Soon after I discovered my ex-husband’s affair, I began facing the pain of the betrayal intentionally. I called that process “Reclaiming.” Here’s my definition:
Reclaiming (v): Identifying a fearful, painful internal reaction to a place or a thing that holds a once happy memory, choosing to face it head-on and create a new, positive association.
This type of “exposure therapy” did not come from something I read or advice I received. It was born out of my intentional desire to face the sometimes debilitating pain and fear I experienced on a daily basis. Reclaiming has been my purposeful strategy for moving from immobilizing sorrow into a new and beautiful life.
Identify the pain
Example: after I was separated from my ex-husband, I would drive past our restaurant and overwhelming sadness would flood me.
“I can never go back there again.”
I soon recognized dozens of places that held memories of wonderful experiences. Places that had now become off limits because of my fear – fear of facing my pain, my past, and even my ex-husband. What if I run into him at our restaurant, or that city park where we used to walk, or the theater where we saw that movie…?
Fear steals. Yes, fear has its place. It’s designed to keep us alive and safe, but I began to notice a pattern of fear dictating my decisions. My entire life had fallen apart through a situation that was out of my control. Although I may not have control over experiencing fear, I can control my response to the fear.
Fight or flight?
When facing fear, I chose to FIGHT! I just needed a practical way to do that. So, my Reclaiming project was born. I called together a few friends and family members and I walked into our restaurant.
- To face the pain of my past.
- To create a new association.
We sat in our booth. I talked about our memories and I acknowledged the pain with people I trust. And we had fun in the process. We laughed, cried, told stories and prayed. By the time the check arrived, I could look around the place and honestly say, “This place is Reclaimed!”
New memories have baptized the old memories. Now, I drive past my Reclaimed restaurant and remember the time I faced my fear with people who love me and supported me in my deepest heartbreak.
In 2017, I organized nearly 100 Reclaiming events which included restaurants, music venues, park benches, food, and so much more. In this blog, you will hear me recount many of those stories and the invaluable lessons I learned about God’s redemption.
If you’re reading this thinking, “I have a few things to Reclaim,” share your thoughts in the comments. We’re in this together!