Redemption in Telling

Recently, the great wordpress blogger, @crazykat, posted this about sharing her story. It was a really great post, and one that I found resonated in many ways for me. It got me to reflect on my attitude, on our attitude of revealing our story…so here it is.

I kept things very secret for a bit, but HUSBAND and I have a small, close circle (4 couples) of friends with whom we have traveled some other challenges. One by one, I met with the wives and shared our story…my story. HUSBAND met with the husbands and shared our story…his story. I blogged about telling our children (difficult, but ultimately amazing) and his parents (awful and ultimately a mistake).

Then, when the Ashley Madison hack occurred, a local tv station decided to make a story and called (our therapist) to see if there was a couple who would agree to a confidential (voices changed, faces not shown) interview. He asked us, and we did it. Interestingly, as it was airing on the news that night, one of my friends texted me that she was proud of us (so much for anonymity). Of course, this was one of that small circle of friends who knew, so I still felt protected.

A few months later, at a small retreat, HUSBAND told a very abbreviated, cryptic story (just said he’d done “everything to trash our marriage” but we were experiencing great healing) but it started a tumbling down of transparency amongst a few people at the retreat. That led to our church asking if we would consider making a video. We did. The morning it aired, to kick off a series on being “Strong and Courageous,” I felt anything but. Yet the individual people, and couples, that began to reach out and share their pain with us made me certain we had done the right thing.

That led to a local tv station asking if we would do a more in-depth story/interview about sexual infidelity and the possibility of overcoming the pain. We did. It was for a daytime (11:00am) very-low-viewer talk show, and we felt fairly safe watching it, knowing few people would see it. Until about 4 that afternoon when a friend posted a link of it to our facebook talking about our bravery. By the time I saw it, numerous people had liked the link (or I would have removed it). HUSBAND and I decided that it was meant to be, and more people poured out their hearts to us about their lonely marriages, their quiet desperation and sometimes, their own sexual infidelity.

At every juncture, we have encountered other brokenness…individual sex addicts who didn’t have a name for it, didn’t know there was help. Spouses who have been devastated by infidelity in all forms and either stay in silence punishing themselves (because it had to be their fault, right?) or leaving the marriage with their gaping open, bloody wounds and no healing. Couples who were white-knuckling each day but living in misery, thinking they were alone in the situation. We have discovered the problem of shitty marriage with or without infidelity is so widespread, so vast and we are incredibly overwhelmed, but desperately want to shine light on the darkness of this reality. The darkness that marriage is mediocre at best, toxic at worst, and often leads to cheating. We meet with couples almost every day, coach couples through an intensive weekend monthly and follow up with group meetings weekly.

There have been casualties of our openness: We have “friends” who have smiled, nodded and walked away…not wanting to “catch” what we had. I get it, I probably used to be that person although I would have denied it. We definitely have family that wants us to be quiet, that have clearly shunned us, but they were unhealthy relationships anyway, so for us there is no real loss other than what we always pretended family to be. But mostly what we have found is an ever-increasing number of hurting, desperate people who need to know they are not alone. Who need to know there is help. Who need to know there is not a path that is predetermined and that they must take. Who need to know they are cared for, and loved. So much pain, who knew?

For me, there is redemption in sharing our story. There is sharing the redemption that IS our story, obviously. But now, there is the deep awareness I have of the widespread sadness amongst married couples. It is more the norm than actual satisfaction whether there are affairs or not. The impact this has…that our children then grow up with deeply imbedded (where they cannot even identify it) pictures of marriage that is less than satisfying – countered by literal fairy-tales on the big and little screen that can’t be replicated and lead to even more confusion for all parties. This is the legacy we are leaving our kiddos when we live in mediocrity, when we live together and “stay married” but really, have no intimacy or connection or love. Seeing this, and speaking/living/walking into it…this is redemptive.

It is redemptive to walk alongside broken marriages and provide hope, encouragement and skills to increase their ability to reveal, to be safe, to love. To watch them heal, or make a healthy choice to part but with more care and dignity and kindness. Now, HUSBAND and I see that sharing our story is an incredible privilege, and one of the sweetest outcomes is that evil did not win. Instead, love wins.

 

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14 thoughts on “Redemption in Telling

  1. “But now, there is the deep awareness I have of the widespread sadness amongst married couples.” Amen and yes to that, as well as the hope you provide in this post: “Now, HUSBAND and I see that sharing our story is an incredible privilege, and one of the sweetest outcomes is that evil did not win. Instead, love wins.”
    Thank you, once again, for your transparency and the gift of hope. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “But now, there is the deep awareness I have of the widespread sadness amongst married couples.” Amen and yes to that, as well as the hope you provide in this post: “Now, HUSBAND and I see that sharing our story is an incredible privilege, and one of the sweetest outcomes is that evil did not win. Instead, love wins.”
    Thank you, once again, for your transparency and the gift of hope. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very few people, in relative terms, know about the affair. Everyone where my husband works knows, and only my closest friends and family. I have to admit that it drives me a little insane that my husband gets praised all the time for being such a great man and husband and father. He is all of those things…..but the fact that people don’t know about the gap in his life where he wasn’t those things sometimes makes me want to tell everybody.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen! One of the things I struggle with is outing myself and our situation on FB. Most of my actual friends know what’s going on. All of my close friends do. So it’s not like I’ve been shy about sharing. Now that we’ve moved yet again and CF did not make the move with us I’m wondering how long I will be able to post things like the kids’ first day of school or maybe even things I’m doing before people begin asking questions. Then again I haven’t even officially filed for divorce because our one year is not up yet.

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    1. That’s a tough one. What a crappy place to be. FB definitely adds a new dimension to all this stuff. But you have your life, and you should live it the way you want. The questions will come, and you can choose how to handle it. I’m not sure what I’d do – possibly private PMs to people as questions come, possibly a simple, dignified, graceful post (not sure what…maybe “As life so often does, mine has taken some twists and turns and the kids and I have moved back to start anew here in…” I don’t know. What do you think???? HUGS!

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      1. So far when those who don’t know ask me something, usually, “Where’s CF?” I end up PM’ing them and explaining the situation.

        I have a friend who went through almost the exact same thing- long distance move, OW. She ended up moving back to the state they moved from. She made a very nice, if not shocking, announcement on FB, basically saying that after months of trying to reconcile they were making the decision to divorce and she and the kids were moving back. She said nothing about his EA. I learned about that later through private messaging.

        I guess I’ll wait and see. Like I said I contacted people I considered close enough to me and told them so most of the people who don’t know probably wouldn’t think twice about anything I might post.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Telling our story and giving back is one of the things we can do to help release the secret, bring it out into the light, and try through our own honesty to help others. Likewise, if we are going to tell our story, I feel like people need to hear both sides, mine from me, and BE’s from him. You are both inspirational! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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