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Melisa Keenan, Megan Swan
Welcome back to Energetically You I'm your host, Megan Swan Wellness coach and consultant and the founder of Megan Swan Wellness and the Sustainable Integrated Wellness approach. Today we are speaking with Melissa Kenan, she is a keynote speaker, a international and us a today best selling author. And she is the go to intuitive intimacy expert for the top 1%. She helps high achieving business owners have more confidence, connection, ease and trust in their personal relationships through mastery of intimacy and the feminine masculine energy dynamics. More than just a four year coach or a certified master of the Gibson banding method, we'll have to dig into that and find out what it is. Melissa is a true expert on Healing Broken and strained relationships starting with her own. Having overcome separation from her husband and the hurt of betrayal and ultimately rebuilt and repaired her marriage. Melissa now has supported women men and couples to feel seen, heard, cherished, appreciated and fully self expressed in their relationships while expanding their business. While she is not in the middle of everyone's private lives, you will find her dancing, singing, working and praying at her hobby ranch in Northern Nevada, where she lives with her husband, CJ and their four children. All so interesting. I can't wait to get to know her better. So let's dive in. Welcome, Melissa. I'm so excited for this conversation. I feel like we have a lot of a lot in common. And I have a feeling even maybe more we're gonna find out in this conversation. But just based on our interests, and both being mothers and yeah, all the things. So are you a little bit warmer now? Did you find something cozy put on? How are you?
I'm good. I've been in my office already for a couple of hours. And so I was Yeah, needing some warm.
Where are you located?
I live in Reno, Nevada, which most people associate Vegas and it's nothing like Vegas, we are full of snow. I think it's 20 something out right now. 20 degrees Fahrenheit. So
it's chilly. It's fresh. Yes. Amazing. Well, I'm so curious, let's dive into your history as a coach. And you know, often I think it starts with our own journey. So for you kind of what was the catalyst that brought you into this sphere?
Yeah. I didn't know that coaching was even a thing. But my life brought me through certain certain circumstances that that coming out on the other side of and having felt like that was completely impossible. And how did that happen? I knew when I had the peace and the joy from coming out the other side, I knew I had to help other women. And so so that's kind of, you know, why I decided to get into this to go into now the some of the particulars of of what I went through, I grew up. Well, really, I feel like it starts with my ancestry. Like there has been trauma and abuse and addiction and betrayal, sexual misconduct, for as far back as the stories exist, and both sides of my family line. And I I mean, I was raised constantly being told things like, you know, avoid alcohol, you have addiction, literally, in your DNA, avoid anything that could be seeming, you know, like it could create an addiction, etc. But no one was talking to me about the sexual addiction that existed in my family lineage. And it goes deep. You know, How deep can we go today? Megan?
I'm open to deep. I mean, there's really no conversation I'm not willing to have so my first reaction is like, you've just come to this deeper lens and understanding due to your own work or because the things that you're touching on like, I'm not sure I would even have that context of my grandparents or my great grandparents like those weren't conversations ones that were had.
Right? Yeah. Yeah, it's required some digging, for sure. Because everybody's so tight lipped about what really goes on. But ultimately, you know, when you have when you have family members who have done such grievous things that have caused such big consequences, and so many ripples in the water, then it can't be hidden. So, you know, I have an uncle who committed suicide when his daughters were his adult daughters were on their way to have him arrested for how he treated them in their upbringing. My, my mother was sexually abused by her father for the first 14 years of her life. My grandpa on my dad's side, cheated on his wife for about six years while she was dying, and brought his mistress into the home to care for my grandmother while she died. And then when my mom got very sick, my dad basically did the same thing, left her cheated on her. And that's my, that's my upbringing. That's my people. Those are my people, lots of pain and heartache. And so growing up, it was like, it's a friggin scary world out there. And I learned to stand strong and masculine energy on the outside, I was girly, girly, but on the inside, I was like, Don't mess with me. And I'm going to be a career woman and I have a focused plan and I don't, not gonna let my heart out. And And thankfully, like, God really worked on me and opened me up to take some risks to to have love in my life to have a family. I mean, I sit here now married. We're about to have our 15 year wedding anniversary. And I have four kids. So clearly, I've made some changes. But
I layer kids, what's the range?
Yeah. 13 to six? Huh? Yeah,
congratulations. 15 years? Yes. It's not a common thing anymore these days. Yeah.
So so, you know, I, I actually joined a church when I was 18. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and family is a huge component of the faith. And it really had me question some of my resolve around not having a family around, you know, all these things. And, and I started to feel like my heart was changing. And so I got married very young, thinking that there was all this insurance in my marriage, because he was also a member of the church, we got married in the temple, which is like the highest honor in our church. And, and in our faith, we believe your seal together for time and all eternity, which is so beautiful, like, we believe families are eternal. And it's just the most beautiful, like, I was like, Oh my gosh, like, I can bring so much healing to my family line. And I can bring so much healing to this family. It's that we didn't, we didn't know how to do these things, I could do it differently. So I came into my family with all of that, and my faith is beautiful. I love I love the faith I belong to, but I also brought in all these extra pressures on myself, right? Like basically, it was like, Okay, you're gonna do it, and you better do it perfect. So hard. And so how
you can impress her on a relationship?
Exactly. I was extremely micromanaging and controlling in my, in my marriage, and just terrified survival mode, you know, terrified of the inevitable what could happen, like, so bad I could go on about that. I mean, I used to bring up the topic of divorce all the time, just so that we can talk about it so we can avoid it. Oh my god, I have so much compassion on my 27 year old self who was just so scared. And so you can imagine that the horror and chocolate I felt when I found out that my husband had a secret sex addiction. He was addicted to pornography, and he was pretty sure he had been addicted since he was nine. Talking about this is not something I take lightly. It's something we've discussed a lot. And he's always said if you feel like it will help people like share. Absolutely. He's an incredible man, and has worked through all of that. But when that hit and when I found out that for five years in my marriage, there was a secret addiction that I didn't even know about that was just like everything from my end. test three, it was my breaking point. It was like, How could? How could God asked me to go through this? So it was hard. We separated for six months, it took us about three and a half years total of work to decide if this marriage was going to last or not. And
probably, did you already have kids at that point?
Yeah, we did. When I asked him to move out, our third had just been born, she was two months old. So it was so painful, like, I had a four year old material and an infant, all of them in diapers still in some capacity. And when I asked him to move out, I didn't know the extent of his addiction. And, and a lot of people may not know this about like pornography addiction is kind of like a seed addiction in the sense that, you know, it could lead to deeper addictions, you know, potential, all kinds of horrible things. So I really didn't know if asking him to move out, I was just giving him permission to go move in with the girlfriend or to, you know, go live some crazy lifestyle as another person that I didn't even know. But I knew things couldn't continue the way that they had. It was so hard to look at him and realize that he had been doing things had been, in some ways a different person than I thought. But it was also equally challenging, like just as equally painful to look at the ways in the marriage, I had contributed to both of our misery. Like, yes, he had this addiction. And I also had all this trauma that I hadn't resolved. So yeah, we built back from that. And I would say, it was probably about two and a half years after he moved back in, of trying to come back together. Having peace for a while then feeling like there's a car crash having to go back to our own lane and work on ourselves again, and I trying to, you know, doing that over and over, until it finally felt like it's stuck. And I can remember sitting in my, in my bedroom, actually, nothing extraordinary was happening. I was just sitting on the bed. And I was looking around at my home and my kids. And I think my husband was getting ready for work in the morning. And I just was like, Oh my gosh, we've done it. Like I am so blissfully connected to this man. And I'm so happy with who I am as a person. We did it. And other women need to know, you know, we did this. And, you know, I had surrounded myself with women who had gone through things I had gone through. So we were all like convinced we had been sold a fairy tale. And we were angry about it, you know, and it was like, it's not a fairy tale. It's just different than what we thought. It's so much more real than we could have ever imagined, you know. And that's when I kind of realized it was intimacy. It was that true connection, that I had been missing my whole life by being too focused on survival. I couldn't I couldn't connect. I didn't know how to really, truly be intimate or connecting with someone until going through this process with my
husband. Yeah, and I don't know what you think about this. But I think our the way the fairy tale, whether it be in the religious context, or outside of that, you know, the Disney version, even is sold to us. It also keeps you on this sort of superficial plane and not looking for those deeper ways to connect with people are probably not giving us the tools, right?
Absolutely. I mean, I've had women say this to me before, they will say to me, I don't want to know those things about my husband, meaning, it's scary for us to know our husband's weaknesses, to know even his failings to know certainly to know his past or decisions that he made that he regrets. Like, as much as he carry shame about those things. Oftentimes, it's the women who are perpetuating like, I don't want to know, because that destroys my fairy tale. But what we don't realize is the fairy tale. We can feel the fakeness of it. We can feel constantly this longing for like I want something more. I want to be so cherished. I want to be seen and known. And these deep innermost parts of me and we don't know how to access it. It's actually by knowing all the things like really coming for Word and that requires that we do that with ourselves to. Yes, it's scary.
I call it shadow work. I don't know what terms you use. But I do want to delve into your, your definition and your work, and specifically around intimacy and rebuilding. But can we go back a little bit here? Because I mean, I can deeply resonate with your experience. You know, in my case, it wasn't pornography. But there were like, major breaches in trust and betrayal at the beginning of my now 12 year relationship. And the I feel like we, shockingly do so many things in our lives based on just what society has planted in us, like, we're more concerned, like, what is someone else going to think that I'm deciding to forgive this behavior? Versus like, how do I actually feel about it? But also, how did you rebuild the trust, because I think, like, in my case, that was the hardest thing to because you've Okay, you've made the decision, you want to forgive on some level, obviously, you never forget. But it's like, for me, it was a daily practice of reframing. But it was a lot of things. And I think, at the end of the day, for me, now, it's just being so grateful for having a partner, like we're on a spiritual journey together. And it's so to me, what I value is having a partner that knows all of my darkest, deepest secrets, and I know his, and also that only wants, you know, growth and expansion and, you know, wants me to develop as an individual as much as he's doing the same for himself. Yeah, I guess I would just completely redefine, like, what an ideal partnership is, compared to how I was raised?
Absolutely. I love this conversation so much, and that you have the depth of understanding around this. Because so often people want to know about this, and then they don't really get it. And you get it. And I love that, I think that will provide a lot of value for the listeners as well. Because it really is completely different than what we what we're told what society tells us. And I think that piece around, making a lot of our decisions, or worrying about what society will say, or what people around us will say, like, it goes so much deeper than, you know, we might say I'm not the kind of person that worries about what other people say. But inherent in our conditioning is the reality that everything we were taught is based on, you know, beliefs held in society, and may or may not be based on truth. And so I did remember. And, you know, when I was going through so much of this, we weren't telling a lot of people I didn't want, I didn't know how to navigate it. My husband and I couldn't even really talk about finances or raising our kids, let alone talk about, you know, can I share this with people I shared it very, in very, you know, trusted strategically. Exactly. And I was out this workout group with a bunch of women, we might get together in the mornings and do these workout videos and stuff, you know, as a big group, maybe 10 or 15 women and, and somebody's sister had just discovered her husband's adultery. And all the women were, you know, oh my gosh, right. And Sister is not there. So everyone can just talk openly about what's happening. And I'm like, dying inside. Like, where's this conversation gonna go? And you know, everybody is like, oh, there is no way I would not stay there is no way bla bla bla bla bla, right, like seeing all these judgments and stuff, and I couldn't do it anymore. And I just said, You know what, you guys, you might say that, but you honestly don't know how you would respond until you're in this situation. You don't know. And really, that I don't need a man, no one will cross me. attitude that we carry comes from being raised in a feminist culture, where likely our ancestors and a lot of the women we know are wrong by men. You know, we were we were raised in this patriarchal society where we're taking our voice back. And so it like completely negates any gray area or room for human behavior, right? Human error. It's not that cut and dry and simple and that haunted me Not so much like I, you know, like, am I not being the strong woman that I'm supposed to be by staying in this marriage and trying to make this work?
Yeah, that's a huge part of it. But I think I mean, you also need to, I mean, it's real, that we are social beings. So there is like a deep psychological fear of not being accepted by the group by not doing what we've been told, you know, the group dictates. And, yeah, I don't think there's a lot of I mean, I do see more and more women openly speaking about, you know, deciding to, to make it work and to forgive and to stay for whatever the betrayal was, right? Yeah, there's a massive range. But yeah, it's more like, figuring out what you what you want, and then finding the space? Or I mean, maybe it's just about giving them another chance. And like, do you need to give them another chance till the end of time? No. Right. Yeah.
And I think then that kind of, you know, naturally feeds into your other point around trust. I, I realized that I didn't know how to trust at all, actually, I had never extended trust to my husband, you would think that by marrying someone, that meant you were putting a lot of trust in that person. But it was, I didn't know how to actually trust, I didn't have trust in anything. Which is why I showed up with so much fear and scarcity and overcompensated with my masculine energy to try to control my environment. To try and you know, control the outcomes that I experienced in my life, I didn't know how to trust. I mean, and it makes a lot of sense, right? Like I can, I can like place my hand on my heart and look at my inner child and my young woman, you know, in a young woman, and be like, of course, you didn't wait, look at the examples you had. Look at all the relationship with men that have existed in your upbringing. Of course, you didn't know how. And so to build back trust is such an interesting conversation, I feel like it has more to do with me learning to trust in the universe, or the divine and in myself, honestly, more than anything else. Because always inherent in a marriage is the vulnerability and risk that the other person has to choose you every day, just like you have to choose them every day. And that could change at any time. Like, it could certainly now where we're at and where he's at, in his recovery and all of that, like, I don't sit around worrying if he's going to cheat on me or worrying if he's going to go run to his addiction or these kinds of things anymore. Because I've seen over and over there's a predictable, like, predictability to his his recovery and his behavior now. And, you know, the closeness and connection that we feel like there's a trust in that too. And more than anything, there's a trust in me that like, I know myself, I know where I'm going, I know I can trust myself, I can rely on myself. And then there's a trusting God that everything is happening. according to plan, nothing in my journey. And that has come to you know, that has come from hours and hours and years of of searching, right to know actually that everything that has happened in my life was not a miss or a ride. And that's hard. Like I used to hear people say that and I used to think like, yeah, maybe except for this. Yeah, maybe except for this thing with my husband is he definitely threw a wrench in my plans, right? I used to I used to honestly say, I'll be grateful for every trial that happens in my life except this one. But the reality is like, we can't we can't actually screw up the great design for our life. We're not actually that powerful. And that's a relief. And so everything that happens happens, according to plan and the universe is conspiring for my good always. It's just sometimes looks way different than we thought right? As I look back on what my husband and I experience and I've told him this before and it's actually become like an anchor for us when other challenges arise is that we both knew our life and our marriage was is not where we wanted it to be. It was not as close and connected as we wanted. It didn't feel as pure of heart, as we really both knew was possible. Like we both have tremendous faith and really good intentions. And we wanted those things that we didn't know how to get them. And what I thought was the worst thing that ever happened to us actually ended up being like the forest fire that came through and cleared the land so that we could start building on brand new soil. And that's exactly what we had to do. It was so perfect. So seeing all of that, and really seeking to like do the work to come to those answers and get that understanding that that can't come from our tangible like it has to come from going within from that feminine space within getting those answers has has made all the difference in me being able to really trust in general, as a principle, like embodied trust.
Yeah, for me, it really forced me to because previous to this relationship, I had like a three hour or three hour, three year like expiry date on most of my relationships or less, right? Like I anytime anything got remotely complicated. It was like, Okay, bye. For me, it was trusting this internal instinct that although I had all of this information that by society's standards mean I do XYZ, but I'm like something and he doesn't want to do that. I want to stay here and figure out like, Why do I not want to immediately follow the prescription path, this happened, you do this. And it can make me confront the reality. Like I had to learn how to forgive first, myself, I'd never forgiven myself for anything up until that point in my life. And yet, I'd been in multiple situations where I'd done something, that someone else had to be the bigger person and decide whether they're going to forgive me, and they weren't either tried and weren't capable, or didn't even try. And so just being on the flip side of, of that narrative, and knowing ultimately, I'm not gonna be able to connect deeply with anyone, unless I bridge this gap internally. And then, yeah, so let's talk intimacy toolbox. What are some ways that you know, maybe people aren't necessarily trying to bridge like, such a massive, you know, betrayal gap, or, you know, really a massive thing around trust, but, I mean, I could just speak more. So, from my experience as a woman, like, any kind of like, my, well, I think intimacy, but like, really, like sexual connection with my partner is so emotional, you know, so like any little thing is off on the emotional side of our relationship. For me, there's like a kind of break in my, in my interest. Really curious. So what are some of your sort of favorite tools to help couples come back from, you know, big or small sort of disconnect?
It helped us a lot to have some framework around. Connection. And it's difficult because in the betrayal, recovery space, there's a lot of talk about codependency, which is valid, there's a lot to be gained from that. But then there also comes a point where the conversation around independence and interdependence ends up just feeling like just live separate lives. And so navigating that was really challenging for us. It was what we had to do many times, as I referred to before, was was really go back to our own lane, and kind of leave each other alone for some time. And so I think it's important to say that because if there has been a huge betrayal like that, that actually was a huge trust builder. That was a huge message about the commitment level in our partnership, that it was like, I can't really meet your needs right now. You can't really meet my needs right now. But I'm still willing to stay and work on this relationship. And this is funny, but we we have a dispute about how long this actually lasted. I think we didn't have sex for a year. He says maybe it was six months, you would think we would know this for sure. But it was very strategic. There was a period of time where we I couldn't I just couldn't like I couldn't reconcile all the parts of him that I had seen, and the ways that he had hurt me anytime I tried to engage in sex I Just I would just come unglued, I would just either it was like rage, or it was pain, or I was sobbing, or I was just so full of self doubt and like, what's wrong with me like, it was just a wall over and over. And my relationship with my own turned on and not like, not being as easy into being turned on and being ready and open and willing for sex, you know, didn't start there. It started before then certainly when we felt like there wasn't like, the kind of quality of connection that we wanted in the relationship like that. That was my biggest indicator was like something is off. Because in the beginning, I really wanted you and now things feel different. I can't figure out what it is. I mostly just blamed myself and you know, learned, learn better on that now and help women to you know, kind of find empowerment, like, your lack of desire is calling you towards something like, let's get curious about it. So, anyway, we did though, in our trying to build back together, we went either six months or a year without having sex and, and Bill intimacy and other ways. At the time, we didn't call it intimacy, what we did was we sat down and determined, what is the what is the primary thing we're wanting to experience or value, if you will, that were wanting to experience by sex, my husband was like, This is what I want with you all the time. And I was like, oh, I want connection with you. But I don't want sex, I can't get there yet. And so we determined connection was really what we both wanted. And once we got to that value, this was all through lots of stumbling. Now I have clear words around it, because I guide people through this all the time. But once we got to that value, we were able to then come up with strategies that created connection that maybe didn't include sex. So a lot of the time you know it, would it the conversation of initiation would instead sound like hey, I really want to connect with you. I knew that meant he wanted sex. And I had to evaluate, am I there for that or not? And usually I would say, Okay, I'm open to connecting, but not that way. How else can we connect, we played chess with four kids, like, our kids would go to bed and we would sit down and play chess, which does not sound nearly as exciting as sad because and I can promise you it was not. Um, it was really sweet. Actually, we played on my late father's chipped up chess set that he had made for an old girlfriend and it was out of porcelain or not probably clay figures and everything was all chipped up. And we would pull out this very broken chipped up chest set, which felt so symbolic of our very broken chipped up marriage. And we would and even the board itself, this wooden board, one of the sides like falling off, we just put it on, plates us together. And it it healed so much, because it was just one little thing layer upon layer of like, Hey, we're in this together, hey, I'm in this for the long haul with you, hey, no matter how long I have to wait, like, and, and I didn't take that for granted, you know, I wasn't just like, Okay, fine, then because I never want to have sex again. And I talked to a lot of women who are in that space, I get that. But I saw how much he was trying it made me want to heal my own relationship with sex and, and heal our relationships. So I could get to a point where we where we could be more intimate. And, and so I share a lot of story in this because it's like tools, right? Like I don't, I don't act like a typical expert in the sense that when someone comes to me, we're going to listen to their personal circumstances, and we're going to identify what the next best tool is for them. And each person needs something different. And then each partnership is like a soul of its own. It needs something different. And I'm not really here to tell people what to do, I can give suggestions and then guide them to their inner wisdom. And so if I were to offer one tool, above all else that would be go within, create into me see with yourself which means your intuition understanding your feelings and your desires and understanding what all of that is guiding you towards in terms of what you deeply value and what you need in a relationship. So that then You can confidently go forward and say, I think this might be what we need. And use that, you know, certainly I help people with tools around communication and stuff like that. But when it comes to restoring intimacy, we have to figure out, okay, like, where are you? And then what's that next tiny step you're willing to take. Because there's a reason why we're all not intimately connected relationships, we're all terrified, and we've been hurt, and our parents have been hurt and our ancestry has, you know, proven to us that intimacy is scary and a place of risk.
Love that though I love that sort of first, going within finding that personal intimacy, but then also getting to a place that you can have a shared understanding of like, what what are the values that we're seeking in this intimacy in this sexual relationship and connecting in that way, and just shifting, like, into connection instead of, you know, some sort of other objective that we usually associate with sex with that, I think that can just take like a lot of pressure off, and therefore allows that space to cultivate again into something really sweet.
I see people needing this more than we would realize, like, it's not just when you have experienced giant betrayal. For instance, I have a client right now who had kind of just some tricky things that happened, her dad had some weird things that happened when she was a young girl. And it meant that he went to some sort of Recovery Center for a year when she was a young girl. And so for her being able to draw that connection and go, Oh, wow, I've carried trauma around trusting the masculine trusting men. And that has translated into sexual trauma. And now I, you know, approach my husband this way, because of how we approached my dad, in the her dad was a stellar father and, you know, affected her life when she was just a baby, and stuff. And yet, like, it really has affected how she shows up in her relationship. So I share that to say, then imagine if you do have some things that we might consider as more like massive traumas, I'll have women come to me and say, Yeah, you know, I was raped, but I'm sure that's not affecting what I'm experiencing in my current relationship. And it's like, I'm sure it is. done the work, until you've brought these pieces forward. As painful as that is. And as scary as that is, it is vital to the health of your current life in general and hold your current relationship. And I'm happy to say now, we have lots of other values that we go after, when it comes to sex, like, this process is a healing process that can launch you into sky's the limit, you know, I'm we are about adventure, and we're about spirituality and sex. And we're like, we've just blossom so much. And I can say that there are even times I want it. And he doesn't, we never thought that would be the case like so full circle. So much healing available.
Well, amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your your personal experience and your wisdom. What's the best way for people to connect with you if they're feeling called to work with you?
Yeah, Megan, thank you so much for holding such a deep space, this conversation is powerful, and not many people are willing to go this deep. So I think you and I'm sure your listeners thank you to my, I have a free intimacy guide that I would love for people to come and check out it's a great place to start in terms of doing that into me see with yourself, and brings you through the process I just described with feelings of values, and then it helps you create a statement that is like more an expression of what's really going on that you can then choose to share with someone if you want. And so I highly recommend go check that out. Of course that will bring you into my email community so you can get a sense of what else is going on in our space. But also we've got a Facebook group that I'm running and I run a 10 month long mastermind hybrid one on one experience with women so that you're also surrounded by other women who are going through a similar journey with healing and restoring intimacy and finding harmony and masculine and feminine energy and that sort of thing. And So, I'd love to connect with anyone who this stuff resonates with.
Beautiful, lots of options. I love it. We'll share all that in the share show notes. And yeah, I feel like we're gonna be in touch Melissa. Thank you. Thank you
Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you greatly. And if you are appreciating the show and you wish to support us in a small way, you can do that by rating us on Apple iTunes, you could share one of your favorite episodes with a good friend who you think would enjoy it. And you can subscribe to the show. All those things help us to get more eyes on the podcast. So if you want to connect with me, you can find me on all platforms at Megan Swan wellness, you can check out the website Megan swan wellness.com I hang out mostly on Instagram and LinkedIn. So please drop me a message and tell me what was your major takeaway from the show? Have a beautiful week wherever you are in the world sending my love