“Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.” – Lou Holtz
I wrote this http://lilyannablu.blogspot.com/2011/01/2010-in-depthmetaphorically-of-course.html (trying to click link this is killing me!) back in January of 2011. I wrote it because I desperately wanted to share what we had been through in our marriage, yet we were not ready to really share what happened in our marriage. I like this post. I took a long time to write it and even a longer time entertaining the thought of hitting the “publish post” button. But I like what I said. I like how it felt to share and I liked the wonderful, amazing and warm feedback I received after sharing it.
Then we got brave and I wrote this (http://lilyannablu.blogspot.com/2011/06/to-share-or-not-to-share_23.html) then it was out there. Like really out there. But I felt the need to explain why we were renewing our vows. Why it was so important to finally invite God in on our marriage. It was a celebration of who we changed to become. I don’t like this writing as much. It is like standing naked on a platform and letting people point out my stretch marks, my thigh dimples, all my insecurities I have, and saying look at this! And I also understand there are people out there who say why post this? Why be naked among others? And I understand their point. Private sin, private confession, but if we all kept quiet about our private sins who could we look to in an effort to make change. You’d look at my family and think; they seem to have it all together she’d never understand what I’m going though. So not true. We all have ugliness lurking behind our closed doors and I think if we share our truths it opens doors for change. So my mentality is if God is gonna give it to me, I am going to share it with you. And like herpes not everyone wants what I am sharing and that is OK, just don’t drink out of my cup. But if you are willing to hear me out and not judge, but just listen you may learn a thing or two about me and maybe even a little about yourself. And I figure God must like my idea of sharing because he keeps giving me crap to share.
Love you God.
So I made mention on my post last June that I would come back and revisit this issue and share with others ways I survived this and I never did. Don’t think I didn’t think of it a million times. I got a lot of feedback on that post and it was all positive. And surprise surprise a lot of people had been in our shoes and appreciated my honesty, which was what I needed to hear, to not feel so naked. I was clothed in support, clothed in love, clothed by Christ’s love. I knew that writing was a good thing. And let me say, nothing I write is without my husband’s knowledge. This is his testimony as well as mine, and I have been there done that with blogs and hurting others with my “what I was just saying how I felt” excuse. We learn, we grow, we change, and what I say is a testimony of our marriage, our family, our love, and our faith.
My intention with this post is to share with those who have found themselves in my shoes and just share some helpful tips/advice (?) I don’t know what it is, just things I wish I knew, or wish I listened to when in the midst of our disaster. I hadn’t touched on this yet because I want what I say to be honestly how I feel. How I act. How I believe. Not some words I read and passed along. I knew I’d be ready to share when I knew I was living what I wanted to say; now I am here. We are 2 years out from that fateful day I read a text that changed our whole future. And I am now at a point where I can honestly say an affair saved our marriage. I can’t believe how far we have come. How far behind us the whole thing is and what it did to us, so now I am ready to share with you. I am hoping to share this with you who are in this place. I encourage this to be forwarded on to someone you know who needs to hear these words. I want to shed some light on someone in a dark place. I want to share tips on how to rise above it and be the best you, you can be. This is not your fault. You will survive. And you can be better for this.
I should mention faith is very real in our lives so I’d like to say if you ain’t down with that don’t read on… but I think you still should anyway.
Also the only thing I am professional in is accounting for our family paint business therefore I am not giving professional advice; I am just sharing wisdom I discovered in my own journey though all this.
Alrighty now with all the disclaimers out of the way, let’s go.
1. You are beautiful. You are smart. You are lovable. You were created in God’s image. He knitted you in your mother’s womb. He knows every hair on your head. You did nothing wrong. This has nothing to do with you. This is not your fault. Remember these words amongst all else.
2. If this is super fresh for you there isn’t much I can say to right now then what is said in number 1. Temporary insanity can be a real defense in crimes of passion (thank you Law.com). Now I am not going to defend you in a court of law if you do something in the heat of the moment, I am simply stating that shows like Snapped are made because this stuff happens. You loose your marbles. I saw red; my memory of that night is red. I said words I had never even thought to say come flying out like bullets. You go nuts. I have no other words for it. I have no advice, but to try not to find yourself in a court of law. Protect yourself and your kids, if you have them. Try try try to not let them hear any of this. The first few days are like nothing else. You just have to remember to eat and try to sleep. Take care of yourself. See if a friend/family can take the kids. I know I tried to be super mom and take them all over to fun places and realized close to dinner time, I never fed them lunch. Take care of yourself.
3. I’d like to say stop playing detective but I know you won’t. What I will say is when you finally put down that cell phone bill is when you can start healing. I know so much easier said than done. Remember I am saying these things purely from my own experiences. I know if is not easy to stop playing detective. But I do mean it when I say when you do stop, you can begin to heal.
4. Protect yourself. Inside all of us is an 8 year old little girl. An impressionable little girl that needs to be protected. Remember her when you are seeking out details. I wish I had remembered my inner breakable little girl. I was like a heat seeking missile when searching for details. When I ended at a dead end I just turned around in a different direction. I wish I had protected myself better. When I got those details I was stuck with images that were impossible to shake. Facts, good. Details, bad. Try to remember when you ask a question, make sure you really want to know the answer.
5. Get help for yourself. Of course I am all for reconciliation, but I am not talking about marriage counseling, I am only talking about you. Seek help. A therapist, a counselor, a pastor, support groups, a lot of big churches have support groups; they may not be widely advertised but definitely worth a google. I can’t tell you the growth I made being a part of a support group with women who knew exactly what I was going through.. Friends are great but know who you are trusting, there are friends who may project their thoughts on you and could guide you in ways when you are vulnerable that may not be ultimately what you want. But if you have someone you trust dearly, respect, and or has been though this already, those are people you should confide in. I have a friend who let me eat pizza, drink a bottle of wine, and snuggle with her in her bed one night. Another friend had me over to do facials, manicures and watch Ghost. (Oh and don’t watch Ghost) Friends who just give you what you need are what you need. The last thing you need is feeling like your story is the top story on the evening news, so be careful with who you trust in such a vulnerable time. You have plenty of time later to share your testimony when you are healed. This time is just about getting you to that place.
6. Sing. Get in your car at night, roll down those windows and sing. I have a playlist of all playlists that are filled with women who have been done wrong. Girl sometimes you just gotta sing.
7. Know when enough is enough and let maturity win over immaturity. Messing with a certain someone on Facebook is OK on the night you are eating pizza and drinking wine, but know when enough is enough. You could go all week texting back and forth but remember drama sucks. End it. Be the bigger person. When dealing with the other person in the equation remember they in most cases knew you existed and didn’t care. They don’t follow girl code. They won’t be nice. Be the bigger person.
8. Triggers. Triggers are very real and can throw off your day, even your week. You can be in a great place and drive down a certain road and boom you are back to day one. Triggers are real. Triggers can happen at a place, watching a movie, hearing a song, seeing a text. They can knock you down. When you are down, pick up your bible. Find yourself lost in his words to us. Get down on your knees and pray. Stop what you are doing and talk to God. Call your friend. Sing worship songs. You have to get yourself out of that dark place and focusing on that trigger won’t do it. Find your inner strength to get through that moment. They happen. They still happen 2 years out for me. They aren’t as fierce and debilitating, but they are still very real. Find a focus and get through it.
9. Forgiveness is more for you than them. It doesn’t matter the status of your marriage, forgiveness is about you. When I finally let go and offered a prayer up for her (the woman that basically saw me standing in the road and drove right over me and left me for dead, yeah her) when I prayed that God show her mercy and to love her was when I felt weight lift off my shoulders. It was funny how my forgiveness to her was harder to give up than to my own husband. The one who lied to me for months, but it was her who I hated most. She knew I existed. She knew I was a mother (like wise), she even knew we had Lily, so as a girl who follows girl code I just couldn’t wrap my mind around someone like her. But eventually I had to come to terms that this had nothing to do with me. It was all about her and in order to get her out of my every thought I had to forgive her, as well as my husband. I read in a book once “Hating someone is like hitting yourself in the head over and over again and expecting them to get the headache”. All that hatred is hurting you. Forgiveness is all about healing you.
10. Hold that tongue. Oh how wicked our tongues can be. I knew that with one whip of it I could send my husband back into his depression of shame and I used it when needed. I knew I shouldn’t, but I had it in my back pocket just waiting until I needed it. Eventually I learned I didn’t need it. I started holding the words on my tongue and at times imagined myself physically swallowing those words until it practically gagged me, but I did it. And over time it got easier and easier to do. Now on those times I want to throw out those words and hit him in the head with them, and 2 years later they still pop up in my mouth, I have maintained power over them. And I don’t necessarily think this is something you have to do only in reconciliation, even if you guys can’t make the marriage work, you still have to be civil adults and name calling has never been a way to act maturely, especially around your kids. Remember this is your issue, not your kids. Don’t bring them into it.
And don’t forget to always go back to number 1
1. You are beautiful. You are smart. You are lovable. You were created in God’s image. He knitted you in your mother’s womb. He knows every hair on your head. You did nothing wrong. This has nothing to do with you. This is not your fault. Remember these words above all else.
Andrew and I made it work because we wanted to. And honestly in the beginning it was because HE wanted to and HE had to do the work for both of us for awhile. It took time for me to be able to even look at him. It was a long road, but when I saw that he was willing to put in the work, I watched him see pastors, learn about God’s work and accept responsibility, I saw there was hope. I saw him hit a bottom that devastated us and I saw him rebuild and I decided to join him. I wanted to make us work because I fell in love with who he was becoming. It was a hard middle phase being in love with your “new” husband and hating your “old” one when they are both the same guy. The road wasn’t easy. We put our time in and worked hard. I had lots of set backs and there were times even up to our vow renewal that I didn’t think I could overcome it. But we did. I accredit a lot to being faithful to God, going to church and absorbing what was being said. We had a service the day after one of our biggest fights (on Andrew’s 29th birthday) and it was about letting go and moving forward in a marriage series and it was a real game changer for us. At the end of the service we let a balloon go and I really attached a lot to that balloon. It was a cleansing moment and a real moment. It was when it clicked that we have to move forward together. We had three kids and a family that we wanted to keep together; we had to find a middle ground. Well I had to find some ground, Andrew was covering it all and I was at times not willing to step anywhere he was. Long road I tell ya. Long.ass.road.
I know not every guy/girl who cheats wants to change and I am sad for those relationships that an affair ends. I wish it could all work out like ours did, but I know it all can’t so I say all these things to help you survive graciously. And maybe even leaving them seeing what an idiot they were and maybe make them eat their heart out. Be gracious. Be merciful. Be classy. Find who you really are. Don’t get lost in all the drama. Believe me if you hold your head up high and remember how amazing you really are, you will be OK.
I am sorry you have to survive this, but these are character building times in our lives, take this time to choose who YOU want to be.
“The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” – Ulysses S. Grant
“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Psalms 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.