Father’s Day – Then. Now.

Father’s Day, 2014. Oh it was an excruciating time. The pain of discovering a lifetime of infidelity was still fresh, and we were only a couple weeks from having told our children (January, 2016:  Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.)

Daughter was gracious. Daughter was hurt. Daughter was conflicted. Daughter wrote this on her blog:

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Father’s Day, 2016. But today, TODAY daughter knows a father transformed. Or a father, as she puts it, who is free because he is living in the design of the Creator. Here is what our daughter wrote on our facebook today:

Two years ago, celebrating Father’s Day was hard. I had just found out that there was another side to the goofy, laid-back, gentle, and sweet father of mine. I had just learned that he made some terrible decisions that deeply altered our entire family. And I was learning what it meant to love (read: forgive) THAT dad, instead of the dad I thought I knew.

Well, two years later, I get to love the best father that I never knew I didn’t have. He’s the best dad by loving Jesus first–living in awe of His sacrifice and grace every day. He’s the best dad by loving my mom second–putting her needs above his own and always making sure she knows she is adored. He’s the best dad by loving his kids third–always there to make us laugh, be a calming force, and tell a good (bad) joke.

I am so proud of my dad. He is 100% a completely different man than the one I grew up with. All his wonderful personality traits are in tact (the reasons my mom fell in love with him!) but the way he loves his God, his wife, and his family are entirely new. My husband grew up without a father, and I am very glad that we both now have a powerful example of what a father should be. The thing is, my dad is far from perfect. He’s not even close. But what he did and what he does are two entirely different things. And what he does now is pour himself into his faith and his marriage. The result is a dad who both experiences grace and gives it out.

When he walked me down the aisle at my wedding, I was beaming with pride, because I knew that this was a man who understands the depth, weight, significance, sacrifice, and beauty of marriage. When he and my mom “gave me away” to Tim, they did so with endless prayer for our marriage, but also an intense knowledge of the covenant we were entering into.

When you’ve had to forgive your dad, you learn to love him in a new way. In a strange way, I am grateful for the mistakes that he made because they’ve allowed me to see my dad be totally enraptured by the mercy of God. And getting to love THAT dad is an indescribable gift.

I love you, Dad. Happy dad’s day.

 

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Going Back in Lies

I often contemplate how I married HUSBAND. How I chose a man who would begin cheating on me a mere two years after we married. A man who artfully hid his double life from me as it ebbed and flowed in and through his original life with me and I was not-so-blissfully unaware.

What was wrong with me that I couldn’t see it? That I didn’t know?

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My family valued honesty. I was told as a young girl that honesty was the premium value…that breaking a lamp while breaking rules would be not so good, but breaking a lamp while breaking rules and then LYING would be AWFUL. My parents were meticulous about keeping their word in so many ways: always paying bills on time, arriving at appointments, events or work early, and certainly never lying to us kids or each other.

And I believed that was the reality of my home, and my life. We were defined by our H O N E S T Y.

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Except it really wasn’t. We really weren’t.

I’m prefacing this by saying I have stellar parents who defied so many odds. They overcame myriad challenges individually and as a couple, and they were really fantastic parents using all they knew how to do and dealing with all they had to deal. But they were the offspring of their own parents and they of their parents and so on. I was raised by beautiful, hardworking, dedicated and loving parents who knew how to parent me as they had been parented, and to understand honesty as it had been defined for them and it ends up it wasn’t quite as black and white as I had been made to believe.

I began to have glimpses of the confusion between truth and sort-of-truth and not-so-much-truth and out-and-out-lies a couple days before our oldest son’s second birthday. My parents were headed up to spend a few days and celebrate with HUSBAND and me and 10 or so other little two-year-olds and I got an early morning phone call. Mom told me they wouldn’t be making the trip. My uncle, my dad’s brother, just 15 month’s his elder, had committed suicide and they had to go to be with his widow and children. The processing of that event left me overwhelmed…and I decided to go to a therapist to work through some of my confusion.

It was there, on his proverbial couch, that I found out that my fantastically honest parents might have lied to me – and I was only just seeing it – although I’d known it. See my dad’s side of the family was the bad side – included alcoholism and abandonment and now suicide. Mom’s side – the good side that did no wrong – until I began to recall the stories. The stories I knew that had been presented as rosy and pretty but when I shared them with the therapist I stopped myself part way: Wow…they are pretty screwed up too, huh? That side of the family included adultery and separate homes and an adopted child who never was told he was adopted although we all knew and were told to keep the secret (that wasn’t a lie) even when he asked us to our faces. So I wasn’t allowed to lie except when I was told to lie and it wasn’t a lie in that case.

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I was so confused.

I shared all this with HUSBAND who listened with his very young and distracted mind, nodding occasionally and thinking I was thinking too much. Thinking it was good I didn’t see lies since he’d already successfully completed his first marital affair and lied brilliantly and I was none the wiser. Of course I would not know about that lie of his for another 25 years…

Funny thing is because the surprise of discovering the inconsistencies within my own childhood I decided I would be hyper-honest with our children. I tried very carefully to tell them truth as best I could based on their maturity. But there is something about someone who grows up lying and that is they don’t see the lies. They don’t see how wrapped around truth they are, and how their (my) very default position is lying, justified in hundreds of ways…by sparing one’s feelings, or it not really being their business, etc. So even though I determined to not lie, I continued to lie, unbeknownst to me, but fairly consistently. Not about things that mattered, but instead about things like why my child couldn’t go spend the night with a friend (truth is I didn’t trust that friend’s judgement on movies and bedtimes and food choices, but I said we had another commitment). Things like why I was late to an appointment (truth is I was habitually a wee-bit late, but I said something happened with the dog or the kids or the car). Things like how glad I was that HUSBAND was able to __________________ (hunt…fish…play…leave me…. – fill in the blank – ) because it made me happy for him to be happy (truth is I was lonely and sad and felt like I had no value, but it wasn’t polite to say such things and they would get better, right?? RIGHT???)

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Yes…it is very hard for a person who has learned that the way to deal with pain or fear or shame or sorrow or sadness or regret or guilt or abandonment is to lie through it and pretend it wasn’t so to stop lying…mainly because I just could not see it. And that is how I married a man who could do this to me…

The real question is could I have married a man who was any different? A man who was honest? I don’t think so…

It was really tough to consider these possibilities. It was a new kind of pain and hurt, but it is the path that has led to me discovering I could be free from the bondage that engulfed me. And it was my path to take, or not. That’s where and when I thought I just couldn’t do it, and I saw Christ in the garden telling His Father…God…please, please take this cup from me. Yet even then, even when He didn’t want to, He still took the path. Despite all the odds, despite it making no sense at all, it led to healing. To freedom. So I took it too…

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Being New.

HUSBAND and I attend a unique support group. He with men, sex addicts, for a time and I with women, betrayeds. Then we come together as couples. It is a powerful time, and we leave bolstered in our me-ness and our us-ness and it is good.

During our time together last week, HUSBAND shared. He shared that it is closing in on two years of complete and utter truth for him, and truth between us – two years from the time the trickle-truth DDays ended and I had a clear understanding of who the man that had shared my head and my heart and my bed and my life really was. He shared that he had worked really hard to be the same in his words that he was in his actions. That he had put fences around his behavior and checks around his actions and accountability around his emotions.

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He shared that he had taken care to change even small behaviors…things like not exaggerating the amount he spent on something or what time he was leaving his office. That he has faced the emotional pain and fear and stories that were deep down in his soul and worked hard to quiet them. That he has committed to carefully speak his needs with honesty and to continue to be vulnerable in the roller coaster of my emotions and to continue to be sorry no matter what or why or who or how long.

And then he struggled to explain, but ended up sharing that it was incredible what was happening. That he realizes he has begun to believe he is this man, this new man. That he is beginning to realize that he is becoming honest and learning to live in truth – really – from a deep, core place of who he is. He shared that the freedom he has is incredible and the lure to move away from truth in his words, through his thoughts, by his actions is less tempting.

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HUSBAND looked at me, then. He shared that he could not believe what he had done. That as the man he said he was and the man he is becoming synthesize together he looks back in great shame and shock and disgust and sees now…he was “that man.” And he took my hand with tender tears in his eyes and shared with me…and with the other couples in the room…that he could not believe I had stayed by his side. He shared that he didn’t think he could…now that he was beginning to really, completely comprehend the magnitude of betrayal he had woven through our lives, he just didn’t know if he could be me if the roles were reversed.

It was a stunning moment, a moment of illumination, a moment of searing pain and remarkable agony somehow moving between the two of us and we were sharing the hurt together. And sharing the healing together. The new man and the new woman and the new marriage, together in an oddly wrapped and shaped package of precious love. A package clearly and utterly covered with the battle-wounds of our lives, and the blood of the One who showed us the path through the forest of pain so we could reach this place called freedom. This place, this tender and amazing place, called love.

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Broken-Open

So I took the 30-day alphabet challenge during the month of April, writing every day of the month except Sundays. I do not write ahead; rather each day I search for the direction of the moment and follow those thoughts and they result in my posts. Doing that for 26 days out of thirty took lots from my soul. HUSBAND asked me to take a respite after that and at first I scoffed thinking I did not need a break. Seems he knew me better than I knew myself – I needed it. I’ve missed you all and am glad to be back.

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And that brings me to here.

Today. June 1, 2016. A day that I can boldly say is better than June 1, 2015 or 2014 or 2013 or for all my married years prior to now.

How…why…can it be better to be the wife of a sex-addict, to know it? Wasn’t it better to live in the bliss of naiveté? To be unaware that HUSBAND found other women repeatedly throughout our marriage – whether real flesh and blood – or screen images that gave him things that only exist in fantasy?

No. No it wasn’t. It wasn’t for me.

Today is better than the last two years because I am two years out from finding out the awful reality of being a betrayed. Two years of living a progressively less violent emotional roller coaster. Two years of rolling memories around in my brain and reliving moments and trying to make sense of them and going through the cycles of grief again and again. Two years of learning to deal with triggers and a flood of pain that takes my breath away and mind invasions and questions with no answers and self-blame and hatred and overwhelming love. It is who I am now, indelibly stamped on my being and whether I remained married or left to have a different life this is me – me – forever and always.

Today is better than last year when I was a year out. 2015 was filled with anniversaries: One year from anonymous email and finding out HUSBAND was unhappy. One year from several weeks later and finding out HUSBAND was having an affair. One year from several weeks later and finding out HUSBAND’s affair wasn’t what he first revealed and included more time with his AP and more, well, more. One year from several weeks later and finding out there were more affairs. One year from several weeks later from finding out about family betrayal and friend betrayal. One year from several weeks later from finding out there was porn and masturbation and addiction. A year of one years, each one forcing me to take out that date and hold it in my hand and heart and try to decide if it was worth it. I could only look at that one moment, that one day, and step forward.

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And the year before…2014…such a looming wall of torment when I go back to those moments. Reading the anonymous email. Finding the letter of love and devotion from the current affair partner. The conversations and conversations and conversations and conversations with HUSBAND. The realization that pain inside could seep into every fiber of my being and wrack me with sobs that started in my heart and raced into every limb and digit and through every vein and capillary and occupied every cell and screamed and cried and begged for the hurt to stop. Oh the moments of not-wanting-to-die yet not-wanting-to-live or rather not-knowing-how-to-live or not-knowing-what-living-was and just not even being able to breathe. The shame. The guilt. The anger. The hurt. The abandonment. The confusion. The lies and the lies and the lies and the lies that I now knew had been my life.

The years before. They were good. I thought they were good. Or at least mostly. I thought that and yet now that they are good – really, really good – I can see they weren’t so good. I didn’t know about the women in HUSBAND’s life, true, but I always knew I wanted more with and in our relationship. I wanted to be cherished, to be considered deeply from a heart place. I wanted to share dreams and be able to be sad together when they didn’t happen without worrying it would make HUSBAND feel bad or like a failure. I wanted to be able to dream more and again and different without worrying it would make HUSBAND feel like I could never make up my mind. I wanted to be able to touch and be touched in public and private and to exchange glances that spoke volumes across a room and have private jokes that weren’t laced with sarcasm and know that above all else, I could count on being adored and protected.

Sometimes I pretended I had that throughout my marriage. But I didn’t.

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Up until the time the true nature of my marriage was revealed, I counted my words. I timed my conversations and wrapped that in the lingo of various women’s magazines and self-help journals and even religious teachings about wisdom and being gentle-tongued and a Proverbs 31 wife. I wanted so badly to have a deeply allied and intimate relationship that really was one flesh in every sense of the word and I acted like that was what we had and told myself that was what we had. But it wasn’t true.

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That is why June 1, 2016 is so incredibly different. So incredibly good. Because now, it is so incredibly real.

No walls. No masks. No space between our one flesh.

My addict HUSBAND became broken open through the revelations. My addict HUSBAND has committed all the fiber of his being to recovery and loving himself and loving me. I became broken open through agony, and that pain has poured out all the layers and layers and layers of pretensions and excuses and craziness and self-lies. No layers now between us. No secrets and hidden things and carefully (manipulated) thought-out words to try to get the other to respond the way we want them to. All those things that I wanted and had convinced myself only exist in chick-flicks live in my house now. They live in my words and my relationship and my bed. I. Am. Loved.

June 1, 2016. Two people, broken-open and meshed together into one. Battle-scarred, far-from-perfect but oh, so beautiful.

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