one day, I replayed her words, I dug in deep and I realized that hidden within them, there was a very wise, simple and not-so-hopeless truth just waiting to be dissected, discovered and explored.

And this lengthy introduction leads me to Tip #4 in our relationship series:

Tempering Unrealistic Expectations.

With the big things (like a flawless life and finding a perfect man) and the little, day-to-day, things, too.

This is something I had no idea how to successfully do without the help of my amazingly grounded husband, Seth. I have spent so much time stewing over what it should be, that I was missing what it actually was. Because of his wisdom on this topic, I asked Seth to briefly talk about why he believes tempering expectations is so crucial in a marriage, as well why this powerful insight has been so beneficial in our personal relationship.

****

Hey there, Seth here. I'm here to talk to you about expectations.

First, you have to understand what realistic expectations look like in your particular situation. Every one of us will have different scenarios.

Obvious and realistic expectations for Jacy and I consist of: honesty, loyalty, fidelity, and respect to name a few. These are the things we count on and "expect" from one another.

Some of the unrealistic expectations we've had to let go of consist of: regular snuggle sessions and back rubs, words of affirmation day in and day out, and hot homemade cooked meals every single night of the week. These are things that we both enjoy, but we understand that life is often very busy therefor, it might be a McDonalds sort of night without intimate romancing.

In my previous marriage, I was used to home cooked meals on the dinner table almost every night when I got home from work. My wife was an excellent cook and this was something I grew very accustomed to. After my divorce, because of what I knew in my previous marriage, I had this idea in my mind that my new wife would do exactly what my old wife did- spend much time in the kitchen creating gourmet food for me to enjoy. It was a bit of a culture shock when I found out that Jacy doesn't like to cook at all. Because of this, I had to readjust my expectations and remember that I was with an entirely new woman, with a whole new set of strengths and weaknesses.

The same thing goes for her on my behalf. Jacy was used to a lot of words of affirmation. She had grown very fond of being told all the reasons she was loved. She loves physical touch and displays of affection. This was how she felt secure in past relationships. As you can imagine, it was quite the challenge when she discovered that I was not the mushy kind of guy. I'm not a man of many words, instead I choose to display how I feel through my actions and consistency. To this day, we still have conversations (and Jacy has tears) about our differences in love languages. She is learning that she is with an entirely new man, one that is not comfortable with poems and PDA. In these conversations, we acknowledge and validate and then we work on meeting one another in places where we are both comfortable.

So here's what we are learning together about expectations-

Defining what realistic expectations are in your life, per your situation, is critical. Once you do this, tempering unrealistic expectations will allow for your partner's strengths to shine. And if you let the walls of life, love and relationships "according to you" down and observe how other's display their love for you, I think it's pretty hard to be disappointed. By always keeping the person you love at the top of your priority list, while keeping your own individual progression of how you can be a better human being on that same level of importance, it will provide a mutual understanding, respectful and fulfilling type of relationship.

In conclusion, aspects of your marriage might not be what you initially envisioned, but it can be better than that! The way I see it, living life being pleasantly surprised is much more enjoyable than being constantly disappointed.


PART 1 of this series- Trusting Yourself

PART 2 of this series- Communication Blueprint

PART 3 of this series- A "Healthy Addition"



Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving D.C. Trip

Hi guys! I've missed you! How was your Thanksgiving? Wonderful, I hope?!

My apologies for vanishing for a bit. We decided to take a big ol' break from technology and enjoy time with family in one of the most amazing cities in the world- Washington D.C. Even though I was frozen nearly the entire trip, we kept busy and squeezed in as much as we possibly could. Here are some pictures from a very memorable holiday ;)



We started our trip at a little cafe that served homemade pop tarts! Peanut butter bacon was delish and the sweet potato marshmallow was nothing short of delightful.






















Then we did all things history and soaked it up like a sponge (quite literally because we stood in the pouring rain for the White House tour :)























The Holocaust Memorial Museum was really tough to get through, but after 3 hours of reading as much as we possibly could, we sat in the lobby and just reflected for a bit. Words cannot express the somber and stillness of that place.


Thanksgiving Day was the highlight of the trip I think. Being surrounded by my new family is more wonderful than I can ever describe. MB, Bob, Rach, Huzz, and Jacky Boy (and Jimbo taking the picture) were the best sort of  company on such a significant holiday.

We also had the special treat of going into a Senator's office while we were there. Seth's cousin, Jimmy, is the Director of Communications for Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. We felt pretty darn cool as we got a glimpse of a more "behind the scenes" look at Washington. Above is a picture of me in the conference room. I nabbed me some free Good and Plenty's AND a cherry moon pie from the office. Yumm-o! And to make it that much more awesome, we had a private guided tour of the Capitol without the masses and we got to ride on the underground tram for people with special stickers :)






















We ate some of the best food in town, we experienced a lousy hamburger that tasted like fish at Mount Vernon's food court, we waited outside in a line for 40 minutes just to eat a Georgetown Cupcake, we saw a bunch of old Kennedy's at Arlington National Cemetery, we popped into a tour at Ford's theatre, we went to the Air and Space Museum for a few hours, and we strolled along the Potomac as the sun was setting.

And to top off a most incredible trip, we woke up early before our flight out of Baltimore and made the trek to Gettysburg with the crew. It was really really awesome! 

I'm forever grateful for all of my blessings, but this year I am especially grateful for my freedoms and for my new family. They are the best kind of people and I will always cherish my Thanksgiving spent in D.C. with them.

P.S. Our Relationship Part 4 is mañana :)


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