When Your Husband is Unfaithful

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Daughter of Hope -Unfaithful4By A Daughter of Hope

Trigger Warning: Description of Infidelity and Reference to Pornography

Hard things are too hard. I’m sitting here, staring at the ceiling in the counseling room of the church. A room I’d dreamed I’d be doing the counseling in, not being counseled. The ceiling is ugly, mottled and full of cracks and holes, like my heart right now … like my mind. I thought it was over—15 years ago he told me it was over. He promised. He said he was sorry, he’d never do it again. He said, Please forgive me. I’ve learned not to take any stock in his promises.

He’s broken every promise he ever made to me.

I found pictures today …. Not the pretty kind—and it’s almost worse, that this is the way I found out—again. Photography is my safe zone, my art, my worship, and now it feels dirty, ugly and shameful. He took pictures of himself—his male parts—and emailed them to someone. There were photos of her female parts, and also, unfortunately photos of her face, and herself in vacation shots, so obviously not just a passing fling; ironic that I actually believed that could be better.

It feels real again, just as it was starting to fade, and I hate it. It hurts. It actually physically hurts. There is a piercing in my heart and nausea in my center. Gravity has shifted, and I stumble. Stomach growling, but I can’t eat. Exhausted, but I can’t sleep. An escalation of the ten-plus years of clinical depression I’ve been trying to hide, and the anxiety that is always present. I sit, staring, silent, because stillness is all I have. I can’t move for fear of breaking.

But I have to move, the children need me. There is no one else. And once again I will do …. nothing.

I need him to be their father, I need the children to feel loved, safe, happy. I will not destroy them like he has destroyed me. The Earth keeps turning, I hear life happening all around. I am dead inside, but must pretend, for their sakes, to have life.

Five hours later I am sitting in my van, waiting for the little ones to finish class. So still I’m near catatonic. I am not sure how I am going to make it through the next two hours until I can tuck them into bed and have another hard confrontation/conversation.

“Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard … Even when it all just falls apart … I will run to you, for I know that you are … lover of my soul, healer of my heart ….” The Kari Jobe song runs through my head.

Worry? Check. Fear? Yes.

Why have I stayed so long? The easy answer is, for the children … the hard answer … also obvious if I take a moment to think: fear.

FEAR … Always fear. Fear of abandonment, fear of having no way to care for my family, fear mostly for the state of my children’s hearts. There is more fear, than love now, in this equation.

Since childhood I’ve known the scripture: Perfect love casts out fear. —1 John 4:18

So even though I’ve lived with the spectre of fear over my shoulder my whole life, I’ve known … KNOWN …. It wasn’t right. As a child, I was not afraid. I was talking about this with my mother recently, remembering a time when we went camping as a family and the drive took longer than expected … it was pitch dark when we approached the final ascent up to the campground. My siblings and I were relaxed in the back of the station wagon, half asleep. I remember hushed, possibly worried conversation up front, but no one was worried in the back.

In the morning, when we could see the road we’d traversed in the dark, we were terrified. One side of the road was a cliff—straight up—the other side a drop, many, many hundreds, maybe thousands of feet down. Straight down, nothing to break our fall, and if that trailer we’d been hauling had moved from the path just an inch, we would have been pulled over the cliff. Nothing we could have done. No one could have survived that fall. The dirt track was barely wide enough for one vehicle. Good thing we did not meet anyone coming down that night. But I wasn’t worried. We stayed in the middle of the road, where it was safe, and we made it up that mountain. I was safe in my father’s hands, and I was free of worry. My love of him, trust of him, cast out any potential fear. So the spectre of fear has hovered, in the wings, but the fear was mainly just of losing the ones I loved so very, very deeply. I thought if I controlled all I could, I could keep the outcome—of everything—favorable.

It is obvious to me, now, that my lack of trust—my fear—is my problem. God hasn’t moved away, God hasn’t changed. Jesus still loves me, this I know. God still has me safe in the palm of his hand, so I need to trust that he has an outcome for me that will work for the good of His kingdom. It certainly does not feel good right now, but I suppose that’s where faith comes in.

The “perfect love” that casts out fear is not mine, it’s not my husbands, or even my earthly fathers. It’s my Heavenly Father’s love. God’s love—shown through Jesus—that is perfect love, which has the power to cast out fear: fear of man, fear of any earthly or even heavenly thing.

So I was safe in my father’s car, because he was safely in the middle of the safe path. It’s when we divert from the safe pathway, that we get into trouble. And sometimes, like in that situation, if someone close to you diverts from the path, you get hurt—wounded—killed. So, sometimes even when you are doing your level best to follow God’s will and stay on the path and do the right things, you get hammered by someone else’s choices. But still I will trust in the greatness of my God who will eventually—that is the key word—eventually , work it for good.

I’m writing outside now, 24 hours after the discovery.

Do you know, if you sit still enough the flies will land on you? Maybe the flies think I’m dead. Maybe they can sense my heart. Danny Gokey’s song “Tell your heart to beat again” was playing when I got in the van to come to my safe, processing space. And the next song after that was “Forgiveness” …

So what do you do—what do you do—when you are walking the straight and narrow road as well as you can? What do you do when you get sideswiped and knocked off the path by that guy who was blasting down the wide road at 120 miles an hour and flipped his car, landing on you, obliterating you, and your path? What do you do when you are down in the ditch, a deep, deep ditch with cold water turning your blood into ice and you are broken and bleeding out, and there is no one up there? No emergency services, no lifeline? And you cry out until you have no voice, then you sit … still … life draining away, and wonder, How did I get here? Why me? What did I do that was so bad I deserved this? I am collateral damage. It is not fair.

I know Jesus did not ever ever say life would be fair. Life certainly was not fair for Jesus, and if I am to emulate HIM, what do I do now? Now, crying out from the bottom of the freezing pit, the blackness closing in … what? …. Jesus cried out to his Father – He cried out to Him in the garden, sweating blood – before – and he cried out on the cross – after – and now He has His rightful place at the throne – perfect, whole, white, clean- radiant. Perhaps, I, too will have to wait to be radiant again. For now, I will reach out and take hold of the lifeline Jesus throws to me when He says “I am with you, to the very end …”

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of his glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever, amen. —Jude 24-25

I tell myself: He is able to keep you. He is able to keep you. He is able to keep you, hold you together, mind, body, spirit … He is able to give you beauty for ashes, strength for weakness, joy for sadness. He can remove your spirit of heaviness, no matter what the cause. Please know you are not alone, please know that you are loved—deeply, with abandon. Reach out and give voice to your pain, put into words your sorrow. Trust just one person, to remind yourself it is real, to acknowledge you still exist—in whatever form you presently take. Be willing to receive love and encouragement, prayer and blessing. And know that no matter what HE is with you. He didn’t promise a pain-free life, but He did promise to go through it with us. You are not alone.

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  • Thank you.
    Thank you for this psalm of lament about a life you didn’t bargain for — and a God who is present. Praying that this beautifully worded anthem to the faithfulness of God will be worked out in your life a hundred-fold: the keeping, the standing, the joy.

  • Donna Meredith Dixon

    DEAR daughter of hope… I am sorry beyond measure for all you
    are experiencing now. And have been through these years… even when you did not
    know … for sure. I am also so very proud of you for bringing your story ‘here’ …
    it shows your courage, right alongside your fear, grief, and confusion. I thank
    you for showing up here. In one way or another I’ve walked alongside women who’ve
    experienced betrayal trauma for the past ten years. After starting my own
    healing as a daughter of hope, I met other sisters like you.

    Unfortunately, with the stats on pornography use, sexual
    integrity struggles and sexual addiction, the number of women often sit in
    silence with their pain, and receive further wounding from their churches and
    unfortunately, the helping professions who are unaware of the trauma partners
    experience.

    A growing number of Christian partners are becoming coaches
    or therapists, helping other women as they move through the aftermath of
    stories like yours. As a trainer, I created a peer-facilitator training guide
    for women who want to lead a partners group in or through their local church or
    community, as well as offer online or in person training. Your articles title –
    and your oh-so-tender and profoundly intimate expressions behind it – caught my
    immediate attention. My book is A Door of Hope: Peer Facilitator Training
    (Helping Women Heal After Sexual Betrayal)

    If you – or anyone reading your article – are looking for
    resources please feel free to email me at donna@lifeisahead.com.
    There IS hope.

  • Connie Spiegel

    Oh dear one, how I hear your heartache and plea for meaning in such a tumultuous time of betrayal. Your quote: “Perhaps, I, too will have to wait to be radiant again” deeply touched my soul. My life has been tainted by immorally and by God’s grace I am finding healing. Your brave beautiful voice will be a healing balm to many who are suffering alone and I thank you for your vulnerable truth. Sending love straight to your heart!
    Your sister in Christ,
    Connie@reconciledrelationships.com

  • Sue Hay

    Thank you for your courage. Thank you for the gift you have created by breaking the silence that accompanies this shame-filled addiction. Your vulnerability is precious and I honour the Risk you have taken here.💔

  • What an amazing space, SheLoves, to give space for things like this that are painful and true.

  • Friend of Daughter of Hope

    Heart is broken for you. You are not alone.

  • Tracy Nelson

    I found several articles on fightthenewdrug.org … the organization is excellent – it considers pornography a drug. The articles are “Trauma and Betrayal”, and “It’s okay not to be okay”. – Also a book called “Post Infidelity Stress Disorder”, by Dennis Ortman PhD. – He treats it like a type of PTSD, an aid to recover from abuse, which it really is.