The Sweetwater Blog

There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.

                                                --Hannah Gadsby

Join Me

March 5, 2019

I was 45 when I had my first D-Day. My nest was half empty, but I still  had a nine-year-old and a sixteen-year-old living at home. I remember well those long days when I could barely get out of bed. I'd get my youngest off to school, get myself to my teaching job, and move through the hours in a post-traumatic haze. It was difficult to function at work, and even the most routine household tasks felt like skills I had to learn all over again. My life before discovery lay in shards around me, and I had never done anything in this new life I found myself in. Everything was a first: first time facing a class full of young adults, first trip to the grocery store, first goodnight kiss for my third-grader who had no idea that her mother had been changed forever.


This month, I turn 56, and I am so grateful to be alive and full of joy, grateful to have a peaceful home and a loving partner who wouldn't know how to gaslight if I lit the lamp for him. There was a time I didn't think I would make it, a time I did't want to make it, a time when I'd fall asleep praying I wouldn't wake up. I didn't want to live in a world where I could put my faith in someone for 20 years, raise children and build a life with him, share a bed and my plans for the future...and then find out he was an imposter, that he'd been playing me the whole time. 


The pain was indescribable. The story itself was impossible to tell back then. As my friend Diane Strickland used to say, Something happened to me, to which I would add, and I will never be okay. But I am okay, and so is Diane. In fact, she is one of my partners in this new adventure. We are thrilled to be able to offer you what we didn't have ten years ago: a safe place to commune with other women who are going through this fire. I mean really commune, not just sit in a circle for an hour, then go have coffee. 


We expect that the friendships you'll form will sustain you as you continue putting one foot in front of the other on the way back to wellness. And you'll have us,  a small corps of knowledgable veterans who want to help make sure you don't lose your sense of personal agency to someone else's recovery. We are ready. We've done our own work; we have found ourselves again and created lives we never thought possible when we were slogging through the swamp of that massive betrayal.  We are proof that you can get to the other side, and we want to help you get there too. 


We're offering these long weekends for resting and healing, and for gaining the skills and wisdom you need to move forward and find wholeness again. We have chosen beautiful locations and spaces, and we're attending to every detail to ensure that you feel valued and cared for.


Sweetwater Retreats have been a long time coming. Now we can't wait to meet you.


Tania Rochelle

Meet Susan Olsen

March 10, 2019

Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier. ~ Barbara Kingsolver, 


Nothing in my life has rivaled the pain of that night. Mercifully, my two young children were three states away at summer camp, oblivious to the storm brewing at home, when my world fell apart. In the dark, previously safe haven of my master bedroom, my then husband told me he was a sex addict. In an instant, my past, present and future were shattered. My world would never be the same. I would never be the same.


I spent that first year bouncing wildly between complete numbness in which I mechanically went through the motions, and a pain that enveloped me completely. The depth of my emotions surprised and scared me. I had never felt such boundless rage, hopeless depression, or paralyzing fear. My grief was all-encompassing, there to greet me first thing each morning, and there as I drifted into fitful, nightmare-ridden sleep each night. I struggled to function in a world I no longer trusted, all the while trying to manage my home, comfort my children, and resurrect a once loved career. Even those who loved me most began to distance from me as they couldn’t understand why I didn’t “move on” or “get over it."


Every time I thought I was getting my footing, another disclosure shook me, transporting me right back to the beginning of any healing. It took years, and finally appropriate trauma therapy, unavailable to spouses in 2004, to fully grasp and accept the truth of what he had done, though I long ago gave up trying to understand him. HIs problem is no longer my destiny. We divorced in 2010. HIs enormous betrayals, present throughout our entire marriage, no longer monopolize my daily thoughts; I am free.


Though my life is radically different than I’d dreamed or imagined, in many ways it’s even better, with a peace, gratitude, and hopefulness that I’d not known before. My children have grown into beautiful, honest, self-sufficient young women, in spite of their tumultuous childhoods. My story, once so chaotic and terrifying, has come full circle.


Meeting Tania turned into yet another sweet piece of my healing journey, as I now have the opportunity to share my story and hope with the precious women who are in the throes of their own storms. There is victory and wholeness on the other side if you’ll just keep going and take the hands of those who’ve gone before. It is my deepest hope that Sweetwater will help lighten your burden and shorten the course of your storm.


I have crawled in your shoes and come out the other side at peace. Join us, won’t you? Let us help you through the storm!


Susan